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MAXIMILIEN ISIDORE DE ROBESPIERRE
and me. Tyranny must have tools. But the enemies of tyranny,– whither does their path tend ? To the tomb and to immortality! What tyrant is my protector ? To what faction do I belong? Yourselves ! What faction, since the beginning of the Revolution, has crushed and annihilated so many detected traitors? You—the people, our principles, -are that faction! A faction to which I am devoted, and against which all the scoundrelism of the day is banded !
The confirmation of the Republic has been my object; and I know that the Republic can be established only on the eternal basis of morality. Against me, and against those who hold kindred principles, the league is formed. My life? O! my life I abandon without a regret! I have seen the past; and I foresee the future. What friend of his country would wish to survive the moment he could no longer serve it,-when he could no longer defend innocence against oppression ? Wherefore should I continue in an order of things where intrigue eternally triumphs over truth; where justice is mocked ; where passions the most abject, or fears the most absurd, override the sacred interests of humanity?
In witnessing the multitude of vices which the torrent of the Revolution has rolled in turbid communion with its civic virtues, I confess that I have sometimes feared that I should be sullied, in the eyes of posterity, by the impure neighborhood of unprincipled men, who had thrust themselves into association with the sincere friends of humanity; and I rejoice that these conspirators against my country have now, by their reckless rage, traced deep the line of demarcation between themselves and all true men.
Question history, and learn how all the defenders of liberty, in all times, have been overwhelmed by calumny. But their traducers died also. The good and the bad disappear alike from the earth ; but in very different conditions. O, Frenchmen! O, my countrymen! Let not your enemies, with their desolating doctrines, degrade your souls, and enervate your virtues ! No, Chaumette,* no! Death is not" an eternal sleep"! Citizens ! efface from the tomb that motto, graven by sacrilegious hands, which spreads over all nature a funeral crape, takes from oppressed inno. cence its support, and affronts the beneficent dispensation of death! Inscribe rather thereon these words : “Death is the commencement of immortality!" I leave to the oppressors of the people a terrible testament, which I proclaim with the independence befitting one whose career is so nearly ended ; it is the awful truth, -"Thou shalt die!"
* Chaumette was a member of the Convention, who was opposed to the public recognition of a God and the future state.
TWO ILLUSTRIOUS FRENCH ORATORS LAMARTINE AND FENELON
Nineteenth Century Orators of France
HE history of France in recent times has been
unique and highly interesting. Nowhere else
in history can be found the record of a country that had four political revolutions, each followed by a transformation in the government, within a century.
Such has been the case in France. The unparalleled revolution of 1789 was followed by feebler copies in 1830, 1848 and 1871, a republic following the monarchy in three of these cases, while a change of dynasty took place in the second.
Here was abundant political change, uprooting of old institutions, exposure of administrative abuses, radical variations in conditions. In all this there was abundant occasion for oratory, and that of the most strenuous character. The type of eloquence to which the first revolution gave occasion we have already shown. That of the succeeding ones was less vehement. Only one orator of recent France can be named who in any sense compares in character with those of the age of Mirabeau. This is Victor Hugo, whose assaults on “Napoleon the Little” were as cutting and virulent as the most unbridled diatribes of the days of the guillotine. As a rule, however, the nineteenth century oratory of France was in a quieter and more classical vein, some of the most famous and polished orators winning their reputation on non-political issues. As regards the leaders in political oratory-Lamartine, Thiers, Gambetta and others--those, while vigorous and aggressive in tone, were of a far milder type than the fiery orators of the previous century or the indignant and incisive Hugo of their own.
VICTOR COUSIN (1792-1867)
HE Sorbonne, a famous college at Paris of ancient institution,
possessed in the early part of the nineteenth century three
lecturers of wide fame, Cousin, Guizot and Villemain, the former two in especial having a world-wide reputation. Cousin was appointed to the chair of philosophy in 1815, and for a number of years delivered eloquent and popular lectures to large audiences, his lectures displaying an admirable combination of sensibility, imagination and reason." His popularity was immense, but his liberal opinions caused him to be deprived of his professorship in 1820, though he was replaced in 1828. His lectures, which were prepared with the care of those of Demosthenes and Cicero in the past, of Ruskin, Emerson and others in the present age, were published in book form, one series of them being on “ The True, the Beautiful and the Good.” He wrote various other works, developing an eclectic system of philosophy of high estimation. After the revolution of 1830, Cousin, like Guizot, entered upon a political career, and for a time, in 1810, was Minister of Public Instruction. His speeches in the Chambers displayed superior powers of oratory. He took no part in public affairs after the Revolution of 1848.
SUPREMACY OF THE ART OF POETRY [The following eloquent passage, in which the claim of poetry to supremacy over its sister arts is effectively presented, is from one of Cousin’s lectures on “The True, the Beautiful and the Good.”]
The art par excellence, that which surpasses all others, because it is incomparably the most expressive, is poetry.
Speech is the instrument of poetry ; poetry fashions it to its use, and idealizes it, in order to make it express ideal beauty. Poetry gives to it the charm and power of measure; is makes of it something intermediary