Virago Art Challenge 2016, Day 28
“‘Come,’ said [Combeferre], ‘we must have a little pity. Do you know what the question is here? It is a question of women. See here. Are there wives or are there not? Are there children or are there not? Are there mothers, yes or no, who rock cradles with their foot and who have a lot of little ones around them? Let that man of you who has never beheld a nurse’s breast raise his hand. Ah! you want to get yourselves killed, so do I, I who am speaking to you; but I do not want to feel the phantoms of women wreathing their arms around me. Die, if you will, but don’t make others die. Suicides like that which is on the brink of accomplishment here are sublime; but suicide is restricted, and does not admit of extension; and as soon as it touches those next to you, suicide is murder. Think of the little blond heads; think of the white locks. Listen, Enjolras has just told me that he saw at the corner of the Rue du Cygne a lighted casement, a candle in a poor window, on the fifth floor, and on the pane the quivering shadow of the head of an old woman, who had the air of having spent the night watching and waiting. Perhaps she is the mother of one of you. Well, let that man go, and make haste to say to his mother: “Here I am, Mother!” Let him feel at ease, the task here will be performed all the same. When someone supports his relatives by his toil, he does not have the right to sacrifice himself. That is deserting his family. And those who have daughters, and those who have sisters! What are you thinking of? You get yourselves killed, you are dead, that is well. And tomorrow? Young girls without bread–that is a terrible thing. Man begs, woman sells. Ah! those charming beings, so gracious and so sweet, who have bonnets of flowers, who fill the house with purity, who sing and prattle, who are like a living perfume, who prove the existence of angels in heaven by the purity of virgins on earth, that Jeanne, that Lise, that Mimi, those adorable and honest creatures who are your blessings and your pride, ah! good God, they will suffer hunger! What do you want me to say to you? There is a market for human flesh; and it is not with your ghostly hands, shuddering around them, that you will prevent them from entering it! Think of the street, think of the pavement covered with passers-by, think of the shops past which women go and come with necks all bare, and through the mire. These women, too, were pure once. Think of your sisters, those of you who have them. Misery, prostitution, the police, Saint-Lazare–that is what those beautiful, delicate girls will come to, those fragile marvels of modesty, gentleness and loveliness, fresher than lilacs in the month of May. Ah! you have got yourselves killed! You are no longer on hand! That is well; you have wished to release the people from royalty, and you deliver over your daughters to the police. Friends, beware, have mercy. Women, unhappy women, we are not in the habit of bestowing much thought on them. We trust to the women not having received a man’s education, we prevent their reading, we prevent their thinking, we prevent their occupying themselves with politics; will you prevent them from going to the morgue this evening and identifying your corpses? Come, those who have families must be tractable, and shake hands with us and take themselves off, and leave us here alone to attend to this affair. I know well that courage is required to leave, that it is hard; but the harder it is, the more meritorious. You say: “I have a gun, I am at the barricade; come the worst, I shall remain there.” Come the worst, that’s easily said. My friends, there is a tomorrow; you will not be here tomorrow, but your families will; and what sufferings! See, here is a pretty, healthy child, with cheeks like an apple, who babbles, prattles, chatters, who laughs, who smells sweet beneath your kiss–and do you know what becomes of him when he is abandoned? I have seen one, a very small creature, no taller than that. His father was dead. Poor people had taken him in out of charity, but they had bread only for themselves. The child was always hungry. It was winter. He did not cry. They would see him approach the stove, in which there was never any fire, and whose pipe, you know, was of mastic and yellow clay. The child picked off some of that clay with his little fingers and ate it. His breathing was hoarse, his face gray, his limbs flaccid, his belly prominent. He said nothing. If you spoke to him, he did not answer. He is dead. He was taken to the Necker Hospital to die, where I saw him. I was an intern in that hospital. Now, if there are any fathers among you, fathers whose happiness it is to stroll on Sundays holding their child’s tiny hand in their robust hand, let each one of those fathers imagine that this child is his own. That poor kid, I remember him, and I seem to see him now, when he lay nude on the dissecting table, how his ribs stood out on his skin like the graves beneath the grass in a cemetery. A sort of mud was found in his stomach. There were ashes in his teeth. Come, let us examine ourselves conscientiously and take counsel with our hearts. Statistics show that the mortality among abandoned children is fifty-five percent. I repeat, it is a question of women, it concerns mothers, it concerns young girls, it concerns little children. Who is talking to you of yourselves? We know well what you are; we know well that you are all brave, parbleu! we know well that you all have in your souls the joy and the glory of giving your life for the great cause; we know well that you feel yourselves elected to die usefully and magnificently, and that each one of you clings to his share in the triumph. Very well. But you are not alone in this world. There are other beings of whom we must think. We must not be selfish.’”
Another of the great barricade speeches, this one from Combeferre. This piece is a companion to the Enjolras one I had done a while back:
This Combeferre one freaks me out more than the Enjolras one…Not gonna lie, it was actually a bit tough to ink this piece, not (just) because of the tiny lines, but because of the subject matter.
As with the Enjolras one, this is all in black ink pen and Sharpie, with the white spaces and lines done by way of negative space.