THE REPUBLICANS AND THE DEMOCRATS AFTER THE AFFAIR OF THE CHAMP DE MARS
THE day of July 17, 1791, has a great historical importance. It was the day of a sudden blow struck by the bourgeoisie against the people, and against all democrats, whether republican or otherwise. This was, an act of civil war; and, indeed, the war of classes, long announced, now began.
From the massacre on the Champ de Mars dates the irremediable division of the men of 1789 into two parties; two parties which do not name themselves, save that each claims to be patriotic, but which we may call the bourgeois party and the democratic party; since the question which divides them, arming each against the other, is the question of the organisation of the national sovereignty.
Secession at the Jacobins, by the emigration to the Feuillants of the moderate majority, who fear "enthusiastic and unpeaceful innovators", and who
desire "the Constitution, the whole Constitution, and nothing but the
Constitution"; secession in the National Assembly, which,
since the extreme Right withdrew, consists of only two parties : the Democrats, having for spokesmen Robespierre, Petion, Buzot, and Gregoire; and the bourgeois or Constitutionalists, whose spokesmen are Barnave, d'André, Le Chapelier, &c.; and secession of the same kind in every commune in France. The whole nation is divided into two hostile camps. Each is the result of July 17th, a day which, directly or indirectly, has influenced almost the whole nineteenth century.
Scission and reaction after July 17th.
The bourgeoisie took advantage of their bloody victory to persecute their adversaries, and to increase yet further "their own political privileges.
At once a kind of terror weighed on all democrats, whether republican or monarchist.
On July 18th, Keeper of the Seals Duport-Dutertre writes to Bernard, public accuser at the law-courts of the sixth arrondissement, inviting him to hunt down the demonstrators of the day before.
Bernard's zeal was in advance of the minister's. By his own indictment, dated July 17th, he "lodges complaint" of the events of the day, and requests that he shall be "informed as to the authors, fomenters, and accomplices of the disastrous designs manifested by the said events, circumstances, and consequences". What "disastrous designs"? Those of the "public enemies or discontented and turbulent men "who" thought to find in a crisis of the State an occasion favourable to their policy or their ambition". Bernard denounces all democrats, including those men "who call themselves friends of the Constitution and defenders of the people". Their conspiracy was concocted against the National Assembly, against Bailly, against La Fayette, against the National Guard.
"To prepare men's minds for the great explosion", says Bernard, men with neither shirts nor stockings have been paid to declaim lines from Brutus in the streets and public places. By the intrigues of the principal conspirators the Patriotic Societies were led astray, and, without intending it, seconded the most sinister proposals; agitators were scattered through all the public places to seduce the multitude by the most insidious propositions and the absurdest calumnies. Finally, the leaders had to rally to the standard of anarchy the workers on the public relief works, promising them the goods of the clergy; and brigands of all kinds, by seditious promises of the rights of active citizens and the partition of the soil."
As for the petition of the Champ de Mars, its success "would have been followed by foreign and civil wars, bankruptcy, and every kind of evil". These declamations of Bernard's are vague, but we plainly see their intention and cause, and it was against democracy itself that the bourgeoisie wished to take proceedings.
These proceedings were not easy to institute, lacking a legal grievance. Bernard had to encourage the judges by an indictment, of which we have the rough draft, and in which he declared, what he did not say in his first indictment, that the famous petition was not the object of his accusations. "It is not true", he says, "that these proceedings aim at the petition; without personally approving of it, I recognise in every citizen the incontestable right of petition on any subject, so long as the formalities prescribed by the law be conformed with."
Doubtless, this petition had been "the instrument of the rebellious ... the arm with which they wished to destroy the Constitution, ... but the signatories have nothing to fear from our proceedings."
"Far from wishing to proceed against them, we grieve over the errors of some, as we rejoice in the good they are doing; and it is with the greatest satisfaction that we state that Messieurs Petion and Robespierre have declared, not only in their deposition, but in a letter written on July the 16th in the offices of the National Assembly, and found in the portfolio [Fréron's portfolio is meant], that once the decree concerning the King was published, all petitions were useless. It is, then, evident that if these illustrious deputies, inspired by an ardent love of liberty, have for a moment erred in their opinions, in applying to a great State grown old in the luxury and the vices which accompany it, a State surrounded by powerful monarchies and in the most critical circumstances, too violent remedies, the austerity of antique manners, and the harshness of republican government, they have failed out of an excess of virtue; but at least they have recognised this essential truth, that in the present crisis the public safety depends on the union of all citizens and the co-operation of all individual wills in effecting the execution of the general will."
