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It was therefore necessary
to attack it that day; but before this could be done, it was first
necessary to procure a better supply of arms than they were then
possessed of.

There was, adjoining to the city a large magazine of arms deposited at
the Hospital of the Invalids, which the citizens summoned to surrender;
and as the place was neither defensible, nor attempted much defence,
they soon succeeded. Thus supplied, they marched to attack the Bastille;
a vast mixed multitude of all ages, and of all degrees, armed with all
sorts of weapons. Imagination would fail in describing to itself the
appearance of such a procession, and of the anxiety of the events which
a few hours or a few minutes might produce. What plans the ministry
were forming, were as unknown to the people within the city, as what
the citizens were doing was unknown to the ministry; and what movements
Broglio might make for the support or relief of the place, were to the
citizens equally as unknown. All was mystery and hazard.

That the Bastille was attacked with an enthusiasm of heroism, such only
as the highest animation of liberty could inspire, and carried in the
space of a few hours, is an event which the world is fully possessed of.
I am not undertaking the detail of the attack, but bringing into view
the conspiracy against the nation which provoked it, and which fell
with the Bastille. The prison to which the new ministry were dooming the
National Assembly, in addition to its being the high altar and castle of
despotism, became the proper object to begin with. This enterprise
broke up the new ministry, who began now to fly from the ruin they had
prepared for others. The troops of Broglio dispersed, and himself fled
also.

Mr. Burke has spoken a great deal about plots, but he has never once
spoken of this plot against the National Assembly, and the liberties
of the nation; and that he might not, he has passed over all the
circumstances that might throw it in his way. The exiles who have fled
from France, whose case he so much interests himself in, and from whom
he has had his lesson, fled in consequence of the miscarriage of this
plot. No plot was formed against them; they were plotting against
others; and those who fell, met, not unjustly, the punishment they
were preparing to execute. But will Mr. Burke say that if this plot,
contrived with the subtilty of an ambuscade, had succeeded, the
successful party would have restrained their wrath so soon? Let the
history of all governments answer the question.

Whom has the National Assembly brought to the scaffold? None. They
were themselves the devoted victims of this plot, and they have not
retaliated; why, then, are they charged with revenge they have not
acted? In the tremendous breaking forth of a whole people, in which all
degrees, tempers and characters are confounded, delivering themselves,
by a miracle of exertion, from the destruction meditated against them,
is it to be expected that nothing will happen? When men are sore with
the sense of oppressions, and menaced with the prospects of new ones,
is the calmness of philosophy or the palsy of insensibility to be looked
for? Mr. Burke exclaims against outrage; yet the greatest is that which
himself has committed. His book is a volume of outrage, not apologised
for by the impulse of a moment, but cherished through a space of ten
months; yet Mr. Burke had no provocation--no life, no interest, at
stake.

More of the citizens fell in this struggle than of their opponents: but
four or five persons were seized by the populace, and instantly put to
death; the Governor of the Bastille, and the Mayor of Paris, who was
detected in the act of betraying them; and afterwards Foulon, one of the
new ministry, and Berthier, his son-in-law, who had accepted the office
of intendant of Paris. Their heads were stuck upon spikes, and carried
about the city; and it is upon this mode of punishment that Mr. Burke
builds a great part of his tragic scene. Let us therefore examine how
men came by the idea of punishing in this manner.

They learn it from the governments they live under; and retaliate the
punishments they have been accustomed to behold. The heads stuck upon
spikes, which remained for years upon Temple Bar, differed nothing in
the horror of the scene from those carried about upon spikes at Paris;
yet this was done by the English Government. It may perhaps be said that
it signifies nothing to a man what is done to him after he is dead; but
it signifies much to the living; it either tortures their feelings or
hardens their hearts, and in either case it instructs them how to punish
when power falls into their hands.

