[Front Matter]

        [Title Page]

      Thomas Carlyle


      Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881)


      Chronological Summary of the French Revolution

        Part I : the Bastille (May 10, 1774–October 5, 1789)

        Part II: the Constitution (January 1790–August 12, 1792.)

        Part III: the Guillotine (August 10, 1792–October 4, 1795.)

  Part I: The Bastille

    Book I: Death of Louis XV

      Chapter I: Louis the Well-beloved

      Chapter II: Realized Ideals

      Chapter III: Viaticum

      Chapter IV: Louis the Unforgotten

    Book II: The Paper Age

      Chapter I: Astraea Redux

      Chapter II: Petition in Hieroglyphs

      Chapter III: Questionable

      Chapter IV: Maurepas

      Chapter V: Astraea Redux Without Cash

      Chapter VI: Windbags

      Chapter VII: Contrat Social

      Chapter VIII: Printed Paper

    Book III: The Parlement of Paris

      Chapter I: Dishonoured Bills

      Chapter II: Controller Calonne

      Chapter III: The Notables

      Chapter IV: Loménie’s Edicts

      Chapter V: Loménie’s Thunderbolts

      Chapter VI: Loménie’s Plots

      Chapter VII: Internecine

      Chapter VIII: Loménie’s Death-Throes

      Chapter IX: Burial With Bonfire

    Book IV: States-General

      Chapter I: The Notables Again

      Chapter II: The Election

      Chapter III: Grown Electric

      Chapter IV: The Procession

    Book V: The Third Estate

      Chapter I: Inertia

      Chapter II: Mercury De Brézé

      Chapter III: Broglie the War-God

      Chapter IV: To Arms!

      Chapter V: Give Us Arms

      Chapter VI: Storm and Victory

      Chapter VII: Not a Revolt

      Chapter VIII: Conquering Your King

      Chapter IX: The Lanterne

    Book VI: Consolidation

      Chapter I: Make the Constitution

      Chapter II: The Constituent Assembly

      Chapter III: The General Overturn

      Chapter IV: In Queue

      Chapter V: The Fourth Estate

    Book VII: The Insurrection of Women

      Chapter I: Patrollotism

      Chapter II: O Richard, O My King

      Chapter III: Black Cockades

      Chapter IV: The Menads

      Chapter V: Usher Maillard

      Chapter VI: To Versailles

      Chapter VII: At Versailles

      Chapter VIII: The Equal Diet

      Chapter IX: Lafayette

      Chapter X: The Grand Entries

      Chapter XI: From Versailles

  Part II: The Constitution

    Book I: The Feast of Pikes

      Chapter I: In the Tuileries

      Chapter II: In the Salle De Manége

      Chapter III: The Muster

      Chapter IV: Journalism

      Chapter V: Clubbism

      Chapter VI: Je Le Jure

      Chapter VII: Prodigies

      Chapter VIII: Solemn League and Covenant

      Chapter IX: Symbolic

      Chapter X: Mankind

      Chapter XI: As in the Age of Gold

      Chapter XII: Sound and Smoke

    Book II: Nanci

      Chapter I: Bouillé

      Chapter II: Arrears and Aristocrats

      Chapter III: Bouillé at Metz

      Chapter IV: Arrears at Nanci

      Chapter V: Inspector Malseigne

      Chapter VI: Bouillé at Nanci

    Book III: The Tuileries

      Chapter I: Epimenides

      Chapter II: The Wakeful

      Chapter III: Sword in Hand

      Chapter IV: To Fly or Not to Fly

      Chapter V: The Day of Poniards

      Chapter VI: Mirabeau

      Chapter VII: Death of Mirabeau

    Book IV: Varennes

      Chapter I: Easter at Saint-Cloud

      Chapter II: Easter at Paris

      Chapter III: Count Fersen

      Chapter IV: Attitude

      Chapter V: The New Berline

      Chapter VI: Old-Dragoon Drouet

      Chapter VII: The Night of Spurs

      Chapter VIII: The Return

      Chapter IX: Sharp Shot

    Book V: Parliament First

      Chapter I: Grande Acceptation

      Chapter II

      Chapter III: Avignon

      Chapter IV: No Sugar

      Chapter V: Kings and Emigrants

      Chapter VI: Brigands and Jalès

      Chapter VII: Constitution Will Not March

      Chapter VIII: The Jacobins

      Chapter IX: Minister Roland

      Chapter X: Pétion-National-Pique

      Chapter XI: The Hereditary Representative

      Chapter XII: Procession of the Black Breeches

    Book VI: The Marseillese

      Chapter I: Executive That Does Not Act

      Chapter II: Let Us March

      Chapter III: Some Consolation to Mankind

      Chapter IV: Subterranean

      Chapter V: At Dinner

      Chapter VI: The Steeples at Midnight

      Chapter VII: The Swiss

      Chapter VIII: Constitution Burst in Pieces

  Part III: The Guillotine

    Book I: September

      Chapter I: The Improvised Commune

      Chapter II: Danton

      Chapter III: Dumouriez

      Chapter IV: September in Paris

      Chapter V: A Trilogy

      Chapter VI: The Circular

      Chapter VII: September in Argonne

      Chapter VIII: Exeunt

    Book II: Regicide

      Chapter I: The Deliberative

      Chapter II: The Executive

      Chapter III: Discrowned

      Chapter IV: The Loser Pays

      Chapter V: Stretching of Formulas

      Chapter VI: At the Bar

      Chapter VII: The Three Votings

      Chapter VIII: Place De La Révolution

    Book III: The Girondins

      Chapter I: Cause and Effect

      Chapter II: Culottic and Sansculottic

      Chapter III: Growing Shrill

      Chapter IV: Fatherland in Danger

      Chapter V: Sansculottism Accoutred

      Chapter VI: The Traitor

      Chapter VII: In Fight

      Chapter VIII: In Death-Grips

      Chapter IX: Extinct

    Book IV: Terror

      Chapter I: Charlotte Corday

      Chapter II: In Civil War

      Chapter III: Retreat of the Eleven

      Chapter IV: O Nature

      Chapter V: Sword of Sharpness

      Chapter VI: Risen Against Tyrants

      Chapter VII: Marie-Antoinette

      Chapter VIII: The Twenty-Two

    Book V: Terror the Order of the Day

      Chapter I: Rushing Down

      Chapter II: Death

      Chapter III: Destruction

      Chapter IV: Carmagnole Complete

      Chapter V: Like a Thunder-Cloud

      Chapter VI: Do Thy Duty

      Chapter VII: Flame-Picture

    Book VI: Thermidor

      Chapter I: The Gods Are Athirst

      Chapter II: Danton, No Weakness

      Chapter III: The Tumbrils

      Chapter IV: Mumbo-Jumbo

      Chapter V: The Prisons

      Chapter VI: To Finish the Terror

      Chapter VII: Go Down to

    Book VII: Vendećmiaire

      Chapter I: Decadent

      Chapter II: La Cabarus

      Chapter III: Quiberon

      Chapter IV: Lion Not Dead

      Chapter V: Lion Sprawling Its Last

      Chapter VI: Grilled Herrings

      Chapter VII: The Whiff of Grapeshot

      Chapter VIII: Finis

    [Back Matter]

      The Modern Library Editorial Board


[Front Matter]

[Title Page]

Thomas Carlyle

Thomas Carlyle was born on December 4, 1795, in Ecclefechan, Scotland, into a strict and pious Calvinist family. After attending Annan Academy (1806–09) and Edinburgh University (1809–14; he left without taking a degree), he began a career as writer and critic, initially working as a translator and reviewer. His first book began as a biographical essay commissioned by London Magazine, evolving into a full-length biography, The Life of Friedrich Schiller (1825).

Carlyle was introduced to London literary circles on a visit in 1824; he later became close friends with J. S. Mill, John Sterling, and many others. With a strong interest in German literature, biography, and history, he began contributing regularly to the Edinburgh Review and other publications. In the early 1830s, Frazier’s magazine published in installments a novel, Sartor Resartus, which, while received harshly at the time, is now regarded by many as a highly innovative masterpiece. In 1834 Carlyle began work on The French Revolution, which would take him three years to complete. The story of its completion is legendary: while left in the care of J. S. Mill, Carlyle’s complete manuscript was mistaken for trash and burned. It was said that Carlyle then rewrote the entire manuscript from memory. The French Revolution was Carlyle’s first broad popular and critical success.

Carlyle’s literary output was prodigious, and his influence upon his contemporaries is hard to overstate; at the height of his powers he was probably the most influential literary figure in Victorian letters. Other major works include On Heroes, Hero-Worship and The Heroic in History, which originated as a series of lectures in 1840; Latter-Day Pamphlets (1850), a work highly critical of democracy, and also unsympathetically received by critics; The Life of John Sterling (1851); and the monumental History of Friedrich II of Prussia, called Frederick the Great (published in six volumes, 1858–65).

Speaking of his influence, George Eliot wrote, “It is an idle question to ask whether his books will be read a century hence; if they were all burnt ... on his funeral pile, it would be only like cutting down an oak after its acorns have sown a forest. For there is hardly a superior and active mind of this generation that has not been modified by Carlyle’s writing.” He died on February 5, 1881, and his reputation thereafter went into a steep decline. In the years since, his writings have continued to suffer neglect, though in recent decades there have been signs of renewed interest. As one recent biographer, Simon Heffer, noted in 1992, “No one from his time cries out for rediscovery and reappraisal as urgently as he does.”


John D. Rosenberg

The archetypal Victorian, Thomas Carlyle was born in the same year (1795) as the Romantic Keats. Yet in the course of his long life, England changed radically under the twin pressures of two revolutions, the French and the Industrial. The first inspired Carlyle’s The French Revolution (1837), the second, his great outcry against the barbarism of laissez-faire capitalism, Past and Present (1843). By the end of his long life, England had undergone a political and cultural sea change. In the year before his death in 1882, Oscar Wilde published his Poems and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience opened on the London stage. Yeats and Kipling were in print before the end of the 1880s. Long estranged from his earlier radicalism, Carlyle lived out his last solitary decade in a kind of posthumous silence, “a spectre moving in a world of spectres.” The world had changed; Carlyle had not.

Yet in the third quarter of the nineteenth century, Carlyle was the most widely influential voice in the English-speaking world. Those he profoundly touched constitute a roster of eminent Victorians, English and American: the young John Stuart Mill, Ruskin, Dickens, Emerson, Whitman, Melville, Tennyson, Browning, Arnold, Meredith. All in one way or another discovered themselves in discovering Carlyle. Dickens dedicated Hard Times to Carlyle, and across the channel En-gels paid him fervent tribute in a review of Past and Present. George Eliot wrote that for the leading minds of her generation the reading of Carlyle “was an epoch in the history of their minds.” And after the news of Carlyle’s death reached Whitman, he remarked that trying to imagine the larger culture of the past half-century without Carlyle would be like trying to imagine an army with the artillery left out.

Yet today, Carlyle is rarely read by nonspecialists and only occasionally appears on reading lists within the academy. The causes are many, not least of which is that Carlyle is one of the most allusive and innovative of English prose writers, a kind of proto-Joyce in his incessant verbal coinages,[1] conflation of ancient myth and modern actuality, his labyrinthine narrative strategies and gift for impersonation. It is impossible to “speed-read” Carlyle, any more than Milton, whose Paradise Lost figures on virtually every page of The French Revolution, as do Homer and the Bible. If he is now half-forgotten, his is not the case of a once-inflated popular reputation expiring into decent oblivion, but of meteoric genius now in partial eclipse. Nowhere is that genius on more dazzling display than in The French Revolution, at last available to American readers, complete and moderately priced, in the present Modern Library edition.

No creation of Carlyle’s is more striking than his self-creation as a poet-prophet in the years immediately preceding the composition of The French Revolution. In 1826, he married the brilliant Jane Baillie Welsh, who, in choosing Carlyle, made a kind of Faustian bargain, selling not her soul but her happiness by wedding genius in the person of her difficult, dyspeptic, possibly impotent, and self-absorbed husband. In 1828, they moved to virtual seclusion on a farm amidst the desolate Scottish moors at Craigenputtock. For the following six years, Carlyle searched to find his true vocation. He published anonymously a remarkable series of essays surveying the whole of contemporary English culture. Emerson read them in America, recognized a new mind of the first magnitude, and journeyed all the way to Craigenputtock to greet their author. During these years he created one of the strangest, most innovative books in English, the quasi-autobiographical Sartor Resartus (1833–34). In Sartor he became adept at impersonating “many voices,” and, most memorably, he anatomizes the revolution in individual consciousness that results in conversion, as he was soon to explore conversion writ large as revolution across the nation of France. But he had yet to find a subject large enough to contain his ambition as a writer or a style appropriate to his subject. He began to groom himself for the role of latter-day prophet, a kind of ironic John the Baptist in an age that worshipped the machine. “I have some thoughts of beginning to prophecy [ sic] ... that seems the best style, could one strike into it rightly,” he wrote in 1829 to the editor of Blackwood’s Magazine. His new friend John Stuart Mill sent him a library of books on the French Revolution, and in a letter of 1833 acknowledging the gift, Carlyle announces that the “right History” of the Revolution would be the “grand Poem of our Time.... [The] man who could write the truth of that, were worth all other writers and singers.” The French Revolution is just that, one of the grand poems of his century, yet its poetry consists in being everywhere scrupulously rooted in historical fact. But the letter most revealing of Carlyle’s self-consecration as poet-prophet-historian is his first to Emerson: “I am busy constantly studying with my whole might for a Book on the French Revolution. It is part of my creed that the only Poetry is History, could we tell it right.” To tell it right means, first, transcending the linear, time-bound limits of narrative so that, for example, when Carlyle depicts the storming of the Bastille in a roar of voices, his reader also hears the crashing of the towers of Troy and the fall of the walls of Jericho. “Narrative is linear, Action is solid,” Carlyle had written in “On History” (1830). How then can a writer render in lines on a page a world in upheaval in which all events are contiguous with all other events, “prior or contemporaneous,” and events themselves are highly problematic, a world in which everything, as Carlyle delights in pointing out, is “optique,” depends upon the angle of vision of countless beholders? The solution is to create through a montage of words on a page a world of historical actuality in which no event occurs in isolation from any other and all are rendered in their rounded fullness.

I pause a moment longer over the oddity of Carlyle’s use of the word tell. Storytellers tell tales but we expect historiographers to write history. To tell it in Carlyle’s sense implies a concept of history we have virtually lost but that lies at the heart of his vocation—history as utterance, as song or revelation, as in telling a secret, or in the joyous proclamation, “Go, Tell it on the Mountain.” History in this ancient sense is not narration but prophecy. It is not data but speech—the sung speech of a poet.

On at last beginning the book, Carlyle wrote to his brother John that he was composing “quite an epic Poem on the Revolution: an Apotheosis of Sansculottism.”[2] Robert Lowell, it seems, agreed with Carlyle’s description. In a gnomic essay on Homer and Virgil, Dante and Milton, drafted shortly before his death, Lowell wondered if there are any epics in prose: “I know one, Carlyle’s French Revolution.” Carlyle had prepared to write his revolutionary epic with all the awesome deliberateness and self-consecration that Milton brought to the writing of Paradise Lost, Wordsworth to The Prelude, or Joyce to Ulysses.

Magnitude of scale combined with minuteness of realization mark the defining quality that energizes all epic. For epic is not confined to any particular form or literary period. Rather, it embodies the dominant impulse of the literary imagination in any age—from Gilgamesh to Derek Walcott’s Omeros —by which the panoramic and the particular, the cosmic and the local, the mythic and the historic, are held in most fruitful tension. Epic is the great colonizer of all other genres. A prime sign of the burst of literary creativity in the nineteenth century is that the epic impulse manifested itself in so many different genres— primarily in the novel (the “home epic” of Middlemarch, for example)— but also in autobiography (The Prelude), in history (The French Revolution; The Stones of Venice), in Henry Mayhew’s teeming sociological panorama (London Labour and the London Poor), to say nothing of the great American and Continental epics, historical and fictional, of Prescott and Michelet, of Melville, Tolstoy, and Balzac.

With all the skill of a modern documentary journalist, Carlyle writes The French Revolution as if he were a witness-survivor of the Apocalypse. But in the modern world the gods have gone underground, God Himself is in apparent hiding, and the Apocalypse has relocated itself in historical time. Much of the power of The French Revolution lies in the shock of its transpositions, the explosive inter-penetration of modern fact and ancient myth, of journalism and Scripture. And so Carlyle invents a mixed style, a unique “ludicro-terric” idiom that is by turns prophetic and ironic, epic and mock-epic, and that interweaves the language of Homer and the Bible with the abrupt argot of the Parisian barricades.

The hero of Carlyle’s latter-day epic is the demonic Sansculottes: “The ‘destructive wrath’ of Sansculottism: this is what we speak, having unhappily no voice for singing.” Tucked within the modest disclaimer is the traditional boast of the epic poet—Carlyle’s tacit comparison of himself to Homer—and the further suggestion that in a post-heroic age speech (prose) is a more persuasive medium than song (poetry). Hence in The French Revolution Carlyle writes, or rather speaks—for history is at bottom a “telling”—a kind of inspired vernacular poetry that is closer to Homer and Milton than to the prose of Gibbon or Macaulay. John Stuart Mill said as much at the start of his review of The French Revolution, a review perhaps written in partial recompense for his having been inadvertently responsible for the burning of the sole manuscript of Carlyle’s first volume:[3]

This is not so much a history, as an epic poem; and notwithstanding, or even in consequence of this, the truest of histories. It is the history of the French Revolution, and the poetry of it, both in one; and on the whole no work of greater genius, either historical or poetical, has been produced in this country for many years.

Carlyle’s analysis of the causes of the Revolution is starkly simple: “For ourselves ... [the] French Revolution means ... the open violent Rebellion, and Victory, of disimprisoned Anarchy against corrupt worn-out Authority.” Anarchy bursts its prison, rises from the “infinite Deep,” rages, and finally consumes itself in the Reign of Terror. The huge, stalking capitalizations that loom at the reader from Carlyle’s pages—Rebellion, Anarchy, infinite Deep—are the metaphoric equivalent of the Greek Furies or of the Old Testament God who shakes Israel’s oppressors from their thrones. The disimprisoned Anarchy that destroys ancient Authority is both psychological and political; within the psyche, it represents the unleashing of all unconscious drives.[4] In the nation, it is the overturning of ancient Authority by the Sansculottes. Anarchy is enthroned throughout Part III of The French Revolution, “The Guillotine,” a descent into a Dantesque underworld, a “Black precipitous Abyss” presided over by Carlyle’s mock-heroic Satan, the infernal cellar-dweller Marat. Classical Underworld, Christian Hell, and the naked psyche regressed back to Cannibalism—these are the three types under which Carlyle comprehends the Reign of Terror. This incarnate anarchy is always present in man, therefore always immanent in history. In certain epochs (the Ancien Régime) it is pent up; in others, it bursts forth, is disimprisoned, until it devours itself in its own flames. On the single most appalling page of The French Revolution, Carlyle asks an appalling question. He is at the human tannery at Meudon, where the flayed skins of the newly guillotined were reportedly dressed into leather and sold. “At Meudon,” Carlyle writes, citing Montgaillard,

there was a Tannery of Human Skins; such of the Guillotined as seemed worth flaying: of which perfectly good wash-leather was made; for breeches, and other uses. The skin of the men, he remarks, was superior in toughness (consistance) and quality to shamoy; that of the women was good for almost nothing, being so soft in texture!— History looking back over Cannibalism ... will perhaps find no terrestrial Cannibalism of a sort, on the whole, so detestable. It is a manufactured, soft-feeling, quietly elegant sort; a sort perfide! Alas, then, is man’s civilisation only a wrappage, through which the savage nature of him can still burst, infernal as ever?

Much earlier in The French Revolution Carlyle had written that society rests on the primitive political fact “that I can devour Thee.” Imagery of gorging and disgorging is so prevalent as to suggest that, for Carlyle, revolution is the politics of aggression by ingestion. This darkly tragic view of the human condition inevitably makes Carlyle a mocker of the Enlightenment. True to its Enlightenment origins, the Revolution enthroned Reason; but it also unleashed the Furies; it worshipped Liberty, yet institutionalized Terror as an instrument of state policy; it proclaimed Brotherhood, but, in the words of a Gironist orator about to be beheaded, the Revolution, like Saturn, devoured its children. Carlyle found much irony—but no contradiction—in the fact that the Festival of Reason was celebrated on the eve of the worst atrocities of the Revolution, the mass shootings at Lyon and the mass drownings at Nantes. How could the sons of the Enlightenment have fathered such a state? Because they were sons of the Enlightenment, Carlyle grimly replies. Atrocity is the bloody underbelly of the Social Contract, darkness the underside of the Enlightenment, the wages of believing we are creatures of pure reason and benevolence. No, says Carlyle, we have reason and still inhabit the cave; we love our brother, and also flay and eat him. The heraldic emblem of The French Revolution is the Great Beast of the Apocalypse in Sansculottish dress. Primitive, vital, cathartic, he is a beast who destroys and cleanses, who fathers both violence and renewal—a “ludicro-terrific” beast, as all demons must be in the Age of Reason. Hence the narrative of The French Revolution is simultaneously epic and mock-epic, tragic, ironic, comic. The Great Beast of the Revolution can be as comically incongruous as Robespierre, dressed in a kind of Revolutionary drag, presiding over the absurd Feast of Reason; and he can be as tragic as the same Robespierre, mutilated[5] and shrieking, at the foot of the guillotine:

All eyes are on Robespierre’s Tumbril, where he, his jaw bound in dirty linen, with his half-dead Brother and half-dead Henriot, lie shattered; their “seventeen hours” of agony about to end. The Gendarmes point their swords at him, to show the people which is he. A woman springs on the Tumbril; clutching the side of it with one hand, waving the other Sibyl-like; and exclaims: “The death of thee gladdens my very heart, m’enivre de joie”; Robespierre opened his eyes; “Scélérat, go down to Hell, with the curses of all wives and mothers!”—At the foot of the scaffold, they stretched him on the ground till his turn came. Lifted aloft, his eyes again opened; caught the bloody axe. Samson [the Executioner] wrenched the coat off him; wrenched the dirty linen from his jaw: the jaw fell powerless, there burst from him a cry;—hideous to hear and see. Samson, thou canst not be too quick!

The whole gathered power of The French Revolution compresses to a single point in that shriek of Robespierre. The Revolution had begun in words: first, the words of the philosophes, then a buzzing in the streets of Paris that rose to a roar and shattered the Bastille. Robespierre had become the articulate intelligence of revolutionary France, its “Chief Priest and Speaker.” Speech had been fine-tuned into slogan and decree and epigram—“The Revolution, like Saturn, is devouring its own children”; even the phlegmatic Louis XVI arrived at the scaffold prepared to speak his final piece, until Samson cut him short. But in this last act of Carlyle’s drama, death lapses into pure savagery, the Revolution cannibalizes itself, and speech degenerates into an aboriginal scream. The thin skin of civilization—a mere “wrappage” Carlyle had called it at Meudon—is ripped from Robespierre’s jaw, a gesture of gratuitous malice, for the blood-soaked bandage could not have resisted the falling blade. The cries of the self-blinded Oedipus, the howls of Lear, are not more chilling than the shriek of Robespierre.

Carlyle had called the beheading of Robespierre the last act of a “natural Greek drama.” The ancient Greeks followed the performance of their tragedies with a brief, comic satyr play. The short closing book of The French Revolution is Carlyle’s updating of a satyr play. The Sansculottes, formerly depicted as avenging Furies, are transmuted into Dandies, Jeunesse Dorée, gilded youth dancing in the streets with women in Greek costume in celebration of the end of the Reign of Terror. With the French armies everywhere victorious across Europe and Napoleon moving to center stage, having hijacked the Revolution to serve his own imperial ends, Carlyle brings his epic to a close. The old metaphors return, but now stood on their heads. Young women dressed as Minervas and Junos appear at costume balls in sheer tunics that barely conceal their “flesh-coloured drawers.” The new decadence of feigned nudity supplants the old Sansculottism of naked power. But through the flesh-colored drawers peep the human skins at Meudon and the obscenely mutilated body of the Princesse de Lamballe, hacked to pieces some two hundred pages earlier “with indignities, and obscene horrors of moustachio grands-lèvres.” One incident in Carlyle’s satyr play signals the movement from high drama to farce. A band of carousing Jeunesse Dorée in plaited hair tresses drags the remains of the martyred Marat from the Pantheon and dumps them in the cesspool of Montmartre, “grand Cloaca” of Paris and the World: “Shorter godhead had no living man.” This apotheosis-in-reverse nicely illustrates, in advance, Marx’s aphorism on history repeating itself—first as tragedy, then as farce. Carlyle’s great flaming meteor of a book ends not with an apocalyptic bang but with titters of decadent laughter echoing through the freshly gilded salons of Paris.

JOHN D. ROSENBERG is the William Peterfield Trent Professor of English at Columbia University, where he teaches Victorian literature and has chaired the undergraduate program in literature humanities. He is the author of The Darkening Glass: A Portrait of Ruskin’s Genius, The Fall of Camelot: A Study of Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King,” and Carlyle and the Burden of History.


Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881)

A Note on the Author of “The French Revolution”

The legend of Thomas Carlyle as a truculent husband and a misanthropic genius is a persistent historic libel which is gradually being revised to do justice to the qualities of his mind and character. His ghastly experience with the manuscript of The French Revolution was in itself enough to embitter his outlook on life. Having finished the first volume of his work, he entrusted the only copy of the manuscript to J. S. Mill for comment and annotation. By an accident, it was burned. Carlyle thereupon set to work and rewrote the entire history, achieving what he described as a book that came “direct and flamingly from the heart.” The world has since concurred in this estimate of The French Revolution.


Essay on Goethe’s “Faust” (1822) Goethe’s “Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship” (Translation) (1824) The Life of Friedrich Schiller (1825) Sartor Resartus (1833) The French Revolution (1837) Chartism (1839) On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History (1841) Past and Present (1843) Oliver Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches (1845) Latter-day Pamphlets (1850) Life of Sterling (1851) History of Friedrich the Second, Called Frederick the Great (1858–1865) Life of Robert Burns (1859) The Early Kings of Norway (1875) Reminiscences (1881) Letters and Memorials (1883)

Chronological Summary of the French Revolution

[Drawn up by “Philo,” for Edition 1857]

Part I : the Bastille (May 10, 1774–October 5, 1789)


Louis XV dies, at Versailles, May 10, 1774, of smallpox, after a short illness: Great-grandson of Louis XIV; age then 64; in the 59th year of his nominal “reign.” Retrospect to 1774: sad decay of “Realized Ideals,” secular and sacred. Scenes about Louis XV’s deathbed, Scene of the Noblesse entering, “with a noise like thunder,” to do homage to the New King and Queen. New King, Louis XVI, was his Predecessor’s Grandson; age then near 20,—born August 23, 1754. New Queen was Marie-Antoinette, Daughter (8th daughter, 12th child) of the great Empress Maria-Theresa and her Emperor Francis (originally “Duke of Lorraine,” but with no territory there); her age at this time was under 19 (born November 2, 1755). Louis and she were wedded four years ago (May 16, 1770); but had as yet no children;—none till 1778, when their first was born; a Daughter known long afterwards as Duchess d’Angoulême. Two Sons followed, who were successively called “Dauphin”; but died both, the second in very miserable circumstances, while still in boyhood. Their fourth and last child, a Daughter (1786), lived only 11 months. These two were now King and Queen, piously reckoning themselves “too young to reign.”

December 18, 1773, Tea, a celebrated cargo of it, had been flung out in the harbour of Boston, Massachusetts: June 7, 1775, Battle of Bunker Hill, first of the American War, is fought in the same neighbourhood,— far over seas.


Change of Administration. Maurepas, a man now 73 years old and of great levity, is appointed Prime-Minister; Vergennes favourably known for his correct habits, for his embassies in Turkey, in Sweden, gets the Department of Foreign Affairs. Old Parlement is reinstated; “Parlement Maupeou,” which had been invented for getting edicts, particularly tax-edicts, “registered,” and made available in law, is dismissed. Turgot, made Controller-General of Finances (“Chancellor of the Exchequer” and something more), August 24, 1774, gives rise to high hopes, being already known as a man of much intelligence speculative and practical, of noble patriotic intentions, and of a probity beyond question.

There are many changes; but one steady fact, of supreme significance, continued Deficit of Revenue,—that is the only History of the Period. Noblesse and Clergy are exempt from direct imposts; no tax that can be devised, on such principle, will yield due ways and means. Meanings of that fact; little surmised by the then populations of France. Turgot aiming at juster principles, cannot: “Corn-trade” (domestic) “made free,” and many improvements and high intentions;— much discontent at Court in consequence; famine-riots withal, and “gallows forty feet high.” Turgot will tax Noblesse and Clergy like the other ranks; tempest of astonishment and indignation in consequence; Turgot dismissed, May 1776. Flat snuff-boxes come out, this summer, under the name of Turgotines, as being “platitudes” (in the notion of a fashionable snuffing public), like the Plans of this Controller. Necker, a Genevese become rich by Banking in Paris, and well seen by the Philosophe party, is appointed Controller in his stead (1776);—and there is continued Deficit of Revenue.

For the rest, Benevolence, Tolerance, Doctrine of universal Love and Charity to good and bad. Scepticism, Philosophism, Sensualism portentous “Electuary,” of sweet taste, into which “Good and Evil,” the distinctions of them lost, have been mashed up. Jean-Jacques, Contrat-Social: universal Millennium, of Liberty, Brotherhood, and whatever is desirable, expected to be rapidly approaching on those terms. Balloons, Horse-races, Anglomania. Continued Deficit of Revenue. Necker’s plans for “filling up the Deficit” are not approved of, and are only partially gone into: Frugality is of slow operation; curtailment of expenses occasions numerous dismissals, numerous discontents at Court: from Noblesse and Clergy, if their privilege of exemption be touched, what is to be hoped?

American-English War (since April 1775); Franklin, and Agents of the Revolted Colonies, at Paris (1776 and afterwards), where their Cause is in high favour. Treaty with Revolted Colonies, February 6, 1778; extensive Official smugglings of supplies to them (in which Beaumarchais is much concerned) for some time before. Departure of French “volunteer” Auxiliaries, under Lafayette, 1778. “Volunteers” these, not sanctioned, only countenanced and furthered, the public clamour being strong that way. War from England, in consequence; Rochambeau to America, with public Auxiliaries, in 1780:—War not notable, except by the siege of Gibraltar, and by the general result arrived at shortly after.

Continued Deficit of Revenue: Necker’s ulterior plans still less approved of; by Noblesse and Clergy, least of all. January 1781, he publishes a Compte Rendu (“Account Rendered,” of himself and them). “Two hundred thousand copies of it sold”;—and is dismissed in the May following. Returns to Switzerland; and there writes New Books, on the same interesting subject or pair of subjects. Maurepas dies, November 21, 1781: the essential “Prime-Minister” is henceforth the Controller-General, if any such could be found; there being an ever-increasing Deficit of Revenue,—a Millennium thought to be just coming on, and evidently no money in its pocket.

Siege of Gibraltar (September 13, to middle of November, 1782): Siege futile on the part of France and Spain; hopeless since that day (September 13) of the red-hot balls. General result arrived at is important: American Independence recognized (Peace of Versailles, January 20, 1783). Lafayette returns in illustrious condition; named Scipio Americanus by some able-editors of the time.


Ever-increasing Deficit of Revenue. Worse, not better, since Necker’s dismissal. After one or two transient Controllers, who can do nothing, Calonne, a memorable one, is nominated, November, 1783. Who continues, with lavish expenditure raised by loans, contenting all the world by his liberality, “quenching fire by oil thrown on it”; for three years and more. “All the world was holding out its hand, I held out my hat.” Ominous scandalous Affair called the Diamond Necklace (Cardinal de Rohan, Dame de Lamotte, Arch-Quack Cagliostro the principal actors), tragically compromising the Queen’s name who had no vestige of concern with it, becomes public as Criminal-Trial, 1785; penal sentence on the above active parties and others, May 31, 1786: with immense rumour and conjecture from all mankind. Calonne, his borrowing resources being out, convokes the Notables (First Convocation of the Notables) February 22, 1787, to sanction his new Plans of Taxing; who will not hear of him or them: so that he is dismissed, and “exiled,” April 8, 1787. First Convocation of Notables,—who treat not of this thing only, but of all manner of public things, and mention States-General among others,—sat from February 22 to May 25, 1787.


Cardinal Loménie de Brienne, who had long been ambitious of the post, succeeds Calonne. A man now of sixty, dissolute, worthless;— devises Tax-Edicts, Stamp-tax (Edit du Timbre, July 6, 1787) and others, with “successive loans,” and the like; which the Parlement, greatly to the joy of the Public, will not register. Ominous condition of the Public, all virtually in opposition; Parlements, at Paris and elsewhere, have a cheap method of becoming glorious. Contests of Loménie and Parlement. Beds-of-Justice (first of them, August 6, 1787); Lettres-de-Cachet, and the like methods; general “Exile” of Parlement (August 15, 1787), who return upon conditions, September 20. Increasing ferment of the Public. Loménie helps himself by temporary shifts till he can, privately, get ready for wrestling down the rebellious Parlement.


Spring of 1788, grand scheme of dismissing the Parlement altogether, and nominating instead a “Plenary Court (Cour Plénière ),” which shall be obedient in “registering” and in other points. Scheme detected before quite ripe: Parlement in permanent session thereupon; haranguing all night (May 3); applausive idle crowds inundating the Outer Courts; D’Espréménil and Goeslard de Monsabert seized by military in the grey of the morning (May 4), and whirled off to distant places of imprisonment: Parlement itself dismissed to exile. Attempt to govern (that is, to raise supplies) by Royal Edict simply,—“Plenary Court” having expired in the birth. Rebellion of all the Provincial Parlements; idle Public more and more noisily approving and applauding. Destructive Hailstorm, July 13, which was remembered next year. Royal Edict ( August 8), That States-General, often vaguely promised before, shall actually assemble in May next. Proclamation (August 16), That “Treasury Payments be henceforth three-fifths in cash, two-fifths in paper,”—in other words, that the Treasury is fallen insolvent. Loménie thereupon immediately dismissed: with immense explosion of popular rejoicing, more riotous than usual. Necker, favourite of all the world, is immediately ( August 24) recalled from Switzerland to succeed him, and is hailed “Saviour of France.”


Second Convocation of the Notables (November 6– December 12), by Necker, for the purpose of settling how, in various essential particulars, the States-General shall be held. For instance, Are the Three Estates to meet as one Deliberative Body? Or as Three, or Two? Above all, what is to be the relative force, in deciding, of the Third Estate or Commonalty? Notables, as other less formal Assemblages had done and do, depart without settling any of the points in question; most points remain unsettled,—especially that of the Third Estate and its relative force. Elections begin everywhere January next. Troubles of France seem now to be about becoming Revolution in France. Commencement of the “French Revolution,”—henceforth a phenomenon absorbing all others for mankind,—is commonly dated here.

1789. MAY, JUNE.

Assembling of States-General at Versailles; Procession to the Church of St. Louis there, May 4. Third Estate has the Nation behind it; wishes to be a main element in the business. Hopes, and (led by Mirabeau and other able heads) decides, that it must be the main element of all,—and will continue “inert,” and do nothing, till that come about: namely, till the other Two Estates, Noblesse and Clergy, be joined with it; in which conjunct state it can outvote them, and may become what it wishes. “Inertia,” or the scheme of doing only harangues and adroit formalities, is adopted by it; adroitly persevered in, for seven weeks: much to the hope of France; to the alarm of Necker and the Court.

Court decides to intervene. Hall of Assembly is found shut ( Saturday, June 20); Third-Estate Deputies take Oath, celebrated “Oath of the Tennis-Court,” in that emergency. Emotion of French mankind Monday, June 22, Court does intervene, but with reverse effect: Séance Royale, Royal Speech, giving open intimation of much significance, “If you, Three Estates, cannot agree, I the King will myself achieve the happiness of my People.” Noblesse and Clergy leave the Hall along with King; Third Estate remains pondering this intimation. Enter Supreme-Usher de Brézé, to command departure; Mirabeau’s fulminant words to him: exit De Brézé, fruitless and worse, “amid seas of angry people.” All France on the edge of blazing out: Court recoils; Third Estate, other Two now joining it on order, triumphs, successful in every particular. The States-General are henceforth “National Assembly”; called in Books distinctively “Constituent Assembly”; that is, Assembly met “to make the Constitution,”—perfect Constitution, under which the French People might realize their Millennium.

1789. JUNE, JULY.

Great hope, great excitement, great suspicion. Court terrors and plans: old Maréchal Broglie,—this is the Broglie who was young in the Seven-Years War; son of a Marshal Broglie, and grandson of another, who much filled the newspapers in their time. Gardes Françaises at Paris need to be confined to their quarters; and cannot (June 26). Sunday, July 12, News that Necker is dismissed, and gone homewards overnight: panic terror of Paris, kindling into hot frenzy;—ends in besieging the Bastille; and in taking it, chiefly by infinite noise, the Gardes Françaises at length mutely assisting in the rear. Bastille falls, “like the City of Jericho, by sound,” Tuesday, July 14, 1789. Kind of “firebaptism” to the Revolution; which continues insuppressible thenceforth, and beyond hope of suppression. All France, as National Guards, to suppress Brigands and enemies to the making of the Constitution,” takes arms.


Scipio Americanus, Mayor Bailly and “Patrollotism versus Patriotism” (August, September). Hope, terror, suspicion, excitement, rising ever more, towards the transcendental pitch;—continued scarcity of grain. Progress towards Fifth of October, called here “Insurrection of Women.” Regiment de Flandre has come to Versailles (September 23); Officers have had a dinner (October 3), with much demonstration and gesticulative foolery, of an anti-constitutional and monarchic character. Paris, semi-delirious, hears of it (Sunday, October 4), with endless emotion;—next day, some “10,000 women” (men being under awe of “Patrollotism”) march upon Versailles; followed by endless miscellaneous multitudes, and finally by Lafayette and National Guards. Phenomena and procedure there. Result is, they bring the Royal Family and National Assembly home with them to Paris; Paris thereafter centre of the Revolution, and October Five a memorable day.


“First Emigration,” of certain higher Noblesse and Princes of the Blood; which more or less continues through the ensuing years, and at length on an altogether profuse scale. Much legal inquiring and procedure as to Philippe d’Orléans and his (imaginary) concern in this Fifth of October; who retires to England for a while, and is ill seen by the polite classes there.

Part II: the Constitution (January 1790–August 12, 1792.)


Constitution-building, and its difficulties and accompaniments. Clubs, Journalisms; advent of anarchic souls from every quarter of the world. February 4, King’s visit to Constituent Assembly; emotion thereupon and National Oath, which flies over France. Progress of swearing it, detailed. General “Federation,” or mutual Oath of all Frenchmen, otherwise called “Feast of Pikes” (July 14, Anniversary of Bastille-day), which also is a memorable Day. Its effects on the Military, in Lieutenant Napoleon Bonaparte’s experience.

General disorganization of the Army, and attempts to mend it. Affair of Nanci (catastrophe is August 31); called “Massacre of Nanci”; irritation thereupon. Mutineer Swiss sent to the Galleys; solemn Funeral-service for the Slain at Nanci (September 20), and riotous menaces and mobs in consequence. Steady progress of disorganization, of anarchy spiritual and practical. Mirabeau, desperate of Constitution-building under such accompaniments, has interviews with the Queen, and contemplates great things.


Death of Mirabeau (April 2): last chance of guiding or controlling this Revolution gone thereby. Royal Family, still hopeful to control it, means to get away from Paris as the first step. Suspected of such intention; visit to St. Cloud violently prevented by the Populace (April 19). Actual Flight to Varennes (June 20); and misventures there: return captive to Paris, in a frightfully worsened position, the fifth evening after (June 25): “Republic” mentioned in Placards, during King’s Flight; generally reprobated. Queen and Barnave. A Throne held up; as if “set on its vertex,” to be held there by hand. Should not this runaway King be deposed? Immense assemblage, petitioning at Altar of Fatherland to that effect (Sunday, July 17), is dispersed by musketry, from Lafayette and Mayor Bailly, with extensive shrieks following, and leaving remembrances of a very bitter kind.

1791. AUGUST.

Foreign Governments, who had long looked with disapproval on the French Revolution, now set about preparing for actual interference. Convention of Pilnitz (August 25–27): Emperor Leopold II, Friedrich Wilhelm II, King of Prussia, with certain less important Potentates, and Emigrant Princes of the Blood, assembling at this Pilnitz (Electoral Country-house near Dresden), express their sorrow and concern at the impossible posture of his now French Majesty, which they think calls upon regular Governments to interfere and mend it: they themselves, prepared at present to “resist French aggression” on their own territories, will co-operate with said Governments in “interfering by effectual methods.” This Document, of date August 27, 1791, rouses violent indignations in France; which blaze up higher and higher, and are not quenched for twenty-five years after. Constitution finished; accepted by the King (September 14); Constituent Assembly proclaims “in a sonorous voice” (September 30), that its Sessions are all ended;—and goes its way amid “illuminations.”


Legislative Assembly, elected according to the Constitution, the first and also the last Assembly of that character, meets October 1, 1791: sat till September 21, 1792; a Twelve-month all but nine days. More republican than its predecessor; inferior in talent; destitute, like it, of parliamentary experience. Its debates, futilities, staggering parliamentary procedure (Book V, cc. 1–3). Court “pretending to be dead,”—not “aiding the Constitution to march.” Sunday, October 16, L’Escuyer, at Avignon, murdered in a Church; Massacres in the Ice-Tower follow. Suspicions of their King, and of each other; anxieties about foreign attack, and whether they are in a right condition to meet it; painful questionings of Ministers, continual changes of Ministry,—occupy France and its Legislative with sad debates, growing ever more desperate and stormy in the coming months. Narbonne (Madame de Staël’s friend) made War-Minister, December 7; continues for nearly half a year; then Servan, who lasts three months; then Dumouriez, who, in that capacity, lasts only five days (had, with Roland as Home Minister, been otherwise in place for a year or more); mere “Ghosts of Ministries.”


Terror of rural France (February–March); Camp of Jalès; copious Emigration. February 7, Emperor Leopold and the King of Prussia, mending their Pilnitz offer, make public Treaty, That they specially will endeavour to keep down disturbances, and if attacked will assist one another. Sardinia, Naples, Spain, and even Russia and the Pope, understood to be in the rear of these two. April 20, French Assembly, after violent debates, decrees war against Emperor Leopold. This is the first Declaration of War; which the others followed, pro and contra, all around, like pieces of a great Firework blazing out now here now there. The Prussian Declaration, which followed first, some months after, is the immediately important one.

1792. JUNE.

In presence of these alarming phenomena, Government cannot act; will not, say the People. Clubs, Journalists, Sections (organized population of Paris) growing ever more violent and desperate. Issue forth (June 20) in vast Procession, the combined Sections and leaders, with banners, with demonstrations; marching through the streets of Paris, “To quicken the Executive,” and give it a fillip as to the time of day. Called “Procession of the Black Breeches” in this Book. Immense Procession, peaceable but dangerous; finds the Tuileries gates closed, and no access to his Majesty; squeezes, crushes, and is squeezed, crushed against the Tuileries gates and doors till they give way; and the admission to his Majesty, and the dialogue with him, and behaviour in his House, are of an utterly chaotic kind, dangerous and scandalous, though not otherwise than peaceable. Giving rise to much angry commentary in France and over Europe. June Twenty henceforth a memorable Day. General Lafayette suddenly appears in the Assembly; without leave, as is splenetically observed: makes fruitless attempts to reinstate authority in Paris (June 28); withdraws as an extinct popularity.

1792. JULY.

July 6, Reconciliatory Scene in the Assembly, derisively called Baiser L’amourette. “Third Federation,” July 14, being at hand,—could not the assembling “Federates” be united into some Nucleus of Force near Paris? Court answers, No; not without reason of its own. Barbaroux writes to Marseilles for “500 men that know how to die”; who accordingly get under way, though like to be too late for the Federation. Sunday, July 22, Solemn Proclamation that the “Country is in Danger.”

July 24, Prussian Declaration of War; and Duke of Brunswick’s celebrated Manifesto, threatening France “with military execution” if Royalty were meddled with: the latter bears date, Coblentz, July 27, 1792, in the name of both Emperor and King of Prussia. Duke of Brunswick commands in chief: Nephew (sister’s son) of Frederick the Great; and Father of our unlucky “Queen Caroline”: had served, very young, in the Seven Years War, under his Father’s Brother, Prince Ferdinand; often in command of detachments bigger or smaller; and had gained distinction by his swift marches, audacity and battle-spirit: never hitherto commanded any wide system of operations; nor ever again till 1806, when he suddenly encountered ruin and death at the very starting (Battle of Jena, October 14 of that year). This Proclamation, which awoke endless indignation in France and much criticism in the world elsewhere, is understood to have been prepared by other hands (French-Emigrants chiefly, who were along with him in force), and to have been signed by the Duke much against his will. “Insigne vengeance,” “military execution,” and other terms of overbearing menace: Prussian Army, and Austrians from Netherlands, are advancing in that humour. Marseillese, “who know how to die,” arrive in Paris (July 29); dinner-scene in the Champs Elysées.

1792. AUGUST.

Indignation waxing desperate at Paris: France, boiling with ability and will, tied up from defending itself by “an inactive Government” (fatally unable to act). Secret conclaves, consultations of Municipality and Clubs; Danton understood to be the presiding genius there. Legislative Assembly is itself plotting and participant; no other course for it. August 10, Universal Insurrection of the Armed Population of Paris; Tuileries forced, Swiss Guards cut to pieces. King, when once violence was imminent, and before any act of violence, had with Queen and Dauphin sought shelter in the Legislative-Assembly Hall. They continue there till August 13 (Friday-Monday), listening to the debates, in a reporter’s box. Are conducted thence to the Temple “as Hostages,”— do not get out again except to die. Legislative Assembly has its Decree ready, That in terms of the Constitution in such alarming crisis a National Convention (Parliament with absolute powers) shall be elected; Decree issued that same day, August 10, 1792. After which the Legislative only waits in existence till it be fulfilled.

Part III: the Guillotine (August 10, 1792–October 4, 1795.)


Legislative continues its sittings till Election be completed. Enemy advancing, with armed Emigrants, enter France, Luxembourg region; take Longwy, almost without resistance (August 23); prepare to take Verdun. Austrians besieging Thionville; cannot take it. Dumouriez seizes the Passes of Argonne, August 29. Great agitation in Paris. Sunday, September 2, and onwards till Thursday 6, September Massacres: described Book I, cc. 4–6. Prussians have taken Verdun, September 2 (Sunday, while the Massacres are beginning): except on the score of provisions and of weather, little or no hindrance. Dumouriez waiting in the Passes of Argonne. Prussians detained three weeks forcing these. Famine, and torrents of rain. Battle or Cannonade of Vamly (September 20): French do not fly, as expected. Convention meets, September 22, 1792; Legislative had sat till the day before, and now gives place to it: Republic decreed, same day. Austrians, renouncing Thionville, besiege Lille (September 28–October 8); cannot: “fashionable shaving-dish,” the splinter of a Lille bombshell. Prussians, drenched deep in mud, in dysentery and famine, are obliged to retreat: Goethe’s account of it. Total failure of that Brunswick Enterprise.


Revolutionary activities in Paris and over France; King shall be brought to “trial.” Trial of the King (Tuesday, December 11–Sunday 16). Three Votes (January 15–17, 1793): Sentence, Death without respite. Executed Monday, January 21, 1793, morning about 10 o’clock. English Ambassador quits Paris; French Ambassador ordered to quit England (January 24). War between the two countries imminent.


Dumouriez, in rear of the retreating Austrians, has seized the whole Austrian Netherlands, in a month or less (November 4–December 2 last); and now holds that territory. February 1, France declares War against England and Holland; England declares in return, February 11: Dumouriez immediately invades Holland; English, under Duke of York, go to the rescue: rather successful at first. Committee of Salut hence. June 1, Howe’s Sea-victory; and Fable of the Vengeur. General Jourdan: Battle of Fleurus, sore stroke against the Austrian Netherlands (June 26).

Conspiracy of Mountain against Robespierre: Tallien and others desirous not to be “eaten.” Last scenes of Robespierre: July 28 (10 Thermidor, Year 2), guillotined with his Consorts;—which, unexpectedly, ends the Reign of Terror. Victorious French Armies: enter Cologne, October 6; masters of Spanish bulwarks (Dugommier shot), October 17: Duke of York and Dutch Stadtholder in a ruinous condition. Reaction against Robespierre: “whole Nation a Committee of Mercy.” Jacobins Club assaulted by mob; shut up, November 10–12. Law of Maximum abolished, December 24. Duke of York gone home; Pichegru and 70,000 overrun Holland; frost so hard, “hussars can take ships.”


Stadtholder quits Holland, January 19; glad to get across to England. Spanish Cities “opening to the petard” (Rosas first, January 5, and rapidly thereafter, till almost Madrid come in view). Continued downfall of Sansculottism. Effervescence of luxury; La Cabarus; Greek Costumes; Jeunesse Dorée; balls in flesh-coloured drawers. Sansculottism rises twice in Insurrection; both times in vain. Insurrection of Germinal (“12 Germinal,” Year 3, April 1, 1795); ends by “two blank cannon-shot” from Pichegru.


Prussia makes Peace of Bâle (Basel), April 5; Spain, Peace of Bâle is three months later. Armies everywhere successful: Catalogue of Victories and Conquests hung up in the Convention Hall. Famine of the lower classes. Fouquier-Tinville guillotined (May 8). Insurrection of Prairial, the Second attempt of Sansculottism to recover power (“1 Prairial,” May 20); Deputy Féraud massacred:—issues in the Disarming and Finishing of Sansculottism. Emigrant Invasion, in English ships, lands at Quiberon, and is blown to pieces (July 15–20): La Vendée, which had before been three years in Revolt, is hereby kindled into a “Second” less important “Revolt of La Vendée,” which lasts some eight months. Reactionary “Companies of Jesus,” “Companies of the Sun,” assassinating Jacobins in the Rhone Countries (July–August ). New Constitution: Directory and Consuls,—Two-thirds of the Convention to be re-elected. Objections to that clause. Section Lepelletier, and miscellaneous Discontented, revolt against it: Insurrection of Vendémiaire, Last of the Insurrections (“13 Vendémiaire, Year 4,” October 5, 1795); quelled by Napoleon. On which “The Revolution as defined here, ends,—Anarchic Government, if still anarchic, proceeding by softer methods than that of continued insurrection.

Part I: The Bastille


Book I: Death of Louis XV

Chapter I: Louis the Well-beloved

President Hénault, remarking on royal Surnames of Honour how difficult it often is to ascertain not only why, but even when, they were conferred, takes occasion in his sleek official way to make a philosophical reflection. “The Surname of Bien-aimé (Well-beloved),” says he, “which Louis XV bears, will not leave posterity in the same doubt. This Prince, in the year 1744, while hastening from one end of his kingdom to the other, and suspending his conquests in Flanders that he might fly to the assistance of Alsace, was arrested at Metz by a malady which threatened to cut short his days. At the news of this, Paris, all in terror, seemed a city taken by storm: the churches resounded with supplications and groans; the prayers of priests and people were every moment interrupted by their sobs: and it was from an interest so dear and tender that this Surname of Bien-aimé fashioned itself,—a title higher still than all the rest which this great Prince has earned.”[6]

So stands it written; in lasting memorial of that year 1744. Thirty other years have come and gone; and “this great Prince” again lies sick; but in how altered circumstances now! Churches resound not with excessive groanings; Paris is stoically calm; sobs interrupt no prayers, for indeed none are offered; except Priests’ Litanies, read or chanted at fixed money-rate per hour, which are not liable to interruption. This shepherd of the people has been carried home from Little Trianon, heavy of heart, and been put to bed in his own Château of Versailles: the flock knows it, and heeds it not. At most, in the immeasurable tide of French Speech (which ceases not day after day, and only ebbs towards the short hours of night), may this of the royal sickness emerge from time to time as an article of news. Bets are doubtless depending; nay, some people “express themselves loudly in the streets.”[7] But for the rest, on green field and steepled city, the May sun shines out, the May evening fades; and men ply their useful or useless business as if no Louis lay in danger.

Dame Dubarry, indeed, might pray, if she had a talent for it; Duke d’Aiguillon too, Maupeou and the Parlement Maupeou: these, as they sit in their high places, with France harnessed under their feet, know well on what basis they continue there. Look to it, D’Aiguillon; sharply as thou didst, from the Mill of St. Cast, on Quiberon and the invading English; thou “covered if not with glory yet with meal!” Fortune was ever accounted inconstant: and each dog has but his day.

Forlorn enough languished Duke d’Aiguillon, some years ago; covered, as we said, with meal; nay with worse. For La Chalotais, the Breton Parlementeer, accused him not only of poltroonery and tyranny, but even concussion (official plunder of money); which accusations it was easier to get “quashed” by backstairs Influences than to get answered: neither could the thoughts, or even the tongues of men be tied. Thus, under disastrous eclipse, had this grand-nephew of the great Richelieu to glide about; unworshipped by the world; resolute Choiseul, the abrupt proud man, disdaining him, or even forgetting him. Little prospect but to glide into Gascony, to rebuild Châteaus there,[8]and die inglorious killing game! However, in the year 1770, a certain young soldier, Dumouriez by name, returning from Corsica, could see “with sorrow, at Compiègne, the old King of France, on foot, with doffed hat, in sight of his army, at the side of a magnificent phaeton, doing homage to the—Dubarry.”[9]

Much lay therein! Thereby, for one thing, could D’Aiguillon postpone the rebuilding of his Château, and rebuild his fortunes first. For stout Choiseul would discern in the Dubarry nothing but a wonderfully dizened Scarlet-woman; and go on his way as if she were not. Intolerable: the source of sighs, tears, of pettings and poutings; which would not end till “France” (La France, as she named her royal valet) finally mustered heart to see Choiseul; and with that “quivering in the chin” (tremblement du menton) natural in such case,[10] faltered out a dismissal: dismissal of his last substantial man, but pacification of his Scarlet-woman. Thus D’Aiguillon rose again, and culminated. And with him there rose Maupeou, the banisher of Parlements; who plants you a refractory President “at Croe in Combrailles on the top of steep rocks, inaccessible except by litters,” there to consider himself. Likewise there rose Abbé Terray, dissolute Financier, paying eightpence in the shilling,—so that wits exclaim in some press at the playhouse, “Where is Abbé Terray, that he might reduce us to two-thirds!” And so have these individuals (verily by black-art) built them a Domdaniel, or enchanted Dubarrydom; call it an Armida-Palace, where they dwell pleasantly; Chancellor Maupeou “playing blindman’s-buff” with the scarlet Enchantress; or gallantly presenting her with dwarf Negroes;—and a Most Christian King has unspeakable peace within doors, whatever he may have without. “My Chancellor is a scoundrel; but I cannot do without him.”[11]

Beautiful Armida-Palace, where the inmates live enchanted lives; lapped in soft music of adulation; waited on by the splendours of the world;—which nevertheless hangs wondrously as by a single hair. Should the Most Christian King die; or even get seriously afraid of dying! For, alas, had not the fair haughty Chateauroux to fly, with wet cheeks and flaming heart, from that Fever-scene at Metz, long since; driven forth by sour shavelings? She hardly returned, when fever and shavelings were both swept into the background. Pompadour too, when Damiens wounded Royalty “slightly, under the fifth rib,” and our drive to Trianon went off futile, in shrieks and madly shaken torches,—had to pack, and be in readiness: yet did not go, the wound not proving poisoned. For his Majesty has religious faith; believes, at least in a Devil. And now a third peril; and who knows what may be in it! For the Doctors look grave; ask privily, If his Majesty had not the small-pox long ago?—and doubt it may have been a false kind. Yes, Maupeou, pucker those sinister brows of thine, and peer out on it with thy malign rat-eyes: it is a questionable case. Sure only that man is mortal; that with the life of one mortal snaps irrevocably the wonderfullest talisman, and all Dubarrydom rushes off, with tumult, into infinite Space; and ye, as subterranean Apparitions are wont, vanish utterly,—leaving only a smell of sulphur!

These, and what holds of these may pray,—to Beelzebub, or whoever will hear them. But from the rest of France there comes, as was said, no prayer; or one of an opposite character, “expressed openly in the streets.” Château or Hôtel, where an enlightened Philosophism scrutinizes many things, is not given to prayer: neither are Rossbach victories, Terray Finances, nor, say only “sixty thousand Lettres de Cachet” (which is Maupeou’s share), persuasives towards that. O Hénault! Prayers? From a France smitten (by black-art) with plague after plague; and lying now, in shame and pain, with a Harlot’s foot on its neck, what prayer can come? Those lank scarecrows, that prowl hunger-stricken through all highways and byways of French Existence, will they pray? The dull millions that, in the workshop or furrowfield, grind foredone at the wheel of Labour, like haltered gin-horses, if blind so much the quieter? Or they that in the Bicêtre Hospital, “eight to a bed,” lie waiting their manumission? Dim are those heads of theirs, dull stagnant those hearts: to them the great Sovereign is known mainly as the great Regrater of Bread. If they hear of his sickness, they will answer with a dull Tant pis pour lui; or with the question, Will he die?

Yes, will he die? that is now, for all France, the grand question, and hope; whereby alone the King’s sickness has still some interest.

Chapter II: Realized Ideals

Such a changed France have we; and a changed Louis. Changed, truly; and further than thou yet seest!—To the eye of History many things, in that sick-room of Louis, are now visible, which to the Courtiers there present were invisible. For indeed it is well said, “in every object there is inexhaustible meaning; the eye sees in it what the eye brings means of seeing.” To Newton and to Newton’s Dog Diamond, what a different pair of Universes; while the painting on the optical retina of both was, most likely, the same! Let the Reader here, in this sick-room of Louis, endeavour to look with the mind too.

Time was when men could (so to speak) of a given man, by nourishing and decorating him with fit appliances, to the due pitch, make themselves a King, almost as the Bees do; and, what was still more to the purpose, loyally obey him when made. The man so nourished and decorated, thenceforth named royal, does verily bear rule; and is said, and even thought, to be, for example, “prosecuting conquests in Flanders,” when he lets himself like luggage be carried thither: and no light luggage; covering miles of road. For he has his unblushing Chateauroux, with her bandboxes and rouge-pots, at his side; so that, at every new station, a wooden gallery must be run up between their lodgings. He has not only his Maison-Bouche, and Valetaille without end, but his very Troop of Players, with their pasteboard coulisses, thunder-barrels, their kettles, fiddles, stage-wardrobes, portable larders (and chaffering and quarrelling enough); all mounted in wagons, tumbrils, second-hand chaises,—sufficient not to conquer Flanders, but the patience of the world. With such a flood of loud jingling appurtenances does he lumber along, prosecuting his conquests in Flanders: wonderful to behold. So nevertheless it was and had been: to some solitary thinker it might seem strange; but even to him, inevitable, not unnatural.

For ours is a most fictile world; and man is the most fingent plastic of creatures. A world not fixable; not fathomable! An unfathomable Somewhat, which is Not we; which we can work with, and live amidst,—and model, miraculously in our miraculous Being, and name World.—But if the very Rocks and Rivers (as Metaphysic teaches) are, in strict language, made by those Outward Senses of ours, how much more, by the Inward Sense, are all Phenomena of the spiritual kind: Dignities, Authorities, Holies, Unholies! Which inward sense, moreover, is not permanent like the outward ones, but for ever growing and changing. Does not the Black African take of Sticks and Old Clothes (say, exported Monmouth-Street cast-clothes) what will suffice; and of these, cunningly combining them, fabricate for himself an Eidolon (Idol, or Thing Seen), and name it Mumbo-Jumbo; which he can thenceforth pray to, with upturned awestruck eye, not without hope? The white European mocks; but ought rather to consider; and see whether he, at home, could not do the like a little more wisely.

So it was, we say, in those conquests of Flanders, thirty years ago: but so it no longer is. Alas, much more lies sick than poor Louis: not the French King only, but the French Kingship; this too, after long rough tear and wear, is breaking down. The world is all so changed; so much that seemed vigorous has sunk decrepit, so much that was not is beginning to be!—Borne over the Atlantic, to the closing ear of Louis, King by the Grace of God, what sounds are these; muffledominous, new in our centuries? Boston Harbour is black with unexpected Tea: behold a Pennsylvanian Congress gather; and ere long, on Bunker Hill, DEMOCRACY announcing, in rifle-volleys death-winged, under her Star Banner, to the tune of Yankee-doodle-doo, that she is born, and, whirlwind-like, will envelop the whole world!

Sovereigns die and Sovereignties; how all dies, and is for a Time only; is a “Time-phantasm, yet reckons itself real!” The Merovingian Kings, slowly wending on their bullock-carts through the streets of Paris, with their long hair flowing, have all wended slowly on,—into Eternity. Charlemagne sleeps at Salzburg, with truncheon grounded; only Fable expecting that he will awaken. Charles the Hammer, Pepin Bow-legged, where now is their eye of menace, their voice of command? Rollo and his shaggy Northmen cover not the Seine with ships; but have sailed off on a longer voyage. The hair of Towhead (Tête d’étoupes) now needs no combing; Iron-cutter (Taillefer) cannot cut a cobweb; shrill Fredegonda, shrill Brunhilda have had out their hot life-scold, and lie silent, their hot life-frenzy cooled. Neither from that black Tower de Nesle descends now darkling the doomed gallant, in his sack, to the Seine waters; plunging into Night; for Dame de Nesle now cares not for this world’s gallantry, heeds not this world’s scandal; Dame de Nesle is herself gone into Night. They are all gone; sunk,— down, down, with the tumult they made; and the rolling and the trampling of ever new generations passes over them; and they hear it not any more for ever.

And yet withal has there not been realized somewhat? Consider (to go no further) these strong Stone-edifices, and what they hold! Mud-Town of the Borderers (Lutetia Parisiorum or Barisiorum) has paved itself, has spread over all the Seine Islands, and far and wide on each bank, and become City of Paris, sometimes boasting to “Athens of Europe,” and even “Capital of the Universe.” Stone towers frown aloft; long-lasting, grim with a thousand years. Cathedrals are there, and a Creed (or memory of a Creed) in them; Palaces, and a State and Law. Thou seest the Smoke-vapour; unextinguished Breath as of a thing living. Labour’s thousand hammers ring on her anvils: also a more miraculous Labour works noiselessly, not with the Hand but with the Thought. How have cunning workmen in all crafts, with their cunning head and right-hand, tamed the Four Elements to be their ministers; yoking the Winds to their Sea-chariot, making the very Stars their Nautical Timepiece;—and written and collected a Bibliothèque du Roi; among whose Books is the Hebrew BOOK! A wondrous race of creatures: these have been realized, and what of Skill is in these: call not the Past Time, with all its confused wretchednesses, a lost one.

Observe, however, that of man’s whole terrestrial possessions and attainments, unspeakably the noblest are his Symbols, divine or divine-seeming; under which he marches and fights, with victorious assurance, in this life-battle; what we can call his Realized Ideals. Of which realized Ideals, omitting the rest, consider only these two: his Church, or spiritual Guidance; his Kingship, or temporal one. The Church: what a word was there; richer than Golconda and the treasures of the world! In the heart of the remotest mountains rises the little Kirk; the Dead all slumbering round it, under their white memorial-stones, “in hope of a happy resurrection”: dull wert thou, O Reader, if never in any hour (say of moaning midnight, when such Kirk hung spectral in the sky, and Being was as if swallowed up of Darkness) it spoke to thee—things unspeakable, that went to thy soul’s soul. Strong was he that had a Church, what we can call a Church: he stood thereby, though “in the centre of Immensities, in the conflux of Eternities,” yet manlike towards God and man; the vague shoreless Universe had become for him a firm city, and dwelling which he knew. Such virtue was in Belief; in these words, well spoken: I believe. Well might men prize their Credo, and raise stateliest Temples for it, and reverend Hierarchies, and give it the tithe of their substance; it was worth living for and dying for.

Neither was that an inconsiderable moment when wild armed men first raised their Strongest aloft on the buckler-throne; and, with clanging armour and hearts, said solemnly: Be thou our Acknowledged Strongest! In such Acknowledged Strongest (well named King, Könning, Can-ning, or Man that was Able) what a Symbol shone now for them,—significant with the destinies of the world! A Symbol of true Guidance in return for loving Obedience; properly, if he knew it, the prime want of man. A Symbol which might be called sacred; for is there not, in reverence for what is better than we, an indestructible sacredness? On which ground, too, it was well said there lay in the Acknowledged Strongest a divine right; as surely there might in the Strongest, whether Acknowledged or not,—considering who it was that made him strong. And so, in the midst of confusions and unutterable incongruities (as all growth is confused), did this of Royalty, with Loyalty environing it, spring up; and grow mysteriously, subduing and assimilating (for a principle of Life was in it); till it also had grown world-great, and was among the main Facts of our modern existence. Such a Fact, that Louis XIV, for example, could answer the expostulatory Magistrate with his “L’Etat c’est moi (The State? I am the State)”; and be replied to by silence and abashed looks. So far had accident and forethought; had your Louis Elevenths, with the leaden Virgin in their hatband, and torture-wheels and conical oubliettes (man-eating!) under their feet; your Henri Fourths, with their prophesied social millennium, “when every peasant should have his fowl in the pot”; and on the whole, the fertility of this most fertile Existence, named of Good and Evil,—brought it, in the matter of the Kingship. Wondrous! Concerning which may we not again say, that in the huge mass of Evil, as it rolls and swells, there is ever some Good working imprisoned; working towards deliverance and triumph?

How such Ideals do realize themselves; and grow, wondrously, from amid the incongruous ever-fluctuating chaos of the Actual: this is what World-History, if it teach any thing, has to teach us. How they grow; and, after long stormy growth, bloom out mature, supreme; then quickly (for the blossom is brief) fall into decay; sorrowfully dwindle; and crumble down, or rush down, noisily or noiselessly disappearing. The blossom is so brief; as of some centennial Cactus-flower, which after a century of waiting shines out for hours! Thus from the day when rough Clovis, in the Champ de Mars, in sight of his whole army, had to cleave retributively the head of that rough Frank, with sudden battle-axe, and the fierce words, “It was thus thou clavest the vase” (St. Remi’s and mine) “at Soissons,” forward to Louis the Grand and his L’Etat c’est moi, we count some twelve hundred years: and now this the very next Louis is dying, and so much dying with him!—Nay, thus too if Catholicism, with and against Feudalism (but not against Nature and her bounty), gave us English a Shakespeare and Era of Shakespeare, and so produced a blossom of Catholicism—it was not till Catholicism itself, so far as Law could abolish it, had been abolished here.

But of those decadent ages in which no Ideal either grows or blossoms? When Belief and Loyalty have passed away, and only the cant and false echo of them remains; and all Solemnity has become Pageantry; and the Creed of persons in authority has become one of two things: an Imbecility or a Machiavelism? Alas, of these ages World-History can take no notice; they have to become compressed more and more, and finally suppressed in the Annals of Mankind; blotted out as spurious,—which indeed they are. Hapless ages: wherein, if ever in any, it is an unhappiness to be born. To be born, and to learn only, by every tradition and example, that God’s Universe is Belial’s and a Lie; and “the Supreme Quack” the hierarch of men! In which mournfullest faith, nevertheless, do we not see whole generations (two, and sometimes even three successively) live, what they call living; and vanish,—without chance of reappearance?

In such a decadent age, or one fast verging that way, had our poor Louis been born. Grant also that if the French Kingship had not, by course of Nature, long to live, he of all men was the man to accelerate Nature. The blossom of French Royalty, cactus-like, has accordingly made an astonishing progress. In those Metz days, it was still standing with all its petals, though bedimmed by Orleans Regents and Roué Ministers and Cardinals; but now, in 1774, we behold it bald, and the virtue nigh gone out of it.

Disastrous indeed does it look with those same “realized Ideals,” one and all! The Church, which in its palmy season, seven hundred years ago, could make an Emperor wait barefoot, in penance-shirt, three days, in the snow, has for centuries seen itself decaying; reduced even to forget old purposes and enmities, and join interest with the Kingship: on this younger strength it would fain stay its decrepitude; and these two will henceforth stand and fall together. Alas, the Sorbonne still sits there, in its old mansion; but mumbles only jargon of dotage, and no longer leads the consciences of men: not the Sorbonne; it is Encyclopédies, Philosophie, and who knows what nameless innumerable multitude of ready Writers, profane Singers, Romancers, Players, Disputators, and Pamphleteers, that now form the Spiritual Guidance of the world. The world’s Practical Guidance too is lost, or has glided into the same miscellaneous hands. Who is it that the King (Able-man, named also Roi, Rex, or Director) now guides? His own huntsmen and prickers: when there is to be no hunt, it is well said, “Le Roi ne fera rien (To-day his Majesty will do nothing).”[12] He lives and linger there, because he is living there, and none has yet laid hands on him.

The Nobles, in like manner, have nearly ceased either to guide or misguide; and are now, as their master is, little more than ornamental figures. It is long since they have done with butchering one another or their king: the Workers, protected, encouraged by Majesty, have ages ago built walled towns, and there ply their crafts; will permit no Robber Baron to “live by the saddle,” but maintain a gallows to prevent it. Ever since that period of the Fronde, the Noble has changed his fighting sword into a court rapier; and now loyally attends his King as ministering satellite; divides the spoil, not now by violence and murder, but by soliciting and finesse. These men call themselves supports of the throne: singular gilt-pasteboard caryatides in that singular edifice! For the rest, their privileges every way are now much curtailed. That Law authorizing a Seigneur, as he returned from hunting, to kill not more than two Serfs, and refresh his feet in their warm blood and bowels, has fallen into perfect desuetude,— and even into incredibility; for if Deputy Lapoule can believe in it, and call for the abrogation of it, so cannot we.[13] No Charolois, for these last fifty years, though never so fond of shooting, has been in use to bring down slaters and plumbers, and see them roll from their roofs;[14] but contents himself with partridges and grouse. Close-viewed, their industry and function is that of dressing gracefully and eating sumptuously. As for their debauchery and depravity, it is perhaps unexampled since the era of Tiberius and Commodus. Nevertheless, one has still partly a feeling with the lady Maréchale. “Depend upon it, Sir, God thinks twice before damning a man of that quality.”[15] These people, of old, surely had virtues, uses; or they could not have been there. Nay, one virtue they are still required to have (for mortal man cannot live without a conscience): the virtue of perfect readiness to fight duels.

Such are the shepherds of the people: and now how fares it with the flock? With the flock, as is inevitable, it fares ill, and ever worse. They are not tended, they are only regularly shorn. They are sent for, to do statute-labour, to pay statue-taxes; to fatten battlefields (named “bed of honour”) with their bodies, in quarrels which are not theirs; their hand and toil is in every possession of man; but for themselves they have little or no possession. Untaught, uncomforted, unfed; to pine stagnantly in thick obscuration, in squalid destitution and obstruction: this is the lot of the millions; peuple taillable et corvéable à merci et miséricorde. In Brittany they once rose in revolt at the first introduction of Pendulum Clocks; thinking it had something to do with the Gabelle. Paris requires to be cleared out periodically by the Police; and the horde of hunger-stricken vagabonds to be sent wandering again over space—for a time. “During one such periodical clearance,” says Lacretelle, “in May, 1750, the Police had presumed withal to carry off some reputable people’s children, in the hope of extorting ransoms for them. The mothers fill the public places with cries of despair; crowds gather, get excited; so many women in distraction run about exaggerating the alarm: an absurd and horrid fable rises among the people; it is said that the Doctors have ordered a Great Person to take baths of young human blood for the restoration of his own, all spoiled by debaucheries. Some of the rioters,” adds Lacretelle, quite coolly, “were hanged on the following days”: the Police went on.[16]O ye poor naked wretches! and this then is your inarticulate cry to Heaven, as of a dumb tortured animal, crying from uttermost depths of pain and debasement? Do these azure skies, like a dead crystalline vault, only reverberate the echo of it on you? Respond to it only by “hanging on the following days”?—Not so: not for ever! Ye are heard in Heaven. And the answer too will come,—in a horror of great darkness, and shakings of the world, and a cup of trembling which all the nations shall drink.

Remark, meanwhile, how from amid the wrecks and dust of this universal Decay new Powers are fashioning themselves, adapted to the new time, and its destinies. Besides the old Noblesse, originally of Fighters, there is a new recognized Noblesse of Lawyers; whose galaday and proud battle-day even now is. An unrecognized Noblesse of Commerce; powerful enough, with money in its pocket. Lastly, power-fullest of all, least recognized of all, a Noblesse of Literature; without steel on their thigh, without gold in their purse, but with the “grand thaumaturgic faculty of Thought” in their head. French Philosophism has arisen; in which little word how much do we include! Here, indeed, lies properly the cardinal symptom of the whole wide-spread malady. Faith is gone out; Scepticism is come in. Evil abounds and accumulates; no man has Faith to withstand it, to amend it, to begin by amending himself; it must even go on accumulating. While hollow languor and vacuity is the lot of the Upper, and want and stagnation of the Lower, and universal misery is very certain, what other thing is certain? That a Lie cannot be believed! Philosophism knows only this: her other Belief is mainly, that in spiritual supersensual matters no Belief is possible. Unhappy! Nay, as yet the Contradiction of a Lie is some kind of Belief; but the Lie with its Contradiction once swept away, what will remain? The five unsatiated Senses will remain, the sixth insatiable Sense (of Vanity); the whole daemonic nature of man will remain,—hurled forth to rage blindly without rule or rein; savage itself, yet with all the tools and weapons of civilization: a spectacle new in History.

In such a France, as in a Powder-tower, where fire unquenched and now unquenchable is smoking and smouldering all round, has Louis XV lain down to die. With Pompadourism and Dubarryism, his Fleur-de-lis has been shamefully struck down in all lands and on all seas; Poverty invades even the Royal Exchequer, and Tax-farming can squeeze out no more; there is a quarrel of twenty-five years’ standing with the Parlement; everywhere Want, Dishonesty, Unbelief, and hot-brained Sciolists for state-physicians: it is a portentous hour.

Such things can the eye of History see in this sick-room of King Louis, which were invisible to the Courtiers there. It is twenty years, gone Christmas-day, since Lord Chesterfield, summing up what he had noted of this same France, wrote, and sent off by post, the following words that have become memorable: “In short, all the symptoms which I have ever met within History, previous to great Changes and Revolutions in Governments, now exist and daily increase in France.”[17]

Chapter III: Viaticum

For the present, however, the grand question with the Governors of France is: Shall extreme unction, or other ghostly viaticum (to Louis, not to France), be administered?

It is a deep question. For, if administered, if so much as spoken of, must not, on the very threshold of the business, Witch Dubarry vanish; hardly to return should Louis even recover? With her vanishes Duke d’Aiguillon and Company, and all their Armida-Palace, as was said; Chaos swallows the whole again, and there is left nothing but a smell of brimstone. But then, on the other hand, what will the Dauphinists and Choiseulists say? Nay, what may the royal martyr himself say, should he happen to get deadly-worse, without getting delirious? For the present, he still kisses the Dubarry hand; so we, from the anteroom, can note: but afterwards? Doctors’ Bulletins may run as they are ordered, but it is “confluent small-pox,”—of which, as is whispered too, the Gatekeeper’s once so buxom Daughter lies ill: and Louis XV is not a man to be trifled with in his viaticum. Was he not want to catechize his very girls in the Parc-aux-cerfs, and pray with and for them, that they might preserve their—orthodoxy?[18] A strange fact, not an unexampled one; for there is no animal so strange as man.

For the moment, indeed, it were all well, could Archbishop Beaumont but be prevailed upon—to wink with one eye! Alas, Beaumont would himself so fain do it: for singular to tell, the Church too, and whole posthumous hope of Jesuitism, now hangs by the apron of this same unmentionable Woman. But then “the force of public opinion”? Rigorous Christophe de Beaumont, who has spent his life in persecuting hysterical Jansenists and incredulous Non-confessors; or even their dead bodies, if no better might be,—how shall he now open Heaven’s gate, and give Absolution with the corpus delicti still under his nose? Our Grand-Almoner Roche-Aymon, for his part, will not higgle with a royal sinner about turning of the key: but there are other Churchmen; there is a King’s Confessor, foolish Abbé Moudon; and Fanaticism and Decency are not yet extinct. On the whole, what is to be done? The doors can be well watched; the Medical Bulletin adjusted; and much, as usual, be hoped for from time and chance.

The doors are well watched, no improper figure can enter. Indeed, few wish to enter; for the putrid infection reaches even to the Œil de Bœuf; so that “more than fifty fall sick, and ten die.” Mesdames the Princesses alone wait at the loathsome sick-bed; impelled by filial piety. The three Princesses, Graille, Chi fe, Coche (Rag, Snip, Pig, as he was wont to name them), are assiduous there; when all have fled. The fourth Princess Loque (Dud), as we guess, is already in the Nunnery, and can only give her orisons. Poor Graille and Sisterhood, they have never known a Father; such is the hard bargain Grandeur must make. Scarcely at the Débotter (when Royalty took off its boots) could they snatch up their “enormous hoops, gird the long train round their waists, huddle on their black cloaks of taffeta up to the very chin”; and so, in fit appearance of full dress, “every evening at six,” walk majestically in; receive their royal kiss on the brow; and then walk majestically out again, to embroidery, small-scandal, prayers, and vacancy. If Majesty came some morning, with coffee of its own making, and swallowed it with them hastily while the dogs were uncoupling for the hunt, it was received as a grace of Heaven.[19] Poor withered ancient women! in the wild tossings that yet await your fragile existence, before it be crushed and broken; as ye fly through hostile countries, over tempestuous seas, are almost taken by the Turks; and wholly, in the Sansculottic Earthquake, know not your right hand from your left, be this always an assured place in your remembrance: for the act was good and loving! To us also it is a little sunny spot, in that dismal howling waste, where we hardly find another.

Meanwhile, what shall an impartial prudent Courtier do? In these delicate circumstances, while not only death or life, but even sacrament or no sacrament, is a question, the skilfullest may falter. Few are so happy as the Duke d’Orleans and the Prince de Condé; who can themselves, with volatile salts, attend the King’s antechamber; and, at the same time, send their brave sons (Duke de Chartres, Égalité that is to be; Duke de Bourbon, one day Condé too, and famous among Dotards) to wait upon the Dauphin. With another few, it is a resolution taken; jacta est alea. Old Richelieu, when Archbishop of Beaumont, driven by public opinion, is at last for entering the sick-room,—will twitch him by the rochet, into a recess; and there, with his old dissipated mastiff-face, and the oiliest vehemence, be seen pleading (and even, as we judge by Beaumont’s change of color, prevailing) “that the King be not killed by a proposition in Divinity.” Duke Fronsac, son of Richelieu, can follow his father: when the Curé of Versailles whimpers something about sacraments, he will threaten to “throw him out of the window if he mention such a thing.”

Happy these, we may say; but to the rest that hover between two opinions, is it not trying? He who would understand to what a pass Catholicism, and much else, had now got; and how the symbols of the Holiest have become gambling-dice of the Basest,—must read the narrative of those things by Besenval, and Soulavie, and the other Court Newsmen of the time. He will see the Versailles Galaxy all scattered asunder, grouped into new ever-shifting Constellations. There are nods and sagacious glances; go-betweens, silk dowagers mysteriously gliding, with smiles for this constellation, sighs for that: there is tremor, of hope or desperation, in several hearts. There is the pale grinning Shadow of Death, ceremoniously ushered along by another grinning Shadow, of Etiquette: at intervals the growl of Chapel Organs, like prayer by machinery; proclaiming, as in a kind of horrid diabolic horse-laughter, Vanity of vanities, all is Vanity!

Chapter IV: Louis the Unforgotten

Poor Louis! With these it is a hollow phantasmagory, where like mimes they mope and mowl, and utter false sounds for hire; but with thee it is frightful earnest.

Frightful to all men is Death; from of old named King of Terrors. Our little compact home of an Existence, where we dwelt complaining, yet as in a home, is passing, in dark agonies, into an Unknown of Separation, Foreignness, unconditioned Possibility. The Heathen Emperor asks his soul: Into what places are thou now departing? The Catholic King must answer: To the Judgement-bar of the Most High God! Yes, it is a summing up of Life; a final settling, and giving-in the “account of the deeds done in the body”: they are done now; and lie there unalterable, and do bear their fruits, long as Eternity shall last.

Louis XV had always the kingliest abhorrence of Death. Unlike that praying Duke of Orleans, Égalité’s grandfather,—for indeed several of them had a touch of madness,—who honestly believed that there was no Death! He, if the Court Newsmen can be believed, started up once on a time, glowing with sulphurous contempt and indignation on his poor Secretary, who had stumbled on the words, feu roi d’Espagne (the late King of Spain): “Feu roi, Monsieur?”—“Monseigneur,” hastily answered the trembling but adroit man of business, “c’est unetitre qu’ils prennent (’tis a title they take).”[20]Louis, we say, was not so happy: but he did what he could. He would not suffer Death to be spoken of; avoided the sight of churchyards, funereal monuments, and whatsoever could bring it to mind. It is the resource of the Ostrich; who, hard hunted, sticks his foolish head in the ground, and would fain forget that his foolish unseeing body is not unseen too. Or sometimes, with a spasmodic antagonism, significant of the same thing, and of more, he would go; or stopping his court carriages, would send into churchyards, and ask “how many new graves there were to-day,” though it gave his poor Pompadour the disagreeablest qualms. We can figure the thought of Louis that day, when, all royally caparisoned for hunting, he met, at some sudden turning in the Wood of Senart, a ragged Peasant with a coffin: “For whom?”—It was for a poor brother slave, whom Majesty had sometimes noticed slaving in those quarters: “What did he die of ?”—“Of hunger”:—the King gave his steed the spur.[21]

But figure his thought, when Death is now clutching at his own heart-strings; unlooked for, inexorable! Yes, poor Louis, Death has found thee. No palace walls or life-guards, gorgeous tapestries or gilt buckram of stiffest ceremonial could keep him out; but he is here, here at thy very life-breath, and will extinguish it. Thou, whose whole existence hitherto was a chimera and scenic show, at length becomest a reality: sumptuous Versailles bursts asunder, like a Dream, into void Immensity; Time is done, and all the scaffolding of Time falls wrecked with hideous clangour round thy soul: the pale Kingdoms yawn open; there must thou enter, naked, all unking’d, and await what is appointed thee! Unhappy man, there as thou turnest, in dull agony, on thy bed of weariness, what a thought is thine! Purgatory and Hellfire, now all too possible, in the prospect: in the retrospect,—alas, what thing didst thou do that were not better undone; what mortal didst thou generously help; what sorrow hadst thou mercy on? Do the “five hundred thousand” ghosts, who sank shamefully on so many battlefields from Rossbach to Quebec, that thy Harlot might take revenge for an epigram,—crowd round thee in this hour? Thy foul Harem; the curses of mothers, the tears and infamy of daughters? Miserable man! thou “hast done evil as thou couldst”: thy whole existence seems one hideous abortion and mistake of Nature; the use and meaning of thee not yet known. Wert thou a fabulous Griffin, devouring the works of men; daily dragging virgins to thy cave;—clad also in scales that no spear would pierce: no spear but Death’s? A Griffin not fabulous but real! Frightful, O Louis, seem these moments for thee.—We will pry no further into the horrors of a sinner’s deathbed.

And yet let no meanest man lay flattering unction to his soul. Louis was a Ruler; but art not thou also one? His wide France, look at it from the Fixed Stars (themselves not yet Infinitude), is no wider than thy narrow brickfield, where thou too didst faithfully, or didst unfaithfully. Man, “Symbol of Eternity imprisoned into Time!” it is not thy works, which are all mortal, infinitely little, and the greatest no greater than the least, but only the Spirit thou workest in, that can have worth or continuance.

But reflect, in any case, what a life-problem this of poor Louis, when he rose as Bien-aimé from that Metz sick-bed, really was! What son of Adam could have swayed such incoherences into coherence? Could he? Blindest Fortune alone has cast him on the top of it: he swims there; can as little sway it as the drift-log sways the wind-tossed moon-stirred Atlantic. “What have I done to be so loved?” he said then. He may say now: What have I done to be so hated? Thou hast done nothing, poor Louis! Thy fault is properly even this, that thou didst nothing. What could poor Louis do? Abdicate, and wash his hands of it,—in favour of the first that would accept! Other clear wisdom there was none for him. As it was, he stood gazing dubiously, the absurdest mortal extant (a very Solecism Incarnate) into the absurdest confused world;—wherein at last nothing seemed so certain as this, That he, the incarnate Solecism, had five senses; that there were Flying Tables (Tables Volantes, which vanish through the floor, to come back reloaded), and a Parc-aux-cerfs.

Whereby at least we have again this historical curiosity: a human being in an original position; swimming passively, as on some boundless “Mother of Dead Dogs,” towards issues which he partly saw. For Louis had withal a kind of insight in him. So when a new Minister of Marine, or what else it might be, came announcing his new era, the Scarlet-woman would hear from the lips of Majesty at supper: “Yes, he spread out his ware like another; promised the beautifullest things in the world; not a thing of which will come: he does not know this region; he will see.” Or again: “’Tis the twentieth time I have heard all that; France will never get a Navy, I believe.” How touching also was this: “If I were Lieutenant of Police, I would prohibit those Paris cabriolets.”[22]

Doomed mortal;—for is it not a doom to be Solecism incarnate! A new Roi Fainéant, King Donothing; but with the strangest new Mayor of the Palace: no bow-legged Pepin now for Mayor, but that same cloudcapt, fire-breathing Spectre of DEMOCRACY; incalculable, which is enveloping the world!——Was Louis, then, no wickeder than this or the other private Donothing and Eatall; such as we often enough see, under the name of Man of Pleasure, cumbering God’s diligent Creation, for a time? Say, wretcheder! His Life-solecism was seen and felt of a whole scandalized world; him endless Oblivion cannot engulf, and swallow to endless depths,—not yet for a generation or two.

However, be this as it will, we remark, not without interest, that “on the evening of the 4th,” Dame Dubarry issues from the sick-room, with perceptible “trouble in her visage.” It is the fourth evening of May, year of Grace 1774. Such a whispering in the Œil-de-Bœuf ! Is he dying then? What can be said, is that Dubarry seems making up her packages; she sails weeping through her gilt boudoirs, as if taking leave. D’Aiguillon and Company are near their last card; nevertheless they will not yet throw up the game. But as for the sacramental controversy, it is as good as settled without being mentioned; Louis sends for his Abbé Moudon in the course of next night; is confessed by him, some say for the space of “seventeen minutes,” and demands the sacraments of his own accord.

Nay already, in the afternoon, behold is not this your Sorceress Dubarry with the handkerchief at her eyes, mounting D’Aiguillon’s chariot; rolling off in his Duchess’s consolatory arms? She is gone: and her place knows her no more. Vanish, false Sorceress; into Space! Needless to hover at neighbouring Ruel; for thy day is done. Shut are the royal palace-gates for evermore; hardly in coming years shalt thou, under cloud of night, descend once, in black domino, like a black night-bird, and disturb the fair Antoinette’s music-party in the Park; all Birds of Paradise flying from thee, and musical windpipes growing mute.[23]Thou unclean, yet unmalignant, not unpitiable thing! What a course was thine from that first trucklebed (in Joan of Arc’s country) where thy mother bore thee, with tears, to an unnamed father; forward, through lowest subterranean depths, and over highest sunlit heights, of Harlotdom and Rascaldom—to the guillotine-axe, which sheers away thy vainly whimpering head! Rest there uncursed: only buried and abolished; what else befitted thee?

Louis, meanwhile, is in considerable impatience for his sacraments; sends more than once to the window, to see whether they are not coming. Be of comfort, Louis, what comfort thou canst: they are under way, these sacraments. Towards six in the morning, they arrive. Cardinal Grand-Almoner Roche-Aymon is here in pontificals, with his pyxes and his tools: he approaches the royal pillow: elevates his wafer; mutters or seems to mutter somewhat;—and so (as the Abbé Georgel, in words that stick to one, expresses it) has Louis “made the amende honorable to God”; so does your Jesuit construe it.—“Wa, Wa,” as the wild Clotaire groaned out, when life was departing, “what great God is this that pulls down the strength of the strongest kings!”[24]

The amende honorable, “what regal apology” you will, to God:—but not, if D’Aiguillon can help it, to man. Dubarry still hovers in his mansion at Ruel; and while there is life there is hope. Grand-Almoner Roche-Aymon, accordingly (for he seems to be in the secret), has no sooner seen his pyxes and gear repacked, than he is stepping majestically forth again, as if the work were done! But King’s Confessor Abbé Moudon starts forward; with anxious acidulent face, twitches him by the sleeve; whispers in his ear. Whereupon the poor Cardinal has to turn round; and declare audibly, “that his Majesty repents of any subjects of scandal he may have given (a pu donner); and purposes, by the strength of Heaven assisting him, to avoid the like—for the future!” Words listened to by Richelieu with mastiff-face, growing blacker; and answered to, aloud, “with an epithet,”—which Besenval will not repeat. Old Richelieu, conqueror of Minorca, companion of Flying-Table orgies, perforator of bedroom walls,[25] is thy day also done?

Alas, the Chapel organs may keep going; the Shrine of Sainte Genevieve be let down, and pulled up again,—without effect. In the evening the whole Court, with Dauphin and Dauphiness, assist at the Chapel: priests are hoarse with chanting their “Prayers of Forty Hours”; and the heaving bellows blow. Almost frightful! For the very heaven blackens; battering rain-torrents dash, with thunder; almost drowning the organ’s voice: and electric fire-flashes make the very flambeaux on the altar pale. So that the most, as we are told, retired, when it was over, with hurried steps “in a state of meditation (recueillement),” and said little or nothing.[26]

So it has lasted for the better half of a fortnight; the Dubarry gone almost a week. Besenval says, all the world was getting impatient que cela finît; that poor Louis would have done with it. It is now the 10th of May, 1774. He will soon have done now.

This tenth May day falls into the loathsome sick-bed; but dull, unnoticed there: for they that look out of the windows are quite darkened; the cistern-wheel moves discordant on its axis; Life, like a spent steed, is panting towards the goal. In their remote apartments, Dauphin and Dauphiness stand road-ready; all grooms and equerries booted and spurred: waiting for some signal to escape the house of pestilence.[27]And, hark! across the Œil-de-Bœuf, what sound is that; sound “terrible and absolutely like thunder”? It is the rush of the whole Court, rushing as in wager, to salute the new Sovereigns: Hail to your Majesties! The Dauphin and Dauphiness are King and Queen! Overpowered with many emotions, they two fall on their knees together, and, with streaming tears, exclaim: “O God, guide us, protect us; we are too young to reign!”—Too young indeed.

But thus, in any case, “with a sound absolutely like thunder,” has the Horologe of Time struck, and an old Era passed away. The Louis that was, lies forsaken, a mass of abhorred clay; abandoned “to some poor persons, and priests of the Chapelle Ardente,”—who make haste to put him “in two lead coffins, pouring in abundant spirits of wine.” The new Louis with his Court is rolling towards Choisy, through the summer afternoon: the royal tears still flow; but a word mispronounced by Monseigneur d’Artois sets them all laughing, and they weep no more. Light mortals, how ye walk your life-minuet, over bottomless abysses, divided from you by a film!

For the rest, the proper authorities felt that no Funeral could be too unceremonious. Besenval himself thinks it was unceremonious enough. Two carriages containing two noblemen of the usher species, and a Versailles clerical person; some score of mounted pages, some fifty palfreniers: these, with torches, but no so much as in back, start from Versailles on the second evening, with their leaden bier. At a high trot, they start; and keep up that pace. For the jibes (brocards) of those Parisians, who stand planted in two rows, all the way to St. Denis, and “give vent to their pleasantry, the characteristic of the nation,” do not tempt one to slacken. Towards midnight the vaults of St. Denis receive their own; unwept by any eye of all these; if not by poor Loque his neglected Daughter’s, whose Nunnery is hard by.

Him they crush down, and huddle under-ground, in this impatient way; him and his era of sin and tyranny and shame; for behold a New Era is come; the future all the brighter that the past was base.

Book II: The Paper Age

Chapter I: Astraea Redux

A paradoxical philosopher, carrying to the uttermost length that aphorism of Montesquieu’s, “Happy the people whose annals are tiresome,” has said, “Happy the people whose annals are vacant.” In which saying, mad as it looks, may there not still be found some grain of reason? For truly, as it has been written, “Silence is divine,” and of Heaven; so in all earthly things too there is a silence which is better than any speech. Consider it well, the Event, the thing which can be spoken of and recorded, is it not, in all cases, some disruption, some solution of continuity? Were it even a glad Event, it involves change, involves loss (of active Force); and so far, either in the past or in the present, is an irregularity, a disease. Stillest perseverance were our blessedness; not dislocation and alteration,—could they be avoided.

The oak grows silently, in the forest, a thousand years; only in the thousandth year, when the woodman arrives with his axe, is there heard an echoing through the solitudes; and the oak announces itself when, with far-sounding crash, it falls. How silent too was the planting of the acorn; scattered from the lap of some wandering wind! Nay, when our oak flowered, or put on its leaves (its glad Events), what shout of proclamation could there be? Hardly from the most observant a word of recognition. These things befell not, they were slowly done; not in an hour, but through the flight of days: what was to be said of it? This hour seemed altogether as the last was, as the next would be.

It is thus everywhere that foolish Rumour babbles not of what was done, but of what was misdone or undone; and foolish History (ever, more or less, the written epitomized synopsis of Rumour) knows so little that were not as well unknown. Attila Invasions, Walter-the-Penniless Crusades, Sicilian Vespers, Thirty-Years’ Wars: mere sin and misery; not work, but hindrance of work! For the Earth, all this while, was yearly green and yellow with her kind harvests; the hand of the craftsman, the mind of the thinker rested not: and so, after all, and in spite of all, we have this so glorious high-domed blossoming World; concerning which, poor History may well ask, with wonder, Whence it came? She knows so little of it, knows so much of what obstructed it, what would have rendered it impossible. Such, nevertheless, by necessity or foolish choice, is her rule and practice; whereby that paradox, “Happy the people whose annals are vacant,” is not without its true side.

And yet, what seems more pertinent to note here, there is a stillness, not of unobstructed growth, but of passive inertness, the symptom of imminent downfall. As victory is silent, so is defeat. Of the opposing forces the weaker has resigned itself; the stronger marches on, noiseless now, but rapid, inevitable: the fall and overturn will not be noiseless. How all grows, and has its period, even as the herbs of the fields, be it annual, centennial, millennial! All grows and dies, each by its own wondrous laws, in wondrous fashion of its own; spiritual things most wondrously of all. Inscrutable, to the wisest, are these latter; not to be prophesied of, or understood. If when the oak stands proudliest flourishing to the eye, you know that its heart is sound, it is not so with the man; how much less with the Society, with the Nation of men! Of such it may be affirmed even that the superficial aspect, that the inward feeling of full health, is generally ominous. For indeed it is of apoplexy, so to speak, and a plethoric lazy habit of body, that Churches, Kingships, Social Institutions, oftenest die. Sad, when such Institution plethorically says to itself, Take thy ease, thou hast goods laid up;—like the fool of the Gospel, to whom it was answered, Fool, this night thy life shall be required of thee!

Is it the healthy peace, or the ominous unhealthy, that rests on France, for these next Ten Years? Over which the Historian can pass lightly, without call to linger: for as yet events are not, much less performances. Time of sunniest stillness;—shall we call it, what all men thought it, the new Age of Gold? Call it at least, of Paper; which in many ways is the succedaneum of Gold. Bank-paper, wherewith you can still buy when there is no gold left; Book-paper, splendent with Theories, Philosophies, Sensibilities—beautiful art, not only revealing Thought, but also so beautifully hiding from us the want of Thought! Paper is made from the rags of things that did once exist; there are endless excellences in Paper.—What wisest Philosophe, in this halcyon uneventful period, could prophesy that there was approaching, big with darkness and confusion, the event of events? Hope ushers in a Revolution,—as earthquakes are preceded by bright weather. On the fifth of May, fifteen years hence, old Louis will not be sending for the Sacraments; but a new Louis, his grandson, with the whole pomp of astonished intoxicated France, will be opening the States General.

Dubarrydom and its D’Aiguillons are gone for ever. There is a young, still docile, well-intentioned King; a young, beautiful and bountiful, well-intentioned Queen; and with them all France, as it were, become young. Maupeou and his Parlement have to vanish into thick night; respectable Magistrates, not indifferent to the Nation, were it only for having been opponents of the Court, descend now unchained from their “steep rocks at Croe in Combrailles” and elsewhere, and return singing praises: the old Parlement of Paris resumes its functions. Instead of a profligate bankrupt Abbé Terray, we have now, for Controller-General, a virtuous philosophic Turgot, with a whole Reformed France in his head. By whom whatsoever is wrong, in Finance or otherwise, will be righted,—as far as possible. Is it not as if Wisdom herself were henceforth to have seat and voice in the Council of Kings? Turgot has taken office with the noblest plainness of speech to that effect; been listened to with the noblest royal trustful-ness.[28] It is true, as King Louis objects, “They say he never goes to mass”; but liberal France likes him little worse for that; liberal France answers, “The Abbé Terray always went.” Philosophism sees, for the first time, a Philosophe (or even a Philosopher) in office: she in all things will applausively second him; neither will light old Maurepas obstruct, if he can easily help it.

Then how “sweet” are the manners; vice “losing all its deformity”; becoming decent (as established things, making regulations for themselves, do); becoming almost a kind of “sweet” virtue! Intelligence so abounds; irradiated by wit and the art of conversation. Philosophism sits joyful in her glittering saloons, the dinner-guest of Opulence grown ingenuous, the very Nobles proud to sit by her; and preaches, lifted up over all Bastilles, a coming millennium. From far Fernay, Patriarch Voltaire gives sign; veterans Diderot, D’Alembert have lived to see this day; these with their younger Marmontels, Morellets, Chamforts, Baynals, make glad the spicy board of rich ministering Dowager, of philosophic Farmer-General. O nights and suppers of the gods! Of a truth, the long-demonstrated will now be done: “the Age of Revolutions approaches” (as Jean Jacques wrote), but then of happy blessed ones. Man awakens from his long somnambulism; chases the Phantasms that beleaguered and bewitched him. Behold the new morning glittering down the eastern steeps; fly, false Phantasms, from its shafts of light; let the Absurd fly utterly, forsaking this lower Earth for ever. It is Truth and Astraea Redux that (in the shape of Philosophism) henceforth reign. For what imaginable purpose was man made, if not to be “happy”? By victorious Analysis and Progress of the Species, happiness enough now awaits him. Kings can become philosophers; or else philosophers Kings. Let but Society be once rightly constituted,— by victorious Analysis. The stomach that is empty shall be filled; the throat that is dry shall be wetted with wine. Labour itself shall be all one as rest; not grievous, but joyous. Wheatfields, one would think, cannot come to grow untilled; no man made clayey, or made weary thereby;—unless indeed machinery will do it? Gratuitous Tailors and Restaurateurs may start up, at fit intervals, one as yet sees not how. But if each will, according to rule of Benevolence, have a care for all, then surely—no one will be uncared for. Nay, who knows but, by sufficiently victorious Analysis, “human life may be indefinitely lengthened,” and men get rid of Death, as they have already done of the Devil? We shall then be happy in spite of Death and the Devil.—So reaches magniloquent Philosophism her Redeunt Saturnia regna.

The prophetic song of Paris and its Philosophes is audible enough in the Versailles Œil-de-Bœuf, and the Œil-de-Bœuf, intent chiefly on nearer blessedness, can answer, at worst, with a polite “Why not?” Good old cheery Maurepas is too joyful a Prime Minister to dash the world’s joy. Sufficient for the day be its own evil. Cheery old man, he cuts his jokes, and hovers careless along; his cloak well adjusted to the wind, if so be he may please all persons. The simple young King, whom a Maurepas cannot think of troubling with business, has retired into the interior apartments; taciturn, irresolute; though with a sharpness of temper at times: he, at length, determines on a little smith-work; and so, in apprenticeship with a Sieur Gamain (whom one day he shall have little cause to bless), is learning to make locks.[29] It appears further, he understood Geography; and could read English. Unhappy young King, his childlike trust in that foolish old Maurepas deserved another return. But friend and foe, destiny and himself have combined to do him hurt.

Meanwhile the fair young Queen, in her halls of state, walks like a goddess of Beauty, the cynosure of all eyes; as yet mingles not with affairs; heeds not the future; least of all, dreads it. Weber and Campan[30] have pictured her, there within the royal tapestries, in bright boudoirs, baths, peignoirs, and the Grand and Little Toilette; with a whole brilliant world waiting obsequious on her glance: fair young daughter of Time, what things has Time in store for thee! Like Earth’s brightest Appearance, she moved gracefully, environed with the grandeur of Earth: a reality, and yet a magic vision; for, behold, shall not utter Darkness swallow it! The soft young heart adopts orphans, portions meritorious maids, delights to succour the poor,—such poor as come picturesquely in her way; and sets the fashion of doing it; for, as was said, Benevolence has now begun reigning. In her Duchess de Polignac, in her Princess de Lamballe, she enjoys something almost like friendship: now too, after seven long years, she has a child, and soon even a Dauphin, of her own; can reckon herself, as Queens go, happy in a husband.

