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CHAPTER III - 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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Development of the ruling passion—I.Attitude of the nobles—Their moderate resistance—II.Workings of the popular imagination with respect to them—The monomania of suspicion—The nobles distrusted and treated as enemies—Situation of a gentleman on his domain—M. de Bussy—III.Domiciliary visits—The fifth jacquerie—Burgundy and Lyonnais in 1791—M. de Chaponay and M. Guillin-Dumoutet—IV.The nobles obliged to leave the rural districts—They take refuge in the towns—The dangers they incur—The eighty-two gentlemen of Caen—V.Persecutions in private life—VI.Conduct of officers—Their self-sacrifice—Disposition of the soldiery—Military outbreaks—Spread and increase of insubordination—Resignation of the officers—VII.Emigration and its causes—The first laws against the emigrants—VIII.Attitude of the nonjuring priests—How they become distrusted—Illegal arrests by local administrations—Violence or complicity of the National Guards—Outrages by the populace—Executive power in the south—The sixth jacquerie—Its two causes—Isolated outbreaks in the north, east, and west—General eruption in the south and in the centre—IX.General state of opinion—The three convoys of nonjuring priests on the Seine—Psychological aspect of the Revolution.
If popular passion ended in murder it was not because resistance was great or violent. On the contrary, never did an aristocracy undergo dispossession with so much patience, or employ less force in the defence of its prerogatives, or even of its property. To speak with exactness, the class in question receives blows without returning them, and when it does take up arms, it is always with the bourgeois and the National Guard, at the request of the magistrates, in conformity with the law, and for the protection of persons and property. The nobles try to avoid being either killed or robbed, nothing more: for nearly three years they raise no political banner. In the towns where they exert the most influence and which are denounced as rebellious, for example in Mende and Arles, their opposition is limited to the suppression of riots, the restraining of the common people, and ensuring respect for the law. It is not the new order of things against which they conspire, but against brutal disorder.—“At Mende,” says the municipal body,1 “we had the honour of being the first to furnish the contributions of 1790. We supplied the place of our bishop and installed his successor without disturbance, and without the assistance of any foreign force. . . . We dispersed the members of a cathedral body to which we were attached by the ties of blood and friendship; we dismissed all, from the bishop down to the children of the choir. We had but three communities of mendicant monks, and all three have been suppressed. We have sold all national possessions without exception.”—The commander of their gendarmerie is, in fact, an old member of the body-guard, while the superior officers of the National Guard are gentlemen, or belong to the order of Saint-Louis. It is very evident that, if they defend themselves against Jacobins, they are not insurgent against the National Assembly.—In Arles,2 which has put down its populace, which has armed itself, which has shut its gates, and which passes for a focus of royalist conspiracy, the commissioners sent by the King and by the National Assembly, men of discretion and of consideration, find nothing, after a month’s investigation, but submission to the decrees and zeal for the public welfare. “Such,” they say, “are the men who have been calumniated because, cherishing the Constitution, they hold fanaticism, demagogues, and anarchy, in horror. If the citizens had not roused themselves when the moment of danger arrived, they would have been slaughtered like their neighbours (of Avignon). It is this insurrection against crime which the brigands have slandered.” If their gates were shut it was because “the National Guard of Marseilles, the same which behaved so badly in the Comtat, flocked there under the pretext of maintaining liberty and of forestalling the counterrevolution, but, in reality, to pillage the town.” Vive la Nation! Vive la Loi! Vive le Roi! were the only cries heard at the very quiet and orderly elections that had just taken place. “The attachment of the citizens to the Constitution has been spoken of. . . . Obedience to the laws, the readiest disposition to discharge public contributions, were remarked by us among these pretended counterrevolutionists. Those who are subject to the license-tax came in crowds to the Hôtel-de-Ville.” Scarcely “was the bureau of receipts opened when it was filled with respectable people; those on the contrary who style themselves good patriots, republicans or anarchists, were not conspicuous on this occasion; but a very small number among them have made their submission. The rest are surprised at being called upon for money; they had been flattered by such different hopes.”
In short, during more than thirty months, and under a steady fire of threats, outrages, and spoliations, the nobles who remain in France neither commit nor undertake any hostile act against the Government that persecutes them. None of them, not even M. de Bouillé, attempts to carry out any real plan of civil war; I find but one resolute man in their ranks at this date, ready for action, and who labours to form one militant party against another militant party: he is really a politician and conspirator; he has an understanding with the Comte d’Artois; he gets petitions signed for the freedom of the King and of the Church; he organizes armed companies; he recruits the peasants; he prepares a Vendée for Languedoc and Provence; and this person is a bourgeois, Froment of Nismes.3 But, at the moment of action, he finds only three out of eighteen companies, supposed by him to be enlisted in his cause, that are willing to march with him. Others remain in their quarters until, Froment being overcome, they are found there and slaughtered; the survivors, who escape to Jalès, find, not a stronghold, but a temporary asylum, where they never succeed in transforming their inclinations into determinations.4 —The nobles too, like other Frenchmen, have been subject to the lasting pressure of monarchical centralization. They no longer form one body; they have lost the instinct of association. They no longer know how to act for themselves; they are the puppets of administration awaiting an impulse from the centre, while at the centre the King, their hereditary general, a captive in the hands of the people, commands them to be resigned and to do nothing. Moreover, like other Frenchmen, they have been brought up in the philosophy of the eighteenth century. “Liberty is so precious,” wrote the Duc de Brissac,5 “that it may well be purchased with some suffering; a destroyed feudalism will not prevent the good and the true from being respected and loved.”—They persist in this illusion for a long time and remain optimists. As they feel kindly towards the people, they cannot comprehend that the people should entertain other sentiments toward them; they firmly believe that the troubles are transient. Immediately on the proclamation of the Constitution they return in crowds from Spain, Belgium, and Germany; at Troyes there are not enough post-horses for many days to supply the emigrants who are coming back.6 Thus they accept not only the abolition of feudalism with civil equality, but also political equality and numerical sovereignty.
Some consideration for them, some outward signs of respect, a few bows, would, in all probability, have rallied them sincerely to democratic institutions. They would soon consent to be confounded with the crowd, to submit to the common level, and to live as private individuals. Had they been treated like the bourgeois or the peasant, their neighbours, had their property and persons been respected, they might have accepted the new régime without any bitterness of feeling. That the leading emigrant nobles and those forming a part of the old court carry on intrigues at Coblentz or at Turin is natural, since they have lost everything: authority, places, pensions, sinecures, pleasures, and the rest. But, to the gentry and inferior nobles of the provinces, chevaliers of Saint-Louis, subaltern officers, and resident proprietors, the loss is insignificant. The law has suppressed one-half of their seignorial dues; but by virtue of the same law their lands are no longer burdened with tithes. Popular elections will not provide them with places, but they did not enjoy them under ministerial favour. Little does it matter to them that power, whether ministerial or popular, has changed hands: they are not accustomed to its favours, and will pursue their ordinary avocations—the chase, promenading, reading, visiting, and conversing—provided they, like the first-comer, the grocer at the corner, or their farm-servant, find protection, safety, and security on the public road and in their dwellings.7
Popular passion, unfortunately, is a blind power, and, for lack of enlightenment, suffers itself to be guided by spectral illusions. Imaginary conceptions work, and work in conformity with the structure of the excited brain which has given birth to them. What if the ancient régime should return! What if we were obliged to restore the property of the clergy! What if we should be again forced to pay the salt-tax, the excise, the taille, and other dues which, thanks to the law, we no longer pay, besides other taxes and dues that we do not pay in spite of the law! What if all the nobles whose chateaux are burnt, and who have given rent acquittances at the point of the sword, should find some way to avenge themselves and recover their former privileges! Undoubtedly they brood over these things, make agreements amongst each other, and plot with the foreigners; at the first opportunity they will fall upon us: we must watch them, repress them, and, if needs be, destroy them.—This instinctive process of reasoning prevailed from the outset, and, in proportion as excesses increase, prevails to a much greater extent. The noble is ever the past, present, and future creditor, or, at the very least, a possible one, which means that he is the worst and most odious of enemies. All his ways are suspicious, even when he is doing nothing; whatever he may do it is with a view of arming himself.—M. de Gilliers, who lives with his wife and sister one league out of Romans in Dauphiny,8 amuses himself by planting trees and flowers; a few steps from his house, on another domain, M. de Montchorel, an old soldier, and M. Osmond, an old lawyer from Paris, with their wives and children, occupy their leisure hours in somewhat the same manner. M. de Gilliers having ordered and received wooden water-pipes, the report spreads that they are cannon. His guest, M. Servan, receives an English travelling-trunk, which is said to be full of pistols. When M. Osmond and M. Servan stroll about the country with pencils and drawing-paper, it is averred that they are preparing topographical plans for the Spaniards and Savoyards. The four carriages belonging to the two families go to Romans to fetch some guests: instead of four there are nineteen, and they are sent for aristocrats who are coming to hide away in underground passages. M. de Senneville, decorated with a cordon rouge (red ribbon), pays a visit on his return from Algiers: the decoration becomes a blue one, and the wearer is the Comte d’Artois in person. There is certainly a plot brewing, and at five o’clock in the morning eighteen communes (two thousand armed men) arrive before the doors of the two houses; shouts and threats of death last for eight hours; a gun fired a few paces off at the inmates happens to flash in the pan; a peasant who is aiming at them says to his neighbour, “Give me a twenty-four-sous piece, and I will plant both my balls in their bodies!” Finally, M. de Gilliers, who was absent, attending a baptism, returns with the Royal Chasseurs of Dauphiny and the National Guard of Romans, and with their assistance delivers his family.—It is only in the towns, that is, in a few towns, and for a very short time, that an inoffensive noble who is attacked obtains any aid; the phantoms which people create for themselves there are less gross; a certain degree of enlightenment, and a remnant of common sense, prevent the hatching of too absurd stories.—But in the dark recesses of rustic brains nothing can arrest the monomania of suspicion. Fancies multiply there like weeds in a dark hole: they take root and vegetate until they become belief, conviction, and certainty; they produce the fruit of hostility and hatred, homicidal and incendiary ideas. With eyes constantly fixed on the chateau, the village regards it as a Bastille which must be captured, and, instead of saluting the lord of the manor, it thinks only of firing at him.
Let us take up one of these local histories in detail.9 In the month of July, 1789, during the jacquerie in Mâconnais, the parish of Villiers appealed for assistance to its lord, M. de Bussy, a former colonel of dragoons. He had returned home, treated the people of his village to a dinner, and attempted to form them into a body of guards to protect themselves against incendiaries and brigands; along with the well-disposed men of the place “he patrolled every evening to restore tranquillity to the parish.” On a rumour spreading that “the wells were poisoned,” he placed sentinels alongside of all the wells except his own, “to prove that he was acting for the parish and not for himself.” In short, he did all he could to conciliate the villagers, and to interest them in the common safety.—But, by virtue of being a noble and an officer he is distrusted, and it is Perron, the syndic of the commune, to whom the commune now listens. Perron announces that the King “having abjured his sworn word,” no more confidence is to be placed in him, and, consequently, neither in his officers nor in the gentry. On M. de Bussy proposing to the National Guards that they should go to the assistance of the chateau of Thil, which is in flames, Perron prevents them, declaring that “these fires are kindled by the nobles and the clergy.” M. de Bussy insists, and entreats them to go, offering to abandon “his terrier,” that is to say all his seignorial dues, if they will only accompany him and arrest this destruction. They refuse to do so. He perseveres, and, on being informed that the chateau of Juillenas is in peril, he collects, after great efforts, a body of one hundred and fifty men of his parish, and, marching with them, arrives in time to save the chateau, which a mob was about to set on fire. But the popular excitement, which he had just succeeded in calming at Juillenas, has gained the upper hand amongst his own troop: the brigands have seduced his men, “which obliges him to lead them back, while, along the road, they seem inclined to fire at him.”—Having returned, he is followed with threats even to his own house: a band comes to attack his chateau; finding it on the defensive, they insist on being led to that of Courcelles.—In the midst of all this violence M. de Bussy, with about fifteen friends and tenants, succeeds in protecting himself, and, by dint of patience, energy, and cool blood, without killing or wounding a single man, ends in bringing back security throughout the whole canton. The jacquerie subsides, and it seems as if the newly restored order would be maintained. He sends for Madame de Bussy to return, and some months pass away.—The popular imagination, however, is poisoned, and whatever a gentleman may do, he is no longer tolerated on his estate. A few leagues from there, on April 29, 1790, M. de Bois-d’Aisy, deputy to the National Assembly, had returned to his parish to vote at the new elections.10 “Scarcely has he arrived,” when the commune of Bois-d’Aisy gives him notice through its mayor “that it will not regard him as eligible.” He attends the electoral meeting which is held in the church: there, a municipal officer in the pulpit inveighs against nobles and priests, and declares that they must not take part in the elections. All eyes turn upon M. de Bois-d’Aisy, who is the only noble present. Nevertheless, he takes the civic oath, which nearly costs him dear, for murmurs arise around him, and the peasants say that he ought to have been hanged like the lord of Sainte-Colombe, to prevent his taking the oath. In fact, the evening before, the latter, M. de Vitteaux, an old man of seventy-four years of age, was expelled from the primary assembly, then torn out of the house in which he had sought refuge, half killed with blows, and dragged through the streets to the open square; his mouth was stuffed with manure, a stick was thrust into his ears, and “he expired after a martyrdom of three hours.” The same day, in the church of the Capuchins, at Sémur, the rural parishes which met together excluded their priests and gentry in the same fashion. M. de Damas and M. de Sainte-Maure were beaten with clubs and stones; the curé of Massigny died after six stabs with a knife, and M. de Virieu saved himself as he best could.—With such examples before them it is probable that many of the nobles will no longer exercise their right of suffrage. M. de Bussy does not pretend to do it. He merely tries to prove that he is loyal to the nation, and that he meditates no wrong to the National Guard or to the people. He proposed, at the outset, to the volunteers of Mâcon to join them, along with his little troop; they refused to have him and thus the fault is not on his side. On the 14th of July, 1790, the day of the Federation on his domain, he sends all his people off to Villiers, furnished with the tricolour cockade. He himself, with three of his friends, attends the ceremony to take the oath, all four in uniform, with the cockade on their hats, without any weapons but their swords and a light cane in their hands. They salute the assembled National Guards of the three neighbouring parishes, and keep outside the enclosure so as not to give offence. But they have not taken into account the prejudices and animosities of the new municipal bodies. Perron, the former syndic, is now mayor. A man named Bailly, who is the village shoemaker, is another of the municipal officers; their councillor is an old dragoon, one of those soldiers probably who have deserted or been discharged, and who are the firebrands of almost every riot that takes place. A squad of a dozen or fifteen men leave the ranks and march up to the four gentlemen, who advance, hat in hand, to meet them. Suddenly the men aim at them, and Bailly, with a furious air, demands: “What the devil do you come here for?” M. de Bussy replies that, having been informed of the Federation, he had come to take the oath like the rest of the people. Bailly asks why he had come armed. M. de Bussy remarks that “having been in the service, the sword was inseparable from the uniform,” and had they come there without that badge they would have been at fault; besides, they must have observed that they had no other arms. Bailly, still in a rage, and, moreover, exasperated by such good reasons, turns round with his gun in his hand towards the leader of the squad and asks him three times in succession, “Commander, must I fire?” The commander not daring to take the responsibility of so gratuitous a murder, remains silent, and finally orders M. de Bussy to “clear out”; “which I did,” says M. de Bussy.—Nevertheless, on reaching home, he writes to the municipal authorities clearly setting forth the motive of his coming, and demands an explanation of the treatment he had received. Mayor Perron throws aside his letter without reading it, and, on the following day, on leaving the mass, the National Guards come, by way of menace, to load their guns in sight of M. de Bussy, round his garden.—A few days after this, at the instigation of Bailly, two other proprietors in the neighbourhood are assassinated in their houses. Finally, on a journey to Lyons, M. de Bussy learns “that the chateaux in Poitou are again in flames, and that the work is to begin again everywhere.”—Alarmed at all these indications, “he resolves to form a company of volunteers, which, taking up their quarters in his chateau, can serve the whole canton on a legal requisition.” He thinks that about fifteen brave men will be sufficient. He has already six men with him in the month of October, 1790; green coats are ordered for them, and buttons are bought for the uniform. Seven or eight domestics may be added to the number. In the way of arms and munitions the chateau contains two kegs of gunpowder which were on hand before 1789, seven blunderbusses, and five cavalry sabres, left there in passing by M. de Bussy’s old dragoons: to these must be added two double-barrelled fowling-pieces, three soldiers’ muskets, five brace of pistols, two poor common guns, two old swords, and a hunting-knife. Such is the garrison, such the arsenal, and these are the preparations, so well justified and so slight, which prejudice conjointly with gossip is about to transform into a great conspiracy.
