Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER II. - The Origins of Contemporary France: The Modern Regime, vol. II
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CHAPTER II. - Hippolyte Taine, The Origins of Contemporary France: The Modern Regime, vol. II 
The Origins of Contemporary France: The Modern Regime, vol. II, trans. John Durand (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1894).
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I. Primary instruction.—Additional and special restrictions on the teacher.—Ecclesiastical supervision.—Napoleon’s motives.—Limitation of primary instruction.—Ignorantin monks preferred.—The imperial catechism. II. Superior instruction.—Characters and conditions of scientific universities.—Motives for opposition to them.—In what respect adverse to the French system.—How he replaces them.—Extent of secondary instruction.—Meets all wants in the new social order of things.—The careers it leads to.—Special schools.—Napoleon requires them professional and practical.—The law school. III. Crowning point of the university edifice.—Faith based on criticism.—How it binds men together and forms a lay Church.—Social power of this Church.—Scientific and literary authorities.—How Napoleon enrolls them.—The Institute, an appendage of the State. IV. Hold of the government on its members.—How he curbs and keeps them down.—Circle in which lay power may act.—Favor and freedom of the mathematical, physical and natural sciences.—Disfavor and restrictions on the moral sciences.—Suppression of the class of moral and political sciences.—They belong to the State, included in the imperial domain of the Emperor.—Measures against Ideology, philosophic or historic study of Law, Political Economy and Statistics.—Monopoly of History. V. Measures against writers so called and popularizers.—Censorship, control of theatres, publications and printing.—Extent and minuteness of the repression.—Persistency in direction and impulsion.—The logical completeness and beauty of the whole system his final object.—How he accomplishes his own destruction.
Such is secondary education, his most personal, most elaborate, most complete work; the other two stories of the educational system, under and over, built in a more summary fashion, are adapted to the middle story and form, the three together, a regular monument, of which the architect has skilfully balanced the proportions, distributed the rooms, calculated the service and designed the façade and scenic effect.
“Napoleon,” says a contemporary adversary,1 “familiar with power only in its most absolute form, military despotism, tried to partition France in two categories, one composed of the masses, destined to fill the ranks of his vast army, and disposed, through the brutishness which he was willing to maintain, to passive obedience and fanatical devotion; the other, more refined by reason of its wealth, was to lead the former according to the views of the chief who equally dominated both, for which purpose it was to be formed in schools where, trained for a servile and, so to say, mechanical submission, it would acquire relative knowledge, especially in the art of war and with regard to a wholly material administration; after this, vanity and self-interest were to attach it to his person and identify it, in some way with his system of government.”—Soften this over-sombre picture one degree and it is true. As to primary instruction, there was no State appropriation, no credit inscribed on the budget, no aid in money, save twenty-five thousand francs, allotted in 1812, to the novices of the Frères Ignorantins and of which they received but 4,500 francs;2 the sole mark of favor accorded to the small schools is an exemption from the dues of the University.3 His councillors, with their habits of fiscal logic, proposed to exact this tax here as elsewhere; a shrewd politician, he thinks that its collection would prove odious and he is bound not to let his popularity suffer among villagers and common people; it is two hundred thousand francs a year which he abstains from taking from them; but here his liberalities in behalf of primary instruction stop. Let parents and the communes take this burden on themselves, pay its expenses, seek out and hire the teacher, and provide for a necessity which is local and almost domestic. The government, which invites them to do this, will simply furnish the plan, that is to say, a set of rules, prescriptions and restrictions.
At first, there is the authorization of the prefect, guardian of the commune, who, having invited the commune to found a school, has himself, through a circular, given instructions to this end, and who now interferes in the contract between the municipal council and the teacher, to approve of or to rectify its clauses—the name of the titulary, duration of his engagement, hours and seasons for his classes, subjects to be taught, the sum total and conditions of his pay in money or in kind; the school grant must be paid by the commune, the school tax by the pupils, the petty fees which help pay the teacher’s living expenses and which he gets from accessory offices such as mayor’s clerk, clock-winder, sexton, bell-ringer and chorister in the church.1 —At the same time, and in addition, there is the authorization of the rector; for the small as well as the average or larger schools are included in the University;2 the new master becomes a member of the teaching body, binds himself and belongs to it by oath, takes upon himself its obligations and submissions, comes under the special jurisdiction of the university authorities, and is inspected, directed and controlled by them in his class and outside of his class.—The last supervision, still more searching and active, which close by, incessantly and on the spot, hovers over all small schools by order and spontaneously, is the ecclesiastical supervision. A circular of the Grand-Master, M. de Fontanes,1 requests the bishops to instruct “messieurs les curés of their diocese to send in detailed notes on their parish schoolmasters;” “when these notes are returned,” he says, “please address them to me with your remarks on them; according to these indications I will approve of the instructor who merits your suffrage and he will receive the diploma authorizing him to continue in his functions. Whoever fails to present these guarantees will not receive a diploma and I shall take care to replace him with another man whom you may judge to be the most capable.”2
If Napoleon thus places his small schools under ecclesiastical oversight, it is not merely to conciliate the clergy by giving it the lead of the majority of souls, all the uncultivated souls, but because, for his own interests, he does not want the mass of the people to think and reason too much for themselves. “The Academy inspectors,”3 says the decree of 1811, “will see that the masters of the primary schools do not carry their teaching beyond reading, writing and arithmetic.” Beyond this limit, should the instructor teach a few of the children the first elements of Latin or geometry, geography or history, his school becomes secondary; it is then ranked as a boarding-school, while its pupils are subjected to the university recompense, military drill, uniform, and all the above specified exigencies; and yet more—it must no longer exist and is officially closed. A peasant who reads, writes and ciphers and who remains a peasant need know no more, and, to be a good soldier, he need not know as much; moreover, that is enough, and more too, to enable him to become an under and even a superior officer; take, for instance, Captain Coignet, whose memoirs we have, who, to be appointed a second-lieutenant, had to learn to write and who could never write other than a large hand, like young beginners.—The best masters for such limited instruction are the Brethren of the Christian Schools and these, against the advice of his counsellors, Napoleon supports: “If they are obliged,” he says, “by their vows to refrain from other knowledge than reading, writing and the elements of arithmetic, . . . it is that they may be better adapted to their destiny.”1 “In comprising them in the University, they become connected with the civil order of things and the danger of their independence is anticipated.” Henceforth, “they no longer have a stranger or a foreigner for their chief.” “The superior-general at Rome has renounced all inspection over them; it is understood that in France their superior-general will reside at Lyons.”2 The latter, with his monks, fall into the hands of the government and come under the authority of the Grand-Master. Such a corporation, with the head of it in one’s power, is a perfect instrument, the surest, the most exact, always to be relied on and which never acts on one side of, or beyond, the limits marked out for it. Nothing pleases Napoleon more, who, in the civil order of things, wants to be Pope; who builds up his State, as the Pope his Church, on old Roman tradition; who, to govern from above, allies himself with ecclesiastical authority; who, like Catholic authorities, requires drilled executants and regimental manœuvres, only to be found in organized and special bodies of men. The general inspectors of the University give to each rector the following instructions as a watchword: “Wherever the Brethren of the Christian Schools can be found, they shall,” for primary teaching, be “preferred to all others.”1 Thus, to the three classes of subjects taught, a fourth must be added, one not mentioned by the legislator in his law, but which Napoleon admits, which the rectors and prefects recommend or authorize, and which is always inscribed in the contract made between the commune and the instructor. The latter, whether layman or frère ignorantin, engages to teach, besides “reading, writing and decimal arithmetic,” “the catechism adopted by the Empire.” Consequently, as the first communion (of the pupil) draws near, he is careful, for at least two years, to have his scholars learn the consecrated text by heart, and to recite this text aloud on their benches, article by article; in this way, his school becomes a branch of the Church and, hence, like the Church, a reigning instrumentality. For, in the catechism adopted for the Empire, there is one phrase carefully thought out, full and precise in its meaning, in which Napoleon has concentrated the quintessence of his political and social doctrine and formulated the imperative belief assigned by him as the object of education. The seven or eight hundred thousand children of the lower schools recite this potent phrase to the teacher before reciting it to the priest: “We especially owe to Napoleon I., our Emperor, love, respect, obedience, fidelity, military service, and the dues (tributs) prescribed for the preservation and defence of the Empire and the throne. . . . For it is he whom God has raised up in times of difficulty, to restore public worship and the holy religion of our forefathers, and to be its protector.”2
Superior instruction, the most important of all, remains; for, in this third and last stage of education, the minds and opinions of young people from eighteen to twenty-four years of age are fully formed; it is then that, already free and nearly ripe, these future occupants of busy careers, just entering into practical life, shape their first general ideas, their still hazy and half-poetic views of things, their premature and foregone conclusions respecting man, nature, society and the great interests of humanity.
