The Fourteenth of July and Danton/Danton/Act III

Danton by Romain Rolland, translated by Barrett H. Clark


[The Revolutionary Tribunal.

The Public Prosecutor Fouquier-Tinville; Herman, the Judge, the Jury, gendarmes, and the People, are present. On the prisoners' bench are Danton, Desmoulins, Hérault, Philippeaux, Westermann, Chabot and the brothers Frey—the last two of whom do not speak—and Fabre d'Églantine, who sits in an arm-chair in their midst. In the front row with the public, sits the painter David and some of his friends. The windows of the room are open, and through them the shouts of the crowd are heard. From time to time, Vadier's head is seen peering through the wicket in the door, behind the Judge, watching the trial. General Hanriot stands at the door. Herman and Fouquier-Tinville cast anxious glances toward him every few moments. Chabot and the brothers Frey are being questioned, and Danton is boiling with rage. Desmoulins appears crushed and discouraged. Hérault calmly looks on, smiling. Philippeaux, jaws set and eyes riveted on his judges, prepares his defense. Fabre d'Églantine, who is ill and suffering, sits back in his chair. The crowd jostle and push, following the trial with great interest. They emphasize with their remarks and shouting each development in the trial, like an audience at a melodrama—amused and moved at the same time.]

Judge [to the brothers Frey]. You are an agent of Pitt. You have tried to corrupt the Convention. In order to further your speculations and corrupt practices, you tried to bribe the representatives of the people. You have put a price on the conscience of every one you wished to buy.

Danton [bursting forth]. Judge, I demand a word !

Judge. Your turn will come, Danton.

Danton. What have I to do with all this nastiness? What have I to do with these thieves?

Judge. You will be informed.

Danton. My natural decency prevents my crushing those scoundrels. You know that very well, and you take advantage of my silence in order to associate me in the minds of the people with underhanded swindlers and embezzlers.

Hérault. Calm yourself, Danton.

Judge. You must respect the law. You will have a chance to explain later.

Fouquier-Tinville. Quiet, Danton. You will have to answer the charges, together with the rest who are accused with you.

Danton. Danton must not be tried for corruption after a pack of blackguards. You might at least give him first place. Danton refuses to be second in anything whatsoever, in virtue or in vice.

Philippeaux. Don't, Danton. You must be prudent.

Judge [to the brothers Frey]. You are Jews by birth, and you came originally from Moravia; your name is Tropuscka. You took the name of Schoenfeld, under which you bought patents of nobility in Austria, and for the time being called yourself Frey. One of your sisters was baptized, and is now being kept by a German baron. The other married Chabot, a former priest, and now a representative in the Convention. You have associated yourself with certain other adventurers of doubtful birth like yourself: Diederischen, who came originally from Holstein, and was employed in a Viennese bank; Gusman, called the Spaniard, who passed as a German nobleman; the former Abbé d'Espagnac, an army contractor. With the help of certain deputies whom you had bribed, you prospered, Chabot served as a go-between for you and his colleagues. He put his own price at 150,000 livres. He gave Fabre d'Églantine 100,000 of the sum, and Fabre altered the Convention's decree relative to the Compagnie des Indes. I am submitting the original document to the jury.

Vadier [stealthily opening the wicket and beckoning to Hanriot]. Is all well, Hanriot?

Hanriot [in an undertone]. Everything will be satisfactory.

Vadier [pointing to Fouquier-Tinville and the Court]. They are not baulking?

Hanriot. Don't worry. I have my eye on them.

Vadier. Good. And don't hesitate; if the prosecutor flinches, arrest him. [He closes the wicket.]

Hérault [looking at the crowd]. See the people gape at us!

Danton [really ashamed, but with a forced laugh]. They're not used to seeing this old face of mine on this infamous bench. It's not an ordinary sight! Danton at the mercy of a pack of charlatans. Ha, ha! I must laugh! Look at David over there; his tongue sticks out from sheer hatred, like a dog's. Good God, Camille, pull yourself together! What the devil, the people are looking at us!

Camille. Ah, Danton, I shall never see my Lucile again!

Danton. Nonsense! You'll sleep in her arms tonight.

Camille. Get me away from here, Danton; save me. I don't know what to do. I can never defend myself!

Danton. Weaker than a girl! Keep a stiff upper lip, and remember that we are making history.

Camille. What do I care for history?

Danton. If you want to see Lucile, don't sit there looking like a criminal! What the devil are you looking at?

Camille. Look, Danton, there—

Danton. What? What is it?

Camille. Near the window—that young man—

Danton. That impudent rascal, with a shock of hair over his eyes, that law-clerk with his arm around a woman's waist?

Camille. Nothing—nothing—hallucinations: I saw, I thought I saw—myself—

Danton. Yourself?

Camille. I imagined I was in his place, at the trial of the Girondins—my victims—Oh, Danton! [Meanwhile the documents have been handed to all the jurymen.]

Judge. Fabre, do you still deny the accusations?

Fabre d'Églantine [quietly, ironically, but wearily]. There is no need of my explaining it all again: you would refuse to listen; you have already made up your mind. I showed you just now that the true version of the decree which I made out had been changed, added to, and corrected, by traitors. That is evident to any one who will take the trouble to look at the papers dispassionately and in a spirit of justice. But there is no one of that sort here: I know very well that I was condemned in advance. I was unlucky enough to incur Robespierre's displeasure, and it is your business to pander to his egotism. I know this is the end. But I am tired of life, it has brought me too much suffering for me to make an effort to preserve it.

