The convention was constituted on the 20th of September, 1792, and commenced its deliberations on the 21st. In its first sitting it abolished royalty, and proclaimed the republic. On the 22nd, it appropriated the revolution to itself, by declaring it would not date from year IV. of Liberty; but from year I. of the French Republic. After these first measures, voted by acclamation, with a sort of rivalry in democracy and enthusiasm in the two parties, which had become divided at the close of the legislative assembly, the convention, instead of commencing its labours, gave itself up to intestine quarrels. The Girondists and the Mountain, before they established the new revolution, desired to know to which of them it was to belong, and the enormous dangers of their position did not divert them from this contest. They had more than ever to fear the efforts of Europe. Austria, Prussia, and some of the German princes having attacked France before the 10th of August, there was every reason to believe that the other sovereigns of Europe would declare against it after the fall of the monarchy, the imprisonment of the king, and the massacres of September. Within, the enemies of the revolution had increased. To the partisans of the ancient regime, of the aristocracy and clergy, were now to be added the friends of constitutional monarchy, with whom the fate of Louis XVI. was an object of earnest solicitude, and those who imagined liberty impossible without order, or under the empire of the multitude. Amidst so many obstacles and adversaries, at a moment when their strictest union was requisite, the Gironde and the Mountain attacked each other with the fiercest animosity. It is true that these two parties were wholly incompatible, and that their respective leaders could not combine, so strong and varied were the grounds of separation in their rivalry for power, and in their designs.

Events had compelled the Girondists to become republicans. It would have suited them far better to have remained constitutionalists. The integrity of their purposes, their distaste for the multitude, their aversion for violent measures, and especially the prudence which counselled them only to attempt that which seemed possible - every circumstance made this imperative upon them; but they had not been left free to remain what they at first were. They had followed the bias which led them onward to the republic, and they had gradually habituated themselves to this form of government. They now desired it ardently and sincerely, but they felt how difficult it would be to establish and consolidate it. They deemed it a great and noble thing; but they felt that the men for it were wanting. The multitude had neither the intelligence nor the virtue proper for this kind of government. The revolution effected by the constituent assembly was legitimate, still more because it was possible than because it was just; it had its constitution and its citizens. But a new revolution, which should call the lower classes to the conduct of the state, could not be durable. It would injuriously affect too many interests, and have but momentary defenders, the lower class being capable of sound action and conduct in a crisis, but not for a permanency. Yet, in consenting to this second revolution, it was this inferior class which must be looked to for support. The Girondists did not adopt this course, and they found themselves placed in a position altogether false; they lost the assistance of the constitutionalists without procuring that of the democrats; they had a hold upon neither extreme of society. Accordingly, they only formed a half party, which was soon overthrown, because it had no root. The Girondists, after the 10th of August, were, between the middle class and the multitude, what the monarchists, or the Mounier and Necker party, had been after the 24th of July, between the privileged classes and the bourgeoisie.

The Mountain, on the contrary, desired a republic of the people. The leaders of this party, annoyed at the credit of the Girondists, sought to overthrow and to supersede them. They were less intelligent, and less eloquent, but abler, more decided, and in no degree scrupulous as to means. The extremest democracy seemed to them the best of governments, and what they termed the people, that is, the lowest populace, was the object of their constant adulation, and most ardent solicitude. No party was more dangerous; most consistently it laboured for those who fought its battle.

Ever since the opening of the convention, the Girondists had occupied the right benches, and the Mountain party the summit of the left, whence the name by which they are designated. The Girondists were the strongest in the assembly; the elections in the departments had generally been in their favour. A great number of the deputies of the legislative assembly had been re-elected, and as at that time connexion effected much, the members who had been united with the deputation of the Gironde and the commune of Paris before the 10th of August, returned with the same opinions. Others came without any particular system or party, without enmities or attachments: these formed what was then called the Plaine or the Marais. This party, taking no interest in the struggles between the Gironde and the Mountain, voted with the side they considered the most just, so long as they were allowed to be moderate; that is to say, so long as they had no fears for themselves.

The Mountain was composed of deputies of Paris, elected under the influence of the commune of the 10th of August, and of some very decided republicans from the provinces; it, from time to time, increased its ranks with those who were rendered enthusiastic by circumstances, or who were impelled by fear. But though inferior in the convention in point of numbers, it was none the less very powerful, even at this period. It swayed Paris; the commune was devoted to it, and the commune had managed to constitute itself the supreme authority in the state. The Mountain had sought to master the departments, by endeavouring to establish an identity of views and conduct between the municipality of Paris and the provincial municipalities; they had not, however, completely succeeded in this, and the departments were for the most part favourable to their adversaries, who cultivated their good will by means of pamphlets and journals sent by the minister Roland, whose house the Mountain called a bureau d'esprit public, and whose friends they called intrigants. But besides this junction of the communes, which sooner or later would take place, they were adopted by the Jacobins. This club, the most influential as well as the most ancient and extensive, changed its views at every crisis without changing its name; it was a framework ready for every dominating power, excluding all dissentients. That at Paris was the metropolis of Jacobinism, and governed the others almost imperiously. The Mountain had made themselves masters of it; they had already driven the Girondists from it, by denunciation and disgust, and replaced the members taken from the bourgeoisie by sans-culottes. Nothing remained to the Girondists but the ministry, who, thwarted by the commune, were powerless in Paris. The Mountain, on the contrary, disposed of all the effective force of the capital, of the public mind by the Jacobins, of the sections and faubourgs by the sans-culottes, of the insurrectionists by the municipality.

