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dignation. Bordeaux declared that it would This was the great crisis of his life.stand by its representatives, and would, if ne- Hitherto he had done nothing inexpiable, nocessary, defend them by the sword against thing which marked him out as a much worse the tyranny of Paris. Lyons and Marseilles man than most of his colleagues in the Convenwere animated by a similar spirit. These tion. His voice had generally been on the manifestations of public opinion gave courage side of moderate measures. Had he bravely to the majority of the Convention. Thanks cast in his lot with the Girondists, and sufwere voted to the people of Bordeaux for their fered with them, he would like them have patriotic declaration, and a commission con- had a not dishonorable place in history. Had sisting of twelve members was appointed for he, like the great body of deputies who meant the purpose of investigating the conduct of well, but who had not the courage to expose the municipal authorities of Paris ; and was themselves to martyrdom, crouched quietly empowered to place under arrest such per- under the dominion of the triumphant minorsons as should appear to have been concerned ity, and suffered every motion of Robespierre in any plot against the authority of the Con- and Billaud to pass unopposed, he would have vention. This measure was adopted on the incurred no peculiar ignominy. But it is motion of Barère.
probable that this course was not open to A few days of stormy excitement and pro- him. He had been too prominent among the found anxiety followed; and then came the adversaries of the Mountain, to be admitted crash. On the thirty-first of May the mob to quarter without making some atonement. of Paris rose; the palace of the Tuileries It was necessary that, if he hoped to find parwas besieged by a vast array of pikes; the don from his new lords, he should not be majority of the deputies, after vain struggles merely a silent and passive slave. What passand reinonstrances, yielded to violence, and ed in private between him and them cannot suffered the Mountain to carry a decree for be accurately related ; but the result was soon the suspension and arrest of the deputies apparent. The Committee of Public Safety whom the wards of the capital had accused. was renewed. Several of the fiercest of the
During this contest, Barère had been toss- dominant faction, Couthon for example, and ed backwards and forwards between the two St. Just, were substituted for inore moderate raging factions. His feelings, languid and politicians; but Barère was suffered to retain unsteady as they always were, drew him to his seat at the Board. the Girondists; but he was awed by the The indulgence with which he was treated vigor and determination of the Mountain. excited the murmurs of some stern and arAt one moment he held high and firm lan-dent zealots. Marat, in the very last words guage, complained that the Convention was that he wrote, words not published till the not free, and protested against the validity of dagger of Charlotte Corday had avenged any vote passed under coercion. At another France and mankind, complained that a man moment he proposed to conciliate the Pa- who had no principles, who was always on risians by abolishing that commission of the side of the strongest, who had been a roytwelve which he had himself proposed only a alist, and who was ready, in case of a turn of few days before; and himself drew up a pa- fortune, to be a royalist again, should be enper condemning the very measures which trusted with an important share in the adminhad been adopted at his own instance, and istration. But the chiefs of the Mountain eulogizing the public spirit of the insurgents. judged more correctly. They knew indeed, To do bim justice, it was not without some as well as Marat, that Barère was a man utsymptoms of shame that he read this docu- terly without faith or steadiness; that if he ment from the tribune, where he had so often could be said to have any political leaning, expressed very different sentiments. It is his leaning was not towards them ; that he said that, at some passages, he was even seen felt for the Girondist party that faint and to blush. It may have been so; he was still wavering sort of preference of which alone in his novitiate of infamy.
his nature was susceptible; and that, if he Some days later he proposed that hostages had been at liberty to make his choice, he for the personal safety of the accused deputies would rather have murdered Robespierre and should be sent to the departments, and offer- Danton than Vergniaud and Gensonné.ed to be himself one of those hostages. Nor But they justly appreciated that levity which do we in the least doubt that the offer was made him incapable alike of earnest love and sincere. He would, we firmly believe, have of earnest hatred, and that meanness which thought himself far safer at Bordeaux or Mar- made it necessary to him to have a master. seilles than at Paris. His proposition, however, was not carried into effect; and he re
* See the Publiciste of the 14th of July 1793. mained in the power of the victorious Moun- Mara: was stabbed on the evening of the 13th. tain.
