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ROBESPIERRE. Myself! the steel-strong Rectitude of soul
There are who wish my ruin-but I'll make them
Blush for the crime in blood!
Nay, but I tell thee, (Exeunt cæteri. Manet Couthon. Thou art too fond of slaughter and the right
(If right it be) workest by most foul means ! COUTHON (solus). So we deceive ourselves! What goodly virtues
Self-centering Fear ! how well thou canst ape Mercy!
Too fond of slaughter!-matchless hypocrite!
Thought Barrere so, when through the streaming
Reeld heavily, intoxicate with blood ?
Sick Fancy groan'd o'er putrid hills of slain,
Didst thou not fiercely laugh, and bless the day?
[Exit Couthon. Why, thou hast been the mouth-piece of all horrors, Enter ROBESPIERRE and BARRERE.
And, like a blood-hound, crouch'd for murder! Now
Aloof thou standest from the tottering pillar,
Or, like a frighted child behind its mother,
Hidest thy pale face in the skirts of— Mercy!
Why now I see thou 'rt weak—thy case is desperate !
The cool ferocious Robespierre turn'd scolder! *T will be a pause of terror.
Who from a bad man's bosom wards the blow
Reserves the whetted dagger for his own.
Denounced twice--and twice I saved his life! (Exit.
The sections will support them—there's the point!
Yet he is sudden in revenge-No more! Yet much they talk-and plausible their speech. I must away to Tallien.
[Erit. Couthon's decree has given such powers, that
That what? SCENE changes to the house of ADELAJDE.
ADELAIDE enters, speaking to a SERVANT.
Didst thou present the letter that I gave thee?
Did Tallien answer, he would soon return ?
He is in the Tuilleries—with him Legendre-
In deep discourse they seem'd; as I approach'd, Black all around us? In our very vitals
He waved his hand as bidding me retire : Works not the king-bred poison of rebellion ? I did not interrupt him.
[Returns the letter. Say, what shall counteract the selfish plottings Of wretches, cold of heart, nor awed by fears
Thou didst rightly. Of him, whose power directs th' eternal justice ?
[Exit SERVANT. Terror! or secret-sapping gold? The first Heavy, but transient as the ills that cause it;
O this new freedom! at how dear a price And to the virtuous patriot render'd light
We've bought the seeming good! The peaceful virtues, By the necessities that gave it birth :
And every blandishment of private life, The other fouls the fount of the republic,
The father's cares, the mother's fond endearment, Making it flow polluted to all ages;
All sacrificed to Liberty's wild riot. Inoculates the state with a slow venom,
The winged hours, that scatter'd roses round me, That, once imbibed, must be continued ever.
Languid and sad drag their slow course along, Myself incorruptible, I ne'er could bribe them
And shake big gall-drops from their heavy wings. Therefore they hate me.
But I will steal away these anxious thoughts
By the soft languishment of warbled airs,
If haply melodies may lull the sense
Enter BILLAUD VARENNES and BOURDON L'Oise. (Soft Music).
(ADELAIDE retires. Enter TALLIEN.
Tallien! was this a time for amorous conference ! Music, my love? O breathe again that air!
Henriot, the tyrant's most devoted creature, Soft nurse of pain, it soothes the weary soul
Marshals the force of Paris : the fierce club,
With Vivier at their head, in loud acclaim
Float on the scaffold.—But who comes here?
Enter BARRERE abruptly.
Say, are ye friends to Freedom? I am her's!
Let us, forgetful of all common feuds,
Rally around her shrine! E'en now the tyrant
Concerts a plan of instant massacre !
Away to the Convention! with that voice
So oft the herald of glad victory,
Rouse their fallen spirits, thunder in their ears
The names of tyrant, plunderer, assassin!
The violent workings of my soul within
Anticipate the monster's blood ?
[Cry from the street of_"No Tyrant! Doon with Memory, bosom-spring of joy.
I thank thee, Adelaide! 't was sweet, though mournful. Even for a moment hold his fate suspended,
Hear ye that outcry?-If the trembling members But why thy brow o'ercast, thy cheek so wan?
I swear, by the holy poniard that stabb'd Cæsar, Thou look'st as a lor maid beside some stream
This dagger probes his heart! That sighs away the soul in fond despairing,
(Exeunt omnes While Sorrow sad, like the dank willow near her, Hangs o'er the troubled fountain of her eye.
ROBESPIERRE (mounts the Tribune).
Once more befits it that the voice of Truth, Tell me, by whom thy brother's blood was spilt ? Fearless in innocence, though leaguer'd round Asks he not vengeance on these patriot murderers? By Envy and her hateful brood of hell, It has been borne too tamely. Fears and curses Be heard amid this hall; once more befits Groan on our midnight beds, and e'en our dreams The patriot, whose prophetic eye so oft Threaten the assassin hand of Robespierre.
Has pierced through faction's veil, to flash on crimes He dies - nor has the plot escaped his fears. Of deadliest import. Mouldering in the grave
Sleeps Capet's caitiff corse; my daring hand
Levell’d to earth his blood-cemented throne, Yet-yet-be cautious! much I fear the Commune- My voice declared his guilt, and stirr'd up France The tyrant's creatures, and their fate with his
To call for vengeance. I too dug the grave Fast link'd in close indissoluble union.
