Best 125 of French revolution quotes - MyQuotes
As long as he has for refrain nothing but la Carmagnole, he only overthrows Louis XVI.; make him sing the Marseillaise, and he will free the world.
Their resistance was made to concession; their revolt was from protection; their blow was aimed at a hand holding out graces, favours, and immunities.
Dalla parte opposta Antoine-Luois-Leon Florelle de Saint-Just, pallido, fronte bassa, profilo regolare, sguardo misterioso, tristezza profonda, ventitré anni; Merlin de Thionville, chiamato dai tedeschi Feuer-Teufel, diavolo di fuoco; Merlin de Douai, criminale autore della legge dei sospetti; Soubrany, che il popolo volle come generale al primo pratile; l'ex curato Lebon che maneggiava la spada con la mano un tempo benedicente; Billaud-Varennes che sognava una magistratura dell'avvenire senza giudici, affidata a soli arbitri; Fabre d'Eglantine, che ebbe una piacevole trovata , il calendario repubblicano, come Rouget de Lisle ebbe un'ispirazione sublime, La Marsigliese, ma l'uno come l'altro senza ritorni spirituali; Manuel, il procuratore della Comune, il quale sentenziò: «Un re morto non rappresenta un uomo di meno»; Goujon che era entrato nelle truppe a Trippe Lacroix, avvocato fattosi generale e creato cavaliere di San Luigi sei giorni prima del 12 agosto; Frèron Thersiste, figlio di Fréron-Zoile; Ruhl, inesorabile nell'esaminare il contenuto del famoso armadio di ferro, predestinato al suicidio, da perfetto repubblicano, il giorno in cui fosse caduta la repubblica; Fouché, anima demoniaca e viso cadaverico; Camboulas, l'amico di di Père Duchéne, che rimproverava a Guilliotin: «Tu appartieni al Club dei Foglianti, ma tua figlia al Club dei giacobini» Jagot, che obiettava a coloro che non approvavano la nudità dei carcerati. « Una prigione è pur sempre un abito di pietra»; Javagues, il macabro violatore di tombe di Saint-Denis; Osselin, proscrittore che concedeva asilo a una proscritta, Madame Charry; Bentabolle, il quale nelle funzioni di presidente, dava al pubblico il segnale degli applausi o delle imprecazioni; il giornalista Robert, marito di Kéralio, la quale scriveva: «Né Robespierre né Marta frequentano la mia casa, Robespierrre vi può venire quando vuole, Marat non vi metterà mai piede»; Garan Coulon, che a seguito dell'intervento della Spagna nel processo contro Luigi XVI aveva chiesto fieramente che l'assemblea non si degnasse di dar lettura della lettera di un re a favore di un altro re; Grégoire, vescovo degno della Chiesa primitiva, il quale sotto l'Impero, cancellò poi la sua fede repubblicana, assumendo il titolo di conte Grégoire; Amar, che affermava: «La terra intera condanna Luigi XVI. A chi appellarsi contro la condanna, ai pianeti?» Rouyer, il quale si era opposto all'impiego del cannone dal Pont – Neuf asserendo: «La testa di un re non deve, cadendo, far più rumore della testa di un uomo qualsiasi»; Chénier, fratello di André; Vadier, uno di quelli che posarono una pistola sulla tribuna; Tanis, che diceva a Momoro: «Voglio che Robespierre e Marat si riappacifichino alla mia tavola». «Dove abitate? A Charenton. «Mi sarei stupito che abitaste altrove»; Legendre, il macellaio della rivoluzione d'Inghilterra: « Vieni dunque che ti spacchi la testa», gridava a Lanjuinais; E costui rispondeva: «Devi ottenere prima un decreto che mi classifiche tra i buoi»; Collot d'Herbois, macabro commediante che portava sul viso l'antica maschera con due bocche, una per il sì e una per il no, uomo che approvava con l'una ciò che biasimava con l'alra, pronto ad accusare Carrier a Nantes e a deificare Châlier a Lione, a inviare Robespierre al patibolo e Marat al Pantheon; Génissieux, il quale chiedeva la pena di morte contro chiunque portasse su di sé la medaglia rappresentante Luigi XVI martirizzato; Leonard Bourdain, il maestro di scuola che aveva offerto la sua casa al vegliardo di Mont-Jura;Topsent, marinaio; Goupilleau, avvocato; Laurent Lecointre, commerciante; Duhem, medico; Sergent, scultore; David,pittore; Joseph Égalité, principe. Atri ancora: Lecointe-Piuraveau, il quale chiedeva che Marat «fosse riconosciuto in stato di demenza»;
Just think, she said to herself. I could be living on the Right Bank. I could be married to a senior clerk at the Treasury. I could be sitting with my feet up, embroidering a linen handkerchief with a rambling-rose design. Instead I'm on the rue des Cordeliers in pursuit of a baguette, with a three-inch blade for comfort.
