Page images
[ocr errors]

by the emissaries of the National Convention, to petition for the death of the King, they replied, almost with one voice, “ No: We have sworn, with all France, to maintain the new constitution with all our might. That constitution declares, that no crime whatsoever shall affect the life of the King. For any thing we have yet seen or heard, we believe him innocent of every crime which has been laid to his charge. The mode of his trial is unprecedented in the annals of injustice, the Convention being at once accuser, evidence, and judge. We believe him perfectly innocent; but whether he be or not, the constitution that we have, by a solemn oath, bound ourselves to maintain with all our might, declares, that no crime whatever shall be construed to affect his

We will not demand. The rest of the nation may sport with engagements which they have called the ALMIGHTY to witness; they may add the crime of assassination to that of perjury; they may stain themselves with the blood of their innocent and unfortunate prince; the Lyonese never will."

This was an answer full of good sense, justice, piety, and honour.

What, however, was the consequence? The Convention immediately vowed


A numerous army prepared. Siege was laid to the city. Ten thousand of the inhabitants defended it for sixty days against fifteen times their number, though it had neither magazines nor fortifications. Thirty thousand men were slain without the city. Provisions failed within. A capitulation was proposed by the besieged. The besiegers, however, knowing the extremity to which the city was reduced for want of bread, would grant them no terms whatever, without putting to death indiscriminately all those who had taken up arms within the city. Seeing no hopes of capitulation, the besieged determined to cut their way through the enemy, or fall in the attempt. The besiegers, knowing all that passed from their partizans within the city, were prepared to receive them; insomuch that out of near four thousand persons who inade this desperate effort, the whole were either killed or taken, except about fifty *.


* The French liave always been a brave and warlike people. In no war, however, did they ever fight with such desperate and feroAfter this the victors shewed such mercy as might be expected from them. Not content with butchering their prisoners in cold blood, they took a pleasure in making them die by inches, and in insulting them in the pangs of death. Placing several together, they killed one of them at a time, to render death more terrible to the rest. Neither sex nor age had

any weight with them. Above two hundred women, thirty of whom had children at the breast, whom conjugal love had led to follow their husbands ; more than fifty old men, whom filial piety had snatched from the assassin's stab; were all most savagely butchered. The death of Madame de VISAGUE deserves particular notice. This young lady was about seventeen years of age, and very near her time of delivery. A party of the democrats found her behind a hedge, to which place she had drawn her husband, who was mortally wounded. When they discovered her, she was on her knees, supporting his head with her arm. One of them tired upon her with a carabine,


courage as in the present. On the first of June against Lord Howe, and in the other more recent actions, they displayed the most determined resolution. The Dutch did the same in the late action against Admiral DUNCAN. But if the French and Dutch displayed such feats of bravery, what must the English have done? By land too, as well as by sea, the English, in the course of the present unhappy struggle, have discovered very eminent superiority. We usually say, Facts are stubborn things. Let the following then speak the language of honest truth: At Lincelle, 1100 British Guards stormed a formidable work, defended by six times their number, completely routed the enemy, and made themselves masters of the artillery.--In an action near Cateau 1800 British Cavalry deseated their army of 25,000 men, pursued them to the gate of Cambray, took their general prisoner, and upwards of fifty pieces of cannon.-At the battle of Tournay a small British Brigade, under the command of general Fox, drove back general PicHEGRU's left wing, and decided the victory, till that moment doubtful.--At a sortie from Nimeguen, six British Battalions marched out in the middle of the day, threw themselves, without firing a shot, into the enemy's trenches, dispersed the troops that guarded then, and, after being in possession of them two hours, and completely destroying the works, returned in perfect order to the town, without the enemy daring to harrass them.-What feats did not Sir CHARLES GREY perform in the West Indies?—What has become of the French East India possessions ?

See Le MessURIER's Thoughts on a French Invasion, and WILLYAMS's Account of the Campaign in the West Indies in the

year 1794.


another quartered her with his hanger, while a third held up the expiring husband to be a spectator' of their more than hellish cruelty

Several wounded prisoners were collected together, and put into a ditch, with sentinels placed round them, to prevent them from killing themselves, or one another; and thus were they made to linger, some of the two or three days, while their enemies testified their ferocious pleasure by all the insulting gesticulations of savages.

Such was the fury of the triumphant democrats *, that the deputies from the Convention gave an order against burying the dead, till they had been cut in morsels. Tollet, the infa

* The world has now existed near 6000 years; and we who live in the present period are favoured with the experience of all former ages. During those ages, every kind of government has been tried. And it is found by experience, that every kind of government has its peculiar advantages and disadvantages. To guard against the incouveniences peculiar to each, the wisdom of Tacitus conceived, that a mixed form of government, consisting of King, Lords, and Commons, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect ; but yet he could not conceive such a government to be possible. His words are : “ Cunctas nationes aut Reges, aut Primores, aut Populus rex“ erunt, dilecta ex lois et consociata Reipublicæ forma laudari “ facilius quam evenire; aut si eveniat, non diuturna esse, potest.” Tact. Ann. 1.

