The flight of the princesses, however, did not, as it turned out, cause any inconvenience to the king or queen, though it did endanger themselves; for, though they were furnished with passports, the municipal authorities tried to stop them at Moret; and at Arnay-le-Duc the mob unharnessed their horses and detained them by force They appealed to the Assembly by letter; Alexander Lameth, on this occasion uniting with the most violent Jacobins, was not ashamed to move that orders should be dispatched to send them back to Paris: but the body of the Assembly had not yet descended to the baseness of warring with women; and Mirabeau, who treated the proposal as ridiculous, and overwhelmed the mover with his wit, had no difficulty in procuring an order that the fugitives, “two princesses of advanced age and timorous consciences,” as he called them, should be allowed to proceed on their journey.
The Mob attacks the Castle at Vincennes.—La Fayette saves it.—He insults the Nobles who come to protect the King.—Perverseness of the Count d’Artois and the Emigrants.—Mirabeau dies.—General Sorrow for his death.—He would probably not have been able to arrest the Revolution.— The Mob prevent the King from visiting St. Cloud.—The Assembly passes a Vote to forbid him to go more than twenty Leagues from Paris.
The mob, however, was more completely under Jacobin influence; and, at the end of February, Santerre collected his ruffians for a fresh tumult; the object now being the destruction of the old castle of Vincennes, which for some time had been almost unoccupied. La Fayette, whose object at this time was apparently regulated by a desire to make all parties acknowledge his influence, in a momentary fit of resolution marched a body of his National Guard down to save the old fortress, in which he succeeded, though not without much difficulty, and even some danger. He found he had greatly miscalculated his influence, not only over the populace, but over his own soldiers. The rioters fired on him, wounding some of his staff; and at first many of the soldiers refused to act against the people. His officers, however, full of indignation, easily quelled the spirit of mutiny; and, when subordination was restored, proposed to the general to follow up his success by marching at once back into the city and seizing the Jacobin demagogues who had caused the riot. There was little doubt that the great majority of the citizens, in their fear of Santerre and his gang, would joyfully have supported him in such a measure; but La Fayette’s resolution was never very consistent nor very durable. He became terrified, not, indeed, so much at the risk to his life which he had incurred, as at the symptom that to resist the mob might cost him his popularity; and to appease those whom he might have offended, he proceeded to insult the king. A report had got abroad, which was not improbably well founded, that