In which circumstances, before the redhot balls begin raining, may not the Hundred-and-twenty Paris Electors, though their Cahier is long since finished, see good to meet again daily, as an ‘Electoral Club’? They meet first ’in a Tavern;’—where ‘the largest wedding-party’ cheerfully give place to them. (Dusaulx, Prise de la Bastille (Collection des Memoires, par Berville et Barriere, Paris, 1821), p. 269.) But latterly they meet in the Hotel-de-Ville, in the Townhall itself. Flesselles, Provost of Merchants, with his Four Echevins (Scabins, Assessors), could not prevent it; such was the force of public opinion. He, with his Echevins, and the Six-and-Twenty Town-Councillors, all appointed from Above, may well sit silent there, in their long gowns; and consider, with awed eye, what prelude this is of convulsion coming from Below, and how themselves shall fare in that!
So hangs it, dubious, fateful, in the sultry days of July. It is the passionate printed advice of M. Marat, to abstain, of all things, from violence. (Avis au Peuple, ou les Ministres devoiles, 1st July, 1789 in Histoire Parlementaire, ii. 37.) Nevertheless the hungry poor are already burning Town Barriers, where Tribute on eatables is levied; getting clamorous for food.
The twelfth July morning is Sunday; the streets are all placarded with an enormous-sized De par le Roi, ’inviting peaceable citizens to remain within doors,’ to feel no alarm, to gather in no crowd. Why so? What mean these ‘placards of enormous size’? Above all, what means this clatter of military; dragoons, hussars, rattling in from all points of the compass towards the Place Louis Quinze; with a staid gravity of face, though saluted with mere nicknames, hootings and even missiles? (Besenval, iii. 411.) Besenval is with them. Swiss Guards of his are already in the Champs Elysees, with four pieces of artillery.
Have the destroyers descended on us, then? From the Bridge of Sevres to utmost Vincennes, from Saint-Denis to the Champ-de-Mars, we are begirt! Alarm, of the vague unknown, is in every heart. The Palais Royal has become a place of awestruck interjections, silent shakings of the head: one can fancy with what dolorous sound the noon-tide cannon (which the Sun fires at the crossing of his meridian) went off there; bodeful, like an inarticulate voice of doom. (Histoire Parlementaire, ii. 81.) Are these troops verily come out ‘against Brigands’? Where are the Brigands? What mystery is in the wind?—Hark! a human voice reporting articulately the Job’s-news: Necker, People’s Minister, Saviour of France, is dismissed. Impossible; incredible! Treasonous to the public peace! Such a voice ought to be choked in the water-works; (Ibid.)—had not the news-bringer quickly fled. Nevertheless, friends, make of it what you will, the news is true. Necker is gone. Necker hies northward incessantly, in obedient secrecy, since yesternight. We have a new Ministry: Broglie the War-god; Aristocrat Breteuil; Foulon who said the people might eat grass!