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The direct consequence of the ecclesiastical laws was the flight of the king. From the time of his removal to Paris, in October 1789, men began to study the means by which he might be rescued, and his ministers were ready with the necessary passports. During the summer of 1790, which he spent at St. Cloud, various plans were proposed and constantly rejected. 

The queen was opposed to them, for she said: "What can the king do, away from Paris, without insight, or spirit, or ascendancy? Say no more about it." But a change came over them on August 24, when the Civil Constitution was sanctioned. As soon as it was voted in July, Mirabeau informed Lewis that he undertook to convey him, publicly, to Rouen, or Beauvais, or Compiègne, where he would be out of reach, and could dissolve the Assembly and proclaim a better system of constitutional laws. Civil war would inevitably follow; but Mirabeau believed that civil war would lead to the restoration of authority, if the king put himself in the hands of the Marquis de Bouillé, the general commanding at Metz. Bouillé had acquired a high reputation by his success against the English in the West Indies, and he increased it at this moment by the energy with which he suppressed a mutiny in the garrison of Nancy. _For_ the service thereby rendered to the State and the cause of order, he received, under pressure from Mirabeau, the thanks of the Assembly. The king begged him to nurse his popularity as he was reserved for greater things. This is the first intimation of the secret; and it is confirmed by the Princess Elizabeth, within a week of the sanction given to the Civil Constitution. But although, in that month of September, Lewis began to meditate departure from Paris, and accepted the general proposed to him, he did not adopt the rest of the scheme which would have made him dependent on Mirabeau. At that moment his strongest motive was the desire to be released from the religious entanglement; and he hoped to restore the Church to its lost position on condition of buying up the _assignats_ with the property of the suppressed orders. It had been computed that the Church would be able to save the public credit by a sacrifice of forty millions, or to ruin the revolutionary investor by refusing it. Therefore the king would not entertain the proposals of Mirabeau, who was not the man to execute a policy favourable to the influence of the priesthood. It was committed to a different politician.

Breteuil, the rival of Necker, was the man preferred to Mirabeau. He was living at Soleure as the acknowledged head of the Royalists who served the king, and who declined to follow the princes and the _émigrés_ and their chief intriguer Calonne. Breteuil was now consulted. He advised the king to depart in secret and to take refuge in a frontier fortress among faithful regiments, within reach of Austrian supports. In this way Breteuil, not Mirabeau, would be master, and the restoration would have been in favour of the old _régime_, not of the constitutional monarchy. On one point only the two advisers agreed: Breteuil, like Mirabeau, recommended Bouillé as the man of action. His reply was brought by the Bishop of Pamiers, an eighteenth-century prelate of the worldly sort, who was afterwards selected to be the minister of finance if Brunswick had conquered. On October 23 the bishop was sent to Metz to initiate Bouillé.

In point both of talent and renown, Bouillé was the first man in the army as the emigration had left it. He served reluctantly under the new order, and thought of making himself a new career in Russia. But he was ambitious, for he had been always successful, and the emissary from the king and from Breteuil opened a tempting future. He proposed three alternatives. The king was to choose between Valenciennes, which would be the safest and swiftest journey; Besançon, within reach of the friendly Swiss who were under agreement to supply a large force on demand; and Montmédy, a small fortified town close to the frontier, and not far from Luxemburg which was the strongest of the imperial fortresses. All this meant plainly Montmédy. Besançon was so far that there was time to be overtaken, and Valenciennes was not in Bouillé's territory. Nothing could be done before the spring, for the emperor was not yet master of his revolted provinces; and a long correspondence was carried on between the general at Metz, and Count Fersen at Paris, who acted for Lewis XVI. and controlled the whole. At Christmas, Bouillé sent his eldest son to Paris to arrange details with him.

During the first months of 1791, which were the last of his life, the ascendancy of Mirabeau rose so rapidly that the king wavered between him and Breteuil. In February, La Marck appeared at Metz, to lay Mirabeau's bolder plan before the soldier on whose sword its execution was to depend. Bouillé at once preferred it to Breteuil's and was ready to carry it out. But Fersen was so confident in pledging himself to contrive the departure from Paris at night and in secret, he was so resolute and cool, that he dispelled all doubts, and early in March he announced that the king had finally decided for Montmédy. His hesitation was over, and Mirabeau was rejected. Lewis could not have taken his advice without surrendering his own main object, the restoration of the Gallican Church. It was the essence of Mirabeau's policy to sacrifice the priesthood. His last counsels were given on February 23, five weeks before he died. He advised that the king, when driving out, should be forced by the people to go home; or better still, that a mob should be gathered in the court of the Tuileries to prevent him from going out. He hoped that such an outrage would cause the Assembly to secure greater liberty of movement, which would serve his purpose at the proper time.