If it be desirable that they should arrive at sound conclusions, a good many standards of merit must be established for them, substantial, convergent, each with its own rounds of the ladder superposed, each expressly designating the absent, doubtful, provisional or simply future and possible rounds, because they are in course of formation or on trial.—Consequently, these must all be got together in some circumscription, in contiguous structures, not alone the body of professors, the speaking-trumpets of science, but collections, laboratories and libraries which constitute the instruments; moreover, besides ordinary and regular courses of lectures, there must be recitation-rooms, appointed hours, with full liberty and faculty to teach for every man of knowledge and enterprise who, having something to say, likes to say it to anybody that chooses to listen. Thus, a sort of oral encyclopedia is organized, an universal exposition of human knowledge, a permanent exposition constantly renewed and open, to which its visitors, provided with a certificate of average instruction as an entrance ticket, will see with their own eyes, besides completed science that which is in the way of formation, besides discoveries and proofs the way of discovering and proving, namely the method, history and general progress, the place of each science in its group, and of this group its place in the general whole. Owing to the extreme diversity of subjects taught there will be room and occupation for the extreme diversity of intelligences; young minds can choose for themselves their own career, mount as high as their strength allows, climb up the tree of knowledge each on his own side, with his own ladder, in his own way, now passing from the branches to the trunk and again from the trunk to the branches, now from a remote bough to the principal branch and from that again back to the trunk.
And more than this, thanks to the coördination of lessons well classified, there is, for each course of lectures, the means for arriving at full details in all particulars; the young students can talk amongst themselves and learn from each other, the student of moral science from the student of the natural sciences, the latter from the student of the chemical or physical sciences, and another from the student of the mathematical sciences. Bearing still better fruit, the student, in each of these four circumscriptions, derives information from his co-disciples lodged right and left in the nearest compartments, the jurist from the historian, from the economist, from the philologist, and reciprocally, in such a way as to profit by their impressions and suggestions, and enable them to profit by his. He must have no other object in view for three years, no rank to obtain, no examination to undergo, no competition for which to make preparations, no outward pressure, no collateral preoccupation, no positive, urgent and personal interest to interfere with, turn aside or stifle pure curiosity. He pays something out of his own pocket for each course of lectures he attends; for this reason, he makes the best choice he can, follows it up to the end, takes notes, and comes there, not to seek phrases and distraction, but actualities and instruction, and get the worth of his money. It is admitted that knowledge is an object of exchange, so much alimentary food stored up and sold by the masters; the student who takes it on delivery first of all sees to it that it is of superior quality, of authentic derivation and very nutritious; the masters, undoubtedly, through amour-propre and conscience, try to furnish it of this sort; but he is the one who helps himself to it, just here where he judges it to be what he wants, in this particular storehouse rather than in others, from this or that lecture-stand, official or not. To impart and to acquire knowledge for itself and for it alone, without subordinating this end to another distinct and predominant end, to direct minds towards this object and in this way, under the promptings and restraints of supply and demand, to open up the largest field and the freest career to the faculties, to labor, to the preferences of the thinking individual, master or disciple,—such is the spirit of the institution. And, evidently, that it may be effective according to this spirit, it needs an independent, appropriate body, that is to say, autonomous, sheltered against the interference of the State, of the Church, of the commune, of the province, and of all general or local powers, provided with rules and regulations, made a legal, civil personage, with the right to buy, sell and contract obligations, in short proprietorship.
This is no chimerical plan, the work of a speculative, calculating imagination, which appears well and remains on paper. All the universities of the middle ages were organized according to this type. It found life and activity everywhere and for a long time; the twenty-two universities in France previous to the Revolution, although disfigured, stunted and desiccated, preserved many of its features, certain visible externals, and, in 1811,1 Cuvier, who had just inspected the universities of lower Germany, describes it as he found it, on the spot, confined to superior instruction, but finished and complete, adapted to modern requirements, in full vigor and in full bloom.
There is no room in the France to which Cuvier returns for institutions of this stamp; they are excluded from it by the social system which has prevailed.—First of all, public law, as the Revolution and Napoleon comprehended it and enacted it, is hostile to them;1 for it sets up the principle that in a State there must be no special corporations permanent, under their own control, supported by mortmain property, acting in their own right and conducting a public service for their own benefit, especially if this service is that of teaching; for the State has taken this charge upon itself, reserved it for itself and assumed the monopoly of it; hence, the unique and comprehensive university founded by it, and which excludes free, local and numerous universities. Thus, in its essence, it is the self-teaching State and not self-teaching science; thus defined, the two types are contradictory; not only are the two bodies different, but again the two spirits are incompatible; each has an aim of its own, which is not the aim of the other. In a special sense, the use to which the Emperor assigns his university is contrary to the aim of the German universities; it is founded for his own advantage, that he may possess “the means for shaping moral and political opinions;” with this object in view it would be wrong for him to allow several establishments within reach of students in which they would be directed by science alone; it is certain that, in many points, the direction here given to youth would poorly square with the rigid, uniform, narrow lines in which Napoleon wishes to confine them. Schools of this kind would get to be centres of opposition; young men thus fashioned would become dissenters; they would gladly hold personal, independent opinions alongside, or outside, of “the national doctrine,” outside of Napoleonic and civil orthodoxy; and worse still, they would believe in their opinions. Having studied seriously and at first sources, the jurist, the theologian, the philosopher, the historian, the philologist, the economist might perhaps cherish the dangerous pretension of considering himself competent even in social matters; being a Frenchman, he would talk with assurance and indiscretion; he would be much more troublesome than a German; it would soon be necessary to send him to Bicêtre or to the Temple.—In the present state of things, with the exigencies of the reign, and even in the interests of the young themselves, it is essential that superior instruction should be neither encyclopedic nor very profound. Were this a defect, Frenchmen would not perceive it; they are accustomed to it. Already, before 1789, the classes in the humanities were generally completed by the class in philosophy; in this class logic, morals and metaphysics were taught; while on God, nature, the soul and science, the young student, played with, adopted and bandied about with more or less skill, the formulæ he had learned by rote. Less scholastic, abridged, and made easy, this verbal exercise was maintained in the lycées;1 under the new régime, as well as under the old one, a string of abstract terms, which the professor thought he could explain and which the pupil thought he understood, involves young minds in a maze of high, speculative conceptions, beyond their reach and far beyond their experience, education and years. Because pupils play with words, they fancy that they possess ideas, which fancy deprives them of any desire to obtain them. Consequently, in this great French establishment, young people do not remark the lack of veritable Universities; a liberal, broad spirit of inquiry is not aroused in them; they do not regret their inability to have compassed the cycle of varied research and critical investigation, the long and painful road which alone surely leads to profound general conceptions, those grand ideas which are verifiable and solidly based. And, on the other hand, this quick, summary mode of preparation suffices for the positive and appreciable needs of the new society. The question is to fill the gaps made in it by the Revolution; the indispensable contingent of cultivated youth thus demanded, forms an annual recruitment that must be supplied. Now, after as before the Revolution, by this name is understood all who have passed through the entire series of classes; under this régime, subject to the drill in Latin and mathematics, young men have acquired the habit of using clear, connected ideas, a taste for close reasoning, the art of condensing a phrase or a paragraph, an aptitude for attending to the daily business of a worldly, civil life, especially the faculty of carrying on a discussion, of writing a good letter, even the talent for composing a good report or memorial. A young man with these acquirements, some scraps of natural philosophy, and with still briefer notions of geography and history, has all the general, preliminary culture he needs, all the information he requires for aspiring to one of the careers called liberal. The choice rests with himself; he will be what he wants to be, or what he can be—professor, engineer, physician, member of the bar, an administrator or a functionary. In each of his qualifications he renders an important service to the public, he exercises an honorable art; let him be able or an expert, that concerns society. But that alone is all that society cares about; it is not essential that it should find in him additionally an erudite or a philosopher. Let him be competent and worthy of confidence in his limited art, let him know how to teach classes or frame a course of lectures, how to build a bridge, a bastion, an edifice, how to cure a disease, perform an amputation, draw up a contract, manage a case in court, and give judgment; let the State, for greater public convenience, prepare, authenticate, and indorse this special capacity, let it verify this by examinations and diploma, let it make of this a sort of coin of current value, duly minted and of proper standard; let this be protected against counterfeits, not only by its preferences but again by its prohibitions, by the penalties it enacts against the illegal practice of pharmacy and of medicine, by the obligations it imposes on magistrates, lawyers and ministerial officials not to act until obtaining this or that grade,—such is what the interest of society demands and what it may exact. According to this principle, the State institutes special schools, and, through the indirect monopoly which it possesses, it fills them with listeners; henceforth, these are to furnish the youth of France with superior education.1
From the start, Napoleon, as logician, with his usual lucidity and precision, lays it down that they shall be strictly practical and professional. “Make professors (régents) for me,” said he one day in connection with the Ecole normale, “and not littérateurs, wits or seekers or inventors in any branch of knowledge.” In like manner says he again,2 “I do not approve of the regulation requiring a man to be bachelor (bachelier) in the sciences before he can be a bachelor in the medical faculty; medicine is not an exact and positive science, but a science of guess and observation. I should place more confidence in a doctor who had not studied the exact sciences than in one who possessed them. I preferred M. Corvisart to M. Hallé, because M. Hallé belongs to the Institute. M. Corvisart does not even know what two equal triangles are. The medical student should not be diverted from hospital practice, from dissections and studies relating to his art.”
