Monday, August 18, 1794.
Execution of Robespierre
Three factions have successively reigned in France since Royalty was abolished:–That of the Girondins, that of the Hebertists, and lastly that of Robespierre. Their Chiefs have each in their turn fallen a sacrifice; and it is not difficult to discover, that the faction which has just obtained the sceptre of anarchy, will soon experience the same fate.
Of all the Chiefs of the different factions which have successively reigned in the volcano of the French Revolution, Robespierre was the man whose Government promised to be the most durable; because he had the character of being the most incorruptible, and of being the man who had shewn the least variation in his conduct. The cause of his overthrow will, no doubt, be accounted for in the number of terrible executions which he ordered, and which brought upon him an host of enemies. But how is it possible to be harsh and not sanguinary, in aspiring to become the Leader of a Revolutionary Government, which can only exist amidst storms and factions.
We shall not, however, now anticipate the consequences of this new Revolution. The circumstances are not yet sufficiently known to comment on them. We have therefore confined ourselves in giving a very faithful analysis of the proceedings of the Convention, from the 27th of July to the 30th, during which time the Sittings were permanent day and night. Our extracts have been made with great care; and we trust the history will be found clear and connected. It is taken from the Papers of the Moniteur of the 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st of July; and we believe there are not three copies of so late a date in town.
In the night of the 27th and 28th, a seditious assemblage of Robespierre's adherents invested the Committee of General Safety, broke open the doors of it, and forcibly took possession of several pretended conspirators who were there under arrest, whom they conducted to the house of the Commune, where the Council General had raised the standard of rebellion, and had ordered the Sections of the city to communicate only with them, and to arm against the Convention. The Council general had moreover ordered that all officers and commandants nominated by the Legislative Body, should be arrested.
The Convention, on being informed of these facts, decreed, that all who should oppose its will, should be placed out of the reach of the law. It chose 12 of its Members to go to the National guard-house, and discharge the functions of the Representatives of the People, in the same manner as was done at the armies.–"Go, (said the Convention to these 12 Members), and may the sun not rise, until the rebels and conspirators are placed within the reach of the national justice."
By three o'clock on the morning of the 28th, the Representatives had got possession of the house of the Commune, with all the traitors who had shut themselves up in it. In the house was found a seal, very newly engraved, with the emblem of the Fleur de Lys. About the same hour, the Department of Paris presented an Address to the Convention, congratulating it on the steps it had taken for unmasking plots and traitors, and for once more saving the country from the brink of destruction; and it assured the Convention of its full co-operation in annihilating all seditious men. This deputation was followed by others from the different Sections, who assured the Convention that it would always find them ready to rally around it.
In the same sitting were arrested, Vivier, President of the Jacobins; Laschereau, a confidant of Robespierre's; St. Just; Le Bas; Payan, the National Agent; Henriot, the Commandant of the National Guard, who afterwards threw himself from a window and was killed; Fleurio, Mayor of Paris; Sijas; La Valette; Boulanger; Daubini; Dumas, President of the Revolutionary Tribunal; Nicolas, one of the Jury of the same Tribunal, and several others whose names are not mentioned. Le Bas shot himself by a pistol; the two Robespierres and Couthon attempted to do the same, but only wounded themselves; and were then taken into custody, to undergo the punishment of the law in a more public manner.
On the 28th, at ten o'clock at night, the above persons and many others were executed by torchlight in the Place de la Revolution, amidst an immense body of people (as many as were present at the late King's execution), who rent the air with the shouts of Vive la Republique! Vive la Convention!
There are various reports of subsequent massacres to those of the 28th and 29th ult. they may be true; but certainly there is no regular account in town of a later date than is in our possession. We have therefore contented ourselves with inserting that only which we know to be the fact.
Billaud Varennes, Barrere, and Collot d'Herbois, foreseeing the downfall of Robespierre's party, had the address to join the predominating faction; and thus have saved their necks.
Paris, July 31.
On the 22d and 23d, the Revolutionary Tribunal condemned to death eighty-one persons; and, on the 25th, 26th, and 27th, the same Tribunal condemned 135 others, among the latter, those most known, are–the famous Baron Trenck, aged 70 years; Chenier; the Marquis de Montalembert; C. A. Crequi de Montmorenci; Gresmana; Marshal d'Armentieres; the Duke de Clermont Tonnerre; the Marquis of Crussol d'Amboise; the Countess d'Ossure, formerly named Grammont; St. Simon, Bishop of Ahge; the Count Thiars; the Countess de Narbonne Pellet; the Princess Grimaldi Monaco; the Marquis d'Asson; the two Brothers Tradaine; the Countess de Perigord, wife of the banker.
The Revolutionary Tribunal on the 24th, condemned to death all the persons implicated in the plot for opening the prison of the Carmes. Among these prisoners were the Prince de Montbason Rohan, the Prince of Salm Kerbourg, the ex-constituent Gouy d'Arci, General Beauharnois, the ex constituent Latil, F. Ward, an Ex-General, and Santerre, the banker.
Notwithstanding all these executions, the number of prisoners is 7775, besides those confined in the Conciergerie.
A deputation from the Jacobins was admitted to the bar. It came to denounce the plots of the enemy, who, beaten and reduced to the situation of a revolted culprit, and threatened with severe chastisement, places his last resource in crime. "It is he," said the speaker, "who, degrading justice, and giving a ferocious character to indulgence, wishes that the conspirators would assassinate the patriots and liberty, even in the name of the country, that she may appear powerful and terrible only to her children, her friends and defenders. It is the enemy who would fill the Convention with terror, and break the bands which unite the Representatives. It is the enemy, who, in the printed petitions, under the name of Magenthies, represents the French nation as aiming at the dominion of the whole world; and degrading the decree which banishes atheism and immorality, calls your priests and prophets of what he calls ci-devant religion, and proposes to you to imbrue the pages of philosophy and morality with blood, in pronouncing the penalty of death against any person who might dare to utter these words–the sacred name of God. Every day that these writings, which are distributed with profusion, appear, tends to sully the purity of your decrees, of that which honours the Supreme Being, morality, and the people. Every day the Commissioner of the Movements of the Armies is surrounded with darkness; and those who ought to co operate in his labours, are frightened at the secrecy which covers them. There are great resources for the defence of the country; but these may be abused to betray her.
You have made justice the order of the day, and not indulgence; for that increases the audacity of the conspirators. Justice makes traitors tremble. Maintain the union which contributes your force– preserve, in its utmost purity, that sublime worship of which every citizen is the minister, and of which virtue is the sole practice. With you, this courageous people will brave all its enemies, and will respect and defend its representatives even unto death.
Dubois Crancé.–"Citizens, for these nine months I have been calumniated; but I have not yet been denounced as a traitor. My public life is known for the last five years. Employed, during fifteen months, in different missions, I have helped to destroy federalism at Lyons. I have sent 51,000 requisition men from Brittany, who are fighting the enemy; but whom, had it not been for me, might have joined the Chouans. Notwithstanding, wherever I have appeared I have been regarded as a traitor worthy of the scaffold. I have been accused of having suffered the Lyonese rebels to escape; they went out at the gate of Vaise, whilst the column to which I was attached as representative of the people guarded the gates of Croix Rousse and St. Clair, separated from the first by lofty mountains, across which it was necessary to march five leagues before I could reach the gate of Vaise, where my accusers themselves were on guard. The fact is, not one rebel escaped. Robespierre has denounced me as a traitor: perhaps he has been deceived. I have proved my innocence; restore me to the public esteem, and Robespierre himself will soon confess his error. Declare, then, that I have not deserved ill of the Republic–Referred to the Committees of Public and General Safety, the report to be made in less than three days.
Barrere, in the name of the Committees of Public Welfare and General Safety, made a long report to enlighten the good citizens under the present circumstances; after having called to mind the direful projects of all the intriguers who have sought to overturn liberty, such as the Girondists and Hebertists; taking notice of some factious people who had said, in the groups about the Convention, A 31st of May must be made; and after announcing the arrest of the author of an artificial petition presented to the Convention, to throw ridicule on the Feast dedicated to the Supreme Being, who has neutralized Atheism, and recalled Morality, he fixed the attention of the auditors upon the two remarkable epochs of the political life of the Convention: the first, from the 21st of September to the 31st of May, 1793; the second from the 3d of June to the present moment. "Propositions and murmurs analogous to the end of the first epoch," said Barrere, "are now secretly preparing. Complaints and menaces are making, as in the time of the audacious Brissotins and guilty Girondists; and it is to the exterminators of aristocracy, to the incorruptible Judges of tyranny, that this language is held."
Here the orator represents the Convention breaking the chains which some intriguers had prepared at the end of the Legislative Assembly, and triumphing over the obstacles opposed to the establishment of the Republick. He recalled the retreat of Brunswick, combines with the generals of the camp of La Lune, who stipulated for Berlin with two representatives of the people who betrayed the country, in concert with the Generals, that France might be ruined in Belgium. He shewed that the Executive Council of that time, labouring for the counter-Revolution, opened the Scheldt, to pave the way for a war on the part of Europe against France, and destroyed the resources that might be employed by France against Europe; that the Council, conducted by Roland, who assassinated the country by writings at home, and by Le Brun, who exterminated the Republick with agents abroad, was totally unfit for the purposes of Government and treacherous in the conduct of the war. "Le Brun," continued Barrere, "darkly treated with English emissaries, promised the destruction of the Mountain, and the triumph of the Brissotins, to treat at London on the bodies of firm and incorruptible patriots. He poisoned Belgium with the agents of the Council, some of whom were charged to make the French name abhorred, and others to strike so strongly and indecently upon religious prejudices, that they might be destroyed in appearance, and strengthened in reality."
Barrere then reviewed the conduct of the Generals. Dumourier, who fought the battle of Jemappe, to ruin the army and lay the frontier open, and who studied Belgium, that he might make himself its Sovereign–Montesquieu, who betrayed with impunity, and through cowardice left the borders of the Republic open to the enemy–Generals at the foot of the Pyrenées, forming staffs for armies which existed only in decrees, and leaving the frontier places unprovided with every thing necessary for their defence. In the Mediterranean the easy expeditions against Italy and the Pyrenées miscarried. On the ocean the ports were ill-managed, the preparations nugatory, the works without activity, the public spirit vitiated, the great stores of provisions sold to the corrupt ministry of London. La Vendée protected at its birth, attacked by forces ridiculously insufficient, nourished by the troops sent against it, paid by the farmers-general; the rebels spread on the banks of the Loire, communicating with the English, and coalescing with the Federalists. Buzot, Pethion, Guadet, &c. voted terrible laws against the royalists, caused to be represented at the theatres The Friends of the Laws, and plundered the grocers shops.
