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and the fact of his having no seat in the tion. I give it up to you; combine, all of you, Legislative Assembly.
"You ask me," said he, "what I have done. Oh! a great thing, no doubt. I gave Brissot and Condorcet to France. I said one day to the Constituent Assembly, that in order to impress an august character upon its work, it ought to set the people a grand example of disinterestedness and magnanimity,-that the virtues of the legislators ought to be the first lesson of the citizens; and I proposed to it to decree that none of its members should be capable of being re-elected to the second legislature: this proposition was received with enthusiasm. Without it, perhaps, many among them would have remained in obscurity; and who can say that the choice of the people of Paris might not have called me to the place which is now occupied by Brissot and Condorcet? This action cannot be counted for nothing by M. Brissot, who in the panegyric of his friend, referring to his connexion with d'Alembert and his academical glory, has reproached us with the temerity with which we passed judgment on men whom he called our masters in patriotism and in liberty. I should have thought, for my part, that in that art we had no other masters but
to tear it to pieces; unite yourselves to that
His earnest disclaimer of all feelings of personal animosity, of all desires but those of the public good, was admirably adapted for his purpose. It was not he that had made the present fierce dissension in the Jacobins; he indulged in no personal malice; he had no personal resentments to
gratify; he could embrace Brissot and Guadet and the whole Gironde, but only upon condition that they joined him and the real friends of the Revolution, heart and hand, against the common enemy. Using a bold and singularly characteristic figure, he says "Faites mouvoir horizontalement le glaive des lois pour frapper toutes les têtes des grands conspirateurs."
Whether these offers were sincere or not, they were not accepted. The Girondists widened the breach by renewed attacks, of the unfairness of which Robespierre complained bitterly.
"But what," he says, "is the species of ostracism of which you speak? Is it to renounce every kind of public employment even for the future? If you need securities against me, speak: I undertake to deposit in your hands the authentic and solemn engagement. Is it an undertaking never to raise my voice to defend the principles of the constitution and the rights of the people? With what face dare you propose it to me? Is it a voluntary exile, as M. Guadet has in proper terms announced it? Oh! it is ambitious men and tyrants whom there is need to banish. For me, whither would you that I should withdraw The strife was soon remyself? What is the people among whom I should find liberty established? And what newed, and the result was again the defeat despot would grant me an asylum? Ah! we of the Girondists. Then, indeed, when can abandon our country when happy and they began really to feel his power, they triumphant; but menaced, but torn to pieces, proceeded to make advances to him. but oppressed! we cannot fly from it, we must the 25th of August of this year (1792) save it or die for it. Heaven, which gave me a soul filled with a passion for liberty, and Madame Roland wrote him a letter, eviwhich ordained that I should be born under dently intended to conciliate him; but it domination of tyrants,-heaven, which pro- was too late, and Robespierre was not the longed my existence to the reign of factions man to be flattered out of his revenge at and crimes, calls me perhaps to trace with my any time by either man or woman. blood the path which is to lead my country to those who represent him as of a capacity happiness and liberty; I accept with transport that pleasant and glorious destiny. Do poor and low, and as altogether the creature you exact of me another sacrifice? Yes, of circumstances, recollect that nevertheless disproportion bethere is one which you may yet demand; 1 this man, with such " offer it to my country; it is that of my reputa- tween his mischievous propensities and
his power to injure," defeated the Gironde, with all their ministerial power and influence, defeated them when their power was the greatest; when they had, or appeared to have, the mass of the regular army and even the majority of the national guards on their side.
could you conclude from that in your favor? Will you say that I lavished treasures, which I had not, to secure the triumph of principles engraven upon all hearts ?"
After answering the question "why he had resigned the place of public accuser It has been affirmed that the September and accepted the title of municipal officer," massacres were perpetrated for the purpose he comes to the subject of the arrests made of securing the election of Robespierre and by the commune of Paris towards the end of his partisans for the city of Paris. For August, and he admits that they were illegal, this assertion there is no satisfactory evi- as illegal as the Revolution, as the fall dence. Robespierre's popularity was quite of the throne and of the Bastille." He asks sufficient to have ensured his election if if they would have "a revolution without there had been no massacres. At the same revolution," and he tells them that the men of the Revolution would have a right to say
time, though it does not appear that he bore a direct part in the instigation of them, the line which he took in discussing them, the manner in which he defended the commune of Paris in connexion with these massacres, fully attest his approval of them,-fully establish the fact, that from this time he had passed the Rubicon, had determined on the course which was thenceforth to stamp the Revolution emphatically with the characters of terror and blood.
