The French Revolution, by Thomas Carlyle

Chapter 8

Conquering your King.

On the morrow a fourth Deputation to the Chateau is on foot: of a more solemn, not to say awful character, for, besides ‘orgies in the Orangery,’ it seems, ‘the grain convoys are all stopped;’ nor has Mirabeau’s thunder been silent. Such Deputation is on the point of setting out — when lo, his Majesty himself attended only by his two Brothers, step in; quite in the paternal manner; announces that the troops, and all causes of offence, are gone, and henceforth there shall be nothing but trust, reconcilement, good-will; whereof he ‘permits and even requests,’ a National Assembly to assure Paris in his name! Acclamation, as of men suddenly delivered from death, gives answer. The whole Assembly spontaneously rises to escort his Majesty back; ‘interlacing their arms to keep off the excessive pressure from him;’ for all Versailles is crowding and shouting. The Chateau Musicians, with a felicitous promptitude, strike up the Sein de sa Famille (Bosom of one’s Family): the Queen appears at the balcony with her little boy and girl, ‘kissing them several times;’ infinite Vivats spread far and wide; — and suddenly there has come, as it were, a new Heaven-on-Earth.

Eighty-eight august Senators, Bailly, Lafayette, and our repentant Archbishop among them, take coach for Paris, with the great intelligence; benedictions without end on their heads. From the Place Louis Quinze, where they alight, all the way to the Hotel-de-Ville, it is one sea of Tricolor cockades, of clear National muskets; one tempest of huzzaings, hand-clappings, aided by ‘occasional rollings’ of drum-music. Harangues of due fervour are delivered; especially by Lally Tollendal, pious son of the ill-fated murdered Lally; on whose head, in consequence, a civic crown (of oak or parsley) is forced, — which he forcibly transfers to Bailly’s.

But surely, for one thing, the National Guard must have a General! Moreau de Saint–Mery, he of the ‘three thousand orders,’ casts one of his significant glances on the Bust of Lafayette, which has stood there ever since the American War of Liberty. Whereupon, by acclamation, Lafayette is nominated. Again, in room of the slain traitor or quasi-traitor Flesselles, President Bailly shall be — Provost of the Merchants? No: Mayor of Paris! So be it. Maire de Paris! Mayor Bailly, General Lafayette; vive Bailly, vive Lafayette — the universal out-of-doors multitude rends the welkin in confirmation. — And now, finally, let us to Notre–Dame for a Te Deum.

Towards Notre–Dame Cathedral, in glad procession, these Regenerators of the Country walk, through a jubilant people; in fraternal manner; Abbe Lefevre, still black with his gunpowder services, walking arm in arm with the white-stoled Archbishop. Poor Bailly comes upon the Foundling Children, sent to kneel to him; and ‘weeps.’ Te Deum, our Archbishop officiating, is not only sung, but shot — with blank cartridges. Our joy is boundless as our wo threatened to be. Paris, by her own pike and musket, and the valour of her own heart, has conquered the very wargods, — to the satisfaction now of Majesty itself. A courier is, this night, getting under way for Necker: the People’s Minister, invited back by King, by National Assembly, and Nation, shall traverse France amid shoutings, and the sound of trumpet and timbrel.

Seeing which course of things, Messeigneurs of the Court Triumvirate, Messieurs of the dead-born Broglie–Ministry, and others such, consider that their part also is clear: to mount and ride. Off, ye too-loyal Broglies, Polignacs, and Princes of the Blood; off while it is yet time! Did not the Palais–Royal in its late nocturnal ‘violent motions,’ set a specific price (place of payment not mentioned) on each of your heads? — With precautions, with the aid of pieces of cannon and regiments that can be depended on, Messeigneurs, between the 16th night and the 17th morning, get to their several roads. Not without risk! Prince Conde has (or seems to have) ‘men galloping at full speed;’ with a view, it is thought, to fling him into the river Oise, at Pont–Sainte-Mayence. (Weber, ii. 126.) The Polignacs travel disguised; friends, not servants, on their coach-box. Broglie has his own difficulties at Versailles, runs his own risks at Metz and Verdun; does nevertheless get safe to Luxemburg, and there rests.

This is what they call the First Emigration; determined on, as appears, in full Court-conclave; his Majesty assisting; prompt he, for his share of it, to follow any counsel whatsoever. ‘Three Sons of France, and four Princes of the blood of Saint Louis,’ says Weber, ‘could not more effectually humble the Burghers of Paris ‘than by appearing to withdraw in fear of their life.’ Alas, the Burghers of Paris bear it with unexpected Stoicism! The Man d’Artois indeed is gone; but has he carried, for example, the Land D’Artois with him? Not even Bagatelle the Country-house (which shall be useful as a Tavern); hardly the four-valet Breeches, leaving the Breeches-maker! — As for old Foulon, one learns that he is dead; at least a ‘sumptuous funeral’ is going on; the undertakers honouring him, if no other will. Intendant Berthier, his son-in-law, is still living; lurking: he joined Besenval, on that Eumenides’ Sunday; appearing to treat it with levity; and is now fled no man knows whither.

The Emigration is not gone many miles, Prince Conde hardly across the Oise, when his Majesty, according to arrangement, for the Emigration also thought it might do good, — undertakes a rather daring enterprise: that of visiting Paris in person. With a Hundred Members of Assembly; with small or no military escort, which indeed he dismissed at the Bridge of Sevres, poor Louis sets out; leaving a desolate Palace; a Queen weeping, the Present, the Past, and the Future all so unfriendly for her.

At the Barrier of Passy, Mayor Bailly, in grand gala, presents him with the keys; harangues him, in Academic style; mentions that it is a great day; that in Henri Quatre’s case, the King had to make conquest of his People, but in this happier case, the People makes conquest of its King (a conquis son Roi). The King, so happily conquered, drives forward, slowly, through a steel people, all silent, or shouting only Vive la Nation; is harangued at the Townhall, by Moreau of the three-thousand orders, by King’s Procureur M. Ethys de Corny, by Lally Tollendal, and others; knows not what to think of it, or say of it; learns that he is ‘Restorer of French Liberty,’ — as a Statue of him, to be raised on the site of the Bastille, shall testify to all men. Finally, he is shewn at the Balcony, with a Tricolor cockade in his hat; is greeted now, with vehement acclamation, from Square and Street, from all windows and roofs:— and so drives home again amid glad mingled and, as it were, intermarried shouts, of Vive le Roi and Vive la Nation; wearied but safe.

It was Sunday when the red-hot balls hung over us, in mid air: it is now but Friday, and ‘the Revolution is sanctioned.’ An August National Assembly shall make the Constitution; and neither foreign Pandour, domestic Triumvirate, with levelled Cannon, Guy–Faux powder-plots (for that too was spoken of); nor any tyrannic Power on the Earth, or under the Earth, shall say to it, What dost thou? — So jubilates the people; sure now of a Constitution. Cracked Marquis Saint–Huruge is heard under the windows of the Chateau; murmuring sheer speculative-treason. (Campan, ii. 46–64.)

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/carlyle/thomas/french_revolution/v1.5.8.html

Last updated Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 21:30