Fouquier-Tinville. You are outraging justice, and you slander Robespierre. It is not Robespierre who accuses you of corruption: it is Cambon. It is not Robespierre who accuses you of conspiracy: it is Billaud-Varenne. Your propensity for intrigue is well-known. It has often led you to plot and conspire and write dangerous plays.

Fabre d'Églantine. Silence! Ne sutor ultra crepidam. Messieurs, you my audience, I call you to witness: have not my plays diverted you? Fouquier can take my head from me, but not my Philinte!

Fouquier-Tinville. Some abnormal form of curiosity has led you to consider the Nation's Assembly as a theater, where you sought to play upon the secret springs of the soul. You made use of everything: the ambition of certain people, the laziness of others; anxiety, envy, everything suited your ends. This impudent cleverness of yours has revealed you as the leader of an organized counter-revolution, either because your effrontery or your brazen humor were pleased to run counter to the established order—through your unhealthy disdain of reason—or rather your confessed aristocratic ideas, and your cupidity—nourished for a long time by money from Pitt for the ruin of the Republic. In 'ninety-two you were discovered conspiring with the enemy. Danton sent you to Dumouriez in order to carry on your criminal negotiations, which saved the Prussians, who were practically defeated. This now brings us to the other prisoners. I must leave you now, as they are anxious for me to tear away their masks. I shall come to you again before long, and show the center of this vast network of intrigues. [The prisoners are agitated, and the spectators become more attentive. Danton is seen speaking words of encouragement to his friends.]

Fabre d'Églantine [impertinently, to Fouquier-Tinville]. The plot was not well thought out, and the intrigue confusing; too many characters; you can't tell where they come from, and you know only too well where they are going. Why talk so much about them? Your play is execrable, Fouquier. You had much better chop off my head at once: I have the tooth-ache.

Judge [to Hérault de Séchelles]. Prisoner, your name and occupation?

Hérault. Formerly Hérault-Séchelles. Former Attorney-general at the Châtelet: I once sat in the present room. Former President of the Convention: in its name I inaugurated the Republican Constitution. Former member of the Committee of Public Safety; once the friend of Saint-Just and of Couthon, who are now murdering me.

Judge. You are an aristocrat. Your fortune dates from your relations with the Court, and from the time you were presented to the Capet woman by the Polignac woman. You have been in constant communication with the émigrés; you were the friend of Proly the Austrian, the bastard son of the Prince of Kaunitz, who was sent to the guillotine last month. You have divulged the secrets of the Committee of Public Safety, and sent important papers to foreign courts; you sheltered under your roof, in direct violation of the law, the former war commissioner Catus, who was wanted on the charge of being an émigré and a conspirator. You were even so audacious as to follow him and defend him in the Lepelletier section where he was arrested.

Hérault. I deny one thing: I never divulged state secrets, and I defy you to prove the accusation. The rest is true, I am proud to confess.

Judge. Have you any explanation to make?

Hérault. None at all. I had friends, and no power in the State could prevent my caring for them and helping them when they needed help.

Judge. You were once President of the Convention. It was your duty to furnish an example of obedience to the nation.

Hérault. I now offer them an example of another sort: sacrificing my life for my duty.

Judge. Is that all you have to say?

Hérault. That is all.

Fouquier-Tinville. The next, Herman!

Judge [to Desmoulins, who is next]. Your name and occupations?

Camille [nervously]. Lucie-Camille-Simplice Desmoulins, Deputy to the Convention.

Judge. How old are you?

Camille. As old as the {lang|fr|sans-culotte}} Jesus when he was crucified: thirty-three.

Judge. You are accused of having sought to bring discredit upon the Republic. You have spoken libelously of the actions of the State, and compared the glory of our time to the nastiness of the Roman emperors. You have reawakened the hopes of the aristocrats, excited suspicion against those who saw the necessity of putting down rebellion, and undermined the work of national defense. Under your mask of humanity, which is belied by your character as already known, you have tried to release from prison the suspects, and overwhelm the State with a counter-revolution. What have you to say in your defense?

Camille [deeply agitated, tries to answer, but can only stutter. He puts his hand to his forehead. His friends look at him in anxiety]. I ask for mercy. I don't know what's the matter—with me! I—I can't speak.

Judge. Do you confess having done these things?

Camille. No, no.

Judge. Then defend yourself.

Camille. I cannot. Excuse me. I—I am ill. [His friends press about him. He sits down, breathing hard, and mops his forehead with a handkerchief. The Judge shrugs his shoulders.]

Fouquier-Tinville. Do you confess or not?

Philippeaux. Read the seditious passages.

Danton. Yes, read them; dare read them before the people. Let them judge where their friends stand!

Judge. I have sufficiently indicated them. There is no need of again calling public attention to such dangerous sentiments.

Danton. For whom are they dangerous? For cut-throats?

Fouquier-Tinville. I see your course has been prepared in advance. We shall pay no attention to it.

