simone_remy (simone_remy) wrote in melkam,

Speech 24/7/1792 ~ fourth extract ~ how to defend Paris

I've omitted a chunk where Camille talks about English/Scottish reaction to the Monmouth rebellion as an example of the perfidious reactions of royalty and its supporters. In this section he proposes some sort of street party ~ quel horreur - as part of his otherwise fine strategy of involving the sans culottes more deeply in the revolution.

What should we do next? Someone once said that if kings make war on each other it is because they don't sit down and drink together. Me! I say that if anyone dares to attack us it is because there is nothing but pride, selfishness and hardness of heart between us. It is because the bourgeois scorns the worker just as much as the aristos scorn the bourgeois; because equality of rights exists only in the constitution, not in our hearts; because we, active citizens, hold ourselves at a greater distance from our poverty stricken brothers than the Romans did from their slaves. The senators of Rome, so proud, slaveowners who denied the rights of man, did at least set aside eight days a year when they sat at table with their slaves, exchanged garments with them, when they paid their debts and their rent! Even in aristocratic Rome they dedicated eight days to equality and a golden age.

But we, the disdainful bourgeoisie, have wiped out aristocracy and inequality from our laws only to let these evils find refuge in our hearts! So I repeat; if anyone dares to attack us it will be because we don't eat and drink together. To affirm our freedom we must do what Caesar and Crassus did to strengthen their tyranny. True, we can't do what Caesar did, and fill 22,000 tables for the citizens, or Crassus who laid on a feast for the people of Rome, and afterwards surprised them with as much grain as they could eat for three months! But if we truly believe in equality we must set tables outside our homes. For at least a day we should treat our equals as the Romans treated their slaves for a whole week. We should celebrate our escape from tyranny and aristocracy like the Jews celebrate their escape from Pharoah. We should eat together in our streets; in the same way that we eat Easter lamb we should eat National lamb. Come worthy artisans! Don't let your work roughened hands be scornful of mine, which are fatigued only by the holding of a pen! Let us drink together and embrace each other, and in this way our enemies will be vanquished!

And my next proposal is also suggested to me by Roman history (well there's a surprise -ed). Those who we term passive citizens are as worthy as the slaves of Rome. When the nation was in danger, in the Punic Wars or the war of Marius and Sulla, Rome gave the rights of the city to the enslaved people. The National Assembly has declared the nation in danger, so she too should give citizens' rights to passive citizens. Free the poor from all taxes, they pay enough by the shedding of their blood in battle. In this way, at a stroke, the nation will gain 5,000,000 men at arms!

People ask me what is the difference between us, who call ourselves Patriots and the nobles who we call aristocrats. The nobles want nothing more than to create an upper chamber and to relegate the entire third estate to the commons. In the same way we, the erstwhile third estate, happy to call ourselves active citizens are making ourselves an upper chamber in relation to the passive citizens, but without even giving them a lower house! And we claim to have scrutinised every aspect of government! In Athens, the poor were paid to be citizens, even Montesquieu, claimed by the aristos as one of their own, was full of admiration for this Athenian law.

Why has the revolution here placed the people under a more burdensome yoke than of old? It is because all the patriots, the courageous men of spirit, ALL THE JACOBINS, have flown to the defence of liberty and perished in combat, while all the self seeking, the cowards, THE FEUILLANTS, all those who have something to protect have allowed the tyrant and his civil list to triumph! They are the dregs of the nation!

What must be done to prevent this war from spilling the finest blood of our body politic, leaving us only those of corrupted blood? We must be wary of recruiting as we did before. We are all National Guards; it should be decreed that a quarter of the National Guard be sent to the borders, selected from all the municipalities. In this way we will preserve the best of the Jacobins in the same way that the King of Prussia so tenderly preserved the flower of the aristocracy by keeping the nobles and emigres back in the third line of defence, leaving them safely at home in Coblentz. If we adopt this strategy the Feuillants will have to share the nation's peril with the Jacobins and the Tyrolean fire will be turned on them as well as on us.

As for you, blind Feuillants, defectors from the Jacobins, take note of the history of our country and the tyrants who have ruled us to become aware that royalist vengeance will fall just as heavily on Feuillants as Jacobins.
Tags: camille desmoulins, speech 24/07/1792
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