Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK III.: Object and Merits of the System. - The Origins of Contemporary France: The Modern Regime, vol. I
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BOOK III.: Object and Merits of the System. - Hippolyte Taine, The Origins of Contemporary France: The Modern Regime, vol. I 
The Origins of Contemporary France: The Modern Regime, vol. 1, trans. John Durand (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1890).
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Object and Merits of the System.
I. How Napoleon comprehends the sovereignty of the people.—His maxim on the will of the majority and on the office of government.—Two groups of evidently preponderating desires in 1799.—II. Necessities dating from the Revolution.—Lack of security for Persons, Property, and Consciences.—Requisite conditions for the establishment of order.—End of Civil war, Brigandage, and Anarchy.—Universal relief and final security.—III. Lasting effects of revolutionary laws.—Condition of the Émigrés.—Progressive and final amnesty.—They return.—They recover a portion of their possessions.—Many of them enter the new hierarchy.—Indemnities for them incomplete.—IV. Confiscation of collective fortunes.—Ruin of the Hospitals and Schools.—V. Complaints of the Poor, of Parents, and of Believers.—Contrast between old and new educational facilities.—Clandestine instruction.—Jacobin teachers.—VI. The Spirit and Ministrations of Catholicism.—How the Revolution develops a sense of this.—VII. Reasons for the Concordat.—Napoleon’s economical organization of the Church institution.—A good Bargainer.—Compromise with the old state of things.—VIII. State appropriations very small.—Toleration of educational institutions.—The interest of the public in them invited.—The University.—Its monopoly.—Practically, his restrictions and conditions are effective.—Satisfaction given to the first group of requirements.
However clear and energetic his artistic convictions may be, his mind is absorbed by the preoccupations of the sovereign; it is not enough for him that his edifice should be monumental, symmetrical, and beautiful; first of all, as he lives in it and derives the greatest benefit from it, he wants it habitable, and habitable for Frenchmen of the year 1800. Consequently, he takes into account the habits and dispositions of his tenants, the pressing and permanent wants for which the new structure is to provide; these wants, however, must not be theoretic and vague, but verified and defined; for he is a calculator as close as he is profound, and deals only with positive facts. “My political system,” says he to the Council of State,1 “is to rule men as the mass want to be ruled. . . . By constituting myself a Catholic I put an end to the war in La Vendée; by turning Mahometan I established myself in Egypt: by turning ultramontane I gained over the priests in Italy. Were I to govern a population of Jews, I would restore the temple of Solomon. I shall speak just in this fashion about liberty in the free part of St. Domingo; I shall confirm slavery in the Ile-de-France and even in the slave section of St. Domingo, with the reservation of diminishing and limiting slavery where I maintain it, and of restoring order and keeping up discipline where I maintain freedom. I think that is the way to recognize the sovereignty of the people.” Now, in France, at this epoch, there are two groups of preponderant desires which evidently outweigh all others, one dating back the past ten years, and the other for a century and more: the question is how to satisfy these, and the sagacious constructor, who estimates them for what they are worth, combines the proportions, plan, arrangement, and entire interior economy of his edifice to meet this requirement.
Of these two desires the first is urgent, almost a physical necessity. For the last ten years, the government has no longer answered its purpose, or has ruled in a contrary sense; its impotence and injustice, in turn or both at once, have been deplorable; it has committed or allowed too many outrages on persons, property, and consciences; in sum, the Revolution did nothing else, and it is time that this should stop. Safety and security for consciences, property, and persons is the loud and unanimous outcry in all directions.2
To restore tranquillity, many novel measures are essential. And first, the political and administrative concentration just decreed, a centralization of all powers in one hand, local powers conferred by the central power, and this supreme power in the hands of a resolute chief equal in intelligence to his high position; next, a regularly paid army,1 carefully equipped, properly clothed and fed, strictly disciplined and therefore obedient and able to do its duty without wavering or faltering, like any other instrument of precision; an active police-force and gendarmerie held in check; administrators independent of those subject to them, and judges independent of those under their jurisdiction—all appointed, maintained, watched, and restrained from above, as impartial as possible, sufficiently competent, and, in their official spheres, capable functionaries; finally, freedom of worship, and, accordingly, a treaty with Rome and the restoration of the Catholic Church, that is to say, a legal recognition of the orthodox hierarchy and of the only clergy which the faithful may acccept as legitimate, in other words, the institution of bishops by the Pope, and of priests by the bishops.
This done, the rest is easily accomplished. A well-led army corps marches along and tramples out the embers of the conflagration now kindling in the West, while religious toleration extinguishes the smouldering fires of popular insurrection. Henceforth, there is an end to civil war.2 Regiments ready to act in harmony with the military commissions3 purge the South and the valley of the Rhone; thenceforth, there are no more roving bands in the rural districts, while brigandage on a grand scale, constantly repressed, ceases, and after this, that on a small scale. No more chouans, chauffeurs, or barbets;1 the mail-coach travels without a guard, and the highways are safe.2
There is no longer any class or category of citizens oppressed or excluded from the common law: the latest Jacobin decrees and the forced loan have been at once revoked: noble or plebeian, ecclesiastic or layman, rich or poor, former émigré or former terrorist, every man, whatever his past, his condition, or his opinions, now enjoys his private property and his legal rights; he has no longer to fear the violence of the opposite party; he may rely on the protection of the authorities,3 and on the equity of the magistrates.4 So long as he respects the law he can go bed at night and sleep tranquilly with the certainty of awaking in freedom on the morrow, and with the certainty of doing as he pleases the entire day; with the privilege of working, buying, selling, thinking, amusing himself,1 going and coming at his pleasure, and especially of going to mass or of staying away if he chooses. No more jacqueries either rural or urban, no more proscriptions or persecutions and legal or illegal spoliations, no more intestine and social wars waged with pikes or by decrees, no more conquests and confiscations made by Frenchmen against each other. With universal and unutterable relief people emerge from the barbarous and anarchical régime which reduced them to living from one day to another, and return to the pacific and regular régime which permits them to count on the morrow and make provision for it. After ten years of harassing subjection to the incoherent absolutism of unstable despotisms, here, for the first time, they find a rational and stable government, or, at least, a reasonable, tolerable, and fixed degree of it. The First Consul is carrying out his declarations and he has declared that “The Revolution has ended.”2
The main thing now is to dress the severe wounds it has made and which are still bleeding, with as little torture as possible, for it has cut down to the quick, and its amputations, whether foolish or outrageous, have left sharp pains or mute suffering in the social organism.
One hundred and ninety-two thousand names have been inscribed on the list of émigrés.3 By the terms of the law, every émigré is “civilly dead, and his possessions have become the property of the Republic;” if he dared return to France, the same law condemned him to death; there could be no appeal, petition, or respite; it sufficed to prove identity and the squad of executioners was at once ordered out. Now, at the beginning of the Consulate, this murderous law is still in force; summary proceedings are always applicable,1 and one hundred and forty-six thousand names still appear on the mortuary list. This constitutes a loss to France of 146,000 Frenchmen, and not those of the least importance—gentlemen, army and navy officers, members of parliaments, priests, prominent men of all classes, conscientious catholics, liberals of 1789, Feuillantists of the Legislative assembly, and Constitutionalists of the years iii and v; and worse still, through their poverty or hostility abroad, they are a discredit or even a danger for France, as formerly with the Protestants driven out of the country by Louis XIV.2 —To these 146,000 exiled Frenchmen add 200,000 or 300,000 others, residents, but semi-proscribed;3 first, those nearly related and allied to each émigré, excluded by the law from “every legislative, administrative, municipal and judicial function,” and even deprived of the elective vote, and next, all former nobles or ennobled, deprived by the law of their status as Frenchmen and obliged to re-naturalize themselves according to the formalities.
It is, accordingly, almost the entire élite of old France which is wanting in the new France, like a limb violently wrenched and half-detached by the unskilful and brutal scalpel of the revolutionary “sawbones”; for both the organ and the body are not only living, but they are still feverish and extremely sensitive; it is important to avoid too great irritation; inflammation of any kind would be dangerous. A skilful surgeon, therefore, must mark the places for the stitches, not force the junctures, but anticipate and prepare for the final healing process, and await the gradual and slow results of vital effort and spontaneous renewal. Above all he must not alarm the patient. The First Consul is far from doing this; on the contrary his expressions are all encouraging. Let the patient keep quiet, there shall be no re-stitching, the wound shall not be touched. The constitution solemnly declares that the French people shall never allow the return of the émigrés,1 and, on this point, the hands of future legislators are already tied fast; it prohibits any exception being added to the old ones.—But, first, by virtue of the same constitution, every Frenchman not an émigré or transported has the right to vote, to be elected, to exercise every species of public function; consequently, twelve days later,2 a mere order of the Council of State restores civil and political rights to former nobles and the ennobled, to the kinsmen and relations of émigrés, to all who have been dubbed émigrés of the interior and whom Jacobin intolerance had excluded, if not from the territory, at least from the civic body: here are 200,000 or 300,000 Frenchmen already brought back into political communion if not to the soil.—They had succumbed to the coup-d’état of Fructidor; naturally, the leading fugitives or those transported, suffering under the same coup-d’état, were restored to political rights along with them and thus to the territory—Carnot, Barthélémy, Lafont-Ladébat, Siméon, Boissy d’Anglas, Mathieu Dumas, in all thirty-nine, designated by name;3 very soon after, through a simple extension of the same resolution, others of the Fructidor victims, a crowd of priests huddled together and pining away on the Ile-de-Ré, the most unfortunate and most inoffensive of all.4 —Two months later, a law declares that the list of émigrés is definitely closed;5 a resolution orders immediate investigation into the claims of those who are to be struck off the list; a second resolution strikes off the first founders of the new order of things, the members of the National Assembly “who voted for the establishment of equality and the abolition of nobility;” and, day after day, new erasures succeed each other, all specific and by name, under cover of toleration, pardon, and exception:1 on the 19th of October 1800, there are already 1200 of them. Bonaparte, at this date, had gained the battle of Marengo; the surgical restorer feels that his hands are more free; he can operate on a larger scale and take in whole bodies collectively. On the 20th of October 1800, a resolution strikes off entire categories from the list, all whose condemnation is too grossly unjust or malicious,2 at first, minors under sixteen and the wives of émigrés; next, plowmen, artisans, workmen, journeymen and servants with their wives and children; in fine, 18,000 ecclesiastics who, banished by law, left the country only in obedience to the law; besides these, “all individuals inscribed collectively and without individual denomination,” those already struck off, but provisionally, by local administrations; also still other classes. Moreover, a good many emigrants, yet standing on the lists, steal back one by one into France, and the government tolerates them.3 Finally, eighteen months later, after the peace of Amiens and the Concordat,4 a sénatus-consulte ends the great operation; an amnesty relieves all who are not yet struck off, except the declared leaders of the militant emigration, its notables, and who are not to exceed one thousand; the rest may come back and enjoy their civic rights; only, they must promise “loyalty to the government established under the constitution and not maintain directly or indirectly any connection or correspondence with the enemies of the State.” On this condition the doors of France are thrown open to them and they return in crowds.
But their bodily presence is not of itself sufficient; it is moreover essential that they should not be absent in feeling, as strangers and merely domiciliated in the new society. Were these mutilated fragments of old France, these human shreds put back in their old places, simply attached or placed in juxtaposition to modern France, they would prove useless, troublesome and even mischievous; let us strive, then, to have them grafted on afresh through adherence or complete fusion; and first, to effect this, they must not be allowed to die of inanition; they must take root physically and be able to live. In private life, how can former proprietors, the noblesse, the parliamentarians, the upper bourgeoisie, support themselves, especially those without a profession or pursuit, and who, before 1789, maintained themselves, not by their labor, but by their income? Once at home, they can no longer earn their living as they did abroad; they can no longer give lessons in French, in dancing, or in fencing.—There is no doubt but that the sénatus-consulte which amnesties them restores to them a part of their unsold possessions;1 but most of these are sold and, on the other hand, the First Consul, who is not disposed to re-establish large fortunes for royalists,2 retains and maintains the largest portion of what they have been despoiled of in the national domain, all woods and forests of 300 arpens3 and over, their stock and property rights in the great canals, and their personal property already devoted to the public service. The effective restitution is therefore only moderate; the émigrés who return recover but little more than one-twentieth of their patrimony, one hundred millions1 out of more than two milliards. Observe, besides, that by virtue even of the law and as admitted by the First Consul,2 this alms is badly distributed; the most needy and the greatest number remain empty-handed, consisting of the lesser and medium class of rural proprietors, especially of country gentlemen whose domain, worth less than 50,000 francs, brings in only 2000 or 3000 francs income;3 a domain of this size came within reach of a great many purses, and hence found purchasers more readily and with greater facility than a large holding; the State was almost always the seller, and thenceforth the old proprietor could make no further claim or pretension.—Thus, for many of the émigrés, “the sénatus-consulte of the year x is simply a permit to starve to death in France” and,4 four years later,5 Napoleon himself estimates that “40,000 are without the means of subsistence.” They manage to keep life and soul together and nothing more;6 many, taken in and cared for by their friends or relations, are supported as guests or parasites, somewhat through compassion and again on humanitarian grounds. One recovers his silver plate, buried in a cellar; another finds notes payable to bearer, forgotten in an old chest. Sometimes, the purchaser of a piece of property, an honest man, gives it back at the price he paid for it, or even gratis, if, during the time he had held it, he had derived sufficient profit from it. Occasionally, when the adjudication happens to have been fraudulent, or the sale too irregular, and subject to legal proceedings, the dishonest purchaser does not refuse a compromise. But these cases are rare, and the evicted owner, if he desires to dine regularly, will wisely seek a small remunerative position and serve as clerk, book-keeper or accountant. M. des Écherolles, formerly a major-general, keeps the office of the new line of diligences at Lyons, and earns 1200 francs a year. M. de Puymaigre, who, in 1789, was worth two millions, becomes a contrôleur des droits réunis at Briey with a salary of 2400 francs.
Some royalist or other applies for employment in every branch of the new administration;1 however slightly recommended, he obtains the place. Sometimes he even receives one without having asked for it; M. de Vitrolles2 thus becomes, in spite of himself, inspector of the imperial sheepfolds; this fixes his position and makes it appear as if he had given in his adhesion to the government.—Naturally, the great political recruiter singles out the tallest and most imposing subjects, that is to say, belonging to the first families of the ancient monarchy, and, like one who knows his business, he brings to bear every means, constraint and seduction, threats and cajoleries, supplies in ready money, promises of promotion with the influence of a uniform and gold-lace embroidery.3 It matters little whether the enlistment is voluntary or extorted; the moment a man becomes a functionary and is enrolled in the hierarchy, he loses the best portion of his independence; once a dignitary and placed at the top of the hierarchy, he alienates his entire individuality, for henceforth he lives under the eye of the master, feels the daily and direct pressure of the terrible hand which grasps him, and he forcibly becomes a mere tool.1 These historic names, moreover, contribute to the embellishment of the reign. Napoleon hauls in a good many of them, and the most illustrious among the old noblesse, of the court of the robe and of the sword. He can enumerate among his magistrates, M. Pasquier, M. Séguier, M. Molé; among his prelates, M. de Boisgelin, M. du Barral, M. du Belley, M. de Roquelaure, M. de Broglie; among his military officers, M. de Fézensac, M. de Ségur, M. de Mortemar, M. de Narbonne;2 among the dignitaries of his palace, chaplains, chamberlains and ladies of honor—Rohan, Croy, Chevreuse, Montmorency, Chabot, Montesquiou, Noailles, Brancas, Gontaut, Grammont, Beauvau, Saint-Aignan, Montalembert, Haussonville, Choiseul-Praslin, Mercy d’Argenteau, Aubusson de la Feuillade, and many others, recorded in the imperial almanac as formerly in the royal almanac.
But they are only with him nominally and in the almanac. Except certain individuals, M. de las Cases and M. Philippe de Ségur, who gave themselves up body and soul, even to following him to Saint Helena, to glorifying, admiring, and loving him beyond the grave, the others are submissive conscripts and who remain more or less refractory spirits. He does nothing to win them over. His court is not, like the old court, a conversational ball-room, but a hall of inspection, the most sumptuous apartment in his vast barracks; the civil parade is a continuation of the military parade; one finds one’s self constrained, stiff, mute and uncomfortable.1
He does not know how to entertain as the head of his household, how to welcome guests and be gracious or even polite to his pretended courtiers; he himself declares that2 “they go two years without speaking to him, and six months without seeing him; he does not like them, their conversation displeases him.” When he addresses them it is to browbeat them; his familiarities with their wives are those of the gendarme or the pedagogue, while the little attentions he inflicts upon them are indecorous criticisms or compliments in bad taste. They know that they are under espionage in their own homes and responsible for whatever is said there; “the upper police is constantly hovering over all drawing-rooms.”3 For every word uttered in privacy, for any lack of compliance, every individual, man or woman, runs the risk of exile or of being relegated to the interior at a distance of forty leagues.1 And the same with the resident gentry in the provinces; they are obliged to pay court to the prefect, to be on good terms with him, or at least attend his receptions; it is important that their cards should be seen on his mantelpiece.2 Otherwise, let them take heed, for it is he who reports on their conduct to Fouché or to Savary. In vain do they live circumspectly and confine themselves to a private life; a refusal to accept an office is unpardonable; there is a grudge against them if they do not employ their local influence in behalf of the reign.3 Accordingly, they are, under the empire as under the republic, in law as in fact, in the provinces as well as at Paris, privileged persons the wrong way, a suspicious class under “a special surveillance” and subject to exceptional rigor.4 In 1808,5 Napoleon orders Fouché “to draw up . . . . among the old and wealthy families who are not in the system . . . a list of ten in each department, and of fifty for Paris,” of which the sons from sixteen to eighteen years of age shall be forced to enter Saint-Cyr and from thence go into the army as second lieutenants. In 1813, still “in the highest classes of society,” and arbitrarily selected by the prefects, he takes ten thousand other persons, exempt or redeemed from the conscription, even the married, even fathers of families, who, under the title of guards of honor, become soldiers, at first to be slaughtered in his service, and next, and in the mean time, to answer for the fidelity of their relatives. It is the old law of hostages, a resumption of the worst proceedings of the Directory for his account and aggravated for his profit.—Decidedly, the imperial régime, for the old royalists, resembles too much the Jacobin régime; they are about as repugnant to one as to the other, and their aversion naturally extends to the whole of the new society.—As they comprehend it, they are more or less robbed and oppressed for a quarter of a century. In order that their hostility may cease, the indemnity of 1825 is essential, fifty years of gradual adaptation, the slow elimination of two or three generations of fathers and the slow elimination of two or three generations of sons.
Nothing is so difficult as the reparation of great social wrongs. In this case the incomplete reparation did not prove sufficient; the treatment which began with gentleness ended with violence, and, as a whole, the operation only half succeeded.
Other wounds are not less deep, and their cure is not less urgent; for they cause suffering, not only to one class, but to the whole people—that vast majority which the government strives to satisfy. Along with the property of the émigrés, the Revolution has confiscated that of all local or special societies, ecclesiastic or laic, of churches and congregations, universities and academies, schools and colleges, asylums and hospitals, and even the property of the communes. All these fortunes have been swallowed up by the public treasury, which is a bottomless pit, and are gone forever.—Consequently, all services thus maintained, especially charitable institutions, public worship and education, die or languish for lack of sustenance; the State, which has no money for itself, has none for them. And what is worse, it hinders private parties from taking them in charge; being Jacobin, that is to say intolerant and partisan, it has proscribed worship, driven nuns out of the hospitals, closed Christian schools, and, with its vast power, it prevents others from carrying out at their own expense the social enterprises which it no longer cares for.
And yet the cravings for which this work provides have never been so great nor so imperative. In ten years1 the number of foundlings increased from 23,000 to 62,000; it is, as the reports state, a deluge: there are 1097 instead of 400 in Aisne, 1500 in Lot-et-Garonne, 2035 in la Manche, 2043 in Bouches-du-Rhône, 2673 in Calvados. From 3000 to 4000 beggars are enumerated in each department and about 300,000 in all France.2 As to the sick, the infirm, the mutilated, unable to earn their living, it suffices, for an idea of their multitude, to consider the régime to which the political doctors have just subjected France, the régime of fasting and blood-letting. Two millions of Frenchmen have marched under the national flag, and eight hundred thousand have died under it;3 among the survivors, how many cripples, how many with one arm and with wooden legs! All Frenchmen have eaten dog-bread for three years and often have not had enough of that to live on; over a million have died of starvation and poverty; all the wealthy and well-to-do Frenchmen have been ruined and have lived in constant fear of the guillotine; four hundred thousand have wasted away in prisons; of the survivors, how many shattered constitutions, how many bodies and brains disordered by an excess of suffering and anxiety, by physical and moral wear and tear!1
Now, in 1800, assistance is lacking for this crowd of civil and military invalids, the charitable establishments being no longer in a condition to furnish it. Under the Constituent Assembly, through the suppression of ecclesiastical property and the abolition of octrois, a large portion of their revenue had been cut off, that assigned to them out of octrois and the tithes. Under the Legislative Assembly and the Convention, through the dispersion and persecution of nuns and monks, they were deprived of a body of able male and female volunteer servants who, instituted for centuries, gave their labor without stint. Under the Convention, all their possessions, the real-estate and the debts due them, had been confiscated;2 and, in the restitution to them of the remainder at the end of three years, a portion of their real-estate is found to have been sold, while their claims, settled by assignats or converted into state securities, had died out or dwindled to such an extent that, in 1800, after the final bankruptcy of the assignats and of the state debt, the ancient patrimony of the poor is two-thirds or one-half reduced.3 It is for this reason that the eight hundred charitable institutions which, in 1789, had one hundred thousand or one hundred and ten thousand occupants, could not support more than one-third or one-half of them; on the other hand, it may be estimated that the number of applicants tripled; from which it follows that, in 1800, there is less than one bed in the hospitals and asylums for six children, either sick or infirm.
Under this wail of the wretched who vainly appeal for help, for nursing and for beds, another moan is heard, not so loud, but more extensive, that of parents unable to educate their children, boys or girls, and give them any species of instruction either primary or secondary.—Previous to the Revolution “small schools” were innumerable: in Normandy, Picardy, Artois, French Flanders, Lorraine and Alsace, in the Ile-de-France, in Burgundy and Franche-Comté, in the Dombes, Dauphiny and Lyonnais, in the Comtat, in the Cévennes and in Béarn,1 almost as many schools could be counted as there were parishes, in all probably twenty or twenty-five thousand for the thirty-seven thousand parishes in France, and all frequented and serviceable; for, in 1789, forty-seven men out of a hundred, and twenty-six girls or women out of a hundred, could read and write or, at least, sign their names.1 —And these schools cost the treasury nothing, next to nothing to the tax-payer, and very little to parents. In many places, the congregations, supported by their own property, furnished male or female teachers,—Frères de la Doctrine Chrétienne, Frères de Saint-Antoine, Ursulines, Visitandines, Filles de la Charité, Sœurs de Saint-Charles, Sœurs de la Providence, Sœurs de la Sagesse, Sœurs de Notre-Dame de la Croix, Vatelottes, Miramiones, Manettes du Tiers Ordre, and many others. Elsewhere, the curate of the parish was obliged through a parish regulation to teach himself, or to see that his vicar taught. A very large number of factories or of communes had received legacies for maintaining a school; the instructor often enjoyed, through an endowment, a métayer farm or a piece of ground; he was generally provided with a lodging; if he was a layman he was exempt, besides, from the most onerous taxes; as sexton, beadle, chorister or bell-ringer, he had small perquisites; finally, he was paid for each child four or five sous a month; sometimes, especially in poor districts, he taught only from All Saints’ day down to the spring, and followed another occupation during the summer. In short, his salary and his comfort were about those of a rural vicar or of a suitably paid curate.
Higher education (éducation secondaire) was provided for in the same manner, and still better by local and private enterprise. More than one hundred and eight establishments furnished it completely, and more than four hundred and fifty-four partially.2 Like the others, and not less liberally than the smaller schools, these were supported by endowments, some of which were very ample and even magnificent; a certain upper school in the provinces, Rodez,1 possessed twenty-seven thousand livres income, and one in Paris, Louis-le-Grand, an income of four hundred and fifty thousand livres, each of these, large or small, having its own distinct endowment, in real property, lands and houses, and in revenues on privileges derived from the hotel-de-ville, the octroi and from transportation lines.—And, in each of them, the scholarships, or half-scholarships, were numerous—six hundred alone in Louis-le-Grand. In total, out of the seventy-two thousand scholars in the kingdom, there were forty thousand for whom a high-school education was gratuitous or half-gratuitous; nowadays, it is less than five thousand out of seventy-nine thousand.2 The reason why is that, before 1789, the revenues were not only large, but the expenses were small. The salary of a head-master, teacher, or assistant-teacher was not large, say four hundred and fifty, six hundred, nine hundred, or twelve hundred livres per annum at most, just enough for a single man to live on; in effect, most of the teachers were priests or monks, Benedictines, regular canons, Oratorians, the latter alone officiating in thirty colleges. Not subject to the expenses and necessities which a family imposes, they were abstemious through piety, or at least through discipline, habit, and respect for persons; frequently, the statutes of the school obliged them to live in common,3 which was much cheaper than living apart.—The same economical accord is found with all the wheels, in the arrangement and working of the entire system. A family, even a rural one, never lived far away from a high-school, for there were high-schools in nearly all the small towns, seven or eight in each department, fifteen in Ain, seventeen in Aisne.1 The child or youth, from eight to eighteen, had not to endure the solitude and promiscuity of a civil barracks; he remained within reach of his parents. If they were too poor to pay the three hundred francs board required by the school, they placed their son in a respectable family, in that of some artisan or acquaintance in the town; there, with three or four others, he was lodged, had his washing done, was cared for and watched, had a seat at the family table and by the fireside, and was provided with light; every week, he received from the country his supply of bread and other provisions; the mistress of the house cooked for him and mended his clothes, the whole for two or three livres a month.2 —Thus do institutions flourish that arise spontaneously on the spot; they adapt themselves to circumstances, conform to necessities, utilize resources and afford the maximum of returns for the minimum of expense.
This great organization disappears entirely, bodily and with all its possessions, like a ship that sinks beneath the waves; the teachers are dismissed, exiled, transported, and proscribed; its property is confiscated, sold and destroyed, and the remainder in the hands of the State is not restored and again applied to its former service; public education, worse treated than public charity, does not recover a shred of its former endowment. Consequently, in the last years of the Directory, and even early in the Consulate,1 there is scarcely any instruction given in France; in fact, for the past eight or nine years it has ceased,2 or become private and clandestine. Here and there, a few returned priests, in spite of the intolerant law and with the connivance of the local authorities, also a few scattered nuns, teach in a contraband fashion a few small groups of Catholic children; five or six little girls around a disguised Ursuline nun spell out the alphabet in a back room;3 a priest without tonsure or cassock secretly receives in the evening two or three youths whom he makes translate the De Viris.—During the intervals, indeed, of the Reign of Terror, before the 13th of Vendémiaire and the 18th of Fructidor, sundry schools spring up again like tufts of grass in a mowed pasture-ground, but only in certain spots and meagrely; moreover, as soon as the Jacobin returns to power he stamps them out pertinaciously;4 he wants to have teaching all to himself.—Now the institution by which the State pretends to replace the old and free establishments makes a figure only on paper. One école centrale in each department is installed or decreed, making eighty-eight on the territory of ancient France; this hardly supplies the place of the eight or nine hundred high-schools (collèges), especially as these new schools scarcely live, being in ruin at the very start,1 poorly maintained, badly furnished, with no preparatory schools nor contiguous boarding-houses,2 the programme of studies being badly arranged and parents suspicious of the spirit of the studies.3 Thus, there is little or no attendance at most of the courses of lectures; only those on mathematics are followed, particularly on drawing, and especially mechanical and geometrical drawing, probably by the future surveyors and engineers of roads and bridges, by building contractors and a few aspirants to the École Polytechnique. As to the other courses, on literature, history, and the moral sciences, as comprehended by the Republic and imposed by it, these obtain not over a thousand auditors in all France; instead of seventy-two thousand pupils, only seven or eight thousand seek superior education, while six out seven, instead of seeking self-culture, simply prepare themselves for some practical pursuit.1
It is much worse with primary instruction. The provision for this is enjoined on the local authorities. But, as they have no money, they generally shirk this duty, and, if they do set up a school, are unable to maintain it.2 On the other hand, as instruction must be laic and Jacobin, “almost everywhere,”3 the teacher is an outcast layman, a dethroned Jacobin, some old, starving clubbist without a situation, foul-mouthed and of ill-repute. Families, naturally, refuse to trust their children with him; even when honorable, they avoid him; and the reason is that, in 1800, Jacobin and scamp have become synonymous terms. Henceforth, parents desire that their children should learn to read in the catechism and not in the declaration of rights:1 as they view it, the old manual formed polished youths and respectful sons; the new one forms only insolent profligates and precocious, slovenly blackguards.2 Consequently, the few primary schools in which the Republic has placed its creatures and imposed its educational system remain three-quarters empty; in vain does she close the doors of those in which other masters teach with other books; fathers persist in their repugnance and distaste; they prefer for their sons utter ignorance to unsound instruction.3 —A secular establishment, created and provided for by twenty generations of benefactors, gave gratis, or at a much lower rate, the first crumbs of intellectual food to more than 1,200,000 children.4 It was demolished; in its place, a few improvised and wretched barracks distributed here and there a small ration of mouldy and indigestible bread. Thereupon, one long, low murmur, a long time suppressed, breaks out and keeps on increasing, that of parents whose children are condemned to go hungry; in any event, they demand that their sons and daughters be no longer forced, under penalty of fasting, to consume the patent flour of the State, that is to say a nauseous, unsatisfactory, badly-kneaded, badly-baked paste which, on trial, proves offensive to the palate and ruinous to the stomach.
Another plaint is heard, deeper and more universal, that of all souls in which regret for their established church and forms of worship still subsists or is revived.
In every religious system discipline and rites depend upon faith, for it is faith alone which suggests or prescribes these; they are the outcome and expansion of this; it attains its ends through these, and manifests itself by them; they are the exterior of which it is the interior; thus, let these be attacked and it is in distress; the living, palpitating flesh suffers through the sensitive epiderm.—In Catholicism, this epiderm is more sensitive than elsewhere, for it clings to the flesh, not alone through ordinary adhesiveness, the effect of adaptation and custom, but again through a special organic attachment, consisting of dogmatic doctrine; theology, in its articles of belief, has here set up the absolute necessity of the sacraments and of the priesthood; consequently, between the superficial and central divisions of religion the union is complete. The Catholic sacraments, therefore, are not merely symbols; they possess in themselves “an efficacious power, a sanctifying virtue.” “That which they represent, they really work out.”1 If I am denied access to them, I am cut off from the fountains to which my soul resorts to drink in grace, pardon, purity, health and salvation. If my children cannot be regularly baptized, they are not Christians; if extreme unction cannot be administered to my dying mother, she sets out on the long journey without the viaticum; if I am married by the mayor only, my wife and I live in concubinage; if I cannot confess my sins, I am not absolved from them, and my burdened conscience seeks in vain for the helping hand which will ease the too heavy load; if I cannot perform my Easter duties, my spiritual life is a failure; the supreme and sublime act by which it perfects itself through the mystic union of my body and soul with the body, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, is wanting.—Now, none of these sacraments are valid if they have not been conferred by a priest, one who bears the stamp of a superior, unique, ineffaceable character, through a final sacrament consisting of ordination and which is conferred only on certain conditions; among other conditions, it is essential that this priest should have been ordained by a bishop; among other conditions, it is essential that this bishop1 should have been installed by the Pope. Consequently, without the Pope there are no bishops; without bishops no priests; without priests no sacraments; without the sacraments no salvation. The ecclesiastical institution is therefore indispensable to the believer. The canonical sacerdoce, the canonical hierarchy is necessary to him for the exercise of his faith.—He must have yet more, if fervent and animated with true old Christian sentiment, ascetic and mystic, which separates the soul from this world and ever maintains it in the presence of God. Several things are requisite to this end; and first, vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, that is to say, the steady and voluntary repression of the most powerful animal instinct and of the strongest worldly appetites; next, unceasing prayer, especially prayer in common, where the emotion of the prostrate soul increases through the emotion of the souls that surround it; in the same degree, active piety, meaning by this the doing of good works, education and charity, especially the accomplishment of repulsive tasks, such as attending the sick, the infirm, the incurable, idiots, maniacs and repentant prostitutes; finally, the strict daily rule which, a sort of rigorous and minute countersign, enjoining and compelling the repetition of the same acts at the same hours, renders habit the auxiliary of will, adds mechanical enthusiasm to a serious determination, and ends in making the task easy. Hence, communities of men and of women, congregations and convents, these likewise, the same as the sacraments, the sacerdoce and the hierarchy, form a body along with belief and thus constitute the inseparable organs of faith.