Camille [in agony]. I am ashamed—I beg your pardon, all of you. I haven't slept for several nights; all these charges against me—! I'm not master of myself—I can't speak. Give me a breathing-spell. I—I feel dizzy.

Fouquier-Tinville. We have no time to waste.

Danton. At what hour have you decided to have our heads? Can't you wait, hangman?

Philippeaux. You will wait for Desmoulins. You have no right to murder people without hearing them.

Fabre d'Églantine. You know he is sensitive and very impressionable. You are trying to take advantage of his weakness. You won't do a thing to him while we still live.

Hérault [ironically]. Like the duel of the Emperor Commodius who, armed with a cavalry sword, forced his enemy to fight him with a fencing-foil tipped with cork.

Judge. Silence!

The Four Prisoners. Silence yourself, hangman!—People, protect our rights, the sacred rights of the prisoner. [The People shout: "Bravo! Bravo!"]

Danton [rubbing Desmoulins' hands]. Courage, my boy!

Camille [still nervous, but pulling himself together, he grasps Danton's hand, smiles at him, and rises]. Thank you, friends, I feel much better now. You have given me strength.—That, monsters, is what you will never have: the affection of the people. You accuse me of having spoken my mind? I am proud of it. Faithful to the Republic, which I founded, I will remain free, no matter what it costs me. You say I have insulted liberty? I have said that liberty meant happiness, reason, equality, and justice. I have committed these outrages, yes! You see, oh people, how I am rewarded! [The People acclaim him with Bravos.]

Judge. You must not address the people.

Camille. Whom should I address? The aristocrats? I begged the Committee to be merciful, for I wanted the people to enjoy the liberty which they have acquired, but which seems intended now merely to satisfy the grudges of a handful of scoundrels! I asked men to put an end to their quarreling, and that they be bound together by love into a great family. It appears that these desires are criminal. But what I call a crime is this mad political game which soils the nation and the people, forcing it to plunge their hands into innocent blood before the whole universe!

Judge. It is not your place to accuse; you are here to answer your accusers.

Camille. Very well, I accuse myself, if you like, of not having always thought as I think today. For too long did I believe in hatred; the heat of battle led me on, and I have committed too many crimes; I stirred up vengeance, and more than once the sword was drawn as a result of my writings. Innocent people were dragged here on my advice. This is my crime, my real crime, and you are my partners in it. This is the crime I am today expiating.

Judge. Whom are you referring to?

Fouquier-Tinville. Whose death do you regret?

Philippeaux. Don't answer, Desmoulins!

Fabre d'Églantine. It's a trap. Take care!

Danton. Swallow your tongue, my boy!

Camille. I refer to the Girondins, [The People murmur, and David says: "He confesses!"]

Judge. The prisoner confesses his implication in the Brissotist conspiracies.

Camille [with a shrug]. It was my Brissot dévoilé which condemned the Brissotists.

Fouquier-Tinville. But now you regret it?

Camille [not answering]. Oh, my colleagues! I say to you as Brutus said to Cicero: "We fear death too much, and exile, and poverty. Nimium timemus mortem et exilium et paupertatem." Is life so dear that we should prolong it without honor? There is not one of us who has not reached the very summit of the mountain of life. We have before us the descent, which is full of precipices, unavoidable even by the most obscure. The descent has no pleasant landscapes to offer, no resting places which were not a thousand times more delectable to that same Solomon who declared, in all his glory and in the midst of his seven hundred wives: "I find that the dead are happier than the living, and that the happiest of men is he who was never born." [He sits down.]

Danton. Fool! That speech of yours will cost us our heads! [He kisses Desmoulins. Some one comes to tell Danton that it is his turn. He rises and faces the Court.]

Judge [to Danton]. Prisoner, your name, age, occupation, and place of residence?

Danton [in a voice of thunder]. My place of residence? Soon the great void. My name? In the Panthéon. [The People are tense. They talk and appear to approve him; then suddenly they become silent, as the Judge speaks.]

Judge. You know the law. Answer categorically.

Danton. My name is Georges-Jacques Danton. I am thirty-three years old, and a native of Arcis-sur-Aube. I am a solicitor. I live in Paris at present, in the Rue des Cordeliers.

Judge. Danton, the National Convention accuses you of having conspired with Mirabeau and Dumouriez, of having known their plans for putting an end to our liberty, and of having secretly aided and abetted them. [Danton roars with laughter. The Court, the People, and even the prisoners stare at him, and then all begin to laugh. The whole room vibrates with Homeric laughter. Danton strikes the railing in front of him with his fist.]

Danton [still laughing]. Liberty conspiring against Liberty! Danton conspiring against Danton!—Scoundrels! Look me in the eye! Liberty resides here! [He puts his hands to his head.] It is in this petrified mask of mine, it is in these eyes which flame with volcanic fire; in this voice, the roar of which rocks the palaces of tyrants to their foundations. Take my head, nail it to the shield of the Republic, and it will, like Medusa, make the enemies of Liberty fall dead from fright.

Judge. I am not asking for your panegyric, but for your defense.

Danton. A man like me does not have to defend himself: my actions speak for me. I have nothing to defend, nothing to explain. I don't enshroud myself with all sorts of mysterious things if I want to make love to an old woman—as Robespierre does. My door is wide open, I have no curtains to my bed; all of France knows when I drink and when I make love. I am a man of the people; my virtues and vices are of the people; I conceal nothing from them. I show myself to the world, and I have nothing to be ashamed of.