He exculpates the Jacobins.
"It is evident and has been proved that a gathering of 8,000 individuals, who came from the Palais Royal, introduced themselves, on the evening of July 16th, to this meeting, forcing open the doors; that it was this frenzied multitude only which dictated the petition and determined on the steps which accompanied it.
"What then are the objects of my indictment? If I proceed neither against the petition, nor the signatories, there are plots to disperse the Assembly, to change the form [of the government decreed by the Assembly]; there are those who, in order to execute criminal projects, caused gatherings of the people. There are above all the scoundrels who excited the people to attack and disarm the National Guard, the rampart and prop of public peace and liberty. There are the most dangerous enemies of the Constitution; men lost in debt; without homes, without property".
He asks for fresh writs of arrest against "the members of the Cordeliers' Club who, at the meeting on the evening of July 16th, proposed to repulse the National Guard by force and to furnish themselves with sharp-edged weapons to hamstring their horses"; and also "against the man who presided, on Saturday, July 16th, at the Indigents Club, rue Christine". He demands a decree of accusation to be heard against the Sieur La Poype, who proposed, in a special committee of the Jacobins, that the agitators should furnish themselves with concealed arms. He recalls the fact "that the accusation against the movers and instigators of the events of the Champ de Mars strikes more particularly at those who proposed to change the form of the government and to dissolve the National Assembly".
Witnesses "speak of widespread rumours that Danton and Fréron were to be nominated tribunes of the people on the Champ de Mars". Bernard re- quests an adjournment in order to hear new witnesses. He refuses the demands for provisional liberty preferred by some of those incriminated; by Richard, one of the assassins of the two Invalides hidden under the altar; by Brune, accused of proposals and threats proving that he was aware of the proposals against the Constitution; by Verrières and Musquinet de Saint-Felix, accused of the same; by Tissier, who swore, on the Champ de Mars, to obey the nation and the law. "It is indispensable to teach this gentleman that the sovereign does not exist in a multitude illegally assembled and presided over by an agitator; that in France the sovereign, that is to say, the nation, is represented by the National Assembly and the King".
He does not say "these are democrats and republicans"; he does not wish to seem to prosecute men for a fault of opinion. But it is precisely democracy, and, above all, republicanism, that he is proceeding against, as the Révolutions de Paris remarks, and five witnesses come to depose that Brune had made republican proposals. Tissier is convicted of having said, in the name of all his followers, that he wanted no more kings. The proceedings are not against the petition; yet a witness deposes that Momoro, standing erect on the altar, invited people to sign.
We have not the actual accusation, which would be so valuable to the historian of the commencement of the war of classes. We have not even an authentic list of the accused. According to the Gazette des nouveaux tribunaux, they were fourteen in number : Brune, Bruirette de Verrières, Legendre, Santerre, Tissier, Saint-Félix, Richard, senr., Santies (?), Barthe, Camille Desmoulins, the Chevalier de la Riviere, and "three others". Some of these : Desmoulins, Legendre, Santerre, succeeded in hiding themselves. The others were arrested. The inquiry lasted from July 23rd to August 8th. On August 12th the proceedings commenced, the public being admitted. We have no complete, consecutive account of the proceedings. We know only that the judges were by no means enlightened, and that the proceedings dragged. On August 3 1st the writs of arrest against Santerre, Desmoulins, La Rivière, Tissier, Brune, and Momoro were cancelled in favor of a summons, so that people began to foresee an acquittal. The general amnesty, voted by the Assembly on September 11th, put an end to the proceedings, proceedings brought by the bourgeoisie against democracy and republicanism, and which appeared hypocritical and without legal basis.
These were not the only proceedings. Danton was in danger of arrest, but for different reasons, and had to escape for a few days to England
The other Cordeliers, whether republicans or not, were obliged to remain some time in hiding, among them Marat, Fréron, and Robert.
There was, indeed, a kind of inferior Terror; one might call it the Bourgeois Terror; it was rendered possible by the state of average public opinion in France. People really believed, through almost the whole of France, what the bourgeois and Constitutional journals said (they were the only papers which had any wide provincial circulation) : namely, that the petitioners of the Champ de Mars had wished to disorganise society, that they were agitators, murderers, and anti-Revolutionists in disguise. As early as July 18th Thomas Lindet wrote to his brother : "Hatred of the King made people long for the abolition of royalty; the fear of disorder will reconcile them to royalty, and, perhaps, to the King".
