CHAPTER XII. FROM THE INSTALLATION OF THE DIRECTORY, ON THE 27TH OCTOBER, 1795, TO THE COUP-D'ETAT OF THE 18TH FRUCTIDOR, YEAR V. (3RD AUGUST, 1797)
Their partisans made one more attempt. On the 13th Fructidor (August), about eleven at night, they marched, to the number of six or seven hundred, armed with sabres and pistols, against the directory, whom they found defended by its guard. They then repaired to the camp of Grenelle, which they hoped to gain over by means of a correspondence which they had established with it. The troops had retired to rest when the conspirators arrived. To the sentinel's cry of "Qui vive?" they replied: "Vive la republique! Vive la constitution de '93!" The sentinels gave the alarm through the camp. The conspirators, relying on the assistance of a battalion from Gard, which had been disbanded, advanced towards the tent of Malo, the commander-in-chief, who gave orders to sound to arms, and commanded his half-dressed dragoons to mount. The conspirators, surprised at this reception, feebly defended themselves: they were cut down by the dragoons or put to flight, leaving many dead and prisoners on the field of battle. This ill-fated expedition was almost the last of the party: with each defeat it lost its force, its chiefs, and acquired the secret conviction that its reign was over. The Grenelle enterprise proved most fatal to it; besides the numbers slain in the fight, many were condemned to death by the military commissions, which were to it what the revolutionary tribunals had been to its foes. The commission of the camp of Grenelle, in five sittings, condemned one-and-thirty conspirators to death, thirty to transportation, and twenty-five to imprisonment.
Shortly afterwards the high court of Vendome tried Babeuf and his accomplices, among whom were Amar, Vadier, and Darthe, formerly secretary to Joseph Lebon. They none of them belied themselves; they spoke as men who feared neither to avow their object, nor to die for their cause. At the beginning and the end of each sitting, they sang the Marseillaise. This old song of victory, and their firm demeanour, struck the public mind with astonishment, and seemed to render them still more formidable. Their wives accompanied them to the trial, Babeuf, at the close of his defence, turned to them, and said, " they should accompany them even to Calvary, because the cause of their punishment would not bring them to shame." The high court condemned Babeuf and Darthe to death: as they heard their sentence they both stabbed themselves with a poignard. Babeuf was the last leader of the old commune and the committee of public safety, which had separated previous to Thermidor, and which afterwards united again. This party decreased daily. Its dispersal and isolation more especially date from this period. Under the reaction, it still formed a compact mass; under Babeuf, it maintained the position of a formidable association. From that time democrates existed, but the party was broken up.
In the interim between the Grenelle enterprise and Babeuf's condemnation, the royalists also formed their conspiracy. The projects of the democrats produced a movement of opinion, contrary to that which had been manifested after Vendemiaire, and the counter-revolutionists in their turn became emboldened. The secret chiefs of this party hoped to find auxiliaries in the troops of the camp of Grenelle, who had repelled the Babeuf faction. This party, impatient and unskilful, unable to employ the whole of the sectionaries, as in Vendemiaire, or the mass of the councils, as on the 18th Fructidor, made use of three men without either name or influence: the abbe Brothier, the ex-counsellor of parliament, Lavilheurnois, and a sort of adventurer, named Dunan. They applied at once, in all simplicity, to Malo for the camp of Grenelle, in order by its means to restore the ancient regime. Malo delivered them up to the directory, who transferred them to the civil tribunals, not having been able, as he wished, to have them tried by military commissioners. They were treated with much consideration by judges of their party, elected under the influence of Vendemiaire, and the sentence pronounced against them was only a short imprisonment. At this period, a contest arose between all the authorities appointed by the sections, and the directory supported by the army; each taking its strength and judges wherever its party prevailed; the result was, that the electoral power placing itself at the disposition of the counter-revolution, the directory was compelled to introduce the army in the state; which afterwards gave rise to serious inconvenience.