a qui Mal veut Mal arrive (to those who want Evil, Evil comes)

a qui mal veut mal arrive.jpg

Unidentified Artist, a qui Mal veut, Mal arrive, no date [1790s]. Etching with hand coloring. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2012.01066.
Gift of Dickson Q. Brown, Class of 1895.

An this anti-Jacobin, pro-Girondist print, seven prisoners are seated on stools in a prison cell. Each one wears a feathered Liberty cap and each is tied to the cell wall by a rope around his neck. The red caps were a symbol of the French revolutionaries in the 1790s. The caption at the bottom of the print is a proverb that can be translated “To those who want evil, evil comes.” At the top, “Les Commissaires devenus des otages - arrestation de Dumouriez”.

“After a major defeat in the Battle of Neerwinden in March 1793, [Dumouriez] made a desperate move to save himself from his radical enemies. Arresting the four deputy-commissioners of the National Convention who had been sent to inquire into his conduct (Camus, Bancal-des-Issarts, Quinette, and Lamarque) as well as the Minister of War, Pierre Riel de Beurnonville, he handed them over to the enemy, and then attempted to persuade his troops to march on Paris and overthrow the revolutionary government.” [wikipedia]

The unknown artist may be reacting to the Commission extraordinaire des Douze, established during the French revolution by the French National Convention. The commission was to take all necessary measures to find proof of these conspiracies and to arrest the conspirators.

See also Lectures on the French Revolution by John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, first baron Acton (London, Macmillan and co., 1910). Firestone Library (F) DC143 .A3 1910

Thank you to Prof. Volker Schroder for his help with the translations.