Events? The grand events are but charitable Feasts of Morals ( Fêtes des mœurs), with their Prizes and Speeches; Poissarde Processions to the Dauphin’s cradle; above all, Flirtations, their rise, progress, decline and fall. There are Snow-statues raised by the poor in hard winter, to a Queen who has given them fuel. There are masquerades, theatricals; beautifyings of Little Trianon, purchase and repair of St. Cloud; journeyings from the summer Court-Elysium to the winter one. There are poutings and grudgings from the Sardinian Sisters-in-law (for the Princes too are wedded); little jealousies, which Court-Etiquette can moderate. Wholly the lightest-hearted frivolous foam of Existence; yet an artfully refined foam; pleasant were it not so costly, like that which mantles on the wine of Champagne!

Monsieur, the King’s elder Brother, has set up for a kind of wit; and leans towards the Philosophe side. Monseigneur d’Artois pulls the mask from a fair impertinent; fights a duel in consequence,—almost drawing blood.[31] He has breeches of a kind new in this world;—a fabulous kind; “four tall lackeys,” says Mercier, as if he had seen it, “hold him up in the air, that he may fall into the garment without vestige of wrinkle; from which rigorous encasement the same four, in the same way, and with more effort, have to deliver him at night.”[32] This last is he who now, as a grey timeworn man, sits desolate at Grätz;[33] having winded up his destiny with the Three Days. In such sort are poor mortals swept and shovelled to and fro.

Chapter II: Petition in Hieroglyphs

With the working people, again, it is not so well. Unlucky! For there are from twenty to twenty-five millions of them. Whom, however, we lump together into a kind of dim compendious unity, monstrous but dim, far off, as the canaille; or, more humanely, as “the masses.” Masses indeed: and yet, singular to say, if, with an effort of imagination, thou follow them, over broad France, into their clay hovels, into their garrets and hutches, the masses consist all of units. Every unit of whom has his own heart and sorrows; stands covered there with his own skin, and if you prick him, he will bleed. O purple Sovereignty, Holiness, Reverence; thou, for example, Cardinal Grand-Almoner, with thy plush covering of honour, who hast thy hands strengthened with dignities and moneys, and art set on thy world-watchtower solemnly, in sight of God, for such ends,—what a thought: that every unit of these masses is a miraculous Man, even as thyself art; struggling, with vision or with blindness, for his infinite Kingdom (this Life which he has got, once only, in the middle of Eternities); with a spark of the Divinity, what thou callest an immortal soul, in him!

Dreary, languid do these struggle in their obscure remoteness; their hearth cheerless, their diet thin. For them, in this world, rises no Era of Hope; hardly now in the other,—if it be not hope in the gloomy rest of Death, for their faith too is failing. Untaught, uncomforted, unfed! A dumb generation; their voice only an inarticulate cry: spokesman, in the King’s Council, in the world’s forum, they have none that finds credence. At rare intervals (as now, in 1775), they will fling down their hoes and hammers; and, to the astonishment of thinking mankind,[34] flock hither and thither, dangerous, aimless; get the length even of Versailles. Turgot is altering the Corn-trade, abrogating the absurdest Corn-laws; there is dearth, real, or were it even “factitious”; an indubitable scarcity of bread. And so, on the 2nd day of May, 1775, these waste multitudes do here, at Versailles Château, in wide-spread wretchedness, in sallow faces, squalor, winged raggedness, present, as in legible hieroglyphic writing, their Petition of Grievances. The Château-gates must be shut; but the King will appear on the balcony, and speak to them. They have seen the King’s face; their Petition of Grievances has been, if not read, looked at. For answer, two of them are hanged, on a “new gallows forty feet high”; and the rest driven back to their dens,—for a time.

Clearly a difficult “point” for Government, that of dealing with these masses;—if indeed it be not rather the sole point and problem of Government, and all other points mere accidental crotchets, superficialities, and beatings of the wind! For let Charter-Chests, Use and Wont, Law common and special say what they will, the masses count to so many millions of units; made, to all appearance, by God,—whose Earth this is declared to be. Besides, the people are not without ferocity; they have sinews and indignation. Do but look what holiday old Marquis Mirabeau, the crabbed old Friend of Men, looked on, in these same years, from his lodging, at the Baths of Mont d’Or: “The savages descending in torrents from the mountains; our people ordered not to go out. The Curate in surplice and stole; Justice in its peruke; Marechausée sabre in hand, guarding the place, till the bagpipes can begin. The dance interrupted, in a quarter of an hour, by battle; the cries, the squealings of children, of infirm persons, and other assistants, tarring them on, as the rabble does when dogs fight: frightful men, or rather frightful wild-animals, clad in jupes of coarse woollen, with large girdles of leather studded with copper nails; of gigantic stature, heightened by high wooden-clogs (sabots ); rising on tiptoe to see the fight; tramping time to it; rubbing their sides with their elbows: their faces haggard ( figures hâves), and covered with their long greasy hair; the upper part of the visage waxing pale, the lower distorting itself into the attempt at a cruel laugh and a sort of ferocious impatience. And these people pay the taille! And you want further to take their salt from them! And you know not what it is you are stripping barer, or as you call it, governing; what, by the spurt of your pen, in its cold dastard indifference, you will fancy you can starve always with impunity; always till the catastrophe come!—Ah Madame, such Government by Blindman’s-buff, stumbling along too far, will end in the General Overturn (culbute générale).”[35]

Undoubtedly a dark feature this in an Age of Gold,—Age, at least, of Paper and Hope! Meanwhile, trouble us not with thy prophecies, O croaking Friend of Men: ’tis long that we have heard such; and still the old world keeps wagging, in its old way.

Chapter III: Questionable

Or is this same Age of Hope itself but a simulacrum; as Hope too often is? Cloud-vapour with rainbows painted on it, beautiful to see, to sail towards,—which hovers over Niagara Falls? In that case, victorious Analysis will have enough to do.

Alas, yes! a whole world to remake, if she could see it: work for another than she! For all is wrong, and gone out of joint; the inward spiritual, and the outward economical; head and heart, there is no soundness in it. As indeed, evils of all sorts are more or less of kin, and do usually go together: especially it is an old truth, that wherever huge physical evil is, there, as the parent and origin of it, has moral evil to a proportionate extent been. Before those five-and-twenty labouring Millions, for instance, could get that haggardness of face, which old Mirabeau now looks on, in a Nation calling itself Christian, and calling man the brother of man,—what unspeakable, nigh infinite Dishonesty (of seeming and not being) in all manner of Rulers, and appointed Watchers, spiritual and temporal, must there not, through long ages, have gone on accumulating! It will accumulate: moreover, it will reach a head; for the first of all Gospels is this, that a Lie cannot endure for ever.

In fact, if we pierce through that rosepink vapour of Sentimentalism, Philanthropy, and Feasts of Morals, there lies behind it one of the sorriest spectacles. You might ask, What bonds that ever held a human society happily together, or held it together at all, are in force here? It is an unbelieving people; which has suppositions, hypotheses, and froth-systems of victorious Analysis; and for belief this mainly, that Pleasure is pleasant. Hunger they have for all sweet things; and the law of Hunger: but what other law? Within them, or over them, properly none!

Their King has become a King Popinjay: with his Maurepas Government, gyrating as the weather-cock does, blown about by every wind. Above them they see no God; or they even do not look above, except with astronomical glasses. The Church indeed still is; but in the most submissive state; quite tamed by Philosophism; in a singularly short time; for the hour was come. Some twenty years ago, your Archbishop Beaumont would not even let the poor Jansenists get buried: your Loménie Brienne (a rising man, whom we shall meet with yet) could, in the name of the Clergy, insist on having the Antiprotestant Laws, which condemn to death for preaching, “put in execution.”[36] And alas, now not so much as Baron Holbach’s Atheism can be burnt,—except as pipe-matches by the private speculative individual. Our Church stands haltered, dumb, like a dumb ox; lowing only for provender (of tithes); content if it can have that; or, with dumb stupor, expecting its further doom. And the Twenty Millions of “haggard faces”; and, as finger-post and guidance to them in their dark struggle, “a gallows forty feet high”! Certainly a singular Golden Age; with its Feasts of Morals, its “sweet manners,” its sweet institutions (institutions douces); betokening nothing but peace among men!—Peace? O Philosophe-Sentimentalism, what hast thou to do with peace, when thy mother’s name is Jezebel? Foul Product of still fouler Corruption, thou with the corruption art doomed!

Meanwhile it is singular how long the rotten will hold together, provided you do not handle it roughly. For whole generations it continues standing, “with a ghastly affectation of life,” after all life and truth has fled out of it: so loth are men to quit their old ways; and, conquering indolence and inertia, venture on new. Great truly is the Actual; is the Thing that has rescued itself from bottomless deeps of theory and possibility, and stands there as a definite indisputable Fact, whereby men do work and live, or once did so. Wisely shall men cleave to that, while it will endure; and quit it with regret, when it gives way under them. Rash enthusiast of Change, beware! Hast thou well considered all that Habit does in this life of ours; how all Knowledge and all Practice hang wondrous over infinite abysses of the Unknown, Impracticable; and our whole being is an infinite abyss, overarched by Habit, as by a thin Earth-rind, laboriously built together?

But if “every man,” as it has been written, “holds confined within him a mad-man,” what must every Society do;—Society, which in its commonest state is called “the standing miracle of this world”! “Without such Earth-rind of Habit,” continues our Author, “call it System of Habits, in a word, fixed ways of acting and of believing,—Society would not exist at all. With such it exists, better or worse. Herein too, in this its System of Habits, acquired, retained how you will, lies the true Law-Code and Constitution of a Society; the only Code, though an unwritten one, which it can in no wise disobey. The thing we call written Code, Constitution, Form of Government, and the like, what is it but some miniature image, and solemnly expressed summary of this unwritten Code? Is,—or rather, alas, is not; but only should be, and always tends to be! In which latter discrepancy lies struggle without end.” And now, we add in the same dialect, let but, by ill chance, in such ever-enduring struggle,—your “thin Earth-rind” be once broken! The fountains of the great deep boil forth; fire-fountains, enveloping, engulfing. Your “Earth-rind” is shattered, swallowed up; instead of a green flowery world there is a waste wild-weltering chaos;—which has again, with tumult and struggle, to make itself into a world.

On the other hand, be this conceded: Where thou findest a Lie that is oppressing thee, extinguish it. Lies exist there only to be extinguished; they wait and cry earnestly for extinction. Think well, meanwhile, in what spirit thou wilt do it: not with hatred, with headlong selfish violence; but in clearness of heart, with holy zeal, gently, almost with pity. Thou wouldst not replace such extinct Lie by a new Lie, which a new Injustice of thy own were; the parent of still other Lies? Whereby the latter end of that business were worse than the beginning.

So, however, in this world of ours, which has both an indestructible hope in the Future, and an indestructible tendency to persevere as in the Past, must Innovation and Conservation wage their perpetual conflict, as they may and can. Wherein the “daemonic element,” that lurks in all human things, may doubtless, some once in the thousand years,— get vent! But indeed may we not regret that such conflict,—which, after all, is but like that classical one of “hate-filled Amazons with heroic Youths,” and will end in embraces,—should usually be so spasmodic? For Conservation, strengthened by that mightiest quality in us, our indolence, sits for long ages, not victorious only, which she should be; but tyrannical, incommunicative. She holds her adversary as if annihilated; such adversary lying, all the while, like some buried Enceladus; who, to gain the smallest freedom, has to stir a whole Trinacria with its Aetnas.

Wherefore, on the whole, we will honour a Paper Age too; an Era of Hope! For in this same frightful process of Enceladus Revolt; when the task, on which no mortal would willingly enter, has become imperative, inevitable,—is it not even a kindness of Nature that she lures us forward by cheerful promises, fallacious or not; and a whole generation plunges into the Erebus Blackness, lighted on by an Era of Hope? It has been well said: “Man is based on Hope; he has properly no other possession but Hope; this habitation of his is named the Place of Hope.”

Chapter IV: Maurepas

But now, among French hopes, is not that of old M. de Maurepas one of the best-grounded; who hopes that he, by dexterity, shall contrive to continue Minister? Nimble old man, who for all emergencies has his light jest; and ever in the worst confusion will emerge, corklike, unsunk! Small care to him is Perfectibility, Progress of the Species, and Astraea Redux: good only, that a man of light wit, verging towards fourscore, can in the seat of authority feel himself important among men. Shall we call him, as haughty Châteauroux was wont, of old, “M. Faquinet (Diminutive of Scoundrel)”? In courtier dialect, he is now named “the Nestor of France”; such governing Nestor as France has.

At bottom, nevertheless, it might puzzle one to say where the Government of France, in these days, specially is. In that Château of Versailles, we have Nestor, King, Queen, ministers and clerks, with paper-bundles tied in tape: but the Government? For Government is a thing that governs, that guides; and if need be, compels. Visible in France there is not such a thing. Invisible, inorganic, on the other hand, there is: in Philosophe saloons, in Œil-de-Bœuf galleries; in the tongue of the babbler, in the pen of the pamphleteer. Her Majesty appearing at the Opera is applauded; she returns all radiant with joy. Anon the applauses wax fainter, or threaten to cease; she is heavy of heart, the light of her face has fled. Is Sovereignty some poor Montgolfier; which, blown into by the popular wind, grows great and mounts; or sinks flaccid, if the wind be withdrawn? France was long a “Despotism tempered by Epigrams”; and now, it would seem, the Epigrams have got the upper hand.

Happy were a young “Louis the Desired” to make France happy; if it did not prove too troublesome, and he only knew the way. But there is endless discrepancy round him; so many claims and clamours; a mere confusion of tongues. Not reconcilable by man; not manageable, suppressible, save by some strongest and wisest man;—which only a lightly-jesting lightly-gyrating M. de Maurepas can so much as subsist amidst. Philosophism claims her New Era, meaning thereby innumerable things. And claims it in no faint voice; for France at large, hitherto mute, is now beginning to speak also; and speaks in that same sense. A huge, many-toned sound; distant, yet not unimpressive. On the other hand, the Œil-de-Bœuf, which, as nearest, one can hear best, claims with shrill vehemence that the Monarchy be as heretofore a Horn of Plenty; wherefrom loyal courtiers may draw,—to the just support of the throne. Let Liberalism and a New Era, if such is the wish, be introduced; only no curtailment of the royal moneys! Which latter condition, alas, is precisely the impossible one.

Philosophism, as we saw, has got her Turgot made Controller-General; and there shall be endless reformation. Unhappily this Turgot could continue only twenty months. With a miraculous Fortunatus’ Purse in his Treasury, it might have lasted longer; with such Purse indeed, every French Controller-General, that would prosper in these days, ought first to provide himself. But here again may we not remark the bounty of Nature in regard to Hope? Man after man advances confident to the Augean Stable, as if he could clean it; expends his little fraction of an ability on it, with such cheerfulness; does, in so far as he was honest, accomplish something. Turgot has faculties; honesty, insight, heroic volition; but the Fortunatus’ Purse he has not. Sanguine Controller-General! a whole pacific French Revolution may stand schemed in the head of the thinker; but who shall pay the unspeakable “indemnities” that will be needed? Alas, far from that: on the very threshold of the business, he proposes that the Clergy, the Noblesse, the very Parlements be subjected to taxes like the People! One shriek of indignation and astonishment reverberates through all the Château galleries; M. de Maurepas has to gyrate: the poor King, who had written few weeks ago, “Il n’y a que vous et moi qui aimions le peuple (There is none but you and I that has the people’s interest at heart),” must write now a dismissal;[37] and let the French Revolution accomplish itself, pacifically or not, as it can.

Hope then is deferred? Deferred; not destroyed, or abated. Is not this, for example, our Patriarch Voltaire, after long years of absence, revisiting Paris? With face shrivelled to nothing; with “huge peruke à la Louis Quatorze, which leaves only two eyes visible, glittering like carbuncles,” the old man is here.[38]What an outburst! Sneering Paris has suddenly grown reverent; devotional with Hero-worship. Nobles have disguised themselves as tavern-waiters to obtain sight of him: the loveliest of France would lay their hair beneath his feet. “His chariot is the nucleus of a Comet; whose train fills whole streets”: they crown him in the theatre, with immortal vivats; finally “stifle him under roses,”—for old Richelieu recommended opium in such state of the nerves, and the excessive Patriarch took too much. Her Majesty herself had some thought of sending for him; but was dissuaded. Let Majesty consider it nevertheless. The purport of this man’s existence has been to wither up and annihilate all whereon Majesty and Worship for the present rests: and is it so that the world recognizes him? With Apotheosis; as its Prophet and Speaker, who has spoken wisely the thing it longed to say? Add only that the body of this same rose-stifled, beatified Patriarch cannot get buried except by stealth. It is wholly a notable business; and France, without doubt, is big (what the Germans call “Of good Hope”): we shall wish her a happy birth-hour, and blessed fruit.

Beaumarchais too has now winded up his Law-Pleadings ( moires);[39] not without result, to himself and to the world. Caron Beaumarchais (or de Beaumarchais, for he got ennobled) had been born poor, but aspiring, esurient; with talents, audacity, adroitness; above all with the talent for intrigue: a lean, but also a tough indomitable man. Fortune and dexterity brought him to the harpsichord of Mesdames, our good Princesses Loque, Graille and Sisterhood. Still better, Pâris Duvernier, the Court-Banker, honoured him with some confidence; to the length even of transactions in cash. Which confidence, however, Duvernier’s Heir, a person of quality, would not continue. Quite otherwise; there springs a Lawsuit from it: wherein tough Beaumarchais, losing both money and repute, is, in the opinion of Judge-Reporter Goezman, of the Parlement Maupeou, and of a whole indifferent acquiescing world,—miserably beaten. In all men’s opinion, only not in his own! Inspired by the indignation, which makes, if not verses, satirical law-papers, the withered Music-master, with a desperate heroism, takes up his lost cause in spite of the world; fights for it, against Reporters, Parlements and Principalities, with light banter, with clear logic; adroitly, with an inexhaustible toughness and resource, like the skilfullest fencer; on whom, so skilful is he, the whole world now looks. Three long years it lasts; with wavering fortune. In fine, after labours comparable to the Twelve of Hercules, our unconquerable Caron triumphs; regains his Lawsuit and Lawsuits; strips Reporter Goezman of the judicial ermine; covering him with a perpetual garment of obloquy instead:—and in regard to the Parlement Maupeou (which he has helped to extinguish), to Parlements of all kinds, and to French Justice generally, gives rise to endless reflections in the minds of men. Thus has Beaumarchais like a lean French Hercules ventured down, driven by destiny, into the Nether Kingdoms; and victoriously tamed hell-dogs there. He also is henceforth among the notabilities of his generation.

Chapter V: Astraea Redux Without Cash

Observe, however, beyond the Atlantic, has not the new day verily dawned! Democracy, as we said, is born; storm-girt, is struggling for life and victory. A sympathetic France rejoices over the Rights of Man; in all saloons, it is said, What a spectacle! Now too behold our Deane, our Franklin, American Plenipotentiaries, here in person soliciting:[40] the sons of the Saxon Puritans, with their Old-Saxon temper, Old-Hebrew culture, sleek Silas, sleek Benjamin, here on such errand, among the light children of Heathenism, Monarchy, Sentimentalism, and the Scarlet-woman. A spectacle indeed; over which saloons may cackle joyous,—though Kaiser Joseph, questioned on it, gave this answer most unexpected from a Philosophe: “Madame, the trade I live by is that of royalist (Mon métier à moi c’est d’être royaliste).”

So thinks light Maurepas too; but the wind of Philosophism and force of public opinion will blow him round. Best wishes, meanwhile, are sent; clandestine privateers armed. Paul Jones shall equip his Bon Homme Richard: weapons, military stores can be smuggled over (if the English do not seize them); wherein, once more Beaumarchais, dimly as the Giant Smuggler, becomes visible,—filling his own lank pocket withal. But surely, in any case, France should have a Navy. For which great object were not now the time; now when that proud Termagant of the Seas has her hands full? It is true, an impoverished Treasury cannot build ships; but the hint once given (which Beaumarchais says he gave), this and the other loyal Seaport, Chamber of Commerce, will build and offer them. Goodly vessels bound into the waters; a Ville de Paris, Leviathan of ships.

And now when gratuitous three-deckers dance there at anchor, with streamers flying; and eleutheromaniac Philosophedom grows ever more clamorous, what can a Maurepas do—but gyrate? Squadrons cross the ocean: Gateses, Lees, rough Yankee Generals, “with woollen night-caps under their hats,” present arms to the far-glancing Chivalry of France; and new-born Democracy sees, not without amazement, “Despotism tempered by Epigrams” fight at her side. So, however, it is. King’s forces and heroic volunteers; Rochambeaus, Bouillés, Lameths, Lafayettes, have drawn their swords in this sacred quarrel of mankind;—shall draw them again elsewhere, in the strangest way.

Off Ushant some naval thunder is heard. In the course of which did our young Prince, Duke de Chartres, “hide in the hold”; or did he materially, by active heroism, contribute to the victory? Alas, by a second edition, we learn that there was no victory; or that English Keppel had it.[41] Our poor young Prince gets his Opera plaudits changed into mocking tehees; and cannot become Grand-Admiral,—the source to him of woes which one may call endless.

Woes also for Ville de Paris, the Leviathan of ships! English Rodney has clutched it, and led it home, with the rest; so successful was his “new manœuvre of breaking the enemy’s line.”[42]It seems as if, according to Louis XV, “France were never to have a Navy.” Brave Suffren must return from Hyder Ally and the Indian Waters; with small result; yet with great glory for “six” non-defeats; —which indeed, with such seconding as he had, one may reckon heroic. Let the old sea-hero rest now, honoured of France, in his native Cevennes mountains; send smoke, not of gunpowder, but mere culinary smoke, through the old chimneys of the Castle of Jalès,—which one day, in other hands, shall have other fame. Brave Lapérouse shall by and by lift anchor, or philanthropic Voyage of Discovery; for the King knows Geography.[43] But alas this also will not prosper: the brave Navigator goes, and returns not; the Seekers search far seas for him in vain. He has vanished trackless into blue Immensity; and only some mournful mysterious shadow of him hovers long in all heads and hearts.

Neither, while the War yet lasts, will Gibraltar surrender. Not though Crillon, Nassau-Siegen, with the ablest projectors extant, are there; and Prince Condé and Prince d’Artois have hastened to help. Wondrous leather-roofed Floating-batteries, set afloat by French-Spanish Pacte de Famille, give gallant summons: to which, nevertheless, Gibraltar answers Plutonically, with mere torrents of red-hot iron,— as if stone Calpe had become a throat of the Pit; and utters such as Doom’s-blast of a No, as all men must credit.[44]

And so, with this loud explosion, the noise of War has ceased; an Age of Benevolence may hope, for ever. Our noble volunteers of Freedom have returned, to be her missionaries. Lafayette, as the matchless of his time, glitters in the Versailles Œil-de-Bœuf; has his Bust set up in the Paris Hôtel-de-Ville. Democracy stands inexpugnable, immeasurable, in her New World; has even a foot lifted towards the Old;— and our French Finances, little strengthened by such work, are in no healthy way.

What to do with the Finances? This indeed is the great question: a small but most black weather-symptom, which no radiance of universal hope can cover. We saw Turgot cast forth from the Controllership, with shrieks,—for want of a Fortunatus’ Purse. As little could M. de Clugny manage the duty; or indeed do anything, but consume his wages; attain “a place in History,” where as an ineffectual shadow thou beholdest him still lingering;—and let the duty manage itself. Did Genevese Necker possess such a Purse then? He possessed banker’s skill, banker’s honesty; credit of all kinds, for he had written Academic Prize Essays, struggle for India Companies, given dinners to Philosophes, and “realized a fortune in twenty years.” He possessed further a taciturnity and solemnity; of depth, or else of dullness. How singular for Celadon Gibbon, false swain as he had proved; whose father, keeping most probably his own gig, “would not hear of such a union,”—to find now his forsaken Demoiselle Curchod sitting in the high places of the world, as Minister’s Madame, and “Necker not jealous!”[45]

A new young Demoiselle, one day to be famed as a Madame and De Staël,— was romping about the knees of the Decline and Fall: the lady Necker founds Hospitals; gives solemn Philosophe dinner-parties, to cheer her exhausted Controller-General. Strange things have happened: by clamour of Philosophism, management of Marquis de Pezay, and Poverty constraining even Kings. And so Necker, Atlas-like, sustains the burden of the Finances, for five years long.[46]Without wages, for he refused such; cheered only by Public Opinion, and the ministering of his noble Wife. With many thoughts in him, it is hoped;—which however he is shy of uttering. His Compte Rendu, published by the royal permission, fresh sign of a New Era, shows wonders;—which what but the genius of some Atlas-Necker can prevent from becoming portents? In Necker’s head too there is a whole pacific French Revolution, of its kind; and in that taciturn dull depth, or deep dullness, ambition enough.

Meanwhile, alas, his Fortunatus’ Purse turns out to be little other than the old “vectigal of Parsimony.” Nay, he too has to produce his scheme of taxing: Clergy, Noblesse to be taxed; Provincial Assemblies, and the rest,—like a mere Turgot! The expiring M. de Maurepas must gyrate one other time. Let Necker also depart; not unlamented.

Great in a private station, Necker looks on from the distance; abiding his time. “Eighty thousand copies” of his new Book, which he calls Administration des Finances. will be sold in a few days. He is gone; but shall return, and that more than once, borne by a whole shouting Nation. Singular Controller-General of the Finances; once Clerk in Thelusson’s Bank!

Chapter VI: Windbags

So marches the world, in this its Paper Age, or Era of Hope. Not without obstructions, war-explosions; which however, heard from such distance, are little other than a cheerful marching-music. If indeed that dark living chaos of Ignorance and Hunger, five and twenty million strong, under your feet,—were to begin playing!

For the present, however, consider Longchamp; now when Lent is ending, and the glory of Paris and France has gone forth, as in annual wont. Not to assist at Tenebris Masses, but to sun itself and show itself, and salute the young Spring.[47] Manifold, bright-tinted, glittering with gold; all through the Bois de Boulogne, in longdrawn variegated rows;—like longdrawn living flower-borders, tulips, dahlias, lilies of the valley; all in their moving flower-pots (of newgilt carriages): pleasure of the eye, and pride of life! So rolls and dances the Procession: steady, of firm assurance, as if it rolled on adamant and the foundations of the world: not on mere heraldic parchment,—under which smoulders a lake of fire. Dance on, ye foolish ones; ye sought not wisdom, neither have ye found it. Ye and your fathers have sown the wind, ye shall reap the whirlwind. Was it not, from of old, written: The wages of sin is death?

But at Longchamp, as elsewhere, we remark for one thing, that dame and cavalier are waited on each by a kind of human familiar, named jokei. Little elf, or imp; though young, already withered; with its withered air of premature vice, of knowingness, of completed elf-hood: useful in various emergencies. The name jokei (jockey) comes from the English; as the thing also fancies that it does. Our Anglomania, in fact, is grown considerable; prophetic of much. If France is to be free, why shall she not, now when mad war is hushed, love neighbouring Freedom? Cultivated men, your Dukes de Liancourt, de la Rochefoucault admire the English Constitution, the English National Character; would import what of it they can.

Of what is lighter, especially if it be light as wind, how much easier the freightage! Non-Admiral Duke de Chartres (not yet d’Orléans or Égalité) flies to and fro across the Strait; importing English Fashions: this he, as hand-and-glove with an English Prince of Wales, is surely qualified to do. Carriages and saddles; top-boots and rédingotes, as we call riding-coats. Nay the very mode of riding: for now no man on a level with his age but will trot à l’Anglaise, rising in the stirrups; scornful of the old sitfast method, in which, according to Shakespeare, “butter and eggs” go to market. Also, he can urge the fervid wheels, this brave Chartres of ours; no whip in Paris is rasher and surer than the unprofessional one of Monseigneur.

Elf jokeis, we have seen; but see now real Yorkshire jockeys, and what they ride on, and train: English racers for French Races. These likewise we owe first (under the Providence of the Devil) to Monseigneur. Prince d’Artois also has his stud of racers. Prince d’Artois has withal the strangest horseleech: a moon-struck, much-enduring individual, of Neuchâtel in Switzerland,—named Jean Paul Marat. A problematic Chevalier d’Eon, now in petticoats, now in breeches, is no less problematic in London than in Paris; and causes bets and lawsuits. Beautiful days of international communion! Swindlery and Blackguardism have stretched hands across the Channel, and saluted mutually: on the race-course of Vincennes or Sablons, behold, in English curricle-and-four, wafted glorious among the principalities and rascalities, an English Dr. Dodd,[48]—for whom also the too early gallows gapes.

Duke de Chartres was a young Prince of great promise, as young princes often are; which promise unfortunately has belied itself. With the huge Orléans Property, with Duke de Penthièvre for Father-in-law (and now the young Brother-in-law Lamballe killed by excesses),—he will one day be the richest man in France. Meanwhile, “his hair is all falling out, his blood is quite spoiled,”—by early transcendentalism of debauchery. Carbuncles stud his face; dark studs on a ground of burnished copper. A most signal failure, this young Prince! The stuff prematurely burnt out of him: little left but foul smoke and ashes of expiring sensualities: what might have been Thought, Insight, and even Conduct, gone now, or fast going,—to confused darkness, broken by bewildering dazzlements; to obstreperous crotchets; to activities which you may call semi-delirious, or even semi-galvanic! Paris affects to laugh at his charioteering; but he heeds not such laughter.

On the other hand, what a day, not of laughter, was that, when he threatened, for lucre’s sake, to lay sacrilegious hand on the Palais-Royal Garden![49] The flower-parterres shall be riven up; the Chestnut Avenues shall fall: time-honoured boscages, under which the Opera Hamadryads were wont to wander, not inexorable to men. Paris moans aloud. Philidor, from his Café de la Régence, shall no longer look on greenness; the loungers and losels of the world, where now shall they haunt? In vain is moaning. The axe glitters; the sacred groves fall crashing,—for indeed Monseigneur was short of money: the Opera Hamadryads fly with shrieks. Shriek not, ye Opera Hamadryads; or not as those that have no comfort. He will surround your Garden with new edifices and piazzas: though narrowed, it shall be replanted; dizened with hydraulic jets, cannon which the sun fires at noon; things bodily, things spiritual, such as man has not imagined;—and in the Palais-Royal shall again, and more than ever, be the Sorcerer’s Sabbath and Satan-at-Home of our Planet.

What will not mortals attempt? From remote Annonay in the Vivarais, the Brothers Montgolfier send up their paper-dome, filled with the smoke of burnt wool.[50]The Vivarais Provincial Assembly is to be prorogued this same day: Vivarais Assembly-members applaud, and the shouts of congregated men. Will victorious Analysis scale the very Heavens then?

Paris hears with eager wonder; Paris shall ere long see. From Réveillon’s Paper-warehouse there, in the Rue St. Antoine (a noted Warehouse),—the new Montgolfier air-ship launches itself. Ducks and poultry have been borne skyward: but now shall men be borne.[51] Nay, Chemist Charles thinks of hydrogen and glazed silk. Chemist Charles will himself ascend, from the Tuileries Garden; Montgolfier solemnly cutting the cord. By Heaven, this Charles does also mount, he and another! Ten times ten thousand hearts go palpitating; all tongues are mute with wonder and fear;—till a shout, like the voice of seas, rolls after him, on his wild way. He soars, he dwindles upwards; has become a mere gleaming circlet,—like some turgotine snuffbox, what we call “Turgotine-Platitude”; like some new daylight Moon! Finally he descends; welcomed by the universe. Duchess Polignac, with a party, is in the Bois de Boulogne, waiting; though it is drizzly winter, the 1st of December, 1783. The whole chivalry of France, Duke de Chartres foremost, gallops to receive him.[52]

Beautiful invention; mounting heavenward, so beautifully,—so unguidably! Emblem of much, and of our Age of Hope itself; which shall mount, specifically-light, majestically in the same manner; and hover,—tumbling whither Fate will. Well if it do not, Pilâtre-like, explode; and demount all the more tragically!—So, riding on windbags, will men scale the Empyrean.

Or observe Herr Doctor Mesmer, in his spacious Magnetic Halls. Long-stoled he walks; reverend, glancing upwards, as in rapt commerce; an Antique Egyptian Hierophant in this new age. Soft music flit; breaking fitfully the sacred stillness. Round their Magnetic Mystery, which to the eye is mere tubs of water,—sit breathless, rod in hand, the circles of Beauty and Fashion, each circle a living circular Passion-Flower: expecting the magnetic afflatus, and new-manufactured Heaven-on-Earth. O women, O men, great is your infidel-faith! A Parlementary Duport, a Bergasse, D’Espréménil we notice there; Chemist Berthollet too,—on the part of Monseigneur de Chartres.

Had not the Academy of Sciences, with its Baillys, Franklins, Lavoisiers, interfered! But it did interfere.[53] Mesmer may pocket his hard money, and withdraw. Let him walk silent by the shore of the Bodensee, by the ancient town of Constance; meditating on much. For so, under the strangest new vesture, the old great truth (since no vesture can hide it) begins again to be revealed: That man is what we call a miraculous creature, with miraculous power over men; and, on the whole, with such a Life in him, and such a World round him, as victorious Analysis, with her Physiologies, Nervous-systems, Physic and Metaphysic, will never completely name, to say nothing of explaining. Wherein also the Quack shall, in all ages, come in for his share.

Chapter VII: Contrat Social

In such succession of singular prismatic tints, flush after flush suffusing our horizon, does the Era of Hope dawn on towards fulfilment. Questionable! As indeed, with an Era of Hope that rests on mere universal Benevolence, victorious Analysis, Vice cured of its deformity; and, in the long run, on Twenty-five dark savage Millions, looking up, in hunger and weariness, to that Ecce-signum of theirs “forty feet high,”— how could it be but questionable?

Through all time, if we read aright, sin was, is, will be, the parent of misery. This land calls itself most Christian, and has crosses and cathedrals; but its High-priest is some Roche-Aymon, some Necklace-Cardinal Louis de Rohan. The voice of the poor, through long years, ascends inarticulate, in Jacqueries, meal-mobs; low-whimpering of infinite moan: unheeded of the Earth; not unheeded of Heaven. Always moreover where the Millions are wretched, there are the Thousands straitened, unhappy; only the Units can flourish; or say rather, be ruined the last. Industry, all noosed and haltered, as if it were some beast of chase for the mighty hunters of this world to bait, and cut slices from,—cries passionately to these its well-paid guides and watchers, not, Guide me; but, Laissez faire, Leave me alone of your guidance! What market has Industry in this France? For two things there may be market and demand: for the coarser kind of field-fruits, since the Millions will live: for the finer kinds of luxury and spicery,—of multiform taste, from opera-melodies down to racers and courtesans; since the Units will be amused. It is at bottom but a mad state of things.

To mend and remake all which we have, indeed, victorious Analysis. Honour to victorious Analysis; nevertheless, out of the Workshop and Laboratory, what thing was victorious Analysis yet known to make? Detection of incoherences, mainly; destruction of the incoherent. From of old, Doubt was but half a magician; she evokes the spectres which she cannot quell. We shall have “endless vortices of froth-logic”; whereon first words, and then things, are whirled and swallowed. Remark, accordingly, as acknowledged grounds of Hope, at bottom mere precursors of Despair, this perpetual theorizing about Man, the Mind of Man, Philosophy of Government, Progress of the Species, and such like; the main thinking furniture of every head. Time, and so many Montesquieus, Mablys, spokesmen of Time, have discovered innumerable things: and now has not Jean Jacques promulgated his new Evangel of a Contrat Social; explaining the whole mystery of Government, and how it is contracted and bargained for,—to universal satisfaction? Theories of Government! Such have been, and will be; in ages of decadence. Acknowledge them in their degree; as processes of Nature, who does nothing in vain; as steps in her great process. Meanwhile, what theory is so certain as this, That all theories, were they never so earnest, painfully elaborated, are, and, by the very conditions of them, must be incomplete, questionable, and even false? Thou shalt know that this Universe is, what it professes to be, an infinite one. Attempt not to swallow it, for thy logical digestion; be thankful, if skilfully planting down this and the other fixed pillar in the chaos, thou prevent its swallowing thee. That a new young generation has exchanged the Sceptic Creed, What shall I believe? for passionate Faith in this Gospel according to Jean Jacques, is a further step in the business; and betokens much.

Blessed also is Hope; and always from the beginning there was some Millennium prophesied; Millennium of Holiness; but (what is notable) never till this New Era, any Millennium of mere Ease and plentiful Supply. In such prophesied Lubberland, of Happiness, Benevolence, and Vice cured of its deformity, trust not, my friends! Man is not what one calls a happy animal; his appetite for sweet victual is so enormous. How, in this wild Universe, which storms in on him, infinite, vague-menacing, shall poor man find, say not happiness, but existence, and footing to stand on, if it be not by girding himself together for continual endeavour and endurance? Woe, if in his heart there dwelt no devout Faith; if the word Duty had lost its meaning for him! For as to this of Sentimentalism, so useful for weeping with over romances and on pathetic occasions, it otherwise verily will avail nothing; nay less. The healthy heart that said to itself, “How healthy am I!” was already fallen into the fatallest sort of disease. Is not Sentimentalism twin-sister to Cant, if not one and the same with it? Is not Cant the materia prima of the Devil; from which all falsehoods, imbecilities, abominations body themselves; from which no true thing can come? For Cant is itself properly a double-distilled Lie; the second-power of a Lie.

And now if a whole Nation fall into that? In such case, I answer, infallibly they will return out of it! For life is no cunningly-devised deception or self-deception: it is a great truth that thou art alive, that thou hast desires, necessities; neither can these subsist and satisfy themselves on delusions, but on fact. To fact, depend on it, we shall come back: to such fact, blessed or cursed, as we have wisdom for. The lowest, least blessed fact one knows of, on which necessitous mortals have ever based themselves, seems to be the primitive one of Cannibalism: That I can devour Thee. What if such Primitive Fact were precisely the one we had (with our improved methods) to revert to, and begin anew from!

Chapter VIII: Printed Paper

In such a practical France, let the theory of Perfectibility say what it will, discontents cannot be wanting: your promised Reformation is so indispensable; yet it comes not; who will begin it—with himself ? Discontent with what is around us, still more with what is above us, goes on increasing; seeking ever new vents.

Of Street Ballads, of Epigrams that from of old tempered Despotism, we need not speak. Nor of Manuscript Newspapers (Nouvelles à la main) do we speak. Bachaumont and his journeymen and followers may close those “thirty volumes of scurrilous eavesdropping,” and quit that trade; for at length if not liberty of the Press, there is licence. Pamphlets can be surreptitiously vended and read in Paris, did they even bear to be “Printed at Pekin.” We have a Courrier de l’Europe in those years, regularly published at London; by a De Morande, whom the guillotine has not yet devoured. There too an unruly Linguet, still unguillotined, when his own country has become too hot for him, and his brother Advocates have cast him out, can emit his hoarse wailings, and Bastille Dévoilée (Bastille Unveiled). Loquacious Abbé Raynal, at length, has his wish; sees the Histoire Philosophique, with its “lubricity,” unveracity, loose loud eleutheromaniac rant (contributed, they say, by Philosophedom at large, though in the Abbé’s name, and to his glory), burnt by the common hangman;—and sets out on his travels as a martyr. It was the Edition of 1781; perhaps the last notable Book that had such fire-beatitude,—the hangman discovering now that it did not serve.

Again, in Courts of Law, with their money-quarrels, divorce-cases, wheresoever a glimpse into the household existence can be had, what indications! The Parlements of Besançon and Aix ring, audible to all France, with the amours and destinies of a young Mirabeau. He, under the nurture of a “Friend of Men,” has, in State Prisons, in marching Regiments, Dutch Authors’-garrets, and quite other scenes, “been for twenty years learning to resist despotism”: despotism of men, and alas also of gods. How, beneath this rose-coloured veil of Universal Benevolence and Astraea Redux, is the sanctuary of Home so often a dreary void, or a dark contentious Hell-on-Earth! The old Friend of Men has his own divorce-case too; and at times, “his whole family but one” under lock and key: he writes much about reforming and enfranchising the world; and for his own private behoof, he has needed sixty Lettres-de-Cachet. A man of insight too; with resolution, even with manful principle: but in such an element, inward and outward; which he could not rule, but only madden. Edacity, rapacity;—quite contrary to the finer sensibilities of the heart! Fools, that expect your verdant Millennium, and nothing but Love and Abundance, brooks running wine, winds whispering music,—with the whole ground and basis of your existence champed into a mud of Sensuality; which, daily growing deeper, will soon have no bottom but the Abyss!

Or consider that unutterable business of the Diamond Necklace. Red-hatted Cardinal Louis de Rohan; Sicilian jailbird Balsamo Cagliostro; milliner Dame de Lamotte, “with a face of some piquancy”: the highest Church Dignitaries waltzing, in Walpurgis Dance, with quack-prophets, pickpurses and public women;— a whole Satan’s Invisible World displayed; working there continually under the daylight visible one; the smoke of its torment going up for ever! The Throne has been brought into scandalous collision with the Treadmill. Astonished Europe rings with the mystery for ten months; sees only lie unfold itself from lie; corruption among the lofty and the low, gulosity, credulity, imbecility, strength nowhere but in the hunger. Weep, fair Queen, thy first tears of unmixed wretchedness! Thy fair name has been tarnished by foul breath; irremediably while life lasts. No more shalt thou be loved and pitied by living hearts, till a new generation has been born, and thy own heart lies cold, cured of all its sorrows.—The Epigrams henceforth become, not sharp and bitter; but cruel, atrocious, unmentionable. On that 31st of May, 1786, a miserable Cardinal Grand-Almoner Rohan, on issuing from his Bastille, is escorted by hurrahing crowds: unloved he, and worthy of no love; but important since the Court and Queen are his enemies.[54]

How is our bright Era of Hope dimmed; and the whole sky growing bleak with signs of hurricane and earthquake! It is a doomed world: gone all “obedience that made men free”; fast going the obedience that made men slaves,—at least to one another. Slaves only of their own lusts they now are, and will be. Slaves of sin; inevitable also of sorrow. Behold the mouldering mass of Sensuality and Falsehood; round which plays foolishly, itself a corrupt phosphorescence, some glimmer of Sentimentalism;—and over all, rising, as Ark of their Covenant, the grim Patibulary Fork “forty feet high”; which also is now nigh rotted. Add only that the French Nation distinguishes itself among Nations by the characteristic of Excitability; with the good, but also with the perilous evil, which belongs to that. Rebellion, explosion, of unknown extent is to be calculated on. There are, as Chesterfield wrote, “all the symptoms I have ever met with in History!”

Shall we say then: Woe to Philosophism, that it destroyed Religion, what it called “extinguishing the abomination (écraser l’infame )”? Woe rather to those that made the Holy an abomination, and extinguishable; woe to all men that live in such a time of world-abomination and world-destruction! Nay, answer the Courtiers, it was Turgot, it was Necker, with their mad innovating; it was the Queen’s want of etiquette; it was he, it was she, it was that. Friends! It was every scoundrel that had lived, and quacklike pretended to be doing, and been only eating and mis doing, in all provinces of life, as Shoeblack or as Sovereign Lord, each in his degree, from the time of Charlemagne and earlier. All this (for be sure no falsehood perishes, but is as seed sown out to grow) has been storing itself for thousands of years; and now the account-day has come. And rude will the settlement be: of wrath laid up against the day of wrath. O my Brother, be not thou a Quack! Die rather, if thou wilt take counsel; ’tis but dying once, and thou are quit of it for ever. Cursed is that trade; and bears curses, thou knowest not how, long ages after thou are departed, and the wages thou hadst are all consumed; nay, as the ancient wise have written,—through Eternity itself, and is verily marked in the Doom-Book of a God!

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick. And yet, as we said, Hope is but deferred; not abolished, not abolishable. It is very notable, and touching, how this same Hope does still light onwards the French Nation through all its wild destines. For we shall still find Hope shining, be it for fond invitation, be it for anger and menace; as a mild heavenly light it shone; as a red conflagration it shines: burning sulphurous-blue, through darkest regions of Terror, it still shines; and goes not out at all, since Desperatíon itself is a kind of Hope. Thus is our Era still to be named of Hope, though in the saddest sense,—when there is nothing left but Hope.

But if any one would know summarily what a Pandora’s Box lies there for the opening, he may see it in what by its nature is the symptom of all symptoms, the surviving Literature of the Period. Abbé Raynal, with his lubricity and loud loose rant, has spoken his word; and already the fast-hastening generation responds to another. Glance at Beaumarchais’ Mariage de Figaro; which now (in 1784), after difficulty enough, has issued on the stage; and “runs its hundred nights,” to the admiration of all men. By what virtue or internal vigour it so ran, the reader of our day will rather wonder:—and indeed will know so much the better that it flattered some pruriency of the time; that it spoke what all were feeling, and longing to speak. Small substance in that Figaro: thin wiredrawn intrigues, thin wiredrawn sentiments and sarcasms; a thing lean, barren; yet which winds and whisks itself, as through a wholly mad universe, adroitly, with a high-sniffing air: wherein each, as was hinted, which is the grand secret, may see some image of himself, and of his own state and ways. So it runs its hundred nights, and all France runs with it; laughing applause. If the soliloquizing Barber ask: “What has your Lordship done to earn all this?” and can only answer: “You took the trouble to be born (Vous vous êtes donné la peine de naître) ,all men must laugh: and a gay horseracing Anglomaniac Noblesse loudest of all. For how can small books have a great danger in them? asks the Sieur Caron; and fancies his thin epigram may be a kind of reason. Conqueror of a golden fleece, by giant smuggling; tamer of helldogs, in the Parlement Maupeou; and finally crowned Orpheus in the Théâtre Français, Beaumarchais has now culminated, and unites the attributes of several demigods. We shall meet him once again, in the course of his decline.

Still more significant are two Books produced on the eve of the ever-memorable Explosion itself, and read eagerly by all the world: Saint-Pierre’s Paul et Virginie, and Louvet’s Chevalier de Faublas. Noteworthy Books; which may be considered as the last-speech of old Feudal France. In the first there rises melodiously, as it were, the wail of a moribund world: everywhere wholesome Nature in unequal conflict with diseased perfidious Art; cannot escape from it in the lowest hut, in the remotest island of the sea. Ruin and death must strike down the loved one; and, what is most significant of all, death even here not by necessity but by etiquette. What a world of prurient corruption lies visible in that super-sublime of modesty! Yet, on the whole, our good Saint-Pierre is musical, poetical, though most morbid: we will call his Book the swan-song of old dying France.

Louvet’s, again, let no man account musical. Truly, if this wretched Faublas is a death-speech, it is one under the gallows, and by a felon that does not repent. Wretched cloaca of a Book; without depth even as a cloaca! What “picture of French society” is here? Picture properly of nothing, if not of the mind that gave it out as some sort of picture. Yet symptom of much; above all, of the world that could nourish itself thereon.

Book III: The Parlement of Paris

Chapter I: Dishonoured Bills

While the unspeakable confusion is everywhere weltering within, and through so many cracks in the surface sulphur-smoke is issuing, the question arises: Through what crevice will the main Explosion carry itself ? Through which of the old craters or chimneys; or must it, at once, form a new crater for itself ? In every Society are such chimneys, are Institutions serving as such: even Constantinople is not without its safety-valves; there too Discontent can vent itself,—in material fire; by the number of nocturnal conflagrations, or of hanged bakers, the Reigning Power can read the signs of the times, and change course according to these.

We may say that this French Explosion will doubtless first try all the old Institutions of escape; for by each of these there is, or at least there used to be, some communication with the interior deep; they are national Institutions in virtue of that. Had they even become personal Institutions, and what we can call choked up from their original uses, there nevertheless must the impediment be weaker than elsewhere. Through which of them then? An observer might have guessed: Through the Law Parlements; above all, through the Parlement of Paris.

Men, though never so thickly clad in dignities, sit not inaccessible to the influences of their time; especially men whose life is business; who at all turns, were it even from behind judgement-seats, have come in contact with the actual workings of the world. The Counsellor of Parlement, the President himself, who has bought his place with hard money that he might be looked up to by his fellow-creatures, how shall he, in all Philosophe-soirées, and saloons of elegant culture, become notable as a Friend of Darkness? Among the Paris Long-robes there may be more than one patriotic Malesherbes, whose rule is conscience and the public good; there are clearly more than one hot-headed D’Espréménil, to whose confused thought any loud reputation of the Brutus sort may seem glorious. The Lepelletiers, Lamoignons have titles and wealth; yet, at Court, are only styled “Noblesse of the Robe.” There are Duports of deep scheme; Fréteaus, Sabatiers, of incontinent tongue: all nursed more or less on the milk of the Contrat Social. Nay, for the whole Body, is not this patriotic opposition also a fighting for oneself ? Awake, Parlement of Paris, renew thy long warfare! Was not the Parlement Maupeou abolished with ignominy? Not now hast thou to dread a Louis XIV, with the crack of his whip, and his Olympian looks; not now a Richelieu and Bastilles: no, the whole Nation is behind thee. Thou too (O heavens!) mayst become a Political Power; and with the shakings of thy horse-hair wig, shake principalities and dynasties, like a very Jove with his ambrosial curls!

Light old M. de Maurepas, since the end of 1781, has been fixed in the frost of death: “Never more,” said the good Louis, “shall I hear his step in the room there overhead”; his light jestings and gyratings are at an end. No more can the importunate reality be hidden by pleasant wit, and to-day’s evil be deftly rolled over upon to-morrow. The morrow itself has arrived; and now nothing but a solid phlegmatic M. de Vergennes sits there, in dull matter of fact, like some dull punctual Clerk (which he originally was); admits what cannot be denied, let the remedy come whence it will. In him is no remedy; only clerklike “dispatch of business” according to routine. The poor King, grown older yet hardly more experienced, must himself, with such no-faculty as he has, begin governing; wherein also his Queen will give help. Bright Queen, with her quick clear glances and impulses; clear, and even noble; but all-too superficial, vehement-shallow, for that work! To govern France were such a problem; and now it has grown wellnigh too hard to govern even the Œil-de-Bœuf. For if a distressed People has its cry, so likewise, and more audibly, has a bereaved Court. To the Œilde-Bœuf it remains inconceivable how, in a France of such resources, the Horn of Plenty should run dry: did it not use to flow? Nevertheless Necker, with his revenue of parsimony, has “suppressed above six hundred places,” before the Courtiers could oust him; parsimonious finance-pedant as he was. Again, a military pedant, Saint-Germain, with his Prussian manœuvres; with his Prussian notions, as if merit and not coat-of-arms should be the rule of promotion, has disaffected military men; the Mousquetaires, with much else are suppressed: for he too was one of your suppressors; and unsettling and oversetting, did mere mischief—to the Œil-de-Bœuf. Complaints abound; scarcity, anxiety: it is a changed Œil-de-Bœuf. Besenval says, already in these years (1781) there was such a melancholy (such a tristesse) about Court, compared with former days, as made it quite dispiriting to look upon.

No wonder that the Œil-de-Bœuf feels melancholy, when you are suppressing its places! Not a place can be suppressed, but some purse is the lighter for it; and more than one heart the heavier; for did it not employ the working-classes too,—manufacturers, male and female, of laces, essences; of Pleasure generally, whosoever could manufacture Pleasure? Miserable economies; never felt over Twenty-five Millions! So, however, it goes on: and is not yet ended. Few years more and the Wolf-hounds shall fall suppressed, the Bear-hounds, the Falconry; places shall fall, thick as autumnal leaves. Duke de Polignac demonstrates, to the complete silencing of ministerial logic, that his place cannot be abolished; then gallantly, turning to the Queen, surrenders it, since her Majesty so wishes. Less chivalrous was Duke de Coigny, and yet not luckier: “We got into a real quarrel, Coigny and I,” said King Louis; “but if he had even struck me, I could not have blamed him.”[55] In regard to such matters there can be but one opinion. Baron Besenval, with that frankness of speech which stamps the independent man, plainly assures her Majesty that “it is frightful (a freux); you go to bed, and are not sure but you shall rise impoverished on the morrow: one might as well be in Turkey.” It is indeed a dog’s life.

How singular this perpetual distress of the royal treasury! And yet it is a thing not more incredible than undeniable. A thing mournfully true: the stumbling-block on which all Ministers successively stumble, and fall. Be it “want of fiscal genius,” or some far other want, there is the palpablest discrepancy between Revenue and Expenditure; a Deficit of the Revenue: you must “choke (combler) the Deficit,” or else it will swallow you! This is the stern problem; hopeless seemingly as squaring of the circle. Controller Joly de Fleury, who succeeded Necker, could do nothing with it; nothing but propose loans, which were tardily filled up; impose new taxes, unproductive of money, productive of clamour and discontent. As little could Controller d’Ormesson do, or even less; for if Joly maintained himself beyond year and day, D’Ormesson reckons only by months: till “the King purchased Rambouillet without consulting him,” which he took as a hint to withdraw. And so, towards the end of 1783, matters threaten to come to a still-stand. Vain seems human ingenuity. In vain has our newly-devised “Council of Finances” struggled, our Intendants of Finance, Controller-General of Finances: there are unhappily no Finances to control. Fatal paralysis invades the social movement; clouds, of blindness or of blackness, envelop us: are we breaking down, then, into the black horrors of NATIONAL BANKRUPTCY?

Great is Bankruptcy: the great bottomless gulf into which all Falsehoods, public and private, do sink, disappearing; whither, from the first origin of them, they were all doomed. For Nature is true and not a lie. No lie you can speak or act but it will come, after longer or shorter circulation, like a Bill drawn on Nature’s Reality, and be presented there for payment,—with the answer, No e fects. Pity only that it often had so long a circulation: that the original forger were so seldom he who bore the final smart of it! Lies, and the burden of evil they bring, are passed on; shifted from back to back, and from rank to rank; and so land ultimately on the dumb lowest rank, who with spade and mattock, with sore heart and empty wallet, daily come in contact with reality, and can pass the cheat no further.

Observe nevertheless how, by a just compensating law, if the lie with its burden (in this confused whirlpool of Society) sinks and is shifted ever downwards, then in return the distress of it rises ever upwards and upwards. Whereby, after the long pining and demi-starvation of those Twenty Millions, a Duke de Coigny and his Majesty come also to have their “real quarrel.” Such is the law of just Nature; bringing, though at long intervals, and were it only by Bankruptcy, matters round again to the mark.

But with a Fortunatus’ Purse in its pocket, through what length of time might not almost any Falsehood last! Your Society, your Household, practical or spiritual Arrangement, is untrue, unjust, offensive to the eye of God and man. Nevertheless its hearth is warm, its larder well replenished: the innumerable Swiss of Heaven, with a kind of natural loyalty, gather round it; will prove, by pamphleteering, musketeering, that it is a truth; or if not an unmixed (unearthly, impossible) Truth, then better, a wholesomely attempered one (as wind is to the shorn lamb), and works well. Changed outlook, however, when purse and larder grow empty! Was your Arrangement so true, so accordant to Nature’s ways, then how, in the name of wonder, has Nature, with her infinite bounty, come to leave it famishing there? To all men, to all women and all children, it is not indubitable that your Arrangement was false. Honour to Bankruptcy; ever righteous on the great scale, though in detail it is so cruel! Under all Falsehoods it works, unweariedly mining. No Falsehood, did it rise heaven-high and cover the world, but Bankruptcy, one day, will sweep it down, and make us free of it.

Chapter II: Controller Calonne

Under such circumstances of tristesse, obstruction and sick languor, when to an exasperated Court it seems as if fiscal genius had departed from among men, what apparition could be welcomer than that of M. de Calonne? Calonne, a man of indisputable genius; even fiscal genius, more or less; of experience both in managing Finance and Parlements, for he has been Intendant at Metz, at Lille; King’s Procureur at Douai. A man of weight, connected with the moneyed classes; of unstained name,—if it were not some peccadillo (of showing a Client’s Letter) in that old D’Aiguillon-Lachalotais business, as good as forgotten now. He has kinsmen of heavy purse, felt on the Stock Exchange. Our Foulons, Berthiers intrigue for him:—old Foulon, who has now nothing to do but intrigue; who is known and even seen to be what they call a scoundrel; but of unmeasured wealth; who, from Commissariat-clerk which he once was, may hope, some think, if the game go right, to be Minister himself one day.

Such propping and backing has M. de Calonne; and then intrinsically such qualities! Hope radiates from his face; persuasion hangs on his tongue. For all straits he has present remedy, and will make the world roll on wheels before him. On the 3rd of November 1783, the Œil-de-Bœuf rejoices in its new Controller-General. Calonne also shall have trial; Calonne also, in his way, as Turgot and Necker had done in theirs, shall forward the consummation; suffuse, with one other flush of brilliancy, our now too leaden-coloured Era of Hope, and wind it up—into fulfilment.

Great, in any case, if the felicity of the Œil-de-Bœuf. Stinginess has fled from these royal abodes: suppression ceases; your Besenval may go peaceably to sleep, sure that he shall awake unplundered. Smiling Plenty, as if conjured by some enchanter, has returned; scatters contentment from her new-flowing horn. And mark what suavity of manners! A bland smile distinguishes our Controller: to all men he listens with an air of interest, nay of anticipation; makes their own wish clear to themselves, and grants it; or at least, grants conditional promise of it. “I fear this is a matter of difficulty,” said her Majesty.—“Madame,” answered the Controller, “if it is but difficult, it is done; if it is impossible, it shall be done (se fera).” A man of such “facility” withal. To observe him in the pleasure-vortex of society, which none partakes of with more gusto, you might ask, When does he work? And yet his work, as we see, is never behindhand; above all, the fruit of his work: ready-money. Truly a man of incredible facility; facile action, facile elocution, facile thought: how, in mild suasion, philosophic depth sparkles up from him, as mere wit and lambent sprightliness; and in her Majesty’s Soirées, with the weight of a world lying on him, he is the delight of men and women! By what magic does he accomplish miracles? By the only true magic, that of genius. Men name him “the Minister”; as indeed, when was there another such? Crooked things are become straight by him, rough places plain; and over the Œil-de-Bœuf there rests an unspeakable sunshine.

Nay, in seriousness, let no man say that Calonne had not genius: genius for Persuading; before all things, for Borrowing. With the skilfullest judicious appliances of underhand money, he keeps the Stock-Exchanges flourishing: so that Loan after Loan is filled up as soon as opened. “Calculators likely to know”[56] have calculated that he spent, in extraordinaries, “at the rate of one million daily”; which indeed is some fifty thousand pounds sterling: but did he not procure something with it; namely peace and prosperity, for the time being? Philosophedom grumbles and croaks; buys, as we said, 80,000 copies of Necker’s new Book: but Nonpareil Calonne, in her Majesty’s Apartment, with the glittering retinue of Dukes, Duchesses, and mere happy admiring faces, can let Necker and Philosophedom croak.

The misery is, such a time cannot last! Squandering, and Payment by Loan is no way to choke a Deficit. Neither is oil the substance for quenching conflagrations;—alas no, only for assuaging them, not permanently! To the Nonpareil himself, who wanted not insight, it is clear at intervals, and dimly certain at all time, that his trade is by nature temporary, growing daily more difficult; that changes incalculable lie at no great distance. Apart from financial Deficit, the world is wholly in such a newfangled humour; all things working loose from their old fastenings, toward new issues and combinations. There is not a dwarf jokei, a cropt Brutus’-head, or Anglomaniac horseman rising on his stirrups, that does not betoken change. But what then? The day, in any case, passes pleasantly; for the morrow, if the morrow come, there shall be counsel too. Once mounted (by munificence, suasion, magic of genius) high enough in favour with the Œil-de-Bœuf, with the King, Queen, Stock-Exchange, and so far as possible with all men, a Nonpareil Controller may hope to go careering through the Inevitable, in some unimagined way, as handsomely as another.

At all events, for these three miraculous years, it has been expedient heaped on expedient: till now, with such cumulation and height, the pile topples perilous. And here has this world’s wonder of a Diamond Necklace brought it at last to the clear verge of tumbling. Genius in that direction can no more: mounted high enough, or not mounted, we must fare forth. Hardly is poor Rohan, the Necklace-Cardinal, safely bestowed in the Auvergne Mountains, Dame de la Motte (unsafely) in the Salpétrière, and that mournful business hushed up, when our sanguine Controller once more astonishes the world. An expedient, unheard of for these hundred and sixty years, has been propounded; and, by dint of suasion (for his light audacity, his hope and eloquence are matchless) has been got adopted,—Convocation of the Notables.

Let notable persons, the actual or virtual rulers of their districts, be summoned from all sides of France; let a true tale, of his Majesty’s patriotic purposes and wretched pecuniary impossibilities, be suasively told them; and then the question put: What are we to do? Surely to adopt healing measures; such as the magic of genius will unfold; such as, once sanctioned by Notables, all Parlements and all men must, with more or less reluctance, submit to.

Chapter III: The Notables

Here then is verily a sign and wonder; visible to the whole world; bodeful of much. The Œil-de-Bœuf dolorously grumbles; were we not well as we stood,—quenching conflagrations by oil? Constitutional Philosophedom starts with joyful surprise; stares eagerly what the result will be. The public creditor, the public debtor, the whole thinking and thoughtless public have their several surprises, joyful or sorrowful. Count Mirabeau, who has got his matrimonial and other Lawsuits huddled up, better or worse; and works now in the dimmest element at Berlin; compiling Prussian Monarchies, Pamphlets On Cagliostro; writing, with pay, but not with honourable recognition, innumerable Dispatches for his Government,—scents or descries riches quarry from afar. He, like an eagle or vulture, or mixture of both, preens his wings for flight homewards.[57]

M. de Calonne has stretched out an Aaron’s Rod over France; miraculous; and is summoning quite unexpected things. Audacity and hope alternate in him with misgivings; though the sanguine-valiant side carries it. Anon he writes to an intimate friend, “Je me fais pitié à moi-même (I am an object of pity to myself)”; anon, invites some dedicating Poet or Poetaster to sing “this Assembly of the Notables, and the Revolution that is preparing.”[58] Preparing indeed; and a matter to be sung,—only not till we have seen it, and what the issue of it is. In deep obscure unrest, all things have so long gone rocking and swaying: will M. de Calonne, with this his alchemy of the Notables, fasten all together again, and get new revenues? Or wrench all asunder; so that it go no longer rocking and swaying, but clashing and colliding?

Be this as it may, in the bleak short days, we behold men of weight and influence threading the great vortex of French Locomotion, each on his several line, from all sides of France, towards the Château of Versailles: summoned thither de par le roi. There, on the 22nd day of February, 1787, they have met, and got installed: Notables to the number of a Hundred and Thirty-seven, as we count them name by name:[59] add Seven Princes of the Blood, it makes the round Gross of Notables, Men of the sword, men of the robe; Peers, dignified Clergy, Parlementary Presidents: divided into Seven Boards (Bureaus); under our Seven Princes of the Blood, Monsieur, D’Artois, Penthièvre, and the rest; among whom let not our new Duke d’Orléans (for, since 1785, he is Chartres no longer) be forgotten. Never yet made Admiral, and now turning the corner of his fortieth year, with spoiled blood and prospects; half-weary of a world which is more than half-weary of him, Monseigneur’s future is most questionable. Not in illumination and insight, not even in conflagration; but, as was said, “in dull smoke and ashes of outburnt sensualities,” does he live and digest. Sumptuosity and sordidness; revenge, life-weariness, ambition, darkness, putrescence; and, say, in sterling money, three hundred thousand a year,—were this poor Prince once to burst loose from his Court-moorings, to what regions, with what phenomena, might he not sail and drift! Happily as yet he “affects to hunt daily”; sits there, since he must sit, presiding that Bureau of his, with dull moon-visage, dull glassy eyes, as if it were a mere tedium to him.

We observe finally, that Count Mirabeau has actually arrived. He descends from Berlin, on the scene of action; glares into it with flashing sun-glance; discerns that it will do nothing for him. He had hoped these Notables might need a Secretary. They do need one; but have fixed on Dupont de Nemours; a man of smaller fame, but then of better;—who indeed, as his friends often hear, labours under this complaint, surely not a universal one, of having “five kings to correspond with.”[60] The pen of a Mirabeau cannot become an official one; nevertheless it remains a pen. In defect of Secretaryship, he sets to denouncing Stock-brokerage (Dénonciation de l’Agiotage); testifying, as his wont is, by loud bruit, that he is present and busy;—till, warned by friend Talleyrand, and even by Calonne himself underhand, that “a seventeenth Lettre-de-Cachet may be launched against him,” he timefully flits over the marches.

And now, in stately royal apartments, as Pictures of that time still represent them, our hundred and forty-four Notables sit organized; ready to hear and consider. Controller Calonne is dreadfully behindhand with his speeches, his preparatives; however, the man’s “facility of work” is known to us. For freshness of style, lucidity, ingenuity, largeness of view, that opening Harangue of his was unsurpassable:— had not the subject-matter been so appalling. A Deficit, concerning which accounts vary, and the Controller’s own account is not unquestioned; but which all accounts agree in representing as “enormous.” This is the epitome of our Controller’s difficulties; and then his means? Mere Turgotism; for thither, it seems, we must come at last: Provincial Assemblies; new Taxation; nay, strangest of all, new Landtax, what he calls Subvention Territoriale, from which neither Privileged nor Unprivileged, Noblemen, Clergy, nor Parlementeers, shall be exempt!

Foolish enough! These Privileged Classes have been used to tax; levying toll, tribute and custom, at all hands, while a penny was left: but to be themselves taxed? Of such Privileged persons, meanwhile, do these Notables, all but the merest fraction, consist. Headlong Calonne had given no heed to the “composition,” or judicious packing of them; but chosen such Notables as were really notable; trusting for the issue to offhand ingenuity, good fortune, and eloquence that never yet failed. Headlong Controller-General! Eloquence can do much, but not all. Orpheus, with eloquence grown rhythmic, musical (what we call Poetry), drew iron tears from the cheek of Pluto: but by what witchery of rhyme or prose wilt thou, from the pocket of Plutus, draw gold?

Accordingly, the storm that now rose and began to whistle round Calonne, first in these Seven Bureaus, and then on the outside of them, awakened by them, spreading wider and wider over all France, threatens to become unappeasable. A Deficit so enormous! Mismanagement, profusion is too clear. Peculation itself is hinted at; nay, Lafayette and others go so far as to speak it out, with attempts at proof. The blame of his Deficit our brave Calonne, as was natural, had endeavoured to shift from himself on his predecessors; not excepting even Necker. But now Necker vehemently denies; whereupon an “angry Correspondence,” which also finds its way into print.

In the Œil-de-Bœuf, and her Majesty’s private Apartments, an eloquent Controller, with his “Madame, if it is but difficult,” had been persuasive: but, alas, the cause is now carried elsewhither. Behold him, one of these sad days, in Monsieur’s Bureau; to which all the other Bureaus have sent deputies. He is standing at bay: alone; exposed to an incessant fire of questions, interpellations, objurgations, from those “hundred and thirty-seven” pieces of logic-ordnance,—what we may well call bouches à feu, fire-mouths literally! Never, according to Besenval, or hardly ever, had such display of intellect, dexterity, coolness, suasive eloquence, been made by man. To the raging play of so many firemouths he opposes nothing angrier than light-beams, self-possession and fatherly smiles. With the imperturbablest bland clearness, he, for five hours long, keeps answering the incessant volley of fiery captious questions, reproachful interpellations; in words prompt as lightning, quiet as light. Nay, the cross-fire too: such side-questions and incidental interpellations as, in the heat of the main-battle, he (having only one tongue) could not get answered; these also he takes up, at the first slake; answers even these.[61] Could blandest suasive eloquence have saved France, she were saved.

Heavy-laden Controller! In the Seven Bureaus seems nothing but hindrance: in Monsieur’s Bureau, a Loménie de Brienne, Archbishop of Toulouse, with an eye himself on the Controllership, stirs up the Clergy; there are meetings, underground intrigues. Neither from without anywhere comes sign of help or hope. For the Nation (where Mirabeau is now, with stentor-lungs, “denouncing Agio”) the Controller has hitherto done nothing, or less. For Philosophedom he has done as good as nothing,—sent out some scientific Lapérouse, or the like: and is he not in “angry correspondence” with its Necker? The very Œil-de-Bœuf looks questionable; a falling Controller has no friends. Solid M. de Vergennes, who with his phlegmatic judicious punctuality might have kept down many things, died the very week before these sorrowful Notables met. And now a Seal-keeper, Garde-des-Sceaux Miroménil is thought to be playing the traitor; spinning plots for Loménie-Brienne! Queen’s-Reader Abbé de Vermond, unloved individual, was Brienne’s creature, the work of his hands from the first: it may be feared the backstairs passage is open, the ground getting mined under our feet. Treacherous Garde-des-Sceaux Miroménil, at least, should be dismissed; Lamoignon, the eloquent Notable, a staunch man, with connexions, and even ideas, Parlement-President yet intent on reforming Parlements, were not he the right Keeper? So, for one, thinks busy Besenval; and, at dinner-table, rounds the same into the Controller’s ear,—who always, in the intervals of landlord-duties, listens to him as with charmed look, but answers nothing positive.[62]

Alas, what to answer? The force of private intrigue, and then also the force of public opinion, grows so dangerous, confused! Philosophedom sneers aloud, as if its Necker already triumphed. The gaping populace gapes over Wood-cuts or Copper-cuts; where, for example, a Rustic is represented convoking the Poultry of his barnyard, with this opening address: “Dear animals, I have assembled you to advise me what sauce I shall dress you with”; to which a Cock responding; “We don’t want to be eaten,” is checked by “You wander from the point (Vous vous écartez de la question).”[63] Laughter and logic; ballad-singer, pamphleteer; epigram and caricature: what wind of public opinion is this,—as if the Cave of the Winds were bursting loose! At nightfall, President Lamoignon steals over to the Controller’s; finds him “walking with large strides in his chamber, like one out of himself.”[64] With rapid confused speech the Controller begs M. de Lamoignon to give him “an advice.” Lamoignon candidly answers that, except in regard to his own anticipated Keepership, unless that would prove remedial, he really cannot take upon him to advise.

“On the Monday after Easter,” the 9th of April, 1787, a date one rejoices to verify, for nothing can excel the indolent falsehood of these Histoires and Mémoires,—“On the Monday after Easter, as I, Besenval, was riding towards Romainville to the Maréchal de Ségur’s, I met a friend on the Boulevards, who told me that M. de Calonne was out. A little further on came M. The Duke d’Orléans, dashing towards me, head to the wind” (trotting á l’Anglaise) “and confirmed the news.”[65] It is true news. Treacherous Garde-des-Sceaux Miroménil is gone, and Lamoignon is appointed in his room: but appointed for his own profit only, not for the Controller’s: “next day” the Controller also has had to move. A little longer he may linger near; be seen among the money-changers, and even “working in the Controller’s office,” where much lies unfinished: but neither will that hold. Too strong blows and beats this tempest of public opinion, of private intrigue, as from the Cave of all the Winds; and blows him (higher Authority giving sign) out of Paris and France,—over the horizon, into Invisibility, or outer Darkness.

Such destiny the magic of genius could not for ever avert. Ungrateful Œil-de-Bœuf ! Did he not miraculously rain gold manna on you; so that, as a Courtier said, “All the world held out its hand, and I held out my hat,”—for a time? Himself is poor; penniless, had not a “Financier’s widow in Lorraine” offered him, though he was turned of fifty, her hand and the rich purse it held. Dim henceforth shall be his activity, though unwearied: Letters to the King, Appeals, Prognostications; Pamphlets (from London), written with the old suasive facility; which however do not persuade. Luckily his widow’s purse fails not. Once, in a year or two, some shadow of him shall be seen hovering on the Northern Border, seeking election as National Deputy; but be sternly beckoned away. Dimmer then, far-borne over utmost European lands, in uncertain twilight of diplomacy, he shall hover, intriguing for “Exiled Princes,” and have adventures; be overset into the Rhine-stream and half-drowned, nevertheless save his papers dry. Unwearied, but in vain! In France he works miracles no more; shall hardly return thither to find a grave. Farewell, thou facile sanguine Controller-General, with thy light rash hand, thy suasive mouth of gold: worse men there have been, and better; but to thee also was allotted a task,— of raising the wind, and the winds; and thou hast done it.

But now, while Ex-Controller Calonne flies storm-driven over the horizon, in this singular way, what has become of the Controllership? It hangs vacant, one may say; extinct, like the Moon in her vacant interlunar cave. Two preliminary shadows, poor M. Fourqueux, poor M. Villedeuil, do hold, in quick succession, some simulacrum of it,[66]— as the new Moon will sometimes shine out with a dim preliminary old one in her arms. Be patient, ye Nobles! An actual new Controller is certain, and even ready; were the indispensable manœuvres but gone through. Long-headed Lamoignon, with Home-Secretary Breteuil, and Foreign Secretary Montmorin have exchanged looks; let these three once meet and speak. Who is it that is strong in the Queen’s favour, and the Abbé de Vermond’s? That is a man of great capacity? Or at least that has struggled, these fifty years, to have it thought great; now, in the Clergy’s name, demanding to have Protestant death-penalties “put in execution”; now flaunting it in the Œil-de-Bœuf, as the gayest man-pleaser and woman-pleaser; gleaning even a good word from Philosophedom and your Voltaires and D’Alemberts? That has a party ready-made for him in the Notables?—Loménie de Brienne, Archbishop of Toulouse! Answer all the three, with the clearest instantaneous concord; and rush off to propose him to the King; “in such haste,” says Besenval, “that M. de Lamoignon had to borrow a simarré, seemingly some kind of cloth apparatus necessary for that.[67]

Loménie-Brienne, who had all his life “felt a kind of predestination for the highest offices,” has now therefore obtained them. He presides over the Finances; he shall have the title of Prime Minister itself, and the effort of his long life be realized. Unhappy only that it took such talent and industry to gain the place; that to qualify for it hardly any talent or industry was left disposable! Looking now into his inner man, what qualification he may have, Loménie beholds, not without astonishment, next to nothing but vacuity and possibility. Principles or methods, acquirement outward or inward (for his very body is wasted, by hard tear and wear) he finds none; not so much as a plan, even an unwise one. Lucky, in these circumstances, that Calonne has had a plan! Calonne’s plan was gathered from Turgot’s and Necker’s by compilation; shall become Loménie’s by adoption. Not in vain has Loménie studied the working of the British Constitution; for he professes to have some Anglomania, of a sort. Why, in that free country, does one Minister, driven out by Parliament, vanish from his King’s presence, and another enter, borne in by Parliament?[68]Surely not for mere change (which is ever wasteful); but that all men may have share of what is going; and so the strife of Freedom indefinitely prolong itself, and no harm be done.

The Notables, mollified by Easter festivities, by the sacrifice of Calonne, are not in the worst humour. Already his Majesty, while the “interlunar shadows” were in office, had held session of Notables; and from his throne delivered promissory conciliatory eloquence: “the Queen stood waiting at a window, till his carriage came back; and Monsieur from afar clapped hands to her,” in sign that all was well.[69]It has had the best effect; if such do but last. Leading Notables meanwhile can be “caressed”; Brienne’s new gloss, Lamoignon’s long head will profit somewhat; conciliatory eloquence shall not be wanting. On the whole, however, is it not undeniable that this of ousting Calonne and adopting the plans of Calonne, is a measure which, to produce its best effect, should be looked at from a certain distance, cursorily; not dwelt on with minute near scrutiny? In a word, that no service the Notables could now do were so obliging as, in some handsome manner, to—take themselves away? Their “Six Propositions” about Provisional Assemblies, suppression of Corvées and such like, can be accepted without criticism. The Subvention or Landtax, and much else, one must glide hastily over; safe nowhere but in flourishes of conciliatory eloquence. Till at length, on this 25th of May, year 1787, in solemn final session, there bursts forth what we can call an explosion of eloquence; King, Loménie, Lamoignon and retinue taking up the successive strain; in harangues to the number of ten, besides his Majesty’s, which last the livelong day;—whereby, as in a kind of choral anthem, or bravura peal, of thanks, praises, promises, the Notables are, so to speak, organed out, and dismissed to their respective places of abode. They had sat, and talked, some nine weeks: they were the first Notables since Richelieu’s, in the year 1626.

By some Historians, sitting much as their ease, in the safe distance, Loménie has been blamed for this dismissal of his Notables: nevertheless it was clearly time. There are things, as we said, which should not be dwelt on with minute close scrutiny: over hot coals you cannot glide too fast. In these Seven Bureaus, where no work could be done, unless talk were work, the questionablest matters were coming up. Lafayette, for example, in Monseigneur d’Artois’ Bureau, took upon him to set forth more than one deprecatory oration about Lettres-de-Cachet, Libberty of the Subject, Agio, and such like; which Monseigneur endeavouring to repress, was answered that a Notable being summoned to speak his opinion must speak it.[70]

Thus too his Grace the Archbishop of Aix perorating once, with a plaintive pulpit-tone, in these words: “Tithe, that free-will offering of the piety of Christians”—“Tithe,” interrupted Duke la Rochefoucault, with the cold business-manner he has learned from the English, “that free-will offering of piety of Christians; on which there are now forty thousand law-suits in this realm.”[71]Nay, Lafayette, bound to speak his opinion, went the length, one day, of proposing to convoke a “National Assembly.” “You demand States-General?” asked Monseigneur with an air of minatory surprise.—“Yes, Monseigneur; and even better than that.”—“Write it,” said Monseigneur to the Clerks.[72]—Written accordingly it is; and what is more, will be acted by and by.

Chapter IV: Loménie’s Edicts

Thus then have the Notables returned home; carrying, to all quarters of France, such notions of deficit, decrepitude, distraction; and that States-General will cure it, or will not cure it but kill it. Each Notable, we may fancy, is as a funereal torch; disclosing hideous abysses, better left hid! The unquietest humour possesses all men; ferments, seeks issue, in pamphleteering, caricaturing, projecting, declaiming; vain jangling of thought, word and deed.

It is Spiritual Bankruptcy, long tolerated; verging now towards Economical Bankruptcy, and become intolerable. For from the lowest dumb rank, the inevitable misery, as was predicted, has spread upwards. In every man is some obscure feeling that his position, oppressive or else oppressed, is a false one: all men, in one or the other acrid dialect, as assaulters or as defenders, must give vent to the unrest that is in them. Of such stuff national well-being, and the glory of rulers, is not made. O Loménie, what a wild-heaving, waste-looking, hungry and angry world hast thou, after lifelong effort, got promoted to take charge of !

Loménie’s first Edicts are mere soothing ones: creation of Provincial Assemblies, “for apportioning the imposts,” when we get any; suppression of Corvées or statute-labour; alleviation of Gabelle. Soothing measures, recommended by the Notables; long clamoured to by all liberal men. Oil cast on the waters has been known to produce a good effect. Before venturing with great essential measures, Loménie will see this singular “swell of public mind” abate somewhat.

Most proper, surely. But what if it were not a swell of the abating kind? There are swells that come of upper tempest and wind-gust. But again there are swells that come of subterranean pent wind, some say; and even of inward decomposition, of decay that has become self-combustion:—as when, according to Neptuno-Plutonic Geology, the World is all decayed down into due attritus of this sort; and shall now be exploded, and new-made! These latter abate not by oil.—The fool says in his heart, How shall not to-morrow be as yesterday; as all days—which were once to-morrows? The wise man, looking on this France, moral, intellectual, economical, sees, “in short, all the symptoms he has ever met with in history,”— unabateable by soothing Edicts.

Meanwhile, abate or not, cash must be had; and for that, quite another sort of Edicts, namely “bursal” or fiscal ones. How easy were fiscal Edicts, did you know for certain that the Parlement of Paris would what they call “register” them! Such right of registering, properly of mere writing down, the Parlement has got by old wont; and, though but a Law-Court, can remonstrate, and higgle considerably about the same. Hence many quarrels; desperate Maupeou devices, and victory and defeat;—a quarrel now near forty years long. Hence fiscal Edicts, which otherwise were easy enough, become such problems. For example, is there not Calonne’s Subvention Territoriale, universal, unexempting Landtax; the sheet-anchor of Finance? Or, to show, so far as possible, that one is not without original finance talent, Loménie himself can devise an Edit du Timbre or Stamptax,—borrowed also, it is true; but then from America: may it prove luckier in France than there!

France has her resources: nevertheless, it cannot be denied, the aspect of that Parlement is questionable. Already among the Notables, in that final symphony of dismissal, the Paris President had an ominous tone. Adrien Duport, quitting magnetic sleep, in this agitation of the world, threatens to rouse himself into preternatural wakefulness. Shallower but also louder, there is magnetic D’Espréménil, with his tropical heat (he was born at Madras); with his dusky confused violence; holding of Illumination, Animal Magnetism, Public Opinion, Adam Weisshaupt, Harmodius and Aristogiton, and all manner of confused violent things: of whom can come no good. The very Peerage is infected with the leaven. Our Peers have, in too many cases, laid aside their frogs, laces, bag-wigs; and go about in English costume, or ride rising in their stirrups,—in the most headlong manner; nothing but insubordination, eleutheromania, confused unlimited opposition in their heads. Questionable: not to be ventured upon, if we had a Fortunatus’ Purse! But Loménie has waited all June, casting on the waters what oil he had; and now, betide as it may, the two Finance Edicts must out. On the 6th of July, he forwards his proposed Stamptax and Landtax to the Parlement of Paris; and, as if putting his own leg foremost, not his borrowed Calonne’s-leg,—places the Stamptax first in order.

Alas, the Parlement will not register: the Parlement demands instead a “state of the expenditure,” a “state of the contemplated reductions”; “states” enough; which his Majesty must decline to furnish! Discussions arise; patriotic eloquence: the Peers are summoned. Does the Nemean Lion begin to Bristle? Here surely is a duel, which France and the Universe may look upon: with prayers; at lowest, with curiosity and bets. Paris stirs with new animation. The outer courts of the Palais de Justice roll with unusual crowds, coming and going; their huge outer hum mingles with the clang of patriotic eloquence within, and gives vigour to it. Poor Loménie gazes from the distance, little comforted; has his invisible emissaries flying to and fro, assiduous, without result.

So pass the sultry dog-days, in the most electric manner; and the whole month of July. And still, in the Sanctuary of Justice, sounds nothing but Harmodious-Aristogiton eloquence, environed with the hum of crowding Paris; and no registering accomplished, and no “states” furnished. “States?” said a lively Parlementeer: “Messieurs, the states that should be furnished us, in my opinion are the STATES-GENERAL.” On which timely joke there follow cachinnatory buzzes of approval. What a word to be spoken in the Palais de Justice! Old D’Ormesson (the Ex-Controller’s uncle) shakes his judicious head; far enough from laughing. But the outer courts, and Paris and France, catch the glad sound, and repeat it; shall repeat it, and re-echo and reverberate it, till it grow a deafening peal. Clearly enough here is no registering to be thought of.

The pious Proverb says, “there are remedies for all things but death.” When a Parlement refuses registering, the remedy, by long practice, has become familiar to the simplest: a Bed of Justice. One complete month this Parlement has spent in mere idle jargoning, and sound and fury; the Timbre Edict not registered, or like to be; the Subvention not yet so much as spoken of. On the 6th of August let the whole refractory Body roll out, in wheeled vehicles, as far as the King’s Château of Versailles; there shall the King, holding his Bed of Justice, order them, by his own royal lips, to register. They may remonstrate, in an undertone; but they must obey, lest a worse unknown thing befall them.

It is done: the Parlement has rolled out, on royal summons; has heard the express royal order to register. Whereupon it has rolled back again, amid the hushed expectancy of men. And now, behold, on the morrow, this Parlement, seated once more in its own Palais, with “crowds inundating the outer courts,” not only does not register, but (O portent!) declares all that was done on the prior day to be null, and the Bed of Justice as good as a futility! In the history of France, here verily is a new feature. Nay better still, our heroic Parlement, getting suddenly enlightened on several things, declares that, for its part, it is incompetent to register Tax-edicts at all,—having done it by mistake, during these late centuries; that for such act one authority only is competent: the assembled Three Estates of the Realm!

To such length can the universal spirit of a Nation penetrate the most isolated Body-corporate: say rather, with such weapons, homicidal and suicidal, in exasperated political duel, will Bodies-corporate fight! But, in any case, is not this the real death-grapple of war and internecine duel, Greek meeting Greek; whereon men, had they even no interest in it, might look with interest unspeakable? Crowds, as was said, inundate the outer courts: inundation of young eleutheromaniac Noblemen in English costume, uttering audacious speeches; of Procureurs, Basoche-Clerks, who are idle in these days; of Loungers, Newsmongers an other nondescript classes,—rolls tumultuous there. “From three to four thousand persons,” waiting eagerly to hear the Arrêtés (Resolutions) you arrive at within; applauding with bravos, with the clapping of from six to eight thousand hands! Sweet also is the meed of patriotic eloquence, when your D’Espréménil, your Fréteau, or Sabatier, issuing from his Demosthenic Olympus, the thunder being hushed for the day, is welcomed, in the outer courts, with a shout from four thousand throats; is borne home shoulder-high “with benedictions,” and strikes the stars with his sublime head.

Chapter V: Loménie’s Thunderbolts

Arise, Loménie-Brienne: here is no case for “Letters of Jussion”; for faltering or compromise. Thou seest the whole loose fluent population of Paris (whatsoever is not solid, and fixed to work) inundating these outer courts, like a loud destructive deluge; the very Basoche of Lawyers’ Clerks talks sedition. The lower classes, in this duel of Authority with Authority, Greek throttling Greek, have ceased to respect the City-Watch: Police-satellites are marked on the back with chalk (the M signifies mouchard, spy); they are hustled, hunted like ferae naturae. Subordinate rural Tribunals send messengers of congratulation, of adherence. Their Fountain of Justice is becoming a Fountain of Revolt. The Provincial Parlements look on, with intent eye, with breathless wishes, while their elder sister of Paris does battle: the whole Twelve are of one blood and temper; the victory of one is that of all.

Ever worse it grows: on the 10th of August, there is “Plainte” emitted touching the “prodigalities of Calonne,” and permission to “proceed” against him. No registering, but instead of it, denouncing: of dilapidation, peculation; and ever the burden of the song, States-General! Have the royal armories no thunderbolt, that thou couldst, O Loménie, with red right-hand, launch it among these Demosthenic theatrical thunder-barrels, mere resin and noise for most part;—and shatter, and smite them silent? On the night of the 14th of August, Loménie launches his thunderbolt, or handful of them. Letters named of the Seal (de Cachet), as many as needful, some six score and odd, are delivered over night. And so, next day betimes, the whole Parlement, once more set on wheels, is rolling incessantly towards Troyes in Champagne; “escorted,” says History, “with the blessings of all people”; the very innkeepers and postilions looking gratuitously reverent.[73] This is the 15th of August, 1787.

What will not people bless; in their extreme need! Seldom had the Parlement of Paris deserved much blessing, or received much. An isolated Body-corporate, which, out of old confusions (while the Sceptre of the Sword was confusedly struggling to become a Sceptre of the Pen), had got itself together, better and worse, as Bodies-corporate do, to satisfy some dim desire of the world, and many clear desires of individuals; and so had grown, in the course of centuries, on concession, on acquirement and usurpation, to be what we see it: a prosperous Social Anomaly, deciding Lawsuits, sanctioning or rejecting Laws; and withal disposing of its places and offices by sale for ready money,— which method sleek President Hénault, after meditation, will demonstrate to be the indifferent-best.[74]

In such a Body, existing by purchase for ready money, there could not be excess of public spirit; there might well be excess of eagerness to divide the public spoil. Men in helmets have divided that, with swords; men in wigs, with quill and inkhorn, do divide it: and even more hatefully these latter, if more peaceably; for the wig-method is at once irresistibler and baser. By long experience, says Besenval, it has been found useless to sue a Parlementeer at law; no Officer of Justice will serve a writ on one: his wig and gown are his Vulcan’s-panoply, his enchanted cloak-of-darkness.

The Parlement of Paris may account itself an unloved body; mean, not magnanimous, on the political side. Were the King weak, always (as now) has his Parlement barked, cur-like at his heels; with what popular cry there might be. Were he strong, it barked before his face; hunting for him as his alert beagle. An unjust Body; where foul influences have more than once worked shameful perversion of judgement. Does not, in these very days, the blood of murdered Lally cry aloud for vengeance? Baited, circumvented, driven mad like the snared lion, Valour had to sink extinguished under vindictive Chicane. Behold him, that hapless Lally, his wild dark soul looking through his wild dark face; trailed on the ignominious death-hurdle; the voice of his despair choked by a wooden gag! The wild fire-soul that has known only peril and toil; and, for threescore years, has buffeted against Fate’s obstruction and men’s perfidy, like genius and courage amid poltroonery, dishonesty and commonplace; faithfully enduring and endeavouring,—O Parlement of Paris, dost thou reward it with a gibbet and a gag?[75] The dying Lally bequeathed his memory to his boy; a young Lally has arisen, demanding redress in the name of God and man. The Parlement of Paris does its utmost to defend the indefensible, abominable; nay, what is singular, dusky-glowing Aristogiton d’Espréménil is the man chosen to be its spokesman in that.

Such Social Anomaly is it that France now blesses. An unclean Social Anomaly; but in duel against another worse! The exiled Parlement is felt to have “covered itself with glory.” There are quarrels in which even Satan, bringing help, were not unwelcome; even Satan fighting stiffly, might cover himself with glory,—of a temporary sort.

But what a stir in the outer courts of the Palais, when Paris finds its Parlement trundled off to Troyes in Champagne; and nothing left but a few mute Keepers of Records; the Demosthenic thunder become extinct, the martyrs of liberty clean gone! Confused wail and menace rises from the four thousand throats of Procureurs, Basoche-Clerks, Nondescripts and Anglomaniac Noblesse; ever new idlers crowd to see and hear; Rascality, with increasing numbers and vigour, hunts mouchards. Loud whirlpool rolls through these spaces; the rest of the City, fixed to its work, cannot yet go rolling. Audacious placards are legible; in and about the Palais, the speeches are as good as seditious. Surely the temper of Paris is much changed. On the third day of business (18th of August), Monsieur and Monseigneur d’Artois, coming in state-carriages, according to use and wont, to have these late obnoxious Arrêtés and Protests “expunged” from the Records, are received in the most marked manner. Monsieur, who is thought to be in opposition, is met with vivats and strewed flowers: Monseigneur, on the other hand, with silence; with murmurs, which rise to hisses and groans; nay an irreverent Rascality presses towards him in floods, with such hissing vehemence, that the Captain of the Guards has to give order, “Haut les armes (Handle arms)!”—at which thunder-word, indeed, and the flash of the clear iron, the Rascal-flood recoils, through all avenues, fast enough.[76]New features these. Indeed, as good M. de Malesherbes pertinently remarks, “it is a quite new kind of contest this with the Parlement”: no transitory sputter, as from collision of hard bodies; but more like “the first sparks of what, if not quenched, may become a great conflagration.”[77]

This good Malesherbes sees himself now again in the King’s Council, after an absence of ten years: Loménie would profit if not by the faculties of the man, yet by the name he has. As for the man’s opinion, it is not listened to;—wherefore he will soon withdraw, a second time; back to his books and his trees. In such King’s Council what can a good man profit? Turgot tries it not a second time: Turgot has quitted France and this Earth, some years ago; and now cares for none of these things. Singular enough: Turgot, this same Loménie, and the Abbé Morellet were once a trio of young friends; fellow-scholars in the Sorbonne. Forty new years have carried them severally thus far.

Meanwhile the Parlement sits daily at Troyes, calling cases; and daily adjourns, no Procureur making his appearance to plead. Troyes is as hospitable as could be looked for: nevertheless one has comparatively a dull life. No crowds now to carry you, shoulder-high, to the immortal gods; scarcely a Patriot or two will drive out so far, and bid you be of firm courage. You are in furnished lodgings, far from home and domestic comfort: little to do, but wander over the unlovely Champagne fields; seeing the grapes ripen; taking counsel about the thousand-times consulted: a prey to tedium; in danger even that Paris may forget you. Messengers come and go: pacific Loménie is not slack in negotiating, promising; D’Ormesson and the prudent elder Members see no good in strife.

After a dull month, the Parlement, yielding and retaining, makes truce, as all Parlements must. The Stamptax is withdrawn: the Subvention Landtax is also withdrawn; but, in its stead, there is granted, what they call a “Prorogation of the Second Twentieth,”—itself a kind of Landtax, but not so oppressive to the Influential classes; which lies mainly on the Dumb class. Moreover, secret promises exist (on the part of the Elders), that finances may be raised by Loan. Of the ugly word States-General there shall be no mention.

And so, on the 20th of September, our exiled Parlement returns: D’Espréménil said, “it went out covered with glory, but had come back covered with mud (de bouc).” Not so, Aristogiton; or if so, thou surely art the man to clean it.

Chapter VI: Loménie’s Plots

Was ever unfortunate Chief Minister so bested as Loménie-Brienne? The reins of the State fairly in his hand these six months; and not the smallest motive-power (of Finance) to stir from the spot with, this way or that! He flourishes his whip, but advances not. Instead of ready money, there is nothing but rebellious debating and recalcitrating.

Far is the public mind from having calmed; it goes chafing and fuming ever worse: and in the royal coffers, with such yearly Deficit running on, there is hardly the colour of coin. Ominous prognostics! Malesherbes, seeing an exhausted, exasperated France grow hotter and hotter, talks of “conflagration”: Mirabeau, without talk, has, as we perceive, descended on Paris again, close on the rear of the Parlement,[78]—not to quit his native soil any more.

Over the Frontiers, behold Holland invaded by Prussia;[79] the French party oppressed, England and the Stadtholder triumphing: to the sorrow of War-secretary Montmorin and all men. But without money, sinews of war, as of work, and of existence itself, what can a Chief Minister do? Taxes profit little: this of the Second Twentieth falls not due till next year; and will then, with its “strict valuation,” produce more controversy than cash. Taxes on the Privileged Classes cannot be got registered; are intolerable to our supporters themselves: taxes on the Unprivileged yield nothing,—as from a thing drained dry more cannot be drawn. Hope is nowhere, if not in the old refuge of Loans.

To Loménie, aided by the long head of Lamoignon, deeply pondering this sea of troubles, the thought suggested itself: Why not have a Successive Loan (Emprunt Successif ), or Loan that went on lending, year after year, as much as needful; say, till 1792? The trouble of registering such Loan were the same: we had then breathing time; money to work with, at least to subsist on. Edict of a Successive Loan must be proposed. To conciliate the Philosophes, let a liberal Edict walk in front of it, for emancipation of Protestants; let a liberal Promise guard the rear of it, that when our Loan ends, in that final 1792, the States-General shall be convoked.

Such liberal Edict of Protestant Emancipation, the time having come for it, shall cost a Loménie as little as the “Death-penalties to be put in execution” did. As for the liberal Promise, of States-General, it can be fulfilled or not: the fulfilment is five good years off; in five years much intervenes. But the registering? Ah, truly, there is difficulty!— However, we have the promise of the Elders, given secretly at Troyes. Judicious gratuities, cajoleries, underground intrigues, with old Foulon, named “Ame damnée, Familiar-demon, of the Parlement,” may perhaps do the rest. At worst and lowest, the Royal Authority has resources,— which ought it not to put forth? If it cannot realize money, the Royal Authority is as good as dead; dead of that surest and miserablest death, inanition. Risk and win; without risk all is already lost! For the rest, as in enterprises of pith, a touch of stratagem often proves furthersome, his Majesty announces a Royal Hunt, for the 19th of November next; and all whom it concerns are joyfully getting their gear ready.

Royal Hunt indeed; but of two-legged unfeathered game! At eleven in the morning of that Royal-Hunt day, 19th of November 1787, unexpected blare of trumpeting, tumult of charioteering and cavalcading disturbs the Seat of Justice: his Majesty is come, with Garde-des-Sceaux Lamoignon, and Peers and retinue, to hold Royal Session and have Edicts registered. What a change, since Louis XIV entered here, in boots; and, whip in hand, ordered his registering to be done,—with an Olympian look, which none durst gainsay; and did, without stratagem, in such unceremonious fashion, hunt as well as register![80] For Louis XVI, on this day, the Registering will be enough; if indeed he and the day suffice for it.

Meanwhile, with fit ceremonial words, the purpose of the royal breast is signified:—Two Edicts, for Protestant Emancipation, for Successive Loan: of both which Edicts our trusty Garde-des-Sceaux Lamoignon will explain the purport; on both which a trusty Parlement is requested to deliver its opinion, each member having free privilege of speech. And so Lamoignon too having perorated not amiss, and wound up with that Promise of States-General,—the Sphere-music of Parlementary eloquence begins. Explosive, responsive, sphere answering sphere, it waxes louder and louder. The Peers sit attentive; of diverse sentiment: unfriendly to States-General; unfriendly to Despotism, which cannot reward merit, and is suppressing places. But what agitates his Highness d’Orléans? The rubicund moonhead goes wagging; darker beams the copper visage, like unscoured copper; in the glazed eye is disquietude; he rolls uneasy in his seat, as if he meant something. Amid unutterable satiety, has sudden new appetite, for new forbidden fruit, been vouchsafed him? Disgust and edacity; laziness that cannot rest; futile ambition, revenge, non-admiralship:—O, within that carbuncled skin, what a confusion of confusions sits bottled!

“Eight Couriers,” in the course of the day, gallop from Versailles, where Loménie waits palpitating; and gallop back again, not with the best news. In the outer Courts of the Palais, huge buzz of expectation reigns; it is whispered the Chief Minister has lost six votes over night. And from within, resounds nothing but forensic eloquence, pathetic and even indignant; heartrending appeals to the royal clemency, that his Majesty would please to summon States-General forthwith, and be the Saviour of France:—wherein dusky-glowing D’Espréménil, but still more Sabatier de Cabre, and Fréteau, since named Commère Fréteau (Goody Fréteau), are among the loudest. For six mortal hours it lasts, in this manner; the infinite hubbub unslackened.

And so now, when brown dusk is falling through the windows, and no end visible, His Majesty, on hint of Garde-des-Sceaux Lamoignon, opens his royal lips once more to say, in brief, That he must have his Loan-Edict registered.—Momentary deep pause!—See! Monseigneur d’Orléans rises; with moon-visage turned towards the royal platform, he asks, with a delicate graciosity of manner covering unutterable things: “Whether it is a Bed of Justice, then, or a Royal Session?” Fire flashes on him from the throne and neighbourhood: surely answer that “it is a Session.” In that case, Monseigneur will crave leave to remark that Edicts cannot be registered by order in a Session; and indeed to enter, against such registry, his individual humble Protest. “Vous êtes bien le maître (You will do your pleasure),” answers the King; and thereupon, in high state, marches out, escorted by his Court-retinue; D’Orléans himself, as in duty bound, escorting him, but only to the gate. Which duty done, D’Orléans returns in from the gate; redacts his Protest, in the face of an applauding Parlement, an applauding France; and so—has cut his Court-moorings, shall we say? And will now sail and drift, fast enough, towards Chaos?

Thou foolish D’Orléans; Equality that art to be! Is Royalty grown a mere wooden Scarecrow; whereon thou, pert scaldheaded crow, mayst alight at pleasure, and peck? Not yet wholly.

Next day, a Lettre-de-Cachet sends D’Orléans to bethink himself in his Château of Villers-Cotterets, where, alas, is no Paris with its joyous necessaries of life; no fascinating indispensable Madame de Buffon,— light wife of a great Naturalist much too old for her. Monseigneur, it is said, does nothing but walk distractedly, at Villers-Cotterets; cursing his stars. Versailles itself shall hear penitent wail from him, so hard is his doom. By a second, simultaneous Lettre-de-Cachet, Goody Fréteau is hurled into the Stronghold of Ham, amid the Norman marshes; by a third, Sabatier de Cabre into Mont St. Michel, amid the Norman quicksands. As for the Parlement, it must, on summons, travel out to Versailles, with its Register-Book under its arm, to have the Protest bi fé (expunged); not without admonition, and even rebuke. A stroke of authority, which, one might have hoped, would quiet matters.

Unhappily, no: it is a mere taste of the whip to rearing coursers, which makes them rear worse! When a team of Twenty-five Millions begins rearing, what is Loménie’s whip? The Parlement will nowise acquiesce meekly; and set to register the Protestant Edict, and do its other work, in salutary fear of these three Lettres-de-Cachet. Far from that, it begins questioning Lettres-de-Cachet generally, their legality, endurability; emits dolorous objurgation, petition on petition to have its three Martyrs delivered; cannot, till that be complied with, so much as think of examining the Protestant Edict, but puts it off always “till this day week.”[81]

In which objurgatory strain Paris and France joins it, or rather has preceded it; making fearful chorus. And now also the other Parlements, at length opening their mouths, begin to join; some of them, as at Grenoble and at Rennes, with portentous emphasis,— threatening, by way of reprisal, to interdict the very Tax-gatherer.[82] “In all former contests,” as Malesherbes remarks, “it was the Parlement that excited the Public; but here it is the Public that excites the Parlement.”

