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nearly all his allies, Robespierre at last reached the pinnacle of Sovereign Power, June, 1794; but ere he could seat himself, Providence, as if in derision, hurled him precipitately into the same hideous gulf with his innumerable victims. For almost immediately, in the very "Committee of Public Safety" itself, jealousies. began to break out among his colleagues at his assumption of exclusive power.
The leaders of his party-the Mountain-in the Convention, aware that even the populace of Paris were murmuring against the daily useless slaughter of the guillotine, began also to protest against the prolongation of this horrible terrorism. Robespierre, to silence these symptoms of reaction, deliberately resolved to execute at once several Members of the Committee and some fifty Deputies of the Convention. The Club of the Jacobins, composed of desperate men, was devoted to him. The Commune, which had the government of Paris in its hands and controlled all its military force, was wholly under his sway. He little dreamt that the Convention, always so submissive, would dare to confront such formidable odds. All was ready for the new murders he had planned, when Robespierre appeared on the 26th July, 1794, in the Convention to demand the arrest of the Members he had doomed. To his amazement he found himself bearded and denounced on all sides. His crimes were enumerated, and his downfall demanded. He made great efforts to speak, but his voice was drowned in shouts of fury. Livid with rage, and foaming at the mouth, he attempted to speak during a momentary lull, but his voice failed. "It is the blood of Danton chokes thee," said a member. The Convention decreed his arrest, and that of his two allies, St.
Just and Couthon. The brutal Commandant of Paris, Henriot, and the Mayor of the Commune, were also taken into custody. Robespierre and his companions, however, were rescued by a force of the Commune which had called on the forty-eight Sections of Paris to send their military contingent to the Hôtel de Ville. It was a critical moment, but the Convention. displayed great energy and courage. They appointed a member, Barras, to command the troops that would support the Convention, and then sent deputations. to the various Sections to rally them for the law and the Convention. It was soon evident that the sanguinary despotism of Robespierre had lost its hold on the popular mind; for the citizen troops of the Sections refused to obey the Commune, and declared for the Convention. Robespierre and his satellites were ensconced in the Hôtel de Ville, and when the officers of the Convention entered, some jumped from the windows, whilst Robespierre attempted suicide. He was seized and executed the following day, together with twenty of his accomplices.*
* "When Robespierre ascended the fatal car, his head was enveloped in a bloody cloth, his color was livid, and his eyes sunk. When the procession came opposite his house it stopped, and a group of women danced round the bier of him whose chariot-wheels they would have dragged the day before over a thousand victims. Robespierre mounted the scaffold last, and the moment his head fell the applause was tremendous. In some cases the event was announced to the prisoners by the waving of pocket handkerchiefs from the tops of houses. HAZLITT.
"Robespierre was executed on the spot where Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette had suffered. He shut his eyes, but could not close his ears against the imprecations of the multitude. A woman, breaking from the crowd, exclaimed, 'Murderer of all my kindred! your agony fills me with joy. Descend to hell, covered with the curses of every mother in France!' When he ascended the scaffold, the executioner tore the bandage from his face; the lower jaw fell on his breast, and he uttered a yell which froze every heart with horror. For some minutes the frightful figure was held up to the multitude; he was then placed under the axe. 'Yes, Robespierre, there is a God,'
With the death of Robespierre, the blood-stained march of the Revolution was arrested.
In reviewing its career, it may be said that from July, 1789, when insurrection broke out in Paris, down to 1792, the Revolution achieved immense benefits for France. All the Reforms that her writers and statesmen had invoked were accomplished. The Feudal fabric was finally overthrown, and the monstrous oppression of centuries was suppressed and avenged. But then appeared a band of reckless Demagogues, who, for the sake of power, played on the passions of the populace, and stimulated them to horrible deeds. By these means, Marat became an idol, Danton a minister, and Robespierre a dictator. The punishment which overtook them all was the just penalty of their criminal ambition.
After the fall of Robespierre Supreme Power re
said a poor man, as he approached the lifeless body of one so lately the object of dread."-ALISON.
'On the very day of Robespierre's arrest, his adherent, Dumas, who was executed with him, had signed the warrant for putting sixty persons to death. In the confusion, no person thought of arresting the guillotine. They all suffered.” -Scorr's "Life of Napoleon."
"To the profound hypocrisy of Cromwell, he joined the cruelty of Sylla, without possessing any of the great military and political qualities of either of these ambitious adventurers. To observe the emphasis with which he boasted of having proclaimed the existence of the Supreme Being, one might have said that, according to his opinion, God would not have existed without him."-Annual Register, 1794.
"In the year 1785 he wrote an essay against the punishment of death, which gained the prize awarded by the Royal Society of Metz." -Quarterly Review.
"When Robespierre first appeared in the world he prefixed the aristocratical particle de to his name. He was entered at college as de Robespierre; he was elected to the States General as de Robespierre; but after the abolition of all feudal distinctions, he rejected the de, and called himself Robespierre.”—Quarterly Review.
"In the space of eight or ten days after the fall of Robespierre, out of ten thousand suspected persons, not one remained in the prisons of Paris."-LACRÈTELLE.
verted to the Convention. Under the impulse of outraged humanity, vigorous measures to repress the desperadoes who had converted France into a slaughter-house were adopted. The Revolutionary Tribunal was suppressed, and Fouquier Tinville executed. The wretch Carrier, who destroyed 32,000 people at Nantes, was also sent to the scaffold. The club of the Jacobins was closed; the surviving Members of Robespierre's "Committee of Public Safety" Safety" were tried, March, 1795, and transported; the Sections of Paris were disarmed; the churches restored to public worship.
Later in the year the young daughter of Louis XVI., afterwards Duchess of Angoulême, was given to the Austrians in exchange for certain prisoners. they had made. Her brother the Dauphin had died in prison.*
Having thus calmed the perturbed mind of Paris and of France, the Convention set to work constructing a Constitution. After discussing it for three
* "Simon who was entrusted with the bringing up of the Dauphin, had had the cruelty to leave the poor child absolutely alone : unexampled barbarity, to leave an unhappy and sickly infant eight years old in a great room, locked and bolted in, with no other resource than a broken bell which he never rang, so greatly did he dread the people whom its sound would have brought to him! He preferred wanting everything to the sight of his persecutors. His bed had not been touched for six months, and he had not strength to make it himself; it was alive with bugs and vermin still more disgusting. His linen and his person were covered with them. For more than a year he had no change of shirt or stockings; every kind of filth was allowed to accuinulate in his room. His window was never opened, and the infectious smell of this horrid apartment was so dreadful that no one could bear it. He passed his days wholly without occupation. They did not even allow him light in the evening. This situation affected his mind as well as his body, and he fell into a frightful atrophy."-DUCHESS D'ANGOULEME.
months, they decreed the adoption of the "Constitution of the Year III.," as it was called, August, 1795. By this instrument the Executive power was given to five persons called the "Directors." The Legislative power was divided between Two Chambers, -the one, called the "Council of the Ancients," composed of two hundred and fifty members; the other, the "Council of Five Hundred," consisting of that number. The Directory was entrusted merely with the execution of the laws passed by the two Councils; with the direction, not the declaration of war; with the negotiation, not the ratification of treaties; and the five persons of whom it was composed decided by a majority. The Councils were elected by Universal Suffrage in the second degree, and the Directory was nominated by the two Councils. The judicial authority was committed to Elective Judges. The Press was declared free, as well as all Religions, which were not to receive support from the State. The Constitution, however, totally ignored the claims of the towns of France to Municipal independence; they were all retained under the control of the Central Authority.
The Convention decreed that the new Legislative body should be composed of two-thirds of their own body, and that one new third only should be elected. They seemed to dread that an entirely new legislature would turn round, under the influence of reaction, and punish many of those Members who had taken so active a part in the excesses of the Revolution. The Decree ordering the re-election of two-thirds of the Convention gave great umbrage to its numerous enemies, and an agitation was set on foot with the cry, "We accept the Constitution and