"If you disavow the means which we have employed to conquer, leave us the fruits of victory; take back your constitution and all your ancient laws, but restore to us the price of our sacrifices and our combats; give us back our fellow-citizens, our brothers, our children, who have died for the common cause."
But he exclaims
"L'univers, la postérité, ne verra dans ces événemens que leur cause sacrée et leur sublime résultat; vous devez les voir comme elles; vous devez les juger, non en juges de paix, mais en hommes d'état et en législateurs du monde ;
On the 20th of September, 1792, the National Convention met: on the 21st it opened its deliberations. On the 25th the struggle between the Girondists and Robespierre was commenced in the Convention, by a charge made against him of aim-et ne pensez pas que j'aie invoqué ces princiing at the dictatorship; to this he replied at considerable length.
pes éternels parceque nous avons besoin de couvrir d'un voile quelques actions répréhensibles; non, nous n'avons point failli; j'en jure par le trône renversé, et par la République qui s'élève!"
On the 29th of October, Robespierre having said that there was no one in the Assembly who dared to accuse him face to face, Louvet ran to the foot of the tribune, He then refers to the events of the 2nd and demanded "la parole pour accuser of September, in which he denies all partiRobespierre;" he then made a long speech, cipation, asserting that the massacres were in the course of which he mentioned a cir- the spontaneous act of the people themcumstance which would appear to show selves, going to meet the enemy on the fronthat Robespierre had even then assumed tier, and unwilling to leave their families at some of the insignia of dictatorship. "In the mercy of conspirators. But it But it is not leaving the Electoral Assembly," said Lou- very easy to see how conspirators in strong vet, "I was insulted by Robespierre's places of custody could be dangerous; and gardes-du-corps, those men armed with it is not pretended that it was the people large bludgeons and sabres, who accompany that put so many of them into the prisons him almost everywhere." On the 5th of only a few days before. This defence is a November Robespierre replied in a speech lame one, but it is not the principal posidouble the length of Louvet's; it was upon tion which Robespierre takes up in defence the whole a performance of great ability of the commune. He argues that the blow and contained some striking passages. In regard to the old grievance of his popularity and his influence in the Jacobin Club, he said :
only struck the guilty, and he then indulges in a burst of pathos on the supposition that a single innocent person has perished. Towards the conclusion he refers to an allu"The majority of the Jacobins rejected your sion in Roland's report on the situation of opinions; they were wrong, no doubt. The Paris since the 10th of August, a report public was not more favorable to you. What which he characterizes as "bien astuci
eux;" and he breaks out into that memorable apostrophe to Roland :
"O virtuous man, man exclusively, eternally virtuous, whither would you go by these dark paths! You have tried public opinion; you have stopped short, terrified at the step you yourself have taken: you have done well: nature has not moulded you either for great actions or great attempts murmurs]. I stop here out of regard for you; but another time, examine better the instruments that are put into your hands: you do not know the abominable history of the man of the enigmatical missive; seek it, if you have the courage, in the records of the police. You will one day know what value you ought to attach to the moderation of the enemy whom you sought to destroy."*
On the 3rd of December Robespierre delivered his opinion in the Convention on the question of the King's trial. He was the only one, we believe, except Saint-Just, who got out of the lawyer-like quibble about the Assembly's having a legal power to try the King.
been led far away from the true question. "The Assembly," said Robespierre, "has There is here no trial to make. Louis is not an accused citizen, you are not his judges; you tatives of the nation. You have no sentence are, you can only be, statesmen and represento deliver for or against an individual, but a measure of public security to adopt, an act of national providence to exercise. What is the measure which sound policy recommends to cement the rising republic? It is to engrave royalty, and to strike with terror all the King's deeply on the people's hearts a contempt for
Whatever the effect of this speech, the result was a complete triumph for Robes-partisans.......... The question has been decided pierre, the order of the day having been voted by a very large majority, and his defence ordered to be printed. The result had been looked for with the greatest impatience throughout the capital; numerous patrols traversed the streets; all the posts had been reinforced. On the terrace of the Feuillans there were more national guards than people. "It is strange enough," remarked the Patriote Français,' "that the general who all at once has found so many patrols to protect Robespierre, whom nobody threatens, did not find one on the 2nd of September and the following days to save the prisoners whom they were massacreing, and who were under the safeguard of the laws."
by these words:-Louis has been dethroned
Robespierre was received at the Jacobins like a hero returning from a great victory. They praised "his virtue, his integrity, his profound wisdom, his masculine and natu- After showing that they were confoundral eloquence, also that greatness, that gen- ing the rules of civil law with the princierosity, that forgetfulness of self, which ples of the law of nations, and that Louis were the marks of his character." But he was to be regarded as a prisoner of war, himself was silent amid all this babble, de- he proceeds to the question how that prisclining all invitations to give his worship-oner of war should be dealt with. ers any further specimen of that "élo- "To what punishment shall we condemn quence mâle et naïve ;" probably not includ- Louis? The punishment of death is too ing among the thoughts that succeeded cruel.-No, says another, life is more cruel each other in his brain, the contemplation still; let him live. Advocates of the King, of the change which might within the space of a few months come over this wild dream of popular idolatry and unclouded success.