The chateau, in effect, was an object of suspicion in the village from the very first day. All its visitors, whenever they went out or came in, with all the details of their actions, were watched, denounced, exaggerated, and misinterpreted. If, through the awkwardness or carelessness of so many inexperienced National Guards, a stray ball reaches a farmhouse one day in broad daylight, it comes from the chateau; it is the aristocrats who have fired upon the peasants.—There is the same state of suspicion in the neighbouring towns. The municipal body of Valence, hearing that two youths had ordered coats made “of a colour which seemed suspicious,” send for the tailor; he confesses the fact, and adds that “they intended to put the buttons on themselves.” Such a detail is alarming. An inquiry is set on foot and the alarm increases; people in a strange uniform have been seen passing on their way to the chateau of Villiers; from thence, on reaching the number of two hundred, they will go and join the garrison of Besançon; they will travel four at a time in order to avoid detection. At Besançon they are to meet a corps of forty thousand men, commanded by M. Autichamp, which corps is to march on to Paris to carry off the King, and break up the National Assembly. The National Guards along the whole route are to be forced into the lines. At a certain distance each man is to receive 1,200 francs, and, at the end of the expedition, is to be enrolled in the Artois Guard, or sent home with a recompense of 12,000 francs.—Meanwhile, the Prince de Condé, with forty thousand men, will come by the way of Pont Saint-Esprit in Languedoc, rally the disaffected of Carpentras and of the Jalès camp to his standard, and occupy Cette and the other seaports; and finally, the Comte d’Artois, on his side, will enter by Pont-Beauvoisin with thirty thousand men.—A horrible discovery! The municipal authorities of Valence immediately inform those of Lyons, Besançon, Chalons, Mâcon, and others beside. On the strength of this the municipal body of Mâcon, “considering that the enemies of the Revolution are ever making the most strenuous efforts to annihilate the Constitution which secures the happiness of this empire,” and “that it is highly important to frustrate their designs,” sends two hundred men of its National Guard to the chateau of Villiers, “empowered to employ armed force in case of resistance.” For greater security, this troop is joined by the National Guards of the three neighbouring parishes. M. de Bussy, on being told that they were springing over into his garden, seizes a gun and takes aim, but does not fire, and then, the requisition being legal, throws all open to them. There are found in the house six green coats, seven dozens of large buttons, and fifteen dozens of small ones. The proof is manifest. He explains what his project was and states his motive—it is a mere pretext. He makes a sign, as an order, to his valet—there is a positive complicity. M. de Bussy, his six guests, and the valet, are arrested and transported to Mâcon. A trial takes place, with depositions and interrogatories, in which the truth is elicited in spite of the most adverse testimony; it is clear that M. de Bussy never intended to do more than defend himself.—But prejudice is a blinder to hostile eyes. It cannot be admitted that, under a constitution which is perfect, an innocent man could incur danger; the objection is made to him that “it is not natural for an armed company to be formed to resist a massacre by which it is not menaced”; they are convinced beforehand that he is guilty. On a decree of the National Assembly the minister had ordered all accused persons to be brought to Paris by the constabulary and hussars; the National Guard of Mâcon, “in the greatest state of agitation,” declares that, “as it had arrested M. de Bussy, it would not consent to his transport by any other body. . . . Undoubtedly, the object is to allow him to escape on the way,” but it will know how to keep its captive secure. The guard, in fine, of its own authority, escorts M. de Bussy to Paris, into the Abbaye prison, where he is kept confined for several months—so long, indeed, that, after a new trial and investigation, the absurdity of the accusation being too palpable, they are obliged to set him at liberty.—Such is the situation of most of the gentry on their own estates, and M. de Bussy, even acquitted and vindicated, will act wisely in not returning home.
He would be nothing but a hostage there. Alone against thousands, sole survivor and representative of an abolished régime which all detest, it is the noble against whom everybody turns whenever a political shock seems to shake the new régime. He is at least disarmed, as he might be dangerous, and, in these popular executions, brutal instincts and appetites break loose like a bull that dashes through a door and rages through a dwelling-house. In the same department, some months later, on the news arriving of the arrest of the King at Varennes, “all nonjuring11 priests and ci-devant nobles are exposed to the horrors of persecution.” Bands forcibly enter houses to seize arms: Commarin, Grosbois, Montculot, Chaudenay, Créancé, Toisy, Chatellenot, and other houses are thus visited, and several are sacked. During the night of June 26–27, 1791, at the chateau of Créancé, “there is pillaging throughout; the mirrors are broken, the pictures are torn up, and the doors are broken down.” The master of the house, “M. de Comeau-Créancé, Knight of St. Louis, horribly maltreated, is dragged to the foot of the stairs, where he lies as if dead”: previous to this, “he was forced to give a considerable contribution, and to refund all penalties collected by him before the Revolution as the local lord of the manor.”—Two other proprietors in the neighbourhood, Knights of St. Louis, are treated in the same way. “That is the way in which three old and brave soldiers are rewarded for their services!” A fourth, a peaceable man, escapes beforehand, leaving his keys in the locks and his gardener in the house. Notwithstanding this, the doors and the clothes-presses were broken open, the pillaging lasting five hours and a half, with threats of setting the house on fire if the seigneur did not make his appearance. Questions were asked “as to whether he attended the mass of the new curé, whether he had formerly exacted fines, and finally, whether any of the inhabitants had any complaint to make against him.” No complaint is made; on the contrary, he is rather beloved.—But, in tumults of this sort, a hundred madmen and fifty rogues prescribe the law to the timid and the indifferent. These outlaws declared that “they were acting under orders; they compelled the mayor and prosecuting attorney to take part in their robberies; they likewise took the precaution to force a few honest citizens, by using the severest threats, to march along with them.” These people come the next day to apologize to the pillaged proprietor, while the municipal officers draw up a statement of the violence practised against them. The violence, nevertheless, is accomplished, and, as it will go unpunished, it is soon to be repeated.
A beginning and an end are already made in the two neighbouring departments. There, especially in the south, nothing is more instructive than to see how an outbreak stimulated by enthusiasm for the public good immediately degenerates under the impulse of private interest, and ends in crime.—Around Lyons,12 under the same pretext and at the same date, similar mobs perform similar visitations, and, on all these occasions, “the rent-rolls are burnt, and houses are pillaged and set on fire. Municipal authority, organized for the security of property, is in many hands but one facility more for its violation. The National Guard seems to be armed merely for the protection of robbery and disorder.”—For more than thirty years, M. de Chaponay, the father of six children of whom three are in the service, expended his vast income on his estate of Beaulieu, giving occupation to a number of persons, men, women, and children. After the hailstorm of 1761, which nearly destroyed the village of Moranée, he rebuilt thirty-three houses, furnished others with timber for the framework, supplied the commune with wheat, and, for several years, obtained for the inhabitants a diminution of their taxation. In 1790, he celebrated the Federation Festival on a magnificent scale, giving two banquets, one of a hundred and thirty seats, for the municipal bodies and officers of the National Guards in the vicinity, and the other of a thousand seats for the privates. If any of the gentry had reason to believe himself popular and safe it was certainly this man.—On the 24th of June, 1791, the municipal authorities of Moranée, Lucenay, and Chazelai, with their mayors and National Guards, in all nearly two thousand men, arrive at the chateau with drums beating and flags flying. M. de Chaponay goes out to meet them, and begs to know to what he owes “the pleasure” of their visit. They reply that they do not come to offend him, but to carry out the orders of the district, which oblige them to take possession of the chateau and to place in it a guard of sixty men: on the following day the “district” and the National Guard of Villefranche are to come and inspect it.—Be it noted that these orders are imaginary, for M. de Chaponay asks in vain to see them; they cannot be produced. The cause of their setting out, probably, is the false rumour that the National Guard of Villefranche is coming to deprive them of a booty on which they had calculated.—Nevertheless M. de Chaponay submits; he merely requests the municipal officers to make the search themselves and in an orderly manner. Upon this the commandant of the National Guard of Lucenay exclaims, with some irritation, that “all are equal and all must go in,” and at the same moment all rush forward. “M. de Chaponay orders the apartments to be opened; they immediately shut them up, purposely to let the sappers break through the doors with their axes.”—Everything is pillaged, “plate, assignats, stocks of linen, laces, and other articles; the trees of the avenues are hacked and mutilated; the cellars are emptied, the casks are rolled out on the terrace, the wine is suffered to run out, and the chateau keep is demolished. . . . The officers urge on those that are laggard.” Towards nine o’clock in the evening M. de Chaponay is informed by his servants that the municipal authorities have determined upon forcing him to sign an abandonment of his feudal dues and afterwards beheading him. He escapes with his wife through the only door which is left unguarded, wanders about all night, exposed to the gun-shots of the squads which are on his track, and reaches Lyons only on the following day.—Mean while the pillagers send him notice that if he does not abandon his rentals, they will cut down his forests and burn up everything on his estate. The chateau, indeed, is fired three distinct times, while, in the interval, the band sack another chateau at Bayère, and, on again passing by that of M. de Chaponay, demolish a dam which had cost 10,000 livres.—The public prosecutor, for his part, remains quiet, notwithstanding the appeals to him: he doubtless says to himself that a gentleman whose house has been searched is lucky to have saved his life, and that others, like M. Guillin-Dumoutet, for example, have not been as fortunate.
The latter gentleman, formerly captain of a vessel belonging to the India Company, afterwards Commandant at Senegal, now retired from active life, occupied his chateau of Poleymieux with his young wife and two infant children, his sisters, nieces, and sister-in-law—in all, ten women belonging to his family and domestic service—one negro servant, and himself, an old man of sixty years of age; here is a haunt of militant conspirators which must be disarmed as soon as possible.13 Unfortunately, a brother of M. Guillin, accused of treason to the nation, had been arrested ten months previously, which was quite sufficient for the clubs in the neighbourhood. In the month of December, 1790, the chateau had already been ransacked by the people of the parishes in the vicinity: nothing was found, and the Department first censured and afterwards interdicted these arbitrary searches. On this occasion they will manage things better.—On the 26th of June, 1791, at ten o’clock in the morning, the municipal body of Poleymieux, along with two other bodies in their scarfs, and three hundred National Guards, are seen approaching, under the usual pretext of searching for arms. Madame Guillin presents herself, reminds them of the interdict of the Department, and demands the legal order under which they act. They refuse to give it. M. Guillin descends in his turn and offers to open his doors to them if they will produce the order. They have no order to show him. During the colloquy a certain man named Rosier, a former soldier who had deserted twice, and who is now in command of the National Guard, seizes M. Guillin by the throat; the old captain defends himself, presents a pistol at the man, which misses fire, and then, throwing the fellow off, withdraws into the house, closing the door behind him.—Soon after this, the tocsin sounds in the neighbourhood, thirty parishes start up, and two thousand men arrive. Madame Guillin, by entreaties, succeeds in having delegates appointed, chosen by the crowd, to inspect the chateau. These delegates examine the apartments, and declare that they can find nothing but the arms ordinarily kept on hand. This declaration is of no effect: the multitude, whose excitement is increased by waiting, feel their strength, and have no idea of returning empty-handed. A volley is fired, and the chateau windows are riddled with balls. As a last effort Madame Guillin, with her two children in her arms, comes out, and going to the municipal officers, calls upon them to do their duty. Far from doing this they retain her as a hostage, and place her in such a position that, if there is firing from the chateau, she may receive the bullets. Meanwhile, the doors are forced, the house is pillaged from top to bottom, and then set on fire; M. Guillin, who seeks refuge in the keep, is almost reached by the flames. At this moment, some of the assailants, less ferocious than the rest, prevail upon him to descend, and they answer for his life. Scarcely has he shown himself when others fall on him; they cry that he must be killed, that he has a life-rent of 36,000 francs from the State, and “this will be so much saved for the nation.” “He is hacked to pieces alive”; his head is cut off and borne upon a pike; his body is cut up, and sent piece by piece to each parish; several wash their hands in his blood, and besmear their faces with it. It seems as if tumult, clamour, incendiarism, robbery, and murder had aroused in them not only the cruel instincts of the savage, but the carnivorous appetites of the brute; some of them, seized by the gendarmerie at Chasselay, had roasted the dead man’s arm and dined upon it.14 —Madame Guillin, who is saved through the compassion of two of the inhabitants of the place, succeeds, after encountering many dangers, in reaching Lyons; she and her children lost everything, “the chateau, its dependencies, the crop of the preceding year, wine, grain, furniture, plate, ready money, assignats, notes, and contracts.” Ten days later, the department gives notice to the National Assembly that “similar projects are still being plotted and arranged, and that there are (always) threats of burning chateaux and rent-rolls”; that no doubt of this can possibly exist: “the inhabitants of the country only await the opportunity, to renew these scenes of horror.”15
Amidst these multiplied and reviving jacqueries there is nothing left but flight, and the nobles, driven out of the rural districts, seek refuge in the towns. But here also a jacquerie awaits them.—As the effects of the Constitution are developed, successive administrations become feebler and more partial; the unbridled populace has become more excitable and more violent; the enthroned club has become more suspicious and more despotic. Henceforth the club, through or in opposition to the administrative bodies, leads the populace, and the nobles will find it as hostile as the peasants. All their reunions, even when liberal, are closed like that in Paris, through the illegal interference of mobs, or through the iniquitous action of the popular magistrates. All their associations, even when legal and salutary, are broken up by brute force or by municipal intolerance. They are punished for having thought of defending themselves, and slaughtered because they try to avoid assassination.—Three or four hundred gentlemen, who were threatened on their estates, sought refuge with their families in Caen;16 and they trusted to find one there, for, by three different resolutions, the municipal body promised them aid and protection. Unfortunately, the club thinks otherwise, and, on August 23, 1791, prints and posts up a list of their names and residences, declaring that since “their suspected opinions have compelled them to abandon the rural districts,” they are emigrants in the interior; from which it follows that “their conduct must be scrupulously watched,” because “it may be the effect of some dangerous plot against the country.” Fifteen are especially designated; among others “the former curé of Saint-Loup, the great bloodhound of the aristocrats, and all of them very suspicious persons, harbouring the worst intentions.”—Thus denounced and singled out, it is evident that they can no longer sleep tranquilly: moreover, now that their addresses are published, they are openly threatened with domiciliary visits and violence. As to the administrative authorities, their interference cannot be depended on; the department itself gives notice to the minister that, as the law stands, it cannot put the chateau in the hands of the regulars,17 as this would, it is said, excite the National Guard. “Besides, how without an army is this post to be wrested from the hands which hold it? It is impossible with only the resources which the Constitution affords us.” Thus, in the defence of the oppressed, the Constitution is a dead letter.—Hence it is that the refugees, finding protection only in themselves, undertake to help each other. No association can be more justifiable, more pacific, more innocent. Its object is “to demand the execution of the laws constantly violated, and to protect persons and property.” In each quarter they will try to bring together “all good citizens”; they will form a committee of eight members, and, in each committee, there will always be “an officer of justice or a member of the administrative body with an officer or subaltern of the National Guard.” Should any citizen be attacked in person or property the association will draw up a petition in his favour. Should any particular act of violence require the employment of public force, the members of the district will assemble under the orders of the officer of justice and of the National Guard to enforce obedience. “In all possible cases” they “will avoid with the greatest care any insult of individuals; they will consider that the object of the meeting is solely to ensure public peace, and that protection from the law to which every citizen is entitled.”—In short, they are volunteer constables. Turn the inquiry which way they will, a hostile municipality and a prejudiced tribunal can put no other construction upon it; they find nothing else. The only evidence against one of the leaders is a letter in which he tries to prevent a gentleman from going to Coblentz, striving to prove to him that he will be more useful at Caen. The principal evidence against the association is that of a townsman whom they wished to enrol, and of whom they demanded his opinions. He had stated that he was in favour of the execution of the laws; upon which they told him: “In this case you belong to us, and are more of an aristocrat than you think you are.” Their aristocracy, in effect, consists wholly in the suppression of brigandage. No claim is more unpalatable, because it interposes an obstacle to the arbitrary acts of a party which thinks it has a right to do as it pleases.—On the 4th of October the regiment of Aunis left the town, and all good citizens were handed over to the militia, “in uniform or not,” they alone being armed. That day, for the first time in a long period, M. Bunel, the former curé of Saint-Jean, with the consent and assistance of his sworn successor, officiates at the mass. There is a large gathering of the orthodox, which causes uneasiness among the patriots. The following day M. Bunel is to say mass again; whereupon, through the municipal authorities, the patriots forbid him to officiate, to which he submits. Nevertheless, for lack of due notice, a crowd of the faithful have arrived and the church is filled. A dangerous mob! The patriots and National Guards arrive “to preserve order,” which has not been disturbed, and which they alone disturb. Threatening words are exchanged between the servants of the nobles and the National Guard. The latter draw their swords, and a young man is hewn down and trampled on; M. de Saffrey, who comes to his assistance unarmed, is himself cut down and pierced with bayonets, and two others are wounded.—Meanwhile, in a neighbouring street, M. Achard de Vagogne, seeing a man maltreated by armed men, approaches, in order to make peace. The man is shot down and M. Achard is covered with sabre and bayonet gashes: “there is not a thread on him which is not dyed with the blood that ran down even into his shoes.” In this condition he is led to the chateau along with M. de Saffrey. Others break down the door of the house of M. du Rosel, an old officer of seventy-five years, of which fifty-nine have been passed in the service, and pursue him even over the wall of his garden. A fourth squad seizes M. d’Héricy, another venerable officer, who, like M. du Rosel, was ignorant of all that was going on, and was quietly leaving for his country seat.—The town is full of tumult, and, through the orders of the municipal authorities, the general alarm is sounded.