There is the same subordination of science to art, the same idea for immediate or near application, the same utilitarian tendency in view of a public function or of a private career, the same contraction of studies in the law school, in that order of truths of which Montesquieu, a Frenchman, fifty years before, had first seized the entire body, marked the connections and delineated the chart. The question is, laws and the “spirit of laws,” written or not written, by which diverse human societies live, of whatever form, extent and kind,—the State, commune, Church, school, army, agricultural or industrial workshop, tribe or family; now, whether existences or fossils, these are realities, open to observation like plants or animals; one may, the same as with animals and plants, observe them, describe them, compare them together, follow their history from first to last, study their organization, classify them in natural groups, disengage the distinctive and dominant characteristics in each, note its ambient surroundings and ascertain the internal or external conditions, or “necessary relationships,” which determine its failure or its bloom. For men who live together in society and in a State, no study is so important; it alone can furnish them with a clear, demonstrable idea of what society and the State are; and it is in the law schools that this capital idea must be sought by cultivated youth. If they do not find it there, they invent one to suit themselves. As 1789 drew near, the antiquated, poor, barren, teaching of law, fallen into contempt and almost null,1 offered no sound, accredited doctrine which could impose itself on young minds, fill the void and prevent the intrusion of fancy. It did intrude itself: in the anti-social Utopia of Rousseau, in his anarchical and despotic Social Contract. To hinder it from returning, the best thing to do was not to make the same mistake, not to leave the lodging empty, to install in it a fixed occupant beforehand, and to see that this fixed occupant, which is science, may at all times represent its title of legitimate proprietor, its method analogous to that of the natural sciences, its studies of detail from life and, in the texts, its strict inductions, its concordant verifications, its progressive discoveries, in order that, confronting every chance system and without these titles, minds may of themselves shut their doors, or only open them provisionally, and always with a care to make the intruder present his letters of credit—that is the social service rendered by instruction in Law as given in the German mode, as Cuvier had just described it. Before 1789, in the University of Strasbourg, in France, it was thus given; but, in this State and with this amplitude, it is not suitable under the new régime, and still less than under the old one.
Napoleon, in his preparation of jurists, wants executants and not critics; his faculties must furnish him with men able to apply and not to give opinions on his laws. Hence, in the teaching of the law, as he prescribes it, there must be nothing of history, of political economy or of comparative law; there must be no exposition of foreign legislation, of feudal or custom law, or of canon law; no account of the transformations which governed public and private law in Rome down to the Digest and, after that, in France, down to the recent codes; nothing on remote origins, on successive forms and the diverse and ever-changing conditions of labor, property and the family; nothing which, through the law, exposes to view and brings us in contact with the social body to which it is applied. That is to say, this or that active and human group, with its habits, prejudices, instincts, dangers and necessities; nothing but two dry, rigid codes, like two aerolites fallen from the sky ready-made and all of a piece, at an interval of fourteen centuries; at first, the Institutes, “by cutting out1 what is not applicable to our legislation and replacing these matters by a comparison with much finer laws scattered through other books of Roman law,” similar to the classesin the humanities, where Latin literature is reduced to the finest passages of the classic authors; next, the French code, with the comments on it due to the decisions of the court of appeals and the court of cassation. All the courses of lectures of the school shall be obligatory and arranged as a whole, or tacked on to each other in a compulsory order; each step the student takes shall be counted, measured and verified every three months by a certificate, and each year by an examination; at these examinations there shall be no optional matters, no estimate of collateral studies or those of complimentary or superior importance. The student finds no attraction or benefit in studies outside of the programme, and, in this programme he finds only official texts, explained by the bill of fare, one by one, with subtlety, and patched together as well as may be by means of distinctions and interpretations, so as to provide the understood solution in ordinary cases and a plausible solution in disputed cases, in other terms, a system of casuistry.2
And this is just the education which suits the future practitioner. As a celebrated professor of the second Empire says,1 “our young graduates need a system of instruction which enables them to pass without perplexity or discouragement from the school to the halls of justice;” to have the 2281 articles of the civil code at their fingers’ ends, also the rest, hundreds and thousands of them, of the other four codes; to find at once in relation to each case the set of pertinent articles, the general rule, neither too broad nor too narrow, which fits the particular case in question. As for law taken in itself and as a whole, they have none of that clear, full conception of it to which a comprehensive and curious mind aspires. “I know nothing of the civil code,” said another professor, older and in closer proximity with the primitive institution, “I teach only the Code Napoléon.” Accordingly, with his clear-sightedness and his practical and graphic imagination, Napoleon could perceive in advance the coming and certain products of his machine, the magistrates in their bonnets, seated or standing in their court-rooms, with the lawyers in their robes facing them pleading, and, farther on, the great consumers of stamped papers in their bureaus encumbered with files of documents with the attorneys and notaries engaged in drawing them up; elsewhere, prefects, sub-prefects, prefect councillors, government commissioners and other officials, all at work and doing pretty well, all of them useful organs but mere organs of the law. The chances were small, fewer than under the ancient régime, for an erudite and independent thinker, a Montesquieu, to issue from that school.
Everywhere else, the direction and reach of superior instruction are similar. In the Faculties of Science and Literature, much more than in the Faculties of Medicine and of Law, the principal employment of the professors is the collation of grades.—They likewise confer the titles of bachelor, licentiate and doctor; but the future bachelor is not prepared by them; the lycée furnishes him for the examination, fresh from its benches; they have then no auditors but future licentiates, that is to say a few schoolmasters and a licentiate at long intervals who wants to become a doctor in order to mount upward into the university hierarchy. Besides these, occasional amateurs, nearly all of ripe age, who wish to freshen their classic souvenirs, and idlers who want to kill time, fill the lecture-room. To prevent empty benches the lecture course becomes a conférence d’Athenée, which is pleasant enough or sufficiently general to interest or, at least, not to repel people of society.1 Two establishments remain for teaching true science to the workers who wish to acquire it; who, in the widespread wreck of the ancient régime have alone survived in the Museum of Natural History, with its thirteen chairs, and the College of France, with nineteen. But here, too, the audience is sparse, mixed, disunited and unsatisfactory; the lectures being public and free, everybody enters the room and leaves as he pleases during the lecture. Many of the attendants are idlers who seek distraction in the tone and gestures of the professors, or birds of passage who come there to warm themselves in winter and to sleep in summer. Nevertheless, two or three foreigners and half a dozen Frenchmen thoroughly learn Arabic or zoölogy from Silvestre de Sacy, Cuvier or Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. That answers the purpose; they are quite enough, and, elsewhere too in the other branches of knowledge. All that is required is a small élite of special and eminent men—about one hundred and fifty in France in the various sciences,2 and, behind them, provisionally, two or three hundred others, their possible successors, competent and designated beforehand by their works and celebrity to fill the gaps made by death in the titulary staff as these occur. The latter, representatives of science and of literature, provide the indispensable adornment of the modern State. But, in addition to this, they are the depositaries of a new force, which more and more becomes the principal guide, the influential regulator and even the innermost motor of human action. Now, in a centralized State, no important force must be left to itself; Napoleon is not a man to tolerate the independence of this one, allowing it to act apart and outside of limitations; he knows how to utilize it and turn it to his own advantage. He has already grasped another force of the same order but more ancient, and, in the same way, and with equal skill, he also takes hold of the new one.
