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pressors ; the former making a desperate struggle to throw off their political degradation, or to rise armed with their chains, and break them over the heads of their oppressors.
The prevailing disorders, and the almost universal uneasiness and complaints of the people, led to the calling of the States-general, as the only means of re, moving the disorders, and repressing the tumults of the kingdom. They were met by the king on the 4th of May, 1789. Violent jealousies and animosities, soon disclosed themselves, and a contest arose relative to voting in one, or separate chambers. The elements of political dissention and violence, collected with the rapidity of lightning, and seemed to portend a dreadful storm.
Count de Mirabeau, a man of energetic and powerful eloquence, and the leader of the popular party, attacked the ministers with great ardour and effect; he boldly and with great earnestness declared the existence of a dangerous conspiracy on the part of the Court, against the Assembly.
The ministry was suddenly dismissed, of which Necker was a member, a man of great popularity; and a new one appointed composed of the most violent partizans of royalty, and avowed enemies of liberty. The report of this event, accompanied with the additional circumstance, that Necker the favourite of the nation, was sent into exile, being circulated, occasioned universal consternation and alarm ; fear, grief and indignation were depicted in every countenance; the theatres were immediately closed by order of the people, the busts of Necker and the duke of Orleans, covered with crape, were carried about the city; the more daring, openly declared that the king ought to be dethroned and the duke of Orleans appointed his successor; all the bells were rung, and the people collected in crowds in the public places in the city, where street orators endeavoured to increase their alarm and inflame their indignation, by impressing
them with a belief, that the late disorders would call down upon their heads the military vengeance of the government. In this state of confusion and consternation, a German regiment commanded by the prince of Lambesc appeared in the streets to disperse the mul
and the commandant having imprudently struck an old man with his sword, the report of which operating like a spark applied to a magazine, was succeeded by the cry,
6 to arms! to arms !" The vast multitude, like a mighty cataract, agitated and foaming with rage, rushed to the scene of action and of danger; and the troops were driven out of Paris, amidst the execrations of the people.
But the tumult, anxiety and alarm, did not subside. A general apprehension prevailed, that Marshal Broglio, commandant of all the corps in the vicinity of Paris, was preparing for an attack upon the citizens of the metropolis; the night brought no sleep to the people, but was spent in securing weapons, and preparing for their defence; every house became a fortress, and every citizen a soldier. In the morning, although no enemy appeared, all the shops were shut, all business suspended, and an awful anxiety and expectation pervaded the City. Whilst Paris was in this state of alarm and preparation, the national as. sembly was in the most perilous situation ; bodies of troops were stationed so as to cut off all communica. tion with Versailles, so that, in case of attack the inhabitants of that place could offer no resistance. But, “thrice is he armed who has his quarrel just;" the Assembly betrayed no symptoms of fear, confiding in the justice of their cause, the rectitude of their intentions, and the support of their fellow citizens.
On the following night the 13th of July, by an intercepted correspondence, it was discovered that M. de Fleseles, the Mayor of Paris, who had pretended to be in the views of the Citizens, had formed the design of betraying them into the power of marshal Brog‘lio ; who with a large body of troops was to enter the
City, the following evening, when it was supposed, that the people would be so overcome with fatigue, anxiety and the deprivation of rest the preceding night, that they could not resist the pressing demands of nature, for repose.
This was a momentous crisis ; on which was suspended the destiny of France, and the liberties of the people; all was mystery, anxiety and hazard. What plans the ministry were forming, was unknown to the people within the City, and what the citizens were doing was equally unknown to the ministry.
No time was to be lost, as it was evident Broglio would reinforce the Bastile the ensuing evening ; it was therefore necessary to attack it that day; but this could not be done without a better supply of arms.
At such a crisis the citizens could not be scrupulous about the mode of procuring them. There was a deposit of arms at the hospital of invalids, adjoining the City ; this was attacked, and surrendered without much resistance. Having availed themselves of this magazine of arms, a vast and mixed multitude of all ages, and conditions, armed with all sorts of weapons, proceeded to attack the Bastile.