Chapter VII: Internecine

What a France, through these winter months of the year 1787! The very Œil-de-Bœuf is doleful, uncertain; with a general feeling, among the Suppressed, that it were better to be in Turkey. The Wolfhounds are suppressed, the Bear-hounds; Duke de Coigny, Duke de Polignac: in the Trianon little-heaven, her Majesty, one evening, takes Besenval’s arm; asks his candid opinion. The intrepid Besenval,—having, as he hopes, nothing of the sycophant in him, —plainly signifies that, with a Parlement in rebellion, and an Œil-de-Bœuf in suppression, the King’s Crown is in danger;—whereupon, singular to say, her Majesty, as if hurt, changed the subject, et ne me parla plus de rien! [83]

To whom, indeed, can this poor Queen speak! In need of wise counsel, if ever mortal was; yet beset here only by the hubbub of chaos! Her dwelling-place is so bright to the eye, and confusion and black care darkens it all. Sorrows of the Sovereign, sorrows of the woman, thick-coming sorrows environ her more and more. Lamotte, the Necklace-Countess, has in these late months escaped, perhaps been suffered to escape, from the Salpêtrière. Vain was the hope that Paris might thereby forget her; and this ever-widening lie, and heap of lies, subside. The Lamotte, with a V (for Voleuse, Thief) branded on both shoulders, has got to England; and will therefrom emit lie on lie; defiling the highest queenly name: mere distracted lies,[84] which, in its present humour, France will greedily believe.

For the rest, it is too clear our Successive Loan is not filling. As indeed, in such circumstances, a Loan registered by expunging of Protests was not the likeliest to fill. Denunciation of Lettres-de-Cachet, of Despotism generally, abates not: the Twelve Parlements are busy; the Twelve hundred Placarders, Balladsingers, Pamphleteers. Paris is what, in figurative speech, they call “flooded with pamphlets (regorgé de brochures )”; flooded and eddying again. Hot deluge,—from so many Patriot ready-writers, all at the fervid or boiling point; each ready-writer, now in the hour of eruption, going like an Iceland Geyser! Against which what can a judicious Friend Morellet do; a Rivarol, an unruly Linguet (well paid for it),—spouting cold !

Now also, at length, does come discussion of the Protestant Edict: but only for new embroilment; in pamphlet and counter-pamphlet, increasing the madness of men. Not even Orthodoxy, bedrid as she seemed, but will have a hand in this confusion. She once again in the shape of Abbé Lenfant, “whom Prelates drive to visit and congratulate,”—raises audible sound from her pulpit-drum.[85]Or mark how D’Espréménil, who has his own confused way in all things, produces at the right moment in Parlementary harangue a pocket Crucifix, with the apostrophe: “Will ye crucify him afresh?” Him, O D’Espréménil, without scruple;—considering what poor stuff, of ivory and filigree, he is made of!

To all which add only, that poor Brienne has fallen sick; so hard was the tear and wear of his sinful youth, so violent, incessant is this agitation of his foolish old age. Baited, bayed at through so many throats, his Grace, growing consumptive, inflammatory (with humeur de dartre), lies reduced to milk diet; in exasperation, almost in desperation; with “repose,” precisely the impossible recipe, prescribed as the indispensable.[86]

On the whole, what can a poor Government do, but once more recoil ineffectual? The King’s Treasury is running towards the lees; and Paris “eddies with a flood of pamphlets.” At all rates, let the latter subside a little! D’Orléans gets back to Raincy, which is nearer Paris and the fair frail Buffon; finally to Paris itself: neither are Fréteau and Sabatier banished for ever. The Protestant Edict is registered; to the joy of Boissy d’Anglas and good Malesherbes: Successive Loan, all protests expunged or else withdrawn, remains open,—the rather as few or none come to fill it. States-General, for which the Parlement has clamoured, and now the whole Nation clamours, will follow “in five years,”—if indeed not sooner. O Parlement of Paris, what a clamour was that! “Messieurs,” said old D’Ormesson, “you will get States-General, and you will repent it.” Like the Horse in the Fable, who, to be avenged of his enemy, applied to the Man. The Man mounted; did swift execution on the enemy; but, unhappily, would not dismount! Instead of five years, let three years pass, and this clamorous Parlement shall have both seen its enemy hurled prostrate, and been itself ridden to foundering (say rather, jugulated for hide and shoes), and lie dead in the ditch.

Under such omens, however, we have reached the spring of 1788. By no path can the King’s Government find passage for itself, but is everywhere shamefully flung back. Beleaguered by Twelve Rebellious Parlements, which are grown to be the organs of an angry Nation, it can advance nowhither; can accomplish nothing, obtain nothing, not so much as money to subsist on; but must sit there, seemingly, to be eaten up of Deficit.

The measure of the Iniquity, then, of the Falsehood which has been gathering through long centuries, is nearly full? At least, that of the Misery is! From the hovels of the Twenty-five Millions, the misery, permeating upwards and forwards, as its law is, has got so far,—to the very Œil-de-Bœuf of Versailles. Man’s hand, in this blind pain, is set against man: not only the low against the higher, but the higher against each other; Provincial Noblesse is bitter against Court Noblesse; Robe against Sword; Rochet against Pen. But against the King’s Government who is not bitter? Not even Besenval, in these days. To it all men and bodies of men are become as enemies; it is the centre whereon infinite contentions unite and clash. What new universal vertiginous movement is this; of Institutions, social Arrangements, individual Minds, which once worked co-operative; now rolling and grinding in distracted collision? Inevitable: it is the breaking up of a World-Solecism, worn out at last, down even to bankruptcy of money! And so this poor Versailles Court, as the chief or central Solecism, finds all the other Solecisms arrayed against it. Most natural! For your human Solecism, be it Person or Combination of Persons, is ever, by law of Nature, uneasy; if verging towards bankruptcy, it is even miserable:—and when would the meanest Solecism consent to blame or amend itself, while there remained another to amend?

These threatening signs do not terrify Loménie, much less teach him. Loménie, though of light nature, is not without courage, of a sort. Nay, have we not read of lightest creatures, trained Canary-birds, that could fly cheerfully with lighted matches, and fire cannon; fire whole powder-magazines? To sit and die of Deficit is no part of Loménie’s plan. The evil is considerable; but can he not remove it, can he not attack it? At lowest, he can attack the symptom of it: these rebellious Parlements he can attack, and perhaps remove. Much is dim to Loménie, but two things are clear: that such Parlementary duel with Royalty is growing perilous, nay internecine; above all, that money must be had. Take thought, brave Loménie; thou Garde-des-Sceaux Lamoignon, who hast ideas! So often defeated, balked cruelly when the golden fruit seemed within clutch, rally for one other struggle. To tame the Parlement, to fill the King’s coffers: these are now life-and-death questions.

Parlements have been tamed, more than once. Set to perch “on the peaks of rocks inaccessible except by litters,” a Parlement grows reasonable. O Maupeou, thou bold bad man, had we left thy work where it was!—But apart from exile, or other violent methods, is there not one method, whereby all things are tamed, even lions? The method of hunger! What if the Parlement’s supplies were cut off; namely its Lawsuits!

Minor Courts, for the trying of innumerable minor causes, might be instituted: these we could call Grand Bailliages. Whereon the Parlement, shortened of its prey, would look with yellow despair; but the Public, fond of cheap justice, with favour and hope. Then for Finance, for registering of Edicts, why not, from our own Œil-de-Bœuf Dignitaries, our Princes, Dukes, Marshals, make a thing we could call Plenary Court; and there, so to speak, do our registering ourselves? Saint Louis had his Plenary Court, of Great Barons;[87] most useful to him: our Great Barons are still here (at least the Name of them is still here); our necessity is greater than his.

Such is the Loménie-Lamoignon device; welcome to the King’s Council, as a light-beam in great darkness. The device seems feasible, it is eminently needful: be it once well executed, great deliverance is wrought. Silent, then, and steady; now or never!—the World shall see one other Historical Scene; and so singular a man as Loménie de Brienne still the Stage-manager there.

Behold, accordingly, a Home-Secretary Bréteuil “beautifying Paris,” in the peaceablest manner, in this hopeful spring weather of 1788; the old hovels and hutches disappearing from our Bridges: as if for the State too there were halcyon weather, and nothing to do but beautify. Parlement seems to sit acknowledged victor. Brienne says nothing of Finance; or even says, and prints, that it is all well. How is this; such halcyon quiet; though the Successive Loan did not fill? In a victorious Parlement, Counsellor Goeslard de Monsabert even denounces that “levying of the Second Twentieth on strict valuation”; and gets decree that the valuation shall not be strict—not on the Privileged classes. Nevertheless Brienne endures it, launches no Lettre-de-Cachet against it. How is this?

Smiling is such vernal weather; but treacherous, sudden! For one thing, we hear it whispered, “the Intendants of Provinces have all got order to be at their posts on a certain day.” Still more singular, what incessant Printing is this that goes on at the King’s Château, under lock and key? Sentries occupy all gates and windows; the Printers come not out; they sleep in their work-rooms; their very food is handed in to them![88]A victorious Parlement smells new danger. D’Espréménil has ordered horses to Versailles; prowls round that guarded Printing-Office; prying, snuffing, if so be the sagacity and ingenuity of man may penetrate it.

To a shower of gold most things are penetrable. D’Espréménil descends on the lap of a Printer’s Danaë, in the shape of “five hundred louis d’or”: the Danaë’s Husband smuggles a ball of clay to her; which she delivers to the golden Counsellor of Parlement. Kneaded within it, there stick printed proof-sheets:—by Heaven! the royal Edict of that same self-registering Plenary Court; of those Grand Bailliages that shall cut short our Lawsuits! It is to be promulgated over all France in one and the same day.

This, then, is what the Intendants were bid wait for at their posts: this is what the Court sat hatching, as its accursed cockatrice-egg; and would not stir, though provoked, till the brood were out! Hie with it, D’Espréménil, home to Paris; convoke instantaneous Sessions; let the Parlement, and the Earth, and the Heavens know it.

Chapter VIII: Loménie’s Death-Throes

On the morrow, which is the 3rd of May, 1788, an astonished Parlement sits convoked; listens speechless to the speech of D’Espréménil, unfolding the infinite misdeed. Deed of treachery; of unhallowed darkness, such as Despotism loves! Denounce it, O Parlement of Paris; awaken France and the Universe; roll what thunder-barrels of forensic eloquence thou hast: with thee too it is verily Now or never!

The Parlement is not wanting, at such juncture. In the hour of his extreme jeopardy, the lion first incites himself by roaring, by lashing his sides. So here the Parlement of Paris. On the motion of D’Espréménil, a most patriotic Oath, of the One-and-all sort, is sworn, with united throat;—an excellent new-idea, which, in these coming years, shall not remain unimitated. Next comes indomitable Declaration, almost of the rights of man, at least of the rights of Parlement; Invocation to the friends of French Freedom, in this and in subsequent time. All which, or the essence of all which, is brought to paper; in a tone wherein something of plaintiveness blends with, and tempers, heroic valour. And thus, having sounded the storm-bell,—which Paris hears, which all France will hear; and hurled such defiance in the teeth of Loménie and Despotism, the Parlement retires as from a tolerable first day’s work.

But how Loménie felt to see his cockatrice-egg (so essential to the salvation of France) broken in this premature manner, let readers fancy! Indignant he clutches at his thunderbolts (de Cachet, of the Seal); and launches two of them: a bolt for D’Espréménil; a bolt for that busy Goeslard, whose service in the Second Twentieth and “strict valuation” is not forgotten. Such bolts clutched promptly overnight, and launched with the early new morning, shall strike agitated Paris if not into requiescence, yet into wholesome astonishment.

Ministerial thunderbolts may be launched; but if they do not hit? D’Espréménil and Goeslard, warned, both of them, as is thought, by the singing of some friendly bird, elude the Loménie Tipstaves; escape disguised through skywindows, over roofs, to their own Palais de Justice: the thunderbolts have missed. Paris (for the buzz flies abroad) is struck into astonishment not wholesome. The two martyrs of Liberty doff their disguises; don their long gowns: behold! in the space of an hour, by aid of ushers and swift runners, the Parlement, with its Counsellors, Presidents, even Peers, sits anew assembled. The assembled Parlement declares that these its two Martyrs cannot be given up, to any sublunary authority; moreover that the “session is permanent,” admitting of no adjournment, till pursuit of them has been relinquished.

And so, with forensic eloquence, denunciation and protest, with couriers going and returning, the Parlement, in this state of continual explosion that shall cease neither night nor day, waits the issue. Awakened Paris once more inundates those outer courts; boils, in floods wilder than ever, through all avenues. Dissonant hubbub there is; jargon as of Babel, in the hour when they were first smitten (as here) with mutual unintelligibility, and the people had not yet dispersed!

Paris City goes through its diurnal epochs, of working and slumbering; and now, for the second time, most European and African mortals are asleep. But here, in the Whirlpool of Words, sleep falls not; the Night spreads her coverlid of Darkness over it in vain. Within is the sound of mere martyr invincibility; tempered with the due tone of plaintiveness. Without is the infinite expectant hum,—growing drowsier a little. So has it lasted for six-and-thirty hours.

But hark! through the dead of midnight, what tramp is this? Tramp as of armed men, foot and horse; Gardes Françaises, Gardes Suisses: marching hither; in silent regularity; in the flare of torchlight! There are Sappers too, with axes and crowbars: apparently, if the doors open not, they will be forced!—It is Captain D’Agoust, missioned from Versailles. D’Agoust, a man of known firmness;—who once forced Prince Condé himself, by mere incessant looking at him, to give satisfaction and fight:[89] he now, with axes and torches, is advancing on the very sanctuary of Justice. Sacrilegious; yet what help? The man is a soldier; looks merely at his orders; impassive, moves forward like an inanimate engine.

The doors open on summons, there need no axes; door after door. And now the innermost door opens; discloses the long-gowned Senators of France: a hundred and sixty-seven by tale, seventeen of them Peers; sitting there, majestic, “in permanent session.” Were not the man military, and of cast-iron, this sight, this silence re-echoing the clank of his own boots, might stagger him! For the hundred and sixty-seven receive him in perfect silence; which some liken to that of the Roman Senate overfallen by Brennus; some to that of a nest of coiners surprised by officers of the Police.[90]Messieurs, said D’Agoust, De par le Roi! Express order has charged D’Agoust with the sad duty of arresting two individuals: M. Duval D’Espréménil and M. Goeslard de Monsabert. Which respectable individuals, as he has not the honour of knowing them, are hereby invited, in the King’s name, to surrender themselves.—Profound silence! Buzz, which grows a murmur: “We are all D’Espréménils!” ventures a voice; which other voices repeat. The President inquires, Whether he will employ violence? Captain D’Agoust, honoured with his Majesty’s commission, has to execute his Majesty’s order; would so gladly do it without violence, will in any case do it; grants an august Senate space to deliberate which method they prefer. And thereupon D’Agoust, with grave military courtesy, has withdrawn for the moment.

What boots it, august Senators? All avenues are closed with fixed bayonets. Your Courier gallops to Versailles, through the dewy Night; but also gallops back again, with tidings that the order is authentic, that it is irrevocable. The outer courts simmer with idle population; but D’Agoust’s grenadier-ranks stand there as immovable floodgates: there will be no revolting to deliver you. “Messieurs!” thus spoke D’Espréménil, “when the victorious Gauls entered Rome, which they had carried by assault, the Roman Senators, clothed in their purple, sat there, in their curule chairs, with a proud and tranquil countenance, awaiting slavery or death. Such too is the lofty spectacle, which you, in this hour, offer to the universe ( à l’univers), after having generously”— with much more of the like, as can still be read.[91]

In vain, O D’Espréménil! Here is this cast-iron Captain D’Agoust, with his cast-iron military air, come back. Despotism, constraint, destruction sit waving in his plumes. D’Espréménil must fall silent; heroically give himself up, lest worse befall. Him Goeslard heroically imitates. With spoken and speechless emotion, they fling themselves into the arms of their Parlementary brethren, for a last embrace: and so amid plaudits and plaints, from a hundred and sixty-five throats; amid wavings, sobbings, a whole forest-sigh of Parlementary pathos,— they are led through winding passages, to the rear-gate; where, in the grey of the morning, two Coaches with Exempts stand waiting. There must the victims mount; bayonets menacing behind. D’Espréménil’s stern question to the populace, “Whether they have courage?” is answered by silence. They mount, and roll; and neither the rising of the May sun (it is the 6th morning), or its setting shall lighten their hearts: but they fare forward continually; D’Espréménil towards the utmost Isles of Sainte Marguerite, or Hières (supposed by some, if that is any comfort, to be Calypso’s Island); Goeslard towards the land-fortress of Pierre-en-Cize, extant then, near the City of Lyons.

Captain D’Agoust may now therefore look forward to Majorship, to Commandantship of the Tuileries;[92]—and withal vanish from History; where nevertheless he has been fated to do a notable thing. For not only are D’Espréménil and Goeslard safe whirling southward, but the Parlement itself has straightway to march out: to that also his inexorable order reaches. Gathering up their long skirts, they file out, the whole Hundred and Sixty-five of them, through two rows of unsympathetic grenadiers: a spectacle to gods and men. The people revolt not; they only wonder and grumble: also, we remark, these unsympathetic grenadiers are Gardes Françaises,—who, one day, will sympathize! In a word, the Palais de Justice is swept clear, the doors of it are locked; and D’Agoust returns to Versailles with the key in his pocket,—having, as was said, merited preferment.

As for this Parlement of Paris, now turned out to the street, we will without reluctance leave it there. The Beds of Justice it had to undergo, in the coming fortnight, at Versailles, in registering, or rather refusing to register, those new-hatched Edicts; and how it assembled in taverns and tap-rooms there, for the purpose of Protesting;[93] or hovered disconsolate, with outspread skirts, not knowing where to assemble; and was reduced to lodge Protest “with a Notary”; and in the end, to sit still (in a state of forced “vacation”), and do nothing: all this, natural now, as the burying of the dead after battle, shall not concern us. The Parlement of Paris has as good as performed its part; doing and misdoing, so far, but hardly further, it could stir the world.

Loménie has removed the evil then? Not at all: not so much as the symptom of the evil; scarcely the twelfth part of the symptom, and exasperated the other eleven! The Intendants of Provinces, the military Commandants are at their posts, on the appointed 8th of May: but in no Parlement, if not in the single one of Dovai, can these new Edicts get registered. Not peaceable signing with ink; but brow-beating, blood-shedding, appeal to primary club-law! Against these Bailliages, against this Plenary Court, exasperated Themis everywhere shows face of battle: the Provincial Noblesse are of her party, and whoever hates Loménie and the evil time; with her Attorneys and Tipstaves, she enlists and operates down even to the populace. At Rennes in Brittany, where the historical Bertrand de Moleville is Intendant, it has passed from fatal continual duelling, between the military and gentry, to street-fighting; to stone-volleys and musket-shot: and still the Edicts remain unregistered. The afflicted Bretons send remonstrance to Loménie, by a Deputation of Twelve; whom, however, Loménie, having heard them, shuts up in the Bastille. A second larger Deputation he meets, by his scouts, on the road, and persuades or frightens back. But now a third largest Deputation is indignantly sent by many roads: refused audience on arriving, it meets to take counsel; invites Lafayette and all Patriot Bretons in Paris to assist; agitates itself; becomes the Breton Club, first germ of—the Jacobins’ Society.[94]

So many as eight Parlements get exiled:[95] others might need that remedy, but it is one not always easy of appliance. At Grenoble, for instance, where a Mounier, a Barnave have not been idle, the Parlement had due order (by Lettres-de-Cachet) to depart, and exile itself: but on the morrow, instead of coaches getting yoked, the alarm-bell bursts forth, ominous; and peals and booms all day: crowds of mountaineers rush down, with axes, even with firelocks,—whom (most ominous of all!) the soldiery shows no eagerness to deal with. “Axe over head,” the poor General has to sign capitulation; to engage that the Lettres-de-Cachet shall remain unexecuted, and a beloved Parlement stay where it is. Besançon, Dijon, Rouen, Bordeaux, are not what they should be! At Pau in Bearn, where the old Commandant had failed, the new one (a Grammont, native to them) is met by a Procession of townsmen with the Cradle of Henri Quatre, the Palladium of their Town; is conjured as he venerates this old Tortoise-shell, in which the great Henri was rocked, not to trample on Bearnese liberty; is informed, withal, that his Majesty’s cannon are all safe—in the keeping of his Majesty’s faithful Burghers of Pau, and do now lie pointed on the walls there; ready for action.[96]

At this rate, your Grand Bailliages are like to have a stormy infancy. As for the Plenary Court, it has literally expired in the birth. The very Courtiers looked shy at it; old Marshal Broglie declined the honour of sitting therein. Assaulted by a universal storm of mingled ridicule and execration,[97] this poor Plenary Court met once, and never any second time. Distracted country! Contention hisses up, with forked hydra-tongues, wheresoever poor Loménie sets his foot. “Let a Commandant, a Commissioner of the King,” says Weber, “enter one of these Parlements to have an Edict registered, the whole Tribunal will disappear, and leave the Commandant alone with the Clerk and First President. The Edict registered and the Commandant gone, the whole Tribunal hastens back, to declare such registration null. The highways are covered with Grand Deputations of Parlements, proceeding to Versailles, to have their registers expunged by the King’s hand; or returning home, to cover a new page with a new resolution still more audacious.”[98]

Such is the France of this year 1788. Not now a Golden or Paper Age of Hope; with its horse-racings, balloon-flyings, and finer sensibilities of the heart: ah, gone is that; its golden effulgence paled, bedarkened in this singular manner,—brewing towards preternatural weather! For, as in that wreck-storm of Paul et Virginie and Saint-Pierre,—“One huge motionless cloud” (say, of Sorrow and Indignation) “girdles our whole horizon; streams up, hairy, copper-edged, over a sky of the colour of lead.” Motionless itself; but “small clouds” (as exiled Parlements and such like), “parting from it, fly over the zenith, with the velocity of birds”:—till at last, with one loud howl, the whole Four Winds be dashed together, and all the world exclaim, There is the tornado: Tout le monde s’écria, Voilà l’ouragan!

For the rest, in such circumstances, the Successive Loan, very naturally, remains unfilled; neither, indeed, can that impost of the Second Twentieth, at least not on “strict valuation,” be levied to good purpose: “Lenders,” says Weber, in his hysterical vehement manner, “are afraid of ruin; tax-gatherers of hanging.” The very Clergy turn away their face: convoked in Extraordinary Assembly, they afford no gratuitous gift (don gratuit),—if it be not that of advice; here too instead of cash is clamour for States-General.[99]

O Loménie-Brienne, with thy poor flimsy mind all bewildered, and now “three actual cauteries” on thy worn-out body; who art like to die of inflammation, provocation, milk-diet, dartres vives and maladie— (best untranslated);[100] and presidest over a France with innumerable actual cauteries, which also is dying of inflammation and the rest! Was it wise to quit the bosky verdures of Brienne, and thy new ashlar Château there, and what it held, for this? Soft were those shades and lawns; sweet the hymns of Poetasters, the blandishments of high-rouged Graces:[101] and always this and the other Philosophe Morellet (nothing deeming himself or thee a questionable Sham-Priest) could be so happy in making happy:—and also (hadst thou known it), in the Military School hard by, there sat, studying mathematics, a dusky-complexioned taciturn Boy, under the name of: NAPOLEON BONAPARTE!—With fifty years of effort, and one final deadlift struggle, thou hast made an exchange! Thou hast got thy robe of office,—as Hercules had his Nessus’-shirt.

On the 13th of July, of this 1788, there fell, on the very edge of harvest, the most frightful hailstorm; scattering into wild waste the Fruits of the Year; which had otherwise suffered grievously by drought. For sixty leagues round Paris especially, the ruin was almost total.[102]To so many other evils, then, there is to be added, that of dearth, perhaps of famine.

Some days before this hailstorm, on the 5th of July; and still more decisively some days after it, on the 8th of August,—Loménie announces that the States-General are actually to meet in the following month of May. Till after which period, this of the Plenary Court, and the rest, shall remain postponed. Further, as in Loménie there is no plan of forming or holding these most desirable States-General, “thinkers are invited” to furnish him with one,—through the medium of discussion by the public press!

What could a Minister do? There are still ten months of respite reserved: a sinking pilot will fling out all things, his very biscuit-bags, lead, log, compass and quadrant, before flinging out himself. It is on this principle, of sinking, and the incipient delirium of despair, that we explain likewise the almost miraculous “invitation to thinkers.” Invitation to Chaos to be so kind as build, out of its tumultuous driftwood, an Ark of Escape for him! In these cases, not invitation but command has usually proved serviceable.—The Queen stood, that evening, pensive, in a window, with her face turned towards the Garden. The Chef de Gobelet had followed her with an obsequious cup of coffee; and then retired till it were sipped. Her Majesty beckoned Dame Campan to approach: “Grand Dieu!” murmured she, with the cup in her hand, “what a piece of news will be made public to-day! The King grants States-General.” Then raising her eyes to Heaven (if Campan were not mistaken), she added: “’Tis a first beat of the drum, of ill omen for France. This Noblesse will ruin us.”[103]

During all that hatching of the Plenary Court, while Lamoignon looked so mysterious, Besenval had kept asking him one question: Whether they had cash? To which as Lamoignon always answered (on the faith of Loménie) that the cash was safe, judicious Besenval rejoined that then all was safe. Nevertheless the melancholy fact is, that the royal coffers are almost getting literally void of coin. Indeed, apart from all other things, this “invitation to thinkers,” and the great change now at hand are enough to “arrest the circulation of capital,” and forward only that of pamphlets. A few thousand gold louis are now all of money or money’s worth that remains in the King’s Treasury. With another movement as of desperation, Loménie invites Necker to come and be Controller of Finances! Necker has other work in view than controlling Finances for Loménie: with a dry refusal he stands taciturn; awaiting his time.

What shall a desperate Prime Minister do? He has grasped at the strongbox of the King’s Theatre: some Lottery had been set on foot for those sufferers by the hailstorm; in his extreme necessity, Loménie lays hands even on this.[104] To make provision for the passing day, on any terms, will soon be impossible.—On the 16th of August, poor Weber heard, at Paris and Versailles, hawkers, “with a hoarse stifled tone of voice (voix étou fée, sourde),” drawling and snuffling, through the streets, an Edict concerning Payments (such was the soft title Rivarol had contrived for it): all Payments at the Royal Treasury shall be made henceforth, three-fifths in Cash, and the remaining two-fifths—in Paper bearing interest! Poor Weber almost swooned at the sound of these cracked voices, with their bodeful raven-note; and will never forget the effect it had on him.[105]

But the effect on Paris, on the world generally? From the dens of Stock-brokerage, from the heights of Political Economy, of Neckerism and Philosophism; from all articulate and inarticulate throats, rise hootings and howlings, such as ear had not yet heard. Sedition itself may be imminent! Monseigneur d’Artois, moved by Duchess Polignac, feels called to wait upon her Majesty; and explain frankly what crisis matters stand in. “The Queen wept”; Brienne himself wept;—for it is now visible and palpable that he must go.

Remains only that the Court, to whom his manners and garrulities were always agreeable, shall make his fall soft. The grasping old man has already got his Archbishopship of Toulouse exchanged for the richer one of Sens: and now, in this hour of pity, he shall have the Coadjutorship for his nephew (hardly yet of due age); a Dameship of the Palace for his niece; a Regiment for her husband; for himself a red Cardinal’s-hat, a Coup de Bois (cutting from the royal forests), and on the whole “from five to six hundred thousand livres of revenue”:[106]finally his Brother, the Comte de Brienne, shall still continue Warminister. Buckled round with such bolsters and huge featherbeds of Promotion, let him now fall as soft as he can!

And so Loménie departs: rich if Court-titles and Money-bonds can enrich him; but if these cannot, perhaps the poorest of all extant men. “Hissed at by the people of Versailles,” he drives forth to Jardi; southward to Brienne,—for recovery of health. Then to Nice, to Italy; but shall return; shall glide to and fro, tremulous, faint-twinkling, fallen on awful times: till the Guillotine—snuff out his weak existence? Alas, worse: for it is blown out, or choked out, foully, pitiably, on the way to the Guillotine! In his Palace of Sens, rude Jacobin Bailiffs made him drink with them from his own wine-cellars, feast with them from his own larder; and on the morrow morning, the miserable old man lies dead. This is the end of Prime Minister, Cardinal Archbishop Loménie de Brienne. Flimsier mortal was seldom fated to do as weighty a mischief; to have a life as despicable-envied, an exit as frightful. Fired, as the phrase is, with ambition; blown, like a kindled rag, the sport of winds, not this way, not that way, but of all ways, straight towards such a powder-mine,—which he kindled! Let us pity the hapless Loménie; and forgive him; and, as soon as possible, forget him.

Chapter IX: Burial With Bonfire

Besenval, during these extraordinary operations, of Payment twofifths in Paper, and change of Prime Minister, had been out on a tour through his District of Command; and indeed, for the last months, peacefully drinking the waters of Contrexéville. Returning now, in the end of August, towards Moulins, and “knowing nothing,” he arrives one evening at Langres; finds the whole town in a state of uproar (grande rumeur). Doubtless some sedition; a thing too common in these days! He alights nevertheless; inquired of a “man tolerably dressed,” what the matter is?—“How?” answers the man, “you have not heard the news? The Archbishop is thrown out, and M. Necker is recalled; and all is going to go well!”[107]

Such rumeur and vociferous acclaim has risen round M. Necker, ever from “that day when he issued from the Queen’s Apartments,” a nominated Minister. It was on the 24th of August: “the galleries of the Château, the courts, the streets of Versailles; in a few hours, the capital; and, as the news flew, all France, resounded with the cry of Vive le Roi, Vive M. Necker!” [108] In Paris indeed it unfortunately got the length of “turbulence.” Petards, rockets go off, in the Place Dauphine, more than enough. A “wicker Figure (Mannequin d’osier),” in Archbishop’s stole, made emblematically, three-fifths of it satin, two-fifth of it paper, is promenaded, not in silence, to the popular judgement-bar; is doomed; shriven by a mock Abbé de Vermond; then solemnly consumed by fire, at the foot of Henri’s Statue on the Pont Neuf;—with such petarding and huzzaing that Chevalier Dubois and his City-watch see good finally to make a charge (more or less ineffectual); and there wanted not burning of sentry-boxes, forcing of guard-houses, and also “dead bodies thrown into the Seine over-night,” to avoid new effervescence.[109]

Parlements therefore shall return from exile: Plenary Court, Payment two-fifths in Paper have vanished; gone off in smoke, at the foot of Henri’s Statue. States-General (with a Political Millennium) are now certain; nay, it shall be announced, in our fond haste, for January next: and all, as the Langres man said, is “going to go.”

To the prophetic glance of Besenval, one other thing is too apparent: that Friend Lamoignon cannot keep his Keepership. Neither he nor War-minister Comte de Brienne! Already old Foulon, with an eye to be war-minister himself, is making underground movements. This is that same Foulon named âme damnée du Parlement; a man grown grey in treachery, in griping, projecting, intriguing and iniquity: who once when it was objected, to some finance-scheme of his, “What will the people do?”—made answer, in the fire of discussion, “The people may eat grass”: hasty words, which fly abroad irrevocable,—and will send back tidings!

Foulon, to the relief of the world, fails on this occasion; and will always fail. Nevertheless it steads not M. de Lamoignon. It steads not the doomed man that he have interviews with the King; and be “seen to return radieux,” emitting rays. Lamoignon is the hated of Parlements: Comte de Brienne is Brother to the Cardinal Archbishop. The 24th of August has been; and the 14th September is not yet, when they two, as their great Principal had done, descend,—made to fall soft, like him.

And now, as if the last burden had been rolled from its heart, and assurance were at length perfect, Paris bursts forth anew into extreme jubilee. The Basoche rejoices aloud, that the foe of Parlements is fallen; Nobility, Gentry, Commonalty have rejoiced; and rejoice. Nay now, with great emphasis. Rascality itself, starting suddenly from its dim depths, will arise and do it,—for down even thither the new Political Evangel, in some rude version or other, has penetrated. It is Monday, the 14th of September, 1788: Rascality assembles anew, in great force, in the Place Dauphine; lets off petards, fire blunderbusses, to an incredible extent, without interval, for eighteen hours. There is again a wicker figure, “Mannequin of osier”: the centre of endless howlings. Also Necker’s Portrait snatched, or purchased, from some Printshop, is borne processionally, aloft on a perch, with huzzas;—an example to be remembered.

But chiefly on the Pont Neuf, where the Great Henri, in bronze, rides sublime; there do the crowds gather. All passengers must stop, till they have bowed to the People’s King, and said audibly: Vive Henri Quatre; au diable Lamoignon! No carriage but must stop; not even that of his Highness d’Orléans. Your coach-doors are opened: Monsieur will please to put forth his head and bow; or even, if refractory, to alight altogether, and kneel: from Madame a wave of her plumes, a smile of her fair face, there where she sits, shall suffice:—and surely a coin or two (to buy fusées) were not unreasonable, from the Upper Classes, friends of Liberty? In this manner it proceeds for days; in such rude horse-play,—not without kicks. The City-watch can do nothing; hardly save its own skin: for the last twelvemonth, as we have sometimes seen, it has been a kind of pastime to hunt the Watch. Besenval indeed is at hand with soldiers; but they have orders to avoid firing, and are not prompt to stir.

On Monday morning the explosion of petards began: and now it is near midnight of Wednesday; and the “wicker Mannequin” is to be buried,—apparently in the Antique fashion. Long rows of torches, following it, move towards the Hôtel Lamoignon; but “a servant of mine” (Besenval’s) has run to give warning, and there are soldiers come. Gloomy Lamoignon is not to die by conflagration, on this night;—not yet for a year, and then by gunshot (suicidal or accidental is unknown).[110]Foiled Rascality burns its “Mannikin of osier,” under his windows: “tears up the sentry-box,” and rolls off: to try Brienne; to try Dubois, Captain of the Watch. Now, however, all is bestirring itself; Gardes Françaises, Invalides, Horse-patrol: the Torch Procession is met with sharp shot, with the thrusting of bayonets, the slashing of sabres. Even Dubois makes a charge, with that Cavalry of his, and the cruelest charge of all “there are a great many killed and wounded.” Not without clangour, complaint: subsequent criminal trials, and official persons dying of heartbreak![111]So, however, with steel-besom, Rascality is brushed back into its dim depths, and the streets are swept clear.

Not for a century and half had Rascality ventured to step forth in this fashion; not for so long, showed its huge rude lineaments in the light of day. A Wonder and new Thing: as yet gambolling merely, in awkward Brobdingnag sport, not without quaintness; hardly in anger: yet in its huge half-vacant laugh lurks a shade of grimness,—which could unfold itself !

However, the thinkers invited by Loménie are now far on with their pamphlets: States-General, on one plan or another, will infallibly meet; if not in January, as was once hoped, yet at latest in May. Old Duke de Richelieu, moribund in these autumn days, opens his eyes once more, murmuring, “What would Louis Fourteenth” (whom he remembers) “have said!”—then closes them again, for ever, before the evil time.

Book IV: States-General

Chapter I: The Notables Again

The universal prayer, therefore, is to be fulfilled! Always in days of national perplexity, when wrong abounded and help was not, this remedy of States-General was called for; by a Malesherbes, nay by a Fénelon;[112] even Parlements calling for it were “escorted with blessings.” And now behold it is vouchsafed us; States-General shall verily be!

To say, let States-General be, was easy; to say in what manner they shall be, is not so easy. Since the year 1614, there have no States-General met in France; all trace of them has vanished from the living habits of men. Their structure, powers, methods of procedure, which were never in any measure fixed, have now become wholly a vague possibility. Clay which the potter may shape, this way or that:—say rather, the twenty-five millions of potters; for so many have now, more or less, a vote in it! How to shape the States-General? There is a problem. Each Body-corporate, each privileged, each organized Class has secret hopes of its own in that matter; and also secret misgivings of its own,—for , behold, this monstrous twenty-million Class, hitherto the dumb sheep which these others had to agree about the manner of shearing, is now also arising with hopes! It has ceased or is ceasing to be dumb; it speaks through Pamphlets, or at least brays and growls behind them, in unison,—increasing wonderfully their volume of sound.

As for the Parlement of Paris, it has at once declared for the “old form of 1614.” Which form had this advantage, that the Tiers État, Third Estate, or Commons, figured there as a show mainly: whereby the Noblesse and Clergy had but to avoid quarrel between themselves, and decide unobstructed what they thought best. Such was the clearly declared opinion of the Paris Parlement. But, being met by a storm of mere hooting and howling from all men, such opinion was blown straightway to the winds; and the popularity of the Parlement along with it,—never to return. The Parlement’s part, we said above, was as good as played. Concerning which, however, there is this further to be noted: the proximity of dates. It was on the 22nd of September that the Parlement returned from “vacation” or “exile in its estates”; to be reinstalled amid boundless jubilee from all Paris. Precisely next day it was, that this same Parlement came to its “clearly declared opinion”: and then on the morrow after that, you behold it “covered with outrages”; its outer court, one vast sibilation, and the glory departed from it for evermore.[113]A popularity of twenty-four hours was, in those times, no uncommon allowance.

On the other hand, how superfluous was that invitation of Loménie: the invitation to thinkers! Thinkers and unthinkers, by the million, are spontaneously at their post, doing what is in them. Club labour: Société Publicole; Breton Club; Enraged Club, Club des Enragés. Likewise Dinner-parties in the Palais Royal, your Mirabeaus, Talleyrands dining there, in company with Chamforts, Morellets, with Duponts and hot Parlementeers, not without object! For a certain Neckerean Lion’s provider, whom one could name, assembles them there;[114]—or even their own private determination to have dinner does it. And then as to Pamphlets— in figurative language, “it is a sheer snowing of pamphlets; like to snow up the Government thoroughfares!” Now is the time for Friends of Freedom; sane, and even insane.

Count, or self-styled Count, d’Aintrigues, “the young Languedocian gentleman,” with perhaps Chamfort the Cynic to help him, rises into furor almost Pythic; highest, where many are high.[115] Foolish young Languedocian gentleman; who himself so soon, “emigrating among the foremost,” has to fly indignant over the marches, with the Contrat Social in his pocket,—towards outer darkness, thankless intriguings, ignis-fatuus hoverings, and death by the stiletto! Abbé Sieyes has left Chartres Cathedral, and canonry and book-shelves there; has let his tonsure grow, and come to Paris with a secular head, of the most irrefragable sort, to ask three questions, and answer them: What is the Third Estate? All.—What has it hitherto been in our form of government? Nothing.— What does it want? To become Something.

D’Orléans, for be sure he, on his way to Chaos, is in the thick of this,—promulgates his Deliberations;[116] fathered by him, written by Laclos of the Liaisons Dangereuses. The result of which comes out simply: “The Third Estate is the Nation.” On the other hand, Monseigneur d’Artois, with other Princes of the Blood, publishes, in solemn Memorial to the King, that if such things be listened to, Privilege, Nobility, Monarchy, Church, State and Strongbox are in danger.[117] In danger truly: and yet if you do not listen, are they out of danger? It is the voice of all France, this sound that rises. Immeasurable, manifold; as the sound of outbreaking waters: wise were he who knew what to do in it,—if not to fly to the mountains, and hide himself ?

How an ideal, all-seeing Versailles Government, sitting there on such principles, in such an environment, would have determined to demean itself at this new juncture, may even yet be a question. Such a Government would have felt too well that its long task was now drawing to a close; that, under the guise of these States-General, at length inevitable, a new omnipotent Unknown of Democracy was coming into being; in presence of which no Versailles Government either could or should, except in a provisory character, continue extant. To enact which provisory character, so unspeakably important, might its whole faculties but have sufficed; and so a peaceable, gradual, well-conducted Abdication and Domine-dimittas have been the issue!

This for our ideal, all-seeing Versailles Government. But for the actual irrational Versailles Government? Alas! that is a Government existing there only for its own behoof: without right, except possession; and now also without might. It foresees nothing, sees nothing; has not so much as a purpose, but has only purposes,—and the instinct whereby all that exists will struggle to keep existing. Wholly a vortex; in which vain counsels, hallucinations, falsehoods, intrigues, and imbecilities whirl; like withered rubbish in the meeting of winds! The Œil-de-Bœuf has its irrational hopes, if also its fears. Since hitherto all States-General have done as good as nothing, why should these do more? The Commons, indeed, look dangerous; but on the whole is not revolt, unknown now for five generations, an impossibility? The Three Estates can, by management be set against each other; the Third will, as heretofore, join with the King; will, out of mere spite and self-interest, be eager to tax and vex the other two. The other two are thus delivered bound into our hands, that we may fleece them likewise. Whereupon, money being got, and the Three Estates all in quarrel, dismiss them, and let the future go as it can! As good Archbishop Loménie was wont to say: “There are so many accidents; and it needs but one to save us.”—Yes; and how many to destroy us?

Poor Necker in the midst of such an anarchy does what is possible for him. He looks into it with obstinately hopeful face; lauds the known rectitude of the kingly mind; listens indulgent-like to the known perverseness of the queenly and courtly;—emits if any proclamation or regulation, one favouring the Tiers État; but settling nothing; hovering afar off rather, and advising all things to settle themselves. The grand questions, for the present, have got reduced to two: the Double Representation, and the Vote by Head. Shall the Commons have a “double representation,” that is to say, have as many members as the Noblesse and Clergy united? Shall the States-General, when once assembled, vote and deliberate, in one body, or in three separate bodies; “vote by head, or vote by class,”— ordre as they call it? These are the moot-points now filling all France with jargon, logic and eleutheromania. To terminate which, Necker bethinks him, Might not a second Convocation of the Notables be fittest? Such second Convocation is resolved on.

On the 6th of November of this year 1788, these Notables accordingly have reassembled; after an interval of some eighteen months. They are Calonne’s old Notables, the same Hundred and Forty-four,—to show one’s impartiality; likewise to save time. They sit there once again, in their Seven Bureaus, in the hard winter weather: it is the hardest winter seen since 1709; thermometer below zero of Fahrenheit, Seine River frozen over.[118] Cold, scarcity and eleutheromaniac clamour: a changed world since these Notables were “organned out,” in May gone a year! They shall see now whether, under their Seven Princes of the Blood, in their Seven Bureaus, they can settle the moot points.

To the surprise of Patriotism, these Notables, once so patriotic, seem to incline the wrong way; towards the anti-patriotic side. They stagger at the Double Representation, at the Vote by Head: there is not affirmative decision; there is mere debating, and that not with the best aspects. For, indeed, were not these Notables themselves mostly of the Privileged Classes? They clamoured once; now they have their misgivings; make their dolorous representations. Let them vanish, ineffectual; and return no more! They vanish, after a month’s session, on this 12th of December, year 1788: the last terrestrial Notables; not to reappear any other time, in the History of the World.

And so, the clamour still continuing, and the Pamphlets; and nothing but patriotic Addresses, louder and louder, pouring in on us from all corners of France,—Necker himself, some fortnight after, before the year is yet done, as to present his Report;[119] recommending at his own risk that same Double Representation; nay almost enjoining it, so loud is the jargon and eleutheromania. What dubitating, what circumambulating! These whole six noisy months (for it began with Brienne in July), has not Report followed Report, and one Proclamation flown in the teeth of the other?[120]

However, that first moot-point, as we see, is now settled. As for the second, that of voting by Head or by Order, it unfortunately is still left hanging. It hangs there, we may say, between the Privileged Orders and the Unprivileged; as a ready-made battle-prize, and necessity of war, from the very first: which battle-prize whosoever seizes it—may thenceforth bear as battle-flag, with the best omens!

But so, at least, by Royal Edict of the 24th of January,[121] does it finally, to impatient expectant France, become not only indubitable that National Deputies are to meet, but possible (so far and hardly further has the royal Regulation gone) to begin electing them.

Chapter II: The Election

Up, then, and be doing! The royal signal-word flies through France, as through vast forests the rushing of a mighty wind. At Parish Churches, in Townhalls, and every House of Convocation; by Bailliages, by Seneschalsies, in whatsoever form men convene; there, with confusion enough, are Primary Assemblies forming. To elect your Electors; such is the form prescribed: then to draw up your “Writ of Plaints and Grievances (Cahier de plaintes ed doléances),” of which latter there is no lack.

With such virtue works this Royal January Edict; as it rolls rapidly, in its leathern mails, along these frost-bound highways, towards all the four winds. Like some fiat, or magic spell-word;—which such things do resemble! For always, as it sounds out “at the market-cross,” accompanied with trumpet-blast; presided by Bailli, Seneschal, or other minor Functionary, with beef-eaters; or, in country churches, is droned forth after sermon, “au prône des messes paroissales”; and is registered, posted and let fly over all the world,—you behold how this multitudinous French People so long simmering and buzzing in eager expectancy, begins heaping and shaping itself into organic groups. Which organic groups, again, hold smaller organic grouplets: the inarticulate buzzing becomes articulate speaking and acting. By Primary Assembly, and then by Secondary; by “successive elections,” and infinite elaboration and scrutiny, according to prescribed process,—shall the genuine “Plaints and Grievances” be at length got to paper; shall the fit National Representative be at length laid hold of.

How the whole People shakes itself, as if it had one life; and, in thousand-voiced rumour, announces that it is awake, suddenly out of long death-sleep, and will thenceforth sleep no more! The long looked-for has come at last; wondrous news, of Victory, Deliverance, Enfranchisement, sounds magical through every heart. To the proud strong man it has come; whose strong hands shall no more be gyved; to whom boundless unconquered continents lie disclosed. The weary day-drudge has heard of it; the beggar with his crust moistened in tears. What! To us also has hope reached; down even to us? Hunger and hardship are not to be eternal? The bread we extorted from the rugged glebe, and, with the toil of our sinews, reaped and ground, and kneaded into loaves, was not wholly for another, then; but we also shall eat of it, and be filled? Glorious news (answer the prudent elders), but all-too unlikely!—Thus, at any rate, may the lower people, who pay no money taxes and have no right to vote,[122] assiduously crowd round those that do; and most Halls of Assembly, within doors and without, seem animated enough.

Paris, alone of Towns, is to have Representatives; the number of them twenty. Paris is divided into Sixty Districts; each of which (assembled in some church, or the like) is choosing two Electors. Official deputations pass from District to District, for all is inexperience as yet, and there is endless consulting. The streets swarm strangely with busy crowds, pacific yet restless and loquacious; at intervals, is seen the gleam of military muskets; especially about the Palais, where the Parlement, once more on duty, sits querulous, almost tremulous.

Busy is the French world! In those great days, what poorest speculative craftsman but will leave his workshop; if not to vote, yet to assist in voting? On all highways is a rustling and bustling. Over the wide surface of France, ever and anon, through the spring months, as the Sower casts his corn abroad upon the furrows, sounds of congregating and dispersing; of crowds in deliberation, acclamation, voting by ballot and by voice,—rise discrepant towards the ear of Heaven. To which political phenomena add this economical one, that Trade is stagnant, and also Bread getting dear; for before the rigorous winter there was, as we said, a rigorous summer, with drought, and on the 13th of July with destructive hail. What a fearful day! all cried while that tempest fell. Alas, the next anniversary of it will be a worse.[123] Under such aspects is France electing National Representatives.

The incidents and specialties of these Elections belong not to Universal, but to Local or Parish History: for which reason let not the new troubles of Grenoble or Besançon: the bloodshed on the streets of Rennes, and consequent march thither of the Breton “Young Men” with Manifesto by their “Mothers, Sisters and Sweethearts”;[124]nor such like, detain us here. It is the same sad history everywhere; with superficial variations. A reinstated Parlement (as at Besançon), which stands astonished at this Behemoth of a States-General it had itself evoked, starts forward, with more or less audacity, to fix a thorn in its nose; and, alas, is instantaneously struck down, and hurled quite out,—for the new popular force can use not only arguments but brickbats! Or else, and perhaps combined with this, it is an order of Noblesse (as in Brittany), which will beforehand tie up the Third Estate, that it harm not the old privileges. In which act of tying up, never so skilfully set about, there is likewise no possibility of prospering; but the Behemoth-Briareus snaps your cords like green rushes. Tie up? Alas, Messieurs! And then, as for your chivalry rapiers, valour and wager-of-battle, think one moment, how can that answer? The plebeian heart too has red life in it, which changes not to paleness at glance even of you; and “the six hundred Breton gentlemen, assembled in arms, for seventy-two hours, in the Cordeliers’ Cloister, at Rennes,”—have to come out again, wiser than they entered. For the Nantes Youth, the Angers Youth, all Brittany was astir; “mothers, sisters and sweethearts” shrieking after them, March! The Breton Noblesse must even let the mad world have its way.[125]

In other Provinces, the Noblesse, with equal good-will, finds it better to stick to Protests, to well-redacted “Cahiers of grievances,” and satirical writings and speeches. Such is partially their course in Provence; whither indeed Gabriel Honoré Riquetti Comte de Mirabeau has rushed down from Paris, to speak a word in season. In Provence, the Privileged, backed by their Aix Parlement, discover that such novelties, enjoined though they be by Royal Edict, tend to National detriment; and, what is still more indisputable, “to impair the dignity of the Noblesse.” Whereupon Mirabeau protesting aloud, this same Noblesse, amid huge tumult within doors and without, flatly determines to expel him from their Assembly. No other method, not even that of successive duels, would answer with him, the obstreperous fierce-glaring man. Expelled he accordingly is.

“In all countries, in all times,” exclaims he departing, “the Aristocrats have implacably pursued every friend of the People; and with tenfold implacability, if such a one were himself born of the Aristocracy. It was thus that the last of the Gracchi perished, by the hands of the Patricians. But he, being struck with the mortal stab, flung dust towards heaven, and called on the Avenging Deities; and from this dust there was born Marius,—Marius not so illustrious for exterminating the Cimbri, as for overturning in Rome the Tyranny of the Nobles.”[126] Casting up which new curious handful of dust (through the Printing-press), to breed what it can and may, Mirabeau stalks forth into the Third Estate.

That he now, to ingratiate himself with this Third Estate, “opened a cloth-shop in Marseilles,” and for moments became a furnishing tailor, or even the fable that he did so, is to us always among the pleasant memorabilities of this era. Stranger Clothier never wielded the ellwand; and rent webs for men, or fractional parts of men. The Fils Adoptif is indignant at such disparaging fable,[127]—which nevertheless was widely believed in those days.[128] But indeed, if Achilles, in the heroic ages, killed mutton, why should not Mirabeau, in the unheroic ones, measure broadcloth?

More authentic are his triumph-progresses through that disturbed district, with mob jubilee, flaming torches, “windows hired for two louis,” and voluntary guard of a hundred men. He is Deputy Elect, both of Aix and Marseilles; but will prefer Aix. He has opened his far-sounding voice, the depths of his far-sounding soul; he can quell (such virtue is in a spoken word) the pride-tumults of the rich; the hunger-tumults of the poor; and wild multitudes move under him, as under the moon do billows of the sea: he has become a world-compeller, and ruler over men.

One other incident and specialty we note; with how different an interest! It is of the Parlement of Paris; which starts forward, like the others (only with less audacity, seeing better how it lay), to nose-ring that Behemoth of a States-General. Worthy Doctor Guillotin, respectable practitioner in Paris, has drawn up his little “Plan of a Cahier of doléances ”;—as had he not, having the wish and gift, the clearest liberty to do? He is getting the people to sign it; whereupon the surly Parlement summons him to give account of himself. He goes; but with all Paris at his heels; which floods the outer courts, and copiously signs the Cahier even there, while the Doctor is giving account of himself within! The Parlement cannot too soon dismiss Guillotin, with compliments; to be borne home shoulder-high.[129] This respectable Guillotin we hope to behold once more, and perhaps only once; the Parlement not even once, but let it be ungulfed unseen by us.

Meanwhile such things, cheering as they are, tend little to cheer the national creditor, or indeed the creditor of any kind. In the midst of universal portentous doubt, what certainty can seem so certain as money in the purse, and the wisdom of keeping it there? Trading Speculation, Commerce of all kinds, has as far as possible come to a dead pause; and the hand of the industrious lies idle in his bosom. Frightful enough, when now the rigour of seasons has also done its part, and to scarcity of work is added scarcity of food! In the opening spring, there come rumours of forestalment, there come King’s Edicts, Petitions of bakers against millers; and at length, in the month of April,— troops of ragged Lackalls, and fierce cries of starvation! These are the thrice-famed Brigands: an actually existing quontity of persons; who, long reflected and reverberated through so many millions of heads, as in concave multiplying mirrors, become a whole Brigand World; and, like a kind of Supernatural Machinery, wondrously move the Epos of the Revolution. The Brigands are here; the Brigands are there; the Brigands are coming! Not otherwise sounded the clang of Phoebus Apollo’s silver bow, scattering pestilence and pale terror: for this clang too was of the imagination; preternatural; and it too walked in formless immeasurability, having made itself like to the Night (νυκτἱἐοικς)!

But remark at least, for the first time, the singular empire of Suspicion, in those lands, in those days. If poor famishing men shall, prior to death, gather in groups and crowds, as the poor fieldfares and plovers do in bitter weather, were it but that they may chirp mournfully together, and misery look in the eyes of misery; if famishing men (what famishing fieldfares cannot do) should discover, once congregated, that they need not die while food is in the land, since they are many, and with empty wallets have right hands: in all this, what need were there of Preternatural Machinery? To most people none; but not to French people, in a time of Revolution. These Brigands (as Turgot’s also were, fourteen years ago) have all been set on; enlisted, though without tap of drum,—by Aristocrats, by Democrats, by D’Orléans, D’Artois, and enemies of the public weal. Nay Historians, to this day, will prove it by one argument: these Brigands, pretending to have no victual, nevertheless contrive to drink, nay have been seen drunk.[130]An unexampled fact! But on the whole, may we not predict that a people, with such a width of Credulity and of Incredulity (the proper union of which makes Suspicion, and indeed unreason generally), will see Shapes enough of Immortals fighting in its battle-ranks, and never want for Epical Machinery?

Be this as it may, the Brigands are clearly got to Paris, in considerable multitudes:[131] with sallow faces, lank hair (the true enthusiast complexion), with sooty rags; and also with large clubs, which they spite angrily against the pavement! These mingle in the Election tumult; would fain sign Guillotin’s Cahier, or any Cahier or Petition whatsoever, could they but write. Their enthusiast complexion, the smiting of their sticks bodes little good to any one; least of all to rich master-manufacturers of the Suburb Saint-Antoine, with whose workmen they consort.

Chapter III: Grown Electric

But now also National Deputies from all ends of France are in Paris, with their commissions, what they call pouvoirs, or powers, in their pockets; inquiring, consulting; looking out for lodgings at Versailles. The States-General shall open there, if not on the First, then surely on the Fourth of May; in grand procession and gala. The Salle des Menus is all new-carpentered, bedizened for them; their very costume has been fixed: a grand controversy which there was, as to “slouch-hats or slouched-hats,” for the Commons Deputies, has got as good as adjusted. Ever new strangers arrive: loungers, miscellaneous persons, officers on furlough,—as the worthy Captain Dampmartin, whom we hope to be acquainted with: these also, from all regions, have repaired hither, to see what is toward. Our Paris Committees, of the Sixty Districts, are busier than ever; it is now too clear, the Paris Elections will be late.

On Monday, the 27th day of April, Astronomer Bailly notices that the Sieur Réveillon is not at his post. The Sieur Réveillon, “extensive Paper Manufacturer of the Rue Saint-Antoine”: he, commonly so punctual, is absent from Electoral Committee;—and even will never reappear there. In those “immense Magazines of velvet paper,” has aught befallen? Alas, yes! Alas, it is no Montgolfier rising there to-day; but Drudgery, Rascality and the Suburb that is rising! Was the Sieur Réveillon, himself once a journeyman, heard to say that “a journeyman might live handsomely on fifteen sous a-day”? Some sevenpence half-penny: ’tis a slender sum! Or was he only thought, and believed, to be heard saying it? But this long chafing and friction, it would appear, the National temper has got electric.

Down in those dark dens, in those dark heads and hungry hearts, who knows in what strange figure the new Political Evangel may have shaped itself; what miraculous “Communion of Drudges” may be getting formed! Enough: grim individuals, soon waxing to grim multitudes, and other multitudes crowding to see, beset that Paper-Warehouse; demonstrate, in loud ungrammatical language (addressed to the passions too), the insufficiency of sevenpence halfpenny a-day. The City-watch cannot dissipate them; broils arise and bellowings: Réveillon, at his wit’s end, entreats the Populace, entreats the Authorities. Besenval, now in active command, Commandant of Paris, does, towards evening, to Révellion’s earnest prayer, send some thirty Gardes Françaises. These clear the street, happily without firing; and take post there for the night, in hope that it may be all over.[132]

Not so: on the morrow it is far worse. Saint-Antoine has arisen anew, grimmer than ever;—reinforced by the unknown Tatterdemalion Figures, with their enthusiast complexion, and large sticks. The City, through all streets, is flowing thitherward to see: “two cartloads of paving-stones, that happened to pass that way,” have been seized as a visible godsend. Another detachment of Gardes Françaises must be sent; Besenval and the Colonel taking earnest counsel. Then still another; they hardly, with bayonets and menace of bullets, penetrate to the spot. What a sight! A street choked up, with lumber, tumult and the endless press of men. A Paper-Warehouse eviscerated by axe and fire: mad din of Revolt; musket-volleys responded to by yells, by miscellaneous missiles, by tiles raining from roof and window,—tiles, execrations and slain men!

The Gardes Françaises like it not, but have to persevere. All day it continues, slackening and rallying; the sun is sinking, and Saint-Antoine has not yielded. The City flies hither and thither: alas, the sound of that musket-volleying booms into the far dining-rooms of the Chaussée d’Antin; alters the tone of the dinner-gossip there. Captain Dampmartin leaves his wine; goes out with a friend or two, to see the fighting. Unwashed men growl on him, with murmurs of “A bas les Aristocrates (Down with the Aristocrats)”; and insult the cross of Saint Louis! They elbow him, and hustle him; but do not pick his pocket;— as indeed at Révellion’s too there was not the slightest stealing.[133]

At fall of night, as the thing will not end, Besenval takes his resolution: orders out the Gardes Suisses with two pieces of artillery. The Swiss Guards shall proceed thither; summon that rabble to depart, in the King’s name. If disobeyed, they shall load their artillery with grape-shot, visibly to the general eye; shall again summon; if again disobeyed, fire,—and keep firing “till the last man” be in this manner blasted off, and the street clear. With which spirited resolution, as might have been hoped, the business is got ended. At sight of the lit matches, of the foreign red-coated Switzers, Saint-Antoine dissipates; hastily, in the shades of dusk. There is an encumbered street; there are “from four to five hundred” dead men. Unfortunate Réveillon has found shelter in the Bastille; does therefrom, safe behind stone bulwarks, issue plaint, protestation, explanation, for the next month. Bold Besenval has thanks from all the respectable Parisian classes; but finds no special notice taken of him at Versailles,—a thing the man of true worth is used to.[134]

But how it originated, this fierce electric sputter and explosion? From D’Orléans! cries the Court-party: he, with his gold, enlisted these Brigands,—surely in some surprising manner, without sound of drum: he raked them in hither, from all corners; to ferment and take fire; evil is his good. From the Court! cries enlightened Patriotism: it is the cursed gold and wiles of Aristocrats that enlisted them; set them upon ruining an innocent Sieur Réveillon; to frighten the faint, and disgust men with the career of Freedom.

Besenval, with reluctance, concludes that it came from “the English, our natural enemies.” Or, alas, might one not rather attribute it to Diana in the shape of Hunger? To some twin Dioscuri, OPPRESSION and REVENGE; so often seen in the battles of men? Poor Lackalls, all be-toiled, besoiled, encrusted into dim defacement;—into whom nevertheless the breath of the Almighty has breathed a living soul! To them it is clear only that eleutheromaniac Philosophism has yet baked no bread; that Patriot Committee-men will level down to their own level, and no lower. Brigands or whatever they might be, it was bitter earnest with them. They bury their dead with the title of Défenseurs de la Patrie, Martyrs of the good Cause.

Or shall we say: Insurrection has now served its Apprenticeship; and this was its proof-stroke, and no inconclusive one? Its next will be a master-stroke; announcing indisputable Mastership to a whole astonished world. Let that rock-fortress, Tyranny’s stonghold, which they name Bastille, or Building, as if there were no other building,—look to its guns!

But, in such wise, with primary and secondary Assemblies, and Cahiers of Grievances; with motions, congregations of all kinds; with much thunder of froth-eloquence, and at last with thunder of platoonmusquetry,—does agitated France accomplish its Elections. With confused winnowing and sifting, in this rather tumultuous manner, it has now (all except some remnants of Paris) sifted out the true wheat-grains of National Deputies, Twelve Hundred and Fourteen in number; and will forthwith open its States-General.

Chapter IV: The Procession

On the first Saturday of May, it is gala at Versailles; and Monday, fourth of the month, is to be a still greater day. The Deputies have mostly got thither, and sought out lodgings; and are now successively, in long well-ushered files, kissing the hand of Majesty in the Château. Supreme Usher de Brézé does not give the highest satisfaction: we cannot but observe that in ushering Noblesse or Clergy into the anointed Presence, he liberally opens both his folding-doors; and on the other hand, for members of the Third Estate, opens only one! However, there is room to enter; Majesty has smiles for all.

The good Louis welcomes his Honourable Members, with smiles of hope. He has prepared for them the Hall of Menus, the largest near him; and often surveyed the workmen as they went on. A spacious Hall: with raised platform for Throne, Court and Blood-royal; space for six hundred Commons Deputies in front; for half as many Clergy on this hand, and half as many Noblesse on that. It has lofty galleries; wherefrom dames of honour, splendent in gaze d’or; foreign Diplomacies, and other gilt-edged white-frilled individuals, to the number of two thousand,—may sit and look. Broad passages flow through it; and, outside the inner wall, all round it. There are committee-rooms, guard-rooms, robing-rooms: really a noble Hall; where upholstery, aided by the subject fine-arts, has done its best; and crimson tasselled cloths, and emblematic Fleurs-de-lys are not wanting.

The Hall is ready: the very costume, as we said, has been settled; and the Commons are not to wear that hated slouch-hat (chapeau clabaud), but one not quite so slouched (chapean rabattu). As for their manner of working, when all dressed; for their “voting by head or by order” and the rest,—this, which it were perhaps still time to settle, and in few hours will be no longer time, remains unsettled; hangs dubious in the breast of Twelve Hundred men.

But now finally the Sun, on Monday the 4th of May, has risen;— unconcerned, as if it were no special day. And yet, as his first rays could strike music from the Memnon’s Statue on the Nile, what tones were these, so thrilling, tremulous, of preparation and foreboding, which he awoke in every bosom at Versailles! Huge Paris, in all conceivable and inconceivable vehicles, is pouring itself forth; from each Town and Village come subsidiary rills: Versailles is a very sea of men. But above all, from the Church of St. Louis to the Church of Notre-Dame: one vast suspended-billow of Life,—with spray scattered even to the chimney-tops! For on chimney-tops too, as over the roofs, and up thitherwards on every lamp-iron, signpost, breakneck coign of vantage, sits patriotic Courage; and ever window bursts with patriotic Beauty: for the Deputies are gathering at St. Louis Church; to march in procession to Notre-Dame, and hear sermon.

Yes, friends, ye may sit and look: bodily or in thought, all France, and all Europe, may sit and look; for it is a day like few others. Oh, one might weep like Xerxes:—So many serried rows sit perched there; like winged creatures, alighted out of Heaven: all these, and so many more that follow them, shall have wholly fled aloft again, vanishing into the blue Deep; and the memory of this day still be fresh. It is the baptism day of Democracy; sick Time has given it birth, the numbered months being run. The extreme-unction day of Feudalism! A superannuated System of Society, decrepit with toils (for has it not done much; produced you, and what ye have and know!)—and with thefts and brawls, named glorious-victories; and with profligacies, sensualities, and on the whole with dotage and senility,—is now to die: and so, with death-throes and birth-throes, a new one is to be born. What a work, O Earth and Heavens, what a work! Battles and bloodshed, September Massacres, Bridges of Lodi, retreats of Moscow, Waterloos, Peterloos, Tenpound Franchises, Tarbarrels and Guillotines;——and from this present date, if one might prophesy, some two centuries of it still to fight! Two centuries; hardly less; before Democracy go through its due, most baleful, states of Quackocracy; and a pestilential World be burnt up, and have begun to grown green and young again.

Rejoice nevertheless, ye Versailles multitudes; to you, from whom all this is hid, the glorious end of it is visible. This day, sentence of death is pronounced on Shams; judgement of resuscitation, were it but afar off, is pronounced on Realities. This day, it is declared aloud, as with a Doom-trumpet, that a Lie is unbelievable. Believe that, stand by that, if more there be not; and let what thing or things soever will follow it follow. “Ye can no other; God be your help!” So spake a greater than any of you; opening his Chapter of World-History.

Behold, however! The doors of St. Louis Church flung wide; and the Procession of Processions advancing towards Notre-Dame! Shouts rend the air; one shout, at which Grecian birds might drop dead. It is indeed a stately, solemn sight. The Elected of France, and then the Court of France; they are marshalled and march there, all in prescribed place and costume. Our Commons “in plain black mantle and white cravat”; Noblesse, in gold-worked, bright-dyed cloaks of velvet, resplendent, rustling with laces, waving with plumes; the Clergy in rochet, alb, or other best pontificalibus: lastly comes the King himself, and King’s Household, also in their brightest blaze of pomp,—their brightest and final one. Some Fourteen Hundred Men blown together from all winds, on the deepest errand.

Yes, in that silent marching mass there lies Futurity enough. No symbolic Ark, like the old Hebrews, do these men bear: yet with them too is a Covenant; they too preside at a new Era in the History of Men. The whole Future is there, and Destiny dim-brooding over it; in the hearts and unshaped thoughts of these men, it lies illegible, inevitable. Singular to think: they have it in them; yet not they, not mortal, only the Eye above can read it,—as it shall unfold itself, in fire and thunder, of siege, and field artillery; in the rustling of battle-banners, the tramp of hosts, in the glow of burning cities, the shriek of strangled nations! Such things lie hidden, safe-wrapt in this Fourth day of May;—say rather, had lain in some other unknown day, of which this latter is the public fruit and outcome. As indeed what wonders lie in every Day,— had we the sight, as happily we have not, to decipher it: for is not every meanest Day “the conflux of two Eternities!”

Meanwhile, suppose we too, good Reader, should, as now without miracle Muse Clio enables us,—take our station also on some coign of vantage; and glance momentarily over this Procession, and this Life-sea; with far other eyes than the rest do,—namely with prophetic? We can mount, and stand there, without fear of falling.

As for the Life-sea, or onlooking unnumbered Multitude, it is unfortunately all-too dim. Yet as we gaze fixedly, do not nameless Figures not a few, which shall not always be nameless, disclose themselves; visible or presumable there! Young Baroness de Staël—she evidently looks from a window; among older honourable women.[135]Her father is Minister, and one of the gala personages; to his own eyes the chief one. Young spiritual Amazon, thy rest is not there; nor thy loved Father’s: “as Malebranche saw all things in God, so M. Necker sees all things in Necker,”—a theorem that will not hold.

But where is the brown-locked, light-behaved, fire-hearted Demoiselle Théroigne? Brown eloquent Beauty; who, with thy winged words and glances, shall thrill rough bosoms, whole steel battalions, and persuade an Austrian Kaiser,—pike and helm lie provided for thee in due season; and, alas, also straight-waistcoat and long lodging in the Salpêtrière! Better hadst thou stayed in native Luxemburg, and been the mother of some brave man’s children: but it was not thy task, it was not thy lot.

Of the rougher sex how, without tongue, or hundred tongues of iron, enumerate the notabilities! Has not Marquis Valadi hastily quitted his Quaker broadbrim; his Pythagorean Greek in Wapping, and the city of Glasgow?[136] De Morande from his Courrier de l’Europe; Linguet from his Annales, they looked eager through the London fog, and became Ex-Editors,—that they might feed the guillotine, and have their due. Does Louvet (of Faublas) stand a-tiptoe? And Brissot, hight De Warville, friend of the Blacks? He, with Marquis Condorcet, and Clavière the Genevese “have created the Moniteur Newspaper,” or are about creating it. Able Editors must give account of such a day.

Or seest thou with any distinctness, low down probably, not in places of honour, a Stanislas Maillard, riding-tipstaff (huissier à cheval) of the Châtelet; one of the shiftiest of men? A Captain Hulin of Geneva, Captain Elie of the Queen’s Regiment; both with an air of half-pay? Jourdan, with tile-coloured whiskers, not yet with tile-beard; an unjust dealer in mules? He shall be, in few months, Jourdan the Headsman, and have other work.

Surely also, in some place not of honour, stands or sprawls up querulous, that he too, though short, may see,—one squalidest bleared mortal, redolent of soot and horse-drugs: Jean Paul Marat of Neuchâtel! O Marat, Renovator of Human Science, Lecturer on Optics; O thou remarkablest Horseleech, once in D’Artois’ Stables,—as thy bleared soul looks forth, through thy bleared, dull-acrid, woe-stricken face, what sees it in all this? Any faintest light of hope; like dayspring after Nova-Zembla night? Or is it but blue sulphur-light, and spectres; woe, suspicion, revenge without end?

Of Draper Lecointre, how he shut his cloth-shop hard by, and stepped forth, one need hardly speak. Nor of Santerre, the sonorous Brewer from the Faubourg St. Antoine. Two other Figures, and only two, we signalize there. The huge, brawny Figure; through whose black brows, and rude flattened face (figure écrasée ), there looks a waste energy as of Hercules not yet furibund,—he is an esurient, unprovided Advocate; Danton by name: him mark. Then that other, his slight-built comrade, and craft-brother; he with the long curling locks; with the face of dingy blackguardism, wondrously irradiated with genius, as if a naphtha-lamp burnt within it: that Figure is Camille Desmoulins. A fellow of infinite shrewdness, wit, nay humour; one of the sprightliest clearest souls in all these millions. Thou poor Camille, say of thee what they may, it were but falsehood to pretend one did not almost love thee, thou headlong lightly sparkling man! But the brawny, not yet furibund Figure, we say, is Jacques Danton; a name that shall be “tolerably known in the Revolution.” He is President of the electoral Cordeliers District at Paris, or about to be it; and shall open his lungs of brass.

We dwell no longer on the mixed shouting Multitude: for now, behold, the Commons Deputies are at hand!

Which of these Six Hundred individuals, in plain white cravat, that have come up to regenerate France, might one guess would become their king? For a king or leader they, as all bodies of men, must have: be their work what it may, there is one man there who, by character, faculty, position, is fittest of all to do it; that man, as future not yet elected king, walks there among the rest. He with the thick black locks, will it be? With the hure, as himself calls it, or black boar’s-head, fit to be “shaken” as a senatorial portent? Through whose shaggy beetle-brows, and rough-hewn, seamed, carbuncled face, there look natural ugliness, small-pox, incontinence, bankruptcy,—and burning fire of genius; like comet-fire glaring fuliginous through murkiest confusions? It is Gabriel Honoré Riquetti de Mirabeau, the world-compeller; man-ruling Deputy of Aix! According to the Baroness de Staël, he steps proudly along, though looked at askance here; and shakes his black chevelure, or lion’smane; as if prophetic of great deeds.

Yes, Reader, that is the Type-Frenchman of this epoch; as Voltaire was of the last. He is French in his aspirations, acquisitions, in his virtues, in his vices; perhaps more French than any other man;—and intrinsically such a mass of manhood too. Mark him well. The National Assembly were all different without that one; nay, he might say with the old Despot: “The National Assembly? I am that.”

Of a southern climate, of wild southern blood: for the Riquettis, or Arrighettis, had to fly from Florence and the Guelfs, long centuries ago, and settled in Provence; where from generation to generation they have ever approved themselves a peculiar kindred: irascible, indomitable, sharp-cutting, true, like the steel they wore; of an intensity and activity that sometimes verged towards madness, yet did not reach it. One ancient Riquetti, in mad fulfilment of a mad vow, chains two Mountains together; and the chain, with its “iron star of five rays,” is still to be seen. May not a modern Riquetti unchain so much, and set it drifting,—which also shall be seen?

Destiny has work for that swart burly-headed Mirabeau: Destiny has watched over him, prepared him from afar. Did not his Grandfather, stout Col-d’Argent (Silver-Stock, so they named him), shattered and slashed by seven-and-twenty wounds in one fell day, lie sunk together on the Bridge at Casano; while Prince Eugene’s cavalry galloped and regalloped over him,—only the flying sergeant had thrown a camp-kettle over that loved head; and Vendôme, dropping his spy-glass, moaned out, “Mirabeau is dead, then!” Nevertheless he was not dead: he awoke to breath, and miraculous surgery;—for Gabriel was yet to be. With his silver stock he kept his scarred head erect, through long years; and wedded; and produced tough Marquis Victor, the Friend of Men. Whereby at last in the appointed year 1749, this long-expected rough-hewn Gabriel Honoré did likewise see the light: roughest lion’s whelp ever littered of that rough breed. How the old lion (for our old Marquis too was lionlike, most unconquerable, kingly-genial, most perverse) gazed wondering on his offspring; and determined to train him as no lion had yet been! It is in vain, O Marquis! This cub, though thou slay him and flay him, will not learn to draw in dogcart of Political Economy, and be a Friend of Men; he will not be Thou, but must and will be Himself, another than Thou. Divorce lawsuits, “whole family save one in prison, and three-score Lettres-de-Cachet” for thy own sole use, do but astonish the world.

Our luckless Gabriel, sinned against and sinning, has been in the Isle of Rhé, and heard the Atlantic from his tower; in the Castle of If, and heard the Mediterranean at Marseilles. He has been in the Fortress of Joux; and forty-two months, with hardly clothing to his back, in the Dungeon of Vincennes;—all by Lettre-de-Cachet, from his lion father. He has been in Pontarlier Jails (self-constituted prisoner); was noticed fording estuaries of the sea (at low water), in flight from the face of men. He has pleaded before Aix Parlements (to get back his wife); the public gathering on roofs, to see since they could not hear: “the clatter-teeth (claque-dents)!” snarls singular old Mirabeau; discerning in such admired forensic eloquence nothing but two chattering jaw-bones, and a head vacant, sonorous, of the drum species.

But as for Gabriel Honoré, in these strange wayfarings, what has he not seen and tried! From drill-sergeants, to prime ministers, to foreign and domestic booksellers, all manner of men he has seen. All manner of men he has gained; for at bottom it is a social, loving heart, that wild unconquerable one:—more especially all manner of women. From the Archer’s Daughter at Saintes to that fair young Sophie Madame Monnier, whom he could not but “steal,” and be beheaded for—in effigy! For indeed hardly since the Arabian Prophet lay dead to Ali’s admiration, was there seen such a Love-hero, with the strength of thirty men. In War, again, he has helped to conquer Corsica; fought duels, irregular brawls; horsewhipped calumnious barons. In Literature, he has written on Despotism, on Lettres-de-Cachet; Erotics Saphic-Werterean, Obscenities, Profanities; Books on the Prussian Monarchy, on Cagliostro, on Calonne, on the Water Companies of Paris:—each Book comparable, we will say, to a bituminous alarum-fire; huge, smoky, sudden! The firepan, the kindling, the bitumen were his own; but the lumber, of rags, old wood and nameless combustible rubbish (for all is fuel to him), was gathered from hucksters, and asspaniers, of every description under heaven. Whereby, indeed, hucksters enough have been heard to exclaim: Out upon it, the fire is mine!

Nay, consider it more generally, seldom had man such a talent for borrowing. The idea, the faculty of another man he can make his; the man himself he can make his. “All reflex and echo (tout de reflet et de réverbère)!” snarls old Mirabeau, who can see, but will not. Crabbed old Friend of Men! it is his sociality, his aggregative nature; and will now be the quality of qualities for him. In that forty years’ “struggle against despotism,” he has gained the glorious faculty of self-help, and yet not lost the glorious natural gift of fellowship, of being helped. Rare union: this man can live self-sufficing—yet lives also in the life of other men; can make men love him, work with him; a born king of men!

But consider further how, as the old Marquis still snarls, he has “made away with (humé, swallowed) all Formulas”;—a fact which, if we meditate it, will in these days mean much. This is no man of system, then; he is only a man of instincts and insights. A man nevertheless who will glare fiercely on any object; and see through it, and conquer it: for he has intellect, he has will, force beyond other men. A man not with logic-spectacles; but with an eye! Unhappily without Decalogue, moral Code or Theorem of any fixed sort; yet not without a strong living Soul in him, and Sincerity there: a Reality, not an Artificiality, not a Sham! And so he, having struggled “forty years against despotism,” and “made away with all formulas,” shall now become the spokesman of a Nation bent to do the same. For is it not precisely the struggle of France also to cast off despotism; to make away with her old formulas,—having found them naught, worn out, far from the reality? She will make away with such formulas;—and even go bare, if need be, till she have found new ones.

Towards such work, in such manner, marches he, this singular Riquetti Mirabeau. In fiery rough figure, with black Samson-locks under the slouch-hat, he steps along there. A firey fuliginous mass, which could not be choked and smothered, but would fill all France with smoke. And now it has got air; it will burn its whole substance, its whole smoke-atmosphere too, and fill all France with flame. Strange lot! Forty years of that smouldering, with foul fire-damp and vapour enough; then victory over that;—and like a burning mountain he blazes heaven-high; and for twenty-three resplendent months, pours out, in flame and molten fire-torrents, all that is in him, the Pharos and Wonder-sign of an amazed Europe;—and then lies hollow, cold for ever! Pass on, thou questionable Gabriel Honoré, the greatest of them all: in the whole National Deputies, in the whole Nation, there is none like and none second to thee.

But now if Mirabeau is the greatest, who of these Six Hundred may be the meanest? Shall we say, that anxious, slight, ineffectual-looking man, under thirty, in spectacles; his eyes (were the glasses off) troubled, careful; with upturned face, snuffing dimly the uncertain future times; complexion of a multiplex atrabiliar colour, the final shade of which may be the pale sea-green.[137] That greenish-coloured (verdâtre) individual is an Advocate of Arras; his name is Maximilien Robespierre. The son of an Advocate; his father founded mason-lodges under Charles Edward, the English Prince or Pretender. Maximilien the first-born was thriftily educated; he had brisk Camille Desmoulins for schoolmate in the College of Louis le Grand, at Paris. But he begged our famed Necklace-Cardinal, Rohan, the patron, to let him depart thence, and resign in favour of a younger brother. The strict-minded Max departed; home to paternal Arras; and even had a Law-case there and pleaded, not unsuccessfully, “in favour of the first Franklin thunder-rod.” With a strict painful mind, an understanding small but clear and ready, he grew in favour with official persons, who could foresee in him an excellent man of business, happily quite free from genius. The Bishop, therefore, taking counsel, appoints him Judge of his diocese; and he faithfully does justice to the people: till behold, one day, a culprit comes whose crime merits hanging; and the strict-minded Max must abdicate, for his conscience will not permit the dooming of any son of Adam to die. A strict-minded, strait-laced man! A man unfit for Revolutions? Whose small soul, transparent wholesome-looking as small-ale, could by no chance ferment into virulent alegar,—the mother of ever new alegar; till all France were grown acetous virulent? We shall see.

Between which two extremes of grandest and meanest, so many grand and mean roll on, towards their several destinies, in that Procession! There is Cazalès, the learned young soldier; who shall become the eloquent orator of Royalism, and earn the shadow of a name. Experienced Mounier, experienced Malouet; whose Presidential Parlementary experience the stream of things shall soon leave stranded. A Pétion has left his gown and briefs at Chartres for a stormier sort of pleading; has not forgotten his violin, being fond of music. His hair is grizzled, though he is still young: convictions, beliefs placid-unalterable are in that man; not hindmost of them, belief in himself. A Protestant-clerical Rabaut-St.-Etienne, a slender young eloquent and vehement Barnave, will help to regenerate France. There are so many of them young. Till thirty the Spartans did not suffer a man to marry: but how many men here under thirty; coming to produce not one sufficient citizen, but a nation and a world of such! The old to heal up rents; the young to remove rubbish:—which latter, is it not, indeed, the task here?

Dim, formless from this distance, yet authentically there, thou noticest the Deputies from Nantes? To us mere clothes-screens, with slouch-hat and cloak, but bearing in their pocket a Cahier of doléances with this singular clause, and more such, in it: “That the master wig-makers of Nantes be not troubled with new guild-brethren, the actually existing number of ninety-two being more than sufficient!”[138] The Rennes people have elected Farmer Gérard, “a man of natural sense and rectitude, without any learning.” He walks there, with solid step; unique, “in his rustic farmer-clothes”; which he will wear always; careless of short-cloaks and costumes. The name Gérard, or “Père Gérard, Father Gérard,” as they please to call him, will fly far; borne about in endless banter; in Royalist satires, in Republican didactic Almanacs.[139] As for the man Gérard, being asked once, what he did, after trial of it, candidly think of this Parlementary work,—“I think,” answered he, “that there are a good many scoundrels among us.” So walks Father Gérard; solid in his thick shoes, whithersoever bound.

And worthy Doctor Guillotin, whom we hoped to behold one other time? If not here, the Doctor should be here, and we see him with the eye of prophecy: for indeed the Parisian Deputies are all a little late. Singular Guillotin, respectable practitioner; doomed by a satiric destiny to the strangest immortal glory that ever kept obscure mortal from his resting-place, the bosom of oblivion! Guillotin can improve the ventilation of the Hall; in all cases of medical police and hygiène be a present aid: but, greater far, he can produce his “Report on the Penal Code”; and reveal therein a cunningly devised Beheading Machine, which shall become famous and world-famous. This is the product of Guillotin’s endeavours, gained not without meditation and reading; which product popular gratitude or levity christens by a feminine derivative name, as if it were his daughter: La Guillotine! “With my machine, Messieurs, I whisk off your head (vous fais sauter la tête) in a twinkling, and you have no pain”;—whereat they all laugh.[140]Unfortunate Doctor! For two-and-twenty years he, unguillotined, shall hear nothing but guillotine, see nothing but guillotine; then dying, shall through long centuries wander, as it were, a disconsolate ghost, on the wrong side of Styx and Lethe; his name like to outlive Caesar’s.

See Bailly, likewise of Paris, time-honoured Historian of Astronomy Ancient and Modern. Poor Bailly, how thy serenely beautiful Philosophizing, with its soft moonshiny clearness and thinness, ends in foul thick confusion—of Presidency, Mayorship, diplomatic Officiality, rabid Triviality, and the throat of everlasting Darkness! Far was it to descend from the heavenly Galaxy to the Drapeau Rouge: beside that fatal dung-heap, on that last hell-day, thou must “tremble,” though only with cold, “de froid.” Speculation is not practice: to be weak is not so miserable; but to be weaker than our task. Woe the day when they mounted thee, a peaceable pedestrian, on that wild Hippogryff of a Democracy; which, spurning the firm earth, nay lashing at the very stars, no yet known Astolpho could have ridden!

In the Commons Deputies there are Merchants, Artists, Men of Letters; three hundred and seventy-four Lawyers;[141] and at least one Clergyman: the Abbé Sieyes. Him also Paris sends, among its twenty. Behold him, the light thin man; cold, but elastic, wiry; instinct with the pride of Logic; passionless, or with but one passion, that of self-conceit. If indeed that can be called a passion, which, in its independent concentrated greatness, seems to have soared into transcendentalism; and to sit there with a kind of god-like indifference, and look down on passion! He is the man, and wisdom shall die with him. This is the Sieyes who shall be System-builder, Constitution-builder General; and build Constitutions (as many as wanted) skyhigh,—which shall all unfortunately fall before he get the scaffolding away. “La Politique,” said he to Dumont, “Polity is a science I think I have completed (achevée).”[142] What things, O Sieyes, with thy clear assiduous eyes, art thou to see! But were it not curious to know how Sieyes, now in these days (for he is said to be still alive)[143], looks out on all that Constitution masonry, through the rheumy soberness of extreme age? Might we hope, still with the old irrefragable transcendentalism? The victorious cause pleased the gods, the vanquished one pleased Sieyes (victa Catoni).

Thus, however, amid skyrending vivats, and blessings from every heart, has the Procession of the Commons Deputies rolled by.

Next follow the Noblesse, and next the Clergy; concerning both of whom it might be asked, What they specially have come for? Specially, little as they dream of it, to answer this question, put in a voice of thunder: What are you doing in God’s fair Earth and Task-garden; where whosoever is not working is begging or stealing? Woe, woe to themselves and to all, if they can only answer: Collecting tithes, Preserving game!—Remark, meanwhile, how D’Orléans affects to step before his own Order, and mingle with the Commons. For him are vivats: few for the rest, though all wave in plumed “hats of a feudal cut,” and have sword on thigh; though among them is D’Antraigues, the young Languedocian gentleman,—and indeed many a Peer more or less noteworthy.

There are Liancourt, and La Rochefoucault; the liberal Anglomaniac Dukes. There is a filially pious Lally; a couple of liberal Lameths. Above all, there is a Lafayette; whose name shall be Cromwell-Grandison, and fill the world. Many a “formula” has this Lafayette too made away with; yet not all formulas. He sticks by the Washington-formula; and by that he will stick;—and hang by it, as by sure bower-anchor hangs and swings the tight war-ship, which, after all changes of wildest weather and water, is found still hanging. Happy for him; be it glorious or not! Alone of all Frenchmen he has a theory of the world, and right mind to conform thereto; he can become a hero and perfect character, were it but the hero of one idea. Note further our old Parlementary friend, Crispin-Catiline d’Espréménil. He is returned from the Mediterranean Islands, a red-hot royalist, repentant to the finger ends;—unsettled-looking; whose light, dusky-glowing at best, now flickers foul in the socket; whom the National Assembly will by and by, to save time, “regard as in a state of distraction.” Note lastly that globular Younger Mirabeau; indignant that his elder Brother is among the Commons: it is Viscomte Mirabeau; named oftener Mirabeau Tonneau (Barrel Mirabeau), on account of his rotundity, and the quantities of strange liquor he contains.

There then walks our French Noblesse. All in the old pomp of chivalry: and yet, alas, how changed from the old position; drifted far down from their native latitude, like Arctic icebergs got into the Equatorial sea, and fast thawing there! Once these Chivalry Duces (Dukes, as they are still named) did actually lead the world,—were it only towards battle-spoil, where lay the world’s best wages then: moreover, being the ablest Leaders going, they had their lion’s share, those Duces; which none could grudge them. But now, when so many Looms, improved Ploughshares, Steam-Engines and Bills of Exchange have been invented; and, for battle-brawling itself, men hire Drill-Sergeants at eighteen-pence a-day,—what mean these goldmantled Chivalry Figures, walking there “in black velvet cloaks,” in high-plumed “hats of a feudal cut”? Reeds shaken in the wind!

The Clergy have got up; with Cahiers for abolishing pluralities, enforcing residence of bishops, better payment of tithes.[144] The Dignitaries, we can observe, walk stately, apart from the numerous Undignified,—who indeed are properly little other than Commons disguised in Curate-frocks. Here, however, though by strange ways, shall the Precept be fulfilled, and they that are greatest (much to their astonishment) become least. For one example, out of many, mark that plausible Grégoire: one day Curé Grégoire shall be a Bishop, when the now stately are wandering distracted, as Bishops in partibus. With other thought, mark also the Abbé Maury: his broad bold face; mouth accurately primmed; bull eyes, that ray out intelligence, falsehood,—the sort of sophistry which is astonished you should find it sophistical. Skilfullest vamper up of old rotten leather, to make it look like new; always a rising man; he used to tell Mercier, “You will see; I shall be in the Academy before you.”[145]Likely indeed, thou skilfullest Maury; nay thou shalt have a Cardinal’s Hat, and plush and glory; but alas, also, in the longrun—mere oblivion, like the rest of us; and six feet of earth! What boots it, vamping rotten leather on these terms? Glorious in comparison is the livelihood thy good old Father earns, by making shoes,— one may hope, in a sufficient manner. Maury does not want for audacity. He shall wear pistols, by and by; and, at death-cries of “La Lanterne, the Lamp-iron!”—answer coolly, “Friends, will you see better there?”

But yonder, halting lamely along, thou noticest next Bishop Talleyrand-Periogord, his Reverence of Autun. A sardonic grimness lies in that irreverend Reverence of Autun. He will do and suffer strange things; and will become surely one of the strangest things ever seen, or like to be seen. A man living in falsehood, and on falsehood; yet not what you can call a false man: there is the specialty! It will be an enigma for future ages, one may hope: hitherto such a product of Nature and Art was possible only for this age of ours,—Age of Paper, and of the Burning of Paper. Consider Bishop Talleyrand and Marquis Lafayette as the topmost of their two kinds; and say once more, looking at what they did and what they were, O Tempus ferax rerum!

On the whole, however, has not this unfortunate Clergy also drifted in the Time-stream, far from its native latitude? An anomalous mass of men; of whom the whole world has already a dim understanding that it can understand nothing. They were once a Priesthood, interpreters of Wisdom, revealers of the Holy that is in Man; a true Clerus (or Inheritance of God on Earth): but now?—They pass silently, with such Cahiers as they have been able to redact; and none cries, God bless them.

King Louis with his Court brings up the rear: he cheerful, in this day of hope, is saluted with plaudits; still more Necker his Minister. Not so the Queen; on whom hope shines not steadily any more. Ill-fated Queen! Her hair is already grey with many cares and crosses; her firstborn son is dying in these weeks; black falsehood has ineffaceably soiled her name; ineffaceably while this generation lasts. Instead of Vive la Reine, voices insult her with Vive d’Orléans. Of her queenly beauty little remains except its stateliness; not now gracious, but haughty, rigid, silently enduring. With a most mixed feeling, wherein joy has no part, she resigns herself to a day she hoped never to have seen. Poor Marie Antoinette; with thy quick noble instincts; vehement glancings, vision all-too fitful narrow for the work thou hast to do! O there are tears in store for thee; bitterest wailings, soft womanly meltings, though thou hast the heart of an imperial Theresa’s Daughter. Thou doomed one, shut thy eyes on the future!—

And so, in stately Procession, have passed the Elected of France. Some towards honour and quick fire-consummation; most towards dishonour; not a few towards massacre, confusion, emigration, desperation: all towards Eternity!—So many heterogeneities cast together into the fermenting-vat; there, with incalculable action, counteraction, elective affinities, explosive developments, to work out healing for a sick moribund System of Society! Probably the strangest Body of Men, if we consider well, that ever met together on our Planet on such an errand. So thousandfold complex a Society, ready to burst up from its infinite depths; and these men, its rulers and healers, without life-rule for themselves,—other life-rule than a Gospel according to Jean Jacques! To the wisest of them, what we must call the wisest, man is properly an Accident under the sky. Man is without Duty round him; except it be “to make the Constitution.” He is without Heaven above him, or Hell beneath him; he has no God in the world.

What further or better belief can be said to exist in these Twelve Hundred? Belief in high-plumed hats of a feudal cut; in heraldic scutcheons; in the divine right of Kings, in the divine right of Game-destroyers. Belief, or what is still worse, canting half-belief, or worst of all, mere Machiavelic pretence-of-belief,—in consecrated dough-wafers, and the godhood of a poor old Italian Man! Nevertheless in that immeasurable Confusion and Corruption, which struggles there so blindly to become less confused and corrupt, there is, as we said, this one salient-point of a New Life discernible: the deep fixed Determination to have done with Shams. A determination, which, consciously or unconsciously, is fixed; which waxes ever more fixed, into very madness and fixed-idea; which in such embodiment as lies provided there, shall now unfold itself rapidly: monstrous, stupendous, unspeakable; new for long thousands of years!—How has the Heaven’s light, oftentimes in this Earth, to clothe itself in thunder and electric murkiness; and descend as molten lightning, blasting, if purifying! Nay is it not rather the very murkiness, and atmospheric suffocation, that brings the lightning and the light? The new Evangel, as the old had been, was it to be born in the Destruction of a World?

But how the Deputies assisted at High Mass, and heard sermon, and applauded the preacher, church as it was, when he preached politics; how, next day, with sustained pomp, they are, for the first time, installed in their Salle des Menus (Hall no longer of Amusements), and become a States-General,—readers can fancy for themselves. The King from his estrade, gorgeous as Solomon in all his glory, runs his eye over that majestic Hall; many-plumed, many-glancing; bright-tinted as rainbow, in the galleries and near side-spaces, where Beauty sits raining bright influence. Satisfaction, as of one that after long voyaging had got to port, plays over his broad simple face: the innocent King! He rises and speaks, with sonorous tone, a conceivable speech. With which, still more with the succeeding one-hour and two-hour speeches of Garde-des-Sceaux and M. Necker, full of nothing but patriotism, hope, faith, and deficiency of the revenue,—no reader of these pages shall be tried.

We remark only that, as his Majesty, on finishing the speech, put on his plumed hat, and the Noblesse according to custom imitated him, our Tiers-État Deputies did mostly, not without a shade of fierceness, in like manner clap on, and even crush on their slouched hats; and stand there awaiting the issue.[146] Thick buzz among them, between majority and minority of Couvrez-vous, Découvrez-vous (Hats off, Hats on)! To which his Majesty puts end, by taking o f his own royal hat again.

The session terminates without further accident or omen than this; with which, significantly enough, France has opened her States-General.

Book V: The Third Estate

Chapter I: Inertia

That exasperated France, in this same National Assembly of hers, has got something, nay something great, momentous, indispensable, cannot be doubted; yet still the question was: Specially what? A question hard to solve, even for calm onlookers at this distance; wholly insoluble to actors in the middle of it. The States-General, created and conflated by the passionate effort of the whole Nation, is there as a thing high and lifted up. Hope, jubilating, cries aloud that it will prove a miraculous Brazen Serpent in the Wilderness; whereon whosoever looks, with faith and obedience, shall be healed of all woes and serpent-bites.

We may answer, it will at least prove a symbolic Banner; round which the exasperated complaining Twenty-five Millions, otherwise isolated and without power, may rally, and work—what it is in them to work. If battle must be the work, as one cannot help expecting, then shall it be a battle-banner (say, an Italian Gonfalon, in its old Republican Carroccio ); and shall tower up, car-borne, shining in the wind: and with iron tongue peal forth many a signal. A thing of prime necessity; which whether in the van or in the centre, whether leading or led and driven, must do the fighting multitude incalculable services. For a season, while it floats in the very front, nay as it were stands solitary there, waiting whether force will gather round it, this same National Carroccio, and the signal-peals it rings, are a main object with us.

The omen of the “slouch-hats clapt on” shows the Commons Deputies to have made up their minds on one thing: that neither Noblesse nor Clergy shall have precedence of them; hardly even Majesty itself. To such length has the Contrat Social, and force of public opinion, carried us. For what is Majesty but the Delegate of the Nation; delegated, and bargained with (even rather tightly),—in some very singular posture of affairs, which Jean Jacques has not fixed the date of ?

Coming therefore into their Hall, on the morrow, an inorganic mass of Six Hundred individuals, these Commons Deputies perceive, without terror, that they have it all to themselves. Their Hall is also the Grand or general Hall for all the Three Orders. But the Noblesse and Clergy, it would seem, have retired to their two separate Apartments or Halls; and are there “verifying their powers,” not in a conjoint but in a separate capacity. They are to constitute two separate, perhaps separately-voting Orders, then? It is as if both Noblesse and Clergy had silently taken for granted that they already were such! Two Orders against one; and so the Third Order to be left in a perpetual minority?

Much many remain unfixed; but the negative of that is a thing fixed: in the Slouch-hatted heads, in the French Nation’s head. Double representation, and all else hitherto gained, where otherwise futile, null. Doubtless, the “powers must be verified”;—doubtless, the Commission, the electoral Documents of your Deputy must be inspected by his brother Deputies, and found valid: it is the preliminary of all. Neither is this question, of doing it separately or doing it conjointly, a vital one: but if it lead to such? It must be resisted; wise was that maxim, Resist the beginnings! Nay were resistance unadvisable, even dangerous, yet surely pause is very natural: pause, with Twenty-five Millions behind you, may become resistance enough.—The inorganic mass of Commons Deputies will restrict itself to a “system of inertia,” and for the present remain inorganic.

Such method, recommendable alike to sagacity and to timidity, do the Commons Deputies adopt; and, not without adroitness, and with ever more tenacity, they persist in it, day after day, week after week. For six weeks their history is of the kind named barren; which indeed, as Philosophy knows, is often the fruitfullest of all. These were their still creation-days; wherein they sat incubating! In fact, what they did was to do nothing, in a judicious manner. Daily the inorganic body reassembles; regrets that they cannot get organization, “verification of powers in common,” and begin regenerating France. Headlong motions may be made, but let such be repressed; inertia alone is at once unpunishable and unconquerable.

Cunning must be met by cunning; proud pretension by inertia, by a low tone of patriotic sorrow; low, but incurable, unalterable. Wise as serpents; harmless as doves: what a spectacle for France! Six Hundred inorganic individuals, essential for its regeneration and salvation, sit there, on their elliptic benches, longing passionately towards life; in painful durance; like souls waiting to be born. Speeches are spoken; eloquent; audible within doors and without. Mind agitates itself against mind; the Nation looks on with ever deeper interest. Thus do the Commons Deputies sit incubating.

There are private conclaves, supper-parties, consultation; Breton Club, Club of Viroflay; germs of many Clubs. Wholly an element of confused noise, dimness, angry heat;—wherein, however, the Eros-egg, kept at the fit temperature, may hover safe, unbroken till it be hatched. In your Mouniers, Malouets, Lechapeliers is science sufficient for that; fervour in your Barnaves, Rabauts. At times shall come an inspiration from royal Mirabeau: he is nowise yet recognized as royal; nay he was “groaned at,” when his name was first mentioned: but he is struggling towards recognition.

In the course of the week, the Commons having called their Eldest to the chair, and furnished him with young stronger-lunged assistants,— can speak articulately; and, in audible lamentable words, declare, as we said, that they are an inorganic body, longing to become organic. Letters arrive; but an inorganic body cannot open letters; they lie on the table unopened. The Eldest may at most procure for himself some kind of List or Muster-roll, to take the votes by; and wait what will betide. Noblesse and Clergy are all elsewhere: however, an eager public crowds all galleries and vacancies; which is some comfort. With effort, it is determined, not that a Deputation shall be sent, for how can an inorganic body send deputations?—but that certain individual Commons Members shall, in an accidental way, stroll into the Clergy Chamber, and then into the Noblesse one; and mention there, as a thing they have happened to observe, that the Commons seem to be sitting waiting for them, in order to verify their powers. That is the wiser method!

The Clergy, among whom are such a multitude of Undignified, of mere Commons in Curates’ frocks, depute instant respectful answer that they are, and will now more than ever be, in deepest study as to that very matter. Contrariwise the Noblesse, in cavalier attitude, reply, after four days, that they, for their part, are all verified and constituted; which, they had trusted, the Commons also were; such separate verification being clearly the proper constitutional wisdom-of-ancestors method;—as they the Noblesse will have much pleasure in demonstrating by a Commission of their number, if the Commons will meet them, Commission against Commission! Directly in the rear of which comes a deputation of Clergy, reiterating, in their insidious conciliatory way, the same proposal. Here then is a complexity: what will wise Commons say to this?

Warily, inertly, the wise Commons, considering that they are, if not a French Third Estate, at least an Aggregate of individuals pretending to some title of that kind, determine, after talking on it five days, to name such a Commission,—though, as it were, with proviso not to be convinced: a sixth day is taken up in naming it; a seventh and an eighth day in getting the forms of meeting, place, hour, and the like, settled: so that it is not till the evening of the 23rd of May that Noblesse Commission first meets Commons Commission, Clergy acting as Conciliators; and begins the impossible task of convincing it. One other meeting, on the 25th, will suffice: the Commons are inconvincible, the Noblesse and Clergy irrefragably convincing; the Commissions retire; each Order persisting in its first pretensions.[147]

Thus have three weeks passed. For three weeks, the Third-Estate Carroccio, with far-seen Gonfalon, has stood stockstill, flouting the wind; waiting what force would gather round it.

