A Last Letter from Mother to Daughter during the French Revolution
Madame Roland (1754 – 1793) and her husband were supporters of the French Revolution. She fell out of favour during the ‘Reign of Terror’ and died on the guillotine. She was tried on trumped-up charges of harboring royalist sympathies, but it was plain that her death was part of the purge of the opposition. On 22 June 1793, in a letter she writes “The tyrants may well oppress me, but demean me? Never, never!“. Madame Roland accepted the guillotine as the only way to clear her name and reputation.
On 8 November 1793, she was taken to the guillotine. Before facing her executioner, she bowed before the clay statue of Liberty in the Place de la Révolution, uttering the famous remark:
‘O Liberté, que de crimes on commet en ton nom!’ (Oh Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!)
One week after her execution, her husband, committed suicide on a country lane outside Rouen, one can only think of poor Eudora!
DO not know, my little friend, if I shall be allowed to see to write to you again. Remember your mother. These few are the best I can say to you.
You have seen me happy through the consciousness of having done my duty and of having been helpful to those who suffer. There is no other way of living. You have seen me resigned in misfortune and captivity because I have no remorse, but the memory and joy which good deeds leave behind them. These are the Only things that help one to bear the evils of life and the vicissitudes of fate.
Perhaps (and I hope so) you are not destined for such experiences as mine, but there are others against which you have no means of defending yourself. A regular and busy life is the chief guard against all perils, and necessity, as well as wisdom, will cause you to work seriously.
Be worthy of your parents : they leave you a fine example, and if you know how to profit by it you will not have lived in vain.
Good-bye, dear child, you whom I have nourished and whom I should like to fill with all my thoughts. A time will come when you will be able to realise how hard it is for me at this moment not to be able to see your sweet face. I press you to my breast.
Good-bye, my Eudora.
Heartbreaking letter from Madame Roland to her little daughter, written in her last hours in the prison cell.