In effect, alongside of religious authority, based on divine revelation and belonging to the clergy, there is now a lay authority founded on human reason, which is exercised by savants, erudites, the learned and philosophers. They too, in their way, form a clergy, since they frame creeds and teach a faith; only, their preparatory and dominant disposition is not a docile mind and trust, but distrust and the necessity of critical examination. With them, nearly every source of belief is supicious. At bottom, among the ways of acquiring knowledge, they accept but two, the most direct, the simplest, the best tested, and again on condition that one proves the other, the type of the first being that process of reasoning by which we show that two and two make four, and the second that experience by which we demonstrate that heat above a certain degree melts ice, and that cold below a certain degree freezes water. This is the sole process that is convincing; all others, less and less sure in proportion as they diverge from it, possess only a secondary, provisional and contestable value, that which it confers on them after verification and check.—Let us accordingly avail ourselves of this one, and not of another, to express, restrain or suspend our judgment. So long as the intellect uses it and only it, or its analogues, to affirm, set aside or doubt, it is called reason, and the truths thus obtained are definitive acquisitions. Acquired one by one, the truths thus obtained have long remained scattered, in the shape of fragments; only isolated sciences have existed or bits of science; about the middle of the eighteenth century these separate parts became united and have formed one body, a coherent system; out of this, then called philosophy, that is to say a view of nature as a whole, consisting of perfect order on lasting foundations, a sort of universal network which, suddenly enlarged, stretches beyond the physical world to the moral world, taking in man and men, their faculties and their passions, their individual and their collective works, various human societies, their history, customs and institutions, their codes and governments, their religions, languages, literatures and fine arts, their agriculture, industries, property, the family and the rest.1 Then also, in each natural whole the simultaneous or successive parts are connected together; a knowledge of their mutual ties is important, and, in the spiritual order of things, one accomplishes this, as in the material order, through scientific distrust, through critical examination by the process of tests.2
Undoubtedly, in 1789, the work in common on this ground had resulted only in false conceptions; but this is because another than the testing process was applied, hasty, plausible, popular, risky and deceptive. People wanted to go fast, conveniently, directly, and, for guide, accepted unreason under the name of reason. Now, in the light of disastrous experience, there was a return to the narrow, stony, long and painful road which alone leads, both, in speculation, to truth and, in practice, to salvation.—Besides, this second conclusion, like the first one, was due to recent experience; henceforth it was evident that, in political and social matters, ideas quickly descend from speculation to practice. When anybody talks to me about stones, plants, animals and the stars I must, to listen, be interested in these; if anybody talks to me about man and society, it suffices that I am a man and a member of that society; for then it concerns myself, my nearest, daily, most sensitive and dearest interests; by virtue of being a tax-payer and a subject, a citizen and an elector, a property-owner or a proletaire, a consumer or a producer, a free-thinker or a Catholic, a father, son or husband, the doctrine is addressed to me; to affect me it has only to be within reach, through interpreters and others that promulgate it.—This office appertains to writers great or small, particularly to the educated who possess wit, imagination or eloquence, a pleasing style, the art of finding readers or of making themselves understood. Owing to their interposition, a doctrine wrought out by the specialist or thinker in the closet, spreads around through the novel, the theatre and the lecture-room, by pamphlets, the newspaper, dictionaries, manuals and conversation, and, finally, by teaching itself. It thus enters all houses, knocks at the door of each intellect, and, according as it works its way more or less forcibly, contributes more or less efficaciously to make or unmake the ideas and sentiments that adapt it to the social order of things in which it is comprised.
In this respect it acts like positive religions; in its way and on many accounts, it is one of them. In the first place, like religion, it is a living, principal, inexhaustible fountain-head, a high central reservoir of active and directing belief. If the public reservoir is not filled by an intermittent flow, by sudden freshets, by obscure infiltrations of the mystic faculty, it is regularly and openly fed by the constant contributions of the normal faculties. On the other hand, confronting faith, by the side of that beneficent divination which, answering the demands of conscience and the emotions, fashions the ideal world and makes the real world conform to this, it poses the testing process which, analyzing the past and the present, disengages possible laws and the probabilities of the future. Doctrine likewise has its dogmas, many definitive and others in the way of becoming so, and hence a full and complete conception of things, vast enough and clear enough, in spite of what it lacks, to take in at once nature and humanity. It, too, gathers its faithful in a great church, believers and semi-believers, who, consequently or inconsequently, accept its authority in whole or in part, listen to its preachers, revere its doctors, and deferentially await the decisions of its councils. Wide-spread, still uncertain and lax under a wavering hierarchy, the new Church, for a hundred years past, is steadily in the way of consolidation, of progressive ascendency and of indefinite extension. Its conquests are constantly increasing; sooner or later, it will be the first of social powers. Even for the chief of an army, even for the head of a State, even to Napoleon, it is well to become one of its great dignitaries; the second title, in modern society, adds a prestige to the first one: “Salary of His Majesty the Emperor and King as member of the Institute, 1500 francs;” thus begins his civil list, in the enumeration of receipts. Already in Egypt, intentionally and for effect, he heads his proclamations with “Bonaparte, commander-in-chief, member of the Institute.” “I am sure,” he says, “that the lowest drummer will comprehend it!”
Such a body, enjoying such credit, cannot remain independent. Napoleon is not content to be one of its members. He wants to hold it in his grasp, have it at his own disposition, and use it the same as a member or, at least, contrive to get effective control of it. He has reserved to himself an equally powerful one in the old Catholic Church; he has reserved to himself like equivalents in the young lay Church; and, in both cases, he limits them, and subjects them to all the restrictions which a living body can support. In relation to science and religion he might repeat word for word his utterances in relation to religion and to faith. “Napoleon has no desire to change the belief of his populations; he respects spiritual matters; he wishes simply to dominate over them without touching them, without meddling with them; all he desires is to make them square with his views, with his policy, but through the influence of temporalities.” To this end, he negotiated with the Pope, reconstructed, as he wanted it, the Church of France, appointed bishops, restrained and directed the canonical authorities. To this end, he settles matters with the literary and scientific authorities, gets them together in a large hall, gives them arm-chairs to sit in, gives by-laws to their groups, a purpose and a rank in the State, in brief, he adopts, remakes, and completes the “National Institute” of France.
This Institute, in conformity with the traditions of the old monarchy and with the plans, sketched out and decreed by the revolutionary assemblies,1 in conformity with the immemorial principle of French law which enlarges the interference of the central power, not only in relation to public instruction but to science, literature and the fine arts, is a creature and an appendage of the State. It is the State which has produced and shaped it, which has given to it its title, which assigns it its object, its location, its subdivisions, its dependencies, its correspondences, its mode of recruitment, which prescribes its labors, its reports, its tri-monthly and annual sessions, which gives it employment and defrays its expenses. Its members receive a salary, and “the subjects elected2 must be confirmed by the First Consul.” Moreover, Napoleon has only to utter a word to insure votes for the candidate whom he approves of, or to black-ball the candidate whom he dislikes. Even when confirmed by the head of the State, an election can be cancelled by his successor; in 1816,1 Monge, Carnot, Guyton de Morveau, Grégoire, Garat, David and others, sanctioned by long possession and by recognized merit, are to be stricken off the list; by the same sovereign right, the State admits and excludes them, the right of the creator over his creation, and, without pushing his right as far as that, Napoleon uses it.
He holds the members of his Institute in check with singular rigidity, even when, outside of the Institute and as private individuals, they fail to observe in their writings the proper rules imposed on every public body. The rod falls heavily on Jerome de Lalande, the astronomical computer who continues the work of Montucla, publicly and in a mortifying way, the blow being given by his colleagues who are thus delegated for the purpose. “A member of the Institute,” says the imperial note,2 “well known for his attainments, but now fallen into an infantile state, is not wise enough to keep his mouth shut, and tries to have himself talked about, at one time by advertisements unworthy of his old reputation as well as of the body to which he belongs, and again by openly professing atheism, the great enemy of all social organization.” Consequently, the presidents and secretaries of the Institute, summoned by the minister, notify the Institute “that it must send to M. de Lalande and enjoin him not to print anything, not cast a shadow in his old age over what he has done in his vigorous days to obtain the esteem of savants.” M. de Chateaubriand, in his coming reception address, alluding to the revolutionary rôle of his predecessor, Marie Chénier, observed that he could eulogize him only as the man of letters,3 and, in the reception committee, six out of twelve academicians had accepted the discourse. Thereupon, Fontanes, one of the twelve, prudently abstains from going to Saint-Cloud. M. de Ségur, however, president of the committee, he goes. In the evening, at the coucher, Napoleon advances to him before the whole court and, in that terrifying tone of voice which still vibrates through the dead lines of the silent page, “Sir,” says he to him, “literary people desire to set France in a blaze! . . . How dare the Academy speak of regicides? . . . I ought to put you and M. de Fontanes, as Councillor of State and Grand-Master, in Vincennes. . . . You preside over the second class of the Institute. I order you to inform it that I will not allow politics at its sessions. . . . If the class disobeys I will put an end to it as an objectionable club!”
