Jean-Paul Marat

Jean-Paul Marat
Born 24 May 1743 (1743-05-24)
Boudry, Neuchtel, Switzerland
Died 13 July 1793 (1793-07-14) (aged 50)
Paris, France
Cause of death Assassination
Nationality Prussian
Education College until sixteen then self-taught
Occupation Journalist, Politician, Physician, Scientist
Title Doctor
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Simonne (sic) Evrard
Children None
Parents Jean (Giovanni) Mara, Louise Cabrol

Jean-Paul Marat (24 May 1743 – 13 July 1793) was a Swiss-born physician, political theorist, and scientist better known as a radical journalist and politician from the French Revolution. His journalism was renowned for its fiery character and uncompromising stance towards the new government, "enemies of the revolution" and basic reforms for the poorest members of society. Marat was one of the more extreme voices of the French Revolution and he became a vigorous defender of the Parisian sans-culottes; he broadcast his views through impassioned public speaking, essay writing, and newspaper journalism, which carried his message throughout France. Marat's radical denunciations of counter-revolutionaries supported much of the violence that occurred during the wartime phases of the French Revolution. His constant persecution of "enemies of the people," consistent condemnatory message, and uncanny prophetic powers brought him the trust of the populace and made him their unofficial link to the radical Jacobin group that came to power in June 1793. For the two months leading up to the downfall of the Girondin faction in June, he was one of the three most important men in France, alongside Georges Danton and Maximilien Robespierre. He was murdered in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday, a Girondin sympathizer.


[edit] Scientist and physician

Jean-Paul Marat was born in Boudry in the Prussian principality of Neuchtel, now part of Switzerland, on 24 May 1743. He was the second of nine children born to Jean Mara (Giovanni Mara), a native of Cagliari, Sardinia, and Louise Cabrol, a French Huguenot from Castres. His father was a Mercedarian "commendator" and religious refugee who converted to Calvinism in Geneva. At the age of sixteen, Marat left home and set off in search of fame and fortune, aware of the limited opportunities for outsiders. His highly educated father had been turned down for several secondary teaching posts. His first post was as a private tutor to the wealthy Nairac family in Bordeaux. After two years there he moved on to Paris where he studied medicine without gaining any formal qualifications. Moving to London around 1765, for fear of being "drawn into dissipation", he set himself up informally as a doctor, befriended the Royal Academician artist Angelika Kauffmann, and began to mix with Italian artists and architects in the coffee houses around Soho. Highly ambitious, but without patronage or qualifications, he set about imposing himself into the intellectual scene with essays on philosophy ("A philosophical Essay on Man", published 1773) and political theory ("Chains of Slavery", published 1774).[1] Voltaire's sharp critique in defense of his friend Helvtius brought the young Marat to wider attention for the first time and reinforced his growing sense of the wide division between the materialists, grouped around Voltaire on one hand, and their opponents, grouped around Rousseau on the other.[2]

Around 1770, Marat moved to Newcastle upon Tyne, possibly gaining employment as a veterinarian. His first political work Chains of Slavery, inspired by the activities of the MP and Mayor John Wilkes, was most probably compiled in the central library here. By Marat's own colourful account, he lived on black coffee for three months, during its composition, sleeping only two hours a night - and then slept soundly for thirteen days in a row.[citation needed] He gave it the subtitle, "A work in which the clandestine and villainous attempts of Princes to ruin Liberty are pointed out, and the dreadful scenes of Despotism disclosed". It earned him honorary membership of the patriotic societies of Berwick, Carlisle and Newcastle. The Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society Library[3] possesses a copy, and Tyne and Wear Archives Service holds three presented to the various Newcastle guilds.

A published essay on curing a friend of gleets (gonorrhea) probably helped him to secure his referees for an honorary medical degree from the St. Andrews University in June 1775. On his return to London, he further enhanced his reputation with the publication of an Enquiry into the Nature, Cause, and Cure of a Singular Disease of the Eyes.

In 1776, Marat moved to Paris following a brief stopover in Geneva to visit his family. Here his growing reputation as a highly effective doctor, along with the patronage of the marquis de l'Aubespine, the husband of one of his patients, secured his appointment, in 1777, as physician to the bodyguard of the comte d'Artois, Louis XVI's youngest brother who was to become king Charles X in 1824. The position paid 2,000 livres a year plus allowances.

Marat was soon in great demand as a court doctor among the aristocracy and he used his new-found wealth to set up a laboratory in the marquise de l'Aubespine's (thought to be his mistress) house. Soon he was publishing works on fire & heat, electricity and light. In his Mmoires, his later enemy Brissot admitted Marat's growing influence in Parisian scientific circles. However, when Marat presented his scientific researches to the Acadmie des Sciences, they were not approved and he was rejected as a member several times. In particular, the Academicians were appalled by his temerity in disagreeing with the (hitherto uncriticized) Newton. Benjamin Franklin visited him on several occasions and Goethe described his rejection by the Academy as a glaring example of scientific despotism. In 1780, Marat published his "favourite work", a Plan de lgislation criminelle. Inspired by Rousseau and Beccaria, his polemic for judicial reform argued for a common death penalty for all regardless of social class and the necessity for a twelve-man jury to ensure fair trials.

In April 1786, he resigned his court appointment and devoted his energies full-time to scientific research. He published a well-received translation of Newton's Opticks (1787), and later a collection of experimental essays including a study on the effect of light on soap bubbles in his Mmoires acadmiques, ou nouvelles dcouvertes sur la lumire ("Academic memoirs, or new discoveries on light", 1788).