Before 1789, the ignorant or indifferent Catholic, the peasant at his plow, the mechanic at his work-bench, the good wife attending to her household, were unconscious of this innermost suture; thanks to the Revolution, they have acquired the sentiment of it and even the physical sensation. They had never asked themselves in what respect orthodoxy differed from schism, nor how positive religion was opposed to natural religion; it is the civil organization of the clergy which has led them to distinguish the difference between the unsworn curé and the interloper, between the right mass and the wrong mass; it is the prohibition of the mass which has led them to comprehend its importance; it is the revolutionary government which has transformed them into theologians and canonists.1 Compelled, under the Reign of Terror, to sing and dance before the goddess Reason, and next, in the temple of the “Être Suprême,” subjected, under the Directory, to the new-fangled republican calendar, and to the insipidity of the decade festivals, they have measured, with their own eyes, the distance which separates a present, personal, incarnate deity, redeemer and savior, from a deity without form or substance, or, in any event, absent; a living, revealed, and time-honored religion, and an abstract, manufactured, improvised religion; their spontaneous worship, which is an act of faith, and a worship imposed on them which is only frigid parade; their priest, in a surplice, sworn to continence, delegated from on high to open out to them the infinite perspectives of heaven or hell beyond the grave, and the republican substitute, officiating in a municipal scarf, Peter or Paul, a layman like themselves, more or less married and convivialist, sent from Paris to preach a course of Jacobin morality.1 —Their attachment to their clergy, to the entire body regular and secular, is due to this contrast. Previously, they were not always well-disposed to it; the peasantry, nowhere, were content to pay tithes, and the artisan, as well as the peasant, regarded the idle, well-endowed, meditative monks as but little more than so many fat drones. The man of the people in France, by virtue of being a Gaul, has a dry, limited imagination; he is not inclined to veneration, but is rather shrewd, critical and a railler at the powers above him, with a hereditary undertone of distrust and envy at every man who wears a cloth suit and who eats and drinks without doing manual labor.—At this time, his clergy do not excite his envy, but his pity; monks and nuns, curés and prelates, roofless, without bread, imprisoned, transported, guillotined, or, at best, fugitives, hunted down and more unfortunate than wild beasts—it is he who, during the persecutions of the years ii, iv and vi, harbors them, conceals them, lodges them and feeds them. He sees them suffering for their faith, which is his faith, and, before their constancy, equal to that of the legendary martyrs, his indifference changes into respect and next into zeal. From the year iv,1 the orthodox priests have again recovered their place and ascendency in his soul which the creed assigns to them; they have again become his serviceable guides, his accepted directors, the only warranted interpreters of Christian truth, the only authorized dispensers and ministers of divine grace. He attends their mass immediately on their return and will put up with no other. Brutalized as he may be, or indifferent and dull, and his mind filled with nothing but animal concerns, he needs them;2 he misses their solemnities, the great festivals, the Sunday; and this privation is a periodical want both for eyes and ears; he regrets the ceremonial, the lights, the chants, the ringing of the bells, the morning and evening Angelus.—Thus, whether he knows it or not, his heart and senses are Catholic1 and he demands the old church back again. Before the Revolution, this church lived on its own revenues; seventy thousand priests, thirty - seven thousand nuns, twenty-three thousand monks, supported by endowments, cost the State nothing, and scarcely anything to the tax-payer; at any rate, they cost nothing to the actual, existing tax-payer, not even the tithes, for, established many centuries, the tithes were a tax on the soil, not on the owner in possession, nor on the farmer who tilled the ground, who has purchased or hired it with this tax deducted. In any case, the real property of the Church belonged to it, without prejudice to anybody, through the strongest legal and most legitimate of property titles, the last will and testament of thousands of the dead, its founders and benefactors. All is taken from it, even the houses of prayer which, in their use, disposition and architecture, were, in the most manifest manner, Christian works and ecclesiastical objects, thirty-eight thousand parsonages, four thousand convents, over forty thousand parochial churches, cathedrals and chapels. Every morning, the man or woman of the people, in whom the need of worship has revived, passes in front of one of these buildings robbed of its cult; these declare aloud to them through their form and name what they have been and what they should be to-day. This voice is heard by incredulous philosophers and former Conventionalists;1 all Catholics hear it, and out of thirty-five millions of Frenchmen,2 thirty-two millions are Catholics.
How withstand such a just complaint, the universal complaint of the indigent, of parents, and of believers?—The capital difficulty here reappears, the nearly insurmountable dilemma into which the Revolution has plunged every steady government, that is to say the lasting effect of revolutionary confiscations and the conflict which sets two rights on the same domain in opposition to one another, the right of the dispoiled owner and the right of the owner in possession. This time, again the fault is on the side of the State, which has converted itself from a gendarme into a brigand and violently appropriated to itself the fortune of the hospitals, schools, and churches; the State must return this in money or in kind. In kind, it is no longer able; everything has passed out of its hands; it has alienated what it could, and now holds on only to the leavings. In money, nothing more can be done; it is itself ruined, has just become bankrupt, lives on expedients from day to day and has neither funds nor credit. Nobody dreams of taking back property that is sold; nothing is more opposed to the spirit of the new régime: not only would this be a robbery as before, since its buyers have paid for it and got their receipts, but again, in disputing their title the government would invalidate its own, for its authority is derived from the same source as their property: it is established on the same principle as their rights of possession and by virtue of the same accomplished facts—because things are as they are and could not be different, because ten years of revolution and eight years of war bear down on the present with too heavy a weight, because too many and too deep interests are involved and enlisted on the same side, because the interests of twelve hundred thousand purchasers are incorporated with those of the thirty thousand officers to whom the Revolution has provided a rank, along with that of all the new functionaries and dignitaries, including the First Consul himself, who, in this universal transposition of fortunes and ranks, is the greatest of parvenus and who must maintain the others if he wants to be maintained by them. Naturally, he protects everybody, through calculation as well as sympathy, in the civil as in the military order of things, particularly the new property-owners, especially the smaller and the average ones, his best clients, attached to his reign and to his person through love of property, the strongest passion of the ordinary man, and through love of the soil, the strongest passion of the peasant.1 Their loyalty depends on their security, and consequently he is lavish of guarantees. In his constitution of the year viii,2 he declares in the name “of the French nation that after a legally consummated sale of national property, whatever its origin, the legitimate purchaser cannot be divested of it.” Through the institution of the Legion of Honor he obliges each member “to swear, on his honor, to devote himself to the conservation of property sanctioned by the laws of the republic.”1 According to the terms of the imperial constitution2 “he swears” himself “to respect and to enforce respect for the irrevocability of the sale of national possessions.”
Unfortunately, a cannon-ball on the battle-field, an infernal machine in the street, an illness at home, may carry off the guarantor and the guarantees.3 On the other hand, confiscated goods preserve their original taint. Rarely is the purchaser regarded favorably in his commune; the bargain he has made excites envy; he is not alone in his enjoyment of it, but the rest suffer from it. Formerly, this or that field of which he reaps the produce, this or that domain of which he enjoys the rental, once provided for the parsonage, the asylum and the school; now the school, the asylum and the parsonage die through inanition for his advantage; he fattens on their fasting. In his own house, his wife and mother often look melancholy, especially during Easter week; if he is old, or becomes ill, his conscience disturbs him; this conscience, through habit and heredity, is Catholic: he craves absolution at the last moment at the priest’s hands, and says to himself that, at the last moment, he may not probably be absolved.4 In other respects, he would find it difficult to satisfy himself that his legal property is legitimate property; for, not only is it not so rightfully before the tribunal of conscience, but again it is not so in fact on the market; the figures, in this particular, are convincing, daily and notorious. A patrimonial domain which brings in three thousand francs finds a purchaser at one hundred thousand francs; alongside of this a national domain which brings in just as much, finds a purchaser only at sixty thousand francs; after several sales and resales, the depreciation continues and forty per cent of the value of the confiscated property is lost.1 A low, indistinct murmur is heard, and reverberates from sale to sale, the muttering of private probity protesting against public probity, declaring to the new proprietor that his title is defective; it lacks one clause and a capital one, that of the surrender and cession, the formal renunciation, the authentic desistance, of the former owner. The State, the first seller, owes this voucher to the purchasers; let it procure this and negotiate accordingly; let it apply for this to the rightful party, to the owners whom it has dispossessed, to the immemorial and legitimate titularies, I mean to the ancient corporations. These have been dissolved by revolutionary law and have no longer a representative who can sign for them. Nevertheless, in spite of revolutionary law, one of these corporations, with more vitality than the rest, still subsists with its proper, if not legal, representative, its regular and undisputed chief. This chief is qualified and authorized to bind the body; for, institutionally, he is supreme, and the conscience of all its members is in his hand. His signature is of the highest value; it is very important to obtain this, and the First Consul concludes the Concordat with the Pope.
By this Concordat, the Pope “declares that neither himself nor his successors shall in any manner disturb the purchasers of alienated ecclesiastical property, and that the ownership of the said property, the rights and revenues derived therefrom, shall consequently remain incommutable in their hands or in those of their assigns.”1 Henceforth the possession of this property is no longer a sin; at least, it is not condemned by the spiritual authority, by that external conscience which, in Catholic countries, governs the inward conscience and often supplies its place; the Church, the moral head, removes with its own hands the moral scruple, the last small stone, troublesome and dangerous, which, lying underneath the cornerstone of lay society, breaks the level of the entire structure and compromises the equilibrium of the new government.—In exchange, the State endows the Church. By the same Concordat, and by the decrees which follow it, “the government2 ensures a suitable salary to bishops and curés,” fifteen thousand francs to each archbishop, ten thousand francs to each bishop, fifteen hundred francs to each curé of the first class and one thousand francs to each curé of the second class,3 also, later on,4 a maximum of five hundred francs and a minimum of three hundred francs to each assistant-priest or vicar. “If circumstances require it,5 the conseils-généraux of the large communes may grant to prelates or to curés an increase of salary out of their rural possessions or octrois.” In all cases, archbishops, bishops, curés and priests shall be lodged, or receive a lodging indemnity. So much for the support of persons.—As to real property,1 “all the metropolitan churches, cathedrals, parochial buildings and others, not alienated, and needed for the purposes of worship, shall be subject to the disposition of the bishops.”—The parsonages and gardens attached to these, not alienated, shall be given up to the curés and assistant-priests.”—“The possessions of the fabriques,2 not alienated, as well as the rentals they enjoyed, and which have not been transferred, shall be restored to their destination.—As to the outlay and expenditure for worship,3 for the parochial fabrique or cathedral, if its revenue is not sufficient, this shall receive aid from its commune or from its department; besides, “an assessment of ten per cent.4 shall be laid on the revenues of all the real estate of the communes, such as houses, woods, and rural possessions, for the formation of a common fund of subsidy,” a general sum with which to provide for “acquisitions, reconstructions or repairs of churches, . . . seminaries and parsonages.” Moreover,5 the government allows “the French Catholics to make endowments, if so disposed, in favor of churches . . . for the support of ministers and the exercise of worship,” that is to say to bequeath or make gifts to the fabriques or seminaries; in fine, it exempts seminarists, the future curés, from the conscription.
It also exempts the “Ignorantins,” or brethren of the Christian schools, who are the instructors of the common people. With respect to these and in relation to every other Catholic institution, it follows the same utilitarian principle, the fundamental maxim of laic and practical good sense: when religious vocations make their appearance and serve the public, it welcomes and makes use of them; it grants them facilities, dispensations and favors, its protection, its donations, or at least its tolerance. Not only does it turn their zeal to account, but it authorizes their association.1 Numerous societies of men or of women again spring up with the assent of the public authorities—the “Ignorantins,” the “Filles de la Charité,” the “Sœurs Hospitalières,” the “Sœurs de Saint-Thomas,” the “Sœurs de Saint-Charles,” the “Sœurs Vatelottes.” The Council of State accepts and approves of their statutes, vows, hierarchy, and internal regulations. They again become proprietors; they may accept donations and legacies. The State frequently makes presents to them. In 1808,2 thirty-one communities of Sisters of Charity, and mostly educational, thus obtain the buildings and furniture they ask for, in full possession and gratuitously. The State, also, frequently supports them;3 it repeatedly decides that in this asylum, or in that school, the “sisters” designated by the ancient foundation shall resume their work and be paid out of the income of the asylum or school. Better still, and notwithstanding comminatory decrees,4 Napoleon, between 1804 and 1814, allows fifty-four communities to arise and exist, outside of the congregations authorized by him, which do not submit their statutes to him and which dispense with his permission to exist; he lets them live and does not disturb them; he judges5 “that there is every sort of character and imagination, that eccentricities even should not be repressed when they do no harm,” that, for certain people, an ascetic life in common is the only refuge; if that is all they desire they should not be disturbed, and it is easy to feign ignorance of them; but let them remain quiet and be sufficient unto themselves!—Such is the new growth of the regular clergy alongside of the secular clergy, the two main branches of the Catholic trunk. Owing to the help, or to the authorization, or to the connivance of the State, inside or outside of its limitations, both clerical bodies, legally or in reality, recover a civil existence, and thus obtain, or at least nearly so, their physical maintenance.1
And nothing more. Nobody, better than Napoleon, knows how to make a good bargain, that is to say, to give a little in order to gain a great deal. In this treaty with the Church he tightens his purse-strings and especially avoids parting with his ready money. Six hundred and fifty thousand francs for fifty bishops and ten archbishops, a little more than four million francs for the three or four thousand cantonal curés, in all five million francs per annum, is all that the State promises to the new clergy; later on,2 he takes it on himself to pay those who officiate in the branch chapels; nevertheless, in 1807, the entire appropriation for public worship costs the State only twelve million francs a year;3 the rest, as a rule, and especially the salaries of the forty thousand assistant-priests and vicars, must be provided by the fabriques and the communes.4 Let the clergy benefit by occasional contributions;5 let it appeal to the piety of believers for its monstrances, chalices, albs and chasubles, for decorations and the other expenses of worship; they are not prohibited from being liberal to it, not only during the services, on making collections, but in their houses, within closed doors, from hand to hand. Moreover, they have the right of making gifts or bequests before a notary, of establishing foundations in favor of seminaries and churches; the foundation, after verification and approval by the Council of State, becomes operative; only,1 it must consist of state securities, because, in this shape, it helps maintain their value and the credit of the government; in no case must it be composed of real estate;2 should the clergy become land-owners it would enjoy too much local influence; no bishop, no curé must feel himself independent; he must be and always remain a mere functionary, a hired workman for whom the State provides work in a shop with a roof overhead, a suitable and indispensable atelier, in other words, the house of prayer well known in each parish as “one of the edifices formerly assigned to worship.” This edifice is not restored to the Christian community, nor to its representatives; it is simply “placed at the disposition of the bishop.”3 The State retains the ownership of it, or transfers this to the communes; it concedes to the clergy merely the right of using it, and, in that, loses but little. Parish and cathedral churches in its hands are, for the most part, dead capital, nearly useless and almost valueless; through their structure, they are not fitted for civil offices; it does not know what to do with them except to make barns of them; if it sells them it is to demolishers for their value as building material, and then at great scandal. Among the parsonages and gardens that have been surrendered, several have become communal property,1 and, in this case, it is not the State which loses its title but the commune which is deprived of its investment. In short, in the matter of available real estate, land or buildings, from which the State might derive a rent, that which it sets off from its domain and hands over to the clergy is of very little account. As to military service, it makes no greater concessions. Neither the Concordat nor the organic articles stipulate any exemption for the clergy; the dispensation granted is simply a favor; this is provisional for the seminarians and only becomes permanent under ordination; now, the government fixes the number of the ordained, and it keeps this down as much as possible;2 for the diocese of Grenoble, it allows only eight in seven years.3 In this way, it not only saves conscripts, but again, for lack of young priests, it forces the bishops to appoint old priests, even constitutionalists, nearly all pensioners on the treasury, and which either relieves the treasury of a pension or the commune of a subsidy.4 —Thus, in the reconstruction of the ecclesiastical fortune the State spares itself and the portion it contributes remains scanty; it furnishes but little more than the architectural plan, a few of the larger stones and the permission or injunction to build; the rest concerns the communes and private individuals. They must exert themselves, continue and complete it, by order or spontaneously and under its permanent direction.
Such is its steady course, and which it applies to the reorganization of the other two collective fortunes.—As to charitable institutions, under the Directory, the asylums and hospitals had their unsold property restored to them, and in the place of what had been sold they were promised national property of equal value.1 But this was a complicated operation; things had dragged along in the universal disorder and, to carry it out, the First Consul reduced and simplified it. He at once sets aside a portion of the national domain, several distinct morsels in each district or department, amounting in all to four millions of annual income derived from productive real-estate,2 which he distributes among the asylums, pro rata, according to their losses; he assigns to them, moreover, all the rents, in money or in kind, due for foundations to parishes, cures, fabriques and corporations; finally, “he applies to their wants” various outstanding claims, all national domains which have been usurped by individuals or communes and which may be subsequently recovered, “all rentals belonging to the Republic, the recognition and payment of which have been interrupted.”3 In short, he rummages every corner and picks out the scraps which may help them along; then, resuming and extending another undertaking of the Directory, he assigns to them, not merely in Paris, but in many other towns, a portion of the product derived from theatres and octrois.4 —Having thus increased their income, he applies himself to diminishing their expenses. On the one hand, he gives them back their special servants, those who cost the least and work the best, I mean the Sisters of Charity. On the other hand, he binds them down rigidly to exact accounts; he subjects them to strict supervision; he selects for them competent and suitable administrators; he stops, here as everywhere else, waste and peculation. Henceforth, the public reservoir to which the poor come to quench their thirst is repaired and cleaned; the water remains pure and no longer oozes out; private charity may therefore pour into it its fresh streams with full security; on this side, they flow in naturally, and, at this moment, with more force than usual, for, in the reservoir, half-emptied by revolutionary confiscations, the level is always low.
There remain the institutions for instruction. With respect to these, the restoration seems more difficult, for their ancient endowment is almost entirely wasted; the government has nothing to give back but dilapidated buildings, a few scattered investments formerly intended for the maintenance of a college scholarship,1 or for a village schoolhouse. And to whom should these be returned since the college and the schoolhouse no longer exist?—Fortunately, instruction is an article of such necessity that a father almost always tries to procure it for his children; even if poor, he is willing to pay for it, if not too dear; only, he wants that which pleases him in kind and in quality and, therefore, from a particular source, bearing this or that factory stamp or label. If you want him to buy it do not drive the purveyors of it from the market who enjoy his confidence and who sell it cheaply; on the contrary, welcome them and allow them to display their wares. This is the first step, an act of toleration; the conseils-généraux demand it and the government yields.2 It permits the return of the Ignorantin brethren, allows them to teach and authorizes the towns to employ them; later on, it graduates them at its University: in 1810, they already possess forty-one schoolhouses and eight thousand four hundred pupils.1 Still more liberally, it authorizes and favors female educational congregations; down to the end of the empire and afterwards, nuns are about the only instructors of young girls, especially in primary education.—Owing to the same toleration, the upper schools are likewise reorganized, and not less spontaneously, through the initiative of private individuals, communes, bishops, colleges or pennsionnats, at Reims, Fontainebleau, Metz, Évreux, Sorrèze, Juilly, La Flèche and elsewhere, small seminaries in all the dioceses. Offer and demand have come together; instructors meet the children half-way, and education begins on all sides.2
Thought can now be given to its endowment, and the State invites everybody, the communes as well as private persons, to the undertaking. It is on their liberality that it relies for replacing the ancient foundations; it solicits gifts and legacies in favor of new establishments, and it promises “to surround these donations with the most invariable respect.”3 Meanwhile, and as a precautionary measure, it assigns to each its eventual duty;4 if the commune establishes a primary school for itself, it must provide the tutor with a lodging and the parents must compensate him; if the commune founds a college or accepts a lycée, it must pay for the annual support of the building,5 while the pupils, either day - scholars or boarders, pay accordingly. In this way, the heavy expenses are already met, and the State, the manager-general of the service, furnishes simply a very small quota; and this quota, mediocre as a rule, is found almost null in fact, for its main largess consists in six thousand four hundred scholarships which it establishes and engages to support; but it confers only about three thousand of them,1 and it distributes nearly all of these among the children of its military or civil employees, so that the son’s scholarship becomes additional pay or an increased salary for the father; thus, the two millions which the State seems, under this head, to assign to the lycées are actually gratifications which it distributes among its functionaries and officials: it takes back with one hand what it bestows with the other. This being granted, it organizes the University and maintains it, not at its own expense, however, but at the expense of others, at the expense of private persons and parents, of the communes, and above all at the expense of rival schools and private boarding-schools, of the free institutions, and all this in favor of the University monopoly which subjects these to special taxation as ingenious as it is multifarious.2 —Whoever is privileged to carry on a private school must pay from two to three hundred francs to the University; likewise, every person obtaining permission to lecture on literature or on science. Every person or faculty obtaining a diploma for a public institution must pay from four to six hundred francs to the University; likewise every person obtaining permission to lecture on law or on medicine.1 Every student, boarder, half-boarder or day-scholar in any school, institution, seminary, college or lycée, must pay to the University one-twentieth of the sum which the establishment to which he belongs demands of each of its pupils. In the higher schools, in the faculties of law, medicine, science and literature, the students pay entrance and examination fees and for diplomas, so that the day comes when superior instruction provides for its expenditures out of its receipts and even shows on its budget a net surplus of profit. The new University, with its expenses thus defrayed, will support itself alone; accordingly, all that the State really grants to it, as a veritable gift, in ready cash, is four hundred thousand francs annual income on the public ledger, a little less than the dotation of one single collège, Louis-le-Grand, in 1789;2 it may even be said that it is exactly the fortune of the old college which, after being made use of in many ways, turned aside and with other mischances, becomes the patrimony of the new University.3 From high-school to University, the State has effected the transfer. Such is its munificence. This is especially apparent in connection with primary instruction; in 1812, for the first time, it allows twenty-five thousand francs for this purpose, of which only four thousand five hundred are received.4
Such is the final liquidation of the great collective fortunes. A settlement of accounts, an express or tacit bargain, intervenes between the State and all institutions for instruction, worship and charity. It has taken from the poor, from the young and from believers, five milliards of capital and two hundred and seventy millions of revenue;1 it gives back to them, in public income and treasury interest, about seventeen millions per annum. As it possesses the power and makes the law it has no difficulty in obtaining or in giving itself its own discharge; it is a bankrupt who, having spent his creditors’ money, bestows on these six per cent. of their claim by way of alms.
Naturally, it turns to account the opportunity for bringing them under its strict and permanent dependence, in adding other claims to those with which the old monarchy had already burdened the corporations that administered collective fortunes. Napoleon increases the weight of these chains and screws them tighter; not only does he take it upon himself to impose order, probity, and economy on the administrators, but, again, he appoints them, dismisses them, and prescribes or authorizes each of their acts; he puts words in their mouths; he wants to be the great bishop, the universal genius, the sole tutor and professor, in short, the dictator of opinion, the creator and director of every political, social and moral idea throughout his empire. With what rigidity and pertinacious intent, with what variety and convergency of means, with what plenitude and certainty of execution, with what detriment and with what danger, present and to come, for corporations, for the public, for the State, for himself, we shall see presently; he himself, living and reigning, is to realize this. For his interference, pushed to extremes, is to end in encountering resistance in a body which he considers as his own creature, the Church: here, forgetting that she has roots of her own, deep down and out of his reach, he carries off the Pope, holds him captive, sends cardinals into the interior, imprisons bishops, transports priests, and incorporates seminarians in his regiments;1 he decrees the closing of all small seminaries,2 alienates forever the Catholic clergy like the royalist nobility, precisely at the same moment and through the same absolutism, through the same abuse of power, through the same recurrence to revolutionary tradition, to Jacobin infatuation and brutality, even to the frustration of his Concordat of 1802 as with his amnesty of 1802, even to compromising his capital work of the attempted reconciliation and reunion of old France with the new France. His work, nevertheless, although incomplete, even interrupted and marred by himself, remains substantial and salutary. The three grand machines which the Revolution had demolished with so little foresight, and which he had reconstructed at so little cost, are in working order, and, with deviations or shortcomings in result, they render to the public the required services, each its own, worship, charity and instruction. Full toleration and legal protection to the three leading Christian cults, and even to Judaism, would of itself already satisfy the most sensitive of religious demands; owing to the dotation furnished by the State and communes and by private individuals, the necessary complement is not wanting; the Catholic community, in particular, the most numerous of all, exercises and celebrates its system of worship in conformity with its faith, according to ecclesiastical canons under its own orthodox hierarchy; in each parish, or within reach of each parish, dwells one authorized priest who administers valid sacraments; in his stole he says mass publicly in a consecrated edifice, plainly decorated at first but gradually beautified; not less publicly, various congregations of monks and nuns, the former in black robes and the “sisters” in wimples and white caps, serve in the schools and asylums. On the other hand, in these well-equipped and well-governed asylums and hospitals, in the bureaux of charity, their resources are no longer inferior to their needs, while Christian charity and philanthropic generosity are constantly operating in all directions to fill the empty drawers; legacies and private donations, after 1802, authorized by the Council of State, multiply; we see them swelling the pages of the “Bulletin des Lois.”1 From 1800 to 1845, the hospitals and asylums are thus to receive more than seventy-two millions, and the charity bureaux over forty-nine millions; from 1800 to 1878, all together will thus receive more than four hundred and fifteen millions.2 The old patrimony of the poor is again reconstituted piece by piece; and on January 1, 1833, asylums and hospitals, with their fifty-one millions of revenue, are able to support one hundred and fifty-four thousand old men and the sickly.3 —Like public charity, public education again becomes effective; Fourcroy, after 1806,4 enumerates twenty-nine organized and full lycées; besides these, three hundred and seventy communal secondary schools and three hundred and seventy-seven private secondary schools are open and receive fifty thousand two hundred pupils; there are twenty-five thousand children in the four thousand five hundred primary schools. Finally, in 1815,5 we find in France, restored to its ancient boundaries, twelve faculties of Law or Medicine with six thousand three hundred and twenty-nine students, thirty-six lycées with nine thousand pupils, three hundred and sixty-eight colleges with twenty-eight thousand pupils, forty-one small seminaries with five thousand two hundred and thirty-three pupils, one thousand two hundred and fifty-five boarding-schools and private institutions with thirty-nine thousand six hundred and twenty-three pupils, and twenty-two thousand three hundred and forty-eight primary schools with seven hundred and thirty-seven thousand three hundred and sixty-nine scholars; as far as can be gathered, the proportion of men and women able to read and to sign their name is raised under the empire up to and beyond the figures it had reached previous to 1789.1
Thus are the greatest dilapidations repaired. The three new machines, with a different mechanism, do the service of the old ones and, at the expiration of twenty-five years, give an almost equal return.—In sum, the new proprietor of the great structure sacked by the Revolution has again set up the indispensable apparatus for warming, lighting and ventilation; as he knows his own interests perfectly, and is poorly off in ready money, he contributes only a minimum of the expense; in other respects, he has grouped together his tenants into syndicates, into messes in apartments, and, voluntarily or involuntarily, he has put upon them the burden of cost; in the mean time, he has kept the three keys of the three engines in his own cabinet, in his own hands, for himself alone; henceforth, it is he who distributes throughout the building, on each story and in every room, light, air and heat; if he does not distribute the same quantity as formerly he at least distributes whatever is necessary; the tenants can, at length, breathe comfortably, see clearly and not shiver; after ten years of suffocation, darkness and cold they are too well satisfied to wrangle with the proprietor, discuss his ways, and dispute over the monopoly by which he has constituted himself the arbitrator of their wants.—The same thing is done in the material order of things, in relation to the highways, dikes, canals, and structures useful to the people: here also he repairs or creates, through the same despotic initiative, with the same economy,1 the same apportionment of expense,2 the same spontaneous or forced aid to those interested, the same practical efficacy.3 In short, if we take things as a whole, and if we offset the worse with the better, it may be said that the French people have recovered possessions of which they had stood in need since 1789—internal peace, public tranquillity, administrative regularity, impartial justice, a strict police, security of persons, property and consciences, liberty in private life, enjoyment of one’s native land, and, on leaving it, the privilege of coming back; the satisfactory endowment, gratuitous celebration and full exercise of worship; schools and instruction for the young; beds, nursing and assistance for the sick, the indigent and for foundlings; the maintenance of roads and public buildings. Of the two groups of cravings which troubled men in 1800, the first one, that which dated from the Revolution, has, towards 1808 or 1810, obtained reasonable satisfaction.
I. What people craved previous to the Revolution.—Lack of distributive justice.—Wrongs committed in the allotment of social sacrifices and benefits.—Under the Ancient Régime.—During the Revolution.—Napoleon’s personal and public motives in the application of distributive justice.—The circumstances favorable to him.—His principle of apportionment.—He exacts proportion in what he grants.—II. The apportionment of charges.—New fiscal principle and new fiscal machinery.—III. Direct real and personal taxation.—In what respect the new machinery is superior to the old.—Full and quick returns.—Relief to taxpayers.—Greater relief to the poor workman and small farmer.—IV. Other direct taxes.—Tax on business licenses.—Tax on real-estate transactions.—The earnings of manual labor almost exempt from direct taxation.—Compensation on another side.—Indirect taxation.—In what respect the new machinery is superior to the old.—Summary effect of the new fiscal régime.—Increased receipts of the public treasury.—Lighter burdens of the taxpayer.—Change in the condition of the small taxpayer.—V. Military service.—Under the Ancient Régime.—The militia and regular troops.—Number of soldiers.—Quality of the recruits.—Advantages of the institution.—Results of the new system.—The obligation universal.—Comparison between the burdens of citizens and subjects.—The Conscription under Napoleon.—He lightens and then increases its burdensomeness.—What it became after him.—The law of 1818.
The other group, long before 1789, comprises the cravings which survive the Revolution, because the Revolution has not satisfied these, and first, the most tenacious, the most profound, the most inveterate, the most frustrated of all, namely the craving for distributive justice.—In political society, as in every other society, there are burdens and benefits to be allotted, and when the apportionment of these is equitable, it takes place according to a very simple, self-evident principle: it is necessary that for each individual the burdens should be proportionate to the benefits and the benefits to the burdens, so that, for each one, the final expense and the final receipt may exactly compensate each other, the larger or smaller quota of expense being always equal to the larger or smaller quota of benefit. Now, in France, this proportion had been wanting for many centuries; it had even given way to the inverse proportion. If, towards the middle of the eighteenth century, two sum-totals of the budget, material and moral, had been calculated, assets on one side and liabilities on the other, on the one hand the sum of the apportionments exacted by the State, taxes in ready money, enforced labor, military service, civil subordination, every species of obedience and subjection, in short, every sacrifice of leisure, comfort and self-love; on the other hand the sum of dividends distributed by the State of whatever kind or shape, security for persons and property, use and convenience of roads, delegations of public authority and liens on the public treasury, dignities, ranks, grades, honors, lucrative salaries, sinecures, pensions, and the like, that is to say, every gratification belonging to leisure, comfort, or self-love—one might have calculated that the more a man contributed to the receipts the less would his dividend be, and the greater his dividend the less would he furnish to the general contribution. Consequently, every social or local group consisted of two other groups: a majority which suffered for the benefit of the minority, and a minority which benefited at the expense of the majority, to such an extent that the privations of the greatest number defrayed the luxury of the small number, this being the case in all compartments as on every story, owing to the multitude, enormity and diversity of honorific or useful privileges, owing to the legal prerogatives and effective preferences by which the court nobles benefited at the expense of the provincial nobility, the noblesse at the expense of plebeians, prelates and beneficiaries at the expense of poorly-paid curés and vicars, the two highest orders of the clergy at the expense of the third, the bourgeoisie at the expense of the people, the towns at the expense of the rural districts, this or that town or province at the expense of the rest, the artisan member of a corporation at the expense of the free workman, and, in general, the strong, more or less well-to-do, in league and protected, at the expense of the weak, more or less needy, isolated and unprotected (indéfendus).1
One hundred years before the Revolution a few clairvoyant, open-hearted and generous spirits had already been aroused by this scandalous disproportion;2 finally, everybody is shocked by it, for, in each local or social group, nearly everybody is a sufferer, not alone the rustic, the peasant, the artisan, and the plebeian, not alone the citizen, the curé and the bourgeois “notable,” but again the gentleman, the grand seignior, the prelate and the King himself,3 each denouncing the privileges of all others that affect his interests, each striving to diminish another’s share in the public cake and to keep his own, all concurring in citing natural right and in claiming or accepting as a principle liberty and equality, but all concurring in misconception and solely unanimous in destroying and in allowing destruction,4 to such an extent that, at last, the attack being universal and no defence anywhere, social order itself perishes, entirely owing to the abuses of it.
On the reappearance of the same abuses, the lack of distributive justice in revolutionary France became still more apparent than in monarchical France. Through a sudden transposition, the preferred of the former régime had become the disgraced, while the disgraced of the former régime had become the preferred; unjust favor and unjust disfavor still subsisted, but with a change of object. Before 1789, the nation was subject to an oligarchy of nobles and notables; after 1789, it became subject to an oligarchy of Jacobins big or little. Before the Revolution, there were in France three or four hundred thousand privileged individuals, recognizable by their red heels or silver shoe-buckles; after the Revolution, there were three or four hundred thousand of the privileged, recognizable by their red caps or their carmagnoles. Most privileged of all, the three or four thousand verified nobles, presented at court and of racial antiquity, who, by virtue of their parchments, rode in the royal carriages, were succeeded by three or four thousand Jacobins of a fresh sprout, no less verified and accepted, who, by virtue of their civic patent, sat in the club of the rue Saint-Honoré; and the latter coterie was still more dominant, more exclusive, more partial than the former one.—Consequently, before the Revolution, the burden of taxation was light for the rich or the well-to-do, crushing for the peasants or the common people; after the Revolution, on the contrary, the peasants, the common people, paid no more taxes,1 while from the rich and the well-to-do the government took all, not alone their income but their capital.—On the other hand, after having fed the court of Versailles, the public treasury had to feed the rabble of Paris, still more voracious; and, from 1793 to 1796, the maintenance of this rabble cost it twenty-five times as much as, from 1783 to 1786, the maintenance of the court.1 Finally, at Paris as at Versailles, the subordinates who lived on the favored spot, close to the central manger, seized on all they could get and ate much more than their allowance. Under the ancient régime, “the ladies of honor, every time they travel from one royal country-house to another, gain eighty per cent. on the cost of the journey,” while the queen’s first chambermaid gains, over and above her wages, thirty-eight thousand francs a year out of the sales of half-burnt candles.2 Under the new régime, in the distribution of food, “the matadors of the quarter,” the patriots of the revolutionary committees, deduct their portions in advance, and a very ample portion, to the prejudice of the hungry who await their turn, one taking seven rations and another twenty.3 Thus did the iniquity subsist; in suppressing it, they had simply made matters worse; and had they wished to build permanently, now was the time to stop it entirely; for, in every social edifice such a defect puts things out of the perpendicular. Whether the plumb-line deflects right or left is of little consequence; sooner or later the building falls in, and thus had the French edifice already fallen twice, the first time in 1789, through imminent bankruptcy and hatred of the ancient régime, and the second time in 1799, through real bankruptcy and hatred of the Revolution.
