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BOOK FIRST: Spontaneous Anarchy - Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution, vol. 1 
The French Revolution, 3 vols., trans. John Durand, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002). Vol. 1.
Part of: The French Revolution, 3 vols.
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I.The beginnings of anarchy—Dearth the first cause—Bad crops—The winter of 1788 and 1789—Dearness and poor quality of bread—In the provinces—At Paris—II.Hopefulness the second cause—Separation and laxity of the Administrative forces—Investigations of local Assemblies—The people become awake to their condition—Convocation of the States-General—Hope is born—The coincidence of early Assemblies with early difficulties—III.The provinces during the first six months of 1789—Effects of the famine—IV.Intervention of ruffians and vagabonds—V.The first jacquerie in Provence—Feebleness or ineffectiveness of repressive measures.
During the night of July 14–15, 1789, the Duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt caused Louis XVI. to be aroused to inform him of the taking of the Bastille. “It is a revolt, then?” exclaimed the King. “Sire!” replied the Duke, “it is a revolution!” The event was even more serious. Not only had power slipped from the hands of the King, but it had not fallen into those of the Assembly; it lay on the ground, ready to the hands of the unchained populace, the violent and overexcited crowd, the mobs which picked it up like some weapon that had been thrown away in the street. In fact, there was no longer any government; the artificial structure of human society was giving way entirely; things were returning to a state of nature. This was not a revolution, but a dissolution.
Two causes excite and maintain the universal upheaval. The first one is a dearth, which, being constant, lasting for ten years, and aggravated by the very disturbances which it excites, bids fair to inflame the popular passions to madness, and change the whole course of the Revolution into a series of spasmodic stumbles.
When a stream is brimful, a slight rise suffices to cause an overflow. So was it with the extreme distress of the eighteenth century. A poor man who finds it difficult to live when bread is cheap, sees death staring him in the face when it is dear. In this state of suffering the animal instinct revolts, and the universal obedience which constitutes public peace depends on a degree more or less of dryness or damp, heat or cold. In 1788, a year of severe drought, the crops had been poor; in addition to this, on the eve of the harvest,1 a terrible hailstorm burst over the region around Paris, from Normandy to Champagne, devastating sixty leagues of the most fertile territory, and causing damage to the amount of one hundred millions of francs. Winter came on, the severest that had been seen since 1709: at the close of December the Seine was frozen over from Paris to Havre, while the thermometer stood at 18¾° below zero. A third of the olive-trees died in Provence, and the rest suffered to such an extent that they were considered incapable of bearing fruit for two years to come. The same disaster befell Languedoc. In Vivarais, and in the Cevennes, whole forests of chestnuts had perished, along with all the grain and grass crops on the uplands; on the plain the Rhône remained in a state of overflow for two months. After the spring of 1789 the famine spread everywhere, and it increased from month to month like a rising flood. In vain did the Government order the farmers, proprietors, and corn-dealers to keep the markets supplied; in vain did it double the bounty on importations, resort to all sorts of expedients, involve itself in debt, and expend over forty millions of francs to furnish France with wheat. In vain do individuals, princes, noblemen, bishops, chapters, and communities multiply their charities, the Archbishop of Paris incurring a debt of 400,000 livres, one rich man distributing 40,000 francs the morning after the hailstorm, and a convent of Bernardins feeding twelve hundred poor persons for six weeks.2 All was not sufficient. Neither public measures nor private charity could meet the overwhelming need. In Normandy, where the last commercial treaty had ruined the manufacture of linen and of lace trimmings, forty thousand workmen were out of work. In many parishes one-fourth of the population3 are beggars. Here, “nearly all the inhabitants, not excepting the farmers and landowners, are eating barley bread and drinking water”; there, “many poor creatures have to eat oat bread, and others soaked bran, which has caused the death of several children.”—“Above all,” writes the Rouen Parliament, “let help be sent to a perishing people. . . . Sire, most of your subjects are unable to pay the price of bread, and what bread is given to those who do buy it!”—Arthur Young,4 who was travelling through France at this time, heard of nothing but the dearness of bread and the distress of the people. At Troyes bread costs four sous a pound—that is to say, eight sous of the present day; and artisans unemployed flock to the relief works, where they can earn only twelve sous a day. In Lorraine, according to the testimony of all observers, “the people are half dead with hunger.” In Paris the number of paupers has been trebled; there are thirty thousand in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine alone. Around Paris there is a short supply of grain, or it is spoilt.5 In the beginning of July, at Montereau, the market is empty. “The bakers could not have baked” if the police officers had not fixed the price of bread at five sous per pound; the rye and barley which the intendant is able to send “are of the worst possible quality, rotten and in a condition to produce dangerous diseases; nevertheless, most of the small consumers are reduced to the hard necessity of using this spoilt grain.” At Villeneuve-le-Roi, writes the mayor, “the rye of the two lots last sent is so black and poor that it cannot be retailed without wheat.” At Sens the barley “tastes musty” to such an extent that buyers of it throw the detestable bread which it makes in the face of the subdelegate. At Chevreuse the barley has sprouted and smells bad; the “poor wretches,” says an employé, “must be hard pressed with hunger to put up with it.” At Fontainebleau “the barley, half eaten away, produces more bran than flour, and to make bread of it, one is obliged to work it over several times.” This bread, such as it is, is an object of savage greed; “it has come to this, that it is impossible to distribute it except through wickets”; those, again, who thus obtain their ration, “are often attacked on the road and robbed of it by the more vigorous of the famished people.” At Nangis “the magistrates prohibit the same person from buying more than two bushels in the same market.” In short, provisions are so scarce that there is a difficulty in feeding the soldiers; the minister dispatches two letters one after another to order the cutting down of 250,000 bushels of rye before the harvest.6 Paris thus, in a perfect state of tranquillity, appears like a famished city put on rations at the end of a long siege, and the dearth will not be greater nor the food worse in December, 1870, than in July, 1789.
“The nearer the 14th of July approached,” says an eye-witness,7 “the more did the dearth increase. Every baker’s shop was surrounded by a crowd, to which bread was distributed with the most grudging economy. . . .This bread was generally blackish, earthy, and bitter, producing inflammation of the throat and pain in the bowels. I have seen flour of detestable quality at the military school and at other depôts. I have seen portions of it yellow in colour, with an offensive smell; some forming blocks so hard that they had to be broken into fragments by repeated blows of a hatchet. For my own part, wearied with the difficulty of procuring this poor bread, and disgusted with that offered to me at the tables d’hôte, I avoided this kind of food altogether. In the evening I went to the Café du Caveau, where, fortunately, they were kind enough to reserve for me two of those rolls which are called flutes, and this is the only bread I have eaten for a week at a time.” But this resource is only for the rich. As for the people, to get bread fit for dogs, they must stand in a line for hours. And here they fight for it; “they snatch food from one another.” There is no more work to be had; “the work-rooms are deserted”; often, after waiting a whole day, the workman returns home empty-handed, and when he does bring back a four-pound loaf it costs him 3 francs 12 sous; that is, 12 sous for the bread, and 3 francs for the lost day. In this long line of unemployed, excited men, swaying to and fro before the shop-door, dark thoughts are fermenting: “if the bakers find no flour to-night to bake with, we shall have nothing to eat tomorrow.” An appalling idea—in presence of which the whole power of the Government is not too strong; for to keep order in the midst of famine nothing avails but the sight of an armed force, palpable and threatening. Under Louis XIV. and Louis XV. there had been even greater hunger and misery; but the outbreaks, which were roughly and promptly put down, were only partial and passing disorders. Some rioters were at once hung, and others were sent to the galleys: the peasant or the workman, convinced of his impotence, at once returned to his stall or his plough. When a wall is too high one does not even think of scaling it.—But now the wall is cracking—all its custodians, the clergy, the nobles, the Third-Estate, men of letters, the politicians, and even the Government itself, making the breach wider. The wretched, for the first time, discover an issue: they dash through it, at first in driblets, then in a mass, and rebellion becomes as universal as resignation was formerly.
It is because through this opening hope steals like a beam of light, and gradually finds its way down to the depths below. For the last fifty years it has been rising, and its rays, which first illuminated the upper class in their splendid apartments in the first story, and next the middle class in their entresol and on the ground floor, have now for two years penetrated to the cellars where the people toil, and even to the deep sinks and obscure corners where rogues and vagabonds and malefactors, a foul and swarming herd, crowd and hide themselves from the persecution of the law. To the first two provincial assemblies instituted by Necker in 1778 and 1779, Loménie de Brienne has in 1778 just added nineteen others; under each of these are assemblies of the arrondissement; under each assembly of the arrondissement are parish assemblies.8 Thus the whole machinery of administration has been changed. It is the new assemblies which assess the taxes and superintend their collection; which determine upon and direct all public works; and which form the court of final appeal in regard to matters in dispute. The intendant, the subdelegate, the élu,9 thus lose three-quarters of their authority. Conflicts arise, consequently, between rival powers whose frontiers are not clearly defined; command shifts about, and obedience is diminished. The subject no longer feels on his shoulders the commanding weight of the one hand which, without possibility of interference or resistance, held him in, urged him forward, and made him move on. Meanwhile, in each assembly of the parish arrondissement, and even of the province, plebeians, “husbandmen,”10 and oftentimes common farmers, sit by the side of lords and prelates. They listen to and remember the vast figure of the taxes which are paid exclusively, or almost exclusively, by them—the taille and its accessories, the poll-tax and road dues, and assuredly on their return home they talk all this over with their neighbour. These figures are all printed; the village attorney discusses the matter with his clients, the artisans and rustics, on Sunday as they leave the mass, or in the evening in the large public room of the tavern. These little gatherings, moreover, are sanctioned, encouraged by the powers above. In the earliest days of 1788 the provincial assemblies order a board of inquiry to be held by the syndics and inhabitants of each parish. Knowledge is wanted in detail of their grievances—what part of the revenue is chargeable to each impost, what the cultivator pays and how much he suffers, how many privileged persons there are in the parish; the amount of their fortune, whether they are residents, what their exemptions amount to; and, in the replies, the attorney who holds the pen, names and points out with his finger each privileged individual, criticizes his way of living, and estimates his fortune, calculates the injury done to the village by his immunities, inveighs against the taxes and the tax-collectors. On leaving these assemblies the villager broods over what he has just heard. He sees his grievances no longer singly as before, but in mass, and coupled with the enormity of evils under which his fellows suffer. Besides this, they begin to disentangle the causes of their misery: the King is good—why then do his collectors take so much of our money? This or that canon or nobleman is not unkind—why then do they make us pay in their place?—Suppose a beast of burden to which a sudden gleam of reason should reveal the equine species contrasted with the human species; and imagine, if you can, what his first ideas would be in relation to the postillions and drivers who bridle and whip him, and again in relation to the good-natured travellers and sensitive ladies who pity him, but who to the weight of the vehicle add their own and that of their luggage.
So, in the mind of the peasant, athwart his perplexed broodings, a new idea, slowly, little by little, is unfolded—that of an oppressed multitude of which he makes one, a vast herd scattered far beyond the visible horizon, everywhere ill used, starved, and fleeced. To wards the end of 1788 we begin to detect in the correspondence of the intendants and military commandants the dull universal muttering of coming wrath. Men’s characters seem to change; they become suspicious and restive.—And just at this moment, the Government, dropping the reins, calls upon them to direct themselves.11 In the month of November, 1787, the King declared that he would convoke the States-General. On the 5th of July, 1788, he calls for memorials on this subject from every competent person and body. On the 8th of August he fixes the date of the session. On the 5th of October he convokes the notables, in order to consider the subject with them. On the 27th of December he grants a double representation to the Third-Estate, because “its cause is allied with generous sentiments, and it will always obtain the support of public opinion.” The same day he introduces into the electoral assemblies of the clergy a majority of curés, “because good and useful pastors are daily and closely associated with the indigence and relief of the people,” from which it follows “that they are much more familiar with their sufferings” and necessities. On the 24th January, 1789, he prescribes the procedure and method of the meetings. After the 7th of February writs of summons are sent out one after the other. Eight days after, each parish assembly begins to draw up its memorial of grievances, and becomes excited over the detailed enumeration of all the miseries which it sets down in writing.—All these appeals and all these acts are so many strokes which reverberate in the popular imagination. “It is the desire of His Majesty,” says the order issued, “that every one, from the extremities of his kingdom, and from the most obscure of its hamlets, should be certain of his wishes and protests reaching him.” Thus, it is all quite true: there can be no mistake about it, the thing is sure. The people are invited to speak out, they are summoned, they are consulted. There is a disposition to relieve them; henceforth their misery shall be less; better times are coming. This is all they know about it. A few months after, in July,12 the only answer a peasant girl can make to Arthur Young is, “something was to be done by some great folks for such poor ones, but she did not know who nor how”; the thing is too complicated, beyond the reach of a stupefied and mechanical brain. One idea alone emerges—the hope of immediate relief, the persuasion that right is on their side, the resolution to aid it with every possible means; and, consequently, an anxious waiting, a ready impulse, a tension of the will which simply stays for the opportunity to relax and launch forth like a resistless arrow towards the unknown end which will reveal itself all of a sudden. It is hunger that so suddenly marks out for them this aim: the market must be supplied with grain; the farmers and owners must bring it; wholesale buyers, whether the Government or individuals, must not transport it elsewhere; it must be sold at a low price; the price must be cut down and fixed, so that the baker can sell bread at two sous the pound; grain, flour, wine, salt, and provisions must pay no more duties; seignorial dues and claims, ecclesiastical tithes, and royal or municipal taxes must no longer exist. On the strength of this idea disturbances broke out on all sides in March, April, and May; contemporaries “do not know what to think of such a scourge;13 they cannot comprehend how such a vast number of criminals, without visible leaders, agree amongst themselves everywhere to commit the same excesses just at the time when the States-General are going to begin their sittings.” The reason is that, under the ancient régime, the conflagration was smouldering in a closed chamber; the great door is suddenly opened, the air enters, and immediately the flame breaks out.
At first there are only intermittent, isolated fires, which are extinguished or go out of themselves; but, a moment after, in the same place, or very near it, the sparks again appear, and their number, like their recurrence, shows the vastness, depth, and heat of the combustible matter which is about to explode. In the four months which precede the taking of the Bastille, over three hundred out breaks may be counted in France. They take place from month to month, and from week to week, in Poitou, Brittany, Touraine, Orléanais, Normandy, Ile-de-France, Picardy, Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy, Nivernais, Auvergne, Languedoc, and Provence. On the 28th of May the parliament of Rouen announces robberies of grain, “violent and bloody tumults, in which men on both sides have fallen,” throughout the province, at Caen, Saint-Lô, Mortain, Granville, Evreux, Bernay, Pont-Andemer, Elboeuf, Louviers, and in other sections besides. On the 20th of April, Baron de Bezenval, military commander in the central provinces, writes: “I once more lay before M. Necker a picture of the frightful condition of Touraine and of Orléanais. Every letter I receive from these two provinces is the narrative of three or four riots, which are put down with difficulty by the troops and constabulary”14 —and throughout the whole extent of the kingdom a similar state of things is seen.
The women, as is natural, are generally at the head of these outbreaks. It is they who, at Montlhéry, rip open the sacks of grain with their scissors. On learning each week, on market-day, that the price of a loaf of bread advances three, four, or seven sous, they break out into shrieks of rage: at this rate for bread, with the small salaries of the men, and when work fails,15 how can a family be fed? Crowds gather around the sacks of flour and the doors of the bakers; amidst outcries and reproaches some one in the crowd makes a push; the proprietor or dealer is hustled and knocked down, the shop is invaded, the commodity is in the hands of the buyers and of the famished, each one grabbing for himself, pay or no pay, and running away with the booty.—Sometimes a party is made up beforehand.16 At Bray-sur-Seine, on the 1st of May, the villagers for four leagues around, armed with stones, knives, and cudgels, to the number of four thousand, compel the husbandmen and farmers who have brought grain with them to sell it at 3 livres, instead of 4 livres 10 sous the bushel; and threaten to do the same thing on the following market-day. The farmers will not come again, the storehouse will be empty, and soldiers must be at hand, or the inhabitants of Bray will be pillaged. At Bagnols, in Languedoc, on the 1st and 2nd of April, the peasants, armed with cudgels and assembled by tap of drum, “traverse the town, threatening to burn and destroy everything if flour and money are not given to them”: they go to private houses for grain, divide it amongst themselves at a reduced price, “promising to pay when the next crop comes round,” and force the consuls to put bread at two sous the pound, and to increase the day’s wages four sous.—Indeed this is now the regular thing; it is not the people who obey the authorities, but the authorities who obey the people. Consuls, sheriffs, mayors, municipal officers, town-clerks, become confused and hesitating in the face of this huge clamour; they feel that they are likely to be trodden under foot or thrown out of the windows. Others, with more firmness, are aware that a riotous crowd is mad, and scruple to spill blood; at least, they yield for the time, hoping that at the next market-day there will be more soldiers and better precautions taken. At Amiens, “after a very violent outbreak,”17 they decide to take the wheat belonging to the Jacobins, and, protected by the troops, to sell it to the people at a third below its value. At Nantes, where the town-hall is attacked, they are forced to lower the price of bread one sou per pound. At Angoulême, to avoid a recourse to arms, they request the Comte d’Artois to renounce his dues on flour for two months, reduce the price of bread, and compensate the bakers. At Cette they are so maltreated they let everything take its course; the people sack their dwellings and get the upper hand; they announce by sound of trumpet that all their demands are granted. On other occasions, the mob dispenses with their services and acts for itself. If there happens to be no grain on the market-place, the people go after it wherever they can find it—to proprietors and farmers who are unable to bring it for fear of pillage; to convents, which by royal edict are obliged always to have one year’s crop in store; to granaries where the Government keeps its supplies; and to convoys which are dispatched by the intendants to the relief of famished towns. Each for himself—so much the worse for his neighbour. The inhabitants of Fougères beat and drive out those who come from Ernée to buy in their market; like violence is shown at Vitré to the inhabitants of Maine.18 At Sainte-Léonard the people stop the grain started for Limoges; at Bost that intended for Aurillac; at Saint-Didier that ordered for Moulins; and at Tournus that dispatched to Macon. In vain are escorts added to the convoys; troops of men and women, armed with hatchets and guns, put themselves in ambush in the woods along the road, and seize the horses by their bridles; the sabre has to be used to secure any advance. In vain are arguments and kind words offered, “and in vain even is wheat offered for money; they refuse, shouting out that the convoy shall not go on.” They have taken a stubborn stand, their resolution being that of a bull planted in the middle of the road and lowering his horns. Since the wheat is in the district, it is theirs; whoever carries it off or withholds it is a robber. This fixed idea cannot be driven out of their minds. At Chantenay, near Mans,19 they prevent a miller from carrying that which he had just bought to his mill; at Montdragon, in Languedoc, they stone a dealer in the act of sending his last waggon-load elsewhere; at Thiers, workmen go in force to gather wheat in the fields; a proprietor with whom some is found is nearly killed; they drink wine in the cellars, and leave the taps running. At Nevers, the bakers not having put bread on their counters for four days, the populace force the granaries of private persons, of dealers and religious communities. “The frightened corn-dealers part with their grain at any price; most of it is stolen in the face of the guards,” and, in the tumult of these domiciliary visits, a number of houses are sacked.—In these days woe to all who are concerned in the acquisition, commerce, and manipulation of grain! Popular imagination requires living beings to whom it may impute its misfortunes, and on whom it may gratify its resentments. To it, all such persons are monopolists, and, at any rate, public enemies. Near Angers the Benedictine establishment is invaded, and its fields and woods are devastated.20 At Amiens “the people are arranging to pillage and perhaps burn the houses of two merchants, who have built labour-saving mills”; restrained by the soldiers, they confine themselves to breaking windows; but other “groups come to destroy or plunder the houses of two or three persons whom they suspect of being monopolists.” At Nantes, a sieur Geslin, being deputed by the people to inspect a house, and finding no wheat, a shout is set up that he is a receiver, an accomplice! The crowd rush at him, and he is wounded and almost cut in pieces.—It is very evident that there is no more security in France; property, even life, is in danger. The first of all property, that of provisions, is violated in hundreds of places, and everywhere is menaced and precarious. The intendants and subdelegates everywhere call for aid, declare the constabulary incompetent, and demand regular troops. And mark how public authority, everywhere inadequate, disorganized, and tottering, finds stirred up against it not only the blind madness of hunger, but, in addition, the evil instincts which profit by every disorder and the inveterate lusts which every political commotion frees from restraint.
We have seen how numerous the smugglers, dealers in contraband salt, poachers, vagabonds, beggars, and escaped convicts21 have become, and how a year of famine increases the number. All are so many recruits for the mobs, and whether in a disturbance or by means of a disturbance each one of them fills his pouch. Around Caux,22 even up to the environs of Rouen, at Roncherolles, Quévrevilly, Préaux, Saint-Jacques, and in all the surrounding neighbourhood bands of armed ruffians force their way into the houses, particularly the parsonages, and lay their hands on whatever they please. To the south of Chartres “three or four hundred woodcutters, from the forests of Bellème, chop away everything that opposes them, and force grain to be given up to them at their own price.” In the vicinity of Étampes, fifteen bandits enter the farmhouses at night and put the farmer to ransom, threatening him with a conflagration. In Cambrésis they pillage the abbeys of Vauchelles, of Verger, and of Guillemans, the chateau of the Marquis de Besselard, the estate of M. Doisy, two farms, the waggons of wheat passing along the road to Saint-Quentin, and, besides this, seven farms in Picardy. “The seat of this revolt is in some villages bordering on Picardy and Cambrésis, familiar with smuggling operations and to the license of that pursuit.” The peasants allow themselves to be enticed away by the bandits. Man slips rapidly down the incline of dishonesty; one who is half-honest, and takes part in a riot inadvertently or in spite of himself, repeats the act, allured on by impunity or by gain. In fact, “it is not dire necessity which impels them”; they make a speculation of cupidity, a new sort of illicit trade. An old carabinier, sabre in hand, a forest-keeper, and “about eight persons sufficiently lax, put themselves at the head of four or five hundred men, go off each day to three or four villages, and force everybody who has any wheat to give it to them at 24 livres,” and even at 18 livres, the sack. Those among the band who say that they have no money carry away their portion without payment. Others, after having paid what they please, resell at a profit, which amounts to even 45 livres the sack; a good business, and one in which greed takes poverty for its accomplice. At the next harvest the temptation will be similar: “they have threatened to come and do our harvesting for us, and also to take our cattle and sell the meat in the villages at the rate of two sous the pound.”—In every important insurrection there are similar evil-doers and vagabonds, enemies to the law, savage, prowling desperadoes, who, like wolves, roam about wherever they scent a prey. It is they who serve as the directors and executioners of public or private malice. Near Usès twenty-five masked men, with guns and clubs, enter the house of a notary, fire a pistol at him, beat him, wreck the premises, and burn his registers along with the title-deeds and papers which he has in keeping for the Count de Rouvres: seven of them are arrested, but the people are on their side, and fall on the constabulary and free them.23 —They are known by their acts, by their love of destruction for the sake of destruction, by their foreign accent, by their savage faces and their rags. Some of them come from Paris to Rouen, and, for four days, the town is at their mercy;24 the stores are forced open, train waggons are discharged, wheat is wasted, and convents and seminaries are put to ransom; they invade the dwelling of the attorney-general, who has begun proceedings against them, and want to tear him to pieces; they break his mirrors and his furniture, leave the premises laden with booty, and go into the town and its outskirts to pillage the manufactories and break up or burn all the machinery.—Henceforth these constitute the new leaders: for in every mob it is the boldest and least scrupulous who march ahead and set the example in destruction. The example is contagious: the beginning was the craving for bread, the end is murder and incendiarism; the savagery which is unchained adding its unlimited violence to the limited revolt of necessity.
Bad as it is, this savagery might, perhaps, have been overcome, in spite of the dearth and of the brigands; but what renders it irresistible is the belief of its being authorised, and that by those whose duty it is to repress it. Here and there words and actions of a brutal frankness break forth, and reveal beyond the sombre present a more threatening future.—After the 9th of January, 1789, among the populace which attacks the Hôtel-de-Ville and besieges the bakers’ shops of Nantes, “shouts of Vive la Liberté!25 mingled with those of Vive le Roi! are heard.” A few months later, around Ploërmel, the peasants refuse to pay tithes, alleging that the memorial of their seneschal’s court demands their abolition. In Alsace, after March, there is the same refusal “in many places”; many of the communities even maintain that they will pay no more taxes until their deputies to the States-General shall have fixed the precise amount of the public contributions. In Isère it is decided, by proceedings, printed and published, that “personal dues” shall no longer be paid, while the landowners who are affected by this dare not prosecute in the tribunals. At Lyons, the people have come to the conclusion “that all levies of taxes are to cease,” and, on the 29th of June, on hearing of the meeting of the three orders, “astonished by the illuminations and signs of public rejoicing,” they believe that the good time has come; “they think of forcing the delivery of meat to them at four sous the pound, and wine at the same rate. The publicans insinuate to them the prospective abolition of octrois, and that, meanwhile, the King, in favour of the reassembling of the three orders, has granted three days’ freedom from all duties at Paris, and that Lyons ought to enjoy the same privilege.” Upon this the crowd, rushing off to the barriers, to the gates of Sainte-Claire and Perrache, and to the Guillotière bridge, burn or demolish the bureaux, destroy the registers, sack the lodgings of the clerks, carry off the money and pillage the wine on hand in the depôt. In the mean time a rumour has circulated all round through the country that there is free entrance into the town for all provisions, and during the following days the peasantry stream in with enormous files of waggons loaded with wine and drawn by several oxen, so that, in spite of the reestablished guard, it is necessary to let them enter all day without paying the dues; it is only on the 7th of July that these can again be collected.—The same thing occurs in the southern provinces, where the principal imposts are levied on provisions. There also the collections are suspended in the name of public authority. At Agde,26 “the people, considering the so-called will of the King as to equality of classes, are foolish enough to think that they are everything and can do everything”; thus do they interpret in their own way and in their own terms the double representation which is accorded to the Third-Estate. They threaten the town, consequently, with general pillage if the prices of all provisions are not reduced, and if the duties of the province on wine, fish, and meat are not suppressed; again, “they wish to nominate consuls who have sprung up out of their body,” and the bishop, the lord of the manor, the mayor and the notables, against whom they forcibly stir up the peasantry in the country, are obliged to proclaim by sound of trumpet that their demands shall be granted. Three days afterwards they exact a diminution of one-half of the tax on grinding, and go in quest of the bishop who owns the mills. The prelate, who is ill, sinks down in the street, and seats himself on a stone; they compel him forthwith to sign an act of renunciation, and hence “his mill, valued at 15,000 livres, is reduced to 7,500 livres.”—At Limoux, under the pretext of searching for grain, they enter the houses of the comptroller and tax contractors, carry off their registers, and throw them into the water along with the furniture of their clerks.—In Provence it is worse; for most unjustly, and through inconceivable imprudence, the taxes of the towns are all levied on flour; it is therefore to this impost that the dearness of bread is directly attributed; hence the fiscal agent becomes a manifest enemy, and revolts on account of hunger are transformed into insurrections against the State.