[edit] "Friend of the People"

On the eve of the French Revolution, Marat placed his career as a scientist and doctor behind him and took up his pen on behalf of the Third Estate. After 1788, when the Parlement of Paris and other Notables advised the assembling of the Estates-General for the first time in 175 years, Marat devoted himself entirely to politics.[4] His Offrande la Patrie ("Offering to the Nation") dwelt on much the same points as the Abb Sieys' famous "Qu'est-ce que le Tiers tat?" ("What is the Third Estate?") When the Estates-General met, in June 1789, he published a supplement to his Offrande, followed in July by La Constitution ("The Constitution") and in September by the Tableau des vices de la constitution d'Angleterre ("Tableau of the flaws of the English constitution") intended to influence the structure of a constitution for France. The latter work was presented to the National Constituent Assembly and was an anti-oligarchic dissent from the anglomania that was gripping that body.

In September 1789, Marat began his own paper, which was at first called Moniteur patriote ("Patriotic Watch"), changed four days later to Publiciste parisien, and then finally L'Ami du peuple ("The Friend of the People"). From this position, he expressed suspicion of those in power, and dubbed them "enemies of the people". Although Marat never joined a specific faction during the Revolution, he condemned several sides in his L'Ami du peuple, and reported their alleged disloyalties (until he was proven wrong or they were proven guilty).

Marat often attacked the most influential and powerful groups in Paris, including the Corps Municipal, the Constituent Assembly, the ministers, and the Cour du Chtelet. In January 1790, he moved to the radical Cordeliers section, the Club des Cordeliers, then under the leadership of the lawyer Danton, was nearly arrested for his aggressive campaign against the marquis de La Fayette, and was forced to flee to London, where he wrote his Dnonciation contre Necker ("Denunciation of Jacques Necker"), an attack on Louis XVI's popular Finance Minister. In May, he returned to Paris to continue the publication of L'Ami du peuple, and attacked many of France's most powerful citizens. Fearing reprisal, Marat went into hiding in the Paris sewers, where he almost certainly aggravated a debilitating chronic skin disease (dermatitis herpetiformis).[5]

During this period, Marat made regular attacks on the more conservative revolutionary leaders. In a pamphlet from 26 July 1790, entitled "C'en est fait de nous" ("We're done for!"), he wrote:

Five or six hundred heads would have guaranteed your freedom and happiness but a false humanity has restrained your arms and stopped your blows. If you don–t strike now, millions of your brothers will die, your enemies will triumph and your blood will flood the streets. They'll slit your throats without mercy and disembowel your wives. And their bloody hands will rip out your children–s entrails to erase your love of liberty forever.

[edit] Events

From 1790 to 1792, Marat frequently had to go into hiding. In April 1792, he married the 26-year-old Simonne Evrard in a common-law ceremony on his return from exile in London, having previously expressed his love for her. She was the sister-in-law of his typographer, Jean-Antoine Corne, and had lent him money and sheltered him on several occasions.

Marat only emerged publicly on the 10 August Insurrection, when the Tuileries Palace was invaded and the royal family forced to shelter within the Legislative Assembly. The spark for this uprising was Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg's provocative proclamation, which called for the crushing of the Revolution and helped to inflame popular outrage in Paris.

[edit] The National Convention

"Marat's Triumph": a popular engraving of Marat borne away by a joyous crowd following his acquittal.

Marat was elected to the National Convention in September 1792 as one of 26 Paris deputies although he belonged to no party. When France was declared a Republic on 22 September, Marat renamed his L'Ami du peuple as Le Journal de la Rpublique franaise ("Journal of the French Republic"). His stance during the trial of the deposed king Louis XVI was unique. He declared it unfair to accuse Louis for anything before his acceptance of the French Constitution of 1791, and, although implacably believing that the monarch's death would be good for the people, defended Guillaume-Chrtien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, the King's counsel, as a "sage et respectable vieillard" ("wise and respected old man").

On 21 January 1793, Louis XVI was guillotined, which caused political turmoil. From January to May, Marat fought bitterly with the Girondins, whom he believed to be covert enemies of republicanism. The Girondins won the first round when the Convention ordered that Marat should be tried before the Revolutionary Tribunal. However, their plans were scuppered when Marat was acquitted with much popular support and carried back to the Convention in triumph with a greatly enhanced public profile.

[edit] Death

Marat's death mask

The fall of the Girondins on 2 June, helped by the actions of Franois Hanriot, the new leader of the National Guard, was one of Marat's last great achievements. Forced to retire from the Convention as a result of his worsening skin disease, he continued to work from home, where he soaked in a medicinal bath. Now that The Mountain no longer needed his support in the struggle against the Girondins, Robespierre and other leading Montagnards began to separate themselves from him, while the Convention largely ignored his letters.

Marat was in his bathtub on 13 July, when a young woman from Caen, Charlotte Corday, appeared at his flat, claiming to have vital information on the activities of the escaped Girondins who had fled to Normandy. Despite his wife Simonne's protests, Marat asked for her to enter and gave her an audience by his bath, over which a board had been laid to serve as a writing desk. Their interview lasted around fifteen minutes. He asked her what was happening in Caen and she explained, reciting a list of the offending deputies. After he had finished writing out the list, Corday claimed that he told her, "Their heads will fall within a fortnight". A statement which she later changed at her trial to, "Soon I shall have them all guillotined in Paris". This was unlikely since Marat did not have the power to have anyone guillotined. At that moment, Corday rose from her chair, drawing out the eight-inch kitchen knife concealed in her corset, which she had bought earlier that day, and brought it down hard into Marat–s chest, where it pierced his ribs, perforating the right lung and severing the aorta, close to the heart. The massive bleeding was fatal within seconds. Slumping backwards, Marat cried out his last words to Simonne, " moi, ma chre amie!" ("Help me, my dear friend!") and died.

Corday was a Girondin sympathiser who came from an impoverished royalist family–her brothers were migrs who had left to join the exiled royal princes. From her own account, and those of witnesses, it is clear that she had been inspired by Girondin speeches to a hatred of the Montagnards and their excesses, symbolised most powerfully in the character of Marat.[6] Marat's assassination contributed to the mounting suspicion which fed the Terror during which thousands of the Jacobins' adversaries – both royalists and Girondins – were executed on supposed charges of treason. Charlotte Corday was guillotined on 17 July 1793 for the murder. During her four-day trial, she had testified that she had carried out the assassination alone, saying "I killed one man to save 100,000."

[edit] Memory in the Revolution

Marat's assassination led to his apotheosis. The painter Jacques-Louis David, a member of one of the two 'Great Committees' (the Committee of General Security), was asked to organize a grand funeral. David took up the task of immortalizing Marat in the painting The Death of Marat, beautifying the skin that was discoloured and scabbed from his chronic skin disease in an attempt to create antique virtue. The entire National Convention attended Marat's funeral and he was buried under a weeping willow, in the garden of the former Club des Cordeliers (former Couvent des Cordeliers). On his tomb, the inscription on a plaque read: "'Unit, Indivisibilit de la Rpublique, Libert, galit, Fraternit ou la mort'". His heart was embalmed separately and placed in an urn in an altar erected to his memory at the Cordeliers.[7] His remains were transferred to the Panthon on 25 November 1793 and his near messianic role in the Revolution was confirmed with the elegy: Like Jesus, Marat loved ardently the people, and only them. Like Jesus, Marat hated kings, nobles, priests, rogues and, like Jesus, he never stopped fighting against these plagues of the people. The eulogy was given by the Marquis de Sade, delegate of the Section Piques and an ally of Marat's faction in the National Convention. By this stage De Sade was becoming disgusted with the excesses of the Reign of Terror and was later removed from office and imprisoned for "moderatism" on the fifth of December.

On 19 November, the port city of Le Havre-de-Grce changed its name to Le Havre-de-Marat and then Le Havre-Marat. When the Jacobins started their dechristianisation campaign to set up the Cult of Reason of Hbert and Chaumette and Cult of the Supreme Being of Robespierre, Marat was made a quasi-saint, and his bust often replaced crucifixes in the former churches of Paris.

By early 1795, however, Marat's memory had become tarnished. On 13 January 1795, Le Havre-Marat became simply Le Havre, the name it bears today. In February, his coffin was removed from the Panthon and his busts and sculptures were destroyed. His final resting place is the cemetery of the Church Saint-tienne-du-Mont.

His memory lived on in the Soviet Union. Marat became a common name and the Russian battleship Petropavlovsk (Russian: ññ¿»ñ) was renamed Marat in 1921. A street in the centre of Sevastopol was named after Marat (Russian: »ñ ññ) on 3 January 1921, shortly after the Soviets took over the city.[8]

[edit] Skin disease

Described during his time as a man "short in stature, deformed in person, and hideous in face,"[9] Marat has long been noted for physical irregularities. The nature of Marat's debilitating skin disease, in particular, has been an object of ongoing medical interest. Dr. Josef E. Jelinek noted that his skin disease was intensely itchy, blistering, began in the perianal region, and was associated with weight loss leading to emaciation. He was sick with it for the three years prior to his assassination, and spent most of this time in his bathtub. There were various minerals and medicines that were present in his bath while he soaked to help ease the pain caused by his debilitating skin disease. The bandana that is seen wrapped around his head was soaked in vinegar to reduce the severity of his discomfort.[10] Jelinek's diagnosis is dermatitis herpetiformis.[5]

[edit] Bathtub

After Marat's death, his wife may have sold his bathtub to her journalist neighbour, as it was included in an inventory of his possessions after his death. The royalist de Saint-Hilaire bought the tub, taking it to Sarzeau, Morbihan in Brittany. His daughter, Capriole de Saint-Hilaire inherited it when he died in 1805 and she passed it on to the Sarzeau cur when she died in 1862.

A journalist for Le Figaro tracked down the tub in 1885. The cur then discovered that selling the tub could earn money for the parish, yet the Muse Carnavalet turned it down due to its lack of provenance as well as the high price. The cur approached Madame Tussaud's waxworks, who agreed to purchase Marat's bathtub for 100,000 francs; however, the cur's acceptance was lost in the mail. After rejecting other offers, including one from Phineas Barnum, the cur sold the tub for 5,000 francs to the Muse Grvin, where it remains today.[11] The tub was in the shape of an old-fashioned high-buttoned shoe and had a copper lining.[12]

[edit] Works

Besides the works mentioned above, Marat wrote:

  • Recherches physiques sur l'lectricit, &c. (1782)
  • Recherches sur l'lectricit mdicale (1783)
  • Notions lmentaires d'optique (1784)
  • Lettres de l'observateur Bon Sens M. de M sur la fatale catastrophe des infortuns Pilatre de Rozier et Ronzain, les aronautes et l'arostation (1785)
  • Observations de M. l'amateur Avec M. l'abb Sans . . . &c., (1785)
  • loge de Montesquieu (1785), published 1883 by M. de Bresetz
  • Les Charlatans modernes, ou lettres sur le charlatanisme acadmique (1791)
  • Les Aventures du comte Potocki (published in 1847 by Paul Lacroix)
  • Lettres polonaises (recently translated into French from the English; disputed by French biographical authorities)

[edit] Artistic and theatrical representations

  • Death of Marat I is a painting painted by Edvard Munch.
  • The Marquis de Sade wrote an admiring eulogy for Marat.
  • The Death of Marat is a famous painting by Jacques-Louis David.
  • Peter Weiss wrote a play titled The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat, as performed by the inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the direction of the Marquis de Sade, (1963) also known as Marat/Sade. A motion picture based on Weiss' play was produced in 1964 (US 1966) under the direction of Peter Brook, and featured performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • In Victor Hugo's book, Quatrevingt-treize (1874), he is featured in one chapter, where he quarrels with Robespierre and Danton.
  • He appears in Anatole France's Les dieux ont soif (The Gods are thirsty)(1912), a historical novel about the French Revolution.
  • He appears as a minor though distinct character in Hilary Mantel's "A Place of Greater Safety".
  • He appears in Abel Gance's epic silent masterpiece Napoleon (1926) played by Antonin Artaud.
  • A. Dima's Marat's Son is a fictional retelling of Marat's life.
  • The opera Il piccolo Marat by Pietro Mascagni and Giovacchino Forzano (1921) features a main character, dubbed "Little Marat," who poses as a revolutionary dedicated to Marat's principles. He is also a central figure in the opera Charlotte Corday, written in 1989 by Italian composer Lorenzo Ferrero.
  • The Palace of Versailles, a song about the French Revolution from Al Stewart's 1978 album Time Passages, includes the line "Marat, your days are numbered."
  • Rock group R.E.M.'s song We Walk from their 1983 album Murmur features a lyrical reference to "Marat's bathing."
  • Marat/Sade is a Richard Peaslee composition featured on the Judy Collins album, "In My Life."
  • In Moyshe Kulbak's novel "The Zelmenyaners" a child is by named by his Bolshevik father for the revolutionary figure, despite the desire of others to name the baby after the family's patriarch

[edit] Quotations

  • –Such are commonly the steps by which Princes advance to despotism. This Liberty has the fate of all other human things: it yields to Time which destroys every thing; to Vice which corrupts everything, to Ignorance which confounds every thing and to Force which crushes every thing."[13]
  • –Our manners have been poisoned at their source; we no longer have any enthusiasm for heroism, any admiration for virtue, any love for liberty– Today the art of pleasure is preferred to merit, vain pleasures to useful knowledge. For us a dancer is worth more than a wise man and a joker more than a hero.– [14]
  • "Nothing superfluous can belong to us legitimately so long as others lack necessities."[15]


  • –To form a truly free constitution, that–s to say, truly just and wise, the first point, the main point, the capital point, is that all the laws be agreed on by the people, after considered reflection, and especially having taken time to see what–s at stake–– [16]
  • –But what can one expect from an egotistic people that acts only from self-interest, let its passions dictate to it and responds only to vanity? Let us not deceive ourselves: a nation without understanding, without mÅurs, without vertus, is not made for liberty– you are further from happiness than ever.– [17]
  • –They write on all sides that this sheet is causing much scandal. The patrie–s enemies cry blasphemy and the timid citizens who disapprove of my vigorous love of liberty and the delirium of virtue pale while reading it. You admit that I am right to attack the corrupt faction that dominates the national assembly yet you would like me to do so more moderately. That–s like trying a soldier for fighting too hard against his treacherous enemies– I know what to expect from the crowd of mischief-makers that I will raise against me but my fear of it will have no effect on my soul for I am devoted to the patrie and I am ready to shed my blood for her.– [18]


  • –From the bank onto which I was thrown during the storm, where I lie naked, frozen and covered in bruises, exhausted by my efforts and dying with fatigue, I turn my petrified gaze upon this stormy sea on which my fellow citizens blindly drift; I shiver with horror at the dangers which threaten them– I respect the truth, I adore justice and I only want what–s best; but I am not infallible and this can sometimes bring dire consequences.– [19]
  • –Can I be accused of being cruel, I who cannot bear to see an insect suffer? But when I think that, in order to spare a few drops of blood, we expose ourselves to spilling it in great waves, I get indignant, despite myself, at our false principles of humanity.– [20]
  • –A single rigorous act deployed from the beginning would have dispensed with any need for further actions. So let us dare to show ourselves and all our enemies will take to their heels: they will not know how to oppose us with force since trickery is their only resource.– [21]
  • –O French people! Must you always suffer when your implacable enemies treat you like idiots and children–– [22]
  • –My blood boils in my veins against the so-called fathers of the country, those men without feelings, without decency, who have lavished millions on the king–s brothers, dangerous enemies of the country– yet who have not restored one farthing to the poor to whom it all belongs– Form yourselves into an armed body, present yourselves at the National Assembly, and demand that you immediately be given some means of subsistence from the national wealth, which belongs much more rightly to you than to those blood-suckers of the state– you must, in your turn take whatever measure is required, for it is a hundred times better that the whole kingdom be upturned than that ten million men be reduced to death by hunger.– [23]
  • –No, it is not on the frontiers, but in the capital that we must rain down our blows on the enemy. Stop wasting time imagining different means of defence; there is but one that remains to you. That which I have recommended so many times: a general insurrection accompanied by popular executions– Six months ago, five or six hundred heads would have been enough to pull you back from the abyss. Today because you have stupidly let your implacable enemies conspire among themselves and gather strength, perhaps we will have to cut off five or six thousand; but even if we need to cut off 20,000, there is no time for hesitation.– [24]


  • –One cannot learn from medical school the genius of Asclepius (Greek god of medicine), but one does acquire the vital knowledge which stops one from acting blindly and recklessly. Under the watchful eyes of a master, pupils learn how to use this knowledge, an understanding which is lost on the empirically minded.– [25]
  • –People, praise the gods, your most formidable enemy has perished. Riquetti (nickname for Mirabeau) is no more. He dies a victim of his countless treacheries–– [26]
  • –Plots and conspiracies are multiplying at an alarming rate. Scarcely a week goes by without another explosion. This is hardly surprising, however. Ever since the foolish People became content with breaking up the conspirators instead of executing them– I am tired of repeating it, but as long as the conspirators remain alive, the conspiracies will not end. By constantly hatching new plots against liberty, they will eventually succeed in destroying it – even today these aristocratic conspirators are working to overthrow the Revolution. They do this by filling the administrative bodies and the courts with their own kind, by hiring reactionaries from the old regime, by enlisting the services of bureaucrats and by corrupting the poor through bribing armies of informers, cutthroats, and bandits– For a long time now, the ministers, and their provincial agents have been attracting to the capital a large number of the destitute, the dregs of the army and the scum from every city in the kingdom.– [27]
  • –All is lost, my good friend, the rubber-necks are only fit for slavery. They can hardly wait to get into their chains. Their extravagant displays over Mirabeau–s death have made the friends of liberty lose their last shred of hope. We are on the brink of catastrophe and the only thing left for us to do is flee to a foreign land– So it's true that men can never be happy, and life is just a jumble of pain and hardship– But what am I doing here preaching to you. To hell with my job! Why should I care anymore? When will you return? It–s now three months since we had been led to expect your arrival– If you have found a buyer for my box and my watch, or either, could you please pass on the proceeds to Monsieur Arnold senior so he can pass them– An unfaithful person, by whom I have been cruelly deceived, was intending to write to you in order to remove these effects under the pretence of returning them to me. I do not know if her letter has arrived but as I do not expect her to abuse my confidence any more, nor that she abuses yours, please dispose of these effects for their value as I already indicated– I believe, my good friend, that taking everything into consideration, you could do worse than think of staying more permanently in England. Arts and science have had it in France; there won't be anything happening here for at least 20 years. I am sure that you will only have to make a good marriage and secure the partnership of M. Arnold and you will make your own fortune. As for your old friend, he no longer has anything to hope for, other than to languish in obscurity. He embraces you and awaits your reply at the address of your confidant, who has recently fallen from grace, whom I only know as Monsieur Jean.– [28]
  • –We are at war with the enemies of the revolution– concern for the salvation of the nation and of our own safety therefore makes it imperative that we treat them as traitors and exterminate them as base conspirators.– [29]
  • –No, liberty is not made for us: we are too ignorant, too vain, too presumptious, too cowardly, too vile, too corrupt too attached to rest and to pleasure, too much slaves to fortune to ever know the true price of liberty. We boast of being free! To show how much we have become slaves, it is enough just to cast a glance on the capital and examine the morals of its inhabitants.– [30]
  • –The people are dead since the Champ de Mars Massacre. I have tried in vain to wake them; so I have given up trying and probably forever. But I can still amuse myself by playing the prophet.– [31]


  • "Let it be known that if, after the massacre of the Champ de Mars, I had found two thousand men burning with the thoughts that filled my breast, I would have marched at their head to stab the general (Lafayette) amidst his battalions of brigands, to burn the despot in his palace, and to impale our atrocious deputies to their seats, as I told them at the time. Robespierre listened to me in fear, paled and remained silent for a while. That interview confirmed my opinion that I always had of him; that he combines the enlightenment of a wise senator with the integrity of an upright man and the zeal of a true patriot but that he lacks both the vision and the audacity of a statesman– My newspaper's influence on the revolution did not derive, as you can imagine, from closely reasoned arguments– but from the horror that it aroused among its readers when I boldly tore aside the veil covering the perpetual plots being hatched against our liberty by the country–s enemies in league with the King– and from the courage with which I crushed every slanderous critic underfoot".[32]
  • –On our Nation–s stage, only the scenery has changed. The cast, intrigue and machinations remain the same– today, the principal actors hide behind the curtain where they manipulate with ease those who act the parts before your eyes. Most of these actors have already disappeared, so new ones have appeared to play the same roles. [The revolution will never succeed] – when the lower classes are left alone to struggle against the upper classes. Sure, at the moment of insurrection, the people will smash everything down by sheer numbers; but whatever advantage they may gain at first, they will always end up by caving in, since they find themselves bereft of intelligence, culture, wealth, arms, leaders and strategies and have no means of defence against those magicians full of cunning, craft and artifice. If the educated men, the well off, and the crafty ones of the lower classes, first sided against the despot, it was only to turn against the people after they had wormed their way into their confidence and used the people–s strength to set themselves up in the place of the privileged orders that they proscribed. Thus it is that the revolution has been made and sustained by the lowest classes of society –the workers, the artisans, the little tradesmen, the farmers, by those unfortunates whom the shameless rich call scum and whom Roman insolence called proletarians. But who would ever have imagined that it would only end up helping small landowners, lawyers and con men– Today, after three years of endless speeches from patriotic societies and a deluge of writings– the people are even further from knowing what they should do to resist their oppressors than they were on the very first day of the revolution. At that time they followed their instincts– Now, look at them, chained in the name of the law and tyrannized in the name of justice, they have become constitutional slaves!"[33]
  • –How could liberty ever have established itself amongst us? Apart from several tragic scenes, the revolution has been nothing but a web of farcical scenes– But it is in the nation–s senate that the most grotesque parades have taken place–.[34]
  • –He [Marat] predicted that your armies would be led to the slaughter by their perfidious generals– He predicted that the corrupt majority of the national Assembly would always betray the patrie– The glorious day of the tenth of August may be decisive for the triumph of liberty if you know how to use your strength– I therefore suggest that you kill one out of every ten counterrevolutionary members of the municipality, the courts, the Departments and the Assembly.– [35]
  • –The Paris Commune hastens to inform its brothers in all the Departments of France that a group of ferocious conspirators detained in its prisons have been put to death by the people. Acts of justice which seemed essential in order to terrorize the legions of traitors, hidden behind its walls, at the very moment when they were about to march on the enemy. Doubtless, the whole nation, after this series of treacherous acts which brought the country to the brink of the precipice, will hasten to adopt these methods so vital to the public safety, and all the French people will cry out like the Parisians: –We are marching to the enemy, but we will not leave these brigands behind us to cut the throats of our wives and children–.– [36]
  • –Gentleman, I have in this Assembly a large number of personal enemies [Three quarters of the assembly rise to their feet crying –We all are!–] I have in this Assembly a great number of personal enemies. I remind them of their shame; it is not by great dins, threats and insults that that you prove an accused man to be guilty; it is not by shouting down a defender of the people that you show that he is a criminal– I believe I am the first political writer, and perhaps the only one in France since the revolution began, who has proposed a dictatorship or military tribune as the only means of destroying the traitors and conspirators. If this opinion is reprehensible I alone am guilty. If it is criminal, the vengeance of the nation should fall on my head alone– I have just been accused of being a traitor and a schemer– he told you that I wanted to overturn the state, to throw it into chaos and confusion and to cut the throats of the national Convention. This untrustworthy commentary has only one goal: to mislead the Convention and to raise it against me. Who are the authors of this atrocious plot? Perverted men whom I have denounced for some time as the most mortal enemies of the nation – members of the Brissotin faction. There they are in front of me, smirking while their acolytes make their frenzied cries; and they dare me to settle this now– Do not doubt that if the decree for my arrest had been issued, I would have escaped my persecutors– rage by blowing my brains out before your very eyes [here, he placed his pistol against his forehead]".[37]
  • –[A patriotic journalist must]– be ready to spill his blood, drop by drop, and expose himself to a miserable death on the scaffold, for the salvation of an ignorant and misguided people, who too often disdain him, sometimes outrage him, and by whom he is nearly always misunderstood–.[38]
  • "The constitution states that the person of the King is inviolable and sacred– But, gentlemen, if you were ever to lend an ear to the sophistries of those who wish to spare his life while subjecting him to the rule of law, concern for public safety alone should force you to reject any penalty short of death. For as long as the former monarch draws breath and an unforeseen event may free him, he will be the focus of all the conspiracies of France's enemies– That the former monarch must be judged, that is beyond doubt; but by whom?– He can only be judged by the national Convention which represents the nation itself– To grant a pardon would therefore not only be weakness, but treason, villainy, and treachery too. Gentlemen, the safety of France and the establishment of the Republic depend on the course you choose. I conclude that the tyrant be judged by the Convention and that his punishment be death–.[39]