An architect like the French Consul is on his guard against a financial, social and moral danger of this sort. He is aware that, in a well-organized society, there must be neither surcharge nor discharge, no favors, no exemptions and no exclusions. Moreover, “l’État c’est lui;”4 thus is the public interest confounded with his personal interest, and, in the management of this double interest, his hands are free. Proprietor and first inhabitant of France in the fashion of its former kings, he is not tied down and incommoded as they were by immemorial precedents, by the concessions they have sanctioned or the rights they have acquired. At the public table over which he presides and which is his table, he does not, like Louis XV. or Louis XVI., encounter messmates already installed there, the heirs or purchasers of the seats they occupy,1 extending in long rows from one end of the room to the other, each in his place according to rank, in an arm-chair, or common chair, or on a footstool, all being the legitimate and recognized owners of their seats, all of them the King’s messmates and all authorized by law, tradition and custom to eat a free dinner or pay for it at less than cost, to find fault with the dishes passed around, to reach out for those not near by, to help themselves to what they want and to carry off the dessert in their pockets. At the new table there are no places secured beforehand. It is Napoleon himself who arranges the table, and on sitting down, he is the master who has invited whomsoever he pleases, who assigns to each his portion, who regulates meals as he thinks best for his own and the common interest, and who introduces into the entire service order, watchfulness and economy. Instead of a prodigal and negligent grand-seignior, here at last is a modern administrator who orders supplies, distributes portions and limits consumption, a contractor who feels his responsibility, a man of business able to calculate. Henceforth, each is to pay for his portion, estimated according to his ration, and each is to enjoy his ration according to his quota.—Judge of this by one example. There must be no more parasites in his house, at the centre of abuses and sinecures. From the grooms and scullions of his palace up to its grand officials, even to the chamberlains and ladies of honor, all his domestics, with or without titles, work and perform their daily tasks in person, administrative or decorative, day or night, at the appointed time, for exact compensation, without pickings or stealings and without waste. His train and his parades, as pompous as under the old monarchy, admit of the same ordinary and extraordinary expenses—stables, chapel, food, hunts, journeys, private theatricals, renewals of plate and furniture, and the maintenance of twelve palaces or châteaux. While, under Louis XV., it was estimated that “coffee with one roll for each lady of honor cost the King 2,000 livres a year,” and under Louis XVI., “the grand broth night and day” which Madame Royale, aged two years, sometimes drank and which figured in the annual accounts at five thousand two hundred and one livres,1 under Napoleon “in the pantries, in the kitchens, the smallest dish, a mere plate of soup, a glass of sugared water, would not have been served without the authorization or check of grand-marshal Duroc. Every abuse is watched; the gains of each are calculated aud regulated beforehand.”2 Consequently, this or that journey to Fontainebleau which had cost Louis XVI. nearly two million livres, cost Napoleon, with the same series of fêtes, only one hundred and fifty thousand francs, while the total expense of his civil household, instead of amounting to twenty-five million livres, remains under three million francs.3 The pomp is thus equal, but the expense is ten times less; the new master is able to derive a tenfold return from persons and money, because he squeezes the full value out of every man he employs and every crown he spends. Nobody has surpassed him in the art of turning money and men to account, and he is as shrewd, as careful, as sharp in procuring them as he is in profiting by them.
To this end, in the assignment of public burdens and of public offices, he applies the maxims of the new system of rights, while his practice conforms to his theory; social order, which, according to the philosophers, is the only just one in itself, happens, singularly, to square with his advantage for the time being; he adds equity because equity is profitable to him.—And first, in the matter of public burdens, there shall be no more exemptions. To relieve any category of taxpayers or of conscripts from taxation or from military service would annually impoverish the treasury by so many millions of crowns, and diminish the army by so many thousands of soldiers. Napoleon is not the man to deprive himself gratuitously of either a soldier or a franc; above all things, he wants his army complete and his treasury full; to supply their deficits he seizes whatever he can lay his hands on, both taxable material as well as recruitable material. But all material is limited; if he took too little on the one hand he would be obliged to take too much on the other; it is impossible to relieve these without oppressing those, and oppression, especially in the matter of taxation, is what, in 1789, excited the universal jacquerie, perverted the Revolution, and broke France to pieces.—At present, in the matter of taxation, distributive justice lays down a universal and fixed law; whatever the property may be, large or small, and of whatever kind or form, whether lands, buildings, indebtedness, ready money, profits, incomes or salaries, it is the State which, through its laws, tribunals, police, gendarmes and army, preserves it from ever-ready aggression within and without; the State guarantees, procures and ensures the enjoyment of it; consequently, property of every species owes the State its premium of assurance, so many centimes on the franc. The quality, the fortune, the age or the sex of the owner is of little importance; each franc assured, no matter in whose hands, must pay the same number of centimes, not one too much, not one too little.—Such is the new principle. To announce it is easy enough; all that is necessary is to combine speculative ideas, and any Academy can do that. The National Assembly of 1789 had proclaimed it with the rattling of drums, but merely as a right and with no practical effect. Napoleon turns it into a reality, and henceforth the ideal rule is applied as strictly as is possible with human material, thanks to two pieces of fiscal machinery of a new type, superior of their kind, and which, compared with those of the ancient régime, or with those of the Revolution, are masterpieces.
The collection of a direct tax is a surgical operation performed on the taxpayer, one which removes a piece of his substance; he suffers on account of this and submits to it only because he is obliged to. If the operation is performed on him by other hands he submits to it voluntarily or not; but, if he has to do it himself, spontaneously and with his own hands, it is not to be thought of. On the other hand, the collection of a direct tax according to the prescriptions of distributive justice, is a subjection of each taxpayer to an amputation proportionate to his bulk or, at least, to his surface; this requires delicate calculation and is not to be entrusted to the patients themselves, for, not only are they surgical novices and poor calculators, but, again, they are interested in calculating falsely. They have been ordered to assess their group with a certain total weight of human substance, and to apportion to each individual in their group the lighter or heavier portion he must provide; consequently, each very soon comprehends that, the more that is cut from the others, the less will be required of him: now, as each is more sensitive to his own suffering, although moderate, than to another’s suffering, even excessive, each, therefore, be his neighbor little or big, is inclined, in order to unjustly diminish his own sacrifice by an ounce, to add a pound unjustly to that of his neighbor.—Up to this time, in the construction of the fiscal machine, nobody knew or had been disposed to take into account such natural and powerful sentiments; through negligence or through optimism, the taxpayer had been introduced into the mechanism in the quality of first agent; before 1789, in the quality of a responsible and constrained agent; after 1789, in the quality of a voluntary and philanthropic agent. Hence, before 1789, the machine had proved mischievous, and after 1789, impotent; before 1789, its working had been almost fatal,1 and after 1789 its returns scarcely amounted to anything.2 Finally, there are independent, special and competent operators, enlightened by local reporters, but withdrawn from local influences, all of them appointed, paid and supported by the central government, forced to act impartially by the appeal of the taxpayer to the council of the prefecture, forced to keep correct accounts by the final auditing of a special court (cour des comptes), interested, through the security they have given as well as by commissions, in the integral recovery of unpaid arrears and in the prompt returns of collected taxes, all, assessors, auditors, directors, inspectors and collectors, being good accountants watched by good accountants, kept to their duties by fear, made aware that embezzlements, lucrative under the Directory,3 are punished under the Consulate,4 soon led to considering necessity a virtue, to priding themselves inwardly on compulsory rectitude, to imagining they had a conscience and hence to acquiring one, in short, to voluntarily imposing on themselves probity and exactitude through amour-propre and honorable scruples.—For the first time in ten years lists of taxes are prepared and their collection begun at the beginning of the year.1 Previous to 1789, the taxpayer was always in arrears, while the treasury received only three-fifths of that which was due in the current year;2 after 1800, direct taxes are nearly always fully returned before the end of the current year, and half a century later, the taxpayers, instead of being in arrears, are often in advance.3 To do this work required, before 1789, about two hundred thousand collectors, besides the administrative corps,4 occupied one half of their time for two successive years in running from door to door, miserable and detested, ruined by their ruinous office, fleecers and the fleeced, and always escorted by bailiffs and constables; since 1800, from five thousand to six thousand collectors, and other fiscal agents, honorable and respected, have only to do their office-work at home and make regular rounds on given days, in order to collect more than double the amount without any vexation and using very little constraint; before 1780, direct taxation brought in about one hundred and seventy millions;5 after the year xi, it brought in three hundred and sixty millions.6 By the same measure, an extraordinary counter-measure, the taxable party, especially the peasant-proprietor, the small indéfendu farmer, the privileged the wrong way, the drudge of the monarchy, is relieved of three-fourths of his immemorial burden.1 At first, through the abolition of tithes and of feudal privileges, he gets back one-quarter of his net income, the quarter which he paid to the seignior and to the clergy; next, through the application of direct taxation to all lands and to all persons, his quota is reduced one-half. Before 1789, he paid over, on one hundred francs net income, fourteen to the seignior, fourteen to the clergy, fifty-three to the State, and kept only eighteen or nineteen for himself; after 1800, he pays nothing out of one hundred francs of income to the seignior or to the clergy; he pays but little to the State, only twenty-one francs to the commune and department, and keeps seventy-nine francs in his pocket.2
If each franc insured pays so many centimes insurance premium, each franc of manual gain and of salary should pay as many centimes as each franc of industrial or commercial gain, also as each franc of personal or land revenue; that is to say, more than one-fifth of a franc, or twenty-one centimes.—At this rate, the workman who lives on his own labor, the day-laborer, the journeyman who earns one franc fifteen centimes per diem and who works three hundred days of the year, ought to pay out of his three hundred and forty-five francs wages sixty-nine francs to the public treasury. At this rate, the ordinary peasant or cultivator of his own field, owner of a cottage and a small tract of ground which he might rent at one hundred francs a year, should pay into the public treasury, out of his land income and from manual labor, eighty-nine francs.1 The deduction, accordingly, on such small earnings would be enormous; for this gain, earned from day to day, is just enough to live on, and very poorly, for a man and his family; were it cut down one-fifth he and his family would be obliged to fast; he would be nothing but a serf or half-serf, made the most of by the exchequer, his seignior and proprietor; for the exchequer, as formerly the proprietary seigniors, would appropriate to itself sixty days of labor out of the three hundred. Such was the condition of many millions of men, the great majority of Frenchmen, under the ancient régime. Indeed, the five direct taxes, the taille, its accessories, the road-tax, the capitatim and the vingtièmes, were a tax on the taxpayer, not only according to the net revenue of his property, if he had any, but again and especially “of his faculties” and presumed resources whatever these might be, comprising his manual earnings or daily wages.—Consequently, “a poor laborer owning nothing,”1 who earned nineteen sous a day, or two hundred and seventy livres a year,2 was taxed eighteen or twenty livres. Out of three hundred days’ work there were twenty or twenty-two which belonged beforehand to the public treasury. Consequently, the taxable man of the rural districts, owner of a few roods of ground which he might let for one hundred livres and which he cultivated himself, was taxed fifty-three livres; thus out of three hundred days of labor, fifty-nine belonged in advance to the exchequer.—Three-fifths3 of the French people were in this situation, and the inevitable consequences of such a fiscal system have been seen—the excess of extortions and of suffering, the spoliation, privations and deep-seated resentment of the humble and the poor. Every government is bound to care for these, if not on the score of humanity, at least through prudential considerations, and this one more than any other, since it is founded on the will of the greatest number, on the repeated votes of majorities counted by heads.
To this end, it establishes two divisions of direct taxation: one, the real-estate tax, which has no bearing on the taxpayer without any property; and the other, the personal tax, which does affect him, but lightly: calculated on the rate of rent, it is insignificant on an attic, furnished lodging, hut or any other hovel belonging to a laborer or peasant; again, when very poor or indigent, if the octroi is burdensome, the exchequer sooner or later relieves them; add to this the poll-tax which takes from them one and a half francs up to four and a half francs per annum, also a very small tax on doors and windows, say sixty centimes per annum in the villages on a tenement with only one door and one window, and, in the towns, from sixty to seventy-five centimes per annum for one room above the second story with but one window.1 In this way, the old tax which was crushing becomes light: instead of paying eighteen or twenty livres for his taille, capitatim and the rest, the journeyman or the artisan with no property pays no more than six or seven francs;2 instead of paying fifty-three livres for his vingtièmes for his poll, real and industrial tax, his capitatim and the rest, the small cultivator and owner pays no more than twenty-one francs. Through this reduction of their fiscal charges (corvée) and through the augmentation of their day wages, poor people, or those badly off, who depended on the hard and steady labor of their hands, the plowmen, masons, carpenters, weavers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights and porters, every hired man and mechanic, in short, all the laborious and tough hands, again became almost free; these formerly owed, out of their three hundred working days, from twenty to fifty-nine to the exchequer; they now owe only from six to nineteen, and thus gain from fourteen to forty free days during which, instead of working for the exchequer, they work for themselves.—The reader may estimate the value to a small household of such an alleviation of the burden of discomfort and care.
This is in favor of the poor, in other words, it is an infraction of the principle of distributive justice: through the almost complete exemption of those who have no property the burden of direct taxation falls almost entirely on those who own property. If they are manufacturers, or in commerce, they support still another burden, that of the license tax, which is a supplementary impost proportioned to their probable gains.1 Finally, to all these annual and extra taxes, levied on the probable or certain income derived from invested or floating capital, the exchequer adds an eventual tax on capital itself, consisting of the mutation tax, assessed on property every time it changes hands through gift, inheritance or by contract, obtaining its title under free donation or by sale, and which tax, aggravated by the timbre,2 is enormous3 since, in most cases, it takes five, seven, nine, and up to ten and one-half per cent on the capital transmitted, that is to say, in the case of real-estate, two, three and even four years’ income from it. Thus, in the first shearing of the sheep the exchequer cuts deep, as deep as possible; but it has sheared only the sheep whose fleece is more or less ample; its scissors have scarcely touched the others, much more numerous, whose wool, short, thin and scant, is maintained only by day-wages, the petty gains of manual labor.—Compensation is to come when the exchequer, resuming its scissors, shears the second time: it is the indirect tax which, although properly levied and properly collected, is, in its nature, more burdensome for the poor than for the rich and well-off.
Through this tax, and owing to the previous operation of its customs-duties, tolls, octrois or monopolies, the State collects a certain percentage on the price of various kinds of merchandise sold. In this way it participates in trade and commerce and itself becomes a merchant. It knows, therefore, like all able merchants, that, to obtain large profits, it must sell large quantities, that it must have a very large body of customers, that the largest body is that which ensures to it and embraces all its subjects, in short, that its customers must consist not only of the rich, who number merely tens of thousands, not only the well-to-do, who number merely hundreds of thousands, but likewise the poor and the half-poor, who number millions and tens of millions. Hence, in the merchandise by the sale of which it is to profit, it takes care to include staple articles which everybody needs, for example, salt, sugar, tobacco and beverages in universal and popular use. This accomplished, let us follow out the consequences, and look in at the shops over the whole surface of the territory, in the towns or in the villages, where these articles are disposed of. Daily and all day long, consumers abound; their large coppers and small change constantly rattle on the counter; and out of every large copper and every small piece of silver the national treasury gets so many centimes: that is its share, and it is very sure of it, for it is already in hand, having received it in advance. At the end of the year, these countless centimes fill its cash-box with millions, as many and more millions than it gathers through direct taxation.
And this second crop causes less trouble than the first one; for the taxpayer who is subject to it has less trouble and likewise the State which collects it.—In the first place, the taxpayer suffers less. In relation to the exchequer, he is no longer a mere debtor, obliged to pay over a particular sum at a particular date; his payments are optional; neither the date nor the sum are fixed; he pays on buying and in proportion to what he buys, that is to say, when he pleases and as little as he wants. He is free to choose his time, to wait until his purse is not so empty; there is nothing to hinder him from thinking before he enters the shop, from counting his coppers and small change, from giving the preference to more urgent expenditure, from reducing his consumption. If he is not a frequenter of the cabaret, his quota, in the hundreds of millions of francs obtained from beverages, is almost nothing; if he does not smoke or snuff, his quota, in the hundreds of millions derived from the tax on tobacco, is nothing at all; because he is economical, prudent, a good provider for his family and capable of self-sacrifice for those belonging to him, he escapes the shearing of the exchequer. Moreover, when he does come under the scissors, these hardly graze his skin; so long as tariff regulations and monopolies levy nothing on articles which are physically indispensable to him, as on bread in France, indirect taxation does not touch his flesh; in general, fiscal or protective duties, especially those which increase the price of tobacco, coffee, sugar, and beverages, do not affect his daily life, but merely deprive him of some of its pleasures and comforts. And, on the other hand, in the collection of these duties, the exchequer may not show its hand; if it does its business properly, the anterior and partial operation is lost sight of in the total operation which completes and covers this up; it screens itself behind the merchant. The shears are invisible to the buyer who presents himself to be sheared; in any event, he has no distinct sensation of them. Now, with the man of the people, the common run of sheep, it is the positive, actual, animal sensation which makes him vociferate, which provokes the violent capers, the rashness, the contagious scare and the general scampering. If he escapes this dangerous sensation he remains tranquil; at the utmost, he grumbles at the hard times; the high prices from which he suffers are not imputed to the government; he does not know how to reckon, check off and consider for himself the surplus price which the fiscal impost extorts from him. Even at the present day, one might tell a peasant in vain that the State takes fifteen out of the forty sous which he pays for a pound of coffee, and five centimes out of every two sous, the cost of a pound of salt; for him, this is simply a barren notion, a vague calculation at random; the impression on his mind would be very different if, standing before the grocer who weighs out his coffee and salt, he saw with his own eyes, right before him, the clerk of the customs and of the salt-tax actually taking the fifteen sous and the five centimes off the counter.
Such are the proper indirect taxes: in order that they may be proper, that is to say, tolerable and tolerated, three conditions, as we see, are requisite. In the first place, the taxpayer, in his own interest, must be free to buy or not to buy the merchandise taxed. Next, in the interest of the taxpayer and of the exchequer, the merchandise must not be so taxed as to be rendered too dear. After that, in the interest of the exchequer, its interference must not be perceptible. Owing to these precautions, indirect taxes can be levied, even on the smaller taxpayers, without either fleecing or irritating them. It is for lack of these precautions before 1789, when people were fleeced in such a bungling manner,1 that, in 1789, they first rebelled against indirect taxation,2 against the meal-tax, the salt-tax, the tax on liquors, the internal tariffs, and the town octrois, against fiscal officers, bureaux and registries, by murdering, pillaging, and burning, beginning in the month of March in Provence and after the 13th of July in Paris, and then throughout France, with such a universal, determined and persistent hostility that the National Assembly, after having vainly attempted to restore the suspended tax-levies and enforce the law on the populace, ended in subjecting the law to the populace and in decreeing the suppression of indirect taxation entirely.1
Such, in the matter of taxation, is the work of the Revolution. Of the two sources which, through their regular afflux, fill the public Treasury, and of which the ancient régime took possession and managed badly, violently, through loose and bungling measures, it has nearly dried up the first one, direct taxation, and completely exhausted the second one, indirect taxation. At present, as the empty Treasury must be filled, the latter must be taken in hand the same as the former, its waters newly gathered in and gently conducted without loss; and the new government sets about this, not like the old one, in a rude, conventional manner, but as an engineer and calculator who knows the ground, its inclination and other obstacles, in short, who comprehends human sensibility and the popular imagination.2 And first there is to be no more farming-out (of the revenues): the State no longer sells its duties on salt or on beverages to a company of speculators, mere contractors, who care for nothing but their temporary lease and annual incomes, solely concerned with coming dividends, bleeding the taxpayer like so many leeches and invited to suck him freely, interested in multiplying affidavits by the fines they get, and creating infractions, authorized by a needy government which, supporting itself on their advances, places the public force at their disposal and surrenders the people to their exactions. Henceforth, the exchequer collects for itself and for its own account; it is the same as a proprietor who, instead of hiring out, improves his property and becomes his own farmer; therefore, it considers the future in its own interest; it limits the receipts of the current year so as not to compromise the receipts of coming years; it avoids ruining the present taxpayer who is also the future taxpayer; it does not indulge in gratuitous chicanery, in expensive lawsuits, in warrants of execution and imprisonment; it is averse to converting a profitable laborer into a mendicant who brings in nothing, or into a prisoner for debt who costs it something. Through this course, the relief is immense; ten years previous to the Revolution,1 it was estimated that, in principal and in accessories, especially in costs of collection and in fines, indirect taxation cost the nation twice as much the king derived from it, that it paid three hundred and seventy-one millions to enable him to receive one hundred and eighty-four millions, that the salt-tax alone took out of the pockets of the taxpayer one hundred millions for forty-five millions deposited in his coffers. Under the new régime, fines became rarer; seizures, executions and sales of personal property still rarer, while the costs of collection, reduced by increasing consumption, are not to exceed one-twentieth instead of one-fifth of the receipts.2 —In the second place, the consumer becomes free again, in law as in fact, not to purchase taxed goods. He is no longer constrained, as formerly, in the provinces subject to high salt-tax, to accept, consume, and pay for duty-salt, seven pounds per head at thirteen sous the pound. Provincial, town or seignorial taxes on the commodity which he cannot do without, on bread, no longer exist; there is no meal-tax, or duty on flour, as in Provence,3 no duties on the sale or of grinding wheat, no impediments to the circulation or commerce of grain. Again, on the other hand, other commodities, besides bread and those which a tax reaches, fall now within range of small means through the lowering of fiscal charges, in the suppression of internal duties, and the abolition of multitudinous tolls. Salt, instead of costing thirteen sous and over, no longer costs more than two sous the pound. A cask of Bordeaux wine no longer pays two hundred livres before it is retailed by the tavern-keeper at Rennes.1 Except in Paris, and even at Paris, so long as the extravagance of municipal expenditure does not increase the octroi, the total tax on wine, cider and beer does not add, even at retail, more than eighteen per cent to their selling price,2 while, throughout France, the vine-grower, or the wine-maker, who gathers in and manufactures his own wine, drinks this and even his brandy, without paying one cent of tax under this heading.3 —Consequently, consumption increases, and, as there are no longer any exempt or half-exempt provinces, no more free salt (franc salé),4 no more privileges arising from birth, condition, profession or residence, the Treasury, with fewer duties, collected or gained as much as before the Revolution: in 1809 and 1810, twenty millions on tobacco, fifty-four millions on salt, one hundred millions on liquors, and then, as the taxpayer became richer and spent more, still larger and larger sums: in 1884, three hundred and five millions on tobacco: in 1885, four hundred and twenty-nine millions on liquors,5 without counting another one hundred millions again raised on liquors through town octrois.—At length, the exchequer, with extreme prudence, keeps out of sight and succeeds in almost saving the taxpayer from contact with, or the presence of, its agents. There is an end to a domestic inquisition. The exciseman no longer pounces in on the housewife to taste the pickle, to find out whether the ham has been cured with bogus salt, to certify that all the dutiable salt has been used in “the pot and the salt-cellar.” The wine-inspector no longer comes suddenly on the wine-grower, or even on the consumer, to gauge his casks, to demand an account of what he drinks, to make an affidavit in case of deficit or over-consumption, to impose a fine should a bottle have been given to a sick person or to a poor one. The fifty thousand customs officers or clerks of the ferme, the twenty-three thousand soldiers without a uniform who, posted in the interior along a line of twelve hundred leagues, guarded the heavily taxed salt districts against the provinces which were less taxed, redeemed or free; the innumerable employés at the barriers, forming a confused and complicated band around each province, town, district or canton, levying on twenty or thirty different sorts of merchandise; forty-five principal duties, general, provincial, or municipal, and nearly sixteen hundred tolls, in short, the entire body of officials of the old system of indirect taxation has almost wholly disappeared. Save at the entrance of towns, and for the octroi, the eye no longer encounters an official clerk; the carters who, from Roussillon or Languedoc, transport a cask of wine to Paris, are no longer subject to his levies, vexations and convenience in twenty different places, nor to impute to him the dozen or fifteen days’ useless extension of their trip due to his predecessor, and during which they had to wait in his office until he wrote a receipt or a permit; there is scarcely any one now but the inn-keeper who sees his green uniform on his premises; after the abolition of the house-inventory, nearly two millions of proprietors and wine métayers are forever free of his visits;1 thenceforth, for consumers especially the people, he is absent and seems a nullity. In effect, he has been transferred one or two hundred leagues off, to the salt-establishments in the interior and on the coasts, and on the frontier. There only is the system at fault, nakedly exposing its vice,—a war against exchanges, the proscription of international commerce, prohibition pushed to extreme, the continental blockade, an inquisition of twenty-thousand customs officials, the hostility of one hundred thousand defrauders, the brutal destruction of seized goods, an augmentation in price of one hundred per cent on cottons and four hundred per cent on sugar, a dearth of colonial articles, privation to the consumer, the ruin of the manufacturer and trader, and accumulated failures one on top of the other in 1811 in all the large towns from Hamburg to Rome.1 This vice, however, belongs to the militant policy and personal character of the master; the error that vitiates the external side of his fiscal system does not reach the internal side. After him, under pacific reigns, it is gradually modified; prohibition gives way to protection and then changes from excessive protection to limited protection. Inside, along with secondary improvements and partial amendments, the course marked out by the Consulate and the Empire is to be obtained; this course, in all its main lines, is clearly traced, straight, and yet adapted to all things, by the plurality, establishment, distribution, rate of taxation and returns of the various direct and indirect taxes, nearly in conformity with the new principles of political economy, as well as in conformity with the ancient maxims of distributive justice, carefully directed between the two important interests that have to be cared for, between the interest of the taxpayer and the interest of the State which collects taxes.
Consider, in effect, what both gain.—In 1789, the State had a revenue of only four hundred and seventy-five millions; afterwards, during the Revolution, it scarcely collected any of its revenues; it lived on the capital it stole, like a genuine brigand, or on the debts it contracted, like a dishonest and insolvent bankrupt. Under the Consulate and during the first years of the Empire, its revenue amounts to seven hundred and fifty or eight hundred millions, its subjects being no longer robbed of their capital, while it no longer runs in debt.—In 1789, the ordinary taxpayer paid a direct tax to his three former or late sovereigns, namely, to the King, the clergy and the seigniors, more than three-quarters of his net income. After 1800, he pays to the State less than one-quarter, the one sovereign alone who replaces the other three. We have seen how relief came to the old taxable subject, to the rustic, to the small proprietor, to the man without any property, who lived on the labor of his own hands; the lightening of the direct tax restored to him from fourteen to forty free days, during which, instead of working for the exchequer, he worked for himself. If married, and the father of two children over seven years of age, the alleviation of one direct tax alone, that of the salt-tax, again restores to him twelve days more, in all from one to two complete months each year during which he is no longer, as formerly, a man doing statute-work, but the free proprietor, the absolute master of his time and of his own hands.—At the same time, through the re-casting of other taxes and owing to the increasing price of labor, his physical privations decrease. He is no longer reduced to consuming only the refuse of his crop, the wheat of poor quality, the damaged rye, the badly-bolted flour mixed with bran, nor to drink water poured over the lees of his grapes, nor to sell his pigs before Christmas because the salt he needs is too dear.1 He salts his pork and eats it, and likewise butcher’s meat; he enjoys his boiled beef and broth on Sunday; he drinks wine; his bread is more nutritious, not so black and healthier; he no longer lacks it and has no fear of lacking it. Formerly, he entertained a lugubrious phantom, the fatal image of famine which haunted him day and night for centuries, an almost periodical famine under the monarchy, a chronic famine and then severe and excruciating during the Revolution, a famine which, under the republic, had in three years destroyed over a million of lives.2 The immemorial spectre recedes and vanishes; after two accidental and local recurrences, in 1812 and 1817, it never again appears in France.3
One tax remains, and the last, that by which the State takes, no longer money, but the person himself, the entire man, soul and body, and for the best years of his life, namely military service. It is the Revolution which has rendered this so burdensome; formerly, it was light, for, in principle, it was voluntary. The militia, alone, was raised by force, and, in general, among the country people; the peasants furnished men for it by casting lots.1 But it was simply a supplement to the active army, a territorial and provincial reserve, a distinct, sedentary body of reinforcements and of inferior rank which, except in case of war, never marched; it turned out but nine days of the year, and, after 1778, never turned out again. In 1789, it comprised in all seventy-five thousand two hundred and sixty men, and for eleven years their names, inscribed on the registers, alone constituted their presence in the ranks.2 There were no other conscripts under the monarchy; in this matter, its exactions were not great, ten times less than those of the Republic and of the Empire, since both the Republic and the Empire, using the same constraint, were to levy more than ten times the number of drafted men or conscripts.3
Alongside of this militia body, the entire army properly so called, the “regular” troops were, under, the ancient régime, all recruited by free enlistment, not only the twenty-five foreign regiments, Swiss, Irish, Germans, and Liégeois, but again the hundred and forty-five French regiments, one hundred and seventy-seven thousand men.1 The enlistment, indeed, was not free enough; frequently, through the manœuvres of the recruiting-agent, it was tainted with inveigling and surprises, and sometimes with fraud or violence; but, owing to the remonstrances due to the prevailing philanthropic spirit, these abuses had diminished; the law of 1788 had suppressed the most serious of them and, even with its abuses, the institution had two great advantages.—The army, in the first place, served as an issue: through it the social body purged itself of its bad humors, of its overheated or vitiated blood. At this date, although the profession of soldier was one of the lowest and least esteemed, a barren career, without promotion and almost without escape, a recruit was obtainable for about one hundred francs bounty and a “tip”; add to this two or three days and nights of revel in the grog-shop, which indicates the kind and quality of the recruits; in fact, very few could be obtained except among men more or less disqualified for civil and domestic life, incapable of spontaneous discipline and of steady labor, adventurers and outcasts, half-savage or half-blackguard, some of them sons of respectable parents thrown into the army in an angry fit, and others again, regular vagabonds picked up in beggars’ haunts, mostly stray workmen and loafers, in short, “the most debauched, the most hot-brained, the most turbulent people in an ardent, turbulent and somewhat debauched community.”1 In this way, the anti-social class was utilized for the public good. Let the reader imagine an ill-kept domain overrun by a lot of stray curs that might prove dangerous: they are enticed and caught; a collar, with a chain attached to it, is put on their necks and they become good watch-dogs. In the second place, this institution preserved to the subject the first and most precious of all liberties, the full possession and the unrestricted management of one’s own person, the complete mastery of body and being; this was assured to him, guaranteed to him against the encroachments of the State; better guaranteed than by the wisest constitution, for the institution was a recognized custom accepted by every body; in other words, a tacit, immemorial convention,2 between the subject and the State, proclaiming that, if the State had a right to draw on purses it had no right to draft persons: in reality and in fact, the King, in his principal function, was merely a contractor like any other; he undertook natural defence and public security the same as others undertook cleaning the streets or the maintenance of a dike; it was his business to hire military workmen as they hired their civil workmen, by mutual agreement, at an understood price and at current market rates. Accordingly, the sub-contractors with whom he treated, the colonel and captains of each regiment, were subject as he was to the law of supply and demand; he allowed them so much for each recruit,3 to replace those dropped out, and they agreed to keep their companies full. They were obliged to procure men at their own risk and at their own expense, while the recruiting-agent whom they despatched with a bag of money among the taverns, enlisted artillerymen, horsemen or foot-soldiers, after bargaining with them, the same as one would hire men to sweep or pave the streets and to clean the sewers.
Against this practice and this principle comes the theory of the Contrat-Social. It declares that the people are sovereign. Now, in this divided Europe, where a conflict between rival States is always imminent, sovereigns are military men; they are such by birth, education, and profession, and by necessity; the title carries along with it and involves the function. Consequently, the subject, in assuming their rights, imposes upon himself their duties; in his quota (of responsibility) he, in his turn, is sovereign; but, in his turn and in his person, he is a soldier.1 Henceforth, if he is born an elector, he is born a conscript; he has contracted an obligation of a new species and of infinite reach; the State, which formerly had a claim only on his possessions, now has one on his entire body; never does a creditor let his claims rest and the State always finds reasons or pretexts to enforce its claims. Under the threats or trials of invasion the people, at first, had consented to pay this one; they regarded it as accidental and temporary. After victory and when peace came, its government continues to enforce the claim; it becomes settled and permanent. After the treaties of Luneville and Amiens, Napoleon maintains it in France; after the treaties of Paris and Vienna, the Prussian government is to maintain it in Prussia. One war after another and the institution becomes worse and worse; like a contagion, it has spread from State to State; at the present time, it has overspread the whole of continental Europe and here it reigns along with its natural companion which always precedes or follows it, its twin-brother, universal suffrage, each more or less conspicuously “trotted out” and dragging the other along, more or less incomplete and disguised, both being the blind and formidable leaders or regulators of future history: one thrusting a ballot into the hands of every adult, and the other putting a soldier’s knapsack on every adult’s back: with what promises of massacre and bankruptcy for the twentieth century, with what exasperation of international rancor and distrust, with what waste of human labor, through what perversion of productive discoveries, through what perfection of destructive appliances, through what a recoil to the lower and most unwholesome forms of old militant societies, through what retrograde steps towards brutal and selfish instincts, towards the sentiments, habits and morality of the antique city and of the barbarous tribe—we know and more beside. It is sufficient for us to place the two military systems face to face, that of former times and that of to-day: formerly, in Europe, a few soldiers, some hundreds of thousands; to-day, in Europe, eighteen millions of actual or eventual soldiers, all the adults, even the married, even fathers of families summoned or subject to call for twenty-five years of their life, that is to say, as long as they continue able-bodied men; formerly, for the heaviest part of the service in France, no lives are confiscated by decree, only those bought by contract, and lives suited to this business and elsewhere idle or mischievous; about one hundred and fifty thousand lives of inferior quality, of mediocre value, which the State could expend with less regret than others, and the sacrifice of which is not a serious injury to society or to civilization. To-day, for the same service in France, four millions of lives are taken by authority, and, if they attempt to escape, taken by force; all of them, from the twentieth year onward, employed in the same manual and murderous pursuit, including the least suited to the purpose and the best adapted to other purposes, including the most inventive and the most fecund, the most delicate and the most cultivated, those remarkable for superior talent who are of almost infinite social value, and whose forced collapse, or precocious end, is a calamity for the human species.
Such is the terminal fruit of the new régime; military duty is here the counterpart, and as it were, the ransom of political right; the modern citizen may balance one with the other like two weights in the scale. On the one side, he may place his prerogative as sovereign, that is to say, in point of fact, the faculty every four years of giving one vote among ten thousand for the election or non-election of one deputy among six hundred and fifty; on the other side, he may place his positive, active service, three, four or five years of barrack life and of passive obedience, and then twenty-eight days more, then a thirteen-days’ summons in honor of the flag, and, for twenty years, at each rumor of war, anxiously waiting for the word of command which obliges him to shoulder his gun and slay with his own hand, or be slain. He will probably end by discovering that the two sides of the scales do not balance and that a right so hollow is poor compensation for so heavy a burden.
