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*' La revolution populaire etait la surface d'un volcan 
de conjurations etrangeres." — Saint Just. 






First published 1919 

Second Edition 1919 

Reprinted 1920 


Astrologers tell us that the history of the world moves in 
cycles ; that from time to time the same forces arise producing 
eras that strangely resemble one another. Between these eras 
a close affinity exists, and so it is that we, in looking back to 
the past from the world crisis of to-day, reaUze that periods 
which in times of peace have soothed or thrilled us have now 
lost their meaning, that the principles which inspired them 
have no place in our philosophy. The Renaissance is dead ; 
the Reformation is dead ; even the great wars of bygone days 
seem dwarfed by the immensity of the recent conflict. But 
whilst the roar of battle dies down another sound is heard — the 
angry murmur that arose in 1789 and that, though momentarily 
hushed, has never lost its force. Once more we are in the cycle 
of revolution. 

The French Revolution is no dead event ; in turning over 
the contemporary records of those tremendous days we feel 
that we are touching live things ; from the yellowed pages voices 
call to us, voices that still vibrate with the passions that stirred 
them more than a century ago — here the desperate appeal for 
Uberty and justice, there the trumpet - call of " King and 
Country " ; now the story told with tears of death faced gloriously, 
now a maddened scream of rage against a fellow-man. When 
in all the history of the world until the present day has human 
nature shown itself so terrible and so subUme ? And is not the 
fascination that amazing epoch has ever since exercised over the 
minds of men owing to the fact that the problems it held are 
still unsolved, that the same movements which originated with 
it are still at work amongst us ? " What we learn to-day from 
the study of the Great Revolution," the anarchist Prince 
Kropotkin wrote in 1908, " is that it was the source and origin 
of all the present communist, anarchist, and socialist conceptions/' 


Indeed Kropotkin goes so far as to declare that " up till now, 
modern socialism has added absolutely nothing to the ideas that 
were circulating among the French people between 1789 and 
1794, and which it was tried to put into practice in the year 11. 
of the RepubUc {i.e. in the Reign of Terror). Modem socialism 
has only systematised those ideas and found arguments in their 
favour," etc. Now since the French Revolution still remains 
the one and only occasion in the history of the world when those 
theories were put into practice on a large scale, and carried out to 
their logical conclusion — for the experiment in Russia is as yet 
unfinished — it is surely worth while to know the true facts about 
that first upheaval. So far, in England, the truth is not known ; 
we have not even been told what really happened. "As to a 
real history of the French Revolution," Lord Cromer wrote 
to me a few months before his death, " no such thing exists in 
the English language, for Carlyle, besides being often very 
inaccurate and prejudiced, produced merely a philosophical 
rhapsody. It is well worth reading, but it is not history." Yet 
it is undoubtedly on Carlyle's rhapsody that our national con- 
ceptions of the Revolution are founded ; the great masterpiece 
of Dickens was built up on this mythological basis, whilst the 
old histories of Alison and Morse Stephens, and even the illumin- 
ating Essays of Croker, lack the power to rouse the popular 
imagination.! Thus the legend created by Carlyle has never 
been dispelled. 

During the last few years the French Revolution has become 
less a subject for historical research than the theme of the 
popular joumaUst who sees in that lurid period material to 
be written up with profit. This being so, accuracy plays no 
part in his scheme. For the art of successful journalism is not 

^ * No English writer was better acquainted with the dessous des cartes 

of the French Revolution than John Wilson Croker, Bom in 1780, he 
talked with people who had taken part in the movement, and spent many 
years in forming and studying the magnificent collections of revolutionary 
pamphlets that he afterwards sold to the British Museum. In 18 16 the 
pubUsher, John Murray, offered him the sum of 2500 guineas to write the 
complete history of the Revolution, but Croker never found time to do 
this, and his Essays, reprinted from the Quarterly Review, are all that he 
has left us of his stores of knowledge. These, though too controversial to 
appeal to the general public, throw more light on the hidden causes of the 
revolutionary movement than any book in the English language. 


to illuminate the public mind but to reflect it, to tell it in even 
stronger terms what it thinks already, and therefore to confirm 
rather than to dispel popular delusions. 

But if the Revolution is to be regarded as the supreme 
experiment in democracy, if its principles are to be held up 
for our admiration and its methods advocated as an example 
to our own people, is it not time that some effort were made 
to counteract that " conspiracy of history " that in France also, 
as M. Gustave Bord points out, has hitherto concealed the real 
facts concerning it ? Shall we not at last cease from rhapsody 
and consider the matter calmly and scientifically in its effects 
on the people ? This, after aU, is the main issue — how was the 
experiment a success from the people's point of view ? Strangely 
enough, though it was in their cause that the Revolution was 
ostensibly made, the people are precisely the portion of the 
nation that by RoyaHst and Revolutionary writers aUke have 
been most persistently overlooked — the RoyaUsts occupjdng 
themselves mainly with the trials of the monarchy and aristo- 
cracy, the Revolutionaries losing themselves in panegyrics on 
the popular leaders. Thus Michelet was a Dantoniste, Louis 
Blanc a Robespierriste ; Lamartine was a Girondiste ; Thiers and 
Mignet were Orleanistes, not only as historians but as poUticians, 
for their exoneration of the Due d'Orleans was only a part of their 
policy for placing his son Louis Philippe on the throne of France, — 
and consequently to all these men the people were a matter only 
of secondary importance. So far no one has written the history of 
the movement from the point of view of the people themselves. 

In studjdng the Revolution as an experiment in democracy, 
we must clear our minds of all predilections for certain individuals. 
Just as the author of a treatise on the discovery of tuberculin 
or on the antidote to hydrophobia devotes no space to recording 
the sufferings of the unhappy guinea-pigs and rabbits sacrificed 
in the cause of science, or in dilating on the virtuous private life 
of Koch or Pasteur, but concerns himself solely with the exact 
process adopted and the symptoms exhibited by the subjects 
with a view to proving or disproving the ef&cacy of the serums 
employed, so, if we would examine the Revolution as a scientific 
experiment. King, noblesse, and revolutionary leaders alike must 
be considered only in their relation to the cause of democracy ; 
we must concern ourselves with the people only, with the ills 



from which they suffered, with the means employed for their 
reUef , with the part they themselves played in the great movement, 
and finaUy the results that were achieved. By this means alone 
we shall do justice to that brave and brilliant people by whose 
side we have fought to-day ; we shall come to understand that 
they were not the bUnd unreasoning herd portrayed by Taine, 
the enraged " hyenas " of Horace Walpole, nor yet, as revolu- 
tionary writers would have us beUeve, a nation of slaves brought 
by long years of oppression to a pitch of exasperation that found 
a vent in the crimes and horrors of the Revolution. 

It is on this last theory that popular opinion in England on 
the Revolution is founded, and that might, I think, be epitomized 
thus : " The French Revolution was in itself a purely beneficial 
movement, inspired by the desire for Uberty and justice : un- 
happily it went too far and produced excesses which, though 
deplorable, were nevertheless the unavoidable accompaniment 
to the regeneration of the country." Now this statement is 
as illogical as it is unjust ; how could a movement that was 
purely beneficial " go too f ar " ? How could the desire of the 
people for Uberty and justice be carried to excess and produce 
cruelty and bloodshed such as the civilized world had never 
seen before ? If this were true, then the only opinion at which 
a thinking human being could arrive would be that the French 
Revolution was the reductio ad dbsurdum of the proposition 
of democracy, a proposition that, once worked out to its tragic 
and grotesque conclusion, should have proved for all time that 
to give power into the hands of the people is to create a tyranny 
more terrible than any despotism can produce. But it was not 
so ; it was not the desire of the people for liberty and justice 
that produced these horrors ; it was not the movement for reform 
that " went too far " ; the crimes and excesses of the Revolution 
sprang from totally distinct and extraneous causes that must 
be understood if justice is to be done to the people of France. 
It is by the revolutionary writers that the people have been 
most maUgned, for since, as I have pointed out, these writers 
were not the advocates of the people but of certain revolutionary 
leaders, their method is to absolve their heroes from all blame and 
heap the whole responsibihty upon the people. For this purpose 
a legend has been woven around all the great outbreaks of the 
Revolution and the r61e of the people persistently misrepresented. 


Now if we study carefully the course of the revolutionary 
movement we shall find that the role of the people is in the 
main passive ; only on these great days of tumult do they play 
an active part. Between these outbreaks the fire of revolution 
smoulders, at moments almost flickers out, then suddenly for 
no apparent reason bursts again into flame, and it is only by 
long and patient search amongst contemporary documents that 
we can begin to understand the causes of these conflagrations. 
*' The popular Revolution, *' said St. Just, " was the surface of 
a volcano of extraneous conspiracies/' and consequently the 
actions of the people seen from the surface only can never be 
understood. Thus the story of the Revolution, as it is usually 
told us, with its pointless crimes, its unreasoning violence, and 
its hideous waste of life, is simply unintelligible — " a tale told 
by an idiot, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing." 

If, then, we would discover the truth about these great revolu- 
tionary outbreaks, we must dig down far below the surface, 
we must trace the connection between the mine and the ex- 
plosion, between the actions of the people and the causes that 
provoked them.^ For, as Mr. Croker truly observed, " It is 
doubtless a very remarkable — ^though hitherto very little re- 
marked — feature of the whole Revolution, that not one, not a 
single one, of the tumults which now had its successive stages, 
from the Affaire Reveillon to the September massacres, had any 
real connection with the pretext under which it was executed." 
These great moments of crisis, five in number, are Uke the five 
acts of a tremendous drama ; through them all we see the same 
methods at work, the same actors under different disguises, the 
same tangled threads of intrigue leading up to the tremendous 
cataclysm of the Terror. The Siege of the Bastille — the March on 

^ Lord Acton in his Essays on the French Revolution apparently caught 
a stray gUmmer of this truth when he wrote these words : " The appaUing 
thing in the French Revolution is not the tumult but the design. Through 
all the fire and smoke we perceive the evidence of calculating organization. 
The managers remain studiously concealed and masked ; but there is no 
doubt about their presence from the first. They had been active in the 
riots of Paris, and they were again active in the provincial risings." Having 
delivered himself, however, of this profound reflection. Lord Acton seems 
to have lost it from sight, for he proceeds to describe all the tumults of 
the Revolution without any further reference to organization or design — 
his chief concern being to absolve all the leaders from complicity. 


Versailles — ^the two Invasions of the Tuileries — the Massacres of 
September — and finally the Reign of Terror — these form the 
history of the French people throughout the Revolution. The 
object of this book is, therefore, to relate as accurately as con- 
flicting evidence permits the true facts about each great crisis, to 
explain the motives that inspired the crowds, the means employed 
to rouse their passions, and thereby to throw a truer Ught on the 
rdle of the people, and ultimately on the Revolution as the great 
experiment in democracy. 


An immense advantage offered to the historian by the modem 
and popular way of writing history lies in the fact that he is 
able to dispense with any reference to the authorities he has 
consulted. Both pubUc and critics object to notes and quota- 
tions which interrupt the flow of the narrative ; therefore notes 
and quotation marks have gone out of fashion. This convenient 
plan not only facilitates enormously the author's task, since it 
enables him to write down anything that comes into his head 
without troubling to remember where he read it, but also pro- 
vides the unscrupulous historian with unlimited scope for mis- 
representation, for by pandering to this popular prejudice he is 
able to propound theories absolutely at variance with fact, to 
attribute to historical personages sentiments they never enter- 
tained, and even words they never uttered, and so to present a 
period in precisely the colours that best suit his purpose. 

In this book, however, at the risk of giving to its pages a 
ponderous appearance, I have reverted to the old-fashioned 
system of notes, since my object is not to weave fanciful word- 
pictures around the great scenes of the Revolution, but to tell 
as simply and clearly as possible what really happened. Now 
since the whole story of these great revolutionary days is a series 
of disputed points, no book on the subject is of the slightest 
historical value that does not give chapter and verse for every 
controversial statement. Further, it is essential to indicate the 
poUtical faction to which the authorities quoted belonged, and 
also the value of their evidence. For to condemn an individual 
or a party on the word of their enemies, or to absolve them on 
the testimony of their accomplices, is as absurd as if one were 
to accept evidence at a trial without inquiring into the identities 
of the witnesses. Criminology plays no small part in under- 
standing the true causes of the revolutionary outbreaks, and for 
this purpose contemporaries alone must be consulted, and the 
identity of these contemporaries must be clearly defined. The 
following resume will show the political standpoint of the authori- 
ties quoted most frequently throughout the course of this book, 
whilst the poUcy of those referred to on particular events will be 
given in the context : — 



1 . Histoire de la Rivolution par Deux A mis de la Liherti, in nineteen 
volumes. — The first six volumes, violently revolutionary in tone 
and filled with grotesque fables current at the time, have been attri- 
buted to the bookseller ClaveUn, and to Kerverseau, but this surmise 
rests on no evidence whatever (see Bibliographie de la Revolution, by 
Maurice Toumeux, i. 3). Montjoie stated that the work was dictated 
and paid for by the Due d'Orleans {Conjuration de d'Orleans, ii. 97), 
and it is no doubt strongly Orleaniste in its point of view. After 
the sixth volume, however, it makes a complete volte-face and 
becomes moderate, even Royahst in opinion, and at the same time less 
interesting. As an anonymous pubUcation the history of the Deux 
Amis carries none of the weight that attaches to signed work, but 
since it was on the early part of the series that Carlyle mainly based 
his account of the first stages of the Revolution, and also his accusa- 
tions against the Old Regime, it should be read if one would reaUze 
how flimsy was the evidence that Carlyle bUndly accepted as the 

2. The Moniteur, a journal edited by Panckoucke, first made its 
appearance on November 24, 1789. The numbers relating to events 
anterior to this date were written up afterwards, and the accounts 
of the great revolutionary tumults in July 1 789 are copied verbatim 
from the Deux Amis. Its poUcy throughout the Revolution is 
always that of the dominating party — at first Orl6aniste, then 
Girondiste, and finally Montagnard. 

3. Prudhomme. — The paper known as RSvolutions de Paris, 
pubUshed weekly throughout the whole course of the Revolution by 
this indefatigable joumaUst, is the most genuinely democratic record 
of the period, since it attaches itself to no poUtical party, but identifies 
itself with the revolutionary element amongst the people and 
supports the demagogues only as representative of the popular cause. 
Later on, however, Prudhomme reahzed that he had been duped 
by these men, and in his Histoire impartiale des Crimes et des Erreurs 
de la Revolution Frangaise, pubhshed in 1797, completely gave away 
his former associates and showed up the intrigues of the Revolution 
more thoroughly than any Royalist has done. The former work 
— Les Revolutions de Paris — is freely quoted by revolutionary 
writers ; on the second — Crimes de la Revolution — they are strangely 

4. The Histoire Parlementaire, by Buchez et Roux, contains 
reports of the debates that took place in the Assembly (mainly 
abbreviated from the Moniteur), and also in the Jacobin Club, 
besides reprints of various contemporary pamphlets, etc. But the 
opinion of the authors, strongly biassed in favour of the revolution- 
ary leaders rather than of the people, should be accepted with 



1. Montjoie. — F61ix Christophe Louis Ventre de la Touloubre 
(i 756-1816), known as Galart de Montjoie (or Montjoye), was the 
author of an Histoire de la Revolution de France et de I'Assemblee 
Nationale which appeared in the RoyaUst journal L'Ami du Roi, 
of a history of the Orleaniste conspiracy, Histoire de la Conjuration 
de Louis Philippe Joseph d' Orleans (1796), and of an inferior work, 
L' Histoire de la Conjuration de Maximilien Robespierre. Montjoie 
as an eye-witness of the earher revolutionary tumults is extremely 
interesting, but owing to his violent animosity towards the Orleanistes 
his accusations against them should not be accepted unless confirmed 
by other contemporary evidence. In most instances, however, this 
is forthcoming. Both by Taine and by Jules Flammermont, a 
strongly revolutionary writer, Montjoie is regarded as an important 
authority on the period.^ 

2. Beauheu. — Claude Fran9ois Beaulieu (1754- 1827) edited 
several papers during the Revolution, and, according to Dauban, 
was the author of the Diurnal, of which Dauban reprinted a 
large part in La Demagogie d Paris en 1793. But this is not 
conclusively proved. In 1803 Beaulieu published his history of 
the French Revolution in six volumes, entitled Essais historiques 
sur les Causes et les Effets de la Revolution de France. This is un- 
doubtedly the best contemporary work on the subject, and is quoted 
by historians of every party. Although a Royalist, Beaulieu 
displays the greatest impartiality ; he advances nothing without 
proof. Personally acquainted with most of the leading Revolu- 
tionaries, he speaks of what he himself saw and heard, and never 
allows himself, hke Montjoie, to be carried away by his feelings. 
Beaulieu was arrested on the 29th of October 1793, and imprisoned 
first at the Conciergerie, then at the Luxembourg, from which he 

1 " Montjoie is a party man, but he dates and specifies, and his evidence, 
when elsewhere confirmed, deserves to be admitted " (Taine, La Revolu- 
tion, iii. 37). M. Flammermont draws an interesting comparison between 
Montjoie and the Deux Amis de la Liberti, pointing out that the latter is 
in reality a patchwork of current rumours, the authors "have no settled 
system, they have not criticized each of the sources of which they have 
made use ; on every point they content themselves with choosing the 
version which seems to them most likely, thereby arriving at the strangest 
contradictions. . . . En risume, this considerable work has no original 
value, at any rate for the narrative of the 14th of July. In Galart de 
Montjoye we meet at last a man who has the courage of his opinions, and 
who signs his work, which was not without danger at the period when he 
published it. Indeed, he loudly proclaims he is a RoyaHst, and takes up 
his stand as a declared adversary of the Revolution, but at the same time 
he is nearly always moderate in his language, and he takes pains to support 
his opinions and his judgements by the most authoritative testimony " 
{La JournSe du 14 Juillet, p. cxxxvii). See also the opinion of the English 
contemporary, John Adolphus, Biographical Memoirs of the French Revolu- 
tion, ii. 205. 


was released after the fall of Robespierre. Between 1813 and 1827 
he collaborated with Michaud in compihng the great Biographie 
Universelle, for which he wrote articles on several of the Revolu- 
tionaries he had known. 

3. Ferridres. — The Memoires of the Marquis de Ferrieres, though 
more frequently quoted by English writers than the Essais de 
Beaulieu, are of far less original value, as they are largely composed 
of quotations from the writings of other contemporaries. Ferrieres 
was a disaffected noble, and, although a Royalist, does not err on the 
side of over-indulgence for the Court, but as an ardent anti-Orleaniste 
throws an interesting hght on the intrigue at work behind the earUer 
revolutionary movement. 

The above are the authorities mainly consulted for the 
purpose of this book ; the evidence of historians is only quoted 
in the case of those who had access to the archives of France or 
other contemporary documents not to be found in this country. 
In this respect Taine, Granier de Cassagnac, Mortimer Temaux, 
Edmond Bire, Gustave Bord, Chassin, Dauban, Wallon, Cam- 
pardon, and Adolphe Schmidt are particularly valuable. The 
opinion of M. Louis Madehn is also occasionally referred to as 
being founded on the most recent researches, and as representing 
the last word in modem French thought on the vexed questions 
of the Revolution. 




Authorities consulted 




The Siege of the Bastille 


The March on Versailles 


The Invasion of the Tuileries 


The Siege of the Tuileries 


The Massacres of September 


The Reign of Terror 



. 483 




. 507 


The Bastille 

The Chateau of Versailles 

The Tuileries 

To face 76 





Before attempting to describe the outbreaks of the Revolution, 
it is necessary to indicate as briefly as possible the ills from which 
the people were suffering, the reforms that they demanded, and, 
on the other hand, the influences at work amongst them which 
diverted the movement for reform into the chajinel of revolution. 


Nearly every author in embarking on the story of the Revolu- 
tion has considered it de rigueur to enlarge on the progress of 
philosophy that heralded the movement. The oppressions that 
had prevailed during the reigns of Louis XIV. and Louis XV. 
had, we are told, been endured in a spirit of dumb resignation 
until the teaching of Rousseau, Diderot, and other social reformers 
proclaimed to the nation that they need be endured no longer. 
If we regard the Revolution from the point of view of the people, 
this time-honoured preamble may, however, be dispensed with. 
Doubtless the philosophers played an important part in preparing 
the Revolution, but their direct influence was confined to the 
aristocracy and the educated bourgeoisie ; to the peasant tilling 
the soil, the Encyclopedia and the Contrat Social were of less 
pressing interest than the condition of his crop and the profit of 
his labour. How the abuses of the Old Regime affected him in 
this tangible respect we can read in Arthur Young's Travels, in 
Albert Babeau's Le Village sous VAncien Regime, or in the works 
of Taine, where all the injustices of tallies, capitaineries, corvees, 
gabelles, etc., are set forth categorically, and are too weU known 
to be enumerated here. Sufiice it to say, these oppressions were 
many and grievous, but they sprang less from intentional tyranny 
than from an obsolete system that demanded readjustment. 
Thus certain customs that originated in benevolence had, through 
the progress of civiUzation, become oppressive — the liberty to 
grind at the seigneur's mill had become the obligation to grind 
at the seigneur's mill, whilst many feudal exactions and personal 
services were merely relics of the days when rent was paid in 



kind or in labour. It is evident, moreover, that many of these 
feudal oppressions that look so terrible on paper had fallen into 
disuse ; thus, although the parchments enumerating the sei- 
gneurial rights were still in existence, "the power of the seigneurs 
over the persons of their vassals only existed in romances " at 
the time of the Revolution.^ In every ancient civilization 
strange archaic laws might be discovered— does not our own legal 
code enact that a man may beat his wife with any weapon no 
thicker than his thumb ? but so far the women of England have 
not found it necessary to rise in revolt against this extraordinary 

For the peasant of France the most real grievances were un- 
doubtedly the inequaUty of taxation and the " capitaineries " or 
game-laws, monstrous injustices that crippled his energies and 
often made his labour vain. Yet were the peasants of old France 
the wretched, down-trodden beings that certain historians have 
described them? The strange thing is that no contemporary 
evidence corroborates this theory; in none of the letters or 
memoirs written before the Revolution, even by such advanced 
thinkers as Rousseau and Madame Roland, do we encounter the 
starving scarecrows of the villages or the ragged spectres of the 
Faubourg Saint-Antoine portrayed by Dickens ; on the contrary, 
gaiety seems to have been the distinguishing characteristic of the 
people. The dancing peasants of Watteau and Lancret were no 
figments of an artist's brain, but very charming reahties described 
by every traveller. Arthur Young, who has been persistently 
represented as the great opponent of the Ancien Regime, records 
few actual instances of misery or oppression, and, as we shall see. 
Young was later on led to reconstruct his views on the old govern- 
ment of France in a pamphlet which has been carefully ignored 
by writers who quote his earUer work in support of their theories. 

But the most remarkable evidence on peasant life before the 
Revolution is to be found in the letters of Dr. Rigby, who travelled 
in France during the summer of 1789. This curious book, 
pubHshed for the first time in 1880, aroused less attention in 
England than in France, where it was regarded as an important 
contribution to the history of the period.2 The accounts if 

* Mimoires du Chancelier Pasquier, p. 46. 

2 See, for example, the opinion of the pro-revolutionary writer M Tules 
Flammermont in his Journie du 14 Juillet : " Another witness of this sur- 
prising revolution (the revolution of July 1789) is Dr. Rigby, whom the 
chances of travel brought to France and kept in Paris during these glorious 
S!' . '! ^^^^""^ *° ^'^ "^^^ ^^^°^ valuable evidence of which neither the 

authenticity nor the impartiality can be disputed He was a practical 

agriculturist and at the same time a man of science, and his letters, though 
?!!^^^V^ optimistic, make the counterpart to the criticisms of 

Arthur Young, who saw the dark side of everything " 


contains are so subversive of the accepted theories on peasant 
misery current in this country, and have been so little quoted, 
that a few extracts must be given here. 

Between Calais and Lille " the most striking character of 
the country " through which Dr. Rigby passed was its extra- 
ordinary fertility : " We went through an extent of seventy miles, 
and I will venture to say there was not a single acre but what was 
in a state of the highest cultivation. The crops are beyond any 
conception I could have had of them — thousands and ten thou- 
sands of acres of wheat superior to any which can be produced 
in England. . . . 

" The general appearance of the people is different to what 
I expected ; they are strong and well-made. We saw many 
agreeable scenes as we passed along in the evening before we came 
to Lisle : little parties sitting at their doors, some of the men 
smoking, some playing at cards in the open air, and others 
spinning cotton. Everything we see bears the marks of industry, 
and all the people look happy. We have indeed seen few signs of 
opulence in individuals, for we do not see so many gentlemen's 
seats as in England, but then we have seen few of the lower classes 
in rags, idleness, and misery. What strange prejudices we are 
apt to take regarding foreigners ! . . . 

" What strikes me most in what I have seen is the wonderful 
difference between this country and England . . . the difference 
seems to be in favour of the former ; if they are not happy, they 
look at least very Hke it. . . ." Throughout the whole course of 
his journey across France Dr. Rigby continues in the same strain 
of admiration — an admiration that we might attribute to lack 
of discernment were it not that it ceases abruptly on his entry 
into Germany. Here he finds " a country to which Nature has 
been equally kind as to France, for it has a fertile soil, but as 
yet the inhabitants hve under an oppressive government." At 
Cologne he finds that " tyranny and oppression have taken up 
their abode. . . . There was a gloom and an appearance of disease 
in almost every man's face we saw ; their persons also look filthy. 
The state of wretchedness in which they live seems to deprive 
them of every power of exertion . . . the whole country is divided 
between the Archbishop and the King of Prussia . . . the land is 
uncultivated and depopulated. How every country and every 
people we have seen since we left France sink in comparison with 
that animated country I " It is evident that, however rose-coloured 
was Dr. Rigby's view of France, the French people had certainly 
not reached that pitch of " exasperation " that according to 
certain historians would account for the excesses of the Revolu- 
tion. Lady Eastlake, Dr. Rigby's daughter, who edited these 
letters from France, fearing apparently that her father will be 


accredited with telling travellers' tales, attempts in the preface 
to explain his remarks by quoting the observation of De Tocque- 
ville : " One must not be deceived by the gaiety the Frenchnian 
displays in his greatest troubles, it only proves that, believing 
his unhappy fate to be inevitable, he tries to distract himself by 
not thinking about it — ^it is not that he does not feel it." This 
might possibly describe the attitude of the French people towards 
their government during the centuries that preceded the Revolu- 
tion, when, convinced of their impotence to revolt, they resigned 
themselves to oppression ; but at the period Dr. Rigby describes 
the work of reform had long since begun and they had therefore 
no cause for hopelessness or despair. Louis XVI. had not waited 
for the gathering of the revolutionary storm in order to redress 
the evils from which the people suffered ; in the very first year 
of his reign he had embarked on the work of reform with 
the co-operation of Turgot and Malesherbes. In 1775 he had 
attempted to introduce the free circulation of grain — thereby en- 
raging the monopoUzers who in revenge stirred up the " Guerre 
de Farines " ; in 1776 he had proposed the suppression of the 
corv6e which the opposition of the Parlements prevented; ^ 
in 1779 he had abolished all forms of servitude in his domains, 
inviting " all seigneurs of fiefs and communities to follow his 
example " ; in 1780 he had abolished torture ; in 1784 he had 
accorded hberty of conscience to the Protestants ; in 1787 he had 
proposed the equaUty of territorial taxation, the suppression of 
the gabelle or salt tax, and again urged the aboUtion of the 
corvee and the free circulation of grain ; in 1787 and 1788 he 
had proposed reforms in the administration of justice, the equal 
admission of citizens of every rank to all forms of emplo5nTient, 
the aboUtion of lettres de cachet, and greater liberty of the 
press. Meanwhile he had continued to reduce the expenses of 
his household and had reformed the prisons and hospitals. 
Finally on August 8, 1788, he had announced the assembling of 
the States-General, at which he accorded double representation 
to the Tiers l^tats. 

In this spring of 1789 the French people had therefore every 
reason to feel hopeful of the future and to believe that now at 
last all their wrongs would be redressed. Had not the King sent 
out a proclamation to the whole nation saying, " His Majesty 
has desired that in the extremities of his kingdom and in the 

* The Parlements, which played an active part in the revolutionary 
movement, had proved continually obstructive to the King's schemes of 
reform, and it was they, as well as the monopohzers, who had opposed the 
free circulation of grain. " It must appear strange," wrote Arthur Young, 
"ma government so despotic in some respects as that of France, to see the 
parUaments in every part of the kingdom making laws without the King's 
consent, and even in defiance of his authority " {Travels in France p 321). 


obscurest dwellings every man shall rest assured that his wishes 
and requests shall be heard " ? 

" All over the country/' says Taine, " the people are to 
meet together to discuss abuses. . . . These confabulations are 
authorized, provoked from above. In the early days of 1788 
the provincial assemblies demand from the syndicate and from 
the inhabitants of each parish that a local enquiry shall be held ; 
they wish to know the details of their grievances, what part of 
the revenue each tax removes, what the cultivator pays and 
suffers. ... All these figures are printed . . . artisans and 
countrymen discuss them on Sunday after mass or in the evening 
in the great room at the inn. ..." 

The King has been bitterly reproached by Royahsts for thus 
taking the people into his confidence over schemes of reform ; 
such changes in the government as were needed, they remark, 
should have been effected by the royal authority unaided by 
popular opinion. But the King doubtless argued that no one 
knows better than the wearer where the shoe pinches ; and since 
his great desire was to alleviate the sufferings of his people, it 
seemed to his simple mind that the best way to do this was to 
ask them for a hst of their grievances before attempting to redress 
them. Behevers in despotism may deplore the error in judge- 
ment, but the people of France did not mistake the good in- 
tentions of the King, for in the cahiers de doleances or Usts of 
grievances that arrived from all parts of the country in response 
to this appeal the people were unanimous in their respect and 
loyalty to Louis XVI. 

What, then, did the cahiers demand ? What were the true 
desires of the people in the matter of government ? This all- 
important point has been too often overlooked in histories of the 
Revolution ; yet it must be clearly understood if we would realize 
how far the Revolution as it took place was the result of the 
people's will. Now the summarizing of the cahiers by the 
National Assembly ^ revealed that the following principles of 
government were laid down by the nation : 

I. The French government is monarchic. 
II. The person of the King is inviolable and sacred. 

III. His crown is hereditary from male to male. 

On these three points the cahiers were unanimous, and the great 
majority were agreed on the following : 

IV. The King is the depositary of the executive power. 
V. The agents of authority are responsible. 

VI. The royal sanction is necessary for the promulgation of 
the laws. 

^ Moniteur, i. 215. 


VII. The nation makes the laws with the royal sanction. 
VIII. The consent of the nation is necessary for loans and taxes. 
IX. Taxes can only be imposed from one meeting of the States- 
General to another. 
X. Property is sacred. 
XL Individual Uberty is sacred. 

In the matter of reforms the cahiers asked first and foremost 
for the equahty of taxation, for the abolition of that monstrous 
privilege by which the wealthier classes of the community were 
enabled to avoid contributing their rightful share towards the ex- 
penses of the State ; they asked for the free admission of citizens 
of all ranks to civil and mihtary employment, for revision of the 
civil and criminal code, for the substitution of money payments 
in the place of feudal and seigneurial dues, for the abolition 
of gabeUes, corvees, franc-fief, and arbitrary imprisonment. 

In all these demands we shaU find no element of sedition or 
of disaffection towards the monarchy, but the response of a loyal 
and spirited people to the King's proposals for reform. Such 
animosity as they displayed was directed against the " privileged 
orders," and, as we shall see, this sentiment was not whoUy 
spontaneous. Hua, a member of the Legislative Assembly, has 
well described the attitude of the people in pages that may be 
summarized thus : 

The Ancien Regime had very real abuses, there was every 
reason to attack it. The clergy and noblesse had lost their power 
and their raison d'etre ; they were obUged to let the Third Estate 
come into its own by giving up their privileges. Nothing could 
have stopped this or ought to have stopped it. "It has been said 
that the Revolution was made in pubUc opinion before it was 
reaUzed by events ; this is true, but one must add that it was not 
the Revolution such as we saw it . . . it was not by the people that 
the Revolution was made in France." And in confirmation of 
this statement, with which, as I shall show, contemporaries of all 
parties agree, Hua points out that " the voice of the nation cried 
out for reform, for changes in the government, but all proclaimed 
respect for reUgion, loyalty to the King, and desire for law and 
order." ^ 

What, then, was needed to kindle the flame of revolution ? 

To understand this we must examine the intrigues at work 
amongst the people ; these and these alone explain the gigantic 
misunderstanding that arose between the King and his subjects, 
and that plunged the country on the brink of regeneration into 
the black abyss of anarchy. 

1 M^moires de Hua, dipuU a I'AssemhUe Ugislaiive, published by his 
grandson Fran9ois Saint Maur in 1871. 


At the beginning of the Revolution the principal intrigue, and 
the one that paved the way for all the rest, was undoubtedly 


Louis Philippe Joseph, fifth Due d'Orleans in direct descent 
from the brother of Louis XIV., and therefore fourth cousin 
once removed to Louis XVI., came into the world with a heredity 
tainted from various sources. His great-grandfather Philippe, 
Regent of France during the minority of Louis XV., had married 
the daughter of Louis XIV. and Madame de Montespan. More 
German than French — for his mother was the Princess Elizabeth 
of the Palatinate, whose memoirs are perhaps the most nauseous 
reading of the period — ^the Regent had introduced into the gay 
gallantry of France the bestial forms of vice that prevailed 
in those days at the courts of Germany. Amongst the most 
dissolute frequenters of the Palais Royal during the Regency was 
Louis Armand, Prince de Conti, a moral maniac of the Sadie 
variety, and it was his daughter who, married to the fourth Due 
d'Orleans, became the mother of Louis PhiHppe Joseph, later to 
be known as Philippe jfigaUte. Of such elements was the man 
composed — ^if indeed he was the son of the duke and not — as the 
people of Paris beheved, and as he himself afterwards declared 
to the Commune — of the duchess's coachman. 

In appearance, certain contemporaries assure us, Philippe 
was not unattractive, since he had blue eyes, good teeth, and a 
fine white skin ; but when they proceed to relate that his face was 
bloated and adorned with collections of red pimples, whilst his 
portraits show him to us with a large fleshy nose, thick Hps, 
and a massive neck and chin, we find it difficult to understand 
the charm he exercised over his intimes. Yet so fervent was their 
admiration that when Philippe in time grew bald his boon 
companions loyally shaved off their front hair in compliment. 
The Anglomania which had increased his popularity amongst the 
young bloods of the day disgusted Louis XVI., since it consisted 
in no appreciation for the better qualities of the EngUsh, but in 
adopting all their worst habits — ^the betting, gambling, and heavy 
drinking that prevailed in England at that date. As the leader 
of this imported fashion, the Due d'Orleans affected English 
dress of the sporting kind, appearing habitually in a cloth frock 
coat, buckskin breeches, and top boots ; thus attired he rode to 
race-meetings, or drove about the town in his English " whisky." 
His two ruUng passions, says the Due de Cars, were money, and 
after money debauchery. Entirely indifferent to public opinion 
he flaunted his vices in the eyes of all Paris ; arm-in-arm with 
the Marquis de SiUery he might be seen on the steps of the 


Coliseum in the Champs filysees, insolently accosting women who 
had the misfortune to meet his eye ; at Longchamps he would 
gaUop ostentatiously beside the carriage of some notorious demi- 
mondaine, whilst at the Palais Royal his entourage was composed 
of the most worthless men and women of the day. The evil 
reputation borne by society at the time of the Revolution is 
attributable more to the Due d'Orleans and his set than to any 
other cause, whilst as a climax of hypocrisy the severest strictures 
on the morals of society emanated from the pens of the very men 
and women who outraged them — Laclos, Chamfort, and Madame 
de GenHs. By the side of the Due d'Orleans and his boon com- 
panions the follies of the Comte d'Artois and the Polignacs fade 
into insignificance, and the games of " descamptivos," so luridly 
described by Orleaniste writers as the favourite diversion at 
Versailles, seem innocuous indeed compared with the ducal pas- 
time of " collecting girls from the lowest quarters of Paris, and 
thrusting them nude and inebriated into the park of Monceaux." 

Yet this was the prince who, we are asked to beHeve, became 
the idol of the Paris populace. It is only one of the many 
calumnies directed against the people by so-called democratic 
writers. The instincts of the people are not naturally perverse ; 
they do not admire a bad master, a faithless husband, a man of 
corrupt and vicious tastes. We have only to consult the records 
written before the Revolution to find that the people of Paris 
loathed and despised the Due d'Orleans. The duke returned 
their aversion with contempt ; to the future bearer of the name 
" figalite " the people were indeed less than the dust. In order 
to keep up the " aristocratic " character of his garden at the 
Palais Royal, he had issued an order that no admittance was to 
be granted to " soldiers, men in Hvery, people in caps and shirts, 
to dogs or workmen." ^ 

" The Due d'Orleans," a chronicler writes on April 5, 1787, 
*' allowed himself to be so carried away by the ardour of the chase 
that he followed the quarry he was hunting, with his train, 
through the Faubourg Montmartre, the Place Vendome, and the 
Rue Saint-Honore, as far as the Place Louis XV., not without 
having overturned and wounded several people." Thereupon 
the Parisians composed satirical verses on the duke, ending with 
these lines : 

. . . au sein de Paris, un grand, noble de race, 

Sans respect pour les droits des gens, 

^crase quelques habitants 

Pour goiiter en plein jour le plaisir de la chasse.* 

* Journal d'un ttudiant^ edited by M. Gaston Maugras, p. 9. 
» Correspondance Secrite sur Louis XVI et Marie Antoinette, edited by 
M. de Lescure, p. 126, 


It was certainly no easy task for the party who wished to 
substitute the Due d' Orleans for Louis XVI. on the throne of 
France to persuade the people that the man who treated them 
with so much insolence had now become the champion of their ^ 
liberties. M. ]Smile Dard in his interesting book, Le General i/ 
Choderlos de Laclos, declares that the Orleaniste conspiracy 
originated with Brissot as early as 1787, and that in this year he 
sketched out, in a letter to Ducrest, the brother of Madame de 
Genlis, his plan for inaugurating a second Fronde with the Due 
d'Orleans at its head. " His cause must be identified with that 
of the people." If in the beginning the duke were to distinguish 
himself by " striking acts of benevolence and patriotism," he 
would soon become " the idol of the people." " Let him then 
embrace the doctrines in vogue, disseminate them in writing, and 
gain the leaders to his side." 

Whether this scheme was adopted on the advice of Brissot 
or not, it was precisely the one pursued by the duke and his 
supporters. From the moment the States-General met, says 
a democratic pamphlet of the day, " the seigneur who was the 
hardest towards his vassals, the most exacting and the most 
severe, especially in the matter of pecuniary rights, made a show 
of moderation, generosity, and even lavishness." ^ It is a 
common ruse of Orleaniste writers to represent the duke as an 
amiable, weak, and irresponsible puppet, incapable of serious 
designs. This was precisely the impression he intended to create ; 
an affectation of irresponsibiUty is a time-honoured ruse of con- 
spirators. At the same time it is probable that, left to himself, 
the Due d'Orleans would have had neither the wit nor the energy 
to form a conspiracy ; the genius of Laclos was needed to devise 
and organize a vast and formidable intrigue. 

Choderlos de Laclos belonged to a poor and recently ennobled 
family of Spanish origin, and in 1788, at the age of forty-seven, 
after leaving the army, he was introduced to the Palais Royal 
by the Vicomte de Segur, who obtained for him the post of 
secretaire des commandements to the Due d'Orleans. Laclos 
had already made a name for himself as the author of the scan- 
dalous Liaisons Dangereuses, a novel describing in the form of 
letters from country-houses the depraved morals of society. 
" A monster of immorality " himself, he revelled in depicting 
the baser sides of human nature — " according to him, good 
people, if any such existed, would be simply lambs amongst a 
herd of tigers, and he holds it better to be a tiger, since it is 
better to devour than to be devoured." ^ 

1 " Grand Triomphe de M. le Due d'Orleans, ou Examen Impartial de 
Conduite," p. 5, August 23, 1790. 

* Montjoie, Conjuration de d'Orlians, i. 213. 


To the cynical niind of Laclos there was something infinitely 
diverting in the idea of placing the dissolute duke at the head 
of the kingdom, and the very weakness and want of energy that 
characterized his royal protege offered all the wider a field to 
Laclos's own ambition. 

In order to inspire the duke with the will to collaborate in 
this scheme Laclos well knew, moreover, the vulnerable side from 
which to approach him. Place and power had little attraction 
for PhiUppe d' Orleans ; as king he would have access to no more 
money and to less pleasure than fell to his share as " first prince 
of the blood." " The Due d' Orleans," a wit had once remarked, 
" would always be afraid to belong to any party where he would 
not have the chorus-girls of the opera on his side." But if in- 
capable of great ambitions, the duke possessed one characteristic 
that lent not merely energy but fire to his otherwise sluggish 
nature — this was the spirit of revenge. If he could not devise, 
if he could not scheme, if he could not strive to achieve some 
settled purpose, he could hate. He was immeasurably and 
unrelentingly vindictive. To revenge himself on any one who 
had piqued his vanity or thwarted his designs, he would stick at 
nothing, he would know no pity. And now for years all the 
bitter rancour of which he was capable had been growing in 
intensity towards one woman who had humihated him — the 
Queen of France. 

In a lesser degree he hated the King also : had not Louis XVI. 
refused to make him grand admiral of the fleet, in consequence 
of his conduct at the battle of Ouessant ? But it was Marie 
Antoinette who had withheld her consent to the marriage of his 
daughter with the Due d'Angouleme, it was to her he owed his 
banishment from the Court, and it was her rejection of his in- 
famous love-making that still rankled in his mind. 

The Due d' Orleans was not the only member of the Palais 
Royal set who had suffered a Uke rebuff. " The Queen," says 
M. fimile Dard, " was proud and coquette ; she held back with 
disdain those that her charm attracted. The spite of men was 
directed against her as cruelly as the jealousy of women. Under 
a chaste king many courtiers had hoped that the reign of lovers 
would succeed to that of mistresses. What a prospect for the 
ambitions of the Court ! What glory and profit for roues like 
Tilly, Biron, Bezenval, Segur, to record amongst their successful 
ventures the Queen of France ! In how many calumnies did 
self-interest and vanity find their vent ! " Biron, we know from 
his insufferable memoirs, had actually made overtures to the 
Queen, and we may safely accept the version of this incident 
given by Madame Campan, who states that the interview ended 
after a few moments with the words pronounced in indignant 


tones by Marie Antoinette, " Sortez, monsieur ! " and the hasty 
exit of Biron from her presence. 

The advances of the Vicomte de Noailles met with no better 
success,^ and both these sedudeurs became the bitterest enemies 
of the Queen. 

On such resentments was the animosity of the Palais Royal 
roues for the Court founded. At the duke's country-house of 
Monceaux all these malcontents collected, and it was here, 
amidst the cUnking of champagne glasses, that the foulest libels, 
the most obscene verses on the Queen, were uttered and after- 
wards circulated through the underworld of Paris. 

The exile of the Due d'Orleans in 1787 provided his party 
with a fresh cause de guerre. At the Seance Royale the King had 
announced two fresh taxes — the timbre and the subvention 
territoriale — ^to be imposed on the " privileged classes " ; where- 
upon the duke at the instigation of Ducrest rose and declared 
the royal decree to be " illegal." " Do not imagine," he said 
afterwards to Brissot, " that if I made this stand against the King 
it was in order to serve a people I despise, or a body of which I 
make no account (the Parlement), but that I was indignant at a 
man treating me with so much insolence." ^ The insolence, how- 
ever, seems to have been entirely on the side of the duke. Louis 
XVI. on his return to Versailles remarked that it was not the 
declaration of the Due d'Orleans that had offended him, but the 
threatening tone in which the words were pronounced, and the 
way he had looked at him as he spoke.^ On the advice of the 
Queen he accordingly exiled the duke, stipulating that he should 
not go as he wished — for reasons we shall see later — ^to England, 
but to his property at Villers-Cotterets. 

This edict admirably served the interests of the Orleanistes, 
since the duke was now able to pose as the victim of despotism, 
and it did much to inflame his fury against the King and Queen. 
When two years later he was elected deputy in the States-General, 
he C5niically declared : "I laugh at the States-General, but I 
wished to belong to them if only for the moment when individual 
Uberty should be discussed in order to vote for a law that will 
enable me to go where I like, so that when I want to start for 
London, Rome, or Pekin, I shall not be sent to Villers-Cotterets. 
I laugh at all the rest." ^ 

Such were the motives that inspired the " democracy " of 
the Palais Royal party. Directed by the genius of Laclos, and 
financed by the millions of the Due d'Orleans, the vast organiza- 

^ Mdmoires du Comte de Tilly, ii. no. 

* Le Giniral Choderlos de Laclos, by fimile Dard, p. 153. 
' Montjoie, Conjuration de d'Orlians, i. 93. 

* Les Fils de Philippe '^galiU pendant la Terreur, by G. Lenotre, p. 12. 


tion of the Orleaniste conspiracy took form and grew, until by 
the spring of 1789 the plan of campaign was complete. Orleaniste 
propaganda were circulated all over France in preparation for 
the States-General ; models of cahiers drafted by Sieyes and 
Laclos were distributed to different constituencies, and it was 
undoubtedly by this means that the people's animosity towards 
the noblesse was largely engineered, for in the upholders of the 
Old Regime the Orleanistes saw the most serious obstacle to 
their schemes. 

But the crowning triumph of the Orleaniste conspiracy was 
the acquisition of Mirabeau. This amazing man, whose striking 
personaUty and thunderous oratory must have ensured the 
success of any party to which he attached himself, was lost to 
the royal cause mainly by the ineptness of the King's ministers. 
It is almost certain that at this crisis Mirabeau needed only the 
sUghtest encouragement to throw himself into the movement for 
reform by peaceful methods, and in this he rightly saw that the 
King was the real leader. Such rancour as he entertained against 
the Old Regime was directed against the noblesse who had shunned 
him on account of his irregularities ; the royal authority he was 
prepared to defend. He alone of all the men who should have 
advised the King on the assembling of the States-General fore- 
saw the disasters impending from the unpreparedness of the 
Government, and in a letter addressed to the King's minister 
Montmorin in December 1788 he implored him to be advised 
in time. 

Alas, for the eternal weakness of Conservatism, the fatal 
unresponsiveness that has driven many a would-be aUy into the 
enemy's camp ! To Montmorin, Mirabeau with his discreditable 
past and his unscrupulous business transactions was a man to 
distrust, and therefore to be rejected. He failed to reaUze the 
truth of Gouvemeur Morris's aphorism — a maxim that should 
surely be laid to heart by every one concerned in government : 
" There are in the world men who are to he employed, not trusted." 

Mirabeau was decidedly not to be trusted. " I was bom to 
be an adventurer ! " he once said gaily to Dumont and Duroverai. 
But was that a reason not to employ him ? Were not some of the 
greatest men who ever Uved adventurers ? Was not France saved 
ten years later by the great adventurer from Corsica ? Yet with 
this term Conservatism too often brands the man whose dynamic 
force is needed to counteract its own inertia. The letter of 
Mirabeau was ignored, his memoir e never reached the King, and all 
the disasters he had foreseen came to pass. So the man who 
might have saved the monarchy, smarting at this rebuff, threw 
himself into the opposite camp, and devoted all his force, his 
eloquence, and his vast energy to overthrowing the Government 


that had repulsed him. At the very moment that Montmorin 
refused his services, the Orleanistes were making every effort to 
secure him. It is evident that from the first the Due d'Orleans 
inspired him with no sympathy, but he needed a field for his 
talents, he needed a goal for his ambitions, and alas, he needed 
also the wherewithal to satisfy his taste for luxury and pleasure ! 
Convinced that for the present he could hope for nothing from the 
Court, Mirabeau therefore allowed himself against his inclination 
to be drawn into the Orleaniste conspiracy.^ 

With the annexation of Mirabeau the success of the conspiracy 
seemed assured. The duke and a number of his supporters — 
the Due de Biron, the Marquis de Sillery (husband of the famous 
Madame de GenUs), the Baron de Menou, the Vicomte de 
Noailles, and the De Lameths — ^had succeeded in securing election 
to the States-General, and with Mirabeau at their head consti- 
tuted a formidable faction. At Mont rouge, a little house near 
Paris belonging to the Due de Biron, the conspirators met by 
night and discussed their schemes, but " of those nocturnal 
confabulations," remarks M. Dard, " nothing transpired either 
for contemporaries or for posterity." 

The amazing thoroughness with which the intrigue was carried 
out has never been surpassed except by the pan-German plot of 
our day. At the Palais Royal, Laclos, " like a spider in his web," 
wove the almost invisible network of intrigue that soon covered 
France, and stretched out into other countries — England, Holland, 

^ That Mirabeau was definitely working in the interests of the Due 
d'Orleans throughout the summer of 1789 is perfectly obvious from the 
evidence of all contemporaries, even those who were his friends, such as 
Dumont and La Marck, the latter only attempting — very unconvincingly — 
to prove that Mirabeau was not paid by the duke. Weber, however, 
declares that Mirabeau and the Due d'Orl6ans " troubled so little to conceal 
their connection that notes signed by the Due d'Orleans in favour of Mira- 
beau were seen publicly negotiated on the Paris Bourse " {Mimoires de 
Weber, ii. 17). Perhaps the best summary of Mirabeau's poHcy at this 
date is that given by Mounier : "I have seen him pass from the nocturnal 
committees held by the friends of the Due d'Orleans to those of the enthusi- 
astic repubUcans, and from these secret conferences to the cabinets of the 
King's ministers ; but if from the first months (of the Revolution) the 
ministers had consented to work with him he would have preferred to 
uphold the royal authority rather than to ally himself with men he de- 
spised. His principles must not be judged by the numerous contradictions 
in his speeches and writings, where he said less what he thought than what 
happened to suit his interests under such and such circumstances. He 
often communicated his real opinions to me, and I have never known a 
man of more enlightened intellect, of more judicious political doctrines, 
of more venal character, and of a more corrupt heart" {De V Influence ^ 
attribui aux Philosophes, Franc Masons et Illuminis, p. 100). This passage 
gives the key to the whole of Mirabeau's conduct during the early stages of 
the Revolution. On the nocturnal meetings between Mirabeau and the 
Duq d'Orl6ans see also Carat's Conspiration de d'OrUans. 


Germany. In Paris he had enlisted the services of various 
unscrupulous agitators who stirred up the Faubourgs of Saint- 
Antoine and Saint-Marceau ; pamphleteers in the pay of the duke 
loaded the bookstalls with seditious pamphlets; at the street 
comers and in the garden of the Palais Royal mob orators 
inflamed the minds of the people, and in the palace of Versailles 
the spies of Orleans hovered round the Queen, gained access to her 
correspondence, and sent copies of her letters to the councils of 

It is probable, however, that all these schemes would have 
proved unavailing to produce a revolution had not the country 
at this crisis been faced with famine. Hua, looking back on the 
beginnings of the Revolution, was convinced that but for the 
threatened famine the people would have remained indefinitely 
submissive to the Old Regime. " Everywhere they know how to 
endure, to expect from time improvements that often do not 
come, but for which they continue to hope. They know only 
present evils, and of these famine alone is intolerable to them. 
Struck by this terrible scourge, it is not a change in the State 
that they demand, it is bread. So the French people would long 
have endured their accustomed burdens, they would have con- 
tinued to pay taxes, tithes, to carry out feudal duties, to bend 
beneath the corvee and the other miseries of vassaldom. I find 
the proof of their patience in the means employed to make them 
lose it." 2 It was here the conspirators saw their greatest 
opportunity. " Bread," says Hua, " was the potent lever by 
wluch the people were roused to action. What Ues, what fables 
were thrown to pubhc creduHty ! " It is evident from all accounts 
that the famine was more fabulous than real. The people were 
not starving, but haunted by the fear of starvation. And to this 
fear was added exasperation, owing to the conviction that no real 
scarcity of grain existed. It was true that a fearful hailstorm in 
July of the previous year had destroyed many of the crops round 
Paris, but had not the minister Necker declared that, in spite of 
this disaster, " the stores of grain in the country were more than 
sufficient to supply the needs of the nation until the next 
harvest " ? The want of bread in itself is bad enough, but to 
believe that bread is being wilfully withheld from one is enough 
to stir the meekest to revolt. This was the " lever " employed 
by the conspirators. When the peasants of France creeping to 
their doors saw wagons laden with wheat winding their way 
through the village street, voices were not lacking to whisper, 
" There is com in plenty, but it is not for you ; it is to be stored 
for the Court, the aristocrats, the rich, who will feast in plenty 

* Histoire de la Revolution, by Louis Blanc, ii. 331 ; Essais de Beaulieu, 
i. 302. 2 M&moires de Hua, p. 53. 


while you go hungry." And forthwith the maddened people 
would hurl themselves on to the sacks of com and fling them 
into the nearest river. ^ The fact that in many cases the corn 
was destroyed and not appropriated by the people proves that 
hunger was less the incentive to revolt than rage at the monopo- 
lizers ; and if the name of a supposed monopoHzer were but 
whispered likewise, the unfortunate man fell a victim to the same 
fate as the sacks of com. It is, of course, impossible to defend 
such excesses, yet if during a time of scarcity there were really 
profiteers enriching themselves at the expense of the people, the 
fury of the peasants is certainly justified. Their guilt must 
therefore be measured by the facts on which their suspicions 
were founded. 

Was the scarcity of grain, then, imaginary or real ? Un- 
doubtedly it was not to be entirely accounted for by the failure 
of the crops. On this point contemporaries of all parties agree. 
But the question of monopolizers is one on which pro-revolu- 
tionary historians are strangely silent, since for their purpose — 
the glorification of the revolutionary leaders — ^it does not bear 
examination. The truth is probably that the monopolizers 
were in league with the very men who were stirring up popular 
fury against monopoly — ^the leaders of the Orleaniste conspiracy. 
Montjoie asserts that agents employed by the Due d' Orleans 
deliberately bought up the grain, and either sent it out of the 
country or concealed it in order to drive the people to revolt, and 
in this accusation he is supported by innumerable contemporaries, 
including the democrat Fantin - Desodoards, Mounier, whose 
integrity is not to be doubted, the Liberal Malouet, Ferrieres, 
and Madame de la Tour du Pin. 

BeauUeu, however, one of the most reliable of contemporaries, 
considers that the Orleanistes would have been unable to create 
a famine by these means, but that they accompHshed their 
purpose by stirring up public feeHng on the subject of monopo- 
lizers, thereby inducing the people to pillage the grain. The 
farmers and corn merchants, therefore, fearing that their suppUes 
would be destroyed in transit, were afraid to release them. By 
this means a fictitious famine was created.^ 

M. Gustave Bord, whose researches into the question of the 
famine are perhaps the most complete of any French historian's, 
beUeves that the farmers and bakers were not altogether guilt- 
less, but that many had an interest in producing a scarcity in 

1 Letter of Lord Dorset, March 19, 1789, in Dispatches from Paris, 
ii. 175. 

2 This was also the opinion of Arthur Young, who likewise believed that 
the revolutionary leaders had an interest in keeping up the price of corn. 
See Travels in France (edited by Miss Betham Edwards), p. 154. 




order to raise the price of bread : " It is they who were the real 
authors of the scarcity, and the Old Regime hunted them down 
without mercy. In their r61e of exploiters of the people they were 
the natural aUies of the revolutionaries, who upheld them in 
their calumnies. It was they who triumphed in 1789, and who 
succeeded in deluding history by throwing the responsibility on 
their enemies." 

Yet against these enemies, that is to say *' the Court," the 
noblesse, the clergy, and the King's ministers, not a shred of 
evidence was ever produced. The ridiculous legend of the 
" Facte de Famine," by which certain revolutionary writers have 
sought to prove that Louis XV. speculated in gram,i has no 
bearing on the question, since at this date Louis XV. had been 
dead for fifteen years, and against Louis XVI. not even the most 
rabid of revolutionary writers has ventured to raise such an 
accusation. On the contrary, the King, the noblesse, and the 
clergy ^ contributed immense sums towards the reUef of the famine, 
and the King's ministers, headed by Necker, were incessantly 
occupied with the problem of ensuring "com suppUes, and in 
thwarting the designs of speculators. 

All through the terrible winter of 1788-1789 the intendant 
of Paris, Berthier de Sauvigny, travelled about the country 
interviewing farmers to find out how much grain they had in 
reserve, how much they required, and what surplus they could put 
on the market ; when, however, in the spring, a shortage occurred, 
and Berthier applied to these men for the grain they had promised 
him, they immediately put up the price to a prohibitive figure, 
and Montjoie declares that this price was paid by agents of the 

^ On this point see the articles on the " Facte de Famine " by M. 
Gustave Bord, M. L6on Biollay,and M. Edmond Bir6, which all demonstrate 
that even Louis XV. was innocent of this crime, and that the " bleds du 
roi " consisted in a benevolent scheme for keeping down the price of grain 
by storing supplies, and releasing them in a time of scarcity at a lower 
price than that demanded by the corn merchants and farmers. 

2 On the immense liberality of the noblesse and clergy see Montjoie, 

i/^Conjuration de d'Orlians, i. 202 ; Taine, La Revolution, i. 5. " The poor and 
needy," says the English contemporary Play fair, " whom shame prevented 
from seeking aid, were themselves sought after, and reUef was forced upon 
the poor starving family in their cold and hungry retreat by those same 
clergymen and nobility who soon after were driven from their own abodes. 
. . . These acts of charity were not the acts of a few, they were general, 
and were done without ostentation or show, as such actions always ought 
to be." The Due d'Orleans loudly proclaimed his charities in the press, but 
these, says Montjoie, existed principally on paper, at any rate they did not 
prevent him from investing, at this crisis, in a gorgeous new set of plate 
which his friends — and presumably not the hungry multitude — were 
/invited to the Palais Royal to admire {Mimoires of Madame de la Tour 

^ du Pin, i. 164). The Archbishop of Paris at the same moment sold all his 
plate to feed the poor. 


Due d'Orleans : " They did not bargain, they gave what was 
asked. The farmers and monopolizers alone profited by this 
manoeuvre ; the artisan, the labourer, the poor man could not 
afford the price that the monopolizers offered, and it was onlyby 
outbidding them that the Government succeeded in wresting 
from these vampires a portion of their spoil." 

Whether, then, the Orleanistes achieved their purpose by actu- 
ally cornering suppUes, or by terrorizing the farmers into holding 
them up, there can be no doubt that the famine of 1789 was 
deliberately engineered by the agents of the duke, and that by this 
means the people were driven to the pitch of desperation necessary 
to produce the Revolution, 

The Orleanistes, however, did not constitute the only 
revolutionary element in the country ; a second intrigue was at 
work amongst the people, that of 


These men desired no change of dynasty or in the govern- 
ment ; their aim was purely destructive. Three years later, when 
the monarchy was abolished, many of the revolutionary leaders 
declared that they had all along been Republicans at heart, but 
if we examine their earlier writings we shall find that at the 
beginning of the Revolution none of them had formulated any 
such political creed. " There were not ten of us Republicans in 
1789," Camille DesmouHns wrote afterwards, and since Camille 
at this date was one of the Due d'Orleans' most enthusiastic 
admirers, the number may be reduced at least by one. With the 
exception perhaps of Lafayette, whose experiences in the 
American War of Independence inspired him with Republican 
sympathies, those of the earlier revolutionaries who were not 
Orleanistes had no definite theories of reconstruction — ^their aim 
was merely to clear the ground of all existing conditions. '* AH 
memories of history," said Barrere^ " all prejudices resulting 
from community of interest anH^ of origin, all must be renewed 
in France ; we wish only to date from to-day." " To make the 
people happy," said Rabaud de Saint-!£tienne, " their ideas 
must be reconstructed, laws must be changed, morals must be 
changed, men must be changed, things must be changed, every- 
thing, yes, everything must be destroyed, since everything must be 
re-made." ^ 

^ Rabaud lived to see these theories carried into effect and to realize 
too late their disastrous folly. " France," he wrote only a short time later, 
" might have been likened to an immense chaos ; power was suspended, 
authority disowned, and the wrecks of the feudal system were added to 
the vast ruins." He repented still more bitterly when, in the reign of 


These subversive theories emanated from certain secret 
societies of which an EngUsh writer calling himself John Robison 
described the aims in the title of his book, Proofs of a Conspiracy 

L/^ against all the Religions and Governments of Europe carried on in 
the Secret Meetings of the Free-Masons, Illuminati, and Reading 
Societies. Robison, who was himself a genuine Freemason, made 
a tour of the Continental lodges, where he found that a new and 
spurious form of masonry had sprung into existence. Both in 
France and Germany " the lodges had become the haunts of many 
projectors and fanatics, both in science, in reUgion, and in politics, 
who had availed themselves of the secrecy and freedom of speech 
maintained in these meetings. ... In their hands Freemasonry 
became a thing totally unHke, and almost in direct opposition to, 
the system imported from England, where the rule was observed 
that nothing touching reUgion or government shall ever be 
spoken of in the lodges. . . ." The Association, in fact, was " all 
a cheat, and the leaders . . . disbelieved every word that they 
uttered and every doctrine that they taught . . . their real 
intention was to abolish all religion, overturn every government, 
and make the world a general plunder and wreck.*' 

A further development of German Freemasonry was the Order 
of the Illuminati founded in 1776 by Dr. Adam Weishaupt, a 
professor of the University of Ingoldstadt in Bavaria. Weis- 
haupt, who had been educated by the Jesuits, succeeded in per- 
suading two other ex- Jesuits to join him in organizing the new 
Order, and it was no doubt this circumstance that gave rise to 
the behef entertained by certain contemporaries that the Jesuits 
were the secret directors of the sect. The truth is more probably 

^, that, as both Mirabeau and the Marquis de Luchet, in their 
pamphlets on theTlluminati, asserted, Illuminism was founded on 
the regime of the Jesuits, although their religious doctrines were 
diametrically opposed.^ Weishaupt, whom M. Louis Blanc de- 
scribed as " one of the deepest conspirators that ever existed," had 
adopted the name of Spartacus — ^the leader of an insurrection of 
slaves in ancient Rome — and he aimed at nothing less than 
world revolution.'^ Thus the Order of the Illuminati " abjured 
Christianity, advocated sensual pleasures, beUeved in annihilation, 
and called patriotism and loyalty narrow-minded prejudices 
incompatible with universal benevolence"; further, "they ac- 
counted all princes usurpers and tyrants, and all privileged orders 

anarchy that followed, he was led to the scaffold. His wife killed herself 
in despair. 
r/ 1 Confirmed by the Abbe Barruel, Mimoires sur le Jacobinisme, 
ill. II. 

* Ibid. p. 25 ; Histoire de la Revolution, by Louis Blanc, ii. 84, 85. 


as their abettors ; they meant to aboUsh the laws which pro- ; 
tected property accumulated by long-continued and successful 
industry ; and to prevent for the future any such accumulation, 
they intended to estabhsh universal liberty and equaUty, the 
imprescriptible rights of man, and as preparation for all this 
they intended to root out all rehgion and ordinary morality, | 
and even to break the bonds of domestic hfe, by destroying' 
the veneration for marriage-vows, and by taking the education 
of children out of the hands of the parents." ^ 

These were precisely the principles followed by the Subver- 
sives of France in 1793 and 1794, and the method by which this pro- 
ject was carried out is directly traceable to Weishaupt's influence. 
Amongst the Illuminati, says Robison, " nothing was so fre- 
quently discoursed of as the propriety of employing, for a good 
purpose, the means which the wicked employed for evil purposes ; 
and it was taught that the preponderancy of good in the ultimate 
result consecrated every means employed, and that wisdom and 
virtue consisted in properly determining this balance. This 
appeared big with danger, because it seemed evident that nothing 
would be scrupled at, if it could be made appear that the Order 
would derive advantage from it, because the great object of the 
Order was held superior to every consideration." 2 

It is this doctrine that provides the key to the whole poUcy 
of the leading revolutionaries of France, and that, as we shall see 
later, brought about the Reign of Terror. 

Quintin Craufurd. the friend of Marie Antoinette, writing to 
Pitt in 1794, remarked : " There is a great resemblance between 
the maxims, as far as they are known, of the Illumines and the 
early Jacobins, and I am persuaded that the seeds of many of 
those extravagant but diaboUcal doctrines that spread with 
such unparalleled luxuriance in the hotbeds of France were 
carried from Germany." ^ The lodges of the German Freemasons 
and Illuminati were thus the source whence emanated all those 
anarchic schemes that culminated in the Terror, and it was at a 
great meeting of the Freemasons in Frankfurt-am-Main, three 
years before the French Revolution began, that the deaths of 
Louis XVI. and Gustavus III. of Sweden were first planned.* 

The Orleanist leaders, quick to see the opportunity for ad- 

^ Robison's Proofs of a Conspiracy, pp. 107 and 375. 

2 Ibid. p. 107. 

^ Craufurd here uses the word " Germany " as it was employed at 
that date, i.e. as a name covering Austria as well as Prussia and the other 
independent German states. Yet it was not in Austria, but in such 
towns as Berlin, Frankfurt, Mainz, Gottingen, Brunswick, Gotha, Breslau, 
etc., that lUuminism flourished most vigorously. 

* See the evidence of two French Freemasons present at this meeting 
published by Charles d'Hericault, La Revolution, p. 104. i^' 


vancing their own interests, joined the Freemasons, and the Due 
d' Orleans succeeded in getting himself elected Grand Master of 
the Order in France. A Uttle later Mirabeau went to Berlin, and 
whilst in Prussia attracted the attention of " Spartacus " and 
his colleague " Philo," ahas the Baron Knigge of Frankfurt-am- 
Main, who through the influence of Mauvillon, a disciple of 
Philo's, persuaded him to become an Illuminatus. On his return 
to Paris Mirabeau, together with Talleyrand and the Due de 
Lauzun, inaugurated a lodge of the Order, but none of the three 
being as yet adepts they were obUged to apply to headquarters 
for aid. Accordingly two Germans were sent to initiate them 
further in the doctrines of the sect. Before long the Club Breton, 
the first revolutionary club, later to be known as the Club des 
Jacobins, became the centre of Illuminism and Freemasonry, for 
all its members were also members of the two secret societies. 
But though the leading Orleanistes were all Freemasons, all Free- 
masons were not Orleanistes ; some were pure Subversives, and M. 
Gustave Bord is no doubt right in stating that the duke was only 
the visible head of the sect whose members used him as a cover 
to their designs, whilst he and his supporters used them with 
the same object. Thus Chamfort, though a member of the 
Orleaniste conspiracy, was at heart a Subversive, as an illuminat- 
ing conversation he once held with Marmontel at the beginning 
of the Revolution testifies. Chamfort having remarked that it 
would not be a bad thing to level all ranks and abolish the 
existing order of things, Marmontel replied : 

" Equahty has always been the chimera of republics 
and the bait that ambition offers to vanity. But this 
leveUing down is all the more impossible in a vast monarchy, 
and in attempting to abolish everything it seems to me that 
we should go further than the nation expects, and further 
than it wishes." 

*' True," said Chamfort, " but does the nation know what it 
wishes ? One can make it wish, and one can make it say what it 
has never thought . . . the nation is a great herd that only 
thinks of browsing, and with good sheepdogs the shepherds can 
lead it as they please." He went on to explain that one must 
help the people according to one's own lights, not according to 
theirs, and spoke cheerfully of a Revolution that would make 
a clean sweep of the Old Regime, a scheme he thought by no 
means impossible to carry out, for though it might be difficult 
to move the industrious citizens, there was always the class 
that has nothing to lose and everything to gain which could 
be stirred up by rumours of massacre, famine, and so forth. 
The Due d'Orleans, he ended by remarking, must be made use of 
for this purpose. When to this Marmontel suggested that the 


duke had hardly the makings of a leader, Chamfort replied 
imperturbably : 

" You are right, and Mirabeau, who knows him well, says it 
would be building on mud to count on him, but he has identified 
himself with the popular cause, he bears an imposing name, he 
has miUions to distribute, he hates the King, he hates the Queen 
still more." 

Such, then, were the " democratic " principles of the Sub- 
versives, and the methods described by Chamfort were, as we 
shall see, precisely those employed to work up the people. The ^ 
first item on their programme was the systematic dissemination [ 
of class hatred and the promise of unUmited booty. 

" Name me as your representative at the States-General,'* 
said Robespierre in his electioneering speeches, " and you will 
be for ever exempt from those burdens which have so far been 
required of you on the pretext of the needs of the State. . . . 
This will not be the only benefit you will enjoy if I succeed in 
becoming one of your representatives ; too long have the rich 
been the sole possessors of happiness. It is time that their 
possessions should pass into other hands. The castles wiU be 
overthrown and all the lands belonging to them will be distributed 
amongst you in equal portions." To the agricultural labourers 
he promised the fields they cultivated, to the retainers of the 
nobles he offered freedom from all duties. " Everything will 
be changed, for masters will become servants, and you will be 
served in your turn." ^ 

It will be seen, therefore, that from the outset " equahty," 
the great watchword of the Revolution, had no place in the minds 
of the Subversives ; conditions were simply to be reversed, 
wealth was to change hands, a process that was to be never- 
ending, since that which was at the top was to be perpetually 
thrust to the bottom, and that which was at the bottom raised 
to the top. 

Towards religion the Subversives displayed the same attitude 
as towards government ; their animosity was not directed against 
the Church of Rome more than against Protestantism ; it was 
religion in itself they detested, and that they set out to destroy. 
When we study the manner in which they carried out their design, 
when we read of the frightful profanity that was inaugurated 
during the Terror, the desecration of the churches, the blasphemies 
against Christ and the Holy Virgin, and the worship of Marat, it 
is almost impossible to disbeUeve in demoniacal possession, to 
doubt that these men, inflamed with hatred against ail spiritual 
influences working for good in the world, became indeed the 

* Montjoie, Histoire de la Conjuration de Maximilien Robespierre, pp. y 
36, 37- 


vehicles for those other spirits, the powers of darkness, whose 
cause they had made their own. And in their hideous deaths, 
for nearly every one perished on the scaffold, were they not, 
perhaps, hke the Gadarene swine, victims of the demons that 
drove them to destruction ? 


Whilst the Illuminati of Germany strove to plunge France 
and all the rest of the world into anarchy, the Government of 
Prussia was engaged on another intrigue against the French 
monarchy. Optimists who believe that the desire of modem 
Germany to dominate the world was a form of temporary insanity 
which originated with Nietzsche and Bemhardi, and may ter- 
minate in a return to the " peaceful philosophy " of what they 
fondly describe as " old Germany," would do well to study the 
policy of that idol of the German people — Frederick the Great. 

No event had so seriously disturbed the serenity of Frederick 
as the marriage of the Dauphin to Marie Antoinette in 1770, since 
by this union of the royal families of France and Austria the 
alliance between the two countries — ^both the hated rivals of 
Prussia — ^was definitely sealed. It must be remembered that in 
the eighteenth century France was the richest and most thickly 
populated country on the Continent, whilst the Court of Versailles 
far eclipsed in splendour that of any other kingdom, and in the 
mind of Frederick the memory of the " Roi Soleil " lingered as 
a constant source of irritation. Austria, on the other hand, as 
the head of the German Empire, enjoyed a power and prestige 
that reduced the little kingdom of Prussia to comparatively 
small importance. Meanwhile the Rhine provinces, more French 
than German in their sympathies, showed no anxiety to unite 
with Prussia, thereby forming the Germanic Confederation that 
was the dream of Frederick. To break the alliance between 
France and Austria became therefore the great ambition of his 
life, and the one on which he concentrated all his energies. 

In Von der Goltz, his ambassador, who arrived at the Court 
of Louis XV. in 1772, Frederick hoped to find an instrument to 
carry out his design, which was not to consist in open warfare 
but in a system of political mischief-making that would sow 
discord between the Courts of Versailles and Vienna. At the 
same time Von der Goltz was to act as a spy by getting information 
out of Maurepas and sending it to the King of Prussia. In this 
the ambassador at first proved successful, for the frivolous 
Maurepas loved to be amused and Von der Goltz possessed a 
merry wit, but the reports he forwarded to Berlin were far from 
satisfying to his Prussian Majesty. The correspondence that 


took place between Frederick and the luckless ambassador, whom 
he treated with brutal sarcasm, is a revelation in Prussian 
diplomacy.^ Frederick, it appears, was in the habit of confiding 
sums of money to his representatives at the various courts of 
Europe which were to be employed in bribery and corruption. 
Meanwhile their own personal expenses were but meagrely 
defrayed. Accordingly Von der Goltz on arriving in France was 
obliged to borrow money from Necker to pay the rent of his house, 
which he eventually opened as a'gambling-saloon in order to meet 
his creditors. Appeals to Frederick for financial assistance met 
only with indignant replies : " You are a spendthrift ! . . . Did 
you not fritter away at the Court of Petersbourg thousands of 
ecus which I entrusted to you for corruptions ? " In France 
Frederick is convinced that Von der Goltz is simply amusing 
himself instead of obtaining information on affairs of state. 
" You drive my patience to its Hmit," he writes on December 21, 
1780, ** by the clumsy way in which you fill your post. . . . One 
might excuse it in a student who had just left the University, but 
it is unpardonable in a man of your age who has been so long 
employed in affairs of state. So if you do not bestir yourself 
and bring more reflection to bear on them, I shall be obliged to 
find you a successor in whatever comer of Europe I have to look 
for him.'^ 

To these reproaches Von der Goltz replies with the utmost 
meekness, even when Frederick goes so far as to accuse him of being 
occupied with some " grosse Margot " instead of attending to his 
affairs— this suspicion, he makes answer, is unfounded, since 
neither his health nor his finances permit of such diversions. 

The point on which this extraordinary correspondence turns 
is of course the Queen. As long as Marie Antoinette retains her 
popularity Frederick realizes that there is Httle hope for the 
success of Prussian intrigue. This point needs emphasizing, owing 
to the curious confusion of thought that exists on the Queen's 
policy. No reproach has been more often repeated against Marie 
Antoinette than that of sympathizing with Austria ; undoubtedly 
she sympathized with Austria and wished to cement the aUiance 
between the country of her birth and that of her adoption. This 
was only natural, but the point so continually overlooked is that 
sympathy with Austria at this date was precisely the opposite of 
sympathy with Prussia, and this alliance that the Queen was so 
anxious to maintain was the greatest safeguard France possessed 

1 The correspondence from which all the following extracts are taken 
is to be found in a work entitled Rapport sur les Correspondances des Agents 
Diplomatiques strangers en France avant la Revolution conservSes dans les 
Archives de Berlin, Dresde, Gendve, Turin . . . Gines . . . Londres, etc, 
by Jules Flammermont (Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 1896). 



against Prussian aggression. The cry of " l' Autrichienne I " raised 
against Marie Antoinette throughout the Revolution probably origin- 
ated therefore in Prussia, and was foolishly taken up by the French 
people with fatal bUndness to their real interests. 

No one rejoiced more heartily than Frederick the Great at 
the estrangement that existed between Louis XVI. and Marie 
Antoinette during the first seven years of their marriage, and in 
1776 we find him writing to confide to Von der Goltz his fears that 
the impending visit of the Emperor Joseph II. to the Court of 
France may bring about a closer relationship between the husband 
and wife. In a letter dated December 26, 1776, Frederick points 
out to his ambassador that the best way to counteract the 
Emperor's influence wiU be for Von der Goltz to repeat to the 
royal family of France remarks the Emperor is supposed to have 
made about them : "It wiU be a good thing if you can manage 
hy means of subterranean insinuations to increase the dissension 
between the two Courts. With this object the ambitious views of 
his Imperial Majesty on Italy, Bavaria, Silesia, Alsace, and even 
Moldavia will open a vast field to your pohtical career, and if to these 
you add the sarcasms that prince permitted himself on the sub- 
ject of his brothers-in-law when he said: 'I have three brothers- 
in-law ; the one at Versailles is an imbecile, the one at Naples is 
a lunatic, and the one at Parma is a fool,' it cannot fail to make 
an impression and to prejudice the Court at which you are against 
him in such a way that aU further understanding will be extremely 
difficult if not impossible. But this," Frederick adds, " must be 
done cleverly " — a feat of which Von der Goltz was apparently 
incapable, for the Emperor's visit resulted in the reconciUation 
Frederick was so anxious to avoid, and the birth of a princess 
to the royal family of France destroyed his hopes for the future. 

A further check to Prussian intrigue occurred in the dismissal 
of Maurepas, for his successor Vergennes had no confidence in 
Von der Goltz, and refused to discuss anything with him. Accord- 
ingly in 1784 another ambassador was sent to France in the person 
of Frederick's brother. Prince Henry of Prussia, who was in- 
structed to effect an aUiance between the Courts of Versailles and 
Berlin. " The Prince," remarks M. de Croze Lemercier, " came 
amongst us as a good Prussian ... he was charged by his brother 
Frederick the Great to embroil us with Austria — ^which he nearly 
succeeded in doing — and he only flattered our national vanity 
in order the better to exploit it. . . . Hatred of Austria was then 
the fashion (in France), and pubUc opinion was so bhnd as not to 
see that we had enemies still more dangerous. The Prince became 
popular for the same reason that made the unfortunate Marie 
Antoinette hated." 

Prince Henry certainly succeeded in exciting some degree of 


sympathy with Prussia at the Court of France, but the Queen, 
as before, remained the insuperable obstacle. When, three years 
later, yet another envoy, the Baron von Alvensleben, was des- 
patched by Frederick to report on the state of feeling at Versailles 
he found the Queen still irreconcilable. 

" The hatred of the Queen for everything that hears the name of 
Prussian," he wrote to Frederick, "is so indisputable, that I 
have, so to speak, the proofs under my hand." 

This, then, was one of the great crimes of the unhappy Queen — ) 
that she was anti-Prussian. Those amongst the French who still , 
revile her memory would do well to remember that she was the 
first and greatest obstacle to those dreams of European domina- 
tion that, originating with Frederick the Great, culminated in , 
the aggression of 1870 and 1914. 

Marie Antoinette paid heavily for her aversion to Prussia. 
There can be no doubt whatever that certain of the libels and 
seditious pamphlets published against her before and during 
the Revolution were circulated by Von der Goltz at the instigation 
of the King of Prussia. In the course of this book we shall see 
the further methods employed by Prussia to undermine the 
monarchy of France and to overthrow the balance of power in 
Europe by breaking the alliance between the two rivals to her 

There was thus a double strain of German influence at work 
behind the French Revolution — ^the poUtical and the philo- 
sophical. The first, inspired by Frederick the Great and carried 
out by Von der Goltz ; the second, inspired by Weishaupt and 
conducted by Anacharsis Clootz, the Prussian sent to France for 
the purpose. 


In the minds of certain contemporaries no doubt exists that 
yet another intrigue at work behind the revolutionary movement 
was that sinister influence — " the gold of Pitt." England, they 
declare, resentful of the help given by France to the American 
insurgents, took advantage of the disturbed state of the country 
to wreak her vengeance on the French Government by encourag- 
ing and actually financing sedition. Montmorin told Gouvemeur 
Morris that he " had indisputable evidence of the intrigues of 
Britain and Prussia that they gave money to the Prince de Conde 
and the Due d'Orleans." Bezenval, describing the riots of July 
1789, speaks of the brigands employed by the Due d'Orleans and 
by England. According to Madame Campan, Marie Antoinette 
herself shared the conviction of England's complicity, and re- 
garded Pitt as the leader of the intrigue. " Do not go to Paris 


to-day," she is said to have remarked, " the English have been 
distributing money there ! " or again : " I cannot hear the name 
of Pitt without feeUng cold shivers down my back ! " 

What was the explanation of these rumours ? Was the 
Government of England really animated by a spirit of revenge ? 
It is certainly probable that the intervention of France on behalf 
of America appeared to Pitt as hostile an act as the sending of 
the Kruger telegram appeared to our Government of 1896, yet 
it must be remembered that Louis XVI. had entered reluctantly 
into the war, whilst the leaders of the expedition to America — 
Lafayette, Lauzun, De Segur, and others — ^were later on partisans 
of the Revolution. If, therefore, Pitt desired revenge is it likely 
that he would have sought to obtain it by joining forces with the 
very men who had taken part against him ? 

At the same time it is undeniable that a serious rivalry existed 
between France and England. As the two principal monarchies 
of Europe this was inevitable, nor in the past had it proved wholly 
disastrous. The perpetually recurring wars between the two 
rival powers had been conducted with gallantry and generosity 
on both sides, and had left little bitterness in the mind of either 
nation. But the reign of Louis XVI. introduced a more formid- 
able menace to the power of England. For the first time in her 
history she saw her most cherished possession, the dominion of 
the seas, seriously threatened. Louis XVI. was an enthusiast for 
the navy ; on the subject of shipbuilding he displayed surprising 
knowledge, and his visit to the port of Cherbourg — the con- 
struction of which was the greatest triumph of his reign — ^brought 
him a popularity he had never before enjoyed. Across the sea 
England watched and wondered. As a seafaring nation it was 
perhaps the most anxious moment in her existence. In the 
correspondence of EngUsh diplomatists at this date we find a 
vague fear piercing, and with the outbreak of the Revolution an 
undeniable breath of relief. "It is certainly possible," writes 
Lord Dorset from Paris in September 1789, " that from this 
chaos some creation may result, but I am satisfied that it must 
be long before France returns to any state of existence which can 
make her a subject of uneasiness to other nations." EarUer in 
the year Hailes had expressed the same conviction. 

Yet to show a certain degree of complacency at the spectacle 
of a foreign power that had threatened aggression weakening 
itself with internal dissensions is surely not to imply that one 
has deliberately set out to organize these dissensions. George 
III. throughout showed himself resolutely opposed to the Revolu- 
tion, and Pitt, who consistently supported the King, could have 
had no conceivable object in furthering a movement that shook 
all the thrones of Europe. Far from sympathizing with the 


revolutionary leaders Pitt invariably displayed a marked aver- 
sion to the Orleanistes, whilst the Jacobins who were avowedly 
" the natural enemies of England " were the last people with 
whom he would be likely to ally himself. The hatred expressed 
for Pitt by both these parties of revolutionaries is again surely 
proof of his non-compUcity — if Pitt was helping to finance them, 
why should they regard him as their enemy ? Why should 
" Tor de Pitt " be mentioned by Jacobin writers with the same 
indignation as by Royalists ? When, therefore, we find Pitt 
suspected by Royalists of abetting the Revolution and accused 
by Revolutionaries of aiding the Royalists,^ we may surely con- 
clude that his attitude was, as he professed, one of strict neutrality. 
Moreover, as Madame de Stael points out, how could Pitt dispose 
of the vast sums of money he was said to have scattered among 
the rioters without accounting for them to Parliament ? Necker, 
she says, made minute investigations during his ministry, but 
" was never able to discover the faintest trace of compUcity 
between the popular party and the EngUsh Government, '* ^ and 
M. Granier de Cassagnac adds that " historical documents have 
since then confirmed this conviction of Necker's, for the official 
accounts of the finances of the emigration at the BibUotheque 
Nationale prove that of all governments of Europe the English 
Government is the only one that never contributed any sum of 
money towards the divers enterprises of different parties during 
the French Revolution." ^ 

Even S orel, who misses no opportunity of denouncing the 
aggressive poUcy of England, is obliged to admit the integrity of 

" The ministry, that is to say William Pitt, was perfectly 
pacific. The Revolution ridded him for a time of a formidable 
rival ; it assured him of the peace he needed for his financial 
reforms, and surrendered to England all the benefits of which the 
crisis in public affairs deprived French industry and commerce. 
In every market, as in every chancellery, England was free to 
substitute herself for France. Pitt would have been careful not 
to obstruct the development of a revolution so advantageous to 
his designs. He also held that a king of France deprived of his 
prestige, with his rights limited and his power contested, would 
marvellously answer the convenience of England. But he was 
not one of those greedy politicians blinded by jealousy, whose 
covetousness leads them to take a brutal advantage of fortune. 

^ See, for example, the 5th number of the Vieux Cordelier, in which 
Camille Desmoulins accuses Pitt of being in league with Calonne, Malouet; 
and Luchesini to create a " counter-revolution." 

2 Considerations sur la RSvolution Franpaise, i. 329, 331. 

* Histoire des Causes de la RSvoluiion Frangaise, i. 59. 


Certain of these, and notably his allies in Berlin, marvelled at his 
not seizing this occasion to throw himself on France, to crush her 
and take over her colonies. He was careful to refrain from this. 
The natural elevation of his soul restrained him as much as the 
foresight of his mind. Such perfidy was repugnant to him, and 
he held it to be dangerous." ^ 

This testimony of a hostile critic, and at the same time of the 
historian most versed in the poHtics of the eighteenth century, is 
surely convincing. If, in the opinion of Sorel, Pitt was above 
taking advantage of the Revolution to declare open war on France, 
is it conceivable that he would have descended to the ignoble 
policy of financing sedition, to the brutal expedient of scattering 
gold amongst an enraged mob ? The thing is unthinkable, and 
it is time that this gross calumny on our Government should 
be finally demohshed. Suleau, the RoyaUst pamphleteer, knew 
better than many of his contemporaries when he wrote these 
noble words : 

" The EngUsh people have not degenerated from the magna- 
nimity of their ancestors, and here wise poUcy is aUied to gener- 
osity, for it would not be difficult to prove that the splendour of 
France will always be the surest guarantee for the prosperity of 
Great Britain." 

England, then, far from abetting the Revolution, regarded it 
with undisguised aversion. Such hberal-minded men as Words- 
worth and Arthur Young, who at first hailed it as the dawn 
of Hberty, lived to recognize their error. " In England," says 
Cardonne, " the majority of the people, including almost all 
those who belonged to the Government, the rich and noble 
owners of property, had conceived such a horror for the principles 
and acts of the French revolutionaries, and such a dread of seeing 
them adopted in their country, that they were anxious to break 
off all commerce between the two nations." As we shaU see in 
the course of this book, the " people " of England shared the 
opinion of their rulers. 

What, then, is the explanation of the beUef in English co- 
operation with the revolutionary movement ? Of the EngUsh 
guineas found on the rioters ? Of EngHshmen mingling in the 
mobs of Paris during popular agitations ? Of the seditious 
pamphlets printed in London ? Of the traffic in letters, messages, 
and money maintained between England and the revolutionary 
leaders ? Many of these leaders, moreover, were constantly in 
England, both before and during the Revolution ; Marat Uved 
for years in Soho, whilst Danton, Brissot, Petion, St. Huruge, 
Theroigne de Mericourt, and the rufiian Rotondo were all habitu6s 
of London. These facts admit of no denial ; to suppose, how- 
* L* Europe et la Revolution Frangaise, ii. 29. 


ever, any complicity on the part of the English Government is 
illogical and absurd. The explanation seems to me to he in a 
perfectly different direction. 

I have already referred to the Due d'Orleans' predilection 
for visits to London — a predilection that is not to be altogether 
accounted for by the " anglomanie " he professed. " M. 
d'Orleans," a contemporary shrewdly remarks, " often went to 
England. . . . M. d'Orleans was very fond of England, though 
not of the English. The wisdom of their laws mattered very 
little to him, but the hberty of London mattered to him a great 
deal. This apparent love of the Due d'Orleans for the EngHsh 
was in the end the cause of all the calumnies against England 
with which the leaders of the different factions influenced pubUc 
creduUty, so as to throw on the pohcy of that nation the excesses 
of which they alone were guilty." ^ 

Here, then, is the key to a great part of the mystery ; the theory 
of " I'or de Pitt " was a fable circulated by the duke himself to 
shield his own manoeuvres, and such was the skill with which it 
was disseminated that it was believed even by the Queen, who, as 
we know, never fully reaUzed the complicity of the duke with the 
revolutionary outbreaks. 

For ten years before his death, that is to say from 1783 
onwards, the Due d'Orleans continually deposited sums of money 
in London banks, and these sums, estimated at between ten to 
twelve miUions of francs, were not exhausted in 1794.^ Now 
since countless witnesses testify that the revolutionary mobs 
were financed by the duke, it is surely more than probable 
that many of the guineas found on rioters were the Due 
d'Orleans' money,^ which with diabohcal cunning he drew out in 
English coin, and had sent over to France in order to throw 
suspicion on the English. This may to a large extent account 
for the sums distributed, but it does not entirely dispose of the 
belief in EngUsh co-operation. A further light is thrown on the 
matter by the following passage of Montjoie : 

" During his visits to London the Due d'Orleans personally, 
and by means of his agents in Holland, made fresh loans of 
money in England. ... He attached to his interests . . . Milord 
Stanhope and Dr. Price. These two men were the most important 
members of a society calling itself ' The Revolution Society.' 
. . . D'Orleans also knew how to interest all that party known 
as the * Opposition ' in his cause. Fox, one of the oracles of 

^ Histoire des Factions de la Revolution Franfaise, by Joseph Lavall6e, 
i. 25 (1816). 

* See letters from General Montesquiou and the Due de Chartres pub- / 
lished at the end of the MSmoires de Mallet du Pan, edited by A. Sayous, l/^ 
p. 455. * Fantin Desodoards, Histoire Philosophique, ii. 436. 


this party, was throughout attached to d*0rl6ans, and still is 
to his family (1797) ; he is the declared protector of all the 
Frenchmen who belong to the faction of this prince." 

Is it not possible, then, that the duke, fearing that even his 
vast fortune might prove inadequate to the demands made on it 
during the course of nearly five years, for financing insurrection, 
may have supplemented it by sums raised amongst his friends in 
England ? In this case EngUsh gold did play a part in the 
revolutionary movement, but it was provided not hy the Govern- 
ment, hut hy its opponents. The Opposition party in London 
formed an exact counterpart to the duke's party in Paris ; headed 
by the Prince of Wales, the roues of Carlton House formed a 
Fronde against George III., such as the roues of the Palais 
Royal formed against Louis XVI. In the House of Commons 
Fox, the so-caUed " friend of the people," demanded that the 
enormous debts of the Prince of Wales should be defrayed by 
the nation. Thus in both countries it was the " democratic " 
party, the revolutionaries of France and the Whigs of England, 
who supported the follies and extravagances of these two 
dissolute princes, whilst in both countries the cause of order and 
morality was represented by the sovereign whom the democrats 
wished to dethrone. George HI., like Louis XVL, was intensely 
respectable ; the Due d'Orleans was therefore even less to his 
taste than his own prodigal son, and he rightly discerned the de- 
moralizing influence that the duke exercised over him. " George, 
the Prince of Wales," says Ducoin, " had done the honours of the 
brothels and gambling-houses of the old city, and in Paris the 
Due d'Orleans had returned the hospitaUty shown him by the 
Prince of Wales in the suppers and orgies of London. Like 
Philippe, the Prince of Wales had adopted the Revolution, and 
hailed the dawn of a new era." This era was apparently to 
consist in placing George III. under restraint and proclaiming 
the Prince of Wales Regent, a scheme in which the Prince's boon 
companions. Fox, Sheridan, and others, heartily concurred. 
Meanwhile the same process was to take place in France, the 
regency in both countries being merely the preliminary to a 
change of sovereigns. With these two merry monarchs, George 
IV. and PhiUppe VII., on the thrones of England and France, an 
era of liberty seemed assured for the hons vivants of Carlton 
House and the Palais Royal, who found themselves perpetually 
hampered by the exercise of the royal authority. 

Under these circumstances it is not surprising that Louis XVL 
found it necessary to prohibit the Due d'Orleans from visiting 
England too frequently. In the Correspondance Secrete we find 
on April 9, 1788, the following significant entry : 

"It is confirmed that one of the conditions that the Due 


d'Orleans' exile should be cancelled is that this prince should 
make a long journey to anywhere except England. To the well- 
founded reasons the King may have for preventing him from 
breathing British air there is, they say, to be added the entreaty 
of George III., who, wishing to maintain the footsteps of the 
Prince of Wales on the paths of order and moraUty, has begged 
his most Christian Majesty not to allow his friends from Paris to 
approach him." 

This, then, was the reason why Louis XVI. stipulated that the 
duke should not spend the term of his exile in England, a stipula- 
tion that, as we have seen, contributed more than any other cause 
to the duke's animosity towards the Court of France. 

The prohibition to visit England was, of course, a serious 
obstacle to the designs of the Due d'Orleans and^hoderloa. de 
Laclos. These journeys, made ostensibly for pleasure, held a 
cleeper purpose. Whilst the wine flowed freely, and George and 
Philippe basked in the smiles of their various enchantresses, who 
could suppose that plots of a serious nature were in progress, and 
that anything more important than the pleasure of the hour 
occupied the brains of the revellers ? 

In England, as in France, however, the conspirators were 
divided in their aims. Not all the English revolutionaries 
belonged to the Prince of Wales's party ; many, like their French 
counterparts, desired no change of sovereign but simple anarchy. 
Throughout the history of our country subversive spirits have 
from time to time arisen to advocate " equahty " and the levelling 
of all ranks to an indifferent public. ** Pride," said the Prince 
de Ligne, " disdains revolutions ; vanity produces them." The 
British people, far more proud than vain, have always responded 
with lukewarm interest to the instigators of class hatred ; per- 
fectly satisfied with their own position in the social scheme they 
care not who considers himself their superior. Liberty they 
demand as a right ; equality they wisely recognize as impossible, 
and dismiss from their calculations. But in England, as in France, 
a minority has always existed, totally distinct from the people, 
whose vanity is greater than its pride. To them obscurity is far 
more intolerable than oppression. Usually members of the 
middle class employed in sedentary occupations and deprived 
of the mental balance that manual labour brings, or occasionally 
of an aristocracy that has failed to show them the appreciation 
they desire, they seek to avenge their own wrongs rather than to 
redress those of the people. Like the Subversives of France they 
have seldom any definite plans of reconstruction — their aim is 
only to destroy. Of such elements were the " Revolution 
Societies " of England in 1789 composed. ^Dr. Robinet, who has 
described them admiringly in his Danton Emigre, under the title 


of *' The English Jacobins," has given us illuminating details of 
their conduct during the course of the Revolution. Like nearly 
every French revolutionary, Dr. Robinet detests England, and his 
comments on the attitude of the British people towards the 
Revolution are very bitter — there were in England, he says, " only 
a respectable minority, a numerous elite," who sympathized with 
the movement. This " respectable minority " consisted of the 
Prince of Wales and his boon companions, and of the Revolu- 
tionary Societies headed by the renegade Lord Stanhope, by 
Dr. Price, Dr. Priestley, and the drunkard Thomas Paine. The 
natural allies of their country's bitterest enemies, the Jacobins 
of France, we shall find them throughout the Revolution, not 
merely abetting the excesses committed abroad, but seeking to 
create a kindred movement at home. It was they, as I shall show, 
who subscribed towards the Revolution ; it was they who frater- 
nized with the revolutionary agitators on their visits to London ; 
it was they who committed the crimes that certain writers have 
falsely attributed to our Government. 

The complicity of these EngUsh Subversives with the revolu- 
tionaries of France is a fact we should do well to reaUze, both in 
justice to the French nation and also with a view to understanding 
the potentiaHties of our own. The smug beUef that none amongst 
our fellow-countrymen would have been capable of the atrocities 
committed in France is shattered at a blow when we read the 
comments of Enghsh revolutionaries on these deeds of horror — 
deeds not to be attributed as we are accustomed to attribute 
them to the excitability of the Latin temperament, but to 
poUtical passions, of all passions the most terrible and relentless 
which men of our own race displayed at the same period without 
the same provocation. In the course of this book we shall see 
that the crimes committed by the lowest of the Paris rabble, and 
execrated by the honest democrats of France, were applauded by 
educated men and women in our country, and if England was not 
plunged in the horrors of anarchy it was not because she did not 
hold within her forces capable of producing them. 

These, then, were the four great intrigues of the French Revolu- 
tion. Their aims may be briefly recapitulated thus : 

I. The intrigue of the Orleanistes to change the dynasty of 

II. The intrigue of the Subversives to destroy aU religion and 

all government. 
III. The intrigue of Prussia to break the Franco-Austrian aUiance. 
IV. The intrigue of the English revolutionaries to overthrow 
the governments both of France and England. 


To these four organized intrigues must be added the in- 
numerable people of all classes, belonging to no particular party, 
but with private grievances of their own, and all ready to throw 
themselves into any subversive movement — Madame de la 
Motte, who raged at her punishment in the affair of the necklace, 
and to whom many of the Ubellous pamphlets against the Queen 
are due ; courtiers who had failed to secure the favours they 
solicited ; women who had been refused admittance to the Court, 
or Hke Madame Roland, felt humiliated by its magnificence 
— all those people who, either by the misfortune of their cir- 
cumstances or by a natural biUousness of temperament, resented 
prosperity in others, and below them all that underworld of vice 
and misery that in every old civiUzation sinks to the bottom 
like the dregs in an old wine, and that any violent convulsion 
brings to the surface with terrible effect. All through the Revolu- 
tion we shall see these heterogeneous rebels, inflamed with 
their own burning thirst for vengeance, mingling with the great 
conspiracies, and the great conspiracies in their turn joining 
forces with each other ; we shall see the agitators of the Palais 
Royal fraternizing with the emissaries of Prussia, Madame de la 
Motte circulating Hbels through the agents of the Due d'Orleans, 
and English revolutionaries corresponding with the cut-throats of 
September. All this confused and turbulent movement, formed 
of such conflicting units, running concurrently with the genuine 
movement for reform, succeeded so skilfully in blending with it 
as to deceive not only contemporaries, but the greater part of 
posterity. " They had," says Malouet, " the art and the wisdom to 
appear in a mass, marching under one banner, the banner of 
liberty, which floated over the heads of men whose secret aims 
were widely divergent, thus presenting a united front to the 
world." So, though all the revolutionary elements put together 
formed but a small minority in the State, they were able, by means 
of this union, to hold their own against the immense but disunited 
majority that composed the Old Regime— a king at variance with 
his Court, a noblesse divided against itself, and a people who 
for want of leaders in their own ranks allowed themselves to 
be swayed by every breath of opinion. Before this rising tide 
of insurrection the Government erected no barriers, to the 
superb organization of the Orleaniste conspiracy provided no 
counter-organization, and to seditious doctrines rephed with no 
corrective propaganda. " Will posterity beheve," cried Arthur 
Young, as he watched the engineering of the Revolution, " that 
while the press has swarmed with inflammatory productions, 
that tend to prove the blessings of theoretical confusion and 
speculative licentiousness, not one writer of talent has been 
employed to refute and confound the fashionable doctrines, 


nor the least care taken to disseminate works of another 
complexion ? " 

Playfair, another EngUsh contemporary, was amazed by the 
incredible inertia of the ruling classes : " In this state of things, 
did the proprietors pay a single man of merit to plead their 
cause ? No. If by chance a man of merit refuted their enemies, 
did they make a small sacrifice to give pubUcity to his work ? 
No. He who pleaded the cause of murder and plunder saw his 
work distributed by thousands and hundreds of thousands, and 
himself enriched ; while he who endeavoured to support the cause 
of law, of order, and of the proprietor, had his bookseller to pay 
and saw his labours converted into waste paper." ^ 

So at the outbreak of the Revolution all dynamic force, all 
fire and energy, were to be found on the side of demoUtion, 
whilst the Old Regime, resolutely bUnd to the coming danger, 
allowed itself to be destroyed without striking a blow in self- 

^ Playf air's History of Jacobinism, p. io8. 





The spring of 1789 found the citizens of Paris divided between 
two great emotions, hope and fear — hope verging on ecstasy 
at the prospect of the States-General that were to regenerate the 
kingdom, fear amounting to panic at the threatened famine and 
the presence of mysterious strangers in their midst. 

The immense charities of the King, noblesse, and clergy had 
had the effect of attracting crowds of hungry peasants to Paris, 
where they were employed at the King's expense in working at the 
Butte Montmartre, and soon fell a prey to the Orleaniste leaders, 
who enhsted many of them in their service for the purposes of 
insurrection. But even this formidable addition to the under- 
world of Paris formed but a small minority amongst the law- 
abiding of the population, and a further measure was devised by 
the leaders. Towards the end of April the peaceful citizens saw 
with bewilderment bands of ragged men of horrible appearance, 
armed with thick knotted sticks, flocking through the barriers into 
the city. This sinister contingent is not, as certain historians 
would have us beUeve, to be confounded with the former crowds 
of peasants — " they were neither workmen nor peasants," says 
Madame Vigee le Brun, " they seemed to belong to no class unless 
that of bandits, so terrifying were their faces," and Montjoie adds 
that this aspect was intentional — " they had been instructed 
to disfigure their faces in a manner so hideous that they were 
objects of horror to all the Parisians." Other contemporaries, 
whose accounts exactly coincide with the foregoing, add that 
these men were " foreigners " — " they spoke a strange tongue " ; 
Bouille states that " they were bandits from the South of France 
and Italy," whilst Marmontel describes them as " Marseillais . . . 
men of rapine and carnage, thirsting for blood and booty, who, 
minghng with the people, inspired them with their own ferocity." 

The Marseillais were therefore not called in for the first time 
in 1792, as is generally supposed, and their aid was evidently 
evoked at the later date in consequence of their successes at the 



beginning of the Revolution. That brigands from the South 
were dehberately enticed to Paris in 1789, employed and paid 
by the revolutionary leaders, is a fact confirmed by authorities 
too numerous to quote at length ; and the further fact that the 
conspirators felt such a measure to be necessary is of immense 
significance, for it shows that in their eyes the people of Paris were 
not to he depended on to carry out a revolution. In other words, 
the importation of the contingent of hired brigands conclusively 
refutes the theory that the Revolution was an irrepressible rising 
of the people ; it proves that, on the contrary, the movement was 
dehberately and laboriously engineered. No one understood 
human nature better than such men as Laclos, Chamfort, and the 
other leaders of the Orleaniste conspiracy, and they doubtless 
realized that in the past the irresponsible, pleasure-loving people 
of Paris had shown Uttle initiative in the matter of bloodshed, 
but had needed always to be given the lead before they entered 
into the spirit of the thing and played at killing. Thus at the 
Massacre of Saint-Bartholomew had not the lead been given by 
the German Behme and the ItaHan Catherine de Medicis before 
the people of the city joined in the hue and cry after the flying 
Huguenots ? Pitiless as they could be at moments, they were 
prone to sudden revulsions of feehng that in an instant trans- 
formed their victims into objects of admiration ; they lacked the 
hot blood of the South that revels in cruelty and does not tire 
of the spectacle. Just as the Anarchists of our own day have 
always reaUzed that it is amongst the descendants of the Roman 
populace who gathered in the Coliseum to watch the brutal 
sports of the arena that they must seek the assassin they needed 
to track down their royal victim, so the conspirators of 1789 
knew that it was to the South that they must look for that sombre 
ferocity which the Ught-hearted Parisians lacked, and in the 
sun-baked regions of Italy and Provence, where a dagger-thrust 
is still but the everyday ending to a quarrel, they found the 
terrible instruments that they required. 

Thus side by side the work of reformation and the work of 
revolution had gone forward, smd whilst the deputies of the 
people were assembling the leaders of insurrection were Hkewise 
mustering their forces. It was a race between the two — who 
was to be first in the field ? those who desired to build up or 
those who sought only to destroy ? Revolution won the day, 
and on the 27th of April the first outbreak occurred in Paris. 

The victim of this extraordinary riot was a certain wall- 
paper manufacturer of the Faubourg Saint - Antoine named 
Reveillon, who had recently been chosen elector for the Tiers 
£tat in opposition to the Orleaniste candidate. According to 
certain historians " the rumour went round " that Reveillon had 


spoken slightingly of working-men at the electoral assembly, 
but Montjoie states that this accusation was definitely proclaimed 
through the streets by a horde of the brigands dragging with 
them an effigy of Reveillon, and calling out to the people 
that he had said a workman could live quite well on fifteen 
sous a day. 

This device of inventing a phrase and placing it in the mouth 
of any one they wished to offer up to popular fury was regularly 
adopted by the agitators in all the earlier riots of the Revolution, 
and often succeeded in completely deceiving the people. In the 
case of Reveillon, however, the calumny was palpably absurd ; 
the paper-maker was well known and respected in the Faubourg ; 
he himself had started hfe as a working-man, and when he had 
made his fortune resolved that his employes should never know 
the hardships he had endured. Not one of his workmen was 
paid less than twenty-five sous a day, and during the recent severe 
winter he had kept them all on at full pay although unable to 
give them work. The inhabitants of the Faubourg knew better, 
therefore, than to believe the calumny against their benefactor, 
and refused to riot. The agitators and their allies the brigands 
were consequently obliged to resort to force in order to raise a 
mob. Montjoie, who was an eye-witness of the whole affair, and 
whose account is confirmed in nearly every point by other reliable 
contemporaries, states that *' these ruffians went into the factories 
and workshops and compelled the workmen to follow them. This 
method of swelling a mob of insurrection . . . was adopted through- 
out the whole revolution. To begin with, about fifty rioters, men 
or women, surround the first person they meet on their way, two 
of the rioters hold him tightly under the arms and carry him off 
against his will ... by this means, when the troop has arrived 
on the battle-field, its numbers alarm those against whom it is 
directed. On this occasion the horde of brigands was increased 
by all the workmen they had enrolled against their wills." ^ 

By this laborious method a disorderly mob was collected 
who marched to Reveillon's house in the Rue de Montreuil, 
which, on arrival, they found to be surrounded by a cordon of 
troops. The street being thus rendered impassable the crowd 
was held up, but at this opportune moment the Due d'Orleans 
happenedio drive past on his way to the race-meeting at Vincennes, 
where his horses were running against those of the Comte d'Artois. 

^ Bezenval, who was in command of the Swiss Guards, exactly corro- 
borates this statement : " All the spies of the police agreed in saying that 
the insurrection was caused by strange men who, in order to increase their 
numbers, took by force those they met on their way ; they had even sent 
three times to the Faubourg Saint-Marceau to raise recruits without being 
able, to persuade any one to join them. These spies added that they saw 
men inciting the tumult and even distributing money." 


He stopped his carriage, got down, spoke a few words to the 
rioters, and then drove on again. The duke afterwards admitted 
his appearance on the scene, but explained it by saying that his 
intention was merely to soothe the people, and that the words 
he had spoken were " Allons, mes enfants, de la paix : nous 
touchons au bonheur." The exhortation did not, however, have 
the effect of dispersing the mob, which continued to besiege the 
house of Reveillon until the evening, when the Duchesse d'Orleans 
in returning from Vincennes passed by the Rue de Montreuil, 
which was still barricaded by the troops. Out of respect for the 
duchess — ^whom no one associated with her husband's intrigues — 
the soldiers immediately opened a way for her, and thereupon the 
mob, seeing their opportunity, burst through the same passage 
and fell upon the house of Reveillon, which they proceeded to 
pillage and destroy. 

Three more regiments were now sent to the scene of action, 
and the officers called upon the invaders to retire. The order 
was repeated three times without effect, the rioters replying only 
with a hail of stones and tiles that they hurled from the housetop 
on the soldiers, killing several. Then by way of warning a few 
shots were fired into the air by the troops, and this time the mob 
retaliated with still more formidable missiles in the shape of roof- 
beams and immense blocks of stone torn from the invaded 
building. So at last the soldiers, finding pacific methods of no 
avail, opened fire on the housetop, carrying death and destruc- 
tion into the ranks of the rioters — " the unhappy creatures fell 
from the roofs, the walls dripped with blood, the pavement was 
covered with mutilated limbs." The survivors took refuge inside 
the house and prepared to carry on the siege, but the troops 
entered with fixed bayonets, and by dint of hand-to-hand fighting 
succeeded finally in clearing the premises and ending the riot. 

Montjoie afterwards visited the wounded and questioned 
them on the motives that had inspired their actions : " Unhappy 
one, what were you doing there ? " And one and all made the 
same reply, " What was I doing there ? I went, like you, Uke 
every one else, just to see." But one poor wretch dying in agony 
exclaimed, " Mon Dieu, mon Dieu, must one be treated in this way 
for twelve miserable francs ? " He had, in fact, exactly twelve 
francs in his pocket, and the same sum was found on many of 
the other rioters.^ 

Meanwhile Reveillon himself had succeeded in escaping during 
the tumult and fled for refuge to the Bastille, where he remained 
under the protection of the governor, De Launay, until he could 
venture out again in safety. Compensation was made him by 
the King for his ruined industry. 

* Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, i. 275. 