I accuse you of marching towards supreme power. - said by Jean-Baptiste Louvet to Robespierre (1792)
Hérault, Fabre thinks: and his mind drifts back—as it tends to, these days— to the Café du Foy. He’d been giving readings from his latest—Augusta was dying the death at the Italiens—and in came this huge, rough-looking boy, shoe-horned into a lawyer’s black suit, whom he’d made a sketch of in the street, ten years before. The boy had developed this upper-class drawl, and he’d talked about Hérault—“his looks are impeccable, he’s well traveled, he’s pursued by all the ladies at Court”—and beside Danton had been this fey wide-eyed egotist who had turned out to be half the city’s extramarital interest. The years pass … plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose …
Provence and Artois will be back. Antoinette. She will resume her state. The priests will be back. Children now in their cradles will suffer for what their fathers and mothers did.' Marat leaned forward, his body hunched, his eyes intent, as he did when he spoke from the tribune at the Jacobins. 'It will be an abattoir, an abattoir of a nation.
If I were to put a date on it, I would say that the French Revolution finally came to rest after almost exactly 180 years, on April 28, 1969, when President de Gaulle resigned in a huff and the Fifth Republic, which he had founded, sailed on without him without a tremor.
Talking to Robespierre, one tried to make the right noises; but what is right, these days? Address yourself to the militant, and you find a pacifist giving you a reproachful look. Address yourself to the idealist, and you’ll find that you’ve fallen into the company of a cheerful, breezy professional politician. Address yourself to means, and you’ll be told to think of ends: to ends, and you’ll be told to think of means. Make an assumption, and you will find it overturned; offer yesterday’s conviction, and today you’ll find it shredded. What did Mirabeau complain of? He believes everything he says. Presumably there was some layer of Robespierre, some deep stratum, where all the contradictions were resolved.
There is no need for unanimity,” Saint- Just said. “It would have been desirable, but let’s get on. There are only two signatures wanting, I think, besides those who have refused. Citizen Lacoste, you next— then be so good as to put the paper in front of Citizen Robespierre, and move the ink a little nearer.
I tell you, dear Citizen Camille—it’s not the deaths I can’t stand. It’s the judgements, the judgements in the courtroom.
It [August 10th 1792] was the bloodiest day of the Revolution so far, but also one of the most decisive.
I think back to those days after the Bastille fell, the Mercure Nationale run from the back of the shop, that little Louise sticking her well-bred nose in the air and flouncing off to bawl out their printer—and you know, he was a good lad, François. I’d say, ‘Go and do this, this, this, go and tie some bricks to your boots and jump in the Seine,’ and he‘d”— Danton touched an imaginary forelock—‘right away, Georges-Jacques, and do you need any shopping while I’m out?’ Jesus, what a way to end up. When you see him, tell him I’d be obliged if he forgets he knows me.
The class-struggle is the main source of progress, and therefore the nobleman who robs the peasant and goads him to revolt is playing a necessary part, just as much as the Jacobin who guillotines the nobleman.
There is death in the folds of her skirt and blood about her feet. She is for no man.
My father doesn’t have views. He would like to, but he can’t take the risk.
The seal of Reason, made impregnable: _ The seal of Truth, immeasurably splendid: The seal of Brotherhood, man's miracle: _ The seal of Peace, and Wisdom heaven-descended: The seal of Bitterness, cast down to Hell: _ The seal of Love, secure, not-to-be-rended: The seventh seal, Equality: that, broken, God sets His thunder and earthquake for a token.
But now to die would be, indeed, to give way to the sarcasm of destiny.
Look, Fernand, your eyes are better than mine. I believe I see double. You know wine is a deceiver; but I should say it was two lovers walking side by side, and hand in hand. Heaven forgive me, they do not know that we can see them, and they are actually embracing!
Who are the Brissotins? A good question. You see, if you accuse people of a crime (for example, and especially, conspiracy) and refuse to sever their trials, then it will at once be seen that they are a group, that they have cohesion. Then if we want to say, you’re a Brissotin, you’re a Girondist—prove that you’re not. Prove that you have a right to be treated separately.
