simone_remy (simone_remy) wrote in melkam,

Camille to Jean-Nicolas: Matton p32

A very long letter to J-N, in reply to one which must have been telling Camille that the people of Guise were not impressed with his work:          20 Septembre 1789
The best reply to your letter, so full of reproaches is to send you the three works. So I have packed up a big parcel in which you will find four samples of La France Libre, La Lanterne and a number of samples of a little leaflet [declamation in favour of the Marquis de Saint –Hurugue] which has been well received and has occasioned a number of compliments for me.

In the meantime, I am adding to this letter an edition of Chronicles of Paris, the Paris paper which is considered the best written. I do not know the author and, as a citizen, I even bear a grudge against his article; as a writer however, my pride is not hurt: I am sending it to you so you can add it to the Palais Royal correspondence which I have already sent you.
Contrast these printed works and published writings by journalists whom I don’t know and am not rich enough to mix with, with the insults of the Guisards and with what you call public indignation. I can hardly believe that I have incurred the indignation of my dear compatriots and it can only be the ignorant, imbeciles or the envious who decry a leaflet which has brought me so much honour and has attracted the most flattering compliments from M. Target, a man who has never praised me.
Besides this when I send you the evidence of the journals and tell you, as I did in my last letter, of the astonishingly flattering things I have heard about La France Libre, I am only doing this so that you do not blush for me, not to excite envy in telling my compatriots; I know that no man is a prophet in his own country and it is not necessary to open the eyes of those whom the light hurts.
If you hear me spoken badly of, console yourself with the memory of the testimony which MM. de Mirabeau, Target, M de Robespierre, Gleizal and more than two hundred deputies have given me. Consider that a great number of Parisians have named me among the principal authors of the revolution. Many even say that I am THE author.
Three days ago, at my bookseller’s, I met a Picard, vice president of the Feuillant District,
<<Ah! My dear compatriot>> he said to me <<How I have suffered because our parish is so poorly represented! At least you have maintained its honour, since the author of La France Libre is from Vermandois>>
He was so unwilling to leave me that he took me to dinner and we struck up an acquaintance. But the testimony which flatters me most is that of my conscience, the internal sense that what I have done is good. I have contributed to the freeing of my country, I have made a name for myself and begin to hear people say; there is a pamphlet by Desmoulins; they no longer say: by an author named Desmoulins; but: Desmoulins has just defended the Marquis Saint-Hurugue. Lots of women have asked me to come to their salons, and M. Mercier still has to present me in two or three establishments which have asked for me.
But nothing can ever beat the happiness I felt on July 12th when I was not merely cheered by ten thousand people at the Palais Royal, but suffocated by their embraces mingled with tears. Then, perhaps, I saved Paris from complete ruin and the nation from the most dreadful servitude. Will the cries of a few idiots and royalists cause me to repent my glory and my virtue? No! those people who speak ill of me are misleading you; they are lying to themselves and at the bottom of their hearts they wish they had a son like me. They pretend they are coming to console you, but it is only they who are distressing you. They are like the brothers of Joseph who consoled Jacob by telling him that a wild beast had torn Joseph limb from limb. They themselves are the wild beast who savaged him. I reject the lengthy sympathies offered to your lengthy grievances on my imagined folly.
The Lantern is not as good as the other work and would have diminished my prestige if I had put my name to it. However, I have heard it spoken well of, and if the bookseller is not misleading me, no one has said anything bad about it.
What you tell me of Guise determines me to remain in Paris, for which I am already developing a strong inclination. Consequentially I am going to get myself furnished lodgings before the end of the month.
I believe I am going to work with Mirabeau, and I hope to be in a position to manage without your help. You will oblige me however, by sending me some shirts and above all two pairs of sheets [or curtains]. I expect to find lodgings in St Remy.
Yesterday I went to Versailles; approaching M. de Viefville I noticed that his face was considerably changed; when I asked him about it he told me that he had been ill, and that at first he hadn’t recognised me. After two hours of conversation he complained that a month ago, M. Freteau had read a memo from you in the National Assembly so that there was a seat at Guise. I cannot understand how you could have sent such a memo. A month ago the National Assembly had other things to occupy it besides the Bailiwick of Guise and they must have laughed at your haste. Secondly M. de Viefville wasn’t wrong in thinking that you ought to have addressed the memo to him. I am not a bit surprised that I knew nothing about till yesterday. I can scarcely believe, however, that the coldness shown to me by my cousin, stems from that.
You are not active enough. You sit in your office, but in a democracy you need to show yourself. Since you aren’t busy, send me news of Guise, is there a garrison? Who are the important people in the town now? How are your provisional committee and your commune? Does your local militia have a uniform? Send me news of Dubucquoi and his address; news of d’Henin and Fontaine: I still take to heart a little the trick they played on me at Laon.
Are you pleading in Guise?
There go your tithes and your benefits and your jurisdiction going down the drain.
You missed a political chance last year when you wouldn’t come to Laon and recommend me to the people of the region who could have nominated me. Today I don’t care. In the revolution I have written my name in bigger letters than all our deputies in Picardy; but the respect I enjoy here ought to be of some use to you, and I would like to do you some good and be fair to you.
You have alienated M. de Viefville, who, on his return to the National Assembly who could have supported you with his esteem, and between the two of us, his party. I perceive that there are two parties in Guise, and that you belong to neither. Perhaps you believe that my motto is ‘audax et edax’ not at all. It is not hunger which has made me so bold. Remember I have always had the principles I profess now; and now, to these principles is joined the pleasure of taking my place  in the revolution, of showing my strength to those who despise me, avenging myself on the fate which has always pursued me and putting those who thought themselves better than me in their place. My motto is that of honest folk: Caesar vi’ priorem’ the motto of the aristos is that of Pompey: ‘Pompeius vi parem’. Equality, not superiority, like Caesar.
Tags: camille desmoulins, jean-nicolas desmoulins, la france libre, la lanterne
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