Here, again, political novelties are the spark that ignites the mass of gunpowder; everywhere, the uprising of the people takes place on the very day on which the electoral assembly meets; from forty to fifty riots occur in the provinces in less than a fortnight. Popular imagination, like that of a child, goes straight to its mark; the reforms having been announced, people think them accomplished, and, to make sure of them, steps are at once taken to carry them out; now that we are to have relief, let us relieve ourselves. “This is not an isolated riot as usual,” writes the commander of the troops;27 “here the faction is united and governed by uniform principles; the same errors are diffused through all minds. . . .The principles impressed on the people are that the King desires equality; no more bishops or lords, no more distinctions of rank, no tithes, and no seignorial privileges. Thus, these misguided people fancy that they are exercising their rights, and obeying the will of the King.” The effect of sonorous phrases is apparent; the people have been told that the States-General were to bring about the “regeneration of the kingdom”; the inference is “that the date of their assembly was to be one of an entire and absolute change of conditions and fortunes.” Hence, “the insurrection against the nobles and the clergy is as active as it is widespread.” “In many places it was distinctly announced that there was a sort of war declared against landowners and property,” and “in the towns as well as in the rural districts the people persist in declaring that they will pay nothing, neither taxes, duties, nor debts.”—Naturally, the first assault is against the piquet, or meal-tax. At Aix, Marseilles, Toulon, and in more than forty towns and market-villages, this is summarily abolished; at Aupt and at Luc nothing remains of the weighing-house but the four walls; at Marseilles the house of the slaughter-house contractor, at Brignolles that of the director of the leather excise, are sacked: the determination is “to purge the land of excise-men.”—This is only a beginning; bread and other provisions must become cheap, and that without delay. At Arles, the corporation of sailors, presided over by M. de Barras, consul, had just elected its representatives: by way of conclusion to the meeting, they pass a resolution insisting that M. de Barras should reduce the price of all comestibles, and, on his refusal, they “open the window, exclaiming, ‘We hold him, and we have only to throw him into the street for the rest to pick him up.’ ” Compliance is inevitable. The resolution is proclaimed by the town-criers, and at each article which is reduced in price the crowd shout, “Vive le Roi, vive M. Barras!”—One must yield to brute force. But the inconvenience is great; for, through the suppression of the meal-tax, the towns have no longer a revenue; and, on the other hand, as they are obliged to indemnify the butchers and bakers, Toulon, for instance, incurs a debt of 2,500 livres a day.
In this state of disorder, woe to those who are under suspicion of having contributed, directly or indirectly, to the evils which the people endure! At Toulon a demand is made for the head of the mayor, who signs the tax-list, and of the keeper of the records; they are trodden under foot, and their houses are ransacked. At Manosque, the Bishop of Sisteron, who is visiting the seminary, is accused of favouring a monopolist; on his way to his carriage, on foot, he is hooted and menaced: he is first pelted with mud, and then with stones. The consuls in attendance, and the subdelegate who come to his assistance, are mauled and repulsed. Meanwhile, some of the most furious begin, before his eyes, “to dig a ditch to bury him in.” Protected by five or six brave fellows, he succeeds in reaching his carriage, amidst a volley of stones, wounded on the head and on many parts of his body, and is finally saved only because the horses, which are likewise stoned, run away. Foreigners, Italians, bandits, are mingled with the peasants and artisans, and expressions are heard and acts are seen which indicate a jacquerie.28 “The most excited said to the bishop, ‘We are poor and you are rich, and we mean to have all your property.’ ”29 Elsewhere, “the seditious mob exacts contributions from all people in good circumstances. At Brignolles, thirteen houses are pillaged from top to bottom, and thirty others half-pillaged.—At Aupt, M. de Montferrat, in defending himself, is killed and “hacked to pieces.”—At La Seyne, the populace, led by a peasant, assemble by beat of drum; some women fetch a bier, and set it down before the house of a leading bourgeois, telling him to prepare for death, and that “they will have the honour of burying him.” He escapes; his house is pillaged, as well as the bureau of the meal-tax; and, the following day, the chief of the band “obliges the principal inhabitants to give him a sum of money to indemnify, as he states it, the peasants who have abandoned their work,” and devoted the day to serving the public.—At Peinier, the Président de Peinier, an octogenarian, is “besieged in his chateau by a band of a hundred and fifty artisans and peasants,” who bring with them a consul and a notary. Aided by these two functionaries, they force the president “to pass an act by which he renounces his seignorial rights of every description.”—At Sollier they destroy the mills belonging to M. de Forbin-Janson, sack the house of his business agent, pillage the chateau, demolish the roof, chapel, altar, railings, and escutcheons, enter the cellars, stave in the casks, and carry away everything that can be carried, “the transportation taking two days”; all of which is a damage of a hundred thousand crowns for the marquis.—At Riez they surround the episcopal palace with fagots, threatening to burn it, “and compromise with the bishop on a promise of fifty thousand livres,” and want him to burn his archives.—In short, the sedition is social, for it singles out for attack all who profit by, or stand at the head of, the established order of things.
Seeing them act in this way, one would say that the theory of the Contrat-Social had been instilled into them. They treat magistrates as domestics, promulgate laws, conduct themselves like sovereigns, exercise public power, and establish, summarily, arbitrarily, and brutally, whatever they think to be in conformity with natural right.—At Peinier they exact a second electoral assembly, and, for themselves, the right of suffrage.—At Saint-Maximin they themselves elect new consuls and officers of justice.—At Solliez they oblige the judge’s lieutenant to give in his resignation, and they break his staff of office.—At Barjols “they use consuls and judges as their town servants, announcing that they are masters and that they will themselves administer justice.”—In fact, they do administer it as they understand it—that is to say, through many exactions and robberies! One man has wheat; he must share it with him who has none. Another has money; he must give it to him who has not enough to buy bread with. On this principle, at Barjols, they tax the Ursuline nuns 1,800 livres, carry off fifty loads of wheat from the Chapter, eighteen from one poor artisan, and forty from another, and constrain canons and beneficiaries to give acquittances to their farmers. Then, from house to house, with club in hand, they oblige some to hand over money, others to abandon their claims on their debtors, “one to desist from criminal proceedings, another to nullify a decree obtained, a third to reimburse the expenses of a lawsuit gained years before, a father to give his consent to the marriage of his son.”—All their grievances are brought to mind, and we all know the tenacity of a peasant’s memory. Having become the master, he redresses wrongs, and especially those of which he thinks himself the object. There must be a general restitution; and first, of the feudal dues which have been collected. They take of M. de Montmeyan’s business agent all the money he has as compensation for that received by him during fifteen years as a notary. A former consul of Brignolles had, in 1775, inflicted penalties to the amount of 1,500 or 1,800 francs, which had been given to the poor; this sum is taken from his strong box. Moreover, if consuls and law officers are wrong-doers, the title-deeds, rent-rolls, and other documents by which they do their business are still worse. To the fire with all old writings—not only office registers, but also, at Hyères, all the papers in the town-hall and those of the principal notary.—In the matter of papers none are good but new ones—those which convey some discharge, quittance, or obligation to the advantage of the people. At Brignolles the owners of the grist-mills are constrained to execute a contract of sale by which they convey their mills to the commune in consideration of 5,000 francs per annum, payable in ten years without interest—an arrangement which ruins them. On seeing the contract signed the peasants shout and cheer, and so great is their faith in this piece of stamped paper that they at once cause a mass of thanksgiving to be celebrated in the Cordeliers. Formidable omens, these! which mark the inward purpose, the determined will, the coming deeds of this rising power. If it prevails, its first work will be to destroy all ancient documents, all title-deeds, rent-rolls, contracts, and claims to which force compels it to submit. By force likewise it will draw up others to its own advantage, and the scribes who do it will be its own deputies and administrators whom it holds in its rude grasp.
Those who are in high places are not alarmed; they even find that there is some good in the revolt, inasmuch as it compels the towns to suppress unjust taxation.30 The new Marseilles guard, formed of young men, is allowed to march to Aubagne, “to insist that M. le lieutenant criminel and M. l’avocat du Roi release the prisoners.” The disobedience of Marseilles, which refuses to receive the magistrates sent under letters patent to take testimony, is tolerated. And better still, in spite of the remonstrances of the parliament of Aix, a general amnesty is proclaimed; “no one is excepted but a few of the leaders, to whom is allowed the liberty of leaving the kingdom.” The mildness of the King and of the military authorities is admirable. It is admitted that the people are children, that they err only through ignorance, that faith must be had in their repentance, and, as soon as they return to order, they must be received with paternal effusions.—The truth is, that the child is a blind Colossus, exasperated by sufferings. Hence whatever it takes hold of is shattered—not only the local wheels of the provinces, which, if temporarily deranged, may be repaired, but even the mainspring at the centre which puts the rest in motion, and the destruction of which will throw the whole machinery into confusion.
Paris up to the 14th of July—I.Mob recruits in the environs—Entry of vagabonds—The number of paupers—II.Excitement of the press and of opinion—The people take part—III.The Réveillon affair—IV.The Palais-Royal—Popular gatherings become a political power—Pressure on the Assembly—V.Defection of the soldiery—VI.July 13th and 14th—VII.Murders of Foulon and Berthier—VIII.Paris in the hands of the people.
Indeed it is in the centre that the convulsive shocks are strongest. Nothing is lacking to aggravate the insurrection—neither the most lively provocations to stimulate it, nor the most numerous bands to carry it out. The environs of Paris all furnish recruits for it; nowhere are there so many miserable wretches, so many of the famished, and so many rebellious beings. Robberies of grain take place everywhere—at Orleans, at Cosne, at Rambouillet, at Jouy, at Pont-Saint-Maxence, at Bray-sur-Seine, at Sens, at Nangis.1 Wheaten flour is so scarce at Meudon, that every purchaser is ordered to buy at the same time an equal quantity of barley. At Viroflay, thirty women, with a rear guard of men, stop on the main road vehicles which they suppose to be loaded with grain. At Montlhéry seven brigades of the police are dispersed by stones and clubs: an immense throng of eight thousand persons, women and men, provided with bags, fall upon the grain exposed for sale, force the delivery to them of wheat worth 40 francs at 24 francs, pillaging the half of it and conveying it off without payment. “The constabulary is disheartened,” writes the subdelegate; “the determination of the people is wonderful; I am frightened at what I have seen and heard.”—After the 13th of July, 1788, the day of the hailstorm, “despair” seized the peasantry; well disposed as the proprietors may have been, it was impossible to assist them; “not a workshop is open;2 the noblemen and the bourgeois, obliged to grant delays in the payment of their incomes, can give no work.” Accordingly, “the famished people are on the point of risking life for life,” and, publicly and boldly, they seek food wherever it can be found. At Conflans-Saint-Honorine, Eragny, Neuville, Chenevières, at Cergy, Pontoise, Ile-Adam, Presle, and Beaumont, men, women, and children, the whole parish, range the country, set snares, and destroy the burrows. “The rumour is current that the Government, informed of the damage done by the game to cultivators, allows its destruction . . . and really the hares ravaged about a fifth of the crop.” At first an arrest is made of nine of these poachers; but they are released, “taking circumstances into account,” and therefore, for two months, there is a slaughter on the property of the Prince de Conti and of the Ambassador Mercy d’Argenteau; in default of bread they eat rabbits.—Along with the abuse of property they are led, by a natural impulse, to attack property itself. Near Saint-Denis the woods belonging to the abbey are devastated; “the farmers of the neighbourhood carry away loads of wood, drawn by four and five horses”; the inhabitants of the villages of Ville-Parisis, Tremblay, Vert-Galant, Villepinte, sell it publicly, and threaten the wood-rangers with a beating: on the 15th of June the damage is already estimated at 60,000 livres.—It makes little difference whether the proprietor has been benevolent, like M. de Talaru,3 who had supported the poor on his estate at Issy the preceding winter. The peasants destroy the dyke which conducts water to his communal mill; condemned by the parliament to restore it, they declare that not only will they not obey, but that if M. de Talaru rebuilds it they will return, to the number of three hundred armed men, and tear it away the second time.
For those who are most compromised Paris is the nearest refuge; for the poorest and most exasperated, the door of nomadic life stands wide open. Bands rise up around the capital, just as in countries where human society has not yet been formed, or has ceased to exist. During the first two weeks in May,4 near Villejuif, a band of five or six hundred vagabonds strive to force Bicêtre and approach Saint-Cloud. They arrive from thirty, forty, and sixty leagues off, from Champagne, from Lorraine, from the whole circuit of country devastated by the hailstorm. All hover around Paris and are there engulfed as in a sewer, the unfortunate along with criminals, some to find work, others to beg and to rove about under the injurious promptings of hunger and the rumours of the public thoroughfares. During the last days of April,5 the clerks at the toll-houses note the entrance of “a frightful number of poorly clad men of sinister aspect.” During the first days of May a change in the appearance of the crowd is remarked; there mingle in it “a number of foreigners, from all countries, most of them in rags, armed with big sticks, and whose very aspect announces what is to be feared from them.” Already, before this final influx, the public sink is full to overflowing. Think of the extraordinary and rapid increase of population in Paris, the multitude of artisans brought there by recent demolitions and constructions, all the craftsmen whom the stagnation of manufactures, the augmentation of octrois, the rigour of winter, and the dearness of bread have reduced to extreme distress. Remember that in 1786 “two hundred thousand persons are enumerated whose property, all told, has not the intrinsic worth of fifty crowns”; that, from time immemorial, they are at war with the city watchmen; that in 1789 there are twenty thousand poachers in the capital; that, to provide them with work, it is found necessary to establish national workshops; “that twelve thousand are kept uselessly occupied digging on the hill of Montmartre, and paid twenty sous per day; that the wharfs and quays are covered with them, that the Hôtel-de-Ville is invested by them, and that, around the palace, they seem to be a reproach to the inactivity of disarmed justice”; that daily they grow bitter and excited around the doors of the bakeries, where, kept waiting a long time, they are not sure of obtaining bread: you may anticipate the fury and the force with which they will storm any obstacle to which their attention may be directed.
This obstacle has been pointed out to them for a couple of years: the Ministry, the Court, the Government, the ancient régime. Whoever protests against it in favour of the people is sure to be followed as far, and farther, than he chooses to lead. The moment the Parliament of a large city refuses to register fiscal edicts it finds a riot at its service. On the 7th of June, 1788, at Grenoble, tiles rain down on the heads of the soldiery, and the military force is powerless. At Rennes an army is necessary to put down the rebellious city, and after this a permanent camp, four regiments of infantry and two of cavalry, under the command of a Marshal of France.6 The following year, when the Parliaments turn over to the side of the privileged class, the disturbance again begins, but this time against the Parliaments. In February, 1789, at Besançon and at Aix, the magistrates are hooted at, chased in the streets, besieged in the town-hall, and obliged to conceal themselves or take to flight.—If such is the disposition in the provincial capitals, what must it be in the capital of the kingdom? To begin—in the month of August, 1788, after the dismissal of Brienne and Lamoignon, the mob, collected on the Place Dauphine, constitutes itself judge, burns both ministers in effigy, disperses the watch, and resists the troops: no sedition, as bloody as this, had been seen for a century. Two days later, the riot bursts out a second time; the people are seized with a resolve to go and burn the residences of the two ministers and that of Dubois, the lieutenant of police.
Clearly a new leaven has been infused among the ignorant and brutal masses, and the new ideas are producing their effect. They have been insensibly filtering for a long time from layer to layer, and after having gained over the aristocracy, the whole of the lettered portion of the Third-Estate, the lawyers, the schools, all the young, they have insinuated themselves drop by drop and by a thousand fissures into the class which supports itself by the labour of its own hands. Noblemen, at their toilettes, have scoffed at Christianity, and affirmed the rights of man before their valets, hairdressers, purveyors, and all those that are in attendance upon them. Men of letters, lawyers, and attorneys have repeated, in the bitterest tone, the same diatribes and the same theories in the coffee-houses and in the restaurants, on the promenades and in all public places. They have spoken out before the lower class as if it were not present, and, from all this eloquence poured out without precaution, some bubbles besprinkle the brain of the artisan, the publican, the messenger, the shopkeeper, and the soldier.
Hence it is that a year suffices to convert mute discontent into political passion. From the 5th of July, 1787, on the invitation of the King, who convokes the States-General and demands advice from everybody, both speech and the press alter in tone.7 Instead of general conversation of a speculative turn there is preaching, with a view to practical effect, sudden, radical, and close at hand, preaching as shrill and thrilling as the blast of a trumpet. Revolutionary pamphlets appear in quick succession: “Qu’est-ce que le Tiers?” by Sieyès; “Mémoire pour le Peuple Français,” by Cerutti; “Considérations sur les Intérêts des Tiers-Etat,” by Rabtau Saint-Etienne; “Ma Pétition,” by Target; “Les Droits des Etats généraux,” by M. d’Entraigues, and, a little later, “La France libre,” by Camille Desmoulins, and others by hundreds and thousands,8 all of which are repeated and amplified in the electoral assemblies, where new-made citizens come to declaim and increase their own excitement.9 The unanimous, universal, and daily shout rolls along from echo to echo, into barracks and into faubourgs, into markets, workshops, and garrets. In the month of February, 1789, Necker avows “that obedience is not to be found anywhere, and that even the troops are not to be relied on.” In the month of May, the fisherwomen, and next the fruiterers of the Halle come to recommend the interests of the people to the bodies of electors, and to sing rhymes in honour of the Third-Estate. In the month of June pamphlets are in all hands; “even lackeys are poring over them at the gates of hotels.” In the month of July, as the King is signing an order, a patriotic valet becomes alarmed and reads it over his shoulder.—There is no illusion here; it is not merely the bourgeoisie which ranges itself against the legal authorities and against the established régime, but the whole people, the craftsmen, the shopkeepers and the domestics, workmen of every kind and degree, the populace underneath the people, the vagabonds, street rovers, and mendicants, the whole multitude, which, bound down by anxiety for its daily bread, had never lifted its eyes to look at the great social order of which it is the lowest stratum, and the whole weight of which it bears.
Suddenly it stirs, and the superposed scaffolding totters. It is the movement of a brute nature exasperated by want and maddened by suspicion. Have paid hands, which are invisible, goaded it on from beneath? Contemporaries are convinced of this, and it is probably the case.10 But the uproar made around the suffering brute would alone suffice to make it shy, and explain its sudden start.—On the 21st of April the Electoral Assemblies have begun in Paris; they are held in each quarter for the clergy, the nobles, and the Third-Estate. Every day, for almost a month, files of electors are seen passing along the streets. Those of the first degree continue to meet after having nominated those of the second: the nation must needs watch its mandatories and maintain its imprescriptible rights. If this exercise of their rights has been delegated to them, they still belong to the nation, and it reserves to itself the privilege of interposing when it pleases. A pretension of this kind travels fast; immediately after the Third-Estate of the Assemblies it reaches the Third-Estate of the streets. Nothing is more natural than the desire to lead one’s leaders: the first time any dissatisfaction occurs, they lay hands on those who halt and make them march on as directed. On a Saturday, April 25th,11 a rumour is current that Réveillon, an elector and manufacturer of wall-paper, Rue Saint-Antoine, and Lérat, a commissioner, have “spoken badly” at the Electoral Assembly of Sainte-Marguerite. To speak badly means to speak badly of the people. What has Réveillon said? Nobody knows, but popular imagination, with its terrible powers of invention and precision, readily fabricates or welcomes a murderous phrase. He said that “a working-man with a wife and children could live on fifteen sous a day.” Such a man is a traitor, and must be disposed of at once; “all his belongings must be put to fire and sword.” The rumour, it must be noted, is false.12 Réveillon pays his poorest workman twenty-five sous a day, is the means of supporting three hundred and fifty, and, in spite of a dull season the previous winter, he kept all on at the same rate of wages. He himself was once a workman, and obtained a medal for his inventions, and is benevolent and respected by all respectable persons. All this avails nothing; bands of vagabonds and foreigners, who have just passed through the barriers, do not look so closely into matters, while the journeymen, the carters, the cobblers, the masons, the braziers, and the stone-cutters whom they entice in their lodgings are just as ignorant as they are. When irritation has accumulated, it breaks out at haphazard.
Just at this time the clergy of Paris renounce their privileges in the way of imposts,13 and the people, taking friends for adversaries, add in their invectives the name of the clergy to that of Réveillon.
During the whole of the day, and also during the leisure moments of Sunday, the fermentation increases; on Monday the 27th, another day of idleness and drunkenness, the bands begin to move. Certain witnesses encounter one of these in the Rue Saint-Sévérin, “armed with clubs,” and so numerous as to bar the passage. “Shops and doors are closed on all sides, and the people cry out, ‘There’s the revolt!’ ” The seditious crowd belch out curses and invectives against the clergy, “and, catching sight of an abbé, shout ‘Priest!’ ” Another band parades an effigy of Réveillon decorated with the ribbon of the order of St. Michael, which undergoes the parody of a sentence and is burnt on the Place de Grève, after which they threaten his house. Driven back by the guard, they invade that of a manufacturer of saltpetre, who is his friend, and burn and smash his effects and furniture.14 It is only towards midnight that the crowd is dispersed and the insurrection is supposed to have ended. On the following day it begins again with greater violence; for, besides the ordinary stimulants of misery15 and the craving for license, they have a new stimulant in the idea of a cause to defend, the conviction that they are fighting “for the Third-Estate.” In a cause like this each one should help himself, and all should help each other. “We should be lost,” one of them exclaimed, “if we did not sustain each other.” Strong in this belief, they sent deputations three times into the Faubourg Saint-Marceau to obtain recruits, and on their way, with uplifted clubs they enrol, willingly or unwillingly, all they encounter. Others, at the Porte Saint-Antoine, arrest people who are returning from the races, demanding of them if they are for the nobles or for the Third-Estate, and force women to descend from their vehicles and to cry “Vive le Tiers-Etat!”16 Meanwhile the crowd has increased before Réveillon’s dwelling; the thirty men on guard are unable to resist; the house is invaded and sacked from top to bottom; the furniture, provisions, clothing, registers, waggons, even the poultry in the back-yard, all is cast into blazing bonfires lighted in three different places; five hundred louis d’or, the ready money, and the silver plate are stolen. Several roam through the cellars, drink liquor or varnish at haphazard until they fall down dead drunk or expire in convulsions. Against this howling horde, a corps of the watch, mounted and on foot, is seen approaching;17 also a hundred cavalry of the “Royal Croats,” the French Guards, and later on the Swiss Guards. “Tiles and chimneys are rained down on the soldiers,” who fire back four files at a time. The rioters, drunk with brandy and rage, defend themselves desperately for several hours; more than two hundred are killed, and nearly three hundred are wounded; they are only put down by cannon, while the mob keeps active until far into the night. Towards eight in the evening, in the Rue Vieille du Temple, the Paris Guard continue to make charges in order to protect the doors which the miscreants try to force. Two doors are forced at half-past eleven o’clock in the Rue Saintonge and in the Rue de Bretagne, that of a pork-dealer and that of a baker.—Even to this last wave of the outbreak which is subsiding we can distinguish the elements which have produced the insurrection, and which are about to produce the Revolution. Starvation is one of these: in the Rue de Bretagne the troop which rifles the baker’s shop carries bread off to the women staying at the corner of the Rue Saintonge. Brigandage is another: in the middle of the night M. du Châtelet’s spies, gliding alongside of a ditch, “see a group of ruffians” assembled beyond the Barrière du Trône, their leader, mounted on a little knoll, urging them to begin again; and the following days, on the highways, vagabonds are saying to each other, “We can do no more at Paris, because they are too sharp on the look-out; let us go to Lyons!” There are, finally, the patriots: on the evening of the insurrection, between the Pont-au-Change and the Pont-Marie, the half-naked ragamuffins, besmeared with dirt, bearing along their hand-barrows, are fully alive to their cause; they beg alms in a loud tone of voice, and stretch out their hats to the passers, saying, “Take pity on this poor Third-Estate!”—The starving, the ruffians, and the patriots, all form one body, and henceforth misery, crime, and public spirit unite to provide an ever-ready insurrection for the agitators who desire to raise one.
But the agitators are already in permanent session. The Palais-Royal is an open-air club where, all day and even far into the night, one excites the other and urges on the crowd to blows. In this enclosure, protected by the privileges of the House of Orleans, the police dare not enter. Speech is free, and the public who avail themselves of this freedom seem purposely chosen to abuse it.—The public and the place are adapted to each other.18 The Palais-Royal, the centre of prostitution, of play, of idleness, and of pamphlets, attracts the whole of that unrooted population which floats about in a great city, and which, without occupation or home, lives only for curiosity or for pleasure—the frequenters of the coffee-houses, the runners for gambling hells, adventurers, and social outcasts, the overplus or forlorn hope of literature, arts, and the bar, attorneys’ clerks, students of the schools, cockneys, loungers, strangers, and the occupants of furnished lodgings, amounting, it is said, to forty thousand in Paris. They fill the garden and the galleries; “one would hardly find here one of what were called the “Six Bodies,”19 a bourgeois settled down and occupied with his own affairs, a man whom business and family cares render serious and influential. There is no place here for industrious and orderly bees; it is the rendezvous of political and literary drones. They flock into it from every quarter of Paris, and the tumultuous, buzzing swarm covers the ground like an overturned hive. “Ten thousand people,” writes Arthur Young,20 “have been all this day in the Palais-Royal”; the press is so great that an apple thrown from a balcony on the moving floor of heads would not reach the ground. The condition of these heads may be imagined; they are emptier of ballast than any in France, the most inflated with speculative ideas, the most excitable and the most excited. In this pell-mell of improvised politicians no one knows who is speaking; nobody is responsible for what he says. Each is there as in the theatre, unknown among the unknown, requiring sensational impressions and transports, a prey to the contagion of the passions around him, borne along in the whirl of sounding phrases, of ready-made news, growing rumours, and other exaggerations by which fanatics keep outdoing each other. There are shoutings, tears, applause, stamping, and clapping, as at the performance of a tragedy; one or another individual becomes so inflamed and hoarse that he dies on the spot with fever and exhaustion. In vain has Arthur Young been accustomed to the tumult of political liberty; he is dumb-founded at what he sees.21 According to him, the excitement is “incredible. . . . We think sometimes that Debrett’s or Stockdale’s shops at London are crowded; but they are mere deserts compared to Desenne’s and some others here, in which one can scarcely squeeze from the door to the counter. . . . Every hour produces its pamphlet; thirteen came out today, sixteen yesterday, and ninety-two last week. Nineteen-twentieths of these productions are in favour of liberty”; and by liberty is meant the extinction of privileges, numerical sovereignty, the application of the Contrat-Social, “the Republic,” and more besides, a universal levelling, permanent anarchy, and even the jacquerie. Camille Desmoulins, one of the orators commonly there, announces it and urges it in precise terms: “Now that the animal is entrapped, let him be knocked on the head. . . . Never will the victors have a richer prey. Forty thousand palaces, mansions, and chateaux, two-fifths of the property of France, will be the recompense of valour. Those who pretend to be the conquerors will be conquered in turn. The nation shall be purged.” Here, in advance, is the programme of the Reign of Terror.
Now all this is not only read, but declaimed, amplified, and turned to practical account. In front of the coffee-houses “those who have stentorian lungs relieve each other every evening.”22 “The coffee-houses . . . present astonishing spectacles . . . expectant crowds are at the doors and windows, listening à gorge déployée to certain orators, who from chairs or tables harangue each his little audience; the eagerness with which they are heard, and the thunder of applause they receive for every sentiment of more than common hardiness or violence against the present Government, cannot easily be imagined.” “Three days ago a child of four years, well taught and intelligent, was promenaded around the garden, in broad daylight, at least twenty times, borne on the shoulders of a street porter, crying out, ‘Verdict of the French people: Polignac exiled one hundred leagues from Paris; Condé the same; Conti the same; Artois the same; the Queen—I dare not write it.’ ” A hall made of boards in the middle of the Palais-Royal is always full, especially of young men, who carry on their deliberations in parliamentary fashion: in the evening the president invites the spectators to come forward and sign motions passed during the day, and of which the originals are placed in the Café Foy.23 They count on their fingers the enemies of the country; “and first two Royal Highnesses (Monsieur and the Count d’Artois), three Most Serene Highnesses (the Prince de Condé, Duc de Bourbon, and the Prince de Conti), one favourite (Madame de Polignac), MM. de Vandreuil, de la Trémoille, du Châtelet, de Villedeuil, de Barentin, de la Galaisière, Vidaud de la Tour, Berthier, Foulon, and also M. Linguet.” Placards are posted demanding the pillory on the Pont-Neuf for the Abbé Maury. One orator proposes “to burn the house of M. d’Espréménil, his wife, children, furniture, and himself: this is passed unanimously.”—No opposition is tolerated. One of those present having manifested some horror at such sanguinary motions, “is seized by the collar, obliged to kneel down, to make an apology, and to kiss the ground; the punishment inflicted on children is given to him; he is ducked repeatedly in one of the fountain-basins, after which they hand him over to the populace, who roll him in the mud.” On the following day an ecclesiastic is trodden under foot, and flung from hand to hand. A few days after, on the 22nd of June, there are two similar inflictions. The sovereign mob exercises all the functions of sovereign authority—with those of the legislator those of the judge, and those of the judge with those of the executioner. Its idols are sacred; if any one fails to show them respect he is guilty of lèse-majesté, and at once punished. In the first week of July, an abbé who speaks ill of Necker is flogged; a woman who insults the bust of Necker is stripped by the fishwomen, and beaten until she is covered with blood. War is declared against suspicious uniforms. “On the appearance of a hussar,” writes Desmoulins, “they shout, ‘There goes Punch!’ and the stone-cutters fling stones at him. Last night two officers of the hussars, MM. de Sombreuil and de Polignac, came to the Palais-Royal . . . chairs were flung at them, and they would have been knocked down if they had not run away. The day before yesterday they seized a spy of the police and gave him a ducking in the fountain. They ran him down like a stag, hustled him, pelted him with stones, struck him with canes, forced one of his eyes out of its socket, and finally, in spite of his entreaties and cries for mercy, plunged him a second time in the fountain. His torments lasted from noon until half-past five o’clock, and he had about ten thousand executioners.”—Consider the effect of such a focal centre at a time like this. A new power has sprung up side by side with legal powers, a legislature of the highways and public squares—anonymous, irresponsible, without restraint, driven onward by coffee-house theories, by transports of the brain and the vehemence of mountebanks, while the bare arms which have just accomplished the work of destruction in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, form its body-guard and ministerial cabinet.
