« AnteriorContinuar »
of a plot.
ful body of troops were sent for, rigid democrats at this time, had which brought them to submission, assumed the name of a famous reThe legion was disbanded, and dis- publican of old, Gracchus, thereby persed into the communes to which to denote his inflexible adberence the men belonged.
to the popular cause,
He was a This proved a measure of the most man of parts, in the exercise of fortunate policy. Incensed at the which nothing was able to daunt proceedings of government against him. The other chief actor in this them, the jacobins had formed one of conspiracy, the celebrated the most daring and deeply-planned Drouet, the post-master of Varenconspiracies that had yet taken place nes, who stopped the unfortunate among the many which had marked Lewis XVI. in bis flight; and, as a this eventful revolution.
reward of his fidelity to the nation, conducted with the profoundest se- was elected a member of the concresy. The conspirators never met vention. Having fallen into the twice in the same place; and it was bands of the Austrians, and suffered hardly possible to trace their mo- a long and severe imprisonment in tions, though their leaders constant. Germany, he had acquired a populy assembled every day, and govern- larity which recommended him so ment was apprised of the existence strongly to the people of his own
district, that tbey elected him a de. The minister of police, Merlin, of puty to the legislative body, when Douay, a name well known, being ihe new constitution was formed. either inactive or lukewarm in this The other principal authors of ibis affair, another man was placed in conspiracy were general Rossignol, his office, of more activity and zeal. notorious for his cruelties in La This was Cochon, who exerted hin- Vendée; Julian, a confidential agent self with so inuch care and dili. of Roberspierre; Amar, a noted gence, that the haunts of the con- associate of that tyrant ; Laignelot, spirators were at length discovered, a man of abilities, and a member of and most of the principal ones ar- the late convention. rested.
The plan of the conspirators, as The conspiracy was to have been laid by ihe directory before the two carried into execution upon the ele- councils, was massacre these venth of May, and the discovery of three bodies, the field officers of the this design was not made till the Parisian military, and the constitut. ninth. On the morning of the ed authorities of Paris, and to give up tenth, the directory informed the the citizens to plunder and slaughter. two councils of the particulars of From the papers that were seized, this conspiracy, which was in every it appeared ihat they had formed respect a most dreadful and danger. a complete scheme of government. ous one. Two men were at the The legislature was to have consist. head of it, equally noted for their ed of about seventy of those memboldness and resolution. The one bers of the late convention, who was Babeuf, from whom it took its had not been re-elected ; of a deputy name. This man, conformably to from each of the provincial departthe custom prevailing among the ments; and of some of the deputies
to the present legislature, whom they periods of the revolution, have too looked upon as favourable to their fatally evinced, that the shedding of desigos.
blood was become so familiar a scene The insurrection itself was con- in France, and that the spirit of as. certed with great foresight and re- sassination was so prevalently difgularity. At the sound of a bell, fused among surprising nunibers, rung every morning in each of the that this horrid project would, in all sections, as a notice to cleanse the likelihood, have been executed as Streets, the conspirators were to unreluctantly as others had been, distribute themselves into knots of and that its framers would not have four or five, and each of these to been disappointed for want of hands proceed to the houses of those they to perpetrate the horrors they had had marked for destruction. Hav: in contemplation. ing dispatched these, they were all Babeuf, the chief contriver of this to meet at an appointed place, atrocious plot, boldly acknowledged whence they were to march in force himself the author of the treasonable to the palace of the directory, whom writings found in his possession. they were to put to death in the When required to denounce bis acsame manner.
complices, he answered, that they If reports may be credited, a still little understood his character who more atrocious plan remained to be thought him capable of betraying executed, after completing the fore his friends. He continued,, from mer. A secret directory, composed his prison, to set the directory at of four persons, was to have a num- defiance, and to address them on a ber of confidential agents under footing of perfect equality. their orders; who were, after the wrote a long letler,' dictated by insurrection had succeeded, to bave phrenzy as much as by firmness, murdered as many of their own wherein he told them, that it was party as were pointed out to them by not in their power to prevent the these directors, in order thereby to insurrection intended against them, get rid of those who, not being ac- which he dignified by the epithet quainted with their ultimate designs, of boly, threatening them with would probably have opposed them. death unless they retraced their So carefully had they provided against proceedings against him and his discovery, that numbers of the actors party, and promising, if they acted in this terrible tragedy were not to becomingly, a share in the new gohave known any but their immedi. vernment. ate employers, who were themselves Whatever might be the motives to be dispatched, if any of those that influenced government, the agents were either to be dicovered trial of the conspirators was unacand seized, or to betray them.