The opportunity was found on April 18, when it became known that the royal family were moving to St. Cloud. Easter was at hand; and at Easter, the king of France used to receive communion in public. But Lewis could not receive communion. He was responsible for the Civil Constitution which he had sanctioned, and for the schism that was beginning. With that on his conscience he was required to abstain, as people would otherwise infer that neither he nor the priest who absolved him saw anything to regret in the rising storm. Therefore to avoid scandal it was well to be out of the way at the time. The royal family were stopped at their very door, as Mirabeau had desired. For more than an hour they sat in the carriage, hooted and insulted by the mob, Lafayette vainly striving to clear the way. As they returned to the palace, the queen indiscreetly said to those about them: "You must admit now, gentlemen, that we are not free." The case for flight was strengthened by the events of that day, except in the eyes of some who, knowing the suggestion of Mirabeau, suspected a comedy, and wondered how much the king had paid that a howling mob might call him a fat pig to his face.

The emperor could no longer refuse aid to his sister without the reproach of cruelty. He was now requested to move troops near enough to the frontier to justify Bouillé in forming a camp in front of Montmédy, and collecting supplies sufficient for the nucleus of a royal army. He was also asked to advance a sum of money for first expenses. Leopold, who scarcely knew Marie Antoinette, showed extreme reserve. His hands were not free in the East. He sympathised with much of the work of the Revolution; and he was not sorry to see France weakened, even by measures which he disapproved. His language was discouraging throughout. He would promise nothing until they succeeded in escaping; and he believed they could not escape. The queen resolved to discover whether the gross indignity to which she had been subjected had made some softening impression on her brother; and the Count de Durfort was sent to seek him in his Italian dominions, with ample credentials. The agent was not wisely chosen. He found Leopold at Mantua, conferring with the Count d'Artois, and he fell into the hands of Calonne. On his return he produced a paper in twenty-one paragraphs, drawn up by Calonne, with the emperor's replies, showing that Leopold would invade France in the summer, with 100,000 men, that the royal family were to await his coming, and that, in effect, he had accepted the programme of the _émigrés_.

The queen was persuaded that she would be murdered if she remained at Paris while her brother's forces entered France. She believed that the _émigrés_ detested her; that they were prepared to sacrifice her husband and herself to their own cause; and that if their policy triumphed, the new masters would be worse than the old. She wrote to Mercy that it would become an intolerable slavery. She resolved to incur the utmost risk rather than owe her deliverance to d'Artois and his followers. Marie Antoinette was right in her estimate of feeling in the _émigré_ camp. Gustavus III. spoke for many when he said, "The king and queen, personally, may be in danger; but that is nothing to a danger that threatens all crowned heads."

After their arrest at Varennes, Fersen was amazed at the indecent joy of the French in Brussels, of whom many avowed their satisfaction that the king and queen were captured. For the plan concerted with Bouillé was to serve monarchy, not aristocracy. In her passionate resistance to the party of d'Artois, Condé, and Calonne, the queen felt herself the champion of popular royalism. In the language of the day, she was for a counter-constitution, they for a counter-revolution. There was a personal question also. The queen relied on Breteuil to save her from Calonne, whom she suspected of having tampered with the king's confessor to learn Court secrets. When she saw the answer from Mantua, she at once knew his hand. If that was her brother's policy, it was time to make a rush for freedom. The Jacobin yoke could be borne, not the yoke of the _émigrés_. Breteuil warned them to lose no time, if they would escape from thraldom to their friends. When Marie Antoinette resolved that flight with the risk of capture would be better than rescue by such hands, she knew but half the truth. The document brought back from Mantua by Durfort was a forgery. It governed history for 100 years; and the genuine text was not published until 1894. And we know now that Calonne, behind the back of the Count d'Artois, fabricated the reply which lured the king and queen to their fate. On June 9 Mercy wrote that they were deceived. In their terror and uncertainty, they fled. The first motive of Lewis had been the horror of injuring a religion which was his own. When he signed the decree imposing the oath on the clergy, which began the persecution, he said, "At least, it is not for long."

