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Fighters of this section draw out; hear that the next Section does not; and thereupon draw in. Saint-Antoine, on this side the River, is uncertain of Saint-Marceau on that. Steady only is the snore of Dulness, are the Six Hundred Marseillese that know how to die! Mandat, twice summoned to the Townhall, has not come. Scouts fly incessant, in distracted haste; and the many-whispering voices of Rumour. Theroigne and unofficial Patriots flit, dim-visible, exploratory, far and wide; like Night-birds on the wing. Of Nationals some Three thousand have followed Mandat and his generale; the rest follow each his own theorem of the uncertainties: theorem, that one should march rather with Saint-Antoine; innumerable theorems, that in such a case the wholesomest were sleep. And so the drums beat, in made fits, and the stormbells peal. Saint-Antoine itself does but draw out and draw in; Commandant Santerre, over there, cannot believe that the Marseillese and Saint Marceau will march. Thou laggard sonorous Beer-vat, with the loud voice and timber head, is it time now to palter? Alsatian Westermann clutches him by the throat with drawn sabre: whereupon the Timber-headed believes. In this manner wanes the slow night; amid fret, uncertainty and tocsin; all men's humour rising to the hysterical pitch; and nothing done.
However, Mandat, on the third summons does come;--come, unguarded; astonished to find the Municipality new. They question him straitly on that Mayor's-Order to resist force by force; on that strategic scheme of cutting Saint-Antoine in two halves: he answers what he can: they think it were right to send this strategic National Commandant to the Abbaye Prison, and let a Court of Law decide on him. Alas, a Court of Law, not Book-Law but primeval Club-Law, crowds and jostles out of doors; all fretted to the hysterical pitch; cruel as Fear, blind as the Night: such Court of Law, and no other, clutches poor Mandat from his constables; beats him down, massacres him, on the steps of the Townhall. Look to it, ye new Municipals; ye People, in a state of Insurrection! Blood is shed, blood must be answered for;--alas, in such hysterical humour, more blood will flow: for it is as with the Tiger in that; he has only to begin.
Seventeen Individuals have been seized in the Champs Elysees, by exploratory Patriotism; they flitting dim-visible, by it flitting dim- visible. Ye have pistols, rapiers, ye Seventeen? One of those accursed 'false Patrols;' that go marauding, with Anti-National intent; seeking what they can spy, what they can spill! The Seventeen are carried to the nearest Guard-house; eleven of them escape by back passages. "How is this?" Demoiselle Theroigne appears at the front entrance, with sabre, pistols, and a train; denounces treasonous connivance; demands, seizes, the remaining six, that the justice of the People be not trifled with. Of which six two more escape in the whirl and debate of the Club-Law Court; the last unhappy Four are massacred, as Mandat was: Two Ex-Bodyguards; one dissipated Abbe; one Royalist Pamphleteer, Sulleau, known to us by name, Able Editor, and wit of all work. Poor Sulleau: his Acts of the Apostles, and brisk Placard-Journals (for he was an able man) come to Finis, in this manner; and questionable jesting issues suddenly in horrid earnest! Such doings usher in the dawn of the Tenth of August, 1792.
Or think what a night the poor National Assembly has had: sitting there, 'in great paucity,' attempting to debate;--quivering and shivering; pointing towards all the thirty-two azimuths at once, as the magnet-needle does when thunderstorm is in the air! If the Insurrection come? If it come, and fail? Alas, in that case, may not black Courtiers, with blunderbusses, red Swiss with bayonets rush over, flushed with victory, and ask us: Thou undefinable, waterlogged, self-distractive, self-destructive Legislative, what dost thou here unsunk?--Or figure the poor National Guards, bivouacking 'in temporary tents' there; or standing ranked, shifting from leg to leg, all through the weary night; New tricolor Municipals ordering one thing, old Mandat Captains ordering another! Procureur Manuel has ordered the cannons to be withdrawn from the Pont Neuf; none ventured to disobey him. It seemed certain, then, the old Staff so long doomed has finally been dissolved, in these hours; and Mandat is not our Commandant now, but Santerre? Yes, friends: Santerre henceforth,- -surely Mandat no more! The Squadrons that were to charge see nothing certain, except that they are cold, hungry, worn down with watching; that it were sad to slay French brothers; sadder to be slain by them. Without the Tuileries Circuit, and within it, sour uncertain humour sways these men: only the red Swiss stand steadfast. Them their officers refresh now with a slight wetting of brandy; wherein the Nationals, too far gone for brandy, refuse to participate.
King Louis meanwhile had laid him down for a little sleep: his wig when he reappeared had lost the powder on one side. (Roederer, ubi supra.) Old Marshal Maille and the gentlemen in black rise always in spirits, as the Insurrection does not rise: there goes a witty saying now, "Le tocsin ne rend pas." The tocsin, like a dry milk-cow, does not yield. For the rest, could one not proclaim Martial Law? Not easily; for now, it seems, Mayor Petion is gone. On the other hand, our Interim Commandant, poor Mandat being off, 'to the Hotel-de-Ville,' complains that so many Courtiers in black encumber the service, are an eyesorrow to the National Guards. To which her Majesty answers with emphasis, That they will obey all, will suffer all, that they are sure men these.
And so the yellow lamplight dies out in the gray of morning, in the King's Palace, over such a scene. Scene of jostling, elbowing, of confusion, and indeed conclusion, for the thing is about to end. Roederer and spectral Ministers jostle in the press; consult, in side cabinets, with one or with both Majesties. Sister Elizabeth takes the Queen to the window: "Sister, see what a beautiful sunrise," right over the Jacobins church and that quarter! How happy if the tocsin did not yield! But Mandat returns not; Petion is gone: much hangs wavering in the invisible Balance. About five o'clock, there rises from the Garden a kind of sound; as of a shout to which had become a howl, and instead of Vive le Roi were ending in Vive la Nation. "Mon Dieu!" ejaculates a spectral Minister, "what is he doing down there?" For it is his Majesty, gone down with old Marshal Maille to review the troops; and the nearest companies of them answer so. Her Majesty bursts into a stream of tears. Yet on stepping from the cabinet her eyes are dry and calm, her look is even cheerful. 'The Austrian lip, and the aquiline nose, fuller than usual, gave to her countenance,' says Peltier, (In Toulongeon, ii. 241.) 'something of Majesty, which they that did not see her in these moments cannot well have an idea of.' O thou Theresa's Daughter!
King Louis enters, much blown with the fatigue; but for the rest with his old air of indifference. Of all hopes now surely the joyfullest were, that the tocsin did not yield.
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The French Revolution -by- Thomas Carlyle