In truth, what the planters of Carolina and acting pledges such as made it impossible for Louisiana say of black men with fat noses him, false and fickle as he was, ever again to and woolly hair, was strictly true of Barère. find admission into the ranks which he had deThe curse of Canaan was upon him. He serted. That was truly a terrible sacrament by was born a slave. Baseness was an instinct which they admitted the apostate into their in him. The impulse which drove him from communion. They demanded of him that he a party in adversity to a party in prosperity should himself take the most prominent part was as irresistible as that which drives the in murdering bis old friends. To refuse was cuckoo and the swallow towards the sun when as much as his life was worth. But what is the dark and cold months are approaching. life worth when it is only one long agony of The law which doomed him to be the humble remorse and shame? These, however, are attendant of stronger spirits, resembled the feelings of which it is idle to talk, when we law which binds the pilot-fish to the shark. are considering the conduct of such a man as 'Ken ye,' said a shrewd Scotch lord, who Barère. He undertook the task, mounted was asked his opinion of James the First; the tribune, and told the Convention that the 'Ken ye a John Ape? If I have Jacko by time was come for taking the stern attitude of the collar, I can make him bite you ; but if justice, and for striking at all conspirators you have Jacko, you can make him bite me.' without distinction. He then moved that Just such a creature was Barère. In the Buzot, Barbaroux, Pétion, and thirteen other hands of the Girondists he would have been deputies, should be placed out of the pale of eager to proscribe the Jacobins; he was the law, or, in other words, beheaded without just as ready, in the gripe of the Jacobins, to a trial ; and that Vergniaud, Guadet, Gensonproscribe the Girondists. On the fidelity of né, and six others, should be impeached. such a man the heads of the Mountain could The motion was carried without debate. not, of course, reckon; but they valued their We have already seen with what effrontery conquest as the very easy and not very deli- Barère has denied, in these Memoirs, that he cate lover in Congreve's lively song valued took any part against the Girondists. This the conquest of a prostitute of a different denial, we think, was the only thing wanting kind. Barère was, like Chloe, false and to make his infamy complete. The most imcommon; but he was, like Chloe, constant pudent of all lies was a fit companion for the while possessed; and they asked no more. foulest of all murders. They needed a service which he was very Barère, however, had not as yet earned his competent to perform. Destitute as he was pardon. The Jacobin party contained one of all the talents both of an active and of a gang which, even in that party, was pre-emispeculative statesman, he could with great nent in every mean and every savage vice, a facility draw up a report, or make a speech gang so low-minded and so inhuman, that, on any subject and on any side. If other compared with them, Robespierre might be people would furnish facts and thoughts, he called magnanimous and merciful. Of these could always furnish phrases; and this talent wretches Hébert was perhaps the best reprewas absolutely at the command of his owners sentative. His favorite amusement was to torfor the time being. Nor had he excited any ment and insult the miserable remains of that angry passion among those to whom he had great family which, having ruled France durhitherto been opposed. They felt no more ing eight hundred years, had now become an hatred to him than they felt to the horses object of pity to the humblest artisan or which dragged the cannon of the Duke of peasant. The influence of this man, and of Brunswick and of the Prince of Saxe-Coburg. men like him, induced the Committee of PubThe horses had only done according to their lic Safety to determine that Marie Antoinette kind, and would, if they fell into the hands should be sent to the scaffold. Barère was of the French, drag with equal vigor and again summoned to his duty. Only four days equal docility the guns of the republic, and after he had proposed the decrees against the therefore ought not merely to be spared, but Girondist deputies he again mounted the to be well fed and curried. So was it with tribune, in order to move that the Queen Barère. He was of a nature so low, that it should be brought before the Revolutionary might be doubted whether he could properly Tribunal. He was improving fast in the sobe an object of the hostility of reasonable ciety of his new allies. When he asked for beings. He had not been an enemy; he was the heads of Vergniaud and Pétion, he had not now a friend. But he had been an an- spoken like a man who had some slight sense noyance; and he would now be a help. of his own guilt and degradation; he had
But though the heads of the Mountain par- said little, and that little had not been violent. doned this man, and admitted him into pa her- The office of expatiating on the guilt of his ship with themselves, it was not without ex- old friends he had left to St. Just. Very different was Barère's second appearance monarchy; just as a swarm of new superstiin the character of an accuser. He now tions, the worship of the Goddess of Reason, cried out for blood in the eager tones of true and the fooleries of the Theophilanthropists, and burning thirst, and raved against the sprang from the decay of the ancient Church; Austrian woman with the virulence natural even so, out of the decay of the ancient French to a coward who finds himself at liberty to eloquence, sprang new fashions of eloquence, outrage that which he has feared and envied. for the understanding of which new gramWe have already exposed the shameless men- mars and dictionaries were necessary. dacity with which, in these Memoirs, he at- The same innovating spirit which altered the tempts to throw the blame of his own guilt common phrases of salutation, which turned on the guiltless.