This is precisely what happened. There was a reaction of opinion in favor of the monarchists to which the republicans had to bow their heads; and the question of the republic fell more or less into abeyance.
But the defeat of the republicans was only apparent. The democratic movement was checked in the streets, and only in the streets; not in men's minds; and the republic was naturally, in the long run, benefited by every step forward of democracy.
On the other hand, confounded as they were with the great democratic party, the republicans began to transform the party by republicanising it, and already had converted it to the polyarchy denounced by Siéyès, since they made it accept, at least for the moment, the idea of an elective Executive Council.
Forced to hide their colours, and to seem to disappear, the republicans were in reality far stronger than before Louis' flight. They began to feel themselves the destined heirs of the bourgeois system; a system whose destinies were founded no longer on the unanimous confidence of the nation, but on the fragile support of a throne occupied by a suspected King.
Aggravation of the bourgeois system.
These remote consequences were so far unseen; the bourgeoisie profited by their victory; not only by avenging themselves upon the democrats, but by increasing their own political privileges, and making the property conditions of the suffrage still more exacting.
It will be remembered that the system of suffrage established four classes of citizens politically privileged, four classes of active citizens. They were : (1) the citizens forming the primary assemblies that is, those who paid a direct tax equivalent to the local value of 3 days' labour; (2) the citizens elected by the primary assemblies to form the electoral assemblies (who paid a tax equivalent to the value of 10 days' labour); (3) those eligible for various functions (paying the same); (4) those eligible as deputies (paying a mark of silver).
This system was in force for elections to administrative, municipal, judicial, and ecclesiastical offices.
From this state of affairs had arisen a class of functionaries, who in general were moderate and bourgeois in their sympathies; but not, it would seem, as moderate or as bourgeois as the majority of the Constituent Assembly would have wished.
And in Paris, above all, the bourgeoisie had made miscalculations .
The primary assemblies, consisting of 91,000 active citizens (78,000 in the city of Paris, 13,000 in the rest of the department), had in October, 1790, to nominate 913 electors.
At the period when the electoral laws had been passed it seemed as if the number of Parisians eligible to act as electors must be small, because there was, in Paris, scarcely any direct taxation. But since all indirect taxation had been transformed into direct taxation, a large number of citizens were paying the 10 francs necessary for eligibility. Consequently the primary assemblies were no longer, as had been hoped or feared, confined to a small number of citizens in easy circumstances.
On the other hand, political life was in its infancy, and it happened, through ignorance, fear, or idleness, that the greater number of the active citizens did not vote. The sections which counted the largest number of voters were that of Enfants-Rouges, which counted 257 out of 1,573, and that of the Théâtre Français, which counted 497 out of 2,617. On an average the number of voters did not exceed a ninth part of those registered as active citizens.
This abstention was obviously in favor of the democrats, who, without being in the majority, managed to elect a fair number of their candidates. Thus, among the 913 electors there were Brissot, Kersaint, Carra, Sergent, Santerre, Panis, Danton, Pons, d'Églantine, Saint-Sauveur, and even one of the editors of the republican journal the Mercure national, the Chevalier Guynement de Keralio, Mme. Robert's father.
These elections, as we have seen, took place in October, 1790. It was at the moment when, Louis being in conflict with the Revolution over the civil constitution of the clergy, the democratic movement had been accelerated, and a republican party was born; and these circumstances were evidently not without influence on the minds and votes of the primary assemblies; so that a strong minority of democrats found their way into the electoral assembly of the department of Paris.
This assembly, which sat from November 18, 1790, till June 15, 1791, named the departmental administrators, the judges, the bishop (Gobel), and the curés.
As far as the bishop and the curés were concerned, the electors seem to have agreed easily enough, without any division into democrats and bourgeois.
It was otherwise with the departmental elections (January 14 to February 15, 1791). Certainly the Moderates were in the majority, and secured the election of their more notable leaders : La Rochefoucauld, Mirabeau, Talleyrand, Siéyès; and the majority in this department continued resolutely conservative, as we should say that is, anti-republican, anti-democratic. But the democrats succeeded in electing two of their number, and not the least; Kersaint, who was half a re- publican, and Danton (January 31, 1791), who was then considered a dangerous demagogue. It is true that the latter was elected on a second count by only 144 votes among 461 voters. But that he was elected at all when he had as yet given no proof of the relative moderation he showed later on was a proof and a measure of the progress of democratic ideas.
We have seen how this progress increased in Paris in the spring of 1791. The electors followed the stream; more and more often they voted in favour of democrats. Robespierre, who was the leader of the democratic party in the National Assembly, was elected (June 10, 1791) Public Accuser in the Criminal Court of the Department of Paris; elected by 220 votes as against 99 given to d'André, one of the leaders of the bourgeois party. On June 15th Petion was elected President of the Criminal Court and Buzot Vice-Presi- dent. On December 18, 1790, Roederer had been elected "Supplementary Judge of one of the Courts of the six arrondissements of the Department of Paris". We find that, with the exception of Grégoire (who was out of the question, as he had been elected Bishop of Loir-et-Cher), the most notable of the democratic deputies were elected to fill various posts in the new judiciary, so that the working of the property suffrage had resulted, in the, capital itself, in the glorification of the democrats.
This is why, after its bloody victory on July 17, 1791, the National Assembly tried to make still more bourgeois, if I may say so, a system already so bourgeois; and to aggravate the property conditions now that the democrats were terrorised, or, at least, such democrats as were capable of striking a blow, now that it seemed as though a popular insurrection need no longer be feared.
But how repeal these constitutional decrees, so often proclaimed inviolable, whose preservation had been sworn so often and so solemnly? How touch the sacred ark of the Constitution, above all, just after shedding the blood of the democrats who had wished to revise it?
This is how it was done.
Since public opinion was so strongly unfavorable to the decree of the silver mark demanded as the test of eligibility to future assemblies : since Paris had so earnestly shown her dislike of the measure well, this unpopular decree should be repealed, and the party would profit by the occasion by enormously increasing the conditions of eligibility to the functions of an elector of the second degree. Under the disguise of a concession to democratic opinion the bourgeoisie would thus increase its means of defence against the democracy, since those who would directly nominate the deputies would in future be chosen among the richer citizens. To transfer the tax of the mark of silver from the eligible to the electors, as was intended, and finally done, was to emphasise the bourgeois character of the Government.
An occasion soon offered. The Constitution was to be codified. The essential Articles of the Constitution were voted in 1789. Since then many other clauses had been voted; and, on the other hand, the distinction between the properly constitutional and the properly legislative clauses was not at all clear. The distinction was one that had to be made; all the constitutional decrees must be classified in one single law, and a revision, if need be, undertaken of each decree.
For the accomplishment of this task the Assembly had decided (September 23, 1790) to appoint seven members as a Committee of Constitution : Adrien du Port, Barnave, Alexandre de Lameth, Clermont-Tonnerre, Beaumez, Petion, and Buzot.
This Committee, in spite of Petion and Buzot, decided to do more than its duty; it decided, namely, to revise the Constitution.
As regards the suffrage, what happened was as follows : On August 5, 1791, Thouret, in the name of the Committee, proposed to revoke the decree of the mark of silver, and to increase the tax demanded of the electors, but without naming any sum.
Immediately the democrats turned their coats. Those who yesterday were anxious to change the Constitution in order to make it more democratic now almost unanimously figured as preservers of the Con-stitution, who insisted on the maintenance of the tax of 10 days' labour and of the mark of silver.
On August 11th it was proposed to fix the tax demanded of electors at the equivalent of 40 days' labour.
Petion opposed this suggestion, saying that he preferred the mark of silver.
Robespierre spoke eloquently. He showed that under this system Jean Jacques Rousseau could never have been an elector. "Yet he has enlightened the human race, and his powerful and virtuous genius has prepared the way for your own labours. But, according to the principles of the Committee, we ought to blush for having erected statues to a man who did not pay a mark of silver". The man who pays a tax equivalent in value to 10 days' labour is as independent as the rich man, and as the poor man has more interest in the preservation of the laws than the rich man, he will be the better elector. Robespierre concluded that the decree of the mark of silver and the conditions of eligibility imposed on the electors should both be revoked; but he allowed it to be seen that he would resign himself to the status quo.
This status quo was very ably recommended by Buzot, in order not to "cause trouble in our provinces". And he added, to the applause of the Left : "It is really very astonishing that those who have so long been accused of republicanism should now be the very same who wish to maintain the Constitution as it is".
