The Last Days of Absolute Monarchy - The French Revolution

Louis XV at first possessed the affections of his people to such a degree, that he was named the 'Much-beloved;' and when he was attacked by a dangerous illness in Metz, the whole land went into mourning, and his recovery was celebrated by the greatest rejoicings. But this love gradually changed into hatred and contempt when the king gave himself up to the most shameless debaucheries, and surrendered the government of the country, the command of the army, and the decision upon points of law and state policy, to the companions of his orgies and the ministers of his lusts and pleasures; and when mistresses, without morals or decency, ruled the court and the empire. Among these women, none possessed greater or more enduring • influence than the Marchioness of Pompadour, who guided the whole policy of France for a period of twenty years, filled the most important offices with her favorites, decided upon peace or war, and disposed of the revenues of the state as she did of her private purse, so that, after a life passed in luxury and splendor, she left millions behind her. She and her creatures encouraged Louis' excesses and love of pleasure, that he might plunge continually deeper in the pool of vice, and leave to them the government of the state. For the rest, the Pompadour used her position and her influence with a certain dignity, and with tact and discretion; but when the countess Du Barry, a woman from the very dregs of the people, occupied her place, the court lost all authority and respect.

When Louis XV, in consequence of his excesses, was carried off in the midst of his sins by a frightful distemper, the treasury was exhausted, the country in debt, credit gone, and the people oppressed by their burdens.

It was under these melancholy circumstances, that an absolute throne descended to a prince who certainly possessed the best of hearts, but a weak understanding; who was good-natured enough to wish to relieve the condition of the people, but possessed neither strength nor intellect for efficient measures. This prince was Louis XVI. Weak and indulgent, he allowed the frivolity and extravagance of his brothers, the count of Provence (afterwards Louis XVIII), and the count of Artois (Charles X) and permitted his wife, Marie Antoinette, the highly-accomplished daughter of Maria Theresa, to interfere in matters of state, and to exert a considerable, influence upon the court and government. The queen, by her pride and haughty bearing, incurred the dislike of the people, so that they ascribed every unpopular measure to her influence, and put a bad construction upon every liberty she allowed herself in private.

The prevailing want of money, and the disordered state of the revenue, could only be remedied by including the nobility and clergy in the taxation, by large reforms in the whole system of government, like those proposed by Turgot and Malesherbes, and by order and economy in the expenditure. But Louis XVI had neither strength nor resolution to carry out such decisive measures; and as for economy, the extravagant court of Versailles would not listen to it. The Genevese banker, Necker, who undertook the management of the finances after Turgot, was as little in a position as his predecessor to reduce the disorder in the state economy; and when, upon the occasion of a loan, he exposed the financial condition of France in a pamphlet, he drew upon himself the displeasure of the court and the aristocracy to such a degree, that he was obliged to resign his office. This happened at a time when the American war had increased the scarcity of money, and aroused the feeling of liberty and republicanism in France. It was, therefore, a great misfortune for the French monarchy, that just at this critical moment the frivolous and extravagant Calonne undertook the management of the finances. This man departed from the frugal plan of Necker, acceded to the wishes of the queen and the necessities of the princes and courtiers, and deluded the world with high-sounding promises of putting an end to all difficulties. The most splendid festivals were celebrated in Versailles, and the talents of Calonne loudly extolled. But his means, also, were soon exhausted.

The popular favorite Necker, was a second time summoned, in 1788, to the ministry. He first allayed the irritation by repealing resolutions against the parliament, and then made preparations for summoning the Estates. Owing to this, there soon arose a division between him and the parliament and Notables, whom he had again consulted. The latter were of opinion that the new assembly should conform itself, both as to the number of representatives and the mode of procedure, to the Estates of 1614, while Necker wished to allow a double representation to the third Estate, and that they should vote individually, and not as a class; a view that was supported by some of the ablest writers of the nation in a multitude of pamphlets. (Abbé Sieyes: 'What is the third Estate?') Necker's opinion triumphed. An order of the king fixed the number of noble and ecclesiastical members at 300 each, that of the citizens at 600, and appointed the following May as the time of opening. Necker was the hero of the day, but he was not the pilot of the ship, he only 'drove the wind. '

In the beginning of May 1789, the deputies of the three Estates, and among them some of the ablest and most accomplished men of France, assembled at Versailles. The third Estate, irritated by the neglect of the court at the opening and during the audience, came to a rupture with the two privileged Estates at the first sitting, when the latter required that the Estates should carry on their debates separately, whilst the former insisted upon a general council and individual votes. After a contest of some weeks, the third Estate, which had chosen the astronomer, the freedom-inspired representative of Paris, for its President, but which was guided by the superior talents of Sieyes and Mirabeau, declared itself a National Assembly, upon which it was joined by portions of the other Estates. The Assembly at once passed the resolution of allowing the levying of the present taxes only so long as the Estates should remain undissolved. This proceeding disturbed the court, and inspired it with the thought of granting a constitution to the nation, and thus rendering the estates unnecessary. For this purpose, a royal sitting was appointed, and the hall of assembly closed for a few days. Upon the intelligence of this, the deputies proceeded to the empty saloon of the Tennis Court, and raised their hands in a solemn vow not to separate till they had given a new constitution to the nation. When this Court also was closed, the meetings were held in the church of St. Louis. The royal sitting took place on the 23d of June. But neither the speech of the king, nor the sketch of the new constitution, afforded due satisfaction, and they were consequently received with coldness. After the termination of the sitting, Louis dissolved the Assembly. The nobility and clergy obeyed, but the citizen class retained their seats, and when the master of the ceremonies called upon them to obey, Mirabeau exclaimed: Tell your master that we sit here by the power of the people, and that we are only to be driven out by the bayonet! The weak king did not venture to encounter this resolute resistance by force, but rather advised the nobility and clergy to join the citizens.

