Изображения страниц
[blocks in formation]






THE student will now observe, how critical is the stage of affairs everywhere presented to his view. Let him suppose himself (as I have often recommended him to do) ignorant of the events, and nothing can be more interesting than the scene before him. War is declared, and the Austrians and Prussians are approaching. The wishes and the intentions of the king I have just exhibited to you, but how various were the chances against their accomplishment! These allied powers were to succeed: this was the first point necessary. To say nothing of La Fayette and the armies that were to be opposed to them in the field, what was in the meantime to be expected from the Girondists and Jacobins, the desperate men whom they had denounced; men of great talents, many of them, and all of them men of the most furious energy: in possession of the capital and of the populace, what prodigies of resistance, what outrages were not to be expected from them, what rage, what revenge, if they found the Prussians were to be successful; and how were the king and the queen to be protected, who would all this time be supposed the guilty traitors, that had caused the ruin of their country, and even preparing to inflict condign punishment upon them as rebels to their legitimate authority? And if, on the contrary, the Prussians were driven back, what chance for the monarchy and the king amid the exultations and triumphant uproar of a furious mob and their leaders, who had been insulted by invasion, as they would have said, and been brought themselves, their wives, and children, into the hazard of their lives, by the machinations of a tyrant and his blood-thirsty courtiers? But what hope, then, from the intermediate party, from La Fayette



and the Constitutionalists? Surely but little. How great were their difficulties! They were resolved, in the first place, to beat back the invaders of their country: so far they were united with the Girondists and Jacobins. But on this account they could little harmonize with the king, who did not exactly wish the allied powers driven back, though he meant them not to exercise any rule over his people. On the other hand, La Fayette and the Constitutionalists were entirely attached to the king and the monarchy, and so far could little harmonize with the Jacobins, who thought only, in the first place, of their own safety, and of the success of the Revolution, not at all of the king and the monarchy.

Nor was

In a conjuncture of circumstances so untoward, it was not easy for La Fayette and his friends to serve their country; for they had to keep the Jacobins in check, and to support the king, whilst they defeated the armies of the allied powers; and even then, they had to return and enforce the constitution. it, in the meantime, very easy for any one to decide, which of the two the army would obey, their general or their Legislative Assembly, if these authorities came to be opposed to each other; and again, whether by far the majority of the respectable part of the community were not tired of the Revolution and its horrors, and wishful only that the king might extricate himself fron all his various enemies and opponents, recover his power, and a limited monarchy be the result. All was uncertainty wherever a speculator turned his view; but all was apprehension and terror; all depended upon the efforts of the different parties, and each was furnished with his great principle and war-cry against his opponents. "It is the cause of freedom," said the Jacobins ; our Revolution shall not be put down; no despots, no tyrants; war, war!" In like manner said La Fayette and his friends, "No Prussians, no Austrians!" but again, "No Jacobins, no Anarchists! there is no hope for freedom where such men bear sway; down with these clubs, these hotbeds of sedition and confusion, of licentiousness and crimes; it is in vain that we oppose our enemies in the field; liberty has no enemies like those who are behind us in the capital!" "No Jacobins !" in like manner, said the court and the friends of the king; "but neither Jacobins nor Constitutionalists for us; there can be no government, no peace, no order, where either of these parties prevail; they are revolutionary-all; no Revolution! France has known no happiness since it began, nor ever will till it has ceased; the king, the king, vive le roi !-the cry and the

[ocr errors]

principle which has never wanted an echo and a refuge in the heart of every Frenchman that deserves the name."

Such were the different interests and views of the different parties of the state,-such was, alas! the unhappy situation to which the affairs of this great kingdom were at last brought; but what must have been the terror and anxiety of any intelligent man at the time! Good or bad, he would have said, the cause of this Revolution in France is the cause of freedom all over the world; let it not be put down, at least not by the interference of Prussians and Austrians: it has been disgraced by its supporters, but it must not be trampled down under the feet of armed soldiers, and those foreigners and invaders. But again, what hope for freedom from the triumphs of these Jacobins and their clubs, who seem to have no wish but to deride and destroy whatever has hitherto been an object of authority or respect amongst mankind? Such must have been, at the time, the anxieties of any philosophic reasoner; and even those who were less animated by any general sympathy with the interests of their fellow-creatures, must have been struck with the important events that were now pending. Were the Prussians and Austrians to reach Paris? Were the king and royal family to perish in the general confusion; to be massacred, or to escape? Was there to be a counter-revolution effected at once, or was there to be a civil war? Was Europe to catch fire, and the conflagration of France to become universal? Were these new opinions to reach every portion of the civilized world? Were other countries to exhibit similar scenes to those which had been already witnessed in France? These were practical questions rushing upon the thoughts of every man; and their solution entirely depended upon the turn which affairs might take at this particular moment, this month of June, 1792.

"You must observe, then, the conduct of the great parties, the measures that they pursued, and the memorable events that followed. You see the state of things: the foreign armies are advancing to put down the Revolution; the Girondists and Jacobins are furious to defend it; La Fayette and the Constitutionalists are determined, if possible, to save their country from all its enemies,-from the invaders on the one side, and the anarchists on the other; and the king and his confidential friends are waiting, if possible, to mediate between all parties, effect a counter-revolution, and establish a limited monarchy.

Now, I confess, that at this particular juncture the wishes and sympathies of the student ought, as it appears to me, to be

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »