Printer-friendly versionSend by email
The Fall of Robespierre, Edited by Daniel E. White

The Fall of Robespierre

Newspapers

Barrere.

The tempest gathers–be it mine to seek
A friendly shelter, ere it bursts upon him. (1.1-2)
 

In the midst of this tempest, it is surprizing that Barrere should have escaped the public fury. (MP, 16 August)

"The Storm," he added, "gathers in the horizon; — The Tempest approaches nearer ..." (FFBJ, 23 August)

The Fall of Robespierre

Legendre.

            ... if but to-morrow's fateful sun
Beholds the Tyrant living–we are dead! (1.48-49)

Newspapers

Tallien took the Chair, and Collot d'Herbois, the President, invited his colleagues in the Committees of Public and General Safety to follow him, that the sun might not go down before the heads of the traitors should fall." (MC, 18 August)

The Fall of Robespierre

Tallien.

... Hear ye that outcry?–If the trembling members
Even for a moment hold his fate suspended,
I swear by the holy poniard, that stabbed Caesar,
This dagger probes his heart! (1.272-75)

 

Newspapers

  

Tallien.–"I invoke the shade of the virtuous Brutus, [fixing his eyes upon the bust.]–Like him, I have a poignard to rid my country of the tyrant, if the Convention do not deliver him to the sword of justice." (MC, 18 August; cf. Times, 18 August, and FFBJ, 23 August)

The Fall of Robespierre

Barrere.

I have long mark'd thee, Robespierre–and now
Proclaim thee traitor–tyrant!

(Loud applauses.)

 (2.55-56)

Newspapers

   

Billaud Varennes–"... I proclaim–I proclaim the tyranny of Roberspierre!"–(Loud and repeated bursts of applause resounded from all parts of the Hall). (MC, 18 August; cf. FFBJ, 23 August)

The Fall of Robespierre

Robespierre, Junior.

Barrere–attempt not meanly to divide
Me from my brother. I partake his guilt,
For I partake his virtue. (2.106-108)

Newspapers

   

Robespierre, the younger–"I am as guilty as my brother. I partake of his virtues. I therefore desire to be included in the decree of arrest." (Times, 18 August)

The Fall of Robespierre

Dubois CrancE.

                            ... Tell me, bloody man,
Hast thou not parcell'd out deluded France,
As it had been some province won in fight,
Between your curst triumvirate. You, Couthon,
Go with my brother to the southern plains;
St. Just, be yours the army of the north;
Meantime I rule at Paris. (2.143-49)

Newspapers

Barrere, ..."The Republic was parcelled out among the Triumvirate and the Commune. St. Just was to go with full powers to the army of the North; Couthon and Roberspierre the younger, to the armies of the South; Roberspierre the elder was to reign at Paris." (MC, 20 August)

    Freron.–"These men wished to form a triumvirate which would recall the bloody proscriptions of Sylla; the triumvirs would have been Robespierre, St. Just and Couthon. (Times, 18 August)

The Fall of Robespierre

St. Just.

I come from the committee–charged to speak
Of matters of high import. I omit
Their orders. Representatives of France,
Boldly in his own person speaks St. Just
What his own heart shall dictate. (2.172-76)

 

Newspapers

   

Saint Just.–"... Your Committees of General and Public Safety, have charged me to make a report on the causes of the evident perversion of opinion; but I mean to address myself to you, only in my own name"— (MC, 18 August; cf. Times, 18 August)

The Fall of Robespierre

Freron .

Inviolate be the sacred right of man,
The freedom of debate. (2.194-95)

Newspapers

  

Freron.–"The moment when liberty is revived, is that when the freedom of opinions is re-established." (MC, 18 August; cf. Times, 18 August)

The Fall of Robespierre

St. Just.

I am of no one faction. I contend
Against all factions.


Tallien.

                                          I espouse the cause
Of truth. Robespierre on yester morn pronounced
Upon his own authority a report.
To-day St. Just comes down. St. Just neglects
What the committee orders, and harangues
From his own will. O citizens of France
I weep for you–I weep for my poor country–
I tremble for the cause of Liberty,
When individuals shall assume the sway,
And with more insolence than kingly pride
Rule the republic.

 

 

 

Billaud Varennes.