The government of the city was made over to a democratic municipality, at the head of which stood Bailli, as mayor. The court, alarmed at the increasing ferment, determined upon retiring to Versailles with a few regiments of German and Swiss troops. In this proceeding, the leaders of the movement believed they saw the purpose of some act of violence, and made use of it accordingly to excite fresh irritation. The intelligence was spread abroad in Paris, that Necker had been suddenly dismissed and banished from the country, and a favorite of the queen placed in his office. This was interpreted as the first step in the contemplated outrage, and proved the signal for a general rise. Crowds of the citizens, wearing the newly invented national cockade, (blue, white, and red,) paraded through the streets, the alarm-bell was sounded, the work-shops of the gunsmiths plundered tumult and confusion reigned everywhere. On the 14th of July, after the populace had taken 80,000 stand of arms and some cannon from the Hospital des Invalides, took place the storming of the Bastille, an old castle that served as a state prison. The governor, Delaunay, and seven of the garrison, fell victims to the popular rage; their heads were carried. through the streets upon poles; and many men who were hated as aristocrats were put to death. The banished Necker was recalled, and his entrance into the towns and villages of France was celebrated as that of a hero crowned with victory. In this joyous reception of the minister, the people displayed their enthusiasm for liberty and their hatred to the court and the aristocracy. Lafayette, the champion of the liberty of America, was appointed commander of the National Guard, and whilst the king returned to Paris, and exhibited himself to the assembled people from the balcony of the council-house with the cockade in his hat, the count of Artois, and many nobles of the first rank, as Condé, Polignac, left their country in mournful anticipation of coming events.

Since the storming of the Bastille, the laws and magistrates had lost their authority in France, and the power lay in the hands of the populace. The country people no longer paid their tithes, taxes, and feudal dues to the clergy and nobles, but took vengeance for the long oppression they had suffered, by destroying the manorial castles. When intelligence of these proceedings spread abroad, it was proposed in the National Assembly, that the upper classes should prove to the people by their actions, that they were willing to lighten their burdens, and that, with this purpose, they should renounce, of their own free will, all the inherited feudal privileges of the middle ages. This proposal excited a storm of enthusiasm and self-renunciation. None would be behind-hand. Estates, towns, provinces, each strove for the honor of making the greatest sacrifices for the common good. This was the celebrated 4th of August, when, in one feverish and excited session, all tithes, labor-dues, manorial rights, corporate bodies, etc., were abolished, the soil was declared free, and the equality of all citizens of the state before the law and in. regard to taxation was decreed. These resolutions, and the necessary laws and arrangements required for their reduction to practice, which were gradually adopted, produced in a short time a complete revolution in all existing conditions. The Church lost her possessions and was subjected to the state; monasteries and religious orders were dissolved, and the clergy paid by the state, the bishoprics newly regulated, and religious freedom established. Priests were required to swear allegiance, like officers of state, to the new constitution; but as the pope forbade it, the greater number refused the oath, which was the occasion of the French clergy being divided into sworn and unsworn priests; the latter lost their offices and were exposed to all kinds of persecutions, but enjoyed the confidence of the faithful among the people. The noble forfeited not only his privileges and the greater part of his income, but he also lost the external distinctions of his rank, by the abolition of all titles, coats of arms, orders, etc. Upon the principle of equality, all Frenchmen were to be addressed as 'citizens.' For the purpose of annihilating every remnant of the ancient system, France received a new geographical division into departments and arrondissements; a new system of judicature with jurymen; equality of weights, measures, and standards; and lastly, a constitutional government, in which the privileges of royalty were limited, and the legislative power committed to a single chamber, with a universal right of suffrage.

On the 5th of October, an immense multitude, chiefly of women, proceeded to Versailles to demand from the king relief from the scarcity of bread, and a return of the court to Paris. The king first attempted to pacify them by a conciliatory answer. But a wing of the palace was stormed during the night, and the guard put to the sword; the arrival of Lafayette, with the National Guard, prevented any further mischief. Upon the following day, the king was obliged to consent to proceed to Paris with his family, under the escort of this frightful crew, and to take up his residence in the Tuileries, which had for many years remained unoccupied. Shortly after, the National Assembly also followed, for whom the ridingschool in the neighborhood of the palace had been prepared. The power now fell more and more into the hands of the lower class, who were kept in perpetual excitement by journalists and popular leaders, and were goaded to hatred against the court and the " aristocrats."

On the day of the year in which the Bastille was taken, a grand federative festival was arranged in the Champ de Mars (July 14, 1790). It must have been a moving spectacle, when Talleyrand, at the head of 300 priests, clothed in white, and girded with tri-colored scarfs, performed the consecration of the banner at the altar of the country; when Lafayette, in the name of the National Guard, the president of the National Assembly, and, at length, the king himself, vowed fidelity to the Constitution; when the innumerable multitude raised their hands aloft and repeated after him the oath of citizenship, and the queen herself, carried away by enthusiasm, raised the Dauphin in the air and joined in the acclamations. This was the last day of happiness for the king, whose situation after this grew constantly worse. Necker, no longer equal to the difficulties, left France and retired to Switzerland. Mirabeau, won over by the court, opposed farther encroachments upon the kingly power with the whole of his eloquence, inasmuch as he believed a constitutional monarchy and not a re public to be the best government for France. Unfortunately for the king, this great man died, in his forty-second year, of a sickness brought on by his disorderly life and by over-exertion. A. splendid funeral ceremony gave evidence of the influence of the man in whom sank the last strong pillar of the throne. Weak and unselfreliant as Louis XVI was, he now lost all firmness. By his refusal to receive a sworn priest as his confessor, or to declare the emigrants traitors, who were endeavoring from Coblentz to excite the European courts to a crusade against France, he excited a suspicion that he was not honestly a supporter of the constitution he had sworn to maintain, and not altogether ignorant of the efforts of the emigrants. The more this suspicion gained ground with the people, the more perilous became the position of the king. At this crisis, Louis embraced the desperate resolution of secretly flying to the northern frontier of his kingdom. Bouillé, a resolute general in Lorraine, was let into the secret, and promised to support the scheme with his troops. Leaving behind him a letter, in which he protested against all the acts which had been forced from him since October, 1789, the king happily escaped, with his family, from Paris in a large carriage. But the clumsily executed project nevertheless miscarried. Louis was recognized in St. Menehould by the postmaster, Drouet, stopped by the militia at Varennes, and led back to Paris at the command of the National Assembly, who sent three of their members, and among them, Pétion, to receive the royal family. The suspension of the royal authority, which had already been pronounced by the Assembly, remained in force, till Louis proclaimed and swore to observe, the Constitution completed at the end of September.