The first measure of parties after having decreed the republic, was to contend with each other. The Girondists were indignant at the massacres of September, and they beheld with horror on the benches of the convention the men who had advised or ordered them. Above all others, two inspired them with antipathy and disgust; Robespierre, whom they suspected of aspiring to tyranny; and Marat, who from the commencement of the revolution had in his writings constituted himself the apostle of murder. They denounced Robespierre with more animosity than prudence; he was not yet sufficiently formidable to incur the accusation of aspiring to the dictatorship. His enemies by reproaching him with intentions then improbable, and at all events incapable of proof, themselves augmented his popularity and importance.

Robespierre, who played so terrible a part in our revolution, was beginning to take a prominent position. Hitherto, despite his efforts, he had had superiors in his own party: under the constituent assembly, its famous leaders; under the legislative, Brissot and Petion; on the 10th of August, Danton. At these different periods he had declared himself against those whose renown or popularity offended him. Only able to distinguish himself among the celebrated personages of the first assembly by the singularity of his opinions, he had shown himself an exaggerated reformer; during the second, he became a constitutionalist, because his rivals were innovators, and he had talked in favour of peace to the Jacobins, because his rivals advocated war. From the 10th of August he essayed in that club to ruin the Girondists, and to supplant Danton, always associating the cause of his vanity with that of the multitude. This man, of ordinary talents and vain character, owed it to his inferiority to rank with the last, a great advantage in times of revolution; and his conceit drove him to aspire to the first rank, to do all to reach it, to dare all to maintain himself there.

Robespierre had the qualifications for tyranny; a soul not great, it is true, but not common; the advantage of one sole passion, the appearance of patriotism, a deserved reputation for incorruptibility, an austere life, and no aversion to the effusion of blood. He was a proof that amidst civil troubles it is not mind but conduct that leads to political fortune, and that persevering mediocrity is more powerful than wavering genius. It must also be observed that Robespierre had the support of an immense and fanatical sect, whose government he had solicited, and whose principles he had defended since the close of the constituent assembly. This sect derived its origin from the eighteenth century, certain opinions of which it represented. In politics, its symbol was the absolute sovereignty of the Contrat social of J.J. Rousseau, and for creed, it held the deism of la Profession de foi du Vicaire Savoyard; at a later period it succeeded in realizing these for a moment in the constitution of '93, and the worship of the Supreme Being. More fanaticism and system existed in the different epochs of the revolution than is generally supposed.

Whether the Girondists distinctly foresaw the dominion of Robespierre, or whether they suffered themselves to be carried away by their indignation, they accused him, with republicans, of the most serious of crimes. Paris was agitated by the spirit of faction; the Girondists wished to pass a law against those who excited disorders and violence, and at the same time to give the convention an independent force derived from the eighty-three departments. They appointed a commission to present a report on this subject. The Mountain attacked this measure as injurious to Paris; the Gironde defended it, by pointing out the project of a triumvirate formed by the deputation of Paris. "I was born in Paris," said Osselin; "I am deputy for that town. It is announced that a party is formed in the very heart of it, desiring a dictatorship, triumvirs, tribunes, etc. I declare that extreme ignorance or profound wickedness alone could have conceived such a project. Let the member of the deputation of Paris who has conceived such an idea be anathematized!" "Yes," exclaimed Rebecqui of Marseilles, "yes, there exists in this assembly a party which aspires at the dictatorship, and I will name the leader of this party; Robespierre. That is the man whom I denounce." Barbaroux supported this denunciation by his evidence; he was one of the chief authors of the 10th of August; he was the leader of the Marseillais, and he possessed immense influence in the south. He stated that about the 10th of August, the Marseillais were much courted by the two parties who divided the capital; he was brought to Robespierre's, and there he was told to ally himself to those citizens who had acquired most popularity, and that Paris expressly named to him, Robespierre, as the virtuous man who was to be dictator of France. Barbaroux was a man of action. There were some members of the Right who thought with him, that they ought to conquer their adversaries, in order to avoid being conquered by them. They wished, making use of the convention against the commune, to oppose the departments to Paris, and while they remained weak, by no means to spare enemies, to whom they would otherwise be granting time to become stronger. But the greater number dreaded a rupture, and trembled at the idea of energetic measures.

