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the.same table were two jars of flowers— one of roses, one of pinks from the garden—and another jar of wild woodbine from the lane had not long been taken away. With one or other of these flowers it doubtless came. But was it not singular? Extinguishing the candle, I sent the candlestick to the little court in front of the house, where it was deposited on the turf; and in ten minutes it had crawled out upon the grass, where it will, I trust, live out its little life in. peace and comfort. K. (who has lived with me for fifteen years, and whom you must learn to like) said, knowing how fond I used to be of those stars of the earth, that 'now I could not go to them they came to me.'
K. is a great curiosity; by far the cleverest woman in those parts, not in a literary way, but in all that is useful. She could make a court-dress for a duchess, and cook a dinner for a lordmayor; but her principal talent is shown in managing everybody she comes near— especially her husband and myself. She keeps the money of both; never allows either of us to spend sixpence without her knowledge; and is quite inflexible in case she happens to disapprove the intended expenditure. You should see the manner in which she makes Sam reckon with her, and her contempt for all women who do not manage their husbands."
The end was now drawing very near— my old friend's pains and feebleness increasing daily. "I hang on life," writes she, "as one of these November leaves upon the tree." Yet even thus she was full of solicitude for others. I had myself been ill, and was supposed at that time to have an interesting tendency towards con
sumption. "How selfish of me, my dear friend," says she, "to write to you of my aches and pains when you are yourself laid up. . . . You must not come for more than a few hours this winter weather; all the cottages round here are damp; and it would be the death of me if you caught a fresh cold."
In the spring, her ready pen for the first time began to weary. "Write tome, dear friend, without being particular as to my writing again: you will not have me long. . . . Writing causes me such intense pain, that I must be brief. I am happy in your happiness. Give my best love to your fair wife. God bless you both. ... I grow worse and worse, weaker and weaker, every day, and never shall get down-stairs again. I see scarcely any one, but shall admit you to my bedside, unless unable to see any one. Poor Talfourd came there a fortnight before his death, and we talked heart to heart, with a gush of the old friendship, and parted most cordially. Once again all happiness be with you. . . . Write to me whilst I am here, and pray for me. . . ." The rest of the letter is full of devotion, thankfulness, humility, and patience— one, in short, that cannot be published. Even at this pass she did not think of
herself alone. "I have just seen"
[naming a person of great literary eminence]. "I recommended you to him in the strongest terms. He had heard of you. And when I am gone (not before), address yourself to him if you feel the need to do so. He will remember our last interview. Farewell."
That is the last letter I received from Mary Russell Mitford.
"THE DELIRIUM OP THE REVOLUTION."*—BY THE AUTHOR OP "ROBESPIERRE."
Short in stature, big-boned, but emaciated by disease; high cheek bones, deeply set yet prominent eyes, bold and insolent in expression, but shrinking catlike from daylight; a cavernous mouth, twisted by a perpetual sneer, short, broad nose, with expanded nostrils, that seemed for ever sniffing, hyaina-like, for blood; a livid skin marked with leprous-like
blotches; hair cut short over'a low receding forehead, worn long behind and tied with a leathern thong. Dirty shirt open at the breast, exposing the cadaverous chest; cotton-velvet trousers, stained with ink. and rolled up at the bottoms; blue worsted stockings; workman's boots, the soles studded with nails; a filthy rag tied round the head. Such is the portrait of Marat.
France is spared the disgrace of numbering this ghoul among her sons. Jean Paul Marat was born at Neufchatel in 1744. Of his parentage, of his early life, but little has been bequeathed to history. Here is his own account, extracted from one of the numbers of L'Ami du Peuple:
"Born with a sensitive heart, a fiery imagination, a frank and impetuous character, a right mind, a heart that drank in all exalted passions, especially the love of glory, brought up in my father's house with the tenderest care, I arrived at manhood without ever having abandoned myself to the fury of my passions.
"I owe to nature the stamp of my disposition, but it is to my mother I owe the development of my character. She it was who implanted in my heart love of justice and humanity. All the alms she bestowed upon the poor passed through my hands. At eight years old I could not bear the sight of any ill-treatment exercised towards my fellow creatures, and the sight of cruelty or injustice excited my anger as though it had been a personal outrage.
"In early youth my health was bad; I never knew the pleasures and games of boyhood. Tractable and studious, my masters could do anything with me by kindness. I was never punished but once; I was then eleven years old; I was shut up in my room; the punishment was unjust—I jumped out of the window into the street.
