This next one is by some random Briton or American (I forget which) who decided that it would be better to try to write something from Éléonore's point of view than to write about her in a non-fictional fashion, bizarrely enough. So these are two "letters" written to a fictional friend in the Vendée. And this time, instead of Jesus!Maxime, we get priest!Maxime. -__-;
Oh my poor Jeannette! How I pity you in these terrible times in your mad province! Now that Kléber has been so victorious at
Yes! We have parted far asunder in these terrible five years. Papa, who was so quiet and businesslike when you remember him, is quiet still, but he goes every day to the Revolutionary jury and every night to the Jacobins. Elizabeth [Élisabeth], little Elizabeth, whom everybody scolded for being so giddy, was married six months ago to a member of the Convention, a young man from Arras named Le Bas. As for me, Jeannette, you will have to outlaw me: I am outside the law of the good people in La Vendée. Maximilian [Maximilien] Robespierre is not a mere lodger in our house, though of course he pays for his little room (the one you slept in, over the workshop): he would be too proud to take anything for nothing. He is to be my husband when these troublous days are over. I am his betrothed, and he is all the world to me. So you will see how pained I was when I read your letter and all the names you chose to call him. Can I never make you see him as I see him! I suppose I cannot, but I shall try.
It is two years and a half now since he came to live with us. It was after the massacre of the Champ de Mars, when every one was fearing reaction. He was at the Jacobins in the evening trying to encourage the patriots, and father would have him come to us for that one night, instead of wandering off to his lodgings in the Rue de Saintonge, in the Marais. I dare say you may have heard he hid himself in fear that night. Madame Roland told her friends that she went to offer to hide him, and found him gone; but I know she never entered the Rue de Saintonge at all, and another Jacobin who came to her for shelter was told that her hotel was too exposed, and that she had no shelter to give. Indeed it was poor shelter that we had to offer him—so near the big houses in the Rue Royale, so near [La] Fayette and his guards in the Tuileries. But it was such a pleasure to have him there that we never let him leave us, except once when he went for six weeks to his home in Arras, and once when his sister Charlotte came making mischief.
“Why was it a pleasure?” I hear you say. “Is he not the monster, the antichrist, who has ordered our priests to be imprisoned, who has murdered every one, Royalist or Girondin?”
Perhaps you would be surprised if I told you I thought him only too conscientious, so afraid to do wrong that he sometimes takes too long in making up his mind. Yet so it is. Do not think of him as a hunter of priests, for he is nothing of the sort. He does not like their impostures, of course. I remember how angry he was last time he went to
Then you call him cruel. I am sure I have never seen him so. When we are walking together in the
No, Jeannette, I do not think it is. I will allow jus this much, that I sometimes wish he had done more to keep back the others. I fancy he does not always realize the things that are done under cover of his reputation. He thinks so much of principles that he sometimes forgets facts. I have never told him so, for when we are alone together (it is not very often—every morning he is at the Committee of Public Safety, every afternoon at the Convention, every evening at the Jacobins) he always tries to escape from these terrible things and to give play to his fancy. And then he said once, à propos of poor Théroigne de Méricourt, that he thought the duty of a woman did not lie on the political platform. So I have never dared to speak. Yet I know he is troubled at heart about it all. He has done his best now and again. He saved seventy-three Girondins this time last year, and he is very proud of the letter they sent to thank him for his generous opposition to the decree proposed against them. But he is not so powerful as you think him. He is thwarted on every side. In the Committee of Public Safety, Carnot, Fouché, Collot d’Herbois, Billaud-Varennes, the two Prieurs, Robert Lintot [Lindet] and Hérault
And for my own part I have not much pity for men who have met the fate they deserved. Least of all do I pity your Royalists: Louis Capet and his wife were the source of all our evils: she was so foolish, and he so false. Surely you do not praise the men who went to Coblentz and got the foreigners to invade France, or the others who stayed here and intrigued? And the Girondins did their best to make their own death inevitable. You do not know perhaps what a poor creature Roland was. “If you are inviting Roland,” Danton said once, “you must invite Madame Roland, too, for every one knows Roland is not in sole charge of his department.” And he was the best of them. Brissot was bribed. They were all mean and intriguing, and they were just as cruel as the worst of us. It was they who started the Revolutionary Tribunal. Do you remember how Isnard himself threatened Paris, this beautiful
And I sometimes think we must be drifting on to more executions. How can they live together, those incompatibles! The Hébertists, atheists, madmen! I do not know so much about them, for father will not let me read the Père Duchesne. But they are beyond the pale. And the Dantonists, what of them? There are some of them one cannot help but like. There is Camille. How inimitable is he and his Lucile! Yet I will tell you a story to show you the other side of his life and his party’s life. He called here one day on his way to the Jacobins and gave my sister a book to keep for him tell he came back. The poor little thing opened it: imagine her horror when she found it full of filthy pictures! Even Lucile is so free with Fréron and others, that every one but Camille suspects her. And Danton himself—one trembles to speak of him—but, as St. Just asks, “Whence comes the wealth around him?” How can we regenerate the nation unless the leaders are pure? I do not know where my poor Maximilian is drifting to among them all. I do not think he knows himself. As yet he tries to shut his eyes to their divisions and to see the best side of every one. Last night in the Jacobins there was a characteristic example. Were you in the Refectory of the Jacobins when you were in
Can you understand now why I love him? I see him not as the cruel strong man who looks his crime in the face, but as the man of noblest purpose, purest unselfishness in the midst of danger, the most patriotic, the best.
