|British Newspaper Coverage of the French
The September Massacres
Sept. 12, 1792
France. [page 2]
IMPRISONMENT of the KING and QUEEN, and the late MASSACRE
As those who are most likely to give a just relation of the late horrid transactions in France, dare not write;and those, who do write, make it their business to conceal the circumstances as much as possible, there is no other means of ascertaining the facts so accurately, as by those who were resident on the spot, but who have had the good fortune to escape.
The following account is given to us by a gentleman who escaped from Paris last Wednesday morning, under the disguise of an English maid-servant to Mrs. R----, who brought him over with her from motives of humanity, in the place of her maid who was assassinated the 3d Inst:
The servant of this gentleman was one of the Garde Nationale, and has been several times upon service with the ROYAL PRISONERS in the Temple of Paris. No person therefore could have a better opportunity of knowing what passed, and he gave the following description of their wretched situation to this gentleman, his master.
The KING and QUEEN are never permitted either night or day to speak together, but in the presence of one of the Municipal Officers, who when they walk, goes between them; when they eat, he sits between them; and at night they sleep in different rooms. In each of these are always four guards, who to avoid being seduced, are changed every half hour. As the new guard has orders to see themselves that the KING and QUEEN are in their beds, on entering their rooms, they always ask Monsieur Louis, Madame Antoinette, etes vous dans votre lit? They ask this question until the KING and QUEEN answer, Yes.
The DAUPHIN and the two PRINCESSES sleep in the same room, but are obliged to answer the same questions made by the four guards who watch them.
The victuals given to the KING and QUEEN is worse than that of any of their guards, and the jailors study to oblige them to eat such dishes as they knew they dislike most. They drink the same wine as their guards.
The linen ordered by the Municipality for these Royal personagesare six coarse shirts or shifts. A new national great-coat has been made for the KING; which with that he had on the day he was arrested, is all he has: but the rest of the ROYAL FAMILY have only one change of cloaths.
The National Guards smoke their pipes, and eat and drink in their prisoner's apartments, as if no one was there; and their conversation is particularly ordered to be directed to the arrest; the death of the King's friends; the reports of the defeat of the Austrians; insurrections; desertions in their armies, and other such false rumours, in order to augment the miserable situation of the ROYAL FAMILY.
The people were butchering all the Emigrants families and servants when this gentleman left Paris, and very few of the Swiss nations, or Frenchmen of the Club des Feuillants, Club Monarchique, &c. have escaped the common slaughter.
The debtors released by the mob denounced their creditors as Aristocrates; placed themselves at the head of different bands of Brigands, and whole families perished for no other crime than having lent money to people that would not pay them again; and since the 10th of August many hundreds have had themselves arrested for debt, because they knew the mob would soon release them.
In different prisons, churches, and convents, the mob amused themselves with their victims, and formed a mock Tribunal. Some idea of these infamous proceedings may be collected from the following barbarities exercised on the old Cardinal DE LA ROCHEFAUCAULD. His hands and feet were tied together; and the mob ordered him to acknowledge that during his whole life he had never believed in God, but had been a hypocrite. He made no answer. The mob then said, if you believe in God, we give him, the Virgin Mary or her bastard John, five minutes to release you; and so saying they cut him to pieces.
Other prisoners were asked what they did when they were last with their wives, mistresses, and such other indecent, vaunting expressions. Others again were asked what they thought their parents at Coblentz would say on hearing of their death, &c. Questions of this nature were particularly put to the women.
The mob ordered one of the Swiss solders to dress the hair of a young Swiss officer, a very handsome young man; and when it was done, they ordered him with a hand-saw to take off his head, and to be cautious not to spoil his headdress, saying it was too fine a head to put upon a pike, but to the best advantage. The soldier refused to obey, and was immediately cut to pieces; and two women sawed the officer's head from his body. He was not heard to make the least complaint, and it was near an hour before the head was quite off.
At the Place Dauphin, the mob had made a fire, and before it several men, women, and children were roasted alive. The countess PERIGNAN with her two daughters, the daughters first, and the mother after, were stripped of their cloaths, washed with oil, and roasted alive, while the mob were singing and dancing round the fire, and amusing themselves with their cries and sufferings. After the repeated prayers of the eldest girl, not more than 15 years old, that some one would with a sword or a pistol put an end to her horrid existence, a young man shot her through the heart, which so irritated the mob, that they immediately threw him into the fire, saying, he should suffer in her place. When the mother was roasted, the mob brought six priests to the same fire and then cutting some flesh from the body, ordered the Priests to eat it. They all of them approached the horrid scene with their eyes shut, and did not speak a word in answer. The mob directly undressed the eldest of them, a man about 60, and roasted him; saying, they perhaps might like the flesh of their friends better than that of the Countess. The other five instantly threw themselves into the fire, and were burnt to death, embracing each other; and though the mob did every thing they could to get them out of the fire, in order a little to prolong their sufferings, they could not effect it, as the fire was extremely fierce. This happened about ten o'clock on Monday night.
Several pastry cooks, particularly one by the Palais Royal, have Pies de la viande des Suissesdes Emigrantsdes Pretresmade of the flesh of the Swissthe Emigrants and the Priests. I was present when four Marseillois at the Restaurateur Bouvilliers, in the Palais Royal, sent for two of these pies, and eat them, crying outVive la Nation.
On Monday night, about ten o'clock, a Mr. PHILIP, rue du Temple, arrived at the Jacobin Club with a box. He spoke much of his great patriotism, and made a motion that every Patriot who preferred the ties of blood or nature to those of patriotism, should be looked upon as an Aristocrat, and consequently every Jacobin should denounce or sacrifice his parents or friends whose sentiments were not patriotic: and to shew that he himself had already done what he proposed to others, he opened the box and presented to them (horrid to say) the heads of his own father and mother, whom he said he never could persuade to go in the Mass of the Constitutional Clergy. (great applause) and the heads ordered to be buried under the busts of Brutus and Ankarstroem, behind the chair of the President.
When any body is assassinated, his body is directly stripped by the people, and sometimes they fight for the spoil; and then the weakest party is always killed, as being thieves. I saw four executed in this manner by nine others, with whom they refused to partake of some stolen Assignats which they found on some Priests they had assassinated. These nine were afterwards attacked by 20 other Brigands, who hanged them as thieves, and went to a wine merchant and bought wine with the money. This is one of the many examples of the probity of the French mob, so much talked of, which certainly is not greater than their humanity, and it is in this manner that the generous French Nation administer justice to thieves.
From the forgoing melancholy account of that deplorable state to which human nature is degenerated in France, one useful lesson offers itself to mankind :Revere your Lawsinstantly punish those who, under the mask of popular freedom, would destroy Constitutional Liberty; and remember, that the first step to the ruin of your own peace of mind, is a denial of that Power which gave it the activity of thinking, and of discrimination.
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|Alan Liu, English Dept., U. California, Santa Barbara (transcribed 2/17/00)|