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257. Toul. iii.
to re-esta. blish the
CHAP. IX. head; I will not give it them.”—“ Citizen General,"
said Carnier, the leading representative, “ will you obey the decree of the Convention, and repair to Paris ?”—“ Not at present,” replied Dumourier.-" I declare you then suspended from your functions, and order the soldiers to arrest your person.”—“ This is too much,” exclaimed the General; and calling in his hussars, he arrested the representatives of the Con
vention, and delivered them as hostages to the Austri1 Lac. ii.57. an General. Mig. i. 257.
The die being now cast, Dumourier prepared to
follow 311, 312
his design of establishing a Constitutional Th. iv.118, monarchy. Public opinion, in his army, was strongly He resolves divided; the corps attached to his person, were ready
to go all lengths in his support; those of an opposite Monarchy. tendency, regarded him as a traitor; the majority, as
in all civil convulsions, were indifferent, and ready to side with the victorious party. But the General wanted the firm hand requisite to guide a revolution
ary movement, and the feelings of the most energetic His failure of his soldiers were hostile to his designs. He set
out for Condé, with the intention of delivering it to the Austrians, according to agreement, as a pledge of his sincerity ; but having encountered a body of troops, adverse to his designs, he was compelled to take to flight, and only escaped by abandoning his horse, which refused to leap a ditch. With heroic courage, he endeavoured, the following day, with an escort of Austrian hussars, to regain his camp; but the sight of the foreign uniforms roused the patriotic feelings of the French soldiers ; the artillery first abandoned his cause, and, soon after, their example was followed by the whole infantry. Dumourier, with difficulty, regained the Austrian lines, where fifteen hundred followers only joined his standard. The re
1 Toul. iii.
mainder of the army collected in an intrenched camp CHAP. IX. at Famars, where, shortly after, General Dampierre,
1793. by authority of the Convention, assumed the command. 1
313, 316. The failure of this, as of every other unsuccessful 320. conspiracy, added to the strength of the ruling party Lac. ii
Mig. in the French capital. Terror, often greatest when 62 the danger is past, prepared the people to take the 126. most desperate measures for the public safety; the Contests bedefection of Dumourier to the Austrians, gave the Girondists violent revolutionists the immense advantage of re-bins. presenting their adversaries as, in reality, enemies to the cause of France. During the first fervour of the alarm, the Jacobins denounced their old enemies, the Girondists, as the authors of all the public calamities, and actually fixed the 10th March for a general attack upon the leaders of that party in the bosom of the Convention. The Assembly had declared its sittings permanent, on account of the public dangers ; and, on the evening of the 9th, it was determined, at the Club of the Jacobins, and the Cordeliers, on the following day, to close the barriers, to sound the tocsin, and march in two columns with the forces of the Fauxbourgs upon the Convention. At the appointed hour, the leaders of the insurrection repaired to their posts; but the Girondists, informed of their danger, abstained from joining the Assembly at the dangerous period; the Sections and National Guard hesitated to join the insurgents ; Bournonville, minister of war, marched against the Fauxbourgs at the head of a faithful battalion of troops from Brest, and a heavy rain cooled the revolutionary ardour of the multitude. Petion, looking at the watery sky, exclaimed, “ It will come to nothing; there will be no insurrection to night.” The plot failed, and its failure
Lac. ii. 62. 65.
ment of the
ary Tribu. nal, 9th March.
CHAP 1x. postponed, for a few weeks, the commencement of
the Reign of Terror. By such slender means was 1793.
it possible, at that period, to arrest the disorders of
the Revolution; and on such casual incidents did the 1 Mig.1.251. most momentous changes depend.'
Danton and the Jacobins made an immediate use Th. iv. 76. of the agitation produced by these events, to urge Establish- the establishment of a REVOLUTIONARY TRIBUNAL, Revolution." in order to defend from internal enemies the rela
tions of those who were combating foreign aggression on the frontiers." The Girondists exerted themselves to the utmost to resist this institution, as arbitrary as it threatened to be formidable. But their efforts were in vain; the public mind, violently shaken by the dread of domestic treason, was inaccessible to the apprehension of sanguinary rule. All that they could effect was in the end to introduce juries into the new court, and to moderate, to a certain degree, the vio
lence of its proceedings, until the fatal insurrection 2 Mig. i. 248. which subjected themselves to its terrors.