Life’s going to change. You thought it already had? Not nearly as much as it’s going to change now. Everything you disapprove of you’ll call “aristocratic.” This term can be applied to food, to books and plays, to modes of speech, to hairstyles and to such venerable institutions as prostitution and the Roman Catholic Church. If “Liberty” was the watchword of the first Revolution, “Equality” is that of the second. “Fraternity” is a less assertive quality, and must creep in where it may.
God knows what risks we take, God knows all that Danton has done. God and Camille. God will keep his mouth shut.
On March 8 Danton mounted the tribune of the Convention. The patriots never forgot the shock of his sudden appearance, nor his face, harrowed by sleepless nights and the exhaustion of traveling, pallid with strain and suffering. Complex griefs caught sometimes at his voice, as he spoke of treason and humiliation; once he stopped and looked at his audience, self-conscious for a moment, and touched the scar on his cheek. With the armies, he has seen malice, incompetence, negligence. Reinforcements must be massive and immediate. The rich of France must pay for the liberation of Europe. A new tax must be voted today and collected tomorrow. To deal with conspirators against the Republic there must be a new court, a Revolutionary Tribunal: from that, no right of appeal.
Why did you do this thing?" he says brokenly. His eyes are bright with tears. "Why did you give your life for nothing? The boy will die. You said so yourself. Now you will, too. And likely myself as well. If the guards get hold of me, I am a dead man. And for what? What did you change? The light you made is snuffed out. Hope is trampled upon. This wretched world goes on, as stupid and brutal tomorrow as it was today." ... "Oh, dead man, you're dead wrong," I tell him. "The world goes on stupid and brutal, but I do not. Can't you see? I do not.
I resent you—” Robespierre said. His words were lost. “The People,” he shouted, “are everywhere good, and if they obstruct the Revolution—even, for example, at Toulon—we must blame their leaders.” “What are you going on about this for?” Danton asked him. Fabre launched himself from the wall. “He is trying to enunciate a doctrine,” he shrieked. “He thinks the time has come for a bloody sermon." “If only,” Robespierre yelled, “there were more vertu.” “More what?” “Vertu. Love of one’s country. Self-sacrifice. Civic spirit.” “One appreciates your sense of humor, of course.” Danton jerked his thumb in the direction of the noise. “The only vertu those bastards understand is the kind I demonstrate every night to my wife.
I do no damage. This is damage, this.” He picked up a paper from Camille’s desk. “I can’t read your writing, but I take it the general tenor is that Brissot should go and hang himself.
...if the spring of popular government in time of peace is virtue, the springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror. Virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing other than justice, prompts, severe, inflexible. It is there an emanation of virtue. It is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country's most urgent needs...is force made only to protect crime? And is the thunderbolt not destined to strike the heads of the proud?... Are the enemies within not the allies of the enemies without?...
The revolutionaries failed to institute the novel forms of social and political organization they hankered after; Workers would not accept a ten-day week, or state-appointed priests, or rectangular departements, or the cult of the Supreme Being.
Messengers wait outside the door, to carry urgent orders for release. It is difficult, when the pen skips over a name, to associate it with the corpse it might belong to, tomorrow or the day after that. There is no sense of evil in the room, just tiredness and the aftertaste of petty squabbling. Camille drinks quite a lot of Fabre’s brandy. Towards daybreak, a kind of dismal camaraderie sets in.
Hunger was pushed out of the tall houses, in the wretched clothing that hung upon poles and lines; Hunger was patched into them with straw and rag and wood and paper; Hunger was repeated in every fragment of the small modicum of firewood that the man sawed off; Hunger stared down from the smokeless chimneys, and started up from the filthy street that had no offal, among its refuse, of anything to eat. Hunger was the inscription on the baker's shelves, written in every small loaf of his scanty stock of bad bread; at the sausage-shop, in every dead-dog preparation that was offered for sale. Hunger rattled its dry bones among the roasting chestnuts in the turned cylinder; Hunger was shred into atomics in every farthing porringer of husky chips of potato, fried with some reluctant drops of oil.
Of course I have had to rearrange the text a bit— bugger about with it, as Hébert would say.
Georges told me he would be back, and I have no reason to disbelieve him—but perhaps you’d like to sit down here and write him a letter? Tell him you can’t manage the thing without him, which is true. Tell him Robespierre says he can’t get along without him. And when you’re done, you might go and find Robespierre and ask him to call. He is such a steadying influence when Camille is killing himself.
