James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

July 13

Charlotte Corday

By Anonymous

  • Jean Paul Marat, a famous French revolutionist, was assassinated in his bath by Charlotte Corday on July 13, 1793.

  • WHO is this, with calm demeanor,

    And with form of matchless grace,

    Wearing yet the modest beauty

    Of her childhood in her face?

    Close the white folds of her kerchief

    All her neck and bosom wrap,

    And her soft brown hair is hidden

    Underneath her Norman cap.

    This is she who left the convent,

    For the fierce and restless throngs,

    Who were gathering head for battle,

    To avenge her country’s wrongs.

    This is she who to its rescue,

    Was the foremost to advance-

    She who struck to death the tyrant

    Of her well-beloved France.

    She who had the martyr’s spirit

    To perform as she had planned;

    Taking thus her life’s sweet promise

    In her own presumptuous hand.

    All the while, herself deceiving,

    With this dangerous subtletry,—

    “Evil, surely, is not evil

    If a good is gained thereby.

    “If I perish for my country,

    Is not this a righteous deed?

    If I save the lives of thousands,

    What is it that one should bleed?”

    So, arraigned at the tribunal,

    This alone was her reply:

    “It was I who did this murder,

    And I do not fear to die.”

    Therefore pitying, admiration,

    More than blame, for her we feel—

    Hers was noble and heroic,

    Though it was mistaken zeal.

    And so long as France shall honour

    Those whose blood for her is shed,

    Shall the name of Charlotte Corday

    Live among the martyred dead!