CHAPTER VIII. FROM THE 2ND OF JUNE, 1793, TO APRIL, 1794

It was to be presumed that the Girondists would not bow to their defeat, and that the 31st of May would be the signal for the insurrection of the departments against the Mountain and the commune of Paris. This was the last trial left them to make, and they attempted it. But, in this decisive measure, there was seen the same want of union which had caused their defeat in the assembly. It is doubtful whether the Girondists would have triumphed, had they been united, and especially whether their triumph would have saved the revolution. How could they have done with just laws what the Mountain effected by violent measures? How could they have conquered foreign foes without fanaticism, restrained parties without the aid of terror, fed the multitude without a maximum, and supplied the armies without requisition. If the 31st of May had had a different result, what happened at a much later period would probably have taken place immediately, namely, a gradual abatement of the revolutionary movement, increased attacks on the part of Europe, a general resumption of hostilities by all parties, the days of Prairial, without power to drive back the multitude; the days of Vendemiaire, without power to repel the royalists; the invasion of the allies, and, according to the policy of the times, the partition of France. The republic was not sufficiently powerful to meet so many attacks as it did after the reaction of Thermidor.

However this may be, the Girondists who ought to have remained quiet or fought all together, did not do so, and, after the 2nd of June, all the moderate men of the party remained under the decree of arrest: the others escaped. Vergniaud, Gensonne, Ducos, Fonfrede, etc., were among the first; Petion, Barbaroux, Guadet, Louvet, Buzot, and Lanjuinais, among the latter. They repaired to Evreux, in the department de l'Eure, where Buzot had much influence, and thence to Caen, in Calvados. These made this town the centre of the insurrection. Brittany soon joined them. The insurgents, under the name of the assembly of the departments assembled at Caen, formed an army, appointed general Wimpfen commander, arrested Romme and Prieur de la Marne, who were members of the Mountain and commissaries of the convention, and prepared to march on Paris. From there, a young, beautiful, and courageous woman, Charlotte Corday, went to punish Marat, the principal author of the 31st of May, and the 2nd of June. She hoped to save the republic by sacrificing herself to its cause. But tyranny did not rest with one man; it belonged to a party, and to the violent situation of the republic. Charlotte Corday, after executing her generous but vain design, died with unchanging calmness, modest courage, and the satisfaction of having done well. [Footnote: The following are a few of the replies of this heroic girl before the revolutionary tribunal: - "What were your intentions in killing Marat?" - "To put an end to the troubles of France." - "Is it long since you conceived this project?" - "Since the proscription of the deputies of the people on the 31st of May." - "You learned then by the papers that Marat was a friend of anarchy?" - "Yes, I knew he was perverting France. I have killed," she added, raising her voice, "a man to save a thousand; a villain, to save the innocent; a wild beast, to give tranquility to my country. I was a republican before the revolution, and I have never been without energy."] But Marat, after his assassination, became a greater object of enthusiasm with the people than he had been while living. He was invoked on all the public squares; his bust was placed in all the popular societies, and the convention was obliged to grant him the honours of the Pantheon.