The attention of the government and the Assembly was particularly directed to the priests., who had refused the oath, and to the emigrants. Both were endeavoring to overthrow the existing order of things: the former by exciting hatred and discontent among the French people; the latter by making military preparations at Coblentz, and endeavoring to stir up foreign powers to an armed invasion of France. The Assembly therefore determined upon seeking out and arresting the unsworn priests, and declaring the emigrants traitors and conspirators, and punishing them by the loss of their estates and incomes. The king put his veto upon both these resolutions, and prevented their execution. This refusal was ascribed to the secret hopes, entertained by the court, of assistance from foreign powers and of the triumph of the emigrants, and thus the temper of the people grew continually more hostile. It was also known that the queen was in correspondence with her brother, the emperor of Austria, and that she looked for support and safety to the emigrant nobility. Neither was it any longer doubtful that war must soon break out, since the emperor of Austria and the king of Prussia, after a conference in Pillnitz (August, 1791,) were making preparations, and demanded of the French government not only to make befitting indemnification to the German princes and nobles who had suffered loss by the abolition of tithes and feudal bur dens, and to restore the province of Avignon, that had been wrested from the pope, but to arrange the government upon the plan proposed by the king himself in June, 1789. These demands were followed by a declaration of war against Austria and Prussia on the part of the French government, to which the king yielded his consent with tears. For the purpose of securing the capital and the National Assembly against any attack it was resolved to summon 20,000 of the federates from the southern provinces, under pretense of celebrating the festival of the Bastille, and to commit the defense of. Paris to them. But Louis refused his consent to this resolution also. Upon this, the Girondist ministers laid down their offices, after Madame Roland had reproached and reprimanded the king in a letter that was soon in the hands of every body. These proceedings increased the irritation to such an extent that it became easy for the republicans to excite a popular insurrection. On the 20th of June, the anniversary of the meeting in the Tennis Court, the terrible mob, armed with pikes, marched from the suburbs, under the conduct of the brewer, Santerre, and the butcher, Legendre, into the Tuileries, to force the king to confirm the decree against the unsworn priests and for the summoning of the National Guard. But here also Louis remained firm. He defied for several hours all threats and dangers and endured the insolence of the mob, who even placed the red Jacobin cap upon his head and gave him wine to drink, with the courage of a martyr. The rather tardy arrival of Pétion with the National Guard at length freed him from his perilous position.

At midnight on the 10th of August, a fearful mob proceeded to the Hotel de Ville, for the purpose of establishing a new democratic municipality, and then marched to the royal palace, which was defended by 900 Swiss, and the Parisian National Guard under the command of Mandat. The honest Mandat was resolved to check the advancing masses, which were ever assuming a more menacing aspect, by force; his destruction was consequently resolved upon by the democrats. He was commanded to appear at the Hotel de Ville, and assassinated on his way thither; upon which the National Guard, uncertain what to do, and disgusted by the presence of a number of nobles in the palace, for the most part dispersed. The mob constantly assumed a more threatening aspect; cannon were turned upon the palace, the pikemen pressed forwards upon every entrance, the people loudly demanded the deposition of the king. At this crisis, Louis suffered himself to be persuaded to seek for protection with his family in the hall of the National Assembly, where they passed sixteen hours in a narrow closet. The king had scarcely left the palace, before the tumultuous multitude pressed forward more violently; the Swiss guard maintained a gallant resistance, and defended the entrance. When the report of musketry was heard in the adjoining Assembly, the indignant representatives of the people compelled the intimidated king to give his guard orders to cease firing. By this order, the faithful defenders of monarchy were doomed to destruction. Scarcely had the furious mob observed that the enemy's fire had ceased, before they stormed the palace, slaughtered those they found in it, and destroyed the furniture. Nearly 5,000 men, and among them, 700 Swiss, fell in the struggle, or died afterwards, the victims of the popular fury. In the mean time, the National Assembly, upon the proposal of Vergniaud, embraced the resolution " to suspend the royal authority, to place the king and his family under control, to give the prince a tutor, and to assemble a National Convention." The Temple, a strong fortress erected by the Knights Templars, soon enclosed the imprisoned royal family.