Of course, in 1789, he foresaw nothing like that; he was optimistic, pacific, liberal, humanitarian; he knew nothing of Europe nor of history, nothing of the past nor of the present; when the Constituent Assembly constituted him a sovereign, he let things go on; he did not know what he engaged to do, he had no idea of having allowed such a heavy claim against him. But, in signing the social contract, he made himself responsible; in 1793, the note came due and the Convention collected it;1 and then comes Napoleon who put things in order. Henceforth, every male, able-bodied adult must pay the debt of blood; no more exemptions in the way of military service:1 all young men who had reached the required age drew lots in the conscription and set out in turn according to the order fixed by their drafted number.2 But Napoleon is an intelligent creditor; he knows that this debt is “most frightful and most detestable for families,” that his debtors are real, living men and therefore different in kind, that the head of the State should keep these differences in mind, that is to say their condition, their education, their sensibility and their vocation; that, not only in their private interest, but again in the interest of the public, not merely through prudence but also through equity, all should not be indistinguishably restricted to the same mechanical pursuit, to the same manual labor, to the same prolonged and indefinite servitude of soul and body. Already, under the Directory, the law had exempted young married men and widowers or divorced persons who were fathers;1 Napoleon also exempts the conscript who has a brother in the active army, the only son of a widow, the eldest of three orphans, the son of a father seventy-one years old dependent on his labor, all of whom are family supports.2 He joins with these all young men who enlist in one of his civil militias, in his ecclesiastical militia or in his university militia, pupils of the École Normale, ignorantin brothers, seminarians for the priesthood, on condition that they shall engage to do service in their vocation and do it effectively, some for ten years, others for life, subject to a discipline more rigid, or nearly as rigid, as military discipline.3 Finally, he sanctions or institutes volunteer substitutes, through private agreement between a conscript and the able-bodied, certified volunteer substitute for whom the conscript is responsible.4 If such a bargain is made between them it is done freely, knowing what they are about, and because each man finds the exchange to his advantage; the State has no right to deprive either of them uselessly of this advantage, and oppose an exchange by which it does not suffer. So far from suffering it often gains by it. For, what it needs is not this or that man, Peter or Paul, but a man as capable as Peter or Paul of firing a gun, of marching long distances, of resisting inclemencies, and such are the substitutes it accepts. They must all be5 “of sound health and robust constitution,” and sufficiently tall; as a matter of fact, being poorer than those replaced, they are more accustomed to privation and fatigue; most of them, having reached maturity, are worth more for the service than youths who have been recruited by anticipation and too young; some are old soldiers: and in this case the substitute is worth twice as much as the new conscript who has never donned the knapsack or bivouacked in the open air. Consequently, those who are allowed to obtain substitutes are “the drafted and conscripts of all classes, . . . unable to endure the fatigues of war, and those who shall be recognized of greater use to the State by continuing their labors and studies than in forming a part of the army. . . ”1
Napoleon had too much sense to be led by the blind existences of democratic formulæ; his eyes, which penetrated beyond mere words, at once perceived that the condition of a simple soldier, between a young man well brought up and a peasant or day-laborer, is unequal, that a tolerable bed, sufficient clothing, good shoes, certainty of daily bread, a piece of meat regularly, are novelties for the latter but not for the former, and, consequently, enjoyments; that the promiscuity and odor of the barrack chamber, the corporal’s cursing and swearing and rude orders, the mess-dish and camp-bread, physical hardships all day and every other day, are for the former, but not for the latter, novelties and, consequently, sufferings; from which it follows that, if literal equality is applied, positive inequality is established, and that by virtue even of the new creed, it is necessary, in the name of true equality as in the name of true liberty, to allow the former, who would suffer most, to treat fairly and squarely with the latter, who will suffer less. And all the more because, by this arrangement, the civil staff preserves for itself its future recruits; it is from nineteen to twenty-six that the future chiefs and under-chiefs of the great work of peaceful and fruitful labor, the savants, artists or scholars, the jurisconsults, engineers or physicians, the enterprising men of commerce or of industry, receive and undertake for themselves a special and superior education, discover or acquire their leading ideas, and elaborate their originality or their competency; if talent is to be deprived of these productive years their growth is arrested in full vegetation, and civil capacities, not less precious for the State than military capacities, are rendered abortive.1 —Towards 1804,2 owing to substitution, one conscript out of five in the rural districts, one conscript out of seven in the towns, and, on the average, one conscript out of ten in France, escapes this forced abortive condition; in 1806, the price of a substitute varies from eighteen hundred to four thousand francs,3 and as capital is scarce, and ready money still more so, a sum like this is sufficiently large. Accordingly, it is the rich or well-to-do class, in other words the more or less cultivated class, which buys off its sons: reliance may be placed on their giving them more or less complete culture. In this way, it prevents the State from mowing down all its sprouting wheat and preserves a nursery of subjects among which society is to find its future élite.—Thus attenuated, the military law is still rigid enough: nevertheless it remains endurable; it is only towards 18074 that it becomes monstrous and grows worse and worse from year to year until it becomes the sepulchre of all French youth, even to taking the adolescent under age as food for powder, and men already exempt or free by purchase. But, as before these excesses, it may still be maintained with certain modifications; it suffices almost to retouch it, to establish exemptions and the privilege of substitution as rights, which were once simply favors,1 reduce the annual contingent, limit the term of service, guarantee their lasting freedom to those liberated, and thus secure in 1818 a recruiting law satisfactory and efficacious which, for more than half a century, will attain its ends without being too detrimental or too odious, and which, among so many laws of the same sort, all mischievous, is perhaps the least pernicious.
I. The assignment of right.—Those out of favor and the preferred under former governments.—Under the Ancient Régime.—During the Revolution.—French conception of Equality and Rights.—Its ingredients and its excesses.—The satisfaction it obtains under the new régime.—Abolition of legal incapacities and equality in the possession of rights.—Confiscation of collective action and equality in the deprivation of rights.—Careers in the modern State.—Equal right of all to offices and to promotion.—Napoleon’s distribution of employments.—His staff of officials recruited from all classes and parties.—II. The need of success.—Initiation and conditions of promotion under the old monarchy.—Effect on minds.—Ambitions are limited.—The external outlets open to them.—The Revolution provides an internal outlet and an unlimited career.—Effect of this.—Exigencies and pretensions of the modern man.—Theoretical rule of selection among rivals.—Popular suffrage erected into judicial arbitrament.—Consequence of its verdict.—Unworthiness of its choice.—III. Napoleon as judge of competition.—Security of his seat.—Independence of his decisions.—Suppression of former influences and end of monarchical or democratic intrigues.—Other influences against which he is on guard.—His favorite rule.—Estimate of candidates according to the kind and amount of their useful labor.—His own competency.—His perspicacity.—His vigilance.—Zeal and labor of his functionaries.—Result of competition thus viewed and of functions thus exercised.—Talents utilized and jealousies disarmed.—IV. Competitions and prizes.—Multitude of offices.—How their number is increased by the extension of central patronage and of the French territory.—Situation of a Frenchman abroad.—It gives him rank.—Rapidity of promotion.—Constant elimination and multiplicity of vacancies in the army.—Preliminary elimination in the civil service.—Proscription of cultivated men and interruption of education during the Revolution.—General or special instruction rare in 1800.—Small number of competent candidates.—Easy promotion due to the lack of competitors.—Importance and attraction of the prizes offered.—The Legion of Honor.—The imperial nobility.—Dotations and majorities.—Emulation.—V. The inward spring from 1789 to 1815.—Its force.—Its decline.—How it ends in breaking the machine down.
Now that the State has just made a new allotment of the burdens and duties which it imposes it must make a new assignment of the rights and benefits it confers.—Distributive justice, on both sides, long before 1789, was defective, and, under the monarchy, exclusions had become as obnoxious as exemptions; all the more because, through a double iniquity, the ancient régime in each group distinguished two other groups, one to which it granted every exemption, and the other which it made subject to every exclusion. The reason is that, from the first, the king, in the formation and government of the kingdom, in order to secure the services, money, collaboration or connivance which he needed, was obliged to negotiate always with corporations, orders, provinces, seignories, the clergy, churches, monasteries, universities, parliaments, professional bodies or industrial guilds and families, that is to say with constituted powers, more or less difficult to bring under subjection and which, to be kept in subjection, stipulated conditions. Hence, in France, so many different conditions: each distinct body had yielded through one or several distinct capitulations and possessed its own separate statute. Hence, again, such diversely unequal conditions the bodies, the best able to protect themselves, had, of course, defended themselves the best, and their statutes, written or unwritten, guaranteed to them precious privileges which the other bodies, much weaker, could neither acquire nor preserve, not merely immunities but likewise prerogatives, not alone alleviations of taxation and militia dispensations, but likewise political and administrative liberties, remnants of their primitive sovereignty, with many other positive advantages, the very least being precedences, preferences, social priority, with an incontestable right to rank, honors, offices, and favors. Such, notably, were the provinces possessing their own government (pays a’états), compared with those which elected the magistrates who apportioned taxation (pays d’élection),1 the two highest orders, the clergy and the nobles, compared with the third-estate, and the bourgeoisie, and the town corporations compared with the rest of the inhabitants. On the other hand, opposed to these historical favorites were the historical disinherited, the latter much more numerous and counting by millions—the taxable commons, all subjects without rank or quality, in short, the ordinary run of men, especially the common herd of the towns and particularly of the country, all the more ground down on account of their lower status, along with the Jews lower yet, a sort of foreign class scarcely tolerated, with the Calvinists, not only deprived of the humblest rights but, again, persecuted by the State for the past one hundred years.
All these people, who have been transported far outside of civic relationships by historic right, are brought back, in 1789, by philosophic right. After the declarations of the Constituent Assembly, there are no longer in France either Bretons, Provençals, Burgundians or Alsatians, Catholics, Protestants or Israelites, nobles or plebeians, bourgeois or rustics, but simply Frenchmen, all with the one title of citizens, all endowed with the same civil, religious and political rights, all equal before the State, all introduced by law into every career, collectively, on an equal footing and without fear or favor from anybody; all free to follow this out to the end without distinction of rank, birth, faith or fortune; all, if they are good runners, to receive the highest prizes at the end of the race, any office or rank, especially the leading honors and positions which, thus far reserved to a class or coterie, had not been allowed previously to the great multitude. Henceforth, all Frenchmen, in theory, enjoy rights in common; unfortunately, there is only the theory. In reality, in all state relationships (dans la cité), the new-comers appropriate to themselves the offices, the pretensions, and more than the privileges of their predecessors; the latter, consisting of large and small land-owners, gentlemen, parliamentarians, officials, ecclesiastics, notables of every kind and degree, are immediately deprived of the rights of man. Surrendered to rural iacqueries and to town mobs, they undergo, first, the abandonment and, next, the hostility of the State: the public gendarme has ceased to protect them and refuses his services; afterwards, on becoming a Jacobin, he declares himself their enemy, treats them as enemies, plunders them, imprisons them, murders them, expels or transports them, inflicts on them civil death, and shoots them if they dare return; he deprives their friends or kindred who remain in France of their civil rights; he deprives the nobles or the ennobled of their quality as Frenchmen, and compels them to naturalize themselves afresh according to prescribed formalities; he renews against the Catholics the interdictions, persecutions and brutalities which the old government had practised against the Calvinist minority.—Thus, in 1799 as in 1789, there are two classes of Frenchmen, two kinds of unequal men, the first one superior, installed in the civic fold, and the second, inferior and excluded from it; only, in 1799, the greatest inequality consigned the inferior and excluded class to a still lower, more remote, and much worse condition.
The principle, nevertheless, subsists; since 1789 it is inscribed at the top of every constitution; it is still proclaimed in the new constitution. It has remained popular, although perverted and disfigured by the Jacobins; their false and gross interpretation of it could not bring it into discredit; athwart the hideous grotesque caricature, all minds and sentiments ever recur to the ideal form of the cité, to the veritable social contract, to the impartial, active, and permanent reign of distributive justice. Their entire education, all the literature, philosophy and culture of the eighteenth century, leads them onward to this conception of society and of rights; more profoundly still, they are predisposed to it by the inner structure of their intelligence, by the original cast of their sensibility, by the hereditary defects and qualities of their nature and of their race.—The Frenchman easily and quickly grasps some general trait of objects and persons, some characteristic in common; here, this characteristic is the inherent quality of man which he dexterously makes prominent, clearly isolates, and then, stepping along briskly and confidently, rushes ahead on the high-road to consequences.1 He has forgotten that his summary notion merely corresponds to an extract, and a very brief one, of man in his completeness; his decisive, precipitate process hinders him from seeing the largest portion of the real individual; he has overlooked numerous traits, the most important and most efficacious, those which geography, history, habit, condition, manual labor, or a liberal education, stamp on intellect, soul and body and which, through their differences, constitute different local or social groups. Not only does he overlook all these characteristics, but he sets them aside; they are too numerous and too complex; they would interfere with and disturb his thoughts; however fitted for clear and comprehensive logic he is so much the less fitted for complex and comprehensive ideas; consequently, he avoids them and, through an innate operation of which he is unconscious, he involuntarily condenses, simplifies and curtails; henceforth, his idea, partial and superficial as it is, seems to him adequate and complete; in his eyes the abstract quality of man takes precedence of and absorbs all others; not only has this a value, but the sole value. One man, therefore, is as good as another and the law should treat all alike.—Here, amour-propre, so vivacious in France, and so readily excited, comes in to interpret and apply the formula.2 Since all men equal each other, I am as good as any man; if the law confers a right on people of this or that condition, fortune or birth, it must confer the same right on me. Every door that is open to them must be open to me; every door that is closed to me must be closed to them. Otherwise, I am treated as an inferior and wounded in my deepest feelings. When the legislator places a ballot in their hands he is bound to place another just like it in my hands, even if they know how to use it and I do not, even if a limited suffrage is of use to the community and universal suffrage is not. So much the worse if I am sovereign only in name, and through the imagination; I consent to my sovereignty being illusory, but with the understanding that the sovereignty of others is regarded likewise; so I prefer servitude and privation for all, rather than liberties and advantages for a few, and, provided the same level is passed over all heads, I submit to the yoke for all heads, including my own.”
Such is the internal composition of the instinct of equality, and such is the natural instinct of Frenchmen. It is beneficial or mischievous according as one or the other of its ingredients predominates, at one time the noble sentiment of equity and at another time the low envy of foolish vanity;1 healthy or unhealthy, however, its power in France is enormous, and the new régime gratifies it in every possible way, good or bad. No more legal disqualifications! On the one hand, the republican laws of proscription or of exception were all repealed: we have seen an amnesty and the return of the émigres, the Concordat, the restoration of Catholic worship, the compulsory reconciliation of the constitutionalists with the orthodox; the First Consul admits no difference between them; his new clergy are recruited from both groups and, in this respect, he forces the Pope to yield.2 He gives twelve of the sixty episcopal thrones to former schismatics; he wants them to take their places boldly; he relieves them from ecclesiastical penitence and from any humiliating recantation; he takes care that, in the other forty-eight dioceses, the priests who formerly took the civic oath shall be employed and well treated by their superiors who, at the same epoch, refused to take the civic oath. On the other hand, all the exclusions, inequalities and distinctions of the monarchy remain abolished. Not only are the Calvinist and even Israelite cults legally authorized, the same as the Catholic cult, but, again, the Protestant consistories and Jewish synagogues1 are constituted and organized on the same footing as the Catholic churches; pastors and rabbis likewise become functionaries under the same title as bishops and curés; all are recognized or sanctioned by the government and all equally benefit by its patronage: it is an unique thing in Europe to find the small churches of the minority obtaining the same measure of indifference and good will from the State as the great church of the majority, and, henceforth, in fact as in law, the ministers of the three cults, formerly ignored, tolerated or proscribed, enjoy their rank, titles and honors in the social as well as in the legal hierarchy, equally with the ministers of that cult which was once the only one dominant or allowed.
In like manner, in the civil order of things, no inferiority or discredit must legally attach to any condition whatever, either to plebeian, villager, peasant or poor man as such, as formerly under the monarchy; nor to noble, bourgeois, citizen, notable or rich man, as recently under the Republic; each of these two classes is relieved of its degradation; no class is burdened by taxation or by the conscription beyond its due; all persons and all property find in the government, in the administration, in the tribunals, in the gendarme, the same reliable protection,—all of which stands for equity and the true spirit of equality.—We have now to consider equality in a bad and envious spirit. The plébiscite, undoubtedly, as well as the election of deputies to the Corps Legislatif are simply comedies; but, in these comedies, one rôle is as good as another and the duke of the old or new pattern, a mere figurant among hundreds and thousands of others, votes only once like the corner-grocer. Undoubtedly, the private individual of the commune or department, in institutions of charity, worship or education, is deprived of any independence, of any initiation, of any control, as the State has confiscated for itself all collective action; but the classes deprived of this are especially the upper classes, alone sufficiently enlightened and wealthy to take the lead, form projects and provide for expenditure: in this usurpation, the State has encroached upon and eaten deeper into the large body of superior existences scattered about than into the limited circle where humbler lives clamber and crawl along; nearly the entire loss, all perceptible privation, is for the large landed proprietor and not for his hired hands, for the large manufacturer or city merchant and not for their workmen or clerks,1 while the clerk, the workman, the journeyman, the handicraftsman, who grumble at being the groundlings, find themselves less badly off since their masters or patrons, fallen from a higher point, are where they are and they can elbow them.
Now that men are born on the ground, all on the same level, and are confined within universal and uniform limits, social life no longer appears to them other than a competition, a rivalry instituted and proclaimed by the State, and of which it is the umpire; for, through its interference, all are comprised within its enclosure and shut up and kept there; no other field is open to run on; on the contrary, every career within these bounds, indicated and staked out beforehand, offers an opportunity for all runners: the government has laid out and levelled the ground, established compartments, divided off and prepared rectilinear lists which converge to the goal; there, it presides, the unique arbiter of the race, exposing to all competitors the innumerable prizes which it proposes for them.—These prizes consist of offices, the various employments of the State, political, military, ecclesiastical, judiciary, administrative and university, all the honors and dignities which it dispenses, all the grades of its hierarchy from the lowest to the highest, from that of corporal, college-regent, alderman, office-supernumerary, assistant priest up to that of senator, marshal of France, grand master of the university, cardinal, and minister of State. It confers on its possessor, according to the greater or lesser importance of the place, a greater or lesser portion of the advantages which all men crave and seek for—money, power, patronage, influence, consideration, importance and social pre-eminence; thus, according to the rank one attains in the hierarchy, one is something, or of some account; outside of the hierarchy, one is nothing.
Consequently, the faculty for getting in and advancing one’s self in these lists is the most precious of all; in the new régime it is guaranteed by the law as a common right and is open to all Frenchmen. As no other outlet for them is allowed by the State it owes them this one; since it invites them and reduces everybody to competing under its direction it is bound to be an impartial arbiter; since the quality of citizen, in itself and through it alone, confers the right to make one’s way, all citizens indifferently must enjoy the right of succeeding in any employment, the very highest, and without any distinction as to birth, fortune, cult or party. There must be no more preliminary exclusions, no more gratuitous preferences, undeserved favors, anticipated promotions, no more undue partiality. Such is the rule of the modern State: constituted as it is, that is to say, monopolizer and omnipresent, it cannot violate this rule for any length of time with impunity. In France, at least, the good and bad spirits of equality agree in exacting adherence to it: on this point, the French are unanimous; no article of their social code is more cherished by them; this one flatters their amour-propre and tickles their imagination; it exalts hope, nourishes illusion, intensifies the energy and enjoyment of life. Thus far, the principle has remained inert, powerless, held in suspension in the air, in the great void of speculative declarations and of constitutional promises; Napoleon brings it down to the ground and renders it practical; that which the assemblies had decreed in vain for ten years he brings about for the first time and in his own interest. To exclude a class or category of men from offices and promotion would be equivalent to depriving one’s self gratuitously of all the talents it contains, and, moreover, to incurring, besides the inevitable rancor of these frustrated talents, the sullen and lasting discontent of the entire class or category. The First Consul would do himself a wrong were he to curb his right to choose: he needs every available capacity, and he takes them where he finds them, to the right, to the left, above or below, in order to keep his regiments full and enroll in his service every legitimate ambition and every justifiable pretension.
Under the monarchy, an obscure birth debarred even the best endowed men from the principal offices: under the Consulate and the Empire the two leading personages of the State are Maupeou’s old secretary, a fecund translator,1 formerly councillor in a provincial court of justice, Lebrun and Cambacérès, one, third-consul, then Duc de Plaisance and arch-chancellor of the Empire, and the other, second-consul, then Duc de Parme and arch-chancellor of the Empire, both of them being princes; similarly, the marshals are new men and soldiers of fortune, a few of them born in the class of inferior nobles or in the ordinary bourgeois class, mostly among the people or even amongst the populace, and, in its lowest ranks, Masséna, the son of a wine-dealer, once a cabin-boy and then common soldier and non-commissioned officer for fourteen years; Ney, son of a cooper, Lefebvre, son of a miller, Murat, son of a tavern-keeper, Lannes, son of an ostler, and Augereau, son of a mason and a female dealer in fruit and vegetables.—Under the Republic, noble birth consigned, or confined, the ablest and best qualified men for their posts to a voluntary obscurity, only too glad when their names did not condemn them to exile, imprisonment or to the guillotine. Under the Empire, M. de Talleyrand is prince of Benevento, minister of foreign affairs and vice-grand-elector with a salary of five hundred thousand francs. We see personages of old race figuring in the first ranks: among the clergy M. de Roquelaure, M. de Boisdgelin, M. de Broglie, M. Ferdinand de Rohan; in the magistracy, M. Séguier, M. Pasquier, M. Molé; on the domestic and decorative staff of the palace, Comte de Ségur, grand-master of ceremonies, Comte de Montesquiou-Fézensac, grand-chamberlain, also as chamberlains, Comtes d’Aubusson de la Feuillade, de Brigode, de Croy, de Coutades, de Louvois, de Brancas, de Gontaut, de Grammont, de Beauvau, de Lur-Saluces, d’Haussonville, de Noailles, de Chabot, de Turenne,1 and other bearers of historic names.—During the Revolution, at each new parliamentarian, popular or military coup d’état the notabilities of the vanquished party were always excluded from office and generally outlawed. After the coup d’état of Brumaire, not only are the vanquished of the old parties all brought back under the protection of the law, but, again, their notables are promoted to the highest offices. Among the monarchists of the Constituent Assembly Malouet is made councillor of State, and Maury archbishop of Paris; forty-seven other ecclesiastics who, like himself, refused to take the oath to the civil constitution of the clergy, are appointed, like him, to episcopal thrones. Among the Feuillants of the Legislative Assembly, Vaublanc is made prefect, Beugnot a councillor of State and minister of the finances in the grand-duchy of Berg, Matthieu Dumas a brigadier-general and director of reviews, Narbonne becomes the aid-de-camp and the intimate interlocutor of Napoleon, and then ambassador to Vienna; if Lafayette had been willing, not to ask for but to accept the post, he would have been made a marshal of France.—Among the few Girondists or Federalists who did not perish after the 2d June, Riouffe is prefect and baron, Lanjuinais is senator and count; among others proscribed, or half proscribed, the new régime restores to and places at the head of affairs the superior and special employés whom the Reign of Terror had driven away, or singled out for slaughter, particularly the heads of the financial and diplomatic services who, denounced by Robespierre on the 8th Thermidor, or arrested on the morning of the 9th already felt their necks under the blade of the guillotine; Reinhart and Otto are ambassadors, Mollien is count and treasury minister, Miot becomes councillor of state, Comte de Melito minister of finances at Naples, while Gaudin is made minister of finances in France and Duc de Gaëte. Among the transported or fugitives of Fructidor, Barthélemy becomes senator, Barbé-Marbois director of the Treasury and first president of the Cour des Comptes; Siméon, councillor of State and then minister of justice in Westphalia; Portalis is made minister of worship, and Fontanes grand-master of the University. The First Consul passes the sponge over all political antecedents: not only does he summon to his side the moderates and half-moderates of the Constituent and Legislative Assemblies, of the Convention and of the Directory, but again he seeks recruits among pure royalists and pure Jacobins, among the men the most devoted to the ancient régime and amongst those most compromised by the Revolution, at both extremities of the most extreme opinions. We have just seen, on the one side, what hereditary favorites of a venerable royalty, what born supporters of the deposed dynasty, are elevated by him to the first of his magisterial, clerical and court dignities. On the other hand, apart from Chasset, Rœderer and Grégoire, apart from Fourcroy, Bérlier and Réal, apart from Treilhard and Boulay de La Meurthe, he employs others branded or noted for terrible acts, Barère himself, at least for a certain period, and in the sole office he was fitted for, that of a denunciator, gazetteer and stimulator of public opinion; everybody has a place according to his faculties, and each has rank according to his usefulness and merit. Barère, consequently, becomes a paid spy and pamphleteer; Drouet, the postmaster, who arrested the royal family at Varennes, becomes sub-prefect at Sainte-Menehould; Jean-Bon Saint-André, one of the Committee of Public Safety, is made prefect at Mayence; Merlin de Douai, reporter of the law against suspects, is prosecuting attorney in the court of cassation; Fouché, whose name tells all, becomes minister of state and Duke of Otranto; nearly all of the survivors of the Convention are made judges of première instance or of appeal, revenue-collectors, deputies, prefects, foreign consuls, police commissioners, inspectors of reviews, head-clerks in the post-offices, custom-houses and tax-offices, while, in 1808, among these functionaries, one hundred and thirty were regicides.1
To make one’s way, get ahead, and succeed in the world is now the dominant thought in the minds of men. Before 1789, this thought had not acquired sovereign control in their minds; it found that there were rival ideas to contend with, and it had only half-developed itself; its roots had not sunk down deep enough to monopolize the activity of the imagination, to absorb the will and possess the mind entirely; and the reason is that it lacked both air and aliment. Promotion, under the old monarchy, was slow, and in the first place, because the monarchy was old and because in every order which is not new each new generation finds that every office is filled, and next, because, in this old order founded on tradition and heredity, future vacancies were supplied long beforehand. The great social staircase led to several stories; each man could ascend every step of his own flight, but he could not mount above it; the landing reached, he found closed doors and nearly insurmountable barriers. The story above was reserved to its own inhabitants; they occupied it now and were still to occupy it in time to come; the inevitable successors of the titular possessor were seen around him on each step, his equals, peers and neighbors, one or the other often designated by name as his legal heir, the purchaser of his survivorship. In those days, not only was the individual himself considered, his merits and his services, but likewise his family and ancestry, his state and condition, the society he entered into, the “salon” he maintained, his fortune and his followers; these antecedents and surroundings composed the quality of the personage; without this requisite quality, he could not go beyond the landing-place. Strictly speaking, a personage born on the upper steps of one story might sometimes succeed in mounting the lowest steps of the next story, but there he stopped. In fine, it was always considered by those on the lower story that the upper story was inaccessible and, moreover, uninhabitable.
Accordingly, most of the public offices, in the finances, in the administration, in the judiciary, in the parliaments, in the army, at court, were private property as is now the case with the places of advocates, notaries and brokers; they had to be bought to enable one to follow these pursuits, and were very dear; one had to possess a large capital and be content beforehand to derive only a mediocre revenue from it, ten, five and sometimes three per cent on the purchase-money.1 The place once acquired, especially if an important one, involved official parade, receptions, an open table, a large annual outlay;2 it often ran the purchaser in debt; he knew that his acquisition would bring him more consideration than crowns. On the other hand, to obtain possession of it, he had to secure the good-will of the body of which he became a member, or of the patron who bestowed the office, that is to say, he must be regarded by his future colleagues as acceptable, or by the patron as a guest, invited, and possibly to live with him on terms of familiarity, in other words, provide sponsors for himself, furnish guarantees, prove that he was well-off and well-educated, that his ways and manners qualified him for the post, and that, in the society he was about to enter, he would not turn out unsuitable. To maintain one’s self in office at court one was obliged to possess the tone of Versailles, quite different from that of Paris and the provinces.3 To maintain one’s self in a high parliamentary position, one was expected to possess local alliances, moral authority, the traditions and deportment handed down from father to son in the old magistrate families, and which a mere advocate, an ordinary pleader, could not arrive at.4 In short, on this staircase, each distinct story imposed on its inmates a sort of distinct costume, more or less costly, embroidered and gilded, I mean a sum of outward and inward habits and connections, all obligatory and indispensable, comprising title, particle and name: the announcement of any bourgeois name by a lackey in the ante-chamber would be considered a discord; consequently, one had one’s self ennobled in the current coin, or assumed a noble name gratis. Caron, son of a watchmaker, became Beaumarchais; Nicolas, a foundling, called himself M. de Champfort; Danton, in public documents, signed himself d’Anton; in the same way, a man without a dress-coat hires or borrows one, no matter how, on going out to dine; all this was tolerated and accepted as a sign of good behavior and of final conformity with custom, as in testimony of respect for the usages of good society.
Through this visible separation of stories, people had acquired the habit of remaining in the condition in which they were placed; they were not irritated by being obliged to stay in it; the soldier who enlisted did not aspire to become an officer; the young officer of the lower noblesse and of small means did not aspire to the post of colonel or lieutenant-general; a limited perspective kept hopes and the imagination from fruitlessly launching forth into a boundless future: ambition, humbled to the ground at the start, walked instead of flying; it recognized at the outset that the summits were beyond its reach; to be able to mount upward one or two steps was enough.—In general, a man obtained promotion on the spot, in his town, corporation or parliament. The assistant-counsellor who pleaded his first case in the court of Grenoble or of Rennes calculated that, in twenty years, he would become first judge at Grenoble or at Rennes, rest twenty years or more in office, and he aimed at nothing better. Alongside of the counsellor of a (court) presidency, or of an “election” magistrate, of a clerk in the salt-tax bureau, or in the frontier custom-house, or in the bureau of “rivers and forests,” alongside of a clerk in the treasury or ministry of foreign affairs, or of a lawyer or prosecuting attorney, there was always some son, son-in-law or nephew, fitted by domestic training, by a technical apprenticeship, by moral adaptation, not only to perform the duties of the office, but to be contented in it, pretend to nothing beyond it, not to look above himself with regret or envy, satisfied with the society around him, and feel, moreover, that elsewhere he would be out of his element and uncomfortable.
Life, thus restricted and circumscribed, was more cheerful then than at the present day; souls, less disturbed and less strained, less exhausted and less burdened with cares, were healthier. The Frenchman, exempt from modern preoccupations, followed amiable and social instincts, inclined to take things easily, and of a playful disposition owing to his natural talent for amusing himself by amusing others, in mutual enjoyment of each other’s company and without calculation, through easy and considerate intercourse, smiling or laughing, in short, in a constant flow of inspiration, good-humor and gayety.1 It is probable that, if the Revolution had not intervened, the great parvenus of the time and of the Empire would, like their forerunners, have submitted to circumambient necessities and readily accommodated themselves to the discipline of the established régime. Cambacérès, who had succeeded to his father as counsellor at the bar of Montpellier, would have become president (of the tribunal) in his turn; meanwhile, he would have composed able jurisprudential treatises and invented some new pâté de becfigues; Lebrun, former collaborator with Maupeou, might have become counsellor in the court of excise at Paris, or chief-clerk in the Treasury department; he would have kept up a philosophical salon, with fashionable ladies and polished men of letters to praise his elegant and incorrect translations. Amongst the future marshals, some of them, pure plebeians, Masséna, Augereau, Lannes, Ney, Lefebvre, might have succeeded through brilliant actions and have become “officers of fortune,” while others, taking in hand specially difficult services, like commandant Fischer who undertook the destruction of Mandrin’s band, and again, like the hero Chevert, and the veteran Lückner, might have become lieutenant-generals. Rough as these men were, they would have found, even in the lower ranks, if not full employment for their superior faculties, at least sufficient food for their strong and coarse appetites; they would have uttered just the same oaths, at just as extravagant suppers, with mistresses of just the same calibre.1 Had their temperament, character and genius been indomitable, had they reared and pranced to escape bridle and harness and been driven like ordinary men, they need not have broken out of the traces for all that; there were plenty of openings and issues for them on either side of the highway on which others were trotting along. Many families often contained, among numerous children, some hot-headed, imaginative youth, some independent nature rebellious in advance, in short, a refractory spirit, unwilling or incapable of being disciplined; a regular life, mediocrity, even the certainty of getting ahead, were distasteful to him; he would abandon the hereditary homestead or purchased office to the docile elder brother, son-in-law or nephew, by which the domain or the post remained in the family; as for himself, tempted by illimitable prospects, he would leave France and go abroad; Voltaire says2 that “Frenchmen were found everywhere,” in Canada, in Louisiana, as surgeons, fencing-masters, riding-masters, officers, engineers, adventurers especially, and even filibusters, trappers and backwoodsmen, the supplest, most sympathetic and boldest of colonizers and civilizers, alone capable of bringing the natives under assimilation by assimilating with them, by adopting their customs and by marrying their women, mixing bloods, and forming new and intermediary races, like Dumas de La Pailleterie, whose descendants have furnished original and superior men for the past three generations, and like the Canada half-breeds by which the aboriginal race succeeds in transforming itself and in surviving. They were the first explorers of the great lakes, the first to trace the Mississippi to its mouth, and found colonial empires with Champlain and Lasalle in North America and with Dupleix and La Bourdonnais in Hindoostan. Such was the outlet for daring, uncontrollable spirits, restive temperaments under constraint and subject to the routine of an old civilization, souls astray and unclassed from their birth, in which the primitive instincts of the nomad and barbarian sprouted afresh, in which insubordination was innate, and in which energy and capacity to take the initiative remained intact.—Mirabeau, having compromised his family by scandals, was on the point of being despatched by his father to the Dutch Indies, where deaths were common; it might happen that he would be hanged or become governor of some large district in Java or Sumatra, the venerated and adored sovereign of five hundred thousand Malays, both ends being within the compass of his merits. Had Danton been well advised, instead of borrowing the money with which to buy an advocate’s place in the Council at about seventy thousand livres, which brought him only three cases in four years and obliged him to hang on to the skirts of his father-in-law, he would have gone to Pondicherry or to the palace of some indigenous rajah or king as agent, councillor or companion of his pleasures; he might have become prime-minister to Tippoo Saib, or other potentate, lived in a palace, kept a harem and had lacs of rupees; undoubtedly, he would have filled his prisons and occasionally emptied them by a massacre, as at Paris in September, but it would have been according to local custom, and operating only on the lives of Sheikhs and Mahrattas. Bonaparte, after the fall of his protectors, the two Robespierres, finding his career arrested, wanted to enter the Sultan’s service; accompanied by Junot, Muiron, Marmont and other comrades, he could have carried to Constantinople rarer commodities, much better compehsated in the Orient than in the Occident, namely military honor and administrative talent; he would have dealt in these two products, as he did in Egypt, at the right time and in the right place, at the highest price, without our conscientious scruples and without our European refinements of probity and humanity. No imagination can picture what he would have become there; certainly some pasha, like Djezzar in Syria, or a khedive like Mahomet-Ali, afterwards at Cairo; he already saw himself in the light of a conqueror, like Ghengis-Khan,1 a founder like Alexander or Baber, a prophet like Mahomet; as he himself declares, “one could work only on a grand scale in the Orient,” and there he would have worked on a grand scale; Europe, perhaps, would have gained by it, and especially France.
