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him on the 9th of March, whereupon the assembly testified its confidence in Narbonne. De Lessart having incurred its anger by the tameness of his replies to Austrian dictation, the Assembly voted his impeachment. The king, seeing no other course open, formed a new ministry which was chiefly Girondin. Roland became minister of the were interior, Clavière of finance, De Grave of war, and declared Lacoste of marine. Far abler and more resolute than against any of these men was Dumouriez, the new minister for foreign affairs. A soldier by profession, he had been employed in the secret diplomacy of Louis XV. and had thus gained a wide knowledge of international politics. He stood aloof from parties and had no rigid principles, but held views closely resembling those of Narbonne. He wished for a war with Austria which should restore some influence to the crown and make himself the arbiter of France. The king bent to necessity, and on the 20th of April came to the Assembly with the proposal that war should be declared against Austria. It was carried by acclamation. Dumouriez intended to begin with an invasion of the Austrian Netherlands. As this would awaken English jealousy, he sent Talleyrand to London with assurances that, if victorious, the French would annex no territory. It was designed that the French should invade the Netherlands at three points simultaneously. Lafayette was to march against Namur, Biron against Mons, and Dillon against Tournay. But the first movement disclosed the miserable state of the army. Smitten with panic, Dillon's force fled at sight of the enemy, and Dillon, after receiving a wound from one of his own soldiers, was murdered by the mob of Lille. Biron was easily routed before Mons. On hearing of these disasters Lafayette found it necessary to retreat. This shameful discomfiture quickened all the suspicion and jealousy fermenting in France. De Grave had to resign and was succeeded by Servan. The Austrian forces in the Netherlands were, however, so weak that they could not take the offensive. Austria demanded help from Prussia under the recent alliance, and the claim was admitted. Prussia declared war against France, and the duke of Brunswick was chosen to command the allied forces, but various causes delayed action. Austrian and Prussian interests clashed in Poland. The Austrian government wished to preserve a harmless neighbour. The Prussian government desired another partition and a large tract of Polish territory. Only after long discussion was it agreed that Prussia should be free to act in Poland, while Austria might find compensation in provinces conquered from France. A respite was thus given and something was done to improve the army. Meantime the Assembly passed three decrees: one for the deportation of nonjuring priests, another to suppress the king's Constitutional Guard, and a third for the establishment of a camp of fédérés near Paris. Louis consented to sacrifice his guard, but vetoed the other decrees. Roland having addressed to him an arrogant letter of remonstrance, the king with the support of Dumouriez dismissed Roland, Servan and Clavière. Dumouriez then took the ministry of war, and the other places were filled with such men as could be had. Dumouriez, who cared only for the successful prosecution of the war, urged the king to accept the decrees. As Louis was obstinate, he felt that he could do no more, resigned office on the 15th of June and Ameute of went to join the army of the north. Lafayette, who
the 20th remained faithful to the constitution of 1791, ventured ##" on a letter of remonstrance to the Assembly. It paid
no attention, for Lafayette could no longer sway the people. The Jacobins tried to frighten the king into accepting the decrees and recalling his ministers. On the 20th of June the armed populace invaded the hall of the Assembly and the royal apartments in the Tuileries. For some hours the king and queen were in the utmost peril. With passive courage Louis refrained from making any promise to the insurgents. The failure of the insurrection encouraged a movement in favour of the king. Some twenty thousand Parisians signed a petition expressing sympathy with Louis. Addresses of like tenour poured in from the departments and the provincial cities. Lafayette himself came to Paris in the hope of rallying the
constitutional party, but the king and queen eluded his offers of assistance. They had always disliked and distrusted Lafayette and the Feuillants, and preferred to rest their hopes of deliverance on the foreigner. Lafayette returned to his troops without having effected anything. The Girondins made a last advance to Louis, offering to save the monarchy if he would accept them as ministers. His refusal united all the Jacobins in the project of overturning the monarchy by force. The ruling spirit of this new revolution was Danton, a barrister only thirty-two years of age, who had not sat in either Assembly, although he had been the leader of the Cordeliers, an advanced republican club, and had a strong hold on the common people of Paris. Danton and his friends were assisted in their work by the fear of invasion, for the allied army was at length mustering on the frontier. The Assembly declared the country in danger. All the regular troops in or near Paris were sent to the front. Volunteers and fédérés were