After the suspension of the king, a new ministry was formed by the National Assembly, in which, by the side of the Girondist, Roland, and others, the terrible Danton held office as minister of justice. This ministry, and the new Common Council of Paris which had appointed itself, and. which, after the 10th of August, had strengthened itself by members who might be depended upon as hesitating at no wickedness, now possessed the whole power. The Municipal Council ordered the police of the capital to be conducted by pikemen, and the prisons were quickly filled with the 'suspected' and 'aristocrats.' It was now that the frightful resolution was matured of getting rid of the opponents of the new order of things by a bloody tribunal, and of suppressing all resistance by terror. After the recusant priests had been slaughtered by hundreds in the monasteries and prisons, the dreadful days of September were commenced. From the 2d to the 7th of September, bands of hired murderers and villains were collected round the prisons. Twelve of them acted as jurymen and judge, the others as executioners. The imprisoned, with the exception of a few whose names were marked upon a list, were put to death by this inhuman crew under a semblance of judicial proceedings. Nearly 3,000 human beings were either put to death singly, or slaughtered in masses, by these wretches, who received a daily stipend from the Common Council for their ' labors.' Among the murdered was the princess Lamballe, the friend of the queen; a troop of pikemen carried her head upon a pole to the Temple, and held it before Marie Antoinette's window. The example of the capital was imitated in many of the departments. The barbarous destruction of all statues, coats of arms, incriptions, and other memorials of a former period, formed the conclusion of the August and September days, which were the transition period between the French monarchy and republic. The autumnal equinox was distinguished as the commencement of the reign of liberty and equality under the republican National Convention.

Lafayette, who was serving with the northern army, and who, after the days of June, had returned to Paris on his own responsibility, for the purpose, if possible, of saving the king, was now summoned before the National Assembly to answer for his conduct. Convinced that the Jacobins were seeking for his death, he fled, with some friends who shared his sentiments, to Holland, that he might escape to America; but he fell into the hands of enemies, who treated him like a prisoner of war, and allowed him to live for five years in the dungeons of Olmutz and Magdeburg. Talleyrand repaired to England, and thence to America, where he awaited better times.

The new Assembly, which, under the influence of the Jacobins, had been elected by universal suffrage, was composed almost exclusively of republicans, but of different dispositions and opinions.

The trial of the king, 'Louis Capet,' was one of the first proceedings of the National Convention. An iron safe had been discovered in a wall of the Tuileries, containing secret letters and documents, from which it was apparent that the French court had not only been in alliance with Austria and the emigrants, and had projected plans for overthrowing the Constitution that had been sworn to by Louis, but that it had also attempted to win over single members of the National Assembly (for example, Mirabeau), by annuities, bribery, and other means. It was upon this that the republicans, who would willingly have been quit of the king, founded a charge of treason and conspiracy against the country and the people. Louis, with the assistance of two advocates, to whom the noble Malesherbes , of his own free impulse, associated himself, appeared twice before the Convention (11th and 26th December), but despite his own dignified bearing and defense, and despite the efforts of the Girondist party to have the sentence referred to a general assembly of the people, Louis was condemned to death in a stormy meeting, by a small majority of five voices, January 17th, 1793. The party of the Mountain, where the advocate, Maximilian Robespierre, the former marquis St. Just, the frightful Danton, the lame Couthon, and the duke of Orleans, who had assumed the name of Citizen Egalité, were the leaders and chiefs, had left no means unattempted to produce this result by terror; they would, nevertheless, have failed in their purpose, had they not carried a resolution beforehand in the Assembly, that a bare majority should be sufficient for a sentence of death, and not, as had heretofore been the custom, that two thirds of the votes should be necessary. The murder was thus veiled by a show of justice. On the 21st of January, the unfortunate king ascended the scaffold in the square of the Revolution. The drums of the National Guard drowned his last words, and 'Robespierre's women' greeted his bloody head with the shout of Vive la République.'

The Girondists enraged at the increasing power of the populace in Paris, and the unbridled acts of violence committed by the mob, entertained the project of converting France into a republican union like North America, and by this means, destroying the supremacy of the capital. The Mountain and the Jacobins, who saw that this scheme would weaken the revolutionary power of France, and endanger the future of the democratic republic, commenced a war of life and death with the Girondists (also called Brissotins) upon this point. They reproached them with weakening the power of the people, and destroying the republic at a moment when France was threatened with enemies both within and without; and when all these attacks were ignominiously repulsed by the victorious eloquence of the Girondists, the savage Marat, in his 'Friend of the People,' call ed upon the populace to rise against the moderate and lukewarm, and thus gave occasion to daily riots and tumults, which disturbed the capital and endangered life and property.

The National Convention acquired greater unanimity by the exclusion of the Girondists and the moderates; so that, from this time, it was enabled to develop a frightful power and activity. For the purpose of better superintending its multitudinous affairs, it resolved itself into committees, of which the committee of public safety and that of public security acquired a frightful celebrity by the persecution of every one opposed to the new order of things. A revolutionary tribunal, consisting of twelve jurymen and five judges, to which that man of blood, Fouquier Tinville, occupied the office of public accuser, seconded the activity of these committees by a cruel and summary administration of justice. At the head of the committee of public safety stood three men, whose names became the terror and horror of all just men; the envious and malignant Robespierre, the bloodthirsty Couthon, and the frantic for republican liberty and equality, St. Just. They pursued their bloody object without regard to human life; every thing that ventured to oppose their stormy course was unpityingly hurled down. Thus originated the terrible period of the years '93 and '94, which displayed itself in three different directions - within, by a cruel persecution of all citizens who were known as aristocrats or favorers of royality, and by a bloody suppression of insurrections in the south and west; without, by a vigorous defensive war against innumerable enemies.

The former minister, Malesherbes, the members of the Constituent Assembly, Bailli, etc. all who belonged to the old monarchy, and who had not saved themselves by flight, died by the guillotine. Among them was the severely-tried queen, Marie Antoinette, who displayed, during her trial and at her execution, a firmness and strength of soul that was worthy of her education and her birth. Her son died beneath the cruel treatment of a Jacobin; her daughter (the duchess of Angouleme) carried a gloomy spirit and an embittered heart with her to the grave. Louis XVI's pious sister, Elizabeth, also died on the scaffold; the head of the profligate duke of Orleans, whom even the favor of Danton could not preserve from the envy of Robespierre, had fallen before her own.

