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BOOK SIXTH: The Jacobin Programme - Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution, vol. 3 
The French Revolution, 3 vols., trans. John Durand, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002). Vol. 3.
Part of: The French Revolution, 3 vols.
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The Jacobin Programme
I.Programme of the Jacobin party—Abstract principle and spontaneous development of the theory—II.The Jacobin conception of Society—The Contrat-Social—Total surrender of the Individual to the Community—Everything belongs to the State—Confiscations and Sequestrations—Preemption and requisitions of produce and merchandise—Individuals belong to the State—Drafts of persons for Military service—Drafts of persons for the Civil service—Personal sentiments and ideas subject to the State, at once philanthropist, pedagogue, theologian, censor, moralist and director—III.The object of the State is the regeneration of man—Two branches of this work—Restoration of the Natural man—Formation of the Social man—Grandeur of the undertaking—Force a right and duty in carrying it out—IV.The two distortions of the natural man—Positive religion—Proscription of the orthodox cult—Measures against unsworn priests—Measures against the loyal orthodox—Destruction of the constitutional cult—Pressure on the sworn priests—Churches closed and ceremonies suppressed—Prolongation of these persecutions until the Consulate—V.Social inequality—Evil doings of the upper aristocracy—Measures against the King and Nobles—Evil doings of the aristocracy of wealth—Measures against land-owners, capitalists and people with incomes—Destruction of large fortunes—Measures taken to prevent large fortunes—VI.Conditions requisite for making a citizen—Plans for suppressing poverty—Measures in favor of the poor—VII.Repression of Egoism—Measures against agriculturists, manufacturers and merchants—Socialistic projects—Repression of Federalism—Measures against the local, professional and family spirit—VIII. Formation of soul and intellect—Civil religion—National education—Measures for equality—Obligatory civism—The recasting and reduction of human nature to the Jacobin type.
Nothing is more dangerous than a general idea in narrow and empty minds: as they are empty, it finds no knowledge there to interfere with it; as they are narrow it is not long before it occupies the place entirely. Henceforth they no longer belong to themselves but are mastered by it; it works in them and through them, the man, in the true sense of the word, being possessed. Something which is not himself, a monstrous parasite, a foreign and disproportionate conception, lives within him, developing and giving birth to the evil purposes with which it is pregnant. He did not foresee that he would have them; he did not know what his dogma contained, what venomous and murderous consequences were to issue from it. They issue from it fatally, each in its turn, and under the pressure of circumstances, at first anarchical consequences and now despotic consequences. Having obtained power, the Jacobin brings his fixed idea along with him; whether at the head of the government or in opposition to it, this idea is fruitful, and the all-powerful dogma projects over a new domain the innumerable links of its endless chain.
Let us trace this inward development and go back, along with the Jacobin, to first principles, to the original pact, to the first organisation of society. There is but one legitimate society, that founded on the “contrat-social,” and “the clauses of this contract fully understood, reduce themselves to one, the total alienation of each individual, with all his rights, to the community, … each surrendering himself up absolutely, just as he actually stands, he and all his forces, of which the property he possesses forms a part.”1 There must be no exception or reservation. Nothing of what he previously was, or had, now belongs to him in his own right; henceforth, what he is, or has, devolves upon him only through delegation. His property and his person now form a portion of the commonwealth. If he is in possession of these, his ownership is at second hand; if he derives any benefit therefrom, it is as a concession. He is their depository, trustee, and administrator, and nothing more.2 In other words, with respect to these he is simply a managing director, that is to say a functionary like others, with a precarious appointment and always revocable by the State which has commissioned him. “As nature gives to every man absolute power over the members of his body the social pact gives the social body absolute power over all its members.” The State, as omnipotent sovereign and universal proprietor, exercises at discretion, its boundless rights over persons and things; consequently we, its representatives, take all things and persons into our hands; as they belong to it, so do they belong to us.
We have confiscated the possessions of the clergy, amounting to about four billion livres; we confiscate the property of the emigrés, amounting to three billion livres;3 we confiscate the property of the guillotined and transported: all this amounts to some hundreds of millions; later on, the count will be made, because the list remains open and is being daily added to. We sequestrate the property of “suspects,” which gives us its usufruct: here are many hundred millions more; after the war and the banishment of “suspects,” we shall seize the property along with its usufruct: here, again, are millions of capital.4 Meanwhile, we take the property of hospitals and of other benevolent institutions, about eight hundred million livres; we take the property of factories, of endowments, of educational institutions, and of literary and scientific associations: another lot of millions.5 We take back the domains rented or alienated by the State for the past three centuries and more, which gives again about a couple of billions.6 We take the possessions of the communes up to the amount of their indebtedness. We have already received as an inheritance the ancient domains of the crown, also the later domain of the civil list. More than three-fifths7 of the soil thus falls into our hands, which three-fifths are much the best stocked; they comprise almost all the large and fine edifices, châteaux, abbeys, mansions, houses of superintendents; and nearly all the royal, episcopal, seignorial, and bourgeois stock of rich and elegant furniture; all plate, libraries, pictures and artistic objects accumulated for centuries. Remark, again, the seizure of specie and all other articles of gold and silver; in the months alone of November and December, 1793, this swoop puts into our coffers three or four hundred millions,8 not assignats, but ringing coin. In short, whatever the form of established capital may be we take all we can get hold of, probably more than three-fourths of it. There remains the portion which is not fixed capital, that which disappears in use, namely, all that is consumed, all the fruits of the soil, every description of provision, all the products of human art and labor which contribute to the maintenance of existence. Through “the right of preemption” and through the right of “requisition,” “the Republic becomes temporary proprietor of whatever commerce, manufacture, and agriculture have produced and added to the soil of France”: all food and merchandise9 is ours before being owned by their holder. We carry out of his house whatever suits us; we pay him for this with worthless paper; we frequently do not pay him at all. For greater convenience, we seize objects directly and wherever we find them, grain in the farmer’s barn, hay in the reaper’s shed, cattle in the fold, wine in the vats, hides at the butcher’s, leather in the tanneries, soap, tallow, sugar, brandy, cloths, linens, and the rest, in stores, depots, and ware-houses. We stop vehicles and horses in the street. We enter the premises of mail or coach contractors and empty their stables. We carry away kitchen utensils to obtain the copper; we turn people out of their rooms to get their beds; we strip them of their coats and shirts; in one day, we make ten thousand individuals in one town go barefoot.10 “When public needs require it,” says representative Isoré, “all belongs to the people and nothing to individuals.”
By virtue of the same right we dispose of persons as we do of things. We decree a general uprising of the people, and, stranger still, we carry it out, at least in many parts of the country, and we keep it up for months: in Vendée, and in the northern and eastern departments, the entire male, able-bodied population, all up to fifty years of age, are driven in flocks against the enemy.11 We afterwards muster in an entire generation, all young men between eighteen and twenty-five, almost a million of men:12 whoever fails to appear is put in irons for ten years; he is regarded as a deserter; his property is confiscated, and his relations are punished along with him; later, he is assimilated with the emigrants, condemned to death, and his father, mother, and progenitors, treated as “suspects,” are imprisoned and their possessions taken. To clothe, shoe, and equip our recruits, we must have workmen: we summon to head-quarters all gunsmiths, blacksmiths, and locksmiths, all the tailors and shoemakers of the district, “foremen, apprentices, and boys”;13 we imprison those who do not come; we install the rest in squads in public buildings and assign them their tasks; they are forbidden to furnish anything to private individuals; henceforth, French shoemakers must work only for us, and each must deliver to us, under penalty, so many pairs of shoes per decade. But, the civil service is no less important than the military service, and to feed the people is as urgent as it is to defend them. Hence we put “in requisition all who have anything to do with handling, transporting or selling provisions and articles of prime necessity,”14 especially combustibles and food—wood-choppers, carters, raftsmen, millers, reapers, threshers, wine-growers, mowers, field-hands, “country people” of every kind and degree. Their hands belong to us: we make them bestir themselves and work under the penalty of fine and imprisonment. There shall be no idlers, especially in crop time: we take the entire population of a commune or canton into the fields, comprising “the lazy of both sexes”;15 willingly or not, they shall do the harvesting under our eyes, banded together in fields belonging to others as well as in their own, and they shall put the sheaves indiscriminately into the public granary.