Such was the Affaire Reveillon which historians are fond of 
describing as mysterious and inexpHcable. Yet contemporaries 
of all parties admit that it was engineered by agitators ; the only 
question on which they differ is, " By whom were these agitators 
employed ? " The revolutionaries according to their usual 
custom reply, *'The Court." The Court and aristocracy, they 
solemnly assure us, dehberately provoked the riot in order to find 
an excuse for firing on the people ! Later on we shall find the 
aristocrats accused of burning down their chateaux for the same 
purpose. The suggestion is too ludicrous to be taken seriously. 
Why should the Court wish to provoke a riot against itself ? 
Why should a mob raised by aristocrats reproach Reveillon with 
being a friend of aristocrats ? Why should the Court incite 
popular fury against a law-abiding citizen and a loyal subject of 
the King ? Above all, if the Court wished for an excuse to use force 
against the people, why did they not hasten to use it ? Why was 
every concihatory method resorted to before force was employed ? 

That the Affaire Reveillon was the work of the Orleaniste 
conspiracy no one who brings an impartial mind to bear on 
contemporary evidence can possibly doubt ; the presence of the 
duke, and it is said also of Laclos, amongst the crowd, the fact 
that the riot was carried on to the cry of " Vive le due d' Orleans ! " 
and even " Vive notre roi d'Orleans ! " ^ is surely proof enough 
of the influences at work. JTalleyrand— who well knew the 
intricacies of the Orleaniste intrigue — definitely stated that it 
was organized by Laclos, whilst Chamfort, himself a member of 
the conspiracy, admitted to Marmontel that the movement was 
financed by the duke. " Money," he said, " and the hope of 
plunder are aU-powerful with the people. We have just made 
the experiment in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, and you would 
not believe how Uttle it cost the Due d'Orleans to get them to 
sack the manufactory of the honest Reveillon, who amidst these 
same people was the means of livelihood for a hundred families. 
Mirabeau cheerfully asserts that with lOO louis one can make 
quite a good riot." ^ 

What was the Orleanistes' object in singUng out Reveillon 

1 See, for example, the letter from the English ambassador in Paris, the 
Duke of Dorset, to the Duke of Leeds, April 30, 1789 : " The Due d'Orleans 
has experienced repeated marks of popular favour lately, and particularly 
on Tuesday last. As he was returning through the Faubourg Saint- 
Antoine the people frequently called out ' Vive la maison d'Orleans ! ' " 
Madame de la Tour du Pin, who drove through the Faubourg during the 
riot with some of the Palais Royal party, relates that " the sight of the 
livery of Orleans . . . stirred the enthusiasm of this riff-raff. They 
stopped us a moment calUng out, ' Long live our father, long live our 
King Orleans 1' " [Journal d'une Femme de Cinquante Ans, i. 177). 

* M&moires de Marmontel, iv. 82. 


as a victim ? The defeat of their own candidate at the 
elections was certainly disconcerting to their projects, but it 
is evident that there was a still more definite reason for their 
animosity. The Faubourg Saint-Antoine, where Reveillon's 
manufactory was situated, had an entirely working-class popula- 
tion, whilst the Faubourg Saint -Marceau was the centre of 
destitution. These two poor and populous quarters of the city 
were the strongholds of the agitators ; popular movements never 
originated there, but were devised at Montrouge or the Club 
Breton, worked up at the Palais Royal, whence they spread to 
the Faubourgs and produced the desired explosion. By this 
means the Faubourg Saint-Antoine became simply the echo of 
the Palais Royal. But an influential agent was needed in the 
district, and Montjoie asserts that Reveillon was therefore 
approached by the Orleanistes with the view of enticing him into 
the conspiracy. These overtures were met, however, with an 
indignant refusal by the honest paper-maker, and the post was 
offered to the rough and brutal brewer Santerre, who accepted 
it with alacrity. From this moment " General Mousseux " — as 
Santerre was nicknamed by the people on account of the frothy 
beer he manufactured — became an intime of the Due d' Orleans, 
driving about Paris with him in his cabriolet, dining with him at 
cabarets,^ and whilst referring to the people as " vile brigands and 
rascally rabble," ^ scattering amongst them the gold with which 
the duke provided him. It is easy, therefore, to understand that 
Reveillon with his three to four hundred well-paid and contented 
workmen, in the very quarter where the agitators were exerting 
every effort to sow discontent, proved highly obnoxious to the 
conspirators, and the destruction of the paper factory was hardly 
less necessary to their designs than the destruction of that other 
building in the same district — the chateau of the Bastille. The 
factory and the fortress must therefore both be destroyed before 
the agitators could depend on the Faubourg to carry out their 
designs unchecked. 

The Affaire Reveillon thus served a double purpose, for it had 
not only cleared the ground of one obstacle, but it had prepared 
the way for the removal of the other ; it was, in fact, an admirable 
rehearsal for the attack on the Bastille, it had enabled the con- 
spirators to test the efficacy of their methods for assembling a 
mob, and if it had ended in defeat they reaUzed that they had 
but to overcome the loyalty of the troops in order to ensure the 
success of the further venture. As this book will show, every one 
of the great popular tumults of the Revolution was preceded by 

^ Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, i. 210, 211, confirmed by Maton de 
la Varenne, Histoire Particuliire, etc. 

* MSmoires de Sinart, edit, de Lescure, p. 27. 


some such abortive rising— the 14th of July by the 27th of April, 
the 6th of October by the 30th of August, and the loth of August 
1792 by the 20th of June. On each of these occasions the agitators, 
finding it impossible to rouse the people to the required pitch of 
violence, were obliged to cast about for fresh methods to achieve 
their ends. 

It will be seen, therefore, that any account of the Siege of 
the Bastille must begin with its prelude in the Affaire R6veillon. 
From this moment the conspirators never relaxed their efforts 
to corrupt the troops and to undermine the royal authority. 
In order to understand how they accompHshed their purpose 
we must follow their movements not only in the city of Paris but 
in the States-General that met at Versailles on the 5th of May, 
a week after the Affaire Reveillon. 


It is a common device of pro-revolutionary writers to repre- 
sent the National Assembly (into which the States-General 
were transformed on June 17) as divided into two opposing 
camps formed by revolutionary leaders who desired reforms 
and by reactionaries who opposed them. According to this 
theory the delay in framing the Constitution was caused merely 
by the recalcitrance of the noblesse and clergy in relinquishing 
their privileges. But if we study the reports of the debates that 
took place in the Assembly we shall find that the real obstruc- 
tionists were the revolutionary deputies. For in the Assembly, 
as in the city of Paris, two of the great conspiracies had their 
representatives — the OrUanistes led by Mirabeau and including 
Bamave and the two Lameths, also the duke himself and his boon 
companions the Due de Biron and the Marquis de Sillery, and the 
Subversives who consisted in a herd of quarrelsome nonentities, 
of which Robespierre was the typical representative.^ These two 
revolutionary factions, far from representing democracy, were 
concerned solely in furthering their own designs. For since not 
a single cahier had expressed dissatisfaction either with the 
reigning dynasty or with the monarchy, the faction that wished 
to replace Louis XVI. by the Due d'Orleans and the faction that 
wished to destroy the monarchy were both equally opposed to 
the people's wishes. The election of these members as repre- 

^ Gouverneur Morris well described this faction under the name of the 
" Enrages " : " These are the most numerous, and are of that class which 
in America is known by the name of pettifogging lawyers, together with a 
host of curates and many of those who, in all revolutions, throng to the 
standard of change because they are not well" [sic] {Diary and Letters 
of Gouverneur Morris, i. 277). 


sentatives of the people had therefore been secured on false 
pretences, and their attitude from the outset was necessarily one 
of dupUcity and imposture. Unable to avow their real policy 
lest they should be (isowned by their constituents, they adopted 
a method which effectually delayed the work of reform — ^that of 
diverting attention from the real issues at stake by perpetual 
quibbles over matters of no importance. 

It was against these revolutionary obstructionists far more 
than against the reactionary portion of the noblesse that the true 
reformers had to contend. Now the party which advocated 
true reform was represented by several very able and enlightened 
men — Jean Joseph Mounier, a magistrate from Dauphine, noted 
for his integrity and love of justice, Pierre Victor Malouet, the 
Comte de Virieu, the Comte de Lally Tollendal, and the Comte 
de Clermont Tonnerre. This party, known as that of the " Royalist 
democrats " and later as the " Constitutionals," represented in 
reaUty the cause of true democracy, and their royalism resulted 
solely from the fact that in the person of Louis XVI. they saw, 
as did the people, the surest guarantee of liberty and justice. 
" The majority of the people," says Bouille, " were attached to 
this party, as also all the municipalities of the kingdom and the 
Gardes Nationales. The plan of the leaders was to establish 
a democratic monarchy that they called ' a royal democracy.' " 
If we refer again to the cahiers we shaU find that this policy 
was exactly in accord with the unanimous desires of the nation, 
and we shall then recognize the fundamental error of regarding 
the Revolution as the movement for reform carried to excess. 
Reform and revolution were two totally distinct movements, and not 
only distinct but directly opposed to each other. 

Since, in all assemblies, those who make the most noise are 
those that most readily obtain a hearing, the Tiers £tat allowed 
itself to be dominated by the two contentious factions, and the 
voice of reform was drowned by floods of futile verbiage. So, 
although revolutionary writers depict the people of France at 
this crisis as on the verge of starvation and " groaning mider 
oppressions," we have only to consult the Moniteur to find that 
during the first four weeks after the opening of the States-General 
not one word was spoken in the hall of the Tiers Etat on the subject 
of the famine or the sufferings of the people. When at last after 
a month it was suggested, not by the Tiers ttat but by the clergy, 
that the Assembly should turn its attention to the question of 
the people's bread, the proposal was received with a howl of 
execration by the revolutionary factions. " It was just like the 
clergy ! " to try by these means to divert attention from the union 
of the orders ! " The clergy should be denounced as seditious ! " 
Robespierre in a violent diatribe demanded why the clergy, if 


they were so concerned for the people's welfare, did not sell all 
they possessed to supply their needs. ^ The speech was as sense- 
less as it was unjust ; the HberaUty of the clergy in the matter of 
relieving distress had been unbounded, and, as everybody knew, 
the famine was not caused by lack of funds but by the difficulty 
of obtaining and circulating grain. But this was the point of all 
others on which the revolutionary factions were the most anxious 
to avoid inquiry, and their complicity with the monopolizers is 
evident from the debates that took place on the subject of 
monopoly. Now, if ever, was their opportunity for publicly 
denouncing the " aristocrats " they accused of cornering the 
grain, but far from substantiating these charges their poHcy 
was invariably to suppress all discussion of the question. Thus, 
as M. Louis Blanc in a rare fit of candour admits, " the sacred 
question of feeding the people was lost to sight," and " the 
Assembly in a way passed over social misery and the hunger of 
the people to other subjects." These subjects were, of course, 
inevitably party quarrels in general, and the *' Union of the 
Orders " in particular. 

This is not the place to discuss the vexed question of a single 
chamber ; much was to be said for it, much against it. The true 
democrats of the Assembly undoubtedly desired it on the ground 
that no reforms could be effected if the noblesse and clergy were 
enabled to obstruct them. Arthur Young considered this un- 
reasonable. " Among such men, the common idea is that 
anything tending towards a separate order, Uke our House of 
Lords, is absolutely inconsistent with liberty ; all which seems 
perfectly wild and unfounded." 

Whether the union of the three orders was advisable or not, 
one thing is certain — ^that the revolutionary factions did every- 
thing in their power to prevent it taking place by their aggressive 
attitude towards the nobihty and clergy. But the great objec- 
tion to the union of the three orders lay in the fact that the Tiers 
£tat insisted on admitting strangers indiscriminately to their 
debates, with the result that the most frightful confusion pre- 
vailed, and that the deputies, instead of expressing their real 
convictions, were tempted to talk to the galleries in order to win 
popularity. " Learn, sir," said the deputy Bouche to Malouet 
in a speech on May 28, "that we are debating here in the 
presence of our masters ! " 

The revolutionary leaders took care to ensure support from 
the galleries, and a great part of the audience was their own 
claque, composed of Paris idlers and ruffians in their pay, 
whom they sent for to intimidate their adversaries, and who, 
before long, not content with applauding sedition, expressed 
^ Souvenirs sur Mirabeau, by litienne Dumont, p. 44. 


their disapproval by boos and hisses. What assembly, however 
democratic, could continue to debate under such conditions ? ^ 

So great was the confusion into which the revolutionary 
factions succeeded in throwing the Assembly that Louis XVI. 
finally resolved to intervene, and announced his intention of 
holding a Seance Royale. For this purpose it was necessary 
to make use of the hall of the Tiers fitat, the " Salle des Menus 
Plaisirs," which, being the largest of the three, was the only one 
capable of containing the deputies of all three orders, and had 
therefore been used for the meeting of the States-General. Ac- 
cordingly the Tiers were informed that the hall must be closed 
to debates for two days only^ and in order to avert ill-feeling the 
halls of the noblesse and clergy were closed likewise. The 
announcement was received without a murmur by the " privileged 
orders," but the Tiers, furious at the royal edict, repaired to the 
** tennis court " close by and held an indignation meeting, where, 
at the instigation of Mounier — ^who afterwards bitterly repented 
his action — ^they swore not to separate until they had framed the 

Regardless of this act of open insubordination Louis XVI. 
appeared at the Seance Royale on June 23 ^ and announced 
his intentions to the Assembly. In dignified yet touching words 
he besought the representatives of the people to carry on the 
work of reform he had inaugurated ; he reminded them that the 

^ See the evidence of Arthur Young, an eye-witness of these scenes : 
" The spectators in the galleries are allowed to interfere in the debates 
by clapping their hands, and other noisy expressions of approbation : this 
is grossly indecent ; for if they are permitted to express approbation, they 
are, by parity of reason, allowed expressions of dissent, and they may 
hiss as well as clap, which it is said they have sometimes done : this would 
be to overrule the debate and influence the deliberations. Another cir- 
cumstance is the want of order among themselves ; more than once to-day 
.there were more than a hundred members on their legs at a time," etc. 
\/^ {Travels in France, p. 165). Lord Dorset in a letter to the Duke of Leeds 
on June 4, 1789, confirms this description: " I am told that the most 
extravagant and disrespectful language against Government has been held, 
and that upon all such occasions the greatest approbation is expressed by 
the audience, by clapping of hands and other demonstrations of satisfac- 
tion : in short, the encouragement is such as to have led some of the speakers 
on to say things little short of treason. The NobiUty, as may be supposed, 
are roughly treated in these debates, and their conduct does not escape 
being represented in the most odious light possible. The Clergy and 
Nobihty hold their meetings in separate chambers, and neither of them 
admit strangers to be present at their dehberations " {Dispatches from 
Paris, ii. 207). 

' The Stance Royale was announced for Monday, June 22, and the hall 
was closed on Saturday the 20th. As the Assembly did not sit on Sundays, 
this meant the Seance of Saturday only would be missed. 

* At the request of Necker the Stance Royale was afterwards post- 
poned till Tuesday the 23rd. 


States-General had been assembled for nearly two months, yet had 
not been able to agree on the preliminaries of their work ; he 
appealed to their love for their country, to their traditions as 
Frenchmen, to cease from dissensions and work together for the 
common good. " I owe it to myself to put an end to these 
disastrous differences ; it is with this resolution that I have 
gathered you around me as the father of all my subjects, as the 
defender of the laws of my kingdom." 

Since it was essential, without further delay, to meet the 
demands of the people, the King proceeded to enumerate the 
reforms that, acting on the royal prerogative, he proposed to 
introduce. These were, above all, the equaUty of taxation and 
abolition of the pecuniary privileges of the noblesse and clergy ; 
further, the total abolition of the taille, of corvees, francs- 
fiefs, lettres de cachet, mainmorte, and personal charges, 
greater liberty of the press, the mitigation or even the abolition 
of the gabelle, and the restriction of capitaineries or game- 

Thus of his own accord the King had redressed the principal 
grievances of the Old Regime ; he refused, however, to abolish 
all the feudal rights of the noblesse and clergy, which he held 
not to be his to do away with. This sacrifice was therefore left 
to the two orders to make themselves, and they made it voluntarily 
six weeks later. The King's speech ended with these significant 
words : 

" You have heard, messieurs, the result of my inclinations 
and my views . . . and if by a fataUty far from my thoughts 
you abandon me in so great an enterprise, alone I will accomplish 
the welfare of my people, alone I shall consider myself as their 
true representative ; and knowing your cahiers, knowing the 
perfect accord that exists between the general wishes of the nation 
and my benevolent intentions ... I shall walk towards the 
goal with all the courage and firmness that it inspires in me." 

What could this mean ? One thing only. Those two 
ominous phrases had made the King's intentions clear — " alone 
I will accompUsh the welfare of my people, alone I shall consider 
myself as their true representative." In other words, the King 
intimated that if the Tiers Etat did not cease its quarrels and 
"get to business," he would dissolve the States-General and carry 
out the work of reform himself. 

What wonder that the King's discourse was received in 
gloomy silence by the Tiers ? What wonder that the factions 
trembled in their seats ? What wonder that Orl6anistes and 
Subversives alike feared for those fortunes they had hoped to 
build on pubUc confusion ? What wonder that Mirabeau, seeing 
the ministry he coveted vanishing into space, rose in wrath to 



utter his famous " apostrophe " ? The King had left the hall, 
and De Br6z6, the master of ceremonies, declared the sitting 
ended, when Mirabeau, who exactly a week before in supporting 
the royal veto had stated, " I could imagine nothing more 
terrible than the sovereign aristocracy of 600 persons who 
to-morrow might declare themselves immovable," now insolently 
defied the King's order with the words, " We will only leave 
our places by the force of the bayonet ! " 

So ended this sitting that tnight have laid the foundations 
of French liberty for ever. The thing that the revolutionary 
factions dreaded more than any other threatened to occur — the 
regeneration of the kingdom was to be accomplished peacefully 
and the monarchy established on a free and constitutional basis. 
If any further proof were needed that the work of the revolu- 
tionary factions was actively opposed to the work of reform, it 
is to be found in this one undeniable fact that, throughout the 
whole Revolution until the fall of the monarchy, every concession 
made by the King to the desires of the people, every step in the work 
of the reform, was the signal for a fresh outbreak of revolutionary 

Accordingly the immense reforms of the Seance Royale, far 
from bringing a peaceful settlement of the crisis, were followed 
by renewed scenes of violence. Two days later the Archbishop 
of Paris, beloved by all the true people for his benevolence and 
the uprightness of his Ufe, was attacked by a band of hired 
rioters as he was leaving the Assembly, and only escaped with 
his hfe owing to the speed of his horses and the courage and 
presence of mind of his coachman. 

The fact that four days after the Seance Royale the noblesse 
and clergy, in obedience to the King's command, settled the 
burning question of a single chamber by joining the Tiers fitat, 
did nothing to allay the fermentation the revolutionaries had 
succeeded in creating. If, as the Tiers ]£tat had declared, the 
refusal of the noblesse to concede this point had been the only 
obstacle to the work of reform, why did this work not proceed 
now that the obstacle had been removed ? On the contrary, 
the Tiers, once they had the noblesse and clergy at their mercy, 
showed themselves more aggressive than ever and in no way 
disposed to discuss peaceably the regeneration of the kingdom. 
True, a " committee of subsistences " was formed for dealing 
with the question of the famine, but as it consisted almost entirely 
of Orleanistes, including the Due d' Orleans himself, nothing was 
done to relieve the distress of the people, and the famine con- 
tinued its ravages. 



Whilst these scenes were taking place at Versailles the 
agitators of Paris, in close touch with the revolutionary factions 
of the Assembly, had been busy stirring up insurrection. Night 
and day the dusty garden of the Palais Royal was filled to over- 
flowing ; no longer merely a haunt of vice, it had now become 
a poUtical arena — a sort of Trafalgar Square and Burhngton 
Arcade combined — where every device was employed to play 
upon the passions of men — ^women, wine, the lust of gold, envy, 
hatred, and revenge. At the little tables outside the cafes 
idlers gathered in heated debate ; under the long arcades, where 
the marchands de frivoliUs displayed their wares, painted women 
of the town walked arm-in-arm attracting with bold glances 
the soldiers who passed by ; in the gambling hells the rattle of 
the dice and the clink of coin continued far into the night, and 
under the trees cheap- jack politicians with rolling eyes and 
furious gestures stirred the people to violence. With these 
mob orators noise was of the first importance, and working them- 
selves up into convulsions of revolutionary frenzy they shrieked 
invectives against the aristocrats and the Court, or yelled foul 
blasphemies on God and religion. 

Most violent of all was the Marquis de St. Huruge, an ex- 
convict, whose stentorian voice seemed indefatigable ; above 
the heads of the crowd his white hat could be seen afar, a rally- 
ing point for disorder, whilst with an immense cudgel, manipu- 
lated like a conductor's baton, he roused or soothed the passions 
of his auditors. Philippe d'Orleans, looking down on this scene 
from his windows at the end of the long square, had reason to 
congratulate himself on the vast machinery that the genius of 
Choderlos de Laclos had set in motion. Recently a number of 
new recruits had been added to the conspiracy, of which the 
most important was a young journalist from Guise, Camille 
DesmouUns — discovered by Mirabeau — who tempted the greed 
of the populace with promises of booty to be wrested from the 
nobility and clergy : 

" The brute is in the trap, then kill it ! . . . Never was 
richer prey offered to the conqueror ! Forty thousand palaces, 
hotels, and chateaux, two-fifths of the wealth of France, will be 
the price of valour ! " ^ 

The services of several new agitators had also been enlisted 
— the comedian Grammont, a man of extraordinary ferocity, 
with, as we shall see later, a literal " taste for blood " ; a convict 
from San Domingo known as Foumier I'Am^ricain, Stanislas 

^ La France Libre. 


Maillard, a future director of the September massacres, and one 
woman whose wit and daring was to prove an immense acquisi- 
tion to the cause.^ 

Anne Terwagne of Marcourt was a Belgian demi-mondaine 
and an old friend of the Due d'Orleans when the Revolution 
broke out. Several years before she had been introduced to 
him in London by the Prince of Wales, and it was to the duke 
she owed her rise to fortune, for on her return to Paris she became 
a briUiant courtesan with jewels, carriages, and horses, and 
under the name of " Comtesse de Campinados " travelled about 
the Continent with various rich protectors.^ The " Comtesse " 
was in Rome when the States-General met, but the gathering 
of the revolutionary storm brought her hurriedly back to Paris, 
where, adopting " Theroigne de Mericourt " as her nom de guerre, 
she threw herself into the cause of her old benefactor, the Due 
d'Orleans. Theroigne was far from resembUng the " unfortunate 
female " burning to avenge her wrongs on a corrupt society, 
who masqueraded under her name through the pages of Carlyle, 
for it was with the most corrupt portion of society that she now 
identified herself. Small and fragile, with brilliant black eyes, 
an impertinent retrousse nose, and " a waist that a man could 
encircle with his ten fingers," Theroigne at her salon in the 
Rue de Bouloi reigned as a queen of the demi-monde, assembling 
around her the leaders of the Orleaniste conspiracy, of which 
the Abb6 Sieyes was her particular idol. 

The role played by courtesans in the earlier stages of the 
Revolution has never been properly estimated by historians ; 
but for the co-operation of these women, from Theroigne de 
Mericourt down to the humblest fille de joie, it is doubtful 
whether the great scheme of the Orleanistes — the defection of 
the army — could ever have been reaUzed. The French Guards, 
the gayest and most essentially Parisian regiment in the army, 
were habitual frequenters of the Palais Royal, and thus became 
the aUies of the courtesans who lodged in the surrounding houses 
and haunted the arcades ; in some cases the soldiers played 
the part of souteneurs, sharing the incomes of the Jllles de 
joie, and these incomes being now largely increased by the 
bounty of the duke, both reaped the golden harvest sown by 
the conspirators. By this means the French Guards, who had 
stood firm at the Affaire Reveillon, were gradually turned from 
their allegiance. Towards the end of June, the regiment having 
been confined to barracks for insubordination, three hundred 
broke loose and paraded the streets of Paris, finally presenting 

* Montjoie, Conjuration de d'Orlians, i. 221 ; Philippe d'OrUans ^galiU, 
by Auguste Ducoin, p. 50. 

* Thiroigne de AUricourt, by Marcellin Pellet, p, 10. 


t hemselves at the Palais Royal, where they received a rapturous 
reception from the courtesans and were regaled with wine and 
good cheer. 

This open revolt at last spurred the authorities to action 
and eleven of the ringleaders were imprisoned in the Abbaye. 
Immediately a yell of indignation went up from the Palais Royal, 
and an army of brigands, led by Jourdan, with Maillard as his 
aide-de-camp and Theroigne de Mericourt as Amazon, set forth 
to deliver the " victims of despotism." With clubs and hatchets 
the doors of the Abbaye were broken down, and all the prisoners — 
not only the deserters but a number of criminals — ^were let loose 
in the streets. Once more the Palais Royal received the rebels, 
a magnificent supper was spread, whilst bonfires and fireworks 
turned night into day. Yet even after this outbreak the King 
was persuaded to pardon the insurgents. It is the custom of 
historians, whether Royahst or Revolutionary, to accuse Louis 
XVI. of weakness. This charge, brought by those who believe 
that a king should be the ruler and not the servant of his people, 
is certainly consistent, but for believers in the sovereignty of 
the people to accuse Louis XVI. of weakness is both unjust 
and illogical. Louis XVI. carried out the principles of democracy 
to their utmost conclusion ; he believed that he existed for his 
people, not his people for him. " Despotism," says the demo- 
cratic Bailly, " had no place in the King's character ; he never 
desired anything but the happiness of his people ; this was the 
only means that could be employed to influence him — a less 
kind-hearted king, cleverer ministers, and there would have 
been no revolution." As long, therefore, as the mob orators 
inveighed against the Court, and the agitators incited the people 
to rise against his own authority, the King refused to put down 
sedition by force ; only when the people turned on each other 
he held it his duty to save them from themselves. When at 
last the scenes of violence taking place at the Palais Royal had 
reached such a pitch that no law-abiding citizen could venture 
inside the garden, the King was placed in the frightful dilemma 
of having to decide whether to bring out troops to restore order, 
and, as at every crisis in the Revolution, he found himself torn 
between conflicting counsels. On the one hand the so-called demo- 
crats of the Assembly represented the iniquity of opposing the 
" sovereign will of the people," on the other hand the noblesse 
and clergy protested that it was " a cruel derision thus to con- 
found the people it was necessary to restrain with those it was 
necessary to protect," and therefore urged the King to order out 
troops for the defence of the town. So great, indeed, was the 
alarm of the citizens that by the end of June the commons of 
Paris began to inaugurate a garde bourgeoise for protection against 


the brigands. Since the assembHng of the troops round Paris 
has been habitually accepted as the principal reason for the 
Revolution of July, this point is important to remember. 

The King finally decided to employ the army for the defence 
of the town ; and as it was essential to guard against further 
defection, two regiments of Swiss and German auxiliaries were 
included, partly because these men were especially amenable 
to discipline, but mainly because their ignorance of the French 
language rendered them less liable to corruption by the agents 
of the Palais Royal.^ The circumstance of their nationality, 
however, afforded a fresh pretext for stirring up the crowd — 
" foreign legions to be employed against the nation I " Yet 
the revolutionaries did not hesitate to welcome these foreigners 
into their own ranks when by their usual methods of women, 
wine, and money they succeeded in seducing them from their 
allegiance to the King. A German hussar mounted in the 
ranks for the defence of French citizens was a " foreign mer- 
cenary " ; the same hussar drinking with the courtesans of 
the Palais Royal to the downfall of the French monarchy was 
a man and a brother. This throughout the Revolution, as we 
shall see, was the " patriotism " of the leaders. 

The presence of any loyal troops, whether foreign or other- 
wise, was naturally calculated to thwart the designs of the 
conspirators, for, apart from the opposition they offered to in- 
surrection, the troops acted as a guard to the convoys of grain 
intended for the capital. The Marechal de BrogUe, the Baron 
de Bezenval, and the Prince de Lambesc had proved untiring 
in their efforts to protect the wagons of com from the on- 
slaughts of the brigands that lay in wait round Paris, and for 
this reason had become odious to the agitators. ^ 

The mob orators of the Palais Royal therefore set to work to 
stir up a fresh panic. " Vast hordes of foreign soldiers were to 
be marched against the capital to massacre the citizens — ^the 
Palais Royal would be given over to pillage — ^the city was to be 
bombarded with red-hot cannon-balls and everything put to 
fire and sword. Meanwhile at Versailles the National Assembly 
was to be blown up by mines laid beneath the floor." This 
wild farrago of nonsense was believed not only by the ignorant 
populace of Paris, but was seriously repeated by the deputies 
themselves. Mirabeau at the Assembly, working on their alarms, 
exerted all his energy to fan the flame of insurrection : 

" When troops advance from all sides, when camps are formed 

1 Marmontel, iv. 137; Dispatches from Paris, letter from Lord Dorset, 
dated July 9, 1789. 

" Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, ii. 19; Mdmoires de BSzenval, 
ii. 396. 


around us, when the capital is besieged, we ask ourselves with 
astonishment, * Does the King doubt the fideUty of his people ? 
What means this threatening display ? Where are the enemies 
of the King and State that must be subdued ? Where are the 
plotters that must be restrained ? ' " 

This whilst the Palais Royal was a hotbed of sedition, when 
" almost every day produced some act of violence," ^ when the 
citizens of Paris themselves were arming for purposes of self- 
protection ! 

The tirade was a masterpiece of hypocrisy and cunning ; no 
one knew better than Mirabeau the necessity for maintaining 
order, no one reahzed more keenly the horrors of anarchy, and 
no one was less truly democratic. 

The King's reply to the demands of the deputies for the with- 
drawal of the troops was brief and to the point : 

" No one is ignorant of the disorders and scandalous scenes 
that have taken place repeatedly in Paris and Versailles under 
my eyes and those of the States-General. It is necessary that 
I should employ all the means within my power to restore and 
maintain order in the capital and its surroundings. It is one 
of my principal duties to guard public safety. These are the 
motives that led me to assemble troops round Paris, and you can 
assure the States-General that they are intended only to repress 
or rather to avert such-Uke disorders, to enforce the law, even 
to assure and protect the Uberty that should reign in your de- 
liberations. . . . Only evilly-disposed persons could mislead my 
people as to the true motives for the precautionary measures 
I have taken. I have invariably sought to do all that I could 
to contribute to their happiness, and I have always had reason 
to beUeve in their love and loyalty." 

That the King was absolutely sincere in making these assur- 
ances was afterwards proved by the trial of Bezenval, the com- 
mander of the Swiss Guard. In January 1790 the Commune 
of Paris, at the instigation of the Orleanistes, arraigned Bezenval 
before the tribunal of the Chatelet for " having entered into a 
conspiracy formed against the hberty of the French people, of 
the National Assembly, and particularly of the city of Paris " 
in the preceding July. No proof whatever of a conspiracy was 
forthcoming ; on the contrary, it was proved by documentary 
evidence that the intentions of the Ministry and of M. de Bezenval 
" were the most pacific and paternal " ; the letters produced 
" manifested the plan of this officer for guarding the provision- 
mpnt of Paris, for which purpose the troops were assembled, and 
that, far from any design to destroy the citizens, they had been 
assembled to protect them." They were necessary also " to 
^ Dispatches from Paris, ii. 237, letter from Lord Dorset. 


repress the brigands who had akeady caused disorders in Paris 
and who might be plotting further disorders." These facts 
having been proved Bezenval was acquitted, and, in spite of the 
protests of Marat, the Moniteur itself recognized the justice of 
the decision : " The information taken was immense, but nothing 
criminal was discovered against the defendant and he was 
acquitted. It would be necessary to have very strong proofs 
to suspect a perfidious collusion between a respected municipaUty 
and an esteemed tribunal only for the purpose of deceiving the 
populace concerning pretended offences of which the most minute 
investigation has been unable to prove the reality." ^ That the 
troops were therefore intended for no aggressive purpose is 
certain, and the necessity for assembUng them is now recognized 
by enUghtened French historians.^ 

The King's speech had the effect of allaying pubUc anxiety, 
and Mirabeau thereupon set immediately to work on a new 
address that would stir up fresh discontent.^ 

To Louis XVI. the situation now became completely be- 
wildering. Content to do his duty according to his Hghts, he 
could not understand why his actions were perpetually miscon- 
strued by the people, he could not guess the existence of the 
influences brought to bear on their minds by the agitators who 
made it their business to avert popular satisfaction at every 
concession to the people's desires. 

Why did none of the RoyaUst democrats in the Assembly 
enhghten the King on the true state of affairs ? That they 
knew of the Orleaniste conspiracy is certain, for they afterwards 
described the efforts made by the duke's supporters to secure 
their co-operation — overtures that were all indignantly repulsed. 
Mounier and Bergasse were approached by Mirabeau,* Virieu 
by Sillery,^ and both conspirators met with almost identically 
the same reply : " Understand, monsieur, that if any one here 
were to dare to call M. le due d'Orleans to the throne in the place 
of the King, I would stab him with my own hand ! " Lafayette, 
whose first enthusiasm for the Revolution had raised hopes in 
the minds of the conspirators, proved no less intractable, for if he 
cared Uttle for the King he detested Orleans, and to the sugges- 
tion that a price having been set on his head and on that of the 
duke by the Court he would do well to join forces with him, 

^ Moniteur for Jan. 4, Feb. 4, and March 3, 1790. 

* For example, La Rivolution, by M. Louis Madelin, p. 62, " It will be 
understood that under these circumstances the ministry advanced troops 
on Paris. The least reactionary government would have been forced to 
do this." 

^ Appel au Tribunal de V Opinion Puhlique, par Mounier, 1790. 

* Ibid. 

* Le Roman d'un Royaliste, par Costa de Beauregard. 


Lafayette coldly replied that " the Due d' Orleans was nothing to 
him, and that it was needless to form a party when one was 
with the whole nation." ^ 

But instead of merely rejecting these advances, why did not 
these men use their immense influence to quell the intrigue ? 
We cannot believe that they lacked courage, since later on they 
faced the full tide of revolution to support the tottering monarchy; 
why then did they wait until it was too late ? The only explana- 
tion seems to be that at this crisis they believed the Orleaniste 
conspiracy to be incidental to the Revolution ; they recognized 
its existence but failed to realize its extent, and feared that in 
crushing it they might arrest the whole revolutionary movement 
which they still held to be necessary to the regeneration of the 
kingdom. In a word, they were visionaries, and at times of 
national crisis visionaries are of all men the most dangerous ; 
intent on the pursuit of unattainable ideals they shut their eyes 
to realities, and instead of facing danger prefer to ignore it. 

Most culpable of all was Necker — Necker whom both the 
King and Queen had trusted to steer the ship of state to safety. 
From the beginning his only consideration had been popularity, 
his only poUcy to temporize. His method of deaUng with the 
financial crisis had consisted in raising perpetual loans ; in the 
matter of the famine Arthur Young declared that " his edicts 
had operated more to raise the price of com than aU other causes 
together," and though having made this initial mistake he 
apparently did his best to repair it by untiring efforts to feed the 
people, he shrank from taking the most effectual step towards 
this end — ^that of exposing the monopolizers. 

The attitude of Necker admits only of two explanations — 
either he was in league with the Orleanistes or he was afraid of 
them. In either case his conduct was contemptible, as con- 
temporaries of all parties agree. It is a strange fact that, although 
Necker is the only demagogue of the period who has never found 
a panegyrist — except in his own daughter, Mme. de Stael — 
it was the King's discovery of his incapacity, which all the world 
now acknowledges, that has been accepted as an adequate pretext 
for the Revolution of July. 

By the beginning of this month Louis XVI. finally realized 
that Necker must go and a strong ministry be formed if the 
impending crisis was to be averted. Accordingly he dismissed 
his ministers and nominated in their place De Breteuil, De BrogUe, 
La Galaiziere, and Foullon. 

Joseph Frangois Foullon was an old commissary of '74 who 
had grown grey in the service of the army. His large fortune, 
attributed by the revolutionary leaders to speculation or monopoly 
* Mimoires de Lafayette, ii. 53. 


in grain, resulted from the emoluments of his office and from his 
marriage with a Dutch heiress.^ It is evident that Foullon was 
unpopular with the people, yet no proof is forthcoming that he 
had ever treated them with harshness ; on the contrary, during 
the preceding winter he had spent no less than 60,000 francs in 
providing work for the peasants of his province, " not wishing 
to humiUate them by charity." ^ A stem man, however, and a 
beUever in discipHne, Foullon came forward at this juncture 
to offer the King his advice on the situation in the form of two 
alternative schemes by which he beheved the Revolution might 
be averted. In the first he expressed himself plainly on the 
Orleaniste conspiracy ; he advised that the duke and his accom- 
plices amongst the deputies of the Assembly should be arrested, 
and that the King should not be parted from his army till order 
was re-estabUshed ; in the second he suggested that the King 
should identify himself with the Revolution before its final 
explosion, that he should go to the Assembly, demand the cahiers 
himself, and then make the greatest sacrifices in order to satisfy 
the true desires of the people before the sedition-mongers could 
turn them to the advantage of their criminal designs.^ 

This proposal of the new minister throws an important Hght 
on the RevQlu+ion of July, for according to Madame Campan 
it reached ^e ears of the Orleanistes by means of the Comte 
Louis rie Naibonne and Madame de Stael, and naturally explains 
their fury at the change of ministry and also their animosity to 
Foullon. Whichever of the two schemes were followed their 
doom was equally certain, since a peaceful settlement of the crisis 
would have proved no less fatal to their designs than the more 
rigorous measure of their own arrest. 

^ Biographie Michaud, article on Foullon; Histoire de la Revolution 
Frangaise, by Poujoulat, p. 121, quoting contemporary documents. 

« Ihid. 

' Mimoires de Mme. Campan, p. 242 ; Histoire du Eigne de Louis XVI, 
by Joseph Droz, p. 311. This story of Mme. Campan's is confirmed by a 
contemporary manuscript in the possession of Berthier's descendants. See 
La Conspiration Rdvolutionnaire de lySg, by Gustave Bord, p. 195. D'Espre- 
mesnil had already given the King the same advice a few weeks earlier, for 
just after the " Serment du Jeu de Paume " he had requested an audience 
with the King, and urged him not only to arrest but to hang the Due 
d'Orleans and his accomplices, to dissolve the Assembly, and to follow out 
his plan of himself granting to the people the reforms they asked for in the 
cahiers {Mimoires Secrets d'Allonville, ii. 155). Strangely enough the 
Duke's mistress, Mrs. Elliott, was of the same opinion with regard to the 
treatment that should have been meted out to the royal conspirator : 
" Had he (the King), when the nobles went over to the Tiers ^d^tat, caused 
the unfortunate Duke of Orleans, and about twenty others, to be arrested 
and executed, Europe would have been saved from the calamities it has 
since suffered ; and I should now dare to regret my poor friend the Duke " 
{Journal of Mrs. Elliott, p. 57). 


It is evident that they were aware of Necker's impending 
dismissal several days before it actually took place, and im- 
mediately in the midnight council of Montrouge a scheme of 
insurrection was planned. The advance of the troops and the 
departure of Necker were to be made the pretexts for stirring 
up the people ; with that superb capacity for eating their own 
words which is the true art of demagogy, Necker, whom they 
had hitherto overwhelmed with their sarcasms and openly accused 
of monopohzing the grain, was to be represented to the people 
as their one hope of salvation, and in the panic that would follow 
on his dismissal the people — " that fooUsh herd " that, as Cham- 
fort said, " good shepherds could drive as they pleased '' — ^were 
to be worked up to revolt. Then the Due d'Orleans, profiting 
by the general confusion, was to be made lieutenant-general of 
the kingdom, if not raised at once to the throne. " It only 
depended on himself," said Mirabeau, who admitted the whole 
scheme later to Virieu ; "his part had been arranged for him {on 
lui avail fait son theme) ; the words he had to use had been 
prepared." ^ 

Mirabeau rose triumphantly to the occasion. Hitherto he 
had frankly disparaged Necker, referring to him as " the Genevese 
penny-snatcher " ^ (le grippe-sou genevois) or "ihe clock that 
always loses," and on the eve of his dismissal hld^ already pre- 
pared a speech for the Assembly accusing him of corf^Hcity with 
the famine. But now that Necker's dismissal was to be made a 
pretext for insurrection, Mirabeau, Uke the gigantic humbug 
that he was, declared that " we can only regard with terror the 
abyss of misfortune into which the country will be dragged now 
that the exile of M. Necker, so long desired by our enemies, has 
been accompUshed." ^ 

Already on the gth of July the agitators of the Palais Royal 
had begun to alarm the people concerning the fate destined for 
their idol. " Listen to me, citizens ! " cried a mob orator who 
had succeeded in collecting a crowd around him ; "we have 
assembled here in order to declare to you that we shall regard 
as a traitor to the country any one who shall make an attempt 
not only on the life but on the ministerial office of M. Necker, 
whom we intend to make permanent minister of the nation, 
and since our King, though good and confiding, is incapable of 
governing his kingdom, we nominate M. le due d'Orleans lieu- 
tenant-general of the kingdom ! " * 

^ ProcMure du Chdielet, deposition du comte de Virieu. 

* Souvenirs sur Mirabeau, by fitienne Dumont, p. 208. 

' " Courrier de Provence, lettre 19," MSmoires de Bailly, i 332. 

* Montjoie, Histoire de la Rivolution de France, chap. xli. ; evidence of 
M. P6rin, Procidure du Chdielet, ii. 113. 


The proposition does not seem to have been received with 
great enthusiasm, and the agitators merely succeeded in produc- 
ing in the people a state of mind aptly described by M. Louis 
MadeUn as a crise de nerfs. Already they had sufficient causes 
for alarm — the growing fear of famine, the brigands that sur- 
rounded them, the assurances of the Palais Royal orators that 
the King's troops were closing in on them for the purpose of 
massacre, and now, following on all these terrors, came the fresh 
alarm that Necker was to be dismissed, and the country involved 
in bankruptcy and ruin. What wonder that the unhappy people 
were thrown into a condition bordering on hysteria ? 


The state of the weather further added to the excitement of 
the Parisians, for the cold spring had been followed in July by a 
burst of almost tropical heat, a circumstance that seems always 
to have reacted on the minds of the populace, since nearly every 
great day of tumult during the Revolution in Paris was unusually 
hot. Sunday morning, the 12th of July, the day after Necker's 
departure, was torrid ; the sun poured down from a cloudless 
sky on to the crowds that from an early hour had filled the 
garden of the Palais Royal. Already at nine o'clock a vague 
rumour had reached the city that the worst had happened, that 
Necker was dismissed, and as the panic news passed from mouth 
to mouth the terrified citizens hurried to the Palais Royal to 
ascertain the truth. By midday the garden was so packed 
from end to end that no more standing room was available, 
and people climbed on to the trees until the branches bowed 
beneath their weight ; even the mob orators, after vainly attempt- 
ing to pile up chairs and tables for their platforms, were reduced 
to hanging from the boughs of the Ume-trees whilst they harangued 
the crowd. " This agitation," says Montjoie, who looked on 
at the scene, " was terrifying. One must have seen it to be able 
to form any idea of it." At every moment a fresh rumour was 
circulated, adding to the general consternation ; now a messenger, 
wild-eyed, rushing into the square and crying out that he had 
just arrived from Versailles where the deputies were being 
massacred ; now a panic-monger announcing that the Due 
d'Orleans was exiled — thrown into the Bastille — condemned 
to death ; now warnings shrieked to the terrified people that 
the troops were marching on the city to put everything to fire 
and sword. The seething multitude that filled the garden and 
arcades was hke a sea lashed by a hurricane ; at each new alarm 
a long deep moan arose from thousands of throats, a moan that 
now grew into a muffled roar of fury, now died away into the 


silence of consternation. Then suddenly rumour gave way to 
certainty. A fresh messenger from Versailles announced the 
terrible news — Necker was dismissed, had already taken his 
departure, the country's doom was sealed ; and at this confirma- 
tion of their fears the maddened people turned on the bearer 
of ill-tidings and were with difficulty prevented from drowning 
him in one of the fountains of the garden. 

It was now twelve o'clock and the sun had reached the 
meridian, beating down on the dense mass of heads and on the 
burning glass of the Palais Royal. Suddenly a strange thing 
happened. The glass mirror reflected the sun's rays on to the 
cannon of the palace and, setting light to the charge, fired it 
with a terrifying report, and so " the sun himself gave the first 
signal for the Revolution." ^ 

The effect of this circumstance on the minds of the people 
was indescribable. The wildest scene of confusion began. 
Men haggard with fear, women pale and tearful rushed hither 
and thither ; the streets were filled with bands of citizens, silent 
and distraught, hurrying Hke frightened sheep they knew not 
whither. Unhappy people driven desperately to and fro by 
the men who had made themselves their shepherds ! 

Yet the shepherds did not find their work too easy ; even 
sheep refuse at moments to be driven in the right direction, and 
still the people, for all their panic, showed no inclination to carry 
out the designs of the agitators and begin the revolution in earnest. 
Camille Desmoulins afterwards described his desperate efforts 
that afternoon to stir the people up to violence ; some, indeed, 
were so misguided as to cry, " Vive le Roi \ " *' In vain I tried 
to inflame their minds," says Camille ; "no one would take up 
arms ! " 

It was three o'clock in the afternoon when at last Camille, 
coming out of the Cafe de Foy where the Orleaniste leaders 
forgathered, encountered several young men walking arm-in- 
arm and shouting, " Aux armes ! Aux armes ! " Immedi- 
ately he saw his opportunity and joined them ; in an instant 
he was hoisted up on to a table in front of the cafe, from which 
position he afterwards related that he deUvered an eloquent 
harangue : 

" Citizens, you know that the nation had asked for Necker 
to be retained, for a monument to be raised to him, and he has 
been driven away ! Could you be more insolently defied ? 
After this stroke they will dare anything, and for to-night they 
are meditating, have perhaps arranged, a Saint-Barthelemy of 
pati;iots ! To arms ! To arms ! Let us take green cockades, 
the colour of hope ! " He waved a green ribbon, fastened it in 
* Montjoie, Histoire de la Rivolution de France, chap. xl. 


his hat, and instantly the crowd, tearing down leaves from the 
trees above their heads, adorned themselves with the same 
emblem. Then, striking an attitude, Camille pointed a quivering 
finger at the crowd, pretending to see amongst them the agents 
of the police. " The infamous police are here ! Let them look 
at me I Let them observe me ! Yes, it is I who call my brothers 
to Hberty I " He raised a pistol in the air. " At least they 
shall not take me alive, and I shall know how to die gloriously ; 
only one misfortune can befall me — that of seeing France become 
again enslaved ! " 

Such is Camille's version of his tirade, but it seems probable 
that much of it was inspired by esprit d'escalier and never found 
utterance, for none of his auditors record it in these words. 
Montjoie, in fact, declares that Camille's performance consisted 
merely in standing on the table waving a pistol and calling out 
" Aux armes ! " making horrible grimaces the while to over- 
come his stutter. 

At any rate his efforts were rewarded, for he was hauled down 
from the table and carried in triumph on the shoulders of the 
crowd, who now at last responded to the cry of insurrection, 
and arming tjbiemselves with sticks, hatchets, and pistols poured 
into the streets thirsting to do battle with the menacing legions 
— ^the legions that meanwhile remained peacefully encamped 
in the Champ de Mars. 

This was undoubtedly the great moment to which the 
Orleaniste conspiracy had been leading up. The people's minds 
had been prepared by the alarms concerning the fate of the 
duke, and were therefore more than usually disposed in his 
favour as the victim of despotism. If he had now come forward 
and shown himself to the frenzied crowd it seems probable that 
he could have placed himself at the head of the movement. 
But at this crucial moment the duke was not forthcoming, for 
he had gone off at eleven o'clock that morning with his mistress, 
Mrs. Elliott, to spend the day at his chateau of Raincy, and did 
not reappear until the evening. Was his absence arranged by 
the conspirators to give colour to their stories of his exile or 
imprisonment ? Or did he disappoint his supporters by refusing 
to be present ? We know that the pusillanimity of the duke 
at every crisis made him the despair of his party, and that this 
fear, moreover, was founded on a very real danger — that of 
assassination. When he fainted in the Assembly that summer 
day only a few weeks earUer, and his coat was unfastened to 
give him air, had it not been discovered that he wore beneath it 
no less than four waistcoats, including one of leather, to protect 
him from a dagger-thrust ? ^ It is possible, therefore, that at 
* Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, i. 296; Mimoires de FerrUres, i. 52. 


the last moment his courage failed him ; but at any rate hi^ 
absence was foreseen by the conspirators, for the duke himself 
being unavailable they led the crowd to the waxwork show of 
M. Curtius in the Boulevard du Temple, where — by mere coin- 
cidence, Orleaniste historians would have us believe — the busts 
of the Due d' Orleans and Necker lay ready to hand. 

Camille Desmoulins' subsequent remarks on this incident 
show that he certainly did not beUeve in the theory of coincidence, 
but recognized very clearly the design of the faction— from 
which, like every other Orleaniste, he became anxious to dis- 
associate himself. " Will any one make me believe," he wrote 
four years later, " that when I mounted a table on the 12th of 
July and called the people to hberty, it was my eloquence that 
produced that great movement half an hour later, and that made 
the two busts of Orleans and Necker spring from the ground ? " ^ 
The procession with the two effigies had therefore been pre- 
meditated, and Mirabeau, hardly less an enfant terrible than 
Camille in giving away the secrets of his party, confirms this 
statement. Referring to the 12th of July in his answer to the 
Procedure du Chdtelet, he attempted to prove the duke's innocence 
on this day by remarking, " When his bust was paraded he 
hid himself." ^ Then the duke knew that his bust was to be 
paraded ? Otherwise where was the virtue of his disappearance 
from the scene four hours earlier ? Again, why should he hide 
himself ? Why not, if he was innocent, have come forward 
boldly and denied all complicity with the movement ? Thus 
from Orleaniste evidence alone it is obvious that the incident 
of the two busts was a ruse devised by the conspirators, with 
the idea of putting popular feeling to the test ; it had been 
resolved to try the people with the duke's effigy, and if, as seemed 
not unlikely, it met with a hostile reception, nothing but wax 
would suffer ; if, on the other hand, it was received with acclama- 
tions, the duke was to be recalled from his retreat and placed 
at the head of the movement. The effigy of Necker was, of 
course, merely a cover to the real design — " to parade only 
one," remarks Prudhomme shrewdly, " would have been 
clumsy." ^ Accordingly the two busts, wreathed in black 
crepe and crowned, were carried in procession through the streets 
whilst Orleaniste agents, posted in the crowd, cried out, " Hats 
off ! The country is in danger ; here are its restorers. Vive 
D'Orleans ! " Then, as the people failed to take up the cry, 
the agitators went amongst them repeating, " Call out ' Vive 

^ Fragment de VHistoire Secrdte, p. 8, April 1793. 

2 Moniieur, ii. 33. 

* Crimes de la Rivoluiion, by Prudhomme, iii. iii. 


D' Orleans \' " For answer some asked wonderingly, " What 
does all this mean ? " and the agitators repUed, " Why, don't 
you understand that Monsieur le due d' Orleans is to be pro- 
claimed king and M. Necker his prime minister ? Come, cry 
with us 'Vive D ' Orleans l'"^ Even at the Palais Royal the 
busts met with a no more enthusiastic reception. On arrival 
in the garden one of the men bearing the efi&gies, pointing them 
out to the people, caUed aloud, " Is it not true that you want 
this prince for your king, and this good man for his minister ? " 
But only a few voices answered, " We wish it ! " ^ 

After this discouraging response the procession made its 
way by the Boulevards to the Place Louis XV., where it en- 
countered a regiment of the Royal Allemands under the Prince 
de Lambesc, who rode up with drawn sword and scattered the 
rioters. During the fray the bust of Orleans feU into the gutter ; 
a linen-draper's assistant, Pepin by name, rushed to its rescue, 
and in his attempt to pick up the mutilated ef&gy was wounded 
in the leg and fell bleeding to the ground.^ Raised in the arms 
of sympathizers, Pepin was carried off to the Palais Royal to 
exhibit his wounds ; he was not, however, too seriously wounded 
to harangue the multitude. Dr. Rigby, an eyewitness of the 
scene, describes " the whole mass agitated afresh by the appear- 
ance of a man with a green coat whose countenance and manner 
bespoke the utmost consternation. ' To arms, citizens,' he 
cried, ' the Dragoons have fired on the people, and I myself 
have received a wound,' pointing to his leg. This acted like 
an electric shock." 

Meanwhile the Prince de Lambesc and his troops made 
their way towards the Tmleries across the great Place Louis XV, 
which at this hour was filled with hohday-makers returning from 
their Sunday afternoon festivities in the Bois de Boulogne and 
the neighbouring villages ; through this crowd the troops ad- 
vanced at foot pace, gently pushing aside those who obstructed 
their passage, but the people, infuriated by the sight of the 
soldiers, greeted them with a hail of stones. Gouvemeur Morris, 
who at this moment arrived upon the scene, thus describes the 
incident : " The people take post among the stones which lie 
scattered about the whole place, being then hewn for the bridge 
now building. The officer at the head of the party (a body of 
cavalry with their sabres drawn) is saluted by a stone, and 

^ Crimes de la Rivolution, by Prudhomme, iii. 112. 

* MSm. de FerrUres, and statement by Clermont Tonnerre at the Pro- 
cMure du Chdtelet. See also Souvenirs de Mme. VigSe le Brun, p. 129. 

' Montjoie, ii. 48, confirmed by Pepin himself, witness cxxiv. at the 
Procidure du Chdtelet. According to these two witnesses this encounter 
took place in the Place Louis XV. ; according to Bailly (i. 327) and to 
Flammermont, La Journ&e du 14 Juillet (clxxvii.), in the Place Vendome. 


immediately turns his horse in a menacing manner towards the 
assailant. But his adversaries are posted in ground where the 
cavalry cannot act. He pursues his route, and the pace is soon 
increased to a gallop, amid a shower of stones. One of the 
soldiers is either knocked from his horse, or the horse falls under 
him. He is taken prisoner and at first ill-treated. They fired 
several pistols, but without effect ; probably they were not even 
charged with ball. A party of the Swiss Guard are posted in 
the Champs filysees with cannon." 

The Prince de Lambesc, having thus reached the entrance of 
the Tuileries, crossed the swing bridge into the garden with his 
troops, but was again immediately assailed by a hail of stones, 
chairs, and bottles that the crowd, assembled on the terraces at 
each side of the bridge, flung down on the regiment.^ In spite 
of these outrages the soldiers still refrained from retaliating, and 
in order to avoid bloodshed the prince ordered the troops to 
evacuate the garden, whereupon the crowd rushed forward and 
attempted to cut off their retreat by closing the swing bridge. 
One old man, a schoolmaster named Chauvet, in the act of per- 
forming this manoeuvre, was sUghtly injured by the Prince de 
Lambesc, who struck him with the flat of his sword, causing a 
wound that was speedily healed by means of a brandy compress.^ 

Such was " the brutal charge " of the " ferocious Prince de 
Lambesc," retailed with so much virtuous indignation by re- 
volutionary writers. It is interesting to compare the evidence 
of eye-witnesses, of Gouvemeur Morris, of Montjoie, and of those 
who appeared later at the trial of the Prince, with the version 
circulated that night in Paris by the leaders of the agitation. 
Dr. Rigby, who unfortunately was not present, thus records 
the account given him by Jefferson : 

" About seven in the evening Prince de Lambesc, who 
commanded a regiment of German Dragoons, entered the 
Tuileries . . . and made its gay crowds of citizens the objects of his 
attack, enforced his commands by a sudden discharge of musketry. 
The terrified multitude fled in all directions, and the middle of 
the square was suddenly cleared of all but a feeble old man, 
whose infirmities denied him the power of running. Against 
this single defenceless individual the cowardly Prince hfted 
up his arm, and either desperately wounded or killed him with 
one stroke of his sabre." 

This story — every word of which was afterwards disproved, 
and is now believed by no responsible historian ^ — ^was loudly 

* Deux Amis, i. 276. Even this authority admits that the people were 
the aggressors, 

^ Taine, La Rivolution, i. 62. 

^ " The sanguinary Lambesc and his blindly ferocious troop were 
singularly debonair; ten accounts testify to it. Although they were 



proclaimed at the Palais Royal, and the alarm was followed by 
messengers rushing into the square frantically declaring that 
citizens were being massacred in the garden of the Tuileries, 
and dragoons with drawn swords were crushing women and 
children beneath their horses' feet. These fearful tidings had 
the effect that for seven hours the mob orators had striven in 
vain to produce, of arming the mob. 

" From this moment," says Dr. Rigby, " nothing could 
restrain the fury of the people ; they burst forth into the streets 
calling ' Aux armes ! Aux armes ! ' Every house Hkely to aiford 
any was immediately entered. The gunsmiths' shops were 
ransacked, and in a very short time the principal streets were 
filled with a tumultuous populace, armed variously with guns, 
swords, pikes, spits, and every instrument of offence and defence." 
This disorderly band, joined by numbers of deserters from 
the Gardes Frangaises, now marched on the King's troops in 
the neighbourhood of the Place Louis XV. Let us consult the 
revolutionary account of the day to discover the manner in which 
these bloodthirsty soldiers received the onslaught. 

" Assembled in force near the depot on the old boulevard," 
say the Two Friends of Liberty, " they (the armed mob) advance 
in good order, attack a detachment of the Royal Allemand, and 
at the first discharge cause three horsemen to bite the dust. 
These, although assailed, endure the fire of their adversaries without 
replying, and double back on the Place Louis XV, where was 
the main body of their regiment." ^ 

This, then, was the conduct of the troops accused by the 
revolutionary leaders of carrying out a " massacre of Saint-Bar- 
th61emy " amongst the citizens ! What further proof is needed 
of the King's sincerity in assuring the people that these forces 
had been summoned merely to protect them ? Nothing could 
exceed the heroic forbearance of these much-tried men, and those 
historians who would have us beHeve that their attitude was 
owing to the fact that they sjmfipathized with the people and 
therefore could not be induced to use their arms against them, 
calumniate not only the officers in command, but the people 
themselves. Is it conceivable that the people could be so 

stoned by the people in ambush behind the stone-heaps they contenten 
themselves with advancing without charging. . . . That only one old mad 
was knocked over and that so much was made of this in the popular camp 
indicates better than all the contemporary accounts how mild was the 
' repression ' " (MadeHn, p. 63) . "It was the crowd that began the attack ; 
the troops fired into the air. . . . All the details of the affair prove that 
the patience and the humanity of the officers was extreme " (Taine, La 
Rdvolution, i. 62) . See also La JournSe du 14 Juillet, by Jules Flammermont, 
p. clxxviii. 

1 Deux Amis de la LiherU, i. 117 


cowardly as to insult and attack men they knew to be their 
friends ? All contemporary evidence points to the one con- 
clusion — the men were acting under orders from their officers, 
and the officers, in their turn, were obeying the King's command 
— at all costs to avoid bloodshed. The order given to Bezenval, 
and produced later at his trial, is proof positive of this assertion : 
" Give the most precise and moderate orders to the officers in 
command of the detachment you employ that they shall act only 
as protectors, and shall have the greatest care to avoid com- 
promising themselves or engaging in any combat with the people 
unless they show themselves inclined to cause fires or commit 
excesses or pillage that would endanger the safety of citizens." ^ 
It was a frightful position for the men in command, and 
Bezenval, in deciding to withdraw the troops to the Champ de 
Mars, was evidently only doing what he conceived to be his duty. 
Royalists who reproached him for not adopting stronger measures, 
and revolutionaries who laughed at his retreat, were ahke in- 
capable of appreciating his dilemma. " If I had marched the 
troops into Paris," he wrote afterwards, " I should have started 
civil war on one side or the other ; precious blood would have 
been shed without any useful result. ..." True, but how much 
innocent blood might have been spared that flowed hereafter ? 
Civil war with all its horrors cannot equal the horror of leaving 
the mob to execute its own vengeances unrestrained, for a rioting 
mob, like a woman in hysterics, needs firmness to bring it to its 
senses ; too great solicitude but weakens its power of self-control, 
and leaves it a prey to frightful convulsions even more dangerous 
to itself than to those against whom its fury is directed. Paris, 
which through that feverish Sunday had worked itself up into a 
nervous crisis that nothing but iron discipline could have allayed, 
was now, through the mistaken humanity of those in command, 
left unprotected, and at the withdrawal of all lawful authority J 
rapidly passed into a state of frenzied panic. To all law-abiding /' 
citizens, the night that followed was a night of terror, for, at the ' 
signal of insurrection, the hordes of brigands, that since the 
Affaire Reveillon had been kept in reserve by the leaders to 
create fresh scenes of violence,^ came forth armed with sticks 
and pikes and paraded the streets, pillaging the armourers' 
shops, and threatening to bum down the houses of the aristocrats. 
The Quinzaine Memorable puts the number of these profes- 
sional bandits at 20,000, Droz at no less than 40,000, and when 
we remember the terror created in the provinces of France 
only a few years ago by half-a-dozen motor bandits — Bonnard 
an4 his gang — it is easy to imagine the horror and confusion 

^ Order given to B6zenval on July 12, 1789. See the Monitettr, iii. 33. 
^ Bailly, i. 337. 


inspired by thousands of such ruffians suddenly let loose and 
armed in the streets of an undefended city.^ 

To these hired bands were added all the dregs of the Faubourgs 
— drunkards, wastrels, degenerates, prototypes of the modern 
Apache, whose native love of violence needed no incentive ; 
prostitutes who tore the ear-rings from the ears of passers-by, 
" and if the rings resisted, tore the ears " ; smugglers who saw 
their chance of booty and led the crowd to bum down the barriers 
and defraud the customs.^ Where in all this pandemonium 
were " the people " to be found ? No good citizens were abroad 
that hot and terrible night, the true " people," the peaceful 
bourgeois, the quiet and laborious working men and women of 
Paris, hid themselves in their humble dweUings no less fearfully 
than the aristocrats in their hotels of the Faubourg Saint-Honore, 
whilst all the while the tocsin sounded drearily and the cry of 
the rioters, " Des armes et du pain ! " rang out in the darkness. 
" During that disastrous night," say the Two Friends of Liberty, 
" sleep descended only on the eyes of children ; they alone reposed 
in peace whilst their distracted parents watched over their 


Morning dawned on a demented city ; wild bands still paraded 
the streets, and were only prevented by good citizens, who 
mingled with them, from committing horrible excesses. One 
horde, however, succeeded in breaking into the convent of Saint- 
Lazare, " the asylum of religion and humanity," where, disre- 
garding the entreaties of a white-haired priest who threw himself 
on his knees and begged them to spare the sacred precincts, they 
proceeded to pillage and destroy the library, laboratory, and 
pictures, and finally descending to the cellars broke open the 
casks of wine, gorging themselves with the contents. Next day 
no less than thirty unfortunate wretches, both men and women, 
were carried dead or dying from the scene. 

The news of this senseless outrage burst on Paris " like a 
clap of thunder " ; terrified tradesmen shut their shops, and good 
citizens once more barricaded themselves behind closed shutters. 
" To the cries of fear," say the Two Friends of Liberty, " are 
added the tumultuous cries of several lawless bands, bold-eyed, 
and ready to dare and do anything, who rove through the streets 
and pubUc places, and in whose hands the weapons they carry 

1 Note that even the Two Friends of Liberty admit these to have been 
" hired brigands " {Deux Amis, i. 283), though they carefully refrain from 
mentioning who hired them. Are we to beUeve again this time that it was 
the Court ? 

* Histoire du Regne de Louis XVI, by Joseph Droz, p. 292. 


seem even more dangerous than those of the enemies (i.e. the 
King's troops !). The moment was the more perilous since all 
the springs of pubhc administration were broken, and Paris 
seemed abandoned to the mercy of whoever chose to make him- 
self master." ^ On the 13th of July the worst fears of the people 
were thus not caused by the King's troops but by the brigands, 
and further, the removal of all lawful authority added immensely 
to the panic. 

When at ten o'clock of this dreadful morning the tocsin of the 
Hotel de Ville rang out again it was, therefore, in no sense a 
signal of revolution, but a summons to all good citizens to take 
up arms in defence of their lives, their wives and children, and 
their property.^ In this moment of real and immediate peril 
the imaginary menace of the King's troops was forgotten, and 
men of all classes, rich men, nobles, bourgeois and working-men 
aUke, hastened to the Hotel de ViUe to demand arms for their 
defence. Inevitably, however, a number of brigands and 
emissaries of the Palais Royal, who already that morning had 
burst into the Hotel de ViUe and carried ofi by force 360 guns, 
now mingled with the law-abiding citizens, and threw the 
authorities into a frightful predicament. They wished to arm 
the milice bourgeoise, yet not to reinforce the brigands. Bezenval, 
appealed to later in the day, flatly refused, declaring he could 
give up no arms without an order from the King ; ^ Flesselles, the 
provost-marshal, adopted less courageous tactics and attempted 
to put the people off with fair words, temporizing as a father 

^ Deux Amis de la LiherU, i. 284. 

* M. Louis Madelin has emphatically refuted the error perpetuated by 
historians on this point. The milice bourgeoise, he explains, had been 
formed " not at all — as a hundred years ago so many historians and a crowd 
of their readers believed — against the Court but against the brigands. . . ." 
Thus since the 25th of June the Hotel de Ville had been preparing for the 
coming danger, and the message carried by its beU must not be misinterpreted. 
" This bell of the Hotel de Ville had until the last few years a very definite 
significance for the historians of the Revolution — it called the great city 
against the Government of Versailles. The more recent researches, and 
those least to be suspected of retrospective anti-revolutionism, convey to 
us a different sound. The city called for help, desperately, because in the 
night the bandits, that for three weeks had been dreaded, were invading it, 
pillaging the shops, robbing the passers-by. Far from wishing to destroy 
the Bastille, the bourgeois of the Hotel de Ville — Liberals of yesterday — 
would rather have built twenty more to enclose the beasts of prey that 
infested the disorganized city" (Madelin, pp. 62, 64). Yet even " recent 
researches " were not needed to prove this fact, since the oldest authority of 
all, the Deux Amis, had clearly stated it. 

^ Bezenval suspected the good faith of certain of these deputies : 
"Although the orators of these deputies had prepared their speeches skil- 
fully, it was easy to see they had been prompted, and that they were 
asking for arms for the purpose of attacking us rather than to defend 
themselves" {M^moires de Bizenval, ii. 369). 


might do with a sick and fretful child that asked for a razor as 
a plaything : " My friends, I am your father, you will be satisfied," 
he told the frenzied multitude, and sent them in all directions 
to seek arms where none were to be found. For this he has been 
bitterly condemned by historians, yet what was the unfortunate 
Flesselles to do ? An officer in charge of an arsenal suddenly 
confronted with a heterogeneous crowd of civilians clamouring 
for firearms, and threatened with death if he gives a direct 
refusal, must possess a very ready wit if he can hold his own 
diplomatically. Yet so far was Flesselles from wishing to thwart 
the good citizens of the milice bourgeoise, that he sent to Versailles 
for an order authorizing their equipment. 

Versailles meanwhile was ill-informed of the progress of 
events in Paris. The Assembly, persisting in its assertion that 
the tumult was caused solely by the presence of the troops, 
continued to send deputations to the King demanding their 
removal from the environs of Paris, whilst the King, seeing in 
the troubles of the capital only the work of the brigands,^ held 
this to be no moment for the withdrawal of armed force, and 
repeated his former statement that the troops were necessary 
for the defence of the citizens. Whilst heartily approving the 
formation of the milice bourgeoise,^ he did not consider this 
body of armed civiUans sufficient to cope with the situation 
unsupported by regular troops, and therefore insisted on keeping 
the troops within reach of the city ready to come to the rescue 
if required. At the same time he repUed to Flesselles' message 
with an order authorizing the organization and equipment of 
12,000 men for the milice bourgeoise, and naming the officers 
he desired to conunand these patriotic legions. " What amazes 
us," remarks M. Louis Madelin, " is that this correspondence 
between Flesselles and the Court should have appeared next 
day, even to calm minds, as ' an unfortunate connivance sufficient 
to justify the massacre of the magistrate by the people.' " ^ 

Before the King's reply to Flesselles had reached the capital, 
however, the citizens had already formed the milice bourgeoise, 
and instead of 12,000 men enrolled 40,000, which they later 
increased to 48,000. These patriotic civiUans at first showed 
themselves perfectly capable of maintaining order. All con- 
temporaries, whether RoyaHst or revolutionary, speak of the 
admirable way in which the milice bourgeoise dealt with the 
situation. "The magistrates assembled at the Hotel de Ville, 
and the inhabitants of the several districts," writes Dr. Rigby, 
" were called together in the churches to deUberate upon the 
measures proper to be taken. ... It was resolved that a certain 

* Bailly, i. 340. 2 /jj'^ ^67 ; Rivarol, p. 45. 

' Madelin, p. 65. 


number of the more respectable inhabitants should be enrolled 
and inamediately take arms, that the magistrates should sit 
permanently at the Hotel de Ville, and that committees, also 
permanent, should be formed in every district of Paris to convey 
intelligence to the magistrates and receive instructions from 
them. This important and most necessary resolution was 
executed with wonderful promptitude and unexampled good 

By the evening of the 13th order was, therefore, once more 
restored throughout the greater part of the city, but unfortun- 
ately the ringleaders were as usual left unimpeded to continue 
the work of insurrection. A few obscure wretches, mere tools 
of the conspirators, were hanged, having been handed over to 
justice by the men who had set them in motion, and who now 
proceeded to work up a fresh agitation at the Palais Royal and 
other revolutionary centres of the city. Once more the menace 
of the troops served as a pretext for inflaming the minds of the 
people, and the fact that throughout the day these same troops 
had remained completely inactive, had allowed the citizens to 
arm without resistance and were even now preparing to with- 
draw from the neighbourhood of Paris, did not prevent this 
absurd alarm from gaining ground. 

Amongst the most energetic of the panic-mongers on this 
day was a new recruit to the Orleaniste conspiracy, a young 
lawyer of pecuUarly frightful appearance named Georges Jacques 
Danton, whose eloquence consisted in a form of noisy badinage 
that rendered him immensely popular at street comers. His 
massive head and somewhat Kalmuck features lent themselves 
singularly well to the violence of his oratory, as, now chaffing, 
now thundering, he kept his audience in good humour — that 
pleasure-loving Parisian audience that he, essentially the man 
of pleasure, understood so well. 

Another lawyer, Lavaux, entering the convent of the Cor- 
deliers, the centre of one of the new districts of Paris, found 
a mob orator in frenzied tones calhng the citizens to arms in 
order to resist an army of 30,000 men who were preparing to 
march on Paris and massacre the inhabitants. Lavaux was 
surprised to recognize in this panic-monger his old colleague, 
Danton, and, never doubting his sincerity, took advantage of 
the orator pausing for breath to assure him that these fears 
were unfounded — he himself, Lavaux, had just returned from 
Versailles, where all was quiet. " You do not understand," 
Danton answered; "the sovereign people have risen against 
despotism. Be one of us. The throne is overturned and your 
employment is gone. Think it well over." ^ 

^ Danton, by Louis Madelin, p. 19. 


There was in Danton a certain frankness that disarmed 
criticisna ; he made no secret of the fact that in the Revolution 
he saw less the fulfilment of any political aspirations than the 
opportunity for pleasure and profit.^ " Young man," he said 
later on at the CordeUers to Royer Collard, " come and bellow 
with us ; when you have made your fortune you can then follow 
whichever party suits you best." ^ 

That Danton was definitely financed by the Due d' Orleans 
was not only the behef of his poUtical adversaries but the general 
opinion of Paris. When in August 1790 he sought election as 
a " notable " of the Constitutional Conamune of Paris, he was 
reported to be " a paid and perfidious agent of the Due d' Orleans," 
and rejected for his venahty by forty-two out of forty-eight 
sections of Paris.^ Even M. Louis Madelin, who admires Danton, 
is unable to clear him from this charge : " The most generally 
received opinion was that the Due d' Orleans supported Danton. 
If we admit that he was paid, it is there, I think, that we must 
seek the principal payer." And he adds this sentence that in 
a word sums up Danton's poHtical creed : " Danton was all his 
life an Orleaniste." ^ After such an admission it is idle to 
accredit Danton with either patriotism or disinterestedness ; 
that any man who loved his country could sincerely beUeve 
he was working for its good in attempting to replace the honest 
and benevolent Louis XVL by the corrupt and despotic Due 
d'Orleans is inconceivable. The popular conception of Danton 
as a patriot burning with zeal for hberty and the RepubUc is 
therefore based on a fallacy ; Danton was neither a democrat 
nor a RepubUcan, but a paid agitator of the party who would 
have instituted a far worse despotism than France had ever 
before endured. 

Already on this 13th of July a triumph had been secured 
by the conspirators ; the green cockade was discarded as repre- 
senting the colours of the Comte d'Artois, and red, white, and 
blue, the livery of the Due d'Orleans, substituted as the emblem 
of hberty. The fact that these were also the colours of the town 
of Paris was a fortunate coincidence that served to veil the 

^ See, amongst many contemporary testimonies, the article on Danton 
by Beaulieu in the Biographie Michaud : " This man had not, Uke many 
others, embraced the Revolution as a philosophical speculation ; his views 
were less elevated. More attached to sensual pleasures, he belonged to 
that class of intriguers who lend themselves to great upheavals in order to 
make their fortunes ; sometimes indeed he made no mystery of his projects 
in this respect," ^ Essais de Beaulieu, iii. 192. 

' Etudes et Lemons sur la RivoluHon Frangaise, by Aulard, iv. 134. 

* Danton, by Louis Madehn, p 48. 

^ Historians of all parties have endeavoured to deny this Orleaniste 


Throughout the night that followed the leaders of the con- 
spiracy were at work organizing the insurrection of the morrow. 
A plan of attack on the Bastille had already been drawn up,^ 
it only remained now to set the people in motion. This was to 
be effected by circulating the news early in the morning that 
the troops were advancing on the city and that the citizens were 
to be bombarded from within by the cannons of the Bastille. 
The members of the " committee of electors " at the Hotel de 
Ville were now denounced as traitors to the country,^ and the 
death of Flesselles was ordained.^ A further list of proscriptions 
included the Comte d'Artois, the Prince de Conde, the Marechal 
de Broglie, the Prince de Lambesc, the Baron de Bezenval, 
Foullon and Berthier,* and the people were to be made to carry 
out these vengeances of the demagogues by the same means 
that had been employed in the case of Reveillon, that is to say, 
by affixing to each victim a calumny calculated to rouse the 
fury of the mob. Thus BrogHe, Bezenval, and Lambesc, whose 
real crime in the eyes of the demagogues was to have ensured 
the safe transit of supphes into Paris, were to be accused of 
plotting with " the Court " to massacre the citizens ; Foullon, 
for whose condemnation we have already seen the reason, was 

origin of the tricolore, but contemporary evidence is strongly in favour 
of these colours being chosen as those of the duke. Thus Ferri^res {Mem. i. 
119) : " The revolutionaries adopted the cockade made of white, blue and 
red, it was the Uvery of the due d'Orl6ans." Beaulieu {Essais, i. 522) : 
" Blue, red and white, which are said to be the colours of the town of Paris, 
but belong just as much to the due d' Orleans." Lord Dorset {Dispatches 
from Paris, ii. 243) : " Red and white in honour of the due d'Orleans." 
Lafayette {Mem. iii. 66) speaks of " the strange coincidence that the 
colours of the town should happen also to be those of the duke." Most 
convincing of all is the statement of Mrs. Elliott, the duke's mistress, whose 
sole aim was to exonerate the duke of all complicity in the revolutionary 
movement {Journal, p. 33) : " The mob obliged everybody to wear a 
green cockade for two days, but afterwards they took red, white and blue, 
the Orleans livery." Moreover, Camille Desmoulins later on admitted the 
same : " When patriots needed a rallying sign, could they have done 
better than to choose the colours of the one who first called us to liberty ? " 
{Revolutions de France et de Brabant, iv. 439). 

^ This important point, which entirely refutes the idea of the march on 
the Bastille as a spontaneous movement of the people, is admitted even by 
revolutionary authorities, by Deux Amis, i. 313, note : "It is certain that 
the taking of the BastiUe was planned, and that the day before plans of 
attack had been drawn up." Also Dussaulx, De V Insurrection parisienne et 
de la Prise de la Bastille, p. 44 : " The taking of the Bastille had been 
planned. M. le Marquis de la Salle certified to me that the day before he 
had received for this purpose a plan of attack." 

2 Marmontel, iv. 180; Dussaulx, p. 206 (edition Monin). 

^ Marmontel, iv. 199 ; Bailly, i. 381, 382 

* Histoire du Regne de Louis XVI, by Joseph Droz, p. 293 ; Histoire de 
la Revolution, by Montjoie. 


to be declared to have said that " if the people had no bread, 
they could eat hay " ; his son-in-law, Berthier, whose untiring 
energy in combating the famine had seriously obstructed the 
designs of the conspirators, was to be denounced to the people 
as " a monopoUzer of grain," and in the case of Flesselles, whose 
sole crime was loyalty to the King, a forged note was prepared in 
order to inflame the minds of the populace. For the murder of 
the Comte d' Artois no pretext was needed ; the principal, perhaps 
the only truly reactionary member of the Royal family, he was 
already too unpopular to require calumniating, and a placard offer- 
ing a reward for his head was boldly affixed at the street corners.^ 
It will be seen, therefore, that the motives that inspired the 
demagogues were totally different from those acted on by the 
people, and this fact explains the confused and frequently 
abortive nature of the succeeding revolutionary tumults. The 
leaders had planned that the mob should do one thing, and the 
mob, not being in the secret, did another, hence the apparently 
inexplicable and pointless crimes that took place. Amongst 
these, we shall see, was the massacre of the garrison at the 
Bastille, which had not been ordained by the Palais Royal. 


Whilst the panic concerning the approach of the troops was 
thus being prepared, how were these bloodthirsty legions engaged? 
Bezenval, having waited in vain for orders throughout the whole 
day of the 13th, decided at one o'clock in the morning of the 
14th to retreat to the Champ de Mars and the ficole Mihtaire 
on the other side of the Seine ; and thus at the very moment that 
the alarm of their advance on the city was trumpeted to the 
terrified population, the troops were actually moving away to 
the distance. This circumstance might have been expected 
to refute the false alarm in circulation, but the agitators were 
clever enough to turn it to their own advantage. The troops 
were on the move, they told the people, and though they might 
appear to be retreating, this manoeuvre was only a question of 
reculer pour mieux sauter — it was evident that De Broghe intended 
to unite these troops with superior forces in order to make an 
overwhelming advance on the capital, and reduce it to ashes. 
Such was the amazing creduUty of the Parisians that this ludicrous 
story was universally believed and once more threw the city 
into a state of frenzied panic. The citizens, who yesterday had 
flown to arms against the brigands, now prepared themselves to 
do battle with the bloodthirsty troops of the King.^ 

^ Essais de Beaulieu, i. 522. 

^ Montjoie, Histoire de la Revolution, p. 87 ; Marmontel, iv. 182. See 


The terror and confusion that prevailed throughout the city 
was indescribable ; from seven o'clock in the morning of the 
14th false alarms succeeded each other without intermission — 
the Royal Allemand had already encamped at the Barriere 
du Tr6ne, other regiments had actually entered the Faubourg 
Saint- Antoine, cannons had been placed across the streets, whilst 
those on the ramparts of the Bastille were pointing at the city. 
" At the Palais Royal the most violent motions followed each 
other with terrifying rapidity; the most vehement orators, 
mounted on tables, inflamed the imagination of the audience 
that crowded around them, and spread itself about the city Uke 
the burning lava of a volcano ; inside the houses were seen the 
distress of husbands and wives, the grief of mothers, the tears 
of children ; and in the midst of this universal confusion the 
tocsin sounded without interruption at the cathedral, at the 
palace (the Palais de Justice) and in all the parishes, drums beat 
the ' generale ' in every quarter, false alarms were repeated, 
and the cry of ' To arms ! To arms ! ' The machinery of 
war and desolation, convulsive movements, and the sombre 
courage of despair — ^such is the horrible picture that Paris 
presented on the 14th July." 

One might suppose tlus lurid description to emanate from 
the pen of an incorrigible reactionary, unable to see in the tumult 
of the capital the subUme spectacle of a nation rising as one man 
to oppose tyranny, and representing as agitators those noble 
orators who called the citizens to arms. Not at all. This 
account is given by no other than the Two Friends of Liberty 
themselves, who thus ingenuously disclose the methods used 
by the revolutionaries to create a panic. For all this terror 
and confusion, these tears and cries and " movements of despair," 
there was no cause whatever ; the troops at the Champ de Mars 
remained completely inactive, the Bastille was utterly unpre- 
pared for defence, still less for aggression, and the only soldiers 
in the Faubourg Saint- Antoine were the increasing numbers of 
deserters from the army, whilst the one real danger — the brigands 
— had been disarmed and subdued by the milice bourgeoise. 
Thus the whole agitation was the work of the revolutionary 
leaders who, in order to accomphsh their designs, did not scruple 
to strike terror and dismay into the hearts of the people. What, 

also Deux Amis de la Liberti, ii. 297 : " The regiments encamped in the 
Champs filys6es had retired during the darkness, but their real motive and 
the place of their retreat was unknown. An attack was expected every 
moment ; nothing was talked of but the troops that were to come and make 
an assault on the capital." Historians have almost invariably misrepre- 
sented this point, confounding the panic caused by the brigands on the 
13th with that caused by the troops on the 14th. 


indeed, were the " tears of mothers " or the " cries of children " 
to C3niics such as Laclos and Chamfort, to the members of the 
councils of Montrouge and of Passy, and the agitators of the 
Palais Royal, to Danton, Camille Desmoulins, Santerre, and St. 
Huruge ? The " people " existed to serve their purpose, not 
to inspire their pity. 

But how was an unarmed multitude to carry out the attack 
on the Bastille ? The disarming of the brigands by the patriotic 
citizens the day before had deprived the revolutionary leaders 
of their most valuable instruments, and, in order to re-arm these 
ragged legions, it was necessary to drive the population once 
more to raid the armouries. This was speedily effected, and in 
the course of the morning thirty to forty thousand people of all 
sorts and conditions, with Theroigne de Mericourt in their midst, 
invaded the arsenal of the Invalides and seized every weapon 
they could find, whilst the troops in the neighbouring Champs 
de Mars — obedient to the order not to shed the blood of the 
citizens — oifered no resistance. " Famished tigers," say the 
Two Friends of Liberty, " fall less rapidly upon their prey." 
In the struggle several were suffocated, others killed in their 
furious endeavours to wrest the weapons from each other. Such 
were the citizens to whom Flesselles was denounced as a traitor 
for not deUvering arms. 

But now the moment had arrived to turn the attention of 
the people in the direction of the Bastille, for so far the alarm 
of the pointing cannons had created no popular determination 
to attack the state prison. A further incentive must therefore 
be provided in order to produce the effect desired by the leaders 
of a spontaneous movement of the people to overthrow the 
monument of despotism. For this purpose a fresh rumour was 
circulated by a bandit posted in the crowd collected in the Place 
de Greve around the Hotel de Ville — the arms the people sought 
had been conveyed to the Bastille, it was there that they must 
go to find them. And at this news a roar arose from the excited 
crowd, and from thousands of throats the cry went up, " Let us 
go to the Bastille ! " 

What was the Bastille, that monument of despotism, at 
whose destruction lovers of hberty all over the world rejoiced ? 
A grey stone fortress with eight pointed towers, surrounded b y 
a dry moat and separated by two drawbridges from a gateway 
opening into the Rue Saint-Ant oine. Over the poor and populous 
Faubourg it loomed forbiddingly, a mysterious rehc of the past, 
holding within its wall many ancient secrets. Yet was it the 

Emery Walker Ltd. s 


place of horror it has been represented ? In order to realize how 
far its evil reputation was merited in its day we must compare it 
with other prisons of the period. Now if we consult the report of 
the philanthropic John Howard on the State of the Prisons all over 
Europe, pubUshed in 1792, we shall find that the prisons of France 
in the reign of Louis XVI. compared very favourably with those 
of other countries. In England, Howard tells us he saw prisoners 
during the years 1774, 1775, and 1776 " pining under diseases, 
expiring on the floors in loathsome cells, of pestilential fevers," 
half starved and in rags ; in some gaols they occupied " sub- 
terranean dungeons, of which the floor was very damp, with 
sometimes an inch or two of water." Even women were loaded 
with heavy irons. Many of these unhappy creatures were, 
moreover, innocent, being detained in prison a year before trial. 
When Elizabeth Fry visited Newgate over thirty years later, 
matters had not improved very appreciably. AU this, however, 
was due less to deliberate cruelty than to the carelessness that 
characterized our forefathers, and is not to be compared with the 
deUberate brutality exercised in German prisons. Howard, on 
visiting Germany, was taken down into " a black torture chamber 
round which hung various instruments of torture, some stained 
with blood. When the criminals suffer the candles are lighted, 
for the windows are shut close, to prevent their cries being heard 

In France, Howard found active reforms being carried out 
in the prison system. " The King's declaration . . . dated the 
30th of August 1780, contains some of the most humane and 
enlightened sentiments respecting the conduct of prisons. It 
mentions the construction of airy and spacious infirmaries for 
the sick . . . a total abolition of underground dungeons." Howard 
had, unfortunately, not provided himself with a permit to visit the 
Bastille, and so was unable to gain admission,^ yet in one sentence 
he sums up the feeHng that the state prison inspired in the minds 
of contemporaries : " In this castle all is mystery, trick, artifice, 
snare, and treachery." 

Imagine an old house where, at the end of a long passage, a 
black door was to be found, locked and bolted, through which 
one might not pass, leading into a room that held a secret 
of some strange and terrible kind, known only to the owner 
of the house ; then picture the wild imaginings to which 
the mystery would give rise, the children hurrying past with 

^ Visitors were admitted on a permit to the Bastille. " M. Howard 
could, therefore, have obtained admittance like any one else — he had taken 
no steps to obtain permission to enter and was sent away, so he was only 
able to speak of the facts he had collected on the subject " {Bastille 
divoiUe, 2*«™s Livraison (1789), p. 13). 


bated breath, the servants whispering their suspicions to the 
village, conjuring up monstrous theories of what was to be 
found there. 

Thus the Bastille at the end of the Rue Saint-Antoine, with 
its grim portals and its eight grey towers, provided a perpetual 
matter of speculation to imaginative minds ; and if at times the 
preposterously thick doors with their gigantic locks opened to 
admit the curious, they suspected that much was still concealed 
from them. Down below those stone floors, hidden from the 
Ught of day, were there not subterranean dungeons, " the resort 
of toads, of Uzards, of monstrous rats and spiders," where the 
victims of despotism " pined in darkness and soHtude " until the 
mind gave way, so that when at last deUverance came, the 
prisoner had passed beyond all human aid ? Worse still, were 
there not dreadful torture-chambers, iron cages eight feet long, 
in which unhappy captives were confined, and, beneath the 
masonry of those stone walls, the mouldering skeletons of men 
done to death secretly at dead of night ? Most gruesome of all 
was the story of the chambre des oubliettes, a room of outwardly 
smiUng aspect, scented with flowers, and Ut by fifty candles. 
Here the unsuspecting prisoner was led before the governor and 
promised his liberty. But the human monster who presided 
over the destinies of the captives waited only to see the rapture 
of his victim before giving a signal at which the floor opened, and 
the wretched man fell upon a wheel of knives and was torn to 

Such is the legend of the Bastille, perpetuated by Louis Blanc 
and Michelet, and in our country by Carlyle and Dickens, but 
which rests on no shadow of a foundation. It should be noted 
that it was not amongst the people that the legend arose ; " the 
people," says Mercier, " dread the Chatelet more than the 
Bastille; they are not afraid of the latter because it does not 
concern them, consequently they hardly pity those imprisoned 
there." Such awe as it inspired in them, such curiosity as it 
aroused in their minds, had therefore been instilled in them by 
the men whose wealth or talents or importance entitled them to 
lettres de cachet — the tickets of admission to the Bastille. The 
State Prison, known ironically to contemporaries as the " Hotel 
des Gens de Lettres," was almost exclusively reserved for people 
suspected of designs against the State, for conspirators, forgers, 
writers of obscene books or seditious pamphlets whose Hvely 
imaginations threw a lurid light over their experiences. Of 
these, the most vehement in their denunciations were Latude 
and Linguet, both, as M. Funck Brentano and M. Edmond Bir6 
have proved, unscrupulous liars whose testimony is refuted not 

^ Deux Amis, i. 375. 


merely by the statements of other prisoners, but by the still 
existing archives of the Bastille. 

Researches also made by M. Alfred Begis, M. Victorien Sardou, 
M. Victor Foumel, M. Ravaisson, and M. Gustave Bord have 
unanimously revealed the fact that under Louis XVI. the Bastille, 
though dreadful merely as a place of captivity, bore no re- 
semblance to its legendary counterpart. The damp, dark 
dungeons had fallen into complete disuse ; since the first ministry 
of Necker in 1776, no one had ever been imprisoned there. All 
the rooms were provided with windows, and either stoves or 
fireplaces, good beds, and furniture, whilst the prisoners were 
allowed to occupy themselves in various ways — ^with books, 
music, drawing, and so on — and in certain cases to meet in each 
other's rooms for games. The food was excellent and plentiful ; 
many of the menus recorded by prisoners would tantalize the 
palate of an epicure, and this was so even under Louis XV., when 
De Renneville, in a pamphlet written after his release with the 
object of denouncing the Bastille, admitted that " certain 
people had themselves imprisoned there in order to enjoy good 
cheer without expense." ^ 

Yet, for all these amenities, the abolition of the Bastille as 
a place of arbitrary imprisonment was undoubtedly desired by the 
nation, and had been demanded by the cahiers of the noblesse 
as well as of the Tiers ]£tats. The request was made, moreover, 
in no spirit of sedition ; the King was confidently appealed to, 
in virtue of his well-known humanity, to demolish this relic of 
bygone tyranny. 

As early as 1784 the architect Corbet had published the Plan 
of a Public Square to the Glory of Louis XVI. on the Site 
of the Bastille, and this scheme was being openly discussed in 
1789. Moreover, in the Seance Royale on June 23, Louis XVI. 
had again proposed the abolition of lettres de cachet, thereby, 
as M. Bire points out, sounding the knell of the Bastille. 

The destruction of the Bastille by force was therefore needless 
from the point of view of the nation as a whole, but necessary 
to the designs of the revolutionary leaders, firstly, because it 
deprived the King of the glory of destroying it ; secondly, because 
it served as a pretext for an insurrection ; thirdly, because it 
exercised a restraining influence over the Faubourg Sain t-Antoine ; 
and fourthly, because its continued existence was a menace to 
their personal security. The State Prison must be demoHshed 
instantly if they were to make sure of not expiating their crimes 
within its precincts. 

This was the task the people were to be worked up to by terror 
to perform. It is evident, however, that no intention of this 
^ De V Inquisition FranQaise ou Histoire de la Bastille, 1724. ^^y 


kind existed in their minds when the march on the Bastille began. ^ 
On this point all reliable contemporaries are agreed — the idea of 
" the people " rising as one man to overthrow the " monument of 
despotism " is a fiction ; the greater proportion of the crowd that 
marched on the Bastille were animated hy one motive only — that of 
procuring arms for their protection? " It was not," says M. 
Funck Brentano, " a question of liberty or of tyranny, of deliver- 
ing prisoners or of protesting against authority. The taking of the 
Bastille was carried on to the cries of * Vive le Roi ! ' ' March,' 
said the women to their men, * it is for the King and country ! ' " ^ 

Whilst the honest citizens, animated by no sanguinary in- 
tentions, thus prepared to march on the Bastille, what was the 
disposition of the Governor, De Launay ? It is amusing to 
compare the fiction circulated amongst the populace with the 
reaUty recorded by the colleagues of De Launay. " Despotism," 
say the Two Friends of Liberty, " threatened us from the ram- 
parts of the Bastille. De Launay, worthy minister of its ven- 
geance, was entrusted with the care of its fearful dungeons, 
shuddering at the very name of liberty, trembling lest, with the 
tears of his victims, the gold that was the object of his desires, 
the price of their torments and of his brutality, should cease : 
the cowardly and avaricious satellite of tyranny had long been 
surrounding himself with arms and cannons. Since the insurrec- 
tion of the Faubourg Saint- Antoine (the Affaire ReveiUon) he 
had been unceasingly engaged in preparations for defence. . . ." * 

The truth was that De Launay had reduced the other officers 
to desperation by his unpreparedness. In vain Bezenval had 
warned him that the castle was unfit to resist the attack ; in vain 
De Flue, the captain of the Swiss contingent, sent to reinforce 
the garrison on July 7, urged him to take measures of defence. 
" From the day of my arrival," says De Flue, " I learnt to know 
this man ; by the meaningless preparations he made for the 
defence of his post, and by his continual anxiety and irresolution, 
I saw clearly that we should be ill commanded if we were attacked. 
He was so overcome with terror that at night he took for enemies 

^ " This resolution (to attack the Bastille) appeared sudden and un- 
expected amongst the people, but it was premeditated in the councils of 
the Revolutionary leaders" (Marmontel, iv. 187). 

" There is every reason to conclude, by the false reports and alarms 
that were circulated everywhere, that it was desired to keep up, to increase 
the agitation, and lead to the siege of the Bastille " (Bailly, i. 375). 

2 " They went to the Bastille, but only to get arms and munitions" 
(Dussaulx, p. 211, edition Monin). 

3 Precis exacte du Cousin Jacques. 
* Deux Amis, i. 306. 


the shadows of trees and other surrounding objects. . . ." ^ Even 
M. Flammermont is obliged to admit the pacific intentions of the 
Governor : " One sees that De Flue cannot understand the 
weakness of poor De Launay. For him, a soldier by profession 
and a foreigner, the besiegers are simply enemies — ' Feinde ' — 
this is the word he constantly applies to them ; whilst the Governor 
no doubt saw in them citizens whose blood he feared to shed even in 
the defence of the fortress confided to his care." ^ 

This tribute from a writer whose sole object is to glorify the 
besiegers of the Bastille effectually disposes of the theory of De 
Launay as the instrument of despotism. In fact, as all evidence 
proves, he did everything in his power to settle matters by peace- 
ful arbitration. When at ten o'clock in the morning of the 14th 
a deputation of three citizens arrived at the Bastille to complain 
that "the cannons on the ramparts were pointing in the direction of 
the Faubourg Saint- Antoine " — a position they had always occu- 
pied ^ — De Launay received them with his customary urbanity 
and invited them to breakfast with him. The cannons, he assured 
them, should be drawn back in their embrasures ; the embrasures 
themselves should be boarded over to soothe the alarms of the 
people. No injury whatever should be done to the Faubourg 
Saint- Antoine, and in return he hoped that the inhabitants would 
refrain from aggression. 

The deputies lingered so long at De Launay's hospitable board 
that the crowd of citizens who had followed them, and were 
waiting meanwhile in the outer court, began to grow impatient. 
The sight of the cannons being drawn back in their embrasures 
added further to their excitement, and it was immediately 
concluded that this movement had been made for the purpose 
of charging the guns with balls. 

De Launay and the three deputies were still at breakfast 
when a second deputation arrived from the district surrounding 
the Bastille, headed by M. Thuriot de la Rozidre, and again 
followed by a crowd. He^ la Roztfere was admitted to the 
Governor's apartments opposite the entrance to the courtyard 
of the prison, and as soon as the three former deputies had 
departed he addressed De Launay in these words : 

" I come, sir, in the name of the nation and of the country to 
represent to you that the cannons placed on the towers of the 
Bastille are a cause of great anxiety and spread alarm throughout 

^ La JournSe du 14 Juillet, by Jules Flammermont, p. Ixviii. 

2 Ibid. p. Ixix. 

' "If cannons were perceived on the battlements it was because they 
wer^e habitually used for firing salutes on fete-days : since the far-off Fronde 
no balls had been fired from them. The Faubourg saw them every morn- 
ing, but such was the popular excitement that this morning they seemed to 
assume a threatening aspect" (Madelin, p. 66). 



Paris. I beg you to have them taken down, and I hope you 
will acquiesce with the demand I have been ordered to make to 
you." De Launay may not have been Hon-hearted, but to this 
proposition he had the courage to reply : " That is not in my 
power ; these cannons have been on the towers from time im- 
memorial and I cannot take them down without an order from 
the King. Already informed of the alarm they cause in Paris 
but unable to be taken off their mountings, I have had them 
drawn back from their embrasures." 

No governor of a fortress could possibly make a more pacific 
reply, but it did not satisfy De la Roziere, who now requested 
De Launay to admit him to the prison. To this the Governor 
at first demurred, but finally allowed himself to be over-per- 
suaded by Major de Losme, the most humane and broad-minded 
of all the officers at the Bastille, known as the " Consoler of the 
Prisoners," and the very antithesis of the despotic De Flue. 

The Governor having led De la Roziere over the smaller draw- 
bridge into the courtyard of the Bastille, they found the Swiss 
Guard, some of the Invahdes, and all the officers assembled there, 
whereupon De la Roziere proceeded to appeal to them " in the 
name of honour, of the nation, and of their country, to change 
the direction of the cannons and to surrender." 

It is difiicult here to recognize the " ferocious De Launay 
shuddering at the very name of hberty " : for at this open defiance 
of his authority he joined De la Roziere in making the soldiers 
swear that they would not fire or make use of their arms unless 
they were attacked.^ 

De la Roziere, however, not content with this assurance, 
insisted on wasting more time by going up to inspect the battle- 
ments, whilst the people outside grew more and more impatient 
and excited. De Launay, who had accompanied him, now 
looked forth from the heights of the Bastille and saw for the 
first time the large and threatening multitude that completely 
blocked the end of the Rue Saint-Antoine and was beginning to 
penetrate into the outer courtyard of the prison. At this sight, 
it is said, the Governor grew pale ; the thing he had long dreaded 
had come to pass : the people were marching on the Bastille. 
Was it cowardice that whitened the cheek of the unfortunate 
Governor ? It seems unHkely ; De Launay was provided with 
formidable measures of defence — " fifteen cannons bordered the 
towers, and three field-pieces were placed in the great courtyard 
opposite the entrance gate presenting a certain death to those 
bold enough to attack it. Ammunition, moreover, was not 

^ " On the provocation of the Governor himself the officers and soldiers 
swore that they would not fire and would not make use of their arms 
unless they were attacked " [Bastille divoilie, ii. 91). 


wanting. ..." Why, then, should the Governor tremble ? 
Could he not, with a few volleys from his guns, sweep both street 
and courtyard clear of the encroaching multitude ? This was, 
however, precisely the course he feared to take, so he found 
himself in the dilemma that faced all upholders of the royal 
authority throughout the Revolution — the necessity for repress- 
ing violence, coupled with a dread of shedding the blood of the 
people. The power was all in their hands, but they feared to 
use it, and this fear — the outcome of the philosophy of the age, 
increased by a knowledge of the King's humanity — paralysed 
the arm of law and order, and gave to the revolutionaries an 
immense advantage. This, then, was the fear that caused De 
Launay to grow pale, and that, according to De Flue, would have 
made him surrender the castle had not De Flue and the other 
officers represented to him that he could not thus betray his 
trust to his royal master.^ 

When at last De la Roziere left the castle it was too late to 
stem the rising tide, and a short half-hour later the armed crowd 
arrived on the scene. This crowd that we have already seen 
setting forth for the purpose of obtaining arms had now, how- 
ever, been reinforced by other elements, which it is important 
to distinguish if we would attempt to understand the chaotic 
movement that followed. 

First of all, then, there were the honest citizens who desired 
arms for their defence ; secondly, the revolutionary leaders, the 
ferocious Maillard, Theroigne de M6ricourt, and Jourdan, later 
to be known as " Coupe-tete," all determined to accept no pacific 
measures but to destroy the castle ; thirdly, the motley crew 
of " brigands " not in the secret of the leaders, thirsting for 
violence, consisting not only of the aforesaid Marseillais and 
Italians, but also, according to Marat, of large numbers of Germans,^ 
presumably deserters from the royal troops ; fourthly and lastly, 
the crowds of merely curious who longed to explore the inner- 
most recesses of the Bastille, to see for themselves the ghastly 
torture-chamber, the iron cages and the oubUettes, and bring to 
Hght the many nameless and unhappy prisoners Hngering for- 
gotten in dark dungeons down below. 

This tumultuous and heterogeneous mob, armed with guns, 
sabres, and hatchets, now surged into the outer courtyard (the 
Cour de I'Avancee) shouting, " We want the Bastille ! Down 
with the troops ! " 

^ La JournSe du 14 Juillet, p. cxcviii. 

^ " The Bastille, ill defended, was taken by a few soldiers and a troop 
of wretches, mostly Germans and also provincials. The Parisians — those 
eternal idlers {ces kernels badauds) — appeared at the fortress, but curiosity 
alone brought them there to visit the dark dungeons of which the mere 
idea froze them with terror" (Marat, Ami du Peuple, No. 530). 


The besiegers were, however, confronted by the raised draw- 
bridge known as the Pont de I'Avancee opening into the Cour 
du Gouvernement, and beyond that by the second drawbridge 
leading into the castle itself. Two men, Toumay and Bonne- 
mere,^ thereupon climbed to the roof of the shop of M. Riquet, 
a perfumer, and by this means reached the wall surrounding 
the moat of the Bastille. Sitting astride on the top they managed 
to work themselves along to the Corps des Gardes by the side 
of the drawbridge, and the amazing point is that the garrison 
allowed them to do this without firing a shot, contenting them- 
selves merely with shouting warnings from the battlements,^ 
and this conciliatory attitude was maintained even when the 
two men proceeded to cut through the chains of the drawbridge 
" de I'Avancee," which fell with a terrific crash, kilHng one man 
in the crowd and wounding another. Instantly the whole mob 
rushed forward into the Cour du Gouvernement, and now for 
the first time the garrison, anxious to prevent their attacking 
the second drawbridge, opened a fire of musketry, scattering 
the people in all directions, and finally driving them back into 
the outer courtyard. This was the incident which gave rise 
to the legend that De Launay, having let down the drawbridge 
and enticed the people into the Cour du Gouvernement, treacher- 
ously opened fire on them. 

Around this treachery — the first of the two with which De 
Launay was accused during the siege of the Bastille — contro- 
versy raged for over a century, but responsible French historians 
are now agreed that the incident occurred as it is here described.^ 

The most convincing proof in favour of De Launay lies 
perhaps in the inexpediency of such a manoeuvre. If he would 
not make use of the legitimate means of defence at his disposal, 
why should he resort to treachery and thereby needlessly enrage 
the people ? Had he wished to carry death and destruction 
into their ranks he had only to fire any of his fifteen cannons 
from the ramparts. There was no necessity to entice them 
within range of musketry fire. 

* Bastille divoiUe, ii. 92 ; Deux Amis, i. 317. The citizens of the Fau- 
bourg Saint-Antoine gave their names as Davanne and Demain, but M. 
Flammermont (p. ccv, note) and M. Victor Fournel, Les Hommes du 14 
Juillet, p. 216, accept the former statement. 

* Even the Two Friends of Liberty admit this : " Two men . . . get up 
on to the roof of the guard-house in spite of the cries and threats of the 
garrison of the fortress." See also Bastille devoilie, ii. 93 ; Marmontel, iv. 
191. M, Flammermont's assertion that they acted under the fire of the 
garrison is therefore contrary not only to evidence, but to probabihty, for, 
considering the slow rate at which they must have progressed, they would 
have proved an easy target had the garrison chosen to fire, 

' " This pretended treachery of De Launay, which was immediately 
noised all over Paris ... is disproved not only by the accounts of the 


It is easy, however, to understand the misunderstanding 
that gave rise to the story of De Launay's treachery. The rear- 
guard of the crowd, seeing the fall of the drawbridge, the onrush 
of the people in the front, and then the fire directed on them 
from the battlements, could not know by what means the draw- 
bridge had been let down, and immediately concluded that the 
order had been given by De Launay so as to lure the people on 
to their destruction. The cry of treachery having once been 
uttered, the agitators, mingling in the crowd, saw their oppor- 
tunity to fan the flame of popular fury, and messengers were 
despatched all over Paris to circulate the news of De Launay's 
hideous perfidy. At the H6tel de Ville it raised a storm of 
indignation, and a further deputation was sent to the Bastille 
to inquire of M. de Launay whether he " would be disposed to 
receive into the chateau the troops of the Parisian miUtia, who 
would guard it with the troops already stationed there and who 
would be under the orders of the town." But when the deputa- 
tion arrived, the fusillade going on between the garrison and 
the besiegers made it impossible to communicate with the 
Governor, and in the frightful uproar that now prevailed the 
white handkerchiefs waved by the deputies in sign of truce 
passed unperceived. A second deputation, armed this time with 
a flag and drum, succeeded, however, in attracting the attention 
of the Governor and officers on the battlements, who repUed by 
inviting the deputies to come forward, but to persuade the 
crowd to keep back. At the same moment a subordinate officer 
on the ramparts, to prove the good faith of the garrison, reversed 
his gun in sign of peace, and this example was followed by his 
comrades, who called out loudly to the crowd, " Have no fear, 
we will not fire, stay where you are. Bring forward your flag 
and your deputies. The Governor will come down and speak 
to you." 

But here another misunderstanding occurred which gave 
rise to the story of a second treachery on the part of De Launay, 

besieged but of the besiegers themselves, and is rejected to-day by all 
historians" (Funck Brentano, L&gendes et Archives de la Bastille, p. 256). 
M. Flammermont admits with regard to this accusation : " All that is 
false." Even M, Louis Blanc with a rare impulse of fairness absolves De 
Launay from this charge : " Such was the confusion that the greater 
number (of the crowd) were not aware under what intrepid effort the chains 
of the first bridge had been broken ; they believed that the Governor him- 
self had given the order to let it down in order to entice the multitude and 
more easily to make carnage amongst them, . . . De Launay was capable 
of having given the order to fire but not of having committed the perfidious 
atrocity imputed to him, and justice demands that his memory should be 
o|ienly cleared of it " {Histoire de la RSvolution, ii. 381). In spite of all this 
evidence the story of De Launay's treachery is persistently repeated by 
nearly every English writer. 


for just as the deputies were about to advance, a man in the 
crowd — obviously an agitator posted there to prevent arbitra- 
tion — started a fresh alarm that one of the cannons was pointing 
at the people, and inomediately every one took up the cry and 
urged the deputies not to trust the " perfidious promises " of 
the garrison.^ The deputies thereupon retreated into the Cour 
de rOrme and remained standing there for a quarter of an hour, 
disregarding the shouts of the garrison urging them to advance. 
De Launay, now convinced that the signals of peace were merely 
a ruse to obtain admittance to the castle by treachery, remarked 
to his ofi&cers : " You must perceive, messieurs, that these 
deputies and this flag cannot belong to the town ; the flag is 
certainly one that the people have seized and which they are 
using to surprise us. If they were really deputies they would 
not have hesitated, considering the promise you made them, 
to come and declare to me the intentions of the Hotel de Ville ! " ^ 

Then, since the crowd continued to fire at the garrison, the 
garrison once more returned their fire, and the battle continued 
with redoubled violence. The story of this second treachery 
of De Launay was again circulated through Paris — the Governor, 
it was said, had repHed to the flag of truce with signs of peace 
and, the deputies having confidingly advanced, the garrison 
had discharged a volley of musketry, kiUing several people at 
their side. Around this point again controversy has raged, 
but all rehable evidence proves that the second accusation of 
treachery was as unfounded as the first,^ for on two points all 
accounts agree — the deputies did not advance and the crowd 
continued without interruption to fire on the garrison. 

Moreover, to this second charge of treachery, as to the first, 

* Deux Amis, i, 325. 

' "R6cit des Assi6g6s," Deux Amis, i. 321 ; Bastille dSvoilie, ii. 97. 

