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While the
characters of men are forming, as is always the case in revolutions,
there is a reciprocal suspicion, and a disposition to misinterpret each
other; and even parties directly opposite in principle will sometimes
concur in pushing forward the same movement with very different views,
and with the hopes of its producing very different consequences. A great
deal of this may be discovered in this embarrassed affair, and yet the
issue of the whole was what nobody had in view.

The only things certainly known are that considerable uneasiness was at
this time excited at Paris by the delay of the King in not sanctioning
and forwarding the decrees of the National Assembly, particularly that
of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and the decrees of the fourth
of August, which contained the foundation principles on which the
constitution was to be erected. The kindest, and perhaps the fairest
conjecture upon this matter is, that some of the ministers intended to
make remarks and observations upon certain parts of them before they
were finally sanctioned and sent to the provinces; but be this as it
may, the enemies of the Revolution derived hope from the delay, and the
friends of the Revolution uneasiness.

During this state of suspense, the Garde du Corps, which was composed as
such regiments generally are, of persons much connected with the
Court, gave an entertainment at Versailles (October 1) to some foreign
regiments then arrived; and when the entertainment was at the height, on
a signal given, the Garde du Corps tore the national cockade from their
hats, trampled it under foot, and replaced it with a counter-cockade
prepared for the purpose. An indignity of this kind amounted to
defiance. It was like declaring war; and if men will give challenges
they must expect consequences. But all this Mr. Burke has carefully kept
out of sight. He begins his account by saying: "History will record that
on the morning of the 6th October, 1789, the King and Queen of France,
after a day of confusion, alarm, dismay, and slaughter, lay down under
the pledged security of public faith to indulge nature in a few hours
of respite, and troubled melancholy repose." This is neither the sober
style of history, nor the intention of it. It leaves everything to
be guessed at and mistaken. One would at least think there had been a
battle; and a battle there probably would have been had it not been
for the moderating prudence of those whom Mr. Burke involves in his
censures. By his keeping the Garde du Corps out of sight Mr. Burke has
afforded himself the dramatic licence of putting the King and Queen in
their places, as if the object of the expedition was against them. But
to return to my account this conduct of the Garde du Corps, as might
well be expected, alarmed and enraged the Partisans. The colors of
the cause, and the cause itself, were become too united to mistake the
intention of the insult, and the Partisans were determined to call
the Garde du Corps to an account. There was certainly nothing of the
cowardice of assassination in marching in the face of the day to demand
satisfaction, if such a phrase may be used, of a body of armed men who
had voluntarily given defiance. But the circumstance which serves
to throw this affair into embarrassment is, that the enemies of the
Revolution appear to have encouraged it as well as its friends. The one
hoped to prevent a civil war by checking it in time, and the other to
make one. The hopes of those opposed to the Revolution rested in making
the King of their party, and getting him from Versailles to Metz,
where they expected to collect a force and set up a standard. We have,
therefore, two different objects presenting themselves at the same time,
and to be accomplished by the same means: the one to chastise the Garde
du Corps, which was the object of the Partisans; the other to render the
confusion of such a scene an inducement to the King to set off for Metz.

On the 5th of October a very numerous body of women, and men in the
disguise of women, collected around the Hotel de Ville or town-hall at
Paris, and set off for Versailles. Their professed object was the Garde
du Corps; but prudent men readily recollect that mischief is more easily
begun than ended; and this impressed itself with the more force from the
suspicions already stated, and the irregularity of such a cavalcade.
As soon, therefore, as a sufficient force could be collected, M. de la
Fayette, by orders from the civil authority of Paris, set off after
them at the head of twenty thousand of the Paris militia. The Revolution
could derive no benefit from confusion, and its opposers might. By an
amiable and spirited manner of address he had hitherto been fortunate in
calming disquietudes, and in this he was extraordinarily successful; to
frustrate, therefore, the hopes of those who might seek to improve
this scene into a sort of justifiable necessity for the King's quitting
Versailles and withdrawing to Metz, and to prevent at the same time
the consequences that might ensue between the Garde du Corps and this
phalanx of men and women, he forwarded expresses to the King, that he
was on his march to Versailles, by the orders of the civil authority of
Paris, for the purpose of peace and protection, expressing at the same
time the necessity of restraining the Garde du Corps from firing upon
the people.*[3]

