Imatges de pÓgina
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paper which he left behind him, all his oaths and promifes null and void, it was not poffible, in the nature of things, that confidence, untainted by fufpicion, fhould ever again be restored. Sentiments of loyalty and generofity, however, upon the whole prevailed; the apology of the king was received by the affembly with indulgence, and even complacency; and in a fhort time powers were vefted in the hands of the monarch infinitely dangerous both to himself and to the nation.

"The adminiftration which prefided over the affairs of France, from the period of the king's acceptance of the conftitution in the autumn of 1791, to March 1792, was compofed of perfons prefumed, with one exception, to be well affected to the conftitution, but apparently devoid of the zeal and vigour neceffary to counteract the defigns of the court. During this term, M. de Montmorin, and afterwards M. de Leffart, were at the head of the foreign department, and M. Cayer de Gerville, of the interior; M. de Narbonne was minifter of war, and M. Bertrand de Moleville of marine; M. Tarbe, of finance, and M. Duport du Tertre, of juftice. But of thefe minifters M. Bertrand, an open and determined enemy of the conftitution, enjoyed incomparably the most credit with the king. A representation from the affembly against him was treated with contempt; while M. Narbonne, who had refused any longer to fit in Council with M. Bertrand, was difmiffed with difgrace. Both M. de Montmorin and M. de Leffart were, according to the reprefentation of M. Bertrand, concealed royalifts, and abfolutely hoftile to the new order of things. The

other three minifters were men of probity and conftitutional principles, who harboured with extreme reluctance any fufpicions of the king. M. Gerville in particular was convinced, upon very falfe ground as it now appears, of the rectitude of the king's intentions; but the queen he regarded, M. Bertrand tells us, as a haughty, perfidious, and wicked woman, who thought of nothing but re-eftablifhing defpotifm; and his idea. of her majefty was fuch, that when the minifterial committee was held in the palace, he never would fpeak with freedom, from a notion that the queen, or fome of her fpies, liftened at the door, or behind the wainscot.'

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"But even those who were willing and defirous to believe that the king did not entertain any fixed or regularly-formed defign of fubverting the conftitution, could not but acknowledge that he obstinately withheld his fupport and confidence from thofe who were moft zealously attached to it. Inftead of cultivating a good underftanding with the affembly, by an open and fteady course of action, he had recourfe to the vile arts of corruption and bribery, to leffen the weight of the oppofition againft the court; and vaft fums were expended to no other purpose, than to make the government contemptible and odious. During the first affembly,' faid the king to M. Bertrand, the attempt to gain the Tribunes coft the civil lift more than three millions; and the Tribunes were constantly against me notwithstanding.'

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"In the fpring of the year 1792, the public difcontents ran fo high, that the king was compelled to make an entire change of administration, and to replace his former minifters

with another fet of men, upon minal faction which oppreffed whofe zeal, vigour, and ability, the both. Confequently, far from nation relied with perfect fecurity.departing from the fentiments of The new, or jacobin miniftry, as it was invidioufly and most im. properly styled, confifted of M. Dumourier for the foreign, and M. Roland for the interior department;

amity which united them to France, that their intention, on the contrary, was to deliver that nation from tyranny, and to reftore it to legal order and tran

M. Servan, minifter of war, and M.quillity. That their majesties, de la Cofté, of marine; M. Cla-the emperor and king, took all vieres, of inance, and M. Duranton, garde des sceaux, or minifter of juftice-men whofe counfels might, if the infatuation of the monarch had permitted, ftill have availed to fave the king and country from ruin.

"In the month of April the fatal war, which has for fo many years defolated Europe, commenced after an atrocious series of provocations on the part of Auftria, and a long and unexampled forbearance on that of France; fo that upon which of the two nations the heavy charge of aggreflion refted was abundantly manifeft to every impartial and difpaffionate perfon.

"When the combined armies were on the point of invading France, M. Bertrand, as he himfelf informs us, counfelled the king to fend off M. Mallet du Pan with fecret difpatches for the baron de Breteuil, and directions how to act. This the king, with marks of emotion, refufed, faying, It was he that prompted us to take that accurfed journey to Varennes.' In the ftead of M. Breteuil, therefore, the letters were addreffed to the Marechal de Caftries, advifing that the entrance of the Auftrians and Pruffians into France fhould be preceded by a manifefto, in which they should declare, that forced to take arms against an unjust attack, they did not impute that aggreffion either to the king, or to the Freuch nation, but to a cri

peaceable and faithful fubjects under their protection; that they confidered as their enemies thofe only who were the enemies of France, namely, the faction of the Jacobins and all its adherents.' This advice, as appears by referring to the proclamation of the duke of Brunswick, was strictly conformed to; and from M. Bertrand we learn, that the king of France entertained the firmeft affurance of the fuccefs of the duke of Brunfwick's expedition, though his perfonal fituation filled him with alarming apprehenfions.

