Jean-Paul Marat 1792
First Published: September 2, 1792;
Source: F. Chevremont, Les Placards de Marat. Chez l'auteur, Paris, 1877;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2004.
A short while after the taking of the Bastille, having to combat the Paris Municipality, which had risen up against the boldness of my censures, – I declared to it that I was the eye of the people, and that I believed my pen more necessary to freedom than an army of 100,000 men. The immense sums that the knaves at the helm of affairs have squandered in order to prevent the circulation of my writings and to destroy their influence have justified this opinion only too well.
I have written three works judged of the greatest utility in the current conjuncture, as much for preparing the labors of the National Convention as for forming the public spirit and breathing into all hearts the sacred fire of freedom; for enlightening the nation on its rights and on the artifices employed by faithless representatives to return them to the yoke, on the means of halting the disorders of anarchy, stopping the course of machinations, and finally establishing the reign of justice. Their appearance only awaits the funds needed for their publication, for I have already obtained, or rather conquered, a national printing press. They should have been granted me from the 100,000 livres put at the disposition of the minister of the Interior for those writers who work at public instruction.
I had flattered myself that sir Roland, so hasty in favoring crackpots and bores, those scribblers devoted to his orders, would eagerly seize the occasion that I furnished him to honor himself in the eyes of the nation by a judicious and truly civic-minded use of that sum, especially after he compromised himself by setting up an aristocratic printing press, for it is nearly certain that he furnished the Reigner Brothers, printers of the Cercle Social, seven presses.
What did the good man do? He didn’t directly reject my request, but he put forward a thousand ministerial pretexts. Pressed by Fréron to collaborate in the publication of my patriotic writings he seemed to cede for a moment. And Roland’s wife, who guides affairs under her director Lanthenas, agreed with Fréron to put an end to any difficulties by having my section support my request for the absolution of her husband by his Brissotin colleagues. In this regard, on the 28th of last month the General Assembly of the Marseilles section issued a decree naming six commissioners to deliver her wishes to the minister of the Interior, a decision as honorable for the Friend of the People as for the ministerial automaton. Fréron being absent, Danton gave it to Roland, renewing his entreaty. Roland took it to the executive council which, to cover up its malice, decided to send my manuscripts, which were in the hands of the minister of the Interior, to the section for its examination. This meant putting me off indefinitely, or rather till the Final Judgment, given the length of my works and the multiplicity of affairs with which my section is burdened.
Since I don’t like to waste my time waiting around, I now break with Roland and address myself to you , Louis-Philippe d'Orleans, you who the heavens have graced with the gifts of fortune; you to whom nature gave as his share the soul of a simple citizen; you to whom wisdom has given the heart of a candid patriot. For, how can it be hidden: in the current state of affairs you can only find your salvation with the Sans-Culottes.
You are their emulator; be their benefactor. In the name of the fatherland collaborate today in the spreading of the enlightenment necessary to public salvation by furnishing the Friend of the People the means to bring his works to light without delay. The modest sum of 15,000 livres will suffice for the purchase of paper and the salaries of the laborers. Let the sum be confided to the surveillance committee of the Marseilles section which will deliver it bit by bit, explaining its use. If you find it proper, a number of copies the equivalent of that sum shall be distributed free of charge and in your name to the citizens unable to acquire them of all departments, or alternatively the sum shall be reimbursed from the results of their sale. The Friend of the People only requests this aid as an advance, and he flatters himself that he will receive them thanks to your civisme. Lacking money for the service of their master, the Spanish generals found considerable sums based on their mustaches. As sole security the Friend of the People commits his civic reputation. Will you refuse it?