Barnave made a notable reply to the orators of the democratic party. It was necessary, he stated, to defend oneself against the seditious, the revolutionaries, the democratic and republican journalists :
"Among the electors chosen", he said, "who pay less than the value of 30 or 40 days' labour, we do not find the workman, nor the labourer, nor the honest artisan, occupied always at the labour which his necessities demand; we find a few men inspired and actuated by the spirit of intrigue; men who spread through the primary assemblies the love of turbulence and the desire for change which are secretly devouring them; men who, because they have nothing, and because they cannot find in honest work the means of subsistence, are seeking to create a new order of things, which shall replace probity by intrigue, good sense by a little cunning, and the general and lasting interest of society by unsleeping personal interest. (Loud applause.) If I wished to support what have said by examples, I certainly should not have to go far in search of them; I would ask the members of this Assembly who have maintained the contrary opinion : are such members of the electoral bodies as are known to you, and as do not pay the value of 30 to 40 days' labour are they working men? No! Are they lampooners? Are they journalists? Yes!" (Loud applause.)
Dauchy made a sensation by calculations which proved that under the system proposed by the Committee there would be scarcely any electors at all in the country districts. Next day Thouret brought forward a new proposal, by which the conditions of suffrage would not be the same for the peasants as for the town-dwellers. A lively debate arose. Grégoire, Le Chapelier, and Vernier obtained the adjournment of the clause until the revision should be completed.
But on August 27th the clause once more came under discussion, and, in spite of the opposition of Reubell, was voted in the following shape :
"No one can be nominated elector, unless he fulfils the conditions necessary to an active citizen; namely, in towns having more than 6,000 inhabitants he must be the proprietor or tenant of a property valued on the register of taxes as having a revenue equal to the local value of 200 days' labour; or he must be the tenant of a house valued on the same register as having a rental equal to the value of 150 days' labour; in towns having less than 6,000 inhabitants, he must be the proprietor or tenant of a property marked on the register of taxes as having a revenue equal to the local value of 180 days' labour, or the tenant of a house valued on the same rolls as having a rent equal to the value of 100 days' labour; and, in the country districts, he must be proprietor or tenant of a property valued in the register of taxes as having a revenue equal to the local value of 180 days' labour, or a farmer or metayer of lands valued on the same register at 400 days' labour. With regard to those who are at the same time proprietors or tenants in one place and tenants, farmers, or metayers in another, their various titles to eligibility will be added together so as to afford the necessary tax."
The clause which suppressed the mark of silver read as follows : "All active citizens, whatever their state, profession, or taxation, may be elected as representatives of the nation." A futile concession; it was very evident that the electors would, as a rule, choose the deputies from among themselves.
Thus the Constituent Assembly bestowed on a class by no means numerous, consisting chiefly of landowners, the exclusive privilege of electing deputies and other functionaries, and placed the fate of the nation entirely in the hands of these few privileged persons.
This decree, however, was not enforced, the Assembly having postponed its application until the time when the present electoral assemblies should be renewed that is, for two years. The elections for the Legislative Assembly took place under the law of the mark of silver; and when the two years were up the entire bourgeois system had disappeared. But this reactionary measure, although it was not followed by any legal consequences, is none the less a historically important fact, for the reason that it marks a notable episode in the conflict of classes. The bourgeoisie replied to the claims of the people by banishing a larger number of electors from the State politic, and by increasing its own privileges.
The Assembly closes every legitimate outlet for Democracy and Republicanism.
This new electoral system, which was never to be applied, the Assembly now sought to make as lasting as possible, by putting as far forward as possible the time when the Constitution could be revised. That it would be revised no one denied; and the future revising assemblies were called, in the political language of the time, National Conventions. The Assembly de- cided that the revision could only take place when three consecutive legislatures (each of which must last two years) should have expressed a uniform desire for the alteration of one or more articles of the Constitu- tion. The revision would then be made by the fourth legislature, increased for the purpose by 249 members. But in any case the first two legislatures, those which would sit from 1791 to 1793, and from 1793 to 1795 respectively, would not be able to express any desire for revision. In this manner the first revision could only be undertaken by the sixth Assembly that is to say, at the earliest, towards the end of the year 1801.