This accusation against Robespierre had no immediate consequences; but it fell back on Marat, who had recommended a dictatorship, in his journal "L'Ami du Peuple," and had extolled the massacres. When he ascended the tribune to justify himself, the assembly shuddered. "A bas! a bas!" resounded from all sides. Marat remained imperturbable. In a momentary pause, he said: "I have a great number of personal enemies in this assembly. (Tous! tous!) I beg of them to remember decorum; I exhort them to abstain from all furious clamours and indecent threats against a man who has served liberty and themselves more than they think. For once let them learn to listen." And this man delivered in the midst of the convention, astounded at his audacity and sangfroid, his views of the proscriptions and of the dictatorship. For some time he had fled from cellar to cellar to avoid public anger, and the warrants issued against him. His sanguinary journal alone appeared; in it he demanded heads, and prepared the multitude for the massacres of September. There is no folly which may not enter a man's head, and what is worse, which may not be realized for a moment. Marat was possessed by certain fixed ideas. The revolution had enemies, and, in his opinion, it could not last unless freed from them; from that moment he deemed nothing could be more simple than to exterminate them, and appoint a dictator, whose functions should be limited to proscribing; these two measures he proclaimed aloud, with a cynical cruelty, having no more regard for propriety than for the lives of men, and despising as weak minds all those who called his projects atrocious, instead of considering them profound. The revolution had actors really more sanguinary than he, but none exercised a more fatal influence over his times. He depraved the morality of parties already sufficiently corrupt; and he had the two leading ideas which the committee of public safety subsequently realized by its commissioners or its government - extermination in mass, and the dictatorship.

Marat's accusation was not attended with any results; he inspired more disgust, but less hatred than Robespierre; some regarded him as a madman; others considered these debates as the quarrels of parties, and not as an object of interest for the republic. Moreover, it seemed dangerous to attempt to purify the convention, or to dismiss one of its members, and it was a difficult step to get over, even for parties. Danton did not exonerate Marat. "I do not like him," said he; "I have had experience of his temperament; it is volcanic, crabbed and unsociable. But why seek for the language of a faction in what he writes? Has the general agitation any other cause than that of the revolutionary movement itself?" Robespierre, on his part, protested that he knew very little of Marat; that, previous to the 10th of August, he had only had one conversation with him, after which Marat, whose violent opinions he did not approve, had considered his political views so narrow, that he had stated in his journal, that he had neither the higher views nor the daring of a statesman.

But he was the object of much greater indignation because he was more dreaded. The first accusation of Rebecqui and Barbaroux had not succeeded. A short time afterwards, the Minister Roland made a report on the state of France and Paris; in it he denounced the massacres of September, the encroachments of the commune, and the proceedings of the agitators. "When," said he, "they render the wisest and most intrepid defenders of liberty odious or suspected, when principles of revolt and slaughter are boldly professed and applauded in the assemblies, and clamours arise against the convention itself, I can no longer doubt that partisans of the ancient regime, or false friends of the people, concealing their extravagance or wickedness under a mask of patriotism, have conceived the plan of an overthrow in which they hope to raise themselves on ruins and corpses, and gratify their thirst for blood, gold, and atrocity."

He cited, in proof of his report, a letter in which the vice-president of the second section of the criminal tribunal informed him, that he and the most distinguished Girondists were threatened; that, in the words of their enemies, another bleeding was wanted ; and that these men would hear of no one but Robespierre.

At these words the latter hastened to the tribune to justify himself. "No one," he cried, "dare accuse me to my face!" "I dare!" exclaimed Louvet, one of the most determined men of the Gironde. "Yes, Robespierre," he continued, fixing his eye upon him; "I accuse you!" Robespierre, hitherto full of assurance, became moved. He had once before, at the Jacobins, measured his strength with this formidable adversary, whom he knew to be witty, impetuous, and uncompromising. Louvet now spoke, and in a most eloquent address spared neither acts nor names. He traced the course of Robespierre to the Jacobins, to the commune, to the electoral assembly: "calumniating the best patriots; lavishing the basest flatteries on a few hundred citizens, at first designated as the people of Paris, afterwards as the people absolutely, and then as the sovereign; repeating the eternal enumeration of his own merits, perfections, and virtues; and never failing, after he had dwelt on the strength, grandeur, and sovereignty of the people, to protest that he was the people too." He then described him concealing himself on the 10th of August, and afterwards swaying the conspirators of the commune. Then he came to the massacres of September, and exclaimed: "The revolution of the 10th of August belongs to all!" he added, pointing out a few of the members of the Mountain in the commune, "but that of the 2nd of September, that belongs to them - and to none but them! Have they not glorified themselves by it? They themselves, with brutal contempt, only designated us as the patriots of the 10th of August. With ferocious pride they called themselves the patriots of the 2nd of September! Ah, let them retain this distinction worthy of the courage peculiar to them; let them retain it as our justification, and for their lasting shame! These pretended friends of the people wish to cast on the people of Paris the horrors that stained the first week of September. They have basely slandered them. The people of Paris can fight; they cannot murder! It is true, they were assembled all the day long before the chateau of the Tuileries on the glorious 10th of August; it is false that they were seen before the prisons on the horrible 2nd of September. How many executioners were there within? Two hundred; probably not two hundred. And without, how many spectators could be reckoned drawn thither by truly incomprehensible curiosity? At most, twice the number. But, it is asked, why, if the people did not assist in these murders, did they not hinder them? Why? Because Petion's tutelary authority was fettered; because Roland spoke in vain; because Danton, the minister of justice, did not speak at all,... because the presidents of the forty-eight sections waited for orders which the general in command did not give; because municipal officers, wearing their scarfs, presided at these atrocious executions. But the legislative assembly? The legislative assembly! representatives of the people, you will avenge it! The powerless state into which your predecessors were reduced is, in the midst of such crimes, the greatest for which these ruffians, whom I denounce, must be punished." Returning to Robespierre, Louvet pointed out his ambition, his efforts, his extreme ascendancy over the people, and terminated his fiery philippic by a series of facts, each one of which was preceded by this terrible form: "Robespierre, I accuse thee!"

