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CHAPTER II - Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution, vol. 2 
The French Revolution, 3 vols., trans. John Durand, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002). Vol. 2.
Part of: The French Revolution, 3 vols.
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I.Formation of the party—Its recruits—These are rare in the upper class and amongst the masses—They are numerous in the low bourgeois class and in the upper stratum of the people—The position and education which enroll a man in the party—II.Spontaneous associations after July 14, 1789—How these dissolve—Withdrawal of people of sense and occupation—Number of those absent at elections—Birth and multiplication of Jacobin societies—Their influence over their adherents—Their manoeuvres and despotism—III.How they view the liberty of the press—Their political doings—IV.Their rallying-points—Origin and composition of the Paris Jocobin club—It affiliates with provincial clubs—Its Leaders—The Fanatics—The Intriguers—Their object—Their means—V.Small number of Jacobins—Sources of their power—They form a league—They have faith—Their unscrupulousness—The power of the party vested in the group which best fulfills these conditions.
Characters of this sort are found in all classes of society; no situation or position in life protects one from wild Utopias or frantic ambition. We find among the Jacobins a Barras and a Châteauneuf-Randon, two nobles of the oldest families, Condorcet, a marquis, mathematician, philosopher and member of two renowned academies, Gobel, bishop of Lydda and suffragan to the bishop of Bâle, Hérault de Séchelles, a protégé of the Queen’s and attorney-general to the Paris parliament, Lepelletier de St. Fargeau, chief-justice and one of the richest land-owners in France, Charles de Hesse, major-general, born in a royal family, and, last of all, a prince of the blood and fourth personage in the realm, the Duke of Orleans.—But, with the exception of these rare deserters, neither the hereditary aristocracy nor the upper magistracy, nor the highest of the middle class, none of the land-owners who live on their estates, or the leaders of industrial and commercial enterprises, no one belonging to the administration, none of those, in general, who are or deserve to be considered social authorities, furnish the party with recruits; all have too much at stake in the political edifice, shattered as it is, to wish its entire demolition; their political experience, brief as it is, enables them to see at once that a habitable house is not built by merely tracing a plan of it on paper according to the theorems of school geometry.—On the other hand, the theory in the lower class, among the mass of rustics and the populace, unless transformed into a shibboleth, finds no listeners. Métayers, farmers, and small cultivators looking after their own plots of ground, peasants and craftsmen who work too hard to think and whose minds never range beyond a village horizon, busy only with that which brings them in their daily bread, find abstract doctrines unintelligible; should the dogmas of the new catechism arrest their attention the same thing happens as with the old one, they do not understand them; that mental faculty by which an abstraction is reached is not yet formed in them. On being taken to a political club they fall asleep; they opon their eyes only when some one announces that tithes and feudal privileges are to be restored; they can be depended on for nothing more than a broil and a jacquerie; later on, when their grain comes to be taxed or is taken, they prove as refractory under the republic as under the monarchy.
The adepts in this theory come from other quarters, from the two extremes of the lower stratum of the middle class and the upper stratum of the low class. Again, in these two contiguous groups, which merge into each other, those must be left out who, absorbed in their daily occupations or professions, have no time or thought to give to public matters, who have reached a fair position in the social hierarchy and are not disposed to run risks, almost all of them well-established, steady-going, mature, married folks who have sown their wild oats and whom some experience in life has rendered distrustful of themselves and of theories. Overweening conceit is average in average human nature at all times, and with most men speculative ideas obtain but a loose, transient and feeble hold. Moreover, in this society which, for many centuries consists of people accustomed to being ruled, the hereditary spirit is bourgeois, that is to say, used to discipline, fond of order, peaceable and even timid. There remains a minority, a very small one,1 innovating and restless, consisting, on the one hand, of people who are discontented with their calling or profession, because they are of secondary or subaltern rank in it,2 debutants not fully employed and aspirants for careers not yet entered upon; and, on the other hand, of men of unstable character, all who are uprooted by the immense upheaval of things; in the Church, through the suppression of convents and through schism; in the judiciary, in the administration, in the financial departments, in the army, and in various private and public careers, through the reorganisation of institutions, through the novelty of fresh resources and occupations, and through the disturbance caused by the changed relationships of patrons and clients. Many who, in ordinary times, would otherwise remain quiet, become in this way nomadic and extravagant in politics. Among the foremost of these are found those who, through a classical education, can take in an abstract proposition and deduce its consequences, but who, for lack of special preparation for it, and confined to the narrow circle of local affairs, are incapable of forming accurate conceptions of a vast, complex social organisation, and of the conditions which enable it to subsist. Their talent lies in making a speech, in dashing off an editorial, in composing a pamphlet, and in drawing up reports in more or less pompous and dogmatic style, and, if we accept the kind, a few of them who are gifted become eloquent, but that is all. Those who take leading parts, lawyers, notaries, bailiffs and former petty provincial judges and attorneys, are of this class, two-thirds of the members of the Legislative Assembly and of the Convention, surgeons and doctors in small towns, like Bo, Levasseur, and Baudot, second and third-rate literary characters, like Barrère, Louvet, Garat, Manuel, and Ronsin, college professors like Louchet and Romme, school-masters like Leonard Bourdon, journalists like Brissot, Desmoulins and Fréron, actors like Collot d’Herbois, artists like Sergent, Oratoriens like Fouché, capuchins like Chabot, more or less secularised priests like Lebon, Chasles, Lakanal, and Grégoire, students scarcely out of school like St. Just, Monet of Strasbourg, Rousselin of St. Albin, and Julien of the Drôme—in short, badly-cultivated minds sown with poor seed, and in which the theory had only to fall to kill out every good seed and thrive like nettles. Add to these the charlatans and others who live by their wits, the visionary and morbid of all sorts, from Fanchet and Klootz to Châlier or Marat, the whole of that needy, chattering, irresponsible crowd, ever swarming about large cities ventilating its shallow conceits and abortive pretensions. Farther in the background appear those whose scanty education qualifies them to half understand an abstract principle and imperfectly deduce its consequences, but whose roughly-polished instinct atones for the feebleness of a coarse argumentation; through cupidity, envy and rancor, they divine a rich pasture-ground behind the theory, and Jacobin dogmas become dearer to them, because the imagination sees untold treasures beyond the mists in which they are shrouded. They can listen to a club harangue without falling asleep, applaud its tirades in the right place, offer a resolution in a public garden, shout in the tribunes, pen affidavits for arrests, compose orders-of-the-day for the national guard, and lend their lungs, arms, and sabres to whoever bids for them. But here their capacity ends. In this group merchants’ and notaries’ clerks abound, like Hébert and Henriot, Vincent, and Chaumette, butchers like Legendre, postmasters like Drouet, boss-joiners like Duplay, school-teachers like that Buchot who becomes a minister, and many others of the same sort, accustomed to jotting down ideas, with vague notions of orthography and who are apt in speech-making,3 foremen, sub-officers, former mendicant monks, pedlars, tavern-keepers, retailers, market-porters,4 and city-journeymen from Gouchon, the orator of the faubourg St. Antoine, down to Simon, the cobbler of the Temple, from Trinchard, the juryman of the Revolutionary Tribunal, down to grocers, tailors, shoemakers, tapsters, waiters, barbers, and other shopkeepers or artisans who do their work at home, and who are yet to do the work of the September massacres. Add to these the foul remnants of every popular insurrection and dictatorship, beasts of prey like Jourdain of Avignon, and Fournier the American, women like Théroigne, Rose Lacombe, and the tricoteuses of the Convention who have unsexed themselves, the amnestied bandits and other gallows-birds who, for lack of a police, have a wide range, street-strollers and vagabonds, rebels against labor and discipline, the whole of that class in the centre of civilisation which preserves the instincts of savages, and asserts the sovereignty of the people to glut a natural appetite for license, laziness, and ferocity.
Thus is the party recruited through an enlisting process that gleans its subjects from every station in life, but which reaps them down in great swaths, and gathers them together in the two groups to which dogmatism and presumption naturally belong. Here, education has brought man to the threshold, and even to the heart of general ideas; consequently, he feels hampered within the narrow bounds of his profession or occupation, and aspires to something beyond. But as his education has remained superficial or rudimentary, consequently, outside of his narrow circle he feels out of his place. He has a perception or obtains a glimpse of political ideas and, therefore, assumes that he has capacity. But his perception of them is confined to a formula, or he sees them dimly through a cloud; hence his incapacity, and the reason why his mental lacunae as well as his attainments both contribute to make him a Jacobin.