' The legend was repeated at the time by a great number of writers, 
including even Lord Dorset, who was not present at the siege, and whose 
account is inaccurate in nearly every point. It is refuted, however, not 
only by Montjoie, BeauHeu, and Marmontel, but by the principal revolu- 
tionary authorities — Bastille ddvoiUe (ii. 99) ; Dussaubc, p. 219 (edition 
Monin) : " In order to have the right on all these points, to accuse the 
Governor and his garrison of perfidy one would have to be very certain 
that they saw and recognized the signals of the deputies, and if they did 
indeed perceive them it must be admitted that it was impossible for them 
to cease action whilst the fire of the besiegers continued, and whilst they 
were being shot at not only from the foot of the fortress but from the tops 
of the neighbouring houses." BeauUeu explains the situation by stating 
that a part of the garrison — that is to say the Invalides — were on the side 
of the people, and that it was they who signed to them to advance, whilst 
the rest — the Swiss — ^were for holding out, and it was they who fired. 
This is the view taken by Louis Blanc (ii. 385), who also in this instance 
denies De Launay's treachery. " No historian any longer admits this 
legend," says M. Louis Madelin. 


the same line of reasoning may be applied — what object could 
De Launay possibly have for needlessly infuriating the people, 
though still at this stage of the siege he refused to open fire on 
them from the cannons ? Further, why should he fire on a 
deputation when we know from the evidence of his officers 
that he would have seized any opportunity to capitulate, and 
that it was mainly at the instance of the Swiss De Flue that he 
continued the siege ? ^ Obviously, as BeauUeu remarks, " there 
was no treachery, but only a frightful confusion." 

At the Hotel de Ville the news of De Launay's latest perfidy 
roused a fresh storm of indignation, and the wildest rumours 
were circulated amongst the crowd assembled in the Place de 
Greve. Now, amongst the groups of citizens angrily discussing 
the situation, there moved a tall young man, who hstened 
eagerly to all that was said, and at last entering into the conver- 
sation heard of the " massacre of citizens " that was taking place 
at the Bastille. This young man was Pierre HuUn, the manager 
of a laundry on the outskirts of Paris ; he had come into Paris 
early that morning on business, and, finding a crowd assembled 
in the Place de Greve, he joined it at the precise moment that 
the news of De Launay's second treachery had set all minds 
aflame. Huhn, who was a brave man, unconnected with any 
intrigue, shared the general indignation, and seeing that his 
handsome countenance and commanding appearance had 
evidently found favour with the multitude, he turned and 
addressed them in these spirited words : 

" My friends, are you citizens ? Let us march on the Bastille ! 
Our friends, oar brothers, are being massacred. I will expose 
you to no chances, but if there are risks to run, I will be the first 
to run them, and I swear to you on my honour that I will bring 
you back victorious or you will bring me back dead \ " ^ 

The people, taking this courageous and eloquent young man 
to be at least an officer, immediately ralhed around him, and 
the whole Place de Greve resounded with the cry, " You shall 
be our commander ! " 

Hulin accepted and found himself at the head of an army 
by no means contemptible ; here were grenadiers of Ruffeville, 
fusiliers of the company of Lubersac, a host of bourgeois, and 
three cannons, and these on their way to the Bastille were 
reinforced by several InvaUdes and two more cannons. 

In this second start for the Bastille there was undeniably a 
strong element of heroism ; these men setting forth, burning 
with indignation at a supposed outrage on their fellow-citizens, 

' ^ Bastille dSvoilSe, ii. 127, 128. See also account by De Flue in Revue 

* Montjoie, Hist, de la Rivolution, xlv. no ; Deux Amis, i. 327. 


are in no way to be confounded with the brigands who had 
preceded them. To attack the fortress, which at this moment 
they honestly regarded as the stronghold of tyranny, belching 
forth fire and smoke on all those who attempted to approach it, 
was indeed a brave adventure that required no httle personal 
courage and self-sacrifice. The fact that all the commotion 
was based on a misunderstanding does not detract from the 
gallantry of the enterprise. The incident is all the more remark- 
able in that it was the one and only occasion in the history of the 
Revolution when a crowd was led by a true man of the people, and 
not by the professional agitators or their tools. HuHn was a 
noble and disinterested man, and, as we shall see, proved himself 
worthy of the confidence the people had placed in him. 

This formidable contingent with their five cannons, Hulin 
marching at the head of the bourgeois, sergeants leading the 
Gardes Fran9aises, arrived at the Bastille by way of the Arsenal 
to find a scene of indescribable confusion. The crowd, infuriated 
by De Launay's supposed treachery, had bethought themselves 
of a plan for burning down his house by wheeUng wagon-loads 
of straw into the Cour du Gouvemement and setting light to 
them. The brigands in the crowd, not content with inanimate 
objects on which to vent their fury, seized on a pretty girl. 
Mile, de Monsigny, the daughter of a captam of the InvaUdes, 
whom they took to be the daughter of De Launay, and by signs 
intimated to the garrison that they would bum her aHve if the 
castle were not surrendered. The girl, who was Uttle more than 
a child, fainted with terror, and was dragged unconscious on to 
a heap of straw. M. de Monsigny, seeing this from the towers 
of the castle, rushed to his daughter's rescue, but was knocked 
down by two shots from the besiegers, and the horrible crime 
was only averted by the bravery of Aubin Bonnemere — he who 
i^ad cut the chains of the drawbridge — and who now succeeded 
in carrjdng the girl away to a place of safety. 

It is difficult to reconstruct the exact order of events at this 
point of the siege, but it would seem that the arrival of HuUn 
and the army with cannons coincided with the setting Hght to the 
wagon-loads of straw, and that at this moment the first and only 
charge was fired from one of the cannons of the Bastille. Accord- 
ing to Montjoie the discharge was made when the garrison 
perceived the cannons of the besiegers arri\dng on the scene ; 
according to the Two Friends of Liberty it followed on the 
attempt to set fire to the Governor's house ; but on one point all 
authorities are agreed — the Bastille had fifteen cannons, and during 
the whole siege one was fired once} No further proof is needed of 

^ Bastille divoiUe, ii. loi note, 121; Deux Amis, i. 326; Montjoie, 
Histoire de la Revolution de France, xlv. 112 ; Mannontel, iv. 193. 


De Launay's humanity : had he chosen to make use of the means 
within his power, even the authors of the Bastille devoilee 
are obhged to admit, he could have swept the courtyard clear 
of assailants : "If the platform of the great bridge had been 
lowered, and the three cannons charged with grape-shot in the 
courtyard had been fired, what carnage would not have been 
made ? " ^ But now the artillery of the besiegers being brought 
into play, the confusion reached its height : the roar of the 
cannons and the rattle of musketry mingled with the howls of 
the mob, whilst the smoke of the burning wagon-loads of straw 
bUnded and nearly suffocated the besiegers. A brave soldier, 
:^Ue, of the Queen's Infantry, assisted by a " muscular and in- 
trepid linen-draper, Reole," at the risk of their lives dashed 
into the flames and removed the wagons, thereby clearing the 
atmosphere, but in no way quieting the pandemonium. On 
all sides men were falling dead and dying to the ground, but 
most of these casualties were caused, not by the fire of the 
Bastille, but by the crowd itself who, not knowing how to load 
the cannon, were killed by the recoil or were fired on by each 
other. Hulin had succeeded, however, in destroying by gun- 
fire the chains of the drawbridge de I'Avancee, whereupon the 
whole mob pressed forward once more into the Cour du Gouverne- 
ment, and two cannons were mounted opposite the second draw- 
bridge leading into the Bastille itself. 

This movement seems to have entirely deranged De Launay ; 
obliged to choose, and choose immediately, between the shame 
of surrender and the wholesale massacre of the people by cannon 
fire, he was indeed between the devil and the deep sea, and it 
is said that, unable to decide on either course, he now resolved 
on the desperate measure of setting light to the powder magazine 
and blowing up the castle. But two InvaHdes, Becquard and 
Ferrand, restrained his hand, thereby saving both besiegers and 
besieged from total destruction. 

One thing is certain, the garrison made almost no defence. 
" I was present at the siege of the BastiUe," says the Chancelier 
Pasquier, " and the so-caUed combat was not serious ; the resist- 
ance shown was practically nil. ... A few shots from guns 
were fired (by the besiegers) to which no reply was made, then 
four or five cannon shots. . . . What I did see perfectly was 
the action of the soldiers, Invalides and others, ranged on the 
platform of the high tower, raising the butts of their rifles in 
the air, and expressing by every means used under such cir- 
cumstances the wish to surrender." ^ 

'^ Bastille divoilSe, ii. 126 ; Montjoie, ibid. xlv. 112. 
* See also Bastille divoilie, ii. 121 : " The garrison, so to speak, made no re- 
sistance." Georget, one of the besieging gunners, expressed the same opinion. 


It is evident, as Beaulieu says, that the garrison were divided, 
the Swiss, with De Flue at their head, urging the Governor to 
continue the siege, and the InvaUdes, whose sympathies were 
with the people, begging him to capitulate.^ At last De Launay, 
yielding to the entreaties of the latter, ordered two of his men to 
go up to the battlements with a drum and a white flag of truce. 
No flag was forthcoming, but the Governor's handkerchief was 
hoisted on a staff, and with this banner the men paraded the 
towers of the prison for a quarter of an hour. The people, 
however, continued to fire, and repUed to the overtures of the 
garrison with cries of " Down with the bridges ! No capitula- 
tion ! " 

De Launay then retired to the Salle de Conseil and wrote a 
desperate message to the besiegers : " We have twenty thousand 
weight of powder ; we shall blow up the garrison and the whole 
district if you do not accept the capitulation." 

In vain De Flue represented to De Launay that this terrible 
expedient was wholly needless, that the gates of the fortress 
were still intact, that means of defence were not lacking, that 
the garrison had suffered the loss of only one man killed and 
two wounded — ^the note was handed to a Swiss, who passed it 
through a hole in the raised drawbridge to the crowd beyond. 
The besiegers gathered on the stone bridge at the other side of 
the moat were at first unable to reach it, but a plank was fetched, 
a man in the crowd came forward, walked along it, fell into the 
moat and was killed instantly. A second man followed — accord- 
ing to one report £lie, according to another Maillard — and this 
time the sUp of paper was safely conveyed to the people. At 
the words, read aloud by £Ue, a confused cry arose, "Down 
with the bridges ! " but whilst some added, " No harm shall 
be done you," others continued to shout, " No capitulation ! " 
But ]£lie answered loudly, " On the word of an officer no one 
shall be injured ; we accept your capitulation ; let down your 
bridges ! " 

On the strength of this promise De Launay gave up the key 
of the smaller drawbridge, the bridge was let down, and the 
leaders of the people — ^Elie, Hulin, Toumay, Maillard, Reole, 
Ame, and Humbert — entered the castle. The next moment an 
unknown hand inside the courtyard of the prison lowered the 
great drawbridge, and instantly the immense crowd poured 
on to it and with a mighty rush surged forward into the 
Bastille. Whose was the hand that did the deed ? No one 
to this day knows for certain. De Launay had not intended 

^ " The Swiss exhorted the Governor to resist, but the stafif and the 
non-commissioned officers strongly urged him to surrender the fortress " 
{Deux Amis, ii. 333). 


admitting the crowd before parleying with the leaders, and 
it seems probable that the bridge was treacherously lowered 
by certain of the Invalides who were in collusion with the 

If so, they paid dearly for their cowardice ; for the mob, 
according to the habit of mobs, did not pause to discriminate, 
but fell upon the Invalides with fury, leaving the Swiss to escape 

Meanwhile £he and his comrades approached the Governor, 
who was standing with his staff in the great courtyard dressed 
in a grey coat, with a poppy-coloured ribbon in his buttonhole, 
and holding in his hand a gold-headed sword-stick. According 
to certain accounts Maillard, or a man named Degain, there- 
upon seized him, crying out, " You are the Governor of the 
BastUle." Legris addressed him brutally. ^ Marmontel shows 
a nobler picture of this dramatic moment : 

" £Ue entered with his companions, all brave men and 
thoroughly determined to keep their word. Seeing this the 
Governor came up to him, embraced him, and presented him 
with his sword and the keys of the BastiUe." " I refused his 
sword," £lie told Marmontel, " I only accepted the keys." 
fine's companions greeted the staff and officers of the castle 
with the same cordiaUty, swearing to act as their guard and 
their defence.^ HuUn, too, kissed the unfortunate Governor, 
promising to save his Ufe, and De Launay returning the embrace, 
pressed the hand of HuUn, saying, " I trust to you, brave man, 
and I am your prisoner." 

But though these pioneers showed themselves magnanimous, 
" those that followed them breathed only carnage and vengeance," 
for at the fall of the great drawbridge it was the brigands armed 
with forks and hatchets who first penetrated into the castle, 
leaving the soldiers who had carried on the siege at the other 
side of the moat. This horrible crowd gathered so threateningly 
around the Governor that filie, HuUn, and Ame resolved to 
lead him out of the castle to the H6tel de ViUe. At the risk of 
their lives the little procession started out, fihe carrying the 

^ " An Invalide came to open the door situated behind the drawbridge 
and asked what they wanted. ' That the Bastille should be surrendered/ 
they rephed. Then he let them in" {Deux Amis, i. 337). " I was very 
much surprised ... to see four Invalides approach the door, open them, 
and let down the bridges" {Relation de de Flue, Flammermont, ccxxxv.). 

* " R6cit de Pitra," La Journ^e du 14 Juillet, p. 48 ; Montjoie, Hist, de 
la Revolution, xlv. 115. 

* Marmontel, iv. 194. " The ones who entered first approach the van- 
quished with humanity, throw their arms round the necks of the staff 
officers as a sign of peace and reconciUation, and take possession of the 
fortress as surrendered by capitulation" {Deux Amis, i. 338). 


capitulation on the point of his sword, Hulin and Arne following 
with De Launay held between them. 

Thus began the terrible journey to the Place de Greve ; fight- 
ing every inch of the way, the two heroic men led their prisoner, 
receiving on their heads and shoulders the blows of the multitude. 
All through the seething Rue Saint- Antoine HuUn never left the 
arm of De Launay ; struck at, fired at, insulted, he struggled for- 
ward ; once, fearing that the bare head of the Governor exposed 
him to danger, Hulin quickly covered it with his own hat, but 
the next instant nearly fell himself a victim to the fury of the 
populace. Three times the people tore De Launay from his arms, 
and three times Hulin wrenched him from their clutches with 
torn garments and blood streaming from his face. De Launay, 
wounded from head to foot, pale but resolute, " with head held 
high and a still proud eye," made no complaint, uttered not a 
single murmur, only when the crowd had again hurled themselves 
upon him, and Hulin once more dashing into the fray had caught 
him in his arms and borne him from their midst, the old man 
pressed him to his heart and cried, " You are my saviour. Only 
a little more strength and courage. . . . Stay with me as far as 
the H6tel de Ville." And turning to ;£lie he exclaimed, " Is 
this the safety you promised me ? Ah, sir, do not leave me." 

But Hulin's strength was now rapidly failing him. The 
interminable journey was almost ended ; they had reached the 
Arcade de St. Jean — only forty steps onward to the Hotel de Ville 
and safety. But even as they entered the Place de Greve a 
furious horde of brigands bore down on the procession, and once 
more De Launay was torn from the arms of his protectors, whilst 
this time HuUn, utterly exhausted, sank upon a heap of stones — 
or, according to another account, was dragged there by the hair 

/^nd flung down senseless. When again he opened his eyes it 
was to see the head of De Launay raised on a pike amidst the 
savage cries of his murderers. 

** I have seen the Sieur Hulin more than a year afterwards," 
writes Montjoie, " grow pale with horror and shed torrents of 
tears as he recalled that bloody sight. * The last words of 
the Marquis de Launay will always echo in my heart,' he said ; 
' night and day I see him, overwhelmed with insults, covered 
with blood, and gently addressing his murderers with these 
words, " Ah, my friends, kill me, kill me on the spot ! For 
pity's sake do not let me linger \" ' " 

Ghastly as was the massacre of De Launay, it was followed 
by crimes even more glaringly unjust. The Swiss who, as we 
have seen, during the siege of the Bastille were the keenest to 
continue the defence, and to whom most of the firing was due, 
one and all escaped without injury, but to the Invalides, who 


had sympathized with the besiegers, the crowd showed no pity- 
Three were immediately put to death, and amongst these was 
Becquard, who had restrained De Launay from blowing up the 
castle. The hand that had thus saved the lives of countless 
citizens was cut off and paraded through the streets, then 
Becquard himself was hoisted to the fatal lantern. Three 
officers also perished, and to make the senseless violence of the 
day complete, De Flue, who throughout the siege had urged the 
Governor to greater severity, was allowed to escape, whilst the 
merciful De Losme was barbarously butchered. 

Two former Bastille prisoners, the Marquis de Pelleport and 
the ChevaHer de Jean,^ entered the Place de Greve at the moment 
of De Launay's death. Pelleport, seeing that the same fate would 
befall De Losme, who during his captivity had always been his 
friend, rushed forward and threw his arms around him. 

" Wait ! " he cried to the mob, " you are going to sacrifice 
the best man in the world ! I was five years in the Bastille, and 
he was my consoler, my friend, my father ! '* 

At this De Losme raised his eyes and said gently, " Young 
man, what are you doing ? Go back, you will only sacrifice 
yourself without saving me." 

But Pelleport still clung to De Losme, and since he was un- 
armed, attempted with his hands to keep off the raging multitude. 

" I will defend him against you all ! " he cried ; " yes, yes, 
against you all I " 

Thereupon a brigand in the crowd dealt Pelleport a blow 
with an axe that cut into his neck, and raising the weapon was 
about to strike again when De Jean flung himself upon him and 
threw him to the ground. But De Jean in his turn was assailed 
on all sides, struck with sabres, pierced with bayonets, until at 
last he fell fainting on the steps of the Hotel de Ville. Then 
De Losme was massacred, and his head was raised on a pike and 
carried in procession with De Launay's. 

The remaining InvaUdes were led through Paris amidst the 
execrations of the crowd : twenty-two of these unfortunate old 
men and several Swiss children in the service of the Bastille 
were brought to the Hotel de Ville, where on their arrival a 
revolutionary elector ^ brutally addressed them with these 
words : " You fired on your feUow -citizens, you deserve to be 
hanged, and you will be on the spot." Instantly a chorus of 
voices took up the cry : " Give them up to us that we may hang 
them ! " But the Gardes Frangaises, with ]£He at their head, 
interposed, throwing themselves courageously between the 
InvaUdes and their assailants. 

^ Charles de Jean de Manville, half-brother to the Comtesse de Sabran, 
a mauvais sujet who had been imprisoned in the Bastille for forging a will. 

* Bastille d^voiUe, ii. no ; Hist, de la RSvolution, par Montjoie. 


" I shall never forget that terrible moment," wrote Pitra ; 
" the crowd hurling itself upon the prisoners, the Swiss on their 
knees, the Invalides clasping the feet of filie, who, standing on 
a table crowned with laurels, vainly strove to make his voice 
heard above the tumult, whilst the Gardes Frangaises surrounded 
them, making a rampart of their bodies and tearing them from 
the hands of those who would have dragged them away." 

So, says Montjoie, " men of no education, soldiers and rebels, 
gave a lesson in justice and humanity to the barbarous elector." 

But this mobile crowd, stirred by a word to violence, was also 
by a word moved to pity. Suddenly one of the Gardes Fran9aises 
cried aloud, " We ask for the lives of our old comrades as the 
price of the BastiQe and of the services we have rendered ! " 
filie in a broken voice, with trembling Ups, joined his entreaties to 
theirs, " I ask for mercy to be shown to my companions as the 
prize of our deeds " ; and pointing to the silver plate belonging to 
De Laimay which had been offered to him he added, " I want 
none of this silver ; I want no honours. Mercy, mercy for these 
children," he turned to the httle Swiss standing by him ; " mercy, 
mercy for these old men," he added, taking the hands of the 
trembling Invalides, " for they have only done their duty." 

" £lie," says Dussaulx, " reigned supreme, as he continued to 
calm the minds of the people. His disordered hair, his streaming 
brow, his dented sword held proudly, his torn and crumpled 
clothing, served to heighten and to sanctify the dignity of his 
appearance, and gave him a martial air that carried us back to 
heroic times. All eyes were fixed on him. ... I seem still to hear 
him speaking : ' Citizens, above all, beware of staining with 
blood the laurels you have bound about my head — otherwise 
take back your palms and crowns ! ' " 

At these noble words a sudden silence fell on the tumultuous 
crowd, then a few voices murmured " Mercy ! " and the next 
moment a mighty shout went up from every mouth. " Mercy, 
yes, mercy, mercy for all I " and the great hall re-echoed the cry 
of pardon. 

So at last the Invalides and little Swiss were led out by the 
same crowd that had clamoured for their blood, and feted amidst 
general rejoicing. 

" Thus ended this great scene of fury, of vengeance, of vic- 
tory, of joy, of atrocities, but where there gleamed a few rays 
of humanity." ^ 

More than a few rays ! On this terrible 14th of July great 
deeds were done, deeds of glorious valour and self-sacrifice. 
Against the murky background of brutality and horror the names 
of fihe, Hulin, Ame, Bonnemere stand out in shining letters, and 

1 Bailly, i. 385. 


the fact that these men took no part in the subsequent excesses 
of the Revolution shows that they were not the tools of agitators 
but honest men acting on their own initiative and, as such, truly 
representative of the people. For patriots hke these the revolu- 
tionary leaders had no use ; the instruments they needed were of 
a different stamp. Jourdan, Maillard, Theroigne, Desnot, the 
" cook out of place " who had cut off the head of De Launay, all 
these will reappear again and again in the great scenes of the 
Revolution, but of £)He we shall hear no more. 

What share must we attribute to the people in the crimes 
of this day ? Out of the 800,000 inhabitants of Paris only 
approximately 1000 took any part in the siege of the Bastille,^ ^^ 
and we have already seen the elements of which this 1000 
were composed. That the mob by whom the atrocities were 
committed consisted mainly of the brigands, the evidence of 
Dussaulx further testifies : 

" They were men," he says, " armed like savages. And what 
sort of men ? Of the sort that one could not remember ever having 
met in broad dayhght. Where did they come from ? Who had 
drawn them from their gloomy lairs ? " And again : " They did 
not belong to the nation, these brigands that were seen fiUing 
the Hotel de Ville, some nearly naked, others strangely clothed 
in garments of divers colours, beside themselves with rage, 
most of them not knowing what they wanted, demanding the 
death of the victims pointed out to them, and demanding it in 
tones that more than once it was impossible to resist." Further, 

that they were actually hired for their task is evident. Mme. 

Vigee le Brun records that on the morning of this day she over- 
heard two men talking ; one said to the other, " Do you want 
to earn 10 francs ? Come and make a row with us. You have 
only got to cry, ' Down with this one I down with that one.' 
Ten francs are worth earning." The other answered, " But shall 
we receive no blows ? " " Go to ! " said the first man, " it is we 
who are to deal the blows ! " 

Dussaulx confirms this statement in referring to the lanterne, 
" where butchers paid by real assassins committed atrocities 
worthy of cannibals." 

But tools when they happen to be human are sometimes 
difiicult to manipulate. In massacring the garrison of the 
Bastille it is evident that the brigands exceeded their orders, 

^ So little commotion did the siege of the Bastille cause in Paris that 
Dr. Rigby, unaware that anything unusual was going on, went off early in 
the afternoon to visit the gardens of Monceaux. " I doubt not that it 
(the attack on the Bastille) had begun a considerable time and even been 
completed before it was known to many thousands of the inhabitants as 
well as to ourselves." 


for neither De Launay nor the Invahdes had been proscribed 
in the councils of the revolutionary leaders.^ The murder of 
Flesselles, the provost-marshal, had, however, as we have seen, 
been ordained during the preceding night. The forged note 
was prepared and handed round amongst the populace ; it 
purported to be a message from Flesselles to De Launay and 
contained these words : "I am keeping the Parisians amused 
with promises and cockades ; hold out till the evening and you 
will be reinforced." This note, of which only a copy was pro- 
duced, and the original, though sought for during six months, 
could never be discovered, is admitted by Dussaulx, Bailly, and 
Pitra to have been merely the faked-up pretext given to the 
people by those who desired the death of Flesselles. But on this 
occasion " the people " proved recalcitrant, and Flesselles was 
allowed to pass unharmed out of the H6tel de Ville. Then a 
hired assassin, " not a man of the people," says Montjoie, but 
a well-to-do jeweller named Moraire, approached him as he came 
down the steps and fired a revolver into his ear. Flesselles fell 
dead, and the crowd, once more carried away by the sight of blood, 
cut off his head and bore it on a pike with De Launay's to the 
Palais Royal. Thus perished the first victim on the Ust of 
proscriptions drawn up by the Palais Royal ; the only other 
in Paris at the time was the Prince de Lambesc, but though 
attacked by the mob, his carriage seized and burnt, he was able 
to make good his escape. At the King's command the Comte 
d'Artois, De Breteuil, and De BrogUe left Versailles and succeeded 
in reaching the frontier unmolested, thus avoiding the fate 
designed for them by the conspirators, but the Prince de Conde 
on his journey from Chantilly encountered at Crepy-en-Valois — 
the constituency of the Due d' Orleans — emissaries sent by the 
duke to stir up the peasants, and narrowly escaped drowning in 
the Oise. 

Foullon, though warned of the conspirators* intentions re- 
garding him, was at his chateau of Morangis and refused to fly. 
To the suppUcations of his daughter-in-law he only answered : 
" My daughter, you are aware of all the infamies circulated about 
me ; if I leave I shall seem to justify my condemnation. My 
life is pure, I wish it to be examined, and to leave my children 
an untarnished name." He consented, however, to go to the 
chateau of his friend M. de Sartines at Viry, and on the morning 
of the 22nd of July he started forth on foot. M. de Sartines was 
out when he arrived, and Foullon awaited his return in the 
garden, when suddenly a horde of ruffians, led by one Grappe, 

^ Malouet, i. 325 ; Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, ii. 87. On this 
point Montjoie shows great fairness, for he does not attribute to the 
Orleanistes crimes that were not of their devising. It is evident that 
he had definite grounds for his accusations. 


burst in upon him. His whereabouts had been discovered by 
the treachery of a servant of Sartines' — ^not, as certain writers 
have stated, his own servant, who remained with him and en- 
deavoured to protect him from his murderers. 

Then the unfortunate old man of seventy-four was led to 
Paris, and in ghastly mockery the ruffians proceeded to mimic 
the sufferings of our Lord, crowning Foullon with thorns and, 
when on the long road to Paris he complained of thirst, giving 
him vinegar to drink. 

At the Hotel de Ville Lafayette vainly attempted to save 
him from the fury of the populace. " But this agitation,*' says 
Bailly, now the mayor of Paris, " was not natural and spontaneous. 
In the square, and even in the hall, people of decent appearance 
were seen mingUng in the crowd and exciting them to severity. 
One well-dressed man, addressing the bench, cried out angrily, 
' What need is there to judge a man who has been judged for 
thirty years ? ' " The lying phrase attributed to Foullon, " If 
the people have no bread let them eat hay," was successfully 
circulated, and at last the infuriated mob stuffed his mouth with 
hay and hung him to the lantern.^ 

Meanwhile Foullon 's son-in-law, Berthier, was arrested at 
Compi^gne, in the midst of his efforts to assure the provisioning 
of Paris. It was said, to inflame the passions of the crowd, that 
he had ordered the com to be cut green so as to starve the people. 
The truth was that letters had reached him from all sides de- 
scribing the urgent demand for grain, and Necker himself had 
written on the 14th of July ordering him to cut 20,000 septiers 
of rye before the harvest in order to supply the present need,^ 
but Berthier had refused to comply, preferring to ensure the 
circulation of grain already stored, and by means of untiring 
activity he succeeded in providing the necessary supplies. This, 
of course, the revolutionaries could not forgive him, and Berthier 
was driven to Paris amidst the execrations of the populace. As 
he entered the capital, followed by a mob of armed brigands, the 
head of his father-in-law was thrust through his carriage-window 
on the end of a pike. Faint with hunger and sick with horror 
he reached the H6tel de Ville, but before the lantern could be 
lowered a mutineer of the Royal Cravatte plunged his sabre into 
his body. Thereupon " a monster of ferocity, a cannibal," tore 

* Von Sybel, in his History of the French Revolution, i. 81 (Eng. trans.), 
says of the death of Foullon : " This crime was not the result of an out- 
break of popular fury, it had cost the revolutionary leaders large sums of 
money, for which thousands of assassins were to be had. In Mirabeau's 
correspondence the following statement occurs : ' Foullon's death cost 
hundreds of thousands of francs, the murder of the baker Fran9ois only a 
few thousands.' " 

* La Prise de la Bastille, by Gustave Bord, p. 33. 



out his heart, and Desnot, the " cook out of place " who had cut 
off the head of De Launay and again " happened " to be on the 
spot, carried it to the Palais Royal.^ This ghastly trophy, 
together with the victim's head, was placed in the middle of the 
supper-table around which the brigands feasted. 

Such were the consequences of the siege of the Bastille so 
vaunted by panegyrists of the Revolution. Well may M. 
MadeHn exclaim : "A new era was bom of a prodigious he. 
Liberty bore a stain from its birth, and the paradox once created 
can never be dispelled." 

And what of the Bastille, that haunt of despotism, whose 
destruction was to atone for these atrocities ? Alas for the 
deception of the people, their investigation of the hated fortress 
revealed nothing remotely resembling the visions presented to 
their imaginations — no skeletons or corpses were to be found, 
no captives in chains, no oubUettes, no torture - chambers.^ 
True, an " iron corselet " was discovered, " invented to restrict 
a man in all his joints and to fix him in perpetual immobihty," 
but this was proved to be an ordinary suit of armour ; a destruc- 
tive machine, " of which one could not guess the use," turned 
out to be a printing-press confiscated by the pohce ; whilst a 
collection of human bones that seemed to offer a sinister signifi- 
cance was traced to the anatomical collection of the surgery. 

The prisoners proved equally disappointing. Seven only 
were found — four forgers, Bechade, Lacaurdge, Pujade, and 
Laroche ; two lunatics, Tavemier and De Whyte, who were mad 
before they were imprisoned, and the Comte de Solages, incar- 
cerated for " monstrous crimes " at the request of his family. 
The first four disappeared into Paris. The remaining three 
were paraded through the streets and exhibited daily as a show 
to an interested populace. Finally, the Comte de Solages was 
sent back to his inappreciative relations, whilst a kind-hearted 
wig-maker attempted keeping Tavemier as a pet, but was obUged 
to return him hastily to the Comite, who despatched him with 
De Whyte to the lunatic asylum at Charenton. 

The Revolution showed itself less indulgent to Bastille 
prisoners than the Old Regime. The romantic conception of 
Dickens in the Tale of Two Cities, wherein a former victim of 

^ Note that even the Two Friends of Liberty admit that the death of 
Berthier was engineered : " It seems that the people, without knowing it, 
were the blind instruments of the vengeance of the intendant's private 
enemies or of the cruel prudence of his accomphces. Electors noticed from 
the windows of the Hotel de Ville several people scattered about the square 
who seemed to be the leading spirits of the different groups and to direct 
their movements" {Deux Amis, ii. 73). 

* Bastille divoiUe, ii. 21, 39, 82. 


despotism is made to remark that " as a Bastille prisoner not 
a soul would harm a hair of his head," is entirely refuted by 
history. Two, as we have already seen, were nearly massacred 
in their attempts to save De Losme, and subsequently no less 
than ten Bastille prisoners perished at the hands of the revolu- 
tionaries — eight were guillotined and two were shot. Of these — 
greatest irony of all — ^was Linguet, the man whose revelations 
had contributed more than any other evidence to inflame public 
feeling on the subject of the Bastille. Linguet did his best to 
atone for the calumnies he had circulated, for in December 1792 
he wrote to Louis XVI. begging to be allowed the honour of de- 
fending him. Eighteen months later, in one of the many horrible 
prisons of the Terror where he awaited his summons to the 
guillotine, Linguet had leisure to meditate on the amenities of 
the Bastille. 


It was through the medium of the Palais Royal that the news 
of the taking of the Bastille reached Versailles, for the King's 
messengers were waylaid by revolutionary emissaries, whilst 
the Vicomte de Noailles and other Orleanistes were deputed to 
announce the events of the day to the Assembly. Needless to 
say, these events were ingeniously distorted to suit the purpose 
of the intrigue — ^the Bastille had been taken by force, De Launay 
had fired on the deputation of citizens and met with the just 
reward of his treachery at the hands of " the people." The 
presence of the troops was, of course, still represented as the 
only reason for these disorders. 

The King, informed of the desperate state of affairs, replied 
to the Assembly : " You rend my heart more and more by the 
account you give me of the troubles of Paris. It is not possible 
to believe that the orders given to the troops can be the cause." 
They were most certainly not the cause, and the removal of the 
troops was followed a week later, as we have seen, by disorders 
still more frightful in the massacres of Foullon and of Berthier. 
But the King, assured by succeeding deputations that no other 
measure would restore peace to the capital, torn between his 
own convictions and the entreaties of the deputies, finally re- 
solved to appeal to the better feelings of the Assembly. Accom- 
panied by his two brothers he appeared in the great hall, 
and in the simple human language pecuUar to him, that con- 
trasts so strangely with the redundant periods of the day, he 
implored their aid in dealing with the crisis : 

, " Messieurs, I have assembled you to consult on the most 
important affairs of state, of which none is more urgent, none 
touches my heart more deeply, than the frightful disorder that 


reigns in the capital. The head of the nation comes with con- 
fidence into the midst of its representatives to tell them of his 
grief, to ask them to find means for restoring calm and order.'* 
Then, referring to the hideous calumnies circulated on his inten- 
tions — ^notably the monstrous fable that he had ordered the 
hall of the Assembly to be mined in order to blow up the deputies 
— ^he added, with a pathos and dignity that won for him the 
sympathy of almost the whole Assembly : 

" I know that people have aroused unjust suspicions in your 
minds ; I know that they have dared to say that your persons 
were not in safety. Is it necessary to reassure you concerning 
such criminal rumours, refuted beforehand by your knowledge 
of my character ? Well, then, it is I, who am one with my nation, 
it is I who trust in you ! Help me in these circumstances to 
assure the salvation of the State ; I await this from the National 
Assembly, from the zeal of the representatives of my people. ..." 

Then, since he was persuaded the milice bourgeoise were 
competent to maintain " order " in the capital, he ended by 
announcing that he had ordered the troops to retire from Paris 
to Versailles. 

In the wild enthusiasm that followed this speech of the 
King the voice of the revolutionary factions was for once stifled, 
and Louis XVI. was escorted back to the Palace amidst the 
acclamations of deputies and people. Cries of " Vive le Roi ! " 
resounded on every side, and so immense a crowd assembled 
that the King took an hour and a half to cover the short 
distance between the Salle des Menus and the Chateau. The 
unfortunate monarch, pressed upon from every side, saluted 
unresistingly on both cheeks by a woman of the people, grilled 
by the rays of the July sun, suffered almost as much by the 
warmth of his subjects' affection as two days later he was to 
suffer by their coldness, and he reached at last the marble stair- 
case nearly suffocated and streaming with perspiration. 

Meanwhile the Queen, holding the Dauphin in her arms 
and Httle Madame Royale by the hand, came out on to the 
balcony — ^that same balcony from which less than three months 
later she was to face a very different crowd. The children of the 
Comte d'Artois came to kiss her hand ; the Queen stooped to 
embrace them, holding the Dauphin towards them. The Uttle 
boys pressed him to their hearts, and Madame Royale, sHpping 
her head under her mother's arm, joined in the caresses. The 
King arrived at this moment and appeared on the balcony amidst 
the cheers and benedictions of his people. 

In Paris, hkewise, the people longed for peace. When on 
the same day eighty-four deputies went to the capital to read 
aloud the King's discourse, and to announce the dismissal of the 



troops, they were received with acclamations, and from thousands 
of throats arose the cry, " Vive le Roi ! Vive la Nation ! " The 
whole city was in an ecstasy of happiness. Lally, the tender- 
hearted Lally, took advantage of the restored good-humour of 
the people to address them at the Hotel de Ville and entreat 
them to put an end to disorder : 

" Messieurs, we have come to bring you peace from the 
King and the National Assembly. (Cries of Peace ! Peace !) 
You are generous ; you are Frenchmen ; you love your wives, 
your children, your country. (Yes ! Yes !) There are no more 
bad citizens. Everything is calm, everything is peaceful . . . 
there will be no more proscriptions, wiQ there ? " And with 
one voice the people answered, " Yes, yes, peace ; no more 
proscriptions ! " 

Then the Archbishop of Paris (Monseigneur de Juigne) spoke 
with fatherly compassion of the misfortunes of the capital, after 
which he led the people amidst thunderous applause to sing a 
Te Deum of thanksgiving at Notre Dame. 

Alas, the people were not allowed to enjoy for long this 
restored harmony 1 Such was the amazing ingenuity of the 
agitators and the credulity of the Parisians that in the space 
of a few hours the city was thrown into a fresh panic — " The 
troops are not being sent away — ^fiour intended for Paris is 
being held up — soldiers are tearing the national cockade off 
passers-by and stuffing their guns with them — ^the city has only 
three days' suppUes." The workmen engaged in demohshing 
the BastUle were told that their bread and wine were poisoned.^ 

Then, when the fury of the populace was once more thoroughly 
aroused, deputations of fishwives were sent by the leaders of 
the conspiracy to demand that the King should come to Paris. 
It was the first of the series of attempts made by the revolutionaries 
to have the King assassinated by the people. They dared not do 
the deed themselves, for they knew the frightful punishment 
attaching to regicide ; they knew, moreover, the furious indigna- 
tion so foul a crime would arouse in the minds of the people 
in general to whom the King was still almost a sacred being. 
But if the populace could be sufficiently inflamed, and at the 
psychological moment the King were brought amongst them, 
might not some brigand lurking in the crowd, some obscure 
fanatic, give way to a sudden impulse and pull the trigger of his 
rusty flint-lock ? The thing was not impossible.^ 

^ " Paris again worked on by its perfidious agitators " (Marmontel, iv. 
214). See also Ferri^res, i. 1 54 ; Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, ii. 73 ; 
Deux Amis, ii. 32. 

* Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, ii. 77 ; Souvenirs d'un Page (le 
Comte d'Hezecques), p. 300. 


The Queen, who foresaw the same possibilities, threw herself 
in vain at the King's feet and implored him not to expose himself 
to the threatening populace. But the King, convinced " that if 
each citizen owes to his sovereign the sacrifice of his life, the 
sovereign equally owes to his country the sacrifice of his, turned 
a deaf ear to all forebodings, trusted to his people and the good 
genius of France, and in spite of the Queen's entreaties showed 
himself firm and unshakable. * I have promised,' he said ; ' my 
intentions are pure ; I trust in this. The people must know that 
I love them, and, anyhow, they can do as they like with me.' "^ 

" Louis XVI.," says De Lescure, " was neither a superior 
intellect nor an energetic will, he was an incorruptible conscience," 
and these words give the clue to all his oscillations, for conscience 
is necessarily a more uncertain guide than policy or self-interest. 
As long as he felt convinced a certain course was right he followed 
it without a thought for his personal safety or advantage — the 
trouble was that he could not always decide which course was 
right, and allowed himself to be swayed by conflicting counsels. 
On this occasion he did not hesitate — the people wished him to 
go to Paris; he would go, and his conscience being at rest he 
could meet any fate with tranquillity. 

At ten o'clock in the morning of July 17 the King, escorted 
by the deputies of the Assembly and the milice bourgeoise, set 
forth for Paris. His guards were taken from him, and in their 
place marched 200,000 men armed with scythes and pickaxes, 
with guns and lances, dragging cannons behind them, and women 
dancing like Bacchantes, waving branches of leaves tied with 
ribbons. In order not to tire the people the King had ordered 
the procession to move at foot's-pace, and it was four o'clock by 
the time it reached Paris.^ In the midst of this threatening 
escort Louis XVI. sat pale and anxious, and on entering the 
city he leant forward, casting his eyes wonderingly over the 
assembled multitude that received him in an ominous silence, 
for the people had been forbidden to cheer him. So potent 
was the spell exercised over the popular mind by the leaders 
of the Revolution that not a soul dared to utter the cry 
of " Vive le Roi ! " and brigands posted in the crowd silenced 
the least murmur of applause.^ Thus, dragged Uke a captive 
through the streets of the city, the King was obliged to endure 
this terrible humiUation for which no cause whatever existed; 
he had done absolutely nothing to forfeit the popularity which 
only two days earlier he had enjoyed. The good Archbishop of 
Paris fared still worse at the hands of the populace, for alone 
of all the procession he was hissed by those he had ruined 

^ Deux Amis, ii. 42 ; Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OvUans, ii. 77. 
* Montjoie, Conjuration de d'Orlians, ii. 81. " Marmontel, iv. 214. 



himself to feed. Sitting in his carriage, his eyes downcast, 
striving to overcome the agitation of his mind, his thoughts 
must have indeed been bitter. 

As the procession passed through the Place Louis XV the 
possibiUty that both the Queen and the revolutionary leaders 
had foreseen was realized — a hand in the crowd pulled the trigger 
of a gun, and the shot missing the King killed a poor woman at 
the back of the royal carriage.^ The incident was hushed up, 
and even the King was unaware it had occurred. Thus, saved 
by the mysterious power which protected him every time that 
he was brought face to face with the people, the King reached 
the Hotel de Ville. 

Under an archway of pikes and naked swords he passed to 
the throne prepared for him. BaiUy presented him with the 
tricolour cockade, and the King accepting it as that which it 
professed to be — the cockade of Paris — placed it in his hat. 
Then suddenly it seemed that the spell was broken, and cries 
of " Vive le Roi ! " broke out on aU sides. Once more Lally 
passionately appealed to the people's loyalty : 

" Well, citizens, are you satisfied ? Here is the King for 
whom you called aloud, and whose name alone excited your 
transports when two days ago we uttered it in your midst. 
Rejoice, then, in his presence and his benefits." After reminding 
the people of all the King had done for the cause of Liberty he 
turned to assure the King of the people's love : " There is not 
a man here who is not ready to shed for you the last drop of his 
blood. No, Sire, this generation of Frenchmen will not go back 
on fourteen centuries of fidelity. We will all perish, if necessary, 
to defend the throne that is as sacred to us as to yourself. Perish 
those enemies who would sow discord between the nation and 
its chief ! King, subjects, citizens, let us join our hearts, our 
wishes, our efforts, and display to the eyes of the universe the 
magnificent spectacle of one of its finest nations, free, happy, 
triumphant, under a just, cherished, and revered King, who, 
owing nothing to force, will owe everything to his virtues and 
his love." 

Again and again Lally was interrupted by tumultuous 
applause, and the King, overwhelmed by this sudden revulsion 
of popular feeUng, could only murmur brokenly in reply, '* My 
people can always count on my love." 

His departure for Versailles was as triumphant as his arrival 
had been humiUating. When he entered his carriage with the 
tricolour cockade in his hat an immense crowd gathered round 
l^m, crying, " Long Hve our good King, our friend, our father ! " 

* Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, ii. 82 ; Essais de Beaulieu, i. ; 
Bailly, ii. 61. 


It was eleven o'elock before he reached the Chateau. On the 
marble staircase the Queen, with the Dauphin in her arms, was 
waiting for him in an agony of suspense, and at the sight of the 
husband she had not dared to hope ever to see again Marie 
Antoinette fell weeping on his neck. But when she raised her 
eyes and saw that sinister badge — the enemy's colours in his hat 
— her heart sank ; from that moment she felt that all was lost. 

But the King was happy, not because his life had been spared, 
but because he believed that he had regained the love of his 


So ended the Revolution of July, and what had it brought to 
the people ? To the immense majority, unaffected as we have 
seen by lettres de cachet, the destruction of the Bastille meant 
no more than the destruction of the Tower of London would 
mean to-day to the inhabitants of Whitechapel. Indeed, certain 
amongst them shrewdly recognized that in attacking it they were 
fighting for a cause that was not their own. The Abb6 Rudemare, 
walking amongst the ruins of the BastiUe the day after the siege, 
came upon a workman engaged in the task of demolition who 
brusquely accosted him with the words : " Mon chevaHer, vous 
ne direz pas que c'est pour nous que nous travaillons ; c'est bien 
pour vous, car nous autres, nous ne tations pas de la Bastille : 
on nous f . . . k Bicetre. N'y a-t-il rien pour boire a votre 
sant6 ? " 1 

The people had indeed admirably served the design of the 
conspirators, taking on themselves aU the risks and facing all the 
dangers of revolt, whilst the men who had worked them up to 
violence remained discreetly in the background Now, in all 
the great outbreaks of the Revolution we shall find that the 
mechanism was threefold, consisting of, firstly, the Instigators ; 
secondly, the Agitators, and thirdly, the Instruments; and of 
these three classes only the last two incurred any danger. Thus 
at the siege of the Bastille the mob and its leaders alone took 
part in the battle, whilst the Instigators prudently effaced 
themselves. For the role of the Instigators was not to lead 
insurrection but only to provoke it, and having laid the mine 
to retreat into safety the moment it produced the desired ex- 
plosion. So throughout the whole course of the Revolution we 
shaU never find Danton figuring in the tumults he had helped to 
prepare ; he was, therefore, not present at the siege of the 

* " Journal d'un pretre parisien, 1 789-1792," published in Documents 
pour servir d I'histoire de la Revolution de France, by Charles d'H6ricault and 
Gustave Bord, i. 165. 


Bastille, but he visited it next day when all danger was over ; ^ 
St. Huruge also kept away, but he was at Versailles the day after 
shaking his fist at the Queen's windows and uttering furious 
invectives against the royal family ; ^ Santerre contented himself 
with sending his dray-horses to represent him in the fray ; ^ whilst 
Camille DesmouHns, the hero of the 12th of July, who first called 
the people to arms, was careful to postpone his arrival on the 
scene until after the capitulation. 

The women of the Orleaniste conspiracy proved more courage- 
ous : Theroigne was in the thick of the fight and received a sword 
of honour from the leaders ; Mme. de GenUs watched the siege 
from the windows of Beaumarchais' house, opposite the gate of 
the Bastille, with the Dues de Chartres and Montpensier — the 
sons of the Due d' Orleans — at her side. 

The duke himself behaved with his usual pusillanimity ; 
instead of going to the King and boldly requesting to be made 
Ueutenant - general of the kingdom, as the conspirators had 
planned, he presented himself timorously at Versailles and asked 
permission to go to England " in the event of affairs becoming 
more distressing than they were at present." The King looked 
at him coldly, shrugged his shoulders, and made no reply. 

But though the Orleanistes had failed to bring off their great 
coup of putting the Due d'Orleans at the head of affairs, they had 
nevertheless accompUshed a great deal. The destruction of the 
Bastille by force and not by the King's decree had proved a 
powerful blow to the royal authority, but the most important 
result of the outbreak from the point of view of both the revolu- 
tionary factions was the effect produced on the pubhc mind. 
The people before the Revolution of July, says Marmontel, " were 
not suf&ciently accustomed to crime, and in order to inure them 
to it they must be practised in it." The Parisians, always eager 
for spectacles and enchanted by novelty of any kind, had now 
been initiated into a new form of entertainment — the fashion of 
carrjdng heads on pikes and of hoisting victims to the lantern ; 
and though it would be unjust to accuse the mass of the true 
people — ^the law-abiding and industrious citizens — of sympathy 
with these atrocities, it is undeniable that from this date the 
populace of Paris — ^the idlers, wastrels, and drunken inhabitants 
of the city — acquired a taste for bloodshed that made them the 
ready tools of their criminal leaders. So, although, as we shall 
see, the crimes that followed were invariably instigated, if not 
performed, by professional revolutionaries, we shall find hence- 
forth a steady deterioration in the mind of the populace, and 
even in the mass of the true people a growing indifference to 

* Danton, by Louis Madelin. ' Mdmoires de Mme. Campan, p. 235. 

^ Le Marquis de Saint-Huruge, par Henri Furgeot, p. 202. 


bloodshed and submission to violence, that five years later made 
the Reign of Terror possible. Thus the Revolution of July, 
whilst serving the cause of the Orleaniste conspiracy, had hkewise 
paved the way for Anarchy. 

In England the news of the siege of the Bastille was received 
with mingled feeHngs. All true lovers of humanity rejoiced at 
an event that at the time they beUeved to herald the dawn of 
Uberty, though many EngUshmen, like Arthur Young ^ and 
Wordsworth, lived to reaUze their error. Burke, more far-seeing, 
wondered whether to blame or applaud ; thrilled by the struggle 
for freedom he shuddered nevertheless at the outbreak of 
" Parisian ferocity," and dreaded its recurrence in the future. 
But to the Whigs and the revolutionaries of England this triumph 
of the Orleaniste conspiracy was a matter for the heartiest con- 
gratulation. " How much the greatest event it is that ever 
happened in the world and how much the best ! " wrote Fox 
to Fitzpatrick. To the Due d'Orleans, whose despicable conduct 
had sickened even his supporters in France, Fox thought fit to 
send his warm comphments : " Tell him and Lauzun (the Due 
de Biron) that aU my prepossessions against French connections 
for this country will be altered if this Revolution has the con- 
sequences I expect." The anniversary of the " fall " of the 
Bastille was celebrated the following year by the Revolution 
Society at the tavern of " The Crown and Anchor," where more 
^han 600 members, presided over by Lord Stanhope, drank to 
^ the Uberty of the world, and Dr. Price dernanded the inauguration 
of a " league of peace." 

But whilst the Subversives of this country gave way to 


^ It is perhaps not generally known that Arthur Young, who has been 
falsely quoted as the panegyrist of the French Revolution on account of his 
earlier works, Travels in France, 1789, and On the Revolution in France, 
1792, entirely recanted from his former opinions, and in 1793 wrote a 
denunciation of the Revolution no less vehement than that of Burke. 
This pamphlet, entitled The Example of France, a Warning to Britain, has 
been very carefully ignored by democratic writers in this country. Lord 
Morley, in his essay on Burke (EngUsh Men of Letters, p. 162), accounts for 
it by describing Young as becoming " panic-stricken." There is, however, 
I believe, a simple explanation of Young's complete volte-face on the subject 
of the Revolution. His earher work was written in France under the 
influence of the set in French society that he frequented, and this set we 
shall find on examination to have been entirely Orl6aniste — ^hence his 
exaggerated strictures on the Old Regime. With the best portion of the 
" noblesse," and even with the " royalist democrats," he was unacquainted, 
and the disgust he expresses at the cynical behaviour of certain nobles 
at a dinner-party he attended is readily explained by the fact that the 
party consisted of the Due d'Orleans and his supporters (see entry for 
June 22, 1789), It was from these sources, therefore, that Young gleaned 
his earlier opinions on the state of France, and which a fuller knowledge 
of facts and not " panic " led him to relinquish. 


rejoicing, the Government of England resolutely refrained from 
any expressions of satisfaction at the blow to the monarchy of 
France ; out of respect to Louis XVI. the playhouses of London ~^ 
were prohibited from representing the siege of the Bastille on , 
the stage. 

The conduct of England provided, indeed, a marked contrast 
to that of Prussia. " All the symptoms of anarchy in France," 
writes Sorel, " all the signs of discredit in the French state, are 
seized upon abroad eagerly by the Prussian agents and com- 
mented on in Berlin with acrimonious satisfaction. Hertzberg, 
whilst priding himself on his ' enlightened views,' shows himself 
on this occasion as good a Prussian as the favourites of his 
master. This is because the crisis serves his intrigues and he 
hopes to profit by it. * The prestige of royalty is annihilated in 
France,' he writes to the King on the 5th of July ; ' the troops 
have refused to serve. Louis has declared the Seance Roy ale 
null and void ; ^ this is a scene after the manner of Charles I. Here 
is a situation of which the governments should take advantage.' " 
That the English Government should not seize this opportunity 
to attack the rival to her naval supremacy is inconceivable to the 
mind of the good Prussian. " The 14th of July overwhelms 
him (Hertzberg) with joy. ... He hails it after his fashion as 
a day of deUverance. * This is the good moment,' declares Hertz- 
berg ; * the French monarchy is overthrown, the Austrian alliance 
is annihilated, this is the good moment, and also the last oppor- 
tunity presented to your Majesty to give to his monarchy the 
highest degree of stability.' " ^ 

Von der Goltz, still faithful to the precepts of his former 
master, showed himself as enthusiastic as Hertzberg; he, too, 
sees in the 14th of July the final defeat of the Queen he had so 
long sought to defame in the eyes of the French nation, and is 
equally unable to understand the attitude of the British am- 
bassador. Lord Dorset, who allows his personal feelings of 
gratitude and affection for the royal family of France to override 
the satisfaction he might be expected to experience at the unique 
opportunity offered to his country. The Comte de Salmour, 
minister for Saxony, had filled his post more ably. ** The Saxon 
Minister," Von Goltz writes to the King of Prussia on July 
24, " though principally frequenting the society of the Queen, 
on account of his uncle, the Baron de Bezenval, nevertheless, 
I must do him the justice to admit, continues to behave very 
well to me {i.e. assists Von der Goltz in his schemes against the 
Court ?). The ambassador for England, owing to his personal 
attachment to the Queen and the Comte d'Artois, is as distressed 

^ This was, of course, absolutely untrue. 
* V Europe et la Revolution Frangaise, ii. 25. 


by all that has happened as if the blow had fallen on the King, 
his master. In truth it must go to his heart, but would it not 
be well if he distinguished better between his personal affections 
and the interests of his post ? " ^ Frederick WilUam, delighted 
at the zeal of his ambassador, thereupon wrote to order Von der 
Goltz to get into touch with the revolutionary leaders in the 
National Assembly and to continue his campaign against the 
Queen. Von der Goltz, obedient to these commands, stirred up 
further hatred for Marie Antoinette, " intrigued against the 
Court of Vienna, and thanks to his equivocal relations with the 
revolutionaries paralysed the measures of the French ministry." ^ 
By the Prussians, therefore, the fall of the Bastille is regarded as the 
triumph of Prussia over Austria. The Government of Berlin, 
says Sorel, ** sees that which it dared not hope for by the happiest 
fortune, that which all the diplomacy of Frederick had so often 
vainly attempted to secure — the Austrian aUiance dissolved, the 
credit of the Queen lost for ever ; influence acquired by the 
partisans of Prussia, and in consequence all avenues opened to 
Prussian ambition.'' ^ 

^ Flammermont, La JourtUe du 14 Juillet, and Rapport sur les Corres- 
pondances des Agents Diplomatiques, etc., p. 128. 

' Sorel, L' Europe et la Revolution Frangaise, ii. 69 ; Flammennont, 
Rapport sur les Correspondances des Agents Diplomatiques. etc., p. 127. 

' Sorel, L'Europe et la Revolution Fran^aise, ii. 25. 





The desire of the people for peace and for a return to law and 
order after the King's visit to Paris on the 17th of July neces- 
sitated strenuous efforts on the part of the revolutionary leaders 
to fan up anew the flame of insurrection. Often the task seemed 
almost hopeless, and Camille Desmoulins — ^now embarking on 
his sanguinary Discours de la Lanterne, in which the Parisians 
were incited to hang further victims — afterwards described to 
the Assembly the immense difficulty the agitators encountered 
in overcoming the disinclination of the people to continue the 
Revolution. ** I reduce to three/' wrote Buzot later, " the 
methods employed by the masters of France to lead this nation 
to the point she has now reached — calumny, corruption, and 
terror," ^ and though in these words Buzot alluded to the men 
who afterwards became his enemies, the Terrorists, they might 
still more aptly be apphed to his former colleagues, the members 
of the Orleaniste conspiracy.^ 

Calumny directed against the victims, corruption of the 
instruments, and terror created in the minds of the people — 
such is the history of the three months that led up to the march 
on Versailles. 

Of these three methods terror proved the most potent ; in 
order to rouse the people one must begin by frightening them. 
It was Adrien Duport,^ one of the most inventive members of 
the Club Breton, who devised the project known to contemporaries 
as " the Great Fear," a scheme which consisted in sending 
messengers to all the towns and villages of France to announce 
the approach of imaginary brigands, Austrians or EngHsh, who 
were arriving to massacre the citizens. 

On the same day, the 28th of July, and almost at the same 
hour, this diabolical manoeuvre was repeated all over France ; v 

^ Memoirs of Buzot, p. 61. 

* It is probable that Buzot was never an Orl6aniste but, like Robespierre, 
he worked with them at the beginning of the Revolution. 
' Essais de Beaulieu, i. 506. 



everjwhere the panic-stricken peasants flew to arms, and thus 
the great aim of the revolutionary leaders was reaUzed — ^the 
arming of the entire population against law and order.^ 

By this means anarchy was complete throughout the kingdom, 
and the crimes of July 14 and 22 in Paris were followed in the 
provinces by atrocities too revolting to describe. This Reign 
of Terror, organized by the Orleanistes, was, in fact, even more 
frightful than the Terror of Robespierre four years later ; the 
victims were arraigned before no Revolutionary Tribunal, 
received no warning of their fate, but suddenly found themselves 
the centre of a raging mob, accused of crimes they had never 
committed, reproached for words they had never uttered, and 
put finally to a death even more horrible than the guillotine. 

In no case, however, do we find these outrages to be the 
spontaneous work of the people ; the conception of down- 
trodden peasants rising incontrollably to overthrow their op- 
l/"^ pressors, as in the earlier jacqueries, is entirely mythical, and 
exists in the minds of no contemporaries. Such violence as the 
people committed was invariably instigated by revolutionary 
emissaries who persuaded them to act under a misapprehension, 
and methods of diabolical ingenuity were employed to overcome 
their reluctance. Thus, for example, the agitators, taking 
advantage of the King's benevolent proclamations in favour of 
reform, succeeded in making the peasants believe that Louis 
XVI. wished to take part with them against the noblesse, and 
to invoke their aid in demoUshing the Old Regime. Messengers 
were sent into the towns and villages bearing placards or proclaim- 
ing by word of mouth : " The King orders all chateaux to be 
burnt down ; he only wishes to keep his own ! " and such was 
the amazing creduUty of the country people that they set forth 
to burn and destroy, beUeving in all good faith that they were 
carrying out the orders of " not' bon roi." ^ 

When, however, the people proved recalcitrant, the revolu- 
tionaries were obUged to resort to force ; in Dauphine in Bur- 
gundy, in Franche Comte, real bands of brigands were employed 
to stir up the villagers, who in some cases offered a spirited 
resistance. " This troop of maniacs went into all the villages, 
rang the bells to collect the inhabitants, and forced them with 
a pistol at their throats to join in their brigandage. . . . This 

^ Moniteur, i. 324 ; Beaulieu, i. 506 ; Appel au Tribunal de V Opinion 
Publique, by Mounier ; Mimoires de Frdnilly, p. 121. See the very curious 
account of the scene that took place at Forges in Normandy given by 
Mme. de la Tour du Pin, Journal d'une Femme de Cinquante Ans, i. 191, 
Note that the manoeuvre was admitted and approved by Louis Blanc, La 
RivoluHon, i. 337. 

2 Montjoie, Conjuration de d' Orleans, ii. 105 ; Deux Amis, ii. 255 ; 
Moniteur, i. 324 ; Essais de Beaulieu, ii. 16. 


army of bandits threw the whole of Burgundy into consternation, 
where the bravest inhabitants of the towns and country places 
united all their efforts and advanced against these common 
enemies of the human race, who breathed only murder and 
pillage." ^ At Cluny the peasants, led by the monks to whom 
they were devoted, received the brigands with guns and cannon- 
fire and with stones flung from the windows. " They did not 
allow a single brigand to escape, they were all killed or led away 
as prisoners to the royal prison. They were found in possession 
of printed forms : ' By order of the King.' This document 
gave instructions to bum down the abbeys and chateaux because 
the seigneurs and the abbots were monopoUzers of grain and 
poisoners of the wells, and intended to reduce the people and 
the subjects of the King to the lowest pitch of misery." ^ 

At St. Germain the brigands unfortunately won the day, 
and the inhabitants sent a deputation to the Assembly protest- 
ing against the murder of their mayor, Sauvage, guiltless of any 
offence, the victim of " a crowd of strangers who had thrown 
themselves upon the town " and torn the unhappy man from 
the hands of his fellow-citizens.^ The mayor of St. Denis, 
Chatel, met with a still more terrible fate. Throughout the 
preceding winter he had been seen " always surrounded by the 
unfortunate, to whom he gave free orders for bread and meat 
and wood ... so that the inhabitants of St. Denis called him 
' the father and the saviour of the poor people.' " But suddenly 
Chatel found himself accused by messengers from Paris of 
monopoUzing grain, and was put to a lingering death of which 
the details are so unspeakably revolting that it is impossible to 
describe them.* Huez, the mayor of Troyes, another " bene- 
factor of the poor," was also butchered in much the same manner. 

It will be seen, therefore, that the aristocrats and clergy 
were not the only victims pointed out for vengeance to the 
people : the law-abiding bourgeois, the benevolent citizen, what- 
ever his rank, was equally abhorrent to the revolutionary leaders ; 
the houses of peasants who would not join in excesses were 
burnt Ukewise.^ It was not a case of " misdirected popular 
fury," but of a definite system pursued by the agitators which 

* Deux Amis, ii. 257. 

2 Letires d'Aristocrates, published by Pierre de Vassi^re, p. 256; Deux 
Amis, ii. 258. 

' Deux Amis, ii. 93 ; " Report of Deputation from St. Germain to the 
National Assembly," Moniteur, i. 184. 

* Montjoie, Conjuration, ii. 91 ; Deux Amis, ii. 172. 

* In Ma^onnais, not far from Vesoul, banditti to the number of 6000, 
coUepted together, set fire to the houses of those peasants who would not 
join them, and cut down 230 of them {Report to the National Assembly, 
March 22, 1791). 



consisted in exterminating every one who encouraged content- 
ment with the Old Regime. Three years later the minister, 
Roland, gave the clue to this design when he stated that " in 
1789 the misguided people allowed themselves to be worked 
up into fury and to immolate the men who were occupied in 
feeding them." ^ The massacre of these good citizens is there- 
fore to be explained in the same way as the attacks on Reveillon 
and Berthier. 

So obvious was it, indeed, to all contemporaries that these 
outrages were contrary to the interests of the people, that revolu- 
tionary writers can only explain them by the theory that they 
were instigated by the " enemies of the Revolution," that is 
to say, by the aristocrats themselves, who, in order to bring the 
cause of " Uberty " into disrepute, stirred the people up to vio- 
lence, and for this purpose had their own chateaux burnt down ! ^ 
But if the object of the aristocrats in persuading the people 
to bum down their chateaux appears incomprehensible, the 
object of the revolutionary leaders in doing so is very obvious, 
for by this means not only were the nobles driven out of the 
country, but in the process of destruction the seigneurial granaries 
were frequently burnt down hkewise, fields of standing com 
were trampled under foot, and consequently the famine was 
seriously aggravated.^ 

The manner in which the news of all such excesses was 
received at the National Assembly proves only too clearly the 
collusion between the revolutionary deputies and the agitators 
of the provinces. No historian has revealed this more clearly 
than Taine, and his strange inconsequence in heading his chapter 
on the disorders in the provinces as " spontaneous anarchy " 
has been commented on by several modern French historians.* 

*' Thus," writes Taine himself, " is rural ' jacquerie ' prepared, 

* Le Ministre de I'lnUrieur aux Corps Administratifs, September i, 

* See, for example, Deux Amis de la LihertS, ii. 90 and following pages, 
where all the excesses described by Montjoie are related in almost identical 
language, but the recital ends with the words : " Such was the march of 
aristocracy ! " Let any one who can make sense out of the following 
passage : " The enemies of the Revolution, profiting by the general dis- 
position to creduHty, strove to fatigue the people by alarms spread for the 
purpose in order afterwards to lull them into a false security : their plan 
was to drive them to excesses so as to bring them through licence under the 
yoke of despotism." Since few reprisals were ever taken, however, it is 
difficult to follow this Une of reasoning. 

^ MonUeur, i. 324 ; Fantin Desodoards, p. 196 : " Hordes of brigands 
paid by the Due d'Orleans devastated rural property without distinguishing 
to which party the proprietors belonged ; the granaries disappeared with 
he grain they contained." 

* La Conspiration rSvolutionnaire de lySg, by Gustave Bord, p. 62 ; 
Chassin, i. 109 ; La Revolution, by Louis Madelin, p. 74. 


and the fanatics who fanned up the flame in Paris fan it up like- 
wise in the provinces. ' You wish to know the authors of the 
troubles/ writes a man of good sense to the Committee of Inquiry ; 
* you will find them amongst the deputies of the Tiers, and 
particularly amongst those who are attorneys or lawyers. They 
write incendiary letters to their constituents, these letters are 
received by the municipalities which are likewise composed of 
attorneys and lawyers . . . they are read aloud in the principal 
square, and copies are sent into all the villages.' " ^ 

" I will tell my century, I will tell posterity," cries Ferrieres, 
'* that the National Assembly authorized these murders and 
these burnings \" ^ 

In vain the true democrats in the Assembly — Mounier, 
Malouet, Lally Tollendal, Virieu, and Bouffiers — rose to protest 
against outrages on humanity and civilization committed in the 
name of Uberty ; the members of the revolutionary factions in 
every case defended these excesses. 

On July 20 Lally, in harrowing terms, described the horrors 
that were taking place in Normandy, Brittany, and Burgundy, 
and ended with the words : *' A citizen king forces us to accept 
our liberty, and I do not know why we should wrest it from him 
as from a tyrant. If I insist on the motion I have put forward, 
it is that love of my country impels me, it is that I accede to the 
impulse of my conscience ; and if blood must flow, at least I 
wash my hands of that which will be shed." ^ 

The speech was received with cries of fury from all parts of 
the Assembly, though the side of the nobles ventured to applaud. 

The murder of Foullon and Berthier had filled Lally with 
burning indignation. On the morning of the 22nd of July, he 
told the Assembly, the son of Berthier, pale and disfigured, had 
entered his room crjdng out, " Monsieur, you spent fifteen years 
defending the memory of your father ; save the life of mine 
and let him be given judges ! " But Lally appealed in vain to 
the humanity of the Assembly. Bamave, rising furiously, 
exclaimed with a violent gesture, " Is this blood then so pure 
that one need fear to shed it ? " * 

^ Arthur Young was present when one of these letters was received in 
the provinces. " The news at the table d'hote at Colmar curious, that the 
Queen had a plot, nearly on the point of execution, to blow up the National 
Assembly by a mine, and to march the army instantly to massacre all 
Paris. . . . \ deputy had written it ; they had seen the letter. . . . Thus it 
is in revolutions, one rascal writes and a hundred thousand fools believe " 
{Travels, date of July 24, 1789). 

2 Ferrieres, i. 161. » Moniteur, i. 183. 

* Article on Lally Tollendal in Biographie Michaud ; also Second Letter 
of Lally Tollendal to his Constituents. This speech of Lally's and the 
exclamation of Bamave, though recorded by countless contemporaries, are 
suppressed in the Moniteur' s account of the debate that took place on 
July 23. 


Mirabeau went further. " The nation," he declared, " must 
have victims I " In a letter to his constituents he had openly 
defended the crimes attending the siege of the Bastille : " The 
people must be essentially kind-hearted since so little blood has 
been shed. . . . The anger of the people ! ah ! if the anger of 
the people is terrible, the cold-bloodedness of despotism is 
atrocious ; its systematic cruelties create more wretchedness 
in a day than popular insurrections create victims in the course 
of years." ^ 

The unhappy people of France had yet to learn that demagogy 
can be systematic too ; that demagogy, moreover, can become 
more potent than despotism, because it does not merely bring 
external force to bear upon the people, but like a skilful jiu- 
jitsu wrestler turns the people's own power against themselves. 
This was the whole secret of the early revolutionary movement : 
the people, by calumny, corruption, and terror, were made to 
work out their own destruction, to kill their best friends, and 
to strike down the hands that fed them. 


In Paris, as in the provinces, a great fear held all hearts in 
its grip. " The anarchy is most compleat," wrote Lord Auckland 
on August 27 ; " the people have renounced every idea and 
principle of subordination . . . even the industry of the labouring 
class is interrupted and suspended ... in short, it is sufficient 
to walk into the streets and to look at the faces of those who 
pass to see that there is a general impression of Calamity and 
Terror." ^ 

*' The National Assembly," Fersen wrote a week later, 
" trembles before Paris, and Paris trembles before 40,000 to 
50,000 bandits and vagabonds encamped at Montmartre and in 
the Palais Royal." ^ 

In the midst of these alarms the Royalist Democrats of the 
Assembly struggled bravely on with the work of reform. Already 
the foundations of the Constitution had been laid at the Seance 
Royale of the 23rd of June ; it only remained for the nobility 
and clergy to complete the scheme the King had inaugurated by 
surrendering their seigneurial rights. 

Now " the people " of France are by nature retentive of 
their possessions, and were therefore not disposed to believe that 
any class enjoying privileges would voluntarily renounce them. 

1 Eighteenth Letter of Mirabeau to his Constituents. See Moniteur, 
i. 191, note 2. 

2 Letter of Lord Auckland to Pitt. Auckland MSS. 
' Le Comte de Fersen et la Cour de France, 1. xlix. 


The great scheme of the revolutionary leaders from the beginning 
of the Revolution had been to play on this conviction.^ In the 
cahiers drafted by Laclos and Sieyes the " privileged classes " 
were persistently represented as opposed to reform, and later the 
disorders in the provinces were instigated by the same propaganda. 

The moment had now come to bring off the great coup of the 
revolutionaries and show the nobiUty and the clergy to the 
people as their declared enemies. This was to consist in proposing 
to the Assembly to abohsh at a sweep the entire feudal system. 
The privileged orders would be sure to protest, and a further 
triumph would thus be provided for the Orleaniste cause. What 
a signal for fresh insurrections in the provinces if it could be 
proclaimed to the people that the nobles and clergy had formally 
refused to relinquish their privileges ! On the other hand, if 
the " privileged orders " capitulated the Orleanistes would still 
score a victory, for, as I have shown, the weakening of the 
noblesse was an essential part of their scheme for making the 
Due d'Orleans a monarch ^ la Louis XIV. " Thus," says 
Montjoie, " d'Orleans on coming to reign would find no longer 
those provincial states, those sovereign courts, that clergy, that 
noblesse . . . which formed a tribunate between the King and 
his subjects . . . there would be in France only one master and a 
people without protectors." ^ 

Even the RepubUcan Gouvemeur Morris clearly recognized 
this danger when he urged Lafayette " to preserve if possible 
some constitutional authority to the body of the nobles as the 
only means of preserving any liberty for the people." 

The Orleanistes, of course, had no intention of giving liberty 
to the people, and so the destruction of both nobihty and clergy 
was necessary to their designs. Accordingly, at a meeting of 
the Club Breton,^ it was decided that the Vicomte de Noailles, 
a penniless member of the nobility and an ardent supporter of 
the Due d'Orleans, should propose to the Assembly the complete 
aboUtion of seigneurial rights. 

The plan was carried out on the evening of the 4th of August, 
but to their eternal honour the nobiUty and clergy of France rose 
as one man to renounce all their ancient privileges — seigneurial 

* Mimoires de I'Abbi Morellet, i. 335. 

' On this point the opinion of Montjoie is confirmed by no other than 
Robespierre himself, for in his illuminating Rapport on the Orl6aniste con- 
spiracy, deUvered four years later through the mouth of St. Just, we find 
this passage : " They (the Orleanistes) made war on the noblesse, the guilty 
friends of the Bourbons, in order to pave the way for d'Orlians. One sees at 
each step the efforts of this party to ruin the Court and to preserve the 

' Montjoie, Conjuration, ii. 120 ; Histoire de I'AssemhUe Constituante, by 
Alexandre de Lameth, i. 96. 


justice, dimes, the rights of the chase, and all those feudal 
dues the loss of which reduced many landed proprietors to 

At the end of the sitting Lally ToUendal rose to remind the 
Assembly that it was the King who had first set them the example 
of self-sacrifice by the surrender of his rights, and to propose that 
" Louis XVI. should now be proclaimed the Restorer of French 
liberty." ^ This time the eloquence of Lally carried all before 
him ; the proposal was instantly taken up by both deputies and 
people ; for a quarter of an hour the hall of the Assembly rang 
with shouts of " Vive le Roi ! Vive Louis XVI, restaurateur 
de la hberte fran9aise ! " 

The decision was conveyed to the King in an address from the 
Assembly, and Louis XVI., in accepting the title of honour con- 
ferred on him, declared his sympathy with the new reforms : 
" Your wisdom and your intentions inspire me with the greatest 
confidence in the result of your deUberations. Let us go and 
pray Heaven to guide us, and render thanks to Him for the 
generous feelings that prevail in the Assembly." ^ The last 
obstacle to the work of reform had now been removed, and 
nothing remained but to frame the Constitution in accordance 
with the wishes of the King, nobles, clergy, and people. 

On July 27 the RoyaUst Democrat, Clermont Tonnerre, had 
presented to the Assembly the " Declaration of the Rights of 
Man," ^ and by this charter and the resumes of the cahiers 
the wording of the Constitution was to be framed. Now, on 
August 27, Mounier, in the name of the Committee of the Consti- 
tution, came forward with an improved plan by the Archbishop 
of Bordeaux.* It will be seen, therefore, that the Royahst Demo- 
crats were again the leaders of reform and rightly earned the name 
they bore later of " the Constitutionals," whilst on the other 
hand we have only to consult the Moniteur to find that in the 
debates that took place on the subject of the Constitution the 
revolutionary leaders in the Assembly were conspicuous by their 
silence. The thunderous eloquence of Mirabeau, the biting 
irony of Robespierre, so potent to destroy, ceased directiy the 
work of reconstruction began. True, the Abbe Sieyes, that 
" dark horse " of the Assembly — ^now Royahst, now RepubUcan, 
and all the while the intime of the Orleanistes — had taken part 
in framing the Constitution, but when it came to renouncing 
his own privileges Sieyes showed the worth of his Liberalism and 
openly opposed the abohtion of the dimes,^ whilst the Arch- 

^ Moniteur, i. 287 ; Bailly, ii. 217 ; article on Lally Tollendal in 
Biographie Michaud. 

* Moniteur, i. 335. ^ Ibid. i. 216. * Ibid. i. 390. 

* Ibid. i. 328 ; Mimoires de Rivarol, p. 147. 


bishop of Paris, hissed by the mob as an aristocrat, came forward 
at the head of the clergy to renounce them.^ The history of the 
Revolution is full of these Uttle ironies. 

It now became evident to the revolutionary leaders that the 
tide was turning irresistibly against them ; during the discussion 
on the Constitution the existence neither of the monarchy nor 
of the reigning dynasty had been brought into dispute — for, so 
far, no one dared to differ from the unanimous demands of the 
cahiers — and it was plain that not only the monarchists but Louis 
Seizistes were leading the House. " Louis XVL," a deputy 
had declared, " is no longer on the throne by accident of birth ; 
he is there by the choice of the nation." ^ 

To both Orleanistes and Subversives the future, therefore, 
looked ver}^ black indeed ; at this rate France would be re- 
generated without further convulsions, and both monarchy and 
reigning dynasty estabhshed more firmly than ever. From the 
Orleaniste point of view the Constitution would inevitably prove 
disastrous, for either it would stop the Revolution altogether, 
or, if they were able to continue it and bring about the desired 
change of dynasty, the Due d'Orleans would have to content 
himself with becoming a Constitutional monarch — a. position 
it would not amuse him in the least to occupy. Some pretext 
must therefore be found immediately for creating fresh dissen- 
sions. This was provided by the debate on the " royal sanction " 
which began on August 29 and turned on the questions : " Should 
the King be allowed to retain the right of the * Veto ' ? If so, 
should the ' Veto ' be * absolute ' or ' suspensive ' — ^in other 
words, should the King be able absolutely to 'veto' the pro- 
mulgation of a law or merely to suspend its promulgation until 
a later date ? " 

Undoubtedly the Royal Veto was a reUc of autocracy, and as 
such might reasonably be condemned by independent democratic 
thinkers, but, as several deputies immediately pointed out, the 
question was one on which the Assembly had no power to de- 
hberate, since " the royal sanction had been demanded by the 
people in the cahiers." * 

" The law was made by the nation," said D'Espremenil, 
" we have only to declare it." * 

Thus spoke the spirit of pure democracy. 

The RoyaUst Democrats, true to their cahiers as to their 
King, therefore unanimously supported the royal sanction. *' I 
regard the royal sanction," declared LaUy Tollendal, " as one 
of the first ramparts of national hberty." ^ "I would defend 

* Moniteur, i. 331 ; Rivarol, p. 146. * Moniieur, i. 391. 
» See Articles VI. and VII. quoted on pp. 7 and 8. 

* Moniteur, i. 397. * Ibid. i. 419. 


it," he said again, " to my last breath, less for the King than for 
the people." ^ 

Here, then, was the pretext needed by the revolutionary 
leaders for once more stirring up insurrection, and agitators were 
sent into the clubs and caf6s of Paris to tell the citizens that 
" traitors in the Assembly had voted for the absolute Veto of 
the King, who would now revoke all the decrees of August the 4th 
and France would be again enslaved." ^ 

They were careful, however, not to mention to the people 
that several of the Orleaniste deputies, including Mirabeau 
himself — acting presumably in the interests of the duke — had 
voted for the absolute Veto.^ The Royalist Democrats alone, 
and not the Royalists who opposed reform, were represented to 
the people as their enemies. Playfair is one of the few EngUsh 
contemporaries who have commented on this significant fact : 
" Perhaps the thing that may the most convince impartial men 
of the existence of a criminal plot is, that the moderate party of 
the reformers in the Assembly, that is those who were royalists, 
but had obtained popular favour by their eloquence and love of 
liberty, were those whom the party in power, the Lameths, 
Bamave, Mirabeau, etc., turned against with the greatest fury. 
Mounier, the Count de Lally ToUendal, and upwards of forty 
more of the moderate party, received anonymous letters threaten- 
ing their hves. . . . This would seem to be proof that the reigning 
party were more afraid of the men who were attached to Uberty 
than of the pure royaUsts, as the personal characters of the former 
left no hopes of leading them over to the violent measures in 
view." * 

So again we find the revolutionary movement diametrically 
opposed to the work of reform. Let any one who challenges this 
statement explain the following circumstance : the plan of the 
Constitution founded on the Declaration of the Rights of Man-^ 
universally agreed to be the purest expression of democracy — was 
given to the Assembly by the RoyaUst Democrats on August 28, 
and two days later a price was set on the heads of all these 
men by the revolutionaries at the Palais Royal.^ Mounier, who 

^ Moniteur, i. 399. 

^ Deux Amis, ii. 361 ; Mimoires de Bailly, ii. 327 ; Ferridres, i. 222. 

' According to the Mimoires de La Fayette, Mirabeau had voted for the 
absolute Veto on the advice of Clavi^re, the future Girondin : " ' You see 
that bald head,' he said, pointing out Clavi^re to several deputies who 
spoke to him in favour of the Suspensive Veto, ' I do nothing without 
consulting it.' And the bald head, RepubUcan in Geneva on the loth of 
August (1792), had declared for the absolute Veto " {Mimoires de La 
Fayette, iii. 311). 

* Playfair's History oj Jacobinism, p. 244. 

* Article on Mounier in Biographic Michaud by Lally Tollendal. 


from the first had shown himself the most intrepid champion of 
Uberty — Mounier who in an excess of democratic zeal had proposed 
the Oath of the Tennis Court, and to whom more than to any 
one the principles of the Constitution were due — ^was now held 
up to popular execration, and from this moment his life was 
perpetually threatened.^ Could there be any explanation but 
the one offered by Mounier himself — ^that the whole agitation 
was a plot to prevent the framing of the Constitution ? ^ 


By the usual methods of calumny and terror the mind of the 
populace was once more stirred up, and a panic on the subject 
of the Veto spread through Paris. The fact that to many of the 
people the Latin word conveyed no meaning whatever greatly 
facilitated the work of the agitators. " Do you know what the 
Veto is ? " they cried out at the street corners. " Listen, then. 
You go home and your wife has prepared your dinner, then the 
King says ' Veto ! ' and you get nothing to eat ! " ^ 

The " suspensive Veto," a peasant told Bertrand de Molle- 
ville, was the right of the King to suspend, i.e. to hang, any one he 
pleased. Some people, indeed, believed the Veto to be alive : 
" What is he, this Veto ? What has he done, this brigand Veto ? " * 

By the evening of Sunday, August 30, the garden of the 
Palais Royal had become once more a raging sea ; so immense 
was the crowd that it overflowed into the surrounding houses ; 
the windows and the very roofs were packed with people. Sud- 
denly from a window of the Cafe de Foy there shot forth the; 
shoulders and shaggy black head of Camille DesmouHns, who 
shouted excitedly to the assembled multitude : 

" Messieurs, I have just received a letter from Versailles 
telling me that the Ufe of the Comte de Mirabeau is no longer 
safe, and it is for the defence of our Uberty that he is exposed 
to danger ! " ^ 

The panic news was passed from mouth to mouth — " Mirabeau 
has paid with his hfe-blood his attachment to the cause of the 

^ " M. Mounier, one of the principal a,iithors of the Revolution and one 
of the first leaders of the patriotic party, Ifecame suddenly the object of the 
people's hatred and of the favour of aristocracy ! " {Deux Amis, iii. i66). 
For " people " as usual read " revolutionaries " 1 

* Mounier to the Assembly, August 31 : " It is evident that perverse 
men desire to build up their fortunes on the ruins of the country. You see 
the plan to prevent the Constitution from being formed and developed " 
{Moniteur, i. 400). 

^ ' La Revolution, by Louis Madelin, p. 87. 

* Article on St. Huruge in the Revue de la Revolution, published by 
Gustave Bord, vol. vi. p. 251. 

* Procedure du Chdtelet, evidence of Dwall, witness cccxvii. 


people " — " Mirabeau has been stabbed to the heart — no, 
poisoned " — a letter from Mirabeau himself warned the people 
that the country was in danger, that fourteen men had betrayed 
their cause.^ 

These tidings drove the crowd into a frenzy of alarm, and 
thus the ridiculous situation was created of a vast multitude 
inveighing against the Veto and at the same time stricken 
with panic for the safety of its chief supporter — Mirabeau ! 
" The people," remarks Bailly, " did not as yet know their 
lesson." 2 

It was now that the Orleanistes saw their opportunity for 
launching their great scheme of a march on Versailles. If the 
King persisted in retaining his popularity with the people by 
giving into their demands and continuing to favour reforms, it 
was idle to hope that the people would rise against him. The 
remoteness of Versailles from the centre of agitation added 
greatly to the glamour that surrounded the person of the King ; 
shut in behind the gilded barriers and the dim red waUs of the 
great chateau of the Roi Soleil, Louis XVI. still retained to some 
degree the character of a sacred being, whose infrequent appear- 
ance in pubUc inspired the great mass of the people with wondering 
awe. But if Louis XVI. could be brought to Paris to become 
the object of everyday contemplation by the multitude, the halo 
might be expected to faU from his head. At the palace of the 
Tuileries, close to the Palais Royal, the revolutionary leaders 
would have him in their power,^ and the populace they held at 
their command could be trained to degrade the Royal Family in 
the eyes of the still loyal people. 

Accordingly it was announced at the Palais Royal that in 
order to save the country from the horrors of the Veto, and to 
ensure the safety of Mirabeau, a deputation must be sent to the 
Assembly to insist that the King and the Dauphin should be 
brought to Paris. Camille DesmouHns shrieked that the Queen 
must be imprisoned at St. Cyr and that the deputation should 
consist of 15,000 armed men. At the same time threatening 
messages were despatched to the President of the Assembly, 
the bishop of Langres ; one signed by St. Huruge ran thus : 
" The Patriotic Assembly of the Palais Royal have the honour 
to inform you that if that portion of the aristocracy, composed 
of a party in the clergy, a party in the noblesse, and 120 members 
of the Commons, ignorant and corrupt, continue to disturb 
harmony and to demand the ' absolute sanction,' 15,000 men 
are ready to hght up their houses and chateaux, and yours in 

^ Fenidres, i. 220 ; Deux Amis, ii. 360. 

2 Mimoires de Bailly, ii. 327. 

* Appel au Tribunal de I'Opinion publique, by Mounier, p. 65. 


particular. Monsieur, and to inflict on the deputies who betray 
their country the fate of Foullon and of Berthier." ^ 

The authorship of these two murders was thus clearly revealed. 

But the number of insurgents promised by the leaders was 
not forthcoming, and at ten o'clock in the evening St. Huruge, 
armed with the petition, set forth at the head of only 1500 un- 
armed men for Versailles. The aspect of their leader was terrible 
enough to inspire his followers with courage — a massive figure 
surmounted by a huge red face, eyes of extraordinary audacity 
flaming forth from under a thick black wig, St. Huruge appeared 
the very incarnation of the revolutionary spirit.^ 

But the daring of St. Huruge, Uke the daring of Danton, was 
more apparent than real ; the first sight of danger reduced him 
to the utmost meekness.^ On this occasion danger of a very 
formidable kind confronted him — Lafayette, the great opponent 
of the Orleaniste conspiracy, was ready for him. The proces- 
sion having marched boldly down the Rue Saint-Honor6 found 
their passage blocked by the National Guard, of which Lafayette 
was the conmiander, and being turned back they proceeded to 
march to the H6tel de Ville, where Bailly and Lafayette himself 
were waiting to receive them. The popular general had little 
difficulty in reducing St. Huruge to submission ; perfectly docile 
and even " contented " he consented to retire from the scene, 
but for greater safety Lafayette imprisoned him in the Chatelet. 

So ended this first attempt to march on Versailles. But 
the project was not abandoned. On the contrary, from this 
moment it was perpetually discussed, and a fresh pretext was 
sought for stirring up the people. 


When on the i8th of September the King made his reply to 
the demands of the Assembly requesting him to sanction the 
reforms of the 4th of August, it became evident that no opposi- 
tion could be hoped for from the royal authority. The King's 
reply was both reasonable and S5^mpathetic ; in a long and 
detailed analysis he discussed each reform in turn, pointing out 
that certain articles were only the text for laws that the Assembly 
must frame. He ended with the words : " Therefore I approve 

^ Mimoires de Bailly, iii. 392. 

* Esquisses historiques de la Rivolution Franfaise, by Dulaure, p. 286. 

' A contemporary records that St. Huruge having been once reproached 
for allowing himself to be flogged without retaliating, he replied, " I never 
interfere with what goes on behind my back" {L'Ami des Lois, ly 
pluviose, An VIII). See article on St. Huruge in the Revue de la Revolution 
edited by Gustave Bord, vol. vi. 


the greater number of these articles, and I will sanction them 
when they have been drawn up into laws." 

This concihatory reply left the revolutionary leaders no 
further ground for agitation, and they contented themselves 
with insolently remarking that the King had not been asked to 
"sanction" the decrees of the Assembly but only to "promulgate " 
them. Floods of rhetoric were then expended on the precise 
significance of the two words. But as the King sensibly observed, 
how was it possible to " promulgate " laws that had not yet 
been framed ? However, in order to pacify the contentious 
deputies, he finally yielded to their demands, and two days later, 
on August 28, accorded his " acceptation pure and simple " to the 
decrees of August 4.^ 

The Assembly then proceeded to discuss the embarrassment 
in the finances. But here again the King showed his desire to 
relieve the situation by coming forward to offer all his silver 
plate to the nation, whilst at the same time the Queen sent 60,000 
livres' worth to the Mint. The proposition met with immediate 
remonstrance from the Assembly, but the King persisted in his 

This was the moment chosen by Mirabeau for a tirade against 
" the rich "— " the frightful gulf of bankruptcy must be fiUed," 
he declared to the Assembly. " Well, then, here is the hst of 
French proprietors. Choose amongst the richest so as to sacri- 
fice the fewest citizens. . . . Strike I Immolate without pity 
those wretched victims ; precipitate them into the abyss ; it will 
close again ! . . . You shrink with horror ? Inconsistent men ! 
Pusillanimous men ! " ^ 

The speech was received with " almost convulsive applause " 
by the Assembly. 

Yet how was Mirabeau himself carrying out the principle of 
austere self-sacrifice ? Camille Desmoulins will teU us. On the 
29th of September — exactly three days after Mirabeau's tirade — 
Camille wrote these words : " I have been for a week at Versailles 
with Mirabeau. We have become great friends ; at least he 
calls me his dear friend. At every moment he takes me by the 
hands, he thumps me, then he goes off to the Assembly, resumes 

^ The King is frequently stated to have refused this sanction until 
October 5, but contemporaries of all parties are explicit on this point. 
See Deux Amis, iii. 29 ; MSmoires de Bailly, ii. 379 ; Maraiontel, iv. 238 ; 
Histoire de I'AssemhUe Constituante, by Alexandre de Lameth, i. 142. 

2 Moniteur, i. 496 ; Bailly, ii. 389. On the question of the King's 
" rigid economy " with regard to his personal expenses see the address from 
the National Assembly on January 5, 1790 {Moniteur, iii. 52). 

^ Moniteur, i. 519. M0I6, the actor, who was present on this occasion, 
delighted Mirabeau by telling him he had missed his vocation — he should 
have gone on the stage ! {Souvenirs d'iltienne Dumont, p. 133). 


his dignity as he enters the hall and works wonders, after which 
he comes back to dine with excellent company and sometimes 
with his mistress, and we drink excellent wine. I feel that his 
too delicate fare and overloaded table corrupt me. His claret and 
his maraschino have a virtue that I vainly seek to ignore, and 
1 have all the difficulty in the world in resuming my republican ^ 
austerity and in detesting the aristocrats whose crime is to 
give these excellent dinners. I prepare motions, and Mirabeau 
calls that initiating me into great affairs. It seems to me that 
I ought to think myself happy when I remember my position 
at Guise. . . ." Oh, people, these are your defenders ! 

It is said that only a few weeks before, Mirabeau, looking 
out of the window and seeing a crowd of poor people fighting 
at a baker's shop for bread, uttered the cynical remark, " That 
canaille there well deserves to have us for legislators ! " Like 
Danton he at least was frank, and no one would have been more 
amused than Mirabeau himself at the efforts of his biographers 
to represent him as a lofty ideaUst and lover of the people. 

What was the truth about Mirabeau at this juncture when 
the march on Versailles was being planned in the councils of the 
Orleaniste leaders ? Was he amongst them ? His panegyrists 
have vainly endeavoured to absolve him from complicity, but 
contemporaries, even those who were his friends, are obliged to 
admit that he knew what was to take place even if he did not 
help to prepare the movement. 

" I am inclined to think," says Dumont, " that Mirabeau was 
in the secret of the events of the 5th and 6th of October. . . . 
What I believe is, taking everything into consideration, suppos- 
ing that the insurrection of Versailles was led by the agents of 
the Due d'Orleans, that Laclos was too clever to confide every- 
thing to the indiscretion of Mirabeau, but that he had made sure 
of him conditionally. ... It is impossible not to believe in 
some liaison between them." ^ This from the intime of Mirabeau 
is conclusive. Camille Desmoulins, who at this date " idolized " 
Mirabeau, also gave away his friend later on : " Will any one 
make me beheve that when I stayed at Versailles with Mirabeau 
immediately before the 6th of October ... I saw nothing of 

* The use of the word " republican " by Desmoulins at this date may 
seem to contradict the statement that he was an Orleaniste, but the word 
was frequently used during the earlier stages of the Revolution to signify 
simply " public-spirited " (see, for example, the remark of Mounier to 
Mirabeau on p. 140). On the other hand, Montjoie may be right in saying 
that at this moment Camille Desmoulins had temporarily gone over to 
Lafayette and Republicanism {Conjuration de d'Orleans, ii. 153). This 
would explain the disagreement that seems to have taken place between 
l^esmoulins and Mirabeau at the end of this visit to Versailles. 

2 Souvenirs sur Mirabeau, p. 121. 


the precursory movements of the 5th and 6th ? Will any one 
make me believe that when I went to Mirabeau at the moment 
that he heard the Due d'Orleans had started for London, his 
anger at seeing himself abandoned, his imprecations . . . made 
me conjecture nothing ? " ^ 

The plan of the conspirators was undoubtedly either to 
persuade the mob to march on Versailles and murder the King 
and Queen, or more probably to murder the Queen only and 
bring the King to Paris. Of all this Mirabeau was evidently 
well aware — even if he was not one of the authors of the scheme 
— and it would seem that at moments the dreadful secret preyed 
on his mind. Perhaps amidst the mire of his hfe some hereditary 
traditions of honour, some instincts of chivalry, had survived 
which made him shrink from the brutal crime of which a noble 
and beautiful woman was to be the chief victim, and at these 
moments he was almost tempted to abandon the sordid intrigue 
into which he had been drawn and throw himself into the worthier 
cause of defending his King against the designs of a usurper. 
Yet if he did so, what reception would he meet with from the 
Court ? The King and Queen, he well knew, regarded him with 
aversion. Was it not possible, therefore, that by deserting the 
conspiracy he might simply become the enemy of Orleans and 
gain no favour with the King ? Thus haunted with the horror 
of the thing he wished the King would find out for himself the 
tragedy that was impending. Often at this time Mirabeau, in 
speaking of the Court to his friend La Marck, would ask un- 
controllably, "What are these people thinking of? Do they 
not see the abyss that is opening under their feet ? *' Once in 
a violent outbreak of exasperation he cried out, " All is lost ; 
the King and Queen will perish — you will see it — and the populace 
will batter their corpses." And then, seeing the horror on the 
face of La Marck, he repeated, " Yes, yes, their corpses will be 
battered — you do not understand sufi&ciently the danger of 
their position ; it ought to be made known to them." 

But it had been made known to them, and by Lafayette him- 
self in a letter to the Comte de St. Priest dated September 17. 
On the 23rd, therefore, the King warned the Assembly of 
" the threats of ill-disposed persons to march out of Paris with 
arms," and of the measures he had taken for the protection of 
the deputies. The Assembly, however, was already aware of the 
intention. " I repeat without fear of contradiction," says Mounier, 
'* that every day the ministers received the most alarming infor- 
mation on this subject, and the King's Guards were several times 
obliged to spend the night in readiness to mount their horses." ^ 

1 Fragment de I'Histoire secrHe de la Revolution, 1793. 
* Appel au Tribunal de I'Opinion publique, p. 67. 


If under these circumstances a plan was formed by certain 
Royalists to convey the Royal Family to Metz or to some other 
place of safety, is it altogether surprising ? That any such 
project existed has never yet been proved — the only evidence 
brought forward by the revolutionary writers being the rough 
copy of a letter from the Comte d'Estaing to the Queen ^ which 
fell into the hands of the conspirators — but even if the supposi- 
tion were correct, what perfidy would this imply on the part of 
the Royalists ? Why, if the Hves of the King and Queen were 
daily threatened, should not their loyal supporters attempt to 
rescue them from their assassins ? The scheme involved no 
design on the Hberties of the nation, and the flight of the Royal 
Family to Metz would have been undertaken, Uke the flight to 
Varennes two years later, simply in self-defence. At any rate, 
one undeniable fact remains — the plan was not attempted, the 
King and Queen of their own free will decided to stay at Versailles 
and face the danger. 


The municipality of Versailles, alarmed no less for the safety 
of the town than of the Royal Family, now decided, on the advice 
of the Comte d'Estaing, conMnander of the National Guard of 
Versailles, to request the King to summon another regiment as 
a reinforcement of the bodyguard, the Swiss dragoons and 
milice bourgeoise that at present constituted the garrison, 
and were held to be inadequate " to resist the attack of 2000 
armed men." ^ Accordingly the " Regiment de Flandre " was 
ordered to Versailles and arrived on September 23. Immediately 
the conspirators set to work to corrupt the newly arrived troops, 
and women of the town were sent to distribute money, food, and 
wine amongst the soldiers,^ and to exact from them the promise 
not to defend the King in case of insurrection. " One would not 
have supposed," writes a revolutionary chronicler of the day, 
*' that it is to the vilest class of our prostitutes that we owe the 
happy event that brought the King to Paris and the consolation 
that the day of October the 5th was not more murderous. . . . The 
leaders of the people . . . sent to Versailles ... in bands and 
by different routes three hundred of the prettiest street-walkers 
of the Palais Royal with money, instructions, and the promise 
of being disembowelled by the people if they did not carry out 

^ Deux Amis, iii. loi ; Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, ii. 167. 

* Deux Amis, iii. 112 ; Bailly, ii. 281 ; Rivarol, p. 256. 

* Montjoie, Conjuration ded'OrUans, ii. 172 ; Ferri^res, ii. 273 ; evidence 
of felizabeth Pannier, wife of a restaurant keeper at Versailles, witness xx. 
in Procedure du Chdtelet. 


their mission faithfully. It was these female deputies who, 
amidst the pleasures of love, obtained from the soldiers the 
patriotic oath which rendered their arms powerless before their 
fellow-citizens." ^ 

By the same means which had been employed to seduce the 
Gardes Frangaises before the siege of the Bastille, the men of 
the Regiment de Flandre were now turned from their aUegiance 
to the King, and as a sign of defection adopted the tricolour 

The loyal troops of the King saw all this with growing alarm, 
and resolved to bring the Flemish regiment back to its allegiance. 
Now it was a time-honoured custom for the King's bodyguard 
to entertain at supper any newly arrived regiment ; accordingly 
the officers of the Regiment de Flandre were invited to a banquet 
at which a number of the Swiss Guards, the milice bourgeoise, 
and others were also present. The theatre of the Chateau, lent 
by the King for the occasion, was brilliantly decorated, and lit 
by hundreds of candles ; around a huge horse-shoe table the 
officers of the bodyguard and the officers of the Flemish regiment 
were seated alternately, and the bands of the two regiments 
played throughout the feast. Were the faithful soldiers of the 
King to blame if they took this opportunity to revive the waning 
loyalty of their comrades ? Were they to be reproached with 
treachery to the nation if under their influence the men of the 
Flemish regiment broke out into cries of " Vive le Roi ! " 

When at this juncture the Royal Family entered the hall, 
the Queen leading Madame Royale by the hand, an officer of 
the bodyguard carrying the Dauphin in his arms, enthusiasm 
knew no bounds, and a storm of acclamation burst forth un- 

To the minds of Frenchmen there was something intensely 
tragic in the sudden apparition of the little group over whose 
heads so terrible a storm was gathering, and at the sight of the 
Queen — a beautiful woman, a wife, a mother, whose Ufe they 
knew was daily threatened — all the ancient chivalry of France 
awoke in them, and to a man they resolved to defend her. The 
last touch of pathos was given by the band of the Regiment 
de Flandre with the air from " Richard Coeur de Lion " : 

O ! Richard ! o mon Roi ! Tunivers t'abandonne I 

The selection was painfully apt ; all the world was deserting 
the unhappy King, and with the passionate loyalty of their race 
the gallant bodyguard at this supreme moment mustered around 
him. Men of both regiments sprang on to their chairs, waved 

^ Correspondance secrdte, i. 414. 
* Faits relatifs d la dernUre insurrection, i)y Mounier. 


their glasses aloft, and shouted themselves hoarse with cries of 
** Vive le Roi ! Vive la Reine ! Vive le Dauphin ! " 

The scene was afterwards described by the revolutionaries 
as a " drunken orgy " ; it is possible that both wine and music 
had gone to the heads of the revellers — ^is the fact altogether 
unprecedented in the annals of regimental dinners ? — but the 
fact impUes no criminal intention towards the nation. 

The occasion provided, however, the pretext for which the 
conspirators were waiting, and the story was immediately circu- 
lated in Versailles and carried to the Palais Royal — it is said by 
the Due d' Orleans himself ^ — that the officers of the bodyguard 
had refused to drink the health of the nation and had trampled 
under foot the " national cockade." The accusation, emphatic- 
ally denied by eye-witnesses of the scene, ^ rested on the evidence 
of one man alone, a certain Laurent Lecointre, cloth-seller and 
officer in the milice bourgeoise of Versailles, who was filled with 
rancour against the bodyguard because he had not been invited 
to the banquet,^ and who was therefore not present. 

The exact truth about the " toast of the nation " is impossible 
to discover, but from the evidence of the most reliable witnesses 
it appears that the health of the nation was not drunk because 
the toast was not a customary one, and so was not proposed on 
this or any former occasion.* It was, therefore, not refused. 

As to the incidents of the cockades, the officers of the body- 
guard could not have torn off the national cockades and trampled 
on them, for the simple reason that they had not adopted them 
but were still wearing the white cockade.^ At the same time it 
seems that white cockades were distributed by the ladies of the 
Court to the Regiment de Flandre, and that voices were heard 
to exclaim, " Long live the white cockade, it is the right one ! " 

But when we remember that the tricolour represented the 
colours of the Due d' Orleans, that it had become in reality not the 
" national " but the " revolutionary cockade," and was regarded 
amongst soldiers as the badge of desertion,^ was it unnatural 
that those who desired the King's cause to triumph over the 
designs of a usurper should have attempted to replace it by the 
royal emblem ? If so, as Mounier points out, " Where was the 

* Evidence of De Pelletier and of De Grandmaison in Procedure du 

' MSmoires de Mme. Campan, p. 248 ; speech of the Marquis de Bonnay 
to the Assembly on October i, 1790, in Moniteur for this date ; evidence of 
La Brousse de Belleville, witness xxii. in Procedure du Chdtelet, etc. 

* Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, ii. 173 ; Appel au Tribunal, by 
Mounier, p. iii. 

* Ferrieres, i. 275. 

* Ihid. i. 260 ; Deux Amis, iii. 128 

* Fails relatifs d, la derniere Insurrection, by Mounier, p. 9. 



crime ? What law obliged one at Versailles to wear the cockade 
of Paris ? Why should one not have been allowed to prefer the 
colour that from all time had been that of our flag ? Why, on 
a day that the Royal Family was threatened, should not all 
courageous men have rallied round this sign of fidelity ? " ^ 

A strange incident followed the banquet. A chasseur of the 
Trois fiveches was found by Miomandre, an officer of the Royal 
Turenne, sunk in despair, with his forehead resting on the hilt 
of his sword. When asked what was his trouble he broke out 
into sobs and disjointed sentences in which the following words 
alone were audible : " That fine household of the King ... I am 
a great fool . . . The monsters, what do they demand ? . , . those 
rascals of a commander and D' Orleans ! " Then falling on his 
sword he attempted to take his life. At this moment several 
of his comrades appeared on the scene, and hearing what had 
occurred one of them exclaimed, " He is a good-for-nothing — 
we must get rid of him ! " Thereupon they kicked the wretched 
man to death " as one would crush an insect." ^ 

It will be seen, then, how frightful were the consequences to 
any one who attempted to betray the designs of the conspirators, 
how potent was the Orleaniste " terror " that during the first 
stages of the Revolution held sway over the minds of men and 
sealed the lips of those who would have revealed the truth con- 
cerning the preparations for the insurrection of October 5. 


The story of the Guards' " orgy " had served the purpose of 
rendering this loyal regiment odious to the people, but a further 
obstacle must be removed from their path if the conspirators 
were to succeed in their scheme of bringing the King to Paris. 
" It was necessary," says Mounier, " in order to execute their 
plan, to get rid of the King's guards and of all those who would 
have defended his liberty. They feared the courage of the Queen, 
and so she must be given over to the fury of the people." ^ Louis 
XVI., surrounded by his feeble and purblind ministers, was not 
to be feared ; they had but to assure him that the people wished 
him to go to Paris and to Paris he would go. But the Queen 
would see the plot and offer resistance. " The King," said 
Mirabeau a year later, " has only one man with him — ^that is 
his wife." * 

So by every species of calumny, by the circulation of the 

^ Appel au Tribunal, by Mounier, p. 91. 
2 Deux Amis, iii. 134 ; Ferri^res, i. 279. 
' Appel au Tribunal, p. 65. 
* Correspondance entre Mirabeau et La March, p. 107. 


foulest libels, by every method the " infernal genius" of Laclos 
could devise,^ popular rage was stirred up against the Queen at 
the Palais Royal and in the Faubourgs of Paris. " The Queen 
was at the head of a counter-revolution — the Queen was the sole 
cause of the disorder in the finances — the Queen had said that 
the happiest day of her life would be when she could wash her 
hands in the blood of the French," that she " would not mind 
being shut up in Paris, provided the walls of her prison were 
made of the bones of Frenchmen." ^ But the accusation that 
stirred most deeply the passions of the people was that the Queen 
was responsible for the scarcity of bread. For, in spite of a 
magnificent harvest only six weeks earlier, the supplies of grain 
were again declared to be insufficient, the bakers' shops were 
besieged, working-men waited all day to obtain a 4 lb. loaf and 
returned empty-handed to their starving families. 

Hunger is apt to render one light-headed ; under its dizzying 
spell many things seem possible that with a well-nourished brain 
one would recognize as absurd, and so the half-famished dwellers 
in the Faubourgs readily accepted the assurance that the King, 
the Queen, and the " aristocrats " were at the bottom of the 
trouble. Gouvemeur Morris thus describes an orator haranguing 
the people : " The substance of his discourse was : ' Messieurs, 
we are in want of bread, and this is the reason — ^it is only three 
days since the King has had the suspensive Veto, and already 
the aristocrats have bought suspensions and sent the grain out 
of the kingdom.' To this sensible and profound discourse his 
audience gave a hearty assent. ' Ma foi ! he is right. It is only 
that ! ' Oh, rare ! These are the modem Athenians ! " 

But were these poor people altogether to blame for their 
creduHty ? Many of them could neither read nor write. How 
were they to know that neither Court nor aristocrats had anything 
whatever to do with the circulation of grain at this crisis, since 
the whole question had been placed under the control of the 
" Committee of Subsistences," headed by the popular mayor, 
Bailly, who, helpless as ever before the manoeuvres of the 
Orleanistes, vainly endeavoured to thwart the monopolizers ? ^ 

The truth is that this famine, like the one that had threatened 
earlier in the year, was fictitious ; the want of bread, as con- 
temporaries of all parties agree, did not really exist, but was 
artificially produced in order to inflame the minds of the people 

^ " I know that several of the libels published then (before the 5th of 
October) were paid for by the agents of the Due d'Orl6ans " {Mimoires de 
Malouet, i. 344). Others were undoubtedly paid for by Von der Goltz. 

* hettve d'un FranQais sur les moyens qui ont opiri la Revolution, pp. 11, 
12, and 31. 

* La Conspiration r&volutionnaire de ijSg, by Gustave Bord, p. 211. 


against the Court and Government.^ This point, habitually over- 
looked by historians, gives the key to the whole movement of 
October 5. 

Moreover, that this artificial famine was again the work of the 
Orleaniste conspiracy there can be no doubt whatever, for apart 
from the statements of Montjoie, Rivarol, the Comte d'Hezecques, 
and Mounier, which all exactly agree, we have that of Bailly 
himself, and no one was in a better position than the mayor to 
judge of the real state of affairs, nor was any man less likely to 
defend the Court against the accusation of a plot if any such had 
existed. Who were the authors of the plot Bailly, however, 
indicates very clearly : " The parties who sought to bring about 
an insurrection, well reaUzing that there was no finer opportunity 
than the want of suppUes, made every effort to make an unequal 
^division either by pillaging our convoys without (the city) or 
^ taking them by force from the bakers within, or else by cornering 
the bread so that one should have too much and the other go 
without, or in purposely placing amongst the crowd assembled 
at the bakers' doors strong men who could ill-treat and injure 
the weak so as to make the people complain. When I passed 
in front of one of these shops and saw this crowd, my heart was 
torn, and I can still hardly see a baker's shop without emotion." ^ 
A further method employed by the agitators was to tell the 
people that the flour was bad, and as much of that which was now 
on the markets came from abroad, and differed in colour and 
flavour from the home-grown variety, this story was readily 
beheved, and the people were persuaded to rip up the sacks, 
dispersing the contents. No less than 2000 sackfuls were thrown 
into the Seine.^ These diaboUcal methods had the desired effect 
of denuding the markets and driving the poor of Paris to 

* See, amongst the assertions of innumerable contemporaries, that of 
Mounier, Appel au Tribunal, p. 74 : " At the time of October the 5th, 
means were adopted that had been tried several times before, that oif 
creating a famine and then accusing those who were called aristocrats so 
as to give the impression that abundance was at the disposal of a prince 
without power, and thus to associate the feeling of vengeance with the 
feeling of want." Mounier goes on to point out that Brissot himself was 
obliged to admit that before the insurrection of October 5 " there had 
existed for some days that apparent famine of which we spoke before. 
This famine did not really exist." Brissot then proceeded to accuse " the 
aristocrats," but as Mounier observed : " We will not seek to show how 
absurd it was to accuse of these manoeuvres those who were to be the 
victims of them, whilst it would have been much more correct to conclude 
that since the aristocrats of Versailles were the objects of the people's 
hatred, that hatred was excited by the partisans of the democracy. It 
is at any rate true that M. Brissot admitted the famine was fictitious 
and consequently that a plot existed." 

2 Bailly, ii, 406. ^ Ibid. ii. 359. 


Meanwhile the agitators were hard at work. In the Faubourg 
Saint-Antoine, Santerre and the orator Gonchon, whose red and 
blotchy countenance rivalled in hideosity that of Danton or of 
St. Huruge, stirred up insurrection.^ At the Palais Royal, on 
Sunday, October 4, " Danton roared his denunciations," and 
" Marat made as much noise as the four trumpets on the Day 
of Judgment." It was now that the morrow's march on Versailles 
was publicly announced on the pretext of " the scarcity of bread, 
the desire of avenging the national cockade, and of bringing the 
King to Paris." 2 

By these means the movement, Uke the one that had 
preceded the siege of the Bastille, was made to appear spon- 
taneous — an uncontrollable rising of the people that the 
leaders were powerless to subdue. But at the Due d'Orleans' 
house in Passy ^ the march had already been planned, and the 
elements of which the mob was to be composed arranged by 
the conspirators. 

" If an insurrection were possible," Mirabeau had said, " it 
would only be in the event of women mingUng in the movement 
and taking the lead." * Did the idea of a " hunger march of 
women " originate with Mirabeau ? Or had he merely in one 
of his frequent moments of indiscretion given away the secret 
of his party ? The truth will never be known, yet one thing 
is certain — the plan did not originate with the women, but 
was adopted for an excellent reason by the organizers of the 

Now, the leaders of the revolutionary mobs were never fond 
of facing artillery or troops of whose defection they had not 
previously assured themselves, and at Versailles they weU knew 
that not only the King's faithful bodyguard awaited them, but 
also certain cannons which pointed threateningly at the Avenue 
de Paris, by which the procession must approach the Chateau. 
If, however, a contingent of women could be induced to march 
first and form a screen between them and the troops, the rest of 
the army could safely advance with their artillery.^ The plan 
was well thought out, and the conspirators entertained no doubt 
that the women of Paris could be incited by the pangs of hunger 
to co-operate. Accordingly suppUes were now entirely cut off, 

^ Gonchon received the sum of 30,000 to 40,000 francs for each insurrec- 
tion he succeeded in exciting {Memoirs of the Comtesse de Bohm, p. 196, 
edited by De Lescure). 

2 Appel au Tribunal, by Mounier, p. 123. 

' Histoire de la Revolution de France, by Fantin Desodoards, 1. 340. 

* Crimes de la Revolution, by Prudhomme, iii. 161. 

^ Appel au Tribunal, p. 123 : " Those who directed it (the insurrection) 
had judged it expedient to make it begin with women, so that the soldiers 
would be less likely to use force." 


and when the wet and windy morning of Monday the 5th of 
October dawned, the Faubourgs of Saint-Antoine and Saint- 
Marceau found themselves absolutely without bread. 


This was the signal for the insurrection to begin, and as 
early as six o'clock bands of rioters, led by harridans of ferocious 
aspect, started out to collect recruits. Now, according to the 
history books that enUghtened our youth, the women thus 
assembled and induced to march on Versailles were principally 
fishwives, ragged and dishevelled furies, endowed, Hke their 
counterparts in our own old Billingsgate, with a pecuUar talent 
for invective. Rivarol, however, in a passage which we shall 
find later on confirmed by unquestionable evidence, shatters 
this time-honoured legend. " The women who went from Paris 
to Versailles are always designated by the name of poissardes. 
This is unfortunate for those who sell fish and fruit in the streets 
and markets ; truth compels one to say that, far from joining 
forces with the sham poissardes who came to recruit them, they 
asked at the guard-house at the point of Saint-Eustache for help 
in driving them back." ^ Why, indeed, should the poissardes 
wish to march on Versailles ? In the past the King and Queen 
had no more loyal subjects than the women whom the Old Regime 
courteously designated " the Ladies of the Market." Was it 
not their privilege to present themselves before their Majesties 
and express in prose or verse their congratulations or condolences 
on every event of importance ? Moreover, the gala dress of 
black silk and diamonds they wore on these occasions ^ pro- 
claimed them to be no wretched victims of want and misery, 
such as we have seen depicted riding on the cannons to Versailles, 
but prosperous " citizenesses " who took a truly Parisian pride 
in their appearance. What wonder, then, that the " Ladies of 
the Market " indignantly refused to join the motley crowd 
that had collected on the Place de Greve for the purposes of 
insurrection ? 

Indeed, it was obvious to aU onlookers that this crowd was 
not what it pretended to be — a gathering of hungry women 
driven by desperation to revolt. " The first women who pre- 
sented themselves at the Hotel de ViUe were powdered, coiffees, 
and dressed in white, with an air of gaiety, and gave evidence 
of no evil intentions ; gradually their numbers increased ; some 
rang the tocsin, others laughed, sang, and danced in the court- 

^ MSmoires de Rivarol^ p. 263. 
' Mdmoires de Mme. Campan, p. 167, 


yard," ^ which proves, as Mounier says, " that amongst these 
women a large number were not suffering from want, but were 
only sent to stir up the others." ^ 

Moreover, the aspect of certain of the harridans and so-called 
poissardes who led the movement struck observers as pecuUar, 
for it was noticed that beneath ragged skirts there peeped forth 
trousers, that shaven chins appeared above muslin fichus, and 
that large heavily-shod feet presented an odd contrast to rouged 
and powdered faces. In a word, it became apparent that a 
number of these " hungry women " were not women at all but 
men in women's clothes,^ and it was said that amongst them were 
recognized several of the Orleaniste leaders — Laclos, Chamfort, 
Latouche, Sillery, Bamave, and one of the Lameths * — whilst one 
" monstrously fat " poissarde was declared by the people to be 
the Due d'Aiguillon.^ According to certain contemporaries these 
gentlemen — notably Laclos and Chamfort — were accompanied 
by their mistresses, and Taine adds that their number was swelled 
by a quantity of deserters from the Gardes Frangaises with the 
women of the Palais Royal, to whom they acted as souteneurs, 
and from whom they may have borrowed their disguises.^ 

These, then, were the elements that formed the nucleus of 
the expedition, and it will therefore be understood why the first 
contingent of women presented so gay and prosperous an appear- 
ance. But in order to give a popular air to the rising it was 
necessary to secure the co-operation of as many " women of the 
people " as could be induced to join the procession, accordingly 
shops, workrooms, and private houses were entered, and cooks, 
seamstresses, mothers of famUies were bribed or forced to follow 
— threatened with violence if they refused. A washerwoman 
on the Seine described to the ChevaUer d'Estrees the efforts 
made to enhst working- women in the movement. " What ! " 
the Chevalier had said ironically to this woman on the 5th of 
October, " you are not at Versailles ? " to which the washer- 
woman indignantly replied, " Monsieur le ChevaHer, you are 
mistaken, like every one else, in imagining that it is laundresses 

^ Evidence of M. de Blois, member of the Commune, witness xxxv. 
in the Procidure du Chdtelet. 

2 Appel au Tribunal, p. 124. 

' On the men in women's clothes see Appel au Tribunal, by Mounier, 
p. 124, and the testimony of eye-witnesses vii., ix., x., xxxiii., xxxiv., 
XXXV., XLiv., Lix., xcviii., cx., cxLvi., CLXV., ccxxxvii., cccxvi., and 
many others in the Procedure du Chdtelet. 

* Mimoires concernant Marie Antoinette, by Joseph Weber, ii. 210; 
Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, ii. 245 ; evidence of the Chevalier de 
La Serre, witness ccxxvi. in Procidure du Chdtelet. 

' ^ Evidence of La Serre and St. Martin (officer in the Regiment de 
Flandre), witness xcviii. in Procedure du Chdtelet. 

* Taine, La Revolution, i. 153. 


and other women of the same kind who have gone to Versailles. 
Some one certainly came to my boat and made the proposal to 
myself and my companions, and it was a woman who offered us 
six and twelve francs, but that woman is no more a woman than 
you are ; I recognized her distinctly as a seigneur Uving at the 
Palais Royal or near it, whose valet I wash for." ^ 

But if the honest and industrious women of the people showed 
themselves unwiUing, there lurked nevertheless a terrible element 
of violence in the underworld of Paris that even another century 
of civihzation has never robbed of its ferocity, and that once its 
passions are aroused knows neither reason nor pity. From this 
underworld there now poured forth bands of wastrels and 
degenerates, drink-sodden women clutching broomsticks, above 
aU, street-walkers inflamed with the easily-roused passions of 
their kind, reckless, abandoned, shrieking foul invectives — all 
these assembled on the Place de Greve and proceeded to attack 
the Hotel de Ville. With a hail of stones they drove back the 
mounted guards defending the entrance, and battering down the 
doors swarmed into the building, pillaged the armoury, carried off 
two cannons, eight hundred guns, as well as munitions and silver, 
attempted to hang a luckless priest they discovered in the belfry, 
shouting the while, " The men have no courage, they dare not 
take revenge ! We will act for them ! The representatives of 
the Conmiune are traitors and bad citizens, they deserve death, 
M. Bailly cind Lafayette first of all — they must be hanged to 
the lantern." 

These imprecations again show very clearly the influences 
at work amongst the crowd, for both Bailly and Lafayette 
were the idols of the people, but had rendered themselves odious 
to the agitators — Bailly by his indefatigable efforts to provide 
the capital with bread, and Lafayette by his steady opposition 
to the Orleaniste conspiracy. So once again we see the power 
of the mob turned against the people. 

Meanwhile the men who had carried out the attack on 
the Bastille — known as the volontaires de la Bastille — were sum- 
moned and now arrived on the Place de Greve led by Maillard, 
who seized a drum, beat a roU-call, and invited the women to 
foUow him to Versailles. This heterogeneous army of women, 
of men in women's clothes, and brigands from the Faubourgs, 
armed with pistols, scythes, pikes, and muskets, mustered in the 
Champs filysees, and at one o'clock set forth for Versailles with 
Maillard at their head. As usual, the organizers of the movement 
had been careful to expose themselves to no danger, those who 
joined in the procession prudently sheltering themselves behind 

1 Evidence of St. Firmin, bourgeois de Paris, witness xlv. in Procedure 
du Chdtelei. 


petticoats from the possible fire of the King's troops, whilst 
the men whose eloquence had stirred up popular agitation — 
Danton, Marat, Santerre, Camille DesmouHns, Gonchon — took 
no part in the day's proceedings, but kept away altogether from 
the scene of action.^ The only prominent Orleanistes who 
ventured forth on this occasion without the safeguard of an 
incognito were Maillard, the " Generahssimo of the Brigands," 
and Theroigne de Mericourt, who now appeared on a black horse, 
dressed in a scarlet riding-habit and black hat, and escorted by 
a jockey in the same colours, which were the racing colours of 
the Due d' Orleans. 2 

Again, as at the siege of the Bastille, it was mainly on a few 
obscure ruffians that the conspirators depended for the execution 
of their designs — Desnot, the " cook out of place," who had joined 
in the murder of De Launay and of Foullon, and Mathieu Jourdan, 
alias Jouve, in turn butcher, blacksmith, smuggler, and artist's 
model — " the man with the long beard " of whom eye-witnesses 
speak shudderingly, and who on this famous day was to earn the 
name of " Coupe-Tete." 

So in the wind and rain the ten-mile march to Versailles 
began, and if in this setting out we can detect no element of 
heroism as in the start for the Bastille, there is yet a poignant 
note of pathos to be found amongst the working-women dragged 
from their peaceful labours and forced to embark on the hazard- 
ous enterprise of which they could not dimly understand the 
purpose. Several of these women — poor patient tools of the 
conspirators — afterwards described the methods employed to 
goad them onwards as, shivering in the cold drizzle, they 
started on the weary journey. The imprecations of the sham 
poissardes against the Royal Family increased their disenchant- 
ment. " Yes, yes ! " cried one of the furies, a notorious demi- 
mondaine, armed with a sword, " we are going to Versailles to 
bring back the Queen's head on the point of a sword." But 
the other women silenced her.^ 

Many of the crowd were bribed ; barefooted women drew 
from their pockets six-ecu pieces wrapped in paper, ragged men 
tossed gold and silver coins in the air, and the hope of further 
gain still drove them onwards.^ Others trudged patiently, lured 

1 St. Huruge was still safely lodged in the Chatelet, so his courage could 
not be put to the test. 

2 Evidence of Jeanne Martin, a sick-nurse forced to march " with 
threats of violence," witness lxxxii., and De Villelongue, witness lxxix. in 
Procedure du Chdtelet. 

3 Evidence of Jeanne Martin and of Madeleine Glain, charwoman, 
witness Lxxxiii, in Procedure du Chdtelet. 

* Evidence of witnesses x., lvi., lxxxii., cxcix., cclxxii., and 
cccLXXxvii. in Procedure du Chdtelet. 


by the promise of bread which the good King was to give them, 
and, indeed, amongst the marching multitude food was sorely 
needed. By the time they reached Sevres the pangs of hunger 
had become acute, and the terrified inhabitants having closed 
their shops and barricaded themselves behind doors and windows, 
the women flung themselves upon the restaurants, battered down 
the shutters, and after feasting on all the food and wine that 
lay at hand proceeded to Versailles, which they entered about 
four o'clock in the afternoon, shouting " Vive le Roi ! " tumultu- 
ously as they marched.^ 

Whilst these scenes had been taking place in Paris the calm 
of Versailles continued undisturbed. Every one knows that 
the King went hunting, for no historian has forgotten to mention 
the fact, but few, if any, have remembered to add that he knew 
nothing whatever about the tumult in Paris.^ It was certainly 
known to many deputies of the Assembly, but no one seems to 
have thought it necessary to inform the King, and he was allowed 
to start for Meudon serenely unconscious of the coming danger. 
Moreover, such was the detachment of " the representatives of 
the people " from the troubles of the capital that, whilst the 
revolutionary mob was mustering, they continued tranquilly 
discussing the new criminal code. 

Mirabeau afterwards admitted that he was warned in the 
morning of " the increasing agitation of the people," and " the 
nature of things " told him that Paris was marching on Versailles, 
yet he had spent the afternoon with La Marck studying maps 
of Brabant.^ This confession, intended to prove his non-com- 
plicity with the movement, certainly testified to the amount of 
sympathy he entertained for the people. The King's apparent 
unconcern is therefore less singular than it has been made to 
appear. But though the Assembly had omitted to tell the 
King of the disturbances in Paris, they had not forgotten to 
reiterate their demand for his sanction to the first principles of the 
Constitution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Before 
starting for the hunt Louis XVL sent his reply to this request.^ 

The principles of the Constitution he frankly admitted did 
not " present indiscriminately to his mind the idea of perfection," 
and could only be judged on their completion. " If, however," he 
added, " they will fulfil the wishes of my people and cissure the 
tranquillity of the kingdom, I accord, in conformity to your 
wishes, my consent to these articles, but on the express condition, 

1 Evidence of Maillard, witness lxxxi. in ProcSdure du Chdtelet ; Deux 
Amis, iii. 178. 

2 No messengers were able to reach the King, as they were all stopped 
by the mob of women on the road from Paris {Deux Amis, iii. 177). 

' Moniteur, vi. 31. * Ibid. ii. 8. 


from which I shall never depart, that in accordance with the 
result of your deliberations the executive power shall reside 
wholly with the monarch (ait son entier effet entre les mains du 
monarque)." In other words, the King stipulated that he should 
not he called upon to renounce the power accorded him by the 
Constitution itself.^ 

The Declaration of the Rights of Man he confessed that he 
found difficult to understand — doubtless it contained excellent 
maxims, but could only be " justly appreciated when its real 
meaning had been defined by the laws to which it must serve 
as the basis." 

Louis XVI. was a disciple not of Rousseau but of F^nelon ; 
the tangible needs of the people he could comprehend, but vague 
theorizing on equality and universal happiness simply bewildered 

The King's reply provoked a fresh outburst of fury from the 
revolutionary factions in the Assembly. Robespierre declared 
it to be destructive of the Constitution, " contrary to the rights 
of the nation " ; Petion, taking advantage of the ensuing tumult, 
arose to denounce the banquet of the bodyguard. Cries broke out 
on all sides — " Orgies — threats — the patriotic cockade trampled 
underfoot." ^ Xhe Orleanistes, Sillery, Mirabeau, the Lameths, 
called out in furious tones, ** The nation must have victims ! " ^ 
The Comte de Barbantane, seated in a tribune with Madame 
de Genhs and the two sons of the Due d' Orleans — the Due de 
Chartres and the Due de Montpensier — cried threateningly, " It 
is evident that these gentlemen want more lanterns ; well, they 
shall have them ! " and the voice of the Due de Chartres was heard 
to add, " Yes, yes, messieurs, we must have more lanterns ! " 

At this the Marquis de Raigecourt and the Marquis de Beau- 
hamais rose indignantly exclaiming, " It is abominable that any 
one should dare to express such sentiments here \ " ^ 

Monsieur de Monspey demanded that Petion should sub- 
stantiate his charges against the bodyguard, but Mirabeau 
interposed. " Let the Assembly declare that in France every 
one except the King is inviolable, and I will make the denuncia- 
tion myself ! " and turning to the deputies around him he added 

* Principles of the Constitution, article iii. : " The supreme executive 
power resides exclusively with the King {riside exclusivement dans les 
mains du roi " {Moniteur, i. 390). 

^ Ferri^res, i. 295. 

' Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, ii. 204. 

* This scene is, of course, not recorded in the Moniteur. It was related 
by the Marquis de Digoine du Palais, witness clxviii,, and the Marquis 
de^ Raigecourt, witness cciv., in the ProcSdure du Chdtelet, and confirmed 
by other witnesses present, including Mounier, president of the Assembly, 
in his Appel au Tribunal, p. 233. 


these terrible words : "I will denounce the Queen and the Due 
de Guiche ! " 

Again a voice was heard from the tribune occupied by 
Madame de GenUs and the sons of the Due d'Orleans : " What ! 
the Queen ? " And another voice in the same tribune replied, 
*' The Queen as much as any one else if she is guilty ! " ^ 

Whether Mounier heard these words or not it is evident that, 
hke all other witnesses of the scene, he reaUzed that Mirabeau's 
declaration to the Assembly was directed against the Queen, ^ 
and might prove the signal for her assassination by the occupants 
of the gallery if the denunciation were proceeded with ; accord- 
ingly he closed the discussion. 

Mounier at this crisis had no further doubts as to Mirabeau's 
compUcity with the criminal plot against the Royal Family. 
During the scene that had just taken place Mirabeau had left 
his seat, and going round to the President's chair had whispered 
to Mounier under cover of the tumult : 

" Monsieur le President, 40,000 men are arriving from Paris ; 
hurry the discussion, close the sitting — be taken ill — ^say you 
are going to the King ! " 

" And why. Monsieur ? " 

" Here is a letter, M. le President, announcing the arrival 
of 40,000 men from Paris." ^ 

" All the more reason," answered Mounier, " for the Assembly 
to remain at its post." 

" But, Monsieur le President, you will be kiUed ! " 

*' So much the better," Mounier said with bitter irony, " if 
they kill us all, but all, you understand, without exception ; 
pubUc affairs will go the better {les affaires de la republique 
en iront mieux)." ^ 

" Monsieur le President, the phrase is neat [le mot est joli) ! " 

But whilst this dialogue was taking place the advance guard 
of " women " from Paris had marched down the Avenue de 
Paris that faces the Chateau of Versailles, and were now collected 
at the door of the Assembly clamouring for admittance. Marllard, 

1 Evidence of the Marquis de Digoine du Palais in Procedure du 
Chdtelet ; Ferrieres, i. 299. 

2 Faits relatifs d la derniere Insurrection, by Mounier. 

3 Note that Mirabeau afterwards stated that he only guessed " by the 
nature of things " that Paris was marching on Versailles. See Moniieur. 

* Appel au Tribunal, p. 302. Mirabeau, in recounting this scene 
{Moniieur, vi. 31), described Mounier as saying, " So much the better, we 
shall be ail the sooner a republic ! " This was probably intended to dis- 
credit Mounier in the eyes of the Royahsts, but it is obvious that Mounier, 
who never concealed his allegiance to the monarchy, could not have said 
this, and that he used the word republique in the sense of res-publica 
— the public good — in which it was frequently employed at this period by 
Royalists as well as revolutionaries. 


in a shabby black coat with a naked sword in his hand, at the 
head of twenty women, was permitted to enter, and at once 
began in furious tones to denounce the " monopohzers of grain " : 
" The aristocrats wish to make us die of hunger ; to-day they 
have sent a miller a note of two hundred Uvres telling him not 
to grind." 

" Name them ! Name them ! " cried the Royalists of the 

But before this direct appeal both revolutionary deputies 
and delegates of the people were dumb. At last Maillard, or 
according to other accounts the women, answered, "It is the 
Archbishop of Paris ! " ^ 

At this monstrous calumny even the Assembly rose in- 
dignantly, and with one voice declared, " The Archbishop of 
Paris is incapable of such an atrocity ! " ^ 

Maillard, once more urged by Mounier to substantiate his 
charges, could only murmur with an air of embarrassment 
that " a lady he had met in a carriage on the road to Versailles " 
had assured him of the fact. 

To this, then, were the accusations of the revolutionary leaders 
against the " aristocrats " of monopolizing grain reduced ! 

In order to satisfy the demands of the women, the Assembly 
finally decided to send several of their number as a deputation 
to the King, who had now returned from the hunt. 

Not until several bands of women and brigands (who had 
marched ahead of the revolutionary mob) were actually in 
Versailles had Louis XVI. been informed of the insurrection. 
De Cubieres, an equerry, rode out to Meudon with a note from 
the Comte de St. Priest; the King read it, and turning to his 
gentlemen said, " Messieurs, Monsieur de St. Priest writes that 
the women of Paris are coming to ask me for bread." His eyes 
filled with tears. " Alas ! if I had any I should not wait for 
them to come and ask me for it. Let us go and speak to 

Nothing was further from his mind than the idea of a hostile 
demonstration ; it was to him, the father of his people, these 
" hungry women " had turned in their distress, and his only 
concern was to help them. 

A stranger present, M. de la Deveze, seeing his emotion, 
mistook it for fear. " Sire, I beg your Majesty not to be 

" Afraid, Monsieur ? " the King answered proudly. " I have 
never been afraid in my life ! " and mounting his horse he rode 
off to the Chateau at a gallop. The Comte de Luxembourg 

^ De Juign6, to whose benevolence I have already referred. 
2 Deux Amis, iii. 183. 


was waiting for him and asked for orders to be given to the 

" Orders ? " said the King with a laugh. " Orders of war 
against women ? You must be joking, Monsieur de Luxem- 
bourg ! " 

The ruse of the Orl6anistes had succeeded, and by the advance 
guard of so-called women the King's defenders were disarmed. 

From the windows of the Chambre de Conseil Louis XVI. 
looked out on the armed mob advancing through the wind and 
rain along the Avenue de Paris towards the Chateau ; before 
long the Place des Armes had become a sea of pikes and muskets. 
Amidst this raging multitude Mounier, at the head of his deputa- 
tion, was advancing on foot through the mud, and during the 
quarter of an hour of waiting for admittance at the grille of the 
Chateau was obHged to endure the insults of the mob, who cried 
out that " the deputies of the Assembly with their i8 francs a 
day enjoyed good cheer, whilst they allowed the poor to die of 
hunger " ; that " when they had only one King they had bread, 
but since they had 1200 they perished in misery." ^ 

The deputation, consisting of six deputies with six women 
clinging to their arms, was increased by six more women before 
their admission to the Salle de Conseil. Louis XVI. received 
them with his customary benevolence. 

" Sire," said Louison Chabry, a pretty flower-seller of seven- 
teen from the Palais Royal, " we want bread." 

" You know my heart," answered the King ; " I will order all 
the bread in Versailles to be collected and given to you." 

Whereat Louison, overcome by the King's goodness, fell 
fainting to the ground. SmelUng salts were brought ; Louison 
revived and begged to be allowed to kiss the King's hand. 

" She deserves better than that ! " said Louis XVL, embracing 

Louison departed with the other women, enchanted by their 
visit, crying out, " Long Uve the King ! Long Uve our good 
King ! Now we shall have bread ! " 

But one of their number still displayed resentment. The 
ChevaUer de la Serre attempted to reason with her, pointing 

^ These words, uttered by the people themselves and heard by a member 
of the deputation, Alexandre de Lameth (see his Histoire de I'Assemblie 
Constituante, i. 150), were afterwards attributed by Mirabeau to St. Priest 
in the Assembly {Moniieur, ii. 36), evidently as a revenge on St. Priest for 
having explained to the women that the Commune of Paris and not the 
King was responsible for the provisioning of the capital (see St, Priest's 
letter to the National Assembly in Mimoires de Bailly, iii. 422). But if, 
as several contemporaries state, Mirabeau himself was amongst the crowd 
outside the grille of the Chateau when these words were uttered, it is evident 
where he really heard them. 



out that they had to do with a good King, a good father, that 
their condition greatly distressed him ; but the woman repHed, 
" Our father is the Due d' Orleans ! " 

Her companions interrupted her by repeating, " Vive le 
Roi ! " 

" Non, f . . . .," she retorted, " it is ' Vive le Due d'Orl^ans ! ' " ^ 

It is evident, therefore, that certain of the women had been 
primed by the Orleanistes, but the greater proportion were, as 
Ferri^res says, ** acting in all good faith : they did not know 
the plans of the conspirators. Dragged by force to Versailles, 
hearing it incessantly repeated that the people were dying of 
hunger, and that the only way to stop the famine was by appeal- 
ing to the King and the National Assembly, they thought they 
had achieved the object of their journey by obtaining a decree 
of the Assembly and getting it sanctioned by the King." ^ 
What, then, was their dismay when they returned triumphantly 
to the waiting multitude with the King's promise to find them- 
selves received by howls of execration : " They are cheats, they 
have been given money ! They have received no written order, 
they must be hanged ! " A fury in the crowd, tearing off her 
garter, dragged one of the women towards a lamp-post, and 
would have hanged her there had not an officer of the body- 
guard rushed to her rescue and brought her with the rest of the 
deputation into safety, inside the Cour Royale. These women 
then begged to be allowed to return to the King and ask for his 
order in writing, and the request having been granted they 
reappeared once more waving the royal signature aloft. Their 
accounts of the King's goodness had the effect of temporarily 
calming the excitement of the crowd ; cries of *' Vive le Roi ! " 
went up on all sides ; for the moment the King's defenders thought 
the situation saved. 

The women who had formed the deputation, now realizing 
that they had been the dupes of the conspirators, insisted on 
returning to Paris in order to tell the Commune of their reception 
at Versailles, and Louis XVI., informed of their intention, ordered 
royal carriages to be provided for the journey. Lest, however, 
too glowing an account of the King's benevolence should be 
conveyed to Paris, Maillard was deputed by the leaders of the 
insurrection to accompany the women and counteract their 

In all probability, if the tumult had been, as it is habitually 
represented, the spontaneous rising of a hungry multitude 
driven by want to beg the King for bread, the matter would 

^' Evidence of the Chevalier de la Serre, witness ccxxvi. in Procidure 
du Chdtelet. 

' Ferrieres, i. 308. 


•have ended there, and the people having accomplished their 
purpose would have returned peacefully to their homes. But 
the conspirators had determined otherwise. 

Immediately on the arrival of the armed mob every effort 
had been made to provoke a quarrel with the bodyguard, but 
these gallant men, true to their orders not to use force against 
the people, endured insults and threats without replying. When 
at last a man of the Paris miUtia attempted, sword in hand, to 
break through the regiment, the Marquis de Savonnieres, followed 
by three other officers, pursued the insurgent and struck him 
with the fiat of his sword, but a shot fired by Charpentier of the 
Versailles militia broke the arm of Savonnieres and inflicted 
injuries from which he died some weeks later. 

This affray provided the signal for battle ; on all sides the 
cry went up that the Guards were charging the people ; the 
militia hastily advanced their cannons in the Avenue de Paris 
towards the grille of the Chateau, and the mob, closing around 
the bodyguard, attacked them with pikes and stones and fired 
into their ranks, fortunately with so Uttle certainty of aim that 
the men escaped with slight injuries. Still the bodyguard 
refrained from retaliation, and Lecointre — he who had denounced 
their " orgy " four days earlier — seeing this, and fearing that no 
pretext would be provided for further violence, rushed forward 
and overwhelmed them with reproaches.^ It was at this crisis 
that the King, informed of the cries of " Vive le Roi ! " and the 
momentary cessation of hostiUties produced by the deputation 
of women, and concluding that peace was now restored, sent his 
fatal message to the bodyguard to retire. The miUtia of Ver- 
sailles, taking advantage of the movement, immediately opened 
a volley of musketry fire on the retreating troops, whilst brigands 
armed with guns and pikes pursued them with shots and blows. 
It was said afterwards by the Orl6anistes that the bodyguard 
now returned the fire of the insurgents and treated the people 
with harshness, thrusting them aside with their sabres, but of 
these acts only two eye-witnesses could be produced, the 
Orleaniste, De Liancourt,^ and again Lecointre,^ the inveterate 
enemy of the bodyguard who was brought forward at every turn 
by the conspirators to prove their charges against the King's 
defenders. On the other hand, rehable contemporaries speak 
only of the patience and forbearance of these gallant men who, 
in obedience to orders, refrained from using the weapons at their 

^ Appel au Tribunal, by Mounier, p. 145. Evidence of La Brosse de 
Belville, witness xxii. in Procedure du Chdtelet. Miomandre de Sainte 
Marie, garde du corps, witness xviii., also stated that it was Lecointre 
who stirred up the crowd against the bodyguard. 

2 Appel au Tribunal, by Mounier, p. 155. " Ibid. p. 148. 


command.^ So once again the arm of law and order was 
paralysed, and the people who should have been protected were 
left to become the victims of the conspirators. 

Whilst these scenes were taking place in the Place d'Armes, 
Mounier, imagining that reforms in the government would satisfy 
the multitude who were calling out for bread, continued to im- 
portune the King for his sanction to the principles of the Con- 
stitution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Louis XVI., 
whose sound common sense showed him the absurdity of accord- 
ing the royal sanction to philosophical axioms, repeated his 
opinion that at this stage his acceptance would be premature, 
but, on the assurance of Mounier that nothing else would allay 
the tumult, finally appended his signature to the words : "I 
accept purely and simply the articles of the Constitution and 
the Declaration of the Rights of Man." Then, confident that 
he had done all that lay within his power to restore public tran- 
quillity, he awaited events with calmness. In response to the 
entreaties of the Comte d'Estaing that measures should be taken 
for the defence of the Chateau, he wrote at seven o'clock on this 
terrible evening, after the departure of Mounier and his fellow- 
deputies, these astounding words : 

*' You wish, my cousin, that I should express my opinion on 
the critical circumstances in which I find myself, and that I 
should take a violent course, that I should make use of legitimate 
means of defence, or that I should leave Versailles. Whatever 
may be the audacity of my enemies they will not succeed ; the 
Frenchman is incapable of regicide. ... I dare to believe that this 
danger is not as urgent as my friends are persuaded. Flight 
would be my total undoing and civil war the disastrous result. 
. . . Let us act with prudence. ... If I succumb at least I shall have 
no cause to reproach myself. I have just seen several members 
of the Assembly and I am satisfied. . . . God grant that public 
tranquillity may be restored — ^but no aggression, no action that 
could let it be beUeved that I think of avenging or even of 
defending myself." 

Meanwhile Mounier, returning triumphantly to the Assembly 
with the royal sanction, found the wildest scene of confusion 
taking place. A mob of women,^ of brigands, and of men in 

1 Appel au Tribunal, p. 148. Alexis Chauchard, captain of infantry, 
witness ci. in Procidure du Chdtelet, stated that " the King's guards behaved 
in this affair with the greatest circumspection ; that he saw the people 
throw mud and stones at them and vomit imprecations against them 
without their making any attempt to repulse this attack." 

2 It should be noted that eye-witnesses, unlike historians, do not 
describe the women who created this uproar in the Assembly as pois- 
sairdes but as " light women," some even of a class too superior to be 
regarded as " kept women " (see evidence of the Vicomte de Mirabeau, 



women's clothes, had invaded the hall and taken possession of 
the seats of the deputies, where they regaled themselves with 
ham sandwiches, pies, and wine brought in from a neighbouring 
restaurant. The brigands, ragged and of ferocious aspect, 
adopted a threatening attitude, but th& filles dejoie were enjoying 
themselves immensely. It was a situation that appealed irre- 
sistibly to their mocking humour ; true gamines of Paris, they 
found it exquisitely funny to chafl[ these solemn legislators and 
dance on the platform of the President, to overwhelm the un- 
happy bishop of Langres — occupjdng the President's chair in the 
absence of Mounier — with obscene pleasantries. " Now you 
must kiss us, calotin ! " And the bishop, amidst screams of 
laughter, was obliged, sighing deeply, to submit to their vinous 

Mounier, arriving in the midst of this pandemonium with 
his precious document, fondly imagined that the announcement 
of the " royal sanction " would act as oil upon the troubled 
waters, and profiting by a lull in the tumult read the King's 
message aloud. But to the women of Paris, as to the King 
himself, these vague formulas conveyed but httle meaning, and 
Moimier's announcement was greeted by the himgry elements 
amongst them with the cry, " Will that give bread to the poor 
people of Paris ? " 

The President, realizing the impossibility of continuing the 
debate — ^most of the deputies indeed had already left the hall — 
broke up the Assembly. But the women had no intention of 
being done out of their evening's entertainment, and imperiously 
demanded the return of the deputies. The President's bell was 
rung, members were fetched from their beds, the Assembly re- 
sumed its sitting. Once again the message containing the royal 
sanction was read aloud, only to be met with the same cry of 
" Bread ! Give us bread ! " 

Nothing is more amazing in the history of the Revolution 
than the total inabiUty of the " representatives of the people " 
to understand the people's mind. The King, appealed to by the 
hungry women, could readily enter into their sufferings, but the 
Assembly, in response to their cries for bread, offered them — 
the foundation-stone of the Constitution. For at this supreme 
moment these so-caUed democrats, actually surrounded by the 

witness cxlvi. in Procedure du Chdtelet), whilst nearly all state that a great 
many men disguised as women were seen amongst them. No doubt there 
were a certain number of " women of the people " who had been forced to 
march to Versailles amongst those calling out for bread, but the " indecent 
scenes " described were evidently produced by the Orleaniste conspirators 
and the women they had brought with them. It was mainly the leaders of 
the expedition who crowded into the Assembly ; most of the poor creatures 
from the Faubourgs were left outside in the rain. 


clamouring multitude, calmly resumed their discussion on the 
criminal code. 

It is hardly surprising that at this the indignation of the 
women broke out afresh, and the Assembly was peremptorily 
ordered to discuss the question of food-supply. The voice of a 
deputy addressing the House was drowned by shouts of " Bread ! 
bread ! not so many long speeches ! " and " Shut up that babbler. 
It doesn't matter about all that — it is bread that matters ! " 
Some of the women clamoured for Mirabeau, whose grotesque 
appearance amused them : " Where is our Comte de Mirabeau 
— our Uttle mother Mirabeau ? " A man in the tribune next 
to the President exclaimed loudly that the deputies should 
concern themselves with the people. 

At this Mirabeau, who had no intention of allowing the 
canaille to command, arose and thundered, " I should Uke to 
know by what right any one should dictate to us the course of 
our debates ? Let the tribunes remember the respect they owe 
to the National Assembly I " 

The women, enchanted at this display of authority, noisily 
clapped their hands and cried " Bravo ! " 

Whilst this tumult raged in the Assembly scenes far more 
terrible were taking place outside on the Place d'Armes, The 
wild autumn day had faded into a wet and cheerless night, and 
the immense multitude, unable to find shelter, gathered round 
huge fires they had Ut at intervals about the square, and at one 
of which a horse of the bodyguard, massacred in the fray, was 
being cooked and eaten. On such a scene of misery and squalor 
did the great Chateau of the Roi Soleil look down that dreadful 
evening I The women, wet to the skin, caked with mud after 
the long march from Paris, wandered round the courtyards 
sobbing pitifully, crying out that " they had been forced to march 
and did not know what they had come for " ; ^ others, savage with 
hunger and fatigue, danced round the bonfires shrieking furious 
imprecations against the Queen, Lafayette, Mounier, the Abb6 
Maury, the Archbishop of Paris. " Marie Antoinette has danced 
for her pleasure, now she shall dance for ours ! " " Yes, let the 
jade skip, we will throw her head from the windows ! We will 
have the drunkard for our king no longer, it is the Due d' Orleans 
that we must have for king ! " 

Thus the furies of the under-world, revolting enough in truth, 
but surely less revolting than the Due d' Orleans, skulking through 
the crowd in the Avenue de Paris, " endeavouring to escape 
detection but unable to flee from his conscience," ^ less revolting 

* .Mimoires de Madame de la Tour du Pin, i, "222, 
' Ferri^res, i. 313 ; evidence of De Boisse of the King's bodyguard, 
witness ccxiv. in Procedure du Chdtelet. 


far than the petticoated roues of the Palais Royal, stirring up 
a poor and hungry populace to commit crimes they dared not 
undertake themselves. It was said by many witnesses, and never 
disproved by any conclusive alibi, that all through that fearful 
night, and again the following morning, the members of the con- 
spiracy were at work distributing money and inciting the people 
to violence ; that Mirabeau, brandishing a naked sword, was seen 
in the ranks of the Regiment de Flandre exhorting them to de- 
fection ; ^ that Theroigne in her scarlet habit went from group 
to group giving the names of deputies to be massacred, and dis- 
tributing money done up in paper packets ; ^ that fine gentlemen 
in embroidered waistcoats " slipped coins concealed in cockades 
into the hands of the women " ; ^ that Laclos, Sillery, Bamave, 
the Due d'Aiguillon, dressed as women, were again recognized 
mingUng with the crowd, fanning up the flame of popular fury 
in preparation for the massacres of the morrow.* 

Suddenly at midnight, when the frenzy of the populace had 
reached its height, the roll of drums and the red glare of torches 
announced the arrival of Lafayette at the head of the Gardes 
Frangaises in the Avenue de Paris. 

How did Lafayette come to be leading this second army 
of insurgents to Versailles ? The fact has provided Orleaniste 
writers with the pretext for shifting the blame of the insurrection 
on to their opponent, and it was precisely in order to be able to 
do this that they had contrived to impUcate Lafayette in the 
movement. As a matter of fact Lafayette had held out for 
hours against the entreaties of his men, who, prompted by the 

^ Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, iii. 90 ; Weber, ii. 207 ; Fantin 
Desodoards, i. 213 ; ProcSdure du Chdtelet, witnesses xxxvi., clvii., clxi., 
ccxxvi. ; Ferri^res, i. 307, 

2 ProcSdure du Chdtelet, witnesses xci. and clvi, 

' Evidence of an eye-witness, Anne Marguerite Andelle, ccxxxvi. in 
ProcSdure du Chdtelet, a linen-worker dragged by force to Versailles. On the 
money distributed amongst the soldiers of the Regiment de Flandre and 
amongst the people see also witnesses xlix., lvi., lxxi., lxxxii., ex. and 

* " All the roues of the Palais Royal, the accomplices, or rather the 
instigators of the Due d'Orleans, Laclos, Sillery, Latouche, d'Aiguillon, 
d'Oraison, Mirabeau, and several other minor personages, were on foot all 
night in the midst of this rabble, whom they intoxicated in every manner. 
Public evidence subsequently showed some of them as having adopted the 
most ignoble disguises so as not to be recognized" (Weber, ii. 210). See 
also Montjoie, Conjuration de d'Orleans, ii, 245, and evidence of the Chevalier 
de Lasserre, witness ccxxvi. in ProcSdure du Chdtelet. Jean Diot, cure and 
deputy of the National Assembly, witness ex., described a conversation he 
heard during this night in which a man dressed as a woman, " tall and of 
great corpulence," offered two of the people fifty louis on behalf of the Due 
d'Orleans to murder the Queen on the following morning. 


Orleanistes, insisted on his leading them to Versailles. At the 
Hotel de Ville that morning, whilst Lafayette was occupied in 
sending off despatches to warn Versailles of the approaching 
invasion, six grenadiers had entered and accosted him with 
these words : " General, we are deputed by six companies of 
grenadiers: we do not think you are a traitor, but we think 
that the Government is betraying us. It is time all this 
ended. . . . The people are wretched ; the source of the evil is 
at Versailles ; we must go to fetch the King and bring him to 
Paris ; we must exterminate the Regiment de Flandre and the 
bodyguard who dare to trample on the national cockade. If 
the King is too weak to wear his crown, let him renounce it. 
We will crown his son, a council of regency will be nominated, 
and all will go well." 

As this was precisely the plan of the Orleaniste conspiracy 
Lafayette immediately reahzed that the men were merely 
repeating their lesson, and, recognizing the trap laid for him, he 
attempted to dissuade them from marching on Versailles. 

" What ! " he said, " you mean then to make war on the 
King and force him to abandon us ? " The use of the final 
pronoun is significant; even the RepubHcan Lafayette was 
obhged in his more honest moments to admit that Louis XVI. 
was on the side of the people, and the soldiers, thus appealed to, 
momentarily forgot their lesson and readily concurred : 

" General, indeed we should be very sorry, for we love him 
well, but if he left us we have Monsieur le Dauphin." 

In vain Lafayette continued to remonstrate ; the men once 
more took up the refrain : " The source of the evil is at Versailles ; 
we must go and fetch the King and bring him to Paris ; all the 
people wish it." Finally Lafayette went out on to the Place 
de Greve and, with Bailly, attempted to address the crowd 
collected there. But the people, he had begun to discover, were 
easier to rouse than to pacify, and the spirit of insubordination 
he had openly encouraged at the beginning of the Revolution 
was now turning against himself. In vain he strove to make 
himself heard; an angry uproar arose; one voice was heard 
above the others crying, "It is strange that M. de Lafayette 
should wish to command the people when it is for the people to 
command him ! " 

Then Lafayette, reluctantly mounting his white charger, 
placed himself at the head of the troops, whose numbers were now 
being rapidly increased by the lowest rabble of the Faubourgs, 
which, armed with pikes and pitchforks, with cutlasses and 
hatchets, poured into the Place de Greve crying out, " Bread 1 
bread ! To Versailles ! " 

At the sight of this terrible army Lafayette once again 


hesitated, and, seeing this, the crowd broke into fury; howls of 
rage, threats of death rose from a thousand throats ; for the first 
time Lafayette, idol of the people, heard the voice of the people 
raised against himself. At that he grew first red, then pale, made 
a movement as if he would dismount, but a dozen hands gripped 
his bridle : " No, General, you shall not escape us ! " While 
he temporized a message from the Commune was sUpped into his 
hand ordering him to march. Lafayette glanced at the paper, 
grew paler still, then gathered up his reins, and with a set counten- 
ance gave the word of command to march. " He rode at the 
head of his troops," says Montjoie, " like a criminal led to 
execution " ; and that in all probabihty he was going to his death 
Lafayette well knew, but, bitterer thought still, this was to be 
death with dishonour ! 

So it came to pass that at midnight, after an eight hours' 
march, Lafayette entered Versailles. Calling a halt at the turn- 
ing of the road leading to the National Assembly he demanded 
of his army to take the oath of fidehty to the nation, the law, 
and the King ; then entering the Assembly filled with the drunken 
crowd he made his way through the turmoil to the President's 
chair and assured Mounier that he could answer for the loyalty 
of his troops. 

Although so exhausted that he was hardly able to drag himself 
up the staircase, Lafayette afterwards presented himself at the 
Chateau and administered the same soothing assurances. " I 
was without apprehension," he wrote later; "the people had 
promised me to remain quiet." 

But the Queen, who had no confidence in the benevolence of 
revolutionary mobs or in generals who marched at their heads, 
received Lafayette coldly. She reaHzed, as he with his fooHsh 
optimism could not, the frightful danger that confronted them 
that night. " I know," she said, " that they have come to 
demand my head, but I learnt from my mother not to fear death, 
and I can await it with calmness." 

All around her in the Chateau terror and confusion prevailed ; 
women ran hither and thither, peeping forth fearfully from the 
windows at the dull glare beyond the railings, where by fire and 
torchhght that raging sea of humanity tossed tumultuously, 
listening with beating hearts to the hoarse murmurs, broken now 
and again with savage howls and fiendish laughter ; others, 
helpless and distracted, paced the great Galerie des Glaces, the 
scene of so much splendour, and in all minds one question arose 
— ^was this night to be their last ? 

Amidst these scenes Marie Antoinette alone was calm, and 
with undisturbed serenity continued to rouse the fainting spirits 
of those around her. When a number of her gentlemen came to 


her door to beg for permission to order out the horses from the 
royal stables and mount them in defence of the Royal Family, 
the Queen returned only this reply : "I consent to give you the 
order for which you wish on the condition that if the Ufe of the 
King is in danger you should make immediate use of it, but if I 
alone am imperilled you will not use it." 

Her women, realizing that she was the chief victim designated 
by the conspirators, threw themselves at her feet and begged her 
to escape. " No," she answered, " never, never will I abandon 
the King or my children ; whatever fate awaits them, I will 
share it." 

Then dismissing her attendants she remained alone, waiting 
for death. At this moment a note was brought to her ; she 
opened it, and read these terrible words : "I warn her Majesty 
that she will be murdered to-morrow morning at six o'clock." 
She knew then that she had still six hours of Ufe, and, placing the 
note in her pocket, quietly announced her intention of retiring 
to bed. In vain her gentlemen begged to be allowed to remain 
and protect her. " No, Messieurs," she answered without a trace 
of emotion, " take your leave, I beg you ; to-morrow will prove 
to you that you had need of rest to-night." 

With these words she left them and slept an untroubled sleep 
until the frightful dawn of the morrow. 


Lafayette, according to current report at this crisis, retired 
and slept also. " II dormit contre son roi," wrote Rivarol 
bitterly. But did he really sleep ? The truth will probably 
never be known. Montjoie says no ; Lafayette himself said 
that, worn out with fatigue, he went to the Hdtel de Noailles and 
was about to snatch a few hours of slumber when the tumult 
of the morrow recalled him to the Chateau. But if he did sleep 
the fact must surely be attributed not to treachery but un- 
controllable physical exhaustion, combined with the conviction 
that the Gardes Fran9aises were completely under his control 
and that further disturbance was impossible. 

But the bodyguard, more aUve to the danger, had refused 
on the assurances of Lafayette to leave the Chateau unpro- 
tected, and remained therefore throughout the night as sentries 
before the doors of the Royal Family. For greater safety the 
Queen's waiting-women, Madame Thibault and Madame Augue, 
seated themselves against the doors of her bedchamber, and by 
this devotion saved her life. 

' For nearly three hours all was cahn : the Queen slept in her 
great bedroom looking out on to the quiet Orangerie ; the King 


slept in his facing the courtyards and the now deserted Place 
d'Armes ; the crowd slept Ukewise, anywhere and everywhere — 
in sheds and stables, on the floors of outhouses and kitchens ; 
eight or nine hundred spent the night on the benches of the 

But all night Luillier of the bodyguard, commander of the 
Scotch company, kept his watch, wandering around the Chateau 
and assuring himself that if the tumult began again the great 
gilded barriers would avail to keep out the raging populace. 
Then towards dawn an unseen hand unlocked a gate in the 
railing, and immediately a band of women and armed men 
streamed through to the courtyards and the garden that lay 
beneath the Queen's windows on the other side of the Chateau. 

LuiUier in consternation sought the Marquis d'Aguesseau, 
major of the bodyguard, and, encountering him at the foot of 
the great marble staircase leading to the Queen's apartments, 
said, " Monsieur, the King and Royal Family are lost if the 
brigands now passing through the courtyards to the terrace 
penetrate into the Chateau. I implore you to give positive 

" Place two sentinels at each of the gates," answered 
D'Aguesseau ; and turning to the bodyguard he said, " Messieurs, 
the King orders and begs you not to fire, to hit no one — in a 
word, not to defend yourselves." 

" Monsieur," said LuiUier, " assure our unhappy master that 
his orders will be carried out, but we shall all be assassinated." 

For sublime devotion to duty, for heroic obedience to insane 
commands, the conduct of the King's bodyguard on this 6th of 
October can show no parallel in history except, perhaps, in the 
charge of Balaclava. Of all historians Montjoie alone has paid 
these gallant men their due, and it is from his pages that we must 
borrow the glorious story of their stand against odds so terrible 
and overwhelming. Do not their very names bring with them 
a breath of chivalry ? Gueroult de Berville, Gueroult de Valmet, 
Miomandre de Sainte Marie, De Charmand, and De Varicourt — 
we seem to be reading in some gold-emblazoned scroll that tells 
of knightly deeds done by followers of Saint Louis around the 
walls of Antioch. It has been said that the Old Order was 
effete, and this might well be so if it were judged by the faithless 
courtiers who at the first hint of danger deserted King and 
country ; but amongst these soldiers of the King there was yet 
stem stuff that, had it been allowed full play, must have saved 
the monarchy. For the last time we see them, these warriors 
of old France, rall3dng in a final expiring effort around the 
tottering throne. Henceforth the King must look elsewhere for 
his defenders — Swiss Guards will bleed and die for him, super- 


annuated gentlemen will draw ineffectual swords in his service, 
women will throw their fragile bodies between the King and 
his assassins, but the heroic bodyguard will appear no more on 
the scene — the long romance of French chivalry is ended. 

It was a quarter to six in the grey dawn of the autumn 
morning when the raging mob burst through the side gate into 
the Cour Royale. The sentinels of the Paris mihtia, vouched 
for by Lafayette, offered no resistance, and seeing this the 
brigands, who at first had trembled at finding themselves within 
the royal precincts, reahzed that they incurred no danger, and 
" flung themselves Hke tigers on all the members of the body- 
guard that they encountered." ^ The brave Deshuttes fell 
pierced with a hundred wounds ; his body was dragged into the 
Cour des Ministres, where Jourdan " Coupe-Tete " cut off his 
head, and in a sudden access of homicidal fury smeared his face, 
his arms, his long and ragged beard with the blood of his victim. 
And at this horrible spectacle the mob went mad likewise and, 
bespattering themselves in the same manner, danced around the 
mutilated corpse. Then the cry went up, " We must have 
the heart of the Queen ! " But already a large portion of the 
mob had poured through the archway by the Chapel and the 
Cour des Princes and burst into the Chateau. 

The scene that followed was horrible ; even at this distance 
of time one's heart stands still as one reads the descriptions 
of contemporaries who, with awful reahsm, bring before one's 
eyes the mad rush of the crowd up the great marble staircase 
of the Roi Soleil towards the Queen's apartments ; we can see, 
hear, even smell them, those tattered brigands of the Faubourgs, 
those dishevelled harridans and blaspheming women of the town, 
mud-stained and haggard with fatigue after the long march from 
Paris and the few brief hours of sleep snatched on floors and 
benches, and all mad for blood, all clutching cruel weapons of 
their own devising — knives tied to broomsticks, scythes and 
pikes and billhooks — and howhng as they tear upwards like a 
pack of wild beasts rushing on their prey. '* Where is that/. . . . 
coquine ? We will cut off her head ; we wiU tear out her heart ; 
we will make cockades of her entrails, and it will not end there ! " 
And amidst these hideous imprecations again the same refrain : 
" Long Hve Orleans ! Long hve our father, our king Orleans \" 

Was the Due d' Orleans himself amongst the cannibal horde 
on the marble staircase ? Did his hand point the way to the 
door of the Queen's apartments ? Many contemporaries beheved 
it, but to this point we shall return later and leave it to the 

* Evidence of M, de Sainte-Aulaire, lieutenant-commander in tlie body- 
guard, witness clviii. in Procedure du Chdtelet. 


reader to form his own opinion of the evidence brought forward. 
One thing is certain, the crowd never paused, never hesitated for 
a moment, as people unfamihar with the interior of the Chateau 
might be expected to do, but made straight for the hall of the 
Queen's bodyguard " as if led by some one who knew the way." ^ 

There on the threshold twelve of the guards were waiting 
to receive them. Miomandre de Sainte-Marie stepped boldly 
forward and attempted to check the wild onrush of the mob by 
one despairing appeal to their vanished loyalty : 

" My friends, you love your King, yet you come to disquiet 
him in his very palace ! " 

For answer the crowd rushed upon Miomandre and nearly 
felled him to the ground, and the guards, forbidden to defend 
themselves, were driven back into the hall where, with a quick 
movement, they succeeded in closing the doors in the face of 
their assailants. Only three rooms now between the Queen 
and her assassins — ^four folding doors to be beaten down before 
the savage horde could close around her bed and thrust their 
terrible weapons into her heart ! The guards, to gain time, 
barricaded the doors of their hall, but the fragile panels quickly 
yielded to the blows of pikes and muskets ; the crowd rushed 
forward into the haU. Already De Varicourt was killed and his 
head gone to join Deshuttes' on a pike outside in the courtyard. 
The guards were driven back step by step over the parquet into 
the Grande Salle ; Du Repaire was left alone to guard the door 
of the Queen's bodyguard. The next moment Du Repaire was 
overthrown and dragged to the head of the staircase ; a man 
with a pike and another in woman's clothes ^ seized him — 
Miomandre rushed to the rescue and saved the hfe of Du Repaire 
who, wresting a pike from his assailants, continued to defend 
himself. Then Miomandre, his face streaming with blood, 
reaUzing that nothing now could keep back the raging mob, 
dashed to the door of the Queen's antechamber, opened it, and 
cried out to Madame Augue, one of the Queen's women, " Madame, 
save the Queen, they have come to kill her ! I am here alone 
against two thousand tigers ; my comrades have been forced 
to leave their hall ! " 

There was nothing for it but to leave the brave Miomandre 
to his fate. Madame Augue quickly shut the door, pushed in 
the great bolt, and flew to the Queen's bedside : " Madame, get 
out of bed ! Do not dress ; escape to the King ! " 

The Queen sprang out of bed; her ladies threw a mantle 

* Mimoires de Madame de la Tour du Pin, i, 227. 

* " At the moment that he was thrown down he saw a coloured trouser 
beneath the skirt of one of those who attacked him" (evidence of Du 
Repaire, witness ix. in Procddure du Chdtelet). 


around her shoulders, a petticoat over her head, and hurried 
her through a side door leading to the (Eil de Boeuf by a narrow 
passage. At the end of this the door, invariably open, was, on 
this day of all others, locked. She beat on the panels ; after 
five agonizing minutes a servant opened to her, and she reached 
the King's rooms in safety, crying out, " My friends, my dear 
friends, save me and my children ! " 

So, owing to the courage of the two heroic guards, the Queen 
still Hved — ^the great coup of the conspirators had failed. 

Meanwhile around the door of the Queen's guards the fight 
continued; now at last the guards made use of weapons — Du 
Repaire with the pike he had captured, LuiUier and Miomandre 
with their swords, defended their lives against the horde of 
assassins. Miomandre by a blow from a pike was thrown to 
the ground, and an assassin standing over him raised the butt- 
end of his gun, bringing it crashing down on his victim's skull. 
Miomandre, bathed in his blood, was left for dead, but the crowd 
having swept onwards through the doorway into the Queen's 
apartments, he raised himself, staggered to his feet, and escaped. 

The next moment the door of the Queen's bedchamber was 
beaten down, and the furious horde, amoiigst them two of the 
men disguised as women, rushed forward to the bed to find it 
empty. It is said by Montjoie and Rivarol that in their rage c^ 
they plunged their pikes into the mattress, slashed at the bed- 
clothes with their sabres, and then by way of the great Galerie 
des Glaces proceeded to attack the CEil de Boeuf ; according to 
Madame Campan they did not enter the Queen's room, but reached 
the (Eil de Bceuf through the hall of the King's guards. In 
either case their intention was to break down the doors of the 
(Eil de Boeuf, where a few remaining members of the bodyguard 
were entrenched, and having massacred the King's last defenders 
to f aU upon the Royal Family, who had taken refuge in the King's 
bedroom beyond. But this plan was frustrated by an un- 
expected check — a detachment of grenadiers belonging to the old 
Gardes Fran9aises drawn up before the doors of the (Eil de Bceuf. 
What had happened to bring about this sudden return to loyalty 
in the mutineers who, at the siege of the BastUle, had ralUed to 
the standard of revolt ? One thing only — Lafayette, at last 
aroused from his optimistic lethargy, had risen to the occasion. 
From the moment the attack on the Chateau began — that 
attack which he had persisted in beUeving would never take 
place — his conduct was admirable, and it is unquestionably to 
Lafayette that must be accorded the eternal honour of saving 
the Jives of the Royal Family on this 6th of October. At the first 
sound of the tumult he had sprung up, mounted his horse, and 
summoned his grenadiers to the rescue of the King and the 


bodyguard. " Grenadiers," he cried, " will you suffer brave 
men to be basely assassinated ? . . . Swear to me on your 
honour as grenadiers that no harm shall be done to them ! " 

The grenadiers took the oath, and rallying around their still 
adored commander hastened to rescue the guards who had 
fallen into the clutches of the assassins. They were joined 
immediately by the men of the Parisian miUtia, and these, clasp- 
ing in their arms the white-haired brigadiers of the bodyguard, 
cried out, " No, we will not murder brave men like you ! " 

So again, as after the siege of the Bastille, the mutinous 
soldiers were turned by a word from revolutionary fury to senti- 
ments of humanity, and it was these men who but yesterday 
had marched against their King that were drawn up in his 
defence outside the (EH de Bceuf. 

Inside the room the officers of the bodyguard, who had been 
driven back from the door of the Queen's apartments, were 
waiting to prevent the insurgents from reaching the Royal Family 
collected in the King's bedroom beyond, and the grenadiers, 
wishing now to effect a coaUtion with their former enemies, 
rattled at the door-handle to attract their attention, whilst at 
the same time keeping the mob at bay. 

Chevannes, Vaulabelle, and Mondollot of the bodyguard 
cried through the door, " Who knocks ? " 

" Grenadiers ! " 

Then Chevannes, opening the door, courageously confronted 
the men he took to be his enemies. " Messieurs," he said, *' is 
it a victim you seek ? Here is one. I offer myself. I am one 
of the commanders of the post ; it is to me that belongs the 
honour of dying the first in defence of my King, but, by God, 
learn to respect that good King ! " 

But Gondran, commander of the grenadiers, held out his 
hand : " Far from wishing to take your life, we have come to 
defend you against your assassins." 

In an instant grenadiers and guards feU into one another's 
arms, mingling tears of joy, calling each other friends and 
comrades ; the guards consented to wear the tricolour cockade, 
and finally the men of the two regiments joining forces drove 
the rabble from the Chateau. 

The tide had now turned irresistibly against the conspirators. 
Down below in the Cour de Marbre the grenadiers were still 
fighting bravely for the lives of the guards, and the King, seeing 
the fray from the windows, rushed out on to the balcony of 
the great bedroom of Louis XIV. and cried out to the people 
for mercy to be shown to his faithful defenders. Several of the 
guards in attendance followed after him, and waving their hats, 
adorned with the tricolour cockade, cried out, " Vive la nation ! " 


The situation was saved ; in a moment that strange Parisian 
crowd had forgotten their fury, and to the shouts of " Vive la 
nation ! " responded with cries of " Vive le Roi ! " 

Then the conspirators determined on one final effort to 
achieve their purpose, and voices were raised calUng for the Queen 
to appear likewise on the balcony. 

All this time Marie Antoinette had remained in the King's 
bedroom with her children, surrounded by her weeping women 
and distracted courtiers ; the ministers Luzerne and Montmorin 
appeared incapable of action, whilst in a corner Necker, the 
people's idol, sat sobbing helplessly. Marie Antoinette alone 
was calm, rousing the courage of those around her, quieting 
the Uttle Dauphin who repeated plaintively, " Maman, I am 
hungry." Only at one moment her serenity failed her, as, looking 
down from the windows, she perceived suddenly amongst the 
raging multitude the figure of Philippe d' Orleans walking gaily 
arm-in-arm with Adrien Duport,^ and at the sinister vision the 
Queen caught the Dauphin to her heart and, half rising from her 
seat, cried out in an agony of terror, " They are coming to kill 
my son I " Marie Antoinette well knew that it was not " the 
people " who were most to be feared. 

The cries of " Vive le Roi ! " that had broken out when the 
King appeared on the balcony showed that he at least had not 
lost his place in their hearts, and when at this moment word was 
brought that the Queen too must show herself to the crowd, she 
advanced confidently towards the balcony holding the Dauphin 
and Madame Royale by the hand. 

" She took her children with her for safety," says a revolu- 
tionary writer — she who would have died a hundred deaths to 
save them ! No more cruel calumny has ever been uttered 
against Marie Antoinette. It is easy to understand the idea that 
inspired her action. What mother worthy of the name does not 
beheve that the sight of her offspring must melt the fiercest heart ? 
And surely no stronger appeal could be made to the women she 
beheved to be the same poissardes who, but a few short years 
earher, had presented themselves at this very spot to hail the 
birth of the Dauphin than to show his younger brother to them 
now ! Were not the poissardes mothers too ? Undoubtedly, 
if the poissardes had composed the crowd, the result would have 
been just as the Queen anticipated, but the conspirators shrewdly 

1 Ferrieres, i. 327. See also the evidence of the Marquis de Digoine 
du Palais, witness clxviii. in Procedure du Chdtelet : "In the same place 
(the Cour de Marbre) was M. le Due d'Orleans walking with M. Duport 
whom he held under the arm, and with whom he was talking in a very 
gay and easy manner." The duke was also seen at this hour by witnesses 
cxxvii., cxxxii., cxxxiii., cxxxvi., cxcv., who described him playing with 
a light switch he carried in his hand and " laughing incessantly " 


foresaw this also, and a man's voice in the crowd cried out 
threateningly, " No children ! " At that Marie Antoinette, 
comprehending that the rage of the multitude had not abated, 
handed the children to Madame de Tourzel and came forward 

As she stood there on the balcony in the pale Ught of the 
October morning, her hair disordered, a little yellow-striped 
wrapper hastily thrown over her night attire,^ her face, of which 
the dazzling tints had once defied the painter's art, now changed 
to a stricken pallor, Marie Antoinette had never seemed so much 
a Queen. Folding her hands on her breast she raised her eyes 
above the angry sea of pikes and muskets, filling the courtyards 
of the Chateau and stretching right away across the Place d'Armes 
to the Avenue de Versailles, and looked to heaven, " like a 
victim offering herself up to death." 

And at this sight a hush fell over the tumultuous crowd, a 
breathless and tremendous silence during which the Queen's life 
hung in the balance. But amongst all that vast multitude only 
one man was found ready to carry out the design of the con- 
spirators. This brigand raised his gun to his shoulder, took aim 
at the Queen, but, according to Ferrieres, dared not pull the 
/ trigger ; according to Weber, the weapon was angrily dashed 
^ from his hand by his companions. The next moment the silence 
was broken by a wild outburst of applause ; cries of " Vive la 
Reine ! ' ' resounded on every side . Lafayette, coming forward into 
the balcony, raised the Queen's hand to his lips and kissed it. 
The storm of acclamation redoubled ; the situation was saved. 

So once again the designs of the Orleanistes were frustrated ; 
only one hope remained to them — ^if the King and Queen were 
to be brought to Paris the people might yet be worked up to the 
pitch of fury necessary to their assassination. Accordingly a 
voice in the crowd ^ was heard calling out, '* The King to Paris ! 
The King to Paris ! " and instantly the cry was taken up by 
the multitude. Hearing this the King decided to consult the 
Assembly, and a message was sent to the hall requesting that 
the deputies should come to the Chateau to discuss the situation. 
" We must not hesitate," repUed Mounier; " let us fly to the 
King." But Mirabeau had no mind to expose his person to 
the tender mercies of the revolutionary crowds whose benevolence 
he was never tired of praising,^ and immediately opposed the 

^ Evidence of the Comte de Saint- Aulaire, witness clviii. in Procidure 
du Chdtelet. 

* Ferrieres says " a few voices " ; Bertrand de Molleville, " one voice 

' " M. le Comte de Mirabeau represents the danger of leaving the accus- 
tomed place for sittings " {Moniteur, ii. 12). 


suggestion. " It is inconsistent with the dignity of the Assembly 
to go to the King ; we cannot dehberate in a King's palace." 

" Our dignity," retorted Mounier, " consists in doing our 
duty, and at this moment of danger our sacred duty is to be 
with the King ; we shall reproach ourselves eternally if we 
neglect it." 

Then the King, with the courage which the deputies lacked, 
announced his intention of going to the Assembly since the 
Assembly would not go to him, and thereupon the Assembly, 
*' with the sound of musketry fire all around," settled down to a 
long discussion on the manner of receiving him.^ 

Whilst these inconceivable delays were taking place the 
crowd was becoming more and more excited, and at last the King, 
despairing of the Assembly's co-operation, resolved to take the 
matter into his own hands and accede to the demands of the 
people. Going out once more on to the balcony he accordingly 
addressed them in these words : 

" My children, you wish that I should follow you to Paris. 
I consent, but on the understanding that I shall not be separated 
from my wife and children, and I ask for the safety of my body- 

The crowd repUed with cries of " Vive le Roi 1 Vive les gardes 
du corps ! " Guns were fired as a sign of rejoicing. But once 
again the agitators succeeded in turning the tide of popular 
feeling, and it was in the midst of a raging herd that the Royal 
Family set forth on the terrible seven hours' drive to Paris. Around 
the carriage the vilest of the rabble had collected, pressing against 
it so closely that it seemed to be borne upon their shoulders ; 
sitting astride on cannons were the sham fishwives, carrying 
branches of poplar adorned with ribbons, and women of the 
streets, still drunk with blood and wine, singing foul songs 
of the gutter, and insulting the Queen by their gestures and 

In order to give colour to the story that the Court had been 
monopolizing the grain, the Orleanistes now released supplies 
and brought up wagon-loads of grain to join in the procession. ^ 
The people, completely duped by this manceuvre, surrounded 
the wagons, crying out repeatedly, " We are bringing you the 
baker, the baker's wife, and the baker's boy {Nous vous amenons 
le boulanger, la boulangere et le petit mitron)." 

In the rear were the tragic remnants of the bodyguard — forty 
to fifty shattered men, disarmed, bareheaded, worn with hunger 
and fatigue, their garments torn and blood-stained, led prisoner 
by brigands armed with pikes and sabres, to meet, for all they 
knew; with a fate as hideous as their comrades Deshuttes and 
* Moniteur, ii. 12. ^ Montjoie, Conjuration de d'Orlians, ii. 272. 


Varicourt, whose heads had been carried two hours earUer to 
Paris, and brought in triumph to the Palais Royal.^ 

As the procession passed through Passy the Due d' Orleans, 
who had hurried on ahead, was seen on the terrace of his house 
surrounded by his children, and with them Madame de GenUs, 
frantically impatient to witness the humihation of the Queen, to 
whose Court she had never been able to gain admittance. At 
the sight of their vanquished rivals joy unrestrained broke out 
on the countenances of this ignoble family. Mademoiselle 
d'Orleans gave way to hysterical laughter. Some of the brigands 
in the crowd, recognizing the duke, in spite of his efforts to con- 
ceal himself behind the rest of the group, cried out, " Vive le 
Due d'Orleans ! Vive notre pere d'Orleans ! " nor could ducal 
frowns and gestures silence these incriminating acclamations.^ 

It was seven o'clock in the evening when the Royal Family 
reached the Hotel de Ville to be complimented by BaiUy on " the 
beautiful day " that had brought the King to Paris. Louis XVI., 
in a voice faint with hunger and exhaustion, replied that he came 
" with joy and with confidence into the good city of Paris." 
Bailly, in repeating the King's words to the people, omitted to 
say " with confidence," but the Queen, whose presence of mind 
even at this crisis had not deserted her, interposed in clear tones : 
" You forget. Monsieur, that the King said ' and with confi- 
dence.' " Whereat Bailly, turning to the people, added, " You 
hear, Messieurs ? You are more fortunate than if I had said it 
myself." At half -past nine, by the glare of torches, the Royal 
Family entered the palace of the Tuileries that for nearly three 
years was to be their prison. It is said that the King was radiant, 
his confidence in his people once more restored, for at this, as at 
every other crisis of the Revolution, he never lost sight of the fact 
that the people were misled and to be pitied rather than blamed. 

" There are evil men," he said next day to the httle Dauphin, 
" who have stirred up the people, and the excesses committed are 
their work ; we must not hear a grudge against the people." In this 
conviction, which to the last day of his life Louis XVI. never 
reUnquished, is to be found the secret of that amazing spirit of 
forbearance which has been attributed to his weakness. 

^ Many contemporaries, including Madame de Campan, say that these 
heads were carried in the procession, but Weber, the Deux Amis, Bertrand 
de Molleville, and Gouverneur Morris distinctly state that they were carried 
on ahead and arrived in Paris at twelve o'clock, before the procession had 
started from Versailles. The Chancelier Pasquier saw them carried into 
the Palais Royal {Mimoires, p. 72). 

2 Montjoie, ii. 273 ; Histoire de la Revolution de France, by the Vicomte 
F. de Conny; evidence of the Vicomte de Mirabeau, witness cxlvi. in 
Procedure du Chdtelet. 



The point that Louis XVL failed to reahze was that the 
revolutionary mob which marched on Versailles was not the 
people at all, but an assemblage composed of impostors both 
male and female, and of hired rabble from the Faubourgs ; the 
only element that could be described as representing the people 
being those poor women forced against their will to march. 

So indignant were the true women of the people at the mas- 
querade conducted in their name that, on the morning after the 
arrival of the Royal Family in Paris, a deputation of the " Ladies 
of the Market " presented themselves at the Commune of Paris 
to repudiate all complicity with the movement by means of the 
following petition : 

" Messieurs, we come to represent to you that we at the corn 
market took no part in what happened yesterday ; we disapprove 
of it ... ; we devote to public justice women who have no other 
qualification than that of light women (femmes du monde) and 
prostituted to those who, like themselves, only wish to disturb the 
peace and tranquilHty of good citizens." ^ 

The deputation proceeded to declare that " they disapproved 
of the indecent way in which the women had presented them- 
selves to the King and Queen, and that, far from having spoken 
against Messieurs Bailly and Lafayette, they would defend them 
to the last drop of their blood." They requested that the National 
Guard should be ordered to bring these women back to order. 
This Uttle petition was deposited on the table and signed by the 
members of the deputation, but amongst these only three were 
able to write their names.^ 

According to Rivarol the poissardes also went to the Tuileries 
on the same morning and " presented a petition to the King and 
Queen to demand justice for the horrible calumny which rendered 
them accompUces of the violence committed the day before 
towards their Majesties." ^ 

^ A confirmation of the statement made by certain contemporaries that 
Laclos, Chamfort, and other leading Orl6anistes took their mistresses with 

' " Extrait du proems verbal des repr^sentants de la Commune de 
Paris," published in the Histoire Parlementaire of Buchez et Roux, iii. 137. 

^ MSmoires de Rivarol, p. 263. Madame Campan in her Mimoires also 
refers to this visit of the poissardes to the Tuileries, but, contrary to Rivarol, 
describes them as identical with the women who marched on Versailles, 
and declares that they opened the interview with reproaches against the 
Queen, though they ended by crying " Vive Marie Antoinette ! Vive notre 
bonne reine ! " But Madame Campan's account of the 6th of October is in- 
correct in several points ; moreover, we know that her loyalty to the Queen 



In the light of the deputation to the Commune this statement 
of RivaroFs seems credible enough ; if the women protested to 
the electors of Paris, why should they not have protested to the 
King and Queen ? It may be suggested that it was the women 
of the corn market only who went to the Commune, but if so, 
why did they not say that it was from the women of the fish 
market that they wished to disassociate themselves, instead of 
stating distinctly that the women who marched on Versailles 
were of a totally different class — the class of " Ught women " that 
the " respectable poor " usually hold in abhorrence ? 

The whole of this incident has been very carefully kept dark 
by the conspiracy of history, for, of course, it effectually disposes 
of the cherished revolutionary legend that the march on Versailles 
was conducted by women of the people. Even if we doubt the 
veracity of Rivarol, the petition to the Commune is an absolutely 
unanswerable refutation of this theory, and therefore no mention 
has been made of it by any revolutionary writer, either amongst 
contemporaries or amongst posterity. 

From the point of view of the people the march on Versailles 
proved naturally disastrous ; the cause of Uberty had been dis- 
graced in the eyes of the world and the work of reform arrested 
in full swing. Several of the democratic deputies reaUzing this 
left the country in despair, and amongst this number were two 
of the most ardent defenders of the people — Mounier ^ and 

is more than doubtful, and since she refrained from any reference to the 
deputation to the Commune which testified so strongly in the Queen's 
favour, she is quite as likely to have misrepresented the truth about the 
deputation to the Tuileries. On the loyalty of the " Dames de la Halle " 
at this moment see also Lettres d'un AttacM de Ligation, date of October i6 ; 
Documents pour servir d I'Histoire de la Rivolution Frangaise, by Charles 
d'H^ricault and Gustave Bord, 2nd series, p. 260. 

^ Mounier's denunciation of the 6th of October in his Appel au Tribunal 
de V Opinion publique contains one of the most eloquent testimonies to the 
democracy of Louis XVI. : " Without doubt the nation had been long 
oppressed by a crowd of abuses ; the rights of citizens were not sufficiently 
protected against arbitrary power. But had these abuses begun under the 
reign of Louis XVI. ? Had he done nothing to merit our gratitude ? 
What prince ever lent a more attentive ear to all those who spoke to him 
in favour of his people ? . . , Did he dishonour his reign by sanguinary 
orders, by proscriptions ? Did he steal property ? And what an atrocious 
exaggeration to describe the mistakes of his Ministers as excesses which 
wore out the patience of the people, and to consider them as sufficient 
reasons for dethroning the King ! I will not speak here of all the ad- 
vantages we owe to his benevolence — the abolition of servitude in his 
domains, the abolition of corvies and of torture, the establishment of 
provincial administration, the civil state of the Protestants recognized, the 
liberty of the seas. Would he have lost all his authority if he had had less 
confidence in the love of his people ? " Note that all these reforms men- 
tioned by Mounier dated from before the Revolution. 


Lally Tollendal. Clermont Tonnerre remained to be massacred 
at his post, Virieu to perish on the scaffold; Malouet alone 
of the Royahst Democrats survived the succeeding storms of 
the Revolution. 


Even the eyes of Lafayette were now at last opened to the 
truth about the Orleaniste conspiracy. Hitherto his Republican 
fervour had prevented him from offering a too determined opposi- 
tion to the revolutionary movement, but if the 14th of July 
had moderated his revolutionary ardour, the 6th of October, he 
declared to the Comte d'Estaing, had made him a Royalist.^ 
It was all over with hberty, he now saw, if the Orl6anistes were 
to prevail, and with a courage he too seldom displayed he 
resolved to tell the King the whole truth, and to insist on the 
exile or conviction of the duke. At the same time Lafayette 
sought an interview with the duke himself, of which the following 
account is given in the Correspondence of Lord Auckland : 

" The duke was at the head of a formidable party, the purpose 
of which was to send the King away, if not worse, and to make 
himself to be named Regent, etc. M. de Lafayette has worked 
out this plot in wonderful silence, and once master of every 
proof he waited on the duke last Saturday (Oct. 10) for the first 
time, and told him these words on which you may depend : 

" ' Monseigneur, I fear there will soon be on the scaffold the 
head of some one of your name.' 

" The duke looked surprised. 

" ' You intend, Monseigneur, to have me assassinated, but 
be sure that you will be yourself an hour later.' 

'* The duke swore on his word of honour that he was not 

" The other continued, saying : 

" ' Monseigneur, I must accept your word of honour, but 
as I have under my hand the strongest proof of your whole 
conduct, your Highness must leave France or else I shall bring 
you before a tribunal within twenty-four hours. The King has 
descended several steps of his throne, but I have placed myself 
on the last ; he will descend no further, and in order to reach him 
you will have to pass over my body. You have cause for com- 
plaint against the Queen, and so have I, but this is the moment 
to forget all grievances.' 

} " M. de Lafayette swore to me on the road (from Versailles to Paris 
on Oct. 6) that the atrocities had made a Royalist of him " (Letter from 
the Comte d'Estaing to the Queen, October 7, 1789). 


" The duke consented to depart. The day after they were 
with the King, before whom the marquis repeated to the duke 
all he had said." ^ 

But Louis XVI., always magnanimous, refrained from 
humihating his cousin by a pubhc exposure of his conduct, and 
contented himself with sending him on a pretended mission to 
England. According to Montjoie he hoped by this indulgence 
to dissuade the duke from continuing to monopoUze the grain. 
*' In the situation where so many misfortunes and crimes have 
placed me," he said to Orleans, "I see only the needs of the 
people. My sole desire and likewise my first duty is to give 
them back their subsistence." Accordingly he agreed to forgive 
everything that had taken place on the condition that the 
duke would open his granaries, of which a number were in 
England, and restore the com he had concealed. A mission to 
the EngUsh Court was to be the pretext for his departure.^ 

Whether Montjoie is right on the real object of the duke's 
journey — and his statement is confirmed by the revolutionary 
Desodoards ^ — ^it is certain that the mission of the Due d' Orleans 
to England was not, as his supporters would have us beUeve, 
an official one, but a pretext either to cover his restoration of 
the grain or simply to get him out of the country. The corre- 
spondence of English contemporaries on this point is conclusive, 
and shows that in England likewise the Due d' Orleans was 
universally regarded as the author of the atrocities committed 
on the 6th of October.* 

The Royalist Democrats, amongst whom we may now count 
Lafayette, refused, however, to be satisfied with the mere exile 

1 Letter from Mr. Huber in Paris to Lord Auckland, dated October 15, 
1789. The above conversation is given by Mr. Huber in French. His 
account of the incident is confirmed in the Memoirs of Lafayette. 

* Conjuration de d'OrUans, ii. 318. 

' Histoire Philosophique, by Fantin D6sodoards, i. 222. 

* See besides the foregoing letter to Lord Auckland those from Lord 
Henry Fitzgerald in Paris to the Duke of Leeds, pubUshed in Dispatches 
from Paris, edited by Oscar Browning. On October 29 Fitzgerald writes : 
" In short, my Lord, the general impression is that the Prince was chief 
promoter of all the disturbances here, of the expedition on Monday the 5th 
of this month to Versailles, that his designs against the King were of a very 
criminal nature, that he aimed at the Regency of the kingdom for himself 
and proposed to bring his own party into power. It is supposed also that 
M. de Lafayette is the person who discovered the conspiracy forming, and 
that, having made it known to the King, his Majesty in goodness of heart 
employed him on a pretended commission to England, as a pretext only, 
and to shield him by honourable exile from further pursuit." 

Again on November 6 : "I must assure your Grace that I have every 
reason to believe that his commission to England was a pretended one," etc. 

See also Playfair's History of Jacobinism, p. 220, note ; Biographical 
Memoirs of the French Revolution, by John Adolphus, ii. 249 and following. 


of the duke, and resolved to expose the whole design of the 
Orleaniste conspiracy. Mounier Wcis the chief instigator of this 

Accordingly in November the Chatelet of Paris opened an U 
immense inquiry into the events of October 5 and 6. In 
spite of the threats of the Orleanistes a great number of witnesses 
came forward to testify against the infamous manoeuvres of 
the duke and his supporters, and these witnesses were not taken 
only from amongst aristocrats or Royahsts, but from amongst 
men and women of all classes — soldiers, hairdressers, deputies 
of the Assembly, washerwomen, ladies-in-waiting, tradesmen, 
and domestic servants jostle each other in the 570 pages pubHshed 
by the Chatelet, and no one should attempt to write a line on y 
October 5 and 6 without consulting the graphic descriptions 
given by these eye-witnesses of the manner in which the march 
on Versailles was engineered.^ In the hght of this great mass of 
evidence no impartial mind can possibly doubt that the whole 
insurrection was the work of the Orleaniste conspiracy — ^the 
forcing of the women to march, the men in women's clothes, 
the money distributed amongst the crowd, the presence of the 
duke himself and of his supporters in the thick of the tumult 
always followed by cries of '* Vive le bon due d'Orleans ! Vive 
notre roi d'Orleans ! " AU these facts were proved beyond 

That the duke was indeed actually amongst the crowd on 
the marble staircase showing them the way to the Queen's 
apartments can hardly be doubted, but on this point the reader 
must be left to form his own opinion from the evidence given 
in the Appendix of this book.^ 

The Chatelet having thus accumulated information from 
every quarter, finally sought the testimony of the victim against 

^ Avant-propos to the Tableau des Timoins . . . dans la Procidure du 
Chdtelet, 1790. 

* The whole of the inquiry is to be found at the British Museum under 
the heading ProcMure criminelle instruiie au Chdtelet de Paris sur la /y 
dinonciation des faits arrives d Versailles dans la journSe du 6 octobre ijSg. 
ImprimSe par ordre de I' A ssembUe Nationale. Museum press mark, 491 . i .2. 
Readers should beware of consulting the Orleaniste pubUcation, Abrdgi de 
la Procedure criminelle instruite au Chdtelet, etc., in which the most important 
evidence is suppressed, but the brochure entitled Tableau des Timoins et 
recueil des faits lesplus intdressants, etc., an answer to the aforesaid Abrdgi, 
is a genuine resum6 of the inquiry. 

' Von Sybel, the German historian, considers that " the strongest 
evidence against the Due d'Orleans was furnished several years later by 
thC/ discovery of a letter bearing the date of October 6 in which he directs 
his banker not to pay the sums agreed upon : ' Run quickly, my friend, 
to the lj!*^nker . . . and tell him not to deliver the sum ; the money has not / 
been gained, the brat still lives 1* {le marmot vit encore)." This would / 


whom all the worst outrages of October 6 had been directed — 
the Queen of France. But to the inquiries of the commissioners 
who presented themselves at the Tuileries for the purpose, Marie 
Antoinette made only the reply : "I saw everything, I heard 
everything, I have forgotten everything {J'ai tout vu, j'ai tout 
entendu, j'ai tout oublU)." ^ 

The supreme opportunity had been given her to bring her 
arch-enemy to justice — a course that might have saved the hves 
of the Royal Family and put an end to the whole Revolution, 
but with subUme magnanimity she chose to reject it. Yet there 
are still historians capable of saying that Marie Antoinette 
" knew not to forgive " ! 

But the evidence collected by the Chatelet was already more 
than sufficient to prove that the events of October 5 and 6 were 
the work of a conspiracy. Even the " Comite des Recherches " 
of the municipaUty of Paris, to whom the Chatelet appUed for 
information, though in collusion with the Orleanistes — Brissot 
was, in fact, one of its leading members — admitted in its report 
that " the execrable crime which defiled the Chateau of Ver- 
sailles in the morning of Tuesday the 6th of October had for 
instruments bandits set in motion by clandestine manoeuvres 
who mingled with the citizens," but in order to avert investiga- 
tion as to the authors of these manoeuvres the Comite refused 
to extend its inquiries to anything that took place before the 
morning of the 6th. By this means, as Mounier points out, all 
the preparations that led up to the march on Versailles, and 
even the organization of the march itself, were to be kept dark, 
so as to throw the entire blame on a " few obscure ruffians " 
/^•■' whom the conspirators were quite ready to deUver over to justice.^ 

In spite of these obstacles the Chatelet had no difficulty, 
however, in deciding who were the true authors of the insurrec- 
tion, and on the 5th of August 1790 the magistrates unanimously^ 
/ convicted the Due d' Orleans and Mirabeau as deserving of arres t. ~^ 

The following day a deputation from the Chatelet presented 
themselves at the Assembly and placed all the documentary 
evidence they had collected on the table. 

seem to indicate that some one had been bribed to murder the Dauphin, 
but the incident rests only on the authority of Real, minister of poUce 
under the Empire, who declared that he had held the note in his hands. 
v/See Philippe d'Orlians &galiti, by Auguste Ducoin, p. 72. 

* Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, ii. 71 ; Dispatches from Paris, 
ii. 311. 

* Appel au Tribunal, p. 76. See also Fantin Desodoards, p. 283 : 
" The Orleanistes had no doubt that the Chatelet would regard this affair 
from the point of view indicated by themselves, and would throw all the 
odium on a few obscure ruffians who could easily be represented as secret 
agents of the Royalists." 


Boucher d'Argis then opened the debate with these dramatic 
words : 

" At last we have torn aside the veil from the deplorable 
event now all too celebrated. They will be known — ^those 
secrets full of horror ; they will be revealed — ^those crimes that 
stained the palace of our kings in the morning of October 
the 6th ! " 

But the Orleanistes had still far too much power over the 
Assembly to be brought to justice. Chabroud, the hireling of 
the duke,^ was deputed to draw up a report exonerating both 
the delinquents, and this was followed by tirades from Mirabeau 
and the Due de Biron, which had the usual effect of cowing the 
Assembly. To any impartial mind these speeches for the 
defence are hardly less convincing proof of the conspirators' 
guilt than the report of the Chatelet. Not a single charge against 
the defendants is effectually refuted ; the feebleness of the argu- 
ments employed is equalled only by their audacity. The 
" people " whom these demagogues did not hesitate to stigmatize 
as *' ruffians " or as " tigers " ^ were alone to blame ; the only 
conspiracy was that of the " enemies of the Revolution " ! In 
other words, it was the " aristocrats " who had organized the 
march on Versailles ! 

Mirabeau, adopting his usual device of drownmg his lack of 
reason or logic in floods of meaningless verbiage, thundered 
against the Chatelet : ** This history is profoundly odious. The 
annals of crime offer few examples of infamy at the same time 
so shameless and unskilful." Several of the most incriminating 
accusations he boldly admitted,^ but endeavoured to explain 
them away by sophistries so futile that even the Assembly would 
have been forced to reject them had not Mirabeau, with superb 
cunning, hit on an argument that terrified the Assembly into 
acquiescence. "It is not the 6th of October," he cried, " that 
is being brought to trial — ^it is the Revolution ! " And at this 

^ Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, iii. 84. Fantin D6sodoards 
{Histoire Philosophique, etc. i. 286) says Chabroud received 60,000 francs 
from the Due d'Orleans for this report. 

* " Perhaps ruffians had mingled with the multitude and it had become 
their mobile instrument. ... A homicidal band advances, in its frenzy it 
respects nothing. Soon there is nothing between the tigers and Louis 
XVI." (Speech of Chabroud). 

* For example. Dr. la Fisse, witness lv. in the Procedure du Chdtelet, 
had stated that Mirabeau, on receiving a note from the Due d'Orl6ans after 
the 6th of October saying that he was leaving for England, had exclaimed 
furiously to those around him, " See here — read 1 He is as craven as a 
lackey, he is a blackguard {jeanf outre) who does not deserve all the trouble 
ta,ken for him 1 " (Compare this with Camille Desmoulins' description of 
Mirabeau's " anger at seeing himself abandoned," quoted on p. 126 of this 
book.) Mirabeau admitted having made this remark, but explained he 
only meant it was " a mistake " for the duke to go to England ! 


the Assembly, dominated by the two revolutionary factions, 
who well knew that if the Revolution ended it was all over with 
them, hastily reversed the judgement of the Chatelet and de- 
clared both Orleans and Mirabeau innocent. At this monstrous 
decision of the Assembly a cry of indignation went up from all 
those who loved justice, and who from the beginning of the 
Revolution had striven for the cause of true Uberty.^ 

Amongst these was Mounier, who wrote from Switzerland 
his Appeal to the Tribunal of Public Opinion denouncing the 
report of Chabroud : "I can conceive nothing so revolting as 
the efforts of M. Chabroud to justify the most frightful crimes, 
his indulgence towards the assassins, his hatred for the victims, 
his outrages against the witnesses and against the judges (of 
the Chatelet), the threatening tone of the Due d'Orleans and the 
Comte de Mirabeau, the eagerness with which the conclusions 
of the reporter (Chabroud) were hastily admitted, without 
examination and without discussion. Nothing of all this should 
surprise me, yet it provoked in me indignation almost equal to 
that which I felt on October 5 and 6, 1789. Perhaps the apology 
of crime should inspire more horror than crime itself." 

Yet it is this apology of the crimes of October 5 and 6 that 
for more than a hundred years has triumphed over truth and 
justice ; by nearly all historians the Procedure du Chdtelet and 
the great denunciation of Mounier — whom up to this point 
they have quoted unceasingly in support of revolutionary 
doctrines — have been persistently ignored, and the character of 
the French people has been blackened for the better white- 
washing of an Ignoble prince and his boon companions. Such 
is the " democratic " method of writing history ! 

The truth is that the march on Versailles was nothing but an 
Orleaniste rising ; not only must the people be exonerated from 
blame, but so must also the other revolutionary intrigues. In 
all the preparations that took place beforehand, in all the 
sideUghts thrown by the Chatelet on the crimes committed, we 
can find no trace of either Anarchist, EngUsh, or Prussian co- 

^ For the opinions of English contemporaries on the absolution of the 
Assembly at the instigation of " the whitewasher Chabroud," see, for 
example, Playf air's History of Jacobinism, p. 220 ; Robison's Proofs of a 
Conspiracy, p. 392 ; and the statement of Helen Maria WiUiams, a bitter 
enemy of the King, in her Correspondence of Louis XVI. i, 235. Even 
Dumont, the friend — and evidently, for a time, the accomphce — of Mira- 
beau, admitted the doubtful honesty of the Assembly in exonerating him. 
" The events of October 5 and 6," wrote Dumont, " have been imputed to 
the Due d'Orleans, and the Chatelet implicated Mirabeau in the conspiracy. 
The National Assembly declared that there was no case for conviction 
against one or the other. But the absolution of the Assembly is not the 
absolution of history, and many veils yet remain to be raised before these 
events can be pronounced on" {Souvenirs sur Mirabeau, p. 117). !. 


operation ; the leaders were men known to be devoted solely to the 
interests of the Due d' Orleans, the instruments were in his pay. 
But if these other intrigues took no actual part in the move- 
ment, they accorded it their heartiest sympathy. The out- 
rages of the 6th of October had furthered the cause of anarchy. 
Robespierre could still afford to he low, biding his time, whilst 
the Orleanistes proceeded with the work of demoUtion. 

By the revolutionaries of England the events of October 5 
and 6 were hailed with fresh rejoicings. At the meeting-house 
of the Old Jewry on November 4, Dr. Price delivered his famous 
poUtical sermon in praise of the French Revolution. " What 
an eventful period is this ! I am thankful that I have Uved to 
see it ; I could almost say ' Lord, now lettest thou thy servant 
depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation ' — I have 
lived to see a diffusion of knowledge which has undermined 
superstition and error. ... I have Hved to see thirty millions 
of people indignant and resolute, spuming at slavery and demand- 
ing hberty with an irresistible voice. Their king led in triumph, 
and an arbitrary monarch surrendering himself to his subjects.'* 
After this discourse the members of the Revolutionary Society 
of Great Britain adjourned to the London Tavern and passed 
an address of congratulation on the " glorious example of France," 
which was transmitted by Lord Stanhope to the National 

But there was one man in England whose passionate love of 
liberty inspired him with the eloquence that alone could counter- 
act these monstrous libels on a noble cause. Burning with 
indignation Edmund Burke arose and in his immortal Reflections 
opened the eyes of his fellow-countrymen to the true character 
of the French Revolution and the outrages of October 6. "Is 
this a triumph to be consecrated at altars ? to be commemor- 
ated with grateful thanksgiving ? to be offered to the divine 
humanity with fervent prayer and enthusiastic ejaculation ? . . . 
I shall never think that a prince, the acts of whose whole reign 
were a series of concessions to liis subjects, who was wilhng to 
relax his authority, to remit his prerogatives, to call his people 
to a share of freedom not known, perhaps not desired, by their 
ancestors ... I shall be led with great difficulty to think that 
he deserves the cruel and insulting triumph of Paris and of Dr. 
Price. / tremble for the cause of liberty, from such an example 
to kings. I tremble for the cause of humanity in the unpunished 
outrages of the most wicked of mankind," 

Burke's stirring appeal met with a prodigious success and 
carried all the sane portion of the people with him. Hitherto 
they had retained a certain sympathy with the Revolution ; the 
national " sporting " instinct had responded, as we have seen. 


to the enterprise of attacking the Bastille, but this same instinct 
recoiled at the cowardly attempt to massacre the defenceless 
Royal Family in their beds. ' ' After the 6th of October, ' ' says the 
Republican Dumont, " many sensible men (in England) began 
to think that the French treated infamously a king who had 
done so much for them." ^ 

The effect of Burke's speech was undoubtedly to save England 
from revolution ; Dumont even goes so far as to question whether 
he was not " the saviour of Europe." In vain the EngUsh 
revolutionaries retorted with a storm of seditious pamphlets; 
their efforts were speedily transformed into waste paper, whilst 
Burke's denunciation will Uve as long as the EngUsh tongue is 

" Its merit,'* wrote the contemporary John Adolphus, " can 
only be appreciated by the never-dying rancour it excited in 
the minds of his opponents, a rancour which age, affliction, sick- 
ness, and even death could not assuage." ^ It is not assuaged 
yet ! StiU, after more than a hundred years, the Radical press 
does not weary of reviUng the author of the great Reflections, 
and owing to its unremitting efforts England has never been 
aUowed to know the debt she owes to Edmund Burke.^ 

But if England began henceforth to regard the French 
Revolution with aversion, Prussia continued to express unfeigned 
admiration for the principles of French Uberty. The decrees of 
August 4, which deprived the German princes of their estates 
in Alsace and Lorraine, had already embittered feehng between 
Austria and France, and paved the way for the dissolution of 
the hated Franco- Austrian alliance; and, although perhaps 
Prussia hardly reahzed it at the time, the first step had been 
taken towards the incorporation of these provinces with the 
future German Empire. WeU might Hertzberg and Von der 
Goltz rejoice at each succeeding stage of the Revolution ! "A 
King without authority," wrote the Minister of Saxony to Berlin, 
whilst the march on Versailles was preparing, " a state without 
money or military power ; in a word, a vessel caught in a storm 
and of which Mirabeau is the only pilot — what importance can 
France have henceforth in Europe ? " * 

"^ Souvenirs sur Mirabeau, p, 96. 

2 History of the French Revolution, by John Adolphus, ii. 298. 

' So thoroughly has this propaganda been carried out that in the 
popular edition of the Reflections, which the good taste of the British public 
made it necessary to pubUsh, a preface has been inserted explaining that 
Burke was ill-informed on the subject and urging the reader to consult Mr. 
Arthur Young's Travels in France. But the writer carefully refrains from 
mentioning Arthur Young's later work, The Example of France, which con- 
firms every word uttered by Burke in rather stronger language I 

* L'Europe et la Revolution Franpaise, by A. Sorel, ii. 26, 


Prussia had indeed every reason to be grateful to the 
Revolution. Was it a recognition of this debt that inspired 
the Prussians to enter Versailles eighty-two years later to the 
strains of the " Marseillaise " ? The 6th of October 1789 had 
proved but the prelude to the 8th of January 1871, and in the 
great gallery of the palace, stained with the blood of the King's 
bodyguard, WiUiam I. of Prussia was proclaimed German 
Emperor amidst the acclamations of his conquering hordes. 





A PERIOD of nearly three years elapsed between the second and 
third great outbreaks of the Revolution. During this interval 
changes so fundamental took place among the factions that the 
outbreaks of 1792 must be regarded as an entirely different 
movement — ^in fact as a new and distinct revolution. 

In order to understand the causes that produced this second 
revolution it is necessary therefore to form some idea of the course 
taken by the revolutionary intrigues since the march on Versailles. 

With the exile of the Due d'Orleans and his mentor Choderlos 
de Laclos the Orleaniste conspiracy was temporarily arrested, 
and by the desertion of Mirabeau in the following spring lost 
its principal dynamic force. Mirabeau, it was said, had been 
" bought " by the Court ; true, Mirabeau received payment, but 
this time only for the expression of his real opinions. He had 
always despised the Due d'Orleans, and once the King's bounty 
had freed him from this ignoble servitude he devoted all his 
immense energy to building up the royal authority he had spent 
the previous years in overthrowing. 

Louis XVI., who, as M. Sorel well expresses it, " saw only in 
the Revolution a misunderstanding between himself and his 
people, exploited and stirred up by a band of sedition-mongers," 
hoped by the capture of the chief agitator to put an end to 

On the 13th of July 1790, before taking his oath to maintain 
the Constitution on the following day at the Fete de la Federation, 
Louis XVI. appeared at the Assembly, and deUvered himself of 
this strangely human message to his people : 

" Tell your fellow-citizens that I wish I could speak to them 
all as I speak to you here ; teU them again that their King is 
their father, their brother, their friend ; that he can be happy 
only in their happiness, great with their glory, mighty through 
their Hberty, rich through their prosperity, that he can suffer only 
in their griefs. Make the words or rather the feelings of my 



heart to be heard in the humblest cottages and in the dwellings 
of the unfortunate ; tell them that if I cannot go with you into 
their abodes, I desire to be there by my affection and by means 
of laws that will protect the weak, to watch with them, to Uve 
for them, to die if necessary for them. ..." 

But the return of the Due d'Orleans two days earlier — ^which 
Lafayette was either too fooUsh or too cowardly to oppose — gave 
a fresh impetus to the conspirators, and insurrection broke out 
with redoubled fury at the Palais Royal. The professional 
agitators of 1789 — St. Huruge, Grammont, Foumier I'Americain 
— ^were now reinforced by a gang of hired brigands, known as 
the company of the " Sabbat," raised by the De Lameths and 
consisting mainly of ItaUans — ^notably Rotondo, Malga, and 
Cavallanti — ^whom we now find mingling in all the revolutionary 
mobs, and committing every form of sanguinary violence.^ In 
the summer of 1790, soon after the Fete de la Federation, Rotondo 
was despatched to St. Cloud to murder the Queen whilst she was 
walking in the garden, and failed only because the rain kept her 
indoors on the day appointed ; ^ again in the following November 
Rotondo and Cavallanti led a mob to pillage the house of the Due 
de Castries, who had wounded one of the De Lameths in a duel. 
At the same time the Due d' Orleans entered into relations with 
another intriguer — Madame de la Motte, famous in the affair of 
the necklace, who now returned to Paris, and occupied a magni- 
ficent hotel in the Place Vendome provided for her by the duke 
in return for fresh Ubels on the Queen.^ 

MeanwhUe, in spite of the fact that he had sworn to maintain 
the Constitution and had placed no obstacles whatever in the 
way of the Assembly, the King was still kept a prisoner by 
Lafayette at the TuUeries in direct violation of the principles 
laid down by the people.* 

It was under these circumstances that Louis XVI. decided 
in desperation to appeal for intervention by foreign powers. At 
the end of October an envoy was despatched to the Marquis de 
Bouille, in command on the frontier, to inform him that " the 
King's position under the gaolership of Lafayette had become 
so intolerable that he contemplated flight to the frontier to one 

^ La Conspiration rSvolutionnaire de ijSg, by Gustave Bord, p. 20 ; 
Le Marquis de St. Huruge, by Henri Furgeot, pp. 192^ 225 ; Crimes et 
F or f aits de L. P. J. d'Orlians dScouverts par un citoyen. 

2 Mimoires de Mme. Campan, p. 276. 

^ MSmoires de Lafayette, iii. 157 ; Correspondance secrete, p. 481. 

* See the Risume of the Cahiers, p. 7, Article II. " The person 
the King is inviolable and sacred," Article XI. " Individual liberty 
sacred." Therefore either as King or subject Louis XVI. could nc 
legally be kept a prisoner, not only without the formality of a trial bi 
without even any reason being given for his detention. 


of the places under Bouille's command, in order to muster around 
him all the troops and also those of his subjects who had remained 
faithful to him, to endeavour to win back the rest of his people 
who had been misled by sedition-mongers, and to seek support 
in the help of his aUies if all other means to re-establish order 
and peace proved unavailing." ^ 

Now since the suggestion contained in this letter of an appeal 
to the King's allies, the Austrians, has been made the chief ground 
of accusation against both Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette, it 
is important to understand their real intentions on this question 
of the " Appel k Tfitranger." No one has explained the matter 
more clearly than M. Louis MadeUn, the historian who best 
represents modem French opinion : 

" Marie Antoinette . . . appears to have thought of this appeal 
to Europe towards the summer of 1790. The idea she entertained 
concerning it — a woman's idea, perfectly childish — ^is still Uttle 
known in general. She dreamt in no way of a counter-revolution 
brought to Paris in the baggage-wagons of the foreigner, but of 
a simple manifestation on the frontiers, by means of which the 
Court would show that they * disapproved of the way the King 
was treated.' The Emperor would mass his troops, make a 
feint of advancing, Louis XVI. would place himself at the head 
of the French army, and Leopold would then retire before his 
brother-in-law, who, aureoled by this victory, would re-enter 
Paris surrounded by the love of an expectant people." 

The plan was futile, however, for the reason that the "friendly " 
sentiments of the European sovereigns to whom this appeal was 
made were outweighed by their political ambitions. " The cause 
of kings ! The cause of dynasties ! " cries M. MadeUn ; " that will 
be said hypocritically in 1792, but the Revolution neither alarms 
nor scandalizes Europe in 1789 and 1790, it is rather a cause for 
rejoicing." All the splendour of old France that had evoked 
the envy and admiration of foreign monarchs was centred not 
only in the Court but in the Capetian dynasty, consequently the 
sight of France, their eternal rival, bleeding in the dust from 
self-inflicted wounds, seemed to these lesser powers no occasion 
for knight-errantry. As to the ties of blood which have been 
represented as binding together the royal famiUes of Europe in 
a confraternity dangerous to the interests of their subjects, their 
feebleness was never better exemplified than in the French 
Revolution, for of all the European sovereigns Leopold II., 
Emperor of Austria, brother to the Queen of France, was perhaps 
the least eager to defend his sister's interests or even to ensure her 
safety, whilst Gustavus III. of Sweden, bound by no ties of kinship, 
alone displayed activity in responding to her appeal. 

* M&moires de BouilU, p. i8i. 


In the case of Frederick William II. of Prussia, it was not 
merely a matter of passive acquiescence in the disorders of France, 
but, as we have already seen, of active co-operation. The intrigue 
of Von der Goltz — ^which we must follow in the pages of Sorel — 
had prospered marvellously since the march on Versailles, for 
he had succeeded in carrying out his Prussian Majesty's in- 
junctions by forming a coaUtion with several of the most in- 
fluential revolutionary leaders, notably the Orleaniste Petion. 
In May of 1790 Frederick WiUiam had written to Von der Goltz 
ordering him " to keep this Petion on the alert, to express the 
satisfaction he (the King) feels at his conduct, and to let them 
know in Berlin whether it would not be expedient to give him 
a pension." ^ 

This letter was followed five months later by the despatch of 
a fresh emissary to France, a certain Jew agitator named Ephraim, 
who arrived in Paris on September 14, 1790, armed with a letter 
from the King of Prussia to Von der Goltz instructing him to put 
Ephraim in touch with the revolutionary leaders and pave his 
way for him : 

" Goltz had been preparing it for a long time. He arranged 
for the admission of the royal go-between with Lafayette, with 
Bamave, with Lameth ; he put him in touch with Petion, Brissot, 
Gensonne, and their friends (i.e. with the future Girondins). 
Ephraim found them full of animosity against Austria and full 
of cordiality towards Prussia, He showed himself still more 
anti- Austrian than any one amongst them, and the cynicism of 
his language with regard to the Queen seemed a certain guarantee 
of the sincerity of his sympathy for France." 

Ephraim then tried to worm his way into the confidence of 
the King's minister, Montmorin, but without success. " * The 
object he put forward,' said Montmorin, ' is a commercial treaty, 
but I have occasion to beheve that his mission extends further 
and that he has been instructed to sound us on a poUtical under- 
standing.' . . . Montmorin had good reasons for distrusting aU 
these Prussian manoeuvres ; Ephraim was playing a very perfidious 
part in Paris. He frequented the clubs and made himself noticed 
by his democratic violence. ' His object,' wrote Montmorin, 
' is to embroil us with the Emperor of Austria, and he thinks that 
in stirring up the pubHc against the Queen he will succeed in this 
more easily. He goes in for underhand deahngs and tries to 
work upon the joumahsts. I am almost certain that he dis- 
tributes money, and I know that he draws large sums from the 
banker.' " ^ 

^ All the following quotations are taken from L' Europe et la Revolutiox 
FrafiQaise, by Albert Sorel, vol. ii. pp. 69, 157. 

' It was his refusal to form an alliance with Prussia at this crisis that 


Montmorin's suspicions were perfectly correct, for on this 
point we have the evidence of contemporaries belonging to 
absolutely opposite parties. Thus the Comte de Fersen, writing 
to Gustavus III. of Sweden on March 8, 1791, states that Ephraim 
has been supplying money to the agents of revolutionary propa- 
ganda — " not long ago he again received 600,000 louis." ^ And 
Camille Desmoulins threw further Hght on the matter in 1793 by 
this significant phrase : '' Is it not a fact aptly brought forward 
by PhiUppeaux that the treasurer of the King of Prussia, in giving 
him an account of the expenses for last year, produces an item 
of six million ecus for corruptions in France ? " ^ In all the 
sordid annals of the Hohenzollems no greater perfidy has ever 
been brought to Ught ; already they had embarked on the 
programme which in our own day they have pursued with un- 
failing success — the engineering of revolution in all those countries 
they wish to subdue. Well might the English Jacobin Miles 
exclaim : " Of all the sceptred miscreants who have dishonoured 
royalty since you and I have perambulated this earth, I know 
of none so base, so mean, so infamous as the present King of 
Prussia. He has authorized his agents throughout Europe to 
commit a kind of general pillage— to cajole and rob all nations." 

For Miles, revolutionary though he was, displayed no smaU 
perspicacity in seeing through the intrigues of certain so-caUed 
democrats, and he was not deceived, as are our visionaries of 
to-day, by protestations of sympathy with the cause of hberty 
emanating from the willing slaves of Prussian despotism. 
*' Some of the German courts," he wrote on March 12, 1791, 
" have emissaries here — all apostles of liberty — preaching equal 

formed the principal charge against Montmorin when he was brought to 
trial by the Girondins two years later. The words in which this accusation 
is conveyed afford clear evidence that the Girondins were acting in the 
interests of Prussia, and throw a curious light on their political morality : 
" It had been assumed," runs the ojfficial report read aloud by the Girondin, 
Lasource, that M. de Montmorin " had not believed in the sincerity of the 
advances made by the Court of Berhn. It was not possible that this Court 
should not have been of good faith, since it (the Court of Berlin !) has been 
so from all time, and that it can only be the natural enemy of that of 
Vienna . . . M. de Montmorin . . . knew that jealousy and rivalry was 
fomenting more than ever between these two Courts, since he knew and 
admitted himself that it was the King of Prussia who had excited and fomented 
by his agents the insurrection of the Belgians and the LiSgeois (against Austria). 
He therefore knew perfectly the attitude of the King of Prussia, and if he 
refused to adopt his views it was not because he doubted his sincerity, but 
because he did not wish for an alliance with that Court. What reproaches. 
Messieurs, has not France to make against this ex-minister ? " {Moniteur, 
xiii. 591). Montmorin was therefore to be condemned as a traitor to France 
because he had refused to form an alliance with a Court that he knew to be 
fomenting sedition in a rival State ! 

^ Le Comte de Fersen et la Cour de France, i. 87. 

* Fragment de VHistoire secrete de la Rivolution, p. 44. 


rights and assuring the giddy multitude that their example will he 
followed by the whole world. Prussia for intrigue takes the lead. 
She pays court to each party as appearances may seem to favour. 
The Tuileries she disregards. All her agents vociferate against 
the house of Austria as plotting with the Queen for the purpose 
of destroying the Revolution." ^ 

The skill with which this intrigue was conducted shows that 
the teachings of Frederick the Great had been laid to heart by 
I his disciples. Frederick had always beheved in the dissemination 
f of democratic doctrines abroad whilst remaining a past master 
in the art of counteracting their influence at home. The rulers 
of the various German states had now more than ever need to 
exercise this talent, for the people of Germany displayed alarming 
symptoms of revolutionary fever. The doctrines of the German 
Illumines that had contributed so powerfully to the revolution 
in France were now making themselves felt in the country that 
gave them birth. Burke, writing in this very year of 1791, 
remarks : "A great revolution is preparing in Germany ; and a 
revolution, in my opinion, hkely to be more decisive upon the 
general fate of nations than that of France itself. ..." 

This revolution, which might have proved the salvation of the 
civilized world by overthrowing the despotism of the Hohenzollerns, 
was averted by the revolution in France. 