Louvet descended from the tribune amidst applause, Robespierre mounted it to justify himself; he was pale, and was received with murmurs. Either from agitation or fear of prejudice, he asked for a week's delay. The time arrived; he appeared less like one accused than as a triumpher; he repelled with irony Louvet's reproaches, and entered into a long apology for himself. It must be admitted that the facts were vague, and it required little trouble to weaken or overturn them. Persons were placed in the gallery to applaud him; even the convention itself, who regarded this quarrel as the result of a private pique, and, as Barrere said, did not fear a man of a day, a petty leader of riots, was disposed to close these debates. Accordingly, when Robespierre observed, as he finished: "For my part, I will draw no personal conclusions; I have given up the easy advantage of replying to the calumnies of my adversaries by more formidable denunciations; I wished to suppress the offensive part of my justification. I renounce the just vengeance I have a right to pursue against my calumniators; I ask for no other than the return of peace and triumph of liberty!" he was applauded, and the convention passed to the order of the day. Louvet in vain sought to reply; he was not allowed. Barbaroux as vainly presented himself as accuser and Lanjuinais opposed the motion for the order without obtaining the renewal of the discussion. The Girondists themselves supported it: they committed one fault in commencing the accusation, and another in not continuing it. The Mountain carried the day, since they were not conquered, and Robespierre was brought nearer the assumption of the part he had been so far removed from. In times of revolution, men very soon become what they are supposed to be, and the Mountain adopted him for their leader because the Girondists pursued him as such.

But what was much more important than personal attacks, were the discussions respecting the means of government, and the management of authorities and parties. The Girondists struck, not only against individuals but against the commune. Not one of their measures succeeded; they were badly proposed or badly sustained. They should have supported the government, replaced the municipality, maintained their post among the Jacobins and swayed them, gained over the multitude, or prevented its acting; and they did nothing of all this. One among them, Buzot, proposed giving the convention a guard of three thousand men, taken from the departments. This measure, which would at least have made the assembly independent, was not supported with sufficient vigour to be adopted. Thus the Girondists attacked the Mountain without weakening them, the commune without subduing it, the Faubourgs without suppressing them. They irritated Paris by invoking the aid of the departments, without procuring it; thus acting in opposition to the most common rules of prudence, for it is always safer to do a thing than to threaten to do it.

Their adversaries skilfully turned this circumstance to advantage. They secretly circulated a report which could not but compromise the Girondists; it was, that they wished to remove the republic to the south, and give up the rest of the empire. Then commenced that reproach of federalism, which afterwards became so fatal. The Girondists disdained it because they did not see the consequences; but it necessarily gained credit in proportion as they became weak and their enemies became daring. What had given rise to the report was the project of defending themselves behind the Loire, and removing the government to the south, if the north should be invaded and Paris taken, and the predilection they manifested for the provinces, and their indignation against the agitators of the capital. Nothing is more easy than to change the appearance of a measure by changing the period in which the measure was adopted, and discover in the disapprobation expressed at the irregular acts of a city, an intention to form the other cities of the state into a league against it. Accordingly, the Girondists were pointed out to the multitude as federalists. While they denounced the commune, and accused Robespierre and Marat, the Mountain decreed the unity and indivisibility of the republic. This was a way of attacking them and bringing them into suspicion, although they themselves adhered so eagerly to these propositions that they seemed to regret not having made them.

But a circumstance, apparently unconnected with the disputes of these two parties, served still better the cause of the Mountain. Already emboldened by the unsuccessful attempts which had been directed against them, they only waited for an opportunity to become assailants in their turn. The convention was fatigued by these long discussions. Those members who were not interested in them, and even those of the two parties who were not in the first rank, felt the need of concord, and wished to see men occupy themselves with the republic. There was an apparent truce, and the attention of the assembly was directed for a moment to the new constitution, which the Mountain caused it to abandon, in order to decide on the fate of the fallen prince. The leaders of the extreme Left were driven to this course by several motives: they did not want the Girondists, and the moderate members of the Plain, who directed the committee of the constitution, the former by Petion, Condorcet, Brissot, Vergniaud, Gensonne, the others by Barrere, Sieyes, and Thomas Paine, to organize the republic. They would have established the system of the bourgeoisie, rendering it a little more democratic than that of 1791, while they themselves aspired at constituting the people. But they could only accomplish their end by power, and they could only obtain power by protracting the revolutionary state in France. Besides the necessity of preventing the establishment of legal order by a terrible coup d'etat, such as the condemnation of Louis XVI., which would arouse all passions, rally round them the violent parties, by proving them to be the inflexible guardians of the republic, they hoped to expose the sentiments of the Girondists, who did not conceal their desire to save Louis XVI., and thus ruin them in the estimation of the multitude. There were, without a doubt, in this conjuncture, a great number of the Mountain, who, on this occasion, acted with the greatest sincerity and only as republicans, in whose eyes Louis XVI. appeared guilty with respect to the revolution; and a dethroned king was dangerous to a young democracy. But this party would have been more clement, had it not had to ruin the Gironde at the same time with Louis XVI.

For some time past, the public mind had been prepared for his trial. The Jacobin club resounded with invectives against him; the most injurious reports were circulated against his character; his condemnation was required for the firm establishment of liberty. The popular societies in the departments addressed petitions to the convention with the same object. The sections presented themselves at the bar of the assembly, and they carried through it, on litters, the men wounded on the 10th of August, who came to cry for vengeance on Louis Capet. They now only designated Louis XVI. by this name of the ancient chief of his race, thinking to substitute his title of king by his family name.

Party motives and popular animosities combined against this unfortunate prince. Those who, two months before, would have repelled the idea of exposing him to any other punishment than that of dethronement, were stupefied; so quickly does man lose in moments of crisis the right to defend his opinions! The discovery of the iron chest especially increased the fanaticism of the multitude, and the weakness of the king's defenders. After the 10th of August, there were found in the offices of the civil list documents which proved the secret correspondence of Louis XVI. with the discontented princes, with the emigration, and with Europe. In a report, drawn up at the command of the legislative assembly, he was accused of intending to betray the state and overthrow the revolution. He was accused of having written, on the 16th April, 1791, to the bishop of Clermont, that if he regained his power he would restore the former government and the clergy to the state in which they previously were; of having afterwards proposed war, merely to hasten the approach of his deliverers; of having been in correspondence with men who wrote to him - "War will compel all the powers to combine against the seditious and abandoned men who tyrannize over France, in order that their punishment may speedily serve as an example to all who shall be induced to trouble the peace of empires. You may rely on a hundred and fifty thousand men, Prussians, Austrians, and Imperialists, and on an army of twenty thousand emigrants;" of having been on terms with his brothers, whom his public measures had discountenanced: and, lastly, of having constantly opposed the revolution.

Fresh documents were soon brought forward in support of this accusation. In the Tuileries, behind a panel in the wainscot, there was a hole wrought in the wall, and closed by an iron door. This secret closet was pointed out by the minister, Roland, and there were discovered proofs of all the conspiracies and intrigues of the court against the revolution; projects with the popular leaders to strengthen the constitutional power of the king, to restore the ancient regime and the aristocrats; the manoeuvres of Talon, the arrangements with Mirabeau, the proposition accepted by Bouille, under the constituent assembly, and some new plots under the legislative assembly. This discovery increased the exasperation against Louis XVI. Mirabeau's bust was broken by the Jacobins, and the convention covered the one which stood in the hall where it held its sittings.

For some time there had been a question in the assembly as to the trial of this prince, who, having been dethroned, could no longer be proceeded against. There was no tribunal empowered to pronounce his sentence, no punishment which could be inflicted on him: accordingly, they plunged into false interpretations of the inviolability granted to Louis XVI., in order to condemn him legally. The greatest error of parties, next to being unjust, is the desire not to appear so. The committee of legislation, commissioned to draw up a report on the question as to whether Louis XVI. could be tried, and whether he could be tried by the convention, decided in the affirmative. The deputy Mailhe opposed, in its name, the dogma of inviolability; but as this dogma had influenced the preceding epoch of the revolution, he contended that Louis XVI. was inviolable as king, but not as an individual. He maintained that the nation, unable to give up its guarantee respecting acts of power, had supplied the inviolability of the monarch by the responsibility of his ministers; and that, when Louis XVI. had acted as a simple individual, his responsibility devolving on no one, he ceased to be inviolable. Thus Mailhe limited the constitutional safeguard given to Louis XVI. to the acts of the king. He concluded that Louis XVI. could be tried, the dethronement not being a punishment, but a change of government; that he might be brought to trial, by virtue of the penal code relative to traitors and conspirators; that he could be tried by the convention, without observing the process of other tribunals, because, the convention representing the people - the people including all interests, and all interests constituting justice - it was impossible that the national tribunal could violate justice, and that, consequently, it was useless to subject it to forms. Such was the chain of sophistry, by means of which the committee transformed the convention into a tribunal. Robespierre's party showed itself much more consistent, dwelling only on state reasons, and rejecting forms as deceptive.

The discussion commenced on the 13th of November, six days after the report of the committee. The partisans of inviolability, while they considered Louis XVI. guilty, maintained that he could not be tried. The principal of these was Morrison. He said, that inviolability was general; that the constitution had anticipated more than secret hostility on the part of Louis XVI., an open attack, and even in that case had only pronounced his deposition; that in this respect the nation had pledged its sovereignty; that the mission of the convention was to change the government, not to judge Louis XVI.; that, restrained by the rules of justice, it was so also by the usages of war, which only permitted an enemy to be destroyed during the combat - after a victory, the law vindicates him; that, moreover, the republic had no interest in condemning Louis; that it ought to confine itself with respect to him, to measures of general safety, detain him prisoner, or banish him from France. This was the opinion of the Right of the convention. The Plain shared the opinion of the committee; but the Mountain repelled, at the same time, the inviolability and the trial of Louis XVI.

