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Particulars given by Carnot.
""Citizen director, the Republic is betrayed by Barras. I know the fact. The villain has sold us to his vices. Shall we endure this? Brutus did not hesitate to immolate his sons for the salvation of Rome. Shall we shrink from the sacrifice of a tyrant? I am resolved to rid the Republic of such a traitor. If you will only authorize me to attempt a coup d'état, he shall speedily be no more.'
"To this intemperate address, I coolly replied, that the law alone possessed the right of shedding the blood of the criminal. You, I added, render yourself criminal by this avowed wish to anticipate the law.
"The officer, whose name I did not ascertain, did not shew himself inclined to yield to my remonstrance. He alleged that Barras was in treaty with the Bourbons, that he knew the fact on the best authority, and that at least it was necessary to thwart his schemes.
"I employed every argument to convince the young man of the atrocity of the proposition he had suggested. I thought I had succeeded, and congratulated myself on my victory. The officer left me. But, in a little time afterwards, he came again. He was ushered into the drawingroom, where he wrote a note in pencil, which he requested a servant to deliver to me. I desired that he might be shewn into my closet, and as soon as he beheld me he exclaimed:
"Well, citizen, you would not believe me. Every thing is arranged, and the troops have received orders to enter the constitutional circle. Hoche is now nothing. The command is transferred to Augereau, who has orders to arrest you. But this plot may yet be defeated. Barras must die, and then the party, bereft of its leader, will disperse like smoke. Give me your sanction, and you will speedily see the scene change.'
"As he spoke, I looked at him with a feeling of pity, and, when he had ended, I said: Citizen, in the conversation which I had with you just now, I regarded you as a man whose mind was disturbed by unfounded alarm; now, however, I must consider you a maniac. The plan you propose would render me odious in the eyes of all Europe. If you have reason to believe that one or more members of the Directory are guilty of treason, accuse them openly,
face to face, and not behind their backs.
to the councils who will investigate any charges against them.
"I was still closetted with this fanatic, when my colleague, Barthélemy, was announced, and, at the same moment, one of my secretaries delivered to me a billet containing the following lines without any signature:
"Carnot, have a care of yourself. Your destruction is resolved on. When the light of day shall be succeeded by the shades of night, the work of your enemies will commence. A gun fired at one o'clock in the morning, is to be the signal for bloodshed. Assassins will enter your chamber; you will be murdered, and a new revolution will begin.'
"This note, which as you may perceive was written in a strange affected style, amazed me. Every thing seemed to come upon me at once. I desired the young officer, whose name I never learned, not to attempt anything without acquainting me, and to call on me on the morning of the 18th. He shook his head, and said in a desponding tone: To-morrow, it will be too late!' He left me. Barthélemy seated himself, and thus addressed me:
"I have just had a visit from Barras. He affirms that the minority of the Directory is contending against the majority, and that you and I are lost;-that our alliance excites displeasure. He told me, moreover, that the regard they entertain for me makes them anxious to save me, and that, to enable them to do so, it is requisite I should resign this very day. By offering your resignation,' added he, 'you will prove your innocence, and shield yourself from the impending storm.' My answer was such as ought to have been given by a man who would regard as dishonourable a resignation imposed by circumstances. I said, moreover, that my colleagues might scrutinize my public life, and that they would find in it nothing reprehensible. Barras persisted in urging me to resign, which I firmly refused to do. He departed, giving me to understand that I should be allowed one or two weeks for reflection. "I have lost no time in coming to tell you this,' added Barthélemy, 'that you may be made aware of the perilous situation in which we both stand.'
Confidence of Carnot.
"My dear colleague, replied I, as soon as he had ended, I have just received communications from people more candid than Barras, and from what they tell me, the danger which threatens us is much more imminent. Here, read
this note which has just been delivered to me. "I handed him the epistle, which he read a second and a third time.
"Surely, said I, you wish to learn it by heart. ... Well! tell me what you think of it!
"Heavens! exclaimed Barthélemy, in a piteous tone of voice, 'what will become of us?....To-morrow night, the blow is to be struck!'
"I assured him that I saw no ground for alarm; and I deeply reproach myself for the implicit confidence I reposed in the inviolability of the constitution. The Triumvirs, said I, (meaning the three Directors,) are as ill at ease as we are. All these mysterious communications are only intended to work on our credulity....These worthies will think twice before they sever the sacred compact which binds us all together. Barras is a rogue, but you and myself are honest men. All he wants is to scare us away, so that we may leave the field open to his manikins. Let us stand firm, keep ourselves clear of the royalists, and we may brave our enemies.
