Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

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Most arts have produced miracles, while the art of government has produced nothing but monsters.

Antoine Louis Léon de Richebourg de Saint-Just (25 August 176728 July 1794) was one of the leaders of the French Revolution. Also known as "the archangel of terror".

Sourced[edit]

Happiness is a new idea in Europe.
Man was born for peace and liberty, and became miserable and cruel only through the action of insidious and oppressive laws. And I believe therefore that if man be given laws which harmonize with the dictates of nature and of his heart he will cease to be unhappy and corrupt.
  • You who make the laws, the vices and the virtues of the people will be your work.
    • (Autumn 1792) [Source: Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, vol. 1 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), p. 380]


  • When a people, having become free, establish wise laws, their revolution is complete.
    • (Autumn 1792) [Source: Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, vol. 1 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), p. 264]


  • Peace and prosperity, public virtue, victory, everything is in the vigor of the laws. Outside of the laws everything is sterile and dead.
    • (Autumn 1792) [Source: Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, vol. 1 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), p. 419]


  • Every political edict which is not based upon nature is wrong.
    • (Autumn 1792) [Source: Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, vol. 1 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), p. 306]


  • One cannot reign innocently: the insanity of doing so is evident. Every king is a rebel and a usurper.
    • On ne peut point régner innocemment : la folie en est trop évidente. Tout roi est un rebelle et un usurpateur.
    • Sur le jugement de Louis XVI (1er discours), speech to the National Convention (November 13, 1792).


  • It is time that we labored for the happiness of the people. Legislators who are to bring light and order into the world must pursue their course with inexorable tread, fearless and unswerving as the sun.
    • Travaillons enfin pour le bonheur du peuple, et que les legislateurs qui doivent éclairer le monde prennent leur course d'un pied hardi, comme le soleil.
    • Speech to the National Convention (December 27, 1792). [Source: Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, Vol. 1 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), p. 383]


  • One does not make revolutions by halves.
    • (January 1793) [Source: Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, vol. 1 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), p. 414]


  • I have not found a single good man in government; I have found good only in the people.
    • On declaring the Minister of War, Charles François Dumouriez, a traitor (March 1793). [Source: David William Bates, Enlightenment aberrations: error and revolution in France (Cornell University Press, 2002), p. 169]


  • It has always seemed to me that the social order was implicit in the very nature of things, and required nothing more from the human spirit than care in arranging the various elements; that a people could be governed without being made thralls or libertines or victims thereby; that man was born for peace and liberty, and became miserable and cruel only through the action of insidious and oppressive laws. And I believe therefore that if man be given laws which harmonize with the dictates of nature and of his heart he will cease to be unhappy and corrupt.
    • J’ai pensé que l’ordre social était dans la nature même des choses, et n’empruntait de l’esprit humain que le soin d’en mettre à leur place les éléments divers; qu’un peuple pouvait être gouverné sans être assujetti, sans être licencieux, et sans être opprimé; que l’homme naissait pour la paix et pour la liberté, et n’était malheureux et corrompu que par les lois insidieuses de la domination. Alors j’imaginai que si l’on donnait à l’homme des lois selon la nature et son cœur, il cesserait d’être malheureux et corrompu.
    • Discours sur la Constitution à donner à la France, speech to the National Convention (April 24, 1793).


  • Most arts have produced miracles, while the art of government has produced nothing but monsters.


  • The legislator commands the future; to be feeble will avail him nothing: it is for him to will what is good and to perpetuate it; to make man what he desires to be: for the laws, working upon the social body, which is inert in itself, can produce either virtue or crime, civilized customs or savagery.
    • Le législateur commande à l’avenir; il ne lui sert de rien d’être faible: c’est à lui de vouloir le bien et de le perpétuer; c’est à lui de rendre les hommes ce qu’il veut qu’ils soient: selon que les lois animent le corps social, inerte par lui-même, il en résulte les vertus ou les crimes, les bonnes mœurs ou la férocité.
    • Discours sur la Constitution à donner à la France, speech to the National Convention (April 24, 1793).


