Louis Antoine de Saint-Just quotes

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Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

Birthdate: 25. August 1767
Date of death: 28. July 1794

Louis Antoine Léon de Saint-Just was a military and political leader during the French Revolution. The youngest of the deputies elected to the National Convention in 1792, Saint-Just rose quickly in their ranks and became a major leader of the government of the French First Republic. He spearheaded the movement to execute King Louis XVI and later drafted the radical French Constitution of 1793.

He became a close friend of Maximilien Robespierre, and served with him as one of the commissioners of the Committee of Public Safety. Dispatched as a commissar to the army during its rocky start in the French Revolutionary Wars, Saint-Just imposed severe discipline, and he was credited by many for the army's subsequent revival at the front. Back in Paris, he supervised the consolidation of Robespierre's power through a ruthless and bloody program of intimidation. In his relatively brief time on the historical stage, he became the enduring public face of the Reign of Terror and was dubbed the "Angel of Death" by later writers. Saint-Just organized the arrests and prosecutions of many of the most famous figures of the Revolution.

Saint-Just was arrested in the violent episode of 9 Thermidor and executed the next day with Robespierre and their allies. In many histories of the Revolution, their deaths at the guillotine mark the end of the Reign of Terror.

„I am not of any faction, I will fight them all.“

—  Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

Je ne suis d'aucune faction, je les combattrai toutes.
Discours pour la défense de Robespierre http://www.royet.org/nea1789-1794/archives/discours/stjust_defense_robespierre_27_07_94.htm, speech to the National Convention (July 27, 1794).

„It is time that we labored for the happiness of the people. Legislators who are to bring light and order into the world must pursue their course with inexorable tread, fearless and unswerving as the sun.“

—  Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

Travaillons enfin pour le bonheur du peuple, et que les legislateurs qui doivent éclairer le monde prennent leur course d'un pied hardi, comme le soleil.
Speech to the National Convention (December 27, 1792). [Source: Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, Vol. 1 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), p. 383]

„It has always seemed to me that the social order was implicit in the very nature of things, and required nothing more from the human spirit than care in arranging the various elements; that a people could be governed without being made thralls or libertines or victims thereby; that man was born for peace and liberty, and became miserable and cruel only through the action of insidious and oppressive laws. And I believe therefore that if man be given laws which harmonize with the dictates of nature and of his heart he will cease to be unhappy and corrupt.“

—  Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

J’ai pensé que l’ordre social était dans la nature même des choses, et n’empruntait de l’esprit humain que le soin d’en mettre à leur place les éléments divers; qu’un peuple pouvait être gouverné sans être assujetti, sans être licencieux, et sans être opprimé; que l’homme naissait pour la paix et pour la liberté, et n’était malheureux et corrompu que par les lois insidieuses de la domination. Alors j’imaginai que si l’on donnait à l’homme des lois selon la nature et son cœur, il cesserait d’être malheureux et corrompu.
Discours sur la Constitution à donner à la France http://www.royet.org/nea1789-1794/archives/discours/stjust_constitution_24_04_93.htm, speech to the National Convention (April 24, 1793).

„It is not enough, citizens, to have destroyed the factions, it is necessary now to repair the evil that they have done to the country.“

—  Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

Speech to the National Convention (April 15, 1794). [Source: Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, Vol. 2 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), p. 367]

„One cannot reign innocently: the insanity of doing so is evident. Every king is a rebel and a usurper.“

—  Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

On ne peut point régner innocemment : la folie en est trop évidente. Tout roi est un rebelle et un usurpateur.
Sur le jugement de Louis XVI (1er discours) http://www.royet.org/nea1789-1794/archives/discours/stjust_jugement_louis16_1_13_11_92.htm, speech to the National Convention (November 13, 1792).

„You who make the laws, the vices and the virtues of the people will be your work.“

—  Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

(Autumn 1792) [Source: Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, vol. 1 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), p. 380]

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„When a people, having become free, establish wise laws, their revolution is complete.“

—  Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

(Autumn 1792) [Source: Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, vol. 1 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), p. 264]

„Those who make revolutions by halves do nothing but dig their own tombs.“

—  Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

(January 1793) [Source: Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, vol. 1 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), p. 414]

„In every Revolution a dictator is needed to save the state by force, or censors to save it by virtue.“

—  Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

Fragment 13 (1794). [Source: Saint-Just, Fragments sur les institutions républicaines]

„Let Revolutionists be Romans, not Tatars.“

—  Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

Speech to the National Convention (March 17, 1794). [Source: Saint-Just quoted in Eugene N. Curtis, Saint-Just: Colleague of Robespierre (New York: Octagon Books, 1973), p. 228]

„The legislator commands the future; to be feeble will avail him nothing: it is for him to will what is good and to perpetuate it; to make man what he desires to be: for the laws, working upon the social body, which is inert in itself, can produce either virtue or crime, civilized customs or savagery.“

—  Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

Le législateur commande à l’avenir; il ne lui sert de rien d’être faible: c’est à lui de vouloir le bien et de le perpétuer; c’est à lui de rendre les hommes ce qu’il veut qu’ils soient: selon que les lois animent le corps social, inerte par lui-même, il en résulte les vertus ou les crimes, les bonnes mœurs ou la férocité.
Discours sur la Constitution à donner à la France http://www.royet.org/nea1789-1794/archives/discours/stjust_constitution_24_04_93.htm, speech to the National Convention (April 24, 1793).

„A nation regenerates itself only upon heaps of corpses.“

—  Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

Saint-Just quoting Mirabeau before members of the Committee of Public Safety, October 17, 1793. [Source: Saint-Just quoted in Eugene N. Curtis, Saint-Just: Colleague of Robespierre (New York: Octagon Books, 1973), p. 236]

„Every political edict which is not based upon nature is wrong.“

—  Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

(Autumn 1792) [Source: Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, vol. 1 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), p. 306]

„Most arts have produced miracles, while the art of government has produced nothing but monsters.“

—  Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

Tous les arts ont produit des merveilles: l'art de gouverner n'a produit que des monstres.
Discours sur la Constitution à donner à la France http://www.royet.org/nea1789-1794/archives/discours/stjust_constitution_24_04_93.htm, speech to the National Convention (April 24, 1793).

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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