The bloody rule of the Mountain party displayed itself in its most frightful excess in the suppression of the revolt against the reign of terror. When the inhabitants of Normandy and Bretagne rose in support of the excluded Girondists, the committee of public safety ordered the district between the Seine, the Loire, and the extreme sea-coast, to be visited with blood and slaughter by the terrible Carrier. This monster ordered, at Nantes, his victims to be drowned by hundreds in the Loire by means of ships with movable bottoms (noyades.) The proceedings of the Jacobins in the cities of the south, Lyons, Marseilles, and Toulon, were still more barbarous. In the first of these towns Chalier, who had formerly been a priest, and now was president of the Jacobin club, excited the people by scandalous placards to plunder and destroy the 'aristocrats.' Irritated at this audacity, the respectable and wealthy citizens of Lyons, who were thus menaced in their lives and property, procured the execution of the demagogue, July 16th, 1793. This deed filled the Parisian terrorists with fury. A republican army appeared before the walls of the town, which, after an obstinate contest, was taken and fearfully punished. Fréron a companion of Marat, Fouché, Couthon, and others, caused the inhabitants to be shot down in crowds, because the guillotine was too tedious in its operations; whole streets were either pulled down or blown into the air with gunpowder. The goods of the rich were divided among the populace; Lyons was to be annihilated, reduced to a nameless common. The republicans raged in a similar way in Marseilles and Toulon. The royalists of Toulon had called upon the English for assistance, and surrendered to them their town and harbor. Confident in this assistance, and in the strength of their walls, the citizens of Toulon bade defiance to their republican enemies. But the army of sans-culottes, in which the young Corsican, Napoleon Bonaparte, exhibited the first proofs of his military talents, overcame all obstacles. Toulon was stormed. The English, unable to maintain the town, set fire to the fleet, and left the unfortunate inhabitants to the frightful vengeance of the Convention. Here also the barbarous Fréron order ed all the wealthy citizens to be shot, and their property to be divided among the sans-culottes. The respectable inhabitants fled, and abandoned the city to the mob and the galley-slaves. Tallien behaved in a similar manner in Bourdeaux; and in the north of France, Lebon marched from place to place with a guillotine.

But the fate of La Vendée was the most frightful. This singular country, situated in the west of France, was covered with woods, hedges, and thickets, and intersected by ditches. Here dwelt a contented people, in rural quietude, and in the simplicity of the olden time. The peasants and tenants were attached to their landlords they loved the king and clung with reverence to their clergy and their church usages, which had been dear and sacred to them from their youth. When the National Assembly slaughtered or expelled their unsworn priests, when the blood of their king was poured out on the guillotine, when the children of the peasants were called away by a general summons, to the army - then the enraged people roused themselves to resistance and civil conflict. Under brave leaders, of undistinguished birth, as Charette, Stofflet, Cathelineau, who were joined by a few nobles, Laroche-Jaquelein, D'Elbée, etc., they at first drove back the republican army, conquered Saumur, and threatened Nantes. Upon this the Convention despatched a revolutionary army to La Vendée, under the command of Westermann and the frantic Jacobins, Ronsin and Rossignol. These fell upon the inhabitants like wild beasts, set fire to towns, villages, farms, and woods, attempted to overcome the resistance of the royalists' by terror and outrage. But the courage of the Vendéan peasants remained unsubdued. It was not until general Kleber marched against La Vendée with the brave troops who had returned to their homes after the surrender of Mayence, that this unfortunate people gradually succumbed to the attacks of their enemies, after the land had become a desert, and thousands of the inhabitants had saturated the soil with their blood. La Vendée, however, was only restored to tranquillity when Hoche, who was equally renowned for his courage and philanthropy, assumed the command of the army, offered peace to those who were weary of the contest, and reduced the refractory to submission. Stofflet and Charette were made prisoners of war, and shot.

The rage and cruelty of the Jacobins at length excited the disgust of the chiefs of the Cordeliers, Danton and Camille Desmoulins. The former, who was rather a voluptuary than a tyrant, and who was capable of kindly feelings, had grown weary of slaughter, and had retired into the country for a few months with a young wife, to enjoy the wealth and happiness that the revolution had brought him; but Camille Desmoulins, in his much read paper, 'The Old Cordelier,' applied the passages where the Roman historian, Tacitus, describes the tyranny and cruelty of Tiberius; so appropriately to his own times, that the application to the three chiefs of the committee of safety and their laws against the suspected was not to be mistaken. This enraged the Jacobins; and when, about this time, several friends and adherents of Danton (Fabre d'Eglantine, Chabot, etc.) were guilty of deceit and corruption in connection with the abolition of the East India Company, and others gave offense by their sacrilegious proceedings, the committee of safety made use of the opportunity to destroy the whole party of Danton. For since the Convention had altered the calendar and the names of the months, had made the year commence on the 22d of September, had abolished the observance of Sunday and the festivals, and introduced in their place the decades and sans-culotte feasts, many Dantonists, like Hebert, Chaumette, Momoro, Cloots, and others, had occasioned great scandal by their animosity to priests and Christianity. They desecrated and plundered the churches, ridiculed the mass, vestments and the church utensils, which they carried through the streets in blasphemous processions, raged with the spirit of Vandals against all the monuments of Christianity, and at length carried a resolution through the Convention that the worship of Reason should be introduced in place of the Catholic service of God. A solemn festival, in which Momoro's pretty wife personated the Goddess of Reason in the church of Nôtre Dame, marked the commencement of this new religion. Robespierre, who plumed himself upon his reputation for virtue, because he was not a participator in the excesses or avarice of Danton and his associates, took offense at these proceedings. He determined to destroy their originators, and in their fall to involve the destruction of Desmoulins and Danton, before whose powerful natures his own spirit, which was filled with envy and ambition, stood abashed. Scarcely, therefore, had Danton resumed his seat in the Convention, before St. Just began the violent struggle by a remarkable proposal, in which he divided the enemies of the republic into three classes: the corrupt, the ultrarevolutionary, and the moderates, and insisted upon their punishment. This proposal resulted in nineteen of the ultra-revolutionaries, and among them Cloots, Momoro, Ronsin, and several members of the Common Council , being led to the guillotine on the 19th of March, 1794. On the 31st of April, the corrupt were placed before the Revolutionary Tribunal, and Danton, Camille Desmoulins, Herault de Sechelles, etc., were maliciously distinguished as their partisans and involved in their fate. But Danton and Desmoulins, supported by a raging mob that were devoted to them, de manded with vehemence that their accusers should be confronted with them. For three days, Danton's voice of thunder and the tumult among the populace rendered his condemnation impossible. For the first time, the bloody men of the Revolutionary Tribunal became confused. The Convention, at length, by a law of its own, gave the Tribunal the power of condemning the accused who were endeavoring to subvert the existing order of things by an insurrection, without further hearing; upon which the blood-stained heroes of the 10th of August and the days of September, who during their trial had shown that a lofty spirit might dwell even in the bosom of criminals, were led to the guillotine and beheaded, with a crowd of inferior Hebertists. They died with courage and resolution.