The British government, however, has long reduced this idea, by liim deemed impossible, to practice: and it should really seem, not only from our own experience in this country, but from the conduct of the Americans in forming their constitution, and from the conduct of the French in forming theirs, that three estates, to act as checks. ove upon another, forms the most perfect system of government huinau wisdomn can contrive for the happiness of man, The Americans have two houses and a president, who is the same as our king, only called by another name: and the French, during their late sanguivary revolution, had'two estates, and five directors, who occupied the place of our king and his privy council. So that after all their experience, convulsions, and blood, the British government was at last ihe model they are constrained to follow. This consideration ought to induce us Englishmen, not only to be contented with, but to glory in our constitution, as a most finished model of human wisdom. We may change, but it is impossible we can change for the better. All that we should desire is, that every thing may be removed from it, which is inconsistent with its purity and perfection. Our present Legislature is competent to the correction of every abuse. -See a just accomt of the excellence of the British constitution in MONTESQUIEU's Spirit of Laws, b. xi. c. 6.

mous apostate priest of Tredour, went, blood-hound like, in quest of a few unhappy wretches, who had escaped destruction; and when, by per tidious promises, he had drawn them from their retreats, he delivered them up to the daggers of their assassins.

Of the little army that attempted the retreat, six hundred and eighteen were brought back in chains; some of them died of their wounds, and all those who were not relieved from life this way, were dragged forth to an ignominious death,

Prior to these misfortunes there was an infamous assembly in Lyons, which took the name of the democratic club. In this club a plot was laid for the assassination of all the rich in one night. Their oath was " We swear to exterminate all the rich and aristocrats; their bloody corpses thrown into the Rhone, shall bear our terrors to the affrighted sea." This plot was happily discovered in time to prevent its effects; and the president CHALLIER with two others were condemned to die. This Challier was looked on as a person of iufamous character before the revolution; and, since the revolution, he had imbrued his hands in the blood of his own father!

After the capture of the city, the above democratic club was re-organized, and JAVOGUES, the deputy from the Convention, became its new president. After having represented CHAllier as a martyr to the cause of liberty, he addressed himself to the assembly in nearly these terms:-“ Think," said he, “ of the slavery into which you are plunged, by being the servants and workmen of others; the nobles, the priests, the proprietors, the rich of every description, have long been in a combination to rob the democrats, the real sans culotte republicans, of their birth-right. Go, citizens ; take what belongs to you, and what you should have enjoyed long ago. Nor must you stop here; while there exists an aristocracy in the buildings, half remains undone. Down with those edifices, raised for the profit or pleasure of the rich; down with them all: commerce and arts are useless lo a warlike people, and the destruction of that subline equality, which France is determined to spread over the whole globe." He told this deluded populace, that it was the duty of every good citizen to discover all those whom he knew to be guilty of having, in thought, word, or deed, con

spired against the republic. He exhorted them to fly to the offices open for receiving such accusations, and not to spare one lawyer, priest, or nobleman. He concluded this harangue, worthy of one of the damned, with declaring, that for a man to accuse his own father was an act of civism worthy a true republican, and that to neglect it was a crime which should be punished with death.

The deeds which followed this diabolical exhortation were such as might be expected. The bloody democrats left not a house, not a hole unsearched; men and women were led forth from their houses with as little ceremony as cattle from their pens. The square where the guillotine stood was reddened with blood like a slaughter-house; while the piercing cries of the surviving relations were drowned in the more vociferous howlings of Vive la Republique.

Soon after this, orders were given from the Convention for the demolition of the city. A hundred houses were destroyed per day. All the hospitals, manufactories, banks, &c. &c. were destroyed, without exception. Before the revolution, the city contained above 150,000 inhabitants. It was the second town, with respect to population, in France, and the first manufacturing town in all Europe. It does not now contain 70,000 inhabitants, and those are all reduced to beggary and ruin. As for trade, there is no such thing thought of. The last report to the Convention, respecting Lyons, declares the inhabitants without work or bread.

It is difficult to stifle the voice of nature, and to stagnate the involuntary movements of the soul; yet even this was attempted, and in some degree effected, by the deputies of the Convention. Perceiving that the above scenes of blood and devastation had spread a gloom over the countenances of the innocent inhabitants, and that even some of their soldiers seemed touched with compunction; they issued a mandate, declaring every one suspected of aristocracy, who should discover the least symptom of pity, either by lzis words or his looks!

The preamble of this mandate makes the blood run cold: " By the thunder of Gop! in the name of the representatives of the French people; on pain of death it is ordered, &c. &c." Who would believe, that. this terrific mandate, forbidding men to weep, or look sorrowful, on pain of death,

« PreviousContinue »