AMONG the revolutionary days of 1789, the 5th and 6th of October, the upshot of the events of which was the coming of the Constituent Assembly and the Royal family to Paris, are by no means the least important, and in the preparing of those events Marat's journalism played an important part.
This insurrectionary movement, called by Carlyle the "Insurrection of Women," had as its immediate cause the bread-famine then prevalent in Paris; the working-women, the dames des halles, rose under the leadership of the eccentric revolutionary amazon, Théroigne de Méricourt, demanding bread and the return of the King to Paris, which it was supposed would cause the price of bread to go down, or at least be a guarantee of good faith. The growing distrust of the possible action of the Court had culminated when news was received of the banquet that was held on the 1st of October in the Palace of Versailles by the Royal Bodyguard; on which occasion the national tri-colour cockade was torn off and trampled under foot, and the white cockade of the Ancien Régime was donned in its place. Insults to the national emblems, and to those who wore them, continued throughout the following day. This, coming on the top of famine, naturally infuriated the populace of the capital. Now for three weeks past the question of the bread-famine, and of the necessity of having the Court under the people's eye in the heart of the metropolis, had been among the daily themes of the Ami du Peuple, hence Marat is justly credited with having been one of the most potent influences in bringing about the occurrences in question. The story of the events of the 5th and 6th of October are to be found in every history of the French Revolution. The aimless riot begun by the women was given aim and direction by Maillard, the Bastille hero; the aim was the Court and the direction Versailles. The women, still led by Théroigne, carrying a drawn sword in her hand, and accompanied by a crowd of male Parisians, followed Maillard along the Versailles road. Lafayette, wishing to play the part of the saviour of the King in the nick of time, rather than prevent the attack on the Palace, delayed the pursuit till later in the afternoon. Drenched, and covered with mud, the crowd reached Versailles, demanding bread and the entry of the Royal family into Paris.
It is unnecessary to go into details of the events of that day and the following night. Enough to say that the virtual siege of the Palace by the Parisian crowd continued throughout the afternoon and evening, and that in the morning, about five o'clock, the entry was effected through an unguarded door. The crowd streamed in, and the King and Queen narrowly escaped. Lafayette, who had been roused from his slumbers, succeeded in inducing the King to appear with his wife and children on the balcony, where he announced, through Lafayette, his intention of complying with the popular demands. The Royal family, in fact, left Versailles that afternoon, followed later on by Lafayette, on his white horse, the National Guard, and the remnant of the Paris populace that had remained behind. Marat was naturally delighted at the success of the movement, the objects of which, by his persistent agitation far days past in his journal, he had been largely instrumental in bringing about. The next day we read in the Ami du Peuple: "The King, Queen, and Dauphin arrived in the capital about seven o'clock last night. It is indeed a festival for the good Parisians to possess their King. His presence will promptly change the face of things: the poor people will no longer die of hunger; but this benefit will soon vanish like a dream if we do not fix the Royal family in our midst until the complete consecration of the Constitution. The `People's Friend' shares in the joy of his dear fellow-citizens, but he will not give himself over to sleep."
And, in fact, Marat did not give himself over to sleep, for we find in the following numbers of the journal no slackening of the defiance against the Government and all those in authority which had been the characteristic of the Ami du Peuple from the beginning.
Now it so happened that a warrant had been issued by the Court of the Châtelet for the arrest of Marat on the very day of the King's arrival in Paris, though owing to events it was not executed on that day. The fact was that those members (the majority) of the Municipal Council who had come off second best in their tussle with Marat, as narrated in the preceding chapter, were determined to pay him out on the first opportunity. The opportunity presented itself on the occasion of an attack made by Marat on one of the Secretaries of the Municipality, by name Joly. An individual in whose word Marat placed confidence had come to him, accusing the Sieur Joly of falsification of a document. This Marat, as was his custom, published in the next day's Ami. But the accusation in this case proved to be unfounded. Here, therefore, a fine opening was presented for the renewal of the attack on the redoubtable journalist, so little beloved by those in place and power. Hence, though the particular mandate issued for the 6th had to lapse, the Court immediately renewed it for the 8th. The Court of the Châtelet, it may be remarked, was the chief Royalist court of the Old Regime, which, pending the changes that were being made, still retained a moribund but spasmodic existence.
That the authorities were at this time the more determined to make a serious effort to seize the person of Marat was also partly due to the fact of the fear he inspired, as one who through his writings had been the prime instigator of the march on Versailles. Add to this his advice to the people to retain their arms, and to the sections to show their want of confidence in the Municipality by withdrawing their cannon, which had been parked in the Hotel de Ville. We should mention, moreover, that Marat played a personal part in the affair of the 5th, having been to Versailles on the day of the rising, though he does not appear to have stopped long. Camille Desmoulins in his journal (No.46) says: "Marat flies to Versailles and returns like lightning, making as much noise as four trumpets of the last judgment summoning the dead to rise."
It will readily be understood, therefore, why the authorities did not dare to execute the mandate for the 6th, and why they lost no time in renewing it. Accordingly, on the evening of the 8th, a body of constables, followed by a carriage, presented themselves at the house where Marat lodged, in the Rue du Vieux Colombier. "It would have been all up with me," says Marat (Ami, No.70), "if they could have succeeded in forcing the door, which we had refused to open to them. The people's enemies regarded me as the primary motive-power of the insurrection which had saved the country. They set a price on my head, and to cover assassination they caused to be bruited abroad that I was in the dungeons of the Châtelet. Let me here acquit myself of a duty dear to my heart, towards so many good citizens who came to urge me to seek my safety in flight. I had informed two districts of the dangers that I was running; one had frequent patrols made before my door, the other sent me some officers to see to my safety. Several friends, relying only on their zeal, took me from my house and conducted me to Versailles. I addressed my complaints to the Assembly. It would be ungenerous were I to pass in silence the reiterated efforts made by M. Freteau, its worthy president, to induce the Assembly to take them into consideration."
Marat had not been many days in hiding at Versailles before, owing to the perfidy or the pusillanimity of the innkeeper with whom he was lodging, he found himself denounced and a body of National Guards appearing at his room. They proved, however, to be "patriotic" in their sympathies, as was also their Colonel, the subsequently well-known Lecointre, who offered Marat an asylum at his own house. The Court of the Châtelet was not disposed, however, lightly to let its victim go, the more so that it came to the knowledge of the authorities that he had in preparation a pamphlet exposing Necker, whom he had already denounced in the Ami du Peuple as a malversator of the national funds and a chief cause of the famine. The result was that the "People's Friend" found it prudent to leave Versailles and take refuge in a basement dwelling on the top of Montmartre, whence the journal was now issued. Spies, however, after some weeks found out his retreat, and on the 12th of December he was brought before the Court, but, owing to a technical defect in the indictment, the powers of the Court of the Châtelet and the subordinate courts being at this time very uncertain and confused, the prosecution fell through. Marat, in his own account of the proceedings, relates that early in the morning of the 12th of December the dwelling was assailed by a detachment of twenty men. "I opened the door to them," says Marat, "in my shirt. `What can I do for you, gentlemen? '
'We have come to arrest you.' `Your order? I will follow you, but permit me first of all to dress myself.' My papers having been seized, I am taken to the Comité des Recherches (one of the lower courts). I announced myself with the words: `The "People's Friend," gentlemen, has come to see you; how many do you require to form a tribunal? Three. I will wait then.' So saying, I took a seat by the fire. These gentlemen having awakened me rather early, I had not breakfasted, so I accepted a cup of chocolate and entered into conversation. Nothing loth to question me, they inquired, what they knew as well as I did, why I left Paris, where I had been, and how long I had remained in each place. My interrogatory ended, M. de Lafayette arrives, and the gentlemen of the committee present me to him. 'Who are those of my Etat-Major who have given you offence? he asked. 'I will let you know in a future number of the Ami,' I replied."
Marat was now taken to the Commission of Police. On being reproached for his incessant denunciations, he observed, "Gentlemen, these are the disagreeables we have to put up with in the passage from slavery to liberty. Do you really believe that a Revolution such as this could accomplish itself without some misfortunes, without the shedding of some drops of blood? I entertain no hostile design against you, but had I to choose between my duty to the Commission of Police and my duty to liberty, my choice would be already made (No.71). Marat's outspoken candour had a powerful effect on the Commission, which at once set him at liberty, even offering a coach to carry him home. One of the members, in the ardour of his enthusiasm, embraced him, exclaiming, "Go, my friend; go, write and unmask the villains! "
Marat was naturally not displeased with the result of these interviews. He felt, he tells us, that the difference between the Ancien and Nouveau Régime was, after all, beginning to make itself felt. Profiting by the situation, he went boldly the next day to demand of Lafayette the return of his confiscated presses. For, about three weeks previously, Marat had freed himself from the annoyance caused him by the unreliability of printers, who might be intimidated or might be bribed, by buying presses and setting them up in his own rooms, thus having the printing of the paper under his own eye. The presses were restored within the fourteen hours' delay he had given, and the "People's Friend" felt himself and his journal safe from arrest.
Acting on this assumption, he now changed his residence, descending from the heights of Montmartre into the district of the Cordeliers, where, at No.39 Rue de la Vielle-Comédie, close to the Cordeliers' Club, he openly established the office of his paper and his own domicile.