Men thus disposed cannot fail to draw near each other, to understand each other, and combine together; for, in the principle of popular sovereignty, they have a common dogma, and, in the conquest of political supremacy, a common aim. Through a common aim they form a faction, and through a common dogma they constitute a sect, the league between them being more easily effected because they are a faction and sect at the same time.—At first, their association is not distinguishable in the multitude of other associations. Political societies spring up on all sides after the taking of the Bastille. Some kind of organisation had to be substituted for the deposed or tottering government, in order to provide for urgent public needs, to secure protection against ruffians, to obtain supplies of provisions, and to guard against the probable machinations of the court. Committees installed themselves in the Hôtels-de-Ville, while volunteers formed bodies of militia: hundreds of local governments, almost independent, arose in the place of the central government, almost destroyed.5 For six months everybody attended to matters of common interest, each individual getting to be a public personage and bearing his quota of the government load—a heavy load at all times, but heavier in times of anarchy; this, at least, is the opinion of the greatest number, but not the opinion of some of them. Consequently, a division arises amongst those who had assumed this load, and two groups are formed, one huge, inert and disintegrating, and the other small, compact and energetic, each taking one of two ways which diverge from each other, and which keep on diverging more and more.
On the one hand are the ordinary, sensible people, those who are busy, and who are, to some extent, not overconscientious, and not overconceited. The power in their hands is assumed by them because they find it prostrate, lying abandoned in the street; they hold it provisionally only, for they knew beforehand, or soon discover, that they are not qualified for the post, it being one of those which, to be properly filled, needs some preparation and fitness for it. A man does not become legislator or administrator in one day, any more than he suddenly becomes a physician or surgeon. If an accident obliges me to act in the latter capacity, I yield, but against my will, and I do no more than is necessary to save my patients from hurting themselves; my fear of their dying under the operation is very great, and, as soon as some other person can be got to take my place, I go home.6 I should be glad, like everybody else, to have my vote in the selection of this person, and, among the candidates, I should designate, to the best of my ability, one who seemed to me the ablest and most conscientious. Once selected, however, and installed, I should not attempt to dictate to him; his cabinet is private, and I have no right to run there constantly and cross-question him, as if he were a child or under suspicion. It does not become me to tell him what to do; he probably knows more about the case than I do; in any event, to keep a steady hand, he must not be threatened, and, to keep a clear head, he must not be disturbed.—Nor must I be disturbed; my office and books, my shop, my customers must be attended to as well. Everybody has to mind his own business, and whoever would attend to his own and another’s too, spoils both.
This way of thinking prevails with most healthy minds towards the beginning of the year 1790, all whose heads are not turned by insane ambition and the mania for theorising, especially after six months of practical experience and knowing the dangers, miscalculations, and vexations to which one is exposed in trying to lead an eager, overexcited population.—Just at this time, December, 1789, municipal law becomes established throughout the country; all the mayors and municipal officers are elected almost immediately, and in the following months, all administrators of districts and departments. The interregnum has at length come to an end. Legal authorities now exist, with legitimate and clearly-determined functions. Reasonable, honest people gladly turn power over to those to whom it belongs, and certainly do not dream of resuming it. All associations for temporary purposes are at once disbanded for lack of an object, and if others are formed, it is for the purpose of defending established institutions. This is the object of the Federation, and, for six months, people embrace each other and exchange oaths of fidelity. After this, July 14, 1790, they retire into private life, and I have no doubt that, from this date, the political ambition of a large plurality of the French people is satisfied, for, although Rousseau’s denunciations of the social hierarchy are still cited by them, they, at bottom, desire but little more than the suppression of administrative brutality and state favoritism.7 All this is obtained, and plenty of other things besides; the august title of sovereign, the deference of the public authorities, the salutations of all who wield a pen or make a speech, and, still better, actual sovereignty in the appointment to office of all local and national administrators; not only do the people elect their deputies, but every species of functionary of every degree, those of commune, district, and department, officers in the national guard, civil and criminal magistrates, bishops and curés. Again, to ensure the responsibility of the elected to their electors, the term of office fixed by law is a short one,8 the electoral machine which summons the sovereign to exercise his sovereignty being set agoing about every four months.
This was a good deal, and too much, as the sovereign himself soon discovers. Voting so frequently becomes unendurable; so many prerogatives end in getting to be drudgery. Early in 1790, and after this date, the majority forego the privilege of voting and the number of absentees becomes enormous. At Chartres, in May, 1790,9 1,447 out of 1,551 voters do not attend preliminary meetings. At Besançon, in January, 1790, on the election of mayor and municipal officers, 2,141 out of 3,200 registered electors are recorded as absent from the polls, and 2,900 in the following month of November.10 At Grenoble, in August and November of this year, out of 2,500 registered voters, more than 2,000 are noted as absent.11 At Limoges, out of about the same number, there are only 150 voters. At Paris, out of 81,400 electors, in August, 1790, 67,200 do not vote, and, three months later, the number of absentees is 71,408.12 Thus for every elector that votes, there are four, six, eight, ten, and even sixteen that abstain from voting.—In the election of deputies, the case is the same. At the primary meetings of 1791, in Paris, out of 81,200 registered names more than 74,000 fail to respond. In the Doubs, three out of four voters stay away. In one of the cantons of the Côte d’Or, at the close of the polls, only one-eighth of the electors remain at the counting of the votes, while in the secondary meetings the desertion is not less. At Paris, out of 946 electors chosen only 200 are found to give their suffrage; at Rouen, out of 700 there are but 160, and on the last day of the ballot, only 60. In short, “in all departments,” says an orator in the tribune, “scarcely one out of five electors of the second degree discharges his duty.”
In this manner the majority hands in its resignation. Through inertia, want of forethought, lassitude, aversion to the electoral hubbub, lack of political preferences, or dislike of all the political candidates, it shirks the task which the constitution imposes on it. Its object is not to take up the burden of a collateral task in addition—a weightier task, namely, that of devoted labor to a new league. Men who cannot find time once in three months to drop a ballot in the box, will not come three times a week to attend the meetings of a club. Far from meddling with the government, they abdicate, and as they refuse to elect it, they will not undertake to control it.
It is just the opposite with the upstarts and dogmatists who regard their royal privileges seriously. They not only vote at the elections, but they mean to keep in their own hands the authority they delegate. In their eyes every magistrate is one of their creatures, and remains accountable to them, for, in point of law, the people may not part with their sovereignty, while, as a fact, power has proved so sweet that they are not disposed to part with it.13 During the six months preceding the regular elections, they have come to know, comprehend, and test each other; they have held conventicles; a mutual understanding is arrived at, and henceforth, as other associations disappear like scanty vegetation, theirs14 rise vigorously on the abandoned soil. A club is established at Marseilles before the end of 1789; each large town has one within the first six months of 1790, Aix in February, Montpellier in March, Nismes in April, Lyons in May, and Bordeaux in June.15 But their greatest increase takes place after the Federation festival. Just when local gatherings merge into that of the whole country, the sectaries keep aloof, and form leagues of their own. At Rouen, July 14, 1790, two surgeons, a printer, a chaplain at the Conciergerie, a widowed Jewess, and four women or children living in the house—eight persons in all, pure and not to be confounded with the mass16 —bind themselves together, and form a distinct association. Their patriotism is of superior quality, and they take a special view of the social compact;17 in swearing fealty to the constitution they reserve to themselves the Rights of Man, and they mean to maintain not only the reforms already effected, but to complete the Revolution just begun.—During the Federation they have welcomed and indoctrinated their fellows who, on quitting the capital or large cities, become bearers of instructions to the small towns and hamlets; they are told what the object of a club is, and how to form one, and, everywhere, popular associations arise on the same plan, for the same purpose, and bearing the same name. A month later, sixty of these associations are in operation; three months later, one hundred; in March, 1791, two hundred and twenty-nine, and in August, 1791, nearly four hundred.18 After this date a sudden increase takes place, owing to two simultaneous impulses, which scatter their seeds broadcast over the entire territory.—On the one hand, at the end of July, 1791, all moderate men, the friends of law and order, who still hold the clubs in check, all constitutionalists, or Feuillants, withdraw from them and leave them to the ultraism or triviality of the motionnaires;19 the political tone immediately falls to that of the tavern and guard-house, so that wherever one or the other of these is found, there is a political club. On the other hand, a convocation of the electoral body is held at the same date for the election of a new National Assembly, and for the renewal of local governments; the prey being in sight, hunting-parties are everywhere formed to capture it. In two months,20 six hundred new clubs spring up; by the end of September they amount to one thousand, and in June, 1792, to twelve hundred—as many as there are towns and walled boroughs. On the fall of the throne, and at the panic caused by the Prussian invasion, during a period of anarchy which equalled that of July, 1789, there were, according to Roederer, almost as many clubs as there were communes, 26,000, one for every village containing five or six hot-headed, boisterous fellows, or roughs, (tape-durs), with a copyist able to pen a petition.
