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Liveblogging World War II: July 27, 1942

The Extra-Large Omelet of Death...

Hat tip to Steven Lukes's The Curious Enlightenment of Professor Caritat:

Marquis de Condorcet: Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Carita… 1743… 1794…. French mathematician, philosopher and Revolutionist….

Being of a very genial, susceptible and enthusiastic disposition, he was the friend of almost all the distinguished men of his time, and a zealous propagator of the religious and political views then current among the literati of France. D'Alembert, Turgot and Voltaire, for whom, he had great affection and veneration, and by whom he was highly respected and esteemed, contributed largely to the formation of his opinions. His "Lettre d'un laboreur de Picardie à M.N…" (Necker) was written under the inspiratiqn of Turgot, in defense of free internal trade in corn…. In 1785 he published his "Essai sur l'Application de l'Analyse aux Probabilités des Decisions prises à la Pluralité des Voix", a remarkable work which has a distinguished place in the history of the doctrine of probability…. In 1786 he married Sophie de Grouchy, a sister of Marshal Grouchy, said to have been one of the most beautiful women of her time….

He was the chief author of the address to the European powers when they threatened France with war. He was keenly interested in education, and, as a member of the committee of public instruction, presented to the Assembly (April 21 and 22, 1792) a bold and comprehensive scheme for the organization of a system of state education which, though more urgent questions compelled its postponement, became the basis of that adopted by the Convention, and thus laid the foundations on which the modern system of national education in France is built up. After the attempted flight of the King, in June 1791, Condorcet was one of the first to declare in favor of a republic….

At the elections for the Convention he was chosen for five departments, and took his seat for that of Aisne. He now became the most influential member of the committee on the constitution…. Condorcet objected to the assumption of judicial functions by the Convention, objected also on principle to the infliction of the death penalty; but he voted the King guilty of conspiring against liberty and worthy of any penalty short of death….

His severe and public criticism of the constitution adopted by the Convention, his denunciation of the arrest of the Girondists, and his opposition to the violent conduct of the Mountain, led to his being accused of conspiring against the Republic. He was condemned and declared to be hors la loi….

When the execution of the Girondists showed him that his presence exposed his protectress to a terrible danger, he resolved to seek a refuge elsewhere. "I am outlawed," he said, "and if I am discovered you will meet the same sad end as myself. I must not stay." Madame Vernet's reply deserves to be immortal, and should be given in her own words: "La Convention, Monsieur, a le droit de mettre hors la loi: elle n'a pas le pouvoir de mettre hors de l'humanité; vous resterez."…

[H]is wife and some of his friends, with the co-operation of Madame Vernet, prevailed on him to engage in the composition of the work by which he is best known -- the "Esquisse d'un Tableau Historique des Progrès de l'Esprit Humain"….

Condorcet, by a fatally successful artifice, at last baffled the vigilance of his generous friend and escaped. Disappointed in finding even a night's shelter at the chateau of one whom he had befriended, he had to hide for three days and nights in the thickets and stone-quarries of Clamart. Oh the evening of the 7th of April 1794 -- not, as Carlyle says, on a "bleared May morning", -- with garments torn, with wounded leg, with famished looks, be entered a tavern in the village named, and called for an omelette. "How many eggs in your omelette?" "A dozen." "What is your trade?" "A carpenter." "Carpenters have not hands like these, and do not ask for a dozen eggs in an omelette." When his papers were demanded he had none to show; when his person was searched a Horace was found on him. The villagers seized him, bound him, haled him forthwith on bleeding feet towards Bourg-la-Reine; he fainted by the way, was set on a horse offered in pity by a passing peasant, and, at the journey's end, was cast into a cold damp cell. Next morning he was found dead on the floor. Whether he had died from suffering and exhaustion, from apoplexy or from poison, is an undetermined question.