Judge. Danton, your language is an insult to justice. The low expressions you use indicate the baseness of your soul. Moderation is the badge of innocence, and audacity that of crime.

Danton. If audacity is a crime, I speak for crime. I kiss it, and leave virtue to you, Judge: the lean kine of Pharaoh have no attraction for me. I love audacity, and I am proud of it: the audacity of a good hug. I love the huge breasts where heroes suck. The Revolution is the daughter of audacity. Audacity is what laid low the Bastille; through me, audacity urged the people of Paris against royalty; audacity it was that urged me to pick the severed head of Louis by its fat ears, and cast it in the teeth of tyrants and their God! [The People, in great excitement, show their approval of Danton.]

Judge. All this violence proves nothing. I have made specific accusations against you, and I ask you to make specific replies, adhering to the facts.

Danton. Do you expect a revolutionary like me to make a dignified answer? My soul is like bronze in a forge. The statue of Liberty is being molded in my breast. Do you want to put me into a squirrel's cage? Do you insist on putting me through a cross-examination? Catechize me? Why, I would tear the net you want to put around me to tatters; my belly would burst the shirt! I am accused, you say! Where are my accusers? Let them show themselves, and I will cover them with the opprobrium they so richly deserve!

Judge. Again, Danton, you are lacking in respect toward the representatives of the nation, toward the court and the sovereign people who have a right to demand an account of your actions. Marat was accused as you are accused. He did not become violent. He did not answer facts with athletic exhibitions and florid rhetoric. He tried to justify himself, and he succeeded. I can offer you no more brilliant example.

Danton. I shall then condescend to justify myself, and follow Saint-Just's plan. When I look through this list of horrors, my whole self shudders. I, sold to Mirabeau, Orléans, Dumouriez! I always fought them! I frustrated Mirabeau's plans when I considered them dangerous to the cause of Liberty. I defended Marat against him. The only time I saw Dumouriez was to ask him for an accounting of the millions that he had squandered. I suspected his plans, and in order to spoil them, I flattered him. Ought I to have ruined him, when the safety of the Republic lay in his hands? Yes, I did send Fabre to him; yes, I did promise to make him commander-in-chief; but at the same time I told Billaud-Varenne to keep a strict watch over him. Am I to be blamed because I lied to a traitor? I have committed many another crime for the nation. You can't save a nation with petty virtues. I would have shouldered any crime at all, if need were, to save you—all of you, judges, people, even you vile impostors who are now accusing me! I conspire with royalty? Ah, yes, indeed, I remember how I aided in establishing the royal power on the tenth of August, the triumph of the federalists on the thirty-first of May, and the victory of the Prussians at Valmy! Bring forth my accusers! I have something to say to the blackguards who are ruining the Republic! I have a few important revelations to make. I demand a hearing.

Judge. These indecent outbursts can only harm your cause. Those who accuse you enjoy the confidence of the public. Clear yourself first: a man who is accused deserves no confidence until he has washed himself clean of his accusations. It is not only your Republicanism which is now in question; you have been cited for evil living, debauchery, prodigality, and embezzlement.

Danton. Not so fast! Stop the spigot of your flowing eloquence. Let us have a few drops at a time, so that we may lose nothing. So I am accused of loving life, enjoying it? Of course, I love life. Not all the pedants of Arras and Geneva can put a stop to the joy that ferments in the district of Champagne. It swells on the vines and increases the desires of men. Shall I blush because of my superabundant vitality? Nature gave me great capacity and correspondingly great needs. I was fortunate enough not to have sprung from an enfeebled and puny and privileged race; and I have throughout my tempestuous career, preserved my natural vigor intact. What have you to complain of? My vigor has been your salvation. What do you care if I pass my nights at the Palais-Royal? Not a single caress can harm the cause of Liberty. I have enough love for everything. Have you proscribed all pleasure? Has France made an oath of chastity? Have we all fallen under the rule of a schoolmaster? Because an old fox has lost his tail must we all lose ours? [The People laugh.]

Judge. You are accused of having kept part of the money intrusted to you by the State. You have used secret moneys for the satisfaction of your pleasures. You have levied on Belgium and brought from Brussels three carriages full of plunder.

Danton. I have already answered those absurd accusations. When I was Minister under the Revolution, fifty millions were left to me. I admit that. I offered to make a strict accounting of them. Cambon gave me 40,000 livres for secret expenses. Half of this I spent openly: I gave free rein to Fabre and to Billaud. I used these funds to help the departments. As to that ridiculous tale of the archduchess' napkins, which were brought from Belgium, do you think me a handkerchief thief? My trunks were opened at Béthune, and I was detained. They found only my own clothes, and a swanskin corset. Does the corset outrage Robespierre's modesty? Is that why I am accused?

Judge. The charge of embezzlement is proved by your prodigality of the past two years. Your income was not sufficient, and you must have taken State money.

