Stretching of Formulas.
But how this Question of the Trial grew laboriously, through the weeks of gestation, now that it has been articulated or conceived, were superfluous to trace here. It emerged and submerged among the infinite of questions and embroilments. The Veto of Scoundrels writes plaintive Letters as to Anarchy; ‘concealed Royalists,’ aided by Hunger, produce Riots about Grain. Alas, it is but a week ago, these Girondins made a new fierce onslaught on the September Massacres!
For, one day, among the last of October, Robespierre, being summoned to the tribune by some new hint of that old calumny of the Dictatorship, was speaking and pleading there, with more and more comfort to himself; till, rising high in heart, he cried out valiantly: Is there any man here that dare specifically accuse me? “Moi!” exclaimed one. Pause of deep silence: a lean angry little Figure, with broad bald brow, strode swiftly towards the tribune, taking papers from its pocket: “I accuse thee, Robespierre,”—I, Jean Baptiste Louvet! The Seagreen became tallow-green; shrinking to a corner of the tribune: Danton cried, “Speak, Robespierre, there are many good citizens that listen;” but the tongue refused its office. And so Louvet, with a shrill tone, read and recited crime after crime: dictatorial temper, exclusive popularity, bullying at elections, mob-retinue, September Massacres;—till all the Convention shrieked again, and had almost indicted the Incorruptible there on the spot. Never did the Incorruptible run such a risk. Louvet, to his dying day, will regret that the Gironde did not take a bolder attitude, and extinguish him there and then.
Not so, however: the Incorruptible, about to be indicted in this sudden manner, could not be refused a week of delay. That week, he is not idle; nor is the Mother Society idle,—fierce-tremulous for her chosen son. He is ready at the day with his written Speech; smooth as a Jesuit Doctor’s; and convinces some. And now? Why, now lazy Vergniaud does not rise with Demosthenic thunder; poor Louvet, unprepared, can do little or nothing: Barrere proposes that these comparatively despicable ‘personalities’ be dismissed by order of the day! Order of the day it accordingly is. Barbaroux cannot even get a hearing; not though he rush down to the Bar, and demand to be heard there as a petitioner. (Louvet, Memoires (Paris, 1823) p. 52; Moniteur (Seances du 29 Octobre, 5 Novembre, 1792); Moore (ii. 178), &c.) The convention, eager for public business (with that first articulate emergence of the Trial just coming on), dismisses these comparative miseres and despicabilities: splenetic Louvet must digest his spleen, regretfully for ever: Robespierre, dear to Patriotism, is dearer for the dangers he has run.