"Exasperation was on both sides of the assembly whilst Dumourier trafficked with victory in the marshes of Holland, gave up the advanced posts of Aix-la-Chapelle, allowed himself to be beat at Nerwinde and driven from the Iron Mountain, and committed a cowardly act against the national representation. The faction of Brissot rendered the people immoral, urged them to excesses, and obtained a decree that assistance should be given to all the nations in the world, in order to form a a vast plan of war throughout the universe."
Barrere terminated the picture of this first epoch of the political life of the Convention, in representing it torn by faction, surrendered to a committee of general defence, where continual talk was made of declaring war against all the powers, of delivering the Indians from the British yoke, of creating insurrections in the English colonies; of making Canada free; to end in putting the nation in the irons of the Anglico-royal constitution. The dangers with which French liberty was menaced by this senseless system, were at length surmounted by the courage of some good citizens, who, on the 31st of May, triumphed over the royalist and federalist faction, secured its principal leaders, and stopped the republick on the brink of ruin.
Barrere then added to the account of the misfortunes and divisions of France, at the epoch of May 31, its present state of happiness and consolation. "From the Mediterranean to the German sea," said he, "from the mouths of the Rhone to the Ocean; from Colliouse to Toulon; from Bayonne to Dunkirk; and from Ostend to the banks of the Rhine, nothing is spoken of but the victories of the French. From Paris to the extremities of the Republick, all the workshops are in vigour, the works in activity, poverty abolished, the hospitals open, the popular societies peaceable, the suspected in prison, the counter-revolutionists punished with death, the emigrants shot, traitors punished, intriguers discovered. Lyons, that fortress of royalty, is restored upon the footing of the revolution; Toulon retaken in the middle of winter, a prodigy: the Englishmen and Spaniards shamefully flying far from that port; and the south of France preserved in the presence of the British robbers. The tri-coloured flag floats victorious in the Alps, the Pyrennées and the Vosgas. La Vendée destroyed, presents nothing but a military police to execute, and a more obedient population to maintain in agriculture; the Chouans discovered in their retreat; their communications with the English intercepted; and correspondence with the interior prevented; the murderous principles of federalists annihilated; the unity of the republick consecrated; the Colossus of the commercial power of England shaken; her foundation sapped by the French act of navigation; her commerce destroyed by our cruizers, and her coasts commanded by our squadrons; the tocsin of the first requisition sounding in every quarter; insurrection made orderly, and giving to our armies a victorious superiority over all the tyrants; the immoral and English factions punished with death; a rich convoy brought into our ports through the enemy's squadrons; the armies furnished with provisions; neutral vessels protected: the navy regenerated, so as to face three naval powers, and nearly ready to punish the tyranny of the seas in Albion; the Emperor driven to Vienna; the Duke of York fled to Holland; and all the troops of Europe exterminated or fugitives. In the midst of so many successes, the salutary institution, till peace, of a revolutionary government, which makes kings tremble, and which alone could, 100 years ago, have preserved England from the Cromwells and Georges, if the long parliament had possessed an institution as energetic, in lieu of its crimes and cowardice.
"The oppression of the patriots tended to excite intrigues and calumnies, artfully disseminated. Many winds wasted the tempest; and all the suspected men had sapped the soils which we tread. The mine has taken vent; we have escaped the storms; the trials of the counter-revolutionists shall be accelerated; the people shall incessantly be made acquainted with its real defenders, and liberty shall appear more beautiful in quitting the compressive state in which she was momentarily placed."
This report, which was often interrupted by applauses, was ordered to be printed and sent to all the sections of the French people.
The National Guard of Maubeuge was complimented upon the zeal it manifested during the siege of Landrecies. Some letters were read respecting the taking of Nieuport and Antwerp, concerning the means of disarming Belgium totally, and some verbal processes of the Army Commission; about the execution of Swann, Godatey, Vittermann, Stabéel, Malvange, Desprès, Labady, Sedame, Kindes, and Pettiesse, condemned to death for emigrating. Some decrees of very trifling importance were also passed.
Robespierre mounted the tribunal, and pronounced a long speech respecting the Revolutionary Government, and replied to the reproaches made against him, of aspiring to the Dictatorship. He said, that since the period of his having proclaimed the existence of a Supreme Being, the successors of Hebert and Danton had become more inveterate against him.–He then endeavoured to shew the falsehood of the reports circulated in the Convention and in Paris, of his having proposed to cause thirty Members to be arrested. He next touched on the situation of the Republic. "The Committees of Public Safety and General Surety (said he), contain the pillars of liberty, but the greater number are crushed. The decree against the English is not carried into execution. The system of Dumourier continues to be pursued in Belgium. They are replanting in that country the trees of liberty. They are driving to a distance the Cannoneers of Paris;–they are wishing to produce a change in the situation of the Republic. It is necessary that the Committees should act, but it is likewise necessary to superintend their operations. It is incumbent on the Convention to assume the dignity which belongs to its character."
Bourdon.–"I demand that this speech be referred to the Committees of General Surety and of Public Safety, in order that they may examine its contents, previous to its being printed."
Barrere was of the same opinion, and said, he estimated the privileges of a French Citizen.–"In a free country, every thing (said he) ought to be known."
Couthon said, it would be to degrade the Convention, to apply to a Committee, in order to determine whether a speech ought to be printed. He demanded, not only that it be printed, but transmitted to all the Communes. For a considerable time, a system of calumny had subsisted against the ancient pillars of the Revolution.–There were many immoral characters. The great body of the Representation was a model of human perfection; but he cautioned the Convention to be distrustful of the intriguers, and to let the proper line of distinction be marked out on the present occasion.
Vadier complained, that Robespierre in his speech had attacked the report made respecting Catherine Theos.
Robespierre said, he had no intention to attack the reporter.
Vadier.–"The affair of the pretended Mother of God is more important than is imagined; and this woman kept up a correspondence with Pitt, the Duchess of Bourbon, Bergasse, and others. If several obscure intriguers have crept into the offices of the Committee, they have been punished as soon as recognized. The Committee of General Security has constantly preserved a good understanding with that of Public Safety, and has never ceased to wage war against the Aristocrats."
Cambon observed, that Robespierre has brought a charge against the present system of finances, and had accused him of an endeavour to augment, by that system, the number of discontented persons.
Robespierre said, he spoke of the system alone, and, without being very profound in financial knowledge, it might readily be perceived, that a great number of indigent citizens were ruined by it.
Freron.–"The moment when liberty is to be revived, is that when the freedom of opinions is re-established. I demand, that the Convention rescind the decree which grants to the Committees the power of apprehending the Members of the Convention.–(Applauses). Where is the man who can dare to speak with freedom, when he dreads an arrest?"
Billaud Varennes observed, that, should the proposition now made be adopted, the Convention would undergo a shocking degradation.–"He who is prevented by dread from speaking his sentiments, is not worthy of the title of a Representative of the People."
Freron's proposition was supported by Pannis, who maintained, that liberty could not exist unless it should be adopted.
Barrere put an end to this debate, by observing, that it was time to put an end to the discussion, which served only the cause of Pitt and the Duke of York. He said, he had proposed to have Robespierre's speech printed, because every thing ought to be known in a free country.
After a long and turbulent debate, all the motions were evaded by the order of the day; and the Convention decreed the printing of Robespierre's speech, for the use of the Members.––This triumph of Robespierre was but of short duration.
Barrere then read several letters from the armies, by no means interesting.
Saint Just observed, that he was of no faction, but would contend against them all. "Your Committees of General Surety and Public Safety (said he), have charged me to make a report on the causes of the evident perversion of opinion: but I mean to address myself to you, and only in my own name."
Saint Just, who had come prepared to support the sentiments which had the day before been delivered from the tribune by Robespierre, was here interrupted by shouts of disapprobation from all quarters of the Convention.
Tallien spoke to order, and said, "The last speaker has set out with telling you, that he is of no party: I likewise espouse only the side of truth. Yesterday a Member of the Government (Robespierre), presented to you a report upon his own authority. To-day, another Member comes to speak to you in his own name. No good citizen can refrain from lamenting, with tears, the abject and calamitous state to which the Republic is reduced, when individuals pretend thus to dictate to you in their own name, and upon their own authority."
Billaud Varennes spoke on the same side, and said, "Yesterday the Society of the Jacobins was filled with apostates. Every person was admitted who came. An intention was there intimated, of murdering several Members of the Convention.–(The Hall resounded with murmurs). Yesterday I heard men uttering the most abominable calumnies against those who had never deviated from the Revolution. I see one of those wretches now sitting on the Mountain, who used these expressions.–(A general cry of Arrest him). The person alluded to was instantly seized, amidst very loud plaudits.
Billaud Varennes then proceeded as follows:–"The moment is arrived when truth must out. I wonder that St. Just should speak at the Tribune, after what has passed. He had promised to shew his speech to the Committee before he should speak it here. The Assembly will do wrong if it does not perceive that it is in the hands of two murderers. It is weak and resolute; it will inevitably perish."–"No, No!" cried the majority of the Members, waving their hats. The Galleries resounded with the same cries, calling out "Live the Convention, Live the Committee of Public Safety."
Le Bas desired to be heard; and insisted on speaking.
Delmas desired he should be called to order; but Le Bas still insisting to be heard, it was moved that he be sent to prison.