The authorities now struck upon a new line for damaging Marat. A large number of agents were bribed to spread the report that Marat, in league with the Cordeliers' Club, was in the service of the aristocrats, endeavouring to foment a counter-revolution. These slanderers were to be found in the cafés, in the district assemblies, in the clubs. But this scheme proved also unproductive of any serious result. Marat by means of his paper could effectually foil such proceedings.
Finally, on the 22nd of January 1790, the Court of the Châtelet once more renewed its mandate of arrest, while the City Council authorised Lafayette to choose three of the most reactionary battalions of his National Guard, with which to ensure its not missing fire this time. These consisted of three thousand men, foot and horse combined, who, on the appointed day, invaded the Cordeliers' quarter, and occupied the street where Marat resided. In addition to the above, several thousand men more were deemed necessary to surround the entire quarter, in fact, it is said twelve thousand men were under arms. The Royalist writer, Montjoie, in his Histoire de la Conjuration de Philippe d'Orléans (vol. ii, p.157), has the following observations anent this military display: "Lafayette marched against Marat an army of six thousand men, and posted them at the opening of every street; abutting on the house were two pieces of artillery. This was so extraordinary that, had I not been a witness of it myself, I should never have believed it. Conceive indeed this `hero of two worlds' deploying forces so formidable against a crank whose only arm was his pen." At six o'clock in the morning the bailiffs of the Châtelet broke into Marat's apartment sword in hand. Their intended victim, however, had been forewarned and escaped, so the emissaries of the law had to content themselves with wrecking the place, pillaging journals and manuscripts, and placing official seals on the printing-presses, while certain grenadiers outside amused themselves by fixing lighted candles to their guns and shouting "Marat à la lanterne." In the Ami du Peuple (No.170) Marat writes: " I was sleeping in a neighbouring street, when a young man attached to my office came to me in tears with the news that my house was surrounded by several battalions. At the same instant my host and his wife entered my room with an air of consternation; they tried to speak, but could only tremble. `Be quiet,' I said, `it is nothing; only leave me alone.' I am never more sang-froid than in the midst of imminent danger. Not wishing to go out en dishabille, for fear of exciting attention, I carefully made my toilette; throwing an overcoat over me, and covering my head with a round hat, I put on a smiling air and took my departure. I gained the Gros-Caillon by passing through a detachment of the guard sent to arrest me. On the way I sought to distract my companion, and managed to preserve a good humour till about five o'clock in the evening, at which hour I awaited a proof of the sheet containing an account of the famous equipage. No one appearing, I had a presentiment of my impending misfortune, and the rest of the day was passed in sadness. They had got wind of the route I had taken. In the evening the house was invested with spies. I recognised them from behind a jalousie. It was suggested to me to escape by the roof on the approach of night, nevertheless I passed them in open daylight, giving my arm to a young person who accompanied me, and walking leisurely. As soon as it grew dark I repaired to the Grand Basin de Luxembourg. Two friends were waiting there, to conduct me to the house of a lady in the neighbourhood. Finding no one at home I was `thrown on the pavement,' at which one of my companions began to cry, but I dried his tears by bursting out laughing. We took a coach, and I went to seek an asylum at the bottom of the Marais. Arrived at the Grève, I saw the lantern which my enemies had destined for me two days previously, and I passed beneath it. On reaching the Rue de la Perle, I found there a person who was not unknown to me. To distract the curious it was necessary to simulate gaiety, till in the end it came itself. After a quarter of an hour's conversation I inquired of my host in a whisper if he were sure of the person present. `As yourself,' he replied. `All right,' I rejoined, and continued the conversation. After having had supper I went to bed. In the middle of the night a squadron of cavalry halted underneath my window, but finding, on half opening the shutters, that none of them had put foot to the ground, I quietly resumed my bed till the next morning. But it was necessary to decamp."
Marat, in fact, took immediate steps for leaving Paris and France, and in a few days was once more to be found in London.
As may be judged from the attention paid to him generally by the authorities, and especially from the extraordinary military preparations made for seizing his person, Marat had already attained the position of being regarded on all sides as one of the foremost pillars of the Revolution. It so happened, moreover, that just at this time the revolutionary Cordeliers' Club, into which what was in the first instance a primary electoral assembly of the district had resolved itself, and of which Danton was the leading spirit, had its own particular quarrel with the Municipality. Into the details of this quarrel, which turned on questions of rights and jurisdiction, it is beyond our present purpose to enter, the interesting point respecting it being that it led the Cordeliers' Club and its leader Danton to make the cause of Marat in a special sense their own. The club, in fact, through Danton, fought the Châtelet and the Municipality inch by inch in the matter. Danton, who was an able lawyer, was not slow to find legal flaws in the slipshod proceedings of the old Royalist Court. The struggle was going on during the whole forenoon of the 22nd, and was only ended on Danton's promise to accept the decision of the National Assembly. The afternoon was therefore occupied in pleading the cause at the bar of the "Constituent."
Here, however, Danton and his colleagues were not successful, the Assembly eventually overruling their objections and condemning the attitude of the Cordeliers, at the same time adding a clause that it relied upon their patriotism for executing its will. There was nothing now left to the district but to send two members to the commander of the forces, informing him that they no longer had any right to obstruct his action. Marat's house was therefore again entered, but, as we have seen, Marat was not there but in hiding, and succeeded in evading the attentions of the Châtelet and the Municipality by a flight to England. This affair, which was the first to bring the name of Danton prominently before the general public, formed the opening of the latter's career as an active revolutionary force, as opposed to a mere club orator.
During his enforced residence in England, though the Ami du Peuple had, of course, to be abandoned, Marat was not idle in a revolutionary sense, occupying himself with writing three pamphlets, the Appel à la Nation, the Lettre sur l'Ordre judiciaire, and the Seconde Dénonciation contre M. Necker. Of these, the first was the most important. It is, in fact, a powerful defence of his action and indictment of that of the authorities. In characteristic eighteenth-century classical style, Marat writes, "Before falling beneath the blows of tyranny, I shall have the consolation of covering my cowardly persecutors with opprobrium; I shall afterwards envelop my head in my mantle and shall present my neck to the steel of the assassin." He defends himself against the charge of violence in his writings. "I have been reproached," he says, "for having been unmeasured in my demands. But what would you have? Embittered by the grievances addressed to me from all sides against the agents of power, harassed by the crowd of oppressed who had recourse to me, revolted at the continual abuse of authority, at the ever-renewed attempts of the supporters of despotism, how could I be otherwise than overwhelmed with indignation against the authors of such crimes, how could I fail to exhibit with regard to them all the horror that filled my soul?" He points out how the Assembly, the Municipality, and Lafayette, by the action with respect to him on the 22nd of January, had risked exposing the capital to the horrors of Civil War. "When the dream of life shall be about to finish for me," he says, "I shall not complain of my sorrowful existence if I have but contributed to the welfare of humanity, if I have but left a name respected by the wicked and beloved by good men." The letter Sur l'Ordre judiciaire is an unimportant technical pamphlet of eight pages. On the other hand, the Nouvelle Dénconciation de M. Marat, l'Ami du Peuple, contre M. Necker, a long pamphlet of forty pages, consists of a trenchant criticism of the policy of the Minister of Finance. Marat had already issued from his press in Paris a denunciation of Necker which had had a considerable vogue.
In this, his first "denunciation," he had criticised the mode in which Necker's fortune, amounting, it is said, to over thirteen millions, was acquired by the discounting of Canadian bills and the ruin of the French East India Company. Marat insists that wealth obtained in this way by doubtful tricks of stock jobbing is anything but a title of honour to the possessor. Setting a gambler in stocks at the head of the finances was simply to ruin the nation. The brochure then proceeds to deal with Necker's conduct as a minister, accusing him of having been the prime agent in the production of the famine, by encouraging forestalling, with the sinister motive, he hints, of promoting reaction by disgusting people with the new regime. He is further accused of raising a revenue by imposing a tax ruinous to the poor, rather than by economies in the civil lists, the sale of the Royal demesnes, or the abolition or reduction of sinecures. In conclusion, he challenges the minister to answer his accusations. The only answer he got from those in authority was the mandate of arrest of the 22nd of January. Under these circumstances, Marat determined to drive home his attack by a second pamphlet. In this "new denunciation" of Necker, as he terms it, he gives additional proof of the charges made in the former attack. He readily admits Necker's capacity as a financier, but this very ability, he contends, is what fills him with alarm, and he here furnishes what he deems conclusive proofs of a ministerial attempt to favour reactionary tendencies by the production of an artificial scarcity. Both the pamphlets had a large sale, and contributed greatly to strengthen Marat's already powerful hold on revolutionary public opinion.