Chorus: The Kings are our dear fathers Under whose care we live in peace The Kings are our dear fathers Under whose care we live in peace Marat: And the children repeated the lesson they believed it As anyone believes What they hear over and over again And over and over again the priests said Our love embraces all mankind Of every colour race and creed Our love is international universal We are all brothers every one And the priests looked down into the pit of injustice And they turned their faces away and said Our Kingdom is not as the kingdom of this world Our life on earth is out a pilgrimage The soul lives on humility and patience At the same time screwing from the poor their last centime They settled down among their treasures And ate and drank with princes And to the starving they said Suffer Suffer as he suffered on the cross For it is the will of God And anyone believes what they hear over and over again So the poor instead of bread made do with a picture Of the bleeding scourged and nailed-up Christ And prayed to that image of their helplessness And the priests said Raise your hands to heaven bend your knees And bear your suffering without complaint For prayer and blessing are the only stairways Which you can climb to Paradise And so they chained down the poor in their ignorance So that they wouldn't stand up and fight their bosses Who ruled in the name of the lie of divine right Chorus: Amen
Sir, did you not hear the orders of the King?" Bailly replied: "...It seems o me that the nation assembled cannot take orders.
8 April 1891 The obscenity of nostrils and mouths; the ignominious cupidity of smiles and women encountered in the street; the shifty baseness on every side, as of hyenas and wild beasts ready to bite: tradesmen in their shops and strollers on their pavements. How long must I suffer this? I have suffered it before, as a child, when, descending by chance to the servant's quarters, I overheard in astonishment their vile gossip, tearing up my own kind with their lovely teeth. This hostility to the entire race, this muted detestation of lynxes in human form, I must have rediscovered it later while at school. I had a repugnance and horror for all base instincts, but am I not myself instinctively violent and lewd, murderous and sensual? Am I any different, in essence, from the members of the riotous and murderous mob of a hundred years ago, who hurled the town sergeants into the Seine and cried, 'String up the aristos!' just as they shout 'Down with the army!' or 'Death to the Jews!
Joseph De Maistre
But just let the masters of the world -- princes, kings, emperors, powerful majesties, invincible conquerors -- let them only try to make the people dance on a certain day each year in a set place. This is not much to ask, but I dare swear that they will not succeed, whereas, if the humblest missionary comes to such a spot, he will make himself obeyed two thousand years after his death. Every year the people meet together around a rustic church in the name of St. John, St. Martin, St. Benedict, and so on; they come filled with boisterous yet innocent cheerfulness; religion sanctifies this joy and the joy embellishes religion: they forget their sorrows; at night, they think of the pleasure to come on the same day next year, and this date is stamped on their memory. By the side of this picture put that of the French leaders who have been vested with every power by a shameful Revolution and yet cannot organize a simple fete.
Vienne had been wrong about grief, to think of it as mere sadness, to believe it could be dammed while inconvenient, or set free to run its course and then dry up. It was a crush in the chest, a sharp pull in the gut, pain that encircled back without warning. No respecter of time or will.
The defenders retreated, but in good order. A musket flamed and a ball shattered a marine’s collar bone, spinning him around. The soldiers screamed terrible battle-cries as they began their grim job of clearing the defenders off the parapet with quick professional close-quarter work. Gamble trod on a fallen ramrod and his boots crunched on burnt wadding. The French reached steps and began descending into the bastion. 'Bayonets!' Powell bellowed. 'I want bayonets!' 'Charge the bastards!' Gamble screamed, blinking another man's blood from his eyes. There was no drum to beat the order, but the marines and seamen surged forward. 'Tirez!' The French had been waiting, and their muskets jerked a handful of attackers backwards. Their officer, dressed in a patched brown coat, was horrified to see the savage looking men advance unperturbed by the musketry. His men were mostly conscripts and they had fired too high. Now they had only steel bayonets with which to defend themselves. 'Get in close, boys!' Powell ordered. 'A Shawnee Indian named Blue Jacket once told me that a naked woman stirs a man's blood, but a naked blade stirs his soul. So go in with the steel. Lunge! Recover! Stance!' 'Charge!' Gamble turned the order into a long, guttural yell of defiance. Those redcoats and seamen, with loaded weapons discharged them at the press of the defenders, and a man in the front rank went down with a dark hole in his forehead. Gamble saw the officer aim a pistol at him. A wounded Frenchman, half-crawling, tried to stab with his sabre-briquet, but Gamble kicked him in the head. He dashed forward, sword held low. The officer pulled the trigger, the weapon tugged the man's arm to his right, and the ball buzzed past Gamble's mangled ear as he jumped down into the gap made by the marines charge. A French corporal wearing a straw hat drove his bayonet at Gamble's belly, but he dodged to one side and rammed his bar-hilt into the man's dark eyes. 'Lunge! Recover! Stance!
And Louis is weak. Let him give an inch, and some Cromwell will appear.
