[The following passage comes from the author's Life of Maximilien Robespierre (1849), which I have used in the Hathi Digital Library Trust web edition. — George P. Landow]

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o the terror of the coalition and internal dissension, a new terror was now added, by the assassination of Marat, who fell beneath the hand of Charlotte Corday. The rage and fury of the mob, at this immolation of their idol, exceeds description. Robespierre and Danton were happy at being freed from a rival whom they feared. The night after his murder, the people hung garlands at his door, and the Convention inaugurated his bust in their hall. It was decreed that he should be buried in the Pantheon, and some proposed that an empty tomb should be erected to him beneath every tree of Liberty.

If I speak to-day," said Robespierre, "it is because I am bound to do so. Doubtless the honours of the poniard are reserved for me also. Priority has been established by hazard, and my fall is near at hand: hazard alone made it light on that great patriot. Think no longer, therefore, of vain declamations on the pomp of burial. The best way to avenge Marat is to prosecute his enemies with relentless vigour. The vengeance which is satisfied with funereal honours is soon past, and loses itself in useless pomp; renounce, then, these useless discussions, and avenge him in the manner alone worthy of his name.

Among these enemies were of course the Girondins. Garat made a feeble effort to save them, and he thus describes his interview with Robespierre:—

Of the two very different species of generosity," he says, "which the human heart is capable of, one having its source in the affections, and the other in pride, the latter, I was sure, was the only one which could affect Robespierre. I therefore endeavoured to seduce him through his pride, but I saw in an instant that he placed his pride, his triumph, and his grandeur, in pitilessly crushing his enemies. I endeavoured to touch his soul in another way—by fear. I represented to him that if they commenced killing some deputies, we should all be soon menaced with the same fate, and that those who sent others to the scaffold, would soon be sent there themselves. I saw at once that he fancied he was only safe in the destruction of all those who inspired him with fear. Thus repulsed, I said, 'But will the Convention suffer them to be judged by that tribunal which was erected contrary to all their declarations?' 'It is good enough for them,' he said. What a sentence!"

The Committee of Public Salvation was now invested with every power. [299-300]


Lewes, George Henry. The Life of Maximilien Robespierre; with extracts from his unpublished correspondence. London, Chapman and Hall, 1849. Hathi Digital Library Trust online version of a copy in the Harvard University Library. Web. 25 April 2017.

Last modified 28 April 2017