, the most ferocious of those tyrants which the French revolution
, the most ferocious of those tyrants which the French revolution produced, was born at Arras in 1759, where his father was a lawyer, a man of character and knowledge in his profession, but so improvident as to die insolvent, and leave his two sons, of whom Maximilian was the eldest, in poverty. They soon, however, found a generous patron in De Conzie, bishop of Arras, who in a manner adopted them, but honoured Maximilian with his particular care, and after providing him with school education, sent him to Paris, and procured him an exhibition in the college of Louis Le Grand. The manner in which Robespierre conducted himself here, answered the expectation of his protector. He was assiduous and successful in his studies, and obtained many of the yearly prizes. There was nothing, however, about him, which indicated his future destiny. Being an apt scholar, it might be thought that he would make a figure in the world; but we are told that even this was not the case, and that his instructors discovered neither in his conversation nor his actions any trace of that propensity, which could lead them to conjecture that his glory would exceed the bounds of the college. When he had, however, attained the age of sixteen or seventeen, he was advised to study the law; and this he pursued, under the auspices of a Mons. Ferrieres, but displayed no extraordinary enthusiasm for the profession. He had neither perseverance, address, nor eloquence, and, according to one of his biographers, his consciousness of inferiority to those who were making a great figure at the bar, gave him an air of gloominess and dissatisfaction. It was at first determined, that he should practise before the parliament of Paris, but this scheme was never carried into execution, for he returned to his native province, and was admitted an advocate in the supreme council of Artois. About this time he is said to have published, in 1783, a treatise on electricity, in order to remove the vulgar prejudices against conductors. In this piece he introduced a laboured eloge on the character of Louis XVI.; but the subject of his next literary performance was yet more remarkable; it was against death as a punishment, and in this he reproaches all modern governments for permitting such a punishment to remain on their codes, and even doubts the right claimed by society to cut off the life of an individual!