The time for the special constables to act has come; about sixty gentlemen, with a number of merchants and artisans, set out. According to the rules of their association, and with significant scruple, they beg an officer of the National Guard, who happens to be passing, to put himself at their head; they reach the Place Saint-Sauveur, encounter the superior officer sent after them by the municipal authorities, and, at his first command, follow him to the Hôtel-de-Ville. On reaching this, without any resistance on their part, they are arrested, disarmed, and searched. The rules and regulations of their league are found on their persons; they are evidently hatching a counterrevolution. The uproar against them is terrible. “To keep them safe,” they are conducted to the chateau, while many of them are cruelly treated on the way by the crowd. Others, seized in their houses—M. Levaillant and a servant of M. d’Héricy—are carried off bleeding and pierced with bayonets. Eighty-two prisoners are thus collected, while fears are constantly entertained that they may escape. “Their bread and meat are cut up into little pieces, to see that nothing is concealed therein; the surgeons, who are likewise treated as aristocrats, are denied access to them.” Nocturnal visits are, at the same time, paid to their houses; every stranger is ordered to present himself at the Hôtel-de-Ville, to state why he comes to the town to reside, and to give up his arms; every nonjuring priest is forbidden to say mass. The Department, which is disposed to resist, has its hands tied and confesses its powerlessness. “The people,” it writes, “know their strength: they know that we have no power; excited by disreputable citizens, they permit whatever serves their passions or their interests; they influence our deliberations, and force us to those which, under other circumstances, we should carefully avoid.”—Three days after this the victors celebrate their triumph “with drums, music, and lighted torches; the people are using hammers to destroy on the mansions the coats-of-arms which had previously been covered over with plaster”; the defeat of the aristocrats is accomplished.—And yet their innocence is so clearly manifest that the Legislative Assembly itself cannot help recognising it. After eleven weeks of durance the order is given to set them free, with the exception of two, a youth of less than eighteen years and an old man, almost an octogenarian, on whom two letters, misunderstood, still leave a shadow of suspicion.—But it is not certain that the people are disposed to give them up. The National Guard refuses to discharge them in open daylight and serve as their escort. Even the evening before “numerous groups of women, a few men mingled with them, talk of murdering all those fellows the moment they set foot outside the chateau.” They have to be let out at two o’clock in the morning, secretly, under a strong guard, and to leave the town at once as six months before they left the rural districts.—Neither in the country nor in the town18 are they under the protection of civil or religious law; a gentleman, who is not compromised in the affair, remarks that their situation is worse than that of Protestants and vagabonds during the worst years of the ancient régime. “Does not the law allow (nonjuring) priests the liberty of saying mass? Why then can we not listen to their mass except at the risk of our lives? Does not the law command all citizens to preserve the public peace? Why then are those whom the cry to arms has summoned forth to maintain public order, assailed as aristocrats? Why is the refuge of citizens which the laws have declared sacred, violated without orders, without accusation, without any appearance of wrong-doing? Why are all prominent citizens and those who are well off disarmed in preference to others? Are weapons exclusively made for those but lately deprived of them and who abuse the use of them? Why should one be on an equality for purposes of payment, and distinguished only for purposes of annoyance and insult?”—He has spoken right, and that which rules henceforth is an aristocracy in an inverse sense, contrary to the law, and yet more contrary to nature. For, by a violent inversion, the lower grades in the graduated scale of civilisation and culture now are found uppermost, while the superior grades are found undermost. The Constitution having suppressed inequality, this has again arisen in an inverse sense. The populace, both of town and country, taxes, imprisons, pillages, and slays more arbitrarily, more brutally, more unjustly than feudal barons, and for its serfs or villains it has its ancient chieftains.
Let us suppose that, in order not to excite suspicion, they are content to be without arms, to form no more associations, not to attend elections, to shut themselves up at home, to strictly confine themselves within the harmless precincts of domestic life. The same distrust, the same animosity, still pursues them there.—At Cahors,19 where the municipal authorities, in spite of the law, had just expelled the Carthusians who, under legal sanction, chose to remain and live in common, two of the monks, before their departure, give to M. de Beaumont, their friend and neighbour, four dwarf pear-trees and some onions in blossom in their garden. On the strength of this, the municipal body decree that “the sieur Louis de Beaumont, formerly count, is guilty of having audaciously and maliciously damaged national property,” condemns him to pay a fine of three hundred livres, and orders “that the four pear-trees, pulled up in the so-called Carthusian garden, be brought on the following day, Wednesday, to the door of the said sieur de Beaumont, and there remain for four consecutive days, guarded, day and night, by two fusiliers, at the expense of the said sieur de Beaumont; and upon the said trees shall be placed the following inscription, to wit: Louis de Beaumont, destroyer of the national property. And the judgment herewith rendered shall be printed to the number of one thousand copies, read, published, and posted at the expense of the said sieur de Beaumont, and duly addressed throughout the department of Lot to the districts and municipalities thereof, as well as to all societies of the Friends of the Constitution and of Liberty.” Every line of this legal invective discloses the malignant envy of the local recorder, who revenges himself for having formerly bowed too low.—The following year, M. de Beaumont, having formally bought in, under notarial sanction, a church which was sold by the district, along with the ornaments and objects of worship it contained, the mayor and municipal officers, followed by a lot of workmen, come and carry away and destroy everything—confessionals, altars, and even the saint’s canonised body, which had been interred for one hundred and fifty years: so that, after their departure, “the edifice resembled a vast barn filled with ruins and rubbish.”20 It must be noted that, at this very time, M. de Beaumont is military commandant at Perigord. The treatment he undergoes shows what is in reserve for ordinary nobles. I do not recommend them to attend official sales of property.21 —Will they even be free in their domestic enjoyments, and on entering a drawing-room are they sure of quietly passing an evening there?—At Paris, even, a number of persons of rank, among them the ambassadors of Denmark and Venice, are listening to a concert in a mansion in the Faubourg Saint-Honoré, given by a foreign virtuoso, when a cart enters the court loaded with fifty bundles of hay, the monthly supply for the horses. A patriot, who sees the cart driven in, imagines that the King is concealed underneath the hay, and that he has come there for the purpose of plotting with the aristocrats about his flight. A mob gathers, and the National Guard arrives, along with a commissioner, while four grenadiers stand guard around the cart. The commissioner, in the meantime, inspects the hotel; he sees music-stands, and the arrangements for a supper; comes back, has the cart unloaded, and states to the people that he has found nothing suspicious. The people do not believe him, and demand a second inspection. This is made by twenty-four delegates; the bundles of hay, moreover, are counted, and several of them are unbound, but all in vain. Disappointed and irritated, having anticipated a spectacle, the crowd insists that all the invited guests, men and women, should leave the house on foot, and only get into their carriages at the end of the street. “First comes a file of empty carriages”; next, “all the guests in their evening attire, and the ladies in full dress, trembling with fear, with downcast eyes, between two rows of men, women, and children, who stare them in the face, and overwhelm them with insults.”22
Suspected of holding secret meetings, and called to account in his own house, has the noble at least the right to frequent a public saloon, to eat in a restaurant, and to take the fresh air in a balcony?—The Vicomte de Mirabeau, who has just dined in the Palais-Royal, stands at the window to take the air, and is recognised; there is a gathering, and the cry is soon heard, “Down with Mirabeau-Tonneau (barrel-Mirabeau)!”23 “Gravel is flung at him from all sides, and occasionally stones. One of the window-panes is broken by a stone. Immediately picking up the stone, he shows it to the crowd, and, at the same time, quietly places it on the sill of the window, in token of moderation.” There is a loud outcry; his friends force him to withdraw inside, and Bailly, the mayor, comes in person to quiet the aggressors. In this case there are good reasons for their hatred. The gentleman whom they stone is a bon-vivant, large and fat, fond of rich epicurean suppers; and on this account the populace imagine him to be a monster, and even worse, an ogre. With regard to these nobles, whose greatest misfortune is to be overpolished and too worldly, the overexcited imagination revives its old nursery tales.—M. de Montlosier, living in the Rue Richelieu, finds that he is watched on his way to the National Assembly. One woman especially, from thirty to thirty-two years of age, who sold meat at a stall in the Passage Saint-Guillaume, “regarded him with special attention. As soon as she saw him coming she took up a long, broad knife which she sharpened before him, casting furious looks at him.” He asks his housekeeper what this means. Two children of that quarter have disappeared, carried off by gipsies, and the report is current that M. de Montlosier, the Marquis de Mirabeau, and other deputies of the “right,” meet together “to hold orgies in which they eat little children.”
In this state of public opinion there is no crime which is not imputed to them, no insult which is not freely bestowed on them. “Traitors, tyrants, conspirators, assassins,” such is the current vocabulary of the clubs and newspapers in relation to them. “Aristocrat” signifies all this, and whoever dares to refute the calumny is himself an aristocrat.—At the Palais-Royal, it is constantly repeated that M. de Castries, in his last duel, made use of a poisoned sword, and an officer of the navy who protests against this false report is himself accused, tried on the spot, and condemned “to be shut up in the guard-house or thrown into the fountain.”24 —The nobles must beware of defending their honour in the usual way and of meeting an insult with a challenge! At Castelnau, near Cahors,25 one of those who, the preceding year, marched against the incendiaries, M. de Bellud, Knight of Saint-Louis, on coming down the public square with his brother, a guardsman, is greeted with cries of “The aristocrat! to the lantern!” His brother is in a morning coat and slippers, and not wishing to get into trouble they do not reply. A squad of the National Guard, passing by, repeats the cry, but they still remain silent. The shout continues, and M. de Bellud, after some time has elapsed, begs the captain to order his men to be quiet. He refuses, and M. de Bellud demands satisfaction outside the town. At these words the National Guards rush at M. de Bellud with fixed bayonets. His brother receives a sabre-cut on the neck, while he, defending himself with his sword, slightly wounds the captain and one of the men. The two brothers, alone against the whole body, fight on, retreating to their house, in which they are blockaded. Towards seven o’clock in the evening, two or three hundred National Guards from Cahors arrive to reinforce the besiegers. The house is taken, and the guardsman, escaping across the fields, sprains his ancle and is captured. M. de Bellud, who has found his way into another house, continues to defend himself there: the house is set on fire and burnt, together with two others alongside of it. Taking refuge in a cellar he still keeps on firing. Bundles of lighted straw are thrown in at the air-holes. Almost suffocated, he springs out, kills his first assailant with a shot from one pistol, and himself with another. His head is cut off with that of his servant. The guardsman is made to kiss the two heads, and, on his demanding a glass of water, they fill his mouth with the blood which drops from the severed head of his brother. The victorious gang then set out for Cahors, with the two heads stuck on bayonets, and the guardsman in a cart. It comes to a halt before a house in which a literary circle meets, suspected by the Jacobin club. The wounded man is made to descend from the cart and is hung: his body is riddled with balls, and everything the house contains is broken up, “the furniture is thrown out of the windows, and the house pulled down.”—Every popular execution is of this character, at once prompt and complete, similar to those of an Oriental monarch who, on the instant, without inquiry or trial, avenges his offended majesty, and, for every offence, knows no other punishment than death. At Tulle, M. de Massy,26 lieutenant of the “Royal Navarre,” having struck a man that insulted him, is seized in the house in which he took refuge, and, in spite of the three administrative bodies, is at once massacred.—At Brest, two antirevolutionary caricatures having been drawn with charcoal on the walls of the military coffee-house, the excited crowd lay the blame of it on the officers; one of these, M. Patry, takes it upon himself, and, on the point of being torn to pieces, attempts to kill himself. He is disarmed, but, when the municipal authorities come to his assistance, they find him “already dead through an infinite number of wounds,” and his head is borne about on the end of a pike.27
Much better would it be to live under an Eastern king, for he is not found everywhere, nor always furious and mad, like the populace. Nowhere are the nobles safe, neither in public nor in private life, neither in the country nor in the towns, neither associated together nor separate. Popular hostility hangs over them like a dark and threatening cloud from one end of the territory to the other, and the tempest bursts upon them in a continuous storm of vexations, outrages, calumnies, robberies, and acts of violence; here, there, and almost daily, bloody thunderbolts fall haphazard on the most inoffensive heads, on an old man asleep, on a Knight of Saint-Louis taking a walk, on a family at prayers in a church. But, in this aristocracy, crushed down in some places and attacked everywhere, the thunderbolt finds one predestined group which attracts it and on which it constantly falls, and that is the corps of officers.
