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beyond a doubt, the foresight, deliberation, and method, with which this massacre was
made. He knew that circumstance on the very day of the commencement of the massacres, when, in all probability, he had begun this letter, for he presented it to the Assembly on the very next.
. Whilst, however, he defends these acts, he is conscious that they will appear in another light to the world. He therefore acquits the executive power, that is, he acquits himself (but only by his own assertion) of those acts “ of vengeance mixed with a sort of justice," an excess which he could neither foresee nor prevent.” He could not, he says, foresee these acts; when he tells us, the people of Paris had sagacity so well to foresee the designs of the court on the tenth of August; to foresee them so well, as to mark the precise epoch on which they were to be executed, and to contrive to anticipate them on the very day: he could not foresee these events, though he declares in this very letter that victory must bring with it some excess ;
" that the sea roars long after the tempest.” So far as to his foresight. As to his disposition to prevent, if he had foreseen the massacres of that day; this will be judged by his care in putting a stop to the massacre then going on.
This was no matter of foresight. He was in the very
midst of it. He does not so much as pretend, that he had used any force to put a stop to it. But if he had used any, the sanction given under his hand, to a sort of justice in the murderers, was enough to disarm the protecting force.
That approbation of what they had already done had its natural effect on the executive assassins, then in the paroxysm of their fury; as well as on their employers, then in the midst of the execution of their deliberate cold blooded system of murder. He did not at all differ from either of them in the principle of those executions, but only in the time of their duration; and that only as it affected himself. This, though to him a great consideration, was none to his confederates, who were at the same time his rivals. They were encouraged to accomplish the work they had in hand. They did accomplish it; and whilst this grave moral epistle from a grave minister, recommending a cessation of their work of “ vengeance mingled with a sort of justice,” was before a grave assembly, the authors of the massacres proceeded without interruption in their business for four days together; that is, until the seventh of that month, and until all the victims of the first proscription in Paris and at Versailles, and several other places, were immolated at the shrine of the grim Moloch of liberty and equality. All the priests, all the loyalists, all the first essayists and novices of revolution in 1789, that could be found, were promiscuously put to death. Through the whole of this long letter of Roland,
it is curious to remark how the nerve and vigour of his style, which had spoken so potently to his sovereign, is relaxed, when he addresses himself to the sans-culottes ; how that strength and dexterity of arm, with which he parries and beats down the scepter, is enfeebled and lost, when he comes to fence with the poignard! When he speaks to the populace he can no longer be direct. The whole compass of the language is tried to find synonymes and circumlocutions for massacre and murder. Things are never called by their common names. Massacre is sometimes agitation, sometimes effervescence, sometimes excess; sometimes too continued an exercise of a Revolutionary power.
However, after what had passed had been praised, or excused, or pardoned, he declares loudly against such proceedings in future. Crimes had pioneered and made smooth the way for the march of the virtues ; and from that time order and justice, and a sacred regard for personal property, were to become the rules for the new democracy. Here Roland and the Brissotines leagued for their own preservation, by endeavouring to preserve peace. This short story will render many of the parts of Brissot's pamphlet, in which Roland's views and intentions are so often alluded to, the more intelligible in themselves, and the more useful in their application by the English reader. Under the cover of these artifices, Roland, Brissot,
and their party, hoped to gain the bankers, merchants, substantial tradesmen, hoarders of assignats, and purchasers of the confiscated lands of the clergy and gentry, to join with their party, as holding out some sort of security to the effects which they possessed, whether these effects were the acquisitions of fair commerce, or the gains of jobbing in the misfortunes of their country, and the plunder of their fellow citizens. In this design the party of Roland and Brissot succeeded in a great degree. They obtained a majority in the National Convention. Composed however as that Assembly is, their majority was far from steady : but whilst they appeared to gain the Convention, and many of the outlying departments, they lost the city of Paris entirely and irrecoverably; it was fallen into the hands of Marat, Robespierre, and Danton. Their instruments were the sans-culottes, or rabble, who domineered in that capital, and were wholly at the devotion of those incendiaries, and received their daily pay. The people of property were of no consequence, and trembled before Marat and his janizaries. As that great man had not obtained the helm of the state, it was not yet come to his turn to act the part of Brissot and his friends, in the assertion of subordination and regular government. But Robespierre has survived both these rival chiefs, and is now the great patron of jacobin order.
To balance the exorbitant power of Paris, (which threatened to leave nothing to the National Convention, but a character as insignificant as that which the first assembly had assigned to the unhappy Louis the Sixteenth) the faction of Brissot, whose leaders were Roland, Petion, Vergniaux, Isnard, Condorcet, &c. &c. &c. applied themselves to gain the great commercial towns, Lyons, Marseilles, Rouen, Nantz, and Bourdeaux. The republicans of the Brissotin description, to whom the concealed royalists, still very numerous, joined themselves, obtained a temporary superiority in these places. In Bourdeaux, on account of the activity and eloquence of some of its representatives, this superiority was the most distinguished. This last city is seated on the Garonne, or Gironde; and being the centre of a department named from that river, the appellation of Girondists was given to the whole party. These, and some other towns, declared strongly against the principles of anarchy; and against the despotism of Paris. Numerous addresses were sent to the Convention, promising to maintain its authority, which the addressers were pleased to consider as legal and constitutional, though chosen, not to compose an executive government, but to form a plan for a constitution.
In the Convention, measures were taken to obtain an armed force from the several departments to