CHAPTER III. FROM THE 6TH OF OCTOBER, 1789, TO THE DEATH OF MIRABEAU, APRIL, 1791

The period which forms the subject of this chapter was less remarkable for events than for the gradually decided separation of parties. In proportion as changes were introduced into the state and the laws, those whose interests or opinions they injured declared themselves against them. The revolution had had as enemies, from the beginning of the states-general, the court; from the union of orders and the abolition of privileges, the nobility; from the establishment of a single assembly and the rejection of the two chambers, the ministry and the partisans of the English form of government. It had, moreover, against it since the departmental organization, the provinces; since the decree respecting the property and civil constitution of the clergy, the whole ecclesiastical body; since the introduction of the new military laws, all the officers of the army. It might seem that the assembly ought not to have effected so many changes at once, so as to have avoided making so many enemies; but its general plans, its necessities, and the very plots of its adversaries, required all these innovations.

After the 5th and 6th of October, the assembly emigrated as the court had done after the 14th of July. Mounier and Lally-Tollendal deserted it, despairing of liberty from the moment their views ceased to be followed. Too absolute in their plans, they wanted the people, after having delivered the assembly on the 14th of July, suddenly to cease acting, which was displaying an entire ignorance of the impetus of revolutions. When the people have once been made use of, it is difficult to disband them, and the most prudent course is not to contest, but to regulate intervention. Lally-Tollendal renounced his title of Frenchman, and returned to England, the land of his ancestors. Mounier repaired to Dauphine, his native province, which he endeavoured to excite to a revolt against the assembly. It was inconsistent to complain of an insurrection, and yet to provoke one, especially when it was to the profit of another party, for his was too weak to maintain itself against the ancient regime and the revolution. Notwithstanding his influence in Dauphine, whose former movements he had directed, Mounier was unable to establish there a centre of permanent resistance, but the assembly was thereby warned to destroy the ancient provincial organisation, which might become the frame- work of a civil war.

After the 5th and 6th of October, the national representatives followed the king to the capital, which their common presence had contributed greatly to tranquillise. The people were satisfied with possessing the king, the causes which had excited their ebullition had ceased. The duke of Orleans, who, rightly or wrongly, was considered the contriver of the insurrection, had just been sent away; he had accepted a mission to England; Lafayette was resolved to maintain order; the national guard, animated by a better spirit, acquired every day habits of discipline and obedience; the corporation, getting over the confusion of its first establishment, began to have authority. There remained but one cause of disturbance - the scarcity of provisions. Notwithstanding the zeal and foresight of the committee entrusted with the task of providing supplies, daily assemblages of the people threatened the public tranquillity. The people, so easily deceived when suffering, killed a baker called Francois, who was unjustly accused as a monopolist. On the 21st of October a martial law was proclaimed, authorizing the corporation to employ force to disperse the mob, after having summoned the citizens to retire. Power was vested in a class interested in maintaining order; the districts and the national guard were obedient to the assembly. Submission to the law was the prevailing passion of that epoch. The deputies on their side only aspired at completing the constitution and effecting the re-organisation of the state. They had the more reason for hastening their task, as the enemies of the assembly made use of what remained of the ancient regime, to occasion it embarrassment. Accordingly, it replied to each of their endeavours by a decree, which, changing the ancient order of things, deprived them of one of their means of attack.

It began by dividing the kingdom more equally and regularly. The provinces, which had witnessed with regret the loss of their privileges, formed small states, the extent of which was too vast, and the administration too independent. It was essential to reduce their size, change their names, and subject them to the same government. On the 22nd of December, the assembly adopted in this respect the project conceived by Sieyes, and presented by Thouret in the name of the committee, which occupied itself constantly on this subject for two months.