Lay then the axe to the root, and teach governments humanity. It is
their sanguinary punishments which corrupt mankind. In England the
punishment in certain cases is by hanging, drawing and quartering;
the heart of the sufferer is cut out and held up to the view of the
populace. In France, under the former Government, the punishments were
not less barbarous. Who does not remember the execution of Damien, torn
to pieces by horses? The effect of those cruel spectacles exhibited to
the populace is to destroy tenderness or excite revenge; and by the
base and false idea of governing men by terror, instead of reason,
they become precedents. It is over the lowest class of mankind that
government by terror is intended to operate, and it is on them that it
operates to the worst effect. They have sense enough to feel they are
the objects aimed at; and they inflict in their turn the examples of
terror they have been instructed to practise.

There is in all European countries a large class of people of that
description, which in England is called the "mob." Of this class were
those who committed the burnings and devastations in London in 1780, and
of this class were those who carried the heads on iron spikes in Paris.
Foulon and Berthier were taken up in the country, and sent to Paris,
to undergo their examination at the Hotel de Ville; for the National
Assembly, immediately on the new ministry coming into office, passed a
decree, which they communicated to the King and Cabinet, that they (the
National Assembly) would hold the ministry, of which Foulon was one,
responsible for the measures they were advising and pursuing; but the
mob, incensed at the appearance of Foulon and Berthier, tore them from
their conductors before they were carried to the Hotel de Ville, and
executed them on the spot. Why then does Mr. Burke charge outrages
of this kind on a whole people? As well may he charge the riots and
outrages of 1780 on all the people of London, or those in Ireland on all
his countrymen.

But everything we see or hear offensive to our feelings and derogatory
to the human character should lead to other reflections than those
of reproach. Even the beings who commit them have some claim to our
consideration. How then is it that such vast classes of mankind as are
distinguished by the appellation of the vulgar, or the ignorant mob,
are so numerous in all old countries? The instant we ask ourselves
this question, reflection feels an answer. They rise, as an unavoidable
consequence, out of the ill construction of all old governments in
Europe, England included with the rest. It is by distortedly exalting
some men, that others are distortedly debased, till the whole is out
of nature. A vast mass of mankind are degradedly thrown into the
back-ground of the human picture, to bring forward, with greater glare,
the puppet-show of state and aristocracy. In the commencement of a
revolution, those men are rather the followers of the camp than of the
standard of liberty, and have yet to be instructed how to reverence it.

I give to Mr. Burke all his theatrical exaggerations for facts, and I
then ask him if they do not establish the certainty of what I here lay
down? Admitting them to be true, they show the necessity of the French
Revolution, as much as any one thing he could have asserted. These
outrages were not the effect of the principles of the Revolution, but
of the degraded mind that existed before the Revolution, and which the
Revolution is calculated to reform. Place them then to their proper
cause, and take the reproach of them to your own side.

It is the honour of the National Assembly and the city of Paris that,
during such a tremendous scene of arms and confusion, beyond the control
of all authority, they have been able, by the influence of example
and exhortation, to restrain so much. Never were more pains taken to
instruct and enlighten mankind, and to make them see that their interest
consisted in their virtue, and not in their revenge, than have been
displayed in the Revolution of France. I now proceed to make some
remarks on Mr. Burke's account of the expedition to Versailles, October
the 5th and 6th.

I can consider Mr. Burke's book in scarcely any other light than a
dramatic performance; and he must, I think, have considered it in the
same light himself, by the poetical liberties he has taken of omitting
some facts, distorting others, and making the whole machinery bend to
produce a stage effect. Of this kind is his account of the expedition to
Versailles. He begins this account by omitting the only facts which as
causes are known to be true; everything beyond these is conjecture, even
in Paris; and he then works up a tale accommodated to his own passions
and prejudices.

It is to be observed throughout Mr. Burke's book that he never speaks
of plots against the Revolution; and it is from those plots that all the
mischiefs have arisen. It suits his purpose to exhibit the consequences
without their causes. It is one of the arts of the drama to do so. If
the crimes of men were exhibited with their sufferings, stage effect
would sometimes be lost, and the audience would be inclined to approve
where it was intended they should commiserate.

After all the investigations that have been made into this intricate
affair (the expedition to Versailles), it still remains enveloped in all
that kind of mystery which ever accompanies events produced more from a
concurrence of awkward circumstances than from fixed design.



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