Many things invite to flight: but probably this thing above all others, that it has become impossible! On the 15th of April, notice is given that his Majesty, who has suffered much from catarrh lately, will enjoy the Spring weather, for a few days, at Saint-Cloud. Out at Saint-Cloud? Wishing to celebrate his Easter, his Paques, or Pasch, there; with refractory Anti-Constitutional Dissidents?--Wishing rather to make off for Compiegne, and thence to the Frontiers? As were, in good sooth, perhaps feasible, or would once have been; nothing but some two chasseurs attending you; chasseurs easily corrupted! It is a pleasant possibility, execute it or not. Men say there are thirty thousand Chevaliers of the Poniard lurking in the woods there: lurking in the woods, and thirty thousand,-- for the human Imagination is not fettered. But now, how easily might these, dashing out on Lafayette, snatch off the Hereditary Representative; and roll away with him, after the manner of a whirlblast, whither they listed!--Enough, it were well the King did not go. Lafayette is forewarned and forearmed: but, indeed, is the risk his only; or his and all France's?
Monday the eighteenth of April is come; the Easter Journey to Saint-Cloud shall take effect. National Guard has got its orders; a First Division, as Advanced Guard, has even marched, and probably arrived. His Majesty's Maison-bouche, they say, is all busy stewing and frying at Saint-Cloud; the King's Dinner not far from ready there. About one o'clock, the Royal Carriage, with its eight royal blacks, shoots stately into the Place du Carrousel; draws up to receive its royal burden. But hark! From the neighbouring Church of Saint-Roch, the tocsin begins ding-donging. Is the King stolen then; he is going; gone? Multitudes of persons crowd the Carrousel: the Royal Carriage still stands there;--and, by Heaven's strength, shall stand!
Lafayette comes up, with aide-de-camps and oratory; pervading the groups: "Taisez vous," answer the groups, "the King shall not go." Monsieur appears, at an upper window: ten thousand voices bray and shriek, "Nous ne voulons pas que le Roi parte." Their Majesties have mounted. Crack go the whips; but twenty Patriot arms have seized each of the eight bridles: there is rearing, rocking, vociferation; not the smallest headway. In vain does Lafayette fret, indignant; and perorate and strive: Patriots in the passion of terror, bellow round the Royal Carriage; it is one bellowing sea of Patriot terror run frantic. Will Royalty fly off towards Austria; like a lit rocket, towards endless Conflagration of Civil War? Stop it, ye Patriots, in the name of Heaven! Rude voices passionately apostrophise Royalty itself. Usher Campan, and other the like official persons, pressing forward with help or advice, are clutched by the sashes, and hurled and whirled, in a confused perilous manner; so that her Majesty has to plead passionately from the carriage-window.
Order cannot be heard, cannot be followed; National Guards know not how to act. Centre Grenadiers, of the Observatoire Battalion, are there; not on duty; alas, in quasi-mutiny; speaking rude disobedient words; threatening the mounted Guards with sharp shot if they hurt the people. Lafayette mounts and dismounts; runs haranguing, panting; on the verge of despair. For an hour and three-quarters; 'seven quarters of an hour,' by the Tuileries Clock! Desperate Lafayette will open a passage, were it by the cannon's mouth, if his Majesty will order. Their Majesties, counselled to it by Royalist friends, by Patriot foes, dismount; and retire in, with heavy indignant heart; giving up the enterprise. Maison-bouche may eat that cooked dinner themselves; his Majesty shall not see Saint-Cloud this day,--or any day. (Deux Amis, vi. c. 1; Hist. Parl. ix. 407-14.)
The pathetic fable of imprisonment in one's own Palace has become a sad fact, then? Majesty complains to Assembly; Municipality deliberates, proposes to petition or address; Sections respond with sullen brevity of negation. Lafayette flings down his Commission; appears in civic pepper- and-salt frock; and cannot be flattered back again;--not in less than three days; and by unheard-of entreaty; National Guards kneeling to him, and declaring that it is not sycophancy, that they are free men kneeling here to the Statue of Liberty. For the rest, those Centre Grenadiers of the Observatoire are disbanded,--yet indeed are reinlisted, all but fourteen, under a new name, and with new quarters. The King must keep his Easter in Paris: meditating much on this singular posture of things: but as good as determined now to fly from it, desire being whetted by difficulty.
The French Revolution -by- Thomas Carlyle