*We have followed the report of this speech in the Choix de Rapports;' it differs very slightly from the report in the 'Histoire Parlementaire,' which is from the 'Lettres à mes Commettans.' In the passage relating to Roland, we think the former the clearer from the division of the paragraphs.
is it from pity or from cruelty that you wish to withdraw him from the penalty of his crimes? For my part, I abhor the punishment of death, inflicted so unsparingly by your laws, and I have for Louis neither love nor hatred; I hate only his crimes. I asked for the abolition of the punishment of death in the Assembly which you still call Constituent, and it is not my fault if the first principles of reason appeared to it moral and political heresies; but if you never thought of renounc
ing them in favor of so many unfortunate men whose offences are less theirs than those of the government, by what fatality do you remember them only to plead the cause of the greatest of all criminals? You demand an exception to the punishment of death for
French and English, are lavish of their scorn as well as hatred for the Girondists; but it is not so with Cromwell and Robespierre, there may be hatred, but "those who hate them dare not to despise."
him alone who can render it legitimate! Yes, Notwithstanding the majority which the the punishment of death in general is a crime, Girondists still had in the Convention, the and for this reason alone, that, according to Mountain was more powerful, from its the indestructible principles of nature, it can connection with the communes and its be justified only in the cases where it is neces-influence over the populace. On the 10th sary for the security of individuals or of soci of March, 1793, the Revolutionary Tribuety; now the public security never calls for it against ordinary offences, because society nal, at first called the Tribunal Criminel can always prevent them by other means, Extraordinaire, was established. The deand put it out of the power of the guilty to be fection of Dumouriez early in April gave dangerous: but a dethroned king in the Robespierre an opportunity of attacking the bosom of a Revolution, which is nothing less Girondists, by charging them with being the than cemented by laws, a king whose name alone brings down the plague of war upon the whether it be considered as proved or not, general's accomplices, a charge which, agitated nation, neither imprisonment nor exile can render his existence a matter of indif- he managed with such art as to render it erence to the public welfare, and this cruel ex- a most effective instrument for their deception to ordinary laws, which justice avows, struction. In the course of his speech, can only be imputed to the nature of his delivered in the Convention on the 18th of crimes. I pronounce with regret this fatal April, 1793, against the members of the truth; but Louis must die, because the coun- Orleans family, and against Vergniaud, try must live. A people at peace, free and respected within and without, might listen to Guadet, Gensonné, Brissot, etc., he gave the advice which is given you to be generous; the following powerful summary of the but a people whose liberty is still disputed intrigues which he imputes to the Girondists after so many sacrifices and combats, cannot while they were in office, we can hardly afford to do so." say in power-for, as these events showed, power and office were not then equivalent terms:
Robespierre's speeches on the King's trial have been sometimes mentioned as
his highest efforts. They perhaps exhibit more vigor of mind than any of his other speeches, though his fame either for eloquence or rhetorical strategy will not rest upon them. But we think some of his letters to his constituents show a higher and more comprehensive reach of thought than any other of his compositions.
In Robespierre's conduct hitherto there had appeared few of those darker shades of his character which afterwards became so prominent; the insatiable spirit of jealousy and suspicion, which was soon to hurry to the guillotine so many men who had been his friends, had as yet only manifested itself towards those with whom he certainly had never acted in any degree. His defence of the September massacres was on the ground of urgent and inevitable state necessity. His conduct in regard to the King's fate was only that of a
"They have called all the friends of the country agitators, anarchists; they have sometimes even raised up real ones to substantiate this calumny. They have shown themselves adepts in the art of covering their own crimes by imputing them to the people: they have betimes alarmed the citizens with separated the interests of the rich from those phantoms of an agrarian law; they have
of the poor; they have offered themselves to the former as their protectors against the sans-culottes; they have drawn to their party all the enemies of equality. Masters of the government and of the disposal of all places, predominant in the tribunals, and in the administrative bodies, depositaries of the public treasure, they have employed all their power to arrest the progress of public spirit, to awaken royalism and to resuscitate aristocracy; they have oppressed the energetic patriots, protected the hypocritical moderates; they have corrupted the people's defenders, one after another; attached to their cause those who showed some talent, and persecut
ed those whom they could not seduce."
man of sound sense and force of character. Those who, having a conquered enemy in In this speech he said that Lafayette their power, do not take effective measures had run almost precisely the same course to prevent his being dangerous, bring upon of perfidy and intrigue as Dumouriez : themselves the scorn even of those who "He had only forgotten one thing,-to profit by their weakness. Royalists, both | begin like Dumouriez with a success.'