constantly arriving in Paris, and, although most went on to join the army, the Jacobins enlisted those who were suitable for their purpose, especially some 5oo whom Barbaroux, a Girondin, had summoned from Marseilles. At the same time the National Guard was opened to the lowest class. Brunswick’s famous declaration of the 25th of July, announcing that the allies would enter France to restore the royal authority and would visit the Assembly and the city of Paris with military execution if any further outrage were offered to the king, heated the republican spirit to fury. It was resolved to strike the decisive blow on the Ioth of August. On the night of the 9th a new revolutionary Commune took possession of the hôtel de ville, and early on the morning of the Ioth the insurgents assailed the Tuileries. As the preparations of the Jacobins had been notorious, some £r measures of defence had been taken. Beside a few A*. gentlemen in arms and a number of National Guards the palace was garrisoned by the Swiss Guard, about 950 strong. The disparity of force was not so great as to make resistance altogether hopeless. But Louis let himself be persuaded into betraying his own cause and retiring with his family under the shelter of the Assembly. The National Guards either dispersed or fraternized with the assailants. The Swiss Guard stood firm, and, possibly by accident, a fusillade began. The enemy were gaining ground when the Swiss received an order from the king to cease firing and withdraw. They were mostly shot down as they were retiring, and of those who surrendered many were murdered in cold blood next day. The king and queen spent long hours in a reporter's box while the Assembly discussed their fate and the fate of the French monarchy. Little more than a third of the deputies were present and they were almost all Jacobins. They decreed that Louis should be suspended from his office and that a convention should be summoned to give France a new constitution. An executive council was formed by recalling Roland, Clavière and Servan to office and joining with them Danton as minister of justice, Lebrun as minister of foreign affairs, and Monge as minister of marine. When Lafayette heard of the insurrection in Paris he tried to rally his troops in defence of the constitution, but they refused to follow him. He was driven to cross the frontier Thereveand surrender himself to the Austrians. Dumouriez lationary was named his successor. But the new government was commune still beset with danger. It had no root in law and little * hold on public opinion. It could not lean on the Assembly, a mere shrunken remnant, whose days were numbered. It remained dependent on the power which had set it up, the revolutionary Commune of Paris. The Commune could therefore extort what concessions it pleased. It got the custody of the king and his family who were imprisoned in the Temple. Having obtained an indefinite power of arrest, it soon filled the prisons of Paris, As the elections to the Convention were close at hand, the Commune resolved to strike the public with terror by the slaughter of its prisoners. It found its opportunity in the progress of invasion. On the 19th Brunswick crossed the frontier. On the 22nd Longwy surrendered. Verdun was invested and seemed likely to fall. On the 1st of September the Commune decreed
that on the following day the tocsin should be rung, all ablebodied citizens convened in the Champs de Mars, and 6c,ooo volunteers enrolled for the defence of the country. * While this assembly was in progress gangs of assassins fernber - £cres were sent to the prisons and began a butchery which lasted four days and consumed 1400 victims. The Commune addressed a circular letter to the other cities of France inviting them to follow the example. A number of state prisoners awaiting trial at Orleans were ordered to Paris and on the way were murdered at Versailles. The Assembly offered a feeble resistance to these crimes. Danton can hardly be acquitted of connivance at them. Roland hinted disapproval, but did not venture more. He with many other Girondins had been marked for slaughter in the original project. The elections to the Convention were by almost universal suffrage, but indifference or intimidation reduced the voters to a The small number. Many who had sat in the National, Mational and many more who had sat in the Legislative Conven" Assembly were returned. The Convention met on the 20th of September. Like the previous assemblies, it did not fall into well-defined parties. The success of the Jacobins in overthrowing the monarchy had ended their union. Thenceforwards the name of Jacobin was confined to the smaller and more fanatical group, while the rest came to be known as the Girondins. The Jacobins, about 1oostrong, formed the Left of the Convention, afterwards known from the raised benches on which they sat as the Mountain (q.v.). The Girondins, numbering perhaps 180, formed the Right. The rest of the House, nearly 5oo members, voted now on one side now on the other, until in the course of the Terror they fell under the Jacobin domination. This neutral mass is often termed the Plain, in allusion to its seats on the floor of the House. The Convention as a whole was Republican, if not on principle, from the feeling that no other form of government could be established. It decreed #" the abolition of monarchy on the 21st