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Danton, Georges Jacques
"The Titan of the Forlorn Hope" of the French Revolution, born at Arcis-sur-Aube, "of good farmer people ... a huge, brawny, black-browed man, with a waste energy as of a Hercules"; an advocate by profession, "esurient, but with nothing to do; found Paris and his country in revolt, rose to the front of the strife; resolved to do or die"; the cause threatened, he threw himself again and again into the breach defiant, his motto "to dare, and to dare, and again to dare," so as to put and keep the enemy in fear; "Let my name be blighted," he said, "what am I? The cause alone is great, and will live and not perish"; but the "Sea-green" (q. v.) viewed him with jealousy, held him suspect, had him arrested, brought before the Revolutionary Tribunal, the severity of whose proceedings under him he had condemned, and sentenced to the guillotine; a reflection of his in prison has been recorded: "Oh, it were better to be a poor fisherman than to meddle with governing of men." "No weakness, Danton," he said to himself on the scaffold, as his heart began to sink within him as he thought of his wife. His last words were to Samson the headsman: "Thou wilt show my head to the people, it is worth showing"; words worthy of the brother of Mirabeau, who died saying, "I wish I could leave my head behind me, France needs it just now"; a man fiery-real, as has been said, genuine to the core, with many sins, yet lacking that greatest of sins, cant. "He was," says Mr. Belloc, "the most French, the most national, the nearest to the mother of all the Revolutionary group. He summed up France ... when we study him, we see France" (1759-1794). See Carlyle's "French Revolution."
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