After November, 1790,21 “every street in every town and hamlet,” says a journal of large circulation, “must have a club of its own. Let some honest mechanic invite his neighbors to his house, where, with a light at the common expense, he may read aloud the decrees of the National Assembly, on which he and his neighbors may comment. Before the meeting closes, in order to enliven the company, which may feel a little gloomy on account of Marat’s articles, let him read the patriotic, amusing imprecations of Pêre Duchesne.”22 —The advice is followed. At these meetings are read aloud pamphlets, newspapers, and catechisms despatched from Paris, the “Gazette Villageoise,” the “Journal du Soir,” the “Journal de la Montagne,” “Pêre Duchesne,” the “Révolutions de Paris,” and “Laclos’ Gazette.” Revolutionary songs are sung, and if a good speaker happens to be present, a former oratorien, lawyer, or pedagogue, he empties his declamatory budget by expatiating on the Greeks and Romans and proclaiming the regeneration of the human species. Another, appealing to women, wants to see “the declaration of the Rights of Man suspended on the walls of their bedrooms as their principal ornament, and, should war break out, these virtuous patriots, marching at the head of our armies like new bacchantes with dishevelled locks, brandishing the thyrsus.” Shouts of applause greet this sentiment. The minds of the listeners, swept away by this gale of declamation, become overheated and ignite through mutual contact; like half-consumed embers that would die out if let alone, they kindle into a blaze when gathered together in a heap.—Their convictions, at the same time, gain strength. There is nothing like a coterie to make these take root. In politics, as in religion, faith generating the church, the latter, in its turn, nourishes faith; in the club, as in the conventicle, each derives authority from the common unanimity, every word and action of the whole tending to prove each in the right. And all the more because a dogma which remains uncontested, ends in seeming incontestable; as the Jacobin lives in a narrow circle, carefully guarded, no contrary opinions find their way to him. The public, in his eyes, seems two hundred persons; their opinion weighs on him without any counterpoise, and, outside of their belief, which is his also, every other belief is absurd and even culpable. Moreover, he discovers through this constant system of preaching, which is nothing but flattery, that he is patriotic, intelligent, virtuous, of which he can have no doubt, because, before being admitted into the club, his civic virtues have been verified and he carries a printed certificate of them in his pocket.—Accordingly, he is one of an élite corps, a corps which, enjoying a monopoly of patriotism, holds itself aloof, talks loud, and is distinguished from ordinary citizens by its tone and way of conducting things. The club of Pontarlier, from the first,23 prohibits its members from using the common forms of politeness. “Members are to abstain from saluting their fellow-citizens by removing the hat, and are to avoid the phrase, ‘I have the honor to be,’ and others of like import, in addressing persons.” A proper idea of one’s importance is indispensable. “Does not the famous tribune of the Jacobins in Paris inspire traitors and impostors with fear? And do not anti-Revolutionists return to dust on beholding it?”
True enough, and in the provinces as well as at the capital, for, scarcely is a club organised when it sets to work on the population generally. In many of the large cities, in Paris, Lyons, Aix and Bordeaux, there are two clubs in partnership,24 one, more or less respectable and parliamentary, “composed partly of the members of the different branches of the administration and specially devoted to purposes of general utility,” and the other, practical and active, made up of bar-room politicians and club-haranguers, who indoctrinate workmen, market-gardeners and the rest of the lower bourgeois class. The latter is a branch of the former, and, in urgent cases, supplies it with rioters. “We are placed amongst the people,” says one of these subaltern clubs, “we read to them the decrees, and, through lectures and counsel, we warn them against the publications and intrigues of the aristocrats. We ferret out and track plotters and their machinations. We welcome and advise all complainants; we enforce their demands, when just; finally, we, in some way, attend to all details.” Thanks to these vulgar auxiliaries, but whose lungs and arms are strong, the party soon becomes dominant; it has force and uses it, and, denying that its adversaries have any rights, it re-establishes privileges of every kind for its own advantage.
Let us consider its mode of procedure in one instance and upon a limited field, the freedom of the press. In December, 1790,25 M. Etienne, an engineer, whom Marat and Fréron had denounced as a spy in their periodicals, brought a suit against them in the police court. The numbers containing the libel were seized, the printers summoned to appear, and M. Etienne claimed a public retraction or 25,000 francs damages with costs. At this the two journalists, considering themselves infallible as well as exempt from arrest, are indignant. “It is of the utmost importance,” writes Marat, “that the informer should not be liable to prosecution as he is accountable only to the public for what he says and does for the public good.” M. Etienne (surnamed Languedoc), therefore, is a traitor: “Monsieur Languedoc, I advise you to keep your mouth shut; if I can have you hung I will.” M. Etienne, nevertheless, persists and obtains a first decision in his favor. Fire and flame are at once belched forth by Marat and Fréron: “Master Thorillon,” exclaims Fréron to the commissary of police, “you shall be punished and held up to the people as an example!” This infamous decision, of course, had to be annulled. “Citizens,” writes Marat, “go in a body to the Hôtel-de-Ville and do not allow one of the guards to enter the court-room.”—On the day of the trial, and in the most condescending spirit, but two grenadiers are let in. These, however, are too many and shouts from the Jacobin crowd arise: “Turn ’em out! We rule here,” upon which the two grenadiers withdraw. Fréron avers triumphantly, by way of compensation, that he had counted in the court-room “sixty of the victors at the Bastille led by the brave Santerre, who intended to interfere in the trial.” The interference, indeed, does take place and first with the plaintiff. M. Etienne is assailed at the entrance of the court-room and nearly knocked down, being so maltreated as to be obliged to take refuge in the guard-room; he is spit upon, and they “move to cut off his ears.” His friends receive “hundreds of kicks,” while he runs away, and the case is postponed. It is called up again several times, but the judges are now to be compelled. A certain Mandart in the audience, author of a pamphlet on “Popular Sovereignty,” springs to his feet and, addressing Bailly, mayor of Paris, and president of the tribunal, challenges the court. As usual Bailly yields, attempting to cover up his weakness with an honorable pretext: “Although a judge can be challenged only by the parties to a suit, the appeal of one citizen is sufficient for me and I leave the bench.” The other judges, who are likewise insulted and menaced, yield also, and, through a sophism which admirably illustrates the times, they discover in the oppression to which the plaintiff is subject a legal device by which they can give a fair color to their denial of justice. M. Etienne having signified to them that neither he nor his counsel could attend in court, because their lives were in danger, the court decides that M. Etienne, “failing to appear in person, or by counsel, is non-suited.” Victorious shouts at once proceed from the two journalists, while their articles on the case disseminated throughout France relieve jurisprudence of the trammels of decisions. Any Jacobin after this may denounce, insult, and calumniate whomsoever he pleases with impunity, sheltered as he is from the action of courts, and held superior to the law.
Let us see, on the other hand, what liberty they allow their adversaries. A fortnight before this, Mallet-Dupan, a writer of great ability, who, in the best periodical of the day, discusses questions week after week free of all personalities, the most independent, straight-forward, and honorable of men, the most eloquent and judicious advocate of public order and true liberty, is waited upon by a deputation from the Palais-Royal,26 consisting of about a dozen well-dressed individuals, civil enough and not too ill-disposed, but quite satisfied that they have a right to interfere; the conversation which ensues shows to what extent the current political creed had turned peoples’ heads.
“One of the party, addressing me, informed me that he and his associates were deputies of the Palais-Royal clubs, and that they had called to notify me that I would do well to change my principles and stop attacking the constitution, otherwise extreme violence would be brought to bear on me. I replied that I recognised no authority but the law and that of the courts; the law is your master and mine, and no respect is shown to the constitution by assailing the freedom of the press.”
