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present time ;—“ It is in the nature of things," continues he“ and in that of the human heart, " that victory should bring with it some excess. “ The sea, agitated by a violent storm, roars long “ after the tempest; but every thing has bounds, “ which ought at length to be observed.”

In this memorable epistle, he considers such ercesses as fatalities arising from the very nature of things, and consequently not to be punished. He allows a space of time for the duration of these agitations : and lest he should be thought rigid and too scanty in his measure, he thinks it may be long. But he would have things to cease at length. But when, and where ?—When they may approach his own person.

Yesterday,says he, “the Ministers were denounced : vaguely indeed as to the matter, be

cause subjects of reproach were wanting; but “ with that warmth and force of assertion, which " strike the imagination and seduce it for a mo

ment, and which mislead and destroy confidence, “without which no man should remain in place in “ a free government. Yesterday, again, in an as

sembly of the presidents of all the sections, con“ voked by the ministers, with a view of conciliat

ing all minds, and of mutual explanation, I per« ceive that distrust which suspects, interrogates, and fetters operations.In this manner (that is, in mutual suspicions and x 2


he says,

interrogatories) this virtuous minister of the home department, and all the magistracy of Paris, spent ; the first day of the massacre, the atrocity of which has spread horrour and alarm throughout Europe. It does not appear that the putting a stop to the massacre had any part in the object of their meeting, or in their consultations when they were met. Here was a minister tremblingly alive to his own safety, dead to that of his fellow citizens, eager to preserve his place, and worse than indifferent about its most important duties. Speaking of the people,

“ that their hidden enemies may make use of this agitation," (the tender appellation which he gives to horrid massacre) “ to hurt their best friends, and their snost able defenders. Already the example begins ; let it restrain and

arrest a just rage. Indignation carried to its height commences proscriptions which fall only

on the guilty, but in which errour and particular “ passions may shortly involve the honest man.

He saw that the able artificers in the trade and mystery of murder did not choose that their skill should be unemployed after their first work; and that they were full as ready to cut off their rivals as their enemies. This gave him one alarm, that was serious. This letter of Roland in every part of it lets out the secret of all the parties in this revolution. Plena rimarum est; hac, atque illac; perfluit. We see that none of them condemn the

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occasional practice of murder ; provided it is properly applied; provided it is kept within the bounds, which each of those parties think proper to prescribe. In this case Roland feared, that, if what was occasionally useful should become habitual, the practice might go farther than was convenient. It might involve the best friends of the last revolution, as it had done the heroes of the first revolution: he feared that it would not be confined to the La Fayettes and ClermontTonnerres, the Duponts and Barnaves; but that it might extend to the Brissots and Verginauxs, to the Condorcets, the Petions, and to himself. Under this apprehension there is no doubt that his humane feelings were altogether unaffected.

His observations on the massacre of the preceding day are such as cannot be passed over :-“Yes

terday,” said he, “ was a day upon the events of “ which it is perhaps necessary to leave a veil; I “ know that the people with their vengeance

mingled a sort of justice; they did not take for “ victims all who presented themselves to their 66

fury; they directed it to them who had for a

long time been spared by the sword of the law, “ and who they believed, from the peril of cir“ cumstances, should be sacrificed without delay. “ But I know that it is easy to villains and traitors to misrepresent this effervescence, and " that it must be checked: I know that we owe

x 3

6 to

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to all France the declaration, that the executive

power could not foresee or prevent this excess. " I know that it is due to the constituted authori“ ties to place a limit to it, or consider themselves

as abolished.

In the midst of this carnage he thinks of nothing but throwing a veil over it: which was at once to cover the guilty from punishment, and to extinguish all compassion for the sufferers. He apologizes for it; in fact, he justifies it. He, who (as the reader has just seen in what is quoted from this letter) feels so much indignation at " vague “ denunciations” when made against himself, and from which he then feared nothing more than the subversion of his power, is not ashamed to consider the charge of a conspiracy to massacre the Parisians brought against his master upon

denunciations as vague as possible, or rather nunciations, as a perfect justification of the monstrous proceedings against him. He is not ashamed to call the murder of the unhappy priests in the Carmes, who were under no criminal denunciation whatsoever, “

a vengeance mingled with a sort of justice;" he observes that “they had been a long time spared by the sword of the law," and calls by anticipation all those, who should represent this

effervescencein other colours, villains and traitors : he did not then foresee, how soon himself and his accomplices would be under the necessity


upon no de

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of assuming the pretended character of this new sort of “ villany and treason,” in the hope of obliterating the memory of their former real villanies and treasons :-he did not foresee, that in the course of six months a formal manifesto on the part of himself and his faction, written by his confederate Brissot, was to represent this effervescenceas another “ St. Bartholomew;" and speak of it as having made humanity shudder, and sullied the Revolution for ever*.

It is very remarkable that he takes upon himself to know the motives of the assassins, their policy, and even what they “ believed.” How could this be if he had no connexion with them? He praises the murderers for not having taken as yet all the lives of those who had, as he calls it, “presented themselves as victims to their fury.” He paints the miserable prisoners who had been forcibly piled upon one another in the church of the Carmelites, by his faction, as presenting themselves as victims to their fury; as if death was their choice; or, (allowing the idiom of his language to make this equivocal) as if they were by some accident presented to the fury of their assassins: whereas he knew, that the leaders of the murderers sought these pure and innocent victims in the places where they had deposited them, and were sure to find them. The very selection, wbich he praises as a sort of justice tempering their fury, proves, * See p. 12, and p. 13, of this translation. x 4


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