Jacques Hébert 1790

Père Duchesne

Source: Père Duchesne, Chez Garnèry, Paris, n.d. [1790];
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2004.

Oh the fucking priests and all they fucking wanted us to believe! It’s absolutely fucking necessary that I tell you this story.

Oh the fucking lowlives that you are, you won’t imprison the Père Duchesne, he’s a fucking good man who goes around with no chain on his neck, and I warn you that he can’t be lied to.

As you well know, my friends, I once worked in the fucking furnaces, and they'd sent me to do this in fucking Versailles, but these last are no longer in service. Since then I've served on the seas, and I'm as fucking happy as a fucking lark. I have reason to be, and I fucking congratulate myself for the happy state I find myself in.

I had just received a small inheritance. That’s fucking great, I said, I'm going to buy some church land in my hometown. It’s from a fucking relative who throws his fucking money at female cousins who aren’t relatives and, fucker that he is, sends the poor away in the same state in which they came. When I have it you'll fucking see: I'll plant and they'll harvest. I can do this, and this would make me and my wife happy.

Let’s go, let’s go to fucking Paris and arrange this. I made up my fucking pack, said good-bye to my wife, and then there I was in a coach.

There I was, and I found in the coach a man with a look, oh fuck me, a fucking horrible look. And this monsieur sets himself to talking to me and says terrible things to me about the National Assembly.

This called for some damn vengeance. I got angry, as I should, and I tell him to go fuck off someplace else.

But wouldn’t you know that this madman would attach himself to me and make me fucking listen to him. He was furious, he swore like an abbot, and he carried on like a devil in a holy fount. Monsieur, I asked him, what mad dog bit you? And what did our respectable Assembly do to you?

What did it do to me, Monsieur, he said to me. What did it do to me? I was a clerk in the gabelles, my grandfather is prior of the Bernardines, my father was subdelegate of an intendant, my uncle first hunting warden in the capitainerie, my brother the squealer was going to be a police officer, the youngest had just bought a nice little benefice, and my sister was kept by a bishop, and you ask me what the Assembly did to me?

Pretty fucking good, I say to him. I understand your affair pretty fucking well. And what do you do now?

I make pamphlets, he tells me.

What, I said. Pamphlets? What kind of fucking trade is that?

Yes, he said, pamphlets that try to win over the people, to make them believe that the Assembly’s decrees harm them, that their good friends the patriots take them down the wrong path, and that they themselves must help us return them to slavery.

Oh I was fucking shaking. I felt the urge to knock out this fucking maker of pamphlets. Nevertheless, I held myself back, and I said to him, let’s see what these fucking pamphlets are.

Here, he said, here’s one called “I'm losing my estate, give me a living.”

What does that mean? I said. Well, he said, what that means is clear; all my family has hit bottom. France is unfortunate enough to no longer have a gabelle, nor Bernardines, nor subdelegates, nor capitaineries, nor squealers, nor people living off benefices, nor bishops who receive a pension of 200 livres. They took all our estates from us and I tell the Assembly to give us a living. You must feel how just this is, and the people should swallow it.

Oh, you villain. I say. I don’t know what’s preventing me from ramming your fucking words down your throat. You must be crazy to think that the people are mad enough to be upset that a bunch of fuckers who lived off them have lost their estates. What are the fucking estates that the National Assembly has destroyed? It was those things that weighed upon the people. According to you, should we have let all the people be pestered by the gabelle for fear of taking their estates from a fucking bunch of fucking brutes? Dammit, let the bastards return to their original trades. They want us to give them a living...Don’t they have two arms to earn a living with themselves? You're a proud fucking beast, my friend. The more you show the people how many have lost their so-called estates, the more you'll prove to them how many rogues there were who lived off them, and the more they'll feel all they won by the revolution.

Ah yes, he said to me. All they have won...Here. Here’s another of my pamphlets entitled: “Who Has Won?” where I prove that far from having won, there’s no one who hasn’t lost.

Of, fuck! I said. Now there’s some fucking beautiful reasoning. What, goddamit? Who wins? I, you fucking liar! All the people in the cities! All the peasants in the countryside! All the honest people of all classes! Salt at two sous, the former nobles and priests subject to the same taxes as us, and this to our relief. No more of those worthless intendants and subdelegates; no more preferential treatment for anyone, no more of this game that ate us; no more bastilles, no more of those prisons where we were buried on the word of a fucking squealer. No other means of getting ahead except merit. Above all, no more of those fucking brigands with red books who cost us so much and prove that the taxes we paid went into the pockets of the fucking do-nothings of the court. If I wanted to spell out all that the people have won I'd never finish. You know this as well as I . Damn but you're a bald-faced liar, and you think we're stupid enough to believe you?

These are big words, he said to me, but commerce is suffering, the workers have less work, and I hope to make them believe that if things were still as they once were they'd be better off.

You're a stinking fuck, I said. But they won’t believe you. They fully understand that the National Assembly isn’t the cause of all this, because on the contrary in the future it will prevent the throwing of our fucking money out the window like it was done. You know full well, you fucking scoundrel, that we were close to bankruptcy and that if we had gone bankrupt all of commerce would have been ruined and all the poor workers without bread, and this is how it would have been forever.

The National Assembly prevented this, the fucking bankruptcy, that in your heart of hearts you desire. It needs a little time to straighten things out. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Nevertheless, you won’t profit by the embarrassment caused by its first moments, and though fucking executioner enemies of the people increase troubles as much as they can in order to accuse the National Assembly and strike it with the blame for the suffering we're going through. Go, you rascal, you won’t make us believe this. We know that the goods of the fucking clergy that we're going to sell, and that I just bought a piece of, will prevent bankruptcy. We know that the money will reappear and that everyone will be happy, except the fucking bandits like you. We know this and we'll make fucking toilet paper of your stupid pamphlets.

He wanted to respond to me, but in my anger I gave him the fucking hardest slap that the fucking face of a rascal ever received, and I got out at the Port Saint-Bernard.