Where sleep the Girondists, detested band!
Long with the show of freedom they abused
Her ardent sons. Long time the well-turn'd phrase,
The higlı-fraught sentence, and the lofty tone Impatient of the chain, resolved and ready.
Till reason 'midst a labyrinth of words
Perplex'd, in silence seemd to yield assent.
Spirit of Marat, upon thee I call
Thou know'st me faithful, know'st with what warm They are aweary of his stern morality,
zeal The fair-mask'd offspring of ferocious pride. I urged the cause of justice, stripp'd the mask The sections too support the delegates :
From Faction's deadly visage, and destroy'd All--all is ours! e'en now the vital air
Her traitor brood. Whose patriot arm hurld down Of Liberty, condensed awhile, is bursting
Hebert and Rousin, and the villain friends (Force irresistible !) from its compressure- Of Danton, foul a poslate! those, who long To shatter the arch-chemist in the explosion! Mask'd Treason's form in Liberty's fair garb,
Long deluged France with blood, and durst defy Scowl'd once again defiance! so my soul
Might cope with worthy fues.
People of France, I-at whose name the dastard despot brood
Hear me! Beneath the vengeance of the law,
Against the sons of Freedom.
O patriot tongue, Has burst them too. Who traitor-like stept forth
Camille Desmoulins, and the venal wretch
I did, for I thought them honest. 'The fatal law, that doom'd the delegates,
And Heaven forefend that vengeance ere should strike, Unheard before their equals, to the bar
Ere justice doom'd the blow. Where cruelty sat throned, and murder reign'd
BARRERE. With her Dumas coequal ? Say—thou man
Traitor, thou didst. Of mighty eloquence, whose law was that?
Yes, the accomplice of their dark designs,
Awhile didst thou defend them, when the storm That law was mine. I urged it-I proposed- Lower'd at safe distance. When the clouds frown'd The voice of France assembled in her sons
darker, Assented, though the tame and timid voice
Fear'd for yourself and left them to their fate. Of trailors murmur'd. I advised that law
Oh, I have mark'd thee long, and through the veil I justify it. It was wise and good.
Seen thy foul projects. Yes, ambitious man,
Self-willid dictator o'er the realm of France,
Dishonor thine! He the firm patriot,
Barrere-attempt not meanly to divide
Me from my brother. I partake his guilt,
Brother, by my soul
More dear I hold thee to my heart, that thus An isolated patriot-hemm'd around
With me thou darest to tread the dangerous path By faction's noisy pack; beset and bay'd
Of virtue, than that Nature twined her cords By the foul hell-hounds who know no escape
of kindred round us. From Justice' outstretch'd arm, but by the force
BARRERE. That pierces through her breast. (Murmurs, and shouls of-Down with the tyrant !
Yes, allied in guilt,
Even as in blood ye are. Oh, thou worst wretch, ROBESPIERRE.
Thou worse than Sylla! hast thou not proscribed, Nay, but I will be heard. There was a time, Yea, in most foul anticipation slaughter'd, When Robespierre began, the loud applauses Each patriot representative of France ? Of honest patriots drown'd the honest sound. But times are changed, and villany prevails.
Was not the younger Cæsar 100 to reign
O’er all our valiant armies in the south,
And still continue there his merchant wiles ?
His merchant wiles! Oh, grant me patience, Heaven!
Was it by merchant wiles I gain'd you back
Toulon, when proudly on her captive towers
Waved high the English Nag? or fought I then Of Herbert thundered out their blasphemies,
With merchant wiles, when sword in hand I led And Danton talk'd of virtue?
Your troops to conquest ? Fought I merchant-like,
Or barter'd I for victory, when death
Strode o'er the reeking streets with giant stride,
Oh, that Brissot And shook his ebon plumes, and sternly smiled Were here again to thunder in this hall,
Amid the bloody banquet? when appallid, That Herbert lived, and Danton's giant form The hireling sons of England spread the sail
Of safety, fought I like a merchant then?
Insulted delegates of France ? St-Just Oh, patience! patience!
From your committee comes-comes charged to speak
Of matters of high import-yet omits
Their orders! Representatives of France,
That bold man I denounce, who disobeys He had led on the armies of the south,
The nation's orders.- I denounce St-Just. Till once again the plains of France were drench'd
ST-JUST With her best blood.
[Violent murmura COLLOT D'HERBOIS.
He shall be heard !
Must we contaminate this sacred hall
With the foul breath of treason?
Drag him away! Beneath the ax of death! When Cæsar-like
Hence with him to the bar. Reigns Robespierre, 'tis wisely done to doom
COUTHON. The fall of Brutus. Tell me, bloody man,
Oh, just proceedings ! Hast thou not parcell'd out deluded France,
Robespierre prevented liberty of speechAs it had been some province won in fight,
And Robespierre is a tyrant! Tallien reigns, Between your curst triumvirate ? You, Couthon,
He dreads to hear the voice of innocence-
And St-Just must be silent!
