Marat in Newcastle


The French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat lived in Newcastle between 1770 and 1775, practising medicine (on humans and animals) on the basis of several false or imagined qualifications, and hanging around political clubs and bookshops. In 1774 he published 'The Chains of Slavery' (there's a copy in the Lit and Phil) in which he argued that "the dark projects , crafty proceedings, secret plots, fatal policy and deceitful arts of royal despots" had corrupted English politics, and that Parliament had become " a band of disguised traitors who . . . traffic away the national interests and the rights of a free-born people". He said he only slept a couple of hours a night, and lived on black coffee, while writing it, then slept for a fortnight on its completion.

During the French Revolution he became a radical journalist and orator, often attacking the more hesitant 'Girondist' faction' - one of whose sypathisers, Charlotte Corday, murdered him in his bath on 13 July 1793. He was treated as a martyr by the radicals and immortalized in the painting The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David. The bath (and the knife) are today in the Musée Grévin (waxworks) in Paris.

1 comment:

  1. The idea of Jean-Paul Marat as a vet in Newcastle -- several imaginations boggle at it! Did it leave a trace in his heart, when he was l'ami du people? Was this how his assassination occurred:

    Charlotte Corday: Base traitor! I come to slay thee!

    J-PM: Ay, well lass Aah divvent get oot me bath fer nae one, ye knaa, so hoo's aboot lettin' me have me wesh an then we can have a taak ...

    CC: Nay, tyrant, death awaits thee!

    Howay, then, gie's wor towel, and like turn roond, can ye, canny lass, cause I divvent want ye lookin' at me family jewels like when I'm ...

    CC: Thus always to tyrants!

    J-PM: Ay, AwKay, but hoose aboot wor gan doonsteers and have a wee Broon, lass

    (and so on til the Tyne runs dry)

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