The Scarlet Pimpernel

What should be the official duties of the Committee of Public Safety? Ironically, what occupies their time in this story?

Specifically from Chapter 1

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The duties of the Committee of Public Safety should be self-explanatory.... their job should have been to insure the safety of the public. Ironically, in this context, their job was to intercept the aristocrats attempting to flee the city and turn them over to the revolutionaries for their just punishment..... in general, a sentence of death.

Every afternoon before the gates closed and the market carts went out in procession by the various barricades, some fool of an aristo endeavoured to evade the clutches of the Committee of Public Safety. In various disguises, under various pretexts, they tried to slip through the barriers, which were so well guarded by citizen soldiers of the Republic. Men in women's clothes, women in male attire, children disguised in beggars' rags: there were some of all sorts: CI-DEVANT counts, marquises, even dukes, who wanted to fly from France, reach England or some other equally accursed country, and there try to rouse foreign feelings against the glorious Revolution, or to raise an army in order to liberate the wretched prisoners in the Temple, who had once called themselves sovereigns of France.


The Scarlet Pimpernel