Billaud Varennes then continued his speech:–"You will shudder, (says he,) with horror, when you are apprized that the armed force of Paris is entrusted to parricidal hands. Henriot was denounced by the Revolutionary Tribunal as an accomplice of Hebert. What was the consequence? One man alone had the audacity to support him. Need I name who that individual was?–Robespierre. La Valette, one of the chiefs of the armed force, the only Noble who has been retained in a military trust, sharpens the poniards intended to inflict a fatal blow on the Representatives of the People. Under whose auspices has he been protected?–Robespierre's. I might quote many more proofs of the same audacity on the part of Robespierre, and of his infamous designs against Liberty.–Among others, I need only mention that he has been the author of the imprisonment of the Members of the Revolutionary Committee of the Section of Indivisibility; men of the most unsullied integrity, and of the most distinguished patriotism. I accuse him of having withdrawn himself from the Committee for these four last decades, since the decree with respect to the Revolutionary Tribunal passed on the 10th of June, which he alone devised; and which was badly received. Thus he intended to drive from the Convention every pure man; that is to say, every person who did not please himself, or whom he might suspect to be possessed of sufficient discernment to detect, and integrity to oppose, his ambitious views; and as a preparatory step to the establishing himself in that dictatorship, which has so long been the object of his wishes, he would have left none in the Convention but his creatures and dependents, men as vile as himself, and ready to forward all his detestable views. But his designs were discovered by the very means which he took to carry them into execution. From the facts which I have briefly stated, his intentions to corrupt the military, to enslave and to degrade the representation, appear plain and incontrovertible.
"I think I speak the voice of the Convention, when I say, that there is not a Representative who would exist under a tyrant?"–"No, No!" as the cry from all parts. "Let Tyrants perish."–Men who are always speaking of their own virtue and probity, are those who trample these qualities under foot. A Secretary of the Committee of Public Safety had robbed the Public of 114,000 livres. I demanded his arrest, but Robespierre screened him." (new murmurs) "I could recount to you, Citizens, a thousand other similar facts of this man. And yet it is he who dares to accuse us; we who spend our nights and days in the Committee of Public Safety, in organizing our victories. We must not hesitate either to fall on him with our bodies, or to suffer tyrants to triumph. It was his wish to mutilate the Convention, and to murder the Representatives of the Nation."
Robespierre here darted towards the Tribune. A number of voices, exclaimed–"Down with the Tyrant, Down with the Tyrant!"
Tallien–"I just now observed, that we must undraw the veil. I now see with pleasure that it is so: that the conspirators are unmasked, and that they will soon be annihilated–(Loud applauses.) Every thing bespeaks that the enemy of the National Representation is about to fall. In the house of that guilty man, who now stands humbled with the consciousness of detected guilt, and overwhelmed with that disapprobation which his infamous designs against liberty have so justly merited, were formed those lists of proscription which have stained with so much blood the altars of rising liberty: imitating the example of the detestable Sylla, his proscriptions were intended only to pave the way for his own power, and the establishment of a perpetual Dictatorship: happily, however, his designs have been discovered before he had time to execute them, or to add to that stream of blood which has already deluged France. His long success in villainy made him at last lay aside his wonted caution. He had advanced with such rapidity in the career of lawless ambition, that he already conceived himself arrived at the accomplishment of his wishes, and that, like Caesar, the name of King was only wanting to him, for the full establishment of his power. Was it to subject ourselves to so degrading, and so abject a tyranny, that we brought to the scaffold the last of the Capets, and lavished so much blood of French Citizens? Was it in order to acknowledge so petty a despot, that we declared eternal war against Kings, and swore to establish liberty at the price of life? No–the spirit of freedom has not sunk so low; the sense of that duty which virtuous men owe to their country is not yet extinguished. I invoke the shade of the virtuous Brutus, [fixing his eyes upon the bust.) Like him, I have a poniard to rid my country of the tyrant, if the Convention do not deliver him to the sword of justice. The Republic is to be established not only by the victories of our armies, by the vigilance of our councils, and the justice of our punishments. After the enumeration of facts which you have heard from the last speaker, is it necessary for me to remind you of the proceedings of that sitting of the Jacobins, where Dumas, President of the Revolutionary Tribunal, the creature and confederate of Robespierre, had the audacity to insult the Representatives of the people? Need I recall to you that expression, addressed to the Journalists, in one of the last Sittings of the Jacobins? "I prohibit you from inserting my discourses in your papers till you have previously communicated them to me." Here already we find the tone of the Dictator–the people shall know nothing except through my organ, and in the manner in which I shall be pleased to communicate it to them. Well indeed might he court the aid of silence and deception, whose designs were too infamous to be revealed, and whose conduct required to be glossed over with all the artifice of hypocrisy. But the French people were not to be so enslaved, after having shaken off the tyranny of force.
"Let us, Republicans, accuse him with the loyalty of true courage, in the presence of the French people. It is fit to enlighten our fellow citizens: liberty is alone the object of their affections. It is not an individual whom I attack: it is a vast conspiracy. I doubt not but the Convention will take speedy and efficacious measures and continue its sittings permanent, to save the people; and as it is of the utmost importance that the Chiefs of the armed forc[e] should do no mischief, I move that Henrio[t and] all his Staff be arrested. It is our wish that the President of the Revolutionary Tribunal should treat the accused with decency and justice. This is true virtue. I now move,
"That our sittings be permanent, until the sword of the law has secured to us this Revolution."–I also move:
"That Robespierre and his creatures be immediately arrested."–Decreed with loud applauses.
Billaud Varennes–"The men whom the Convention has just ordered to be arrested, are not the only ones who merit their indignation. I denounce, as accomplices of the Conspiracy, which was ready to burst forth, and annihilate the National Convention, a person named Boulanger, who, in making out a list of proscribed names, said to Hebert, 'write and we will strike;' Dufresne, who was engaged in the conspiracy with Dumourier; Dumas, who yesterday excited the Jacobins to the assassination of the people; and La Valette, Ex-Noble, one of the commanders of the Parisian armed force, who was protected by Robespierre. I demand that these individuals be immediately arrested."–Decreed.
Delmas demanded, that the Adjutant-Generals and Aids-de-Camp of Henriot, should be arrested.–Decreed.
Robespierre here again attempted to take possession of the tribune, but several voices called out, Down with the tyrant.
A general cry was then heard for Barrere to come forward and speak.
Robespierre insisted on being heard.
The President then called on Barrere to speak.
Barrere, in the name of the Committee of Public Safety, spoke as follows:–"Citizens, one of my colleagues, lately arrived from the army of the North, has informed the Committee, that an Officer belonging to the enemy, made prisoner in one of the last actions in Belgium, had said–"All your successes will avail you nothing. We do not hope that we shall be able to treat for peace with one party–with a fraction of the Convention, and soon be able to change your form of Government.
"St. Just has informed us of this observation made by the enemy's Officer. Would not this moment, so predicted, have been already arrived, if you had not taken vigorous measures? The two Committees cannot withhold this truth from you. The Government is attacked; its members are reproached; its operations are impeded;–the public confidence is suspended; and an attempt has been made to overawe all those who wish'd to prosecute tyrants.
"But have not your Committees been slandered as well as honest patriots? Has there not been an attempt to stir up the minds of the people against the Revolutionary Government? Would the English or Austrians wish any thing better?
An endeavour is made to excite the people to insurrection, and in the midst of a crisis for which every thing is prepared, to seize on the national power. In every free State where conjunctures like the present are not foreseen, you must be sensible that the public weal is endangered by every storm. Maintain, citizens, the Revolutionary Government, and have every confidence in your two Committees, without the help of which both the Republic and the Government would have been overthrown. They are the buckler, the asylum, and the sanctuary of the Unique, Central, and Revolutionary Government, and while they subsist, royalty and aristocracy will be humbled, vice subdued, and the republic rendered triumphant.
Your Committees are concerting measures to thwart the aims of the aristocracy: which since yesterday has fermented, with an activity that resembles a counter-revolutionary movement. The source of this evil seems to arise from the established and perpetual commandants of a powerful armed force, with their respective staffs, and a military establishment similar to that which existed in the time of Kings. These commandants are to answer with their heads for the safety of the National Representation, and the commotions the Aristocratic party may foment whenever any sudden change takes place in the Convention.
Barrere now proposed the following decree, which was adopted:
The National Convention, on report of its Committees of Public Safety and General Security, decrees as follows:
"1. All ranks superior to that of the Chief of a legion are suppressed. The National guard shall resume its original organization, and each Chief of a legion shall in consequence command in turn.
"2. The Mayor of Paris, the National Agent and he who shall be in his turn the Commandant of the National Guard, shall watch over the safety of the National Representation, and shall answer with their heads for all the commotions which may ensue in Paris.
"3. The present Decree shall be instantly sent to the Mayor of Paris.
"Since the 10th of June, I have never dared to behold that cunning man, who has had the art to wear so many different masks; and who, when he has not been able to save his creatures, has made no scruple to turn against them, and send them to the guillotine. No one is ignorant of the manner in which he defended Camille Desmoulins, Bazire, Chabot, and others, whom he afterwards betrayed. On the 10th of June the Tyrant (for that is the name I must give him).–[Applauses], moved a Resolution for establishing a Revolutionary Tribunal. He framed it himself, and Couthon proposed it, without having even read it; and yet he is the man who complains of Patriots being oppressed; he who imprisoned the Revolutionary Committee, composed of the most pure Patriots in Paris; he who, in order to arrest all who thwarted his views, instituted a General Police.
"The Committee of Government which conducts the operations of the armies, has done its duty. He has calumniated it, in order to throw division among its Members, and prevent any body of Patriots from having such influence as could oppose his tyranny. He has endeavoured to oppress me particularly, because I made a report which was not agreeable to his views.––If we were to credit the tyrant, he is the only true defender of liberty; Modest Man! (Laughter).
Tallien here moved, that the matter in debate should be more strictly attended to.
Robespierre said, he would bring the debate to its proper point. (Murmurs).
The Convention called upon Tallien to speak.
Tallien–"Citizens! The present is not the moment when we should employ our time on particular facts. What has been observed, is no doubt useful; but there is not a man in the assembly, who could not complain of the acts of the tyrant.
"It is to what passed yesterday, in the Club of the Jacobins, that I wish to call your attention. 'Tis there I meet the tyrant; 'tis there I discover the whole conspiracy; 'tis in his own speech, that I look for weapons to strike this man, whose virtue and patriotism have been so much extolled; but, who was not to be found on the 10th of August, till three whole days after the revolution; this man, who, previous to being in the Committee of Public Safety, abandoned his post for four decades. And when was it he did so? At the time when the army of the North, gave cause for great uneasiness. It was then he abandoned his post like a vile coward. I shall only further remark, that all the most shocking barbarities and atrocities, have been committed during the periods that Robespierre has had the principal care of the General Police."