“The spokesman responded that the constitution was the common will. ‘As law is the rule of might, you are subject to the government of the strongest and you ought to submit to that. We notify you of the will of the nation and that is the law.’ ”
Mallet-Dupan stated to them that he was not in favor of the ancient régime, but that he did approve of royal authority. “Oh,” exclaimed all together, “we should be sorry not to have a king. We respect the King and maintain his authority. But you are forbidden to oppose the dominant opinion and the liberty which is decreed by the National Assembly.”
Mallet-Dupan, apparently, knows more about this than they do, for he is a Swiss by birth, and has lived under a republic for twenty years. But this does not concern them. They persist all the same, five or six talking at once, misconstruing the sense of the words they use, and each contradicting the other in points of detail, but all agreeing to impose silence on him: “You should not run counter to the popular will, for in doing this you preach civil war, bring the assembly’s decrees into contempt, and irritate the nation.”
Evidently they constitute the nation; at all events they represent it. Through this self-investiture they are at once magistrates, censors, and police, while the scolded journalist is only too glad, in his case, to have them stop at injunctions.
Three days before this he is advised that a body of rioters in his neighborhood “threatened to treat his house like that of M. de Castries,” in which everything had been smashed and thrown out the windows. At another time, apropos of the suspensive or absolute veto, “four savage fellows came to his domicile to warn him, showing him their pistols, that if he dared write in behalf of M. Mounier he should answer for it with his life.” Thus, from the outset, “just as the nation begins to enjoy the inestimable right of free thought and free speech, factional tyrants lose no time in depriving citizens of these, proclaiming to all that would maintain the integrity of their consciences: Tremble, die, or believe as we do!” After this, to impose silence on those who express what is offensive, the populace, the club, the section, decree and execute, each on its own authority,27 searches, arrests, assaults, and, at length, assassinations. During the month of June, 1792, “three decrees of arrest and fifteen denunciations, two acts of affixing seals, four civic invasions of his premises, and the confiscation of whatever belonged to him in France” is the experience of Mallet-Dupan. He passes four years “without knowing with any certainty on going to bed whether he should get out of it in the morning alive and free.” Later on, if he escapes the guillotine and the lantern, it is owing to exile. On the 10th of August, Suleau, a conservative journalist, is massacred in the street.—This shows how the party regards the freedom of the press. Other liberties may be judged of by its encroachments on this domain. Law, in its eyes, is null when it proves an obstacle, and when it affords protection to adversaries; consequently there is no excess which it does not sanction for itself, and no right which it does not refuse to others.
There is no escape from the tyranny of the clubs. “That of Marseilles has forced the city officials to resign;28 it has summoned the municipal body to appear before it; it has ignored the authority of the department, and has insulted the administrators of the law. Members of the Orleans club have kept the national Supreme Court under supervision, and taken part in its proceedings. Those of the Caen club have insulted the magistrates, and seized and burnt the records of the proceedings commenced against the destroyers of the statue of Louis XIV. At Alby they have forcibly abstracted from the record-office the papers relating to an assassin’s trial, and burnt them.” The club at Coutance gives the deputies of its district to understand that “no reflections must be cast on the laws of the people.” That of Lyons stops an artillery train, under the pretext that the ministry in office does not enjoy the nation’s confidence.—Thus does the club everywhere reign, or prepare to reign. On the one hand, at the elections, it sets aside or supports candidates; it alone votes, or, at least, controls the voting; in short, the club is the elective power, and practically, if not legally, enjoys the privileges of a political aristocracy. On the other hand, it assumes to be a spontaneous police-board; it prepares and circulates the lists which designate the ill-disposed, suspected, and lukewarm; it lodges information against nobles whose sons have emigrated; against unsworn priests who still reside in their former parishes, and against nuns, “whose conduct is unconstitutional”; it prompts, directs, and rebukes local authorities; it is itself a supplemental, superior, and usurping authority.
All at once, sensible men realise its character, and protest against it. “A body thus organised,” says a petition,29 “exists solely for arming one citizen against another. … Discussions take place there, and denunciations are made under the seal of inviolable secrecy. … Honest citizens, surrendered to the most atrocious calumny, are destroyed without an opportunity of defending themselves. It is a veritable Inquisition. It is the centre of seditious publications, a school of cabals and intrigue. If the citizens have to blush at the selection of unworthy candidates, they are all due to this class of associations. … Composed of the excited and the incendiary, of those who aim to rule the State,” the club everywhere tends “to a mastery of the popular intelligence, to thwarting the municipalities, to an intrusion of itself between these and the people,” to an usurpation of legal forms and a “colossus of despotism.”
Vain complaints! The National Assembly, ever in alarm on its own account, shields the popular club and accords it its favor or indulgence. A journal of the party had recommended “the people to form themselves into small platoons.” These platoons, one by one, are growing. Each borough now has a local oligarchy, a drilled and governing band. The formation of an army out of these scattered bands, simply requires a staff and a central rallying-point. The central point and the staff are both a long time ready in Paris, in the association of the “Friends of the Constitution.”
No association in France, indeed, dates farther back, and has an equal prestige. It was born before the Revolution, April 30, 1789.30 At the assembly of the States-General in Brittany, the deputies from Quimper, Hennebon, and Pontivy saw how important it was to vote in concert, and they had scarcely reached Versailles when, in common with others, they hired a hall, and, along with Mounier, secretary of the States-General of Dauphiny, and other deputies from the provinces, at once organised a union which was destined to last. Up to the 6th of October, none but deputies were comprised in it; after that date, on removing to Paris, in the library of the Jacobins, a convent in the Rue St. Honoré, many well-known eminent men were admitted, such as Condorcet, and then Laharpe, Chénier, Champfort, David, and Talma, among the most prominent, with other authors and artists, the whole amounting to about a thousand notable personages.—No assemblage could be more imposing—two or three hundred deputies are on its benches, while its rules and by-laws seem specially designed to gather a superior body of men. Candidates for admission were proposed by ten members and afterwards voted on by ballot. To be present at one of its meetings required a card of admission. On one occasion, a member of the committee of two, appointed to verify these cards, happens to be the young Duc de Chartres. There is a committee on administration and a president. Discussions took place with parliamentary formalities, and, according to its statutes, the questions considered there were those under debate in the National Assembly.31 In a lower hall, at certain hours, workmen received instruction and the constitution was explained to them. Seen from afar, no society seems worthier of directing public opinion; near by, the case is different. In the departments, however, where distance lends enchantment, and where old customs prevail implanted by centralisation, it is accepted as a guide because its seat is at the capital. Its statutes, its regulations, its spirit, are all imitated; it becomes the alma mater of other associations and they its adopted daughters. It publishes, accordingly, a list of all clubs conspicuously in its journal, together with their denunciations; it insists on their demands; henceforth, every Jacobin in the remotest borough feels the support and endorsement, not only of his local club, but again of the great club whose numerous offshoots overspread the territory and thus extend its all-powerful protection to the least of its adherents. In return for this protection, each associated club obeys the word of command given at Paris, and, to and fro, from the centre to the extremities, a constant correspondence maintains the established harmony. A vast political machine is thus set agoing, a machine with thousands of arms, all working at once under one impulsion, and the lever which gives the motion is in the hands of a few master spirits in the Rue St. Honoré.
No machine could be more effective; never was one seen so well contrived for manufacturing artificial, violent public opinion, for making this appear to be national, spontaneous sentiment, for conferring the rights of the silent majority on a vociferous minority, for forcing the surrender of the government. “Our tactics were very simple,” says Grégoire.32 “It was understood that one of us should take advantage of the first favorable opportunity to propose some measure in the National Assembly that was sure to be applauded by a small minority and cried down by the majority. But that made no difference. The proposer demanded, which was granted, that the measure should be referred to a committee in which its opponents hoped to see it buried. Then the Paris Jacobins took hold of it. A circular was issued, after which an article on the measure was printed in their journal and discussed in three or four hundred clubs that were leagued together. Three weeks after this the Assembly was flooded with petitions from every quarter, demanding a decree of which the first proposal had been rejected, and which it now passed by a great majority because a discussion of it had ripened public opinion.” In other words, the Assembly must go ahead or it will be driven along, in which process the worst expedients are the best. Those who conduct the club, whether fanatics or intriguers, are fully agreed on this point.