But the Revolution came on and the ambitions which, under the ancient régime, found a field abroad or cooled down at home, arose on the natal soil and suddenly expanded beyond all calculation. After 1789, France resembles a hive in a state of excitement; in a few hours, in the brief interval of an August morning, each insect puts forth two huge wings, soars aloft and “all whirl together pell-mell;” many fall to the ground half cut to pieces and begin to crawl upward as before; others, with more strength or with better luck, ascend and glitter on the highways of the atmosphere.—Every great highway and every other road is open to everybody through the decrees of the Constituent-Assembly, not only for the future, but even immediately. The entire ruling staff, directive or influential, political, administrative, provincial, municipal, ecclesiastical, educational, military, judicial and financial, is brusquely dismissed; all are summoned to take office who covet it and who have a good opinion of themselves; all previously existing conditions, birth, fortune, education, old family and all apprenticeships, customs and ways which retard and limit advancement, are abolished; there are no longer any guarantees or sponsors; all Frenchmen are eligible to all employments; all grades of the legal and social hierarchy are conferred by a more or less direct election, a suffrage becoming more and more popular, by a mere numerical majority; consequently, in all branches of the government under central or local authority and patronage, there is the installation of a new staff of officials; the transposition which everywhere substitutes the old inferior to the old superior, is universal;1 “lawyers for judges, bourgeois for statesmen, former plebeians for former nobles, soldiers for officers, officers for generals, curés for bishops, vicars for curés, monks for vicars, stock-jobbers for financiers, empirics for administrators, journalists for publicists, rhetoricians for legislators, and the poor for the rich;” a sudden jump from the bottom to the top of the social ladder by a few, from the lowest to the highest rung, from the rank of sergeant to that of major-general, from the condition of a pettifogger or starving newspaper-hack to the possession of supreme authority, even to the effective exercise of omnipotence and dictatorship—such is the capital, positive, striking work of the Revolution.
At the same time, and in a counter-sense, a revolution is going on in minds and the moral effect of the spectacle becomes grander and more lasting than the spectacle itself; souls have been stirred to their very depths; torpid passions and slumbering pretensions are aroused. The multitude of offices presented and expected vacancies “has excited the thirst for power, stimulated amour-propre, and fired the hopes of men the most inept. An ardent, barbarous presumption has rendered the ignorant and the foolish unconscious of their nullity; they have deemed themselves capable of everything because the law has awarded public functions to cleverness alone. Everybody had a perspective glimpse of gratified ambition; the soldier dreamt only of displacing the officer, the officer of becoming general, the clerk of supplanting the head administrator, the lawyer of yesterday of donning the purple, the curé of becoming bishop, the most frivolous littérateur of seating himself on the legislative bench. Places and positions, vacant through the appointment of so many parvenus, provided in their turn a vast career to the lower classes. Seeing a public functionary issue out of nothingness, where is the shoeblack whose soul would not stir with emulation?”—This new sentiment must be taken into account: for, whether reasonable or not, it is going to last, maintain its energy, stimulate men with extraordinary force1 and become one of the great mainsprings of will and action. Henceforth, government and administration are to become difficult matters; the forms and plans of the old social architecture are no longer applicable; like construction is not possible with materials of a different kind, with stable and unstable materials, with men who do not dream of quitting their condition and with men who think of nothing but that.
In effect, whatever vacancy may occur, each aspirant thinks himself fit for it, and only one of the aspirants can obtain it. Accordingly some rule of preference must be adopted outside of the opinion that each candidate entertains of himself; accordingly, at a very early date, one was established, and there could be no better one, namely, that, among the competitors for the place, the most competent to fill it should be chosen. Unfortunately, the judge, ordinary, extraordinary and supreme, instituted to decide in this case, was the plurality of male, adult Frenchmen, counted by heads, that is to say a collective being in which the small intelligent, élite body is drowned in the great rude mass; of all juries, the most incompetent, the easiest duped and misled, the least able to comprehend the questions laid before it and the consequences of its answer; the worst informed, the most inattentive, the most blinded by preconceived sympathies or antipathies, the most willingly absent, a mere flock of enlisted sheep always robbed or cheated out of their vote, and whose verdict, forced or simulated, depended on politicians beforehand, above and below, through the clubs as well as through the revolutionary government, the latter, consequently, manœuvring in such a way as to impose itself along with their favorites on the choice of the French people. Between 1792 and 1799, the republican official staff just described is thus obtained.—It is only in the army where the daily and keen sense of a common physical and mortal danger ends in dictating the choice of the best, and raises tried merit to the highest rank; and yet it must be noted that Jacobin infatuation bore down as rigorously on the army as elsewhere and on two occasions: at the outset through the election of a superior officer conferred on subordinates, which handed rank over to the noisy disputants and intemperate intriguers of the mess-room; and again during the Reign of Terror, and even later,1 in the persecution or dismissal of so many patriotic and deserving officers, which led Gouvion St. Cyr and his comrades, through disgust, to avoid or decline accepting high rank, in the scandalous promotion of club brawlers and docile nullities, in the military dictatorship of the civil proconsuls, in the supremacy conferred on Léchelle and Rossignol, in the subordination forced on Kléber and Marceau, in the absurd plans of a demagogue with huge epaulettes like Cartaux,2 in the grotesque orders of the day issued by a swaggering inebriate like Henriot,3 in the disgrace of Bonaparte, and in the detention of Hoche.—In the civil order of things, it was worse. The rule of regulating promotion by merit was not only not recognized but it was applied in an inverse sense. In the central government as in the local government, and from top to bottom of the hierarchy, from the post of minister of foreign affairs down to that of president of a petty revolutionary committee, all offices were for the unworthy; their unfitness kept on increasing inasmuch as incessant weeding out worked against them, the functionary, degraded by his work, growing worse along with his function: thus the constitutional rights of merit and capacity ended in the practical privilege of incapacity and demerit; in the allotment of grades and social advantages, distributive justice had given way to distributive injustice, while practice, contrary to theory, instituted permanently, on the one hand, the exclusion or retirement of competent, instructed, expert, well-bred, honorable and respected men and, on the other hand, brought forward illiterate, inept and rude novices, coarse and vulgar brutes, common blackguards, men used up or of tarnished reputations, rogues ready for anything, fugitives from justice, in short the adventurers and outcasts of every kind and degree;1 the latter, owing their success to perversion or lack of conscientiousness, derived their principal title from their vigorous fists and a fixed determination to hold on to their places as they had obtained them, that is to say by main force and by the murder or exile of their rivals.—Evidently, the staff of officials which the Declaration of Rights had promised was not the staff on duty ten years later; there was a lack of experience. In 1789, careers were open to every ambition; down to 1799, the rivalry of ambitions had simply produced a wild uproar and a brutal conquest. The great modern difficulty still existed; it remained to discipline the competition and to find an impartial judge, an undisputed arbitrator of the competition.
Behold him, at last, this judge-arbitrator. On the 8th November, 1799, he appears and takes his seat, and that very evening he goes to work, makes his selections among the competitors and gives them their commissions. He is a military chieftain and has installed himself; consequently he is not dependent on a parliamentary majority, and any insurrection or gathering of a mob is at once rendered abortive by his troops before it is born; street sovereignty is at an end; Parisians are long to remember the 13th of Vendémiaire and the way General Bonaparte shot them down on the steps of Saint-Roch. All his precautions against them are taken the first day and against all agitators whatever, against all opponents disposed to dispute his jurisdiction; his arm-chair as First Consul and afterwards his throne as Emperor are firmly fixed; nobody but himself can undermine them; he is seated definitively and will stay there. Profound silence reigns in the public crowd around him; some among them dare whisper, but his police has its eye on them; instead of conforming to opinion he rules it, masters it and, if need be, he manufactures it; alone by himself from his seat on high, in perfect independence and security, he announces the verdicts of distributive justice. Nevertheless, he is on his guard against the temptations and influences which have warped the decisions of his predecessors; in his tribunal, the schemes and intrigues which formerly obtained credit with the people, or with the king, are no longer in vogue; henceforth, the profession of courtier or of demagogue is a poor one.—On the one hand, there is no success, as formerly under the monarchy, through the assiduities of the ante-chamber, through elegant manners, delicate flattery, fashionable drawing-rooms, or valets and women on an intimate footing; mistresses here enjoy no credit and there are neither favorites nor the favored; a valet is regarded as a useful implement; great court personages are not considered as extra-ornamental and human furniture for the palace. Not one among them dare ask for a place for a protégé which he is incapable of filling, an advancement which would derange the list of promotions, a pass over the heads of others; if they obtain any favors, these are insignificant or political; the master grants them as an after-thought, to rally somebody, or a party, to his side; they personally, their ornamental culture, their high-bred tone, their wit, their conversational powers, their smiles and bows—all this is lost on him, or charged to account; he has no liking for their insinuating and discreet ways;1 he regards them as merely good domestics for parade; all he esteems in them is their ceremonial significance, that innate suppleness which permits them to be at once servile and dignified, the hereditary tact which teaches them how to present a letter, not from hand to hand, but on the rim of a hat, or on a silver salver, and these faculties he estimates at their just value.—On the other hand, nobody succeeds, as lately under the Republic, through tribunal or club verbosity, through appeals to principles, through eloquent or declamatory tirades; “glittering generalities,” hollow abstractions and phrases for effect now have no effect; and what is better, political ideology, with a solicitor or pleader, is a bad note. The positive, practical mind of the judge has taken in at a glance and penetrated to the bottom of arguments, means and valid pretensions; he submits impatiently to metaphysics and pettifoggery, to the argumentative force and mendacity of words.—This goes so far that he distrusts oratorical or literary talent; in any event, he takes no account of it on assigning to active positions or to a part in public business. According to him, “the men who write well and are eloquent have no solidity of judgment; they are illogical and very poor in discussion,”2 they are mere artists like others, so many word-musicians, a kind of special, narrow-minded instrument, some of them good solo players, like Fontanes, and whom the head of a State can use, but only in official music for grand cantatas and the decoration of his reign. Wit in itself, not alone the wit which gives birth to brilliant expressions and which was considered a prime accomplishment under the old régime, but general intelligence, has for him only a semi-value.3 “I am more intelligent, you may say? Eh, what do I care for your intelligence? What I care for is the spirit of the matter. There is no fool that is not good for something—there is no intelligence equal to everything.” In fact, on bestowing an office it is the function which he delegates; the proper execution of the function is the prime motive in determining his choice; the candidate appointed is always the one who will best do the work assigned him. No factitious, party popularity or unpopularity, no superficial admiration or disparagement of a clique, of a salon, or of a bureau, makes him swerve from his standard of preference.1 He values men according to the quality and quantity of their work, according to their net returns, and he estimates them directly, personally, with superior perspicacity and universal competency. He is special in all branches of civil or military activity, and even in technical detail; his memory for facts, actions, antecedents and circumstances, is prodigious; his discernment, his critical analysis, his calculating insight into the resources and shortcomings of a mind or of a soul, his faculty for gauging men, is extraordinary; through constant verifications and rectifications his internal repertory, his biographical and moral dictionary, is kept daily posted; his attention never flags; he works eighteen hours a day; his personal intervention and his hand are visible even in the appointment of subordinates. “Every man called to take part in affairs was selected by him;”2 it is through him that they retain their place; he controls their promotion and by sponsors whom he knows. “A minister could not have dismissed a functionary without consulting the emperor, while the ministers could all change without bringing about two secondary changes throughout the empire. A minister did not appoint even a second-class clerk without presenting a list of several candidates to the emperor and, opposite to it, the name of the person recommending him.” All, even at a distance, felt that the master’s eyes were on them. “I worked,” says Beugnot,3 “from night to morning, with singular ardor; the natives of the country who did not know the influence which the emperor exercised over his servitors, however far from him they might be, the miracle of the real presence, were astonished at it; I thought I saw him standing over me as I worked shut up in my cabinet.”—“Under him,” writes Rœderer, “there is no man of any merit who, as a reward for long and difficult labor, does not feel himself better compensated by a new task than by the most honorable leisure.” Never did offices less resemble sinecures. Never was the success of fortunate candidates or the failure of unsuccessful candidates better justified. Never were severe application or the difficulties and risks of the labor demanded more exactly compensated by the gratifications of the reward obtained, nor the bitterness of disappointed hopes attenuated to the same degree.1 Never were public functions assigned or fulfilled in a way to better satisfy the legitimate craving for advancement, the dominant desire of democracy and of the century, and in a way to better disarm the bad passions of democracy and of the century, consisting of an envious levelling, anti-social rancor and the inconsolable regrets of the man who has failed. Never did human competition encounter a similar judge, so painstaking, so expert and so well authorized.
He is himself conscious of the unique part he plays. His own ambition, the highest and most insatiate of all, enables him to comprehend the ambition of others; to place everywhere the man who suits the post in the post which suits the man—this is what he has done for himself and what he does for others. He knows that in this lies his power, his deep-seated popularity, his social utility. “Nobody,” says he,1 “is interested in overthrowing a government in which all the deserving are employed.”—Then, again, comes his significant exclamation at the end, his summary of modern society, a solemn grandiose figure of speech found in the legendary souvenirs of a glorious antiquity, a classic reminiscence of the noble Olympian games, “Henceforth, all careers are open to talent!”
Let us now consider the career which he thus opens to them and the prizes he offers. These prizes are in full view, ranged along each race-ground, graduated according to distances and more and more striking and magnificent; every ambition is provided for, the highest as well as the lowest, and these are countless; for they consist of offices of every grade in the civil and military hierarchies of a great centralized State whose intervention is universal, under a government which systematically tolerates no authority or influence outside of itself and which monopolizes every species of social importance for its own functionaries.2 —All these prizes, even the smallest and most insignificant, are awarded by it. In the first place, Napoleon has two or three times as many offices to bestow, on the soil of old France alone, as the former kings; for, even in the choice of their staff of officials, the latter were not always free; in many places they did not have, or no longer had, the right of appointment. At one time, this right belonged from time immemorial to provincial or municipal corporations, laic or ecclesiastic, to a certain chapter, abbey or collegiate church, to a bishop in his diocese, to the seignior in his seignory; at another time the king, once possessing the right, had surrendered or alienated it, in whole or in part, through gratuitous favor and the concession of a survivorship, or for money and through the sale of an office; in brief, his hands were tied fast by hereditary or acquired privileges. There are no privileges now to fetter the hands of the First Consul. The entire civil organization dates from him. The whole body of officials is thus of his own selection, and under him it is much more numerous than that of the ancient régime; for he has extended the attributions of the State beyond all former bounds; directly or indirectly, he appoints by hundreds of thousands the mayors and councillors of municipalities and the members of general councils, the entire staff of the administration, of the finances, of the judicature, of the clergy, of the University, of public works and of public charity, and besides all this, myriads of ministerial and notarial officials, lawyers, ushers, auctioneers, and by way of surplus, or as a natural result, the members of every great private association since no collective enterprise, from the Bank of France and the press to stage-lines and tontines, may be established without his permission, nor exist without his tolerance. Not counting the latter, and after deducting likewise the military on active duty and the functionaries who draw pay, the prefects from the earliest years report that, since 1789, the number of people “employed or under government pay” has more than doubled; in Doubs, in the year ix, instead of nine hundred and sixteen there are eighteen hundred and twenty; in Meurthe, in the year xiii, instead of eighteen hundred and twenty-eight there are three thousand and ninety-one; in Ain, in 1806, instead of nine hundred and fifty-five there are seventeen hundred and seventy-one.1 As to the army, it has tripled, and according to the First Consul’s own calculations, instead of nine thousand and ten thousand officers as in 1789, there are more than twenty thousand.—These figures go on increasing on the old territory through the very development of the new organization, through the enormous increase of the army, through the re-establishment of religious worship, through the installation of droits réunis, through the institution of the University, owing to the increasing number of officials, curés and assistant-priests, of professors and school-teachers, and of retired and pensioned invalids.1
And these figures, which already swell of themselves, are to swell an additional half through the extension of the ancient territory. Instead of eighty-six departments with a population of twenty-six millions, France ends in comprising one hundred and thirty departments with forty-two million inhabitants—Belgium and Piedmont, then Hanover, Tuscany, Central Italy, Illyria, Holland and the Hanseatic provinces, that is to say forty-four departments and sixteen millions of annexed Frenchmen;2 affording another large outlet for little and big ambitions.—Add still another, as a surplus and not less extensive outlet, outside of France: for the subject princes and the vassal kings, Eugène, Louis, Jerome, Murat, and Joseph, each with their governments, import into their realms a more or less numerous body of French officials, familiars, court dignitaries, generals, ministers, administrators, even clerks and other indispensable subalterns, if for no other purpose than to bring the natives within the military and civil compartments of the new régime and teach them on the spot the conscription, the administration, the civil code, and systems of accounts like those of Paris. Even in the independent or allied States, in Prussia, in Poland, in the confederation of the Rhine, there are, at intervals or permanently, Frenchmen in position and in authority to command contingent forces, to garrison fortresses, to receive supplies and secure the payment of war contributions. Even with the corporal and custom-house inspector on duty on the coast at Dantzig and at Reggio, the sentiment of victorious priority equals the possession of rank; in their eyes the natives of the country are semi-barbarians or semi-savages, a backward or prejudiced lot, not even knowing how to speak their language; they feel themselves superior, as formerly the señor soldado of the sixteenth century, or the civis romanus. Never, since the great Spanish monarchy and the old Roman empire, has a conquering State and propagator of a new régime afforded its subjects such gratifications of amour-propre, nor opened so vast a career to their ambitions.
For, having once adopted their career, they know better than the Spaniards under Charles V. or the Romans under Augustus, how far they can go and how fast they can get ahead. No obstacle impedes them; nobody feels himself confined to his post; each considers the one he occupies as provisional; each takes it only to await a better one, anticipating another at a very early date; he dashes onward, springs aloft and occupies in advance the superior post which he means to secure on the first vacancy, and, under this régime, the vacancies are numerous.—These vacancies, in the military service and in the grade of officers, may be estimated at nearly four thousand per annum;1 after 1808 and 1809, but especially after the disasters of 1812 and 1813, places are no longer lacking but subjects to fill them; Napoleon is obliged to accept youths for officers as beardless as his conscripts, eighteen-year-old apprentices who, after a year or six months in the military academy, must finish their apprenticeship on the battle-field, pupils taken from the philosophy or rhetoric classes, youths who are enthusiastic (de bonne volonte);1 on the 13th of December 1808, he draws for fifty on his lycées who don the gold-lace of under-officers at once; in 1809, he calls out two hundred and fifty, to serve in the depot battalions; in 1810, he calls out one hundred and fifty of the age of nineteen who “know the drill,” and who are to be sent on distant expeditions with the commission of second-lieutenant; in 1811, four hundred for the school of non-commissioned officers at Fontainebleau, twenty for the Ile-de-Ré and eighty-four who are to be quartermasters; and, in 1812, one hundred and twelve more and so on. Naturally, thanks to annually increasing gaps made by cannon and bayonet, the survivors in this body of youth mount the faster; in 1813 and 1814, there are colonels and lieutenant-colonels of the age of twenty-five.
In the civil service, if fewer are killed everybody is almost equally overtasked. Under this reign one is soon used up, physically and morally, even in pacific employments, and this also supplies vacancies. Besides, in default of deaths, wounds and violent elimination, there is another elimination, not less efficacious, operating in this direction, and for a long time, in favor of men of ability, preparing places for them and accelerating their advancement. Napoleon accepts none but competent candidates; now, in 1800, there is a dearth of acceptable candidates for places in the civil service and not, as in 1789, or at the present time, a superabundance and even too great a crowd.—In the military service especially, capacity is innate; natural endowments, courage, coolness, quick perception, physical activity, moral ascendency, topographical imagination form its principal elements; men just able to read, write and cipher became, in three or four years, during the Revolution, admirable officers and conquering generals.—It is not the same in relation to civil capacity; this requires long and continuous study. To become a priest, magistrate, engineer, professor, prefect or school-teacher, one must have studied theology or law, mathematics or Latin, administration or the finances; otherwise, the functionary is not qualified to serve: he must, at the very least, know how to spell, be able to write French, examine a law-case, draw up a report, keep accounts, and if necessity calls for it, comprehend a plan, make an estimate, and read off a map. Men of this stamp are rare at the beginning of the Consulate. As notables, the Revolution has mowed them down1 out of preference. Among all their sons and so many well-bred youth who have become soldiers through patriotism, or who have left their families to prevent these from becoming suspect, one half repose on the battlefield or have left the hospital only for the cemetery; “the muscadin2 broke down the first campaign.” In any event, of education for them and their younger brothers, for children beginning to learn Latin and mathematics, for all aspirants to liberal pursuits, for the entire generation about to receive either a superior or a common education, or even of primary instruction, to furnish suitably prepared brains for intellectual work, there was a lack of this for ten years. Not only were the endowments which provided for instruction confiscated, but the educational staff, nearly all ecclesiastic, was one of the most proscribed among those proscribed. Whilst military requisition and the closing of the schools suppressed the pupils, massacres, banishment, imprisonment, suffering and the scaffold suppressed the masters. Whilst the ruin of universities and colleges did away with theoretical apprenticeship, the ruin of manufactures and of trade abolished practical apprenticeship, and, through the long interruption of all studies, general instruction as well as special competency became rare products in the market.—Hence it is that, in 1800, and during the three or four following years, whoever brought to market either one or the other of these commodities was sure of soon getting a place;3 the new government needed them more than anybody; the moment the seller gives in his adhesion he is bought, and whatever he may be, a former Jacobin or a former émigré, he is employed. If he brings both commodities and is zealous, he is promptly promoted; if, on trial, he is found of superior capacity, he will, like Mollien, Gaudin, Tronchet, Pasquier and Molé, attain to the highest posts, for he finds scarcely any competitors. These he would have had had things followed their usual course; it is the Revolution which has cleared the ground around him; without that the road would have been obstructed; competent candidates would have swarmed; enumerate, if possible, all the men of talent, royalists, monarchists, feuillans, Girondists and even Jacobins, who have perished, consisting of the élite of the noblesse, of the clergy, of the bourgeoisie, of the youth and those of riper age. Thus rid of their most formidable rivals the survivors pursue their way at race speed; the guillotine has wrought for them in advance; it has effected openings in their own ranks, made by bullets in every battle in the ranks of the army, and, in the civil hierarchy as in the military hierarchy, merit, if demonstrated by services, or not arrested by death, reaches the highest summit in very few years.
The prizes offered on these summits are splendid; no attraction is lacking. The great trainer who displays them has omitted none of the seductions which excite and stimulate an ordinary mind; he has associated with the positive values of power and wealth every value incident to imagination and opinion; hence his institution of decorations and the Legion of Honor.1 “They call it a plaything,”2 said he, “but men are led by playthings. . . . Frenchmen are not changed by ten years of revolution. . . . See how the people prostrate themselves before foreign decorations: they have been surprised by them and accordingly do not fail to wear them. . . . The French cherish but one sentiment, honor: that sentiment, then, requires nourishing—they must have distinctions.” A very few are satisfied with their own deserts; ordinary men are not even content with the approbation they perceive in the eyes of others: it is too intermittent, too reserved, too mute; they need fame that is brilliant and noisy; they want to hear the constant hum of admiration and respect whenever they appear or whenever their name is mentioned. Even this does not suffice; they are unwilling that their merit should rest in men’s minds in the vague state of undefined greatness, but that it should be publicly estimated, have its current value, enjoy undisputed and measured rank on the scale above all other lesser merits.—The new institution affords complete satisfaction to all these exigencies of human and French nature. On the 14th of July, 1804,1 the anniversary of the taking of the Bastille, Napoleon administers the oath to the legionaries and, after a solemn mass, distributes the insignia under the dome of the Invalides in the presence of the empress and the court; and again one month later, August 16, 1804, on the anniversary of the Emperor’s birth, in the camp at Boulogne, facing the ocean and in full view of the flotilla assembled to conquer England, before one hundred thousand spectators and the entire army, to the roll of eighteen hundred drums. No ceremony, probably, was ever more exciting. The eminent surgeon, Larrey, then decorated, a man of austere virtue, spoke of it with emotion to the end of his life and never alluded to that unique day but with a trembling voice. On that day, nearly all the men of superior and tried merit and talent in France2 are proclaimed, each with the title proportionate to his degree of eminence—chevaliers, officers, commanders, grand-officers, and, later on, grand-eagles; each on the same plane with his equals of a different class, ecclesiastics alongside of laymen, civilians alongside of soldiers; each honored by the company of his peers, Berthollet, Laplace and Lagrange alongside of Kellermann, Jourdan and Lefebvre, Otto and Tronchet alongside of Masséna, Augereau, Ney, Lannes, Soult and Davout; four cardinals side by side with eighteen marshals, and likewise even down to corporal, and to Egyptian veterans blinded by ophthalmia on the banks of the Nile, comprising common soldiers who, through some brilliant achievement, had won a sword or a gun of honor, as, for instance, Coignet,1 who, dashing ahead with fixed bayonet, kills five Austrian artillerymen and takes their cannon himself alone; six years before this he was a stable-boy on a farm and could neither read nor write; he is now mentioned among the first of those promoted, a colleague and almost a comrade of Monge, the inventor of descriptive geometry, of de Fontanes, grand-master of the university, of marshals, admirals, and the highest dignitaries, all sharing in common an inestimable treasure, the legitimate heirs of twelve years’ accumulated glory by the sacrifice of so many heroic lives and all the more glorified because so few,2 and because, in these days, a man did not obtain the cross by twenty years of plodding in a bureau, on account of routine punctuality, but by wonderful strokes of energy and audacity, by wounds, by braving death a hundred times and looking it in the face daily.
Henceforth, legally as well as in public opinion, they form the staff of the new society, its declared, verified notables, enjoying precedences and even privileges. On passing along the street the sentinel presents arms; a company of twenty-five soldiers attends their funeral; in the electoral colleges of the department or arrondissement they are electors by right and without being balloted for, simply by virtue of their rank; their sons are entitled to scholarships in La Flèche, at Saint-Cyr, and in the lycées, and their daughters at Écouen or at Saint-Denis. With the exception of a title, as formerly, they lack nothing for filling the place of the old nobility, and Napoleon re-creates this title for their benefit. The title in itself of chevalier, count, duke or prince carries along with it an idea of social superiority; when announced in a drawing room, when it precedes the first sentence of an address, those who are present do not remain inattentive; an immemorial prejudice inclines them to award consideration or even deference. The Revolution tried in vain to destroy this power of words and of history; Napoleon does better: he confiscates it; he arrogates to himself the monopoly of it, he steals its trade-mark from the ancient régime; he himself creates forty-eight thousand chevaliers, one thousand barons, three hundred and eighty-eight counts, thirty-one dukes and four princes; furthermore, he stamps with his own mark the old nobles whom he introduces into his nobility: he coins them anew, and often with an inferior title; this or that duke is lowered a notch and becomes simply a count: taken at par or at a discount the feudal coin must, in order to pass, receive the imperial stamp which gives it its recognized value in modern figures.
But, let the old-fashioned metal be what it may, whether gold, silver or copper, even crude and plebeian, the new coin is of good alloy and very handsome. Frequently, like the old currency, it displays coats of arms in high relief, a heraldic crown and the name of a locality; it no longer bears the name of a territory, and it does not call to mind a primitive sovereignty; on the contrary, it bears the name of a victory or of a conquest and reminds one of recent exploits. Duc de Montebello or Prince de la Moskowa is equivalent in the imagination of contemporaries to a Duc de Montmorency or a Prince de Rohan; for, if the prince or duke of the empire is without ancestors, he is or will be an ancestor himself. To these prizes coveted by vanity Napoleon tacks on every substantial and pecuniary advantage, in ready money or landed property, not alone large salaries, contiguous sénatoreries, occasional munificent gifts, a million at one time to General Lasalle, but likewise vast revenues from the extraordinary domain,1 thirty-two million four hundred and sixty-three thousand eight hundred and seventeen francs a year divided amongst four thousand nine hundred and seventy persons, pensions from two hundred and fifty to five thousand francs for all legionaries hotels, large estates, investments in public funds, distinct and superb endowments for those of the highest rank, fortunes of one hundred thousand livres income and more to thirty-four of these, a fortune of four hundred and fifty thousand livres in the public funds to Cambacérès, of six hundred and eighty-three thousand livres in the public funds to Masséna, of seven hundred and twenty-eight thousand livres in the public funds to Ney, of nine hundred and ten thousand livres in the public funds to Davout, of one million three hundred and fifty-four thousand livres in the public funds to Berthier, and besides all this, three “sovereign principalities,” Neufchatel to Berthier, Benevento to Talleyrand, and Ponte-Corvo to Bernadotte. The last of all temptations, in these times of violent and premature death, is of no little account. Napoleon opens out hereditary and undefined prospects beyond the perpectives of life and of inferior interests. Each of the titles conferred by him, that of prince, duke, count, baron, and even that of chevalier, is transmissible in direct descent, according to primogeniture from father to son, and sometimes from uncle to nephew, under specified conditions which are very acceptable, and of which the first is the institution of an inalienable majority, inattackable, consisting of this or that income or real property, of bank stock or state securities, from three thousand francs for common chevaliers up to two hundred thousand francs for the dukes, that is to say, a certain fortune in perpetuity due to the sovereign’s liberality, or to the prudence of the founder, and intended to support the dignity of the title from male to male and from link to link throughout the future chain of successive inheritors. Through this supreme reward, the subtle tempter has a hold on the men who care not alone for themselves but for their family: henceforth, they work as he does, eighteen hours a day, stand fire, and say to themselves, while sinking at their desks or facing cannon-balls, that their pre-eminence survives them in their posterity: “In any event my son will succeed me and even become greater by my death.”
Thus made use of, all the temptations which serve to overcome the natural inertia of human matter are combined together and work in concert; with the exception of conscience itself and the craving for personal independence, no other internal spring remains that is not strained to the utmost; while, beyond this extremity, one unique circumstance gives to eager ambitions a further increase of energy, impulse and enthusiasm.—All these successful or parvenu men are contemporaries: all have started alike on the same line and from the same average or low condition in life; each sees old comrades superior to himself on the upper steps; he considers himself as good as they are, suffers because he is not on their level, and strives and takes risks so as to mount up to them. But, however high he mounts, he still sees higher yet others who were formerly his equals; consequently, no rank obtained by them seems to him above his deserts, and no rank that he obtains suffices for his pretensions. “See that Masséna,” exclaimed Napoleon,1 a few days before the battle of Wagram; “he has honors and fame enough, but he is not satisfied; he wants to be a prince like Murat and Bernadotte: he will risk getting shot to-morrow simply to be a prince.”—Above these princes, who have only the rank, the title and the money, come the grand-dukes and reigning viceroys like Murat, grand-duke of Berg, and Eugene, viceroy of Italy. Above Eugene and Murat are the vassal-kings, Louis, Joseph, Jerome, then Murat himself, who, among these, is in a better place, and Bernadotte, the only sovereign that is independent; all more or less envied by the marshals, all more or less rivals of each other, the inferior aspiring to the superior throne, Murat inconsolable at being sent to Naples and not to Spain, and at having only five millions of subjects instead of thirteen millions. From top to bottom of the hierarchy and even to the loftiest places, comprising thrones, the steps rise regularly above each other in continuous file, so that each leads to the following one, with nothing to hinder the first-comer, provided he is lucky, has good legs and does not fall on the way, from reaching the top of the staircase in twenty or thirty years. “It was commonly reported in the army—he has got to be king in Naples, in Holland, in Spain, in Sweden, as formerly was said of the same sort of man, who had got to be sergeant in this or that company.”
Such is the total and final impression which rises to the surface in all imaginations; it is in this sense that the people interpret the new régime, and Napoleon devotes himself to confirming the popular interpretation. Accordingly, the first duchy he creates is for Marshal Lefebvre “purposely,” as he says,1 because “this marshal had been a common soldier and everybody in Paris had known him as a sergeant in the French guards.”—With such an example before them, and so many others like it, not less striking, there is no ambition that does not become exalted, and often to delirium. “At this time,” says Stendhal, who seized the master-idea of the reign, “there was no apothecary’s apprentice in his back shop, surrounded by his drugs and bottles, filtering and pounding away in his mortar, who did not say to himself that, if he chanced to make some great discovery, he would be made a count with fifty thousand francs a year.” In those days there was no under-clerk who, in his labored penmanship, inscribed names on a piece of parchment, that did not imagine his own name appearing some day on a senatorial or ministerial diploma. At this time the youthful corporal who dons his first stripes of gold braid already fancies that he hears the beating of the drums, the blast of the trumpet, and the salvos of artillery which proclaim him marshal of the Empire.