But in labor all hangs together, from the initial undertaking to the final result, from the raw material to the most finished production, from the great manufacturer down to the pettiest jobber; grasping the first link of the chain involves grasping the last one. The requisition here again answers the purpose: we apply it to all pursuits; each is bound to continue his own; the manufacturer to manufacture, the trader to trade, even to his own detriment, because, if a loser by this, the public gains, and every good citizen ought to prefer public profit to his own profit.16 In effect, let his office be what it will, he is an employee of the community; therefore, the community may not only prescribe task-work to him, but select his task; it need not consult him in the matter, for he has no right to refuse. Hence it is that we appoint or maintain people in spite of themselves, in the magistracy, in the army and in every other species of employment; in vain may they excuse themselves or get out of the way; they must remain, or become generals, judges, mayors, national agents, town councillors, commissioners of charity or of the government, in self-defence.17 So much the worse for them if the duty be onerous or dangerous, if they cannot afford the time, if they do not feel themselves qualified for it, if the rank or service seems to them to be a step in the direction of a prison or the guillotine; on their alleging that the office is a burdensome tax we reply that they are taxable property of the State. Such is, henceforth, the condition of all Frenchmen, and likewise of all French women. We force mothers to take their daughters to the meetings of popular clubs. We oblige women to parade in companies, and march in procession at republican festivals; we invade the family and select the most beautiful to be draped as antique goddesses, and publicly promenaded on a car; we often designate those among the rich who must wed patriots:18 there is no reason why marriage, which is the most important of all services, should not be put in requisition like the others. Accordingly, we enter families, we carry off the child, we subject him to a civic education. We are schoolmasters, philanthropists, theologians, and moralists. We impose by force our religion and our ritual, our morality and our social customs. We lord it over private lives and consciences; we dictate ideas, we scrutinise and punish secret inclinations, we tax, imprison and guillotine not only the evil-disposed, but again “the indifferent, the moderate and the egotistical.”19 Over and above his visible acts we dictate to the individual his ideas and his deepest feelings; we prescribe to him his affections as well as his beliefs, and, according to a preconceived type, we refashion his intellect, his conscience and his sensibilities.
There is nothing arbitrary in this operation; for the ideal model is traced beforehand. If the State is omnipotent, it is for the purpose of regenerating man, and the theory which confers rights on it, at the same time assigns to it its object.
In what does this regeneration of man consist? Consider an animal in a domestic state, the dog or the horse. Emaciated, flogged, tied or chained, a thousand are strained and overworked against one which has an easy time and dies of good living; and with all of them, whether fat or lean, the soul is still more abused than the body. A superstitious respect keeps them cowed under the load they carry, or makes them cringe before their master. Servile, slothful, gluttonous, feeble, incapable of resisting changes in the weather, if they have learned to adapt themselves to slavery they have also contracted its infirmities, necessities, and vices. A crust of absurd habits and perverse inclinations, a sort of artificial and supplementary existence, has covered over their original nature. Again, on the other hand, the better side of their original nature has had no chance to develop itself, for lack of use. Each separated from the other, they have not acquired the sentiment of community; they do not know, like their brethren of the prairies, how to help each other and subordinate private interests to the interests of the flock. Each pulls his own way, nobody cares for others, all are egoists; social interests have miscarried. Such is man nowadays, a disfigured being that has to be made over, an imperfect creature that has to be completed. Our task, accordingly, is two-fold; we have to demolish and we have to construct; we must first set free the natural man that we may afterward build up the social man.
It is a vast enterprise and we are conscious of its vastness. “It is necessary,” says Billaud-Varennes,20 “that the people to which one desires to restore their freedom should in some way be created anew, since old prejudices must be destroyed, old habits changed, depraved affections improved, superfluous wants restricted, and inveterate vices extirpated.” How sublime the undertaking, for the object is “to fulfil the desires of nature,21 accomplish the destinies of humanity, and fulfil the promises of philosophy.” “Our purpose,” says Robespierre,22 “is to substitute morality for egoism, honesty for honor, principles for usages, duties for proprieties, the empire of reason for the tyranny of fashion, contempt of vice for indifference to misfortune, dignity for insolence, nobleness for vanity, love of glory for the love of lucre, good people for good society, merit for intrigue, genius for intellectual brilliancy, the charm of contentment for the satiety of pleasure, the majesty of man for the high-breeding of the great, a magnanimous, powerful, and happy people, for an amiable, frivolous and wretched people, that is to say, every virtue and miracle of the Republic in the place of the vices and absurdities of the monarchy.” We will do this, the whole of it, cost what it will. Little do we care for the present generation; we are working for generations to come. “Man, forced to isolate himself from society, anchors himself in the future and presses to his heart a posterity innocent of existing evils.”23 He sacrifices to this work his own and the lives of others. “On the day that I am satisfied,” writes Saint-Just, “that it is impossible to render the French people kind, energetic, tender, and inexorable against tyranny and injustice, I will stab myself.” “What I have done in the South I will do in the North,” says Baudot; “I will convert them into patriots; either they or I must die.” “We will make France a cemetery,” says Carrier, “rather than not regenerate it our own way.” In vain may the ignorant or the vicious protest; they protest because they are ignorant or vicious. In vain may the individual plead his personal rights; he has none, for, through the social contract, which is obligatory and solely valid, he has surrendered his entire being; having made no reservation, “he has nothing to claim.” Undoubtedly, some will kick, because, with them, the old wrinkle remains and artificial habits still cover over the original instinct. Untie the mill-horse, and he will still go round in the same track; let the mountebank’s dog be turned loose, and he will still raise himself on his hind-legs; if we would bring them back to their natural gait we must handle them roughly. In like manner, to restore man to his normal attitude, you must handle him roughly. But, in this respect, have no scruples,24 for we do not bow him down, we raise him up; as Rousseau says, “we compel him to be free”; we confer on him the greatest boon a human being can receive; we bring him back to nature and to justice. For this reason, now that he is warned, if he persists in his resistance, he is criminal and merits every kind of chastisement,25 for, he declares himself a rebel and a perjurer, inimical to humanity, and a traitor to the social compact.
Let us begin by figuring to ourselves the natural man; certainly we of today have some difficulty in recognising him; he bears but little resemblance to the artificial being who stands in his shoes, the creature which an antiquated system of constraint and fraud has deformed, held fast in his hereditary harness of thraldom and superstition, blinded by his religion and held in check by prestige, speculated on by his government and trained by blows, always with a halter on, always made to work in a counter sense and against nature, whatever stall he may occupy, high or low, however full or empty his crib may be, now in menial service like the blinded hack-horse which turns a mill-wheel, and now on parade like the learned dog which, decked with flags, shows off its antics before the public.26 But imagine all these out of the way, the flags and the bands, the trammels and compartments in the social stable, and you will see a new man appearing, the original man, intact and healthy in mind, soul, and body.
In this condition, he is free of prejudice, he has not been circumvented by falsities, he is neither Jew, Protestant, nor Catholic; if he tries to form an idea of the universe and of the origin of things he will not allow himself to be duped by a pretended revelation; he will listen only to his own reason; he may chance, now and then, to become an atheist, but, generally, he will settle down into a deist. In this condition of things he is not fettered by a hierarchy; he is neither noble nor commoner, land-owner nor tenant, inferior nor superior. Independent of the others, all are equal, and, if all agree in the forming of an association, their common-sense will stipulate that its first article shall secure the maintenance of this primordial equality. Such is man, as nature made him, as history has unmade him, and as the Revolution is to remake him.27 One cannot batter away too vigorously against the two casings that hold him tight, one the positive religion which narrows and perverts his intellect, and the other the social inequality which perverts and weakens his will;28 for, at every effort, some band is loosened, and, as each band gives way, the paralysed limbs recover their action.
