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As all Delineation, in these ages, were it never so Epic, 'speaking itself and not singing itself,' must either found on Belief and provable Fact, or have no foundation at all (nor except as floating cobweb any existence at all),--the Reader will perhaps prefer to take a glance with the very eyes of eye-witnesses; and see, in that way, for himself, how it was. Brave Jourgniac, innocent Abbe Sicard, judicious Advocate Maton, these, greatly compressing themselves, shall speak, each an instant. Jourgniac's Agony of Thirty-eight hours went through 'above a hundred editions,' though intrinsically a poor work. Some portion of it may here go through above the hundred-and-first, for want of a better.
'Towards seven o'clock' (Sunday night, at the Abbaye; for Jourgniac goes by dates): 'We saw two men enter, their hands bloody and armed with sabres; a turnkey, with a torch, lighted them; he pointed to the bed of the unfortunate Swiss, Reding. Reding spoke with a dying voice. One of them paused; but the other cried Allons donc; lifted the unfortunate man; carried him out on his back to the street. He was massacred there.
'We all looked at one another in silence, we clasped each other's hands. Motionless, with fixed eyes, we gazed on the pavement of our prison; on which lay the moonlight, checkered with the triple stancheons of our windows.
'Three in the morning: They were breaking-in one of the prison-doors. We at first thought they were coming to kill us in our room; but heard, by voices on the staircase, that it was a room where some Prisoners had barricaded themselves. They were all butchered there, as we shortly gathered.
'Ten o'clock: The Abbe Lenfant and the Abbe de Chapt-Rastignac appeared in the pulpit of the Chapel, which was our prison; they had entered by a door from the stairs. They said to us that our end was at hand; that we must compose ourselves, and receive their last blessing. An electric movement, not to be defined, threw us all on our knees, and we received it. These two whitehaired old men, blessing us from their place above; death hovering over our heads, on all hands environing us; the moment is never to be forgotten. Half an hour after, they were both massacred, and we heard their cries.' (Jourgniac Saint-Meard, Mon Agonie de Trente-huit heures (reprinted in Hist. Parl. xviii. 103-135).)--Thus Jourgniac in his Agony in the Abbaye.
But now let the good Maton speak, what he, over in La Force, in the same hours, is suffering and witnessing. This Resurrection by him is greatly the best, the least theatrical of these Pamphlets; and stands testing by documents:
'Towards seven o'clock,' on Sunday night, 'prisoners were called frequently, and they did not reappear. Each of us reasoned in his own way, on this singularity: but our ideas became calm, as we persuaded ourselves that the Memorial I had drawn up for the National Assembly was producing effect.
'At one in the morning, the grate which led to our quarter opened anew. Four men in uniform, each with a drawn sabre and blazing torch, came up to our corridor, preceded by a turnkey; and entered an apartment close to ours, to investigate a box there, which we heard them break up. This done, they stept into the gallery, and questioned the man Cuissa, to know where Lamotte (Necklace's Widower) was. Lamotte, they said, had some months ago, under pretext of a treasure he knew of, swindled a sum of three-hundred livres from one of them, inviting him to dinner for that purpose. The wretched Cuissa, now in their hands, who indeed lost his life this night, answered trembling, That he remembered the fact well, but could not tell what was become of Lamotte. Determined to find Lamotte and confront him with Cuissa, they rummaged, along with this latter, through various other apartments; but without effect, for we heard them say: "Come search among the corpses then: for, nom de Dieu! we must find where he is."
'At this time, I heard Louis Bardy, the Abbe Bardy's name called: he was brought out; and directly massacred, as I learnt. He had been accused, along with his concubine, five or six years before, of having murdered and cut in pieces his own Brother, Auditor of the Chambre des Comptes at Montpelier; but had by his subtlety, his dexterity, nay his eloquence, outwitted the judges, and escaped.
'One may fancy what terror these words, "Come search among the corpses then," had thrown me into. I saw nothing for it now but resigning myself to die. I wrote my last-will; concluding it by a petition and adjuration, that the paper should be sent to its address. Scarcely had I quitted the pen, when there came two other men in uniform; one of them, whose arm and sleeve up to the very shoulder, as well as the sabre, were covered with blood, said, He was as weary as a hodman that had been beating plaster.
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The French Revolution -by- Thomas Carlyle