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It lost ground from contempt more
than from hatred; and was rather jeered at as an ass, than dreaded as a
lion. This is the general character of aristocracy, or what are called
Nobles or Nobility, or rather No-ability, in all countries.

The plan of the malcontents consisted now of two things; either to
deliberate and vote by chambers (or orders), more especially on all
questions respecting a Constitution (by which the aristocratical chamber
would have had a negative on any article of the Constitution); or, in
case they could not accomplish this object, to overthrow the National
Assembly entirely.

To effect one or other of these objects they began to cultivate a
friendship with the despotism they had hitherto attempted to rival, and
the Count D'Artois became their chief. The king (who has since declared
himself deceived into their measures) held, according to the old form,
a Bed of Justice, in which he accorded to the deliberation and vote par
tete (by head) upon several subjects; but reserved the deliberation and
vote upon all questions respecting a constitution to the three chambers
separately. This declaration of the king was made against the advice of
M. Neckar, who now began to perceive that he was growing out of fashion
at Court, and that another minister was in contemplation.

As the form of sitting in separate chambers was yet apparently kept up,
though essentially destroyed, the national representatives immediately
after this declaration of the King resorted to their own chambers
to consult on a protest against it; and the minority of the chamber
(calling itself the Nobles), who had joined the national cause, retired
to a private house to consult in like manner. The malcontents had by
this time concerted their measures with the court, which the Count
D'Artois undertook to conduct; and as they saw from the discontent which
the declaration excited, and the opposition making against it, that they
could not obtain a control over the intended constitution by a
separate vote, they prepared themselves for their final object--that of
conspiring against the National Assembly, and overthrowing it.

The next morning the door of the chamber of the National Assembly was
shut against them, and guarded by troops; and the members were
refused admittance. On this they withdrew to a tennis-ground in the
neighbourhood of Versailles, as the most convenient place they could
find, and, after renewing their session, took an oath never to separate
from each other, under any circumstance whatever, death excepted, until
they had established a constitution. As the experiment of shutting up
the house had no other effect than that of producing a closer connection
in the members, it was opened again the next day, and the public
business recommenced in the usual place.

We are now to have in view the forming of the new ministry, which was to
accomplish the overthrow of the National Assembly. But as force would
be necessary, orders were issued to assemble thirty thousand troops, the
command of which was given to Broglio, one of the intended new ministry,
who was recalled from the country for this purpose. But as some
management was necessary to keep this plan concealed till the moment it
should be ready for execution, it is to this policy that a declaration
made by Count D'Artois must be attributed, and which is here proper to
be introduced.

It could not but occur while the malcontents continued to resort to
their chambers separate from the National Assembly, more jealousy would
be excited than if they were mixed with it, and that the plot might be
suspected. But as they had taken their ground, and now wanted a pretence
for quitting it, it was necessary that one should be devised. This was
effectually accomplished by a declaration made by the Count D'Artois:
"That if they took not a Part in the National Assembly, the life of the
king would be endangered": on which they quitted their chambers, and
mixed with the Assembly, in one body.

At the time this declaration was made, it was generally treated as a
piece of absurdity in Count D'Artois calculated merely to relieve the
outstanding members of the two chambers from the diminutive situation
they were put in; and if nothing more had followed, this conclusion
would have been good. But as things best explain themselves by their
events, this apparent union was only a cover to the machinations which
were secretly going on; and the declaration accommodated itself to
answer that purpose. In a little time the National Assembly found itself
surrounded by troops, and thousands more were daily arriving. On this a
very strong declaration was made by the National Assembly to the King,
remonstrating on the impropriety of the measure, and demanding the
reason. The King, who was not in the secret of this business, as himself
afterwards declared, gave substantially for answer, that he had no other
object in view than to preserve the public tranquility, which appeared
to be much disturbed.

