And Menadic Hunger, impressible, crying “Black Cockades,” crying “Bread, Bread,” adds, after such fashion: “Will it not?—Yes, Messieurs, if a Deputation to his Majesty, for the ‘Acceptance pure and simple,’ seemed proper,—how much more now, for ‘the afflicting situation of Paris;’ for the calming of this effervescence!” President Mounier, with a speedy Deputation, among whom we notice the respectable figure of Doctor Guillotin, gets himself forthwith on march. Vice-President shall continue the order of the day; Usher Maillard shall stay by him to repress the women. It is four o’clock, of the miserablest afternoon, when Mounier steps out.
O experienced Mounier, what an afternoon; the last of thy political existence! Better had it been to ‘fall suddenly unwell,’ while it was yet time. For, behold, the Esplanade, over all its spacious expanse, is covered with groups of squalid dripping Women; of lankhaired male Rascality, armed with axes, rusty pikes, old muskets, ironshod clubs (baton ferres, which end in knives or sword-blades, a kind of extempore billhook);—looking nothing but hungry revolt. The rain pours: Gardes-du-Corps go caracoling through the groups ‘amid hisses;’ irritating and agitating what is but dispersed here to reunite there.
Innumerable squalid women beleaguer the President and Deputation; insist on going with him: has not his Majesty himself, looking from the window, sent out to ask, What we wanted? “Bread and speech with the King (Du pain, et parler au Roi),” that was the answer. Twelve women are clamorously added to the Deputation; and march with it, across the Esplanade; through dissipated groups, caracoling Bodyguards, and the pouring rain.
President Mounier, unexpectedly augmented by Twelve Women, copiously escorted by Hunger and Rascality, is himself mistaken for a group: himself and his Women are dispersed by caracolers; rally again with difficulty, among the mud. (Mounier, Expose Justificatif (cited in Deux Amis, iii. 185).) Finally the Grates are opened: the Deputation gets access, with the Twelve Women too in it; of which latter, Five shall even see the face of his Majesty. Let wet Menadism, in the best spirits it can expect their return.
But already Pallas Athene (in the shape of Demoiselle Theroigne) is busy with Flandre and the dismounted Dragoons. She, and such women as are fittest, go through the ranks; speak with an earnest jocosity; clasp rough troopers to their patriot bosom, crush down spontoons and musketoons with soft arms: can a man, that were worthy of the name of man, attack famishing patriot women?
One reads that Theroigne had bags of money, which she distributed over Flandre:—furnished by whom? Alas, with money-bags one seldom sits on insurrectionary cannon. Calumnious Royalism! Theroigne had only the limited earnings of her profession of unfortunate-female; money she had not, but brown locks, the figure of a heathen Goddess, and an eloquent tongue and heart.