Thus warned, the members of the Institute remain within the circle traced out for them and, for many, the circle is sufficiently large. Let the first class of the Institute, in the mathematical, physical and natural sciences, Lagrange, Laplace, Legendre, Carnot, Biot, Monge, Cassini, Lalande, Burckardt and Arago, Poisson, Berthollet, Gay-Lussac, Guyton de Morveau, Vauquelin, Thénard and Hamy, Duhamel, Lamarck, de Jussieu, Mirbel, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and Cuvier, pursue their researches; let Delambre and Cuvier, in their quarterly reports, sum up and announce discoveries; let, in the second class of the Institute, Volney, Destutt de Tracy, Andrieux, Picard, Lemercier and Chateaubriand, if the latter desires to take part in its sittings, give dissertations on languages, grammar, rhetoric, rules of style and of taste; let, in the third class of the Institute, Sylvestre de Sacy publish his Arabic grammar; let Langlès continue his Persian, Indian and Tartar studies; let Quatremère de Quincy, explaining the structure of the great chryselephantine statues, reproduce conjecturally the surface of ivory and the internal framework of the Olympian Jupiter; let D’Ansse de Villoison discover in Venice the commentary of the Alexandrian critics on Homer; let Larcher, Boissonade, Clavier, alongside of Coraï publish their editions of the old Greek authors—all this causes no trouble, and all is for the honor of the government. Their credit reflects on the avowed promoter, the official patron and responsible director of science, erudition and talent; therefore, in his own interest, he favors and rewards them. Laurent de Jussieu and Cuvier are titular councillors of the University, Delambre is its treasurer, and Fontanes its Grand-Master. Delille, Boissonade and Royer-Collard and Guizot teach in the faculty of letters; Biot, Poisson, Gay-Lussac, Hamy, Thénard, Brongniart, G. Saint-Hilaire in the faculty of the sciences; Monge, Berthollet, Fourier, Andrieux in the Ecole Polytechnique; Pinel, Vauquelin, de Jussieu, Richèraud, Dupuytren in the Ecole de Médécine; Fourcroy is councillor of State, Laplace and Chaptal, after having been ministers, become senators; in 1813, there are twenty-three members of the Institute in the Senate; the zoölogist Lacépede is grand-chancellor of the Legion of Honor; while fifty-six members of the Institute, decorated with an imperial title, are chevaliers, barons, dukes, and even princes.1 —This is even one more lien, admirably serving to bind them to the government more firmly and to incorporate them more and more in the system. In effect, they now derive their importance and their living from the system and the government; having become dignitaries and functionaries they possess a password in this twofold capacity; henceforth, they will do well to look upward to the master before expressing a thought and to know how far the password allows them to think.
In this respect, the First Consul’s intentions are manifest from the very first day. In his reconstruction of the Institute1 he has suppressed “the class of moral and political sciences,” and therefore the first four sections of the class, “analysis of sensations and ideas, moral science, social science and legislation, and political economy;” he cuts off the main branch with its four distinct branches, and what he keeps or tolerates he trims and grafts or fastens on to another branch of the third class, that of the erudites and antiquaries. The latter may very well occupy themselves with political and moral sciences but only “in their relations with history,” and especially with ancient history. General conclusions, applicable theories, on account of their generality, to late events and to the actual situation are unnecessary; even as applied to the State in the abstract, and in the cold forms of speculative discussion, they are interdicted. The First Consul, on the strength of this, in connection with “Dernières vues de politique et de finances,” published by Necker, has set forth his exact rule and his threatening purpose: “Can you imagine,” says he to Rœderer, “that any man, since I became head of the State, could propose three sorts of government for France? Never shall the daughter of M. Necker come back to Paris!” She would then get to be a distinct centre of political opinion while only one is necessary, that of the First Consul in his Council of State. Again, this council itself is only half competent and at best consultative: “You yourselves do not know what government is.2 You have no idea of it. I am the only one, owing to my position, that can know what a government is.” On this domain, and everywhere on the undefined surroundings of this domain, afar, as far as his piercing eye can penetrate, no independent idea must either be conceived or, especially, published.
In particular, the foremost and guiding science of the analysis of the human understanding, pursued according to the methods and after the examples furnished by Locke, Hume, Condillac and Destutt de Tracy, ideology is proscribed. “It is owing to ideology,” he says,1 “to that metaphysical obscurity which, employing its subtleties in trying to get at first causes, seeks to base the legislation of a people on that foundation, instead of appropriating laws to a knowledge of the human heart and the lessons of history, that all the misfortunes of our admirable France must be attributed.” In 1806, M. de Tracy, unable to print his “Commentaire sur l’Esprit des Lois” in France, sends it to the president of the United States, Jefferson, who translates it into English, publishes it anonymously, and has it taught in his schools.2 About the same date, the republication of the “Traité d’économie-politique” of J.-B. Say is prohibited, the first edition of which, published in 1804, was soon exhausted.3 In 1808, all publications of local and general statistics, formerly incited and directed by Chaptal, were interrupted and stopped; Napoleon always demands figures, but he keeps them for himself; if divulged they would prove inconvenient, and henceforth they become State secrets. The same precautions and the same rigor are extended to books on law, even technical, and against a “Précis historique du droit Romain.” “This work,” says the censorship, “might give rise to a comparison between the progress of authority under Augustus and that going on under the reign of Napoleon, in such a way as to produce a bad effect on public opinion.”1 In effect, nothing is more dangerous than history, for it is composed, not of general propositions that are unintelligible except to the meditative, but of particular facts accessible and interesting to the first one that comes along.
For this reason, not only the science of sensations and of ideas, philosophic law and comparative law, politics and moral law, the science of wealth and statistics, but again, and especially, the history of France, is a State affair, an object of government; for no object affects the government more nearly; no study contributes so much towards strengthening or weakening the ideas and impressions which shape public opinion for or against him. It is not sufficient to superintend this history, to suppress it if need be, to prevent it from being a poor one; it must again be ordered, inspired and manufactured, that it may be a good one. “There is no work more important.2 . . . I am very far from counting expense in any matter. It is even my intention to have it understood through the minister that no work better deserves my protection.” Above all, the spirit of the authors who write should be made sure of. “Not only must this work be entrusted to authors of real talent, but again to attached men, who will present facts in this true light and prepare healthy instruction by bringing history down to the year viii.” But this instruction can be healthy only through a series of preliminary and convergent judgments, insinuating into all minds the final approval and well-founded admiration of the existing régime. Accordingly, the historian “must feel at each line” the defects of the ancient régime, “the influence of the court of Rome, of confessional tickets, of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, of the ridiculous marriage of Louis XIV. with Madame de Maintenon, the perpetual disorder in the finances, the pretensions of the parliament, the want of rules and impulse in the administration, . . . in such a way that one breathes on reaching the epoch when one enjoys the benefits of that which is due to the unity of the laws, administration and territory.” The constant feebleness of the government under Louis XIV. even, under Louis XV. and Louis XVI., “should inspire the need of sustaining the newly accomplished work and its acquired preponderance.” On the 18th of Brumaire, France came into port; the Revolution must be spoken of only as a final, fatal and inevitable tempest.1 “When that work, well done and written in a right direction, appears, nobody will have the will or the patience to write another, especially when, far from being encouraged by the police, one will be discouraged by it.” In this way, the government which, in relation to the young, has awarded to itself the monopoly of teaching, awards to itself in relation to adults, the monopoly of history.