The elections to the next Assembly were appointed for July 5. If the first Assembly was allowed to accomplish its work, all that had been done to discredit one party and to conciliate another, all the fruit of Mirabeau's expensive intrigues, would be lost. The final determination that sent them along the road to Varennes was the treason hatched at Mantua. They ran the gauntlet to the Argonne in the cause of limited monarchy, to evade revolution and reaction. That was the spirit in which Mirabeau urged departure, and in which Bouillé came to the rescue; and it is that which made the queen odious to the expatriated nobles. But it was not the policy of Breteuil. He refused to contemplate anything but the restoration of the unbroken crown. The position was ambiguous. Contrary forces were acting for the moment in combination. Between the reactionary statesman and the constitutional general, there was no security in the character of the king.

The calculation on which the flight to Montmédy was undertaken was not, in itself, unreasonable. There was a strong party in the Assembly with which it was possible to negotiate. In the Rhone district, along the Loire, in parts of western and southern France, hundreds of thousands of the most intrepid men on earth were ready to die for the altar and the throne. But they were not willing to expose themselves for a prince in whose hands the best cause was doomed to fail, and whose last act as king was to betray his faithful defenders. Instigated by Bouillé, the queen asked her brother to lend some regiments to act with the royal forces as auxiliaries in case of resistance. She wished for 30,000 men. That is the significant fact that justifies the postmaster of St. Ménehould and the patriots of Varennes. The expedition to Montmédy was a first step towards civil war and foreign invasion. That is what these men vaguely understood when they stopped the fugitives.

For the management of the journey the best advice was not always taken. Instead of two light carriages, the royal party insisted on travelling in one large one, which Fersen accordingly ordered. The route by Rheims would have been better, because Varennes was off the post road. But Varennes was preferred on the ground that Rheims was the coronation city, and the king might be recognised. The shortest way to Montmédy passed through Belgian territory; but it was thought dangerous to cross the frontier. It was urged that a military display on the road would lead to trouble, but it was decided that it was necessary beyond Châlons. Bouillé's advice was not always sound, but there was one point on which it proved fatal to reject it. He wished the travellers to be accompanied by an experienced officer, whom he knew to be masterful, energetic, and quick in an emergency. The king thought of several, but the queen was disinclined to have a stranger in the carriage. But she asked for three able-bodied officers, to be employed as couriers, adding that they need not be unusually intelligent. In those words the coming story is told. The three couriers answered too faithfully the specified qualification.

The departure had been fixed for the second week of June. Bouillé still hoped for a movement among the imperialists, and he requested a delay. On the 16th he was informed that the royal family would start at midnight on the 20th. He had sent one of his colonels, the Duke de Choiseul, to Paris for the last instructions. Choiseul's horses were to fetch the king at Varennes, and he was to entertain him in his house at Montmédy. He had the command of the farthest detachment of cavalry on the road from Montmédy to Châlons, and it was his duty to close up behind the royal carriage, to prevent pursuit, and to gather all the detachments on the road, as the king passed along. He would have arrived at the journey's end with at least 400 men. His last orders were to convey the king across the frontier, if Bouillé should fall. The great abbey of Orval was only a few miles away, and it was thought that, at the last moment, it might be found safer than the hostile soil of France.

Choiseul was not equal to the difficult part he had to perform. He set out for his post on the Monday afternoon, carrying with him a marshal's baton, which had belonged to his uncle, and the queen's hairdresser, Léonard. For Thursday was the solemn festival of Corpus Christi, when a military mass would be celebrated in the camp, and, in the presence of the assembled army, Bouillé was to be made a marshal of France. The queen could not be allowed to appear at such a function without the artist's help, and he was hurried away, much against his will, without a word of explanation. The king's sister learned the same day what was before her. There had been an idea of sending her on with the children, or with the Countess of Provence. The Princess, who was eminently good, and not always gracious, did not enjoy the confidence of the queen. She was one of those who regarded concession as surrender of principle, and in the rift between the Princes and Marie Antoinette she was not on the side of compromise. Provence came to supper, and the brothers met for the last time. That night their ways parted, leading the one to the guillotine, and the other to the throne which had been raised by Napoleon above every throne on earth. The Count and Countess of Provence both started at the same time as the rest, and reached Belgium in safety.

