Danton and others are on trial. In private, Robespierre is having a discussion with the trial's leading judge, Fougier.
R: We're in trouble. The trial is going badly. Danton is exciting the gallery. He's attacking us. We want Danton's death. You justify the verdict. Silence him in any way you can.
F: The public will lynch us. What's more, the accused want witnesses.
R: If we back off we're sunk.
F: I'm a judge, not your private executioner.
R: You're the people's executioner. We sent you the Republic's enemies. Don't judge them! Destroy them!
F: It's against the law.
R: When the Republic is at stake we can do anything.
At the trial, Danton rises and complains.
D: Clerks have been told to write nothing. It must all disappear. Am I to disappear too? No! I won't. I'll keep talking, because I'm immortal. You murderers will be judged by the people. I'll go on talking. The echo of my voice will be heard.
An announcement is made that the government has proclaimed that interruptions of the court's proceedings will not be allowed. A court official defending the announcement declares that there are agents of subversion in the room. Danton rises and says it is a lie. He is taken away and others who protest are taken away with him.
In prison, Danton and others are having their hair cut in preparation for the guillotine. They talk of the fear of death. Danton talks of the revolution.
D: The revolution is shamed. It will all collapse in three months.
Danton's hands are tied behind his back and he walks to the guillotine.
D: Show my head to the people. It is worth seeing.
The blade of the guillotine falls. Danton's head falls into the basket and is held by the hair for a minute of public viewing.
At home, Robespierre is exhausted and relieved. To an associate he says with satisfaction that the people let it happen. He is tired and wants to rest. He already looks like a corpse. (He will be executed in a little less than four months.)
Robespierre is awakened by his maid who has her brother, a child, with her. She thinks Robespierre will be pleased by her little brother having memorized the revolution's "Rights of Man," which Robespierre, himself, drafted. The child recites, and the words fall on Robespierre's ears as recrimination:
"Article One: All men are born free and equal in law. Social differences must be based on the public good."
"Article Two: The goal of political parties is to safeguard man's inalienable rights."
"Article Three: Sovereignty resides in the people. No group or individual may rule without their express consent."
"Article Four: Freedom is the right to do anything not harmful to others. Man's natural rights are limited only by what assures to others in society the exercise of those rights. Only the law can set such limits."
Copyright © 1998-2018 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved