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for the post of king was untenable in the system. A tonscientious and sage lover of royalty, to whom a monarch with kingly attributes was denied, would have embraced the idea of a republic as practicable at least, in preference to the vain idol of La Fayette's pedantic adoration, viz. the name of a king, and the essence of a commonwealth. The republicans were better known by the appellation of Girondins, their most celebrated leaders being members for the department of the Gironde, and originally lawyers in the court of Bourdeaux. To the left of these sat the Jacobins, the anarchists, men without principles or imaginable form of government: their support was the rabble; their aim to sweep away, as obnoxious to their envious mediocrity, the united aristocracy of birth, wealth, and talent. "The constitutionalists and Girondins both represented equally the interests of the middle class, and disputed its opinions; but the Girondins earried away the palm of popularity, and also the sceptre of power: they soon ruled the assembly, and guided the legislature. The executive at that time resided in the municipality, for Paris was in a great measure revolutionary France. The constitutionalists had held paramount influence over this body through Bailly and La Fayette; but now, when the mania of self-denial became general, these functionaries resigned, and ceded their posts of influence to their rivals. Petion, a Girondin, was chosen mayor in lieu of Bailly, and La Fayette did not recover the command of the national guard. Such was the state of parties. The new assembly, that gave itself the name of legislative, by which it is distinguished in French history, met on the 1st of October. A deputation waited on the king to acquaint him. His reply was simple. The republicans did not find it sufficiently courteous; and, commencing their grave duties by a childish susceptibility about punctilio, they ordered the king's chair to be put on a level with that of their president. On the next day they repealed this important decree, Louis intimating that he would not come to open their session. Having, by pretending deference, enticed him to appear, they treated him with some marks of designed disrespect, such as sitting in his presence covered; advantages trifling to them, but wounding to the pride of the fallen monarch. Thus the assembly that ended in blood, began in puerility. Their next steps, though more distasteful to the king, had still the excuse of necessity. Two kinds of enemies threatened the present order of things; the emigrants collected on the frontier, and the discontented priesthood scattered through
1791. THE CONSTITUTIONALISTS. 251
out the realm. The former had the tacit support of all the European courts, and almost the avowed alliance of Austria; the latter were in communication with the emigrants, and were stirring and preparing the peasantry universally to revolt. The assembly passed a decree, declaring all emigrants, who continued in hostile meeting on the frontier beyond the month of January, civilly dead, and their properties seized, without prejudice, however, to their wives, children, or creditors. Another ordained measures of similar rigor against those priests who refused the oath, and continued to excite agitation. These laws were certainly but a just measure of retaliation. The king, from a personal feeling that may well be conceived, made the first use of his veto in suspending them : and then was instantly seen the absurd balance of powers provided by the constitution. The rage of the revolutionists in general knew no bounds, on finding their arms tied in their efforts to combat the enemies of the state; unable to attack the monarch directly, they turned their resentment against the constitutionalists, whose system thus obstructed them with its veto. They directed their scrutiny and eloquence against the existing ministers, whom Louis had chosen from that party. Delessart, the secretary for foreign affairs, was accused of feebleness, of betraying the dignity and interests of the country in his correspondence with the courts of Europe. Such being the opinion of the majority, Delessart was arrested, and sent for trial before the high court sitting at Orleans. Thus the constitutionalists, having yielded their influence in the senate and the municipality, were soon driven from the ministry, the Girondins and Jacobins uniting to complete their ruin.
It was in the debates excited by this question, and by the menaced interference of foreign countries, that Isnard, deputy of Provence, poured forth that eloquent diatribe, which soon resounded throughout the courts of Europe. “They would bring us back our noblesses" cried he. “If all the nobles of the earth were to assail us, the French people, with their gold in one hand, their swords in the other, will combat that imperious race, and force it to endure the penalty of equality.
“Let us elevate ourselves in this conjuncture to a level with our high mission. Let us speak to ministers, to the king, and to Europe, with the dignity that becomes the representatives of France. Let ministers know our little satisfaction with their conduct, and that by the word responsibility we mean death. Tell Europe, that we will respect the constitution of other governments; but that if a league of kings be . against us, we, in turn, will raise a war of people against
The French excuse the violence and crimes of their revolution, by pleading that every fresh excess was provoked by $ne enemies of freedom. Thus, the oath of the tennis-court, the insurrection ending in the capture of the Bastile, that of October which led the king forcibly from Versailles, were all indebted to the menacing approach of troops, and to the ban quet of the garde du corps. The coalition entered into by the European sovereigns at Pilnitz, and their subsequent support of the emigrants at Coblentz, were destined to produce a still more fearful reaction. With Europe certainly France was not the aggressor. Disunited in councils, the interior swarming with secret enemies, and the army disorganized, she had every reason to avoid a war. It was deprecated by the furious Jacobins, who dreaded alike to see the enemy, or their own generals, victorious. They thought on Cromwell and trembled to see La Fayette, their enemy, acquire influence similar to his at the head of armies. The Girondists, on the contrary, clamored for open war. Though not military men, they had the instinct of the nation's force, and augured triumph, where others feared defeat. Almost all, being men of studious habits and pursuits, were deeply imbued with those classic ideas, that the vile Jacobins afterwards caught up and parodied. They believed themselves in ancient Rome, and looked not only to overthrow the Tarquin of the day, but to spread far and wide the glory and dominion of their country. In this proud spirit of emulation, the Girondists already carried their views beyond the poor boon of liberty, which the Jacobins, construing it however with license, would have been contented with. The Girondists it was, who first conceived that bold project of extended conquest, afterwards realized by Napoleon.