It may be a delusion, Jeannette, but it absorbs the whole soul of
Yours ever devotedly,
My dear Jeannette,—It is over. I do not know how I can write it all, and yet I must say it or my heart will break. Within the last ten days I have lost my mother, strangled by the women of evil life in the prison of Ste. Pélagie. My sister, with the little baby at her breast, has lost her husband. I have lost mine—may I call him mine? Father, brother, even my brother-in-law, away in the Haute Loire—all have been arrested! I, too, have been arrested, lest perhaps I might wander round the prison as Lucile did. Yet I do not think it was as terrible to be arrested as it was to be released. When I came back to this old house of ours, when I saw the empty workshop, and over it the little room where he had lived so long, I first began to realize that it was not all a dream.
Oh, that little room! How plain and simple it was! The writing-table, the straw-bottomed chairs, and the little bookcase with the books we knew so well. And then the bed with the blue damask curtains with the white flowers on them, made out of an old dress of mother’s. That government spares nothing: all these little things are to be confiscated: they are to be sold at auction in the Palais Royal. At least I have his picture, the little medallion by Collet. That I must never lose. And then when I go to our own room and look out on the convent-gardens and see them, too, empty, I begin to realize how dreary is the world, It seems like a terrible dream, wherein ogre follows ogre, meaningless, formless, but terrible. At first we are walking as it were in pleasant pastures, or (shall I say?) as a Paul and Virginia [Virginie], making for ourselves a desert island in the midst of this crowded
He had been ill at ease for months past. He saw the faction of selfish men ever growing stronger. As one after another died, he saw others start up. It seemed hopeless to make the general will prevail against the selfish individual interests. The people, to whom we looked, in whom we believed—the men of the faubourgs, that he was fighting for—seemed demoralized ever since Hébert’s orgies. It all was hopeless. As if to gather strength for a last effort he wished to escape from it all for a while, and commune, as he said, with Nature and with me. So for three weeks he seldom went even to the Jacobins but wandered off with me to the long walks at
Yet still the Convention seemed unable to put its vote into effect. The guards would not advance: they could not be made to do the demon’s work. But quietly and sternly Maximilian arose and of his own will obeyed the Assembly. I never saw him again.
I do not know whether it all happened just as I have told it. It is all blurred in my memory already. I think I heard Collot d’Herbois, the actor, speaking, while poor mother helped me out. We were not long together before we were dragged off each to a separate prison—she forever! I lay in prison all through the struggle in the night time, all through the tenth, when he fell. Perhaps it is as well I did not see the poor shattered body borne past our house, and the brutal women stopping to jeer at us. They kept me in prison a little longer and then turned me out: I was not worthy to die with him!
Ah! Jeannette, you do not know how black the world is now that he no longer lightens it: how meaningless Rousseau seems, when he is no longer here to expound him: how hopeless the outlook of the fatherland now that he no longer encourages us. The soldiers may win battles perhaps, but for what? Whether we conquer or are beaten we shall be ruled without principle. Think not that the Church will be better treated now that he is gone. It was he who sometimes protected the poorer clergy. Do you fancy there is any religion in Collet [Collot] d’Herbois and Billaud Varennes [Billaud-Varennes]? They say that they will give the priests no pay at all for the future. They are atheists: they hated the feast of the Supreme Being: they are guilty of the worst executions, and not for the country’s sake but to serve their private ends.
I cannot write more, Jeannette. Do you know that maxim of Nicolas Chamfort: “Life is a long illness, from which sleep relieves us every sixteen hours: sleep may ease us: death alone can cure.”
Till then, Jeannette,
 The organ of the Hébertists.