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them !” The young conservative was a be their nature.” How accurately Chénier doomed man already.
| foresaw what would be the consequence of He goes on to say that such a deplor- giving in to these people may be seen from able state of things must be owing to the the following extract:machinations of some public enemies. Who are these enemies ? Not the Austrians,
“ Now, as I was saying, is it not evident that, fatigued and exhausted by their own wars ;
on the one hand, the workmen and day-laborers
of every class, who only live by constant and nor the English, “that nation about which
steady work, abandoning themselves to this the Parisians talk so much and know so turbulent indolence, will no longer be able to little ;"* nor yet the emigrants. These last gain a subsistence, and before long, stimulated have been influenced by fear, prejudice | by hunger, and the rage which hunger inspires, and ignorance. The surest way to bring
| will only think of seeking for money wherever them back and make them good citizens is
they imagine it may be found? On the other
hand, it is hardly necessary to say that the to present such a spectacle of order and
farms and workshops thus abandoned will cease tranquillity as will show them that their
to be capable of supplying that income of infears and prejudices are unfounded. But dividuals which alone makes the public income. even admitting their hostility, what can No more taxes then; consequently no more such a faction accomplish if the State is | public service; consequently the upper classes united ? And this leads to the first con reduced to misery and despair; the army disclusion, that the real public enemies are
banded and pillaging the country ; the infamy those causes which prevent the re-establish
of a national bankruptcy accomplished and de
clared; the citizens all in arms against each ment of public tranquillity. Now what are
other. No more taxes; consequently no more these causes? “Everything that has government; the National Assembly obliged to been done in this revolution, good or bad, abandon its task, and put to flight; universal is owing to writings : in them, perhaps, then, we shall find the source of the evils and individuals mutually accusing one another that threaten us." And, accordingly, he
of their common disasters; France torn to proceeds to show that these public enemies
| pieces by the convulsions of this incendiary
anarchy." are the encouragers and apologists of popular ercesses. After a hasty summary of
There was no want of respectable perthese excesses, he exclaims, with a natural
sons to laugh at these alarms and pity the and virtuous indignation—“And to think
alarmists. Chénier has a word for these :. that there are writers blood-thirsty or cowardly enough to come forward as the | “I should like these persons, for our entire protectors and excusers of these murders ! satisfaction, to deign to take pen in hand, and That they dare to abet them! That they prove that these fermentations, these tempests, dare to point out this and that victim! That these continued pangs, have not the tendency they have the audacity to give the name of which I attributed to them; that they do not popular justice to these horrible violations
produce a spirit of insubordination and want of of all justice and all law! To be sure,
discipline; or, if they please, that this spirit is
not the most formidable enemy of law and libthe power of hanging, like all other powers,
erty. I should like them also to show us what is ultimately referable to the people, but will become of France, if the bulk of the French it is a frightful thing, if this is the only people, wearied of their own indiscretions and power which they are not willing to exer the anarchy resulting from them, wearied of cise by their representatives.”
never arriving at the goal which they have Then follow several pages of just and
themselves continually put further off, should
come to believe that liberty is only to be found powerful invective against “ those people
in disgust of liberty, and, as the remembrance to whom all law is burdensome, all re
of former evils is readily effaced, should end straint insupportable, all rule odious; peo
by regretting their old yoke of quiet degradaple for whom an honest life is the most oppressive of yokes! They hated the old government, not because it was bad, but He proceeds to draw an important disbecause it was a government; they will tinction :hate the new; they will hate all, whatever
“These same persons are never tired of re
peating to us that things are preserved by the * Equally true this, at the present day. same means which have acquired them. If by
this they mean that courage, activity and union obedience to the caprices of despots is are as necessary to preserve liberty as to win called public order, under a free constituit, nothing is more incontrovertible or more irrel- |
tion founded on the national sovereignty, evant; but if they understand that in both cases
public order is the only safeguard of perthis courage, and activity, and union, are to manifest themselves in the same way and by
sons and property, the only support of the the same actions, they are very much mistaken.
