Reference > Quotations > S.A. Bent, comp. > Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men
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S.A. Bent, comp.  Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men.  1887.
 
Madame Roland
 
        [Marie Jeanne Philipon, one of the most gifted women of France; born in Paris, March 17, 1754; married Roland de la Platière, 1780; enlisted with ardor in the French Revolution; aided her husband in his duties of minister of the interior; committed to prison as a partisan of the Girondists, where she wrote her “Memoirs;” executed Nov. 9, 1793.]
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It is not position, but mind, that I want.
          To her father, when rejecting a suitor; the natural sentiment of a girl educated upon Plutarch’s “Lives,” which were the source of much of the language and many of the appellations of the Revolutionists, when private soldiers called themselves Curtius and Horatius Cocles. Thus nothing else could close a letter of Mme. Roland to Brissot, Jan. 7, 1791, but, “The wife of Cato must not amuse herself with paying compliments to Brutus” (La femme de Caton ne s’amuse point à faire des compliments à Brutus).
  She said to Bancal, “It is not necessary to die for liberty: there is more for us to do; we must live to establish it” (Il n’est pas question de mourir pour la liberté: il y a plus à faire: il faut vivre pour l’établir); and again, “Security is the happiness of liberty” (La sécurité est le bonheur de la liberté). Of the relations of the people to the ruler she expressed the opinion, “Indulgence to men in power impels them to despotism” (L’indulgence envers les hommes en autorité est le moyen de les pousser au despotisme).
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O Liberty! how many crimes are committed in thy name!
          The sympathetic relations she sustained to Buzot, a young and enthusiastic Girondist, and her intimate connection with all the leaders of that party, involved her in their ruin. “There went with her to the guillotine a certain Lamarche, ‘director of assignat-printing,’ whose dejection,” says Carlyle, “she endeavored to cheer;” assuming, as another authority states, that his weakness was of a physical and not of a moral character. “Ascend before me,” she said: “you would not have strength enough to see me die” (Montez le premier: vous n’auriez pas la force de me voir mourir). She said to the executioner, who assured her that if he allowed her to retain her hair, he would expose her to frightful torture when the knife fell, “Strange that humanity should take refuge in such an unlikely person as you!”
  She stood in front of a colossal statue of Liberty, to which she addressed the celebrated apostrophe, “O Liberté, que de crimes on commet en ton nom!” Others reported that she said, “How they have deceived thee!” (Comme on t’a jouée!) She had previously demanded pen and paper to write down the strange thoughts that were rising in her.—Memoirs, Appendix. Goethe regretted that this remarkable request was not granted; “for at the end of life thoughts hitherto impossible come to the collected mind, like good spirits (Dämone) which let themselves down from the shining heights of the past.”—Kunst und Alterthum, 5, 2.
  Her husband committed suicide in the same month; and near his body was found a scrap of paper containing the words, “After my wife’s murder I would not remain any longer in a world so stained with crime.”
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