CHAPTER V. FROM THE 1ST OF OCTOBER, 1791, TO THE 21ST OF SEPTEMBER, 1792
General pacification formed the chief topic of his speech. He pointed out to the assembly the subjects that ought to attract its attention, - finance, civil law, commerce, trade, and the consolidation of the new government; he promised to employ his influence to restore order and discipline in the army, to put the kingdom in a state of defence, and to diffuse ideas respecting the French revolution, calculated to re-establish a good understanding in Europe. He added the following words, which were received with much applause: "Gentlemen, in order that your important labours, as well as your zeal, may produce all the good which may be expected from them, a constant harmony and unchanging confidence should reign between the legislative body and the king. The enemies of our peace seek but too eagerly to disunite us, but let love of country cement our union, and let public interest make us inseparable! Thus public power may develop itself without obstacle; government will not be harassed by vain fears; the possessions and faith of each will be equally protected, and no pretext will remain for any one to live apart from a country where the laws are in vigour, and where the rights of all are respected." Unfortunately there were two classes, without the revolution, that would not enter into composition with it, and whose efforts in Europe and the interior of France were to prevent the realization of these wise and pacific words. As soon as there are displaced parties in a state, a struggle will result, and measures of hostility must be taken against them. Accordingly, the internal troubles, fomented by non-juring priests, the military assemblings of emigrants, and the preparations for the coalition, soon drove the legislative assembly further than the constitution allowed, and than it itself had proposed.
The composition of this assembly was completely popular. The prevailing ideas being in favour of the revolution, the court, nobility, and clergy had exercised no influence over the elections. There were not in this assembly, as in the preceding, partisans of absolute power and of privilege. The two fractions of the Left who had separated towards the close of the constituent assembly were again brought face to face; but no longer in the same proportion of number and strength. The popular minority of the previous assembly became the majority in this. The prohibition against electing representatives already tried, the necessity of choosing deputies from those most distinguished by their conduct and opinions, and especially the active influence of the clubs, led to this result. Opinions and parties soon became known. As in the constituent assembly there was a Right, a Centre, a Left, but of a perfectly different character.
The Right, composed of firm and absolute constitutionalists, composed the Feuillant party. Its principal speakers were Dumas, Ramond, Vaublanc, Beugnot, etc. It had some relations with the court, through Barnave, Duport, and Alexander Lameth, who were its former leaders; but whose counsels were rarely followed by Louis XVI., who gave himself up with more confidence to the advice of those immediately around him. Out of doors, it supported itself on the club of the Feuillants and upon the bourgeoisie. The national guard, the army, the directory of the department, and in general all the constituted authorities, were favourable to it. But this party, which no longer prevailed in the assembly, soon lost a post quite as essential, that of the municipality, which was occupied by its adversaries of the Left.
These formed the party called Girondist, and which in the revolution only formed an intermediate party between the middle class and the multitude. It had then no subversive project; but it was disposed to defend the revolution in every way, and in this differed from the constitutionalists who would only defend it with the law. At its head were the brilliant orators of the Gironde, [Footnote: The name of the river Garonne, after its confluence with the Dordogne.] who gave their name to the party, Vergniaud, Guadet, Gensonne, and the Provencal Isnard, who had a style of still more impassioned eloquence than theirs. Its chief leader was Brissot, who, a member of the corporation of Paris during the last session, had subsequently become a member of the assembly. The opinions of Brissot, who advocated a complete reform; his great activity of mind, which he developed at once in the journal the Patriote, in the tribune of the assembly, and at the club of the Jacobins; his exact and extensive knowledge of the position of foreign powers, gave him great ascendancy at the moment of a struggle between parties, and of a war with Europe. Condorcet possessed influence of another description; he owed this to his profound ideas, to his superior reason, which almost procured him the place of Sieyes in this second revolutionary generation. Petion, of a calm and determined character, was the active man of this party. His tranquil brow, his fluent elocution, his acquaintance with the people, soon procured for him the municipal magistracy, which Bailly had discharged for the middle class.