Fersen, directing matters with skill and forethought, made one mistake. Two attendants on the royal children were taken, in a hired carriage, to Claye, the second stage on the eastern road; and it was their driver who made known, on his return, which way the fugitives had taken.

When everybody was in bed, and the lights were out, the royal family went out by a door that was not in use, and got into a hackney coach. The last to come was the queen, who had been frightened by meeting Lafayette. Afterwards she asked him whether he had recognised her. He replied that if he had met her not once but thrice, he could never have recognised her, after what she had told him the day before; for she had said that they were not going away. Bailly, who was at home, ill, had taken alarm at the persistent rumours of departure, and urged Lafayette to redouble his precautions. After a last inspection the general assured the mayor that Gouvion was on guard, and not a mouse could escape. The journalists, Marat and Fréron, had also been warned. Fréron went to the Tuileries late at night, and satisfied himself that all was quiet. Nobody took notice of a coachman, chatting and taking snuff with a comrade, or guessed that it was the colonel of Royal Swedes, who in that hour built himself an everlasting name. It was twelve when the queen arrived; and the man, who had made her heart beat in happier years, mounted the box and drove away into the darkness. Their secret was known, and their movements had been observed by watchful eyes. The keeper of the wardrobe was intimate with General Gouvion. She had warned him in good time, and had given notice to persons about the queen that she knew what was going on. The alarm was given at two in the morning, but that she might not be compromised it was given by devious ways. A traveller from Marseilles was roused at his lodgings by a friendly voice. He refused to get up, and went to sleep again. Some hours later the visitor returned, and prevailed with the sleeper. He came from the palace, and reported that the king was gone. They took the news to one of the deputies, who hastened to Lafayette, while the man from the palace disappeared. Lafayette, as soon as he was dressed, conferred with the mayor and with the president of the Assembly, Beauharnais, the first husband of the Empress Josephine, and they persuaded him that nothing could avert civil war but the capture of the king. Thereupon Lafayette wrote an order declaring that Lewis had been carried off, and calling on all good citizens to bring him back. He believed that too much time had been lost; but nothing less than this, which was a warrant for arrest, would have appeased the rage of the people at his lack of vigilance. He despatched his officers, chiefly towards Lille. One of them, Romeuf, whom he directed to follow the road to Valenciennes, was stopped by the mob, and brought before the Assembly. There he received a new commission, with authority to make the king a prisoner. As he rode out, after so much delay, he learned that the fugitives had been seen on the road to Meaux, and that they had twelve hours' start.

There is much in these transactions that is strangely suspicious. Lafayette did not make up his mind that there was anything to be done until others pressed him. He sent off all his men by the wrong roads, while Baillon, the emissary of the Commune, struck the track at once. He told Romeuf that it was too late, so that his heavy day's ride was only a formality. Romeuf, who was the son of one of his tenants, got into many difficulties, and did not give his horse the spur until the news was four hours old. At Varennes he avowed that he had never meant to overtake them, and the king's officers believed him. Gouvion, second in command of the guard, knew by which door the royal party meant to leave, and he assured the Assembly that he had kept watch over it, with several officers, all night. Lewis had even authorised Mme. de Tourzel to bring Gouvion with her, if she met him on her way to the carriage. Burke afterwards accused Lafayette of having allowed the departure, that he might profit by the arrest. Less impassioned critics have doubted whether the companion of Washington was preparing a regency, or deemed that the surest road to a republic is by a vacant throne.

The coach that was waiting beyond the gates had been ordered for a Russian lady, Madame de Korff, who was Fersen's fervent accomplice. She supplied not only the carriage, but £12,000 in money, and a passport. As she required another for her own family, the Russian minister applied to Bailly. The mayor refused, and he was obliged to ask Montmorin, pretending that the passport he had just given had been burnt by mistake. The numbers and description tallied, but the destination was Frankfort. As the travellers quitted the Frankfort road at Clermont, the last stage before Varennes, this was a transparent blunder. Half an hour had been lost, but the first stage, Bondy, was reached at half-past one. Here Fersen, who had sat by his coachman, flourishing the whip, got down, and the family he had striven so hard to save passed out of his protection. He wished to take them all the way, and had asked Gustavus for leave to travel in the uniform of the Swedish Guard. But Lewis would not allow him to remain, and underrated the value of such an escort. Fersen took the north road, and reached Belgium without difficulty. In the following winter he was again at the Tuileries. As a political adviser he was unfortunate, for he was one of those concerned in the Brunswick proclamation which cost the king his crown.