countably delayed. The council of It has been a matier of much five hundred did not vote the im. doubt
, whether a conspiracy of so peachment of Drouet until the borrible a nature could have been eighth of July following, when it brought to a complete execution, was negatived by fifty-eight against bad circumstances been ever $u fa- one hundred and forty, a proof that vourable to the conspiratorse, Buc he had a ptrong party in that house. ihe antecedent massacres, at several About a monili after, he escaped
from his confinement, through the ever, it was plain, afforded no relief connivance, it was suspected, of the to the possessor. government. But his associate, Ba. The chief obstacle to these and to beuf, was not so fortunate. He was the other pecuniary arrangements, tried by the high criminal court at respecting the estates of emigrants, Vendome, which condemned him to was the difficulty of finding puso death.
chasers for the lands that had been Great and unfeigned was the sa- declared national properly. Many tisfaction of the public at the dis- individuals, though warmly adher. covery and suppression of this san- ing to the republic, reprobated the guinary plot. The jacobins became confiscation of property on any premore than ever the objects of gene. text, while no misdemeanor was imral execration. The extermination putable 10 the proprietor; who, of all who rejected their principles while obedient to the laws, could seemed a fundamenial maxim of not, without manifest injustice, be that inexorable faction. Their in. punished for the misdeeds of others. flexible resolution and perseverance The sale of confiscated estates, met in their projects, which, had they also with perpetual obstructions from been attended with bumapily, might the scruples infused into the minds have rendered them respectable, of numbers by the nonjuring clergy; only tended to excite a dread and who explicitly denounced damnaabhorrence of them. Thus, they tion to those who purchased them. were viewed by the generality as Hence a large proportion of national the pests of the community ; and a lands remained unsold, to ibe great speedy riddance of them became the inconvenience of the government, wish of all but those who were in- in its want of those sums that would volved in the criminal intrigues. bave been produced by the disposal
It was not with the same facility of them. that government was able to crush This interference of the nonjurthe advocates of the persecuted ing clergy, in a matter of so much royalists. A seizure of those estates, importance to the ruling powers, which were
to devolve to emi. could not fail to increase their ba. grants on the demise of the actual tred to that order of men. They possessor, had been decreed by the accused ihem of contributing council of five hundred, and reject to the detriment of the state, by their ed by that of elders. The decree bigotry, than its foreign enemies excepted only that portion which had done by their arms. They perby law was to remain with the pre- verted the dispositions of the weak sent possessor.
It was warmly op- and the ignorant, by intimidating posed, as too rigorously intrenching them with arguments founded upon upon the rights of private property; falsehoods and absurdities. The un, but, after long and violene debates
, happy propensity of unenlightened it was decreed that, instead of a di- minis io superstition gave rect seizure, that moiety should be astics so decided an ascendancy levied for the use of the state which them, that, unless they were checked the legislature had already appro- by the must effectual restraints, they priated to that purpose. This, how would progressively become the ab
solute dictators of society. This perfections, the nation had enjoyed was undeniably an evil of such much more tranquillity and satisenormity, that all reasonable men faction, than it had known since the would concur in the necessity of introduction of the present system. obviating it by every means that The principal allegation against appeared indispensibly requisite. the soundness of the principles, on The only expedient that seemed 10 which the successive rulers of the promise efficacy was to interdict republic bad conducted themselves, every individual of that profession was the shameful negligence of from interfering in political matters, which they had all in their turn either directly or indirectly, under been guilty, in deferring upwards the severest penalties. Such was of three years the inquiry into the the language of the staunch friends murders committed in September, to the republican system, and to that 1792. These were universally refreedom of thought upon all sub- probated by all parties: they had jects, which now characterised so covered the French nation with disoumerous a part of the French na- grace, and exposed it to the abtion,
horrence of all Europe ; and they While the French government still remained unpunished and unand its adherents were complaining investigated. Of those who had of the undue influence of the re- been the reputed authors and frectory clergy, these retorted the abetiors ; some indeed were representations made to their disad- more, but others remained, who vantage, by appealing to the peo- were happily divested of the power ple, on the little justice they had to of opposing the course of justice. expect from men, so many of whom These reproaches bore bard upon disregarded those principles on government, and it found itself unwhich alone the morality of man- able to stem the torrent of complaint kind, and their integrity in the most against the long and scandalous essential transactions of society, are neglect of executing that justice usually founded. These principles upon the criminals, which they so were those of religion, without which fully deserved.