constitution. The very contrary is the truth, for in destroy “That there is no constitution, unless all ing and overthrowing a colossal and unjust the citizens are freed from every illegal repower, the more ardent and headlong our cour- straint, and cordially united to bear the age the more certain our success. But after
yoke of the law—a yoke always light when wards, when our ground is cleared and we have to rebuild on extensive and durable foundations,
all bear it equally. when we must make after having unmade,
“ That every respectable nation respects then our courage should be the very reverse of
itself. what it was at first. It should be calm, pru- “ That every nation which respects itself dent and deliberate; it should manifest itself respects its own laws and magistrates. only in wisdom, tenacity and patience ; it should “That there is no liberty without law. fear to resemble those torrents which ravage | “That there is no law if one part of sociwithout fertilizing. Hence it follows that the means which accomplished the Revolution, if |
ety, be it the majority or not, can forcibly they continue to be employed without addition
assail and attempt to overthrow the former or qualification, can only destroy its efficiency general wish which has made a law, withby hindering the constitution from being estab- out waiting for the times and observing the lished. Hence again it follows that those wild forms indicated by the constitution. pamphleteers, those unruly demagogues, who, “That, as M. de Condorcet has very well enemies, as we have seen, of all government shown in a late publication, when the and all restraint, thundered against old abuses
constitution gives a legal way of reforming at the beginning of the Revolution, were then right enough,* for they found themselves for
| a law which experience has shown to be the moment united with all honest men in pro
faulty, insurrection against a law is the claiming the truths which have made us free; greatest crime of which a citizen can be but that now they ought not to claim our con guilty ; for he thereby dissolves society so fidence as a debt, or accuse our want of atten far as in him lies, and this is the real crime tion as a want of gratitude, while in using the
of treason. Aame expressions and the same declamations
“That there is no liberty if all do not against an absolutely new order of things, they are preaching an entirely different doctrine,
obey the law, and if any one is obliged to which would conduct us to a different end.” obey anything except the law and its
agents. What remedies and safeguards are to "That no one ought to be arrested, be adopted ? Popular errors are apt to searched, examined, judged, or punished, arise from ignorance, rather than deliberate except according to law and by the agents wickedness. The real principles of civil of the law. liberty must be carefully inculcated. Here “That the law is only applicable to acare some of the things which every citizen tions, and that all inquisitions upon opinought to know and feel :
ions and thoughts are no less violations of “That there can be no happiness and liberty when exercised in the name of the freedom in society without government and people, than when exercised in the name public order.
of tyrants.” “That there can be no private wealth, un- If these brief sentences had been writless the public revenue, or in other words, ten at the present day ; if they had apthe public wealth, is secure.
peared, for instance, in an article of the “That the public wealth cannot be secure Courier and Enquirer, or our own Review, without public order.
against the anti-renters, while it could not “ That, while in despotic states a blind be denied that they expressed sound polit
ical views in a bold and forcible manner, * An application of the same principle explains
it might be said that they contained nothwhat has puzzled some good men-how Protestants ing very striking or remarkable, but were may consistently join with skeptics in opposing the only a succinct and vigorous statement of abuses of the Romish Church, where Romanism is the prevailing religion.
what all honest and sane men believed.
But composed, as they were, at a period | expose the Jacobins in the Journal de when of the two great experiments whence Paris, a paper professedly neutral, and we derive most of our political experience, publishing communications on any side as the one was just beginning and the other paid advertisements, but edited by men of had not had time to work; a period when a conservative leaning. The Jacobins were the majority of reformers and philoso- not slow to answer their bold assailant. phers thought with Jefferson, that “the old | They set upon him his own brother, Maril system of government had been tried long Joseph, the youngest of the four, who had enough," and the only escape from it was by some means been inveigled into their to rush into the opposite extreme of no ranks. The discussion, which lasted sergovernment at all except the temporary eral months and was only broken off at the will of an occasional majority, they denote 'urgent entreaties of the rest of the family, uncommon sagacity and foresight, and displayed at the outset, but did not long prove that Chénier had the head of a preserve, the moderation and delicacy destatesman no less than the heart of a pa- | manded by the uncommon position of the triot. Most particularly worthy of notice parties. The two brothers all but O'Conis the clearness of his financial views, and nellized each other. They applied to each the accuracy with which he traced the other's writings the epithet of infamous, then connection between private and public a pet word in the vocabulary of the French wealth. It was then a favorite delusion, journalists, and more usually merited than that the nation might be bankrupt without such pet words generally are. How Joseph affecting the fortunes of individuals. The Chenier came to take sides with the Jacogreat hero and apostle of democratic des- bins, is not perfectly clear. It seems probapotism who rose out of the Revolution, fell ble that they flattered his vanity, and made into the contrary error of supposing that him half believe that his brother's opposi. the public treasury might continue to be tion was attributable to envy and jealousy. recruited by the appropriation of private For when most angry with Andre, his bitcapital, not seeing that, to use an ancient terest taunt is to remind him of the elecbut apposite illustration, he was thus killing tion for deputies. A very young man the goose that laid the golden eggs. It was among Democrats may be pardoned for reserved for a still more modern democracy supposing that office and honor are synonyto invent a still wiser and honester finan mous, and not reflecting that where merit cial expedient—that of repudiating the obli is no longer the test of advancement, the gations, while they enjoy the acquisitions, correlative mentioned by Sallust is unaof past generations.