"But exclufive of the irrefragable evidence recently produced, in confequence of the publications of Dumourier, De Bouillé, Bertrand de Moieville, madame Roland, &c. the treachery of the king might, at the period when the Auftrian and Pruffian armies entered France, be without he fitation inferred from the general tenor of his conduct, fince the period of his acceptance of the conftitution; from his fyftematic abufe of the Veto; from the defencelefs ftate of the kingdom, and more efpecially of the principal fortreffes on the German frontier; from the recal of Marechal Luckner, and the mysterious military movements of M. Fayette, now in clofe and intimate union with the court. M. Dumourier himself informs us, that he learned on his arrival at Douay, July 1792, that Marechal Luckner, after hav

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ing held a council of war, though there was no enemy to oppofe him, had evacuated Courtray and Meain, and was returning to the camp of Valenciennes. This fhameful retreat,' fays he, evidently pro'ceeded from party fpirit, in confequence of fome great project broached by La Fayette's faction, of which Luckner, befet by his ' own staff-officers, was at once the "'inftrument and the dupe.'

Roland, Clavieres, and Servan, as madame Roland informs us, they were almoft perfuaded of the fincerity of the monarch, who appeared fo anxious to infpire then with confidence, that Roland declared, if the king was not an honeft man, he was the most arrant cheat in the kingdom;' adding, Diffimulation can hardly go so far.' But they were foon convinced that they were in a fatal error. At "It did not escape the obferva- times, indeed, they thought that the tion of the military men in the king appeared impreffed with the affembly, that M. Fayette had force of their reafonings: but at drawn back his army from the fubfequent meeting of council Longwy to Sedan, on the approach he was hardened into refiftance, of the duke of Brunfwick's forces; and the fame round of argument whereas he ought, as they affirmed, was urged with ceafelefs and unato have retired towards Verdun, vailing folicitude. Servan had the and, croffing the Meufe, have occu- boldness to declare to the king, pied the camp of Sivry-la-Perche, a that his weaknefs was criminal, very ftrong pofition, fecuring aand would never be a fhield fafe retreat to the Gorge of Cler-against the indignation of the peomont; inftead of which, by turn-ple.' No register of the tranfacing afide to Sedan, he left the route open to Paris.

"From the general complexion of M. Fayette's conduct and charafter, it cannot indeed be fuppofed, that his views extended further than to fupport the conftitutional monarchy, in opposition to the rifing fpirit of jacobinism and republicanifm; and fo egregiously was he impofed upon by the artifices of the court, as to entertain

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tions and deliberations of the council was permitted by the king, nor any fecretary allowed, although exprefsly enjoined by the conftitution, and repeatedly infifted upon by the minifters. Want of ability,' fays madame Roland, had difabled him from preventing the establishment of the new government; but honefty alone would

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have been fufficient to have faved him, if he had been fincere in exe

the extravagant belief, that the in-cuting when he had accepted the

vaders of France were actuated by the fame moderate and patriotic motives. But fubfequent events have no doubt fully convinced that refpectable but miftaken man, that if the dark defigns, at this time in agitation, had ultimately proved fuccefsful, he would have fallen the first victim of his own credulity and folly.

For a fhort time after the appointment of the patriotic minifters, 1800.

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conftitution. Unhappily for him. felf, with one hand to fupport what he was overthrowing with the other, was his crooked policy; and this perfidious conduct first excited miftruft, and finished by kindling general indignation.'

"After the difmiffion of this honeft, wife, and popular adminiftration, the monarch appears to have been guided by no fixed principle of action, The refolution

fuddenly

fuddenly taken to difcard the late minifters, proceeded not from any concerted plan of policy, but from the mere impulfe of pride and paffion. He could not endure the language of fincerity and truth. Even yet he was the arbiter of his own fate. M. Bertrand himself admits, that at this period the faction of the Gironde, though undoubtedly republican in fpeculation, harboured no defign of fubverting the conftitution; and a letter was at this critical and decifive moment tranfmitted to the king, figned by Vergniaud, Guadet, and Genfonne, three chiefs of the party, ftating the terrible confequences likely to enfue; and pledging themfelves for the fecurity of the public peace, in the event of the restoration of the Gironde administration. To this letter the king, bent on his own ruin, difdained to reply. Equally devoid of energy and of judgment, he waited with impatience for the approaching time, when, by the intervention of a foreign and military force, that new order of things, which he had repeatedly and folemnly fworn to defend, fhould be completely overturned. The edifice of the conftitution was indeed deftroyed, but the monarch was at the fame time, as might eafily be forefeen, crushed under its ruins.

