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
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.
Maximilien Robespierre - 1794