  • In the circumstances in which the Republic finds itself, the constitution cannot be inaugurated; it would destroy itself ... The provisional government of France is revolutionary until there is peace.
    • (October 10, 1793) [Source: Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, vol. 2 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), pp. 83-88]


  • A nation regenerates itself only upon heaps of corpses.
    • Saint-Just quoting Mirabeau before members of the Committee of Public Safety, October 17, 1793. [Source: Saint-Just quoted in Eugene N. Curtis, Saint-Just: Colleague of Robespierre (New York: Octagon Books, 1973), p. 236]


  • Insurrection is the exclusive right of the people and of the citizen. Every foreigner, every man clothed with public authority, is outlawed if he proposes it and must be put to death as a usurper of sovereignty and as interested in fomenting troubles for the purpose of doing evil or of adorning himself. Insurrections taking place under a despotism are always salutary. Those which break out in a free state are sometimes dangerous for liberty itself, because the revolt usurps its sublime pretexts and its sacred name. Revolts in free states leave long and painful wounds which bleed a whole century.
    • (1794) [Source: Saint-Just, Fragments sur les institutions républicaines]


  • The Revolution has grown cold; all its principles are weakened; there remains only red caps worn by intriguers. The exercise of terror has made crime blasé, as strong liquors made the palace blasé.
    • Fragment 3 (1794). [Source: Saint-Just, Fragments sur les institutions républicaines]


  • What produces the general good is always terrible or seems bizarre when begun too soon ... The Revolution must stop when it has perfected public happiness and liberty through the laws.
    • Fragment 3 (1794). [Source: Saint-Just, Fragments sur les institutions républicaines]


  • When human statecraft attaches a chain to the feet of a free man, whom it makes a slave in contempt of nature and citizenship, eternal justice rivets the other end about the tyrant's neck.
    • Fragment 3 (1794). [Source: Saint-Just, Fragments sur les institutions républicaines]


  • The French people recognizes the Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul. The first day of every month is to be dedicated to the eternal.
    • Fragment 10 (1794). [Source: Saint-Just, Fragments sur les institutions républicaines]


  • In every Revolution a dictator is needed to save the state by force, or censors to save it by virtue.
    • Fragment 13 (1794). [Source: Saint-Just, Fragments sur les institutions républicaines]


  • Citizens, by what illusion could one persuade himself that you are inhuman. Your Revolutionary Tribunal has condemned three hundred rascals to death in a year. Has not the Spanish Inquisition done worse than that ... Have the English assizes butchered no one in that period? ... What of the kings of Europe, does anyone prate to them of pity? Ah, do not allow yourselves to grow soft-hearted!
    • Speech to the National Convention (February 26, 1794). [Source: Charles Vellay (ed.), Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, Vol. 2 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), pp. 236-237]


  • Dare! — this word contains all the politics of our revolution.
    • Osez! — ce mot renferme toute la politique de notre révolution.
    • Speech to the National Convention (February 26, 1794); though widely published in the above form, this has sometimes been misquoted in some recent publications as: Osez! — ce mot renferme toute la politique de votre révolution. [Dare! — this word contains all the politics of your revolution.]



  • Let Revolutionists be Romans, not Tatars.
    • Speech to the National Convention (March 17, 1794). [Source: Saint-Just quoted in Eugene N. Curtis, Saint-Just: Colleague of Robespierre (New York: Octagon Books, 1973), p. 228]


  • It is not enough, citizens, to have destroyed the factions, it is necessary now to repair the evil that they have done to the country.
    • Speech to the National Convention (April 15, 1794). [Source: Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, Vol. 2 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), p. 367]


  • The vessel of Revolution can arrive at port only on a sea reddened by torrents of blood.
    • Le vaisseau de la Révolution ne peut arriver à bon port que sur une mer rougie par des torrents de sang.
    • Speech to the National Convention [Source: Loomis, Stanley, Paris in the Terror: June 1793 - July 1794 (Philadelphia and New York: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1964) p.p. 284]


  • I do not belong to any faction, I will fight them all.

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