At the head of the former class is Duport, once a counsellor in the parliament, who, after 1788, knew how to turn riots to account. The first revolutionary conventicles were held in his house. He wants to plough deep, and his devices for burying the ploughshare are such that Siéyes, a radical, if there ever was one, dubbed it a “cavernous policy.”33 Duport, on the 28th of July, 1789, is the organiser of the Committee on Searches, by which all favorably disposed informers or spies form in his hands a supervisory police, which fast becomes a police of provocation. He finds recruits in the lower hall of the Jacobin club, where workmen come to be catechised every morning, while his two lieutenants, the brothers Laurette, have only to draw on the same source for a zealous staff in a choice selection of their instruments. “Ten reliable men receive orders there daily;34 each of these in turn gives his orders to ten more, belonging to different battalions in Paris. In this way each battalion and section receives the same insurrectionary orders, the same denunciations of the constituted authorities, of the mayor of Paris, of the president of the department, and of the commander of the National Guard,” while all are secret. It is a work of darkness. Its own chiefs call it “the Sabbat.” They enlist ruffians along with fanatics. “They start a report that, on a certain day, there will be great commotion with assassinations and pillage, preceded by the payment of money distributed from hand to hand by subaltern officers among those that can be relied on, and that these bands are to assemble, as advertised, within a radius of thirty or forty leagues.”35 —One day, to provoke a riot, “half a dozen men, who have arranged the thing, form a small group, in which one of them holds forth vehemently; at once a crowd of about sixty others gathers around them, whereupon they withdraw and betake themselves to other places,” to form fresh groups and make their excitement pass for popular irritation.—Another day, “about forty fanatics, with powerful lungs, and four or five hundred paid men,” scatter themselves around the Tuileries, “yelling furiously,” and, gathering under the windows of the Assembly, “move resolutions to assassinate.” “Your officers,” says a deputy, “whom you ordered to suppress this tumult, heard reiterated threats of bringing you the heads of those they wished to proscribe.” That very evening, in the Palais-Royal, “I heard a subordinate leader of this factious band boast of having enjoined your officers to take this answer back, adding that there was time enough yet for all good citizens to follow his advice.”—The watchword of these agitators is, are you true? and the response is, a true man. Their pay is twelve francs a day, and when in action they make engagements on the spot at that rate. “From several depositions taken by officers of the National Guard and at the mayoralty,” it is ascertained that twelve francs a day were tendered to “honest people to join in with those you may have heard shouting, and some of them actually had the twelve francs put into their hands.”—The money comes from the coffers of the Duke of Orleans, and they are freely drawn upon; at his death, with a property amounting to 114,000,000 francs, his debts amount to 74,000,000.36 Being one of the faction, he contributes to its expenses, and, being the most opulent man in the kingdom, he contributes proportionately to his wealth. Not because he is a party leader, for he is too effeminate, too enervated; but “his petty council,”37 and especially one of his private secretaries, Laclos, cherishes great designs for him, their object being to make him lieutenant-general of the kingdom, afterwards regent, and even king,38 so that they may rule in his name and “share the profits.”—In the mean time they turn his whims to the best account, particularly Laclos, who is a kind of subordinate Machiavelli, capable of anything, profound, depraved, and long indulging his fondness for monstrous combinations; nobody ever so coolly delighted in indescribable compounds of human wickedness and debauchery. In politics, as in romance, his department is “Les Liaisons Dangereuses.” Formerly he manoeuvred as an amateur with prostitutes and ruffians in the fashionable world; now he manoeuvres in earnest with the prostitutes and ruffians of the sidewalks. On the 5th of October, 1789, he is seen, “dressed in a brown coat,”39 foremost among the women starting for Versailles, while his hand40 is visible “in the Réveillon affair, also in the burning of barriers and châteaux,” and in the widespread panic which aroused all France against imaginary bandits. His operations, says Malouet, “were all paid for by the Duke of Orleans”; he entered into them “for his own account, and the Jacobins for theirs.”—At this time their alliance is plain to everybody. On the 21st of November, 1790, Laclos becomes secretary of the club, chief of the department of correspondence, titular editor of its journal, and the invisible, active, and permanent director of all its enterprises. Whether actual demagogues or prompted by ambition, whether paid agents or earnest revolutionists, each group works on its own account, both in concert, both in the same direction, and both devoted to the same undertaking, which is the conquest of power by every possible means.
At first sight their success seems doubtful, for they are in a minority, and a very small one. At Besançon, in November, 1791, the revolutionists of every shade of opinion and degree, whether Girondists or Montagnards, consist of about 500 or 600 out of 3,000 electors, and, in November, 1792, of not more than the same number out of 6,000 and 7,000.41 At Paris, in November, 1791, there are 6,700 out of more than 81,000 on the rolls; in October, 1792, there are less than 14,000 out of 160,000.42 At Troyes, in 1792, there are found only 400 or 500 out of 7,000 electors, and at Strasbourg the same number out of 8,000 electors.43 Accordingly only about one-tenth of the electoral population are revolutionists, and if we leave out the Girondists and the semi-conservatives, the number is reduced by one-half. Towards the end of 1792, at Besançon, scarcely more than 300 pure Jacobins are found in a population of from 25,000 to 30,000, while at Paris, out of 700,000 inhabitants only 5,000 are Jacobins. It is certain that in the capital, where the most excitement prevails, and where more of them are found than elsewhere, never, even in a crisis and when vagabonds are paid and bandits recruited, are there more than 10,000.44 In a large town like Toulouse a representative of the people on missionary service wins over only about 400 persons.45 Counting fifty or so in each small town, twenty in each large borough, and five or six in each village, we find, on an average, but one Jacobin to fifteen electors and National Guards, while, taking the whole of France, all the Jacobins put together do not amount to 300,000.46 —This is a small number for the enslavement of six millions of able-bodied men, and for installing in a country of twenty-six millions inhabitants a more absolute despotism than that of an Asiatic sovereign. Force, however, is not measured by numbers; they form a band in the midst of a crowd and, in this disorganised, inert crowd, a band that is determined to push its way like an iron wedge splitting a log.
The only defense a nation has against inward usurpation as well as invasion from without is its government. Government is the indispensable instrument of common action. Let it fail or falter and the great majority, otherwise employed, undecided what to do and lukewarm, disintegrates and falls to pieces. Of the two governments around which the nation might have rallied, the first one, after July 14, 1789, lies prostrate on the ground where it slowly crumbles away; its phantom which rises up is still more odious; the latter not only brings with it the same senseless abuses and intolerable burdens, but, in addition to these, a yelping pack of claimants and recriminators; after 1790 it appears on the frontier more arbitrary than ever at the head of a coming invasion of angry émigrés and grasping foreigners.—The other government, that just constructed by the Constituent Assembly, it is so badly put together that the majority cannot use it. It is not adapted to its hand; no political instrument at once so ponderous and so powerless was ever seen. An enormous effort is needed to set it agoing; every citizen is obliged to give to it about two days labor per week.47 Thus laboriously started and but half in motion, it poorly meets the various tasks imposed upon it—the collection of taxes, public order in the streets, the circulation of supplies, and security for consciences, lives and property. Toppled over by its own action, another rises out of it, illegal and serviceable, which takes its place and stands.
In a great centralised state whoever possesses the head possesses the body. By virtue of being led, the French have contracted the habit of letting themselves be led.48 People in the provinces involuntarily turn their eyes to the capital, and, on a crisis occurring, run out to stop the mail-carrier to know what government they are under. Into whatever hands this central government happens to have fallen, the majority accepts or submits to it.—Because, in the first place, most of the isolated groups which would like to overthrow it dare not engage in the struggle—it seems too strong; through inveterate routine they imagine behind it that great, distant France which, under its impulsion, will crush them with its mass.49 In the second place, should a few isolated groups undertake to overthrow it, they are not in a condition to keep up the struggle—it is too strong. They are, indeed, not yet organised while it is fully so, owing to the docile set of officials inherited from the government overthrown. Under monarchy or republic the government clerk comes to his office regularly every morning to despatch the orders transmitted to him.50 Under monarchy or republic the policeman daily makes his round to arrest those against whom he has a warrant. So long as instructions come from above in the hierarchical order of things, they are obeyed. From one end of the territory to the other, therefore, the machine, with its hundred thousand arms, works efficaciously in the hands of those who have seized the lever at the central point. Resolution, audacity, rude energy, are all that are needed to make the lever act, and none of these are wanting in the Jacobin.
