Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/71

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audacity of Robespierre and Danton, consented to the creation of a power that, with an impartiality worthy of its origin, sent successively to the guillotine not Royalists only, but Brissot and Vergniaud, and, in due time, Danton and Robespierre themselves.

The logic on this occasion, as well as the force, was on the side of Robespierre; for, the "10th of August" having been now adopted and canonised as a patriotic conception and triumph, the treating any of the circumstances that had brought it about as crimes would have been preposterous; and it turned out, in point of fact, that the tribunal, after it had convicted one Swiss officer, and acquitted another, no more inquired into the 10th of August than it did into the St. Barthélemi, and became eventually nothing more or less than—as the Conventional Dupin energetically called it—" the first step to the scaffold." From this moment the Guillotine became, not an instrument of justice, but the murderous weapon of political factions, of private enmities—nay, when factions and enmities had been killed off, of the wanton spontaneities of blood-drunken insanity.

The first political victims were MM. Dangremont, La Porte, and Durosoi. Their fate is scarcely mentioned by the most communicative of the historians, and, by the rest, not at all; and yet we must think that the first feats of this tiger-tribunal,- the first steps in this ocean of blood, are matters not merely of deep tragic interest, but of some historical importance. This is not an occasion in which we can pretend to supply such deficiencies; all we can do is to indicate