With the exception of a few fops, frequenters of drawing-rooms, and the court favourites who have reached a high rank through the intrigues of the antechamber, it was in this group, especially in the medium ranks, that true moral nobility was then found. Nowhere in France was there so much tried, substantial merit. A man of genius, who associated with them in his youth, rendered them this homage: many among them are men possessing “the most amiable characters and minds of the highest order.”28 Indeed, for most of them, military service was not a career of ambition, but an obligation of birth. It was the rule in each noble family for the eldest son to enter the army, and advancement was of but little consequence. He discharged the debt of his rank; this sufficed for him, and, after twenty or thirty years of service, the order of Saint-Louis, and sometimes a meagre pension, were all he had a right to expect. Amongst nine or ten thousand officers, the great majority coming from the lower and poorer class of provincial nobles, body-guards, lieutenants, captains, majors, lieutenant-colonels, and even colonels, have no other pretension. Satisfied with favours29 restricted to their subordinate rank, they leave the highest grades of the service to the heirs of the great families, to the courtiers or to the parvenus at Versailles, and content themselves with remaining the guardians of public order, and the brave defenders of the State. Under this system, when the heart is not depraved it becomes exalted; it is made a point of honour to serve without compensation; there is nothing but the public welfare in view, and all the more because, at this moment, it is the absorbing topic of all minds and of all literature. Nowhere has practical philosophy, that which consists in a spirit of abnegation, more deeply penetrated than among this unrecognised nobility. Under a polished, brilliant, and sometimes frivolous exterior, they have a serious soul; the old sentiment of honour is converted into one of patriotism. Set to execute the laws, with force in hand to maintain peace through fear, they feel the importance of their mission, and, for two years, fulfil its duties with extraordinary moderation, gentleness, and patience, not only at the risk of their lives, but amidst great and multiplied humiliations, through the sacrifice of their authority and self-esteem, through the subjection of their intelligent will to the dictation and incapacity of the masters imposed upon them. For a noble officer to respond to the requisitions of an extemporised bourgeois municipal body,30 to subordinate his competence, courage, and prudence to the blunders and alarms of five or six inexperienced, frightened, and timid attorneys, to place his energy and daring at the service of their presumption, feebleness, and lack of decision, even when their orders or refusal of orders are manifestly absurd or injurious, even when they are opposed to the previous instructions of his general or of his minister, even when they end in the plundering of a market, the burning of a chateau, the assassination of an innocent person, even when they impose upon him the obligation of witnessing crime with his sword sheathed and arms folded31 —this is a hard task. It is hard for the noble officer to see independent, popular, and bourgeois troops organized in the face of his own troops, rivals and even hostile, in any case ten times as numerous and no less exacting than sensitive—hard to be expected to show them deference and extend civilities to them, to surrender to them posts, arsenals, and citadels, to treat their chiefs as equals, however ignorant or unworthy, and whatever they may be—here a lawyer, there a Capuchin, elsewhere a brewer or a shoemaker, most generally some demagogue, and, in many a town or village, some deserter or soldier drummed out of his regiment for bad conduct, perhaps one of the noble’s own men, a scamp whom he has formerly discharged with the yellow cartouch, telling him to go and be hung elsewhere. It is hard for the noble officer to be publicly and daily calumniated on account of his rank and title, to be characterized as a traitor at the club and in the newspapers, to be designated by name as an object of popular suspicion and fury, to be hooted at in the streets and in the theatre, to submit to the disobedience of his men, to be denounced, insulted, arrested, fleeced, hunted down, and slaughtered by them and by the populace, to see before him a cruel, ignoble, and unavenged death—that of M. de Launay, murdered at Paris—that of M. de Belzunce, murdered at Caen—that of M. de Beausset, murdered at Marseilles—that of M. de Voisins, murdered at Valence—that of M. de Rully, murdered at Bastia, or that of M. de Rochetailler, murdered at Port-au-Prince.32 All this is endured by the officers among the nobles. Not one of the municipalities, even Jacobin, can find any pretext which will warrant the charge of disobeying orders. Through tact and deference they avoid all conflict with the National Guards. Never do they give provocation, and, even when insulted, rarely defend themselves. Their gravest faults consist of imprudent conversations, vivacious expressions, and witticisms. Like good watch-dogs amongst a frightened herd which trample them under foot, or pierce them with their horns, they allow themselves to be pierced and trampled on without biting, and would remain at their post to the end were they not driven away from it.
All to no purpose: doubly suspicious as members of a proscribed class, and as heads of the army, it is against them that public distrust excites the most frequent explosions, and so much the more as the instrument they handle is singularly explosive. Recruited by volunteer enlistments “amongst a passionate, turbulent, and somewhat debauched people,” the army is composed of “all that are most fiery, most turbulent, and most debauched in the nation.”33 Add to these the sweepings of the alms-houses, and you find a good many blackguards in uniform! When we consider that the pay is small, the food bad, discipline severe, no promotion, and desertion endemic, we are no longer surprised at the general disorder: license, to such men, is too powerful a temptation. With wine, women, and money they have from the first been made turncoats, and from Paris the contagion has spread to the provinces. In Brittany,34 the grenadiers and chasseurs of Ile-de-France “sell their coats, their guns, and their shoes, exacting advances in order to consume it in the tavern”; fifty-six soldiers of Penthièvre “wanted to murder their officers,” and it is foreseen that, left to themselves, they will soon, for lack of pay, “betake themselves to the highways, to rob and assassinate.” In Eure-et-Loir, the dragoons,35 with sabre and pistols in hand, visit the farmers’ houses and take bread and money, while the foot soldiers of the “Royal-Comtois” and the dragoons of the “Colonel-Général” desert in bands in order to go to Paris, where amusement is to be had. The main thing with them is “to have a jolly time.” In fact, the extensive military insurrections of the earliest date, those of Paris, Versailles, Besançon, and Strasbourg, began or ended with a revel.—Out of these depths of gross desires there has sprung up natural or legitimate ambitions. A number of soldiers, for twenty years past, have learned how to read, and think themselves qualified to be officers. One-quarter of those enlisted, moreover, are young men born in good circumstances, and whom a caprice has thrown into the army. They choke in this narrow, low, dark, confined passage where the privileged by birth close up the issue, and they will march over their chiefs to secure advancement. These are the discontented, the disputants, the orators of the mess-room, and between these barrack politicians and the politicians of the street an alliance is at once formed.—Starting from the same point they march on to the same end, and the imagination which has laboured to blacken the Government in the minds of the people, blackens the officers in the minds of the soldiers.
The Treasury is empty and there are arrears of pay. The towns, burdened with debt, no longer furnish their quotas of supplies; and at Orleans, with the distress of the municipality before them, the Swiss of Chateauvieux were obliged to impose on themselves a stoppage of one sou per day and per man to have wood in winter.36 Grain is scarce, the flour is spoilt, and the army bread, which was bad, has become worse. The administration, worm-eaten by old abuses, is deranged through the new disorder, the soldiers suffering as well through its dissolution as through their extravagance.—They think themselves robbed and they complain, at first with moderation; and justice is done to their well-founded claims. Soon they exact accounts, and these are made out for them. At Strasbourg, on these being verified before Kellermann and a commissioner of the National Assembly, it is proved that they have not been wronged out of a sou; nevertheless a gratification of six francs a head is given to them, and they cry out that they are content and have nothing more to ask for. A few months after this fresh complaints arise, and there is a new verification: an ensign, accused of malversation and whom they wished to hang, is tried in their presence; he is clearly irresponsible; none of them can cite against him a proven charge, and, once more, they remain silent. On other occasions, after hearing the reading of registers for several hours, they yawn, cease to listen, and go outside to get something to drink.—But the figures of their demands, as these have been summed up by their mess-room calculators, remain implanted in their brains; they have taken root there, and are constantly springing up without any account or refutation being able to extirpate them. No more writings nor speeches—what they want is money: 11,000 livres for the Beaune regiment, 39,500 livres for that of Forez, 44,000 livres for that of Salm, 200,000 livres for that of Chateauvieux, and similarly for the rest. So much the worse for the officers if the money-chest does not suffice for them; let them assess each other, or borrow on their note of hand from the municipality, or from the rich men of the town.—For greater security, in divers places, the soldiers take possession of the military chest and mount guard around it: it belongs to them, since they form the regiment, and, in any case, it is better that it should be in their hands than in suspected hands.—Already, on the 4th of June, 1790, the Minister of War announces to the Assembly that “the military body threatens to fall into the completest state of anarchy.” His report shows “the most incredible pretensions put forth in the most plain-spoken way—orders without force, chiefs without authority, the military chest and flags carried away, the orders of the King himself openly defied, the officers condemned, insulted, threatened, driven off, some of them even captive amidst their own troops, leading a precarious life in the midst of mortifications and humiliations, and, as the climax of horror, commanders slaughtered under the eyes and almost in the arms of their own soldiers.”
It is much worse after the July Federation. Regaled, caressed, and indoctrinated at the clubs, their delegates, inferior officers and privates, return to the regiment Jacobins; and henceforth correspond with the Jacobins of Paris, “receiving their instructions and reporting to them.”37 —Three weeks later, the Minister of War gives notice to the National Assembly that there is no limit to the license in the army. “Couriers, the bearers of fresh complaints, are arriving constantly.” In one place “a statement of the fund is demanded, and it is proposed to divide it.” Elsewhere, a garrison, with drums beating, leaves the town, deposes its officers, and comes back sword in hand. Each regiment is governed by a committee of soldiers. “It is in this committee that the detention of the lieutenant-colonel of Poitou has been twice arranged; here it is that ‘Royal-Champagne’ conceived the insurrection” by which it refused to recognise a sublieutenant sent to it. “Every day the minister’s cabinet is filled with soldiers who are deputed to him, and who proudly come and intimate to him the will of their constituents.” Finally, at Strasbourg, seven regiments, each represented by three delegates, formed a military congress. The same month, the terrible insurrection of Nancy breaks out—three regiments in revolt, the populace with them, the arsenal pillaged, three hours of furious fighting in the streets, the insurgents firing from the windows of the houses and from the cellar openings, five hundred dead among the victors, and three thousand among the vanquished.—The following month, and for six weeks,38 there is another insurrection, less bloody, but more extensive, better arranged, and more obstinate, that of the whole squadron at Brest, a mutiny of twenty thousand men, at first against their admiral and their officers, then against the new penal code and against the National Assembly itself. The latter, after remonstrating in vain, is obliged not only not to take rigorous measures, but again to revise its laws.39
From this time forth, I cannot enumerate the constant outbreaks in the fleet and in the army.—Authorised by the minister, the soldier goes to the club, where he is repeatedly told that his officers, being aristocrats, are traitors. At Dunkirk, he is additionally taught how to get rid of them. Clamours, denunciations, insults, musket-shots—these are the natural means, and they are put in practice: but there is another, recently discovered, by which an energetic officer of whom they are afraid may be driven away. Some patriotic bully is found who comes and insults him. If the officer fights and is not killed, the municipal authorities have him arraigned, and his chiefs send him off along with his seconds “in order not to disturb the harmony between the soldier and the citizen.” If he declines the proposed duel, the contempt of his men obliges him to quit the regiment. In either case he is got out of the way.40 —They have no scruples in relation to him. Present or absent, a noble officer must certainly be plotting with his emigrant companions; and on this a story is concocted. Formerly, to prove that sacks of flour were being thrown into the river, the soldiers alleged that these sacks were tied with blue cords (cordons bleus). Now, to confirm the belief that an officer is conspiring with Coblentz, it suffices to state that he rides a white horse; a certain captain, at Strasbourg, barely escapes being cut to pieces for this crime; “the devil could not get it out of their heads that he was acting as a spy, and that the little grey-hound” which accompanies him on his rides “is used to make signals.”—One year after, at the time when the National Assembly completes its work, M. de Lameth, M. Fréteau, and M. Alquier state before it that Luckner, Rochambeau, and the most popular generals, “no longer are responsible for anything.” The Auvergne regiment has driven away its officers and forms a separate society, which obeys no one. The second battalion of Beaune is on the point of setting fire to Arras. It is almost necessary to lay siege to Phalsbourg, whose garrison has mutinied. Here, “disobedience to the general’s orders is formal.” There “are soldiers who have to be urged to stand sentinel; whom they dare not put in confinement for discipline; who threaten to fire on their officers; who stray off the road, pillage everything, and take aim at the corporal who tries to bring them back.” At Blois, a part of the regiment “has just arrived without either clothes or arms, the soldiers having sold all on the road to provide for their debauchery.” One among them, delegated by his companions, proposes to the Jacobins at Paris to “de-aristocratise” the army by cashiering all the nobles. Another declares, with the applause of the club, that “seeing how the palisades of Givet are constructed, he is going to denounce the Minister of War at the tribunal of the sixth arrondissement of Paris.”
It is manifest that, for noble officers, the situation is no longer tenable. After waiting patiently for twenty-three months, many of them left through conscientiousness, when the National Assembly, forcing a third oath upon them, struck out of the formula the name of the King, their born general.41 —Others depart at the end of the Constituent Assembly, “because they are afraid of being hung.” A large number resign at the end of 1791 and during the first months of 1792, in proportion as the new code and the new recruiting system for the army develop their results.42 In fact, on the one hand, through the soldiers and inferior officers having a voice in the election of their chiefs and a seat in the military courts, “there is no longer the shadow of discipline; verdicts are given from pure caprice; the soldier contracts the habit of despising his superiors, of whose punishments he has no fear, and from whom he expects no reward; the officers are paralyzed to such a degree as to become entirely superfluous personages.” On the other hand, the majority of the National Volunteers are composed of “men bought by the communes” and administrative bodies, worthless characters of the street-corners, rustic vagabonds forced to march by lot or bribery,”43 and along with them, enthusiasts and fanatics to such an extent that, from March, 1792, from the spot of their enlistment to the frontier, their track is everywhere marked by pillage, robbery, devastation, and assassinations. Naturally, on the road and at the frontier, they denounce, drive away, imprison, or murder their officers, and especially the nobles.—And yet, in this extremity, numbers of noble officers, especially in the artillery and engineer corps, persist in remaining at their posts, some through liberal ideas, and others out of respect for their instructions; even after the 10th of August, even after the 2nd of September, even after the 21st of January, like their generals Biron, Custine, de Flers, de Broglie, and de Montesquiou, with the constant perspective of the guillotine that awaits them on leaving the battle-field and even in the ministerial offices of Carnot.