The "People's Friend " (the cognomen he had now familiarly acquired from the title of his journal) remained for nearly four months in England, returning to Paris on the 18th of May 1790. The course of events had now rendered it apparently safe for Marat to reside in Paris. On the 26th of February the Assembly had enacted an equality in the matter of criminal justice; on the 16th of March it had definitely abolished lettres de cachet and all measures of arbitrary arrest; and on the 30th of April it had instituted the jury system for all offences, a measure which Marat had himself demanded in his Lettre sur l'Ordre judiciaire. Not only had the Legislature placed the administration of justice on a new footing, but public opinion generally had set in strongly against the arbitrary action of the Châtelet, backed by the Municipality and the Ministry, in the matter of the 22nd of January. There was therefore no likelihood of any further proceedings being taken on the old basis. Immediately on his return, Marat resumed his journal, taking it up at the number following that at which he had left off, which happened to be No.106. It was not long, however, before the fearless journalist gave occasion for the representatives of law and order to intervene under cover of a new press-law. On the 10th of June the Assembly passed a decree fixing the Civil List at twenty-five millions. All the advanced journals uttered a cry of indignation at impoverished France, with a famine at its doors, being thus compelled to furnish the Monarch with the means of subsidising traitors to the Revolution. The Ami du People, as may be imagined, was nothing behindhand in energetic remonstrance, but even now Marat was only attacked under cover of a general measure against incendiary journalists. Fréron, the editor of the Orateur du People, was the first to be pounced upon on this occasion; then the emissaries of the law betook themselves to the printer of the Ami du Peuple, for Marat since his return had been obliged to again have recourse to printing-firms. Marat, however, was not himself discovered, although within the building at the time. On the advice of his friends he went into hiding; and now in fact began that life in cellars which lasted with little intermission for over two years, and which so seriously undermined the never too robust health of the "People's Friend." The Ami du People continued for the most part to appear regularly, but the person of its author remained hidden to all save a few trusted friends. Legendre, after the death of Marat, boasted of having hidden him during these two years in his cellars. It is, however, certain that he spent much of this time in the cellars underneath the Cordeliers' Club. He also, it is alleged, hid himself for some time in some quarries on Montmartre.
Referring to his life at this time, he says (Ami, No.170): "Exposed to a thousand dangers, encompassed by spies, police-agents, and assassins, I hurried from retreat to retreat, often unable to sleep for two consecutive nights in the same bed." Guiraut, in his funeral oration on Marat, speaking of his life during the period in question, states that he was devoured by the most frightful misery, his only outer covering being a simple blue cloak, and that he usually had a handkerchief steeped in vinegar bound round the top of his head. Working, often day and night, in these damp, subterranean retreats, by the miserable light of a small oil lamp, constantly burning, the fumes of which poisoned the low, ill-ventilated apartment, his eyelids would become badly inflamed, and he contracted a continual insomnia, which combined with the malady from which he was suffering and his originally highly-strung and delicate constitution to make his life one long torture. His journalistic activity during this time points to the most marvellous instance of human fortitude and prolonged determination on record. Knowing the circumstances, we do not need to wonder that his pen sometimes out-ran the limits of parliamentary expression, or that his revolutionary zeal now and then found vent in truculency of language.
Marat, as has been already mentioned, just before the outbreak of the Revolution, had been attacked by a painful disease. Much mystery has been made, with the usual insinuations in a similar case, with respect to Marat's malady. There is, however, no doubt whatever that it was the skin disease known as pruritus, the cure of which offers little difficulty to modern medicine, though its origin remains still doubtful. To eighteenth-century therapeutics, however, modern treatment and remedies were unknown, and the disease was regarded as incurable, and even as mortal.
Beginning locally, in Marat's case at the perineum, it usually spreads, if neglected or improperly treated, over the whole body. In addition to the inflammatory irritation suffered by the victim, often proving well-nigh unendurable, he was at times attacked by racking nervous headaches.
In addition to his journal, Marat now adopted a new measure of agitation, to wit, placards. It having become known that the ambassador of the Court of Vienna was negotiating with the King for a free passage for the Austrian troops through French territory on their way to Belgium, Marat felt the matter to be too urgent for treatment in his journal alone, and at once wrote a placard denouncing the counter-revolutionary stratagem, which he had affixed all over Paris. It was headed "C'en est fait de nous" (It is all over with us), and proceeded to denounce this manoeuvre of the enemy as a plot to crush the Revolution by force of arms, and reinstate "Royalism" in all its former glory. The placard terminated with these words, often made a notable point d'appui by the calumniators of the " People's Friend": -Five or six hundred heads lopped off would have assured you repose and happiness; a false humanity has restrained your arm and suspended your blows; it will cost the lives of millions of your brothers."
This remark has, of course, been eagerly seized upon by Marat's enemies as a convincing proof of his bloodthirstiness. That it should be so is only in accordance with the usual practice of the upholders and sycophants of established authority at all times, to seize with a hawk-like grip on anything tending to damage the enemies of that order and to draw off attention from the crimes and atrocities committed in its name and on its behalf. The classical instance of this sort of thing is to be found in the pretended "horror and indignation" expressed by the organs of the dominant classes, at the time of the fall of the Paris Commune, at the execution by the despairing people of Paris of a few representative men of those classes, while these very same organs had scarce a word of reprobation at the indiscriminate slaughter in cold blood of the men and women and children of the Proletariat which had been taking place for days previously, and the deliberate murder of prisoners of war for weeks beforehand. The doctrine is thus insidiously inculcated, both directly and indirectly, that a defender of the established order has the right to murder at his pleasure in the defence of this order, and the exercise of this privilege is often a proof of decision and capacity; but when an enemy of the established order dares to lift a finger, even in self-defence, he instantly becomes a criminal and a monster. The means of influencing public opinion in this direction is naturally always in the hands of wealth and privilege - the platform, the pulpit, and, above all, the press. The injustice of such judgments matters not; the object is attained if the conscience of wealth and privilege is salved thereby, and the mental vision of that large section of the general public which does not enter into the facts of a case is effectively hoodwinked. There is no doubt whatever that, by such utterances as these, Marat, whose single-minded object was to save the Revolution from the various plots which there is no denying were at this time constantly being hatched against it, was only concerned to keep public attention alive to the manoeuvres of the Court and its satellites. As is justly observed in the excellent article on Marat, constituting, so far as I am aware, the first defence of the "People's Friend " in the English language, in the Fortnightly Review for February 1874, from the pen of Mr. Bowen Graves
"Threats of bloodshed are, no doubt, only too frequent, but always in language such as, to an impartial mind, excludes the idea of calculation. One day it is ten thousand heads that must fall, the next it is a hundred thousand, a third it drops to fifty thousand, a fourth to twenty, and so on. A few months before his death, he tells us in his journal what he meant by them: `I used them,' he says, ` with a view to produce a strong impression on men's minds, and to destroy all fatal security.' There is nothing to be found in the pages of the Ami du Peuple approaching in cold bloodthirstiness what is to be met with repeatedly in the Actes des Apôtres, for example, or the Journal de la Cour et de la Ville. Or, to take another example, ` It will cost ten thousand lives to save the country,' says one man; ` When compromise was proposed,' says another, `to the effect that the Government should enter Paris, but not the army, I replied that if it should cost a river of blood the army should enter first.'"
Marat and the Commune of 1871 have, of course, been represented as abnormal monstrosities of wickedness, but Adolphe Louis Thiers, who was responsible for the deliverance which closes the above quotation, has gone down to history as an eminent statesman, a lover of his country and a champion of respectability and moral order. "If I knock you down, mind, it's nothing, but if you hit me back again it's a bastardly outrage!" The above observation, represented by Punch as addressed by a special constable to a Chartist, has its application in every struggle between constituted authority, backed by wealth and privilege, and revolution. Officialism cannot commit crimes; the most it can do is to make mistakes. Revolution, on the contrary, it would seem, cannot make mistakes, it can only commit crimes. It is true that Marat did not believe in the sacrosanctity of reactionists, as against those of his own side. On this point, indeed, he has a note in No.121 of the Ami. "Will they accuse me of being cruel," he says, "who cannot even see an insect suffer? but when I find that, in order to spare a few drops of blood, one risks shedding floods of it, I am indignant in spite of myself at our false maxims of humanity, and at our foolish regard for our cruel enemies; fools that we are, we fear to cause them a scratch; - let them but be masters one day, and you will soon see them overrun the provinces, fire and sword in hand, striking down all those who offer them any resistance, massacring the friends of the country, slaughtering women and children, and reducing our cities to ashes."
Though the law relative to the press had not yet been passed by the Constituent, the placard "C'en est fait de nous" was denounced in the Assembly by the reactionary deputy, Malouet, on the 31st of July, and on his motion a decree was passed ordering the Royal prosecutor of the Court of the Châtelet immediately to take proceedings against the authors, printers, and circulators of writings exciting the people to insurrection against the laws, shedding of blood, or the overturning of the Constitution. This decree, which was, of course, meant to cover Marat's placard, was rescinded two days later on the motion of the Girondist, Pétion, on the ground that its vague expressions might lend themselves to arbitrary prosecutions; but at the same time proceedings were ordered to be taken against the incriminating placard. Nothing daunted, on the 11th of August Marat issued a second placard, beginning "On nous endort, prenons-y garde!" which may be freely rendered into colloquial English, "They are bulldosing us, look out!" It was dictated by the action of the Châtelet against those who had taken part in the events of the 5th and 6th of October of the previous year; these were being treated as evidence of a treasonable plot against the Royal family. Against this Marat protests with his usual energy, declaring the proceedings to be a subterfuge to call off public attention by the invention of a purely imaginary conspiracy from the real counter-revolutionary plots then being fomented by the agents of Royalism.
