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hom all meat should be set of every decution of entered into
nity they had so long wished for, of wreaking their vengeance. Robespierre accused many of his colleagues in the committee of Défense générale, of having, some wilfully and some unwillingly, participated in the conspiracy of Dumouriez. It was principally against the Girondins that this attack was directed : but, fearing that the proposal of their exclusion from the committee would not be successful, and would be considered as the effect of personal hatred, which would deprive him of the support of many impartial men, he thought it preferable to impugn the organization of the committee, the too great number of its members, the publicity and irregularity of its deliberations, and finally the want of executive power. To remedy these real inconveniences, in the alarming state of the country, he proposed the substitution of another committee, which should be renewed every month, composed of only nine members, to whom all matters whatsoever should be referred; the delibera. tions of which should be secret, and which should have a right to enjoin upon the ministers of every department, and upon all civil and military authorities, the execution of any measure considered necessary for the public safety. Barère entered into the views of Robespierre, and supported the establishment of the committee of Salut public,' which was decreed on the 5th of April, 1793. The choice of the convention fell upon Barère, Dalmas, Bréard, Cambon, Jean Debry, Danton, Guiton-Morreau, Threillard, and Lacroix; and, in case one or more were incapacitated from attending, for any cause, they were to be replaced by the following substitutes : Réveillère - Lépaux, Lasource, Isnard, Lindet, Thuriot, Dubois Crancé, Fonfrède, Merlin, and Cambacères. This last measure, however, was immediately rescinded, because the appointment of substitutes was not authorized by the decree which established the committee.
Some may deem these details unnecessary, and may say that they are not to be found in the memoirs we are examining. Though Barère and his editors have thought proper to overlook many circumstances, this is not a reason for us to follow their example, when, even as mere reviewers, we meet with facts which appear to us of some importance, as in the present instance. If, at the mere sound of these words, 'Comité de salut public,' every one shudders, and utters an imprecation upon all who formed part of it, why should we not try to establish a distinction which justice claims, and which may lead impartial judges to a better appreciation of the men and the political events of those dreadful times? We give the names composing this first committee, because to them nobody can attach the reproach of undue severity, of sanguinary destruction. So long as the members we have mentioned compose the committee, far from showing any exasperation, they resisted the popular irritation, and even the more formidable commands of Robespierre and of the Montagne. Five days after their appointment on the 10th of April, Robespierre renewed, in concluding one of his speeches, the demand for the trial of Marie Antoinette, and the committee refused to support him, and to act upon his motion. But there is a much stronger case in their favour. The wife and the two sisters of General Dumouriez, the Countess of Schomberg and the Abbesse of Fervacques, had been arrested and hurried to Paris, just when popular indignation against the general was at its highest pitch, and when three hundred thousand francs had been promised, by the convention, to any one who would bring his head; and vet the wife and the sisters of Dumouriez were at once protected, and afterwards saved.
To this committee, therefore, which was re-elected in May and June, the praise of humanity is due. It is just, also, to declare that, during that interval of time, the ‘Girondins,' were heroically struggling against the well known designs of the
Montagne,' headed by Robespierre and the Commune of Paris, and that their resistance to legislative and popular vengeance greatly assisted the committee: but when the Girondins succumbed, when Robespierre had obtained the ascendancy in the assembly, the committee was still so refractory that it was found necessary to recompose it. This was done on the 10th of July, 1793, and the new members elected were : Jean bon S’André, Barère, Gasparin, Couthon, Thuriot, St.Just, Prieur de la Marne, Hérault de Séchelles, and Robert Lindet. Gasparin having resigued soon afterwards, Robespierre had himself appointed in his place, and, one month later, two members, Carnot and Prieur de la Cote d'or, were added to the committee, which had hitherto been composed of civilians, to superintend the military affairs. Such was the composition of the second-of the pitiless committee of Salut public. Barère was the only member of this one who had belonged to the first; and this circumstance is, by many, considered as a proof that he was in opposition to the moderation of his former colleagues, and, in the opinion of the convention, a fit associate of the new ones. Let us not be unjust even towards Barère. We have ascertained that, in the first committee, not only did Barère constantly coincide with the moderate and merciful views of the majority of his colleagues, but that, on many occasions he outstepped them all in indulgence and commiseration towards the conquered party. His re-election was owing to a deplorable aptitude which he had exhibited, even during the constituent assembly, for resuming a discussion, omitting no important point, for seizing the principal of them, and clearly arranging the whole, so as to justify the conclusion arrived at. This, he was at all times ready to do; and as few had an equal facility for this kind of legislative work, he was usually chosen as reporter, by whatever committee he was appointed to, after his first appearance, in the States General of 1789. To this fatal talent and indefatigable activity he owed his reappointment, and the choice made of him, by his colleagues, as Rapporteur du Comité de Salut Public. Our justification of him can go no farther; and we sincerely lament it. It would be a source of gratification to us, to be able to urge, as valid, on our readers, all the explanations which he gave us of his conduct in the second committee, and all the arguments which he urged upon us, when, pressing our hands in his, and with tears in his eyes, he was imploringly saying, ‘Jevoudrais vous convaincre.” We must admit that the circumstances under which the second committee was appointed and set to act, were much more critical thafī‘ those which led to its establishment and composition. It is true that civil war had been added to foreign invasion. It is true that thirty-two departments of France had successively revolted against the authority of the convention: some in support of the cause of their Girondist representatives, who were the neither imprisoned, previous to a mock trial, and beheaded, or fugitives