It is, accordingly, necessary that the officers and nobles should go away, should go abroad; and not only they, but their families. “Gentlemen who have scarcely six hundred livres income set out on foot,”44 and there is no doubt as to the motive of their departure. “Whoever will impartially consider the sole and veritable causes of the emigration,” says an honest man, “will find them in anarchy. If the liberty of the individual had not been daily threatened, if,” in the civil as in the military order of things, “the senseless dogma, preached by the factions, had not been put in practice, that crimes committed by the mob are the judgments of heaven, France would have preserved three-fourths of her fugitives. Exposed for two years to ignominious dangers, to every species of outrage, to innumerable persecutions, to the steel of the assassin, to the firebrands of incendiaries, to the most infamous informations,” to the denunciations of “their corrupted domestics, to domiciliary visits” prompted by the commonest street rumour, “to arbitrary imprisonments by the Committee of Inquiry,” deprived of their civil rights, driven out of primary meetings, “they are held accountable for their murmurs, and punished for a sensibility which would touch the heart in a suffering criminal.”—“Resistance is nowhere seen; from the prince’s throne to the parsonage of the priest, the tempest has prostrated all malcontents in resignation.” Abandoned “to the restless fury of the clubs, to informers, to intimidated officials, they find executioners on all sides where prudence and the safety of the State have enjoined them not even to see enemies. . . . Whoever has detested the enormities of fanaticism and of public ferocity, whoever has awarded pity to the victims heaped together under the ruins of so many legitimate rights and odious abuses, whoever, finally, has dared to raise a doubt or a complaint, has been proclaimed an enemy of the nation. After this representation of malcontents as so many conspirators, every crime committed against them has been legitimated in public opinion. The public conscience, formed by the factions and by that band of political corsairs who would be the disgrace of a barbarous nation, have considered attacks against property and towns simply as national justice, while, more than once, the news of the murder of an innocent person, or of a sentence which threatened him with death, has been welcomed with shouts of joy. Two systems of natural right, two orders of justice, two standards of morality were accordingly established; by one of these it was allowable to do against one’s fellow-creature, a reputed aristocrat, that which would be criminal if he were a patriot. . . . Was it foreseen that, at the end of two years, France, teeming with laws, with magistrates, with courts, with citizen-guards, bound by solemn oaths in the defence of order and the public safety, would still and continually be an arena in which wild beasts would devour unarmed men?”—With all, even with old men, widows, and children, it is a crime to escape from their clutches. Without distinguishing between those who fly to avoid becoming a prey, and those who arm to attack the frontier, the Constituent and Legislative Assemblies alike condemn all absentees. The Constituent Assembly45 trebled their real and personal taxes, and prescribed that there should be a triple lien on their rents and dues. The Legislative Assembly sequestrates, confiscates, and puts into the market their possessions, real and personal, amounting to nearly fifteen hundred millions of cash value. Let them return and place themselves under the knives of the populace; otherwise they and their posterity shall all be beggars.—At this stroke indignation overflows, and a bourgeois who is liberal and a foreigner, Mallet-Dupan, exclaims,46 “What! twenty thousand families absolutely ignorant of the Coblentz plans and of its assemblies, twenty thousand families dispersed over the soil of Europe by the fury of clubs, by the crimes of brigands, by constant lack of security, by the stupid and cowardly inertia of petrified authorities, by the pillage of estates, by the insolence of a cohort of tyrants without bread or clothes, by assassinations and incendiarism, by the base servility of silent ministers, by the whole series of revolutionary scourges—what! these twenty thousand desolate families, women and old men, must see their inheritances become the prey of national spoliation! What! Madame Guillin, who was obliged to fly with horror from the land where monsters have burnt her dwelling, slaughtered and eaten her husband, and who live with impunity by the side of her home—shall Madame Guillin see her fortune confiscated for the benefit of the communities to which she owes her dreadful misfortunes! Shall M. de Clarac, under penalty of the same punishment, go and restore the ruins of his chateau, where an army of scoundrels failed to smother him!”—So much the worse for them if they dare not come back! They are to undergo civil death, perpetual banishment, and, in case the ban be violated, they will be given up to the guillotine. In the same case with them are others who, with still greater innocence, have left the territory, magistrates, ordinary rich people, burgesses, or peasants, Catholics, and particularly one entire class, the nonjuring clergy, from the cardinal archbishop down to the simple village vicar, all prosecuted, then despoiled, then crushed by the same popular oppression and by the same legislative oppression, each of these two persecutions exciting and aggravating the other to such an extent that, at last, the populace and the law, one the accomplice of the other, no longer leave a roof, nor a piece of bread, nor an hour’s safety to a gentleman or to a priest.
The ruling passion flings itself on all obstacles, even those placed by itself across its own track. Through a vast usurpation the incredulous minority, indifferent or lukewarm, has striven to impose its ecclesiastical forms on the Catholic majority, and the situation thereby created for the Catholic priest is such that unless he becomes schismatic, he cannot fail to appear as an enemy. In vain has he obeyed! He has allowed his property to be taken, he has left his parsonage, he has given the keys of the church to his successor, he has kept aloof, he does not transgress, either by omission or commission, any article of any decree. In vain does he avail himself of his legal right to abstain from taking an oath repugnant to his conscience. This alone makes him appear to refuse the civic oath in which the ecclesiastical oath is included, to reject the constitution which he accepts in full minus a parasite chapter, to conspire against the new social and political order of things which he often approves of, and to which he almost always submits.47 In vain does he confine himself to his special and recognised domain, the spiritual direction of things. Through this alone he resists the new legislators who pretend to furnish a spiritual guidance, for, by virtue of being orthodox, he must believe that the priest whom they elect is excommunicated, that his sacraments are vain; and, in his office as pastor, he must prevent his sheep from going to drink at an impure source. In vain might he preach to them moderation and respect. Through the mere fact that the schism is effected, its consequences unfold themselves, and the peasants will not always remain as patient as their pastor. They have known him for twenty years; he has baptized them and married them; they believe that his is the only true mass; they are not satisfied to be obliged to attend another two or three leagues away, and to leave the church, their church which their ancestors built, and where from father to son they have prayed for centuries, in the hands of a stranger, an intruder and heretic, who officiates before almost empty benches, and whom gendarmes, with guns in their hands, have installed. Assuredly, as he passes through the street, they will look upon him askance: it is not surprising that the women and children soon hoot at him, that stones are thrown at night through his windows, that in the strongly Catholic departments, Upper and Lower Rhine, Doubs and Jura, Lozère, Deux Sêvres and Vendée, Finistère, Morbihan, and Côtes-du-Nord, he is greeted with universal desertion, and then expelled through public ill-will. It is not surprising that his mass is interrupted and that his person is threatened;48 that disaffection, which thus far had only reached the upper class, descends to the popular strata; that, from one end of France to the other, a sullen hostility prevails against the new institutions; for now the political and social constitution is joined to the ecclesiastical constitution like an edifice to its spire, and, through this sharp pinnacle, seeks the storm even within the darkening clouds of heaven. The evil all springs out of this unskilful, gratuitous, compulsory fusion, and, consequently, from those who effected it.
But never will a victorious party admit that it has made a mistake. In its eyes the nonjuring priests are alone culpable; it is irritated against their factious conscience; and, to crush the rebellion even in the inaccessible sanctuary of personal conviction, there is no legal or brutal act of violence which it will not allow itself to commit.
Behold, accordingly, a new sport thrown open; and the game is immensely plentiful. For it comprises not only the black or grey robes, more than forty thousand priests, over thirty thousand nuns, and several thousand monks, but also the orthodox that are anywise fervent, that is to say the women of the low or middle class, and, without counting provincial nobles, a majority of the serious, steady bourgeoisie, a majority of the peasantry—almost the whole population of several provinces, east, west, and in the south. A name is bestowed on them, as lately on the nobles; it is that of fanatic, which is equivalent to aristocrat, for it also designates public enemies likewise placed by it beyond the pale of the law.—Little does it matter whether the law favours them, for it is interpreted against them, arbitrarily construed and openly violated by the partial or intimidated administrative bodies which the Constitution has withdrawn from the control of the central authority and subjected to the authority of popular gatherings. From the first months of 1791, the battue begins; the municipalities, districts, and departments themselves often take the lead in beating up the game. Six months later, the Legislative Assembly, by its decree of November 29,49 sounds the tally-ho, and, in spite of the King’s veto, the hounds on all sides dash forward. During the month of April, 1792, forty-two departments pass against nonjuring priests “acts which are neither prescribed nor authorised by the Constitution,” and, before the end of the Legislative Assembly, forty-three others will have followed in their train.—Through this series of illegal acts, without offence, without trial, nonjurors are everywhere in France expelled from their parishes, relegated to the principal town of the department or district, in some places imprisoned, put on the same footing with the emigrants, and despoiled of their property, real and personal.50 Nothing more is wanting against them but the general decree of deportation which is to come as soon as the Assembly can get rid of the King.
In the meantime, the National Guards, who have extorted the laws, endeavour to aggravate them in their application; and there is nothing strange in their animosity. Commerce is at a stand-still, industry languishes, the artisan and shopkeeper suffer, and, in order to account for the universal discontent, it is attributed to the insubordination of the priest. Were it not for his stubbornness all would go well, since the Constitution is perfect, and he is the only one who does not accept it. But, in not accepting it, he attacks it. He, therefore, is the last obstacle in the way of public happiness; he is the scapegoat, let us drive the obnoxious creature away! And the urban militia, sometimes on its own authority, sometimes instigated by the municipal body its accomplice, is seen disturbing public worship, dispersing congregations, seizing priests by the collar, pushing them by the shoulders out of the town, and threatening them with hanging if they dare to return. At Douay,51 with guns in hand, they force the directory of the department to order the closing of all the oratories and chapels in hospitals and convents. At Caen, with loaded guns and with a cannon, they march forth against the neighbouring parish of Verson, break into houses, gather up fifteen persons suspected of orthodoxy—canons, merchants, artisans, workmen, women, girls, old men, and the infirm—cut off their hair, strike them with the but-ends of their muskets, and lead them back to Caen fastened to the breach of the cannon; and all this because a nonjuring priest still officiated at Verson, and many pious persons from Caen attended his mass: Verson, consequently, is a focal centre of counterrevolutionary gatherings. Moreover, in the houses which were broken into, the furniture was smashed, casks stove in, and the linen, money, and plate stolen, the rabble of Caen having joined the expedition.—Here, and everywhere, there is nothing to do but to let this rabble have its own way; and as it operates against the possessions, the liberty, the life, and the sense of propriety of dangerous persons, the National Militia is careful not to interfere with it. Consequently, the orthodox, both priests and believers, men and women, are now at its mercy, and, thanks to the connivance of the armed force, which refuses to interpose, the rabble satiates on the proscribed class its customary instincts of cruelty, pillage, wantonness, and destructiveness.
Whether public or private, the order of the day is always to hinder worship, while the means employed are worthy of those who carry them out.—Here, a nonjuring priest having had the boldness to minister to a sick person, the house which he has just entered is taken by assault, and the door and windows of a house occupied by another priest are shivered to pieces.52 There, the lodgings of two workmen, who are accused of having had their infants baptized by a refractory priest, are sacked and nearly demolished. Elsewhere, a mob refuses to allow the body of an old curé, who had died without taking the oath, to enter the cemetery. Farther on, a church is assaulted during vespers, and everything is broken to pieces: on the following day it is the turn of a neighbouring church, and, in addition, a convent of Ursuline nuns is devastated.—At Lyons, on Easter-day, 1791, as the people are leaving the six o’clock mass, a troop, armed with whips, falls upon the women.53 Stripped, bruised, prostrated, with their heads in the dirt, they are not left until they are bleeding and half-dead; one young girl is actually at the point of death; and this sort of outrage occurs so frequently that even ladies attending the orthodox mass in Paris dare not go out without sewing up their garments around them in the shape of drawers.—Naturally, to make the most of the prey offered to them, hunting associations are formed. These exist in Montpellier, Arles, Uzès, Alais, Nismes, Carpentras, and in most of the towns or burgs of Gard, Vaucluse, and l’Hérault, in greater or less number according to the population of the city: some counting from ten to twelve, and others from two to three hundred determined men, of every description: among them are found “strike-hards” (tape-dur), former brigands, and escaped convicts with the brand still on their backs. Some of them oblige their members to wear a medal as a visible mark of recognition; all assume the title of executive power, and declare that they act of their own authority, and that it is necessary to “quicken the law.”54 Their pretext is the protection of sworn priests; and for twenty months, beginning with April, 1791, they operate to this effect “with heavy knotted clubs garnished with iron points,” without counting sabres and bayonets. Generally, their expeditions are nocturnal. Suddenly, the houses of “citizens suspected of a want of patriotism,” of nonjuring ecclesiastics, of the monks of the Christian school, are invaded; everything is broken or stolen, and the owner is ordered to leave the place in twenty-four hours: sometimes, doubtless through an excess of precaution, he is beaten to death on the spot. Besides this, the band also works by day in the streets, lashes the women, enters the churches sabre in hand, and drives the nonjuring priest from the altar. All of this is done with the connivance and in the sight of the paralyzed or complaisant authorities, by a sort of occult and complementary government, which not only supplies what is missing in the ecclesiastical law, but also searches the pockets of private individuals.—At Nismes, under the leadership of a patriotic dancing-master, not content with “decreeing proscriptions, killing, scourging, and often murdering,” these new champions of the Gallician Church undertake to reanimate the zeal of those liable to contribution. A subscription having been proposed for the support of the families of the volunteers about to depart, the executive power takes upon itself to revise the list of offerings: it arbitrarily taxes those who have not given, or who, in its opinion, have given too little—some “poor workmen fifty livres, others two hundred, three hundred, nine hundred, and a thousand, under penalty of wrecked houses and severe treatment.” Elsewhere, the volunteers of Baux and other communes near Tarascon help themselves freely, and, “under the pretext that they are to march for the defence of the country, levy enormous contributions on proprietors,” on one four thousand, and on another five thousand livres. In default of payment, they carry away all the grain on one farm, even to the reserve seed, threatening to make havoc with everything, and even to burn, in case of complaint, so that the owners dare not say a word, while the attorney-general of the neighbouring department, afraid on his own account, begs that his denunciation may be kept secret.—From the slums of the towns the jacquerie has spread into the rural districts. This is the sixth and the most extensive seen for three years.55
Two spurs impel the peasant on.—On the one hand he is frightened by the clash of arms, and the repeated announcements of an approaching invasion. The clubs and the newspapers since the declaration of Pilnitz, and the orators in the Legislative Assembly for four months past, have kept him alarmed with their trumpet-blasts, and he urges on his oxen in the furrow with cries of “Woa, Prussia!” to one, and to the other, “Gee up, Austria!” Austria and Prussia, foreign kings and nobles in league with the emigrant nobles, are going to return in force to reestablish the salt-tax, the excise, feudal dues, tithes, and to retake national property already sold and resold, with the aid of the gentry who have not left, or who have returned, and the connivance of nonjuring priests who declare the sale sacrilegious and refuse to absolve the purchasers.—On the other hand, Holy Week is drawing near, and for the past year qualms of conscience have disturbed the purchasers. Up to March 24, 1791, the sales of national property had amounted to only 180 millions; but, the Assembly having prolonged the date of payment and facilitated further sales in detail, the temptation proves too strong for the peasant; stockings and buried pots are all emptied of their savings. In seven months the peasant has bought to the amount of 1,346 millions,56 and finally possesses in full and complete ownership the morsel of land which he has coveted for so many years, and sometimes an unexpected plot, a wood, a mill, or a meadow. At the present time he has to settle accounts with the church, and, if the pecuniary settlement is postponed, the Catholic settlement comes on the appointed day. According to immemorial tradition, he is obliged to take the communion at Easter,57 his wife also, and likewise his mother; and if he, exceptionally, does not think this of consequence, they do. Moreover, he requires the sacraments for his old sick father, his new-born child, and for his other child of an age to be confirmed. Now, communion, baptism, confession, all the sacraments, to be of good quality, must proceed from a safe source, just as is the case with flour and coin; there is only too much counterfeit money now in the world, and the sworn priests are daily losing credit, like the assignats. There is no other course to pursue, consequently, but to resort to the nonjuror, who is the only one able to give valid absolutions. And it so happens that he not only refuses this, but he is said to be inimical to the whole new order of things.—In this dilemma the peasant falls back upon his usual resource, the strength of his arms; he seizes the priest by the throat, as formerly his lord, and extorts an acquittance for his sins as formerly for his feudal dues. At the very least he strives to constrain the nonjurors to swear, to close their separatist churches, and bring the entire canton to the same uniform faith.—Occasionally also he avenges himself against the partisans of the nonjurors, against chateaux and houses of the opulent, against the nobles and the rich, against proprietors of every class. Occasionally, likewise, as, since the amnesty of September, 1791, the prisons have been emptied, as one-half of the courts are not yet installed,58 as there has been no police for thirty months, the common robbers, bandits, and vagrants, who swarm about without repression or surveillance, join the mob and fill their pockets.
