Jacques Hébert 1793

The Great Joy of Père Duchesne

Source: Le Père Duchesne, No. 264;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2004.

The great joy of Père Duchesne after having seen Marat in a dream, in which he made know to him all the schemers, thieves, and traitors who want to destroy the republic. Their patriotic fucking discussion on the means of saving the Sans Culotterie. The vow of the old furnace merchant to always follow the path of the Friend of the People, despite the daggers and the poison of the statesmen.

I've been all fucked up since the death of Marat. Yes, dammit, ever since the friend of the people is no more, sorrow is painted on the faces of the Sans-Culottes, and joy reigns on the papier machè faces of all the escapees of Coblentz. When meeting, patriots cry and moan: we no longer have a guide, they say, we are like blind men who have lost their canes. While Marat lived we could sleep in peace, for he ceaselessly watched over us; he knew all the traitors and he pursued them wherever they were. Their most secret actions were know to him, and they couldn’t cook up any low blows against the republic without our being warned of it. On their side the aristocrats bless the sacrilegious hand of the infamous Charlotte; they call her the Judith of the Calvados. Her knife, they say, was more useful to us than all the sabers, all the bayonets and all the cannons of Prussia and Austria; from now on we can conspire without fear; we're rid of the cursed Argus who spied out all our actions and never ceased denouncing us.

All of these thoughts trouble my brain, and the memory of Marat follows me without end. Last night I saw him in a dream: his wound was still bleeding, dammit. Upon seeing it I cried. Friend of the people, I shouted, is it you? Yes, good Père Duchesne, it’s Marat who comes from the dead to talk with you, because- dammit — the love of freedom pursues me even beyond the grave. Content to have lost my life for my republic, there only remains to me the regret of not having seen it delivered, before my death, from all the scoundrels who tear away at its breast. Père Duchesne, you must do what I couldn’t do. You closely followed me in the revolution; like me you consecrated you life to the defense of the rights of the people. You speak the language of the Sans Culottes, and your foul mouth, which makes little mistresses faint, sounds beautiful to free men, for free men shouldn’t be sought among the beautiful souls. Your joy and your anger have done more than all the dreams of statesmen. They know this well, the worthless fucks, and that’s why they've persecuted you like they did me. Courage, old man; don’t back off when you suffer the same trials as me, don’t be afraid: is there a more beautiful death than mine? But since you're useful to your fellow citizens, try to avoid the daggers of statesmen. Live a while longer in order to denounce them and to complete, if you can, the task I'd undertaken.

Friend of the People, I said to him, I don’t lack will, dammit; you remember what I said to you on the eve of your death upon seeing you worn out by work: I wanted to share with you my strength and my good health. I have enough, you said, to confound the schemers, as I did with the statesmen. There are still a few in the Convention, there are even some of the Mountain who I'd unmask. Yes, when I can drag myself there I'll again be put under accusation, but the swindlers will be known. These, Marat, were the last words you addressed to me while shaking my hand: they are etched in my memory, dammit, and they'll never leave it.

Yes, Père Duchesne, you have to go after them hammer and tong, and not take it easy on anyone. When three months ago I proposed planting three hundred nooses on the terrace of the Tuileries in order to hang there the perfidious representatives of the people, some took me for a madman, and others as someone thirsty for blood. But nevertheless, if I'd been believed how much bloodshed would have been avoided! More than a million fewer men would have perished! So when I made that proposition I wasn’t speaking as a bloody monster, on the contrary I spoke as a friend of humanity. The moderates have buried more victims than those that fell before the steel of our enemies. Nothing is more harmful in a revolution than half measures. We have finally arrived at the era when we must pare things right down to the bone. The conspirators — whose numbers we stupidly allowed to increase — are on one side, and the patriots on the other. The combat has begun, but it is a combat unto death. No more quarter for the defeated party, because, dammit, if the statesmen had the upper hand for one moment there wouldn’t exist a single patriot in six months. The scoundrels have just proven what they are capable. In Marseilles all the Jacobins were massacred; in Lyons more than a hundred republicans were guillotined by the royalists, the blood of the friends of freedom now flood the streets of Avignon. The statesmen wanted to begin a similar butchery in Paris when they had us arrested- you and I, Père Duchesne — but the worthless bastards don’t know the Sans Culottes of our faubourgs. Such horrors can’t be committed among the men of July 14 and August 10. And so the statesmen have redirected their batteries! Having been able neither to corrupt nor shake the formidable mass of Sans Culottes of Paris, they slandered them in all the departments; they presented them as ferocious beasts that only live off human flesh. The women of the Calvados, Finistère and the Gironde, because of all these lies, scared the children by speaking to them about the ogre Marat, who had become more frightening to imbeciles than a werewolf; but posterity will judge me, Père Duchesne. It will know that he who was so many times accused of being ferocious was the best of humans, that he owned nothing, that he shared the fruit of his waking hours and his labors with the unfortunate, and that he left no other heritage but the good that he did for his fellows. But enough talk about me, let’s think only of the republic.

You have just done something worthy of me by denouncing Custine. You have brought into broad daylight his plots and his treason. If we had waited a few more days to recall him freedom would have been fucked. This infamous rascal, after having had the French in Frankfurt massacred, after having abandoned Mainz, after having allowed Valenciennes to be encircled, after having delivered Condé, only awaited the right moment to lead his army into a slaughter and to deliver the coup de grace to the republic by sacrificing its last resources. Fortunately, the bugger has been put to the side. His crimes have been proved, let his head promptly fall under the national razor, but let his not be the only one! Let all the scoundrels who compose his headquarters also be shortened. Pursue, denounce without rest the infamous Tourville, who was the right arm of Lameth, and who will deliver Maubeuge if we leave him in command. Make known the swindler Lapallière, and especially the ci-devant marquis de Verigni, known in all the gaming houses under the name of Debrulis. Tell the Sans Culottes in the army that this rat has emigrated twice. Don’t forget Leveneur, the intimate friend of Lafayette, and the henchman of Custine. Don’t allow these bandits a moments rest until they've been chased and punished as traitors.

Marat, I will profit from your lessons; yes, dammit, beloved shade, inspire me. I swear to you to brave the daggers and poison and to always follow your example. Eternal war on conspirators, intriguers, and rogues, this is my motto, dammit. That was mine too, the ghost said to me while slipping away from me. Keep you word. Yes, dammit, I will keep it.