Fancy can conceive the feeling of the Court; and how counsel met counsel, and loud-sounding inanity whirled in that distracted vortex, where wisdom could not dwell. Your cunningly devised Taxing-Machine has been got together; set up with incredible labour; and stands there, its three pieces in contact; its two fly-wheels of Noblesse and Clergy, its huge working-wheel of Tiers-État. The two fly-wheels whirl in the softest manner; but, prodigious to look upon, the huge working-wheel hangs motionless, refuses to stir! The cunningest engineers are at fault. How will it work, when it does begin? Fearfully, my Friends; and to many purposes; but to gather taxes, or grind court-meal, one may apprehend, never. Could we but have continued gathering taxes by hand! Messeigneurs d’Artois, Conti, Condé (named Court Triumvirate), they of the anti-democratic Mémoire au Roi, has not their foreboding proved true? They may wave reproachfully their high heads; they may beat their poor brains; but the cunningest engineers can do nothing. Necker himself, were he even listened to, begins to look blue. The only thing one sees advisable is to bring up soldiers. New regiments, two, and a battalion of a third, have already reached Paris; others shall get in march. Good were it in all circumstances, to have troops within reach; good that the command were in sure hands. Let Broglie be appointed; old Marshal Duke de Broglie; veteran disciplinarian, of a firm drill-sergeant morality, such as may be depended on.

For, alas, neither are the Clergy, or the very Noblesse what they should be; and might be, when so menaced from without: entire, undivided within. The Noblesse, indeed, have their Catiline or Crispin D’Espréménil, dusky-glowing, all in renegade heat: their boisterous Barrel-Mirabeau; but also they have their Lafayettes, Liancourts, Lameths; above all, the D’Orléans, now cut for ever from his Court-moorings, and musing drowsily of high and highest sea-prizes (for is not he too a son of Henri Quatre, and partial potential Heir-Apparent?)—on his voyage towards Chaos. From the Clergy again, so numerous are the Curés, actual deserters have run over: two small parties; in the second party Curé Grégoire. Nay there is talk of a whole Hundred and Forty-nine of them about to desert in mass, and only restrained by an Archbishop of Paris. It seems a losing game.

But judge if France, if Paris sat idle, all this while! Addresses from far and near flow in: for our Commons have now grown organic enough to open letters. Or indeed to cavil at them! Thus poor Marquis de Brézé, Supreme Usher, Master of Ceremonies, or whatever his title was, writing about this time on some ceremonial matter, sees no harm in winding up with a “Monsieur, yours with sincere attachment.”— “To whom does it address itself, this sincere attachment?” inquires Mirabeau. “To the Dean of the Tiers-État.”—“There is no man in France entitled to write that,” rejoins he; whereat the Galleries and the World will not be kept from applauding.[148]Poor De Brézé! These Commons have a still older grudge at him; nor has he yet done with them.

In another way, Mirabeau has had to protest against the quick suppression of his Newspaper, Journal of the States-General;—and to continue it under a new name. In which act of valour, the Paris Electors, still busy redacting their Cahier, could not but support him, by Address to his Majesty: they claim utmost “provisory freedom of the press”; they have spoken even about demolishing the Bastille, and erecting a Bronze Patriotic King on the site!—These are the rich Burghers: but now consider how it went, for example, with such loose miscellany, now all grown eleutheromaniac, of Loungers, Prowlers, social Nondescripts (and the distilled Rascality of our Planet), as whirls for ever in the Palais Royal;— or what low infinite groan, fast changing into a growl, comes from Saint-Antoine, and the Twenty-five Millions in danger of starvation!

There is the indisputablest scarcity of corn;—be it Aristocrat-plot, D’Orléans-plot, of this year; or drought and hail of last year: in city and province, the poor man looks desolately towards a nameless lot. And this States-General, that could make us an age of gold, is forced to stand motionless; cannot get its powers verified! All industry necessarily languishes, if it be not that of making motions.

In the Palais Royal there has been erected, apparently by subscription, a kind of Wooden Tent (en planches de bois);[149]—most convenient; where select Patriotism can now redact resolutions, deliver harangues, with comfort, let the weather be as it will. Lively is that Satan-at-Home! On his table, on his chair, in every café, stands a patriotic orator; a crowd round him within; a crowd listening from without, open-mouthed, through open door and window; with “thunders of applause for every sentiment of more than common hardiness.” In Monsieur Dessein’s Pamphlet-shop, close by, you cannot without strong elbowing get to the counter: every hour produces its pamphlet, or litter of pamphlets; “there were thirteen to-day, sixteen yesterday, ninety-two last week.”[150] Think of Tyranny and Scarcity; Fervid-eloquence, Rumour, Pamphleteering; Société Publicole, Breton Club, Enraged Club;— and whether every tap-room, coffee-room, social reunion, accidental street-group, over wide France, was not an Enraged Club!

To all which the Commons Deputies can only listen with a sublime inertia of sorrow; reduced to busy themselves “with their internal police.” Surer position no Deputies ever occupied; if they keep it with skill. Let not the temperature rise too high; break not the Eros-egg till it be hatched, till it break itself ! An eager public crowds all Galleries and vacancies; “cannot be restrained from applauding.” The two Privileged Orders, the Noblesse all verified and constituted, may look on with what face they will; not without a secret tremor of heart. The Clergy, always acting the part of conciliators, make a clutch at the Galleries, and the popularity there; and miss it. Deputation of them arrives, with dolorous message about the “dearth of grains,” and the necessity there is of casting aside vain formalities, and deliberating on this. An insidious proposal; which, however, the Commons (moved thereto by sea-green Robespierre) dexterously accept as a sort of hint, or even pledge, that the Clergy will forthwith come over to them, constitute the States-General, and so cheapen grains![151]—Finally, on the 27th day of May, Mirabeau, judging the time now nearly come, proposes that “the inertia cease”; that, leaving the Noblesse to their own stiff ways, the Clergy be summoned, “in the name of the God of Peace,” to join the Commons, and begin.[152]To which summons if they turn a deaf ear,—we shall see! Are not one Hundred and Forty-nine of them ready to desert?

O Triumvirate of Princes, new Garde-des-Sceaux Barentin, thou Home-Secretary Breteuil, Duchess Polignac, and Queen eager to listen,—what is now to be done? This Third Estate will get in motion, with the force of all France in it; Clergy-machinery with Noblesse-machinery, which were to serve as beautiful counterbalances and drags, will be shamefully dragged after it,—and take fire along with it. What is to be done? The Œil-de-Bœuf waxes more confused than ever. Whisper and counter-whisper; a very tempest of whispers! Leading men from all the Three Orders are nightly spirited thither; conjurors many of them; but can they conjure this? Necker himself were now welcome, could be interfere to purpose.

Let Necker interfere then; and in the King’s name! Happily that incendiary “God-of-Peace” message is not yet answered. The Three Orders shall again have conferences; under this Patriot Minister of theirs, somewhat may be healed, clouted up;—we meanwhile getting forward Swiss Regiments, and a “hundred pieces of field-artillery.” This is what the Œil-de-Bœuf, for its part, resolves on.

But as for Necker—Alas, poor Necker, thy obstinate Third Estate has one first-last word, verification in common, as the pledge of voting and deliberating in common! Half-way proposals, from such a tried friend, they answer with a stare. The tardy conferences speedily break up: the Third Estate, now ready and resolute, the whole world backing it, returns to its Hall of the Three Orders; and Necker to the Œil-de-Bœuf, with the character of a disconjured conjuror there,—fit only for dismissal.[153]

And so the Commons Deputies are at last on their own strength getting under way? Instead of Chairman, or Dean, they have now got a President: Astronomer Bailly. Under way, with a vengeance! With endless vociferous and temperate eloquence, borne on Newspaper wings to all lands, they have now, on this 17th day of June, determined that their name is not Third Estate, but—National Assembly! They then are the Nation? Triumvirate of Princes, Queen, refractory Noblesse and Clergy, what then are you? A most deep question;—scarcely answerable in living political dialects.

All regardless of which, our new National Assembly proceeds to appoint a “committee of subsistences”; dear to France, though it can find little or no grain. Next, as if our National Assembly stood quite firm on its legs,—to appoint “four other standing committees”; then to settle the security of the National Debt; then that of the Annual Taxation: all within eight-and-forty hours. At such rate of velocity it is going: the conjurors of the Œil-de-Bœuf may well ask themselves, Whither?

Chapter II: Mercury De Brézé

Now surely were the time for a “god from the machine”; there is a nodus worthy of one. The only question is, Which god? Shall it be Mars de Broglie, with his hundred pieces of cannon?—Not yet, answers prudence; so soft, irresolute is King Louis. Let it be Messenger Mercury, our Supreme Usher de Brézé!

On the morrow, which is the 20th of June, these Hundred and Forty-nine false Curates, no longer restrainable by his Grace of Paris, will desert in a body: let De Brézé intervene, and produce—closed doors! Not only shall there be Royal Session, in that Salle des Menus; but no meeting, nor working (except by carpenters), till then. Your Third Estate, self-styled “National Assembly,” shall suddenly see itself extruded from its Hall, by carpenters, in this dexterous way; and reduced to do nothing, not even to meet, or articulately lament,—till Majesty, with Séance Royale and new miracles, be ready! In this manner shall De Bézé, as Mercury ex machina, intervene; and, if the Œil-de-Bœuf mistake not, work deliverance from the nodus.

Of poor De Brézé we can remark that he has yet prospered in none of his dealings with these Commons. Five weeks ago, when they kissed the hand of Majesty, the mode he took got nothing but censure; and then his “sincere attachment,” how was it scornfully whiffed aside! Before supper, this night, he writes to President Bailly, a new Letter, to be delivered shortly after dawn to-morrow, in the King’s name. Which Letter however, Bailly, in the pride of office, will merely crush together into his pocket, like a bill he does not mean to pay.

According on Saturday morning the 20th of June, shrill-sounding heralds proclaim, through the streets of Versailles, that there is to be Séance Royale next Monday; and no meeting of the States-General still then. And yet, we observe, President Bailly, in sound of this, and with De Brézé’s letter in his pocket, is proceeding, with National Assembly at his heels, to the accustomed Salle des Menus; as if De Brézé and heralds were mere wind. It is shut, this Salle; occupied by Gardes Françaises. “Where is your Captain?” The Captain shows his royal order: workmen, he is grieved to say, are all busy setting up the platform for his Majesty’s Séance; most unfortunately, no admission; admission, at furthest, for President and Secretaries to bring away papers, which the joiners might destroy!—President Bailly enters with Secretaries; and returns bearing papers: alas, within doors, instead of patriotic eloquence, there is now no noise but hammering, sawing, and operative screeching and rumbling! A profanation without parallel.

The Deputies stood grouped on the Paris road, on this umbrageous Avenue de Versailles; complaining aloud of the indignity done them. Courtiers, it is supposed, look from their windows, and giggle. The morning is none of the comfortablest: raw; it is even drizzling a little.[154] But all travellers pause, patriot gallery-men, miscellaneous spectators increase the groups. Wild counsels alternate. Some desperate Deputies propose to go and hold session on the great outer Staircase at Marly, under the King’s windows; for his Majesty, it seems, has driven over thither. Others talk of making the Château Forecourt, what they call Place d’Armes, a Runnymede and new Champ de Mai of free Frenchmen: nay of awakening, to sounds of indignant Patriotism, the echos of the Œil-de-Bœuf itself.—Notice is given that President Bailly, aided by judicious Guillotin and others, has found place in the Tennis-Court of the Rue St. François. Thither, in long-drawn files, hoarse-jingling, like cranes on wing, the Commons Deputies angrily wend.

Strange sight was this in the Rue St. François, Vieux Versailles! A naked Tennis-Court, as the Pictures of that time still give it: four walls; naked, except aloft some poor wooden penthouse, or roofed spectators’-gallery, hanging round them:—on the floor not now an idle teeheeing, a snapping of balls and rackets; but the bellowing din of an indignant National Representation, scandalously exiled hither! However, a cloud of witnesses looks down on them, from wooden penthouse, from wall-top, from adjoining roof and chimney; rolls towards them from all quarters, with passionate spoken blessings. Some table can be procured to write on; some chair, if not to sit on, then to stand on. The Secretaries undo their tapes; Bailly has constituted the Assembly.

Experienced Mounier, not wholly new to such things, in Parliamentary revolts, which he has seen or heard of, thinks that it were well, in these lamentable threatening circumstances, to unite themselves by an Oath.—Universal acclamation, as from smouldering bosoms getting vent! The Oath is redacted; pronounced aloud by President Bailly,— and indeed in such a sonorous tone, that the cloud of witnesses, even out doors, hear it, and bellow response to it. Six hundred right-hands rise with President Bailly’s, to take God above to witness that they will not separate for man below, but will meet in all places, under all circumstances, wheresoever two or three can get together, till they have made the Constitution. Made the Constitution, Friends! That is a long task. Six hundred hands, meanwhile, will sign as they have sworn: six hundred save one; one Loyalist Abdiel, still visible by this sole light-point, and nameable, poor, “M. Martin d’Auch, from Castelnaudary, in Languedoc.” Him they permit to sign or signify refusal; they even save him from the cloud of witnesses, by declaring “his head deranged.” At four o’clock, the signatures are all appended; new meeting is fixed for Monday morning, earlier than the hour of the Royal Session; that our Hundred and Forty-nine Clerical deserters be not balked: we will meet “at the Recollets Church or elsewhere,” in hope that our Hundred and Forty-nine will join us;—and now it is time to go to dinner.

This then is the Session of the Tennis-Court, famed Séance du Jeu de Paume; the fame of which has gone forth to all lands. This is Mercurius de Brézé’s appearance as Deus ex machina; this is the fruit it brings! The giggle of Courtiers in the Versailles Avenue has already died into gaunt silence. Did the distracted Court, with Garde-des-Sceaux Barentin, Triumvirate and Company, imagine that they could scatter six hundred National Deputies, big with a National Constitution, like as much barndoor poultry, big with next to nothing,—by the white or black rod of a Supreme Usher? Barndoor poultry fly cackling: but National Deputies turn round, lion-faced; and, with uplifted right-hand, swear an Oath that makes the four corners of France tremble.

President Bailly has covered himself with honour; which shall become rewards. The National Assembly is now doubly and trebly the Nation’s Assembly; not militant, martyred only, but triumphant; insulted, and which could not be insulted. Paris disembogues itself once more, to witness, “with grim looks,” the Séance Royale:[155]which, by a new felicity, is postponed till Tuesday. The Hundred and Forty-nine, and even with Bishops among them, all in processional mass, have had free leisure to march off, and solemnly join the Commons sitting waiting in their Church. The Commons welcomed them with shouts, with embracings, nay with tears;[156] for it is growing a life-and-death matter now.

As for the Séance itself, the Carpenters seem to have accomplished their platform; but all else remains unaccomplished. Futile, we may say fatal, was the whole matter. King Louis enters, through seas of people, all grim-silent, angry with many things,—for it is a bitter rain too. Enters, to a Third Estate, likewise grim-silent; which has been wetted waiting under mean porches, at back-doors, while Court and Privileged were entering by the front. King and Garde-des-Sceaux (there is no Necker visible) make known, not without longwinded-ness, the determinations of the royal breast. The Three Orders shall vote separately. On the other hand, France may look for considerable constitutional blessings; as specified in these Five-and-thirty articles,[157] which Garde-des-Sceaux is waxing hoarse with reading. Which Five-and-thirty Articles, adds his Majesty again rising, if the Three Orders most unfortunately cannot agree together to effect them, I myself will effect: “seul je ferai le bien de mes peuples,”—which being interpreted may signify, You, contentious Deputies of the States-General, have probably not long to be here! But, in fine, all shall now withdraw for this day; and meet again, each Order in its separate place, to-morrow morning, for dispatch of business. This is the determination of the royal breast: pithy and clear. And herewith King, retinue, Noblesse, majority of Clergy file out, as if the whole matter were satisfactorily completed.

These file out; through grim-silent seas of people. Only the Commons Deputies file not out; but stand there in gloomy silence, uncertain what they shall do. One man of them is certain; one man of them discerns and dares! It is now that King Mirabeau starts to the Tribune, and lifts up his lion-voice. Verily a word in season; for, in such scenes, the moment is the mother of ages! Had not Gabriel Honoré been there,—one can well fancy, how the Commons Deputies, affrighted at the perils which now yawned dim all round them, and waxing ever paler in each other’s paleness, might very naturally, one after one, have glided o f; and the whole course of European History have been different!

But he is there. List to the brool of that royal forest-voice; sorrowful, low; fast swelling to a roar! Eyes kindle at the glance of his eye:— National Deputies were missioned by a Nation; they have sworn an Oath; they—But lo! while the lion’s voice roars loudest, what Apparition is this? Apparition of Mercurius de Brézé, muttering somewhat!— “Speak out,” cry several.—“Messieurs,” shrills De Brézé, repeating himself, “You have heard the King’s orders!”—Mirabeau glares on him with fire-flashing face; shakes the black lion’s mane: “Yes, Monsieur, we have heard what the King was advised to say: and you, who cannot be the interpreter of his orders to the States-General; you, who have neither place nor right of speech here; you are not the man to remind us of it. Go, Monsieur, tell those who sent you that we are here by the will of the People, and that nothing but the force of bayonets shall send us hence!”[158] And poor De Brézé shivers forth from the National Assembly;—and also (if it be not in one faintest glimmer, months later) finally from the page of History!—

Hapless De Brézé; doomed to survive long ages, in men’s memory, in this faint way, with tremulent white rod! He was true to Etiquette, which was his Faith here below; a martyr to respect of persons. Short woollen cloaks could not kiss Majesty’s hand as long velvet ones did. Nay lately, when the poor little Dauphin lay dead, and some ceremonial Visitation came, was he not punctual to announce it even to the Dauphin’s dead body: “Monseigneur, a Deputation of the States-General!”[159]Sunt lachrymae rerum.

But what does the Œil-de-Bœuf, now when De Brézé shivers back thither? Dispatch that same force of bayonets? Not so: the seas of people still hang multitudinous, intent on what is passing; nay rush and roll, loud-billowing, into the Courts of the Château itself; for a report has risen that Necker is to be dismissed. Worst of all, the Gardes Françaises seem indisposed to act: “two Companies of them do not fire when ordered!”[160] Necker, for not being at the Séance, shall be shouted for, carried home in triumph; and must not be dismissed. His Grace of Paris, on the other hand, has to fly with broken coach-panels, and owe his life to furious driving. The Gardes-du-Corps (Body-Guards), which you were drawing out, had better be drawn in again.[161] There is no sending of bayonets to be thought of.

Instead of soldiers, the Œil-de-Bœuf sends—carpenters, to take down the platform. Ineffectual shift! In few instants, the very carpenters cease wrenching and knocking at their platform; standing on it, hammer in hand, and listen open-mouthed.[162] The Third Estate is decreeing that it is, was, and will be, nothing but a National Assembly; and now, moreover, an inviolable one, all members of it inviolable: “infamous, traitorous, towards the Nation, and guilty of capital crime, is any person, body-corporate, tribunal, court or commission that now or henceforth, during the present session or after it, shall dare to pursue, interrogate, arrest, or cause to be arrested, detain or cause to be detained, any” &c. &c. “on whose part soever the same be commanded.”[163] Which done, one can wind up with this comfortable reflection from Abbé Sieyes: “Messieurs, you are to-day what you were yesterday.”

Courtiers may shriek; but it is, and remains, even so. Their well-charged explosion has exploded through the touch-hole; covering themselves with scorches, confusion, and unseemly soot! Poor Triumvirate, poor Queen; and above all, poor Queen’s Husband, who means well, had he any fixed meaning! Folly is that wisdom which is wise only behindhand. Few months ago these Thirty-five Concessions had filled France with a rejoicing, which might have lasted for several years. Now it is unavailing, the very mention of it slighted; Majesty’s express orders set at naught.

All France is in a roar; a sea of persons, estimated at “ten thousand,” whirls “all this day in the Palais Royal.”[164] The remaining Clergy, and likewise some Forty-eight Noblesse, D’Orléans among them, have now forthwith gone over to the victorious Commons;—by whom, as is natural, they are received “with acclamation.”

The Third Estate triumphs; Versailles Town shouting round it; ten thousand whirling all day in the Palais Royal; and all France standing a-tiptoe, not unlike whirling! Let the Œil-de-Bœuf look to it. As for King Louis, he will swallow his injuries; will temporize, keep silence; will at all costs have present peace. It was Tuesday, the 23rd of June, when he spoke that peremptory royal mandate; and the week is not done till he has written to the remaining obstinate Noblesse, that they also must oblige him, and give in. D’Espréménil rages his last; Barrel Mirabeau “breaks his sword,” making a vow,—which he might as well have kept. The “Triple Family” is now therefore complete; the third erring brother, the Noblesse, having joined it;—erring but pardonable; soothed, so far as possible, by sweet eloquence from President Bailly.

So triumphs the Third Estate; and States-General are become National Assembly; and all France may sing Te Deum. By wise inertia, and wise cessation of inertia, great victory has been gained. It is the last night of June: all night you meet nothing on the streets of Versailles but “men running with torches,” with shouts and jubilation. From the 2nd of May when they kissed the hand of Majesty, to this 30th of June when men run with torches, we count eight weeks and three days. For eight weeks the National Carroccio has stood far-seen, ringing many a signal; and, so much having now gathered round it, may hope to stand.

Chapter III: Broglie the War-God

The Court feels indignant that it is conquered; but what then? Another time it will do better. Mercury descended in vain; now has the time come for Mars.—The gods of the Œil-de-Bœuf have withdrawn into the darkness of their cloudy Ida; and sit there, shaping and forging what may be needful, be it “billets of a new National Bank,” munitions of war, or things for ever inscrutable to men.

Accordingly, what means this “apparatus of troops”? The National Assembly can get no furtherance for its Committee of Subsistences; can hear only that, at Paris, the Bakers’ shops are besieged; that, in the Provinces, people are “living on meal-husks and boiled grass.” But on all highways there hover dust-clouds, with the march of regiments, with the trailing of cannon: foreign Pandours, of fierce aspect; Salis-Samade, Esterhazy, Royal-Allemand; so many of them foreign; to the number of thirty thousand,—which fear can magnify to fifty: all wending towards Paris and Versailles! Already, on the heights of Montmartre, is a digging and delving; too like a scarping and trenching. The effluence of Paris is arrested Versailles-ward by a barrier of cannon at Sèvres Bridge. From the Queen’s Mews, cannon stand pointed on the National Assembly Hall itself. The National Assembly has its very slumbers broken by the tramp of soldiery, swarming and defiling, endless, or seemingly endless, all round those spaces, at dead of night, “without drum-music, without audible word of command.”[165] What means it?

Shall eight, or even shall twelve Deputies, our Mirabeaus, Barnaves at the head of them, be whirled suddenly to the Castle of Ham; the rest ignominiously dispersed to the winds? No National Assembly can make the Constitution with cannon levelled on it from the Queen’s Mews! What means this reticence of the Œil-de-Bœuf, broken only by nods and shrugs? In the mystery of that cloudy Ida, what is it that they forge and shape?—Such questions must distracted Patriotism keep asking, and receive no answer but an echo.

Questions and echo bad enough in themselves:—and now, above all, while the hungry food-year, which runs from August to August, is getting older; becoming more and more a famine-year! With “meal-husks and boiled grass,” Brigands may actually collect; and, in crowds, at farm and mansion, howl angrily, Food! Food! It is in vain to send soldiers against them: at sight of soldiers they disperse, they vanish as under ground; then directly reassemble elsewhere for new tumult and plunder. Frightful enough to look upon; but what to hear of, reverberated through Twenty-five Millions of suspicious minds! Brigands and Broglie, open Conflagration, preternatural Rumour are driving mad most hearts in France. What will the issue of these things be?

At Marseilles, many weeks ago, the Townsmen have taken arms; for “suppressing of Brigands,” and other purposes: the military Commandant may make of it what he will. Elsewhere, everywhere, could not the like be done? Dubious, on the distracted Patriot Imagination, wavers, as a last deliverance, some foreshadow of a National Guard. But conceive, above all, the Wooden Tent in the Palais Royal! A universal hubbub there, as of dissolving worlds: there loudest bellows the mad, mad-making voice of Rumour; there sharpest gazes Suspicion into the pale dim World-Whirlpool; discerning shapes and phantasms: imminent bloodthirsty Regiments camped on the Champ-de-Mars; dispersed National Assembly; red-hot cannon-balls (to burn Paris):—the mad War-god and Bellona’s sounding thongs. To the calmest man it is becoming too plain that battle is inevitable.

Inevitable, silently nod Messeigneurs and Broglie: Inevitable and brief ! Your National Assembly, stopped short in its Constitutional labours, may fatigue the royal ear with addresses and remonstrances: those cannon of ours stand duly levelled; those troops are here. The King’s Declaration, with its Thirty-five too generous Articles, was spoken, was not listened to; but remains yet unrevoked: he himself shall effect it, seul il fera!

As for Broglie, he has his headquarters at Versailles, all as in a seat of war: clerks writing; significant staff-officers, inclined to taciturnity: plumed aides-de-camp, scouts, orderlies flying or hovering. He himself looks forth, important, impenetrable; listens to Besenval, Commandant of Paris, and his warming and earnest counsels (for he has come out repeatedly on purpose), with a silent smile.[166]The Parisians resist? scornfully cry Messeigneurs. As a meal-mob may! They have sat quiet, these five generations, submitting to all. Their Mercier declared, in these very years, that a Parisian revolt was henceforth “impossible.”[167] Stand by the royal Declaration, of the Twenty-third of June. The Nobles of France, valorous, chivalrous as of old, will rally round us with one heart;—and as for this which you call Third Estate, and which we call canaille of unwashed Sansculottes, of Patelins, Scribblers, factious Spouters,—brave Broglie, “with a whiff of grapeshot (salve de canons),” if need be, will give quick account of it. Thus reason they: on their cloudy Ida; hidden from men,—men also hidden from them.

Good is grapeshot, Messeigneurs, on one condition: that the shooter also were made of metal! But unfortunately he is made of flesh; under his buffs and bandoleers, your hired shooter has instincts, feelings, even a kind of thought. It is his kindred, bone of his bone, this same canaille that shall be whiffed; he has brothers in it, a father and mother,—living on meal-husks and boiled grass. His very doxy, not yet “dead i’ the spital,” drives him into military heterodoxy; declares that if he shed Patriot blood, he shall be accursed among men. The soldier, who has seen his pay stolen by rapacious Foulons, his blood wasted by Soubises, Pompadours, and the gates of promotion shut inexorably on him if he were not born noble,—is himself not without griefs against you. Your cause is not the soldier’s cause; but, as would seem, your own only, and no other god’s nor man’s.

For example, the world may have heard how, at Béthune lately, when there rose some “riot about grains,” of which sort there are so many, and the soldiers stood drawn out, and the word “Fire!” was given,—not a trigger stirred; only the butts of all muskets rattled angrily against the ground; and the soldiers stood glooming, with a mixed expression of countenance;—till clutched “each under the arm of a patriot householder,” they were all hurried off, in this manner, to be treated and caressed, and have their pay increased by subscription![168]

Neither have the Gardes Françaises, the best regiment of the line, shown any promptitude for street-firing lately. They returned grumbling from Réveillon’s; and have not burnt a single cartridge since; nay, as we saw, not even when bid. A dangerous humour dwells in these Gardes. Notable men too, in their way! Valadi the Pythagorean was, at one time, an officer of theirs. Nay, in the ranks, under the three-cornered felt and cockade, what hard heads may there not be, and reflections going on,—unknown to the public! One head of the hardest we do now discern there: on the shoulders of a certain Sergeant Hoche. Lazare Hoche, that is the name of him; he used to be about the Versailles Royal Stables, nephew of a poor herbwoman; a handy lad; exceedingly addicted to reading. He is now Sergeant Hoche, and can rise no further: he lays out his pay in rushlights, and cheap editions of books.[169]

On the whole, the best seems to be: Consign these Gardes Françaises to their Barracks. So Besenval thinks, and orders. Consigned to their barracks, the Gardes Françaises do but form a “Secret Association,” an Engagement not to act against the National Assembly. Debauched by Valadi the Pythagorean; debauched by money and women! cry Besenval and innumerable others. Debauched by what you will, or in need of no debauching, behold them, long files of them, their consignment broken, arrive, headed by their Sergeants, on the 26th day of June, at the Palais Royal! Welcomed with vivats, with presents, and a pledge of patriot liquor; embracing and embraced; declaring in words that the cause of France is their cause! Next day and the following days the like. What is singular too, except this patriot humour, and breaking of their consignment, they behave otherwise with “the most rigorous accuracy.”[170]

They are growing questionable, these Gardes! Eleven ringleaders of them are put in the Abbaye Prison. It boots not in the least. The imprisoned Eleven have only, “by the hand of an individual,” to drop, towards nightfall, a line in the Café de Foy; where Patriotism harangues loudest on its table. “Two hundred young persons, soon waxing to four thousand,” with fit crowbars roll towards the Abbaye; smite asunder the needful doors; and bear out their Eleven, with other military victims:— to supper in the Palais Royal Garden; to board, and lodging “in camp-beds, in the Théâtre des Variétés”; other national Prytaneum as yet not being in readiness. Most deliberate! Nay so punctual were these young persons, that finding one military victim to have been imprisoned for real civil crime, they returned him to his cell, with protest.

Why new military force was not called out? New military force was called out. New military force did arrive, full gallop, with drawn sabre: but the people gently “laid hold of their bridles”; the dragoons sheathed their swords; lifted their caps by way of salute, and sat like mere statues of dragoons,—except indeed that a drop of liquor being brought them, they “drank to the King and Nation with the greatest cordiality!”[171]

And now, ask in return, why Messeigneurs and Broglie the great god of war, on seeing these things, did not pause, and take some other course, any other course? Unhappily, as we said, they could see nothing. Pride, which goes before a fall; wrath, if not reasonable, yet pardonable, most natural, had hardened their hearts and heated their heads: so with imbecility and violence (ill-matched pair) they rush to seek their hour. All Regiments are not Gardes Françaises, or debauched by Valadi the Pythagorean: let fresh undebauched Regiments come up; let Royal-Allemand, Salis-Samade, Swiss Château-Vieux come up,—which can fight, but can hardly speak except in German gutturals; let soldiers march, and highways thunder with artillery-wagons: Majesty has a new Royal Session to hold,—and miracles to work there! The whiff of grapeshot can, if needful, become a blast and tempest.

In which circumstances, before the red-hot balls begin raining, may not the Hundred-and-twenty Paris Electors, though their Cahier is long since finished, see good to meet again daily, as an “Electoral Club”? They meet first “in a Tavern”;—where “a large wedding-party” cheerfully gives place to them.[172] But latterly they meet in the Hôtel-de- Ville, in the Town-hall itself. Flesselles, Provost of Merchants, with his Four Echevins (Scabins, Assessors) could not prevent it; such was the force of public opinion. He, with his Echevins, and the Six-and-Twenty Town Councillors, all appointed from Above, may well sit silent there, in their long gowns; and consider, with awed eye, what prelude this is of convulsion coming from Below, and how they themselves shall fare in that!

Chapter IV: To Arms!

So hangs it, dubious, fateful, in the sultry days of July. It is the passionate printed advice of M. Marat, to abstain, of all things, from violence.[173] Nevertheless the hungry poor are already burning Town Barriers, where Tribute on eatables is levied; getting clamorous for food.

The twelfth July morning is Sunday: the streets are all placarded with an enormous-sized De par le Roi, “inviting peaceable citizens to remain with doors,” to feel no alarm, to gather in no crowd. Why so? What mean these “placards of enormous size”? Above all, what means this clatter of military; dragoons, hussars, rattling in from all points of the compass towards the Place Louis Quinze; with a staid gravity of face, though saluted with mere nicknames, hootings and even missiles?[174]Besenval is with them. Swiss Guards of his are already in the Champs Elysées, with four pieces of artillery.

Have the destroyers descended on us, then? From the Bridge of Sèvres to utmost Vincennes, from Saint-Denis to the Champ-de-Mars, we are begirt! Alarm, of the vague unknown, is in every heart. The Palais Royal has become a place of awestruck interjections, silent shakings of the head: one can fancy with what dolorous sound the noontide cannon (which the Sun fires at crossing of his meridian) went off there; bodeful, like an inarticulate voice of doom.[175]Are these troops verily come out “against Brigands”? Where are the Brigands? What mystery is in the wind?—Hark! a human voice reporting articulately the Job’s-news: Necker, People’s Minister, Saviour of France, is dismissed. Impossible; incredible! Treasonous to the public peace! Such a voice ought to be choked in the water-works;[176]—had not the news-bringer quickly fled. Nevertheless, friends make of it what ye will, the news is true. Necker is gone. Necker hies northward incessantly, in obedient secrecy, since yesternight. We have a new Ministry: Broglie the Wargod; Aristocrat Breteuil; Foulon who said the people might eat grass!

Rumour, therefore, shall arise; in the Palais Royal, and in broad France. Paleness sits on every face; confused tremor and fremescence; waxing into thunder-peals, of Fury stirred on by Fear.

But see Camille Desmoulins, from the Café de Foy, rushing out, sibylline in face; his hair streaming, in each hand a pistol! He springs to a table: the Police satellites are eyeing him; alive they shall not take him, not they alive him alive. This time, he speaks without stammering:— Friends! shall we die like hunted hares? Like sheep hounded into their pinfold; bleating for mercy, where is no mercy, but only a whetted knife? The hour is come; the supreme hour of Frenchman and Man; when Oppressors are to try conclusions with Oppressed; and the word is, swift Death, or Deliverance for ever. Let such hour be well-come! Us, meseems, one cry only befits: To Arms! Let universal Paris, universal France, as with the throat of the whirlwind, sound only: To arms!— “To arms!” yell responsive the innumerable voices; like one great voice, as of a Demon yelling from the air: for all faces wax fire-eyed, all hearts burn up into madness. In such, or fitter words,[177] does Camille evoke the Elemental Powers, in this great moment.—Friends, continues Camille, some rallying-sign! Cockades; green ones;—the colour of Hope!—As with the flight of locusts, these green tree-leaves; green ribands from the neighbouring shops; all green things are snatched, and made cockades of. Camille descends from his table; “stifled with embraces, wetted with tears”; has a bit of green riband handed him; sticks it in his hat. And now to Curtius’ Image-shop there; to the Boulevards; to the four winds, and rest not till France be on fire!

France, so long shaken and wind-parched, is probably at the right inflammable point.—As for poor Curtius, who, one grieves to think, might be but imperfectly paid,—he cannot make two words about his Images. The Wax-bust of Necker, the Wax-bust of D’Orléans, helpers of France: these, covered with crape, as in funeral procession, or after the manner of suppliants appealing to Heaven, to Earth, and Tartarus itself, a mixed multitude bears off. For a sign! As indeed man, with his singular imaginative faculties, can do little or nothing without signs: thus Turks look to their Prophet’s Banner; also Osier Mannikins have been burnt, the Necker’s Portrait has erewhile figured, aloft on its perch.

In this manner march they, a mixed, continually increasing multitude; armed with axes, staves and miscellanea; grim, many-sounding, through the streets. Be all Theatres shut; let all dancing, on planked floor, or on the natural greensward, cease! Instead of a Christian Sabbath, and feast of guinguette tabernacles, it shall be a Sorcerer’s Sabbath; and Paris, gone rabid, dance,—with the Fiend for piper!

However, Besenval, with horse and foot, is in the Place Louis Quinze. Mortals promenading homewards, in the fall of the day, saunter by, from Chaillot or Passy, from flirtation and a little thin wine; with sadder step than usual. Will the Bust Procession pass that way? Behold it; behold also Prince Lambesc dash forth on it, with his Royal-Allemands! Shots fall, and sabre-strokes; Busts are hewed asunder; and, alas, also heads of men. A sabred Procession has nothing for it but to explode, along what streets, alleys, Tuileries Avenues it finds; and disappear. One unarmed man lies hewed down; a Garde Française by his uniform; bear him (or bear even the report of him) dead and gory to his Barracks;—where he has comrades still alive!

But why not now, victorious Lambesc, charge through that Tuileries Garden itself, where the fugitives are vanishing? Not show the Sunday promenaders too how steel glitters, besprent with blood; that it be told of, and men’s ears tingle?—Tingle, alas, they did; but the wrong way. Victorious Lambesc, in this his second or Tuileries charge, succeeds but in overturning (call it not slashing, for he struck with the flat of his sword) one man, a poor old schoolmaster, most pacifically tottering there; and is driven out, by barricade of chairs, by flights of “bottles and glasses,” by execrations in bass-voice and treble. Most delicate is the mob-queller’s vocation; wherein Too-much may be as bad as Not-enough. For each of these bass-voices, and more each treble voice, borne to all parts of the City, rings now nothing but distracted indignation; will ring all night. The cry, To arms, roars tenfold; steeples with their metal storm-voice boom out, as the sun sinks; armorers’ shops are broken open, plundered; the streets are a living foam-sea, chafed by all the winds.

Such issue came of Lambesc’s charge on the Tuileries Garden: no striking of salutary terror into Chaillot promenaders; a striking into broad wakefulness of Frenzy and the three Furies,—which otherwise were not asleep! For they lie always, those subterranean Eumenides (fabulous and yet so true), in the dullest existence of man;—and can dance, brandishing their dusky torches, shaking their serpent-hair. Lambesc with Royal-Allemand may ride to his barracks, with curses for his marching-music; then ride back again, like one troubled in mind: vengeful Gardes Françaises, sacreing, with knit brows, start out on him, from their barracks in the Chaussé d’Antin; pour a volley into him (killing and wounding); which he must not answer, but ride on.[178]

Counsel dwells not under the plumed hat. If the Eumenides awaken, and Broglie has given no orders, what can a Besenval do? When the Gardes Françaises, with Palais-Royal volunteers, roll down, greedy of more vengeance, to the Place Louis Quinze itself, they find neither Besenval, Lambesc, Royal-Allemand, nor any soldier now there. Gone is military order. On the far Eastern Boulevard, of Saint-Antoine, the Chasseurs Normandie arrive, dusty, thirsty, after a hard day’s ride; but can find no billet-master, see no course in this City of confusions; cannot get to Besenval, cannot so much as discover where he is: Normandie must even bivouac there, in its dust and thirst,— unless some patriot will treat it to a cup of liquor, with advices.

Raging multitudes surround the Hôtel-de-Ville, crying: Arms! Orders! The Six-and-twenty Town Councillors, with their long gowns, have ducked under (into the raging chaos);—shall never emerge more. Besenval is painfully wriggling himself out, to the Champ-de-Mars; he must sit there “in the cruellest uncertainty”: courier after courier may dash off for Versailles; but will bring back no answer, can hardly bring himself back. For the roads are all blocked with batteries and pickets, with floods of carriages arrested for examination: such was Broglie’s one sole order; the Œil-de-Bœuf, hearing in the distance such mad din, which sounded almost like invasion, will before all things keep its own head whole. A new Ministry, with, as it were, but one foot in the stirrup, cannot take leaps. Mad Paris is abandoned altogether to itself.

What a Paris, when the darkness fell! A European metropolitan City hurled suddenly forth from its own combinations and arrangements; to crash tumultuously together, seeking new. Use and wont will now no longer direct any man; each man, with what of originality he has, must begin thinking; or following those that think. Seven hundred thousand individuals, on the sudden, find all their old paths, old ways of acting and deciding, vanish from under their feet. And so there go they, with clangour and terror, they know not as yet whether running, swimming or flying,—headlong into the New Era. With clangour and terror: from above, Broglie the war-god impends, preternatural, with his red-hot cannon-balls; and from below, a preternatural Brigand-world menaces with dirk and fire-brand: madness rules the hour.

Happily, in place of the submerged Twenty-six, the Electoral Club is gathering; has declared itself a “Provisional Municipality.” On the morrow, it will get Provost Flesselles, with an Echevin or two, to give help in many things. For the present it decrees one most essential thing: that forthwith a “Parisian Militia” shall be enrolled. Depart, ye heads of Districts, to labour in this great work; while we here, in Permanent Committee, sit alert. Let fencible men, each party in its own range of streets, keep watch and ward, all night. Let Paris court a little fever-sleep; confused by such fever-dreams, of “violent motions at the Palais Royal”;—or from time to time start awake, and look out, palpitating, in its nightcap, at the clash of discordant mutually-unintelligible Patrols; on the gleam of distant Barriers, going up all too ruddy towards the vault of Night.[179]

Chapter V: Give Us Arms

On Monday, the huge City has awoke, not to its week-day industry: to what a different one! The working man has become a fighting man; has one want only: that of arms. The industry of all crafts has paused;— except it be the smith’s, fiercely hammering pikes; and, in a faint degree, the kitchener’s, cooking offhand victuals, for bouche va toujours. Women too are sewing cockades;—not now, of green, which being D’Artois colour, the Hôtel-de-Ville has had to interfere in it; but of red and blue, our old Paris colours: these, once based on a ground of constitutional white, are the famed TRICOLOR,—which (if Prophecy err not) “will go round the world.”

All shops, unless it be the Bakers’ and Vintners’, are shut: Paris is in the streets;—rushing, foaming like some Venice wine-glass into which you had dropped poison. The tocsin, by order, is pealing madly from all steeples. Arms, ye Elector Municipals; thou Flesselles with thy Echevins, give us arms! Flesselles gives what he can: fallacious, perhaps insidious promises of arms from Charleville; order to seek arms here, order to seek them there. The new Municipals give what they can; some three hundred and sixty indifferent firelocks, the equipment of the City-Watch: “a man in wooden shoes, and without coat, directly clutches one of them, and mounts guard.” Also as hinted, an order to all Smiths to make pikes with their whole soul.

Heads of Districts are in fervent consultation; subordinate Patriotism roams distracted, ravenous for arms. Hitherto at the Hôtel-de-Ville was only such modicum of indifferent firelocks as we have seen. At the so-called Arsenal, there lies nothing but rust, rubbish and saltpetre,—overlooked too by the guns of the Bastille. His Majesty’s Repository, what they call Garde-Meuble, is forced and ransacked: tapestries enough, and gauderies; but of serviceable fighting-gear small stock! Two silver-mounted cannons there are; an ancient gift from his Majesty of Siam to Louis Fourteenth: gilt sword of the Good Henri; antique Chivalry arms and armour. These, and such as these, a necessitous Patriotism snatches greedily, for want of better. The Siamese cannons go trundling, on an errand they were not meant for. Among the indifferent firelocks are seen tournay-lances; the princely helm and hauberk glittering amid ill-hatted heads,—as in a time when all times and their possessions are suddenly sent jumbling!

At the Maison de Saint-Lazare, Lazar-House once, now a Correction-House with Priests, there was no trace of arms; but, on the other hand, corn, plainly to a culpable extent. Out with it, to market; in this scarcity of grains!—Heavens, will “fifty-two carts,” in long row, hardly carry it to the Halle aux Bleds? Well truly, ye reverend Fathers, was your pantry filled; fat are your larders; over-generous your winebins, ye plotting exasperators of the Poor; traitorous forestallers of bread!

Vain is protesting, entreaty on bare knees: the House of Saint-Lazarus has that in it which comes not out by protesting. Behold, how, from every window, it vomits: mere torrents of furniture, of bellowing and hurly-burly;—the cellars also leaking wine. Till, as was natural, smoke rose,—kindled, some say, by the desperate Saint-Lazaristes themselves, desperate of other riddance; and the Establishment vanished from this world in flame. Remark nevertheless that “a thief” (set on or not by Aristocrats), being detected there, is “instantly hanged.”

Look also at the Châtelet Prison. The Debtors’ Prison of La Force is broken from without; and they that sat in bondage to Aristocrats go free: hearing of which the Felons at the Châtelet do likewise “dig up their pavements,” and stand on the offensive; with the best prospects,—had not Patriotism, passing that way, “fired a volley” into the Felon-world; and crushed it down again under hatches. Patriotism consorts not with thieving and felony: surely also Punishment, this day, hitches (if she still hitch) after Crime, with frightful shoes-of-swiftness! “Some score or two” of wretched persons, found prostrate with drink in the cellars of that Saint-Lazare, are indignantly haled to prison; the Jailor has no room; whereupon, other place of security not suggesting itself, it is written, “on les pendit, they hanged them.”[180]Brief is the word; not without significance, be it true or untrue!

In such circumstances, the Aristocrat, the unpatriotic rich man is packing up for departure. But he shall not get departed. A wooden-shod force has seized all Barriers, burnt or not: all that enters, all that seeks to issue, is stopped there, and dragged to the Hôtel-de-Ville: coaches, tumbrils, plate, furniture, “many meal-sacks,” in time even “flocks and herds” encumber the Place of Gréve.[181]

And so it roars, and rages, and brays; drums beating, steeples pealing; criers rushing with hand-bells: “Oyez, oyez, All men to their Districts to be enrolled!” The Districts have met in gardens, open squares; are getting marshalled into volunteer troops. No red-hot ball has yet fallen from Besenval’s Camp; on the contrary, Deserters with their arms are continually dropping in: nay now, joys of joys, at two in the afternoon, the Gardes Françaises, being ordered to Saint-Denis, and flatly declining, have come over in a body! It is a fact worth many. Three thousand six hundred of the best fighting men, with complete accoutrement; with cannoneers even, and cannon! Their officers are left standing alone; could not so much as succeed in “spiking the guns.” The very Swiss, it may now be hoped, Château-Vieux and the others, will have doubts about fighting.

Our Parisian Militia, which some think it were better to name National Guard,—is prospering as heart could wish. It promised to be forty-eight thousand; but will in few hours double and quadruple that number: invincible, if we had only arms!

But see, the promised Charleville Boxes, marked Artillerie! Here then are arms enough?—Conceive the blank face of Patriotism, when it found them filled with rags, foul linen, candle-ends, and bits of wood! Provost of the Merchants, how is this? Neither at the Chartreux Convent, whither we were sent with signed order, is there or ever was there any weapon of war. Nay here, in this Seine Boat, safe under tarpaulings (had not the nose of Patriotism been of the finest), are “five thousand-weight of gunpowder”; not coming in, but surreptitiously going out! What meanest thou, Flesselles? ’Tis a ticklish game, that of “amusing” us. Cat plays with captive mouse: but mouse with enraged cat, with enraged National Tiger?

Meanwhile, the faster, O ye black-aproned Smiths, smite; with strong arm and willing heart. This man and that, all stroke from head to heel, shall thunder alternating, and ply the great forgehammer, till stithy reel and ring again; while ever and anon, overhead, booms the alarm-cannon,—for the City has now got gunpowder. Pikes are fabricated; fifty thousand of them, in six-and-thirty hours: judge whether the Black-aproned have been idle. Dig trenches, unpave the streets, ye others, assiduous, man and maid; cram the earth in barrel-barricades, at each of them a volunteer sentry; pile the whinstones in window-sills and upper rooms. Have scalding pitch, at least boiling water ready, ye weak old women, to pour it and dash it on Royal-Allemand, with your old skinny arms: your shrill curses along with it will not be wanting!— Patrols of the new-born National Guard, bearing torches, scour the streets, all that night; which otherwise are vacant, yet illuminated in every window by order. Strange looking; like some naphtha-lighted City of the Dead, with here and there a flight of perturbed Ghosts.

O poor mortals, how ye make this Earth bitter for each other; this fearful and wonderful Life fearful and horrible; and Satan has his place in all hearts! Such agonies and ragings and wailings ye have, and have had, in all times:—to be buried all, in so deep silence; and the salt sea is not swoln with your tears.

Great meanwhile is the moment, when tidings of Freedom reach us; when the long-enthralled soul, from amid its chains and squalid stagnancy, arises, where it still only in blindness and bewilderment, and swears by Him that made it, that it will be free! Free? Understand that well, it is the deep commandment, dimmer or clearer, of our whole being, to be free. Freedom is the one purport, wisely aimed at, or unwisely, of all man’s struggles, toilings and sufferings in this Earth. Yes, supreme is such a moment (if thou have known it): first vision as of a flame-girt Sinai, in this our waste Pilgrimage,—which thenceforth wants not its pillar of cloud by day, and pillar of fire by night! Something it is even,—nay, something considerable, when the chains have grown corrosive, poisonous,—to be free “from oppression by our fellow-man.” Forward, ye maddened sons of France; be it towards this destiny or towards that! Around you is but starvation, falsehood, corruption and the clam of death. Where ye are is no abiding.

Imagination may, imperfectly, figure how Commandant Besenval, in the Champ-de-Mars, has worn out these sorrowful hours. Insurrection raging all round; his men melting away! From Versailles, to the most pressing messages, comes no answer; or once only some vague word of answer which is worse than none. A Council of Officers can decided merely that there is no decision: Colonels inform him, “weeping,” that they do not think their men will fight. Cruel uncertainty is here: war-god Broglie sits yonder, inaccessible in his Olympus; does not descend terror-clad, does not produce his whiff of grapeshot; sends no orders.

Truly, in the Château of Versailles all seems mystery: in the Town of Versailles, were we there, all is rumour, alarm and indignation. An august National Assembly sits, to appearance, menaced with death; endeavouring to defy death. It has resolved “that Necker carries with him the regrets of the Nation.” It has sent solemn Deputation over to the Château, with entreaty to have these troops withdrawn. In vain: his Majesty, with a singular composure, invites us to be busy rather with our own duty, making the constitution! Foreign Pandours, and such like, go pricking and prancing, with a swashbuckler air; with an eye too probably to the Salle des Menus, —were it not for the “grim-looking countenances” that crowd all avenues there.[182] Be firm, ye National Senators; the cynosure of a firm, grim-looking people!

The august National Senators determine that there shall, at least, be Permanent Session till this thing end. Wherein however, consider that worthy Lafranc de Pompignan, our new President, whom we have named Bailly’s successor, is an old man, wearied with many things. He is the Brother of that Pompignan who meditated lamentably on the Book of Lamentations:

Savez-vous pourquoi Jérémie Se lamentait toute sa vie? C’est qu’il prévoyaitQue Pompignan le traduirait!

Poor Bishop Pompignan withdraws; having got Lafayette for helper or substitute; this latter, as nocturnal Vice-President, with a thin house in disconsolate humour, sits sleepless, with lights unsnuffed;—waiting what the hours will bring.

So at Versailles. But at Paris, agitated Besenval, before retiring for the night, has stept over to old M. de Sombreuil, of the Hôtel des Invalides hard by. M. de Sombreuil has, what is a great secret, some eight-and-twenty thousand stand of muskets deposited in his cellars there; but no trust in the temper of his Invalides. This day, for example, he sent twenty of the fellows down to unscrew those muskets; lest Sedition might snatch at them: but scarcely, in six hours, had the twenty unscrewed twenty gun-locks, or dogsheads (chiens) of locks,—each Invalide his dogshead! If ordered to fire, they would, he imagines, turn their cannon against himself.

Unfortunate old military gentleman, it is your hour, not of glory! Old Marquis de Launay too, of the Bastille, has pulled up his drawbridges long since, “and retired into his interior”; with sentries walking on his battlements, under the midnight sky, aloft over the glare of illuminated Paris;—whom a National Patrol, passing that way, takes the liberty of firing at: “seven shots towards twelve at night,” which do not take effect.[183] This was the 13th day of July, 1789; a worse day, many said, than the last 13th was, when only hail fell out of Heaven, not madness rose out of Tophet, ruining worse than crops!

In these same days, as Chronology will teach us, hot old Marquis Mirabeau lies stricken down, at Argenteuil,—not within sound of these alarm-guns; for he properly is not there, and only the body of him now lies, deaf and cold for ever. It was on Saturday night that he, drawing his last life-breaths, gave up the ghost there;—leaving a world, which would never go to his mind, now broken out, seemingly, into deliration and the culbute générale. What is it to him, departing elsewhither, on his long journey? The old Château Mirabeau stands silent, far off, on its scarped rock, in that “gorge of two windy valleys”; the pale-fading spectre now of a Château: this huge World-riot, and France, and the World itself, fades also, like a shadow on the great still mirror-sea; and all shall be as God wills.

Young Mirabeau, sad of heart, for he love this crabbed brave old Father; sad of heart, and occupied with sad cares,—is withdrawn from Public History. The great crisis transacts itself without him.[184]

Chapter VI: Storm and Victory

But, to the living and the struggling, a new, Fourteenth morning dawns. Under all roofs of this distracted City is the nodus of a drama, not untragical, crowding towards solution. The bustlings and preparings, the tremors and menaces; the tears that fell from old eyes! This day, my sons, ye shall quit you like men. By the memory of your fathers’ wrongs, by the hope of your children’s rights! Tyranny impends in red wrath: help for you is none, if not in your own right hands. This day ye must do or die.

From earliest light, a sleepless Permanent Committee has heard the old cry, now waxing almost frantic, mutinous: Arms! Arms! Provost Flesselles, or what traitors there are among you, may think of those Charleville Boxes. A hundred-and-fifty thousand of us; and but the third man furnished with so much as a pike! Arms are the one thing needful: with arms we are an unconquerable man-defying National Guard; without arms, a rabble to be whiffed with grapeshot.

Happily the word has arisen, for no secret can be kept,—that there lie muskets at the Hôtel des Invalides. Thither will we: King’s Procureur M. Ethys de Corny, and whatsoever of authority a Permanent Committee can lend, shall go with us. Besenval’s Camp is there; perhaps he will not fire on us; if he kills us, we shall but die.

Alas, poor Besenval, with his troops melting away in that manner, has not the smallest humour to fire! At five o’clock, this morning, as he lay dreaming, oblivious in the École Militaire, a “figure” stood suddenly at his bedside; “with face rather handsome; eyes inflamed, speech rapid and curt, air audacious”: such a figure drew Priam’s curtains! The message and monition of the figure was, that resistance would be hopeless; that if blood flowed, woe to him who shed it. Thus spoke the figure: and vanished. “Withal there was a kind of eloquence that struck one.” Besenval admits that he should have arrested him, but did not.[185] Who this figure with inflamed eyes, with speech rapid and curt, might be? Besenval knows, but mentions not. Camille Desmoulins? Pythagorean Marquis Valadi, inflamed with “violent motions all night at the Palais Royal?” Fame names him. “Young M. Meillar”;[186] then shuts her lips about him for ever.

In any case, behold about nine in the morning, our National Volunteers rolling in long wide flood, southwestward to the Hôtel des Invalides; in search of the one thing needful. King’s Procureur M. Ethys de Corny and officials are there; the Curé of Saint-Etienne du Mont marches unpacific, at the head of his militant Parish; the Clerks of the Basoche in red coats we see marching, now Volunteers of the Basoche; the Volunteers of the Palais Royal:—National Volunteers, numerable by tens of thousands; of one heart and mind. The King’s muskets are the Nation’s; think, old M. de Sombreuil, how, in this extremity, thou wilt refuse them! Old M. de Sombreuil would fain hold parley, send couriers; but it skills not: the walls are scaled, no Invalide firing a shot; the gates must be flung open. Patriotism rushes in, tumultuous, from grunsel up to ridge-tile, through all rooms and passages; rummaging distractedly for arms. What cellar, or what cranny can escape it? The arms are found; all safe there; lying packed in straw,— apparently with a view to being burnt! More ravenous than famishing lions over dead prey, the multitude, with clangour and vociferation, pounces on them; struggling, dashing, clutching:—to the jamming-up, to the pressure, fracture and probable extinction of the weaker Patriot.[187] And so, with such protracted crash of deafening, most discordant Orchestra-music, the Scene is changed; and eight-and-twenty thousand sufficient firelocks are on the shoulders of as many National Guards, lifted thereby out of darkness into fiery light.

Let Besenval look at the glitter of these muskets, as they flash by! Gardes Françaises, it is said, have cannon levelled on him; ready to open, if need were, from the other side of the River.[188] Motionless sits he; “astonished,” one may flatter oneself, “at the proud bearing ( fière contenance ) of the Parisians.”—And now, to the Bastille, ye intrepid Parisians! There grapeshot still threatens: thither all men’s thoughts and steps are now tending.

Old De Launay, as we hinted, withdrew “into his interior” soon after midnight of Sunday. He remains there ever since hampered, as all military gentlemen now are, in the saddest conflict of uncertainties. The Hôtel-de-Ville “invites” him to admit National Soldiers, which is a soft name for surrendering. On the other hand, His Majesty’s orders were precise. His garrison is but eighty-two old Invalides, reinforced by thirty-two young Swiss; his walls indeed are nine feet thick, he has cannon and powder; but, alas, only one day’s provision of victuals. The city too is French, the poor garrison mostly French. Rigorous old de Launay, think what thou wilt do!

All morning, since nine, there has been a cry everywhere: To the Bastille! Repeated “deputations of citizens” have been here, passionate for arms; whom De Launay has got dismissed by soft speeches through port-holes. Towards noon, Elector Thuriot de la Rosière gains admittance; finds de Launay indisposed for surrender; nay disposed for blowing up the place rather. Thuriot mounts with him to the battlements; heaps of paving-stones, old iron and missiles lie piled; cannon all duly levelled; in every embrasure a cannon,—only drawn back a little! But outwards, behold, O Thuriot, how the multitude flows on, welling through every street; tocsin furiously pealing, all drums beating the générale: the Suburb Saint-Antoine rolling hitherward wholly, as one man! Such vision (spectral yet real) thou, O Thuriot, as from thy Mount of Vision, beholdest in this moment: prophetic of what other Phantasmagories, and loud-gibbering Spectral Realties, which thou yet beholdest not, but shalt! “Que voulez-vous?” said De Launay, turning pale at the sight, with an air of reproach, almost of menace. “Monsieur,” said Thuriot, rising into the moral-sublime, “what mean you? Consider if I could not precipitate both of us from this height,”—say only a hundred feet, exclusive of the walled ditch! Whereupon De Launay fell silent. Thuriot shows himself from some pinnacle, to comfort the multitude becoming suspicious, fremescent: then descends; departs with protest; with warning addressed also to the Invalides,— on whom, however, it produces but a mixed indistinct impression. The old heads are none of the clearest; besides, it is said, De Launay has been profuse of beverages (prodigua des buissons). They think, they will not fire,—if not fired on, if they can help it; but must, on the whole, be ruled considerably by circumstances.

Woe to thee, De Launay, in such an hour, if thou canst not, taking some one firm decision, rule circumstances! Soft speeches will not serve; hard grapeshot is questionable; but hovering between the two is unquestionable. Even wilder swells the tide of men; their infinite hum waxing ever louder, into imprecations, perhaps into crackle of stray musketry,—which latter, on walls nine feet thick, cannot do execution. The Outer Drawbridge has been lowered for Thuriot; new deputation of citizens (it is the third, and noisiest of all) penetrates that way into the Outer Court: soft speeches producing no clearance of these, De Launay gives up fire; pulls up his Drawbridge. A slight sputter;—which has kindled the too combustible chaos; made it a roaring fire-chaos! Bursts forth Insurrection, at sight of its own blood (for there were deaths by that sputter of fire), into endless rolling explosion of musketry distraction, execration;—and over head, from the Fortress, let one great gun, with its grapeshot, go booming, to show what we could do. The Bastille is besieged!

On, then, all Frenchmen, that have hearts in your bodies! Roar with all your throats, of cartilage and metal, ye Sons of Liberty; stir spasmodically whatsoever of utmost faculty is in you, soul, body, or spirit; for it is the hour! Smite, thou Louis Tournay, cartwright of the Marais, old-soldier of the Regiment Dauphiné; smite at that Outer Drawbridge chain, though the fiery hail whistles round thee! Never, over nave or felloe, did thy axe strike such a stroke. Down with it, man; down with it to Orcus: let the whole accursed Edifice sink thither, and Tyranny be swallowed up for ever! Mounted, some say, on the roof of the guard-room, some “on bayonets stuck into joints of the wall,” Louis Tournay smites, brave Aubin Bonnemère (also an old soldier) seconding him: the chain yields, breaks; the huge Drawbridge slams down, thundering (avec fracas). Glorious: and yet, alas, it is still but the outworks. The Eight grim Towers, with their Invalide musketry, their paving-stones and cannon-mouths, still soar aloft intact;—Ditch yawning impassable, stone-faced; the inner Drawbridge with its back towards us: the Bastille is still to take!

To describe this Siege of the Bastille (thought to be one of the most important in History) perhaps transcends the talent of mortals. Could one but, after infinite reading, get to understand so much as the plan of the building! But there is open Esplanade, at the end of the Rue Saint-Antoine; there are such Forecourts, Cour Avancé, Cour de l’Orme, arched Gateway (where Louis Tournay now fights); then new drawbridges, dormant-bridges, rampart-bastions, and the grim Eight Towers: a labyrinthic Mass, high-frowning there, of all ages from twenty years to four hundred and twenty;—beleaguered, in this its last hour, as we said, by mere Chaos come again! Ordnance of all calibres; throats of all capacities; men of all plans, every man his own engineer: seldom since the war of Pygmies and Cranes was there seen so anomalous a thing. Half-pay Elie is home for a suit of regimentals; no one would heed him in coloured clothes: half-pay Hulin is haranguing Gardes Françaises in the Place de Grève. Frantic Patriots pick up the grapeshots; bear them, still hot (or seemingly so), to the Hôtel-de-Ville:—Paris, you perceive, is to be burnt! Flesselles is “pale to the very lips,” for the roar of the multitude grows deep. Paris wholly has got to the acme of its frenzy; whirled, all ways, by panic madness. At every street-barricade, there whirls simmering a minor whirlpool,— strengthening the barricade, since God knows what is coming; and all minor whirlpools play distractedly into that grand Fire-Maelstrom which is lashing round the Bastille.

And so it lashes and it roars. Cholat the wine-merchant has become an impromptu cannoneer. See Georget, of the Marine Service, fresh from Brest, ply the King of Siam’s cannon. Singular (if we were not used to the like): Georget lay, last night, taking his ease at his inn; the King of Siam’s cannon also lay, knowing nothing of him, for a hundred years. Yet now, at the right instant, they have got together, and discourse eloquent music. For, hearing what was toward, Georget sprang from the Brest Diligence, and ran. Gardes Françaises also will be here, with real artillery: were not the walls so thick!—Upwards from the Esplanade, horizontally from all neighbouring roofs and windows, flashes one irregular deluge of musketry, without effect. The Invalides lie flat, firing comparatively at their ease from behind stone; hardly through port-holes, show the tip of a nose. We fall, shot; and make no impression!

Let conflagration rage; of whatsoever is combustible! Guard-rooms are burnt, Invalides mess-rooms. A distracted “perukemaker with two fiery torches” is for burning “the saltpetres of the Arsenal”;—had not a woman run screaming; had not a Patriot, with some tincture of Natural Philosophy, instantly struck the wind out of him (butt of musket on pit of stomach), overturned barrels, and stayed the devouring element. A young beautiful lady, seized escaping in these Outer Courts, and thought falsely to be De Launay’s daughter, shall be burnt in De Launay’s sight; she lies swooned on a paillasse: but again a Patriot, it is brave Aubin Bonnemère the old soldier, dashes in, and rescues her. Straw is burnt; three cartloads of it, hauled thither, go up in white smoke: almost to the choking of Patriotism itself; so that Elie had, with singed brows, to drag back one cart; and Réole the “gigantic haberdasher” another. Smoke as of Tophet; confusion as of Babel; noise as of the Crack of Doom!

Blood flows; the ailment of new madness. The wounded are carried into houses of the Rue Cerisaie; the dying leave their last mandate not to yield till the accursed Stronghold fall. And yet, alas, how fall? The walls are so thick! Deputations, three in number, arrive from the Hôtel-de-Ville; Abbé Fauchet (who was of one) can say, with what almost superhuman courage of benevolence.[189]These wave their Townflag in the arched Gateway; and stand, rolling their drum; but to no purpose. In such Crack of Doom, De Launay cannot hear them, dare not believe them: they return, with justified rage, the whew of lead still singing in their ears. What to do? The Firemen are here, squirting with their fire-pumps on the Invalides cannon, to wet the touchholes; they unfortunately cannot squirt so high; but produce only clouds of spray. Individuals of classical knowledge propose catapults. Santerre, the sonorous Brewer of the Suburb Saint-Antoine, advises rather that the place be fired, by a “mixture of phosphorus and oil-of-turpentine spouted up through forcing pumps”: O Spinola-Santerre, hast thou the mixture ready? Every man his own engineer! And still the fire-deluge abates not: even women are firing, and Turks; at least one woman (with her sweetheart), and one Turk.[190] Gardes Françaises have come: real cannon, real cannoneers. Usher Maillard to busy; half-pay Elie, half-pay Hulin rage in the midst of thousands.

How the great Bastille Clock ticks (inaudible) in its Inner Court there, at its ease, hour after hour; as if nothing special, for it or the world, were passing! It tolled One when the firing began; and is now pointing towards Five, and still the firing slakes not.—Far down, in their vaults, the seven Prisoners hear muffled din as of earthquakes; their Turnkeys answer vaguely.

Woe to thee, De Launay, with thy poor hundred Invalides! Broglie is distant, and his ears heavy: Besenval hears, but can send no help. One poor troop of Hussars has crept, reconnoitring, cautiously along the Quais, as far as the Pont Neuf. “We are come to join you,” said the Captain; for the crowd seems shoreless. A large-headed dwarfish individual, of smoke-bleared aspect, shambles forward, opening his blue lips, for there is sense in him; and croaks: “alight then, and give up your arms!” The Hussar-Captain is too happy to be escorted to the Barriers, and dismissed on parole. Who the squat individual was? Men answer, It is M. Marat, author of the excellent pacific Avis au Peuple! Great truly, O thou remarkable Dogleech, is this thy day of emergence and new-birth: and yet this same day come four years——!—But let the curtains of the Future hang.

What shall De Launay do? One thing only De Launay could have done: what he said he would do. Fancy him sitting, from the first, with lighted taper, within arm’s length of the Powder-Magazine; motionless, like old Roman Senator, or Bronze Lamp-holder; coldly apprising Thuriot, and all men, by a slight motion of his eye, what his resolution was: Harmless he sat there, while unharmed; but the King’s Fortress, meanwhile, could, might, would, or should, in nowise be surrendered, save to the King’s Messenger: one old man’s life is worthless, so it be lost with honour; but think, ye brawling canaille, how will it be when a whole Bastille springs skyward!—In such statuesque, taper-holding attitude, one fancies De Launay might have left Thuriot, the red Clerks of the Basoche Curé of Saint-Stephen and all the tag-rag-and-bobtail of the world, to work their will.

And yet, withal, he could not do it. Hast thou considered how each man’s heart is so tremulously responsive to the hearts of all men; hast thou noted how omnipotent in the very sound of many men? How their shriek of indignation palsies the strong soul; their howl of contumely withers with unfelt pangs? The Ritter Glück confessed that the ground-tone of the noblest passage, in one of his noblest Operas, was the voice of the Populace he has heard at Vienna, crying to their Kaiser: Bread! Bread! Great is the combined voice of men; the utterance of their instincts, which are truer than their thoughts: it is the greatest a man encounters, among the sounds and shadows which make up this World of Time. He who can resist that, has his footing somewhere beyond Time. De Launay could not do it. Distracted, he hovers between two; hopes in the middle of despair; surrenders not his Fortress; declares that he will blow it up, seizes torches to blow it up, and does not blow it. Unhappy old De Launay, it is the death-agony of thy Bastille and thee! Jail, Jailoring and Jailor, all three, such as they may have been, must finish.

For four hours now has the World-Bedlam roared: call it the World-Chimera, blowing fire! The poor Invalides have sunk under their battlements, or rise only with reversed muskets: they have made a white flag of napkins: go beating the chamade, or seeming to beat, for one can hear nothing. The very Swiss at the portcullis look weary of firing; disheartened in the fire-deluge: a porthole at the drawbridge is opened, as by one that would speak. See Huissier Maillard, the shifty man! On his plank, swinging over the abyss of that stone Ditch; plank resting on parapet, balanced by weight of Patriots,—he hovers perilous: such a Dove towards such an Ark! Deftly, thou shifty Usher: one man already fell; and lies smashed, far down there, against the masonry! Usher Maillard falls not: deftly, unerring he walks, with outspread palm. The Swiss holds a paper through his porthole; the shifty Usher snatches it, and returns. Terms of surrender: Pardon, immunity to all! Are they accepted?—“Foi d’officier, On the word of an officer,” answers half-pay Hulin,—or half-pay Elie, for men do not agree on it, “they are!” Sinks the drawbridge,—Usher Maillard bolting it when down; rushes-in the living deluge: the Bastille is fallen! Victoire! La Bastille est prise![191]

Chapter VII: Not a Revolt

Why dwell on what follows? Hulin’s foi d’officier should have been kept, but could not. The Swiss stand drawn up, disguised in white canvas smocks; the Invalides without disguise; their arms all piled against the wall. The first rush of victors, in ecstasy that the death-peril is passed, “leaps joyfully on their necks”; but new victors rush, and ever new, also in ecstasy not wholly of joy. As we said, it was a living deluge, plunging headlong: had not the Gardes Françaises, in their cool military way, “wheeled round with arms levelled,” it would have plunged suicidally, by the hundred or the thousand, into the Bastille-ditch.

And so it goes plunging through court and corridor; billowing uncontrollable, firing from windows—on itself; in hot frenzy of triumph, of grief and vengeance for its slain. The poor Invalides will fare ill; one Swiss, running off in his white smock, is driven back, with a death-thrust. Let all Prisoners be marched to the Townhall, to be judged!— Alas, already one poor Invalide has his right hand slashed off him; his maimed body dragged to the Place de Grève, and hanged there. This same right hand, it is said, turned back De Launay from the Powder-Magazine, and saved Paris.

De Launay, “discovered in grey frock with poppy-coloured riband,” is for killing himself with the sword of his cane. He shall to the Hôtel-de-Ville; Hulin, Maillard and others escorting him; Elie marching foremost “with the capitulation-paper on his sword’s point.” Through roarings and cursings; through hustlings, clutchings, and at last through strokes! Your escort is hustled aside, felled down; Hulin sinks exhausted on a heap of stones. Miserable De Launay! He shall never enter the Hôtel-de-Ville: only his “bloody hair-queue, held up in a bloody hand”; that shall enter, for a sign. The bleeding trunk lies on the steps there; the head is off through the streets; ghastly, aloft on a pike.

Rigorous De Launay has died; crying out, “O friends, kill me fast!” Merciful De Losme must die; though Gratitude embraces him, in this fearful hour, and will die for him; it avails not. Brothers, your wrath is cruel! Your Place de Grève is become a Throat of the Tiger; full of mere fierce bellowings, and thirst of blood. One other officer is massacred; one other Invalide is hanged on the Lamp-iron; with difficulty, with generous perseverance, the Gardes Françaises will save the rest. Provost Flesselles, stricken long since with the paleness of death, must descend from his seat “to be judged at the Palais Royal”:—alas, to be shot dead, by an unknown hand, at the turning of the first street!—

O evening sun of July, how, at this hour, thy beams fall slant on reapers amid peaceful woody fields; on old women spinning in cottages; on ships far out in the silent main; on Balls at the Orangerie of Versailles, where high-rouged Dames of the Palace are even now dancing with double-jacketed Hussar-Officers;—and also on this roaring Hell-porch of a Hôtel-de-Ville! Babel Tower, with the confusion of tongues, were not Bedlam added with the conflagration of thoughts, was no type of it. One forest of distracted steel bristles, endless, in front of an Electoral Committee; points itself, in horrid radii, against this and the other accused breast. It was the Titans warring with Olympus; and they, scarcely crediting it, have conquered: prodigy of prodigies; delirious,—as it could not but be. Denunciation, vengeance; blaze of triumph on a dark ground of terror: all outward, all inward things fallen into one general wreck of madness!

Electoral Committee? Had it a thousand throats of brass, it would not suffice. Abbè Lefevre, in the Vaults down below, is black as Vulcan, distributing that “five thousand-weight of Powder”; with what perils, these eight-and-forty hours! Last night, a Patriot, in liquor, insisted on sitting to smoke on the edge of one of the Powder-barrels: there smoked he, independent of the world,—till the Abbé “purchased his pipe for three francs,” and pitched it far.

Elie, in the grand Hall, Electoral Committee looking on, sits “with drawn sword bent in three places”; with battered helm, for he was of the Queen’s Regiment, Cavalry; with torn regimentals, face singed and soiled; comparable, some think, to “an antique warrior”;—judging the people; forming a list of Bastille Heroes. O Friends, stain not with blood the greenest laurels ever gained in this world: such is the burden of Elie’s song: could it but be listened to. Courage, Elie! Courage, ye Municipal Electors! A declining sun; the need of victuals, and of telling news, will bring assuagement, dispersion: all earthly things must end.

Along the streets of Paris circulate Seven Bastille Prisoners, borne shoulder-high; seven Heads on pikes; the Keys of the Bastille; and much else. See also the Gardes Françaises, in their steadfast military way, marching home to their barracks, with the Invalides and Swiss kindly enclosed in hollow square. It is one year and two months since these same men stood unparticipating, with Brennus d’Agoust at the Palais de Justice, when Fate overtook D’Espréménil; and now they have participated; and will participate. Not Gardes Françaises henceforth, but Centre Grenadiers of the National Guard: men of iron discipline and humour,—not without a kind of thought in them!

Likewise ashlar stones of the Bastille continue thundering through the dusk; its paper archives shall fly white. Old secrets come to view; and long-buried Despair finds voice. Read this portion of an old Letter:[192]“If for my consolation Monseigneur would grant me, for the sake of God and the Most Blessed Trinity, that I could have news of my dear wife; were it only her name on a card, to show that she is alive! It were the greatest consolation I could receive; and I should for ever bless the greatness of Monseigneur.” Poor Prisoner, who namest thyself Quéret-Démery, and has no other history,—she is dead, that dear wife of thine, and thou art dead! ’Tis fifty years since thy breaking heart put this question; to be heard now first, and long heard, in the hearts of men.

But so does the July twilight thicken; so must Paris, as sick children, and all distracted creatures do, brawl itself finally into a kind of sleep. Municipal Electors, astonished to find their heads still uppermost, are home: only Moreau de Saint-Méry of tropical birth and heart, of coolest judgement; he, with two others, shall sit permanent at the Townhall. Paris sleeps; gleams upward the illuminated City: patrols go clashing, without common watchword; there go rumours; alarms of war, to the extent of “fifteen thousand men marching through the Suburb Saint-Antoine,”—who never got it marched through. Of the day’s distraction judge by this of the night: Moreau de Saint-Méry, “before rising from his seat, gave upwards of three thousand orders.”[193]What a head; comparable to Friar Bacon’s Brass Head! Within it lies all Paris. Prompt must the answer be, right or wrong; in Paris is no other authority extant. Seriously, a most cool clear head;—for which also thou, O brave Saint-Méry, in many capacities, from august Senator to Merchant’s-Clerk, Book-dealer, Vice-King; in many places, from Virginia to Sardinia, shalt, ever as a brave man, find employment.[194]

Besenval has decamped, under cloud of dusk, “amid a great affluence of people,” who did not harm him; he marches, with faint-growing tread, down the left bank of the Seine, all night,—towards infinite space. Re-summoned shall Besenval himself be; for trial, for difficult acquittal. His King’s-troops, his Royal-Allemand, are gone hence for ever.

The Versailles Ball and lemonade is done; the Orangerie is silent except for nightbirds. Over in the Salle des Menus, Vice-president Lafayette, with unsnuffed lights, “with some Hundred or so of Members, stretched on tables round him,” sits erect; outwatching the Bear. This day, a second solemn Deputation went to his Majesty; a second and then a third: with no effect. What will the end of these things be?

In the Court, all is mystery, not without whisperings of terror; though ye dream of lemonade and epaulettes, ye foolish women! His Majesty, kept in happy ignorance, perhaps dreams of double-barrels and the Woods of Meudon. Late at night, the Duke de Liancourt, having official right of entrance, gains access to the Royal Apartments; unfolds with earnest clearness, in his constitutional way, the Job’s-news. “Mais,” said poor Louis, “c’est une révolte, Why, that is a revolt!”—“Sire,” answered Liancourt, “it is not a revolt,—it is a revolution.”

Chapter VIII: Conquering Your King

On the morrow a fourth Deputation to the Château is on foot: of a more solemn, not to say awful character; for, besides “orgies in the Orangerie,” it seems “the grain-convoys are all stopped”; nor has Mirabeau’s thunder been silent. Such Deputation is on the point of setting out,—when lo, his Majesty himself, attended only by his two Brothers, steps in; quite in the paternal manner; announces that the troops, and all causes of offence, are gone, and henceforth there shall be nothing but trust, reconcilement, goodwill; whereof he “permits, and even requests,” a National Assembly to assure Paris in his name! Acclamation, as of men suddenly delivered from death, gives answer. The whole Assembly spontaneously rises to escort his Majesty back; “interlacing their arms to keep off the excessive pressure from him”; for all Versailles is crowding and shouting. The Château Musicians, with a felicitous promptitude, strike up the Sein de sa Famille (Bosom of one’s Family): the Queen appears at the Balcony with her little boy and girl, “kissing them several times”; infinite Vivats spread far and wide;—and suddenly there has come, as it were, a new Heaven-on-Earth.

Eighty-eight august Senators, Bailly, Lafayette and our repentant Archbishop among them, take coach for Paris, with the great intelligence; benedictions without end on their heads. From the Place Louis Quinze, where they alight, all the way to the Hôtel-de-Ville, it is one sea of Tricolor cockades, of clear National muskets; one tempest of huzzaings, hand-clappings, aided by “occasional rollings” of drum-music. Harangues of due fervour are delivered; especially by Lally Tollendal, pious son of the ill-fated murdered Lally; on whose head, in consequence, a civic crown (of oak or parsley) is forced,—which he forcibly transfers to Bailly’s.

But surely, for one thing, the National Guard should have a General! Moreau de Saint-Méry, he of the “three thousand orders,” casts one of his significant glances on the Bust of Lafayette, which has stood there ever since the American War of Liberty. Whereupon, by acclamation, Lafayette is nominated. Again, in room of the slain traitor or quasi-traitor Flesselles. President Bailly shall be—Provost of the Merchants? No: Mayor of Paris! So be it. Maire de Paris! Mayor Bailly, General Lafayette; vive Bailly, vive Lafayette! the universal out-of-doors multitude rends the welkin in confirmation.—And now, finally, let us to Notre-Dame for a Te Deum.

Towards Notre-Dame Cathedral, in glad procession, these Regenerators of the Country walk, through a jubilant people; in fraternal manner; Abbé Lefevre, till black with his gunpowder services, walking arm in arm with the white-stoled Archbishop. Poor Bailly comes upon the Foundling Children, sent to kneel to him, and “weeps.” Te Deum, our Archbishop officiating, is not only sung, but shot—with blank cartridges. Our joy is boundless, as our woe threatened to be. Paris, by her own pike and musket, and the valour of her own heart, has conquered the very war-gods,—to the satisfaction now of Majesty itself. A courier is, this night, getting under way for Necker: the People’s Minister, invited back by the King, by National Assembly, and Nation, shall traverse France amid shoutings, and the sound of trumpet and timbrel.

Seeing which course of things, Messeigneurs of the Court Triumvirate, Messieurs of the dead-born Broglie-Ministry, and others such, consider that their part, also, is clear: to mount and ride. Off, ye too-royal Broglies, Polignacs and Princes of the Blood; off while it is yet time! Did not the Palais-Royal, in its late nocturnal “violent motions,” set a specific price (place of payment not mentioned) on each of your heads?—With precautions, with the aid of pieces of cannon and regiments that can be depended on, Messeigneurs, between the 16th night and the 17th morning, get to their several roads. Not without risk! Prince Condé has (or seems to have) “men galloping at full speed”: with a view, it is thought, to fling him into the river Oise, at Pont-Sainte-Mayence.[195]The Polignacs travel disguised; friends, not servants, on their coach-box. Broglie has his own difficulties at Versailles, runs his own risks at Metz and Verdun; does nevertheless get safe to Luxemburg, and there rests.

This is what they call the First Emigration; determined on, as appears, in full Court-conclave; his Majesty assisting; prompt he, for his share of it, to follow any counsel whatsoever. “Three Sons of France, and four Princes of the blood of Saint Louis,” says Weber, “could not more effectually humble the Burghers of Paris than by appearing to withdraw in fear of their life.” Alas, the Burghers of Paris bear it with unexpected stoicism! The Man D’Artois indeed is gone; but has he carried, for example, the Land D’Artois with him? Not even Bagatelle the Country-house (which shall be useful as a Tavern); hardly the four-valet Breeches, leaving the Breeches-maker!—As for old Foulon, one learns that he is dead; at least “a sumptuous funeral” is going on; the undertakers honouring him, if no other will. Intendant Berthier, his son-in-law, is still living; lurking: he joined Besenval, on that Eumenides Sunday; appearing to treat it with levity; and is now fled no man knows whither.

The Emigration is not gone many miles, Prince Condé hardly across the Oise, when his Majesty, according to arrangement, for the Emigration also thought it might do good,—undertakes a rather daring enterprise: that of visiting Paris in person. With a Hundred Members of Assembly; with small or no military escort, which indeed he dismissed at the Bridge of Sèvres, poor Louis sets out; leaving a desolate Palace; a Queen weeping, the Present, the Past and the Future all so unfriendly for her.

At the Barrier of Passy, Mayor Bailly, in grand gala, presents him with the keys; harangues him, in Academic style; mentions that it is a great day; that in Henri Quatre’s case, the King had to make conquest of his People; but in this happier case, the People makes conquest of its King (a conquis son Roi). The King, so happily conquered, drives forward, slowly, through a steel people, all silent, or shouting only Vive la Nation; is harangued at the Townhall, by Moreau of the three thousand orders, by King’s Procureur M. Ethys de Corny, by Lally Tollendal, and others; knows not what to think of it or say of it; learns that he is “Restorer of French Liberty,”—as a Statue of him, to be raised on the site of the Bastille, shall testify to all men. Finally, he is shown at the Balcony, with a Tricolor cockade in his hat; is greeted now, with vehement acclamation, from Square and Street, from all windows and roofs:—and so drives home again amid glad mingled and, as it were, intermarried shouts, of Vive le Roi and Vive la Nation; wearied but safe.

It was Sunday when the red-hot balls hung over us, in mid air: it is now but Friday, and “the Revolution is sanctioned.” An august National Assembly shall make the Constitution; and neither foreign Pandour, domestic Triumvirate, with levelled Cannon, Guy Faux powder-plots (for that too was spoken of); nor any tyrannic Power on the Earth or under the Earth, shall say to it, What dost thou?—So jubilates the People; sure now of a Constitution. Cracked Marquis Saint-Huruge is heard under the windows of the Château; murmuring sheer speculative- treason.[196]

Chapter IX: The Lanterne

The Fall of the Bastille may be said to have shaken all France to the deepest foundations of its existence. The rumour of these wonders flies everywhere: with the natural speed of Rumour; with an effect thought to be preternatural, produced by plots. Did D’Orléans or Laclos, nay did Mirabeau (not overburdened with money at this time) send riding Couriers out from Paris; to gallop “on all radii,” or highways, towards all points of France? It is a miracle, which no penetrating man will call in question.[197]

Already in most Towns, Electoral Committees were met; to regret Necker, in harangue and resolution. In many a Town, as Rennes, Caen, Lyons, an ebullient people was already regretting him in brickbats and musketry. But now, at every Town’s-end in France, there do arrive, in these days of terror,—“men,” as men will arrive; nay “men on horseback,” since Rumour oftenest travels riding. These men declare, with alarmed countenance, The BRIGANDS to be coming, to be just at hand; and do then—ride on, about their further business, be what it might! Whereupon the whole population of such Town defensively flies to arms. Petition is soon thereafter forwarded to National Assembly; in such peril and terror of peril, leave to organize yourself cannot be withheld: the armed population becomes everywhere an enrolled National Guard. Thus rides Rumour, careering along all radii, from Paris outwards, to such purpose: in few days, some say in not many hours, all France to the utmost borders bristles with bayonets. Singular, but undeniable,—miraculous or not!—But thus may any chemical liquid, though cooled to the freezing-point, or far lower, still continue liquid; and then, on the slightest stroke or shake, it at once rushes wholly into ice. Thus has France, for long months and even years, been chemically dealt with; brought below zero; and now, shaken by the Fall of a Bastille, it instantaneously congeals: into one crystallized mass, of sharp-cutting steel! Guai a chi la tocca, ’Ware who touches it!

In Paris, an Electoral Committee, with a new Mayor and General, is urgent with belligerent workmen to resume their handicrafts. Strong Dames of the Market (Dames de la Halle) deliver congratulatory harangues; present “bouquets to the Shrine of Sainte Genéviève.” Un-enrolled men deposit their arms,—not so readily as could be wished: and receive “nine francs.” With Te Deums, Royal Visits, and sanctioned Revolution, there is halcyon weather; weather even of preternatural brightness; the hurricane being overblown.

Nevertheless, as is natural, the waves still run high, hollow rocks retaining their murmur. We are but at the 22nd of the month, hardly above a week since the Bastille fell, when it suddenly appears that old Foulon is alive; nay, that he is here, in early morning, in the streets of Paris: the extortioner, the plotter, who would make the people eat grass, and was a liar from the beginning!—It is even so. The deceptive “sumptuous funeral” (of some domestic that died); the hiding-place at Vitry towards Fountainebleau, have not availed that wretched old man. Some living domestic or dependant, for none loves Foulon, has betrayed him to the Village. Merciless boors of Vitry unearth him; pounce on him, like hell-hounds: Westward, old Infamy; to Paris, to be judged at the Hôtel-de-Ville! His old head, which seventy-four years have bleached, is bare; they have tied an emblematic bundle of grass on his back; a garland of nettles and thistles is round his neck: in this manner; led with ropes; goaded on with curses and menaces, must he, with his old limbs, sprawl forward; the pitiablest, most unpitied of all old men.

Sooty Saint-Antoine, and every street, musters its crowds as he passes;—the Hall of the Hôtel-de-Ville, the Place de Grève itself, will scarcely hold his escort and him. Foulon must not only be judged righteously, but judged there where he stands, without any delay. Appoint seven judges, ye Municipals, or seventy-and-seven; name them yourselves, or we will name them: but judge him![198] Electoral rhetoric, eloquence of Mayor Bailly, is wasted, for hours, explaining the beauty of the Law’s delay. Delay, and still delay! Behold, O Mayor of the People, the morning was worn itself into noon: and he is still unjudged!— Lafayette, pressingly sent for, arrives; gives voice: This Foulon, a known man, is guilty almost beyond doubt; but may he not have accomplices? Ought not the truth to be cunningly pumped out of him,—in the Abbaye Prison? It is a new light! Sansculottism claps hands;—at which handclapping, Foulon (in his faintness, as his Destiny would have it) also claps. “See! they understand one another!” cries dark Sansculottism, blazing into fury of suspicion.—“Friends,” said “a person in good clothes,” stepping forward, “what is the use of judging this man? Has he not been judged these thirty years?” With wild yells, Sansculottism clutches him, in its hundred hands: he is whirled across the Place de Grève, to the “Lanterne,” Lamp-iron which there is at the corner of the Rue de la Vannerie; pleading bitterly for life,—to the deaf winds. Only with the third rope (for two ropes broke, and the quavering voice still pleaded) can he be so much as got hanged! His Body is dragged through the streets; his Head goes aloft on a pike, the mouth filled with grass: amid sounds as of Tophet, from a grass-eating people.[199]

Surely if Revenge is a “kind of Justice,” it is a “wild” kind! O mad Sansculottism, hast thou risen, in thy mad darkness, in thy soot and rags; unexpectedly, like an Enceladus, living-buried, from under his Trinacria? They that would make grass be eaten do now eat grass, in this manner? After long dumb-groaning generations, has the turn suddenly become thine?—To such abysmal overturns, and frightful instantaneous inversions of the centre-of-gravity, are human Solecisms all liable, if they but knew it; the more liable, the falser (and top-heavier) they are!—

To add to the horror of Mayor Bailly and his Municipals, word comes that Berthier has also been arrested; that he is on his way hither from Compiègne. Berthier, Intendant (say Tax-levier) of Paris; sycophant and tyrant; forestaller of Corn; contriver of Camps against the people;—accused of many things: is he not Foulon’s son-in-law; and, in that one point, guilty of all? In these hours too, when Sansculottism has its blood up! The shuddering Municipals send one of their number to escort him, with mounted National Guards.

At the fall of day, the wretched Berthier, still wearing a face of courage, arrives at the Barrier; in an open carriage; with the Municipal beside him; five hundred horsemen with drawn sabres; unarmed foot-men enough: not without noise! Placards go brandished round him; bearing legibly his indictment, as Sansculottism, with unlegal brevity, “in huge letters,” draws it up.[200] Paris is come forth to meet him: with hand-clappings, with windows flung up; with dances, triumph-songs, as of the Furies. Lastly, the Head of Foulon; this also meets him on a pike. Well might his “look become glazed,” and sense fail him, at such sight!—Nevertheless, be the man’s conscience what it may, his nerves are of iron. At the Hôtel-de-Ville, he will answer nothing. He says he obeyed superior orders; they have his papers; they may judge and determine: as for himself, not having closed an eye these two nights, he demands, before all things, to have sleep. Leaden sleep, thou miserable Berthier! Guards rise with him, in motion towards the Abbaye. At the very door of the Hôtel-de-Ville, they are clutched; flung asunder, as by a vortex of mad arms; Berthier whirls towards the Lanterne. He snatches a musket; fells and strikes, defending himself like a mad lion: he is borne down, trampled, hanged, mangled: his Head too, and even his Heart, flies over the City on a pike.

Horrible, in Lands that had known equal justice! Not so unnatural in Lands that had never known it, “Le sang qui coule, est-il donc si pur?” asks Barnave; intimating that the Gallows, though by irregular methods, has its own.—Thou thyself, O Reader, when thou turnest that corner of the Rue de la Vannerie, and discernest still that same grim Bracket of old Iron, wilt not want for reflections. “Over a grocer’s shop,” or otherwise; with “a bust of Louis XIV in the niche under it,” now no longer in the niche,—it still sticks there; still holding out an ineffectual light, of fish-oil; and has seen worlds wrecked, and says nothing.

But to the eye of enlightened Patriotism, what a thunder-cloud was this; suddenly shaping itself in the radiance of the halcyon weather! Cloud of Erebus blackness; betokening latent electricity without limit. Mayor Bailly, General Lafayette throw up their commissions, in an indignant manner;—need to be flattered back again. The cloud disappears, as thunder-clouds do. The halcyon weather returns, though of a greyer complexion; of a character more and more evidently not supernatural.

Thus, in any case, with what rubs soever, shall the Bastille be abolished from our Earth; and with it, Feudalism, Despotism; and, one hopes, Scoundrelism generally, and all hard usage of man by his brother man. Alas, the Scoundrelism and hard usage are not so easy of abolition! But as for the Bastille, it sinks day after day, and month after month; its ashlars and boulders tumbling down continually, by express order of our Municipals. Crowds of the curious roam through its caverns; gaze on the skeletons found walled-up, on the oubliettes, iron cages, monstrous stone-blocks with padlock chains. One day we discern Mirabeau there; along with the Genevese Dumont.[201] Workers and onlookers make reverent way for him; fling verses, flowers on his path, Bastille-papers and curiosities into his carriage, with vivats.

Able Editors compile Books from the Bastille Archives; from what of them remain unburnt. The Key of that Robber-Den shall cross the Atlantic; shall lie on Washington’s hall-table. The great Clock ticks now in a private patriotic Clockmaker’s apartment; no longer measuring hours of mere heaviness. Vanished is the Bastille, what we call vanished: the body, or sandstones, of it hanging, in benign metamorphosis, for centuries to come, over the Seine waters, as Pont Louis Seize;[202] the soul of it living, perhaps still longer, in the memories of men.

So far, ye august Senators, with your Tennis-Court Oaths, your inertia and impetus, your sagacity and pertinacity, have ye brought us. “And yet think, Messieurs,” as the Petitioners justly urged, “you who were saviours did yourselves need saviours,”—the brave Bastillers, namely; workmen of Paris; many of them in straitened pecuniary circumstances![203] Subscriptions are opened; Lists are formed, more accurate than Elie’s; harangues are delivered. A Body of Bastille Heroes, tolerably complete, did get together;—comparable to the Argonauts; hoping to endure like them. But in little more than a year, the whirlpool of things threw them asunder again, and they sank. So many highest superlatives achieved by man are followed by new higher; and dwindle into comparatives and positives! The Siege of the Bastille, weighed with which, in the Historical balance, most other sieges, including that of Troy Town, are gossamer, cost, as we find, in killed and mortally wounded, on the part of the Besiegers, some Eighty-three persons: on the part of the Besieged, after all that straw-burning, firepumping, and deluge of musketry, One poor solitary Invalid, shot stone-dead (roide-mort) on the battlements![204] The Bastille Fortress, like the City of Jericho, was overturned by miraculous sound.

Book VI: Consolidation

Chapter I: Make the Constitution

Here perhaps is the place to fix, a little more precisely, what these two words, French Revolution, shall mean; for, strictly considered, they may have as many meanings as there are speakers of them. All things are in revolution; in change from moment to moment, which becomes sensible from epoch to epoch: in this Time-World of ours there is properly nothing else but revolution and mutation, and even nothing else conceivable. Revolution, you answer, means speedier change. Whereupon one has still to ask: How speedy? At what degree of speed; in what particular points of this variable course, which varies in velocity, but can never stop till Time itself stops, does revolution begin and end; cease to be ordinary mutation, and again become such? It is a thing that will depend on definition more or less arbitrary.

For ourselves, we answer that French Revolution means here the open violent Rebellion, and Victory, of disimprisoned Anarchy against corrupt worn-out Authority: how Anarchy breaks prison; bursts up from the infinite Deep, and rages uncontrollable, immeasurable, enveloping a world; in phasis after phasis of fever-frenzy;—till the frenzy burning itself out, and what elements of new Order it held (since all Force holds such) developing themselves, the Uncontrollable be got, if not reimprisoned, yet harnessed, and its mad forces made to work towards their object as sane regulated ones. For as Hierarchies and Dynasties of all kinds, Theocracies, Aristocracies, Autocracies, Strumpetocracies, have ruled over the world; so it was appointed, in the decrees of Providence, that this same Victorious Anarchy, Jacobinism, Sansculottism, French Revolution, Horrors of French Revolution, or what else mortals name it, should have its turn. The “destructive wrath” of Sansculottism: this is what we speak, having unhappily no voice for singing.

Surely a great Phenomenon: nay it is a transcendental one, overstepping all rules and experience; the crowning Phenomenon of our Modern Time. For here again, most unexpectedly, comes antique Fanaticism in new and newest vesture; miraculous, as all Fanaticism is. Call it the Fanaticism of “making away with formulas, de humer les for-mules.” The world of formulas, the formed regulated world, which all habitable world is,—must needs hate such Fanaticism like death; and be at deadly variance with it. The world of formulas must conquer it; or failing that, must die execrating it, anathematizing it;—can nevertheless in nowise prevent its being and its having been. The Anathemas are there, and the miraculous Thing is there.

Whence it cometh? Whither it goeth? These are questions! When the age of Miracles lay faded into the distance as an incredible tradition, and even the age of Conventionalities was now old; and Man’s Existence had for long generations rested on mere formulas which were grown hollow by course of time; and it seemed as if no Reality any longer existed, but only Phantasms of realities, and God’s Universe were the work of the Tailor and Upholsterer mainly, and men were buckram masks that went about becking and grimacing there,— on a sudden, the Earth yawns asunder, and amid Tartarean smoke, and glare of fierce brightness, rises SANSCULOTTISM, many-headed, firebreathing, and asks: What think ye of me? Well may the buckram masks start together, terror-struck: “into expressive well-concerted groups!” It is indeed, Friends, a most singular, most fatal thing. Let whosoever is but buckram and a phantasm look to it: ill verily may it fare with him; here methinks he cannot much longer be. Woe also to many a one who is not wholly buckram, but partly real and human! The age of Miracles has come back! “Behold the World-Phoenix, in fire-consummation and fire-creation: wide are her fanning wings; loud is her death-melody, of battle-thunders and falling towns; skyward lashes the funeral flame, enveloping all things: it is the Death-Birth of a World!”

Whereby, however, as we often say, shall one unspeakable blessing seem attainable. This, namely: that Man and his Life rest no more on hollowness and a Lie, but on solidity and some kind of Truth. Welcome the beggarliest truth, so it be one, in exchange for the royallest sham! Truth of any kind breeds ever new and better truth; thus hard granite rock will crumble down into soil, under the blessed skyey influences; and cover itself with verdure, with fruitage and umbrage. But as for Falsehood, which, in like contrary manner grows ever falser,— what can it, or what should it do but decease, being ripe; decompose itself, gently or even violently, and return to the Father of it,—too probably in flames of fire?

Sansculottism will burn much; but what is incombustible it will not burn. Fear not Sansculottism; recognize it for what it is, the portentous inevitable end of much, the miraculous beginning of much. One other thing thou mayst understand of it: that it too came from God; for has it not been? From of old, as it is written, are His goings forth; in the great Deep of things; fearful and wonderful now as in the beginning: in the whirlwind also He speaks; and the wrath of men is made to praise Him.—But to gauge and measure this immeasurable Thing, and what is called account for it, and reduce it to a dead logic-formula, attempt not! Much less shalt thou shriek thyself hoarse, cursing it; for that, to all needful lengths, has been already done. As an actually existing Son of Time, look, with unspeakable manifold interest, oftenest in silence, at what the Time did bring: therewith edify, instruct, nourish thyself, or were it but to amuse and gratify thyself, as it is given thee.

Another question which at every new turn will rise on us, requiring ever new reply, is this: Where the French Revolution specially is? In the King’s Palace, in his Majesty’s or her Majesty’s managements, and maltreatments, cabals, imbecilities and woes, answer some few:— whom we do not answer. In the National Assembly, answer a large mixed multitude: who accordingly seat themselves in the Reporter’s Chair; and therefrom noting what Proclamations, Acts, Reports, passages of logic-fence, bursts of parliamentary eloquence seem notable within doors, and what tumults and rumours of tumult become audible from without, produce volume on volume; and, naming it History of the French Revolution, contentedly publish the same. To do the like, to almost any extent, with so many Filed Newspapers, Choix des Rapports, Histoires Parlementaires as there are, amounting to many horse-loads, were easy for us. Easy but unprofitable. The National Assembly, named now Constituent Assembly, goes its course; making the Constitution; but the French Revolution also goes its course.

In general, may we not say that the French Revolution lies in the heart and head of every violent-speaking, of every violent-thinking French Man? How the Twenty-five Millions of such, in their perplexed combination, acting and counter-acting may give birth to events; which event successively is the cardinal one; and from what point of vision it may best be surveyed: this is a problem. Which problem the best insight, seeking light from all possible sources, shifting its point of vision whithersoever vision or glimpse of vision can be had, may employ itself in solving; and be well content to solve in some tolerably approximate way.

As to the National Assembly, in so far as it still towers eminent over France, after the manner of a car-borne Carroccio, though now no longer in the van; and ring signals for retreat or advance,—it is and continues a reality among other realities. But insofar as it sits making the Constitution, on the other hand, it is a fatuity and chimera mainly. Alas, in the never so heroic building of Montesquieu-Mably card-castles, though shouted over by the world, what interest is there? Occupied in that way, an august National Assembly becomes for us little other than a Sanhedrim of Pedants, not of the gerund-grinding, yet of no fruitfuller sort; and its loud debatings and recriminations about Rights of Man, Right of Peace and War, Veto suspensif, Veto absolu, what are they but so many Pedant’s-curses, “May God confound you for your Theory of Irregular Verbs!”

A Constitution can be built, Constitutions enough à la Sieyes: but the frightful difficulty is, that of getting men to come and live in them! Could Sieyes have drawn thunder and lightning out of Heaven to sanction his Constitution, it had been well: but without any thunder? Nay, strictly considered, is it not still true that without some such celestial sanction, given visibly in thunder or invisibly otherwise, no Constitution can in the long run be worth much more than the wastepaper it is written on? The Constitution, the set of Laws, or prescribed Habits of Acting, that men will live under, is the one which images their Convictions,—their Faith as to this wondrous Universe, and what rights, duties, capabilities they have there: which stands sanctioned, therefore, by Necessity itself; if not by a seen Deity, then by an unseen one. Other Laws, whereof there are always enough ready-made, are usurpations; which men do not obey, but rebel against, and abolish, at their earliest convenience.

The question of questions accordingly were, Who is it that, especially for rebellers and abolishers, can make a Constitution? He that can image forth the general Belief when there is one; that can impart one when, as here, there is none. A most rare man; ever, as of old, a god-missioned man! Here, however, in defect of such transcendent supreme man, Time with its infinite succession of merely superior men, each yielding his little contribution, does much. Force likewise (for, as Antiquarian Philosophers teach, the royal Sceptre was from the first something of a Hammer, to crack such heads as could not be convinced) will all along find somewhat to do. And thus in perpetual abolition and reparation, rending and mending, with struggle and strife, with present evil, and the hope and effort towards future good, must the Constitution, as all human things do, build itself forward; or un-build itself, and sink, as it can and may. O Sieyes, and ye other Committee-men, and Twelve Hundred miscellaneous individuals from all parts of France! what is the Belief of France, and yours, if ye knew it? Properly that there shall be no Belief; that all formulas be swallowed. The Constitution which will suit that? Alas, too clearly, a No-Constitution, an Anarchy;—which also, in due season, shall be vouchsafed you.