First, he has faith, and faith at all times “moves mountains.” Take any ordinary party recruit, an attorney, a second-rate lawyer, a shopkeeper, an artisan, and conceive, if you can, the extraordinary effect of this doctrine on a mind so poorly prepared for it, so narrow, so out of proportion with the gigantic conception which has mastered it. Formed for routine and the limited views of one in his position, he is suddenly carried away by a complete system of philosophy, a theory of nature and of man, a theory of society and of religion, a theory of universal history,51 conclusions about the past, the present, and the future of humanity, axioms of absolute right, a system of perfect and final truth, the whole concentrated in a few rigid formulae as, for example: “Religion is superstition, monarchy is usurpation, priests are impostors, aristocrats are vampires, and kings are so many tyrants and monsters.” These ideas flood a mind of this stamp like a vast torrent precipitating itself into a narrow gorge; they upset it, and, no longer under self-direction, they sweep it away. The man is beside himself. A plain bourgeois, a common laborer is not transformed with impunity into an apostle or liberator of the human species.—For, it is not his country that he would save, but the entire race. Roland, just before the 10th of August, exclaims “with tears in his eyes, should liberty die in France, she is lost to the rest of the world forever! The hopes of philosophers will perish! the whole earth will succumb to the cruellest tyranny!”52 —Grégoire, on the meeting of the Convention, obtained a decree abolishing royalty, and seemed overcome with the thought of the immense benefit he had conferred on the human race. “I must confess,” said he, “that for days I could neither eat nor sleep for excess of joy!” One day a Jacobin in the tribune declared: “We shall be a nation of gods!”—Fancies like these bring on lunacy, or, at all events, they create disease. “Some men are in a fever all day long,” said a companion of St. Just; “I had it for twelve years.”53 Later on, “when advanced in life and trying to analyse their experiences, they cannot comprehend it.” Another states that, in his case, on a “crisis occurring, there was only a hair’s breadth between reason and madness.” “When St. Just and myself,” says Baudot, “discharged the batteries at Wissenbourg, we were most liberally thanked for it. Well, there was no merit in that; we knew perfectly well that the shot could not reach us and do us harm.”—Man, in this exalted state, is unconscious of obstacles, and, according to circumstances, rises above or falls below himself, freely spilling his own blood as well as the blood of others, heroic as a soldier and atrocious as a civilian; he is not to be resisted in either direction for his strength increases a hundredfold through his fury, and, on his tearing wildly through the streets, people get out of his way as on the approach of a mad bull.
If they do not jump aside of their own accord, he will run at them, for he is unscrupulous as well as furious.—In every political struggle certain kinds of actions are prohibited; at all events, if the majority is sensible and wishes to act fairly, it repudiates them for itself. It will not violate any particular law, for, if one law is broken, this tends to the breaking of others. It is opposed to overthrowing an established government because every interregnum is a return to barbarism. It is opposed to the element of popular insurrection because, in such a resort, public power is surrendered to the irrationality of brutal passion. It is opposed to a conversion of the government into a machine for confiscation and murder because it deems the natural function of government to be the protection of life and property.—The majority, accordingly, in confronting the Jacobin, who allows himself all this, is like a man deprived of his arms in close conflict with one in full panoply.54 The Jacobin, through principle, holds law in contempt, for the only law which he accepts is the arbitrament of the people. He has no hesitation in proceeding against the government because, in his eyes, the government is a clerk which the people always has a right to remove. He welcomes insurrection because, through it, the people recover their inalienable sovereignty. A dictatorship suits him because by this means the people recover their sovereignty with no limitations.—Moreover, as with casuists, “the end justifies the means.”55 “Let the colonies perish,” exclaims a Jacobin in the Constituent Assembly, “rather than sacrifice a principle.” “When the day comes,” says St. Just, “which satisfies me that I cannot endow the French with mild, vigorous, and rational ways, inflexible against tyranny and injustice, that day I will stab myself,” and in the mean time, he uses the guillotine against others. “We will convert France into a graveyard,” exclaimed Carrier, “rather than not regenerate it our own way!”56 To place themselves at the helm of the government, they are ready to scuttle the ship and sink it. From the first, they let loose on society street riots and jacqueries in the rural districts, prostitutes and ruffians, the foul and the savage. Throughout the struggle they profit by the coarsest and most destructive passions, by the blindness, credulity, and rage of an infatuated crowd, by dearth, by the fear of bandits, by rumors of conspiracy, by threats of invasion. At last, attaining to power through a general upheaval, they hold on to it through terror and executions.—Straining will to the utmost, with no curb to check it, steadfastly believing in its own right and with utter contempt for the rights of others, with fanatical energy and the expedients of scoundrels, a minority employing such forces may easily overcome a majority. So true is it that, with faction itself, victory is always on the side of the few whose faith is greatest and who are the least unscrupulous. Four times between 1789 and 1794, political gamesters take their seats at a table whereon the stakes consist of supreme power, and four times in succession the “Impartiaux,” the “Feuillants,” the “Girondists,” and the “Dantonists,” form the majority and lose the game. Four times in succession the majority has no desire to break customary rules, or, at the very least, to infringe on any rule universally accepted, to wholly disregard the teachings of experience, the letter of the law, the precepts of humanity, the suggestions of pity. The minority, on the contrary, is determined beforehand to win at all hazards; its opinion is the right one, and if rules are opposed to that, so much the worse for the rules. At the decisive moment, it claps a pistol to its adversary’s head, turns the table upside down, and decamps with the stakes.
[1. ]See the figures further on.
[2. ]Mallet-Dupan, II. 491. Danton, in 1793, said one day to one of his former brethren, an advocate to the Council: “The old régime made a great mistake. It brought me up on a scholarship in Plessis College. I was brought up with nobles, who were my comrades, and with whom I lived on familiar terms. On completing my studies, I had nothing; I was poor, and tried to get a place. The Paris bar was unapproachable, and it required an effort to be accepted. I could not get into the army, without either rank or a patron. There was no opening for me in the Church. I could purchase no employment, for I hadn’t a cent. My old companions turned their backs on me. I remained without a situation, and only after many long years did I succeed in buying the post of advocate in the Royal Council. The Revolution came, when I, and all like me, threw themselves into it. The ancient régime forced us to do so, by providing a good education for us, without providing an opening for our talents.” This applies to Robespierre, C. Desmoulins, Brissot, Vergniaud, and others.
[3. ]Dauban, “La Demagogie à Paris en 1793,” and “Paris in 1794.” Read General Henriot’s orders of the day in these two works. Compardon, “Histoire du Tribunal Révolutionnaire de Paris,” a letter by Trinchard, I. 306 (which is here given in the original, on account of the orthography): “Si tu nest pas toute seulle et que le compagnion soit a travalier tu peus ma chaire amie venir voir juger 24 mesieurs tous si devent président ou conselier au parlement de Paris et de Toulouse. Je t’ainvite a prendre quelque choge aven de venir parcheque nous naurons pas fini de 3 heures. et embrase ma chaire amie et epouge.” Ibid., II, 350, examination of André Chenier.—Wallon, “Hist. du Trib. Rév.”, I, 316 Letter by Simon. “Je te coitte le bonjour mois est mon est pousse.”
[4. ]“Forts de la Halle.” They assumed the title of “Les forts pour la patrie.”
[5. ]Cf. “The Revolution,” page 60.
[6. ]Cf. on this point the admissions of the honest Bailly (“Mémoires,” passim).
[7. ]Rétif de la Bretonne: “Nuits de Paris,” iième nuit, p. 36. “I lived in Paris twenty-five years as free as air. All could enjoy as much freedom as myself in two ways—by living uprightly, and by not writing pamphlets against the ministry. All else was permitted, my freedom never being interfered with. It is only since the Revolution that a scoundrel could succeed in having me arrested twice.”
[8. ]Cf. “The Revolution,” Vol. I. p. 264.
[9. ]Moniteur, IV. 495. (Letter from Chartres, May 27, 1790.)
[10. ]Sauzay, I. 147, 195, 218, 711.
[11. ]Mercure de France, numbers of August 7, 14, 26, and Dec. 18, 1790.
