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racter of that court, which has not ceased to be the most intriguing, ever since its connection with Germany.
Louis XVI. considered as an individual, is an object beneath the notice of the republic; but when he is looked upon as a part of that band of conspirators, as a criminal whose trial may lead all the nations in the world to a knowledge and detestation of the disastrous system of monarchy, and the plots and intrigues of their own courts, he ought to be, and must be tried.
If the crimes for which Louis XVI. is arraigned, were absolutely personal to him, without reference to general conspiracies, and confined to the affairs of France, the motives of inviolahility, that folly of the moment, might have been urged in his behalf with some appearance of reason; but as he is arraigned not only on the part of France, but for having conspired against all Europe, we ought to use every means in our power to discover the whole extent of that conspiracy. France is now a republic: she has completed her revolution; but she cannot earn all the advantages arising from it, as long as she is environed with despotical Governments; their armies and marine oblige her likewise to keep troops and ships in readiness. It is, therefore, her immediate interest, that all nations be as free as herself; that revolutions be universal; and since Louis XVI. can serve to prove, by the flagitiousness of Government in general, the necessity of revolutions, she ought not to let slip so precious an opportunity.
The despots of Europe have formed alliances to preserve their respective authority, and to perpetuate the oppression of nations; this is the end which they proposed to themselves, in making an invasion on the French territory. They dread the effect of the French Revolution in the bosom of their own countries; and in hopes of preventing it, they are come to try to destroy that Revolution, before it should have attained its perfect maturity. Their attempt has not been attended with success: France has already vanquished their armies; but it is left to her to sound the particulars of the conspiracy, to discover, to expose to the eyes of the universe those despots who had the infamy to take part in it; and the universe expects of her that act of justice.
These are my motives for demanding that Louis XVI. be judged; and it is in this sole point of view, that his trial appears to me of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the republic.
As to what regards inviolahility, I would not have such a motive to be mentioned. Seeing no longer in Louis XVI. but a weak-minded and narrow-spirited individual, ill-bred, like all his colleagues, given, as it is said, to frequent excesses of drunkenness, and whom the National Assembly raised again imprudently on a throne which was not made for him, if we shew him hereafter some pity, it shall not be the result of the burlesque idea of a pretended inviolahility.
SPEECH IN THE NATIONAL CONVENTION ON THE QUESTION, "SHALL, OR SHALL NOT, A RESPITE OF THE SENTENCE OF LOUIS XVI. TAKE PLACE?"
I Have voted for the detention of Louis, and his banishment after the war, but I am much afraid that the speedy execution of the sentence of Louis will rather pass for a deed of vengeance than a measure of justice. I wish the Convention had voted as the nation would; I mean for imprisonment.
The United States of America have the utmost veneration for Louis, who gave them liberty. And I can pledge myself to you, that the sentence of Louis will overwhelm all the Americans with consternation. And remember, that it is they who will alone supply you with all the timber and naval stores you shall want in the maritime war you are about to declare. The north of Europe is ready to bring its forces against you. You mean to send an ambassador to Philadelphia; my sincere wish is, that he may announce to the Americans, that the National Convention of France, from pure friendship to America, has consented to respite the sentence of Louis.
Citizens, let not a neighbouring despot enjoy the satisfaction of seeing that man mount the scaffold who has broke the irons of the Americans.
REASONS FOR PRESERVING THE LIFE OF LOUIS CAPET, AS DELIVERED TO THE NATIONAL CONVENTION.
Citizen President, Paris, Jan. 23,1793.
My hatred and abhorrence of monarchy are sufficiently known, they originate in principles of reason and conviction, nor except with life, can they ever be extirpated ; but my compassion for the unfortunate, whether friend or enemy, is equally lively and sincere. I voted that Louis should be tried, because it was necessary to afford proofs to the world of the perfidy, corruption and abomination of the monarchical system. The infinity of evidence that has been produced, exposes them in the most glaring and hideous colours—thence it results, that monarchy, whatever form it may assume, arbitrary or otherwise, becomes necessarily a ceutre, round which is united every species of corruption, and the kingly trade is no less destructive of all morality in the human breast, than the trade of an executioner is destructive of its sensibility.
I remember during my residence in another country that I was exceedingly struck with a sentence of M. Autheine, at the Jacobins, which corresponds exactly with my own idea, —" Make me a king to-day," said he, "and I shall be a robber to-morrow."