A new force, extraordinary, is just apparent in history, a spiritual force analogous to that which formerly stimulated souls in Spain in the sixteenth century, in Europe at the time of the crusades, and in Arabia in the time of Mahomet. It stimulates the faculties to excess, increases energy tenfold, transports man beyond or above himself, creates enthusiasts and heroes, blinding or rendering men crazy, and hence the irresistible conquerors and rulers. It stamps its imprint and leaves its memorials in ineffaceable characters on men and things from Cadiz to Moscow. It overrides all natural barriers and transcends all ordinary limits. “The French soldiers,” writes a Prussian officer after Jena, “are small and puny. One of our Germans could whip any four of them. But, under fire, they become supernatural beings. They are swept along by an indescribable ardor of which there is not a trace among our soldiers. . . . What can you do with peasants whom nobles lead into battle, but whose danger they share without having any interest in their passions or recompenses!”1 —Coupled with the physical craving which requires a certain amount of ease and of daily food, and which, if too strenuously opposed, produces passing jacqueries, there is a still more potent craving which, on suddenly encountering its food, seizes on it, clings to it, gorges it, and produces revolutions that last: this craving is the contemplation of one’s self with satisfaction and complacency, forming of one’s self a pleasing, flattering image, and of trying to impress and plant this image in the minds of others; in short, the craving of great self-esteem and of becoming greatly esteemed by others.2 This sentiment, according to the quality of the soul and according to circumstances, gives birth at one time to the noblest virtues and the most sublime devotion, at another, to the worst misdeeds and the most dangerous delirium: the man becomes transfigured; the sleeping god or demon which both live within him is suddenly aroused. After 1789, both appear and both together; from this date onward, says an eye-witness,1 and, during one quarter of a century, “for most Frenchmen and in whatever class,” the object of life is displaced; each has put it outside of himself; henceforth, the essential thing for everybody is “to have lived,” or “to have died for something,” for an idea. A man becomes the slave of his idea, gives himself up to it; consequently, he has experienced the intense satisfaction of considering himself a noble being, of superior essence, foremost among the first, and of seeing himself regarded in that light and proclaimed and glorified as such.—This keen, profound and intense pleasure was first enjoyed by the French on listening to the Declaration of the Rights of Man; thenceforth, and in good faith, they felt themselves citizens, philosophers, the destroyers of prejudices and wrongs, zealots in behalf of truth, liberty and equality, and then, when the war of 1792 came, the defenders of the country, missionaries and propagators of every grand principle.2 —Towards 1796, principles began to recede in the background;3 in the ideal portrait which man makes of himself the liberator and benefactor of mankind gradually gives way to the admirable and admired hero capable of great achievements. This inner portrait of himself suffices for his happiness for some years to come:4 vanity properly so called and a calculating ambition are not the mainsprings of action; if he obtains promotion, it is without asking for it; his aspiration is simply to display himself, to be lavish of himself and live or die courageously and gayly1 along with his comrades; to being considered, outside the service, the equal, friend and brother of his subordinates and of his chiefs. Pillage, nevertheless, has begun; for, a long continuance of war depraves the conqueror; brutality, indifference to property and to life grows on him; if callous, or he wishes to become so, he eats, drinks and enjoys the passing hour; if provident and wary, he scrapes together what he can or levies contributions and hoards money.—Under the Empire, and especially towards 1808 and 1809, the ideal figure degenerates still more; henceforth, it is the successful or the coming officer, with his rank and its accoutrements, his gold-embroidered uniform and badges, exercising authority over so many hundreds and thousands of men and enjoying a certain notable sum of regular salaries, besides other gratifications bestowed on him by the master, along with the profits he can make out of the vanquished.2 All that he now cares for is rapid promotion, and in any way, noble or ignoble, at first, of course, on the main road, that is to say, at a risk of his life and in uncalculating self-devotion, but likewise on a new road, in an affectation of zeal, in practising and professing blind obedience, in abandoning all political ideas, in devoting himself no longer to France, but to the sovereign: sympathy for his comrades gives way to harsh emulation; soldierly friendships, under the anticipation of advancement, die out. A vacancy due to death is for the benefit of survivors and they know it. “At Talavera,” says Stendhal, “two officers stood together at their battery, while a ball comes and the captain falls. ‘Good,’ says François, ‘now I shall be captain.’ ‘Not yet,’ says François, who was only stunned and who gets up on his feet. These two men were neither unfriendly nor inimical, only the lieutenant wanted to rise a step higher in rank.” And this sagacious observer adds: “Such was the furious egoism then styled love of glory and which, under this title, the Emperor had communicated to the French.”
The descent on this slope is rapid and low down. Each, at first, thinks of himself; the individual makes of himself a centre. The example, moreover, comes from above. Is it for France or for himself that Napoleon works?1 So many measureless enterprises, the conquest of Spain, the expedition into Russia, the installation of his brothers and relations on new thrones, the constant partition and rearrangement of Europe, all those incessant and more and more distant wars, is it for the public good and common safety that he accumulates them? What does he himself desire if not to push his fortunes still farther?—He is too much ambitious (trop ambitionnaire), say his own soldiers;2 and yet they follow him to the last. “We always marched along with him,” replied the old grenadiers,3 who had traversed Poland to penetrate into Russia; “we couldn’t abandon him this time and leave him alone by himself.”—But others who see him nearer by, those who stand first and next to him, do as he does; and, however high these have mounted, they want to mount still higher, or, otherwise, to keep their places, or, at least, provide for themselves and hold on to something substantial. Masséna has accumulated forty millions and Talleyrand sixty;1 in case of a political crash the money remains. Soult tried to have himself elected king of Portugal,2 and Bernadotte finds means to have himself elected king of Sweden. After Leipsic, Murat bargains with the allies, and, to retain his Neapolitan kingdom, he agrees to furnish a contingent against France; before the battle of Leipsic, Bernadotte is with the allies and fights with them against France. In 1814, Bernadotte and Joseph, each caring for himself, the former by intrigues and with the intriguers of the interior, also by feeling his way with the foreign sovereigns; while the latter, in the absence of Napoleon, by “singular efforts” and “assiduities” beforehand with Marie Louise, thinks of taking the place of the falling emperor.3 Prince Eugene alone, or almost alone, among the great personages of the reign, is really loyal, his loyalty remaining always intact, exempt from concealed motives and above suspicion. Everywhere else, the coming crash or sinister rumors are heard or anticipated; alarm descends from high places, spreads through the army and echoes along the lines of the lowest ranks. In 1815, the soldier has full confidence in himself and in Napoleon; “but he is moody, distrustful of his other leaders. . . . Every march incomprehensible to him makes him uneasy and he thinks himself betrayed.”4 At Waterloo, dragoons that pass him with their swords drawn and old corporals shout to the Emperor that Soult and Vandamme, who are at this moment about going into battle, are haranguing their troops against him or deserting him; that General Dhénin, who has repulsed a charge of the enemy and whose thigh is fractured by a cannon-ball, has just passed over to the enemy. The mechanism which, for fifteen years, has worked so well, breaks down of itself through its own action; its cog-wheels have got out of gear; cracks show themselves in the metal which seemed so sound; the divinations of popular instinct verify this; the exaggerations of the popular imagination expand it and suddenly the whole machine rattles down to the ground.
All this is due to Napoleon having introduced into it the craving for success as central motor, as the universal mainspring, unscrupulous ambition, in short, a crude egoism, and in the first place his own egoism, and this mainspring, strained to excess,1 puts the machine out of order and then ruins it. After him, under his successors, the same machinery is to work in the same manner, and break down in the same way, at the expiration of a more or less lengthened period. Thus far, the longest of these periods has lasted less than twenty years.
Rœderer, iii., 334 (August 6, 1800).
Stanislas Girardin, “Mémoires,” i., 273 (22 Thermidor, year x): “The only craving, the only sentiment in France, disturbed for so many years, is repose. Whatever secures this will gain its assent. Its inhabitants, accustomed to take an active part in all political questions, now seem to take no interest in them.”—Rœderer, iii., 484 (Report on the Sénatorerie of Caen, Dec. 1, 1803): “The people of the rural districts, busy with its new affairs, . . . are perfectly submissive, because they now find security for persons and property. . . . They show no enthusiasm for the monarch, but are full of respect for and trust in a gendarme; they stop and salute him on passing him on the roads.”
Rocquain, “l’État de la France au 18 Brumaire.” (Report by Barbé-Marbois, p. 72, 81.) Cash-boxes broken open and exclamations by the officers: “Money and fortune belong ‘o the brave. Let us help ourselves. Our accounts will be settled at the cannon’s mouth.”—“The subordinates,” adds Barbé-Marbois, “fully aware of their superior’s drafts on the public treasury, stipulate for their share of the booty; accustomed to exacting contributions from outside enemies, they are not averse to treating as conquered enemies the departments they were called upon to defend.”
Ibid. (Reports of Barbé-Marbois and Fourcroy while on their missions in the 12th and 13th military divisions, year ix., p. 158, on the tranquillity of La Vendée.) “I could have gone anywhere without an escort. During my stay in some of the villages I was not disturbed by any fear or suspicion whatever. . . . The tranquillity they now enjoy and the cessation of persecutions keep them from insurrection.”
Archives nationales, F7, 3273 (Reports by Gen. Ferino, Pluviôse, year ix, with a table of verdicts by the military commission since Floréal, year viii.) The commission mentions 53 assassinations, 3 rapes, 44 pillagings of houses, by brigands in Vauclose, Drôme, and the Lower Alps; 66 brigands taken in the act are shot, 87 after condemnation, and 6, who are wounded, die in the hospital.—Rocquain, ibid., p. 17, (Reports of Français, from Nantes, on his mission in the 8th military division.) “The South may be considered as purged by the destruction of about 200 brigands who have been shot. There remains only three or four bands of 7 or 8 men each.”
Three classes of insurrectionary peasants or marauders.—Tr.
Archives Nationales, F7, 7152 (on the prolongation of brigandage). Letter from Lhoste, agent, to the minister of justice, Lyons, Pluviôse 8, year viii. “The diligences are robbed every week.”—Ibid., F7, 3267, (Seine-et-Oise, bulletins of the military police and correspondence of the gendarmerie). Brumaire 25, year viii, attack on the Paris mail near Arpajon by 5 brigands armed with guns. Fructidor, year viii, at three o’clock p.m., a cart loaded with 10,860 francs sent by the collector at Mantes to the collector at Versailles is stopped near the Marly water-works, by 8 or 10 armed brigands on horseback.—Similar facts abound. It is evident that more than a year is required to put an end to brigandage.—It is always done by employing an impartial military force. (Rocquain, Ibid., p. 10.) “There are at Marseilles three companies of paid national guards, 60 men each, at a franc per man. The fund for this guard is supplied by a contribution of 5 francs a month paid by every man subject to this duty who wishes to be exempt. The officers . . . are all strangers in the country. Robberies, murders, and conflicts have ceased in Marseilles since the establishment of this guard.”
Archives Nationales, 3144 and 3145, No.1004. (Reports of the councillors of State on mission during the year ix, published by Rocquain, with omissions, among which is the following, in the report of François de Nantes.) “The steps taken by the mayors of Marseilles are sufficiently effective to enable an émigré under surveillance and just landed, to walk about Marseilles without being knocked down or knocking anybody else down, an alternative to which they have been thus far subject. And yet there are in this town nearly 500 men who have slaughtered with their own hands, or been the accomplices of slaughterers, at different times during the Revolution. . . . The inhabitants of this town are so accustomed to being annoyed and despoiled, and to being treated like those of a rebellious town or colony, that arbitrary power no longer frightens them, and they simply ask that their lives and property be protected against murderers and pillagers, and that things be entrusted to sure and impartial hands.”
Rœderer, iii., 481. (Report on the Sénatorerie of Caen, Germinal 2, year xiii.)—Faber, “Notice sur l’intérieur de la France” (1807), p. 110, 112. “Justice is one of the bright sides of France of to-day. It is costly, but it cannot be called venal.”
Rocquain, ibid., 19. (Report of François de Nantes on the 8th military division.) “For the past eighteen months a calm has prevailed here equal to that which existed before the Revolution. Balls and parties have been resumed in the towns, while the old dances of Provence, suspended for ten years, now gladden the people of the country.”
Proclamation to the French people, Dec. 15, 1799.
See “The Revolution,” vol. iii., p. 292. (Notes.)
Decision of the Council of State, Pluviôse 5, year viii (Jan. 25, 1800).
Forneron, “Histoire générale des émigrés,” ii., 374. In 1800, the army of Condé still comprised 1007 officers and 5840 volunteers.
Decrees of Brumaire 3, year iv, and of Frimaire 9, year vi. (Cf. “The Revolution,” pp. 433, 460.)
Constitution of Frimaire 22, year viii. (December 13, 1799), article 93. “The French nation declares that in no case will it suffer the return of the Frenchmen who, having abandoned their country since the 14th of July 1789, are not comprised in the exceptions made to the laws rendered against émigrés. It interdicts every new exception in this respect.”
Opinion of the Council of State, Decem. 25, 1799.
Resolution of Decem. 26, 1799.—Two ultra-Jacobins, exiled after Thermidor, are added to the list, Barère and Vadier, undoubtedly by way of compensation and not to let it appear that the scales inclined too much on one side.
Resolution of Decem. 30, 1799.
Resolutions of February 26, March 2, and March 3, 1800
Thibaudeau, “Mémoires sur le Consulat,” 199. (Stated by the First Consul at Regnault at a meeting of the council of state, Aug. 12, 1801.) “I am glad to hear the denunciation of striking off names. How many have you yourselves not asked for? It could not be otherwise. Everybody has some relation or friend on the lists.”
Thibaudeau, ibid. (Speech by the First Consul.) “Never have there been lists of émigrés;” there are only lists of absentees. The proof of this is that names have always been struck off. I have seen members of the Convention and even generals on the lists. Citizen Monge was inscribed.”
Thibaudeau, ibid., 97.—“The minister of police made a great hue and cry over the arrest and sending back of a few émigrés who returned without permission, or who annoyed the buyers of their property, while, at the same time, it granted surveillance to all who asked for it, paying no attention to the distinction made by the resolution of Vendémiaire 28.”
Sénatus-consulte of April 26, 1802.
Sénatus-consulte of April 26, 1802, title ii., articles 16 and 17.—Gaudin, Duc de Gaëte, “Mémoires,” i., 183. (Report on the administration of the Finances in 1803.) “The old proprietors have been reinstated in more than 20,000 hectares of forests.”
Thibaudeau, ibid., p. 98. (Speech of the First Consul, Thermidor 24, year ix.) “Some of the émigrés who have been pardoned are cutting down their forests, either from necessity or to send money abroad. I will not allow the worst enemies of the republic, the defenders of ancient prejudices, to recover their fortunes and despoil France. I am glad to welcome them back; but it is important that the nation should preserve its forests; the navy needs them.”
An arpen measures about an acre and a half.
Stourm, “Les Finances de l’ancien régime et de la révolution,” ii., 459 to 461.—(According to the figures appended to the projected law of 1825.)—This relates only to their patrimony in real estate; their personal estate was wholly swept away, at first through the abolition, without indemnity, of their available feudal rights under the Constituent and Legislative assemblies, and afterwards through the legal and forced transformation of their personal capital into national bonds (titres sur le grand-livre, rentes) which the final bankruptcy of the Directory reduced to almost nothing.
Pelet de la Lozère, “Opinions de Napoléon au conseil d’état” (March 15th and July 1st, 1806): “One of the most unjust effects of the revolution was to let an émigré, whose property was found to be sold, starve to death, and give back 100,000 crowns of rente to another whose property happened to be still in the hands of the government. How odd, again, to have returned unsold fields and to have kept the woods! It would have been better, starting from the legal forfeiture of all property, to return only 6000 francs of rente to one alone and distribute what remained among the rest.”
Léonce de Lavergne, “Économie rurale de la France,” p. 26. (According to the table of names with indemnities awarded by the law of 1825.)—Duc de Rovigo, “Mémoires,” iv., 400.
De Puymaigre, “Souvenirs de l’émigration de l’empire et de la restauration,” p. 94.
Pelet de la Lozère, ibid., p. 272.
De Puymaigre, ibid., passim.—Alexandrine des Écherolles, “Une famille noble pendant la Terreur,” pp. 328, 402, 408.—I add to published documents personal souvenirs and family narrations.
Duc de Rovigo, “Mémoires,” iv., 399. (On the provincial noblesse which had emigrated and returned.) “The First Consul quietly gave orders that none of the applications made by the large number of those who asked for minor situations in various branches of the administration should be rejected on account of emigration.”
M. de Vitrolles, “Mémoires.”—M. d’Haussonville, “Ma jeunesse,” p. 60: “One morning, my father learns that he has been appointed chamberlain, with a certain number of other persons belonging to the greatest families of the faubourg Saint-Germain.”
Madame de Rémusat, “Mémoires,” ii., 312, 315 and following pages, 373.—Madame de Staël, “Considérations sur la révolution française,” 4th part, ch. iv.
Rœderer, iii., 459. (Speech by Napoleon, December 30, 1802.)—“Very well, I do protect the nobles of France; but they must see that they need protection. . . . I give places to many of them; I restore them to public distinction and even to the honors of the drawing-room; but they feel that it is alone through my good will.—Ibid., iii., 558 (January 1809): “I repent daily of a mistake I have made in my government; the most serious one I ever made, and I perceive its bad effects every day. It was the giving back to the émigrés the totality of their possessions. I ought to have massed them in common and given each one simply the chance of an income of 6000 francs. As soon as I saw my mistake I withdrew from thirty to forty millions of forests; but far too many are still in the hands of a great number of them.”—We here see the attitude he would impose on them, that of clients and grateful pensioners. They do not stand in this attitude. (Rœderer, iii., 472. Report on the Sénatorerie of Caen, 1803.)—“The returned émigrés are not friendly nor even satisfied; their enjoyment of what they have recovered is less than their indignation at what they have lost. They speak of the amnesty without gratitude, and as only partial justice. . . . In other respects they appear submissive.”
Duc de Rovigo, “Mémoires,” v., 297. Towards the end, large numbers of the young nobles went into the army. “In 1812, there was not a marshal, or even a general, who had not some of these on his staff, or as aids-de-camp. Nearly all the cavalry regiments in the army were commanded by officers belonging to these families. They had already attracted notice in the infantry. All these young nobles had openly joined the emperor because they were easily influenced by love of glory.”
Madame de Rémusat ii., 299 (1806): “He began to surround himself about this time with so much ceremony that none of us had scarcely any intimate relations with him. . . . The court became more and more crowded and monotonous, each doing on the minute what he had to do. Nobody thought of venturing outside the brief series of ideas which are generated within the restricted circle of the same duties. . . . Increasing despotism, . . . fear of a reproof if one failed in the slightest particular, silence kept by us all. . . . There was no opportunity to indulge emotion or interchange any observation of the slightest importance.”
Rœderer, iii., 558 (January 1809).—“The Modern Régime,” ante, book i., ch. ii.
Madame de Rémusat, iii., 75, 155: “When the minister of police learned that jesting or malicious remarks had been made in one of the Paris drawing-rooms he at once notified the master or mistress of the house to be more watchful of their company.”—Ibid., p. 187 (1807): “The emperor censured M. Fouché for not having exercised stricter watchfulness. He exiled women, caused distinguished persons to be warned, and insinuated that, to avoid the consequences of his anger, steps must be taken to show that his power was recognized in atonement for the faults committed. In consequence of these hints many thought themselves obliged to be presented.”—Ibid., ii., 170, 212, 303.—Duc de Rovigo, “Mémoires,” iv., 311 and 393. “Appointed minister of police,” said he, “I inspired everybody with fear; each packed up his things; nothing was talked about but exiles, imprisonment and worse still.”—He took advantage of all this to recommend “everybody on his list who was inscribed as an enemy of the government” to be presented at court, and all, in fact, except stubborn “grandmothers” were presented.
Madame de Staël, “Considérations sur la révolution française” and “Dix ans d’exil.” Exile of Madame de Balbi, of Madame de Chevreuse, of Madame de Duras, of Madame d’Aveaux, of Madame de Staël, of Madame de Récamier, etc.—Duc de Rovigo, Ibid., iv., 389: “The first exiles dated from 1805; I think there were fourteen.”
Rœderer, iii., 472. (Report on the Sénatorerie of Caen, 1803.) The nobles “have no social relations either with citizens or with the public functionaries, except with the prefect of Caen and the general in command. . . . Their association with the prefect intimates their belief that they might need him. All pay their respects to the general of division; his mantelpiece is strewed with visiting-cards.”
Madame de la Rochejaquelein, “Mémoires,” 423: “We lived exposed to a tyranny which left us neither calm nor contentment. At one time a spy was placed amongst our servants, at another some of our relations would be exiled far from their homes, accused of exercising a charity which secured them too much affection from their neighbors. Sometimes, my husband would be obliged to go to Paris to explain his conduct. Again, a hunting-party would be represented as a meeting of Vendéans. Occasionally, we were blamed for going into Poitou because our influence was regarded as too dangerous; again, we were reproached for not living there and not exercising our influence in behalf of the conscription.”—Her brother-in-law, Auguste de la Rochejaquelein, invited to take service in the army, comes to Paris to present his objections. He is arrested, and at the end of two months “the minister signifies to him that he must remain a prisoner so long as he refuses to be a second-lieutenant.”
Sénatus-consulte of April 26, 1802: “Considering that this measure is merely one of pardon to the large number who are always more led astray than criminal . . . the amnestied will remain for ten years under a special government surveillance.” It may oblige each one “to leave his usual residence and go to a distance of twenty leagues, and even farther if circumstances demand it.”
Thiers, x., 41. (Letter to Fouché, Dec. 31, 1808, not inserted in the correspondence.)—“The Modern Régime,” book i., ch. ii.
Rocquain, “État de la France au 18 brumaire,” pp. 33, 189, 190. (Reports of Français de Nantes and of Fourcroy.)—“Statistique élémentaire de la France,” by Peuchet (according to a statement published by the minister of the interior, year ix), p. 260.—“Statistiques des préfets,” Aube, by Aubray, p. 23; Aisne, by Dauchet, p. 87; Lot-et-Garonne, by Pieyre, p. 45: “It is during the Revolution that the number of foundlings increased to this extraordinary extent by the too easy admission in the asylums of girls who had become mothers, along with their infants; through the passing sojourn of soldiers in their houses; through the subversion of every principle of religion and morality.”—Gers, by Balguerie: “Many defenders of the country became fathers before their departure. . . . The soldiers, on their return, maintained the habits of their conquests. . . . Many of the girls, besides, for lack of a husband took a lover.”—Moselle, by Colchen, p. 91: “Morals are more lax. In 1789, at Metz, there are 524 illegitimate births; in the year ix, 646; in 1789, 70 prostitutes; in the year ix, 260. There is the same increase of kept women.”—Peuchet, “Essai d’une statistique générale de la France,” year ix, p. 28. “The number of illegitimate births, from one forty-seventh in 1780, increased to nearly one eleventh of the total births, according to the comparative estimates of M. Necker and M. Mourgue.”
Rocquain, ibid., p. 93. (Report of Barbé-Marbois.)
“The Revolution,” lii., p. 416 (note), p. 471 (note).
“Statistiques des préfets,” Deux-Sèvres, by Dupin, p. 174: “Venereal diseases which, thanks to good habits, were still unknown in the country in 1789, are now spread throughout the Bocage and in all places where the troops have sojourned.”—“Dr. Delahay, at Parthenay, observes that the number of maniacs increased frightfully in the Reign of Terror.”
Decrees of March 19, 1793, and Messidor 23, year ii.—Decrees of Brumaire 2, year iv, and Vendémiaire 16, year v.
“Statistiques des préfets,” Rhone, by Verminac, year x. Income of the Lyons Asylums in 1789, 1,510,827 francs; to-day, 459,371 francs.—Indre, by Dalphonse, year xii. The principal asylum of Issoudun, founded in the twelfth century, had 27,939 francs revenue, on which it loses 16,232. Another asylum, that of the Incurables, loses, on an income of 12,062 francs, 7457 francs.—Eure, by Masson Saint-Amand, year xiii: “14 asylums and 3 small charity establishments in the department, with about 100,000 francs income in 1789, have lost at least 60,000 francs of it.—Vosges, by Desgouttes, year x: “10 asylums in the department. Most of these have been stripped of nearly the whole of their property and capital on account of the law of Messidor 23, year ii; on the suspension of the execution of this law, the property had been sold and the capital returned.—Cher, by Luçay: “15 asylums before the revolution; they remain almost wholly without resources through the loss of their possessions.—Lozère, by Jerphaniou, year x: “The property belonging to the asylums, either in real estate or state securities, has passed into other hands.”—Doubs, analysis by Ferrières: “Situation of the asylums much inferior to that of 1789, because they could not have property restored to them in proportion to the value of that which had been alienated. The asylum of Pontarlier lost one-half of its revenue through reimbursements in paper-money. All the property of the Ornans asylum has been sold,” etc.—Rocquain, p. 187. (Report by Fourcroy.) Asylums of Orne: their revenue, instead of 123,189 francs, is no more than 68,239.—Asylums of Calvados: they have lost 173,648 francs of income, there remains of this only 85,955 francs.—Passim, heart-rending details on the destitution of the asylums and their inmates, children, the sick and the infirm.—The figures by which I have tried to show the disproportion between requirements and resources are a minimum.
Abbé Allain, “l’Instruction primaire en France avant la Révolution,” and Albert Duruy, “l’Instruction publique et la Révolution,” passim.
“Statistique de l’enseignement primaire” (1880), ii., cciv. The proportion of instructed and uninstructed people has been ascertained in 79 departments, and at various periods, from 1680 down to the year 1876, according to the signatures on 1,699,985 marriage-records.—In the “Dictionnaire de pédagogie et d’instruction primaire,” published by M. Buisson, M. Maggiolo, director of these vast statistics, has given the proportion of literate and illiterate people for the different departments; now, from department to department, the figures furnished by the signatures on marriage-records correspond with sufficient exactness to the number of schools, verified moreover by pastoral visits and by other documents. The most illiterate departments are Cantal, Puy-de-Dome, Nièvre, Allier, Vienne, Haute Vienne, Deux-Sèvres, Vendée and the departments of Prittany.
Albert Duruy, ibid., p. 25. (According to the report of M. Villemain on common-school education in 1843.)—Abbé Allain, “la Question d’enseignement en 1789,” p. 88.—A. Silvy, “les Collèges en France avant la Révolution,” p. 5. The researches of M. Silvy show that the number of high-schools (collèges) given by M. Villemain is much too low: “The number of these schools under the ancient régime cannot be estimated at less than about 900. . . . I have ascertained 800. . . . I must add that my search is not yet finished and that I find new institutions every day.”
Lunet, “Histoire du collège de Rodez,” p. 110.—Edmond, “Histoire du collège de Louis-le-Grand,” p. 238.—“Statistiques des préfets,” Moselle. (Analysis by Ferrière, year xii.) Before 1789, 4 high-schools at Metz, very complete, conducted by regular canons, Benedictines, with 33 professors, 38 assistant teachers, 63 servants, 259 day-scholars and 217 boarders. All this was broken up. In the year ix there is only one central school, very inadequate, with 9 professors, 5 assistants, 3 servants and 233 day-scholars.
Albert Duruy, ibid., p. 25.
Lunet, ibid., p. 110.
“Statistiques des préfets,” Ain, by Bossi, p. 368. At Bourg, before the revolution, 220 pupils, of which 70 were boarders, 8000 livres income in real property confiscated during the revolution.—At Belley, the teachers consist of the congregationists of Saint-Joseph; 250 pupils, 9950 francs revenue from capital invested in the pays d’état, swept away by the revolution.—At Thoissy, 8000 francs rental of real property sold, etc.—Deux-Sèvres, by Dupin, year ix, and “analyse” by Ferrière, p. 48: “Previous to the revolution, each department town had its high-school.—At Thouars, 60 boarders at 300 livres per annum, and 40 day-scholars. At Niort, 80 boarders at 450 livres per annum, and 100 day-scholars”—Aisne, by Dauchy, p. 88. Before 1789, nearly all the small high-schools were gratuitous, and, in the large ones, there were scholarships open to competition. All their possessions, except large buildings, were alienated and sold, as well as those of the 60 communities in which girls were taught gratuitously.—Eure, by Masson Saint-Amand. Before 1789, 8 high-schools were suppressed and destroyed.—Drôme, by Collin, p. 66. Before the revolution, each town had its high-school,” etc.
Cf. Marmontel, “Mémoires,” i., 16, for details of these customs; M. Jules Simon found the same customs afterwards and describes them in the souvenirs of his youth,—La Chalotais, at the end of the reign of Louis XV., had already borne witness to the efficiency of the institution. “The people even want to study. Agriculturists and mechanics send their children to the schools in these small towns where living is cheap.”—This rapid spread of higher education contributed a good deal towards bringing on the revolution.
“Statistiques des préfets,” Indre, by Dalphonse, year xii, p. 104: “The universities, the colleges, the seminaries, the religious establishments, the free schools are all destroyed; vast plans only remain for a new system of education raised on their ruins. Nearly all of these rest unexecuted. . . . Primary schools have nowhere, one may say, been organized, and those which have been are so poor they had better not have been organized at all. With a pompous and costly system of public instruction, ten years have been lost for instruction.”
Moniteur, xxi., 644. (Session of Fructidor 19, year ii.) One of the members says: “It is very certain, and my colleagues see it with pain, that public instruction is null.”—Fourcroy: “Reading and writing are no longer taught.”—Albert Duruy, p. 208. (Report to the Directory executive, Germinal 13, year iv.) “For nearly six years no public instruction exists.”—De La Sicotière, “Histoire du collège d’Alençon,” p. 33: “In 1794, there were only two pupils in the college.”—Lunet, “Histoire du collège de Rodez,” p. 157: “The recitation-rooms remained empty of pupils and teachers from March 1793 to May 16, 1796.”—“Statistiques des préfets,” Eure, by Masson Saint-Amand, year xiii: “In the larger section of the department, school-houses existed with special endowments for teachers of both sexes. The school-houses have been alienated like other national domains; the endowments due to religious corporations or establishments have been extinguished.—As to girls, that portion of society has suffered an immense loss, relatively to its education, in the suppression of religious communities which provided them with an almost gratuitous and sufficiently steady instruction.”
My maternal grandmother learned how to read from a nun concealed in the cellar of the house.
Albert Duruy, ibid., 349. (Decree of the Directory, Pluviôse 17, year v, and circular of the minister Letourneur against free schools which are “dens of royalism and superstition.”—Hence the decrees of the authorities in the departments of Eure, Pas-de-Calais, Drôme, Mayenne and La Manche, closing these dens.) “From Thermidor 27, year vi, to Messidor 2, year vii, say the authorities of La Manche, we have revoked fifty-eight teachers on their denunciation by the municipalities and by popular clubs.”
Archives nationales, cartons 3144 to 3145, No. 104. (Reports of the Councillors of State on mission in the year ix.) Report by Lacuée on the first military division. Three central schools at Paris, one called the Quatre-Nations. “This school must be visited in order to form any idea of the state of destruction and dilapidation which all the national buildings are in. No repairs have been made since the reopening of the schools; everything is going to ruin. . . . Walls are down and the floors fallen in. To preserve the pupils from the risks which the occupation of these buildings hourly presents, it is necessary to give lessons in rooms which are very unhealthy on account of their small dimensions and dampness. In the drawing-class the papers and models in the portfolios become mouldy.”
Albert Duruy, ibid., 484. (“Procès-verbaux des conseils-généraux,” year ix,passim.)
Ibid., 476. (“Statistiques des préfets,” Sarthe, year x.) “Prejudices which it is difficult to overcome, as well on the stability of this school as on the morality of some of the teachers, prevented its being frequented for a time.”—483. (Procès-verbaux des conseils-généraux,” Bas-Rhin.) “The overthrow of religion has excited prejudices against the central schools.”—482. (Ibid., Lot.) “Most of the teachers in the central school took part in the revolution in a not very honorable way. Their reputation affects the success of their teaching. Their schools are deserted.”
Albert Duruy, ibid., 194. (According to the reports of 15 central schools, from the year vi to the year viii.) The average for each central school is for drawing, 89 pupils; for mathematics, 28; for the classics, 24; for physics, chemistry and natural history, 19; for general grammar, 5; for history, 10; for legislation, 8: for belles-lettres, 6.—Rocquain, ibid., p. 29. (Reports of Français de Nantes, on the departments of the South-east.) “There, as elsewhere, the courses on general grammar, on belles-lettres, history and legislation, are unfrequented. Those on mathematics, chemistry, Latin, and drawing are better attended, because these sciences open up lucrative careers.”—Ibid., p. 108. (Report by Barbé-Marboi on the Brittany departments.)
“Statistiques des préfets,” Meurthe, by Marquis, year xiii, p. 120. “In the communal schools of the rural districts, the fee was so small that the poorest families could contribute to the (teacher’s) salary. Assessments on the communal property, besides, helped almost everywhere in providing the teacher with a satisfactory salary, so that these functions were sought after and commonly well fulfilled. . . . Most of the villages had Sisters of Saint-Vincent de Paul for instructors, or others well known under the name of Vatelottes.”—“The partition of communal property, and the sale of that assigned to old endowments, had deprived the communes of resources which afforded a fair compensation to schoolmasters and schoolmistresses. The product of the additional centimes scarcely sufficed for administrative expenses.—Thus, there is but little else now than people without means, who take poorly compensated places; again, they neglect their schools just as soon as they see an opportunity to earn something elsewhere.”—Archives nationales, No. 1004, cartons 3044 and 3145. (Report of the councillors of state on mission in the year ix.—First military division, Report of Lacuée.) Aisne: “There is now no primary school according to legal institution.”—The situation is the same in Oise, also in Seine for the districts of Sceaux and Saint-Denis.
Albert Duruy, 178. (Report drawn up in the bureaux of the ministry of the interior, year viii.) “A detestable selection of those called instructors; almost everywhere, they are men without morals or education, who owe their nomination solely to a pretended civism, consisting of nothing but an insensibility to morality and propriety. . . . They affect an insolent contempt for the (old) religious opinions.”—Ibid., p. 497. (Procès-verbaux des conseils-généraux.) On primary school-teachers, Hérault: “Most are blockheads and vagabonds.”—Pas-de-Calais: “Most are blockheads or ignoramuses.”
Rocquain, 194. (Report by Fourcroy on the 14th military division, Manche, Orne, Calvados.) “Besides bad conduct, drunkenness, and the immorality of many of these teachers, it seems certain that the lack of instruction in religion is the principal motive which prevents parents from sending their children to these schools.”—Archives nationales, ibid. (Report by Lacuée on the 1st military division.) “The teachers, male and female, who desired to conform to the law of Brumaire 3 and to the different rules prescribed by the central administration, on placing the constitution and the rights of man in the hands of their pupils, found their schools abandoned one after the other. The schools the best attended are those where the Testament, the catechism, and the life of Christ are used. . . . The instructors, obliged to pursue the line marked out by the government, could not do otherwise than carry out the principles which opposed the prejudices and habits of the parents; hence their loss of credit, and the almost total desertion of the pupils.”
“The Revolution,” vol. iii., p. 81, note 2.
“Statistiques des préfets,” Moselle. (Analysis by Ferrière.) At Metz, in 1789, there were five free schools for young children, of which one was for boys and four for girls, kept by monks or nuns; in the year xii there were none: “An entire generation was given up to ignorance.” Ibid., Ain, by Bossi, 1808: “In 1800, there were scarcely any primary schools in the department, as in the rest of France.” In 1808, there are scarcely thirty.—Albert Duruy, p. 480, 496. (Procès-verbaux des conseils-généraux, year ix.) Vosges: “Scarcely any primary instruction.”—Sarthe: “Primary instruction, none.”—Meuse-Inférieure: “It is feared that in fifteen years or so there will not be one man in a hundred able to write,” etc.
These are the minimum figures, and they are arrived at through the following calculation. Before 1789, 47 men out of 100, and 26 women out of 100, that is to say 36 or 37 persons in 100, received primary instruction. Now, according to the census from 1876 to 1881 (official statistics of primary instruction, iii., xvi.), children from six to thirteen number about twelve per cent of the entire population. Accordingly, in 1789, out of a population of 26 millions, the children from 6 to 13 numbered 3,120,000, of whom 1,138,000 learned to read and write. It must be noted that, in 1800, the adult population had greatly diminished, and that the infantine population had largely increased. France, moreover, is enlarged by 12 departments (Belgium, Savoy, Comtat, Nice), where the old schools had equally perished.—If all the old schools had been kept up, it is probable that the children who would have had primary instruction would have numbered nearly 1,400,000.
Saint Thomas, “Summa theologica,” pars iii., questio 60 usque ad 85: “Sacramenta efficiunt quod figurant. . . . Sant necessaria ad salutem hominum. . . . Ab ipso verbo incarnata efficaciam habent. Ex sua institutione habent quod conferant gratiam. . . . Sacramentum est causa gratiæ, causa agens, principalis et instrumentalis.”
Except priests ordained by a bishop of the Greek church.
“The Revolution,” i. 161.—Archives nationales. (Reports of the Directory commissioners from the cantons and departments.—There are hundreds of these reports, of which the following are specimens.)—F7, 7108. (Canton of Passavent, Doubs, Ventôse 7, year iv.) “The sway of religious opinions is much more extensive here than before the revolution, because the mass of the people did not concern themselves about them, while nowadays they form among the generality the subject of conversation and complaint.”—F7, 7127. (Canton of Goux, Doubs, Pluviôse 13, year iv.) “The hunting down of unsworn priests, coupled with the dilapidation and destruction of the temples, displeased the people, who want a religion and a cult; the government became hateful to them.”—Ibid. (Dordogne, canton of Livrac, Ventôse 13, year iv.) “The demolition of altars, the closing of the churches, had rendered the people furious under the Tyranny.”—F7, 7129. (Seine-Inférieure, canton of Canteleu, Pluviôse 12, year iv.) “I knew enlightened men who, in the ancient régime, never went near a church, and yet who harbored refractory priests.”—Archives nationales, cartons 3144-3145, No. 1004. (Missions of the councillors of state in the year ix.) At this date, worship was everywhere established and spontaneously. (Report by Lacuée.) In Eure-et-Loire, “nearly every village has its church and minister; the temples are open in the towns and are well attended.”—In Seine-et Oise, “the Roman Catholic cult prevails in all the communes of the department.”—In Oise, “worship is carried on in all the communes of the department.”—In Loiret, “the churches are attended by the multitude almost as regularly as before 1788. One-sixth of the communes (only) have neither worship nor minister and, in these communes, both are strongly desired.”
Archives nationales, F7, 7129. (Tarn, canton of Vielmur, Germinal 10, year iv.) “The ignorant now regard patriot and brigand as synonymous.”
Archives nationales, F7, 7108. (Doubs, canton of Vercel, Pluviôse 20, year iv.) “Under the law of Prairial 11, the unsworn priests were all recalled by their former parishioners. Their hold on the people is so strong that there is no sacrifice that they will not make, no ruse nor measures that they will not employ to keep them and elude the rigor of the laws bearing on them.”—(Ibid., canton of Pontarlier, Pluviôse 3, year iv.) “In the primary assemblies, the aristocracy, together with spite, have induced the ignorant people not to accept the constitution except on condition of the recall of their transported or emigrant priests for the exercise of their worship.”—(Ibid., canton of Labergement, Pluviôse 14, year iv.) “The cultivators adore them. . . . I am the only citizen of my canton who, along with my family, offers up prayers to the Eternal without any intermediary.”—F7, 7127. (Côte-d’Or, canton of Beaune, Ventôse 5, year iv.) “Fanaticism is a power of great influence.”—(Ibid., canton of Frolois, Pluviôse 9, year iv.) “Two unsworn priests returned eighteen months ago; they are hidden away and hold nocturnal meetings. . . . They have seduced and corrupted at least three-quarters of the people of both sexes.”—(Ibid., canton of Ivry, Pluviôse 1, year iv.) “Fanaticism and popery have perverted the public mind.”—F7, 7119. (Puy-de-Dôme, canton of Ambert, Ventôse 15, year iv.) “Five returned priests have celebrated the mass here, and each time were followed by 3000 or 4000 persons.”—F7, 7127. (Dordogne, canton of Carlux, Pluviôse 18, year iv.) “The people are so attached to the Catholic faith, they walk fully two leagues to attend mass.”—F7, 7119. (Ardèche, canton of Saint-Barthélemy, Pluviôse 15, year iv.) “The unsubmissive priests have become absolute masters of popular opinion.”—(Orne, canton of Alençon, Ventôse 22, year iv.) “Presidents, members of the municipal councils, instead of arresting the refractory priests and bringing them into court, admit them to their table, lodge them and impart to them the secrets of the government.”—F7, 7129. (Seine-et-Oise, canton of Jouy, Pluviôse 8, year iv.) “Forty-nine out of fifty citizens seem to have the greatest desire to profess the Catholic faith.”—Ibid., canton of Dammartin, Pluviôse 7, year iv.) “The Catholic religion has full sway; those who do not accept it are frowned upon.”—At the same date (Pluviôse 9, year iv), the commissioner at Chamarande writes: “I see persons giving what they call blessed bread and yet having nothing to eat.”
Ibid., cartons 3144 and 3145, No. 1004, missions of the councillors of state, year ix.—(Report of Barbé-Marbois on Brittany.) “At Vannes, I entered the cathedral on the jour des Rois, where the constitutional mass was being celebrated; there were only one priest and two or three poor people there. A little farther on 1 found a large crowd barring the way in the street; these people could not enter a chapel which was already full and where the mass called for by the Catholics was being celebrated.—Elsewhere, the churches in the town were likewise deserted, and the people went to hear mass by a priest just arrived from England.”—(Report by Français de Nantes on Vaucluse and Provence.) One tenth of the population follows the constitutional priests; the rest follow the returned émigré priests; the latter have on their side the rich and influential portion of society.”—(Report of Lacuée on Paris and the seven surrounding departments.) “The situation of the unsubmissive priests is more advantageous than that of the submissive priests. . . . The latter are neglected and abandoned; it is not fashionable to join them. . . . (The former) are venerated by their adherents as martyrs; they excite tender interest, especially from the women.”
Archives nationales, cartons 3144 and 3145, No. 1004, missions of the councillors of state, year ix.—(Report by Lacuée.) “The wants of the people in this way seem at this moment to be confined. . . to a vain spectacle, to ceremonies: going to mass, the sermon and vespers, which is all very well; but confession, the communion, fasting, doing without meat, is not common anywhere. . . . In the country, where there are no priests, the village schoolmaster officiates, and people are content; they would prefer bells without priests rather than priests without bells.”—This regret for bells is very frequent and survives even in the cantons which are lukewarm.—(Creuse, Pluviôse 10, year iv.) “They persist in replanting the crosses which the priests have dug up; they put back the ropes to the bells which the magistrate has taken away.”
Archives nationales, cartons 3144 and 3145, No. 1004, missions of the councillors of state, year ix.—(Report by Fourcroy.) “The keeping of Sunday and the attendance on the churches, which is seen everywhere, shows that the mass of Frenchmen desire a return to ancient usages, and that the time has gone by for resisting this national tendency. . . . The mass of mankind require a religion, a system of worship and a priesthood. It is an error of certain modern philosophers, into which I have myself been led, to believe in the possibility of any instruction sufficiently widespread to destroy religious prejudices; they are a source of consolation for the vast number of the unfortunate. . . . Priests, altars and worship must accordingly be left to the mass of the people.”
Peuchet, “Statistique élémentaire de la France” (published in 1805), p. 228. According to statements furnished by prefects in the years ix and x, the population is 33,111,962 persons; the annexation of the island of Elbe and of Piedmont adds 1,864,350. Total, 34,976,313.—Pelet de la Lozère, p. 203. (Speech by Napoleon to the council of state, February 4, 1804, on the Protestant seminaries of Geneva and Strasbourg, and on the number of Protestants in his states.) “Their population numbers only 3 millions.”
Rœderer, iii., 330 (July 1800): “The First Consul spoke to me about the steps necessary to be taken to prevent the (émigrés) who had been struck off from getting back their possessions, in view of maintaining the interest in the revolution of about 1,200,000 purchasers of national domains.”—Rocquain, “État de la France au 18 Brumaire.” (Report by Barbé-Marbois on Morbihan, Finisterre, Ile-et-Vilaine, and Côtes-du-Nord, year ix.) “In every place I have just passed through the proprietors recognize that their existence is attached to that of the First Consul.”
Constitution of Frimaire 22, year viii, art. 94.—Article 93, moreover, declares that “the possessions of the émigrés are irrevocably acquired by the republic.”
Law of Floréal 29, year x, title 1st, article 8. The member also swears “to combat with all the means which justice, reason and the law authorize, every enterprise tending to restore the feudal régime,” and, consequently, feudal rights and tithes.
Organic Sénatus-consulte, Floréal 28, year xii (18th May 1804). Title vii., art. 53.
Rœderer, iii., 430-432 (April 4, 1802, May 1, 1802): “Defermon remarked to me yesterday, ‘This will all go on well as long as the First Consul lives; the day after his, death we shall all emigrate.’ ”—“Every one, from the sailor to the mechanic, says to himself, ‘All this is very well, but will it last? . . .—This work we undertake, this capital we risk, this house we build, these trees we plant, what will become of them if he dies?”
Ibid., 340. (Words of the First Consul, November 4, 1800.) “Who is the rich man to-day? The buyer of national domains, the contractor, the robber.”—These details, above, are provided for me by family narrations and souvenirs.
Napoleon, “Correspondance,” letter of September 5, 1795. “National and émigré property is not dear; patrimonies are priceless.”—Archives nationales, cartons 3144 to 3145, No. 1004, missions of the councillors of state, year ix. (Report by Lacuée on the seven departments of the division of the Seine.) “The proportion of value, in Seine, between national and patrimonial properties is from 8 to 15.”—In Eure, national property of every kind is sold about 10 per cent. off, and patrimonial at about 4 per cent. off. There are two sorts of national property, one of first origin (that of the clergy), and the other of second origin (that of the émigrés). The latter is much more depreciated than the former. Compared with patrimonial property, in Aisne, the former loses a fifth or a quarter of its value and the latter a third; in Loiret, the former loses a quarter and the latter one-half; in Seine-et-Oise the former loses one-third and the latter three-fifths; in Oise the former is at about par, the latter loses a quarter.—Rœderer, iii., 472 (December 1803). Depreciation of national property in Normandy: “But little is bought above 7 per cent. off; this, however, is the fate of this sort of property throughout France.”—Ibid., iii., 534 (January 1809): “In Normandy, investments on patrimonial property bring only 3 per cent., while State property brings 5 per cent.”—Moniteur (January 4, 1825). Report of M. de Martignac: “The confiscated property of the émigrés finds its purchasers with difficulty, and its commercial value is not in proportion to its real value.”—Duclosonge, former inspector of domains, “Moyens de porter les domaines nationaux à la valeur des biens patrimoniaux,” p. 7. “Since 1815, national property has generally been bought at a rate of income of 3 per cent. or, at the most, 4 per cent. The difference for this epoch is accordingly one-fifth, and even two-fifths.”
Treaty between the Pope and the French government, July 15, 1801. Ratifications exchanged September 1, 1801, and published with its articles April 8, 1802.—Article 13.
Ibid., article 14.
Articles organiques, 64, 65, 66.
Law of November 30, 1809, and opinion of the Council of State, May 19, 1811.
Articles organiques, 68.
Articles organiques, 71, 72.—Concordat, article 12.—Law passed July 26, 1803.
Councils of laymen entrusted with the administration of parish incomes.
Law of December 30, 1809, articles 39, 92 and following articles, 105 and following articles.
Law of September 15, 1807, title ix.
Concordat, article 15.—Articles organiques, 73.
Alexis Chevalier, “les Frères des écoles chrétiennes et l’Enseignement primaire après la révolution,” passim. (Act of Vendémiare 24 and Prairial 28, year xi, and Frimiaire 11, year xii; laws of May 14, 1806, March 7, 1808, February 17, 1809, Decem. 26, 1810.)
Alexis Chevalier, ibid., 189.
Ibid., p. 185 sequitur. (Decision of Aug. 8, 1803, of March 25, 1805, of May 30, 1806.)
Decree of June 22, 1804 (articles 1 and 4).—“Consultation sur les décrets du 29 Mars 1880,” by Edmond Rousse, p. 32. (Out of 54 communities, there were two of men, the “Pères du tiers-ordre de Saint-François” and the priests of “la Miséricorde,” one founded in 1806 and the other in 1808.)
“Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène.” Napoleon adds “that an empire like France may and must have some refuge for maniacs called Trappists.”—Pelet de la Lozère, p. 208. (Session of the council of state, May 22, 1804.) “My intention is to have the house of foreign missions restored; these monks will be of great use to me in Asia, Africa, and America. . . . I will give them a capital of 15,000 francs a year to begin with. . . . I shall also re-establish the ‘Sisters of Charity;’ I have already had them put in possession of their old buildings. I think it necessary also, whatever may be said of it, to re-establish the ‘Ignorantins.’ ”
Rœderer, iii., 481. (Sénatorerie of Caen, Germinal 17, year xiii.) Constant lamentations of bishops and most of the priests he has met. “A poor curé, an unfortunate curé. . . . The bishop invites you to dinner, to partake of the poor cheer of an unfortunate bishop on 12,000 francs salary.”—The episcopal palaces are superb, but their furniture is that of a village curé; one can scarcely find a chair in the finest room.—“The officiating priests have not yet found a fixed salary in any commune. . . . The peasants ardently longed for their usual mass and Sunday service as in the past, but to pay for this is another thing.”
Decrees of May 31 and Decem. 26, 1804, assigning to the Treasury the salaries of 24,000 and then 30,000 assistant-priests.
Charles Nicolas, “le Budget de la France depuis le commencement du XIXe siècle;” appropriation in 1807, 12,341,537 francs.
Decrees of Prairial 2, year xii, Nivôse 5, year xiii, and Sep. 30, 1807.—Decree of Decem. 30, 1809 (articles 37, 39, 40, 49 and ch. iv.)—Opinion of the council of state, May 19, 1811.
These are limited (articles organiques, 5): “All ecclesiastical functions are gratuitous except the authorized oblations fixed by the regulations.”
Articles organiques, 73.
Ibid., 74: “Real property other than dwellings with their adjoining gardens, shall not be held under ecclesiastical titles or possessed by ministers of worship by reason of their functions.”
Opinion of the Council of State, January 22, 1805, on the question whether the communes have become owners of the churches and parsonages abandoned to them by the law of Germinal 18, year x (articles organiques).—The Council of State is of the opinion that “the said churches and parsonages must be considered as communal property.” If the State renounces ownership in these buildings it is not in favor of the fabrique, curé or bishop, but in favor of the commune.
In 1790 and 1791 a number of communes had made offers for national property with a view to re-sell it afterwards, and much of this, remaining unsold, was on their hands.
Articles organiques, 26. “The bishops will make no ordination before submitting the number of persons to the government for its acceptance.”
“Archives de Grenoble.” (Documents communicated by Mdlle. de Franclieu.) Letter of the bishop, Monseigneur Claude Simon, to the Minister of Worship, April 18, 1809. “For seven years that I have been bishop of Grenoble, I have ordained thus far only eight priests; during this period I have lost at least one hundred and fifty. The survivors threaten me with a more rapid gap; either they are infirm, bent with the weight of years, or wearied or overworked. It is therefore urgent that I be authorized to confer sacred orders on those who are old enough and have the necessary instruction. Meanwhile, you are limited to asking authorization for the first eight on the aforesaid list, of whom the youngest is twenty-four. . . . I beg Your Excellency to present the others on this list for the authorization of His Imperial Majesty.”—Ibid., October 6, 1811. “I have only one deacon and one subdeacon, whilst I am losing three or four priests monthly.”
Articles organiques, 68, 69. “The pensions enjoyed by the curés by virtue of the laws of the constituent assembly shall be deducted from their salary. The vicars and assistants shall be taken from the pensioned ecclesiastics according to the laws of the constituent assembly. The amount of these pensions and the product of oblations shall constitute their salary.”
Laws of Vendémiaire 16, year v, and Ventôse 20, year v.
Decree of Novem. 6, 1800.
Decisions of February 23, 1801, and June 26, 1801. (We find, through subsequent decisions, that these recoveries were frequently effected.)
Law of Frimaire 7, year v (imposing one decime per franc above the cost of a ticket in every theatre for the benefit of the poor not in the asylums).—Also the decree of Decem. 9, 1809.—Decisions of Vendémiaire 27, year vii, and the restoration of the Paris octroi, “considering that the distress of the civil asylums and the interruption of succor at domiciles admit of no further delay.”—Also the law of Frimaire 19, year viii, with the addition of 2 decimes per franc to the octroi duties, established for the support of the asylums of the commune of Paris.—Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, “Traité de la science des finances,” i., 685. Many towns follow this example: “Two years had scarcely passed when there were 293 octrois in France.”
Law of Messidor 25, year v.—Alexis Chevalier, ibid., p. 185. (Decisions of Thermidor 20, year xi, and Germinal 4, year xiii.)—Law of Decem. 11, 1808 (article 1st.)
Albert Duruy, “l’Instruction publique et la Révolution,” p. 480 et seq. (“Procèsverbaux des conseils-généraux de l’an ix;” among others, the petitions from Gironde, Ile-et-Vilaine, Maine-et-Loire, Puy-de-Dôme, Haute-Saône, Haute Vienne, la Manche, Lot-et-Garonne, Sarthe, Aisne, Aude, Côte-d’Or, Pas-de-Calais, Basse-Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Orientales, and Lot.)
Alexis Chevalier, ibid., p. 182. (According to statistical returns of the parent-establishment, rue Oudinot.—These figures are probably too low.)
“Recueil des lois et règlemens sur l’enseignement supérieur,” by A. de Beauchamp, i., 65. (Report by Fourcroy, April 20, 1802.) “Old schools, since the suppression of upper schools and universities, have taken a new extension, and a pretty large number of private institutions have been formed for the literary education of the young.”
Ibid., 65 and 71. (Report by Fourcroy.) “As to the primary schools, the zeal of the municipalities must be aroused, the emulation of the functionaries excited, and charitable tendencies revived, so natural to the French heart and which will so promptly spring up when the religious respect of the government for local endowments becomes known.”
Ibid., p. 81. (Decree of May 1st, 1802, titles 2 and 9.—Decree of Septem. 17, 1808, article 23.)
“Histoire du collège des Bons-Enfans de l’université de Reims,” by abbé Cauly, p. 649.—The lycée of Reims, decreed May 6, 1802, was not opened until the 24th of September, 1803. The town was to furnish accommodations for 150 pupils. It spent nearly 200,000 francs to put buildings in order. . . . This sum was provided, on the one hand, by a voluntary subscription which realized 45,000 francs and, on the other hand, by an additional tax.
Law of May 1, 1802, articles 32, 33, and 34.—Guizot, “Essai sur l’instruction publique, i., 59. “Bonaparte maintained and brought up in the lycées, at his own expense and for his own advantage, about 3000 children . . . commonly selected from the sons of soldiers or from poor families.”—Fabry, “Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire de l’instruction publique,” iii., 802. “Children of soldiers whose wives lived in Paris, the sons of office-holders who were prevented by luxury from bringing up their families—such were the scholarships of Paris.”—“In the provinces, the employees in the tax- and post-offices, with other nomadic functionaries—such were the communal scholarships.”—Lunet, “Histoire du collège de Rodez,” 219, 224. Out of 150 scholarships, 87 are filled, on the average.
“Recueil,” etc., by A. de Beauchamp, 1, 171, 187, 192. (Law of September 17, 1808, article 27, and decision of April 7, 1809.)
Ibid. Masters of private schools and heads of institutions must pay additionally every year one-quarter of the sums above fixed. (Law of Spp. 17, 1808, article 25. Law of March 17, 1808, title 17.—Law of February 17, 1809.)
Ibid., i., 189. (Decree of March 24, 1808, on the endowment of the University.)
Emond, “Histoire du collège Louis-le-Grand,” p. 238. (This college, previous to 1789, enjoyed an income of 450,000 livres.)—Guizot, ibid., i., 62.—This college was maintained during the revolution under the name of the “Prytanée français” and received in 1800 the property of the University of Louvain. Many of its pupils enlisted in 1792, and were promised that their scholarships should be retained for them on their return; hence the military spirit of the “Prytanée.”—By virtue of a decree, March 5, 1806, a perpetual income of 400,000 francs was transferred to the Prytanée de Saint-Cyr. It is this income which, by the decree of March 24, 1818, becomes the endowment of the imperial University. Henceforth, the expenses of the Prytanée de Saint-Cyr are assigned to the war department.
Alexis Chevalier, ibid., p. 265. Allocution to the “Ignorantin” brethren.
“The Ancient Régime,” pp. 13-15.—“The Revolution,” iii., p. 54.—Alexis Chevalier, “Les Frères des écoles chrétiennes,” p. 341. “Before the revolution, the revenues of public instruction exceeded 30 millions.”—Peuchet, “Statistique élémentaire de la France” (published in 1805), p. 256. Revenue of the asylums and hospitals in the time of Necker, 40 millions, of which 23 are the annual income from real-estate and 17 provided by personal property, contracts, the public funds, and a portion from octrois, etc.
D’Haussônville, “l’Église romaine et le premier Empire,” vol. iv. et v., passim—Ibid., iii., 370, 375. (13 Italian cardinals and 19 bishops of the Roman states are transported and assigned places in France, as well as many of their grand-vicars and chanoines; about the same date over 200 Italian priests are banished to Corsica).—v., 181. (July 12, 1811, the bishops of Troyes, Tournay and Ghent are sent to Vincennes.)—v., 286. (236 pupils in the Ghent seminary are enrolled in an artillery brigade and sent off to Wesel, where about fifty of them die in the hospital.)—“Mémoires,” by M. X——, iv., 358. (Numbers of Belgian priests confined in the castles of Ham, Bouillon and Pierre-Châtel were set free after the Restoration.)
Decree of November 15, 1811, art. 28, 29, and 30. (Owing to M. de Fontanes, the small seminaries were not all closed, many of them, 41, still existing in 1815.)
Collection of laws and decrees, passim, after 1802.
Documents furnished by M. Alexis Chevalier, former director of public charities. The total amount of legacies and bequests is as follows: 1st. Asylums and hospitals, from January 1, 1800, to December 31, 1845, 72,593,360 francs; from January 1, 1846, to December 31, 1855, 37,107,812; from January 1, 1856, to December 31, 1877, 121,197,774—in all, 230,898,346 francs.—2d. Charity bureaux. From January 1, 1800, to December 31, 1845, 49,911,090; from January 1, 1846, to December 31, 1873, 115,629,925; from January 1, 1874, to December 31, 1877, 19,261,065—in all, 184,802,080 francs. Sum total, 415,701,026 francs.
According to the statements of M. de Watteville and M. de Gasparin.
Report by Fourcroy, annexed to the exposition of the empire and presented to the Corps Législatif, March 5, 1806.
“Coup d’œil général sur l’éducation et l’instruction publique en France,” by Basset, censor of studies at Charlemagne college (1816),—p. 21.
“Statistique de l’enseignement primaire,” ii., cciv. (From 1786 to 1789, 47 out of 100 married men and 26 married women out of a hundred signed their marriage contract. From 1816 to 1820, the figures show 54 husbands and 34 wives.)—Morris Birbeck, “Notes of a Journey through France in July, August and September 1814.” p. 3 (London, 1815). “I am told that all the children of the laboring classes learn to read, and are generally instructed by their parents.”
Madame de Rémusat, i., 243. (Journey in the north of France and in Belgium with the First Consul, 1803.) “On journeys of this kind he was in the habit, after obtaining information about the public buildings a town needed, to order them as he passed along, and, for this munificence, he bore away the blessings of the people.”—Some time after this a letter came from the minister of the interior: “In conformity with the favor extended to you by the First Consul (later, emperor) you are required, citizen mayor, to order the construction of this or that building, taking care to charge the expenses on the funds of your commune,” and which the prefect of the department obliges him to do, even when available funds are exhausted or otherwise applied.
Thiers, viii., 117 (August 1807) and 124. 13,400 leagues of highways were undertaken or repaired; 10 canals were undertaken or continued, at the expense of the public treasury; 32 departments contribute to the expense of these through the extra centimes tax, which is imposed on them. The State and the department, on the average, contribute each one-half.—Among the material evils caused by the Revolution, the most striking and the most seriously felt was the abandonment and running down of roads which had become impracticable, also the still more formidable degeneracy of the dikes and barriers against rivers and the sea. (Cf. in Rocquain, “État de la France au 18 Brumaire,” the reports of Français de Nantes, Fourcroy, Barbeé-Marbois, etc.)—The Directory had imagined barrriers with toll-gates on each road to provide expenses, which brought in scarcely 16 millions to offset 30 and 35 millions of expenditure. Napoleon substitutes for these tolls the product of the salt-tax. (Decree of April 24, 1806, art. 59.)
“Mémoires,” by M. X——, i., 380. “Scarcely two or three highways remained in decent order. . . . Navigation on the rivers and canals became impossible. Public buildings and monuments were everywhere falling to ruin. . . . If the rapidity of destruction was prodigious, that of restoration was no less so.”
“The Ancient Régime,” book ii., ch. 2, 3, 4, and book v.
La Bruyère is, I believe, the first of these precursors. Cf. his chapters on “The Great,” on “Personal Merit,” on “The Sovereign and the Republic,” and his chapter on “Man,” his passages on “The Peasants,” on “Provincial Notes,” etc. These appeals, later on, excite the applause given to the “Marriage of Figaro.” But, in the anticipatory indictment, they strike deeper; there is no gayety in them, the dominant sentiment being one of sadness, resignation, and bitterness.
“Discours prononcé par l’ordre du roi et en sa présence, le 22 février 1787,” by M. de Calonne, contrôleur-général, p. 22. “What remains then to fill this fearful void (in the finances)? Abuses. The abuses now demanding suppression for the public weal are the most considerable and the best protected, those that are the deepest rooted and which send out the most branches. They are the abuses which weigh most heavily on the working and producing classes, the abuses of financial privileges, the exceptions to the common law and to so many unjust exemptions which relieve only a portion of the taxpayers by aggravating the lot of the others; general inequality in the distribution of subsidies and the enormous disproportion which exists in the taxation of different provinces and among the offices filled by subjects of the same sovereign; severity and arbitrariness in the collection of the taille; bureaux of internal transportation, and obstacles that render different parts of the same kingdom strangers to each other; rights that discourage industry; those of which the collection requires excessive expenditure and innumerable collectors.”
De Ségur, “Mémoires,” iii., 591. In 1791, in his return from Russia, his brother says to him, speaking of the Revolution: “Everybody, at first, wanted it. . . . From the king down to the most insignificant man in the kingdom, everybody did something to help it along; one let it come on up to his shoe-buckle, another up to his garter, another to his waist, another to his breast, and some will not be content until their head is attacked!”
“The Revolution,” pp. 271-279. Stourm, “Les Finances de l’ancien régime et de la Révolution,” i., 171 to 177.—(Report by Ramel, January 31, 1796.) “One would scarcely believe it—the holders of real-estate now owe the public treasury over 13 milliards.”—(Report by Gaudin, Germinal, year x, on the assessment and collection of direct taxes.) “This state of things constituted a permanent, annual deficit of 200 millions.”
“The Ancient Régime,” p. 99, and “The Revolution,” p. 407. (About 1,200 millions per annum in bread for Paris, instead of 45 millions for the civil and military household of the King at Versailles.)
“The Ancient Régime,” p. 68.—Madame Campan, “Mémoires,” i., 291, 292.
“The Revolution,” ii., 151, and iii., 500.
“Mémorial,” (Napoleon’s own words.) “The day when, adopting the unity and concentration of power, which could alone save us, . . . the destinies of France depended solely on the character, measures and conscience of him who had been clothed with this accidental dictatorship—beginning with that day, public affairs, that is to say the State, was myself. . . . I was the keystone of an entirely new building, and how slight the foundation! Its destiny depended on each of my battles. Had I been defeated at Marengo you would have then had a complete 1814 and 1815.”
Beugnot, “Mémoires,” ii., 317. “To be dressed, taxed, and ordered to take up arms, like most folks, seemed a punishment as soon as one had found a privilege within reach,” such, for example, as the title of “déchireur de bateaux” (one who condemns unseaworthy craft and profits by it), or inspector of fresh butter (using his fingers in tasting it), or tide-waiter and inspector of salt fish. These titles raised a man above the common level, and there were over twenty thousand of them.
See “The Ancient Régime,” p. 129.
Madame de Rémusat, “Mémoires,” iii., 316, 317.
De Beausset, “Intérieur du palais de Napoléon” i., p. 9 et seq. For the year 1805 the total expense is 2,338,167 francs; for the year 1806 it reaches 2,770,861 francs, because funds were assigned “for the annual augmentation of plate, 1,000 silver plates and other objects.”—“Napoleon knew, every New Year’s day, what he expended (for his household) and nobody ever dared overpass the credits he allowed.”
“The Ancient Régime,” pp. 350-357.
“The Revolution,” pp. 276-281.—Stourm, ibid., 168-171. (Speech by Bénard-Lagrave to the Five Hundred, Pluviôse 11, year iv.) “It cannot be concealed that, for many years, people were willingly accustoming themselves to the non-payment of taxes.”
Stourm, ibid., ii., 365. (Speech of Ozanam to the Five Hundred, Pluviôse 14, year vii.) “Scandalous traffic. . . . Most of the (tax) collectors in the republic are heads and managers of banks.”—(Circular of the minister of the finances, Floréal 25 year vii.) “Stock-jobbing of the worst kind to which many collectors give themselves, up, using bonds and other public securities received in payment of taxes.”—(Report by Gros-Cassaud Florimond, Sep. 19, 1799.) “Among the corruptible and corrupting agents there are only too many public functionaries.”—Mollien, “Mémoires,” i., 222. (In 1800, he had just been appointed director of the sinking-fund.) “The commonplace compliment which was everywhere paid to me (and even by statesmen who affected the sternest morality) was as follows—you are very fortunate to have an office in which one may legitimately accumulate the largest fortune in France.”—Cf. Rocquain, “État de la France au 18 Brumaire.” (Reports by Lacuée, Fourcroy and Barbé-Marbois.)
Charlotte de Sohr, “Napoléon en Belgique et en Hollande,” 1811, vol. i., 243. (On a high functionary condemned for forgery and whom Napoleon kept in prison in spite of every solicitation.) “Never will I pardon those who squander the public funds. . . . Ah! parbleu! We should have the good old times of the contractors worse than ever if I did not show myself inexorable for odious crimes.”
Stourm, ibid., i., 177. (Report by Gaudin, Sep. 15, 1799.) “A few (tax) rolls for the year v, and one-third of those for the year vii, are behindhand.”—(Report by the same, Germinal 1, year x.) “Everything remained to do, on the advent of the consulate, for the assessment and collection of direct taxes; 35,000 rolls for the year vii still remained to be drawn up. With the help of the new office, the rolls for the year vii have been completed; those of the year viii were made out as promptly as could be expected, and those of the year ix have been prepared with a despatch which, for the first time since the revolution, enables the collections to be begun in the very year to which they belong.”
“Archives parlementaires,” viii., p. 11. (Report by Necker to the States-General, May 5, 1789.) “These two-fifths, although legitimately due to the king, are always in arrears. . . . (To-day) these arrears amount in full to about 80 millions.”
De Foville, “la France économique,” p. 354.
“The Ancient Régime,” p. 354.
Necker, “De l’administration des finances,” i., 164, and “Rapport aux états-généraux,” May 5th, 1789. (We arrive at these figures, 179 millions, by combining these documents, on both sides, with the observation that the 3d vingtième is suppressed in 1789.)
Charles Nicolas, “les Budgets de la France depuis le commencement du xixème siècle” (in tabular form).—De Foville, ibid., 356.—In the year ix, the sum-total of direct taxes is 308 millions; in the year xi, 360, and in the year xii, 376. The total income from real-estate in France towards 1800 is 1,500 millions.
It is only after 1816 that the total of each of the four direct taxes can be got at (land, individual, personal, doors and windows). In 1821, the land-tax amounts to 265 millions, and the three others together to 67 millions. Taking the sum of 1,580 millions, estimated by the government as the net revenue at this date in France, we find that, out of this revenue, 16.77 per cent. is deducted for land, and that, with the other three, it then abstracts from the same revenue 21 per cent.—On the contrary, before 1789, the five corresponding direct taxes, added to tithes and feudal privileges, abstracted 81.71 per cent. from the net income of the taxable party. (Cf. “The Ancient Régime,” pp. 346, 347, 351 et seq.)
These figures are capital, and measure the distance which separates the old from the new condition of the laboring and poor class, especially in the rural districts; hence the tenacious sentiments and judgments of the people with respect to the Ancient Régime, the Revolution and the Empire.—All local information converges in this sense. I have verified the above figures as well as I could: 1st, by the “Statistiques des préfets,” of the year ix and year xiii and afterwards (printed); 2d, by the reports of the councillors of state on mission during the year ix (published by Rocquain, and in manuscript in the Archives nationales); 3d, by the reports of the senators on their sénatoreries and by the prefects on their departments, in 1806, 1809, 1812, 1814 and 1815, and from 1818 to 1823 (in manuscript in the Archives nationales); 4th, by the observations of foreigners travelling in France from 1802 to 1815.—For example (“A Tour through several of the Middle and Western Departments of France,” 1802, p. 23): “There are no tithes, no church taxes, no taxation of the poor. . . . All the taxes together do not go beyond one-sixth of a man’s rent-roll, that is to say, three shillings and sixpence on the pound sterling.”—(“Travels in the South of France, 1807 and 1808,” by Lieutenant-Colonel Pinkney, citizen of the United States, p. 162.) At Tours a two-story house, with six or eight windows on the front, a stable, carriage-house, garden and orchard, rents at £20 sterling per annum, with the taxes which are from £1,10, to £2, for the state and about ten shillings for the commune.—(“Notes on a Journey through July, August and September, 1814,” by Morris Birkbeck, p. 28.) Near Cosne (Orléanais), an estate of 1,000 acres of tillable land and 500 acres of woods is rented for nine years, for about 9,000 francs a year, together with the taxes, about 1,600 francs more.—(Ibid., p. 91.) “Visited the Brie. Well cultivated on the old system, of wheat, oats and fallow. Average rent 16 francs the acre with taxes, which are about one-fifth of the rent.”—Roederer, iii., 474 (on the sénatorerie of Caen, Decem. 1, 1803): “The direct tax is here in very moderate proportion to the income, it being paid without much inconvenience.”—The travellers above quoted and many others are unanimous in stating the new prosperity of the peasant, the cultivation of the entire soil and the abundance and cheapness of provisions. (Morris Birkbeck, p. 11.) “Everybody assures me that the riches and comfort of the cultivators of the soil have been doubled since twenty-five years.” (Ibid., p. 43, at Tournon-surle-Rhône.) “I had no conception of a country so entirely cultivated as we have found from Dieppe to this place.”—(Ibid., p. 51, at Montpellier.) “From Dieppe to this place we have not seen among the laboring people one such famished, worn-out, wretched object as may be met in every parish of England, I had almost said on almost every farm. . . . A really rich country, and yet there are few rich individuals.”—Robert, “De l’Influence de la révolution sur la population, 1802,” p. 41. “Since the Revolution I have noticed in the little village of Sainte-Tulle that the consumption of meat has doubled; the peasants who formerly lived on sait pork and ate beef only at Easter and at Christmas, frequently enjoy á pot-à-feu during the week, and have given up rye-bread for wheat-bread.”