The placard contains a reiteration of the doctrine already enunciated in the Plan de Législation criminelle." The Prince," it says, " being only a servant of the nation, the attempt against his life could never be anything but a private crime, such as the attempt against the life of any other mandatory of the people - a crime less serious than an attempt against the country." On the 22nd of the month appeared a third placard, " C'est un beau rêve, gare au reveil!" (It is a beautiful dream, beware of the awakening!). This time the object was to guard the public from being deceived by the representations in various quarters by the Reaction, that the provinces were loudly denouncing a return to "order," to wit, the Ancien Régime; that the misery of the people proceeded from the Revolution; that the revolted regiments were everywhere returning to their duty, and that it was the business of the Assembly to follow suit, as the interpreter of the general sentiment. These assertions are severally refuted, and the placard terminates with a vehement appeal to the people to take warning in time, or be prepared to live its days out in oppression and slavery.
Finally, on the 23rd of August, the walls of Paris were found covered with the fourth of these celebrated placards of Marat. This fourth and last of the present series is perhaps the most important of them all. It deals with the affair of Nancy - an affair which shook France and produced much sensation throughout Europe at the time.
The incident referred to took place in August 1790. Bouillé, in consequence of the insubordination of two battalions of Swiss Guards, animated, it is said, by revolutionary principles and supported by some French National Guards at Châteaux Vieux, near Nancy, besieged the town of Nancy, whither the revolted regiments had retired, with a small army of four or five thousand men. On his subsequently entering the town, a pitched battle was fought in the streets, when the Swiss, with the French Guards who had joined them and who were supported by the population, were slain to the extent of more than half their number.
Wholesale executions followed the restoration of "order" in the town. The King and the majority of the Assembly exasperated the revolutionary parties outside on this occasion by specially thanking the General for his conduct, and adjuring him to continue in the same course.
Marat's placard is headed "L'affreux Reveil " (The Frightful Awakening). The Reaction both in the Assembly and outside would have had the public regard the recalcitrant Swiss and their French colleagues as no more than mutineers, and clamoured for the execution of a number of the survivors. "Barbarians," writes Marat in this placard, "these men whom you are going to massacre are your brothers; they are innocent; they are oppressed; that which you did on the 14th of July they are doing today; they are opposing themselves to their slaughterers. Will you punish them for following your example and repelling their tyrants?" Marat continues, after urging anew the innocence of the revolted battalions and the guilt of their commanders: "The National Assembly itself, by the vice of its composition, by the depravity of the greater part of its members, by the unjust vexations and tyrannical decrees which are daily forced from it, no longer merits your confidence." He goes on to describe as a band of enemies of the Revolution and of liberty "those whom you have the stupidity to regard as representatives of that nation whose mortal enemies they are; these are the men you regard as legislators, and whose decrees you have the folly to respect." The placard ends with an appeal to the people to come to the succour of their brethren, and to disillusionise the citizen-soldiers. "I invite all the Swiss," he says, "to support their compatriots; disarm the German satellites who slaughter your fellow-citizens; arrest their officers and let the avenging axe immolate them at last on the altar of liberty! "
This affair of Châteaux Vieux or of Nancy, as it was variously called, naturally for days filled the journals of the time on both sides, the Ami du Peuple included. Many "patriots" were disheartened, not a few of the friends of liberty seeing therein the indefinite postponement, if not the death, of their hopes. Loustalot, the popular journalist, and the editor of the Révolutions de Paris, died of grief at the blow he thought the Revolution had received. Marat has an eloquent article on the subject of his death. "As long as the sun shall illumine the earth," he exclaims, "the friends of liberty will recall Loustalot with tenderness, their children will each day bless his memory, and his name, inscribed in the glorious annals of the Revolution, will descend with glory to our latest descendants! Dear and sacred shade, if thou still preservest some remembrance of the things of life in the abode of the blest, suffer that a brother in arms whom thou hast never seen may water with his tears thy mortal remains and throw some flowers on thy tomb! Let our faithless representatives put on mourning for the oppressors of liberty - children of the country will never wear it save for its defenders; and we, their honest advocates, let us redouble our energy in sustaining their cause, and repair by our zeal the cruel loss we have suffered! " In the end, the revolted regiments were avenged, the authorities had to capitulate, and the survivors among the victims were received in high festival by the Paris populace.
This Nancy affair contributed to augment Marat's already powerful influence considerably. About the same time took place the resignation of the finance minister, Necker, on the excuse of fatigue and disgust. Respecting this event, Marat says (Ami, No.214), in an article in the form of a letter to the late minister, "You accuse destiny of the ill-success attending the events of your career. How would it be if, like the `People's Friend,' the prey of a mortal malady, you had renounced the preservation of your life in order to enlighten the people on their duties; if you had been reduced to bread and water in order to consecrate all you possess to public affairs; if, in order to save the wretched, you had quarrelled with all the world, without preserving for yourself a single refuge under the sun!" And again: "If, fleeing from asylum to asylum, you had been driven to live in a cellar to save a stupid, blind, and ungrateful people!" But amid all his troubles, public and private, one cause of satisfaction, alike public and private, awaited Marat. On the 6th of September 1790, the Constituent Assembly formally abolished the ancient Court of the Châtelet. This measure Marat had been ceaselessly demanding for a year past, denouncing the effete tribunal as a hotbed of reaction and corruption. As to the composition of the new National High Court, which was to take its place, Marat was vehement in his demands for the rejection of all functionaries belonging to the " Judicature of the Ancien Régime, "except where such had afforded conclusive evidence of patriotism.
On the 14th of September a notice appeared in the Ami du Peuple to the effect that a number was in preparation dealing with the conduct of Lafayette, just as the celebrated number of the 22nd of January, the day of the momentous attack on Marat's house, had been devoted to the delinquencies of Necker. Now the object of the projected attack was determined at all costs to do his best to prevent this number appearing. As has already been stated, his own presses having been confiscated at the time of the abortive attempt to seize him which led to his flight, Marat had on his return from England been compelled once more to give the production of the Ami du Peuple into the hands of ordinary printers. It was accordingly against the Sieur André, Marat's printer, and the Dame Méginier, whose function it was to distribute the copies of the paper to the street vendors, that the attacks were directed. The following day, the 15th, at one o'clock in the morning (Ami, No.224),the street where the printing-office was situated was alive with 300 National Guards, while a police agent obtained entrance by a ruse. In a moment the place was filled with uniforms. On the first floor the printers were discovered "taking off" the redoubtable number. All the copies were seized, the presses were overturned and smashed with blows from axes; the room where the master was sleeping was forced open, and he was compelled to rise with a bayonet at his chest. After repeated demands to show authorisation, a note was produced signed by Bailly and Lafayette, ordering the raid on the printing-office, together with the arrest of the proprietor on his refusal to betray the address of Marat. The Sieur André replied, protesting his ignorance of the where-abouts of the popular journalist, and pleading the illegality and injustice of seizing his person and imprisoning him for the offence of not being acquainted with Marat's domicile. The journal, he said moreover, was signed by the author as the law required, and hence they had no right to confiscate copies of the paper, still less to smash up his (André's) presses. All this, though it had the effect of relieving the Sieur André's person from further molestation, did not prevent the seizure of the edition of the paper. The emissaries of Lafayette then decamped with their spoil to Dame Méginier, where they forced drawers and chests, ripped open the bed with their bayonets, emptied the pockets of the good woman, and departed at daybreak. Marat's comment on the whole business was, that it seemed now a question not so much of getting rid of the old tyrants as of exterminating the new ones.
The affair of Nancy had more to do than anything else in establishing a gulf between the constitutional reformers and the revolutionary party proper. Addressing the authorities, Marat says, referring to it, "I no longer consider myself engaged by the Constitution since you yourselves have violated it." Henceforward, thinks Marat, it is war to the knife. There are henceforward only two parties, the party of the Revolution, of the Sovereignty of the people, of Liberty; and the party of Counter-revolution, of Reaction, of Royalism. All who, whatever their profession otherwise, favour measures initiated by the latter, be their excuse what it may, must be regarded from henceforth as the "enemy." Now more than ever it behoves "patriots" to adopt the attitude of ceaseless watchfulness, of défiance. Marat himself, as the sentinel of the Revolution par excellence, will certainly not fail in this respect. Denunciations of all official personages, high or low, whose acts give cause for suspicion, will be unsparingly dewith by the "People's Friend." "Hypocrisy," says Marat, "is the characteristic vice of all public functionaries; hence whenever the ` People's Friend' can raise his voice, he will apply himself to destroy the baneful delusion of blind security" (Ami, No.302).
At this time the Ami du Peuple was the most widely-read paper in Paris of all the revolutionary press. Lafayette was now at the height of his power, and the risks run by "patriot" journalists were enormous. Two further attempts were made this year (1790) to prevent the issue of the paper and to obtain possession of the person of Marat. One domiciliary visit was made on the 2nd of December, and another on the 14th of the same month, but both without any important result. The remarkable thing was the astonishing energy of the man, who could find means, in spite of confiscation, the smashing of presses, and similar devices, to prevent an interruption in the issue of his journal for even a single day.