This is the dictatorship of a mob, and its proceedings, conforming to its nature, consist in acts of violence; wherever it finds resistance, it strikes.—The people of Versailles, in the streets and at the doors of the Assembly, daily “come and insult those whom they call aristocrats.”24 On Monday, June 22nd, “d’Espréménil barely escapes being knocked down; the Abbé Maury . . . owes his escape to the strength of a curé, who takes him up in his arms and tosses him into the carriage of the Archbishop of Arles.” On the 23rd, “the Archbishop of Paris and the Keeper of the Seals are hooted, railed at, scoffed at, and derided, until they almost sink with shame and rage,” and so formidable is the tempest of vociferation with which they are greeted, that Passeret, the King’s secretary, who accompanies the minister, dies of the excitement that very day. On the 24th, the Bishop of Beauvais is almost knocked down by a stone which strikes him on the head. On the 25th, the Archbishop of Paris is saved only by the speed of his horses, the multitude pursuing him and pelting him with stones; his hotel is besieged, the windows are all shattered, and, notwithstanding the intervention of the French Guards, the peril is so great that he is obliged to promise that he will join the deputies of the Third-Estate. This is the way in which the rude hand of the people effects a reunion of the Orders. It bears as heavily on its own representatives as on its adversaries. “Although our hall was closed to the public,” says Bailly, “there were always more than six hundred spectators”;25 not respectful and silent, but active and noisy, mingling with the deputies, raising their hands to vote in all cases, taking part in the deliberations by their applause and hisses: a collateral Assembly which often imposes its own will on the other. They take note of and put down the names of their opponents, which names, transmitted to chair-bearers in attendance at the entrance of the hall, and from them to the populace waiting for the departure of the deputies, are from that time regarded as the names of public enemies.26 Lists are made out and printed, and, at the Palais-Royal in the evening, they become the lists of the proscribed.—It is under this brutal pressure that many decrees are passed, and, among them, that by which the commons declare themselves the National Assembly and assume supreme power. The night before, Malouet had proposed to ascertain, by a preliminary vote, on which side the majority was: the noes instantly gathered around him to the number of three hundred, “upon which a man springs out from the galleries, falls upon him and takes him by the collar exclaiming, ‘Hold your tongue, you false citizen!’ ” Malouet is released and the guard comes forward, “but terror has spread through the hall, threats are uttered against opponents, and the next day we were only ninety.” Moreover, the lists of their names had been circulated; some of them, deputies from Paris, went to see Bailly that very evening: one amongst them, “a very honest man and good patriot,” had been told that his house was to be set on fire; now his wife had just given birth to a child, and the slightest tumult before the house would have been fatal. Such arguments are decisive. Consequently, three days afterwards, at the Tennis-court, but one deputy, Martin d’Auch, dares to write the word “opposant” after his name. Insulted by many of his colleagues, “at once denounced to the people who had collected at the entrance of the building, he is obliged to escape by a side door to avoid being cut to pieces,” and, for several days, to keep away from the meetings.27 Owing to this intervention of the galleries the radical minority, numbering about thirty,28 lead the majority, and they do not allow them to free themselves. On the 28th of May, Malouet, having demanded a secret session to discuss the conciliatory measures which the King had proposed, the galleries hoot at him, and a deputy, M. Bouche, addresses him in very plain terms. “You must know, sir, that we are deliberating here in the presence of our masters, and that we must account to them for our opinions.” This is the doctrine of the Contrat-Social, and, through timidity, fear of the Court and of the privileged class, through optimism and faith in human nature, through enthusiasm and the necessity of adhering to previous actions, the deputies, who are novices, provincial, and given up to theories, neither dare nor know how to escape from the tyranny of the prevailing dogma. Henceforth it becomes the law. All the Assemblies, the Constituent, the Legislative, the Convention, submit to it entirely. The public in the galleries are the admitted representatives of the people, under the same title, and even under a higher title, than the deputies. Now, this public is that of the Palais-Royal, consisting of strangers, idlers, lovers of novelties, Paris romancers, leaders of the coffee-houses, the future pillars of the clubs—in short, the wild enthusiasts among the middle class, just as the crowd which threatens doors and throws stones is recruited from among the wild enthusiasts of the lowest class. Thus by an involuntary selection, the faction which constitutes itself a public power is composed of nothing but violent minds and violent hands. Spontaneously and without previous concert dangerous fanatics are joined with dangerous brutes, and in the increasing discord between the legal authorities this is the illegal league which is certain to overthrow all.
When a commanding general sits in council with his staff-officers and his counsellors, and discusses the plan of a campaign, the chief public interest is that discipline should remain intact, and that intruders, soldiers, or menials, should not throw the weight of their turbulence and thoughtlessness into the scales which have to be cautiously and firmly held by their chiefs. This was the express demand of the Government;29 but the demand was not regarded; and against the persistent usurpation of the multitude nothing is left to it but the employment of force. But force itself is slipping from its hands, while growing disobedience, like a contagion, after having gained the people is spreading among the troops. From the 23rd of June,30 two companies of the French Guards refused to do duty. Confined to their barracks, they on the 27th break out, and henceforth “they are seen every evening entering the Palais-Royal, marching in double file.” They know the place well; it is the general rendezvous of the abandoned women whose lovers and parasites they are.31 “The patriots all gather around them, treat them to ice cream and wine, and debauch them in the face of their officers.” To this, moreover, must be added the fact that their colonel, M. du Châtelet, has long been odious to them, that he has fatigued them with forced drills, worried them and diminished the number of their sergeants; that he suppressed the school for the education of the children of their musicians; that he uses the stick in punishing the men, and picks quarrels with them about their appearance, their board, and their clothing. This regiment is lost to discipline: a secret society has been formed in it, and the soldiers have pledged themselves to their ensigns not to act against the National Assembly. Thus the confederation between them and the Palais-Royal is established.
On the 30th of June, eleven of their leaders, taken off to the Abbaye, write to claim their assistance: a young man mounts a chair in front of the Café Foy and reads their letter aloud; a band sets out on the instant, forces the gate with a sledge-hammer and iron bars, brings back the prisoners in triumph, gives them a feast in the garden and mounts guard around them to prevent their being retaken.—When disorders of this kind go unpunished, order cannot be maintained; in fact, on the morning of the 14th of July, five out of six battalions had gone over to the people. As to the other corps, they are no better and are also seduced. “Yesterday,” Desmoulins writes, “the artillery regiment followed the example of the French Guards, overpowering the sentinels and coming over to mingle with the patriots in the Palais-Royal. . . . We see nothing but the rabble attaching themselves to soldiers whom they chance to encounter. ‘Allons, Vive le Tiers-Etat!’ and they lead them off to a tavern to drink the health of the Commons.” Dragoons tell the officers who are marching them to Versailles: “We obey you, but you may tell the ministers on our arrival that if we are ordered to use the least violence against our fellow-citizens, the first shot shall be for you.” At the Invalides twenty men, ordered to remove the cocks and ramrods from the guns stored in a threatened arsenal, devote six hours to rendering twenty guns useless; their object is to keep them intact for plunder and for the arming of the people.
In short, the largest portion of the army has deserted. However kind a superior officer might be, the fact of his being a superior officer secures for him the treatment of an enemy. The governor, “M. de Sombreuil, against whom these people could utter no reproach,” will soon see his cannoneers point their guns at his apartment, and will just escape being hung on the iron-railings by their own hands. Thus the force which is brought forward to suppress insurrection only serves to furnish it with recruits. And even worse, for the display of arms which was relied on to restrain the mob, furnished the instigation to rebellion.
The fatal moment has arrived: it is no longer a government which falls that it may give way to another; it is all government which ceases to exist in order to make way for an intermittent despotism, for factions blindly impelled on by enthusiasm, credulity, misery, and fear.32 Like a tame elephant suddenly become wild again, the populace throws off its ordinary driver, and the new guides whom it tolerates perched on its neck are there simply for show; in future it will move along as it pleases, freed from control, and abandoned to its own feelings, instincts, and appetites. Apparently, there was no desire to do more than anticipate its aberrations. The King has forbidden all violence; the commanders order the troops not to fire;33 but the excited and wild animal takes all precautions for insults; in future, it intends to be its own conductor, and, to begin, it treads its guides under foot.
On the 12th of July, near noon,34 on the news of the dismissal of Necker, a cry of rage arises in the Palais-Royal; Camille Desmoulins, mounted on a table, announces that the Court meditates “a St. Bartholomew of patriots.” The crowd embrace him, adopt the green cockade which he has proposed, and oblige the dancing-saloons and theatres to close in sign of mourning: they hurry off to the residence of Curtius, and take the busts of the Duke of Orleans and of Necker and carry them about in triumph. Meanwhile, the dragoons of the Prince de Lambesc, drawn up on the Place Louis-Quinze, find a barricade of chairs at the entrance of the Tuileries, and are greeted with a shower of stones and bottles.35 Elsewhere, on the Boulevard, before the Hôtel Montmorency, some of the French Guards, escaped from their barracks, fired on a loyal detachment of the “Royal Allemand.” The tocsin is sounding on all sides, the shops where arms are sold are pillaged, and the Hôtel-de-Ville is invaded; fifteen or sixteen well-disposed electors, who meet there, order the districts to be assembled and armed.—The new sovereign, the people in arms and in the street, has declared himself.
The dregs of society at once come to the surface. During the night between the 12th and 13th of July,36 “all the barriers, from the Faubourg Saint-Antoine to the Faubourg Saint-Honoré, besides those of the Faubourgs Saint-Marcel and Saint-Jacques, are forced and set on fire.” There is no longer an octroi; the city is without a revenue just at the moment when it is obliged to make the heaviest expenditures; but this is of no consequence to the populace, which, above all things, wants to have cheap wine. “Ruffians, armed with pikes and sticks, proceed in several parties to give up to pillage the houses of those who are regarded as enemies to the public welfare.” “They go from door to door crying, ‘Arms and bread!’ During this fearful night, the bourgeoisie kept themselves shut up, each trembling at home for himself and those belonging to him.” On the following day, the 13th, the capital appears to be given up to bandits and the lowest of the low. One of the bands hews down the gate of the Lazarists, destroys the library and clothes-presses, the pictures, the windows and laboratory, and rushes to the cellars, where it staves in the casks and gets drunk: twenty-four hours after this, about thirty of them are found dead and dying, drowned in wine, men and women, one of these being at the point of childbirth. In front of the house37 the street is full of the wreck, and of ruffians who hold in their hands, “some, eatables, others a jug, forcing the passers-by to drink, and pouring out wine to all comers. Wine runs down into the gutter, and the scent of it fills the air”; it is a drinking bout: meanwhile they carry away the grain and flour which the monks kept on hand according to law, fifty-two loads of it being taken to the market. Another troop comes to La Force, to deliver those imprisoned for debt; a third breaks into the Garde Meuble, carrying away valuable arms and armour. Mobs assemble before the hotel of Madame de Breteuil and the Palais-Bourbon, which they intend to ransack, in order to punish their proprietors. M. de Crosne, one of the most liberal and most respected men of Paris, but, unfortunately for himself, a lieutenant of the police, is pursued, escaping with difficulty, and his hotel is sacked. During the night between the 13th and 14th of May, the baker’s shops and the wine shops are pillaged; “men of the vilest class, armed with guns, pikes, and turnspits, make people open their doors and give them something to eat and drink, as well as money and arms.” Vagrants, ragged men, several of them “almost naked,” and “most of them armed like savages, and of hideous appearance”—they are “such as one does not remember to have seen in broad daylight”; many of them are strangers, come from nobody knows where.38 It is stated that there were fifty thousand of them, and that they had taken possession of the principal guard-houses.
During these two days and nights, says Bailly, “Paris ran the risk of being pillaged, and was only saved from the marauders by the National Guard.” Already, in the open street,39 “these creatures tore off women’s shoes and earrings,” and the robbers were beginning to have full sway.—Fortunately the militia organized itself, and the principal inhabitants and gentlemen enrol themselves; 48,000 men are formed into battalions and companies; the bourgeoisie buy guns of the vagabonds for three livres apiece, and sabres or pistols for twelve sous. At last, some of the offenders are hung on the spot, and others disarmed, and the insurrection again becomes political. But, whatever its object, it remains always wild, because it is in the hands of the populace. Dussaulx, its panegyrist, confesses40 that “he thought he was witnessing the total dissolution of society.” There is no leader, no management. The electors who have converted themselves into the representatives of Paris seem to command the crowd, but it is the crowd which commands them. One of them, Legrand, to save the Hôtel-de-Ville, has no other resource but to send for six barrels of gunpowder, and to declare to the assailants that he is about to blow everything into the air. The commandant whom they themselves have chosen, M. de Salles, has twenty bayonets at his breast during a quarter of an hour, and, more than once, the whole committee is near being massacred. Let the reader imagine, on the premises where the discussions are going on, and petitions are being made, “a concourse of fifteen hundred men pressed by a hundred thousand others who are forcing an entrance,” the wainscoting cracking, the benches upset one over another, the enclosure of the bureau pushed back against the president’s chair, a tumult such as to bring to mind “the day of judgment,” the death-shrieks, songs, yells, and “people beside themselves, for the most part not knowing where they are nor what they want.”
Each district is also a petty centre, while the Palais-Royal is the main centre. Propositions, “accusations, and deputations” travel to and fro from one to the other, along with the human torrent which is obstructed or rushes ahead with no other guide than its own inclination and the chances of the way. One wave gathers here and another there, their stategy consisting in pushing and in being pushed. Yet, their entrance is effected only because they are let in. If they get into the Invalides it is owing to the connivance of the soldiers.—At the Bastille, firearms are discharged from ten in the morning to five in the evening against walls forty feet high and thirty feet thick, and it is by chance that one of their shots reaches an invalide on the towers. They are treated the same as children whom one wishes to hurt as little as possible. The governor, on the first summons to surrender, orders the cannon to be withdrawn from the embrasures; he makes the garrison swear not to fire if it is not attacked; he invites the first of the deputations to lunch; he allows the messenger dispatched from the Hôtel-de-Ville to inspect the fortress; he receives several discharges without returning them, and lets the first bridge be carried without firing a shot.41 When, at length, he does fire, it is at the last extremity, to defend the second bridge, and after having notified the assailants that he is going to do so. In short, his forbearance and patience are excessive, in conformity with the humanity of the times. The people, in turn, are infatuated with the novel sensations of attack and resistance, with the smell of gunpowder, with the excitement of the contest; all they can think of doing is to rush against the mass of stone, their expedients being on a level with their tactics. A brewer fancies that he can set fire to this block of masonry by pumping over it spikenard and poppy-seed oil mixed with phosphorus. A young carpenter, who has some archaeological notions, proposes to construct a catapult. Some of them think that they have seized the governor’s daughter, and want to burn her in order to make the father surrender. Others set fire to a projecting mass of buildings filled with straw, and thus close up the passage. “The Bastille was not taken by main force,” says the brave Elie, one of the combatants; “it surrendered before even it was attacked,”42 by capitulation, on the promise that no harm should be done to anybody. The garrison, being perfectly secure, had no longer the heart to fire on human beings while themselves risking nothing,43 and, on the other hand, they were unnerved by the sight of the immense crowd. Eight or nine hundred men only44 were concerned in the attack, most of them workmen or shopkeepers belonging to the faubourg, tailors, wheelwrights, mercers, and wine-dealers, mixed with the French Guards. The Place de la Bastille, however, and all the streets in the vicinity, were crowded with the curious who came to witness the sight; “among them,” says a witness,45 “were a number of fashionable women of very good appearance, who had left their carriages at some distance.” To the hundred and twenty men of the garrison looking down from their parapets it seemed as though all Paris had come out against them. It is they, also, who lower the drawbridge and introduce the enemy: everybody has lost his head, the besieged as well as the besiegers, the latter more completely because they are intoxicated with the sense of victory. Scarcely have they entered when they begin the work of destruction, and the latest arrivals shoot at random those that come earlier; “each one fires without heeding where or on whom his shot tells.” Sudden omnipotence and the liberty to kill are a wine too strong for human nature; giddiness is the result; men see red, and their frenzy ends in ferocity.
For the peculiarity of a popular insurrection is that nobody obeys anybody; the bad passions are free as well as the generous ones; heroes are unable to restrain assassins. Elie, who is the first to enter the fortress, Cholat, Hulin, the brave fellows who are in advance, the French Guards who are cognizant of the laws of war, try to keep their word of honour; but the crowd pressing on behind them know not whom to strike, and they strike at random. They spare the Swiss soldiers who have fired at them, and who, in their blue smocks, seem to them to be prisoners; on the other hand, by way of compensation, they fall furiously on the invalides who opened the gates to them; the man who prevented the governor from blowing up the fortress has his wrist severed by the blow of a sabre, is twice pierced with a sword and is hung, and the hand which had saved one of the districts of Paris is promenaded through the streets in triumph. The officers are dragged along and five of them are killed, with three soldiers, on the spot, or on the way. During the long hours of firing, the murderous instinct has become aroused, and the wish to kill, changed into a fixed idea, spreads afar among the crowd which has hitherto remained inactive. It is convinced by its own clamour; a hue and cry is all that it now needs; the moment one strikes, all want to strike. “Those who had no arms,” says an officer, “threw stones at me;46 the women ground their teeth and shook their fists at me. Two of my men had already been assassinated behind me. I finally got to within some hundreds of paces of the Hôtel-de-Ville, amidst a general cry that I should be hung, when a head, stuck on a pike, was presented to me to look at, while at the same moment I was told that it was that of M. de Launay,” the governor. The latter, on going out, had received the cut of a sword on his right shoulder; on reaching the Rue Saint-Antoine “everybody pulled his hair out and struck him.” Under the arcade of Saint-Jean he was already “severely wounded.” Around him, some said, “his head ought to be struck off”; others, “let him be hung”; and others, “he ought to be tied to a horse’s tail.” Then, in despair, and wishing to put an end to his torments, he cried out, “Kill me,” and, in struggling, kicked one of the men who held him in the lower abdomen. On the instant he is pierced with bayonets, dragged in the gutter, and, striking his corpse, they exclaim, “He’s a scurvy wretch (galeux) and a monster who has betrayed us; the nation demands his head to exhibit to the public,” and the man who was kicked is asked to cut it off. This man, a cook out of place, a simpleton who “went to the Bastille to see what was going on,” thinks that as it is the general opinion, the act is patriotic, and even believes that he “deserves a medal for destroying a monster.” Taking a sabre which is lent to him, he strikes the bare neck, but the dull sabre not doing its work, he takes a small black-handled knife from his pocket, and, “as in his capacity of cook he knows how to cut meat,” he finishes the operation successfully. Then, placing the head on the end of a three-pronged pitchfork, and accompanied by over two hundred armed men, “not counting the populace,” he marches along, and, in the Rue Saint-Honoré, he has two inscriptions attached to the head, to indicate without mistake whose head it is. They grow merry over it: after filing alongside of the Palais-Royal, the procession arrives at the Pont-Neuf, where, before the statue of Henry IV., they bow the head three times, saying, “Salute thy master!”—This ends the mockery: some of it is found in every triumph, and beneath the butcher the buffoon becomes apparent.
Meanwhile, at the Palais-Royal, other buffoons, who with the levity of gossips sport with lives as freely as with words, have drawn up, during the night between the 13th and 14th of July, a list of proscriptions, copies of which are hawked about: care is taken to address one of them to each of the persons designated, the Comte d’Artois, Marshal de Broglie, the Prince de Lambesc, Baron de Bezenval, MM. de Breteuil, Foulon, Berthier, Maury, d’Espréménil, Lefèvre d’Amécourt, and others besides;47 a reward is promised to whoever will bring their heads to the Café de Caveau. Here are names for the unchained multitude; all that now is necessary is that some band should encounter a man who is denounced; he will go as far as the lamp at the street corner, but not beyond it. Throughout the day of the 14th, this improvised tribunal holds a permanent session, and follows up its decisions with its actions. M. de Flesselles, provost of the merchants and president of the electors at the Hôtel-de-Ville, having shown himself somewhat lukewarm,48 the Palais-Royal declares him a traitor and sends him off to be hung; on the way a young man fells him with a pistol-shot, others fall upon his body, while his head, borne upon a pike, goes to join that of M. de Launay. Equally deadly accusations and of equally speedy execution float in the air and from every direction. “On the slightest pretext,” says an elector, “they denounced to us those whom they thought opposed to the Revolution—which already signified the same as enemies of the State. With no other examination, nothing less was spoken of then but the seizure of their persons, the ruin of their houses, and the levelling of their hotels. One young man exclaimed: ‘Follow me this moment, let us start off at once to Bezenval’s!’ ” Their brains are so scared, and their minds so distrustful, that at every step in the streets “one’s name has to be given, one’s profession declared, one’s residence, and one’s intentions. . . . One can neither enter nor leave Paris without being suspected of treason.” The Prince de Montbarrey, advocate of the new ideas, and his wife, are stopped in their carriage at the barrier, and are on the point of being cut to pieces. A deputy of the nobles, on his way to the National Assembly, is seized in his cab and conducted to the Place de Grève; the corpse of M. de Launay is shown to him, and he is told that he is to be treated in the same fashion. Every life hangs by a thread, and, on the following days, when the King had sent away his troops, dismissed his Ministers, recalled Necker, and granted everything, the danger remains just as great. The multitude, abandoned to the revolutionists and to itself, continues to perform the same bloody antics, while the municipal chiefs49 whom it has elected, Bailly, Mayor of Paris, and Lafayette, commandant of the national guard, are obliged to use cunning, to implore, to throw themselves between the multitude and the unfortunates whom they wish to destroy.
On the 15th of July, in the night, a woman disguised as a man is arrested in the court of the Hôtel-de-Ville, and so maltreated that she faints away; Bailly, in order to save her, is obliged to feign anger against her and have her sent immediately to prison. From the 14th to the 22nd of July, Lafayette, at the risk of his life, saves with his own hand seventeen persons in different quarters.50 On the 22nd of July, upon the denunciations which multiply around Paris like trains of gunpowder, two administrators of high rank, M. Foulon, Councillor of State, and M. Berthier, his son-in-law, are arrested, one near Fontainebleau, and the other near Compiègne. M. Foulon, a strict master,51 but intelligent and useful, expended sixty thousand francs the previous winter on his estate in giving employment to the poor. M. Berthier, an industrious and capable man, had officially surveyed and valued Ile-de-France, to equalise the taxes, and had reduced the overcharged quotas first one-eighth and then a quarter. But both of these gentlemen have arranged the details of the camp against which Paris has risen; both are publicly proscribed for eight days previously by the Palais-Royal, and, with a people frightened by disorder, exasperated by hunger, and stupefied by suspicion, an accused person is a guilty one. With regard to Foulon, as with Réveillon, a story is made up, coined in the same mint, a sort of currency for popular circulation, and which the people itself manufactures by casting into one tragic expression the sum of its sufferings and rankling memories:52 “He said that we were worth no more than his horses, and that if we had no bread we had only to eat grass.”—The old man of seventy-four is brought to Paris, with a truss of hay on his head, a collar of thistles around his neck, and his mouth stuffed with hay. In vain does the electoral bureau order his imprisonment that he may be saved; the crowd yells out: “Sentenced and hung!” and, authoritatively, appoints the judges. In vain does Lafayette insist and entreat three several times that the judgment be regularly rendered, and that the accused be sent to the Abbaye; a new wave of people comes up, and one man, “well dressed,” cries out: “What is the need of a sentence for a man who has been condemned for thirty years?” Foulon is carried off, dragged across the square, and hung to the lantern; the cord breaks twice, and twice he falls upon the pavement; rehung with a fresh cord and then cut down, his head is severed from his body and placed on the end of a pike.53 Meanwhile, Berthier, sent away from Compiègne by the municipality, afraid to keep him in his prison where he was constantly menaced, arrives in a cabriolet under escort. The people carry placards around him filled with opprobrious epithets; in changing horses they threw hard black bread into the carriage, exclaiming, “There, wretch, see the bread you made us eat!” On reaching the church of Saint-Merry, a fearful storm of insults burst forth against him: he is called a monopolist, “although he had never bought or sold a grain of wheat”; in the eyes of the multitude, who must needs account for the evil by some evil-doer, he is the author of the famine. Conducted to the Abbaye, his escort is dispersed and he is pushed on to the lantern. Then, seeing that all is lost, he snatches a gun from one of his murderers and bravely defends himself. A soldier of the “Royal Croats” gives him a cut with his sabre across the stomach, and another tears out his heart. As the cook, who had cut off the head of M. de Launay, happens to be on the spot, they hand him the heart to carry while the soldiers take the head, and both go to the Hôtel-de-Ville to show their trophies to M. de Lafayette. On their return to the Palais-Royal, and while they are seated at table in a tavern, the people demand these two remains; they throw them out of the window and finish their supper, whilst the heart is marched about below in a bouquet of white carnations.—Such are the spectacles which this garden presents where, a year before, “good society in full dress” came on leaving the Opera to chat, often until two o’clock in the morning, under the mild light of the moon, listening now to the violin of Saint-Georges, and now to the charming voice of Garat.
Henceforth it is clear that no one is safe: neither the new militia nor the new authorities suffice to enforce respect for the law. “They did not dare,” says Bailly,54 “oppose the people who, eight days before this, had taken the Bastille.” In vain, after the last two murders, do Bailly and Lafayette indignantly threaten to withdraw—they are forced to remain; their protection, such as it is, is all that is left, and, if the National Guard is unable to prevent every murder, it prevents some of them. People live as they can under the constant expectation of fresh popular violence. “To every impartial man,” says Malouet, “the Terror dates from the 14th of July.” On the 17th, before setting out for Paris, the King attends communion and makes his will in anticipation of assassination. From the 16th to the 18th, twenty personages of high rank, among others most of those on whose heads a price is set by the Palais-Royal, leave France—the Count d’Artois, Marshal de Broglie, the Princes de Condé, de Conti, de Lambesc, de Vaudemont, the Countess de Polignac, and the Duchesses de Polignac and de Guiche. The day following the two murders, M. de Crosne, M. Doumer, M. Sureau, the most zealous and most valuable members of the committee on subsistences, all those appointed to make purchases and to take care of the storehouses, conceal themselves or fly. On the eve of the two murders, the notaries of Paris, being menaced with a riot, had to advance 45,000 francs which were promised to the workmen of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine; while the public treasury, almost empty, is drained of 30,000 livres per day to diminish the cost of bread. Persons and possessions, great and small, private individuals and public functionaries, the Government itself, all is in the hands of the mob. “From this moment,” says a deputy,55 “liberty did not exist even in the National Assembly . . . France stood dumb before thirty factious persons. The Assembly became in their hands a passive instrument, which they forced to serve them in the execution of their projects.” They themselves do not lead, although they seem to lead. The great brute, which has taken the bit in its mouth, holds on to it, and its plunging becomes more violent; for not only do both spurs which maddened it—I mean the desire for innovation and the daily scarcity of food—continue to prick it on, but also the political hornets which, increasing by thousands, buzz around its ears, while the license in which it revels for the first time, joined to the applause lavished upon it, urges it forward more violently each day. The insurrection is glorified. Not one of the assassins is sought out. It is against the conspiracy of Ministers that the Assembly institutes an enquiry. Rewards are bestowed upon the conquerors of the Bastille; it is declared that they have saved France. All honours are awarded to the people—to their good sense, their magnanimity, their justice. Adoration is paid to the new sovereign: he is publicly and officially told, in the Assembly and by the press, that he possesses every virtue, all rights and all powers. If he spills blood it is inadvertently, on provocation, and always with an infallible instinct. Moreover, says a deputy, “this blood, was it so pure?” The greater number of people prefer the theories of their books to the experience of their eyes; they persist in the idyl which they have fashioned for themselves. At the worst their dream, driven out from the present, takes refuge in the future. Tomorrow, when the Constitution is complete, the people, made happy, will again become wise: let us endure the storm which leads us on to so noble a harbour.
Meanwhile, beyond the King, inert and disarmed, beyond the Assembly, disobeyed or submissive, appears the real monarch, the people—that is to say, the mob of a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand beings gathered together haphazard, on an impulse, on an alarm, suddenly and irresistibly made legislators, judges, and executioners: a formidable power, undefined and destructive, on which no one has any hold, and which, with its mother, howling and misshapen Liberty, sits at the threshold of the Revolution like Milton’s two spectres at the gates of Hell.
I.Anarchy from July 14th to October 6th, 1789—Destruction of the Government—To whom does real power belong?—II.The Provinces—Destruction of old Authorities—Incompetency of new Authorities—III.Disposition of the People—Famine—IV.Panic—General arming—V.Attacks on public individuals and public property—At Strasbourg—At Cherbourg—At Maubeuge—At Rouen—At Besançon—At Troyes—VI.Taxes are no longer paid—Devastation of the Forests—The new game laws—VII.Attacks upon private individuals and private property—Aristocrats denounced to the people as their enemies—Effect of news from Paris—Influence of the village attorneys—Isolated acts of violence—A general rising of the peasantry in the east—War against the chateaux, feudal estates, and property—Preparations for other jacqueries.
However bad a particular government may be, there is something still worse, and that is the suppression of all government. For, it is owing to government that human wills form a harmony instead of a chaos. It serves society as the brain serves a living being. Incapable, inconsiderate, extravagant, engrossing, it often abuses its position, overstraining or misleading the body for which it should care, and which it should direct. But, taking all things into account, whatever it may do, more good than harm is done, for through it the body stands erect, marches on and guides its steps. Without it there is no organized deliberate action, serviceable to the whole body. In it alone do we find the comprehensive views, knowledge of the members of which it consists and of their aims, an idea of outward relationships, full and accurate information, in short, the superior intelligence which conceives what is best for the common interests, and adapts means to ends. If it falters and is no longer obeyed, if it is forced and pushed from without by a violent pressure, it ceases to control public affairs, and the social organization retrogrades by many steps. Through the dissolution of society, and the isolation of individuals, each man returns to his original feeble state, while power is vested in passing aggregates which spring up like whirling vortices amongst the human dust.—One may divine how this power, which the most competent find it difficult to apply properly, is exercised by bands of men starting up from the ground. The question is of provisions, their possession, price, and distribution; of taxation, its proportion, apportionment, and collection; of private property, its varieties, rights, and limitations; of public authority, its province and its limits; of all those delicate cog-wheels which, working into each other, constitute the great economic, social, and political machine. Each band in its own canton lays its rude hands on the wheels within its reach, wrenching or breaking them haphazard, under the impulse of the moment, heedless and indifferent to consequences, even when the reaction of tomorrow crushes them in the ruin which they cause today. Thus do unchained negroes, each pulling and hauling his own way, undertake to manage a ship of which they have just obtained the mastery.—In such a state of things white men are hardly worth more than black ones; for, not only is the band, whose aim is violence, composed of those who are most destitute, most wildly enthusiastic, and most inclined to destructiveness and to license, but also, as this band tumultuously carries out its violent action, each individual the most brutal, the most irrational, and most corrupt, descends lower than himself, even to the darkness, the madness, and the savagery of the dregs of society. In fact, a man who in the interchange of blows, would resist the excitement of murder, and not use his strength like a savage, must be familiar with arms, accustomed to danger, cool-blooded, alive to the sentiment of honour, and, above all, sensitive to that stern military code which, to the imagination of the soldier, ever holds out to him the provost’s gibbet to which he is sure to rise, should he strike one blow too many. All these restraints, inward as well as outward, are wanting to the man who plunges into insurrection. He is a novice in the acts of violence which he carries out. He has no fear of the law, because he abolishes it. The action begun carries him further than he intended to go. His anger is exasperated by peril and resistance. He catches the fever from contact with those who are fevered, and follows robbers who have become his comrades.1 Add to this the clamours, the drunkenness, the spectacle of destruction, the nervous tremor of the body strained beyond its powers of endurance, and we can comprehend how, from the peasant, the labourer, and the bourgeois, pacified and tamed by an old civilisation, we see all of a sudden spring forth the barbarian, and, still worse, the primitive animal, the grinning, sanguinary, wanton baboon, who chuckles while he slays, and gambols over the ruin he has accomplished. Such is the actual government to which France is given up, and after eighteen months’ experience, the best qualified, most judicious, and profoundest observer of the Revolution will find nothing to compare to it but the invasion of the Roman Empire in the fourth century.2 “The Huns, the Heruli, the Vandals, and the Goths will come neither from the north nor from the Black Sea; they are in our very midst.”
When in a building the principal beam gives way, cracks follow and multiply, and the secondary joists fall in one by one for lack of the prop which supported them. In a similar manner the authority of the King being broken, all the powers which he delegated fall to the ground.3 Intendants, parliaments, military commands, grand provosts, administrative, judicial, and police functionaries in every province, and of every branch of the service, who maintain order and protect property, taught by the murder of De Launay, the imprisonment of Bezenval, the flight of Marshal de Broglie, the assassinations of Foulon and Berthier, know what it costs to perform their duties, and, lest this should be forgotten, local insurrections intervene, and keep them in mind of it.
The officer in command in Burgundy is a prisoner at Dijon, with a guard at his door; and he is not allowed to speak with any one without permission, and without the presence of witnesses.4 The Commandant of Caen is besieged in the old palace and capitulates. The Commandant of Bordeaux surrenders Château-Trompette with its guns and equipment. The Commandant at Metz, who remains firm, suffers the insults and the orders of the populace. The Commandant of Brittany wanders about his province “like a vagabond,” while at Rennes his people, furniture, and plate are kept as pledges; as soon as he sets foot in Normandy he is surrounded, and a sentinel is placed at his door. The Intendant of Besançon takes to flight; that of Rouen sees his dwelling sacked from top to bottom, and escapes amid the shouts of a mob demanding his head. At Rennes, the Dean of the Parliament is arrested, maltreated, kept in his room with a guard over him, and then, although ill, sent out of the town under an escort. At Strasbourg, “thirty-six houses of magistrates are marked for pillage.”5 At Besançon, the President of the Parliament is constrained to let out of prison the insurgents arrested in a late outbreak, and to publicly burn the whole of the papers belonging to the prosecution. In Alsace, since the beginning of the troubles, the provosts were obliged to fly; the bailiffs and manorial judges hid themselves; the forest-inspectors ran away, and the houses of the guards were demolished: one man, sixty years of age, is outrageously beaten and marched about the village, the people, meanwhile, pulling out his hair; nothing remains of his dwelling but the walls and a portion of the roof; all his furniture and effects are broken up, burnt, or stolen; he is forced to sign, along with his wife, an act by which he binds himself to refund all penalties inflicted by him, and to abandon all claims for damages for the injuries to which he has just been subjected. In Franche-Comté the authorities dare not condemn delinquents, and the police do not arrest them; the military commandant writes that “crimes of every kind are on the increase, and that he has no means of punishing them.” Insubordination is permanent in all the provinces; one of the provincial commissions states with sadness: “When all powers are in confusion and annihilated, when public force no longer exists, when all ties are sundered, when every individual considers himself relieved from all kinds of obligation, when public authority no longer dares make itself felt, and it is a crime to have been clothed with it, what can be expected of our efforts to restore order?”6 All that remains of this great demolished State is forty thousand knots of men, each separated and isolated, in towns and small market-villages where municipal bodies, elected committees, and improvised national guards strive to prevent the worst excesses.—But these local chiefs are novices; they are human, and they are timid. Chosen by acclamation they believe in popular rights; in the midst of riots they feel themselves in danger. Hence, they generally obey the crowd. “Rarely,” says one of the provincial commissions’ reports, “do the municipal authorities issue a summons; they allow the greatest excesses rather than enter upon prosecutions for which, sooner or later, they may be held responsible by their fellow-citizens. . . . Municipal bodies have no longer the power to resist anything.” Especially in the rural districts the mayor or syndic, who is a farmer, makes it his first aim to make no enemies, and would resign his place if it were to bring him any “unpleasantness” with it. His rule in the towns, and especially in large cities, is almost as lax and more precarious, because explosive material is accumulated here to a much larger extent, and the municipal officers, in their arm-chairs at the town-hall, sit over a mine which may explode at any time. Tomorrow, perhaps, some resolution passed at a tavern in the suburbs, or some incendiary newspaper just received from Paris, will furnish the spark.—No other defence against the populace is at hand than the sentimental proclamations of the National Assembly, the useless presence of troops who stand by and look on, and the uncertain help of a National Guard which will arrive too late. Occasionally these townspeople, who are now the sovereigns, utter a cry of distress from under the hands of the sovereigns of the street who grasp them by the throat. At Puy-en-Velay,7 a town of twenty thousand inhabitants, the présidial,8 the committee of twenty-four commissioners, a body of two hundred dragoons, and eight hundred men of the guard of burgesses, are “paralyzed, and completely stupefied, by the vile populace. A mild treatment only increases its insubordination and insolence.” This populace proscribes whomsoever it pleases, and six days ago a gibbet, erected by its hands, has announced to the new magistrates the fate that awaits them. “What will become of us this winter,” they exclaim, “in our impoverished country, where bread is not to be had! We shall be the prey of wild beasts!”
These people, in truth, are hungry, and, since the Revolution, their misery has increased. Around Puy-en-Velay the country is laid waste, and the soil broken up by a terrible tempest, a fierce hailstorm, and a deluge of rain. In the south, the crop proved to be moderate and even insufficient. “To trace a picture of the condition of Languedoc,” writes the intendant,9 “would be to give an account of calamities of every description. The panic which prevails in all communities, and which is stronger than all laws, stops traffic, and would cause famine even in the midst of plenty. Commodities are enormously high, and there is a lack of cash. Communities are ruined by the enormous outlays to which they are exposed—the payment of the deputies to the seneschal’s court, the establishment of the burgess guards, guardhouses for this militia, the purchase of arms, uniforms, and outlays in forming communes and permanent councils; printing of all kinds, for the publication of the most unessential deliberations; the loss of time due to disturbances occasioned by these circumstances; the utter stagnation of manufactures and of trade”—all these causes combined “have reduced Languedoc to the last extremity.”—In the centre, and in the north, where the crops are good, provisions are not less scarce, because wheat is not allowed a circulation, and is kept concealed. “For five months,” writes the municipal assembly of Louviers,10 “not a farmer has made his appearance in the markets of this town. Such a circumstance was never known before, although, from time to time, high prices have prevailed to a considerable extent. On the contrary, the markets were always well supplied in proportion to the high price of grain.” In vain the municipality orders the surrounding forty-seven parishes to provide them with wheat; they pay no attention to the mandate; each for himself and each for his own house; the intendant is no longer present to compel local interests to give way to public interests. “In the wheat districts around us,” says a letter from one of the Burgundy towns, “we cannot rely on being able to make free purchases. Special regulations, supported by the burgess militia, prevent grain from being sent out, and put a stop to its circulation. The adjacent markets are of no use to us. Not a sack of grain has been brought into our market for about eight months.”—At Troyes, bread costs four sous per pound; at Bar-sur-Aube, and in the vicinity, four and a half sous per pound. The artisan who is out of work now earns twelve sous a day at the relief works, and, on going into the country, he sees that the grain crop is good. What conclusion can he come to but that the dearth is due to the monopolists, and that, if he should die of hunger, it would be because those scoundrels have starved him?—By virtue of this reasoning whoever has to do with these provisions, whether proprietor, farmer, merchant, or administrator, all are considered traitors. It is plain that there is a plot against the people: the government, the Queen, the clergy, the nobles are all parties to it; and likewise the magistrates and the wealthy amongst the bourgeoisie and the rich. A rumour is current in the Ile-de-France that sacks of flour are thrown into the Seine, and that the cavalry horses are purposely made to eat grain in the stalk. In Brittany, it is maintained that grain is exported and stored up abroad. In Touraine, it is certain that this or that wholesale dealer allows it to sprout in his granaries rather than sell it. At Troyes, a story prevails that another has poisoned his flour with alum and arsenic, commissioned to do so by the bakers.—Conceive the effect of suspicions like these upon a suffering multitude! A wave of hatred ascends from the empty stomach to the morbid brain. The people are everywhere in quest of their imaginary enemies, plunging forward with closed eyes no matter on whom or on what, not merely with all the weight of their mass, but with all the energy of their fury.
From the earliest of these weeks they were already alarmed. Accustomed to being led, the human herd is scared at being left to itself; it misses its leaders whom it has trodden under foot; in throwing off their trammels it has deprived itself of their protection. It feels lonely, in an unknown country, exposed to dangers of which it is ignorant, and against which it is unable to guard itself. Now that the shepherds are slain or disarmed, suppose the wolves should unexpectedly appear!—And there are wolves—I mean vagabonds and criminals—who have but just issued out of the darkness. They have robbed and burned, and are to be found at every insurrection. Now that the police force no longer puts them down, they show themselves instead of keeping themselves concealed. They have only to lie in wait and come forth in a band, and both life and property will be at their mercy.—Deep anxiety, a vague feeling of dread, spreads through both town and country: towards the end of July the panic, like a blinding, suffocating whirl of dust, suddenly sweeps over hundreds of leagues of territory. The brigands are coming! they are firing the crops! they are only six leagues off, and then only two—it is proved by the fugitives who are escaping in confusion.
On the 28th of July, at Angoulême,11 the tocsin is heard about three o’clock in the afternoon; the drums beat to arms, and cannon are mounted on the ramparts; the town has to be put in a state of defence against 15,000 bandits who are approaching; and from the walls a cloud of dust on the road is discovered with terror. It proves to be the post-waggon on its way to Bordeaux. After this the number of brigands is reduced to 1,500, but there is no doubt that they are ravaging the country. At nine o’clock in the evening 20,000 men are under arms, and thus they pass the night, always listening without hearing anything. Towards three o’clock in the morning there is a fresh alarm with the tocsin, and the people form themselves in battle array; it is certain that the brigands have burned Ruffec, Verneuil, La Rochefoucauld, and other places. The next day countrymen flock in to give their aid against bandits who are still absent. “At nine o’clock,” says a witness, “we had 40,000 men in the town, to whom we had to be grateful.” As the bandits do not show themselves, it must be because they are concealed; a hundred horsemen, a large number of men on foot, start out to search the forest of Braçonne, and to their great surprise they find nothing. But the terror is not allayed; “during the following days a guard is kept mounted, and companies are enrolled among the burgesses,” while Bordeaux, duly informed, dispatches a courier to offer the support of 20,000 men and even 30,000. “What is surprising,” adds the narrator, “is that at ten leagues off in the neighbourhood, in each parish, a similar disturbance took place, and at about the same hour.”—That a girl returning to the village at night should meet two men who do not belong to the neighbourhood is sufficient to give rise to these panics. The case is the same in Auvergne. Whole parishes, on the strength of this, betake themselves at night to the woods, abandoning their houses, and carrying away their furniture; “the fugitives trod down and destroyed their own crops; pregnant women were injured in the forests, and others lost their wits.” Fear lends them wings. Two years after this, Madame Campan was shown a rocky peak on which a woman had taken refuge, and from which she was obliged to be let down with ropes.—The people at last return to their homes, and their lives seem to resume the even tenor of their way. But such large masses are not unsettled with impunity; a tumult like this is, in itself, a fruitful source of alarm: as the country did rise, it must have been on account of threatened danger; and if the peril was not due to brigands, it must have come from some other quarter. Arthur Young, at Dijon and in Alsace,12 hears at the public dinner-tables that the Queen had formed a plot to undermine the National Assembly and to massacre all Paris. Later on he is arrested in a village near Clermont, and examined because he is evidently conspiring with the Queen and the Comte d’Entraigues to blow up the town and send the survivors to the galleys.
No argument, no experience has any effect against the multiplying phantoms of an overexcited imagination. Henceforth every commune, and every man, provide themselves with arms and keep them ready for use. The peasant searches his hoard, and “finds from ten to twelve francs for the purchase of a gun.” “A national militia is found in the poorest village.” Burgess guards and companies of volunteers patrol all the towns. Military commanders deliver arms, ammunition, and equipments, on the requisition of municipal bodies, while, in case of refusal, the arsenals are pillaged, and, voluntarily or by force, four hundred thousand guns thus pass into the hands of the people in six months.13 Not content with this they must have cannon. Brest having demanded two, every town in Brittany does the same thing; their amour-propre is excited, and also the need of feeling themselves strong. They lack nothing now to render themselves masters. All authority, all force, every means of constraint and of intimidation is in their hands, and in theirs alone; and these sovereign hands have nothing to guide them in this actual interregnum of all legal powers, but the wild or murderous suggestions of hunger or distrust.
It would take too much space to recount all the violent acts which were committed—convoys arrested, grain pillaged, millers and corn-merchants hung, decapitated, slaughtered, farmers called upon under threats of death to give up even the seed reserved for sowing, proprietors ransomed and houses sacked.14 These outrages, unpunished, tolerated, and even excused or badly suppressed, are constantly repeated, and are, at first, directed against public men and public property. As is commonly the case, the rabble head the march and stamp the character of the whole insurrection.
On the 19th of July, at Strasbourg, on the news of Necker’s return to office, it interprets after its own fashion the public joy which it witnesses. Five or six hundred beggars,15 their numbers soon increased by the petty tradesmen, rush to the town-hall, the magistrates only having time to fly through a back door. The soldiers, on their part, with arms in their hands, allow all these things to go on, while several of them spur the assailants on. The windows are dashed to pieces under a hailstorm of stones, the doors are forced with iron crow-bars, and the populace enter amid a burst of acclamations from the spectators. Immediately, through every opening in the building, which has a façade frontage of eighty feet, “there is a shower of shutters, sashes, chairs, tables, sofas, books and papers, and then another of tiles, boards, balconies and fragments of wood-work.” The public archives are thrown to the wind, and the surrounding streets are strewed with them; the letters of enfranchisement, the charters of privileges, all the authentic acts which, since Louis XIV., have guaranteed the liberties of the town, perish in the flames. Some of the rabble in the cellars stave in casks of precious wine; fifteen thousand measures of it are lost, making a pool five feet deep in which several are drowned. Others, loaded with booty, go away under the eyes of the soldiers without being arrested. The havoc continues for three days; a number of houses belonging to some of the magistrates “are sacked from garret to cellar.” When the honest burgesses at last obtain arms and restore order, they are content with the hanging of one of the robbers; although, in order to please the people, the magistrates are changed and the price of bread and meat is reduced. It is not surprising that after such tactics, and with such rewards, the riot should spread through the neighbourhood far and near: in fact, starting from Strasbourg it overruns Alsace, while in the country as in the city, there are always drunkards and rascals found to head it.
No matter where—be it in the east, in the west, or in the north—the instigators are always of this stamp. At Cherbourg, on the 21st of July,16 the two leaders of the riot are “highway robbers,” who place themselves at the head of women of the suburbs, foreign sailors, the populace of the harbour, and it includes soldiers in workmen’s smocks. They force the delivery of the keys of the grain warehouses, and wreck the dwellings of the three richest merchants, also that of M. de Garantot, the subdelegate: “All records and papers are burnt; at M. de Garantot’s alone the loss is estimated at more than 100,000 crowns at least.”—The same instinct of destruction prevails everywhere—a sort of envious fury against all who possess, command, or enjoy anything. At Maubeuge, on the 27th of July, at the very moment of the assembly of the representatives of the commune,17 the rabble interferes directly in its usual fashion. A band of nail- and gun-makers takes possession of the town-hall, and obliges the mayor to reduce the price of bread. Almost immediately after this another band follows uttering cries of death, and smashes the windows, while the garrison, which has been ordered out, quietly contemplates the damage done. Death to the mayor, to all rulers, and to all employés! The rioters force open the prisons, set the prisoners free, and attack the tax-offices. The octroi offices are demolished from top to bottom: they pull down the harbour offices and throw the scales and weights into the river. All the custom and excise stores are carried off, and the officials are compelled to give acquittances. The houses of the registrar and of the sheriff, that of the revenue comptroller, two hundred yards outside the town, are sacked; the doors and the windows are smashed, the furniture and linen is torn to shreds, and the plate and jewellery is thrown into the wells. The same havoc is committed in the mayor’s town-house, also in his country-house a league off. “Not a window, not a door, not one article or eatable” is preserved; their work, moreover, is conscientiously done, without stopping a moment, “from ten in the evening up to ten in the morning on the following day.” In addition to this the mayor, who has served for thirty-four years, resigns his office at the solicitation of the well-disposed but terrified people, and leaves the country.—At Rouen, after the 24th of July,18 a written placard shows, by its orthography and its style, what sort of intellects composed it and what kind of actions are to follow it: “Nation, you have here four heads to strike off—those of Pontcarry (the first president), Maussion (the intendant), Godard de Belboeuf (the attorney-general), and Durand (the attorney of the King in the town). Without this we are lost, and if you do not do it, people will take you for a heartless nation.” Nothing could be more explicit. The municipal body, however, to whom the Parliament denounces this list of proscriptions, replies, with its forced optimism, that “no citizen should consider himself or be considered as proscribed; he may and must believe himself to be safe in his own dwelling, satisfied that there is not a person in the city who would not fly to his rescue.” This is equal to telling the populace that it is free to do as it pleases. On the strength of this the leaders of the riot work on in security for ten days. One of them is a man named Jourdain, a lawyer of Lisieux, and, like most of his brethren, a demagogue in principles; the other is a strolling actor from Paris named Bordier, famous in the part of harlequin,19 a bully in a house of ill-fame, “a night-rover and drunkard, and who, fearing neither God nor devil,” has taken up patriotism, and comes down into the provinces to play tragedy, and that, tragedy in real life. The fifth act begins on the night of the 3rd of August, with Bordier and Jourdain as the principal actors, and behind them the rabble along with several companies of fresh volunteers. A shout is heard, “Death to the monopolists! death to Maussion! we must have his head!” They pillage his hotel: many of them become intoxicated and fall asleep in his cellar. The revenue offices, the toll-gates of the town, the excise office, all buildings in which the royal revenue is collected, are wrecked. Immense bonfires are lighted in the streets and on the old market square; furniture, clothes, papers, kitchen utensils, are all thrown in pell-mell, while carriages are dragged out and tumbled into the Seine. It is only when the town-hall is attacked that the national guard, beginning to be alarmed, makes up its mind to seize Bordier and some others. The following morning, however, at the shout of Carabo, and led by Jourdain, the prison is forced, Bordier set free, and the intendant’s residence, with its offices, is sacked a second time. When, finally, the two rascals are taken and led to the scaffold, the populace is so strongly in their favour as to require the pointing of loaded cannon on them to keep them down.—At Besançon,20 on the 13th of August, the leaders consist of the servant of an exhibitor of wild animals, two gaol-birds of whom one has already been branded in consequence of a riot, and a number of “inhabitants of ill-repute,” who, towards evening, spread through the town along with the soldiers. The gunners insult the officers they meet, seize them by the throat, and want to throw them into the Doubs. Others go to the house of the commandant, M. de Langeron, and demand money of him; on his refusing to give it they tear off their cockades and exclaim, “We too belong to the Third-Estate!” in other words, that they are the masters: subsequently they demand the head of the intendant, M. de Caumartin, forcibly enter his dwelling and break up his furniture. On the following day the rabble and the soldiers enter the coffee-houses, the convents, and the inns, and demand to be served with wine and eatables as much as they want, and then, heated by drink, they burn the excise offices, force open several prisons, and set free all the smugglers and deserters. To put an end to this saturnalia a grand banquet in the open air is suggested, in which the National Guard is to fraternize with the whole garrison; but the banquet turns into a drinking-bout, entire companies remaining under the tables dead drunk; other companies carry away with them four hogsheads of wine, and the rest, finding themselves left in the lurch, are scattered abroad outside the walls in order to rob the cellars of the neighbouring villages. The next day, encouraged by the example set them, a portion of the garrison, accompanied by a number of workmen, repeat the expedition in the country. Finally, after four days of this orgy, to prevent Besançon and its outskirts from being indefinitely treated as a conquered country, the burgess guard, in alliance with the soldiers who have remained loyal, rebel against the rebellion, go in quest of the marauders, and hang two of them that same evening.—Such is insurrection!21 an irruption of brute force which, turned loose on the habitations of men, can do nothing but gorge itself, waste, break, destroy, and do damage to itself; and if we follow the details of local history, we see how, in these days, similar outbreaks of violence might be expected at any time.
At Troyes,22 on the 18th of July, a market-day, the peasants refuse to pay the entrance duties; the octroi having been suppressed at Paris, it ought also to be suppressed at Troyes. The populace, excited by this first disorderly act, gather into a mob for the purpose of dividing the grain and arms amongst themselves, and the next day the town-hall is invested by seven or eight thousand men, armed with clubs and stones. The day after, a band, recruited in the surrounding villages, armed with flails, shovels, and pitch-forks, enters under the leadership of a joiner who marches at the head of it with a drawn sabre; fortunately, “all the honest folks among the burgesses” immediately form themselves into a national guard, and this first attempt at a jacquerie is put down. But the agitation continues, and false rumours constantly keep it up. On the 29th of July, on the report being circulated that five hundred “brigands” had left Paris and were coming to ravage the country, the tocsin sounds in the villages, and the peasants go forth armed.—Henceforth, a vague idea of some impending danger fills all minds; the necessity of defence and of guarding against enemies is maintained. The new demagogues avail themselves of this to keep their hold on the people, and when the time comes, to use it against their chiefs. It is of no use to assure the people that the latter are patriots; that only recently they welcomed Necker with enthusiastic shouts; that the priests, the monks, and canons were the first to adopt the national cockade; that the nobles of the city and its environs are the most liberal in France; that, on the 20th of July, the burgess guard saved the town; that all the wealthy give to the national workshops; that Mayor Huez, “a venerable and honest magistrate,” is a benefactor to the poor and to the public. All the old leaders are objects of distrust.—On the 8th of August, a mob demands the dismissal of the dragoons, arms for all volunteers, bread at two sous the pound, and the freedom of all prisoners. On the 19th of August the National Guard rejects its old officers as aristocrats, and elects new ones. On the 27th of August, the crowd invade the town-hall and distribute the arms amongst themselves. On the 5th of September, two hundred men, led by Truelle, president of the new committee, force the salt depôt and have salt delivered to them at six sous per pound.—Meanwhile, in the lowest quarters of the city, a story is concocted to the effect that if wheat is scarce it is because Huez, the mayor, and M. de St. Georges, the old commandant, are monopolists, and now they say of Huez what they said five weeks before of Foulon, that “he wants to make the people eat hay.” The many-headed brute growls fiercely and is about to spring. As usual, instead of restraining him, they try to manage him. “You must put your authority aside for a moment,” writes the deputy of Troyes to the sheriffs, “and act towards the people as to a friend; be as gentle with them as you would be with your equals, and rest assured that they are capable of responding to it.” Thus does Huez act, and he even does more, paying no attention to their menaces, refusing to provide for his own safety and almost offering himself as a sacrifice. “I have wronged no one,” he exclaimed; “why should any one bear me ill-will?” His sole precaution is to provide something for the unfortunate poor when he is gone: he bequeaths in his will 18,000 livres to the poor, and, on the eve of his death, sends 100 crowns to the bureau of charity. But what avail self-abnegation and beneficence against blind, insane rage! On the 9th of September, three loads of flour proving to be unsound, the people collect and shout out, “Down with the flour-dealers! Down with machinery! Down with the mayor! Death to the mayor, and let Truelle be put in his place!”—Huez, on leaving his court-room, is knocked down, murdered by kicks and blows, throttled, dragged to the reception hall, struck on his head with a sabot, and pitched down the grand staircase. The municipal officers strive in vain to protect him; a rope is put around his neck and they begin to drag him along. A priest, who begs to be allowed at least to save his soul, is repulsed and beaten. A woman jumps on the prostrate old man, stamps on his face and repeatedly thrusts her scissors in his eyes. He is dragged along with the rope around his neck up to the Pont de la Selle, and thrown into the neighbouring ford, and then drawn out, again dragged through the streets and in the gutters, with a bunch of hay crammed in his mouth.23
In the meantime, his house as well as that of the lieutenant of police, that of the notary Guyot, and that of M. de Saint-Georges, are sacked; the pillaging and destruction lasts four hours; at the notary’s house, six hundred bottles of wine are consumed or carried off; objects of value are divided, and the rest, even down to the iron balcony, is demolished or broken; the rioters cry out, on leaving, that they have still to burn twenty-seven houses, and to take twenty-seven heads. “No one at Troyes went to bed that fatal night.”—During the succeeding days, for nearly two weeks, society seems to be dissolved. Placards posted about the streets proscribe municipal officers, canons, divines, privileged persons, prominent merchants, and even ladies of charity; the latter are so frightened that they throw up their office, while a number of persons move off into the country; others barricade themselves in their dwellings and only open their doors with sabre in hand. Not until the 26th does the orderly class rally sufficiently to resume the ascendancy and arrest the miscreants.—Such is public life in France after the 14th of July: the magistrates in each town feel that they are at the mercy of a band of savages and sometimes of cannibals. Those of Troyes had just tortured Huez after the fashion of Hurons, while those of Caen did worse; Major de Belzance, not less innocent, and under sworn protection,24 was cut to pieces like Laperouse in the Fiji Islands, and a woman ate his heart.
We can divine, under such circumstances, whether taxes come in, and whether municipalities that sway about in every popular breeze have the power of keeping up odious revenue rights.—Towards the end of September,25 I find a list of thirty-six committees or municipal bodies which, within a radius of fifty leagues around Paris, refuse to ensure the collection of taxes. One of them tolerates the sale of contraband salt, in order not to excite a riot. Another takes the precaution to disarm the employés in the excise department. In a third the municipal officers were the first to provide themselves with contraband salt and contraband tobacco.
At Peronne and at Ham, the order having come to restore the toll-houses, the people destroy the soldiers’ quarters, conduct all the employés to their homes, and order them to leave within twenty-four hours, under penalty of death. After twenty months’ resistance Paris will end the matter by forcing the National Assembly to give in and by obtaining the final suppression of its octroi.26 —Of all the creditors whose hand each one felt on his shoulders, that of the exchequer was the heaviest, and now it is the weakest; hence this is the first whose grasp is to be shaken off; there is none which is more heartily detested or which receives harsher treatment. Especially against collectors of the salt-tax, custom-house officers, and excisemen the fury is universal. These, everywhere,27 are in danger of their lives and are obliged to fly. At Falaise, in Normandy, the people threaten to “cut to pieces the director of the excise.” At Baignes, in Saintonge, his house is devastated and his papers and effects are burned; they put a knife to the throat of his son, a child six years of age, saying, “Thou must perish that there may be no more of thy race.” For four hours the clerks are on the point of being torn to pieces; through the entreaties of the lord of the manor, who sees scythes and sabres aimed at his own head, they are released only on the condition that they “abjure their employment.”—Again, for two months following the taking of the Bastille, insurrections break out by hundreds, like a volley of musketry, against indirect taxation. From the 23rd of July the Intendant of Champagne reports that “the uprising is general in almost all the towns under his generalship.” On the following day the Intendant of Alençon writes that, in his province, “the royal dues will no longer be paid anywhere.” On the 7th of August, M. Necker states to the National Assembly that in the two intendants’ districts of Caen and Alençon it has been necessary to reduce the price of salt one-half; that “in an infinity of places” the collection of the excise is stopped or suspended; that the smuggling of salt and tobacco is done by “convoys and by open force” in Picardy, in Lorraine, and in the Trois-Evêchés; that the indirect tax does not come in, that the receivers-general and the receivers of the taille are “at bay” and can no longer keep their engagements. The public income diminishes from month to month; in the social body, the heart, already so feeble, faints; deprived of the blood which no longer reaches it, it ceases to propel to the muscles the vivifying current which restores their waste and adds to their energy.
“All controlling power is slackened,” says Necker, “everything is a prey to the passions of individuals.” Where is the power to constrain them and to secure to the State its dues? The clergy, the nobles, wealthy townsmen, and certain brave artisans and farmers, undoubtedly pay, and even sometimes give spontaneously. But in society those who possess intelligence, who are in easy circumstances and conscientious, form a small select class—the great mass is egotistic, ignorant, and needy, and lets its money go only under constraint; there is but one way to collect the taxes, and that is to extort them. From time immemorial, direct taxes in France have been collected only by bailiffs and seizures; which is not surprising, as they take away a full half of the net income. Now that the peasants of each village are armed and form a band, let the collector come and make seizures if he dare!—“Immediately after the decree on the equality of the taxes,” writes the provincial commission of Alsace,28 “the people generally refused to make any payments, until those who were exempt and privileged should have been inscribed on the local lists.” In many places the peasants threaten to obtain the reimbursement of their instalments, while in others they insist that the decree should be retrospective and that the new rate-payers should pay for the past year. “No collector dare send an official to distrain; none that are sent dare fulfil their mission.”—“It is not the good bourgeois” of whom there is any fear, “but the rabble who make the latter and every one else afraid of them”; resistance and disorder everywhere come from “people that have nothing to lose.”—Not only do they shake off taxation, but they usurp property, and declare that, being the Nation, whatever belongs to the Nation belongs to them. The forests of Alsace are laid waste, the seignorial as well as communal, and wantonly destroyed with the wastefulness of children or of maniacs. “In many places, to avoid the trouble of removing the woods, they are burnt, and the people content themselves with carrying off the ashes.”—After the decrees of August 4th, and in spite of the law which licenses the proprietor only to hunt on his own grounds, the impulse to break the law becomes irresistible. Every man who can procure a gun begins operations;29 the crops which are still standing are trodden under foot, the lordly residences are invaded, and the palings are scaled; the King himself at Versailles is wakened by shots fired in his park. Stags, fawns, deer, wild boars, hares, and rabbits, are slain by thousands, cooked with stolen wood, and eaten up on the spot. There is a constant discharge of musketry throughout France for more than two months, and, as on an American prairie, every living animal belongs to him who kills it. At Choiseul, in Champagne, not only are all the hares and partridges of the barony exterminated, but the ponds are exhausted of fish; the court of the chateau even is entered, to fire on the pigeon-house and destroy the pigeons, and then the pigeons and fish, of which they have too many, are offered to the proprietor for sale.—It is “the patriots” of the village with “smugglers and bad characters” belonging to the neighbourhood who make this expedition; they are seen in the front ranks of every act of violence, and it is not difficult to foresee that, under their leadership, attacks on public persons and public property will be followed by attacks on private persons and private property.
Indeed, a proscribed class already exists, and a name has been found for it: it is the “aristocrats.” This deadly term, applied at first to the nobles and prelates in the States-General who declined to take part in the reunion of the three orders, is extended so as to embrace all whose titles, offices, alliances, and manner of living distinguish them from the multitude. That which entitled them to respect is that which marks them out as objects of ill-will; while the people, who, though suffering from their privileges, did not regard them personally with hatred, are taught to consider them as their enemies. Each, on his own estate, is held accountable for the evil designs attributed to his brethren at Versailles, and, on the false report of a plot at the centre, the peasants range themselves on the side of the conspirators.30 Thus does the peasant jacquerie commence, and the wild enthusiasts who have fanned the flame in Paris are likewise fanning the flame in the provinces. “You wish to know the authors of the agitations,” writes a sensible man to the committee of investigation; “you will find them amongst the deputies of the Third-Estate,” and especially among the attorneys and advocates. “These dispatch incendiary letters to their constituents, which letters are received by municipal bodies alike composed of attorneys and of advocates. . . . they are read aloud in the public squares, while copies of them are distributed among all the villages. In these villages, if any one knows how to read besides the priest and the lord of the manor, it is the legal practitioner,” the born enemy of the lord of the manor, whose place he covets, vain of his oratorical powers, embittered by his poverty, and never failing to blacken everything.31 It is highly probable that he is the one who composes and circulates the placards calling on the people, in the King’s name, to resort to violence.—At Secondigny, in Poitou, on the 23rd of July,32 the labourers in the forest receive a letter “which summons them to attack all the country gentlemen round about, and to massacre without mercy all those who refuse to renounce their privileges . . . promising them that not only will their crimes go unpunished, but that they will even be rewarded.” M. Despretz-Montpezat, correspondent of the deputies of the nobles, is seized, and dragged with his son to the dwelling of the procurator-fiscal, to force him to give his signature; the inhabitants are forbidden to render him assistance “on pain of death and fire.” “Sign,” they exclaim, “or we will tear out your heart, and set fire to this house!” At this moment the neighbouring notary, who is doubtless an accomplice, appears with a stamped paper, and says to him, “Monsieur, I have just come from Niort, where the Third-Estate has done the same thing to all the gentlemen of the town; one, who refused, was cut to pieces before our eyes.”—“We are compelled to sign renunciations of our privileges, and give our assent to one and the same taxation, as if the nobles had not already done so.” The band gives notice that it will proceed in the same fashion with all the chateaux in the vicinity, and terror precedes or follows them. “Nobody dares write,” M. Despretz sends word; “I attempt it at the risk of my life.”—Nobles and prelates become objects of suspicion everywhere; village committees open their letters, and they have to suffer their houses to be searched.33 They are forced to adopt the new cockade: to be a gentleman, and not wear it, is to deserve hanging. At Mamers, in Maine, M. de Beauvoir refuses to wear it, and is at the point of being put into the pillory and at once knocked on the head. Near La Flèche, M. de Brissac is arrested, and a message is sent to Paris to know if he shall be taken there, “or be beheaded in the meantime.” Two deputies of the nobles, MM. de Montesson and de Vassé, who had come to ask the consent of their constituents to their joining the Third-Estate, are recognised near Mans; their honourable scruples and their pledges to the constituents are considered of no importance, nor even the step that they are now taking to fulfil them; it suffices that they voted against the Third-Estate at Versailles; the populace pursues them and breaks up their carriages, and pillages their trunks.—Woe to the nobles, especially if they have taken any part in local rule, and if they are opposed to popular panics! M. Cureau, deputy-mayor of Mans,34 had issued orders during the famine, and, having retired to his chateau of Nouay, had told the peasants that the announcement of the coming of brigands was a false alarm; he thought that it was not necessary to sound the tocsin, and all that was necessary was that they should remain quiet. Accordingly he is set down as being in league with the brigands, and besides this he is a monopolist, and a buyer of standing crops. The peasants lead him off, along with his son-in-law, M. de Montesson, to the neighbouring village, where there are judges. On the way “they dragged their victims on the ground, pummelled them, trampled on them, spit in their faces, and besmeared them with filth.” M. de Montesson is shot, while M. Cureau is killed by degrees; a carpenter cuts off the two heads with a double-edged axe, and children bear them along to the sound of drums and violins. Meanwhile, the judges of the place, brought by force, draw up an official report stating the finding of thirty louis and several bills of the Banque d’Escompte in the pockets of M. de Cureau, on the discovery of which a shout of triumph is set up: this evidence proves that they were going to buy up the standing wheat!—Such is the course of popular justice. Now that the Third-Estate has become the nation, every mob thinks that it has the right to pronounce sentences, which it carries out, on lives and on possessions.
These explosions are isolated in the western, central, and southern provinces: the conflagration, however, is universal in the east, on a strip of ground from thirty to fifty leagues broad, extending from the extreme north down to Provence. Alsace, Franche-Comté, Burgundy, Mâconnais, Beaujolais, Auvergne, Viennois, Dauphiny—the whole of this territory resembles a continuous mine which explodes at the same time. The first column of flame which shoots up is on the frontiers of Alsace and Franche-Comté, in the vicinity of Belfort and Vésoul—a feudal district, in which the peasant, overburdened with taxes, bears the heavier yoke with greater impatience. An instinctive argument is going on in his mind without his knowing it. “The good Assembly and the good King want us to be happy—suppose we help them! They say that the King has already relieved us of the taxes—suppose we relieve ourselves of paying rents! Down with the nobles! They are no better than the tax-collectors!”—On the 16th of July, the chateau of Sancy, belonging to the Princesse de Beaufremont, is sacked, and on the 18th those of Lure, Bithaine, and Molans.35 On the 29th, an accident which occurs with some fireworks at a popular festival at the house of M. de Memmay, leads the lower class to believe that the invitation extended to them was a trap, and that there was a desire to get rid of them by treachery.36 Seized with rage they set fire to the chateau, and during the following week37 destroy three abbeys, ruin eleven chateaux, and pillage others; “all records are destroyed, the registers and court-rolls are carried off, and the deposits violated.”—Starting from this spot, “the hurricane of insurrection” stretches over the whole of Alsace from Huningue to Landau.38 The insurgents display placards, signed Louis, stating that for a certain lapse of time they shall be permitted to exercise justice themselves, and, in Sundgau, a well-dressed weaver, decorated with a blue belt, passes for a prince, the King’s second son. They begin by falling on the Jews, their hereditary leeches; they sack their dwellings, divide their money among themselves, and hunt them down like so many fallow-deer. At Bâle alone, it is said that twelve hundred of these unfortunate fugitives arrived with their families.—The distance between the Jew creditor and the Christian proprietor is not great, and this is soon cleared. Remiremont is only saved by a detachment of dragoons. Eight hundred men attack the chateau of Uberbrünn. The abbey of Neubourg is taken by storm. At Guebwiller, on the 31st of July, five hundred peasants, subjects of the abbey of Murbach, make a descent on the abbot’s palace and on the house of the canons. Cupboards, chests, beds, windows, mirrors, frames, even the tiles of the roof and the hinges of the casements are hacked to pieces: “They kindle fires on the beautiful inlaid floors of the apartments, and there burn up the library and the title-deeds.” The abbot’s superb carriage is so broken up that not a wheel remains entire. “Wine streams through the cellars. One cask of sixteen hundred measures is half lost; the plate and the linen are carried off.”—Society is evidently being overthrown, while with the power, property is changing hands.
These are their very words. In Franche-Comté39 the inhabitants of eight communes come and declare to the Bernardins of Grâce-Dieu and of Lieu-Croissant “that, being of the Third-Estate, it is time now for the people to rule over abbots and monks, considering that the domination of the latter has lasted too long,” and thereupon they carry off all the titles to property and to rentals belonging to the abbey in their commune. In Upper Dauphiny, during the destruction of M. de Murat’s chateau, a man named Ferréol struck the furniture with a big stick, exclaiming, “Hey, so much for you, Murat; you have been master a good while, now it’s our turn!”40 Those who rifle houses, and steal like highway robbers, think that they are defending a cause, and reply to the challenge, “Who goes there?” “We are for the brigand Third-Estate!”—Everywhere the belief prevails that they are clothed with authority, and they conduct themselves like a conquering horde under the orders of an absent general. At Remiremont and at Luxeuil they produce an edict, stating that “all this brigandage, pillage, and destruction” is permitted. In Dauphiny, the leaders of the bands say that they possess the King’s orders. In Auvergne, “they follow imperative orders, being advised that such is his Majesty’s will.” Nowhere do we see that an insurgent village exercises personal vengeance against its lord. If the people fire on the nobles they encounter, it is not through personal hatred. They are destroying the class, and do not pursue individuals. They detest feudal privileges, holders of charters, the cursed parchments by virtue of which they are made to pay, but not the nobleman who, when he resides at home, is of humane intentions, compassionate, and even often beneficent. At Luxeuil, the abbot, who is forced with uplifted axe to sign a relinquishment of his seignorial rights over twenty-three estates, has dwelt among them for forty-six years, and has been wholly devoted to them.41 In the canton of Crémieu, “where the havoc is immense,” all the nobles, write the municipal officers, are “patriots and benevolent.” In Dauphiny, the engineers, magistrates, and prelates, whose chateaux are sacked, were the first to espouse the cause of the people and of public liberties against the ministers. In Auvergne, the peasants themselves “manifest a good deal of repugnance to act in this way against such kind masters.” But it must be done; the only concession which can be made in consideration of the kindness which had been extended to them is, not to burn the chateau of the ladies of Vanes, who had been so charitable; but they burn all their title-deeds, and torture the business agent at three different times by fire, to force him to deliver a document which he does not possess; they then only withdraw him from the fire half-broiled, because the ladies, on their knees, implore mercy for him.—They are like the soldiers on a campaign who execute orders with docility, for which necessity is the only plea, and who, without regarding themselves as brigands, commit acts of brigandage.
But here the situation is more tragical, for it is war in the midst of peace, a war of the brutal and barbarised multitude against the highly cultivated, well-disposed, and confiding, who had not anticipated anything of the kind, who had not even dreamt of defending themselves, and who had no protection. The Comte de Courtivron, with his family, was staying at the watering-place of Luxeuil with his uncle, the Abbé of Clermont-Tonnerre, an old man of seventy years. On the 19th of July, fifty peasants from Fougerolle break into and demolish everything in the houses of an usher and a collector of the excise. Thereupon the mayor of the place intimates to the nobles and magistrates who are taking the waters, that they had better leave the house in twenty-four hours, as “he had been advised of an intention to burn the houses in which they were staying,” and he did not wish to have Luxeuil exposed to this danger on account of their presence there. The following day, the guard, as obliging as the mayor, allows the band to enter the town and to force the abbey; the usual events follow—renunciations are extorted, records and cellars are ransacked, plate and other effects are stolen. M. de Courtivron escaping with his uncle during the night, the tocsin is sounded and they are pursued, and with difficulty obtain refuge in Plombières. The bourgeoisie of Plombières, however, for fear of compromising themselves, oblige them to depart. On the road two hundred insurgents threaten to kill their horses and to smash their carriage, and they only find safety at last at Porentruy, outside of France. On his return, M. de Courtivron is shot at by the band which has just pillaged the abbey of Lure, and they shout out at him as he passes, “Let’s massacre the nobles!” Meanwhile, the chateau of Vauvilliers, to which his sick wife had been carried, is devastated from top to bottom; the mob search for her everywhere, and she only escapes by hiding herself in a hay-loft. Both are anxious to fly into Burgundy, but word is sent them that at Dijon “the nobles are blockaded by the people,” and that, in the country, they threaten to set their houses on fire.—There is no asylum to be had, either in their own homes nor in the homes of others, nor in places along the roads, fugitives being stopped in all the small villages and market-towns. In Dauphiny42 “the Abbess of St. Pierre de Lyon, one of the nuns, M. de Perrotin, M. de Bellegarde, the Marquis de la Tour-du-Pin, and the Chevalier de Moidieu, are arrested at Champier by the armed population, led to the Côte Saint-André, confined in the town-hall, whence they send to Grenoble for assistance,” and, to have them released, the Grenoble Committee is obliged to send commissioners. Their only refuge is in the large cities, where some semblance of a precarious order exists, and in the ranks of the City Guards, which march from Lyons, Dijon, and Grenoble, to keep the inundation down. Throughout the country scattered chateaux are swallowed up by the popular tide, and, as the feudal rights are often in plebeian hands, it insensibly rises beyond its first overflow.—There is no limit to an insurrection against property. This one extends from abbeys and chateaux to the “houses of the bourgeoisie.”43 The grudge at first was confined to the holders of charters; now it is extended to all who possess anything. Well-to-do farmers and priests abandon their parishes and fly to the towns. Travellers are put to ransom. Thieves, robbers, and returned convicts, at the head of armed bands, seize whatever they can lay their hands on. Cupidity becomes inflamed by such examples; on domains which are deserted and in a state of confusion, where there is nothing to indicate a master’s presence, all seems to lapse to the first comer. A small farmer of the neighbourhood has carried away wine and returns the following day in search of hay. All the furniture of a chateau in Dauphiny is removed, even to the hinges of the doors, by a large reinforcement of carts.—“It is the war of the poor against the rich,” says a deputy, “and, on the 3rd of August, the Committee on Reports declares to the National Assembly “that no kind of property has been spared.” In Franche-Comté, “nearly forty chateaux and seignorial mansions have been pillaged or burnt.”44 From Langres to Gray about three out of five chateaux are sacked. In Dauphiny twenty-seven are burned or destroyed; five in the small district of Viennois, and, besides these, all the monasteries—nine at least in Auvergne, seventy-two, it is said, in Mâconnais and Beaujolais, without counting those of Alsace. On the 31st of July, Lally-Tollendal, on entering the tribune, has his hands full of letters of distress, with a list of thirty-six chateaux burnt, demolished, or pillaged, in one province, and the details of still worse violence against persons:45 “in Languedoc, M. de Barras, cut to pieces in the presence of his wife who is about to be confined, and who is dead in consequence; in Normandy, a paralytic gentleman left on a burning pile and taken off from it with his hands burnt; in Franche-Comté, Madame de Bathilly compelled, with an axe over her head, to give up her title-deeds and even her estate; Madame de Listenay forced to do the same, with a pitchfork at her neck and her two daughters in a swoon at her feet; Comte de Montjustin, with his wife, having a pistol at his throat for three hours; and both dragged from their carriage to be thrown into a pond, where they are saved by a passing regiment of soldiers; Baron de Montjustin, one of the twenty-two popular noblemen, suspended for an hour in a well, listening to a discussion whether he shall be dropt down or whether he should die in some other way; the Chevalier d’Ambly, torn from his chateau and dragged naked into the village, placed on a dung-heap after having his eyebrows and all his hair pulled out, while the crowd kept on dancing around him.”
In the midst of a disintegrated society, under the semblance only of a government, it is manifest that an invasion is under way, an invasion of barbarians which will complete by terror that which it has begun by violence, and which, like the invasions of the Normans in the tenth and eleventh centuries, ends in the conquest and dispossession of an entire class. In vain the National Guard and the other troops that remain loyal succeed in stemming the first torrent; in vain does the Assembly hollow out a bed for it and strive to bank it in by fixed boundaries. The decrees of the 4th of August and the regulations which follow are but so many spiders’ webs stretched across a torrent. The peasants, moreover, putting their own interpretation on the decrees, convert the new laws into authority for continuing in their course or beginning over again. No more rents, however legitimate, however legal! “Yesterday,”46 writes a gentleman of Auvergne, “we were notified that the fruit-tithe (percières) would no longer be paid, and that the example of other provinces was only being followed which no longer, even by royal order, pay tithes.” In Franche-Comté “numerous communities are satisfied that they no longer owe anything either to the King or to their lords. . . . The villages divide amongst themselves the fields and woods belonging to the nobles.”—It must be noted that charter-holding and feudal titles are still intact in three-fourths of France, that it is the interest of the peasant to ensure their disappearance, and that he is always armed. To secure a new outbreak of jacqueries, it is only necessary that central control, already thrown into disorder, should be withdrawn. This is the work of Versailles and of Paris; and there, at Paris as well as at Versailles, some, through lack of foresight and infatuation, and others, through blindness and indecision—the latter through weakness and the former through violence—all are labouring to accomplish it.
I.Paris—Powerlessness and discords of the authorities—The people, King—II.Their distress—The dearth and the lack of work—How men of executive ability are recruited—III.The new popular leaders—Their ascendency—Their education—Their sentiments—Their situation—Their councils—Their denunciations—IV.Their interference with the Government—Their pressure on the Assembly—V.The 5th and 6th of October—VI.The Government and the nation in the hands of the revolutionary party.
The powerlessness, indeed, of the heads of the Government, and the lack of discipline among all its subordinates, are much greater in the capital than in the provinces.—Paris possesses a mayor, Bailly; but “from the first day, and in the easiest manner possible,”1 his municipal council, that is to say, “the assembly of the representatives of the commune, has accustomed itself to carry on the government alone, overlooking him entirely.”—There is a central administration—the municipal council, presided over by the mayor; but, “at this time, authority is everywhere except where the preponderating authority should be; the districts have delegated it and at the same time retained it”; each of them acts as if it were alone and supreme. There are secondary powers—the district-committees, each with its president, its clerk, its offices, and commissioners; but the mobs of the street march on without awaiting their orders; while the people, shouting under their windows, impose their will on them; in short, says Bailly again, “everybody knew how to command, but nobody knew how to obey.”
“Imagine,” writes Loustalot himself, “a man whose feet, hands, and limbs possessed intelligence and a will, whose one leg would wish to walk when the other one wanted to rest, whose throat would close when the stomach demanded food, whose mouth would sing when the eyelids were weighed down with sleep; and you will have a striking picture of the condition of things in the capital.”
There are “sixty Republics” in Paris; each district is an independent, isolated power, which receives no order without criticizing it, always in disagreement and often in conflict with the central authority or with the other districts. It receives denunciations, orders domiciliary visits, sends deputations to the National Assembly, passes resolutions, posts its bills, not only in its own quarter but throughout the city, and sometimes even extends its jurisdiction outside of Paris. Everything comes within its province, and particularly that which ought not to do so.—On the 18th of July, the district of Petits-Augustins2 “decrees in its own name the establishment of justices of the peace,” under the title of tribunes, and proceeds at once to elect its own, nominating the actor Molé. On the 30th, that of the Oratoire annuls the amnesty which the representatives of the commune in the Hôtel-de-Ville had granted, and orders two of its members to go to a distance of thirty leagues to arrest M. de Bezenval. On the 19th of August, that of Nazareth issues commissions to seize and bring to Paris the arms deposited in strong places. From the beginning each assembly sent to the Arsenal in its own name, and “obtained as many cartridges and as much powder as it desired.” Others claim the right of keeping a watchful eye over the Hôtel-de-Ville and of reprimanding the National Assembly. The Oratoire decides that the representatives of the commune shall be invited to deliberate in public. Saint-Nicholas des Champs deliberates on the veto and begs the Assembly to suspend its vote.—It is a strange spectacle, that of these various authorities each contradicting and destroying the other. Today the Hôtel-de-Ville appropriates five loads of cloth which have been dispatched by the Government, and the district of Saint-Gervais opposes the decision of the Hôtel-de-Ville. Tomorrow Versailles intercepts grain destined for Paris, while Paris threatens, if it is not restored, to march on Versailles. I omit the incidents that are ridiculous:3 anarchy in its essence is both tragic and grotesque, and, in this universal breaking up of things, the capital, like the kingdom, resembles a bear-garden when it does not resemble a Babel.
But behind all these discordant authorities the real sovereign, who is the mob, is very soon apparent. On the 15th of July it undertakes the demolition of the Bastille of its own accord, and this popular act is sanctioned; for it is necessary that appearances should be kept up; even to give orders after the blow is dealt, and to follow when it is impossible to lead.4 A short time after this the collection of the octroi at the barriers is ordered to be resumed; forty armed individuals, however, present themselves in their district and say, that if guards are placed at the octroi stations, “they will resist force with force, and even make use of their cannon.” On the false rumour that arms are concealed in the Abbey of Montmartre, the abbess, Madame de Montmorency, is accused of treachery, and twenty thousand persons invade the monastery.—The commander of the National Guard and the mayor are constantly expecting a riot; they hardly dare absent themselves a day to attend the King’s fête at Versailles. As soon as the multitude can assemble in the streets, an explosion is imminent. “On rainy days,” says Bailly, “I was quite at my ease.”—It is under this constant pressure that the Government is carried on; and the elect of the people, the most esteemed magistrates, those who are in best repute, are at the mercy of the throng who clamour at their doors. In the district of St. Roch,5 after many useless refusals, the General Assembly, notwithstanding all the reproaches of its conscience and the resistance of its reason, is obliged to open letters addressed to Monsieur, to the Duke of Orleans, and to the Ministers of War, of Foreign Affairs, and of the Marine. In the committee on subsistences, M. Serreau, who is indispensable and who is confirmed by a public proclamation, is denounced, threatened, and constrained to leave Paris. M. de la Salle, one of the strongest patriots among the nobles, is on the point of being murdered for having signed an order for the transport of gunpowder;6 the multitude, in pursuit of him, attach a rope to the nearest street-lamp, ransack the Hôtel-de-Ville, force every door, mount into the belfry, and seek for the traitor even under the carpet of the bureau and between the legs of the electors, and are only stayed in their course by the arrival of the National Guard.