"Citizens," said Saint-Just, "I engage to prove that the opinion of Morrison, who maintains the king's inviolability, and that of the committee which requires his trial as a citizen, are equally false; I contend that we should judge the king as an enemy; that we have less to do with trying than with opposing him: that having no place in the contract which unites Frenchmen, the forms of the proceeding are not in civil law, but in the law of the right of nations; thus, all delay or reserve in this case are sheer acts of imprudence, and next to the imprudence which postpones the moment that should give us laws, the most fatal will be that which makes us temporize with the king." Reducing everything to considerations of enmity and policy, Saint-Just added, "The very men who are about to try Louis have a republic to establish: those who attach any importance to the just chastisement of a king, will never found a republic. Citizens, if the Roman people, after six hundred years of virtue and of hatred towards kings; if Great Britain after the death of Cromwell, saw kings restored in spite of its energy, what ought not good citizens, friends of liberty, to fear among us, when they see the axe tremble in your hands, and a people, from the first day of their freedom, respect the memory of their chains?"

This violent party, who wished to substitute a coup d'etat for a sentence, to follow no law, no form, but to strike Louis XVI. like a conquered prisoner, by making hostilities even survive victory, had but a very feeble majority in the convention; but without, it was strongly supported by the Jacobins and the commune. Notwithstanding the terror which it already inspired, its murderous suggestions were repelled by the convention; and the partisans of inviolability, in their turn, courageously asserted reasons of public interest at the same time as rules of justice and humanity. They maintained that the same men could not be judges and legislators, the jury and the accusers. They desired also to impart to the rising republic the lustre of great virtues, those of generosity and forgiveness; they wished to follow the example of the people of Rome, who acquired their freedom and retained it five hundred years, because they proved themselves magnanimous; because they banished the Tarquins instead of putting them to death. In a political view, they showed the consequences of the king's condemnation, as it would affect the anarchical party of the kingdom, rendering it still more insolent; and with regard to Europe, whose still neutral powers it would induce to join the coalition against the republic.

But Robespierre, who during this long debate displayed a daring and perseverance that presaged his power, appeared at the tribune to support Saint-Just, to reproach the convention with involving in doubt what the insurrection had decided, and with restoring, by sympathy and the publicity of a defence, the fallen royalist party. "The assembly," said Robespierre, "has involuntarily been led far away from the real question. Here we have nothing to do with trial: Louis is not an accused man; you are not judges, you are, and can only be, statesmen. You have no sentence to pronounce for or against a man, but you are called on to adopt a measure of public safety; to perform an act of national precaution. A dethroned king is only fit for two purposes, to disturb the tranquillity of the state, and shake its freedom, or to strengthen one or the other of them.

"Louis was king; the republic is founded; the famous question you are discussing is decided in these few words. Louis cannot be tried; he is already tried, he is condemned, or the republic is not absolved." He required that the convention should declare Louis XVI. a traitor towards the French, criminal towards humanity, and sentence him at once to death, by virtue of the insurrection.

The Mountain by these extreme propositions, by the popularity they attained without, rendered condemnation in a measure inevitable. By gaining an extraordinary advance on the other parties, it obliged them to follow it, though at a distance. The majority of the convention, composed in a large part of Girondists, who dared not pronounce Louis XVI. inviolable, and of the Plain, decided, on Petion's proposition, against the opinion of the fanatical Mountain and against that of the partisans of inviolability, that Louis XVI. should be tried by the convention. Robert Lindet then made, in the name of the commission of the twenty-one, his report respecting Louis XVI. The arraignment, setting forth the offences imputed to him, was drawn up, and the convention summoned the prisoner to its bar.

Louis had been confined in the Temple for four months. He was not at liberty, as the assembly at first wished him to be in assigning him the Luxembourg for a residence. The suspicious commune guarded him closely; but, submissive to his destiny, prepared for everything, he manifested neither impatience, regret, nor indignation. He had only one servant about his person, Clery, who at the same time waited on his family. During the first months of his imprisonment, he was not separated from his family; and he still found solace in meeting them. He comforted and supported his two companions in misfortune, his wife and sister; he acted as preceptor to the young dauphin, and gave him the lessons of an unfortunate man, of a captive king. He read a great deal, and often turned to the History of England, by Hume; there he read of many dethroned kings, and one of them condemned by the people. Man always seeks destinies similar to his own. But the consolation he found in the sight of his family did not last long; as soon as his trial was decided, he was separated from them. The commune wished to prevent the prisoners from concerting their justification; the surveillance it exercised over Louis XVI. became daily more minute and severe.