Since the fall of Danton, the committee of safety had ruled with wellnigh unlimited sway, and by repeated executions and arrests had brought the reign of terror to its highest point. But its chiefs had lost the confidence of the people and of the Convention. The friends of Danton were on the watch for the favorable moment of attack, and the number of their enemies was increased, when Robespierre, to put an end to the blasphemous proceedings of the adherents of the worship of Reason, had a resolution passed by the Convention in May, 'That the existence of a Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul were truths' and rendered himself at once hateful and ridiculous by his pride at the new festival in honor of the Supreme Being in the Tuileries, at which he officiated as high priest. Among his opponents was Tallien, who at a former period had been guilty of excesses in Bourdeaux, but who had been brought to adopt different principles by the fascinating Fontenay Cabarrus. With him were joined Fréron, Fouché, Vadier, the polished rhetorician Barrère, and others. On the 9th Thermidor, a battle for life or death commenced in the Convention. Robes pierre and his adherents were not allowed to speak; their voices were drowned in the cries of their enemies, who carried through a stormy meeting the resolution, 'That the three chiefs of the committee of safety, Robespierre, St. Just, Couthon, and their confederate, Henriot, should be denounced, and conveyed as prisoners to the Luxembourg palace.' They were liberated by the mob on their way; whereupon the drunken Henriot threatened the Convention with the National Guard, whilst the others betook themselves to the Hotel de Ville. But the National Assembly was beforehand with them by a hasty resolution. A loudly proclaimed sentence of outlawry suddenly dispersed Henriot's army, whilst the citizens who were opposed to the Jacobins arranged themselves around the Convention. The accused were again secured in the Hotel de Ville. Henriot crept into a sewer, whence he was dragged forth by hooks. Robespierre attempted to destroy himself by a pistol-shot, but only succeeded in shattering his lower jaw, and was first conveyed, horribly disfigured, amidst the curses and execrations of the people, before the Revolutionary Tribunal, and then guillotined, with twenty-one of his adherents. On the two following days, seventy-two Jacobins shared the fate of their leaders.

Robespierre's overthrow by the 'Thermidorians' was the commencement of a return to moderation and order. The assemblies of the people were gradually limited, the power of the Common Council diminished, and the lower classes deprived of their weapons. Fréron, converted from a republican bloodhound into an aristocrat, assembled the young men, who from their clothing were called the 'gilded youth,' around him. These, with the heavy stick they usually carried about them, attacked the Jacobins in the streets and in their clubs at every opportunity, and opposed the song of the 'Awakening of the People' to the Marseillaise. At length, the club was shut up and the cloister of the Jacobins pulled down. The Convention strengthened itself by the recall of the expelled members and of such Girondists as were still left, and ordered the worst of the Terrorists, Lebon, Carrier, Fouquier, Tinville, etc., to be executed. But when four of the most active members of the committee of safety, (Barrère, Vadier, Collot d'Herbois, and Billaud-Varennes) were denounced, the Jacobins collected the last remains of their strength, and drove the people, who were suffering from a scarcity and want of money, to a frightful insurrection. Crowds of grisly wretches surrounded the house of assembly, and demanded, with threatening cries, the liberation of the patriots, bread, and the constitution of 1793. Pichegru, who was just at this moment in Paris, came to the assistance of the distressed convention with soldiers and citizens, and dispersed the crowd. The still more formidable insurrection of the 1st Prairial, 1795, in which the mob surrounded the convention both within and without from seven o'clock in the morning till two at night, for the purpose of enforcing a return to the reign of terror, was also suppressed by the courageous president, Boissy d'Anglas. From this time, the power of the Terrorists was no more. Many Jacobins died by their own hands; others were beheaded, imprisoned, or transported. By so much the stronger became the party of the royalists, who wished to have a king again; and when the new government was shortly after determined upon, by which the executive power was to be delivered to the Directory of five persons, the legislative power to a council of Ancients and a council of Five Hundred, the republican members of the Convention feared that in the new election they might be thrust aside by the royalists. They therefore made additions to the original charter of the constitution, wherein it was declared that two-thirds of the two legislative councils must be chosen from members of the Convention. The royalists raised objections to this and some other limitations of the freedom of election; and when these were unattended with success, they occasioned the insurrection of the Sections. Hereupon, the Convention made over to the Corsican, Napoleon Bonaparte, the suppression of the insurgent royalists, who were joined by all the enemies of the republic and of the revolution. The victory of the 13th Vendemiaire, (October 5, 1795,) which was fought in the streets of Paris, gave the supremacy to the republicans of the Convention, and the command of the Italian army to Napoleon, who was then twenty-six years of age, and who, a short time before, had married Josephine, the widow of General Beauharnais.

