David Defends Himself to the National Convention

For three months I have been languishing under the weight of a suspicion made all the more troubling because its source is none other than the excess of my love of country and of liberty. If the false virtues of Robespierre stirred my patriotism, the error that misled me was less the effect of the personal feelings that attached me to him than the result of the universal esteem in which I saw that he was always held.

The committees of general security and public safety have been able to gather all the accusations that hate, envy, and ill-will have launched against me; let them assemble them all together, and I am sure that they will not find in them the slightest proof that I ever participated in any dire plots that threatened the country. I am ready to respond to all the accusations thrown out by my enemies to pull the veil of deception over your eyes. Through this veil of lies you will see the truth, and its flame will be my guide.

The illusion of which I was a victim, the mistakes that it led me to, have been too greatly punished by this harsh treatment, and in these days of justice in which you have solemnly proclaimed indulgence for errors and ruthless severity only for crimes, you will not refuse to hear out a colleague who may, certainly, have been wrong, but who never had criminal thoughts and whose hands were never soaked in innocent blood.

Jacques-Louis David, letter to the National Convention, November 4, 1794