Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice
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Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
 
Assassination

By Auguste Vaillant

(From the speech before the French Chamber of Deputies, 1894, prior to receiving sentence of death for a political crime)
 
AH, gentlemen, if the governing classes could go down among the unfortunates! But no, they prefer to remain deaf to their appeals. It seems that a fatality impels them, like the royalty of the eighteenth century, toward the precipice which will engulf them; for woe be to those who remain deaf to the cries of the starving, woe to those who, believing themselves of superior essence, assume the right to exploit those beneath them! There comes a time when the people no longer reason; they rise like a hurricane, and rush onward like a torrent. Then we see bleeding heads impaled on pikes.  1
  Among the exploited, gentlemen, there are two classes of individuals. Those of one class, not realizing what they are and what they might be, take life as it comes, believe that they are born to be slaves, and content themselves with the little that is given them in exchange for their labor. But there are others, on the contrary, who think, who study and, looking about them, discover social iniquities. Is it their fault if they see clearly and suffer at seeing others suffer? Then they throw themselves into the struggle, and make themselves the bearers of the popular claims.  2
  I know very well that I shall be told that I ought to have confined myself to speech for the vindication of the people’s claims. But what can you expect! It takes a loud voice to make the deaf hear. Too long have they answered our voices by imprisonment, the rope, and rifle-volleys. Make no mistake; the explosion of my bomb is not only the cry of the rebel Vaillant, but the cry of an entire class which vindicates its rights, and which will soon add acts to words. For, be sure of it, in vain will they pass laws. The ideas of the thinkers will not halt!  3
 
 
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