In this state of things, Santerre received the order to conduct Louis XVI. to the bar of the convention. He repaired to the Temple, accompanied by the mayor, who communicated his mission to the king, and inquired if he was willing to descend. Louis hesitated a moment, then said: "This is another violence. I must yield!" and he decided on appearing before the convention; not objecting to it, as Charles I. had done with regard to his judges. "Representatives," said Barrere, when his approach was announced, "you are about to exercise the right of national justice. Let your attitude be suited to your new functions;" and turning to the gallery, he added, "Citizens, remember the terrible silence which accompanied Louis on his return from Varennes; a silence which was the precursor of the trial of kings by nations." Louis XVI. appeared firm as he entered the hall, and he took a steady glance round the assembly. He was placed at the bar, and the president said to him in a voice of emotion: "Louis, the French nation accuses you. You are about to hear the charges of the indictment. Louis, be seated." A seat had been prepared for him; he sat in it. During a long examination, he displayed much calmness and presence of mind, he replied to each question appropriately, often in an affecting and triumphant manner. He repelled the reproaches addressed to him respecting his conduct before the 14th of July, reminding them that his authority was not then limited; before the journey to Varennes, by the decree of the constituent assembly, which had been satisfied with his replies; and after the 10th of August, by throwing all public acts on ministerial responsibility, and by denying all the secret measures which were personally attributed to him. This denial did not, however, in the eyes of the convention, overthrow facts, proved for the most part by documents written or signed by the hand of Louis XVI. himself; he made use of the natural right of every accused person. Thus he did not admit the existence of the iron chest, and the papers that were brought forward. Louis XVI. invoked a law of safety, which the convention did not admit, and the convention sought to protect itself from anti-revolutionary attempts, which Louis XVI. would not admit.

When Louis had returned to the Temple, the convention considered the request he had made for a defender. A few of the Mountain opposed the request in vain. The convention determined to allow him the services of a counsel. It was then that the venerable Malesherbes offered himself to the convention to defend Louis XVI. "Twice," he wrote, "have I been summoned to the council of him who was my master, at a time when that function was the object of ambition to every man; I owe him the same service now, when many consider it dangerous." His request was granted, Louis XVI. in his abandonment, was touched by this proof of devotion. When Malesherbes entered his room, he went towards him, pressed him in his arms, and said with tears: - "Your sacrifice is the more generous, since you endanger your own life without saving mine." Malesherbes and Tronchet toiled uninterruptedly at his defence, and associated M. Deseze with them; they sought to reanimate the courage of the king, but they found the king little inclined to hope. "I am sure they will take my life; but no matter, let us attend to my trial as if I were about to gain it. In truth, I shall gain it, for I shall leave no stain on my memory."

At length the day for the defence arrived; it was delivered by M. Deseze; Louis was present. The profoundest silence pervaded the assembly and the galleries. M. Deseze availed himself of every consideration of justice and innocence in favour of the royal prisoner. He appealed to the inviolability which had been granted him; he asserted that as king he could not be tried; that as accusers, the representatives of the people could not be his judges. In this he advanced nothing which had not already been maintained by one party of the assembly. But he chiefly strove to justify the conduct of Louis XVI. by ascribing to him intentions always pure and irreproachable. He concluded with these last and solemn words: - "Listen, in anticipation, to what History will say to Fame; Louis ascending the throne at twenty, presented an example of morals, justice, and economy; he had no weakness, no corrupting passion: he was the constant friend of the people. Did the people desire the abolition of an oppressive tax? Louis abolished it: did the people desire the suppression of slavery? Louis suppressed it: did the people solicit reforms? he made them: did the people wish to change its laws? he consented to change them: did the people desire that millions of Frenchmen should be restored to their rights? he restored them: did the people wish for liberty? he gave it them. Men cannot deny to Louis the glory of having anticipated the people by his sacrifices; and it is he whom it is proposed to slay. Citizens, I will not continue, I leave it to History; remember, she will judge your sentence, and her judgment will be that of ages." But passion proved deaf and incapable of foresight.

The Girondists wished to save Louis XVI., but they feared the imputation of royalism, which was already cast upon them by the Mountain. During the whole transaction, their conduct was rather equivocal; they dared not pronounce themselves in favour of or against the accused; and their moderation ruined them without serving him. At that moment his cause, not only that of his throne, but of his life, was their own. They were about to determine, by an act of justice or by a coup d'etat, whether they should return to the legal regime, or prolong the revolutionary regime. The triumph of the Girondists or of the Mountain was involved in one or the other of these solutions. The latter became exceedingly active. They pretended that, while following forms, men were forgetful of republican energy, and that the defence of Louis XVI. was a lecture on monarchy addressed to the nation. The Jacobins powerfully seconded them, and deputations came to the bar demanding the death of the king.

Yet the Girondists, who had not dared to maintain the question of inviolability, proposed a skilful way of saving Louis XVI. from death, by appealing from the sentence of the convention to the people. The extreme Right still protested against the erection of the assembly into a tribunal; but the competence of the assembly having been previously decided, all their efforts were turned in another direction. Salles proposed that the king should be pronounced guilty, but that the application of the punishment should be left to the primary assembly. Buzot, fearing that the convention would incur the reproach of weakness, thought that it ought to pronounce the sentence, and submit the judgment it pronounced to the decision of the people. This advice was vigorously opposed by the Mountain, and even by a great number of the more moderate members of the convention, who saw, in the convocation of the primary assemblies, the germ of civil war.

