|British Newspaper Coverage of the French
Execution of Louis XVI
January 25, 1793
[ . . . ] Every bosom burns with indignation in this kingdom, against the ferocious savages of Paris, insomuch that the very name of Frenchman is become odious. A Republic founded on the blood of an innocent victim must have but a short duration. This fact was tried by Oliver Cromwell and proved by the Restoration of CHARLES THE SECOND.
Shutting the Theatre in the Haymarket yesterday evening, on account of the barbarous murder of the late KING of FRANCE by a set of Conventional Butchers, does the highest honour to Mr. KEMBLE. It was a mark of respect to the memory of the unhappy LOUIS, with which the whole British nation must be pleased. It must likewise be considered as a proof of the great deference Mr. Kemble pays to the opinion the KING had plainly expressed, by not going to the Theatre the preceding evening.
LOUIS XVI of France, was murdered for the same crime, for which Agis, the Macedonian, was put to death by his ignorant rebel subjects; in fine, for wishing to revive the reign of Liberty and Justice, among a People, incapable of knowing the intrinsic value or [---] of either.
The REPUBLICAN TYRANTS OF FRANCE have now carried their bloody purposes to the uttermost diabolical stretch of savage cruelty. They have murdered their King without even the shadow of justice, and of course they cannot expect friendship nor intercourse with any civilized part of the world. The vengeance of Europe will now rapidly fall on them; and, in process of time, make them the veriest wretches on the face of the earth. The name of Frenchman will be considered as the appellation of savage, and their presence shunned as a poison, deadly destructive to the peace and happiness of Mankind. It appears evident, that the majority of the National Convention, and the Executive Government of that truly despotic country, are comprised of the most execrable villains upon the face of the earth. .
By an express which arrived yesterday morning from Messrs. Fector and Co. at Dover, we learn the following particulars of the King's execution:
At six o'clock on Monday morning, the KING went to take a farewell of the QUEEN and ROYAL FAMILY. After staying with them some time, and taking a very affectionate farewell of them, the KING descended from the tower of the Temple, and entered the Mayor's carriage, with his confessor and two Members of the Municipality, and passed slowly along the Boulevards which led from the Temple to the place of execution. All women were prohibited from appearing in the streets, and all persons from being seen at their windows. A strong guard cleared the procession.
The greatest tranquillity prevailed in every street through which the procession passed. About half past nine, the King arrived at the place of execution, which was in the Place de Louis XV. between the pedestal which formerly supported the statue of his grandfather, and the promenade of the Elysian Fields. LOUIS mounted the scaffold with composure, and that modest intrepidity peculiar to oppressed innocence, the trumpets sounding and drums beating during the whole time. He made a sign of wishing to harangue the multitude, when the drums ceased, and Louis spoke these few words. I die innocent; I pardon my enemies; I only sanctioned upon compulsion the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. He was proceeding, but the beating of the drums drowned his voice. His executioners then laid hold of him, and an instant after, his head was separated from his body; this was about a quarter past ten o'clock.
After the execution, the people threw their hats up in the air, and cried out Vive la Nation! Some of them endeavoured to seize the body, but it was removed by a strong guard to the Temple, and the lifeless remains of the King were exempted from those outrages which his Majesty had experienced during his life.
The King was attended on the scaffold by an Irish Priest as his Confessor, not choosing to be accompanied by one who had taken the National oath. He was dressed in a brown great coat, white waistcoat and black breeches, and his hair was powdered.
When M. de Malsherbes announced to LOUIS, the fatal sentence of Death, "Ah!" exclaimed the Monarch, "I shall then at length be delivered from this cruel suspense."
The decree was imported that LOUIS should be beheaded in the Place de Carousel, but reasons of public safety induced the Executive Council to prefer the Place to la Revolution, formerly the Place de Louis XV.
Since the decree of death was issued, a general consternation has prevailed throughout Paris;the Sans Culottes are the only persons that rejoice.The honest citizens, immured within their habitations, could not suppress their heart-felt grief, and mourned in private with their families the murder of their much-loved Sovereign.
The last requests of the unfortunate LOUIS breathes the soul of magnanimity, and a mind enlightened with the finest ideas of human virtue. He appears not to be that man which his enemies reported. His heart was soundhis head was clearand he would have reigned with glory, had he but possessed those faults which his assassins laid to his charge. His mind possessed the suggestions of wisdom; and even in his last moments, when the spirit of life was winged for another world, his lips gave utterance to them, and he spoke with firmness and with resignation.
Thus has ended the life of LOUIS XVI. [ . . . ]
|Alan Liu, English Dept., U. California, Santa Barbara (transcribed 2/17/00)|