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Junection of the 31 stated in to shorter their
public opinion, by their powerful oratory and their freedom from crime. Their hopes were vain. The execution of the king only rendered the debates of the Convention more violent, and hastened the fate of the minority. After four months, of which almost every day was marked by angry declamation, or brilliant eloquence, but during which the Brissotins, with the exception of Louvet and Barbaroux, appear to have made no one active effort to avert their impending fate, the multitude were called in to shorten the contest. The insurrection of the 31st of May was followed by that of the 1st of June, and on the subsequent day an order was issued for the arrest of the principal members of the obnoxious party.
Louvet speaks of a dinner given by him on the 1st of June, at which he assembled his leading friends and urged upon them the necessity of Aeeing to the south of France and organizing an insurrection of the departments against the capital.* Brissot, with most of his associates, dissented from him, refused to fly, and even went so far as to return to the Convention on the following day. After the decree of arrest, however, Brissot made one effort to save his life, and endeavored to leave the kingdom in the disguise of a merchant of Neufchâtel. He was detected, and apprehended at Moulins on the 16th June. In the mean time a portion of the Girondists had been arrested, a part had fled to the south of France, where after wandering in the manner so touchingly described by Louvet, through their own country, without a resting-place for the soles of their feet, a price set upon their heads and the bloodhounds upon their traces, with but one or two exceptions, they cut short their miserable lives or fell into the hands of their enemies.
Thus,' says Mignet, was overpowered the party of the Gironde, a party illustrious for its great talent and high courage, which did honor to the young republic by its hatred of crime, and its abhorrence of bloodshed and anarchy, its love of order, of justice, and of liberty,—it could only ennoble a certain defeat by a bold struggle and a dauntless death.'
But let us hear the confession of Brissot, when, in prison, and looking forward to the bloody end of a laborious and painful life, he thus passes sentence on his own career. “In most of the external circumstances of my life, the sport of the whirlwind, I have been rather the slave of public prejudice than
* Memoires de Louvet, p. 91.
of his the pret and the his
the apostle of truth.' And this is the statesman, philosopher and politician, with whose name and opinions France at one time rang, who had hoped to be the political regenerator of his country. What could be hoped from a revolution, among the prime movers in which such a man was one of the most able and the most virtuous? How different such a self-condemnation as this, from the feelings with which our early patriots may be supposed to have looked back upon the struggle in which they had fought and conquered! How different the wild struggles, the headlong career, and the inglorious death of Brissot, from the dignified and resolute resistance, the impetuosity regulated in its most vehement efforts, the success, complete but not abused, of the men of 1776 !
Brissot, with Vergniaud, Gensonné, Fonfrède and the other leading Girondists, were handed over to the revolutionary tribunal, and after a delay, the length of which is not perfectly explained, they met their fate with uncomplaining courage. On the 31st of October the unfortunate men, to the number of twenty-one, were conducted to the place of execution. With the stoicism of the time, they sang on the way the Marseillaise hymn, applying it to their situation.
" Allons, enfans de la patrie !
Le couteau sanglant est levé. Brissot is said to have been dejected, the others maintained an unaltered front to the last. Valazé stabbed himself on hearing his sentence. Lasource said to the judges, I die at a moment when the people has lost its reason; you will perish the instant it shall recover it.'
No atonement was made to the memory of Brissot or his fellow-sufferers, until after the fall of Robespierre, when the Convention settled a pension upon his widow and children.
It is not difficult to catch the prominent characteristics of the individual, of whose life we have detailed the principal incidents. Correct and beloved in his private life, and indefatigable in his industry, Brissot proposed to himself, as the object of his labors, the instruction, the cultivation, the freedom of his fellow-beings. Had he belonged to a somewhat earlier period, bis name would probably have been associated with those most efficacious in bringing about the Revolution, but he,
unfortunately for his happiness and his reputation, was thrown upon a time when philosophers and students were as impotent as their own dusty tomes. Credulous, averse to violent measures, capable of endurance, but incapable of bloody opposition, Brissot was no match for the cruel and unhesitating antagonists with whom he chose to contend. Unwise and ignorant both of his own power and of the character of the people, he urged on a revolution which already required rather the curb than the spur, and atoned for his error by his death. Nor can we say that it was undeserved. Ignorance sometimes demands as severe a penalty as vice, and where the happiness and the safety of millions are concerned, the one is scarcely more excusable than the other. His private virtues, his active benevolence, and his hard fate, must not conceal from us the culpable blindness of his political career.