Shudder, ye representatives of France,
Shudder with horror. Henriot commands
The marshall'd force of Paris. Henriot,
Foul parricide–the sworn ally of Hebert
Denounced by all–upheld by Robespierre.
Who spar'd La Valette? who promoted him,Stain'd with the deep die of nobility?
Who to an ex-peer gave the high command?
Who screen'd from justice the rapacious thief?
Who cast in chains the friends of Liberty?
Robespierre, the self-stil'd patriot Robespierre–
Robespierre, allied with villain Daubignè
Robespierre, the foul arch tyrant Robespierre.










Bourdon l'Oise.

He talks of virtue–of morality–
Consistent patriot! he Daubignè's friend!
Henriot's supporter virtuous! preach of virtue,
Yet league with villains, for with Robespierre
Villains alone ally. Thou art a tyrant!
I stile thee tyrant Robespierre!

(Loud applauses.)


Robespierre.

Take back the name. Ye citizens of France–

(Violent clamour. Cries of–Down with the Tyrant!)




Tallien. Oppression falls. The traitor stands appall'd–
Guilt's iron fangs engrasp his shrinking soul–
He hears assembled France denounce his crimes!
He sees the mask torn from his secret sins––
He trembles on the precipice of fate.
Fall'n guilty tyrant! murder'd by thy rage
How many an innocent victim's blood has stain'd
Fair freedom's altar! Sylla-like thy hand
Mark'd down the virtues, that, thy foes removed,
Perpetual Dictator thou might'st reign,
And tyrannize o'er France, and call it freedom!
Long time in timid guilt the traitor plann'd
His fearful wiles–success emboldened sin–
And his stretch'd arm had grasp'd the diadem
Ere now, but that the coward's heart recoil'd,
Lest France awak'd, should rouse her from her dream,
And call aloud for vengeance. He, like Caesar, With rapid step urged on his bold career,
Even to the summit of ambitious power,
And deem'd the name of King alone was wanting.
Was it for this we hurl'd proud Capet down?
Is it for this we wage eternal war
Against the tyrant horde of murderers,
The crowned cockatrices whose foul venom
Infects all Europe? was it then for this
We swore to guard our liberty with life,
That Robespierre should reign? the spirit of freedom
Is not yet sunk so low. The glowing flame
That animates each honest Frenchman's heart
Not yet extinguish'd. I invoke thy shade,
Immortal Brutus! I too wear a dagger;
And if the representatives of France,
Through fear or favor should delay the sword
Of justice, Tallien emulates thy virtues;
Tallien, like Brutus, lifts the avenging arm;
Tallien shall save his country.

(Violent applauses.)

(2.211-79)

Newspapers

 

   Saint Just.–"I am of no faction, I will contend against them all ..." (MC, 18 August; cf. Times, 18 August)

 

   Tallien.–"The Orator has set out with telling you that he is of no party: I likewise espouse only the side of truth. Yesterday, a Member of the Government (Roberspierre) presented you a report upon his own authority. To-day, another Member comes to speak to you in his own name. No good Citizen can refrain from lamenting, with tears, the abject and calamitous state to which the Republic is reduced, when individuals thus pretend to dictate to you in their own name, and upon their own authority." (MC, 18 August; cf. Times, 18 August)

 

 

   Billaud Varennes–"You will shudder with horror when you are apprized that the armed force of Paris is entrusted into parricidal hands. Henriot was denounced by the Revolutionary Tribunal as an accomplice of Hebert. What was the consequence? One man alone had the audacity to support him. Need I name who that individual was?–Roberspierre. Lavalette, one of the Chiefs of the armed force, the only Noble who has been retained in a military trust, sharpens the poignards intended to inflict a fatal blow on the Representatives of the People: under whose auspices has he been protected?–Roberspierre's ... I accuse him of having skreened from justice, a Secretary who had robbed the public of 40,000 livres.–Such is the foundation on which stands his pretensions to disinterestedness, which were only assumed to conceal the deep-laid projects of his ambition, and to deceive those whom he afterwards meant to enslave. I accuse him of being surrounded by a band of ruffians, among whom it is only necessary to mention the infamous name of Daubigny. With all his affectation of probity, such were the associates whom alone he could admit into his confidence, or trust for the completion of his designs. I proclaim–I proclaim the tyranny of Roberspierre!"–(Loud and repeated bursts of applause resounded from all parts of the Hall).–Roberspierre attempted to speak, but after different efforts, found himself obliged to desist, in consequence of the most vociferous exclamations from every quarter, of Down with the Tyrant! Down with the Tyrant!" (MC, 18 August; cf. Times, 18 August, and FFBJ, 23 August)