But in a few days from this time the plot unravelled itself M. Neckar
and the ministry were displaced, and a new one formed of the enemies
of the Revolution; and Broglio, with between twenty-five and thirty
thousand foreign troops, was arrived to support them. The mask was now
thrown off, and matters were come to a crisis. The event was that in a
space of three days the new ministry and their abettors found it prudent
to fly the nation; the Bastille was taken, and Broglio and his foreign
troops dispersed, as is already related in the former part of this work.

There are some curious circumstances in the history of this short-lived
ministry, and this short-lived attempt at a counter-revolution. The
Palace of Versailles, where the Court was sitting, was not more than
four hundred yards distant from the hall where the National Assembly
was sitting. The two places were at this moment like the separate
headquarters of two combatant armies; yet the Court was as perfectly
ignorant of the information which had arrived from Paris to the National
Assembly, as if it had resided at an hundred miles distance. The then
Marquis de la Fayette, who (as has been already mentioned) was chosen to
preside in the National Assembly on this particular occasion, named by
order of the Assembly three successive deputations to the king, on the
day and up to the evening on which the Bastille was taken, to inform and
confer with him on the state of affairs; but the ministry, who knew not
so much as that it was attacked, precluded all communication, and were
solacing themselves how dextrously they had succeeded; but in a few
hours the accounts arrived so thick and fast that they had to start from
their desks and run. Some set off in one disguise, and some in another,
and none in their own character. Their anxiety now was to outride the
news, lest they should be stopt, which, though it flew fast, flew not so
fast as themselves.

It is worth remarking that the National Assembly neither pursued those
fugitive conspirators, nor took any notice of them, nor sought
to retaliate in any shape whatever. Occupied with establishing a
constitution founded on the Rights of Man and the Authority of the
People, the only authority on which Government has a right to exist
in any country, the National Assembly felt none of those mean passions
which mark the character of impertinent governments, founding themselves
on their own authority, or on the absurdity of hereditary succession. It
is the faculty of the human mind to become what it contemplates, and to
act in unison with its object.

The conspiracy being thus dispersed, one of the first works of the
National Assembly, instead of vindictive proclamations, as has been the
case with other governments, was to publish a declaration of the Rights
of Man, as the basis on which the new constitution was to be built, and
which is here subjoined:


Declaration

Of The

Rights Of Man And Of Citizens

By The National Assembly Of France

The representatives of the people of France, formed into a National
Assembly, considering that ignorance, neglect, or contempt of human
rights, are the sole causes of public misfortunes and corruptions of
Government, have resolved to set forth in a solemn declaration, these
natural, imprescriptible, and inalienable rights: that this declaration
being constantly present to the minds of the members of the body social,
they may be forever kept attentive to their rights and their duties;
that the acts of the legislative and executive powers of Government,
being capable of being every moment compared with the end of political
institutions, may be more respected; and also, that the future claims of
the citizens, being directed by simple and incontestable principles,
may always tend to the maintenance of the Constitution, and the general
happiness.

For these reasons the National Assembly doth recognize and declare, in
the presence of the Supreme Being, and with the hope of his blessing and
favour, the following sacred rights of men and of citizens:

One: Men are born, and always continue, free and equal in respect of
their Rights. Civil distinctions, therefore, can be founded only on
Public Utility.

Two: The end of all Political associations is the Preservation of the
Natural and Imprescriptible Rights of Man; and these rights are Liberty,
Property, Security, and Resistance of Oppression.

Three: The Nation is essentially the source of all Sovereignty; nor can
any individual, or any body of Men, be entitled to any authority which
is not expressly derived from it.

Four: Political Liberty consists in the power of doing whatever does not
Injure another. The exercise of the Natural Rights of every Man, has no
other limits than those which are necessary to secure to every other Man
the Free exercise of the same Rights; and these limits are determinable
only by the Law.

Five: The Law ought to Prohibit only actions hurtful to Society. What is
not Prohibited by the Law should not be hindered; nor should anyone be
compelled to that which the Law does not Require.

Six: the Law is an expression of the Will of the Community.



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