Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/76

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61
MASSACRE AT THE PRISONS.

and then the absurdity of the pretence for which they had been sent to prison and the necessary value of their services, becoming more apparent, they were set at liberty, and in the course of the ensuing year were called upon to exercise their ministry upon their old antagonist, Gorsas, who was the first member of the Convention sent to the scaffold.

The new Tribunal, having gratified the populace with these executions, and being at first desirous of keeping up some show of justice, ventured to acquit two or three persons, and amongst them the Marquis de Montmorin, mistaken for his cousin the Comte de Montmorin, the ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs. At this moment the elections for the Convention were about to take place, and it was determined by the Jacobin candidates—Danton, Robespierre, and Co.—to strike a blow of such terror as should put all opposition to flight, and ensure the return of their own list for the city and neighbourhood of Paris, and indeed for the rest of France—but Paris was the first object. For this purpose, the celebrated domiciliary visits of 29th and^ 30th August, and the massacre of the prisons, were resolved on, and the supposed acquittal of M. de Montmorin, "one of the last ministers of the Tyrant" was one of the pretences employed to exasperate the people.[1] Instead, therefore, of being set at liberty, the Marquis—still mistaken for the Comte—was sent back to prison amidst prodigious popular excitement; other inflammatory circumstances were

  1. M. Thiers, in his History (v. ii. p. 39), makes the same blunder.