Queen Hortense eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Queen Hortense.

Madame Tallien, the all-powerful wife of one of the five directors who now swayed the destinies of France; Madame Recamier, the friend of all the eminent and distinguished men of that period; and Madame de Stael, the daughter of Necker, and the wife of the ambassador of Sweden, whose government had recognized the republic—­these three ladies gave to Paris its drawing-rooms, its reunions, its fetes, its fashions, and its luxury.  All Paris had assumed a new form, and, although the Church had not yet again obtained official recognition, the belief in a Supreme Being was already re-established.  Robespierre had already been bold enough to cause the inscription, “There is a Supreme Being,” to be placed over the altars of the churches that had been converted into “Temples of Reason.”  Yes, there is a Supreme Being; and Robespierre, who had first acknowledged its existence, was soon to experience in himself that such was the case.  Betrayed by his own associates, and charged by them with desiring to make himself dictator, and place himself at the head of the new Roman-French Republic as a new Caesar, Robespierre fell a prey to the Tribunal of Terror which he himself had called into existence.  While engaged in the Hotel de Ville in signing death-sentences which were to furnish fresh victims to the guillotine, he was arrested by the Jacobins and National Guards, who had stormed the gates and penetrated into the building, and the attempt to blow out his brains with his pistol miscarried.  Bleeding, his jaw shattered by the bullet, he was dragged before Fouquier-Tainville to receive his sentence, and to be conducted thence to the scaffold.  In order that the proceeding should be attended with all formalities, he was, however, first conducted to the Tuileries, where the Committee of Public Safety was then sitting in the chamber of Queen Marie Antoinette.  Into the bedchamber of the queen whom Robespierre had brought to the scaffold, the bleeding, half-lifeless dictator was now dragged.  Like a bundle of rags he was contemptuously thrown on the large table that stood in the middle of the room.  But yesterday Robespierre had been enthroned at this table as almighty ruler over the lives and possessions of all Frenchmen; but yesterday he had here issued his decrees and signed the death-sentences, that lay on the table, unexecuted.  These papers were now the only salve the ghastly, groaning man could apply to the wound in his face, from which blood poured in streams.  The death-sentences signed by himself now drank his own blood, and he had nothing but a rag of a tricolor, thrown him by a compassionate sans-culotte, with which to bind up the great, gaping wound on his head.  As he sat there in the midst of the blood-saturated papers, bleeding, groaning, and complaining, an old National Guard, with outstretched arms, pointing to this ghastly object, cried:  “Yes, Robespierre was right.  There is a Supreme Being!”

This period of blood and terror was now over; Robespierre was dead; Theroigne de Mericourt was no longer the Goddess of Reason, and Mademoiselle Maillard no longer Goddess of Liberty and Virtue.  Women had given up representing divinities, and desired to be themselves again, and to rebuild in the drawing-rooms of the capital, by means of their intellect and grace, the throne which had gone down in the revolution.

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Queen Hortense from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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