Sunday, November 2, 2014

"My Dear Robespierre..."

I'm reading G. Lenôtre's Paris in the Revolution.  His books on the Revolution, meticulously researched using primary sources and his personal dogged pursuit of the facts, made the quality of his work that to which other historians aspired.  He was known as "the pope of the story."  His book features many interesting, lesser known anecdotes that he harvested from the voluminous materials available.  Those French liked to write and they liked to save their writings.

An inventory of Robespierre's rooms in the Duplay home after his 9 Thermidor plummet included love letters from women from France and beyond.  According to Lenôtre, Robespierre sat around the family table after meals and read the letters to his admiring host and hostesses.

Here's an example.:

My Dear Robespierre,

Since the beginning of the Revolution I am in love with thee, but I was bound in chains and I knew how to conquer my passion.  Today, I am free because I have lost my husband in the war in La Vendée, and I desire before the Supreme Being to disclose it to thee.

I flatter myself, my dear Robespierre, that thou wilt be sensible to the confession that I am making thee.  A woman does not make a confession of this kind without an effort, but paper endures everything, and we blush less at a distance than when we confront one another.  You are my Supreme Divinity, and I recognize no other on earth save thee.  I look upon thee as my guardian angel (Blogger's note:  Not smart, girlie, ask Desmoulins!) and I do not wish to live save under thy laws. They are so gentle that I swear to thee, if thou art as free as I am, to be united to thee for life.  I offer thee for dowry the true qualities of a good Republican, an income of of 40,000 livres, and a young widow of twenty-two years.  If this offer appeals to you, send me a reply, I implore thee.  My address is, care of the widow Jakin, poste restante at Nantes.  If I ask thee to address it poste restante, it is because I fear that my mother may chide me for my giddy conduct."

She goes on (and on, as some of us are wont to do), but you get the gist of it.  Mildly interesting, but I got to use my terracotta Robespierre bust to represent our dandy friend, Maximilien, so mildly interesting is good enough for this post.

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