Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 7.djvu/145

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VERGNIAUD

ON THE SITUATION IN FRANCE[1]

(1792)

Born in 1753, died in 1793; elected to the Assembly in 1791, and became its President and Leader of the Girondists; elected to the Convention, he was opposed by Robespierre, arrested, tried and condemned to the guillotine.

What, then, is the strange position in which the National Assembly finds itself? What fatality pursues us and signalizes each day with great events, carrying disorder into our works and giving us over to the tumultuous agitation of apprehensions, hopes, and passions? What fates prepare for France this terrible ebullition, in the midst of which, did we understand less well the imperishable love of the people for liberty, we should be tempted to doubt whether the Revolution is retrograding, or whether it will run its proper course?

At the moment when your armies of the north seemed to be making progress in Brabant and flattered our courage with auguries of victory,

  1. From a speech delivered in the National Assembly on July 3, 1792, after disasters had befallen the French in the war with Austria, and "before an immense concourse," says Thiers. Translated for this edition by Scott Robinson, from H. Morse Stephens's "Orators of the French Revolution." "The first of the four great speeches on which Vergniaud's reputation as an orator mainly rests," says Mr. Stephens..

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