He arrived at Versailles between ten and eleven at night. The Garde du
Corps was drawn up, and the people had arrived some time before, but
everything had remained suspended. Wisdom and policy now consisted in
changing a scene of danger into a happy event. M. de la Fayette became
the mediator between the enraged parties; and the King, to remove the
uneasiness which had arisen from the delay already stated, sent for the
President of the National Assembly, and signed the Declaration of the
Rights of Man, and such other parts of the constitution as were in
readiness.

It was now about one in the morning. Everything appeared to be composed,
and a general congratulation took place. By the beat of a drum a
proclamation was made that the citizens of Versailles would give the
hospitality of their houses to their fellow-citizens of Paris. Those
who could not be accommodated in this manner remained in the streets, or
took up their quarters in the churches; and at two o'clock the King and
Queen retired.

In this state matters passed till the break of day, when a fresh
disturbance arose from the censurable conduct of some of both parties,
for such characters there will be in all such scenes. One of the Garde
du Corps appeared at one of the windows of the palace, and the people
who had remained during the night in the streets accosted him with
reviling and provocative language. Instead of retiring, as in such a
case prudence would have dictated, he presented his musket, fired, and
killed one of the Paris militia. The peace being thus broken, the people
rushed into the palace in quest of the offender. They attacked the
quarters of the Garde du Corps within the palace, and pursued them
throughout the avenues of it, and to the apartments of the King. On this
tumult, not the Queen only, as Mr. Burke has represented it, but every
person in the palace, was awakened and alarmed; and M. de la Fayette had
a second time to interpose between the parties, the event of which was
that the Garde du Corps put on the national cockade, and the matter
ended as by oblivion, after the loss of two or three lives.

During the latter part of the time in which this confusion was acting,
the King and Queen were in public at the balcony, and neither of them
concealed for safety's sake, as Mr. Burke insinuates. Matters being thus
appeased, and tranquility restored, a general acclamation broke forth of
Le Roi a Paris--Le Roi a Paris--The King to Paris. It was the shout of
peace, and immediately accepted on the part of the King. By this measure
all future projects of trapanning the King to Metz, and setting up the
standard of opposition to the constitution, were prevented, and the
suspicions extinguished. The King and his family reached Paris in the
evening, and were congratulated on their arrival by M. Bailly, the Mayor
of Paris, in the name of the citizens. Mr. Burke, who throughout his
book confounds things, persons, and principles, as in his remarks on
M. Bailly's address, confounded time also. He censures M. Bailly for
calling it "un bon jour," a good day. Mr. Burke should have informed
himself that this scene took up the space of two days, the day on which
it began with every appearance of danger and mischief, and the day on
which it terminated without the mischiefs that threatened; and that
it is to this peaceful termination that M. Bailly alludes, and to the
arrival of the King at Paris. Not less than three hundred thousand
persons arranged themselves in the procession from Versailles to Paris,
and not an act of molestation was committed during the whole march.

Mr. Burke on the authority of M. Lally Tollendal, a deserter from the
National Assembly, says that on entering Paris, the people shouted "Tous
les eveques a la lanterne." All Bishops to be hanged at the lanthorn
or lamp-posts. It is surprising that nobody could hear this but Lally
Tollendal, and that nobody should believe it but Mr. Burke. It has not
the least connection with any part of the transaction, and is totally
foreign to every circumstance of it. The Bishops had never been
introduced before into any scene of Mr. Burke's drama: why then are
they, all at once, and altogether, tout a coup, et tous ensemble,
introduced now? Mr. Burke brings forward his Bishops and his
lanthorn-like figures in a magic lanthorn, and raises his scenes by
contrast instead of connection. But it serves to show, with the rest of
his book what little credit ought to be given where even probability is
set at defiance, for the purpose of defaming; and with this reflection,
instead of a soliloquy in praise of chivalry, as Mr. Burke has done, I
close the account of the expedition to Versailles.*[4]

I have now to follow Mr.



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