Benoit Camille Desmoulins, a French revolutionist, born at Guise in Picardy in 1762, guillotined in Paris, April 5, 1794. He studied law in Paris, but never practised. On the eve of the revolution he published two republican pamphlets, La philosophic au peuple francais (1788), and La France libre (1789); and when the revolution broke out he ardently adopted its principles, and became one of the favorite orators of the crowd which gathered at the Palais Royal to hear the news of the day. On July 12, 1789, the day after the dismissal of Necker, he mounted a table in the garden of the palais and called the people to the defence of their threatened liberty; he declared that he would not be deterred from speaking by fear of the police, and with a loaded pistol in each hand swore that he would not be taken alive. He advised the patriots to wear a green badge, and as there was not a sufficient quantity of ribbon, he gave them the green leaves of the trees in the garden. The cry "To arms!" was raised; the crowd seized upon all the arms they could find at the gunsmiths', and forming in procession carried through the streets the bust of the dismissed minister with that of the then popular duke of Orleans. The next day the muskets and cannon at the Invalides fell into the hands of the people, and on the 14th the Bastile was taken.

Camille, who had given impulse to this insurrection, figured among the combatants, and at once gained popularity. This was enhanced by a pamphlet, La lanterne aux Parisiens, in which he styled himself the "attorney general of the lamp post." Its success encouraged him to commence, under the title of Les revolutions de France et de Brabant, a newspaper which exercised great influence by its vigor of thought, sparkling wit, and lively style. Such was its importance that Mirabeau sought to conciliate its editor. Camille had been a schoolmate of Robespierre, and lived on intimate terms with the future dictator of the revolution. He was also acquainted with Marat. But his bosom friend was Danton, who largely controlled the young and brilliant writer. Their destinies were closely connected from the establishment of the club of the Cordeliers. Camille was instrumental in the insurrection of Aug. 10, 1792, and was appointed secretary to the ministry of justice when Dan-ton received that office from the legislative assembly. In the massacre of September he used his influence to preserve the lives of several intended victims. With Danton he was elected to the national convention.

In the contest between the Girondists and the Mon-tagnards, he contributed to bring the former into contempt by his Histoire des Brissotins, a pamphlet in which ridicule was skilfully blended with serious charges. He was satisfied with the fall of the party, and would have saved the individuals of whom it was composed, but this was beyond his power. Both he and Danton now tried to bring the convention to a milder policy, and toward the end of January, 1794, Camille established a journal, Le vieux Cordelier, in which he advocated conciliatory measures. Denouncing the system of proscription, he demanded the establishment of a committee of clemency as a preliminary step to clearing the prisons of the suspected. This was answered by accusations brought against him in the club of the Jacobins. Robespierre defended his old friend on two occasions; he represented Camille as a wayward child, whose person it was not necessary to injure, but demanded that his writings should be burned. "To burn is not to answer," exclaimed the headlong journalist; and from that day his fate was sealed. He was arrested on the same night with Danton (March 30), arraigned with him before the revolutionary tribunal, and, without a hearing, was sentenced to death.

When asked his age, he replied, Trente-trois ans, Vage du sans-culotte Jesus, l,age funeste aux revolutionnaires. On their way to the scaffold, while Danton stood composed and immovable, Camille became almost frantic, struggling with his bonds, and appealing to the people. His friend vainly motioned him to keep quiet; he continued to address the crowd, and recalled to their memory all that he had done in their service. "Behold," he cried in despair, "behold the recompense reserved to the first apostle of the revolution !" His young and beautiful wife, who had vainly implored his pardon from the old friendship of Robespierre, tried to raise a riot to save him, but she was arrested, and suffered death a few days later. Camille Desmoulins holds high rank as a pamphleteer. His Vieux Cordelier was reprinted in 1833.