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simone_remy in melkam

Topino Lebrun trial notes - meant to get them done for Germinal - sorry

We know that Camille made tragically few contributions to the trial itself, and most of the notes are about Danton, but there is an immediacy to Topino's scrappy notes, made while he was listening to the accused, that made me want to put a translation up - and it's interesting that Camille's first interjection is noted to have caused  'sincere gaiety and mirth' amongst the accused deputies. The original copy of Topino's notes is online at Gallica.

Germinal 13 Day One

Topino lists the details of the accused with no notes except for Danton

Georges-Jacques Danton, 34, born in Arcis sur Aube, dept de l’Aube, advocate, deputy to the convention, - <soon my dwelling will be in nothingness and my name in the pantheon of history, whatever they say one thing is certain and doesn’t matter to me, - the people will have respect for my head, yes, my guillotined head>

Westerman asks to undergo interrogation. The president remarks that it is an unnecessary procedure.

Danton – We are, however, here for the procedure.

W. insists- a judge is going to interrogate

D. says – as long as we are given a chance to speak, and speak freely, I am sure of confounding my accusers; and if the French people are what they should be, I will be obliged to ask for their mercy

Camille. – Ah! We will have the chance to speak that is all we are asking for [great and sincere mirth from all the accused deputies]

D – Barere is a patriot right now is he not? –[to the jurors]; It is I who created the tribunal, so I should know all about it.

W.- I insist on showing myself naked before the people; seven wounds I have received, all at the front, never one in the back;

D.- We will respect the tribunal because………[not completed]

Danton points to Cambon and says:- Do you believe us to be conspirators? – Look, he is laughing, he does not believe it. Write down that he laughed. [the hearing starts immediately with Cambon’s deposition, he is the first and only witness in the entire trial]

First witness P J Cambon. – Dumouriez opposed the 15th December decree to take assignats to Belgium. Danton and Lacroix were sent to keep watch on Dumouriez. All those who were there were faithful supporters of the decree. Goguet warned Lacroix and Danton of Dumouriez’s treason and such was their opinion. They ask for the levy in bulk.

We were completely out of cash, there was only 500,000 livres left in the fund; it was decreed that no more would be paid in cash. – Almost all of the accused supported the decree, and the right opposed it. I have two colleagues here from the Committee of Public Safety [Danton and Lacroix] – I had fears for freedom and my colleagues assured me that that the republic would remain one and indivisible, that there would be serious crises but we would be triumphant.

I’ve left out a section about The East India Company here and start again with

Danton – Me! Bought? A man of my stamp is beyond price! Where is the proof?

Did I keep quiet when I defended Marat? When I was twice proscribed under Mirabeau? When I struggled against Lafayette? My poster for the insurgency of October 5 and 6

Let the prosecutor who accuses me on behalf of the Convention furnish some proof, even half proofs, evidence of my venality.

I have served too long; life is too full; I call for the commissars of the Convention to accept my rejection of the dictatorship.

I was appointed administrator by a triple list, the last time by a small number of good citizens.

At the Jacobins I forced Mirabeau to remain at his post; I resisted him when he wanted to return to Marseille.

Where is this patriot, when he arrives I will confront him, when he appears [here Danton refers to Robespierre and St. Just’s report]

I prevented the escape to St. Cloud; I was proscribed after the Champs de Mars affair.

I will disprove the allegation [that he stayed peacefully at his family home after the Champs de Mars] read the pages of l’Oracle; assassins were sent to Arcis to kill me, one was arrested – a bailiff came to execute the decree. Then I fled, and the people wanted justice done.


  • I was at my father-in-law’s [or step-father’s] house; they assaulted my brother-in-lae instead of me; I escaped to London and returned when Garran was appointed; Legendre was offered 50,000 ecus to kill me.


When the Lameths took the side of the court, Danton opposed them in the Jacobins in front of the people, and called for a republic.

Under the legislative assembly I said; the proof that it is the court that wants war is that it has [illegible word] the initiative and the sanction. That the patriots join up, and then if we still cannot beat you we will be triumphant in Europe.


  • Billaud-Varenne will never forgive me for having been my secretary.


What proposition did you make against the Brissotins?


  • The law of Publicola; I took the cartel to Louvet who rejected it; I narrowly avoided being assassinated in the Commune; in full council I told Brissot, you will end up on the guillotine and I reminded Lebrun of it here.