We see plainly in the debates on this question that the Assembly feared not only the democratic, but also the republican peril. D'André declared that ten years of the status quo would not be enough to discourage the hopes and efforts of the republican party, and demanded an increase of the period to thirty years. Démeunier contested this motion as contrary to the rights of the nation, and went so far as to use these words, which were new indeed to the tribune of the Assembly : "I declare that, if the majority of the French nation desired a republican government, they would have the right to establish it".
We see, then, that from this time onwards, if the constitutional majority continued to stave off the republic by means of unlimited abuse and conservative measures of defence, yet a minority of the monarchists in the Assembly, or at least one of them, and not the least notable, declared the republic to be eventually possible and legitimate the republic whose name none had dared to pronounce in 1789, nor even in 1790. However this may be, it is a notable fact in the history of the democratic and republican parties that the National Assembly, after having aggravated the property suffrage, believed itself obliged to close all legal paths leading to the ulterior establishment of the republic and democracy. This explains, up to a certain point, the silence which we shall now find observed for so long a time in the tribune of the Assembly on the subject of democratic and republican demands.
Restoration of the royal power.
The revision completed, the Assembly busied itself with putting an end to the republican interim which existed in actual fact, and replacing the King on the throne.
The spokesman of the Committee, Beaumez, proposed, on September 1st, to submit the Constitution for the King's acceptance; a matter settled after some embarrassment. Supposing the King were to refuse to become King again? Supposing he refused this Constitution, which he had already, in his manifesto of June 2Oth, declared impracticable!
It was decided first of all that the King should cease to be a prisoner, and it was decided in these terms : "The King will be requested to give all orders that he may judge to be proper for his security and for the dignity of his person". He was left free to go to any city in the kingdom for the purpose of acceptance. He declared that he would remain in Paris, and, in a message, dated September 13th, he made known his acceptance of the Constitution. But with what reserves did he qualify that acceptance! He had the courage to apologise for his conduct; for the flight that ended at Varennes. He did not, then, know the wishes of the nation. Now that he knew them he undertook to maintain the Constitution from within and to defend it against enemies from without. But he added :
"I should not be speaking the truth were I to say that I have perceived, in the means of execution and administration, all the energy which must be necessary to instil life and to preserve unity in all the portions of so great an empire; yet, since opinions are at present divided on these matters, I consent to allow experience only to be their judge. When I have used with loyalty all the means that have been restored to me, no one will be able to reproach me; and the nation, whose interest alone must be its guide, will express itself by the means reserved to it by the Constitution".
Thus, at the very moment when Louis was swearing to be faithful to the Constitution, he declared it anarchical. Far from protesting, the National Assembly applauded his declarations with enthusiasm. When he repaired to the Salle des Seances (September 14th) to take the oath, which he had vitiated beforehand by so many reserves, so that a new era of discord might well have been foreseen, there was "repeated applause", and the deputies cried three times, Vive le roi! Then the Assembly in a body accompanied the King as far as the Tuileries, "to the sound of the people's cries of joy, military bands, and salvoes of artillery" (Moniteur).
The example given by the Constituent Assembly was followed throughout the country. There was a recrudescence of royalism; not only in the country, but in Paris, where public rejoicings in honor of the establishment of the Constitution were decreed for September 18th. The municipality solemnly proclaimed the Constitution on the altar of the nation, still red with the blood of democrats. In the evening Paris was illuminated, and the King, amid enthusiastic cheers, walked with the royal family in the Champs Élysées. All Paris seemed to have become royalist again, as under the ancien régime; and there were only a few protests, like that of a cobbler, "who set a light in his window behind an oiled paper, on which was traced, 'Vive le roi, s'il est de bonne foi, as one might say, 'Long live the King, if he be the right thing'. The theatres for some weeks had resumed the playing of royalist pieces, such as Gaston et Bayard, le Siège de Calais, Henri IV à Paris, la Partie de Chasse d'Henri IV, Nicodème dans la lune, Richard Coeur-de-Lion.
"This last heroi-comic piece", we read in the Révolutions de Paris, "nearly had a tragic ending at the Théâtre Italien, on the 19th of this month. Even the imbecile orchestra wanted to play its part, to insult patriots by refusing to play for them the national air, Ça ira. However, it had to give way. But what are we to think of Clairval! who had the effrontery to take it upon himself to substitute the name of Louis for that of Richard, and to sing, in a screeching, broken voice :
O Louis! O my King!