    Tallien–"I just now observed, that we must undraw the veil. I now see with pleasure that it is so: that the conspirators are unmasked, and that they will soon be annihilated–(Loud applauses.) Every thing bespeaks that the enemy of the National Representation is about to fall. In the house of that guilty man, who now stands humbled with the consciousness of detected guilt, and overwhelmed with that disapprobation which his infamous designs against liberty have so justly merited, were formed those lists of proscription which have stained with so much blood the altars of rising liberty: imitating the example of the detestable Sylla, his proscriptions were intended only to pave the way for his own power, and the establishment of a perpetual Dictatorship: happily, however, his designs have been discovered before he had time to execute them, or to add to that stream of blood which has already deluged France. His long success in villainy made him at last lay aside his wonted caution. He had advanced with such rapidity in the career of lawless ambition, that he already conceived himself arrived at the accomplishment of his wishes, and that, like Caesar, the name of King was only wanting to him, for the full establishment of his power. Was it to subject ourselves to so degrading, and so abject a tyranny, that we brought to the scaffold the last of the Capets, and lavished so much blood of French Citizens? Was it in order to acknowledge so petty a despot, that we declared eternal war against Kings, and swore to establish liberty at the price of life? No–the spirit of freedom has not sunk so low; the sense of that duty which virtuous men owe to their country is not yet extinguished. I invoke the shade of the virtuous Brutus, [fixing his eyes upon the bust.) Like him, I have a poniard to rid my country of the tyrant, if the Convention do not deliver him to the sword of justice. (Times, 18 August; cf. MC, 18 August, and FFBJ, 23 August)

The Fall of Robespierre

Billaud Varennes.

                                                              I demand The arrest of all the traitors. Memorable
Will be this day for France.

 

Robespierre.

                                                 Yes! Memorable
This day will be for France––for villains triumph.


Lebas.

I will not share in this day's damning guilt.
Condemn me too. (2.279-84)

Newspapers

 

 

  Le Bas.–"I will not join in the guilt of this vote. I demand also to be arrested."

 

  Freron.–"This day will be ever memorable in the annals of Liberty, and our country."

  Robespierre–"And so it will, for knaves are triumphant." (Times, 18 August)

The Fall of Robespierre

Tallien.

                          ... I propose
This sitting be made permanent. (3.17-18)

Newspapers

 

   Tallien.–"... I move, that we declare the Sitting Permanent." (MC, 18 August; cf. Times, 18 August, and FFBJ, 23 August)

The Fall of Robespierre

Merlin.

I past this moment through the armed force–They ask'd my name–and when they heard a delegate,
Swore I was not the friend of France. (3.28-31)

Newspapers

   Goupilleau the Elder–"On coming from the Committee of General Safety, I found the Antichamber filled with Citizens bearing a three coloured cord. I asked what they did there. One of them enquired who I was. I said a Representative of the People. Then, said he, "I despise you." (MC, 18 August; cf. Times, 18 August)

The Fall of Robespierre

Third Messenger.

                                       ... Henriot leads
The soldiers to his aid.––Already I hear
The rattling cannon destin'd to surround
This sacred hall.
 

Tallien.

                                    Why, we will die like men then.

The representatives of France dare death,
When duty steels their bosoms.

(Loud applauses.)

 

Tallien addressing the galleries.

                                                                   Citizens!
France is insulted in her delegates–
The majesty of the republic is insulted–
Tyrants are up in arms. An armed force
Threats the Convention. The Convention swears
To die, or save the country!

(Violent applauses from the galleries.)
 

Citizen from above.

                                                        We too swear
To die, or save the country. Follow me.

(All the men quit the galleries.)

(3.36-47)
 

Newspapers


   Billaud Varennes–"... A company of cannoneers, misled by the wretch Hanriot, wanted to direct their cannon against the Convention, but the armed force opposed them. We must take vigorous measures, and, if necessary, die at our posts (Yes, exclaimed all the Members, we will die at our posts; and the Galleries loudly applauded.)–... (MC, 18 August; cf. Times, 18 August)
















   Collot d'Herbois, the President.–"Armed men have surrounded and taken possession of the Committee of General Safety" (the Citizens who filled the Galleries and a part of the Hall, cried out, Let us go thither! and immediately set out amid the applauses of the Members). (MC, 18 August; cf. Times 18 August)

The Fall of Robespierre

Fourth Messenger.

Henriot is taken!–

(Loud applauses.)