Danton. As a solicitor in the council, I bought a little property near Arcis. I have assured my mother a small income, also my father-in-law, and the good woman who brought me up. These sums are no larger than was my income before the Revolution. As for the life I led at Paris or at Arcis, possibly I have not confined my expenditures to the level of shameful economy. I do not force my friends when they sup with me to partake of the meager soup of Mère Duplay. I cannot stint myself or my friends. Are you not ashamed to trifle with Danton about how much he drinks or how much he eats? This nasty hypocrisy is threatening to overwhelm the nation. It blushes for nature, and hides its face at a real healthy thing. Its virtues are but negative virtues. So long as a man has a weak stomach and atrophied senses, lives on a little cheese and sleeps in a narrow bed, you call him Incorruptible, and imagine that that is sufficient to allow him to dispense with courage and intelligence. I detest these anæmic virtues. Virtue means to be great, for yourself and for the nation. When you have the honor of holding a great man in your midst, don't begrudge him his bread. All his needs, his passions, his capacity for sacrifice, are built on a different plan from that of ordinary men. Achilles used to eat the whole back of an ox at a single meal. If Danton requires much to feed his furnace, let him have it without a murmur. Here, in me, is the vast fire, the flames of which protect you against prowling beasts that wait their chance to spring at the throat of the Republic.

Judge. You therefore confess?

Danton. You lie! I have just denied. I have lived freely, honestly, carefully, on the money that was confided to me, but I have not been miserly. I rendered to Danton the things that were Danton's. Bring the witnesses I asked for, and we shall clear up any misunderstandings. The accusations and answers ought not to remain vague: nothing short of a categorical discussion will bring this trial to an end. Where are the witnesses? Why don't they come forth?

Judge. Your voice is tired, Danton: rest.

Danton. Not at all! I can continue.

Judge. You may continue your justification shortly, and more calmly.

Danton [furiously]. I am calm! My witnesses! I have been asking for them for the past three days! I have not yet seen a single one. I ask the public prosecutor, before the assembled audience, why justice is refused me?

Fouquier-Tinville. I have no objection to their being summoned.

Danton. Then bring them. Nothing can be done without your orders.

Fouquier-Tinville. I allow the witnesses to be called, except, of course, those designated by the prisoners as belonging to the Convention; because the accusation is made by the whole Assembly, and it would be ridiculous to insist that your own accusers should be brought in to justify you, especially when they are the representatives of the people, the guardians of the highest power, accountable only to the people.

Hérault. A good Jesuit trick! [He and Fabre d'Églantine laugh.]

Danton. I see! My colleagues will be allowed to murder me, and I shall not be permitted to bring confusion on my murderers!

Fouquier-Tinville. You dare insult the national representatives!

Philippeaux. Are we here as a mere matter of form? Do you want us to remain mute?

Camille. People, you hear! They are afraid of the truth! They fear the testimony that will confound them!

Judge. Address the court, and not the people.

Philippeaux. The people are our sole judges; you are nothing without them.

Camille. I ask the Convention!

Danton. You want to gag us, but you cannot. My voice will stir Paris to its very entrails. Light! Light!

Judge. Silence!

The People. The witnesses! [The Judges become alarmed.]

Fouquier-Tinville. It is time to cease this scandalous discussion; I shall write to the Convention of your request: we will obey their command. [The People applaud. Fouquier-Tinville and Herman consult together, write the request, and read in an undertone what they have written.]

Camille [exultant]. We have won our case!

Danton. We'll confound the blackguards. You'll see them fall into their own vileness head-first. If the French people are what they ought to be, I shall be obliged to ask their pardon.

Philippeaux. Pardon from those who seek our death?

Camille [gaily]. We shall appoint Saint-Just schoolmaster at Blérancourt and Robespierre churchwarden at Saint-Omer.

Hérault [with a shrug]. Incorrigible! They are on their way to the guillotine, and they still hope!

Danton. Idiots! To accuse Danton and Desmoulins of conspiring against the Republic! So Barère is a patriot now, and Danton an aristocrat. France won't be humbugged like that for very long! [To one of the Jury.] Do you think we are conspirators? See, he smiles. He doesn't believe it.—Write that he laughed!

Fouquier-Tinville [in the midst of his work]. I beg you to cease your personal conversations. It is against the law.

Danton. Do you dare tell your father how to make children? I was the one who organized this court; I ought to know how to behave in it.

Camille. I am beginning to take pleasure in life again. A moment ago, everything was dark; I felt as if I were already in the grave.

Danton. It isn't that everything is light: you yourself have changed. You didn't loom very large on the horizon.

Camille. I am ashamed of my weakness. My flesh is feeble.

Danton. You're a sly one! You wanted to become an object of sympathy to the women! See that girl there making eyes at you!

Hérault [softly]. My poor friends, I really pity you.

Danton. Why, my handsome fellow?

Hérault. You're selling the bear-skin, when your own is already disposed of.

Danton. My skin? Yes, I know, there are many who would like it. Saint-Just especially. Well, let him come and take it, and if he succeeds, let him make a rug of it.

Hérault. Why bother? [He shrugs his shoulders and lapses into silence. Meanwhile, Fouquier-Tinville has finished his letter, which is taken out by a guard.]

Judge. While we await the Convention's answer, let us continue. [The gendarmes make the prisoners sit down again. He says to Philippeaux.] Your name and occupation?

Philippeaux. Pierre-Nicolas Philippeaux, former judge at Le Mans, representative in the Convention.

Judge. Your age?

Philippeaux. Thirty-five.

Judge. You are charged with having paralyzed the national defense, during your mission in La Vendée; you attempted to throw the Committee of Public Safety into disrepute, by means of insulting pamphlets; you were a conspirator with Danton and Fabre in their attempt to restore the royalty.

Philippeaux. I exposed the indignation of the public against the brigandage of certain generals. It was my duty, and I accomplished it.

Judge. In this implacable struggle for France, your duty was to do everything in your power to aid the nation. You tried to hinder it.

Philippeaux. Ronsin and Rossignol are a dishonor to humanity.

Fouquier-Tinville. You were not a representative of humanity, but of the nation.

Philippeaux. My nation is humanity.

Judge. Did those you pitied, the Royalists who were crushed by Rossignol, think of humanity?

Philippeaux. There is no excuse for crime.

Fouquier-Tinville. Victory is.

Philippeaux. I accuse you.

Camille. Before all the people, I denounce these infamies!

Fouquier-Tinville [with a shrug]. Let the people judge. [The People are divided: many applaud Fouquier-Tinville and converse among themselves.]

Danton [aside to Desmoulins]. Keep your mouth shut! You're throwing stones in my garden.

Camille [astounded]. How is that?

Danton. I said what was necessary.

Judge [to Westermann]. Prisoner, stand up.

Westermann. I? Well, forward march!

Judge. Your name?

Westermann. You know my name very well.

Judge. Your name?

Westermann [with a shrug]. Always mixing things up! Ask the people!

Judge. You are François-Joseph Westermann, native of Alsace, brigadier-general. You are forty-three years old. You were to have been the sword of this conspiracy. Danton recalled you to Paris to command the soldiers in the counter-revolution. You committed atrocities in your army. You were the cause of the defeat at Châtillon. Together with Philippeaux, you attempted to kill the patriots whom it was your duty to defend. Your record is very bad. You have been three times accused of theft.

Westermann. You swine, you lie!

Judge. I shall have you sent back to your cell for insulting the law, and try you without hearing your defense.

Westermann. I was a soldier at the age of fifteen. On the tenth of August I commanded the people when we took the Tuileries. I fought at Jemmapes. Dumouriez deserted me in Holland, surrounded by the enemy, and I brought my legion to Antwerp. Then I was in La Vendee; I made trouble for the brigands of Charette and Cathelineau. Savenay, Ancenis, and Le Mans are strewn with their carcasses. So the damned pigs accuse me of being cruel? I was more than that: I was ferocious toward cowards. Do you ask for proofs against me? Here they are: I charged my cavalry through our retreating soldiers at Pontorson. I slashed the face of a cowardly officer at Châtillon. I would have burned my whole army, if necessary, in order to be victorious. I pillaged, you say? What has that to do with you? You are out of your minds. I did my duty as a soldier: I'm not a shopkeeper. My duty was to defend the Patrie by every means; I have accomplished it for the past thirty years, sparing neither my own sweat nor my blood. I received seven wounds—not one in the back—or rather the only one is my accusation.

Judge. You have often in the presence of witnesses, spoken insultingly of the Convention. You have even threatened to pull down the palace on the heads of the representatives.

Westermann. Quite true. I hate that suspicious pack of spouters who stop all action by their jealous stupidity. I said that the Convention needed to be cleaned out and I offered to carry off the manure.

Fouquier-Tinville. Do you confess to having conspired?

Westermann. What conspiracy are you talking about? I did my own thinking, and my own doing. I am a friend of none of these others. I've spoken occasionally to Danton, and I admire his energy; but he's a lawyer, too, and I never trust lawyers. France can't be saved by talk, but only by sabers.

Judge. That is enough. Your case is clear.

Westermann. Send me to the guillotine! That at least is something active—like a saber stroke. I only ask one thing: put me on my back: I want to face the knife. [Vadier and Billaud-Varenne enter. Fouquier-Tinville rises and shakes hands with them. The People are excited.]

Billaud-Varenne [in an undertone]. Scoundrels! We have them now!

Vadier [aside to Fouquier-Tinville]. This will end matters.

Fouquier-Tinville. It was high time. [Deep agitation among the People, who become silent. Fouquier-Tinville reads, standing, with the other two at his side.] "The National Convention, after having heard the report of the Committee of Public Safety and Public Security, decrees that the Revolutionary Tribunal shall continue the examination into the conspiracy of Danton and his associates; that the Judge shall use every means accorded him by law to impose respect and to put a stop to every effort on the part of the prisoners to disturb the public dignity and interfere with the course of justice, and that every prisoner accused of conspiracy who shall resist or insult the national justice shall be immediately withdrawn from the trial." [The People and the others are astonished. All at once the People begin talking, then the prisoners, at first ill at ease, burst out.]

Camille. Infamous! They are gagging us!

Philippeaux. They are not judges, but butchers.

Danton [to Fouquier-Tinville]. You have not read it all. There is something else. The answer! The answer to our demand!

Judge. Silence!