The people not only sentence but they execute, and, as is always the case, blindly. At Saint-Denis, Chatel, the mayor’s lieutenant, whose duty it is to distribute flour, had reduced the price of bread at his own expense: on the 3rd of August his house is forced open at two o’clock in the morning, and he takes refuge in a steeple; the mob follow him, cut his throat and drag his head along the streets.—Not only do the people execute, but they pardon—and with equal discernment. On the 11th of August, at Versailles, as a parricide is about to be broken on the wheel, the crowd demand his release, fly at the executioner, and set the man free.7 Veritably this is sovereign power like that of the oriental sovereign who arbitrarily awards life or death! A woman who protests against this scandalous pardon is seized and comes near being hung; for the new monarch considers as a crime whatever is offensive to his new majesty. Again, he receives public and humble homage. The Prime Minister, on imploring the pardon of M. de Bezenval at the Hôtel-de-Ville, in the presence of the electors and of the public, has said in set terms: “It is before the most unknown, the obscurest citizen of Paris that I prostrate myself, at whose feet I kneel.” A few days before this, at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and at Poissy, the deputies of the National Assembly not only kneel down in words, but actually, and for a long time, on the pavement in the street, and stretch forth their hands, weeping, to save two lives of which only one is granted to them.—Behold the monarch by these brilliant signs! Already do the young, who are eager imitators of all actions that are in fashion, ape them in miniature; during the month which follows the murder of Berthier and Foulon, Bailly is informed that the gamins in the streets are parading about with the heads of two cats stuck on the ends of two poles.8
A pitiable monarch, whose recognised sovereignty leaves him more miserable than he was before! Bread is always scarce, and before the baker’s doors the row of waiting people does not diminish. In vain Bailly passes his nights with the committee on supplies; they are always in a state of terrible anxiety. Every morning for two months there is only one or two days’ supply of flour, and often, in the evening, there is not enough for the following morning.9 The life of the capital depends on a convoy which is ten, fifteen, twenty leagues off, and which may never arrive: one convoy of twenty carts is pillaged on the 18th of July, on the Rouen road; another, on the 4th of August, in the vicinity of Louviers. Were it not for Salis’ Swiss regiment, which, from the 14th of July to the end of September, marches day and night as an escort, not a boat-load of grain would reach Paris from Rouen.10 —The commissaries charged with making purchases or with supervising the expeditions are in danger of their lives. Those who are sent to Provins are seized, and a column of four hundred men with cannon has to be dispatched to deliver them. The one who is sent to Rouen learns that he will be hung if he dares to enter the place. At Mantes a mob surrounds his cabriolet, the people regarding whoever comes there for the purpose of carrying away grain as a public pest; he escapes with difficulty out of a back door and returns on foot to Paris.—From the very beginning, according to a universal rule, the fear of a short supply helps to augment the famine. Every one lays in a stock for several days; on one occasion sixteen loaves of four pounds each are found in an old woman’s garret. The bakings, consequently, which are estimated according to the quantity needed for a single day, become inadequate, and the last of those who wait at the bakers’ shops for bread return home empty-handed.—On the other hand the appropriations made by the city and the State to diminish the price of bread simply serve to lengthen the rows of those who wait for it; the countrymen flock in thither, and return home loaded to their villages. At Saint-Denis, bread having been reduced to two sous the pound, none is left for the inhabitants. To this constant anxiety add that of a slack season. Not only is there no certainty of there being bread at the bakers’ during the coming week, but many know that they will not have money in the coming week with which to buy bread. Now that security has disappeared and the rights of property are shaken, work is wanting. The rich, deprived of their feudal dues, and, in addition thereto of their rents, have reduced their expenditure; many of them, threatened by the committee of investigation, exposed to domiciliary visits, and liable to be informed against by their servants, have emigrated. In the month of September M. Necker laments the delivery of six thousand passports in fifteen days to the wealthiest inhabitants. In the month of October ladies of high rank, refugees in Rome, send word that their domestics should be discharged and their daughters placed in convents. Before the end of 1789 there are so many fugitives in Switzerland that a house, it is said, brings in more rent than it is worth as capital. With this first emigration, which is that of the chief spendthrifts—Count d’Artois, Prince de Conté, Duc de Bourbon, and so many others—the opulent foreigners have left, and, at the head of them, the Duchesse de l’Infantado, who spent 800,000 livres a year. There are only three Englishmen in Paris.
It was a city of luxury, the European hot-house of costly and refined pleasures: the glass once broken, the amateurs leave and the delicate plants perish; there is no employment now for the innumerable hands which cultivated them. Fortunate are they who at the relief works obtain a miserable sum by handling a pick-axe! “I saw,” says Bailly, “mercers, jewellers, and merchants implore the favour of being employed at twenty sous the day.” Enumerate, if you can, in one or two recognised callings, the hands which are doing nothing:11 1,200 hair-dressers keep about 6,000 journeymen; 2,000 others follow the same calling in private houses; 6,000 lackeys do but little else than this work. The body of tailors is composed of 2,800 masters, who have under them 5,000 workmen. “Add to these the number privately employed—the refugees in privileged places like the abbeys of Saint-Germain and Saint-Marcel, the vast enclosure of the Temple, that of Saint-John the Lateran, and the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, and you will find at least 12,000 persons cutting, fitting, and sewing.” How many in these two groups are now idle! How many others are walking the streets, such as upholsterers, lace-makers, embroiderers, fan-makers, gilders, carriage-makers, binders, engravers, and all the other producers of Parisian nick-nacks! For those who are still at work how many days are lost at the doors of bakers’ shops and in patrolling as National Guards! Gatherings are formed in spite of the prohibitions of the Hôtel-de-Ville,12 and the crowd openly discuss their miserable condition: 3,000 journeymen-tailors near the Colonnade, as many journeymen-shoemakers in the Place Louis XV., the journeymen-hair-dressers in the Champs-Elysées, 4,000 domestics without places on the approaches to the Louvre—and their propositions are on a level with their intelligence. Servants demand the expulsion from Paris of the Savoyards who enter into competition with them. Journeymen-tailors demand that a day’s wages be fixed at forty sous, and that the old-clothes dealers shall not be allowed to make new ones. The journeymen-shoemakers declare that those who make shoes below the fixed price shall be driven out of the kingdom. Each of these irritated and agitated crowds contains the germ of an outbreak—and, in truth, these germs are found on every pavement in Paris: at the relief works, which at Montmartre collect 17,000 paupers; in the Market, where the bakers want to “lantern” the flour commissioners, and at the doors of the bakers, of whom two, on the 14th of September and on the 5th of October, are conducted to the street-lamp and barely escape with their lives.—In this suffering, mendicant crowd, enterprising men become more numerous every day: they consist of deserters, and from every regiment; they reach Paris in bands, often 250 in one day. There, “caressed and fed to the top of their bent,”13 having received from the National Assembly 50 livres each, maintained by the King in the enjoyment of their advance-money, regaled by the districts, of which one alone incurs a debt of 14,000 livres for wine and sausages furnished to them, “they accustom themselves to greater expense,” to greater license, and are followed by their companions. “During the night of the 31st of July the French Guards on duty at Versailles abandon the custody of the King and betake themselves to Paris, without their officers, but with their arms and baggage,” that “they may take part in the cheer which the city of Paris extends to their regiment.” At the beginning of September, 16,000 deserters of this stamp are counted.14 Now, among those who commit murder these are in the first rank; and this is not surprising when we take the least account of their antecedents, education, and habits. It was a soldier of the “Royal Croat” who tore out the heart of Berthier. They were three soldiers of the regiment of Provence who forced the house of Chatel at Saint-Denis, and dragged his head through the streets. It is Swiss soldiers who, at Passy, knock down the commissioners of police with their guns. Their headquarters are at the Palais-Royal, amongst women whose instruments they are, and amongst agitators from whom they receive the word of command. Henceforth, all depends on this word, and we have only to contemplate the new popular leaders to know what it will be.
Administrators and members of district assemblies, agitators of barracks, coffee-houses, clubs, and public thoroughfares, writers of pamphlets, penny-a-liners are multiplying as fast as buzzing insects are hatched on a sultry night. After the 14th of July thousands of places have presented themselves to unrestrained ambitions; “attorneys, notaries’ clerks, artists, merchants, shopmen, comedians, and especially advocates;15 each wants to be either an officer, a director, a councillor, or a minister of the new reign; while the journals, which are established by dozens,16 form a permanent tribune, where orators come to court the people to their personal advantage.” Philosophy, fallen into such hands, seems to parody itself, and nothing equals its emptiness, unless it be its mischievousness and success. Lawyers, in the sixty assembly districts, roll out the high-sounding dogmas of the revolutionary catechism. This or that one, passing from the question of a party wall to the constitution of empires, becomes the improvised legislator, so much the more inexhaustible and the more applauded as his flow of words, showered upon his hearers, proves to them that every capacity and every right are naturally and legitimately theirs. “When that man opened his mouth,” says a cool-blooded witness, “we were sure of being inundated with quotations and maxims, often apropos of lanterns, or of the stall of a herb-dealer. His stentorian voice made the vaults ring; and after he had spoken for two hours, and his breath was completely exhausted, the admiring and enthusiastic shouts which greeted him amounted almost to phrensy. Thus the orator fancied himself a Mirabeau, while the spectators imagined themselves the Constituent Assembly, deciding the fate of France.” The journals and pamphlets are written in the same style. Every brain is filled with the fumes of conceit and of big words; the leader of the crowd is he who raves the most, and he guides the wild enthusiasm which he increases.
Let us consider the most popular of these chiefs; they are the green or the dry fruit of literature, and of the bar. The newspaper is the shop which every morning offers them for sale, and if they suit the overexcited public it is simply owing to their acid or bitter flavour. Their empty, unpractised minds are wholly void of political conceptions; they have no capacity or practical experience. Desmoulins is twenty-nine years of age, Loustalot twenty-seven, and their intellectual ballast consists of college reminiscences, souvenirs of the law schools, and the common-places picked up in the houses of Raynal and his associates. As to Brissot and Marat, who are ostentatious humanitarians, their knowledge of France and of foreign countries consists in what they have seen through the dormer windows of their garrets, and through utopian spectacles. To minds of this class, empty or led astray, the Contrat-Social could not fail to be a gospel; for it reduces political science to a strict application of an elementary axiom which relieves them of all study, and hands society over to the caprice of the people, or, in other words, delivers it into their own hands.—Hence they demolish all that remains of social institutions, and push on equalisation until everything is brought down to a dead level. “With my principles,” writes Desmoulins,17 “is associated the satisfaction of putting myself where I belong, of showing my strength to those who have despised me, of lowering to my level all whom fortune has placed above me: my motto is that of all honest people—No superiors!” Thus, under the great name of Liberty, each vain spirit seeks its revenge and finds its nourishment. What is sweeter and more natural than to justify passion by theory, to be factious in the belief that this is patriotism, and to cloak the interests of ambition with the interests of humanity?
Let us picture to ourselves these directors of public opinion as we find them three months before this: Desmoulins, a briefless barrister, living in furnished lodgings with petty debts, and on a few louis extracted from his relations. Loustalot, still more unknown, was admitted the previous year to the Parliament of Bordeaux, and has landed at Paris in search of a career. Danton, another second-rate lawyer, coming out of a hovel in Champagne, borrowed the money to pay his expenses, while his stinted household is kept up only by means of a louis which is given to him weekly by his father-in-law, who is a coffee-house keeper. Brissot, a strolling Bohemian, formerly employé of literary pirates, has roamed over the world for fifteen years, without bringing back with him either from England or America anything but a coat out at elbows and false ideas; and, finally, Marat—a writer that has been hissed, an abortive scholar and philosopher, a misrepresenter of his own experiences, caught by the natural philosopher Charles in the act of committing a scientific fraud, and fallen from the top of his inordinate ambition to the subordinate post of doctor in the stables of the Comte d’Artois. At the present time, Danton, President of the Cordeliers, can arrest any one he pleases in his district, and his violent gestures and thundering voice secure to him, till something better turns up, the government of his section of the city. A word of Marat’s has just caused Major Belzunce at Caen to be assassinated. Desmoulins announces, with a smile of triumph, that “a large section of the capital regards him as one among the principal authors of the Revolution, and that many even go so far as to say that he is the author of it.” Is it to be supposed that, borne so high by such a sudden jerk of fortune, they wish to put on the drag and again descend? and is it not clear that they will aid with all their might the revolt which hoists them towards the loftiest summits? Moreover the brain reels at a height like this; suddenly launched in the air and feeling as if everything was tottering around them, they utter exclamations of indignation and terror, they see plots on all sides, imagine invisible cords pulling in an opposite direction, and they call upon the people to cut them. With the full weight of their inexperience, incapacity, and improvidence, of their fears, credulity, and dogmatic obstinacy, they urge on popular attacks, and their newspaper articles or discourses are all summed up in the following phrases: “Fellow-citizens, you, the people of the lower class, you who listen to me, you have enemies in the Court and the aristocracy. The Hôtel-de-Ville and the National Assembly are your servants. Seize your enemies with a strong hand, and hang them, and let your servants know that they must quicken their steps!”
Desmoulins styles himself “Solicitor-General of the Lantern,”18 and if he at all regrets the murders of Foulon and Berthier, it is because this too expeditious judgment has allowed the proofs of conspiracy to perish, thereby saving a number of traitors: he himself mentions twenty of them haphazard, and little does he care whether he makes mistakes. “We are in the dark, and it is well that faithful dogs should bark, even at all who pass by, so that there may be no fear of robbers.”
From this time forth Marat19 denounces the King, the ministers, the administration, the bench, the bar, the financial system, and the academies, all as “suspicious”; at all events the people only suffer on their account. “The Government is monopolizing grain, so as to force us to buy bread which poisons us for its weight in gold.” The Government, again, through a new conspiracy is about to blockade Paris, so as to starve it with greater ease. Utterances of this kind, at such a time, are firebrands thrown upon fear and hunger to kindle the flames of rage and cruelty. To this frightened and fasting crowd the agitators and newspaper writers continue to repeat that it must act, and act alongside of the authorities, and, if need be, against them. In other words, We will do as we please; we are the sole legitimate masters; “in a well-constituted government, the people as a body are the real sovereign: our delegates are appointed only to execute our orders; what right has the clay to rebel against the potter?”
On the strength of such principles, the tumultuous club which occupies the Palais-Royal substitutes itself for the Assembly at Versailles. Has it not all the titles for this office? The Palais-Royal “saved the nation” on the 12th and 13th of July. The Palais-Royal, “through its spokesmen and pamphlets,” has made everybody and even the soldiers “philosophers.” It is the house of patriotism, “the rendezvous of the select among the patriotic,” whether provincials or Parisians, of all who possess the right of suffrage, and who cannot or will not exercise it in their own district. “It saves time to come to the Palais-Royal. There is no need there of appealing to the President for the right to speak, or to wait one’s time for a couple of hours. The orator proposes his motion, and, if it finds supporters, mounts a chair. If he is applauded, it is put into proper shape. If he is hissed, he goes away. This was the way of the Romans.” Behold the veritable National Assembly! It is superior to the other semifeudal affair, encumbered with “six hundred deputies of the clergy and nobility,” who are so many intruders and who “should be sent out into the galleries.”—Hence the pure Assembly rules the impure Assembly, and “the Café Foy lays claim to the government of France.”
On the 13th of July, the harlequin who led the insurrection at Rouen having been arrested, “it is openly proposed at the Palais-Royal to go in a body and demand his release.”20 On the 1st of August, Thouret, whom the moderate party of the Assembly have just made President, is obliged to resign; the Palais-Royal threatens to send a band and murder him along with those who voted for him, and lists of proscriptions, in which several of the deputies are inscribed, begin to be circulated.—From this time forth, on all great questions—the abolition of the feudal system, the suppression of tithes, a declaration of the rights of man, the dispute about the Chambers, the King’s power of veto21 —the pressure from without inclines the balance: in this way the Declaration of Rights, which is rejected in secret session by twenty-eight bureaus out of thirty, is forced through by the tribunes in a public sitting and passed by a majority.—Just as before the 14th of July, and to a still greater extent, two kinds of compulsion influence the votes, and it is always the ruling faction which employs both its hands to throttle its opponents. On the one hand this faction takes post on the galleries in knots composed nearly always of the same persons, “five or six hundred permanent actors,” who yell according to understood signals and at the word of command.22 Many of these are French Guards, in citizen’s dress, and who relieve each other: previously they have asked of their favourite deputy “at what hour they must come, whether all goes on well, and whether he is satisfied with those fools of parsons (calotins) and the aristocrats.” Others consist of low women under the command of Théroigne de Méricourt, a virago courtesan, who assigns them their positions and gives them the signal for hooting or for applause. Publicly and in full session, on the occasion of the debate on the veto, “the deputies are applauded or insulted by the galleries according as they utter the word ‘suspensive,’ or the word ‘indefinite.’ ” “Threats,” (says one of them) “circulated; I heard them on all sides around me.” These threats are repeated on going out: “Valets dismissed by their masters, deserters, and women in rags,” threaten the “lantern” to the refractory, “and thrust their fists in their faces. In the hall itself, and much more accurately than before the 14th of July, their names are taken down, and the lists, handed over to the populace,” travel to the Palais-Royal, from where they are dispatched in correspondence and in newspapers to the provinces.23 —Thus we see the second means of compulsion; each deputy is answerable for his vote, at Paris, with his own life, and, in the province, with those of his family. Members of the former Third-Estate avow that they abandon the idea of two Chambers, because “they are not disposed to get their wives’ and children’s throats cut.” On the 30th of August, Saint-Hurugue, the most noisy of the Palais-Royal barkers, marches off to Versailles, at the head of 1,500 men, to complete the conversion of the Assembly. This garden club indeed, from the heights of its great learning, integrity, and immaculate reputation, decides that “the ignorant, corrupt, and doubtful deputies must be got rid of.” That they are such cannot be questioned, because they defend the royal sanction; there are over 600 and more, 120 being deputies of the commons, who must be expelled to begin with, and then must be brought to judgment.24 In the meantime they are informed, as well as the Bishop of Langres, President of the National Assembly, that “15,000 men are ready to light up their chateaux and in particular yours, sir.” To avoid all mistake, the secretaries of the Assembly are informed in writing that “2,000 letters” will be sent into the provinces to denounce to the people the conduct of the malignant deputies: “Your houses are held as a surety for your opinions: keep this in mind, and save yourselves!” At last, on the morning of the 1st of August, five deputations from the Palais-Royal, one of them led by Loustalot, march in turn to the Hôtel-de-Ville, insisting that the drums should be beaten and the citizens be called together for the purpose of changing the deputies, or their instructions, and of ordering the National Assembly to suspend its discussion on the veto until the districts and provinces could give expression to their will: the people, in effect, alone being sovereign, and alone competent, always has the right to dismiss or instruct anew its servants, the deputies. On the following day, August 2nd, to make matters plainer, new delegates from the same Palais-Royal suit gestures to words; they place two fingers on their throats, on being introduced before the representatives of the commune, as a hint that, if the latter do not obey, they will be hung.
After this it is vain for the National Assembly to make any show of indignation, to declare that it despises threats, and to protest its independence; the impression is already produced. “More than 300 members of the communes,” says Mounier, “had decided to support the absolute veto.” At the end of ten days most of these had gone over, several of them through attachment to the King, because they were afraid of “a general uprising,” and “were not willing to jeopardise the lives of the royal family.” But concessions like these only provoke fresh extortions. The politicians of the street now know by experience the effect of brutal violence on legal authority. Emboldened by success and by impunity, they reckon up their strength and the weakness of the latter. One blow more, and they are undisputed masters. Besides, the issue is already apparent to clear-sighted men. When the agitators of the public thoroughfares, and the porters at the street-corners, convinced of their superior wisdom, impose decrees by the strength of their lungs, of their fists, and of their pikes, at that moment experience, knowledge, good sense, cool-blood, genius, and judgment, disappear from human affairs, and things revert back to chaos. Mirabeau, in favour of the veto for life, saw the crowd imploring him with tears in their eyes to change his opinion: “Monsieur le Comte, if the King obtains this veto, what will be the use of a National Assembly? We shall all be slaves!”25 Outbursts of this description are not to be resisted, and all is lost. Already, near the end of September, the remark applies which Mirabeau makes to the Comte de la Marck: “Yes, all is lost; the King and Queen will be swept away, and you will see the populace trampling on their lifeless bodies.” Eight days after this, on the 5th and 6th of October, it breaks out against both King and Queen, against the National Assembly and the Government, against all government present and to come; the violent party which rules in Paris obtains possession of the chiefs of France to hold them under strict surveillance, and to justify its intermittent outrages by one permanent outrage.
Two distinct currents again combine in one torrent to hurry the crowd onward to a common end. On the one hand are the cravings of the stomach, and women excited by the famine: “Now that bread cannot be had in Paris, let us go to Versailles and demand it there; once we have the King, Queen, and Dauphin in the midst of us, they will be obliged to feed us”; we will bring back “the Baker, the Bakeress, and the Baker’s boy.” On the other hand, there is fanaticism, and men who are pushed on by the lust of dominion. “Now that our chiefs yonder disobey us, let us go and make them obey us forthwith; the King is quibbling over the Constitution and the Rights of Man—let him give them his sanction; his guards refuse to wear our cockade—let them accept it; they want to carry him off to Metz—let him come to Paris; here, under our eyes and in our hands, he, and the lame Assembly too, will march straight on, and quickly, whether they like it or not, and always on the right road.”—Under this confluence of ideas the expedition is arranged.26 Ten days before this, it is publicly alluded to at Versailles. On the 4th of October, at Paris, a woman proposes it at the Palais-Royal; Danton roars at the Cordeliers; Marat, “alone, makes as much noise as the four trumpets on the Day of Judgment.” Loustalot writes that “a second revolutionary paroxysm is necessary.” “The day passes,” says Desmoulins, “in holding councils at the Palais-Royal, and in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, on the ends of the bridges, and on the quays . . . in pulling off the cockades of but one colour. . . . These are torn off and trampled under foot with threats of the lantern, in case of fresh offence; a soldier who is trying to refasten his, changes his mind on seeing a hundred sticks raised against him.”27 These are the premonitory symptoms of a crisis; a huge ulcer has formed in this feverish, suffering body, and it is about to break.
But, as is usually the case, it is a purulent concentration of the most poisonous passions and the foulest motives. The vilest of men and women were engaged in it. Money was freely distributed. Was it done by intriguing subalterns who, playing upon the aspirations of the Duke of Orleans, extracted millions from him under the pretext of making him lieutenant-general of the kingdom? Or is it due to the fanatics who, from the end of April, clubbed together to debauch the soldiery, and stir up a body of ruffians for the purpose of levelling and destroying everything around them?28 There are always Machiavellis of the highways and of houses of ill-fame ready to excite the foul and the vile of both sexes. On the first day that the Flemish regiment goes into garrison at Versailles an attempt is made to corrupt it with money and women. Sixty abandoned women are sent from Paris for this purpose, while the French Guards come and treat their new comrades. The latter have been regaled at the Palais-Royal, while three of them, at Versailles, exclaim, showing some crown pieces of six livres, “What a pleasure it is to go to Paris! one always comes back with money!” In this way, resistance is overcome beforehand. As to the attack, women are to be the advanced guard, because the soldiers will scruple to fire at them; their ranks, however, will be reinforced by a number of men disguised as women. On looking closely at them they are easily recognised, notwithstanding their rouge, by their badly-shaven beards, and by their voices and gait.29 No difficulty has been found in obtaining men and women among the prostitutes of the Palais-Royal and the military deserters who serve them as bullies. It is probable that the former lent their lovers the cast-off dresses they had to spare. At night all will meet again at the common rendezvous, on the benches of the National Assembly, where they are quite as much at home as in their own houses.30 —In any event, the first band which marches out is of this stamp, displaying the finery and the gaiety of the profession; “most of them young, dressed in white, with powdered hair and a sprightly air”; many of them “laughing, singing, and drinking,” as they would do at setting out for a picnic in the country. Three or four of them are known by name—one brandishing a sword, and another, the notorious Théroigne. Madeleine Chabry Louison, who is selected to address the King, is a pretty grisette who sells flowers, and something else doubtless, at the Palais-Royal. Some appear to belong to the first rank in their calling, and to have tact and the manners of society—suppose, for instance, that Champfort and Laclos sent their mistresses. To these must be added washerwomen, beggars, barefooted women, and fishwomen, enlisted for several days before and paid accordingly. This is the first nucleus, and it keeps on growing; for, by compulsion or consent, the troop incorporates into it, as it passes along, all the women it encounters—seamstresses, portresses, housekeepers, and even respectable females, whose dwellings are entered with threats of cutting off their hair if they do not fall in. To these must be added vagrants, street-rovers, ruffians, and robbers—the lees of Paris, which accumulate and come to the surface every time agitation occurs: they are to be found already at the first hour, behind the troop of women at the Hôtel-de-Ville. Others are to follow during the evening and in the night. Others are waiting at Versailles. Many, both at Paris and Versailles, are under pay: one, in a dirty whitish vest, chinks gold and silver coin in his hand.—Such is the foul scum which, both in front and in the rear, rolls along with the popular tide; whatever is done to stem the torrent, it widens out and will leave its mark at every stage of its overflow.
The first troop, consisting of four or five hundred women, begin operations by forcing the guard of the Hôtel-de-Ville, which is unwilling to make use of its bayonets. They spread through the rooms and try to burn all the written documents they can find, declaring that there has been nothing but scribbling since the Revolution began.31 A crowd of men follow after them, bursting open doors, and pillaging the magazine of arms. Two hundred thousand francs in Treasury notes are stolen or disappear; several of the ruffians set fire to the building, while others hang an abbé. The abbé is cut down, and the fire extinguished only just in time: such are the interludes of the popular drama. In the meantime, the crowd of women increases on the Place de Grève, always with the same unceasing cry, “Bread!” and “To Versailles!” One of the conquerors of the Bastille, the usher Maillard, offers himself as a leader. He is accepted, and taps his drum; on leaving Paris, he has seven or eight thousand women with him, and, in addition, some hundreds of men; by dint of remonstrances, he succeeds in maintaining some kind of order amongst this rabble as far as Versailles.—But it is a rabble notwithstanding, and consequently so much brute force, at once anarchical and imperious. On the one hand, each, and the worst among them, does what he pleases—which will be quite evident this very evening. On the other hand, its ponderous mass crushes all authority and overrides all rules and regulations—which is at once apparent on reaching Versailles. Admitted into the Assembly, at first in small numbers, the women crowd against the door, push in with a rush, fill the galleries, then the hall, the men along with them, armed with clubs, halberds, and pikes, all pell-mell, side by side with the deputies, taking possession of their benches, voting along with them, and gathering about the President, who, surrounded, threatened, and insulted, finally abandons the position, while his chair is taken by a woman.32 A fishwoman commands in a gallery, and about a hundred women around her shout or keep silence at her bidding, while she interrupts and abuses the deputies: “Who is that spouter? Silence that babbler; he does not know what he is talking about. The question is how to get bread. Let papa Mirabeau speak—we want to hear him.” A decree on subsistences having been passed, the leaders demand something in addition; they must be allowed to enter all places where they suspect any monopolizing to be going on, and the price of “bread must be fixed at six sous the four pounds, and meat at six sous per pound.” “You must not think that we are children to be played with. We are ready to strike. Do as you are bidden.”—All their political injunctions emanate from this central idea. “Send back the Flemish regiment—it is a thousand men more to feed, and they take bread out of our mouths.” “Punish the aristocrats, who hinder the bakers from baking.” “Down with the skull-cap—the priests are the cause of our trouble!” “Monsieur Mounier, why did you advocate that villainous veto? Beware of the lantern!” Under this pressure, a deputation of the Assembly, with the President at its head, sets out on foot, in the mud, through the rain, and watched by a howling escort of women and men armed with pikes: after five hours of waiting and entreaty, it wrings from the King, besides the decree on subsistences, about which there was no difficulty, the acceptance, pure and simple, of the Declaration of Rights, and his sanction to the constitutional articles.—Such is the independence of the King and the Assembly.33 Thus are the new principles of justice established, the grand outlines of the Constitution, the abstract axioms of political truth under the dictation of a crowd which extorts not only blindly, but which is half-conscious of its blindness. “Monsieur le Président,” some among the women say to Mounier, who returns with the Royal sanction, “will it be of any real use to us? will it give poor folks bread in Paris?”