The travellers pursued their way without molestation to Châlons, and there, as they were about to meet their faithful soldiery, they fancied that the danger was over. In reality the mischief was already done, and by their own fault their fate was sealed. As they were sure to be pursued, safety depended on celerity. The point of peril was Varennes, for a good horseman at full speed might ride 146 miles in less than thirteen hours, and would arrive there about nine at night, if he started at the first alarm. It was calculated that the royal family, at 7-1/2 miles an hour, would reach Varennes between 8 and 9. The margin was so narrow that there was no time to lose. The king thought it sufficient to reach Bouillé's outposts before he could be overtaken, and they would be met a stage beyond Châlons. To secure the meeting it was necessary to keep time. The hours were exactly determined; and as the agreement was not observed, the troopers were useless. Before Châlons four hours had been lost--not by accident, as the royalist legend tells, for Valory the outrider testifies that it took but a few minutes to repair. Bouillé knew the ignoble cause of his own ruin and of so much sorrow, but never revealed it. When he came to England he misled questioners, and he exacted an oath from his son that he would keep the miserable secret for half a century. The younger Bouillé was true to his word. In 1841 he confided to a friend that the story whispered at the time was true, and that the king stopped a couple of hours at Étoges, over an early dinner at the house of Chanilly, an officer of his household, whose name appears in his will. When people saw what came of it, there was a generous conspiracy of concealment, which bewildered posterity, until Bouillé's tale was told.

At Pont de Somme-Vesle, 8 or 9 miles beyond Châlons, Choiseul was in command. His men had been badly received at St. Ménehould, and their presence perturbed the country people. Nobody believed the pretence that so many horsemen were required to protect the passage of treasure, and they began to suspect that the treasure was the queen herself, flying to Austria. Choiseul took alarm; for if the king arrived in the midst of sedition, the worst might be expected. He had been positively instructed that the king would pass at half-past two. Fersen had said that he might rely on it, and there was to be a courier riding an hour ahead. When three o'clock came, without any sign of king or courier, Choiseul resolved to move away, hoping that his departure would allay the ferment and secure safe passage. He sent Léonard forward, with instructions to the officers in command at St. Ménehould, Clermont, and Varennes, that all seemed to be over for the day, and that he was starting to join Bouillé; and after some further watching, he withdrew with all his men. For this Bouillé afterwards demanded that he should be tried by court-martial.

It had been settled that if the king did not appear at Bondy by half-past two in the morning, the courier who had preceded him was to push on, and warn the officers that there was no more to be done. As no courier made his appearance in the afternoon, it was certain that the fugitives had got out of Paris, where the danger lay. If Choiseul found it necessary to move his men, he was to leave a staff officer, Goguelat, to wait the king's coming, and to be his guide. But Choiseul took Goguelat with him, leaving no guide; and instead of keeping on the high road, to block it at a farther point, he went off into byways, and never reappeared until all was over at Varennes. His error is flagrant, but it was due to the more tragic folly of his master. Not long after he had abandoned his post the king arrived, and passed unhindered. Again he changed horses without resistance at the next post-town, which was St. Ménehould, and went on to Clermont en Argonne. Some of the bystanders thought they had recognised him under his disguise, and the loudest of them was Drouet, who, as postmaster, had just had a quarrel with one of the officers, and was in the dangerous mood of a man who has his temper to recover. The town council assembled, and on hearing the grounds of his suspicion, commissioned him to follow the travellers and stop their flight. They did not doubt that Lewis was about to throw himself into the arms of Austria. It was not his first intention, for he hoped to make a stand at Montmédy; but the prospect of effective action on French soil had diminished.