The excesses of the French Revolution made the march of free opinion for once retrograde, and it is to the madness of such men as Brissot, who did not themselves seek an empire of crime, and who might, by leaguing with the earliest patriots, have withstood those who did, that we are to ascribe much of the strife, the bloodshed, the oppression, the misgovernment of the last forty years. The history of this period has furnished with a standing argument the anti-reformers of every country ; it has created in the minds of wise and good men a distrust of the virtue of the people, and all the glory and all the moderation of the · Three Days' were needed to dim the remembrance of the massacres of September.
We will hope, that a brighter and a calmer day begins now to gild the horizon of France,—that she will now receive the rays of that sun which, reversing the phenomena of the natural world, first illumined this Western hemisphere,—that the same broad light will dissipate the shadow which overhangs the destinies of the island-empire, the home of our forefathers; that when, before many generations have passed away, this sun shall have reached its noonday height, the citizens of these three great commonwealths shall lay aside their mutual jealousy, and every petty hostility, dignified by the name of national, and enter upon that peaceful career of rivalry and emulation, in which alone the success of the one does not imply the failure of the other; in which alone bonor and advantage can be acquired by all.
Art. IX.-The Annuals. 1. The Token and Atlantic Souvenir, a Christmas and
New Year's Present. Edited by S. G. GOODRICH.
Boston. 1834. 2. The Religious Souvenir. Philadelphia. 1834.
These beautiful volumes are highly creditable to the state of learning, as well as of the arts, in this country. If they fall below the British publications of the same description, in the luxury of their typographical execution, binding, and embellishments,-in all which particulars, however, they are worthy of high praise,—they are on the other hand decidedly superior to their foreign competitors in the more important department of literary merit. We have seen no British annual, that could be compared in this respect with the Tokens of this and the preceding years. The latter have, in fact, been enriched by contributions from many of the best writers in the United States. In the one now before us, there are articles avowedly from the pens of President Adams, Miss Sedgwick, Rev. Messrs. Dewey, Greenwood, and Pierpont, Mr. Thatcher, Mr. Cushing, and other persons of established reputation, as well as some anonymous writers, whose names, if known, would do no discredit to the above list. In attending carefully to the point of literary execution, the editors of our annuals may, perhaps, have been stimulated by the example of their brethren of Germany, where the similar publications are often replete with contributions of the greatest merit, some of which have taken their station in the literature of the country as standard works. It is well known, for example, that Schiller's History of the Thirty Years' War,—the best historical work in the German language,-made its first appearance in this form. We hope that the publishers of these works will continue to pay the same attention to the literary department, that they have heretofore done. It is quite desirable that volumes, which circulate so widely as these do, especially among the younger part of the community, should not only gratify the eye of taste by the beauty of their embellishments, but should be made the vehicle of good principles and valuable information.
Of the annuals of this year, the Token is decidedly the first. The engravings are unequal, but some of them have very great merit, particularly those of Cheney, of which 'The Orphans' is the best. This is really a beautiful thing, and does the highest credit to the skill and taste of the young artist. The poetry of the volume is not as a whole equal to the prose, although it includes some very agreeable articles. Of the prose contributions, the · Reminiscence of Federalism' and the - Modern Job' are, perhaps, the most remarkable. The former is from the eloquent pen of Miss Sedgwick, and serves in some degree as a compensation for her long and much-regretted silence in the way of extended publications. The
Diamond,' and two shorter tales with the same signature, though they bear some marks of hasty composition, exhibit the felicity of style and various information which distinguish the other productions of the fair author. The Convent of the Paular,'--probably by Professor Longfellow,—is a very striking sketch. The Reflections on the opening and on the close of the Year,—the former from the pen of Mr. Dewey, the latter by an anonymous writer,-may well be compared with the finest efforts of the kind in the language. There are also various other articles, which our limits do not permit us to notice particularly, but which are equal, perhaps superior, in merit to some of those which we have named.
As a specimen of the poetry, we extract the "Plague in the Forest,' which, if not absolutely the best poem in the volume, is very agreeably versified, and is curious as the production of President Adams. It is well known, that this illustrious statesman has, through life, amused his leisure by occasional compositions in verse, some of which have found their way to the public eye, and exhibit, with the vigor of thought and warmth of expression that distinguish all his writings, a command of the forms of poetry, which was hardly to be expected from a mere amateur.
Time was, when round the lion's den,
A peopled city raised its head;
But by four-footed beasts instead.
The hoof-defended steed;