Prelude from Converging Lines

My name is Joseph Fourier but this is not my story. I am a mathematician by calling and I have lived a long and prosperous life largely in the service of the Emperor Napoleon. In order to understand more clearly what I am about to relate it is necessary to give you a little of my background. I was born in Auxerre in 1768 to a poor family but became an orphan at the age of 9. At the start of the Revolution some twenty years later I was active initially in my own district serving on the local Revolutionary Council. I later moved to Paris but then during the Reign of Terror, I was imprisoned when I argued against the new policy of mass arrests and executions. It was really quite ironic. The Council at the time was made up of two factions who were struggling with each other for control. The leader of the controlling group was a man called Maximilien Robespierre and I managed to obtain an audience with him to argue my case. Even if I say so myself, I argued passionately and eloquently for my life to be spared but to no avail. I was sent back to my cell to wait for the trek to the guillotine. As things transpired it was only a matter of days later that control was wrested from the faction in charge and Robespierre himself was executed. This however, is not his story either. It is, in fact, the story of a man who was appointed by Robespierre to prosecute me. His name is Antoine Lestrade.

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