The scene suddenly changes to the marketplace of the Place de la GrŔve in Paris. The balcony becomes a scaffold, the table a guillotine, beside which stands LUCIFER the role of EXECUTIONER. ADAM as DANTON, addresses a milling crowd from the side of the scaffold. A company of ragged RECRUITS appears to the sound of drums. They form a line around the scaffold. Bright sunlight.
ADAM as if continuing his speech from the previous scene
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity! -
And death to those who fail to recognize them!
I quire agree. Two battlecries preserve
Our great ideal from universal menace,
One we address to those good souls we trust:
France is in danger, and that wakes them up,
The other we must thunder out to traitors:
It is but one word, Tremble - and they perish.
These rose up kings against us and we threw
A head to them - a head of state - the kings;
The priests rose up against us, and we wrested
The lightning from their hands and reinstated
Reason, that ancient exile, on the throne.
But neither does our other call grow fainter,
And our best men still heed the countrys summons.
We have eleven armies at the front
And a constant stream of brave young men step forth
To fill the gaps left by our fallen heroes.
Who says that madness and the lust for blood
Must decimate our country in due course?
You smelt the ore, the dross is drained away,
The better part remains, is purified.
And what if here and now we call for blood -
Let them think us monsters, I dont mind,
My name may be accursed for all I care,
Providing France be powerful and free.
We only ask for arms and one to lead us!
Thats right, thats right! You only call for arms
Despite the fact that you lack all things else:
Your clothes are ragged and your feet are naked,
With bayonets though youll make up your losses
Because youll win. The people cant be conquered.
One general has just been executed
For leading our brave soldiers to defeat.
Yes, youre right. The people have
No treasure but their blood which they shed nobly
And prodigally for their countrys sake. -
Whoever has the nations sacred treasure
At his command and fails to conquer all
Is deemed a traitor. -
An OFFICER steps Out from the ranks of the RECRUITS
Put me in his place
Then, citizen. Ill wipe out his disgrace.
Your confidence is honourable, friend -
Before we place such trust in you, however,
You must deserve it on the field of battle.
That trust lives in my soul. As for the rest -
I too possess a head which may be worth
As much or more than that which has just fallen.
Wholl guarantee youll bring it if I ask you?
What better guarantor could you desire
Than I myself who hold my life as nothing?
Thats not the way that most young people talk.
But citizen, I ask you just once more -
Have patience, you have time to reach your goal.
I see you do not trust me. You must learn
To think better of me citizen. -
He shoots himself in the head
A pity -
He deserved the oppositions bullet.
Take him away, my friends. - Well meet again
Once victory is ours.
The RECRUITS march away
Oh how I wish
That I could share your fate. But my lot is to struggle
Without glory - my death in action yields
No honour but a foe who plots and watches
And lies in wait for me and hallowed France.
Point him out to us and he shall die!
The one I could point out is dead already.
What about the suspects then? Whoever
Falls under suspicion is already
Guilty, he is branded: the instinct of
The people is infallible, a prophet. -
Death to the aristocracy. On, on,
Into the prisons, we shall be the judges,
The judgment of the populace is sacred.
The CROWD moves off towards the prison
There is no danger there, the bars are strong,
The fetid air that kills both mind and body
Is on your side already. Let them be.
Real bare-faced treason laughs and whets its blade
On benches at the heart of the Convention.
To the Convention then - it still needs purging! -
The Convention can come later, we can practise
On the prisons in the meantime. While we do,
Prepare a list of all the traitors, Danton.
The CROWD moves off threateningly. A few SANS-CULOTTES have dragged a young MARQUIS and his sister, EVE, before the scaffold
Another pair of young aristocrats:
Their proud faces and this fine white linen
Are clear proofs of their guilt!
A noble couple.
Step up here, young people.
Well be off now
To join our comrades. Theres a job to do,
And traitors to be punished.
The SANS-CULOTTES go with the others. The young couple step on to the scaffold. Only a few guards remain behind
I do not understand what draws me to you
But I will risk my life to save you both.
Danton, no. If we indeed are guilty
And you excuse us, then you are a traitor:
If we are not we dont require your mercy.
Who are you to talk like this to Danton?
I am a marquis.
Wait - are you aware
Our one form of address is Citizen?
Im not aware His Majesty the King
Has abolished titles.
Hold your tongue, you fool.
The very guillotine is listening. -
But join us and a new career awaits you.
I have no royal permit, citizen,
To join a foreign army.
Then youll die.
Then I will swell the ranks of my relations
Who gave their lives defending the Kings cause.
Why must you rush so blindly to your death?
Do you believe this noble privilege
Is preserved only for members of your class? -
So you defy me? Good, Ill take you on.
Wholl win? Ill rescue you against your will.
A future and more tranquil generation
In whom the spirit of faction has turned to ashes
Will praise me for this. National Guard! Come,
Take him to my house, look after him.
The MARQUIS is escorted away by a few members of the National Guard
Be strong, my brother!
And God protect you, sister!
Here is a head, no worse than Rolands was.
Let not such hard words pass your tender lips.
More tender words do not become a scaffold.
This dread contraption is my daily business.
When you appeared on it a piece of heaven
Alighted there and locked me in its sanctum.
Even the priests refrain from mockery
When sacrificial beasts are herded past them.
It is I who am the sacrifice, believe me.