  • –I beg my reader–s forgiveness If I tell them about myself today. It is neither out of vanity nor self-conceit but simply a desire to best serve the state. How can it be a crime to show myself as I really am when the enemies of liberty never cease to denigrate me and present me as a lunatic, a dreamer and madman, or as a cannibal, a blood-maddened tiger and monster who delights only in destruction, and all this to inspire fear at the sound of my name and to prevent the good for which I so fervently wish and am able to perform. Born with a sensitive soul, a fiery imagination, a passionate, frank and stubborn temperament, an upright mind, a heart open to every lofty passion, especially the love of honour, I have never done anything to alter or destroy these gifts of nature, and I–ve done everything to encourage them. By exceptional fortune, I had the advantage of receiving a very thorough education at my father–s hands, of escaping all the nasty habits of childhood that agitate and demean Man, of avoiding all the distractions of youth, and arriving at my manhood without having abandoned myself to the excitement of passion. I was a virgin at 21 and had already devoted much time to my studies. The only passion that consumed my soul was the love of honour but it was still just a fire glowing beneath the embers. While nature forged my indomitable spirit, I owe the development of my character to my mother, since my father was only ever interested in making a scholar out of me. This respectable woman, whose loss I still mourn, moulded my early years. It was she alone who encouraged a love of humankind along with a love for honour and justice, to bloom in my heart– Those thoughtless men who criticize me for being so stubborn, will see from this that I have been this way from an early age. But what they perhaps refuse to believe, is that from my earliest years, I have been consumed with a passion for honour, a passion which may have changed its focus many times throughout the various stages of my life but which has never abandoned me. At the age of five, I wanted to be a schoolmaster; at 15, a professor; at 18, an author; and at 20 a creative genius; just as today I seek the honour of sacrificing myself for the country. This is what nature and the lessons of my childhood have made of me; events and my reflections did the rest.[40]
  • –To try and please everyone is madness but to try and please everyone in a time of revolution is treason.– [41]
  • "Wherever the rights of people are not mere empty titles ostentatiously laid out in a simple declaration, the ransacking of a few shops and the hanging of the monopolists at their door would soon put a stop to these frauds, which reduce five million men to despair and make thousands perish from want! Will the people–s deputies ever do more than talk about these wrongs without ever suggesting a remedy? Let us forget about the repressive measures of the laws: it is only too evident that they have always been and always will be ineffective; the only effective means are revolutionary measures– A little patience and the people will finally grasp that great truth, that it must always save itself– as for those vile hypocrites who work so hard at destroying the Nation by pretending to defend the rule of law. Get up on the stand with this article in your hand and denounce me – I–m ready to take you on.– [42]
  • –O Parisians! You frivolous, feeble, and cowardly folk, whose love of novelty is a mania and whose taste for greatness is a passing fancy– you who have no inspiration, no plan and no principles; who prefer clever flattery to advice, who fail to recognize your true champions and trust the word of any casual stranger– you whose projects and plans of vengeance are always made on the spur of the moment; who can always produce an isolated effort, but are incapable of sustained energy; you whose only incentive is vanity and who nature might have formed for the highest destinies if she had only given you judgment and perseverance, must you always be treated like grown children?– [43]
  • –They need only a chief, a man of head and heart. If the purest sense of civic duty counts for anything at all, I should want a friend of the people for them– What prevents their being given a staunch, upright, and incorruptible chief? You do not know where to find him? Must you be told? You know a man who aspires only to the glory of sacrificing himself for the welfare of our country. You have seen him at work for a long time.– [44]
  • –With regard to citizen Martel– He told me that he had been brought up in Neuchatel in Switzerland, where I spent my childhood. He added that he owed a thousand thanks to my father who had taken care of his education– The pleasure of recalling the happy time of my childhood would have made me prolong our conversation but I was in a hurry to reach the Convention so I invited him to lunch the next day. He accepted my invitation and expressed a desire for me to meet the banker Perregaux, one of my college classmates whom I had not seen for 25 years and he invited me to dine with him. I did not think I could refuse; but since Barbaroux–s denunciation has made it a state crime to have invited several Marseillais to lunch, I don–t go anywhere without taking witnesses with me– I therefore asked Saint-Just and the elder Jullien, two of my Convention colleagues, to come with me.– [45]
  • –They continually present me as an anarchist who tramples on all the laws and who can only be happy amidst disorder. I am getting on for 50. Since the age of 16 I have been the absolute master of my conduct. I lived two years in Bordeaux, 10 in London, one in Dublin and Edinburgh, one in La Haye, Utrecht and Amsterdam, 19 in Paris and I tramped across half of Europe. If you search the police registers of these different countries, I defy anyone to find my name next to a single bad deed– They still present me as an ambitious man who aims for power– as a cannibal and drinker of blood– as an exalted brain, a nobody– From my childhood only two main passions have motivated all the powers of my being: a love of justice and a love of glory".[46]
  • –It is by violence that one must establish liberty and the moment has come where we must temporarily organize a despotism of liberty to crush the despotism of kings. I conclude by agreeing to this plan [for the establishment of the Committee of Public Safety] for the committee–.[47]
  • –Profession of faith of Marat, deputy, addressed to the French people in general and to his constituents in particular. Since the end of November 1788 when I consecrated my pen to the defence of liberty, I have developed my principles in a manner so clear, a conduct so unvarying and an expression so striking– that I would never have expected to have needed to restate my political faith as I do today. However, this duty is unavoidable in order to wipe away the false understanding produced by all their slanders over my actions and intentions– They accuse me of ceaselessly preaching murder and carnage– They accuse me of advocating agrarian law– They accuse me of aspiring to a dictatorship– They only want to proscribe me in order to take away the means for unmasking them and preventing their criminal projects. These are the secret motives of their eternal slanders. Drowning me each day in their bitterness, they would have forced me to retire a long time ago if I was as cowardly as they are hypocritical.– [48]