of September. *onarchy. A committee was named to draft a new constitution, which was presented and decreed in the following June, but never took effect and was superseded by a third constitution in 1795. The actual government of France was by committees of the Convention, but some months passed before it could be fully organized. - - The inner history of the Convention was strange and terrible. It turned on the successive schisms in the ruling minority. Whichever side prevailed destroyed its adversaries :* only to divide afresh and renew the strife until the dirondins, victors were at length so reduced that their yoke was shaken off and the mass of the Convention, hitherto benumbed by fear, resumed its freedom and the government of France. The first and most memorable of these contests was the quarrel between Jacobin and Girondin. Both parties were republican and democratic; both wished to complete the Revolution; both were determined to maintain the integrity of France. But they differed in circumstances and temperament. Although the leaders on both sides were of the middle class, the Girondins represented the bourgeoisie, the Jacobins represented the populace. The Girondins desired a speedy return to law and order; the Jacobins thought that they could keep power only by violence. The Jacobins leant on the revolutionary commune and the mob of Paris; the Girondins leant on the thriving burghers of the provincial cities. Despite their smaller number the Jacobins were victors. They were the more resolute and unscrupulous. The Girondins numbered many orators, but not one man of action. The Jacobins controlled the parent club with its affiliated societies and the whole machinery of terror. The Girondins had no organized force at their disposal. The Jacobins perpetuated in a new form the old centralization of power to which France was accustomed. The Girondins addressed themselves to provincials who had lost the power of initiative. They were termed federalists by their enemies and accused, unjustly enough, of wishing to dissolve the national unity. Even in the first days of the Convention the feud broke out. The Girondins condemned the September massacres and dreaded
the Parisian populace. Barbaroux accused Robespierre of aiming at a dictatorship, and Buzot demanded a guard recruited in the departments to protect the Convention. In October Louvet reiterated the charge against Robespierre, and Barbaroux called for the dissolution of the Commune of Paris. But the Girondins gained no tangible result from this wordy warfare. For a time the question how to dispose of the king diverted the thoughts of all parties. It was approached in a political, not in a judicial spirit. The Jacobins desired the death of Louis, partly because they hated kings and deemed him a traitor, partly because they wished to envenom the Revolution, defy Europe and compromise their more temperate colleagues. The Girondins wished to spare Louis, but were afraid of incurring the reproach of royalism. At this critical moment the discovery of the famous iron chest, containing papers which showed that many public men had intrigued with the court, was disastrous for Louis. Members of the Convention were anxious to be thought severelest they should be thought corrupt. Robespierre frankly demanded that Louis as a public enemy should be put to death without form of trial. The majority shrank from such open injustice and decreed on the 3rd of December that Louis should be tried by the Convention.
A committee of twenty-one was chosen to frame the indictment against Louis, and on the 11th of December he was brought to the bar for the first time to hear the charges read.
- - - Trial and The most essential might be summed up in the state- execution ment that he had plotted against the Constitution and :*
against the safety of the kingdom. On the 26th Louis appeared at the bar a second time, and the trial began. The advocates of Louis could plead that all his actions down to the dissolution of the National Assembly came within the amnesty then granted, and that the Constitution had proclaimed his person inviolable, while enacting for certain offences the penalty of deposition which he had already undergone. Such arguments were not likely to weigh with such a tribunal. The Mountain called for immediate sentence of death; the Girondins desired an appeal to the people of France. The galleries of the Convention were packed with adherents of the Jacobins, whose fury, not confined to words, struck terror into all who might incline towards mercy. In Paris unmistakable signs announced a new insurrection, to be followed perhaps by new massacres. On the question whether Louis was guilty none ventured to give a negative vote. The motion for an appeal to the people was rejected by 424 votes to 283. The penalty of death was adopted by 361 votes against 360 in favour of other penalties or of postponing at least the execution of the sentence. On the 21st of January 1793 Louis was beheaded in the Place de la Révolution, now the Place de la Concorde. Between the deposition and the death of Louis the war had run a surprising course. Accompanied by King Frederick William, Brunswick had entered France with 8o,ooo
men, of whom more than half were Prussians, the : best soldiers in Europe. The disorder of France was such that many expected a triumphal march to Paris. But the
