Jacques Roux 1793

The Agony of the Cruel Antoinette

Source: Le Publiciste de la République Francaise par l'ombre de Marat, l'Ami du Peuple, No 35 September 1, 1793;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2004.

Such were the infamous gears that that statesmen played upon within the National Convention in order to absolve the tyrant, such is the perfidious and clever policy which the leaders of that scoundrel faction use to tear from their executions Brissot, Guadet, Vergniaud, Fauchet and the other apostles of federalism detained at Luxembourg.

Nevertheless, their crimes are written in characters of blood; it was through them that perfidious generals opened the gates of our frontiers; it was through them that 500,000 men were traitorously sacrificed; it was by them that civil war in the departments of the west and the South has been set alight; it was through them that the plans for treason, waste, and devastation were executed that have led the fatherland to the edge of the abyss.

How, when all of France arises to demand vengeance for so many crimes, is it possible that the revolutionary tribunal has suspended for two months the sword of justice over these abominable beings, whose name history will only pronounce while blushing? How is it possible that the cruel Antoinette, who surpassed in villainy the Medicis and Nero, that the cruel Antoinette, for whom the people swear an implacable hatred and whose existence is a public calamity, still breathes in a regenerated nation?

People, I am going to teach you why. It’s that among those who are charged with pronouncing on the fate of the great guilty ones there are many who hold the strings of counter-revolution; it’s that the judges are for the most part men of the robe, expert in the art of slipping conspirators away through the tortured folds of chicanery; it’s that a large part of those who occupy public posts only serve the revolution so as to pile up treasure on top of treasure. Everyone knows that the true guilty ones are the nobles and the ci-devant privileged; nevertheless, all we see climb up to the scaffold are miserable domestics; the great knaves all escape the sword of the law. I defy you to cite me one monopolist who paid for his thefts, his larceny and his fraud with his head; I defy you to cite me one deputy, one minister who has suffered the penalty the law inflicts on those who betray their fatherland. Montanet was convicted of having altered the registers of the revolutionary tribunal he presided over. Was he punished for this prevarication? No. the reason is clear; it’s that the wolves don’t eat each other; the knaves hold each other by the hand and nothing resists the magical power of gold and assignats.

It’s true that Custine took his head to the scaffold, but the threats of the National Convention were necessary, and it was necessary to place his judges between obligation and the guillotine in order to determine them to strike this scoundrel. Thus the money they'd received to absolve the traitor wasn’t stolen, for they put off striking him down until the last minute, like certain surgeons who, when they have wounds to heal, make the illness continue until suppuration, in order to take from the poor patient his last sou.

After the efforts taken to save the ex-general Custine, what grimaces won’t our venerables make when it will be question of putting on the hot seat King Brissot, Chancellor Vergniaud, Plenipotentiary Guadet, Grand Chaplain Fauchet and the chiefs of the court of federalists? When it will be a question of pronouncing on the fate of the Queen of émigrés, the radiant and odoriferous Antoinette?

If all the judges resemble Roussillon, who found himself ill when the citizens of Orleans, the assassins of Bourdon, were condemned; if they are as little courageous as Obsan, who abandoned his post at the Commune during the insurrection of May 31; if they insist on following all the rules in order to convict only by written proofs the scoundrels with which the administration and the armies are full, they won’t fail to whitewash the most daring criminals, but the law is precise...the people have arisen...Public opinion, that inexorable judge, will render justice on the traitors. Yes, if the ministers of the law don’t fulfill their obligations they'll learn that it is only one step from the Capitol to the Tarpeian Rock. The blood of the tyrant cemented the nascent republic. It’s necessary that head of his cruel spouse, of the infamous Antoinette, who was conceived in crime, who was raised in the school of crime, who has only lived by crime, finally falls under the blade of the law; it’s necessary that the execution of the unfaithful representatives, detained at Luxembourg, frighten the slavers, the partisans of federalism and the traitors who halted the course of liberty. It’s necessary that the deputies of the three legislatures who sold the rights of the people, who starved it and killed it, be put to judgment without delay.

A great act of justice presents itself here, and that’s to make the deputies who acquired a fortune in the last two years cough it up. When one has but a slight patrimony of 15 livres to spend a day, its impossible to have a splendidly garnished table, lackeys, a carriage, country houses, without having prostituted oneself to the aristocracy, or without having squandered the treasury of the republic.

Thus, those who show off an insolent luxury, who buy national domains and the furnishings of ci-devant royal houses, we can be sure, without calumny, that they've put their hands in the purse, that they conspired to deliver our forts, and that they are the secret friends of royalty.

And so I am execrated at the Jacobins and the Cordeliers, which conceal so many intriguers, because I fix the people’s gaze on the countless knaves who surround them, on the monopolists, the hypocrites and the traitors with which the sections are filled, on the prideful representatives who only abolished royalty so as to take over the reins of government, to oppress the true patriots, and to gorge themselves on the blood of the people.

It’s because I had the courage to tear the veil from intrigue and crime that they were barbaric enough, the scoundrels, to throw me into a dungeon that light didn’t reach. Who could believe that Hébert, who said so many times at the Cordelier Club and at the Commune that if all priests were like me they wouldn’t be dangerous; that Hébert who many times celebrated my civic virtues, associated himself with my slanderers in order to destroy me in the spirits of the sans-culottes. Hébert, Chaumet, Robespierre, Collot d'Herbois, etc, etc, etc: I render homage to your talents and your virtues, but I am forced to say that if you didn’t fear the difficult truths that come from my pen you wouldn’t so often exhale your bile against a priest who has rendered several services to the revolution. Not one of my enemies thinks that I am an aristocrat; not one of them thinks me a moderate. What then is my crime? It’s being exasperated, you say; it’s taking civisme beyond all limits; its compromising the public thing by an exalted imagination.

Ah, if only most of the rogues who accuse me hadn’t themselves changed principles; if there weren’t some reproaches to be made of their management during the holding of the legislatures; if they hadn’t conceived the perfidious design of oppressing liberty by taking over all powers, they wouldn’t at every instant cast anathemas on an individual who wholeheartedly wants the happiness of the people, the unity and indivisibility of the republic. Men who mimic patriots, citizens who have rendered yourselves praiseworthy by your courage, occupy yourselves instead with saving the public thing! It’s not by piling denunciation on top of denunciation that you will expel the Austrians from our territory. Commodities are at an exorbitant price; work to bring it down! There are assassins, national thieves, monopolists: deliver them to the revolutionary tribunal; execute the terrible decree against speculation and monopolies; make the knaves who for the past three years surpassed in fraud the ministers and bloodsuckers of the ancient regime cough it up. Establish primary schools where citizens can come eat the bread of liberty; set in motion workshops for the fabrication of arms of all sorts. Be the first to march against the enemy! These sublime movements of generosity, these courageous impulses will attest that you love the fatherland for itself, and not for the advantages it procures you. As for me, I declare that I have no other ambition but that of dying for the freedom of my country. I call on the rogues who ceaselessly slander me to put before me a vigorous test; they'll see that my blood holds to nothing, and that all my intrigue consists in unmasking traitors and braving daggers