Jacques Roux 1793

On the Majesty of the French People

Source: Le Publiciste de la République Francaise par l'ombre de Marat, No. 255, August 12, 1793. In Jacques Roux, Scripta et Acta;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2004.

Address of the Friend of the People to all the sans-culottes of the republic on the majesty of the French people. – The repaid progress of liberty, the imminent destruction of tyrants, the crimes of the scoundrel faction of statesmen, the triumph of the deputies of the Mountain. Joy of the Parisians in embracing their brothers of the departments, the necessity of drowning hatred and suspicion in feelings of fraternity and to rally around the new constitution in order to exterminate the enemies within and without.

How great the splendor of a people that has added to the energy of liberty the majesty of sovereign power; who, in the space of four years, has overturned Bastilles; has marched against the sword and the censer; has exhumed the rights of man from the entrails of the earth; has proclaimed the freedom of the world and the commerce on the seas in the name of reason; has escaped the superstitious cult of kings; has conducted tyrants to the scaffold; and has built on the bloody debris of monarchy a formidable republic; which in the midst of the horrors of a foreign war, civil and religious, amidst political storms, amidst the shaking of all the elements of the social body, issues energetic cries of independence, floats everywhere the national colors, and swears, from the Rhine to the Pyrenees, from the Alps to the Ocean on the alter of equality – of rights and religions – the unity and indivisibility of the republic and the destruction of tyrants!

Ah! This movement of force and energy, this love of happiness, this plan of courage amid the insane who surround us attests to the strength of reason, which has imperceptibly advanced across the centuries. So many sublime outbursts of patriotism on the part of the French prove that servitude is an outrage to the dignity of human nature, and that there is no nation on earth that can return them to their former slavery.

In fact, who now could enslave us? Could it be those pious lunatic fanatics, who stupidly disseminate the principles of their imbecilic superstition; those ultramontain charlatans, who raise to heaven the chains that weigh men down on earth; those bloody atheists who, by a barbarous hypocrisy, render men cruel by religion who are good and just by nature? They are passed, those days of our childhood...the colossus of Rome has mere feet of clay; the proud henchmen of the tiara will no longer make pay the stupid credulity of people ...They will no longer lead them directly to intolerance, from intolerance to superstition, from superstition to ignorance, and from ignorance to slavery. They will no longer call holy their human politics; they will no longer make people believe that it’s a sacrilege to recognize rights, sovereignty, and the freedom of nations; they will no longer use heaven to protect the oppressors of freedom in order to ruin and devour the human species.

At the sight of danger, will we allow ourselves to be enchained by these crowned tigers whose barbarian hordes have soiled the land of liberty? The soul of a republican grows; the robust and proud Frenchman will wrest the torches from the fanaticism that ravages the unfortunate banks of the Vendée and the Deux Sevres. They will exterminate the soldiers who have left the monastic slime and the antechambers of the great in order to uproot the tree of liberty; the pikes will pursue to the depths of the North the tyrants on their thrones; they already feel a chill, the first sign of the freedom of peoples.

If corrupted representatives, faithless administrators, prevaricating agents hadn’t been able to form from one pole to the other a chain of conspirators to fool the people, lull them at the edge of the abyss and complete their ruin; if infamous deserters from the public thing, rebellious children, hadn’t been able to pierce the breast of the motherland and halt liberty in its triumphant march; if the scoundrel faction that dominated the three legislatures hadn’t called down on France the plagues of war and famine; if they hadn’t delivered our forts and our patriotic phalanxes to the steel of executioners, the laws of humanity would be recognized everywhere, liberty would have conquered the world, and there wouldn’t exist a single throne on earth.

Having learned today from the experience of our misfortune, from eighteen centuries of slavery and barbarism, and especially from the treason of the founders of liberty – who were the valets of that hypocrite of the people and the valets of tyrants – let us show everyone that the despair of a nation can do when it’s pushed to the edge, how terrible are its judgments when it rises up, how certain its vengeance when it strikes.