The death of Mirabeau in April 1791 removed a formidable 
obstacle from the path of Prussia. The author of The SecreL^ 
History of the Court of Berlin, who had declared that " war is the 
national industry of Prussia," was not the man to be deceived 
by the pacific protestations of Frederick WiUiam's emissaries. 
Mirabeau knew far more than was convenient about the intrigues 
of the Hohenzollerns, and he detested Hertzberg. " That old 
fox," he declared exultingly to Dumouriez, " had only a short 
time to live." ^ 

Four days later Mirabeau himself was dead. The truth of 
the verdict, " Death from natural causes," was never proved 
conclusively, and the Orleanistes were strongly suspected of 
avenging themselves by poison for the defection of their most 
valuable ally. But is it altogether impossible that Ephraina] 
may have been concerned in the matter ? The Jew agitator, [ 
at any rate, played an active part in the tumult that took placej 
a fortnight later when the Orleanistes, once more hoping t< 
achieve the King's death at the hands of the people,^ drove 

^ The Correspondence of William Augustus Miles on the French Revolu^ 
tion, i. 256. 
:..■ * Mimoires de Dumouriez. 

* " The object of the plot was the assassination of the King " {Choderlos 
' de Laclos, by :£niile Dard, p. a86). 


mob to the Tuileries under the pretext of preventing the Royal 
Family from going to St. Cloud for Easter. The same thing had 
been attempted the year before when women were sent to incite 
the crowd to violence, but their efforts had proved unavailing, 
and the King had set forth upon his journey amidst the acclama- 
tions of the Parisians and cries of " Bon voyage au bon Papa ! " ^ 
The revolutionary leaders reaUzed that more potent instruments 
must be employed if they were to bring off their coup. Danton, 
the principal organizer of the movement,^ remained as usual in 
the background, but Laclos disguised as a jockey and SiUery as 
a lackey were recognized amongst the crowd. Again the pro- 
fessional agitators had been summoned — St. Huruge and the 
bloodthirsty members of the Sabbat ; " Malga gorged with gold 
and wine " mingled with the troops, inciting them to murder ; 
Rotondo led the rabble.^ But it was Scdd to be Ephr^m who 
had financed the movement with the funds confided to him by 
his royal master.* 

This outrage finally decided Louis XVI. to carry out his plan 
of flight to the frontier, and on the 20th of June the Royal Family 
set forth on the fatal journey to Montmedy that ended in their 
arrest at Varennes. The Orleanistes immediately seized the 
opportunity to fan up popular fury against the King ; the gutter 
press in their pay poured forth pamphlets describing Louis XVI. 
as legros cochon,^ a besotted drunkard, " a monopoUzer, a swindler, 
a false-coiner, a devourer of men." ^ At the Jacobin Club, Real, 
amidst furious abuse of the Kiag, proposed that the Due d'Orleans 
should be urged to accept the regency."' The duke, who at the 
first news of the King's fUght had driven round Paris with a smile 
on his Hps congratulating himself on his victory, now became 
struck with panic, and exasperated his supporters by pubhshing 
a letter composed for him by Madame de GenHs decUning the 
regency.^ But Laclos, energetic as ever in the cause of his 
royal " proteg^," drew up a petition in collaboration with 
Brissot, demanding the deposition of the King and, in spite of 
the protests of Brissot,^ " his replacement by constitutional 

* Correspondance secrite, p. 450. ly 

2 Danton boasted of this at his trial : "It was I who prevented the 
journey to St. Cloud." See Notes de Topino Lebrun ; also Bulletin du 
Tribunal rivolutionnaire. No. 21822, "Defense de Danton." 

' fimile Dard, op. cit. ; Correspondance secrUe, 523 ; Lettres d'AristO' 
crates, by Pierre de Vaissi^re, p. 291. 

* 6niile Dard, op. cit. 

* Le Nouveau Paris, by Mercier, i. 192. 

* Revolutions de France et de Brabant, by Camille Desmoulins. 
''' Siances des Jacobins for July 3, 1791. \/ 

" M&moires de Mme. de Genlis, iv. 92. 

* Mimoires de Mme. Roland, ii. 285 ; Mimoires de Brissot, iv. 342. 


means " — ^in other words, the substitution of the Due d' Orleans 
for Louis XVI. 

The Orleanistes, however, had over-reached themselves ; 
in degrading the King they had succeeded in degrading the 
monarchy, and now /or the first time the cry of " No more kings ! " 
made itself heard, and the proposal was made that the phrase 
composed by Laclos should be replaced by one demanding the 
abohtion of the monarchy.^ 

This suggestion of a RepubHc, emanating from the Club of 
the CordeUers and a section of Paris entirely under their control 
known as the Theatre Fran9ais,2 met with the support of only 
a few isolated revolutionaries, including Brissot and Condorcet, 
whose Repubhcan convictions were more than doubtful, and was 
violently opposed by the Jacobins, who were mainly Orleanistes. 
Already at a sitting of the Club, immediately after the flight to 
Varennes, a member who ventured to propose a RepubHc had 
been indignantly shouted down,' and the amendment suggested 
by the so-called " RepubUcans " was therefore rejected by the 
Jacobins, and the original proposal of Laclos retained in the 
petition which was to be presented at " the altar of the country " 
erected on the Champ de Mars. 

By means of cajolery, threats, and the dissemination of panic 
news,* some thousands of signatures were obtained in the Fau- 
bourgs — ^principally those of women and children ^ — and early 
in the morning of the day appointed, July 17, 1791, a disorderly 
crowd assembled on the Champ de Mars, and after inaugurating 
the ceremony by the murder of two unoffending citizens — an 
old soldier and a wig-maker, who had taken refuge from the rays 
of the sun beneath the steps of the altar in order to enjoy a frugal 
breakfast ® — proceeded to the usual revolutionary pastime of 
pelting the troops assembled by Lafayette with stones. Where- 
upon Lafayette and Bailly, the mayor, with unwonted firmness, 
hoisted the red flag and proclaimed martial law, but the soldiers, 
exasperated by the pistol shots that now succeeded to the hail 
of stones, without waiting for further orders fired on the rioters 
and killed a number of them.' 

^ Aulard's Siances des Jacobins, iii. 43. ^ Buchez et Roux, x. 145. 

' See Journal des Dehats de la Soci6U des Amis de la Constitution, etc., 
S6ance of July i, 1791. M. Varennes asks whether the throne shall be set 
up again, and whether a monarchic or republican government would be 
best : " Grand bruit, brouhahas " ; the President calls the member to order. 
Also Siance of July 8, 1791, M. Goupil in a speech refers to " the opinions 
that prevail in this society in favour of RepubUcanism." The greatest 
tumult arises at this sentence, and a member reminds the speaker that 
" all this uproar is caused by your attributing to the society sentiments it 
has never entertained. (Universal applause.)" 

* Beaulieu, ii. 540. ^ Ibid. ii. 538. • Ibid. ii. 541. 

' Lafayette was ever after blamed for this so-called " massacre " by 


As in all popular tumults, the display of force brought the 
mob to its senses ; in an instant the whole Champ de Mars was 
swept clear of insurgents, but, what was more important, the 
fusillade had the effect of terrifying the revolutionary leaders. 
The Jacobins, assembled in their Club, hastily escaped by doors 
and windows, and ran for their lives amidst the jeers of the 
populace.^ Brissot, Camille Desmoulins, and Fr6ron " dis- 
appeared " ; ^ Marat betook himself once more to a cellar ; ^ 
Robespierre, trembUng in every limb, hurriedly changed his 
lodgings ; * Danton fled to the country, and thence to England ; ^ 
whilst Hebert, the terrible Pere Duchesne, who for once had 
ventured out into a popular tumult and heard the bullets of the 
soldiery whisthng past his ears, never recovered from his fright : 
" It seems," says his biographer, M. d'Estr^e, " that every time his 
pamphlets mention this fusillade . . . they sweat anguish ; and 
this terror doubles his ferocity."^ At the same time the Jew 
Ephraim, openly accused by RoyaUst writers of financing 
seditious libels and plotting the death of the Queen, was arrested 
and imprisoned for two days in the Abbaye, after which he was 
sent back to Prussia and we hear of him no more.'' 

The tumult, described henceforth by revolutionary writers 
as " the massacre of the Champ de Mars," was, moreover, not 
the only check received by the Orleaniste faction at this crisis ; 
a more serious reverse was the defection of several of the most 
influential Orleaniste leaders. Bamave, who with Petion had 
been sent to escort the Royal Family on the terrible return journey 
from Varennes, had been won over by the sight of the Queen's 

the revolutionary leaders ; Bailly paid for it with his life. Yet it is certain 
that Lafayette did everything in his power to restrain the indignation of 
the troops. See Beaulieu, ii. 543, and the evidence of Gouverneur Morris, 
who was an eye-witness of the scene : " To be paraded through the streets 
through the scorching sun, and then stand like hohday turkeys to be 
knocked down by brickbats, was a little more than they (the troops) had 
the patience to bear ; so that without waiting for orders they fired and 
killed a dozen or two of the ragged regiment. The rest ran off like lusty 
fellows," etc. {Diary and Letters of Gouverneur Morris, i. 434). L 

^ Beaulieu, ii. 545. 

2 Histoire des Girondins, by Granier de Cassagnac, i. 330 ; La Tribune 
des Patriotes, by Prudhomme ; Revolutions de France, by Camille Des- 
mouhns. No. 86 ; Camille Desmoulins, by fidouard Fleury, i. 230. 

' Camille Desmoulins, by fidouard Fleury, i. 227 : " The terror of 
Marat seems to have begun the day after the flight (to Varennes), when 
he was overcome by panic lest Louis XVI. should return at the head of an 
army and put him ' in a hot oven.' " See L'Ami du Peuple, No. 497. 

* MSmoires de Mme. Roland, i. 65, 209, 210 and note. Robespierre's 
terror also began at the flight to Varennes {ibid. p. 204). 

'^ Danton Emigre, by Dr. Robinet, p. 24. 

" Le Pere Duchesne, by Paul d'Estree, p. 61. 

' Le Marquis de St. Huruge, by Henry Furgeot, p. 233. 


courage and suffering, and henceforth this most truculent of 
revolutionaries had no thought but to devote himself to the cause 
of the woman he admired and pitied so profoundly. On his 
arrival in Paris he succeeded in detaching a number of other 
members from the Orleaniste conspiracy ; amongst these were 
Le Chapelier, Adrien Duport, Alexandre de Lameth, the Vicomte 
de Noailles, Muguet de Nantou, and the Due de Liancourt. 
This party now joined itself to Bailly and Lafayette in support 
of the King and the Constitution.^ 

The most dangerous agitators having thus been either in- 
timidated or won over, the Revolution was once more brought 
to a standstill — most contemporaries indeed beHeved that it 
had finally ended. ^ 

The truth is that by this time the people were heartily sick 
of the Revolution, which had not only brought them perpetual 
unrest and alarms, but had created the serious problem of un- 
employment. " The ill effects of the Revolution," wrote Arthur 
Young in 1792, " have been felt more severely by the manu- 
facturers of the kingdom than by any other class of the people. 
. . . This effect, which was absolute death by starving many 
thousands of families, was a result that, in my opinion, might 
have been avoided. It flowed only from carrying things to ex- 
tremities — from driving the nobiUty out of the kingdom and 
seizing, instead of regulating, the whole regal authority." 

For the revolutionaries of 1789, like certain Socialists of 
to-day, whose one idea is to clear the ground of all existing 
conditions, had never paused to consider what manner of social 
edifice could be constructed on the ruins, and the result of 
destroying, impoverishing, or putting to flight the wealthy and 
leisured classes had been simply to dislocate the whole industrial 
system and to ruin agriculture. For this reason the democrats 
of 1789 had become the aristocrats of 1792, and it was no longer 
only the nobles who cursed the Revolution but the farmers, 
the manufacturers, and the industrious bourgeois who three years 
earlier had hailed " the dawn of liberty," and now found them- 

^ Montjoie, Conjuration de d'Orlians, iii. 139 ; Beaulieu, ii. 530 ; 
Mimoires de Mme. de Campan, p. 294. Fersen thought that this party 
only went over to the King out of self-interest, and neither he nor the 
Queen trusted them {Le Comte de Fersen et la Cour de France, ii. 7, 213). 
Marie Antoinette has been bitterly reproached for this, but when we 
remember their former record — Barnave's attitude to the murder of 
FouUon, the raising of the " Compagnie du Sabbat " by the De Lameths, 
and the infamous part they had all played in the former insurrections — it 
is not altogether surprising. 

2 It should be noticed that this reaction set in before the King's final 
acceptance of the Constitution on September 13, 179 1. M. Louis Madehn 
{La Revolution, p. 187) says that from August i to October i it was the 
general opinion that the Revolution was over. 


selves sharing the fate of the class they had been so eager to 

With the employers of labour the workers suffered to an even 
greater degree. All the hands that had ministered to the needs 
or caprices of the rich were now idle — embroiderers, fan-makers, 
upholsterers, gilders, carriage-builders, bookbinders, engravers, 
wandered aimlessly through the streets of Paris; 3000 tailors' 
apprentices, the same number of shoemakers and barbers, 4000 
domestic servants collected in crowds to deliberate on the misery 
of their condition. ^ 

To add to their hardships the insurrection, encouraged by 
the revolutionaries in San Domingo, had checked the import of 
colonial supplies, consequently " the carpenter, the locksmith, 
the mason, and the market porter no longer have their morning 
coffee and milk, and every morning they grumble at the thought 
that the reward of their patriotism is an increase of privations." ^ 

But whilst in the great upheaval many of the people had been 
brought down to the depths of misery, a few had risen to the 
height of prosperity and had become the oppressors of the poor. 
When in June 1791 bands of working-men appealed to Marat for 
protection against their employers, it was against the masters 
who had been working-men themselves that their complaints 
were chiefly directed,^ and against whom they could obtain no 
redress, for the Assembly with all its professed respect for the 
'* sovereignty of the people " habitually displayed complete 
indifference to practical schemes of social reform.^ In the 

^ " Doubtless there were French farmers who rejoiced at the spectacle 
of all the great properties of the kingdom being levelled by the nation ; 
they did not, however, foresee that it would be their own turn next ; that 
the principle of equality being once abroad, would infallibly level all 
property " (Arthur Young, The Example of France, p. 33). 

' Taine, La Revolution, iii. 136. 

» Ibid. V. 236. 

* See this petition in Buchez et Roux, x. 196, where the worst offenders 
are specified by the workmen in such terms as " day-labourer now enriched 
with 50,000 livres of income," or " who arrived in Paris in sabots and now 
possess four fine houses." 

• See, for example, the laws passed on June 14, 1791, suppressing 
"coalitions of workmen" — i.e. trades unions — in the following terms: 
" Article ist. The annihilation of all kinds of corporations of citizens 
belonging to the same state or profession being one of the fundamental 
bases of the French constitution, it is forbidden to re-estabhsh them on 
any pretext or under any form whatsoever." The workmen were further 
forbidden to " name presidents, keep registers, make resolutions, deliberate 
or draw up regulations on their pretended common interests," or to agree 
on any fixed scale of wages. These resolutions were passed almost without 
discussion and without a word of protest from Robespierre or any of the 
other so-called democrats of the Assembly (Buchez et Roux, x. 196) ; in 
fact, they were enforced with still greater severity later on under the reign 
of Robespierre. See the edicts passed by the Comity de Salut Public on 


matter of the administration of justice throughout the country 
the revolutionary government had shown itself equally incapable, 
and the httle lawyers now in power, " proud of finding themselves 
invested with the authority of the old poUce, exercised the most 
vexatious tyranny, pronounced arbitrary verdicts, and ordered 
citizens to be arrested and imprisoned on the feeblest pretext. 
Men and women were torn from their beds on the erratic order 
of a president of the district. . . ." ^ 

In a word, the condition of the country had become perfectly 
chaotic ; no one could feel any security either for their persons 
or their property, and the universal desire was now for a return 
to law and order. The revolutionary leaders were clever enough 
to turn this popular unrest to their own advantage; all their 
troubles, they told the people, would end when the King had 
finally accepted the Constitution, which was now approaching 
completion, but they were careful to insinuate that the King 
was entirely opposed to the principles it contained. This was, 
of course, absolutely untrue; Louis XVI. had throughout con- 
curred with every true reform, and had already accepted the 
principles of the Constitution as expressed by the cahiers, but he 
had made no secret of the fact that he did not approve of the 
superstructure erected by the Assembly, which not only deprived 
him of the authority accorded to him by the unanimous will of 
the people, but which he held to be directly opposed to the 
interests of the people themselves. As a matter of fact the 
Constitution, in its finished form, was a mass of contradictions ; 
it was neither democratic nor autocratic, neither repubhcan 
nor monarchic, and consequently satisfied neither RoyaUsts nor 
revolutionaries. " To tell the truth," Camille Desmoulins 
openly declared at the Jacobin Club, " there has been such a 
confusion of plans, and so many people have worked at it in 
contrary directions, that it is a veritable Tower of Babel." ^ 

It was this Tower of Babel that Louis XVI. has been bitterly 
reproached for criticizing. But by September 1791 the time 
had gone by for criticism ; every remonstrance, however reason- 
able, made by the King met only with insolence from the 
revolutionary factions in the Assembly, and Louis XVI. now 
reaUzed that he must either accept the Constitution in its entirety 
or provoke another revolution. He decided, therefore, to accept 
it unconditionally, leaving it to the people to find out its imper- 
fections for themselves. It is this that revolutionary historians 

the 22nd of Frimaire, An II., quoted by Aulard, Etudes et Legons sur la 
Rivolution Frangaise, iv. 51. 

^ Memoires de Ferrieres, iii. 204. 

* " Discours sur la Situation politique de la Nation du 21 Octobre 
1791," Aulard's Stances des Jacobins, iii. 208. 


describe as the King's " duplicity in the matter of the Con- 
stitution " — " he was not sincere," they write, "in his accept- 
ance." Now the precise attitude of the King towards the 
Constitution, and also towards the question of the appeal to 
foreign powers, is explained in a long and confidential letter that 
he wrote to his brothers at this date, of which the most important 
passages must be quoted verbatim : 

" You have no doubt been informed," Louis XVI. wrote to 
the Comte de Provence and the Comte d'Artois, " that I have 
accepted the Constitution, and you know the reasons that I gave 
to the Assembly, but these must not suffice for you ; I wish to 
make known to you all my motives. The state of France is such 
that she is on the verge of complete dissolution, which will only 
be hastened if one wishes to bring violent remedies to bear on 
the ills that overwhelm her. The party spirit that divides her 
and the destruction of all authority are the causes of her trouble. 
Divisions must be made to cease and authority re-estabUshed, 
but for this purpose only two means are possible — union or force. 
Force can only be employed by foreign armies, and this means 
having recourse to war. Can a King allow himself to carry war 
into his own States ? Is not the remedy worse than the disease ? 
... I have therefore concluded that this idea must be abandoned, 
and that I must try the only other means left me — ^the union of 
my will with the principles of the Constitution. I feel all the 
difficulties of governing so great a nation. I might say I feel 
its impossibUity, but any obstacle I had placed in the way would 
have caused the war I was anxious to avoid, and would have 
prevented the people from judging of the Constitution, because 
they would have seen nothing but my constant opposition. By 
adopting their ideas and following them in all good faith they 
will learn the cause of their troubles ; public opinion will change ; 
and since without this change one can hope for nothing but 
fresh convulsions, I shall bring about a better order of things by 
my acceptance than by my refusal. ... I wished to let you know 
the motives for my acceptance, so that your conduct should be 
in accord with mine. Your attachment to me and your wisdom 
should make you renounce dangerous ideas that I do not adopt. 
... I was just finishing this letter when I received the one you 
sent me . . . [the two princes had written refusing to recognize 
the King's acceptance of the Constitution]. You cannot believe 
how much this action has pained me. I was already much 
grieved at the Comte d'Artois going to the Conference of Pilnitz 
without my consent, but I will not reproach you, my heart 
cannot bring itself to do so. I will only point out to you that 
in acting independently of me, he thwarts my plans as I disconcert 
his. ... I have already told you that the people endured all their 


privations because they have always been assured that these 
would end with the Constitution. It is only two days since it 
was finished, and you expect that already their mind is changed. 
I have the courage to accept it, so as to give the nation time to 
experience that happiness with which it has been deluded, and 
you wish me to renounce this useful experience ! Sedition- 
mongers have always prevented it from judging of their work 
by talking to it incessantly of the obstacles I placed in the way 
of its execution ; instead of taking from them this last resource, 
would you serve their fury by having me accused of carrying 
war into my kingdom ? You flatter yourselves to outwit them 
by declaring that you are marching in spite of me, but how can 
one persuade them of this when the declaration of the Emperor 
and the King of Prussia was occasioned at your request ? Will 
it ever be believed that my brothers do not carry out my orders ? 
Thus you will show me to the nation as accepting (the Constitu- 
tion) with the one hand and soUciting foreign powers with the 
other. What upright man could respect such conduct, and do 
you think to help me by depriving me of the esteem of all right- 
thinking people ? " 

It is precisely this tortuous conduct, so strongly deprecated 
by the King, which has been attributed to him by the conspiracy 
of history, and represented to posterity as the cause of the 
second Revolution. " Louis XVI.," we are told, " accepted the 
Constitution without any intention of maintaining it, and whilst 
at the same time soUciting foreign intervention by force of 
arms.*' The truth — ^which no revolutionary writer has ever 
been able to disprove — is that, in the words of Bertrand de 
MoUeville, from the moment of his acceptance of the Constitution 
" the King never varied a single instant from the resolution of 
faithfully executing the Constitution by every means in his 
power " ; that far from inviting foreign aggression he wrote at 
the same moment to the Emperor of Austria begging him to 
refrain from further intervention, and Leopold, only too thankful 
to abandon the campaign, formally undertook to interfere no 
further in the affairs of France.^ 

All was now peace, and the King's acceptance of the Con- 
stitution provoked a wild burst of popular enthusiasm. 

Writers who represent the flight to Varennes as having 
finally lost the King the affection of his people entirely disregard 
the unanimous evidence of contemporaries that two or three 

^ " Leopold had no intention of entering upon hostiliti'^s, and found a 
loophole by which to escape from declaring war in the acceptance by 
Louis XVI. of the completed Constitution on 21st September 1791. He 
then solemnly withdrew his pretensions to interfere in the internal affairs 
of France" {Revolutionary Europe, by H. Morse-Stephens, p. 103). 


months after that fateful journey not only the King but the 
Queen were more popular than ever.^ When they appeared in 
pubUc the people pursued them with " Bravos ! " At the opera 
the Queen was greeted, particularly by the women, with frantic 
enthusiasm and cries of " Vive la Reine ! " In the streets a 
new popular refrain was heard : 

Not' bon Roi 

A tout fait 

Et not' bonne Reine 

Qu'elle eut de la peine ! 

Enfin les v'la 

Hors d'embarras ! 

The attempt of the deputies at the new Legislative Assembly 
to insult the King by keeping on their hats when he entered the 
hall, and by depriving him of his titles of honour, met with violent 
remonstrance from the people. " On Saturday at the comedy," 
writes a contemporary, " the people in the crowds around the 
door cried out, ' Long Uve the King and Queen ! Give us back 
our noblesse who provided us with a hving, our clergy and our 
courts ! ' And in the theatre they cried, ' Vive Sire,' and * Sa 
Majeste,' and a patriot who called out ' Vive la Nation ' was 
roughly handled, dragged outside, and ducked in the gutter. 
At the Assembly the deputies were grievously insulted and called 
ragamuffins (va-nu-pieds) , and this because, by a decree which 
they were forced to revoke the next day, they had deprived the 
King of the name of Sire and the title of * Majeste,' of the chair 
of honour at the Assembly, and finally of precedence to the 
President." ^ 

The King, overjoyed at the renewed understanding between 
himself and his people, wrote thankfully : " The end of the 
Revolution has arrived ; may the nation resume its happy 
character ! " 

What need was there for further agitations ? The fear of 
foreign aggression had been finally removed, all the demands of 
the nation had been satisfied, and the only cause for popular 
discontent was not that the Revolution had not gone far enough, 
but that it had gone too far. 

1 Prudhomme, Revolutions de Paris, ix. 570 ; Journal d'un ^tudiant, 
by Gaston Maugras, p. 166; Madelin, p. 186; The Journal of Mary 
Frampton, letter from James Frampton dated October 2, 1791 : " You 
cannot conceive how ridiculous it is to hear the amazing popularity of the 
King at present." Also letter in same volume from G. B. WoUaston on 
October 12, 1791. 

* Letter from M. Fougeret to M. Lecoy de la Marche, October 10, 1791, 
in Lettres d'Aristocrates, by Pierre de Vaissi^re, p. 413 ; Diary and Letters 
of Gouverneur Morris, i. 462. 


Why, then, did a second Revolution occur ? For one reason 
only — ^that the factions were resolved to overthrow the King 
and Constitution. Far more than at the beginning of the first 
Revolution were the aims of the revolutionaries opposed to those 
of the people. Then the nation had unanimously demanded a 
change in the government, and for a time the work of revolution 
and of reformation had run concurrently; now the two were 
diametrically opposed, for the people had no further grievance, 
the existing order of things had been framed according to their 
will, and therefore the attempt to overthrow it was a deUberate 
and criminal conspiracy against the will and the Hberties of the 

In order to understand the manner in which this conspiracy 
was carried on, it is necessary to form some idea of the elements 
that composed the National Assembly at the beginning of 1792. 

Now when, on the completion of the Constitution in September 
1 791, the Constituent Assembly was dissolved, all its members — 
that is to say all the men who had framed the great reforms in 
the government — ^were, on the proposal of Robespierre, precluded 
from sitting in the Legislative Assembly that followed. This 
measure, which excluded Robespierre himself, was less of a self- 
denying ordinance than might at first appear, for by 1791 it was 
no longer the Assembly that governed France but the Jacobin 
Club, of which Robespierre was a leading member. This associa- 
tion, which started as the Club Breton at Versailles in 1789, where, 
as we have seen, the partisans of the Due d'Orleans forgathered, 
had moved to Paris after the 6th of October, and installed itself 
in the Dominican convent in the Rue Saint-Honore, commonly 
known as the Jacobins, because the principal convent of the order 
was in the Rue Saint- Jacques. It was here that under the name 
of " Friends of the Constitution " a revolutionary centre was 
inaugurated, and before long the Jacobins, as they were popularly 
known, had started branches of the club in the towns and villages 
L' all over France. By this means, at a signal from headquarters, 
insurrections could be organized, or addresses purporting to come 
from the inhabitants of country districts could be drawn up and 
sent to Paris by the agents of the society. 

Nothing in the history of the Revolution is more surprising 
than the skill with which this system was carried out. The 
French as a nation are notoriously unmethodical, and the fall of 
the Old Regime may be largely attributed to its lack of organiza- 
tion. Whence, then, this talent for organization displayed by 
the revolutionary leaders alone ? Robison, in his Proofs of a 
Conspiracy, supphes the key to the problem. The earlier re- 
volutionary leaders were, as we have seen, the disciples of the 
German Illumines, and it was they who initiated them into the 


art of forming political committees " to carry through the great 
plan of a general overturning of religion and government. . . . 
These committees arose from the Illuminati in Bavaria . . . and 
these committees produced the Jacobin Club." " The chief 
lesson," Robison goes on to observe, that the revolutionary 
leaders took from Germany, " was the method of doing business, 
of managing their own correspondence, and of procuring and 
training pupils." These propaganda were very systematically 
carried out amongst the people, and in the confidential memo- 
randa sent out from headquarters was an " earnest exhortation 
to establish in every quarter secret schools of political education, 
and schools for the public education of the children of the people, 
under the direction of well-principled masters," of masters, 
that is to say, who would inculcate in their pupils a contempt 
for all religion and all government. 

The Germans, as we to-day have reason to know, are past 
masters in the art of disseminating lying propaganda and of 
duping the uneducated classes, and the fact that the Jacobins 
of France were their disciples explains the extraordinary re- 
semblance between the methods of the French revolutionary 
leaders and those of the German leaders in the recent war. 
Thus the plan of committing atrocities and then attributing 
them to one's enemies, of justifying aggression by the plea that 
one was acting merely in self-defence, of announcing sinister 
designs on the part of one's own intended victim, is a form of 
Jesuitry pecuUar to the German mind, and this was throughout 
the plan of the French revolutionaries. Whenever they con- 
templated an attack upon the King, an alarm was circulated 
that the King was meditating a massacre of the people ; the 
unarmed citizens, the unoffending priests, the women and 
children who perished, were invariably " conspirators " harbour- 
ing dark designs, and with such skill were these propaganda 
carried out as to deceive not only ignorant contemporaries but 
educated posterity. 

By means of this German system of propaganda the Assembly 
ceased to be democratic — that is to say, it ceased to be the 
expression of the people's will. In 1789 the people had chosen 
their own representatives at the Constituent Assembly ; in 1791 
the deputies of the I.egislative Assembly were the choice of the 
Jacobin Club. " This society," says Dumouriez, " extending 
everywhere its numerous affiliations, made use of the provincial 
clubs to make itself master of the elections. All the cranks, all 
the seditious scribblers, all the agitators were chosen to go and 
represent the nation, ' to defend its interests,' it was said, ' against 
a perfidious court.' Very few wise or enhghtened men, still 
fewer nobles, were chosen, and the National Assembly, thus 


composed, assembled armed with prejudices and hostile views 
against the unfortunate Louis and his court. It began by 
* adoring ' the Constitution so as to establish itself securely. . . ."^ 

Prudhomme, a more consistent democrat than most revolu- 
tionary writers, endorses this description : " This new body did 
not include the three castes that existed in the Constituent 
Assembly, it was almost half composed of lawyers who had 
thrown themselves into the Revolution, as we shall see, rather 
for personal interests than for love of their country or of 
Liberty." ^ " These men showed very Httle attachment to the 
Constitution they had sworn to defend " ; amongst them all 
Prudhomme could only mention two " who having received 
powers from their constituents for the maintenance of the royal 
charter . . . had the courage " — and we might add the honesty — 
" to carry out their instructions." ^ 

Under these circumstances the King's situation was hopeless 
from the outset. What could avail his resolution to maintain 
the Constitution when all the leaders of the new Assembly, with 
the Jacobins at their back, were secretly conspiring to overthrow 
both it and him ? A further complication lay in the fact that 
these leaders were all divided in their aims, and the Jacobin Club 
itself was rent by the disputes of opposing factions. 


In order to understand the causes that led up to the Revolu- 
tion of 1792, it is important to form some idea of the poHcy that 
inspired each of these factions, yet nothing is more difficult, 
since their avowed opinions not only varied perpetually, but in 
no way coincided with their secret aims. Afterwards, when the 
Repubhc had become an established fact, all the leading revolu- 
tionaries declared they had been Republicans from the beginning, 
but until that date they not only refrained from admitting to 
such opinions but indignantly disavowed them. 

If these men were not Republicans, what, then, were they ? 
As far as it is possible to form any conclusion from their ambiguous 
and conflicting statements, the policy of these factions may be 
broadly indicated as follows : 

I. The Cordeliers, who took their name from the church of the 
Cordelier monks where they first held their sittings, were led by 
Danton, and included Marat, Camille Desmouhns, Hebert — the 
Pere Duchesne — and the Prussian Clootz. According to Beaulieu 
their sympathies were divided between Orleanism and anarchy.* 
Several of these men, as we have seen, had begun their revolu- 

1 M^moires de Dumouriez, ii. 117. '^ Crimes de la Revolution, iv. i. 
8 Ihid. iv. 213. * Beaulieu, iii. 192. 



tionary career as minor instruments of the Orl6aniste conspiracy, 
and now, owing to the defection of the duke's aristocratic allies, 
they had risen from the position of mere mob-orators to that of 
influential politicians. Yet their allegiance to the Due d'0rl6ans 
was evidently spasmodic ; thus in 1791 we find Marat " blessing 
Heaven for the gift of Louis XVI.," a little later clamouring for a 
" military dictator," then in the following year publicly demand- 
ing 15,000 francs from the Due d'Orl^ans for the printing of his 
pamphlets, and all the while crying out for " heads " and yet 
"more heads" with dreary reiteration. Desmoulins, after the 
temporary lapse, when, according to Bouille, he was bought over 
to the Court by Lafayette,^ had returned to the Orleanistes, and 
showed himself indefatigable in writing furious abuse now of 
Louis XVL, now of his enemies the Brissotins. Danton, less 
sanguinary than Marat and less vitrioUc than Desmouhns, was, 
however, more venal than either. Essentially a man of pleasure, 
he displayed all the bonhomie of the spendthrift and voluptuary 
when his desires were satisfied, all the fury of thwarted passion 
when lack of funds necessitated self-denial. And at first the 
Revolution had proved disappointing. Reduced to living on a 
louis a week, allowed him by his father-in-law — a prosperous 
limonadier — at the beginning of 1789, his activities as an Orleaniste 
agitator had brought him only a comfortable competence by the 
end of the year.^ But a comfortable competence was of no use 
to Danton, and 1791 found him once more deeply in debt. 

At this juncture Louis XVI. allowed himself to be persuaded 
by his minister, Montmorin, to negotiate with Danton, in the 
hope of " moderating his anarchic fury and his guilty intrigues." ^ 
Danton accepted the King's money, invested part of it in a large 
property at Arcis-sur-Aube,* carried a few useless motions in 
the King's favour at the Cordeliers, and then returned to his true 
affinity, the Due d'Orleans. Danton was probably the most 
sincere Orleaniste of all ; henceforth we shall find him constantly 

^ Mimoires de BouilU, i. 185. See also Mirabeau's note {Correspondance 
entre Mirabeau et le Comte de la Mavck, ii. 68), in which he says of Des- 
moulins, " this man is very accessible to money." Barbaroux declared that 
Desmoulins " received indiscriminately from aristocrats and patriots alike " 
for the opinions he expressed in his journal {MSmoires de Barbaroux, p. 9). 

* MSmoires de Mme. Roland, i. 333. 

' MSmoires de Lafayette, iii. 85. On the venality of Danton and his 
payment by the Court contemporary evidence is overwhelming. See, for 
example, Beaulieu, iii. 10 ; Bertrand de MoUeville, i. 354 ; MSmoires de 
Brissot, iv. 193 ; Correspondance entre Mirabeau et le Comte de la March, 
iii. 82 ; also summing up by Taine, La RSvolution, v. 317, and by Louis 
Blanc, Histoire de la RSvolution, x, 409. 

* Danton, aware that the acquisition of this property had excited sus- 
picions of his integrity, explained to the Commune that it was only an 
obscure farmhouse bought with the sum paid him in compensation for his 



attached to the interests of the duke, possibly for little or no 
remuneration; but since, in the influential posts he occupied 
successively, his hand was in every till, he could afford to dispense 
with this tangible recognition of his services. 

As for the Republicanism professed by the Cordeliers on the 
one occasion of the petition at the Champ de Mars, we can dis- 
cover no further trace of it in their speeches and writings during 
the year that followed. On the contrary, three months later 
we find Camille Desmoulins indignantly protesting against the 
imputation of Republicanism. " Let no one slander me again ; 
let no one say that I preach the Republic, and that kings should 
be done away with. Those who recently called us Repubhcans 
and the enemies of kings, so as to defame us in the opinion of 
imbeciles, were not acting in good faith ; they well knew that we 
are not ignorant enough to make out liberty to consist in having 
no King." ^ 

Later we find Danton declaring to Lafayette : '* General, 
I am more a monarchist than you are ! " and Marat, at the very 
moment that the RepubUc is inaugurated, passionately warning 
his fellow-countrymen of the disasters that must attend it : 
" Fifty years of anarchy await you, and you will only come out 
of it with a dictator ! " 

II. The Brissotins, later to be known as the Girondins — by 
which name, to avoid confusion, it is simpler to refer to them — 
were, like the Cordehers, led by a member of the Orleaniste 
conspiracy. It was with Brissot, as we have seen earUer in this 
book, that the idea of a " second Fronde," with the Due d'0rl6ans 
at its head, had first originated, whilst Buzot, Potion, Servan, 
and Claviere had all taken an active part in the Revolution of 
1789. But with the advent of the deputies of the Gironde — 
Vergniaud, Guadet, Gensonne, Ducos, and Fonfrede — at the 
Legislative Assembly, a new element was introduced into the 
faction, and a variety of aims arose which all consisted not in a 
change of government but only in a change of king. Amongst 
the candidates proposed was still the Due d'Orleans, but other 
members of the faction — notably Dumouriez — preferred his son 

post as solicitor to the King's Council which was now aboUshed (Beaulieu, 
iii. 198). But M. Lenotre reveals that the " farmhouse " was " almost a 
chateau " in a park of approximately 27 acres (see Paris rSvolutionnaire, 
p. 260), and the MSmoires de Lafayette explain the transaction to which 
Danton referred in these words : " Danton had sold himself on condition 
that he should be paid 100,000 livres for his post of solicitor to the council 
which since its suppression was worth only 10,000 livres. The King's 
present was therefore of 90,000 livres. . . . Danton was ready to sell 
himself to all parties " {MSmoires de Lafayette, iii. 85). 

^ " Discours sur la Situation poUtique de la Nation du 21 Octobre 1791," 
Aulard's SSances des Jacobins, iii. 206. 


the Due de Chartres; others, again, suggested deposing Louis 
XVI. and placing the Dauphin on the throne, with members of 
their own party to exercise the power of regency. But the most 
outrageous scheme of all was one on which the conspiracy of 
history has remained discreetly silent, for nothing is more dis- 
creditable to the Revolution. It will be remembered that 
amongst the revolutionary leaders approached by Frederick 
WiUiam's emissary, the Jew Ephraim, were the principal members 
of this faction — Brissot, Petion, Gensonne, and their friends — 
and so successful were the efforts of Ephraim that a definitely 
pro -German party was formed amongst them, of which the 
policy was to consist not merely in breaking the alliance between 
France and Austria, but in placing a prince of German origin on 
the throne of France. 

This prince was to be either the Duke of York, son of George 
III. of England, or the celebrated Duke of Brunswick, the future 
signatory of the famous Manifesto, who had long been revered 
by the exponents of " democracy " in France. 

That this plan was seriously entertained by certain of the 
Girondins, and played an important part in the Revolution of 
1792, cannot be doubted, from the evidence of authorities so 
divergent in their political bias as Montjoie, Prudhomme, CamiUe 
DesmouUns, and St. Just ; ^ we shall, in fact, find reference to 
it in the works of nearly all contemporaries — several of the 
Girondins actually admitted it themselves.^ 

The Duke of York seems to have been the candidate first 
entertained by this party, and, as it was further suggested to 
marry him to Mile. d'Orleans, the scheme appealed particularly 
to those Girondins who had retained a sympathy for the Orleaniste 
cause. Brissot, who had married one of MUe. d'Orleans' maids, 
was no doubt influenced by this connection in favour of the 
project. It was apparently for the purpose of effecting this 
change of dynasty that Petion was sent to London in the autumn 
of 1791 with MUe. d'Orleans and her governess, Madame de Sillery 

1 Montjoie, Conjuration de d' Orleans, iii. 204 ; Prudhomme, Revolutions 
de Paris, xiii. 526. See also Deux Amis, viii. 93 ; Mimoires de Barire, ii. 
45. The statements of CamiUe DesmouUns and St. Just wiU be given later 
in this book. 

2 BeauUeu records that early in 1793, when the Brissotins began to 
find themselves falling under the power of Robespierre, General Wimpfen 
came upon Petion and Buzot, who were engaged in conversation. " Well," 
he said to them, " so this Republic that you wish to establish in the Con- 
stituent Assembly is now putting you in a great fix." " I," repUed Buzot, 
" never wished for a Republic in France ; its size and the character of its 
inhabitants are opposed to the establishment of such a form of govern- 
ment*" " What do you want, then ? " "A change of dynasty." " But 
whom would you choose ? " "A prince of the royal house of England." 
{Essais de Beaulieu, v. 192.) 


(alias Madame de Genlis), who had throughout played an insidious 
part in the Orleaniste conspiracy. In the Correspondance secrHe, 
under the date of November 26, 1791, we find a significant 
reference to this journey : 

"... a new plan hovers over Republicanism, and has taken 
birth in the midst of the Jacobins. It consists, in the event of 
the deposition of Louis XVI., in caUing to the throne a son 
of the King of England, on the condition that he upholds the 
Revolution against those who wish to destroy it. It seems that 
this project was the reason for the journey that M. Petion made 
to England, where he concerted with the ' Society of Friends of 
the Revolution of 1688.' ^ It has, we are assured, been warmly 
taken up by the Protestants and RepubUcans of our southern 

It will be seen, therefore, that in England it was not, as in 
Prussia, with the Government that the revolutionary intrigues 
were conducted, but with the opponents of the Government — 
the EngUsh Jacobins. The Duke of York himself does not appear 
to have been consulted in the matter, and, as we shall see later, 
the plot was indignantly denounced by George III. when it came 
to his ears. By the beginning of 1792 this plan for a change of 
dynasty had matured sufficiently for a member of the conspiracy 
to propose it publicly at a Seance of the Jacobins. The member 
who acted as the mouthpiece of the party was a certain Jean 
Louis Carra, who had undergone two years' imprisonment for 
robbing a widow. One of the most furious enemies of Louis XVI., 
Carra had long been an ardent admirer of German royal person- 
ages, and in 1783 had received from Frederick the Great the 
present of a gold and enamelled snuff-box set with pearls, in recog- 
nition of " the reiterated proofs " he had given his Prussian 
Majesty "of his attachment." ^ The idea of a German King, 
even of the anglicized variety, was therefore naturally pleasing 
to Carra, and on the 4th of January he ascended the tribune of 
the Jacobin Club and definitely suggested dethroning Louis XVI. 
in favour of the Duke of York.^ The speech met with a remon- 

1 See the description given by Petion in his discourse to the Jacobin 
Club on November 18, 1791, of the " flattering reception " given him by 
the " Friends of the Revolution " in England. Several members of the 
Society wore the tricolour badge, a tricolour flag decorated the ceiUng of 
the hall, and the band played the " ^a ira ! " 

2 Prdcis de la Defense de Carra, p. 17. 

^ This proposal is so discreditable to the Jacobins that it is suppressed 
in the report of their debates. The Journal des Dehats records the incident 
in the following words : " M. Carra ascends the tribune where he deUvers 
a discourse on the object of the war. . . . Certain propositions which 
do not seem in accord with the principles of the Constitution arouse 
the attention of M. Danton, and at his motion the orator is called to 


strance from Danton, and Carra was called to order, but in a 
manner that did not deter him from repeating his proposal five 
days later in print.^ Moreover, in Danton's rebuke we can 
distinguish none of that thunderous eloquence with which he is 
popularly supposed to have denounced the enemies of his country. 
" Audacity and yet more audacity " might be necessary in order 
to subdue the supporters of the French throne, but the mildest 
tones of remonstrance sufficed him when it was merely a matter 
of handing that throne over bodily to the foreigner. Possibly 
in Carra's suggestion Danton saw more an indiscretion than a 
flagrant betrayal of his country, for the truth is that Danton 
himself did not hesitate to make use of foreign intervention when 
it could serve his interests, and he was just now engaged in an 
intrigue with precisely the same party in England as that ap- 
proached by Petion and supported by Carra. " Danton," says 
his panegyrist. Dr. Robinet, " at first had hopes of Germany, 
where he counted on the influence of the adversaries of the 
Austro-Prussian aUiance, but it was the EngUsh Opposition that 
formed his most serious support." ^ 

When, after the riot of the Champ de Mars, Danton fled to 
England, he had taken the opportunity to carry out a poUtical 
mission. The main object of this mission was to obtain the 
neutrality of England in the war that the French revolutionaries 
hoped to bring about with Austria, and Danton, who knew 
England well, was instructed to enUst the sympathies of the 
Whigs. With the help of his old friend Thomas Paine, and 
of Christie, another English revolutionary, Danton obtained 
interviews with Fox, Sheridan, and Lord Stanhope, with whom 
he succeeded in establishing cordial relations.^ Danton having 

order in the name of the Constitution and of the Society." M. Aulard 
suppUes the missing clue in his Sdances des Jacobins, iii. 311. Moreover 
Carra admitted it later at his trial. See Pricis de la Defense de Carta, 

p. 13- 

^ Annates Patriotiques for January 9, 1792. This journal of Carra's, 
one of the most violent of all the revolutionary pubhcations, exerted an 
immense influence over the provinces of France. Wordsworth, in Paris 
at this date, thus described the important part played by Carra in the 
Revolution of 1792 : 

The land all swarmed with passion, like a plain 

Devoured by locusts, — Carra, Gorsas, — add 

A hundred other names, forgotten now. 

Nor to be heard of more ; yet, they were powers, 

Like earthquakes, shocks repeated day by day. 

And felt through every nook of town and field. 

The Prelude, " Residence in France." 

* Danton imigri, by Dr. Robinet, p. 4. 

* Ibid. pp. 5, 24. 


thus paved the way, Talleyrand — who, according to Dr. Robinet, 
was Danton's political aUy — went to London in the following 
spring and offered to hand over the Isles of France, of Bourbon, 
and of Tabago to England, and also to demoUsh the fortifications 
of Cherbourg — the triumph of the reign of Louis XVI. — if England 
would form an alliance with France and go to war with Austria.^ 
Brissot went further, and suggested ceding Calais and Dunkirk 
to England.^ And these were the men who accused Louis XVI. 
of intriguing with foreign powers to betray the interests of 
France ! 

The missions, both of Danton and of Talleyrand, met with 
very tangible success, for by the summer of 1792 a brisk 
correspondence had been started between the French and 
EngUsh Jacobins; a number of the latter came over to Paris 
— some, indeed, actually became members of the Club in the 
Rue Saint -Honore — and, what is more important, EngUsh 
guineas were sent to finance sedition. On April 26 the author 
of the Correspondance secrete writes complacently : "A collec- 
tion has been opened in England in aid of our Revolution; 
one private person alone has written himself down for 1500 

What further proof is needed as to the origin of the " gold of 
Pitt " ? For again with superb cunning it was to Pitt these 
corruptions were attributed by the revolutionary factions — to 
Pitt, who had resolutely refused to associate with the Due 
d'Orleans, who detested Danton,^ and who received the revolu- 
tionary deputation under Talleyrand with such undisguised 
aversion that ChauveUn was reduced to the dignified expedient of 
stamping on Pitt's toe in revenge.* 

The poUcy of both the Cordeliers and the Girondins was 
therefore to dethrone Louis XVI. in favour of an Orleaniste or a 
foreign monarch. There was no question of a Republic. This 
even the revolutionaries themselves admit; Brissot afterwards 
declared there were only three genuine RepubUcans at this date — 
Buzot, Petion, and himself,^ and we have already seen in what 
Petion and Buzot 's " RepubUcanism " consisted. Petion put 

* Diary and Letters of Gouverneur Morris, i. 510, 516. Talleyrand 
" received for answer that England could not take any engagement what- 
ever respecting the afiEairs of France." 

* Ibid. p. 511. 

' Danton ]&migrS, p. 90. 

* Souvenirs d'iltienne Dumont, p. 302. " As for Talleyrand," Mr. 
Burges writes from London to Lord Auckland on May 29, 1792, " he is 
intimate with Paine, Home Tooke, Lord Lansdowne, and a few more of 
that stamp, and generally scouted by every one else" {Journal and 
Correspondence of Lord Auckland, ii. 410). 

^ Pamphlet by Brissot, A tons les Rdpublicains. 


the number at five immediately before the loth of August.^ 
Perhaps M. Bire is nearest the truth in saying there were exactly 
two — the Englishman Thomas Paine and the Prussian Baron 

III. And what of Robespierre ? The role of Robespierre at 
this moment is of so much importance that, although he had not 
yet formed a definite party of his own, he must be regarded as a 
party in himself. For it was Robespierre who from the end of 
1791 proved the great opponent to all plans of usurpation. 
Although at the beginning of the Revolution he had worked with 
the Orleanistes, it is probable that he had never entered into 
their design of placing the Due d'Orleans on the throne ; his plan 
was simply to make use of the revolutionary machinery they had 
constructed in order to annihilate the Old Regime.^ The orgies 
of PhiUppe and his boon companions held no attractions for the 
austere Maximihen. " The wine of Champagne," he said, " is 
the poison of Uberty." It was not without reason that he earned 
the title of " Incorruptible " ; for money he had no use ; his 
abnormal nervous system precluded him from all forms of 
excess. No longer the aimless Subversive he had been in 1789, 
he now above all things desired power — a power that was to 
be accorded to him by the people. For this reason Orleanistes 
and Girondins were ahke abhorrent to him ; with Philippe or 
a German prince on the throne the people would have no voice 
whatever — even the present monarch was preferable to such a 
government. Since, therefore, he shrewdly reahzed that at this 
stage of the Revolution any attempt to dethrone Louis XVI. 
would inevitably lead to a government far less democratic than 
that of the Old Regime, he loudly proclaimed himself in favour 
of the existing monarchy. His speech at the Jacobins four days 
before the riot of the Champ de Mars was really admirable in its 
common sense and logic : 

" I have been accused, in the midst of the Assembly, of being 
a Repubhcan ; they do me too much honour, I am not one. If 
I had been accused of being a monarchist they would have dis- 
honoured me ; I am not that either. I would first observe that 

* Discours de Jirdme Petion sur I'accusation intentie contre Maximilien 
Robespierre, November 1792. 

2 Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris, i. 95. 

* On this point contemporaries are divided ; Montjoie and Pag^s both 
represent Robespierre as an Orl6aniste, whilst Beaulieu {Essais, ii. 159) and 
the Marquis de Bouille {MSmoires, p. 100) assert that he merely pretended 
sympathy with the Orleanistes in order to further his own designs. I have 
adopted the latter theory because it seems to me the most convincing and 
aloi^e explains Robespierre's conduct at certain crises of the Revolution. 
For it will be noticed that whenever he could deal a blow at the Orleanistes 
without injuring his own cause he never failed to do so. 


for many people the words ' republic ' and ' monarchy * are 
entirely void of meaning. The word republic signifies no form 
of government in particular ; it appUes to every government of 
free men who own a country. Thus one can be just as free with 
a monarch as with a senate. What is the present French con- 
stitution ? It is a republic with a monarch. It is therefore 
neither a monarchy nor a repubUc — ^it is both." ^ 

Eight months later, when the Jacobin Club had fallen under 
the dominion of the Girondins, Robespierre indicated his pohcy 
stiU more clearly, disassociating himself from their schemes of 
usurpation : 

" As for me, I declare, and I do so in the name of the Society, 
which will not refute me, that I prefer the individual which 
chance, birth, and circumstances have given us for a king to all 
the kings that they would give us."^ 

This veiled reference was characteristic of Robespierre. It is 
not without reason that so many of those who knew him describe 
Robespierre as a " tiger-cat " — feline was his nature and feline 
were his methods. His plan was always to make use of one 
faction to destroy another, and he still had need of the Girondins 
and the Orleanistes to destroy Lafayette, whom he suspected, 
not without reason, of aspiring to the role of Cromwell. When, 
therefore, a courageous deputy of the Assembly, Raimond 
Ribes, denounced the attempts of the Orleanistes to effect a 
change of dynasty, and the intrigues of Talleyrand and Brissot 
to betray the interests of France by ceding ports and colonies to 
England,^ Robespierre, who was later on, by the pen of Camille 
Desmouhns and the mouth of St. Just, to confirm all these 
accusations, joined with his fellow- Jacobins at the Club in de- 
claring them to be founded on a fable. So with superb cunning 
the tiger-cat lay crouching, watching with cold green eyes the 
manoeuvres of the rival factions. The time had not yet come 
to spring. 

Such, then, was the compHcated situation that faced the 
unfortunate Louis XVL in the autumn of 1791. As with every 
other concession he had made to the cause of hberty his accept- 
ance of the Constitution was followed by a fresh outbreak of 
revolutionary fury, and a month later the terrible affair of the 
Glaciere d' Avignon took place. On this occasion it seems that 
the people of Avignon, hungry peasants, women, labourers out 
of work, indignant at the plundering of the churches by a horde 
Of brigands — mostly foreigners, led by Jourdan Coupe-Tete — 
rose spontaneously against the revolutionary leaders and put one 
of them to death. In retahation Jourdan and his troop, gorged 

^ Aulard's Seances des Jacobins, iii. 12, Seance du 13 Juillet 1791. 
2 Ibid. iii. 420, Seance du 2 Mars 1792. ^ Moniteur, xii. 583. 


with fiery liquors, turned on the people, and a three days' massacre 
began in which, amidst atrocities too horrible to record — rape and 
cannibaUsm and drunken fury ^ — the unhappy victims, old men, 
women, children, mothers with babies at their breasts, were 
flung, some dead and some alive, into a deep ditch known as the 
" Glaciere " and covered over with quickUme.^ 

The Girondins secured an amnesty for the perpetrators of 
these deeds ! 

The massacre of Avignon was followed by further bloodshed 
in the provinces, and by the end of the year it was evident that 
no hope remained of restoring order to the kingdom unless by 
help from the outside. 

Marie Antoinette at this juncture no doubt believed that 
nothing else than open warfare could save the situation, but 
Louis XVI. still shrank from violent measures and now reverted 
to his former idea of intervention by foreign powers. Accord- 
ingly he wrote to the principal sovereigns of Europe proposing 
that they should form " a congress supported by an armed force 
as the best method for arresting the factions and establishing a 
more desirable order of things in France." ^ There was no ques- 
tion of armed aggression, of hostile legions marching against the 
French people, but of invoking moral support to suppress dis- 
orders, and if this failed, of summoning friendly aUies to the 
rescue not only of the monarchy but of the people themselves. If 
the King, then, appealed for support from abroad, it was not 
against the people but against their betrayers, the men by whom 
they were being starved, oppressed, imprisoned, and massacred. 
Could even hostile armies have produced worse horrors than 
those that were already taking place ? The King did not wish 
for war ; on the contrary, he did everything in his power to 
prevent it by providing a peaceful solution to the crisis.* 

^ Crimes de la Revolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 21. 

2 Ibid. iv. 2. 

' It should be noted that the date of this letter is uncertain ; D'AUon- 
ville and Bertrand de Molleville state emphatically that it was written on 
December 3, 1790, before the King's final acceptance of the Constitution, 
but the Correspondence of the Conite de Fersen tends to prove that the 
date was December 3, 179 J, that is to say, nearly two months after his 
final acceptance, during which interval the Glaciere d'Avignon and other 
atrocities in the provinces had occurred. Beaulieu, who also takes this 
view, explains the King's motives in writing it {Essais, iii. 133). 

* See the evidence of the King's minister. Bigot de Sainte-Croix : " From 
the spring of 1791 onwards the King prevented the execution of a secret 
plan framed at Mantua for two months later attacking France whose 
armies were incomplete and whose frontiers were undefended ; in the 
summer of the same year he hindered the effects of the Convention of 
Pilnitz ; the following autumn he concerted with the Emperor to restrain 
beyond the Rhine the designs and hostile preparations formed there. Let 


When, in March 1792, the Brissotins succeeded in driving his 
ministers from office, the King, wishing to give his enemies no 
further cause de guerre, resolved on the desperate measure of 
forming a new ministry from among the Jacobins themselves. 
" I had chosen for my first agents," he wrote to the Assembly, 
** men known for their principles and invested with the con- 
fidence of the public ; they have left the ministry ; I have therefore 
thought it my duty to replace them by men who have obtained 
credit for their popular opinions. You have often told me it 
was the only method to make the government work ; I thought 
it my duty to employ it so as to leave to malevolence no pretext 
for doubting my desire to co-operate with all my might in the 
welfare of our country." 

Accordingly the King decided to nominate the six Girondin 
ministers designated for him by Brissot — the feeble and irascible 
Roland, the dour and atrabilious Servan, the stock- jobbing 
banker Claviere, Dumouriez, an Orleaniste adventurer, and — by 
an error of Brissot's — ^two honest men, Lacoste and Duranton. 

Unfortunately the King's choice was not as " popular " as he 
imagined, for the Girondins were precisely the faction least in 
touch with "the people." It was the middle classes — not 
the law-abiding bourgeoisie but the visionaries of the literary 
world, the Uttle lawyers, the adorers of Rousseau — amongst 
whom the Girondins found their following; for "the people" 
they had nothing but contempt.^ 

No more merciless light has ever been shed on the " demo- 
cracy " of the Girondins than by an habituee of Madame Roland's 
salon, Sophie Grandchamp. After describing the pohtical dis- 
cussions that took place amongst the Rolands and their friends, 
Madame Grandchamp goes on to remark : 

" I was an interested witness of these debates, yet amidst all 
this fine zeal I thought I perceived that very few would have 
shown it if pubhc welfare had been the sole recompense. The 

them give us back our correspondence that it may be pubhshed ; it will 
all testify to the efforts of the King to avert this war which was provoked 
and begun by those who to-day dare to impute it to him " {Histoire de la 
Conspiration du 10 Ao4t, p. 152). See also Fantin D&odoards, op. cit. 
iv. 48. 

^ For example, Buzot {Mimoires, pp. 32, 35, 43, 195) : " One must have 
the vices of the people of Paris to please them. . . . The stupid people 
of France. . . . Souls of mud ! . . . What a people is that of Paris I 
What frivolity, what inconstancy, how contemptible it is I " Barbaroux 
{Memoires, p. 84) : " The people do not deserve that one should attach 
oneself to them, for they are essentially ungrateful ; the more one defends 
their rights the more they take advantage of one." Madame Roland 
{Mdmoires, i. 300) : " Cowardice characterized by selfishness and corrup- 
tion of a degraded people whom we hoped to be able to regenerate . . . but 
which was too brutalized by its vices." 


austere dress that they adopted as the livery of their party 
seemed to me a petty ostentation for men truly enamoured of 
liberty, besides which it contrasted in a ridiculous way with the 
frivolous tone and morals they displayed. I asked Roland what 
good could be expected of a people who had no respect for the 
most sacred social ties. ... * They will help to overthrow 
despotism,' repHed my friends ; ' their private actions do not 
affect the truths they spread.' It was, however, these private 
actions which propagated corruption and destroyed our hopes. 
Never was the love of pleasure, of the table, of women, and of 
gaming greater than at the moment when they wished to improve 
us. They left the precincts where the destinies of the Empire 
were being weighed in the balance to fly into the arms of lust 
and debauchery. A few pompous phrases on liberty and the 
sovereignty of the people sufficed to sanction or at least to excuse 
the most irregular conduct. ..." 

Phrases ! Always phrases ! "La phrase les enivre \" re- 
marks M. Louis Madelin, and nothing could better describe the 
much-vaunted eloquence of the Girondins. They belonged to 
that eternal class which proves disastrous to all sane government, 
** Political Intellectuals," adepts in word -weaving, who care 
nothing for the consequences to which their theories may lead, 
if only those theories sound plausible in speech and print. 
Thus Brissot had devoted his literary talents to writing philo- 
sophical treatises in which he justified theft ^ and advocated 
cannibaHsm,2 whilst the virtuous Roland, famous for his systems 
on the subject of commerce and manufacture, had drawn up a 
scheme in 1787 which he presented to the Academy of Lyons for 
utilizing the bodies of the dead by converting the fat into lamp- 
oil and the bones into phosphoric acid ^ — a proposal which Lyons, 
unenlightened by " Kultur," rejected. 

If, as Madame Roland indignantly records, Louis XVI. did not 
take his new ministers seriously, is it altogether surprising ? 
Their manners bewildered him no less than their mentahties. 
Men of the people he could have understood, but these philo- 

^ " Our social institutions," wrote Brissot, " punish theft — a virtuous 
action commanded by Nature herself " {Rechetches philosophiques sur le 
Droit de ProprUU, etc.). As Brissot himself had been imprisoned for theft 
this point of view is not surprising. 

2 " Should men nourish themselves on their kind ? A single word 
decides this question, and this word is dictated by Nature herself. All 
beings have the right to nourish themselves in any manner that will 
satisfy their needs " (Bibliothdque philosophique, by Brissot de Warville, 

vi. 313)- 

3 Histoire particuliere des Evinements qui ont eu lieu en France pendant 
les ,Mois de Juin, Juillet, d'AovLt, et de Septembre 1792, by Maton de la 
Varenne ; Memoires pour servir d, V Histoire de la Ville de Lyon pendant la 
Revolution, by I'Abbe Guillon de Montleon, i. 58, 59. 


sophers, " dressed like Quakers in their Sunday best," who talked 
him down, interrupted him in the middle of a sentence, quarrelled 
amongst themselves and nearly came to blows in his presence,^ 
were like nothing he had ever come across before. But Louis 
XVL, for all his heaviness, was not without a certain slow sense 
of humour, and we detect a hint of this in Madame Roland's asser- 
tion that he treated his new ministers with the greatest good- 
nature {la plus grande bonhomie), and led the conversation away 
from all questions of pohtical importance. " The council was 
soon nothing but a cafe where they amused themselves with 
chatting." ^ 

During these interviews the new ministers discovered that 
the King was in no way the imbecile he had been represented by 
his enemies, that he " had a fme memory and showed much 
activity, that he was never idle and read often. He kept in mind 
the various treaties made by France with neighbouring powers ; 
he knew his history well ; he was the best geographer in his 
kingdom. . . . One could not present any subject to him on 
which he could not express an opinion founded on certain 
facts." 3 

By degrees in this genial atmosphere the ministers lost some 
of their austerity : Roland began to boast of the royal favour 
shown him ; Claviere, encouraged by the King's graciousness, 
presented a request for 95,000 livres to furnish his own apart- 
ments.'* For a time it seemed that the King had succeeded in 
disarming his opponents. But he had counted without Madame 
Roland — and, except perhaps for the Due d' Orleans, the King, 
and more particularly the Queen, had no bitterer enemy. 

Madame Roland's malevolence was of long standing. 
Eighteen years earUer, as Manon Phhpon, the daughter of a 
Paris engraver, she had gone to Versailles with her mother on the 
invitation of an old lady in the service of the Court. During a 
whole week she had looked on at the dinners of the Royal Family, 
the Mass, the card-playing, the presentations. But Manon was 
unimpressed by these ghttering functions, and when, after a few 
days, Madame Phlipon inquired whether her daughter was pleased 
with her visit, Manon bitterly replied, " Yes, provided that it 
soon comes to an end ; a few more days and I shall detest aU 
these people so heartily that I shall not know what to do with 
my hatred." 

She had never known what to do with her hatred ; all through 
the years that followed it had remained pent up in her heart, 
poisoning her youth, turning the joy of life to gall. The remem- 
brance of those exalted beings, whose graciousness towards her- 

^ Deux Amis, vii. 235. ^ Mimoires de Mme. Roland, i. 238. 

' Ibid. p. 233. * Revolutions de Paris, by Prudhomme, xii. 485. 


self she had interpreted as patronage, became an obsession ; 
further encounters with their kind only increased her resentment. 
Yet she despised the petite bourgeoisie amongst which Fate had 
placed her as heartily as she hated the class above it ; the over- 
tures of obscure lovers who presented themselves in crowds merely 
humiliated her. By her marriage to dull old Roland de la Platiere 
she saw some hope of " rising to the rank that became her." Yet 
this too led to nothing : her attempt to secure for him " a title 
of nobihty " met with no success ; country hfe bored her to 
exasperation. When at last the revolutionary storm burst over 
France, Manon Roland hailed it with rapture, ostensibly as the 
dawn of liberty, in reality as a retribution on the social system 
which accorded her a place of no importance. In the terrible 
letter she wrote to Bosc immediately after the massacre of 
Foullon and Berthier all the old hatred flamed out, and under its 
influence this woman who had fed on the classics descended to 
the language of a bargee : 

'* You are occupying yourself," she wrote on July 26, 1789, 
" with a municipality, and you allow heads to escape that will 
plot fresh horrors. You are but cliildren ; your enthusiasm is 
a blaze of straw ; and if the National Assembly does not formally 
bring to trial two illustrious heads, or some generous Decius does 
not strike them off, you are all f . . . ." ^ The sentence ends with 
the usual revolutionary obscenity. 

When at last in March 1792 Roland was elected to the 
Ministry, Manon knew a moment of exaltation ; the transition 
to the gorgeous Hotel de Calonne, which had been given over to 
the Ministry of the Interior, restored her from a state of " con- 
suming languor " to sudden exuberant vitality. But once again 
disillusionment awaited her. Of what avail were gilded salons, 
painted ceilings, giant lackeys standing at each side of the great 
folding doors, to open one or both according to the rank of the 
arriving guest ^ — observe the equahty practised by our austere 
exponents of democracy ! — if the Tuileries ignored her ? Over 
there in that remote mysterious Chateau, standing aloof from the 
noisy Paris world amidst its stately gardens, there dwelt the 
woman on whom Manon had resolved to wreak her vengeance. 
She knew what to do with her hatred now, and from this moment 
she pursued her victim with a malevolence that even at the foot 
of the scaffold knew no relenting. 

The failing of great historians is to overlook the existence of 
apparently unimportant details, yet many a world-shaking event 
can be traced to trifling causes. The 20th of June 1792 was 
largely the result of a woman's desire for revenge. 

^ Lettres de Mme. Roland aux demoiselles Cannet, ii. 573. 
2 Souvenirs de Sophie Grandchamp. 


It was not that Madame Roland created the elements of 
revolution — these lay already to hand — but that she provided the 
pretexts for stirring up agitation. As Laclos had been " the soul 
of the Orl6aniste conspiracy," galvanizing into activity the idle 
roues of the Palais Royal, Manon Roland, with untiring ingenuity, 
goaded on the vain and foolish Girondins, who, but for influence, 
might have rested content with their accession to the Ministry. 
When Roland and his colleagues returned from the councils at 
the Tuileries, and declared that the King was evidently sincere 
in his determination to maintain the Constitution, Manon Roland 
laughed them to scorn. " During three weeks," she writes, 
" I saw Roland and Claviere enchanted with the King's attitude, 
dreaming only of a better order of things, and flattering them- 
selves that the Revolution was ended. ' Good God ! ' I said to 
them, * every time I see you start for the council full of this fine 
confidence, it always seems to me that you are ready to commit 
some folly.' ' I assure you,' Claviere answered me, ' that the 
King feels perfectly that his interest is bound up with the main- 
tenance of the laws which have just been established ; he reasons 
about them too pertinently for one not to be convinced of this 
truth.' ' Ma foi,' added Roland, ' if he is not an honest man 
he is the greatest rogue in the kingdom ; no one could dissemble 
in that way.' And as for me / repHed that / could not believe 
in love of the Constitution on the part of a man nourished on the 
prejudices of despotism and accustomed to enjoy it, and whose 
conduct recently proved the absence of genius and of virtue. 
The flight to Varennes was my great argument." ^ 

Because, therefore, she, Manon Roland, could not conceive 
it possible that any one possessing power or privileges should 
be wilHng to renounce them, the King was to be accused, without 
any proof whatever, of wishing to violate the Constitution. From 
this moment Mme. Roland devoted all her energies to the one 
purpose of shaking the people's confidence in the King. 

But this, at the beginning of 1792, was no easy matter, for 
the pubUc was still convinced of the King's sincerity, as the 
following significant passage from the journal of a young student 
then in Paris — an ardent admirer of the Girondins — reveals : 

" Oh ! fatal error ! traitors have succeeded in persuading 
this too credulous and confiding people that a King who from 
his tenderest infancy has sucked the venomous juice of despotism 
has all of a sudden been converted to patriotism. ... By degrees 
he is making numerous partisans, above all he is attaching public 
opinion to himself ... he will succeed in invading national liberty. 
The Parisians themselves appear to wish to hasten this disastrous 
moment. Listen to them in the groups at the Palais Royal and 

* Mimoires de Mme. Roland^ i. 236. 


in the Tuileries ; they are hurrying towards inevitable slavery. 
. . . Who would have thought that this people would mistake 
its true friends so far as to distrust the inestimable Petion, and 
would lavish its confidence and its applause on those perfidious 
beings who, profiting by its blindness and its torpor, abuse the 
sacred words of law and constitution in so execrable a way as 
to lead it to the feet of a king, to the feet of a traitor, of a perjurer, 
a true tiger disguised as a pig. The National Guards, above aU, 
have degenerated extraordinarily. . . . They are real shirri ani- 
mated by that esprit de corps so fatal to liberty. . . . This is the 
sad state of affairs in Paris, and I see only two great ills capable 
of saving liberty — war or the flight of the King. I will even say 
that I ardently desire one of these terrible afflictions, because, 
as Mirabeau foretold us, our liberty can only be ensured in so 
far as she has for her bed mattresses of corpses, and because, in 
order to ensure this liberty, I consent, if necessary, to become one 
of these corpses." ^ 

Madame Roland and her friends saw this pacific disposition 
of the people with growing alarm, and thereupon devised a scheme 
characteristic of their politicsil morality. Large placards attack- 
ing the royal authority were to be posted up all over Paris, and 
in order to defray the expenses necessary for this purpose they 
applied to their ally, Petion, the Mayor of Paris, for a sum of 
money to be taken from the fund he held at the disposal of the 
Paris police. Petion proved only too willing to co-operate ; 
unfortunately the police fund happened at this moment to be 
exhausted. Accordingly Dumouriez, as Minister of Foreign 
Affairs, was deputed to ask the King to supply Petion with a 
large sum for the police, which was then to be handed over to 
the Rolands. Louis XVL, approached on the matter, displayed 
a certain perspicacity, but decided to give Petion a chance of 
proving his good faith. 

" Potion is my enemy," he said to Dumouriez ; " you will see 
that he will spend this money on writings against me, but if you 
think it will be any use, give it to him." ^ 

The sum was made over and, of course, employed as the King 
suspected. " The expedient," remarks Madame Roland, " was 
simple, and it was adopted."^ 

We marvel as we read these words, not so much at the base 
treachery of securing money on false pretences and, as the King 
himself expressed it, of '* asking him to supply rods with which 

^ Journal d'un ^tudiant pendant la Rivolution, edited by M. Gaston 
Maugras, p. 203. 

« MSmoires de Dumouriez, ii. 152, 153; Mimoires de Mme. Roland, 
i. 142. 

» Ibid. i. 83. 


to scourge himself," but at the complete lack of all sense of honour 
which made it possible for Madame Roland, quite unblushingly, 
to admit the scheme in her memoirs. She does not see that the 
manoeuvre was in any way discreditable ; to her mind it was 
" quite simple." 

But defamatory placards alone would not avail to bring about 
a revolution ; some definite cause de guerre must be provided. 
If only the King could be represented as violating the Constitution 
or of plotting with the enemies of France, it would be easier to 
arouse popular indignation. But the King displayed an irritating 
fidelity to the Constitution — ^indeed his habit of producing a 
copy of the charter from his pocket and quoting it on every 
possible occasion was beginning to get on the nerves of his 
ministers — whilst any correspondence he had been carrying on 
with Austria could not be described as treasonable, since Austria 
still remained the ally of France. 

In order, therefore, to prove the King a traitor, not only must 
the aUiance of 1756 be broken, but war must be brought about 
between France and Austria. It was necessary, in the words of 
Brissot himself, " to find an opportunity for setting traps for the 
King, in order to demonstrate his bad faith and his collusion 
with the princes who had emigrated." ^ It is well to remember 
this admission when reading the diatribes directed against Louis 
XVI. for inviting foreign invasion. The war, which for twenty- 
three years was to impoverish France and decimate her popula- 
tion, was not declared by Austria, but was brought about by the 
Girondins largely in the interests of Prussia at a moment when 
Austria appeared reluctant to enter France.^ At the Jacobins 
both Danton and Robespierre opposed it, for they shrewdly 
perceived that if the foreign powers needed an incentive to 
march to the rescue of the Royal Family, the declaration of 
war was a direct invitation to them to advance. But the pro- 
Prussian party carried the day, and the scheme of Frederick the 
Great was finally reaUzed. 

If further evidence were needed of the manoeuvres of Prussia 
it is to be found in the debates that took place in the Assembly, 
for we shall notice that, although on February 7 Prussia 
formed an alliance with Austria, and on March 7 the Duke 
of Brunswick was placed at the head of the alhed armies, 
it was against Austria alone that the Girondins desired war 
to be declared; in all their speeches it was against Austria, 
never against Prussia, that their invectives were directed; it 
was the Hapsburgs, not the Hohenzollems, who inspired their 

* Mimoires de Lafayette, iii. 299 ; Beaulieu, iv. 187. 
2 Moniteur, xii. 183, 184 ; Deux Amis, vii. 156. 


The Girondins well knew they had nothing to fear from 
Prussia or from Brunswick. 

" The Duke Ferdinand," writes Sorel, *' had always loved 
France and professed to detest Austria. . . . The revolutionary 
party professed a singular esteem for his person. Far from seeing 
in him ' an abettor of tyrants ' many revolutionaries held him 
to be a friend of enlightened doctrines and a natural ally of 
France. The Girondins respected him, Dumouriez admired 
him. ..." 1 So great was this admiration that at the very 
moment when the duke was given the supreme command the 
Girondins embarked on their further scheme of placing him on 
the throne of France. 

" I read on March the i8th," writes Mallet du Pan, " a writing, 
supported by good authority, in which it is affirmed that the 
plan of the leaders of the Jacobins is not exactly a republic but 
a change of dynasty, because they consider that the King will 
always be attached to the noblesse and little to the Constitution. 
G^nsequently they have offered the crown to the Duke of Brunswick. 
... By making the duke and England adopt this project they 
flatter themselves to be able to detach Prussia from the House 
of Austria, they even offer him other advantages. The method 
devised for dethroning the King is to make the National Assembly 
declare that he has lost the confidence of the nation. Messieurs 
Condorcet, Brissot, and others are only the instruments, the 
agents of the enterprise, of which the principal chief and author 
is the Abbe Sieyes. . . ." ^ But Sorel is probably right in con- 
sidering Mallet du Pan had been misinformed on this last point ; 
no other evidence convicts Sieyes of compHcity with this plot, 
of which the chief author was undoubtedly Carra. 

In all the debates that took place in the Assembly on the 
subject of the " Austrian Committee," which the King and Queen 
were accused of holding at the Tuileries, and of which the Girondins 
attempted in vain to prove the existence, it was always Carra 
who inveighed most loudly against the perfidy of Marie Antoinette 
and her Austrian allies. But it was not until Brunswick was 
actually marching against France that Carra showed his hand 
by publicly proposing to give him the crown. 

All through the year of 1792 the French revolutionary leaders 
admirably served the cause of Prussia — ^whether as dupes or as 
accomplices it is impossible to say with certainty. Even the 
cause of the Orleanistes was now subordinated to the purpose 
of carrying out the great scheme of Frederick the Great — the 
rupture of that alliance which barred the way to Prussian 

^ Lq, Mission de Custine d Brunswick, by Albert Sorel ; Revue HiS' 
torique, i. 157. 

*j MSmoires de Mallet du Pan, i. 259. 


aggrandizement. This, then, was the policy of the faction that 
led all the attacks on Louis XVI . for intriguing with foreign 
powers, and that later on had the audacity to accuse him of 
precipitating France into war. Yet there were tears in his eyes 
when on the 20th of April he formally announced the declaration 
of war against Austria.^ 

The Queen, however, breathed a sigh of relief. Anything, she 
felt, would be better than the present situation. The state of 
Paris was growing daily more alarming. This spring of 1792 a 
new and terrible element had made its appearance in the city — 
the band of ruffians who, from the tattered garments they wore 
that did duty as breeches, became known as the Sans-Culottes. 
The members of this ragged legion, mostly young boys, were of a 
class not peculiar to revolutionary France, but corresponded to 
the ** hooligans " of modem London, the Apaches of modem 
Paris, or the Bowery toughs of New York, and it is easy to 
imagine the terror they inspired amongst the peaceable citizens 
when formed into a corps and protected, not restrained, by the 
poUce. Montjoie relates that at the mere sight of two Sans- 
Culottes armed with pikes, wearing the red caps of galley-slaves 
that this spring of 1792 became the badge of revolution, the 
inhabitants of a Paris street would fly trembling into their 
houses and barricade their doors. ^ 

Every day two to three hundred of these Sans-Culottes in- 
vaded the gardens of the Tuileries and stirred up popular feeling 
against the Queen.^ 

" You see me in despair," she said one day to the King in the 
presence of Dumouriez. " I dare not stand at the window on 
the side of the gardens. Yesterday evening to breathe the air I 
showed myself at the window on the side of the Court ; a canonnier 
apostrophized me with a coarse insult, adding, ' How pleased I 
shall be to see your head on the point of my bayonet.' ... If I 
cast my eyes on that dreadful garden there is a man standing 
on a chair reading aloud horrors against us, there is a soldier 
or an abbe being dragged to the fountain and overwhelmed with 
blows and insults. . . . What an abode ! What people ! " 

'* The Queen," says Ferrieres, " was not exaggerating : the 
Orl^anistes and Girondins never ceased exciting the populace 
against the King and Queen. ... A crowd of hired orators daily 
declaimed the Ubels composed by the faction. . . . Louis XVI. 
was represented as a Nero, a sanguinary monster breathing only 
murder and carnage, wishing to bring foreign troops into France 
and use them to support him in the execution of his plans. . . . 

* Deux Amis, vii. 166 ; Mimoires tiris des Papier s d'un Homme d'l^tat, 
i. 333. 2 Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, iii. 171. 

• Correspondance secrdfe, p. 600. 



The Queen was painted either under the degrading colours of a 
Messalina given up to the most shameful licentiousness, or as a 
fury seeking only to bathe herself in the blood of the French. 
These slanderous horrors were cried aloud in all the streets, were 
repeated at the tribune of the Jacobins, at the bar of the 

What wonder that Marie Antoinette longed for her own 
people to come and deUver her ? What wonder if she despaired 
of the French nation when this was the portion of it daily 
presented to her sight ? 

Louis XVI. was even more affected by the horror of the 
situation, and at last, Madame Campan relates, *' fell into a state 
of depression which reached the point of physical collapse. He 
was ten days in succession without uttering a word even in 
the midst of his family . . . the Queen drew him out of this 
disastrous condition ... by throwing herself at his feet, now 
conjuring up visions calculated to alarm him, now expressing 
her love for him." ^ It was a clear case of mental break-down, 
and must be taken into consideration in judging the King's 
conduct at this crisis. Undoubtedly he vacillated, at one moment 
lending an ear to the men who would persuade him that salva- 
tion lay in this or that revolutionary faction, the next convinced 
by Fersen or the Queen that nothing but foreign intervention 
could avail to restore law and order. So the months of spring 
went by and June arrived — ^the last June of the monarchy. 


The plan of raising a mob to march on the Tuileries, one of 
the leaders afterwards admitted, was '* conceived and planned 
in the salon of Madame Roland." It is certain at any rate that, 
as Mortimer Temaux pointed out, " the day of June the 20th had 
been prepared long beforehand by the agitators of the Faubourgs ; 
the date had been settled — it was that of the Oath of the Tennis 
Court ^ — the rdles were distributed, complicity agreed on and 

^ Mimoires de Mme. Campan, p. 328. See also Correspondance secrite, 
p. 600, and the Journal d'un ^tudiani, edited by M. Gaston Maugras, 
p. 248. 

* Note the hypocrisy of this pretext, since the men who had proposed 
the Oath of the Tennis Court were now regarded by the revolutionary 
leaders as their bitterest enemies — Mounier had been driven from the 
country, and Bailly, the object of their perpetual execrations, was to perish 
at their hands under circumstances of revolting brutality. The truth is, 
as Bigot de Sainte-Croix points out, that the 20th of June was chosen as 
the anniversary of the flight to Varennes in the hope of reviving the un- 
popularity which the Orl^anistes had succeeded in arousing against the 
King on this day. 


accepted, the issue alone was uncertain ; it depended on the 
degree of excitement and exasperation to which the masses 
could be brought." The reasons given by revolutionary writers 
for the invasion of the Tuileries are, therefore, only the pretexts 
that were given to the people in order to induce them to carry out 
the designs of the leaders. But, as we have already seen, the 
people at this moment were in no mood to rise. Even the Faubourgs 
of Saint-Antoine and Saint-Marceau showed little tendency to 
revolt, although perpetually stirred up by Santerre and by 

Theroigne de Mericourt, no longer the light-hearted///^ de 
joie who had ridden with the mob to Versailles, but a haggard 
and embittered virago, was also hard at work in Saint-Antoine, 
where she had organized revolutionary clubs for women on 
the model of the Societe Fratemelle that formed an annexe 
to the Jacobins and served as a training school for the future 
tricoteuses. But Theroigne's efforts met with violent remon- 
strance from the working-men of Saint-Antoine, who complained 
to Santerre that the sweetness of their wives' tempers was not 
increased by attendance at these assembhes, and the Jacobins 
were obHged to request Mile. Theroigne " to moderate her 
activities." ^ 

Nothing, indeed, is more surprising than the resistance shown 
by the inhabitants of the Faubourgs to the seductions of the 
Jacobins — a fact of which historians give no idea, but which is 
only revealed by a study of contemporary literature, especially 
of the ultra-revolutionary variety. It is in the pages of Prud- 
homme, in the reports of the Seances des Jacobins, that we dis- 
cover the immense efforts made by the revolutionaries and their 
repeated failures to enlist the sympathies of the people. For 
when we consider the wretchedness of the people at this crisis, 
and realize that the arms of the Jacobins were always open to 
receive them ; when we remember that any deserter from the 
army who appealed to the Society for sympathy stood an ex- 
cellent chance of receiving a civic crown, that any man or woman 
who entered the haU and uttered revolutionary sentiments 
received an ovation, and in many instances a sum of money, that 
any schoolboy who recited a revolutionary poem was invited to 
the honours of the Seance and overwhelmed with compliments, 
we can only wonder that the Faubourgs did not crowd en masse 

* See Santerre's admission at a Seance of the Jacobins on April 13, 
1792 : " The men of this Faubourg (Saint-Antoine) would like better, on 
coming in from their work, to find their homes in order than to see their 
wives return from an assembly where they do not always gain a spirit of 
sweetness, and therefore they have regarded with disfavour these assemblies 
that are repeated three times in the week." 


to the club in the Rue Saint-Honor6. But no, only here and there 
does a stray dweller of the Faubourgs find his way there, and then 
with what triumph and at what length is the incident recorded 
in the journal of the Society ! 

True, we shall read often of deputations from the " sections 
of Paris " arriving, both at the Assembly and at the Jacobins, 
but we do not need the explanations of Montjoie, of BeauUeu, 
or the Deux Amis de la Liberie to reaUze that the speeches 
crammed with classical allusions delivered on these occasions 
were not the work of the poor and unlettered inhabitants of the 
Faubourgs, but of the revolutionary agents who distributed them 
to orators so unlearned that they were hardly able to read the 
words aloud.^ As to any spontaneous expressions of the people's 
sentiments these were seldom accorded a hearing, and at any rate 
were not recorded in the press, which at this date was almost 
entirely in the pay of the revolutionary leaders. Thus we read 
of an imposing deputation from Saint-Marceau to the National 
Assembly consisting of 6000 men armed with pikes and forks, 
and women with their arms held threateningly aloft, and children 
carrying naked swords, led by " an orator in rags who spoke Uke 
Cicero " in praise of the Revolution, but a petition signed by 
30,000 citizens which was presented a few days later to protest 
against the tyranny of the Jacobins is not even mentioned in the 
reports of the debates.^ 

Adolphe Schmidt, in his studies of revolutionary Paris, has 
worked out by statistics that out of all the 600,000 to 800,000 
inhabitants of the capital there were, in 1792, not more than 
5000 to 6000 real revolutionaries — a number that diminished in 
the following year to nearly half — and that during the whole 

^ Deux Amis de la Liberti, vii. 242, viii. 24. See also Montjoie, Con- 
juration de d'OfUans, iii. 189 ; Essais de BeauUeu, iii. 104. " Nothing was 
more usual than this kind of fraud," writes the contemporary Senac 
de Meillan ; " the sections and the Faubourgs were made to speak ; they 
were set in motion even without their knowledge. . . . We saw one day 
the Faubourg Saint-Antoine arriving, to the number of eight to nine 
thousand men. Well, this Faubourg Saint-Antoine was composed of about 
fifty bandits hardly known in the district, who had collected on their 
route every one they could see in the shops or workshops, so as to form an 
imposing mass. These good people were on the Place Vendome, very 
much bored, not knowing what they had come for, and waiting impatiently 
for the leaders to give them permission to retire." 

' This petition is recorded in the journal of Mme. JuUien, Journal d'une 
Bourgeoise, p. 89 : " There is a petition signed by 30,000 idlers {hadauds) 
which is to appear on Sunday at the National Assembly against the 
Jacobins." We must not forget that in revolutionary language the terms 
" badauds," " brigands," or " canaille " signify the law-abiding members 
of the people. Thus Prudhomme, Revolutions de Paris, xii. 526 : " The 
horde of fanatics and counter-revolutionaries who, to the number of more 
than 60,000, have taken refuge ... in the capital." 


revolutionary period the anti-revolutionaries constituted nine- 
tenths of the population. In this June of 1792 the departniental 
administration placed in this category of " honest folk " and 
" young folk " " those useful and hard-working men attached 
to the State at every point of their existence and by all the objects 
of their affections— proprietors, cultivators, tradesmen, artisans, 
workmen, and all those estimable citizens whose activity and 
economy contribute to the public treasury, and animate aU 
the resources of national prosperity. All these men profess a 
boundless devotion to the Constitution, and principaUy to 
the sovereignty of the narion, to poUtical equaUty and to 
constitutional monarchy." "The Jacobin Club," the same 
report declares, " is alone responsible for any disturbances m 

the citv." 

In order, therefore, to persuade the people of Paris to niarch 
on the Tuileries some very powerful incentive must be provided. 
For some months the Girondins, Brissot, Gensonne, and above 
aU Carra, had endeavoured to inflame the popular mmd by con- 
tmual declamations against the so-caUed "Austrian Committee," 
by means of which Marie Antoinette was declared to be betraymg 
France to the Emperor of Austria, but their efforts to prove the 
existence of this committee had ended in ignominious failure. 
To the request for a written statement of their accusations they 
replied : " What do you wish us to prove ? Conspiracies can- 
not be' written down (Les conspirations ne s'ecrivent pas)." 
Later on at their trial, when they asked Fouquier Tinville for 
proofs of their guilt, Fouquier quoted these words to them and 
sent them to the guiUotine.^ „ ^ . r •. . ^ 

The scare of the " Austrian Committee having failed to 
rouse the people, the Girondins set about devising further 
" traps " for the King. If only Louis XVI. were to refuse his 
sanction to any decrees passed by the Assembly the old cry 
against the " Veto " could be raised, and an insurrection might be 
expected to result. Accordingly three iniquitous decrees were 
placed before the Assembly. The first enacted that all the non- 
iuring priests— that is to say, those who had not subscribed to 
the civil constitution of the clergy— should be deported; the, 
second that the King should be deprived of his bodyguard of 

1 Paris pendant la RivoluHon, by Adolphe Schmidt, p. 21. This repoii 
of the Paris administration is quoted by Prudhomme, mvoluHons de Pans, 
xii S2^, as an insulting " libel." ,. , x ^.^ +v 

^ mmoires de Hua, p. 119. See Camille Desmoulms reference to tl 
incident in his Fragment de I'Histoire secrete, etc., p. 5 : ^°^^°^^"„^\X 
estabUsh against Brissot and Gensonne the existence of an Anglo-Prussic 
committee by means of a number of proofs a hundred times stronger th^ 
those by which they, Brissot and Gensonne, proved the existence of - 
Austrian committee." 


1800 men accorded to liim by the Constitution, but suspected 
by the revolutionaries of loyalty to his person, and the third that 
a camp of 20,000 men should be formed outside Paris. Louis gave 
his sanction to the second decree, but withheld it from the first 
and third. Now, since the first decree was mainly instigated by 
Roland, and the third was proposed by Servan — Madame Roland's 
particular ally in the ministry — it is impossible not to recognize 
the hand of Madame Roland in all this. The three decrees were, 
of course, directly unconstitutional, the last because, according 
to the terms of the Constitution, the King alone had the authority 
to propose any addition to the standing army, and the camp of 
20,000 men was proposed by Servan entirely on his own authority, 
without reference to the King or even to the other ministers. 
Moreover, as the 20,000 men were to consist of " confederates " 
from the provinces, that is to say, they were to be chosen by the 
Jacobin Clubs all over France, the plan met with immediate 
remonstrance, not only from the King but from sane men of every 
party. Lafayette wrote to the King from his camp at Maubeuge 
urging him to persist in his refusal to sanction the decree ; even 
Robespierre expressed his disapproval. 

The ministers themselves were violently divided on the 
subject, Roland, Servan, and Claviere supporting the plan, 
Dumouriez, Lacoste, and Duranton protesting — Dumouriez, 
indeed, nearly came to blows with Servan in the King's presence.^ 

But most of all was the proposal resented by the National 
Guard of Paris — a corps essentially representative of the people 
— ^who sent a deputation to the Assembly to protest against the 
imputation that they were incompetent to defend the capital. 
** Servan," Scdd the orator of this deputation, " had violated the 
Constitution, had shown himself * the vile instrument of a faction 
that rends the kingdom.' We citizens of Paris, we who were the 
first to conquer liberty, we shall know how to defend it at all 
times against every kind of tyrant ; we have still the force and 
courage of the men of the 14th of July." At this Vergniaud, 
rising in wrath, declared that the petitioners were guilty of 
" inconceivable audacity," and should be refused " the honours of 
the sitting " — ^in other words, that they should be driven from 
the hall. A further deputation of the National Guard, armed 
with a petition bearing 8000 signatures, met with a like reception, 
and the Assembly thereupon closed the debate.^ 

To this, then, had the " sovereignty of the people " been 
reduced. All through the Revolution we shall find the same 
method employed; the only deputations recognized as repre- 
sentative of the people are those organized by the revolutionary 
leaders and marching to the word of command ; spontaneous 

^ Madelin, p. 219. * Buchez et Roux, xv. 19-30. 


demonstrations are invariably silenced and declared to be 
*' seditious." 

The Jacobin Club, dominated by the Girondins, whose violence 
during the early part of 1792 surpassed even that of the future 
Terrorists, had succeeded in estabhshing a tyranny which roused 
the indignation of all true lovers of liberty. At his camp in 
Maubeuge, Lafayette received from the administrative and 
municipal bodies all over the country further complaints of their 
excesses, and now once again he resolved to come to the rescue 
of the monarchy. His letter to the Assembly on June 16 is one 
of the few admirable incidents in his vacillating career. 

" Can you deny," he wrote indignantly, " that a faction 
— and to avoid vague denominations, the Jacobin faction — has 
caused all the disorders ? It is this faction that I loudly accuse. 
Organized like an empire apart in its metropohs and its affihations, 
blindly directed by a few ambitious leaders, this sect forms a 
distinct corporation in the midst of the French people, of which 
it usurps the powers by subjugating its representatives and its 
agents. It is there that at pubhc meetings attachment to the 
law is called ' aristocracy ' and its infringement ' patriotism ' ; 
there the assassins of Desilles triumph, the crimes of Jourdan 
find panegyrists. ... It is I who denounce this sect to you . . . 
and how should I delay any longer in fulfilling this duty when 
each day weakens constituted authority, substitutes the spirit of 
party for the will of the people, when the audacity of agitators 
imposes silence on peaceful citizens and casts aside men who 
could be useful. . . . May the royal power remain intact, for it is 
guaranteed by the Constitution ; may it be independent, for that 
independence is one of the mainsprings of our hberty ; may the 
King be revered, for he is invested with the majesty of the nation ; 
may he choose a ministry that wears the chains of no party, and 
if there are conspirators may they perish beneath the power 
of the sword. 

" In a word, may the reign of the Clubs be destroyed by you 
and give place to the reign of law . . . their disorganizing maxims 
(give place) to the true principles of hberty, their dehrious fury 
to the calm and settled courage of a nation that knows its rights 
and defends them, may party considerations yield to the real 
interests of the country, which at this moment of danger should 
unite aU those to whom its subjugation and ruin are not a 
matter of atrocious profit and infamous speculation." 

These courageous words of Lafayette were received with 
a howl of execration by the Girondins. Vergniaud rose angrily 
to declare that " it was aU over with liberty if a general were 
allowed to dictate laws " to the Assembly. 

No less than sixty-five departments of France and several 



large towns hastened to endorse the sentiments of Lafayette.^ 
But it was useless indeed for any one to oppose the Girondins at 
this crisis; the power was all in their hands, and Dumouriez, 
reaUzing this, dared not stand against them, so, although he had 
declared that " those who demanded the formation of a camp of 
20,000 men near Paris were as much the enemies of the country 
as the enemies of the King," he ended by advising Louis XVI. 
to sanction the decree. 

It was the crowning misfortune of the unhappy King at every 
crisis of the Revolution to lack disinterested advisers. Before 
the siege of the Bastille Necker had not dared to stand by him ; 
at the march on Versailles all his ministers had distinguished 
themselves by their ineptitude ; and now, before the invasion of 
the Tuileries, Dumouriez failed him ignominiously. 

Long afterwards in his Memoires Dumouriez completely 
justified the King's conduct in refusing his sanction to the two 
decrees, but his tribute to the integrity of Louis XVI. only 
places his own perfidy in a blacker hght. One day, Dumouriez 
relates, the King, taking him by the hand, said, " in accents that 
neither art nor dissimulation could have imitated, ' God is my 
witness that I wish for nothing but the happiness of France,' 
and Dumouriez, with tears in his eyes, rephed, ' Sire, I do not 
doubt it ... if aU France knew you as I do edl our misfortunes 
would be ended ! ' " Yet, after this, Dumouriez betrayed him. 
For Louis XVI. having refused to sanction the two decrees, 
Dumouriez only waited for the inevitable explosion in order to 
resign his post in the ministry £Lnd return to the army — and the 
Due de Chartres. 

Meanwhile Madame Roland had seen her opportunity to 
bring about the crisis for which she had so long been waiting, 
and before the King could announce his final decision she had 
devised a further trap which this time was to prove effectual. 

The dismissal of Necker had served as a pretext for the 
Revolution of July 1789 ; the dismissal of the three " patriot 
ministers," Roland, Servan, and Claviere, might be expected 
to bring about the Revolution of June 1792. Accordingly she 
composed a letter ^ which Roland was to hand to the King in the 
council as his own composition, but of which the authorship was 
only too plainly visible. Who but Madame Roland, with her 
insatiable greed for power, could have basely taunted Louis 
XVI. with the loss of those prerogatives that he had voluntarily 
renounced ? " Your Majesty has enjoyed the great prerogatives 
that he beheved to belong to royalty. Brought up with the idea 
of retaining them he could not feel any pleasure at seeing them 

^ Memoires de Lafayette, iii. 332. 
* " Je fis la fameuse lettre," Memoires de Mme. Roland, i. 241. 


taken from him ; the desire to have them given back is as natural 
as the regret at seeing them done away with." Then, dropping 
the tone of contemptuous condolence, she proceeds to threaten 
him, and all the old ferocity flashes out anew : " Two important 
decrees have been drawn up, both of essential interest to the 
pubUc tranquiUity and the salvation of the State. The delay to 
sanction them inspires distrust ; if prolonged it will cause discon- 
tent ; and I am forced to say that in the present agitation of all 
minds, discontent may lead to anything. There is no time to 
draw back, it is no longer even possible to temporize — the 
revolution is made in the minds of the people, it will be finished 
at the price of blood, and will be cemented with blood, if wisdom 
does not prevent misfortune it is possible to avoid. . . . 

" I know that the austere language of truth is rarely welcomed 
near the throne ; I know also that it is because it cannot make 
itself heard there that revolutions become necessary . . . and I 
know nothing that can prevent me from fulfilling my conscious 
duty," etc. 

Not content with handing this precious document to the 
King, Roland, obedient to Manon's instructions, insisted on 
reading it aloud to him, after which he deUvered himself of a 
violent tirade containing " the bitterest and most insulting 
details " on the conduct of the King, representing him as a 
" perjurer," reproaching him on the subject of his confessor 
and of his bodyguard, on the imprudences of the Queen, and the 
intrigues of the Court with Austria.^ There was a limit to the 
patience even of Louis XVI. ; and this attack of Roland's had 
the effect of bringing things to a crisis. On the 12th of June 
the King dismissed Roland, Servan, and Claviere ; on the 19th 
he finally placed his " Veto " on the two decrees. 

Nothing could have suited Madame Roland better. For 
once we may beUeve her to be sincere when she assures us that 
she was enchanted at the dismissal of the three ministers, for, 
if the King's action added fuel to her fury, it had provided the 
final pretext for insurrection.^ 

The plan concerted in Madame Roland's salon of collecting 
a mob to march on the Tuileries was matured in the councils^ 
of the Orleanistes. At Charenton, Danton, Marat, Santerre, 

* MSmoires de Dumouriez, ii. 274. 

* That the rising of the 20th of June had been planned long before the 
dismissal of the three ministers on the 12th and the King's final refusal to 
sanction the two decrees on the 19th, and that these circumstances were 
therefore only the pretexts given to the people for marching on the Tuileries, 
is further evident from the fact that the plan of insurrection was known in 
London at least ten days before it took place. On June 13 a member of] 
the Jacobin Club read aloud a letter he had received from London an-j 
nouncing a movement that was to take place between the 13th and th« 


Camille Desmoulins^ met by night, as the Orleanistes of 1789 
had met at Montrouge or Passy, for it was they alone who could 
control the workings of the great revolutionary machine ; it was 
they who chose and paid the mob leaders, they who distributed 
the roles, prompted the orators, and lavished gold and strong 
drink on the obedient multitude they held at their command. 
The Girondins could only suggest and perorate ; the Orleanistes 
knew how to lead from words to action. Then the conspirators 
set to work to inflame the minds of the people : Carra, Gorsas, 
Brissot, and Condorcet distributed seditious pamphlets. Potion 
and Manuel placarded the walls of the city with fresh calumnies 
against the Royal Family.^ A caricature was hawked on the 
quays representing Louis XVI. with his crown shpping from his 
head, seated at picquet with the Due d'Orl^ans, and exclaiming, 
" J'ai ecarte les coeurs, il a pour lui les piques, j'ai perdu la 
partie."^ The pikes were literally those of Orleans, for Petion 
had ordered 30,000 to be forged for arming the populace, and by 
a refinement of brutahty the points were so constructed as not 
only to wound but to lacerate horribly the flesh of the victims.* 
These, together with 50,000 red caps of hberty, were distributed 
in the Faubourgs. Meanwhile Gorsas paraded the streets crying 
out, " My friends, we must go to-morrow to plant under the 
windows of fat Louis not the oak of hberty but an aspen ! " ^ 

As usual, the people were not admitted to the secrets of the 
leaders, whose ingenious method was invariably to propose some 
apparently harmless demonstration, and then to stir the people 
up to commit excesses. By this means it was always possible to 
avoid responsibihty, and to attribute the blame for any violence 
that took place to the imcontrollable passions of the populace. 

20th, and in the Correspondance secrdte for June 16 we find an entry to the 
same effect : " Letters from London announce a great movement in Paris 
for the 2oth of this month. It has been noticed that the great events of the 
Revolution have always been foretold us by the English." The co-operation 
of the Enghsh revolutionaries is here clearly evident. 

1 Crimes de la Revolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 43. Montjoie asserts that 
Robespierre was also present at the meetings, but this seems improbable, 
since the movement was conducted by his enemies the Brissotins and 
Orleanistes. Moreover, at the Jacobin Club he had strongly opposed the 
plan of insurrection. If he was present the fact is only to be explained by 
his natural timidity — ^he may have been afraid to stay away lest he should 
be accused of sympathy with the Court. But it seems unlikely that he 
took any active part in the proceedings. 

2 Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, iii. 174 ; Ferrieres, iii. 105. 

3 A play on the word pique, which signifies both spades at cards 
and pikes. 

* ^ontjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans.'m 174 ; Histoire particuli^re, etc., 
by Maton de la Varenne. 
6 Ibid. 


As on the 14th of July the people had only been told to march 
on the Bastille in order to procure arms for their defence, and 
on [the 5th of October to go to Versailles and ask the King for 
bread, so before the 20th of June the programme officially put 
before the inhabitants of Saint-Antoine and Saint-Marceau was to 
form a procession in order to present a petition to the King and 
Legislative Assembly, asking for the sanction of the two decrees 
and the recall of the dismissed ministers.^ After this they were 
to proceed to the terrace of the Tuileries and plant a " tree of 
liberty," to conmaemorate the anniversary of the Oath of the 
Tennis Court. Nothing more innocent could be imagined, and 
by way of inducement to the more peaceable amongst the people 
it was suggested how pleasant it would be to visit the inside 
of the Tuileries, and see Monsieur and Madame Veto at home.^ 
But in order to ensure the co-operation of the populace more 
potent methods were employed, and amongst these, as in every 
outbreak of the Revolution, alcohol played the principal part. 
So in the Faubourgs throughout the 19th of June champagne, 
distributed by Santerre, flowed freely,^ whilst the professional 
instigators of crime who had figured in all the former tumults — 
Gonchon, St. Huruge, Foumier I'Americain, and Rotondo — stirred 
up insurrection. In the Champs ]£lysees a feast was spread 
to which the inhabitants of Saint-Antoine and Saint-Marceau 
were bidden ; in the surrounding cabarets half - naked Sans- 
Culottes collected, incendiary speeches were made, the Prussian 
Clootz as toast-master proposed the deposition of Louis XVI. ; 
and although the more prudent of the leaders affected to support 
this proposition, the comedian Dugazon was permitted to sing 
verses provoking the people to murder the King.^ 

Louis XVI. well knew what was taking place in the city. 
That day he wrote to his confessor, asking him to come to him : 
** I have never had so great need of your consolations ; I have 
done with men, it is towards Heaven that I turn my eyes. Great 
disasters are announced for to-morrow ; I shall have courage.' 
And as he looked out that summer evening across the great 
gardens of the Tuileries to the sun sinking behind the Champs 
Elysees, he said to good old Malesherbes standing by him, 
*• Who knows whether I shaU see the sun set to-morrow ? 
Then with an untroubled conscience he went to rest, ready to 
welcome death that would dehver him from the hideous night- 
mare of hfe. And in hundreds of httle French homes that night 

^ Roederer, Chronique des Cinquante Jours (edition de Lescure), p. 18. 

2 Mortimer Ternaux, Histoire de la Terreur, i. 141. 

3 Deux Amis, viii. 25. 

* Maton de la Varenne, op. cit.; Ferrieres, iii. 105 *, Montjoie, Ccm-^ 
juration de d'Orldans, iii. 175. 


the people, who still loved their King, lay down likewise to rest, 
little dreaming of the terrible scenes of the morrow that in the 
l5dng pages of history were to be set down to their account. 


But whilst the people slept the conspirators were all awake ; 
at the house of Santerre the final touches were added to the 
plan of insurrection ; Chabot, Bazire, Merlin, Lasource continued 
to harangue the inhabitants of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, three 
of whom, outraged by the incendiary speeches of tlje agitators, 
denounced them later on to the Assembly, declaring that Chabot 
had collected the people in a church of the district and had 
actually proposed the assassination of the King.^ 

So the match was set to the mine, and the conspirators 
eagerly awaited the explosion. But, contrary to their expecta- 
tions, Saint-Antoine showed no irresistible desire to rise. At five 
in the morning of the 20th Santerre had only succeeded in rais- 
ing a mob of 1500 people ; ^ according to one account of the day, 
this number had not been exceeded by eleven o'clock, including 
those who had collected from curiosity, and " it was not until 
the sieur Santerre had placed himself at the head of a detach- 
ment of invalides . . ., and had incited during their march all 
onlookers to join them, that the multitude considerably 
increased.*' * Meanwhile in Saint-Marceau a motley crowd of 
men, women, and children had assembled, armed with the pikes 
provided by Petion, who now with consummate hypocrisy sent out 
commissioners to make a feint of dissuading them from bearing 
arms and forming a procession. The people, well under the con- 
trol of the agitators, of course refused to go back to their homes 
whence they had been summoned ; some indeed answered in all 
good faith that they had no evil intentions, and were resolved 
to march. Finally the Faubourgs, to which a number of 
deserters from the National Guard had joined themselves, set 
forth, divided into three bands led by Santerre, St. Huruge, and 
Theroigne de Mericourt, and now at last, as they passed through 
the streets, recruits began to pour in from all sides — coal-heavers, 
porters, chimney-sweeps — ready for the price of a day's work* 
and the promise of free drinks to throw themselves into any 

* Buchez et Roux, xv. 196. Chabot denied the accusation, but even if 
he did not make this definite proposition it is certain that he was in Saint- 
Antoine during the night stirring up the people against the King. See 
Montjoie, Conjuration de d'Orlians, iii. 175 ; Roederer, p. 19 ; Ferri^res, iii. 
106 ; Prudhomme, Crimes, iv. 38. 

* ORoederer, p. 22. « Buchez et!Roux, xv. 117. 

* See statement of Santerre on these payments to working-men quoted 
in the Memoirs of the Comiesse de Bohm (edition de Lescure), p. 196. 


tumult; but besides these, terrible freaks of humanity, half 
naked, half in rags, dregs not only of the Paris underworld but 
of foreign cities, Italians, negroes and negresses, brigands of the 
South, bearing as well as the usual revolutionary weapons — pikes, 
scythes, pick-axes, knotted sticks, and rusty swords — horrible 
emblems of their own devising — filthy trousers held aloft on poles, 
the badge of the Sans-Culottes, the bleeding heart of a calf 
labelled " Aristocrat's heart," toy gibbets, hangmen's ropes. 
Eye-witnesses speak shudderingly of this procession ; nothing so 
revolting had ever yet been seen in Paris. 

The organizers of the movement — ^who as usual remained 
prudently in the background — had every reason to congratulate 
themselves on the success of their efforts ; never before in the 
whole course of the Revolution had so formidable a mob been 
collected : barely looo people had marched on the Bastille, 8000 
on Versailles, but now on the 20th of June certain contemporaries 
declare that no less than 20,000 men, women, and children took 
part in the movement.^ Arithmetically they constituted only 
about one-thirtieth of the population of the city; still this number 
was sufficient to give some semblance of truth to the assertion 
that " the whole people " had risen in the cause of liberty. 

It was more than sufficient to alarm the Assembly, who, hear- 
ing that the vanguard of the army consisting of 8000 people were 
at the door of the Assembly demanding admittance, were called 
upon instantly to decide whether the procession should be 
allowed to march through the hall with their arms. " Since they 
are 8000, and we are only 745," cried one deputy overcome with 
panic, *' this is the moment to close the sitting and depart ! " 
Hua, more courageous, declared that the Assembly should stand 
its ground and refuse the mob admittance. " Who are these 
men calling themselves the people who bring us a petition with 
cannons and pikes ? Close the doors ; they may break them 
down if they wish, but at least the Assembly will not have 
received them and will have maintained its dignity ! " 

But the Girondins — Vergniaud, Guadet, Lasource — whose 
collusion with the mob leaders was a guarantee for their personal 
safety, arose indignantly to demand that " the people " should 
be allowed to enter and place their " sufferings and anxieties " 
before the Assembly. At this Jaucourt aptly exclaimed, " It 
is evident that those who brought them here cannot send them 
away again ! " 

* On this point contemporaries are entirely disagreed. Napoleon, an 
eye-witness of the scene, put the crowd at only 6000 ; Beaulieu says 8000, 
but Roederer says 20,000. Mr. Croker believed this to be an intentional 
exaggeration in order " to make the mob pass for the people " and to excuse 
the terror of the Assembly. 


Other members rose to speak, when suddenly the waiting 
crowd, whose angry murmur had been growing louder, broke 
down the barriers and burst into the hall. A scene of indescrib- 
able confusion followed ; cries of protest and alarm arose from all 
parts of the Assembly ; members sprang on to the benches and 
vainly strove to make their voices heard above the tumult. 
The President hastily put on his hat to signify that the sitting 
was ended. Finally the advance-guard of the mob was driven 
out again, and after further discussion the Assembly decided to 
admit a deputation of " the people." The orator of the deputa- 
tion, a man named Sylvestre Huguenin, formerly a deserter from 
the army, now an agent of brothels, was certainly not calculated 
to inspire confidence in the pacific disposition of his followers. 
Tall and gaunt, with a bald forehead, bloodshot eyes, a dry and 
withered skin, his aspect was no less frightful than the tirade 
he now deUvered to the Assembly, of which every word was a 
veiled provocation to assassinate the King. " A single man 
shall not influence the will of 20,000 men. If out of considera- 
tion we maintain him in his post, it is on condition that he fills 
it constitutionally ; if he fails to do this he counts for nothing 
to the French nation and deserves the extreme penalty." ^ As an 
address supposed to have been framed by the inhabitants of 
Saint-Antoine the thing was the clumsiest of frauds, for in this, 
as in every other bogus petition presented to the Assembly, the 
phraseology of the Jacobin Club was clearly recognizable. Thus 
the working-men of Saint-Antoine were represented as saying : 
" Imitate Cicero and Demosthenes and unveil before the whole 
Senate the perfidious machinations of Catilina 1 " or again in 
a wild medley of metaphor : " The people will it so, and their 
head is of as much value as that of crowned despots. That 
head is the genealogical tree of the nation, sind beneath that 
sturdy oak the feeble reed must bend." 

At each sanguinary threat the galleries broke out into tumultu- 
ous applause, and it was then decided to allow the Faubourgs 
to march through the Assembly. Immediately the wild horde, 
of which a great number were now reeling under the influence of 
drink, entered the hall led by Santerre and St. Huruge ; first 
came seven or eight musicians playing the " f a ira ! " and behind 
them women armed with sabres singing and dancing to the 
strains, the men brandishing their ragged banners and ghastly 
trophies on the end of poles, and all shrieking incoherently, 
" Long five the Sans-Culottes ! Long live the nation ! Down 
with the Veto ! " 

" The procession," says the deputy Hua, " lasted for three 

^ These words in italics given by Maton de la Varenne are suppressed 
by the Moniteur and Buchez et Roux. 


hours ; hideous countenances were there ; I can still see that 
moving forest of pikes, those handkerchiefs, those rags that 
served as standards. ..." Meanwhile outside the hall an 
immense congestion had taken place. In order to understand 
this we must reaUze the situation of the hall occupied by the 
Assembly. This hall was the royal Manage, that is to say, the 
riding-school of the Tuileries, and stood on the spot where at 
the present day the Rue Castiglione joins the Rue de Rivoli. At 
the time of the Revolution neither of these streets existed, for the 
great gardens of the convents and private houses of the Rue Saint- 
Honore stretched right up to the line now occupied by the Rue 
de RivoU, and were separated from the Tuileries only by a long and 
narrow courtyard known as the Cour du Manage, whilst a still 
narrower passage — the Passage des Feuillants — took the place 
of the Rue Castiglione leading from the Rue Saint-Honore to 
the Porte des Feuillants opening into the Tuileries gardens. 
The hall of the Assembly was entered by two doors, one in the 
Cour du Manege, the other in the Passage des Feuillants, and it 
was at this latter entrance that the mob had drawn up demanding 
admittance. During the delay that ensued the rearguard of the 
procession continued to pour into the passage which, since the 
Porte des Feuillants was locked, formed a blind alley, and soon 
became packed to suffocation. Thereupon the crowd, stifling 
for want of air and wearied with inaction, began to seek an outlet, 
and whilst one party proceeded to break open the Porte des 
Feuillants and swarm into the gardens of the Tuileries, another 
bethought themselves of the poplar tree they had brought with 
them on a cart to represent the " tree of liberty." 

Now the planting of this tree was to have formed the principal 
ceremony of the day, and the people, finding that their leaders 
had failed to carry out their programme, took the law into their 
own hands and, bursting into the garden of the Capucin convent 
next to the Assembly, amused themselves by planting there the 
tree of liberty. This diversion ended, the crowd began to grow 
bored, and were on the point of dispersing when the roll of drums 
and the strains of the " (^a ira! " sounding from the hall of the 
Assembly rallied them once more, and the whole mass moved 
forward through the doorway. 

This long delay was undoubtedly an error on the part of the 
conspirators, for it had taken the first edge off the people's 
frenzy, who, if they had been marched straight on the Tuileries, 
might have shown themselves capable of greater violence. As it 
was, by the time they had finished parading through the hall, not 
only had they worked off a great part of their excitement, but 
also, no doubt, the effects of the wine that had inspired their 
hilarious entry to the Assembly. 


It was nearly four o'clock when at last Santerre, comprehend- 
ing the necessity of getting to the real business of the day, began 
to herd his flock towards the exit, crying out in stentorian tones, 
" Forward ! March ! " The supreme moment had arrived. 
The terrible crowd of ragged men and women, victims of vice and 
misery, were now to consummate the crime that for three years 
the conspirators had vainly striven to effect. Three times 
already — on the 17th of July and the 6th of October 1789, and 
on the i8th of April 1791 — this same rabble of Paris had been 
driven forward against their King, and on each occasion had 
refrained from violence ; now for the last time the great attempt 
was to be made, and, to judge by the ferocious aspect they pre- 
sented, there seemed little doubt that amongst this savage horde 
a murderous hand would not be wanting.^ 

Santerre and St. Huruge, indeed, were evidently so confident 
that " the people " could be depended on to carry out the crime 
that, instead of marching at their head as they had done in the 
morning when leading them to the Assembly, they prudently re- 
mained behind in the hall. There was every reason to prefer this 
safe retreat, for to-day it appeared that the military authorities 
intended to oppose a very vigorous resistance to any invasion of 
the Chateau. Ten battalions of the National Guard were ranged 
along the west terrace, two more were stationed at the south end 
by the river, four other battaUons as well as five or six hundred 
mounted police and twenty cannons guarded the Cour Roy ale. 

So on this occasion it was not merely the prime authors of the 
movement — Brissot, Danton, Petion, Manuel — ^who according to 
their invariable custom remained in the background, but even the 
mob leaders themselves who retreated into safety, leaving it to 
the wretched instruments they had collected to do the deed 
and face the consequences. It is remarkable that in aU the 
accounts of the day we find no mention of any of the usual 
agitators — Rotondo, Grammont, Malga, or Foumier TAmericain 
— minghng with the crowd at this stage of the proceed- 
ings ; even Theroigne seems to have vanished, for we hear no 
more of her after her start for the Assembly at the head of her 

The mob, left therefore entirely to its own devices, streamed 
along the Cour du Manege in the direction of the Chateau, and 
then paused as if uncertain whether to go on to the Place du 

^ Even Roederer is obliged to admit that this was the idea of the 
leaders : " The lack of concerted action between the people assembled 
seems to leave room for only one opinion — that the boldest and most 
subtle plotters of violence hoped that amongst so many disorderly people 
a fanatical hand would be raised against the monarch for whom it had not 
been thought necessary to designate or even to seek out an assassin." 
{Chronique des Cinquante Jours (edition de Lescure), p. 38). 



Carrousel or whether to break into the garden of the Tuileries 
by the gate on their right known as the " Porte du Dauphin." 
It was, apparently, Mouchet, a httle bandy-legged municipal 
officer stationed at this gateway, who persuaded them to adopt 
the latter course, and thereupon the whole crowd poured into 
the garden. 1 

But still the uncomprehending herd failed to enter into the 
designs of the conspirators, for they made no attempt to invade 
the Chateau — which was most accessible from this side — but 
proceeded along the terrace to the gate leading out on to the quay, 
and during this march past the troops their behaviour was so 
peaceable that the King with his family and entourage looking 
down on the procession from the windows, and watching it file 
through the gateway with immense relief, concluded the move- 
ment to have ended : for a moment it appeared that the 6th of 
October was not to be repeated. 

Once outside the garden the crowd turned to the left, but 
instead of continuing its way along the quay drew up outside the 
gateway leading into the Carrousel, where they were met by the 
extraordinary notice, here posted up, that only " people armed, 
no matter in what way," were to be admitted. In response to 
this invitation — issued evidently by municipal officers in collu- 
sion with the leaders — the whole mob, armed and unarmed, 
poured into the square. Yet even now the people showed no 
intention of invading the Chateau, but streamed onwards to the 
Rue Saint-Ni9aise, apparently with the intention of returning 
whence they came. The fact is that the day was very hot, and 
the people having been on their feet since dawn were growing 
tired of the whole performance. The tree of hberty had been 
planted, the petition read aloud to the Assembly, and now they 
were ready to go home.^ 

But Santerre and St. Huruge had been informed of the hitch 
in the proceedings, and, reaHzing that if the invasion of the 
Tuileries was to be accomphshed they must place themselves 
once more at the head of the movement, they now appeared on the 
scene. Santerre, addressing his contingent from Saint-Antoine, 
shouted peremptorily, " Why have you not got into the Chateau ? 
We must get in ! it was for that we came here ! " ^ And turning 
to his gunners he ordered them to follow him with their cannons,j 

' It was at this moment that Napoleon Bonaparte, coming out of] 
a restaurant near the Palais Royal with Bourrienne, made his memor- 
able exclamation : " What imbeciles, how could they allow that rabble j 
{canaille) to enter ? They should have swept away four or five hundredj 
of them with cannons and the rest would still be running ! " {Mdmoirei 
de Bourrienne, i. 49). 

* Mortimer Ternaux, i. 184 ; Buchez et Roux. xv. 118. 

" Buchez et Roux, xv. 118. 


declaring that if the doors were closed to them they must be 
broken down with cannon-balls. Then the mob, rallying at the 
word of command, surged en masse towards the gateway of the 
Cour Roy ale. 

As we have already seen, the troops ranged round the gateway 
were far more than enough to resist the incursion of the crowd, 
and although the hundred mounted poUce in the Carrousel showed 
a disinchnation to use force, the National Guard at the first 
onslaught offered a spirited resistance. " We will die rather than 
let them enter ! " cried some ; and others answered, " But we 
have no orders and no officers to command us ! " And this was 
true, for RamainviUiers, their commander, remained absolutely 
inert, afterwards giving as his reason that having received 
no orders from the mayor he could not take upon himself to pro- 
claim martial law ; but since the mayor was Petion, the principal 
organizer of the movement, this omission is hardly surprising. 

The truth is evidently that, as on the 12th and 14th of July 
and on the 5th of October 1789, the miUtary leaders were 
paralysed by their knowledge of what Mr. Croker well describes 
as " the King's unfortunate monomania that no blow should 
ever be struck in his defence." This being so they dared not offer 
resistance, uncertain as to the consequences if any injury were 
done to the people. Maintaining, therefore, their attitude of 
strict neutrality, they allowed the mob to advance their cannons 
and point them against the great gateway of the Cour Royale. 

By what perfidy was this gateway at last opened ? It is 
impossible to say with certainty, for just as at the siege of the 
Bastille an unseen hand had let down the last drawbridge, and at 
the invasion of Versailles another unseen hand unlocked the gate 
into the Cour de Marbre, so by the same mysterious agency the 
courtyard of the Tuileries was thrown open to the invaders. 
Santerre, says Roederer, had made sure beforehand of two 
municipal officers, and these men, rightly calculating on the 
authority inspired by their scarves of office, now came forward 
and in imperious tones demanded that the gates should be 
opened. Whoever then obeyed this order, ^ the fact remains 
that the great bar fastening the gates was raised from within and 
instantly the crowd poured into the Cour Royale. 

Then at last four officers, more courageous than their 
comrades — Mandat, Pinon, Vanotte, and Acloque, a brewer 
of the Faubourg Saint -Ant oine, rushed forward to close 
the doorway leading to the great staircase of the palace, 

1 Boucher R6n6, a municipal officer, in his evidence to the police 
says " a gunner " ; La Reynie, who declared Boucher R6n6 to be one of 
the officers to give the order, says "men of the National Guard." 
Roederer and Mortimer Ternaux accept the latter statement. 


summoning National Guards, gunners, and policemen to 
their aid. But it was too late now to command obedience ; 
the gunners, urged on by Santerre, were already in open rebellion 
and thrust aside the officers in command. 

Santerre was still reluctantly compelled to remain at the 
head of the mob and conduct operations. For even at this crisis 
the great mass of the people continued to display indifference, 
and seemed, says Roederer, " to be only misled or carried away, 
or brought there by curiosity, and not to understand that it was 
an outrage on the King to violate his palace. Several were 
yawning with fatigue and boredom. It would have been easy 
to count the men led by violent passions and ferocious designs." ^ 

Seeing this, a group of law-abiding citizens, who had collected 
at the foot of the staircase, came forward and angrily apostro- 
phized Santerre, threatening to make him responsible for all 
the harm that might come from this fatal day, " because," they 
said to him, " you alone are the author of this unconstitutional 
assemblage, you alone have misled these good people, and amongst 
them all you alone are a scoundrel ! " At this Santerre turned 
pale, and exchanging a glance with his ally, the butcher Legendre, 
he turned to his troops and uttered these hypocritical words : 
" Messieurs, draw up an official report of my refusal to march at 
your head into the King's apartments ! " ^ Then the ruffians 
that composed the cowardly brewer's following, understanding 
his intention, threw the honest citizens to the ground, and like a 
great tidal wave the mob, once more lashed to fury, burst into 
the Chateau. So tremendous was the impetus of that mighty 
onrush that a cannon, carried by the invaders, was borne upon 
their shoulders right up the splendid staircase, wreathed with 
the emblems of Louis XIV. and the arms of Colbert, into the 
huge Salle des Cent Suisses, and there jammed in the doorway, 
momentarily stemming the tide. But the obstacle was quickly 
removed with hatchet blows upon the woodwork, and the crowd 
swept onwards to the OEil de Boeuf . 

Now at last they were on the threshold of that abode of 
mystery — the King's apartments. Undoubtedly, amongst the 
great proportion of the people, the predominating emotion at this 
tremendous moment was curiosity, tinged with superstitious awe, 
for, in the minds of many of the poor denizens of the Faubourgs, 
royalty had not yet lost its glamour, in spite of all the agitators' 
efforts to ridicule and degrade it. But that tumultuous sea 
nevertheless held dangerous elements, brains that throbbed 
wildly to the tune of the " (J^a ira ! " hands that closed around 
murderous weapons in feverish anticipation of coming violence, 

^ Roederer, p. 46. 
2 DSposition de La Reynie, Buchez et Roux, xv. 118. 


and in these disordered imaginations superstition assumed a 
terrible form — it was not Louis XVL, the descendant of St. Louis, 
they were now to meet face to face, but that sinister personage 
" Monsieur Veto " — Nero, MachiaveUi, and Charles IX. in one 
— the sanguinary monster, and his still more guilty consort, who 
with diabolical cunning had lulled a confiding people into 
security whilst planning a second massacre of St. Barthelemy 
— perhaps on that same Quai du Louvre their feet had traversed 
to the Chateau. Goaded to frenzy by these visions, the leaders 
of the mob continued to beat on the closed doors, clamouring 
loudly for admittance ; then, meeting with no response, they 
proceeded to attack them with their weapons; beneath their 
savage blows the lower panels yielded and fell inwards — instantly 
a cluster of pikes was thrust menacingly through the opening. 
Suddenly from the inside a voice cried out, " Open ! I have 
nothing to fear from Frenchmen ! " A Swiss guard threw wide 
the doors. The crowd surged forward, then, Uke an angry wave 
drawing back with a roar of foam, halted in confusion, for before 
them stood — the King. The sensation produced on the crowd 
by this sudden apparition, all contemporaries record, was one of 
stupor — they were utterly disconcerted, for here they saw before 
them no sanguinary monster but a homely personage, none the 
more imposing for all his powdered hair and embroidered coat, who 
stood regarding them with an expression of extreme benevolence 
obviously unmixed with fear. Louis XVI. was not afraid at that 
frightful moment. When the faithful Acloque had rushed into 
his room, where all the Royal Family had collected, to announce 
the incursion of the mob, the King had instantly decided to go 
forward to meet them, only insisting that the Queen, against 
whom the people's hatred had been principally directed, should 
remain in safety ; and whilst Marie Antoinette, finally prevented 
by force from following him, was hurried into the bedroom of 
the Dauphin, the King passed cahnly to the OEil de Boeuf , with 
Madame Ehzabeth chnging to his arm, and followed by those 
of his loyal defenders who had remained at his side. Two hours 
earlier the King, foreseeing the invasion of the Chateau, had sent 
away nearly all his retainers lest their presence should serve to 
initate the populace, but several — amongst them the old Marechal 
de Mouchy, that bizarre personage the Chevalier de Rougeville, 
and brave young CanoUes, a boy of eighteen who had belonged 
to the King's old bodyguard — had refused to leave him ; others, 
borrowing pikes and ragged garments from some of the insurgents, 
mingled with the mob, and thus disguised hovered around the 
King for his protection.^ Arrived in the OEil de Boeuf, Louis 
XVI. called four grenadiers of the National Guard to his side, 

* MSmoires de Hua, p. 136. 


and one of these, De la Chesnaye, seeing that the doors were about 
to be broken down, said to the King, " Sire, do not be afraid." 
" I am not afraid," answered the King; " put your hand on my 
heart, it is cahn and tranquil," and taking the hand of the 
grenadier he pressed it to his heart, which in truth beat no 
faster in the face of the appaUing danger. 

What was the secret of the King's intrepidity ? Revolution- 
aries, obhged to admit his amazing sangfroid at this crisis, have 
tried to explain it by the natural phlegm of his character, but 
in reaUty his courage throughout the Revolution can always be 
traced to the same cause — the fact that, as Bertrand de Molleville 
observed, he was never afraid when he was face to face with the 
people. It was this conviction that from the people themselves 
he had nothing to fear which had nerved him to take that perilous 
journey to Paris on the 17th of July 1789, which had enabled 
him to confront the raging mob on the 6th of October, and which 
now again on the 20th of June inspired him with the serenity 
that amazed all beholders. So, by the calm and undaunted aspect 
of the King, the ragged horde was momentarily brought to bay 
on the threshold of the (Eil de Boeuf . But certain of the brigands, 
having recovered from the first shock of surprise, thrust their way 
into the room, brandishing pikes and sabres as they called aloud 
for the death of the King. The Swiss Guards drew their swords, 
but Louis XVI. interposed : " Put back your swords in their 
scabbards, I command you." Then a man, armed with a 
stick to which a spear had been aiSixed, sprang forward 
crying out, " Where is Veto that I may kill him ? " Whereat 
young Canolles threw himself on the assassin, and forcing him to 
his knees at the King's feet obUged him to call out, " Vive 
le Roi ! " 1 

This act of courage had the effect of once more stupefying 
the crowd, and the King's defenders, profiting by the pause that 
ensued, succeeded in leading him to a seat in the recess of a 
window, forming there a rampart round him with their bodies. 
The heroic band included the four grenadiers of the National 
Guard, the Marechal de Mouchy, aged seventy-seven, the intrepid 
brewer Acloque, and Stephanie de Bourbon-Conti, the natural 
daughter of the Prince de Conti, who had armed herself with a 
sword and sabre, and throughout the day never ceased defending 
the King from the onslaughts of his assassins. ^ 

Meanwhile Madame EUzabeth showed herself no less heroic ; 
hearing the mob crying out for the head of the Queen she came 
forward and, offering her breast to their daggers, said, " Here 

^ Histoire particulUre, etc., by Maton de la Varenne. Canolles was 
guillotined for this action on May 23, 1794. 
* Ibid, 



is the Queen ! " Several of her retainers cried out, " No, no, 
she is not the Queen, she is Madame Ehzabeth ! " 

" Ah, messieurs," she answered, " why undeceive them ? 
Were it not better that they shed my blood than that of my 
sister ? " The murderous weapons were lowered, and Madame 
Elizabeth was placed by her defenders in the embrasure of the 
window next to the one occupied by the King. 

For four terrible hours Louis XVI. and Madame Elizabeth 
endured the threats and insults of the crowd. All through the 
hot June afternoon they breathed the fetid atmosphere exhaled 
by the densely packed mass of rags and nakedness that pressed 
around them ; they saw before their eyes all that was basest and 
most degraded in human nature, the dregs of foreign countries, 
above all brigands from the South, vomiting imprecations, 
dangling before their eyes those horrible emblems — the bleeding 
heart labelled "Coeur d'aristocrate," a miniature gallows to which 
a female figure was attached with the words " For Antoinette," 
a guillotine bearing the inscription " For the tyrant." 

Close to the King's side a group of men had thrown themselves 
into the gilded armchairs of the palace, and gathered around a 
table covered with bottles of wine sat smoking and drinking 
amidst the tumult.^ Some one passed a bottle to the King, 
ordering him to drink the health of the nation ; at the same time 
a cap of liberty was thrust upon his head.^ Louis XVI. raised 
the bottle to his lips, exclaiming, " People of Paris, I drink to 
your health and to the health of the French nation ! " This 
courageous action, derided by the revolutionaries, went straight 
to the hearts of the people,^ who broke out into applause, cr5dng, 
" Vive la nation ! Vive la liberte ! " and even " Vive le Roi ! " If 
only Louis XVI. had known how to make the most of this moment, 
it is possible that the invasion of his palace would have turned into 
an ovation in his favour ; unhappily his slow-moving mind could 
never devise those happy phrases that exercised so great a power 
over the emotional Parisians. To this drama-loving people 
a King who on occasion could " strike an attitude," show 
himself commanding and heroic, must have proved irresistible. 
Louis XVI. was hopelessly undramatic ; his speech proceeded 
always directly from his heart, never from his imagination ; he 

^ Mimoires de Hua. 

* According to Maton de la Varenne it was Santerre who thrust the 
cap of liberty on to the King's head ; according to Beaulieu it was Clement, 
but other contemporaries relate that the King put it on of his own accord. 
This seems improbable, and is contradicted by the King's statement to 
Bertrand de MoUeville. 

' " What saved Louis XVI. was his presence of mind in putting on the 
bonnet rouge and in drinking from a bottle offered him by a real Sans- 
Culotte " {Crimes de la Revolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 43). 


could not calculate effects, declaim to order, play upon the 
emotions of the mobile crowd as the revolutionary leaders knew 
so well how to do, and thus at this supreme moment he remained 
inarticulate, leaving it to his enemies to wrest his victory from 
him. Legendre pressed forward and addressed him brutally : 

" Monsieur, you are there to hsten to us. You are a traitor, 
you have always deceived us, you are deceiving us still. But 
have a care, the measure is overflowing, and the people are tired 
of being your plaything." And he read aloud a petition filled 
with threats and insults, " expressing the wishes of the people, 
whose orator he declared himself to be." The King answered 
calmly : 

" I shall do that which the law and the Constitution order 
me to do." 

Whilst these scenes were taking place the mayor, Petion, 
arrived, and making his way through the crowd addressed the 
King in these hypocritical words : 

" Sire, I have only this instant heard of the situation in which 
you have been placed." 

" That is very surprising," Louis XVI. interrupted brusquely, 
" since this has been going on for two hours." 

" The zeal of the mayor of Paris," Condorcet afterwards had 
the effrontery to declare, " the ascendant that his virtues and his 
patriotism exercised over the people, prevented all disorders " ; 
as a matter of fact his presence served as a direct encouragement 
to disorder, for, since not a word of protest escaped him during 
the whole course of the afternoon, the brigands quickly recognized 
in him an ally and, protected by the support his of&cial position 
afforded, proceeded to greater violence. Forcing their way to the 
front of the crowd they lunged at the King with their weapons, 
which were deflected only by the bayonets of the four courageous 
grenadiers. Two young men, Clement and Bourgoing, wearing 
long caps on which the words " La Mort " were inscribed in large 
letters, called out loudly for the death of the King and all the 
Royal Family. Clement, taking up his stand beside the mayor, 
continued to repeat incessantly the parrot phrases composed by 
the authors of the agitation : " Sire ! Sire ! I demand in the 
name of the 100,000 souls around me the recall of the patriot 
ministers you have dismissed ! I demand the sanction of the 
decree on the priests and on the 20,000 men and the fulfilment 
of the law, or you will perish ! " Throughout this tirade, accom- 
panied by furious gestures, Petion uttered no remonstrance, and, 
not content with compHmenting the people on their behaviour, 
afterwards declared to the Assembly that " no one had been 
insulted, that no excess or offence had been committed, and the 
King himself had no cause of complaint." 


On this day, at any rate, Louis XVI. showed himself not only 
heroic but capable of really amazing resolution. To the re- 
iterated demand for the sanction of the two decrees and the recall 
of the ministers he repUed immovably, " This is neither the 
moment for you to ask nor for me to accord," and in the matter 
of the decree on the priests he added, " I would rather renounce 
my crown than submit to such a tyranny of consciences." 

It was at this crisis that a deputation arrived from the 
Assembly. The scene that met their eyes was indescribable ; the 
splendid Salle de I'CEil de Bceuf presented the appearance of 
a tavern — through the suffocating atmosphere, thick with the 
fumes of foul tobacco, Louis XVI. was seen seated in the em- 
brasure of the window, the red cap of liberty still perched upon 
his powdered head, contemplating his strange guests with perfect 

When the deputies came forward to inform him that " the 
Assembly would neglect no means for ensuring his Uberty," the 
King, indicating by a gesture the carousing brigands, the wine- 
bottles, the guns, the pikes, and sanguinary emblems by which 
he was surrounded, answered briefly, " So you see ! " Then 
turning to a member of the deputation he added with a sudden 
rare flash of humour, " You who have travelled much, what do 
you think they would say of us in foreign countries ? " ^ 

Certain of the deputies venturing to repeat to the King that 
they had come to ensure his safety, Louis XVI. repUed that he 
was in the midst of the French people and had nothing to fear.^ 
Again turning to one of the grenadiers he placed the man's 
hand on his heart, saying, " See whether this is the movement 
of a heart agitated by fear ! " ^ 

The intrepid attitude of the King was not without its effect 
on his assailants, and by eight o'clock in the evening it became 
evident that little hope remained of his assassination. Petion, 
therefore realizing that nothing was now to be gained by further 
agitation, decided that the moment had come to pose as the 
restorer of law and order. Accordingly, mounting an armchair, 
he addressed the crowd of pikes and rags, the bearers of toy 
guillotines and gibbets, the drunken and half-naked brigands 
from the South, in the following words : 

"People, you have shown yourselves worthy of yourselves! 
You have preserved all your dignity amidst acute alarms. No 
excess has suUied your subhme movements. Hope and beheve 

^ MSmoires de Ferriires, iii. 115. 

* Evidence of the deputies Brunck and Lejosne, Moniteur, xii. 719. 

^ Evidence of the deputy Alos, ibid. The grenadier, a tailor by pro- 
fession ^named Lalanne, was guillotined later " for having boasted that 
Capet had taken his hand and held it to his heart " (Granier de Cassagnac, 
Causes de la Revolution, iii. 217). 


that your voice will at last be heard. But night approaches, and 
its shadows might favour the attempts of ill-disposed persons to 
glide into your bosom. People, withdraw yourselves ! " ^ 

The mob, comprehending that this was really an order to 
disperse, showed themselves only too eager to comply and surged 
towards the doors. But the leaders had resolved to make a 
further venture and, instead of herding the people towards the 
staircase, led them to the Council Chamber where the Queen and 
her children had taken refuge. Santerre had already preceded 
them thither. On the arrival of the deputies, realizing the 
failure of the movement, he had been heard to mutter angrily, 
" Le coup est manque ! " ^ But if the King had succeeded in 
overawing " that fooUsh herd, the people," the Queen might still 
serve to rouse their fury, so collecting a horde of brigands around 
him, and followed by a large portion of the mob, he had set forth 
in search of this further victim. 

Now on the first incursion of the crowd into the Chateau, 
whilst the main army attacked the (Eil de Boeuf , a band of furies 
had broken into the Queen's apartments on the ground floor and 
ransacked every comer in the hunt for their prey. Meanwhile 
Marie Antoinette, upstairs in the Dauphin's bedroom, vainly 
endeavoured to follow Louis XVI. into the (Eil de Boeuf. " Let 
me pass," she cried to the gentlemen who barred her way, " my 
place is with the King. I wiU join him, or perish if necessary in 
defending him." But convinced at last that any attempt to 
penetrate the sea of pikes that separated her from Louis XVL 
must prove the signal for bloodshed, she allowed herself to be 
drawn into the embrasure of the window in the Salle de ConseiL 
It was here that Santerre and his horde discovered her. Behinc 
the great council-table Marie Antoinette sat surrounded by he 
ladies — Madame de Tourzel, Madame de la Roche -Aymon, 
Madame de Maille, and the heroic Princesse de Tarente, ready t< 
shed the last drop of her blood in defence of the Queen. By th< 
side of Marie Antoinette stood little Madame Royale ; tl 
Dauphin was seated on the table with his mother's arms aroun< 
him. In front several rows of grenadiers belonging to the 
loyal battaUon of the " Filles-Saint-Thomas " were drawn uj 
Santerre roughly ordered this bodyguard to stand aside : " Maki 
way that the people may see the Queen ! " Instantly the crowd] 
rushed forward pouring forth imprecations, but at the sight of j 
the grenadiers paused uncertainly. One woman, bolder than thej 
rest, flung a red cap of liberty down on the table, and in foulj 
language ordered the Queen to place it on the head of the Dauphin. 

^ Memoires de Hua. The Moniteur tones down this discourse. 
2 Dernieres annies . . . de Louis XVI, by Frangois Hue, p. 239; 
Fantin Desodoards, op. cit. ii. 300. 


The hideous badge of the galley-slave was drawn over the boy's 
fair curls. 

The Queen and the brave women around her endured their 
terrible ordeal without a sign of weakness. When the main 
body of the ragged army, after evacuating the (Eil de Boeuf , were 
driven through the Chambre de Conseil past the council-table, 
Marie Antoinette looked still unmoved at the ghastly emblems 
thrust before her eyes — the gibbet from which her eifigy was sus- 
pended, the banners bearing obscene legends ; she heard with- 
out a tremor the furious imprecations mouthed at her by the 
dishevelled furies, and, as on the 6th of October, ended by disarm- 
ing her assailants. The strange power that had touched even the 
corrupt heart of Mirabeau, that had changed Barnave from a 
sanguinary demagogue into a royahst ready to die in her defence, 
that later was to win reluctant admiration from her gaolers and 
wring pity from the tricoteuses at the Revolutionary Tribunal, 
gradually made itself felt amongst the women crazed with drink 
and revolutionary frenzy who gazed at her across the council- 
table at the Tuileries. Some of the furies in the crowd, melted 
to tenderness by the sight of the Queen — after all a woman and 
a mother hke themselves, sheltering with her arm her Uttle son 
who looked with wondering eyes at the strange spectacle before 
him — cried out that they would shed the last drop of their blood 
for the Queen and the Dauphin. Another, better remembering 
her lesson, began to pour forth fresh invectives, whereat the 
Queen asked gently, " Have I done you any injury ? " "No," 
said the woman, " but it is you who cause the unhappiness of the 
nation." " So they have told you," answered Marie Antoinette, 
" but you have been deceived. I am the wife of the King of 
France, the mother of the Dauphin. I am French ; never again 
shall I see my own country. I can only be happy or unhappy in 
France. I was happy when you loved me." 

Then the fury, bursting into tears, besought the Queen's 
pardon, sobbing out, " It was that I did not know. I see now 
how good you are." ^ 

At this Santerre, stupefied at the turn affairs had taken, 
exclaimed, " What is the matter with this woman that she weeps 
thus ? She must be drunk with wine." ^ 

But a moment later Santerre, pushing his way through the 
crowd, found himself face to face with the Queen and suddenly 
fell likewise beneath her spell.^ Planting his two fists on the 
table he roughly ordered the bystanders to take the red cap off 
the head of the Dauphin, who was stifling beneath its heat ; then 
turning to the Queen he said, " Ah, Madame, have no fear, I 

^ Memoires de Mme. Campan, p. 331. 
* Vie de Marie Antoinette, by Montjoie, p. 323. ^ n^id. 


do not wish to harm you, I would rather defend you ! " but 
quickly repenting of his weakness he added brutally, " Re- 
member that it is dangerous to deceive the people ! " 

At these words Marie Antoinette raised her head and, looking 
Santerre imperiously in the eye, exclaimed with indignation, 
" It is not by you, monsieur, that I judge the people ! " ^ 

Santerre, utterly cowed by this reply, had no thought but 
to beat as hasty a retreat as possible. Turning to his brigand 
horde he gave the order to march, and pushing the rest of the 
crowd brutally before him he drove them like trembUng sheep 
from the room.^ 

So in the growing twilight the mighty human tide ebbed from 
the Chateau of the Tuileries, leaving the great rooms " in solitude 
and stupor." 

The Royal Family, once more united, fell weeping into one 
another's arms. The terrible ordeal was at last ended. A few 
moments later several deputies arrived from the Assembly ; one 
turning to the Queen, standing amidst the wreckage left by the 
invaders — the broken furniture, the shattered panels, the doors 
torn from their hinges — observed with unconscious irony, 
" Without excusing everything, you must admit, Madame, that 
the people have shown themselves to be kind-hearted ? " 

" The King and I, monsieur," answered Marie Antoinette, 
" are persuaded of the natural kindness of the people ; they are 
unkind only when they are misled." ^ 

That the King could have been assassinated on this 20th of 
June if the people had felt any unanimous desire for his death, 
there can be no doubt whatever. What could his handful of 
defenders have availed against the determined onslaught of a 
mob numbering many thousand armed men ? If " the people " 
had wished to kill lum, he must have perished then. But on 
this point all contemporaries are agreed. The great majority of 
the crowd seemed throughout struck with stupor, and showed no 
incUnation to join in the insults and bloodthirsty threats of the 

Santerre, driving his herd down the staircase of the Chiteai 

* Vie de Marie Antoinette, by Montjoie, p. 323 ; Maton de la Vareni 
op. cit. 

2 Ferrieres, iii. 119; Maton de la Varenne, op. cit.) Conjuration 
d'Orlians, by Montjoie, iii. 184. 

' Derniires annees . . . de Louis XVI, by Fran9ois Hue, p. 244. 

* " Nothing of all this could move the crowd. Divided between the Kii 
and his sister it remained motionless. One read in all eyes astonishment 
stupidity, or apprehension " (Montjoie, Conjuration de d'Orleans, iii. 181 

" In truth, and we are glad to say it, amongst all the people who intrc 
duced themselves to the apartments very few shared this atrocious attitu( 
It appears, according to various reports, that the greater number onlj 


was heard to exclaim angrily, " The King was difficult to move 
to-day, but we will return to-morrow and make him evacuate ! " ^ 
But some poor creatures, all in rags, murmured to each other, 
" It would be a pity, somehow, he looks Hke a good sort of 
fellow ! " 2 

The day after the invasion of the Tuileries a witness, who 
appeared before a magistrate of Paris, related that he had 
traversed the whole Faubourg Saint-Antoine to discover the dis- 
position of the people, that in an inn close to the Barriere du 
Tr6ne he had Ustened to several men talking, and overheard 
these words : ** Yes, we might have been able . . . but when 
we saw . . . it is so imposing . . . and then we are Frenchmen 
. . . Sacredieu ! if it had been any one else we could have wrung 
his neck Uke a child's . . . but he comes and he says, ' Here I 
am ! Here I am ! ' " The witness added that he had seen several 
of these men who had been led away by Santerre, and they 
assured him that the majority of the citizens of the Faubourg 
were distressed at the action taken towards the King, that it had 
not been their intention, and that one could be sure it would 
never happen again, and that there was something behind all 

The authors of the movement, however, knew no relenting. 
Madame Roland, hearing of the Queen's sufferings on that dread- 
ful afternoon, cried out incontroUably, " Ah ! how I should have 
loved to look on at her long humiliation ! " * 

But Manon's triumph was mingled with bitter disappointment. 
From the point of view of both Girondins and Orleanistes the 
day had proved a failure ; it was not merely to humiliate the Royal 
Family they had planned the invasion of the Tuileries, the great 
coup of the day, as Santerre said, had failed. The people, like 
Balaam's ass, had been driven forward for the fourth time against 
the King, and, seeing the angel with the flaming sword before them 
in the pathway, had refused to move in spite of blows and curses. 
vSo the crime from which the lowest rabble of the Faubourgs 

showed the desire to see the King and Royal Family " {Rapport fait au 
Conseil du Dipartementpar MM. Gamier, Leveillard et Demautort, Com- 
missaires, au Sujet des EvSnements du 20 Juin). * 

" The people, ashamed of finding themselves all at once in the presence 
of their King and in the midst of his apartments, seemed frightened by 
their own temerity, at the sight of the ancient majesty of the throne that 
fourteen centuries of respect had in some way rendered sacred " (Ferri^res, 
iii. 113). 

* Evidence of soldiers and commissioners. Revue retrospective, 2**™® 
serie, tome i. pp. 213, 254. 

2 Crimes de la Rivolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 43. 

» Declarations de la Reynie et Fay el regues par le Juge de Paix de la Section 
du Roi de Sidle. 

* Lamartine, Histoire des Girondins, iii. 3. 


had shrunk was left to men of education, to philosophers, and 
" intellectuals " to execute. 


The " true people," the great mass of the citizens of Paris, 
had, of course, taken no part in the 20 th of June. " For the 
honour of our country," cries Poujoulat, " and for the sake of 
historical truth, it must be known that the crimes and ignominies 
of the French Revolution were not the work of the French 
nation. . . . The people of Paris were not beneath the filthy 
banners of Santerre, St. Huruge, and Theroigne, they were around 
the Tuileries on the 21st of June, raging against these criminal 
attempts, pitying the King and Queen, cursing Petion, the 
Gironde, and the Jacobins, and signing their protestations." 

All over France a great storm of indignation arose ; addresses 
poured in from the provinces, denouncing in vehement language 
the efforts of the factions to overthrow the King and Constitution. 
The department of the Pas de Calais " has learnt with horror 
what took place in the King's palace on the 20th of the month " ; 
Rouen declares the country to be in danger, and demands justice 
of the Assembly : " Punish the authors of the offences committed 
on the 20th of this month at the Chateau of the Tuileries. It is 
a pubHc outrage, it is an attempt on the rights of the French 
people who will not accept laws from a few brigands in the capital ; 
we ask you for vengeance." The department of the Aisne urges 
the Assembly to suppress the Jacobins and cease from dissensions : 
" Put an end to the scandal of your divisions . . . put an end 
to the intolerable oppression, the revolting tyranny of the 
tribunes (the galleries occupied by the claques of the factions). 
The factions of the capital have not the right to dictate pubUc 
opinion. The opinion of Paris is only the opinion of the 83rd 
part of the Empire. We demand vengeance for the execrable 
day of June the 20th, day of imperishable shame for Paris, of 
mourning for all France." ^ ,^« 

" The 20th of June," Hua records, '* produced a salutaxHl 
commotion in all minds. . . . The National Guards, more tha^ 
ever roused, offered to the King their services and their entire 
devotion. The inhabitants of Paris, who were particularly 
answerable to France for the King's safety since he left Versailles 
. . . ashamed of the excesses that had just been committed 
in their name, demanded reparation and vengeance. A petition 
addressed to the Assembly bore 20,000 signatures ; it was called 
' the petition of the 20,000.' . . . Nearly all the departments of 
France set themselves to deUberate, and forwarded unanimous 

* Moniteur, xiii. 5. 



demands for the punishment of the outrage. They offered to 
send all the forces that might be needed. It was a universal 
competition ; it seemed as if all France had raised her arm to 
annihilate the factions." ^ 

Needless to say, every effort was made by the Jacobins to 
suppress the reporting of these addresses, to silence the orators 
who were sent to read them aloud at the Assembly, to discredit 
the authors, to prove the signatures fraudulent, and also to pro- 
vide counterblasts in the form of bogus addresses approving the 
events of June 20, and purporting to come from the provinces 
and from the sections of Paris. Thus, for example, on June 25, 
a deputation from Saint-Antoine, calling itself " the men of the 
14th of July," presented itself at the Assembly, led by the profes- 
sional orator, Gonchon, who proceeded to deliver a furious revolu- 
tionary harangue beginning with these words : " Legislators, it 
is we fathers of families, it is we, the conquerors of the Bastille, 
it is we who are persecuted, outraged, and calumniated," etc. 

But where amongst this band of petitioners were the con- 
querors of the Bastille to be found ? Where were " the men of 
the 14th of July " — ^fiUe, Hullin, Tournay, Bonnemere — ^the real 
heroes of that day ? We may look for them in vain amongst the 
ruffianly followers of Gonchon, but if we go into the gardens of the 
Tuileries we shall discover Hullin at that very moment otherwise 
employed. At half-past twelve of this same day, a gendarme 
national reported to the Jacobin Club, he had met the King in 
the Tuileries followed by a crowd of "brigands," at the head of 
which was M. Hullin following the King, and calhng out with 
all his might, " Vive le Roi ! " A sub-lieutenant answered with 
the cry of '^Vive la Nation," whereat " the brave HuUin " dealt 
him a heavy blow on the head, and but for the interposition 
of the gendarme would have marched him off to prison. ^ 

This, then, was the attitude of the real " men of the 14th of 
July " to the second Revolution ; not one of their names occurs 
in the accounts of the outrages committed at the Tuileries or 
in the revolutionary deputations, and the only men of the first 
Revolution whose services the leaders were able to enlist were 
a couple of cut-throats, one of which named Soudin had dis- 
tinguished himself by washing the heads of Foullon and Berthier 
and deHvering them as trophies to the mob.^ 

As for Gonchon himself, who had now passed from the 
Orleanistes into the pay of the Girondins, CamiUe Desmoulins 

^ Mdmoires de Hua, p. 138 ; Deux Amis, viii. 19 ; Dumont, Souvenirs 
de Mirabeau : " The whole mass of France was weary of the excesses of the 
Jacobins, and the outrage of June the 20th had excited a general indigna- 
tion." See also Taine, La Revolution, v. 259. 

2 Aulard's Siances des Jacobins, iv. 48. 

' Buchez et Roux, xv. 165, 237. 


afterwards revealed that he had received over 2000 francs from 
Roland merely for reading the bogus petition to the Assembly. ^^ 

By methods such as these the voice of the true people w£ 
stifled, and the character of the French nation misrepresentec 
to the whole civilized world. Nowhere were the outrages oi 
June 20 more bitterly resented than in the armies on the frontiei 
Lafayette at last, overwhelmed with protests from his menj 
decided to leave Liickner in command and hastened to Pe 
Presenting himself at the bar of the Assembly he denouncec 
in burning words, the efforts of the conspirators to overthrow 
the monarchy and Constitution : " The violence committed at 
the Chateau on the 20th of this month has excited the alarm ol 
all good citizens ; I have received addresses from the differeni 
corps of my army. Officers, non-commissioned officers, anc 
men are one, and herein express their patriotic hatred of tl 
factions . . . already many of them wonder whether it is really 
the cause of liberty they are defending. ... I implore, in my o\ 
name and in that of all honest men, that the Assembly shoulc 
take efficacious measures to make constituted authority respectedjl 
and to give the army the assurance that no attacks will be mac 
on the Constitution from the inside, whilst they are shedding 
their blood to protect it from outside enemies." 

In spite of the insults with which the Girondins greeted the 
words, Lafayette succeeded in maintaining his popularity, anc 
he was followed through the streets by crowds shouting, " Do^ 
with the Jacobins ! " But once again " the hero of the t\ 
worlds " showed his lamentable weakness. If at this crisi 
he had used his power and finally closed down the Jacobin Clul 
the whole situation might have been saved. The plan W2 
proposed to him by a deputation of National Guards, whc 
declared that if he would place himself at their head and marchj 
with two cannons to the Rue Saint-Honore, they would undertake! 
to clear the building. But Lafayette, always halting between! 
two opinions — detestation of sedition-mongers on one hand] 
and fear of the ultra- Royalists on the other — refused to accede] 
to the proposal of his grenadiers.^ 

If, under these circumstances, the Queen decUned to avail 
herself of his services, is it altogether surprising ? "It wouldl 
be better to perish than to be saved by Lafayette," she cried, | 
when at this juncture he came forward as champion of the 
monarchy. What reason, indeed, had she to trust him ? La- 
fayette, who before the siege of the Bastille had declared that 
" insurrection was the most sacred of duties," and had then 

^ Fragment d'Histoire secrdte de la Rivolution, by Camille Desmoulins, 

p. 55- 

' Essais de Beaulieu, iii. 396. 



denounced the tumults of July; who had convicted the Due 
d' Orleans of conspiring to usurp the throne, and had then 
faciUtated his return to France; who had subjected the King 
and Queen to the humihations of his intolerable gaolership, and 
then talked of the respect due to the person of the monarch ; 
who at one moment declared himself the opponent of disorders, 
and the next joined in singing " fa ira ! " — what dependence 
was to be placed on such a weathercock ? Throughout the whole 
course of the Revolution it was rather as the enemy of the Due 
d'Orleans than as the supporter of Louis XVI. that he had de- 
fended the throne ; towards the Royal Family he had displayed 
neither sympathy nor allegiance, only when Orleanism raised its 
head Lafayette's hand went to his sword and he became the 
champion of Royalty. In this second Revolution he saw un- 
doubtedly a revival of the hated conspiracy, but what guarantee 
was there that, once he had again succeeded in crushing it, he 
would not use his power to tyrannize over the King ? 

So Lafayette, chilled by his reception at the Court, left Paris 
and returned to the frontier, whilst the Orleanistes triumphantly 
burnt his effigy in the Palais Royal. 

Yet the 20th of June had disappointed the hopes of the 
conspirators, as indeed of all the revolutionary intrigues — 
Orleanistes, Girondins, Subversives, Prussians, EngUsh Jacobins 
alike had met with a severe reverse. For not only had the 
invasion of the Tuileries shown the King in his true character 
to the nation, but in arousing pubUe indignation all over France 
had revealed the true desires of the nation to the world. So 
the day had ended not only in a victory for the King but for 
the people. 





The fiasco of June 20 and the energetic protests of the nation 
convinced the revolutionary leaders that such flimsy pretexts as 
" the dismissal of the three patriot ministers " and the King's 
Veto on the two decrees would not avail to bring about the 
deposition of Louis XVI., and that consequently some more 
potent means must be employed to rouse the people. Calumny 
and corruption had failed, but tenor might yet prove effectual. 
The fear of foreign invasion was one that they well knew could 
always be depended on to rouse the patriotism of the nation, so 
when at the beginning of July Prussian troops arrived on the 
frontier, an admirable pretext was provided for creating a panic 
throughout the country by the proclamation of "La Patrie en 

The country certainly was now in danger of invasion, for the 
outrages endured by the Royal Family on the 20th of June had not 
only incensed the King's brothers and the emigres, but had alarmed 
the Emperor of Austria and the King of Prussia. Frederick 
William at last realized that the revolutionary propaganda he 
had helped to disseminate had gone too far and was endangering 
the cause of monarchy, consequently some feint must be made of 
marching to the rescue of the Royal Family of France ; but that 
he was never disinterested in this intention cannot be doubted 
in the Hght of after events.^ True, the famous " Manifesto of 

1 Albert Sorel has thus admirably explained the policy of the King 
of Prussia in marching to the rescue of Louis XVI. " Conquests having 
escaped him," Frederick William " perceived that he had great duties to 
fulfill towards the world, towards kings, towards Germany. He forgot the 
Hungarians he had stirred up ; the Belgians to whom he had promised inde- 
pendence ; the Turks, the Swedes, and the Poles he had goaded into war. 
. . . Goltz provided the arguments necessary to convince . . . Frederick 
William. This perfect Prussian who had been employing himself in Paris 
... in shaking the throne, recognized that it would be at the same time 
more praiseworthy, more expedient, and more profitable to raise it up again." 
Goltz further calculated that France would have to compensate Austria 
by giving up to her Alsace or Flanders, and Austria should then, in order to 
maintain the balance of power, give up to Prussia equivalent territory in 
Bohemia and Moldavia [V Europe et la Revolution Franfaise, ii. 72). 



Brunswick," which was proclaimed in Paris on the 3rd of August, 
expressed the deepest concern for the safety of the King and 
Queen of France, but merely had the effect of greatly aggravating 
the danger of their position. According to the terms of this 
proclamation, the Emperor of Austria and the King of Prussia 
announce that the great interest nearest to their hearts is " that 
of ending the domestic anarchy of France, of arresting the attacks 
which are directed against the altar and the throne, of re-estab- 
lishing the legitimate power, of giving back to the King the 
freedom and safety of which he is deprived," etc. At this point 
the Manifesto strikes a more diplomatic note, for it goes on 
to say : " Convinced as they are that the healthy portion of the 
French people abhors the excesses of a party that enslaves them, 
and that the majority of the inhabitants are impatiently awaiting 
the advent of a rehef that will permit them to declare themselves 
openly against the odious schemes of their oppressors, his Majesty 
the Emperor, and his Majesty the King of Prussia summon them 
to return at once to the call of reason and justice, of order and 
of peace." The first part of this passage was undoubtedly true ; 
the vast majority of the nation was impatiently awaiting de- 
liverance from the intolerable oppression of the Jacobins, but to 
follow up this conciUatory overture with commands and threats 
was to aHenate even that loyal portion of the people who 
would have rallied around the standard of the King. Thus 
although their Majesties are represented as declaring that they 
have " no intention of interfering with the internal government 
of France," and that " their combined armies will protect all 
towns and villages which submit to the King of France," never- 
theless those inhabitants who fire on the troops " will be punished 
with all the rigour of the laws of war " ; further, that if the 
Tuileries are again invaded, or the least assault perpetrated 
against the Royal Family, " their Imperial and Royal Majesties 
will take an exemplary and never-to-be-forgotten vengeance 
by giving up the town of Paris to miUtary execution and 
total subversion, and the guilty rebels to the death they ha^ 

This amazingly injudicious document, which is frequently 
regarded as a monument of Prussian or of royal arrogance, WJ 
in reahty not the work of a foreigner or of a royal prince at 
but of a French emigre, the Marquis de Limon, formerly financi 
adviser to the Due d' Orleans,^ and though approved by tl 
Emperor and the King of Prussia, it met with violent remoi 
strance from the democratic Duke of Brunswick, who at fii 
refused to append his signature to it, and only compUed at h 
in obedience to the commands of the aforesaid monarchs. 
^ Le Comte de Fersen et ta Cour de France, ii. 25. 


According to Beaulieu, De Limon consulted in the matter a 
certain Heymann, who had served in a regiment of the Due 
d' Orleans ; both these men had formerly played an active part 
in the Orleaniste conspiracy.^ 

It is not, therefore, impossible that the famous Manifesto was 
inspired by Orleaniste influence, and that the misguided Comte 
de Fersen, and through his influence Marie Antoinette, in accord- 
ing it their approval played into the hands of their enemies. 
Fersen, always illusioned as to the good faith of the King of 
Prussia, undoubtedly imagined that the armies of Prussia could be 
counted on to save the Royal Family, and, realizing the cowardice 
of the revolutionary leaders, he beUeved that the threat of 
reprisals might be used with advantage to intimidate them. But 
the revolutionary leaders, better acquainted with the real policy 
of Frederick William, were not intimidated, and in their turn 
made use of the Manifesto to alarm the French people. 

The people of France, though less alarmed than revolutionary 
writers would have us suppose, were, nevertheless, indignant at 
the truculent tone of the Manifesto. " No country," writes Dr. 
Moore, who arrived in Paris this August, " ever displayed a 
nobler or more patriotic enthusiasm than pervades France at 
this moment, and which glows with increasing ardour since 
the pubUcation of the Duke of Brunswick's Manifesto and the 
entrance of the Prussians into the country." 

The revolutionary leaders were clever enough to exploit this 
spirit of patriotism to the utmost, but, as we have seen, the atti- 
tude of certain men amongst them towards Brunswick was far from 
antagonistic. On the 2ist of July, just a week before the pubUca- 
tion of the Manifesto, the author of the Correspondance secrete 
writes : " It is said that it still enters into the plans of the 
Jacobins to come to an understanding with the Duke of Bruns- 
wick by offering him the crown of France." Four days later this 
rumour was confirmed in the press, for on July 25, that is to say 
the very day that Brunswick signed the Manifesto prepared for 
him, Carra pubUshed the following passage in his Annates 
Patriotiques : 

" Nothing is so foolish as to beUeve, or to wish to make us 
beUeve, that the Prussians desire to destroy the Jacobins. . . . 
These same Jacobins ever since the Revolution have never ceased 
to cry aloud for the rupture of the treaty of 1756, and for the 
formation of aUiances with the House of Brandenbourg {i.e. 
Hohenzollern) and of Hanover, whilst the gazetteers, directed by 
the Austrian Committee of the Tuileries, have never ceased 
praising Austria and insulting the Courts of Berlin and La Haye. 
No, these courts are not so clumsy as to wish to destroy those 
* Beaulieu, iv. 172. 


Jacobins who have such fortunate ideas for changes of dynasties, 
and which, in case of need, can serve considerably the interests of 
the Houses of Brandenbourg and Hanover against Austria. Do 
you think the celebrated Duke of Brunswick does not know on 
what to rely in all this . . . ? He is the greatest warrior and 
the greatest poHtician in Europe, the Duke of Brunswick ; he is 
very well educated, and very amiable ; he needs perhaps only a 
crown to be, I will not say the greatest king in the world, but the 
true restorer of liberty in Europe. If he arrives in Paris, I wager 
that his first step will be to come to the Jacobins and put on the 
* bonnet rouge.' " 

It will be urged that these sentiments were those of only an 
individual, or of one faction in the Jacobin Club, but how are 
we to explain the fact that no protest was raised by any of the 
other revolutionary leaders, and that all these so-called patriots 
remained on the best of terms with the man who would have 
handed over the country to foreign despotism ? Moreover, when] 
later on a delegate was needed to send to the frontier in order to] 
parley with the Prussians, Carra was one of the emissaries chosen j 
by the leaders. Not till long after were his treasonable pro- 
posals brought up against him by the Robespierristes, and then] 
only as the means for destroying a rival faction. What con-^ 
elusion can we draw from all this but that the Jacobins had ani 
understanding with Brunswick, and that although the plan of. 
offering him the throne was not entertained by all of them, they 
were all nevertheless interested in remaining on good terms j 
with him until they had overthrown the monarchy and finally 
usurped the reins of power ? 

The Manifesto of Brunswick, which reached Paris three daysj 
after the pubhcation of Carra's panegjn-ic on its supposed author, | 
merely served to moderate the ardour of the pro-German party] 
for Brunswick and revive their enthusiasm for a Hanoverian! 
monarch. On August lo the author of the Correspondance] 
secrete writes again : 

" The Duke of Brunswick has fallen in the estimation of thej 
Jacobins since his Manifesto ; they think less of offering him the\ 
throne. Their present system is for a RepubHc. However, theyf 
are waiting to see what form pubhc opinion will take in thisj 
respect during the interregnum. They talk again of the Dukf 
of York." 

According to the Memoires de Barere, the supporters of thial 
change of dynasty were now Brissot, Petion, Guadet, Gensonn6,I 
and Rabaud de St. Etienne. " On the 17th of July," a deputy] 
of the Legislative Assembly wrote to Barere, " on the staircase of! 
the Commission des Onze, at the Assembly, Brissot said to hisj 
associates of the moment : ' I will show you this evening, in my] 


correspondence with the Cabinet of St. James's, that it depends on 
us to amalgamate our Constitution with that of England by 
making the Duke of York a constitutional monarch in the place 
of Louis XVI.' " 1 

As usual, of course, the English Government was used as a 
cover to the design concerted with the English revolutionaries. 
Brissot's lie is definitely refuted by the author of the Correspon- 
dance secrete, who records that the King of England, hearing of 
this intrigue, wrote to Louis XVI. " to warn him that the Due 
d'Orleans was scheming to give the crown of France to the Duke 
of York with the hand of Mile. d'Orleans." ^ 

These, then, were the intrigues at work amongst the Jacobins, 
whilst the Prussians and Austrians were assembling on the 
frontier. Of all the revolutionary legends, the legend of the 
" patriotic fervour " displayed by the leaders is the most absurd 
of all ; the menace of foreign invasion served as a pretext for 
stirring up the people, not against the invaders, but against the 
King of France. Whilst on the nth of July the citizens of Paris, 
in response to the proclamation of "La Patrie en danger," were 
pouring into the recruiting tents to offer themselves for the 
defence of the country, revolutionary orators, posted at the 
street comers, endeavoured to check their ardour. " Unhappy 
ones ! where are you flying to ? Think of the chiefs under 
which you must march against the enemy ! Your principal 
officers are nearly all nobles ; a Lafayette will lead you to 
butchery I Ah ! do you not see that beneath the blinds at 
the Tuileries they are smiHng ferociously at your generous but 
blind enthusiasm ? " ^ 

"It is only necessary," says M. Mortimer Temaux, " to 
glance through the Journal de la Societe des Amis de la Constitution 
(i.e. of the Society of Jacobins) to see that at the moment when 
the National Assembly is devoting all its energies to national 
defence, the Jacobins only speak of our armies in order to denounce 
the treachery of the generals, and to excite the soldiers against 
their officers. They are much less occupied with the means of 
defending the frontiers from invasion than in overwhelming the 
monarchy.** * 


Amongst the mob orators the supporters of the Due d'Orleans 
were the most active. " His creditors," writes Barbaroux, " his 

^ MSmoires de Bardre, ii. 45. 

* Correspondance secrete, p. 614. date of August 10, 1792. 

' Rdvolutions de Paris, by Prudhomme, xiii. 139. 

* Histoire de la Terreur, by Mortimer Temaux, ii. 104. 


hirelings, his boon companions, Marat and his CordeHers, all the 
swindlers, all the men sunk in debt and dishonour, were seen at 
work in pubhc places, urging the deposition (of the King), greedy 
of gold and honours, under a regent who would have been their 
accomplice and their tool." ^ 

In order to give a popular air to this clamour for the over- 
throw of Louis XVI. the usual metliod of deputations was 
adopted, and, by way of swelling their numbers, men known as 
" confederates," from the camp at Soissons, were enhsted in 
the service of the Jacobins. " These petitions," says Beaulieu,; 
" these incendiary addresses which demanded the head of La-' 
fayette and the extermination of the King, were not the work" 
of these confederates, all these were concocted at the privatej 
committee of the Jacobins ; they (the confederates) only readi 
them aloud so that the deluded people should believe that the^ 
overthrow of the throne was desired by the departments." ^ 

At the same time a council, known as the " Committee oi 
Insurrection," was formed, which held most of its sittings at a^ 
tavern in Charenton known as " Le Cadran Bleu," and included j 
amongst its leading members Carra, Santerre, the German i 
Westermann, Foumier TAmericain, and the Pole Lazowski. 

On the evening of the 26th of July this committee met at the i 
tavern of the " Soleil d'Or," at the entrance of the Faubourg Saint-' 
Antoine, for the purpose of organizing a second march on the 
Tuileries. Every effort was made to excite the people ; placardsj 
were displayed ordering them to join the march, and panic news] 
was circulated to the effect that Chabot and Merlin had been^ 
assassinated by the chevaliers du poignard, and that the Chateau ' 
was arming itself against the citizens. But, although the agi-i 
tators worked hard all night, the Faubourg on this occasionj 
absolutely decHned to rise. In vain, at four o'clock in the mom-j 
ing, the 400 or 500 confederates, whom the leaders had succeeded! 
in collecting, sounded the tocsin and beat the generate in Saint- 
Antoine ; only a few inhabitants aimed with pikes and guns 
responded to the summons, whilst Carra, despatched to Saint- 
Marceau to find out what had happened to prevent the Faubourgj 
arriving on the scene, found the whole quarter wrapped " in the 
most perfect tranquillity " — that is to say, in slumber. ^ 

Throughout the whole of this month the people displayedl 
the same apathy towards the revolutionary movement. " I am] 
convinced," writes a contemporary on the 7th of July, " that ourj 

^ Mimoires de Barharoux, p. 44. 

2 Beaulieu, iii. 409. Note the wording of one of these petitions where 
the fSdiris describe themselves as Scaevolas ! (Buchez et Roux, xvi. 250). 

* PUces importantes pour VHistoire, quoted by Buchez et Roux, xvi. 
189-192 ; Mortimer Ternaux, ii. 129. 


sedition-mongers and enrages are beginning to be afraid, and all 
that they do denotes this. They would like to stir up the people 
to commit excesses, but I doubt whether they wiU succeed. 
They wiU work up the scoundrels under their orders whom they 
pay, but in general, what can be described as ' the people,' 
the workmen and bourgeoisie, do not think hke these gentlemen. 
They are tired, wearied, and worn out with this wretched revolu- 
tion, which produces nothing but evils, crimes, disorders, anarchy, 
and can do no good. ... I walk about and observe impartially 
the groups that assemble, and I can assure you that, except for a 
few fanatics who preach murder and regicide, I can see no general 
inclination to insurrection." ^ 

To the revolutionary leaders Ukewise it was now clearly 
evident that the people would never be persuaded to co-operate 
in the dethronement of Louis XVI. Marat, indeed, had long 
despaired of them altogether ; the Parisians, he said to Bar- 
baroux, were but " pitiable revolutionaries (de mesquins revolu- 
tionnaires) " — " give me 200 NeapoUtans armed with daggers, 
and with them I will overrun France and make a revolution." ^ 
It was a perception of the same truth that in the early days 
of the Revolution had led the Orleaniste conspirators to send 
for brigands from the South, and later to enUst ItaUans in 
the company of the Sabbat. Marat's advice was not lost on 
Barbaroux. This young lawyer from Marseilles had been dis- 
covered by Roland, and introduced to the deputies of the Gironde. 
It was thus that Barbaroux came to play an active part in the 
preparations for the loth of August, and that, acting on the 
suggestion of Marat, he discussed with Monsieur and Madame 
Roland the advisability of appeahng to the South for aid. The 
result of these dehberations, Barbaroux relates, was a message 
to Marseilles asking for " 600 men who knew how to die " — that 
is to say, 600 men who knew how to kill. 

It is evident, however, that the celebrated contingent of 500 
who arrived in Paris on the 30th of July, were only a small pro- 
portion of the number summoned by the Girondins, for thousands 
had already arrived in the course of the month. An honest deputy 
of Marseilles named Blanc-GiUi, seeing these bloodthirsty legions 
arriving in the capital, thereupon pubHshed a letter" to the good 
citizens of Paris" revealing the identity of the so-called Marseillais : 

" The town of Marseilles, situated on the Mediterranean . . .," 
wrote Blanc-Gilli on the 5th of July, " must be considered on 

* Letter from M. Lefebvre d'Arcy to M. Vanlerberghe in Lettres d'Aris- 
tocrates, by Pierre de Vaissiere, p. 469. See also Ferri^res, iii. 153 : " The 
people of Paris, tired of being continually tossed about, . . . remained in 
apathetic repose." 

* Mimoires de Barbaroux, p. 57. • / 


account of its port as the sink of vice for a great portion of the 
globe, where all the impurities of human nature forgather. It 
is there that we constantly see in fermentation the scum of crime, 
vomited by the prisons of Genoa, of Piedmont, of Sicily, in fact 
of all Italy, of Spain, of the Archipelago and of Barbary — deplor- 
able fatality of our geographical position and of our commercial 
relations. This is the scourge of Marseilles, and the first cause 
of the frenzy attributed to all its citizens. . . . Every time that 
the National Guards of Marseilles have set forth on the march 
outside its walls, the horde of brigands without a country of 
their own has never failed to throw itself in their wake, and 
to carry devastation everywhere on their path. . . . Several 
thousands of these brigands have for more than a month been 
arriving in Paris ; a very large number is still on the road. I 
have sent numerous warnings to the administration." ^ 

Such, then, were the foreign legions that the men who accused 
Louis XVI. of appeaUng for aid from abroad saw fit to summon 
to their own aid for the massacring of their fellow-citizens. The 
final contingent of 500 that arrived in Paris on the 30th of July, 
— ^romantically described by historians as ** the brave band of 
Marseillais," " children of the South and Uberty," " singing their 
national hymn, ' the Marseillaise,' " — included the same men who 
had carried out the horrible massacre of the Glaciere d'Avignon,^ 
and were to repeat like atrocities in Paris this September. As 
to the magnificent melody they had appropriated, it had nothing 
whatever to do with Marseilles, but had been composed three 
months earlier at Strasbourg, at the request of the mayor 
Dietrich, by Rouget de ITsle, who little dreamt that his " trumpet 
call to arms against foreign cohorts " would become the war-cry 
of an aUen cohort far more terrible than any gathered on the 
frontier.^ It seems, indeed, that the Girondins themselves, 

^ See also Crimes de la Revolution, by Prudliomine, vi. 1 15, and M^moires 
de Hua, p. 153, note : " This horde of bandits . . . was a collection of 
foreign adventurers : Genoese, Maltese, Piedmontais, Corsicans, Greeks, 
vagabonds, having for their principal leaders one named Fournier dit 
I'Am^ricain and the Pole Lazowski." " Fifty Genoese," says Beaulieu, 
" were lodged together in the Rue Sainte-Marguerite, Faubourg Saint- 
Antoine. Many others could be cited ; the most furious revolutionaries, 
those who committed murders, were tc a great extent foreigners, and the 
famous battalion from Marseilles included a great number of them ; I 
heard their accent, their bad jargon, and can certify this." 
^ 2 Taine, La Rivolution, v. 272 ; Crimes de la Revolution, by Prudhomme, 
iv. 96 ; Adolphus, ii. 346. 

3 The mother of Rouget de I'lsle wrote to him at this moment the 
following words : " What is this revolutionary hymn which is sung by a 
horde of brigands on their way across France and with which your name is 
associated ? " Rouget de I'lsle was imprisoned later under the Terror 
and the mayor Dietrich was guillotined. Thus did the Revolution reward 
the authors of the " Marseillaise." 


seeing the instruments they had summoned to their aid, were 
overcome with panic, for it was not by Roland or his colleagues 
that the Marseillais were received, but by Santerre, Danton, and 
the other leaders of the Orleaniste faction. 

" It was the 30th of July," writes Thiebault, " that these 
hideous confederates, vomited by Marseilles, arrived in Paris. 
... I do not think it would be possible to imagine anything 
more frightful than these 500 madmen, three-quarters of them 
drunk, nearly all of them in red caps with bare arms, followed by 
the dregs of the people, ceaselessly reinforced by the overflow of 
the Faubourgs Saint-Antoine and Saint-Marceau, and fraternizing 
in tavern after tavern with bands as fearful as the one they formed. 
It was in this manner that they processed in * farandoles * through 
the principal streets . . . and boulevards ... to the Champs 
filysees, where the orgy to which they had been bidden by 
Santerre was preceded by satanic dances." ^ 

This orgy was held — evidently with intention — close to a 
restaurant where about 100 grenadiers of the Filles-Saint- 
Thomas — the most loyal of all the King's Guards — ^were holding 
a regimental dinner. The Marseillais, collecting a crowd of 
women and children, proceeded to pelt the soldiers with mud and 
stones, and ended by killing one and wounding several others. 
The Grenadiers thereupon took refuge in the Tuileries, where 
the Queen dressed their wounds, and this action was immediately 
interpreted by the revolutionaries as a plot concerted between 
the Court and the regiment.''^ 


In vain Louis XVI. implored the factions to unite in face of 
the peril with which the Manifesto of Brunswick threatened 
France, to assure them that he was one with his people at this 
moment of national crisis. " Personal dangers," he wrote to the 
Assembly, " are nothing compared with pubUc misfortunes. 
Ah ! what are personal dangers for a king from whom it is desired 
to take away the love of his people ? That is the sore that 
rankles in my heart. {Cest Id qu'est la veritable plate de mon 
cceur.) One day perhaps the people will know how dear their 
welfare is to me, how it has always been my only interest and my 
greatest need. What grief might be dispelled by the least sign 
of their returning to me ! " 

The response to this appeal was a deputation, headed by 
P6tion, from the Commune de Paris reiterating the demand for 

^ MSmoires de ThUhauU, i. 296. 
* Beaulieu, iii. 428. 


the dethronement of the King, in which, for want of any better 
grounds of accusation, Louis XVI. was denounced for " his 
sanguinary projects against the town of Paris," " the aversion 
he displayed towards the people," even for his action in the 
matter of closing the haU of the Assembly on the day of the 
*' Oath of the Tennis Court " three years earlier ! But Petion 
showed his hand in one significant sentence : " As it is very 
doubtful that the nation can have confidence in the existing 
dynasty, a provisional government must be estabUshed." The 
words were universally interpreted to signify a change from the 
Bourbons to the House of Orleans, but they might equally well 
apply to the proposal for replacing Louis XVL by a German 

Petion's speech was followed next day by a resolution 
forwarded from the revolutionary section of Paris, known as 
*' Mauconseil," likewise demanding the deposition of the King. 
Forty-seven out of the forty-eight sections of Paris, revolutionary 
historians assure us, supported this resolution, and in confirmation 
of their statement they quote the journal of Carra ! ^ As a 
matter of fact, an examination of the registers of the sections 
made by M. Mortimer Temaux reveals the fact that the proposi- 
tion of Mauconseil was seconded by only fourteen sections of 
Paris, rejected by sixteen, passed over in silence by ten, whilst 
the reply of the remaining eight sections is unrecorded.^ Several 
sections, indeed, entered very energetic protests at the Assembly, 
denouncing the efforts made " to divide the citizens of the 
Empire, to aHght civil war, and to substitute the most horrible 
anarchy for the Constitution. . . ." ^ The astonishing fact is 
that the petition of Mauconseil was finally annulled as uncon- 
stitutional by the Assembly at the proposal of Vergniaud,* who 
only a month earHer had deUvered himself of the most violent 
diatribe against the King.^ Brissot likewise at this moment 

* This statement was made by Carra in the Annates Patriotiques on the 
28th of July before the appeal to the sections had been made, and was 
therefore a pure invention. 

2 Mortimer Ternaux, ii. 441. 

' Address from the section of the Arsenal (Buchez et Roux, xvi. 330). 
See also the protests of the sections of the " Thermes de Jullien " and 
"Henri IV." (Buchez et Roux, xvi. 374). 

Even the fourteen sections who nominally voted their support were far 
from representative of the wishes of the districts in question, for, as usual, 
every kind of trickery was employed. A citizen of the section of Maucon- 
seil appeared at the Assembly and declared that " the address of this 
section for the dethronement of the King had been secured by intrigue and 
that many of the signatures were forged ; he was able even to give names 
and addresses that had been fraudulently introduced into the petition." 
(Buchez et Roux, xvi. 344). 

* Buchez et Roux, xvi. 323. 

^ Stance du 3 Juillet, Moniteur, xiii. 32. 


displayed a sudden attachment to the monarchy and Constitution, 
for although on the gth of July he had formally asked for the 
deposition of the King, declaring that " to strike down the court 
of Tuileries was to strike down all traitors at a blow," ^ he came 
forward on the 25th of July to denounce " that faction of regicides 
who would create a dictator and establish a Repubhc." ** If 
that pact of regicides exists," he exclaimed, " if men exist who 
now seek to establish the Republic on the ruins of the Constitution, 
the sword of the law should strike at them ... as at the counter- 
revolutionaries of Coblentz." ^ 

Again, on the following day, Brissot represented to the 
Assembly that, as the King's collusion with the enemies of France 
had not been clearly proved, it would be premature to depose 
him. Moreover, might not the nation have something to say 
in the matter ? 

Brissot only voiced the fear that lurked in the minds of all 
the revolutionary leaders when he described the possible con- 
sequences of overthrowing the monarchy and Constitution. 
" Do you not see from that moment the gates of the kingdom 
opened by the French themselves to foreigners ? Do you not 
see these Frenchmen shaking the hands of these foreigners, and 
inviting them to join with them in re-estabUshing their Constitu- 
tion and maintaining the King on the throne in spite of the 
efforts of the factions ? " ^ Thus, in the opinion of one of the 
most prominent revolutionary leaders, it was not only the Queen 
and her party who sighed for Brunswick, hut many of the French 
people, who, before the arrival of the Manifesto, would have 
welcomed even foreign intervention in order to he saved from the 
intolerable tyranny of the Jacobins. 

What was the explanation of the Girondins' sudden change 
of front at this crisis ? Simply that they had perceived the 
revolutionary movement to be passing out of their hands into 
those of the CordeUers and Robespierristes, and were ready to 
accept any measures that would bring their own party back 
to power. 

It would, indeed, be idle to seek a more exalted poUcy amongst 
any of the revolutionary factions at this crisis, for none adhered 
consistently to any definite scheme of government. 

" Amidst all this chaos, this general confusion," say the 
Two Friends of Liberty, "some wanted the deposition of the 
monarch, others his suspension ; these, that he should let himself 
be ruled by them, those, that he should give up the crown to his 
son ; that one of them should be regent, and that all the offices 
in the State should be reserved for them. A great number called 

/^ Moniteur, xiii. 86. 2 /^^-^^ xiii. 242. 

' Ibid. xiii. 279. 


the Due d'Orleans to the throne, some thought of a foreign prince, 
and seven or eight people of a repubUc." ^ 

This wild medley of plans explains the fact that members of 
each faction in turn became alarmed, and at the last moment, 
before the monarchy was overthrown, secretly offered their 
services to the King. In the whirlpool that threatened to engulf 
them all none knew who would sink and who would swim, and 
so, struck with panic, they turned and clung to the ark of the 
Constitution that contained the King and that, as they all knew, 
was borne on that mighty tide — the will of the people. 
: It was thus that, at the eleventh hour, Brissot, Vergniaud, 
\ /and Gensonne, through an intermediary, the painter Boze, 
warned the King of the impending insurrection, and undertook 
to quell it if the Girondin ministers were recalled and the decrees 
they had proposed sanctioned by the King.^ Louis XVI. re- 
jected this proposal, and so his " deposition was irrevocably 
decreed by those who had just declared that the salvation of 
France lay in the Constitution." ^ 

Robespierre also at this juncture continued to defend the Con- 
stitution ; his colleague, the retired comedian, Collot d'Herbois, 
repeated incessantly : " Ah ! if the King were really a patriot 
he would choose his ministers and his agents among the Jacobins." 
But Louis XVI. distrusted this faction hkewise, and so " these 
men obtaining nothing in one direction turned to the other and 
proclaimed themselves Repubhcans whilst becoming Anarchists." ^ 

Meanwhile the CordeHers, the principal instigators of the 
insurrection, were prepared to go to far greater extremities to 
save the King, provided they were sufficiently compensated for 
the enterprise. " Marat," says Barbaroux, " sent me, towards 
the end of July, a document of several pages, which he asked me 
to have printed and distributed to the Marseillais at the moment 
of their arrival. . . . The work seemed to me abominable, it 
was a provocation to the Marseillais to fall upon the Legislative 
Assembly. The Royal Family, it said, must he safeguarded, but the 
Assembly, evidently anti-revolutionary, exterminated." ^ 

This statement of Barbaroux' is confirmed by Michaud, who 
relates that only a few days later — at the beginning of August — 
another Cordelier, Fabre d']£glantine, the friend and confidant 
of Danton, made precisely the same proposal to M. Dubouchage, 
the Minister of the Navy, with whom he had obtained an interview 

^ Deux Amis, viii. 94. 

2 Crimes de la Revolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 213 ; Mimoires de Hua, 
p. 141. Boze was arrested for this by order of Tallien on January 3, 1793 
{La Demagogic d, Paris en 1793, by C. A. Dauban, p. 8). 

^ Beaulieu, iii. 408. 

* Crimes de la Revolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 212. 

^ Mimoires de Barbaroux, p. 60. 


by writing several times to the King. Fabre d'figlantine pre- 
sented himself at the rendezvous, and " after great protestations 
of interest and zeal for the King, of esteem and admiration for 
the true RoyaUsts, entered into great details on the plots that 
were being formed against the Chateau of the Tuileries and on 
the dangers that surrounded the Royal Family. In consequence 
he proposed a plan which, he said, would be infallible, and would 
restore to Louis XVI. his former authority. This plan was to 
bribe the gunners and the leaders of sedition of whom he was sure, 
and then to fall on the Jacobins and the Assembly in force, and 
thus deliver France from its greatest enemies. For the execution 
of this plan he asked for the sum of three miUions. M. Dubou- 
chage rendered an account of this conference to the King, who 
was horrified by the violent measures proposed. ..." Beaulieu 
adds : " Other propositions of this kind were made to Louis XVI. 
and the Queen, at the moment when they both knew for certain 
that the insurrection was about to break forth, and by people in 
whom they could have confidence ; they rejected them with 
horror, unable to endure the thought of seeing the innocent 
sacrificed with the guilty, and these men whom they had spared 
when they could have annihilated them described them as 
* monsters, tigers, and cannibals.' " ^ 

But, whilst unwilling to accede to the sanguinary suggestions 
of the Cordeliers, Louis XVI., realizing that greed for gold was 
at the bottom of most of their revolutionary frenzy, resolved once 
again to conciliate them with gifts of money. A week before 
the loth of August Danton received the sum of 50,000 ecus, and 
the Court, convinced that this time the great demagogue 
would be true to his bargain, felt no further apprehension. 
" Our minds are at rest," said Madame EUzabeth, " we can 
count on Danton." But the Court had miscalculated on the 
sum required. Danton pocketed the money and betrayed 
the King.2 

The fact is that the Court was now too poor to buy par- 
tisans amongst the factions, who saw in the impending upheaval 
far greater opportunities of enrichment. " Alas ! " even the 
revolutionary Prudhomme is obHged to admit, " how many 
pretended RepubUcans would have been furious RoyaUsts if the 
Court had been inclined to win them over, and had had enough 
money to pay them ! But it had not enough for all who asked, 
all who aspired. The Legislative Assembly was full of men of 
this kind, RoyaUsts or Republicans, according to the way the 
wind blew, and it must be said, although to the shame of 
the Revolution, that these were the elements of the loth of 

^ Beaulieu, iv. 17. 
* MSmoires de Lafayette, iii. 85 ; Mimoires de Hua, p. 149. 



August, during which the people alone were disinterested and of 
good faith." ^ 

That Danton was the principal organizer of the loth of August 
cannot be doubted. Towards the end of July Prudhomme 
relates that he received a visit from Danton, Camille Desmoulins, 
and Fabre d']£glantine. Danton said, " in the trivial language 
habitual to him " : 

" We have come, petit jean-f outre, to consult you as an old 
patriot, although you are no longer up to the mark ; but as you 
have often foreseen events and their results, we want your opinion 
on a plan of insurrection." 

Prudhomme inquired in what this plan consisted. 

" We wish to overthrow the tyrant," answered Danton. 

*' Which one ? " 

" The one at the Tuileries. This b of a Revolution has 

brought nothing to patriots." 

" That is to say, messieurs, that you wish to make your 
fortunes in the name of hberty and equaUty. How do you think 
of overthrowing the monarchy ? " 

" By assault." 

Prudhomme urged the temerity of the proposal. " Your 
plan," he said, " is the work of a coterie of Jacobins and Cor- 
deliers. You do not know the intentions of the inhabitants of 
Paris, or of the majority of those in the departments." 

Fabre d'!£glantine said, " We have the promise of a hundred 
deputies, Girondins and Brissotins and agents in all the popular 
societies of France." 

" You wish to overthrow the monarch," Prudhomme 
answered. " Whom will you put in his place ? " 

" The Due d' Orleans," blurted out that enfant terrible, 
Camille Desmoulins. 

But Danton hastily interposed : 

" We will see afterwards what we will do. In revolutions as 
on the field of battle one must never look forward to the morrow. 
I undertake to stir up the canaille of the Faubourgs Saint- 
Antoine and Saint - Marceau. The Marseillais will be at their 
head — they have not come to Paris for plums." ^ 

But even the canaille needed some incentive to rise, and just 
now none was forthcoming. It was in a mood of desperation 
inspired by these reflections that the deputy Chabot one day 
cried out incontroUably, " If only the Court would try to murder 
somebody ! " An attempt on the life of a " patriotic " deputy, 

^ Crimes de la Revolution, iv. 216. 

2 Histoire des Causes de la Revolution Fran^aise, by Granier de Cassa- 
gnac, iii. 456 ; Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris, by Edmond Bire, i. 290. 


he declared to Grangeneuve, would prove an invaluable pretext 
for stirring up the people. Unfortunately the Court displayed 
no intention of carrying out this scheme, but Chabot and Grange- 
neuve were not to be baffled by so trifling an obstacle. In a fit 
of " patriotic " fervour these two Tartarins thereupon decided 
to have themselves murdered, in order to provide an accusation 
against the Court. Chabot undertook to engage assassins who 
were to waylay and shoot them at the street comer. But on the 
night appointed Chabot seems to have thought better of the 
scheme, for neither he nor the assassins were forthcoming, and 
Grangeneuve, having made his will and waited about a long while 
to be murdered, returned home indignant to find himself alive.^ 
Thus deprived of any shadow of a pretext for marching a 
second time on the Tuileries, the leaders were obliged to invent 
one, and in order to persuade the people to attack the Chateau 
it was loudly proclaimed that the Chateau was about to attack 
the people — " 15,000 aristocrats are ready to massacre all the 
patriots." ^ But in spite of these alarms Paris remained sunk 
in lethargy. Still, on the evening of the 9th of August, all means 
had failed to rouse the great mass of the population. So the 
revolutionary leaders took the law into their own hands, and on 
this fateful night the terrible council of the " Commune," known 
as the " Conseil General Revolutionnaire du 10 Aout," came into 


The agitators of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine had at first met 
at the section of the Quinze Vingt in their own district, but finding 
their efforts to make this the centre of agitation abortive, they 
issued an appeal at eleven o'clock in the evening to the other 
forty-seven sections of Paris, asking them each to send their 
representatives to co-operate in the proposed insurrection with 
the Commune at the Town Hall. 

A great number of sections failed to respond to this appeal ; 
some indeed protested energeticaUy against the attempt to 
disturb the peace, whereupon the leaders had recourse to their 
usual methods of fraud and violence. " As soon as night draws 
on," says Beaulieu, " the revolutionaries, whose r61es had been 
prepared beforehand, go out into all the sections {i.e. the haUs of 
the districts) which the peaceful bourgeois had abandoned, either 
in order to present themselves at the guard-house, or to return to 
their homes and give themselves up to rest. The revolutionaries, 
having thus made themselves masters of the debates, declare 

1 MSmoires de Mme. Roland, i. 157 ; Mimoires du Chancelier Pasquier, 
p. 81. 

* Ferri^res, iii. 204 ; Robespierre, DSfenseur de la Constitution, No. 12. 


themselves the sovereign people, usurp their rights, and decree 
that all constituted authority is in abeyance. This resolution 
being taken and communicated to each other, the revolutionary 
sections ring the tocsin in all the churches of Paris ; this alarm 
heard in the middle of the night strikes terror into all hearts. . . ."^ 

By methods such as these even sections that had protested 
against the plan of insurrection were represented as sending 
delegates to co-operate with the movement,^ and so, although 
twenty sections still remained unrepresented,^ it was possible to 
declare that the majority of the sections had responded to the 

In this way the insurrectional Commune was formed. Prud- 
homme, at that date in the secret of the leaders, afterwards 
described the process in these illuminating words : 

" On the eve of the famous day (the loth of August) the 
confederates, towards ten o'clock in the evening, assemble to the 
number of twenty or thirty, and at once on their own initiative 
name new members without even collecting the wishes of the 
majority of the sections. This choice being made, the nominees, 
or rather the conspirators, arrange to meet at the Commune. 
They present themselves armed with the power to replace the 
magistrates then sitting. These hesitate a moment and are 
secretly threatened ; they give up their seats and all go out with 
the exception of Petion and Manuel, who are retained. All this 
was arranged in the secret meetings (conciliabules) which had 
been held at the Palais Royal or the Rapee, where D'Orleans, 
Danton, Marat, Petion, Robespierre, and others were to be 
found. . . . Paris changed magistrates without knowing it, and 
the insurrection took place . . . without any obstacle ; one 
would have supposed that every one was in accord." * 

But with these secret confabulations the r61e of the leaders 
ended. As usual, when the hour of danger struck, those bold 

^ Beaulieu, iii. 448, This manoeuvre is described in almost the same 
words by Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, iii. 189. See also the Histoire de 
la Conspiration du 10 AoiXt, by Bigot de Sainte-Croix, p. 21, and the Revolu- 
tion du 10 AoiXt, by Peltier, i. 73 : " The fatal hour strikes, the tocsin makes 
itself heard, the gSn&rale is sounded, 300 rebels assemble the sham sections. 
All the citizens were with their battalions. At the section of the Lombards 
only eight people are to be found to name five commissioners." The re- 
searches of Mortimer Ternaux confirm these statements : "At the Arsenal 
six people who happen to be in the hall of the committee name three 
amongst them to represent 1400 ' active citizens ' {i.e. citizens who had 
the right to vote) . Things happen much in the same way at the Louvre, 
the Observatoire, and the Roi de Sicile" {Histoire de la Terreur, ii. 234). 

2 For example, the sections of Montreuil, the Roi de Sicile, the Invalides 
and Sainte-Genevieve (Mortimer Ternaux, ii. 427, 431, 434, 437). 

^ Buchez et Roux, xvi. 423 ; Mortimer Ternaux, ii. 240, 444. 

* Crimes de la Revolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 73. 


patriots, Danton, Marat, Robespierre, and Camille Desmoulins, 
retired into hiding. On the eve of this second attack on the 
Tuileries, Marat, overcome with panic, had implored Barbaroux 
to smuggle him out of Paris disguised as a jockey,^ and on Bar- 
baroux's refusal betook himself once more to his cellar,^ a course 
likewise adopted by Robespierre.^ As to Camille DesmouUns 
and Danton, the journal of Madame DesmouUns reveals that they 
spent most of this night, whilst the insurrection was preparing, 
asleep at Danton's house. Just as the tocsin was about to ring, 
Danton, always prone to slumber, retreated into his bed, from 
which snug ambush the emissaries of the Commune had some 
difficulty in dislodging him, and even then he was soon back 
again, and still sleeping peacefully whilst the mob was marching 
on the Tuileries. 

It was therefore again on this occasion the professional 
agitators who were left to carry out the plans of the leaders, and 
for a time it seemed that their efforts were to be rewarded with 
no success, for the Faubourgs still showed themselves recalcitrant, 
and as late as 2.30 in the morning of the loth news was brought 
to Roederer at the Chateau that the insurrection would not take 
place. But at last, towards dawn, the revolutionary army 
began to muster. Santerre gathered round him the brigands of 
the Faubourg Saint-Antoine ; Lazowski and Alexandre enlisted 
a following in Saint-Marceau, and Barbaroux and Foumier led 
forth the Marseillais. 

Meanwhile the Tuileries was preparing its plans of defence. 
The Marquis de Mandat, commander of the National Guard, 
warned of the impending insurrection, had sounded the call to 
arms, and all night his battahons streamed to the Chateau, where 
they took up their stand in the courtyards on the Carrousel 
and the terraces bordering the river and the garden. These 
battalions, sixteen in all, made up a total of 2400 men, whilst 
in the Chateau itself were 950 Swiss and 200 nobles armed with 
swords and pistols. 

As on the 20th of June, the Chateau was therefore well 
defended ; moreover, the troops were this time commanded by 
no feeble RamainviUiers, but by a leader who could be depended 
on to offer a vigorous resistance. Mandat, the revolutionary 
leaders well knew, was loyal to the King and, as Petion, com- 
bining the rdle of spy with that of mayor of Paris, discovered on 

^ Marat wrote three times to Barbaroux on this subject. " On the 
evening of the 9th," says Barbaroux, " he informed me that nothing was 
more urgent, and again proposed to me that he should disguise himself as 
a jockey " {MSmoires de Barbaroux, pp. 61, 62). 

' Mortimer Ternaux, ii. 241. See also Marat's placard issued from his 
" subterranean retreat " {Marat, by A. Bougeart, ii. 36). 

' Ferri^res, iii. 201 ; Barbaroux, p. 82 ; Maton de la Varenne, p. 228. 


his wanderings round the Chateau, really had a plan of campaign. 
Therefore Mandat must be disposed of. 

Accordingly, at seven o'clock in the morning, Mandat was 
summoned to the Hotel de Ville, and ordered to give an account 
of his conduct in organizing the defences of the Chateau. Mandat 
repHed that he had acted on the order of Petion to resist attack 
by force. But all explanations were useless ; Mandat had been 
sent for to be murdered, not to be judged. Huguenin, the 
" orator " of June 20, now President of the Commune, with a 
horizontal gesture across his throat, said, " Let him be led 
away." Mandat was taken out, and half an hour later, on his 
way down the steps of the Hotel de Ville to the prison of the 
'^Abbaye, a young man named Rossignol, employed by Danton,^ 
approached and shot him through the head. Needless to say, 
this foul deed was ascribed by Petion to the people.^ P6tion 
himself had a personal reason for desiring the death of Mandat, 
and undoubtedly acted in collusion with Danton, for the order 
to resist attack by force had really been given by him to Mandat 
three days earUer in writing, and it was apparently in order to 
abstract this compromising document from his pocket that 
Mandat was assassinated.^ Petion's precise object in writing 
it is not clearly evident ; possibly, as Montjoie suggests, it was 
for the sake of giving a pretext to the Marseillais for firing at the 
troops, but it may also be accounted for by the fact that Petion 
had received a large sum of money from the King just before the 
loth of August to maintain order,* and for a moment he may 
have intended to earn his payment honestly. But when he saw 
that the insurrection was assuming formidable proportions, he 
was overcome with panic, and resolved to destroy the written 
evidence of his momentary defection from the revolutionary 
cause. At any rate, he now did everything in his power to assist 
the movement. So although, as head of the municipahty, he 
refused during this night to supply the forces at the Tuileries 
with ammunition for the defence of the Chateau, he contrived 
that 5000 ball cartridges should be issued to the Marseillais. 
Petion had also arranged with Carra that if the insurrection broke 
out he should be forcibly prevented from opposing it by a 
summons to the Town Hall, where he was to be detained during; 
the attack on the Chateau. Carra omitted to do this, and Petion 

1 Danton admitted this in his trial : "I drew up the death-warrant of| 
Mandat who had been ordered to fire on the people." See Notes de Topinoi 
Lehrun sur le proems de Danton. 

2 RScit du 10 AoAt par Pition, maire de Paris. 

3 Peltier, RSvolution du 10 Aout, i. 83, 84 ; Montjoie, Conjuration 
d'OrUans, iii. 197 ; Journal of Dr. John Moore, i. 151. 

* Mimoires de Mme. Campan, p. 342 ; Mimoires de Malouet, ii. 141, 


spent a very uncomfortable hour or two waiting about in the 
garden of the Tuileries, shadowed by several loyal grenadiers who 
shrewdly suspected his perfidy. When the expected summons 
still failed to arrive he finally adopted the ingenious expedient of 
sending repeated orders to himself, and in response to these he 
left his post at 2.30, and after presenting himself at the Assembly 
placed himself under restraint in his own quarters at the Town 
Hall with a guard of 400 men to prevent him returning to duty.^ 
So through the basest treachery the Chateau was disarmed 
before its assailants. By the death of Mandat, as the con- 
spirators had anticipated, all the plans for defence were dis- 
organized, and the forces assembled at the Tuileries left without 
a leader. 


The King and Queen well knew the fate that in all probability 
awaited them. Twice already since the 20th of June the Queen 
had narrowly escaped assassination — once at the Champ de Mars 
on the 14th of July, once at midnight when the murderer was 
arrested on the threshold of her apartment — and all through 
these weeks, says Montjoie, Louis XVI. had slept in his clothes 
ready to rise at the first alarm. 

Now, as the sinister knell of the tocsin rang out over the city, 
the Queen sat weeping silently ; the King paced the great rooms 
of the Chateau striving to decide on the course of action to pursue. 
The troops, he knew, could offer a vigorous resistance to assault, 
but this meant bloodshed, and again the old question that at 
every crisis of the Revolution had tortured him arose in his 
mind : " Was a king justified in shedding the blood of his people 
in his own defence ? " RoyaHsts said yes ; beUevers in the 
" sovereignty of the people " said no ; moreover the King's own 
conscience said no Ukewise. 

This dilemma produced in Louis XVI. an agony of irresolu- 
tion that could never have afflicted any of his predecessors. 
Henry IV., for all his benevolence, would have buckled on his 
sword, mounted his charger, and shown himself to his troops as 
their sovereign chief, and undoubtedly, if Louis XVI. had done 

^ See Potion's own naive account of this manoeavre in reply to Robes- 
pierre's accusation later on that he had not contributed to the loth of 
August : " To reconcile my ofS.cial position as mayor with my fixed 
resolution to forward the movement, it had been arranged that I should 
be arrested, so as not to be able to oppose any legal authority to it ; but 
in the hurry and agitation of the moment this was forgotten . . . Who do 
you think sent several times to urge the execution of this plan ? It was I, 
yes, I myself ; because as soon as I knew that the movement was general, 
far from thinking of arresting it I was resolved to facilitate it " {Observations 
de J. pstion sur la Lettre de Robespierre). 


this, even Barbaroux admits the day would have been won, for 
" the great majority of the battahons had declared themselves 
for him." 

It seems that in the end the King, yielding to the entreaties 
of the RoyaUsts, decided that the Chateau should be defended by 
force of arms, but this, to him a terrible decision, was reached 
only by hours of mental conflict. When at half -past five on the 
morning of the loth he came forth from his apartments to inspect 
the troops, his defenders saw with dismay that the sang-froid 
which had saved him on the 20th of June was no longer at his 
command — his nerve was gone. 

This was not the result of cowardice ; the hardest rider, the 
boldest airman, may find himself suddenly, as the result of con- 
tinuous exposure to danger, the victim of nerve failure, and Louis 
XVI., as we know, was subject to such attacks under the influence 
of acute mental strain. From the accounts of aU eye-witnesses 
it is evident that at this supreme moment the King was suffering 
from a return of the malady that had afflicted him three months 
earUer, and that now deprived him of all the energy he needed 
wherewith to meet the crisis. Above the violet of his coat his 
face showed white as death, his eyes were wet with tears, his 
powdered hair disordered — " he looked," says Madame Campan, 
" as if he had ceased to exist." 

The effect on the troops was, of course, deplorable. Up to 
this moment their enthusiasm had remained at boiling-point, 
and as the King passed on his way " all the vaulted ceilings of 
the palace rang to the cries of ' Vive le Roi ! ' ' No, Sire,' cried 
the troops, * do not fear a recurrence of the 20th of June, we will 
wipe out that stain ; the last drop of our blood belongs to your 
Majesty ! ' " 1 When the King came down into the courtyards 
loud cheers burst from every company of the National Guards : 
" Vive le Roi ! Vive Louis XVI. ! Long Uve the King of the 
Constitution ! We wish for him ! We wish for no other ! Let 
him put himself at our head and we will defend him to death ! " ^ 

If only he had put himself at their head ! If only he could 
have found ringing tones in which to respond to these acclama- 
tions, have summoned smiles to his hps, and so won all hearts 
finally to his cause ! But it seems that Louis XVI., more than 
ever inarticulate under the stress of great emotion, cast a chill 
over the spirits of the men, and as the cries of " Vive le Roi ! " 
died down voices were heard to answer with " Vive la nation ! " 

On the other side of the Chateau the situation assumed a 
more threatening aspect, for at the moment that the King 
entered the garden the advance-guard of the revolutionary army, 

1 Histoire de la Conspiration du 10 Aout, by Bigot de Sainte-Croix, p. 40. 
2 Prods verbal de J. J. Leroux, officier municipal. 


armed with pikes, arrived on the scene from the Faubourg Saint- 
Marceau, and as they filed past overwhehned him with insults. 
By some strange mismanagement this revolutionary battalion 
was allowed to take up its stand amongst the other troops ; 
inevitably the spirit of insurrection spread, and when the King 
returned to the Chateau along the terrace bordering the river, 
angry cries were raised : " Down with the King ! Long live the 
Sans-Culottes ! " and other invectives of a grosser kind — only a 
dozen voices in all, yet loud enough to be heard in the Chateau.^ 

The sinister murmurs reached the ears of the Queen. M. Du- 
bouchage rushing to the window cried out in horror, " Good 
God ! It is the King they are hooting ! What the devil is he 
doing there ? Let us go down and find him." The Queen burst 
into tears. " All is lost," she said, when a moment later the King 
returned pale and breathless, " this review has done more harm 
than good." 

All indeed was lost. News had now arrived that Mandat 
had been either killed or arrested, that " all Paris " was on foot, 
and that the Faubourgs had assembled and were marching on 
the Chateau with their cannons. Then the Royalists who had 
collected in the palace knew that the moment had come to rally 
round the King, and M. d'Hervilly, a drawn sword in his hand, 
ordered the usher to open the doors to " the French nobihty ! " 

But where were the " 15,000 aristocrats " the revolutionaries 
declared to be concealed in the Chateau ? Where were the blood- 
thirsty chevaliers du poignard who were to execute a new massacre 
of St. Barthelemy at the bidding of Antoinette Medicis ? Nothing 
further from this description could be imagined than the strange 
procession that now streamed into the room led by the old 
Marechal de Mailly, aged eighty-six, and composed of two to 
three hundred men and boys, many with no pretensions to 
" nobility," but " ennobled by their devotion " to a lost cause.^ 
Few had been able to procure guns, and the greater number were 
armed only with swords or pistols, or with hastily improvised 
weapons they had seized on their passage — a squire and page 
had divided a pair of fire-tongs between them. Always, through- 
out the whole Revolution, the same unpreparedness, the same 
hopeless lack of design on the part of the Old Order, and on the 
other side foresight, method, superb organization ! Surely a 
warning to all ages that courage and devotion may prove un- 
avaihng before calculating cowardice and organized malevolence ? 
If bravery could have won the day on this loth of August the 
Chateau must have triumphed. The Queen, now that the danger 
was actually at the gates, dried her tears, and resolved that, 

^ Proems verbal de J. J. Leroux, officier municipal. 
' * Mimoires de Mme. Campan, p. 348. 


since the King could inspire no enthusiasm in his defenders, she 
herself would take up his role. When some of the National 
Guards murmured at the intrusion of the " nobiUty," which they 
regarded as a slur on their own abihty to defend the Royal 
Family, Marie Antoinette begged them to be reconciled. " They 
are our best friends," she said; " they will share the dangers of 
the National Guards, they will obey you," and turning to some 
grenadiers standing near she added : " Messieurs, remember 
that all you hold most dear, your wives, your children, your 
property, depends on our existence ; our interest is one ; you 
must not have the least distrust of these brave people, who will 
defend you to their last breath." 

According to BeauUeu, these words had the result of pro- 
moting a complete understanding between the two parties of 
the King's defenders, and all now stood together, resolved to 
resist attack by force of anns. 

Meanwhile an order to the same effect was given by the 
attorney-general, Roederer,^ and the municipal officer, Leroux,] 
to the troops surrounding the Chateau, but in so half-hearted a 
manner as only to increase the audacity of the insurgents ; the 
gunners defiantly rephed by unloading their cannons, and a 
deputation of seven or eight citizens came forward to demand 
the deposition of the King. The two magistrates thereupon 
decided that resistance was useless, and that the King must be 
persuaded to leave the Chateau with his family, and take refuge 
in the hall of the National Assembly. Leroux accordingly ^ 
returned to the royal apartments and presented himself to the 
King, who was in his bedroom surroimded by his family and 
several ministers. The danger, said Leroux, was now at its 
height, the National Guards had been corrupted, and the King and 
Queen, with their children and entourage, would all be massacred 
if they remained at the Chateau. 

Marie Antoinette had always held that " a king should die 
on his throne," and cried out indignantly that she would rather 
be nailed to the walls of the Chateau than leave it ; but Louis XVL, 
ever anxious to avoid bloodshed, seemed not unwilling to consider 
the proposal. Seeing this the Queen seized his hand and, raising 
it to her eyes, covered it with tears. ^ Roederer, arriving a 

^ Roederer, whose Chronique des Cinquante Jours contains the most 
detailed account of June 20 and August 10, is a far from unbiassed witness, 
for his sympathies are all with the authors of these days. Croker during 
Roederer's lifetime frankly accused him of Orleanism : " M. Roederer — a 
courtier of the son of ;£galit6 — will not now be ofifended at our saying that 
we have always considered him as of the Orleans party, to which Brissot 
and others of the Gironde originally belonged. ..." (Essays on the 
French Revolution, p. 211). 

* Declaration de Leroux. 


moment later, added his entreaties to those of Leroux, and to the 
repeated protests of the Queen repHed, " You wish then, Madame, 
to make yourself responsible for the death of the King, of your 
own son, of your daughter, of yourself, and of all those who 
would defend you." 

And at the mention of her children the Queen, touched in her 
most vulnerable spot, surrendered. 

The King looked at her with tears in his eyes, rose from his 
seat, and said, " Allons, marchons." 

His family gathered round him. 

" Monsieur Roederer," said Madame EHzabeth, " will you 
answer for the King's Hfe ? *' 

" Yes, madame, on my own.'' 

But when, a moment later, the Queen repeated the question, 
" Will you answer for the King's hfe and for that of my son ? " 
Roederer responded gloomily, " Madame, we will answer for 
dying at your side, that is all that we can promise." 

At Roederer's earnest request none of the Court was allowed 
to escort the Royal Family to the Assembly, and the King, 
obviously with the intention of signifying that they were now 
free to depart, turned to his nobles with the words, " Come, 
messieurs, there is nothing more to be done here either for 
you or me." 

But at the foot of the staircase, overcome with misgivings 
for their safety, he paused, and looking back at his faithful 
defenders he said to Roederer, " But what will become of them 
all? " 

" Sire," answered Roederer, " it seemed to me that they were 
in coloured coats {i.e. not in uniform) ; those who have swords 
need only take them off and follow you, going out by the garden." 
Yet after this assurance, and although it was at Roederer's own 
request that the King left the Chateau and that the nobles did 
not escort him, Roederer allowed it to be said by his friend 
Petion, without contradiction, that the King, " with complete 
sang-froid, left his satellites in the Chateau to be butchered." ^ 

The Royalists, it is true, were indignant at his departure ; 
they were all prepared to fight for him, and beUeved that if he 
had held his ground and remorselessly ordered the Swiss to fire 
on the mob, the day would have been won. From the point 

1 This lie was repeated by Danton with additions a week later — 
" whilst his oldest courtiers shielded with their bodies the door of his room 
where they believed him to be, he (Louis XVI.) fled by a back door with his 
family to the National Assembly ..." ("Lettrede Danton auxTribunaux," 
August 18, 1792, published in Buchez et Roux, xvii. 294). Louis XVI. and 
his family, as everybody knew, left the Ch&teau publicly by the main stair- 
case whilst all the courtiers looked on. See, besides the above account by 
Roedeter, the MSmoires de Mme. Campan, p. 350. 


of view of believers in despotism, the King was guilty therefore 
of criminal weakness, but for the advocates of democracy to 
blame him is monstrous. He left the Chateau solely to avoid 

It must be remembered that the attack on the Chateau had 
not yet begun, and did not begin until about an hour after the 
King had left it, and he not unnaturally imagined that since it 
was against himself the movement was directed, his departure 
would remove all cause de guerre ; he could not possibly foresee 
that the revolutionary leaders would be guilty of such incon- 
ceivable cowardice as to wreak their vengeance on the unfortunate 
Swiss Guards — most of them men of the people who were only 
doing their duty by remaining at their posts. According to 
Montjoie, the King, on leaving the Chateau, gave strict orders 
to the Swiss not to fire on the insurgents, and to offer no resistance 
whatever happened, thereby depriving the Marseillais of any 
pretext for aggression, and, whether Montjoie is right or not, this, 
as we shall see, was precisely the course the Swiss pursued. 

The King, satisfied therefore that no hostilities could now 
take place, led the way to the Assembly. The Queen followed 
with Madame de Tourzel, each holding a hand of the Dauphin ; 
Madame EUzabeth with Madame Royale, and the Princesse de 
Lamballe walked behind them with one of the ministers. An 
escort, formed of 150 Swiss and 300 National Guards, marched 
in Une on either side of the Royal Family. 

In the freshness of the glorious August morning the tragic 
procession made its way, first down the great central alley of the 
Tuileries garden, with its cool fountains and blazing flower-beds, 
then to the right under the shade of the ancient chestnut trees, 
from which, in the heat of this tropical summer, the leaves had 
already begun to flutter down on to the pathway, where the 
gardeners, unmoved by the fall of dynasties, were employed in 
sweeping them tidily into heaps. Perhaps it was the sudden 
recall to the normal facts of life produced by this circumstance 
that prompted the King's memorable remark, "The leaves ar( 
falling early this year." 

But at the Porte des Feuillants grim reaUties reasserted them- 
selves. Outside the gateway a crowd of men and women^ 
evidently animated by hostile intentions, were waiting, and i 
was precisely at this moment, when the Royal Family most needed] 
protection, that Roederer elected to deprive them of their milita] 
escort on the ridiculous pretext that the terrace of the Feuillanti 
was the property of the National Assembly. Whether, therefore, 
by the official stupidity or the dehberate treachery of Roederer^ 
the Royal Family was obliged to go forward into the midst of 
the crowd escorted only by a few deputies of the Assembly whi 



now came to meet them. Instantly the horde of ruffians surged 
forward howling execrations. " No, no, they shall not enter 
the Assembly, they are the cause of all our troubles ! Down 
with them ! Down ! " As usual, it was against the Queen that 
their fury was principally directed, and now, pressing closely 
around her, they snatched her watch and purse, overwhelming 
her the while with insults. A man of enormous height and 
" atrocious countenance " seized the Dauphin from his mother, 
but at the Queen's cry of terror said reassuringly, " Do not be 
afraid. I will do him no harm." And a passage through the 
crowd being at last cleared, he carried the boy in his arms to 
the Assembly. 

The Royal Family entered the hall. " Messieurs," said 
Louis XVI., addressing the Assembly, " I have come here to 
prevent a great crime, and I think I cannot be more in safety 
than amongst you, messieurs." 

Alas ! the King had not prevented crimes from taking place 
on that terrible day. The vengeance of the leaders was not 
directed only against the King and Royal Family ; other victims 
had been singled out, and nothing the unfortunate Louis XVI. 
could have done or said would have availed to slake their thirst 
for blood. Even as the King uttered these words three heads 
were carried on pikes past the door of the Assembly. 

As usual in the revolutionary outbreaks, the mob collected 
at the Porte des Feuillants had not come forward spontaneously 
to insult the Royal Family. The emissaries of the Due d'Orl^ans 
were behind the movement.^ It was they who told the people 
that the Royal Family must not be allowed to take refuge 
with the Assembly, and it was they who drove the mob to carry 
out the first proscriptions on the list they had drawn up for 
the day. 

Of all the enemies that the Due d'Orleans had made for him- 
self during his revolutionary career, none was so violent or so 
unrelenting as the joumaUst Suleau. Fran9ois Louis Suleau /^ 
was no aristocrat, but the son of a cloth-maker, and he had 
thrown himself into the counter-revolutionary movement with 
all the ardour usually to be found only in the opposing camp. 

" A vigorous mind, always giving vent to witty saUies and 
bursts of boisterous laughter, with an unbridled but infectious 
gaiety ... a Meridional of the North, loving danger for danger's 
sake . . . the joyous champion of lost causes . . . mocking at 
a revolution," ^ Suleau had all the makings of a rebel, and at the 
outbreak of the Revolution had marched in the vanguard of 

1 Perri^res, iii. 189. * Article on Suleau by L. Meister. 


insurrection. But before long his fierce love of justice drew 
him over to the cause of the King, in whom he recognized the 
one hope of liberty for France, and in his far from respectful 
Petit Mot a Louis XVI. he frankly declared his reason for 
this allegiance : "If the good of humanity and the salvation of 
my country did not happen to be identified with the interests of 
your glory, you would find me amongst the most intrepid in 
proving to you that I am a man and a citizen before I am your 
subject." It was because he hated fraud and imposture, because 
he dreaded the misfortunes which the usurpation of the throne 
by the Due d'Orleans would have brought on France, that from 
August of 1789 he had devoted aU his talents, all his wit and 
untiring energy, to fighting the Orleaniste conspiracy. Careless 
of the consequences, perpetually menaced with assassination, 
Suleau had continued with his pen to attack the duke — " he had 
outraged him, threatened him, defied him in every way, before 
the tribunals and the justice of men, and before the judgement 
of God." 1 

Naturally, Suleau 's name had long been on the Ust of pro- 
scriptions drawn up by the Orleanistes. Two days before the 
loth of August, CamiUe Desmoulins, his old college friend, who 
had remained attached to him in spite of the fact that they were 
now political antagonists, warned him that his head was one of 
the first marked down by the leaders of the insurrection, and 
offered him a refuge in his own house. Suleau refused to com- 
promise his friend, and went forward boldly to meet his fate — 
the sacrifice of his life, he said, had long since been made. At 
eight o'clock in the morning of the loth of August, Suleau, who 
had spent the night in the Tuileries, came out on to the Terrasse 
des Feuillants where the crowd, set in motion by the Orl6anistes, 
had assembled. His handsome appearance, his fresh attire and 
glittering sword attracted attention, and he was arrested on the 
pretext that he formed part of a false patrol. Suleau proved his 
innocence and was liberated, but the Orleanistes had this time 
made sure of their victim. In the Cour des Feuillants Theroigne 
de Mericourt'was waiting for him — ^Theroigne at the very height 
of revolutionary frenzy. The Httle Belgian had a private venge- 
ance to execute in attacking Suleau, for the witty joumaHst, in 
his campaign against the Orleaniste conspiracy, had frequently 
made Theroigne the butt of his pleasantries, and it was not only 
as a partisan of the duke, but as a woman outraged in her vanity 
and even in her prudery — for fille dejoie though she was, Theroigne 
could endure no imputations on her " virtue " — that she longed 
to plunge her dagger into the heart of her persecutor. Yet it 
would be absurd to accept the view of M. Louis Blanc that 
* Philippe d'OrUans £galiU, by Auguste Ducoin, p. 170. 