Of Marat's exceptional ability as a reader of character, in spite of some failures, there can be no two opinions. In July 1790 he had already thrown out a word of warning concerning the popular idol Mirabeau, whom he suspected, even at that time, of intrigues with the Court. He points out that all reactionary measures of the Constituent Assembly had been consecrated by the eloquence of Mirabeau, and this eloquence it was, said he, which blinded people who would not have done so otherwise into accepting them. Marat continued to keep an eye on the great orator, and became more and more convinced of his venality as time went on. "Two years ago," writes Marat in No.290 of the Ami, "Riquetti (Mirabeau) was obliged to send his breeches to the pawnshop (mont de piété) for six francs; today he swims in opulence, and has three mistresses whom he loads with gifts." He proceeds in a subsequent number to reckon up the sums Mirabeau paid for various possessions, which he found to amount to 2,850,000 livres (francs). Two years later - on the discovery of the celebrated iron chest in the wainscotting of the Tuileries - convincing proofs were found of Mirabeau's corruption. Bouillé states in his Mémoires (p.198) that the King had told him he could always count on Mirabeau to further his counter-revolutionary plots, that he had just paid him 600,000 livres, and had granted him an income of 50,000 a month, with limitless promises in proportion to the services rendered. This time, when at the height of his power, the fall and flight of his old enemy Lafayette was predicted by Marat. Similarly, at a later period, he prophesied the treachery and desertion of Dumouriez. We must not forget, too, the last article Marat wrote, - the proof of it was splashed with his blood, - which contained a precise forecast of the development of the public life of Barère, who at that time enjoyed the confidence of the most accredited " patriots."
By the beginning of the year 1791, the political power of Marat had reached its height. Not content with attacking by legal methods, we find one battalion of Lafayette's National Guards pledging themselves on oath to assassinate Marat; on the other hand, he had many secret friends in other quarters, even amongst the National Guards themselves and their officers. Thus, before the perquisition of the 14th of December, he received, in all, seventeen letters from such, warning him of the intended raid, and urging him to place himself in safety. "With such men," exclaims Marat in one place, "we need not despair of the public safety." Needless to say, however, among Lafayette's guards they were a small minority. Marat having on one occasion sent a number of his paper to the battalion quartered in the section Bonne Nouvelle, it was ordered to be publicly burnt in the presence of the whole company in the courtyard of the barracks. The most frivolous pretexts were employed by men of the moderate party to discredit the object of their fear and hatred. Thus Marat was accused of not having formally taken the civic oath, to which he pertinently observed, that his civic oath was graven in letters of flame, in the files of the Ami du Peuple. In addition to this, he objected to an oath which pledged the juror to unconditional fidelity to the King, to laws good or bad, and to the Constitution in the form in which it had left the hands of the Constituent Assembly. He proceeds, on the other hand, to formulate various principles for which the Ami du People has combated, and which he is prepared to swear to with all his heart. The editor of a Lafayettist print made an abortive attempt at a libel action against the "People's Friend." The Mayor Bailly, having on this occasion taken his seat as President of the Tribunal, had to be reminded that he was personally interested in the case before him, after which he retired, amid the applause of the assembled public. A grenadier who happened to be present, standing up on a bench, declared that he was the "soul of Marat," and that before Marat should be attacked he would fall.
On the 3rd of April 1791, Mirabeau died. He had been regarded by all parties as the man of the situation, the "man of destiny" in fact, destined to carry France through the throes of the Revolution and establish the new constitution on an impregnable basis. His death was therefore universally viewed as a public calamity. The popular feeling on the subject is illustrated by the story of the guest at one of the Palais Royal restaurants, who, on remarking to the waiter that it was a fine day, received for answer, "Yes, monsieur, but M. Mirabeau is dead." We have said that the death of the great orator was universally looked on as a public calamity. This is not strictly accurate, for there was one notable exception to the general voice of approbation and lamentation. The solitary discordant note was struck by the irrepressible "People's Friend." We have already seen the judgment he had formed of Mirabeau's character and public life, and shall not therefore be surprised to find in the Ami for the 4th of April (No.419) an article headed " Funeral Oration on Riquetti, called ' Mirabeau,' " couched in the following terms: "People, give thanks to the gods! Your most redoubtable enemy has fallen beneath the scythe of Fate. Riquetti is no more; he dies victim of his numerous treasons, victim of his too tardy scruples, victim of the barbarous foresight of his atrocious accomplices. - Adroit rogues, to be found in all circles, have sought to play upon your pity, and already duped with their false discourse, you regret this traitor as the most zealous of your defenders; they have represented his death as a public calamity, and you bewail him as a hero, who has sacrificed himself for you, and as the saviour of your country. Will you always be deaf to the voice of prudence; will you always sacrifice public affairs to your blindness? The life of Riquetti was stained by a thousand crimes; let a black veil henceforward cover the shameful fabric, since it can no longer injure you, and let the recital scandalise the living no more! But beware of prostituting your incense; keep your tears for your honest champions; remember that he was one of the born lacqueys of the despot; that he only found fault with the Court in order to gain your suffrages; that he was scarcely elected to the Estates-General to defend your interests before he sold your most sacred rights; that after the fall of the Bastille he showed himself the most ardent supporter of despotism; that he abused a hundred times his talents to put again into the monarch's hands all the forces of authority; that it is to him you owe all the fatal decrees that have placed you again under the yoke and that have riveted your irons: the decrees concerning martial law, the suspensive veto, the independence of the delegates of the nation, the silver mark, the supreme executive power, the congratulations of the assassins of Metz, the monopoly of the currency by small assignats, the permission to emigrate accorded to the conspirators, etc.!"
The flight of the King and of the Royal family, which took place on the 21st of June 1791, Marat had foreseen as probable more than a month before. In his number of the 22nd of March he had explained the situation, pointing out that a hostile army of 24,000 men was encamped on the frontiers, and that the National Guards of many departments were inadequately supplied with arms and ammunition, and moreover were commanded by reactionary officers. All that prevented a move of overt hostility on the part of Austria and those in league with her was the fact that the King, for whose safety they feared, was in Paris. This hostage once safely across the frontier, the enemy would advance on Paris, where the Assembly and "traitorous Municipality" would humble themselves before the monarch; a portion of the National Guards would join the enemy of the people, while the people, without arms or money, would be offered the alternative of slavery or death. These remarks were made à propos of the proposal of the Court to transfer itself from the Tuileries to Saint Cloud, the idea being, of course, that the projected flight would be easier from there than from the centre of the metropolis. "It is all up with liberty, it is all up with the country," concludes Marat, "if we suffer the Royal family to quit the Tuileries!"
The abortive result of the flight, and the circumstances attending the discovery and enforced return of the King, henceforth half a prisoner in his own capital, are too well known to need recital in the present work. The affair, it is hardly necessary to remind the reader, sealed the fate of the monarchy, already shaken to its foundations. It survived, it is true, rather more than twelve months from this time, but during those months it was plainly tottering to its fall. " Behold him," writes Marat in his number of the 27th of June (Ami, 503), "brought once again within our walls, this crowned brigand, perjurer, traitor, and conspirator, without honour and without soul! In the very midst of the procession which led him prisoner, he seemed insensible to the infamy of being dragged in a chariot filled with the criminal accomplices of his misdeeds, to the infamy of being exposed to the eyes of a countless number of his fellow-citizens, formerly his slaves. Any other would have died of sorrow and shame, but he only understands animal sufferings. The whole time that he was in the hands of the soldiers of the country, he did not cease to entreat them to do him no harm, and he thought of nothing but of begging them for food, and above all for drink."
The republican sentiment that had been growing for some time in the clubs and the popular assemblies now found definite expression in a loud demand for abdication. This culminated in the drawing up of a gigantic petition, which was laid on the "Altar of the Country," a wooden erection established in the Champs de Mars the previous summer (1790), on the occasion of the great festival of the Constitution. Here all were invited by the popular societies to sign, on Sunday the 17th of July 1791. Crowds thronged the great open space from early morning onwards. Two supposed spies, found underneath the wooden erection, were hanged at the lamppost. Finally, at about half-past seven in the evening, the crowd showing no signs of diminution, Mayor Bailly and the Municipal authorities appeared, bearing with them the red flag, at that time the symbol of martial law. So small, however, it is alleged, was this emblem as to be only visible to those immediately around. The municipals were followed by battalions of National Guards, the upshot of the whole being the order to fire, without, however, it is alleged, the three summonses to disperse prescribed by the law having been first made. The order was followed by a fusillade, in which some hundreds were declared to have fallen, killed or wounded. Such was the celebrated "Massacre of the Champs de Mars," in the initiation of which Bailly and Lafayette were regarded as the leading spirits, and which constitutes one more of the leading landmarks in the course of the French Revolution. The event caused a panic in the ranks of the revolutionary party generally. Numbers of journalists dropped their pens and fled. Marat, almost alone, remained in the breach, and he as bold and as outspoken as ever. But, however brave he might be himself, Marat could not succeed in infusing his courage into printers and distributors, and three days after the events described the journal had to be suspended, failing the services of these indispensable adjuncts to journalistic enterprise. The panic in the ranks of the "patriotic" caused by the affair of the 17th was complete; between the a 21st of July and the 10th of August no number of the Ami appeared. We should not omit to mention here, as illustrating the devotion which the man whom Carlyle characterises as an "obscene spectrum" could call forth in the fair sex, that the only one of those engaged in the production of the Ami who did not desert was a young woman, who remained till she was arrested by the emissaries of Bailly.