Here, in Pas-de-Calais,59 three hundred villagers, headed by a drummer, burst open the doors of a Carthusian convent, steal everything, eatables, beverages, linen, furniture, and effects, whilst, in the neighbouring parish, another band operates in the same fashion in the houses of the mayor and of the old curé, threatening “to kill and burn all,” and promising to return on the following Sunday.—There, in Bas-Rhin, near Fort Louis, twenty houses of the aristocrats are pillaged.—Elsewhere, in Ile-et-Vilaine, bodies of rural militia, combined, go from parish to parish, and, increasing in consequence of their very violence until they form bands of two thousand men, close churches, drive away nonjuring priests, remove clappers from the bells, eat and drink what they please at the expense of the inhabitants, and often, in the houses of the mayor or tax-registrar, indulge in the pleasure of breaking everything to pieces. Should any public officer remonstrate with them they shout, “At the aristocrat!” One of these unlucky counsellors is struck on the back with the but-end of a musket, and two others have guns aimed at them; the chiefs of the expedition are in no better predicament, and, according to their own admission, if they are at the head of the mob it is that they themselves may not be pillaged or hung. The same spectacle presents itself in Mayenne, in Orne, in Moselle, and in the Landes.60
These, however, are but isolated irruptions, and very mild; in the south and in the centre, the plague is apparent in an immense leprous spot, which extending from Avignon to Perigueux, and from Aurillac to Toulouse, suddenly overspreads, scarcely with any break, ten departments—Vaucluse, Ardèche, Gard, Cantal, Corrèze, Lot, Dordogne, Gers, Haute-Garonne, and Hérault. Vast rural masses are set in motion at the same time, on all sides and owing to the same causes, the approach of war and the coming of Easter.—In Cantal, at the assembly of the canton held at Aurillac for the recruitment of the army,61 the commander of a village National Guard demands vengeance “against those who are not patriots,” and the report is spread that an order has come from Paris to destroy the chateaux. Moreover, the insurgents allege that the priests, through their refusal to take the oath, are bringing the nation into civil war: “we are tired of not having peace on their account; let them become good citizens, so that everybody may go to mass.” On the strength of this, the insurgents enter houses, put the inhabitants to ransom, not only priests and former nobles, “but also those who are suspected of being their partisans, those who do not attend the mass of the constitutional priest,” and even poor people, artisans and tillers of the ground, whom they tax five, ten, twenty, and forty francs, and whose cellars and bread-bins they empty. Eighteen chateaux are pillaged, burnt, or demolished, and among others, those of several gentlemen and ladies who have not left the country. One of these, M. d’Humières, is an old officer of eighty years; Madame de Peyronenc saves her son only by disguising him as a peasant; Madame de Beauclerc, who flies across the mountain, sees her sick child die in her arms. At Aurillac, gibbets are set up before the principal houses; M. de Niossel, a former lieutenant of a criminal court, put in prison for his safety, is dragged out, and his severed head is thrown on a dungheap; M. Collinet, just arrived from Malta, and suspected of being an aristocrat, is ripped open, cut to pieces, and his head is carried about on the end of a pike. Finally, when the municipal officers, judges, and royal commissioner commence proceedings against the assassins, they find themselves in such great danger that they are obliged to resign or to run away. In like manner, in Haute-Garonne,62 it is also “against nonjurors and their followers” that the insurrection has begun. This is promoted by the fact that in various parishes the constitutional curé belongs to the club, and demands the riddance of his adversaries. One of them at Saint-Jean-Lorne, “mounted on a cart, preaches pillage to a mob of eight hundred persons.” Each band, consequently, begins by expelling refractory priests, and by forcing their supporters to attend the mass of the sworn priest.—But such success, wholly abstract and barren, is of little advantage, and peasants in a state of revolt are not satisfied so easily. When parishes march forth by the dozen and devote their day to the service of the public, they must have some compensation in wood, wheat, wine, or money,63 and the expense of the expedition may be defrayed by the aristocrats. Not merely the upholders of nonjurors are aristocrats, as, for example, an old lady here and there, “very fanatical, and who for forty years has devoted all her income to acts of philanthropy,” “but well-to-do persons, peasants or gentlemen”; for, “by keeping their wine and grain unsold in their cellars and barns, and by not undertaking more work than they need, so as to deprive workmen in the country of their means of subsistence,” they design “to starve out” the poor folk. Thus, the greater the pillage, the greater the service to the public. According to the insurgents, it is important “to diminish revenues enjoyed by the enemies of the nation, in order that they may not send their revenues to Coblentz and other places out of the kingdom.” Consequently, bands of six or eight hundred or a thousand men overrun the districts of Toulouse and Castelsarrasin. All proprietors, aristocrats, and patriots are put under contribution. Here, in the house of “the philanthropic but fanatical old maid, they break open everything, destroy the furniture, taking away eighty-two bushels of wheat and sixteen hogsheads of wine.” Elsewhere, at Roqueferrière, feudal title-deeds are burnt, and a chateau is pillaged. Farther on, at Lasserre, thirty thousand francs are exacted and the ready money is all carried off. Almost everywhere the municipal officers, willingly or unwillingly, authorise pillaging. Moreover, “they cut down provisions to a price in assignats very much less than their current rate in silver,” and they double the price of a day’s work. In the meantime, other bands devastate the national forests, and the gendarmes, in order not to be called aristocrats, have no idea but of paying court to the pillagers.
After all this, it is manifest that property no longer exists for anybody except for paupers and robbers.—In effect, in Dordogne,64 “under the pretext of driving away nonjuring priests, frequent mobs pillage and rob whatever comes in their way. . . . All the grain that is found in houses with weathercocks is sequestrated.” Rustics turn the forests to account as communal property, the possessions of the emigrants; and this operation is radical; for example, a band, on finding a new barn of which the materials strike them as good, demolish it so as to share with each other the tiles and timber.—In Corrèze, fifteen thousand armed peasants, who have come to Tulle to disarm and drive off the supporters of the nonjurors, break everything in suspected houses, and a good deal of difficulty is found in sending them off empty-handed. As soon as they get back home, they sack the chateaux of Saint-Gal, Seilhac, Gourdon, Saint-Basile, and La Rochette, besides a number of country-houses, even of absent plebeians. They have found a quarry, and never was the removal of property more complete. They carefully carry off, says an official statement, all that can be carried—furniture, curtains, mirrors, clothes-presses, pictures, wines, provisions, even floors and wainscotings, “down to the smallest fragments of iron and wood-work,” smashing the rest, so that nothing “remains of the house but its four walls, the roof, and the staircase.” In Lot, where for two years the insurrection is permanent, the damage is much greater. During the night between the 30th and 31st of January, “all the best houses in Souillac” are broken open, “sacked and pillaged from top to bottom,”65 their masters being obliged to fly, and so many outbreaks occur in the department, that the directory has no time to render an account of them to the minister. Entire districts are in revolt; as, “in each commune all the inhabitants are accomplices, witnesses cannot be had to support a criminal prosecution, and crime remains unpunished.” In the canton of Cabrerets, the restitution of rents formerly collected is exacted, and the reimbursement of charges paid during twenty years past. The small town of Lauzerte is invaded by surrounding bodies of militia, and its disarmed inhabitants are at the mercy of the Jacobin faubourg. For three months, in the district of Figeac, “all the mansions of former nobles are sacked and burnt”; next the pigeon-cots are attacked, “and all country-houses which have a good appearance.” Barefooted gangs “enter the houses of well-to-do people, physicians, lawyers, merchants, burst open the doors of cellars, drink the wine,” and riot like drunken victors. In several communes these expeditions have become a custom; “a large number of individuals are found in them who live on rapine alone,” and the club sets them the example. For six months, in the principal town, a coterie of the National Guard, called the Black Band, expel all persons who are displeasing to them, “pillaging houses at will, beating to death, wounding or mutilating by sabre-strokes, all who have been proscribed in their assemblies,” without any officer or advocate daring to lodge a complaint. Brigandage, borrowing the mask of patriotism, and patriotism borrowing the methods of brigandage, have combined against property at the same time as against the ancient régime, and, to free themselves from all that inspires them with fear, they seize all which can provide them with booty.
And yet this is merely the outskirts of the storm; the centre is elsewhere, around Nismes, Avignon, Arles, and Marseilles, in a country where, for a long time, the conflict between cities and the conflict between religions have kindled and accumulated malignant passions.66 Looking at the three departments of Gard, Bouches-de-Rhône, and Vaucluse, one would imagine one’s self in the midst of a war with savages. In fact, it is a Jacobin and plebeian invasion, and, consequently, conquest, dispossession, and extermination—in Gard, a swarm of National Guards reproduce the jacquerie: the dregs of the Comtat come to the surface and cover Vaucluse with its scum; an army of six thousand from Marseilles sweeps down on Arles.—In the districts of Nismes, Sommières, Uzès, Alais, Jalais, and Saint-Hippolyte, title-deeds are burnt, proprietors put to ransom, and municipal officers threatened with death if they try to interpose; twenty chateaux and forty country-houses are sacked, burnt, and demolished.—The same month, Arles and Avignon,67 given up to the bands of Marseilles and of the Comtat, see confiscations and massacres approaching.—Around the commandant, who has received the order to evacuate Arles,68 “the inhabitants of all parties” gather as suppliants, “clasping his hands, entreating him with tears in their eyes not to abandon them; women and children cling to his boots,” so that he does not know how to free himself without hurting them; on his departure twelve hundred families emigrate. After the entrance of the Marseilles band we see eighteen hundred electors proscribed, their country-houses on the two banks of the Rhône pillaged, “as in the times of Saracen pirates,” a tax of 1,400,000 livres levied on all people in good circumstances, absent or present, women and girls promenaded about half-naked on donkeys and publicly whipped.” “A sabre committee” disposes of lives, proscribes, and executes: it is the reign of sailors, porters, and the dregs of the populace.—At Avignon,69 it is that of simple brigands, incendiaries, and assassins, who, six months previously, converted the Glacière into a charnel-house. They return in triumph and state that “this time the Glacière will be full.” Five hundred families had already sought asylum in France before the first massacre; now, the entire remainder of the honest bourgeoisie, twelve hundred persons, take to flight, and the terror is so great that the small neighbouring towns dare not entertain emigrants. In fact, from this time forth, both departments throughout Vaucluse and Bouches-de-Rhône are a prey. Bands of two thousand armed men, with women, children, and other volunteer followers, travel from commune to commune to live as they please at the expense of “fanatics”; and well-bred people are not the only ones they despoil. Plain cultivators, taxed at 10,000 livres, have sixty men billeted on them; their cattle are slain and eaten before their eyes, and everything in their houses is broken up; they are driven out of their lodgings and wander as fugitives in the reed-swamps of the Rhône, awaiting a moment of respite to cross the river and take refuge in the neighbouring department.70 Thus, from the spring of 1792, if any citizen is suspected of unfriendliness or even of indifference towards the ruling faction, if, through but one opinion conscientiously held, he risks the vague possibility of mistrust or of suspicion, he undergoes popular hostility, spoliation, exile, and worse besides; no matter how loyal his conduct may be, nor how loyal he may be at heart, no matter that he is disarmed and inoffensive; it is all the same whether it be a noble, bourgeois, peasant, aged priest, or old woman; and this while public peril is yet neither great, present, nor visible, since France is at peace with Europe, and the government still subsists in its entirety.
What will it be, then, now when the peril, already become palpable and serious, is daily increasing, now when war has begun, when Lafayette’s army is falling back in confusion, when the Assembly declares the country in danger, when the King is overthrown, when Lafayette is passing the frontier, when the soil of France is invaded, when the frontier fortresses surrender without resistance, when the Prussians are entering Champagne, when the insurrection in La Vendée adds the lacerations of civil war to the threats of a foreign war, and when the cry of treachery arises on all sides?—Already, on the 14th of May, at Metz,71 M. de Fiquelmont, a former canon, seen chatting with a hussar on the Place Saint-Jacques, was charged with tampering with people on behalf of the princes, carried off in spite of a triple line of guards, and beaten, pierced, and slashed with sticks, bayonets, and sabres, while the mad crowd around the murderers uttered cries of rage: and from month to month, in proportion as popular fears increase, popular imagination becomes more heated and its delirium grows. We can judge of this by one example. On the 31st of August, 1792,72 eight thousand nonjuring priests, driven out of their parishes, are at Rouen, a town less intolerant than the others, and, in conformity with the decree which banishes them, are preparing to leave France. Two vessels have just carried away about a hundred of them; one hundred and twenty others are embarking for Ostend in a larger vessel. They take nothing with them except a little money, some clothes, and one or at most two portions of their breviary, because they intend to return soon. Each has a regular passport, and, just at the moment of leaving, the National Guard have made a thorough inspection so as not to let a suspected person escape. It makes no difference. On reaching Quilleboeuf the first two convoys are stopped. A report has spread, indeed, that the priests are going to join the enemy and enlist, and the people living round about jump into their boats and surround the vessels. The priests are obliged to disembark amidst a tempest of “yells, blasphemies, insults, and abuse”: one of them, a white-headed old man, having fallen into the mud, the cries and shouts redouble; if he is drowned so much the better, there will be one less! On landing all are put in prison, on bare stones, without straw or bread, and word is sent to Paris to know what must be done with so many cassocks. In the meantime the third vessel, short of provisions, has sent two priests to Quilleboeuf and to Pont-Audemer to have twelve hundred pounds of bread baked: pointed out by the village militia, they are chased out like wild beasts, pass the night in a wood, and find their way back with difficulty empty-handed. The vessel itself being signaled, is besieged. “In all the municipalities on the banks of the river drums beat incessantly to warn the population to be on their guard. The appearance of an Algerian or Tripolitan corsair on the shores of the Adriatic would cause less excitement. One of the seamen of the vessel published a statement that the trunks of the priests transported were full of every kind of arms,” and the country people constantly imagine that they are going to fall upon them sword and pistol in hand. For several long days the famished convoy remains moored in the stream, and carefully watched. Boats filled with volunteers and peasants row around it uttering insults and threats: in the neighbouring meadows the National Guards form themselves in line of battle. Finally, a decision is arrived at. The bravest, well armed, get into skiffs, approach the vessel cautiously, choose the most favourable time and spot, rush on board, and take possession; and are perfectly astonished to find neither enemies nor arms.—Nevertheless, the priests are confined on board, and their deputies must make their appearance before the mayor. The latter, a former usher and good Jacobin, being the most frightened, is the most violent. He refuses to visé the passports, and, seeing two priests approach, one provided with a sword-cane and the other with an iron-pointed stick, thinks that there is to be a sudden attack. “Here are two more of them,” he exclaims with terror; “they are all going to land. My friends, the town is in danger!”—On hearing this the crowd becomes alarmed, and threatens the deputies; the cry of “To the lantern!” is heard, and, to save them, National Guards are obliged to conduct them to prison in the centre of a circle of bayonets.—It must be noted that these madmen are “at bottom the kindest people in the world.” After the boarding of the ship, one of the most ferocious, by profession a barber, seeing the long beards of these poor priests, instantly cools down, draws forth his tools, and good-naturedly sets to work, spending several hours in shaving them. In ordinary times ecclesiastics received nothing but salutations; three years previously they were “respected as fathers and guides.” But at the present moment the rustic, the man of the lower class, is out of his bearings. Forcibly and against nature, he has been made a theologian, a politician, a police captain, a local independent sovereign; and in such a position his head is turned. Among these people who seem to have lost their senses, only one, an officer of the National Guard, remains cool; he is, besides, very polite, well-behaved, and an agreeable talker; he comes in the evening to comfort the prisoners and to take tea with them in prison; in fact, he is accustomed to tragedies and, thanks to his profession, his nerves are in repose—this person is the executioner. The others, “whom one would take for tigers,” are bewildered sheep; but they are not the less dangerous; for, carried away by their delirium, they bear down with their mass on whatever gives them umbrage.—On the road from Paris to Lyons73 Roland’s commissioners witness this terrible fright. “The people are constantly asking what our generals and armies are doing; they have vengeful expressions frequently on their lips. Yes, they say, we will set out, but we must (first) purge the interior.”
