Ihere are subjects around which the French attached to the history of their country must unite. Sunday March 12, the Osenat house put up for auction the only letter from Robespierre (1758-1794) to Danton (1759-1794) still preserved. It was sold for 218,750 euros to a French collector. Yet alerted to the priceless historical nature of this piece, in the press and through national representation, the State did not come forward on the day of the sale to exercise its right of pre-emption.
This silence has caused the amazement not only of the community of historians but, more broadly, of all those who feel dispossessed of a piece of their history. This emotion is completely legitimate.
Firstly because in more ways than one, this letter from Robespierre to Danton, dated February 15, 1793, contains a piece of history of the birth of the Republic. Both are the first elected members of Paris to the National Convention, the first Assembly of France to enter the Republic since 1792.
With touching words, Robespierre expresses his condolences to his colleague in the Assembly following the disappearance of his wife. ” My dear Danton, if in the only misfortunes that can shake a soul such as yours, the certainty of having a tender and devoted friend can offer you some consolation, I present it to you. I love you more than ever and until death. In this moment I am yourself. Do not close your heart to the accents of friendship which feel all your pain. »
Robespierre encourages Danton to get up from his grief and resume the fight for the Revolution: “Let us soon make the effects of our deep pain felt by the tyrants who are the authors of our public misfortunes and our private misfortunes. (…) I would have already gone to see you if I hadn’t respected the first moments of your just affliction. »
The two men are not yet engaged in the terrible political duel which will push Robespierre to sacrifice his ” friend “ in the name of the Revolution. Either they condemn them, or they praise them, Chateaubriand, Michelet, Louis Blanc, Lamartine, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Jean Jaurès, Anatole France and so many others were pleased to tell the story of this couple legendary, which supported itself before tearing itself apart.
Whatever one thinks of the character, Maximilien Robespierre is, with Georges Jacques Danton, one of the most emblematic figures of the Revolution. Elected deputy of the Third Estate in May 1789, he was one of the signatories of the Tennis Court oath, the promoter of the abolition of privileges and of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Danton said of him that he manifested “the despotism of reason”.
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