Theroigne was acting independently on this occasion, for it was 
always as an agent of the Due d' Orleans that she had figured in 
the revolutionary movement, it was as an Orleaniste that she 
had incurred the animosity of Robespierre and Collot d'Herbois,^ 
and since, as we have seen, it was the Orleanistes who had planned 
the death of Suleau, it was obviously at their bidding that she 
carried out the design. Her personal rancour merely lent a 
sharper edge to her fury, which at this crisis reached a pitch 
bordering on the insanity that was later on to become chronic. 
Theroigne, on the morning of this loth of August, was nearly as 
mad as the enraged hyena that afterwards bore her name in the 
Salpetriere, but this madness that was to rob her of all semblance 
to a human being gave her to-day a kind of diabolical beauty 
which amazed all beholders. Dressed in a blue riding-habit, 
wearing on her head a feathered hat a la Henri IV., with a pair 
of pistols and a dagger in her belt, the Uttle creature seemed 
suddenly to have recovered her lost youth, for her face, haggard 
in repose, was now Ut by an inward fire that glowed in her dark 
skin, and flamed forth from her eyes obUterating the ravages of 
ill-spent years. Thiebault, meeting her at this moment, took 
her to be only twenty — ^no woman, he wrote long afterwards 
had ever made such an impression on him : "I say, with a sort 
of horror, that she was pretty, very pretty, her excitement 
enhanced her beauty ... for she was in the throes of revolu- 
tionary hysteria impossible to describe." 

Forcing a passage through the crowd in the Cour des Feuillants 
with the cry of " Make way ! Make way ! " Theroigne sprang 
on to a cannon and shouted, " How long will you allow your- 
selves to be misled with vain words ? " Pla5dng on the passions 
of the mob she urged them to violence. " Where is Suleau — 
the Abbe Suleau ? " she cried, for she had never seen her enemy 
and imagined him to be a priest. 

Then Suleau saw his death had been resolved on, and, hoping 
by the sacrifice of his Ufe to avoid further bloodshed, said to the 
National Guards around him, "I see that to-day the peopls 
wish for blood ; perhaps one victim will suffice, let me go toward, 
them. I will pay for all." The Guards attempted to detain 
him, but Suleau rushed forward to face his assassins. For the 
first time these two sworn foes — the Uttle virago mounted on the 
cannon, and the young man in all the beauty of his strength and 
fierce courage — looked each other in the eyes. The moment of 

1 See Siances des Jacobins, date of April 23, 1792, where " M. Collot 
rises to congratulate himself on the fact that Mile. Theroigne has withdrawn 
her friendship from him as from M. Robespierre." At this Mile. Thdroigne 
flew at Collot with clenched fists and was removed from the hall amidst 


reckoning had come at last. Terrible in her rage, Theroigne 
sprang upon her victim, seized him by the collar, and, with the 
aid of the armed ruffians in her following, dragged him towards 
the courtyard. But if Suleau was prepared to die, he went not 
as a lamb to the slaughter ; ever a fighter, he contrived to possess 
himself of a sabre and fought his assailants like a lion. Three 
other victims fell beside him — the gigantic Abbe Bouyon and 
two officers of the King's old bodyguard, M, de Solminiac and 
M. du Vigier, known for his beauty as " le beau Vigier." At last 
Suleau, seeing that he too must now be overwhelmed, crossed his 
arms and cried out defiantly, " Kill me, then, and see how a 
Royalist can die ! " Instantly Theroigne and her murderous 
horde closed upon him — Suleau fell pierced with dagger thrusts. 
His Ufeless body was dragged to the Place Vendome and hacked 
to pieces. Then that noble head was raised on a pike and carried 
in triumph ^ past the door of the Assembly at the moment the 
Royal Family entered the hall. 

Whilst these scenes were taking place around the Salle 
du Manege, confusion reigned at the Chateau. The troops, 
left by the death of Mandat without a leader, could decide on 
no plan of campaign ; some were for leaving their post and 
retiring to barracks, declaring that now the Royal Family had 
gone nothing but bricks and mortar remained to be defended. 
The gendarmerie stationed on the Place du Louvre being of 
this opinion calmly withdrew to the Palais Royal, leaving the 
approach to the Chateau open to the enemy. 

But the nobles who remained in the royal apartments were 
for standing their ground ; only a few of their number had 
followed the King, and the rest, rallying round the Marechal de 
Mailly, enthusiastically concurred in his plan for resisting in- 
vasion to the last. " Here are the gallants ! Here are the last 
of the nobiUty," cried the heroic old man as this pathetic legion 
ranged itself in order of battle ; " the post of a general and of 
his companions -in -arms is at the place where the throne is 
attacked and in peril ! " And as he went up and down the 
ranks he continued to repeat, *' Conquer or die, gentlemen, 
conquer or die ! " 

The first detachment of the Marseillais had now arrived on 
the Carrousel, but here a delay occurred in the attack on the 
Chateau, for the Faubourgs failed to put in an appearance. 
Once again Balaam's ass had refused to go forward. Santerre 
indeed, who was to lead Saint -Ant oine, " the Faubourg of glory," 
to the assault, seemed at the last moment overcome with panic, 

* Article on Suleau in the Biographie Michaud; Beaulieu, ill. 470; 
Deux Amis, viii. 168; Peltier, i. 104. 


and urged his battalions not to march on the Chateau, where 
he said the Royahsts were assembled in force. Thereupon 
Westermann, holding his sword to Santerre's throat, ordered him 
to lead on his men, and Santerre obeyed ; but at the H6tel de Ville 
he contrived to have himself elected commander-in-chief, and, 
on the pretext that his post should now be at headquarters, 
absented himself from the army and was seen no more all day. 

At last the Faubourgs, commanded by Westermann and 
Lazowski, arrived on the field of battle before the entrance to 
the Chateau. Such was the attacking army — a vanguard of Mar- 
seillais largely composed of Italians, a reluctant rearguard from 
the Faubourgs led by a German and a Pole.^ And this was the 
French people rising as one man to overthrow the monarchy ! 

At the first onslaught the Marseillais and the confederates 
from Brest, in Brittany, alone displayed any resolution, and it 
was they who advanced towards the courtyards from which the 
Swiss and National Guards had retreated into the palace,^ and 
beat on the great gates of the Chateau demanding admittance. 
The royal concierges withdrew the bolts and fled. A band of 
Marseillais rushed forward into the arms of the gunners of the 
National Guard, who, always the disloyal element in this body, 
immediately joined forces with the insurgents, and bringing out 
their cannons pointed them against the Chateau. 

By this time the mob of Paris had at last begun to collect, 
for the impunity with which the revolutionary battaHons had 
penetrated into the Carrousel and the courtyards reassured the 
most timorous, and streams of idlers, ever eager for a spectacle, 
hurried to the scene of action. 

Only about 750 Swiss, a handful of National Guards, and 
200 nobles now remained to defend the Chateau. If only the 
Swiss, therefore, could be suborned or vanquished, further re- 
sistance would be impossible ; and the mob, seeing a number of 
these men looking down on them from the windows, shouted 
loudly, " Down with the Swiss ! Lay down your arms ! " 

The Swiss, who entertained no hostile feelings towards the 
people, repUed with conciliatory gestures by way of persuading 
them to desist from attack, and the better to prove their 

^ Beaulieu, iii. 471. 

2 This order was given directly the King left the Chateau ; see account 
of August 10 given by M. Victor Constant de Rebecqui, officier aux gardes 
suisses du Roi, Auckland MSS. in British Museum : " The King and his 
family retire to the Assembly accompanied by a part of the regiment and 
our commanders ; we are all made to retire into the interior of the apart- 
ments and to abandon the outer posts ; then the assailants break down 
the gate of the courtyard and enter at the same moment ; the gunners placed 
there for the defence of the Chateau abandon their cannons, which fall into 
the hands of those {i.e. the gunners) of the Faubourgs." 



pacific intentions, threw down packets of cartridges amongst 

But the group of Swiss sentinels drawn up at the foot of the 
staircase ^ presented a more formidable appearance, and for a 
quarter of an hour this gallant band held the immense mob at 
bay by their intrepid air and resolute countenances. At last a 
dozen Marseillais, led by Westermann, ventured forward and 
ordered the men to lay down their arms, adding, "We have 
come to fraternize with you." 

The Swiss, who understood Uttle French, remained immov- 
able. Westermann repeated the demand in German, urging 
them not to sacrifice their Hves at the bidding of their ofi&cers. 

To this the Sergeant Blazer repUed : " We are Swiss, and the 
Swiss only lay down their arms with their Uves. We do not 
consider we have deserved such an insult. If the regiment is 
not needed let it be legally ordered to retire, but we will not 
leave our posts and we will not be disarmed." ^ 

Thereupon Westermann and his troops retreated, for it was 
never the revolutionary way to advance upon armed men, how- 
ever inferior in number, and none of the " brave Marseillais " 
felt inchned to engage the Swiss in open combat. Some of the 
insurgents happened, however, to be armed with long pikes 
hooked at the end, and these ruffians now ventured forward and, 
whilst remaining out of range of the sentinels' swords, contrived 
to harpoon five of the unfortunate men, dragging them at the 
same time towards them by means of the hooks affixed in their 
clothing.^ This manoeuvre dehghted the mob, who gathered 
round with shrieks of laughter, whilst the five Swiss were dis- 
armed, stripped, and finally massacred at the foot of the stair- 
case.* Suddenly a shot was fired — by whom contemporaries 
are unable to agree in stating. The revolutionaries, of course, 
declared the Swiss were the aggressors, but D'Ossonville, an eye- 
witness, afterwards an agent of the Comit6 de Salut Public in 
the Terror, who as a revolutionary could have no object in 
whitewashing the Swiss, asserts that " several rebels having 
dressed up in Swiss uniform sUpped amongst their ranks, fired 
on the insurgents, and directly the first report was heard, women, 
purposely stationed on the terrace, began to call out, ' Ah ! the 
rascals of Swiss are firing on our brothers the patriots ! ' At the 
same moment the fight began, and became general. . . . This 
what has rem.ained unknown but what I saw and observed. B 

^ Beaulieu, iii. 474 ; Deux Amis, viii. 180 ; Peltier, i. iii. 

2 Mortimer Ternaux, ii. 314. 

3 Montjoie, Conjuration de d'Orlians, iii. 195 ; Peltier, i. iii ; Beaulieu, 
iii. 474. 

* Deux Amis, viii. 180. 



it was necessary to say that the King had ordered the attack 
when he had expressly forbidden it." ^ 

The question of this discharge is, however, a matter of little 
importance, for the point is not who fired the first shot, but who 
shed the first blood. It was not the report of a gun that gave the 
signal for battle, but the cowardly murder of the five sentinels, 
and if the Swiss then fired they were in no way the aggressors. ^ 

At any rate they did fire now, and they fired vigorously ; a 
perfect hail of musketry swept the front ranks of the assailants, 
whereupon the Swiss on the upper floors, with the nobles and the 
National Guards, joined in the fusillade, shooting down at the 
crowd from the balconies, roofs, and windows. 

The effect of this was terrific, for the insurgents, after respond- 
ing with a few cannon-balls, so uncertainly aimed as to do Uttle 
damage, were suddenly overcome with panic, and all at once the 
vast mass of people that filled the courtyards and the Carrousel 
wavered, drew back, and finally stampeded. ^ The scene that 
followed was indescribable — ^hardy Bretons, brave Marseillais, 
red-capped Sans-Culottes armed with pikes, female " patriots " 
dragging terrified children by the hand, all running madly for 
their lives, and even springing over the parapet into the river ; 
mounted poUce tearing away at full gallop, crushing passers-by 
beneath their horses' feet, and all " pale as spectres," aU scream- 
ing as they fled, " To arms, citizens, to arms ! they slaughter 

^ " Fragments des Memoires de d'Ossonville," published in Documents 
pour servir d I'Histoire de la Revolution Frangaise, by Charles d'H6ricault and 
Gustave Bord, vol. ii. p. 2. 

2 On the supposed treachery of the Swiss see also the account given by 
the minister Bigot de Sainte-Croix, Histoire de la Conspiration du 10 A otlt, 
p. 58 : " When the troops posted in the courtyards had heard for certain 
of the departure of their Majesties they looked at each other, and whether 
the King's words had reached them or not, said to one another, * There is 
nothing more to be done here ; why should we come to blows ? Why 
should we slaughter each other ? ' A deputation is sent to the confederates 
to bring the words of peace, and one of their detachments comes back with 
the deputation to ratify the agreement. The scoundrels ! They are no 
sooner in the middle of the courtyard than they make signs to their cohorts 
to follow them, they advance amidst insulting and ferocious laughter, and 
all at once dashing forward to the foot of the great staircase where the 
Swiss are standing, ' Where are the Swiss ? ' they cry in bloodthirsty tones, 
' where are the Swiss ? ' And five of these sentinels have fallen beneath 
their blows. Then, yes, then the Swiss companies and the National Guards 
feU on the assassins ; then they opposed force with force, they fought for 
their lives and not for the defence of a palace in which the King was no 
longer ; but the rage of the maniacs saw in the palace men to massacre 
and walls to destroy. This, then, was the treachery of the defenders of the 
G^urt, these were the wishes of conciUation brought by the confederates ; 
this faith violated by signs of friendship and these fraternal embraces, . . ." 

' Mortimer Ternaux, ii. 316 ; Beaulieu, iii. 475 ; Ferri^res, iii. 195. 
" The Swiss and the National Guards drove back the insurgents beyond 
the Rue Niyaise " (D'Ossonville, op. cit.). 


your parents, your brothers, your sons ! " ^ Through every exit 
from the Carrousel they rushed frantically, faUing over each othe 
in the struggle ; on through the streets they ran, nor did some 
stop running until they reached the Faubourg Saint-Antoine> 
where they bolted themselves within their doors for safety.^ 

The Chateau had now scored a complete victory ; the only] 
insurgents who remained to carry on the siege took refuge behin< 
the buildings at the other side of the Carrousel, from which point 
they continued to discharge their cannons spasmodically at tl 
palace, and, by way of variation, set fire to the buildings surround- 
ing the courtyard. The Swiss, seeing that the whole front of the 
Chateau was now cleared of assailants, triumphantly descends 
to the courtyards, and carried off some of the cannons left behindj 
by the MarseUlais in their flight. 

Why did no one tell the King the true state of affairs ? Whi 
was no man of energy forthcoming to point the way back to 
palace and his throne reconquered for him by the gallant Swiss }\ 
But that malignant fate which ordained that at every crisis ot 
the Revolution the King should fall a victim to treacheroi 
counsels still pursued him, and a lying message was brought to the 
Assembly that the Swiss were " massacring the people," and als 
that the Chateau was about to be forced. Panic-stricken deputi( 
gathered around him, entreating him to intervene on behalf ol 
his people. Louis XVI., who knew nothing beyond what he ws 
told, which seemed to be confirmed by the roar of battle and the 
crashing of cannon-balls on the roof of the Assembly, conclude 
that his orders not to fire on the mob had been wantonly dis 
obeyed, and therefore allowed himself to be persuaded to write 
the fatal message to the Swiss, commanding them to cease fire 
and join him at the hall of the Assembly. 

" This order," says BeauHeu, " may be regarded as the last 
blow dealt at the monarchy. I have reason to beheve, oni 
account of all I observed, that if the King's defenders had made 
the most of their advantage the King would, in the course of the 
day, have been on his throne again. I know that several bat^ 
tahons were on the march to defend the Chateau, and amongst 
them those of the Champs filysees and the Pont Neuf. If onl] 
one of these had arrived in time it would have sufiiced to ensure'' 
victory and give courage to the Swiss, who till then had acted 
alone, but when these battaUons saw that all had been abandoned 
they joined themselves to those they had wished to repulse 
against those they intended to defend ; this is what has always 
been seen and always will be seen to happen in all revolutions." 

1 Revolutions de Paris, by Prudhomme, xiii. 234 ; Journal of Dr. John 
Moore, i. 41. 

2 Mortimer Ternaux, ii. 316 ; Deux Amis, viii. 182. 



This disastrous act which sealed the fate of the monarchy was 
quickly noised abroad, and put fresh heart into the revolutionary 
legions. The Swiss had been forbidden by the King to fire on 
them — therefore they might with impunity return to the charge 
and massacre the Swiss 1 ^ 

When, in obedience to the King's order, two columns of Swiss 
abandoned their posts and marched through the garden of the 
Tuileries, a hail of musketry fire was directed on them by in- 
surgents concealed behind the trees. One column succeeded in 
reaching the Assembly in safety, and these men, together with 
their comrades who had accompanied the King to the Assembly, 
were deposited in the Church of the FeuUlants and survived the 
massacre. But the other column, which had marched on towards 
the swing bridge leading to the Place Louis XV., were pitilessly 
butchered ; many fell beneath the chestnut trees of the garden ; 
the rest having reached the statue of Louis XV. in the centre of 
the great square, formed themselves into a phalanx and prepared 
for defence, but the mounted poUce charged them with their 
sabres and cut them down almost to a man. Napoleon, who 
passed through the garden at this moment, declared at the end 
of his life that none of his battlefields had given him the idea of 
so many corpses as the Tuileries on this August morning strewn 
with the boches of the Swiss. 

The entire garrison, however, had not evacuated the palace ; 
300 to 400 Swiss, who had either not heard or not obeyed the 
order to retire, ^ stiU remained in the King's apartments, where a 
cannon-ball, bursting in amongst them, had killed or wounded a 
great number.^ These soldiers, a few nobles and ladies of the 
Court, and about one hundred servants were, therefore, the sole 
occupants of the Chateau, which after the King's order to cease 
fire put up no further defence. The insurgents behind the 
Carrousel, finding that their fire now met with no reply, ventured 
at last timorously forward across the courtyards, and finally 
entered the hall of the palace, evacuated five minutes earlier 
by the two columns of Swiss. The impunity with which this 
manoeuvre was executed reassured the crowd that lingered at 
a distance ; stragglers poured in from all sides, and before 
long an immense tumultuous mob burst into the hall of the 

^ " The Swiss," said Napoleon, who was an eye-witness of the affray, 
*' plied their artillery vigorously ; the Marseillais were driven back as far 
as the Rue de I'fichelle and only came back when the Swiss had retired by 
order of the King." See also Mortimer Ternaux, ii. 325. 

» Mortimer Ternaux, ii. 330. 

' " I was then in the King's apartments with 300 to 400 of our men" 
a cannon-ball had thrown us into disorder and killed a great number ; 
(evidence of M. Victor Constant de Rebecqui). 


So they had burst into this same hall seven weeks earlier ; 
so they had stormed up the great staircase breathing threatenings 
and slaughter, only to be brought to bay when they reached 
their goal ; now, with the ferocious Marseillais at their head, 
there was to be no pause, no relenting, and hke a devastating 
torrent they swept onwards and spread themselves all over the 

A mad rage for destruction possessed them ; everything 
animate or inanimate fell beneath the blows of their pikes and 
muskets, furniture was flung from the windows, the great mirrors 
in which " Medicis- Antoinette had studied the hypocritical airs 
she showed in pubUc " ^ flew into a thousand fragments ; treasures 
of art, clocks, pictures, porcelain, silver, jewels, were pillaged or 
destroyed. All the Swiss — the soldiers who had remained at 
their posts, even the wounded lying helpless on the floors and 
the doctors bending over them to dress their wounds — ^were bar- 
barously butchered ; rivers of blood flowed over the shining 
parquet of the great apartments. Everywhere the savage horde 
pursued their victims, the grey-haired porters were dragged forth 
from their lodges, fugitives were tracked down to the deepest 
cellars, up to the remotest attics, and put to death. In the 
Queen's bedroom women of the town tore open the wardrobes 
and dressed themselves in the Queen's gowns ; one throwing herself 
on the bed cried out that some one was concealed beneath the 
bedding, and the mattress being torn off amidst drunken laughter, 
a trembling Swiss was discovered and massacred. The scenes 
that took place were so unspeakably hideous that one would 
thankfully draw a veil over what followed, but if we are to under- 
stand the French Revolution as it really was, if we are to see this 
loth of August, so vaunted by revolutionary writers, in its true 
colours, we must look facts in the face. And in full justice to 
the people one circumstance must not be forgotten — the mob that 
committed these atrocities was literally mad with drink. For in 
that first wild onrush a band of insurgents had found their way 
down to the cellars and gorged themselves with wine and 
liqueurs.^ No less than two hundred, says Prudhomme, died of 
the effects. Then, whilst some remained lying in helpless stupor 
on the cellar floors, others bore suppHes to their comrades up 
above — ^the contents of 10,000 bottles were distributed amongst 
the mob ; ^ the garden and courtyards around the Chateau 
became a sea of broken glass. The effect of this indiscriminate 
carousing on unaccustomed liquors wildly mingled was to produce 
in the people a condition of complete dementia, and it is as 

1 Prudhomme, Revolutions de Paris. 

2 Mercier, Le Nouveau Paris, i. 209. 

• Le Comte de Fersen et la Cour de France, ii. 348. 


creatures deprived of all reasoning faculty, of all semblance to 
humanity, no more responsible for their actions than Bedlam 
suddenly turned loose, that we must regard them. 

For on this dreadful loth of August, alone amongst all the 
great days of the Revolution in Paris, it was by " the people " 
that these atrocities were committed. The savage Marseillais 
showed themselves less ferocious. All the ladies of the Court 
were spared by order of their leaders, the word being given, 
" We do not kill women." ^ 

Fifty or sixty of the flying Swiss were also saved by them ; ^ 
stranger still, the warUke old Marechal de Mailly succeeded in 
disarming his assailants. " The face of the Marechal," says 
Soulavie, " having arrested the hand of a confederate who had 
raised his arm to kill him, this man asks who he is, seizes him, 
pretends to ill-treat him, tells him to keep silence, pushes aside 
the crowd, and leads him back safe and sound to his house." ^ 

The King's doctor, Lemonnier, was likewise led home in 
triumph. During the invasion of the Chateau he had remained 
quietly seated in his study ; suddenly " men with blood-stained 
arms " battered on the panels of the door. The old man opened 
to them. " What are you doing here ? " they said. " You are 
very quiet." 

" I am at my post." 

" What are you at the Chateau ? " 

" Do you not see by my coat ? I am the King's doctor." 

" And are you not afraid ? " 

" Of what ? I am unarmed. Does one injure a man wha 
does no injury ? " 

" You are a good fellow. Listen ; it is not well for you here ; 
others less reasonable than us might confound you with the rest. 
You are not safe. Where would you like to be taken ? " 

" To the Palace of the Luxembourg." 

" Come, follow us and fear nothing." 

" I have already told you I have no fear of those to whom I 
have done no harm." 

Then they led him through the serried ranks of bayonets and 
loaded guns, crying out before him as they went, " Comrades, 
let this man pass. He is the King's doctor, but he is not afraid ; 
he is a good fellow." * 

^ Beaulieu, iii. 483 ; Memoires de Mme. Campan, p. 351. 

^ Journal of Dr. John Moore, i. 60. 

' Another contemporary, the Comte d'Aubarede {Lettres d' Aristocrates, 
by Pierre de Vaissiere, p. 538) , says it was by a poor artisan that the Marechal 
was saved. But the revolutionaries did not spare him ; he was guillotined 
under Joseph Lebon, at the age of eighty-seven. His last words on the 
scaffold were " Vive le Roi 1 I say it as did my ancestors I " 

^'Crimes de la Rivolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 70. 


It is not, then, to the Marseillais that the greatest atrocities 
of the day must be attributed, but to the people, or rather to the 
populace of Paris — above all to the women, and, as in all the 
revolutionary outbreaks, it was " the people " themselves who 
fared worst at their hands. 

To the servants in particular the mob showed no mercy. 
They, poor souls, had not thought of flying ; many, indeed, were 
imbued with revolutionary doctrines,^ and, Uttle dreaming that 
the rage of the populace would be turned against themselves, 
remained calmly at their work, in the midst of which the drunken 
mob surprised them. The kitchens, like the gilded apartments 
up above, became a shambles ; every man from the head chefs 
to the humblest scuUions perished — " the cooks' heads fell into 
the saucepans, where they were preparing the viands." ^ 

" Oh ! height of barbarism ! " cries Mercier, " a wretched 
undercook, who had not had time to escape, was seized by these 
tigers, thrust into a copper, and in this state exposed to the 
heat of the furnace. Then falling on the provisions every one 
seizes what he can lay hands on. One carries off chickens on a 
spit ; another a turbot ; that one a carp from the Rhine as large 
as himself . . . monsters with human faces collected in hundreds 
under the porch of the Escaher du Midi, and danced amidst 
torrents of blood and wine. A murderer played the vioUn 
beside the corpses, and thieves, with their pockets full of gold, 
hanged other thieves on the banisters." ^ Still worse horrors 
took place that cannot be written, nameless indecencies, hideous 
debaucheries, ghastly mutilations of the dead,* and again, as 
after the siege of the Bastille, cannibal orgies. Before great 
fires, hastily kindled in the apartments, '* cutlets of Swiss " were 
grilled and eaten ; ^ the actor Grammont — one of the earUest 
hirelings of the Due d'Orleans, and the last man to insult the 
Queen on her way to the scaffold — ^in a fit of revolutionary 
frenzy drank down a glass of blood. ^ 

Outside, in the garden of the Chateau, ghastly scenes met 
the eye ; on the Ufeless bodies of the Swiss women perched Uke 
vultures, gloating over their victims ; a young girl of eighteen 
was seen plunging a sabre into the corpses.' 

1 Beaulieu, iii. 482. 

2 Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, iii. 196 ; Rivolutions de Paris, by 
Prudhomme, xiii. 236. 

' Mercier, Le Nouveau Paris, i. 210. 

* Crimes de la RivoluHon, by Prudhomme, iv. 69 ; Montjoie, Conjura- 
tion de d'OrUans, iii. 195 ; Histoireparticuliire, etc., by Maton de la Varenne, 

p. 139. 

^ Crimes de la RSvolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 68. 

« Beaulieu, iii. 482 ; Revolution du 10 Aoht, by Peltier. 

' Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, iii. 196. 


Needless to say, the mass of the true people took no part 
in these atrocities. " Peaceful citizens," says Mercier, " whom 
curiosity had attracted to the Tuileries to discover whether the 
Chateau still existed, wandered slowly, struck with gloomy 
stupor, along the terrace covered with broken bottles. They 
did not weep, they seemed petrified, dumbfounded ; they shrank 
with horror at each footstep at the odour and the aspect of these 
bleeding corpses. ..." 

THE r6LE of the LEADERS 

But whilst the true people shuddered, the authors of the day 
knew no pity. To them the loth of August was a " glorious day," 
for which each one was now eager to claim the responsibility. 
Directly the Chateau had fallen and the mob had proved victori- 
ous, every patriot came bravely to the fore. " Danton," says 
Lou vet, " who had concealed himself during the battle, appeared 
after the victory armed with a huge sabre, and marching at the 
head of a battalion of Marseillais as if he had been the hero of 
the day." 

The other '* great revolutionaries " had all remained likewise 
in their hiding-places until the danger was past. What, asks 
Prudhonmie, were the leading Jacobins doing during the attack 
on the Chateau ? " They knew everything ; none of them 
appeared in arms at the siege of the Tuileries. Marat, Robes- 
pierre,^ Danton, not one of them dared to show himself. All 
these people invariably displayed the greatest bravery, but only 
in the tribune ; the tongue was their favourite weapon. The 
few Jacobins who came out prudently placed themselves at the 
tail of the bands of Marseillais and Bretons. There is nothing 
more cowardly than a revolutionary from speculation ! " ^ 

But if it was not to the efforts of these men that the loth of 
August owed its triumph, the excesses of the day he at their door 
alone. Is not the instigator of a crime infinitely more criminal 
than the wretched instrument who commits it ? And were not 
the orators and writers — Marat, Danton, Desmoulins, Brissot, 
Carra, Madame Roland — more truly the authors of these ex- 
cesses than the crazed and drunken populace who put their 
precepts into practice ? For the cannibals of the Tuileries, the 
horrible women of the Paris Faubourgs plunging their knives 
into the bodies of their victims, had not evolved such deeds from 

1 Tallien, who took part in the siege, later, in the Electoral Assembly, 
accused Robespierre to his face of having " gone to earth for three days 
and three nights in his cellar and of having come out only in order to 
profit by the turn of events " (Notes d' Alexandre, published in the Revue 
de la Rivolution, by Gustavc Bord, viii. 175). 

^ Crimes de la Revolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 67. 


their own inner consciousness ; for months they had been trained 
for the part at the Societes Fratemelles of the Jacobins, where 
murder and violence were systematically preached, and every 
means employed to excite their passions. It will be urged that 
they themselves must have been inherently evil to respond 
in so atrocious a manner to the suggestions of their leaders ; 
the old theory of " Parisian ferocity " will be brought forward 
to explain the phenomenon. But we have only to study the 
memoirs of the period to discover that it was not the women 
of Paris alone on whom these doctrines produced the same 
dehumanizing effect. 

Thus, for example, Thiebault, himself an ardent democrat, 
relates that soon after the loth of August he dined with certain 
Prussian friends of his. Monsieur and Madame Bitaube, and 
amongst the guests were Chamfort, the Orleaniste, and an EngUsh 
authoress, Helen Maria Williams. Chamfort deUghted Miss 
Wilhams with his revolutionary verses, and Thiebault adds : 
" The thing that struck me most was the political exaggeration 
of Miss Williams, who showed herself an enthusiast for our 
Revolution, even for its excesses, which in my opinion damned 
it." Still more amazing was the attitude of the two good 
Germans. " That M. and Mme. Bitaube," says Thiebault, " who 
were both over sixty, who were all that is best on this earth, 
who were distinguished, he for his merit, she for her fine and gentle 
wit, should have shown themselves more revolutionary than their 
two guests, that they should have become apologists of the loth 
of August, that astounded me ! But it is not the only example 
I could quote of this kind of aberration." ^ 

In order to appreciate the attitude of Miss Williams and her 
worthy German friends, we must refer to a description of the 
state of Paris at this moment given by Mr. Burges in a letter to 
Lord Auckland, dated September 4. " The EngUsh messenger, 
Morley," Burges writes, " has just returned from Paris, where 
he relates that pestilence is now expected. It was found easier 
to kiU than to bury the victims of the loth. Those who were 
amused by shedding blood soon grew tired of digging graves ; 
of course great numbers were put out of the way somewhat 
carelessly, and the cellars and other subterraneous places were 
found convenient receptacles for the dead bodies ; into these 
immense numbers were thrown, and when they were fuU they 
were shut up in the best way the hurry of the operation would 
permit. The natural consequences of intennent now began to 
manifest themselves pretty strongly. Morley says that, being 
obliged, the last day or two he continued in Paris, to run about 
the town a good deal for his passports, he was saluted in several 
* Memoir es de Thiebault, i. 313. 


streets with such whiffs of putrefaction as to be obliged to cover 
his face and run off as fast as he could." ^ 

Under these circumstances it was not possible for a moment 
to forget the recent massacres, whilst the chaotic state of the 
capital made it evident that the atrocities, which had just taken 
place, were but the prelude to others still more dreadful. " Ah ! 
how fortunate you are not to inhabit this town," writes a Parisian 
to a friend in the country on August 16. " People who think 
know no rest night or day. Every day, on rising, one hears of 
the death of neighbours or friends. So far these are only rose- 
leaves — the end of the month provides us with greater dangers." * 

" You think," write two other contemporaries, " that one can 
see these horrors without shuddering ? One would be almost 
a barbarian ! " ^ 

Yet it is no barbarian but an educated Enghshwoman, an 
" intellectual " and a sentimentalist, that we find dining out 
amidst these ghastly scenes and enthusiastically applauding 
them. Let us have done, then, with the futile theory of " Parisian 
ferocity " by which panegyrists of the Revolution would explain 
its crimes ; these crimes were not accidental to the Revolution, 
they were not the outcome of the Latin temperament, but the 
direct result of those doctrines which produced in men and 
women of all nations, whether English, French, or German, a 
ferocity that knew no relenting. 

THE r6lE of the INTRIGUES 

Helen Maria Williams was not unique amongst her race, for 
although the great mass of the EngUsh people shuddered at the 
atrocities of August 10, and the Court of St. James's withdrew its 
ambassador from Paris, the " EngUsh Jacobins " accorded their 
whole-hearted approval to their French aUies. We shall reserve 
their congratulatory letters and addresses, however, tiU the end 
of the next chapter, for it was not until the massacres of September 
that their admiration was roused to its fullest pitch. 

Prussia, needless to say, found Ukewise cause for rejoicing in 
the attack on the Tuileries and the subsequent imprisonment of 
the Royal Family in the Temple^ " The most splendid dream 
a king can dream," Frederick the Great had been known to say, 
"is to dream that he is King of France." The loth of August 
had removed all cause for envy from Frederick's successor. 

As to the Girondins and Orleanistes who had engineered the 

^ Correspondence of Lord Auckland, ii. 438. 

2 M. Rochet k Mme. de Thomassin Mandat, Lettres d'Aristocrates, by 
Pierre de Vaissi^re, p. 533. 

'^ MM. Simon et Pierre N. 4 M. Lhoste, ihid. p. 537. 


movement, their triumph was destined to be short-Uved. True, 
the throne was now vacant, and thus the first step had been 
taken towards a change of dynasty. But the laying of the 
mine had proved unskilful ; too much dynamite had been 
employed, and the charge by which they had intended to blast 
their way to power had produced an explosion so terrific as to 
involve the whole existing order of things in chaos. 

The effect of the loth of August was to paralyse France. 
" The terror that it spread," says Hua, " was almost universal. 
In a few places there was an attempt at resistance, but nowhere 
could it be organized. All action to be powerful must emanate 
from a centre ; the Revolution proved a thousand times that 
the fate of the departments is decided in Paris : those same 
authorities that had protested so energetically against the day 
of June the 20th were silent before that of August the loth." ^ 

Lafayette alone dared to raise his voice in remonstrance ; 
and as soon as the news of the events in Paris reached him on 
the frontier, he issued a proclamation to the army asking them, 
" as good citizens and brave soldiers, to rally around the Con- 
stitution that they had sworn to defend to the death." But 
although the troops immediately under his orders " showed by 
their cries of indignation that they shared the sentiments of 
their general," ^ and the district of Sedan where he was encamped, 
together with the department of the Ardennes, accorded him 
their vigorous support, Lafayette's efforts proved unavailing 
owing to the opposition of his fellow-generals — Liickner, hitherto 
loyal to the King, prudently went over to the stronger side, the 
Jacobins ; Dumouriez resumed his Orl^aniste intrigues ; Dillon, 
who at first had seconded the protests of Lafayette, grew panic- 
stricken and recanted. 

The power of the Jacobins carried all before it. The mayor of 
Sedan and the administrators of the Ardennes were arrested ; 
and on the 19th of August the Assembly, trembling beneath the 
dictates of the Commune, issued a writ against " Motier Lafayette, 
heretofore general of the army of the North, convicted of the 
crime of rebeUion against the law, of conspiracy against liberty, 
and of treachery to the nation." 

Then Lafayette, once the gaoler of his King, himself tasted 
the pleasures of captivity. Reduced to the same expedient as the 
unfortunate Louis XVL — flight to the frontier — he was arrested 
by the Austrians and imprisoiied in the fortress of Magdeburg, 
where he had leisure to reconsider his earUer dictum that " in- 
surrection is the most sacred of duties." 

The insurrection of August 10 appeared, at any rate to La- 
fayette, an immeasurable disaster ; it was not, however, the final 
* Mimoires de Hua, p. 164. * Ibid. p. 165. 


destruction of the Old Regime, but the destruction of new-found 
liberty he deplored. 

" i know well," he wrote to the Due de Rochefoucauld on the 
25th of August, " that they will have talked about plots at the 
Chateau, collusion with the enemy, foUies of all kinds committed 
by the Court ; I am not its confidant nor its apologist ; but the 
constitutional act is there, and it is not the King who has violated 
it ; the Chateau did not go to attack the Faubourgs, nor were the 
Marseillais summoned by him. The preparations that have been 
made during the last three weeks were denounced by the King. 
It was not he who had women and children massacred, who gave 
over to execution all those who were known for their attachment 
to the Constitution, who in one day destroyed the Hberty of the 
press, of the posts, judgement by jury ... in a word, everything 
that assures the Uberty of men and of nations." 

Lafayette had not overstated the case ; in the chaos that 
followed on the loth of August the cause of liberty perished 
utterly, and the people, ostensibly the victors of the day, lost 
everything they had gained by the Revolution. 

At first the rage for destruction that had held the mob under 
its sway during the attack on the Tuileries, and that continued 
throughout the weeks that followed, gave to the people some 
semblance of power. Whilst overthrowing the splendid statues 
of the kings in all the squares of Paris, the populace were able to 
imagine themselves indeed the " Sovereign people," but already 
their new masters were at work forging the chains that were to 
bind them in a servitude such as they had never known before. 

On the 17th of August, at the instigation of Robespierre, the 
" Tribunal Criminel," precursor to the Revolutionary Tribunal 
of the Terror, was inaugurated by the Commune. Five days 
later Dr. Moore records that " a new kind of lettres de cachet are 
being issued by the Commune of Paris in great profusion," and 
" what makes this more dreadful is . . . that a man when 
arrested and sent to prison does not know how long he may be 
confined before he has an opportunity of proving his innocence." 
More sinister still was the appearance on the Place du Carrousel 
of that new instrument, the guillotine — symbol of the new era 
that was to dawn on France. For although revolutionary 
factions and populace alike rejoiced at their supposed victory, 
the loth of August inaugurated the reign of neither Orleanistes, 
Girondins, nor " Sovereign people," but of one intrigue only, the 
intrigue that from the beginning of the Revolution had been slowly 
gaining force, and that in sweeping away king, nobles, and clergy 
was to destroy not only the throne itself, but all government, all 
religion, and estabUsh in their place — ^the reign of Anarchy. 




With the deposition of Louis XVI. and the rise to power of 
the Commune, the revolutionary movement entered on a new 
phase. The royal authority had been overthrown, but the 
"counter-revolutionaries" yet remained to be dealt with ; 
thus it is now less against the unhappy prisoners in the Temple 
than against the " gangrened portion of the nation " that the 
invectives of the revolutionary leaders are henceforth directed. 
What is the truth about this gangrene ? Did it exist ? In a 
sense, yes. But to understand how it came into being we 
must cast our eyes back over the history of the last twenty 

When Louis XV., looking around him at the end of his reign, 
said, " Things will last my time, but after me the deluge ! " he 
diagnosed with remarkable accuracy the disease that afflicted 
the State. France, as she existed at this date, could not last, 
because no state in which one class is oppressed can maintain its 
vigour. Under Louis XV. the peasants, if less wretched than 
is popularly supposed — for feudal benevolence did more than 
history tells us to counteract the oppression of the Old Regime — 
were, nevertheless, cyphers in the state ; their wishes did not count, 
their voice was not heard, their needs were not officially recognized, 
and thus, by constriction, they became like a mortifying hmb 
spreading germs of death throughout the body. 

Louis XVI., as we have seen, from the first moment of his 
accession, resolved to remedy this state of affairs, to loose the 
bonds that bound the people down, to give the constricted limb 
free play. It was not too late to do this, as certain writers would 
have us beheve ; the hmb responded admirably to the treatment ; 
never had the people of France displayed greater vigour than on 
the eve of the Revolution. The body of the State, as M. Dauban 
points out, was at this moment " anything but inert and 
passive. Everywhere thought, passion, and blood circulate. 
The almost unanimous wish of the cahiers testifies to the force of 
cohesion in opinion and the power of the pubhc mind. . . . 
Paris has no greater share in the spirit that animates it than 
Marseilles, Bordeaux, and the other parts of France. In the 

289 U 


three years that follow what enthusiasm, what ardour, what 
vitahty in the provinces ! " ^ 

But, at the very moment that the people were released from 
bondage, the Revolution intervened and reversed the process by 
seizing on two other Umbs of the State, the nobiUty and clergy, 
and binding them down relentlessly. It was not even as if the 
revolutionaries had said to the " privileged orders " : " You have 
enjoyed too long exclusively the good things of Ufe, now you shall 
share them with your fellow-men. Come, give up your chateaux 
and your rolling acres, and till the ground with the rest . ' ' Nothing 
of this kind was suggested, not the faintest gHmmer of SociaHst 
ideals seems to have illumined the minds of the earher revolu- 
tionary extremists ; their only idea was to subject the hitherto 
privileged orders to a far worse oppression than that from which 
the people had been deUvered. For if under the Old Regime 
the people had been neglected, ignored, crushed by taxation, 
under the revolutionary regime the nobles and clergy were 
actively ill-treated — ^insulted, spat upon, assaulted, robbed of 
all their goods, driven from the country, or massacred. The 
people had been left to struggle for existence ; the nobles and 
clergy were denied the very right to Hve. 

They were also, as a class, denied any virtues. No distinction 
was drawn between the Liberal nobles who had marched in the 
vanguard of reform and the reactionaries who mustered around 
the Comte d'Artois, between the courtiers who for purely selfish 
reasons clung to the Old Regime and the provincial seigneurs 
who devoted themselves to the welfare of the peasants on their 
estates.^ The generous enthusiasm with which, on the 4th of 
August, the nobles in a body had voluntarily rehnquished their 
privileges was rewarded by the revolutionary leaders only with 
insults and abuse. " All RoyaUsts," said Camille Desmoulins 
at the Jacobin Club, " live on the sweat of the people ; they have 
neither wits nor virtue but for intrigue and villainy." ^ 

Under these circumstances what wonder that the nobles 
became irreconcilable, and that many who had sympathized 
with the Revolution turned against the whole movement, reviled 
the Constitution, and used all their efforts to restore the Old 
Order in its entirety ? " Damn hberty, I abhor its very name ! " 
an indignant Frenchman exclaimed to Dr. Moore, and the senti- 
ment was doubtless echoed by thousands of his f ellow-countr57men 
who, embittered by persecution, now desired a return to pre- 
revolutionary conditions. Nor was this resentment confined 

* La Demagogie en 1793, by A. Dauban, p. ix. 

* I have shown elsewhere how numerous these philanthropic nobl 
were. See The Chevalier de Boufflers, p. 256 and following. 

5 Stances des Jacobins, date of June 17, 1792. 


only to the nobles and clergy, for since, as I have shown, the 
Revolution had resulted in the ruin and misery of great numbers 
of the bourgeois and the people, discontent prevailed in all classes. 
Thus, by a process precisely identical with that employed by 
Louis XV., but applied to a different portion of the nation, a 
fresh centre of mortification was set up, and the new order became 
as moribund as the old. Each revolutionary faction had worked 
only for momentary popularity, each demagogue in turn had 
proceeded on the principle, " Things will last my term of power, 
but after me the deluge," and, in order to prolong that spell of 
power, had striven not for the welfare of the nation as a whole, 
but to obtain the favour of one portion only — ^the mob of Paris. 


This, then, was the situation that, after the cataclysm of 
August 10, confronted the Commune, which now held the reins of 
power. On one side was a raging populace, intoxicated with the 
joy of new-found hberty to bum and to destroy, and, on the 
other, a great silent nation, amongst whom, as the protests 
following on the 20th of June had shown, a bitter hatred of the 
Revolution had arisen. For the silence that followed on the 
loth of August was not, as the leaders weU knew, the silence of 
assent but of momentary stupefaction, from which those of the 
nobles and clergy who remained in the country would make 
every effort to arouse the nation. 

It was this that, in the opinion of the Commune, made 
the third Revolution necessary — ^the influence of the anti- 
revolutionaries could never be counteracted, therefore the 
anti-revolutionaries themselves must be destroyed. 

Marat had all along understood this. Like Louis XV. he 
shrewdly diagnosed the disease from which the State was suffering. 
The other revolutionaries recognized the existence of the " gan- 
grene," but overlooked the fact that it was of their own maldng. 
Marat alone traced it to its real cause. '* If," he once said to 
CamiUe Desmoulins, " the faults of the Constituent Assembly 
had not created for us irreconcilable enemies in the old nobles, 
I persist in beUeving that this great movement might have 
advanced in the world by pacific methods ; but after the absurd 
edict which keeps these enemies by force amongst us (i.e. the 
decrees against emigration), after the clumsy blows struck at 
their pride by the aboUtion of titles, after violently extorting the 
goods of the clergy, I maintain there is now no way of rallying 
them to the Revolution ... we must give up the Revolution 
or do away with these men. What I propose to you is not a 
vain rigour supported by laws. I want an armed expedition 


against foreigners, who have voluntarily placed themselves out- 
side our government. We are in a state of war with intractable 
enemies ; we must destroy them." ^ 

In a word, the only remedy for the disease was amputation. 
Isnard, the Girondin, in one terrible phrase, had ten months 
earUer proposed the operation : " Let us cut off the gangrened 
part, so as to save the rest of the body \" ^ But it was never 
the way of the Girondins to carry their sanguinary theories into 
practice ; they only suggested, and then recoiled in horror when 
their words were interpreted by bolder men into action. Isnard, 
who had condensed in his proposal the whole system of the 
Terror, was later on to devote all his eloquence to denouncing 
that same system, when it had passed from the region of ideas 
into a frightful reaUty. The scheme of the philosopher Isnard 
was left to the surgeon Marat to execute. 

Jean Paul Marat, son of Jean Mara, a Spaniard, who had 
settled first in Sardinia, then in Switzerland, was bom at Boudry, 
near Neuchatel, and had spent many years in England, where he 
studied medicine, and practised for a time in Church Street, 
Soho. In 1777 Marat went to France, where he became brevet- 
surgeon to the Comte d'Artois' bodyguard, but the office appears 
to have proved unremunerative, for he was obliged to supplement 
his income by compounding quack medicines for a few confiding 
aristocratic patients.^ During his stay in London he had, 
however, already embarked on his revolutionary career by the 
pubUcation of a pamphlet entitled The Chains of Slavery, in 
which, posing as an EngHshman, he endeavoured to stir up the 
nation against the Government.* Britain failed entirely to 
respond to this appeal and the pamphlet was a complete failure, 
but on the outbreak of the Revolution in France Danton, 
realizing Marat's value as an agitator, took him into his employ- 
ment.^ Before long Marat's seditious writings attracted the 
attention of Lafayette, who marched a regiment against the 
wretched dwarf, and so terrified him that he was obUged to retire 
below ground into hiding. During the weeks that Marat spent 
in the cellars of Paris, he had leisure to evolve further political 
schemes, in which it would be impossible to discover any con- 
sistent plan of government > He certainly did not advocate a 
repubUc, but either a monarchy under Louis XVI. or the Due 
d'Orleans, or a dictatorship under a man of the people or himself. 

^ Histoire des Montagnards, by Esquiros, p. 206. 

2 Isnard to the Legislative Assembly, November 14, 1791. 

' Histoire secrete de la Revolution, by Fran9ois Pages (1797), ii. 19 
Montjoie, Conjuration de d'Orlians, ii. 154 ; Memoires de Monseigneur 
Salamon, p. 15. 

* Marat en Angleterre, by H. S, Ashbee. 

* Biographie Michaud, article on Danton by Beaulieu. 


The only continuous theme we can find running through all his 
writings is the aboUtion of aU class distinctions, for which purpose 
every resisting element in the community must be destroyed. 
The petty persecutions of the Orleanistes and the Girondins had 
only served to irritate the " privileged classes " ; attacks on 
property had ahenated the bourgeoisie, and nothing but whole- 
sale massacre could now reheve the situation. This idea became 
an obsession ; by the end of his sojourn in the cellars Marat 
undoubtedly was mad. " Marat," said his admirer Panis, 
" remained six weeks on one buttock in a dungeon " ; hence 
Panis regarded Marat as a prophet — a second St. Simeon StyUtes.^ 
It would be nearer the truth to describe him as a " fakir." The 
banks of the Ganges teem with prophets of this variety, victims 
of an idee fixe, who have spent long years in precisely this 
attitude, gazing at the tips of their noses or repeating the sacred 
incantation, " Ram Sit a Ram ! " Like the monotonous chant of 
the fakir, Marat's cry for " heads " was also a confession of faith, 
but it was none the less a symptom of insanity — the result of 
homicidal mania. The fact that at moments he could reason 
logically does not disprove this assertion ; lunatics are frequently 
sane to dulness on every point except their own particular 

In appearance Marat was not unHke the mahgnant dwarfs 
one encounters in the villages of his native Switzerland. Under 
five feet high, with a monstrous head, the broken nose of the 
degenerate, a skin of yellowed parchment, the aspect of " the 
Friend of the People " was more than hideous, it was super- 
natural. His portrait in the Camavalet Museum is not the 
portrait of a human being but of an " elemental," a materializa- 
tion of pure evil emanating from the realms of outer darkness. 
" Physically," says one who knew him, " Marat had a burning 
and haggard eye like a hyena ; Hke a hyena his glance was always 
anxious and in motion ; his movements were short, rapid, and 
jerky ; a continual mobiUty gave to his muscles and his features 
a convulsive contraction, which even affected his way of walking 
— ^he did not walk, he hopped. Such was the individual called 
Marat." ^ When to this outward appearance are added such 

^ Rivolutions de Paris, by Pnidhomme, xiii. 522. 

« Anecdotes, by Harmand de la Meuse, member of the Convention. 
On the subject of Marat's appearance contemporaries are curiously in 
accord ; he seems to have inspired the same horror in all beholders. Thus, 
for example, Garat describes him as " a man whose face, covered with a 
bronzed yellow, gave him the appearance of having come out of the bloody 
cavern of cannibals or from the red-hot soil of hell ; that by his convulsive, 
brusque, and jerky walk one recognized as an assassin who had escaped from 
the executioner but not from the furies, and who wished to annihilate the 
human race." Dr. Moore exactly corroborates Garat : " Marat is a little 


mental peculiarities as " furious exaltation, perpetual over- 
excitement, chronic insomnia, folie des grandeurs, the mania that 
one is the victim of persecution," ^ it is impossible to regard Marat 
as a responsible human being. *' People feared to speak before 
Marat," says his panegyrist Esquiros ; " at the slightest contra- 
diction he showed signs of fury, and if one persisted in one's 
opinion he flew into a rage and foamed at the mouth." 

But, apart from all other evidence, Marat's writings are clear 
enough proof of his insanity ; we have only to turn over the pages 
of L'Ami du Peuple or the Journal de la RepuUique Franfaise to 
realize that we are Hstening to the ravings of a mind in deUrium. 
For example : 

" Never go to the Assembly without having your pockets full 
of stones destined to throw at the rascals who have the impudence 
to preach maxims. . . ." ^ " Citizens, erect 800 gibbets in the 
gardens of the Tuileries, and hang there all the traitors to the 
country ... at the same time that you construct a vast pile 
in the middle of the basin of the fountain to roast the ministers 
and their agents." ^ " Citizens, let the fire of patriotism be 
rekindled in your bosoms and your triumph is assured ; rush to 
arms ; you know to-day which are the real victims that must be 
immolated for your salvation ; let your first blows fall on the 
infamous general (Lafayette) ; immolate the whole staff . . . 
immolate the corrupt members of the National Assembly . . . 
cut the thumbs off the hands of the former nobles who have 
conspired against you ; split the tongues of all the priests who 
have preached servitude. ..." * " It is not the retirement of 
the ministers, it is their heads we need. ..." etc. 

The number of heads demanded by Marat increased steadily 
as the Revolution proceeded ; in July of 1790 he asked only for 
600 ; five months later no less than 10,000 would suffice him ; 
later the figures grew to 20,000, to 40,000, until by the summer 
of 1792 he explained to Barbaroux that it would be a reaUy^ 
" humane expedient " to massacre 260,000 men in a day. " Un- 
doubtedly," adds Barbaroux, " he had a predilection for this 
number, for since then he has always asked for exactly 260,000 
heads ; only rarely he went to 300,000." ^ 

It would be unnecessary to enlarge on the theories of saj 

man of a cadaverous complexion, and a countenance exceedingly expressive 
of his disposition ; to a painter of massacres Marat's head would be in- 
valuable. Such heads are rare in this country (England), yet they are 
sometimes to be met with at the Old Bailey " {Journal of a Residence in\ 
France, i. 455). 

^ Taine, La RivoluHon, vii. 198. * L'Ami du Peuple, No. 258. 

3 Ibid. No. 198. * Ibid. No. 305. 

* MSmoires de Barbaroux, p. 57; confirmed by Marat himself atj 
Convention. See Moniteur for October 26, 1792. 


obviously disordered a mind, were it not for the immensely 
important part played by Marat during the last year of his hfe. 
As Laclos had been " the soul of the Orleaniste conspiracy," and 
therefore of the first Revolution ; as Madame Roland was '* the 
soul of the Gironde," and therefore of the second Revolution ; 
Marat was, as Bougeart truly says, " the soul of the Commune," 
and therefore of the third Revolution — of the Massacres of 
September and the Reign of Terror. For although Marat died 
before " the Great Terror " began, it was he who had inspired the 
system that produced it ; it was he who became the evil genius 
of Robespierre and of Danton, who stimulated the destructive 
fury of the Hebertistes, and let loose the horde of wild beasts 
that at the end of 1793 devastated the provinces of France. 


Directly after the loth of August Marat began to incite the 
populace to massacre the Royalists and Swiss, who had been 
imprisoned after the siege of the Chateau. '* What folly," he 
wrote, " to bring them to trial ! " And again he launched into 
the history of imaginary persecutions : 

" How much longer will you slumber, friends of the country, 
whilst your ruin is being planned with more fury than ever ? 
Shudder at the fate that awaits you ! Thirty-seven amongst 
you, in which number the ' Friend of the People ' (Marat him- 
self) had the honour to be included, were destined to be fried in 
boiling oil if the monsters of the Tuileries had been the victors, 
as certain valets of Antoinette have admitted, and 30,000 citizens 
would have been barbarously massacred. Let us hope for no 
other fate if we allow the victory to be taken from us. . . . Up, 
Frenchmen, you who wish to Uve freely ; up, up, and may the 
blood of traitors begin to flow. It is the only way to save the 
country ! " ^ 

But already Marat had reaHzed that the people were not to 
be depended on to carry out these schemes, and had consulted 
with Danton on the best method for '* clearing out the prisons." 
Two days after Danton was made Minister of Justice, that is to 
say on the 14th of August, Prudhomme relates, Marat said to 
Danton, '* F outre ! Would you like to have all the rascals who 
are in the prisons judicially punished ? " 

** Why ? " Danton asked him. 

" Because if you do not despatch them as in the Glacidre 
d'Avignon, those ruf&ans will succeed in butchering us all ; 
there is a heap of nobles we must get rid of as well as priests." 

Danton answered him, " I know quite well that a St. 

/ L'Ami du Peuple, No. 680, pp. 7 and 8, date of August 19, 1792. 


Barthelemy is necessary, but the means for carrying it out seem 
to be difficult." Marat replied, " Leave it to me ; on your account 
prepare the deputies with whom you are acquainted : we have 
hairy ruffians {bougres a poll) in Paris who will give us a hand.'* 

The next day they circulated the rumour of a great con- 
spiracy on the part of the prisoners to massacre the patriots. 
Camille DesmouUns was in the secret, as also Fabre d'^^glantine 
and Robert, all three secretaries of Danton.^ 

Danton was then deputed to confide the plan to Robespierre. 
But Robespierre, still at this period opposed to violent measures, 
demurred. " You must not trust absolutely to Marat," he said, 
" he is too hot-headed (c'est une mauvaise tete)." It was not the 
first time Robespierre had objected to the bloodthirsty schemes 
of Marat. Already a year earher he had reproached Marat with 
having destroyed the immense influence of his journal by " dip- 
ping his pen in the blood of the enemies of hberty, in talking of 
ropes and daggers." To these remonstrances Marat repUed by 
reiterating his demand for wholesale massacres. 

" Robespierre," wrote Marat in his account of the incident, 
" listened to me with consternation ; he grew pale and was silent 
for some time. This interview confirmed me in the opinion I 
had always entertained of him, namely, that he combined the 
enUghtened views of a wise senator with the integrity of a virtuous 
man and the zeal of a true patriot, but he lacked equally the 
views and the audacity of a statesman." ^ 

To Robespierre the massacre in the prisons proposed by 
Marat seemed then too audacious, yet it is impossible to concur 
with his panegyrists in absolving him from all comphcity. 
Robespierre knew of the projected crime, and never offered any 
serious opposition ; according to Prudhomme and ProussinaUe 
he was even present at two meetings of the leaders ; afterwards 
he justified all that had taken place ; Robespierre must therefore 
be regarded as an accomphce, if not actually an author, of the 

^ Crimes de la RSvolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 155. This conversation 
is entirely ignored by the historians who have attempted to prove that 
Marat was not the author of the massacres of September. But Prudhomme 
as the intime of the Montagnards could have had no possible object in 
inventing it, he merely, hke many other of their accompHces, ended by 
giving them away. Moreover, all Prudhomme's evidence on this period is 
exactly confirmed by other authorities. The dialogue is given in the same 
words by ProussinaUe {Histoire secrite du Tribunal rSvolutionnaire, p. 39, 
pubUshed in 18 15). 

2 Article by Marat, Buchez et Roux, xiv. 188. 

' This is admitted even by M. Louis Blanc, Revolutien, vii. 193 : " Be- 
tween Danton concurring in the massacres because he approves them, and 
Robespierre not preventing them although he deplores them, I do not 
hesitate to declare that the most culpable is Robespierre." 



The manner in which the massacres in the prisons were 
organized differed entirely from that employed in the former 
revolutionary outbreaks. In these, as we have seen, the plan 
had consisted in stirring up the people to rise en masse and fall 
upon the victims designated by the leaders. This plan had 
failed, and the Commune, led by Marat, reahzed the futiHty of 
depending on Balaam's ass as a mode of progression ; on the 
20th of June it had refused to go forward, on the loth of August 
it had gone mad and terrified its riders. The murder of cooks 
and common soldiers, the hideous scenes of cannibaUsm and 
drunken fury that had taken place at the Tuileries, though 
applauded by the revolutionary leaders, served no real purpose, 
and if repeated might become dangerous to the leaders them- 
selves. Marat, who had never trusted the people, voiced this 
fear later on when, in reply to the accusation of his enemies that 
he aspired to the supreme power, he declared that " if the whole 
nation at once were to place the crown on my head I should shake 
it off, for such is the levity, the frivoUty, the changeableness of 
the people that I should not be sure that, after crowning me in 
the morning, they would not hang me in the evening." ^ The 
people of Paris — ^those " pitiable revolutionaries " — ^must there- 
fore not be invited indiscriminately to co-operate, so on this 
occasion no army of pikes and rags was summoned from the 
Faubourgs, no mob leaders were called out, no conciliahules took 
place in the taverns of the Soleil d'Or or the Cadran Bleu. In a 
word, the old revolutionary machine was " scrapped " ; it had 
served its purpose, and must be superseded by a more effectual 

According to Prudhomme the secret councils that preceded 
the massacres of September took place at the " Comite de 
Surveillance " of the Commune,^ and were attended by Marat, 
Danton, Manuel, BiUaud - Varenne, Collot d'Herbois, Panis, 
Sergent, TaUien, and, on the aforesaid two occasions, MaximiUen 
Robespierre.^ Here the whole scheme was mapped out with 
diaboUcal ingenuity. First of all a number of fresh prisoners 
were to be incarcerated, principally wealthy people, for the 
massacres were to be not merely a method of extermination, but 
a highway robbery on a large scale. The Commune wanted 
money — for what purpose we shall see later — and the systematic 

^ Journal de la Republique, No. 221. 
* Crimes de la Revolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 156. 
» Ibid. ; Maton de la Varenne, Histoire particuliire, p. 285 ; Histoire 
secrite, by Proussinalle, pp. 40, 41. 


pillage it had inaugurated after the loth of August, when not 
only the Tuileries and other royal chateaux but the houses of 
many private people had been looted by their agents,^ had not 
yet brought in sufficient sums. 

But, besides the men whose death was to be effected merely 
as the means of acquiring their possessions, a number of victims 
were designated for other reasons by different members of the 
Commune, and over this question heated discussions arose. 
Robespierre at one of these meetings, fearing indiscriminate 
slaughter, had said, *' We must bring only the priests and nobles 
to justice." ^ But when Marat proposed to add certain members 
of the rival faction — Brissot and Roland ^ — to the hst, it seems 
that Robespierre's scruples vanished, and from after events it is 
evident that the hope of finally ridding himself of the hated 
Brissotins did more than anything else to reconcile Robespierre 
to the idea of the massacres. 

Panton, however, showed himself magnanimous. He, too, 
would gladly have seen Roland removed from his path, for the 
Minister of the Interior had an inconvenient habit of asking 
the Minister of Justice to tender his accounts to the Assembly,* 
and Danton had recently drawn the sum of 100,000 ^cus from the 
pubUc treasury for purposes he declined to reveal, contenting 
himself with the vague statement that he had given " 20,000 
francs to such an one, 10,000 to another, and so on," " for the 
sake of the Revolution," " on account of their patriotism," etc.^ 
Roland, who shrewdly suspected that it was his own patriotism 
Danton had seen fit to reward, persisted in his demands for the 
names of the persons to whom these sums had been -psdd, thereby 
profoundly irritating Danton. But whether he retained some 
sense of gratitude for Madame Roland's soup, of which he had 
recently partaken, or whether, through their common intrigue 
with the EngUsh Jacobins, he had some secret understanding 
with the Brissotins, Danton did not wish to have them murdered. 
So to the proposal that they should be included in the 
massacres he answered firmly, " You know that I do not 
hesitate at crime when it is necessary, but I disdain it when it 
is useless." ^ 

Not content with this remonstrance, Danton went to Robes- 
pierre and interceded for Brissot and Roland. Robespierre said 
coldly, " Are not these two individuals counter-revolutionaries ? " 

^ Granier de Cassagnac, Histoire des Girondins, ii. 9 ; Memoires de 
Mme. Roland, i. 112. 

2 Crimes de la RSvolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 156. 

^ Ibid. iv. 158 ; Proussinalle, p. 43 ; Mimoires de Hua, p. 167. 

* Crimes de la RSvolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 161. 

^ MSmoires de Mme. Roland, ii. 94. 

' Mimoires de Hua, p. 167. 


Danton answered, " That is not yet proved ; besides, we can 
always find a good moment to judge them." 

But Robespierre already had his plans for bringing them to 
justice, which he executed two days later. 

Danton then hurried to Marat at the Commune. 

** You are a blackguard," he said in the langUcLge habitual to 
them both, " you will spoil everything." 

Marat repUed, " I answer for success on my head ; if you 
were all ruffians {des bougres) like me there would be 10,000 
butchered." ^ 

The difficulty of achieving a massacre on a large scale became 
the subject of discussion at several meetings of the leaders. Even 
if only 2000 prisoners were incarcerated, how was so vast a number 
of human beings to be disposed of ? " Marat," says Prudhomme, 
" proposed to set fire to the prisons, but it was pointed out to him 
that the neighbouring houses would be endangered ; some one 
else advised flooding them. Billaud-Varenne proposed to kill 
the prisoners. . . . Another said, ' You propose to kill, but 
you will not find enough killers.' Billaud-Varenne repUed with 
warmth, 'They wUl be found.' TaUien, who refused to take 
part in the discussion, showed disgust, but had not the courage 
to oppose the project." ^ 

Billaud, who, according to most contemporaries, showed 
himself the most ferocious of all the men who organized the 
massacres, finally undertook to provide the necessary instru- 
ments, and in co-operation with Maillard — he who had led the 
women to Versailles on the 5th of October — succeeded in forming 
a band of assassins amongst the Marseillais and the revolutionary 
elements of Paris, but, contrary to his expectations, this con- 
tingent proved insufficient, and it was found necessary to swell 
its numbers by Uberating a quantity of thieves and murderers 
now in the prisons.^ Yet even to this criminal horde the leaders 
dared not avow their true intentions, and a lurid tale of con- 
spiracies was invented by way of inducement to them to carry 
out the dreadful work. They described to the assassins, says 
Maton de la Varenne, " Paris given over to the enemy by rascals 
whose leaders were in the prisons, where they were still conspiring ; 
gibbets planted in all the streets on which to hang the friends 
of the Revolution, their wives and children massacred beneath 
their eyes ; Capet insolently re-ascending the throne and carry- 
ing out the most horrible vengeances. Wine flowed in torrents 

* Crimes de la Rivoluiion, by Prudhomme, iv. 159. 

' Ibid. iv. 156 ; Histoire particuliere, etc., by Maton de la Varenne, 
p. 285. 

' Histoire secrdie du Tribunal revolutionnaire, by Proussinalle, p. 42. 
(Proussinalle is the pseudonym of P. J. A. Roussel.) 


throughout and after this infernal and slanderous harangue, and 
the hves of those whom they called the traitors were placed at 
thirty hvres independently of the spoils." ^ 

The same fabulous story of conspiracies, the same false alarms, 
were now spread abroad amongst the people in order to prepare 
their minds for the massacres and ensure their assent. For, 
though the people were not to be invited this time to co-operate, 
the whole movement was none the less to be attributed to them. 
In each prison a mock tribunal was to be set up at which judges 
provided by the Commune, and assassins hired by them, armed 
with Usts of proscription drawn up at the secret councils of the 
leaders, were to carry out so-called " justice " — ^and this was to 
be described by the high-sounding title, " The Tribunal of the 
Sovereign People." ^ The massacres were then to be represented 
£LS simply the result of "irrepressible popular effervescence," 
produced by sudden panic at the approach of Brunswick and 
the discovery of collusion between the invading armies and the 
" conspirators " in the prisons. For this purpose a phrase was 
invented, which was afterwards to be said to have passed from 
mouth to mouth amongst the terrified Parisians, namely, that 
before marching on the enemy they must put all these con- 
spirators to death. ^ 

The pretext was palpably absurd. Paris has never been wont 
to give way to panic in the face of danger from the outside, and 
it awaited the advancing legions of Brunswick with its habitual 

" Whilst the Prussians were in Champagne," says Mercier, 
" who would not have thought that profound alarm existed in 
all minds ? Not at all ; the theatres, the restaurants, both full, 
displayed only peaceful newsmongers. All the vainglorious 
threats of our enemies — we did not hear ; of all their murderous 
expectations we were far from having the least idea. The capital, 
whether by its size or by the feeling of its strength, always beUeved 
itself unassailable, sheltered from all reverses in battle, and cal- 
culated to overawe its enemies. The plans of defence, regarded 
as absolutely unnecessary, were laughed at, since no one would 
ever dare to attack the great city. This stoicism was one of the 

^ Histoire particulidre, etc., by Maton de la Varenne, p. 285. The rate 
of salary was fixed by Billaud-Varenne (see Histoire des Girondins, by 
Granier de Cassagnac, ii. 48, 49) . 

* Histoire secrdte du Tribunal revolutionnaire, by Proussinalle, p. 41. 

' " The Comite de Surveillance had undertaken to prepare the minds 
(of the people) for this frightful idea (the massacres of September) ; it 
circulated everywhere this word of command that it counted on exploiting 
later : ' Before flying to the frontiers we must make sure of leaving behind 
us no traitors, no conspirators ' " {Histoire de la Terreur, by Mortimer 
Ternaux, iii. 194 ; cf. Journal du Club des Jacobins, No. CCLV.). 


greatest ramparts of liberty . . . never were the people seriously 
intimidated, either by the banquets of the bodyguard, at which 
Antoinette was described under the name of tigress of Germany, 
holding the Dauphin in her arms and inciting the most blood- 
thirsty hostihties, or by the flight of the King, which seemed to 
dissolve all government, or by the taking of Verdun, or by the 
Manifestos of all the Kings of Europe. It was impossible to make 
them feel terror of the enemy. . . ." ^ 

And these were the people who were to be represented as so 
craven-hearted that, in a fit of bUnd panic, they fell upon their 
fellow-countrymen and put them indiscriminately to death ! 

As to the fear of a " conspiracy " in the prisons, no such idea 
ever entered into the heads of the Parisians. How could people, 
shut up behind bolts and bars, cut off from all communication 
with the outside world, conspire ? How could the priests, 
against whom the movement was principally directed, form an 
effectual reinforcement to the trained legions of Brunswick ? 
How could unarmed men, women, and children take part in a 
massacre ? The idea was preposterous, and originated in the 
minds not of the people but of the members of the Commune, 
who circulated it through Paris by means of agents placed in 
the crowd for the purpose. That a certain number of citizens 
beheved it is undeniable, but to attribute to the intelligent 
Parisifins the authorship of such a fable, or the cowardice of acting 
on it by falling on the prisoners, is a gross and hideous calumny 
which should be finally refuted. 


On the 29th of August the incarceration of wealthy prisoners 
began. At one o'clock in the night commissioners from the 
Commune were sent all over the city to carry out the inquisition 
known as " domiciHary visits," which consisted in arresting aU 
citizens the Commune chose to regard as " suspect." 

Peltier has vividly described the horror of this beautiful 

* Mercier, Le Nouveau Paris, i. 154. The English doctor, John 
Moore, noticed exactly the same thing. On the 19th of August, after 
driving through the Champs ]£lys6es, he writes : " All those extensive 
fields were crowded with company of one sort or another ; an immense 
number of small booths was erected, where refreshments were sold, 
and which resounded with music and singing. Pantomimes and puppet- 
shows of various kinds are here exhibited, and in some parts they were 
dancing in the open fields. ' Are these people as happy as they seem ? ' 
said I to a Frenchman who was with me. ' lis sont heureux comme 
des dieux. Monsieur,' replied he. ' Do you think the Duke of Brunswick 
never enters their thoughts ? ' said I. ' Soyez sur. Monsieur,' resumed 
he, ' que Brunswick est pr^cisement I'homme du monde auquel ils 
penstent le moins ' " {Journal of a Residence in France, i. 122). 


summer night, whilst the silence of death reigned over the once 
briUiant city. " All the shops are shut ; every one withdraws 
into his home and trembles for his Ufe and property. . . . Every- 
where people and possessions are being hidden, everywhere is 
heard the intermittent sound of the padded hammer striking 
slow muffled blows to complete a hiding-place. Roofs, attics, 
sewers, chimneys — aU are the same to fear that takes no risks into 
calculation. This man withdrawn behind the paneUing that 
has been nailed over him seems to be part of the wall, and is 
almost deprived of breath and life ; that one stretched along 
a strong wide beam in a closet covers himself with aU the dust 
the place contains . . . another suffocates with fear and heat 
between two mattresses, another rolled up in a barrel loses all 
sensation of Ufe by the tension of his nerves. Fear is greater 
than pain ; they tremble but they do not weep, their hearts are 
withered up, their eyes are dull, their breasts contracted. Women 
surpassed themselves on this occasion ; it was intrepid women 
who hid the greater number of the men." ^ 

During the three nights of August 29 to 31 that the domi- 
ciliary visits lasted an enormous number of people were arrested 
— according to some accounts 3000, according to others 8000. 
A certain proportion were released, the rest were collected at 
the Hotel de ViUe to await incarceration in the different prisons. 

Pillage on a large scale took place during these visits, and, 
in order to make sure of sufficient booty, the priests — ^whose 
houses no doubt offered small opportunity for looting — ^were told 
that they would shortly be sent on a long journey, and must, 
therefore, provide themselves with money ; they were advised, 
in fact, to carry all their valuables on their persons.^ By this 
means the victims of the massacres were found in possession of 
all the gold watches, snuff-boxes, money and jewels that after- 
wards found their way into the hands of the Commune.^ 

The greater number of priests thus arrested were accused of 
no crime but that of refusing to violate their consciences by taking 
the oath of fideUty to the civil constitution of the clergy. Some, 
however, seem to have been the objects of private vengeances 
on the part of members of the Commune. Amongst these was a 
certain Abbe Sicard, who had devoted his Hfe to the teaching of 
deaf-mutes.* On the 26th of August the Abbe was accordingly 

* RSvolution du 10 Aoilt, ii. 219. 

2 Histoire particuliire, by Maton de la Varenne, p. 287 ; Histoire 
secrete du Tribunal rivolutionnaire, by Proussinalle, i. 45 ; MSmoires de 
Monseigneur de Salamon, p. 33 ; Ricit de VAbhS Berthelet, quoted by 
M. de Granier de Cassagnac, Histoire des Girondins, ii. 285. 

^ La Demagogie d Paris, by C. A. Dauban, p. 64. 

* " Proems verbaux de la Commune," in Mdmoires sur les JournSes 
de Septembre, p. 272, note. 


arrested. A few days later a deputation of his pupils presented 
themselves at the Assembly with a touching petition for his 
release ; the Assembly harshly rephed that no exception could 
be made in favour of the Abbe, and the deaf-mutes were sent 
away with the empty consolation that " they had been accorded 
the honours of the sitting." ^ 

The members of the Commune, however, were well able to 
make exceptions in the case of people in whom they were in- 
terested ; thus Danton secured the release of a friend of his who 
was a thief, Camille Desmoulins that of a priest to whom he 
was attached, and Fabre d'figlantine that of his cook, whom he 
had had arrested for stealing from him.^ At the same time 
money played its part, and many aristocrats obtained their 
liberty by means of largesse judiciously distributed amongst the 


All was now ready ; it only remained to give a popular air to 
the movement by starting the proposed panic on the subject of 
the " conspiracy in the prisons." 

On the 1st of September a wretched wagoner named Jean 
JuUien, who had been condemned to ten years' hard labour, was, 
according to the barbarous custom still preserved under the 
Reign of Liberty, publicly exhibited on a pillory in the Place de 
Greve. Thus exposed to the jeers of the mob the man grew 
frantic, and broke out into furious cries of " Vive le Roi ! Vive 
la Reine ! Down with the nation ! " By the order of the Com- 
mune he was thereupon removed to the Conciergerie to await 
further trial, and the people were then informed that during his 
detention he had confessed his compHcity in an immense Royalist 
plot which had ramifications in all the prisons.^ As a matter of 
fact JuUien stated nothing of the kind, as the register of the 
Criminal Tribunal afterwards revealed,* but he was condemned 
to death as a conspirator, and guillotined on the Place du 

" It is not possible," wrote Dr. Moore indignantly, " that the 
Court could have believed that this wagoner intended to excite 
any sedition ; what he said was a mere rash retort on the mob, 
who insulted him in his misery. If their cry had been ' Vive le 
Roi et la Reine ! ' his would have been * Vive la nation ! ' 

1 Moniteur, xiii. 587. 

* Le veritable Ami du Pettple, by Roch Marcandier (secretary of Camille 
Desmoulins) ; Histoire secrete du Tribunal revolutionnaire, by Proussinalle, 
P- 43. 

* Mortimer Temaux, ill. 200. 

* fbid. iii. 472. 


It is plain, therefore, that he was condemned to die to please the 
people." ^ 

Dr. Moore, unacquainted with the undercurrent of events, 
misinterpreted the incident ; the unfortunate Jean JuUien was 
sacrificed not to please the people, but to whet their appetite 
for blood in preparation for the events of the morrow, and also 
to give colour to the story of the conspiracy in the prisons. 

The same day pamphlets were distributed announcing — 
"Great treachery of Louis Capet. Plot discovered for assassin- 
ating all good citizens during the night of the 2nd and 3rd of 
this month." 2 

Meanwhile the lying rumour of the fall of Verdun was pur- 
posely circulated throughout Paris, and " nothing," remarks 
Madame Roland, " was forgotten that could inflame the imagina- 
tion, magnify facts, and make the dangers seem greater." ^ 

But it was not until twelve o'clock on the following day — 
Sunday, the 2nd of September — ^that the imminent arrival of 
the Prussians was officially proclaimed. " The enemy is at the 
gates of Paris ; Verdun, which arrests his march, can only hold 
out for a week. . . . Citizens, this very day, immediately, let all 
friends of Uberty rally around its banner, let an army of 60,000 
men be found without delay, let us march on the enemy. . . ."* 

At the same time the tocsin rang, cannons were fired, the 
generale was sounded, and from all sides citizens flew to arms. 
Dr. Moore, coming out of church, " found people hurrying up and 
down with anxious faces ; groups . . . formed at every comer : 
one told that a courier had arrived with very bad news ; another 
asserted that Verdun had been betrayed like Longwy, and that 
the enemy were advancing ; others shook their heads and said 
it was the traitors within Paris and not the declared enemies on 
the frontiers that were to be feared." ^ 

But it was not amongst the people this last alarm arose ; the 
panic-mongers were emissaries of the Commune sent out to cir- 
culate the parrot phrase composed by the leaders.^ " Directly 
after the proclamation had been issued," says Beaulieu, " the 
men who have the orders to begin the massacres cry out that, whilst 
the friends of Uberty are grappHng with the soldiers of despots, 
their wives and children will be at the mercy of the aristocrats, 
and that before starting they must exterminate these scoundrels 
more eager for the blood of the patriots than the Prussians and 
Austrians themselves." "^ 

* Journal of a Residence in France, i. 294. 
2 Madelin, p. 255. ' Memoires de Mme. Roland, i. 100. 

* Proces verbaux de la Commune, Seance du 2 Septembre 1792. 

* Journal of a Residence in France, i. 300. 

* Fantin Desodoards, ii. 240. ' Beaulieu, iv. 96. 


A great number of citizens listened with astonishment to 
these suggestions, asking themselves " why at the least danger 
people should find pleasure in throwing Paris into a state of 
alarm, in striking all its inhabitants with terror, instead of 
maintaining in their hearts that mascuMne energy which befits 
warriors and ensures victory in battle. Was this not, indeed, an 
effectual method for undermining their courage ? But those 
who did not know the secrets of the conspirators were soon 
enUghtened by their own experience." ^ 

Meanwhile at the Assembly Danton was delivering his 
famous speech. " It is very gratifying, Messieurs, for the Minister 
of Justice of a free people to have the task of announcing to it 
that the country will be saved. . . . You know that Verdun is 
not yet in the power of our enemies. One part of the people will 
march to the frontiers ; another will dig trenches, and the third 
will defend the interior of our towns with pikes. . . . The tocsin, 
which is about to sound, is not a signal of alarm, it is the charge 
against the enemies of the country. In order to overcome them. 
Messieurs, we need audacity, more audacity, always audacity, and 
France is saved ! " 

These words, which have sounded down the years as the 
trumpet-call of patriotism, must be studied in their context in 
order to understand their true significance. Posterity that at a 
moment of national danger sighs, " Oh for a Danton ! " takes 
it for granted that the audacity to which the great demagogue 
referred was to be displayed towards the advanciag Austrians 
and Prussians. In this case, why employ the word audacity ? In 
referring to soldiers marching against their country's enemies, we 
may speak of them as bold or courageous, we may describe them 
as " daring " for undertaking some novel or hazardous method 
of attack, but we do not call them "audacious." Audacity 
does not merely signify bravery, it impHes a certain degree of 
effrontery, of insolent contempt for public opinion, the mental 
resolution to bring off a coup and brazen out the consequences. 
It was precisely in this sense that it was appUed by Danton, for 
the tocsin to which he referred was not a summons to Frenchmen 
to march against Prussians, but the call to Frenchmen to fall 
upon Frenchmen ; it was a signal for the massacres of September.^ 

Danton, having uttered his famous apostrophe, returned 
home, and said to his colleagues who awaited him, " F outre ! I 
electrified them ! Now we can go forward ! " which, says 
ProussinaUe, meant " we can begin the massacres." " It was then 

^ Mercier, Le Nouveau Paris, i. 98 ; Histoire des Hommes de Proie, by 
Roch Marcandier. 

8 " Every one knows to-day that the cannon of alarm was on that day 
of blood to be the signal of the massacre " (" Relation de I'Abb^ Sicard," 
Memoires sur les Journees de Septemhre, p. 100). 




twelve o'clock. The men of blood who were waiting this signal 
went out hurriedly from the ministers ; soon the tocsin and the 
cannon of alarm were heard, the assassins started for the prisons, 
and the massacres began." ^ 

A certain lawyer named Grandpr6, relates Madame Roland, 
was employed by Roland at this time to visit the prisons, and, 
finding that great alarm prevailed there concerning the rumour 
of a projected massacre, waylaid Danton the same morning 
as he came out of a meeting of council at the Ministry of the 
Interior, and begged him to ensure the safety of the prisoners. 
*' He was interrupted by an exclamation from Danton, shouting 
in his bull's voice, with his eyes starting out of his head, and 
with a furious gesture : * What do I care about the prisoners ! 
Let them take care of themselves ! ' (Je me f. . . ^ hien des ; 
prisonniers ! qu'ils deviennent ce qu'ils pourront /) " ^ 

Grandpr6 was not the only man to approach Danton on tl 
fatal morning. Prudhomme the joumaUst, seated in his ofiiceJ 
hearing the sound of the tocsin and the cannon, hurried to thel 
Ministry of Justice, where he found Danton, and said to himJ 
" What means this cannon of alarm, this tocsin, and the rumourj 
of the arrival of the Prussians in Paris ? " 

" Keep calm, old friend of Uberty," answered Danton, "it^ 
is the tocsin of victory." 

"But," persisted Prudhomme, "theyspeak of massacring- 

" Yes," said Danton, " we were all to have been massacred] 
to-night, beginning with the purest patriots. These rascals ofi 
aristocrats who are in the prisons had procured firearms an( 
daggers. At a certain hour indicated to-night the doors were to be' 
opened to them. They would have scattered into all the different] 
quarters to butcher the wives and children of patriots who marchj 
against the Prussians." Prudhomme, bewildered by this mon- 
strous fable, inquired what means had been taken to prevent] 
the execution of the plot. " What means ? " cried Danton ; " thej 
irritated people, who were told in time, mean to administer justice] 
themselves to all the scoundrels who are in the prisons." 

At this Prudhomme declares he was stupefied with horror; 
we may question whether he ventured, however, to remonstrate 
at the time with quite the courage he afterwards attributed to 
himself. When, a moment later, Camille Desmoulins entered,! 
Prudhomme goes on to relate, Danton turned to him with the] 
words, " Prudhomme has come to ask what is going to be done."! 

" Yes," said Prudhomme, " my heart is rent by what I have] 
just heard." 

* Histoire secrdte du Tribunal rSvolutionnaire, by Proussinalle, i. 48 
Crimes de la RSvolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 141. 
' Memoires de Mme. Roland, i. 31. 


" Then you have not told him," Camille said, turning to 
Danton, " that the innocent will not be confounded with the 
guilty ? " Prudhomme continued to remonstrate, but Danton 
answered firmly, " Every kind of moderate measure is useless ; 
the anger of the people is at its height, it would be actually 
dangerous to arrest it. When their first anger is assuaged we 
shall be able to make them hsten to reason." 

" But if," Prudhomme suggested, *' the legislative body and 
the constituted authorities were to go all over Paris and harangue 
the people ? " 

*' No, no," answered Camille, " that would be too dangerous, 
for the people in their first anger might find victims in the 
persons of their dearest friends." ^ 

Prudhomme went out sadly, and on his way through the 
dining-room perceived a pleasant dinner-party in progress — 
Madame Desmoulins, Madame Danton, and Fabre d'figlantine 
were amongst the guests.^ Word being brought at this moment 
to Danton that " all was going well," the Minister of Justice 
complacently took his seat at the table.' 

So at the very moment that the assassins started forth on 
their terrible work, the authors of the crime sat down to feast. 


Punctually at twelve o'clock a troop of Marseillais and 
Avignonnais confederates — amongst whom were a number of 

* Crimes de la Rivolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 91. Prudhomme, now 
convinced by the reasoning of Danton that the massacres were really 
a case of irrepressible popular fury at the discovery of a gigantic plot 
against the lives of the citizens, published a justification of the move- 
ment in his Rivolutions de Paris, No. 165. It was not till much later 
that he realized he had been duped. "When in the Rivolutions de 
Paris" he wrote afterwards, " we described this day (the 2nd of September) 
as ' The Justice of the People,' we were not only authorized by the ideas 
we then entertained but also by the criminal silence of the legislative body 
and of the ministers. It is, above all, the crafty and atrocious behaviour of 
the Commune of Paris which caused us to commit many involuntary 
errors " {Crimes de la Rivolution, iv. 87). Revolutionary historians freely 
quote the former work, but are of course perfectly silent about the latter. 

* Ibid.] also Histoire secrite du Tribunal rivolutionnaire, by Proussinalle, 
i. 48. _ ' Ibid. 

* Authorities consulted on the first massacre at the Abbaye : Mimoires 
de I'Abbi Sicard ; La Veriti ioute entiire sur les vrais Acteurs de la Journie du 
2 Septembre 1792, by Felh6m6si. Felh6m6si is an anagram of M6h6e fils. 
The author of this pamphlet, a bystander, not a prisoner, was the son of the 
recorder M6h6e and a friend of Danton and Desmoulins ; his object, there- 
fore, is not to tell the truth on the real authors of the massacres, for he 
attributes all the blame to Billaud-Varenne, but as an eye-witness his 
account of events is valuable. 



men who had taken part in the Glaci^re d' Avignon ^ — arrived, 
obedient to orders and singing the " Marseillaise," at the Hotel 
de Ville, to transfer the first batch of prisoners to the Abbaye. 
Twenty-four priests, among which, in spite of the appeal of the 
deaf-mutes, the Abbe Sicard was included, were thrust into 
several cabs, and the drivers received the order to proceed slowly 
through the streets under pain of being massacred on their seats 
if they disobeyed. The confederates, who formed the escort, 
loudly informed the prisoners that they would never reach the! 
Abbaye, as " the people " to whom they were to be delivered 
intended to massacre them on the way. In order to faciUtatei 
this operation the doors of the cabs were left open, and all] 
efforts on the part of the priests to close them were overcome byj 
the soldiers, who, pointing at the prisoners with their sabres, cried | 
out to the disorderly crowd following in the wake of the pro-: 
cession, '' These are your enemies, the accompUces of those] 
who delivered up Verdun, those who only awaited your departure 
to murder your wives and children. Here are our pikes and 
sabres ; put these monsters to death ! " 

But if the leaders had hoped to give a popular air to the 
proceedings by inducing the mob to begin the massacres, they 
were disappointed, for the people around the cabs contented 
emselves with shouting insults, and the Marseillais were obliged 
to make use of their weapons themselves. After cutting at the 
defenceless priests with their sabres, one of the soldiers finally 
mounted on the steps of a carriage and plunged his sabre into 
the heart of the first victim. ^ His comrades quickly followed 
his example, thrusting at the prisoners through the open door- 
ways, but the blows being ill-directed only a few were mortally 
wounded, and it was not until the procession stopped at the doors 
of the Abbaye, where MaiUard and his hired assassins were 
waiting, that the massacres began in earnest. Out of the twenty- 
four prisoners, twenty-one perished ; two, including the Abb^. 
Sicard, succeeded in escaping to the neighbouring " Committee j 
of the Section," and, throwing themselves into the arms of thej 
commissioners there assembled, cried out, " Save us ! Save 
us ! " Several of these men, terrified for their own lives, roughly] 
repulsed the unhappy priests, answering, " Go away ! woul( 
you have us massacred ? " but one, recognizing the Abbe Sicard,j 
led them into the inner haU, and closed the door on the mob. 
Here they might have remained in safety had not a " fury " m\ 
the crowd, who happened to be an accompUce of the Abb6j 
Sicard's enemies, rushed to inform them of his escape. The next' 

^ Crimes de la Revolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 96. 
' Mortimer Ternaux, iii. 225. 


moment heavy blows sounded on the doors and voices called 
aloud for the two prisoners. 

The Abb6 Sicard felt that his last hour had come. Handing 
his watch to one of the commissioners he said, " Give this to 
the first deaf-mute who asks for news of me." 

The blows on the door redoubled. The Abbe Sicard fell on 
his knees, offered his last prayer, then, rising, embraced his 
comrade and said, " Let us hold each other close and die 
together ; the door is about to open, the murderers are there, we 
have not five minutes to five." 

The next moment the assassins burst into the room and 
rushed upon the prisoners. The Abbe Sicard's companion fell 
dead at his side ; Sicard himself saw a pike levelled at his breast, 
when suddenly one of the commissioners of the section, a clock- 
maker named Monnot, thrust his way through the crowd, and, 
throwing himself between the assassins and their victim, bared 
his breast to their blows, crying out, " Here is the breast through 
which you must pass to reach that one. He is the Abbe Sicard, 
one of the men who have rendered the greatest service to his 
country, the father of the deaf-mutes. You must cross my 
body to get to him ! " 

At these words the murderous pike was lowered, and for a 
moment it seemed that the brave clockmaker had succeeded in 
disarming the assassins. But outside the hall the rest of the 
ferocious band waited, howling hke wolves for their prey. Then 
the good Abbe, showing himself at the window, obtained a 
moment of silence, and spoke in these words to the raving herd : 

" My friends, here is an innocent man, would you have him 
die without giving him a hearing ? " 

Voices answered, " You were with the others we have just 
killed. You are guilty as they were ! " 

" Listen to me a moment, and if after hearing me you decree 
my death I shaU not complain. My Hf e is in your hands. Learn, 
then, what I do, who I am, and then you will decide my fate. 
I am the Abbe Sicard." 

A murmur went round, "He is the Abb^ Sicard, the father 
of the deaf-mutes, we must hsten to him." 

The Abbe continued : "I teach the deaf-mutes from their 
birth, and, as the number of these unfortunate ones is greater 
amongst the poor than amongst the rich, I belong more to you 
than to the rich." Then a voice cried, " The Abbe Sicard must 
be saved. He is too valuable a man to perish. His whole Mfe 
is employed in doing a great work ; no, he has not time to be a 

Immediately a chorus took up the last words, adding, " We 
must save him I We must save him I " 


Whereupon the assassins, standing behind the Abb6 at the 
window, seized him in their arms, and led him out through the 
ranks of their blood-stained comrades, who fell on his neck, 
embraced him, and begged to be allowed to lead him home in 

Nothing is stranger in aU the strange history of the Revolution 
than the evidence of latent ideahsm that seems to have lingered 
in many ferocious hearts : how did it come to pass that, amongst 
this fearful horde, men could be found to applaud a noble hfe 
and perceive its value to the world, whilst themselves employed 
only in crime and destruction ? 

But, although the Abb6 Sicard had succeeded in disarming 
his terrible assassins by a direct appeal to their better feeHngs, 
he was quite unable to touch the hearts of the men who had 
ordained the crime, for, having refused to leave the prison 
until legally released by the Commune, he waited in vain for this 
order to arrive ; two days later we find him still writing plaintive 
appeals to the Assembly to rescue him from the place of horror 
in which he is confined, and where he is perpetually threatened 
with a hideous death. The Assembly contented itself with pass- 
ing on the letter to the Commune. But since it was there 
death had been decreed, the unfortunate Abb6 was left to 
fate, and it was not until seven o'clock in the evening of the' 
4th of September, by the intercession of the deputy Pastoret 
with Herault de Sechelles, that the Abb6 Sicaxd obtained. his 

At five o'clock in the evening of the 2nd, when the carnage] 
was temporarily suspended, Billaud - Varenne arrived in 
puce-coloured coat and black wig, wearing his municipal 
as delegate of the Commune.^ Stepping over the bodies of the 
dead priests, he thus addressed the assassins : *' Respectabl 
citizens, you have killed scoundrels ; you have done your dut] 
and you will each have twenty-four Hvres." ^ 

This discourse aroused afresh the fury of the assassins, anc 
they began to call aloud for further victims. Then Maillan 
known as Tape-Dur, answered loudly, " There is nothing moi 
to be done here ; let us go to the Cannes ! " * 

1 •• Relation de I'Abbe Sicard," also " Procds verbaux de la Commiii 
de Paris," in Memoires sur les JournSes de Septembre, p. 272 

2 Felhem^si; Beaulieu, iv. 119. 
' Les Crimes de Marat, by Maton de la Varenne. 
• Felhem6si. 



At the Couvent des Cannes, in the Rue de Vaugirard, between 
150 and 200 priests had been incarcerated after the loth of 
August. For a time they had believed themselves to be 
threatened merely with deportation, but during the two days 
preceding the massacres a number of sinister indications showed 
them that they had only a Uttle while to Uve. The patriarch of this 
band, the venerable Archbishop of Aries, who, in spite of his age 
and infirmities, insisted on sharing every hardship and privation 
with his companions, succeeded in inspiring them all with his 
own heroic spirit, and it was thus that in perfect calm and 
resignation they awaited their end. When on this terrible 
Sunday afternoon, the 2nd of September, Joachim Ceyrat, the 
principal organizer of this massacre, whose inveterate hatred of 
rehgion filled him with unrelenting fury towards its ministers, 
ordered them all to leave the church which served as their prison 
and assemble in the garden, they well knew that their last 
moment had come. Yet it was still with imdisturbed serenity 
that for half-an-hour they paced the shady alleys, whilst the 
terrible band of Maillard came steadily nearer. 

Then suddenly, at the entrance to the convent, cries of rage 
were heard ; through the bars was seen the flash of sabres, and 
at this the priests, retreating into a small oratory at the far end of 
the garden, fell on their knees and gave each other the last blessing. 

The Abb6 de Pannonie, standing in the doorway of this 
chapel with the Archbishop of Aries, said, " Monseigneur, I think 
they have come to assassinate us." 

*' Then," said the Archbishop, " this is the moment of our 
sacrifice ; let us resign ourselves and thank God we can offer 
Him our blood in so splendid a cause." And with these words 
he entered the oratory, and knelt in prayer before the altar. 

Even as he spoke the garden gates were broken down, and 
a drunken band of assassins, armed with pistols and sabres, threw 
themselves with savage howls upon their victims. The first to 
perish was P^re Gerault, who, absorbed in his breviary, walked 
up and down beside the fountain in the middle of the garden ; 
the second was the Abbe Salins, who had hurried to the side of 
his fallen comrade. 

Meanwhile another group of murderers made their way 

* Authorities consulted on the massacre at the Cannes : Le Couvent des 
Carmes. by Alexandre Sorel ; Histoire du ClergS, by the Abb6 Barruel 
(1794) ; La Revolution du lo AoUt, vol. ii., by Peltier ; also Granier de 
Cassagnac and Mortimer Ternaux, op. cit.; article on " Les Carmes" in 
Paris^ rivolutionnaire, by G. Lenotre. 


towards the oratory, calling out furiously, " Where is the 
Archbishop of Aries ? Where is the Archbishop of Aries ? " 

The Archbishop, hearing his name, rose from his knees and 
came towards the doorway. In vain his companions attempted 
to hold him back. " Let me pass/' he said ; " may my blood 
appease them ! " 

Then, standing on the steps of the chapel, he fearlessly con- 
fronted his assassins. 

" It is you, old scoundrel, who are the Archbishop of Aries ? " 
cried the leader of the band. 

" Yes, messieurs, it is I." 

" It was you who had the blood of patriots shed at Aries ? " 

** Messieurs, I have never had the blood of any one shed ; 
nor have I ever injured any one in my life." 

" Well, then, I will injure you ! " answered the murderer, 
striking the Archbishop across the forehead with a sabre. A 
second assassin dealt him a fearful blow with a scimitar, cleaving 
his face almost in two. 

The heroic old man uttered never a murmur, but, still erect 
on the steps of the chapel, raised his hands to the streaming 
wound, then, at a third blow, fell forward at the feet of his 
murderers, and a pike was thrust through his heart. 

At this sight a savage howl of triumph rose from all the 
assassins, and, levelling their pistols at the kneeling priests inside 
the chapel, they began a murderous fusillade ; in a few moments 
the floor was strewn with the dead and dying. 

Amongst the priests who had not taken refuge in the oratory 
were a certain number of young men less resigned than their 
superiors, and these, seeing the massacre in progress, attempted 
to elude their murderers. 

Then in the old garden a terrible man-hunt began ; around 
the trunks of trees, in and out amongst the bushes, the raging 
horde pursued their victims, uttering foul blasphemies against 
religion and singing the bloodthirsty refrain : 

Dansons la Carmagnole, 
Vive le son 1 vive le son 1 
Dansons la Carmagnole, 
Vive le son du canon I 

A few of the young priests, with extraordinary agiHty, succeeded 
in scaling the ten-foot waU of the garden into the neighbouring^ 
Rue Cassette, helping themselves upward by means of the stom 
figure of a monk that stood close against it ; but some of these,] 
after reaching safety, were stricken with remorse lest theii 
escape should make the fate of those they had left behind more 
terrible, and with sublime courage they climbed back again into 
the garden and met their death. 


Suddenly in the midst of the butchery a voice cried, " Halt ! 
This is not the way to go to work ! " 

It was Maillard who, interposing between the assassins and their 
victims, ordered those of the priests who still survived to be driven 
into the church, whilst a tribuned was set up for their judgement. 

At the Cannes this so-called "Tribunal of the Sovereign 
People " was even more a mockery than at the other f<risons, 
for here none of the populace were even admitted to watch the 
massacre ; ^ indeed, the " ladies of the quarter," that is to say, 
the poor women from the surrounding streets, who had collected 
outside the gate where they could catch a glimpse of the scene 
taking place in the garden, loudly protested against the shooting 
of the priests,^ and it seems to have been mainly for this reason 
that it was decided to finish the massacre in a more orderly 
manner out of view of the street, whilst at the same time a 
cordon of Gendarmes Nationaux, stationed at the gates, pre- 
vented the people from breaking in and interfering with the 
assassins.^ A table was then arranged in a gloomy cloister of 
the convent, and here either Maillard or a commissioner named 
Violette * seated himself with the Ust of the prisoners, drawn up 
by Joachim Ceyrat, spread out before him. Needless to say, no 
trial of any kind took place, for Ceyrat that morning had pro- 
nounced the verdict, " All who are in the Cannes are guilty ! " * 
A few managed to find hiding-places and survived the massacre ; 
a few others succeeded in melting the hearts of the assassins ; 
the rest, summoned two by two from the church to appear before 
the tribunal, rose from their knees blessing God for the privilege 
of shedding their blood in His cause, and clasping the Scriptures 
in their hands, with eyes raised to Heaven, went out into the 
corridor to meet their death. In less than two hours one hundred 
and nineteen victims had perished. 


At seven o'clock in the evening, after the massacre at the 
Carmes, Maillard and his band returned to the Abbaye, where 

* " The principal door of the church opening into the Rue de Vaugirard 
remained closed during the whole execution. The people did not take the 
least part in it" (Peltier, La Rdvolution du lo AoiHt, ii. 245). 

* Granier de Cassagnac, Histoire des Girondins, ii. 292. 

* Histoire du ClergS, by I'Abbe Barruel, p. 251. 

* Granier de Cassagnac says it was Violette ; Sorel {Le Couvent des 
Carmes, p. 132) says it was more probably Maillard. 

* Mortimer Ternaux, iii. 231. 

* Authorities consulted on the massacres at the Abbaye (accounts of 
prisoners) : Mon Agonie de trente-huit Heures, by Jourgniac de St. Meard ; 
MSmoires de I'AbbS Sicard ; Memoires inedits de I'Internonce d Paris 
pendant la Revolution, Monseigneur de Salamon (Plon Nourrit, 1890) ; 
Felh6pa6si, op. cit. 


a number of prisoners still remained incarcerated, for the murder 
of the contingent in cabs at the entrance had been only the 
prelude to a general massacre. 

The Abb6 de Salamon, a young papal nuncio, whose account 
of these September days is perhaps the most thrilling of all 
existing records, has described, with frightful minuteness, the 
agony of mind in which he and a company of fellow-priests 
passed that interminable Sunday afternoon. At half-past two, 
when they had just finished dining in the long dark hall assigned 
them as a prison, the gaoler noisily drew the bolts, and threw 
open the door with the words, " Be quick, the people are 
marching on the prisons, and have already begun to massacre 
all the prisoners." It was, in fact, at this very moment that the 
procession of cabs arrived at the Abbaye and the carnage began. 

At this news, says the Abb6 Salamon, " there was great 
agitation amongst us. Some cried, ' What will happen to us ? ' 
Others, ' Then we must die ! ' Many went to the door to look 
through the key-hole — a hole that did not exist, for prison locks 
only open from outside and show no opening on the interior. 
Others sprang up on their heels as if to look out of the windows, 
which were fourteen feet high; finally, others walking up and 
down without knowing where they were going knocked their 
legs violently against the seats and tables. . . . We began to 
hear the cries of the people ; it was like a great distant 

Standing apart were two young Minim brothers — "the youngest 
one had an angelic face." The Abbe Salamon, going up to them, 
spoke words of comfort. *' Ah, mon Dieu, monsieur," answered 
the younger, " I do not regard it as a disgrace to die for reUgion ; 
on the contrary, I am afraid they may not kill me because 
I am only a sub-deacon." The Abbe Salamon, none too devout 
himself, admits that he blushed at these words, '* worthy of the 
earliest martyrs of the Church." 

But the hour for martyrdom had not yet arrived ; the band 
of assassins, after murdering the priests at the entrance of the 
convent, had gone on to the Cannes, and for some hours all w: 
quiet. The priests spent the rest of the afternoon in prayer an< 
confession. Then suddenly the door was thrown open again, 
and the voice of the gaoler called out roughly, " The people are' 
more and more irritated; there are perhaps 2000 men in th 
Abbaye." And, indeed, the tumult and the howhng of the mo!^ 
could now be heard distinctly by the prisoners. The gaol 
added brutally, " It is just announced that all the priests in th 
Cannes have been massacred." At these words the assembled 
company threw themselves with one accord at the feet of the 
Cure de St. Jean en Grdve— a saintly old man of eighty, " wh< 



retained all the serenity of a noble soul " — and begged him to give 
them absolution w articulo mortis. 

After this had been given aU remained kneeling, whilst the 
old cure said, " We may regard ourselves as sick men about to 
die. ... I will recite the prayers of the dying ; join with me 
that God may have pity on us." 

But at the opening words, uttered with so great dignity by 
the aged priest, " Depart, Christian souls, from this world in 
the name of God the Father Almighty . . .," almost all burst into 
tears. *' Some lay brothers loudly lamented at dying so young, 
and gave way to imprecations against their assassins. The good 
cure interrupted them, representing to them with great gentleness 
that they must generously pardon, and that perhaps if God were 
pleased with their resignation He might create means to save 

Such were the men who were represented as planning to 
massacre the wives and children of the citizens I 

Meanwhile, outside the gate of the prison in the Rue Sainte- 
Marguerite, the massacre of the prisoners had begun. A band 
of assassins, preceding that of Maillard, which was still occupied 
at the Cannes, had besieged the gate clamouring for victims, and 
the concierge, fearing to resist them, had handed out several 
prisoners committed to his care. It was thus that, when Maillard 
and his band returned from the Cannes, they found the hideous 
work already begun. This * * band of massacrers, ' ' says Felhem^si, 
"comes back covered with blood and dust; these monsters 
are tired of carnage but not sated with blood. They are out of 
breath, they ask for wine, for wine, or death. What reply can 
be made to this irresistible desire ? The civil committee of the 
section gives them orders for 24 pints to be drawn at a neigh- 
bouring wine-merchant. Soon they have drunk, they are in- 
toxicated, and contemplate with satisfaction the corpses strewn 
in the courtyard of the Abbaye." 

It was then decided, in order to give an air of justice to their 
proceedings, that again a so-called " popular tribunal," imder 
MaiUard, should be set up. 

Maillard, who was himself a thief,^ had brought with him 
twelve swindlers to act as his accomplices, and these men, 
mingUng in the crowd "as if by accident," came forward " in 
the name of the Sovereign People " and seized the registers of the 
prison. At this ' ' the turnkeys tremble, the gaoler and the gaoler's 
wife faint, the prison is surrounded by furious men, cries and 
tumult increase." ^ Suddenly one of the commissioners of 
the section appeared on the scene, and standing on a footstool 

* MSmoires de Senart {edition de Lescure), p. 28. 
2 Felhemesi. 


attempted to soothe the mob, whom he took to be the cause of 
the uproar : " My comrades, my friends, you are good patriots 
. . . but you must love justice. There is not one of you who 
does not shudder at the frightful idea of soaking his hands in 
innocent blood ! " Even this vile mob, collected by the leaders 
to abet them in their crimes, showed itself amenable to sentiments 
of humanity and justice, and cried out loudly, " Yes ! Yes ! " 

But those who had ordained the massacres had prepared 
against any eventuahties of this kind, and a man in the crowd 
was ready with the prescribed phrase. Springing forward, 
with blazing eyes and brandishing a blood-stained sword, he 
interrupted the orator in these words : " Say, then, monsieur le 
citoyen, ... do you wish to lull us to sleep ? . . . I am not an 
orator, I delude no one, and I tell you that I am the father of a 
family, that I have a wife and five children whom I am willing 
to leave here under the protection of my section in order to go 
and fight the enemy, but meanwhile I do not mean that the 
rascals who are in this prison, or the others who will open the 
doors to them, shall go and murder my wife and children . . . 
so by me, or by others, the prison shall be purged of all these 
cursed scoundrels ! " 

Instantly the mob, rallying to the word of command, shouted, 
** He is right ; no mercy ! " and Maillard's accomphces called out 
for a tribunal to be formed by their leader : " Monsieur Maillard I 
Citizen Maillard as president ! He is a good man. Citizen 
MaiUard ! " ^ 

In a haU opening on the garden of the convent the terrible 
tribunal was then set up. At a table covered with a green cloth, 
on which ink, pens, and paper were arranged, Maillard, in his 
black coat and powdered hair, took his place, with the register 
of the prison spread before him. This register, preserved by 
the " Prefecture of PoHce," long remained one of the ghastUest 
reUcs of the revolutionary era ; on the greasy pages great marks 
of wine and blood might be seen, and all down the Ust of names 
blood-stained finger-prints left by the assassins, as they indicated, 
the prisoner concerning whom they asked for orders.^ 

Needless to say, the verdicts had been arranged beforehand, 
and it was then agreed that instead of pronouncing sentence of 
death the words " To La Force ! " should be employed. By this 
means the victims, imagining themselves to be acquitted and 
about to be transferred to this other prison, would go forward 
without a struggle into the arms of their assassins. The ruse, 

1 Felliem6si, op. cit. 

* Histoire des Girondins, by Granier de Cassagnac, ii. 165. M. de 
Cassagnac made use of these documents for his work, but they were 
destroyed later by the Commune in 1871. 


no doubt, served a double purpose, for in cases where no evidence 
was forthcoming against the prisoner the so-called "judges" 
could absolve themselves of the injustice of condemning him, and 
attribute his death to the uncontrollable passions of " the people." 

The first victims of this mock tribunal were the Swiss, who 
had been imprisoned after the siege of the Tuileries on the loth 
of August. These, to the number of forty-three, were all common 
soldiers, for their officers, with the exception of M. de Reding, 
who lay wounded in the chapel of the Abbaye, had been taken 
to the Conciergerie. A voice, speaking through the window of 
the hall occupied by the " tribunal," and declaring itself to be 
" entrusted with the wish of the people," now exclaimed loudly, 
" There are Swiss in the prison, lose no time in examining them ; 
they are all guilty, not one must escape ! " And the rabble 
obediently echoed, " That is just, that is just, let us begin 
with them ! " The tribunal thereupon pronounced the words, 
" To La Force ! " 

Maillard then went to the Swiss and ordered them to come 
forth. " You assassinated the people on the loth of August ; 
to-day they demand justice, you must go to La Force." The 
unhappy Swiss, instantly understanding the significance of these 
words, for the howls of the mob had reached them in their prison, 
fell on their knees, crying out, " Mercy 1 Mercy ! " But Maillard 
was inexorable. Two of the assassins followed, saying harshly 
to the prisoners, " Gome, come, make up your minds ! Let us 
go I " Then " lamentations and horrible groans " arose ; the 
unhappy Swiss, all huddhng together at the back of the room, 
clung to each other, embraced, gave way to pitiful despair at the 
sight of so hideous a death. A few white-haired old men, 
*' whose looks resembled those of CoHgny," almost succeeded in 
disarming their murderers. But a relentless voice cried, " Well, 
which of you is to go out the first ? " At this a tall young 
man in a blue overcoat, with a noble countenance and martial 
air, came forward fearlessly : "I pass the first ! " he cried, *' I 
will give the example ! " Throwing off his hat he advanced 
proudly, " with the apparent calm of concentrated fury," and 
faced the raging crowd. For a moment the horde, stupefied by 
his intrepidity, fell back ; a circle formed around him ; with 
folded arms he stood defiant, then, realizing that death was 
inevitable, suddenly rushed forward upon the pikes and bayonets, 
and the next moment fell pierced with a hundred wounds. 

All but one of his unhappy comrades shared the same fate ; 
this sole survivor, a boy " of ingenuous countenance," succeeded 
in enlisting the S5mipathy of a Marseillais, who bore him forth 
triumphantly amidst the applause of the crowd. 

