Marat, John-Paul

, a prominent actor in the French revolution, was born of protestant parents, in Neufchatel, in 1744. In early life he went to Paris to study physic, and appears to have made very great proficiency in it; but probably from not having patience to pursue the profession in a regular course, he became an empyric, selling his medicines at an extravagant price. On the breaking out of the revolution, he took the lead among the most violent and savage of all the factions that disgraced the capital; and had endeavoured to preach murder and robbery long before it appeared probable that such crimes could have been practised with impunity. His first publication was a periodical paper, entitled the “Publiciste Parisien,” in which he, without scruple, and without any regard to decency and truth, attacked Neckar, and other men eminent for their integrity and public talents. His next paper was entitled “The Friend of the People,” in which he more openly excited the troops to use their arms against their generals, the poor to plunder the rich, and the people at large to rise against the king. After the deposition of Louis XVI. he was named a deputy of the department of Paris to the convention, in which assembly he appeared armed with pistols. In April 1793, he publicly denounced the leaders of the Brissotine party, accusing them oF treason against the state he was supported by | Robespierre; a violent tumult ensued, but Marat and his friends were subdued, and himself impeached and prosecuted; in a few days, being brought to trial, he was acquitted. The triumph of his party was now unbounded, and they soon gained such an ascendancy over their enemies, that they murdered or banished all that attempted to obstruct the progress of their nefarious projects; till at length their leader Marat fell a victim to the enthusiastic rage of a female, Charlotte Cord6, who bad travelled from Caen, in Normandy, with a determination of rescuing, as she hoped, her country from the hands of barbarians, by the assassination of one of the chief among them. He died unpitied by every human being who was not of the atrocious faction which he led, having, for some weeks, acted the most savage parts, and been the means of involving many of the most virtuous characters in France in almost indiscriminate slaughter. Previously to joining in revolutionary politics, he was known as an author, and published a work “On Man, or Principles of the reciprocal Influence of the Soul and Body,” in two volumes, 12mo: also some tracts on Electricity and Light, in which he attacked the Newtonian System. These works had been forgot long before he began to make a figure in the political world; but it is remarkable that his death occasioned a fresh demand for them. They are now, however, again sunk into oblivion, and his name is never mentioned but with contempt and horror. 1


Biog. Moderne. —Dict. Hist.Rees’s Cyclopædia.