Let us trace the progress of this liberating operation. Always timid and at loggerheads with the ecclesiastical organisation, the Constituent Assembly could take only half-measures; it cut into the bark without daring to drive the axe into the solid trunk. Its work reduced itself down to the confiscation of clerical property, to a dissolution of the religious orders, and to a check upon the authority of the pope; its object was to establish a new church and transform priests into sworn functionaries of the State, and this was all. As if Catholicism, even administrative, would cease to be Catholicism! As if the noxious tree, once stamped with the public seal, would cease to be noxious! Instead of the old laboratory of falsehoods being destroyed another is patented alongside of it, so that there are now two instead of one. With or without the official label it operates in every commune in France and, as in the past, it supplies the public with its nostrum with impunity. This is precisely what we cannot tolerate. We must, indeed, keep up appearances, and, as far as words go, we will decree anew freedom of worship.29 But, in fact and in practice, we will demolish the laboratory and prevent the nostrum from being sold; there shall no longer be any Catholic worship in France, no baptism, no confession, no marriage, no extreme unction, no mass: nobody shall preach or listen to a sermon; nobody shall administer or receive a sacrament, save in concealment, and with the prospect before him of imprisonment or the scaffold. To this end, we will take things in their order. There is no difficulty in regard to the self-styled orthodox Church: its members having refused to take the oath are outlaws; one excludes oneself from an association when one repudiates the pact; they have lost their qualifications as citizens and have become ordinary foreigners under the surveillance of the police; and, as they propagate around them discontent and disobedience, they are not only foreigners but seditious persons, enemies in disguise, the authors of a secret and widespread Vendée; it is not necessary for us to prosecute them as charlatans, it is sufficient to strike them down as rebels. As such, we have already banished from France all unsworn ecclesiastics, about forty thousand priests, and we are transporting those who did not cross the frontier within the allotted time: we allow only sexagenarians and the infirm to remain on French soil, and, again, as prisoners and in seclusion; they incur the penalty of death if they do not of their own accord crowd to the prisons of their county town; the banished who return home incur the penalty of death, and there is penalty of death against those who harbor priests.30 Consequently, in default of an orthodox clergy, there must no longer be an orthodox worship; the most dangerous of the two manufactories of superstition is shut up. That the sale of this poisonous food may be more surely stopped we punish those who ask for it the same as those who provide it, and we prosecute not only the pastors, but, again, the fanatics of the flock; if these are not the authors of the ecclesiastical rebellion they are its promoters and accomplices. Now, thanks to the schism among them, we already know who they are, and, in each commune, the list is made out. We style as fanatics all who reject the ministry of the sworn priests, the bourgeois who calls him an interloper, all the nuns who confess to him, all the peasants who stay away from his mass, all the old women who do not kiss his paten, all the relations of an infant who do not wish him to baptise it. All these people and those who associate with them, whether nearly related, kinsmen, friends, guests, or visitors, of whatever class, either men or women, are seditious at heart, and, therefore, “suspects.” We deprive them of their electoral rights, we withdraw their pensions, we impose on them special taxation, we confine them to their dwellings, we imprison them by thousands, and guillotine them by hundreds; the rest will gradually become discouraged and abandon an impracticable cult.31 The lukewarm remain, the sheep-like crowd which holds on to its rites: the Constituent Assembly will seize them wherever it finds them, and, as they are the same in the authorised as in the refractory church, instead of seeking them with the priest who does not submit, it will seek them with the one who does. But it will proceed without zeal, without confidence, often even with distrust, questioning itself whether these rites, being administered by one who is excommunicated, are not base metal. Such a church is not substantial, and we have only to give it a push to knock it down. We will do all we can to discredit constitutional priests: we will prohibit them from wearing the ecclesiastical costume, and force them by law to bestow the nuptial benediction on their apostate brethren; we will employ terror and imprisonment to constrain them to marry; we will give them no respite until they return to civil life, some admitting themselves to be impostors, many by surrendering their priestly credentials, and most of them by resigning their places.32 Deprived of leaders by these voluntary or forced desertions, the Catholic flock will allow itself to be easily led out of the fold, while, to remove all temptation to go back, we will tear the enclosure down. In the communes in which we are masters we will make the Jacobins of the place demand the abolition of worship, while, in other communes, we will get rid of this authoritatively through our missionary representatives. We will close the churches, demolish the steeples, melt down the bells, send all sacred vessels to the Mint, smash the images of the saints, desecrate relics, prohibit religious burials, impose the civil burial, prescribe rest during the décadi,33 and labor on Sundays. No exception whatever. Since all positive religions maintain error, we will proscribe every form of worship: we will exact from Protestant clergymen a public abjuration; we will not let the Jews practise their ceremonies; we will have “an ‘auto-da-fé,’ of all the books and symbols of the faith of Moses.”34 But, of all these various juggling machines, the worst is the Catholic, the most hostile to nature in the celibacy of its priesthood, the most opposed to reason in the absurdity of its dogmas, the most opposed to democracy, since its powers are delegated from above downwards, the best protected from civil authority because its head is outside of France. Accordingly, we must be most furious against it; even after Thermidor, we will keep up constant persecution, great and small; up to the Consulate, we will transport and shoot down priests, we will revive against fanatics the laws of the Reign of Terror, we will hamper their movements, we will exhaust their patience; we will keep them anxious during the day and restless at night; we will not give them a moment’s repose.35 We will restrict the population to the decadal cult; we will pursue it with our propagandism even to the dinner-table; we will change the market-days, so that no believer shall be able to buy fish on a fast-day.36 We have nothing more at heart than this war against Catholicism; no article on our programme will be carried out with more determination and perseverance. The question involved is truth. We are its guardians, its champions, its ministers, and never did the servants of truth apply force with such minute detail and such effect to the extirpation of error.
Alongside of superstition there is another monster to be destroyed, and, on this side also, the Constituent Assembly began its attack. But on this side also, through lack of courage or of logic, it stopped, after two or three feeble blows. All that it did to restore natural equality consisted in this—an interdiction of heraldic insignia, titles of nobility and territorial names; the abolition, without indemnity, of all the dues belonging to the seigneur by right of his former proprietorship over persons; the permission to purchase other feudal rights at a price agreed upon, and the limitation of royal power. This was little enough; when it concerns usurpers and tyrants they must be treated in another fashion; for their privilege is, of itself, an outrage on the rights of man. Consequently, we have dethroned the King and cut off his head;37 we have suppressed, without indemnity, the entire feudal debt, comprising the rights vested in the seigneurs by virtue of their being owners of real-estate, and merely lessors; we have abandoned their persons and possessions to the claims and rancor of local jacqueries; we have reduced them to emigration; we imprison them if they stay at home; we guillotine them if they return. Reared in habits of supremacy, and convinced that they are of a different species from other men, the prejudices of race are incorrigible; they are incapable of companionship with their social equals; we cannot too carefully crush them out, or, at the very least, hold them firmly down.38 Besides, they are guilty from the fact of having existed; for, they have taken both the lead and the command without any right to do so, and, in violation of all right, they have misused mankind; having enjoyed their rank, it is but just that they should pay for it. Privileged the wrong way, they must be treated the same as vagabonds were treated under their reign, stopped by the police and sent off with their families into the interior, crowded into prisons, executed in a mass, or, at least, expelled from Paris, the seaports and fortified towns, put on the limits, compelled to present themselves daily at the municipality, deprived of their political rights, excluded from public offices, “popular clubs, committees of supervision and from communal and section assemblages.”39 Even this is indulgence; branded with infamy, we ought to class them with galley-slaves, and set them to work on the public highways.40 “Justice condemns the people’s enemies and the partisans of tyranny to eternal slavery.”41
But that does not suffice; for, apart from the aristocracy of rank, there are other aristocracies which the Constituent Assembly has left untouched,42 especially the aristocracy of wealth. Of all the sovereignties, that of the rich man over the poor one is the most burdensome. In effect, not only, in contempt of equality, does he consume more than his share of the common products of labor, and without producing anything himself, but again, in contempt of liberty, he may fix wages as he pleases, and, in contempt of humanity, he always fixes them at the lowest point. Between himself and the necessitous he never makes other than the most iniquitous contracts. Sole possessor of land, capital and the necessaries of life, he imposes conditions which others, deprived of means, are forced to accept at the risk of starvation; he speculates at his discretion on wants which cannot be put off, and makes the most of his monopoly by maintaining the indigent in their indigent situations. “Hence,” writes Saint-Just,43 “opulence is infamous; it consists in feeding fewer natural or adopted children according to every thousand livres of income.” “The richest Frenchman,” says Robespierre, “ought not to have now more than three thousand livres rental.” Beyond what is strictly necessary, no property is legitimate; we have the right to take the superfluous wherever we find it; not only today, because we now require it for the State and for the poor, but at all times, because the superfluous, in all times, confers on its possessor an advantage in contracts, a control of wages, an arbitrament over the means of living, in short, a supremacy of condition worse than preëminence in rank. Consequently, our hand is not against the nobles merely, but against the rich and well-to-do bourgeois,44 also the large land-owners and capitalists; we are going to demolish their crafty feudalism from top to bottom.45 In the first place, we prevent, and solely through the operation of new institutions, any recipient of a large income from levying on, as is customary with him, the best portion of the fruits of another’s labor; the drones shall no longer annually consume the honey of other bees. To bring this about, we have only to let the assignats and the forced rate (at which they shall be received) work things out. Through the depreciation of paper-money, the indolent land-owner or capitalist sees his income melting away in his hands; his receipts consist only of nominal values. On the 1st of January, his tenant pays him really for a half term instead of a full term; on the 1st of March, his farmer settles his account with a bag of grain;46 the effect is just the same as if we had made fresh contracts, and reduced by one-half, three-quarters, or, even more, the rate of interest on loans, the rent of houses and the leases of farm lands. Whilst the revenue of the landlord evaporates, his capital melts away, and we do the best we can to help this along. If he has claims on ancient corporations or civil and religious establishments of any description, whether provincial governments, congregations, associations, endowments or hospitals, we withdraw his special guarantee; we convert his title-deeds into a state annuity, we combine his private fortune with the public fortune whether he will or not, we drag him into the universal bankruptcy, toward which we are conducting all the creditors of the Republic.47
Besides, to effect his ruin, we have more direct and prompt means. If an emigré, and there are hundreds of thousands of emigrés, we confiscate his possessions; if he has been guillotined or transported, and there are tens of thousands of these, we confiscate his possessions; if he is “a marked enemy of the Revolution,”48 and “all the rich pray for the counter-revolution,”49 we sequestrate his property; we enjoy the usufruct of it until peace is declared, and we shall have the property after the war is over; usufruct or property, the State, in either case, inherits; at most, we may sometimes grant temporary aid to the family, which is not even entitled to food.