The constitutionalists, however, still clung to the ministry, and, as officers and generals, prevailed in the army. Luckner, Rochambeau, and La Fayette commanded. The last the Girondists forgave, and wished to preserve, hoping at that time mighty achievements from his military fame. They were compelled, indeed, to recruit for heroes, and choose them elsewhere than in their own body. Dumouriez promised, above all others, to answer their views. This was a bold adventurer, enterprising, ambitious, talented; but too selfish, wayward, and passionate, to have fixed principles. He affected to belong to all parties; flattered the king and the Jacobins,” as well as the Girondists. The latter, at the recommendation
* The very day in which Dumouriez accepted the ministry and charmed Louis XVI. by his plausibility and projects, he attended the Jacobins, and worc the bonnet rouge.
1791. MADAME ROLAND. 25s;
of Brissot, adopted him. Madame Roland, the priestess of the party, was the only one who saw through him with a woman's penetration, and described him as “a talented roué, a bold cavalier, prepared to mock and trifle with every thing, except his interests and his glory.” The Girondists themselves deserve more particular mention. Brissot was long considered to be their leader. He was, in fact, their journalist, and the ehief point of connexion between them, who were provincials, and the capital. Being thus apparently the manager of their intrigues, the Jacobins called the whole party Brissotites. His memoirs, lately published, are far from presenting this personage in a respectable or amiable light. Vergniaud was their chief orator: he was a vulgar Fox; the same mildness, the same impassive appearance and equanimity of temper, contrasted with bursts of fervid eloquence when excited. Condorcet, of noble birth, was the philosopher and theorist of their ranks. He was their Sieyes, according to Mignet's expression, but with more elevation, more elegance, and more disinterestedness. Madame Roland, in fine, was to the Girondists, what De Staël was to the constitutionalists, the priestess of their temple; for politics had displaced religion ; and deliberation, prayer. There was beauty, talents, firmness, heroism, and, at the same time, tenderness of sentiment, in Madame Roland; and yet there is a tint of vulgar prejudice, even of ferocity, seen throughout her auto-biography, that chills all sympathy. Roland, the husband of this lady, an honest, rigid personage, a philosophic puritan, born to be at most the chief clerk of a ministerial office, was fixed-on by Louis as the minister of interior that he was to select from the Girondists. Dumou riez had the department of war, and made himself agreeable to the king and to his diminutive court; whilst Roland, unkempt, in round hat, and strings in his shoes, stalked into the royal presence. A ghost would have excited more welcome and less horror. “What! a man without buckles' exclaimed the horrified master of the ceremonies. “Ah!” ejaculated Dumouriez, covering with gravity an inclination to laugh outright, “if it be come to that, all is lost.” The task of the new ministers and their party was to remove the state of suspense in which affairs, both domestic and foreign, remained, to bring matters to a crisis with the leagued sovereigns and with their own. An open manifestation of opinion was demanded of the emperor. He required, in reply, that France should recur to the state of government and parties which existed when the royal sitting took place at the commencement of the constituent assembly. This was a peremptory summons directed to the torrent or the whirlwind. The assembly replied, in April, 1792, by a declaration of war. One half of the scheme of the Girondists was thus fulfilled: the other was to force the king to resign himself freely to the current of the revolution, join with it, that is, with them, else their resolve was to force or to dethrone him. Their W. of reasoning were first employed to bend the monarch
ergniaud, Gaudet, and Gensonné drew up and sent to him a letter of exhortation to this effect; but Louis was by no means so meekly disposed as he had been when the assembly met. His queen was irritated by the revival of the popular feeling against her, produced by the demands of the emperor her nephew. The Girondist ministers made themselves odious to what still called itself a court, by their uncouthness and pretensions; and, above all, Dumouriez was false. Feeling himself in office, he broke with the Girondists, as he had done with the constitutionalists, and influenced the king to resist their counsels and insinuations. He sought to play the part of Mirabeau, without that great man's tact and powers. The effect of this conduct was unfortunate. It raised the spirits of the old royalist party, and induced Louis once more to listen to them. The first action that took place on the frontiers, was unfavorable to the revolutionary soldiers. They fled in a panic, and massacred their leader, Dillon, who expostulated and sought to rally them. This raised still higher the hopes of the small knot of young military that still thronged in the outer saloons of the Tuilleries. The populace were proportionally awakened and excited; and thus were sown afresh the seeds of insurrection.
Dumouriez endeavored to support himself in a medium between contending parties. He caused the infamous Marat to be accused for exciting to sedition, in his journal called the “Ami du Peuple.” A royalist writer was at the same time summoned to answer; but the minister could not communicate even his own share of prudence to the king. Pique, rather than policy, now came to govern Louis. The assembly had voted him a constitutional guard, the greater part of it to be raised from the youth of the middle classes composing the national force of the provinces. It had been tampered with: its officers showed that spirit of hostility to the assembly which had gained the favor of the court. The assembly at length issued a decree, breaking this troop. They at the same time, indeed, ordered its place to be supplied by new levies; but the king, irritated at finding himself thus controlled, refused to have any guard whatever, and occupied his . palace, exposed at all times to the irruptions of the rabble.