Jean-Paul Marat 1792
Source: Journal de la Republique Française, No. 1;
Translated: for Marxists.org by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2004.
From the instant I dedicated myself to the fatherland, I have been unceasingly covered with disgust and bitterness. My cruelest chagrin was, not to be the target of assassins, but to see a mass of sincere but credulous patriots permit themselves perfidious insinuations concerning my intention, the atrocious calumnies of the enemies of freedom; and to have them oppose themselves to the good I can do. For a long time my slanderers presented me as a traitor who sold his pen to all parties. Thousands of writings distributed around the capital and the departments propagated these impostures. They faded away upon seeing me equally attack all the anti-popular parties, for the people — whose cause I've always defended at the risk of my life — never bribes its defenders.
I broke this murderous arm in the hands of my slanderers, but they only stopped accusing me of venality in order to accuse me of rage; cowards, the blind, scoundrels and traitors have joined together to depict me as a complete madman, an invective that the Encyclopedist charlatans used on the author of the Social Contract. Three hundred predictions proved by the facts of the revolution have avenged me for these insults; the defeats at Tournai, Mons, Courtrai; the massacre of Dillon, of..., of Semonville; the emigration of almost all the officers of the line; the attempts to poison the camp at Soissons; the successive firings of Mottiè, of Luckner and of Montesquiou have put a seal on my sorrowful presages, and the mad patriot now passes for a prophet.
What remained for the enemies of the fatherland to do in order to take from me the confidence of my fellow citizens? To attribute to me ambitious views by denaturing my opinions on the need for a military tribune, of a dictator or a triumvirate to punish the plottersprotected by the legislative body, the government and the tribunals who were accomplices till now; or rather portraying me as the front man of an ambitious faction composed of the most ardent patriots of the empire. Absurd imputations! These are personal opinions of mine, and I've often reproached the ardent patriots for rejecting this salutary measure, whose indispensable necessity is felt by everyone knowledgeable in the history of revolutions; a measure that can be taken with no inconvenience by limiting its duration to a few days and in limiting the mission of the officials in charge of the punishment of plotters. No one in the world is more revolted than I by the establishment of an arbitrary authority, even one confided to the hands of the purest for a certain period. In any event, it was in a spirit of civic obligation, of philanthropy, of humanity that I believed I had to advise this severe measure, demanded by the salvation of the empire. If I advised bringing down 500 heads it was in order to save 500,000 innocent ones. Had it only been taken in time our fields wouldn’t be full of widows and orphans reduced to despair; famine and poverty wouldn’t have desolated the state for four consecutive years; it wouldn’t be disturbed by factions or torn apart by barbarous hordes of enemies, after suffering this for so long from its denatured children.
As for the ambitious views I've been accused of, here is my only response: I want neither position nor pension. If I accepted the place of deputy in the National Convention it was in the hope of more effectively serving the fatherland...My only ambition is to assist in saving the people: let it be free and happy and all my wishes will be fulfilled.
Despotism has been destroyed and royalty abolished, but their henchmen aren’t defeated; the intriguers, the ambitious, the traitors, the plotters are still plotting against the fatherland; freedom still has many enemies. In order to see it triumph their projects must be uncovered, their plots must be unmasked, their intrigues must be foiled. They must be unmasked and repressed in our camps, in our sections, our municipalities, our Directories, our tribunals, in the National Convention itself. How can we arrive at this if the friends of the fatherland don’t agree among themselves, if they don’t unite their efforts? They all think we can defeat evil without any effort. So be it; I am ready to take the road judged effective by the defenders of the people, I must march with them. Sacred love of the fatherland, I've consecrated to you my waking hours and my rest, my days and all the faculties of my being. I immolate to you all my prejudices, my resentment, my hatred at the sight of attacks by the enemies of freedom, at the sight of their outrages against its children. I must stifle in my breast if I can the feelings of indignation that will arise there; I will hear without surrendering to rage the tales of the massacre of the elderly and children slaughtered by cowardly assassins; I will witness the maneuvers of the traitors to the fatherland without calling down on their criminal heads the sword of justice of popular revenge. Divinities of pure souls, grant me the strength to carry out this vow; never shall my pride or obstinacy lead me to approve the measures prescribed by wisdom; make me triumph over the impulses of feeling, and if transports of indignation should one day push me beyond the limits and compromise public salvation, let me die of pain before I can commit this fault.
The journal of the Friend of the People is too will known for me to give a detailed prospectus of the paper that replaces it. The unveiling of plots, the unmasking of traitors, the defense of the rights of the people, giving an account of the work of the Convention, following its march. Recalling to principles those of its members of stray from them, and consecrating my lights on the new constitution that will be given to France: this is the object of this journal.