hundreds of Johns and Peters into Scærolas On the day on which the fallen Queen was and Aristogitons, and which expelled Sundragged, already more than half dead, to her day and Monday, January and February, doom, Barère regaled Robespierre and some Lady-day and Christmas from the calendar, other Jacobins at a tavern. Robespierre's in order to substitute Decadi and Primidi, acceptance of the invitation caused some sur- Nivose and Pluviose, Feasts of Opinion and prise to those who knew how long and how Feasts of the Supreme Being, changed all the bitterly it was his nature to hate. * Robe- forms of official correspondence. For the spierre of the party!' muttered St. Just.‘Ba- calm, guarded, and sternly courteous language rere is the only man whom Robespierre has which governments had long been accustomed forgiven.' We have an account of this singu- to employ, were substituted puns, interjeclar repast from one of the guests. Robe- tions, Ossianic rants, rhetoric worthy only of spierre condemned the senseless brutality a schoolboy, scurrility worthy only of a fishwith which Hébert had conducted the pro- wife. Of the phraseology which was now ceedings against the Austrian woman, and, in thought to be peculiarly well suited to a Retalking on that subject, became so much ex- port or a Manifesto, Barère had a greater cited that he broke his plate in the violence command than any man of his time; and, of his gesticulation. Barère exclaimed that during the short and sharp paroxysm of the the guillotine had cut a diplomatic knot which revolutionary delirium, passed for a great it might have been difficult to untie. In the orator. When the fit was over, he was conintervals between the Beaune and the Cham- sidered as what he really was, a man of quick pagne, between the ragout of thrushes and apprehension and fluent elocution, with no the partridge with truffles, he fervently preach-originality, with little information, and with a ed his new political creed. "The vessel of taste as bad as his heart. His Reports were the revolution,' he said, 'can float into port popularly called Carmagnoles. A few months only on waves of blood. We must begin ago we should have had some difficulty in couwith the members of the National Assembly veying to an English reader an exact notion and of the Legislative Assembly. That rub- of the state papers to which this appellation bish must be swept away.'
was given. Fortunately a noble and disAs he talked at table he talked in the Con- tinguished person, whom her Majesty's Minvention. His peculiar style of oratory was isters have thought qualified to fill the most now formed. It was not altogether without important post in the empire, has made our ingenuity and liveliness. But, in any other task easy." Whoever has read Lord Ellenage or country, it would have been thought borough's proclamations is able to form a unfit for the deliberations of a grave assem- complete idea of a Carmagnole. bly, and still more unfit for state papers.
It The effect which Barère's discourses at one might, perhaps, succeed at a meeting of a time produced is not to be wholly attributed Protestant Association in Exeter Hall
, at a to the perversion of the national taste. The Repeal dinner in Ireland, after men had well occasions on which he rose were frequently drunk, or in an American oration on the such as would have secured to the worst Fourth of July No legislative body would speaker a favorable hearing. When
milnow endure it
. But in France, during the itary advantage had been gained, he was reign of the Convention, the old laws of com- generally deputed by the Committee of Pubposition were held in as much contempt as lic Safety to announce the good news. ihe old government or the old creed. "Cor-hall resounded with applause as he mounted rect and noble diction belonged, like the eti- the tribune, holding the despatches in his quette of Versailles and the solemnities of hand. Deputies and strangers listened with Notre Dame, to an age which had passed delight while he told them that victory away. Just as a swarm of ephemeral con- the order of the day; that the guineas of Pitt stitutions, democratic, directorial, and consu- had been vainly lavished to hire machines six lar, sprang from the decay of the ancient feet high, carrying guns; that the flight of
the English leopard deserved to be celebrated were graceful and handsome youths of six or by Tyrtæus; and that the saltpetre dug out seven and twenty. Vergniaud and Genof the cellars of Paris had been turned into sonné were little more than thirty. They thunder, which would crush the Titan breth-had been only a few months engaged in pubren, George and Francis.
