Front Page Titles (by Subject) PUBLIC SPIRIT. - An Appeal to Impartial Posterity, by Citizenness Roland
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PUBLIC SPIRIT. - Jeanne Marie Roland de la Platière, An Appeal to Impartial Posterity, by Citizenness Roland 
An Appeal to Impartial Posterity, by Citizenness Roland, wife of the Minister of the Home Department, or A Collection of Pieces written by her during her Confinement in the Prisons of the Abbey and St. Pelagie, Part I (London: J. Johnson, 1795). Vol. 2.
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What was the Office for Public Spirit, which has been objected to Roland as so great a crime?—I am tempted to repeat this question to the very persons who ask it; for I can conceive nothing so chimerical as that name.
Roland, restored to the ministry after the 10th of August, thought that nothing was more urgent than to diffuse the same spirit throughout the public administration, that every thing proceeding in an uniform course, the success of the revolution might be assured: he therefore addressed to all the administrative bodies a circular letter, tending that way, which did not fail to produce a favourable effect. The Legislative Assembly felt the necessity of seconding it; and for want of a body of Public Instruction, which was not yet organized, determined that an hundred thousand livres (£.4167) should be left to the disposal of the minister of the home department, for the purpose of dispersing such useful writings as he might think fit.
Roland, rigid in his economy, made it his business to lay out this money to the best advantage: availing himself of the public papers, then in the highest estimation, he ordered them to be forwarded gratis to the popular societies, to the parish priests, and to such zealous individuals as appeared desirous of contributing to the welfare of the state. Some of those societies, and several of those individuals, seeing that the government interested itself in their instruction, took courage, and now and then wrote to the minister, to request works which the Convention had ordered to be printed, and which they had not received. The minister, desirous of satisfying them, assigned to one of his offices the care of answering these letters, and of forwarding the publications desired. In this alone consist all the mighty machinations which have made so much noise, and which were nothing more than the mere execution of duties imposed by a decree. Roland was so careful of expence, that at the end of six months he had only disbursed about thirty-four thousand livres, out of the hundred thousand of which he was free to dispose; and of these he delivered an exact account, together with a list of the works distributed or acquired. But as in consequence of the nature of his place, and of the circumstances in which he found himself, he sometimes drew up instructions, which he dispersed in the same way; and as his writings in general breathed nothing but philosophy and a love of his fellow-creatures, fears were entertained lest the personal consideration that might result from thence should render him too powerful.
It only followed that he inspired great confidence, which, by facilitating administrative operations, was productive of considerable advantage; but supposing it necessary to prevent his acquiring too much esteem, and too great an ascendancy, there was nothing to do but to repeal the decree, and to forbid his forwarding any thing which did not necessarily belong to his correspondence with the administrative bodies. It was not however any regard to the public weal, but jealousy of the individual, which raised such a fermentation in men’s minds; and accordingly they began to set up an outcry, and to accuse and denounce him in a vague manner, without pointing out the object of their complaint, for if he could have imagined what it was, he would have been the first to apply a remedy to the evil apprehended. Instead of doing that, he thought only of defending himself, at first by continuing to do his duty, and afterwards by explaining his conduct, and refuting his calumniators. His triumphant answers aggravated envy; he was no longer mentioned but as a public enemy; and a real struggle took place between the courageous functionary, who remained at the helm in spite of the tempest, and the jealous deceivers or deceived, who endeavoured to bury him beneath the waves. He stood firm, as long as he hoped it could answer any purpose, but the weakness and insufficiency of the party of sages having been demonstrated on an important occasion, he retired.
His enemies dreaded his accounts; and prevented not only their examination, but the report of them from being made to the Assembly. The calumniators, when once afoot, thought only of justifying their false aspersions by the ruin of the man who had been the object of them; hence their redoubled efforts, their open persecution directed even against me; and in the want of well-founded reasons, the accusation so often repeated of corrupting the public spirit, and of an office established for that purpose, with my pretended share in the delinquency; and all without citing a fact, a writing, or even a reprehensible phrase.—And yet Roland’s glory, in future times, will in part be attached to the able and instructive productions of his pen!