"To affirm that the oaths of the king of France were of no validity, as being the effect of coercion, muft tend to diffolve all moral obligation, The king of France was no otherwife under coercion at Paris when he fwore to maintain the conftitution of 1791, than the king of England in fubmitting to the oath tendered to him on his coronation at Westminster, in 1761. He could not be king if he refused it; and the violation of it at the

fame inftant diffolved and nullified the bond of allegiance. In neither country was the monarch fubject to perfonal refponfibility in the regular courfe of government; but if the functions of fovereignty were perverted to a purpose directly contrary to that which the conftitution intended; if, instead of protecting, a defign was evidently formed for fubverting the conftitution, the monarch could not in equity claim the benefit of those established rules and maxims of government in his own favour, which might operate to the detriment, or perhaps the ruin, of those for whofe fake all government is inftituted.

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"Exclufive, however, of the fanction of oaths, the king of France made repeated and fpontaneous proteftations of attachment to the constitution; and on one folemn and memorable occafion, to the affembly in perfon, February 1790, by a declaration equally unfolicited and unexpected. us,' faid the monarch in a train. of the most infidious hypocrify, give ourselves up with good faith to the hopes that we ought to con'ceive. Continue your labours. Let it be known that your monarch applauds them. I fhould have many loffes to recount, but I find my happiness in that of the nation. From the bottom of my heart do I exprefs this fentiment. I will maintain the constitution with my whole power. May this day, in which your monarch comes to re-unite himself to you, effect in like manner the reunion of all !'-' How,' exclaims M. de Bouillé, a man distinguished amongst the royalifts for honour and capacity, could he retract fuch a ftep, thus voluntarily taken, without that degradation of character,

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character, than which a king can incur no greater misfortune? "And when, after the abortive and justly fufpected attempt to withdraw from Paris to St. Cloud, the king appeared for a time to adopt a new fyftem, and had been prevailed upon to announce the new conftitution in form to the different courts of Europe, he was congratulated by the prefident of the affembly for having thus impofed filence on detractors, he declared himself charmed beyond ⚫ expreffion, at the warmth of efteem which the national affembly had been pleafed to exprefs ' towards him.--If they could but read my heart,' faid he, they would there fee fentiments engraved on it, that would well juftify the confidence of the nation. All diftruft would then be banished from our bofoms, and ⚫ we should all be happy.' Is there not fome ground of excufe for the ftrong expreffion, that the mouth of royalty is the cave of falsehood,' when in less than two fhort months, the king, abandoning his honour and his duty, and putting his crown upon the hazard of a die, ventured, by an inftrument under his own hand and feal, to pronounce all his former declarations null and void, as extorted from him in direct oppofition to his real fentiments?

"All the feelings and fympathies of our nature are neverthelefs awakened, when Louis XVI. a monarch poffefing undoubtedly many virtues, fuch indeed as were chiefly calculated to bloffom in the fhade, prefents himself to our imagination as a prifoner at the bar, and much more as a criminal on the scaffold. But the French nation themselves, through the medium of their reprefentatives, were

the proper and only competent judges, how far the fafety of the country demanded, by an imperious and terrible neceffity, fo fignal and melancholy a facrifice. And however we may diffolve in tears of compaffion over the victim, we can have no right to brand it as an act of national injustice. That there were men in that affembly which paffed fentence of condemnation on the king, of the most flagitious and unprincipled ambition, who, under pretext of patriotifm, fought only for occafions to carry into effect their own black and nefarious defigns, can in 110 degree invalidate the truth of the facts here ftated, or of the conclufions deducible from them. There were others who were as certainly actuated by an high fenfe of duty, who fealed his doom with a bleeding heart; and who would with pleasure have devoted their lives for their fovereign, had they confidered him as the protector and guardian of the conftitution which he had fworn to defend, instead of a traitor and a hypocrite, juftly accufed of conspiring its deftruction.

"The laft eventful years of the reign of this unfortunate monarch brought his character into full and perfect view. It was confpicuoufly marked by imbecility and duplicity-by inconftancy, with ftrange alternations of obftinacy→→ by temerity fuddenly fubfiding into. fear-by a perpetual diftruft of his own judgment, and a tranfient and limited confidence in that of others. So ftrongly was the idea impreffed upon the public mind of the want of genius, and even of common underftanding, in the king, that a géneral emotion of furprife was created by the calmnefs and propriety of the anfwers given by him to the interrogatories of the convention

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