Henriot is taken. Three of your brave soldiers
Swore they would seize the rebel slave of tyrants,
Or perish in the attempt. As he patroll'd
The streets of Paris, stirring up the mob,
They seiz'd him.

(Applauses.)

(3.48-55)

 

Newspapers

 

   Dubarrau announced that Hanriot was taken. (MC, 18 August; cf. Times, 18 August)



   Merlin of Thionville.–"... Hanriot, in the mean time, was carrying terror and confusion through various parts of the city. Five Gens d'Armes took the generous resolution of apprehending him. They set out, met him, and took him and his myrmidons prisoners. (Loud applauses.) (MC, 18 August; cf. Times, 18 August)

The Fall of Robespierre

Enter Bourdon l'Oise sword in hand.

Bourdon l'Oise.

I have clear'd the Commune.

(Applauses.)

                                Through the throng I rush'd,
Brandishing my good sword to drench its blade
Deep in the tyrant's heart. The timid rebels
Gave way. (3.55-58)

Newspapers



   Leonard–Bourdon ascended the Tribune, after leave given, with a Gens d'Arme by his side.–"...I went to assemble forces to attack the Hall of the Commune. We advanced upon it in several columns. At our approach the deluded citizens saw their error, and the cowards fled. (MC, 18 August; cf. Times, 18 August)

The Fall of Robespierre

Tallien.

... France shall be saved! her generous sons attached
To principles, not persons, spurn the idol
They worshipp'd once. Yes, Robespierre shall fall
As Capet fell! Oh! never let us deem
That France shall crouch beneath a tyrant's throne,
That the almighty people who have broke
On their oppressors heads the oppressive chain,
Will court again their fetters! easier were it
To hurl the cloud-capt mountain from its base,
Than force the bonds of slavery upon men
Determined to be free! (3.66-76)

Newspapers

   Tallien.–"...The French people, always just, are attached neither to Roberspierre, nor to any other individual–Liberty is alone the object of their affections, and whoever forms any designs against it, becomes that moment their enemy. (MC, 18 August; cf. Times, 18 August, and FFBJ, 23 August)

Collot.–"... the French will all die sooner than treat with tyranny. The French people never will have a tyrant." (Times, 18 August)

... The People are always just in their judgments; their wish is Liberty, and they love none but those who defend it. The less they shall idolize individuals, the more constant will they be in their love for their country. The more precarious the reputations of individuals shall appear, the more firmly will public liberty be established. Whoever renders himself powerful enough to attempt to set himself above the law; ought, in every one of his fellow-citizens, to find a Brutus. The overbearing influence of a single man, is the most dangerous scourge of a Republic. (MC, 18 August; cf. Times 18, August)

The Fall of Robespierre

Enter LegendreA pistol in one hand. Keys in the other.

Legendre. Flinging down the keys.

So–let the mutinous Jacobins meet now
In the open air.

(Loud applauses.)

 ... Vivier has 'scap'd me. Curse his coward heart–
This fate-fraught tube of Justice in my hand
I rush'd into the hall. He mark'd mine eye
That beam'd its patriot anger, and flash'd full
With death-denouncing meaning. 'Mid the throng
He mingled. I pursued–but staid my hand,
Lest haply I might shed the innocent blood.

(Applauses.)

(3.77-89)

 

Newspapers

 

 

 

   Legendre.–"As I went from this Tribune, I took with me ten resolute Patriots. My intention was to go and blow out the brains of the man who presided yesterday and to day in the Jacobin Club. With a double pistol in my hand I entered the Hall, but the wretch, whose name was Vivier, had mixed with the crowd. I said to the women in the galleries, "You are misled; begone, the Convention punishes guilt not error." I shut the gates of the hall; here are the keys. (MC, 18 August; cf. Times 18 August)

The Fall of Robespierre

Freron.

They took from me my ticket of admission–
Expell'd me from their sittings.–Now, forsooth,
Humbled and trembling re-insert my name.
But Freron enters not the club again
'Till it be purg'd of guilt–'till, purified
Of tyrants and of traitors, honest men
May breathe the air in safety. (3.90-96)

Newspapers

 

   Brival gave an account of his having been questioned in the Jacobin Club respecting the decree against the Traitors, and expelled for approving of that decree. The Club had since rescinded the expulsion and sent him back his card of admission, which he would not take till the Club should be regenerated. (MC, 18 August; cf. Times, 18 August)

About this Page

Published @ RC

March 2008

City

Country

Continent