Allies had opened the campaign late; they moved slowly; the weather broke, and sickness began to waste their ranks. Dumouriez succeeded in rousing the spirit of the French; he occupied the defiles of the forest of Argonne, thus causing the enemy to lose many valuable days, and when at last they turned his position, he retreated without loss. At Valmy on the 20th of September the two armies came in contact. The affair was only a cannonade, but the French stood firm and the advance of the Allies was stayed. Brunswick had no heart for his work; the king was ill satisfied with the Austrians, and both were alarmed by the ravages of disease among the soldiers. Within ten days after the affair of Valmy they began their retreat. Dumouriez, who still hoped to detach Prussia from Austria, left them unmolested. When the enemy had quitted France, he invaded Hainaut and defeated the Austrians at Jemappes on the 6th of November. In Belgium a large party regarded the French as deliverers. Dumouriez entered Brussels without further resistance, and was soon master of the whole country. Elsewhere the French were equally successful. With a slight force Custine assailed the electorate of Mainz. The common people were friendly, and he had no trouble in occupying the country as far as the Rhine. The king of Sardinia having shown a hostile temper, Montesquiou made an easy conquest of Savoy. At the close of 1792 the relative position of France and her enemies had been reversed. It was seen that the French were still able to wage war, and that the revolutionary spirit had permeated the adjoining countries, while the old governments of Europe, jealous of one another and uncertain of the loyalty of their subjects, were ill qualified for resistance. Intoxicated with these victories, the Convention abandoned itself to the fervour of propaganda and conquest. The river Scheldt had been closed to commerce by various treaties to which England and Holland, neutral powers, were parties. Without a pretence of negotiation the French government declared on the 16th of November that the Scheldt was thenceforwards open. On the 19th a decree of the Convention offered the aid of France to all nations which were striving after freedom-in other words, to the malcontents in every neighbouring state. Not long afterwards the Convention annexed Savoy, with the consent, it should be added, of many Savoyards. On the 15th of December the Convention decreed that all peoples freed by its assistance should carry out a revolution like that which had been made in France on pain of being treated as enemies. Towards Great Britain the executive council and the Convention behaved with singular folly. There, in spite of a growing antipathy to the Revolution, Pitt earnestly desired to maintain peace. The conquest of the Netherlands and the symptoms of a wish to annex that country made his task most difficult. But the French The most government underrated the strength of Great Britain, imagining that all Englishmen who desired parlia
coalition *gainst mentary reform desired revolution, and that a few * democratic societies represented the nation. When
Monge announced the intention of attacking Great Britain on behalf of the English republicans, the British government and nation were thoroughly alarmed and roused; and when the news of the execution of Louis XVI. was received, Chauvelin, the French envoy, was ordered to quit England. France declared war against England and Holland on the 1st of February and soon afterwards against Spain. In the course of the year 1793 the Empire, the kings of Portugal and Naples and the grandduke of Tuscany declared war against France. Thus was formed the first coalition.
France was not prepared to encounter so many enemies. Administrative confusion had been heightened by the triumph of the Jacobins. Servan was succeeded as minister of war by Pache who was incapable and dishonest. The army of Dumouriez was left in such want that it dwindled rapidly. The commissioners of the Convention plundered the Netherlands with so little remorse that the people became bitterly hostile. The attempt to enforce a revolution of the French sort on the Catholic and conservative Belgians drove them to fury. By every unfair means the commissioners extorted the semblance of a popular vote in favour of incorporation, and France annexed the Netherlands. This was the last outrage. When a new Austrian army under the prince of Coburg entered the country, Dumouriez, who had invaded Holland, was unable to defend Belgium. On the 18th of March he was defeated at Neerwinden, and a few days later he was driven back to the frontier. Alike on public and personal grounds Dumouriez was the enemy of the government. Trusting in his influence over the army he resolved to lead it against the Convention, and, in order to secure his rear, he negotiated with the enemy. But he could make no impression on his soldiers, and deserted to the Austrians. Events followed a similar course in the Rhine valley. There also the French wore out the goodwill at first shown to them. They summoned a convention and obtained a vote for incorporation with France. But they were unable to hold their ground on the approach of a Prussian army. By April they had lost the country with the exception of Mainz, which was invested. France thus lay open to invasion from the east and the north. The Convention decreed a levy of 3oo,ooo Úlen.