  • I laid the groundwork for August 10 and because Danton is a good son I spent three days in Arcis, to say farewell to my mother and to put my affairs in order; I have witnesses. They will say for sure they met me. – I never slept. I was at the Cordeliers although substitute of the commune [?]. I told the minister, Clavière, who came on behalf of the commune, that we were going to raise the insurrection. After having planned all the operations and the timing of the attack I laid on my bed like a soldier, with the order to alert me.- I went out at one o clock, to the now revolutionary commune. I ordered the death of Mandat, who had commanded them to fire on the people – the mayor was placed under arrest and I remained, following the advice of the patriots – My speech to the legislative assembly….


  • I made war in the council; I had only my voice nevertheless I had influence


  • -my relative who accompanied me to England was eighteen years old


  • I still believe that Fabre is a good citizen


  • I swear that I never gave my support to d’Orleans; let it be proved that I nominated him


  • I had 400,000 francs out of 2,000,000 to make the revolution [i.e.to make it known/accepted throughout the provinces] I used it for the departmental commissars in the presence of Marat and Robespierre. Brissot slandered me. I gave Billaud 6,000 to go to visit the army; I accounted for 180,000 of the other 200,000 and repaid the rest.


  • Fabre paid the commissars because Billaud-Varenne refused.


  • To my knowledge Fabre never advocated federalism


  • I will embrace my enemies for the patrie, I will give my body to be devoured for the patrie.


  • I deny and prove to the contrary. Marat sent me documents and a portfolio and I had Duport arrested. He was judged by law at Melun. He and Lameth had wanted to have me assassinated. As minister of Justice I had the law carried out. I don’t have judicial proof [of the assassination attempt]


  • The fake war lasted no more than fifteen days and by god the Brissotins certainly attacked me. Read le Moniteur.


  • Barbaroux asked the Marseille battalion for my head, and the heads of Marat and Robespierre. Marat had his volcanic temperament, Robespierre was firm and tenacious and I, I served in my own way.


  • I only saw Dumouriez once when he sounded me out for the cabinet. I replied that I would only do it under the roar of the cannon.


  • He wrote to me after


  • Placed there Kellerman wanted to cross the Marne and Dumouriez disagreed. Hampered and not dictatorial I supported Dumouriez’s plan which was successful.


  • Fearing the jealousy of the two generals I sent Fabre….


  • Had seen Westerman on the 10th with his sabre in his hand


  • I followed Servan and Lacuée closely; I only knew the military plan of Kelerman and Dumouriez and I appointed Billaud to keep watch on Dumouriez. He gave his account to Convention and to the Jacobins. The order to examine what it was…… that retreat. The convention sent three commissars.


  • As a minister I embraced all aspects of justice, en masse and in detail.


  • Billaud told me that he didn’t know if Dumouriez was a traitor; besides there was an abundant supply of patriotism.


  • On the subject of Belgium he repeats his statement to the Jacobins [sadly lost to history]


  • The snare of the Brissotins was to make it believed that we disorganised the armies.


  • They deny me witnesses, I will not defend myself further


  • I apologise a thousand times for being too heated, it is my nature [aaw]


  • The people will tear my enemies apart before three months are out.

    END OF DAY 2

    Germinal 15 Day 3

    Starts with more notes on the EIC, then Herault speaks

    Herault – On the subject of the little Capet, denies the accusation - he was nominated for the diplomatic party with Barère, states that he was never involved in negotiations – denies having ever had anything printed for diplomacy. Deforgues sent Dubuisson.

    I know nothing about all this nonsense. I was opposed to the despatch of Salavie. It is a ploy used by our enemies. When the committee sent me to the Lower Rhine I worked for the neutrality of Switzerland with Barthelmy and I saved the republic from an army of sixty thousand men – I had no dealings with Proly politically, there was nothing. Furthermore, I had to confront Proly – I have been deceived, as I was with St. Foi, as the Convention was, as [Jean-Bon Saint Andre]was, who wanted to employ him as a secretary, like Colot. Proly was carried in triumph like Marat – By a solemn decree the Convention has received my explanations – Anarcharsis dined with me, with Dufournier etc… I left the widow Chemineau, etc…

    I knew the Abbot, guillotined at Troyes during my exile. He was a non refractory canon.

    It was a joke [referring to St Just’s accusation] he wasn’t bound by the oath, he had helped me in my exile

    Two men were killed beside me at the Bastille on July 14, abused by my family, I travelled, I was imprisoned for three weeks in Sardinia and I came back.

    Camille – during his dispute with St Just he [St Just] told him he would see him dead – I denounced Dumouriez before Marat; [I was first to denounce] D’Orleans. I started the revolution and my death will end it – Marat was deceived by Proly – what man has not had his Dillon?