"At this age the love of glory was my principal passion. At five, I should have chosen to be a schoolmaster; at fifteen, a professor; at eighteen, an author; at twenty, a creative genius; as I now am ambitious of the glory of immolating myself for my country. ... I wrote eight volumes of metaphysics, twenty of physical science. . . . The quacks of the Corps Scientifique, D'Alembe'rt, Condorcet, Laplace, Lalande, Monge, and Lavoisier wish to be alone, and I could not even pronounce the titles of my works. During Jive years I groaned beneath this cowardly oppression. When the Revolution was announced by the convocation of the States-General, I soon perceived whither things were tending; and I began to entertain the hope of at length beholding humanity avenged, in aiding to burst her fetters, and of mounting to my right place."
The italics in both sentences are my own.
Could this man ever have possessed a
sensitive heart, a love of humanity, a horror of cruelty? Could he ever have been a docile child fondled by a mother? Yet even in these confessions we can trace how the hopeful child developed into the monstrous man. The restless fever of mind creating a burning thirst for fame, now in one thing, now in another, ultimately in all. Then came a life of wandering through Switzerland, England and France; now an author, now an empiric vending an universal medicine, then a stable doctor. Feeble in health, of mediocre abilities, yet with a profound belief in the greatness of his talents, ever pursuing the phantom of glory, never approaching it; eternal disappointment and thwarted hopes fretting the acrid humors of a bilious temperament. At forty every better feeling of his nature was absorbed by its gall. Every being rich or more fortunate than himself was, to his jaundiced vision, leagued to crush him. Envy and the bruises inflicted upon intense vanity engendered a monamania of hatred against all aristocracy of wealth or of intellect, against every human being who could pretend to the shadow of superiority over himself.
The two most sanguinary leaders of the Revolution were martyrs to bile. What if their crimes were due rather to the humors of the stomach than to the humors of the brain? What a satire it would be upon psychology!
At forty years of age he was a veterinary surgeon to the Comte d'Artois. Five years afterwards the Revolution burst forth. Into this he threw himself at once with the fury of a wild beast. L'Ami du Peuple appeared, preaching its crusade of blood. After the unhappy affair of the Champ de Mars, when Lafayette fired upon the people, he sent forth the first yell formassacre. L'Ami du Peuple demanded two hundred and sixty thousand heads! Lafayette and other members of the Assembly demanded his arrest, and he was compelled to fly. Then commenced a life of concealment. At one time hidden by Legendre, the butcher, in a cave; at another hidden by Danton in the subterraneous cells of the convent of the Cordeliers. Forth from these tiger dens issued fierce pamphlets, denouncing king, queen, aristocracy, generals, officers, ministers, priests, members of the National Assembly —people of whom he had no knowledge, good or bad—clamoring for their indiscriminate slaughter.
After the arrest of the royal family and the massacre of the Swiss Guards on the 10th of August, he fearlessly emerged from his lair, and marched through the streets with a crown of laurel upon his head and a drawn sabre in his hand, amidst the acclamations of the mob. But again and again he sought those lairs at the first shadow of danger. In the damp and darkness of his subterraneous abodes he had contracted the seeds of a hideous leprous-like disease. When he again appeared upon the upper earth he was scarcely recognizable, so frightful had he become!
A small chamber in the rue St. Honore was his future abode. His companion was a young and beautiful woman, the wife of his printer, who had abandoned all for this monster, whom she adored as the benefactor of the human race! Here, except when absent at Convention or the Jacobins, he was always to be found. On a table within his reach was a pair of loaded pistols—he lived in constant dread of assassination—around him piles of newspapers and pamphlets, letters, lists of proscriptions, and all the litter of an editor's office, and, of all things in the world, a Bible usually lay open before him! Yes, this man professed religion! He never spoke the name of Jesus Christ without reverentially bowing his head. "The Revolution is in the Gospel," he used to say. "Nowhere is the cause of the people more energetically pleaded, or more maledictions heaped upon the heads of the rich and powerful of this world!" In these things, to him, as to the Puritans and Covenanters of old, lay the charm of the Gospel.* Incredible as it may read, •this man had a certain superstitious belief that his fury was the result of supernatural promptings—that he was an instrument in the hands of God!
Barbaroux, whose instructor he had once been in some branch of philosophy, visited him soon after the arrival of the Marseillaise in Paris. He afterwards reported to one of his colleagues
* Strange, that the two most ruthless heroes of the Revolution, Marat and Robespierre, alone professed tenderness for human life in the abstract, and reverence for religion. Both wrote books to condemn capital punishment; both wrote books to prove the immortality of the soul.
the conversation that passed between them.