Heed we well
That justice guide our actions. No light import
Attends this day. I move St-Just be heard.
Inviolate be the sacred right of man,
The freedom of debate. And sharp'd for Danton's recreant neck the ax,
(Violent applause Should now be traitor! had I been so minded,
ST-JUST Think ye I had destroy'd the very men
I may be heard, then! much the times are changed, Whose plots resembled mine? Bring forth your proofs When St-Just thanks this hall for hearing him. Of this deep treason. Tell me in whose breast
Robespierre is call'd a tyrant. Men of France, Found ye the fatal scroll ? or tell me rather
Judge not too soon. By popular discontent
Was Aristides driven into exile,
Was Phocion murder'd ? Ere
dare pronounce Ask you proofs ? Robespierre is guilty, it befits ye well, Robespierre, what proofs were ask'd when Brissol died? Consider who accuse him. Tallien,
Bourdon of Oise-the very men denounced, What proofs adduced you when the Danton died ?
For their dark intrigues disturb'd the plan When at the imminent peril of my life
Of government. Legendre, the sworn friend I rose, and fearless of thy frowning brow,
Of Danton, fall'n apostate. Dubois Crance, Proclaim'd him guiltless ?
He who at Lyons spared the royalists
What-shall the traitor rear The fatal day. I do repent me much That I kill'd Cæsar and spared Antony.
His head amid our tribune-and blaspheme But I have been too lenient. I have spared
Each patriot? shall the hireling slave of factionThe stream of blood, and now my own must flow
ST-JUST To fill the current.
I am of no faction. I contend (Loud applauses. Against all factions.
Triumph not too soon,
I espouse the cause
Upon his own authority a report.
To-day St-Just comes down. Si-Just neglects
What the committee orders, and harangues of matters of high import. I omit Their orders. Representatives of France,
From his own will. O citizens of France, Boldly in his own person speaks St-Just
I weep for you—I weep for my poor countryWhat his own heart shall dictate.
I tremble for the cause of Liberty,
And with more insolence than kingly pride
The arrest of the traitors. Memorable Shudder, ye representatives of France,
Will be this day for France. Shudder with horror. Henriot commands
ROBESPIERRE. The marshalld force of Paris-Henriot,
Yes! memorable Foul parricide-the sworn ally of Hebert,
This day will be for France for villains triumph. Denounced by all-upheld by Robespierre. Who spared La Vallette? who promoted him, I will not share in this day's damning guilt. Stain'd with the deep dye of nobility ?
Condemn me too. Who to an ex-peer gave the high command ?
[Great cry—Down with the Tyrants! Who screen'd from justice the rapacious thief? Who cast in chains the friends of Liberty ?
(The two ROBESPIERRES, COUTHON, ST-Just and LEBAS Robespierre, the self-styled patriot Robespierre
are led off).
Cesar is fallen! The baneful tree of Java,
Whose death-distilling boughs dropt poisonous dew,
Is rooted from its base. This worse than Cromwell, I style thee tyrant, Robespierre !
The austere, the self-denying Robespierre, (Loud applauses. Even in this hall, where once with terror mute ROBESPIERRE.
We listen'd to the hypocrite's harangues, Take back the name, ye citizens of France
Has heard his doom. (Violent clamor. Cries of—Down with the Tyrant!
Yet must we not suppose
The tyrant will fall tamely. His sworn hireling
I denounce Fleuriot too, the mayor of Paris.
Enter Dubois CRANCÉ.
DUBOIS CRANCÉ. Fair Freedom's altar! Sylla-like, thy hand
Robespierre is rescued. Henriot at the head Mark'd down the virtues, that, thy foes removed, Of the arm'd force has rescued the fierce tyrant. Perpetual Dictator thou mightst reign,
Ring the tocsin-call all the citizens
To save their country--never yet has Paris And his stretch'd arm had grasp'd the diadem
Forsook the representatives of France.
This sitting be made permanent.
Loud applauses. Even to the summit of ambitious power,
COLLOT D'HERBOIS. And deem'd the name of King alone was wanting.
The National Convention shall remain Was it for this we hurl'd proud Capet down?
Firm at its post.
Enter a MESSENGER.
Robespierre has reach'd the Commune. They espouse We swore to guard our liberty with life,
The tyrant's cause. St-Just is up in arms! That Robespierre should reign? the spirit of freedom St-Just--the young ambitious bold St-Just Is not yet sunk so low. The glowing flame
Harangues the mob. The sanguinary Couthon That animates each honest Frenchman's heart
Thirsts for your blood. Not yet extinguish'd. I invoke thy shade,
[Tocsin ring 8. Immortal Brutus! I 100 wear a dagger;
TALLIEN And if the representatives of France,
These tyrants are in arms against the law : Through fear or favor, should delay the sword
Outlaw the rebels.
Enter MERLIN OF DOUAY.
[Violent applauses. Health to the representatives of France !
I past this moment through the armed force
They ask'd my name—and when they heard a delegate,