The sum of 1 fr. 15 for a day’s manual labor is an average, derived from the statistics furnished by the prefects of the year ix to the year xiii, especially for Charente, Deux-Sèvres, Meurthe, Moselle and Doubs.
“The Ancient Régime,” p. 353.
Arthur Young, ii., 259. (Average rate for a day’s work throughout France in 1789.)
About 15 millions out of 26 millions, in the opinion of Mallet-Dupan and other observers.—Towards the middle of the 18th century, in a population estimated at 20 millions, Voltaire reckons that “many inhabitants possess only the value of 10 crowns rental, that others have only 4 or 5, and that more than 6 millions of inhabitants have nothing.” (“L’homme aux quarante écus.”)—A little later, Chamfort (i., 178) adds: “It is an incontestable truth that, in France, 7 millions of men beg, and 12 millions of men are incapable of giving anything.”
Law of Floréal 3, year x, title ii, articles 13, 14, § 3 and 4.
Charles Nicolas, ibid.—In 1821, the personal and poll tax yields 46 millions; the tax on doors and windows, 21 millions: total, 67 millions. According to these sums we see that, if the recipient of 100 francs income from real-estate pays 16 fr. 77 real-estate tax, he pays only 4 fr. 01 for his three other direct taxes.—These figures, 6 to 7 francs, can nowadays be arrived at through direct observation.—To omit nothing, the assessment in kind, renewed in principle after 1802 on all parish and departmental roads, should be added; this tax, demanded by rural interests, laid by local authorities, adapted to the accommodation of the taxpayer, and at once accepted by the inhabitants, has nothing in common with the former corvée, save in appearance; in fact, it is as easy as the corvée was burdensome. (Stourm, i., 122.)
Charles Nicolas, “Les Budgets de la France depuis le commencement du xixe Siècle,” and de Foville, “La France économique,” p. 365, 373.—Returns of licenses in 1816, 40 millions; in 1820, 22 millions; in 1860, 80 millions; in 1887, 171 millions.
The mutation tax is that levied in France on all property transmitted by inheritance, or which changes hands through formal sale (other than in ordinary business transactions), as in the case of transfers of real-estate, effected through purchase or sale. Timbre designates stamp duties imposed on the various kinds of legal documents.—Tr.
Ibid. Returns of the mutation tax (registration and timbre). Registration in 1820, 127 millions; in 1860, 306 millions; in 1886, 518 millions.—Timbre, in 1820, 26 millions; in 1860, 56 millions; in 1886, 156 millions. Sum-total in 1886, 674 millions.—The rate of corresponding taxes under the ancient régime (contrôle, insinuation centième denier, formule) was very much lower; the principal one, or tax of centième denier, took only 1 per 100, and on the mutations of real-estate. This mutation tax is the only one rendered worse; it was immediately aggravated by the Constituant Assembly, and it is rendered all the more exorbitant on successions in which liabilities are not deducted from assets. (That is to say, the inheritor of an indebted estate in France must pay a mutation tax on its full value. He has the privilege, however, of renouncing the estate if he does not choose to accept it along with its indebtedness.)—The taxpayer’s resignation to this tax is explained by the exchequer collecting it at a unique moment, when proprietorship just comes into being or is just at the point of birth. In effect, if property changes hands under inheritance or through free donation it is probable that the new owner, suddenly enriched, will be only too glad to enter into possession of it, and not object to an impost which, although taking about a tenth, still leaves him only a little less wealthy. When property is transferred by contract or sale, neither of the contracting parties, probably, sees clearly which pays the fiscal tax; the seller may think that it is the buyer, and the buyer that it is the seller. Owing to this illusion both are less sensible of the shearing, each offering his own back in the belief that it is the back of the other.
See “The Ancient Régime,” pp. 358-362.
See “The Revolution,” vol. i., pp. 16, 38.
Decree of Oct. 31-Nov. 5, 1789, abolishing the boundary taxes between the provinces and suppressing all the collection offices in the kingdom.—Decree of 21-30 March 1790, abolishing the salt-tax. Decree of 1-17 March 1791, abolishing all taxes on liquors, and decree of 19-25 Feb. 1791, abolishing all octroi taxes.—Decree of 20-27 March 1791, in relation to freedom of growing, manufacturing and selling tobacco; customs-duties on the importation of leaf-tobacco alone are maintained, and give but an insignificant revenue, from 1,500,000 to 1,800,000 francs in the year v.
Gaudin, Duc de Gaëte, “Mémoires,” i., 215-217.—The advantages of indirect taxation are well explained by Gaudin. “The taxpayer pays only when he is willing and has the means. On the other hand, the duties imposed by the exchequer being confounded with the price of the article, the taxpayer, in paying, his debt, thinks only of satisfying a want or of procuring an enjoyment.”—Decrees of March 16 and 27, and May 4, 1806 (on salt), of February 25, 1804, April 24, 1806, Novem. 25, 1808 (on liquors), May 19, 1802, March 6, 1804, April 24, 1806, Decem. 29, 1810 (on tobacco).
Letrosne, “De l’administration des finances et de la réforme de l’impôt” (1779), pp. 148, 162.—Laboulaye, “De l’administration française sous Louis XVI.” (Revue des cours littéraires, 1864-1865, p. 677). “I believe that, under Louis XIII., they took at least five and, under Louis XIV, four to get two.”
Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, “Traité de la science des finances,” i., 261. (In 1875, these costs amount to 5.20 per cent.)—De Foville, ibid. (Cost of customs and salt-tax, in 1828, 16.2 per cent; in 1876, 10.2 per cent.—Cost of indirect taxation, in 1828, 14.90 per cent; in 1876, 3.7 per cent.)—De Calonné, “Collection des mémoires présentés à l’assemblée des notables,” 1787, p. 63.
See “The Ancient Régime,” p. 23, 370.—“The Revolution,” i., 10, 16, 17.
See “The Ancient Régime,” p. 361.
Leroy-Beaulieu, ibid., i., 643.
Decrees of November 25, 1808, and December 8, 1824.
Certain persons under the ancient régime enjoyed an exemption from the tax on salt.
Stourm, i., 360, 389.—De Foville, 382, 385, 398.
These figures are given by Gaudin.
Thiers, xiii., pp. 20 to 25.
Lafayette, “Mémoires.” (Letter of October 17, 1779, and notes made in Auvergne, August 1800.) “You know how many beggars there were, people dying of hunger in our country. We see no more of them. The peasants are richer, the land better tilled and the women better clad.”—“The Ancient Régime,” 340, 341, 342.—“The Revolution,” iii., p. 366, 402.
“The Ancient Régime,” p. 340.—“The Revolution,” iii., 212.
These two famines were due to inclement seasons and were aggravated, the last one by the consequences of invasion and the necessity of supporting 150,000 foreign troops, and the former by the course taken by Napoleon who applies the maximum afresh, with the same intermeddling, the same despotism and the same failure as under the Convention. (“Mémoires,” by M. X——, iii., 251-335.) “I do not exaggerate in stating that our operations in the purchase and transport (of grain) required a full quarter of the time, and often one-third, more than would have been required in commerce.”—Prolongation of the famine in Normandy. “Bands of famished beggars overran the country. . . . Riots and pillaging around Caen; several mills burnt. . . . Suppression of these by the imperial guard. In the executions which resulted from these even women were not spared.”—The two principal guarantees at the present day against this public danger are, first, easier circumstances, and next the multiplication of good roads and of railroads, the despatch and cheapness of transportation, and the superabundant crops of Russia and the United States.
J. Gebelin, “Histoire des milices provinciales” (1882), p. 87, 143, 157, 288.—Most of the texts and details may be found in this excellent work.—Many towns, Paris, Lyons, Reims, Rouen, Bordeaux, Tours, Agen, Sedan and the two generalities of Flanders and Hainault are examples of drawing by lot; they furnished their contingent by volunteers enlisted at their own expense; the merchants and artisans, or the community itself, paying the bounty for enlistment. Besides this there were many exemptions in the lower class. (Cf. “The Ancient Régime,” p. 390.)
J. Gebelin, ibid., 239, 279, 288. (Except the eight regiments of royal grenadiers in the militia who turned out for one month in the year.)
Example afforded by one department. (“Statistics of Ain,” by Rossi, prefect, 1808.) Number of soldiers on duty in the department, in 1789, 323; in 1801, 6,729; in 1806, 6,764.—“The department of Ain furnished nearly 30,000 men to the armies, conscripts and those under requisition.”—It is noticeable, consequently, that in the population of 1801, there is a sensible diminution of persons between twenty and thirty and, in the population of 1806, of those between twenty-five and thirty-five years of age. The number between twenty and thirty is as follows: in 1789, 39,828; in 1801, 35,648; in 1806, 34,083.
De Dammartin. “Evénemens qui se sont passés sous mes yeux pendant la révolution française,” v. ii. (State of the French army, Jan. 1, 1789.) Total on a peace footing, 177,890 men.—This is the nominal force; the real force under arms was 154,000; in March 1791, it had fallen to 115,000, through the multitude of desertions and the scarcity of enlistments. (Yung, “Dubois-Crancé et la Révolution,” i., 158. Speech by Dubois-Crancé.)
“The Ancient Régime,” p. 390, 391.—“The Revolution,” p. 328-330.—Albert Babeau, “le Recrutement militaire sous l’ancien régime.” (In “la Réforme sociale” of Sept. 1, 1888, p. 229, 238.)—An officer says, “only the rabble are enlisted because it is cheaper.”—Yung, ibid., i., 32. (Speech by M. de Liancourt in the tribune.) “The soldier is classed apart and is too little esteemed.”—Ibid., p. 39. (“Vices et abus de la constitution actuelle française,” memorial signed by officers in most of the regiments, Sept. 6, 1789.) “The majority of soldiers are derived from the offscourings of the large towns and are men without occupation.”
Gebelin, p. 270. Almost all the cahters of the third-estate in 1789 demand the abolition of drafting by lot, and nearly all of those of the three orders are for volunteer service, as opposed to obligatory service; most of these demand, for the army, a volunteer militia enlisted through a bounty; this bounty or security in money to be furnished by communities of inhabitants which, in fact, was already the case in several towns.
Albert Babeau, ibid., 238. “Colonels were allowed only 100 francs per man; this sum, however, being insufficient, the balance was assessed on the pay of the officers.”
This principle was at once adopted by the Jacobins. (Yung, ibid., 19, 22, 145. Speech by Dubois-Crancé at the session held Dec. 12, 1789.) “Every citizen will become a soldier of the Constitution.” No more casting lots nor substitution. “Each citizen must be a soldier and each soldier a citizen.”—The first application of the principle is a call for 300,000 men (Feb. 26, 1793), then through a levy on the masses which brings 500,000 men under the flag, nominally volunteers, but conscripts in reality. (Baron Poisson, “l’Armée et la Garde Nationale,” iii, 475.)
Baron Poisson, “l’Armée et la Garde nationale,” iii., 475. (Summing up.) “Popular tradition has converted the volunteer of the Republic into a conventional personage which history cannot accept. . . . 1st. The first contingent of volunteers demanded of the country consisted of 97,000 men (1791). 60,000 enthusiasts responded to the call, enlisted for a year and fulfilled their engagement; but for no consideration would they remain longer. 2d. Second call for volunteers in April 1792. Only mixed levies, partial, raised by money, most of them even without occupation, outcasts and unable to withstand the enemy. 3d. 300,000 men recruited, which measure partly fails; the recruit can always get off by furnishing a substitute. 4. Levy in mass of 500,000 men, called volunteers, but really conscripts.”
“Mémorial” (Speech by Napoleon before the Council of State). “I am inflexible on exemptions; they would be crimes; how relieve one’s conscience of having caused one man to die in the place of another?”—“The conscription was an unprivileged militia: it was an eminently national institution and already far advanced in our customs; only mothers were still afflicted by it, while the time was coming when a girl would not have a man who had not paid his debt to his country.”
Law of Fructidor 8, year xiii, article 10.—Pelet de La Lozère, 229. (Speech by Napoleon, Council of State, May 29, 1804.)—Pelet adds: “The duration of the service was not fixed. . . . As a fact in itself, the man was exiled from his fireside for the rest of his life, regarding it as a desolating, permanent exile. . . . Entire sacrifice of existence. . . . An annual crop of young men torn from their families and sent to death.”—Archives nationales, F7, 3014. (Reports of prefects, 1806.) After this date, and even from the beginning, there is extreme repugnance which is only overcome by severe means. . . . (Ardèche.) “If the state of the country were to be judged of by the results of the conscription one would have a poor idea of it.”—(Ariége.) “At Brussac, district of Foix, four or five individuals arm themselves with stones and knives to help a conscript escape, arrested by the gendarmes. . . . A garrison was ordered to this commune.”—At Massat, district of Saint-Girons, on a few brigades of gendarmes entering this commune to establish a garrison, in order to hasten the departure of refractory conscripts, they were stoned; a shot even was fired at this troop. . . . A garrison was placed in these hamlets as in the rest of the commune.—During the night of Frimaire 16-17 last, six strange men presented themselves before the prison of Saint-Girons and loudly demanded Gouazé, a deserter and condemned. On the jailor coming down they seized him and struck him down.”—(Haute-Loire.) “The flying column is under constant orders simultaneously against the refractory and disobedient among the classes of the years ix, x, xi, xii, and xiii, and against the laggards of that of year iv, of which 134 men yet remain to be supplied.”—(Bouches-du-Rhône.) “50 deserter sailors and 84 deserters or conscripts of different classes have been arrested.”—(Dordogne.) “Out of 1353 conscripts, 134 have failed to reach their destination; 124 refractory or deserters from the country and 41 others have been arrested; 81 conscripts have surrendered as a result of placing a garrison amongst them; 186 have not surrendered. Out of 892 conscripts of the year xiv on the march, 101 deserted on the road.”—(Gard.) “76 refractory or deserters arrested.”—(Landes.) “Out of 406 men who left, 51 deserted on the way,” etc.—This repugnance becomes more and more aggravated. (Cf. analogous reports of 1812 and 1813, F7, 3018 and 3019, in “Journal d’un bourgeois d’Évreux,” p. 150 to 214, and “Histoire de 1814,” by Henry Houssaye, p. 8 to 24.)
Law of Fructidor, year vi.
Law of Floréal 6, year xi, article 13.—Law of Fructidor 8, year xiii, article 18.
Decree of July 29, 1811 (on the exemption of pupils in the École Normale).—Decree of March 30, 1810, title ii., articles 2, 4, 5, 6 (on the police and system of the École Normale).—Decree on the organization of the University, titles 6 and 13, March 7, 1808.
Law of Ventôse 17, year viii, title iii., articles 1 and 13.—Law of Fructidor 8, year xiii, articles 50, 54, and 55.
Law of Fructidor 8, year xiii, article 51.
Law of Ventôse 17, year viii, title 3, article 1.
Thibaudeau, p. 108. (Speech of the First Consul before the Council of State.) “Art, science and the professions must be thought of. We are not Spartans. . . . As to substitution, it must be allowed. In a nation where fortunes are equal each individual should serve personally; but, with a people whose existence depends on the inequality of fortunes, the rich must be allowed the right of substitution; only we must take care that the substitutes be good, and that conscripts pay some of the money serving to defray the expense of a part of the equipment of the army of reserve.”
Pelet de La Lozère, 228.
Archives nationales, F7, 3014. (Reports of prefects, 1806.) Average price of a substitute: Basses Alpes, from 2,000 to 2,500 francs; Bouches-du-Rhône, from 1,800 to 3,000; Dordogne, 2,400; Gard, 3,000; Gers, 4,000; Haute-Garonne, from 2,000 to 3,000; Hérault, 4,000; Vaucluse, 2,500; Landes, 4,000.—Average rate of interest (Ardèche): “Money, which was from 1¼ to 1½ per cent, has declined; it is now at 3¼ per cent a month or 10 per cent per annum.”—(Basses Alpes): “The rate of money has varied in commerce from 1 to ¾ per cent per month.”—(Gard): “Interest is at 1 per cent a month in commerce; proprietors can readily borrow at 9 or 10 per cent per annum.”—(Hérault): “The interest on money is 1¼ per month.”—(Vaucluse): “Money is from ¾ to 1¼ per cent per month.”
Thiers, vii., p. 23 and 467. In November 1806, Napoleon orders the conscription of 1807; in March 1807, he orders the conscription of 1808, and so on, always from worse to worse.—Decrees of 1808 and 1813 against young men of family already bought off or exempted.—“Journal d’un Bourgeois d’Évreux,” 214. Desolate state of things in 1813, “general depression and discouragement.”—Miot de Mélito, iii., 304. (Report of Miot to the Emperor after a tour in the departments in 1815.) “Everywhere, almost, the women are your declared enemies.”
Law of Ventôse 17, year viii, title 3, articles 6, 7, 8, 9.—Exemption is granted as a favor only to the ignorantin brothers and to seminarians assigned to the priesthood.—Cf. the law of March 10, 1818, articles 15 and 18.
“Most of the French provinces down to the time of Richelieu still possessed a special representative body which consented to and levied the taxes; most of these bodies were supported by the all-powerful minister and replaced by intendants who, from that time on, administered, or rather exhausted, the country, divided into thirty-two generalities. A few provinces, however, Brittany, Burgundy, Languedoc, a part of Provence, Flanders, Artois, and some small districts in the Pyrenees kept their old representative body and were called pays d’état, whilst other provinces were designated, by a strange abuse of language, under the name of pays d’élection.” (Translated from “Madame de Staël et son Temps,” vol. i., p. 38.)
Cf. on the antiquity of this sort of mind, evident from the beginning of society and of French literature, my “History of English Literature,” vol. i., and “La Fontaine et ses fables,” pp. 10 to 13.
In relation to this sentiment, read La Fontaine’s fable of “The Rat and the Elephant.” La Fontaine fully comprehended its social and psychological bearing. “To believe one’s self an important personage is very common in France. . . . A childish vanity is peculiar to us. The Spaniards are vain, but in another way. It is specially a French weakness.”
Beugnot, “Mémoires,” i., 317. “This equality which is now our dominant passion is not the noble kindly sentiment that affords delight by honoring one’s self in honoring one’s fellow, and in feeling at ease in all social relationships; no, it is an aversion to every kind of superiority, a fear lest a prominent position may be lost; this equality tends in no way to raise up what is kept down, but to prevent any elevation whatever.”
D’Haussonville, “l’Église romaine et le Premier Empire,” i., chs x. and xi.
Decree of March 17, 1808, on the organization of the Israelite cult. The members of the Israelite consistories and the rabbis must be accepted by the government the same as the ministers of the other cults; but their salary, which is fixed, must be provided by the Israelites of the conscription; the State does not pay this, the same as with curés or pastors. This is not done until under the monarchy of July, when the assimilation of the Israelite with the other Christian cults is effected.
“’Travels in France during the years 1814 and 1815” (Edinburgh, 1806) i., 176. “The nobility, the great landed proprietors, the yeomanry, the lesser farmers, all of the intermediate ranks who might oppose a check to the power of a tyrannical prince, are nearly annihilated.”—Ibid., 236. “Scarcely an intermediate rank was to be found in the nation between the sovereign and the peasant.”—Ibid., ii. 239. “The better class of the inhabitants of the cities, whether traders and manufacturers or the bourgeoisie of France, are those who were the most decided enemies of Bonaparte.”
Napoleon, desirous of forming an opinion of him, said to Rœderer, “Send me his books.” “But,” said Rœderer, “he is only a translator,” “No matter,” replied Napoleon, “I will read his prefaces.”
Cf. the “Dictionnaire biographique,” published at Leipsic, 1806-1808 (by Eymory) 4 vols., and the “Almanach impérial” for 1807 to 1812; many other historic names are found there, and among these the ladies of the palace. In 1810, Comte de la Rochefoucauld is ambassador to Holland and Comte de Mercy-Argenteau ambassador to Bavaria.
“The Revolution,” ii., 323.
“The Revolution,” vol. iii., pp. 318-322.
“The Ancient Régime,” pp. 116-119, 128.
De Tilly, “Mémoires,” i., 153. “The difference between the tone and language of the court and that of the city was about as great as that between Paris and the provinces.”
Hence the lack of success of the Maupeou parliament.
See the collections of songs previous to the Revolution, especially military songs such as “Malgré la bataille,” “Dans les gardes françaises,” etc.—At the time of the Restoration, the pastoral or gallant songs of Florian, Boufflers and Berquin were still sung in bourgeois families, each person, young or old, man or woman, singing one at the dessert. This undercurrent of gayety, geniality and amiability lasted throughout the Revolution and the Empire. (“Travels through the South of France, 1807 and 1808,” p. 132, by Lieutenant-Colonel Pinkney, of the United States.) “I must once for all say that the Memoirs of Marmontel are founded in nature.” He cites a great many facts in proof of this, and testifies in all classes to “a prompt and social nature, a natural benevolence or habitual civility which leads them instinctively, and not unfrequently impertinently, into acts of kindness and consideration.”—The same impression is produced on comparing the engravings, fashion-plates, light subjects and caricatures of this period with those of the present epoch. The malicious sentiment begins only with Béranger; and yet his early pieces (“Le Roi d’Yvetot,” “le Sénateur”) display the light air, accent and happy, instead of venomous, malice of the old song. Nobody now sings in the lower bourgeoisie or in gatherings of clerks or students, while, along with the song, we have seen the other traits which impressed foreigners disappear, the gallantry, the jesting humor, the determination to regard life as so many hours (une série de quarts d’heures), each of which may be separated from the others, be ample in themselves and agreeable to him who talks and to him or her who listens.
Read the novels of Pigault-Lebrun, books of the epoch the best adapted to the men of the epoch, the dashing, free, jolly, military parvenus of limited natures.
Candide (Récit de la Veille).
“Mémoires,” by M. X——, i., 374. “I am sure that his imagination was more taken with Ghengis-Khan than with Cæsar.”
“The Revolution,” ii., 12, 22. (Articles by Mallet-Dupan, “Mercure de France,” Dec. 30, 1791, and April 7, 1792.)—Napoleon, “Mémorial” (Sept. 3, 1816), thinks so too and states the essential characteristic of the Revolution. This consisted in “bidding everybody who held office to leave, every one who had a place or a fortune.”
Rœderer, iii., 534 (January 1809, on Normandy). “Children in every situation think of becoming soldiers to get the cross (legion of honor), and the cross secures the chevalier. The desire of distinction, of passing ahead of some one else, is a national sentiment.”
“The Revolution,” ii., 248.
Napoleon, “Mémoires” (edited by M. de Montholon, iii., 11-19), on the extraordinary ignorance of Cartaux.—Ibid., 23, on Doppet’s incapacity, the successor of Cartaux.
“The Revolution,” iii., 310.
They called themselves exclusives under the Directory.—Cf. “The Revolution,” ii., 23, 187, 196, 245, 297-303, 340-351, 354; book iii., ch. 2 and 3, and book iv.
Madame de Rémusat, passim.—Rœderer, iii., 538 (January 1809). “I took a few of the old court into my household. They remained two years without speaking to me and six months without seeing me. . . . I don’t like them—they are not good for anything—their conversation is disagreeable to me.”
Rœderer, iii., 281. “Men, under his government, who had hitherto been considered incapable are made useful; men hitherto considered distinguished found themselves mixed in with the crowd; men hitherto regarded as the pillars of the State found themselves useless. . . . An ass or a knave need never be ambitious to approach Bonaparte, they will make nothing out of him.”
Fiévée, “Correspondance,” iii., 33.—Rœderer, iii., 381.
Beugnot, “Mémoires,” ii., 372.
Lefebvre, a former sergeant in the French guards, who became marshal of the empire and Duc de Dantzig, with 150,000 francs a year, received the visit of a comrade who, instead of having mounted the ladder as he had done, had remained at the bottom of it. The marshal, a fine fellow, welcomed his comrade heartily, and showed him over his hotel. The visitor’s face gradually grew sombre, and bitter words escaped from his lips; he often murmured, “Ah, how lucky you are!” At last, the marshal, impatient, said to him, “Well, I will make all this over to you on one condition.” “What is it?” “You must go down into the court. I will post two grenadiers at the window with their guns, and they shall fire at you. If they miss, you shall have the hotel and everything in it.” “Ah, no, thanks!” “My friend, more shots than these have been fired at me and nearer by!”
Rœderer, iii., 332 (Aug. 2, 1800).
Papers of Maine deBiran. (Note communicated by M. Naville.) Letter of Baron Maurice, prefect of Dordogne, to M. Maine de Biran, sub-prefect of Bergerac, transmitting to him by order of the minister of the interior a blank form to be filled up by him presenting the “Statistics of young ladies belonging to the most notable families of the arrondissement.” The form annexed contained several columns, one for names and given names, others for the future inheritance of real and personal estate, etc. A clever or energetic prefect, provided with this list, was able and was expected to take an active part in marriages and see that all the large dowries were appropriated on the right side.—“Mémoires de Madame de——,” part 3d, ch. viii., p. 154. (These very instructive memoirs by a very sincere and judicious person are still unpublished. I am not authorized to give the name of the author.) “It was at this time that the emperor took it into his head to marry as he saw fit the young girls who had more than 50,000 livres rental.” A rich heiress of Lyons, intended for M. Jules de Polignac, is thus wedded to M. de Marbœuf. M. d’Aligre, by dint of address and celerity, deprives M. de Caulaincourt of his daughter, and then M. de Faudoas, brother-in-law to Savary, and weds her to M. de Pommereux.
“Statistiques des Préfets.” (Doubs, by Debry, p. 60; Meurthe, by Marquis, p. 115; Ain, by Bossi, p. 240.)
“Statistique de l’Ain,” by Bossi, p. 1808. From 1140 in 1801, the number of employés and others under state pay amounts to 1771 in 1806. This augmentation is attributed by the prefect to causes just stated.
Napoleon, “Correspondance.” (Note of April 11, 1811.) “There will always be at Hamburg, Bremen and Lubeck from 8,000 to 10,000 French, either employés or gend’armes, in the customs and depots.”
One officer may be counted to every fifty men in the infantry; in the cavalry one officer to every twenty-five or thirty men, and these are the maximum figures.—This ratio of one officer to every fifty men indicates that, among the 1,700,000 men who perished between 1804 and 1815, there were 24,000 officers, which gives about 3,000 vacancies per annum, to which must be added the vacancies due to the wounded, incapacity for service and retirement. It must be noted, moreover, that the death or retirement of an officer above the grade of second-lieutenant makes several vacancies and vacancies which are more numerous according to the superiority of the rank. On the loss of a captain there are three promotions and so on.
Lunet, “Histoire du Collège de Rodez” (ministerial circular), p. 228.
“The Revolution,” iii., 335.—Already, in 1795, the need of competent and special men was so great that the government sought, even among royalists, for financial and diplomatic heads of these services; it made offers to M. Dufresne and to M. de Rayneval.—Ibid., 311.—(Cf. “Mémoires” by Gaudin, Miot and Mollien.)
Words of Bouquier, reporter of the law on education (session of the Convention, Frimaire 22, year 11).
The reader is recommended to do as I have done and consult biographies on this point, also the souvenirs of his grandparents.
Thibaudeau, “Mémoires sur la Consulat,” p. 88. (Exposition of motives by Rœderer to the Corps Législatif, Floréal 25, year x.) “After all, it is the creation of a new currency of quite different value from that which issues from the public treasury, a currency of unchangeable worth and of an inexhaustible mine, since it lies in French honor; a currency which can solely reward actions regarded as above any recompense.”
Ibid., 83. (Address to the Council of State, Floréal 14, year x.)—Also “Mémorial”: “Old and corrupt nations are not governed the same as young and virtuous ones; sacrifices have to be made to interest, to enjoyments, to vanity. This is the secret of the return to monarchical forms, to titles, crosses, ribbons, harmless baubles suited to exciting the respect of the multitude while at the same time enforcing self-respect.”
“La Légion d’honneur,” by M. Mazas, passim. Details on the nominations and ceremonials. “The veritable date was July 15th, as the 14th was Sunday. Augereau and about sixty officers, “bad fellows” who disliked the mass, refused to enter the chapel and remained outside in the court.
Several generals, Lecourbe, Souham., etc., being too republican or suspect and hostile, were left out. Lemercier, Ducis, Delille, and Lafayette refused. Admiral Truguet, through pique and discontent, had at first declined the grade of grand-officer, but finally changed his mind and became at first commander and then grand-officer.
“Les Cahiers du Capitaine Coignet,” passim and pp. 95, 145. “When the ceremony was over, handsome women who could get at me to examine my cross, asked me if they might give me a kiss.”—At the Palais Royal the proprietor of a café says to him: “Order whatever you want, the Legion of Honor is welcome to anything.”
Mazas, ibid., p. 413.—Edmond Blanc, “Napoléon, ses institutions civiles et administratives,” p. 279.—The number of decorated, at first, was to be 6,000. In 1806, the emperor had nominated 14,500, and taking his entire reign, until his fall, about 48,000. The real force of legionaries, however, then living does not surpass at this time 30,000, of which only 1,200 are in civil careers. At the present time, December 1, 1888 (documents furnished by the records of the Légion d’honneur), there are 52,915 decorated persons, of which 31,757 are soldiers and 21,158 civilians. Under the empire there was in all 1 cross to every 750 Frenchmen; at that time, out of 50 crosses there were 2 for civil services, while in our day there are nearly 20.
Edmond Blanc, ibid., 276 299, 325 and 326. (List of titles of prince and duke conferred by the emperor, and of gifts of 100,000 francs rental or of above that sum.)
Mathieu Dumas, “Mémoires,” iii., 363.
Thiers, “Histoire du Consulat et de l’Empire,” v. iii., p. 210.
Thiers, ibid., p. 195 (October 1806). Napoleon, in one of his bulletins, had mentioned Murat’s cavalry alone, omitting to mention the infantry of Lannes, which behaved as well. Lannes, disappointed, did not dare read this bulletin to his men, and spoke to the emperor about it. “What reward can they look for if they don’t find their names published by the hundred-tongued voice of Fame which is under your control!” Napoleon replies: “You and your men are children—glory enough for all! . . . One of these days your turn will come in the bulletins of the grand army.” Lannes reads this to his troops on the great square of Stettin and it is received with transports of enthusiasm.
Madame de Rémusat. iii., 129.
“The Revolution,” pp. 356-358.—Marmont, “Mémoires,” i., 122. (Letter to his mother, January 12, 1795.) “Behold your son zealously fulfilling his duties, deserving of his country and serving the republic. . . . We should not be worthy of liberty if we did nothing to obtain it.”
Compare the “Journal du sergent Fricasse,” and “les Cahiers du capitaine Coignet.” Fricasse is a volunteer who enlists in the defence of the country; Coignet is a conscript ambitious of distinguishing himself, and he says to his masters: “I promise to come back with the fusil d’honneur or I shall be dead.”
Marmont, i., 186, 282, 296. (In Italy, 1796.) “At this epoch, our ambition was quite secondary; we were solely concerned about our duties and amusements. The frankest and most cordial union existed amongst us all. . . . No sentiment of envy, no low passion found room in our breasts. (Then) what excitement, what grandeur, what hopes and what gayety! . . . Each had a presentiment of an illimitable future and yet entertained no idea of personal ambition or calculation.”—George Sand, “Histoire de ma vie.” (Correspondence of her father, Commander Dupin.)—Stendhal, “Vie de Napoléon.” “At this epoch (1796), nobody in the army had any ambition. I have known officers to refuse promotion so as not to quit their regiment or their mistress.”
Rœderer, iii., 556. (Burgos, April 9, 1809, conversation with General Lasalle written down the same evening.) “You pass through Paris?” “Yes, it’s the shortest way. I shall get there at five in the morning; I shall order a pair of boots, get my wife with child and then leave for Germany.”—Rœderer remarks to him that one risks one’s life and fights for the sake of promotion and to profit by rising in the world. “No, not at all. One takes pleasure in it. One enjoys fighting; it is pleasure enough in itself to fight! You are in the midst of the uproar, of the action, of the smoke. And then, on acquiring reputation you have had the fun of making it! When you have got your fortune you know that your wife and children won’t suffer! That is enough. As for myself, I could die to-morrow.” (The details of this conversation are admirable; no document gives a better idea of the officer of the epoch.)
Balzac has closely studied and admirably portrayed this type in a “Ménage de Garçon.”—See other similar characters in Mérimée (“Les Mécontens,” and “les Espagnols en Danemark”); in Stendhal (“le Chasseur vert”). I knew five or six of them in my youth.
Words of Marshal Marmont: “So long as he declared ‘Everything for France,’ I served him enthusiastically; when he said, ‘France and myself,’ I served him zeal ously; when he said, ‘Myself and France,’ I served him with devotion. It is only when he said, ‘Myself without France,’ that I left him.”
An expression found by Joseph de Maistre.
An expression heard by Mickiewicz in his childhood.
These sums are given, the former by Mérimée and the latter by Sainte-Beuve.
M. de Champagny “Souvenirs,” iii., 183. Napoleon, passing his marshals in review, said to him (1811): “None of them can take my place in the command of my armies; some are without the talent, and others would carry on war for their own benefit. Didn’t that burly Soult want to be king of Portugal?” “Well, sire, war need not be carried on any longer.” “Yes, but how maintain my army? And I must have an army.”
“Mémoires,” by M. X——, iv., 112. (According to the papers of Savary, many of Napoleon’s letters and statements by M. de Saint-Aignan.)
“Mémorial,” Aug. 26, 1816.
“Travels in France during the years 1814 and 1815.” (Edinburgh, 1816, 2 vols.)—The author, a very good observer, thus sums up the principle of the system: “To give active employment to all men of talent and enterprise.” There is no other condition: “Birth, education, moral character were completely set aside.”—Hence the general defect of the system. “The French have literally no idea of any duties which they must voluntarily, without the prospect of reward, undertake for their country. It never enters their heads that a man may be responsible for the neglect of those public duties for the performance of which he receives no regular salary.”