Though other men may envy me my power,
Joyless and despising life and death,
I see my throne beside which, day by day,
Men lose their heads, and I await my turn -
Knee deep in blood, my solitude torments me;
I long for the relief of loving someone.
If only for a day you could instruct me
In this heavenly science, woman, I would calmly
Lay my head on the block the morning after.
In a world of terror you still look for love -
Have you no conscience left to terrify you?
To possess a conscience is the privilege
Of common people; those who are led by fate
Have little enough time for introspection.
Have you ever known a storm to hesitate
Because some tender rose fell in its path?
Then who would be so foolish as to pass
Judgment on the leaders of the people?
Who can see the wires that move a Brutus
Or Catiline across the public stage?
There might be some who think that famous men
Have altogether quit the human race
And exist in some superior mode of being
Untouched by petty trials and tribulations,
And unaffected by routine affairs. -
Dont you believe them - the heart continues beating
On the throne: If Caesar had a lover
She might have thought him merely a nice boy
And it probably would not have crossed her mind
That the whole world lay trembling at his feet.
This being so, please tell me, tell me why
You could not love me? Are we not man and woman?
They say whatever loves and hates we bear
Within our hearts we have inherited:
I feel my heart is somehow bound to yours,
Is this so difficult to understand?
And if I did, what then? Youre led by one god,
My heart is given to another.
How could we ever understand each other!
Abandon your outmoded concepts then,
Why sacrifice yourself to exiled gods?
Besides, there is but one befitting altar
For a woman: one ever young - the heart.
Neglected altars may still claim their martyrs.
Oh Danton, it is nobler to preserve
And tend a ruin lovingly than hail
A rising power; this is the vocation
Most appropriate to womans nature.
No man has ever seen me moved to tears,
And could they see me now, good friend or foe,
Theyd marvel that a man whom fate has driven
To purge the world like an engulfing storm
Should tarry on the scaffold, the tears burning
In his eyes for love of a young girl:
Oh how theyd laugh and prophesy the fall
Of Danton, and not one of them would fear him.
Grant me one ray of hope, I beg of you.
When once beyond the grave your soul finds peace,
Shakes off the bloody dust of our own age
Dont, dont go on, dear girl,
Ive no belief in such an afterlife,
I struggle on with fate in no such hope. -
The CROWD returns in a fierce mood, their weapons bloody, heads are stuck on lances. A few of them push their way onto the scaffold
Justice is done - they were a haughty lot.
A SANS-CULOTTE handing DANTON a ring
Here is a ring to swell the countrys coffers.
One of those wastrels pressed it in my hand
As I was about to cut his throat. His type
Believe that we are robbers, pure and simple. -
What, youre still alive? - Go join your fellows.
He stabs EVE who falls at the back of the scaffold
ADAM covering his eyes
And now shes dead. - Ah fate, who can resist you?
Now on to the Convention. Lead us, citizen. -
Have you prepared the list of traitors names?
The CROWD moves away from the scaffold. EVE as a ragged and excited WORKING GIRL. detaches herself from them and rushes to DANTON, a dagger in one hand, a bloody head in the other
Danton, look at this conspirator -
He would have killed you but I killed him first.
If he could have performed my duties better
You did badly - if not, youve done well.
Oh Ive done well, and I want my reward:
I want to spend a night with you, great man.
What sympathy has sprung up in your breast?
What tender feelings can a tigress harbour?
Really, citizen, it seems youve joined
Those blue-blooded aristocrats or grown
Delirious and babble of romance.
You are a man, and I am a young woman.
My admiration draws me to you, great one.
She sends cold shivers down me - I cant took,
I cannot bear this dreadful phantasm.
What a miraculous likeness! - Only those
Who have seen angels and looked back to find
The angel fallen can have seen the like.
Her features, figure, voice, and everything
Identical, the difference is so small
That what she lacks could not be written down,
And yet the w-hole effect is alien! -
Ones sanctity protected her from me,
But this repels me with the stench of hell. -
What are you muttering to yourself?
Madam, and find that I have fewer nights
Remaining than are traitors in the country.
On to the Convention - name the culprits!
In the meantime ROBESPIERRE, SAINT-JUST and other members of the Convention arrive with a fresh crowd and set up a new platform
How could he name them? He is the arch traitor. -
The CROWD grows agitated
You dare accuse me, Saint-Just! Dont you know
How powerful I am?
You were. The people
Made you so, but they are wise - they know
And sanctify the word of the Convention.
I recognize no higher authority
Than the people - the people are my friends.
More agitation in the CROWD
Your friends are the opponents of the country.
The noble people will pass judgment on you.
Before them all I charge you, Danton, traitor:
With embezzlement of state funds, sympathy
With aristocracy, and lust for power
Of the most tyrannical, despotic kind.
Take care, Saint-Just, my words will strike you down.
Your charges are all false!
Dont let him speak -
You know his tongue is cunning as a serpents.
Arrest him in the name of Liberty.
Ignore him, lets not listen, let him perish!
They surround him and take hold of him
Dont listen then, but neither shall I hear
Your accusations. We shant convince each other
With speeches, neither shall your actions sway me.
You have simply anticipated me,
O Robespierre, no more, dont boast of it.
I myself lay down my arms - enough. -
I take this occasion though to summon you
To follow me before three months are out.
Look sharp, headsman, for you dispatch a giant.
He lays his head on the block