If Napoleon thus guards himself against those who think, it is for no other reason than because their thoughts, once written down by themselves or by others, reach the public,2 the sovereign alone having the right to talk in public. Between writer and readers, every communication is intercepted beforehand by a triple and quadruple line of defences through which a long, tortuous and narrow wicket is the only passage, and where the manuscript, like a bundle of suspicious goods, is overhauled and repeatedly verified after having obtained its free certificate and its permit of circulation. Napoleon thus declares that “the printing-office1 is an arsenal which must not be within the reach of everybody. . . . It is very important for me that only those be allowed to print who have the confidence of the government. A man who addresses the public in print is like the man who speaks in public in an assembly, and certainly no one can dispute the sovereign’s right to prevent the first comer from haranguing the public.”—On the strength of this, he makes publishing a privileged, authorized and regulated office of the State. The writer, consequently, before reaching the public, must previously undergo the scrutiny of the printer and bookseller, who, both responsible, sworn and patented, will take good care not to risk their patent, the loss of their daily bread, ruin, and, besides this, a fine and imprisonment.—In the second place, the printer, the bookseller and the author are obliged to place the manuscript or, by way of toleration, the work as it goes through the press, in the hands of the official censors;2 the latter read it and made their weekly report to the general director of publications; they indicate the good or bad spirit of the work, the “unsuitable or interdicted passages according to circumstances,” the intended, involuntary or merely possible allusions; they exact the necessary suppressions, rectifications and additions. The publisher obeys, the printers furnish proofs, and the author has submitted; his proceedings and attendance in the bureaux are at end. He thinks himself safe in port, but he is not.
Through an express reservation, the director-general always has the right to suppress works, “even after they have been examined, printed and authorized to appear.” In addition to this, the minister of the police,1 who, above the director-general, likewise has his censorship bureau, may, in his own right, place seals on the sheets already printed, destroy the plates and forms in the printing-office, send a thousand copies of the “Germany” by Madame de Staël to the paper-mill, “take measures to see that not a sheet remains,” demand of the author his manuscript, recover from the author’s friends the two copies he has lent to them, and take back from the director-general himself the two copies for his service locked up in a drawer in his cabinet.—Two years before this, Napoleon said to Auguste de Staël,2 “Your mother is not bad. She has intelligence, a good deal of intelligence. But she is unaccustomed to any kind of discipline. She would not be six months in Paris before I should be obliged to put her in the Temple or at Bicêtre. I should be sorry to do this, because it would make a noise and that would injure me in public opinion.” It makes but little difference whether she abstains from talking politics: “people talk politics in talking about literature, the fine arts and morality, about everything in the world; women should busy themselves with their knitting,” and men keep silent or, if they do talk, let it be on a given subject and in the sense prescribed.
Of course, the inspection is still more rigorous and more repressive on publicity, more exacting and more persistent.—At the theatre, where the assembled spectators become enthusiastic through the quick contagion of their sensibilities, the police cut out of the “Heraclius” of Corneille and the “Athalie” of Racine3 from twelve to twenty-five consecutive lines and patch up the broken passages as carefully as possible with lines or parts of lines of their own.—On the periodical press, on the newspaper which has acquired a body of readers and which exercises an influence and groups its subscribers according to an opinion, if not political, at least philosophic and literary, there is a compression which goes even as far as utter ruin. From the beginning of the Consulate,1 sixty out of seventy-three political journals are suppressed; in 1811, the thirteen that still existed are reduced to four and the editors-in-chief are appointed by the minister of police. The property of these journals, on the other hand, is confiscated, while the Emperor, who had taken it, concedes it, one third to his police and the other two thirds to people of the court or littérateurs who are his functionaries or his creatures. Under this always aggravated system the newspapers, from year to year, become so barren that the police, to interest and amuse the public, contrive a pen warfare in their columns between one amateur of French music and one of Italian music.
Books, almost as rigorously kept within bounds, are mutilated or prevented from appearing.2 Chateaubriand is forbidden to reprint his “Essay on Revolutions,” published in London under the Directory. In “L’Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem” he is compelled to cut out “a good deal of declamation on courts, courtiers and certain features calculated to excite misplaced allusions.” The censorship interdicts the “Dernier des Abencerrages,” where “it finds too warm an interest in the Spanish cause.” One must read the entire register to see it at work and in detail, to feel the sinister and grotesque minutia with which it pursues and destroys, not alone among great or petty writers but, again, among compilers and insignificant abbreviators, in a translation, in a dictionary, in a manual, in an almanac, not only ideas but suggestions, echoes, semblances and oversights in thinking, the possibilities of awakening reflection and comparison—every souvenir of the ancient régime, this or that mention of Kléber or Moreau, or a particular conversation of Sully and Henry IV.; “a game of loto,1 which familiarizes youth with the history of their country,” but which says too much about “the family of the grand-dauphin of Louis XVI. and his aunts”; the general work of the reveries of Cagliostro and of M. Henri de Saint-Mesmin, very laudatory of the Emperor, excellent “for filling the soul of Frenchmen with his presence, but which must leave out three awkward comparisons that might be detected by the malevolent or the foolish;” the “translation into French verse of several of David’s psalms,” which are not dangerous in Latin but which, in French, have the defect of a possible application, through coincidence and prophecy, to the Church as suffering, and to religion as persecuted;—and quantities of other literary insects hatched in the depths of publication, nearly all ephemeral, crawling and imperceptible, but which the censor, through zeal and his trade, considers as redoubtable dragons whose heads must be smashed or their teeth extracted.
The next lot proves inoffensive, and, better still, is serviceable, especially the almanacs,2 “in rectifying the ideas of the people in many respects; for 1812, things will probably be in train for controling their composition, and they must be full of anecdotes, songs and stories adapted to the maintenance of patriotism and of devotion to the sacred person of His Majesty and to the Napoleonic dynasty.”—To this end, the police likewise ameliorates, orders and pays for dramatic or lyric productions of all kinds, cantatas, ballets, impromptus, vaudevilles, comedies, grand-operas, comic operas—a hundred and seventy-six works in one day, composed for the birth of the King of Rome and paid for in rewards to the sum of eighty-eight thousand four hundred francs. Let the administration look to this beforehand so as to raise up talent and have it bear good fruit. “Complaints are made because we have no literature;1 it is the fault of the minister of the interior.” Napoleon personally and in the height of a campaign interposes in theatrical matters. Afar in Prussia, and at home in France, he leads tragic authors by the hand, Raynouard, Legouvé, Luce de Lancival; he listens to the first reading of the “Mort d’Henri IV.” and the “États de Blois.” He gives to Gardel, a ballet-composer, “a fine subject in the Return of Ulysses.” He explains to authors how dramatic effect should, in their hands, become a political lesson; for lack of anything better, and waiting for these to comprehend it, he uses the theatre the same as a tribune for the reading to the spectators of his bulletins of the grand army.
On the other hand, in the daily newspapers, he is his own advocate, the most vehement, the haughtiest, the most powerful of polemics. For a long time, in the “Moniteur,” he himself dictates articles which are known by his style. After Austerlitz, he has no time to do this, but he inspires them all and they are prepared under his orders. In the “Moniteur” and other gazettes, it is his voice which, directly or by his mouthpieces, reaches the public; it alone prevails and one may divine what it utters! The official shoutings of every group or authority in the State again swell the one great, constant, triumphant adulatory hymn which, with its insistence, unanimity and violent sonorities, tends to bewilder all minds, deaden consciences and pervert the judgment. “Were it open to doubt,” says a member of the tribunate,1 “whether heaven or chance gives sovereigns on earth, would it not be evident for us that we owe our Emperor to some divinity?”—Another of the choir then takes up the theme in a minor key and thus sings the victory of Austerlitz: “Europe, threatened by a new invasion of the barbarians, owes its safety to the genius of another Charles Martel.” Similar cantatas follow, intoned in the senate and lower house by Lacépède, Pérignot and Garat, and then, in each diocese, by the bishops, some of whom, in their pastoral letters, raise themselves up to the technical considerations of military art, and, the better to praise the Emperor, explain to their parishioners the admirable combinations of his strategic genius.
And truly, his strategy is admirable, lately against Catholic ideas and now against the laic mind. First of all, he has extended, selected and defined his field of operations, and here is his objective point, fixed by himself. “On public affairs, which are my affairs in political, social and moral matters, on history, and especially on actual history, recent and modern, nobody of the present generation is to give any thought but myself and, in the next generation, everybody will follow my example.” With this objective point in view, he has assigned to himself the monopoly of education; he has introduced military discipline and habits and the military spirit into all the public and private educational establishments for secondary instruction; he has reduced and subjected the ecclesiastiaal superintendence of primary education to the minimum; he has removed the last vestige of local, encyclopedic and autonomous universities and substituted for these special and professional schools; he has rendered veritable superior instruction abortive and stifled all spontaneous and disinterested curiosity in youth.—Meanwhile ascending to the source of laic intelligence, he has fastened himself on the Institute. He has effected the necessary amputations, appropriated the credit to himself and imposed his favor or disfavor on the masters of science and literature; then, descending from the source to the canals, constructing dams, arranging channels, applying his constraints and impulsions, he has subjected science and literature to his police, to his censorship and to his control of publishing and printing; he has taken possession of all the publicities—theatre, newspaper, book, pulpit and tribune; he has organized all these into one vast manufactory which he watches over and directs, a factory of public spirit which works unceasingly and in his hands to the glorification of his system, reign and person. Again here, he is found equal and like himself, a stern conqueror making the most of his conquest to the last extreme, a calculator as minute as he is profound, as ingenious as he is consequent, incomparable in adapting means to ends, unscrupulous in carrying them out,1 fully satisfied that, through the constant physical pressure of universal and crushing dread, all resistance would be overcome, maintaining and prolonging the struggle with colossal forces, but against a historic and natural force lying beyond his grasp, lately against belief founded on religious instinct and on tradition, and now against evidence engendered by realities and by the agency of the testing process; consequently, obliged to interdict the testing process, to falsify things, to disfigure the reality, to deny the evidence, to lie daily and each day more outrageously,1 to accumulate glaring acts so as to impose silence, to arouse by this silence and by these lies2 the attention and perspicacity of the public, to transform almost mute whispers into sounding words and insufficient eulogies into open protestations; in short, weakened by his own success and condemned beforehand to succumb under his victories, to disappear after a short triumph, to leave intact and erect the indestructible rival whom he would like to crush as an adversary but turn to account as an instrument.