Robespierre here attempted to interrupt Tallien, but was hooted down.
Louchet–"I demand the decree of arrest against Robespierre."
Losseau–"It is notorious, that Robespierre has acted as a dictator; and this charge alone, is sufficient for an act of accusation."
Louchet–"My motion is supported. Let us vote a decree of arrest."
Robespierre, the younger–"I am as guilty as my brother. I partake of his virtues. I therefore desire to be included in the decree of arrest."
Robespierre, here insulted the President and the Convention in the most opprobrious terms.
Charles Duval–"President, shall one man be suffered to dictate to the Convention?"
Losseau–"To the vote. Let us arrest the two brothers."
Billaud Varennes,–"I have some positive facts against Robespierre, which he dare not deny; I will mention only his having reproached the Committee for having disarmed the Citizens.
Robespierre.–"I said, there were some wretches."–(Murmurs).
Billaud Varennes–"Robespierre accused the Government of ordering all the images dedicated to the Supreme Being, to be demolished."
Couthon–"I took part with Robespierre."–(Murmurs).
–Several Members cried out–"Arrest them!"
–This was decreed.
All the Members here rose, and cried out–"Long live the Republic."
Louchet–"We have heard a vote of arrest against the two Robespierres, Couthon and St. Just"
Le Bas.–"I will not join in the guilt of this vote. I demand also to be arrested."
Freron.–"This day will be ever memorable in the annals of Liberty, and our country."
Robespierre–"And so it will, for knaves are triumphant."
Freron.–"These men wished to form a triumvirate which would recall the bloody proscriptions of Sylla; the triumvirs would have been Robespierre, St. Just and Couthon. The last is a tyger who thirsts for the blood of the National Representatives. He has dared, as a royal pastime, to speak in the Club of the Jacobins of cutting off five or six heads at a time."–"Yes, Yes!" resounded from all parts, "he would have made use of our carcases as so many steps to mount on the throne. I move, that Couthon, St. Just, and Le Bas be arrested."–Decreed by acclamation.
Collot de Herbois demanded, that St. Just lay on the table the speech he intended to pronounce, to contribute towards bringing about the Counter Revolution.–Adopted.
Collot said, "Citizens, your enemies tell you, that an insurrection, similar to that of May 31, must take place."
Robespierre the elder.–"He lies."–Great indignation in the Assembly.
Clausel demanded, that the decree of arrest be given to the ushers. The President replied, that the persons named in it refused to obey–"To the Bar, to the Bar," was heard on all sides. They descend to the bar.–(Applauses.)
Collot.–"The enemies of the country say, that an insurrection like that of May 31, must take place–100,000 Counter-Revolutionists were ready to lay hold of the first movement to destroy Liberty. But the day would be fatal to the partizans of the Counter Revolution.–(Applauses) Behold the fugitive hordes of your enemies; their last resource was a civil war in the bosom of the Convention, in order to force us to accept a tyrant; but the French will all die sooner than treat with tyranny. The French people never will have a tyrant."–No, No!" said the Deputies and spectators, rising at the same time, and crying out–"Long live the Republic" An attempt was made to dissolve the National Representation–to break the Government, and excite a civil war. Robespierre's speech tended to produce this triple effect.
"The public spirit was to be corrupted; and when I spoke yesterday of the uneasiness of the country in the Jacobin Society, which erred for the moment, but which is about to resume its energy, murmurs compelled me to be silent; I was answered only by menaces; my fears were laughed at. When the true Jacobins see what great culprits you have punished, the good citizens who dared not appear there will take their places again with joy. Nevertheless, the return of these faithful champions, who ought to rouse the friends of the country in all the corners of Paris, was feared to-day. On this account St. Just's speech was to be pronounced this day. The motion which Couthon made yesterday at the Jacobins ought to accelerate the movement; he proposed a new purifying scrutiny, in order to exclude the Members of the two Committees, whom this conspirator dared to call traitors. It was on this account that St. Just, came, against his word, to read the discourse which you have interrupted.
"When I went to the Committee with Dubarron, we were accompanied thither by the gardes du corps of Robespierre, who threatened us with a speedy death. St. Just coolly announced this report, in which several Members were accused, according to Robespierre's spies. It would have been read this evening at the Jacobins; and we do not know what might have happened at the Feast to-morrow. It might, perhaps, have been a day of mourning; but, on the contrary, it shall be a day of triumph (Applauses).
"You will see in the report that will be made upon this conspiracy, that something was preparing favourable to the cause of the combined despots. Remark the brother of Robespierre remained here, notwithstanding the decree which ordered him to set out for the army of Italy; and St. Just was recalled twice from the army of the North by Robespierre, to draw up acts of accusation against the courageous men who opposed the despotism of these new tyrants. These would have been like the proscriptions of Sylla, for neither friends nor enemies were in question; but the proscribing of all such as would not obey such and such an individual. Robespierre talked of nothing but Marat during some time; but he always detested that constant friend of the people.
Payan announced that one of the Commissioners of a Section had demanded fusils to arm the young men belonging to it to-morrow at the feast. The fusils were refused.–Applauses.
The sitting which had been suspended, was resumed at seven in the evening.
Bourdon de l'Oise announced that according to a public report, the Commons of Paris were leagued with the Jacobins to excite an insurrection. He demanded that the Commons should be ordered to the Bar, to give an account of the matter.
Merlin, of Thionville, related, that in repairing to his post, Henriot, at the head of forty madmen, with sabres in their hands, fell upon him, and clapping a pistol to his breast, conducted him to the corps-de-guard of the place of Egalité; but that the armed citizens who were there, knowing his quality of representative of the people, immediately set him at liberty; that Henriot carried terror and disorder into the different quarters of Paris, where the truth of the events of this day was not known; that five gend'armes falling upon Henriot and his satellites with pistols in their hands, took them prisoners.–Applauses. Merlin added, by way of amendment to Bourdon's proposition, that the department should be called to receive the orders of the Convention.–Adopted.
Legendre removed the fears of the Convention respecting an insurrection on the part of the people of Paris. He demanded that the President should say to every petitioner who might come, that the whole Convention was but one Mountain; that the proof of its being composed of none but good men was, that the decree of the arrest of the traitors had been voted unanimously.–Applauses.
Poultier said that a municipal officer having attempted to arrest him, he seized him and carried him before the Committee of General Safety.–Applauses.
Brival related the ill-treatment he had met with at the Jacobin Club. Goupilleau complained of having been insulted as he was going out from the Committee of General Safety, by Louvet, who presides at the Revolutionary Tribunal in place of Dumas. He demanded the arrest of Louvet; of Fleuriot, mayor, and Payan, national agent.
Billaud Varennes stated, that the Council General of the Commons, which had raised the standard of revolt, is about to be invested; that the conspirator Sigeas, in contempt of the decree of arrest passed against him, was at the Jacobins, employed in irritating the people; that a company of cannoniers, directed by the villain Henriot, had attempted to plant their cannon against the Convention; that the bold, factious, artful conspirator, who, for six months, had concealed himself under the mask of virtue, in order to massacre the Republic, is at present at the Municipality.
Collot, President-Citizens, this is the moment to die at your posts. Some armed villains have invested the Committee of General Safety, and have seized on it.
(The citizens in the hall and the tribunes march out to deliver the Committee of General Safety. The Department appears at the bar, and the Convention sends it to take its orders from the Committees of Public Welfare and General Safety.)
Thuriot said, that, before nine o'clock this morning, the armed force was provoked against the Convention.–Goupilleau announced that Henriot had escaped, and was carried about in triumph.–Elie Lacoste assured the Convention that several of the conspirators had been set at liberty; that Robespierre was at the house of the Commons, protected by the municipal officers, who are in open rebellion against the decrees. He proposed to put them out of the protection of the law–Decreed.
A Citizen brought word, that the whole suburb of St. Antoine had turned out to defend the Convention (Applauses). A member said, that Henriot was giving orders on the Place du Palais National. (Henriot was put out of the protection of the law)–Amar has guaranteed the cannoniers against the perfidious harangues of Henriot. They protected Amar against an aid-de-camp of that general, who wanted to kill him. The assembly appointed Citizen Barras to direct the armed force, and named the representatives Ferrand, Freron, Rovere, Delmas, Bolleti, and the two Bourdons to direct him.
Barrere, in the name of the Committee of Public Safety.–"Citizens, this horrible conspiracy, carried under the mask of patriotism, by the usurpers of the public opinion, has at length manifested itself. It had numerous ramifications, which have been come at this evening with a terrifying rapidity. All the preparations for a counterrevolution were made; and among those who co-operated in this measure, there can have been no other than accomplices, no one can have been innocently brought to lend his assistance. While you were framing salutary decrees, Henriot spread a report among the populace, that Robespierre has been assassinated. The most infamous reports were propagated against you; and cartridges were distributed to the gend'armes to murder the representatives of the people.
"In the interim, the administration of police, in conformity to a mandate from the Mayor, the National Agent and one of his Deputies, gave orders to liberate La Valette and Boulanger, officers of the armed force, and Valete, a juror of the Revolutionary Tribunal. Henriot imprisoned a gend'arme, the bearer of a decree of the Convention; had the general beat in one of the sections, called citizens together, by beat of drums in another, and sounded the tocsin in the environs of the commune. The Mayor ordered the barrier gates to be shut. Boulanger sought refuge in the camp of Paris. Henriot galloped through the streets on horseback, exclaiming: the patriots are assassinated! to arms against the Convention, Payan declaimed in the commune against the Convention, and the commune declared itself in a state of insurrection, convening the Sections to deliberate on the dangers of the country. The Municipality gave orders to admit no one into the Convention, and when the Hall Serjeant carried to them the decree to appear at the bar, one of the municipal officers replied: Yes; we will go, but it must be with the people. Here you see then an atrocious conspiracy managed with an address and a sang-froid, such as were never manifested either by Pisistratus or Catalina.
