The strain between the Girondists, with their parliamentary majority, and the populace of Paris, who were behind the Radicals, or Jacobins, increased, until, towards the end of May, the mob rose to march on the parliament. The alarm-bells rang, and the drums beat to arms in all the quarters of Paris.
The Girondists, at the sound of the tocsin and the drums, met for the last time, not to deliberate, but to prepare and fortify themselves against their death. They supped in an isolated mansion in the Rue de Clichy, amidst the tolling of bells, the sound of the drums, and the rattling of the guns and tumbrils. All could have escaped; none would fly. Petion, so feeble in the face of popularity, was intrepid when he faced death; Gensonne, accustomed to the sight of war; Buzot, whose heart beat with the heroic impressions of his unfortunate friend, Madame Roland, wished them to await their death in their places in the Convention, and there invoke the vengeance of the departments.
Some hours later the armed mob, Henriot, their general, at their head, appeared before the parliament. The gates were opened at the sight of the president, Herault de Sechelles, wearing the tricoloured scarf. The sentinels presented arms, the crowd gave free passage to the representatives. They advanced towards the Carrousel. The multitude which were on this space saluted the deputies. Cries of “Vive la Convention! Deliver up the twenty-two! Down with the Girondists!” mingled sedition with respect.
The Convention, unmoved by these shouts, marched in procession towards the cannon by which Henriot, the commandant-general, in the midst of his staff, seemed to await them. Herault de Sechelles ordered Henriot to withdraw this formidable array, and to grant a free passage to the national representations. Henriot, who felt in himself the omnipotence of armed insurrection, caused his horse to prance, while receding some paces, and then said in an imperative tone to the Convention, “You will not leave this spot until you have delivered up the twenty-two!”
“Seize this rebel!” said Herault de Sechelles, pointing with his finger to Henriot. The soldiers remained immovable.
“Gunners, to your pieces! Soldiers, to arms!” cried Henriot to the troops. At these words, repeated by the officers along the line, a motion of concentration around the guns took place. The Convention retrograded.
Barbaroux, Lanjuinais, Vergniaud, Mollevault, and Gardien remained, vainly expecting the armed men who were to secure their persons, but not seeing them arrive, they retired to their own homes.
There followed the rising of certain parts of the country in favour of the Girondins and against Paris. It failed. The Girondins were prisoners, and after this failure of the insurrection the revolutionary government proceeded to their trial. When their trial was decided on, this captivity became more strict. They were imprisoned for a few days in the Carmelite convent in the Rue de Vaugeraud, a monastery converted into a prison, and rendered sinister by the bloody traces of the massacres of September.