The downfall of Mirabeau in the French Revolution



OF journals there are now some 133; among which, Marat, the People's Friend, unseen, croaks harsh thunder. Clubbism thrives and spreads, the Mother of Patriotism, sitting in the Jacobins, shining supreme over all. The pure patriots now, sitting on the extreme left, count only some thirty, Mirabeau not among the chosen; a virtuous Petion; an incorruptible Robespierre; conspicuous, if seldom audible, Phillippe d'Orleans; and Barnave triumvirate.

The plan of royalty, if it have any, is that of flying over the frontiers; does not abandon the plan, yet never executes it. Nevertheless, Mirabeau and the queen of France have met, have parted with mutual trust. It is strange, secret as the mysteries, but indisputable.

"Madame," he has said, "the monarchy is saved." Possible--if Fate intervene not. Patriotism suspects the design of flight; barking this time not at nothing. Suspects also the repairing of the castle of Vincennes; General Lafayette has to wrestle persuasively with St. Antoine.

On one royal person only can Mirabeau place dependence--the queen. Had Mirabeau lived one other year! But man's years are numbered, and the tale of Mirabeau's is complete. The giant oaken strength of him is wasted; excess of effort, of excitement of all kinds; labour incessant, almost beyond credibility. "When I am gone," he has said, "the miseries I have held back will burst from all sides upon France." On April 2 he feels that the last of the days has risen for him. His death is Titanic, as his life has been. On the third evening is solemn public funeral. The chosen man of France is gone.

The French monarchy now is, in all human probability, lost. Many things invite to flight; but if the king fly, will there not be aristocrat Austrian invasion, butchery, replacement of feudalism, wars more than civil? The king desires to go to St. Cloud, but shall not; patriots will not let the horses go. But Count Fersen, an alert young Swedish soldier, has business on hand; has a new coach built, of the kind called Berline; has made other purchases. On the night of Monday, June 20, certain royal individuals are in a glass coach; Fersen is the coachman; out by the Barrier de Clichy, till we find the waiting Berline; then to Bondy, where is a chaise ready; and deft Fersen bids adieu.

With morning, and discovery, National Assembly adopts an attitude of sublime calm; Paris also; yet messages are flying. Moreover, at Saint Menehould, on the route of the Berline, suspicious patriots are wondering what certain lounging dragoons mean; while the Berline arrives not.

At last it comes; but Drouet, the village postmaster, sees a likeness; takes horse in swift pursuit. So rolls on the Berline, and the chase after it; till it comes to a dead stop in Varennes, where Drouet finds it--in time to stop departure. Louis steps out; all step out. The flight is ended, though not the spurring and riding of that night of spurs.

IN the last nights of September, Paris is dancing and flinging fireworks; the edifice of the constitution is completed, solemnly proffered by his majesty, solemnly accepted by him. There is to be a new Legislative Assembly, biennial; no members of the Constituent Assembly to sit therein, or for four years to be a minister, or hold a court appointment. So they vanish.

Among this new legislative see Condorcet, Brissot; most notable, Carnot. An effervescent, well intentioned set of senators; too combustible where continual sparks are flying, ordered to make the constitution march, for which marching three things bode ill--the French people, the French king, the French noblesse and the European world.

For there are troubles in cities of the south. Avignon, where Jourdan coupe-tete makes lurid appearance; Perpignan, northern Caen also. With factions, suspicions, want of bread and sugar, it is verily what they call dechire, torn asunder, this poor country. And away over seas the Plain of Cap Francais, one huge whirl of smoke and flame; one cause of the dearth of sugar. What King Louis is and cannot help being, we already know

And, thirdly, there is the European world. All kings and kinglets are astir, their brows clouded with menace. Swedish Gustav will lead coalised armies, Austria and Prussia speak at Pilnitz, lean Pitt looks out suspicious. Europe is in travail, the birth will be WAR. Worst feature of all, the emigrants at Coblentz, an extra-national Versailles.

OUR revenue is assignats, our arms wrecked, disobedient, disorganized; what, then, shall we do? Dumouriez is summoned to Paris, quick, shifty, insuppressible; while royalist seigneurs cajole and, as you turn your legislative thumbscrew, king's veto steps in with magical paralysis.

Yet let not patriotism despair. Have we not a virtuous Petion, Maire of Paris, a wholly patriotic municipality? Patriotism, moreover, has her constitution that can march, the mother society of the Jacobins; where may be heard Brissot, Danton, Robespierre, the incorruptible man.

Hope burst forth with appointment of a patriot ministry, this also his majesty will try. Roland, perchance Wife Roland, Dumouriez and others. Liberty is never named without another word, Equality. In April poor Louis, 'with tears in his eyes,' proposes that the assembly do now decree war. Let our three generals on the frontier look to it therefore, since Duke Brunswick has his drill-sergeants busy. We decree a camp of twenty thousand National Volunteers; the hereditary representative answers veto! Strict Roland, the whole patriot ministry, finds itself turned out.

BARBAROUX writes to Marseilles for six hundred men who know how to die. On June 20 a tree of Liberty appears in Saint Antoine--a procession with for standard a pair of black breeches--pours down surging upon the Tuileries, breaks in. The king, the little prince royal, have to don the cap of liberty. Thus has the age of Chivalry gone and that of Hunger come.

Now from Marseilles are marching the six hundred men who know how to die, marching to the hymn of the Marseillaise. The country is in danger! Volunteer fighters gather. Demand is for forfeiture, abdication in favour of prince royal, which Legislature cannot pronounce. Therefore, on the night of August 9 the tocsin sounds; of Insurrection.

On August 18 the grim host is marching, immeasurable, born of the night. Of the squadrons of order, not one stirs. At the Tuileries the red Swiss look to their priming. Amid a double rank of National Guards the royal family 'marches' to the assembly. The Swiss stand to their post, peaceable yet immovable. One strangest patriot onlooker thinks that the Swiss, had they a commander, would beat; the name of him, Napoleon Buonaparte. Having none--Honour to you, brave men, not martyrs, and yet almost more. Your work was to die, and ye did it. Our old patriot ministry is recalled; Roland; Danton Minister of Justice! Also, in the new municipality, Robespierre is sitting. Louis and his household are lodged in the Temple. The constitution is over! Dumouriez is commander-in-chief.





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