October Days: The Warning from the People

In response to the news that royal soldiers had desecrated a symbol of national rejuvenation, the revolutionary cockade, Marat published in his newspaper, The Friend of the People, the following letter calling for all patriotic citizens to take up arms since the royal soldiers had shown themselves to be both debauched and hostile to the people.


Paris, 4 October 1789

To the Editor:

Sir, the Royal Bodyguards, officers of the Flanders regiment, a large number of officers from other regiments, and the leaders of the bourgeois militia held another orgy at Versailles. At this orgy a noble princess appeared with the heir to the throne, an unpatriotic cockade was paraded about, and an undercover conspiracy was loudly discussed, all of which spread alarm throughout the capital. You have shown yourself to be worthy of the good People’s confidence, so please help us with your advice.

Editor's comments:

The report of the orgy taking place is well-founded, and the fact that the alarm is widespread is also well-founded, but there is insufficient information to state that there is indeed a conspiracy. However, even if it were imaginary, no one doubts that we are unprepared should an enemy suddenly appear at our gates. This negligence in failing to provide the capital with war supplies of any kind is a real crime against the state.

There is not a moment to lose. All good citizens should arm themselves, assemble, and send a large detachment to recover all the powder from Essonne. Each district should also remove their cannons from the Hôtel de Ville.

Source: L'Ami du Peuple, no. 25 (5 October 1789), 217–18.