A tribunal was little contidence could be placed in erected, in May, before which their each other by the generality of men, trials began upon the twenty sixth. wbo bad neither abilities nor lei- Several of those arraigned before it sure to argue themselves into vir- were sentenced to die, and others to tve and honesty by philosophical be imprisoned : but as it appeared Teasonings, and were much more that the generality had been the mere easily kept in good order by those tools of others, and had been impelled precepts and doctrines that had to the commission of those enor. been established and respected dur. mities, through mistaken zeal, and ing so many ages, than by the max- an erroneous per-casion that they ims and opinions lately introduced. were avenging their country, in The clear and visible consequence compassion to their ignorance, they of these had been the embroilment were acquitted of evil' intentions, of the public in continual feuds, and pardoned. and the overturning of a govern.
These acquittals were so many, meat, under which, with all its im. and the punishments so few, com
paratively paratively to what had been ex- and exertions of government: this pected, and loudly demanded, that was the department of the finances, ihe public was entirely disappoini. which having, since the foundation ed: the more indeed, that some,who of the republic, been supported by were deemed the principal promo. the most extraordinary and unpreceters of those criminal transactions, dented means, were now beginning found means to escape the venge- to tutter, and to threaten instant ance of the law.
ruin. Before this tribunal were also The credit, at first given to the brought those citizens of Paris, who assignats, had long been gradually had taken up arms to oppose that falling, and ihey were now become decree of the convention, by which of no value. It was therefore intwo-thirds of its members were to dispensible to replace them by a be returned deputies to the new currency of more estimation. The legislature. Lenity being now, specie of the nation was either bid. to use a very common phrase, be- den by those who would not part come the order of the day, tbey with their boards, or in those avawere acquitted, to the great joy of ricious hands that had accumulated their fellow citizens, who now sin. it for the purpose of swelling is cerely repented the violent measures value in pecuniary transactions with they had been persuaded 10 adopt those who wanted it. The means upon that occasion, through the in- of bringing it forth, in the ordinary trigues of men who had much occurrences of society, were studimore in view, the attainment of ously sought, but could not be found, their private ends, than the pub- while thoscierrors and uncertainties lie objects which they pretended to continued, that made every man have so much at beari.' These, the 'tremble for his property. The estapeople of Paris were al present
blishment of the new constitution cunvinced, would have been much was beginning iq remove these apmore effecrually accomplished by prehensions : but they still retained the steady and persevering strength much of their influence, and the of argument and remonstrance, in scarcity of hard money was still an which they would have probably universal complaint. been gradually joined by multitudis In order to remedy the depreciation in all the departments. But had and indeed the inutility of assignats, they failed in ihese endeavours, still government procured the passing ofa ihey would not bave been the dupes decree, on the 25th of March, which and victims of private ambition, it hoped might tend to expedite the and shed their blood for men wbo, sale of the national property in lands. Jike most aspiring characters, would, Twenty-two years purchase was the if successful, bave forgotten their price at wbich they had been fised services, and repaid them with in.. since the year 1790, when the nagratitude.
cjonal assembly fist had recourse to Aller having thus, in some de- this method of supplying the wants gree, satisfied the demands of the of the state. By the decree now nasion, the directory now turned 11s passed, a new fabrication of paper attention to a business which re- money was issued, to the amount of quired inore than ever the cares (wo thousand fuur hundred millions