About the same time began the first formidable. uprising against the Revolution, the War of La Vendée, the region lying to the south of the lower Loire and facing the Atlantic. Its inhabitants differed in many ways from the mass of the nation. Living far from large towns and busy routes of commerce, they remained primitive in all their thoughts and ways, The peasants had always been on friendly terms with the gentry, and the agrarian changes made by the Revolution had not been appreciated so highly as elsewhere. The people were ardent Catholics, who venerated the nonjuring clergy and resented the measures taken against them. But they remained passive until the enforcement of the decree for the levy of 300,ooo men. Caring little for the Convention and knowing nothing of events on the northern or eastern frontier, the peasants were determined not to serve and preferred to fight the Republic at home. When once they had taken up arms they found gentlemen to lead and priests to exhort, and their rebellion became Royalist and Catholic. The chiefs were drawn from widely different classes. If Bonchamps and La Rochejacquelin were nobles, Stofflet was a gamekeeper and Cathelineau a mason. As the country was favourable to guerilla warfare, and the government could not spare regular troops from the frontiers, the rebels were usually successful, and by the end of May had almost expelled the Republicans from La Vendée.
Danger without and within prompted the Convention to strengthen the executive authority. That the executive and legislative powers ought to be absolutely separate The had been an axiom throughout the Revolution. committee Ministers had always been excluded from a seat in the of " legislature. But the Assemblies were suspicious of the executive and bent on absorbing the government. They had nominated committees of their own members to control every branch of public affairs. These committees, while reducing the ministers to impotence, were themselves clumsy and ineffectual. It may be said that since the first meeting of the states-general the executive authority had been paralysed in France. The Convention in theory maintained the separation of powers. Even Danton had been forced to resign office when he was elected a member. But unity of government was restored by the formation of a central committee. In January the first Committee of General Defence was formed of members of the committees for the several departments of state. Too large and too much divided for strenuous labour, it was reduced in April to nine members and re-named the Committee of Public Safety. It deliberated in secret and had authority over the ministers; it was entrusted with the whole of the national defence and empowered to use all the resources of the state, and it quickly became the supreme power in the republic. Under it the ministers were no more than head clerks. About the same time were instituted the deputies on mission in the provinces, who could overrule any local authority, and who corresponded regularly with the Committee. France thus returned under new forms to its traditional government: a despotic authority in Paris with all-powerful agents in the provinces. Against disaffection the government was armed with formidable weapons: the Committee of General Security and the Revolutionary Tribunal. The Committee of General Security, first established in October 1792, was several times remodelled. In September 1793 the Convention decreed that its members should be nominated by the Committee of Public Safety. The Committee of General Security had unlimited powers for the prevention or discovery of crime against, the state. The Revolutionary Tribunal was decreed on the 10th of March. It was an extraordinary court, destined to try all offences against the Revolution without appeal. The jury, which received wages, voted openly, so that condemnation was almost certain. The director of the jury or public prosecutor was Fouquier Tinville. The first condemnation took place on the 11th of April.
