The Père Duchesne Supports the Terror

The radical journalist Jacques–René Hébert here calls on the sans–culottes of Paris to rise against their enemies in the capital, that is, those who block the work of the sections and revolutionary committees. Afterward, they should march against the forces of counterrevolution in the west. In this passage, Hébert calls on patriots to use violence to overcome their foes, suggesting that self–restraint could be deadly to the Revolution.


. . . Here we are on the edge of the cliff and we are carrying on like drunkards. We step into every trap they set for us . . . rather than uniting like brothers, we are eating each other's eyes out. . . . Imbeciles that we are, we do not look with good faith of the Republic and try to save it. . . .

The English have vomited up on the shores of heretofore Brittany all the refractory priests, all the émigrés, all the villains who had fled the land of liberty and taken refuge in London. . . . Former bishops seek their glory from God who only a few years ago they didn't believe in. . . . Crapulous monks . . . run from village to village in the Vendée . . . armed with daggers and crucifixes. . . .

Idiots armed with pikes, hatchets, and knives, hearing the voice of their priests, march furiously; magistrates of the people are trampled underfoot; patriots have their throats slit and their children are massacred on their mothers' breasts; their daughters are raped; their cities and villages are reduced to ashes, and their land inundated with blood. . . .

The brave sans-culottes of the Department of Hérault, wanting to save the Republic, have taken an oath to march against the rebels by leading all citizens to carry arms and to make the rich pay the costs of this campaign. Nearly all the sections of Paris have applauded this decree and adopted it. . . . Already the Parisian army would be fighting the rebels and the men of 14 July and 10 August would have crushed the villain . . . but damn it, Lafayette's "gentlemen" . . . have gone to all the sectional assemblies to chase out the sans-culottes.

With hidden faces, bankers and merchants wearing ribbons sewn into their breeches, with perfumed and curled wigs, have inundated the sections, and . . . the sectional assemblies have become truly chaotic. One hears now only talk of murder and pillage, of slitting the throats of the Mountain, the Jacobins, the Mayor of Paris, the public prosecutor [of the Revolutionary Tribunal], and of burning all the neighborhoods; these are the plots of this rabble of buggers.

Bands of such boutique-shoppers . . . have gathered in the gardens of Luxembourg, armed with daggers and pistols, ready to start a civil war. Patriots have been insulted, maltreated by this damned rabble, which has then gone into all the sectional assemblies to stir up trouble. . . . These villains even have the audacity to block the functioning of the presidents and secretaries of several revolutionary committees. . . . In short, they have been making the counterrevolution in the midst of our sections, and the Convention has remained tranquil instead of at last biting with its teeth and helping magistrates of the revolutionary tribunal snuff out these brigands. . . .

Brave men of the Mountain who have enough force to deliver France from its last tyrant, what has to happen for you to expel these plotters? . . . And you brave denizens of Saint-Antoine, all you sans-culottes who have annihilated royalty, wake up! Arm yourselves with fence posts if necessary, with catgut, to tie down this cabal which dares raise its head. Chase them back to their caves, these despicable people [gens-foutres] who disturb the sectional assemblies, and who delay your departure [for the front]. If you wait even a few days more, it will be too late. . . . Put the balls in the canon and if they try to hold back, drop them with stones; you will save the fatherland if you escape them, and damn it, you must do it, no matter what.

Source: Le Père Duchesne, no. 234 (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1794), 2–8.