Lamennais, “Du Progrès de la Révolution,” p. 163.
“The Modern Régime,” i., 247.
Pelet de la Lozère, p. 159.
Maggiolo, “Les Ecoles en Lorraine avant et après 1789,” 3d part, p. 22 and following pages. (Details on the foundation or the revival of primary schools in four departments after 1802.) Sometimes, the master is the one who taught before 1789, and his salary is always the same as at that time; I estimate that, in a village of an average size, he might earn in all between 500 and 600 francs a year; his situation improves slowly and remains humble and wretched down to the law of 1833.—There are no normal schools for the education of primary instructors except one at Strasbourg established in 1811 by the prefect, and the promise of another after the return from Elba, April 27, 1815. Hence the teaching staff is of poor quality, picked up here and there haphazard. But, as the small schools satisfy a felt want, they increase. In 1815, there are more than 22,000, about as many as in 1789; in the four departments examined by M. Maggiolo there are almost as many as there are communes.—Nevertheless, elsewhere, “in certain departments, it is not rare to find twenty or thirty communes in one arrondissement with only one schoolmaster. . . . One who can read and write is consulted by his neighbors the same as a doctor.”—(“Ambroise Rendu,” by E. Rendu, p. 107, Report of 1817.)
Decree of May 1, 1802, articles 2, 4 and 5.—Decree of March 17, 1808, articles 5, 8 and 117.
E. Rendu, ibid., pp. 39 and 41.
Id., ibid., 41. (Answers of approval of the bishops, letter of the archbishop of Bordeaux, May 29, 1808.) “There are only too many schools whose instructors neither give lessons nor set examples of Catholicism or even of Christianity. It is very desirable that these wicked men should not be allowed to teach.”
Decree of Nov. 15, 1811, article 192.—Cf. the decree of March 17, 1808, article 6. “The small primary schools are those where one learns to read, write and cipher.”—Ibid., § 3, article 5, definition of boarding-schools and secondary communal schools. This definition is rendered still more precise in the decree of Nov. 15, 1811, article 16.
Pelet de la Lozère, ibid., 175. (Words of Napoleon before the Council of State, May 21, 1806.)
Alexis Chevalier, “Les Frères des écoles chrétiennes pendant la Révolution,’ 93. (Report by Portalis approved by the First Consul, Frimaire 10, year xii.)
“Ambroise Rendu,” by E. Rendu, p. 42.
D’Haussonville, “L’Eglise romaine et le premier Empire,” ii., 257, 266. (Report of Portalis to the Emperor, Feb. 13, 1806.)
Cuvier, “Rapport sur l’instruction publique dans les nouveaux départements de la basse Allemagne, fait en exécution du décret du 13 novembre 1810,” pp. 4-8. “The principle and aim of each university is to have courses of lectures on every branch of human knowledge if there are any pupils who desire this. . . . No professor can hinder his colleague from treating the same subjects as himself; most of their increase depends on the remuneration of the pupils which excites the greatest emulation in their work.”—The university, generally, is in some small town; the student has no society but that of his comrades and his professors; again, the university has jurisdiction over him and itself exercises its rights of oversight and police. “Living in their families, with no public amusements, with no distractions, the middle-class Germans, especially in North Germany, regard reading, study and meditation as their chief pleasures and main necessity; they study to learn rather than to prepare themselves for a lucrative profession. . . . The theologian scrutinizes even to their roots the truths of morality and of natural theology. As to positive religion he wishes to know its history and will study in the original tongue sacred writings and all the languages relating to it that may throw light on it; he desires to possess the details of Church history and become acquainted with the usages of one century after another and the motives of the changes which took place.—The jurisconsult is not content with a knowledge of the code of his country; in his studies everything must be related to the general principles of natural and political laws. He must know the history of rights at all epochs, and, consequently, he has need of the political history of nations; he must be familiar with the various European constitutions, and be able to read the diplomas and charters of all ages; the complex German legislation obliges him, and will for a long time, to know the canon laws of both religious, of feudal and public law, as well as of civil and criminal law; and if the means of verifying at its sources all that is taught to him are not afforded to him, he regards instruction as cut short and insufficient.”
Louis Liard, “L’Enseignement supérieur en France,” pp. 307-309
Comte Chaptal, “Notes.”—Chaptal, a bright scholar, studied in his philosophy class at Rodez under M. Laguerbe, a highly esteemed professor. “Everything was confined to unintelligible discussions on metaphysics and to the puerile subtleties of logic.” This lasted two years. Public discussions by the pupils were held three or four hours long; the bishop, the noblesse, the full chapter attended at these scholastic game-cock fights. Chaptal acquired a few correct notions of geometry, algebra and the planetary system, but outside of that, he says, “I got nothing out of it but a great facility in speaking Latin and a passion for cavilling.”
Louis Liard, “Universités et Facultés,” pp. 1-12.
Pelet de la Lozère, 176 (Session of the Council of State, May 21, 1806).
Liard, “L’Enseignement supérieur en France,” 71, 73. “In the law schools, say the memorials of 1789, there is not the fiftieth part of the pupils who attend the professors’ lectures.”—Fourcroy, “Exposé des motifs de la loi concernant les Ecoles de droit,” March 13, 1804. “In the old law faculties the studies were of no account, inexact and rare, the lectures being neglected or not attended. Notes were bought instead of being taken. Candidates were received so easily that the examinations no longer deserved their name. Bachelor’s degrees and others were titles bought without study or trouble.”—Cf. the “Mémoires” of Brissot and the “Souvenirs of d’Audifret-Pasquier,” both of them law students before 1789.—M. Léo de Savigny, in his recent work, “Die französischen Rechtsfacultäten” (p. 74 et seq.), refers to other authorities not less decisive.
Decree of March 19, 1807, articles 42, 45.
Courcelle-Seneuil, “Préparation à l’étude du droit” (1887), pp. 5, 6 (on the teaching of law by the Faculty of Paris).
Léo de Savigny, ibid., p. 161.
Bréal, “Quelques mots sur l’instruction publique” (1892), pp. 327, 341.—Liard, “Universités et Facultés,” p. 13 et seq.
Act of Jan. 23, 1803, for the organization of the Institute.
Voltaire’s “Essai sur les mœurs” is of 1756; “L’Esprit des Lois” by Montesquieu also, in 1754, and his “Traité des Sensations.” The “Emile” of Rousseau is of 1762; the “Traité de la formation mécanique des langues,” by de Brosses, is of 1765; the “Physiocratie” by Quesnay appeared in 1768, and the “Encyclopédie” between 1750 and 1765.
On the equal value of the testing process in moral and physical sciences, David Hume, in 1737, stated the matter decisively in his “Essay on Human Nature.” Since that time, and particularly since the “Compte-rendu” by Necker, but especially in our time, statistics have shown that the near or remote determining motives of human action are powers (grandeurs) expressed by figures, interdependent, and which warrant, here as elsewhere, precise and numerical foresight.
Cf. Liard, “L’Enseignement supérieur en France,” vol. i., in full.—Also the law of Brumaire 3, year iv. (Oct. 25, 1795), on the primitive organization of the Institute.
Decree of Jan. 23, 1803.
Decree of March 21, 1816.
“Corréspondance de Napoléon,” letters to M. de Champagny, Dec. 13, 1805, and Jan. 3, 1806. “I see with pleasure the promise made by M. de Lalande and what passed on that occasion.”