Something appalling is in preparation. The seventh jacquerie is drawing near, this one universal and final—at first brutal, and then legal and systematic, undertaken and carried out on the strength of abstract principles by leaders worthy of the means they employ. Nothing like it ever occurred in history; for the first time we see brutes gone mad, operating on a grand scale and for a long time, under the leadership of blockheads who have become insane.
There is a certain strange malady commonly encountered in the quarters of the poor. A workman, overtaxed with work, in misery and badly fed, takes to drink; he drinks more and more every day, and liquors of the strongest kind. After a few years his nervous system, already weakened by spare diet, becomes overexcited and out of balance. An hour comes when the brain, under a sudden stroke, ceases to direct the machine; in vain does it command, for it is no longer obeyed; each limb, each joint, each muscle, acting separately and for itself, starts convulsively through discordant impulses. Meanwhile the man is gay; he thinks himself a millionaire, a king, loved and admired by everybody; he is not aware of the mischief he is doing to himself, he does not comprehend the advice given him, he refuses the remedies offered to him, he sings and shouts for entire days, and, above all, drinks more than ever.—At last his face grows dark and his eyes become blood-shot. Radiant visions give way to black and monstrous phantoms; he sees nothing around him but menacing figures, traitors in ambush, ready to fall upon him unawares, murderers with upraised arms ready to cut his throat, executioners preparing torments for him; and he seems to be wading in a pool of blood. Then, he makes a spring, and, in order that he himself may not be killed, he kills. No one is more to be dreaded, for his delirium sustains him; his strength is prodigious, his movements unforeseen, and he endures, without heeding them, suffering and wounds under which a healthy man would succumb.—So France, exhausted by fasting under the monarchy, made drunk by the bad drug of the Social-Contract, and countless other adulterated or fiery beverages, is suddenly struck with paralysis of the brain; at once she is convulsed in every limb through the incoherent play and contradictory twitchings of her discordant organs. At this time she has traversed the period of joyous madness, and is about to enter upon the period of sombre delirium: behold her capable of daring, suffering, and doing all, capable of incredible exploits and abominable barbarities, the moment her guides, as erratic as herself, indicate an enemy or an obstacle to her fury.
[1. ]Moniteur, xi. 763. (Sitting of March 28, 1792.)—“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,235. (Deliberation of the Directory of the Department, November 29, 1791, and January 27, 1792.—Petition of the Municipality of Mende and of forty-three others, November 30, 1791.)
[2. ]“Archives Nationales,” F5, 3,198. Procès-verbal of the municipal officers of Arles, September 2, 1791.—Letters of the Royal Commissioners and of the National Assembly, October 24, November 6, 14, 17, 21, and December 21, 1791.—The commissioners, to be impartial, attend in turn a mass by a nonjuring priest and one by a priest of the opposite side. “The church is full” with the former, and “always empty” with the latter.
[3. ]“Mémoire” of M. Mérilhon, for Froment, passim.—Report of M. Alquier, p. 54.—De Dammartin, i. 208.
[4. ]De Dammartin, i. 208. They would exclaim to the Catholic peasants: “Allons, mes enfans, Vive le Roi!” (shouts of enthusiasm): “those wretches of democrats, let us make an example of them, and restore the sacred rights of the throne and the altar!”—“As you please,” replied the rustics in their patois, “but we must hold fast to the Revolution, for there are some good things about it.”—They remain calm, refuse to march to the assistance of Uzès, and withdraw into their mountains on the first sign of the approach of the National Guard.
[5. ]Dauban, “La Demagogie à Paris,” p. 598: Letter of M. de Brissac, August 25, 1789.
[6. ]Moniteur, x. 339. (Journal de Troyes, and a letter from Perpignan, November, 1791.)
[7. ]Mercure de France, No. for September 3, 1791. “Let Liberty be presented to us, and all France will kneel before her; but noble and proud hearts will eternally resist the oppression which assumes her sacred mask. They will invoke liberty, but liberty without crime, the liberty which is maintained without dungeons, without inquisitors, without incendiaries, without brigands, without forced oaths, without illegal coalitions, without mob outrages; that liberty, finally, which allows no oppressor to go unpunished, and which does not crush peaceable citizens beneath the weight of the chains it has broken.”
[8. ]Rivarol, “Mémoires,” p. 367. (Letter of M. Servan, published in the “Actes des Apôtres.”)
[9. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,257. Official reports, investigations, and correspondence in relation to the affair of M. de Bussy (October, 1790).
[10. ]Mercure de France, May 15, 1790. (Letter of Baron de Bois-d’Aisy, April 29, read in the National Assembly.)—Moniteur, iv. 302. Sitting of May 6. (Official statement of the Justice of the Peace of Vitteaux, April 28.)
[11. ]“Archives Nationales,” DXXIX. 4. Letter of M. Belin-Chatellenot (near Arnay-le-Duc) to the President of the National Assembly, July 1, 1791. “In the realm of liberty we live under the most cruel tyranny, and in a state of the completest anarchy, while the administrative bodies and the police, still in their infancy, seem to act only in fear and trembling. . . . So far, in all crimes, they are more concerned with extenuating the facts than in punishing the offence. The result is that the guilty have had no other restraint on them than a few gentle phrases like this: ‘Dear brothers and friends, you are in the wrong, be careful,’ ” &c.—Ibid., F7, 3,229. Letter of the Directory of the Department of Marne, July 13, 1791. (Searches by the National Guard in chateaux and the disarmament of formerly privileged persons.) “None of our injunctions were obeyed.” For example, there is breakage and violence in the residence of M. Guinaumont at Merry; the gun, shot, and powder of the game-keeper even are carried off. “M. de Guinaumont is without the means of defending himself against a mad dog or any other savage brute that might come into his woods or into his courtyard.” The Mayor of Merry, with the National Guard, under compulsion, tells them in vain that they are breaking the law.—Petition of Madame d’Ambly, wife of the deputy, June 28, 1791. Not having the guns which she had already given up, she is made to pay 150 francs.
[12. ]“Archives Nationales,” DXXIX. 4. Letters of the Administrators of the Department of Rhône-et-Loire, July 6, 1791. (M. Vilet is one of the signers.)—Mercure de France, October 8, 1791.
[13. ]Mercure de France, August 20, 1791, the article by Mallet-Dupan. “The details of the picture I have just sketched were all furnished me by Madame Dumoutet herself.” I am “authorised by her signature to guarantee the accuracy of this narrative.”
[14. ]Mercure de France, August 20, 1791, the article by Mallet-Dupan. “The proceedings instituted at Lyons confirmed this cannibal banquet.”
[15. ]The letter of the Department ends with this either naïve or ironical expression: “You have one triumph to complete, that of the obedience and submission of the people to the law.”
[16. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,200. See documents relating to the affair of November 5, 1791, and the events which preceded it or followed it, and among others “Lettres du Directoire et du Procureur-syndic du Department”; Pétition et Mémoire pour les Déténus”; Lettres d’un Témoin,” M. de Morant.—Moniteur, x. 356. “Procès-verbal de la Municipalité de Caen” and of the “Directoire du Département,” xi. 164, 206. “Rapport de Guadet,” and documents of the trial.—“Archives Nationales,” ibid.—“Lettres de M. Cahier,” Minister of the Interior, January 26, 1792; of M. G—d de Pontécoulant, President of the Department Directory, February 3, 1792.—Proclamation by the Directory.
[17. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,200. Letter of September 26, 1791.—Letter found on one of the arrested gentlemen. “A cowardly bourgeoisie, directors in cellars, a clubbist municipality, waging the most illegal war against us.”
[18. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,200. Letter of the Attorney-General of Bayeux, May 14, 1702, and of the Directory of Bayeux, May 21, 1792.—At Bayeux, likewise, the refugees are denounced and in peril. According to their verified statements they scarcely amounted to one hundred. “Several nonjuring priests, indeed, are found among them; (but) the rest, for the most part, consist of the heads of families who are known to reside habitually in neighbouring districts, and who have been forced to leave their firesides after having been, or fearing to become, victims of religious intolerance or of the threats of factions and of brigands.”
[19. ]Mercure de France, June 4, 1790 (letter from Cahors, May 17, and an Act of the Municipality, May 10, 1790).
[20. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,223. Letter of Comte Louis de Beaumont, November 9, 1791. His letter, in a very moderate tone, thus ends: “You must admit, sir, that it is very disagreeable and even incredible, that the Municipal Officers should be the originators of the disorders which occur in this town.”
[21. ]Mercure de France, January 7, 1702. M. Granchier de Riom petitions the Directory of his Department in relation to the purchase of the cemetery, where his father had been interred four years before; his object is to prevent it from being dug up, which was decreed, and to preserve the family vault. He at the same time wishes to buy the church of Saint-Paul, in order to ensure the continuance of the masses in behalf of his father’s soul. The Directory replies (December 5, 1791): “Considering that the motives which have determined the petitioner in his declaration are a pretence of good feeling under which there is hidden an illusion powerless to pervert a sound mind, the Directory decides that the application of the sieur Granchier cannot be granted.”
[22. ]De Ferrières, ii. 268 (April 19, 1791).
[23. ]De Montlosier, ii. 307, 309, 312.
[24. ]Moniteur, vi. 556. Letter of M. d’Aymar, commodore, November 18, 1790.
[25. ]Mercure de France, May 28, and June 16, 1791 (letters from Cahors and Castelnau, May 18).
[26. ]Mercure de France, Number of May 28, 1791. At the festival of the Federation, M. de Massy would not order his cavalry to put their chapeaux on the points of their swords, which was a difficult manoeuvre. He was accused of treason to the nation on account of this, and obliged to leave Tulle for several months.—“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,204. Extract from the minutes of the tribunal of Tulle, May 10, 1791.
[27. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,215. “Procès-verbal des Officiers Municipaux de Brest,” June 23, 1791.
[28. ]“Mémoires de Cuvier” (“Eloges Historiques,” by Flourens), i. 177. Cuvier, who was then in Havre (1788), had pursued the higher studies in a German administrative school. “M. de Sarville,” he says, “an officer in the Artois regiment, has one of the most refined minds and most amiable characters I ever encountered. There were a good many of this sort among his comrades, and I am always astonished how such men could vegetate in the obscure ranks of an infantry regiment.”
[29. ]De Dammartin, i. 133. At the beginning of the year 1790, “inferior officers said: ‘We ought to demand something, for we have at least as many grievances as our men.’ ”—M. de la Rochejacquelein, after his great success in La Vendée, said: “I hope that the King, when once he is restored, will give me a regiment.” He aspired to nothing more (“Mémoires de Madame de la Rochejacquelein”).—Cf. “Un Officier royaliste au Service de la République,” by M. de Bezancenet, in the letters and biography of General de Dommartin, killed in the expedition to Egypt.
[30. ]Correspondence of MM. de Thiard, de Caraman, de Miran, de Bercheny, &c., above cited, passim.—Correspondence of M. de Thiard, May 5, 1790: “The town of Vannes has an authoritative style which begins to displease me. It wants the King to furnish drum-sticks. The first log of wood would provide these, with greater ease and promptness.”
[31. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,248, March 16, 1791. At Douai, Nicolon, a grain-dealer, is hung because the municipal authorities did not care to proclaim martial law. The commandant, M. de la Noue, had not the right of ordering his men to move, and the murder took place before his eyes.
[32. ]The last named, especially, died with heroic meekness (Mercure de France, June 18, 1791).—Sitting of June 9, speeches by two officers of the regiment of Port-au-Prince, one of them an eye-witness.
[33. ]“De Dammartin,” ii. 214. Desertion is very great, even in ordinary times, supplying foreign armies with “a fourth of their effective men.” Towards the end of 1789, Dubois de Crancé, an old musketeer and one of the future “mountain,” stated to the National Assembly that the old system of recruiting supplied the army with “men without home or occupation, who often became soldiers to avoid civil penalties” (Moniteur, ii. 376, 381, sitting of December 12, 1789).
[34. ]“Archives Nationales,” KK. 1105. Correspondence of M. de Thiard, September 4 and 7, 1789, November 20, 1789, April 28, and May 29, 1790. “The spirit of insubordination which begins to show itself in the Bassigny regiment is an epidemic disease which is insensibly spreading among all the troops. . . . The troops are all in a state of gangrene, while all the municipalities oppose the orders they receive concerning the movements of troops.”
[35. ]“Archives Nationales,” H. 1453. Correspondence of M. de Bercheny, July 12, 1790.
[36. ]“Mémoire justificatif” (by Grégoire), on behalf of two soldiers, Emery and Delisle.—De Bouillé, “Mémoires.”—De Dammartin. i. 128, 144.—“Archives Nationales,” KK. 1105. Correspondence of M. de Thiard, July 2 and 9, 1790.—Moniteur, sittings of September 3 and June 4, 1790.
[37. ]De Bouillé, p. 127.—Moniteur, sitting of August 6, 1790, and that of May 27, 1790.—Full details in authentic documents of the affair at Nancy, passim.—Report of M. Emmery, August 16, 1790, and other documents in Roux and Buchez, vii. 59–162.—De Bezancenet, p. 35. Letters of M. de Dommartin (Metz, August 4, 1790). “The Federation there passed off quietly, only, a short time after, some soldiers of a regiment took it into their heads to divide the (military) fund, and at once placed sentinels at the door of the officer having charge of the chest, compelling him to open it (désacquer). Another regiment has since put all its officers under arrest. A third has mutinied, and wanted to take all its horses to the market-place and sell them. . . . Everywhere the soldiers are heard to say that if they want money they know where to find it.”