Enmity between Girondin and Jacobin grew fiercer as the perils of the Republic increased. Danton strove to unite all partisans of the Revolution in defence of the country; but the Girondins, detesting his character and fearing his ambition,
rejected all advances. The Commune of Paris and the journalists who were its mouthpieces, Hébert and Marat, aimed frankly at destroying the Girondins. In April the Girondins carried a decree that Marat should be sent before the Revolutionary Tribunal for incendiary writings, but his acquittal showed that a Jacobin leader was above the law. In May they proposed that the Commune of Paris should be dissolved, and that the suppléants, the persons elected to fill vacancies occurring in the Convention, should assemble at Bourges, where they would be safe from that violence which might be applied to the Convention itself. Barère, who was rising into notice by the skill with which he trimmed between parties, opposed this motion, and carried a decree appointing a Committee of Twelve to watch over the safety of the Convention. Then the Commune named as commandant of the National Guard, Hanriot, a man concerned in the September massacres. It raised an insurrection on the 31st of May. On Barère's proposal the Convention stooped to dissolving the Committee of Twelve. The Commune, which had hoped for the arrest of the Girondin leaders, was not satisfied. It undertook a new and more formidable outbreak on the 2nd of June. Enclosed by Hanriot's troops and thoroughly cowed, the Convention decreed the arrest of the Committee of Twelve and of twenty-two principal Girondins. They were put under confinement in their own houses. Thus the Jacobins became all-powerful. A tremor of revolt ran through the cities of the south which chafed under the despotism of the Parisian mob. These cities had their own grievances. The Jacobin clubs menaced : the lives and properties of all who were guilty of wealth Provinces. or of moderate opinions, while the representatives on mission deposed the municipal authorities and placed their own creatures in power. At the end of April the citizens of Marseilles closed the Jacobin club, put its chiefs on their trial and drove out the representatives on mission. In May Lyons rose. The Jacobin municipality was overturned, and Challier, their fiercest demagogue, was arrested. In June the citizens of Bordeaux declared that they would not acknowledge the authority of the Convention until the imprisoned deputies were set free. In July Toulon rebelled. But in the north the appeals of such Girondins as escaped from Paris were of no avail. Even the southern uprising proved far less dangerous than might have been expected. The peasants, who had gained more by the Revolution than any other class, held aloof from the citizens. The citizens lacked the qualities necessary for the successful conduct of civil war. Bordeaux surrendered almost without waiting to be summoned. Marseilles was taken in August and treated with great cruelty. Lyons, where the Royalists were strong, defended itself with courage, for the trial and execution of Challier made the townsmen hopeless of pardon. Toulon, also largely Royalist, invited the English and Spanish admirals, Hood and Langara, who occupied the port and garrisoned the town. At the same time the Vendean War continued formidable. In June the insurgents took theimportant town of Saumur, although they failed in an attempt upon Nantes. At the end of July the Republicans were still unable to make any impression upon the revolted territory. Thus in the summer of 1793 France seemed to be falling to
rail of the Girondins.
pieces. It was saved by the imbecility and disunion of the Disunion hostile powers. In the north the French army after of the the treason of Dumouriez could only attempt to cover :. the frontier. The Austrians were joined by British,
Dutch and Prussian forces. Had the Allies pushed straight upon Paris, they might have ended the war. But the desire of each ally to make conquests on his own account led them to spend time and strength in sieges. When Condé and Valenciennes had been taken, the British went off to assail Dunkirk and the Prussians retired into Luxemburg. In the east the Prussians and Austrians took Mainz at the end of July, allowing the garrison to depart on condition of not serving against the Allies for a year. Then they invaded Alsace, but their mutual jealousy prevented them from going farther. Thus the summer passed away without any decisive achievement of the
coalition. Meanwhile the Committee of Public Safety, inspired by Danton, strove to rebuild the French administrative system. In July the Committee was renewed and Danton fell out; but soon afterwards it was reinforced by two officers, Carnot, who undertook the organization of the army, and Prieur of the Côte d'Or, who undertook its equipment. Administrators of the first rank, these men renovated the warlike power of France, and enabled her to deal those crushing blows which broke up the coalition. The Royalist and Girondin insurrections and the critical aspect of the war favoured the establishment of what is known as the reign of terror. Terrorism had prevailed more or less since the beginning of the Revolution, but it was the work of those who desired to rule, not of the nominal rulers. It had been lawless and rebellious. It ended by becoming legal and official. While Danton kept powerTerrorism remained imperfect, for Danton, although unscrupulous, did not love cruelty and kept in view a return to normal government. But soon after Danton had ceased to be a member of the Committee of Public Safety Robespierre was elected, and now became the most powerful man in France. Robespierre was an acrid fanatic, and unlike Danton, who only cared to securethe practical results of the Revolution, he had a moral and religious ideal which he intended to force on the nation. All who rejected his ideal were corrupt; all who resented his ascendancy were traitors. The death of Marat, who was stabbed by Charlotte Corday (q.v.) to avenge the Girondins, gave yet another pretext for terrible measures of repression. In Paris the armed ruffians who had long preyed upon respectable citizens were organized as a revolutionary army, and other revolutionary armies were established in the provinces. Two new laws placed almost everybody at the mercy of the government. The Law of the Maximum, passed on the 17th of September, fixed the price of food and made it capital to ask for more. The Law of Suspects, passed at the same time, declared suspect every person who was of noble birth, or had held office before the Revolution, or had any connexion with an émigré, or could not produce a card of civisme granted by the local authority, which had full discretion to refuse. Any suspect might be arrested and imprisoned until the peace or sent before the Revolutionary Tribunal. An earlier law had established in every commune an elective committee of surveillance. These bodies, better known as revolutionary committees, were charged with the enforcement of the Law of Suspects. On the 10th of October the new constitution was suspended and the government declared revolutionary until the peace. The spirit of those in power was shown by the massacres which followed on the surrender of Lyons in that month. In Paris the slaughter of distinguished victims began with the trial of Marie Antoinette, who was guillotined on £" the 16th. Twenty-one Girondin deputies were next queen. brought to the bar and, with the exception of Valazé who stabbed himself, were beheaded on the last day of October, Madame Roland and other Girondins of note suffered later. In November the duke of Orleans, who had styled himself Philippe Egalité, had sat in the Convention, and had voted for the king's death, went to the scaffold. Bailly, Barnave and many others of note followed before the end of the year. As the bloody work went on the pretence of trial became more and more hollow, the chance of acquittal fainter and fainter. The Revolutionary Tribunal was a mere instrument of state. Knowing the slight foundation of its power the government deliberately sought to destroy all whose birth, political connexions or past career might mark them out as leaders of opposition. At the same time it took care to show that none was so obscure or so impotent as to be safe when its policy was to destroy. The disastrous effects of the Terror were heightened by the financial mismanagement of the Jacobins. Assignats were issued with such reckless profusion that the total for the three years of the Convention has been estimated at 7250 millions of francs. Enormous depreciation ensued and, although penalties rising to death itself were denounced against all who should refuse to take them at par, they fell to little more than 1% of their
The reign of terror.
nominal value. What were known as revolutionary taxes were imposed at discretion by the representatives on mission and the local authorities. A forced loan of 10oo millions was exacted from those citizens who were reputed to be prosperous. Immense supplies of all kinds were requisitioned for the armies, and were sometimes allowed to rot unused. Anarchy and state interference having combined to check the trade in necessaries, the government undertook to feed the people, and spent huge sums, especially on bread for the starving inhabitants of Paris. As no regular budget was attempted, as accounts were not kept, and as audit was unknown, the opportunities for fraud and embezzlement were endless. Even when due allowance has been made for the financial disorder which the Convention inherited from previous assemblies, and for the war which it had to wage against a formidable alliance, it cannot be acquitted of reckless and wasteful maladministration. Notwithstanding the disorder of the time, the mass of new laws produced by the Convention was extraordinary. A new system of weights and measures, a new currency, a
: new chronological era (that of the Republic), and a new Aegisla- calendar were introduced (see the section Republican tion. Calcndar below). A new and elaborate system of £: education was decreed. Two drafts of a complete
civil code were made and, although neither was enacted, particular changes of great moment were decreed. Many of the new laws were stamped with the passions of the time. Such were the laws which suppressed all the remaining bodies corporate, even the academies, and which extinguished all manorial rights without any indemnity to the owners. Such too were the laws which took away the power of testation, placed natural children upon an absolute equality with legitimate, and gave a boundless freedom of divorce. It would be absurd, however, to dismiss all the legislative work of the Convention as merely partisan or eccentric. Much of it was enlightened and skilful, the product of the best minds in the assembly. To compete for power or even to express an opinion on public affairs was dangerous, and wholly to refrain from attendance might be construed as disaffection. Able men who wished to be useful without hazarding their lives took refuge in the committees where new laws were drafted and discussed. The result of their labours was often decreed as a matter of course. Whether the decree would be carried into effect was always uncertain. The ruling faction was still divided against itself. The Commune of Paris, which had overthrown the Girondins, was jealous of the Committee of Public Safety, which meant to be supreme. Robespierre, the leading member of the committee, abhorred the chiefs of the Commune, not merely because they conflicted with his ambition but from difference of character. He was orderly and temperate, they were gross and debauched; he was a deist, they were atheists. In November the Commune fitted up Notre Dame as a temple of Reason, selected an opera girl to impersonate the goddess, and with profane ceremony installed her in the choir. All the churches in Paris were closed. Danton, when he felt power slipping from his hands, had retired from public business to his native town of Arcis-sur-Aube. When he became aware of the feud between Robespierre and the Commune, he conceived the hope of limiting the Terror and guiding the Revolution into a sane course. He returned to Paris and joined with Robespierre in carrying the law of 14 Frimaire (December 4), which gave the Committee of Public Safety absolute control over all municipal authorities. He became the advocate of mercy, and his friend Camille Desmoulins pleaded for the same cause in the Vieux Cordelier. Then the oppressed nation took courage and began to demand of the pardon for the innocent and even justice upon Paris murderers. A sharp contest ensued between the
Commune. Dantonists and th
fall of the e Commune, Dantonists.
