Page:History of the Guillotine.djvu/80

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65
SUPPRESSION OF FIRST TRIBUNAL.

without debate, and almost without notice. It is scarcely alluded to in any of the histories, not even in that especially calling itself a 'History of the Revolutionary Tribunal,' published in 1815, in two volumes; nay, not in the periodical publications of the day; and, in fact, this tribunal of the 17th of August, 1792, has been always treated as if it and the still more celebrated Revolutionary Tribunal created 10th of March, 1793, were the same,—only that at the latter date larger powers were conferred on it. No doubt the spirit that created the two tribunals, and many of the members that composed them, were the same, but in point of fact they were wholly distinct. The suppression of the first took place in the height of the agitation preliminary to the trial of the King, and we are satisfied that it must have had some urgent and most important motive, and one probably connected with the court, though we have never seen any assigned, nor indeed inquired after—for the fact itself was, as we have said, scarcely mentioned. We have no means of solving this historical mystery, but we cannot avoid noticing it to account for the total inaction of the Guillotine for near four months. Our own conjecture is twofold—first, that it was abolished lest some attempt should be made to employ it, instead of the Convention itself, for the trial of the King; or, secondly, that, during the deadly struggle then carrying on between the Girondins and Jacobins, each party, doubtful of the result, was afraid of leaving in the hands of its triumphant antagonists so terrible