CHAPTER II. FROM THE NIGHT OF THE 4TH OF AUGUST TO THE 5TH AND 6TH OF OCTOBER, 1789
The national assembly, composed of the elite of the nation, was full of intelligence, pure intentions, and projects for the public good. It was not, indeed, free from parties, or wholly unanimous; but the mass was not dominated by any man or idea; and it was the mass which, upon a conviction ever untrammelled and often entirely spontaneous, decided the deliberations and bestowed popularity. The following were the divisions of views and interests it contained within itself: -
The court had a party in the assembly, the privileged classes, who remained for a long time silent, and took but a tardy share in the debates. This party consisted of those who during the dispute as to the orders had declared against union. The aristocratic classes, notwithstanding their momentary agreement with the commons, had interests altogether contrary to those of the national party; and, accordingly, the nobility and higher clergy, who formed the Right of the assembly, were in constant opposition to it, except on days of peculiar excitement. These foes of the revolution, unable to prevent it by their sacrifices, or to stop it by their adhesion, systematically contended against all its reforms. Their leaders were two men who were not the first among them in birth or rank, but who were superior to the rest in talents. Maury and Cazales represented, as it were, the one the clergy, and the other the nobility.
These two orators of the privileged classes, according to the intentions of their party, who put little faith in the duration of these changes, rather protested than stood on the defensive; and in all their discussions their aim was not to instruct the assembly, but to bring it into disrepute. Each introduced into his part the particular turn of his mind and character: Maury made long speeches, Cazales lively sallies. The first preserved at the tribune his habits as a preacher and academician; he spoke on legislative subjects without understanding them, never seizing the right view of the subject, nor even that most advantageous to his party; he gave proofs of audacity, erudition, skill, a brilliant and well- sustained facility, but never displayed solidity of judgment, firm conviction, or real eloquence. The abbe Maury spoke as soldiers fight. No one could contradict oftener or more pertinaciously than he, or more flippantly substitute quotations and sophisms for reasoning, or rhetorical phrases for real bursts of feeling. He possessed much talent, but wanted the faculty which gives it life and truth. Cazales was the opposite of Maury: he had a just and ready mind; his eloquence was equally facile, but more animated; there was candour in his outbursts, and he always gave the best reasons. No rhetorician, he always took the true side of a question that concerned his party, and left declamation to Maury. With the clearness of his views, his ardent character, and the good use he made of his talents, his only fault was that of his position; Maury, on the other hand, added the errors of his mind to those which were inseparable from the cause he espoused.
Necker and the ministry had also a party; but it was less numerous than the other, on account of its moderation. France was then divided into the privileged classes opposed to the revolution, and the people who strenuously desired it. As yet there was no place for a mediating party between them. Necker had declared himself in favour of the English constitution, and those who from ambition or conviction were of his views, rallied round him. Among these was Mounier, a man of strong mind and inflexible spirit, who considered that system as the type of representative governments; Lally-Tollendal, as decided in his views as the former, and more persuasive; Clermont-Tonnerre, the friend and ally of Mounier and Lally; in a word, the minority of the nobility, and some of the bishops, who hoped to become members of the upper chamber, should Necker's views be adopted.
The leaders of this party, afterwards called the monarchical party, wished to affect a revolution by compromise, and to introduce into France a representative government, ready formed, namely, that of England. At every point, they besought the powerful to make a compromise with the weak. Before the 14th of July they asked the court and privileged classes to satisfy the commons; afterwards, they asked the commons to agree to an arrangement with the court and the privileged classes. They thought that each ought to preserve his influence in the state; that deposed parties are discontented parties, and that a legal existence must be made for them, or interminable struggles be expected on their part. But they did not see how little their ideas were appropriate to a moment of exclusive passions. The struggle was begun, the struggle destined to result in the triumph of a system, and not in a compromise. It was a victory which had made the three orders give place to a single assembly, and it was difficult to break the unity of this assembly in order to arrive at a government of two Chambers. The moderate party had not been able to obtain this government from the court, nor were they to obtain it from the nation: to the one it had appeared too popular; for the other, it was too aristocratic.