Thy friends encircle thee,
Our love encircles thee.
'Tis for our hearts a simple thing
Faithful to thee to be.
Beneath the eyes
Of all the skies
We break thine iron chains.
Thy crown we tender back to thee.
Unhappy Queen! ah, let thy breast
No more with sorrow be oppressed;
For many friends to you are left,
And to your Court
May love resort;
Fidelity and love;
To serve you is reward enough.
The royalists applauded. It rained copies of this wretched parody in the auditorium. The parterre protested, but had the worst of it.
Next day, September 2oth, the King goes to the Opera; going along the boulevards he receives an ovation. "Vive le roi!" they cry; "hats off!". The Queen is welcomed too. "The dear people!" she cries; "they only want to love us". The artistes allow their royalism to be evident. "Candeille herself ... a republican a month ago, or a democrat at least, is taken suddenly with the Court fever at the first news that the King and Queen would honor the piece with their presence."
Sunday, the 25th, was a new festival; the Te Deum was sung in Notre Dame. In the evening the King, declaring himself "touched by the signs of love afforded him by the inhabitants of the capital", gave in his turn a fête to the people, with illuminations, dances, banquets in the open air, and so forth, at which all sang this royalist doggerel :
"Note bon roi
A tout fait ....
Et note bonn'reine
Qu'alle eut de peine!
Enfin les via
Of which the sense or lack of it might roughly be given in English, thus :
"God save the King!
He's done just the thing!
God save the Queen,
She must 'a felt green!
Now what a sight!
They're both all right!"
Louis XVI, the Queen, and La Fayette walked to and fro by torchlight in the Champs Élysées, amid continual applause. The King made the gift of 50,000 livres to the poor. On September 27th he showed himself at the Théâtre Français, where again there were cries of Vive le roi! A few young men having cried for the nation, the audience replied, "To the doors, the b... Jacobins !"
On the day when the Assembly separated, the King had posted up a proclamation, in which he said : "The term of the Revolution has come : let the nation resume its happy nature". And he repaired to the National Assembly, where he renewed his protestations of loyalty; and as all accounts agree in stating, there was a scene of tremendous enthusiasm. The session of the Assembly terminated to the sound of cries, a hundred times repeated, of Vive le roi!
One would have thought there were no longer any republicans anywhere. But attentive observers saw plainly that this silence was no sign of death; at the moment when the republican party seemed to disappear they perceived its existence, and even foretold its future success. Thus Mallet du Pan, at the end of September :
"The republicans, without having, in any considerable degree, the advantage of numbers, do possess the advantage of a more intimate agreement of opinions, and a more fiery zeal as regards their conduct. The moment will come when France will be divided between them and the exaggerated royalists."
Doubtless the writer exaggerates the republican peril in order to excite the vigilance of the monarchist bourgeois; and what he says of the agreement and the zeal of the republicans would apply more justly to the democrats. But he states, and fully understands, that these overwhelming royalist acclamations, which everywhere salute the reconstituted monarchy, are no sign that every Frenchman is satisfied with the restoration of the perjured King, together with the aggravation of the bourgeois rule. The democratic party is only half muzzled and terrorised. On the very day when the Assembly, dissolving, acclaims the King, there is a sudden popular manifestation in honour of Petion and Robespierre, and we read, in the Révolutions de Paris:
"If this last scene of turpitude [the courtier-like enthusiasm of the Assembly] has made the hearts of patriots swell with indignation, they must have felt the compensation, two hours later, of a truly moving spectacle. The people were awaiting Petion and Robespierre on the terrace of the Tuileries; they come out, and the people surround them, press about them, embrace them; crowns of oak-leaves are set on their heads; cries are heard of 'Vive la nation! Vive la liberté!' A woman pierces the crowd, her child in her arms; she places it in those of Robespierre; the mother and the two deputies sprinkle it with their tears. They seek to escape from their triumph, and to slip down a side turning; but the people follow; they are surrounded anew; they are borne on high to the sound of instruments and of cheers; they ask for a carriage; they are placed in a carriage, and in a moment the horses are out of the shafts, &c. But already Petion and Robespierre are out of the carriage; they speak; they recall the people to their dignity, of which they are the upholders; they beg them to control their gratitude; the people listen to them; bless them; they are escorted home amid a gigantic crowd; and the names of 'virgin deputies', 'incorruptible legislators', joined to their own, were heard on all sides as they went"