Fouquier-Tinville. The Convention communicates the following letter, received by the Committees from the police department, which shall be read in order that the court may understand the perils besetting the cause of Liberty. [Reads:] "Commune of Paris. We, the administrators of the police department, having received a letter from the concierge of the Luxembourg prison, immediately went to the said prison, and brought before us Citizen Laflotte, former minister to the Republic of Florence, who has been confined there for the past six days. He declared to us that last night, between the hours of six and seven, as he was in the room of Arthur Dillon, having taken the aforesaid Dillon to one side, told him that it was necessary to resist oppression, that the good men detained in the Luxembourg and other prisons ought to join forces; that Desmoulins' wife had placed a thousand écus at his disposal, in order to arouse the people in the neighborhood of the Revolutionary Tribunal—"

Camille [furiously]. The scoundrels! They are not satisfied with murdering me! They are trying to murder my wife!

Danton [shaking his fist at Fouquier-Tinville]. Scoundrels, scoundrels! They've invented this to ruin us! [The People are in a fury of indignation.]

Fouquier-Tinville [continuing, as he makes efforts to arouse the interest of the audience] —"Laflotte pretended to enter into their plans in order to become better acquainted with them. Dillon, believing that he had made a convert to his infamous plot, told him of various plans. Laflotte declares his willingness to reveal these details to the Committee of Public Safety—" [The People drown out his voice.]

Camille [raving like a madman]. Monsters! [He crumples the papers in his hand and throws them at Fouquier-Tinville's head. He says to the People:] Help! Help!

Danton [roaring]. Cowards! Cut-throats! Why not bind us to these benches, and cut our throats!

Philippeaux. Tyranny!

Danton. People, they are killing us—and you with us! They are murdering Danton! Paris, arise! Arise! [Two voices, at first, then all the People shout: "Tyranny!"]

Westermann. To arms! [The People repeat: "To arms!" A wild uproar indoors and out.]

Fouquier-Tinville [pale and frightened, to Billaud-Varenne and Vadier]. What shall we do? The people may attack.

Billaud-Varenne. Hanriot, clear the room.

Vadier. That would only incite them to battle, and who knows which would be the stronger?

Fouquier-Tinville [who has just looked out the window]. They are standing in crowds along the quay. They could force the doors.

Danton. People, we can do anything we will. We have triumphed over kings and over the armies of Europe. To arms! Down with the tyrants!

Vadier [to Fouquier-Tinville]. First of all, send these fellows back to prison, and get that spouter out of the way.

Danton [shaking his fist at Vadier]. Look at the cowardly cut-throats. Vadier, Vadier! Dog, come here! If this is to be a combat between cannibals, allow me at least to fight for my life!

Vadier [to Fouquier-Tinville]. Prosecutor, carry out the decree.

Fouquier-Tinville. The unheard-of indecency which the prisoners choose to employ as weapons of defense, the threats which they are so impudent as to hurl at the Tribunal, must put an end to the session. They force us to deal in like fashion under the grave circumstances. I am therefore forced to ask that the questions be asked and judgment passed in the absence of the prisoners.

Judge. The court will deliberate. Take out the prisoners. [Danton does not seem to have understood. He chokes, roaring like an animal.]

Vadier [in an undertone]. Cry, old fellow, your time has come!

Hérault [rising and dusting his coat]. This is the end.

Danton [allowing himself to be led to his bench by the gendarmes, and there falling in a heap. He suddenly pulls himself together]. Peace, Danton, peace. Our destinies are being accomplished.

Camille [supplicating]. I am a friend of Robespierre. You can't condemn me.

Westermann [to Danton]. Keep that idiot from dishonoring himself.

Danton [in consternation]. They are mad. Miserable country, what will become of you without this leader?

Hérault [to Desmoulins]. Come, my friends, let us show them we know how to die.

Danton. We have lived long enough to lay our heads on the breast of glory. Let them take us to the scaffold!

Camille. Oh, my wife! My son! Shall I never see you again? No, I cannot. My friends, help me!

Judge. Take out the prisoners.

Danton. Don't, don't; this miserable life is not worth struggling for.

Hérault [as if in a hurry to have done with everything, goes to Fabre d'Églantine, without waiting for the gendarmes, who take charge of the other prisoners]. Give me your arm, my friend; here at last is an end to your troubles.

Fabre d'Églantine. We shall at least have enjoyed a splendid performance.

Danton. Well, Fabre, here is a play that is more impressive than any you ever wrote—no offense, I hope?

Fabre d'Églantine. You have not read my latest; there are some good things in it. I tremble for fear Collot d'Herbois may destroy the manuscript. He is jealous of me.

Danton. Console yourself, we shall all do there what you did here on earth.

Fabre d'Églantine. What?

Danton. Write poetry.

Hérault. The Convention will be empty tomorrow. I yawn when I think that our survivors will be condemned, on pain of death, not to sleep through the speeches of Robespierre and Saint-Just, of Saint-Just and of Robespierre.

Danton. They will not listen very long. I have dug the grave, and Robespierre will follow me.

Fabre d'Églantine. I should like to have followed the development of the character of some of these little rascals: Barras, Talien, and Fouché. But I must not ask too much. Come, Hérault. [They go out.]

Camille [clinging to his bench, from which the gendarmes pull him]. I won't go! You will kill me in prison. Oh, People, listen to me: it was I who made the Republic. Defend me! I defended you! You won't take me from here, you monsters! Cowards, murderers! Oh, Lucile! Horace! My dear ones! [They take him out.]

Danton [deeply stirred]. I, too, have a wife and children. [Recovering his self-command.] Come, Danton, no weakness.

