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CHAPTER II - 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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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.
[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.