It is as difficult for the imagination to conceive of a multitude of forty thousand whimsically armed, marching to attack a "strong hold" of despotism, which was both a fortress and a prison, as it is to conceive of the anxiety which prevailed, when upon the events of a few hours, not only their own safety, but the freedom or slavery of their country were suspended.
But the Bastile was attacked with an enthusiasm and heroism which the highest animation of liberty alone could inspire. The garrison having demanded a parley, received for answer, “ deliver the keys,” from a thousand voices. The assault was furious and desperate, and although the resistance was resolute and determined, this “strong hold" of tyranny and of power, was taken in a few hours. The victims of this great castle of Despotism, who for years had been entom.
: ed in its infernal dungeons, dragging out a miserable
existence, shut out from the world, and the glorious orb of day, which enlivens it, were liberated. The dismal cells of incarcerated victims, where no beam of light and no cheering ray of hope ever penetrated, were rummaged and the instruments of vengeance and of torture, long concealed and used in secret, brought forth to the view and indignation of the world.
The fall of this high altar and great castle of despotism, into which it had been meditated to doom the National Assembly, brought down the ministry with it. The passions of the people were so inflamed, that they could not be satisfied with a victory, without some victims. Accordingly M. de Launay the governor of the Bastile, and M. de Flesseles, the mayor, were barbarously slaughtered, and their heads, mounted on long pikes, were carried about the City, as bloody trophies of the triumph of the people.
The fall of the Bastile, and the dismission of the ministry, tended in some measure to calm the public mind, and to establish the security and authority of the National Assembly.
This august body, headed by the patriotic M. La Fayette, and the intrepid and eloquent Mirabeau, proceeded to deliberate upon the subject of a constitutional charter, for the government of the nation ; and having framed a constitution, it was presented to the King, who readily accepted it. The King's speech, on the occasion, which was suitable and appropriate, was received with the most lively enthusiasm, and shouts of u vida le Roi," resounded from all quarters.
But the popularity of the monarch was of short duration. On the 20th of June a vast multitude, comprising all the elements of confusion and disorder, led on by two desperadoes, Santere and Legendre, a butcher, proceeded to the palace of the king, and nearly overwhelmed the unfortunate monarch and his family in irretrievable ruin. An attempt in the National Assembly to conciliate the hostile factions, had little ef
fect in calming the public mind, or in guaranteeing the safety of the royal family. On the night of the 10th of-August, Danton, one of the leaders of the jacobin faction raised the cry of “ to arms ! to arms !"-all the bells were rung, the city proclaimed in a state of insurrection; the most furious assault was made upop the palace, which was resolutely but unsuccessfully defended by the Swiss guards, with some grenadiers, and a body of royalists. They were overpowered by numbers; the Swiss were nearly all slaughtered, and their remains exhibited on pikes. Of all parties engaged in this attack, about three thousaand lives were lost. The king in a moment of distraction took the unaccountable resolution of throwing himself and family into the arms of the national Assembly; and before he quitted the palace, gave strict orders not to fire on the people.
This rash step precipitated his ruin ; violent and desperate men at this period had obtained the ascendancy in the national legislature; the unfortunate monarch and his family were sent to prison ; and not only the ministers, the ladies of the court, and the pensioners of the family, but many thousand persons suspected of being the partizans of royalty, were either seized and imprisoned upon pretended accusations, or assassinated by marauding cut-throats, set in motion by the leading jacobins. From the violent proceedings of political demagogues, the licentiousness of the people broke over all bounds, personal security was at an end, tumult, consternation and alarm became universal.
These important events had not passed unobserved by Bonaparte, nor failed of making a deep impression upon his mind. He was among the numerous crowd who at an early stage of the revolution flocked to Paris under an expectation, in some way of deriving advantage from the political storm which was beginning to agitate the nation.
After the death of his patron count Marboeuf, Bonaparte left his regiment and returned to Corsica, where