And what! When France fought under kings and for kings it was intrepid and great; today when it fights for the people, for freedom, for the triumph of laws of its making; today, when it only takes out its sword at the call of justice, it must only sheath it at the song of victory, let us carry the pride of Spartans and the courage of Brutus as a tribute to the fatherland. Let our weapons be, not the honor that allied itself to crime, as among the nobles, but the love of equality and the hatred of tyrants. He who dies for the liberty of his country, lives eternally in glory. There is no destiny as glorious as that of crushing despotism, that of smashing, pulverizing, and annihilating those illustrious brigands, those decorated cowards who want to master us with so much pride and cruelty.

Who among us will groan under the rod of the Capets, Wilhelms and Brusnwicks? Who among us will kneel before Messalines and Neros? The last king of the French didn’t expiate his crimes on the scaffold, we didn’t raise a republican constitution on the ruins of the monarchy in order to recognize any other master but the law, or in order to adore priests, nobles and false gods consumed in the flames of the Bastille. One cannot submit to a king without insulting nature.

What crimes haven’t you rendered yourselves guilty of, Brissot, Pétion, Guadet, Fauchet, Barbaroux, Lanjuinais, Fermond, Buzot, Gensonné, Vergniaud, Caritat, Carra, Guisson, Fonfrède, Gorsas, Louvet, etc. etc. by whitewashing a tyrant ejected from the throne whose reign, as well as that of his barbarous wife, was that of crime; by sharing, before and after his execution, the shred of his royal purple.

Of what crimes have you not made yourselves guilty, you who sharpened the still bloody daggers of Saint Bartholomew’s right at the doors of the sanctuary of the laws; you who put yourselves at the head of fanatics and rebels to make a heap of ashes of Paris, the city of freedom and the arts; you who, in terrible writings spread profusely, organized civil war; you who never ceased calling anarchists and seditious the intrepid defenders of the republic; you who had arrested in the departments those representatives of the people who voted for the death of the tyrant; you who had killed the mayor of Lyons, the procureur syndic of the Bouches-du-Rhone, Lepeletier and Marat; you who instituted in Marseilles tribunals of assassins; you who removed the papers from the armoire de fer [1] and stole the diamonds from the Garde-meuble[2]; you who, in concert with Dumouriez, Lafayette and Custine, negotiated the surrender of our forts; you who had massacred the heroes of the Bastille, the Tuileries, of Valmes (sic: read Valmy) and of Jemappes; you who have never ceased to have relations with the traitors, the famine agents and the counter-revolutionaries; you who established a dictatorial inquisition to kill by steel and fire the incorruptible friends of the people. It’s only through a shameful flight that you have escaped from the sword of the law; you will no longer find asylum in the places you have whipped up.

Sans-culottes of the departments, it is easy today to cast judgment on the scoundrels who have blasphemed against the people and liberty, who caused the ills that are tearing France apart. If it were possible that you could have conceived any fear about our sentiments, about our devotion to the republic, then come with us, we’ll show you the place where the friends of liberty expired during the taking of the Bastille; we’ll take you to the place du Carrousel where the Parisians, the Marseillais and the federés of the departments cemented the nascent republic with their blood. We’ll have you kiss that young oak that the citizens who’d gone astray planted when as a sign of fraternity they abjured their error. We’ll guide your steps towards the Champs de la Federation, where the cruel Lafayette and the mercenary Bailly stifled public opinion through a massacre. But there is a place more worthy of your hearts and ours: come friends, come into our arms. And there, let fall cruel prejudices and the blindfold of error; in a mutual embrace, let us forget the blood and the tears that fatal discords made spill. The day when republicans make a vow to defend unto the grave freedom and equality is that on which all private hatred and disputes shall be drowned in feelings of intimate fraternity. There should not be among us any other passion than that of freedom; any other standard than that of the constitution, no other religion than that of the fatherland; no other rivalry than that of virtue.

It is the only the holy and close alliance of the people that can confidently return public spirit and happiness; it is only by gathering together that we will triumph over the enemy without.

Let us then bless the new order of things that makes of us the children of the same family and that delivers us from the yoke of servitude... Let us deliver the traitors to the avenging sword of the law; let us leave lukewarm men to their remorse; let us pursue the public bloodsuckers; let us announce to slaves and depots the third awakening of liberty!

1. Secret box containing correspondence between the French royals and foreign powers.

2. Object containing goods belonging to the King and Queen that was stolen on the night of September 16, 1792.