Four other victims followed, accused of forging assignats; 


then Montmorin, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and 
arch-enemy of Brissot and the pro-Prussian party. Montmorin 
had been summoned before the bar of the Assembly on the 22nd 
of August and accused by the Girondins of having opposed an 
alUance between France and Prussia, and of wishing to maintain 
the Franco-Austrian alliance, but the Assembly, not entirely 
dominated by tliis faction, had acquitted Montmorin, and so his 
death by violent means was decreed. Can we doubt that Peltier 
was right in sa5dng that this foul crime lay at the door of Brissot,^ 
and may not the hand of Prussia also be detected here ? Yet 
this too was attributed to the fury of " the people " ! The 
register of Maillard bears these words, beside the name of 
Montmorin : " On the 4th of September ^ 1792, the Sieur 
Montmorin has been judged by the people and executed on 
the spot." 

Other victims followed quickly — Thierry de VlQe d'Avray, 
valet de chambre to the King, and guardian of the Garde Meuble 
where the Crown jewels were kept, was condemned with the 
words, " Like master, like man 1 " Two magistrates, Buob 
and Bosquillon, who had started an inquiry on the events of the 
20th of June, the Comte de St. Marc, the Comte de Wittgenstein, 
the solicitor Seron — accused of calumniating the nation because 
he had complained of being rudely awakened from his sleep on 
the night of his arrest — ^were all put to death with indescribable 

Jourgniac de St. M6ard has vividly described the agony of 
mind in which he and his fellow-prisoners passed this terrible 
night and the no less terrible day that followed, for the piercing 
screams of the victims penetrated to them in their prison, and 
none doubted that before long their own turn must come. 

*' The principal thing with which we occupied ourselves," 
says St. M6ard, " was to know what position we should assume 
in order to receive death the least painfully when we entered 
the place of massacre. From time to time we sent one of our 
comrades to the window of the tower, to tell us what positionj 
those unfortunate people took up who were then being immolate( 
so as to calculate from their report that which it would be b( 
for us to assume. They reported that those who held out theii 
hands suffered much longer, because the sabre-cuts were stop] 
before reaching their heads — ^there were even some whose banc 
and arms fell before their bodies — and that those who held thei 
behind their backs seemed to suffer much the least. . . . Well, 11 
was on these horrible details we deliberated. . . . We calculate( 

* Peltier, La Revolution du 10 Aout, ii. 193, 194, 389. 

* This was an error. Montmorin was massacred on the 2nd 


the advantages of this last position, and we advised each other 
to assume it when our turn came to be massacred ! . . ." 

It was not until nearly midnight that the company of priests, 
which included the Abb6 Salamon, was led before the terrible 

" We walked," says the mmcio, who certainly had not acquired 
the resignation of his more devout companions, " escorted by a 
crowd in arms, in the midst of a great number of torches, and 
under the rays of a beautiful moon that Ht up all those vile 
scoundrels." Arraigned before the green-covered table they 
awaited their sentence, whilst a quarrel took place amongst the 
judges. At last Maillard, by loudly ringing his bell, obtained 
silence, and one of his assistants addressed the crowd : " Here 
are a lot of rascals who are waiting for the just punishment of 
their crimes. All these people are priests ; they are the sworn 
enemies of the nation, who would not take the oath . . .; they 
are all aristocrats, we must begin with them, certainly they are 
the most guilty." 

The form of interrogatory was confined to the one question, 
" Have you taken the oath ? " The first to answer it was the 
old Cure de St. Jean en Greve, who, owning courageously that he 
had not taken it because he regarded it as contrary to the prin- 
ciples of his religion, asked only to be spared a lingering death in 
consideration of his great age and infirmity. Instantly a storm 
of blows descended on the venerable head, and a moment later 
the Ufeless body was dragged out to the cries of ** Vive la 
nation ! " Nearly aU his companions shared the same fate ; 
amongst the last to fall were the two Minim brothers, over whom 
a furious struggle took place, some of the assassins wishing to 
take them out and kill them, others to detain them in the hall. 
" I noticed," says Salamon, " that the under-deacon who so 
desired to die opposed less resistance to those who wished to 
drag him out than to those who wished to save him. In the end 
the scoundrels triumphed, and they were massacred." 

Such was the nature of the *' gangrene " which the re- 
generators of France held it necessary to destroy ! Of such 
stuff was made the clergy of the Old Regime, described to us as 
" vicious " and " effete," whose fate was but the just retribution 
of their deeds ! Amongst the priests who perished on these 
September days was not a single one who had been distinguished 
for profligacy or extravagance ; the great majority were humble, 
saintly men, many white-haired and venerable, whose lives had 
been passed in doing good, and who in death displayed a heroic 
resignation never surpassed in the earliest days of Christendom. 
No, the Old Order was not effete that produced such men as these ! 

The lay prisoners, however, were not all of the stuff of which 


martyrs are made. Some defended themselves vigorously. Two 
quite young men, who had been recognized as members of the 
King's new bodyguard, were dragged forward and denounced to 
the mob as chevaliers du poignard, who must be punished on the 
spot, whereat the mob replied with savage howls of " Death ! 
death ! " 

" They were," says the Abbe Salamon, " two young men of 
superb figures and handsome countenances . . ." ; the crowd 
*' began to overwhelm them with insults ; then one man, more 
cowardly than the rest, gave the tallest one a violent blow wit 
a sabre, to which he replied only with a shrug of the shoulde 
Then began a horrible struggle between these vile drinkers 
blood and these two young men, who, although unarmedj 
defended themselves Uke lions. They threw many (of th 
assailants) to the ground, and I think if only they had had 
knife they would have been victorious. At last they fell on the 
floor of the hall all pierced with blows. They seemed in despair 
at dying, and I heard one crying out, ' Must one die at this agi 
and in this manner ? ' " 

All through this dreadful night the massacres continued 
the courtyards of the prison. The Abbe Sicard, still detained 
the hall of the section, could hear the cries of the victims, th( 
howls of the murderers, the savage songs and dances taking pla 
around the bodies of the dead. At intervals an assassin, wi 
sleeves rolled up, clutching a blood-stained sabre, would come 
to the section clamouring for more drink : " Our good brothers 
have been long at work in the courtyard ; they are tired, their 
lips are dry ; I come to ask for wine for them ! " And finally the 
committee tremblingly ordered them four more flagons. Then, 
crazed with the fumes of alcohol, the massacrers returned to 
their hideous task. " One," says the Abbe Sicard, " complained 
that these aristocrats died too quickly, that only the first ones 
had the pleasure of striking, and it was decided to hit them only 
with the flat of the sword, and then make them run between t 
rows of massacrers, as was formerly the practice with soldie 
condemned to be scourged. It was also arranged that the; 
should be seats around this place for the * ladies ' and ' gentl 
men.' . . . One can imagine," Sicard adds significantly, " whai 
ladies these were ! " 

The council of the Commune had taken care to provide n 
only the actors but the audience. The women of the districti 
trained at the Societe Fratemelle, were reinforced during 
the massacres of September by a terrible brigade of female 
malefactors released from the prisons, whose rdle was to applaud 
the assassinations and incite the murderers to further violence 
It was this legion that afterwards peopled the tribunes of t^ 



Terror, and became known as the tricoteuses or " furies " of the 

Nothing had been left to chance by the organizers of the 
massacres. In the middle of the night members of the Commune, 
alarmed lest under the influence of fiery drinks and excitement 
some of the spoils they counted on might elude them, deputed 
Billaud-Varenne again to harangue the massacrers. 

" My friends, my good friends," cried Billaud, standing on a 
platform in their midst, " the Commune sends me to you to 
represent to you that you are dishonouring this beautiful day. 
They have been told that you are robbing these rascals of aristo- 
crats after executing justice on them. Leave, leave all the jewels, 
all the money and goods they have on them for the expenses of 
the great act of justice you are exercising. They will have a 
care to pay you as was arranged with you. Be noble, great, and 
generous like the profession you follow. May everything in 
this great day be worthy of the people whose sovereignty is 
entrusted to you ! " ^ 

And these were the massacres that the Commune afterwards 
declared itself powerless to prevent ! 

Even to the most ingenuous observer it was evident that the 
atrocities taking place were not a matter of misdirected popular 
fury, but the result of a deep-laid scheme. Honest Dr. John 
Moore, a stranger to all intrigues, had been told earlier in the day 
that " the people " had broken into the Abbaye and were 
massacring the prisoners. But at midnight, as he sits writing 
in his hotel, close by the prison, a sudden flash of revelation 
comes to him : all at once he understands, and with a thriU of 
reaUzation writes these illuminating words : "Is this the work 
of a furious and deluded mob ? How come the citizens of this 
populous metropoUs to remain passive spectators of so dreadful 

* Histoire secrdte du Tribunal rSvolutionnaire, by Proussinalle, p. 42 ; 
Crimes de la Revolution, by Prudhomme, iii. 272, 273. 

* Mimoires de I' Abbe Sicard; Felh6m6si, op. cit. It seems, however, 
that Billaud did not pay them as arranged, for Felh6m6si relates that a 
terrible uproar arose next day when he reappeared at the prison, and he 
was surrounded by a horde of the assassins clamouring for higher salaries. 
" Do you think I have earned only 24 francs ? " a butcher's apprentice, 
armed with a club, said loudly. " I have killed more than forty on my 
own account. ' ' This seems to confirm the statement of Maton de la Varenne 
that on engagement they were promised 30 livres, but some were only paid 
24 Uvres, as the registers of the Commune reveal. The Abb6 de Salamon, 
who saw them being paid on the Wednesday morning, September 5, by a 
member of the Commune wearing his municipal scarf, says : " The salary 
given to those who had, as they said, ' worked well ' — that is to say, 
massacred well — was from 30 to 35 francs. A certain number obtained 
less. I even saw one who only obtained 6 francs. His work was not 
considered sufficient" {Memoires de Monseigneur de Salamon, p. 122). 


an outrage ? Is it possible that this is the accomphshment of aj 
plan concerted two or three weeks ago ; that those arbitral 
arrests were ordered with this view ; that false rumours ol 
treasons and intended insurrections and massacres were spread^ 
to exasperate the people ; and that, taking advantage of th^j 
rumours of bad news from the frontiers, orders have been issued 
for firing the cannon and sounding the tocsin, to increase the; 
alarm, and terrify the pubUc into acquiescence ; while a hand oj 
chosen ruffians were hired, to massacre those whom hatred, revenge, 
or fear had destined to destruction, but whom law and justice 
could not destroy ? 

"It is now past twelve at midnight, and the bloody work 
still goes on ! Almighty God ! " 


Not only at the Abbaye was the bloody work in progress j ; 
during the same night the Chatelet and the Gonciergerie had been 
invaded by other bands of massacrers. At one o'clock in the 
morning, the 3rd of September, the massacre began at La Force. 
It was here that a number of aristocrats had been incarcerated 
after the loth of August ; these included M. de Rulhieres, ex- 
commander of the mounted guard of Paris ; MM. de Baudin and; 
de la Ghesnaye, who had remained in command at the Tuileries ! 
after the murder of Mandat ; several of the Queen's ladies, 
Madame and Mademoiselle de Tourzel, Madame de Sainte-Brice, 
the Princesse de LambaUe, Madame de Mackau, Madame Bazire, 
and Madame de Navarre ; also a foster-brother of the Queen's . 
named Weber, and Maton de la Varenne, the author of the 
memoirs already quoted. There were also ten or twelve priests ; 
the rest of the prisoners were common malefactors. Very fewj 
of the aristocrats perished, only about six in aU ; these included! 
De Rulhieres and De la Ghesnaye. Weber and Maton de la 
Varenne, though both ardent Royahsts, were acquitted, amidst 
the frantic applause of the populace.^ AU the Queen's ladies,, 
with one tragic exception, were hkewise set at Hberty by the^ 
Gommune through the influence of Manuel. But there was one; 
victim whom even Manuel was powerless to save. This was the] 
Queen's friend, the iU-fated Princesse de LambaUe. 

" The condemnation of the Princesse de Lamballe," MM. 
Buchez et Roux have the infamy to write, " is it not quite simply^ 
explained by the particular hatred the people bore her ? " ^ 

* Authorities consulted on massacre at La Force : Memoires de Weber, 
ii. 265 ; Ma Risurrection, by Maton de la Varenne ; Les Crimes de Marat, 
by Maton de la Varenne. 

* Moniteur, xiii. 603. • Buchez et Roux, xvii. 418. 



No blacker calumny was ever uttered against either the princess 
or the people. " Amidst all our agitations/' even the revolu- 
tionary Mercier admits, " she had played no r61e ; nothing could 
render her suspect in the eyes of the people, by whom she was only 
known for innumerable acts of benevolence/' ^ On the estates 
of her father-in-law, the Due de Penthi^vre, with whom she had 
lived since the early death of her husband, she was known as 
" the good angel " ; in the whole world she had but one im- 
placable enemy, her husband's brother-in-law, PhiKppe d'Orleans. 
It has been said that the princess's dowry had excited the cupidity 
of the duke, and that by her death he hoped to add it to his 
waning fortune; whether this was so or not the duke had a 
further reason for resentment, namely, that the princess, recogniz- 
ing his complicity in the march on Versailles on the 5th of October 
1789, had refused from that time onward to associate with him.^ 
This was enough to arouse all the bitter hatred of which PhiHppe 
showed himself pecuUarly capable, and under the influence of 
wounded vanity he planned a terrible revenge. 

Manuel, who had hitherto been a partisan of the Due 
d'Orleans, had, however, been paid the sum of 50,000 ^cus to 
save the princess, and, unlike Danton, Manuel displayed a certain 
degree of integrity with regard to compacts of this kind. Accord- 
ingly he carried out his promise to rescue Madame and Mademoi- 
selle de Tourzel, for whom he had received a large ransom, and 
also gave orders that the Princesse de Lamballe should be set at 
liberty.^ But the accomplices of the duke were too strong for 
him. Once again the services of the bloodthirsty Rotondo 
had been enhsted — Rotondo who, after the disbanding of the 
" Compagnie du Sabbat," still remamed in the pay of the 
Orl^aniste conspiracy, and now placed himself at the head of a 
band of ferocious assassins specially hired to carry out the 
vengeance of the duke. The men that composed this gang were 
Gonor, a wheelwright, Renier, known as " le grand Nicolas," 
an agitator of the Palais Royal called Petit Mamain, Grison. and 

At eight o'clock in the morning of September 3 the Princesse 
de Lamballe was brought before the so-called " tribunal " pre- 
sided over by Hebert,^ hereafter to become for ever infamous 

^ Mercier, Le Nouveau Paris, i. no. 

« Montjoie, Conjuration de d'Orlians, iii. 210 ; Histoire particuliire 
by Maton de la Varenne, p. 395 ; Peltier, Revolution du 10 AoiXt, ii. 313. ' 

» Montjoie. Conjuration de d'Orlians, iii. 210; Histoire pariiculiire by 
Maton de la Varenne, p. 395. 

* Ibid. ; also Beaulieu. iv. no ; Histoire des Girondins, by Granier de 
Cassagnac. li. 510. 5i5 ; Mortimer Ternaux, iii. 498. 

» Histoire particuliire, by Maton de la Varenne ; Revolution du loAoAt 
by Peltier, ii. 305. 


as the author of the atrocious accusation against the Queen at 
her trial. The verdict was, of course, a foregone conclusion. 

*' When the princess had arrived before this frightful tribunal,'* 
says Peltier, " the sight of the blood-stained weapons, of the 
murderers, whose faces and clothing were marked with blood, 
caused her so great a shock that she fell into one fainting fit 
after another." Then, as soon as she had sufiQciently recovered 
consciousness, her cross-examination began. 

" Who are you ? " 

" Marie Louise, Princess of Savoy." 

" Your position ? " 

" Superintendent of the Queen's household." 

'* Have you any knowledge of the plots on the loth of 
August ? " 

" I do not know whether there were any plots on the loth of 
August, but I know that I had no knowledge of them." 

" Take the oath of liberty, of equaUty, of hatred for the King, 
the Queen, and royalty." 

" I will wiUingly swear to the first, but not to the last. It is 
not in my heart." 

Some one whispered to her, " Swear — if you do not, you are 

But this heroic woman, whose excessive nervousness had 
excited even the kindly derision of her friends, now that the 
supreme moment had come, never faltered in her resolution ; 
over the quivering flesh the indomitable spirit rose triumphantly. 
Without a word she walked towards the wicket, well knowing the 
fate that there awaited her. 

The Judge then said, " Set Madame free." 

These words were the signal of death.^ 

Instantly the hired band of assassins closed around her. 
The gate was opened. It is said that at the sight of the corpses 
piled around her she cried out faintly, " Fi ! I'horreur ! " and 
that two of her murderers, of whom one was Gonor, holding her 
beneath the arms, forced her to walk forward, fainting at each 
footstep, over the bodies of the dead. 

But the hideous story of her end is already known to every 
one, and need not be related here. For the purpose of this book 
it is necessary only to follow the intrigue that ordained the crime, 
and to prove the non-complicity of the people. 

The chief murderer of the Princesse de Lamballe was thi 
an Italian — Rotondo. Of this there can be no doubt whatever, 
for, besides the assertions of Montjoie. we have the evidence 
Maton de la Varenne, who was in the prison of La Force at 

* Peltier, Histoire de la Revolution du lo Aout, ii. 306. 


time,^ and of Peltier, who was in London when Rotondo at a 
tavern in that city openly boasted of his share in the crime. ^ 
Moreover, when Rotondo later fled to Switzerland he was 
arrested by the Government as " one of the assassins of the 
Princesse de Lamballe," and imprisoned by the King of Sardinia.^ 

A further Ught is thrown upon the incident by a curious 
document that has been preserved amongst the Chatham papers 
at the Record Ofiice in London. Apparently Pitt was in the 
habit of employing secret agents to give him information con- 
cerning the revolutionary intrigues, and from one of these he 
inquired about Rotondo, whose boast in the tavern had possibly 
reached his ears. To this inquiry his correspondent makes the 
astonishing reply that Rotondo was the husband of one of the 
Princesse de Lamballe's kitchen-maids, who helped to dismember 
the body of her mistress.* 

Now it was said in Paris that several of the princess's 
footmen, disguised as massacrers, had attempted to save her,^ 
but they were recognized amongst the crowd and overpowered. 
Who so hkely to recognize them as their fellow-servant ? And 
since Rotondo had been for more than two years in the pay of 
the Due d'Orleans, is it not possible that his wife — also perhaps 
an ItaUan — had been introduced to the Hotel de Penthievre as 
an accompUce of the Orleaniste conspiracy ? 

It is evident, moreover, that the gang had been hired for this 
crime alone, since none of them were paid by the Commune,^ nor 
do they appear to have taken any further part in the massacres, 
but as soon as they had carried out their sanguinary mission 
they marched off with their trophy, the head of the princess, 
to show to their employer. By a refinement of brutality they 
halted first at a hairdresser's for the long fair curls to be washed 
of blood-stains and freshly powdered, then, led by Charlat 
carrjdng the head on a pike, they went on to display it to the 
two best friends of the dead princess — Gabrielle de Beauvau, 
Abbess of the Abbaye de Saint-Antoine, and Marie Antoinette 
at the Temple. After this the procession marched on amidst the 
roll of drums and the sound of " (Ja ira ! " to the Palais Royal. 

The Due d'Orleans was just sitting down to dinner with his 
mistress, Madame Buffon, and several EngUshmen, when the 
savage howls of triumph that heralded this arrival attracted his 
attention. Walking to the window he looked out calmly on the 

^ Maton de la Varenne, Histoire particuliire, etc., p. 395. 

2 Peltier, Revolution du 10 Ao4t, ii. 313. 

3 Vieilles Maisons vieux Papier s, by G. Lenotre, ii. 153. 

* See Appendix, p. 504. 

^ La Rivolution du 10 A o4t, by Peltier, ii. 380. 

• See list of assassins published by Granier de Cassagnac, Histoire des 
GirondinSj ii. 502. 


scene, contemplated with a perfectly unmoved countenance the 
dead, white face, the fair curls fluttering round the pike-head, 
and without a word returned to his place at the table. One of 
the EngUshmen present, overcome with horror, rose and left the 
room ; the others remained to feast with the murderer.^ Who 
these men were we shall see later. 

But once again PhiUppe d'Orleans had overreached himself ; 
the effect of this atrocious crime was to aUenate the sympathies 
of at least two of his supporters. " Manuel," says Montjoie, 
*' outraged by the assassination of the Princesse de Lamballe, 
from this moment declared w^ar to the death against D'Orleans. 
Impulsive in his passions, knowing moderation neither in gooc 
nor evU, he was no longer either a RepubUcan, or a RoyaHst, or] 
a Constitutional, or a Monarchist ; he was nothing but anti-j 
Orleaniste. ... It was not hatred, it was rage. The Abb^ 
Fauchet was taken with the same fury. ... He began to com- 
pose a newspaper which was nothing but a long tissue of insults 
and imprecations against the party he had finally abandoned. 
Often when re-reading his pages he would say, * Ah, but m] 
God ! what must one do to have the honour of being butchere 
by these people ? ' " 

Several members of the Convention later on ranged them- 
selves on the side of Manuel and Fauchet. 

Most of the assassins of the Princesse de Lamballe ended asj 
miserably as their chief ; after the gth of Thermidor an inquii 
was made into the massacres of September, and Renier, le grand! 
Nicolas, was condemned to twenty years in irons. Petit Mamain] 
to deportation, Charlat, bearer of the princess's head, and guilt] 
of further outrages that cannot be described, was put to deatl 
by the soldiers of the regiment in which he enUsted, to whom he 
had boasted of his crime, whilst Rotondo, leader of the gang, 
lived a hunted Hfe execrated by all his feUow-men, and die 
either in prison or on the gedlows.^ 


It is mercifully unnecessary to the purpose of this book t< 
describe the rest of the massacres, which lasted for five days anc 
nights in succession;^ enough has already been told to give 

^Montjoie, Conjuration de d'Orleans, iii. 211; Beaulieu, iv. 114; 
Peltier, ii. 312. 

2 Mortimer Ternaux, iii. 498 ; article on Rotondo in Vieilles Maisons 
vieux Papier s, by G. Lenotre. 

* That is to say, from Sunday the 2nd until Thursday the 6th, or possiblyj 
till Friday the 7th. Granier de Cassagnac, ii. 419; Beaulieu, iv. 115; 
Mimoires de Monseigneur de Salamon, p. 121 ; see also Potion's Letter tc 
the Assembly on September 7, Moniteur, xiii. 644 


some faint idea of the horrors that took place throughout that 
week of infamous memory — the whole truth would be un- 
bearable to read, still more to write. It only now remains to 
show who were the principal victims. 

The number of aristocrats who perished was, as we have seen, 
comparatively infinitesimal ; several of the most ardent Royalists 
succeeded in disarming their assassins. At the Abbaye, where 
the massacre continued for two days and nights almost without 
intermission, the heroic Princesse de Tarente, having refused, in 
almost the same words as the Princesse de Lamballe, to betray 
the Queen, was carried home in triumph by the crowd.^ 
Mademoiselle de Cazotte, with her arms around her white-haired 
father, touched the hearts of the spectators, and the old man 
was set at liberty by the populace,^ only to fall a victim to the 
revolutionary tribunal three weeks later. Mademoiselle de 
Sombreuil, who really did drink the glass of blood to save her 
father's Ufe, also secured for him a temporary reprieve.^ 
Jourgniac de St. M6ard was acquitted after boldly admitting 
himself to be "a frank Royalist." The Abbe de Salamon was 
saved by his housekeeper, Madame Blanchet, a heroic old peasant 
woman who had followed him weeping to the door of the Abbaye, 
and waited about there patiently for five days without touching 
soUd food. Hearing at one moment that her master had been 
massacred, Blanchet and a friend, a woman of the people as 
robust and courageous as herself, made their way into the court- 
yard of the Abbaye, resolved to know the worst. Then, weeping 
bitterly the while, the two poor women turned over the naked 
corpses one by one, fearing each time to find the face they 
sought. When they had thus examined about a hundred of the 
dead, Madame Blanchet cried out with tears of joy, " He is 
not there ! " and from that moment she importuned every one 
she met to obtain his release. These efforts meeting with no 
success, Madame Blanchet at last seized a deputy of the Assembly 
by the collar of his coat as he made his way through the Tuileries 
garden, and forced him to intercede for the Abb6 de Salamon. 
By this means the faithful Blanchet achieved her purpose, and 
her master was given back to her aUve. 

Whilst a number of aristocrats were thus saved from the 
massacres, to " the people," as on the loth of August, the revolu- 
tionaries showed no mercy. For although the object of the 
massacres was, as we have seen, to rid the State of that gangrened 

1 RivoluHon du lo Aotii, ii. 285, by Peltier. 

2 " The people, touched by this spectacle, asked mercy for him and 
obtained it " {Mon Agonie de Trente-huit Heures, by Jourgniac de St. Meard) . 

' This story has been declared to be a legend, but Granier de Cassagnac 
confirms it by documentary evidence ; see Histoire des Girondins, ii. 223, 


limb, the nobility and clergy, the operation was very imperfectly 
carried out, whilst on the other hand drastic amputation was 
exercised on " the people." 

Thus at the Conciergerie, where the massacre began on the 
night of September 2-3, the prisoners were, with the exception 
of M. de Montmorin, governor of Fontainebleau, and seven or 
eight Swiss officers, all ordinary criminals of the poorer classes,^ 
and of these at least 320 were massacred without even the 
formality of a trial.^ Thirty-six who survived were set at Hberty 
on the condition they should join themselves to the assassins, 
and seventy-five women, mostly thieves, were enrolled with the 
rest of the Uberated female deUnquents to swell the ranks of 
the future tricoteuses.^ Only one woman — a flower-seller of the 
Palais Royal — perished here after the most inhuman tortures.* 

The Chatelet, attacked on the same night, contained nothing 
but men of the people — all were thieves; 223 perished also without 
a trial.^ 

Of these poor victims of the cause of " liberty " we have no 
record ; in the great whirlpool of the Revolution they went down 
in one indistinguishable mass ; no chronicler was there to describe 
their last moments, no survivor wrote his memoirs ; of several 
hundred, indeed, it is unrecorded whether they hved or died — 
they simply disappeared.^ One trait of heroism stands out 
from the darkness of obUvion : a poor criminal, who had been 
offered his Hfe on condition he should enrol himself amongst 
the massacrers, set himself to the ghastly work, struck one or 
two ill-aimed blows, then, overcome with horror at himself, 
flung down the hatchet, crying out, " No, no, I cannot ! Better 
be a victim than a murderer ! I would rather be given my 
death by scoundrels like you than give it to disarmed innocents. 
Strike me ! " And instantly he fell beneath the blows of his 

On the following day, the 3rd of September, the Tour Saint- 
Bernard was attacked ; here seventy-five men condemned to 
the galleys were put to death, and their bodies robbed of their 
poor savings.' But of all the brutalities that took place on these 
September days, the massacre at Bicetre was the most atrocious. 
Bicetre had always been the prison of " the people," and, as we 
have seen earlier in this book, far more dreaded by them than 
the Bastille. We might then have expected the breaking open 

^ Granier de Cassagnac, Histoire des Girondins, ii. 343. 

2 Ibid. pp. 351-367. 

3 Crimes de la Revolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 112. * Ibid. iv. 113. 
6 Granier de Cassagnac, op. cit. pp. 372, 377-389. 

8 Ibid. p. 352. 

' Mortimer Ternaux, iii. 272 ; Granier de Cassagnac, op. cit. ii. 83, 468. 


of this stronghold of despotism to end, as did the " taking " of 
the Bastille, with the triumphant Uberation of its victims. If 
the Revolution had been made by the people this no doubt is 
what would have happened, but it was by the revolutionary 
sections of Paris, imder the control of the Commune, that the 
attack on Bicetre was organized, and by them cannons were 
provided for the purpose.^ " They went to Bicetre with seven 
cannons," says the lying report of the Assembly ; " the people 
in exercising their vengeance thus showed their justice." ^ What 
form did this justice take ? The massacre of 170 poor people, 
amongst whom were a number of young boys of twelve years old 
and upwards — unfortunate Uttle " street urchins " detained, in 
many cases, at the request of their relations, as a punishment 
for minor offences.^ In all the annals of the Revolution there 
is no passage more heart-rending than the account of this foul 
deed given more than forty years later by one of the gaolers : 

" They killed thirty-three of them, the unhappy ones ! The 
assassins said to us — and indeed we could see it for ourselves — 
that these poor children were far more difficult to finish off than 
grown-up men. You understand at that age Hfe holds hard. 
They killed thirty-three of them ! They made a mountain of 
them, over there in the corner ... at your right. . . . The 
next day, when we had to bury them, it was a sight to rend one's 
soul ! There was one who looked as if he were asleep, like an 
angel of the good God ; but the others were horribly mutilated." * 

At the Salpetriere, a house of correction for women, as Bicetre 
was for men, unspeakable barbarities took place; thirty-five 
victims in all perished, and these were not the most unfortunate. 
The abominations committed towards little girls of ten to fifteen 
years cannot be described.^ 

" If you knew the frightful details ! " Madame Roland wrote 
later of the massacre at the Salpetriere, " women brutally 
violated before being torn to pieces by these tigers ! . . . You 
know my enthusiasm for the Revolution ; well, I am ashamed 
of it ; it is dishonoured by villains, it has become hideous ! " ^ 

That the " people " were therefore the principal sufferers 
in the massacres of September is not a matter of opinion but of 
fact. The following table gives the precise statistics concerning 
the class of victims sacrificed : — 

* Granier de Cassagnac, op. cit. ii. 432. 

2 Procds verbaux de I'Assemhlie Nationale, xiv. 219. 

* Mortimer Ternaux, iii. 294 ; Granier de Cassagnac, ii. 434. 

* Barth^lemy Maurice, Histoire politique et anecdotique des Prisons de 
la Seine, p. 329. 

» Crimes de la Revolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 118, 119. 

* Madame Roland, Lettres ii Bancal des Issarts, pp. 348, 349. 


Analysis of Victims in the Massacres of September^ 

Name of Prison. 

Aristocrats and 




The Abbaye . 

circ. 28 

(including 11 



circ. 99 

(including 69 


circ. 171 

The Carmes . 




St. Firmin . 


. . 





Conciergerie . 


(including 7 

Swiss officers) 

* * 



La Force 


(including 2 





Bernardins . 



Bicetre . 



Salpetri^re . 


• • 







If, therefore, we except the sixty-nine soldiers who perished 
as the last defenders of Royalty, we arrive at the enormous total 
of 10 1 1 victims from amongst " the people " who had no connection 
whatever with the political situation. Yet it was this senseless and 
wholesale butchery that the revolutionary leaders described as 
" just " and " necessary," but that, when they realized the 
universal horror it inspired, they basely attributed to the 

" It was a popular movement," Robespierre afterwards 
declared, " and not, as has been ridiculously supposed, the partial 
sedition of a few scoundrels paid to assassinate their fellows." 
And with revolting hypocrisy he added, " We are assured that 
one innocent perished — ^they have been pleased to exaggerate the 
number — ^but even one is far too many without doubt. Citizens, 
weep for the cruel error, we have long wept for it . . . but let 
your grief have its term Hke all human things ! Let us keep a 
few tears for more touching calamities ! " ^ 

1 The totals of these lists are taken from M. Mortimer Ternaux (Histoire 
de la Terreur, iii. 548) ; the details from M. Granier de Cassagnac {Histoire 
des Girondins, vol. ii.). The numbers given are the lowest possible; 
according to M. Granier de Cassagnac, 370 of the people perished at the 
Conciergerie ; according to Prudhomme, 380. See Crimes de la Revolution, 
iv. 86. 

2 Robespierre, Lettres d ses Commetiants, No. 4, pp. 170, 172, 173. 
This " one innocent " was not, needless to say, the guiltless Princesse Je 
Lamballe, nor was he to be found amongst the martyred priests or the poor 
Httle boys at Bicetre. The victim in question was simply a good citizen 
named an elector the day before by his section (Granier de Cassag 
Histoire des Girondins, ii. 66). 



Marat likewise heaped all the blame on to the people : " The 
disastrous events of the 2nd and 3rd of September were entirely 
provoked by the indignation of the people at seeing themselves 
the slaves of all the traitors who had caused their disasters and 
misfortunes." It was a " perfidious insinuation to attribute these 
popular executions " to the Commune — executions that, in the 
same breath, Marat, with his usual wild inconsequence, describes 
as " unfortunately too necessary." ^ If necessary, why was it 
perfidious to attribute them to the Commune ? 

The historians who have made it their business to whitewash 
Marat, Danton, and Robespierre, effect their purpose by the same 
process of blackening the people. 

" We beUeve that the massacre at the prison of the Abbaye," 
writes Bougeart, the adorer of Marat, " was executed by the 
people, by the true people. . . . Marat cannot be accused of it, 
for he did everything before and during the event to prevent 
such horrible atrocities." ^ Of all calumnies on the people 
uttered by the men who called themselves their friends, this 
accusation of having committed the massacres of September is 
the most infamous and the most unfounded. Apart from the 
revelations of Prudhomme, to whom the authors of the massacres 
confided their designs in the dialogues already quoted,^ apart 
from the evidence of eye-witnesses who saw the assassins being 
paid by the emissaries of the Commune, we have documentary 
proof of these facts — the registers of the Commune recording the 
sums paid were preserved ; ^ a number of receipts signed by the 
murderers were still in existence until 1871.^ The immense 
researches of M. Granier de Cassagnac and M. Mortimer Temaux 
long ago laid bare the whole plot, and no revolutionary writer 
has ever succeeded in disproving their assertions. Yet, in spite 
of all this overwhelming evidence, we still read in EngUsh books 
— not merely the books of fanatics, but dry histories and manuals 
for schools — that the people of Paris, overcome by panic, marched 
on the prisons and massacred the prisoners ! 

• Journal de la RSpublique, No. 12. 

' Jean Paul Marat, by Alfred Bougeart, ii. 93. Hamel, the panegyrist 
of Robespierre, also heaps all the blame on the people {Vie de Robespierre, 
i. 410). 

• See also Prudhomme's definite statement : " The people did not 
kill ; the massacrers were men paid to do it " {Crimes de la RSvolution, 
iv. 107). 

• " Proems verbaux de la Commune de Paris," published in M&moires 
sur les Journies de Septembre, pp. 286, 314 ; Mortimer Temaux, iii. 525-528 ; 
Beaulieu, iv. 120-123. 

' A bundle of twenty-four of these receipts was preserved at the Pre- 
fecture de Police in Paris (Mortimer Temaux, iii. 525, 527). M. Granier 
de Cassagnac has reproduced two in facsimile {Histoire des Girondins, 
ii. 514). These also were destroyed by the Commune of 1871. 



Who were the men that the leaders succeeded in enHsting for 
the hideous task ? Very great pains have been taken, Dr. John 
Moore wrote on the loth of September, to urge the notion " that 
the assassins were no other than a promiscuous crowd of the 
citizens of Paris." ^ This was absolutely untrue. The assassins 
formed an organized band of not more than 300 men — a point 
on which all contemporaries not in collusion with the leaders 
agree.^ Nor is there any mystery concerning their identity, 
for the names and professions of the greater number are known, 
and have been pubUshed by M. Granier de Cassagnac.^ There 
were then, in addition to the Marseillais and released convicts 
who formed the nucleus of the gang, a certain number of men 
who might be described as citizens of Paris, and, strangely enough, 
these were not mostly rough brutes from the barges on the Seine 
or the hovels of Saint-Marceau, but boutiquiers or small trades- 
men, bootmakers, jewellers, tailors — ^two of these were Germans — 
some, indeed, appear to have been men of education.* It is 
this latter class that seems to have lent itself most wiUingly to 
the hideous work ; the rest were persuaded by various methods 
to co-operate. The greater number undoubtedly yielded merely 
to the lust for gold, to the promise of wine and booty in addition 
to their salary ; others, the more ignorant no doubt, believed 
the story told them of the plot hatched by the prisoners to 
massacre their wives and children, and went forth in all good 
faith to destroy the supposed enemies of their country. As to 
the ferocity they displayed once they had set themselves to the 
task, it is to be explained in the same way as the outrages com- 
mitted at the Tuileries on the loth of August, by the effect of 
fiery Uquor working on overwrought brains. Moreover, this 
time it was not merely alcohol that had been given to them, 
but something more insidious that had been purposely introduced 
into the drink with which they were pUed incessantly. Maton 

1 Journal of a Residence in France, i. 374. 

2 " The number of assassins did not exceed 300 " (Roch Marcandierj 
(an eye-witness), Histoire des Hommes de Proie) ; Louvet said about 200] 
{Accusation contre Maximilien Robespierre, Seance de la Convention du 29 1 
Octobre 1792) ; " 300," says Mercier {Le Nouveau Paris, i. 94) ; M. GranierJ 
de Cassagnac gives 235 as the approximate number {Histoire des Girondit 

ii. 30)- 

3 Histoire des Girondins, ii. 502-516. 
* " They were not all of the dregs of the people," the Abb6 Barruell 

says of the massacrers at the Carmes; "their accent, their speeches be-! 
trayed amongst them adepts whom the philosophy of the Clubs and thej 
schools of the day, far more than boorish ignorance, had inflamed against^ 
the priests" {Histoire du ClergS, p. 248). 



de la Varenne says that Manuel had ordered gunpowder to 
be mixed with their brandy, so as to keep them in a state of 
frenzy ; but the Two Friends of Liberty declare that they were 
drugged : 

" It is incontestable that the drink that had been distributed 
to the assassins was mingled with a particular drug that inspired 
terrible fury, and left to those who took it no possibility of a 
return to reason. We knew a porter who for twenty years had 
carried out errands ... in the Rue des Noyers. He had always 
enjoyed the highest reputation, and every inhabitant of the 
district blindly confided the most valuable parcels to him. . . . 
He was dragged off on the 3rd of September to the Convent of 
Saint-Firmin, where he was forced to do the work of executioner. 
We saw him six days later when we were ourselves proscribed, 
and, needing a man who could be trusted to help us move secretly, 
we addressed ourselves to him. He had returned to his post ; 
he was trembUng in every limb, foaming at the mouth, asking 
incessantly for wine, without ever slaking his thirst and without 
falUng a victim to ordinary drunkenness. ' They gave me plenty 
to drink,' he said, * but I worked well ; I killed more than twenty 
priests on my own account.' A thousand other speeches of this 
kind escaped him, and each sentence was interrupted by these 
words, ' I am thirsty.' In order that he might not feel incUned 
to slake his thirst with our blood, we gave him as much wine as 
he wished. He died a month later without ever having slept 
in the interval." ^ 

This circumstance explains the fact that at moments the 
assassins showed themselves capable of humanity — evidently, 
when the first effects of the drug had begun to wear off, they 
returned more or less to a normal frame of mind. Thus the two 
cut-throats, who conducted the Chevalier de Bertrand safely 
home, insisted on going upstairs with him to contemplate the 
joy of his family. The rescuers of Jourgniac de St. Meard — a 
MarseUlais, a mason, and a wig-maker — refused the reward 
offered them with the words, " We do not do this for money." ^ 
Later on Beauheu met these men at the house of St. Meard. 
" What struck me," he says, " was that through all their ferocious 
remarks I perceived generous sentiments, men determined to 
undertake anything to protect those whose cause they had 
embraced. The greater number of these maniacs, dupes of the 
Machiavellian beings who set them in motion, are dead or dying 
in misery." ^ 

* Deux Amis, viii. 296. 

• Mon Agonie de trente-huit Heures, by Jourgniac de St. M^rd. 

" Beaulieu, iv. 109. 


THE r6lE of the PEOPLE 

From the point of view of the leaders, the populace proved 
disappointing during the massacres of September, for although 
it had not been thought advisable to march the Faubourgs en 
masse on the prisons, it was hoped that when the moment came a 
certain proportion of the Paris mob would join in the kiUing as 
they had done at the massacre of St. Barthelemy. " In spite 
of all the activity displayed," says Prudhomme, " the 30,000 
victims, designated by Danton himself, did not find enough 
executioners. They (the leaders) counted on the people ; they 
accredited them with more ferocity. They hoped that they 
would not remain idle spectators oifive to six thousand ^ massacres 
executed before their eyes ; they supposed that they would 
themselves strike en masse, and that, after having emptied the 
prisons, they would go into the houses and repeat the same 
scenes, but they could never succeed in exasperating the multitude 
to this extent." ^ 

On the contrary, even by the mob assembled around the 
prisons, every single acquittal recorded was hailed with acclama- 
tions, often with rapturous applause — a prisoner who made a 
dash for liberty was certain to find the crowd opening out to 
let him through. The RoyaUst, Weber, could hardly extricate 
himself from the embraces of the bystanders, amongst whom 
savage-looking harridans, concerned for his white silk stockings, 
cried out reprovingly to the guards who led him, " Take care 
there ! You are making Monsieur walk in the gutter ! " Yet 
that the mob, obedient to the suggestions of the leaders, excited 
with drink and attacked by that strange insanity familiar to all 
who have studied " crowd psychology," did at other moments 
aUow itself to be carried away into applauding the massacres, 
did indeed throughout stand idly by and utter only occasional 
words of protest, is undeniable. But were these " the people " ? 
A thousand times no ! We have already seen whence they were 
recruited ; the true men and women of the people remained far 
from such scenes as these. 

" I will testify to Europe," cries Bigot de Sainte-Croix, " that 
the People of my country, that those of the capital, did not ordain, 
did not desire these massacres, that the People did not even see 
them committed. The People closed their windows, their work- 
rooms, their shops ; they took refuge in the furthest comers of 
their dwellings so as to shut their ears and eyes to the uproar, 
and to the sight of those beings, strangers to the People and to 
human nature, who, armed with knives, sabres, and clubs, their 

* Prudhomme, like Peltier, over-estimated the number of victims. 
* Crimes de la Revolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 107. 


faces and their arms stained with blood, carried through the 
streets heads and fragments of mutilated bodies, and deafened 
themselves with the ferocious hymn (the 'Carmagnole'?) that had 
been dictated to them. Ah ! Why should the People again be 
calumniated ? . . ." ^ 

And Mortimer Temaux adds : " Yes, it is lying to history, 
it is betraying the sacred cause of humanity, it is deserting the 
most obvious interests of democracy, to calumniate the people, 
to take for them a few hundred wretches . . . going basely to 
seek their victims one by one in the ceUs of the Abbaye or of La 
Force. . . . The people, the true people, composed of honest 
and industrious workmen, warm-hearted and patriotic, of young 
bourgeois with generous aspirations and indomitable courage, 
did not mingle for a moment with the scoundrels recruited by 
MaUlard . . . the people, the true people, were all at the Champ 
de Mars or in front of the recruiting platforms, offering their 
best blood for the defence of the country ; they would have been 
ashamed to shed that of defenceless victims." ^ 

But, it will be urged, why did the people of Paris not interfere ? 
Why, instead of retiring into their houses and shutting their ears 
and eyes, did they not rush out into the streets and arrest the 
murderers ? instead of mustering at the Champ de Mars, 
march on the prisons and deUver the victims ? 

" All Paris let it happen (laissa faire)," Madame Roland 
writes indignantly ; "all Paris is accursed in my eyes, and I hope 
no longer that hberty may be estabhshed amongst cowards 
insensible to the worst outrages that could be committed against 
Nature and humanity, cold spectators of crimes that the courage 
of fifty armed men could easily have prevented." ^ 

Madame Roland well knew the true explanation of the people's 
conduct — ^her own behaviour during the massacres we shall refer 
to later; she was perfectly aware that it was the cowardice of 
the authorities, of her friend Petion, of " the virtuous Roland " 
himself that made it possible for the Commune to carry out its 
designs unhindered, that prevented the people from interfering. 

" If the people," says Prudhomme, " did not put a stop to 
the murders committed in their presence, it was that, on seeing 
that their representatives, their magistrates, and the staff of their 
armed force made no attempt to prevent this butchery, they 
could only beUeve that these were acts of justice of a new kind." * 

Here, then, is the explanation. In the first place, the people 
of Paris were told — and in some cases made to believe — that the 

* Histoire de la Conspiration du lo AoUt, by Bigot de Sainte-Croix, 
p. 104, " Mortimer Ternaux, iii. 185. 

2 Memoires de Mme. Roland, i. no. 

* Criffies de la Revolution, by Prudhomme, iv. 130. 



massacres were a necessary act of precaution in view of the 
conspiracy amongst the prisoners to massacre the citizens; 
secondly, the massacres were carried out officially under the 
eyes of the authorities, presided over by officials wearing their 
municipal scarves,^ and executed in some instances by assassins 
masquerading in the uniform of the National Guards ; ^ and 
thirdly, the people were prevented by armed force from interfering. 
We know from the researches of M. Mortimer Temaux and M. 
Granier de Cassagnac that Santerre, the commander-general, 
was authorized to surround the prisons with troops during the 
massacres, " in order to prevent accidents," ^ and the nature of 
these accidents is elsewhere very clearly revealed. Thus, as we 
have already seen at the Cannes, a cordon of police was provided 
to protect the assassins from the crowd, and Senart relates that 
the same precaution was demanded at La Force : " The butcher 
Legendre went to find one of the commanders of the Arsenal, 
and asked him for two hundred armed men to go to La Force 
in order to second the murderers and protect them, because the 
number of prisoners was very great and there were not enough 
massacrers " — a request with which the honest commander 
indignantly refused to comply.* But the fact that the massacrers 
were given armed protection during their hideous task received 
additional confirmation just a hundred years later. In the 
Intermediaire des Chercheurs et Curieux for April 20, i892,j 
M. Alfred B6gis related that he had recently acquired a copy oj 
a pamphlet, by Garat, that had belonged to Sergent, who, witl 
Panis, the brother-in-law of Santerre, had been entrusted wit 
the police and the prisons as members of the Comite de Surveil- 
lance of the Commune. Now in this pamphlet, which w£ 
annotated throughout by the hand of Sergent, Garat asked tl 
question why the people allowed the massacres of September 
" How is it that so much blood flowed under other blades th£ 
that of justice without the legislators, without the magistrate 
of the people, without the whole people themselves smnmoning 
the public forces to the place of these sanguinary scenes ? '* 

To this question Sergent made reply in the margin : '* Th 
massacrers of the Ahhaye asked to he protected during their dreadfu 
work by a guard which was granted to them." The mob of Pj 
collected round the prisons had then attempted to interfere 

1 Beaulieu, iv. 119 ; Deux Amis, viii. 308. 

2 Evidence of eye-witness, M. de la Roserie, who was present at th< 
massacre at the Carmes, and stated that " half the assassins employe ' 
there were, by an infamous prostitution, in the uniform of the Nations 
Guards" {Memoires de ThUhault, i. 319). 

3 Extract from the registers of the sections of Paris published bj 
M. Mortimer Temaux, Histoire de la Terreur, iii. 480. 

* Mimoires de Senart (edition de Lescure), p. 29. 


since the murderers were obliged to ask for protection, and this 
was the kind of " accident " the armed forces were sent out to 
prevent ! 

Undoubtedly we must blame the soldiers for obeying this 
monstrous order, but it should be remembered that all the 
normal elements in the army were collected on the frontier, and 
that the only forces remaining in Paris were those of which the 
revolutionary leaders had made sure — ^the confederates from 
Marseilles, or Brest, or the camp at Soissons. The call to arms 
had thus admirably served their purpose by ridding them of all 
those loyal and patriotic citizens who might have been expected 
to prevent bloodshed. 


The truth is, then, that the only men who attributed the 
massacres of September to the people of Paris were the men 
who themselves had devised and ordered them. With con- 
summate hypocrisy the Commune declared that it had sent 
emissaries to the prisons to oppose disorders, but that they 
could not succeed in calming the people. Apart, however, from 
the evidence of eye-witnesses, who unanimously asserted that 
the emissaries of the Commune incited the assassins to greater 
violence, we have further documentary proof of the Commune's 
guilt in the atrocious proclamation pubUcly sent out by it on 
the 3rd of September to the provinces, urging them to carry out 
the same butchery all over France, and passing on to them the 
same word of command that had served in Paris as a pretext 
for the massacres. 

" The Commune of Paris hastens to inform its brothers in all 

the departments that a portion of the ferocious conspirators 

detained in the prisons have been put to death by the people : 

acts of justice which seemed to it indispensable in order to restrain 

by terror the legions of traitors concealed within its walls at the 

moment when it was about to march on the enemy ; and without 

doubt the whole nation, after the long series of treacheries which 

have led it to the edge of the abyss, will hasten to adopt this 

measure so necessary to pubUc safety, and all the French will cry 

like the Parisians, ' We will march on the enemy, but we will 

not leave behind us brigands to murder our wives and children.' 

" Signed — Duplain, Panis, Sergent, Lenfant, 

JouRDEUiL, Marat, Vami du peuple, 

Deforgues, Duffort, Cally." 

That Marat was the principal author of the proclamation 
cannot be doubted, but it was sent forth under the countersign 



of Danton, the Minister of Justice. To Danton, then, attaches^ 
the greater blame, for Marat cannot be regarded as a respons- 
ible human being, whilst Danton throughout the Revolution^ 
retained full possession of his faculties. " That Marat," says 
Mortimer Temaux, " the most shameless Uar and the most daring 
forger who ever existed (we make use of the exact expressions 
that MM. Michelet and Louis Blanc employ with regard to this 
man), that Marat, we say, should have drawn up this frightful] 
circular, and on his own authority should have appended to itj 
the signatures of his colleagues, is strictly possible. But the twaj 
men who can never clear themselves of having co-operated ii 
the propagation of this bloody work are Danton and Fabre 
d'figlantine, the Minister of Justice and his secretary." ^ 

It is doubtful, indeed, whether Danton wished to clear himself j 
of the responsibiUty of the massacres of September, or of the] 
proposal to repeat them in the provinces. Now that the monarchy] 
was overthrown, Danton knew that he had nothing to fear inj 
avowing his share in the crimes of the Revolution ; securely i 
encamped on the strongest side he was able to win that reputation:) 
for audacity which has aureoled him in the eyes of posterity.^ 

The massacres of September were, therefore, primarily the] 
work of the Anarchists, but they were condoned, if not actually] 
assisted, by the other intrigues, as we shall now see. 

r6lE of the ORL:eANISTES 

On this point little remains to be said, for by September olj 
1792 the Orleanistes had ceased to be a distinct party, and had 
become indistinguishable from the Anarchists. According to 
many contemporaries, Danton and Marat, in promoting anarchy, 
were working solely in the interests of the Due d' Orleans ; 
Montjoie believes that it was in order to effect the change o|| 
dynasty the massacres were devised. 

But apart from these vague charges, there can be no doubtl 
that the Due d'Orleans had some secret connection with the] 
leaders ; of this the murder of the Princesse de Lamballe by hii 
agents is sufficient proof. Moreover, it was precisely at this] 
moment — on the 2nd of September — ^that Marat pubUcly de- 
manded 15,000 francs from the duke for the printing of several ^ 

1 Mortimer Ternaux, iii. 309. 

2 According to Louis Philippe, Danton frankly admitted his responsi- 
bility for the September days. The future King, then the Due de Chartres, 
related that when on a visit to Paris from the frontier he met Danton and] 
ventured to blame the authors of the massacres. To this remonstrance; 
Danton replied : "It was I who did it. All the Parisians are jean foutres. 
It was necessary to put a river of blood between them and the imigr^s " 
{U&cit du Due d'Aumale, quoted by Taine, La Revolution, vi. 30). 


of his pamphlets,^ and apparently obtained it, for henceforth 
we shall find him always favourably disposed to " the citizen 
Egahte " ^ — the name the Due d'Orleans soon after assumed 
when seeking election as deputy to the Convention. 

But whatever were the ultimate intentions of these men who 
devised the massacres — and on this point no one can speak with 
certainty — their immediate purpose can be expressed in one 
word only — anarchy. 

r6le of the GIRONDINS 

The part played by the Girondins in the massacres of 
September was merely one of criminal connivance. With the 
exception of Petion, whose sympathies were undoubtedly 
Orleaniste, no member of this faction seems to have taken an 
active part in the movement. Vergniaud, indeed, loudly de- 
nounced the arbitrary arrests that preceded the massacres, but 
since by this time the walls of Paris were already placarded by 
Marat with invectives against the deputies of the Gironde,^ this 
was perhaps less an act of courage than a measure of self-defence. 
At any rate, from the moment the massacres began, not one 
member of this faction attempted to interfere. 

On the 5th of September, whilst the third day of the massacre 
at La Force was in progress, Duhem afterwards related, he dined 
at Petion's house with Brissot, Gensonne, and several other 
deputies. " Towards the end of dinner the folding doors opened, 
and I was surprised to see two cut-throats enter, their hands 
dripping with blood. They came to ask the orders of the mayor 
concerning the eighty prisoners who still remained to be massacred 
at La Force ; Petion gave them drinks and sent them away, 
telling them to do everything for the best." * 

As to Madame Roland, who afterwards cursed the people of 
Paris for their non-intervention, how was she employed ? On 
the evening of September 2, she relates, when the butchery had 
begun, " a crowd of about 200 men, violently agitated," came to 
the Ministry of the Interior to ask for arms ; we know from other 
sources that they were the massacrers,^ who, imagining Roland 
to be one of their employers, asked also for the payment of 
their salary, and, according to Felhemesi, they received it. But 
Felhemesi as a Dantoniste need not be beUeved. At any rate, 
after this frightful scene, whilst the massacres were in full swing 

* Prudhomme, Revolutions de Paris, xiii. 522. 

* Beaulieu, iv. 145. / 
' Dr. Moore, Journal of a Residence in France, i. 256. ^ 

* Procds des Vingt-Deux, evidence of Duhem. According to the Deux 
Amis de la LibertS, viii, 304, the assassins entered with heads in their hands. 

' MSmoires de Sinart (edition de Lescure), p. 34. 


next day at La Force, the Abbaye, and the Tour Saint-Bernard, 
Madame Roland saw fit to give a luncheon-party — or, as the two 
o'clock meal in those days was called, a " dinner " — ^to a number 
of her friends and acquaintances, amongst whom " the events of 
the day formed the topic of conversation." One of the guests 
(afterwards disowned by Madame Roland) was the Prussian 
Baron Clootz, whom we shall meet later on as the apostle of 
" universal brotherhood," and who distinguished himself during 
the massacres of September by inventing the word " to septem- 
berize " — it was a matter of regret, he afterwards declared, that 
they had not " septemberized " enough.^ 

The same day, however, the virtuous Roland ventured to 
utter a feeble protest against the continuance of the massacres. 
Beginning with a lengthy dissertation on the necessity for con- 
trolling the irrepressible indignation of the people — ^who, accord- 
ing to Madame Roland's later writings, he well knew were not 
the authors of these crimes, — amidst redundant eulogies of his 
own courage and disinterestedness, Roland thus described the 
massacres of September 2 : " Yesterday was a day over the 
events of which we should perhaps draw a veil ; I know that the 
people, terrible in their vengeance, yet bring to it a sort of 
justice," but now the moment had come for " the legislators to 
speak, for the people to listen, and for the reign of law to be 
re-established." ^ 

The fact is that something had happened the evening before 
which made it highly desirable, from the Girondins' point of view, 
that the activities of the Commune should be restrained. Robes- 
pierre had been thwarted by Danton in his plan of including 
Roland and Brissot in the Hsts of proscriptions made out for the 
massacrers, but he had not abandoned all hope of his prey. 
Under cover of the general confusion that reigned in Paris on 
the 2nd of September the tiger-cat had seized the opportunity 
to spring. Supported by his ally Billaud-Varenne, Robespierre ^ 
presented himself at the evening meeting held by the Council- 
General of the Commune, and openly accused Brissot and 
powerful party of conspiring to place the Duke of Brunswick 01 
the throne of France.^ This accusation has been represente 
by the antagonists of Robespierre as a mere fable invented b] 
him to bring about the downfall of Brissot, but, as we hav< 

1 /. P. Brissot d, ses Commettants, p. 52 ; Beaulieu, v. 247. 

2 Buchez et Roux, xvii. 382. 
' Proems verhaux de la Commune de Paris, date of September 2. Th« 

precise words employed by Robespierre are not given in this report, but 
are recorded in part by Peltier {Revolution du 10 AoiXt, ii. 234) ; it is Hamc 
{Vie de Robespierre, i. 415) who states that Robespierre used the expressic 
" a powerful party." On this accusation see also Beaulieu, iv. 147. 
Moniteur, xiii. 617, 620-622 ; Mortimer Ternaux, iii. 205. 


already seen, the intrigue in favour of Brunswick was by no 
means fabulous — on the contrary, it was a matter of common 
knowledge. Had not Carra pubUcly proclaimed it six weeks 
earlier in his journal ? And was not Carra still the trusted 
confidant of Brissot and the Rolands ? Robespierre, then, was 
perfectly just in accusing Brissot ; two days later, in private con- 
versation with Petion — ^whose own intrigues he was apparently 
far from suspecting — ^he repeated his conviction that Brissot 
was on the side of Brunswick.^ That by his timely denunciation 
he hoped to envelop the Brissotins in the massacres we cannot 
doubt, yet we must admit that in this he showed himself more 
logical than the other members of the Commune. For if any 
people were to be put to death on the suspicion of coUusion with 
the Prussians, should they not be the members of the party stiU 
at liberty who had definitely proposed to hand the country over 
to the head of the invading armies, rather than a defenceless 
crowd of priests, unarmed men, women, and children safely 
imprisoned behind bolts and bars ? 

Brissot 's reply to this accusation of Robespierre was char- 
acteristic of the ostrich poUcy displayed by the Girondins. 

" Yesterday, Sunday," he wrote to his fellow-citizens, " I 
was denounced at the Commune of Paris, as also a part of the 
deputies of the Gironde, and other men equally virtuous. We 
were accused of wishing to give France over to the Duke of 
Brunswick, and to have received millions from him, and to have 
planned to escape to England. I, the ertemal enemy of kings, 
who did not wait till 1789 to manifest my hatred towards them ; 
I the partisan of a duke ! Better perish a thousand times than 
acknowledge such a despot ! " etc.^ 

But considering that before 1789 Brissot had violently de- 
nounced in print " the abominable crime of attacking monarchy," 
that he had described Ravaillac and Damiens as " monsters 
vomited by hell," ^ and that only six weeks before the massacres 
of September — on July 25, 1792 — he had declared that the blade 
of the law should strike any one who attempted to establish a 
RepubUc ; considering, moreover, that he had never disassociated 
himself from Carra, the avowed partisan of Brunswick, Brissot 's 
defence was far from convincing. 

The Brissotins, then, constituted a very real danger to the 
country at the moment when it was threatened by foreign 
invasion, but we should admire Robespierre's courage and patriot- 
ism in attacking them more if he had not waited so long to shoot 

* Discours de Potion sur l' Accusation intentie contre Maximilien Robes- 
pierre, p. 16. 

" Moniteur, xiii. 623. 

» Les Moyens d'adoucir la Rigueur des Lois pinales en France, 1781. 


his bolt. The intrigue with Prussia had been going on for at 
least eighteen months — why had he not exposed it earlier ? Why, 
on the pubUcation of Carra's preposterous plea for Brunswick, 
did not Robespierre arise and denounce him as a traitor, or at 
least demand his expulsion from the ranks of " patriots " at the 
Jacobin Club ? But no, Robespierre had hitherto maintained 
complete silence with regard to all three intrigues — the Orleanistes, 
English Jacobins, and Prussians — and had even, as we have seen, 
joined in ridicuHng Ribes for denouncing them. The explanation 
lies undoubtedly in Robespierre's natural timidity ; it was never 
his way to fight his opponents, but always to remain quiescent 
until an opportunity offered for kiUing them outright — ^the tiger- 
cat knew better than to show his claws before the moment came 
to spring. The massacres of September had appeared to be the 
propitious moment, but Danton barred the way ; next time he 
was to say with tears, " I cannot save them ! " 

The Girondins well realized the danger that had threatened 
them, and therefore, after condoning the massacres, ended by 
denouncing them. But if they now deprecated the reign of 
anarchy, it was principally because they saw the movement they 
had helped to produce turning against themselves, and the abyss 
into which they had precipitated the monarchy yawning beneath 
their own feet. 


The news of the massacres of September filled the sane portion 
of the English people with indignation, and alienated even those 
who, misled by the propaganda of the Whigs and the revolu- 
tionary societies in England, still retained a lingering sympathy 
with the supposed " struggle for Uberty " taking place across the 
Channel. " The late horrors in France," Mr. Burges writes to 
Lord Auckland on the 2ist of September, " have at least been 
attended with one good consequence, for they have turned the 
tide of general opinion here very suddenly. French principles, 
and even Frenchmen, are daily becoming more unpopular, and 
I think it not impossible that in a short time the impudence of 
some of these levellers will work so much on the tempers of our. 
people as to make England neither a pleasant nor a secure^ 
residence for them." 

A messenger from Paris reported to Lord Auckland on the, 
loth of September that the details passed all conception. "It* 
is impossible for me to express the horror that I still feel ; I 
could not have believed till now that human nature was capable 
of such abominations." Lord Auckland himself is " so affected 
that he " can hardly write of it "—all Gibbon's history, though 


the bloodiest book he ever read, " does not contain a story of 
such unprovoked and wanton cruelty." 

Lord Stanhope, however, had nothing but pitying contempt 
for squeamishness that could recoil at such scenes as these. 
" The French Revolution," he wrote on September 18, " has 
frightened some weak minds, Mr. Paine's works others. And the 
late events in France have intimidated many. However despicable 
such feelings may he, abstractly considered, when they are pretty 
general, they must be treated with some respect." ^ 

Amongst weak minds we must certainly include those of 
almost the entire population, for these " despicable feelings " 
were more than " pretty general " ; they were shared by all 
classes of the community. The sympathies of the nation were 
with the victims, not with the authors of the Revolution, and the 
unhappy emigres, fl5dng from the horrors of Paris to the shores 
of England, met with an enthusiastic welcome. One must have 
hved through three years of revolution, says one of these emigres, 
amidst Girondins, Jacobins, and others, to understand what the 
first glimpse of the EngHsh conveyed, the ecstasy of arriving in 
this " isle of serenity " from the regions of terror : "it was the 
gentle awakening of the soul that, long tormented by the vision 
of monsters and furies, comes out of this frightful dream." ^ 
Once again humanity and compassion became a reaUty. Every 
boatload of priests was awaited by a sympathetic crowd ; even 
the sailors, seeing in these men the martyrs of reUgion, fell on 
their knees before them on the beach to ask their blessing.^ 
" I was a witness," says Peltier, " of the zeal and eagerness with 
which all classes of society welcomed these unhappy pastors. 
From the throne to the simplest cabin, everywhere was their 
asylum, everywhere was consolation." In London a subscrip- 
tion raised by Burke, Wilmot, Stanley, and others met with an 
immense response ; the poor Uke the rich brought their contribu- 
tions, and those who could not give money gave the work of 
their hands ; potato-sellers insisted on providing the priests 
with their wares for no remuneration, seamstresses offered their 
services for nothing, artisans worked overtime to earn money 
for them ; a day labourer, touched to tears by their appearance, 
cried out, " I am very poor but I can work for two ; give me 
one of these priests and I will feed hirn ! " * It was, then, only 
amongst an infinitesimal minority, composed of such men as 
Lord Stanhope and the middle-class malcontents who formed the 

* Life of Charles, third Earl of Stanhope, by Ghita Stanhope and G. P. 
Gooch, p. 120. 

2 Histoire du Clerge, by L'Abbe Barruel, p. 349. 

' Histoire de la Revolution du 10 Aout, by Peltier, ii. 391. 

* Barruel, op. cit. pp. 353, 354. 


revolutionary societies of London and of the manufacturing 
towns of the north, that the Revolution found sympathizers. 
By these associations the massacres of September were greeted 
with frenzied approbation. On the 27th of September a long 
address of congratulation was forwarded to the Jacobin Club of 
Paris by the members of the Constitutional Society and the 
Reformation Society of Manchester, the Revolution Society of 
Norwich, the " Constitutional Whigs," the " Independents and 
Friends of the People." A few passages of this precious effusion 
must be quoted : ^ 

" Frenchmen, our numbers may seem small compared to tb 
rest of the nation, but know that they are steadily increasing . 
we can tell you with certainty, free men and friends, that educa- 
tion is making rapid progress amongst us . . . that men as 
to-day, ' What is Uberty ? What are our rights ? ' Frenchmen,! 
you are free already, but Britons are preparing to become so 
Divested at last of these cruel prejudices industriously inculcat 
in our hearts by vile courtiers, instead of our natural enemies^; 
we see in the French our fellow-citizens of the world, the childreni 
of that universal Father who created us to love and help eac 
other, not to hate and murder one another at the command o: 
feeble or ambitious kings or corrupt ministers. In seeking o 
real enemies we find them in the partisans of that aristocrac; 
which rends our bosoms, aristocracy hitherto the poison of 
countries on earth ; you acted wisely in banishing it fro: 
France. . . . Dear friends, you are fighting for the happiness o! 
all humanity. Can there be any loss to you, however bitter, 
compared to the glorious and unprecedented privilege of being 
able to say, ' The universe is free ; tyrants and tyrannies are 
no more, peace reigns on earth, and it is to the French we 
owe it.' " 

To these advocates of universal brotherhood it was a matter 
of poignant regret and bitter shame that the British Government 
refused to throw in its lot with the organizers of the late massacr 
in the prisons by taking up arms in defence of the French Revol 
tion. To their profuse apologies on this subject the Fren 
Jacobins, under Herault de Sechelles, repHed : " BeUeve, genero 
EngUshmen, that in preserving this demeanour (of neutraUt 
you are none the less joining with us in the work of unive 
liberty. Leave us to make a few more steps along the cou 
where you were our precursors, and let us rejoice beforehand i 
a common hope for the epoch, not far distant, when the interests 

* I have been unable to find this correspondence in English. These 
passages are taken from the Histoire Socialiste de la Revolution, volume 
La Convention, by Jean Jaurds, p. 196 and following, and from Danton 
imigrS, by Dr. Robinet. 



of Europe and of the human race will invite both nations to hold 
out the hand of friendship to each other." ^ The hope was 
echoed by the Society for Constitutional Reform of London, 
which now wrote expressing the belief that, after the example 
given by the French, " revolutions would become easy," and that 
" before long the French would be writing to congratulate the 
National Convention of England." ^ 

The Jacobins of Paris were ready to promise more than this ; 
they intended, they declared, " to seal an eternal aUiance " 
with their EngUsh brothers, who had only to let them know that 
their liberty was being attacked for the " victorious phalanxes " 
of their French allies to " cross the Straits of Dover and fly to 
their defence." ^ 

Thus was the suggestion calmly entertained by our exponents 
of universal brotherhood in 1792, that the revolutionary horde 
of cut-throats and assassins, who had just carried out the 
massacres of September, should land on our shores and produce 
the same horrors in England as had taken place in France. 

The anti-patriotism of a section of so-called " democracy " 
in England has never been better exempUfied. To men of this 
mentaUty it matters not whether it is with democracy or auto- 
cracy abroad that they strike a league of friendship ; the enemies 
of their country can always make sure of their support. Until 
the Germans of to-day England never had bitterer enemies than 
the Jacobins of France. Hatred of England, of the English 
character, of English ideas of Hberty, was one of the first tenets 
of their poUtical creed. In this they differed fundamentally 
from the earlier revolutionaries, the men who had framed the 
Constitution of 1791, and also from the Girondins, who no doubt 
entertained a sincere admiration for England ; the Jacobins, 
into whose hands the power was now passing, were, with the 
exception of Danton, the sworn foes not only of the English 
Government but of EngUsh " democracy " ; they repeatedly 
declared that they despised Mr. Fox as much as they hated 
Mr. Pitt.* 

The leading spirit of the anti - English campaign was 
undoubtedly Robespierre ; always the opponent of Inter- 
nationaUsm — hence his ground of accusation later on against 
the Prussian Clootz — he never concealed his distrust of foreign 
sympathizers with the French Revolution ; four months earlier, 
supported by Collot d'Herbois, he had deprecated the corre- 
spondence of the Jacobins with their brothers in Manchester,^ 

^ Date of November 7, 1792. * Date of November 10, 1792. 

3 Date of November 28, 1792. 
• Playf air's History of Jacobinism, p. 384. 
/ ^ S&ances des Jacobins, date of June 4, 1792. 


and again in September it was he who opposed the election of 
Dr. Priestly to the Convention.^ 

For the present, however, the French Jacobins were quite 
ready to make use of their EngUsh allies ; hypocritical professions 
of friendship cost nothing, and met with very substantial rewards. 
Already in April, as we have seen, a subscription had been raised 
in aid of the French Revolution, and it seems probable that 
further sums were forthcoming during the course of the summer. 
In August Dr. Moore heard with increduUty of " the great 
number of English guineas now in circulation in Paris," which, 
as usual, were attributed to " the Court of Great Britain," whose 
object was to excite sedition in France.^ If these mysterious 
guineas were not, as Dr. Moore beUeved, mjrthical, they were 
obviously those of Orleans or of the English Jacobins. At any 
rate, it is to the latter source that the " EngHsh gold " which 
arrived in Paris three weeks later can, with certainty, be traced, 
for the address of congratulation on the massacres of September, 
forwarded by Lord Sempill and three other members in the name 
of the London Constitutional Society, was accompanied by a 
present of looo pairs of shoes for the army and J^iooo in money? 
Besides this an immense quantity of arms was provided by the 
English Jacobins from the manufactories of Birmingham and 
Sheffield, for which a further pubUc subscription was raised by 
means of an appeal in the newspapers to " all those who favoured 
the cause of liberty in France against the infamous conspiracy 
of crowned brigands." * 

It is, moreover, in the late summer of 1792 that, for the first 
time, we find EngUshmen personally co-operating in the re- 
volutionary movement in Paris. Amongst these was Thomas 
Paine, who left the shores of England amidst the jeers and hisses 
of the crowd : "I beUeve had we remained much longer," a 
fellow-traveller remarks, "they would have pelted him with 
stones from the beach." ^ In spite of the fact that his face 
reminded Madame Roland of "a blackberry powdered with 
flour " — for Paine was constantly inebriated — the exponent of 
" The Rights of Man " was received with enthusiasm by the 
Girondins, and through their influence succeeded in becoming 
a member of the Convention. 

Besides Paine a band of English Jacobins arrived in Paris 
the same time. " Dr. Priestley," Mr. Burges writes to Lore 

* MSmoires de Mme. Roland, ii. 300. 
2 Journal of a Residence in France, i. 134, 
' Arthur Young, The Example of France, Appendix, p. 3. 

* Oswald's Speech at the Jacobin Club, September 30, 1792. 

* J. Mason to J. B. Burges, letter dated September 13, 1792 {Fortesc 
Historical MSS. ii. 316). 


Auckland on September 4, "is also there, and is looked upon as 
the great adviser of the present ministers, being consulted by > 
them on all occasions. There are also eight or ten other English \/ 
and Scotch who work with the Jacobins, and in great measure 
conduct their present manoeuvres. I understand these gentlemen 
at present are employed in writing a justification of democracy 
and an invective against monarchy in the abstract, which is to 
be printed at Paris, and distributed through England and Ireland. 
The names of some of them are Watts and Wilson of Manchester, 
Oswald a Scotsman, Stone an EngUshman, and Mackintosh who 
wrote against Burke." ^ 

All these men, then, were in Paris during the massacres of 
September, and not one uttered a word of protest. Oswald, 
indeed, in his tirades to the Jacobins, with whom he sought to 
ingratiate himself by insulting his king and country, showed 
himself more violent than them aU, vied with Marat in his in- 
vectives against " royal tigers," and rivalled Hebert in his foul 
accusations against the imprisoned Queen of France.^ 

This being so, are we to regard it as impossible that English- 
men were present at the massacres in the prisons ? One would 
wiUingly remove this stain from our national character, but if 
we are to know the exact truth about the intrigues of the French 
Revolution, one cannot pass over the accusation in silence. The 
evidence on which it rests is, firstly, that of Jourdan, president 
of the Section des Quatre Nations, who was sent to the Abbaye 
during the massacre and stated that he saw two EngUshmen 
plying the assassins with drink ;3 and secondly, Prudhomme, 
who says that Englishmen were seen at La Force amongst the 
commanders of the butchery, and that " these Englishmen were 
the guests of the Due d'Orleans ; they dined with him immediately 
after the death of the Princesse de Lamballe." * 

These, then, were the EngUshmen dining at the Palais Royal 
when the princess's head was carried under the windows. The 
only one of the number whose name is known was a certain 
Mr. Lindsay, who described the scene with horror to Mr. Burges 
after his return to England two days later, and whom it is 
impossible to suspect of collusion with such atrocities. But the 
contemporary Playfair distinctly states that the guests of the 
Due d'Orleans at this particular dinner were " EngUsh demo- 
crats." ^ This suppHes the key to the whole mystery. Since 

* Correspondence oj Lord Auckland, ii. 438. 

* Oswald's Speech to the Jacobins on September 30, 1792 (Aulard's 
Stances des Jacobins, iv. 346). 

3 "Declaration d'Antoine Gabriel Aim6 Jourdan," in MSmoires sur les 
Journees de Septembre, p. 154. 

* Criikes de la Rivolution, iv. 123. 

^ Playfair's History of Jacobinism, p. 501. 



we know that the EngUsh democrats then in Paris were ardently 
in sympathy with all the excesses of the Revolution, that their 
colleagues in England wrote letters of congratulation, and that 
Lx)rd Stanhope, one of their most influential members, applauded 
the massacres, why should they not have personally encouraged 
the assassins ? From applauding at a distance to assisting on 
the spot is surely but a step. 

Moreover, their presence at the Due d' Orleans' dinner coin- 
cides exactly with Montjoie's assertion that certain Enghsh 
revolutionaries, notably Lord Stanhope, were in league with the 
Orleanistes. We know that precisely at this moment Lord 
Stanhope was in correspondence with Richard Sayre, or Sayer, 
the EngUsh agent in Paris, who had been deputed by the revolu- 
tionary societies of England to supply arms to the Jacobins of 
France ; ^ and the exceedingly compromising letters addressed by 
Sayre to Lord Stanhope — ingenuously published by the latter's 
admiring biographers ^ — show clearly that the EngUsh revolution- 
aries in Paris, of whom Lord Stanhope was the leading spirit, were 
engaged in some guilty intrigue with the enemies of their country. 

The massacres of September cannot, therefore, be regarded 
as solely the work of the French ; they wereMevised and organized 
by the Spaniard, Marat, in co-operation with Frenchmen, executed 
by Frenchmen, ItaUans, and Germans, applauded by the Prussian 
Clootz, applauded and actively assisted by EngUshmen. Again, 
as on the loth of August, it is therefore to the doctrines that 
inspired them, not to the temperament of the nation amongst 
which they occurred, that the horrors which took place must be 


Whilst Anarchists, Orleanistes, Girondins, and EngUsh 
Jacobins were fighting for the mastery in Paris, Prussia played 
her part in the final ruin of the French monarchy. The cannon- 
ade of Valmy — it cannot be described as a battle — that on the 
20th of September checked the advance of the alUed armies on 
the capital, is one of the enigmas of history which will never 
perhaps be entirely solved. Pro-revolutionary historians have 
endeavoured to explain the retreat of the best-trained troops of 
Europe before the undiscipUned revolutionary army by the state 
of the weather, the muddy condition of the ground, by the fact 
that dysentery had broken out amongst the Prussians, or merely 
by the irresistible valour inspired by democratic doctrines. 

* The arms referred to by Oswald in his speech (Aulard's Siances des 
Jacobins, iv. 346). 

2 Life of Charles, third Earl of Stanhope, by Ghita Stanhope and G 
Gooch, p. 120. 



These legends have now been almost universally accepted as 
fact, but in the minds of well-informed contemporaries no doubt 
exists that some further explanation must be sought for the 
check to the allied armies at Valmy and their subsequent retreat. 

Thus Lord Auckland, writing to Sir Morton Eden from the 
Hague on October 19, 1792, hazards the opinion that " a com- 
plete victory (for the allies) might have been on the 20th (at 
Valmy), if the royal personage who was present had not prevented 
the engagement for unknown reasons." A note adds that this 
royal personage was the King of Prussia, but Fersen declares 
that the King of Prussia wished to attack, and that it was only 
the cowardice and indecision of the Duke of Brunswick that 
prevented the engagement. Thiebault, then with the army on 
the frontier, takes the same view. Matilda Hawkins, whose 
Memoirs were pubUshed in 1824, relates that her friend, the 
Comte de Jamac, who " was with the army at the time of the 
Duke of Brunswick's unaccountable retreat from Paris," told 
her that the Duke himself said, " Why I retreated will never be 
known to my death." 

According to prevailing opinion at the time the retreat after 
Valmy was effected by negotiation, and three different theories 
were advanced as to the authors of these negotiations. Firstly, 
then, Beaulieu and Pages assert that Louis XVL, assured by 
Manuel, Petion, and Kersaint that the presence of the allied 
armies was the main cause of irritation against him, allowed him- 
self to be persuaded to write and ask the King of Prussia to 
withdraw, in return for which the three deputies promised him 
his Ufe.^ Secondly, the Mountain, represented by Camille 
Desmoulins, declared that the retreat was brought about by an 
understanding between the Girondins and the Prussians, and when 
we remember the eulogies lavished by Carra on the Duke of 
Brunswick in July, and find that Carra was the man chosen by 
Petion to go with SiQery on the 24th of September to Dumouriez's 
camp at La Lune and confer with Manstein, the representative 
of the King of Prussia, this seems not improbable.^ Thirdly, 
D'Allonville, the author of the Memoires secrets, states that it 
was Danton who negotiated the " defeat " of the Prussians at 
Valmy and their subsequent retreat by the simple method of 
bribery. This was effected through the agency of Dumouriez, 
at this moment Danton's ally, to whom he wrote immediately 
after Valmy, instructing him to drive back the Prussians without 
attempting to destroy them, since the Prussians " were not the 

1 Beaulieu, iv. 169 ; Pag^s, ii. 45. 

2 Carra had also been sent by Servan and Danton to " harangue the 
Idsoiers /at the camp of ' La Maulde ' in August " (see Pricis de la DSfense 
de Carra, p. 29). 


natural enemies of France." ^ The manner in which Danton 
procured the necessary sums is thus described by D'Allonville : 

" Billaud - Varenne, who left Paris after the massacres of 
September, had reached the army on the nth and had opened 
negotiations, of which the sums promised, but not yet paid, alone 
delayed the conclusion. Two or three millions, the fruit of the 
pillage of the loth of August, were all that the Commune of Paris 
possessed, and it was not enough. ' Why do you not rob the 
Garde-Meuble {i.e. the depository where the Crown jewels were 
kept) ? ' cries Panis, and this thing was done on the i6th of 
September by the orders of TaUien and Danton, which produced, 
in different species, a sum of thirty millions. The first overtures 
had faciUtated the escape of Dumouriez from the position in 
which he would have been irrevocably lost, others prevented him 
from being driven from his position during the cannonade of 
Valmy, and from the 22nd to the 23rd negotiations were, as we 
have said, actively carried out." ^ 

This evidence is exactly confirmed by General Michaud, 
who was with the armies at the time. The deputies of the 
Gironde, Michaud declares, were not in the secret of the negotia- 
tions with the Prussians, and it is to the Orleaniste schemes of 
Danton that these are to be attributed. " It is only with audacity 
and yet more audacity that we can save ourselves," said the 
Minister of Justice. " Danton was, no doubt, a very audacious 
man, but when he pronounced these words it is certain that he 
knew of the secret negotiation, since he himself was directing it 
with his colleague Lebrun. . . . Already he was assured that 
the Prussians would not get to Paris, he knew that it was only 
a matter of satisfying them, and fulfiUing the engagements 
entered into by Dumouriez. . . . Hence this resolution to remain 
in the capital, to pillage the Garde-Meuble, to massacre the 
prisoners and plunder the victims. ... So it might be said, 
without exaggeration, that the horrible system of blood and 
terror . . . was a consequence of what had taken place in 
Champagne between the Prussians and the leaders of the 
Revolution, who were no other than the leaders of the Orleaniste 
faction." ^ 

The theft of the Crown jewels was not attributed to Danton 
by Royalists alone. When on the night of the i6th to the 17th 
of September the Garde-Meuble was broken into and the Crown 
jewels were removed, no one seriously beheved that the coup 
could be attributed to ordinary burglars, and by Girondins as well 

1 D'Allonville, Memoires d'un Homme d'etat, i. 401. 

2 D'Allonville, MSmoires secrets, iii. 95. 

3 Biographie de Louis Philippe d'Orlians, by L. G. Michaud, Appendix, 
pp. 16, 17. 


as Royalists it was declared to be the work of the Commune. 
Why, indeed, should it not be so ? The Commune, as every 
one knew, had ordered the pillage that took place after the loth 
of August, and it was again the Commune that had taken posses- 
sion of the greater part of the spoils wrested from the victims of 
the massacres. When several large burglaries have been effected 
by the same gang in the same district, it is only reasonable to 
attribute a further one to the same agency. Madame Roland 
had no hesitation in designating Danton as the chief burglar of 
the Crown jewels and Fabre d'JSglantine as his assistant, although, 
as usual in the case of crimes ordained by the revolutionary 
leaders, the obscure instruments who carried out the deed were 
arrested and put to death.^ 

At any rate, whatever were the means employed, it is clear 
that some pressure was brought to bear upon the Prussians in 
order to ensure their retreat. The unaccountable part of the 
affair Ues not so much in the fact that their triumphant advance 
was checked by a reverse at Valmy, but that this one reverse 
should have turned the tide of thie whole war, yet should not have 
resulted in the rout of the allied armies. For if the revolu- 
tionary troops were strong enough to arrest finally the enemy's 
advance, why did they not follow up their victory at Valmy with 
greater vigour ? This problem was so apparent to every one 
at the time that it was admitted even by Desmoulins, the ally 
of Danton, though, at the instigation of Robespierre, he cleverly 
turned it into an accusation against the Girondins. 

" Is it not inconceivable to every one and unheard of in 
history," wrote Camille Desmoulins in his Histoire des Brissotins, 
" as I said to Dumouriez himself when he appeared at the Con- 
vention, that a general who with 17,000 men had held back an 
army of 92,000 men— after Dumouriez, Ajax Beumonville, and 
Kellermann had announced that the plains of Champagne would 
be the tomb of the King of Prussia's army, like that of Attila, 
and that not one man would escape— should not have cut off the 
retreat of this army when it was reduced to nearly half by 
dysentery, when its march was impeded by nearly 20,000 sick, 
and that, on the other hand, the victorious army had increased 
to more than 100,000 men ! All the soldiers of the vanguard 
of our army will tell you that when the rearguard of the Prussians 
called a halt, we called a halt ; when they went to the right, we 
marched to the left ; in a word, Dumouriez led back the King 
of Prussia rather than he pursued him, and there was not a soldier 
in the army who was not convinced that there had been an arrange- 
ment between the Prussians and the Convention by the medium of 

* MSmoires de Mme. Roland, i. 113. 



Such, then, in the words of the revolutionary leaders them- 
selves, was the " irresistible elan of the victorious revolutionary 
army " ! Whether, therefore, the retreat of the Prussians was 
due to the Girondins or Orleanistes, whether Carra was acting 
in the interests of the Duke of Brunswick or the Due d' Orleans, 
whether Danton had an understanding with the Girondins and 
afterwards disowned them, or whether he was carrying on an 
intrigue with Dumouriez as the agent of the Commune and later 
on betrayed him, representing him through Desmouhns as the 
accomplice of the Gironde, it is evident that something happened 
at Valmy which has never been explained to this day. Vahny 
and its sequel remain an insoluble mystery. Only, in the Hght 
of our present knowledge of Prussian diplomacy, it seems not 
impossible that some profounder policy may have underlain the 
action of both Frederick William and the Duke of Brunswick 
than has yet been attributed to them. At any rate, whether 
I they reaUzed it at the time or not, the " defeat " of Valmy was 
' a superb victory for Prussia. For to march on to Paris at this 
' crisis must have been to re-establish the Bourbons on the throne, 
and to leave the way open to a renewal of the Franco- Austrian 
aUiance ; by leaving France to tear herself to pieces Frederick 
WilUam worthily carried out the traditions of the great Frederick, 
. and assured the future supremacy of Prussia. Valmy had but 
paved the way for Sadowa and Sedan. 

Goethe, looking on at the famous fusillade, is said to have 
uttered these prophetic words : " From this place and from this 
day forth begins a new era in the world's history, and you can all 
say that you were present at its birth." 

A new era in truth, an era wherein the civilization of old 
France should be utterly destroyed and the great barbaric 
German Empire should rise upon the ruins. The Golden Age 
had ended ; the Age of Blood and Iron was to begin. 



353 2 A 


" The 2nd of September," said Collot d'Herbois, " is the great 
article of the Credo of our Uberty." In other words, _ the 
massacres in the prisons were the prelude to the Reign of Terror, 
the first manifestation of that organized system of destruction 
which for ten months held sway over France. This is why, in 
relating the history of the Terror, it is necessary to begin at 
September 1792, in order to show the progressive stages which 
led up to the final chmax. 

For, before this system could be pursued with impunity, the 
demagogues were obliged to remove three principal obstacles 
from their path; these were, firstly, the monarchy, and con- 
sequently the Constitution of 1791 ; secondly, the King ; and 
thirdly, the Girondins. It was the struggle to effect this three- 
fold purpose that for a year arrested the course of the Terror, 
which otherwise must have followed directly on the September 
massacres. We shall now see how one by one these obstacles 
were overthrown, and how, in each case, the schemes of the 
demagogues triumphed over the will of the people. 


The idea no doubt prevails in this country that France became 
a RepubUc because the French nation was finally convinced of 
the advantages offered by a Republican form of government. 
Nothing is further from the truth. France, as the cahiers had 
shown, was soUdly monarchical, and the protests following on 
the 20th of June gave evidence that this sentiment still pre- 
vailed throughout the country. ' ' The Republicans, ' ' said Danton 
in September 1792, " are an infinitesimal minority . . . the rest 
of France is attached to the monarchy." ^ 

If, however, any doubt existed on this point, if the demagogues 
had any reason to suppose that the opinion of the people had 
changed since the formation of the cahiers, the only course in 
accordance with the principles of democracy would have been to 

^ Danton to the Comit6 de Defense G6n6rale (see Robinet, Prods 
des Dantonistes). 



. make a fresh appeal to the nation. For, however impossible 
I it may be to consult the people on the details of legislation, it is 
1 obviously a farce to describe a State as democratic in which the 
1 form of government is not the choice of the nation as a whole. 
The only legitimate method by which the form of government 
can be changed is, therefore, a referendum to the people. 

Nothing of this kind was done in France. When, on the 2ist 
/ of September, the Convention that now superseded the Legislative 
Assembly held its first sitting, none of the deputies — amongst 
whom all the leading revolutionaries, Girondins, Dantonistes, 
and Robespierristes aUke, were included — had made any attempt 
to discover the real wishes of their constituents on the question 
of abolishing the monarchy, whilst in the provinces the idea of 
a RepubUc had not even been considered.^ 

At one moment it seemed as if the new Assembly were en- 
dowed with some appreciation of the principles of democracy, 
for it began by passing this admirable resolution : " The National 
Convention declares that there can be no Constitution unless it 
is accepted by the people." 

Yet after this, at the very same sitting, it proceeded with 
ludicrous inconsequence to discuss the fundamental point of the 
Constitution, the question of a RepubUc, without any reference 
whatever to the wishes of the people ! 

It was Couthon, the ally of Robespierre, who had first pro- 
posed the aboUtion of the monarchy, and the proposal was now 
seconded by Collot d'Herbois amidst " universal applause." 
True, one obscure member named Quinette rose to observe : 
" It is not we who are the judges of the monarchy, it is the people. 
We have only the mission to form a definite government, and 
the people will choose between the old one which included the 
monarchy, and the new one which we shaU present to them." 
But the protest of Quinette was overruled by Gregoire, who 
declared that " no one could ever propose to preserve in France 
the disastrous race of kings. . . . We know too well that all 
dynasties have only been devouring races Hving on human 
flesh. ... I ask that by a solemn law you should ordain the 
aboUtion of monarchy." 

In vain Bazire interposed with the remonstrance that the 
Assembly should not aUow itself to be carried away by a " moment 
of enthusiasm," that " the question of aboUshing the monarchy 
should at least be discussed by the Assembly." 

" What need is there for discussion," answered Gregoire, 

^ " It was only in Paris that the question of the RepubUc was con- 
sidered. ... In 1792 there are no principles (of Republicanism). They 
can only abolish the monarchy by advocating the deposition (of the King) 
They dare not proclaim the Republic" (MadeUn, p. 266). 



'* when every one is agreed ? Kings are in the moral order of 
things what monsters are in the physical order ... the history 
of kings is the martyrology of nations. Since we are all equally 
penetrated by this truth, what need is there for discussion ? " 

And, in response to this dignified discourse, the Assembly, 
without further debate, passed the resolution : " The National 
Convention decrees that monarchy is abolished in France." ^ 

Thus, in flagrant violation of the first principle of democracy, 
rule by the will of the people,^ in direct contradiction to the 
resolution passed by the Convention itself at that same sitting, 
the RepubUc was proclaimed by an infinitesimal minority of 
political adventurers. For if these men who took upon them- I 
selves to overthrow the ancient government of France had been 
honest in their intentions, if they had themselves been convinced 
of the advantages of a RepubUc over a monarchy, their action 
might, to a certain extent, be condoned by their enthusiasm. 
But it was not so. These men were not Republican by conviction, 
for, as we have already seen, they were actuated by various 
poUcies far removed from RepubHcanism. Still, at the in- 
auguration of the Convention, it seems that the same schemes 
for a change of dynasty survived ; the factions had merely under- 
gone some slight modifications. Now, although at most stages 
of the Revolution we find contemporaries disagreed on the aims 
of the factions, it is curious to notice the extraordinary resem- 
blance between the explanations given by writers belonging to 
completely different parties of the motives that inspired the 
proclamation of the RepubUc. 

According to such divergent authorities as Montjoie, Pag^s, 
Prudhomme, and " The Two Friends of Liberty," Carra and his 
party stiU incUned to the Duke of Brunswick ; Brissot and his 
party to the Duke of York ; SiUery, Sieyes, and Laclos to the 
Due d'Orleans ; Dumouriez, Biron, and Valence to the Due de 
Chartres ; whilst Marat and Danton, now less disposed to support 
the Due d'Orleans, began to think of their own elevation and 
joined forces with Robespierre, in order to establish either a 

^ Moniteur, xiv. 8. 

2 A working-man, a tiler of Saint-Leu, named Gillequint, himself a • 
convincer' 'I iHiblican, thus admirably summed up the matter in an : 
ad'\ ^^iress tOo fellow-citizens some months later : " The Sovereign {i.e. 

the peo,i"must be free in his opinion. Are we free to manifest ours ? 

At t>P6'ii'^g of the sittings of the Convention ... a member proposed 

x.wolition of the monarchy. Without examination, without discussion, 
.€ monarchy was abolished by a decree. . . . This decree was not sanc- 
tioned by the people, and since it is recognized that no decree can be made 
law without the sanction of the people, it should only have been carried 
out provisionally." For this expression of opinion Gillequint was guillo- 
tined 9n the 5th of Messidor, An 11. (Wallon, Tribunal rholutionnaire, , 
iv. 386-388). 


Dictatorship under one of their number or a Triumvirate composed 
of all three. Owing to these conflicting pohcies, none of which 
could be openly avowed, every one was obUged to profess Re- 
, pubUcanism — " some voted for the RepubUc for fear Orleans 
I should be King, others in order not to appear Orleanistes ; aU 
I wished to acquire or maintain their popularity." This was 
\ what Robespierre meant when he said later on, " The Republic 
j slipped in furtively between the factions." ^ 

But once the Repubhc had been proclaimed and the monarchy 
declared to be finally aboUshed, it became necessary for the 
factions to reconstruct their pohcies, and so three main parties 
were formed in the Convention. These became known as the 
Gironde, the Plain, and the Mountain. 

The first of these parties consisted of the deputies of the 
Gironde who had sat in the Legislative Assembly — ^Vergniaud, 
Guadet, Gensonne, Ducos, and Fonfrede — and also Brissot with 
his following, which included Buzot, Valaz6, Isnard, and Con- 
dorcet. All these were henceforth described collectively as 
Girondistes or Girondins, and it was they who, as time went on, 
came to represent the truly Repubhcan party in the Convention. 
The Plain or Marais was composed of several hundred 
nondescript deputies, non-committal in their views, and afraid 
to move boldly in any direction. 

But the real force of the Assembly lay in the Mountain, that 
fierce and subversive minority dominated by Danton, Marat, 
and Robespierre, and including the most violent members of the 
Jacobin and Cordeher Clubs — Camille Desmouhns, Billaud- 
Varenne, Collot d'Herbois, Fabre d'figlantine, Panis, Sergent, 
Legendre, and also the Due d'Orleans, who, by the usual methods 
of bribes and cajolery, by dinners lavished on the new members 
of the Commune, and, in the opinion of many contemporaries, 
by the payment of 15,000 hvres to Marat, succeeded in securing 
election as a deputy for Paris.^ 

Inevitably the Montagnards carried aU before them ; it was 
they and not the pedantic Girondins who understood the art of 

^ Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrUans, iii. 216 ; Pag^ -sahiicv Deux 
Amis, viii. 326; Prudhomme, Crimes de la •^*^^<'^w^^<^w, \ ^ ^\- ♦**'e 

passages, written at about the same date, 1796 and 1797. '- « si 

fully compared, and will be found to be almost identical ; "^ momC 
that each expressed the current opinion of the day. \onarch 

* Prudhomme, Revolutions de Paris, xiii. 522. It was at this a 
that the Due d'Orleans was said to have declared to the Commune tu ,^^^1 
was not the son of the last Due d'Orleans but of the duchess's coachma 
Montjoie, Conjuration de d'OrlSans, iii. 251 ; Peltier, La Revolution du 10 
AoUt, ii. 9; Playfair's History of Jacobinism, p. 604; posthumous works 
of Lord Orford, Historic Doubts, ii. 250 ; Les Fils de Philippe tgalite, by 
G. Len6tre, p. 2. 




rousing popular passions. Hitherto, as we have seen, even the 
mob of Paris had needed to be systematically stirred up in order 
to take part in the revolutionary movement, and this is not sur- 
prising, for the issues at stake were outside their comprehension. 
What matter to them whether the " patriot ministers " were 
recalled or not, whether the King had the right of Veto, whether 
the non-juring priests were deported, and so forth ? As to the 
leaders of the Legislative Assembly, none had appealed to their 
mentahties; the eloquence of Vergniaud left them cold; the 
speeches repeated parrot-hke by the so-caUed deputations from 
the Faubourgs were unintelligible aUke to orators and audience. 
But when Marat, Danton, and Robespierre assumed the reins 
of power everything was changed. Marat spoke a language the 
populace could understand ; instead of bewildering their minds 
with poUtical subtleties he simply ordered them to go out and 
bum and pillage and destroy. By this means he appealed 
irresistibly to the craving for excitement which distinguishes the 
populace in every city, particularly in Paris, whilst his ostentation 
of poverty imposed for a while on some of the more credulous 
amongst the people themselves. It has been said that " Marat 
loved the poor," that from the beginning of the Revolution he 
had Uved on the barest necessaries of hfe. This we now know to 
be untrue ; Marat, though of filthy and neglected appearance, ' 
Uved in the greatest comfort, and was never known to make any 
personal sacrifices for the poor of Paris.^ The vicious, the 
wastrel, the degraded alone inspired his sympathy ; honest 
and law-abiding men of the people, especially those who by their 
industry had achieved some degree of prosperity, became the 
objects of his contempt and hatred. " Give me 300,000 heads," 
he said, " and I wiU answer for the country being saved. . . . 
Begin by hanging at their doors the bakers, the grocers, and all 
the tradesmen." When the people failed to respond to these 

1 " From the day the Revolution began," says Kropotkin, " Marat 

^ took to bread and water, not figuratively speaking, but in reality." No 

^^ authority is given for this astonishing assertion. The researches of M. 

' o '^n^t^e reveal, however, that at his flat in the Rue des Cordeliers, Marat 

J^ -^ vas waited on by four women — his mistress, his sister, the portress, and 

'? ^c -le cook. Why a cook for bread and water ? Moreover, on the evening 

^^ f his death, when during the visit of Charlotte Corday, his mistress, Simonne 

^^ fy -vrard, entered the bathroom, she removed from the window-sill two dishes 

V^ ( jntaining sweetbreads and brains for the evening meal — ^by no means a 

x? \eagre menu for the Friend of the People at a moment when hungry 

.rowds were drawn up outside his door waiting for crusts of bread {Paris 

rSvolutionnaire, by G. Lenotre, p. 219). This confirms the story current 

amongst the people later that, although Marat's frugality had been vaunted, 

his table " was every day splendidly served and never consisted of less 

than eight dishes, ^nd that she who called herself his wife was seen to buy 

objects of great luxury, either for his table or for other purposes. . . ." 

(Schmidt, Tableaux de Paris, ii. 167). 


suggestions, Marat turned and rent them : " Oh ! babbUng people, 
if you but knew how to act ! " ^ or again : " Eternal idlers, with 
what epithets would I not overwhelm you if, in the transports 
of my despair, I knew of any more humihating than that of 
Parisians \" ^ In this lay the difference between the poUcies 
of Robespierre and Marat. Robespierre aimed at democracy, not 
in the sense of government by the people, but of a State solely 
composed of " the people " ; ^ he would have liked to turn the 
whole world into a vast working-man's settlement, of which he 
would be the presiding genius ; whilst Marat wanted ochlocracy, 
a State dominated by that small portion of the people known as 
the " mob," making of the world a huge thieves' kitchen, in which 
he would play the part of brigand chief. Robespierre, now 
faUing more and more under the influence of Marat, began to 
reaUze the superiority of Marat's method ; he perceived that 
in times of revolution it is to the subversive minority that a 
demagogue must look for support, and that to appeal to the reason 
of the people must ever prove less effectual than to rouse the 
passions of the mob. Hitherto he had sought to estabUsh his 
popularity by fulsome adulation of the people's virtues,* but 
from this time onward we find him gradually abandoning the 
attitude of moderation he had maintained during the preceding 
year, and reverting to the subversive methods he had employed 
at the outset of the Revolution. Inveighing against the rich 
and great, appealing always to cupidity and envy, it was princi- 
pally amongst the women of the Societe Fratemelle and the 
female convicts released during the massacres of September 
that he found his following, and this dishevelled band that Danton 
derisively described as the jupons gras of Robespierre ^ fiUed the 
tribunes of the Convention and the Jacobin Club, drowning the 
debates in their clamour. 

Danton, on the other hand, never theorized about democracy. 
Too lazy to put pen to paper, he is almost the only revolutionary 
leader who owned no journal and wrote no pamphlets ; his 
speeches, admirably suited to a recruiting platform wi-:h their 
sounding refrains of " Let us beat the enemy ! " " Let u^ save 

* L'Ami du Peuple, No. 68 1. 

2 Ibid. No. 539. 

3 That Robespierre did not believe in government by the people has 
been admirably explained by M. Louis Blanc — who does not beheve in it 
himself (see his Histoire de la Revolution, viii. 269). 

* Thus : "In the matter of genius and civism the people are infalUble, 
whilst every one else is subject to great errors" (Article de Robespierre, 
Buchez et Roux, xiv. 268). " The motives of the people are always pure ; 
they cannot do otherwise than love the pubUc good," etc. (Robespierre 
d ses Commettants, ii. 285). 

■ Prudhomme, Crimes de la Revolution, v. 124. 



the country ! " served merely to electrify the Assembly, especially 
the tribunes, and afford evidence of no definite or coherent 
political creed. It is, therefore, by his sajdngs that we know 
Danton best — words flung out at impetuous moments, recorded 
by innumerable contemporaries, and bearing so strong a family 
resemblance that it is impossible not to believe that some at least 
are authentic. It was thus that, like Mirabeau, he frankly 
admitted his own corruptibihty. " Danton," says Prudhomme, 
" was known as a man who displayed Uttle delicacy in revolution ; 
that is why he was always surrounded by bad characters and 
swindlers. Here is a remark habitual to him : ' The Revolution j 
should profit those who make it, and if the Kings enriched nobles ^ 
the Revolution should enrich patriots.' " ^ We shall find Danton a 
giving vent to the same sentiments up to the very foot of the 
scaffold. Danton's own greed for gold led him to believe that 
the people were to be won by the same means ; money he held 
to be the great lever by which the revolutionary mobs could be 
moved to action.^ 

The fact is, Danton was not a politician, but simply a great 
agitator ; the " people " to whom he openly referred as the 
canaille must be made to serve the purpose of the demagogues, 
and he moved amongst them with no show of " fraternity " like 
Robespierre or Marat, but, as Garat expressed it, like " a grand 
seigneur of the Sans-Culotterie," scattering largesse and thunder- 
ing words of command. Robespierre's scheme of a Socialist 
State held, therefore, Httle attraction for Danton, who had no 
desire to exchange his comfortable flat in Paris and his chateau 
at Arcis-sur-Aube for a cottage in a working-man's settlement. 

But, although divided in their ultimate aims — and also 
secretly hostile to each other — the members of the Triumvirate 
that headed the Mountain were agreed in regarding a period of 1 
anarchy as necessary to the realization of their schemes, and I 
were therefore content to work together in order to destroy 
existing conditions. For this purpose it was necessary to enHst 
the aid of the mob — ^that portion of the people, mainly women, 
who, having nothing to lose by general confusion, were ready 
in return for adequate remuneration to stamp and shout for 
each party in tum.^ 

1 Prudhomme, Crimes de la Revolution, iv, 162. 

2 " Danton during his brief apparition at the ' Comit6 de Salut Public ' 
instituted that odious power of gold, that frightful system of corruption 
that bought speech or silence. . . . ' Get money given you,' said Danton 
to Garat, ' and do not spare it ; the Republic will always have enough.' 
, . . To corrupt and to be corrupted was for him the whole science of our 
morals, all the probity of the century. . . ." {ibid. v. 78-80). 

« " Applauders and murmurers are to be had at all prices ; and as 


Buzot has thus described the aspect of the deputations and 
audiences collected by Marat and Robespierre at the Convention : 

" It seemed as if they had sought in all the slums of Paris 
and of the large cities for everything that was filthiest, most 
hideous, and polluted. Dreadful earthen faces, black or copper- 
coloured, surmounted by a thick tuft of greasy hair, with eyes 
half sunken in their heads, they gave vent with their fetid breath 
to the coarsest insults and shrill screams of hungry animals. 
The tribunes were worthy of such legislators : men whose fright- 
ful appearance gave evidence of crime and wretchedness, women 
whose shameless air expressed the foulest debauchery. When all 
these, with hands, feet, and voices, made their horrible din, one 
would have imagined oneself in an assembly of devils." 

Such were the elements that now usurped the power, taking 
as their watchword the cry that Taine truly calls " the resume of 
the revolutionary spirit " : " The will of the people makes the law, 
and we are the people." Henceforth the Revolution enters on 
a new phase, monarchy and aristocracy have both retired from 
the lists, and the struggle has begun between democracy and 
ochlocracy, between the people and the populace. And since the 
demagogues are on the side of the populace, inevitably ochlocracy 
triumphs, and everywhere, in the tribunes of the Convention 
and of the Jacobin Club, in the streets and public places, Marat's 
rabble, though an infinitesimal minority, holds sway over the 
great mass of the people. 


It is significant that even at this crisis, when the revolutionary 
leaders had at last succeeded in obtaining a following amongst 
the populace, the attempt was not renewed to achieve the death 
of the King at the hands of the mob. But the new demagogues 
were too expert crowd exponents not to realize the futility of 
such a project. Madame Roland might imagine that th;^ Fau- 
bourgs of Paris could be incited to regicide ; Marat, Dant-on, 
and Robespierre well knew that if the King were to die they 
themselves must perform the deed. For in this matter even 
the populace they had enUsted in their service was not to be 
depended on. 

" The people," writes a contemporary during the King's trials 
"even that portion of the people who have so often steepedjj 
themselves in blood during the Revolution, does not wish tc 

females are more noisy and to be had cheaper than m. ies, you will obsei 
there are generally more women than men in the tribunes " (Dr. Moore' 
Journal, i. 211 ; see also Pag^s, ii. 29). 


shed that of the King ; but there is a party to which it is 
necessary, and at this moment it dominates Paris, and even 
the Convention." ^ 

Dr. Moore, mingUng at this date with the people of Paris, 
Ukewise reaUzed that the ferocity attributed to them was con- 
fined to their so-called representatives. New fears, he writes, 
have been expressed in the Convention of massacres taking place 
in the streets, " If there is really any danger of such an event, 
the inhabitants of Paris must be the worst of savages, but the 
only people I see of a savage disposition are certain members of 
the Convention and of the Jacobin Club, and a great majority 
of those who fill the tribunes at both those assemblies ; but the 
shopkeepers and tradespeople (and I take some pains to be 
acquainted with their way of thinking) seem to be much the same 
as I have always known them ; I am persuaded that there is no 
risk of massacres or assassinations but from a set of wretches 
who are neither shopkeepers nor tradesmen, but idle vagabonds, 
hired and excited for the purpose. When I hear it asserted from 
the tribune of the Convention, or of the Jacobin Society, that 
the people are impatient for the death of the King, or inchned to 
murder unfortunate men while they are conducted to prison, 
and yet can perceive no disposition of that nature among the citizens, 
I cannot help suspecting that those orators themselves are the 
people who are impatient for those atrocities, and that they spread 
the notion that this desire is general among the people on purpose 
to render it easier to commit them, and to make them more 
quietly submitted to after they have been committed." ^ 

In vain the Commune marshalled deputations from the 
revolutionary " sections " to the bar of the Assembly to demand 
" the death of the tyrant " ; the people in the streets and cafes 
gave the He to all such demonstrations. Thereupon Prudhomme, 
still the King's implacable enemy, angrily apostrophized them : 
" Frenchmen, where wiU aU this lead you ? . . . every hour of 
the day takes away miUions of partisans from the RepubUc to 
give them to RoyaUsm. . . . Already in your restaurants hired 
singers screech inane but touching laments on the fate of the 
tyrant. (This lament to the tune of * Pauvre Jacques ' begins 
thus : ' O mon peuple, que t'ai-je fait ? ' It is being sold in 
thousands. The hymn of the Marseillais is forgotten for it.) 
I have seen, yes, I have seen the toper let fall a tear into his wine 
in favour of Louis Capet. . . . The French Republic is already 
three-quarters royalized." ^ 

1 M. de Bernard k sa Femme, date of December 27, 1792, in Letires 
d'Aristocrates, by Pierre de Vaissi^re, p. 582. 
^ Moore's Journal, ii. 249. 
' Prudhomme, Revolutions de Paris, xiv. 52 


On the 2nd of January 1793 a Royalist play entitled L'Ami 
des Lois was produced amidst a wild outburst of popular en- 
thusiasm. The piece in itself was dull, but the opportunity it 
offered for applauding allusions to royalty and the person of the 
King, and for jeering at the leading demagogues travestied on 
the stage, drew an immense audience — the crowd struggUng to 
obtain admittance was numbered at 30,000 people. In vain the 
Pere Duchesne proclaimed his Grande CoUre against " the mounte- 
banks, heretofore actors of the King " ; in vain the younger 
Robespierre denounced this " infamous piece " in which they 
had the audacity to introduce his brother and " the excellent 
citizen Marat " ; in vain Santerre, surrounded by his staff and 
later 150 Jacobins, sword and pistol in hand, attempted to put 
a stop to the performance. The people responded with deafening 
cries of " L'Ami des Lois ! The piece ! The piece ! Raise 
the curtain ! " The voice of Santerre was drowned in shouts of 
" Down with the General Mousseux ! Down with the 2nd of 
September ! We want the piece ! The piece or death ! " The 
demagogues were obUged to submit ; the piece was played not 
once but again, four times in aU, amidst scenes of indescribable 

A still stranger scene took place at Bordeaux, where it was 
not simply a promiscuous crowd of citizens who protested against 
the designs of the Convention, but the chosen flock on whom the 
leaders depended for their following. By way of propaganda 
the Jacobin Society of Bordeaux had invited its members to a 
" patriotic play " called The Republic of Syracuse, or Monarchy 
Abolished. The sentiments this piece contained having been 
heartily approved by the leading members of the Club, it was 
hoped that the public would rec