Nevertheless, I am inclined to believe, that if Louis Capet had been born in an obscure condition, had he lived within the circle of an amiable and respectable neighbourhood, at liberty to practise the duties of domestic life, had he been thus situated, I cannot believe that he would have shewn himself destitute of social virtues: we are in a moment of fermentation like this, naturally little indulgent to his vices, or rather to those of monarchical governments; we regard them with additional horror and indignation, not that they are more heinous than his predecessors, but because our eyes are now open and the veil of delusion at length withdrawn; yet the lamentably degraded state to which he is actually reduced, is surely far less imputable to him, than to the Constituent Assembly, which of its own authority, without consent or advice of the people, restored him to the throne.
I was in Paris at the time of the flight or abdication , of Louis XVI. and when he was taken and brought back. The proposal of restoring to him the supreme power struck me with amazement; and although at that time, I was not a French citizen, yet as a citizen of the world, I employed all the efforts that depended on me to prevent it.
A small society, composed only of five persons, two of whom are now members of the Convention, took at that time, the name of the Republican Club (Societe Republicanine.)
This society opposed the restoration of Louis, not so much on account of his personal offences, as in order to overthrow the monarchy, and to erect on its ruins the republican system and an equal representation.
With this design, I traced out in the English language certain propositions, which were translated with some trifling alterations, and signed by Achilles Duchatlet, actually lieutenant-general in the army of the French republic, and at that time one of the five members which composed our little party: the law requiring the signature of a citizen at the bottom of each printed paper.
The paper was indignantly torn by Malouet; and brought forth in this very room as an article of accusation against the person who had signed it, the author and their adherents; but such is the revolution of events, that this paper is now received and brought forth for a very opposite burpose:—to remind the nation of the errors of that unfortunate day, that fatal error of having not then banished Louis XVI. from its bosom, and not to plead this day in favour of his exile, preferably to his death.
The Paper in question was conceived in the following terms:
"Brethren and Fellow Citizens,
"The serene tranquility, the mutual confidence which prevailed amongst us, during the time of the late king's escape, the indifference with which we beheld him return, are unequivocal proofs that the absence of a king is more desirable than his presence, and that he is not only a political superfluity, but a grievous burden pressing hard on the whole nation.
"Let us not be imposed on by sophisms; all that concerns this, is reduced to four points.
"He has abdicated the throne in having fled from his post. Abdication and desertion are not characterized by the length of absence, but by the single act of flight; in this instance, the act is every thing, and the time nothing. The nation can never give back its confidence to a man who, false to his trust, perjured to his oath, conspires a clandestine flight, obtains a fraudulent passport, conceals a King of France under the disguise of a valet, directs his course towards a frontier covered with traitors and deserters, and evidently meditates a return into our country, y&th a force capable of imposing his own despotic laws.
"Whether ought his flight to be considered as his own act, or the act of those who fled with him? Was it a spontaneous resolution of his own, or was it inspired into him by others? The alternative is immaterial: whether fool or hypocrite, idiot or traitor, he has proved himself equally unworthy of the vast important functions that had been delegated to him
"In every sense that the question can be considered, the reciprocal obligation which subsisted between us is dissolved. He holds no longer authority. We owe him no longer obedience. We see in him no more than an indifferent person; we can regard him only as Louis Capet.
"The history of France presents little else than a long series of public calamity, which takes its source from the vices of the king: we have been the wretched victims that have never ceased to suffer, either for them or by them. The catalogue of their oppressions was complete, but to complete the sum of their crimes, treason yet was wanting. Now the only vacancy is filled up, the dreadful list is full: the system is exhausted: there are no remaining errors for them to commit, their reign is consequently at an end.
What kind of office must that be in a Government which requires neither experience nor ability to execute?—that may be abandoned to the desperate chance of birth, that may be filled with an idiot, a madman, a tyrant, with equal effect, as by the good, the virtuous, and the wise. An office of this nature is a mere non-entity; it is a place of show, not of use. Let France, then, arrived at the age of reason, no longer be deluded by the sound of words, and let her deliberately examine, if a king, however insignificant and contemptible in himself, may not at the same time be extremely dangerous.
The thirty millions which it costs to support a king in the eclat of stupid, brutal luxury, present us with an easy method of reducing taxes, which reduction would at once release the people, and stop the progress of political cor