The French army in Savoy and on the frontiers of Italy was in a melancholy condition. The soldiers were in want of every thing. At this crisis, Napoleon appeared as their commander-in-chief, and in a short time contrived so to inspirit the desponding troops and attach them to his person, that under his guidance they cheerfully encountered the greatest dangers. Where the love of glory and the sentiment of honor were not sufficient, there the treasures of wealthy Italy served as a stimulous to valor. In April 1796, Napoleon defeated the octogenarian Austrian general, Beaulieu, at Nilesimo and Montenotte, separated, by this victory, the Austrians from the Sardinians, and so terrified the king, Victor Amadeus, that he consented to a disadvantageous peace, by which he surrendered Savoy and Nice to the French, gave up six fortresses to the general, and submitted to the oppressive condition of allowing the French army to march through his land at any time.

The course of Napoleon's victories in Upper Italy was equally rapid. After the memorable passage of the bridge of Lodi, he marched into Austrian Milan, subjected the Lombard towns, and so terrified the smaller princes by the success of his arms, that they were only too happy to make peace with the victor at any price. Napoleon extorted large sums of money, and valuable pictures, treasures of art and manuscripts, from the dukes of Parma, Modena, Lucca, Tuscany, etc.

Wurmser now took the place of the old Beaulieu. But he also was defeated at Castiglione, and afterwards besieged in Mantua. The army under Alvinzi that was sent to his relief sustained three defeats (at Arcola, Rivoli ' La Favorita), by which the whole Austrian force in Italy was destroyed, dispersed, or captured. This compelled the gallant Wurmser to deliver up Mantua to the glorious victor. Bonaparte, respecting the courage of his enemy, permitted a free retreat to the gray-headed marshal, his staff, and a part of the brave garrison. Pope Pius VI, terrified at these rapid successes, hastened to purchase the peace of Tolentino by cessions of territory, sums of money, and works of art. Archduke Charles now assumed the command of the Austrian army in Italy. But he also was compelled to a disastrous retreat, and was pursued by Bonaparte as far as Klagenfurt, with the view of falling upon Vienna. The emperor Francis, anxious for the fate of his capital, allowed himself to be persuaded by female influence to conclude the disadvantageous preliminary peace of Leoben, at the very moment when, by the non-arrival of the expected reinforcements, and the threatening movements of the Tyrolese, Styrians, and Carinthians, the position of the French army was becoming critical. About the time this treaty of peace was concluded, a popular insurrection arose in the rear of the French army, in the territory of the republic of Venice, in consequence of which many Frenchmen were murdered in Verona and its neighborhood, and even the sick and wounded in the hospitals were not spared. This was taken advantage of by Napoleon to destroy the Venetian republic.

The French marched into Venice, carried off the ships and the stores of the arsenal, robbed the churches, galleries, and libraries of their choicest ornaments and most valued treasures, and kept possession of the city till the negotiations with Austria were so far advanced, that the peace of Campo Formio (October 17, 1797), by which Upper Italy fell into the hands of France under the name of the Cisalpine Republic, was concluded. Austria, who by this peace also surrendered Belgium to the French republic, and consented to the cession of the left bank of the Rhine with Mayence, received the territory of Venice, together with Dalmatio, as a recompense for this loss. The princes, prelates, the nobles, who suffered by this abandonment of the farther Rhineland, were to be indemnified on the right bank of the river, and this as well as all other points relating to Germany, were to be settled at the Congress at Rastadt. Napoleon opened this congress himself, and then returned to Paris, where he was received with acclamation.

The expedition of Napoleon to Egypt and Syria, produced a fresh coalition of the three great European powers, Russia, England, and Austria, against France. Russia had been governed since the year 1796 by Paul, the eldest son of Catherine, a prince with a mind somewhat deranged, who cherished the bitterest hatred against the Revolution; and who, as a great admirer of the Order of Malta, to the Grand Mastership of which he had himself appointed, saw in the capture of that island by Napoleon, cause for war. England feared danger to her foreign possessions from the Egyptian expedition, and scattered money with a liberal hand to raise up fresh enemies against France. Austria was at variance with the directoral government, because the house of the French ambassador in Vienna, Bernadotte, had been broken open, and the tricolor flag torn down and burnt, without the Austrian government having afforded the required satisfaction. War was waged, at the same time, in Germany, in Italy, in Switzerland, and in the Netherlands.

After his disembarkation at Alexandria, the whole of the French fleet at Aboukir, owing to the carelessness of the admiral, was defeated and captured by the English naval hero, Nelson; and Napoleon was in consequence obliged to make arrangements for a longer stay. In July, he march ed from Alexandria through the Egyptian desert to Cairo. The distress of the army, unprovided with water or sufficient necessaries, in the burning heat, was very great. In the battle of the Pyramids, July 21st 1798, 'from the tops of which 4,000 years looked down upon the combatants,' the Mamalukes, who at that time swayed Egypt under the Turkish government, were defeated; whereupon Bonaparte marched into Cairo, and established a new government, police, and taxation, upon the European pattern, and ordered the curiosities of this wonderful land to be examined, and its monuments and antiquities to be collected and described, by the artists and men of learning who accompanied his army.