lic affairs. In a few months the fame of Meanwhile the trial of the accused Giron- their genius had filled Europe ; and they dists, who were under arrest at Paris, came were to die for no crime but this, that they
They flattered themselves with a vain had wished to combine order, justice, and hope of escape. They placed some reliance mercy with freedom. Their great fault was on their innocence, and some reliance on want of courage. We mean want of polititheir eloquence. They thought that shame cal courage-of that courage which is proof would suffice to restrain any man, however to clamor and oblequy, and which meets violent and cruel, from publicly committing great emergencies by daring and decisive the flagrant iniquity of condemning them to measures. Alas! they had but too good an death. The Revolutionary Tribunal was opportunity of proving, that they did not new to its functions. No member of the want courage to endure with manly cheerfulConvention had yet been executed; and it ness the worst that could be inflicted by such was probable that the boldest Jacobin would tyrants as St. Just, and such slaves as Bashrink from being the first 10 violate the rère. sanctity which was supposed to belong to the They were not the only victims of the noble representatives of the people.
cause. Madame Roland followed them to the The proceedings lasted some days. Gen- scaffold with a spirit as heroic as their own. sonné and Brissot defended themselves with Her husband was in a safe hiding-place, but great ability and presence of mind against could not bear to survive her. His body was the vile Hébert and Chaumette, who ap- found on the high-road, near Rouen. He had peared as accusers. The eloquent voice of fallen on his sword. Condorcet swallowed Vergniaud was heard for the last time. He opium. At Bordeaux, the steel fell on the pleaded his own cause, and that of his friends, necks of the bold and quick-witted Guadet, with such force of reason and elevation of and of Barbaroux, the chief of those enthusisentiment that a murmur of pity and admira-asts from the Rhone whose valor, in the tion rose from the audience. Nay, the court great crisis of the tenth of August, had turnitself, not yet accustomed to riot in daily ed back the tide of battle from the Louvre to carnage, showed signs of emotion. The sit- the Tuileries. In a field near the Garonne ting was adjourned, and a rumor went forth was found all that the wolves had left of Péthat there would be an acquittal. The Jaco- tion, once honored, greatly indeed beyond his bins met, breathing vengeance. Robes- deserts, as the model of republican virtue. pierre undertook to be their organ. He rose We are far from regarding even the best of on the following day in the Convention, and the Girondists with unmixed admiration; but proposed a decree of such atrocity, that even history owes to them this honorable testimoamong the acts of that year it can hardly be ny, that being free to choose whether they paralleled. By this decree the tribunal was would be oppressors or victims, they deliberempowered to cut short the defence of the ately and firmly resolved rather to suffer inprisoners, to pronounce the case clear, and justice than to inflict it. to pass immediate judgment. One deputy And now began that strange period known made a faint opposition. Barère instantly by the name of the Reign of Terror. The sprang up to support Robespierre-Barère, Jacobins had prevailed. This was their hour, the federalist; Barère, the author of that and the power of darkness. The Convention Commission of Twelve which was among the was subjugated, and reduced to profound sichief causes of the hatred borne by Paris to lence on the highest questions of state. The the Girondists; Barère, who in these Me- sovereignty passed to the Committee of Public moirs denies that he ever took any part Safety. To the edicts framed by that Comagainst the Girondists; Barère, who has the mittee, the representative assembly did not effrontery to declare that he greatly loved venture to offer even the species of opposiand esteemed Vergniaud. The decree was tion which the ancient Parliament had frepassed ; and the tribunal, without suffering quently offered to the mandates of the ancient the prisoners to conclude what they had to Kings. Six persons held the chief power in say, pronounced them guilty.
