Page images
[blocks in formation]

arms, horses and munitions. Is not the patience suicidal which tolerates all this? Doubtless you have renounced all projects of conquest ; but you have not promised to endure such insolent provocations. You have shaken off the yoke of your tyrants; but it was not to bend the knee to foreign despots.

But, beware! You are environed by snares. They seek to drive you, by disgust or lassitude, to a state of languor fatal to your courage; or fatal to its right direction. They seek to separate you from us ; they pursue a system of calumny against the National Assembly; they incriminate your Revolution in your eyes. O! beware of these attempts at panic! Repel, indignantly, these impostors, who, while they affect a hypocritical zeal for the Constitution, cease not to urge upon you the monarchy! The monarchy! With them it is the counter-revolution! The monarchy? It is the nobility! The counter-revolution—what is it but taxation, feudality, the Bastille, chains and executioners, to punish the sublime aspirations of liberty? What is it but foreign satellites in the midst of the State? What, but bankruptcy, engulfing, with your assignats, your private fortunes and the national wealth ; what, but the furies of fanaticism and of vengeance; assassinations, pillage, and incendiarism ; in short, despot. ism and death, disputing, over rivers of blood and heaps of carcasses, the dominion of your wretched country? The nobility! That is to say, two classes of men; the one for grandeur, the other for debasement !—the one for tyranny, the other for servitude! The nobility! Ah! the very word is an insult to the human race !

And yet, it is in order to secure the success of these conspiracies that Europe is now put in motion against you. Be it so! By a solemn declaration must these guilty hopes be crushed. Yes, the free representatives of France, unshaken in their attachment to the Constitution, will be buried beneath its ruins, before they consent to a capitulation at once unworthy of them and of you. Rally! Be reassured! They would raise the nations against you ; they will raise only princes. The heart of every people is with you. It is their cause which you embrace, in defending your own. Ever abhorred be war ! It is the greatest of the crimes of men; it is the most terrible scourge of humanity! But, since you are irresistibly forced to it, yield to the course of your destinies. Who can foresee where will end the punishment of the tyrants who will have driven you to take up arms ?

THE DESPOTISM OF THE JACOBINS The blinded Parisians presume to call themselves free. Alas! it is true they are no longer the slaves of crowned tyrants ; but they are the slaves



[ocr errors]

TWO FRENCH REVOLUTIONARY ORATORS Robespierre the elegant orator is dressed suitably to his time. Danton the fiery orator is addressing the people from the tribune. Both lived in the most exciting times of French History. Their orations are interesting as portraying the underlying principles of the great French Revolution.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Jean Paul Marat whose portrait is shown, was a popular leader in the French Revolution. This picture
shows bis assassination by Charlotte Corday, who in turn suffered death by the guillotine. His career
was marked by blood-shed and violence. His oratory was of a type suited to such

troublesome times.

[blocks in formation]

of men the most vile, and of wretches the most detestable; men who continue to imagine that the Revolution has been made for themselves alone, and who have sent Louis XVI. to the Temple, in order that they may be enthroned at the Tuileries! It is time to break these disgraceful chainsto crush this new despotism. It is time that those who have made honest men tremble should be made to tremble in their turn.

I am not ignorant that they have poniards at their service. On the night of the second of September--that night of proscription !—did they not seek to turn them against several deputies, and myself among the number! Were we not denounced to the people as traitors ! Fortunately, it was the people into whose hands we fell. The assassins were elsewhere occupied. The voice of calumny failed of its effect. If my voice may yet make itself heard from this place, I call you all to witness it shall not cease to thunder, with all its energy, against tyrants, whether of high or low degree. What to me their ruffians and their poniards? What his own life to the representative of the people, while the safety of the country is at stake?

When William Tell adjusted the arrow which was to pierce the fatal apple that a tyrant had placed on his son's head, he exclaimed, “ Perish my name, and perish my memory, provided Switzerland may be free!” And we, also, we will say, “ Perish the National Assembly and its memory, provided France may be free."'* Ay, perish the National Assembly and its memory, so by its death it may save the Nation from a course of crime that would affix an eternal stigma to the French name; so, by its action, it may show the Nations of Europe that, despite the calumnies by which it is sought to dishonor France, there is still in the very bosom of that momentary anarchy where the brigands have plunged us—there is still in our country some public virtue, some respect for humanity left! Perish the National Assembly and its memory, if upon our ashes our more fortunate successors may establish the edifice of a Constitution, which shall assure the happiness of France, and consolidate the reign of liberty and equality!

* When these words were spoken the deputies rose with intense enthusiasm and repeated the words of the orator, while the audience in the galleries added their cries of approval to the tumult on the floor.




ARGE of frame, dauntless of spirit, passionate of temperament,

powerful in voice, Danton was well adapted for political ora

tory and revolutionary times. In quiet days he would not have shone, but in the whirlpool of the French Revolution he was at home, while his fervid and splendid oratory made him the favorite of the Parisian populace. Nothing was wanting to make Danton a great man--except virtue," said Lamartine, and this well describes him. His famous sayings : “ To dare, again to dare, always to dare,” and “Let France be free, though my name be accursed,” speak volumes for the boldness and patriotism of the man. Before men like him, and sentiments like these, the old institutions could not stand. The club founded by him, that of the Cordeliers, was more radical even than that of the Jacobins. For a time, Danton, Marat and Robespierre ruled the Revolution. Then a break took place between them, and while Danton hesitated Robespierre acted. The natural result followed, the guillotine became his fate.

LET FRANCE BE FREE. [The disasters of the French armies on the frontier called out from Danton in the Convention, March 10, 1793, one of his most impassioned addresses. Of this we give the telling closing portion, in which occurs one of his most famous sentences.]

The general considerations that have been presented to you are true; but at this moment it is less necessary to examine the causes of the disasters that have struck us than to apply their remedy rapidly. When the edifice is on fire, I do not join the rascals who would steal the furniture, I extinguish the flames. I tell you, therefore, you should be convinced by the dispatches of Dumouriez that you have not a moment to spare in saving the Republic.

« PreviousContinue »