Louis XVI. to His Subjects
The European Magazine, XIII (February 1793), pp. 153-154
Alas! my people, what is then my fault,
On truth and justice still my mind was bent:
Your happiness was all the good I sought,
But now you drag me forth to punishment.
Ah! sons of France, did not your native earth
Behold your Louis first with life indu'd;
One sky, with yours, has witnessed to my birth,
Your prattling infants me an infant view'd.
Alas, my people, am I doom'd to bear
From you such sorrow, such afflicting pains?
To give you freedom was your Monarch's care,
And now my recompence is cruel chains.
While yet a youth, in me the French confess'd
Their rising hope, their tutelary guide:
Ere yet my hand the regal sceptre press'd,
To you my love a father's care supplied.
When on this throne I took my envy'd place,
A throne for Louis from his birth design'd;
My first decree was deem'd an act of grace,
A tribute to the wishes of mankind.
Good Henry, long so dear to every breast,
Sometimes might Error's devious path pursue;
But Louis still to Virtue friend profess'd,
Nor loves illicit sought, nor favourites knew.
Oh! name them—name the subjects whom to death
My hand has sentenc'd in a cruel hour;
One day beheld more Frenchmen yield their breath,
Than all my twenty years of kingly power.
But if my life to fix your peace avails,
Receive the blood which freely I bestow;
Your loving king, while he your fault bewails,
Dies innocent, and pardons you the blow.
Alas! my people, take this last adieu;
Be happy, and with life I gladly part.
O may the blood that shall your hands imbrue,
Quench all the hatred in my people's heart!