When Robespierre left the tribune, soupçonnera certainement pas, si toutefois Vergniaud immediately took his place il est quelqu'un que Robespierre puisse ne there, and began in a calm tone to defend pas soupçonner." The royalist journals himself against his accuser. "J'oserai ré- had represented Robespierre as saying, pondre à Monsieur Robespierre," he be- "La cour conspire, les généraux conspigan, but he was interrupted by the "mur- rent, les directoires conspirent, les tribumures" of the "tribunes publiques.' naux conspirent, TOUT CONSPIre." Again and again he attempted to speak, Lord Brougham bestows very high praise but in vain: the noise continued. But upon the conclusion of Robespierre's adVergniaud remained at the tribune, and dress on the 31st of May against the Gironat last his perseverance and the efforts of dists. While he was proceeding thusthe president obtained for him a hearing." Non! il faut purger l'armée ! Il faut-” He soon fixed the general attention: the Vergniaud impatiently interrupted him with facility, the order, the charm of his extem-" Concluez donc !" whereupon Robespore address, excited the admiration even pierre instantly turned on him and continof his adversaries. He characterized Ro- ued:bespierre's speech as "un roman perfide, artificieusement écrit dans le silence du
cabinet," adding, "j'oserai lui répondre sans méditation; je n'ai pas comme lui besoin d'art; il suffit de mon âme." Alas poor Vergniaud!
"Oui! je vais conclure, et contre vous!Août, avez vovlu conduire à l'échafaud ceux contre vous, qui, après la Révolution du 10 qui l'ont faite contre vous, qui n'avez cessé de provoquer la destruction de Paris! contre vous, qui avez voulu sauver le tyran!—contre Vergniaud's eloquence has been much vous, qui avez conspiré avec Dumouriez !— praised. As far as we can judge, we contre vous, qui avez poursuivi avec acharneshould say that, although he probably pos- mandait la tête!-contre vous, dont les venment les mêmes patriotes dont Dumouriez desessed much greater facility in extempore geances criminelles ont provoqué les mêmes reply than Robespierre, he was immea- cris d'indignation dont vous voulez faire un surably inferior to him in the higher quali-crime à ceux qui sont vos victimes! Eh bien! ties of an orator. His reply on this ma conclusion c'est le décret d'accusation conoccasion, viewed merely as a piece of com- tre tous les complices de Dumouriez et contre position, seems to us very inferior to his tous ceux qui ont été désignés par les pétitionneaires!" rival's speech.
On the 12th of April Guadet replied to Robespierre, and he also, like Vergniaud, Lord Brougham then adds, "The Gispoke extempore. It was in the course of ronde party were undone," as if their undohis speech, that at the words "votre Dan- ing were the immediate effect of Robeston-" Danton exclaimed, "Ah! tu pierre's oratory; whereas that effect was m'accuses moi! tu ne connais pas ma produced by the armed mob of Paris, not an force," On which Guadet thus continued, hundredth part of whom could possibly "Votre Danton . . . . si toutefois on peut hear this last peal of the Jacobin thunder, but appeler vôtre celui qui dans le nombre de who had unlimited faith in the "Incorses agens vous place au troisième rang." ruptible" being their friend, and in the Who shall say what effect this observation, Gironde being their enemies. In fact, the thus publicly made, may have had on Dan- fall of the Girondists was as much producton's own fate? Certainly a man like ed by pike and artillery as the expulsion of Robespierre was not likely easily to forgive the Five Hundred was by artillery and bayDanton or any body else for classing him onet. The course of Robespierre's life, in the third rank of his agents. In the which had earned for him the appellation course of his speech Guadet pointed at the of "incorruptible," joined to the power of leading feature of Robespierre's character mind which could produce such passages -suspicion, alluding to a fact as being as the above, had given him a command of attested by men whom "Robespierre ne pikes and artillery nearly as effective for the time as the arms which Napoleon's vic*The extraordinary license in expressing their tories afterwards gave him. A man devoid opinions and consequent influence which the both of judgment and force of character strangers' galleries had upon the deliberations of might make as striking a conclusion as that the National Assemblies during this Revolution seem almost to afford a ground for the word tri-quoted above, but then such a man must bune being used in this double and sometimes not expect to have some twenty heads for misleading sense.