It is impossible to uproot fortunes more thoroughly. As to those which are not at once eradicated we get rid of them piece-meal, and against these we employ two axes. On the one hand, we decree the principle of progressive taxation, and on this basis we establish the forced loan:50 in incomes, we distinguish between the essential and the surplus; we fix the essential at one thousand francs per head; according as the excess is greater or less we take a quarter, a third or the half of it, and, when above nine thousand francs, the whole; beyond its small alimentary reserve, the most opulent family will keep only four thousand five hundred francs income. On the other hand, we cut deep into capital through revolutionary taxes; our committees and provincial proconsuls levy arbitrarily what suits them, three hundred, five hundred, up to one million two hundred thousand francs,51 on this or that banker, trader, bourgeois or widow, payable within a week; all the worse for the person taxed if he or she has no money on hand and is unable to borrow it; we declare them “suspects,” we imprison them, we sequestrate their property and the State enjoys it in their place. In any event, even when the amount is paid, we force him or her to deposit their silver and gold coin in our hands, sometimes with assignats as security, and often nothing; henceforth, coin must circulate and the precious metals are in requisition;52 everybody will deliver up what plate he possesses. And let nobody presume to conceal his hoard; all treasure, whether silver-plate, diamonds, ingots, gold or silver, coined or uncoined, “discovered, or that may be discovered, buried in the ground or concealed in cellars, inside of walls or in garrets, under floors, pavements, or hearthstones, or in chimneys and other hiding places,”53 becomes the property of the Republic, with a premium of twenty per cent. in assignats to the informer. As, furthermore, we make requisitions for bed-linen, beds, clothes, provisions, wines and the rest, along with specie and the precious metals, the condition of a mansion may be imagined, especially after we have lodged in it; it is the same as if the house had been on fire; all personal capital is gone, as well as other capital. Now that both are destroyed they must not be allowed to accumulate again. To ensure this, we abolish, according to rule, the freedom of bequest,54 we prescribe equal and obligatory divisions of all inheritances;55 we include bastards in this under the same title as legitimate children; we admit représentation à l’infini,56 “in order to multiply heirs and parcel out inheritances;”57 we reduce the disposable portion to one-tenth, in the direct line, and one-sixth in a collateral line; we forbid any gift to persons whose income exceeds one thousand quintals of grain; we inaugurate adoption, “an admirable institution,” and essentially republican, “since it brings about a division of large properties without a crisis.” Already, in the Legislative Assembly a deputy had stated that “equal rights could be maintained only by a persistent tendency to uniformity of fortunes.”58 We have provided for this for the present day and we likewise provide for it in the future. None of the vast excrescences which have sucked the sap of the human plant are to remain; we have cut them away with a few telling blows, while the steady-moving machine, permanently erected by us, will shear off their last tendrils should they chance to sprout again.
Through this restoration of the natural man we have prepared for the advent of the social man. The object now is to form the citizen, and this is possible only through a levelling of conditions; “neither rich nor poor are necessary” in a well constituted society;59 we have already destroyed the opulence which corrupts; it now remains for us to suppress the indigence which degrades. Under the tyranny of material things, which is as oppressive as the tyranny of men, man falls below himself; never will a citizen be made out of a poor fellow condemned to remain valet, hireling, or beggar, to think only of himself and his daily bread, to ask in vain for work, to plod twelve hours a day at a monotonous pursuit, to live like a beast of burden and die in a hospital.60 He must have his own bread, his own roof and all that is indispensable for life; he must not be overworked, nor suffer anxiety or constraint; “he must live independently, respect himself, have a tidy wife and healthy and robust children.”61 The community should guarantee him comfort, security, the certainty of not going hungry if he becomes infirm, and, if he dies, of not leaving his family in want. “It is not enough,” says Barère,62 “to bleed the rich, to pull down colossal fortunes; the slavery of poverty must be made to disappear from the soil of the Republic.” “The unfortunate,” says Saint-Just, “are the powerful of the earth; they have a right to speak as masters to the governments which neglect them;63 they have a right to national beneficence. … In a democracy under organisation, everything should tend to raise each citizen above the prime necessities, by labor if he is fit for work, by education if he is a child, by succor if he is an invalid or in old age.”64 And never was there so propitious a moment. “Rich in domains, the Republic is calculating the millions intended by the rich for counter revolution, for the amelioration of the lot of its less fortunate citizens. … Those who would assassinate liberty have made it the richer. … The possessions of conspirators exist for the benefit of the unfortunate.”65 Let the poor take with a quiet conscience: it is not a charity but “an indemnity” which we provide for them; we save their pride by providing for their comfort, and we solace them without humiliating them. “We leave charitable enterprises to monarchies; this vile and insolent way of furnishing assistance is fit only for slaves and masters; we substitute for it a system of national works, on a grand scale, over the whole territory of the Republic.”66 On the other hand, we cause a statement to be drawn up in each commune, of “the condition of citizens without property,” and “of national possessions not disposed of”; we divide these possessions in small lots; we distribute them “in the shape of national sales” to poor folks able to work; we give, “through form of rental,” an acre to each head of a family who has less than an acre of his own; “we thus bind all citizens to the country as well as to property; we restore to the soil idle and robust arms, and families lost or enervated in the workshops and in the towns.” As to old and infirm farmers or mechanics, also poor mothers, wives, and widows of mechanics and farmers, we keep in each department a “big ledger of national beneficence”; we inscribe thereon for every thousand inhabitants, four farmers, two mechanics, five women, either mothers or widows; each registered person shall be pensioned by the State, the same as a maimed soldier; labor-invalids are as respectable as war-invalids. Over and above those who are privileged on account of poverty, we relieve and elevate the entire poor class, not alone the thirteen hundred thousand indigent enumerated in France,67 but, again, all who, having little or no means on hand, live from day to day on what they can earn. We have passed a law68 by which the public treasury shall, through a tax on large fortunes, “furnish to each commune or district the necessary funds for adapting the price of bread to the rate of wages.” Our representatives in the provinces impose on the wealthy the obligation of “lodging, feeding, and clothing all infirm, aged, and indigent citizens and orphans of their respective cantons.”69 Through the decree on monopolisation and the establishment of the maximum we bring within reach of the poor all objects of prime necessity. We pay them forty sous a day for attending district meetings; and three francs a day for serving on committees of surveillance. We recruit from amongst them our revolutionary army;70 we select amongst them the innumerable custodians of sequestrés: in this way, hundreds of thousands of sans-culottes enter into the various public services. At last, the poor are taken out of a state of poverty: each will now have his plot of ground, his salary or pension; “in a well-ordered republic nobody is without some property.”71 Henceforth, among individuals, the difference in welfare will be small; from the maximum to the minimum, there will be only a degree, while there will be found in every dwelling about the same sort of household, a plain, simple household, that of the small rural proprietor, well-off farmer or factory foreman; that of Rousseau at Montmorency, or that of the Savoyard Vicar, or that of Duplay, the carpenter, with whom Robespierre lodges.72 There will be no more domestic servitude: “only the bond of help and gratitude will exist between employer and employee.”73 “He who works for another citizen belongs to his family and sits at his table.”74 Through the transformation of low conditions into average conditions we restore men to their dignity, and out of the proletaire, the valet, and the workman, we begin to liberate the citizen.