"The Sections have already declared for the Convention, and fly to the aid of the law. If some among them have strayed from their duty, do not imagine that their obstinacy can be of any continuance, and that the citizens can take an oath of fealty to a faithless commune. Several of those on whom you have passed a decree of accusation have made their escape, and sought an asylum in the commune; their impunity will be but of a short duration: the Sections are assembling, and to them we must address ourselves."
Upon this report, and, on the motion of Barrere, the Convention forbad the shutting of the gates of Paris, as well as the convening of the Sections without the authority of the two Committees. It next passed a decree of outlawry against such of the public functionaries as should give orders to march the armed force against the Convention; or should resist the execution of its decrees; and declared in the same state of outlawry, all those against whom the decree of arrest or accusation having been framed, should refuse to obey the law, or withdraw themselves from its execution.
Barrere next presented a proclamation to the French Nation, relative to the immediate circumstances. This we are obliged to omit, in consequence of the abundance of our materials, more especially as it contains nothing particular.
Citizen Deveze, a Municipal Officer, stated, that he was absent from the Council General of the Commune, disavowing all that had been done there. The Section of l'Unite, which had received orders from the Municipality to assemble and send thither Commissioners at the end of every second hour, declared it knew no other authority than that of the Convention. The company of invalids demanded orders from the Convention to march against the traitors. Vouland obtained a decree, declaring that Robespierre, and all those who had evaded the decree of arrest were in a state of outlawry. Billaud Varennes announced, that La Breteche, a creature of Dumourier, and commandant of the camp of Sablons, had been apprehended; and added, that the festival planned for the ensuing day was a measure adopted with a view of surrounding the Convention, under pretext of exercising the young military pupils. For this purpose they were to be provided with arms, and to be furnished with 15 artillery guns. He proposed the adjournment of the festival.–Adopted. The Convention sent Brival and Bentabole, two Deputies, to the encampment, to unite themselves with Peyssard, the Deputy already stationed there.
The Section of Mutius Scevola communicated a resolution of the commune, inviting the Constituted authorities to repair to the commune house, there to take an oath of fidelity. The commune had also sounded the tocsin. All the Sections came successively to the Convention, to swear that they knew no other authority besides that of the National Representation.
Barras, provisional commandant of the armed force, entered the hall amidst the loudest bursts of applause. He has visited every quarter of the capital, and every where heard the exclamations of Vive la Republique! Vive la Convention! The gunners of la Fontain de Grenelle had accompanied him in his excursions; and he had to observe, that the Convention was surrounded by all true Republicans. He had apprehended a gend'arme, the bearer of a letter from the commune to la Bretiche; and Ferrand had arrested another gend'arme, who had been sent by Henriot to order the retreat of the armed force which surrounds the National Palace.
Freron compared the National Representatives, at the present critical conjuncture, to the Roman Senators who kept their stations expecting the arrival of the enemy. He announced, that as soon as the gunners had learned that Henriot was in a state of outlawry, they observed that they only waited the orders of the National Representation to direct their guns against the commune. He and the other Commissioners, he said, were about to march against the rebels, and to invite such of the citizens in the commune as had been led astray from their duty to deliver up the traitors, on pain of having their houses reduced to ashes. He concluded by observing, that the important post of the Pont Neuf was guarded by 1500 men, provided with guns.–Loud applauses.
Tallien seated himself in the President's chair, in place of Collot d'Herbois.
Lacoste announced, that the two Committees had dispatched troops to guard the prisons, and the treasury. The chief of the gend'armerie of the tribunals, whom Henriot had imprisoned, having been released by order of the Committee of General Security, came to assure the Convention of the attachment of the company he commanded. The gend'armes of the Convention paid the same homage. the Section of Marat announced that several Members of the Commune had been apprehended.
Dubois Crancé stated, that at the epoch of the trial of the tyrant, Marat had said, in speaking of Robespierre; that miscreant is more dangerous to liberty than all the combined despots.
Brival, having returned from the Camp at Sablons, represented the ardour of the young pupils, all of whom were desirous, he said, to set out for Paris, and to form with their bodies a rampart round the Convention. Bentabole added, that 3,500 muskets had been delivered to them, and that they have sworn not to part with them unless with their lives.
Billaud Varennes observed, that the conspirators were urging the populace to rise up against the Convention, and that the commune was arranging the plan of a counter-revolution. Several artillery guns, he said, were already prepared for the occasion; and it became highly important to take every precautionary step, and to seize on the conspirators, whose heads ought to fall within an hour. Robespierre, he said, had been heard to declare that, within two hours, he would march against the Convention.
The President entreated the two Committees to assemble and deliberate in a neighbouring apartment. He invited the Deputies to stand firm at their posts, and the Citizens to take up arms. All the citizens who were in the hall, instantly departed.
Legendre announced the arrival of the Section of Sans-Culottes, who came in a body to defend the Convention, accompanied by a patriotic municipal officer, whom Legendre, mistaking him for a rebel, had wounded. The Section of La Montagne had rescued, he said, a National Representative from the hands of Henriot, and had arrested a municipal officer. He next stated, that the Commune House had been destroyed, and that Robespierre had been wounded, was secured, and was on his way to the Convention.
Chartier took the president's chair, and made the following observation–The villain Robespierre is without, is it your wish that he should be brought in–(No, no; resounded from every side)
Thuriot–To bring into the Convention the mangled carcase of a man full of crimes of an odious tyrant, would be to deprive this glorious day of all the splendour that belongs to it, and to expose this assembly to all the horrors of a plague. The place destined for him and his accomplices, is the square of the Revolution; and the two Committees ought to take the necessary steps to bring down on their heads, without delay, all the vengeance of the law.–(Decreed amidst applauses.)
Esnard, Commandant of the Armed Force, imprisoned by Payan, but who had contrived to effect his escape, appeared at the Bar, and received the President's fraternal embrace.
Leonard Bourdon ascended the tribune with a Gend'arme who had killed two conspirators.–The Representative entered into a recital of his military operations, observing, that he had reached the Commune House, with the forces of the Sections des Lombards, des Arcis, and Gravelliers: at his approach, the good citizens had been called to a recollection of their duty, and the traitors had fled.
Robespierre was armed with a knife, which the brave Gend'arme had snatched from him, and had also overpowered Couthon, who was armed in a similar way. He added, that St. Just and Le Bas were taken, and that Dumas, and 15 or 20 conspirators besides, were confined in an apartment of the Commune House, from which Henriot had effected his escape. He delivered up a port-folio and several papers found on the person of Robespierre, and a letter found on that of Couthon, signed Robespierre and St. Just, to the following purport:–"Couthon, all the patriots are proscribed, and the populace in insurrection to vindicate their cause: you will betray it if you do not repair to the Commune House, where we now are." The President embraced the brave Gend'arme, Médal by name, and ordered the Committee of Public Safety to look to his advancement.
Legendre.–"I have been with ten patriots, in search of Vivier, who presided at the Jacobins yesterday and to-day; he has contrived to escape in the crowd. I have driven the conspirators from the Hall of the Jacobins, and have brought you the keys. As it is the mass of the Convention which has saved the country, it is proper that the Convention should go in a mass to-morrow, to open the Club of the Jacobins, accompanied by all the Virtues."–Loud Applauses.
Vivier was declared in a state of outlawry, and the sitting was suspended at 6 in the morning (July28).
At 9 in the morning of the same day, the sitting was again opened.
The Department of Paris tendered its felicitations to the Convention. The Revolutionary Tribunal came to receive orders respecting the trial of the conspirators.
Thuriot, by a decree, ordered the Revolutionary Tribunal to repair to the Committee of General Safety for orders.
Elie Lacoste, in the name of the United Committees, obtained the nomination of the Ex legislator, De Liege, to the Presidency of the second Section of the Revolutionary Tribunal. It was also decreed, that the scaffold should be erected on the Square of the Revolution.
It was decreed, that Sigeos, who had spent the preceding night at the Jacobins, in exciting the people to an insurrection, should be declared in an outlawed state. The Tribunal of Eassation expressed its firm attachment to the National Representation.
The Section of la Revolution, in which the Mayoralty is established, stated that eight guns were stationed before the Mansion House, to block up the passage. It denounced the Resolutions framed by the rebels, who had seized on ten Police Officers, and apprehended several Members of the Section, as well as several citizens, whose only crime had been the exclamation, Vive la Convention! The Deputation received loud applauses.
Santerre announced, that he had been the victim of the oppression of the miscreant Robespierre. He was now freed from his imprisonment, and offered his services.–Honours of the Sitting.
Dubarron, in the name of the two united Committees, proposed to make some exceptions to the decree, which declares all the Municipal Officers to be in a state of outlawry, several of them having declared against the rebels as soon as they knew them to be such.
Belosse, the Gend'arme, who had been ordered to convey Robespierre the younger to the prison de la Force, and who had been himself imprisoned by two Municipal Officers, in consequence of refusing to release him, received the President's fraternal embrace.
The young pupils of the school of Mars, defiled through the hall, accompanied by a martial band of music. The president gave the fraternal embrace of their Orator.
Dubarron announced that the traitor Henriot was apprehended. the hall resounded with applauses. On the proposition of Grauet, the Convention decreed with enthusiasm, that the Sections of Paris had never ceased to deserve well of their country.
Barrere, in the name of the Committee of Public Safety, entered into a detail of the dangers with which the Republic had been menaced by a man who had possessed himself of the good-will, the deliberations, and the movements of the Jacobin Club; who had insensibly swayed the public opinion, and who had in his hands the influence of the popular societies, as well as that of the judicial, revolutionary and military authorities. He showed how a frightful Counter Revolution had sought refuge in the Commune House, and had gained over to its views a multitude of Citizens. From Robespierre down to the lowest agent of the police; from Henriot down to the vilest assassin, the chain was complete. The conspirators had with their own hands removed the veil which concealed from the eyes of the French Nation all the deformity of the Dictatorship and the despotism of the fallen tyrants. The Mayor enlarged from the prisons those who had been lodged there for treasonable offences, and gave them exalted stations in the Council of the Commune. St. Just had been named President of the Committee of Execution. Le Bas was to hold in his hands the executive authority; and the two Robespierres and Couthon were to form the Council. He added that Dumas was entrusted with the organization of a Counter-Revolutionary Tribunal, and that three patriots were to have been cut off that very morning.
