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o o iño **** Two FRENCH REVOLUTIONARY ORATORS
2// so 2. Robespierre the elegant orator is dressed suitably to his time. Danton the fiery orator is addressing the o o:---- so from the tribune. Both lived in the most exciting times of French History. Their orations are S.I As - -- nteresting as portraying the underlying principles of the great French Revolution. -
2. Jean Paul Marat whose portrait is shown, was a popular leader in the French Revolution. This picture -** shows his assassination by Charlotte Corday, who in turn suffered death by the guillotine. His 'onor was marked by blood-shed and violence. His oratory was of a type suited to such"troublesome time.
PIERRE VERGNIAUD 597
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 chains— to 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 1–did they not seek to turn them against several deputies, and myself among the number 1 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 2
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 l’’ 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.
• GEORGE JACQUES DANTON ( 1759.47%
THE MIRABEAU OF THE SANS-CULOTTES
ARGE of frame, dauntless of spirit, passionate of temperament, L powerful in voice, Danton was well adapted for political orai 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 vol. umes 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 Io, 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.
GEORGE JACQUES DANTON 599
Dumouriez conceived a plan which did honor to his genius. I would render him greater justice and praise than I did recently. But three months ago he announced to the executive power, your General Committee of Defence, that if we were not audacious enough to invade Holland in the middle of winter, to declare instantly against England the war which actually we had long been making, that we would double the difficulties of our campaign, in giving our enemies the time to deploy their forces. Since we failed to recognize this stroke of his genius, we must now repair our faults. Dumouriez is not discouraged ; he is in the middle of Holland, where he will find munitions of war. To overthrow all our enemies, he wants but Frenchmen, and France is filled with citizens. Would we be free ? If we no longer desire it, let us perish, for we have all sworn it. If we wish it, let all march to defend our independence. Your enemies are making their last efforts. Pitt, recognizing he has all to lose, dares spare nothing. Take Holland, and Carthage is destroyed, and England can no longer exist but for liberty Expediate, then, your commissioners; sustain them with your energy; let them leave this very night, this very evening. Let them say to the opulent classes, “The aristocracy of Europe must succumb to our efforts and pay our debt, or you will have to pay it !” The people have nothing but blood, they lavish it ! Go, then, ingrates, and lavish your wealth ! See, citizens, the fair destinies that await you. What ' You have a whole nation as a lever, its reason as your fulcrum, and you have not yet upturned the world ! To do this we need firmness and character, and of a truth we lack it. I put to one side all passions. They are all strangers to me save a passion for the public good. In the most difficult situations, when the enemy was at the gates of Paris, I said to those governing: “Your discussions are shameful, I can see but the enemy. You tire me by squabbling in place of occupying yourselves with the safety of the Republic I repudiate you all as traitors to
our country ! I place you all in the same line !” I said to them : “What care I for my reputation | Let France be free, though my name were accursed ' ' ' What care I that I am called a “blood-drinker '' .
Well, let us drink the blood of the eaemies of humanity, if needful ; but let us struggle, let us achieve freedom. Some fear the departure of the commissioners may weaken one or the other section of this convention. Vain fears l Carry your energy everywhere. The pleasantest declaration will be to announce to the people that the terrible debt weighing upon them will be wrested from their enemies or that the rich will shortly have to pay it. The national situation is cruel. The representatives of value