The day forever fortunate has arrived, which the French people have
consecrated to the Supreme Being. Never has the world which He created
offered to Him a spectacle so worthy of His notice. He has seen reigning
on the earth tyranny, crime, and imposture. He sees at this moment a whole
nation, grappling with all the oppressions of the human race, suspend the
course of its heroic labors to elevate its thoughts and vows toward the
great Being who has given it the mission it has undertaken and the strength
to accomplish it.
Is it not He whose immortal hand, engraving on the heart of man the
code of justice and equality, has written there the death sentence of tyrants?
Is it not He who, from the beginning of time, decreed for all the ages
and for all peoples liberty, good faith, and justice?
He did not create kings to devour the human race. He did not create
priests to harness us, like vile animals, to the chariots of kings and
to give to the world examples of baseness, pride, perfidy, avarice, debauchery,
and falsehood. He created the universe to proclaim His power. He created
men to help each other, to love each other mutually, and to attain to happiness
by the way of virtue.
It is He who implanted in the breast of the triumphant oppressor
remorse and terror, and in the heart of the oppressed and innocent calmness
and fortitude. It is He who impels the just man to hate the evil one, and
the evil man to respect the just one. It is He who adorns with modesty
the brow of beauty, to make it yet more beautiful. It is He who makes the
mother's heart beat with tenderness and joy. It is He who bathes with delicious
tears the eyes of the son pressed to the bosom of his mother. It is He
who silences the most imperious and tender passions before the sublime
love of the fatherland. It is He who has covered nature with charms, riches,
and majesty. All that is good is His work, or is Himself. Evil belongs
to the depraved man who oppresses his fellow man or suffers him to be oppressed.
The Author of Nature has bound all mortals by a boundless chain of
love and happiness. Perish the tyrants who have dared to break it!
Republican Frenchmen, it is yours to purify the earth which they
have soiled, and to recall to it the justice that they have banished! Liberty
and virtue together came from the breast of Divinity. Neither can abide
with mankind without the other.
O generous People, would you triumph over all your enemies? Practice
justice, and render the Divinity the only worship worthy of Him. O People,
let us deliver ourselves today, under His auspices, to the just transports
of a pure festivity. Tomorrow we shall return to the combat with vice and
tyrants. We shall give to the world the example of republican virtues.
And that will be to honor Him still.
The monster which the genius of kings had vomited over France has
gone back into nothingness. May all the crimes and all the misfortunes
of the world disappear with it! Armed in turn with the daggers of fanaticism
and the poisons of atheism, kings have always conspired to assassinate
humanity. If they are able no longer to disfigure Divinity by superstition,
to associate it with their crimes, they try to banish it from the earth,
so that they may reign there alone with crime.
O People, fear no more their sacrilegious plots! They can no more
snatch the world from the breast of its Author than remorse from their
own hearts. Unfortunate ones, uplift your eyes toward heaven! Heroes of
the fatherland, your generous devotion is not a brilliant madness. If the
satellites of tyranny can assassinate you, it is not in their power entirely
to destroy you. Man, whoever thou mayest be, thou canst still conceive
high thoughts for thyself. Thou canst bind thy fleeting life to God, and
to immortality. Let nature seize again all her splendor, and wisdom all
her empire! The Supreme Being has not been annihilated.
It is wisdom above all that our guilty enemies would drive from the
republic. To wisdom alone it is given to strengthen the prosperity of empires.
It is for her to guarantee to us the rewards of our courage. Let us associate
wisdom, then, with all our enterprises. Let us be grave and discreet in
all our deliberations, as men who are providing for the interests of the
world. Let us be ardent and obstinate in our anger against conspiring tyrants,
imperturbable in dangers, patient in labors, terrible in striking back,
modest and vigilant in successes. Let us be generous toward the good, compassionate
with the unfortunate, inexorable with the evil, just toward every one.
Let us not count on an unmixed prosperity, and on triumphs without attacks,
nor on all that depends on fortune or the perversity of others. Sole, but
infallible guarantors of our independence, let us crush the impious league
of kings by the grandeur of our character, even more than by the strength
of our arms.
Frenchmen, you war against kings; you are therefore worthy to honor
Divinity. Being of Beings, Author of Nature, the brutalized slave, the
vile instrument of despotism, the perfidious and cruel aristocrat, outrages
Thee by his very invocation of Thy name. But the defenders of liberty can
give themselves up to Thee, and rest with confidence upon Thy paternal
bosom. Being of Beings, we need not offer to Thee unjust prayers. Thou
knowest Thy creatures, proceeding from Thy hands. Their needs do not escape
Thy notice, more than their secret thoughts. Hatred of bad faith and tyranny
burns in our hearts, with love of justice and the fatherland. Our blood
flows for the cause of humanity. Behold our prayer. Behold our sacrifices.
Behold the worship we offer Thee.
Robespierre - 1794