On the panic subsiding somewhat, Marat found means to republish his paper, and on the 10th of August the hawkers were again to be heard crying the Ami du Peuple in the streets of Paris. Referring to the slaughter of the 17th of the previous month, Marat writes, "If heaven deigns to mix itself up in affairs here below, may these monsters soon become the objects of its avenging anger! May the people rise at once in all corners of the kingdom and immolate them to its just fury!" But though the Ami had reappeared, its publication was no longer so uninterrupted as it had been before the affair of the Champs de Mars. But there was no "climbing down" in the tone of the articles. "For myself," says Marat, "the Prince will never be anything else but a tyrant, his ministers atrocious traitors, the lacqueys who concoct his decrees perfidious scoundrels, and well-nigh all the present public functionaries prostituted rascals." Meanwhile the time for the dissolution of the "Constituent Assembly" and the election of its successor, the so-called "Legislative Assembly," drew on apace. The Constituent Assembly, as the reader will remember, was simply the old assembly of the States-General amalgamated as one parliamentary body. The new Legislative Assembly was to be convoked under the somewhat complicated electoral laws the Constituent Assembly had passed. In a moment of self-abnegation the members of the Constituent had resolved not to allow themselves to be nominated for the Legislative, so the new parliament would consist of entirely fresh men. Marat hoped that it would prove better than its predecessor. For this reason he seems to have resolved to terminate his career as journalist on the dissolution of the parliamentary body whose measures had been the object of such scathing criticism from his pen. With the solitary exception of the "Declaration of the Rights of Man," which was an abstract statement of principle, he regarded all the work done by the Constituent as, when not overtly reactionary, tainted with reactionary tendencies. His number of the 8th of September (No.549) contains his journalistic farewell to the outgoing parliament. He here declares that he is tired of risking the galleys, or possibly the hangman's rope, in defending the rights of the nation and telling the King hometruths, and that he proposes henceforward renouncing the foolish enterprise of sacrificing himself for the public good and taking steps for the rehabilitation of his shattered fortune, having been reduced to the greatest straits in the pursuit of this insensate object. He had even, he says, been robbed by citizens with whom he had sought an asylum. Marat had, in fact, resolved not merely to cease the publication of his journal, but to leave France altogether and return to England. The Ami of the 21st of September (No.556) contains "the last farewell of the `People's Friend' to the country." He here recalls the persecutions he has undergone, during the last eighteen months, in pursuance of the people's cause. "I should have been protected, caressed, feted, if I could but have resolved to keep silence. How much gold would have been showered upon me had I been content to dishonour my pen!" He has, he says, resisted these temptations and preserved a clear conscience. Knowing as we now do the amounts the Royalist party were prepared to spend at the time, in bribing the leaders of public opinion, no one can reasonably doubt that Marat speaks the truth when he intimates that he might have been a millionaire had he chosen to sell himself. Instead of riches, which he might have had, he is left, he says, with some debts, "with which I have been saddled by the faithless manipulators to whom I had at first confided the printing and the publication of my paper. I am about to abandon to these creditors the remains of the little that I have, and I fly without money, without help, without resources, to vegetate in the only corner of the earth where it will still be permitted me to breathe in peace, preceded by the clamour of calumny, slandered by the public rascals whom I have exposed, charged with the maledictions of all the enemies of the country, abhorred by the great and by those in authority, and branded in all the ministerial cabinets as a monster to stifle. Perhaps it will not be long before I am forgotten by the very people to whose safety I sacrificed myself, happy if the regrets of patriots should accompany me; but I take with me the witness of a good conscience that I shall be followed by the esteem of all true souls." Marat seems at this time to have been alternating between hope and despair with regard to public affairs. He had hopes indeed from the fresh blood of the Assembly about to be elected, but he also, it seems, had doubts as to whether the French people were made for liberty. The above farewell of his may be read in connection with an article on this question a few weeks before. "We so perfectly resemble," he says, "the Romans under the despots who so tyrannised over them after the fall of the Republic, that it is impossible to read Satires VI., VII., and VIII. of Juvenal, written under Domitian, and not recognise our gallant ladies, our men of letters, and our former nobles in the picture Juvenal gives us of those of Rome. But it is in Satire XVII. that the Parisians may best see themselves, in the portrait there offered of avarice, rapacity, fraud, rascality, perfidy, brigandage, and the crimes of all sorts which sullied Rome" (Ami, No.539). Marat then translates portions of Juvenal as illustrating the insolence of the military and the partiality of the Courts.
The number containing the farewell above quoted was intended to be the last written from Paris, since on the evening of the day on which it appeared Marat set out for England. He had evidently, however, made arrangements for a continuance of the publication for some days longer. The following number is dated from Clermont, the next from Breteuil, and the next from Amiens. By the 27th the "People's Friend " found himself on his way back to Paris. Why he changed his resolution is not quite clear, but the circumstances are thus given, in No.560 of the Ami, by Marat himself. "The `People's Friend,"' he says, "having entered the Hotel d'Angleterre at Amiens, hears a spy remark to a companion that he recognises him. No doubt there was an amnesty, but the `People's Friend' is always a good prize." Marat feigns not to see anything, walks leisurely, and suddenly disappears behind a hedge. A shepherd passing, he requests to be conducted on the road to Paris by a circuitous route, as he had abandoned the intention of proceeding to London. The man offered him as a guide a patriot, an old French Guard; so Marat, having donned the habit of a peasant, proceeded with his companion. At Beauvais a cabriolet is obtained, and on the morrow Marat is once more established in Paris.
The 1st of October saw the opening of the second French parliament, called the Legislative Assembly; if the "Constituent" had been dominated, in the main, by the moderate Constitutionalists, the " Legislative " was largely influenced by the principles of the Girondin party, which formed a compact phalanx of its members. The Girondins, it is true, represented a more advanced phase of the political movement than the Constitutionalists. In principle at least they were Republican, while the Constitutionalists swore by the theory of a more or less limited monarchy. But, as has often enough been said before, the Girondins were pedants to the backbone. They believed in a Republic based on the respectability of the cultured bureaucrat of the period, on "virtue," on classic models; and they seem to have been firmly convinced that the perfect way to its realisation lay through oratory and well-turned periods. Though perhaps less corrupt and less directly self-seeking in their aims, they had as little notion of the economic change implied in the Revolution or of its true historic significance as the Constitutionalists, into whose place they stepped.
The Girondins took their name from the department of the Gironde, their three chief orators, Vergniaud, Guadet, and Gensonne, hailing from Bordeaux. The nominal leader of the party, however, being Brissot, they were also called Brissotins. Brissot, in fact, at this time was the leader of the entire left in the Legislative Assembly, for the split, which in the Convention developed into the great antagonism between the "Gironde" and the "Montagne," was not as yet unmistakably apparent, although its beginnings might have been readily noticed by a careful observer.
Marat, who was remaining in Paris in the hope of seeing better results from the new "Legislative" than those obtained from the old "Constituent" Assembly, was, as one might imagine, particularly disgusted when, on its third sitting, the new Parliament took a solemn oath to maintain intact the Constitution established by its predecessor - a constitution which was notoriously, in many points, out of harmony with the principles on which the Revolution was supposed to be founded. Martial law, the inviolability of legislators, arbitrary restrictions on press freedom, - these and other things of a similar nature might be considered as part of the Constitution which the new Assembly swore to preserve.
"Friends of the country," exclaims Marat (Ami, No.568), "this buffoonery is the tomb of dawning liberty, the new Conscript Fathers are worth no more than the old!" Nevertheless, Marat continued to struggle with the forces against him. Notwithstanding a Brissotin influence in the Legislature, notwithstanding even a ministry mainly composed of Brissotin elements, the new body - even if revolutionary phrases were more on the lips of its orators - Marat felt to be pursuing substantially the same course as the old one. But, however despondent might be the "People's Friend" himself, however thankless he might feel the task to be in which he was engaged, never was there a time when his journal was more eagerly read, nor his influence greater with the public at large, than during these three last months of 1791. The Ami du Peuple now obviously stood out from all its contemporaries as the Parisian journal of widest circulation and greatest influence. Marat had become a political force, not only to be feared by those in authority, but to be reckoned with by all. Despair, however, of the situation, acting on a constitution already enfeebled by chronic disease and overwork, gained the upper hand before the year expired. On the 14th of December appears a second farewell to the readers of the redoubtable Ami. "Oh, my country!" cries Marat, "what frightful destiny the future reserves for thee! A fatal decree of pitiless fortune will always hold the veil of illusion and error pressed to thy forehead, to prevent thee from profiting by thy resources, and to deliver thee defenceless into the hands of thy cruel enemies! Today there remains no means of preventing thy ruin, and thy faithful friend has no other duty to render thee than that of deploring thy sad destinies, and of shedding tears of blood over thy too prolonged disasters." The next day, the 15th of December, Marat once more set out for London, determined this time that nothing should induce him to swerve from his purpose. Only a day or two before, Bourdon, one of the leading men of the section of the Louvre, had written to him exhorting him to spare himself while it was yet time, urging the uselessness of attempting to rouse the "stupid citizens of Paris" to action. "For two years," says he, "they have not ceased to decry the `People's Friend' as an incendiary. They will soon see the torrents of blood which will flow because they had feared to shed a few drops as he had advised, in order by terror to restrain the enemies of liberty and thus assure the public welfare."
