Jean-Paul Marat 1791

The Flight of the Royal Family

Source: L'Ami du Peuple No. 497, June 22, 1791;
Translated: for by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2004.

The farewell to the Fatherland by the Friend of the People if the Parisians reject his final advice.


Citizens, the flight of the royal family was prepared from afar by the traitors of the National Assembly and above all by the Committees of Investigation and of Reports. In order to pass intelligence between the counter-revolutionary commandants of Alsace and Lorraine and the fugitive Capets and the Austrians, it was necessary to crush the patriotic party. These infamous committees have perpetually imposed upon you the authors of the troubles in Haguenau, Colmar and Wissembourg, etc. In order to fool you there is no variety of trickery that Broglio, Reignier, Noailles, Voidel and other scoundrels haven’t committed. So it is the National Assembly that prepared the success of the invasion of its provinces, or rather who opened the frontiers of the Kingdom to its enemies. At the same time, in order to come to terms with the enemies of the revolution – the headquarters of the departments – the Parisian general, by his machinations, did all he could to paralyze the national forces and put them in the hands of the King.

Citizens, friends of the Fatherland, you are reaching the moment of your ruin. I won’t waste time raining down upon you vain reproaches for the misfortune you have brought down on your own heads by your blind confidence and your fatal sense of security. Let us only think about your salvation.

There is only one means left to pull you back from the precipice to which your unworthy chiefs have led you, and that’s to immediately name a military tribune, a supreme dictator, to put down the principal known traitors. You will find yourself lost without any resources if you lend an ear to your present chiefs, who will never cease cajoling you and lulling you to sleep, until the day the enemy arrives before your walls. Let the Tribune be named today. Let your choice fall upon the citizen who has, until this day, shown the most enlightenment, zeal and fidelity. Swear to him an inviolable devotion and obey him religiously in all he commands you in order to shed yourselves of your mortal enemies.

The moment has arrived to make fall the heads of the ministers and their subalterns, of Mottié, of all the scoundrels at headquarters and all the anti-patriotic battalion commanders, of Bailly, of all the counter-revolutionary municipal officers, of all traitors in the National Assembly. Begin by assuring yourselves of their persons, if there’s still time[1]. Seize the moment to destroy the organization of the National Guard that destroyed freedom. In these moments of crisis and alarm, you have been abandoned by all of your officers. What need have you of these cowards who hide themselves in the moment of danger, and who only show themselves in times of calm in order to insult and mistreat patriotic soldiers and to betray the Fatherland? You should immediately send messengers out to the departments asking for reinforcements, call the Bretons to your assistance, take over the arsenal, disarm the alguazils on horseback, the guards at the gates, the hunters at barriers. Be ready to avenge your rights, to defend your freedom, and to destroy your implacable enemies.

A tribune, a military tribune, or you are lost without resources! Up to the present I have done everything in human power to save you. If you neglect this salutary advice, the only one left to me to give you, then I have nothing more to say to you, and I take my leave of you forever. In a few days Louis XVI, taking again the despot’s throne, in an insolent manifesto will treat you as rebels if you don’t head off the yoke. He will advance on your walls at the head of all the fugitives, of all the discontented, and Austrian legions will block your way! One hundred cannon mouths will threaten to bring down your city with fiery cannon balls if you put up the least resistance, while Mottié, at the head of the German hussars, and perhaps the alguazils of the Parisian army, will disarm you. All among you who are fervent patriots will be arrested; the people’s writers will be dragged into the dungeons, and the Friend of the People, whose last breath will be for the Fatherland, and whose faithful voice still calls you to freedom, will have as a burning oven for a tomb. A few more days of indecision and there will be no more time to come out of your lethargy. Death will surprise you in the arms of sleep.

1. I wager you a thousand that Mottié, all the informers of headquarters, and all the anti-patriotic battalion commanders have fled with the king.