As soon as the sections, said Barrere, presented themselves before the Commune House, the traitors were appalled. Le Bas destroyed himself with a pistol; and Couthon was wounded by a fall in his flight. Robespierre the younger, threw himself out a window; and the elder Robespierre made an attempt on his life. St. Just was seized. Henriot had made his escape, but on being pursued to the house where he had sought shelter, had thrown himself from a window. All the National Establishments, he continued, were in safety; and the arsenal defended by the Section in which it is situated. The guards at the prisons were tripled; and the Temple and Conciergerie carefully guarded. The suburb St. Antoine had declared for the Convention.
At the close of this report, which we have been obliged to abridge, Barrere read a proclamation addressed to the French nation, on the immediate events and circumstances.–Adopted.
The sitting was suspended at 4 o'clock.
The Morning Chronicle.
London, Monday, August 18, 1794.
Paris, July 28.
The transactions of yesterday will be forever memorable in the history of the Revolution. Roberspierre was openly declared a tyrant.–The Convention caused him to be arrested, and likewise his brother, Couthon, St. Just, Henriot, Commander of the Parisian Armed force, Dumas, President of the Revolutionary Tribunal, and several agents of Roberspierre. The circumstances preceding this event, deserve to be detailed at length.
In the late Sittings of the Jacobins, Roberspierre and his Confederates endeavoured by repeated speeches, to excite a movement of the Society in their favour, but the Jacobins testified upon the occasion a great deal of apathy, for which they were reproached by Roberspierre the younger.
7 thermidor, friday, july 25
The Jacobins presented an address, in which they denounced the party of strangers (whom Roberspierre had been endeavouring to drive from Paris) who attacked the Convention, and the Committee of Public Safety. Dubois Crance took advantage of the presence of the Jacobins to justify himself from the reproaches which had been uttered against him in the Society.–The Convention referred all to the Committee of Public Safety.
Barrere having then announced that the army of the Sambre and the Meuse was advancing to Liege, made a report in the name of the Committees, in which he said, "While liberty gives a fatal blow to the new conspiracies of traitors, it shall be my office to hold up to those misguided citizens, who demand a second 31st of May, the comparison of their present situation, with that into which they have been successively plunged by the different factions, which one after another, have endeavoured to destroy the labours of the Patriots."–He concluded by a long declamation on the artifices practised by those whom he stiled the enemies of the People, who left no disguise unassumed to enable them to carry their wicked designs into effect.
8 thermidor, Saturday, july 26
This Sitting was tumultuous.
Roberspierre mounted the Tribune.–He pronounced a long speech respecting the Revolutionary Government, and replied to the reproaches made against him of aspiring to the Dictatorship.–He said, that since the period of his having proclaimed the existence of a Supreme Being, the successors of Hebert and Danton had become more inveterate against him. He then endeavoured to shew the falsehood of the reports circulated in the Convention and in Paris, of his having proposed to cause thirty Members of the Convention to be arrested. He next touched on the situation of the Republic. "The Committees of Public and General Safety," said he, "contain the pillars of Liberty, but the greater number are oppressed. The decree against the English is not carried into execution. The system of Dumourier continues to be pursued in Belgium. They are replanting in that country the trees of liberty. They are driving to a distance the Cannoneers of Paris. They are wishing to produce a change in the situation of the Republic. It is necessary that the Committees should act, but it is likewise necessary to superintend their operations. It is incumbent on the Convention to assume the dignity which belongs to its character."
Bourdon–"I move that this speech be referred to the Committees of Public and General Safety, in order that they may examine its contents, previous to its being printed; on the ground that, in all probability, some errors have crept into the statements which have just now been made."
Barrere.–"And I also duly estimate the privileges of a French Citizen. In a free country, every thing ought to be known."
Couthon.–"It would be to degrade the Convention to apply to a Committee, in order to determine, whether or not a speech ought to be printed? I move not only that it be printed, but transmitted to all the Communes. For a considerable time, a system of calumny has subsisted against the ancient pillars of the Revolution. There are many immoral characters. The great body of the representation is a model of human perfection: but be distrustful of intriguers, and let the proper line of distinction be marked out on the present occasion."
Vadier.–"I complain, that Roberspierre in his speech, has attacked the report made respecting Catherine Theos."
Roberspierre.–"I had no intention to attack the Reporter."
Vadier.–"The affair of the Pretended Mother of God is more important than is imagined; and this woman kept up a correspondence with Pitt, the Duchess of Bourbon, Bergasse, and others. If several obscure intriguers have crept into the offices of the Committee, they have been punished as soon as recognized. The Committee of General Safety has constantly preserved a good understanding with that of Public Safety, and has never ceased to wage war against the Aristocrats."
Cambon.–"Roberspierre has brought a charge against the present system of finances, and has accused me of an endeavour to augment, by that system, the number of discontented persons."
Roberspierre.–"I spoke of the system alone, and, without being very profound in financial knowledge, one may readily perceive that a great number of indigent citizens are ruined by it."
The dispute now became extremely warm.
Freron.–"The moment when liberty is revived, is that when the freedom of opinions is re-established. I move that the Convention rescind the decree which grants to the Committees the power of apprehending the Members of the Convention.–Applauses.–Where is the man who can speak with freedom when he dreads an arrest?"
Billaud Varennes–"Should the proposition now made be adopted, the Convention will undergo a shocking degradation. He who is prevented, by dread, from speaking his sentiments, is not worthy of the title of a Representative of the People."
Freron's proposition was supported by Panis, who maintained that liberty could not exist, unless it should be adopted.
After a debate of a considerable length, each of the propositions was got rid of by the order of the day; and the Convention decreed that Roberspierre's speech should be printed and distributed.
9 thermidor, sunday, july 27
After some Petitioners had been heard, St. Just appeared at the Tribune–
Saint Just.–"I am of no faction, I will contend against them all. Your Committees of General and Public Safety, have charged me to make a report on the causes of the evident perversion of opinion; but I mean to address myself to you, only in my own name"––
Saint Just, who had come prepared to support the sentiments which had the day before been delivered from the Tribune by Roberspierre, was here interrupted by shouts of disapprobation from all quarters of the Convention.
After a considerable degree of tumult, Tallien at last spoke to order–
Tallien.–"The Orator has set out with telling you that he is of no party: I likewise espouse only the side of truth. Yesterday, a Member of the Government (Roberspierre) presented you a report upon his own authority. To-day, another Member comes to speak to you in his own name. No good Citizen can refrain from lamenting, with tears, the abject and calamitous state to which the Republic is reduced, when individuals thus pretend to dictate to you in their own name, and upon their own authority.
Billaud Varennes–"You will shudder with horror when you are apprized that the armed force of Paris is entrusted into parricidal hands. Henriot was denounced by the Revolutionary Tribunal as an accomplice of Hebert. What was the consequence? One man alone had the audacity to support him. Need I name who that individual was?–Roberspierre. Lavalette, one of the Chiefs of the armed force, the only Noble who has been retained in a military trust, sharpens the poignards intended to inflict a fatal blow on the Representatives of the People: under whose auspices has he been protected?–Roberspierre's. I might quote many more proofs of the same audacity on the part of Roberspierre, and of his infamous designs against liberty–among others, I need only mention that he has been the author of the imprisonment of the Members of the Revolutionary Committee of the Section of Indivisibility–men of the most unsullied integrity, and of the most distinguished patriotism. I accuse him of having withdrawn himself from the Committee for these four last decades, since the decree with respect to the Revolutionaay [sic] Tribunal passed on the 22d Prairial (June 10), which he alone devised–and which was badly received. Thus he intended to drive from the Convention every impure man; that is to say, every person who did not please himself, or whom he might suspect to be possessed of sufficient discernment to detect, and integrity to oppose, his ambitious views; and as a preparatory step to the establishing himself in that Dictatorship, which has so long been the object of his wishes, he would have left none in the Convention but his creatures and dependants, men as vile as himself, and ready to forward all his detestable views. But his designs were discovered by the very means which he took to carry them into execution. From the facts which I have briefly stated, his intentions to corrupt the military, to enslave and to degrade the Representation, appear plain and incontrovertible. Are more facts still necessary to substantiate the charges against him? I accuse him of having skreened from justice, a Secretary who had robbed the public of 40,000 livres.–Such is the foundation on which stands his pretensions to disinterestedness, which were only assumed to conceal the deep-laid projects of his ambition, and to deceive those whom he afterwards meant to enslave. I accuse him of being surrounded by a band of ruffians, among whom it is only necessary to mention the infamous name of Daubigny. With all his affectation of probity, such were the associates whom alone he could admit into his confidence, or trust for the completion of his designs. I proclaim–I proclaim the tyranny of Roberspierre!"–(Loud and repeated bursts of applause resounded from all parts of the Hall).–Roberspierre attempted to speak, but after different efforts, found himself obliged to desist, in consequence of the most vociferous exclamations from every quarter, of Down with the Tyrant! Down with the Tyrant!"
