Zanoni eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 579 pages of information about Zanoni.

“But how is this?  I do not see the name of Tallien?  Tallien,—­I hate that man; that is,” said Robespierre, correcting himself with the hypocrisy or self-deceit which those who formed the council of this phrase-monger exhibited habitually, even among themselves,—­“that is, Virtue and our Country hate him!  There is no man in the whole Convention who inspires me with the same horror as Tallien.  Couthon, I see a thousand Dantons where Tallien sits!”

“Tallien has the only head that belongs to this deformed body,” said Payan, whose ferocity and crime, like those of St. Just, were not unaccompanied by talents of no common order.  “Were it not better to draw away the head, to win, to buy him, for the time, and dispose of him better when left alone?  He may hate you, but he loves money!”

“No,” said Robespierre, writing down the name of Jean Lambert Tallien, with a slow hand that shaped each letter with stern distinctness; “that one head is my necessity!”

“I have a small list here,” said Couthon, sweetly,—­“a very small list.  You are dealing with the Mountain; it is necessary to make a few examples in the Plain.  These moderates are as straws which follow the wind.  They turned against us yesterday in the Convention.  A little terror will correct the weathercocks.  Poor creatures!  I owe them no ill-will; I could weep for them.  But before all, la chere patrie!”

The terrible glance of Robespierre devoured the list which the man of sensibility submitted to him.  “Ah, these are well chosen; men not of mark enough to be regretted, which is the best policy with the relics of that party; some foreigners too,—­yes, they have no parents in Paris.  These wives and parents are beginning to plead against us.  Their complaints demoralise the guillotine!”

“Couthon is right,” said Payan; “My list contains those whom it will be safer to despatch en masse in the crowd assembled at the Fete.  His list selects those whom we may prudently consign to the law.  Shall it not be signed at once?”

“It is signed,” said Robespierre, formally replacing his pen upon the inkstand.  “Now to more important matters.  These deaths will create no excitement; but Collot d’Herbois, Bourdon De l’Oise, Tallien,” the last name Robespierre gasped as he pronounced, “They are the heads of parties.  This is life or death to us as well as them.”

“Their heads are the footstools to your curule chair,” said Payan, in a half whisper.  “There is no danger if we are bold.  Judges, juries, all have been your selection.  You seize with one hand the army, with the other, the law.  Your voice yet commands the people—­”

“The poor and virtuous people,” murmured Robespierre.

“And even,” continued Payan, “if our design at the Fete fail us, we must not shrink from the resources still at our command.  Reflect!  Henriot, the general of the Parisian army, furnishes you with troops to arrest; the Jacobin Club with a public to approve; inexorable Dumas with judges who never acquit.  We must be bold!”

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Zanoni from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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