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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Jean Bailly

  • [A French astronomer and philosopher, born 1736; member of the French Academy; deputy to the States-General, 1789, of which he was president; mayor of Paris the same year; condemned to death by the Jacobins, and executed, Nov. 12, 1793.]
  • It is only from cold.

  • When told, on the way to execution, that he trembled. “The populace,” says Carlyle, “would not have him executed, in the Champ de Mars, but by the river-side. The guillotine is taken down, is carried to the river-side; is there set up again, with slow numbness; pulse after pulse counting itself out in the old man’s weary heart. For hours long, amid curses and bitter frost-rain. ‘Bailly, thou tremblest,’ said one. ‘Mon ami, c’est de froid.’ Crueller end had no mortal.”—French Revolution. An almost identical answer is put by Shakespeare into the mouth of Lord Say, who is brought up for sentence before Jack Cade,—
  • Dick.Why dost thou quiver, man?
  • Say.The palsy, and not fear, provoketh me.
  • 2 Henry VI., IV. 7.
  • Charles I., of England, put on two shirts the morning of his execution, saying, “If I tremble with cold, my enemies will say it was from fear: I will not expose myself to such reproaches.”—LINGARD: History of England, X., chap. 5.
  • Bailly handed, as mayor, the keys of Paris to Louis XVI., after the ratification of the constitution in the Champ de Mars, saying, “I bring your majesty the same keys which were presented to Henry IV. He reconquered his people: here the people have reconquered their king.”
  • When told that his election to the States-General was secure, he replied in the same words used of candidature for office by Thomas Jefferson, “That honor ought neither to be solicited nor refused.”
  • When some regretted that by his election his studies would be suspended, he made the patriotic answer, “I am a Frenchman: and if I can co-operate in the enactment of a good law, that is preferable to a hundred astronomical calculations.”