“Virtuous Robespierre, toi qui eclaires l’univers (Thou who enlightenest the world.), I come not to ask a favour, but to render service to the state. I have discovered a correspondence that lays open a conspiracy of which many of the actors are yet unsuspected.” And he placed the papers on the table. Robespierre seized, and ran his eye over them rapidly and eagerly.
“Good!—good!” he muttered to himself: “this is all I wanted. Barrere, Legendre! I have them! Camille Desmoulins was but their dupe. I loved him once; I never loved them! Citizen Nicot, I thank thee. I observe these letters are addressed to an Englishman. What Frenchman but must distrust these English wolves in sheep’s clothing! France wants no longer citizens of the world; that farce ended with Anarcharsis Clootz. I beg pardon, Citizen Nicot; but Clootz and Hebert were thy friends.”
“Nay,” said Nicot, apologetically, “we are all liable to be deceived. I ceased to honour them whom thou didst declare against; for I disown my own senses rather than thy justice.”
“Yes, I pretend to justice; that is the virtue I affect,” said Robespierre, meekly; and with his feline propensities he enjoyed, even in that critical hour of vast schemes, of imminent danger, of meditated revenge, the pleasure of playing with a solitary victim. (The most detestable anecdote of this peculiar hypocrisy in Robespierre is that in which he is recorded to have tenderly pressed the hand of his old school-friend, Camille Desmoulins, the day that he signed the warrant for his arrest.) “And my justice shall no longer be blind to thy services, good Nicot. Thou knowest this Glyndon?”
“Yes, well,—intimately. He was my friend, but I would give up my brother if he were one of the ‘indulgents.’ I am not ashamed to say that I have received favours from this man.”
“Aha!—and thou dost honestly hold the doctrine that where a man threatens my life all personal favours are to be forgotten?”
“Good citizen!—kind Nicot!—oblige me by writing the address of this Glyndon.”
Nicot stooped to the table; and suddenly when the pen was in his hand, a thought flashed across him, and he paused, embarrassed and confused.
“Write on, kind Nicot!”
The painter slowly obeyed.
“Who are the other familiars of Glyndon?”
“It was on that point I was about to speak to thee, Representant,” said Nicot. “He visits daily a woman, a foreigner, who knows all his secrets; she affects to be poor, and to support her child by industry. But she is the wife of an Italian of immense wealth, and there is no doubt that she has moneys which are spent in corrupting the citizens. She should be seized and arrested.”
“Write down her name also.”
“But no time is to be lost; for I know that both have a design to escape from Paris this very night.”