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1793

the bar,t and demanded" (1.) The suppression of the commission of twelve. (2.) A revolutionary army of sans culottes. (3.) A decree of " accusation against twenty-two deputies, and the members of the before" named commission. (4.) A diminution of the price of bread. (5.) The “ dispatch of commissioners to the southern provinces, there to put a stop " to the counter-revolution. (6.) The arrest of Clavieres, minister of “ finance, and le Brun, minister for foreign affairs." --After this, the department of Paris appearing, demanded a decree of accusation against a number of persons whom they pointed out; the most distinguished of whom were Brissot, Roland, Clavieres, le Brun, Guadet, Isnard, Guadet, Vergniaud, and Gensonne.

The convention was again thrown into a state of uproar, whilst the mob clamorously demanded a compliance with their required proscription. Some of the deputies would have maintained the dignity and independency of the assembly by a refusal; but these were at last borne down, and a decree was passed for the arrest of twenty-four persons, whose names were pointed out. I

When the partisans of this revolution had thus accomplished their purpose by the removal of their rivals, they proceeded in their work of arranging the new constitution: and, to prepossess the nation in favour of themselves and their undertaking, they began by publishing a declaration of the rights of man. || _ The new constitution having been discussed article by article, the constitutional act was passed, consisting of a hundred and twenty-four articles, and was formally announced to the public.—The unthinking multitude received it as the palladium of their liberties; not considering how ineffectual any constitution, however perfect, must prove to the actual enjoyment of freedom, whilst it was in the power of a faction to devote to destruction all who dared to oppose their interests. We may form our judgment of this matter from the representation of one of the most intelligent historians of this period; who informs us, “ that the government was «confided to two sections consisting of twelve deputies. One was called " the committee of pubtic safety; and the other the committee of general safety. They were to be renewed every month: but by one of the

« incalculable + May 31.

I June 2.

|| June 23. b Gifford. 5. 751.

Idem. 752.

Idem. 753. VOL. II.

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" incalculable effects of fear, which blinds those whom it governs, the « convention, divesting itself of its inviolability, intrusted the committees « with the formidable right of imprisoning its members; and thus rendered “ the power of the government as solid as it was extensive. Every deputy « who should propose to change the committees would find himself pro“ scribed; and from this moment, tyranny was unrestrained, and slavery « unbounded.”

Tremendous as was the power usurped by the jacobins, the girondists or brissotines did not give up the contest; but seemed determined to regain their lost ascendency in the state, or fall with the arms in their hands. Brissot and other deputies who had evaded the force of the proscription by escape, passed into the provinces; and, directing their eloquence to new objects, they earnestly exhorted the provincials to save themselves from subjection to the tyranny of a faction by a general insurrection. Nor were they disappointed of their ends.—Lyons, where the royalists had ever possessed considerable influence, was instantly in a state of revolt; and a resolution was passed, by a congress of the department, to send a force for the reduction of Paris. Its example was followed by Marseilles, Bourdeaux, and the Gironde department.--Those in the Vendée and Bretagne, already in arms, were ready to co-operate with them in the destruction of the existing government, whilst the French frontiers were invaded by the Austrian and English forces in the north, by the Spaniards on the side of Roussillon, and by the British fleet at Toulon; at the same time that they were threatened by the Prussians on the Rhine. This unhappy country, after a long progression in misery, seemed now at last to be overwhelmed by all the calamities that foreign and domestic war could bring on it;

-scissa gaudens vadit discordia palla: quam cum sanguineo. sequitur Bellona flagello..

In the midst of these scenes of civil disorder and national tumult, the cruel, ferocious Marat, that unprincipled, blood-thirsty wretch, who, at an early period of the revolution, declared that three hundred thousand heads must be struck off before liberty could be established, fell by the hands

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1798

of Charlotte Corday.' This female, whose natural enthusiasm appears to have been inflamed by conversation with the fugitive deputies, came forward as the avenger of that injured party and of the cause of liberty, and plunged a dagger into his breast whilst she was conversing with him. fils And, as if desirous of falling a victim to the deed, she made no attempt to escape, and suffered the stroke of death with heroic fortitude.

When posterity shall contemplate the present circumstances of this country, it will be matter of astonishment that a nation so rent by faction should have been able to confront with success the numerous foreign armies which were threatening to invade it and to unite their arms with those of the revolters who sprung up, at this period, in every quarter; that the most desperately wicked and unprincipled faction that ever disgraced the history of any people should have maintained its usurpation, in defiance of the influence and intrigues of its adversaries, during so long a space.

