Tuesday, May 6, 2008

'your blood shall redden the earth'

'... this means is worthy of the august mission that you fill, of the generous people whom you represent; it might even gain some celebrity for the name of that people and make you worthy to live in the memory of men: it will be to imitate the brave Spartans who sacrificed themselves at Thermopylae; those venerable men who, leaving the Roman Senate, went to await, at the thresholds of their homes, the death that marched in the van of the savage conqueror. No, you will not need to offer up prayers that avengers may spring from your ashes. Ah! The day your blood shall redden the earth, tyranny, its pride, its protectors, its palaces, its satellites will vanish forever before the national omnipotence. And if the sorrow of not having made your country happy embitters your last moments you will at least take with you the consolation that your death will hasten the ruin of the people's oppressors and that your devotion will have saved liberty .......'

An excerpt from Pierre Vergniaud's speech before the Legislative Assembly in France on July 3rd, 1792 suggesting that King Louis XVI be dethroned. The king was overthrown the following month and executed on January 21st, 1793.

[Penguin book of Historic Speeches.

MacArthur, Brian, ed. Penguin Books, 1996]

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