Such things have been; and may again be. Charles Second sent out his Highland Host over the Western Scotch Whigs; Jamaica Planters got Dogs from the Spanish Main to hunt their Maroons with: France too is bescoured with a Devil’s Pack, the baying of which, at this distance of half a century, still sounds in the mind’s ear.
Like a Thunder-Cloud.
But the grand, and indeed substantially primary and generic aspect of the Consummation of Terror remains still to be looked at; nay blinkard History has for most part all but overlooked this aspect, the soul of the whole: that which makes it terrible to the Enemies of France. Let Despotism and Cimmerian Coalitions consider. All French men and French things are in a State of Requisition; Fourteen Armies are got on foot; Patriotism, with all that it has of faculty in heart or in head, in soul or body or breeches-pocket, is rushing to the frontiers, to prevail or die! Busy sits Carnot, in Salut Public; busy for his share, in ‘organising victory.’ Not swifter pulses that Guillotine, in dread systole-diastole in the Place de la Revolution, than smites the Sword of Patriotism, smiting Cimmeria back to its own borders, from the sacred soil.
In fact the Government is what we can call Revolutionary; and some men are ‘a la hauteur,’ on a level with the circumstances; and others are not a la hauteur,—so much the worse for them. But the Anarchy, we may say, has organised itself: Society is literally overset; its old forces working with mad activity, but in the inverse order; destructive and self-destructive.
Curious to see how all still refers itself to some head and fountain; not even an Anarchy but must have a centre to revolve round. It is now some six months since the Committee of Salut Public came into existence: some three months since Danton proposed that all power should be given it and ‘a sum of fifty millions,’ and the ’Government be declared Revolutionary.’ He himself, since that day, would take no hand in it, though again and again solicited; but sits private in his place on the Mountain. Since that day, the Nine, or if they should even rise to Twelve have become permanent, always re-elected when their term runs out; Salut Public, Surete Generale have assumed their ulterior form and mode of operating.