History of the Girondists

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B. XLn. 5.] COMMITTEE OP PUBLIC SAFETT.
27
croix, a fanatical member of the Cordeliers’ club, devoted to
Danton, as the genius of the republic, did not venture to
give an opinion before his master had spoken; and even
Danton seemed for the first time undecided.
Garnt lamented the imminence of the peril, and the fatal
consequences of such a sacrifice made to the brutal force of
the mob. Then, as if suddenly illuminated by one of those
bright Hashes which dispels darkness and difficulty, — “I
see but one means of saving them,” exclaimed he; “ but it
demands a degree of heroism for which I dare not hope in
these corrupt times.” “ Speak,” replied Danton; “ our souls
are worthy those of antiquity; the Revolution has not de-
graded human nature.” “ Well, then,” returned Garat, with
the hesitation of a man who sounds the abysses of the heart
of another, without knowing whether he will find crime or
virtue; “remember the quarrels of Themistocles and
Aristides, which threatened the destruction of their country,
bj dividing it into two factions; Aristides saved his country
bj his greatness of soul. ‘ Athenians,’ said he to the people,
who wavered between himself and his rival, ‘ you will never
be happy and tranquil until you have cast Themistocles and
myself into the gulf into which you cast your criminals/ ”
“ You are right,” cried Danton, seizing the allusion before
Garat had applied it to the present circumstances. “ You
are right;*the unity of the republic must, if necessary,
triumph over our corpses. We and our enemies must exile
ourselves in an equal number from the Convention, in order
to restore to it strength and peace. I will hasten to propose
this to our heroic friends of the Montagne, and I will offer
to go as a hostage to Bordeaux.”
The whole committee, carried away by the generosity of
Danton, adopted this plan; which, whilst it left the honour of
the sacrifice to the Montagne, saved the Girondists, and gave
the victory to patriotism only.
But enthusiasm soon grows cold. Danton carried away a
few of his friends by his example ; the rest demanded time
for reflection. He caused Robespierre to be sounded; but
the latter, more politic and less generous, dissipated the illu-
sions of Danton in the eyes of his friends. “ His logic did
not permit him to abdicate,” he said, “ not his power, for he
had none, but the mandate of the people, which had as-

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