The assembly had unanimously decided that Louis was guilty, when the appeal to the people was put to the question. Two hundred and eighty-four voices voted for, four hundred and twenty-four against it; ten declined voting. Then came the terrible question as to the nature of the punishment. Paris was in a state of the greatest excitement: deputies were threatened at the very door of the assembly; fresh excesses on the part of the populace were dreaded; the Jacobin clubs resounded with extravagant invectives against Louis XVI., and the Right. The Mountain, till then the weakest party in the convention, sought to obtain the majority by terror, determined, if it did not succeed, none the less to sacrifice Louis XVI. Finally, after four hours of nominal appeal, the president, Vergniaud, said: "Citizens, I am about to proclaim the result of the scrutiny. When justice has spoken, humanity should have its turn." There were seven hundred and twenty-one voters. The actual majority was three hundred and sixty-one. The death of the king was decided by a majority of twenty-six votes. Opinions were very various: Girondists voted for his death, with a reservation, it is true; most of the members of the Right voted for imprisonment or exile; a few of the Mountain voted with the Girondists. As soon as the result was known, the president said, in a tone of grief: "In the name of the convention, I declare the punishment, to which it condemns Louis Capet, to be death." Those who had undertaken the defence appeared at the bar; they were deeply affected. They endeavoured to bring back the assembly to sentiments of compassion, in consideration of the small majority in favour of the sentence. But this subject had already been discussed and decided. "Laws are only made by a simple majority," said one of the Mountain. "Yes," replied a voice, "but laws may be revoked; you cannot restore the life of a man." Malesherbes wished to speak, but could not. Sobs prevented his utterance; he could only articulate a few indistinct words of entreaty. His grief moved the assembly. The request for a reprieve was received by the Girondists as a last resource; but this also failed them, and the fatal sentence was pronounced.

Louis expected it. When Malesherbes came in tears to announce the sentence, he found him sitting in the dark, his elbows resting on a table, his face hid in his hands, and in profound meditation. At the noise of his entrance, Louis rose and said: "For two hours I have been trying to discover if, during my reign, I have deserved the slightest reproach from my subjects. Well, M. de Malesherbes, I swear to you, in the truth of my heart, as a man about to appear before God, that I have constantly sought the happiness of my people, and never indulged a wish opposed to it." Malesherbes urged that a reprieve would not be rejected, but this Louis did not expect. As he saw Malesherbes go out, Louis begged him not to forsake him in his last moments; Malesherbes promised to return; but he came several times, and was never able to gain access to him. Louis asked for him frequently, and appeared distressed at not seeing him. He received without emotion the formal announcement of his sentence from the minister of justice. He asked three days to prepare to appear before God; and also to be allowed the services of a priest, and permission to communicate freely with his wife and children. Only the last two requests were granted.

The interview was a distressing scene to this desolate family; but the moment of separation was far more so. Louis, on parting with his family, promised to see them again the next day; but, on reaching his room, he felt that the trial would be too much, and, pacing up and down violently, he exclaimed, "I will not go!" This was his last struggle; the rest of his time was spent in preparing for death. The night before the execution he slept calmly. Clery awoke him, as he had been ordered, at five, and received his last instructions. He then communicated, commissioned Clery with his dying words, and all he was allowed to bequeath, a ring, a seal, and some hair. The drums were already beating, and the dull sound of travelling cannon, and of confused voices, might be heard. At length Santerre arrived. "You are come for me," said Louis; "I ask one moment." He deposited his will in the hands of the municipal officer, asked for his hat, and said, in a firm tone: "Let us go."

The carriage was an hour on its way from the Temple to the Place de la Revolution. A double row of soldiers lined the road; more than forty thousand men were under arms. Paris presented a gloomy aspect. The citizens present at the execution manifested neither applause nor regret; all were silent. On reaching the place of execution, Louis alighted from the carriage. He ascended the scaffold with a firm step, knelt to receive the benediction of the priest, who is recorded to have said, "Son of Saint Louis, ascend to heaven!" With some repugnance he submitted to the binding of his hands, and walked hastily to the left of the scaffold; "I die innocent," said he; "I forgive my enemies; and you, unfortunate people..." Here, at a signal, the drums and trumpets drowned his voice, and the three executioners seized him. At ten minutes after ten he had ceased to live.

Thus perished, at the age of thirty-nine, after a reign of sixteen years and a half, spent in endeavouring to do good, the best but weakest of monarchs. His ancestors bequeathed to him a revolution. He was better calculated than any of them to prevent and terminate it; for he was capable of becoming a reformer-king before it broke out, or of becoming a constitutional king afterwards. He is, perhaps, the only prince who, having no other passion, had not that of power, and who united the two qualities which make good kings, fear of God and love of the people. He perished, the victim of passions which he did not share; of those of the persons about him, to which he was a stranger, and to those of the multitude, which he had not excited. Few memories of kings are so commendable. History will say of him, that, with a little more strength of mind, he would have been an exemplary king.