the small cabinet which now domineered over The following day was the saddest in the France-Robespierre, St. Just, Couthon, sad history of the Revolution. The sufferers Collot, Billaud, and Barère. accomplished, so young. Some of them adhered to them, it is due to say, that the
were so innocent, so brave, so eloquent, so To some of these men, and of those who
fanaticism which had emancipated them from ting a capital crime; when spies lurked in the restraints of justice and compassion, had every corner; when the guillotine was long emancipated them also from the dominion of and hard at work every morning; when the vulgar cupidity and of vulgar fear; that, jails were filled as close as the hold of a slavewhile hardly knowing where to find an assig- ship; when the gutters ran foaming with nat of a few francs to pay for a dinner, they blood into the Seine ; when it was death to expended with strict integrity the immense be great-niece of a captain of the royal guards, revenue which they collected by every art of or half-brother of a doctor of the Sorbonne, rapine; and that they were ready, in support to express a doubt whether assignats would of their cause, to mount the scaffold with as not fall, to hint that the English have been much indifference as they showed when they victorious in the action of the First of June, signed the death-warrants of aristocrats and to have a copy of one of Burke's pamphlets priests. But no great party can be composed locked up in a desk, to laugh at a Jacobin of such materials as these. It is the inevita- for taking the name of Cassius or Timoleon, ble law, that such zealots as we have describ- or to call the Fifth Sans-culottide by its old ed shall collect around them a multitude of superstitious name of St. Matthew's Day. slaves, of cowards, and of libertines, whose While the daily wagon-loads of victims were savage tempers and licentious appetites, with-carried to their doom through the streets of held only by the dread of law and magistracy Paris, the Proconsuls whom the sovereign from the worst excesses, are called into full Committee had sent forth to the departments, activity by the hope of impunity. A faction revealed an extravagance of cruelty unknown which, from whatever motive, relaxes the even in the capital. The knife of the deadgreat laws of morality, is certain to be joined ly machine rose and fell too slow for their by the most immoral part of the community. work of slaughter. Long rows of captives This has been repeatedly proved in religious were mowed down with grape-shot. Holes
The war of the Holy Sepulchre, the were made in the bottom of crowded barges Albigensian war, the Huguenot war, the Lyons was turned into a desert. At Arras Thirty Years' war, all originated in pious even the cruel mercy of a speedy death was zeal. That zeal inflamed the champions of denied to the prisoners. All down the Loire, the church to such a point, that they regard- from Saumer to the sea, great flocks of crows ed all generosity to the vanquished as a sin- and kites feasted on naked corpses, twined ful weakness. The infidel, the heretic, was together in hideous embraces. No mercy was to be run down like a mad dog. No outrage shown to sex or age. The number of young committed by the Catholic warrior on the lads and of girlsof seventeen who were murdermiscreant enemy could deserve punishment. ed by that execrable government, is to be As soon as it was known that boundless license reckoned by hundreds. Babies torn from the was thus given to barbarity and dissoluteness, breast were tossed from pike to pike along the thousands of wretches who cared nothing for Jacobin ranks. One champion of liberty had the sacred cause, but who were eager to be his pockets well stuffed with ears.
Another exempted from the police of peaceful cities, swaggered about with the finger of a little and the discipline of well-governed camps, child in his hat. A few months had sufficed flocked to the standard of the faith. The to degrade France below the level of New men who had set up that standard were sin- Zealand. cere, chaste, regardless of lucre, and perhaps, It is absurd to say that any amount of pubwhere only themselves were concerned, not lic danger can justify a system like this, we unforgiving ; but round that standard were do not say on Christian principles, we do not assembled such gangs of rogues, ravishers, say on the principles of a high morality, bat plunderers, and ferocious bravoes, as were even on principles of Machiavelian policy. scarcely ever found under the flag of any state is true that great emergencies call for activiengaged in a mere temporal quarrel. In a very ty and vigilance; it is true that they justify similar way was the Jacobin party composed. severity which, in ordinary times, would de There was a small nucleus of enthusiasts ; serve the name of cruelty. But indiscrimiround that nucleus was gathered a vast mass nate severity can never, under any circumof ignoble depravity; and in all that mass, stances, be useful. It is plain that the whole there was nothing so depraved and so ignoble efficacy of punishment depends on the care as Barère.
with which the guilty are distinguished. PunThen came those days, when the most bar- ishment which strikes the guilty and the inbarous of all codes was administered by the nocent promiscuously operates merely like a most barbarous of all tribunals; when no man pestilence or a great convulsion of nature, could greet his neighbors, or say his prayers, and has no more tendency to prevent offences, or dress his hair, without danger of commit- than the cholera, or an earthquake like that