Tallien.–"In the house of that guilty individual, who now stands humbled with the consciousness of detected guilt, and overwhelmed with that disapprobation which his infamous designs against liberty have so justly merited, were formed those lists of proscription which have stained with so much blood the altars of rising liberty: imitating the example of the detestable Sylla, his proscriptions were intended only to pave the way for his own power and the establishment of a perpetual Dictatorship: happily, however, his designs have been discovered before he had time to execute them, or to add to that stream of blood which has already deluged France. His long success in villainy made him at last lay aside his wonted caution. He had advanced with such rapidity in the career of lawless ambition, that he had already conceived himself arrived at the accomplishments of his wishes, and that, like Caesar, the name of King was only wanting to him, for the full establishment of his power. Was it to subject ourselves to so degrading, and so abject a tyranny, that we brought to the scaffold the last of the Capets, and lavished so much blood of French Citizens? Was it to acknowledge so petty a despot, that we declared eternal war against Kings, and swore to establish liberty at the price of life? No–the spirit of freedom has not sunk so low: the sense of that duty which virtuous men owe to their country is not yet extinguished. I invoke the shade of the virtuous Brutus, [fixing his eyes upon the bust.]–Like him, I have a poignard to rid my country of the tyrant, if the Convention do not deliver him to the sword of justice. The French people, always just, are attached neither to Roberspierre, nor to any other individual–Liberty is alone the object of their affections, and whoever forms any designs against it, becomes that moment their enemy. That liberty they will ever pursue amidst the intrigues of domestic traitors, and the opposition of foreign despots. The Republic is to be established not only by the victories of our armies, by the vigilance of our councils, and the justice of our punishments. After this enumeration of facts which you have heard from the last speaker, is it necessary for me to remind you of the proceedings of that sitting of the Jacobins, where Dumas, President of the Revolutionary Tribunal, the creature and confederate of Roberspierre, had the audacity to insult the Representatives of the People? Need I recal to you that expression addressed to the Journalists in one of the last sittings of the Jacobins? "I prohibit you from inserting my discourses in your papers till you have previously communicated them to me." Here already we find the tone of the Dictator–the people shall know nothing except through my organ, and in the manner in which I shall be pleased to communicate it to them. Well indeed might he court the aid of silence and deception, whose designs were too infamous to be revealed, and whose conduct required to be glossed over with all the artifice of hypocrisy. But the French people were not to be so enslaved, after having shaken off the tyranny of force. The guilt of the traitors now stands revealed, and it now remains only to think of their punishment. For this purpose, I move, that we declare the Sitting Permanent."
The proposition was immediately decreed.
Billaud Varennes–"I denounce, as accomplices of the conspiracy, which was ready to burst forth, and annihilate the National Convention, a person named Boulanger, who, in making out a list of proscribed names, said to Hebert, 'write and we will strike,' Dufresne, who was engaged in the conspiracy with Dumourier; Dumas, who yesterday excited the Jacobins to the assassination of the people; and Lavalette, Ex-Noble, one of the Commanders of the Parisian armed force, who was protected by Roberspierre. I move that these individuals be immediately arrested."–Decreed.
Delmas moved that the Adjutant-Generals and Aids-de-Camp of Henriot, should be arrested.–Decreed.
The Convention likewise decreed the arrest of Daubigny and Sijas.
Barrere made a Report, and presented the plan of an Address to the People, which were loudly applauded.
The Convention adopted the Address, ordered it to be published and sent to the Departments, and decreed, that in the Parisian armed force, every rank, superior to that of the Chief of a Legion, be suppressed. That armed force is to be restored to its democratic organization. It is to be commanded every month successively by one of the Chiefs of a Legion. The Mayor and National Agent of Paris are to be responsible for the security of the Commune.
Vadier then presented a very interesting detail of the different circumstances of tyranny, which so strongly characterised the conduct of Roberspierre, and of that system of spies by which he had contrived to surround the Representatives of the People, and fetter their operations. At the conclusion of this detail, he was loaded with such marks of approbation as strongly marked the concurrence of all present, the suspicions entertained of the designs of Roberspierre, and the detestation in which his character was held.
Tallien, Billaud-Varennes, Freron, Elie-Lacoite, Delmas, and several other Members, then spoke, after which the Convention unanimously, and by successive deliberation on each question, decreed the arrest of–Roberspierre, the elder, Roberspierre, junr. Saint Just, Couthon, and Lebas, all Deputies.
They also decreed that the Juror Nicholas should be arrested.
All the arrested Members, excepting Couthon, went out by the Bar.
Collot d'Herbois then pronounced a speech of some length on the measures necessary to be pursued in the present moment, and was listened to with the greatest applause.
seven in the evening.
Bourdon of Oise.–"It is reported that the Commune of Paris, in concert with the Jacobins, is attempting to excite an insurrection. Although we have little to fear from such an attempt, for the Convention and the People are one, I move, that the Commune be ordered to the Bar."
Merlin of Thionville.–"As I was coming out of my own house, to repair to my post, Hanriot, at the head of 40 deluded wretches, took me prisoner, and carried me to the guard house. There, resuming my character of Representative of the People, I harangued the armed citizens; they, faithful to their principles, and full of respect for the National Representation, released me. Hanriot, in the mean time, was carrying terror and confusion through various parts of the city. Five Gens d'Armes took the generous resolution of apprehending him. They set out, met him, and took him and his myrmidons prisoners. (Loud applauses.) I move that the Department of Paris be also called to the bar to receive the orders of the Convention."
Both these propositions were decreed.
Legendre.–"The People, as they have always done since the commencement of the Revolution, will rise only against tyrants. I move that the President reply to all persons who come to the bar to congratulate the Mountain–that the Convention is one entire Mountain; that every honest man in it is a Mountaineer; and as a proof that there are none in it but honest men, the decree against the Traitors was carried unanimously." (New applauses.)
Poultier.–"A municipal officer attempted to arrest me. I have carried him to the Committee of General Safety."
Rovere.–"There is one Payan in the Commune, the Agent of Roberspierre."–Several members–"He is apprehended." (Applauses.)
Brival gave an account of his having been questioned in the Jacobin Club respecting the decree against the Traitors, and expelled for approving of that decree. The Club had since rescinded the expulsion and sent him back his card of admission, which he would not take till the Club should be regenerated.
Goupilleau the Elder–"On coming from the Committee of General Safety, I found the Antichamber filled with Citizens bearing a three coloured cord. I asked what they did there. One of them enquired who I was. I said a Representative of the People. Then, said he, "I despise you." This is Louvet, who acts as President of the Revolutionary Tribunal, in the absence of Dumas. I move that Louvet be arrested, as well as Fleuriot Lescot, Mayor of Paris, who must necessarily be concerned in the Conspiracy.
Freron–"I am informed that Payan and Fleuriot, are not yet arrested. I move that the decree be instantly passed."
Billaud Varennes–"Payan was arrested four hours ago. The Mayor is not yet: but in a few minutes the Council General of the Commune, which has reared the Standard of Rebellion, will be invested. Would you believe, that in contempt of the Convention, men covered with the mantle of the law, have been taken into custody? Would you believe that, in contempt of the will of the people, Sijas, that infernal conspirator, although a Decree of arrest be passed against him, is now at the Jacobin Club, attempting to stir up the people? but the people are calm, and their will is Liberty (Loud Applauses). A company of cannoneers, misled by the wretch Hanriot, wanted to direct their cannon against the Convention, but the armed force opposed them. We must take vigorous measures, and, if necessary, die at our posts (Yes, exclaimed all the Members, we will die at our posts; and the Galleries loudly applauded.)–The Committees of Public and General Safety will speedily propose measures to save Liberty. They must be prompt. The determined and artful Conspirators, who for six months have worn the mask of patriotism, to destroy the Republic, are now at the Commune."
Collot d'Herbois, the President.–"Armed men have surrounded and taken possession of the Committee of General Safety" (the Citizens who filled the Galleries and a part of the Hall, cried out, Let us go thither! and immediately set out amid the applauses of the Members).
The Department of Paris came to the Bar, and was referred for orders to the Committees of General and Public Safety.
Thuriot.–"Can we now doubt of a Conspiracy? Virtuous men have no alternative but to perish or lead the traitors to the scaffold."
Goupilleau announced that Hanriot had escaped, and was parading the streets in triumph.
Elie-Lacoste.–"Several of the Conspirators are set at liberty. Roberspierre, who, contrary to the intention of the Committee of General Safety, had been sent to the Luxembourg, was, by the Administrator of Police there, conducted to the Commune. The Municipal Officers received him as a brother, and said they would protect him. I move that they be outlawed" (Decreed with Applause).
A Citizen at the Bar announced the arrival of the Citizens of the Faubourg Antoine, who had all turned out to fight for the Convention.
A Member announced that Hanriot was in the square of the National Palace, giving orders.–Outlawed by acclamation.
Amar. "I come from the very spot. Hanriot was endeavouring to mislead the Citizens, especially the Cannoneers. I said to them–"Will you now disgrace your Country of which you have hitherto deserved so well?" Instantly they declared on my side, and protected me against one of Hanriot's aids-de-camp, who menaced me with his sabre. Let us enlighten the People, and we may brave every danger."
Vouland. "The National Guard must have a Chief, and he must be one of your own Members. The two Committees propose Citizen Barras, who has the courage to accept the office."
The Convention nominated Barras to direct the armed force; and on his demand, gave him six Members to assist him, with the same powers as the Commissioners with the armies have. These were Ferrand, Freron, Rouvere, Delmas, Leonard, Bourdon, and Bourdon of Oise.
Barrere, after a Report from the Committee of Public Safety, in which he detailed all the attempts of the Conspirators, proposed the following Decree, which was adopted.
"The National Convention, after hearing the Report of the Committees of General and Public Safety, forbids shutting the barriers, or convoking the Sections, without orders from the said Committees;
"Outlaws all Public Functionaries who shall give orders for advancing an armed force against the Convention, or for opposing the execution of any of the Decrees it has passed;
"Out laws also all individuals who shall not obey, or shall withdraw themselves from Decrees of Arrest or Accusation issued against them."
Barrere then presented a Proclamation to the French People, which was ordered to be printed, and sent immediately to the Sections of Paris, to all the Communes of the Republic, and to the Armies.
Cannoneers filed through the Hall with Representatives of the People at their head.
A Member of the Commune came to the bar, and disavowed the proceedings of that body.
A Member of the Committee of the Section of Unity, announced that the Section having received orders to join the Commune, refused to obey, and would acknowledge no authority, but that of the Convention.
An officer of the Invalids on duty at the Convention, requested orders in their name to march against the Traitors.
Vouland.–"Hanriot is not the only Conspirator who has escaped from arrest. Roberspierre and all the rest have done the same. I move that they be outlawed." Decreed.
Elie-Lacoste.–"Bertheche, a creature of Dumourier, Bournonville, and Custine, commands the Camp des Sablons. This wretch was in Calvados, where he sold himself to Wimpfen."
Billaud-Varennes.–"Bertheche was arrested four hours ago. There can be no doubt but that the festival intended for to-morrow, was meant as a pretext for surrounding the Committees and the Convention, by making the young men of this Camp exercise before them. For this purpose they were to be armed and have fifteen pieces of Cannon delivered to them. I will throw no suspicion upon the patriotism of those young men, or upon the virtue of the people; but let us adjourn the festival till we exterminate the traitors."–Decreed.