Two leading obstacles hinder the development of civism, and the first is egoism. Whilst the citizen prefers the community to himself, the egoist prefers himself to the community. He cares only for his own interest, he gives no heed to public necessities; he sees none of the superior rights which take precedence of his derived right; he supposes that his property is his own without restriction or condition; he forgets that, if he is allowed to use it, he must not use it to another’s detriment.75 Thus, even in the middle or low class, do those who possess the necessaries of life, act. The greater the demand for these the higher they raise their prices; soon, they sell only at an exorbitant rate, and worse still, stop selling and store their goods or products, in the expectation of selling them dearer. In this way, they speculate on another’s wants; they augment the general distress and become public enemies. Nearly all the agriculturists, manufacturers, and tradesmen of the day, little and big, are public enemies—farmers, metayers, market-gardeners, cultivators of every degree, as well as foremen, shopkeepers, especially wine-dealers, bakers, and butchers. “All tradesmen are essentially antirevolutionists, and would sell their country to gain a few sous.”76 We will not tolerate this legal brigandage. Since “agriculture has done nothing for liberty and has sought only its own gain,”77 we will put it under surveillance, and, if necessary, under control. Since “commerce has become a species of miserly tyrant,” since “it has become self-paralysed,” and, “through a sort of antirevolutionary contempt, neglected the manufacture, handling, and expedition of diverse materials,” we will “defeat” the calculations of its barbarous arithmetic, and purge it of the aristocratic and corrupting fermentation which oppresses it.” We make monopoly “a capital crime”;78 we call him a monopolist who “takes food and wares of prime necessity out of circulation,” and “keeps them stored without daily and publicly offering them for sale.” Penalty of death against whoever, within eight days, does not make a declaration, or if he makes a false one. Penalty of death against any person who keeps more bread on hand than he needs for his subsistence.79 Penalty of death against the cultivator who does not bring his grain weekly to market. Penalty of death against the dealer who does not post up the contents of his warehouse, or who does not keep open shop. Penalty of death against the manufacturer who does not verify the daily use of his workable material. As to prices, we intervene authoritatively between buyer and seller; we fix the extreme price for all objects which, near or remotely, serve to feed, warm, and clothe man; we will imprison whoever offers or demands anything more. Whether the dealer or manufacturer pays expenses at this rate, matters not; if, after the maximum is fixed, he closes his factory, or gives up business, we declare him a “suspect”; we chain him down to his pursuit, we oblige him to lose by it. That is the way to clip the claws of beasts of prey, little and big! But the claws grow out again, and, instead of paring them down, it would, probably be better to pull them out. Some amongst us have already thought of that; the right of preemption might be applied to every article; “in each department, national storehouses might be established where cultivators, land-owners, and manufacturers would be obliged to deposit at a fixed price, paid down, the surplus of their consumption of every species of merchandise. The nation would distribute this merchandise to wholesale dealers, reserving a profit of six per centum. The profit of the wholesale dealer would be fixed at eight per centum and that of the retailer at twelve per centum.”80 In this way, agriculturists, manufacturers, and merchants would all become clerks of the State, appointed on a premium or a discount; unable to gain a great deal, they would not be tempted to gain too much; they would cease to be greedy and soon cease to be egoists. Since, fundamentally, egoism is the capital vice and individual proprietorship the food that nourishes it, why not suppress individual proprietorship altogether? Our extreme logicians, with Baboeuf at the head of them, go as far as that, and Saint-Just seems to be of that opinion.81 A decretal of the Agrarian law is not the point; the nation would reserve the soil to itself and divide among individuals, not lands but rents. The outcome of this principle affords us a glimpse of an order of things in which the State, sole proprietor of real-estate, sole capitalist, sole manufacturer, sole trader, having all Frenchmen in its pay and service, would assign to each one his task according to his aptitude, and distribute to each one his rations according to his wants. These various uncompleted plans still float in a hazy distance; but their common purpose is clearly distinguishable. “All which tends to concentrating human passions in the abjection of personality must be repudiated or repressed”;82 the point is, to annihilate special interests, to deprive the individual of the motives and means for self-isolation, to suppress preoccupations and ambitions by which he makes himself a centre at the expense of the veritable centre, in short, to detach him from himself in order to attach him wholly to the State.
This is why, outside the narrow egoism through which the individual prefers himself to the community, we follow out the broad egoism by which the individual prefers to the community the group of which he forms a part. Under no pretext must he separate himself from the whole; at no price, must he be allowed to form for himself a small patrimony within the large one, for, by the affection he entertains for the small one, he frustrates the objects of the large one. Nothing is worse than political, civil, religious and domestic federalism; we combat it under all its forms.83 In this particular, the Constituent Assembly has paved the way for us, since it has broken up all the principal historic or material groups by which men have separated themselves from the masses and formed a band apart, provinces, clergy, nobles, parliaments, religious orders, and trades-unions. We complete its work: we destroy churches, we suppress literary or scientific associations, educational or benevolent societies, even down to financial companies.84 We prohibit any departmental or commercial “local spirit”: we find “odious and opposed to all principles, that, amongst municipalities, some should be rich and others poor, that one should have immense patrimonial possessions and another nothing but indebtedness.”85 We regard these possessions as the nation’s, and we place indebtedness to the nation’s account. We take grain from rich communes and departments, to feed poor communes and departments. We build the bridges, roads, and canals of each district, at the expense of the State; “we centralise the labor of the French people in a broad, opulent fashion.”86 We want no more local interests, souvenirs, idioms, and patriotisms. One tie only should subsist between individuals, that which attaches them to the social body; we sunder all others; we do not tolerate any special aggregation; we do the best we can to break up the most tenacious of all, the family. To this end, we assimilate marriage with ordinary contracts: we render this loose and precarious, as nearly resembling the free and transient union of the sexes as possible; it shall be dissolved at the option of both parties, and even of one of the parties, after one month of formalities and of probation; if the couple has lived separate six months, the divorce may be granted without any probation or delay; divorced parties may remarry. On the other hand, we suppress marital authority: since spouses are equal, each has equal rights over common property and the property of each other; we deprive the husband of its administration and render it “common” to both parties. We abolish “paternal authority”; “it is cheating nature to enforce her rights through constraint. … The only rights that parents have are those of protection and watchfulness.”87 The father can no longer control the education of his children; the State takes charge of it. The father is no longer master of his possessions; the portion he can dispose of by donation or testament is of the smallest; we prescribe an equal and forced division of property. Finally, we preach adoption, we efface bastardy, we confer on children born of free love, or of a despotic will, the same rights as those of legitimate children. In short, we break up that sacred circle, that exclusive group, that aristocratic organisation which, under the name of the family, was created out of pride and egoism.88 Henceforth, affection and obedience will no longer be frittered away; the miserable supports to which they have clung like ivy vines, castes, churches, corporations, provinces, communes, or families, are ruined and rooted out; on the ground which is thus levelled, the State alone remains standing, and it alone offers any point of adhesion; all these vines are about to twine themselves in one trunk about the great central column.
Let them not go astray, let us lead them on, let us direct minds and souls, and, to this end, let us enfold man in our doctrines. He needs general ideas and the daily experiences flowing out of them; he needs some theory explaining the origin and nature of things, one which assigns him his place and the part he has to play in the world, which teaches him his duties, which regulates his life, which fixes the days he shall work and the days he shall rest, which stamps itself on his mind through commemorations, festivals and ceremonies, through a catechism and a calendar. Up to this time Religion has been the power charged with this service, interpreted and served by the Church; now it is to be Reason, interpreted and served by the State. In this connection, many among us, disciples of the encyclopedists, constitute Reason a divinity, and honor her with a system of worship; but it is plain that they personify an abstraction; their improvised goddess is simply an allegorical phantom; none of them see in her the intelligent cause of the world; in the depths of their hearts they deny this Supreme Cause, their pretended religion being merely a show or a sham. We discard atheism, not only because it is false, but again, and more especially, because it is disintegrating and unwholesome.89 We want an effective, consolatory, and fortifying religion, and that religion is natural religion, which is social as well as true. “Without this,” Rousseau says, “it is impossible to be a good citizen.90 … The existence of divinity, the future life, the sacredness of the social contract and of the laws,” all are its dogmas; “no one may be forced to believe in these, but whoever dares say that he does not believe in them, sets himself up against the French people, the human species and nature.” Consequently, we decree that “the French people recognises the Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul.” The important thing now is to plant this entirely philosophic faith in all hearts. We introduce it into the civil order of things, we take the calendar out of the hands of the Church, we purge it of its Christian imagery; we make the new era begin with the advent of the Republic; we divide the year according to the metric system, we name the months according to the vicissitudes of the seasons, “we substitute, in all directions, the realities of reason for the visions of ignorance, the truths of nature for a sacerdotal prestige,”91 the decade for the week, the décadi for Sundays, lay festivals for ecclesiastical festivals.92 On each décadi, through solemn and appropriate pomp, we impress on the popular mind one of the highest truths of our creed; we glorify, in the order of their dates, Nature, Truth, Justice, Liberty, Equality, the People, Adversity, Humanity, the Republic, Posterity, Glory, Patriotism, Heroism, and other virtues. Besides this, we honor the important days of the Revolution, the taking of the Bastille, the fall of the Throne, the punishment of the tyrant, the expulsion of the Girondists. We, too, have our anniversaries, our relics, the relics of Chalier and Marat,93 our processions, our services, our ritual,94 and the vast system of visible pageantry by which dogmas are made manifest and propagated. But ours, instead of leading men off to an imaginary heaven, brings them back to a living patrimony, and, through our ceremonies as well as through our creed, we inculcate civism.
If it is important to preach this to adults, it is still more important to teach it to children, for children are more easily moulded than adults. Our hold on these still flexible minds is complete, and, through national education “we possess ourselves of coming generations.”95 Naught is more essential and naught is more legitimate. “The country,” says Robespierre, “has a right to bring up its own children; it cannot confide this trust to family pride nor to the prejudices of individuals, the eternal nourishment of aristocracies and of a domestic federalism which narrows the soul by keeping it isolated.” We are determined to have “education common and equal for all French people,” and “we stamp on it a great character, analogous to the nature of our government and the sublime doctrines of our Republic. The aim is no longer to form gentlemen (messieurs) but citizens.”96 We oblige97 teachers, male and female, to present certificates of civism, that is to say, of Jacobinism. We close their school if “precepts or maxims opposed to revolutionary morality” are taught in it, that is to say, in conformity with Christian morality. Children will learn to read in the Declaration of Rights and in the Constitution of 1793. Republican manuals and catechisms will be prepared for their use.98 “They must be taught the virtuous traits which most honor free men, and especially the traits characteristic of the French Revolution, the best calculated to elevate the soul and render them worthy of equality and liberty.” The 14th of July, 10th of August, 2d of September, 21st of January, and 31st of May must be lauded or justified in their presence. They must be taken to meetings of the municipalities, to the law courts,99 “and especially to the popular clubs; from these pure sources they will derive a knowledge of their rights, of their duties, of the laws, of republican morality,” and, on entering society, they will find themselves imbued with all good maxims. Over and above their political opinions we shape their ordinary habits. We apply on a grand scale the plan of education drawn out by Jean-Jacques (Rousseau).100 We want no more literary prigs; in the army, “the ‘swell’ breaks down the first campaign”;101 we want young men able to endure privation and fatigue, toughened, like Emile, “by hard work” and physical exercise. We have, thus far, only sketched out this department of education, but the agreement amongst the various plans shows the meaning and bearings of our principle. “Children generally, without distinction and without exception,” says Lepelletier de Saint-Fargeau,102 “boys from five to twelve, and girls from five to eleven years of age, must be brought up in common at the expense of the Republic; all, under the sacred law of equality, are to receive the same clothing, the same food, the same education, the same attention” in boarding-schools distributed according to cantons, and containing each from four to six hundred pupils. “Pupils will be made to submit every day and every moment to the same rigid rules. … Their beds must be hard, their food healthy, but simple, their clothing comfortable, but coarse.” Servants will not be allowed; children must help themselves and, besides this, they must wait on the old and infirm, lodged with or near them. “Among daily duties, manual labor will be the principal thing; all the rest will be accessory.” Girls must learn to spin, sew and wash clothes; the boys will work the roads, be shepherds, ploughmen and work-hands; both will have tasks set them, either in the school-workshops, or in the fields and factories in the neighborhood; they will be hired out to surrounding manufacturers and to the tillers of the soil. Saint-Just is more specific and rigid.103 “Male children from five to sixteen years of age, must be raised for their country. They must be clad in common cloth at all seasons, and have mats for beds, and sleep eight hours. They are to have common food only, fruits, vegetables, preparations of milk, bread and water. They must not eat meat before sixteen. … Their education, from ten to sixteen, is to be military and agricultural. They will be formed into companies of sixty; six companies make a battalion; the children of a district form a legion; they will assemble annually at the district town, encamp there and drill in infantry tactics, in arenas specially provided for the purpose; they will also learn cavalry manoeuvres and every other species of military evolution. In harvest time they are to be distributed amongst the harvesters.” After sixteen, “they enter the arts,” along with some farmer, artisan, merchant, or manufacturer, who becomes their titulary “instructor,” and with whom they are bound to remain up to the age of twenty-one, “under the penalty of being deprived for life of a citizen’s rights.104 … All children will dress alike up to sixteen years of age; from sixteen to twenty-one, they will dress as workmen; from twenty-one to twenty-five, they will dress as soldiers, if they are not in the magistracy.” Already we show the effects of the theory by one striking example; we founded the “Ecole de Mars”;105 we select out of each district six boys from sixteen to seventeen and a half years old “among the children of sans-culottes”; we summon them to Paris, “to receive there, through a revolutionary education, whatever belongs to the knowledge and habits of a republican soldier. They are schooled in fraternity, in discipline, in frugality, in good habits, in love of country and in detestation of kings.” Three or four thousand young people are lodged at the Sablons, “in a palisaded enclosure, the intervals of which are guarded by chevaux de frises and sentinels.”106 We put them into tents; we feed them with bran bread, rancid pork, water, and vinegar; we drill them in the use of arms; we march them out on national holidays and stimulate them with patriotic harangues. Suppose all Frenchmen educated in such a school; the habits they acquire in youth will persist in the adult, and, in each adult we shall find the sobriety, energy and patriotism of a Spartan or Roman.
Already, under the pressure of our decrees, civism affects customs, and there are manifest signs, on all sides, of public regeneration. “The French people,” says Robespierre, “seem to have outstripped the rest of humanity, by two thousand years; one might be tempted to regard them, living amongst them, as a different species. In the rest of Europe, a ploughman, an artisan, is an animal formed for the pleasures of a noble; in France, the nobles are trying to transform themselves into ploughmen and artisans, but do not succeed in obtaining that honor.”107 Life in all directions is gradually assuming democratic forms. Wealthy prisoners are prohibited from purchasing delicacies, or procuring special conveniences; they eat along with the poor prisoners the same ration, at the common mess.108 Bakers have orders to make but one quality of bread, the brown bread called equality bread, and, to obtain his ration, each person must place himself in line with the rest of the crowd. On holidays109 everybody will bring his provisions down into the street and eat as one family with his neighbor; on the décadi, all are to sing and dance together, pell-mell, in the temple of the Supreme Being. The decrees of the Convention and the orders of the representatives impose the republican cockade on women; public opinion and example impose on men the costume and appearance of sans-culottes; we see even “swells” wearing mustaches, long hair, red cap, vest, and heavy wooden shoes.110 Nobody calls a person Monsieur or Madame; the only titles allowed are citoyen and citoyenne while thee and thou is the general rule. Rude familiarity takes the place of monarchical politeness; all greet each other as equals and comrades. There is now only one tone, one style, one language; revolutionary forms constitute the tissue of speech, as well as of written discourse; thought now seems to consist entirely of our ideas and phrases. All names are transformed, those of months and of days, those of places and of monuments, baptismal names and names of families: St. Denis has become Franciade; Peter Gaspard is converted into Anaxagoras, and Antoine-Louis into Brutus; Leroi, the deputy, calls himself Laloi, and Leroy, the jurist, calls himself August-Tenth. By dint of thus shaping the exterior we reach the interior, and through outward civism we prepare internal civism. Both are obligatory, but the latter much more so than the former; for that is the fundamental principle,111 the mainspring which sustains and impels a democratic and popular government. “It is impossible to apply the social contract if everybody does not scrupulously observe the first clause of it, namely, the complete surrender of himself to the community; everybody, then, must give himself up entirely, not only actually but heartily, and devote himself to the public weal, which public weal is the regeneration of man as we have defined it. The veritable citizen is he who thus marches along with us. With him, as with us, abstract truths of philosophy control the conscience and govern the will. He starts with our articles of faith and follows them out to the end; he derives from them all the consequences which we derive from them; he endorses our acts, he recites our creed, he observes our discipline, he is a believing and practicing Jacobin, an orthodox Jacobin, unsullied, and without taint of heresy or schism. Never does he swerve to the left toward exaggeration, nor to the right toward toleration; without haste or delay he travels along on the narrow, steep and straight path which we have marked out for him; this is the pathway of reason, for, as there is but one reason, there is but one pathway. Let no one swerve from the line; there are abysses on each side of it. Let us follow our guides, men of principles, the pure, especially Couthon, Saint-Just, and Robespierre; they are choice specimens, all cast in the true mould, and it is this unique and rigid mould in which all French men are to be recast.
I.Retrograde conception of the State—Analogy between this idea of the State and that of antiquity—Difference between antique and modern society—Difference in circumstances—II.Difference between men’s souls—Conscience and its Christian origin—Honour and its feudal origin—The individual of today refuses to surrender himself entirely—His motives—Additional motives in modern democracy—Character of the elective process and nature of the mandatory—III.Origin and nature of the modern State—Its functions, rights, and limits—IV.Temptation to encroachments—Precedents and reasons for its pretensions—V.Direct common interest—This consists in the absence of constraint—Two reasons in favor of freedom of action—Character, in general, of the individual man—Modern complications—VI.Indirect common interest—This consists in the most economical and most productive employment of spontaneous forces—Difference between voluntary labor and forced labor—Sources of man’s spontaneous action—Conditions of their energy, work, and products—Motives for leaving them under personal control—Extent of the private domain—Individuals voluntarily extend it—What they leave to the State—Obligatory functions of the State—Optional functions of the State—VII.Fabrication of social instrumentalities—Application of this principle—How all kinds of useful laborers are formed—Respect for spontaneous sources, the essential and adequate condition—Obligation of the State to respect these—They dry up when it monopolizes them—The aim of Patriotism—The aim of other liberal dispositions—Impoverishment of all the productive faculties—Destructive effect of the Jacobin system— VIII.Comparison between despotisms—Philip II. and Louis XIV.—Cromwell and Frederic the Great—Peter the Great and the Sultans—Proportions of the weight they sustain and the forces they control—Disproportion between the Jacobins’ attempt to raise this weight and their forces—Folly of their undertaking—Physical force the only governmental force they possess—They are compelled to exercise it—They are compelled to abuse it—Character of their government—Character requisite in their leaders.