But, after all, what can an unfortunate National Assembly do? Consider only this, that there are Twelve Hundred miscellaneous individuals; not a unit of whom but has his own thinking-apparatus, his own speaking-apparatus! In every unit of them is some belief and wish, different for each, both that France should be regenerated, and also that he individually should do it. Twelve Hundred separate Forces, yoked miscellaneously to any object, miscellaneously to all sides of it; and bidden pull for life!

Or is it the nature of National Assemblies generally to do, with endless labour and clangour, Nothing? Are Representative Governments mostly at bottom Tyrannies too? Shall we say, the Tyrants, the ambitious contentious Persons, from all corners of the country do, in this manner, get gathered into one place; and there, with motion and counter-motion, with jargon and hubbub, cancel one another, like the fabulous Kilkenny Cats; and produce, for net-result, zero;—the country meanwhile governing or guiding itself, by such wisdom, recognized, or for most part unrecognized, as may exist in individual heads here and there?—Nay, even that were a great improvement: for of old, with their Guelf Factions and Ghibelline Factions, with their Red Roses and White Roses, they were wont to cancel the whole country as well. Besides they do it now in a much narrower cockpit; within the four walls of their Assembly House, and here and there an outpost of Hustings and Barrel-heads; do it with tongues too, not with swords:—all which improvements, in the art of producing zero, are they not great? Nay, best of all, some happy Continents (as the Western one, with its Savannahs, where whosoever has four willing limbs finds food under his feet, and an infinite sky over his head) can do without governing.— What Sphinx-questions; which the distracted world, in these very generations, must answer or die!

Chapter II: The Constituent Assembly

One thing an elected Assembly of Twelve Hundred is fit for: Destroying. Which indeed is but a more decided exercise of its natural talent for Doing Nothing. Do nothing, only keep agitating, debating; and things will destroy themselves.

So and not otherwise proved it with an august National Assembly. It took the name Constituent, as if its mission and function had been to construct or build; which also, with its whole soul, it endeavoured to do: yet, in the fates, in the nature of things, there lay for it precisely of all functions the most opposite to that. Singular, what Gospels men will believe; even Gospels according to Jean Jacques! It was the fixed Faith of these National Deputies, as of all thinking Frenchmen, that the Constitution could be made; that they, there and then, were called to make it. How, with the toughness of old Hebrews or Ishmaelite Moslem, did the otherwise light unbelieving People persist in this their Credo quia impossibile; and front the armed world with it; and grow fanatic, and even heroic, and do exploits by it! The Constituent Assembly’s Constitution, and several others, will, being printed and not manuscript, survive to future generations, as an instructive well-nigh incredible document of the Time: the most significant Picture of the then existing France; or at lowest, Picture of these men’s Picture of it.

But in truth and seriousness, what could the National Assembly have done? The thing to be done was, actually as they said, to regenerate France; to abolish the old France, and make a new one, quietly or forcibly, by concession or by violence: this by the Law of Nature has become inevitable. With what degree of violence, depends on the wisdom of those that preside over it. With perfect wisdom on the part of the National Assembly, it had all been otherwise; but whether, in any wise, it could have been pacific, nay other than bloody and convulsive, may still be a question.

Grant, meanwhile, that this Constituent Assembly does to the last continue to be something. With a sigh, it sees itself incessantly forced away from its infinite divine task of perfecting “the Theory of Irregular Verbs,”—to finite terrestrial tasks, which latter have still a significance for us. It is the cynosure of revolutionary France, this National Assembly. All work of Government has fallen into its hands, or under its control; all men look to it for guidance. In the middle of that huge Revolt of Twenty-five millions, it hovers always aloft as Curroccio or Battle-Standard, impelling and impelled, in the most confused way: if it cannot give much guidance, it will still seem to give some. It emits pacificatory Proclamations, not a few; with more or with less result. It authorizes the enrolment of National Guards,—lest Brigands come to devour us, and reap the unripe crops. It sends missions to quell “effervescences”; to deliver men from the Lanterne. It can listen to congratulatory Addresses, which arrive daily by the sackful; mostly in King Cambyses’ vein: also to Petitions and complaints from all mortals; so that every mortal’s complaint, if it cannot get redressed, may at least hear itself complain. For the rest, an august National Assembly can produce Parliamentary Eloquence; and appoint Committees. Committees of the Constitution, of Reports, of Researches; and of much else: which again yield mountains of Printed Paper; the theme of new Parliamentary Eloquence, in bursts, or in plenteous smooth-flowing floods. And so, from the waste vortex whereon all things go whirling and grinding, Organic Laws, or the similitude of such, slowly emerge.

With endless debating, we get the Rights of Man written down and promulgated: true paper basis of all paper Constitutions. Neglecting, cry the opponents, to declare the Duties of Man! Forgetting, answer we, to ascertain the Mights of Man;—one of the fatallest omissions!— Nay, sometimes, as on the Fourth of August, our National Assembly, fired suddenly by an almost preternatural enthusiasm, will get through whole masses of work in one night. A memorable night, this Fourth of August: Dignitaries temporal and spiritual; Peers, Archbishops, Parlement-Presidents, each outdoing the other in patriotic devoted-ness, come successively to throw their now untenable possessions on the “altar of the fatherland.” With louder and louder vivats,—for indeed it is “after dinner” too,—they abolish Tithes, Seignorial Dues, Gabelle, excessive preservation of Game; nay Privilege, Immunity, Feudalism root and branch; then appoint a Te Deum for it; and so, finally, disperse about three in the morning, striking the stars with their sublime heads. Such night, unforeseen but for ever memorable, was this of the Fourth of August 1789. Miraculous, or semi-miraculous, some seem to think it. A new Night of Pentecost, shall we say, shaped according to the new Time, and new Church of Jean Jacques Rousseau? It had its causes; also its effects.

In such manner labour the National Deputies; perfecting their Theory of Irregular Verbs; governing France, and being governed by it; with toil and noise;—cutting asunder ancient intolerable bonds; and, for new ones, assiduously spinning ropes of sand. Were their labours a nothing or a something, yet the eyes of all France being reverently fixed on them, History can never very long leave them altogether out of sight.

For the present, if we glance into that Assembly Hall of theirs, it will be found, as is natural, “most irregular.” As many as “a hundred members are on their feet at once”; no rule in making motions, or only commencements of a rule; Spectators’ Gallery allowed to applaud, and even to hiss;[205] President, appointed once a fortnight, raising many times no serene head above the waves. Nevertheless, as in all human Assemblages, like does begin arranging itself to like; the perennial rule, Ubi homines sunt modi sunt, proves valid. Rudiments of Methods disclose themselves; rudiments of Parties. There is a Right Side (Côté Droit), a Left Side (Côté Gauche); sitting on M. le President’s right hand, or on his left: the Côté Droit conservative; the Côté Gauche destructive. Intermediate is Anglomaniac Constitutionalism, or Two-Chamber Royalism; with its Mouniers, its Lallys,—fast verging towards nonentity. Pre-eminent, on the Right Side, pleads and perorates Cazalès the Dragoon-captain, eloquent, mildly fervent; earning for himself the shadow of a name. There also blusters Barrel-Mirabeau, the Younger Mirabeau, not without wit: dusky D’Espréménil does nothing but sniff and ejaculate; might, it is fondly thought, lay prostrate the Elder Mirabeau himself, would he but try,[206]—which he does not. Last and greatest, see, for one moment, the Abbé Maury; with his jesuitic eyes, his impassive brass face, “image of all the cardinal sins.” Indomitable, unquenchable, he fights jesuitico-rhetorically; with toughest lungs and heart; for Throne, especially for Altar and Tithes. So that a shrill voice exclaims once, from the Gallery: “Messieurs of the Clergy, you have to be shaved; if you wriggle too much, you will get cut.”[207]

The Left Side is also called the D’Orléans side; and sometimes, derisively, the Palais Royal. And yet, so confused, real-imaginary seems everything, “it is doubtful,” as Mirabeau said, “whether D’Orléans himself belong to that same D’Orléans party.” What can be known and seen is, that his moon-visage does beam forth from that point of space. There likewise sits sea-green Robespierre; throwing in his light weight, with decision, not yet with effect. A thin lean Puritan and Precisian, he would make away with formulas; yet lives, moves and has his being wholly in formulas, of another sort. “Peuple,” such, according to Robespierre, ought to be the Royal method of promulgating Laws, “Peuple, this is the Law I have framed for thee; dost thou accept it?”— answered, from Right Side, from Centre and Left, by inextinguishable laughter.[208] Yet men of insight discern that the Seagreen may by chance go far: “This man,” observes Mirabeau, “will do somewhat; he believes every words he says.”

Abbé Sieyes is busy with mere Constitutional work; wherein, unluckily, fellow-workmen are less pliable than, with one who has completed the Science of Polity, they ought to be. Courage, Sieyes, nevertheless! Some twenty months of heroic travail, of contradiction from the stupid, and the Constitution shall be built; the top-stone of it brought out with shouting,—say rather, the top-paper, for it is all Paper; and thou hast done in it what the Earth or the Heaven could require, thy utmost. Note likewise this Trio; memorable for several things; memorable were it only that their history is written in an epigram: “whatsoever these Three have in hand,” it is said, “Duport thinks it, Barnave speaks it, Lameth does it.”[209]

But royal Mirabeau? Conspicuous among all parties, raised above and beyond them all, this man rises more and more. As we often say, he has an eye, he is a reality; while others are formulas and eye-glasses. In the Transient he will detect the Perennial; find some firm footing even among Paper-vortexes. His fame is gone forth to all lands; it gladdened the heart of the crabbed old Friend of Men himself before he died. The very Postilions of inns have heard of Mirabeau: when an impatient Traveller complains that the team is insufficient, his Postilion answers, “Yes, Monsieur, the wheelers are weak; but my mirabeau (main horse), you see, is a right one mais mon mirabeau est excellent.”[210]

And now, Reader, thou shalt quit this noisy Discrepancy of a National Assembly; not (if thou be of humane mind) without pity. Twelve hundred brother men are there, in the centre of Twenty-five Millions; fighting so fiercely with Fate and with one another; struggling their lives out, as most sons of Adam do, for that which profiteth not. Nay, on the whole, it is admitted further to be very dull. “Dull as this day’s Assembly,” said some one. “Why date, Pourquoi dater?” answered Mirabeau.

Consider that they are Twelve Hundred; that they not only speak, but read their speeches; and even borrow and steal speeches to read! With Twelve Hundred fluent speakers, and their Noah’s Deluge of vociferous commonplace, silence unattainable may well seem the one blessing of Life. But figure Twelve Hundred pamphleteers; droning forth perpetual pamphlets: and no man to gag them! Neither, as in the American Congress, do the arrangements seem perfect. A Senator has not his own Desk and Newspaper here; of Tobacco (much less of Pipes) there is not the slightest provision. Conversation itself must be transacted in a low tone, with continual interruption: only “pencil Notes” circulate freely; “in incredible numbers, to the foot of the very tribune.”[211]—Such work is it, regenerating a Nation; perfecting one’s Theory of Irregular Verbs!

Chapter III: The General Overturn

Of the King’s Court, for the present, there is almost nothing whatever to be said. Silent, deserted are these halls; Royalty languishes forsaken of its war-god and all its hopes, till once the Œil-de-Bœuf rally again. The sceptre is departed from King Louis; is gone over to the Salle des Menus, to the Paris Townhall, or one knows not whither. In the July days, while all ears were yet deafened by the crash of the Bastille, and Ministers and Princes were scattered to the four winds, it seemed as if the very Valets had grown heavy of hearing. Besenval, also in flight towards Infinite Space, but hovering a little at Versailles, was addressing his Majesty personally for an Order about post-horses; when, lo, “the Valet in waiting places himself familiarly between his Majesty and me,” stretching out his rascal neck to learn what it was! His Majesty, in sudden choler, whirled round; made a clutch at the tongs: “I gently prevented him; he grasped my hand in thankfulness; and I noticed tears in his eyes.”[212]

Poor King; for French Kings also are men! Louis Fourteenth himself once clutched the tongs, and even smote with them; but then it was at Louvois, and Dame Maintenon ran up.—The Queen sits weeping in her inner apartments, surrounded by weak women: she is “at the height of unpopularity”; universally regarded as the evil genius of France. Her friends and familiar counsellors have all fled; and fled, surely, on the foolishest errand. The Château Polignac still frowns aloft, on its “bold and enormous cubical rock,” amid the blooming champaigns, amid the blue girdling mountains of Auvergne:[213]but no Duke and Duchess Polignac look forth from it; they have fled, they have “met Necker at Bâle”; they shall not return. That France should see her Nobles resist the Irresistible, Inevitable, with the face of angry men, was unhappy, not unexpected; but with the face and sense of pettish children? This was her peculiarity. They understood nothing; would understand nothing. Does not, at this hour, a new Polignac, firstborn of these Two, sit reflective in the Castle of Ham;[214]in an astonishment he will never recover from; the most confused of existing mortals?

King Louis has his new Ministry: mere Popularities; Old-President Pompignan; Necker, coming back in triumph; and other such.[215] But what will it avail him? As was said, the sceptre, all but the wooden gilt sceptre, has departed elsewhither. Volition, determination is not in this man: only innocence, indolence; dependence on all persons but himself, on all circumstances but the circumstances he were lord of. So troublous internally is our Versailles and its work. Beautiful, if seen from afar, resplendent like a Sun; seen near at hand, a mere Sun’s-Atmosphere, hiding darkness, confused ferment of ruin!

But over France, there goes on the indisputablest “destruction of formulas”; transaction of realities that follow therefrom. So many millions of persons, all gyved, and nigh strangled, with formulas; whose Life nevertheless, at least the digestion and hunger of it, was real enough! Heaven has at length sent an abundant harvest: but what profits it the poor man, when Earth with her formulas interposes? Industry, in these times of insurrection, must needs lie dormant; capital, as usual, not circulating, but stagnating timorously in nooks. The poor man is short of work, is therefore short of money; nay even had he money, bread is not to be bought for it. Were it plotting of Aristocrats, plotting of D’Orléans; were it Brigands, preternatural terror, and the clang of Phoebus Apollo’s silver bow,—enough, the markets are scarce of grain, plentiful only in tumult. Farmers seem lazy to thresh;—being either “bribed”; or needing no bribe, with prices ever rising, with perhaps rent itself no longer so pressing. Neither, what is singular, do municipal enactments, “That along with so many measures of wheat you shall sell so many of rye,” and other the like, much mend the matter. Dragoons with drawn swords stand ranked among the corn-sacks, often more dragoons than sacks.[216]Meal-mobs abound; growing into mobs of a still darker quality.

Starvation has been known among the French Commonalty before this; known and familiar. Did we not see them, in the year 1775, presenting, in sallow faces, in wretchedness and raggedness, their Petition of Grievances; and, for answer, getting a brand-new Gallows forty feet high? Hunger and Darkness, through long years! For look back on that earlier Paris Riot, when a Great Personage, worn out by debauchery, was believed to be in want of Blood-baths; and Mothers, in worn raiment, yet with living hearts under it, “filled the public places” with their wild Rachel-cries,—stilled also by the Gallows. Twenty years ago, the Friend of Men (preaching to the deaf) described the Limousin Peasants as wearing a pain-stricken (sou fre-douleur ) look, a look past complaint, “as if the oppression of the great were like the hail and the thunder, a thing irremediable, the ordinance of Nature.”[217] And now if in some great hour, the shock of a falling Bastille should awaken you; and it were found to be the ordinance of Art merely; and remediable, reversible!

Or has the Reader forgotten that “flood of savages,” which, in sight of the same Friend of Men, descended from the mountains at Mont d’Or? Lank-haired haggard faces; shapes rawboned, in high sabots; in woollen jupes, with leather girdles studded with copper-nails! They rocked from foot to foot, and beat time with their elbows too, as the quarrel and battle, which was not long in beginning, went on; shouting fiercely; the lank faces distorted into the similitude of a cruel laugh. For they were darkened and hardened: long had they been the prey of excise-men and tax-men; of “clerks with the cold spurt of their pen.” It was the fixed prophecy of our old Marquis, which no man would listen to, that “such Government by Blindman’s-buff, stumbling along too far, would end by the General Overturn, the Culbute Générale!”

No man would listen, each went his thoughtless way;—and Time and Destiny also travelled on. The Government by Blindman’s-buff, stumbling along, has reached the precipice inevitable for it. Dull Drudgery, driven on, by clerks with the cold dastard spurt of their pen, has been driven—into a Communion of Drudges! For now, moreover, there have come the strangest confused tidings; by Paris Journals with their paper wings; or still more portentous, where no Journals are,[218] by rumour and conjecture: Oppression not inevitable; a Bastille prostrate, and the Constitution fast getting ready! Which Constitution, if it be something and not nothing, what can it be but bread to eat?

The Traveller, “walking up hill bridle in hand,” overtakes “a poor woman”; the image, as such commonly are, of drudgery and scarcity; “looking sixty years of age, though she is not yet twenty-eight.” They have seven children, her poor drudge and she: a farm, with one cow, which helps to make the children soup; also one little horse, or garron. They have rents and quit-rents, Hens to pay to this Seigneur, Oat-sacks to that; King’s taxes, Statute-labour, Church-taxes, taxes enough;— and think the times inexpressible. She has heard that somewhere, in some manner, something is to be done for the poor: “God send it soon; for the dues and taxes crush us down (nous écrasent)!”[219]

Fair prophecies are spoken, but they are not fulfilled. There have been Notables, Assemblages, turnings out and comings in. Intriguing and manœuvering; Parlementary eloquence and arguing, Greek meeting Greek in high places, has long gone on; yet still bread comes not. The harvest is reaped and garnered; yet still we have no bread. Urged by despair and by hope, what can Drudgery do, but rise, as predicted, and produce the General Overturn?

Fancy, then, some Five full-grown Millions of such gaunt figures, with their haggard faces ( figures hâves); in woollen jupes, with copper-studded leather girths, and high sabots,—starting up to ask, as in forest-roarings, their washed Upper-Classes, after long unreviewed centuries, virtually this question: How have ye treated us; how have ye taught us, fed us, and led us, while we toiled for you? The answer can be read in flames, over the nightly summer-sky. This is the feeding and leading we have had of you: EMPTINESS,—of pocket, of stomach, of head and of heart. Behold there is nothing in us; nothing but what Nature gives her wild children of the desert: Ferocity and Appetite; Strength grounded on Hunger. Did ye mark among your Rights of Man, that man was not to die of starvation, while there was bread reaped by him? It is among the Mights of Man.

Seventy-two Châteaus have flamed aloft in the Mâconnais and Beaujolais alone: this seems the centre of the conflagration; but it has spread over Dauphiné, Alsace, the Lyonnais; the whole South-East is in a blaze. All over the North, from Rouen to Metz, disorder is abroad: smugglers of salt go openly in armed bands: the barriers of towns are burnt; toll-gatherers, tax-gatherers, official persons put to flight. “It was thought,” says Young, “the people, from hunger, would revolt”; and we see they have done it. Desperate Lackalls, long prowling aimless, now finding hope in desperation itself, everywhere form a nucleus. They ring the Church-bell by way of tocsin: and the Parish turns out to the work.[220] Ferocity, atrocity; hunger and revenge: such work as we can imagine!

Ill stands it now with the Seigneur, who, for example, “has walled up the only Fountain of the Township”; who has ridden high on his chartier and parchments; who has preserved Game not wisely but too well. Churches also, and Canonries, are sacked, without mercy; which have shorn the flock too close, forgetting to feed it. Woe to the land over which Sansculottism, in its day of vengeance, tramps roughshod,—shod in sabots! Highbred Seigneurs, with their delicate women and little ones, had to “fly half-naked,” under cloud of night: glad to escape the flames, and even worse. You meet them at the tables-d’hôte of inns; making wise reflections or foolish, that “rank is destroyed”; uncertain whither they shall now wend.[221] The métayer will find it convenient to be slack in paying rent. As for the Tax-gatherer, he, long hunting as a biped of prey, may now find himself hunted as one; his Majesty’s Exchequer will not “fill up the Deficit,” this season: it is the notion of many that a Patriot Majesty, being the Restorer of French Liberty, has abolished most taxes, though, for their private ends, some men make a secret of it.

Where will this end? In the Abyss, one may prophesy; whither all Delusions are, at all moments, travelling; where this Delusion has now arrived. For if there be a Faith, from of old, it is this, as we often repeat, that no Lie can live for ever. The very Truth has to change its vesture, from time to time; and be born again. But all Lies have sentence of death written down against them, in Heaven’s Chancery itself; and, slowly or fast, advance incessantly towards their hour. “The sign of a Grand Seigneur being landlord,” says the vehement plain-spoken Arthur Young, “are wastes, landes, deserts, ling: go to his residence, you will find it in the middle of a forest, peopled with deer, wild boars and wolves. The fields are scenes of pitiable management, as the houses are of misery. To see so many millions of hands, that would be industrious, all idle and starving: Oh, if I were legislator of France for one day, I would make these great lords skip again!”[222] O Arthur, thou now actually beholdest them skip;—wilt thou grow to grumble at that too?

For long years and generations it lasted; but the time came. Feather-brain, whom no reasoning and no pleading could touch, the glare of the firebrand had to illuminate: there remained but that method. Consider it, look at it! The widow is gathering nettles for her children’s dinner; a perfumed Seigneur, delicately lounging in the Œil-de-Bœuf, has an alchemy whereby he will extract from her the third nettle, and name it Rent and Law: such an arrangement must end. Ought it not? But, O most fearful is such an ending! Let those, to whom God, in his great mercy, has granted time and space, prepare another and milder one.

To some it is a matter of wonder that the Seigneurs did not do something to help themselves; say, combine and arm: for there were a “hundred and fifty thousand of them,” all valiant enough. Unhappily, a hundred and fifty thousand, scattered over wide Provinces, divided by mutual ill-will, cannot combine. The highest Seigneurs, as we have seen, had already emigrated,—with a view of putting France to the blush. Neither are arms now the peculiar property of Seigneurs; but of every mortal who has ten shillings, wherewith to buy a secondhand firelock.

Besides, those starving Peasants, after all, have not four feet and claws, that you could keep them down permanently in that manner. They are not even of black colour: they are mere Unwashed Seigneurs; and a Seigneur too has human bowels!—The Seigneurs did what they could; enrolled in National Guards; fled, with shrieks, complaining to Heaven and Earth. One Seigneur, famed Memmay of Quincey, near Vesoul, invited all the rustics of his neighbourhood to a banquet; blew up his Château and them with gunpowder; and instantaneously vanished, no man yet knows whither.[223]Some half-dozen years after, he came back; and demonstrated that it was by accident.

Nor are the Authorities idle; though unluckily, all Authorities, Municipalities and such like, are in the uncertain transitionary state; getting regenerated from old Monarchic to new Democratic; no Official yet knows clearly what he is. Nevertheless, Mayors old or new do gather Marechaussées, National Guards, Troops of the line; justice, of the most summary sort, is not wanting. The Electoral Committee of Mâcon, though but a Committee, goes the length of hanging, for its own behoof, as many as twenty. The Prévôt of Dauphiné traverses the country “with a movable column,” with tipstaves, gallows-ropes; for gallows any tree will serve, and suspend its culprit, or “thirteen” culprits.

Unhappy country! How is the fair gold-and-green of the ripe bright Year defaced with horrid blackness; black ashes of Châteaus, black bodies of gibbeted Men! Industry has ceased in it; not sounds of the hammer and saw, but of the tocsin and alarm-drum. The sceptre has departed, whither one knows not;—breaking itself in pieces: here impotent, there tyrannous. National Guards are unskilful, and of doubtful purpose; Soldiers are inclined to mutiny: there is danger that they too may quarrel, danger that they may agree. Strasburg has seen riots: a Townhall torn to shreds, its archives scattered white on the winds; drunk soldiers embracing drunk citizens for three days, and Mayor Dietrich and Marshal Rochambeau reduced nigh to desperation.[224]

Through the middle of all which phenomena is seen, on his triumphant transit, “escorted,” through Béfort for instance, “by fifty National Horsemen an all the military music of the place,”—M. Necker, returning from Bâle! Glorious as the meridian; though poor Necker himself partly guesses whither it is leading.[225] One highest culminating day, at the Paris Townhall; with immortal vivats, with wife and daughter kneeling publicly to kiss his hand; with Besenval’s pardon granted,— but indeed revoked before sunset: one highest day, but then lower days, and even lower, down even to lowest! Such magic is in a name; and in the want of name. Like some enchanted Mambrino’s Helmet, essential to victory, comes this “Savior of France”; beshouted, becymballed by the world: alas, so soon to be disenchanted, to be pitched shamefully over the lists as a Barber’s Bason! Gibbon “could wish to show him” (in this ejected, Barber’s-Bason state) to any man of solidity, who were minded to have the soul burnt out of him, and become a caput mortuum, by Ambition, unsuccessful or successful.[226]

Another small phasis we add, and no more: how, in the Autumn months, our sharp-tempered Arthur has been “pestered for some days past,” by shot, lead-drops and slugs, “rattling five or six times into my chaise and about my ears”; all the mob of the country gone out to kill Game![227] It is even so. On the Cliffs of Dover, over all the Marches of France, there appear, this autumn, two signs on the Earth: emigrant flights of French Seigneurs; emigrant winged flights of French Game! Finished, one may say, or as good as finished, is the Preservation of Game on this Earth; completed for endless Time. What part it had to play in the History of Civilization is played: plaudite; exeat!

In this manner does Sansculottism blaze up, illustrating many things;—producing, among the rest, as we saw, on the Fourth of August, that semi-miraculous Night of Pentecost in the National Assembly; semi-miraculous, which had its causes, and its effects. Feudalism is struck dead; not on parchment only, and by ink; but in very fact, by fire; say, by self-combustion. This conflagration of the South-East will abate; will be got scattered, to the West, or elsewhither: extinguish it will not, till the fuel be all done.

Chapter IV: In Queue

If we look now at Paris, one thing is too evident: that the Bakers’ shops have got their Queues, or Tails; their long strings of purchasers, arranged in tail, so that the first come be the first served,—were the shop once open! This waiting in tail, not seen since the early days of July, again makes its appearance in August. In time, we shall see it perfected by practice to the rank almost of an art; and the art, or quasi-art, of standing in tail become one of the characteristics of the Parisian People, distinguishing them from all other Peoples whatsoever.

But consider, while work itself is so scarce, how a man must not only realize money, but stand waiting (if his wife is too weak to wait and struggle) for half-days in the Tail, till he get it changed for dear bad bread! Controversies, to the length sometimes of blood and battery, must arise in these exasperated Queues. Or if no controversy, then it is but one accordant Pange Lingua of complaint against the Powers that be. France has begun her long Curriculum of Hungering, instructive and productive beyond Academic Curriculums; which extends over some seven most strenuous years. As Jean Paul says of his own Life, “to a great height shall the business of Hungering go.”

Or consider, in strange contrast, the jubilee Ceremonies; for, in general, the aspect of Paris presents these two features: jubilee ceremonials and scarcity of victual. Processions enough walk in jubilee; of Young Women, decked and dizened, their ribands all tricolor; moving with song and tabor, to the Shrine of Sainte Genéviève, to thank her that the Bastille is down. The Strong Men of the Market, and the Strong Women, fail not with their bouquets and speeches. Abbé Fauchet, famed in such work (for Abbé Lefevre could only distribute powder) blesses tricolor cloth for the National Guard; and makes it a national Tricolor Flag; victorious, or to be victorious, in the cause of civil and religious liberty all over the world. Fauchet, we say, is the man for Te-Deums, and public Consecrations;—to which, as in this instance of the Flag, our National Guard will “reply with volleys of musketry,” Church and Cathedral though it be;[228] filling Notre Dame with such noisiest fuliginous Amen, significant of several things.

On the whole, we will say our new Mayor Bailly, our new Commander Lafayette named also “Scipio-Americanus,” have bought their preferment dear. Bailly rides in gilt state-coach, with beef-eaters and sumptuosity; Camille Desmoulins, and others, sniffing at him for it: Scipio bestrides the “white charger,” and waves with civic plumes in sight of all France. Neither of them, however, does it for nothing; but, in truth, at an exorbitant rate. At this rate, namely: of feeding Paris, and keeping it from fighting. Out of the City-funds, some seventeen thousand of the utterly destitute are employed digging on Montmartre, at ten pence a day, which buys them, at market price, almost two pounds of bad bread:—they look very yellow, when Lafayette goes to harangue them. The Townhall is in travail, night and day; it must bring forth Bread, a Municipal Constitution, regulations of all kinds, curbs on the Sansculottic Press; above all, Bread, Bread.

Purveyors prowl the country far and wide, with the appetite of lions; detect hidden grain, purchase open grain; by gentle means or forcible, must and will find grain. A most thankless task; and so difficult, so dangerous,—even if a man did gain some trifle by it! On the 19th of August, there is food for one day.[229]Complaints there are that the food is spoiled, and produces an effect on the intestines: not corn but plaster-of-Paris! Which effect on the intestines, as well as that “smarting in the throat and palate,” a Townhall Proclamation warns you to disregard, or even to consider as drastic-beneficial. The Mayor of Saint-Denis, so black was his bread, has, by a dyspeptic populace, been hanged on the Lanterne there. National Guards protect the Paris Corn-Market: first ten suffice; then six hundred.[230] Busy are ye, Bailly, Brissot de Warville, Condorcet, and ye others!

For, as just hinted, there is a Municipal Constitution to be made too. The old Bastille Electors, after some ten days of psalmodying over their glorious victory, began to hear it asked, in a splenetic tone, Who put you there? They accordingly had to give place, not without moanings, and audible growlings on both sides, to a new larger Body, specially elected for that post. Which new Body, augmented, altered, then fixed finally at the number of Three Hundred, with the title of Town Representatives ( Représentans de la Commune), now sits there; rightly portioned into Committees; assiduous making a Constitution; at all moments when not seeking flour.

And such a Constitution; little short of miraculous: one that shall “consolidate the Revolution!” The Revolution is finished then? Mayor Bailly and all respectable friends of Freedom would fain think so. Your Revolution, like jelly sufficiently boiled, needs only to be poured into shapes, of Constitution, and “consolidated” therein? Could it, indeed, contrive to cool; which last, however, is precisely the doubtful thing, or even the not doubtful!

Unhappy Friends of Freedom: consolidating a Revolution! They must sit at work there, their pavilion spread on very Chaos; between two hostile worlds, the Upper Court-world, the nether Sansculottic one; and, beaten on by both, toil painfully, perilously,—doing, in sad literal earnest, “the impossible.”

Chapter V: The Fourth Estate

Pamphleteering opens its abysmal throat wider and wider; never to close more. Our Philosophes, indeed, rather withdraw; after the manner of Marmontel, “retiring in disgust the first day.” Abbé Raynal, grown grey and quiet in his Marseilles domicile, is little content with this work: the last literary act of the man will again be an act of rebellion; an indignant Letter to the Constituent Assembly; answered by “the order of the day.” Thus also Philosophe Morellet puckers discontented brows; being indeed threatened in his benefices by that Fourth of August: it is clearly going too far. How astonishing that those “haggard figures in woollen jupes” would not rest as satisfied with Speculation, and victorious Analysis, as we!

Alas, yes: Speculation, Philosophism, once the ornament and wealth of the saloon, will now coin itself into mere Practical Propositions, and circulate on street and highway, universally; with results! A Fourth Estate, of Able Editors, springs up; increases and multiplies; irrepressible, incalculable. New Printers, new Journals, and ever new (so prurient is the world), let our Three Hundred curb and consolidate as they can! Loustalot, under the wing of Prudhomme dull-blustering Printer, edits weekly his Révolutions de Paris; in an acrid, emphatic manner. Acrid, corrosive, as the spirit of sloes and copperas, is Marat, Friend of the People; struck already with the fact that the National Assembly, so full of Aristocrats, “can do nothing,” except dissolve itself, and make way for a better; that the Townhall Representatives are little other than babblers and imbeciles, if not even knaves. Poor is this man; squalid, and dwells in garrets; a man unlovely to the sense, outward and inward; a man forbid;—and is becoming fanatical, possessed with fixed-idea. Cruel lusus of Nature! Did Nature, O poor Marat, as in cruel sport, knead thee out of her leavings, and miscellaneous waste clay; and fling thee forth, stepdame-like, a Distraction into this distracted Eighteenth Century? Work is appointed thee there; which thou shalt do. The Three Hundred have summoned and will again summon Marat: but always he croaks forth answer sufficient; always he will defy them, or elude them; and endure no gag.

Carra, “Ex-secretary of a decapitated Hospodar,” and then of a Necklace-Cardinal; likewise Pamphleteer, Adventurer in many scenes and lands,—draws nigh to Mercier, of the Tableau de Paris; and, with foam on his lips, proposes an Annales Patriotiques. The Moniteur goes its prosperous way; Barrère “weeps,” on Paper as yet loyal; Rivarol, Royou are not idle. Deep calls to deep: your Domine Salvum Fac Regem shall awaken Pange Lingua; with an Ami-du-Peuple there is a King’s-Friend Newspaper, Ami-du-Roi. Camille Desmoulins has appointed himself Procureur-Général de la Lanterne, Attorney-General of the Lamp-iron; and pleads, not with atrocity, under an atrocious title; editing weekly his brilliant Revolutions of Paris and Brabant. Brilliant, we say; for if, in that thick murk of Journalism, with its dull blustering, with its fixed or loose fury, any ray of genius greet thee, be sure it is Camille’s. The thing that Camille touches, he with his light finger adorns: brightness plays, gentle, unexpected, amid horrible confusions; often is the word of Camille worth reading, when no other’s is. Questionable Camille, how thou glitterest with a fallen, rebellious, yet still semi-celestial light; as is the starlight on the brow of Lucifer! Son of the Morning, into what times and what lands art thou fallen!

But in all things there is good;—though it be not good for “consolidating Revolutions.” Thousand wagon-loads of this Pamphleteering and Newspaper matter lie rotting slowly in the Public Libraries of our Europe. Snatched from the great gulf, like oysters by bibliomaniac pearl-divers, there must they first rot, then what was pearl, in Camille or others, may be seen as such, and continue as such.

Nor has public speaking declined, though Lafayette and his Patrols look sour on it. Loud always is the Palais Royal, loudest the Café de Foy; such a miscellany of Citizens and Citizenesses circulating there. “Now and then,” according to Camille, “some Citizens employ the liberty of the press for a private purpose; so that this or the other Patriot finds himself short of his watch or pocket-handkerchief !” But for the rest, in Camille’s opinion, nothing can be a livelier image of the Roman Forum. “A Patriot proposes his motion; if it finds any supporters, they make him mount on a chair, and speak. If he is applauded, he prospers and redacts; if he is hissed, he goes his ways.” Thus they, circulating and perorating. Tall shaggy Marquis Saint-Huruge, a man that has had losses, and has deserved them, is seen eminent, and also heard. “Bellowing” is the character of his voice, like that of a Bull of Bashan; voice which drowns all voices, which causes frequently the hearts of men to leap. Cracked or half-cracked is this tall Marquis’s head; uncracked are his lungs; the cracked and the uncracked shall alike avail him.

Consider further that each of the Forty-eight Districts has its own Committee; speaking and motioning continually, aiding in the search for grain, in the search for a Constitution; checking and spurring the poor Three Hundred of the Townhall. That Danton, with a “voice reverberating from the domes,” is President of the Cordeliers District; which has already become a Goshen of Patriotism. That apart from the “seventeen thousand utterly necessitous, digging on Montmartre,” most of whom, indeed, have got passes, and been dismissed into Space “with four shillings,”—there is a strike, or union, of Domestics out of place; who assemble for public speaking: next, a strike of Tailors, for even they will strike and speak; further, a strike of Journeymen Cordwainers; a strike of Apothecaries: so dear is bread.[231] All these, having struck, must speak; generally under the open canopy; and pass resolutions;—Lafayette and his Patrols watching them suspiciously from the distance.

Unhappy mortals: such tugging and lugging, and throttling of one another, to divide, in some not intolerable way, the joint Felicity of man in this Earth; when the whole lot to be divided is such a “feast of shells!”—Diligent are the Three Hundred; none equal Scipio-Americanus in dealing with mobs. But surely all these things bode ill for the consolidating of a Revolution.

Book VII: The Insurrection of Women

Chapter I: Patrollotism

No, Friends, this Revolution is not of the consolidating kind. Do not fires, fevers, sown seeds, chemical mixtures, men, events; all embodiments of Force that work in this miraculous Complex of Forces, named Universe—go on growing, through their natural phases and developments, each according to its kind; reach their height, reach their visible decline; finally sink under, vanishing, and what we call die? They all grow; there is nothing but what grows, and shoots forth into its special expansion,—once give it leave to spring. Observe too that each grows with a rapidity proportioned, in general, to the madness and unhealthiness there is in it: slow regular growth, though this also ends in death, is what we name health and sanity.

A Sansculottism, which has prostrated Bastilles, which has got pike and musket, and now goes burning Châteaus, passing resolutions and haranguing under roof and sky, may be said to have sprung; and, by law of Nature, must grow. To judge by the madness and diseasedness both, of itself and of the soil and element it is in, one might expect the rapidity and monstrosity would be extreme.

Many things too, especially all diseased things, grow by shoots and fits. The first grand fit and shooting forth of Sansculottism was that of Paris conquering its King; for Bailly’s figure of rhetoric was all-too-sad a reality. The King is conquered; going at large on his parole; on condition, say, of absolutely good behaviour,—which, in these circumstances, will unhappily mean no behaviour whatever. A quite untenable position, that of Majesty put on its good behaviour! Alas, is it not natural that whatever lives try to keep itself living? Whereupon his Majesty’s behaviour will soon become exceptionable; and so the Second grand Fit of Sansculottism, that of putting him in durance, cannot be distant.

Necker, in the National Assembly, is making moan, as usual, about his Deficit: Barriers and Customhouses burnt; the Taxgatherer hunted, not hunting; his Majesty’s Exchequer all but empty. The remedy is a Loan of thirty millions; then, on still more enticing terms, a Loan of eighty millions: neither of which Loans, unhappily, will the Stock-jobbers venture to lend. The Stockjobber has no country, except his own black pool of Agio.

And yet, in those days, for men that have a country, what a glow of patriotism burns in many a heart; penetrating inwards to the very purse! So early as the 7th of August, a Don Patriotique, “Patriotic Gift of jewels to a considerable extent,” has been solemnly made by certain Parisian women; and solemnly accepted with honourable mention. Whom forthwith all the world takes to imitating and emulating. Patriotic Gifts, always with some heroic eloquence, which the President must answer and the Assembly listen to, flow in from far and near: in such number that the honourable mention can only be performed in “lists published at stated epochs.” Each gives what he can; the very cordwainers have behaved munificently; one landed proprietor gives a forest; fashionable society gives its shoe-buckles, takes cheerfully to shoe-ties. Unfortunate-females give what they “have amassed in loving.”[232] The smell of all cash, as Vespasian thought, is good.

Beautiful, and yet inadequate! The Clergy must be “invited” to melt their superfluous Church-plate,—in the Royal Mint. Nay finally, a Patriotic Contribution, of the forcible sort, has to be determined on, though unwillingly: let the fourth part of your declared yearly revenue, for this once only, be paid down; so shall a National Assembly make the Constitution, undistracted at least by insolvency. Their own wages, as settled on the 17th of August, are but Eighteen Francs a day, each man; but the Public Service must have sinews, must have money. To appease the Deficit; not to “combler, or choke, the Deficit,” if you or mortal could! For withal, as Mirabeau was heard saying, “it is the Deficit that saves us.”

Towards the end of August, our National Assembly in its constitutional labours has got so far as the question of Veto: shall Majesty have a Veto on the National Enactments; or not have a Veto? What speeches were spoken, within doors and without; clear, and also passionate logic; imprecations, comminations; gone happily, for most part, to Limbo! Through the cracked brain and uncracked lungs of Saint-Huruge, the Palais Royal rebellows with Veto. Journalism is busy, France rings with Veto. “I shall never forget,” says Dumont, “my going to Paris, one of those days, with Mirabeau; and the crowd of people we found waiting for his carriage, about Le Jay the Bookseller’s shop. They flung themselves before him; conjuring him with tears in their eyes not to suffer the Veto Absolu. They were in a frenzy: ‘Monsieur le Comte, you are the People’s father, you must save us; you must defend us against those villains who are bringing back Despotism. If the King get this Veto, what is the use of National Assembly? We are slaves; all is done.’ ”[233] Friends if the sky fall, there will be catching of larks! Mirabeau, adds Dumont, was eminent on such occasions: he answered vaguely, with a Patrician imperturbability, and bound himself to nothing.

Deputations go to the Hôtel-de-Ville; anonymous Letters to Aristocrats in the National Assembly, threatening that fifteen thousand, or sometimes that sixty thousand, “will march to illuminate you.” The Paris Districts are astir; Petitions signing: Saint-Huruge sets forth from the Palais Royal with an escort of fifteen hundred individuals, to petition in person. Resolute, or seemingly so, is the tall shaggy Marquis, is the Café de Foy: but resolute also is Commandant-General Lafayette. The streets are all beset by Patrols: Saint-Huruge is stopped at the Barrière des Bons Hommes; he may bellow like the bulls of Bashan, but absolutely must return. The brethren of the Palais Royal “circulate all night,” and make motions, under the open canopy; all Coffeehouses being shut. Nevertheless Lafayette and the Townhall do prevail; Saint-Huruge is thrown into prison; Veto Absolu adjusts itself into Suspensive Veto, prohibition not for ever, but for a term of time; and this doom’sclamour will grow silent, as the others have done.

So far has Consolidation prospered, though with difficulty; repressing the Nether Sansculottic world; and the Constitution shall be made. With difficulty: amid jubilee and scarcity; Patriotic Gifts, Bakers’-queues; Abbé-Fauchet Harangues, with their Amen of platoon-musketry! Scipio-Americanus has deserved thanks from the National Assembly and France. They offer him stipends and emoluments to a handsome extent; all which stipends and emoluments he, covetous of far other blessedness than mere money, does, in his chivalrous way, without scruple, refuse.

To the Parisian common man, meanwhile, one thing remains inconceivable: that now when the Bastille is down, and French Liberty restored, grain should continue so dear. Our Rights of Man are voted, Feudalism and all Tyranny abolished; yet behold we stand in queue! Is it Aristocrat forestallers; a Court still bent on intrigues? Something is rotten, somewhere.

And yet, alas, what to do? Lafayette, with his Patrols, prohibits everything, even complaint. Saint-Huruge and other heroes of the Veto lie in durance. People’s-Friend Marat was seized; Printers of Patriotic Journals are fettered and forbidden; the very Hawkers cannot cry, till they get licence, and leaden badges; Blue National Guards ruthlessly dissipate all groups; scour, with levelled bayonets, the Palais Royal itself. Pass, on your affairs, along the Rue Taranne, the Patrol, presenting his bayonet, cries, To the left! Turn into the Rue Saint-Bénoit, he cries, To the right! A judicious Patriot (like Camille Desmoulins, in this instance) is driven, for quietness’ sake, to take the gutter.

O much-suffering people, our glorious Revolution is evaporating in tricolor ceremonies, and complimentary harangues! Of which latter, as Loustalot acridly calculates, “upwards of two thousand have been delivered within the last month, at the Townhall alone.”[234] And our mouths, unfilled with bread, are to shut, under penalties? The Caricaturist promulgates his emblematic Tablature: Le Patrouillotisme chassant le Patriotisme, Patriotism driven out by Patrollotism. Ruthless Patrols; long superfine harangue; and scanty ill-baked loaves, more like baked Bath bricks,—which produce an effect on the intestines! Where will this end? In consolidation?

Chapter II: O Richard, O My King

For, alas, neither is the Townhall itself without misgivings. The Nether Sansculottic world has been suppressed hitherto: but then the Upper Court-world! Symptoms there are that the Œil-de-Bœuf is rallying.

More than once in the Townhall Sanhedrim, often enough from those outspoken Bakers’-queues, has the wish uttered itself: O that our Restorer of French Liberty were here; that he could see with his own eyes, not with the false eyes of Queens and Cabals, and his really good heart be enlightened! For falsehood still environs him; intriguing Dukes de Guiche, with Bodyguards; scouts of Bouillé; a new flight of intriguers, now that the old is flown. What else means this advent of the Regiment de Flandre; entering Versailles, as we hear, on the 23rd of September, with two pieces of cannon? Did not the Versailles National Guard do duty at the Château? Had they not Swiss; Hundred Swiss; Gardes-du-Corps, Bodyguards so-called? Nay, it would seem, the number of Bodyguards on duty has, by a manœuvre, been doubled: the new relieving Battalion of them arrived at its time; but the old relieved one does not depart!

Actually, there runs a whisper through the best-informed Upper-Circles, or a nod still more portentous than whispering, of his Majesty’s flying to Metz; of a Bond (to stand by him therein), which has been signed by Noblesse and Clergy, to the incredible amount of thirty, or even of sixty thousand. Lafayette coldly whispers it, and coldly asseverates it, to Count d’Estaing at the Dinner-table; and D’Estaing, one of the bravest men, quakes to the core lest some lackey overhear it; and tumbles thoughtful, without sleep, all night.[235] Regiment de Flandre, as we said, is clearly arrived. His Majesty, they say, hesitates about sanctioning the Fourth of August; makes observations, of chilling tenor, on the very Rights of Man! Likewise, may not all persons, the Bakers’-queues themselves discern, on the streets of Paris, the most astonishing number of Officers on furlough, Crosses of St. Louis, and such like? Some reckon “from a thousand to twelve hundred.” Officers of all uniforms; nay one uniform never before seen by eye: green faced with red! The tricolor cockade is not always visible: but what, in the name of Heaven, may these black cockades, which some wear, foreshadow?

Hunger whets everything, especially Suspicion and Indignation. Realties themselves, in this Paris, have grown unreal; preternatural. Phantasms once more stalk through the brain of hungry France. O ye laggards and dastards, cry shrill voices from the Queues, if ye had the hearts of men, ye would take your pikes and secondhand firelocks, and look into it; not leave your wives and daughters to be starved, murdered and worse!—Peace, women! The heart of man is bitter and heavy; Patriotism, driven out by Patrollotism, knows not what to resolve on.

The truth is, the Œil-de-Bœuf has rallied; to a certain unknown extent. A changed Œil-de-Bœuf; with Versailles National Guards, in their tricolor cockades, doing duty there; a Court all flaring with tricolor! Yet even to a tricolor Court men will rally. Ye loyal hearts, burnt-out Seigneurs, rally round your Queen! With wishes; which will produce hopes; which will produce attempts!

For indeed self-preservation being such a law of Nature, what can a rallied Court do, but attempt and endeavour, or call it plot,— with such wisdom and unwisdom as it has? They will fly, escorted, to Metz, where brave Bouillé commands; they will raise the Royal Standard: the Bond-signatures shall become armed men. Were not the King so languid! Their Bond, if at all signed, must be signed without his privity.— Unhappy King, he has but one resolution: not to have a civil war. For the rest, he still hunts, having ceased lock-making; he still dozes, and digests; is clay in the hands of the potter. Ill will it fare with him, in a world where all is helping itself; where, as has been written, “whosoever is not hammer must be stithy”; and “the very hyssop on the wall grows there, in that chink, because the whole Universe could not prevent its growing!”

But as for the coming up of this Regiment de Flandre, may it not be urged that there were Saint-Huruge Petitions, and continual meal-mobs? Undebauched Soldiers, be there plot, or only dim elements of a plot, are always good. Did not the Versailles Municipality (an old Monarchic one, not yet refounded into a Democratic) instantly second the proposal? Nay the very Versailles National Guard, wearied with continual duty at the Château, did not object; only Draper Lecointre, who is now Major Lecointre, shook his head.—Yes, Friends, surely it was natural this Regiment de Flandre should be sent for, since it could be got. It was natural that, at sight of military bandoleers, the heart of the rallied Œil-de-Bœuf should revive; and Maids of Honour, and gentlemen of honour, speak comfortable words to epauletted defenders, and to one another. Natural also, and mere common civility, that the Bodyguards, a Regiment of Gentlemen, should invite their Flandre brethren to a Dinner of welcome!—Such invitation, in the last days of September, is given and accepted.

Dinners are defined as “the ultimate act of communion”; men that can have communion in nothing else, can sympathetically eat together, can still rise into some glow of brotherhood over food and wine. The Dinner is fixed on, for Thursday the First of October; and ought to have a fine effect. Further, as such Dinner may be rather extensive, and even the Noncommissioned and the Common man be introduced, to see and to hear, could not his Majesty’s Opera Apartment, which has lain quite silent ever since Kaiser Joseph was here, be obtained for the purpose?—The Hall of the Opera is granted; the Salon d’Hercule shall be drawing-room. Not only the Officers of Flandre, but of the Swiss, of the Hundred Swiss; nay of the Versailles National Guard, such of them as have any loyalty, shall feast: it will be a Repast like few.

And now suppose this Repast, the solid part of it, transacted; and the first bottle over. Suppose the customary loyal toasts drunk; the King’s health, the Queen’s with deafening vivats;—that of the Nation “omitted,” or even “rejected.” Suppose champagne flowing; with pot-valorous speech, with instrumental music; empty featherheads growing ever the noisier, in their own emptiness, in each other’s noise. Her Majesty, who looks unusually sad to-night (his Majesty sitting dulled with the day’s hunting), is told that the sight of it would cheer her. Behold! She enters there, issuing from her State-rooms, like the Moon from clouds, this fairest unhappy Queen of Hearts; royal Husband by her side, young Dauphin in her arms! She descends from the Boxes, amid splendour and acclaim; walks queenlike round the Tables; gracefully escorted, gracefully nodding; her looks full of sorrow, yet of gratitude and daring, with the hope of France on her mother-bosom! And now, the band striking up, O Richard, O mon Roi, l’univers t’abandonne (O Richard, O my King, the world is all forsaking thee)—could man do other than to rise to height of pity, of loyal valour? Could feather-headed young ensigns do other than, by white Bourbon Cockades, handed them from fair fingers; by waving of swords, drawn to pledge the Queen’s health; by trampling of National Cockades; by scaling the Boxes, whence intrusive murmurs may come; by vociferation, tripudiation, sound, fury and distraction, within doors and without,—testify what tempest-tost state of vacuity they are in? Till champagne and tripudiation do their work; and all lie silent, horizontal; passively slumbering with meed-of-battle dreams!—

A natural Repast; in ordinary times, a harmless one: now fatal, as that of Thyestes; as that of Job’s sons, when a strong wind smote the four corners of their banquet-house! Poor ill-advised Marie-Antoinette with a woman’s vehemence, not with a sovereign’s foresight! It was so natural, yet so unwise. Next day, in public speech of ceremony, her Majesty declares herself “delighted with the Thursday.”

The heart of the Œil-de-Bœuf glows into hope; into daring, which is premature. Rallied Maids of Honour, waited on by Abbés, sew “white cockades”; distribute them, with words, with glances, to epauletted youths; who, in return, may kiss, not without fervour, the fair sewing fingers. Captains of horse and foot go swashing with “enormous white cockades”; nay one Versailles National Captain has mounted the like, so witching were the words and glances, and laid aside his tricolor! Well may Major Lecointre shake his head with a look of severity; and speak audible resentful words. But now a swashbuckler, with enormous white cockade, overhearing the Major, invites him insolently, once and then again elsewhere, to recant; and failing that, to duel. Which latter feat Major Lecointre declares that he will not perform, not at least by any known laws of fence; that he nevertheless will, according to mere law of Nature, by dirk and blade, “exterminate” any “vile gladiator” who may insult him or the Nation;—whereupon (for the Major is actually drawing his implement) “they are parted,” and no weasands slit.[236]

Chapter III: Black Cockades

But fancy what effect this Thyestes Repast, and trampling on the National Cockade, must have had in the Salle des Menus; in the famishing Bakers’-queues at Paris! Nay, such Thyestes Repasts, it would seem, continue. Flandre has given its Counter-Dinner to the Swiss and Hundred Swiss; then on Saturday there has been another.

Yes, here with us is famine; but yonder at Versailles is food, enough and to spare! Patriotism stands in queue, shivering hungerstruck, insulted by Patrollotism; while bloodyminded Aristocrats, heated with excess of high living, trample on the National Cockade. Can the atrocity be true? Nay, look: green uniforms faced with red; black cockades,—the colour of Night! Are we to have military onfall; and death also by starvation? For behold the Corbeil Cornboat, which used to come twice-a-day, with its Plaster-of-Paris meal, now comes only once. And the Townhall is deaf; and the men are laggard and dastard!—At the Café de Foy, this Saturday evening, a new thing is seen, not the last of its kind: a woman engaged in public speaking. Her poor man, she says, was put to silence by his District; their Presidents and Officials would not let him speak. Wherefore she here with her shrill tongue will speak; denouncing, while her breath endures, the Corbeil Boat, the Plaster-of-Paris bread, sacrilegious Opera-dinners, green uniforms, Pirate Aristocrats, and those black cockades of theirs!—

Truly, it is time for the black cockades at least to vanish. Them Patrollotism itself will not protect. Nay, sharp-tempered “M. Tassin,” at the Tuileries parade on Sunday morning, forgets all National military rule; starts from the ranks, wrenches down one black cockade which is swashing ominous there, and tramples it fiercely into the soil of France. Patrollotism itself is not without suppressed fury. Also the Districts begin to stir; the voice of President Danton reverberates in the Cordeliers: People’s-Friend Marat has flown to Versailles and back again;—swart bird, not of the halcyon kind.[237]

And so Patriot meets promenading Patriot, this Sunday; and sees his own grim care reflected on the face of another. Groups, in spite of Patrollotism, which is not so alert as usual, fluctuate deliberative; groups on the Bridges, on the Quais, at the patriotic Cafés. And ever as any black cockade may emerge, rises the many-voiced growl and bark: A bas, Down! All black cockades are ruthlessly plucked off: one individual picks his up again; kisses it, attempts to refix it; but a “hundred canes start into the air,” and he desists. Still worse went it with another individual; doomed, by extempore Plebiscitum, to the Lanterne; saved, with difficulty, by some active Corps-de-Garde.—Lafayette sees signs of an effervescence; which he doubles his Patrols, doubles his diligence, to prevent. So passes Sunday, the 4th of October, 1789.

Sullen is the male heart, repressed by Patrollotism; vehement is the female, irrepressible. The public-speaking woman at the Palais Royal was not the only speaking one:—Men know not what the pantry is, when it grows empty; only house-mothers know. O women, wives of men that will only calculate and not act! Patrollotism is strong; but Death, by starvation and military onfall, is stronger. Patrollotism represses male Patriotism: but female Patriotism? Will Guards named National thrust their bayonets into the bosoms of women? Such thought, or rather such dim unshaped raw material of a thought, ferments universally under the female night-cap; and, by earliest daybreak, on slight hint, will explode.

Chapter IV: The Menads

If Voltaire once in splenetic humour, asked his countrymen: “But you, Gualches, what have you invented?” they can now answer: The Art of Insurrection. It was an art needed in these last singular times; an art for which the French nature, so full of vehemence, so free from depth, was perhaps of all others the fittest.

Accordingly, to what a height, one may well say of perfection, has this branch of human industry been carried by France, within the last half-century! Insurrection, which, Lafayette thought, might be “the most sacred of duties,” ranks now, for the French people, among the duties which they can perform. Other mobs are dull masses; which roll onwards with a dull fierce tenacity, a dull fierce heat, but emit no lightflashes of genius as they go. The French mob, again, is among the liveliest phenomena of our world. So rapid, audacious; so clear-sighted, inventive, prompt to seize the moment; instinct with life to its finger-ends! That talent, were there no other, of spontaneously standing in queue, distinguishes, as we said, the French People from all Peoples, ancient and modern.

Let the reader confess too that, taking one thing with another, perhaps few terrestrial Appearances are better worth considering than mobs. Your mob is a genuine outburst of Nature; issuing from, or communicating with, the deepest deep of Nature. When so much goes grinning and grimacing as a lifeless Formality, and under the stiff buckram no heart can be felt beating, here once more, if nowhere else, is a Sincerity and Reality. Shudder at it; or even shriek over it, if thou must; nevertheless consider it. Such a Complex of human Forces and Individualities hurled forth, in their transcendental mood, to act and react, on circumstances and on one another; to work out what it is in them to work. The thing they will do is known to no man; least of all to themselves. It is the inflammablest immeasurable Fire-work, generating, consuming itself. With what phases, to what extent, with what results it will burn off, Philosophy and Perspicacity conjecture in vain.

“Man,” as has been written, “is for ever interesting to man; nay properly there is nothing else interesting.” In which light also, may we not discern why most Battles have become so wearisome? Battles, in these ages, are transacted by mechanism; with the slightest possible development of human individuality or spontaneity: men now even die, and kill one another, in an artificial manner. Battles ever since Homer’s time, when they were Fighting Mobs, have mostly ceased to be worth looking at, worth reading of or remembering. How many wearisome bloody Battles does History strive to represent; or even, in a husky way, to sing:—and she would omit or carelessly slur-over this one Insurrection of Women?

A thought, or dim raw-material of a thought, was fermenting all night, universally in the female head, and might explode. In squalid garret, on Monday morning Maternity awakes, to hear children weeping for bread. Maternity must forth to the streets, to the herb-markets and Bakers’-queues; meets there with hunger-stricken Maternity, sympathetic, exasperative. O we unhappy women! But, instead of Bakers’queues, why not to Aristocrats’ palaces, the root of the matter? Allons! Let us assemble. To the Hôtel-de-Ville; to Versailles; to the Lanterne!

In one of the Guardhouses of the Quartier Saint-Eustache, “a young woman” seizes a drum,—for how shall National Guards give fire on women, on a young woman? The young woman seizes the drum; sets forth, beating it, “uttering cries relative to the dearth of grains.” Descend, O mothers; descend, ye Judiths, to food and revenge!—All women gather and go; crowds storm all stairs, force out all women: the female Insurrectionary Force, according to Camille, resembles the English Naval one; there is a universal “Press of women.” Robust Dames of the Halle, slim Mantua-makers, assiduous, risen with the dawn; ancient Virginity tripping to matins; the Housemaid, with early broom; all must go. Rouse ye, O women; the laggard men will not act; they say, we ourselves may act!

And so, like snowbreak from the mountains, for every staircase is a melted brook, it storms; tumultuous, wild-shrilling, towards the Hôtel-de-Ville. Tumultuous; with or without drum-music: for the Faubourg Saint-Antoine also has tucked up its gown; and with besom-staves, fire-irons, and even rusty pistols (void of ammunition), is flowing on. Sound of it flies, with a velocity of sound, to the utmost Barriers. By seven o’clock, on this raw October morning, fifth of the month, the Townhall will see wonders. Nay, as chance would have it, a male party are already there; clustering tumultuously round some National Patrol, and a Baker who has been seized with shot weights. They are there; and have even lowered the rope of the Lanterne. So that the official persons have to smuggle forth the short-weighing Baker by back doors, and even send “to all the Districts” for more force.

Grand it was, says Camille, to see so many Judiths, from eight to ten thousand of them in all, rushing out to search into the root of the matter! Not unfrightful it must have been; ludicro-terrific, and most unmanageable. At such hour the overwatched Three Hundred are not yet stirring: none but some Clerks, a company of National Guards; and M. de Gouvion, the Major-general. Gouvion has fought in America for the cause of civil Liberty; a man of no inconsiderable heart, but deficient in head. He is, for the moment, in his back apartment; assuaging Usher Maillard, the Bastille-sergeant, who has come, as too many do, with “representations.” The assuagement is still incomplete when our Judiths arrive.

The National Guards form on the outer stairs, with levelled bayonnets; the ten thousand Judiths press up, resistless; with obtestations, with outspread hands,—merely to speak to the Mayor. The rear forces them; nay, from male hands in the rear, stones already fly: the National Guard must do one of two things; sweep the Place de Grève with cannon, or else open to right and left. They open; the living deluge rushes in. Through all rooms and cabinets, upwards to the topmost belfry: ravenous; seeking arms, seeking Mayors, seeking justice;—while, again, the better-dressed speak kindly to the Clerks; point out the misery of these poor women; also their ailments, some even of an interesting sort.[238]

Poor M. de Gouvion is shiftless in this extremity;—a man shiftless, perturbed: who will one day commit suicide. How happy for him that Usher Maillard the shifty was there, at the moment, though making representations! Fly back, thou shifty Maillard: seek the Bastille Company; and O return fast with it; above all, with thy own shifty head! For, behold, the Judiths can find no Mayor or Municipal; scarcely, in the topmost belfry, can they find poor Abbé Lefevre the Powder-distributor. Him, for want of a better, they suspend there: in the pale morning light; over the top of all Paris, which swims in one’s failing eyes:—a horrible end? Nay, the rope broke, as French ropes often did; or else an Amazon cut it. Abbé Lefevre falls, some twenty feet, rattling among the leads; and lives long years after, though always with “a tremblement in the limbs.”[239]

And now doors fly under hatchets; the Judiths have broken the Armory; have seized guns and cannons, three money-bags, paper-heaps; torches flare: in few minutes, our brave Hôtel-de-Ville, which dates from the Fourth Henry, will, with all that it holds, be in flames!

Chapter V: Usher Maillard

In flames, truly,—were it not that Usher Maillard, swift of foot, shifty of head, has returned!

Maillard, of his own motion,—for Gouvion or the rest would not even sanction him,—snatches a drum; descends the Porch-stairs, rantan, beating sharp, with loud rolls, his Rogue’s-march: To Versailles! Allons; à Versailles! As men beat on kettle or warming-pan, when angry she-bees, or say, flying desperate wasps, are to be hived; and the desperate insects hear it, and cluster round it,—simply as round a guidance, where there was none: so now these Menads round shifty Maillard, Riding-Usher of the Châtelet. The axe pauses uplifted; Abbé Lefevre is left half-hanged: from the belfry downwards all vomits itself. What rub-a-dub is that? Stanislas Maillard, Bastille-hero, will lead us to Versailles? Joy to thee, Maillard; blessed art thou above Riding-Ushers! Away, then, away!

The seized cannon are yoked with seized cart-horses: brown-locked Demoiselle Théroigne, with pike and helmet, sits there as gunneress, “with haughty eye and serene fair countenance”; comparable, some think, to the Maid of Orléans, or even recalling “the idea of Pallas Athene.”[240]Maillard (for his drum still rolls) is, by heaven-rending acclamation, admitted General. Maillard hastens the languid march. Maillard, beating rhythmic, with sharp ran-tan, all along the Quais, leads forward, with difficulty, his Menadic host. Such a host—marched not in silence! The bargeman pauses on the River; all wagoners and coach-drivers fly; men peer from windows,—not women, lest they be pressed. Sight of sights: Bacchantes, in these ultimate Formalized Ages! Bronze Henri looks on, from his Pont-Neuf; the Monarchic Louvre, Medicean Tuileries see a day like none heretofore seen.

And now Maillard has his Menads in the Champs Elysées (Fields Tartarean rather); and the Hôtel-de-Ville has suffered comparatively nothing. Broken doors; an Abbé Lefevre, who shall never more distribute powder; three sacks of money, most part of which (for Sansculottism, though famishing, is not without honour) shall be returned:[241] this is all the damage. Great Maillard! A small nucleus of Order is round his drum, but his outskirts fluctuate like the mad Ocean: for Rascality male and female is flowing in on him, from the four winds: guidance there is none but in his single head and two drumsticks.

O Mallard, when, since War first was, had General of Force such a task before him, as thou this day? Walter the Penniless still touches the feeling heart: but then Walter had sanction; had space to turn in; and also his Crusaders were of the male sex. Thou, this day, disowned of Heaven and Earth, art General of Menads. Their inarticulate frenzy thou must, on the spur of the instant, render into articulate words, into actions that are not frantic. Fail in it, this way or that! Pragmatical Officiality, with its penalties and law-books, waits before thee: Menads storm behind. If such hewed off the melodious head of Orpheus, and hurled it into the Peneus waters, what may they not make of thee,— thee rhythmic merely, with no music but a sheepskin drum!—Maillard did not fail. Remarkable Maillard, if fame were not an accident, and History a distillation of Rumour, how remarkable wert thou!

On the Elysian Fields there is pause and fluctuation; but, for Maillard, no return. He persuades his Menads, clamorous for arms and the Arsenal, that no arms are in the Arsenal; that an unarmed attitude, and petition to a National Assembly, will be the best: he hastily nominates or sanctions generalesses, captains of tens and fifties;—and so, in loosest-flowing order, to the rhythm of some “eight drums” (having laid aside his own), with the Bastille Volunteers bringing up his rear, once more takes the road.

Chaillot, which will promptly yield baked loaves, is not plundered; nor are the Sèvres Potteries broken. The old arches of Sèvres Bridge echo under Menadic feet; Seine River gushes on with his perpetual murmur; and Paris flings after us the boom of tocsin and alarm-drum,—inaudible, for the present, amid shrill-sounding hosts, and the splash of rainy weather. To Meudon, to Saint-Cloud, on both hands, the report of them is gone abroad; and hearths, this evening, will have a topic. The press of women still continues, for it is the cause of all Eve’s Daughters, mothers that are, or that ought to be. No carriage-lady, were it with never such hysterics, but must dismount, in the mud roads, in her silk shoes, and walk.[242] In this manner, amid wild October weather, they, a wild unwinged stork-flight, through the astonished country wend their way. Travellers of all sorts they stop; especially travellers or couriers from Paris. Deputy Lechapelier, in his elegant vesture, from his elegant vehicle, looks forth amazed through his spectacles; apprehensive for life;—states eagerly that he is Patriot-Deputy Lechapelier, and even Old-President Lechapelier, who presided on the Night of Pentecost, and is original member of the Breton Club. Thereupon “rises huge shout of Vive Lechapelier, and several armed persons spring up behind and before to escort him.”[243]

Nevertheless, news, dispatches from Lafayette, or vague noise of rumour, have pierced through, by side roads. In the National Assembly, while all is busy discussing the order of the day; regretting that there should be Anti-national Repasts in Opera-Halls; that his Majesty should still hesitate about accepting the Rights of Man, and hang conditions and peradventures on them,—Mirabeau steps up to the President, experienced Mounier as it chanced to be; and articulates, in bass under-tone: “Mounier, Paris marche sur nous (Paris is marching on us).”—“May be (Je n’en sais rien)!”—“Believe it, or disbelieve it, that is not my concern; but Paris, I say, is marching on us. Fall suddenly unwell; go over to the Château; tell them this. There is not a moment to lose.”—“Paris marching on us?” responds Mounier, with an atrabiliar accent; “Well, so much the better! We shall the sooner be a Republic.” Mirabeau quits him, as one quits an experienced President getting blindfold into deep waters; and the order of the day continues as before.

Yes, Paris is marching on us; and more than the women of Paris! Scarcely was Maillard gone, when M. de Gouvion’s message to all the Districts, and such tocsin and drumming of the générale, began to take effect. Armed National Guards from every District; especially the Grenadiers of the Centre, who are our old Gardes Françaises, arrive, in quick sequence, on the Place de Grève. An “immense people” is there; Saint-Antoine, with pike and rusty firelock, is all crowding thither, be it welcome or unwelcome. The Centre Grenadiers are received with cheering “It is not cheers that we want,” answer they gloomily; “the Nation has been insulted; to arms, and come with us for orders!” Ha, sits the wind so? Patriotism and Patrollotism are now one!

The Three Hundred have assembled; “all the Committees are in activity”; Lafayette is dictating dispatches for Versailles, when a Deputation of the Centre Grenadiers introduces itself to him. The Deputation makes military obeisance; and thus speaks, not without a kind of thought in it: “Mon Général, we are deputed by the Six Companies of Grenadiers. We do not think you a traitor, but we think the Government betrays you; it is time that this end. We cannot turn our bayonets against women crying to us for bread. The people are miserable, the source of the mischief is at Versailles: we must go seek the King, and bring him to Paris. We must exterminate (exterminer) the Regiment de Flandre and the Gardes-du Corps, who have dared to trample on the National Cockade. If the King be too weak to wear his crown, let him lay it down. You will crown his Son, you will name a Council of Regency: and all will go better.”[244]Reproachful astonishment paints itself on the face of Lafayette; speaks itself from his eloquent chivalrous lips: in vain. “My General, we would shed the last drop of our blood for you; but the root of the mischief is at Versailles; we must go and bring the King to Paris; all the people wish it, tout le peuple le veut.”

My General descends to the outer staircase; and harangues: once more in vain. “To Versailles! To Versailles!” Mayor Bailly, sent for through floods of Sansculottism, attempts academic oratory from his gilt state-coach; realizes nothing but infinite hoarse cries of: “Bread! To Versailles!”—and gladly shrinks within doors. Lafayette mounts the white charger; and again harangues, and reharangues: with eloquence, with firmness, indignant demonstration; with all things but persuasion. “To Versailles! To Versailles!” So lasts it, hour after hour;—for the space of half a day.

The great Scipio-Americanus can do nothing; not so much as escape. “Morbleu, mon Général,” cry the Grenadiers serrying their ranks as the white charger makes a motion that way, “you will not leave us, you will abide with us!” A perilous juncture: Mayor Bailly and the Municipals sit quaking within doors; my General is prisoner without: the Place de Grève, with its thirty thousand Regulars, its whole irregular Saint-Antoine and Saint-Marceau, is one minatory mass of clear or rusty steel; all hearts set, with a moody fixedness, on one object. Moody, fixed are all hearts: tranquil is no heart,—if it be not that of the white charger, who paws there, with arched neck, composedly champing his bit; as if no World, with its Dynasties and Eras, were now rushing down. The drizzly day bends westward; the cry is still: “To Versailles!”

Nay now, borne from afar, come quite sinister cries; hoarse, reverberating in longdrawn hollow murmurs, with syllables too like those of “Lanterne!” Or else, irregular Sansculottism may be marching off, of itself; with pikes, nay with cannon. The inflexible Scipio does at length, by aide-de-camp, ask of the Municipals: Whether or not he may go? A Letter is handed out to him, over armed heads; sixty thousand faces flash fixedly on his, there is stillness and no bosom breathes, till he have read. By Heaven, he grows suddenly pale! Do the Municipals permit? “Permit and even order,”—since he can no other. Clangour of approval rends the welkin. To your ranks, then; let us march!

It is, as we compute, towards three in the afternoon. Indignant National Guards may dine for once from their haversack: dined or undined, they march with one heart. Paris flings up her windows, claps hands, as the Avengers, with their shrilling drums and shalms tramp by; she will then sit pensive, apprehensive, and pass rather a sleepless night.[245] On the white charger, Lafayette, in the slowest possible manner, going and coming, and eloquently haranguing among the ranks, rolls onward with his thirty thousand. Saint-Antoine, with pike and cannon, has preceded him; a mixed multitude, of all and of no arms, hovers on his flanks and skirts; the country once more pauses agape: Paris marche sur nous.

Chapter VI: To Versailles

For, indeed, about this same moment, Maillard has halted his draggled Menads on the last hill-top; and now Versailles, and the Château of Versailles, and far and wide the inheritance of Royalty opens to the wondering eye. From far on the right, over Marly and Saint-Germains-en-Laye; round towards Rambouillet, on the left: beautiful all; softly embosomed; as if in sadness, in the dim moist weather! And near before us is Versailles, New and Old; with that broad frondent Avenue de Versailles between,—stately-frondent, broad, three hundred feet as men reckon, with its four Rows of Elms; and then the Château de Versailles, ending in royal Parks and Pleasances, gleaming lakelets, arbours, Labyrinths, the Ménagerie, and Great and Little Trianon. High-towered dwellings, leafy pleasant places; where the gods of this lower world abide: whence, nevertheless, black Care cannot be excluded; whither Menadic Hunger is even now advancing, armed with pikethyrsi!

Yes, yonder, Mesdames, where our straight frondent Avenue, joined, as you note, by Two frondent brother Avenues from this hand and from that, spreads out into Place Royal and Palace Forecourt; yonder is the Salles des Menus. Yonder an august Assembly sits regenerating France. Forecourt, Grand Court, Court of Marble, Court narrowing into Court you may discern next, or fancy: on the extreme verge of which that glass-dome, visibly glittering like a star of hope, is the—Œil-de-Bœuf ! Yonder, or nowhere in the world, is bread baked for us. But, O Mesdames, were not one thing good: That our cannons, with Demoiselle Théroigne and all show of war, be put to the rear? Submission beseems petitioners of a National Assembly; we are strangers in Versailles,—whence, too audibly, there comes even now a sound as of tocsin and générale! Also to put on, if possible, a cheerful countenance, hiding our sorrows; and even to sing? Sorrow, pitied of the Heavens, is hateful, suspicious to the Earth.—So counsels shifty Maillard; haranguing his Menads, on the heights near Versailles.[246]

Cunning Maillard’s dispositions are obeyed. The draggled Insurrectionists advance up the Avenue, “in three columns,” among the four Elm-rows; “singing Henri Quatre,” with what melody they can; and shouting Vive le Roi. Versailles, though the Elm-rows are dripping wet, crowds from both sides, with “Vivent nos Parisiennes, Our Paris ones for ever!”

Prickers, scouts have been out towards Paris, as the rumour deepened: whereby his Majesty, gone to shoot in the Woods of Meudon, has been happily discovered, and got home; and the générale and tocsin set a-sounding. The Bodyguards are already drawn up in front of the Palace Grates; and look down the Avenue de Versailles; sulky, in wet buckskins. Flandre too is there, repentant of the Opera-Repast. Also Dragoons dismounted are there. Finally Major Lecointre, and what he can gather of the Versailles National Guard;—though it is to be observed, our Colonel, that same sleepless Count d’Estaing, giving neither order nor ammunition, has vanished most improperly; one supposes, into the Œil-de-Bœuf. Red-coated Swiss stand within the Grates, under arms. There likewise, in their inner room, “all the ministers,” Saint-Priest, Lamentation Pompignan and the rest, are assembled with M. Necker: they sit with him there; blank, expecting what the hour will bring.

President Mounier, though he answered Mirabeau with a tant mieux, and affected to slight the matter, had his own forebodings. Surely, for these four weary hours he has reclined not on roses! The order of the day is getting forward: a Deputation to his Majesty seems proper, that it might please him to grant “Acceptance pure and simple” to those Constitution-Articles of ours; the “mixed qualified Acceptance,” with its peradventures, is satisfactory to neither gods nor men.

So much is clear. And yet there is more, which no man speaks, which all men now vaguely understand. Disquietude, absence of mind is on every face; Members whisper, uneasily come and go: the order of the day is evidently not the day’s want. Till at length, from the outer gates, is heard a rustling and justling, shrill uproar and squabbling, muffled by walls; which testifies that the hour is come! Rushing and crushing one hears now; then enter Usher Maillard, with a Deputation of Fifteen muddy dripping Women,—having, by incredible industry, and aid of all the macers, persuaded the rest to wait out of doors. National Assembly shall now, therefore, look its august task directly in the face: regenerative Constitutionalism has an unregenerate Sansculottism bodily in front of it; crying, “Bread! Bread!”

Shifty Maillard, translating frenzy into articulation; repressive with the one hand, expostulative with the other, does his best; and really, though not bred to public speaking, manages rather well:—In the present dreadful rarity of grains, a Deputation of Female Citizens has, as the august Assembly can discern, come out from Paris to petition. Plots of Aristocrats are too evident in the matter; for example, one miller has been bribed “by a bank-note of 200 livres” not to grind,— name unknown to the Usher, but fact provable, at least indubitable. Further, it seems, the National Cockade has been trampled on; also there are Black Cockades, or were. All which things will not an august National Assembly, the hope of France, take into its wise immediate consideration?

And Menadic Hunger, irrepressible, crying “Black Cockades,” crying “Bread, bread,” adds, after such fashion: Will it not?—Yes, Messieurs, if a Deputation to his Majesty, for the “Acceptance pure and simple,” seemed proper,—how much more now, for “the afflicting situation of Paris”; for the calming of this effervescence! President Mounier, with a speedy Deputation, among whom we notice the respectable figure of Doctor Guillotin, gets himself forthwith on march. Vice-President shall continue the order of the day; Usher Maillard shall stay by him to repress the women. It is four o’clock, of the miserablest afternoon, when Mounier steps out.

O experienced Mounier, what an afternoon; the last of thy political existence! Better had it been to “fall suddenly unwell,” while it was yet time. For, behold, the Esplanade, over all its spacious expanse, is covered with groups of squalid dripping Women; of lankhaired male Rascality, armed with axes, rusty pikes, old muskets, ironshod clubs (batons ferrés, which end in knives or sword-blades, a kind of extempore bill-hook);—looking nothing but hungry revolt. The rain pours. Gardes-du-Corps go caracoling through the groups “amid hisses”; irritating and agitating what is but dispersed here to reunite there.

Innumerable squalid women beleaguer the President and Deputation; insist on going with him: has not his Majesty himself, looking from the window, sent out to ask, What we wanted? “Bread, and speech with the King (Du pain, et parler au Roi),” that was the answer. Twelve women are clamorously added to the Deputation; and march with it, across the Esplanade; through dissipated groups, caracoling Bodyguards and the pouring rain.

President Mounier, unexpectedly augmented by Twelve women, copiously escorted by Hunger and Rascality, is himself mistaken for a group: himself and his Women are dispersed by caracolers; rally again with difficulty, among the mud.[247]Finally the Grates are opened; the Deputation gets access, with the Twelve women too in it; of which latter, Five shall even see the face of his Majesty. Let wet Menadism, in the best spirits it can, expect their return.

Chapter VII: At Versailles

But already Pallas Athene (in the shape of Demoiselle Théroigne) is busy with Flandre and the dismounted Dragoons. She, and such women as are fittest, go through the ranks; speak with an earnest jocosity; clasp rough troopers to their patriot bosom, crush down spontoons and musketoons with soft arms: can a man, that were worthy of the name of man, attack famishing patriot women?

One reads that Théroigne had bags of money, which she distributed over Flandre:—furnished by whom? Alas, with money-bags one seldom sits on insurrectionary cannon. Calumnious Royalism! Théroigne had only the limited earnings of her profession of unfortunate-female; money she had not, but brown locks, the figure of a Heathen Goddess and an eloquent tongue and heart.

Meanwhile, Saint-Antoine in groups and troops, is continually arriving; wetted, sulky; with pikes and impromptu billhooks: driven thus far by popular fixed idea. So many hirsute figures driven hither, in that manner: figures that have come to do they know not what; figures that have come to see it done! Distinguished among all figures, who is this, of gaunt stature, with leaden breastplate, though a small one;[248]bushy in red grizzled locks; nay, with long tile-beard? It is Jourdan, unjust dealer in mules; a dealer no longer, but a Painter’s Model, playing truant this day. From the necessities of Art comes his long tile-beard; whence his leaden breastplate (unless indeed he were some Hawker licensed by leaden badge) may have come,—will perhaps remain for ever an Historical Problem. Another Saul among the people we discern: “Père Adam, Father Adam,” as the groups name him; to us better known as bull-voiced Marquis Saint-Huruge; hero of the Veto; a man that has had losses, and deserved them. The tall Marquis, emitted some days ago from limbo, looks peripatetically on this scene from under his umbrella, not without interest. All which persons and things, hurled together as we see; Pallas Athene, busy with Flandre; patriotic Versailles National Guards, short of ammunition, and deserted by D’Estaing their Colonel, and commanded by Lecointre their Major; then caracoling Bodyguards, sour, dispirited, with their buckskins wet; and finally this flowing sea of indignant Squalor,—may they not give rise to occurrences?

Behold, however, the Twelve She-deputies return from the Château. Without President Mounier, indeed; but radiant with joy, shouting “Life to the King and his House.” Apparently the news are good, Mesdames? News of the best! Five of us were admitted to the internal splendours, to the Royal Presence. This slim damsel, “Louison Chabray, worker in sculpture, aged only seventeen,” as being of the best looks and address, her we appointed speaker. On whom, and indeed on all of us, his Majesty looked nothing but graciousness. Nay, when Louison, addressing him, was like to faint, he took her in his royal arms; and said gallantly, “It was well worth while (Elle en valût bien la peine).” Consider, O Women, what a King! His words were of comfort, and that only: there shall be provision sent to Paris, if provision is in the world; grains shall circulate free as air; millers shall grind, or do worse, while their millstones endure; and nothing be left wrong which a Restorer of French Liberty can right.

Good news these; but, to wet Menads, all-too incredible! There seems no proof, then? Words of comfort,—they are words only; which will feed nothing. O miserable People, betrayed by Aristocrats, who corrupt thy very messengers! In his royal arms, Mademoiselle Louison? In his arms? Thou shameless minx, worthy of a name—that shall be nameless! Yes, thy skin is soft: ours is rough with hardship; and well wetted, waiting here in the rain. No children hast thou hungry at home; only alabaster dolls, that weep not! The traitress! To the Lanterne!—And so poor Louison Chabray, no asseveration or shrieks availing her, fair slim damsel, late in the arms of Royalty, has a garter round her neck, and furibund Amazons at each end; is about to perish so,—when two Bodyguards gallop up, indignantly dissipating; and rescue her. The miscredited Twelve hasten back to the Château, for an “answer in writing.”

Nay, behold, a new flight of Menads, with “M. Brunout Bastille Volunteer,” as impressed-commandant, at the head of it. These also will advance to the Grate of the Grand Court, and see what is toward. Human patience, in wet buckskins, has its limits. Bodyguard Lieutenant M. de Savonnières for one moment lets his temper, long provoked, long pent, give way. He not only dissipates these latter Menads; but caracoles and cuts, or indignantly flourishes, at M. Brunout, the impressed-commandant; and, finding great relief in it, even chases him; Brunout flying nimbly, though in a pirouette manner, and now with sword also drawn. At which sight of wrath and victory, two other Bodyguards (for wrath is contagious, and to pent Bodyguards is so solacing) do likewise give way; give chase, with brandished sabre, and in the air make horrid circles. So that poor Brunout has nothing for it but to retreat with accelerated nimbleness, through rank after rank; Parthian-like, fencing as he flies; above all, shouting lustily, “On nous laisse assassiner, They are getting us assassinated!”

Shameful! Three against one! Growls come from the Lecointrian ranks; bellowings,—lastly shots. Savonnières’ arm is raised to strike: the bullet of a Lecointrian musket shatters it; the brandished sabre jingles down harmless. Brunout has escaped this duel well ended: but the wild howl of war is everywhere beginning to pipe!

The Amazons recoil; Saint-Antoine has its cannon pointed (full of grapeshot); thrice applies the lit flambeau; which thrice refuses to catch,—the touchholes are so wetted; and voices cry: “Arretez, il n’est pas temps encore, Stop, it is not yet time!”[249] Messieurs of the Garde-du-Corps, ye had orders not to fire; nevertheless two of you limp dismounted, and one war-horse lies slain. Were it not well to draw back out of shot-range; finally to file off,—into the interior? If in so filing off, there did a musketoon or two discharge itself, at these armed shopkeepers, hooting and crowing, could man wonder? Draggled are your white cockades of an enormous size; would to Heaven they were got exchanged for tricolor ones! Your buckskins are wet, your hearts heavy. Go, and return not!

The Bodyguards file off, as we hint; giving and receiving shots; drawing no life-blood; leaving boundless indignation. Some three times in the thickening dusk, a glimpse of them is seen, at this or the other Portal: saluted always with execrations, with the whew of lead. Let but a Bodyguard show face, he is hunted by Rascality;—for instance, poor “M. de Moucheton of the Scotch Company,” owner of the slain war-horse; and has to be smuggled off by Versailles Captains. Or rusty firelocks belch after him, shivering asunder his—hat. In the end, by superior Order, the Bodyguards, all but the few on immediate duty, disappear; or as it were abscond; and march, under cloud of night, to Rambouillet.[250]

We remark also that the Versaillese have now got ammunition: all afternoon, the official Person could find none; till, in these so critical moments, a patriotic Sub-lieutenant set a pistol to his ear, and would thank him to find some,—which he thereupon succeeded in doing. Likewise that Flandre, disarmed by Pallas Athene, says openly, it will not fight with citizens; and for token of peace has exchanged cartridges with the Versaillese.

Sansculottism is now among mere friends; and can “circulate freely”; indignant at Bodyguards;—complaining also considerably of hunger.

Chapter VIII: The Equal Diet

But why lingers Mounier; returns not with his Deputation? It is six, it is seven o’clock; and still no Mounier, no Acceptance pure and simple.

And, behold, the dripping Menads, not now in deputation but in mass, have penetrated into the Assembly: to the shamefullest interruption of public speaking and order of the day. Neither Maillard nor Vice-President can restrain them, except within wide limits; not even, except for minutes, can the lion-voice of Mirabeau, though they applaud it: but ever and anon they break in upon the regeneration of France with cries of: “Bread; not so much discoursing! Du pain; pas tant de longs discours! ”—So insensible were these poor creatures to bursts of parlimentary eloquence!

One learns also that the royal carriages are getting yoked, as if for Metz. Carriages, royal or not, have verily showed themselves at the back Gates. They even produced, or quoted, a written order from our Versailles Municipality,—which is a Monarchic not a Democratic one. However, Versailles Patrols drove them in again; as the vigilant Lecointre had strictly charged them to do.

A busy man, truly, is Major Lecointre, in these hours. For Colonel d’Estaing loiters invisible in the Œil-de-Bœuf; invisible, or still more questionably visible for instants: then also a too loyal Municipality requires supervision: no order, civil or military, taken about any of these thousand things! Lecointre is at the Versailles Townhall: he is at the Grate of the Grand Court; communing with Swiss and Bodyguards. He is in the ranks of Flandre; he is here, he is there: studious to prevent bloodshed; to prevent the Royal Family from flying to Metz; the Menads from plundering Versailles.

At the fall of night, we behold him advance to those armed groups of Saint-Antoine, hovering all-too grim near the Salle des Menus. They receive him in a half-circle; twelve speakers behind cannons with lighted torches in hand, the cannon-mouths towards Lecointre: a picture for Salvator! He asks, in temperate but courageous language: What they, by this their journey to Versailles, do specially want? The twelve speakers reply, in few words inclusive of much: “Bread, and the end of these brabbles, Du poin, et la fin des a faires.” When the a fairs will end, no Major Lecointre, nor no mortal, can say; but as to bread, he inquires, How many are you?—learns that they are six hundred, that a loaf each will suffice; and rides off to the Municipality to get six hundred loaves.

Which loaves, however, a Municipality of Monarchic temper will not give. It will give two tons of rice rather,—could you but know whether it should be boiled or raw. Nay when this too is accepted, the Municipals have disappeared;—ducked under, as the Six-and-twenty Long-gowned of Paris did; and, leaving not the smallest vestige of rice, in the boiled or raw state, they there vanish from History!

Rice comes not; one’s hope of food is balked; even one’s hope of vengeance: is not M. de Moucheton of the Scotch Company, as we said, deceitfully smuggled off? Failing all which, behold only M. de Moucheton’s slain war-horse, lying on the Esplanade there! Saint-Antoine, balked, esurient, pounces on the slain warhorse; flays it; roasts it, with such fuel, of paling, gates, portable timber as can be come at,— not without shouting; and, after the manner of ancient Greek Heroes, they lifted their hands to the daintily readied repast; such as it might be.[251] Other Rascality prowls discursive; seeking what it may devour. Flandre will retire to its barracks; Lecointre also with his Versaillese,—all but the vigilant Patrols, charged to be doubly vigilant.

So sink the shadows of night, blustering, rainy; and all paths grow dark. Strangest Night ever seen in these regions,—perhaps since the Bartholomew Night, when Versailles, as Bassompierre writes of it, was a chétif château. O for the Lyre of some Orpheus, to constrain, with touch of melodious strings, these mad masses into Order! For here all seems fallen asunder, in wide-yawning dislocation. The highest, as in down-rushing of a World, is come in contact with the lowest: the Rascality of France beleaguering the Royalty of France; “ironshod batons” lifted round the diadem, not to guard it! With denunciations of bloodthirsty Anti-national Bodyguards, are heard dark growlings against a Queenly Name.

The Court sits tremulous, powerless; varies with the varying temper of the Esplanade, with the varying colour of the rumours from Paris. Thick-coming rumours; now of peace, now of war. Necker and all the Ministers consult; with a blank issue. The Œil-de-Bœuf is one tempest of whispers:—We will fly to Metz; we will not fly. The royal Carriages again attempt egress,—though for trial merely; they are again driven in by Lecointre’s Patrols. In six hours, nothing has been resolved on; not even the Acceptance pure and simple.

In six hours? Alas, he who, in such circumstances, cannot resolve in six minutes, may give up the enterprise: him Fate has already resolved for. And Menadism, meanwhile, and Sansculottism takes counsel with the National Assembly; grows more and more tumultuous there. Mounier returns not; Authority nowhere shows itself: the Authority of France lies, for the present, with Lecointre and Usher Maillard.—This then is the abomination of desolation; come suddenly, though long foreshadowed as inevitable! For, to the blind, all things are sudden. Misery which, through long ages, had no spokesman, no helper, will now be its own helper and speak for itself. The dialect, one of the rudest, is, what it could be, this.

At eight o’clock there returns to our Assembly not the Deputation; but Doctor Guillotin announcing that it will return; also that there is hope of the Acceptance pure and simple. He himself has brought a Royal Letter, authorizing and commanding the freest “circulation of grains.” Which Royal Letter Menadism with its whole heart applauds. Conformity to which the Assembly forthwith passes a Decree; also received with rapturous Menadic plaudits:—Only could not an august Assembly contrive further to “fix the price of bread at eight sous the half-quartern; butchers’-meat at six sous the pound”; which seem fair rates? Such motion do “a multitude of men and women,” irrepressible by Usher Maillard, now make; does an august Assembly hear made. Usher Maillard himself is not always perfectly measured in speech; but if rebuked, he can justly excuse himself by the peculiarity of the circumstance.[252]

But finally, this Decree well passed, and the disorder continuing; and Members melting away, and no President Mounier returning,— what can the Vice-President do but also melt away? The Assembly melts, under such pressure, into deliquium; or, as it is officially called, adjourns. Maillard is dispatched to Paris, with the “Decree concerning Grains” in his pocket; he and some women, in carriages belonging to the King. Thitherward slim Louison Chabray has already set forth, with that “written answer” which the Twelve She-deputies returned in to seek. Slim sylph, she has set forth, through the black muddy country: she has much to tell, her poor nerves so flurried; and travels, as indeed to-day on this road all persons do, with extreme slowness. President Mounier has not come, nor the Acceptance pure and simple; though six hours with their events have come; though courier on courier reports that Lafayette is coming. Coming, with war or with peace? It is time that the Château also should determine on one thing or another; that the Château also should show itself alive, if it would continue living!

Victorious, joyful after such delay, Mounier does arrive at last, and the hard-earned Acceptance with him; which now, alas, is of small value. Fancy Mounier’s surprise to find his Senate, whom he hoped to charm by the Acceptance pure and simple,—all gone; and in its stead a Senate of Menads! For as Erasmus’s Ape mimicked, say with wooden splint, Erasmus shaving, so do these Amazons hold, in mock majesty, some confused parody of National Assembly. They make motions; deliver speeches; pass enactments; productive at least of loud laughter. All galleries and benches are filled; a Strong Dame of the Market is in Mounier’s Chair. Not without difficulty, Mounier, by aid of macers and persuasive speaking, makes his way to the Female-President; the Strong Dame, before abdicating, signifies that, for one thing, she and indeed her whole senate male and female (for what was one roasted war-horse among so many?) are suffering very considerably from hunger.

Experienced Mounier, in these circumstances, takes a twofold resolution: To reconvoke his Assembly Members by sound of drum; also to procure a supply of food. Swift messengers fly, to all bakers, cooks, pastrycooks, vintners, restorers; drums beat, accompanied with shrill vocal proclamation, through all streets. They come: the Assembly Members come; what is still better, the provisions come. On tray and barrow come these latter; loaves, wine, great store of sausages. The nourishing baskets circulate harmoniously along the benches; nor, according to the Father of Epics, did any soul lack a fair share of victual (δατος ἐιοης, an equal diet); highly desirable at the moment.[253]

Gradually some hundred or so of Assembly Members get edged in, Menadism making way a little, round Mounier’s chair; listen to the Acceptance pure and simple; and begin, what is the order of the night, “discussion of the Penal Code.” All benches are crowded; in the dusky galleries, duskier with unwashed heads, is a strange “coruscation,”— of impromptu billhooks.[254]It is exactly five months this day since these same galleries were filled with high-plumed jewelled Beauty, raining bright influences; and now? To such length have we got in regenerating France. Methinks the travail-throes are of the sharpest!— Menadism will not be restrained from occasional remarks; asks, “What is the use of Penal Code? The thing we want is Bread.” Mirabeau turns round with lion-voiced rebuke; Menadism applauds him; but recommences.

Thus they, chewing tough sausages, discussing the Penal Code, make night hideous. What the issue will be? Lafayette with his thirty thousand must arrive first: him, who cannot now be distant, all men expect, as the messenger of Destiny.

Chapter IX: Lafayette

Towards midnight lights flare on the hill; Lafayette’s lights! The roll of his drums comes up the Avenue de Versailles. With peace, or with war? Patience, friends! With neither. Lafayette is come, but not yet the catastrope.

He has halted and harangued so often, on the march; spent nine hours on four leagues of road. At Montreuil, close on Versailles, the whole Host has to pause; and, with uplifted right hand, in the murk of Night, to these pouring skies, swear solemnly to respect the King’s Dwelling; to be faithful to King and National Assembly. Rage is driven down out of sight, by the laggard march; the thirst of vengeance slaked in weariness and soaking clothes. Flandre is again drawn out under arms: but Flandre, grown so patriotic, now needs no “exterminating.” The wayworn Battalions halt in the Avenue: they have, for the present, no wish so pressing as that of shelter and rest.

Anxious sits President Mounier; anxious the Château. There is a message coming from the Château, that M. Mounier would please to return thither with a fresh Deputation, swiftly; and so at least unite our two anxieties. Anxious Mounier does of himself send, meanwhile, to apprise the General that his Majesty has been so gracious as to grant us the Acceptance pure and simple. The General, with a small advance column, makes answer in passing; speaks vaguely some smooth words to the National President,—glances, only with the eye, at that so mixtiform National Assembly; then fares forward towards the Château. There are with him two Paris Municipals; they were chosen from the Three Hundred for that errand. He gets admittance through the locked and padlocked Grates, through sentries and ushers, to the Royal Halls.

The Court, male and female, crowds on his passage, to read their doom on his face; which exhibits, say Historians, a mixture “of sorrow, of fervour and valour,” singular to behold.[255]The King, with Monsieur, with Ministers and Marshals, is waiting to receive him: He “is come,” in his highflown chivalrous way, “to offer his head for the safety of his Majesty’s.” The two Municipals state the wish of Paris: four things, of quite pacific tenor. First, that the honour of guarding his sacred person be conferred on patriot National Guards;—say, the Centre Grenadiers, who as Gardes Françaises were wont to have that privilege. Second, that provisions be got, if possible. Third, that the Prisons, all crowded with political delinquents, may have judges sent them. Fourth, that it would please his Majesty to come and live in Paris. Too all which four wishes, except the fourth, his Majesty answers readily, Yes; or indeed may almost say that he has already answered it. To the fourth he can answer only, Yes or No; would so gladly answer, Yes and No!—But, in any case, are not their dispositions, thank Heaven, so entirely pacific? There is time for deliberation. The brunt of the danger seems past!

Lafayette and D’Estaing settle the watches; Centre Grenadiers are to take the Guard-room they of old occupied as Gardes Françaises;— for indeed the Gardes-du-Corps, its late ill-advised occupants, are gone mostly to Rambouillet. That is the order of this night; sufficient for the night is the evil thereof. Whereupon Lafayette and the two Municipals, with highflown chivalry, take their leave.

So brief has the interview been, Mounier and his Deputation were not yet got up. So brief and satisfactory. A stone is rolled from every heart. The fair Palace Dames publicly declare that this Lafayette, detestable though he be, is their saviour for once. Even the ancient vinaigrous Tantes admit it; the King’s Aunts, ancient Graille and Sisterhood, known to us of old. Queen Marie-Antoinette has been heard often say the like. She alone, among all women and all men, wore a face of courage, of lofty calmness and resolve, this day. She alone saw clearly what she meant to do; and Theresa’s Daughter dares do what she means, were all France threatening her: abide where her children are, where her husband is.

Towards three in the morning all things are settled: the watches set, the Centre Grenadiers put into their old Guard-room, and harangued; the Swiss, and few remaining Bodyguards harangued. The wayworn Paris Battalions, consigned to “the hospitality of Versailles,” lie dormant in spare-beds, spare-barracks, coffee-houses, empty churches. A troop of them, on their way to the Church of Saint-Louis, awoke poor Weber, dreaming troublous, in the Rue Sartory. Weber has had his waistcoat-pocket full of balls all day; “two hundred balls, and two pears of powder!” For waistcoats were waistcoats then, and had flaps down to mid-thigh. So many balls he has had all day; but no opportunity of using them: he turns over now, execrating disloyal bandits; swears a prayer or two, and straight to sleep again.

Finally the National Assembly is harangued; which thereupon, on motion of Mirabeau, discontinues the Penal Code, and dismisses for this night. Menadism, Sansculottism has cowered into guardhouses, barracks of Flandre, to the light of cheerful fire; failing that, to churches, officehouses, sentry-boxes, wheresoever wretchedness can find a lair. The troublous Day has brawled itself to rest: no lives yet lost but that of one warhorse. Insurrectionary Chaos lies slumbering round the Palace, like Ocean round a Diving-bell,—no crevice yet disclosing itself.

Deep sleep has fallen promiscuously on the high and on the low; suspending most things, even wrath and famine. Darkness covers the Earth. But, far on the North-east, Paris flings up her great yellow gleam; far into the wet black Night. For all is illuminated there, as in the old July Nights; the streets deserted, for alarm of war; the Municipals all wakeful; Patrols hailing, with their hoarse Who-goes. There, as we discover, our poor slim Louison Chabray, her poor nerves all fluttered, is arriving about this very hour. There Usher Maillard will arrive, about an hour hence, “towards four in the morning.” They report, successively, to a wakeful Hôtel-de-Ville what comfort they can; which again, with early dawn, large comfortable Placards shall impart to all men.

Lafayette, in the Hôtel de Noailles, not far from the Château, having now finished haranguing, sits with his Officers consulting: at five o’clock the unanimous best counsel is, that a man so tost and toiled for twenty-four hours and more, fling himself on a bed, and seek some rest.

Thus, then, has ended the First Act of the Insurrection of Women. How it will turn on the morrow? The morrow, as always, is with the Fates! But his Majesty, one may hope, will consent to come honourably to Paris; at all events, he can visit Paris. Anti-national Bodyguards, here and elsewhere, must take the National Oath; make reparation to the Tricolor; Flandre will swear. There may be much swearing; much public speaking there will infallibly be: and so, with harangues and vows, may the matter in some handsome way wind itself up.

Or, alas, may it not be all otherwise, unhandsome; the consent not honourable, but extorted, ignominious? Boundless Chaos of Insurrection presses slumbering round the Palace, like Ocean round a Diving-bell; and may penetrate at any crevice. Let but that accumulated insurrectionary mass find entrance! Like the infinite inburst of water; or say rather, of inflammable, self-igniting fluid; for example, “turpentine-and-phosphorus oil,”—fluid known to Spinola Santerre!

Chapter X: The Grand Entries

The dull dawn of a new morning, drizzly and chill, had but broken over Versailles, when it pleased Destiny that a Bodyguard should look out of window, on the right wing of the Château, to see what prospect there was in Heaven and in Earth. Rascality male and female is prowling in view of him. His fasting stomach is, with good cause, sour; he perhaps cannot forbear a passing malison on them; least of all can he forbear answering such.

Ill words breed worse: till the worst word come; and then the ill deed. Did the maledicent Bodyguard, getting (as was too inevitable) better malediction than he gave, load his musketoon, and threaten to fire; nay actually fire? Were wise who wist! It stands asserted; to us not credibly. But be this as it may, manaced Rascality, in whinnying scorn, is shaking at all Grates: the fastening of one (some write, it was a chain merely) gives way; Rascality is in the Grand Court, whinnying louder still.

The maledicent Bodyguard, more Bodyguards than he do now give fire; a man’s arm is shattered. Lecointre will despose[256]that “the Sieur Cardine, a National Guard without arms, was stabbed.” But see, sure enough, poor Jerôme l’Héritier, an unarmed National Guard he too, “cabinet-maker, a saddler’s son, of Paris,” with the down of youthhood still on his chin,—he reels death-stricken; rushes to the pavement, scattering it with his blood and brains!—Alleleu! Wilder than Irish wakes rises the howl; of pity, of infinite revenge. In few moments, the Grate of the inner and inmost Court, which they name Court of Marble, this too is forced, or surprised, and bursts open: the Court of Marble too is overflowed: up the Grand Staircase, up all stairs and entrances rushes the living Deluge! Deshuttes and Varigny, the two sentry Bodyguards, are trodden down, are massacred with a hundred pikes. Women snatch their cutlasses, or any weapon, and storm-in Menadic:—other women lift the corpse of shot Jerôme; lay it down on the Marble steps; there shall the livid face and smashed head, dumb for ever, speak.

