What a day, once more! Women are driven out: men storm irresistibly in; choke all corridors, thunder at all gates. Deputies, putting forth head, obtest, conjure; Saint-Antoine rages, "Bread and Constitution." Report has risen that the 'Convention is assassinating the women:' crushing and rushing, clangor and furor! The oak doors have become as oak tambourines, sounding under the axe of Saint-Antoine; plaster-work crackles, woodwork booms and jingles; door starts up;--bursts-in Saint-Antoine with frenzy and vociferation, Rag-standards, printed Proclamation, drum-music: astonishment to eye and ear. Gendarmes, loyal Sectioners charge through the other door; they are recharged; musketry exploding: Saint-Antoine cannot be expelled. Obtesting Deputies obtest vainly; Respect the President; approach not the President! Deputy Feraud, stretching out his hands, baring his bosom scarred in the Spanish wars, obtests vainly: threatens and resists vainly. Rebellious Deputy of the Sovereign, if thou have fought, have not we too? We have no bread, no Constitution! They wrench poor Feraud; they tumble him, trample him, wrath waxing to see itself work: they drag him into the corridor, dead or near it; sever his head, and fix it on a pike. Ah, did an unexampled Convention want this variety of destiny too, then? Feraud's bloody head goes on a pike. Such a game has begun; Paris and the Earth may wait how it will end.
And so it billows free though all Corridors; within, and without, far as the eye reaches, nothing but Bedlam, and the great Deep broken loose! President Boissy d'Anglas sits like a rock: the rest of the Convention is floated 'to the upper benches;' Sectioners and Gendarmes still ranking there to form a kind of wall for them. And Insurrection rages; rolls its drums; will read its Paper of Grievances, will have this decreed, will have that. Covered sits President Boissy, unyielding; like a rock in the beating of seas. They menace him, level muskets at him, he yields not; they hold up Feraud's bloody head to him, with grave stern air he bows to it, and yields not.
And the Paper of Grievances cannot get itself read for uproar; and the drums roll, and the throats bawl; and Insurrection, like sphere-music, is inaudible for very noise: Decree us this, Decree us that. One man we discern bawling 'for the space of an hour at all intervals,' "Je demande l'arrestation des coquins et des laches." Really one of the most comprehensive Petitions ever put up: which indeed, to this hour, includes all that you can reasonably ask Constitution of the Year One, Rotten- Borough, Ballot-Box, or other miraculous Political Ark of the Covenant to do for you to the end of the world! I also demand arrestment of the Knaves and Dastards, and nothing more whatever. National Representation, deluged with black Sansculottism glides out; for help elsewhere, for safety elsewhere: here is no help.
About four in the afternoon, there remain hardly more than some Sixty Members: mere friends, or even secret-leaders; a remnant of the Mountain- crest, held in silence by Thermidorian thraldom. Now is the time for them; now or never let them descend, and speak! They descend, these Sixty, invited by Sansculottism: Romme of the New Calendar, Ruhl of the Sacred Phial, Goujon, Duquesnoy, Soubrany, and the rest. Glad Sansculottism forms a ring for them; Romme takes the President's chair; they begin resolving and decreeing. Fast enough now comes Decree after Decree, in alternate brief strains, or strophe and antistrophe,--what will cheapen bread, what will awaken the dormant lion. And at every new Decree, Sansculottism shouts, Decreed, Decreed; and rolls its drums.
Fast enough; the work of months in hours,--when see, a Figure enters, whom in the lamp-light we recognise to be Legendre; and utters words: fit to be hissed out! And then see, Section Lepelletier or other Muscadin Section enters, and Gilt Youth, with levelled bayonets, countenances screwed to the sticking-place! Tramp, tramp, with bayonets gleaming in the lamp-light: what can one do, worn down with long riot, grown heartless, dark, hungry, but roll back, but rush back, and escape who can? The very windows need to be thrown up, that Sansculottism may escape fast enough. Money-changer Sections and Gilt Youth sweep them forth, with steel besom, far into the depths of Saint-Antoine. Triumph once more! The Decrees of that Sixty are not so much as rescinded; they are declared null and non-extant. Romme, Ruhl, Goujon and the ringleaders, some thirteen in all, are decreed Accused. Permanent-session ends at three in the morning. (Deux Amis, xiii. 129-46.) Sansculottism, once more flung resupine, lies sprawling; sprawling its last.
Such was the First of Prairial, 20th May, 1795. Second and Third of Prairial, during which Sansculottism still sprawled, and unexpectedly rang its tocsin, and assembled in arms, availed Sansculottism nothing. What though with our Rommes and Ruhls, accused but not yet arrested, we make a new 'True National Convention' of our own, over in the East; and put the others Out of Law? What though we rank in arms and march? Armed Force and Muscadin Sections, some thirty thousand men, environ that old False Convention: we can but bully one another: bandying nicknames, "Muscadins," against "Blooddrinkers, Buveurs de Sang." Feraud's Assassin, taken with the red hand, and sentenced, and now near to Guillotine and Place de Greve, is retaken; is carried back into Saint-Antoine: to no purpose. Convention Sectionaries and Gilt Youth come, according to Decree, to seek him; nay to disarm Saint-Antoine! And they do disarm it: by rolling of cannon, by springing upon enemy's cannon; by military audacity, and terror of the Law. Saint-Antoine surrenders its arms; Santerre even advising it, anxious for life and brewhouse. Feraud's Assassin flings himself from a high roof: and all is lost. (Toulongeon, v. 297; Moniteur, Nos. 244, 5, 6.)
Discerning which things, old Ruhl shot a pistol through his old white head; dashed his life in pieces, as he had done the Sacred Phial of Rheims. Romme, Goujon and the others stand ranked before a swiftly-appointed, swift Military Tribunal. Hearing the sentence, Goujon drew a knife, struck it into his breast, passed it to his neighbour Romme; and fell dead. Romme did the like; and another all but did it; Roman-death rushing on there, as in electric-chain, before your Bailiffs could intervene! The Guillotine had the rest.
They were the Ultimi Romanorum. Billaud, Collot and Company are now ordered to be tried for life; but are found to be already off, shipped for Sinamarri, and the hot mud of Surinam. There let Billaud surround himself with flocks of tame parrots; Collot take the yellow fever, and drinking a whole bottle of brandy, burn up his entrails. (Dictionnaire des Hommes Marquans, paras Billaud, Collot.) Sansculottism spraws no more. The dormant lion has become a dead one; and now, as we see, any hoof may smite him.
The French Revolution -by- Thomas CarlyleBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.