[12. ]Ibid., number of November 26, 1790. Pétion is elected mayor of Paris by 6,728 out of 10,632 voters. “Only 7,000 voters are found at the election of the electors who elect deputies to the legislature. Primary and municipal meetings are deserted in the same proportion.”—Moniteur, X. 529 (Number of Dec. 4, 1791). Manuel is elected Attorney of the Commune by 3,770 out of 5,311 voters.—Ibid. XI. 378. At the election of municipal officers for Paris, Feb. 10 and 11, 1792, only 3,787 voters present themselves; Dussault, who obtains the most votes, has 2,588; Sergent receives 1,648.—Buchez et Roux, XI. 238 (session of Aug. 12, 1791). Speech by Chapelier; “Archives Nationales,” F. 6 (carton), 21. Primary meeting of June 13, 1791, canton of Bèze (Côte d’Or). Out of 460 active citizens, 157 are present, and, on the final ballot, 58.—Ibid., F. 3,235 (January, 1792). Lozerre: “1,000 citizens, at most, out of 25,000, voted in the primary meetings. At Saint-Chèly, capital of the district, a few armed ruffians succeed in forming the primary meeting and in substituting their own election for that of eight parishes, whose frightened citizens withdrew from it.… At Langogne, chief town of the canton and district, out of more than 400 active citizens, 22 or 23 at most—just what one would suppose them to be when their presence drove away the rest—alone formed the meeting.”
[13. ]This power, with its gratifications, is thus shown, Beugnot, I. 140, 147. “On the publication of the decrees of August 4, the committee of overseers of Montigny, reinforced by all the patriots of the country, came down like a torrent on the barony of Choiseul, and exterminated all the hares and partridges.… They fished out the ponds.… At Mandre we happen to be in the front room of the inn, with a dozen peasants gathered around a table decked with tumblers and bottles, amongst which we noticed an inkstand, pens, and something resembling a register. ‘I don’t know what they are about,’ said the landlady, but there they are, from morning till night, drinking, swearing, and storming away at everybody, and they say that they are a committee.’ ”
[14. ]Albert Babeau, I. 206, 242.—The first meeting of the revolutionary committee of Troyes, in the cemetery of St. Jules, August, 1789. This committee becomes the only authority in the town, after the assassination of the mayor, Huez (Sept. 10, 1790).
[15. ]“The French Revolution,” Vol. I. pp. 235, 242, 251.—Buchez et Roux, VI. 179.—Guillon de Montléon, “Histoire de la Ville de Lyon pendant la Révolution,” I. 87.—Guadet, “Les Girondins.”
[16. ]Michelet, “Histoire de la Révolution,” II. 47.
[17. ]The rules of the Paris club state that members must “labor to establish and strengthen the constitution, according to the spirit of the club.”
[18. ]Mercure de France, Aug. 11, 1790.—“Journal de la Société des Amis de la Constitution,” Nov. 21, 1790.—Ibid., March, 1791.—Ibid., Aug. 14, 1791 (speech by Roederer).—Buchez et Roux, XI. 481.
[19. ]So called from certain individuals seizing every opportunity at political meetings to make motions and offer resolutions.—Tr.
[20. ]Michelet, II. 407.—Moniteur, XII 347 (May 11, 1792), article by Marie Chénier, according to whom 800 Jacobin clubs exist at this date.—Ibid., XII. 753 (speech by M. Delfaux, session of June 25, 1792).—Roederer, preface to his translation of Hobbes.
[21. ]“Les Révolutions de Paris,” by Prudhomme, number 173.
[22. ]Constant, “Histoire d’un Club Jacobin en province,” passim (Fontainbleau Club, founded May 5, 1791).—Albert Babeau, I. 434 and following pages (foundation of the Troyes Club, Oct. 1790). Sauzay, I. 206 and following pages (foundation of the Besançon Club, Aug. 28, 1790). Ibid., 214 (foundation of the Pontarlier Club, March, 1791).
[23. ]Sauzay, I. 214 (April 2, 1791).
[24. ]“Journal des Amis de la Constitution,” I. 534 (Letter of the “Café National” Club of Bordeaux, Jan. 29, 1791). Guillon de Montléon, I. 88.—“The French Revolution,” vol. I. 128, 242.
[25. ]Eugène Hatin, “Histoire politique et littéraire de la presse,” IV. 210 (with Marat’s text in “l’Ami du peuple,” and Fréron’s in “l’Orateur du peuple”).
[26. ]Mercure de France, Nov. 27, 1790.
[27. ]Mercure de France, Sept. 3, 1791 (article by Mallet-Dupan). “On the strength of a denunciation, the authors of which I knew, the Luxembourg section on the 21st of June, the day of the king’s departure, sent commissaries and a military detachment to my domicile. There was no judicial verdict, no legal order, either of police-court, or justice of the peace, no examination whatever preceding this mission.… The employés of the section overhauled my papers, books and letters, transcribing some of the latter, and carried away copies and the originals, putting seals on the rest, which were left in charge of two fusileers.”
[28. ]Mercure de France, Aug. 27, 1791 (report by Duport-Dutertre, Minister of Justice).—Ibid., Cf. numbers of Sept. 8, 1790, and March 12, 1791.
[29. ]Sauzay, I. 208. (Petition of the officers of the National Guard of Besançon, and observations of the municipal body, Sept. 15, 1790.—Petition of 500 national guards, Dec. 15, 1790).—Observations of the district directory, which directory, having authorised the club, avows that “three-quarters” of the national guard and a portion of other citizens “are quite hostile to it.”—Similar petitions at Dax, Chalons-sur-Saône, etc., against the local club.
[30. ]“Lettres” (manuscript) of M. Roullé, deputy from Pontivy, to his constituents (May 1, 1789).
[31. ]A rule of the association says: “The object of the association is to discuss questions beforehand which are to be decided by the National Assembly, … and to correspond with associations of the same character which may be formed in the kingdom.”
[32. ]“Mémoires,” I. 387.
[33. ]Malouet, II. 248. “I saw Counsellor Duport, who was a fanatic, and not a bad man, with two or three others like him, exclaim: ‘Terror! Terror! What a pity that it has become necessary!’ ”
[34. ]Lafayette, “Mémoires” (in relation to Messieurs de Lameth and their friends). According to a squib of the day: “What Duport thinks, Barnave says and Lameth does.”—This trio was named the Triumvirate. Mirabeau, a government man, and a man to whom brutal disorder was repugnant, called it the Triumgueusat, or trinity of shabby fellows.
[35. ]Moniteur, V. 212, 583. (Report and speech of Dupont de Nemours, sessions of July 31 and September 7, 1790.)—Vagabonds and ruffians begin to play their parts in Paris on the 27th of April, 1789 (the Réveillon affair).—Already on the 30th of July, 1789, Rivarol wrote: “Woe to whoever stirs up the lees of a nation! There is no century of light for the populace!”—In the Discours préliminaire of his future dictionary, he refers to his articles of this period: “There may be seen the precautions I took to prevent Europe from attributing to the French nation the horrors committed by the crowd of ruffians which the Revolution and the gold of a great personage had attracted to the capital.”—“Letter of a deputy of his constituents,” published by Duprez, Paris, in the beginning of 1790 (cited by M. de Ségur, in the Revue de France, September 1, 1880). It relates to the manoeuvres for forcing a vote in favor of confiscating clerical property. “Throughout All-Saints’ day (November 1, 1789), drums were beaten to call together the band known here as the Coadjutors of the Revolution. On the morning of November 2, when the deputies resorted to the Assembly, they found the cathedral square and all the avenues to the archbishop’s palace, where the sessions were held, filled with an innumerable crowd of people. This army was composed of from 20,000 to 25,000 men, of which the greater number had no shoes or stockings; woollen caps and rags formed their uniform and they had clubs for guns. They overwhelmed the ecclesiastical deputies with insults, as they passed on their way, and vociferated that they would massacre without mercy all who would not vote for stripping the clergy.… Near 300 deputies who were opposed to the motion did not dare attend the Assembly.… The rush of ruffians in the vicinity of the hall, their comments and threats, excited fears of this atrocious project being carried out. All who did not feel courageous enough to immolate themselves, avoided going to the Assembly.” (The decree was adopted by 378 votes, against 346.)
[36. ]Cf. “The Ancient Régime,” p. 51.
