Saint-Just 1793

Report On the Incarcerated

Translated: from the original for by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2005.

I dare say that the republic will soon flourish if the people and its representatives have the principal influence, and if the sovereignty of the people is purged of the aristocrats and accountants who appear to have usurped it in order to acquire impunity. Is there any hope for justice when the evil-doers have the power to condemn their judges? ...Let nothing evil be pardoned or unpunished in the government. Justice is more redoubtable to enemies of the republic than terror alone. How many traitors have escaped the terror who won’t escape the justice that weighs crime in its hands! Justice condemns to eternal slavery the enemies of the people and the partisans of tyranny among us. Terror allows them to hope for an end, for, as you have seen, all tempests have a term. Justice condemns functionaries to probity; justice renders the people happy and consolidates the new order of things. Terror is an arm that cuts both ways, which some have used to avenge the people and others to serve tyranny. Terror filled the jails, but we didn’t punish the guilty. Terror passed over like a storm. Don’t expect lasting severity from the character of the public, rather from the force of institutions. A fearsome calm always follows our storms, and we are always as indulgent after terror as before.

The authors of this depravity are the indulgent, who don’t take the trouble to demand accounts for fear of being asked for this themselves. Thus, by a tacit transaction between all vices the fatherland finds itself sacrificed to the interests of each, instead of all private interests being sacrificed to the fatherland.

Marat had several good ideas on representative government that I regret he took with him; only he could have expressed them. Only necessity will allow us to hear it from the mouth of another.

A revolution has been made in the government, but it didn’t penetrate the civil state. Government rests on liberty, the civil state on the aristocracy, which forms an intermediary level between the people and you: can you remain far from the people, your only friends?

Force the intermediaries into a rigorous respect for the national representatives, for the people. If these principles could be adopted our fatherland would be happy and Europe would soon be at our feet.

For how long will we be dupes, both of out internal enemies (through misplaced indulgence), and our external enemies, whose projects we encourage through our weakness.

Spare the aristocracy and you prepare fifty years of troubles for yourselves. Dare! This word contains the entire policy of our government.

The foreigner wants to reign here through discord; suffocate him by imprisoning our enemies and their partisans. Render war for war: our enemies can’t resist us for long. They make war in order to destroy each other. Pitt wants to destroy the house of Austria; Austria that of Prussia; all of them Spain; and this horrible and false alliance wants to destroy the republics of Europe.

As for you: destroy the rebel party, harden liberty; avenge the patriot victims of intrigue; place common sense and modesty on the order of the day; don’t allow there to be either unfortunates or any poor in the state. It’s only at this price that you will have a true revolution and republic. Who would be grateful to you for the unhappiness of the good and the happiness of the evil?