Bouillé's command was narrowed. He could not trust his men; and Leopold did not stir. The basis of the scheme had crumbled. Whether within the frontier or beyond it, success implied an Austrian invasion. Bouillé's plan, from its inception, had no other meaning; and it was executed under conditions which placed Lewis more completely in the hands of the calculating emperor. It became more and more apparent that his destination was not the camp of Montmédy, but the abbey of Orval in Luxemburg. The men of St. Ménehould who resolved to prevent his escape acted on vague suspicion, but we cannot say that, as Frenchmen, they acted wrongly. They had no certainty, and no authority; but while they deliberated a pursuing horseman rode into the town, bringing what they wanted. An officer of the National Guard, Baillon, had got away from Paris early in the day, with orders from Bailly and Lafayette, and took the right road. He was delayed for two hours by an encounter with M. de Briges, one of the king's men, whom he succeeded in arresting. To save time he sent forward a fresh rider, on a fresh horse, to stop the fugitives; and this messenger from Châlons brought the news to St. Ménehould, not long after the coach had rolled away.

When Drouet started on the ride that made his fortune, he knew that it was the king, and that Paris did not mean him to escape. An hour had been lost, and he met his postboys returning from Clermont. From them he learnt that the courier had given the word Varennes, and not Verdun. By a short cut, through the woods, he arrived just in time. Meantime St. Ménehould was seething; the commanding officer was put under arrest, and his troops were prevented from mounting. One man, Lagache, warned by the daughter of his host that the treasure for the army chest had evaporated and the truth was out, sprung on his horse and opened a way through the crowd with a pistol in each hand.

Drouet told the story to the National Assembly more to his own advantage, claiming to have recognised the queen whom he had seen at Paris, and the king by his likeness on an _assignat_. On a later day he declined all direct responsibility, and said that he followed the coach in consequence of orders forwarded from Châlons, not on his own initiative or conjecture. When he gave the second version he was a prisoner among the Austrians, and the questioner before whom he stood was Fersen. At such a moment even a man of Drouet's fortitude might well have stretched a point in the endeavour to cast off odium. Therefore the account recorded by Fersen has not supplanted the popular tradition. But it is confirmed by Romeuf, who says, distinctly, that the postmaster of St. Ménehould was warned by the message sent on by Baillon. Romeuf's testimony, contained in the protocols of the Assembly, where I have seen it, was omitted in the _Moniteur_, in order that nothing might deface the legend of the incautious traveller, the treacherous banknote, and the vigilant provincial patriot, who was the idol of the hour as the man who had preserved his country from invasion and civil war.

Clermont, like the other post towns, was agitated by the presence of cavalry; and after the king had pursued his journey, the authorities despatched a messenger to rouse Varennes. Passing the royal party at full speed, he shouted something which they did not understand, but which made them think that they were detected. He was superseded by the superior energy and capacity of Drouet, and plays no part in the adventure. There was an officer at Clermont who knew his business; but his men deserted him, and he reached Varennes alone. At Varennes the two men in the secret, Bouillé's younger son and Raigecourt, were with the horses, at the farther end of the town, over the bridge, keeping no look-out. They relied on Goguelat, on Choiseul, on d'Andouins who commanded at St. Ménehould, on Damas at Clermont, and above all on the promised courier, who was to ride an hour ahead to warn them in time. But they expected no warning that night. If there was any watchfulness in them, it was put to sleep by Léonard, who had gone through an hour before with Choiseul's fatal letter. The king was arrested a few hundred yards from their inn, and they were aware of nothing. When they heard, they galloped away on the road to Stenay, where they knew that the general was keeping anxious vigil. Drouet passed the carriage near the entrance of the town, where the couriers were wrangling with the postilions and looking about in the dark for the relays. With the help of half a dozen men who were finishing their wine at the inn, he barricaded the bridge.

There the king's passport betrayed him, for it was made out for Frankfort, and Varennes was not on the road to Frankfort. The party were therefore detained and had to spend the night at the house of Sauce, municipal officer and grocer, while the drums beat, the tocsin rang, the town was roused with the cry of fire, and messengers were sent to bring in national guards from the country round. At first Sauce beguiled the king over a bottle of wine, and then introduced a travelled fellow-townsman who identified him. A scene of emotion followed, and loyal citizens pressed their sovereign in their arms. They talked of escorting him to Montmédy, a hundred strong, and Lewis, ready to believe them, declared he would be content with fifty. As night wore on, a number of officers collected: Choiseul and Goguelat, after their long ride from Pont de Somme-Vesle; the Count de Damas from Clermont; and at last Deslon, a captain of the German horse that Bouillé chiefly trusted. Choiseul's men, and some of those quartered at Varennes, were faithful, and it was thought possible to clear the street. Urged by the queen, Damas wished to attempt it, and long after he assured an English friend that he regretted that he did not lead the charge, in defiance of the king's optimism, and of his reluctance to be saved by the sword. He said to Deslon in German, "Mount and attack!" But Deslon saw that it was too late. Goguelat threatened to cut his way out, and was unhorsed by a pistol shot.