Woe now to all Bodyguards, mercy is none for them! Miomandre de Sainte-Marie pleads with soft words, on the Grand Staircase, “descending four steps”:—to the roaring tornado. His comrades snatch him up, by the skirts and belts; literally, from the jaws of Destruction; and slam-to their Door. This also will stand few instants; the panels shivering in, like potsherds. Barricading serves not: fly fast, ye Bodyguards: rabid Insurrection, like the Hellhound Chase, uproaring at your heels!

The terror-struck Bodyguards fly, bolting and barricading; it follows. Whitherward? Through hall on hall: woe, now! towards the Queen’s Suite of Rooms, in the furthest room of which the Queen is now asleep. Five sentinels rush through that long suite; they are in the Anteroom knocking loud: “Save the Queen!” Trembling women fall at their feet with tears: are answered: “Yes, we will die; save ye the Queen!”

Tremble not, women, but haste: for, lo, another voice shouts far through the outermost door, “Save the Queen!” and the door is shut. It is brave Miomandre’s voice that shouts this second warning. He has stormed across imminent death to do it; fronts imminent death, having done it. Brave Tardivet du Repaire, bent on the same desperate service, was borne down with pikes; his comrades hardly snatched him in again alive. Miomandre and Tardivet: let the names of these two Bodyguards, as the names of brave men should, live long.

Trembling maids of Honour, one of whom from afar caught glimpse of Miomandre as well as heard him, hastily wrap the Queen; not in robes of state. She flies for her life, across the Œil-de-Bœuf; against the main door of which too Insurrection batters. She is in the King’s Apartment, in the King’s arms; she clasps her children amid a faithful few. The Imperial-hearted bursts into mother’s tears. “O my friends, save me and my children, O mes amis, sauvez moi et mes enfans!” The battering of Insurrectionary axes clangs audible across the Œilde-Bœuf. What an hour!

Yes, Friends; a hideous fearful hour; shameful alike to Governed and Governor; wherein Governed and Governor ignominiously testify that their relation is at an end. Rage, which had brewed itself in twenty thousand hearts for the last four-and-twenty hours, has taken fire: Jerôme’s brained corpse lies there as live-coal. It is, as we said, the infinite Element bursting in; wild-surging through all corridors and conduits.

Meanwhile the poor Bodyguards have got hunted mostly into the Œil-de-Bœuf. They may die there, at the King’s threshold; they can do little to defend it. They are heaping tabourets (stools of honour), benches and all movables, against the door; at which the axe of Insurrection thunders.—But did brave Miomandre perish, then, at the Queen’s outer door? No, he was fractured, slashed, lacerated, left for dead; he has nevertheless crawled hither; and shall live, honoured of loyal France. Remark also, in flat contradiction to much which has been said and sung, that Insurrection did not burst that door he had defended; but hurried elsewhither, seeking new Bodyguards.[257]

Poor Bodyguards, with their Thyestes Opera-Repast! Well for them that Insurrection has only pikes and axes; no right sieging-tools! It shakes and thunders. Must they all perish miserably, and Royalty with them? Deshuttes and Varigny, massacred at the first inbreak, have been beheaded in the Marble Court; a sacrifice to Jerôme’s manes: Jourdan with the tile-beard did that duty willingly; and asked, If there were no more? Another captive they are leading round the corpse, with howlchantings: may not Jourdan again tuck up his sleeves?

And louder and louder rages Insurrection within, plundering if it cannot kill; louder and louder it thunders at the Œil-de-Bœuf: what can now hinder its bursting in?—On a sudden it ceases; the battering has ceased! Wild rushing; the cries grow fainter; there is silence, or the tramp of regular steps; then a friendly knocking: “We are the Centre Grenadiers, old Gardes Françaises: Open to us, Messieurs of the Garde-du-Corps; we have not forgotten how you saved us at Fontenoy!”[258]The door is opened; enter Captain Gondran and the Centre Grenadiers: there are military embracings; there is sudden deliverance from death into life.—

Strange Sons of Adam! It was to “exterminate” these Gardes-du-Corps that the Centre Grenadiers left home: and now they have rushed to save them from extermination. The memory of common peril, of old help, melts the rough heart; bosom is clasped to bosom, not in war. The King shows himself, one moment, through the door of his Apartment, with: “Do not hurt my Guards!”—“Soyons frères, Let us be brothers!” cries Captain Gondran; and again dashes off, with levelled bayonets, to sweep the Palace clear.

Now too Lafayette, suddenly roused, not from sleep (for his eyes had not yet closed), arrives; with passionate popular eloquence, with prompt military word of command. National Guards, suddenly roused, by sound of trumpet and alarm-drum, are all arriving. The death-melly ceases: the first sky-lambent blaze of Insurrection is got damped down; it burns now, if unextinguished, yet flameless, as charred coals do, and not inextinguishable. The King’s Apartments are safe. Ministers, Officials, and even some loyal National Deputies are assembling round their Majesties. The consternation will, with sobs and confusion, settle down gradually, into plan and counsel, better or worse.

But glance now, for a moment, from the royal windows! A roaring sea of human heads, inundating both Courts; billowing against all passages: Menadic women; infuriated men, mad with revenge, with love of mischief, love of plunder! Rascality has slipped its muzzle; and now bays, three-throated, like the Dog of Erebus. Fourteen Bodyguards are wounded; two massacred, and as we saw, beheaded; Jourdan asking, “Was it worth while to come so far for two?” Hapless Deshuttes and Varigny! Their fate surely was sad. Whirled down so suddenly to the abyss; as men are, suddenly, by the wide thunder of the Mountain Avalanche, awakened not by them, awakened far off by others! When the Château Clock last struck, they two were pacing languid, with poised musketoon; anxious mainly that the next hour would strike. It has struck; to them inaudible. Their trunks lie mangled; their heads parade, “on pikes twelve feet long,” through the streets of Versailles; and shall, about noon, reach the Barriers of Paris,—a too ghastly contradiction to the large comfortable Placards that have been posted there!

The other captive Bodyguard is still circling the corpse of Jerôme, amid Indian war-whooping; bloody Tile-beard, with tucked sleeves, brandishing his bloody axe; when Gondran and the Grenadiers come in sight. “Comrades, will you see a man massacred in cold blood?”— “Off, butchers!” answer they; and the poor Bodyguard is free. Busy runs Gondran, busy run Guards and Captains; scouring all corridors; dispersing Rascality and Robbery; sweeping the Palace clear. The mangled carnage is removed; Jerôme’s body to the Townhall, for inquest: the fire of Insurrection gets damped, more and more, into measurable, manageable heat.

Transcendent things of all sorts, as in the general outburst of multitudinous Passion, are huddled together; the ludicrous, nay the ridiculous, with the horrible. Far over the billowy sea of heads, may be seen Rascality, caprioling on horses from the Royal Stud. The Spoilers these; for Patriotism is always infected so, with a proportion of mere thieves and scoundrels. Gondran snatched their prey from them in the Château; whereupon they hurried to the Stables, and took horse there. But the generous Diomedes’ steeds, according to Weber, disdained such scoundrel-burden; and, flinging up their royal heels, did soon project most of it, in parabolic curves, to a distance, amid peals of laughter; and were caught. Mounted National Guards secured the rest.

Now too is witnessed the touching last-flicker of Etiquette; which sinks not here, in the Cimmerian World-wreckage, without a sign; as the house-cricket might still chirp in the pealing of a Trump of Doom. “Monsieur,” said some Master of Ceremonies (one hopes it might be De Brézé), as Lafayette, in these fearful moments, was rushing towards the inner Royal Apartments, “Monsieur, le Roi vous accorde les grandes entrées, Monsieur, the King grants you the Grand Entries,”—not finding it convenient to refuse them![259]

Chapter XI: From Versailles

However, the Paris National Guard, wholly under arms, has cleared the Palace, and even occupies the nearer external spaces; extruding miscellaneous Patriotism, for most part, into the Grand Court, or even into the Forecourt.

The Bodyguards, you can observe, have now of a verity “hoisted the National Cockade”: for they step forward to the windows or balconies, hat aloft in hand, on each hat a huge tricolor; and fling over their bandoleers in sign of surrender; and shout Vive la Nation. To which how can the generous heart respond but with, Vive le Roi; vivent les Gardes-du-Corps? His Majesty himself has appeared with Lafayette on the balcony, and again appears: Vive le Roi greets him from all throats; but also from some one throat is heard, “Le Roi à Paris, The King to Paris!”

Her Majesty too, on demand, shows herself, though there is peril in it: she steps out on the balcony, with her little boy and girl. “No children, Point d’enfans!” cry the voices. She gently pushes back her children; and stands alone, her hands serenely crossed on her breast: “should I die,” she had said, “I will do it.” Such serenity of heroism has its effect. Lafayette, with ready wit, in his highflown chivalrous way, takes that fair queenly hand, and, reverently kneeling, kisses it: thereupon the people do shout Vive la Reine. Nevertheless, poor Weber “saw” (or even thought he saw; for hardly the third part of poor Weber’s experiences, in such hysterical days, will stand scrutiny) “one of these brigands level his musket at her Majesty,”—with or without intention to shoot; for another of the brigands “angrily struck it down.”

So that all, and the Queen herself, nay the very Captain of the Bodyguards, have grown National! The very Captain of the Bodyguards steps out now with Lafayette. On the hat of the repentant man is an enormous tricolor; large as a soup-platter, or sunflower; visible to the utmost Forecourt. He takes the National Oath with a loud voice, elevating his hat; at which sight all the army raise their bonnets on their bayonets, with shouts. Sweet is reconcilement to the heart of man. Lafayette has sworn Flandre; he swears the remaining Bodyguards, down in the Marble Court; the people clasp them in their arms:—O my brothers, why would ye force us to slay you? Behold there is joy over you, as over returning prodigal sons!—The poor Bodyguards, now National and tricolor, exchange bonnets, exchange arms; there shall be peace and fraternity. And still “Vive le Roi”; and also “Le Roi à Paris,” not now from one throat, but from all throats as one, for it is the heart’s wish of all mortals.

Yes, The King to Paris: what else? Ministers may consult, and National Deputies wag their heads: but there is now no other possibility. You have forced him to go willingly. “At one o’clock!” Lafayette gives audible assurance to that purpose; and universal Insurrection, with immeasurable shout, and a discharge of all the fire-arms, clear and rusty, great and small, that it has, returns him acceptance. What a sound; heard for leagues: a doom-peal!—That sound too rolls away; into the Silence of Ages. And the Château of Versailles stands ever since vacant, hushed-still; its spacious Courts grassgrown, responsive to the hoe of the weeder. Times and generations roll on, in their confused Gulf-current; and buildings, like builders, have their destiny.

Till one o’clock, then, there will be three parties, National Assembly, National Rascality, National Royalty, all busy enough. Rascality rejoices; women trim themselves with tricolor. Nay motherly Paris has sent her Avengers sufficient “cartloads of loaves”; which are shouted over, which are gratefully consumed. The Avengers, in return, are searching for grain-stores; loading them in fifty wagons; that so a National King, probable harbinger of all blessings, may be the evident bringer of plenty, for one.

And thus has Sansculottism made prisoner its King; revoking his parole. The Monarchy has fallen; and not so much as honourably: no, ignominiously; with struggle, indeed, oft-repeated; but then with unwise struggle; wasting its strength in fits and paroxysms; at every new paroxysm foiled more pitifully than before. Thus Broglie’s whiff of grapeshot, which might have been something, has dwindled to the pot-valour of an Opera Repast, and O Richard, O mon Roi. Which again we shall see dwindle to a Favras’ Conspiracy, a thing to be settled by the hanging of one Chevalier.

Poor Monarchy! But what save foulest defeat can await that man, who wills, and yet wills not? Apparently the King either has a right, assertible as such to the death, before God and man; or else he has no right. Apparently, the one or the other; could he but know which! May heaven pity him! Were Louis wise, he would this day abdicate.—Is it not strange so few Kings abdicate; and none yet heard of has been known to commit suicide? Fritz the First, of Prussia, alone tried it; and they cut the rope.

As for the National Assembly, which decrees this morning that it “is inseparable from his Majesty,” and will follow him to Paris, there may one thing be noted: its extreme want of bodily health. After the Fourteenth of July there was a certain sickliness observable among honourable Members; so many demanding passports, on account of infirm health. But now, for these following days, there is a perfect murrain: President Mounier, Lally-Tollendal, Clermont Tonnere, and all Constitutional Two-Chamber Royalists needing change of air; as most No-Chamber Royalists had formerly done.

For, in truth, it is the second Emigration this that has now come; most extensive among Commons Deputies, Noblesse, Clergy: so that “to Switzerland alone there go sixty thousand.” They will return in the day of accounts! Yes, and have not welcome.—But Emigration on Emigration is the peculiarity of France. One Emigration follows another; grounded on—reasonable fear, unreasonable hope, largely also on childish pet. The highflyers have gone first, now the lower flyers; and ever the lower will go, down to the crawlers. Whereby, however, cannot our National Assembly so much the more commodiously make the Constitution; your Two-Chamber Anglomaniacs being all safe, distant on foreign shores? Abbé Maury is seized an sent back again: he, tough as tanned leather, with eloquent Captain Cazalès and some others, will stand it out for another year.

But here, meanwhile, the question arises: Was Philippe d’Orléans seen, this day, “in the Bois de Boulogne, in grey surtout”; waiting under the wet sere foliage, what the day might bring forth? Alas, yes, the Eidolon of him was,—in Weber’s and other such brains. The Châtelet shall make large inquisition into the matter, examining a hundred and seventy witnesses, and Deputy Chabroud publish his Report; but disclose nothing further.[260] What then has caused these two unparalleled October Days? For surely such dramatic exhibition never yet enacted itself without Dramatist and Machinist. Wooden Punch emerges not, with his domestic sorrows, into the light of day, unless the wire be pulled: how can human mobs? Was it not D’Orléans then, and Laclos, Marquis Sillery, Mirabeau and the sons of confusion; hoping to drive the King to Metz, and gather the spoil? Nay was it not, quite contrariwise, the Œil-de-Bœuf, Bodyguard Colonel de Guiche, Minister Saint-Priest and highflying Loyalists; hoping also to drive him to Metz, and try it by the sword of civil war? Good Marquis Toulongeon, the Historian and Deputy, feels constrained to admit that it was both.[261]

Alas, my Friends, credulous incredulity is a strange matter. But when a whole Nation is smitten with Suspicion, and sees a dramatic miracle in the very operation of the gastric juices, what help is there? Such Nation is already a mere hypochondriac bundle of diseases; as good as changed into glass; atrabiliar, decadent; and will suffer crises. Is not Suspicion itself the one thing to be suspected, as Montaigne feared only fear?

Now, however, the short hour has struck. His Majesty is in his carriage, with his Queen, sister Elizabeth, and two royal children. Not for another hour can the infinite Procession get marshalled and under way. The weather is dim drizzling; the mind confused; the noise great.

Processional marches not a few our world has seen; Roman triumphs and ovations, Cabiric cymbal-beatings, Royal progresses, Irish funerals; but this of the French Monarchy marching to its bed remained to be seen. Miles long, and of breadth losing itself in vagueness, for all the neighbouring country crowds to see. Slow; stagnating along, like shoreless Lake, yet with a noise like Niagara, like Babel and Bedlam. A splashing and a tramping; a hurrahing, uproaring, musket-volleying;—the truest segment of Chaos seen in these latter Ages! Till slowly it disembogue itself, in the thickening dusk, into expectant Paris, through a double row of faces all the way from Passy to the Hôtel-de-Ville.

Consider this: Vanguard of National troops; with trains of artillery; of pikemen and pikewomen, mounted on cannons, on carts, hackney-coaches, or on foot;—tripudiating, in tricolor ribbons from head to heel; loaves stuck on the points of bayonets, green boughs stuck in gun-barrels.[262]Next, as main-march, “fifty cart-loads of corn,” which have been lent, for peace, from the stores of Versailles. Behind which follow stragglers of the Garde-du-Corps; all humiliated, in Grenadier bonnets. Close on these comes the Royal Carriage; come Royal Carriages; for there are a Hundred National Deputies too, among whom sits Mirabeau,—his remarks not given. Then finally, pell-mell, as rearguard, Flandre, Swiss, Hundred Swiss, other Bodyguards, Brigands, whosoever cannot get before. Between and among all which masses, flows without limit Saint-Antoine, and the Menadic Cohort. Menadic especially about the Royal Carriage; tripudiating there, covered with tricolor; singing “allusive songs”; pointing with one hand to the Royal Carriage, which the allusions hit, and pointing to the Provision wagons with the other hand, and these words: “Courage, Friends! We shall not want bread now; we are bringing you the Baker, the Bakeress, and Baker’s Boy (le Boulanger, la Boulangère, et le petit Mitron).”[263]

The wet day draggles the tricolor, but the joy is unextinguishable. Is not all well now? “Ah, Madame, notre bonne Reine,” said some of these Strong-women some days hence, “Ah, Madame, our good Queen, don’t be a traitor any more (ne soyez plus traître), and we will all love you!” Poor Weber went splashing along, close by the Royal Carriage, with the tear in his eye: “their Majesties did me the honour,” or I thought they did it, “to testify, from time to time, by shrugging of the shoulders, by looks directed to Heaven, the emotions they felt.” Thus, like frail cockle, floats the royal Life-boat, helmless, on black deluges of Rascality.

Mercier, in his loose way, estimates the Procession and assistants at two hundred thousand. He says it was one boundless inarticulate Haha;— transcendent World-Laughter; comparable to the Saturnalia of the Ancients. Why not? Here too, as we said, is Human Nature once more human; shudder at it whoso is of shuddering humour: yet behold it is human. It has “swallowed all formulas”; it tripudiates even so. For which reason they that collect Vases and Antiques, with figures of Dancing Bacchantes “in wild and all but impossible positions,” may look with some interest on it.

Thus, however, has the slow-moving Chaos, or modern Saturnalia of the Ancients, reached the Barrier; and must halt, to be harangued by Mayor Bailly. Thereafter it has to lumber along, between the double row of faces, in the transcendent heaven-lashing Haha; two hours longer, towards the Hôtel-de-Ville. Then again to be harangued there, by several persons; by Moreau de Saint-Méry among others; Moreau of the Three-thousand orders, now National Deputy for St. Domingo. To all which poor Louis, “who seemed to experience a slight emotion” on entering this Townhall, can answer only that he “comes with pleasure, with confidence among his people.” Mayor Bailly, in reporting it, forgets “confidence”: and the poor Queen says eagerly: “Add, with confidence.”—“Messieurs,” rejoins Mayor Bailly, “you are happier than if I had not forgotten.”

Finally, the King is shown on an upper balcony, by torch-light, with a huge tricolor in his hat: “and all the people,” says Weber, “grasped one another’s hand”;—thinking now surely the New Era was born. Hardly till eleven at night can Royalty get to its vacant, long-deserted Palace of the Tuileries; to lodge there, somewhat in strolling-player fashion. It is Tuesday the sixth of October, 1789.

Poor Louis has Two other Paris Processions to make—one ludicrous ignominious like this; the other not ludicrous nor ignominious, but serious, nay sublime.

Part II: The Constitution


Book I: The Feast of Pikes

Chapter I: In the Tuileries

The victim having once got his stroke-of-grace, the catastrophe can be considered as almost come. There is small interest now in watching his long low moans: notable only are his sharper agonies, what convulsive struggles he may make to cast the torture off from him; and then finally the last departure of life itself, and how he lies extinct and ended, either wrapt like Caesar in decorous mantle-folds, or unseemly sunk together, like one that had not the force even to die.

Was French Royalty, when wrenched forth from its tapestries in that fashion, on that Sixth of October, 1789, such a victim? Universal France, and Royal Proclamation to all the Provinces, answers anxiously, No. Nevertheless one may fear the worst. Royalty was beforehand so decrepit, moribund, there is little life in it to heal an injury. How much of its strength, which was of the imagination merely, has fled; Rascality having looked plainly in the King’s face, and not died! When the assembled crows can pluck up their scarecrow, and say to it, Here shalt thou stand and not there; and can treat with it, and make it, from an infinite, a quite finite Constitutional scarecrow,— what is to be looked for? Not in the finite Constitutional scarecrow, but in what still unmeasured, infinite-seeming force may rally round it, is there thenceforth any hope. For it is most true that all available Authority is mystic in its conditions, and comes “by the grace of God.”

Cheerfuller than watching the death-struggles of Royalism will it be to watch the growth and gambollings of Sansculottism; for, in human things, especially in human society, all death is but a death-birth: thus if the sceptre is departing from Louis, it is only that, in other forms, other sceptres, were it even pike-sceptres, may bear sway. In a prurient element, rich with nutritive influences, we shall find that Sansculottism grows lustily, and even frisks in not ungraceful sport: as indeed most young creatures are sportful; nay, may it not be noted further, that as the grown cat, and cat-species generally, is the cruellest thing known, so the merriest is precisely the kitten, or growing cat?

But fancy the Royal Family risen from its truckle-beds on the morrow of that mad day: fancy the Municipal inquiry, “How would your Majesty please to lodge?”—and then that the King’s rough answer, “Each may lodge as he can, I am well enough,” is congeed and bowed away, in expressive grins, by the Townhall Functionaries, with obsequious upholsterers at their back; and how the Château of the Tuileries is repainted, regarnished into a golden Royal Residence; and Lafayette with his blue National Guards lies encompassing it, as blue Neptune (in the language of poets) does an island, wooingly. Thither may the wrecks of rehabilitated Loyalty gather, if it will become Constitutional; for Constitutionalism thinks no evil; Sansculottism itself rejoices in the King’s countenance. The rubbish of a Menadic Insurrection, as in this ever-kindly world all rubbish can and must be, is swept aside; and so again, on clear arena, under new conditions, with something even of a new stateliness, we begin a new course of action.

Arthur Young has witnessed the strangest scene: Majesty walking unattended in the Tuileries Gardens; and miscellaneous tricolor crowds, who cheer it, and reverently make way for it: the very Queen commands at lowest respectful silence, regretful avoidance.[264]Simple ducks, in those royal waters, quackle for crumbs from young royal fingers: the little Dauphin has a little railed garden, where he is seen delving, with ruddy cheeks and flaxen curled hair; also a little hutch to put his tools in, and screen himself against showers. What peaceable simplicity! Is it peace of a Father restored to his children? Or of a Taskmaster who has lost his whip? Lafayette and the Municipality and universal Constitutionalism assert the former, and do what is in them to realize it. Such Patriotism as snarls dangerously and shows teeth, Patrollotism shall suppress; or far better, Royalty shall soothe down the angry hair of it, by gentle pattings; and, most effectual of all, by fuller diet. Yes, not only shall Paris be fed, but the King’s hand be seen in that work. The household goods of the Poor shall, up to a certain amount, by royal bounty, be disengaged from pawn, and that insatiable Mont de Pieté shall disgorge; rides in the city with their Vive-le-Roi need not fail: and so by substance and show, shall Royalty, if man’s art can popularize it, be popularized.[265]

Or, alas, is it neither restored Father nor diswhipped Taskmaster that walks there; but an anomalous complex of both these, and of innumerable other heterogeneities: reducible to no rubric, if not to this newly devised one: King Louis Restorer of French Liberty? Man indeed, and King Louis like other men, lives in this world to make rule out of the ruleless; by his living energy, he shall force the absurd itself to become less absurd. But then if there be no living energy; living passivity only? King Serpent, hurled into its unexpected watery dominion, did at least bite, and assert credibly that he was there: but as for the poor King Log, tumbled hither and thither as thousandfold chance and other will than his might direct, how happy for him that he was indeed wooden; and, doing nothing, could also see and suffer nothing! It is a distracted business.

For his French Majesty, meanwhile, one of the worst things is, that he can get no hunting. Alas, no hunting henceforth; only a fatal being-hunted! Scarcely, in the next June weeks, shall he taste again the joys of the game-destroyer; in next June, and never more. He sends for his smith-tools; gives, in the course of the day, official or ceremonial business being ended, “a few strokes of the file, quelques coups de lime.”[266]Innocent brother mortal, why wert thou not an obscure substantial maker of locks; but doomed in that other farseen craft, to be a maker only of world-follies, unrealities; things self-destructive, which no mortal hammering could rivet into coherence!

Poor Louis is not without insight, not even without the elements of will; some sharpness of temper, spurting at times from a stagnating character. If harmless inertness could save him, it were well; but he will slumber and painfully dream, and to do aught is not given him. Royalist Antiquarians still show the rooms where Majesty and suite, in these extraordinary circumstances, had their lodging. Here sat the Queen; reading,—for she had her library brought hither, though the King refused his; taking vehement counsel of the vehement uncounselled; sorrowing over altered times; yet with sure hope of better: in her young rosy Boy has she not the living emblem of hope! It is a murky, working sky; yet with golden gleams—of dawn, or of deeper meteoric night? Here again this chamber, on the other side of the main entrance, was the King’s: here his Majesty breakfasted, and did official work; here daily after breakfast he received the Queen; sometimes in pathetic friendliness; sometimes in human sulkiness, for flesh is weak; and when questioned about business, would answer: “Madame, your business is with the children.” Nay, Sire, were it not better you, your Majesty’s self, took the children? So asks impartial History; scornful that the thicker vessel was not also the stronger; pity-struck for the porcelain-clay of humanity rather than for the tile-clay,—though indeed both were broken!

So, however, in this Medicean Tuileries, shall the French King and Queen now sit for one-and-forty months; and see a wild-fermenting France work out its own destiny, and theirs. Months bleak, ungenial, of rapid vicissitude; yet with a mild pale splendour, here and there: as of an April that were leading to leafiest Summer; as of an October that led only to everlasting Frost. Medicean Tuileries, how changed since it was a peaceful Tile-field! Or is the ground itself fate-stricken, accursed; an Atreus’ Palace; for that Louvre window is still nigh, out of which a Capet, whipt of the Furies, fired his signal of the Saint Bartholomew! Dark is the way of the Eternal as mirrored in this world of Time: God’s way is in the sea, and His path in the great deep.

Chapter II: In the Salle De Manége

To believing Patriots, however, it is now clear, that the Constitution will march, marcher,—had it once legs to stand on. Quick, then, ye Patriots, bestir yourselves and make it; shape legs for it! In the Archevêché, or Archbishop’s Palace, his Grace himself having fled; and afterwards in the Riding-hall, named Manége, close on the Tuileries: there does a National Assembly apply itself to the miraculous work. Successfully, had there been any heaven-scaling Prometheus among them; not successfully, since there was none! There, in noisy debate, for the sessions are occasionally “scandalous,” and as many as three speakers have been seen in the Tribune at once,—let us continue to fancy it wearing the slow months.

Tough, dogmatic, long of wind is Abbé Maury; Ciceronian pathetic is Cazalès. Keen-trenchant, on the other side, glitters a young Barnave; abhorrent of sophistry; sheering, like keen Damascus sabre, all sophistry asunder,—reckless what else he sheer with it. Simple seemest thou, O solid Dutch-built Pétion; if solid, surely dull. Nor lifegiving is that tone of thine, livelier polemical Rabaut. With ineffable serenity sniffs great Sieyes, aloft, alone; his Constitution ye may babble over, ye may mar, but can by no possibility mend: is not Polity a science he has exhausted? Cool, slow, two military Lameths are visible, with their quality sneer, or demi-sneer; they shall gallantly refund their Mother’s Pension, when the Red Book is produced; gallantly be wounded in duels. A Marquis Toulongeon, whose Pen we yet thank, sits there; in stoical meditative humour, oftenest silent, accepts what Destiny will send. Thouret and Parlementary Duport produce mountains of Reformed Law; liberal, Anglomaniac; available and unavailable. Mortals rise and fall. Shall goose Gobel, for example,—or Göbel, for he is of Strasburg German breed,—be a Constitutional Archbishop?

Alone of all men there, Mirabeau may begin to discern clearly whither all this is tending. Patriotism, accordingly, regrets that his zeal seems to be getting cool. In that famed Pentecost-Night of the Fourth of August, when new Faith rose suddenly into miraculous fire, and old Feudality was burnt up, men remarked that Mirabeau took no hand in it; that, in fact, he luckily happened to be absent. But did he not defend the Veto, nay Veto Absolu; and tell vehement Barnave that six hundred irresponsible senators would make of all tyrannies the insupportablest? Again, how anxious was he that the King’s Ministers should have seat and voice in the National Assembly;—doubtless with an eye to being Minister himself ! Whereupon the National Assembly decides, what is very momentous, that no Deputy shall be Minister; he, in his haughty stormful manner, advising us to make it, “no deputy called Mirabeau.”[267] A man of perhaps inveterate Feudalisms; of stratagems; too often visible leanings towards the Royalist side: a man suspect; whom Patriotism will unmask! Thus, in these June days, when the question, Who shall have right to declare war? comes on, you hear hoarse Hawkers sound dolefully through the streets, “Grand Treason of Count Mirabeau, price only one sou”;—because he pleads that it shall be not the Assembly, but the King! Pleads; nay prevails: for in spite of the hoarse Hawkers, and an endless Populace raised by them to the pitch even of “Lanterne,” he mounts the Tribune next day; grim-resolute; murmuring aside to his friends that speak of danger: “I know it: I must come hence either in triumph, or else torn in fragments”: and it was in triumph that he came.

A man stout of heart; whose popularity is not of the populace, “pas populacière”; whom no clamour of unwashed mobs without doors, or of washed mobs within, can scare from his way! Dumont remembers hearing him deliver a Report on Marseilles; “every word was interrupted on the part of the Côté Droit by abusive epithets; calumniator, liar, assassin, scoundrel (scélérat): Mirabeau pauses a moment, and, in a honeyed tone, addressing the most furious, says ‘I wait, Messieurs, till these amenities be exhausted.’ ”[268] A man enigmantic, difficult to unmask! For example, whence comes his money? Can the profit of a Newspaper, sorely eaten into by Dame Le Jay; can this, and the eighteen francs a-day your National Deputy has, be supposed equal to this expenditure? House in the Chaussée d’Antin; Country-house at Argenteuil; splendours, sumptuosities, orgies; living as if he had a mint! All saloons, barred against Adventurer Mirabeau, are flung wide-open to King Mirabeau, the cynosure of Europe, whom female France flutters to behold,—though the Man Mirabeau is one and the same. As for money, one may conjecture that Royalism furnishes it; which if Royalism do, will not the same be welcome, as money always is to him?

“Sold,” whatever Patriotism thinks, he cannot readily be: the spiritual fire which is in that man; which shining through such confusions is nevertheless Conviction, and makes him strong, and without which he had no strength,—is not buyable nor saleable; in such transference of barter, it would vanish and not be. Perhaps “paid and not sold, payé pas vendu”: as poor Rivarol, in the unhappier converse way, calls himself “sold and not paid”! A man travelling, comet-like, in splendour and nebulosity, his wild way; whom telescopic Patriotism may long watch, but, without higher mathematics, will not make out. A questionable, most blameable man; yet to us the far notablest of all. With rich munificence, as we often say, in a most blinkered, bespectacled, logic-chopping generation, Nature has gifted this man with an eye. Welcome is his word, there where he speaks and works; and growing ever welcomer; for it alone goes to the heart of the business: logical cob-webbery shrinks itself together; and thou seest a thing, how it is, how it may be worked with.

Unhappily our National Assembly has much to do: a France to regenerate; and France is short of so many requisites, short even of cash. These same Finances give trouble enough; no choking of the Deficit; which gapes ever, Give, give! To appease the Deficit we venture on a hazardous step, sale of the Clergy’s Lands and superfluous Edifices; most hazardous. Nay, given the sale, who is to buy them, ready-money having fled? Wherefore, on the 19th day of December, a paper-money of “Assignats,” of Bonds secured, or assigned, on that Clerico-National Property, and unquestionable at least in payment of that,—is decreed: the first of a long series of like financial performances, which shall astonish mankind. So that now, while old rags last, there shall be no lack of circulating medium: whether of commodities to circulate thereon, is another question. But, after all, does not this Assignat business speak volumes for modern science? Bankruptcy, we may say, was come, as the end of all Delusions needs must come: yet how gently, in softening diffusion, in mild succession, was it hereby made to fall;—like no all-destroying avalanche; like gentle showers of a powdery impalpable snow, shower after shower, till all was indeed buried, and yet little was destroyed that could not be replaced, be dispensed with! To such length has modern machinery reached. Bankruptcy, we said, was great; but indeed Money itself is a standing miracle.

On the whole, it is a matter of endless difficulty, that of the Clergy. Clerical property may be made the Nation’s, and the Clergy hired servants of the State; but if so, is it not an altered Church? Adjustment enough, of the most confused sort, has become unavoidable. Old landmarks, in any sense, avail not in a new France. Nay literally, the very Ground is new divided; your old parti-coloured Provinces become new uniform Departments, Eighty-three in number;—whereby, as in some sudden shifting of the Earth’s axis, no mortal knows his new latitude at once. The Twelve old Parlements too, what is to be done with them? The old Parlements are declared to be all “in permanent vacation,”— till once the new equal-justice, of Departmental Courts, National Appeal-Court, of elective Justices, Justices of Peace, and other Thouret-and-Duport apparatus be got ready. They have to sit there, these old Parlements, uneasily waiting; as it were, with the rope round their neck; crying as they can, Is there none to deliver us? But happily the answer being, None, none, they are a manageable class, these Parlements. They can be bullied, even, into silence; the Paris Parlement, wiser than most, has never whimpered. They will and must sit there; in such vacation as is fit; their Chamber of Vacation distributes in the interim what little justice is going. With the rope round their neck, their destiny may be succinct! On the 13th of November, 1790, Mayor Bailly shall walk to the Palais de Justice, few even heeding him; and with municipal seal-stamp and a little hot wax, seal up the Parlementary Paper-rooms,—and the dread Parlement of Paris pass away, into Chaos, gently as does a Dream! So shall the Parlements perish, succinctly; and innumerable eyes be dry.

Not so the Clergy. For granting even that Religion were dead; that it had died, half-centuries ago, with unutterable Dubois; or emigrated lately to Alsace, with Necklace-Cardinal Rohan; or that it now walked as goblin revenant, with Bishop Talleyrand of Autun; yet does not the shadow of Religion, the Cant of Religion, still linger? The Clergy have means and material: means, of number, organization, social weight; a material, at lowest, of public ignorance, known to be the mother of devotion. Nay, withal, is it incredible that there might, in simple hearts, latent here and there like gold-grains in the mud-beach, still dwell some real Faith in God, of so singular and tenacious a sort that even a Maury or a Talleyrand could still be the symbol for it?—Enough, the Clergy has strength, the Clergy has craft and indignation. It is a most fatal business this of the Clergy. A weltering hydra-coil, which the National Assembly has stirred up about its ears; hissing, stinging; which cannot be appeased, alive; which cannot be trampled dead! Fatal, from first to last! Scarcely after fifteen months’ debating, can a Civil Constitu tion of the Clergy be so much as got to paper; and then for getting it into reality? Alas, such Civil Constitution is but an agreement to disagree. It divides France from end to end, with a new split, infinitely complicating all the other splits:—Catholicism, what of it there is left, with the Cant of Catholicism, raging on the one side, and sceptic Heathenism on the other; both, by contradiction, waxing fanatic. What endless jarring, of Refractory hated Priests, and Constitutional despised ones; of tender consciences, like the King’s, and consciences hot-seared, like certain of his People’s: the whole to end in Feasts of Reason and a War of La Vendée! So deep-seated is Religion in the heart of man, and holds of all infinite passions. If the dead echo of it still did so much, what could not the living voice of it once do?

Finance and Constitution, Law and Gospel: this surely were work enough; yet this is not all. In fact, the Ministry, and Necker himself, whom a brass inscription, “fastened by the people over his door-lintel,” testifies to be the “Ministre adoré,” are dwindling into clearer and clearer nullity. Execution or legislation, arrangement or detail, from their nerveless fingers all drops undone; all lights at last on the toiled shoulders of an august Representative Body. heavy-laden National Assembly! It has to hear of innumerable fresh revolts, Brigand expeditions; of Châteaus in the West, especially of Charter-chests, Chartiers, set on fire; for there too the overloaded Ass frightfully recalcitrates. Of Cities in the South full of heats and jealousies; which will end in crossed sabres, Marseilles against Toulon, and Carpentras beleaguered by Avignon;—of so much Royalist collision in a career of Freedom; nay of Patriot collision, which a mere difference of velocity will bring about! Of a Jourdan Coup-tête, who has skulked thitherward, to those southern regions, from the claws of the Châtelet; and will raise whole scoundrel-regiments.

Also it has to hear of Royalist Camp of Jalès: Jalès mountain-girdled Plain, amid the rocks of the Cevennes; whence Royalism, as is feared and hoped, may dash down like a mountain deluge, and submerge France! A singular thing this Camp of Jalès; existing mostly on paper. For the Soldiers at Jalès, being peasants or National Guards, were in heart sworn Sansculottes; and all that the Royalist Captains could do was, with false words, to keep them, or rather keep the report of them, drawn up there, visible to all imaginations, for a terror and a sign,—if peradventure France might be re-conquered by theatrical machinery, by the picture of a Royalist Army done to the life![269] Not till the third summer was this portent, burning out by fits and then fading, got finally extinguished; was the old Castle of Jalès, no Camp being visible to the bodily eye, got blown asunder by some National Guards.

Also it has to hear not only of Brissot and his Friends of the Blacks, but by and by of a whole St. Domingo blazing skyward; blazing in literal fire, and in far worse metaphorical; beaconing the nightly main. Also of the shipping interest, and the landed interest, and all manner of interests, reduced to distress. Of Industry everywhere manacled, bewildered; and only Rebellion thriving. Of sub-officers, soldiers, and sailors in mutiny by land and water. Of soldiers, at Nanci, as we shall see, needing to be cannonaded by a brave Bouillé. Of sailors, nay the very galley-slaves, at Brest, needing also to be cannonaded, but with no Bouillé to do it. For indeed, to say it in a word, in those days there was no King in Israel, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes.[270]

Such things has an august National Assembly to hear of, as it goes on regenerating France. Sad and stern: but what remedy? Get the Constitution ready; and all men will swear to it: for do not “Addresses of adhesion” arrive by the cartload? In this manner, by Heaven’s blessing, and a Constitution got ready, shall the bottomless fire-gulf be vaulted in, with rag-paper; and Order will wed Freedom, and live with her there,—till it grow too hot for them. O Côté Gauche, worthy are ye, as the adhesive Addresses generally say, to “fix the regards of the Universe”; the regards of this one poor Planet, at lowest!—

Nay, it must be owned, the Côté Droit makes a still madder figure. An irrational generation; irrational, imbecile, and with the vehement obstinacy characteristic of that; a generation which will not learn. Falling Bastilles, Insurrections of Women, thousands of smoking Manor-houses, a country bristling with no crop but that of Sansculottic steel: these were tolerably didactic lessons; but them they have not taught. There are still men, of whom it was of old written, Bray them in a mortar! Or, in milder language, They have wedded their delusions: fire nor steel, nor any sharpness of Experience, shall sever the bond; till death do us part! On such may the Heavens have mercy; for the Earth, with her rigorous Necessity, will have none.

Admit, at the same time, that it was most natural. Man lives by Hope: Pandora, when her box of gods’-gifts flew all out, and became gods’-curses, still retained Hope. How shall an irrational mortal, when his high-place is never so evidently pulled down, and he, being irrational, is left resourceless,—part with the belief that it will be rebuilt? It would make all so straight again; it seems so unspeakably desirable; so reasonable,—would you but look at it aright! For, must not the thing which was continue to be; or else the solid World dissolve? Yes, persist, O infatuated Sansculottes of France! Revolt against constituted Authorities; hunt out your rightful Seigneurs, who at bottom so loved you, and readily shed their blood for you,—in country’s battles as at Rossbach and elsewhere; and, even in preserving game, were preserving you, could ye but have understood it: hunt them out, as if they were wild wolves; set fire to their Châteaus and Chartiers as to wolf-dens; and what then? Why, then turn every man his hand against his fellow! In confusion, famine, desolation, regret the days that are gone; rueful recall them, recall us with them. To repentant prayers we will not be deaf.

So, with dimmer or clearer consciousness, must the Right Side reason and act. An inevitable position perhaps; but a most false one for them. Evil, be thou our good: this henceforth must virtually be their prayer. The fiercer the effervescence grows, the sooner will it pass; for, after all, it is but some mad effervescence; the World is solid, and cannot dissolve.

For the rest, if they have any positive industry, it is that of plots, and backstairs conclaves. Plots which cannot be executed; which are mostly theoretic on their part;—for which nevertheless this and the other practical Sieur Augeard, Seiur Maillebois, Sieur Bonne Savardin, gets into trouble, gets imprisoned, and escapes with difficulty. Nay there is a poor practical Chevalier Favras, who, not without some passing reflex on Monsieur himself, gets hanged for them, amid loud uproar of the world. Poor Favras, he keeps dictating his last will “at the Hôtel-de-Ville, through the whole remainder of the day,” a weary February day; offers to reveal secrets, if they will save him; handsomely declines since they will not; then dies, in the flare of torchlight, with politest composure; remarking, rather than exclaiming, with outspread hands: “People, I die innocent; pray for me.”[271] Poor Favras;—type of so much that has prowled indefatigable over France, in days now ending; and, in freer field, might have earned instead of prowling,—to thee it is no theory!

In the Senate-house again, the attitude of the Right Side is that of calm unbelief. Let an august National Assembly make a Fourth-of-August Abolition of Feudality; declare the Clergy State-servants, who shall have wages; vote Suspensive Vetos, new Law-Courts; vote or decree what contested thing it will; have it responded to from the four corners of France, nay get King’s sanction, and what other Acceptance were conceivable,—the Right Side, as we find, persists, with imperturbablest tenacity, in considering, and ever and anon shows that it still considers, all these so-called Decrees as mere temporary whims, which indeed stand on paper, but in practice and fact are not, and cannot be. Figure the brass head of an Abbé Maury flooding forth jesuitic eloquence in this strain; dusky D’Espréménil, Barrel Mirabeau (probably in liquor), and enough of others, cheering him from the Right; and, for example, with what visage a sea-green Robespierre eyes him from the Left. And how Sieyes ineffably sniffs on him, or does not deign to sniff; and how the Galleries groan in spirit, or bark rabid on him: so that to escape the Lanterne, on stepping forth, he needs presence of mind, and a pair of pistols in his girdle! For he is one of the toughest of men.

Here indeed becomes notable one great difference between our two kinds of civil war; between the modern lingual or Parliamentary-logical kind, and the ancient or manual kind in the steel battlefield;— much to the disadvantage of the former. In the manual kind, where you front your foe with drawn weapon, one right stroke is final; for, physically speaking, when the brains are out the man does honestly die, and trouble you no more. But how different when it is with arguments you fight! Here no victory yet definable can be considered as final. Beat him down with Parliamentary invective, till sense be fled; cut him in two, hanging one half on this dilemma-horn, the other on that; blow the brains or thinking-faculty quite out of him for the time: it skills not; he rallies and revives on the morrow; to-morrow he repairs his golden fires! The thing that will logically extinguish him is perhaps still a desideratum in Constitutional civilization. For how, till a man know, in some measure, at what point he becomes logically defunct, can Parliamentary Business be carried on, and Talk cease or slake?

Doubtless it was some feeling of this difficulty; and the clear insight how little such knowledge yet existed in the French Nation, new in the Constitutional career, and how defunct Aristocrats would continue to walk for unlimited periods, as Partridge the Almanac-maker did,— that had sunk into the deep mind of People’s-friend Marat, an eminently practical mind; and had grown there, in that richest putrescent soil, into the most original plan of action ever submitted to a People. Not yet has it grown; but it has germinated, it is growing; rooting itself into Tartarus, branching towards Heaven: the second season hence, we shall see it risen out of the bottomless Darkness, full grown, into disastrous Twilight,—a Hemlock-tree, great as the world; on or under whose boughs all the People’s-friends of the world may lodge. “Two hundred and Sixty thousand Aristocrat heads”: that is the precisest calculation, though one would not stand on a few hundred; yet we never rise as high as the round three hundred thousand. Shudder at it, O People; but it is as true as that ye yourselves, and your Peoples-friend, are alive. These prating Senators of yours hover ineffectual on the barren letter, and will never save the Revolution. A Cassandra-Marat cannot do it, with his single shrunk arm; but with a few determined men it were possible. “Give me,” said the People’s-friend, in his cold way, when young Barbaroux, once his pupil in a course of what was called Optics, went to see him, “Give me two hundred Naples-Bravoes, armed each with a good dirk, and a muff on his left arm by way of shield: with them I will traverse France, and accomplish the Revolution.”[272] Nay, be grave, young Barbaroux; for thou seest, there is no jesting in those rheumy eyes, in that soot-bleared figure, most earnest of created things; neither indeed is there madness, of the strait-waistcoat sort.

Such produce shall the Time ripen in cavernous Marat, the man forbid; living in Paris cellars, lone as fanatic Anchorite, in his Thebaid; say, as far-seen Simon on his Pillar,—taking peculiar views therefrom. Patriots may smile; and, using him as bandog now to be muzzled, now to be let bark, name him, as Desmoulins does, “Maximum of Patriotism” and “Cassandra-Marat”: but were it not singular if this dirk-and-muff plan of his (with superficial modifications) proved to be precisely the plan adopted?

After this manner, in these circumstances, do august Senators regenerate France. Nay, they are, in very deed, believed to be regenerating it; on account of which great fact, main fact of their history, the wearied eye can never be permitted wholly to ignore them.

But, looking away now from these precincts of the Tuileries, where Constitutional Royalty, let Lafayette water it as he will, languishes too like a cut branch; and august Senators are perhaps at bottom only perfecting their “theory of defective verbs,”—how does the young Reality, young Sansculottism thrive? The attentive observer can answer: it thrives bravely; putting forth new buds; expanding the old buds into leaves, into boughs. Is not French Existence, as before, most prurient, all loosened, most nutrient for it? Sansculottism has the property of growing by what other things die of: by agitation, contention, disarrangement; nay in a word, by what is the symbol and fruit of all these: Hunger.

In such a France as this, Hunger, as we have remarked, can hardly fail. The Provinces, the Southern Cities feel it in their turn; and what it brings: Exasperation, preternatural Suspicion. In Paris some halcyon days of abundance followed the Menadic Insurrection, with its Versailles grain-carts, and recovered Restorer of Liberty; but they could not continue. The month is still October, when famishing Saint-Antoine, in a moment of passion, seizes a poor Baker, innocent “François the Baker”;[273]and hangs him, in Constantinople wise;—but even this, singular as it may seem, does not cheapen bread! Too clear it is, no Royal bounty, no Municipal dexterity can adequately feed a Bastille-destroying Paris. Wherefore, on view of the hanged Baker, Constitutionalism in sorrow and anger demands “Loi Martiale,” a kind of Riot Act;—and indeed gets it most readily, almost before the sun goes down.

This is that famed Martial Law, with its Red Flag, its “Drapeau Rouge,” in virtue of which Mayor Bailly, or any Mayor, has but henceforth to hang out that new Oriflamme of his; then to read or mumble something about the King’s peace; and, after certain pauses, serve any undispersing Assemblage with musket-shot, or whatever shot will disperse it. A decisive Law; and most just on one proviso; that all Patrollotism be of God, and all mob-assembling be of the Devil;—otherwise not so just. Mayor Bailly, be unwilling to use it! Hang not out that new Oriflamme, flame not of gold but of the want of gold! The thrice-blessed Revolution is done, thou thinkest? If so, it will be well with thee.

But now let no mortal say henceforth that an august National Assembly wants riot: all it ever wanted was riot enough to balance Court-plotting; all it now wants, of Heaven or of Earth, is to get its theory of defective verbs perfected.

Chapter III: The Muster

With Famine and a Constitutional theory of defective verbs going on, all other excitement is conceivable. A universal shaking and sifting of French Existence this is: in the course of which, for one thing, what a multitude of low-lying figures are sifted to the top, and set busily to work there!

Dogleech Marat, now far-seen as Simon Stylites, we already know; him and others, raised aloft. The mere sample these, of what is coming, of what continues coming, upwards from the realm of Night!— Chaumette, by and by Anaxagoras Chaumette, one already descries: mellifluous in street-groups; not now a seaboy on the high and giddy mast: a mellifluous tribune of the common people, with long curling locks, on bournestone of the thoroughfares; able sub-editor too; who shall rise,—to the very gallows. Clerk Tallien, he also is become sub-editor; shall become able-editor; and more. Bibliopolic Momoro, Typographic Prudhomme see new trades opening. Collot d’Herbois, tearing a passion to rags, pauses on the Thespian boards; listens, with that black bushy head, to the sound of the world’s drama: shall the Mimetic become Real? Did ye hiss him, O men of Lyons?[274]Better had ye clapped!

Happy now, indeed, for all manner of mimetic, half-original men! Tumid blustering, with more or less of sincerity, which need not be entirely sincere, yet the sincerer the better, is like to go far. Shall we say, the Revolution-element works itself rarer and rarer; so that only lighter and lighter bodies will float in it; till at last the mere blown-bladder is your only swimmer? Limitation of mind, then vehemence, promptitude, audacity, shall all be available; to which add only these two: cunning and good lungs. Good fortune must be presupposed. Accordingly, of all classes the rising one, we observe, is now the Attorney class: witness Bazires, Carriers, Fouquier-Tinvilles, Basoche-Captain Bourdons: more than enough. Such figures shall Night, from her wonder-bearing bosom, emit; swarm after swarm. Of another deeper and deepest swarm, not yet dawned on the astonished eye; of pilfering Candle-snuffers, Thief-valets, disfrocked Capuchins, and so many Héberts, Henriots, Ronsins, Rossignols, let us, as long as possible, forbear speaking.

Thus, over France, all stirs that has what the Physiologists call irritability in it; how much more all wherein irritability has perfected itself into vitality, into actual vision, and force that can will! All stirs; and if not in Paris, flocks thither. Great and greater waxes President Danton in his Cordeliers Section; his rhetorical tropes are all “gigantic”; energy flashes from his black brows, menaces in his athletic figure, rolls in the sound of his voice “reverberating from the domes”: this man also, like Mirabeau, has a natural eye, and begins to see whither Constitutionalism is tending, though with a wish in it different from Mirabeau’s.

Remark, on the other hand, how General Dumouriez has quitted Normandy and the Cherbourg Breakwater, to come—whither we may guess. It is his second or even third trial at Paris, since this New Era began! but now it is in right earnest, for he has quitted all else. Wiry, elastic, unwearied man; whose life was but a battle and a march! No, not a creature of Choiseul’s; “the creature of God and of my sword,”—he fiercely answered in old days. Overfalling Corsican batteries, in the deadly fire-hail; wriggling invincible from under his horse, at Closterkamp of the Netherlands, though tethered with “crushed stirrup-iron and nineteen wounds”; tough, minatory, standing at bay, as forlorn hope, on the skirts of Poland; intriguing, battling in cabinet and field; roaming far out, obscure, as King’s spial, or sitting sealed up, enchanted in Bastille; fencing, pamphleteering, scheming and struggling from the very birth of him,[275]—the man has come thus far. How repressed, how irrepressible! Like some incarnate spirit in prison, which indeed he was; hewing on granite walls for deliverance: striking fireflashes from them. And now has the general earthquake rent his cavern too? Twenty years younger, what might he not have done! But his hair has a shade of grey; his way of thought is all fixed, military. He can grow no further, and the new world is in such growth. We will name him, on the whole, one of Heaven’s Swiss; without faith; wanting above all things work, work on any side. Work also is appointed him; and he will do it.

Not from over France only are the unrestful flocking towards Paris; but from all sides of Europe. Where the carcass is, thither will the eagles gather. Think how many a Spanish Guzman, Martinico Fournier named “Fournier l’Américain,” Engineer Miranda from the very Andes, were flocking or had flocked. Walloon Pereyra might boast of the strangest parentage: him, they say, Prince Kaunitz the Diplomatist heedlessly dropped; like ostrich-egg, to be hatched of Chance,—into an ostrich-eater! Jewish or German Freys do business in the great Cesspool of Agio; which Cesspool this Assignat-fiat has quickened, into a Mother of dead dogs. Swiss Clavière could found no Socinian Genevese Colony in Ireland; but he paused, years ago, prophetic, before the Minister’s Hôtel at Paris; and said, it was borne on his mind that he one day was to be Minister, and laughed.[276] Swiss Pache, on the other hand, sits sleekheaded, frugal; the wonder of his own alley, and even of neighbouring ones, for humility of mind, and a thought deeper than most men’s: sit there, Tartuffe, till wanted! Ye Italian Dufournys, Flemish Prolys, flit hither all ye bipeds of prey! Come whosesoever head is hot; thou of mind ungoverned, be it chaos as of undevelopment or chaos as of ruin; the man who cannot get known, the man who is too well known; if thou have any vendible faculty, nay if thou have but edacity and loquacity, come! They come; with hot unutterabilities in their heart; as Pilgrims towards a miraculous shrine. Nay how many come as vacant Strollers, aimless, of whom Europe is full, merely towards something! For benighted fowls, when you beat their bushes, rush towards any light. Thus Frederick Baron Trenck too is here; mazed, purblind, from the cells of Magdeburg; Minotauric cells, and his Ariadne lost! Singular to say, Trenck, in these years, sells wine; not indeed in bottle, but in wood.

Nor is our England without her missionaries. She has her life-saving Needham;[277]to whom was solemnly presented a “civic sword,”— long since rusted into nothingness. Her Paine: rebellious Staymaker; unkempt; who feels that he, a single Needleman, did, by his Common Sense Pamphlet, free America;—that he can and will free all this World; perhaps even the other. Price-Stanhope Constitutional Association sends over to congratulate;[278]welcomed by National Assembly, though they are but a London Club; whom Burke and Toryism eye askance.

On thee too, for country’s sake, O Chevalier John Paul, be a word spent, or misspent! In faded naval uniform, Paul Jones lingers visible here; like a wineskin from which the wine is all drawn. Like the ghost of himself ! Low is his once loud bruit; scarcely audible, save, with extreme tedium, in ministerial ante-chambers, in this or the other charitable dining-room, mindful of the past. What changes; culminatings and declinings! Not now, poor Paul, thou lookest wistful over the Sol-way brine, by the foot of native Criffel, into blue mountainous Cumberland, into blue Infinitude; environed with thrift, with humble friendliness; thyself, young fool, longing to be aloft from it, or even to be away from it. Yes, beyond that sapphire Promontory, which men name St. Bees, which is not sapphire either, but dull sandstone, when one gets close to it, there is a world. Which world thou too shalt taste of !—From yonder White Haven rise his smoke-clouds; ominous though ineffectual. Proud Forth quakes at his bellying sails; had not the wind suddenly shifted. Flamborough reapers, homegoing, pause on the hillside: for what sulphur-cloud is that that defaces the sleek sea; sulphur-cloud spitting streaks of fire? A sea cockfight it is, and of the hottest; where British Serapis and French-American Bon Homme Richard do lash and throttle each other, in their fashion; and lo the desperate valour has suffocated the deliberate, and Paul Jones too is of the Kings of the Sea!

The Euxine, the Meotian waters felt thee next, and long-skirted Turks, O Paul; and thy fiery soul has wasted itself in thousand contradictions;—to no purpose. For, in far lands, with scarlet Nassau-Siegens, with sinful Imperial Catherines, is not the heart broken, even as at home with the mean? Poor Paul! hunger and dispiritment track thy sinking footsteps: once or at most twice, in this Revolution-tumult the figure of thee emerges; mute, ghost-like, as “with stars dim-twinkling through.” And then, when the light is gone quite out, a National Legislature grants “ceremonial funeral”! As good had been the natural Presbyterian Kirk-bell, and six feet of Scottish earth, among the dust of thy loved ones.—Such world lay beyond the Promontory of St. Bees. Such is the life of sinful mankind here below.

But of all strangers, far the notablest for us is Baron Jean Baptiste de Clootz;—or, dropping baptisms and feudalisms, World-Citizen Anacharsis Clootz, from Cleves. Him mark, judicious Reader. Thou hast known his Uncle, sharp-sighted thoroughgoing Cornelius de Pauw, who mercilessly cuts down cherished illusions; and of the finest antique Spartans will make mere modern cut-throat Mainots.[279] The like stuff is in Anacharsis: hot metal; full of scoriae, which should and could have been smelted out, but which will not. He has wandered over this terraqueous Planet; seeking, one may say, the Paradise we lost long ago. He has seen English Burke; has been seen of the Portugal Inquisition; has roamed, and fought, and written; is writing, among other things, “Evidences of the Mahometan Religion.” But now, like his Scythian adoptive godfather, he finds himself in the Paris Athens; surely, at last, the haven of his soul. A dashing man, beloved at Patriotic dinner-tables; with gaiety, nay with humour; headlong, trenchant, of free purse; in suitable costume; though what mortal ever more despised costumes? Under all costumes Anacharsis seeks the man; not Stylites Marat will more freely trample costumes, if they hold no man. This is the faith of Anacharsis: That there is a Paradise discover-able; that all costumes ought to hold men. O Anacharsis, it is a headlong, swift-going faith. Mounted thereon, meseems, thou art bound hastily for the City of Nowhere; and wilt arrive! At best, we may say, arrive in good riding attitude; which indeed is something.

So many new persons and new things have come to occupy this France. Her old Speech and Thought, and Activity which springs from these, are all changing; fermenting towards unknown issues. To the dullest peasant, as he sits sluggish, overtoiled, by his evening hearth, one idea has come: that of Châteaus burnt; of Châteaus combustible. How altered all Coffee-houses, in Province or Capital! The Ante de-Procope has now other questions than the Three Stagyrite Unities to settle; not theatre-controversies, but a world-controversy: there, in the ancient pigtail mode, or with modern Brutus’ heads, do well-frizzed logicians hold hubbub, and Chaos umpire sits. The ever-enduring melody of Paris Saloons has got a new ground-tone: ever-enduring; which has been heard, and by the listening Heaven too, since Julian the Apostate’s time and earlier; mad now as formerly.

Ex-Censor Suard, Ex-Censor, for we have freedom of the Press; he may be seen there; impartial, even neutral. Tyrant Grimm rolls large eyes, over a questionable coming Time. Atheist Naigeon, beloved-disciple of Diderot, crows, in his small difficult way, heralding glad dawn.[280] But on the other hand, how many Morellets, Marmontels, who had sat all their life hatching Philosophe eggs, cackle now, in a state bordering on distraction, at the brood they have brought out![281] It was so delightful to have one’s Philosophe Theorem demonstrated, crowned in the saloons: and now an infatuated people will not continue speculative, but have Practice?

There also observe Preceptress Genlis, or Sillery, or Sillery-Genlis,—for our husband is both Count and Marquis, and we have more than one title. Pretentious, frothy; a puritan yet creedless; darkening counsel by words without wisdom! For, it is in that thin element of the Sentimentalist and Distinguished-Female that Sillery-Genlis works; she would gladly be sincere, yet can grow no sincerer than sincere-cant: sincere-cant of many forms, ending in the devotional form. For the present, on a neck still of moderate whiteness, she wears as jewel a miniature Bastille, cut on mere sandstone, but then actual Bastille sandstone. M. le Marquis is one of D’Orléans’s errandmen; in National Assembly, and elsewhere, Madame, for her part, trains up a youthful D’Orléans generation in what superfinest morality one can; gives meanwhile rather enigmatic account of fair Mademoiselle Pamela, the Daughter whom she has adopted. Thus she, in Palais Royal saloon;—whither, we remark, D’Orléans himself, spite of Lafayette, has returned from that English “mission” of his: surely no pleasant mission: for the English would not speak to him; and Saint Hannah More of England, so unlike Saint Sillery-Genlis of France, saw him shunned, in Vauxhall Garden, like one peststruck,[282] and his red-blue impassive visage waxing hardly a shade bluer.

Chapter IV: Journalism

As for Constitutionalism, with its National Guards, it is doing what it can; and has enough to do: it must, as ever, with one hand wave persuasively, repressing Patriotism; and keep the other clenched to menace Royalist plotters. A most delicate task; requiring tact.

Thus, if People’s-friend Marat has to-day his writ of “prise de corps, or seizure of body,” served on him, and dives out of sight, to-morrow he is left at large; or is even encouraged, as a sort of bandog whose baying may be useful. President Danton, in open Hall, with reverberating voice, declares that, in a case like Marat’s, “force may be resisted by force.” Whereupon the Châtelet serves Danton also with a writ;— which however, as the whole Cordeliers District responds to it, what Constable will be prompt to execute? Twice more, on new occasions, does the Châtelet launch its writ; and twice more in vain: the body of Danton cannot be seized by Châtelet; he unseized, should he even fly for a season, shall behold the Châtelet itself flung into limbo.

Municipality and Brissot, meanwhile, are far on with their Municipal Constitution. The Sixty Districts shall become Forty-eight Sections; much shall be adjusted, and Paris have its Constitution. A Constitution wholly Elective; as indeed all French Government shall and must be. And yet, one fatal element has been introduced: that of citoyen actif. No man who does not pay the marc d’argent, or yearly tax equal to three day’s labour, shall be other than a passive citizen: not the slightest vote for him; were he acting, all the year round, with sledge-hammer, with forest-levelling axe! Unheard of ! cry Patriot Journals. Yes truly, my Patriot Friends, if Liberty, the passion and prayer of all men’s souls, means Liberty to send your fifty-thousandth part of a new Tongue-fencer into National Debating-club, then, be the gods witness, ye are hardly entreated. Oh, if in National Palaver (as the Africans name it), such blessedness is verily found, what tyrant would deny it to Son of Adam! Nay, might there not be a Female Parliament too, with “screams from the Opposition benches,” and “the honourable Member borne out in hysterics”? To a Children’s Parliament would I gladly consent; or even lower if ye wished it. Beloved Brothers! Liberty, one may fear, is actually, as the ancient wise man said, of Heaven. On this Earth, where, thinks the enlightened public, did a brave little Dame de Staal (not Necker’s Daughter, but a far shrewder than she) find the nearest approach to Liberty? After mature computation, cool as Dilworth’s, her answer is, In the Bastille.[283] “Of Heaven?” answer many, asking. Woe that they should ask; for that is the very misery! “Of Heaven” means much; share in the National Palaver it may, or may as probably not mean.

One Sansculottic bough that cannot fail to flourish is Journalism. The voice of the People being the voice of God, shall not such divine voice make itself heard? To the ends of France; and in as many dialects as when the first great Babel was to be built! Some loud as the lion; some small as the sucking dove. Mirabeau himself has his instructive Journal or Journals, with Geneva hodmen working in them; and withal has quarrels enough with Dame le Jay, his Female Bookseller, so ultra-compliant otherwise.[284]

King’s-friend Royou still prints himself. Barrère sheds tears of loyal sensibility in Break of Day Journal, though with declining sale. But why is Fréron so hot, democratic; Fréron, the King’s-friend’s Nephew? He has it by kind, that heat of his: wasp Fréron begot him; Voltaire’s Frélon; who fought stinging, while sting and poison-bag were left, were it only as Reviewer, and over Printed Waste-paper. Constant, illuminative, as the nightly lamplighter, issues the useful Moniteur, for it is now become diurnal: with facts and few commentaries; official, safe in the middle;—its able Editors sunk long since, recoverably or irrecoverably, in deep darkness. Acid Loustalot, with his “vigour,” as of young sloes, shall never ripen, but die untimely: his Prudhomme, however, will not let that Révolutions de Paris die; but edit it himself, with much else,—dull-blustering Printer though he be.

Of Cassandra-Marat we have spoken often; yet the most surprising truth remains to be spoken: that he actually does not want sense; but, with croaking gelid throat, croaks out masses of the truth, on several things. Nay sometimes, one might almost fancy he had a perception of humour, and were laughing a little, far down in his inner man. Camille is wittier than ever, and more outspoken, cynical; yet sunny as ever. A light melodious creature; “born,” as he shall yet say with bitter tears, “to write verses”; light Apollo, so clear, soft-lucent, in this war of the Titans, wherein he shall not conquer!

Folded and hawked Newspapers exist in all countries; but, in such a Journalistic element as this of France, other and stranger sorts are to be anticipated. What says the English reader to a Journal-Affiche, Placard Journal; legible to him that has no halfpenny; in bright prismatic colours, calling the eye from afar? Such, in the coming months, as Patriot Associations, public and private, advance, and can subscribe funds, shall plenteously hang themselves out: leaves, limed leaves, to catch what they can! The very Government shall have its Pasted Journal; Louvet, busy yet with a new “charming romance,” shall write Sentinelles, and post them with effect; nay Bertrand de Moleville, in his extremity, shall still more cunningly try it.[285]Great is Journalism. Is not every Able Editor a Ruler of the World, being a persuader of it; though self-elected, yet sanctioned, by the sale of his Numbers? Whom indeed the world has the readiest method of deposing, should need be: that of merely doing nothing to him; which ends in starvation.

Nor esteem it small what those Bill-stickers had to do in Paris: above Three-score of them: all with their crosspoles, haversacks, pastepots; nay with leaden badges, for the Municipality licenses them. A Sacred College, properly of World-rulers’ Heralds, though not respected as such, in an Era still incipient and raw. They made the walls of Paris didactic, suasive, with an ever fresh Periodical Literature, wherein he that ran might read: Placard Journals, Placard Lampoons, Municipal Ordinances, Royal Proclamations; the whole other or vulgar Placard-department superadded,—or omitted from contempt! What unutterable things the stone-walls spoke, during these five years! But it is all gone; To-day swallowing Yesterday, and then being in its turn swallowed of To-morrow, even as Speech ever is. Nay what, O thou immortal Man of Letters, is Writing itself by Speech conserved for a time? The Placard Journal conserved it for one day; some Books conserve it for the matter of ten years; nay some for three thousand: but what then? Why, then, the years being all run, it also dies, and the world is rid of it. Oh, were there not a spirit in the word of man, as in man himself, that survived the audible bodied word, and tended either Godward, or else Devilward, for evermore, why should he trouble himself much with the truth of it, or the falsehood of it, except for commercial purposes? His immortality indeed, and whether it shall last half a lifetime or a lifetime and a half; is not that a very considerable thing? Immortality, mortality:—there were certain runaways whom Fritz the Great bullied back into the battle with a: “R—, wollt ihr ewig leben, Unprintable Offscouring of Scoundrels, would ye live for ever!”

This is the Communication of Thought; how happy when there is any Thought to communicate! Neither let the simpler old methods be neglected, in their sphere. The Palais-Royal Tent, a tyrannous Patrollotism has removed; but can it remove the lungs of man? Anaxagoras Chaumette we saw mounted on bournestones, while Tallien worked sedentary at the sub-editorial desk. In any corner of the civilized world, a tub can be inverted, and an articulate-speaking biped mount thereon. Nay, with contrivance, a portable trestle, or folding-stool, can be procured, for love or money; this the peripatetic Orator can take in his hand, and, driven out here, set it up again there: saying mildly, with a Sage Bias, Omnia mea mecum porto.

Such is Journalism, hawked, pasted, spoken. How changed since One old Metra walked this same Tuileries Garden, in gilt cocked hat, with Journal at his nose, or held loose-folded behind his back; and was a notability of Paris, “Metra the Newsman”;[286]and Louis himself was wont to say: Qu’en dit Métra? Since the first Venetian News-sheet was sold for a gazza, or farthing, and named Gazette! We live in a fertile world.

Chapter V: Clubbism

Where the heart is full, it seeks, for a thousand reasons, in a thousand ways, to impart itself. How sweet, indispensable, in such cases, is fellowship; soul mystically strengthening soul! The meditative Germans, some think, have been of opinion that Enthusiasm in general means simply excessive Congregating— Schwärmerey, or Swarming. At any rate, do we not see glimmering half-red embers, if laid together, get into the brightest white glow?

In such a France, gregarious Reunions will needs multiply, intensify; French Life will step out of doors, and, from domestic, become a public Club Life. Old Clubs, which already germinated, grow and flourish; new everywhere bud forth. It is the sure symptom of Social Unrest: in such way, most infallibly of all, does Social Unrest exhibit itself; find solacement, and also nutriment. In every French head there hangs now, whether for terror or for hope, some prophetic picture of a New France: prophecy which brings, nay which almost is, its own fulfilment; and in all ways, consciously and unconsciously, works towards that.

Observe, moreover, how the Aggregative Principle, let it be but deep enough, goes on aggregating, and this even in a geometrical progression; how when the whole world, in such a plastic time, is forming itself into Clubs, some One Club, the strongest or luckiest, shall by friendly attracting, by victorious compelling, grow ever stronger, till it become immeasurably strong; and all the others, with their strength, be either lovingly absorbed into it, or hostilely abolished by it. This if the Club-spirit is universal; if the time is plastic. Plastic enough is the time, universal the Club-spirit: such an all-absorbing, paramount One Club cannot be wanting.

What a progress, since the first salient-point of the Breton Committee! It worked long in secret, not languidly; it has come with the National Assembly to Paris; calls itself Club; calls itself, in imitation, as in thought, of those generous Price-Stanhope English who sent over to congratulate, French Revolution Club; but soon, with more originality, Club of Friends of the Constitution. Moreover it has leased for itself, at a fair rent, the Hall of the Jacobins Convent, one of our “superfluous edifices”; and does therefrom now, in these spring months, begin shining out on an admiring Paris. And so, by degrees, under the shorter popular title of Jacobins Club, it shall become memorable to all times and lands. Glance into the interior: strongly yet modestly benched and seated; as many as Thirteen Hundred chosen Patriots; Assembly Members not a few. Barnave, the two Lameths are seen there; occasionally Mirabeau, perpetually Robespierre; also the ferret-visage of Fouquier-Tinville with other attorneys; Anacharsis of Prussian Scythia, and miscellaneous Patriots,—though all is yet in the most perfectly cleanwashed state; decent, nay dignified. President on platform, President’s bell are not wanting; oratorical Tribune high-raised; nor strangers’ galleries, wherein also sit women. Has any French Antiquarian Society preserved that written Lease of the Jacobins Convent Hall? Or was it, unluckier even than Magna Charta, clipt by sacrilegious Tailors? Universal History is not indifferent to it.

These French of the Constitution have met mainly, as their name may foreshadow, to look after Elections when an Election comes, and procure fit men: but likewise to consult generally that the Commonweal take no damage; one as yet sees not how. For indeed let two or three gather together anywhere, if it be not in Church, where all are bound to the passive state; no mortal can say accurately, themselves as little as any, for what they are gathered. How often has the broached barrel proved not to be for joy and heart-effusion, but for duel and head-breakage; and the promised feast become a Feast of the Lapithae! This Jacobins Club, which at first shone resplendent, and was thought to be a new celestial Sun for enlightening the Nations, had, as things all have, to work through its appointed phases: it burned unfortunately more and more lurid, more sulphurous, distracted!—and swam at last, through the astonished Heaven, like a Tartarean Portent, and lurid-burning Prison of Spirits in Pain.

Its style of eloquence? Rejoice, Reader, that thou knowest it not, that thou canst never perfectly know. The Jacobins published a Journal of Debates, where they that have the heart may examine: impassioned, dull-droning Patriotic-eloquence; implacable, unfertile—save for Destruction, which was indeed its work: most wearisome, though most deadly. Be thankful that Oblivion covers so much; that all carrion is by and by buried in the green Earth’s bosom, and even makes her grow the greener. The Jacobins are buried; but their work is not; it continues “making the tour of the world,” as it can. It might be seen lately, for instance, with bared bosom and death-defiant eye, as far on as Greek Missolonghi; strange enough, old slumbering Hellas was resuscitated, into somnambulism which will become clear wakefulness, by a voice from the Rue St. Honoré! All dies, as we often say; except the spirit of man, of what man does. Thus has not the very House of the Jacobins vanished; scarcely lingering in a few old men’s memories? The St. Honoré Market has brushed it away, and now where dull-droning eloquence, like a Trump of Doom, once shook the world, there is pacific chaffering for poultry and greens. The sacred National Assembly Hall itself has become common ground; President’s platform permeable to wain and dustcart; for the Rue de Rivoli runs there. Verily, at Cock-crow (of this Cock or the other), all Apparitions do melt and dissolve in space.

The Paris Jacobins became “the Mother-Society, Société-Mère”; and had as many as “three hundred” shrill-tongued daughters in “direct correspondence” with her. Of indirectly corresponding, what we may call grand-daughters and minute progeny, she counted “forty-four thousand”!—But for the present we note only two things: the first of them a mere anecdote. One night, a couple of brother Jacobins are door-keepers; for the members take this post of duty and honour in rotation, and admit none that have not tickets: one door-keeper was the worthy Sieur Laïs, a patriotic Opera-singer, stricken in years, whose windpipe is long since closed without result; the other, young, and named Louis Philippe, D’Orléans’s firstborn, has in this latter time, after unheard-of destinies, become Citizen-King, and struggles to rule for a season. All flesh is grass; higher reedgrass or creeping herb.

The second thing we have to note is historical: that the Mother-Society, even in this its effulgent period, cannot content all Patriots. Already it must throw off, so to speak, two dissatisfied swarms; a swarm to the right, a swarm to the left. One party, which thinks the Jacobins lukewarm, constitutes itself into Club of the Cordeliers; a hotter Club: it is Danton’s element; with whom goes Desmoulins. The other party, again, which thinks the Jacobins scalding-hot, flies off to the right, and becomes “Club of 1789, Friends of the Monarchic Constitution.” They are afterwards named “Feuillans Club”; their place of meeting being the Feuillans Convent. Lafayette is, or becomes, their chief man; supported by the respectable Patriot everywhere, by the mass of Property and Intelligence,—with the most flourishing prospects. They, in these June days of 1790, do, in the Palais Royal, dine solemnly with open windows; to the cheers of the people; with toasts, with inspiriting songs,—with one song at least, among the feeblest ever sung.[287] They shall, in due time, be hooted forth, over the borders, into Cimmerian Night.

Another expressly Monarchic or Royalist Club, “Club des Monarchiens,” though a Club of ample funds, and all sitting on damask sofas, cannot realize the smallest momentary cheer: realizes only scoffs and groans;—till, ere long, certain Patriots in disorderly sufficient number, proceed thither, for a night or for nights, and groan it out of pain. Vivacious alone shall the Mother-Society and her family be. The very Cordeliers may, as it were, return into her bosom, which will have grown warm enough.

Fatal-looking! Are not such Societies an incipient New Order of Society itself ? The Aggregative Principle anew at work in a Society grown obsolete, cracked asunder, dissolving into rubbish and primary atoms?

Chapter VI: Je Le Jure

With these signs of the times, is it not surprising that the dominant feeling all over France was still continually Hope? O blessed Hope, sole boon of man: whereby, on his strait prison-walls, are painted beautiful far-stretching landscapes; and into the night of very Death is shed holiest dawn! Thou art to all an indefeasible possession in this God’sworld; to the wise a sacred Constantine’s-banner, written on the eternal skies; under which they shall conquer, for the battle itself is victory: to the foolish some secular mirage, or shadow of still waters, painted on the parched Earth; whereby at least their dusty pilgrimage, if devious, becomes cheerfuller, becomes possible.

In the death-tumults of a sinking Society, French Hope sees only the birth-struggles of a new unspeakably better Society; and sings, with full assurance of faith, her brisk Melody, which some inspired fiddler has in these very days composed for her,—the world-famous Ça-ira. Yes; “that will go”: and then there will come—? All men hope; even Marat hopes—that Patriotism will take muff and dirk. King Louis is not without hope: in the chapter of chances; in a flight to some Bouillé; in getting popularized at Paris. But what a hoping People he had, judge by the fact, and series of facts, now to be noted.

Poor Louis, meaning the best, with little insight and even less determination of his own, has to follow, in that dim wayfaring of his, such signal as may be given him; by backstairs Royalism, by official or backstairs Constitutionalism, whichever for the month may have convinced the royal mind. If flight to Bouillé, and (horrible to think!) a drawing of the civil sword do hang as theory, portentous in the background, much nearer is this fact of these Twelve Hundred Kings, who sit in the Salle de Manége. Kings uncontrollable by him, not yet irreverent to him. Could kind management of these but prosper, how much better were it than armed Emigrants, Turin intrigues, and the help of Austria! Nay, are the two hopes inconsistent? Rides in the suburbs, we have found, cost little; yet they always brought vivats.[288] Still cheaper is a soft word; such as has many times turned away wrath. In these rapid days, while France is all getting divided into Departments, Clergy about to be remodelled, Popular Societies rising, and Feudalism and so much else is ready to be hurled into the melting-pot, might one not try?

On the 4th of February, accordingly, M. le Président reads to his National Assembly a short autograph, announcing that his Majesty will step over, quite in an unceremonious way, probably about noon. Think, therefore, Messieurs, what it may mean; especially, how ye will get the Hall decorated a little. The Secretaries’ Bureau can be shifted down from the platform; on the President’s chair be slipped this cover of velvet, “of a violet colour sprigged with gold fleur-de-lis”;—for indeed M. le Président has had previous notice underhand, and taken counsel with Doctor Guillotin. Then some fraction of “velvet carpet,” of like texture and colour, cannot that be spread in front of the chair, where the Secretaries usually sit? So has judicious Guillotin advised: and the effect is found satisfactory. Moreover, as it is probable that his Majesty, in spite of the Fleur-de-lis velvet, will stand and not sit at all, the President himself, in the interim, presides standing. And so, while some honourable Member is discussing, say, the division of a Department, Ushers announce: “His Majesty!” In person, with small suite, enter Majesty: the honourable Member stops short: the Assembly starts to its feet: the Twelve Hundred Kings “almost all,” and the Galleries no less, do welcome the Restorer of French liberty with loyal shouts. His Majesty’s Speech, in diluted conventional phraseology expresses this mainly: That he, most of all Frenchmen, rejoices to see France getting regenerated; is sure, at the same time, that they will deal gently with her in the process, and not regenerate her roughly. Such was his Majesty’s Speech: the feat he performed was coming to speak it, and going back again.

Surely, except to a very hoping People, there was not much here to build upon. Yet what did they not build! The fact that the King has spoken, that he has voluntarily come to speak, how inexpressibly encouraging! Did not the glance of his royal countenance, like concentrated sunbeams, kindle all hearts in an august Assembly; nay thereby in an inflammable enthusiastic France? To move “Deputation of thanks,” can be the happy lot of but one man; to go in such Deputation the lot of not many. The Deputed have gone, and returned with what highest-flown compliment they could; whom also the Queen met, Dauphin in hand. And still do not our hearts burn with insatiable gratitude; and to one other man a still higher blessedness suggests itself: To move that we all renew the National Oath.

Happiest honourable Member, with his word so in season as word seldom was; magic Fugleman of a whole National Assembly, which sat there bursting to do somewhat; Fugleman of a whole onlooking France! The President swears; declares that every one shall swear, in distinct je le jure. Nay the very gallery sends him down a written slip signed, with their Oath on it; and as the Assembly now casts an eye that way, the Gallery all stands up and swears again. And then out of doors, consider at the Hôtel-de-Ville how Bailly, the great Tennis-Court swearer, again swears, towards nightfall, with all the Municipals, and Heads of Districts assembled there. And “M. Danton suggests that the public would like to partake”: whereupon Bailly, with escort of Twelve, steps forth to the great outer staircase; sways the ebullient multitude with stretched hand; takes their oath, with a thunder of “rolling drums,” with shouts that rend the welkin. And on all streets the glad people, with moisture and fire in their eyes, “spontaneously formed groups, and swore on another,”[289]—and the whole City was illuminated. This was the Fourth of February, 1790: a day to be marked white in Constitutional annals.

Nor is the illumination for a night only, but partially or totally it lasts a series of nights. For each District, the Electors of each District will swear specially; and always as the District swears, it illuminates itself. Behold them, District after District, in some open square, where the Non-Electing People can all see and join: with their uplifted right-hands, and je le jure; with rolling drums, with embracings, and that infinite hurrah of the enfranchised,—which any tyrant that there may be can consider! Faithful to the King, to the Law, to the Constitution which the National Assembly shall make.

Fancy, for example, the Professors of Universities parading the streets with their young France, and swearing, in an enthusiastic manner, not without tumult. By a larger exercise of fancy, expand duly this little word: The like was repeated in every Town and District in France! Nay one Patriot Mother, in Lagnon of Brittany, assembles her ten children; and, with her own aged hand, swears them all herself, the high-souled venerable woman. Of all which, moreover, a National Assembly must be eloquently apprised. Such three weeks of swearing! Saw the Sun ever such a swearing people? Have they been bit by a swearing tarantula? No: but they are men and Frenchmen; they have Hope; and, singular to say, they have Faith, were it only in the Gospel according to Jean Jacques. O my Brothers, would to Heaven it were even as ye think and have sworn! But there are Lover’s Oaths, which, had they been true as love itself, cannot be kept; not to speak of Dicer’s Oaths, also a known sort.

Chapter VII: Prodigies

To such length had the Contrat Social brought it, in believing hearts. Man, as is well said, lives by faith; each generation has its own faith, more or less; and laughs at the faith of its predecessor,—most unwisely. Grant indeed that this faith in the Social Contract belongs to the stranger sorts; that an unborn generation may very wisely, if not laugh, yet stare at it, and piously consider. For, alas, what is Contrat? If all men were such that a mere spoken or sworn Contract would bind them, all men were then true men, and Government a superfluity. Not what thou and I have promised to each other, but what the balance of our forces can make us perform to each other: that, in so sinful a world as ours, is the thing to be counted on. But above all, a People and a Sovereign promising to one another; as if a whole People, changing from generation to generation, nay from hour to hour, could ever by any method be made to speak or promise; and to speak mere solecisms: “We, be the Heavens witness, which Heavens however do no miracles now; we, everchanging Millions, will allow thee, changeful Unit, to force us or govern us!” The world has perhaps seen few faiths comparable to that.

So nevertheless had the world then construed the matter. Had they not so construed it, how different had their hopes been, their attempts, their results! But so and not otherwise did the Upper Powers will it to be. Freedom by social contract: such was verily the Gospel of that Era. And all men had believed in it, as in a Heaven’s Glad-tidings men should; and with overflowing heart and uplifted voice clave to it, and stood fronting Time and Eternity on it. Nay smile not; or only with a smile sadder than tears! This too was a better faith than the one it had replaced; than faith merely in the Everlasting Nothing and man’s Digestive Power; lower than which no faith can go.

Not that such universally prevalent, universally jurant, feeling of Hope, could be a unanimous one. Far from that. The time was ominous: social dissolution near and certain: social renovation still a problem, difficult and distant, even though sure. But if ominous to some clearest onlooker, whose faith stood not with the one side or with the other, nor in the ever-vexed jarring of Greek with Greek at all,—how unspeakably ominous to dim Royalist participators; for whom Royalism was Mankind’s Palladium; for whom, with the abolition of Most-Christian Kingship and Most-Talleyrand Bishopship, all loyal obedience, all religious faith was to expire, and final Night envelop the Destinies of Man! On serious hearts, of that persuasion, the matter sinks down deep; prompting, as we have seen, to backstairs plots, to Emigration with pledge of war, to Monarchic Clubs; nay to still madder things.

The Spirit of Prophecy, for instance, had been considered extinct for some centuries: nevertheless these last-times, as indeed is the tendency of last-times, do revive it; that so, of French mad things, we might have sample also of the maddest. In remote rural districts, whither Philosophism has not yet radiated, where a heterodox Constitution of the Clergy is bringing strife round the alter itself, and the very Church-bells are getting melted into small money-coin, it appears probable that the End of the World cannot be far off. Deep-musing atrabiliar old men, especially old women, hint in an obscure way that they know what they know. The Holy Virgin, silent so long, has not gone dumb;—and truly now, if ever more in this world, were the time for her to speak. One Prophetess, though careless Historians have omitted her name, condition and whereabout, becomes audible to the general ear; credible to not a few; credible to Friar Gerle, poor Patriot Chartreux, in the National Assembly itself ! She, in Pythoness recitative, with wildstaring eye, sings that there shall be a Sign; that the heavenly Sun himself will hang out a Sign, or Mock-Sun,—which, many say, shall be stamped with the Head of hanged Favras. List, Dom Gerle, with that poor addled poll of thine; list, O list;—and hear nothing.[290]

Notable, however, was that “magnetic vellum, vélin magnétique,” of the Sieurs d’Hozier and Petit-Jean, Parlementeers of Rouen. Sweet young D’Hozier, “bred in the faith of his Missal, and of parchment genealogies,” and of parchment generally; adust, melancholic, middle-aged Petit-Jean: why came these two to Saint-Cloud, where his Majesty was hunting, on the festival of St. Peter and St. Paul; and waited there, in antechambers, a wonder to whispering Swiss, the livelong day; and even waited without the Grates, when turned out; and had dismissed their valets to Paris, as with purpose of endless waiting? They have a magnetic vellum, these two; whereon the Virgin, wonderfully clothing herself in Mesmerean Cagliostric Occult-Philosophy, has inspired them to jot down instructions and predictions for a much-straitened King. To whom, by Higher Order, they will this day present it; and save the Monarchy and World. Unaccountable pair of visual-objects! Ye should be men, and of the Eighteenth Century; but your magnetic vellum forbids us so to interpret. Say, are ye aught? Thus ask the Guard-house Captains, the Mayor of Saint-Cloud; nay, at great length, thus asks the Committee of Researches, and not the Municipal, but the National Assembly one. No distinct answer, for weeks. At last it becomes plain that the right answer is negative. Go, ye Chimeras, with your magnetic vellum; sweet young Chimera, adust middle-aged one! The Prison-doors are open. Hardly again shall ye preside the Rouen Chamber of Accounts; but vanish obscurely into Limbo.[291]

Chapter VIII: Solemn League and Covenant

Such dim masses, and specks of even deepest black, work in that white-hot glow of the French mind, now wholly in fusion and confusion. Old women here swearing their ten children on the new Evangel of Jean Jacques; old women there looking up for Favras’ Heads in the celestial Luminary: these are preternatural signs, prefiguring somewhat.

In fact, to the Patriot children of Hope themselves it is undeniable that difficulties exist: emigrating Seigneurs; Parlements in sneaking but most malicious mutiny (though the rope is round their neck); above all, the most decided “deficiency of grains.” Sorrowful; but, to a Nation that hopes, not irremediable. To a Nation which is in fusion and ardent communion of thought; which, for example, on signal of one Fugleman, will lift its right-hand like a drilled regiment, and swear and illuminate, till every village from Ardennes to the Pyrenees has rolled its village-drum, and sent up its little oath, and glimmer of tallow-illumination some fathoms into the reign of Night!

If grains are defective, the fault is not of Nature or National Assembly, but of Art and Antinational Intriguers. Such malign individuals, of the scoundrel species, have power to vex us, while the Constitution is a-making. Endure it, ye heroic Patriots: nay rather, why not cure it? Grains do grow, they lie extant there in sheaf or sack; only that regraters and Royalist plotters, to provoke the People into illegality, obstruct the transport of grains. Quick, ye organized Patriot Authorities, armed National Guards, meet together; unite your goodwill; in union is tenfold strength: let the concentred flash of your Patriotism strike stealthy Scoundrelism blind, paralytic, as with a coup de soleil.

Under which hat or night-cap of the Twenty-five millions, this pregnant Idea first arose, for in some one head it did rise, no man can now say. A most small idea, near at hand for the whole world: but a living one, fit; and which waxed, whether into greatness or not, into immeasurable size. When a Nation is in this state that the Fugleman can operate on it, what will the word in season, the act in season, not do! It will grow verily, like the Boy’s Bean, in the Fairy-Tale, heaven-high, with habitations and adventures on it, in one night. It is nevertheless unfortunately still a Bean (for your long-lived Oak grows not so); and the next night, it may lie felled, horizontal, trodden into common mud.—But remark, at least, how natural to any agitated Nation, which has Faith, this business of Covenanting is. The Scotch, believing in a righteous Heaven above them, and also in a Gospel, far other than the Jean-Jacques one, swore, in their extreme need, a Solemn League and Covenant,—as Brothers on the forlorn-hope, and imminence of battle, who embrace, looking Godward: and got the whole Isle to swear it; and even, in their tough Old-Saxon Hebrew-Presbyterian way, to keep it more or less;—for the thing, as such things are, was heard in Heaven and partially ratified there: neither is yet dead, if thou wilt look, nor like to die. The French too, with their Gallic-Ethnic excitability and effervescence, have, as we have seen, real Faith, of a sort; they are hard bested, though in the middle of Hope: a National Solemn League and Covenant there may be in France too; under how different conditions; with how different development and issue!

Note, accordingly, the small commencement; first spark of a mighty firework: for if the particular hat cannot be fixed upon, the particular District can. On the 29th day of last November, were National Guards by the thousand seen filing, from far and near, with military music, with Municipal officers in tricolor sashes, towards and along the Rhone-stream, to the little town of Etoile. There with ceremonial evolution and manœuvre, with fanfaronading, musketry salvoes, and what else the Patriot genius could devise, they made oath and obtestation to stand faithfully by one another, under Law and King; in particular, to have all manner of grains, while grains there were, freely circulated, in spite both of robber and regrater. This was the meeting of Etoile, in the mild end of November 1789.

But now, if a mere empty Review, followed by Review-dinner, ball, and such gesticulation and flirtation as there may be, interests the happy County-town, and makes it the envy of surrounding County-towns, how much more might this! In a fortnight, larger Montélimart, half ashamed of itself, will do as good, and better. On the Plain of Montélimart, or what is equally sonorous, “under the Walls of Montélimart,” the 13th of December sees new gathering and obtestation; six thousand strong; and now indeed, with these three remarkable improvements, as unanimously resolved on there. First, that the men of Montélimart do federate with the already federated men of Etoile. Second, that, implying not expressing the circulation of grain, they “swear in the face of God and their Country,” with much more emphasis and comprehensiveness, “to obey all decrees of the National Assembly, and see them obeyed, till death, jusqu’à la mort.” Third, and most important, that official record of all this be solemnly delivered in, to the National Assembly, to M. de Lafayette, and “to the Restorer of French Liberty”; who shall all take what comfort from it they can. Thus does larger Montélimart vindicate its Patriot importance, and maintain its rank in the municipal scale.[292]

And so, with the New-year, the signal is hoisted: for is not a National Assembly, and solemn deliverance there, at lowest a National Telegraph? Not only grain shall circulate, while there is grain, on highways or the Rhone-waters, over all that South-Eastern region,— where also if Monseigneur d’Artois saw good to break in from Turin, hot welcome might await him; but whatsoever Province of France is straitened for grain, or vexed with a mutinous Parlement, unconstitutional plotters, Monarchic Clubs, or any other Patriot ailment,—can go and do likewise, or even do better. And now, especially, when the February swearing has set them all agog! From Brittany to Burgundy, on most Plains of France, under most City-walls, it is a blaring of trumpets, waving of banners, a Constitutional manœuvring: under the vernal skies, while Nature too is putting forth her green Hopes, under bright sunshine defaced by the stormful East; like Patriotism victorious, though with difficulty, over Aristocracy and defect of grain! There march and constitutionally wheel, to the ça-ira-ing mood of fife and drum, under their tricolor Municipals, our clear-gleaming Phalanxes; or halt, with uplifted right-hand, and artillery salvoes that imitate Jove’s thunder; and all the Country, and metaphorically all “the Universe,” is looking on. Wholly, in their best apparel, brave men, and beautifully dizened women, most of whom have lovers there; swearing, by the eternal Heavens and this green-growing all-nutritive Earth, that France is free!

Sweetest days, when (astonishing to say) mortals have actually met together in communion and fellowship; and man, were it only once through long despicable centuries, is for moments verily the brother of man!—And then the Deputations to the National Assembly, with high-flown descriptive harangue; to M. de Lafayette, and the Restorer; very frequently moreover to the Mother of Patriotism, sitting on her stout benches in that Hall of the Jacobins! The general ear is filled with Federation. New names of Patriots emerge, which shall one day become familiar: Boyer-Fonfrède eloquent denunciator of a rebellious Bordeaux Parlement; Max Isnard eloquent reporter of the Federation of Draguignan; eloquent pair, separated by the whole breadth of France, who are nevertheless to meet. Ever wider burns the flame of Federation; ever wider and also brighter. Thus the Brittany and Anjou brethren mention a Fraternity of all true Frenchmen; and go the length of invoking “perdition and death” on any renegade: moreover, if in their National-Assembly harangue, they glance plaintively at the marc d’argent which makes so many citizens passive, they, over in the Mother-Society, ask, being henceforth themselves “neither Bretons nor Angevins but French,” Why all France has not one Federation, and universal Oath of Brotherhood, once for all?[293] A most pertinent suggestion; dating from the end of March. Which pertinent suggestion the whole Patriot world cannot but catch, and reverberate and agitate till it become loud; —which in that case, the Townhall Municipals had better take up, and meditate.

Some universal Federation seems inevitable: the Where is given; clearly Paris: only the When, the How? These also productive Time will give; is already giving. For always as the Federative work goes on, it perfects itself, and Patriot genius adds contribution after contribution. Thus, at Lyons, in the end of the May month, we behold as many as fifty, or some say sixty thousand, met to federate; and a multitude looking on, which it would be difficult to number. From dawn to dusk! For our Lyons Guardsmen took rank, at five in the bright dewy morning; came pouring in, bright-gleaming, to the Quai de Rhone, to march thence to the Federation-field; amid wavings of hats and lady-handkerchiefs; glad shoutings of some two hundred thousand Patriot voices and hearts; the beautiful and brave! Among whom, courting no notice, and yet the notablest of all, what queenlike Figure is this; with her escort of house-friends and Champagneux the Patriot Editor; come abroad with the earliest? Radiant with enthusiasm are those dark eyes, is that strong Minerva-face, looking dignity and earnest joy; joyfullest she where all are joyful. It is Roland de la Platrière’s Wife![294] Strict elderly Roland, King’s Inspector of Manufactures here; and now likewise, by popular choice, the strictest of our new Lyons Municipals: a man who has gained much, if worth and faculty be gain; but, above all things, has gained to wife Phlipon the Paris Engraver’s daughter. Reader, mark that queenlike burgher-woman: beautiful, Amazonian-graceful to the eye; more so to the mind. Unconscious of her worth (as all worth is), of her greatness, of her crystal clearness; genuine, the creature of Sincerity and Nature, in an age of Artificiality, Pollution and Cant; there, in her still completeness, in her still invincibility, she, if thou knew it, is the noblest of all living French-women,—and will be seen, one day. O blessed rather while unseen, even of herself ! For the present she gazes, nothing doubting, into this grand theatricality; and thinks her young dreams are to be fulfilled.

From dawn to dusk, as we said, it lasts; and truly a sight like few. Flourishes of drums and trumpets are something: but think of an “artificial Rock fifty feet high,” all cut into crag-steps, not without the similitude of “shrubs!” The interior cavity, for in sooth it is made of deal,—stands solemn, a “Temple of Concord”: on the outer summit rises “a Statue of Liberty,” colossal, seen for miles, with her Pike and Phrygian Cap, and civic column; at her feet a Country’s Altar, “Autel de la Patrie”:—on all which neither deal-timber nor lath and plaster, with paint of various colours, have been spared. But fancy then the banners all placed on the steps of the Rock; high-mass chanted; and the civic oath of fifty thousand: with what volcanic outburst of sound from iron and other throats, enough to frighten back the very Saone and Rhone; and how the brightest fireworks, and balls, and even repasts closed in that night of the gods![295]And so the Lyons Federation vanishes too, swallowed of darkness;—and yet not wholly, for our brave fair Roland was there; also she, though in the deepest privacy, writes her Narrative of it in Champagneux’s Courrier de Lyons: a piece which “circulates to the extent of sixty thousand”; which one would like now to read.

But on the whole, Paris, we may see, will have little to devise; will only have to borrow and apply. And then as to the day, what day of all the calendar is fit, if the Bastille Anniversary be not? The particular spot too, it is easy to see, must be the Champ-de-Mars; where many a Julian the Apostate has been lifted on bucklers, to France’s or the world’s sovereignty; and iron Franks, loud-clanging, have responded to the voice of a Charlemagne; and from of old mere sublimities have been familiar.

Chapter IX: Symbolic

How natural, in all decisive circumstances, is Symbolic Representation to all kinds of men! Nay, what is man’s whole terrestrial Life but a Symbolic Representation, and making visible, of the Celestial invisible Force that is in him? By act and word he strives to do it; with sincerity, if possible; failing that, with theatricality, which latter also may have its meaning. An Almack’s Masquerade is not nothing; in more genial ages, your Christmas Guisings, Feasts of the Ass, Abbots of Unreason, were a considerable something: sincere sport they were; as Almacks may still be sincere wish for sport. But what, on the other hand, must not sincere earnest have been; say a Hebrew Feast of Tabernacles have been! A whole Nation gathered, in the name of the Highest, under the eye of the Highest; imagination herself flagging under the reality; and all noblest Ceremony as yet not grown ceremonial, but solemn, significant to the outmost fringe! Neither, in modern private life, are theatrical scenes, of tearful women wetting whole ells of cambric in concert, of impassioned bushy-whiskered youth threatening suicide and such like, to be so entirely detested: drop thou a tear over them thyself rather.

At any rate, one can remark that no Nation will throw by its work, and deliberately go out to make a scene, without meaning something thereby. For indeed no scenic individual, with knavish hypocritical views, will take the trouble to soliloquize a scene: and now consider, is not a scenic Nation placed precisely in that predicament of soliloquizing; for its own behoof alone; to solace its own sensibilities, maudlin or other?—Yet in this respect, of readiness for scenes, the difference of Nations, as of men, is very great. If our Saxon-Puritanic friends, for example, swore and signed their National Covenant, without discharge of gunpowder, or the beating of any drum, in a dingy Covenant-Close of the Edinburgh High-street, in a mean room, where men now drink mean liquor, it was consistent with their ways so to swear it. Our Gallic-Encyclopedic friends, again, must have a Champ-de-Mars, seen of all the world, or universe; and such a Scenic Exhibition, to which the Coliseum Amphitheatre was but a stroller’s barn, as this old Globe of ours had never or hardly ever beheld. Which method also we reckon natural, then and there. Nor perhaps was the respective keeping of these two Oaths far out of due proportion to such respective display in taking them: inverse proportion, namely. For the theatricality of a People goes in a compound ratio: ratio indeed of their trust-fulness, sociability, fervency; but then also of their excitability, of their porosity, not continent; or say, of their explosiveness, hot flashing, but which does not last.

How true also, once more, is it that no man or Nation of men, conscious of doing a great thing, was ever, in that thing, doing other than a small one! O Champ-de-Mars Federation, with three hundred drummers, twelve hundred wind-musicians, and artillery planted on height after height to boom the tidings of it all over France, in few minutes! Could no Atheist-Naigeon contrive to discern, eighteen centuries off, those Thirteen most poor mean-dressed men, at frugal Supper, in a mean Jewish dwelling, with no symbol but hearts god-initiated into the “Divine depth of Sorrow,” and a Do this in remembrance of me;—and so cease that small difficult crowing of his, if he were not doomed to it?

Chapter X: Mankind

Pardonable are human theatricalities; nay, perhaps touching, like the passionate utterance of a tongue which with sincerity stammers; of a head which with insincerity babbles,—having gone distracted. Yet, in comparison with unpremeditated outbursts of Nature, such as an Insurrection of Women, how foisonless, unedifying, undelightful; like small ale palled, like an effervescence that has effervesced! Such scenes, coming of forethought, were they world-great, and never so cunningly devised, are at bottom mainly pasteboard and paint. But the others are original; emitted from the great everliving heart of Nature herself: what figure they will assume is unspeakably significant. To us, therefore, let the French National Solemn League and Federation be the highest recorded triumph of the Thespian Art: triumphant surely, since the whole Pit, which was of Twenty-five Millions, not only claps hands, but does itself spring on the boards and passionately set to playing there. And being such, be it treated as such: with sincere cursory admiration; with wonder from afar. A whole Nation gone mumming deserves so much; but deserves not that loving minuteness a Menadic Insurrection did. Much more let prior, and as it were, rehearsal scenes of Federation come and go, henceforward, as they list; and, on Plains and under City-walls, innumerable regimental bands blare off into the Inane, without note from us.

One scene, however, the hastiest reader will momentarily pause on: that of Anacharsis Clootz and the Collective sinful Posterity of Adam.—For a Patriot Municipality has now, on the 4th of June, got its plan concocted, and got it sanctioned by National Assembly; a Patriot King assenting; to whom, were he even free to dissent, Federative harangues, overflowing with loyalty, have doubtless a transient sweetness. There shall come Deputed National Guards, so many in the hundred, from each of the Eighty-three Departments of France. Likewise from all Naval and Military King’s Forces, shall Deputed quotas come; such Federation of National with Royal Soldier has, taking place spontaneously, been already seen and sanctioned. For the rest, it is hoped, as many as forty thousand may arrive; expenses to be borne by the Deputing District; of all which let District and Department take thought, and elect fit men,—whom the Paris brethren will fly to meet and welcome.