At the same time, another decree was passed, which imposed upon all proprietors an extraordinary wartax; a third, which organized forty-one commissions, of two members each, to go down to the departments, armed with full powers to enforce the recruiting, disarm the refractory, seize all the horses destined for the purposes of luxury: in a word, exert the most despotic authority. These commissioners generally exercised their powers with the utmost rigour; and being armed with irresistible authority, and supported by the whole revolutionary party, laid the foun
dations of that iron net in which France was enve3 Ibid. iv. 66. loped during the Reign of Terror.3
The conspirators, astonished at the absence of the Girondists during the critical period, broke out into
the loudest invectives against them for their defection. Chap. IX. They were constantly at their posts,” they exclaim
1793. ed, " when the object was to save Louis Capet; but
Abortive they hid themselves when the country was at stake.
conspiracy On the following day, all Paris resounded with the of the Jacofailure of the conspiracy; and Vergniaud, taking advantage of the general consternation, denounced in the Convention the Committee of Insurrection which had projected the massacre, and moved that the papers of the Clubs should be seized, and the members of the committee arrested. “We march,” he exclaimed, “ from crimes to amnesties, and from amnesties to crimes. The great body of citizens are so blinded by their frequent occurrence, that they confound these seditious disturbances with the grand national movement in favour of freedom, regard the violence of brigands as the efforts of energetic minds, and consider robbery itself as indispensable for public safety. You are free, say they; but unless you think like us, we will denounce you as victims to the vengeance of the people ; you are free, but unless you bow before the idol which we worship, we will deliver you up to their violence ; you are free, but unless you join us in persecuting those whose probity or talents we dread, we will abandon you to their fury, Citizens, there is too much reason to dread that the Revolution, like Saturn, will successively devour all its progeny, and
finally leave only despotism, with all the calamities which it produces.” These prophetic words produced some impression; but, as usual, the Assembly did nothing adequate to arrest the evils which they anticipated. Some of the conspirators were brought before the Revolutionary Tribunal, but
1 Mig. i. their trials led to nothing.
The Jacobins were for a moment disconcerted by Lac. ii 64.
War in La Vendée breaks out.
CHAP. IX. the failure of this conspiracy, but the war in La
Vendée, which broke out about this period, and rapid1793.
ly made the most alarming progress, soon reinvested them with their former ascendency over the populace. The peculiar circumstances of this district, its simple manners, patriarchal habits, remote situation, and resident proprietors, rendered it the natural centre of the Royalist spirit, which the execution of Louis had roused to the highest degree throughout all France. The nobles and clergy not having emigrated from its provinces, were there in sufficient force to counterbalance the influence of the towns, and raise the standard of revolt. The two most powerful passions of the human mind, religious fanaticism and popular ambition, were rapidly brought into collision; a war of extermination was the result, and a million
of Frenchmen perished in the strife of the factions Lac. ii. 63, contending for their dominion." Mig. i. 252,
Assailed by so many foreign and domestic dangers,
the Convention adopted the most energetic measures, Vigorous and the Jacobins resorted to their usual means to the Conven- agitate and sway the public mind. The powers of tio..
the Revolutionary Tribunal were augmented; instead of proceeding on a decree of the Convention, as the warrant for judging of an accused person, it was empowered to accuse and judge at the same time. All the Sans Culottes were ordered to be armed with a pike and a fusil, at the expense of the opulent classes ; a forced loan was exacted from those persons possessed of any property, and revolutionary taxes levied in every department, according to the pleasure of the Revolutionary Commissioners. The Commune of Paris demanded the imposition of a maximum on the price of provisions, a demand certain of popularity with the lower orders, and the refusal of which in