Drouet was master of the situation. It was he who managed the hesitating soldiers and the hesitating townsmen. At five in the morning Romeuf and Baillon arrived, with Lafayette's order, and the decree of the sovereign Assembly. There was no more illusion then about pursuing the journey, and all the king's hope was that he might gain time for Bouillé to deliver him. Bouillé was at Stenay, twenty miles off. He spent the night watching the road, with his arm through his horse's bridle. Long after every possible allowance for delay, his son came up with the tidings of Varennes. The trumpets roused the Royal Germans, but their colonel was hostile, and precious hours were lost. Bouillé gave all his money to his men, told them what manner of expedition they were on, told them that their king was a prisoner, and led them to the rescue. It was past nine when he reached the height that looks down on the valley of the Aire. The horses were tired, the bridge was barricaded, the fords were unknown. All was quiet at Varennes, and the king was already miles away on the road to Clermont. It was the end of a bright dream, and of a career which had been noted for unvarying success.

As the unhappy man, who had so narrowly missed the prize, turned his horse's head in the direction of exile, he said to his son, "Do you still praise my good fortune?" That evening he rode across the frontier with a group of officers, and his men fired on him as he passed. He issued an angry declaration, and composed a defence of his conduct, saying that nobody had remained at his post except himself. But he knew that king and constitution were lost because he was not on the spot, and had posted inexperienced men where his own presence was needed. He could not recover his balance, and became as unwise and violent as the rest. The _émigrés_ did not trust him, and assigned him no active part in the invasion of the following year. His fame stood high among the English who had fought him in the West Indies, and Pitt offered him the command in San Domingo, which the Duke of Portland obliged him to relinquish.

Lewis XVI. was brought back to Paris by an insolent and ferocious crowd, and looked back with gratitude to the equivocal civilities of Sauce. The journey occupied four days, during which the queen's hair turned grey. Three deputies, sent by the Assembly, met the dolorous procession half way, and took charge of the royal family. The king at once assured them that he had intended to remain at Montmédy, and there to revise the Constitution. "With those words," said Barnave, "we shall save the monarchy." Latour Maubourg refused his turn in the royal carriage, on the plea that his legs were too long for comfort, and advised the king to employ the time in domesticating his companions. The advice partly succeeded, for Barnave was made a friend. Nothing could be made of Pétion, who states in his narrative that the princess fell in love with him. General Dumas assumed command, and, by posting cavalry on one of the bridges, managed to bring the horses to a trot, and left the crowd behind.

When they came to the forest of Bondy, the Hounslow Heath of France, a band of ruffians from the capital made a determined attack, and were with difficulty beaten off. At last, Lefebvre, the future Marshal Duke of Dantzick, met them with a company of grenadiers. As there was danger in the narrow streets of Paris, Lafayette took them round through the Champs Elysées. Word had been passed that not a sign of hatred or of honour should be given, and a horseman rode in front, commanding silence. The order was sullenly obeyed. The day before this funereal scene the Prussian envoy wrote home that the king might be spared, from motives of policy, but that nothing could save the queen. They had reached the terrace of the Tuileries when there was a rush and a struggle, in which Dumas lost his hat and his belt and his scabbard, and nearly had his clothes torn from his back. A group of deputies came to his assistance, and no blood was shed. A carriage came after, with Drouet conspicuous on high and triumphant. He received a grant of £1200, and was elected to the Convention in the following year. Taken prisoner by the Prussians, he impressed Goethe by his coolness in adversity. The Austrians took him at the siege of Maubeuge, and he was exchanged for the king's daughter. In the communistic conspiracy of Babeuf he nearly lost his life, and for a time he lived in a cavern, underground. Napoleon gave him the Legion of Honour, made him subprefect of St. Ménehould, and was his guest when he visited Valmy. In the Hundred Days Drouet was again a deputy, and then vanished from sight and changed his name. When he died, in 1824, his neighbours learned with surprise that they had lived with the sinister contriver of the tremendous tragedy.