To account for this, we may observe, that; whilst virtue, integrity and honour are the pillars of every well constituted and well conducted state, the French government, the offspring of licentiousness and usurpation, was, for similar reasons, to be preserved by a departure from all principle, except that of fear, on which it was founded. By the terror of its proscriptions and executions, as well as the success of its arms, it suppressed revolt. By an adherence to the same principle it enforced compliance with every measure of government which was essential to the personal views of the prevailing faction or the national defence. When milliards of assignats were issued, to provide supplies, they were circulated, because resistance would have been useless and dangerous. When the property of the rich was to be seized and appropriated to the same use, they were accused of disaffection to the republic; and, under that charge, they were constrained to submit to violence upon the same principle of fear. For whilst tyranny had its spies and agents of oppression in every corner of the country, injured virtue, unless it merited protection by servile submission, was every where abandoned to its rigours, and dared not even to utter its grief in lamentations. The want of other motives of action was, moreover, compensated, for the instant, by that energy, which distinguished the movements

of + July 13.

h Gifford. 759. Ann. Regist. 266.

vere C

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of this eccentric government; and this was excited by the enthusiastic . fondness for their ideal liberty, which the jacobin leaders inspired in the breasts of their votaries. To this it was owing that when Barrere proposed that the people of France should rise in a mass in defence of their country, and in support of the constitution, f his proposition was received with bursts of applause; and a decree for that purpose was immediately carried into execution. Twelve hundred thousand men were prepared for the field : And a forced loan, sanctioned by political necessity, was devised, among other expedients, for the payment of them."

Danton and Roberspierre had long rivalled each other in their influence with this party : the former appeared to be born for turbulent times; he was endowed with a strong understanding and popular eloquence; he was enterprising and ambitious, without any fixed principles or destined object, except power in general, and rapacious with a view only to the indulgence of his voluptuousness: the latter was distinguished by no talent but craft. But he supplied the defect of every virtue, and every quality that could merit the affections of men, by that grand secret among demagogues of assimilating his sentiments and manners to those of the multitude whose passions he was to direct. Frugal in his expences, and simple and unassuming in his manners and external appearance, he courted the populace, whose favourite object was equality and whose ruling passion was the love of liberty, by affecting to despise wealth and to have an aversion to every kind of eminence, except that which was the reward of the patriotic ardour, by which alone he pretended to be actuated.* Continually alarmed himself by the fears of plots, he excited the same dread in others; sanguinary himself, he gave countenance to the atrocities practised by his adherents,

and

# August 15. * An affectation of contempt for rank and titles was a well chosen expedient in these party leaders. Men of illiberal minds are, in general, desirous to destroy those distinctions in society which they despair of attaining. But few men have a contempt of them upon any other ground; and their desire of them will generally be seen to discover itself with the possibility of possessing them. “ Cromwell himself,” says Swift, “ was pleased with the impudence of a fratterer, who 66 undertook“to prove him descended from a branch of the royal stem.--I know a citizen” (says he, with his characteristic humour and shrewdness of observation) " who adds or alters a letter of his " name with every plumb that he acquires; he now wants only the change of a vowel to be allied " to a sovereign prince in Italy; and thai, perhaps, he may contrive to be done by a mistake of “ the graver upon his tombstone."-Swift's Examiner. No. 40. i Annual Register. 268.

& Segur. 3. 68.

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and avoided proscription by being the most dreadful of proscribers. In a word, he appeared to be, in all respects, one of the populace, possessing in an eminent degree their sentiments and their passions; and in supporting his power and interests they, in idea, supported their own." By making the populace the instruments of his will he was enabled to free himself from the opposition of men who were his rivals in villany and far his superiors in talents, as well as those whose virtues rendered them objects of his enmity; and we shall, in the progress of the revolution, see the Sidneys of France, persons whose genius would have done honour to a happier age, carried to the scaffold with the base and profligate Orleans and the daring and ambitious Danton.

Such appear to have been the chief causes of the temporary triumph of this releniless tyrant over his domestic adversaries.—The success which attended him and his partisans in their contest with thc foreign enemies of the government were owing to other causes. The national energy could not have produced such effects, had it not been directed by some men of talents, had not the republican armies been commanded by able generals, who seemed to rise up as occasions demanded them. Nor would these circumstances, probably, have given them success, had not the French government been indebted to a want of judgment, of public spirit, and a firm, disinterested attachment to the common cause, in the confederates. Disappointment in warlike enterprises is frequently owing to the presumption which success inspires. -The prince of Cobourg, in his first manifesto, disclaimed all idea of conquest, and declared that he intended only to assist the party who wished to destroy tyranny, to deliver the royal family, and to restore the constitutional monarchy of 1791. But this was soon disavowed; and the allies evinced by their conduct that they had a view to the re-establishment of the ancient monarchy.--Had the allies adhered to the prince's manifesto, and, remaining on the frontier after they had recovered the Austrian territories, had they only afforded the desired succours to the revolters, they would have merited the friendship of the very numerous. partisans of the monarchic constitution of 1789, who were ardently desirous, to free themselves from the tyranny of the jacobins: whereas by departing from it, they made all except the weak, disunited party of aristocrats, and

especially un Segur. 3. 64.

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