On the motion of Tallien, Brival and Bentabole were sent to the Camp des Sablons to assist Peyssard, who was there before.
A Deputation from the Revolutionary Committee of Mutius Scaevola, announced that the Commune had invited all the Constituted Authorities to come and take an Oath before it, and that the toc-sin was ringing at the Commune.
All the Sections of Paris came in succession to the Bar, and took an oath to acknowledge no authority, but that of the Convention, and to make a rampart of their bodies around it.
The President returned thanks in the name of the Convention, and announced to each of them the Decree which outlaws the Conspirators.
Barras entered the Hall–"I have traversed a great part of the city. Every where the People are at the height of Liberty, every where they cry Vive la Republique! Vive la Convention Nationale. The Cannoneers of the Section of the Fountain of Grenelle accompanied us. The military dispositions are every where executed. The Convention is surrounded by all the Republicans of Paris. I have caused a Gens d'Arme who was sent by the Commune to Labtreche to be arrested; and I am going to deliver the letter taken upon him to the two Committees."
Ferrand–"I have visited all the neighbouring posts. I have found none but Republicans, who all swear to die for us–("Yes, so will we all," exclaimed the Galleries.) I have apprehended a Gens d'Arme, who came from Hanriot with orders to the armed force, that surrounds the National Palace, to withdraw."
Freron–"The traitors sent Lebas to the Camp des Sablons, but he is anticipated. As soon as the Cannoneers who surround the Commune, were told that the Conspirators within were outlawed, they declared that they waited only for orders to fire upon it. While Barras is concerting measures with the Committee of Public Safety, we, his assistants, will summon the misguided men in the Hall of the Commune, to deliver up the traitors. If they refuse, we will reduce the Building to a heap of rubbish–(Loud Applauses) I must not forget to tell you that we found 1500 men with cannon on the Pont Neuf, to guard that important post."
Tallien took the Chair, and Collot d'Herbois, the President, invited his colleagues in the Committees of Public and General Safety to follow him, that the sun might not go down before the heads of the traitors should fall."
Lacoste announced, that sufficient guards had been set upon the Prisons, the Temple, and the Treasury.
The Gens d'Armes of various descriptions, sent to inform the Convention, that they were all at their posts.
The President said, he held in his hand the original order of the Commune, for assembling the Sections, and for appointing a General.
The Section of Marat announced, that the Motion makers of the Commune had been arrested in that Section.
Dubois-Crance–"I must do justice to the sagacity of Marat. During the trial of Capet, he said to me, pointing to Roberspierre, 'Do you see that Rascal?' 'How, Rascal?' said I–'Yes,' replied Marat, 'that man is more dangerous to Liberty than all the coalesced Despots."
Brival and Bentabole announced that they had found the young men in the Camp des Sablons, in the best disposition, and that they all cried out–"Perish the Traitors."
Billaud-Varennes.–"The inhabitants of Paris are flying to arms; but at this moment they are organizing a counter-revolution at the Commune, and several pieces of cannon are already prepared to be employed against the Convention. I move that the Representatives of the People whom we have entrusted with the direction of the armed force, be ordered to take measures for getting hold of the conspirators, so that their heads may fall within an hour."
The President invited the Members of the two Committees to follow him into an adjoining chamber; the other Members of the Convention to remain at their post; and the citizens in the galleries to fly to arms.–All the men in the galleries instantly went out, the women only remaining.
A Citizen announced that the Hall of the Commune was taken, and that they were bringing Roberspierre the elder on a litter.
Charlier took the Chair, and exclaimed–"The base Roberspierre is at the door. Is it your pleasure that he be brought in?" No! No! resounded from all parts.
Thuriot.–"The carcase of a Tyrant can bring with it only pestilence. The Square of the Revolution (place of execution) is the place for him and his accomplices. Let the Committees take measures for making the sword of the law strike without delay." Decreed.
Leonard-Bourdon ascended the Tribune, after leave given, with a Gens d'Arme by his side.–"This brave man has never quitted me, and has killed two Conspirators with his own hand. I went to assemble forces to attack the Hall of the Commune. We advanced upon it in several columns. At our approach the deluded citizens saw their error, and the cowards fled. We found Roberspierre, the elder, armed with a large knife, which this brave Gens d'Arme wrested from him, and struck Couthon, who was also armed with a knife. St. Just and Lebas are taken. Dumas, and 18 or 20 other Conspirators, are shut up and closely guarded in the Chamber of the Hall of the Commune. Hanriot seems to have escaped, for citizens told me that they had seen him fly, but not being informed of your Decree, they did not stop him. In fine, Citizens, Liberty is triumphant, and the Conspirators will soon appear at the Bar. (No! No! resounded from all parts)––Here is a quantity of papers found upon Roberspierre; here is also a letter found upon Couthon, signed by Roberspierre and St. Just, as follows: 'Couthon, all the Patriots are proscribed. The whole people are up; not to repair to the Hall of the Commune, where we are, would be to betray them.'–I move, that the President give the fraternal embrace to this brave Gens d'Arme."
The President gave him the fraternal embrace amid loud applauses; honourable mention was made of his conduct; and the Committee of Public Safety was ordered to promote him.
Legendre.–"As I went from this Tribune, I took with me ten resolute Patriots. My intention was to go and blow out the brains of the man who presided yesterday and to day in the Jacobin Club. With a double pistol in my hand I entered the Hall, but the wretch, whose name was Vivier, had mixed with the crowd. I said to the women in the galleries, "You are misled; begone, the Convention punishes guilt not error." I shut the gates of the hall; here are the keys. As the Convention in a mass has saved the country, to-morrow the Convention in a mass will be Jacobines. It will be Virtue that will go to open the gates of that Society."
On the motion of Thirion, Vivier was outlawed.
At Six in the morning the sitting was suspended.
10 thermidor, monday july 28.
Nine in the morning.
The department of Paris and the Revolutionary Tribunal came to the bar to congratulate the Convention on having saved their country. The members of the Tribunal were ordered to go and receive the orders of the Committee of Public Safety and return to their post.
Sijas, not being apprehended, was outlawed.
Delieca, formerly a Member of the Legislative Assembly, was appointed President of the Second Section of the Revolutionary Tribunal; and the Tribunal was ordered to proceed without delay against the Conspirators, who being outlawed, to identify their persons was all that was necessary for their condemnation.
A number of Addresses of Congratulation were received.
Santerre appeared at the Bar. He said he had been the victim of Roberspierre's oppression; that his fetters were now broken; and that his only ambition was to be useful to his Country; he cared not in what situation. He was admitted to the honours of the sitting.
Dubarrau announced that Hanriot was taken. The minutes of this day and yesterday's sitting were ordered to be printed, and sent to all the Communes of the Republic.
Decreed, that the Sections of Paris had never ceased to deserve well of their Country.
Barrere made a long report on all the circumstances of the Conspiracy, and concluded by proposing a Proclamation, which was adopted, ordered to be printed, and sent by extraordinary Couriers to all the Departments, and all the Armies of the Republic.
The Convention then proceeded with the ordinary business till Four o'Clock, when the sitting was suspended.
paris, july 30.
On the 28th, at three in the morning, the Representatives of the People charged with that Commission announced to the Convention, that they were masters of the Hall of the Commune and the Traitors it contained.
Le Bas killed himself. The two Roberspierres and Couthon had tried to escape the vengeance of the People by the same means; but they were only wounded, and met the punishment reserved for Traitors.
Their persons being identified before the Revolutionary Tribunal, which was all that was necessary for their condemnation as they had been previously out-lawed, sentence of death was pronounced upon them.
On the 28th in the evening, their heads fell on the scaffold, amid the acclamations of an immense concourse of people, who rent the air with shouts of Vive la Republique! Vive la Convention, a memorable example for all men, who may ever dream of attempting to usurp the National Sovereignty! glorious day, which saw disappear in an instant all the hopes of the Coalesced Despots! they reckoned on having to treat with a Dictator! the French People rather shall be a Dictator to them; and from the French People they have neither peace nor truce to expect. What a sublime spectacle was the energetic unanimity of the National Convention! how must the firm countenance of the people of Paris, and the spontaneous rallying of all the Citizens around the Convention, terrify the Agitators! this revolution, by giving a new force to the National Representation, pronounces sentence of death upon all those who shall attempt to divide or degrade it. In vain would the eternal calumniators of the People profit of these events to accuse the People of versatility. The People are always just in their judgments; their wish is Liberty, and they love none but those who defend it. The less they shall idolize individuals, the more constant will they be in their love for their country. The more precarious the reputations of individuals shall appear, the more firmly will public liberty be established. Whoever renders himself powerful enough to attempt to set himself above the law; ought, in every one of his fellow-citizens, to find a Brutus. The overbearing influence of a single man, is the most dangerous scourge of a Republic.
monday, august 18.
The fall of Roberspierre is at length confirmed. The particulars our readers will find under the Head France. The charge against him was that of aspiring to the Tyranny; and, as far as can be collected from the proceedings of the Convention, it was not without foundation.
He appears to have filled all the Municipal offices of Paris with his own creatures; to have secured a great majority in the Jacobine Club, by what he called the Purifying Scrutiny; to have tampered with the armed force of the capital, particularly the Cannoneers; and put an accomplice at the head of the whole.–Hence his rescue after being taken into custody under the decree of accusation, and his being able, for a whole night, to brave the Convention. Only two hours before he was retaken, the victory seemed doubtful. The people, however, soon declared against him; and with them his attempt to resist was held to be an infallible proof of his guilt.
The only members of the Convention who fell with him, were his brother, St. Just, Couthon, and Lebas. Barrere, with his wonted dexterity, contrived to be on the side of the victorious party; and seems to retain as much influence as he ever possessed in the Committee of Public Safety.
This contest, as important as any since the commencement of the Revolution, was decided without battle or massacre. How far the proscriptions may be extended under colour of law, remains to be seen.
The Convention appear to be placed in a more advantageous situation than they have ever enjoyed since their convocation. They have obtained a signal proof of the attachment of the People; they have triumphed over the Commune of Paris, which often arrogated co-ordinate, and sometimes exercised superior powers; and they have reduced the Jacobin Club to such a degree of humiliation and debasement, that it can never become formidable again, but by their own mismanagement.