Marat reached London almost without resources, hoping perhaps once more to gain a living by the practice of medicine through the influence of those of his old patients who were surviving. The accustomed cry of the Paris hawkers, "L'Ami du Peuple, L'Ami du Peuple de M. Marat," was heard no more. But not many days were over before the numerous political societies of the French capital began to feel the loss of their friend and adviser. The first sign of life the Parisians had from Marat was on the 3rd of March 1792, when the following letter was received by the president of the Cordeliers' Club:
MR. PRESIDENT - I should today claim the engagement entered into by
the friends of the rights of man, of propagating the principles of the
"People's Friend," if I were in need of any other motive than their devotion
of citizenship for making them concur with me to enlighten the people on
their rights, to form a public spirit, to revive patriotism, and to make
triumphant the cause of liberty. After fighting without relaxation for
three consecutive years against reviving despotism, I have been forced
to quit at last a career where I have found nothing but fatigue, difficulties,
annoyances, misery, peril, sorrow, disgust, and in which I could do no
more good to the People, but always less discouraged by the attempts of
the enemies of the country than by the blindness and lukewarmness of her
children. I have yet never abandoned their interests. I have only thought
that it would be most usefully serving them to develop before their eyes
the striking picture of the machinations of the cruel enemies sworn to
their destruction, of the crafty policy of the Constituent Assembly, and
of the vices of the Constitution - vices which are the curse of France
and which will be an eternal source of anarchy and civil dissension till
they are corrected. After all the schemes of the Government for suppressing
my writings, travestying them, abusing their author, and representing him
as sold to the enemies of the country, that which I propose to publish
cannot produce all the good that is to be expected from it if the "patriots"
of the departments have not the certitude that it issues from the pen of
the true "People's Friend. The society over which you preside, sir, knows
my principles and has declared itself their propagator. I expect from its
zeal in public affairs that it will undertake to convey the prospectus
of my work to all the patriot societies of the kingdom, engaging them to
give it the greatest publicity possible. For my part, I shall use every
means to place it within reach of the poorest citizen, designed as it is
to put the People on its guard against unfaithful leaders, to disclose
the traps of the rascals bribed to enchain it, to cause it to know what
laws must be reformed and what laws must be passed, in order to ensure
liberty and public happiness. Such a work will become the school of patriots.
I pray you, sir, to lay my request before the society and to make known
its decision to the citizen who brings you this letter. Receive my patriotic
MARAT, the "People's Friend."
This letter is dated "Paris, the 3rd of March 1792." Whence we may conclude that Marat had already reached Paris by the first week in March. The news of the return of the "People's Friend," and of the prospects of his resuming his political activity, was, of course, greeted with enthusiasm by the popular societies. The Ecole du Citoyen, as Marat's proposed work was to be entitled, was intended to form, as the prospectus stated, 2 vols. 8vo of about 400 pages each, and the subscription price was to be 6 livres 10 sols. (6f. 10c.) for Paris, and 7 livres 10 sols. (7f. 10c.) for the departments. With the issue of this prospectus appeared a formal invitation of the Patriotic Societies of the capital, asking the author to resume his pen, having, as they stated, felt, since the suspension of the journal entitled the Ami du Peuple, that the country had lost its most zealous defender. They suggest that steps should be taken to ensure the spread of the journal, so dreaded by the enemies of liberty throughout the provinces, at the lowest possible price. Subscriptions were to be sent to the secretaries of the provincial patriotic societies that were affiliated to the Jacobin Society of Paris.
Marat, when he secretly returned to France, had taken up his abode at No.270 Rue St. Honoré, in an apartment rented by the three sisters Evrard. While there, although, as we have seen, immediately on his arrival he had taken steps to secure the assistance of the patriotic societies for the publication of his proposed new work, as well as for the reappearance of the Ami du Peuple, weeks went by and neither the Ecole du Citoyen nor the Ami du Peuple saw the light. Meanwhile Marat, not wishing to embarrass his hostesses, sought refuge with his friend Jacques Roux. At last one of the sisters, named Simonne, resolved to devote her share of the family fortune to resuscitating the revolutionary organ. We may here mention that Marat, as would appear from the document given in the next chapter, was engaged to Simonne Evrard at the time of his departure for London. We merely mention Simonne here in passing, as we shall shortly return to the subject. With the money furnished by this devoted woman, the Ami du Peuple was now able to reappear. Up to this time, in spite of the good-will of the "patriots" of patriotic societies, want of means had made this impossible. On the 12th of April 1792, after a suspension of nearly four months, the wonted cry of the street-hawkers was again heard.
Within the last few months several things had happened. Lafayette had ceased to be the Commandant of the National Guard, an office which was now held in turn by the six generals of divisions. Bailly had been replaced as Mayor by Pétion since the 20th of November. Other changes had also taken place in the municipal administration. The leader of the emigrants, including the brothers of the King, had been declared accused. A foreign coalition, consisting of Austria, Prussia, and Russia, had been formed against France, and war loomed nearer every day. Bouillé was urging on the organisation and armament of the Royalist rebels, the emigrants. The Emperor Leopold II, however, died on the 1st of March, and Gustave III of Sweden, who was intended to be placed at the head of the French Emigrants, was assassinated on the 29th of the month. Finally, a ministry of strong Girondin proclivities had been for some weeks in power. The Girondin Roland now held the portfolio of the Interior, De Grave that of War, while Dumouriez was at the Foreign Office, Gamier was Minister of Justice, and Clavière of Finance. At the head of the new series of the Ami du Peuple appeared a resolution of the Cordeliers' Club, characterising the silence of Marat as a veritable public calamity, and beseeching him to take up his pen again at the earliest possible opportunity. Marat found that no less than four spurious Amis had been brought into existence during his absence, and great were the efforts made to assure the public of the authenticity of the present issue. About a week after the resumed publication, on the 20th of April, war was declared by the Cabinet, in reality against the European coalition, though nominally against Francis II, "King of Hungary and Bohemia." This measure was popular with all parties. The Court had well-grounded hopes of its turning to the advantage of Royalism, by the success of the allies over officers many of whom were in its direct service, and hence only too anxious to be defeated, and over a badly-organised army. It would, moreover, carry off vast numbers of "fighting patriots," who might prove dangerous at home. It also afforded an excuse for levying heavy taxes. The revolutionary parties, on the other hand, hoped to gain from the enthusiasm which the war would engender in the name of liberty, of the country, etc. The Girondins were, to a man, hotly in favour of the war. A portion only of the extreme Jacobins, including, however, the most able leaders, were opposed thereto. Danton and Robespierre strongly attacked the war-policy from the tribune of the Jacobins' Club. Let us hear what Marat says on the subject. "The war, will it take place?" he asks, on the eve of the Cabinet's decision. "Everybody is for it. We are assured that it is the opinion that has prevailed in the Cabinet, after the representations of Sieur Mottier (Gilbert Mottier, Marquis de Lafayette), who without doubt has given it as the only way of distracting the nation from internal matters by occupying it with foreign affairs; making it drown home troubles in the news of the gazettes, wasting the national wealth in military preparations, crushing the State under the burden of taxes, killing the patriots of the army of the line and of the citizen army, leading them to slaughter under the pretext of defending the frontiers of the empire." Farther on he says, "If the war takes place, whatever may be the bravery of the defenders of liberty, one need not be an eagle to foresee that our armies will be overwhelmed in the first campaign. I imagine that the second will be less disastrous, and that the third may even be glorious, for it is impossible that we should not gain some instruction at our own cost." History testifies to the truth of this prophecy. According to Marat, the Assembly ought to have apostrophised the King somewhat as follows: - "King of the French, it is in vain that you should conceal yourself in the follies of a tortuous policy in order to cover us with the disasters of war! You will not escape from the avenging arm of the people! We declare to you, in the name of the nation, that we will not treat with your colleagues, the princes of Europe, that we will not make any preparations for war! Compromise or not with them, you are the master! The care of recalling your rebellious brother and cousins concerns you, similarly that of turning aside your colleagues from all hostile enterprise. The frontiers of the State will remain open; but be assured that at the authentic news of the first body of enemies that crosses them, your culpable head will roll at your feet, and your entire race will be extinguished in its blood! "
Marat's articles on the war are admitted even by his detractors to be statesmanlike and master-pieces of political journalism. The question of the war was the cause of the first open breach between the Girondins and what afterwards became the party of the Mountain - the more decided, more energetic revolutionists of the Paris sections and the Clubs. The Girondins, or the Brissotins, as they were still mostly called, now acquired, owing to their pose, the nickname of "statesmen," an epithet Marat is especially fond of bestowing upon them. For the rest, the burden of Marat's preaching in the Ami du Peuple, after the outbreak of the war, was, if possible, a sharpening of the eternal vigilance he had preached from the beginning. Against one man particularly all "patriots" were to be on their guard, and that man was Mottier Lafayette.