The logical creation of a curtailed type of humanity, the effort to adapt the living man to this type, the interference of public authority in every branch of public endeavor, restrictions put upon labor, exchanges, and property, upon the family and education, upon worship, habits, customs, and sentiments, the sacrifice of the individual to the community, the omnipotence of the State—such is the Jacobin theory. None could be more retrograde; for the modern man is made to revert back to social forms which, for eighteen centuries, he had already passed through and left behind him. During the historical era preceding our own, and especially in the old Greek or Latin cities, in Rome and Sparta, which the Jacobins take for their models,1 human society was shaped after the pattern of an army or convent. In a convent as in an army, one idea, absorbing and unique, predominates: the aim of the monk is to please God at any sacrifice; the soldier makes every sacrifice to obtain a victory; accordingly, each renounces every other desire and entirely abandons himself, the monk to his rules and the soldier to his drill. In like manner, in the antique world, two preoccupations were of supreme importance. In the first place, the city had its gods who were both its founders and protectors: it was therefore obliged to worship these in the most reverent and particular manner; otherwise, they abandoned it; the neglect of any insignificant rite might offend them and ruin it. In the second place, there was incessant warfare, and the rights of war were atrocious; on a city being taken every citizen might expect to be killed or maimed, or sold at auction, and see his children and wife knocked down to the highest bidder.2 In short, the antique city, with its acropolis of temples and its fortified citadel surrounded by implacable and threatening enemies, resembles for us the institution of the Knights of St. John on their rocks at Rhodes or Malta, a religious and military confraternity encamped around a church. Liberty, under such conditions, is out of the question: public convictions are too imperious; public danger is too great. With this pressure upon him, and thus hampered, the individual gives himself up to the community, which takes full possession of him, because, to maintain its own existence, it needs the whole man. Henceforth, no one may develop apart and for himself; no one may act or think except within fixed lines. The type of man is distinctly and clearly marked out, if not logically at least traditionally; each life, as well as each portion of each life must conform to this type; otherwise public security is compromised: any falling off in gymnastic education weakens the army; passing the images of the gods and neglecting the usual libation draws down celestial vengeance on the city. Consequently, to prevent all deviations, the State, absolute master, exercises unlimited jurisdiction; no freedom whatever is left to the individual, no portion of himself is reserved to himself, no sheltered corner against the strong hand of public force, neither his possessions, his children, his personality, his opinions, or his conscience.3 If, on voting days, he shares in the sovereignty, he is a subject all the rest of the year, even to his private sentiments. Rome, to serve these ends, had two censors; one of the archons of Athens was inquisitor of the faith; Socrates was put to death “for not believing in the gods in which the city believed.”4 In reality, not only in Greece and in Rome, but in Egypt, in China, in India, in Persia, in Judea, in Mexico, in Peru, during the first stages of civilisation,5 the principle of human communities is still that of animal associations: the individual belongs to his community the same as the bee to its hive and the ant to its ant-hill; he is simply an organ within an organism. Under diverse forms and in diverse applications authoritative socialism alone prevails.
It is just the opposite in modern society; what was once the rule has now become the exception; the antique system survives only in temporary associations, like that of an army, or in special associations, as in a convent. The individual has liberated himself by degrees, and, from century to century, he has extended his domain; the two chains which once bound him fast to the community, are broken or become loosened. In the first place, public power has ceased to consist of a militia protecting a cult. Through the institution of Christianity, civil society and religious society have become two distinct empires, Christ himself having separated the two jurisdictions; “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” On the other hand, through the rise of Protestantism, the great Christian Church is split into numerous sects which, unable to destroy each other, have been so compelled to live together that the State, even when preferring one of them, has found it necessary to tolerate the others. Finally, through the development of Protestantism, philosophy and the sciences, speculative beliefs have multiplied; there are almost as many faiths now-a-days as there are thinking men, and, as thinking men are becoming daily more numerous, opinions are daily becoming more numerous, so that, if the State should try to impose any one of these on society, this would excite opposition from an infinity of others; hence the wisdom of the State is found, first, in remaining neutral, and, next, in acknowledging that it is not qualified to interfere. In the second place, war has become less frequent and less destructive because men have not so many motives for waging it, nor the same motives to push it to the same extremes. Formerly, war was the main source of wealth; through victories man acquired slaves, subjects, and tributaries; he turned these to the best account; he leisurely enjoyed their forced labor. Nothing of this kind is seen now-a-days; people no longer think of providing themselves with human cattle; they have discovered that, of all animals, these are the most troublesome, the least productive, and the most dangerous. Comforts and security are obtained much more readily through free labor and machinery; the great object now is not to conquer, but to produce and interchange. Every day, man, pressing forward more eagerly in civil careers, is less disposed to put up with any obstacle that interferes with his aims; if he still consents to be a soldier it is not to become an invader, but to provide against invasion. Meanwhile, war has become more scientific and, through the complications of its machinery, more costly; the State can no longer call out and enlist for life every able-bodied man without ruining itself, nor put too many obstacles in the way of that free industry which, through taxation, provides for its expenses; however short-sighted the State may be, it consults civil interests, even in its military interest. Thus, of the two nets, in the toils of which it has enveloped all human activity, one is rent asunder and the other has relaxed its meshes. There is no longer any reason for making the community omnipotent; the individual need not alienate himself entirely; he may, without inconvenience, reserve to himself a part of himself, and, if now called upon to sign a social contract, you may be sure that he would make this reservation.
Outward circumstances, indeed, are not only changed, but the very depths of the soul are changed; the breast of man is animated by a sentiment which is repugnant to antique stipulations. Undoubtedly, in extreme cases and under the pressure of brutal necessity I may, without special instructions and for a time, give the State my signature in blank. But, never, with a full comprehension of the meaning of the terms, will I sign away in good faith the complete and permanent abandonment of myself: it would be against conscience and honor, which two possessions are not to be alienated. My honor and my conscience are not to go out of my keeping; I am their sole guardian and depositary; I would not even entrust them to my father. Both these terms are new and express two conceptions unknown to the ancients,6 both being of profound import and of infinite reach. Through them, like a bud separated from its stem and taking root apart, the individual has separated himself from the primitive body, clan, family, caste, or city in which he has lived indistinguishable and lost in the crowd; he has ceased to be an organ and appendage; he has become a personality. The first of these conceptions is of Christian origin and the second of feudal origin; both, following each other and conjoined, measure the enormous distance which separates an antique soul from a modern soul.
Alone, in the presence of God, the Christian feels every tie dissolving like wax that binds him to the group around him; he stands face to face with the Great Judge, and this infallible judge sees all souls as they are, not confusedly and in masses, but distinctly and each by itself. At the bar of this tribunal no one is answerable for another; each answers for himself alone; one is responsible only for one’s acts. But those acts are of infinite consequence, for the soul, redeemed by the blood of a God, is of infinite price; hence, according as it has or has not profited by the divine sacrifice, so will the reward or punishment be infinite; at the final judgment, an eternity of torment or bliss opens before it. All other interests vanish alongside of an interest of such vast disproportion; thenceforth, righteousness is the most serious of all aims, not in the eyes of man, but of God, and again, day after day, the soul renews within itself that tragic questioning in which the Judge interrogates and the sinner responds. Through this dialogue, which has been going on for eighteen centuries, and which is yet to continue, conscience has grown more and more sensitive, and man has conceived the idea of absolute justice. Whether this is vested in an all-powerful master, or whether it is a self-existent truth, like mathematical truths, in no wise takes away from its sacredness nor, consequently, from its authority. It commands with a superior voice and its commands must be obeyed, cost what it will: there are strict duties to which every man is rigorously bound. No pledge may relieve him of these duties; if not fulfilled because he has given contrary pledges he is no less culpable on this account, and besides, he is culpable for having pledged himself; the pledging of himself to crimes was in itself a crime. His fault thus appears to him twofold, and the inward prick galls him twice instead of once. Hence, the more sensitive the conscience, the greater its repugnance to self-abdication; it repels in advance any pact tending to wrong-doing, and refuses to give to men the right of imposing remorse.
