LA FRANCE LIBRE
REVIEW, CORRECTED AND CONSIDERABLY ENHANCED
“Quae gnoniam in foveam incidit, obruatur.”
Since the beast is in the trap, he is knocked out.
CHEZ GARNERY, BOOKSELLER, RUE SERPENTE, 17
LA FRANCE LIBRE
At the margin of his copy of I'Histoire universelle of d’Aubigne, one is surprised to find that vow written in the hand of Mezerai, one hundred and sixty years ago: Duo tantum haec opto: ut unum moriens populum Francorum liberum relinquam; alterum, ita ut cuique eveniat, sicut de republica merebitur. "It is thus that amidst the Sixteen, the honest people and those who were not fanatical imbeciles, formed for themselves, says de Thou, I do not know what plan of a republic. There has always been, in France, patriots who sighed for liberty."
The return of that liberty to the French people was reserved for our days. Yes, she has already been returned to us; she does not yet have a temple for the States General, like that of Delphos in Greece, for the assembly of the Amphictyons; or that of Concord in Rome, for the assembly of the Senate; but she is already adored in tones louder than a whisper, and the worship of her is public. For forty years philosophy has been undermining the foundations of despotism in all its parts; and, as Rome before Caesar was already enslaved by its vices, so France before Necker was already enfranchised by its intelligence.
From Paris to Lyon, Bordeaux to Rouen, Calais to Marseilles, from one end of France to the other, the same cry, a universal cry is heard. With what pleasure all the good citizens scan the cahiers of the provinces! With what rage must the perusal of them fill the breasts of our oppressors! I thank thee, O Heaven, to have placed my birth at the end of this century. I shall behold the building of that bronze pillar which the Paris cahier demands, that pillar on which our rights and the history of the Revolution shall be inscribed; and I will teach my children to read in this citizen’s catechism. The Nation everywhere has uttered the same wish. Everyone want to be free. Yes, my dear fellow-citizens, we will all be free; who can stop us? Will the provinces of the North demand other things than the South? Are the districts of election in opposition to the districts of states, so that we should have to fear a schism and civil war?
No, there will be no civil war. We are the most numerous; we are the strongest. See the capital itself, that hotbed of corruption, where the monarchy, born enemy of morality, seeks only to deprave us, to enervate the national character, to degrade us by multiplying the snares of seduction for youth, by creating facilities for debauchery and besieging us with prostitutes; the capital itself contains more than thirty thousand men who are ready to bid adieu to all its pleasures and join the sacred cohorts of our country at the first signal, so soon as liberty shall have raised her standard in one province, and rallied its good citizens around it. Paris, like the rest of France, calls aloud for liberty. The infamous police, that monster with ten thousand heads, seems to at last be paralysed in all its limbs. Its eyes no longer see, its ears no longer hear. The patriots only raise their voices. The enemies of the public welfare keep silence, or, if they dare to speak, they are instantly punished for their felony or their treason. They are compelled to sue for pardon on their knees. Linguet, who had the impudence to stead in among the deputies, is hunted out by them; Maury is driven away by his host; Desprémesnil is hissed even by his lackeys; the Keeper of the Seals is harried and covered with contumely, even in the midst of his guards; the Archbishop of Paris is pelted with stones; Condé, Conti, D’Artois, are publicly committed to the infernal gods. Patriotism spreads, day by day, with the devouring rapidity of a great conflagration. The young take fire; the old men cease, for the first time, to regret the past; they blush for it. The people bind themselves by oaths in a solemn engagement to die for their country.
The aristocrats, the vampires of the State, have hope in the troops, and I heard it boasted publicly that the soldiers bath in our blood with pleasure. No, fellow citizens, no, the soldiers do not gladly assassinate their brothers, their friends, the French fighting to elevate them, those soldiers, to the military ranks, to render the profession of arms its original nobility, so that it be no longer a profession more infamous than executioners; for executioners do not pay for the blood that is demanded by kings, but our soldiers were ready to pay with all the blood that despotism thirsts. No, these slave soldiers of eight years, heroes more debased than our lackeys, subject to beatings, punished by the galleys of desertion, which, in peace, should never be a crime and can sometimes be an obligation; and which, even in times of war, should not be punished through infamy or how Rome punished those who had fled to Cannes; these soldiers that we want to liberate will not turn their weapons against their benefactors; they will reunite themselves in crowds with their relatives, with their compatriots, with their liberators, and the nobles will be surprised to see about them only the dregs of the army, and the small number of assassins and parricides. Such a militia will dissipate before the old countless multitude of patriots, like brigands before justice.
Let us beware then of accepting the transaction proposed by the aristocrats. It is better, as the Abbe Sieyes has rightly said, to make no constitution than make it a bad one. We are sure to triumph. Our provinces are filled with threatening cockades. We have an army – not, indeed, ostensible and encamped, but enrolled and ready; an army of observation. This army numbers more than fifteen hundred thousand men. For myself, I feel the courage enough to die for the liberty of my country, and a very powerful motive will draw those for whom the righteousness of this cause is not sufficient to determine. Never was richer spoils offered to the victors. Forty thousand palaces, mansions, castles, two-fifths of the riches of France to be distributed amongst them, will be the prize of valor. Those who pretend to be our conquerors will be conquered in their turn. The nation will be purged, and the foreigners, the bad citizens, all those who give precedence to their own interest before the public good, will be exterminated. But we will turn our eyes from these horrors, and may Heaven deign to withdraw them from above our heads! No, without doubt, that which we dread will never take place. I only wish to frighten the aristocrats by showing them their inevitable extinction if they resist longer the call of reason, the wish and supplication of the people. These gentlemen will be in no hurry to expose themselves to losing the riches that were easy for them to preserve, and which we assuredly we have no wish to despoil.
We no longer have a forum, and it is today by printed words that we speak with the nation. Continue to succeed all on this forum, you, our generous defenders! Forums of eloquence, Raynal, Sieyes, Chapelier, Target, Mounier, Rabaut, Barnave, Volney, and you especially, Mirabeau, excellent citizen, who have your whole life continued to report your hate against despotism, and have contributed more than anyone to our freedom. The pastors of the vile herds of slaves are continually decreasing in number. Go ahead, redouble your courage, and reaffirm your genius for unhoped of circumstances. The sight of the death of Virginia restored liberty to Rome. Everyone was a citizen, because everyone found themselves father. In France, the deficit will have restored freedom. Everyone will become a citizen, because everyone will have been a taxpayer. O blessed deficit! O my dear Calonne!
It is little to warm spirits, to raise the people to liberty, and to destroy the edifice of the Goths and Welches; we must, under a sky so beautiful and on land so fertile, build another worthy of the soil, worthy of the nation that inhabits it: this nation so rich in great men, worthy of the enlightened age; the most beautiful monument, in a word, that philosophy and patriotism have raised to mankind. It is the duty of every citizen to contribute, so I will also give my ideas.