Now, therefore, judge if our Patriot Artists are busy; taking deep counsel how to make the Scene worthy of a look from the Universe! As many as fifteen thousand men, spademen, barrowmen, stone-builders, rammers, with their engineers, are at work on the Champ-de-Mars; hollowing it out into a National Amphitheatre, fit for such solemnity. For one may hope it will be annual and perennial; a “Feast of Pikes, Fête des Piques,” notablest among the hightides of the year: in any case, ought not a scenic Free Nation to have some permanent National Amphitheatre? The Champ-de-Mars is getting hollowed out; and the daily talk and the nightly dream in most Parisian heads is of Federation, and that only. Federate Deputies are already under way. National Assembly, what with its natural work, what with hearing and answering harangues of these Federates, of this Federation, will have enough to do! Harangue of “American Committee,” among whom is that faint figure of Paul Jones as “with the stars dim-twinkling through it,”—come to congratulate us on the prospect of such auspicious day. Harangue of Bastille Conquerors, come to “renounce” any special recompense, any peculiar place at the solemnity;—since the Centre Grenadiers rather grumble. Harangue of “Tennis-Court Club,” who enter with far-gleaming Brass-plate, aloft on a pole, and the Tennis-Court Oath engraved thereon; which far-gleaming Brass-plate they purpose to affix solemnly in the Versailles original locality, on the 20th of this month, which is the anniversary, as a deathless memorial, for some years: they will then dine, as they come back, in the Bois de Boulogne;[296]—cannot, however, do it without apprising the world. To such things does the august National Assembly ever and anon cheerfully listen, suspending its regenerative labours; and with some touch of impromptu eloquence, make friendly reply;—as indeed the wont has long been; for it is a gesticulating, sympathetic People, and has a heart, and wears it on its sleeve.

In which circumstances, it occurred to the mind of Anacharsis Clootz, that while so much was embodying itself into Club or Committee, and peroration applauded, there yet remained a greater and greatest; of which, if it also took body and perorated, what might not the effect be: Humankind namely, le Genre Humain itself ! In what rapt creative moment the Thought rose in Anacharsis’s soul; all his throes, while he went about giving shape and birth to it; how he was sneered at by cold worldlings; but did sneer again, being a man of polished sarcasm; and moved to and fro persuasive in coffee-house and soirée, and dived down assiduous-obscure in the great deep of Paris, making his Thought a Fact: of all this the spiritual biographies of that period say nothing. Enough that on the 19th evening of June, 1790, the sun’s slant rays lighted a spectacle such as our foolish little Planet has not often had to show: Anacharsis Clootz entering the august Salle de Manége, with the Human Species at his heels. Swedes, Spaniards, Polacks; Turks, Chaldeans, Greeks, dwellers in Mesopotamia; behold them all; they have come to claim place in the grand Federation, having an undoubted interest in it.

“Our Ambassador titles,” said the fervid Clootz, “are not written on parchment, but on the living hearts of all men.” These whiskered Polacks, long-flowing turbaned Ishmaelites, astrological Chaldeans, who stand so mute here, let them plead with you, august Senators, more eloquently than eloquence could. They are the mute representatives of their tongue-tied, befettered, heavy-laden Nations; who from out of that dark bewilderment gaze wistful, amazed, with half-incredulous hope, towards you, and this your bright light of a French Federation: bright particular daystar, the herald of universal day. We claim to stand there, as mute monuments, pathetically adumbrative of much.—From bench and gallery comes “repeated applause”; for what august Senator but is flattered even by the very shadow of Human Species depending on him? From President Sieyes, who presides this remarkable fortnight, in spite of his small voice, there comes eloquent though shrill reply. Anacharsis and the “Foreigners Committee” shall have place at the Federation; on condition of telling their respective Peoples what they see there. In the meantime, we invite them to the “honours of the sitting, honneur de la séance.” A long-flowing Turk, for rejoinder, bows with Eastern solemnity, and utters articulate sounds: but owing to his imperfect knowledge of the French dialect,[297] his words are like spilt water; the thought he had in him remains conjectural to this day.

Anacharsis and Mankind accept the honours of the sitting; and have forthwith, as the old Newspapers still testify, the satisfaction to see several things. First and chief, on the motion of Lameth, Lafayette, Saint-Fargeau and other Patriot Nobles, let the others repugn as they will: all Titles of Nobility, from Duke to Esquire, or lower, are henceforth abolished. Then, in like manner, Livery Servants, or rather the Livery of Servants. Neither, for the future, shall any man or woman, self-styled noble, be “incensed,”—foolishly fumigated with incense, in Church; as the wont has been. In a word, Feudalism being dead these ten months, why should her empty trappings and scutcheons survive? The very Coats-of-arms will require to be obliterated;—and yet Cassandra-Marat on this and the other coach-panel notices that they “are but painted over,” and threaten to peer through again.

So that henceforth De Lafayette is but the Sieur Motier, and Saint-Fargeau is plain Michel Lepelletier; and Mirabeau soon after has to say huffingly, “With your Riquetti you have set Europe at cross-purposes for three days.” For his Counthood is not indifferent to this man; which indeed the admiring People treat him with to the last. But let extreme Patriotism rejoice, and chiefly Anacharsis and Mankind; for now it seems to be taken for granted that one Adam is Father of us all!—

Such was, in historical accuracy, the famed feat of Anacharsis. Thus did the most extensive of Public Bodies find a sort of spokesman. Whereby at least we may judge of one thing: what a humour the once sniffing mocking City of Paris and Baron Clootz had got into; when such exhibition could appear a propriety, next door to a sublimity. It is true, Envy did, in after times, pervert this success of Anacharsis; making him, from incidental “Speaker of the Foreign-Nations Committee,” claim to be official permanent “Speaker, Orateur, of the Human Species,” which he only deserved to be; and alleging, calumniously, that his astrological Chaldeans, and the rest, were a mere French tag-rag-and-bobtail disguised for the nonce; and, in short, sneering and fleering at him in her cold barren way: all which, however, he, the man he was, could receive on thick enough panoply, or even rebound therefrom, and also go his way.

Most extensive of Public Bodies, we may call it; and also the most unexpected: for who could have thought to see All Nations in the Tuileries Riding-Hall? But so it is; and truly as strange things may happen when a whole People goes mumming and miming. Hast not thou thyself perchance seen diademed Cleopatra, daughter of the Ptolemies, pleading, almost with bended knee, in unheroic tea-parlour, or dimlit retail-shop, to inflexible gross Burghal Dignitary, for leave to reign and die; being dressed for it, and moneyless, with small children;—while suddenly Constables have shut the Thespian barn, and her Antony pleaded in vain? Such visual spectra flit across this Earth, if the Thespian Stage be rudely interfered with: but much more, when, as it was said, Pit jumps on Stage, then is it verily, as in Herr Tieck’s Drama, a Verkehrte Welt, or World Topsy-turvied!

Having seen the Human Species itself, to have seen the “Dean of the Human Species” ceased now to be a miracle. Such “Doyen du Genre Humain, Eldest of Men,” had shown himself there, in these weeks: Jean Claude Jacob, a born Serf, deputed from his native Jura Mountains to thank the National Assembly for enfranchising them. On his bleached worn face are ploughed the furrowings of one hundred and twenty years. He has heard dim patois-talk of immortal Grand-Monarch victories; of a burned Palatinate, as he toiled and moiled to make a little speck of this Earth greener; of Cevennes Dragoonings; of Marlborough going to the war. Four generations have bloomed out, and loved and hated, and rustled off: he was forty-six when Louis Fourteenth died. The Assembly, as one man, spontaneously rose, and did reverence to the Eldest of the World; old Jean is to take séance among them, honourably, with covered head. He gazes feebly there, with his old eyes, on that new wonder-scene; dreamlike to him, and uncertain, wavering amid fragments of old memories and dreams. For Time is all growing unsubstantial, dreamlike; Jean’s eyes and mind are weary, and about to close,—and open on a far other wonder-scene, which shall be real. Patriot Subscription, Royal Pension was got for him, and he returned home glad; but in two months more he left it all, and went on his unknown way.[298]

Chapter XI: As in the Age of Gold

Meanwhile to Paris, ever going and returning, day after day, and all day long, towards that Field of Mars, it becomes painfully apparent that the spadework there cannot be got done in time. There is such an area of it; three hundred thousand square feet: for from the École Militaire (which will need to be done up in wood with balconies and galleries) westward to the Gate by the River (where also shall be wood, in triumphal arches), we count some thousand yards of length; and for breadth, from this umbrageous Avenue of eight rows, on the South Side, to that corresponding one on the North, some thousand feet more or less. All this to be scooped out, and wheeled up in slope along the sides; high enough; for it must be rammed down there, and shaped stair-wise into as many as “thirty ranges of convenient seats,” firmtrimmed with turf, covered with enduring timber;—and then our huge pyramidal Fatherland’s-Altar, Autel de la Patrie, in the centre, also to be raised and stair-stepped. Force-work with a vengeance; it is a World’s Amphitheatre! There are but fifteen days good: and at this languid rate, it might take half as many weeks. What is singular too, the spademen seem to work lazily; they will not work double-tides, even for offer of more wages, though their tide is but seven hours; they declare angrily that the human tabernacle requires occasional rest!

Is it Aristocrats secretly bribing? Aristocrats were capable of that. Only six months since, did not evidence get afloat that subterranean Paris,—for we stand over quarries and catacombs, dangerously, as it were midway between Heaven and the Abyss, and are hollow underground,—was charged with gunpowder, which should make us “leap”? Till a Cordeliers Deputation actually went to examine, and found it—carried off again![299] An accursed, incurable brood; all asking for “passports,” in these sacred days. Trouble, of rioting, château-burning, is in the Limousin and elsewhere; for they are busy! Between the best of Peoples and the best of Restorer Kings they would sow grudges; with what a fiend’s grin would they see this Federation, looked for by the Universe, fail!

Fail for want of spadework, however, it shall not. He that has four limbs and a French heart can do spadework; and will! On the first July Monday, scarcely has the signal-cannon boomed; scarcely have the languescent mercenary Fifteen Thousand laid down their tools, and the eyes of onlookers turned sorrowfully to the still high Sun; when this and the other Patriot, fire in his eye, snatches barrow and mattock, and himself begins indignantly wheeling. Whom scores and then hundreds follow; and soon a volunteer Fifteen Thousand are shovelling and trundling; with the heart of giants: and all in right order, with that extemporaneous adroitness of theirs: whereby such a lift has been given, worth three mercenary ones;—which may end when the late twilight thickens, in triumph-shouts, heard or heard of beyond Montmartre!

A sympathetic population will wait, next day, with eagerness, till the tools are free. Or why wait? Spades elsewhere exist! And so now bursts forth that effulgence of Parisian enthusiasm, good-heartedness and brotherly love; such, if Chroniclers are trustworthy, as was not witnessed since the Age of Gold. Paris, male and female, precipitates itself towards its Southwest extremity, spade on shoulder. Streams of men, without order; or in order, as ranked fellow-craftsmen, as natural or accidental reunions, march towards the Field of Mars. Three-deep these march: to the sound of stringed music; preceded by young girls with green boughs and tricolor streamers: they have shouldered, soldier-wise, their shovels and picks; and with one throat are singing ça-ira. Yes, pardieu, ça-ira, cry the passengers on the streets. All corporate Guilds, and public and private Bodies of Citizens, from the highest to the lowest, march; the very Hawkers, one finds, have ceased bawling for one day. The neighbouring Villages turn out: their able men come marching, to village fiddle or tambourine and triangle, under their Mayor, or Mayor and Curate, who also walk bespaded, and in tricolor sash. As many as one hundred and fifty thousand workers; nay, at certain seasons, as some count, two hundred and fifty thousand; for, in the afternoon especially, what mortal but, finishing his hasty day’s work, would run! A stirring City: from the time you reach the Place Louis-Quinze, southward over the River, by all Avenues, it is one living throng. So many workers; and no mercenary mock-workers, but real ones that lie freely to it: each Patriot stretches himself against the stubborn glebe; hews and wheels with the whole weight that is in him.

Amiable infants, aimables enfans! They do the “police de l’atelier” too, the guidance and governance, themselves; with that ready will of theirs, with that extemporaneous adroitness. It is a true brethren’s work; all distinctions confounded, abolished; as it was in the beginning, when Adam himself delved. Long-frocked tonsured Monks, with short-skirted Water carriers, with swallow-tailed, well-frizzled Incroyables of a Patriot turn; dark Charcoal-men, meal-white Perukemakers; or Peruke-wearers, for Advocate and Judge are there, and all Heads of Districts: sober Nuns sisterlike with flaunting Nymphs of the Opera, and females in common circumstances named unfortunate: the patriot Rag-picker, and perfumed dweller in palaces; for Patriotism, like New-birth, and also like Death, levels all. The Printers have come marching, Prudhomme’s all in Paper-caps with Révolutions de Paris printed on them;—as Camille notes; wishing that in these great days there should be a Pacte des Ecrivains too, or Federation of Able Editors.[300]Beautiful to see! The snowy linen and delicate pantaloon alternates with the soiled check-shirt and bushel-breeches; for both have cast their coats, and under both are four limbs and a set of Patriot muscles. There do they pick and shovel; or bend forward, yoked in long strings to box-barrow or overloaded tumbril; joyous, with one mind. Abbé Sieyes is seen pulling, wiry, vehement, if too light for draught; by the side of Beauharnais, who shall get Kings though he be none. Abbé Maury did not pull; but the Charcoal-men brought a mummer guised like him, and he had to pull in effigy. Let no august Senator disdain the work: Mayor Bailly, Generalissimo Lafayette are there;—and, alas, shall be there again another day! The King himself comes to see: sky-rending Vive-le-roi! “and suddenly with shouldered spades they form a guard of honour round him.” Whosoever can come comes; to work, or to look, and bless the work.

Whole families have come. One whole family we see clearly of three generations: the father picking, the mother shovelling, the young ones wheeling assiduous; old grandfather, hoary with ninety-three years, holds in his arms the youngest of all:[301] frisky, not helpful this one; who nevertheless may tell it to his grandchildren; and how the Future and the Past alike looked on, and with failing or with half-formed voice, faltered their ça-ira. A vintner has wheeled in, on Patriot truck, beverage of wine: “Drink not, my brothers, if ye are not thirsty; that your cask may last the longer”: neither did any drink but men “evidently exhausted.” A dapper Abbé looks on, sneering: “To the barrow!” cry several; whom be, lest a worse thing befall him, obeys: nevertheless one wiser Patriot barrowman, arriving now, interposes his “arrêtz”; setting down his own barrow, he snatches the Abbé’s; trundles it fast, like an infected thing, forth of the Champ-de-Mars circuit, and discharges it there. Thus too a certain person (of some quality, or private capital, to appearance), entering hastily, flings down his coat, waistcoat and two watches, and is rushing to the thick of the work: “But your watches?” cries the general voice.—“Does one distrust his brothers?” answers he; nor were the watches stolen. How beautiful is noble sentiment: like gossamer gauze, beautiful and cheap; which will stand no tear and wear! Beautiful cheap gossamer gauze, thou film-shadow of a raw-material of Virtue, which art not woven, nor likely to be, into Duty; thou art better than nothing, and also worse!

Young Boarding-school boys, College Students, shout Vive la Nation, and regret that they have yet “only their sweat to give.” What say we of Boys? Beautifullest Hebes; the loveliest of Paris, in their light air-robes, with riband-girdle of tricolor, are there; shovelling and wheeling with the rest; their Hebe eyes brighter with enthusiasm, and long hair in beautiful dishevelment; hard-pressed are their small fingers; but they make the patriot barrow go, and even force it to the summit of the slope (with a little tracing, which what man’s arm were not too happy to lend?)—then bound down with it again, and go for more; with their long locks and tricolors blown back; graceful as the rosy Hours. O, as that evening Sun fell over the Champ-de-Mars, and tinted with fire the thick umbrageous boscage that shelters it on this hand and on that, and struck direct, on those Domes and two-and-forty Windows of the École Militaire, and made them all of burnished gold,—saw he on his wide zodiac road other such sight? A living garden spotted and dotted with such flowerage; all colours of the prism; the beautifullest blent friendly with the usefullest; all growing and working brotherlike there, under one warm feeling, were it but for days; once and no second time! But Night is sinking; these nights too, into Eternity. The hastiest traveller Versailles-ward has drawn bridle on the heights of Chaillot: and looked for moments over the River; reporting at Versailles what he saw, not without tears.[302]

Meanwhile, from all points of the compass, Federates are arriving: fervid children of the South, “who glory in their Mirabeau”; considerate North-blooded Mountaineers of Jura; sharp Bretons, with their Gaelic suddenness; Normans, not to be overreached in bargain: all now animated with one noblest fire of Patriotism. Whom the Paris brethren march forth to receive; with military solemnities, with fraternal embracing, and a hospitality worthy of the heroic ages. They assist at the Assembly’s Debates, these Federates; the Galleries are reserved for them. They assist in the toils of the Champ-de-Mars; each new troop will put its hand to the spade; lift a hod of earth on the Altar of the Fatherland. But the flourishes of rhetoric, for it is a gesticulating People; the moral-sublime of those Addresses to an august Assembly, to a Patriot Restorer! Our Breton Captain of Federates kneels even, in a fit of enthusiasm, and gives up his sword; he wet-eyed to a King wet-eyed. Poor Louis! These, as he said afterwards, were among the bright days of his life.

Reviews also there must be; royal Federate-reviews, with King, Queen, and tricolor Court looking on: at lowest, if, as is too common, it rains, our Federate Volunteers will file through the inner gateways, Royalty standing dry. Nay there, should some stop occur, the beautifullest fingers in France may take you softly by the lapelle, and, in mild flute-voice, ask: “Monsieur, of what Province are you?” Happy he who can reply, chivalrously lowering his sword’s point, “Madame, from the Province your ancestors reigned over.” He that happy “Provincial Advocate,” now Provincial Federate, shall be rewarded by a sun-smile, and such melodious glad words addressed to a King: “Sire, these are your faithful Lorrainers.” Cheerier verily, in these holidays, is this “skyblue faced with red” of a National Guardsman, than the dull black and grey of a Provincial Advocate, which in workdays one was used to. For the same thrice-blessed Lorrainer shall, this evening, stand sentry at a Queen’s door; and feel that he could die a thousand deaths for her: then again, at the outer gate, and even a third time, she shall see him; nay he will make her do it; presenting arms with emphasis, “making his musket jingle again”: and in her salute there shall again be a sun-smile, and that little blonde-locked too hasty Dauphin shall be admonished, “Salute then, Monsieur, don’t be unpolite”; and therewith she, like a bright Sky-wanderer or Planet with her little Moon, issues forth peculiar.[303]

But at night, when Patriot spadework is over, figure the sacred rights of hospitality! Lepelletier Saint-Fargeau, a mere private senator, but with great possessions, has daily “his hundred dinner-guests”; the table of Generalissimo Lafayette may double that number. In lowly parlour, as in lofty saloon, the wine-cup passes round; crowned by the smiles of Beauty; be it of lightly-tripping Grisette or of high-sailing Dame, for both equally have beauty, and smiles precious to the brave.

Chapter XII: Sound and Smoke

And so now, in spite of plotting Aristocrats, lazy hired spademen, and almost of Destiny itself (for there has been much rain too), the Champ-de-Mars, on the 13th of the month, is fairly ready: trimmed, rammed, buttressed with firm masonry; and Patriotism can stroll over it admiring; and as it were rehearsing, for in every head is some unutterable image of the morrow. Pray Heaven there be not clouds. Nay what far worse cloud is this, of a misguided Municipality that talks of admitting Patriotism to the solemnity by tickets! Was it by tickets we were admitted to the work; and to what brought the work? Did we take the Bastille by tickets? A misguided Municipality sees the error; at late midnight, rolling drums announce to Patriotism starting half out of its bed-clothes, that it is to be ticketless. Pull down thy night-cap therefore; and, with demi-articulate grumble, significant of several things, go pacified to sleep again. To-morrow is Wednesday morning; unforgettable among the fasti of the world.

The morning comes, cold for a July one; but such a festivity would make Greenland smile. Through every inlet of that National Amphitheatre (for it is a league in circuit, cut with openings at due intervals), floods in the living throng; covers, without tumult, space after space. The École Militaire has galleries and overvaulting canopies, wherein Carpentry and Painting have vied, for the Upper Authorities; triumphal arches, at the Gate by the River, bear inscriptions, if weak, yet well-meant, and orthodox. Far aloft, over the Altar of the Fatherland, on their tall crane standards of iron, swing pensile our antique Cassolettes or Pans of Incense; dispensing sweet incense-fumes,—unless for the Heathen Mythology, one sees not for whom. Two hundred thousand Patriotic Men; and, twice as good, one hundred thousand Patriotic Women, all decked and glorified as one can fancy, sit waiting in this Champ-de-Mars.

What a picture: that circle of bright-dyed Life, spread up there, on its thirty-seated Slope; leaning, one would say, on the thick umbrage of those Avenue-Trees, for the stems of them are hidden by the height; and all beyond it mere greenness of Summer Earth, with the gleam of waters, or white sparklings of stone-edifices: little circular enamel-picture in the centre of such a vase—of emerald! A vase not empty: the Invalides Cupolas want not their population, not the distant Wind-mills of Montmartre; on remotest steeple and invisible village belfry, stand men with spy-glasses. On the heights of Chaillot are many-coloured undulating groups; round and far on, over all the circling heights that embosom Paris, it is as one more or less peopled Amphitheatre; which the eye grows dim with measuring. Nay heights, as was before hinted, have cannon; and a floating-battery of cannon is on the Seine. When eye fails, ear shall serve; and all France properly is but one Amphitheatre; for in paved town and unpaved hamlet, men walk listening; till the muffled thunder sound audible on their horizon, that they too may begin swearing and firing![304] But now, to streams of music, come Federates enough,—for they have assembled on the Boulevard Saint-Antoine or thereby, and come marching through the City, with their Eighty-three Department Banners, and blessings not loud but deep; comes National Assembly, and takes seat under its canopy; comes Royalty, and takes seat on a throne beside it. And Lafayette, on white charger, is here, and all the civic Functionaries; and the Federates form dances, till their strictly military evolutions and manœuvres can begin.

Evoultions and manœuvres? Task not the pen of mortal to describe them: truant imagination droops;—declares that it is not worth while. There is wheeling and sweeping, to slow, to quick and double-quick time: Sieur Motier, or Generalissimo Lafayette, for they are one and the same, and he is General of France, in the King’s stead, for four-and-twenty hours; Sieur Motier must step forth, with that sublime chivalrous gait of his; solemnly ascend the steps of the Fatherland’s Altar, in sight of Heaven and of the scarcely breathing Earth; and, under the creak of those swinging Cassolettes, “pressing his sword’s point firmly there,” pronounce the Oath, To King, to Law, and Nation (not to mention “grains” with their circulating), in his own name and that of armed France. Whereat there is waving of banners, and acclaim sufficient. The National Assembly must swear, standing in its place; the King himself audibly. The King swears; and now be the welkin split with vivats: let citizens enfranchised embrace, each smiting heartily his palm into his fellow’s; and armed Federates clang their arms; above all, that floating battery speak! It has spoken,—to the four corners of France. From eminence to eminence bursts the thunder; faint-heard, loud-repeated. What a stone, cast into what a lake; in circles that do not grow fainter. From Arras to Avignon; from Metz to Bayonne! Over Orléans and Blois it rolls, in cannon-recitative; Puy bellows of it amid his granite mountains; Pau where is the shell-cradle of Great Henri. At far Marseilles, one can think, the ruddy evening witnesses it; over the deep blue Mediterranean waters, the Castle of If ruddy-tinted darts forth, from every cannon’s mouth, its tongue of fire; and all the people shout: Yes, France is free. O glorious France, that has burst out so; into universal sound and smoke; and attained—the Phrygian Cap of Liberty! In all Towns, Trees of Liberty also may be planted; with or without advantage. Said we not, it was the highest stretch attained by the Thespian Art on this Planet, or perhaps attainable?

The Thespian Art, unfortunately, one must still call it; for behold there, on this Field of Mars, the National Banners, before there could be any swearing, were to be all blessed. A most proper operation; since surely without Heaven’s blessing bestowed, say even, audibly or inaudibly sought, no Earthly banner or contrivance can prove victorious: but now the means of doing it? By what thrice-divine Franklin thunder-rod shall miraculous fire be drawn out of Heaven; and descend gently, lifegiving, with health to the souls of men? Alas, by the simplest: by Two Hundred shaven-crowned Individuals, “in snow-white albs, with tricolor girdles,” arranged on the steps of Fatherland’s Altar; and, at their head for spokesman, Soul’s-Overseer Talleyrand-Perigord! These shall act as miraculous thunder-rod,—to such length as they can. O ye deep azure Heavens, and thou green all-nursing Earth; ye Streams ever-flowing; deciduous Forests that die and are born again, continually, like the sons of men; stone Mountains that die daily with every rain-shower, yet are not dead and levelled for ages of ages, nor born again (it seems) but with new world-explosions, and such tumultuous seething and tumbling, steam halfway to the Moon; O thou unfathomable mystic All, garment and dwelling-place of the UNNAMED; and thou, articulate-speaking Spirit of Man, who mouldest and modellest that Unfathomable Unnameable even as we see,—is not there a miracle: That some French mortal should, we say not have believed, but pretended to imagine he believed that Talleyrand and Two Hundred pieces of white Calico could do it!

Here, however, we are to remark with the sorrowing Historians of that day, that suddenly, while Episcopus Talleyrand, long-stoled, with mitre and tricolor belt, was yet but hitching up the Altar-steps to do his miracle, the material Heaven grew black; a north-wind, moaning cold moisture, began to sing; and there descended a very deluge of rain. Sad to see! The thirty-staired Seats, all round our Amphitheatre, get instantaneously slated with mere umbrellas, fallacious when so thick set: our antique Cassolettes become water-pots; their incense-smoke gone hissing, in a whiff of muddy vapour. Alas, instead of vivats, there is nothing now but the furious peppering and rattling. From three to four hundred thousand human individuals feel that they have a skin; happily impervious. The General’s sash runs water: how all military banners droop; and will not wave, but lazily flap, as if metamorphosed into painted tin-banners! Worse, far worse, these hundred thousand, such is the Historian’s testimony, of the fairest of France! Their snowy muslins all splashed and draggled; the ostrich-feather shrunk shamefully to the backbone of a feather: all caps are ruined; innermost pasteboard molten into its original pap: Beauty no longer swims decorated in her garniture, like Love-goddess hidden-revealed in her Paphian clouds, but struggles in disastrous imprisonment in it, for “the shape was noticeable”; and now only sympathetic interjections, titterings, teeheeings, and resolute good humour will avail. A deluge; an incessant sheet or fluid-column of rain;—such that our Overseer’s very mitre must be filled; not a mitre, but a filled and leaky fire-bucket on his reverend head!—Regardless of which, Overseer Talleyrand performs his miracle: the Blessing of Talleyrand, another than that of Jacob, is on all the Eighty-three departmental flags of France; which wave or flap, with such thankfulness as needs. Towards three o’clock, the sun beams out again: the remaining evolutions can be transacted under bright heavens, though with decorations much damaged.[305]

On Wednesday our Federation is consummated: but the festivities last out the week, and over into the next. Festivities such as no Bagdad Caliph, or Aladdin with the Lamp, could have equalled. There is a Jousting on the River; with its water-somersets, splashing and hahaing: Abbé Fauchet, Te Deum Fauchet, preaches, for his part, in the “rotunda of the Corn-market,” a funeral harangue on Franklin; for whom the National Assembly has lately gone three days in black. The Motier and Lepelletier tables still groan with viands; roofs ringing with patriotic toasts. On the fifth evening, which is the Christian Sabbath, there is a universal Ball. Paris, out of doors and in, man, woman and child, is jigging it, to the sound of harp and four-stringed fiddle. The hoariest-headed man will tread one other measure, under this nether Moon; speechless nurselings, infants as we call them, νήπια τκνα , crow in arms; and sprawl out numb-plump little limbs,—impatient for muscularity, they know not why. The stiffest balk bends more or less; all joists creak.

Or out, on the Earth’s breast itself, behold the Ruins of the Bastille. All lamplit, allegorically decorated; a Tree of Liberty sixty feet high; and Phrygian Cap on it, of size enormous, under which King Arthur and his round-table might have dined! In the depths of the background is a single lugubrious lamp, rendering dim-visible one of your iron cages, half-buried, and some Prison stones,—Tyranny vanishing downwards, all gone but the skirt: the rest wholly lamp-festoons, trees real or of pasteboard; in the similitude of a fairy grove; with this inscription, readable to runner: “Ici l’on danse, Dancing Here.” As indeed had been obscurely foreshadowed by Cagliostro[306] prophetic Quack of Quacks, when he, four years ago, quitted the grim durance;—to fall into a grimmer, of the Roman Inquisition, and not quit it.

But, after all, what is this Bastille business to that of the Champs Elysées! Thither, to these Fields well named Elysian, all feet tend. It is radiant as day with festooned lamps; little oil-cups, like variegated fireflies, daintily illume the highest leaves: trees there are all sheeted with variegated fire, shedding far a glimmer into the dubious wood. There, under the free sky, do tight-limbed Federates, with fairest new-found sweethearts, elastic as Diana, and not of that coyness and tart humour of Diana, thread their jocund mazes, all through the ambrosial night; and hearts were touched and fired; and seldom surely had our old Planet, in that huge conic Shadow of hers “which goes beyond the Moon, and is named Night,” curtained such a Ballroom. O if, according to Seneca, the very gods look down on a good man struggling with adversity, and smile; what must they think of Five-and-twenty million indifferent ones victorious over it,—for eight days and more?

In this way, and in such ways, however, has the Feast of Pikes danced itself off: gallant Federates wending homewards, towards every point of the compass, with feverish nerves, heart and head much heated; some of them, indeed, as Dampmartin’s elderly respectable friend from Strasburg, quite “burnt out with liquors,” and flickering towards extinction.[307]The Feast of Pikes has danced itself off, and become defunct, and the ghost of a Feast;—nothing of it now remaining but this vision in men’s memory; and the place that knew it (for the slope of that Champ-de-Mars is crumbled to half the original height[308] now knowing it no more. Undoubtedly one of the memorablest National Hightides. Never or hardly ever, as we said, was Oath sworn with such heart-effusion, emphasis and expenditure of joyance; and then it was broken irremediably within year and day. Ah, why? When the swearing of it was so heavenly-joyful, bosom clasped to bosom, and Five-and-twenty million hearts all burning together; O ye inexorable Destinies, why?—Partly because it was sworn with such over-joyance; but chiefly, indeed, for an older reason: that Sin had come into the world, and Misery by Sin! These Five-and-twenty millions, if we will consider it, have now henceforth, with that Phrygian Cap of theirs, no force over them, to bind and guide; neither in them, more than heretofore, is guiding force, or rule of just living: how then, while they all go rushing at such a pace, on unknown ways, with no bridle, towards no aim, can hurly-burly unutterable fail? For verily not Federation-rosepink is the colour of this Earth and her work: not by outbursts of noble sentiment, but with far other ammunition, shall a man front the world.

But how wise, in all cases, to “husband your fire”; to keep it deep down, rather, as genial radical-heat! Explosions, the forciblest, and never so well directed, are questionable; far oftenest futile, always frightfully wasteful: but think of a man, of a Nation of men, spending its whole stock of fire in one artificial Firework! So have we seen fond weddings (for individuals, like Nations, have their Hightides) celebrated with an outburst of triumph and deray, at which the elderly shook their heads. Better had a serious cheerfulness been; for the enterprise was great. Fond pair! the more triumphant ye feel, and victorious over terrestrial evil, which seems all abolished, the wider-eyed will your disappointment be to find terrestrial evil still extant. “And why extant?” will each of you cry: “Because my false mate has played the traitor: evil was abolished; I, for one, meant faithfully, and did, or would have done!” Whereby the over-sweet moon of honey changes itself into long years of vinegar: perhaps divulsive vinegar, like Hannibal’s.

Shall we say then, the French Nation has led Royalty, or wooed and teased poor Royalty to lead her, to the hymeneal Fatherland’s Altar, in such over-sweet manner; and has, most thoughtlessly, to celebrate the nuptials with due shine and demonstration,—burnt her bed?

Book II: Nanci

Chapter I: Bouillé

Dimly visible, at Metz on the North-Eastern frontier, a certain brave Bouillé, last refuge of Royalty in all straits and meditations of flight, has for many months hovered occasionally in our eye; some name or shadow of a brave Bouillé: let us now, for a little, look fixedly at him, till he become a substance and person for us. The man himself is worth a glance; his position and procedure there, in these days, will throw light on many things.

For it is with Bouillé as with all French Commanding Officers; only in a more emphatic degree. The grand National Federation, we already guess, was but empty sound, or worse: a last loudest universal Hephep-hurrah, with full bumpers, in that National Lapithae-feast of Constitution-making; as in loud denial of the palpably existing; as if, with hurrahings, you would shut out notice of the inevitable, already knocking at the gates! Which new National bumper, one may say, can but deepen the drunkenness; and so, the louder it swears Brotherhood, will the sooner and the more surely lead to Cannibalism. Ah, under that fraternal shine and clangour, what a deep world of irreconcilable discords lie momentarily assuaged, damped down for one moment! Respectable military Federates have barely got home to their quarters; and the inflammablest, “dying, burnt up with liquors, and kindness,” has not yet got extinct; the shine is hardly out of men’s eyes, and still blazes filling all men’s memories,—when your discords burst forth again very considerably darker than ever. Let us look at Bouillé, and see how.

Bouillé for the present commands in the Garrison of Metz, and far and wide over the East and North; being indeed, by a late act of Government with sanction of National Assembly, appointed one of our Four supreme Generals. Rochambeau and Mailly, men and Marshals of note in these days, though to us of small moment, are two of his colleagues; tough old babbling Lückner, also of small moment for us, will probably be the third. Marquis de Bouillé is a determined Loyalist; not indeed disinclined to moderate reform, but resolute against immoderate. A man long suspect to Patriotism; who has more than once given the august Assembly trouble; who would not, for example, take the National Oath, as he was bound to do, but always put it off on this or the other pretext, till an autograph of Majesty requested him to do it as a favour. There, in this post, if not of honour yet of eminence and danger, he waits, in a silent concentrated manner; very dubious of the future. “Alone,” as he says, or almost alone, of all the old military Notabilities, he has not emigrated; but thinks always, in atrabiliar moments, that there will be nothing for him too but to cross the marches. He might cross, say, to Treves or Coblentz where Exiled Princes will be one day ranking; or say, over into Luxemburg where old Broglie loiters and languishes. Or is there not the great dim Deep of European Diplomacy; where your Calonnes, your Breteuils are beginning to hover, dimly discernible?

With immeasurable confused outlooks and purposes, with no clear purpose but this of still trying to do his Majesty a service, Bouillé waits; struggling what he can to keep his district loyal, his troops faithful, his garrisons furnished. He maintains, as yet, with his Cousin Lafayette some thin diplomatic correspondence, by letter and messenger; chivalrous constitutional professions on the one side, military gravity and brevity on the other; which thin correspondence one can see growing ever the thinner and hollower, towards the verge of entire vacuity.[309] A quick, choleric, sharply discerning, stubbornly endeavouring man; with suppressed-explosive resolution, with valour, nay headlong audacity: a man who was more in his place, lionlike defending those Windward Isles, or, as with military tiger-spring, clutching Nevis and Montserrat from the English,—than here in this suppressed condition, muzzled and fettered by diplomatic packthreads; looking out for a civil war, which may never arrive. Few years ago Bouillé was to have led a French East-Indian Expedition, and reconquered or conquered Pondicherri and the Kingdoms of the Sun: but the whole world is suddenly changed, and he with it; Destiny willed it not in that way, but in this.

Chapter II: Arrears and Aristocrats

Indeed, as to the general outlook of things, Bouillé himself augurs not well of it. The French army, ever since those old Bastille days, and earlier, has been universally in the questionablest state, and growing daily worse. Discipline, which is at all times a kind of miracle, and works by faith, broke down then; one sees not with what near prospect of recovering itself. The Gardes Françaises played a deadly game; but how they won it, and wear the prizes of it, all men know. In that general overturn, we saw the Hired Fighters refuse to fight. The very Swiss of Château-Vieux, which indeed is a kind of French Swiss, from Geneva and the Pays de Vaud, are understood to have declined. Deserters glided over; Royal-Allemand itself looked disconsolate, though stanch of purpose. In a word, we there saw Military Rule, in the shape of poor Besenval with that convulsive unmanageable Camp of his, pass two martyr days on the Champ-de-Mars; and then, veiling itself, so to speak, “under cloud of night,” depart “down the left bank of the Seine,” to seek refuge elsewhere; this ground having clearly become too hot for it.

But what new ground to seek, what remedy to try? Quarters that were “uninfected”: this doubtless, with judicious strictness of drilling, were the plan. Alas, in all quarters and places, from Paris onward to the remotest hamlet, is infection, is seditious contagion: inhaled, propagated by contact and converse, till the dullest soldier catch it! There is speech of men in uniform with men not in uniform; men in uniform read journals, and even write in them.[310]There are public petitions or remonstrances, private emissaries and associations; there is discontent, jealousy, uncertainty, sullen suspicious humour. The whole French Army, fermenting in dark heat, glooms ominous, boding good to no one.

So that, in the general social dissolution and revolt, we are to have this deepest and dismallest kind of it, a revolting soldiery? Barren, desolate to look upon is this same business of revolt under all its aspects; but how infinitely more so, when it takes the aspect of military mutiny! The very implement of rule and restraint, whereby all the rest was managed and held in order, has become precisely the frightfullest immeasurable implement of misrule; like the element of Fire, our indispensable all-ministering servant, when it gets the mastery, and becomes conflagration. Discipline we called a kind of miracle: in fact, is it not miraculous how one man moves hundreds of thousands; each unit of whom, it may be, loves him not, and singly fears him not, yet has to obey him, to go hither or go thither, to march and halt, to give death, and even to receive it, as if a Fate had spoken; and the word-of-command becomes, almost in the literal sense, a magic-word?

Which magic-word, again, if it be once forgotten; the spell of it once broken! The legions of assiduous ministering spirits rise on you now as menacing fiends; your free orderly arena becomes a tumult-place of the Nether Pit, and the hapless magician is rent limb from limb. Military mobs are mobs with muskets in their hands; and also with death hanging over their heads, for death is the penalty of disobedience, and they have disobeyed. And now if all mobs are properly frenzies, and work frenetically with mad fits of hot and of cold, fierce rage alternating so incoherently with panic terror, consider what your military mob will be, with such a conflict of duties and penalties, whirled between remorse and fury, and, for the hot fit, loaded firearms in its hand! To the soldier himself, revolt is frightful, and oftenest perhaps pitiable; and yet so dangerous, it can only be hated, cannot be pitied. An anomalous class of mortals these poor Hired Killers! With a frankness, which to the Moralist in these times seems surprising, they have sworn to become machines; and nevertheless they are still partly men. Let no prudent person in authority remind them of this latter fact; but always let force, let injustice above all, stop short clearly on this side of the rebounding-point! Soldiers, as we often say, do revolt: were it not so, several things which are transient in this world might be perennial.

Over and above the general quarrel which all sons of Adam maintain with their lot here below, the grievances of the French soldiery reduce themselves to two. First, that their Officers are Aristocrats; secondly, that they cheat them of their Pay. Two grievances; or rather we might say one, capable of becoming a hundred; for in that single first proposition, that the Officers are Aristocrats, what a multitude of corollaries lie ready! It is a bottomless ever-flowing fountain of grievances this; what you may call a general raw-material of grievance, wherefrom individual grievance after grievance will daily body itself forth. Nay there will even be a kind of comfort in getting it, from time to time, so embodied. Peculation of one’s Pay! It is embodied; made tangible, made denounceable; exhalable, if only in angry words.

For unluckily that grand fountain of grievances does exist: Aristocrats almost all our Officers necessarily are; they have it in the blood and bone. By the law of the case, no man can pretend to be the pitifullest lieutenant of militia till he have first verified, to the satisfaction of the Lion-King, a Nobility of four generations. Not nobility only, but four generations of it: this latter is the improvement hit upon, in comparatively late years, by a certain War-minister much pressed for commissions.[311]An improvement which did relieve the overpressed War-minister, but which split France still further into yawning contrasts of Commonalty and Nobility, nay of new Nobility and old; as if already with your new and old, and then with your old, older and oldest, there were not contrasts and discrepancies enough;—the general clash whereof men now see and hear, and in the singular whirlpool, all contrasts gone together to the bottom! Gone to the bottom or going; with uproar, without return; going everywhere save in the Military section of things; and there, it may be asked, can they hope to continue always at the top? Apparently, not.

It is true, in a time of external Peace, when there is no fighting, but only drilling, this question, How you rise from the ranks, may seem theoretical rather. But in reference to the Rights of Man it is continually practical. The soldier has sworn to be faithful not to the King only, but to the Law and the Nation. Do our commanders love the Revolution? ask all soldiers. Unhappily no, they hate it, and love the Counter-Revolution. Young epauletted men, with quality-blood in them, poisoned with quality-pride, do sniff openly, with indignation struggling to become contempt, at our Rights of Man, as at some newfangled cobweb, which shall be brushed down again. Old Officers, more cautious, keep silent, with closed uncurled lips; but one guesses what is passing within. Nay who knows, how, under the plausiblest word of command, might lie Counter-Revolution itself, sale to Exiled Princes and the Austrian Kaiser: treacherous Aristocrats hoodwinking the small insight of us common men?—In such manner works that general raw-material of grievance; disastrous; instead of trust and reverence, breeding hate, endless suspicion, the impossibility of commanding and obeying. And now when this second more tangible grievance has articulated itself universally in the mind of the common man: Peculation of his Pay! Peculation of the despicablest sort does exist, and has long existed; but, unless the new-declared Rights of Man, and all rights whatsoever, be a cobweb, it shall no longer exist.

The French Military System seems dying a sorrowful suicidal death. Nay more, citizen, as is natural, ranks himself against citizen in this cause. The soldier finds audience, of numbers and sympathy unlimited, among the Patriot lower-classes. Nor are the higher wanting to the officer. The officer still dresses and perfumes himself for such sad unemigrated soirée as there may still be; and speaks his woes,— which woes, are they not Majesty’s and Nature’s? Speaks, at the same time, his gay defiance, his firm-set resolution. Citizens, still more Citizenesses, see the right and the wrong; not the Military System alone will die by suicide, but much along with it. As was said, there is yet possible a deeper overturn than any yet witnessed: that deepest upturn of the black-burning sulphurous stratum whereon all rests and grows!

But how these things may act on the rude soldier-mind, with its military pedantries, its inexperience of all that lies off the parade-ground; inexperience as of a child, yet fierceness of a man, and vehemence of a Frenchman! It is long that secret communings in mess-room and guard-room, sour looks, thousandfold petty vexations between commander and commanded, measure everywhere the weary military day. Ask Captain Dampmartin; an authentic, ingenious literary officer of horse; who loves the Reign of Liberty, after a sort: yet has had his heart grieved to the quick many times, in the hot South-Western region and elsewhere; and has seen riot, civil battle by daylight and by torchlight, and anarchy hatefuller than death. How insubordinate Troopers, with drink in their heads, meet Captain Dampmartin and another on the ramparts, where there is no escape or side-path; and make military salute punctually, for we look calm on them; yet make it in a snappish, almost insulting manner: how one morning they “leave all their chamois shirts” and superfluous buffs, which they are tired of, laid in piles at the Captains’ doors; whereat “we laugh,” as the ass does eating thistles: nay how they “knot two forage-cords together,” with universal noisy cursing, with evident intent to hang the Quartermaster:—all this the worthy Captain, looking on it through the ruddy-and-sable of fond regretful memory, has flowingly written down.[312]Men growl in vague discontent; officers fling up their commissions, and emigrate in disgust.

Or let us ask another literary Officer; not yet Captain; Sub-lieutenant only, in the Artillery Regiment La Fère: a young man of twenty-one; not unentitled to speak; the name of him is Napoleon Bonaparte. To such height of Sub-lieutenancy has he now got promoted, from Brienne School, five years ago; “being found qualified in mathematics by La Place.” He is lying at Auxonne, in the West, in these months; not sumptuously lodged—“in the house of a Barber, to whose wife he did not pay the customary degree of respect”; or even over at the Pavillon, in a chamber with bare walls; the only furniture an indifferent “bed without curtains, two chairs, and in the recess of a window a table covered with books and papers: his Brother Louis sleeps on a coarse mattress in an adjoining room.” However, he is doing something great: writing his first Book or Pamphlet,—eloquent vehement Letter to M. Matteo Buttafuoco, our Corsican Deputy, who is not a Patriot, but an Aristocrat unworthy of Deputyship. Joly of Dôle is Publisher. The literary Sub-lieutenant corrects the proofs; “sets out on foot from Auxonne, every morning at four o’clock, for Dôle: after looking over the proofs, he partakes of an extremely frugal breakfast with Joly, and immediately prepares for returning to his Garrison; where he arrives before noon, having thus walked above twenty miles in the course of the morning.”

This Sub-lieutenant can remark that, in drawing-rooms, on streets, on highways, at inns, everywhere men’s minds are ready to kindle into a flame. That a Patriot, if he appear in the drawing-room, or amid a group of officers, is liable enough to be discouraged, so great is the majority against him: but no sooner does he get into the street, or among the soldiers, than he feels again as if the whole Nation were with him. That after the famous Oath, To the King, to the Nation, and Law, there was a great change; that before this, if ordered to fire on the people, he for one would have done it in the King’s name; but that after this, in the Nation’s name, he would not have done it. Likewise that the Patriot officers, more numerous too in the Artillery and Engineers than elsewhere, were few in number; yet that having the soldiers on their side, they ruled the regiment; and did often deliver the Aristocrat brother officer out of peril and strait. One day, for example, “a member of our own mess roused the mob, by singing, from the windows of our dining-room, O Richard, O my King; and I had to snatch him from their fury.”[313]

All which let the reader multiply by ten thousand; and spread it, with slight variations, over all the camps and garrisons of France. The French Army seems on the verge of universal mutiny.

Universal mutiny! There is in that what may well make Patriot Constitutionalism and an august Assembly shudder. Something behoves to be done; yet what to do no man can tell. Mirabeau proposes even that the Soldiery, having come to such a pass, be forthwith disbanded, the whole Two Hundred and Eighty Thousand of them; and organized anew.[314] Impossible this, in so sudden a manner! cry all men. And yet literally, answer we, it is inevitable, in one manner or another. Such an army, with its four-generation Nobles, its peculated Pay, and men knotting forage-cords to hang their Quartermaster, cannot subsist beside such a Revolution. Your alternative is a slow-pining chronic dissolution and new organization; or a swift decisive one; the agonies spread over years, or concentred into an hour. With a Mirabeau for Minister or Governor, the latter had been the choice; with no Mirabeau for Governor, it will naturally be the former.

Chapter III: Bouillé at Metz

To Bouillé, in his North-Eastern circle, none of these things are altogether hid. Many times flight over the marches gleams out on him as a last guidance in such bewilderment: nevertheless he continues here; struggling always to hope the best, not from new organization, but from happy Counter-Revolution and return to the old. For the rest, it is clear to him that this same National Federation, and universal swearing and fraternizing of People and Soldiers, has done “incalculable mischief.” So much that fermented secretly has hereby got vent, and become open: National Guards and Soldiers of the line, solemnly embracing one another on all parade-fields, drinking, swearing patriotic oaths, fall into disorderly street-processions, constitutional unmilitary exclamations and hurrahings. On which account the regiment Picardie, for one, has to be drawn out in the square of the barracks, here at Metz, and sharply harangued by the General himself; but expresses penitence.[315]

Far and near, as accounts testify, insubordination has begun grumbling louder and louder. Officers have been seen shut up in their mess-rooms; assaulted with clamorous demands, not without menaces. The insubordinate ringleader is dismissed with “yellow furlough”; yellow infamous thing they call cartouche jaune: but ten new ringleaders rise in his stead, and the yellow cartouche ceases to be thought disgraceful. “Within a fortnight,” or at furthest a month, of that sublime Feast of Pikes, the whole French Army, demanding Arrears, forming Reading Clubs, frequenting Popular Societies, is in a state which Bouillé can call by no name but that of mutiny. Bouillé knows it as few do; and speaks by dire experience. Take one instance instead of many.

It is still an early day of August, the precise date now undiscoverable, when Bouillé, about to set out for the waters of Aix-la-Chapelle, is once more suddenly summoned to the barracks of Metz. The soldiers stand ranged in fighting order, muskets loaded, the officers all there on compulsion; and required with many-voiced emphasis to have their arrears paid. Picardie was penitent; but we see it has relapsed: the wide space bristles and lours with mere mutinous armed men. Brave Bouillé advances to the nearest Regiment, opens his commanding lips to harangue; obtains nothing but querulous-indignant discordance, and the sound of so many thousand livres legally due. The moment is trying; there are some ten thousand soldiers now in Metz, and one spirit seems to have spread among them.

Bouillé is firm as the adamant; but what shall he do? A German Regiment, named of Salm, is thought to be of better temper: nevertheless Salm too may have heard of the precept, Thou shalt not steal; Salm too may know that money is money. Bouillé walks trustfully towards the Regiment de Salm, speaks trustful words; but here again is answered by the cry of forty-four thousand livres odd sous. A cry waxing more and more vociferous, as Salm’s humour mounts; which cry, as it will produce no cash or promise of cash, ends in the wide simultaneous whirr of shouldered muskets, and a determined quick-time march on the part of Salm—towards its Colonel’s house, in the next street, there to seize the colours and military chest. Thus does Salm, for its part; strong in the faith that meum is not tuum, that fair speeches are not forty-four thousand livres odd sous.

Unrestrainable! Salm tramps to military time, quick consuming the way. Bouillé and the officers, drawing sword, have to dash into double-quick pas-de-charge, or unmilitary running; to get the start; to station themselves on the outer staircase, and stand there with what of deathdefiance and sharp steel they have; Salm truculently coiling itself up, rank after rank, opposite them, in such humour as we can fancy, which happily has not yet mounted to the murder-pitch. There will Bouillé stand, certain at least of one man’s purpose: in grim calmness, awaiting the issue. What the intrepidest of men and generals can do is done. Bouillé, though there is a barricading picket at each end of the street, and death under his eyes, contrives to send for a Dragoon Regiment with orders to charge: the dragoon officers mount; the dragoon men will not: hope is none there for him. The street, as we say, barricaded; the Earth all shut out, only the indifferent heavenly Vault overhead: perhaps here or there a timorous householder peering out of window, with prayer for Bouillé; copious Rascality, on the pavement, with prayer for Salm: there do the two parties stand;—like chariots locked in a narrow thoroughfare; like locked wrestlers at a dead-grip! For two hours they stand: Bouillé’s sword glittering in his hand, adamantine resolution clouding his brows: for two hours by the clocks of Metz. Moody-silent stands Salm, with occasional clangour; but does not fire. Rascality, from time to time, urges some grenadier to level his musket at the General; who looks on it as a bronze General would: and always some corporal or other strikes it up.

In such remarkable attitude, standing on that staircase for two hours, does brave Bouillé, long a shadow, dawn on us visibly out of the dimness, and become a person. For the rest, since Salm has not shot him at the first instant, and since in himself there is no variableness, the danger will diminish. The Mayor, “a man infinitely respectable,” with his Municipals and tricolor sashes, finally gains entrance; remonstrates, perorates, promises; gets Salm persuaded home to its barracks. Next day, our respectable Mayor lending the money, the officers pay down the half of the demand in ready cash. With which liquidation Salm pacifies itself; and for the present all is hushed up, as much as may be.[316]

Such scenes as this of Metz, or preparations and demonstrations towards such, are universal over France: Dampmartin, with his knotted forage-cords and piled chamois-jackets, is at Strasburg in the SouthEast; in these same days or rather nights, Royal Champagne is “shouting Vive la Nation, au diable les Aristocrates, with some thirty lit candles,” at Hesdin, on the far North-West. “The garrison of Bitche,” Deputy Rewbell is sorry to state, “went out of the town with drums beating; deposed its officers; and then returned into the town, sabre in hand.”[317] Ought not a National Assembly to occupy itself with these objects? Military France is everywhere full of sour inflammatory humour, which exhales itself fuliginously, this way or that: a whole continent of smoking flax; which, blown on here or there by any angry wind, might so easily start into a blaze, into a continent of fire.

Constitutional Patriotism is in deep natural alarm at these things. The august Assembly sits diligently deliberating; dare nowise resolve, with Mirabeau, on an instantaneous disbandment and extinction; finds that a course of palliatives is easier. But at least and lowest, this grievance of the Arrears shall be rectified. A plan, much noised of in those days, under the name “Decree of the Sixth of August,” has been devised for that. Inspectors shall visit all armies; and, with certain elected corporals and “soldiers able to write,” verify what arrears and peculations do lie due, and make them good. Well, if in this way the smoky heat be cooled down; if it be not, as we say, ventilated over-much, or, by sparks and collision somewhere, sent up!

Chapter IV: Arrears at Nanci

We are to remark, however, that of all districts, this of Bouillé’s seems the inflammablest. It was always to Bouillé and Metz that Royalty would fly: Austria lies near; here more than elsewhere must the disunited People look over the borders, into a dim sea of Foreign Politics and Diplomacies, with hope or apprehension, with mutual exasperation.

It was but in these days that certain Austrian troops, marching peaceably across an angle of this region, seemed an Invasion realized; and there rushed towards Stenai, with musket on shoulder, from all the winds, some thirty thousand National Guards, to inquire what the matter was.[318]A matter of mere diplomacy it proved; the Austrian Kaiser, in haste to get to Belgium, had bargained for this short cut. The infinite dim movement of European politics waved a skirt over these spaces, passing on its way; like the passing shadow of a condor; and such a winged flight of thirty thousand, with mixed cackling and crowing, rose in consequence! For, in addition to all, this people, as we said, is much divided: Aristocrats abound; Patriotism has both Aristocrats and Austrians to watch. It is Lorraine, this region; not so illuminated as old France: it remembers ancient Feudalisms; nay, within man’s memory it had a Court and King of its own, or indeed the splendour of a Court and King, without the burden. Then, contrariwise, the Mother Society, which sits in the Jacobins Church at Paris, has Daughters in the Towns here; shrill-tongued, driven acrid: consider how the memory of good King Stanislaus, and ages of Imperial Feudalism, may comport with this New acrid Evangel, and what a virulence of discord there may be! In all which, the Soldiery, officers on one side, private men on the other, takes part, and now indeed principal part; a Soldiery, moreover, all the hotter here as it lies the denser, the frontier Province requiring more of it.

So stands Lorraine: but the capital City more especially so. The pleasant City of Nanci, which faded Feudalism loves, where King Stanislaus personally dwelt and shone, has an Aristocrat Municipality, and then also a Daughter Society: it has some forty thousand divided souls of population; and three large Regiments, one of which is Swiss Château-Vieux, dear to Patriotism ever since it refused fighting, or was thought to refuse, in the Bastille days. Here unhappily all evil influences seem to meet concentred; here, of all places, may jealousy and heat evolve itself. These many months, accordingly, man has been set against man. Washed against Unwashed; Patriot Soldier against Aristocrat Captain, ever the more bitterly: and a long score of grudges has been running up.

Nameable grudges, and likewise unnameable: for there is a punctual nature in Wrath; and daily, were there but glances of the eye, tones of the voice, and minutest commissions or omissions, it will jot down somewhat, to account, under the head of sundries, which always swells the sum-total. For example, in April last, in those times of preliminary Federation, when National Guards and Soldiers were everywhere swearing brotherhood, and all France was locally federating, preparing for the grand National Feast of Pikes, it was observed that these Nanci Officers threw cold water on the whole brotherly business; that they first hung back from appearing at the Nanci Federation; then did appear, but in mere rédingote and undress, with scarcely a clean shirt on; nay that one of them, as the National Colours flaunted by in that solemn moment, did, without visible necessity, take occasion to spit.[319]

Small “sundries as per journal,” but then incessant ones! The Aristocrat Municipality, pretending to be Constitutional, keeps mostly quiet; not so the Daughter Society, the five thousand adult male Patriots of the place, still less the five thousand female: not so the young, whiskered or whiskerless, four-generation Noblesse in epaulettes; the grim Patriot Swiss of Château-Vieux, effervescent infantry of Regiment du Roi, hot troopers of Mestre-de-Camp! Walled Nanci, which stands so bright and trim, with its straight streets, spacious squares, and Stanislaus’ Architecture, of the fruitful alluvium of the Meurthe; so bright, amid the yellow cornfields in these Reaper-Months,—is inwardly but a den of discord, anxiety, inflammability, not far from exploding. Let Bouillé look to it. If that universal military heat, which we liken to a vast continent of smoking flax, do anywhere take fire, his beard, here in Lorraine and Nanci, may the most readily of all get singed by it.

Bouillé, for his part, is busy enough, but only with the general superintendence; getting his pacified Salm, and all other still tolerable Regiments, marched out of Metz, to southward towns and villages; to rural Cantonments as at Vic, Marsal and thereabout, by the still waters; where is plenty of horse-forage, sequestered parade-ground, and the soldier’s speculative faculty can be stilled by drilling. Salm, as we said, received only half payment of arrears; naturally not without grumbling. Nevertheless that scene of the drawn sword may, after all, have raised Bouillé in the mind of Salm; for men and soldiers love intrepidity and swift inflexible decision, even when they suffer by it. As indeed is not this fundamentally the quality of qualities for a man? A quality which by itself is next to nothing, since inferior animals, asses, dogs, even mules have it; yet, in due combination, it is the indispensable basis of all.

Of Nanci and its heats, Bouillé, commander of the whole, knows nothing special: understands generally that the troops in that City are perhaps the worst.[320] The Officers there have it all, as they have long had it, to themselves; and unhappily seem to manage it ill. “Fifty yellow furloughs,” given out in one batch, do surely betoken difficulties. But what was Patriotism to think of certain light-fencing Fusiliers “set on,” or supposed to be set on, “to insult the Grenadier-club,”—considerate speculative Grenadiers and that reading-room of theirs? With shoutings, with hootings; till the speculative Grenadier drew his side-arms too; and there ensued battery and duels! Nay more, are not swashbucklers of the same stamp “sent out” visibly, or sent out presumably, now in the dress of Soldiers, to pick quarrels with the Citizens; now, disguised as Citizens, to pick quarrels with the Soldiers? For a certain Roussière, expert in fence, was taken in the very fact; four Officers (presumably of tender years) hounding him on, who thereupon fled precipitately! Fencemaster Roussière, haled to the guardhouse, had sentence of three months’ imprisonment: but his comrades demanded “yellow furlough” for him of all persons; nay, thereafter they produced him on parade; capped him in paper-helmet, inscribed Iscariot; marched him to the gate of the City; and there sternly commanded him to vanish for evermore.

On all which suspicions, accusations and noisy procedure, and on enough of the like continually accumulating, the Officer could not but look with disdainful indignation; perhaps disdainfully express the same in words, and “soon after fly over to the Austrians.”

So that when it here, as elsewhere, comes to the question of Arrears, the humour and procedure is of the bitterest: Regiment Mestre-de-Camp getting, amid loud clamour, some three gold louis a-man,— which have, as usual, to be borrowed from the Municipality; Swiss Château-Vieux applying for the like, but getting instead instantaneous courrois, or cat-o’-nine-tails, with subsequent unsufferable hisses from the women and children: Regiment du Roi, sick of hope deferred, at length seizing its military chest, and marching it to quarters, but next day marching it back again, through streets all struck silent:— unordered paradings and clamours, not without strong liquor; objurgation, insubordination; your military ranked Arrangement going all (as the Typographers say of set types, in a similar case) rapidly to pie![321] Such is Nanci in these early days of August; the sublime Feast of Pikes not yet a month old.

Constitutional Patriotism, at Paris and elsewhere, may well quake at the news. War-Minister Latour du Pin runs breathless to the National Assembly, with a written message that “all is burning, tout brûle, tout presse.” The National Assembly, on the spur of the instant, renders such Decret, and “order to submit and repent,” as he requires; if it will avail anything. On the other hand, Journalism, through all its throats, gives hoarse outcry, condemnatory, elegiac-applausive. The Forty-eight Sections lift up voices; sonorous Brewer, or call him now Colonel Santerre, is not silent, in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. For, meanwhile, the Nanci Soldiers have sent a Deputation of Ten, furnished with documents and proofs; who will tell another story than the “all-is-burning” one. Which deputed Ten, before ever they reach the Assembly Hall, assiduous Latour du Pin picks up, and on warrant of Mayor Bailly, claps in prison! Most unconstitutionally; for they had officers’ furloughs. Whereupon Saint-Antoine, in indignant uncertainty of the future, closes its shops. Is Bouillé a traitor then, sold to Austria? In that case, these poor private sentinels have revolted mainly out of Patriotism?

New Deputation, Deputation of National Guardsmen now, sets forth from Nanci to enlighten the Assembly. It meets the old deputed Ten returning, quite unexpectedly unhanged; and proceeds thereupon with better prospects; but effects nothing. Deputations, Government Messengers, Orderlies at hand-gallop, Alarms, thousand-voiced Rumours, go vibrating continually; backwards and forwards,—scattering distraction. Not till the last week of August does M. de Malseigne, selected as Inspector, get down to the scene of mutiny; with Authority, with cash, and “Decree of the Sixth of August.” He now shall see these Arrears liquidated, justice done, or at least tumult quashed.

Chapter V: Inspector Malseigne

Of Inspector Malseigne we discern, by direct light, that he is “of Herculean stature”; and infer, with probability, that he is of truculent moustachioed aspect,—for Royalist Officers now leave the upper lip unshaven; that he is of indomitable bull-heart; and also, unfortunately, of thick bull-head.

On Tuesday the 24th of August, 1790, he opens session as Inspecting Commissioner; meets those “elected corporals, and soldiers that can write.” He finds the accounts of Château-Vieux to be complex; to require delay and reference: be takes to haranguing, to reprimanding; ends amid audible grumbling. Next morning, he resumes session, not at the Townhall as prudent Municipals counselled, but once more at the barracks. Unfortunately Château-Vieux, grumbling all night, will now hear of no delay or reference; from reprimanding on his part, it goes to bullying,—answered with continual cries of “Jugez tout de suite, Judge it at once”; whereupon M. de Malseigne will off in a huff. But lo, Château-Vieux, swarming all about the barrack-court, has sentries at every gate; M. de Malseigne, demanding egress, cannot get it, not though Commandant Denoue backs him; can get only “Jugez tout de suite.” Here is a nodus!

Bull-hearted M. de Malseigne draws his sword; and will force egress. Confused splutter. M. de Malseigne’s sword breaks: he snatches Commandant Denoue’s: the sentry is wounded. M. de Malseigne, whom one is loath to kill, does force egress,—followed by Château-Vieux all in disarray; a spectacle to Nanci. M. de Malseigne walks at a sharp pace, yet never runs; wheeling from time to time, with menaces and movements of fence; and so reaches Denoue’s house, unhurt; which house Château-Vieux, in an agitated manner, invests,— hindered as yet from entering, by a crowd of officers formed on the staircase. M. de Malseigne retreats by back ways to the Townhall, flustered though undaunted; amid an escort of National Guards. From the Townhall he, on the morrow, emits fresh orders, fresh plans of settlement with Château-Vieux; to none of which will Château-Vieux listen: whereupon he finally, amid noise enough, emits order that Château-Vieux shall march on the morrow morning, and quarter at Sarre Louis. Château-Vieux flatly refuses marching; M. de Malseigne “takes act,” due notarial protest, of such refusal,—if happily that may avail him.

This is the end of Thursday; and, indeed, of M. de Malseigne’s Inspectorship, which has lasted some fifty hours. To such length, in fifty hours, has he unfortunately brought it. Mestre-de-Camp and Regiment du Roi hang, as it were, fluttering; Château-Vieux is clean gone, in what way we see. Overnight, an Aide-de-Camp of Lafayette’s, stationed here for such emergency, sends swift emissaries far and wide to summon National Guards. The slumber of the country is broken by clattering hoofs, by loud fraternal knockings; everywhere the Constitutional Patriot must clutch his fighting-gear, and take the road for Nanci.

And thus the Herculean Inspector has sat all Thursday, among terror-struck Municipals, a centre of confused noise: all Thursday, Friday, and till Saturday towards noon. Châteaux-Vieux, in spite of the notarial protest, will not march a step. As many as four thousand National Guards are dropping or pouring in; uncertain what is expected of them, still more uncertain what will be obtained of them. For all is uncertainty, commotion and suspicion: there goes a word that Bouillé, beginning to bestir himself in the rural Cantonments eastward, is but a Royalist traitor; that Château-Vieux and Patriotism are sold to Austria, of which latter M. de Malseigne is probably some agent. Mestre-de-Camp and Roi flutter still more questionably: Château-Vieux, far from marching, “waves red flags out of two carriages,” in a passionate manner, along the streets; and next morning answers its Officers: “Pay us, then; and we will march with you to the world’s end!”

Under which circumstances, towards noon on Saturday, M. de Malseigne thinks it were good perhaps to inspect the ramparts,—on horseback. He mounts, accordingly, with escort of three troopers. At the gate of the City, he bids two of them wait for his return; and with the third, a trooper to be depended upon, he—gallops off for Lunéville; where lies a certain Carbineer Regiment not yet in a mutinous state! The two left troopers soon get uneasy; discover how it is, and give the alarm. Mestre-de-Camp, to the number of a hundred, saddles in frantic haste, as if sold to Austria; gallops out pell-mell in chase of its Inspector. And so they spur, and the Inspector spurs; careering, with noise and jingle, up the valley of the River Meurthe, towards Lunéville and the midday sun: through an astonished country; indeed almost to their own astonishment.

What a hunt; Actaeon-like;—which Actaeon de Malseigne happily gains. To arms, ye Carbineers of Lunéville: to chastise mutinous men, insulting your General Officer, insulting your own quarters;—above all things, fire soon, lest there be parleying and ye refuse to fire! The Carbineers fire soon, exploding upon the first stragglers of Mester-de-Camp; who shriek at the very flash, and fall back hastily on Nanci, in a state not far from distraction. Panic and fury: sold to Austria without an if; so much per regiment, the very sums can be specified; and traitorous Malseigne is fled! Help, O Heaven; help, thou Earth,—ye unwashed Patriots; ye too are sold like us!

Effervescent Regiment du Roi primes its firelocks, Mestre-de-Camp saddles wholly: Commandant Denoue is seized, is flung in prison with a “canvas shirt (sarreau de toile),” about him; Château-Vieux bursts up the magazines; distributes “three thousand fusils” to a Patriot people: Austria shall have a hot bargain. Alas, the unhappy hunting-dogs, as we said, have hunted away their huntsman; and do now run howling and baying, on what trail they knew not; nigh rabid!

And so there is tumultuous march of men, through the night; with halt on the heights of Flinval, whence Lunéville can be seen all illuminated. Then there is parley, at four in the morning; and reparley; finally there is agreement: the Carbineers give in; Malseigne is surrendered, with apologies on all sides. After weary confused hours, he is even got under way; the Lunévillers all turning out, in the idle Sunday, to see such departure: home-going of mutinous Mestre-de-Camp with its Inspector captive. Mestre-de-Camp accordingly marches; the Lunévillers look. See! at the corner of the first street, our Inspector bounds off again, bull-hearted as he is; amid the slash of sabres, the crackle of musketry; and escapes, full gallop, with only a ball lodged in his buff-jerkin. The Herculean man! And yet it is an escape to no purpose. For the Carbineers, to whom after the hardest Sunday’s ride on record, he has come circling back, “stand deliberating by their nocturnal watch-fires”; deliberating of Austria, of traitors, and the rage of Mestre-de-Camp. So that, on the whole, the next sight we have is that of M. de Malseigne, on the Monday afternoon, faring bull-hearted through the streets of Nanci; in open carriage, a soldier standing over him with drawn sword; amid the “furies of the women,” hedges of National Guards, and confusion of Babel: to the Prison beside Commandant Denoue! That finally is the lodging of Inspector Malseigne.[322]

Surely it is time Bouillé were drawing near. The Country all round, alarmed with watch-fires, illuminated towns, and marching and rout, has been sleepless these several nights. Nanci, with its uncertain National Guards, with its distributed fusils, mutinous soldiers, black panic and red-hot ire, is not a City but a Bedlam.

Chapter VI: Bouillé at Nanci

Haste will help, thou brave Bouillé: if swift help come not, all is now verily “burning”; and may burn,—to what lengths and breadths! Much, in these hours, depends on Bouillé; as it shall now fare with him, the whole Future may be this way or be that. If, for example, he were to loiter dubitating, and not come; if he were to come, and fail: the whole Soldiery of France to blaze into mutiny, National Guards going some this way, some that; and Royalism to draw its rapier, and Sansculottism to snatch its pike; and the Spirit of Jacobinism, as yet young, girt with sun-rays, to grow instantaneously mature, girt with hell-fire,—as mortals, in one night of deadly crisis, have had their heads turned grey!

Brave Bouillé is advancing fast, with the old inflexibility; gathering himself, unhappily “in small affluences,” from East, from West and North; and now on Tuesday morning, the last day of the month, he stands all concentred, unhappily still in small force, at the village of Frouarde, within some few miles. Son of Adam with a more dubious task before him is not in the world this Tuesday morning. A weltering inflammable sea of doubt and peril, and Bouillé sure of simply one thing, his own determination. Which one thing, indeed, may be worth many. He puts a most firm face on the matter: “Submission, or unsparing battle and destruction; twenty-four hours to make your choice”: this was the tenor of his Proclamation; thirty copies of which he sent yesterday to Nanci:—all which, we find, were intercepted and not posted.[323]

Nevertheless, at half-past eleven this morning, seemingly by way of answer, there does wait on him at Frouarde some Deputation from the mutinous Regiments, from the Nanci Municipals, to see what can be done. Bouillé receives this Deputation “in a large open court adjoining his lodging”: pacified Salm, and the rest, attend also, being invited to do it,—all happily still in the right humour. The Mutineers pronounce themselves with a decisiveness, which to Bouillé seems insolence; and happily to Salm also. Salm, forgetful of the Metz staircase and sabre, demands that the scoundrels “be hanged” there and then. Bouillé represses the hanging; but answers that mutinous Soldiers have one course, and not more than one: To liberate, with heartfelt contrition, Messieurs Denoue and De Malseigne; to get ready forthwith for marching off, whither he shall order; and “submit and repent,” as the National Assembly has decreed, as he yesterday did in thirty printed Placards proclaim. These are his terms, unalterable as the decrees of Destiny. Which terms as they, the Mutineer deputies, seemingly do not accept, it were good for them to vanish from this spot, and even to do it promptly; with him too, in few instants, the word will be, Forward! The Mutineer deputies vanish, not unpromptly; the Municipal ones, anxious beyond right for their own individualities, prefer abiding with Bouillé.

Brave Bouillé, though he puts a most firm face on the matter, knows his position full well: how at Nanci, what with rebellious soldiers, with uncertain National Guards, and so many distributed fusils, there rage and roar some ten thousand fighting men; while with himself is scarcely the third part of that number, in National Guards also uncertain, in mere pacified Regiments,—for the present full of rage, and clamour to march; but whose rage and clamour may next moment take such a fatal new figure. On the top of one uncertain billow, therewith to calm billows! Bouillé must “abandon himself to Fortune”; who is said sometimes to favour the brave. At half-past twelve, the Mutineer deputies having vanished, our drums beat; we march: for Nanci! Let Nanci bethink itself, then; for Bouillé has thought and determined.

And yet how shall Nanci think: not a City but a Bedlam! Grim Château-Vieux is for defence to the death; forces the Municipality to order, by tap of drum, all citizens acquainted with artillery to turn out, and assist in managing the cannon. On the other hand, effervescent Regiment du Roi is drawn up in its barracks; quite disconsolate, hearing the humour Salm is in; and ejaculates dolefully from its thousand throats: “La loi, la loi, Law, law!” Mestre-de-Camp blusters, with profane swearing, in mixed terror and furor; National Guards look this way and that, not knowing what to do. What a Bedlam-City: as many plans as heads; all ordering, none obeying: quiet none,—except the Dead, who sleep underground, having done their fighting.

And, behold, Bouillé proves as good as his word: “at half-past two” scouts report that he is within half a league of the gates; rattling along, with cannon, and array; breathing nothing but destruction. A new Deputation, Municipals, Mutineers, Officers, goes out to meet him; with passionate entreaty for yet one other hour. Bouillé grant an hour. Then, at the end thereof, no Denoue or Malseigne appearing as promised, he rolls his drums, and again takes the road. Towards four o’clock, the terror-struck Townsmen may see him face to face. His cannons rattle there, in their carriages; his vanguard is within thirty paces of the Gate Stanislaus. Onward like a Planet, by appointed times, by law of Nature! What next? Lo, flag of truce and chamade; conjuration to halt: Malseigne and Denoue are on the street, coming hither; the soldiers all repentant, ready to submit and march! Adamantine Bouillé’s look alters not; yet the word Halt is given: gladder moment he never saw. Joy of joys! Malseigne and Denoue do verily issue; escorted by National Guards; from streets all frantic, with sale to Austria and so forth: they salute Bouillé, unscathed. Bouillé steps aside to speak with them, and with other heads of the Town there; having already ordered by what Gates and Routes the mutineer Regiments shall file out.

Such colloquy with these two General Officers and other principal Townsmen, was natural enough; nevertheless one wishes Bouillé had postponed it, and not stepped aside. Such tumultuous inflammable masses, tumbling along, making way for each other; this of keen nitrous oxide, that of sulphurous firedamp,—were it not well to stand between them, keeping them well separate, till the space be cleared? Numerous stragglers of Château-Vieux and the rest have not marched with their main columns, which are filing out by the appointed Gates, taking station in the open meadows. National Guards are in a state of nearly distracted uncertainty; the populace, armed and unarmed, roll openly delirious,—betrayed, sold to the Austrians, sold to the Aristocrats. There are loaded cannon with lit matches among them, and Bouillé’s vanguard is halted within thirty paces of the Gate. Command dwells not in that mad inflammable mass; which smoulders and tumbles there, in blind smoky rage; which will not open the Gate when summoned; says it will open the cannon’s throat sooner!—Cannonade not, O Friends, or be it through my body! cries heroic young Desilles, young Captain of Roi, clasping the murderous engine in his arms, and holding it. Château-Vieux Swiss, by main force, with oaths and menaces, wrench off the heroic youth; who undaunted, amid still louder oaths, seats himself on the touch-hole. Amid still louder oaths, with ever louder clangour,—and alas, with the loud crackle of first one, and then of three other muskets; which explode into his body; which roll it in the dust,—and do also, in the loud madness of such moment, bring lit cannon-match to ready priming; and so, with one thunderous belch of grapeshot, blast some fifty of Bouillé’s vanguard into air!

Fatal! That sputter of the first musket-shot has kindled such a cannon-shot, such a death-blaze; and all is now red-hot madness, conflagration as of Tophet. With demoniac rage, the Bouillé vanguard storms through that Gate Stanislaus; with fiery sweep, sweeps Mutiny clear away, to death, or into shelters and cellars; from which latter, again, Mutiny continues firing. The ranked Regiments hear it in their meadow; they rush back again through the nearest Gate; Bouillé gallops in, distracted, inaudible;—and now has begun, in Nanci, as in that doomed Hall of the Nibelungen, “a murder grim and great.”

Miserable: such scene of dismal aimless madness as the anger of Heaven but rarely permits among men! From cellar or from garret, from open street in front, from successive corners of cross-streets on each hand, Château-Vieux and Patriotism keep up the murderous rolling-fire, on murderous not Unpatriotic fires. Your blue National Captain, riddled with balls, one hardly knows on whose side fighting, requests to be laid on the colours to die: the patriotic Woman (name not given, deed surviving) screams to Château-Vieux that it must not fire the other cannon; and even flings a pail of water on it, since screaming avails not.[324] Thou shalt fight; thou shalt not fight; and with whom shalt thou fight! Could tumult awaken the old Dead, Burgundian Charles the Bold might stir from under that Rotunda of his: never since he, raging, sank in the ditches, and lost Life and Diamond, was such a noise heard here.

Three thousand, as some count, lie mangled, gory: the half of Château-Vieux has been shot, without need of Court-Martial. Cavalry, of Mestre-de-Camp or their foes, can do little. Regiment du Roi was persuaded to its barracks; stands there palpitating. Bouillé, armed with the terrors of the Law, and favoured of Fortune, finally triumphs. In two murderous hours, he has penetrated to the grand Squares, dauntless, though with loss of forty officers and five hundred men: the shattered remnants of Château-Vieux are seeking covert. Regiment du Roi, not effervescent now, alas no, but having effervesced, will offer to ground its arms; will “march in a quarter of an hour.” Nay these poor effervesced require “escort” to march with, and get it; though they are thousands strong, and have thirty ball-cartridges a-man! The Sun is not yet down, when Peace, which might have come bloodless, has come bloody: the mutinous Regiments are on march, doleful, on their three Routes; and from Nanci rises wail of women and men, the voice of weeping and desolation; the City weeping for its slain who awaken not. These streets are empty but for victorious patrols.

Thus has Fortune, favouring the brave, dragged Bouillé, as himself says, out of such a frightful peril “by the hair of the head.” An intrepid adamantine man, this Bouillé:—had he stood in old Broglie’s place in those Bastille days, it might have been all different! He has extinguished mutiny, and immeasurable civil war. Not for nothing, as we see; yet at a rate which he and Constitutional Patriotism consider cheap. Nay, as for Bouillé, he, urged by subsequent contradiction which arose, declares coldly, it was rather against his own private mind, and more by public military rule of duty, that he did extinguish it,[325]— immeasurable civil war being now the only chance. Urged, we say, by subsequent contradiction! Civil war, indeed, is Chaos; and in all vital Chaos there is new Order shaping itself free; but what a faith this, that of all new Orders out of Chaos and Possibility of Man and his Universe, Louis Sixteenth and Two-Chamber Monarchy were precisely the one that would shape itself ! It is like undertaking to throw deuce-ace, say only five hundred successive times, and any other throw to be fatal—for Bouillé. Rather thank Fortune, and Heaven, always, thou intrepid Bouillé; and let contradiction go its way! Civil war, conflagrating universally over France at this moment, might have led to one thing or to another thing: meanwhile, to quench conflagration, wheresoever one finds it, wheresoever one can; this, in all times, is the rule for man and General Officer.

But at Paris, so agitated and divided, fancy how it went, when the continually vibrating Orderlies vibrated thither at hand-gallop, with such questionable news! High is the gratulation; and also deep the indignation. An august Assembly, by overwhelming majorities, passionately thanks Bouillé; a King’s autograph, the voices of all Loyal, all Constitutional men run to the same tenor. A solemn National funeral-service, for the Law-defenders slain at Nanci, is said and sung in the Champ-de-Mars; Bailly, Lafayette and National Guards, all except the few that protested, assist. With pomp and circumstance, with episcopal Calicoes in tricolor girdles, Altar of Fatherland smoking with cassolettes, or incense-kettles; the vast Champ-de-Mars wholly hung round with black mortcloth,—which mortcloth and expenditure Marat thinks had better have been laid out in bread, in these dear days, and given to the hungry living Patriot.[326]On the other hand, living Patriotism, and Saint-Antoine, which we have seen noisily closing its shops and such like, assembles now “to the number of forty thousand”; and, with loud cries, under the very windows of the thanking National Assembly, demands revenge for murdered Brothers, judgement on Bouillé, and instant dismissal of War-Minister Latour du Pin.

At sound and sight of which things, if not War-Minister Latour, yet “Adored Minister” Necker, sees good on the 3rd of September, 1790, to withdraw softly, almost privily,—with an eye to the “recovery of his health.” Home to native Switzerland; not as he last came; lucky to reach it alive! Fifteen months ago, we saw him coming, with escort of horse, with sound of clarion and trumpet; and now, at Arcis-sur-Aube, while he departs, unescorted, soundless, the Populace and Municipals stop him as a fugitive, are not unlike massacring him as a traitor; the National Assembly, consulted on the matter, gives him free egress as a nullity. Such an unstable “drift-mould of Accident” is the substance of this lower world, for them that dwell in houses of clay; so, especially in hot regions and times, do the proudest palaces we build of it take wings, and become Sahara sand-palaces, spinning many-pillared in the whirlwind, and bury us under their sand!—

In spite of the forty thousand, the National Assembly persists in its thanks; and Royalist Latour du Pin continues Minister. The forty thousand assemble next day, as loud as ever; roll towards Latour’s Hôtel; find cannon on the porch-steps with flambeau lit; and have to retire elsewhither, and digest their spleen, or reabsorb it into the blood.

Over in Lorraine meanwhile, they of the distributed fusils, ringleaders of Mestre-de-Camp, of Roi, have got marked out for judgement;—yet shall never get judged. Briefer is the doom of Château-Vieux. Château-Vieux is, by Swiss law, given up for instant trial in Court-Martial of its own officers. Which Court-Martial, with all brevity (in not many hours), has hanged some Twenty-three, on conspicuous gibbets; marched some Threescore in chains to the Galleys; and so, to appearance, finished the matter off. Hanged men do cease for ever from this Earth; but out of chains and the Galleys there may be resuscitation in triumph. Resuscitation for the chained Hero; and even for the chained Scoundrel, or Semi-scoundrel! Scottish John Knox, such World-Hero as we know, sat once nevertheless pulling grim-taciturn at the oar of French Galley, “in the Water of Lore”; and even flung their Virgin-Mary over, instead of kissing her,—as a “pented bredd,” or timber Virgin, who could naturally swim.[327]So, ye of Château-Vieux, tug patiently, not without hope!

But indeed at Nanci generally, Aristocracy rides triumphant, rough. Bouillé is gone again, the second day; an Aristocrat Municipality, with free course, is as cruel as it had before been cowardly. The Daughter Society, as the mother of the whole mischief, lies ignominiously suppressed; the Prisons can hold no more; bereaved down-beaten Patriotism murmurs, not loud but deep. Here and in the neighbouring Towns, “flattened balls” picked from the streets of Nanci are worn at buttonholes: balls flattened in carrying death to Patriotism; men wear them there, in perpetual memento of revenge. Mutineer deserters roam the woods; have to demand charity at the musket’s end. All is dissolution, mutual rancour, gloom and despair:—till National Assembly Commissioners arrive, with a steady gentle flame of Constitutionalism in their hearts; who gently lift up the down-trodden, gently pull down the too uplifted; reinstate the Daughter Society, recall the mutineer deserter; gradually levelling, strive in all wise ways to smooth and soothe. With such gradual mild levelling on the one side; as with solemn funeral-service, cassolettes, Courts-Martial, National thanks, on the other,—all that Officiality can do is done. The buttonhole will drop its flat ball; the black ashes, so far as may be, get green again.

This is the “Affair of Nanci”; by some called the “Massacre of Nanci”;—properly speaking, the unsightly wrong-side of that thrice-glorious Feast of Pikes, the right-side of which formed a spectacle for the very gods. Right-side and wrong lie always so near: the one was in July, in August the other! Theatres, the theatres over in London, are bright with their pasteboard simulacrum of that “Federation of the French people,” brought out as Drama: this of Nanci, we may say, though not played in any pasteboard Theatre, did for many months enact itself, and even walk spectrally,—in all French heads. For the news of it fly pealing through all France: awakening, in town and village, in club-room, mess-room, to the utmost borders, some mimic reflex or imaginative repetition of the business; always with the angry questionable assertion: It was right; It was wrong. Whereby come controversies, duels; embitterment, vain jargon; the hastening forward, the augmenting and intensifying of whatever new explosions lie in store for us.

Meanwhile, at this cost or at that, the mutiny, as we say, is stilled. The French Army has neither burst up in universal simultaneous delirium; nor been at once disbanded, put an end to, and made new again. It must die in the chronic manner, through years, by inches; with partial revolts, as of Brest Sailors or the like, which dare not spread; with men unhappy, insubordinate; officers unhappier, in Royalist moustachios, taking horse, singly or in bodies, across the Rhine:[328]sick dissatisfaction, sick disgust on both sides; the Army moribund, fit for no duty:—till it do, in that unexpected manner, Phoenix-like, with long throes, get both dead and newborn; then start forth strong, nay stronger and even strongest.

Thus much was the brave Bouillé hitherto fated to do. Wherewith let him again fade into dimness; and, at Metz or the rural Cantonments, assiduously drilling, mysteriously diplomatizing, in scheme within scheme, hover as formerly a faint shadow, the hope of Royalty.

Book III: The Tuileries

Chapter I: Epimenides

How true, that there is nothing dead in this Universe, that what we call dead is only changed, its forces working in inverse order! “The leaf that lies rotting in moist winds,” says one, “has still force; else how could it rot?” Our whole Universe is but an infinite Complex of Forces; thousandfold, from Gravitation up to Thought and Will; man’s Freedom environed with Necessity of Nature: in all which nothing at any moment slumbers, but all is for ever awake and busy. The thing that lies isolated inactive thou shalt nowhere discover; seek everywhere, from the granite mountain, slow-mouldering since Creation, to the passing cloud-vapour, to the living man; to the action, to the spoken word of man. The word that is spoken, as we know, flies irrevocable: not less, but more, the action that is done. “The gods themselves,” sings Pindar, “cannot annihilate the action that is done.” No: this, once done, is done always; cast forth into endless Time; and, long conspicuous or soon hidden, must verily work and grow for ever there, an indestructible new element in the Infinite of Things. Or, indeed, what is this Infinite of Things itself, which men name Universe, but an Action, a sum-total of Actions and Activities? The living ready-made sum-total of these three,—which Calculation cannot add, cannot bring on its tablets; yet the sum, we say, is written visible: All that has been done, All that is doing, All that will be done! Understand it well, the Thing thou beholdest, that Thing is an Action, the product and expression of exerted Force: the All of Things is an infinite conjugation of the verb To do. Shoreless Fountain-Ocean of Force, of power to do; wherein Force rolls and circles, billowing, many-streamed, harmonious; wide as Immensity, deep as Eternity; beautiful and terrible, not to be comprehended: this is what man names Existence and Universe; this thousand-tinted Flame-image, at once veil and revelation, reflex such as he, in his poor brain and heart, can paint, of One Unnameable dwelling in inaccessible light! From beyond the Star-galaxies, from before the Beginning of Days, it billows and rolls,—round thee, nay thyself art of it, in this point of Space where thou now standest, in this moment which thy clock measures.

Or apart from all Transcendentalism, is it not a plain truth of sense, which the duller mind can even consider as a truism, that human things wholly are in continual movement, and action and reaction; working continually forward, phasis after phasis, by unalterable laws, towards prescribed issues? How often must we say, and yet not rightly lay to heart: The seed that is sown, it will spring! Given the summer’s blossoming, then there is also given the autumnal withering: so is it ordered not with seedfields only, but with transactions, arrangements, philosophies, societies, French Revolutions, whatsoever man works with in this lower world. The Beginning holds in it the End, and all that leads thereto; as the acorn does the oak and its fortunes. Solemn enough, did we think of it,—which unhappily, and also happily, we do not very much! Thou there canst begin; the Beginning is for thee, and there: but where, and of what sort, and for whom will the End be? All grows, and seeks and endures its destinies: consider likewise how much grows, as the trees do, whether we think of it or not. So that when your Epimenides, your somnolent Peter Klaus, since named Rip van Winkle awakens again, he finds it a changed world. In that seven-years sleep of his, so much has changed! All that is without us will change while we think not of it; much even that is within us. The truth that was yesterday a restless Problem, has to-day grown a Belief burning to be uttered: on the morrow, contradiction has exasperated it into mad Fanaticism; obstruction has dulled it into sick Inertness; it is sinking towards silence, of satisfaction or of resignation. To-day is not Yesterday, for man or for thing. Yesterday there was the oath of Love; to-day has come the curse of Hate. Not willingly: ah, no; but it could not help coming. The golden radiance of youth, would it willingly have tarnished itself into the dimness of old age?—Fearful: how we stand enveloped, deep-sunk, in that Mystery of TIME; and are Sons of Time; fashioned and woven out of Time; and on us, and on all that we have, or see, or do, is written: Rest not, Continue not, Forward to thy doom!

But in seasons of Revolution, which indeed distinguish themselves from common seasons by their velocity mainly, your miraculous Seven-sleeper might, with miracle enough, awake sooner: not by the century, or seven years, need he sleep; often not by the seven months. Fancy, for example, some new Peter Klaus sated with the jubilee of that Federation day, had lain down, say directly after the Blessing of Talleyrand; and, reckoning it all safe now, had fallen composedly asleep under the timber-work of the Fatherland’s Altar; to sleep there, not twenty-one years, but as it were year and day. The cannonading of Nanci, so far off, does not disturb him; nor does the black mortcloth, close at hand, nor the requiems chanted, and minute-guns, incense-pans and concourse right over his head: none of these; but Peter sleeps through them all. Through one circling year, as we say; from July the 14th of 1790, till July the 17th of 1791: but on that latter day, no Klaus, nor most leaden Epimenides, only the Dead could continue sleeping: and so our miraculous Peter Klaus awakens. With what eyes, O Peter! Earth and sky have still their joyous July look, and the Champ-de-Mars is multitudinous with men: but the jubilee-huzzahing has become Bedlam-shrieking, of terror and revenge; not blessing of Talleyrand, or any blessing, but cursing, imprecation and shrill wail; our cannon-salvoes are turned to sharp shot; for swinging of incense-pans and Eighty-three Departmental Banners, we have waving of the one sanguineous Drapeau-Rouge.—Thou foolish Klaus! The one lay in the other, the one was the other minus Time; even as Hannibal’s rock-rending vinegar lay in the sweet new wine. That sweet Federation was of last year; this sour Divulsion is the selfsame substance, only older by the appointed days.

No miraculous Klaus or Epimenides sleeps in these times; and yet, may not many a man, if of due opacity and levity, act the same miracle in a natural way; we mean, with his eyes open? Eyes has he, but he sees not, except what is under his nose. With a sparkling briskness of glance, as if he not only saw but saw through, such a one goes whisking, assiduous, in his circle of officialties; not dreaming but that it is the whole world: as indeed, where your vision terminates, does not inanity begin there, and the world’s end clearly disclose itself—to you? Whereby our brisk-sparkling assiduous official person (call him, for instance, Lafayette), suddenly startled, after year and day, by huge grapeshot tumult, stares not less astonished at it than Peter Klaus would have done. Such natural-miracle can Lafayette perform; and indeed not he only but most other officials, non-officials, and generally the whole French People can perform it; and do bounce up, ever and anon, like amazed Seven-sleepers awakening; awakening amazed at the noise they themselves make. So strangely is Freedom, as we say, environed in Necessity; such a singular Somnambulism, of Conscious and Unconscious, of Voluntary and Involuntary, is this life of man. If anywhere in the world there was astonishment that the Federation Oath went into grapeshot, surely of all persons the French, first swearers and then shooters, felt astonished the most.

Alas, offences must come. The sublime Feast of Pikes, with its effulgence of brotherly love, unknown since the Age of Gold, has changed nothing. That prurient heat in Twenty-five millions of hearts is not cooled thereby; but is still hot, nay hotter. Lift off the pressure of command from so many millions; all pressure or binding rule, except such melodramatic Federation Oath as they have bound themselves with! For Thou shalt was from of old the condition of man’s being, and his weal and blessedness was in obeying that. Woe for him when, were it on the hest of the clearest necessity, rebellion, disloyal isolation, and mere I will, becomes his rule! But the Gospel of Jean-Jacques has come, and the first Sacrament of it has been celebrated: all things, as we say, are got into hot and hotter prurience; and must go on pruriently fermenting, in continual change noted or unnoted.

“Worn out with disgusts,” Captain after Captain, in Royalist moustachios, mounts his war-horse, or his Rozinante war-garron, and rides minatory across the Rhine; till all have ridden. Neither does civic Emigration cease; Seigneur after Seigneur must, in like manner, ride or roll; impelled to it, and even compelled. For the very Peasants despise him, in that he dare not join his order and fight.[329]Can he bear to have a Distaff, a Quenouille sent to him: say in copper-plate shadow, by post; or fixed up in wooden reality over his gate-lintel: as if he were no Hercules, but an Omphale? Such scutcheon they forward to him diligently from beyond the Rhine; till he too bestir himself and march, and in sour humour another Lord of Land is gone, not taking the Land with him. Nay, what of Captains and emigrating Seigneurs? There is not an angry word on any of those Twenty-five million French tongues, and indeed not an angry thought in their hearts, but is some fraction of the great Battle. Add many successions of angry words together, you have the manual brawl; add brawls together, with the festering sorrows they leave, and they rise to riots and revolts. One reverend thing after another ceases to meet reverence: in visible material combustion, château after château mounts up; in spiritual invisible combustion, one authority after another. With noise and glare, or noiselessly and unnoted, a whole Old System of things is vanishing piecemeal: the morrow thou shalt look, and it is not.

Chapter II: The Wakeful

Sleep who will, cradled in hope and short vision like Lafayette, who “always in the danger done sees the last danger that will threaten him,”—Time is not sleeping, nor Time’s seedfield.

That sacred Heralds’-College of a new Dynasty; we mean the Sixty and odd Billstickers with their leaden badges, are not sleeping. Daily they, with pastepot and cross-staff, new-clothe the walls of Paris in colours of the rainbow: authoritative-heraldic, as we say, or indeed almost magical-thaumaturgic; for no Placard-Journal that they paste but will convince some soul or souls of men. The Hawkers bawl; and the Ballad-singers: great Journalism blows and blusters, through all its throats, forth from Paris towards all corners of France, like an Aeolus’ Cave; keeping alive all manner of fires.

Throats or journals there are, as men count,[330] to the number of some Hundred and thirty-three. Of various calibre; from your Cheniers, Gorsases, Camilles, down to your Marat, down now to your incipient Hébert of the Père Duchesne; these blow, with fierce weight of argument or quick light banter, for the Rights of Man: Durosoys, Royous, Peltiers, Sulleaus, equally with mixed tactics (inclusive, singular to say, of much profane Parody),[331]are blowing for Altar and Throne. As for Marat the People’s-Friend, his voice is as that of the bullfrog, or bittern by the solitary pools; he, unseen of men, croaks harsh thunder, and that alone continually,—of indignation, suspicion, incurable sorrow. The People are sinking toward ruin, near starvation itself: “My dear friends,” cries he, “your indigence is not the fruit of vices nor of idleness; you have a right to life, as good as Louis XVI, or the happiest of the century. What man can say he has a right to dine, when you have no bread!”[332]The People sinking on the one hand: on the other hand, nothing but wretched Sieur Motiers, treasonous Riquetti Mirabeaus; traitors, or else shadows and simulacra of Quacks to be seen in high places, look where you will! Men that go mincing, grimacing, with plausible speech and brushed raiment; hollow within: Quacks political; Quacks scientific, academical: all with a fellow-feeling for each other, and kind of Quack public-spirit! Not great Lavoisier himself, or any of the Forty can escape this rough tongue; which wants not fanatic sincerity, nor, strangest of all, a certain rough caustic sense. And then the “three thousand gaming-houses” that are in Paris; cesspools for the scoundrelism of the world; sinks of iniquity and debauchery,— whereas without good morals Liberty is impossible! There, in these Dens of Satan, which one knows, and perseveringly denounces, do Sieur Motier’s mouchards consort and colleague; battening vampire-like on a People next-door to starvation. “O Peuple!” cries he ofttimes, with heart-rending accent. Treason, delusion, vampirism, scoundrelism, from Dan to Beersheba! The soul of Marat is sick with the sight: but what remedy? To erect “Eight Hundred gibbets,” in convenient rows, and proceed to hoisting; “Riquetti on the first of them!” Such is the brief recipe of Marat, Friend of the People.

So blow and bluster the Hundred and thirty-three; nor, as would seem, are these sufficient; for there are benighted nooks in France, to which Newspapers do not reach; and everywhere is “such an appetite for news as was never seen in any country.” Let an expeditious Dampmartin, on furlough, set out to return home from Paris,[333] he cannot get along for “peasants stopping him on the highway; overwhelming him with questions”: the Maître de Poste will not send out the horses till you have wellnigh quarrelled with him, but asks always, What news? At Autun, in spite of the dark night and “rigorous frost,” for it is now January 1791, nothing will serve but you must gather your wayworn limbs and thoughts, and “speak to the multitudes from a window opening into the market place.” It is the shortest method: This, good Christian people, is verily what an august Assembly seemed to me to be doing; this and no other is the news:

Now my weary lips I close; Leave me, leave me to repose!

The good Dampmartin!—But, on the whole, are not Nations astonishingly true to their National character; which indeed runs in the blood? Nineteen hundred years ago, Julius Caesar, with his quick sure eye, took note how the Gauls waylaid men. “It is a habit of theirs,” says he, “to stop travellers, were it even by constraint, and inquire whatsoever each of them may have heard or known about any sort of matter: in their towns, the common people beset the passing trader; demanding to hear from what regions he came, what things he got acquainted with there. Excited by which rumours and hearsays they will decide about the weightiest matters: and necessarily repent next moment that they did it, on such guidance of uncertain reports, and many a traveller answering with mere fictions to please them, and get off.”[334] Nineteen hundred years; and good Dampmartin, wayworn, in winter frost, probably with scant light of stars and fish-oil, still perorates from the Inn-window! This people is no longer called Gaulish; and it has wholly become bracatus, has got breeches, and suffered change enough: certain fierce German Franken came storming over; and, so to speak, vaulted on the back of it; and always after, in their grim tenacious way, have ridden it bridled; for German is, by his very name, Guerre-man, or man that wars and gars. And so the People, as we say, is now called French or Frankish: nevertheless, does not the old Gaulish and Gaelic Celthood, with its vehemence, effervescent promptitude, and what good and ill it had, still vindicate itself little adulterated?—

For the rest, that in such prurient confusion, Clubbism thrives and spreads, need not be said. Already the Mother of Patriotism, sitting in the Jacobins, shines supreme over all; and has paled the poor lunar light of that Monarchic Club near to final extinction. She, we say, shines supreme, girt with sun-light, not yet with infernal lightning; reverenced, not without fear, by Municipal Authorities; counting her Barnaves, Lameths, Pétions, of a National Assembly; most gladly of all, her Robespierre. Cordeliers, again, your Hébert, Vincent, Bibliopolist Momoro, groan audibly that a tyrannous Mayor and Sieur Motier harrow them with the sharp tribula of Law, intent apparently to suppress them by tribulation. How the Jacobin Mother-Society, as hinted formerly, sheds forth Cordeliers on this hand, and then Feuillans on that; the Cordeliers “an elixir or double distillation of Jacobin Patriotism”; the other a wide-spread weak dilution thereof; how she will re-absorb the former into her Mother-bosom, and stormfully dissipate the latter into Nonentity: how she breeds and brings forth Three Hundred Daughter-Societies; her rearing of them, her correspondence, her endeavourings and continual travail: how, under an old figure, Jacobinism shoots forth organic filaments to the utmost corners of confused dissolved France; organizing it anew:—this properly is the grand fact of the Time.

To passionate Constitutionalism, still more to Royalism, which sees all their own Clubs fail and die, Clubbism will naturally grow to seem the root of all evil. Nevertheless Clubbism is not death, but rather new organization, and life out of death: destructive, indeed, of the remnants of the Old; but to the New important, indispensable. That man can co-operate and hold communion with man, herein lies his miraculous strength. In hut or hamlet, Patriotism mourns not now like voice in the desert: it can walk to the nearest Town; and there, in the Daughter-Society, make its ejaculation into an articulate oration, into an action, guided forward by the Mother of Patriotism herself. All Clubs of Constitutionalists, and such like, fail, one after another, as shallow fountains: Jacobinism alone has gone down to the deep subterranean lake of waters; and may, unless filled in, flow there, copious, continual, like an Artesian well. Till the Great Deep have drained itself up; and all be flooded and submerged, and Noah’s Deluge out-deluged!

On the other hand, Claude Fauchet, preparing mankind for a Golden Age now apparently just at hand, has opened his Cercle Social, with clerks, corresponding boards, and so forth; in the precincts of the Palais Royal. It is Te-Deum Fauchet; the same who preached on Franklin’s Death, in that huge Medicean rotunda of the Halle-aux-bleds. He here, this winter, by Printing-press and melodious Colloquy, spreads bruit of himself to the utmost City-barriers. “Ten thousand persons of respectability” attend there; and listen to this “Procureur-Général de la Vérité, Attorney-General of Truth, so has he dubbed himself; to his sage Condorcet, or other eloquent coadjutor. Eloquent Attorney-General! He blows out from him, better or worse, what crude or ripe thing he holds: not without result to himself; for it leads to a Bishopric, though only a Constitutional one. Fauchet approves himself a glib-tongued, strong-lunged, whole-hearted human individual: much flowing matter there is, and really of the better sort, about Right, Nature, Benevolence, Progress; which flowing matter, whether “it is pantheistic,” or is pot-theistic, only the greener mind, in these days, need examine. Busy Brissot was long ago of purpose to establish precisely some such regenerative Social Circle: nay he had tried it in “Newman Street, Oxford Street,” of the Fog Babylon; and failed,—as some say, surreptitiously pocketing the cash. Fauchet, not Brissot, was fated to be the happy man; whereat, however, generous Brisset will with sincere heart sing a timber-toned Nunc Domine.[335] But “ten thousand persons of respectability”: what a bulk have many things in proportion to their magnitude! This Cercle Social, for which Brissot chants in sincere timber-tones such Nunc Domine, what is it? Unfortunately wind and shadow. The main reality one finds in it now, is perhaps this: that an “Attorney-General of Truth” did once take shape of a body, as Son of Adam, on our Earth, though but for months or moments; and ten thousand persons of respectability attended, ere yet Chaos and Nox had reabsorbed him.