Meanwhile, the scum has been bubbling up around the chateau; and the abandoned women subsidised in Paris are pursuing their calling.34 They slip through into the lines of the regiment drawn up on the square, in spite of the sentinels. Théroigne, in an Amazonian red vest, distributes money among them. “Side with us,” some say to the men; “we shall soon beat the King’s Guards, strip off their fine coats and sell them.” Others lie sprawling on the ground, alluring the soldiers, and make such offers as to lead one of them to exclaim, “We are going to have a jolly time of it!” Before the day is over, the regiment is seduced; the women have, according to their own idea, acted for a good motive. When a political idea finds its way into such heads, instead of ennobling them, it becomes degraded there; its only effect is to let loose vices which a remnant of modesty still keeps in subjection, and full play is given to luxurious or ferocious instincts under cover of the public good.—The passions, moreover, become intensified through their mutual interaction; crowds, clamour, disorder, longings, and fasting, end in a state of phrensy, from which nothing can issue but dizzy madness and rage.—This phrensy began to show itself on the way. Already, on setting out, a woman had exclaimed, “We shall bring back the Queen’s head on the end of a pike!”35 On reaching the Sèvres bridge others added, “Let us cut her throat, and make cockades of her entrails!” Rain is falling; they are cold, tired, and hungry, and get nothing to eat but a bit of bread, distributed at a late hour, and with difficulty, on the Place d’Armes. One of the bands cuts up a slaughtered horse, roasts it, and consumes it half raw, after the manner of savages. It is not surprising that, under the names of patriotism and “justice,” savage ideas spring up in their minds against “members of the National Assembly who are not with the principles of the people,” against “the Bishop of Langres, Mounier, and the rest.” One man in a ragged old red coat declares that “he must have the head of the Abbé Maury to play nine-pins with.” But it is especially against the Queen, who is a woman, and in sight, that the feminine imagination is the most aroused. “She alone is the cause of the evils we endure . . . she must be killed, and quartered.”—Night advances; there are acts of violence, and violence engenders violence. “How glad I should be,” says one man, “if I could only lay my hand on that she-devil, and strike off her head on the first curbstone!” Towards morning, some cry out, “Where is that cursed cat? We must eat her heart out. . . . We’ll take off her head, cut her heart out, and fry her liver!”—With the first murders the appetite for blood has been awakened; the women from Paris say that “they have brought tubs to carry away the stumps of the Royal Guards,” and at these words others clap their hands. Some of the riff-raff of the crowd examine the rope of the lantern in the court of the National Assembly, and judging it not to be sufficiently strong, are desirous of supplying its place with another “to hang the Archbishop of Paris, Maury, and d’Espréménil.”—This murderous, carnivorous rage penetrates even among those whose duty it is to maintain order, one of the National Guard being heard to say that “the body-guards must be killed to the last man, and their hearts torn out for a breakfast.”
Finally, towards midnight, the National Guard of Paris arrives; but it only adds one insurrection to another, for it has likewise mutinied against its chiefs.36 “If M. de Lafayette is not disposed to accompany us,” says one of the grenadiers, “we will take an old grenadier for our commander.” Having come to this decision, they go after the general at the Hôtel-de-Ville, while delegates of six of the companies make known their orders to him. “General, we do not believe that you are a traitor, but we think that the Government is betraying us. . . . The committee on subsistences is deceiving us, and must be removed. We want to go to Versailles to exterminate the body-guard and the Flemish regiment who have trampled on the national cockade. If the King of France is too feeble to wear his crown, let him take it off; we will crown his son and things will go better.” In vain Lafayette refuses, and harangues them on the Place de Grève; in vain he resists for hours, now addressing them and now imposing silence. Armed bands, coming from the Faubourgs Saint-Antoine and Saint-Marceau, swell the crowd; they take aim at him; others prepare the lantern. He then dismounts and endeavours to return to the Hôtel-de-Ville, but his grenadiers bar the way: “Morbleu, General, you will stay with us; you will not abandon us!” Being their chief it is pretty plain that he must follow them; which is also the sentiment of the representatives of the commune at the Hôtel-de-Ville, who send him their authorisation, and even the order to march, “seeing that it is impossible for him to refuse.”
Fifteen thousand men thus reach Versailles, and in front of and along with them thousands of ruffians, protected by the darkness. On this side the National Guard of Versailles, posted around the chateau, together with the people of Versailles, who bar the way against vehicles, have closed up every outlet.37 The King is prisoner in his own palace, he and his, with his ministers and his court, and with no defence. For, with his usual optimism, he has confided the outer posts of the chateau to Lafayette’s soldiers, and, through a humanitarian obstinacy which he is to maintain up to the last,38 he has forbidden his own guards to fire on the crowd, so that they are only there for show. With common right in his favour, the law, and the oath which Lafayette had just obliged his troops to renew, what could he have to fear? What could be more effective with the people than trust in them and prudence? And by playing the sheep one is sure of taming brutes!
From five o’clock in the morning they prowl around the palace-railings. Lafayette, exhausted with fatigue, has taken an hour’s repose,39 which hour suffices for them.40 A populace armed with pikes and clubs, men and women, surrounds a squad of eighty-eight National Guards, forces them to fire on the King’s Guards, bursts open a door, seizes two of the guards, and chops their heads off. The executioner, who is a studio model, with a heavy beard, stretches out his blood-stained hands and glories in the act; and so great is the effect on the National Guard that they move off, through sensibility, in order not to witness such sights: such is the resistance! In the meantime the crowd invade the staircases, beat down and trample on the guards they encounter, and burst open the doors with imprecations against the Queen. The Queen runs off, just in time, in her underclothes; she takes refuge with the King and the rest of the royal family, who have in vain barricaded themselves in the Oeil-de-Boeuf, a door of which is broken in: here they stand, awaiting death, when Lafayette arrives with his grenadiers and saves all that can be saved—their lives, and nothing more. For, from the crowd huddled in the marble court the shout rises, “To Paris with the King!” a command to which the King submits.
Now that the great hostage is in their hands, will they deign to accept the second one? This is doubtful. On the Queen approaching the balcony with her son and daughter, a howl arises of “No children!” She is the one they want to cover with their guns—and this she comprehends. At this moment M. de Lafayette, throwing the shield of his popularity over her, appears on the balcony at her side and respectfully kisses her hand. The reaction is instantaneous in this overexcited crowd. Both man and woman, in such a state of nervous tension, readily jump from one extreme to another, rage bordering on tears. A portress, who is a companion of Maillard’s,41 imagines that she hears Lafayette promise in the Queen’s name “to love her people and be as much attached to them as Jesus Christ to his Church.” People sob and embrace each other; the grenadiers shift their caps to the heads of the body-guard. The good time has come: “the people have got back their King.” Nothing is to be done now but to rejoice; and the cortège moves on. The royal family and a hundred deputies, in carriages, form the centre, and then comes the artillery, with a number of women bestriding the cannons; next, a convoy of flour. Round about are the King’s Guards, each with a National Guard mounted behind him; then comes the National Guard of Paris, and after them men with pikes and women on foot, on horseback, in cabs, and on carts; in front is a band bearing two severed heads on the ends of two poles, which halts at a hair-dresser’s, in Sèvres, to have these heads powdered and curled;42 they are made to bow by way of salutation, and are daubed all over with cream; there are jokes and shouts of laughter; the people stop to eat and drink on the road, and oblige the guards to clink glasses with them; they shout and fire salvos of musketry; men and women hold each other’s hands and sing and dance about in the mud.—Such is the new fraternity—a funeral procession of legal and legitimate authorities, a triumph of brutality over intelligence, a murderous and political Mardi gras, a formidable masquerade which, preceded by the insignia of death, drags along with it the heads of France, the King, the ministers, and the deputies, that it may constrain them to rule according to its phrensy, that it may hold them under its pikes until it is pleased to slaughter them.
This time there can be no mistake: the Reign of Terror is fully and firmly established. On this very day the mob stops a vehicle, in which it hopes to find M. de Virieu, and declares, on searching it, that “they are looking for the deputy to massacre him, as well as others of whom they have a list.”43 Two days afterwards the Abbé Grégoire tells the National Assembly that not a day passes without ecclesiastics being insulted in Paris, and pursued with “horrible threats.” Malouet is advised that “as soon as guns are distributed among the militia, the first use made of them will be to get rid of those deputies who are bad citizens,” and among others of the Abbé Maury. “The moment I stepped out into the streets,” writes Mounier, “I was publicly followed. It was a crime to be seen in my company. Wherever I happened to go, along with two or three of my companions, it was stated that an assembly of aristocrats was forming. I had become such an object of terror that they threatened to set fire to a country-house where I had passed twenty-four hours; and, to relieve their minds, a promise had to be given that neither myself nor my friends should be again received into it.” In one week five or six hundred deputies have their passports44 made out, and hold themselves ready to depart. During the following month one hundred and twenty give in their resignations, or no longer appear in the Assembly. Mounier, Lally-Tollendal, the Bishop of Langres, and others besides, quit Paris, and afterwards France. Mallet-Dupan writes, “Opinion now dictates its judgment with steel in hand. Believe or die is the anathema which vehement spirits pronounce, and this in the name of Liberty. Moderation has become a crime.” After the 7th of October, Mirabeau says to the Comte de la Marck: “If you have any influence with the King or the Queen, persuade them that they and France are lost if the royal family does not leave Paris. I am busy with a plan for getting them away.” He prefers everything to the present situation, “even civil war”; for “war, at least, invigorates the soul,” while here, “under the dictatorship of demagogues, we are being drowned in slime.” Given up to itself, Paris, in three months, “will certainly be a hospital, and, perhaps, a theatre of horrors.” Against the rabble and its leaders, it is essential that the King should at once coalesce “with his people,” that he should go to Rouen, appeal to the provinces, provide a centre for public opinion, and, if necessary, resort to armed resistance. Malouet, on his side, declares that “the Revolution, since the 5th of October, “horrifies all sensible men, and every party, but that it is complete and irresistible.” Thus the three best minds that are associated with the Revolution—those whose verified prophecies attest genius or good sense; the only ones who, for two or three years, and from week to week, have always predicted wisely, and who have employed reason in their demonstrations—these three, Mallet-Dupan, Mirabeau, Malouet, agree in their estimate of the event, and in measuring its consequences. The nation is gliding down a declivity, and no one possesses the means or the force to arrest it. The King cannot do it: “undecided and weak beyond all expression, his character resembles those oiled ivory balls which one vainly strives to keep together.”45 And as for the Assembly, blinded, violated, and impelled on by the theory it proclaims, and by the faction which supports it, each of its grand decrees only renders its fall the more precipitate.
[1. ]Marmontel, “Mémoires,” ii. 221.—Albert Babeau, “Histoire de la Révolution Française,” i. 91, 187. (Letter by Huez, Mayor of Troyes, July 30, 1788.)—“Archives Nationales,” H. 1274. (Letter by M. de Caraman, April 22, 1789.) H. 942 (Cahier des demandes des Etats du Languedoc).—Buchez et Roux, “Histoire Parlementaire,” i. 283.
[2. ]See “The Ancient Régime,” p. 34. Albert Babeau, i. 91. (The Bishop of Troyes gives 12,000 francs, and the chapter 6,000, for the relief workshops.)
[3. ]“The Ancient Régime,” 350, 387.—Floquet, “Histoire du Parlement de Normandie,” vii. 505–518. (Reports of the Parliament of Normandy, May 3, 1788. Letter from the Parliament to the King, July 15, 1789.)
[4. ]Arthur Young, “Voyages in France,” June 29th, July 2nd and 18th.—“Journal de Paris,” January 2, 1789. Letter of the curé of Sainte-Marguerite.
[5. ]Roux and Buchez, iv. 79–82. (Letter from the intermediary bureau of Montereau, July 9, 1789; from the maire of Villeneuve-le-Roi, July 10th; from M. Baudry, July 10th; from M. Jamin, July 11th; from M. Prioreau, July 11th, &c.) Montjoie, “Histoire de la Révolution de France,” 2nd part, ch. xxi. p. 5.
[6. ]Roux and Buchez, ibid. “It is very unfortunate,” writes the Marquis d’Autichamp, “to be obliged to cut down the standing crops ready to be gathered in; but it is dangerous to let the troops die of hunger.”
[7. ]Montjoie, “Histoire de la Révolution de France,” ch. xxix. v. 37. De Goncourt, “La Société Française pendant la Révolution,” p. 53. Deposition of Maillard (Criminal Inquiry of the Châtelet concerning the events of October 5th and 6th).
[ 8. ]De Tocqueville, “L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution,” 272–290. De Lavergne, “Les Assemblées provinciales,” 109. Procès-verbaux des assemblées provinciales, passim.
[ 9. ]A magistrate who gives judgment in a lower court in cases relative to taxation. These terms are retained because there are no equivalents in English.
[10. ]“Laboureurs”—this term, at this epoch, is applied to those who till their own land.
[11. ]Duvergier, “Collection des lois et décrets,” i. 1 to 23, and particularly p. 15.
[12. ]Arthur Young, July 12th, 1789 (in Champagne).
[13. ]Montjoie, 1st part, 102.
[14. ]Floquet, “Histoire du Parlement de Normandie,” vii. 508.—“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453.
[15. ]Arthur Young, June 29th (at Nangis).
[16. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Letter of the Duc de Mortemart, Seigneur of Bray, May 4th; of M. de Ballainvilliers, intendant of Languedoc, April 15th.
[17. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Letter of the intendant, M. d’Agay, April 30th; of the municipal officers of Nantes, January 9th; of the intendant, M. Mealan d’Ablois, June 22nd; of M. de Ballainvilliers, April 15th.
[18. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Letter of the Count de Langeron, July 4th; of M. de Meulan d’Ablois, June 5th; “Procès-verbal de la Maréchaussée de Bost,” April 29th. Letters of M. de Chazerat, May 29th; of M. de Bezenval, June 2nd; of the intendant, M. Amelot, April 25th.
[19. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Letter of M. de Bezenval, May 27th; of M. de Ballainvilliers, April 25th; of M. de Foullonde, April 19th.
[20. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Letter of the intendant, M. d’Aine, March 12th; of M. d’Agay, April 30th; of M. Amelot, April 25th; of the municipal authorities of Nantes, January 9th, &c.
[21. ]“The Ancient Régime,” pp. 380–389.
[22. ]Floquet, vii. 508 (Report of February 27th). Hippeau, “Le Gouvernement de Normandie,” iv. 377. (Letter of M. Perrot, June 23rd.)—“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Letter of M. de Sainte-Suzanne, April 29th. Ibid. F7, 3,250. Letter of M. de Rochambeau, May 16th. Ibid. F7, 3,185. Letter of the Abbé Duplaquet, Deputy of the Third-Estate of Saint-Quentin, May 17th. Letter of three husbandmen in the environs of Saint-Quentin, May 14th.
[23. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Letter of the Count de Perigord, military commandant of Languedoc, April 22nd.
[24. ]Floquet, vii. 511 (from the 11th to the 14th July).
[25. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Letter of the municipal authorities of Nantes, January 9th; of the subdelegate of Ploërmel, July 4th; ibid. F7, 2,353. Letter of the intermediary commission of Alsace, September 8th; ibid. F7, 3,227. Letter of the intendant, Caze de la Bove, June 16th; ibid. H. 1453. Letter of Terray, intendant of Lyons, July 4th; of the prévot des échevins, July 5th and= 7th.
[26. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Letter of the mayor and councils of Agde, April 21st; of M. de Perigord, April 19th, May 5th.
[27. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Letters of M. de Caraman, March 23rd, 26th, 27th, 28th; of the seneschal Missiessy, March 24th; of the mayor of Hyères, March 25th, &c.; ibid. H. 1274; of M. de Montmayran, April 2nd; of M. de Caraman, March 18th, April 12th; of the intendant, M. de la Tour, April 2nd; of the procureur-général, M. d’Antheman, April 17th, and the report of June 15th; of the municipal authorities of Toulon, April 11th; of the subdelegate of Manosque, March 14th; of M. de Saint-Tropez, March 21st.—Procés-verbal, signed by 119 witnesses, of the insurrection at Aix, March 5th, &c.
[28. ]A rising of the peasants. The term is used to indicate a country mob in contradistinction to a city or town mob.—Tr.
[29. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1274. Letter of M. de la Tour, April 2nd (with a detailed memorial and depositions).
[30. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1274. Letter of M. de Caraman, April 22nd:—“One real benefit results from this misfortune. . . . The well-to-do class is brought to sustain that which exceeded the strength of the poor daily labourers. We see the nobles and people in good circumstances a little more attentive to the poor peasants: they are now habituated to speaking to them with more gentleness.” M. de Caraman was wounded, as well as his son, at Aix, and if the soldiery, who were stoned, at length fired on the crowd, he did not give the order.—Ibid. Letter of M. d’Anthéman, April 17th; of M. de Barentin, June 11th.
[1. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Letter of M. Miron, lieutenant of police, April 26th; of M. Joly de Fleury, procureur-général, May 29th; of MM. Marchais and Berthier, April 18th and 27th, March 23rd, April 5th, May 5th.—Arthur Young, June 10th and 29th. “Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Letter of the subdelegate of Montlhéry, April 14th.
[2. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Letter of the subdelegate Gobert, March 17th; of the officers of police, June 15th: “On the 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th of March the inhabitants of Conflans generally rebelled against the game law in relation to the rabbit.”
[3. ]Montjoie, 2nd part, ch. xxi. p. 14 (the first week in June). Montjoie is a party man; but he gives dates and details, and his testimony, when it is confirmed elsewhere, deserves to be admitted.
[4. ]Montjoie, 1st part, 92–101. “Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Letter of the officer of police of Saint-Denis: “A good many workmen arrive daily from Lorraine as well as from Champagne,” which increases the famine.
[5. ]De Bezenval, “Mémoires,” i. 353. Cf. “The Ancient Régime,” p. 388. Marmontel, ii. 252 and following pages. De Ferrières, i. 407.
[6. ]Arthur Young, September 1st, 1788.
[7. ]Barrère, “Mémoires,” i. 234.
[8. ]See, in the National Library, the long catalogue of those which have survived.
[9. ]Malouet, i. 255. Bailly, i. 43 (May 9th and 19th).—D’Hezecques, “Souvenirs d’un page de Louis XVI.” 293.—De Bezenval, i. 368.
[10. ]Marmontel, ii. 249.—Montjoie, 1st part, p. 92.—De Bezenval, i. 387: “These spies added that persons were seen exciting the tumult and were distributing money.”
[11. ]“Archives Nationales,” Y. 11441. Interrogatory of the Abbé Roy, May 5th. Y. 11033, Interrogatory (April 28th and May 4th) of twenty-three wounded persons brought to the Hôtel-Dieu. These two documents are of prime importance in presenting the true aspect of the insurrection; to these must be added the narrative of M. de Bezenval, who was commandant at this time with M. du Châtelet. Almost all other narratives are amplified or falsified through party spirit.
[12. ]De Ferrières, vol. iii. note A. (justificatory explanation by Réveillon).
[13. ]Bailly, i. 25 (April 26th).
[14. ]Hippeau, iv. 377 (Letters of M. Perrot, April 29th).
[15. ]Letter to the King by an inhabitant of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine:—“Do not doubt, sire, that our recent misfortunes are due to the dearness of bread.”
[16. ]Dammartin, “Evénements qui se sont passés sous mes yeux,” &c. i. 25:—“We turned back and were arrested by small bands of scoundrels, who insolently proposed to us to shout ‘Vive Necker! Vive le Tiers-Etat!’ ” His two companions were knights of St. Louis, and their badges seemed an object of “increasing hatred.” “The badge excited coarse mutterings, even on the part of persons who appeared superior to the agitators.”
[17. ]Dammartin, ibid. i. 25:—“I was dining this very day at the Hôtel d’Ecquevilly, in the Rue Saint-Louis.” He leaves the house on foot and witnesses the disturbance. “Fifteen to sixteen hundred wretches, the excrement of the nation, degraded by shameful vices, covered with rags, and gorged with brandy, presented the most disgusting and revolting spectacle. More than a hundred thousand persons of both sexes and of all ages and conditions interfered greatly with the operations of the troops. The firing soon commenced and blood flowed: two innocent persons were wounded near me.”
[18. ]De Goncourt, “La Société Française pendant la Révolution.” Thirty-one gambling-houses are enumerated here, while a pamphlet of the day is entitled “Pétition des deux mille cent filles du Palais-Royal.”
[19. ]Montjoie, 2nd part, 144. Bailly, ii. 130.
[20. ]Arthur Young, June 24th, 1789. Montjoie, 2nd part, 69.
[21. ]Arthur Young, June 9th, 24th, and 26th. “La France libre,” passim, by C. Desmoulins.
[22. ]C. Desmoulins, letters to his father, and Arthur Young, June 9th.
[23. ]Montjoie, 2nd part, 69, 77, 124, 144. C. Desmoulins, letters of June 24th and the following days.
[24. ]Etienne Dumont, “Souvenirs,” p. 72. C. Desmoulins, letter of June 24th. Arthur Young, June 25th. Roux and Buchez, ii. 28.
[25. ]Bailly, i. 227 and 179. Monnier, “Recherches sur les causes,” &c., i. 289, 291; ii. 61. Malouet, i. 209; ii. 10. “Actes des Apôtres,” v. 43 (Letter of M. de Guillermy, July 31st, 1790). Marmontel, i. 28: “The people came even into the Assembly, to encourage their partisans, to select and indicate their victims, and to terrify the feeble with the dreadful trial of open balloting.”
[26. ]Manuscript letters of M. Boullé, deputy, to the municipal authorities of Pontivy, from May 1st, 1789, to September 4th, 1790 (communicated by M. Rosenzweig, archivist at Vannes). June 16th, 1789: “The crowd gathered around the hall . . . was, during these days, from 3,000 to 4,000 persons.”
[27. ]Letters of M. Boullé, June 23rd. “How sublime the moment, that in which we enthusiastically bind ourselves to the country by a new oath! . . . Why should this moment be selected by one of our number to dishonour himself? His name is now blasted throughout France. And the unfortunate man has children! Suddenly overwhelmed by public contempt he leaves, and falls fainting at the door, exclaiming, ‘Ah! this will be my death!’ I do not know what has become of him since. What is strange is, he had not behaved badly up to that time, and he voted for the Constitution.”
[28. ]De Ferrières, i. 168. Malouet, i. 298 (according to him the faction did not number more than ten members), and ix. 10. Dumont, 250.
[29. ]Declaration of June 23rd, article 15.
[30. ]Montjoie, 2nd part, 118. C. Desmoulins, letters of June 24th and the following days. A faithful narrative by M. de Sainte-Fêre, formerly an officer in the French Guard, p. 9. De Bezenval, iii. 413. Roux and Buchez, ii. 35. Manuscript souvenirs of M. X.
[31. ]Peuchet (“Encyclopédie Méthodique,” 1789, quoted by Parent Duchâtelet): “Almost all of the soldiers of the Guard belong to that class (the bullies of public women): many, indeed, only enlist in the corps that they may live at the expense of these unfortunates.”
[32. ]Gouverneur Morris. Liberty is now the general cry; authority is a name and no longer a reality. (Correspondence with Washington, July 19th.)
[33. ]Bailly, i. 302. “The King was very well-disposed; his measures were intended only to preserve order and the public peace. . . . Du Châtelet was forced by facts to acquit M. de Bezenval of attempts against the people and the country.” Cf. Marmontel, iv. 183; Mounier, ii. 40.
[34. ]C. Desmoulins, letter of the 16th July. Roux and Buchez, ii. 83.
[35. ]Trial of the Prince de Lambesc (Paris, 1790), with the eighty-three depositions and the discussion of the testimony. It is the crowd which began the attack. The troops fired in the air. But one man, a sieur Chauvel, was wounded slightly by the Prince de Lambesc. (Testimony of M. Carboire, p. 84, and of Captain de Reinack, p. 101.) “M. le Prince de Lambesc, mounted on a grey horse with a grey saddle without holsters or pistols, had scarcely entered the garden when a dozen persons jumped at the mane and bridle of his horse and made every effort to drag him off. A small man in grey clothes fired at him with a pistol. . . . The prince tried hard to free himself, and succeeded by making his horse rear up and by flourishing his sword; without, however, up to this time, wounding any one. . . . He deposes that he saw the prince strike a man on the head with the flat of his sabre who was trying to close the turning-bridge, which would have cut off the retreat of his troops. The troops did no more than try to keep off the crowd which assailed them with stones, and even with firearms, from the top of the terraces.” The man who tried to close the bridge had seized the prince’s horse with one hand; the wound he received was a scratch about 23 lines long, which was dressed and cured with a bandage soaked in brandy. All the details of the affair prove that the patience and humanity of the officers were extreme. Nevertheless “on the following day, the 13th, some one posted a written placard on the carrefour Bussy recommending the citizens of Paris to seize the prince and quarter him at once.”—(Deposition of M. Cosson, p. 114.)
[36. ]Bailly, i. 336. Marmontel, iv. 310.
[37. ]Montjoie, part 3, 86. “I talked with those who guarded the chateau of the Tuileries. They did not belong to Paris. . . . A frightful physiognomy and hideous apparel.” Montjoie, not to be trusted in many places, merits consultation for little facts of which he was an eye-witness. Morellet, “Mémoires,” i. 374. Dussaulx, “L’oeuvre des sept jours,” 352. “Revue Historique,” March, 1876. Interrogatory of Desnot. His occupation during the 13th of July (published by Guiffrey).
[38. ]Mathieu Dumas, “Mémoires,” i. 531. “Peaceable people fled at the sight of these groups of strange, frantic vagabonds. Everybody closed their houses. . . . When I reached home, in the Saint-Denis quarter, several of these brigands caused great alarm by firing off guns in the air.”
[39. ]Dussaulx, 379.
[40. ]Dussaulx, 359, 360, 361, 288, 336. “In effect their entreaties resembled commands, and, more than once, it was impossible to resist them.”
[41. ]Dussaulx, 447 (Deposition of the invalides). “Revue Rétrospective,” iv. 282 (Narrative of the commander of the thirty-two Swiss Guards).
[42. ]Marmontel, iv. 317.
[43. ]Dussaulx, 454. “The soldiers replied that they would accept whatever happened rather than cause the destruction of so great a number of their fellow-citizens.”
[44. ]Dussaulx, 447. The number of combatants, maimed, wounded, dead, and living, is 825. Marmontel, iv. 320. “To the number of victors, which has been carried up to 800, people have been added who were never near the place.”
[45. ]Souvenirs Manuscrits de M. X., an eye-witness. He leaned against the fence of the Beaumarchais garden and looked on, with Mademoiselle Contat, the actress, at his side, who had left her carriage in the Place-Royale.—Marat, “L’ami du peuple,” No. 530. “When an unheard-of conjunction of circumstances had caused the fall of the badly defended walls of the Bastille, under the efforts of a handful of soldiers and of a troop of unfortunate creatures, most of them Germans and almost all provincials, the Parisians presented themselves before the fortress, curiosity alone having led them there.”
[46. ]Narrative of the commander of the thirty-two Swiss. Narrative of Cholat, wine-dealer, one of the victors. Examination of Desnot (who cut off the head of M. de Launay).
[47. ]Montjoie, part 3, 85. Dussaulx, 357, 287, 368.
[48. ]Nothing more. No witness states that he had seen the pretended note to M. de Launay. According to Dussaulx, he could not have had either the time or the means to write it.
[49. ]Bailly, ii. 32, 74, 88, 90, 95, 108, 117, 137, 158, 174. “I gave orders which were neither obeyed nor listened to. . . . They gave me to understand that I was not safe.” (July 15th.) “In these sad times one enemy and one calumnious report sufficed to excite the multitude. All who had formerly held power, all who had annoyed or restrained the insurrectionists, were sure of being arrested.”