Westermann [to Danton]. Why don't you take advantage of the people's feelings? They are on the point of fighting.

Danton. The pigs! Nonsense! Pigs! They enjoy our little performance; they are there to applaud the victors. I've taught them only too well to act for themselves.

Westermann. Stir them up now!

Danton. Too late. And what the devil do I care? The Republic will fall, and I want to go before I see the end.

Westermann. See what happened because you hesitated! Why didn't you forestall Robespierre?

Danton. The Revolution cannot exist with both of us. I could never have defended myself without killing him. I prefer the Revolution to myself. [Westermann goes out.]

Philippeaux. Come, Danton, it is some consolation to die as one has lived.

Danton. I committed every crime for the sake of Liberty. I shouldered every task that the hypocrites shunned. I have sacrificed everything for the Revolution. I now see it was all in vain. The minx has played me false; and now she sacrifices me, as she will sacrifice Robespierre tomorrow. She will take up with the first adventurer who presents himself. Well, what of it? I regret nothing; I love her, and I am glad I dishonored myself for her sake. I pity the poor beggars who never embraced her. When once you have been intimate with the divine strumpet, you are ready to die, for you have lived. [He goes out with Philippeaux.]

Fouquier-Tinville. I ask the jury whether they have sufficient instructions?

Judge. The jury will retire to deliberate. [The Jury goes out. The People shift restlessly about, undecided what to think or do. Outside Danton is heard, and the shouting of the crowds. They rush to the windows. Some of the court also look out. Those who are in the hall, repeat what is said outside, at first in undertones, then loudly.]

Fouquier-Tinville. The riot is beginning. We'll be torn to pieces.

Vadier. Don't allow the shouting to influence the jury. Go and tell them. [They go out. The People shout angrily at Vadier and Fouquier-Tinville, who enter the jury-room.]

Judge [terror-stricken]. Citizens, the dignity of the Tribunal—Respect for justice— [The shouting drowns out his last words.] They are coming! We shall all be massacred! [He shrinks toward the door, where he takes hold of the knob. The People, in fury, tear up benches and throw them toward the judges' benches, shouting threats of death. Enter Saint-Just. The People are somewhat intimidated, and are silent. Saint-Just looks at them, coldly, and they fall back. There is dead silence for a few seconds, then murmurs are heard here and there. Vadier enters a moment after, and takes advantage of the calm to speak.]

Vadier. Citizens, the Committee on Provisions and Necessities [the People are silent] takes this occasion to announce to the public the arrival of a large amount of grain and wood at the port of Bercy. [A great clamor arises. People jostle one another in a wild attempt to leave the hall. After a few moments, only a small knot of curious onlookers remain. Vadier casts a glance of irony at the People.] Their hearts are good, but their stomachs better. [The Jury reenters. The monotony of the Judge's questions is drowned by the last stragglers. The noise outside gradually subsides, and Herman's voice becomes more distinct. Sentence is passed in a death-like silence.]

Judge. Jurymen citizens, there was a conspiracy which was to have brought dishonor upon the national representatives, re-established the monarchy, and through corruption destroy the Republican government. Is Georges-Jacques Danton, solicitor, Deputy to the National Convention, guilty of conspiracy against the Republic?

The Head of the Jury. He is.

Judge. Is Lucie-Simplice-Camille Desmoulins, solicitor, Deputy to the Convention, guilty of conspiring against the Republic?

The Head of the Jury. He is.

Judge. Is Philippe-François-Nazaire Fabre, known as Fabre d'Églantine, Deputy to the Convention, guilty of conspiring against the Republic?

The Head of the Jury. He is.

Judge. Is Pierre-Nicolas Philippeaux, former judge, and Deputy to the Convention, guilty of conspiring against the Republic?

The Head of the Jury. He is.

Judge. Is Marie-Jean Hérault-Séchelles, attorney general, and Deputy to the Convention, guilty of conspiring against the Republic?

The Head of the Jury. He is.

Judge. Is François-Joseph Westermann, brigadier-general, guilty of conspiring against the Republic?

The Head of the Jury. He is.

Fouquier-Tinville. I demand the application of the law.

Judge. Then the Tribunal condemns Georges-Jacques Danton, Lucie-Simplice-Camille Desmoulins, Marie-Jean Hérault-Séchelles, Philippe-François-Nazaire Fabre, known as Fabre d'Églantine, Pierre-Nicolas Philippeaux, and François-Joseph Westermann, to the death penalty. The Tribunal commands that this sentence be communicated to them between the two wickets of the Conciergerie by the clerk of the Tribunal, and that they be executed today, the six-teenth of Germinal, in the Place de la Révolution. [The People file out. Outside, the clamor becomes more and more indistinct.—Saint-Just, Vadier, and Billaud-Varenne look at each other in silence.]

Vadier. The rotten colossus at last laid low! The Republic can now draw a free breath.

Billaud-Varenne [looking at Saint-Just fiercely]. The Republic will never be free until her dictators have disappeared.

Saint-Just [looking straight at Vadier and Billaud-Varenne]. The Republic will never be pure until the vultures are no more.

Vadier [banteringly]. The Republic will never be free or pure until the Republic is no more!

Saint-Just. Ideas do not need men. Peoples pass away in order that God may live.