"Give me," cried Marat, "two hundred Neapolitans, armed with daggers, and I will raise the reVolution through France. Anarchy cannot cease until two hundred thousand heads have fallen. . . . Let all the moderatists, constitutionalists, and partisans of the foreigner be collected in the streets, and then slaughtered.
"But good patriots might fall in such an indiscriminative massacre," urged Barbaroux.
"What if ten such fall in every hundred? Ninety traitors will have been destroyed. But cut down all those who possess carriages and servants and wear fine clothes, and you cannot be far wrong. The dagger is the only weapon suitable to the free man; with that he can destroy his enemy at the corner of a street or in the midst of an army."
The king, the queen, the court, were overthrown; the rich were falling beneath the guillotine or flying from Paris, and yet the people still cried for bread. The misery increased daily. Gold and silver almost disappeared; paper money called "assignats" took their places, with the usual results that attend an artificial currency—continued depreciation of value. Artisans who lived by the luxurious wants of the rich could get no employment No person would invest capital, the fields were ill cultivated, no new buildings were erected, trade was utterly prostrated, and provisions rose enormously in price. Now the aristocrats had grown scarce, L Ami du Peuple fulminated its thunders against the bourgeoisie. "Pillage the shops I hang the shop-keepers at their doors!" was its cry.
In vain did the moderate party endeavor to silence these appeals to assassins; Marat had become the idol of the mob, the most powerful man of the Revolution. Boldly, to their faces, he demanded the heads of the Plaine and the Gironde. Appalled by his audacity, in sheer desperation, the members voted, by a large majority, that he should be cited before the Revolutionary Tribunal. The movement served only to secure him a further triumph. Crowds of the vilest offscourings of Paris filled the streets, shouting " Vive rami du peuple I A bas les modiris /" The assassins of September surrounded the building, pressed round the entrance, upon the stairs, into the assembly, brandishing their knives and howling down his accusers. In this free republican court of justice but one side must be heard— the popular one.
The accusers tremble for their lives, and—honorably acquit him of all charges! His friends raise him upon their shoulders, crown him with garlands of oak, form a procession, and with howls of rejoicing bear him through the streets. The citizens, terror-stricken, close their shops and shut themselves up in their houses. To proclaim their contempt for constituted authority, the mob carry him to the Convention and place him in the tribune; all the Girondists rise and leave the hall, to express their disapprobation of the proceedings. After uttering an inflammatory speech he is borne to the Jacobins. His reception is tremendous, they rise en masse, cheering until the gloomy walls reecho their voices; they fawn and flatter and bow down in worship before their filthy Moloch. The streets of Paris are illuminated—anarchy goes mad with joy.
From that day none dared dispute with him in the Convention; to oppose his decrees, though ever so mildly, was to evoke the wrath and threats of death from his bravoes. Whrnever he appeared, even Danton and Robespierre ceded the tribune to him. He spoke out with a hardihood that not even the latter dared to imitate. He was the only man who dared propose a dictatorship.* When the Commune murmured, and threatened him with arrest as a traitor to the Republic, he drew a dagger and threatened to plunge it into his own heart if a finger were laid upon him. The mob uttered a fierce shout, and pressed forward to support its idol. The Commune shrank back dismayed.
But day by day his terrible disease grew upon him, constantly inflamed by the tumults of his life; the mob-idol was passing away, his very hours were numbered. A bath afforded the only assuagement to his torture, and in that he passed the greater portion of both day and night. But as death came nearer his thirst for blood grew more insatiable; he dreaded its approach only because it would snatch
* Marat from the first persistently advocated the election of a dictator; to this he was secretly urged by Danton and Robespierre, both of whom desired to grasp it.
from him the power of immolating more victims. Lying in a bath, with a book, supported on a plank, open before him, he unceasingly inscribed fresh names for the guillotine. He had already marked down two thousand five hundred of Lyons, three thousand of Marseilles, twenty-eight thousand of Paris, and three hundred thousand of Brittany and Calvados, when the vengeance of God closed his horrible career.
Let us turn aside for a time from the foul details of this monstrous life—from the scent of blood, which fills our nostrils and oppresses like a nightmare—to the contemplation of one of the fairest, most beautiful and touching images that history has bequeathed us.
Of the many admirable episodes that Lamartine has given us in his " History of the Girondists," not one perhaps is so exquisite as that which tells the story of Charlotte Corday. It seems almost presumptuous to touch the subject after him.
