Hébert celebrates the king’s execution (1793)


In January 1793 Jacques Hébert, writing in Le Père Duchesne, justified and celebrated the guillotining of Louis XVI:

“An authority that is powerful enough to dethrone a king commits a crime against humanity if it does not profit from the occasion to exterminate him and his bastard race.

What would you say of a fool, who, while working in his field, came upon a nest of vipers, yet was content to crush only the head of the father, and was chicken-hearted enough to spare the rest? If he said to himself: ‘it is a pity to kill a poor mother in the midst of her children: everything small is so tender! Let’s take this pretty nest to the house to amuse my brats.’ Would he not commit, through stupidity, a very great crime? For, damn it, the monsters that he had revived, and whose life he had thus saved, would not fail to recompense him, to bite him, his wife and his brood, who would perish the victims of misplaced pity.

No quarter! Whenever we can lay our hands on emperors, kings, queens, empresses, let us rid them from the face of the earth. Better to kill the devil than that the devil should kill us. Never will we do as much harm to these monsters as they have done to us and would do to us, damn it.”