[50. ]M. de Lafayette, “Mémoires,” iii. 264. Letters of July 16th, 1789. “I have already saved the lives of six persons whom they were hanging in different quarters.”
[51. ]Poujoulat, “Histoire de la Révolution Française,” p. 100 (with supporting documents). Procès-verbaux of the Provincial Assembly, Ile-de-France (1787), p. 127.
[52. ]For instance: “He is severe with his peasants.” “He gives them no bread, and he wants them then to eat grass.” “He wants them to eat grass like horses.” “He has said that they could very well eat hay, and that they are no better than horses.” The same story is found in many of the contemporary jacqueries.
[53. ]Bailly, ii. 108. “The people, less enlightened and as imperious as despots, recognise no positive signs of good administration but success.”
[54. ]Bailly, ii. 95, 108. Malouet, i. 14.
[55. ]De Ferrières, i. 168.
[1. ]Dussaulx, 374. “I remarked that if there were a few among the people at that time who dared commit crime, there were several who wished it, and that every one permitted it.”—“Archives Nationales,” D. xxix. 3. (Letter of the municipal authorities of Crémieux, Dauphiny, November 3, 1789.) “The care taken to lead them first to the cellars and to intoxicate them, can alone give a conception of the incredible excesses of rage to which they gave themselves up in the sacking and burning of the chateaux.”
[2. ]Mercure de France, January 4, 1792. (“Revue politique de l’année 1791,” by Mallet-Dupan.)
[3. ]Albert Babeau, i. 206. (Letter of the deputy Camuzet de Belombre, August 22, 1789.) “The executive power is absolutely gone today.” Gouverneur Morris, letter of July 31, 1789: “This country is now as near in a state of anarchy as it is possible for a community to be without breaking up.”
[4. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Letter of M. Amelot, July 24th; H. 784, of M. de Langeron, October 16th and 18th.—KK. 1105. Correspondence of M. de Thiard, October 7th and 30th, September 4th.—Floquet, vii. 527, 555.—Guadet, “Histoire des Girondins” (July 29, 1789).
[5. ]M. de Rochambeau, “Mémoires,” i. 353 (July 18th).—Sauzay, “Histoire de la Persécution Révolutionnaire dans le Département du Doubs,” i. 128 (July 19th.)— “Archives Nationales” F7, 3,253. (Letter of the deputies of the provincial commission of Alsace, September 8th.) D. xxix. I. note of M. de Latour-du-Pin, October 28, 1789.—Letter of M. de Langeron, September 3rd; of Breitman, garde-marteau, Val Saint-Amarin (Upper Alsace), July 26th.
[6. ]Léonce de Lavergne, 197. (Letter of the intermediate commission of Poitou, the last month in 1789.)—Cf. Brissot (Le patriote français, August, 1789). “General insubordination prevails in the provinces because the restraints of executive power are no longer felt. What were but lately the guarantees of that power? The intendants, tribunals, and the army. The intendants are gone, the tribunals are silent, and the army is against the executive power and on the side of the people. Liberty is not an aliment which all stomachs can digest without some preparation for it.”
[7. ]“Archives Nationales,” D. xxix. I. (Letter of the clergy, consuls, présidial-councillors, and principal merchants of Puy-en-Velay, September 16, 1789.)—H. ix. 53 (letter of the Intendant of Alençon, July 18th). “I must not leave you in ignorance of the multiplied outbreaks we have in all parts of my jurisdiction. The impunity with which they flatter themselves, because the judges are afraid of irritating the people by examples of severity, only emboldens them. Mischief-makers, confounded with honest folks, spread false reports about particular persons whom they accuse of concealing grain, or of not belonging to the Third-Estate, and, under this pretext, they pillage their houses, taking whatever they can find, the owners only avoiding death by flight.”
[8. ]A body of magistrates forming one of the lower tribunals.—[Tr.]
[9. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 942. (Observations of M. de Ballainvilliers, October 30, 1789.)
[10. ]“Archives Nationales,” D. xxix. I. Letter of the municipal assembly of Louviers, the end of August, 1789. Letter of the communal assembly of Saint-Bris (bailiwick of Auxerre), September 25th.—Letter of the municipal officers of Ricey-Haut, near Bar-sur-Seine, August 25th; of the Chevalier d’Allouville, September 8th.
[11. ]“Archives Nationales,” D. xxix. I. Letter of M. Briand-Delessart (Angoulême, August 1st).—Of M. Bret, Lieutenant-General of the provostship of Mardogne, September 5th.—Of the Chevalier de Castellas (Auvergne), September 15th (relating to the night between the 2nd and 3rd of August).—Madame Campan, ii. 65.
[12. ]Arthur Young, “Voyages in France,” July 24th and 31st, August 13th and 19th.
[13. ]D. Bouillé, 108.—“Archives Nationales,” KK. 1105. Correspondence of M. de Thiard, September 20, 1789 (apropos of one hundred guns given to the town of Saint-Brieuc). “They are not of the slightest use, but this passion for arms is a temporary epidemic which must be allowed to subside of itself. People are determined to believe in brigands and in enemies, whereas neither exist.” September 25th, “Vanity alone impels them, and the pride of having cannon is their sole motive.”
[14. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Letters of M. Amelot, July 17th and 24th. “Several wealthy private persons of the town (Auxonne) have been put to ransom by this band, of which the largest portion consists of ruffians.”—Letter of nine cultivators of Breteuil (Picardy), July 23rd (their granaries were pillaged up to the last grain the previous evening). “They threaten to pillage our crops and set our barns on fire as soon as they are full. M. Tassard, the notary, has been visited in his house by the populace, and his life has been threatened.” Letter of Moreau, Procureur du Roi at the Seneschal’s Court at Bar-le-Duc, September 15, 1789, D. xxix. I. “On the 27th of July the people rose and most cruelly assassinated a merchant trading in wheat. On the 27th and 28th his house and that of another were sacked,” &c.
[15. ]Chronicle of Dominick Schmutz (“Revue d’Alsace,” v. iii. 3rd series). These are his own expressions: Gesindel, Lumpen-gesindel.—De Rochambeau, “Mémoires,” i. 353. Arthur Young (an eye-witness), July 21st. Of Dammartin (eye-witness), i. 105. M. de Rochambeau shows the usual indecision and want of vigour: whilst the mob are pillaging houses and throwing things out of the windows, he passes in front of his regiments (8,000 men) drawn up for action, and says, “My friends, my good friends, you see what is going on. How horrible! Alas! these are your papers, your titles and those of your parents.” The soldiers smile at this sentimental prattle.
[16. ]Dumouriez (an eye-witness), book iii. ch. 3. The trial was begun and judgment given by twelve lawyers and an assessor, whom the people, in arms, had themselves appointed. Hippeau, iv. 382.
[17. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,248. (Letter of the mayor, M. Poussiaude de Thierri, September 11th.)
[18. ]Floquet, vii. 551.
[19. ]De Goncourt, “La Société Française pendant la Révolution,” 37.
[20. ]“Archives Nationales,” D. xxix. I. Letter of the officers of the bailiwick of Dôle, August 24th. Sauzay i. 128.
[21. ]There is a similar occurrence at Strasbourg, a few days after the sacking of the town-hall. The municipality having given each man of the garrison twenty sous, the soldiers abandon their post, set the prisoners free at the Pont-Couvert, feast publicly in the streets with the women taken out of the penitentiary, and force innkeepers and the keepers of drinking-places to give up their provisions. The shops are all closed, and, for twenty-four hours, the officers are not obeyed. (De Dammartin, i. 105.)
[22. ]Albert Babeau, i. 187, 273.—Moniteur, ii. 379. (Extract from the provost’s verdict of November 27, 1789.)
[23. ]Moniteur, ibid. Picard, the principal murderer, confessed “that he had made him suffer a great deal; that the said sieur Huez did not die until they came near the Chaudron Inn; that he nevertheless intended to make him suffer more by stabbing him in the neck at the corner of each street, (and) by contriving it so that he might do it often, as long as there was life in him; that the day on which M. Huez died yielded him ten francs, together with the neck-buckle of M. Huez, found on him when he was arrested in his flight.”
[24. ]Mercure de France, September 26, 1789. Letters of the officers of the Bourbon regiment and of members of the general committee of Caen.—Floquet, vii. 545.
[25. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Ibid. D. xxix. I. Note of M. de la Tour-du-Pin, October 28th.
[26. ]Decree, February 1, 1789, enforced May 1 following.
[27. ]“Archives Nationales,” D. xxix. I. Letter of the Count de Montausier, August 8th, with notes by M. Paulian, director of the excise (an admirable letter, modest and liberal, and ending by demanding a pardon for people led astray). H. 1453. Letter of the attorney of the election district of Falaise, July 17th, &c. Moniteur, I. 303, 387, 505 (sessions of August 7th and 27th and of September 23rd). “The royal revenues are diminishing steadily.” Roux and Buchez, III. 219 (session of October 24, 1789). Discourse of a deputation from Anjou: “Sixty thousand men are armed; the barriers have been destroyed, the clerks’ horses have been sold by auction; the employés have been told to withdraw from the province within eight days. The inhabitants have declared that they will not pay taxes so long as the salt-tax exists.”
[28. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,253 (Letter of September 8, 1789).
[29. ]Arthur Young, September 30th. “One would think that every rusty gun in Provence is at work, killing all sorts of birds; the shot has fallen five or six times in my chaise and about my ears,” Beugnot, I. 141. “Archives Nationales,” D. xxix. I. Letter of the Chevalier d’Allonville, September 8, 1789 (environs of Bar-sur-Aube). “The peasants go in armed bands into the woods belonging to the Abbey of Trois-Fontaines, which they cut down. They saw up the oaks and transport them on waggons to Pont-Saint-Dizier, where they sell them. In other places they fish in the ponds and break the embankments.”
[30. ]“Archives Nationales,” D. xxix. I. Letter of the assessor of the police of Saint-Flour, October 3, 1789. On the 31st of July, a report is spread that the brigands are coming. On the 1st of August the peasants arm themselves. “They amuse themselves by drinking, awaiting the arrival of the brigands; the excitement increases to such an extent as to make them believe that M. le Comte d’Espinchal had arrived in disguise the evening before at Massiac, that he was the author of the troubles disturbing the province at this time, and that he was concealed in his chateau.” On the strength of this shots are fired into the windows, and there are searches, &c.
[31. ]“Archives Nationales,” K. xxix. I. Letter of Etienne Fermier, Naveinne, September 18th (it is possible that the author, for the sake of caution, took a fictitious name). The manuscript correspondence of M. Boullé, deputy of Pontivy, to his constituents, is a type of this declamatory and incendiary writing. Letter of the consuls, priests, and merchants of Puy-en-Velay, September 16th.—“The Ancient Régime,” p. 396.
[32. ]“Archives Nationales,” D. xxix. I. Letter of M. Despretz-Montpezat, a former artillery officer, July 24th (with several other signatures). On the same day the tocsin is sounded in fifty villages on the rumour spreading that 7,000 brigands, English and Breton, were invading the country.
[33. ]“Archives Nationales,” D. xxix. I. Letter of Briand-Delessart, August 1st (domiciliary visits to the Carmelites of Angoulême where it is pretended that Mme. de Polignac has just arrived.—Beugnot, I. 140.—Arthur Young, July 20th, &c.—Roux and Buchez, iv. 166, Letter of Mamers, July 24th; of Mans, July 26th.
[34. ]Montjoie, ch. lxii. p. 93 (according to acts of legal procedure). There was a soldier in the band who had served under M. de Montesson and who wanted to avenge himself for the punishments he had undergone in the regiment.
[35. ]Mercure de France, August 20th (Letter from Vésoul, August 13th).
[36. ]M. de Memmay proved his innocence later on, and was rehabilitated by a public decision after two years’ proceedings (session of June 4, 1791; Mercure of June 11th).
[37. ]Journal des Débats et Décrees, i. 258. (Letter of the municipality of Vésoul, July 22nd.—Discourse of M. de Toulougeon, July 29th.)
[38. ]De Rochambeau, “Mémoires,” i. 353. “Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,253. (Letter of M. de Rochambeau, August 4th.)—Chronicle of Schmutz (ibid.), p. 284. “Archives Nationales,” D. xxix. i. (Letter of Mme. Ferrette, of Remiremont, August 9th.)
[39. ]Sauzay, i. 180. (Letters of monks, July 22nd and 26th.)
[40. ]“Archives Nationales,” D. xxix. I. (Letter of M. de Bergeron, attorney to the présidial of Valence, August 28th, with the details of the verdict stated.) Official report of the militia of Lyons, sent to the president of the National Assembly, August 10th. (Expedition to Serrière, in Dauphiny, July 31st.)
[41. ]Letter of the Count of Courtivron, deputy substitute (an eye-witness).—“Archives Nationales,” D. xxix. I. Letter of the municipal officers of Crémieu (Dauphiny), November 3rd. Letter of the Vicomte de Carbonnière (Auvergne), August 3rd.—Arthur Young, July 30th (Dijon) says, apropos of a noble family which escaped almost naked from its burning chateau, “they were esteemed by the neighbours; their virtues ought to have commanded the love of the poor, for whose resentment there was no cause.”
[42. ]“Archives Nationales,” xxix. 1. (Letter of the commission of the States of Dauphiny, July 31st.)
[43. ]“Désastres du Mâconnais,” by Puthod de la Maison-Rouge (August, 1789). “Ravages du Mâconnai”—Arthur Young, July 27th. Roux and Buchez, iv. 211, 214. Arthur Young, July 27th.—Mercure de France, September 12, 1789. (Letter by a volunteer of Orleans.) “On the 15th of August, eighty-eight ruffians, calling themselves reapers, present themselves at Bascon, in Beauce, and, the next day, at a chateau in the neighbourhood, where they demand within an hour the head of the son of the lord of the manor, M. Tassin, who can only redeem himself by a contribution of 1,600 livres and the pillaging of his cellars.
[44. ]Letter of the Count de Courtivron.—Arthur Young, July 31st.—Roux and Buchez, ii. 543.—Mercure de France, August 15, 1789 (sitting of the 8th, discourse of a deputy).—Mermet, “Histoire de la Ville de Vienne,” 445.—“Archives Nationales,” ibid. (Letter of the Commission of the States of Dauphiny, July 31st.) “The list of burnt or devastated chateaux is immense.” The committee already cites sixteen of them. Puthod de la Maison-Rouge, ibid.: “Were all devastated places to be mentioned, it would be necessary to cite the whole province” (Letter from Mâcon). “They have not the less destroyed most of the chateaux and bourgeois dwellings, at one time burning them and at another tearing them down.”
[45. ]Lally-Tollendal, “Second Letter to my Constituents,” 104.
[46. ]Doniol, “La Revolution et la Féodalité,” p. 60 (a few days after the 4th of August).—“Archives Nationales,” H. 784. Letters of M. de Langeron, military commander at Besançon, October 16th and 18th. Ibid., D. xxix. 1. Letter of the same, September 3rd. Arthur Young (in Provence, at the house of Baron de la Tour-d’Aignes). “The baron is an enormous sufferer by the Revolution; a great extent of country which belonged in absolute right to his ancestors, has been granted for quit-rents, ceus, and other feudal payments, so that there is no comparison between the lands retained and those thus granted by his family. . . . The solid payments which the Assembly have declared to be redeemable are every hour falling to nothing, without a shadow of recompense. . . . The situation of the nobility in this country is pitiable; they are under apprehensions that nothing will be left them, but simply such houses as the mob allows to stand unburnt; that the small farmers will retain their farms without paying the landlord his half of the produce; and that, in case of such a refusal, there is actually neither law nor authority in the country to prevent it. This chateau, splendid even in ruins, with the fortune and lives of the owners, is at the mercy of an armed rabble.”
[1. ]Bailly, “Mémoires,” ii. 195, 242.
[2. ]Bailly, ii. 74, 174, 242, 261, 282, 345, 392.
[3. ]Such as domiciliary visits and arrests apparently made by lunatics. (“Archives de la Préfecture de Police de Paris.”)—And Montjoie, ch. lxx. p. 67. Expedition of the National Guard against imaginary brigands who are cutting down the crops at Montmorency and the volley fired in the air.—Conquest of Ile-Adam and Chantilly.
[4. ]Bailly, ii. 46, 95, 232, 287, 296.
[5. ]“Archives de la Préfecture de Police,” procès-verbal of the section of Butte des Moulins, October 5, 1789.
[6. ]Bailly, ii. 224.—Dussaulx, 418, 202, 257, 174, 158. The powder transported was called poudre de traite (transport); the people understood it as poudre de traître (traitor). M. de la Salle was near being killed through the addition of an r. It is he who had taken command of the National Guard on the 13th of July.
[7. ]Floquet, vii. 54. There is the same scene at Granville, in Normandy, on the 16th of October. A woman had assassinated her husband, while a soldier who was her lover is her accomplice; the woman was about to be hung and the man broken on the wheel, when the populace shout, “The nation has the right of pardon,” overset the scaffold, and save the two assassins.
[8. ]Bailly, ii. 274 (August 17th).
[9. ]Bailly, ii. 83, 202, 230, 235, 283, 299.
[10. ]Mercure de France, the number for September 26th. De Goncourt p.111.
[11. ]Mercier, “Tableau de Paris,” i. 58; x. 151.
[12. ]De Ferrières, i. 178.—Roux and Buchez, ii. 311, 316.—Bailly, ii. 104, 174, 207, 246, 257, 282.
[13. ]Mercure de France, September 5th, 1789. Horace Walpole’s Letters, September 5, 1789.—M. de Lafayette, “Mémoires,” i. 272. During the week following the 14th of July, 6,000 soldiers deserted and went over to the people, besides 400 and 500 Swiss Guards and six battalions of the French Guards, who remain without officers and do as they please. Vagabonds from the neighbouring villages flock in, and there are more than “30,000 foreigners and vagrants” in Paris.
[14. ]Bailly, ii. 282. The crowd of deserters was so great that Lafayette was obliged to place a guard at the barriers to keep them from entering the city. “Without this precaution the whole army would have come in.”
[15. ]De Ferrières, i. 103.—De Lavalette, i. 39.—Bailly, i. 53 (on the lawyers). “It may be said that the success of the Revolution is due to this class.” Marmontel, ii. 243. “Since the first elections of Paris, in 1789, I remarked,” he says, “this species of restless intriguing men, contending with each other to be heard, impatient to make themselves prominent. . . . It is well known what interest this body (the lawyers) had to change Reform into Revolution, the Monarchy into a Republic; the object was to organize for itself a perpetual aristocracy.”—Roux and Buchez, ii. 358 (article by C. Desmoulins). “In the districts everybody exhausts his lungs and his time in trying to be president, vice-president, secretary, or vice-secretary.”
[16. ]Eugène Hatin, “Histoire de la Presse,” vol. v.—Le Patriote français, by Brissot, July 28, 1789.—L’Ami du Peuple, by Marat, September 12, 1789.—Annales patriotiques et littéraires, by Carra and Mercier, October 5, 1789.—Les Révolutions de Paris, chief editor Loustalot, July 17, 1789.—Le Tribun du Peuple, letters by Fauchet (middle of 1789).—Révolutions de France et de Brabant, by C. Desmoulins, November 28, 1789; his France libre (I believe of the month of August, and his Discours de la Lanterne, of the month of September). The Moniteur does not make its appearance until November 24, 1789. In the seventy numbers which follow, up to February 3, 1790, the debates of the Assembly were afterwards written out, amplified, and put in a dramatic form. All numbers anterior to February 3, 1790, are the result of a compilation executed in the year iv. The narrative part during the first six months of the Revolution is of no value. The report of the sittings of the Assembly is more exact, but should be revised sitting by sitting and discourse by discourse for a detailed history of the National Assembly. The principal authorities which are really contemporary are, Le Mercure de France, Le Journal de Paris, Le Point du Jour, by Barrère, the Courrier de Versailles, by Gorsas, the Courrier de Provence, by Mirabeau, the Journal des Débats et Décrets, the official reports of the National Assembly, the Bulletin de l’Assemblée Nationale, by Marat, besides the newspapers above cited for the period following the 14th of July, and the speeches, which are printed separately.
[17. ]C. Desmoulins, letters of September 20th and of subsequent dates. (He quotes a passage from Lucan in the sense indicated.)—Brissot, “Mémoires,” passim.—Biography of Danton by Robinet. (See the testimony of Madame Roland and of Rousselin de Saint-Albin.)
[18. ]“Discours de la Lanterne.” See the epigraph of the engraving.
[19. ]Roux and Buchez, iii. 55; article of Marat, October 1st. “Sweep all the suspected men out of the Hôtel-de-Ville. . . . Reduce the deputies of the communes to fifty; do not let them remain in office more than a month or six weeks, and compel them to transact business only in public.” And ii. 412, another article by Marat.—Ibid. iii. 21. An article by Loustalot.—C. Desmoulins, “Discours de la Lanterne,” passim.—Bailly, ii. 326.
[20. ]Mounier, “Des causes qui ont empêché les Français d’être libre,” i. 59.—Lally-Tollendal, second letter, 104.—Bailly, ii. 203.
[21. ]De Bouillé, 207.—Lally-Tollendal, ibid., 141, 146.—Mounier, ibid., 41,60.
[22. ]Mercure de France, October 2, 1790 (article of Mallet-Dupan: “I saw it”). Criminal proceedings at the Châtelet on the events of October 5th and 6th. Deposition of M. Feydel, a deputy, No. 178.—De Montlosier, i. 259.—Desmoulins (La Lanterne). “Some members of the communes are gradually won over by pensions, by plans for making a fortune, and by caresses. Happily, the incorruptible galleries are always on the side of the patriots. They represent the tribunes of the people seated on a bench in attendance on the deliberations of the Senate (in Rome) and who had the veto. They represent the capital, and, fortunately, it is under the batteries of the capital that the constitution is being framed.” (C. Desmoulins, who is a naif politician, always lets the cat out of the bag.)
[23. ]“Procédure du Châtelet,” ibid. Deposition of M. Malouet (No. 111). “I received every day, as well as MM. Lally and Mounier, anonymous letters and lists of proscriptions on which we were inscribed. These letters announced a prompt and violent death to every deputy that advocated the authority of the King.”
[24. ]Roux and Buchez, i. 368, 376.—Bailly, ii. 326, 341.—Mounier, ibid., 62,75.
[25. ]Etienne Dumont, 145.—Correspondence between Comte de Mirabeau and Comte de la Marck.
[26. ]“Procédure criminelle du Châtelet,” Deposition 148.—Roux and Buchez, iii. 67, 65. (Narrative of Desmoulins, article of Loustalot.) Mercure de France, number for September 5, 1789. “Sunday evening, August 30, at the Palais-Royal, the expulsion of several deputies of every class was demanded, and especially some of those from Dauphiny. . . . They spoke of bringing the King to Paris as well as the Dauphin. All virtuous citizens, every incorruptible patriot, was exhorted to set out immediately for Versailles.”
[27. ]These acts of violence were not reprisals; nothing of the kind took place at the banquet of the body-guards (October 1st). “Amidst the general joy,” says an eye-witness, “I heard no insults against the National Assembly, nor against the popular party, nor against anybody. The only cries were ‘Vive le Roi! Vive la Reine! We will defend them to the death!’ ” (Madame de Larochejacquelein, p. 40. Ibid. Madame Campan, another eye-witness.) It appears to be certain, however, that the younger members of the National Guard at Versailles turned their cockades so as to be like other people, and it is also probable that some of the ladies distributed white cockades. The rest is a story made up before and after the event to justify the insurrection. Cf. Leroi, “Histoire de Versailles,” ii. 20–107. Ibid. p. 141. “As to that proscription of the national cockade, all witnesses deny it.” The originator of the calumny is Gorsas, editor of the Courrier de Versailles.
[28. ]“Procédure Criminelle du Châtelet.” Depositions 88, 110, 120, 126, 127, 140, 146, 148.—Marmontel, “Mémoires,” a conversation with Champfort, in May, 1789.—Morellet, “Mémoires,” i. 398. (According to the evidence of Garat, Champfort gave all his savings, 3,000 livres, to defray the expenses of manoeuvres of this description.)—Malouet (ii. 2) knew four of the deputies “who took direct part in this transaction.”
[29. ]“Procédure Criminelle du Châtelet.” 1st. On the Flemish soldiers. Depositions 17, 20, 24, 35, 87, 89, 98.—2nd. On the men disguised as women. Depositions 5, 10, 14, 44, 49, 59, 60, 110, 120, 139, 145, 146, 148. The prosecutor designates six of them to be seized.—3rd. On the condition of the women of the expedition. Depositions 35, 83, 91, 98, 146, and 24.—4th. On the money distributed. Depositions 49, 56, 71, 82, 110, 126.
[30. ]“Procédure Criminelle du Châtelet.” Deposition 61. “During the night scenes, not very decent, occurred among these people, which the witness thought it useless to relate.”
[31. ]“Procédure Criminelle du Châtelet.” Depositions 35, 44, 81.—Roux and Buchez, iii. 120. (Procès-verbal of the Commune, October 5th.) Journal de Paris, October 12th. A few days after, M. Pic, clerk of the prosecutor, brought “a package of 100,000 francs which he had saved from the enemies’ hands,” and another package of notes was found thrown, in the hubbub, into a receipt-box.
[32. ]“Procédure Criminelle du Châtelet.” Depositions 61, 77, 81, 148, 154.—Dumont, 181.—Mounier, “Exposé justificatif,” passim.
[33. ]“Procédure Criminelle du Châtelet.” Deposition 168. The witness sees on leaving the King’s apartment “several women dressed as fish-dealers, one of whom, with a pretty face, has a paper in her hand, and who exclaims as she holds it up, ‘Heh! we forced him to sign.’ ”
[34. ]“Procédure Criminelle du Châtelet.” Depositions 89, 91, 98. “Promising all, even raising their petticoats before them.”
[35. ]“Procédure Criminelle du Châtelet.” Depositions 9, 20, 24, 30, 49, 61, 82, 115, 149, 155.
[36. ]“Procédure Criminelle du Châtelet.” Depositions 7, 30, 35, 40.—Cf. Lafayette, “Mémoires,” and Madame Campan, “Mémoires.”
[37. ]“Procédure Criminelle du Châtelet.” Deposition 24. A number of butcher-boys run after the carriages issuing from the Petite-Ecurie shouting out, “Don’t let the curs escape!”
[38. ]“Procédure Criminelle du Châtelet.” Depositions 101, 91, 89, and 17. M. de Miomandre, a body-guard, mildly says to the ruffians mounting the staircase: “My friends, you love your King, and yet you come to annoy him even in his palace!”
[39. ]Malonet, II. 2. “I felt no distrust,” says Lafayette in 1798; “the people promised to remain quiet.”
[40. ]“Procédure Criminelle du Châtelet.” Depositions 9, 16, 60, 128, 129, 130, 139, 158, 168, 170. M. du Repaire, body-guard, being sentry at the railing from two o’clock in the morning, a man passes his pike through the bars saying, “You embroidered ——, your turn will come before long.” M. du Repaire, “retires within the sentry-box without saying a word to this man, considering the orders that have been issued not to act.”
[41. ]“Procédure Criminelle du Châtelet.” Depositions 82, 170.—Madame Campan, ii. 87.—De Lavalette, i. 33.—Cf. Bertrand de Molleville, “Mémoires.”
[42. ]Duval, “Souvenirs de la Terreur,” i. 78. (Doubtful in almost everything, but here he is an eye-witness. He dined opposite the hair-dresser’s, near the railing of the Park of Saint-Cloud.) M. de Lally-Tollendal’s second letter to a friend. “At the moment the King entered his capital with two bishops of his council with him in the carriage, the cry was heard, “Off to the lantern with the bishops!”
[43. ]De Montlosier, I. 303.—Moniteur, sessions of the 8th, 9th, and 10th of October.—Malouet, ii. 9, 10, 20.—Mounier, “Recherches sur les Causes, etc.,” and “Addresse aux Dauphinois.”
[44. ]De Ferrières, i. 346. (On the 9th of October, 300 members have already taken their passports.) Mercure de France, No. of the 17th October. Correspondence of Mirabeau and M. de la Marck, i. 116, 126, 364.
[45. ]Correspondence of Mirabeau and M. de la Marck, i. 175. (The words of Monsieur to M. de la Marck.)