A dreadful insurrection broke out in Cairo, October 21st 1798, which could only be suppressed with difficulty by the superiority of European tactics, after nearly 6,000 Mahommedans had been slain. Napoleon made use of the victory to extort money, and then marched with his Turkish troops against Syria. After the conquest of Jaffa, where he ordered 2,000 Arnauts, whom he had a second time taken prisoners, to be shot as perjured, he proceeded to the siege of Jean d'Acre. It was there that the fortune of Napoleon met with its first rebuff. The Turks, provided with artillery by the English admiral, Sir Sidney Smith, repelled the assaults of the enemy, despite their wonderful valor. At the same time, a Turkish army threatened the European soldiers in the interior of the country. The former was, indeed, defeated and dispersed by Junot at Nazareth, and at Mount Tabor by Kleber; nevertheless, upon the plague breaking out among his troops, Napoleon found himself compelled to give up Acre and to commence a retreat. The horses were laden with the sick: the soldiers suffered the most dreadful privations; the dangers and the distresses of the war were frightful. Napoleon shared all the fatigues with the meanest of his army; he is even said to have visited a hospital filled with those sick of the plague. He again reached Cairo in June, and in the following month, defeated a Turkish army of three times his number, at Aboukir. A short time after this, he learned the disasters of the French in Italy from some newspapers; and the intelligence produced such. an effect upon him, that he determined upon returning to France. He quietly made his preparations for departure with the greatest expedition. After transferring the command of the Egyptian army to Kleber, Napoleon sailed from the harbor of Alexandria with two frigates and a few small transports, and about 500 followers, and, guided by the star of his fortunes, reached the coast of France undiscovered by the English, and landed at Frejus amidst the acclamations of the people.

Upon his arrival in Paris, Napoleon embraced the resolution of overthrowing the directoral government which had lost all authority and consideration. With this purpose, he made himself secure of the officers and troops that were in Paris, and consulted with Sieyes, one of the directors, and his own brother, Lucien Bonaparte, who had been elected president of the Five Hundred, on the means of carrying his plan into execution. Lucien transferred the sittings of the council to St. Cloud, for the purpose of bringing the members within the power of the soldiers. There, Napoleon first attempted to win over the members to his plans by persuasion; when he found that he could not succeed in this, but rather, that he was overwhelmed with threats and reproaches, he commanded his grenadiers to clear the room with leveled bayonets. The republicans, who presented a bold front to the danger, were at length compelled to yield to superior force, and sought their safety through the doors and windows. This done a commission of fifty persons was appointed to draw up a fresh constitution, November 9th 1799. Thus ended the violent procedure of the 18th Brumaire, in consequence of which Napoleon Bonaparte took the conduct of affairs into his own strong hands.

According to the consular constitution, the power of the state was divided in the following manner: - 1. To the Senate, which consisted of eighty members, belonged the privilege of selecting from the list of names sent in by the departments the members of the legislative power, and the chief officials and judges. 2. The legislative power was divided into the Tribunate, which numbered one hundred members, and whose office it was to examine and debate upon the proposals of the government; and the legislative bodies, who had only to receive or reject these proposals unconditionally. 3. The government consisted of three Consuls, who were elected for ten years. Of these Consuls, the first, Bonaparte, exercised the powers of government, properly so called; whilst the second and third Consuls (Cambacéres and Lebrun) were merely placed at his side as advisers. Bonaparte, as first Consul, surrounded himself with a state council and a ministry, for which he selected the most talented and experienced men. Talleyrand, the dexterous diplomatist, was minister of the exterior; the astute Fouché superintended the police; Berthier held the staff of general.

Bonaparte was at first engaged in reconciling the old with the new, in combining the results of the Revolution with the forms and manners of the monarchical period. But he very soon made known his preference for the ancient system, by the restoration of all the former arrangements and customs.

The reductions in the emigrant lists brought back many royalists to their homes, and the favor shown to them made them courteous and pliant in the service of the new court. Madame de Stael (daughter of Necker) collected, as in the old time, a circle of accomplished and illustrious men in her saloon. The vanity of the French favored Napoleon's efforts; when he instituted the Order of the Legion of Honor, republicans and royalists grasped eagerly at the new plaything of human weakness.

One of the first cares of the Consul was the restoration of Christian worship in the French churches. After he had abolished the republican festivals (10th August, 21st January), and introduced the observance of the Sabbath, negotiations were opened with the Roman court, which at length led to the conclusion of the Concordat. No less attention did Napoleon devote to the affairs of education; but he particularly patronized the establishments for practical science, as the Polytechnic School in Paris.

Repeated conspiracies against the life of the First Consul, sometimes undertaken by the republicans and sometimes by the royalists, were always followed by fresh restrictions and a more rigorous system of espionage. The most desperate undertaking of this kind was the attempt, by means of the so-called infernal machine, a cask filled with gunpowder, bullets, and inflammable materials, to blow up Bonaparte on his way to the operahouse, - an attempt which he escaped by the rapidity with which his coachman was driving, but which destroyed many houses and killed several people. In consequence of this atrocious deed, a great number of Jacobins were condemned to deportation, though it afterwards turned out that the plot was undertaken by the royalists. Still more dangerous and extensive were the conspiracies against Napoleon, when the office of Consul was conferred upon him for life by the voice of the people, with the privilege of naming his successor, (August 2, 1802). By this means, the Bourbons were cut off from the last hopes of a return, and the emigrants accordingly left no means untried of destroying him. The desperate George Cadoudal, and Pichegru, who were residing in England, allowed themselves to be employed as tools. They conveyed themselves secretly to France, but were discovered and arrested, with about forty confederates. Before their fate was decided, Napoleon allowed himself to be hurried into the commission of a revolting crime. It had been represented to him that the duke d'Enghien, the chivalrous grandson of the prince of Condé, was the soul of all the royalist conspiracies. Accordingly, this young nobleman, who was residing at Ettenheim, a small town of Baden, was seized at Napoleon's command, by a troop of armed men, conducted with the greatest haste through Strasburg to Paris, condemned to death by a hurried court-martial, and, despite a magnanimous defense, shot in the trenches of Vincennes.

The fate of the conspirators was shortly after decided upon. Pichegru had already died a violent death in prison, whether by his own hand or that of another is uncertain. George Cadoudal, with eleven confederates, ascended the guillotine. General Moreau, who was implicated, retired into voluntary banishment in America.