At last the moderate parties, among whom we may now reckon the Girondins, were urged by their fears to attempt the forcible suppression of the "People's Friend," as in the old Lafayette-Bailly days. On the 4th of May the matter came before the Convention, in the form of a motion by the Girondin Lasource to the effect that the author of a certain article criticising the generals and sundry deputies should be prosecuted before the supreme National Court. As a counterblast to the Ami du Peuple, the Royalist party was now running a paper entitled L'Ami du Roi. The Girondin orators endeavoured to discredit Marat by pretending they were both the work of the same hand, or at least run with the same funds, with the object of discrediting the Revolution in the Royalist interests. The result was that the Assembly authorised proceedings simultaneously against both papers. Marat now resolved once more to resume his subterranean life. "They have launched against me a decree of accusation," he says (Ami, No.650). " I am ready to appear against them before any equitable tribunal, but I will not deliver myself over to tyrants whose hired satellites have orders without doubt to kill me while arresting me, or to imprison me in a dungeon. Let the Conscript Fathers who are persecuting me indict me before an English tribunal, and I pledge myself, the report of their séance in my hand, to have them condemned to the `Petites-Maisons' as madmen, and I pledge myself, my writings in my hand, to have them convicted as odious oppressors. They are already covered with opprobrium, may they soon be the object of public execration! "
The pursuit of Marat was so hot that for a whole week it was impossible to publish the paper. The affair of the Ami du Peuple now divided with the war the attention of the Assembly. In order to discover Marat's retreat, a decree was passed ordering every inhabitant of the capital to make a declaration of any person, French or foreigner, residing with him. But it was all to no effect. Marat's person could not be seized. The utmost that was accomplished was to throw obstacles in the way of the production of the Ami, in consequence of which there were numerous gaps in the publication during the ensuing weeks. On the 12th of June, a deputy accused the Minister of Justice of not fulfilling his engagement to the Legislature, to take steps for the suppression of the obnoxious journal. He complained that it was still circulating as freely as ever. "I have four or five of the last numbers," said he, "where Marat puts a price on the heads of generals, ministers, and members of the Assembly, whom he accuses of being in league with the Court to destroy the battalions of volunteer patriots." But to suppress the Ami du Peuple entirely was easier to promise than to perform. Despair once more laid hold of the "People's Friend " himself, and led once more to his announcing his intention of retiring from political life - an intention which, as on a former occasion, was not carried out.
The Girondins now began to attack other leaders of the extreme Jacobin party personally, Robespierre being especially the butt of their invectives. The Girondin Guadet went so far as to accuse Robespierre of having inspired an article in the Ami to the effect that the crisis through which France was passing urgently called for a Dictatorship. He intimated that the suggestion was a bid for supreme power for Robespierre. To this accusation Marat thought it necessary to give an explicit and detailed denial. "I owe," says he, "a precise and categorical reply to citizens too little enlightened to see the absurdity of the statement. I declare, then, that my paper is not at Robespierre's disposal, although it has often served to do him justice; and I protest that I have never received a single note from him; that I have never had any relation, direct or indirect, with him; that I have never seen him but once all my life; yet that on that single occasion our conversation sufficed to bring to light ideas and to disclose sentiments diametrically opposed to those Guadet and his clique attribute to me." The first word that Robespierre addressed to him related, he said, to the "sanguinary demands" for the blood of the enemies of liberty; these, Robespierre said, he was persuaded were only spoken "in the air" and were not seriously meant. Marat indignantly repudiated this view of Robespierre's, insisting that the value of his paper did not depend solely on methodical discussions on the political situation, but also on the fact that he allowed free vent to the feelings of his heart at the moment. He went on to insist that his indignation at the oppression of the legislators was equally real and its expression equally necessary. As to its being no mere rhetorical form, he assured Robespierre that, after the horrible affair of Nancy, he could have decimated the barbarous deputies who applauded it; that he would willingly have sent the infamous judges of the Châtelet to the stake; that again, after the massacre of the Champs de Mars, if he had but found two thousand men animated with the same sentiments as himself, he would have placed himself at their head, poniarded the General (Lafayette) in the midst of his brigand-battalions, burnt the despot in his palace, and strangled the traitorous representatives in their seats, as he had declared at the time.
"Robespierre listened to me with terror," he says; "he grew pale and was silent for some time. This interview confirmed me in the opinion that I always had of him, that he unites the knowledge of a wise senator to the integrity of a thoroughly good man and the zeal of a true patriot; but that he is lacking as a statesman alike as regards clearness of vision and determination." This is noteworthy as showing the extent to which Marat kept to himself. That he should have been for two years the great political force he was, and yet should have only once come into contact with that other growing force, the prominent leader of the Jacobin Club, the ex-member of the "Constituent," whose "incorruptibility" and whose "virtue" were already in every "patriotic" mouth, is at first sight scarcely credible; yet so it was. Marat was emphatically the lone, lorn man of the Revolution, who, even if he had many admirers at a distance, had no intimate friends. Never seen at the fashionable salons, where other revolutionary leaders forgathered, associating with no one, he was understood by no one, and by most grievously misjudged.
From the 15th of June to the 7th of July the Ami du Peuple had to be suspended. In consequence of the complaint made in the Assembly, the Executive felt itself called upon to take vigorous action against the "People's Friend" and his paper. At the same time the Royalist print, the Ami du Roi, in the decree against which a show of impartiality was at first made, was allowed to go its way unmolested. A partial renewal of the Ministry by the King did not change matters one way or the other; nor did the sham revolt of the 20th of June, got up under the auspices of the Girondin leaders, the primary object of which was to demand the reinstatement of the dismissed ministers of their party. Marat was carefully concealed all this time, and from the non-appearance of the Ami the authorities doubtless cherished the hope that, although they had failed to seize Marat in person, they had at least succeeded in extinguishing him as a political entity. Their security, however, was dispelled by the reappearance of the paper on the 7th of July, though only ten numbers in all appeared during the ensuing month.
The memorable 10th of August found Marat still in close concealment. But before the day was over, while the cannon was still thundering at the Tuileries, and while the Swiss Guards, deserted and forgotten by their Royal master, were, with the stupidity of mechanical fidelity, uselessly letting themselves be slaughtered in the hopeless attempt to hold the Palace against the armed populace of Paris, supported by the enthusiasm of the Southerners, men were seen placarding the walls of the city with an exhortation from the pen of the dauntless "People's Friend," from which we extract the salient passages.
It is headed "The 'People's Friend' to French Patriots," and begins: - "My dear Compatriots, a man who made himself for a long time anathema for you escapes today from his subterranean retreat to endeavour to assure victory to your hand. Eager to prove to you that he is not unworthy of your confidence, permit him to recall to you that he is still under the sword of tyranny for having unveiled to you the frightful machinations of your cruel enemies." The placard proceeds to show how all Marat's vaticinations had come true, how completely justified was his forecast of the war and his criticisms on the way it was being conducted. "The glorious day of the 10th of August 1792 may be decisive of the triumph of liberty, if you do but know how to profit by your advantage. A great number of the despot's satellites have eaten the dust, your implacable enemies are in consternation, but they will not be slow to return and reassert themselves in a more terrible form than before - After having shed your blood to drag the country from the abyss, tremble lest you become the victims of their secret plots - Dread the reaction, I repeat; your enemies will not spare you when their chance comes; therefore, no quarter! You are lost without recovery if you do not hasten to strike down the corrupt members of the Municipality of the Department, all the antipatriot judges, and the most putrid deputies of the National Assembly!" The placard then goes on to deprecate any sentimental respect for the said National Assembly, maintaining it to be utterly corrupt and at the service of the enemies of the people. "No one," says the author, "abhors the shedding of blood more than myself, but to prevent its being made to flow in streams, I urge you to sacrifice a few drops. To reconcile the duties of humanity with the cares of public safety, I propose to you, then, to decimate the counter-revolutionary members in the Municipality, among the judges, in the Department, and in the National Assembly; but above all things, hold the King, his wife, and son as hostages, and until his definite judgment shall be pronounced, let him be shown four times a day to the people! Moreover, since it depends upon him to rid us for ever of our enemies, declare to him that, if within fifteen days the Austrians and the Prussians are not removed twenty leagues from the frontier, never to return, his head shall roll at his feet." Marat had seen from the first that the war was mainly a dodge to introduce the King's friends, the allied powers, into France, with the object of crushing the Revolution and reinstating Louis as absolute monarch. Arrest of the ministers is advised and the holding of them in irons; also the execution of all the counter-revolutionary officers of the National Guard, with the disarming of certain battalions known to be reactionary. The convocation of a National Convention was, for the first time, demanded in this placard, which concludes, "Last of all, make the Assembly put a price on the heads of your cruel oppressors, the fugitive Capets, traitors and rebels! Tremble, tremble, lest you let a unique occasion escape that the tutelary genius of France has created for you, that you may depart out of the abyss and assure your liberty!" The placard is signed "Marat, the `People's Friend,"' and is dated "Paris, this 10th of August 1792; the printing-office of Marat."
The next day, the 11th of August, Marat once more, and now for the last time, emerged from his cellar-retreat into the light of day. His subsequent political career as an active adviser of the new insurrectionary Commune of Paris, and later on as deputy for Paris to the National Convention, will form the subject of a future chapter. With the great day of the 10th of August the first period of the French Revolution comes to an end. Men formerly in opposition are now masters, the Court as an institution finally disappears. A new governmental body, the revolutionary Commune of Paris, manned by new men, the most advanced politicians of the "sections," animated by new principles, not merely takes the place of the old Municipality, but absorbs into itself many of the powers previously exercised by Legislative and Executive, becoming indeed, for the time being, the embodiment of the Revolution, the great dictatorial power before which all France bends.