[37. ]Malouet, I. 247, 248.—“Correspondence (manuscript) of M. de Staël,” Swedish Ambassador, with his court, copied from the archives at Stockholm by M. Léouzu-Le-Duc (letter of April 21, 1791). “M. Laclos, secret agent of this wretched prince, a clever man and subtle intriguer.” April 24: “His agents are more to be feared than himself. Through his bad conduct, he is more of an injury to his party than a benefit.”
[38. ]Especially after the king’s flight to Varennes, and at the time of the affair in the Champ de Mars. The petition of the Jacobins was drawn up by Laclos and Brissot.
[39. ]Investigations at the Chatelet, testimony of Count d’Absac de Ternay.
[40. ]Malouet I. 247, 248. This evidence is conclusive. “Apart from what I saw myself,” says Malouet, “M. de Montmorin and M. Delessart communicated to me all the police reports of 1789 and 1790.”
[41. ]Sauzay, 11. 79 (municipal election, Nov. 15, 1791).—III. 221 (mayoralty election, November, 1792). The half-way moderates had 237 votes, and the sans-culottes, 310.
[42. ]Mercure de France, Nov. 26, 1791 (Pétion was elected mayor, Nov. 17, by 6,728 votes out of 10,682 voters).—Mortimer-Ternaux, V. 95. (Oct. 4, 1792, Pétion was elected mayor by 13,746 votes out of 14,137 voters. He declines.—Oct. 21, d’Ormessan, a moderate, who declines to stand, has, nevertheless, 4,910 votes. His competitor, Lhuillier, a pure Jacobin, obtains only 4,896.)
[43. ]Albert Babeau, II. 15. (The 32,000 inhabitants of Troyes indicate about 7,000 electors. In December, 1792, Jacquet is elected mayor by 400 votes out of 555 voters. A striking coincidence is found in there being 400 members of the Troyes club at this time.)—Carnot, “Mémoires,” I. 181. “Dr. Bollmann, who passed through Strasbourg in 1792, relates that, out of 8,000 qualified citizens, only 400 voters presented themselves.”
[44. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, VI. 21. In February, 1793, Pache is elected mayor of Paris by 11,881 votes.—Journal de Paris, number 185. Henriot, July 2, 1793, is elected commander-in-chief of the Paris national guard, by 9,084, against 6,095 votes given for his competitor, Raffet. The national guard comprises at this time 110,000 registered members, besides 10,000 gendarmes and federates. Many of Henriot’s partisans, again, voted twice. (Cf. on the elections and the number of Jacobins at Paris, chapters xi. and xii. of this volume.)
[45. ]Michelet, VI. 95. “Almost all (the missionary representatives) were supported by only the smallest minority. Baudot, for instance, at Toulouse, in 1793, had but 400 men for him.”
[46. ]For example, “Archives Nationales,” F1 6, carton 3. Petition of the inhabitants of Arnay-le-Duc to the king (April, 1792), very insulting, employing the most familiar language; about fifty signatures.—Sauzay, III. ch. xxxv. and xxxiv. (details of local elections).—Ibid., VII. 687 (letter of Grégoire, Dec. 24, 1796).—Malouet, II. 531 (letter by Malouet, July 22, 1779). Malouet and Grégoire agree on the number 300,000. Marie Chénier (Moniteur, XII. 695, April 20, 1792) carries it up to 400,000.
[47. ]Cf. “The French Revolution,” Vol. I. book ii. ch. iii.
[48. ]Cf. “The Ancient Régime,” p. 352.
[49. ]“Mémoires de Madame de Sapinaud,” p. 18. Reply of M. de Sapinaud to the peasants of La Vendée, who wished him to act as their general: “My friends, it is the earthen pot against the iron pot. What could we do? One department against eighty-two—we should be smashed!”
[50. ]Malouet, II. 241. “I knew a clerk in one of the bureaus, who, during these sad days (September, 1792), never missed going, as usual, to copy and add up his registers. Ministerial correspondence with the armies and the provinces followed its regular course in regular form. The Paris police looked after supplies and kept its eye on sharpers, while blood ran in the streets.”—Cf. on this mechanical need and inveterate habit of receiving orders from the central authority, Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” 490. “Dumouriez’ soldiers said to him: ‘F——, papa general, get the Convention to order us to march on Paris and you’ll see how we will make mince-meat of those b—— in the Assembly!’ ”
[51. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVIII. 55. Letter by Brun-Lafond, a grenadier in the national guard, July 14, 1793, to a friend in the provinces, in justification of the 31st of May. The whole of this letter requires to be read. In it are found the ordinary ideas of a Jacobin in relation to history. “Can we lose sight of this, that it is ever the people of Paris which, through its murmurings and righteous insurrections against the oppressive system of many of our kings, has forced them to entertain milder sentiments regarding the relief of the French people, and principally of the tiller of the soil? … Without the energy of Paris, Paris and France would now be inhabited solely by slaves, while this beautiful soil would present an aspect as wild and deserted as that of the Turkish empire or that of Germany,” which has led us “to confer still greater lustre on this Revolution, by re-establishing on earth the ancient Athenian and other Grecian republics in all their purity. Distinctions among the early people of the earth did not exist; early family ties bound people together who had no ancient founders or origin; they had no other laws in their republics but those which, so to say, inspired them with those sentiments of fraternity experienced by them in the cradle of primitive populations.”
[52. ]Barbaroux, “Mémoires” (Ed. Dauban), 336.—Grégoire, “Mémoires,” I. 410.
[53. ]“La Révolution Française,” by Quinet (extracts from the inedited “Mémoires” of Baudot), II. 209, 211, 421, 620.—Guillon de Montléon I. 445 (speech by Chalier, in the Lyons Central Club, March 23, 1793). “They say that the sans-culottes will go on spilling their blood. This is only the talk of aristocrats. Can a sans-culotte be reached in that quarter? Is he not invulnerable, like the gods whom he replaces on this earth?”—Speech by David, in the Convention, on Barra and Viala. “Under so fine a government woman will bring forth without pain.”—Mercier, “Le Nouveau Paris,” I. 13. “I heard (an orator) exclaim in one of the sections, to which I bear witness: ‘Yes, I would take my own head by the hair, cut it off, and, presenting it to the despot, I would say to him: Tyrant, behold the act of a free man!’ ”
[54. ]Lafayette, “Mémoires,” I. 467 (on the Jacobins of August 10, 1792). “This sect, the destruction of which was desired by nineteen-twentieths of France.”—Durand-Maillan, 49. The aversion to the Jacobins after June 20, 1792, was general. “The communes of France, everywhere wearied and dissatisfied with popular clubs, would gladly have got rid of them, that they might no longer be under their control.”
[55. ]The words of Leclerc, a deputy of the Lyons committee in the Jacobin Club at Paris. May 12, 1793. “Popular machiavelianism must be established.… Everything impure must disappear off the French soil.… I shall doubtless be regarded as a brigand, but there is one way to get ahead of calumny, and that is, to exterminate the calumniators.”
[56. ]Buchez et Roux, XXXIV. 204 (testimony of François Lameyrie). “Collection of authentic documents for the History of the Revolution at Strasbourg,” II. 210 (speech by Baudot, Frimaire 19, year II., in the Jacobin Club at Strasbourg). “Egoists, the heedless, the enemies of liberty, the enemies of all nature should not be regarded as her children. Are not all who oppose the public good, or who do not share it, in the same case? Let us, then, utterly destroy them … Were they a million, would not one sacrifice the twenty-fourth part of one’s self to get rid of a gangrene which might infect the rest of the body? …” For these reasons, the orator thinks that every man who is not wholly devoted to the Republic must be put to death. He states that the Republic should at one blow cause the instant disappearance of every friend to kings and feudalism.—Beaulieu, “Essai,” V. 200. M. d’Antonelle thought, “like most of the revolutionary clubs, that, to constitute a republic, an approximate equality of property should be established; and to do this, a third of the population should be suppressed.”—“This was the general idea among the fanatics of the Revolution.”—Larevellière-Lépaux, “Mémoires,” I. 150 “Jean Bon St. André … suggested that for the solid foundation of the Republic in France, the population should be reduced one-half.” He is violently interrupted by Larevellière-Lépaux, but continues and insists on this.—Guffroy, deputy of the Pas-de-Calais, proposed in his journal a still larger amputation; he wanted to reduce France to five millions of inhabitants.