Translation:Letter from de Sade to the Ministry of Justice

Letter to the Ministry of Justice
by Marquis de Sade, translated from French by Wikisource
This edition was translated from the original French by Joshua Sherurcij in 2007.
Pélagie, ce 30 Floréal An X[1]

Citizen minister[2],

Persecuted innocence has no support except you. Supreme chief of the French magistrature, it is you alone that holds the power to execute the laws and to dismiss the arbitrary stench that undermines and dilutes them.

I am charged with being the author of the infamous book Justine; the accusation is false, I swear to you in the name of all I hold most sacred.

Massé, printer and editor of the work, caught in the act, was initially arrested and imprisoned with me, then released while you continue to detain me. He is free, the one who printed, who sold, who continues to sell. And me, I wail. I wailed for the past fifteen months in this most vile prison of Paris, while, according to the law, one cannot be held more than ten days without being under a judge.

I ask it to be. I am either the author or not, of the book of which I am charged. If I am convicted, I want to face punishment; in the opposite case, I want to go free.

What is this arbitrary bias that breaks the fetters of the guilty, and crushes the innocent? Is this what we have just sacrificed twelve years of our lives and our fortunes for?[3]

These atrocities are incompatible with the virtues which France admires in you. I beseech you to not allow me to be the victim even longer.

I want, in a word, to go free or to be judged.

I have the right to speak like this, my misfortune and the law both give it to me - and I have hope when it is you that I am addressing.

Good bye, with respect,


  1. de Sade notates the year as being "Year 10", as it was actually 1802, ten years after the formation of the National Convention.
  2. Citoyen was a term used following the French Revolution similar to the term "Comrade" in the later Soviet Union, denoting brothership
  3. A reference to the French revolution