now to this side, now to that, for he was really a friend to neither. His friend St Just, a younger and fiercer man, resolved to destroy both. Hébert and his followers in despair planned a new insurrection, but they were deserted by Hanriot, their military chief." Their doom was thus
fixed. Twenty leaders of the Commune were arrested on the 17th of March 1794 and guillotined a week later. It was then Danton's turn. He had several warnings, but either through over-confidence or weariness of life he scorned to fly. On the 3oth he was arrested along with his friends Desmoulins, Delacroix, Philippeaux and Westermann. St Just read to the Convention a report on their case pre-eminent even in that day for its shameless disregard of truth, nay, of plausibility. Before the Revolutionary Tribunal Danton defended himself with such energy that St Just took means to have him silenced. Danton and his friends were executed on the 5th of April. For a moment the conflict of parties seemed at an end. None could presume to challenge the authority of the Committee of Public Safety, and in the committee none disputed the seenemleadership of Robespierre. Robespierre was at last so of free to establish the republic of virtue. On the 7th Robes" of May he persuaded the Convention to decree that the pierre. French people acknowledged the existence of a Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul. On the 4th of June he was elected president of the Convention, and from that time forward he appeared to be dictator of France. On the 8th the festival of the Supreme Being was solemnized, Robespierre acting as pontiff amid the outward deference and secret jeers of his colleagues. But Robespierre knew what a gulf parted him from almost all his countrymen. He knew that he could be safe only by keeping power and powerful only by making the Terror more stringent. Two days after the festival. his friend Couthon presented the crowning law of the Terror, known as the Law of 22 Prairial. As the Revolutionary Tribunal was said to be paralysed by forms and delays, this law abolished the defence of prisoners by counsel and the examination of witnesses. Thenceforward the impressions of judges and jurors were to decide the fate of the accused. For all offences the penalty was to be death. The leave of the Convention was no longer required for the arrest of a member. In spite of some murmurs even this law was adopted. Its effect was fearful. The Revolutionary Tribunal had hitherto pronounced 12oo death sentences. In the next six weeks it pronounced 14oo. With Robespierre's approval St Just sketched at this time the plan of an ideal society in which every man should have just enough land to maintain him; in which domestic life should be regulated by law and all children over seven years should be educated by the state. Pending this regeneration of society St Just advised the rule of a dictator. The growing ferocity of the Terror appeared more hideous as the dangers threatening the government receded. The surrender of Toulon in December 1793 closed the south of France to
foreign enemies. The war in La Vendéeturned against £. the insurgents from the time when the veteran garrison ary war. of Mainz came to reinforce the Republican army. Republ: After a severe defeat at Cholet on the 16th of October £’
the Royalists determined to cross the Loire and raise
Brittany and Anjou, where the Chouans, or, Royalist partisans, were already stirring. They failed in an attempt on the little seaport of Granville and in another upon Angers. In December they were defeated with immense loss at Le Mans and at Savenay. The rebellion would probably have died out but for the measures of the new Republican general Turreau, who wasted La Vendée so horribly with his “infernal columns” that he drove the peasants to take up arms once more. Yet Turreau's crimes were almost surpassed by Carrier, the representative on mission at Nantes, who, finding the guillotine too slow in the destruction of his prisoners, adopted the plan of drowning them wholesale. In the autumn of 1793 the war against the coalition took a turn favourable to France. The energy of Danton, the organizing skill of Carnot, and the high spirit of the French nation, resolute at all costs to avoid dismemberment, had well employed the respite given by the sluggishness of the Allies. In Flanders the English were defeated at Hondschoote (September 8) and the Austrians at Wattignies (October 15). In the east Hoche routed the Austrians at Weissenburg and forced them to recross the Rhine before the end of 1793. The summerof 1794 saw France victorious on all her frontiers. Jourdan won the battle of Fleurus