  • –Citizens, outraged at seeing a devious faction wish to disguise its disastrous plans through its machinations, I twice took the stand in order to force it to expose its plots and place the rope around its neck. So to get rid of me those intriguers whom I unmasked and who feared my courage imagined they could disable me with a decree of accusation. You know that the consequence of this plot rebounded on its authors. They are humiliated but not yet broken. Don–t bother yourselves with crowns; let us defend ourselves with enthusiasm, leave this childishness behind and only think of wiping out our enemies. I place on the desk the two crowns, which I have just been offered, and I ask all citizens to wait until the end of my career before deciding whether I am indeed worthy of them".[49]
  • "Citizens, I have been denounced for having called for a chief. It–s extremely disagreeable for a zealous defender of the fatherland to have to discuss measures of public security in the presence of imbeciles who don–t understand french, or knaves who don–t wish to understand it. Here are the facts that caused that accusation. On May 31, at eight pm, I received deputies from several sections at the National Convention who asked me what should be done. What? I answered. You sounded the tocsin all night, you were armed all day, and you don–t know what should be done. I have nothing to say to fools so I left them there. Despairing of the people's efforts, forever powerless when not guided by enlightened and firm counsel, I returned to the room, and reacting from the bitterness in my heart, I told several Montagnards: 'No, it isn–t possible for the people to save themselves if they don–t have any chiefs'. 'What!' cried out one of the statesmen who was listening in. 'You want a chief?' 'Idiot!', I said. A chief doesn't mean a master; no one holds masters more in horror than I. But in the current crisis I want chiefs who will guide the people's actions so that they don't make any false moves and so that their efforts won't be fruitless. For what use are 100,000 men under arms for the past 24 hours if they have no leaders to guide them? Citizens, these are the facts. Evaluate them and then judge me. Brothers and friends, I am in bed suffering from an inflammatory illness, the fruit of the long nights to which I have sacrificed myself in order to defend freedom for the past four years, and especially of the torments I have inflicted upon myself for the past nine months in order to bring down the statesmen faction. If the unvarying proofs I have given until today of my ardent civism aren't enough to guarantee the purity of my intentions to the patrie's friends, then I was wrong to have made myself anathema for pulling them back from the brink and am as disgusted as I can be! Pass on my letter to your comrades at La Rochelle– and allow me to breathe a little. It–s too much to have to fight at the same time the dastardy of liberty's enemies and the blindness of its friends. I fraternally salute you. Marat, deputy to the Convention.[50]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ de Cock, J. & Goetz, C., Åuvres de Jean-Paul Marat, 10 volumes, ditions Ple Nord, Brussels, 1995.
  2. ^ ib. de Cock, J. & Goetz, C. Åuvres de Jean-Paul Marat; Marat, Jean-Paul, Encyclopdia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, 1911. Retrieved 2 July 2006.
  3. ^ "Lit & Phil Home - Independent Library Newcastle". Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  4. ^ "His scientific life was now over, his political life was to begin; in the notoriety of that political life his great scientific and philosophical knowledge was to be forgotten–" Marat, Jean-Paul, Encyclopdia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, 1911. Retrieved 2 July 2006.
  5. ^ a b Jelinek, J.E., "Jean-Paul Marat: The differential diagnosis of his skin disease", American Journal of Dermatopathology (1979) 1:251-2. PMID 396805.
  6. ^ Andress, David, The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France, (New York: SFG Books, 2005), p. 189.
  7. ^ ib. Andress, David, p. 191.
  8. ^ (Russian) Streets of Sevastopol - Marat Street
  9. ^ Adolphus, John. Biographical Anecdotes of the Founders of the French Republic. London: R. Phillips, 1799. p 232.
  10. ^ Stanley Loomis, Paris in the TerrorJ.B. Lippincott Company, 1964), 42.
  11. ^ Ransom, Teresa, Madame Tussaud: A Life and a Time, (2003) p. 252-253.
  12. ^ Stanley Loomis, shot himself in terror(J.B. Lippincott Company, 1964), 42.
  13. ^ The Chains of Slavery." 1774
  14. ^ The Chains of Slavery", 1774
  15. ^ Durant, Will and Ariel. The Age of Napoleon. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1975. p. 21
  16. ^ Letter to Camille Desmoulins, 24 June 1789 in Åuvres de Desmoulins, p. 76ff]
  17. ^ L'Ami du peuple, 18–20 September 1789
  18. ^ L'Ami du peuple, no.13, 23 Sep 1789
  19. ^ Appel la Nation ("Call to the Nation"), March 1790
  20. ^ L'Ami du peuple, 2 June 1790
  21. ^ L'Ami du peuple, no.173, 26 July 1790
  22. ^ –Watch out, they–re putting us to sleep!– ("On nous endort, prenons-y garde"), 9 August 1790
  23. ^ L'Ami du peuple, no.306, 10 December 1790
  24. ^ L'Ami du peuple, no.314, 18 December 1790
  25. ^ L'Ami du peuple, no.401, March 1791
  26. ^ L'Ami du peuple, no.419, 4 April 1791
  27. ^ L'Ami du peuple, no.422, 7 April 1791
  28. ^ Letter to the Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet dated 16th April 1791, from Supplment la Correspondance de Marat in Revue de la Rvolution Franaise, Tome 1." ed. Vellay, Charles. Paris: 1910.
  29. ^ L'Ami du peuple, 21 May 1791
  30. ^ L'Ami du peuple, no.559, 27 August 1791
  31. ^ L'Ami du peuple, no.552, 11 September 1791
  32. ^ L'Ami du peuple, no.648, 3 May 1792
  33. ^ L'Ami du peuple, no.667 7 July 1792
  34. ^ L'Ami du peuple, no.672, 14 July 1792
  35. ^ L'Ami du peuple aux Franais patriotes, 10 August 1792
  36. ^ Despatch from the Paris Commune Surveillance Committee, 3 September 1792
  37. ^ Archives Parlementaires de la Convention Nationale, 25 September 1792
  38. ^ Journal de la Rpublique franaise, no.46, November 1792
  39. ^ Journal de la Rpublique franaise, 23 December 1792
  40. ^ Journal de la Rpublique franaise, no.98, 14 January 1793
  41. ^ Citizens by Simon Schama, p734
  42. ^ Journal de la Rpublique franaise, no.133, 25 February 1793
  43. ^ Journal de la Rpublique franaise, March 1793, cited in Leaders of the Revolution by JM Thompson, p171
  44. ^ Journal de la Rpublique franaise, March 1793
  45. ^ Journal de la Rpublique franaise, no.139, 3 March 1793
  46. ^ La Publiciste de la Rpublique franaise, no.147, 19 March 1793
  47. ^ Archives Parlementaires, vol 61, 6 April 1793
  48. ^ Journal des Dbats de la Societ des Jacobins", vol 61, 6 April 1793; and La Publiciste de la Rpublique franaise, no.156, 30 March
  49. ^ Journal des Debats de la Socit des Jacobins", vol 61, 26 April 1793
  50. ^ Letter to the Jacobin Club from "Correspondence de Marat", ed. Charles Vellay, 20 June 1793

The 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, in turn, gives the following references:

Edited by Ple Nord - Brussels:

  1. 1989-1995 : Jean-Paul Marat, Åuvres Politiques (ten volumes 1789-1793 - Text: 6.600 p. - Guide: 2.200 p.)
  2. Collection "Chantiers Marat":
  3. 1997: Conner, Clifford D., Jean Paul Marat: Scientist and Revolutionary (Humanity Books)
  4. 2001:Marat en famille - La saga des Mara(t) (2 volumes) - New approach of Marat's family.
  5. 2006: Plume de Marat - Plumes sur Marat (2 volumes) : Bibliography (3.000 references of books and articles of and on Marat)

[edit] External links

Jean-Paul Marat in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.

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