"I was mistrustful of my colleague. I knew that he was in some way involved in the plans of Pichegru, and I had doubts of his sincerity, though those doubts were unfounded. I, however, succeeded in inspiring him with courage; and, it being the time appointed for the general council of the Directory, we both proceeded thither. Our three opponents held themselves in reserve: not an angry word was uttered, and they heard us speak, if not with pleasure, at least with patience. The countenance of La Réveillère would have enabled me to guess that something extraordinary was in agitation: there was a sort of convulsive movement in his ferocious features, which a shrewd observer might have construed into the triumph of the traitor exulting over his fallen victims.
"The sitting rose, and we separated. About sunset a multitude of low characters, such as the officers of the army of Fleuriot, loungers at billiard tables and gambling
The Prætorian Guard.
houses, and here and there a few military officers, who were really imposed on, were collected in groups in the garden of the Luxembourg. No one was permitted to go out. I myself saw this raw Prætorian guard, worthy of its leaders; and I began to recover from my blindness. About eleven o'clock, a female, Mme. de Les.... who was intimate with Chenier, brought me a letter from La Réveillère. It was addressed to Monsieur Chenier, and was in these terms:
"Hold yourself in readiness to lend us your assistance to-night, which is the time appointed for the decisive stroke. If our friends second us, all will go well.'
"Allent, my secretary, was with me at the moment when the veil was drawn from my eyes. My consternation gave him the first hint of what had occurred. At that moment, a loud knocking was heard at my door. It was General Cherin, who, knowing nothing of the plot, came to inform me that a crowd of suspicious persons were collected in the Luxembourg. He asked me for orders, for he had not been let into the secret. I informed him that, as I was no longer President, (my time had expired,) he must address himself to La Réveillère. He had been in quest of the latter, who had fled in alarm from the Luxembourg, and had taken refuge in the house of one of his friends; but, at the moment, only his disappearance, and not his place of retreat, was ascertained. I saw that it was no time for hesitation, and, though divested of power, I directed the commandant to clear the Luxembourg. The mob, who had assembled there, immediately obeyed the order, though its legality was very questionable, and adjourned to another place of rendezvous, where they were again routed after one in the morning.
"General Cherin had scarcely left me when Barthélemy arrived. He had been sitting quietly at his game of trictrac, when some one came to announce to him the movements of the hirelings of Barras. He asked what was to be done.
"Escape, replied I, or you will be murdered. Those scoundrels will never forgive you.
"He was standing in my apartment confounded, and not knowing what course to take, when an aid-de-camp of Au
Carnot's Place of Refuge.
gereau entered. He had come, he said, merely to call on
"Citizen, said I, be more frank: say that you have come to reconnoitre me.
"He stammered and looked confused, and I dismissed him with the indignation he merited As soon as he was gone, Barthélemy returned to the charge, and implored me to advise him.
"We have not even time to act, said I; how can we have time to talk?
Tendre au fer de Colchas une tête innocente.
"For my part, I retired to rest without undressing. I lay down, not in my usual bed, but in one which was concealed behind a pannel in my dining-room. There I remained for a little time, and then, arming myself with every precaution, I went out by a secret door, leading into one of the private gardens surrounding the Luxembourg. I carried with me two pistols. At that moment, the alarm guns were firing. I wandered about the streets for three hours, exposed to no little danger, before I could venture to enter the place of refuge which was prepared for me and where I was anxiously expected. Having slipped in, I found myself in safety, and then, bon soir to my enemies.
"On the signal being given from the battery of the PontNeuf, Barras immediately summoned General Cherin, who had received the supreme command of our guard. He gave him secret orders to seize my person, dead or alive; to break open my doors to get at me. Cherin hurried off to fulfil his mission, and, in proof of his zeal, resolved to employ a petard, if I did not surrender at the first summons. Allent, hearing a noise at my door, went to ascertain what it was; a party of soldiers rushed upon him, and, holding their bayonets to his throat, obliged him to shew them my place of concealment. He conducted them to the secret bed behind the pannel. They found it warm, as they said in their report; but the object of their search was gone.
"Allent smiled in petto at the disconsolate air of Cherin, who expected to be charged with want of zeal. He was