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FrRevol_301-350.indd 11 3/16/12 1:08 PM CHAPTER VI Ofthe Means Employed in Z:J92 to Establish the Republic. The French are but little disposed to civil war, and have no talentwhatever for conspiracies. They are little disposed to civil war because, among them, the majority almost always draws the minority after it; the party that passes for the stronger soon becomes all-powerful, for everyone joins it. They have no talent for conspiracies for the same reasons which make them extremely fitted for revolutionary movements; they stand in need of mutual excitement by a communication of their ideas; the profound silence , the solitary resolution, necessary for a conspirator does not enter into their character. They might, perhaps, be more capable of this now that Italian features are blended with their natural disposition; but we see no example of a conspiracy in the history of France; Henri III and Henri IV were each assassinated by fanatics without accomplices. The Court, it is true, under Charles IX prepared in darkness the massacre of St. Bartholomew; but it was an Italian queen' who communicated her artful and dissembling spirit to the instruments ofwhich she made use. The means employed to accomplish the Revolution were not better than those generally used to form a conspiracy: in fact, to commit a crime in a public square or to contrive it in the closet is to be equally guilty, but there is the perfidy the less. The Legislative Assembly overthrew the monarchy by means ofsophistry . Its decrees perverted the good sense and depraved the morality of the nation. A kind of political hypocrisy, still more dangerous than hypocrisy in religion, was necessary to destroy the throne piecemeal while 1. Catherine de Medicis. Jll FrRevol_301-350.indd 12 3/16/12 1:08 PM PART III swearing to maintain it. Today the ministers were accused;2 tomorrow the King's guard was disbanded;3 on another day rewards were granted to the soldiers of the regiment of Chateauvieux, who had mutinied against their officers;4 the massacres of Avignon found defenders in the heart of the Assembly;5 in short, whether the establishment of a republic in France appeared desirable or not, there could be but one opinion on the choice of the means employed to attain it; and the more one felt attached to liberty , the more did the conduct of the republican party excite indignation in the bottom of the soul. That which, in a great political crisis, ought, above all things, to be considered is whether the Revolution desired is in harmony with the spirit of the time. By endeavoring to accomplish the reinstatement of ancient institutions; that is, by endeavoring to make the human mind retrograde, all the popular passions become inflamed. But if, on the other hand, it be attempted to found a republic in a country which the day before had all the defects and all the vices to which absolute monarchies must give birth, men are obliged to exercise oppression in order to acquire freedom, and to sully themselves with crimes in proclaiming that government whose basis is virtue. A sure method ofnever mistaking the wish ofthe majority of a nation is never to follow any other than a lawful course for the attainment even of those objects which are thought most useful. So long as we allow ourselves to do nothing immoral, we are sure ofnever violently thwarting the course of things. The war afterward so brilliant to the French began with defeats. The soldiers at Lisle, after being routed, killed their commander, Theobald Dillon, whose fidelity they, most unjustly, suspected. These early checks had diffused a general spirit of mistrust. Accordingly the Legislative As2 . The Girondists accused the minister offoreign affairs, de Lessart, whose arrest eventually led to the fall of the Feuillants in March 1792. 3· On May 29, 1792. 4· On April9, 1792, the Legislative Assembly honored the Swiss soldiers from the Chateauvieux regiment. They revolted at Nancy in August 1790 and were subsequently arrested. )·The massacres occurred on October 16, 1791, when the "patriots" of Avignon, supporting annexation to France, massacred about sixty aristocrats who opposed this measure. 3l2 FrRevol_301-350.indd 13 3/16/12 1:08 PM cHAPTER vI . Means Employed to Establish Republic sembly pursued the ministers with incessant denunciations, like restive horses who cannot be spurred forward. The first duty of a government, as well as of a nation, is doubtless to ensure its independence against the...


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