Madame Tallien shared honors with Josephine Beauharnais in being mistress to Barras, an ex-nobleman and ex-terrorist whose appetite for beautiful women, beautiful young men, and money was the only wholesome trait in his character.
It’s all right for you, you and Danton. I have to go and stutter for two hours at the Jacobins and probably be knocked down again by maddened violin makers and trampled by all sorts of tradesmen. Whilst Danton spends his evenings feeling up his new girlfriend and you lie around here in a nice fever, not too high. If you’re an instrument of destiny, and anyone would do instead, why don’t you take a holiday?
The people asks only for what is necessary, it only wants justice and tranquility, the rich aspire to everything, they want to invade and dominate everything. Abuses are the work and the domain of the rich, they are the scourges of the people: the interest of the people is the general interest, that of the rich is a particular interest.
I shall get nothing from these fools,' he muttered; 'and I am very much afraid of being here between a drunkard and a coward. Here's an envious fellow making himself boozy on wine when he ought to be nursing his wrath, and here is a fool who sees the woman he loves stolen from under his nose and takes on like a big baby. Yet this Catalan has eyes that glisten like those of the vengeful Spaniards, Sicilians, and Calabrians, and the other has fists big enough to crush an ox at one blow. Unquestionably, Edmond's star is in the ascendant, and he will marry the splendid girl--he will captain, too, and laugh at us all, unless'--a sinister smile passed over Danglars' lips--'unless I take a hand in the affair,' he added.
I am no one’s agent. I am the agent of the law. All the conspiracies pass through my hands. The Committee, you know, draws its present unity from being conspired against. I do not know what would happen if the policy of believing in conspiracies were changed.
Without order as a foundation, the cry for freedom is nothing more than the attempt of some group or another to achieve its own ends. When actually carried out in practice, that cry for freedom will inevitably express itself in tyranny.
Georges was in a rage. It is a spectacle to comtemplate, his rage. He tore off his cravat, strode about the room, his throat and chest glistening with sweat, his voice shaking the windows. “This bloody so-called Revolution has been a waste of time. What have the patriots got out of it? Nothing.” He glared around the room. He looked as if he would hit anyone who contradicted him. Outside there was some far-off shouting, from the direction of the river. “If that’s true—” Camille said. But he couldn’t manage it, he couldn’t get his words out. “If this one’s done for—and I think it always was done for—” He put his face into his hands, exasperated with himself. “Come on, Camille,” Georges said, “there’s no time to wait around for you. Fabre, please bang his head against the wall.” “That’s what I’m trying to say, Georges- Jacques. We have no more time left.” I don’t know whether it was the threat, or because he suddenly saw the future, that Camille recovered his voice: but he began to speak in short, simple sentences. “We must begin again. We must stage a coup. We must depose Louis. We must take control. We must declare the republic. We must do it before the summer ends.
Frederick The Great
But France's powerful armies, and a very large number of fortresses, ensure that the French Sovereign will possess the throne forever, and they do not have anything to fear now concerning internal wars or their neighbors invading France.
He stepped back, looked up. Cut into the stone above his head were the words RUE MARAT. For a moment he had the urge to turn back around the corner, climb the stairs, shout to the servants not to bother unpacking, they’d be returning to Arcis in the morning. He looked up to the lighted windows above his head. If I go up there, he thought, I’ll never be free again. If I go up there I commit myself to Max, to joining with him to finish Hébert, and perhaps to governing with him. I commit myself to fishing Fabre out of trouble—though God alone knows how that’s to be managed. I put myself once more under the threat of assassination; I recommence the blood feuds, the denunciations. His face hardened. You can’t stand in the street calling into question the last five years of your life, just because they’ve changed the street name; you can’t let it alter the future. No, he thought—and he saw it clearly, for the first time—it’s an illusion, about quitting, about going back to Arcis to farm. I’ve been lying to Louise: once in, never out.
The Comtesse's fellow prisoners in this antechamber to death were characteristic of the ill-assorted gatherings thrown together in Revolutionary prisons: duchesses and prostitutes, actresses and politicians: the Duchesse de Crequy-Montmorency and Madame Roland; Madame du Barry and Madame Brissot; the random debris of a sunken ship thrown together for a moment by the tide of fortune and a moment later violently dispersed. All of them were already ghosts, standing on the shoreline of the last limits of life, waiting their turn for Charon and his grim tumbrel to ferry them across the Styx.
In this new hall the factions regroup in their old places. Legendre the butcher bawls out a Brissotin: “I’ll slaughter you!” “First,” says the deputy, “have a decree passed to say that I am an ox.