Jacques Roux 1793

The Reawakening of the Revolutionary Tribunal

Source: Le Publiciste de la République Francaise par l’ombre de Marat, No. 256, August 14, 1793. In Jacques Roux, Scripta et Acta;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2007.

The goodness of the French has multiplied the numbers of the enemies of the government and emboldened conspirators: it’s this excess of indulgence that has served to have us slaughtered. By what fatality then has the Revolutionary Tribunal not yet questioned the cruel Antoinette, who covered France in blood and who is covered in crime. The concern shown for that Messaline shows that the judges believe in ghosts, that they are vile admirers of royalty and are perhaps even its accomplices. It seems that that scoundrel was transported from the tower of the Temple to the prisons of the palace only to remove her from the surveillance of the magistrates of the people, to provide her with the occasion to plot with traitors, to move the counter-revolutionaries by her lot, and to escape during a moment of troubles.

Nevertheless, there is no one who can doubt that that bloody harlot is not as much and more guilty than her barbarous husband. Have we forgotten that that atrocious woman had the sanctuary of nascent freedom invested with bayonets in ‘89; that she prepared the dissolution of the Estates General by force of arms; that she presided over the plotters who wanted to destroy Paris? Have we forgotten that the Austrian woman gave the order to her henchmen to fire on the people on the days of October 5 and 6; that at that time she said that she’d drink to the last drop the blood of the French with pleasure? Have we forgotten that that tigress had been connected with all that is impure and aristocratic among the slaves of the tyrant; that three times a week Leopold sent her couriers; and that it’s through her channel that Montmorin, Guignard, Laluzerne, Duportail, Bertrand, Duport, Tessarts, Chambonas, Narbonne, Claviere, etc. were removed from the Ministries? Have we forgotten the voyage to Montmédy, and that to avenge her arrest she had the blood of patriots spilled on the Champ de Mars, and armed eleven crowned brigands in order to resuscitate the ancien régime? Have we forgotten that she was at the head of the counterfeiters of Passy, the monopolists of the Gironde and the isles of the Levant; that she only conferred the command of armies on knaves and assassins? Finally, have we forgotten that she constantly held the strings of counter-revolution, that she gave refuge in her apartments to the knights of the dagger, refractory priests, the most rotten aristocrats, that on August 10 she passed the Swiss in review?

Ah! If, when the chateau of the Tuileries was taken, the victors had the right to kill Antoinette, the judges shouldn’t hesitate to say to her: You are the sister of Leopold, who has massacred 300,000 French; you deserve death ...You are the widow of a tyrant, whose pen you guided; you deserve death. It’s through you and your son that the counter-revolutionaries of Lyons, Marseilles, and the Vendée are armed: you deserve death. Go, cruel woman, expiate your crimes on the scaffold. Barbarous Antoinette, you will not have the pleasure of seeing half the nation slaughtered and the other half enchained.

This is the language that the revolutionary tribunal should use with Custine for the conduct of this ci-devant noble in the Constituent Assembly; his relations with Lafayette, Dumouriez and l’Egalité; his correspondence with the King of Prussia; the abandonment in the moment of crisis of the army that was at his orders; the horrible despotism that he exercised toward patriotic officers and soldiers who he had executed for having frequented popular societies; the obstacles that he placed before the propagation of the principles of liberty; the immense artillery that he removed from Lille in order to put it at the disposal of the Prussians; the surrender of Condé, of Mainz and of Valenciennes: these are sufficient proofs to lead him to the scaffold. In those departments that are in a state of rebellion the friends of Liberty are led to the scaffold without pity. They are sacrificed to the fury of despotism without observing any forms. Because Custine has committed all kinds of crimes; because his coffers are full of gold and assignats; because he has occupied eminent positions, must we fear striking him? In order to condemn this scoundrel it is enough to say to him that he was at the head of the best army of the republic and that he didn’t come to the aid of our fortified places. It’s enough to say to him that the department of the Nord is practically invaded, that Cambrai is perhaps encircled, and the enemy advances with great speed towards Paris; it’s enough to say to him that being by nature and habit the enemy of the people, he wasn’t able to defend their cause, and consequently he betrayed. His head should thus fall under the sword of the law.

There is a no less rigorous measure to be taken towards the conspirators: it’s to take their wives and children as hostages until the triumph of liberty; it’s to expel from public employment the nobles and all those who clung to the privileged castes. This desire of the French is pronounced with such energy that the National Convention will doubtless not delay in bringing to justice the nobles, who are spies, thieves and assassins.

I even think that we will soon be forced to arrest them. Here is a recent event that will serve to enlighten public opinion.

The Committee of Public Safety of the city of Angouleme (department of the Charente) had incarcerated some suspects in their district. The lords Garat and Chabrefy, well known for their incivisme, were arrested, as well as 67 other individuals like them. Such is the aristocracy of the department and the municipality that the procureur Souchet and the mayor Reynier immediately freed the counter-revolutionaries.

I denounce another stroke of despotism that the administrator Jobert has just exercised in Paris. The Citizen Jean-Charles Cosfin – employee at the office of public contributions at the mairie on rue Philippeau, no. 220 – guided by sentiments of humanity, presented himself two days ago at the department of the police to testify to the interest he’d taken in the situation of a woman who, nursing her baby and her eyes full of tears, had begged him to facilitate the task of telling her husband of some domestic affairs.

This administrator rejected with disdain the representations of Citizen Cosfin in favor of that unfortunate woman whose husband had been incarcerated a few days before. Jobert imperiously ordered the guards to show him the door. Barely had the citizen responded that that he was going to leave, but that he wouldn’t fail to give an account of this exaggerated conduct, than the virtuous Jobert had the shamelessness to have him arrested in the prison of the mairie, in contempt of all claims, without even accepting to hear the administrator of public contributions, which citizen Cosfin had requested.

The law will doubtless bring to justice such an abuse of authority. When even one of its members is oppressed there is oppression against the whole social body. Liberty will soon be obliterated if an individual arrogates to himself the right to incarcerate another, if a committee unites all at once several powers, if it set itself up as a central committee in government, if we put at its disposal a sum of 50 million. History teaches us that the Roman senators didn’t delay in enchaining the people once they had themselves granted a civil list...It is the gold of the defunct tyrant that has attracted so many ills to our unfortunate fatherland.