from the fury of their persecutors; some in behalf of the monarchy and of its legitimate representatives. It is true that the divisions,theconvulsions from within, vastly increased the already alarming dangers from without—that the plan for the federalization of France, however advantageous to the country, could not, at that time, but assist the European coalition in carrying out their own plan for the partition of France; and that, therefore, this was not a time for moderation, indulgence, and conciliation. It is true, in fine, that the second committee of public safety mastered all the adverse elements, and eventually triumphed over their internal and external enemies; and that it preserved France from the greatest perils that a country was ever exposed to. But all this has no weight upon our mind, when urged as an excuse for the means employed to obtain even such a result; for the divisions, the convulsions of the interior, the appalling dangers which were conquered, had been prepared, promoted, and carried to their pitch, by the atrocious party of the convention, which established the second committee, and by that committee itself. The events of the 31st of May, the violation of the national representation, by the proscription of the Gironde, were the signal for civil dissensions, and for a struggle in support of the electoral and representative inviolability; and besides that, in favour of men whose genius, eloquence, virtue, and patriotism had long been pre-eminent. The execution of the principal of these men—the wanderings and miseries to which the fugitives were subjected—the persecutions against their relatives, their friends, and their constituents: such were the causes of the civil war which raged so long in the south, and in the west of France, whilst the armies of all the sovereigns of Europe were invading her frontiers. Whatever may be the opinion of modern liberals, we hold and we proclaim that the crimes which brought forth these unparalleled convulsions, and the crimes by which their subduing was purchased, can never be obliterated by the success with which they were attended. Let not their authors exclaim: ‘Nous avons sauve la Patrie.” The incendiaries who set one house on fire, and afterwards pull down two others, on each side of the first, so as to intercept the communication of the devouring element, might as well maintain that they are the preservers of a town. Barère himself, not only admits the atrocious character of the measures adopted by the committee of public safety, but also agrees with us in our opinion upon their first causes, and upon their ultimate consequences, in many of the unconnected and frequently contradictory notes entitled Memoirs. He admits that he had a share in their adoption, in their enforcement, which share, he indefatigably labours to reduce to the minimum. He contends that he never originated any of those cruel measures; that he opposed most of them; but that, when introduced by one of the members, and adopted by the majority of the committee, he was bound, as the reporter, to abide by the decision of the majority, and to report accordingly, without alluding to the objections of the minority; without even hinting at any opposition. He gives as his reasons, for thus acting, that union and unanimity were the only elements of safety for France—that the shadow only of division, in the committee, would immediately have provoked a real division in the convention itself; and that the convention, morally and physically enfeebled, by these divisions, would not have been able to withstand the formidable assault of foreign and domestic enemies on the independence and on the liberties of France. We scorn to discuss such worthless allegations, and we are sure, all our readers are ready to join us when we protest against these notions of official duty—against this theory of the revolutionary politicians. No doubt, all honest men reject those principles, and will look on Barère with contempt, for daring to avow them, and will have a firmer conviction of his culpability, since he had no better proof to offer of his innocence. And yet, these notions, this theory, these principles, are openly avowed, professed and acted upon by the committees of
public safety of our own times; for we cannot give another name to the would-be-constitutional governments of the greatest part of Europe. Even here, in England, under any administration, Whig or Tory, this system prevails. Lord Brougham admitted that, when in the ministry, he frequently differed from his colleagues, but that, in order not to enfeeble the government of the country, by the exposure of the divisions in the cabinet, he supported measures which he could not approve. We might adduce many instances of the same kind in the march of the present administration. It is a well-known fact, that Sir Robert Peel is far from approving many of the iniquitous and violent measures of the home secretary, but, for the public safety, he must advocate the Factories Bill, the Metropolitan Buildings Bill, and the Medical Reform Bill, and even the post-office abominations : in one word any bill, and any deed, which the apostate Whig may choose to offer to his present allies, as a token of the sincerity of his conversion, and of his zeal in the cause he has at length embraced. Thus, in the intricate and anomalous thing called political science, conservatism fetches its arms from the arsenals of the Montagne, and an excuse of Ba. rère becomes a precept for Sir Robert !
A better excuse for Barère, and for the Committee of Public Safety, with regard to the accusation of having caused all the murders which were perpetrated during the reign of terror, would have been found in the acts of the Committee of Sureté Générale, from which emanated most of the orders for the commitments of suspected persons, commitments which were generally the precursors of immediate death. Yet we do not find even an allusion to it, in the writings of Barère, nor even in the biographic notice of Carnot. This omission surprises us the more as, a few days ago, looking in the Moniteur of 1794, to ascertain the accuracy of some of our statements in this article, we found Barère complaining that the Committee of Public Security arrogated to itself the exclusive privilege of setting persons at liberty. We must conclude from this fact, that Barère was jealous of exercising this privilege, and that he is entitled to some credit, when, in his own defence, he enumerates the victims saved by him, and expresses his deep regret at the failure of his efforts to save many more. H. Carnot must have been strongly imbued with the idea of Barère's merciful disposition, when towards the end of his notice, he says: 'Quelles que soient les prétentions de ceux qui reclament pour eux seuls le privilège de la moderation, il y a dans toutes les opinions, dans tous les partis, des hommes modérés et des hommes violents. Barère appartient evidemment à la première classe. On cite de lui, quelques phrases tristement célèbres : les plus condamnables lui ont été