Hundred and thirty-three Paris journals; regenerative Social Circle; oratory, in Mother and Daughter Societies, from the balconies of Inns, by chimney-nook, at dinner-table—polemical, ending many times in duel! Add ever, like a constant growling accompaniment of bass Discord: scarcity of work, scarcity of food. The winter is hard and cold; ragged Bakers’-queues, like a black tattered flag-of-distress, wave out ever and anon. It is the third of our Hunger-years, this new year of a glorious Revolution. The rich man when invited to dinner, in such distress-seasons, feels bound in politeness to carry his own bread in his pocket: how the poor dine? And your glorious Revolution has done it, cries one. And our glorious Revolution is subtilely, by black traitors worthy of the Lamp-iron, perverted to do it, cries another. Who will paint the huge whirlpool wherein France, all shivered into wild incoherence, whirls? The jarring that went on under every French roof, in every French heart; the diseased things that were spoken, done, the sum-total whereof is the French Revolution, tongue of man cannot tell. Nor the laws of action that work unseen in the depths of that huge blind Incoherence! With amazement, not with measurement, men look on the Immeasurable; not knowing its laws; seeing, with all different degrees of knowledge, what new phases, and results of event, its laws bring forth. France is as a monstrous Galvanic Mass, wherein all sorts of far stranger than chemical galvanic or electric forces and substances are at work; electrifying one another, positive and negative; filling with electricity your Leyden-jars,—Twenty-five millions in number! As the jars get full, there will, from time to time, be, on slight hint, an explosion.

Chapter III: Sword in Hand

On such wonderful basis, however, has Law, Royalty, Authority, and whatever yet exists of visible Order, to maintain itself, while it can. Here, as in that Commixture of the Four Elements did the Anarch Old, has an august Assembly spread its pavilion; curtained by the dark infinite of discords; founded on the wavering bottomless of the Abyss; and keeps continual hubbub. Time is around it, and Eternity, and the Inane; and it does what it can, what is given it to do.

Glancing reluctantly in, once more, we discern little that is edifying: a Constitutional Theory of Defective Verbs struggling forward, with perseverance, amid endless interruptions: Mirabeau, from his tribune, with the weight of his name and genius, awing down much Jacobin violence; which in return vents itself the louder over in its Jacobins Hall, and even reads him sharp lectures there.[336] This man’s path is mysterious, questionable; difficult, and he walks without companion in it. Pure Patriotism does not now count him among her chosen; pure Royalism abhors him: yet his weight with the world is overwhelming. Let him travel on, companionless, unwavering, whither he is bound,—while it is yet day with him, and the night has not come.

But the chosen band of pure Patriot brothers is small; counting only some Thirty, seated now on the extreme tip of the Left, separate from the world. A virtuous Pétion; an incorruptible Robespierre, most consistent, incorruptible of thin acrid men; Triumvirs Barnave, Duport, Lameth, great in speech, thought, action, each according to his kind; a lean old Goupil de Prefeln: on these and what will follow them has pure Patriotism to depend.

There too, conspicuous among the Thirty, if seldom audible, Philippe d’Orléans may be seen sitting: in dim fuliginous bewilderment; having, one might say, arrived at Chaos! Gleams there are, at once of a Lieutenancy and Regency; debates in the Assembly itself, of succession to the Throne “in case the present Branch should fail”; and Philippe, they say, walked anxiously, in silence, through the corridors, till such high argument were done: but it came all to nothing; Mirabeau, glaring into the man, and through him, had to ejaculate in strong untranslatable language: “Ce j—f—ne vaut pas la peine qu’on se donne pour lui.” It came all to nothing; and in the meanwhile Philippe’s money, they say, is gone! Could he refuse a little cash to the gifted Patriot in want only of that; he himself in want of all but that? Not a pamphlet can be printed without cash; or indeed written, without food purchasable by cash. Without cash your hopefullest Projector cannot stir from the spot; individual patriotic or other Projects require cash: how much more do widespread Intrigues, which live and exist by cash; lying widespread, with dragon-appetite for cash; fit to swallow Princedoms! And so Prince Philippe, amid his Sillerys, Lacloses and confused Sons of Night, has rolled along: the centre of the strangest cloudy coil; out of which has visibly come, as we often say, an Epic Preternatural Machinery of SUSPICION; and within which there has dwelt and worked,—what specialities of treason, stratagem, aimed or aimless endeavour towards mischief, no party living (if it be not the presiding Genius of it, Prince of the Power of the Air) has now any chance to know. Camille’s conjecture is the likeliest: that poor Philippe did mount up, a little way, in treasonable speculation, as he mounted formerly in one of the earliest Balloons; but, frightened at the new position he was getting into, had soon turned the cock again, and come down. More fool than he rose! To create Preternatural Suspicion, this was his function in the Revolutionary Epos. But now if he have lost his cornucopia of ready-money, what else had he to lose? In thick darkness, inward and outward, be must welter and flounder on, in that piteous death-element, the hapless man. Once, or even twice, we shall still behold him emerged; struggling out of the thick death-element: in vain. For one moment, it is the last moment, he starts aloft, or is flung aloft, even into clearness and a kind of memorability,—to sink then for evermore!

The Côté Droit persists no less; nay with more animation than ever, though hope has now wellnigh fled. Tough Abbé Maury, when the obscure country Royalist grasps his hand with transport of thanks, answers, rolling his indomitable brazen head: “Hélas, Monsieur, all that I do here is as good as simply nothing.” Gallant Faussigny, visible this one time in History, advances frantic, into the middle of the Hall, exclaiming: “There is but one way of dealing with it, and that is to fall sword in hand on those gentry there, sabre à la main sur ces gaillards là,”[337] franticly indicating our chosen Thirty on the extreme tip of the Left! Whereupon is clangour and clamour, debate, repentance,— evaporation. Things ripen towards downright incompatibility, and what is called “scission”: that fierce theoretic onslaught of Faussigny’s was in August 1790; next August will not have come, till a famed Two Hundred and Ninety-two, the chosen of Royalism, make solemn final “scisson” from an Assembly given up to faction; and depart, shaking the dust off their feet.

Connected with this matter of sword in hand, there is yet another thing to be noted. Of duels we have sometimes spoken: how, in all parts of France, innumerable duels were fought; and argumentative men and mess-mates, flinging down the wine-cup and weapons of reason and repartee, met in the measured field; to part bleeding: or perhaps not to part, but to fall mutually skewered through with iron, their wrath and life alike ending,—and die as fools die. Long has this lasted, and still lasts. But now it would seem as if in an august Assembly itself, traitorous Royalism, in its despair, had taken to a new course: that of cutting off Patriotism by systematic duel! Bully-swordsmen, “Spadassins” of that party, go swaggering; or indeed they can be had for a trifle of money. “Twelve Spadassins” were seen, by the yellow eye of Journalism, “arriving recently out of Switzerland”; also “a considerable number of Assassins, nombre considérable d’assassins, exercising in fencing-schools and at pistol-targets.” Any Patriot Deputy of mark may be called out; let him escape one time, or ten times, a time there necessarily is when he must fall, and France mourn. How many cartels has Mirabeau had; especially while he was the People’s champion! Cartels by the hundred: which he, since the Constitution must be made first, and his time is precious, answers now always with a kind of stereotype formula: “Monsieur, you are put upon my List; but I warn you that it is long, and I grant no preferences.”

Then, in Autumn, had we not the Duel of Cazalès and Barnave; the two chief masters of tongue-shot meeting now to exchange pistol-shot? For Cazalès, chief of the Royalists, whom we call “Blacks or Noirs,” said, in a moment of passion, “the Patriots were sheer Brigands,” nay in so speaking, he darted, or seemed to dart, a fire-glance specially at Barnave; who thereupon could not but reply by fire-glances,—by adjournment to the Bois-de-Boulogne. Barnave’s second shot took effect: on Cazalès’ hat. The “front nook” of a triangular Felt, such as mortals then wore, deadened the ball; and saved that fine brow from more than temporary injury. But how easily might the lot have fallen the other way, and Barnave’s hat not been so good! Patriotism raises its loud denunciation of Duelling in general; petitions an august Assembly to stop such Feudal barbarism by law. Barbarism and solecism: for will it convince or convict any man to blow half an ounce of lead through the head of him? Surely not.—Barnave was received at the Jacobins with embraces, yet with rebukes.

Mindful of which, and also that his reputation in America was that of headlong foolhardiness rather, and want of brain not of heart, Charles Lameth does, on the eleventh day of November, with little emotion, decline attending some hot young Gentleman from Artois, come expressly to challenge him: nay indeed he first coldly engages to attend; then coldly permits two Friends to attend instead of him, and shame the young Gentleman out of it, which they successfully do. A cold procedure; satisfactory to the two Friends, to Lameth and the hot young Gentleman; whereby, one might have fancied, the whole matter was cooled down.

Not so, however: Lameth, proceeding to his senatorial duties, in the decline of the day, is met in those Assembly corridors by nothing but Royalist brocards; sniffs, huffs, and open insults. Human patience has its limits: “Monsieur,” said Lameth, breaking silence to one Lautrec, a man with hunchback, or natural deformity, but sharp of tongue, and a Black of the deepest tint, “Monsieur, if you were a man to be fought with!”—“I am one,” cries the young Duke de Castries. Fast as fireflash Lameth replies, “Tout à l’heure, On the instant, then!” And so, as the shades of dusk thicken in that Bois-de-Boulogne, we behold two men with lion-look, with alert attitude, side foremost, right foot advanced; flourishing and thrusting, stoccado and passado, in tierce and quart; intent to skewer one another. See, with most skewering purpose, headlong Lameth, with his whole weight, makes a furious lunge; but deft Castries whisks aside: Lameth skewers only the air,—and slits deep and far, on Castries’ sword’s-point, his own extended left arm! Whereupon, with bleeding, pallor, surgeon’s-lint and formalities, the Duel is considered satisfactorily done.

But will there be no end, then? Beloved Lameth lies deep-slit, not out of danger. Black traitorous Aristocrats kill the People’s defenders, cut up not with arguments, but with rapier-slits. And the Twelve Spadassins out of Switzerland, and the considerable number of Assassins exercising at the pistol-target? So meditates and ejaculates hurt Patriotism, with ever-deepening, ever-widening fervour, for the space of six-and-thirty hours.

The thirty-six hours past, on Saturday the 13th, one beholds a new spectacle: The Rue de Varennes, and neighbouring Boulevard des Invalides, covered with a mixed flowing multitude: the Castries Hôtel gone distracted, devil-ridden, belching from every window, “beds with clothes and curtains,” plate of silver and gold with filigree, mirrors, pictures, images, commodes, chiffoniers, and endless crockery and jingle: amid steady popular cheers, absolutely without theft: for there goes a cry, “He shall be hanged that steals a nail.” It is a Plebiscitum, or informal iconoclastic Decree of the Common People, in the course of being executed!—The Municipality sit tremulous; deliberating whether they will hang out the Drapeau Rouge and Martial Law: National Assembly, part in loud wail, part in hardly suppressed applause; Abbé Maury unable to decide whether the iconoclastic Plebs amount to forty thousand or to two hundred thousand.

Deputations, swift messengers, for it is at a distance over the River, come and go. Lafayette and National Guards, though without Drapeau Rouge, get under way; apparently in no hot haste. Nay, arrived on the scene, Lafayette salutes with doffed hat, before ordering to fix bayonets. What avails it? The Plebeian “Court of Cassation,” as Camille might punningly name it, has done its work; steps forth, with unbuttoned vest, with pockets turned inside out: sack, and just ravage, not plunder! With inexhaustible patience, the Hero of two Worlds remonstrates; persuasively, with a kind of sweet constraint, though also with fixed bayonets, dissipates, hushes down: on the morrow it is once more all as usual.

Considering which things, however, Duke Castries may justly “write to the President,” justly transport himself across the Marches; to raise a corps, or do what else is in him. Royalism totally abandons that Bobadilian method of contest, and the twelve Spadassins return to Switzerland,—or even to Dreamland through the Horn-gate, which- soever their true home is. Nay Editor Prudhomme is authorized to publish a curious thing: “We are authorized to publish,” says he, dull-blustering Publisher, “that M. Boyer, champion of good Patriots, is at the head of Fifty Spadassinicide or Bully-killers. His Address is: Passage du Bois-de-Boulogne, Faubourg St. Denis.”[338]One of the strangest Institutes, this of Champion Boyer and the Bully-killers! Whose services, however, are not wanted; Royalism having abandoned the rapier-method, as plainly impracticable.

Chapter IV: To Fly or Not to Fly

The truth is, Royalism sees itself verging towards sad extremities; nearer and nearer daily. From over the Rhine it comes asserted that the King in his Tuileries is not free: this the poor King may contradict, with the official mouth, but in his heart feels often to be undeniable. Civil Constitution of the Clergy; Decree of ejectment against Dissidents from it: not even to this latter, though almost his conscience rebels, can he say Nay; but, after two months’ hesitating, signs this also. It was “on January 21st,” of this 1791, that he signed it; to the sorrow of his poor heart yet, on another Twenty-first of January! Whereby come Dissident ejected Priests; unconquerable Martyrs according to some, incurable chicaning Traitors according to others. And so there has arrived what we once foreshadowed: with Religion, or with the Cant and Echo of Religion, all France is rent asunder in a new rupture of continuity; complicating, embittering all the older;—to be cured only by stern surgery, in La Vendée!

Unhappy Royalty, unhappy Majesty, Hereditary Representative, Représentant Héréditaire, or howsoever they may name him; of whom much is expected, to whom little is given! Blue National Guards encircle that Tuileries; a Lafayette, thin constitutional Pedant; clear, thin, inflexible, as water turned to thin ice; whom no Queen’s heart can love. National Assembly, its pavilion spread where we know, sits near by, keeping continual hubbub. From without, nothing but Nanci Revolts, sack of Castries Hôtels, riots and seditions; riots North and South, at Aix, at Douai, at Béfort, Usez, Perpignan, at Nismes, and that incurable Avignon of the Pope’s: a continual crackling and sputtering of riots from the whole face of France;—testifying how electric it grows. Add only the hard winter, the famished strikes of operatives; that continual running-bass of Scarcity, ground-tone and basis of all other Discords!

The plan of Royalty, so far as it can be said to have any fixed plan, is still, as ever, that of flying towards the frontiers. In very truth, the only plan of the smallest promise for it! Fly to Bouillé; bristle yourself round with cannon, served by your “forty-thousand undebauched Germans”: summon the National Assembly to follow you, summon what of it is Royalist, Constitutional, gainable by money; dissolve the rest, by grapeshot if need be. Let Jacobinism and Revolt, with one wild wail, fly into Infinite Space; driven by grapeshot. Thunder over France with the cannon’s mouth; commanding, not entreating, that this riot cease. And then to rule afterwards with utmost possible Constitutionality; doing justice, loving mercy; being Shepherd of this indigent People, not Shearer merely, and Shepherd’s-similitude! All this, if ye dare. If ye dare not, then, in Heaven’s name, go to sleep: other handsome alternative seems none.

Nay, it were perhaps possible; with a man to do it. For if such inexpressible whirlpool of Babylonish confusions (which our Era is) cannot be stilled by man, but only by Time and men, a man may moderate its paroxysms, may balance and sway, and keep himself unswallowed on the top of it,—as several men and Kings in these days do. Much is possible for a man; men will obey a man that kens and cans, and name him reverently their Ken-ning or King. Did not Charlemagne rule? Consider too whether he had smooth times of it; hanging “four-thousand Saxons over the Weser-Bridge,” at one dread swoop! So likewise, who knows but, in this same distracted fanatic France the right man may verily exist? An olive-complexioned taciturn man; for the present, Lieutenant in the Artillery-service, who once sat studying Mathematics at Brienne? The same who walked in the morning to correct proof-sheets at Dôle, and enjoyed a frugal breakfast with M. Joly? Such a one is gone, whither also famed General Paoli his friend is gone, in these very days, to see old scenes in native Corsica, and what Democratic good can be done there.

Royalty never executes the evasion-plan, yet never abandons it; living in variable hope; undecisive, till fortune shall decide. In utmost secrecy, a brisk Correspondence goes on with Bouillé; there is also a plot, which emerges more than once, for carrying the King to Rouen:[339] plot after plot, emerging and submerging like ignes fatui in foul weather, which lead nowhither. “About ten o’clock at night,” the Hereditary Representative, in partie quarrée, with the Queen, with Brother Monsieur, and Madame, sits playing “wisk,” or whist. Usher Campan enters mysteriously, with a message he only half comprehends: How a certain Comte D’Inisdal waits anxiously in the outer antechamber; National Colonel, Captain of the watch for this night, is gained over; post-horses ready all the way; party of Noblesse sitting armed, determined; will his Majesty, before midnight, consent to go? Profound silence; Campan waiting with upturned ear. “Did your Majesty hear what Campan said?” asks the Queen. “Yes, I heard,” answers Majesty, and plays on. “’Twas a pretty couplet, that of Campan’s,” hints Monsieur, who at times showed a pleasant wit: Majesty, still unresponsive, plays wisk. “After all, one must say something to Campan,” remarks the Queen. “Tell M. D’Inisdal,” said the King, and the Queen puts an emphasis on it, “That the King cannot consent to be forced away.”—“I see!” said D’Inisdal, whisking round, peaking himself into flame of irritancy: “we have the risk; we are to have all the blame if it fail,”[340]—and vanishes, he and his plot, as will-o’-wisps do. The Queen sat till far in the night, packing jewels: but it came to nothing; in that peaked flame of irritancy the will-o’-wisp had gone out.

Little hope there is in all this. Alas, with whom to fly? Our loyal Gardes-du-Corps, ever since the Insurrection of Women, are disbanded; gone to their homes; gone, many of them, across the Rhine towards Coblentz and Exiled Princes: brave Miomandre and brave Tardivet, these faithful Two, have received, in nocturnal interview with both Majesties, their viaticum of gold louis, of heart-felt thanks from a Queen’s lips, though unluckily “his Majesty stood, back to fire, not speaking”;[341] and do now dine through the Provinces; recounting hairs-breadth escapes, insurrectionary horrors. Great horrors; to be swallowed yet of greater. But, on the whole, what a falling off from the old splendour of Versailles! Here in this poor Tuileries a National Brewer-Colonel, sonorous Santerre, parades officially behind her Majesty’s chair. Our high dignitaries all fled over the Rhine: nothing now to be gained at Court; but hopes, for which life itself must be risked! Obscure busy men frequent the back stairs; with hearsays, wind-projects, unfruitful fanfaronades. Young Royalists, at the Théâtre de Vaudeville, “sing couplets”; if that could do anything. Royalists enough, Captains on furlough, burnt-out Seigneurs, may likewise be met with, “in the Café de Valois, and at Méot the Restaurateur’s. There they fan one another into high loyal glow; drink, in such wine as can be procured, confusion to Sansculottism; show purchased dirks, of an improved structure, made to order; and, greatly daring, dine.[342]It is in these places, in these months, that the epithet Sansculotte first gets applied to indigent Patriotism; in the last age we had Gilbert Sansculotte, the indigent Poet.[343]Destitute-of-Breeches: a mournful Destitution; which however, if Twenty millions share it, may become more effective than most Possessions!

Meanwhile, amid this vague dim whirl of fanfaronades, wind-projects, poniards made to order, there does disclose itself one punctumsaliens of life and feasibility: the finger of Mirabeau! Mirabeau and the Queen of France have met; have parted with mutual trust! It is strange; secret as the Mysteries; but it is indubitable. Mirabeau took horse, one evening; and rode westward, unattended,—to see Friend Clavière in that country house of his? Before getting to Clavière’s, the much-musing horseman struck aside to a back gate of the Garden of Saint-Cloud: some Duke D’Aremberg, or the like, was there to introduce him; the Queen was not far; on a “round knoll, rond point, the highest of the Garden of Saint-Cloud,” he beheld the Queen’s face; spake with her, alone, under the void canopy of Night. What an interview; fateful secret for us, after all searching; like the colloquies of the gods![344] She called him “a Mirabeau”: elsewhere we read that she “was charmed with him,” the wild submitted Titan; as indeed it is among the honourable tokens of this high ill-fated heart that no mind of any endowment, no Mirabeau, nay no Barnave, no Dumouriez, ever came face to face with her but, in spite of all prepossessions, she was forced to recognize it, to draw nigh to it, with trust. High imperial heart; with the instinctive attraction towards all that had any height! “You know not the Queen,” said Mirabeau once in confidence; “her force of mind is prodigious; she is a man for courage.”[345]—And so, under the void Night, on the crown of that knoll, she has spoken with a Mirabeau; he has kissed loyally the queenly hand, and said with enthusiasm: “Madame, the Monarchy is saved!”—Possible? The Foreign Powers, mysteriously sounded, gave favourable guarded response;[346] Bouillé is at Metz, and could find forty-thousand sure Germans. With a Mirabeau for head, and a Bouillé for hand, something verily is possible,—if Fate intervene not.

But figure under what thousandfold wrappages, and cloaks of darkness, Royalty, meditating these things, must involve itself. There are men with “Tickets of Entrance”; there are chivalrous consultings, mysterious plottings. Consider also whether, involve as it like, plotting Royalty can escape the glance of Patriotism; lynx-eyes, by the ten thousand, fixed on it, which see in the dark! Patriotism knows much: knows the dirks made to order, and can specify the shops; knows Sieur Motier’s legions of mouchards; the Tickets of Entrée, and men in black; and how plan of evasion succeeds plan,—or may be supposed to succeed it. Then conceive the couplets chanted at the Théâtre de Vaudeville; or worse, the whispers, significant nods of traitors in moustachios. Conceive, on the other hand, the loud cry of alarm that came through the Hundred-and-Thirty Journals; the Dionysius’-Ear of each of the Forty-eight Sections, wakeful night and day.

Patriotism is patient of much; not patient of all. The Café de Procope has sent, visibly along the streets, a Deputation of Patriots, “to expostulate with bad Editors,” by trustful word of mouth: singular to see and hear. The bad Editors promise to amend, but do not. Deputations for change of Ministry were many; Mayor Bailly joining even with Cordelier Danton in such; and they have prevailed. With what profit? Of Quacks, willing or constrained to be Quacks, the race is everlasting: Ministers Duportail and Dutertre will have to manage much as Ministers Latour-du-Pin and Cicé did. So welters the confused world.

But now, beaten on for ever by such inextricable contradictory influences and evidences, what is the indigent French Patriot, in these unhappy days, to believe, and walk by? Uncertainty all; except that he is wretched, indigent; that a glorious Revolution, the wonder of the Universe, has hitherto brought neither Bread nor Peace; being marred by traitors, difficult to discover. Traitors that dwell in the dark, invisible there;—or seen for moments, in pallid dubious twilight, stealthily vanishing thither! Preternatural Suspicion once more rules the minds of men.

“Nobody here,” writes Carra, of the Annales Patriotiques, so early as the first of February, “can entertain a doubt of the constant obstinate project these people have on foot to get the King away; or of the perpetual succession of manœuvres, they employ for that.” Nobody: the watchful Mother of Patriotism deputed two Members to her Daughter at Versailles, to examine how the matter looked there. Well, and there? Patriotic Carra continues: “The Report of these two deputies we all heard with our own ears last Saturday. They went with others of Versailles, to inspect the King’s Stables, also the stables of the whilom Gardes-du-Corps; they found there from seven to eight hundred horses standing always saddled and bridled, ready for the road at a moment’s notice. The same deputies, moreover, saw with their own two eyes several Royal Carriages, which men were even then busy loading with large well-stuffed luggage-bags,” leather cows, as we call them, “vaches de cuir; the Royal Arms on the panels almost entirely effaced.” Momentous enough! Also “on the same day the whole Maréchaussée, or Cavalry Police, did assemble with arms, horses and baggage,”—and disperse again. They want the King over the marches, that so Emperor Leopold and the German Princes, whose troops are ready, may have a pretext for beginning: “this,” adds Carra, “is the word of the riddle: this is the reason why our fugitive Aristocrats are now making levies of men on the frontiers; expecting that, one of these mornings, the Executive Chief Magistrate will be brought over to them, and the civil war commence.”[347]

If indeed the Executive Chief Magistrate, bagged, say in one of these leather cows, were once brought safe over to them! But the strangest thing of all is, that Patriotism, whether barking at a venture, or guided by some instinct of preternatural sagacity, is actually barking aright this time; at something, not at nothing. Bouillé’s Secret Correspondence, since made public, testifies as much.

Nay, it is undeniable, visible to all, that Mesdames the King’s Aunts are taking steps for departure: asking passports of the Ministry, safe-conducts of the Municipality; which Marat warns all men to beware of. They will carry gold with them, “these old Béguines”; nay they will carry the little Dauphin, “having nursed a changeling, for some time, to leave in his stead!” Besides, they are as some light substance flung up, to show how the wind sits; a kind of proof-kite you fly off to ascertain whether the grand paper-kite, Evasion of the King, may mount!

In these alarming circumstances, Patriotism is not wanting to itself. Municipality deputes to the King; Sections depute to the Municipality; a National Assembly will soon stir. Meanwhile, behold, on the 19th of February, 1791, Mesdames, quitting Bellevue and Versailles with all privacy, are off ! Towards Rome, seemingly; or one knows not whither. They are not without King’s passports, countersigned; and what is more to the purpose, a serviceable Escort. The Patriotic Mayor or Mayorlet of the Village of Moret tried to detain them: but brisk Louis de Narbonne, of the Escort, dashed off at hand-gallop; returned soon with thirty dragoons, and victoriously cut them out. And so the poor ancient women go their way; to the terror of France and Paris, whose nervous excitability is become extreme. Who else would hinder poor Loque and Graille, now grown so old, and fallen into such unexpected circumstances, when gossip itself turning only on terrors and horrors is no longer pleasant to the mind, and you cannot get so much as an orthodox confessor in peace,—from going what way soever the hope of any solacement might lead them?

They go, poor ancient dames,—whom the heart were hard that did not pity: they go; with palpitations, with unmelodious suppressed screechings; all France screeching and cackling, in loud unsuppressed terror, behind and on both hands of them: such mutual suspicion is among men. At Arnay le Duc, above half-way to the frontiers, a Patriotic Municipality and Populace again takes courage to stop them: Louis Narbonne must now back to Paris, must consult the National Assembly. National Assembly answers, not without an effort, that Mesdames may go. Whereupon Paris rises worse than ever, screeching half-distracted. Tuileries and precincts are filled with women and men, while the National Assembly debates this question of questions; Lafayette is needed at night for dispersing them, and the streets are to be illuminated. Commandant Berthier, a Berthier before whom are great things unknown, lies for the present under blockade at Bellevue in Versailles. By no tactics could he get Mesdames’ Luggage stirred from the Courts there; frantic Versaillese women came screaming about him; his very troops cut the wagon-traces; he “retired to the interior,” waiting better times.[348]

Nay, in these same hours, while Mesdames, hardly cut out from Moret by the sabre’s edge, are driving rapidly, to foreign parts, and not yet stopped at Arnay, their august Nephew poor Monsieur, at Paris, has dived deep into his cellars of the Luxembourg for shelter; and, according to Montgaillard, can hardly be persuaded up again. Screeching multitudes environ that Luxembourg of his; drawn thither by report of his departure: but at sight and sound of Monsieur, they become crowing multitudes; and escort Madame and him to the Tuileries with vivats.[349] It is a state of nervous excitability such as few nations know.

Chapter V: The Day of Poniards

Or, again, what means this visible reparation of the Castle of Vincennes? Other Jails being all crowded with prisoners, new space is wanted here: that is the Municipal account. For in such changing of Judicatures, Parlements being abolished, and New Courts but just set up, prisoners have accumulated. Not to say that in these times of discord and club-law, offences and committals are, at any rate, more numerous. Which Municipal account, does it not sufficiently explain the phenomenon? Surely, to repair the Castle of Vincennes was of all enterprises that an enlightened Municipality could undertake, the most innocent.

Not so, however, does neighbouring Saint-Antoine look on it: Saint-Antoine to whom these peaked turrets and grim donjons, all too near her own dark dwelling, are of themselves an offence. Was not Vincennes a kind of minor Bastille? Great Diderot and Philosophes have lain in durance here; great Mirabeau, in disastrous eclipse, for forty-two months. And now when the old Bastille has become a dancing-ground (had any one the mirth to dance), and its stones are getting built into the Pont Louis-Seize, does this minor, comparative insignificance of a Bastille flank itself with fresh-hewn mullions, spread out tyrannous wings; menacing Patriotism? New space for prisoners: and what prisoners? A D’Orléans, with the chief Patriots on the tip of the Left? It is said, there runs “a subterranean passage” all the way from the Tuileries hither. Who knows? Paris, mined with quarries and catacombs, does hang wondrous over the abyss; Paris was once to be blown up,—though the powder, when we went to look, had got withdrawn. A Tuileries, sold to Austria and Coblentz, should have no subterranean passage. Out of which might not Coblentz or Austria issue, some morning; and, with cannon of long range, “foudroyer,” bethunder a patriotic Saint-Antoine into smoulder and ruin!

So meditates the benighted soul of Saint-Antoine, as it see the aproned workmen, in early spring, busy on these towers. An officialspeaking Municipality, a Sieur Motier with his legions of mouchards, deserve no trust at all. Were Patriot Santerre, indeed, Commander! But the sonorous Brewer commands only our own Battalion: of such secrets he can explain nothing, knows nothing, perhaps suspects much. And so the work goes on; and afflicted benighted Saint-Antoine hears rattle of hammers, sees stones suspended in air.[350]

Saint-Antoine prostrated the first great Bastille: will it falter over this comparative insignificance of a Bastille? Friends, what if we took pikes, firelocks, sledgehammers; and helped ourselves!—Speedier is no remedy; nor so certain. On the 28th day of February, Saint-Antoine turns out, as it has now often done; and, apparently with little superfluous tumult, moves eastward to that eye-sorrow of Vincennes. With grave voice of authority, no need of bullying and shouting, Saint-Antoine signifies to parties concerned there, that its purpose is, To have this suspicious Stronghold razed level with the general soil of the country. Remonstrance may be proffered, with zeal; but it avails not. The outer gate goes up, drawbridges tumble; iron window-stanchions, smitten out with sledgehammers, become iron-crowbars: it rains a rain of furniture, stone-masses, slates: with chaotic clatter and rattle, Demolition clatters down. And now hasty expresses rush through the agitated streets, to warn Lafayette, and the Municipal and Departmental Authorities; Rumour warns a National Assembly, a Royal Tuileries, and all men who care to hear it: That Saint-Antoine is up; that Vincennes, and probably the last remaining Institution of the Country, is coming down.[351]

Quick, then! Let Lafayette roll his drums and fly eastward; for to all Constitutional Patriots this is again bad news. And you, ye Friends of Royalty, snatch your poniards of improved structure, made to order; your sword-canes, secret arms, and tickets of entry; quick, by backstairs passages, rally round the Son of Sixty Kings. An effervescence probably got up by D’Orléans and Company, for the overthrow of Throne and Altar: it is said her Majesty shall be put in prison, put out of the way; what then will his Majesty be? Clay for the Sansculottic Potter! Or were it impossible to fly this day; a brave Noblesse suddenly all rallying? Peril threatens, hope invites: Dukes de Villequier, de Duras, Gentlemen of the Chamber give Tickets and admittance; a brave Noblesse is suddenly all rallying. Now were the time to “fall sword in hand on those gentry there,” could it be done with effect.

The Hero of two Worlds is on his white charger: blue Nationals, horse and foot, hurrying eastward; Santerre, with the Saint-Antoine Battalion, is already there,—apparently indisposed to act. Heavy-laden Hero of two Worlds, what tasks are these! The jeerings, provocative gambollings of that Patriot Suburb, which is all out on the streets now, are hard to endure; unwashed Patriots jeering in sulky sport; one unwashed Patriot “seizing the General by the boot,” to unhorse him. Santerre, ordered to fire, makes answer obliquely, “These are the men that took the Bastille”; and not a trigger stirs. Neither dare the Vincennes Magistracy give warrant of arrestment, or the smallest countenance: wherefore the General “will take it on himself” to arrest. By promptitude, by cheerful adroitness, patience and brisk valour without limits, the riot may be again bloodlessly appeased.

Meanwhile, the rest of Paris, with more or less unconcern, may mind the rest of its business: for what is this but an effervescence, of which there are now so many? The National Assembly, in one of its stormiest moods, is debating a Law against Emigration; Mirabeau declaring aloud, “I swear beforehand that I will not obey it.” Mirabeau is often at the Tribune this day; with endless impediments from without; with the old unabated energy from within. What can murmurs and clamours, from Left or from Right, do to this man; like Teneriffe or Atlas unremoved? With clear thought; with strong bass-voice, though at first low, uncertain, he claims audience, sways the storm of men: anon the sound of him waxes, softens; he rises into far-sounding melody of strength, triumphant, which subdues all hearts; his rude seamed face, desolate, fire-scathed, becomes fire-lit, and radiates: once again men feel, in these beggarly ages, what is the potency and omnipotency of man’s word on the souls of men. “I will triumph or be torn in fragments,” he was once heard to say. “Silence,” he cries now, in strong word of command, in imperial consciousness of strength, “Silence, the thirty voices, Silence aux trente voix! ”—and Robespierre and the Thirty Voices die into mutterings; and the Law is once more as Mirabeau would have it.

How different, at the same instant, is General Lafayette’s street-eloquence; wrangling with sonorous Brewers, with an ungrammatical Saint-Antoine! Most different, again, from both is the Café-de-Valois eloquence, and suppressed fanfaronade, of this multitude of men with Tickets of Entry; who are now inundating the Corridors of the Tuileries. Such things can go on simultaneously in one City. How much more in one Country, in one Planet with its discrepancies, every Day a mere crackling infinitude of discrepancies,—which nevertheless do yield some coherent net-product, though an infinitesimally small one!

But be this as it may, Lafayette has saved Vincennes; and is marching homewards with some dozen of arrested demolitionists. Royalty is not yet saved;—nor indeed specially endangered. But to the King’s Constitutional Guard, to these old Gardes Françaises, or Centre Grenadiers, as it chanced to be, this affluence of men with Tickets of Entry is becoming more and more unintelligible. Is his Majesty verily for Metz, then; to be carried off by these men, on the spur of the instant? That revolt of Saint-Antoine got up by traitor Royalists for a stalking-horse? Keep a sharp outlook, ye Centre Grenadiers on duty here: good never came from the “men in black.” Nay they have cloaks, rédingotes; some of them leather-breeches, boots,—as if for instant riding! Or what is this that sticks visible from the lapelle of Chevalier de Court?[352]Too like the handle of some cutting or stabbing instrument! He glides and goes; and still the dudgeon sticks from his left lapelle. “Hold, Monsieur!”—a Centre Grenadier clutches him; clutches the protrusive dudgeon, whisks it out in the face of the world: by Heaven, a very dagger; hunting-knife or whatsoever you will call it; fit to drink the life of Patriotism!

So fared it with Chevalier de Court, early in the day; not without noise; not without commentaries. And now this continually increasing multitude at nightfall? Have they daggers too? Alas, with them too, after angry parleyings, there has begun a groping and a rummaging; all men in black, spite of their Tickets of Entry, are clutched by the collar, and groped. Scandalous to think of: for always, as the dirk, sword-cane, pistol, or were it but tailor’s bodkin, is found on him, and with loud scorn drawn forth from him, he, the hapless man in black, is flung all too rapidly down stairs. Flung; and ignominiously descends, head foremost; accelerated by ignominious shovings from sentry after sentry; nay, as is written, by smitings, twitchings,—spurnings à posteriori, not to be named. In this accelerated way, emerges, uncertain which end uppermost, man after man in black, through all issues, into the Tuileries Garden. Emerges, alas, into the arms of an indignant multitude, now gathered and gathering there, in the hour of dusk, to see what is toward, and whether the Hereditary Representative is carried off or not. Hapless men in black; at last convicted of poniards made to order; convicted “Chevaliers of the Poniard!” Within is as the burning ship; without is as the deep sea. Within is no help; his Majesty, looking forth, one moment, from his interior sanctuaries, coldly bids all visitors “give up their weapons”; and shuts the door again. The weapons given up form a heap: the convicted Chevaliers of the Poniard keep descending pell-mell, with impetuous velocity; and at the bottom of all staircases, the mixed multitude receives them, hustles, buffets, chases and disperses them.[353]

Such sight meets Lafayette, in the dusk of the evening, as he returns, successful with difficulty at Vincennes: Sansculotte Scylla hardly weathered, here is Aristocrat Charybdis gurgling under his lee! The patient Hero of two Worlds almost loses temper. He accelerates, does not retard, the flying Chevaliers; delivers, indeed, this or the other hunted Loyalist of quality, but rates him in bitter words, such as the hour suggested; such as no saloon could pardon. Hero ill-bested; hanging, so to speak, in mid air; hateful to Rich divinities above; hateful to Indigent mortals below! Duke de Villequier, Gentleman of the Chamber, gets such contumelious rating, in presence of all people there, that he may see good first to exculpate himself in the Newspapers; then, that not prospering, to retire over the Frontiers, and begin plotting at Brussels.[354]His apartment will stand vacant; usefuller, as we may find, than when it stood occupied.

So fly the Chevaliers of the Poniard; hunted of Patriotic men, shamefully in the thickening dusk. A dim miserable business; born of darkness; dying away there in the thickening dusk and dimness. In the midst of which, however, let the reader discern clearly one figure running for its life: Crispin-Catiline d’Espréménil,—for the last time, or the last but one. It is not yet three years since these same Centre Grenadiers, Gardes Françaises then, marched him towards the Calypso Isles, in the grey of the May morning; and he and they have got thus far. Buffeted, beaten down, delivered by popular Pétion, he might well answer bitterly: “And I too, Monsieur, have been carried on the People’s shoulders.”[355] A fact which popular Pétion, if he like, can meditate.

But happily, one way and another, the speedy night covers up this ignominious Day of Poniards; and the Chevaliers escape, though maltreated, with torn coat-skirts and heavy hearts, to their respective dwelling-houses. Riot twofold is quelled; and little blood shed, if it be not insignificant blood from the nose: Vincennes stands undemolished, reparable; and the Hereditary Representative has not been stolen, nor the Queen smuggled into Prison. A day long remembered: commented on with loud hahas and deep grumblings; with bitter scornfulness of triumph, bitter rancour of defeat. Royalism, as usual, imputes it to D’Orléans and the Anarchists intent on insulting Majesty: Patriotism, as usual, to Royalists, and even Constitutionalists, intent on stealing Majesty to Metz: we, also as usual, to Preternatural Suspicion, and Phoebus Apollo having made himself like the Night.

Thus, however, has the reader seen, in an unexpected arena, on this last day of February 1791, the Three long-contending elements of French Society dashed forth into singular comico-tragical collision; acting and reacting openly to the eye. Constitutionalism, at once quelling Sansculottic riot at Vincennes, and Royalist treachery in the Tuileries, is great, this day, and prevails. As for poor Royalism, tossed to and fro in that manner, its daggers all left in a heap, what can one think of it? Every dog, the Adage says, has its day: has it, has had it; or will have it. For the present, the day is Lafayette’s and the Constitution’s. Nevertheless Hunger and Jacobinism, fast growing fanatical, still work; their day, were they once fanatical, will come. Hitherto, in all tempests, Lafayette, like some divine Sea-ruler, raises his serene head: the upper Aeolus’ blasts fly back to their caves, like foolish unbidden winds: the under sea-billows they had vexed into froth allay themselves. But if, as we often write, the submarine Titanic Fire-powers came into play, the Ocean-bed from beneath being burst? If they hurled Poseidon Lafayette and his Constitution out of Space; and, in the Titanic melly, sea were mixed with sky?

Chapter VI: Mirabeau

The spirit of France waxes ever more acrid, feversick: towards the final outburst of dissolution and delirium. Suspicion rules all minds: contending parties cannot now commingle; stand separated sheer asunder, eyeing one another, in most aguish mood, of cold terror or hot rage. Counter-Revolution, Days of Poniards, Castries Duels; Flight of Mesdames, of Monsieur and Royalty! Journalism shrills ever louder its cry of alarm. The sleepless Dionysius’s Ear of the Forty-eight Sections, how feverishly quick has it grown; convulsing with strange pangs the whole sick Body, as in such sleeplessness and sickness the ear will do!

Since Royalists get Poniards made to order, and a Sieur Motier is no better than he should be, shall not Patriotism too, even of the indigent sort, have Pikes, secondhand Firelocks, in readiness for the worst? The anvils ring, during this March month, with hammering of Pikes. A Constitutional Municipality promulgated its Placard, that no citizen except the “active” or cash-citizen was entitled to have arms; but there rose, instantly responsive, such a tempest of astonishment from Club and Section, that the Constitutional Placard, almost next morning, had to cover itself up, and die away into inanity, in a second improved edition.[356]So the hammering continues; as all that it betokens does.

Mark, again, how the extreme tip of the Left is mounting in favour, if not in its own National Hall, yet with the Nation, especially with Paris. For in such universal panic of doubt, the opinion that is sure of itself, as the meagrest opinion may the soonest be, is the one to which all men will rally. Great is Belief, were it never so meagre; and leads captive the doubting heart. Incorruptible Robespierre has been elected Public Accuser in our new Courts of Judicature; virtuous Pétion, it is thought, may rise to be Mayor. Cordelier Danton, called also by triumphant majorities, sits at the Departmental Council-table; colleague there of Mirabeau. Of incorruptible Robespierre it was long ago predicted that he might go far, mean meagre mortal though he was; for Doubt dwelt not in him.

Under which circumstances ought not Royalty likewise to cease doubting, and begin deciding and acting? Royalty has always that sure trump-card in its hand: Flight out of Paris. Which sure trump-card Royalty, as we see, keeps ever and anon clutching at, grasping; and swashes it forth tentatively; yet never tables it, still puts it back again. Play it, O Royalty! If there be a chance left, this seems it, and verily the last chance; and now every hour is rendering this a doubtfuller. Alas, one would so fain both fly and not fly; play one’s card and have it to play. Royalty, in all human likelihood, will not play its trump-card till the honours, one after one, be mainly lost; and such trumping of it prove to be the sudden finish of the game!

Here accordingly a question always arises; of the prophetic sort; which cannot now be answered. Suppose Mirabeau, with whom Royalty takes deep counsel, as with a Prime Minister that cannot yet legally avow himself as such, had got his arrangements completed? Arrangements he has; far-stretching plans that dawn fitfully on us, by fragments, in the confused darkness. Thirty Departments ready to sign loyal Addresses, of prescribed tenor: King carried out of Paris, but only to Compiègne and Rouen, hardly to Metz, since, once for all, no Emigrant rabble shall take the lead in it: National Assembly consenting, by dint of loyal Addresses, by management, by force of Bouillé, to hear reason, and follow thither![357] Was it so, on these terms, that Jacobinism and Mirabeau were then to grapple, in their Hercules-and-Typhon duel; Death inevitable for the one or the other? The duel itself is determined on, and sure: but on what terms; much more, with what issue, we in vain guess. It is vague darkness all: unknown what is to be; unknown even what has already been. The giant Mirabeau walks in darkness, as we said; companionless, on wild ways: what his thoughts during these months were, no record of Biographer, nor vague Fils Adoptif, will now ever disclose.

To us, endeavouring to cast his horoscope, it of course remains doubly vague. There is one Herculean Man; in internecine duel with him, there is Monster after Monster. Emigrant Noblesse return, sword on thigh, vaunting of their Loyalty never sullied; descending from the air, like Harpy-swarms with ferocity, with obscene greed. Earth-ward there is the Typhon of Anarchy, Political, Religious: sprawling hundred-headed, say with Twenty-five million heads; wide as the area of France; fierce as Frenzy; strong in very Hunger. With these shall the Serpent-queller do battle continually, and expect no rest.

As for the King, he as usual will go wavering chameleonlike; changing colour and purpose with the colour of his environment;—good for no Kingly use. On one royal person, on the Queen only, can Mirabeau perhaps place dependence. It is possible, the greatness of this man, not unskilled too in blandishments, courtiership, and graceful adroitness, might, with most legitimate sorcery, fascinate the volatile Queen, and fix her to him. She has courage for all noble daring; an eye and a heart: the soul of Theresa’s Daughter. “Faut-il donc, Is it fated then,” she passionately writes to her Brother, “that I with the blood I am come of, with the sentiments I have, must live and die among such mortals?”[358] Alas, poor Princess, Yes. “She is the only man,” as Mirabeau observes, “whom his Majesty has about him.” Of one other man Mirabeau is still surer: of himself. There lie his resources; sufficient or insufficient.

Dim and great to the eye of Prophecy looks that future. A perpetual life-and-death battle; confusion from above and from below;— mere confused darkness for us; with here and there some streak of faint lurid light. We see a King perhaps laid aside; not tonsured, tonsuring is out of fashion now; but say, sent away anywhither, with handsome annual allowance, and stock of smith-tools. We see a Queen and Dauphin, Regent and Minor; a Queen “mounted on horseback,” in the din of battles, with Moriamur pro rege nostro! “Such a day,” Mirabeau writes, “may come.”

Din of battles, wars more than civil, confusion from above and from below: in such environment the eye of Prophecy sees Comte de Mirabeau, like some Cardinal de Retz, stormfully maintain himself; with head all-devising, heart all-daring, if not victorious, yet unvanquished, while life is left him. The specialities and issues of it, no eye of Prophecy can guess at: it is clouds, we repeat, and tempestuous night; and in the middle of it, now visible, far-darting, now labouring in eclipse, is Mirabeau indomitably struggling to be Cloud-Compeller!—One can say that, had Mirabeau lived, the History of France and of the World had been different. Further, that the man would have needed, as few men ever did, the whole compass of that same “Art of Daring, Art d’Oser,” which he so prized; and likewise that he, above all men then living, would have practised and manifested it. Finally, that some substantiality, and no empty simulacrum of a formula, would have been the result realized by him: a result you could have loved, a result you could have hated; by no likelihood, a result you could only have rejected with closed lips, and swept into quick forgetfulness for ever. Had Mirabeau lived one other year!

Chapter VII: Death of Mirabeau

But Mirabeau could not live another year, any more than he could live another thousand years. Men’s years are numbered, and the tale of Mirabeau’s was now complete. Important or unimportant; to be mentioned in World-History for some centuries, or not to be mentioned there beyond a day or two,—it matters not to peremptory Fate. From amid the press of ruddy busy Life, the Pale Messenger beckons silently: wide-spreading interests, projects, salvation of French Monarchies, what thing soever man has on hand, he must suddenly quit it all and go. Wert thou saving French Monarchies; wert thou blacking shoes on the Pont Neuf ! The most important of men cannot stay; did the World’s History depend on an hour, that hour is not to be given. Whereby, indeed, it comes that these same would-have-beens are mostly a vanity; and the World’s History could never in the least be what it would, or might, or should, by any manner of potentiality, but simply and altogether what it is.

The fierce wear and tear of such an existence has wasted out the giant oaken strength of Mirabeau. A fret and fever that keeps heart and brain on fire: excess of effort, of excitement; excess of all kinds: labour incessant, almost beyond credibility! “If I had not lived with him,” says Dumont, “I never should have known what a man can make of one day; what things may be placed within the interval of twelve hours. A day for this man was more than a week or a month is for others: the mass of things he guided on together was prodigious; from the scheming to the executing not a moment lost.”—“Monsieur le Comte,” said his Secretary to him once, “what you require is impossible.”—“Impossible!”— answered he, starting from his chair, “Ne me dites jamais ce bête de mot, Never name to me that blockhead of a word.”[359]And then the social repasts; the dinner which be gives as Commandant of National Guards, which “cost five hundred pounds”; alas, and “the Sirens of the Opera”; and all the ginger that is hot in the mouth:—down what a course is this man hurled! Cannot Mirabeau stop; cannot he fly, and save himself alive? No! There is a Nessus’ Shirt on this Hercules; he must storm and burn there, without rest, till he be consumed. Human strength, never so Herculean, has its measure. Herald shadows flit pale across the fire-brain of Mirabeau; heralds of the pale repose. While he tosses and storms, straining every nerve, in that sea of ambition and confusion, there comes, sombre and still, a monition that for him the issue of it will be swift death.

In January last, you might see him as President of the Assembly; “his neck wrapt in linen cloths, at the evening session”: there was sick heat of the blood, alternate darkening and flashing in the eyesight; he had to apply leeches, after the morning labour, and preside bandaged. “At parting he embraced me,” says Dumont, “with an emotion I had never seen in him: ‘I am dying, my friend; dying as by slow fire; we shall perhaps not meet again. When I am gone, they will know what the value of me was. The miseries I have held back will burst from all sides on France.’ ”[360] Sickness gives louder warning; but cannot be listened to. On the 27th day of March, proceeding towards the Assembly, he had to seek rest and help in Friend de Lamarck’s, by the road; and lay there, for an hour, half-fainted, stretched on a sofa. To the Assembly nevertheless he went, as if in spite of Destiny itself; spoke, loud and eager, five several times; then quitted the Tribune—for ever. He steps out, utterly exhausted, into the Tuileries Gardens; many people press round him, as usual, with applications, memorials; he says to the Friend who was with him: “Take me out of this!”

And so, on the last day of March 1791, endless anxious multitudes beset the Rue de la Chausée d’Antin; incessantly inquiring; within doors there, in that House numbered, in our time, 42, the overwearied giant has fallen down, to die.[361] Crowds of all parties and kinds; of all ranks from the King to the meanest man! The King sends publicly twice a-day to inquire; privately besides: from the world at large there is no end of inquiring. “A written bulletin is handed out every three hours,” is copied and circulated; in the end, it is printed. The People spontaneously keep silence; no carriage shall enter with its noise: there is crowding pressure; but the Sister of Mirabeau is reverently recognized, and has free way made for her. The People stand mute, heart-stricken; to all it seems as if a great calamity were nigh: as if the last man of France, who could have swayed these coming troubles, lay there at hand-grips with the unearthly power.

The silence of a whole People, the wakeful toil of Cabanis, Friend and Physician, skills not: on Saturday, the second day of April, Mirabeau feels that the last of the Days has risen for him; that on this day he has to depart and be no more. His death is Titanic, as his life has been! Lit up, for the last time, in the glare of coming dissolution, the mind of the man is glowing and burning; utters itself in sayings, such as men long remember. He longs to live, yet acquiesces in death, argues not with the inexorable. His speech is wild and wondrous: unearthly Phantasms dancing now their torch-dance round his soul; the soul itself looking out, fire-radiant, motionless, girt together for that great hour! At times comes a beam of light from him on the world he is quitting. “I carry in my heart the death-dirge of the French Monarchy; the dead remains of it will now be the spoil of the factious.” Or again, when he heard the cannon fire, what is characteristic too: “Have we the Achilles’ Funeral already?” So likewise, while some friend is supporting him: “Yes, support that head; would I could bequeath it thee!” For the man dies as he has lived; self-conscious, conscious of a world looking on. He gazes forth on the young Spring, which for him will never be Summer. The Sun has risen; he says, “Si ce n’est pas là Dieu, c’est du moins son cousin germain.”[362]—Death has mastered the outworks; power of speech is gone; the citadel of the heart still holding out: the moribund giant, passionately, by sign, demands paper and pen; writes his passionate demand for opium, to end these agonies. The sorrowful Doctor shakes his head: Dormir, “To sleep,” writes the other, passionately pointing at it! So dies a gigantic Heathen and Titan; stumbling blindly, undismayed, down to his rest. At half-past eight in the morning, Doctor Petit, standing at the foot of the bed, says, “Il ne sou fre plus.” His suffering and his working are now ended.

Even so, ye silent Patriot multitudes, all ye men of France; this man is rapt away from you. He has fallen suddenly, without bending till he broke; as a tower falls, smitten by sudden lightning. His word ye shall hear no more, his guidance follow no more.—The multitudes depart, heartstruck; spread the sad tidings. How touching is the loyalty of men to their Sovereign Man! All theatres, public amusements close; no joyful meeting can be held in these nights, joy is not for them: the People break in upon private dancing-parties, and sullenly command that they cease. Of such dancing-parties apparently but two came to light; and these also have gone out. The gloom is universal; never in this City was such sorrow for one death; never since that old night when Louis XII departed, “and the Crieurs des Corps went sounding their bells, and crying along the streets: Le bon roi Louis, père du peuple, est mort, The good King Louis, Father of the People, is dead!”[363] King Mirabeau is now the lost King; and one may say with little exaggeration, all the People mourns for him.

For three days there is low wide moan; weeping in the National Assembly itself. The streets are all mournful; orators mounted on the bornes, with large silent audience, preaching the funeral sermon of the dead. Let no coachman whip fast, distractively with his rolling wheels, or almost at all, through these groups! His traces may be cut; himself and his fare, as incurable Aristocrats, hurled sulkily into the kennels. The bourne-stone orators speak as it is given them; the Sansculottic People, with its rude soul, listens eager,—as men will to any Sermon, or Sermo, when it is a spoken Word meaning a Thing, and not a Babblement meaning No-thing. In the Restaurateur’s of the Palais-Royal, the waiter remarks, “Fine weather, Monsieur”:—“Yes, my friend,” answers the ancient Man of Letters, “very fine; but Mirabeau is dead.” Hoarse rhythmic threnodies come also from the throats of balladsingers; are sold on grey-white paper at a sou each.[364] But of Portraits, engraved, painted, hewn and written; of Eulogies, Reminiscences, Biographies, nay Vaudevilles, Dramas and Melodramas, in all Provinces of France, there will, through these coming months, be the due immeasurable crop; thick as the leaves of Spring. Nor, that a tincture of burlesque might be in it, is Gobel’s Episcopal Mandement wanting; goose Gobel, who has just been made Constitutional Bishop of Paris. A Mandement wherein Ça ira alternates very strangely with Nomine Domini; and you are, with a grave countenance, invited to “rejoice at possessing in the midst of you a body of Prelates created by Mirabeau, zealous followers of his doctrine, faithful imitators of his virtues.”[365]So speaks, and cackles manifold, the Sorrow of France; wailing articulately, inarticulately, as it can, that a Sovereign Man is snatched away. In the National Assembly, when difficult questions are astir, all eyes will “turn mechanically to the place where Mirabeau sat,”—and Mirabeau is absent now.

On the third evening of the lamentation, the fourth of April, there is solemn Public Funeral; such as deceased mortal seldom had. Procession of a league in length; of mourners reckoned loosely at a hundred thousand. All roofs are thronged with onlookers, all windows, lamp-irons, branches of trees. “Sadness is painted on every countenance; many persons weep.” There is double hedge of National Guards; there is National Assembly in a body; Jacobin Society, and Societies; King’s Ministers, Municipals, and all Notabilities, Patriot or Aristocrat. Bouillé is noticeable there, “with his hat on”; say, hat drawn over his brow, hiding many thoughts! Slow-wending, in religious silence, the Procession of a league in length, under the level sun-rays, for it is five o’clock, moves and marches: with its sable plumes; itself in a religious silence; but, by fits with the muffled roll of drums, by fits with some long-drawn wail of music, and strange new-clangour of trombones, and metallic dirge-voice; amid the infinite hum of men. In the Church of Saint-Eustache, there is funeral oration by Cerutti; and discharge of fire-arms, which “brings down pieces of the plaster.” Thence, forward again to the Church of Sainte-Genéviève; which has been consecrated, by supreme decree, on the spur of this time, into a Pantheon for the Great Men of the Fatherland, Aux Grands Hommes la Patrie réconnaissante. Hardly at midnight is the business done; and Mirabeau left in his dark dwelling: first tenant of that Fatherland’s Pantheon.

Tenant, alas, who inhabits but at will, and shall be cast out. For, in these days of convulsion and disjection, not even the dust of the dead is permitted to rest. Voltaire’s bones are, by and by, to be carried from their stolen grave in the Abbey of Scellières, to an eager stealing grave, in Paris his birth-city: all mortals processioning and perorating there; cars drawn by eight white horses, goadsters in classical costume, with fillets and wheat-ears enough;—though the weather is of the wettest.[366] Evangelist Jean Jacques too, as is most proper, must be dug up from Ermenonville, and processioned, with pomp, with sensibility, to the Pantheon of the Fatherland.[367]He and others: while again Mirabeau, we say, is cast forth from it, happily incapable of being replaced; and rests now, irrecognizable, reburied hastily at dead of night “in the central part of the Churchyard Sainte-Catherine, in the Suburb Saint-Marceau,” to be disturbed no further.

So blazes out, farseen, a Man’s Life, and becomes ashes and a caput mortuum, in this World-Pyre, which we name French Revolution: not the first that consumed itself there; nor, by thousands and many millions, the last! A man who “had swallowed all formulas”; who, in these strange times and circumstances, felt called to live Titanically, and also to die so. As he, for his part, had swallowed all formulas, what Formula is there, never so comprehensive, that will express truly the plus and the minus of him, give us the accurate net-result of him? There is hitherto none such. Moralities not a few must shriek condemnatory over this Mirabeau; the Morality by which he could be judged has not yet got uttered in the speech of men. We will say this of him again: That he is a Reality and no Simulacrum; a living Son of Nature our general Mother; not a hollow Artifice, and mechanism of Conventionalities, son of nothing, brother to nothing. In which little word, let the earnest man, walking sorrowful in a world mostly of “Stuffed Clothes-suits,” that chatter and grin meaningless on him, quite ghastly to the earnest soul,—think what significance there is!

Of men who, in such sense, are alive, and see with eyes, the number is now not great: it may be well, if in this huge French Revolution itself, with its all-developing fury, we find some Three. Mortals driven rabid we find; sputtering the acridest logic; baring their breast to the battle-hail, their neck to the guillotine:—of whom it is so painful to say that they too are still, in good part, manufactured Formalities, not Facts but Hearsays!

Honour to the strong man, in these ages, who has shaken himself loose of shams, and is something. For in the way of being worthy, the first condition surely is that one be. Let Cant cease, at all risks and at all cost: till Cant cease, nothing else can begin. Of human Criminals, in these centuries, writes the Moralist, I find but one unforgivable: the Quack. “Hateful to God,” as divine Dante sings, “and to the Enemies of God,

A Dio spiacente ed a’ nemici sui!”

But whoever will, with sympathy, which is the first essential towards insight, look at this questionable Mirabeau, may find that there lay verily in him, as the basis of all, a Sincerity, a great free Earnestness; nay call it Honesty, for the man did before all things see, with that clear flashing vision, into what was, into what existed as fact; and did, with his wild heart, follow that and no other. Whereby on what ways soever he travels and struggles, often enough falling, he is still a brother man. Hate him not; thou canst not hate him! Shining through such soil and tarnish, and now victorious effulgent, and oftenest struggling eclipsed, the light of genius itself is in this man; which was never yet base and hateful; but at worst was lamentable, lovable with pity. They say that he was ambitious, that he wanted to be Minister. It is most true. And was he not simply the one man in France who could have done any good as Minister? Not vanity alone, not pride alone; far from that! Wild burstings of affection were in this great heart; of fierce lightning, and soft dew of pity. So sunk bemired in wretchedest defacements, it may be said of him, like the Magdalen of old, that he loved much: his Father, the harshest of old crabbed men, he loved with warmth, with veneration.

Be it that his falls and follies are manifold,—as himself often lamented even with tears.[368] Alas, is not the Life of every such man already a poetic Tragedy; made up “of Fate and of one’s own Deservings,” of Schicksal und eigene Schuld; full of the elements of Pity and Fear? This brother man, if not Epic for us, is Tragic; if not great, is large; large in his qualities, world-large in his destinies. Whom other men, recognizing him as such, may, through long times, remember, and draw nigh to examine and consider: these, in their several dialects, will say of him and sing of him,—till the right thing be said; and so the Formula that can judge him be no longer an undiscovered one.

Here then the wild Gabriel Honoré drops from the tissue of our History; not without a tragic farewell. He is gone: the flower of the wild Riquetti or Arrighetti kindred; which seems as if in him, with one last effort, it had done its best, and then expired, or sunk down to the undistinguished level. Crabbed old Marquis Mirabeau, the Friend of Men, sleeps sound. The Bailli Mirabeau, worthy Uncle, will soon die forlorn, alone. Barrel-Mirabeau, already gone across the Rhine, his Regiment of Emigrants will drive nigh desperate. “Barrel-Mirabeau,” says a biographer of his, “went indignantly across the Rhine, and drilled Emigrant Regiments. But as he sat one morning in his tent, sour of stomach doubtless and of heart, meditating in Tartarean humour on the turn things took, a certain Captain or Subaltern demanded admittance on business. Such Captain is refused; he again demands, with refusal; and then again; till Colonel Viscount Barrel-Mirabeau, blazing up into a mere burning brandy-barrel, clutches his sword, and tumbles out on this canaille of an intruder,—alas, on the canaille of an intruder’s sword-point, who had drawn with swift dexterity; and dies, and the Newspapers name it apoplexy and alarming accident.” So die the Mirabeaus.

New Mirabeaus one hears not of: the wild kindred, as we said, is gone out with this its greatest. As families and kindreds sometimes do; producing, after long ages of unnoted notability, some living, quintessence of all the qualities they had, to flame forth as a man world-noted; after whom they rest as if exhausted; the sceptre passing to others. The chosen Last of the Mirabeaus is gone; the chosen man of France is gone. It was he who shook old France from its basis; and, as if with his single hand, has held it toppling there, still unfallen. What things depended on that one man! He is as a ship suddenly shivered on sunk rocks: much swims on the waste waters, far from help.

Book IV: Varennes

Chapter I: Easter at Saint-Cloud

The French Monarchy may now therefore be considered as, in all human probability, lost; as struggling henceforth in blindness as well as weakness, the last light of reasonable guidance having gone out. What remains of resources their poor Majesties will waste still further, in uncertain loitering and wavering. Mirabeau himself had to complain that they only gave him half confidence, and always had some plan within his plan. Had they fled frankly with him to Rouen or anywhither, long ago! They may fly now with chance immeasurably lessened; which will go on lessening towards absolute zero. Decide, O Queen; poor Louis can decide nothing: execute this Flight-project, or at least abandon it. Correspondence with Bouillé there has been enough; what profits consulting, and hypothesis, while all around is in fierce activity of practice? The Rustic sits waiting till the river run dry: alas, with you it is not a common river, but a Nile Inundation; snows melting in the unseen mountains; till all, and you where you sit, be submerged.

Many things invite to flight. The voice of Journals invites; Royalist Journals proudly hinting it as a threat, Patriot Journals rabidly denouncing it as a terror. Mother Society, waxing more and more emphatic, invited;—so emphatic that, as was prophesied, Lafayette and your limited Patriots have ere long to branch off from her, and form themselves into Feuillans; with infinite public controversy; the victory in which, doubtful though it look, will remain with the unlimited Mother. Moreover, ever since the Day of Poniards, we have seen unlimited Patriotism openly equipping itself with arms. Citizens denied “activity,” which is facetiously made to signify a certain weight of purse, cannot buy blue uniforms, and be Guardsmen; but man is greater than blue cloth; man can fight, if need be, in multiform cloth, or even almost without cloth,—as Sansculotte. So pikes continue to be hammered, whether those Dirks of improved structure with barbs be “meant for the West-India market,” or not meant. Men beat, the wrong way, their ploughshares into swords. Is there not what we may call an “Austrian Committee,” Comité Autrichien, sitting daily and nightly in the Tuileries? Patriotism, by vision and suspicion, knows it too well! If the King fly, will there not be Aristocrat-Austrian invasion; butchery; replacement of Feudalism; wars more than civil? The hearts of men are saddened and maddened.

Dissident Priests likewise give trouble enough. Expelled from their Parish Churches, where Constitutional Priests, elected by the Public, have replaced them, these unhappy persons resort to Convents of Nuns, or other such receptacles; and there, on Sabbath, collecting assemblages of Anti-Constitutional individuals, who have grown devout all on a sudden,[369] they worship or pretend to worship in their strait-laced contumacious manner; to the scandal of Patriotism. Dissident Priests, passing along with their sacred wafer for the dying, seem wishful to be massacred in the streets; wherein Patriotism will not gratify them. Slighter palm of martyrdom, however, shall not be denied: martyrdom not of massacre, yet of fustigation. At the refractory places of worship, Patriot men appear; Patriot women with strong hazel wands, which they apply. Shut thy eyes, O Reader; see not this misery, peculiar to these later times,—of martyrdom without sincerity, with only cant and contumacy! A dead Catholic Church is not allowed to lie dead; no, it is galvanized into the detestablest death-life; whereat Humanity, we say, shuts its eyes. For the Patriot women take their hazel wands, and fustigate, amid laughter of bystanders, with alacrity: broad bottom of Priests; alas, Nuns too, reversed and cotillons retroussés! The National Guard does what it can: Municipality “invokes the Principles of Toleration”; grants Dissident worshippers the Church of the Théatins, promising protection. But it is to no purpose: at the door of that Théatins Church appears a Placard, and suspended atop, like Plebeian Consular fasces,—a Bundle of Rods! The Principles of Toleration must do the best they may: but no Dissident man shall worship contumaciously; there is a Plebiscitum to that effect; which, though unspoken, is like the laws of the Medes and Persians. Dissident contumacious Priests ought not to be harboured, even in private, by any man: the Club of the Cordeliers openly denounces Majesty himself as doing it.[370]

Many things invite to flight: but probably this thing above all others, that it has become impossible! On the 15th of April, notice is given that his Majesty, who has suffered much from catarrh lately, will enjoy the Spring weather, for a few days, at Saint-Cloud. Out at Saint-Cloud? Wishing to celebrate his Easter, his Pâques or Pasch, there; with refractory Anti-Constitutional Dissidents?—Wishing rather to make off for Compiègne, and thence to the Frontiers? As were, in good sooth, perhaps feasible, or would once have been; nothing but some two chasseurs attending you; chasseurs easily corrupted! It is a pleasant possibility, execute it or not. Men say there are thirty thousand Chevaliers of the Poniard lurking in the woods there: lurking in the woods, and thirty thousand,—for the human Imagination is not fettered. But now, how easily might these, dashing out on Lafayette, snatch off the Hereditary Representative; and roll away with him, after the manner of a whirlblast, whither they listed!—Enough, it were well the King did not go. Lafayette is forewarned and forearmed: but, indeed, is the risk his only; or his and all France’s?

Monday the eighteenth of April is come; the Easter Journey to Saint-Cloud shall take effect. National Guard has got its orders; a First Division, as Advanced Guard, has even marched, and probably arrived. His Majesty’s Maison-bouche, they say, is all busy stewing and frying at Saint-Cloud; the King’s dinner not far from ready there. About one o’clock, the Royal Carriage, with its eight royal blacks, shoots stately into the Place du Carrousel; draws up to receive its royal burden. But hark! from the neighbouring Church of Saint-Roch, the tocsin begins ding-dong-ing. Is the King stolen then; is he going; gone? Multitudes of persons crowd the Carrousel: the Royal Carriage still stands there;—and, by Heaven’s strength, shall stand!

Lafayette comes up, with aides-de-camp and oratory; pervading the groups: “Taisez-vous,” answer the groups, “the King shall not go.” Monsieur appears, at an upper window: ten thousand voices bray and shriek, “Nous ne voulons pas que le Roi parte.” Their Majesties have mounted. Crack go the whips; but twenty Patriot arms have seized each of the eight bridles: there is rearing, rocking, vociferation; not the smallest headway. In vain does Lafayette fret, indignant; and perorate and strive: Patriots in the passion of terror bellow round the Royal Carriage; it is one bellowing sea of Patriot terror run frantic. Will Royalty fly off towards Austria; like a lit rocket, towards endless Conflagration of Civil War? Stop it, ye Patriots, in the name of Heaven! Rude voices passionately apostrophize Royalty itself. Usher Campan, and other the like official persons, pressing forward with help or advice, are clutched by the sashes, and hurled and whirled, in a confused perilous manner; so that her Majesty has to plead passionately from the carriage-window.

Order cannot be heard, cannot be followed; National Guards know not how to act. Centre Grenadiers, of the Observatoire Battalion, are there; not on duty; alas, in quasi-mutiny; speaking rude disobedient words; threatening the mounted Guards with sharp shot if they hurt the people. Lafayette mounts and dismounts; runs haranguing, panting; on the verge of despair. For an hour and three-quarters; “seven quarters of an hour,” by the Tuileries Clock! Desperate Lafayette will open a passage, were it by the cannon’s mouth, if his Majesty will order. Their Majesties, counselled to it by Royalist friends, by Patriot foes, dismount, and retire in, with heavy indignant heart; giving up the enterprise. Maison-bouche may eat that cooked dinner themselves: his Majesty shall not see Saint-Cloud this day,—nor any day.[371]

The pathetic fable of imprisonment in one’s own Palace has become a sad fact, then? Majesty complains to Assembly; Municipality deliberates, proposes to petition or address; Sections respond with sullen brevity of negation. Lafayette flings down his Commission; appears in civic pepper-and-salt frock; and cannot be flattered back again; not in less than three days, and by unheard-of entreaty; National Guards kneeling to him, and declaring that it is not sycophancy, that they are free men kneeling here to the Statue of Liberty. For the rest, those Centre Grenadiers of the Observatoire are disbanded,—yet indeed are reinlisted, all but fourteen, under a new name, and with new quarters. The King must keep his Easter in Paris; meditating much on this singular posture of things; but as good as determined now to fly from it, desire being whetted by difficulty.

Chapter II: Easter at Paris

For above a year, ever since March 1790, it would seem, there has hovered a project of Flight before the royal mind; and ever and anon has been condensing itself into something like a purpose; but this or the other difficulty always vaporized it again. It seems so full of risks, perhaps of civil war itself; above all, it cannot be done without effort. Somnolent laziness will not serve: to fly, if not in a leather vache, one must verily stir himself. Better to adopt that Constitution of theirs; execute it so as to show all men that it is inexecutable? Better or not so good: surely it is easier. To all difficulties you need only say, There is a lion in the path, behold your Constitution will not act! For a somnolent person it requires no effort to counterfeit death,—as Dame de Staël and Friends of Liberty can see the King’s Government long doing, faisant la mort.

Nay now, when desire whetted by difficulty has brought the matter to a head, and the royal mind no longer halts between two, what can come of it? Grant that poor Louis were safe with Bouillé, what, on the whole, could he look for there? Exasperated Tickets of Entry answer: Much, all. But cold Reason answers: Little, almost nothing. Is not loyalty a law of Nature? ask the Tickets of Entry. Is not love of your King, and even death for him, the glory of all Frenchmen,—except these few Democrats? Let Democrat Constitution-builders see what they will do without their Keystone; and France rend its hair, having lost the Hereditary Representative!

Thus will King Louis fly; one sees not reasonably towards what. As a maltreated Boy, shall we say, who, having a Stepmother, rushes sulky into the wide world; and will wring the paternal heart?—Poor Louis escapes from unknown unsupportable evils, to an unknown mixture of good and evil, coloured by Hope. He goes, as Rabelais did when dying, to seek a great May-be: je vais chercher un grand Peutêtre! As not only the sulky Boy but the wise grown Man is obliged to do, so often, in emergencies.

For the rest, there is still no lack of stimulants, and stepdame maltreatments, to keep one’s resolution at the due pitch. Factious disturbances cease not: as indeed how can they, unless authoritatively conjured, in a Revolt which is by nature bottomless? If the ceasing of faction be the price of the King’s somnolence, he may awake when he will, and take wing.

Remark, in any case, what somersets and contortions a dead Catholicism is making,—skilfully galvanized: hideous, and even piteous, to behold! Jurant and Dissident, with their shaved crowns, argue frothing everywhere; or are ceasing to argue, and stripping for battle. In Paris was scourging while need continued: contrariwise, in the Morbihan of Brittany, without scourging, armed Peasants are up, roused by pulpit-drum, they know not why. General Dumouriez, who has got missioned thitherward, finds all in sour heat of darkness; finds also that explanation and conciliation will still do much.[372]

But again, consider this: that his Holiness, Pius Sixth, has seen good to excommunicate Bishop Talleyrand! Surely, we will say then, considering it, there is no living or dead Church in the Earth that has not the indubitablest right to excommunicate Talleyrand. Pope Pius has right and might, in his way. But truly so likewise has Father Adam, ci-devant Marquis Saint-Huruge, in his way. Behold, therefore, on the Fourth of May, in the Palais-Royal, a mixed loud sounding multitude; in the middle of whom, Father Adam, bull-voiced Saint-Huruge, in white hat, towers visible and audible. With him, it is said, walks Journalist Gorsas, walk many others of the washed sort; for no authority will interfere. Pius Sixth, with his plush and tiara, and power of the Keys, they bear aloft: of natural size,—made of lath and combustible gum. Royou, the King’s Friend, is borne too in effigy; with a pile of Newspaper King’s-Friends, condemned Numbers of the Ami-du-Roi; fit fuel of the sacrifice. Speeches are spoken; a judgement is held, a doom proclaimed, audible in bull-voice, towards the four winds. And thus, amid great shouting, the holocaust is consummated, under the summer sky; and our lath-and-gum Holiness, with the attendant victims, mounts up in flame, and sinks down in ashes; a decomposed Pope: and right or might, among all the parties, has better or worse accomplished itself, as it could.[373] But, on the whole, reckoning from Martin Luther in the Market-place of Wittenberg to Marquis Saint-Huruge in this Palais-Royal of Paris, what a journey have we gone; into what strange territories has it carried us! No Authority can now interfere. Nay Religion herself, mourning for such things, may after all ask, What have I to do with them?

In such extraordinary manner does dead Catholicism somerset and caper, skilfully galvanized. For, does the reader inquire into the subject-matter of controversy in this case; what the difference between Orthodoxy or My-doxy and Heterodoxy or Thy-doxy might here be? My-doxy is, that an august National Assembly can equalize the extent of Bishopricks; that an equalized Bishop, his Creed and Formularies being left quite as they were, can swear Fidelity to King, Law and Nation, and so become a Constitutional Bishop. Thy-doxy, if thou be Dissident, is that he cannot; but that he must become an accursed thing. Human ill-nature needs but some Homoiousian iota, or even the pretence of one; and will flow copiously through the eye of a needle: thus always must mortals go jargoning and fuming.

And, like the ancient Stoics in their porches, With fierce dispute maintain their churches.

This Auto-da-fé of Saint-Huruge’s was on the Fourth of May, 1791. Royalty sees it; but says nothing.

Chapter III: Count Fersen

Royalty, in fact, should, by this time, be far on with its preparations. Unhappily much preparation is needful. Could an Hereditary Representative be carried in leather vache, how easy were it! But it is not so.

New Clothes are needed; as usual, in all Epic transactions, were it in the grimmest iron ages; consider “Queen Chrimhilde, with her sixty seamstresses,” in that iron Nibelungen Song! No Queen can stir without new clothes. Therefore, now, Dame Campan whisks assiduous to this mantua-maker and to that: and there is clipping of frocks and gowns, upper clothes and under, great and small; such a clipping and sewing, as might have been dispensed with. Moreover, her Majesty cannot go a step anywhither without her Nécessaire; dear Nécessaire, of inlaid ivory and rosewood; cunningly devised; which holds perfumes, toilette-implements, infinite small queenlike furnitures: necessary to terrestrial life. Not without a cost of some five hundred louis, of much precious time, and difficult hoodwinking which does not blind, can this same Necessary of life be forwarded by the Flanders Carriers,—never to get to hand.[374]All which, you would say, augurs ill for the prospering of the enterprise. But the whims of women and queens must be humoured.

Bouillé, on his side, is making a fortified Camp at Montmédi; gathering Royal-Allemand, and all manner of other German and true French Troops thither, “to watch the Austrians.” His Majesty will not cross the frontiers, unless on compulsion. Neither shall the Emigrants be much employed, hateful as they are to all people.[375]Nor shall old war-god Broglie have any hand in the business; but solely our brave Bouillé; to whom, on the day of meeting, a Marshal’s Baton shall be delivered, by a rescued King, amid the shouting of all the troops. In the meanwhile, Paris being so suspicious, were it not perhaps good to write your Foreign Ambassadors an ostensible Constitutional Letter; desiring all Kings and men to take heed that King Louis loves the Constitution, that he has voluntarily sworn, and does again swear, to maintain the same, and will reckon those his enemies who affect to say otherwise? Such a Constitutional Circular is dispatched by Couriers, is communicated confidentially to the Assembly, and printed in all Newspapers; with the finest effect.[376]Simulation and dissimulation mingle extensively in human affairs.

We observe, however, that Count Fersen is often using his Ticket of Entry; which surely he has clear right to do. A gallant Soldier, and Swede, devoted to this fair Queen;—as indeed the Highest Swede now is. Has not King Gustav, famed fiery Chevalier du Nord, sworn himself, by the old laws of chivalry, her Knight? He will descend on fire-wings, of Swedish musketry, and deliver her from these foul dragons,—if, alas, the assassin’s pistol intervene not!

But, in fact, Count Fersen does seem a likely young soldier, of alert decisive ways: he circulates widely, seen, unseen; and has business on hand. Also Colonel the Duke de Choiseul, nephew of Choiseul the great, of Choiseul the now deceased; he and Engineer Goguelat are passing and repassing between Metz and the Tuileries: and Letters go in cipher,—one of them, a most important one, hard to decipher; Fersen having ciphered it in haste.[377] As for Duke de Villequier, he is gone ever since the Day of Poniards; but his Apartment is useful for her Majesty.

On the other side, poor Commandant Gouvion, watching at the Tuileries, second in National command, sees several things hard to interpret. It is the same Gouvion who sat, long months ago, at the Townhall, gazing helpless into that Insurrection of Women; motionless, as the brave stabled steed when conflagration rises, till Usher Maillard snatched his drum. Sincerer Patriot there is not; but many a shiftier. He, if Dame Campan gossip credibly, is paying some similitude of love-court to a certain false Chambermaid of the Palace, who betrays much to him: the Nécessaire, the clothes, the packing of jewels,[378]—could he understand it when betrayed. Helpless Gouvion gazes with sincere glassy eyes into it; stirs up his sentries to vigilance; walks restless to and fro; and hopes the best.

But, on the whole, one finds that, in the second week of June, Colonel de Choiseul is privately in Paris; having come “to see his children.” Also that Fersen has got a stupendous new Coach built, of the kind named Berline; done by the first artists; according to a model: they bring it home to him, in Choiseul’s presence; the two friends take a proof-drive in it, along the streets; in meditative mood; then send it up to “Madame Sullivan’s, in the Rue de Clichy,” far North, to wait there till wanted. Apparently a certain Russian Baroness de Korff, with Waiting-woman, Valet, and two Children, will travel homewards with some state: in whom these young military gentlemen take interest. A Passport has been procured for her; and much assistance shown, with Coach-builders and such like;—so helpful-polite are young military men. Fersen has likewise purchased a Chaise fit for two, at least for two waiting-maids; further, certain necessary horses: one would say, he is himself quitting France, not without outlay. We observe finally that their Majesties, Heaven willing, will assist at Corpus-Christi Day, this blessed Summer Solstice, in Assumption Church, here at Paris, to the joy of all the world. For which same day, moreover, brave Bouillé at Metz, as we find, has invited a party of friends to dinner; but indeed is gone from home, in the interim, over to Montmédi.

These are of the Phenomena, or visual Appearances, of this wide-working terrestrial world: which truly is all phenomenal, what they call spectral; and never rests at any moment; one never at any moment can know why.

On Monday night, the Twentieth of June, 1791, about eleven o’clock, there is many a hackney-coach, and glass-coach (carrosse de remise ), still rumbling, or at rest, on the streets of Paris. But of all glass-coaches, we recommend this to thee, O Reader, which stands drawn up in the Rue de l’Echelle, hard by the Carrousel and outgate of the Tuileries; in the Rue de l’Echelle that then was; “opposite Ronsin the saddler’s door,” as if waiting for a fare there! Not long does it wait: a hooded Dame, with two hooded Children, has issued from Villequier’s door, where no sentry walks, into the Tuileries Court-of-Princes: into the Carrousel; into the Rue de l’Echelle; where the Glass-coachman readily admits them; and again waits. Not long; another Dame, likewise hooded or shrouded, leaning on a servant, issues in the same manner; bids the servant good night; and is, in the same manner, by the Glass-coachman, cheerfully admitted. Whither go so many Dames? ’Tis his Majesty’s Couchée, Majesty just gone to bed, and all the Palace-world is retiring home. But the Glass-coachman still waits; his fare seemingly incomplete.

By and by, we note a thickset Individual, in round hat and peruke, arm-in-arm with some servant, seemingly of the Runner or Courier sort; he also issues through Villequier’s door; starts a shoebuckle as he passes one of the sentries, stoops down to clasp it again; is however, by the Glass-coachman, still more cheerfully admitted. And now, is his fare complete? Not yet; the Glass-coachman still waits.—Alas! and the false Chambermaid has warned Gouvion that she thinks the Royal Family will fly this very night; and Gouvion distrusting his own glazed eyes, has sent express for Lafayette; and Lafayette’s Carriage, flaring with lights, rolls this moment through the inner Arch of the Carrousel,—where a Lady shaded in broad gipsy-hat, and leaning on the arm of a servant, also of the Runner or Courier sort, stands aside to let it pass, and has even the whim to touch a spoke of it with her badine,—light little magic rod which she calls badine, such as the Beautiful then wore. The flare of Lafayette’s Carriage rolls past: all is found quiet in the Court-of-Princes; sentries at their post; Majesties’ Apartments closed in smooth rest. Your false Chambermaid must have been mistaken? Watch thou, Gouvion, with Argus’ vigilance; for, of a truth, treachery is within these walls.

But where is the Lady that stood aside in gipsy-hat, and touched the wheel-spoke with her badine? O Reader, that Lady that touched the wheel-spoke was the Queen of France! She has issued safe through that inner Arch, into the Carrousel itself; but not into the Rue de l’Echelle. Flurried by the rattle and rencounter, she took the right hand not the left; neither she nor her Courier knows Paris; he indeed is no Courier, but a loyal stupid ci-devant Bodyguard disguised as one. They are off, quite wrong, over the Pont Royal and River; roaming disconsolate in the Rue du Bac; far from the Glass-coachman, who still waits. Waits, with flutter of heart; with thoughts—which he must button close up, under his jarvie-surtout!

Midnight clangs from all the City-steeples, one precious hour has been spent so; most mortals are asleep. The Glass-coachman waits; and in what mood! A brother jarvie drives up, enters into conversation; is answered cheerfully in jarvie-dialect: the brothers of the whip exchange a pinch of snuff;[379]decline drinking together; and part with good night. Be the Heavens blest! here at length is the Queen-lady, in gipsy-hat; safe after perils; who has had to inquire her way. She too is admitted; her Courier jumps aloft, as the other, who is also a disguised Bodyguard, has done: and now, O Glass-coachman of a thousand,— Count Fersen, for the Reader sees it is thou,—drive!

Dust shall not stick to the hoofs of Fersen: crack! crack! the Glass-coach rattles, and every soul breathes lighter. But is Fersen on the right road? North-eastward, to the Barrier of Saint-Martin and Metz Highway, thither were we bound: and lo, he drives right Northward! The royal Individual, in round hat and peruke, sits astonished; but right or wrong, there is no remedy. Crack, crack, we go incessant, through the slumbering City. Seldom, since Paris rose out of mud, or the Longhaired Kings went in Bullock-carts, was there such a drive. Mortals on each hand of you, close by, stretched out horizontal, dormant; and we alive and quaking! Crack, crack, through the Rue de Grammont; across the Boulevard; up the Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin,—these windows, all silent, of Number 42, were Mirabeau’s. Towards the Barrier not of Saint-Martin, but of Clichy on the utmost North! Patience, ye royal Individuals; Fersen understands what he is about. Passing up the Rue de Clichy, he alights for one moment at Madame Sullivan’s: “Did Count Fersen’s Coachman get the Baroness de Korff ’s new Berline?”— “Gone with it an hour-and-half ago,” grumbles responsive the drowsy Porter.—“C’est bien.” Yes, it is well;—though had not such hour-and-half been lost, it were still better. Forth therefore, O Fersen, fast, by the Barrier de Clichy; then Eastward along the Outer Boulevard, what horses and whipcord can do!

Thus Fersen drives, through the ambrosial night. Sleeping Paris is now all on the right-hand of him; silent except for some snoring hum: and now he is Eastward as far as the Barrier de Saint-Martin; looking earnestly for Baroness de Korff ’s Berline. This Heaven’s Berline he at length does descry, drawn up with its six horses, his own German Coachman waiting on the box. Right, thou good German: now haste, whither thou knowest!—And as for us of the Glass-coach, haste too, O haste; much time is already lost! The august Glass-coach fare, six Insides, hastily packs itself into the new Berline; two Bodyguard Couriers behind. The Glass-coach itself is turned adrift, its head towards the City; to wander whither it lists,—and be found next morning tumbled in a ditch. But Fersen is on the new box, with its brave new hammer-cloths; flourishing his whip; he bolts forward towards Bondy. There a third and final Bodyguard Courier of ours ought surely to be, with post-horses ready-ordered. There likewise ought that purchased Chaise, with the two Waiting-maids and their band-boxes, to be; whom also her Majesty could not travel without. Swift, thou deft Fersen, and may the Heavens turn it well!

Once more, by Heaven’s blessing, it is all well. Here is the sleeping Hamlet of Bondy; Chaise with Waiting-women; horses all ready, and postilions with their churn-boots, impatient in the dewy dawn. Brief harnessing done, the postilions with their churn-boots vault into the saddles; brandish circularly their little noisy whips. Fersen, under his jarvie-surtout, bends in lowly silent reverence of adieu; royal hands wave speechless in expressible response; Baroness de Korff ’s Berline, with the Royalty of France, bounds off: for ever, as it proved. Deft Fersen dashes obliquely Northward, through the country, towards Bougret; gains Bougret, finds his German Coachman and chariot waiting there; cracks off, and drives undiscovered into unknown space. A deft active man, we say; what he undertook to do is nimbly and successfully done.

And so the Royalty of France is actually fled? This precious night, the shortest of the year, it flies, and drives! Baroness de Kor f is, at bottom, Dame de Tourzel, Governess of the Royal Children: she who came hooded with the two hooded little ones; little Dauphin; little Madame Royale, known long afterwards as Duchesse d’Angoulême. Baroness de Korff ’s Waiting-maid is the Queen in gipsy-hat. The royal Individual in round hat and peruke, he is Valet for the time being. That other hooded Dame, styled Travelling-companion, is kind Sister Elizabeth; she had sworn, long since, when the Insurrection of Women was, that only death should part her and them. And so they rush there, not too impetuously, through the Wood of Bondy:—over a Rubicon in their own and France’s History.

Great; though the future is all vague! If we reach Bouillé? If we do not reach him? O Louis! and this all round thee is the great slumbering Earth (and overhead, the great watchful Heaven); the slumbering Wood of Bondy,—where Longhaired Childeric Do-nothing was struck through with iron;[380] not unreasonably, in a world like ours. These peaked stone-towers are Raincy; towers of wicked D’Orléans. All slumbers save the multiplex rustle of our new Berline. Loose-skirted scarecrow of an Herb-merchant, with his ass and early greens, toilsomely plodding, seems the only creature we meet. But right ahead the great North-east sends up evermore his grey brindled dawn: from dewy branch, birds here and there, with short deep warble, salute the coming Sun. Stars fade out, and Galaxies; Street-lamps of the City of God. The Universe, O my brothers, is flinging wide its portals for the Levée of the GREAT HIGH KING. Thou, poor King Louis, farest nevertheless, as mortals do, towards Orient lands of Hope; and the Tuileries with its Levées, and France and the Earth itself, is but a larger kind of doghutch,—occasionally going rabid.

Chapter IV: Attitude

But in Paris, at six in the morning; when some Patriot Deputy, warned by a billet, awoke Lafayette, and they went to the Tuileries?—Imagination may paint, but words cannot, the surprise of Lafayette; or with what bewilderment helpless Gouvion rolled glassy Argus’ eyes, discerning now that his false Chambermaid had told true!

However, it is to be recorded that Paris, thanks to an august National Assembly, did, on this seeming doomsday, surpass itself. Never, according to Historian eye-witnesses, was there seen such an “imposing attitude.”[381]Sections all “in permanence”; our Townhall too, having first, about ten o’clock, fired three solemn alarm-cannons: above all, our National Assembly! National Assembly, likewise permanent, decides what is needful; with unanimous consent, for the Côté Droit sits dumb, afraid of the Lanterne. Decides with a calm promptitude, which rises towards the sublime. One must needs vote, for the thing is self-evident, that his Majesty has been abducted, or spirited away, “enlevé,” by some person or persons unknown: in which case, what will the Constitution have us do? Let us return to first principles, as we always say: “revenons aux principes.”

By first or by second principles, much is promptly decided: Ministers are sent for, instructed how to continue their functions; Lafayette is examined; and Gouvion, who gives a most helpless account, the best he can. Letters are found written: one Letter, of immense magnitude; all in his Majesty’s hand, and evidently of his Majesty’s own composition; addressed to the National Assembly. It details, with earnestness, with a childlike simplicity, what woes his Majesty has suffered. Woes great and small: A Necker seen applauded, a Majesty not; then insurrection; want of due furniture in Tuileries Palace; want of due cash in Civil List; general want of cash, of furniture and order; anarchy everywhere: Deficit never yet, in the smallest, “choked or comblé.”—wherefore, in brief, his Majesty has retired towards a place of Liberty; and, leaving Sanctions, Federation, and what Oaths there may be, to shift for themselves, does now refer—to what, thinks an august Assembly? To that “Declaration of the Twenty-third of June,” with its “Seul il fera, He alone will make his People happy.” As if that were not buried, deep enough, under two irrevocable Twelve-months, and the wreck and rubbish of a whole Feudal World! This strange autograph Letter the National Assembly decides on printing; on transmitting to the Eighty-three Departments, with exegetic commentary, short but pithy. Commissioners also shall go forth on all sides; the People be exhorted; the Armies be increased; care taken that the Commonweal suffer no damage.—And now, with a sublime air of calmness, nay of indifference, we “pass to the order of the day!”

By such sublime calmness, the terror of the People is calmed. These gleaming Pike-forests, which bristled fateful in the early sun, disappear again; the far-sounding Street-orators cease, or spout milder. We are to have a civil war; let us have it then. The King is gone; but National Assembly, but France and we remain. The People also takes a great attitude; the People also is calm; motionless as a couchant lion. With but a few broolings, some waggings of the tail; to show what it will do! Cazalès, for instance, was beset by street-groups, and cries of Lanterne; but National Patrols easily delivered him. Likewise all King’s effigies and statues, at least stucco ones, get abolished. Even King’s names; the word Roi fades suddenly out of all shop-signs; the Royal Bengal Tiger itself, on the Boulevards, becomes the National Bengal one, Tigre National.[382]

How great is a calm couchant People! On the morrow, men will say to one another: “We have no King, yet we slept sound enough.” On the morrow, fervent Achille de Châtelet, and Thomas Paine, the rebellious Needleman, shall have the walls of Paris profusely plastered with their Placard; announcing that there must be a Republic.[383]—Need we add, that Lafayette too, though at first menaced by Pikes, has taken a great attitude, or indeed the greatest of all? Scouts and Aides-de-camp fly forth, vague, in quest and pursuit; young Romœuf towards Valenciennes, though with small hope.

Thus Paris; sublimely calmed, in its bereavement. But from the Messageries Royales, in all Mail-bags, radiates forth far-darting the electric news: Our Hereditary Representative is flown. Laugh, black Royalists: yet be it in your sleeve only; lest Patriotism notice, and waxing frantic, lower the Lanterne! In Paris alone is a sublime National Assembly with its calmness; truly, other places must take it as they can: with open mouth and eyes; with panic cackling, with wrath, with conjecture. How each one of those dull leathern Diligences, with its leathern bag and “The King is fled,” furrows up smooth France as it goes; through town and hamlet, ruffles the smooth public mind into quivering agitation of death-terror; then lumbers on, as if nothing had happened! Along all highways; towards the utmost borders; till all France is ruffled,—roughened up (metaphorically speaking) into one enormous, desperate-minded, red guggling Turkey Cock!

For example, it is under cloud of night that the leathern Monster reaches Nantes; deep sunk in sleep. The word spoken rouses all Patriot men: General Dumouriez, enveloped in roquelaures, has to descend from his bedroom; finds the street covered with “four or five thousand citizens in their shirts.”[384]Here and there a faint farthing rushlight, hastily kindled; and so many swart-featured haggard faces with nightcaps pushed back; and the more or less flowing drapery of nightshirt: open mouthed till the General say his word! And overhead, as always, the Great Bear is turning so quiet round Boötes; steady, indifferent as the leathern Diligence itself. Take comfort, ye men of Nantes; Boötes and the steady Bear are turning; ancient Atlantic still sends his brine, loud-billowing, up your Loire-stream; brandy shall be hot in the stomach: this is not the Last of the Days, but one before the Last.—The fools! If they knew what was doing, in these very instants, also by candlelight, in the far Northeast!

Perhaps, we may say, the most terrified man in Paris or France is— who thinks the Reader?—sea-green Robespierre. Double paleness, with the shadow of gibbets and halters, overcasts the seagreen features: it is too clear to him that there is to be “a Saint-Bartholomew of Patriots,” that in four-and-twenty hours he will not be in life. These horrid anticipations of the soul he is heard uttering at Pétion’s: by a notable witness. By Madame Roland, namely: her whom we saw, last year, radiant at the Lyons Federation. These four months, the Rolands have been in Paris; arranging with Assembly Committees the Municipal affairs of Lyons, affairs all sunk in debt;—communing, the while, as was most natural, with the best Patriots to be found here, with our Brissots, Pétions, Buzots, Robespierres: who were wont to come to us, says the fair Hostess, four evenings in the week. They, running about, busier than ever this day, would fain have comforted the sea-green man; spake of Achille de Châtelet’s Placard; of a Journal to be called The Republican; of preparing men’s minds for a Republic. “A Republic?” said the Seagreen, with one of his dry husky unsportful laughs, “What is that?”[385]O seagreen Incorruptible, thou shalt see!

Chapter V: The New Berline

But scouts, all this while, and aides-de-camp, have flown forth faster than the leathern Diligences. Young Romœuf, as we said, was off early towards Valenciennes: distracted Villagers seize him, as a traitor with a finger of his own in the plot; drag him back to the Townhall; to the National Assembly, which speedily grants a new passport. Nay now, that same scarecrow of an Herb-merchant with his ass has bethought him of the grand new Berline seen in the Wood of Bondy; and delivered evidence of it:[386] Romœuf, furnished with new passport, is sent forth with double speed on a hopefuller track; by Bondy, Claye and Chalons, towards Metz, to track the new Berline; and gallops à franc étrier.

Miserable new Berline! Why could not Royalty go in some old Berline similar to that of other men? Flying for life, one does not stickle about his vehicle. Monsieur, in a commonplace travelling-carriage is off Northwards; Madame, his Princess, in another, with variation of route: they cross one another while changing horses, without look of recognition; and reach Flanders, no man questioning them. Precisely in the same manner, beautiful Princess de Lamballe set off, about the same hour; and will reach England safe:—would she had continued there! The beautiful, the good, but the unfortunate; reserved for a frightful end!

All runs along, unmolested, speedy, except only the new Berline. Huge leathern vehicle:—huge Argosy, let us say, or Acapulco-ship; with its heavy stern-boat of Chaise-and-pair; with its three yellow Pilot-boats of Mounted Bodyguard Couriers, rocking aimless round it and ahead of it, to bewilder, not to guide! It lumbers along, lurchingly with stress, at a snail’s pace; noted of all the world. The Bodyguard Couriers, in their yellow liveries, go prancing and clattering; loyal but stupid; unacquainted with all things. Stoppages occur; and breakages, to be repaired at Etoges. King Louis too will dismount, will walk up hills, and enjoy the blessed sunshine:—with eleven horses and double drink-money, and all furtherances of Nature and Art, it will be found that Royalty, flying for life, accomplishes Sixty-nine miles in Twenty-two incessant hours. Slow Royalty! And yet not a minute of these hours but is precious: on minutes hang the destinies of Royalty now.

Readers, therefore, can judge in what humour Duke de Choiseul might stand waiting, in the village of Pont-de-Sommevelle, some leagues beyond Chalons, hour after hour, now when the day bends visibly westward. Choiseul drove out of Paris, in all privity, ten hours before their Majesties’ fixed time; his Hussars, led by Engineer Goguelat, are here duly, come “to escort a Treasure that is expected”; but, hour after hour, is no Baroness de Korff ’s Berline. Indeed, over all that North-east Region, on the skirts of Champagne and of Lorraine, where the great Road runs, the agitation is considerable. For all along, from this Pont-de-Sommevelle North-eastward as far as Montmédi, at Post-villages and Towns, escorts of Hussars and Dragoons do lounge waiting; a train or chain of Military Escorts; at the Montmédi end of it our brave Bouillé: an electric thunder-chain; which the invisible Bouillé, like a Father Jove, holds in his hand—for wise purposes! Brave Bouillé has done what man could; has spread out his electric thunder-chain of Military Escorts, onwards to the threshold of Chalons: it waits but for the new Korff Berline; to receive it, escort it, and, if need be, bear it off in whirlwind of military fire. They lie and lounge there, we say, these fierce Troopers; from Montmédi and Stenai, through Clermont, Sainte-Menehould to utmost Pont-de-Sommevelle, in all Post-villages; for the route shall avoid Verdun and great Towns: they loiter impatient, “till the Treasure arrive.”

Judge what a day this is for brave Bouillé: perhaps the first day of a new glorious life; surely the last day of the old! Also, and indeed still more, what a day, beautiful and terrible, for your young full-blooded Captains: your Dandoins, Comte de Damas, Duke de Choiseul, Engineer Goguelat, and the like; entrusted with the secret!—Alas, the day bends ever more westward; and no Korff Berline comes to sight. It is four hours beyond the time, and still no Berline. In all Village-streets, Royalist Captains go lounging, looking often Paris-ward; with face of unconcern, with heart full of black care: rigorous Quartermasters can hardly keep the private dragoons from cafés and dramshops.[387]Dawn on our bewilderment, thou new Berline; dawn on us, thou Sun-Chariot of a new Berline, with the destinies of France!

It was of his Majesty’s ordering, this military array of Escorts: a thing solacing the Royal imagination with a look of security and rescue; yet, in reality, creating only alarm, and, where there was otherwise no danger, danger without end. For each Patriot, in these Post-villages, asks naturally: This clatter of cavalry, and marching and lounging of troops, what means it? To escort a Treasure? Why escort, when no Patriot will steal from the Nation; or where is your Treasure?—There has been such marching and counter-marching: for it is another fatality, that certain of these Military Escorts came out so early as yesterday; the Nineteenth not the Twentieth of the month being the day first appointed; which her Majesty, for some necessity or other, saw good to alter. And now consider the suspicious nature of Patriotism; suspicious, above all, of Bouillé the Aristocrat; and how the sour doubting humour has had leave to accumulate and exacerbate for four-and-twenty hours!

At Pont-de-Sommevelle, these Forty foreign Hussars of Goguelat and Duke Choiseul are becoming an unspeakable mystery to all men. They lounged long enough, already, at Sainte-Menehould; lounged and loitered till our National Volunteers there, all risen into hot wrath of doubt, “demanded three hundred fusils of their Townhall,” and got them. At which same moment too, as it chanced, our Captain Dandoins was just coming in, from Clermont with his troop, at the other end of the Village. A fresh troop; alarming enough; though happily they are only Dragoons and French! So that Goguelat with his Hussars had to ride, and even to do it fast; till here at Pont-de-Sommevelle, where Choiseul lay waiting, he found resting-place. Resting-place as on burning marle. For the rumour of him flies abroad; and men run to and fro in fright and anger: Chalons sends forth exploratory pickets of National Volunteers towards this hand; which meet exploratory pickets, coming from Sainte-Menehould, on that. What is it, ye whiskered Hussars, men of foreign guttural speech; in the name of Heaven, what is it that brings you? A Treasure?—exploratory pickets shake their heads. The hungry Peasants, however, know too well what Treasure it is; Military seizure for rents, feudalities; which no Bailiff could make us pay! This they know;—and set to jingling their Parish-bell by way of tocsin; with rapid effect! Choiseul and Goguelat, if the whole country is not to take fire, must needs, be there Berline, be there no Berline, saddle and ride.

They mount; and this parish tocsin happily ceases. They ride slowly Eastw