voidable. * The Avis au Francais made a great If, however, the leading Jacobins supsensation, which was not confined to France. posed, that by getting up this personal issue Two circumstances will show the extent they had succeeded in diverting or weakand force of its influence. The Polish king ening Andre Chenier's attacks upon them, Stanislaus Augustus, caused it to be trans- | they were very much mistaken. In the lated into his language, and sent a token winter of 1792, an event occurred, which, of his esteem to the author, who returned by eminently exposing them to his ridicule. a letter of thanks : of course, the friends of specially marked him out for their venthe Constitution were still more amiably geance. Two years before, a Swiss regidisposed to him, after this royal correspond- ment had been condemned to the galleys ence. And Condorcet, finding that he for mutiny. Their offences were gross and could no longer take the lead in the Society unequivocal : they had refused to swear to of 1789, broke up that association so far the Constitution, plundered the regimental as lay in his power, and went straight over chest, and fired upon the National Guard. to the Jacobins. Chenier's reputation | But General Bouillé, against whom they emboldened him to present himself in the then revolted, had now proved a traitor to following year, (1791,) as a candidate
* “Verum ex his magistratus et imperia, postremo for the assembly ; but, as might have been
omnis cura rerum publicarum minime mihi hac predicted of a man so independent and so tempestate capiunda videntur quoniam neque virmuch beyond his age, he was unsuccess
tuti honos datur, neque illi quibus per fraudem is
fuit, utique tuti aut eo magis honesti sunt."-Sallust, ful. After this he continued to attack and Bell. Jug.,Cap. 3.
the popular cause. In a fit of childish I and to threaten him with assassinationspite against him, the Swiss were par- two excellent radical arguments. doned ; on motion of Collot d'Herbois, the Chénier had already drawn a portrait of amnesty was changed into a triumph ; a the Jacobin Club, too faithful not to profète was given to the liberated culprits, and voke their fiercest indignation. This sketch Pétion, as mayor of Paris, presided at it. was published in the supplement to the The intense absurdity of the affair threw Journal de Paris, February 26, 1792, just into the shade its injustice and danger ; a month before the letter from which we and Chenier was not the man to let any of | have been quoting :this absurdity be lost. He satirized and ridiculed the Jacobins in prose and verse..
“There exists in the midst of Paris a He sketched a plan for the new ovation :
numerous association, holding frequent meet
ings, open to all who are, or pretend to be, · The Romans used to engrave on brass the
patriots, always governed by leaders visible or names of those generals to whom they granted
invisible, who are continually changing and a triumph, and their titles to so great an honor.
mutually destroying one another, but who have I suppose the city of Paris will follow this ex
always the same object-the supreme power; ample, and the happy witnesses of the trium
and the same intention—to get that power by phal entry will read inscribed on the car of vic
whatever means. This society, formed at a tory :
moment when liberal principles, though sure to 6. For having revolted with arms in their
triumph, were not yet completely established, hands, and replied to the reading of the Na
necessarily attracted a great number of citizens tional Assembly's decree which recalled them
who were filled with alarm and warmly attachto their duty,' that they persisted in their revolt;' |
ed to the good cause. Many of these had more 66. For having been declared guilty of high rea
zeal than knowledge. With them glided in son by a decree of the National Assembly, Aug.
| many hypocrites; so did many people who 16, 1790;
were in debt, without industry, poor through 6* For having plundered the regimental chest;
their own indolence, and seeing something to “For having spoken these memorable words :
hope for in any change. Many wise and just We are not Frenchmen ; we are Swiss ; we must
| men who know that in a well regulated State have money ;
all the citizens do not attend to public affairs, “ . For having fired upon the National Guards of
while all ought to attend to their private affairs, Metz and other places, who marched to Nancy
have since retired from it; whence it follows in accordance with the decrees of the National
that this association must be chiefly composed Assembly,'"
of some skilful players, who arrange the cards And he proceeds, with unanswerable
and profit by them, of some subordinate in
triguers with whom an habitual eagerness for irony :
mischief takes the place of talent, and a large “ General Bouillé deceived all France and
number of idlers, honest, but ignorant and its representatives. None but these Swiss sol
short-sighted, incapable of any bad intention diers penetrated his bad designs. They saw
themselves, but very capable of forwarding the that he would take the first opportunity to be
bad intentions of others without knowing it. come a perjured traitor. Accordingly they
“ This society has generated an infinity of took up arms against him, and made sure of
others; towns, boroughs, and villages are full the regimental chest, for fear this money, falling
of them. They are almost all under the orders into his less patriotic hands, should serve the
of the parent society, with which they keep up purposes of the counter-revolutionists.
a most active correspondence. It is a body in "Since General Bouillé has shown himself a
Paris and the head of a larger body extending cowardly and treacherous enemy of his country,
over France. In the same way did the Church it is clear that those who fired on him, and on
of Rome plant the faith, and govern the world the French citizens marching under his orders
by its congregations of monks. by virtue of a decree of the National Assembly,
“This system was imagined and expected two cannot but be excellent patriots.
years ago by men of great popularity, who saw “In every criminal case there can be but one
very well that it was a means of increasing culpable party. For example, when a murdered
their power and preserving their popularity, but man is proved to have been a rogue, it is evident
did not see how perilous an instrument it was. that his murderer must be an honest man.”