De Ségur, “Mémoires,” iii., 457.—“M. de Chateaubriand composed his address with a good deal of skill; he evidently did not wish to offend any of his colleagues, without even excepting Napoleon. He lauded with great eloquence the fame of the Emperor and exalted the grandeur of republican sentiments.” In explanation of and excusing his silence and omissions regarding his regicide predecessor, he likened Chénier to Milton and remarked that, for forty years, the same silence had been observed in England with reference to Milton.
Edmond Leblanc, “Napoléon Iere et ses institutions civiles et administratives,” pp. 225-233.—Annuaire de l’Institut for 1813.
Law of Oct. 25, 1795, and act of Jan. 23, 1803.
Rœderer, iii., 548.—Id., iii., 332 (Aug. 2, 1801).
Welschinger, “La Censure sous le premier Empire,” p. 440. (Speech by Napoleon to the Council of State, Dec. 20, 1812.)—Merlet, “Tableau de la littérature française de 1800 à 1815,” i., 128. M. Royer-Collard had just given his first lecture at the Sorbonne to an audience of three hundred persons against the philosophy of Locke and Condillac (1811). Napoleon, having read the lecture, says on the following day to Talleyrand: “Do you know, Monsieur le Grand-Electeur, that a new and very important philosophy is appearing in my University . . . which may well rid us entirely of the ideologists by killing them on the spot with reason?”—Royer-Collard, on being informed of this eulogium, remarked to some of his friends: “The Emperor is mistaken. Descartes is more refractory to despotism than Locke.”
Mignet, “Notices et Portraits.” (Eulogy of M. de Tracy.)
J.-B. Say, “Traité d’économie-politique,” 2d ed., 1814 (Notice). “The press was no longer free. Every exact presentation of things received the censure of a government founded on a lie.”
Welschinger, p. 160 (Jan. 24, 1810).—Villemain, “Souvenirs contemporains,” vol. i., p. 180. After 1812, “it is literally exact to state that every emission of written ideas, every historical mention, even the most remote and most foreign, became a daring and suspicious matter.”—(Journal of Sir John Malcolm, Aug. 4, 1815, visit to Langlès, the orientalist, editor of Chardin, to which he has added notes, one of which is on the mission to Persia of Sir John Malcolm.) “He at first said to me that he had followed another author: afterwards he excused himself by alleging the system of Bonaparte, whose censors, he said, not only cut out certain passages, but added others which they believed helped along his plans.”
Merlet, ibid. (According to the papers of M. de Fontanes, ii. 258.)
Id., ibid. “Care must be taken to avoid all reaction in speaking of the Revolution. No man could oppose it. Blame belongs neither to those who have perished nor to those who survived it. It was not in any individual might to change the elements and foresee events born out of the nature of things.”
Villemain, ibid., i., 145. (Words of M. de Narbonne on leaving Napoleon after several interviews with him in 1812.) “The Emperor, so powerful, so victorious, is disturbed by only one thing in this world and that is by people who talk, and, in default of these, by those who think. And yet he seems to like them or, at least, cannot do without them.”
Welschinger, ibid., p. 30. (Session of the Council of State, Dec. 12, 1809.)
Welschinger, ibid., pp. 31, 33, 175, 190. (Decree of Feb. 5, 1810.)—“Revue Critique,” Sep. 1870. (Weekly bulletin of the general direction of publications for the last three months of 1810 and the first three months of 1814, published by Charles Thursot.)
Collection of laws and decrees, vol. xii., p. 170. “When the censors shall have examined a work and allowed the publication of it, the publishers shall be authorized to have it printed. But the minister of the police shall still have the right to suppress it entirely if he thinks proper.”—Welschinger, ibid., pp. 346-374.
Welschinger, ibid., pp. 173, 175.
Id., ibid., pp. 223, 231, 233. (The copy of “Athalie” with the erasures of the police still exists in the prompter’s library of the Théâtre Français.)—Id., ibid., p. 244. (Letter of the secretary-general of the police to the weekly managers of the Théâtre Français, Feb. 1, 1809, in relation to the “Mort d’Hector,” by Luce de Lancival.) “Messieurs, His Excellency, the minister-senator, has expressly charged me to request the suppression of the following lines on the stage in ‘Hector’:
Welschinger, ibid., p. 13. (Act of Jan. 17, 1800.)—117, 118. (Acts of Feb. 18, 1811, and Sep. 17, 1813.)—119, 129. (No indemnity for legitimate owners. The decree of confiscation states in principle that the ownership of journals can become property only by virtue of an express concession made by the sovereign, that this concession was not made to the actual founders and proprietors and that their claim is null.)
Id., ibid., pp. 196, 201.
“Revue critique,” ibid., pp. 142, 146, 149.
Welschinger, ibid., p. 251.
“Corréspondance de Napoléon Iere.” (Letter of the Emperor to Cambacérès, Nov. 21, 1806. Letters to Fouché, Oct. 25 and Dec. 31, 1806.)—Welschinger, ibid., pp. 236, 244.
“Moniteur,” Jan. 1, 1806. (Tribunate, session of Nivose 9, year xiv., speeches of MM. Albisson and Gillet.—Senate, speeches of MM. Pérignot, Garat, de Lacépède.)—In the following numbers we find municipal addresses, letters of bishops and the odes of poets in the same strain.—In the way of official enthusiasm take the following two fine examples. (“Débats,” March 29, 1811.) “The Paris municipal council deliberated on the vote of a pension for life of 10,000 francs in favor of M. de Govers, His Majesty’s second page, for bringing to the Hôtel de Ville the joyful news of the birth of the King of Rome. . . . Everybody was charmed with his grace and presence of mind.”—Faber, “Notices sur l’intérieur de France,” p. 25. “I know of a tolerably large town which could not light its lamps in 1804, on account of having sent its mayor to Paris at the expense of the commune to see Bonaparte crowned.”
Faber, ibid., p. 32 (1807). “I saw one day a physician, an honest man, unexpectedly denounced for having stated in a social gathering in the town some observations on the medical system under the existing government. The denunciator, a French employé, was the physician’s friend and denounced him because he was afraid of being denounced himself.”—Count Chaptal, “Notes.” Enumeration of the police forces which control and complete each other. “Besides the minister and the prefect of police Napoleon had three directors-general residing at Paris and also in superintendence of the departments; . . . besides, commissioners-general of police in all the large towns and special commissioners in all others; moreover, the gendarmerie, which daily transmitted a bulletin of the situation all over France to the inspector-general; again, reports of his aids and generals, of his guard on supplementary police, the most dangerous of all to persons about the court and to the principal agents of the administration; finally, several special police-bodies to render to him an account of what passed among savants, tradesmen and soldiers. All this correspondence reached him at Monon as at the Tuileries.”
Faber, ibid. (1807), p. 35. “Lying, systematically organized, forming the basis of government and consecrated in public acts, . . . the abjuring of all truth, of all personal conviction, is the characteristic of the administrators as presenting to view the acts, sentiments and ideas of the government, which makes use of them for scenic effect in the pieces it gives on the theatre of the world. . . . The administrators do not believe a word they say, nor those administered.”
The following two confidential police reports show, among many others, the sentiments of the public and the usefulness of repressive measures. (Archives nationales, F. 7, 3016, Report of the commissioner-general of Marseilles for the second quarter of 1808.) “Events in Spain have largely fixed, and essentially fixed, attention. In vain would the attentive observer like to conceal the truth on this point; the fact is that the Spanish revolution is unfavorably looked upon. It was at first thought that the legitimate heir would succeed to Charles IV. The way in which people have been undeceived has given the public a direction quite opposite to the devoted ideas of His Majesty the Emperor. . . No generous soul . . . rises to the level of the great continental cause.”—Ibid. (Report for the second quarter of 1809.) “I have posted observers in the public grounds. . . . As a result of these measures, of this constant vigilance, of the care I have taken to summon before me the heads of public establishments when I have ascertained that the slightest word has been spoken, I attain the end proposed. But I am assured that if the fear of the upper police did not restrain the disturbers, the brawlers, they would publicly express an opinion contrary to the principles of the government. . . . Public opinion is daily going down. There is great misery and consternation. Murmurs are not openly heard, but discontent exists among citizens generally. . . . The continental war, the naval warfare, events in Rome, Spain and Germany, the absolute cessation of trade, the conscription, the droits unis . . . are all so many motives of corruption of the public mind. Priests and devotees, merchants and proprietors, artisans, workmen, the people in fine, everybody is discontented. . . . In general, they are insensible to the continental victories. All classes of citizens are much more sensitive to the levies of the conscription than to the successes which come from them.”