    Since publishing number four I wrote only to retract – I rang a warning bell on all factions – I was encouraged to write [by Robespierre] to unmask Hebert’s faction; it is a good thing someone did it.

    Lacroix – recalls that he exposed Miaczinski’s statement; that Convention had been satisfied and he had not been accused over it. He said

    I was sent to Liege to investigate complaints made against the treasury. There were three of us. I never saw Dumouriez in the presence of Dumouriez [sic] – I told Miaczinski that his men were short of everything, that I would support him in front of my colleagues, but that it was surprising that on enemy territory it was not ordered that foreign troops be paid.

    I didn’t eat or drink with Dumouriez. Over six or seven days, always together with Danton and Gossuin, I visited all the funding organizations in Belgium to examine the facts. Dumouriez didn’t want to lend a hand with the decree. I leapt up and told him that if he didn’t sign immediately we would gag him, etc. He signed the order to Ronsin.

    The second time we were sent to Brussels, Dumouriez was in Holland, - all my colleagues have testified that I offered to go to observe him and kill him. My colleagues were not minded to do this.

    1900 and 600 livres of table linen bought by Brune in the presence of colleagues – it was a good price. He had to be charged for the carriages which took the effects, pillaged by the generals, back to France. They were contained in a trunk at my address. I then declared it to the committee of public safety. Then I claimed it. It should not be confused with the first carriage of looted silverware, which was dealt with by all our colleagues.


Danton -I had been publicly challenged to offer an explanation on the 400,000 livres. It results from the trial that I have only rags and a flannel corset. Lebas, summoned, gave me the report.

Lacroix – called to the Jacobins by my colleagues, I stated that the renewal of the Convention was counter-revolutionary; which took the envoy’s powers to the popular societies.


  • Billaud-Varenne supported me and I was charged with making the proposal of the eleventh in the Convention – the next day Hebert denounced me in his paper; and there is the prime mover of the calumny.


  • I was indignant on May 31 to hear an officer say; there is neither marsh nor mountain; who distributed money to the Courbevoie battalion; I call as my witness Panis, Legendre, Robespierre, Pache, and Robert Lindet. So I rose to the tribune etc….that we were not free – In the committee on June 2, before Pache, I improved Hanriot’s clumsy plan. We had warned him that on returning we would order [the arrest] of the 32 [Girondins] but that that wasn’t enough for the public thing, it was necessary to purge the Convention and propose 500,000 livres for the army of Paris who had saved the Patrie. Barere was opposed to it. It was Barere who proposed the decree of accusation against Hanriot. We hear from witnesses, Convention has been deceived.


Danton – I called for the insurrection, demanding 50 revolutionaries like myself. The Convention supported me.


  • Three months previously, I had said there can no longer be peace with the Girondins.


  • Do I look like a hypocrite?


  • Hanriot believed that I opposed the insurrection so I told him; keep going at your own pace, have no fear, we want to state that the Convention is free.


Lacroix – I never ate nor drank with Miranda, and I suggested to my colleagues that we should arrest him, they were opposed.

I took Hanriot’s hand and said; keep well.

Herault – It was I who revealed the order, signed by Hanriot in pencil, allowing the Convention to pass, so, etc….[the order exonerated Hanriot, proving Herault did not oppose Either Hanriot or May 31]

Philippeaux – on arriving from my department I knew nothing of the intrigues, I was deceived by Roland – I retracted in time – when I became aware of the trap held out in the call to the people I rose to the tribune and renounced them and after that I voted with the mountain. I voted for Marat [not true he neither voted for or against]. The committee didn’t reply to my letters, I came here

The committee would not hear me, so, to fulfil my duty I wrote to the Convention and in the event the case against Hebert was proved etc…..They made speeches against me. They sent three commissars to my house to discover the facts and Levasseur had them arrested.

I’ve left out stuff about the East India fiasco except for Danton’s response to Guzman’s long speech

Danton – He is building castles in Spain, we accord him courtesy as a foreigner. Right now Barere is considered a patriot and Danton an aristocrat. France will not believe that for long.

Topino’s notes finish before the last day; there is no reason given for it and so we don’t get an immediate note of Camille’s final outburst [they are going to murder my wife etc.]The very last note is of Danton in the accused cell

Danton – Me! A conspirator? Je b… ma femme tous les jours [doesn’t specify b…] My mane is linked to all the revolutionary institutions: the levee, the revolutionary army, the revolutionary committee, the committee of public safety, the revolutionary tribunal. Finally, it is I who sentence myself to death, and I am called a moderate.

Topino also left a few notes on Fouquier-Tinville’s misconduct.





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