So long as they ruled these societies, all the
errors there committed met their warmest The only reply Collot d'Herbois and
approbation ; but since they have been blown his myrmidons could make, was to charge detest the excesses which are no longer to their
| up by this mine of their own kindling, they Chénier with being hired by the Court, profit, and, talking more truth without possess
ing more wisdom, combine with honest men in to the letter, but, as in all ages profoundly recursing their old master-piece.
ligious men have observed that the heart is the "The audience before which these societies true altar where the Deity chooses to be honordeliberate, constitutes their strength; and when ed, and that internal adoration is a thousand one considers that men of business do not neg- times more valuable than all the pomp of a lect their affairs to listen at the debates of a magnificent worship intrusted to a small numclub, and that men of intelligence prefer the ber of persons, and confined to certain places silence of the closet, or the peaceable conver by express consecration, we may say that fear sation, to the tumult and clamors of these noisy had never more truly altars erected to it, than crowds, it is easy to see what must be the or now in Paris; that it was never honored with a dinary composition of the audience, and further, more general worsbip; that this whole city is what sort of language is the best recommenda- | its temple ; that all respectable people have betion to them. One simple fallacy is all-suffi- come its pontiffs, offering to it the daily sacrifice cient: the constitution being founded on that of their opinions and their conscience." eternal truth, the sorereignty of the people, it is
The mob commit excesses; personal only necessary to persuade the listeners at the club that they are the people.
privacy and personal liberty are invaded ; "Lecturers and journal-mongers have gen the respectable people say nothing against erally adopted this definition. Some hundred | it or about it, “ for fear of being called vagabonds collected in a garden or at a play, I aristocrats." or some gangs of robbers and shop-lifters, are impudently denominated the people ; and never
“ The simple sound of this word aristocrat did the most wanton despot receive from the
stupefies the public man, and attacks the very most eagre courtier adoration so vile and dis
principle of motion in him. He wishes the gusting, as the base flattery with which two or
success of the good, with all his heart; he is three thousand usurpers of the national sove
making zealous exertions that way, and would reignty are every day intoxicated-thanks to the
sacrifice all his fortune to it; in the midst of writers and speakers of these societies!
his action, let him near those four fatal sylla"As the semblance of patriotism is the only
bles pronounced against him, and he trembles, profitable virtue, some men who have been
he grows pale, the sword of the law falls from stigmatized by their disgraceful lives run to the
his grasp. Now it is clear enough, that Cicero club to get a reputation for patriotism, by the
will never be anything better than an aristocrat, violence of their discourses, founding on their
to take Clodius or Cataline's word for it: if, riotous declamations, and the passions of the
then, Cicero is afruid, what will become of us?” multitude, oblivion of the past and hope for the It must be plead, however, in excuse for future, and redeeming themselves from dis
these respectable people who said nothing grace by impudence. At the clubs are daily
| for fear of being called aristocrals, that proclaimed, sentiments and even principles or year, being called arist which threaten the fortunes and the property of they had pretty urgent motives for silence. al). Under the names of forestalling and mo- | To be unpopular at that day, was to have nopoly, industry aud commerce are represented your head cut off: the terms were conas crimes. Every rich man passes for a pub- vertible. There are many among us, to lic enemy. Neither honor nor reputation is
| whom such reproaches are infinitely more spared; odious suspicions and unbridled slan
applicable, men who will not lift up their der are called liberty of opinion. He who demands proof of an accusation, is a suspected
| voices against some popular abuse or inman, an enemy of the people. At the clubs, l justice or prejudice, for fear of being every absurdity is admired, if it be only mur- called federalist or aristocrat; although, derous-every falsehood cherished, if it be only thank God! to call a man federalist or atrocious. * * * * * * Sometimes, in- 1 aristocrat neither knocks him on the head deed, guilty parties are assailed, but they are
nor even takes a cent out of his pocket. assailed with a violence, a ferocity, and an un
And when we hear a man complaining of fairness that make them appear innocent."
the tyranny of the majority and popular inAbout the same time, its exact date
limidation because his independent conand the medium of its publication are un
duct has caused his fellow-townsmen to certain,) Chénier wrote The Altars of
refuse him their voices at an election, or Fear, a sort of last appeal to the lovers
made some honest editor afraid to publish of good order. Its title alludes to the
his communications, we would just refer practice of the ancients, who made fear a
him to Chenier, who was putting his neck divinity, and erected altars to him. under the axe every time he took pen in
hand. * To be sure, we have not yet imitated them! The momentous tenth of August came,