Charlotte Corday was by descent doubly noble; her lineage was aristocratic, and she was the grand-daughter of Pierre Corneille, the great dramatist. But, like many scions of the old French nobility, her father was a poor man—a petty farmer, tilling his own ground, living by the daily labor of his hands. He was at the same time a man of parts, an adorer of liberty, an enthusiastic admirer of the new ideas. Her childhood differed little from that of a Norman peasant girl; her garb was the same; and at haymaking and harvest time she helped in the field-work. I -ater in life an old maiden lady, a relation, adopted her. Henceforth her life was more worthy of her birth. Here is Lamartine's description of her new home:
"Off an old-fashioned secluded street in Caen stood an ancient habitation, with grey walls, weather-stained, and dilapidated by time. It was called Le Grand Manoir. A fountain covered with moss stood in an angle of the courtyard. A narrow, low doorway, with fluted lintels uniting in an arch over the top, showed the worn steps of a winding staircase which led to the upper story. Two windows, with octagonal panes of glass framed in leadwork dimly lit the staircase and the empty chambers. The misty daylight in this antique obscure abode impressed on it the character of vagueness, mystery, and melancholy, which the human fancy delights to see folded like a shroud over the cradle of deep thoughts and the homes of strongly imaginative minds."
Here, in this dreamy solitude, in the deep shadows of the old courtyard, sat Charlotte in the summer days, dreaming over the pages of Plutarch or Rousseau; no sound of rude actual life to jar upon her meditations; only the rustle of the leaves, and the flowers shaking their perfume into the sunlit air, or the sweet songs of the birds and the sleepy monotonous music of the old fountain. Her soul was filled with the spirit of the antique world, as her features were moulded in the finest form of Greek beauty—the oval face, the delicately-chiselled nose, the ripe lips. "Her hair," writes Lamartine, "seemed black when fastened in masses around her head, but golden at the points of the tresses, like ears of ripe corn; her eyes of a color variable as the wave of the ocean, which borrows its tint from the shadow or the sunbeam—blue when she reflected, almost black when called into animated play."
Out of the books of Greece and Rome she had created for her contemplation a beautiful Utopia, in which there should be no more oppression, no more kings and princes, no more cruel distinctions of rank, no more poverty, no more suffering; but in which there should be an universal brotherhood between all men—all happy and equal in the sight of God and man. Alas! how many noble souls have wasted in such visions! In the first tidings of the Revolution that burst upon her quiet home she beheld the realization of her romance.
Formed by nature for love, her poverty, dependent position, and modest pride closed her heart against such thoughts; and those noble virtues and that exquisite tenderness of soul that would have made of man's home a paradise were wholly concentrated upon a pure unselfish adoration of liberty and her country. It was to the Girondists that she gave all her sympathies, for in them she beheld the teflection of those ancient republican virtues at whose shrine she worshipped.
But soon dark and terrible images begin to break in upon her fair visions. Over the length and breadth of France roll the echoes of the September massacres; like the nuitterings of a distant tempest come the shrieks of the slaughtered, and ath
wart the bright horizon, that was but now illumined by the glorious sun of liberty, gather the bloody clouds from Paris. Mingled with those echoes comes the name of Marat as the demon who has let loose the storm—the arch-murderer. All other actors in the terrible drama (so say the echoes) are but subordinates to this evil star. The Girondists are fugitives; Madame Roland is in prison; day by day the influence of anarchists and murderers grows stronger.
A terrible blow is this news to Charlotte. Is the tyranny of kingcraft to be superseded only by a tyranny yet more cruel and revolting? Is there no way to save the republic of her dreams, that day by day is vanishing in a mist of blood? Sitting in the shadow of the dark grey walls, with the moss-grown fountain whispering the story of some Norman Arethusa in her ears, Plutarch lying open upon her knees, with dejected face and saddened eyes, thus ponders the beautiful enthusiast. In that grand old book, from which so many heroes of the Revolution drew their inspiration, she is seeking the answer to her questions. Again and again she reads the immortal stories of self-sacrifice that tell how often the immolation of one man saved a country; how one opposed himself single-handed to an army; how one plunged into a gulf; how another died upon the field of battle, and another smote the tyrant with his dagger.
Brooding thus by day and dreaming thus by night, her mind grows pregnant, and out of the chaos of her thoughts rises a shadowy idea; undefined, unacknowledged for a time, but hourly perfecting its form and growing in strength, until it masters its creator and bends her to its will. Beneath its power she grows pale and ill; her friends grow alarmed, and question her; but she evades their solicitude and prepares herself by secret meditation for her terrible self-imposed task.
War has been declared, and the youth of France flock eagerly to the frontiers. From Caen go forth six thousand volunteers; among them is one whose whole soul is devoted to Charlotte; she has given him her portrait; did she allow her heart free play she would give him that, but her pride will not permit her to become a portionless wife, and so she stifles the feeling. From one of the windows of Le Grand Manoir she sees him march down