[38. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,215. Letters of the Royal Commissioners, September 27, October 1, 4, 8, 11, 1790. “What means can four commissioners employ to convince 20,000 men, most of whom are seduced by the real enemies of the public welfare? In consequence of the replacing of the men the crews are, for the most part, composed of those who are almost ignorant of the sea, who know nothing of the rules of subordination, and who, at the commencement of the Revolution, had most to do with the insurrections in the interior.”
[39. ]Mercure de France, October 2, 1790. Letter of the Admiral, M. d’Albert de Rioms, September 16. The soldiers of the Majestueux have refused to drill, and the sailors of the Patriote to obey.—“I wished to ascertain beforehand if they had any complaint to make against their captain?—No.—If they complained of myself?—No.—If they had any complaints to make against their officers?—No.—It is the revolt of one class against another class; their sole cry is ‘Vive la Nation et les Aristocrates à la lanterne!’ The mob have set up a gibbet before the house of M. de Marigny, major-general of marines; he has given in his resignation. M. d’Albert tenders his resignation.”—Ibid., June 18, 1791 (letter from Dunkirk, June 3).
[40. ]De Dammartin, i. 222, 219. Mercure de France, September 3, 1791. (Sitting of August 23.)—Cf. Moniteur (same date). “The Ancient Régime,” p. 377.
[41. ]Marshal Marmont, “Mémoires,” i. 24. “The sentiment I entertained for the person of the King is difficult to define. . . . (It was) a sentiment of devotion of an almost religious character, a profound respect as if due to a being of a superior order. At this time the word king possessed a magic power in all pure and upright hearts which nothing had changed. This delicate sentiment . . . still existed in the mass of the nation, especially among the well-born, who, sufficiently remote from power, were rather impressed by its brilliancy than by its imperfections.” De Bezancenet, 27. Letter of M. de Dommartin, August 24, 1790. “We have just renewed our oath. I hardly know what it all means. I, a soldier, know only my King; in reality I obey two masters, who, we are told, will secure my happiness and that of my brethren, if they agree together.”
[42. ]De Dammartin, i. 179. See the details of these resignations (iii. 185) after June 20, 1792. Mercure de France, April 14, 1792. Letter from the officers of the battalion of the Royal Chasseurs of Provence (March 9). They are confined to their barracks by their soldiers, who refuse to obey their orders, and they declare that, on this account, they abandon the service and leave France.
[43. ]Rousset, “Les Volontaires de 1791 à 1794,” p. 106. Letter of M. de Biron to the minister (August, 1792); p. 225, letter of Vezu, commander of the 3rd battalion of Paris, to the army of the north (July 24, 1793). “A Residence in France from 1792 to 1795” (September, 1792. Arras). See notes at the end of vol. ii. for the details of these violent proceedings.
[44. ]Mercure de France, March 5, June 4, September 3, October 22, 1791. (Articles by Mallet-Dupan.)—Ibid., April 14, 1792. More than six hundred naval officers resigned after the mutiny of the squadron at Brest. “Twenty-two grave insurrectionary acts in the ports remained unpunished, and several of them through the decisions of the naval jury.” “There is no instance of any insurrection, in the ports or on shipboard, or any outrage upon a naval officer, having been punished. . . . It is not necessary to seek elsewhere for the causes of the abandonment of the service by naval officers. According to their letters all offer their lives to France, but refuse to command those who will not obey.”
[45. ]Duvergier, “Decrees of August 1–6, 1791; February 9–11, 1792; March 30 and April 8, 1792; July 24–28, 1792; March 28 and April 5, 1793.” Report by Roland, January 6, 1793. He estimates this property at 4,800 millions, of which 1,800 millions must be deducted for the creditors of the emigrants; 3,000 millions remain. Now, at this date, the assignats are at a discount of 55 per cent. from their nominal figure.
[46. ]Mercure de France, February 18, 1792.
[47. ]Cf. on this general attitude of the clergy, Sauzay, v. i. and the whole of v. ii.—Mercure de France, September 10, 1791: “No impartial man will fail to see that, in the midst of this oppression, amidst so many fanatical charges of which the reproach of fanaticism and revolt is the pretext, not one act of resistance has yet been manifest. Informers and municipal bodies, governed by clubs, have caused a large number of nonjurors to be cast into dungeons. All have come out of them, or groan there untried, and no tribunal has found any of them guilty.”—Report of M. Cahier, Minister of the Interior, February 18, 1792. He declares that “he had no knowledge of any priest being convicted by the courts as a disturber of the public peace, although several had been accused.”—Moniteur, May 6, 1792 (Report of Français de Nantes): “Not one has been punished for thirty months.”
[48. ]On these spontaneous brutal acts of the Catholic peasants, cf. “Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,236 (Lozère, July–November, 1791). Deliberation of the district of Florac, July 6, 1791, and the official statement of the commissioner of the department on the disturbances in Espagnac. On the 5th of July, Richard, a constitutional curé, calls upon the municipality to proceed to his installation. “The ceremony could not take place, owing to the hootings of the women and children, and the threats of various persons who exclaimed: ‘Kill him! strangle him! he is a Protestant, is married, and has children’; and owing to the impossibility of entering the church, the doors of which were obstructed by the large number of women standing in front of them.”—On the 6th of July, he is installed, but with difficulty. “Inside the church a crowd of women uttered loud cries and bemoaned the removal of their old curé. On returning, in the streets, a large number of women, unsettled by the sight of the constitutional curé, turned their faces aside . . . and contented themselves with uttering disjointed words . . . without doing anything more than cover their faces with their bonnets, casting themselves on the ground.”—July 15. The clerk will no longer serve at the mass nor ring the bells; the curé, Richard, attempting to ring them himself, the people threaten him with ill-treatment if he runs the risk.—September 8, 1791. Letter from the curé of Fau, district of Saint-Chély. “That night I was on the brink of death through a troop of bandits who took my parsonage away from me, after having broken in the doors and windows.”—December 30, 1791. Another curé who goes to take possession of his parsonage is assailed with stones by sixty women, and thus pursued beyond the limits of the parish.—August 5, 1791. Petition of the constitutional bishop of Mende and his four vicars. “Not a day passes that we are not insulted in the performance of our duties. We cannot take a step without encountering hootings. If we go out we are threatened with cowardly assassination, and with being beaten with clubs.”—F7, 3,235 (Bas-Rhin, letter from the Directory of the Department, April 9, 1792): “Ten out of eleven, at least, of the Catholics refuse to recognise sworn priests.”
[49. ]Duvergier, decrees (not sanctioned) of November 29 and May 27, 1792.—Decree of August 26, 1792, after the fall of the throne.—Moniteur, xii. 200 (sitting of April 23, 1793). Report of the Minister of the Interior.
[50. ]Lallier, “Le District de Machecoul,” p. 261, 263.—“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,234. Demand of the prosecuting attorney of the commune of Tonneins (December 21, 1791) for the arrest or expulsion of eight priests “at the slightest act of internal or external hostility.”—Ibid., F7, 3,264. Act of the Council-General of Corrèze (July 16, 17, 18, 1792) to place in arrest all nonjuring priests.—Between these two dates, acts of various kinds and of increasing severity are found in nearly all the departments against the nonjurors.
[51. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,250. Official statement by the directory of the department, March 18, 1791, with all the documents in relation thereto.—F7, 3,200. Letter of the Directory of Calvados, June 13, 1792, with the interrogations. The damages are estimated at 15,000 livres.
[52. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,234. An Act of the Directory of Lot, February 24, 1792, on the disturbances at Marmande.—F7, 3,239, official statement of the municipal body of Rheims, November 5, 6, 7, 1791. The two workmen are a harness-maker and a wool-carder. The priest who administered the baptism is put in prison as a disturber of the public peace.—F7, 3,219. Letter of the royal commissioner at the tribunal of Castelsarrasin, March 5, 1792.—F7, 3,203. Letter of the directory of the district of La Rochelle, June 1, 1792. “The armed force, a witness of these crimes and summoned to arrest these persons in the act, refused to obey.”
[53. ]Memorial by Camille Jourdan (Sainte-Beuve, “Causeries du Lundi,” xii. 250). The guard refuses to give any assistance, coming too late and merely “to witness the disorder, never to repress it.”
[54. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,217. Letters of the curé of Uzès, January 29, 1792; of the curé of Alais, April 5, 1792; of the administrators of Gard, July 28, 1792; of the procureur-syndic, M. Griolet, July 2, 1792; of Castanet, former gendarme, August 25, 1792; of M. Griolet, September 28, 1792.—Ibid., F7, 3,223. Petition by MM. Thueri and Devès in the name of the oppressed of Montpellier, November 17, 1791; letter of the same to the minister, October 28, 1791; letter of M. Dupin, procureur-syndic, August 23, 1791; Act of the Department, August 9, 1791; Petition of the inhabitants of Courmonterral, August 25, 1791.
[55. ]Moniteur, xii. 16, sitting of April 1, 1792. Speech by M. Laureau. “Behold the provinces in flames, insurrection in nineteen departments, and revolt everywhere declaring itself. . . . The only liberty is that of brigandage; we have no taxation, no order, no government.” Mercure de France, April 7, 1792. “More than twenty departments are now participating in the horrors of anarchy and in a more or less destructive insurrection.”
[56. ]Moniteur, xii. 30. Speech by M. Caillasson. The total amount of property sold up to November 1, 1791, is 1,526 millions; the remainder for sale amounts to 669 millions.
[57. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,225. Letter of the Directory of Ile-et-Vilaine, March 24, 1792. “The National Guards of the district purposely expel all nonjuring priests, who have not been replaced, under the pretext of the trouble they would not fail to cause at Easter.”
[58. ]Moniteur, xi. 420. (Sitting of February 18, 1792.) Report by M. Cahier, Minister of the Interior.
[59. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,250. Deposition of the municipal officers of Gosnay and Hesdiguel (district of Bethune), May 18, 1792. Six parishes took part in this expedition; the mayor’s wife had a rope around her neck, and came near being hung.—Moniteur, xii. 154, April 15, 1792.—“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,225. Letter of the Directory of Ile-et-Vilaine, March 24, 1792, and official statement of the commissioners for the district of Vitré; letter of the same directory, April 21, 1792, and report of the commissioners sent to Acigné, April 6.
[60. ]Moniteur, xii. 200. Report of M. Cahier, April 23, 1792. The directories of these four departments refuse to cancel their illegal acts, alleging that “their armed National Guards pursue refractory priests.”
[61. ]Mercure de France, April 7, 1792. Letters written from Aurillac.—“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,202. Letter of the Directory of the District of Aurillac, March 27, 1792 (with seven official statements); of the Directory of the District of Saint-Flour, March 19 (with the report of its commissioners); of M. Duranthon, minister of justice, April 22; petition of M. Lorus, municipal officer of Aurillac.—Letter of M. Duranthon, June 9, 1792. “I am just informed by the royal commissioner of the district of Saint-Flour that, since the departure of the troops, the magistrates dare no longer exercise their functions in the midst of the brigands who surround them.”
[62. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,219. Letters of M. Niel, administrator of the Department of Haute-Garonne, February 27, 1792; of M. Sainfal, March 4; of the directory of the department, March 1; of the royal commissioner, tribunal of Castelsarrasin, March 13.
[63. ]The following are some examples of this rustic creed:—At Lunel, four thousand peasants and village National Guards strive to enter, to hang the aristocrats; their wives are along with them, leading their donkeys with “baskets which they hope to carry away full.” (“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,223. Letter of the municipal body of Lunel, November 4, 1791.) At Uzès it is with great difficulty that they can rid themselves of the peasants who came in to drive out the Catholic royalists. In vain “were they given plenty to eat and to drink”; they go away “in bad humour, especially the women who led the mules and asses to carry away the booty, and who had not anticipated returning home with empty hands.” (De Dammartin, i. 195.) In relation to the siege of Nantes by the Vendéans: “An old woman said to me, ‘Oh, yes, I was there, at the siege. My sister and myself had brought along our sacks. We were quite sure of their entering at least as far as the Rue de la Casserie’ ” (the street of jewellers’ shops). (Michelet, v. 211.)
[64. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,209. Letters of the royal commissioner at the tribunal of Mucidan, March 7, 1792; of the public prosecutor of the District of Sarlat, January, 1792.—Ibid., F7, 3,204. Letters of the administrators of the District of Tulle, April 15, 1792; of the directory of the department, April 18; petition of Jacques Labruc and his wife, with official statement of the justice of the peace, April 24. “All these acts of violence were committed under the eyes of the municipal authorities. They took no steps to prevent them, although they had notice given them in time.”
[65. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,223. Letters of M. Brisson, commissioner of the naval classes of Souillac, February 2, 1792; of the directory of the department, March 14, 1792.—Petition of the brothers Barrié (with supporting documents), October 11, 1791. Letter of the prosecuting attorney of the department, April 4, 1792. Report of the commissioners sent to the District of Figeac, January 5, 1792. Letter of the administrators of the department, May 27, 1792.
[66. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,217. Official reports of the commissioners of the Department of Gard, April 1, 2, 3, and 6, 1792, and letter of April 6. One landowner is taxed 100,000 francs.—Ibid., F7, 3,223. Letter of M. Dupin, prosecuting attorney of l’Hérault, February 17 and 26, 1792. “At the chateau of Pignan, Madame de Lostanges has not one complete piece of furniture left. The cause of these disturbances is religious passion. Five or six nonjuring priests had retreated to the chateau.”—Moniteur, sitting of April 16, 1792. Letter from the directory of the Department of Gard.—De Dammartin, ii. 85. At Uzès, fifty or sixty men in masks invade the ducal chateau at ten o’clock in the evening, set fire to the archives, and the chateau is burnt.
[67. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,196. Official statements of Augier and Fabre, administrators of the Bouches-du-Rhône, sent to Avignon, May 11, 1792. (The reappearance of Jourdain, Mainvielle, and the assassins of La Glacière took place April 29.).
[68. ]De Dammartin, ii. 63. Portalis, “ll est temps de parler” (pamphlet), passim. “Archives Nationales,” F7, 7,090. Memorial of the commissioners of the municipal administration of Arles, year iv., Nivose 22.
[69. ]Mercure de France, May 19, 1792. (Sitting of May 4.) Petition of forty inhabitants of Avignon at the bar of the Legislative Assembly.—“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,195. Letter of the royal commissioners at the tribunal of Apt, March 15, 1792; official report of the municipality, March 21; Letters of the Directory of Apt, March 23 and 28, 1792.
[70. ]“Archives Nationales,” ibid. Letter of Amiel, president of the bureau of conciliation at Avignon, October 28, 1792, and other letters to the minister Roland.—F7, 3,217. Letter of the Justice of the Peace at Roque-Maure, October 31, 1792.
[71. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,246. Official report of the municipality of Metz (with supporting documents), May 15, 1792.
[72. ]“Mémoires de l’Abbé Baton,” one of the priests of the third convoy (a bishop appointed from Séez), p. 233.
[73. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,225. Letter of citizen Bonnemant, commissioner to minister Roland, September 11, 1792.