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There are who wish my ruin-but I 'll make them
Nay, but I tell thee, [Exeunt cateri. 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! Bloom on the poisonous branches of ambition! Still, Robespierre! thou'lt guard thy country's freedom Thought Barrere so, when Brissot, Danton died ?
Too fond of slaughter !--matchless hypocrite! To despotize in all the patriot's pomp.
Thought Barrere so, when through the streaming While Conscience,'mid the mob's applauding clamors, Sleeps in thine car, nor whispers—blood-stain'd tyrant of Paris red-eyed Massacre o'er-wearied Yet what is Conscience? Superstition's dream, Making such deep impression on our sleep
Reel'd heavily, intoxicate with blood ?
And when (O heavens !) in Lyons' death-red square That long th' awaken'd breast retains its horrors !
Sick Fancy groan'd o'er putrid hills of slain, But he returns and with him comes Barrere.
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 totiering 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. Gathering its strength anew. The dastard traitors! Moles, that would undermine the rooted oak!
The sections will support them—there's the point! A pause !—a moment's pause -'T is all their life.
No! he can never weather out the storm
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. BARRERE.
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 LegendreAre not the congregated clouds of war
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
ADELAIDE 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,
And shake big gall-drops from their heavy wings. Myself incorruptible, I ne'er could bribe themTherefore 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! Down wick Memory, bosom-spring of joy.
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 lorn 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.
SCENE.— The Convention.
ROBESPIERRE (mounts the Tribune).
Once more befits it that the voice of Truth,
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.
llas 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! The Pale Convention
Long with the show of freedom they abused TALLIEN.
Her ardent sons. Long time the well-turn'd phrase, Hate him as they fear him, of declamation, thunderd in this hall,
The high-fraught sentence, and the lofty tone Impatient of the chain, resolved and ready.
Till reason ’midst a labyrinth of words
Perplex'd, in silence seem'd to yield assent.
I durst oppose. Soul of my honor'd friend!
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 hurl'd down Of Liberty, condensed awhile, is bursting
Hebert and Rousin, and the villain friends (Force irresistible !) from its compressure- Of Danton, foul a postate! 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 Scowld once again defiance! so my soul
Might cope with worthy foes.
People of France, K-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 Belying the foul heart! Who was it urged,
Amid the hall of Jacobins to save
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.
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 traiurs 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 And legalize their murders. I stand here
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 By the foul hell-hounds who know no escape
Of virtue, than that Nature twined her cords From Justice' outstretch'd arm, but by the force
Of kindred round us.
pierces through her breast.
Yes, allied in guilt,
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 flag? 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
[Loud applauses. With her best blood.
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.
The freedom of debate.
(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 ye 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 That I kill'd Caesar 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
I am of no faction. I contend
I espouse the cause
Upon his own authority a report.
To-day St-Just comes down. St-Just neglects Of matters of high import. I omit
What the committee orders, and harangues 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 country, What 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 marshall'd 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.
Condemn me too.
[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
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
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 Oppression falls. The traitor stands appallid- Henriot, the daring desperate Henriot Guilt's iron fangs engrasp his shrinking soul
Coromands the force of Paris. I denounce him. He hears assembled France denounce his crimes ! He sees the mask torn from his secret sins- I denounce Fleuriot too, the mayor of Paris. He trembles on the precipice of fate. Fall'n guilty tyrant! murder'd by thy rage,
Enter Dubois CRANCÉ. How many an innocent victim's blood has stain'd
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
Forsook the representatives of France.
This sitting be made permanent.
[Loud applauses. Even to the gummit 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 animales each honest Frenchman's heart
Thirsts for your blood. Not yet extinguishid. I invoke thy shade,
[Tocsin rings. Immortal Brutus! I 100 wear a dagger; And if the representatives of France,
These tyrants are in arins 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,