She had learned to love, to adore liberty, among the forests and hills of her native country. She saw Marat perpetrating murders of the blackest die in the name of liberty. He went further still, he sacrificed her friends—the friends of liberty. She resolved that the wretch should die. No one could suspect the dark-haired girl. Enthusiastic to madness, she flew to Paris with but one thought filling her breast—that she was amid the terrors of that time, in the absence of all just law, commanded by God to finish the course of Marat. Everything bent to this idea. She cared nothing for her own life—nothing for her own happiness. She came to the threshold of the house many a time and was turned away—she could not gain admittance. Marat’s mistress was jealous of him, and Charlotte Corday had heard of this and feared that it would be impossible to see him alone. She therefore wrote to the monster, and with great eloquence demanded a private interview. The request was granted.
On the morning of the 13th of July she came in person, and Marat ordered that she be shown into his room. He lay in his bath, with his arms out of water, writing. He looked up at her as she entered, and asked her business. She used deception with him, declaring that some of his bitterest enemies were concealed in the neighborhood of her country home. She named, with truth, some of her dearest friends as these enemies. “They shall die within forty-eight hours,” said Marat. This was enough—in an instant she plunged a dagger, which she had concealed about her person, to the center of his heart.
She was executed for this deed upon the Place de la Concorde. They tell the story in France, to show how modest she was, that after her head had fallen from the body a rough man pushed it one side with his foot, and her cheeks blushed scarlet. Marat was interred with great pomp in the Pantheon, but a succeeding generation did better justice to his remains, for they were afterward, by order of government, disinterred and thrown into a common sewer. I scarcely ever stopped on the Place de la Concorde without thinking of Charlotte Corday, and bringing up the dreadful scene in Marat’s house, and her own execution. I fancied her as she appeared that day—a smile upon her face, a wild enthusiastic joy in her eyes, as if she had executed her task, and was willing, glad, to leave such a horror-stricken land. No man can doubt the purity of Charlotte Corday’s character. She was no ordinary murderer. She did not act from the promptings of anger, or to avenge private wrongs. She felt it to be her duty to rid France of such an unnatural monster, and undoubtedly thought herself God’s minister of vengeance.