At the same time another sentiment has arisen, not less precious and still more energetic, more human and more efficacious. Solitary in his stronghold, the feudal chieftain, at the head of his band, could depend on nobody but himself, for a public force did not then exist. It was necessary that he should protect himself, and, indeed, overprotect himself; whoever, in the anarchical and military society in which he lived, allowed the slightest encroachment, or left unpunished the slightest approach to insult, was regarded as weak or craven and at once became a prey; one had to be proud-spirited under penalty of death. And do not fancy this a difficult task for him. Sole proprietor and absolute sovereign, with no equals or peers on his domain, he lived there a unique being of a superior kind, and disproportionate with every one else.7 Hence his soliloquising during the long hours of a dreary solitude, which soliloquy has lasted for nine centuries.8 Thus, in his own eyes, his person and all that depends on him are inviolable; rather than tolerate the slightest infringement on his prerogatives he will dare all and sacrifice all.9 A proud sensibility (orgueil exalté) is the best of sentinels to protect a right; for, not only does it mount guard over the right to preserve it, but, again, and especially, for its own satisfaction; the imagination has conceived a character which befits the rank, and this character the man imposes on himself as a password. Henceforth, he not only forces the respect of others, but he respects himself; he possesses the sentiment of honor, a generous self-esteem which makes him regard himself as noble and incapable of doing anything mean. In discriminating between his actions, he may err; fashion or vanity may sometimes lead him too far, or lead him astray, either on the path of recklessness or on that of puerility; his point of honor may be fixed in the wrong direction. But, in sum, and thanks to this being a fixed point, he will maintain himself erect even under an absolute monarchy, under a Philip II. in Spain, under a Louis XIV. in France, under a Frederic II. in Prussia. From the feudal baron or gentleman of the court to the modern gentleman, this tradition persists and descends from story to story down to the lowest social substratum: today, every man of spirit, the bourgeois, the peasant, the workman, has his point of honor like the noble. He likewise, in spite of the social encroachments that gain on him, reserves to himself his private nook, a sort of moral stronghold wherein he preserves his faiths, his opinions, his affections, his obligations as son, husband, and father; it is the sacred treasury of his innermost being. This stronghold belongs to him alone; no one, even in the name of the public, has a right to enter it; to surrender it would be cowardice; rather than give up its keys he would die in the breach;10 when this militant sentiment of honor is enlisted on the side of conscience it becomes virtue itself.11 Such are, in these days, the two master ideas of our European morality.12 Through the former the individual recognises duties from which nothing can exempt him; through the latter, he claims rights of which nothing can deprive him: our civilization has vegetated from these two roots, and still vegetates. Consider the depth and extent of the historical soil in which they penetrate, and you may judge of their vigor. Consider the height and unlimited growth of the trees which they nourish, and you may judge of their healthiness. Everywhere else, one or the other having failed, in China, in the Roman Empire, in Islamism, the sap has dried downward and the tree has become stunted, or has fallen. Through them our civilisation lives and keeps on growing; they give substance to its noblest branches, to its best fruits; their human offshoots are more or less beautiful, according as the sap which reaches them is more or less pure, and these the Jacobin axe seeks to cut away. It is the modern man, who is neither Chinese, nor antique, nor Mussulman, nor negro, nor savage, the man formed by Christian education and taking refuge in his conscience as in a sanctuary, the man formed by feudal education and entrenched behind his honor as in a fortress, whose sanctuary and stronghold the new social contract bids him surrender.
Now, in this democracy founded on the preponderance of numbers, into whose hands am I required to make this surrender? Theoretically, to the community, that is to say, to a crowd in which an anonymous impulse is the substitute for individual judgment; in which action becomes impersonal because it is collective; in which nobody acknowledges responsibility; in which I am borne along like a grain of sand in a whirlwind; in which all sorts of outrages are condoned beforehand for reasons of state: practically, to the plurality of voices counted by heads, to a majority which, overexcited by the struggle for mastery, will abuse its victory and wrong the minority to which I may belong; to a provisional majority which, sooner or later, will be replaced by another, so that if I am today oppressor I am sure of being oppressed tomorrow; still more particularly, to six or seven hundred representatives, among whom I am called upon to choose but one. To elect this unique mandatory I have but one vote among ten thousand; and in helping to elect him I am only the ten-thousandth; I do not even count for a ten-thousandth in electing the others. And it is these six or seven hundred strangers to me to whom I give full power to decide for me—note the expression full power—which means unlimited power, not alone over my possessions and life, but, again, over my conscience, with all its powers combined; that is to say, with powers much more extensive than those I confer separately on ten persons in whom I place the most confidence—to my legal adviser who looks after my fortune, to the teacher of my children, to the physician who cares for my health, to the confessor who directs my conscience, to friends who are to serve as executors of my last will and testament, to seconds in a duel who decide on my life, on the waste of my blood, and who guard my honor. Without reference to the deplorable farce, so often played around the ballot-box, or to the forced and spurious elections which put a contrary interpretation on public sentiment, or to the official fictions by which, actually at this moment, a few fanatics and madmen, who represent nobody but themselves, assume to represent the nation, measure what degree of confidence I may have, even after honest elections, in mandatories who are thus chosen! Frequently, I have voted for the defeated candidate; in which case I am represented by the other whom I did not want for a representative. In voting for the elected candidate, I did it because I knew of no better one, and because his opponent seemed to me worse. And even him I have seen only half the time, at odd moments; I scarcely knew more of him than the color of his coat, the tone of his voice, and the way he has of thumping his breast. All I know of him is through his “platform,” vague and declamatory, through editorials, and through drawing-room, coffee-house, or street gossip. His title to my confidence is of the flimsiest and shallowest kind; there is nothing to substantiate to me his integrity or competency; he has no diploma, and no one to indorse him like the preceptor; he has no guarantee from the incorporation to which he belongs, like the physician, the priest or the lawyer; with certificates of character such as he has I should hesitate in engaging a domestic. And all the more because the class from which I am obliged to take him is almost always that of politicians, a suspicious class, especially in countries in which universal suffrage prevails; for, this class is not recruited among the most independent, the ablest, and the most honest, but among voluble, scheming men and zealous charlatans, who, having failed in private careers for lack of character, in situations where one is watched too closely and too nicely weighed in the balance, have fallen back on vicious courses in which the want of scrupulousness and discretion is a force instead of a weakness; to their indelicacy and impudence the doors of a public career stand wide open. Such is the august personage into whose hands, according to the theory, I am called upon to surrender my will, my will in full; certainly, if self-renunciation were necessary, I should risk less in giving myself up to a king or to an aristocracy, even hereditary; for then would my representatives be at least recommended by their evident rank and their probable competency. Democracy, in its nature and composition, is a system in which the individual awards to his representatives the least trust and deference; hence, it is the system in which he should entrust them with the least power. Conscience and honor everywhere enjoin a man to retain for himself some portion of his independence; but nowhere else will he cede so little of it. If, in every modern constitution the domain of the State ought to be limited, it is in modern democracy that it should be the most restricted.
Let us try to define these limits. After the turmoil of invasions and conquest, at the height of social disintegration, amidst the combats daily occurring between private parties, there arose in every European community a public force, which force, lasting for centuries, still persists in our day. How it was organised, through what early stages of violence it passed, through what accidents and struggles, and into whose hands it is now entrusted, whether temporarily or forever, whatever the laws of its transmission, whether by inheritance or election, is of secondary importance; the main thing is its functions and their mode of operation. Substantially, it is a mighty sword, drawn from its scabbard and uplifted over the smaller blades around it, with which private individuals once cut each others’ throats. Menaced by it, the smaller blades repose in their scabbards; they have become inert, useless, and, finally, rusty; with few exceptions, everybody save malefactors, has now lost both the habit and the desire to use them, so that, henceforth, in this pacified society, the public sword is so formidable that all private resistance vanishes the moment it flashes. This sword is forged out of two interests; it was necessary to have one of its magnitude, first, against similar blades brandished by other communities on the frontier; and next, against the smaller blades which bad passions are always sharpening in the interior. People demanded protection against outside enemies and inside ruffians and murderers, and, slowly and painfully, after much groping and many retemperings, the hereditary banding-together of persistent energies has fashioned the sole arm which is capable of protecting lives and property with any degree of success.
So long as it does no more I am indebted to the State which holds the hilt: it gives me a security which, without it, I could not enjoy; in exchange for this security I owe it, for my quota, the means for keeping this weapon in good condition: any service rendered is worth its cost. Accordingly, there is between the State and myself, if not an express contract, at least a tacit understanding analogous to that which binds a child to its parent, a believer to his church, and, on both sides, this mutual understanding is clear and precise. The State engages to look after my security within and without; I engage to furnish the means for so doing, which means consist of my respect and gratitude, my zeal as a citizen, my services as a conscript, my contributions as a tax-payer, in short, whatever is necessary for the maintenance of an army, a navy, a diplomatic organisation, civil and criminal courts, a militia and police, central and local administrations, in short, a harmonious set of organs of which my obedience and loyalty constitute the food, the substance, and the blood. This loyalty and obedience, whatever I am, whether rich or poor, Catholic, Protestant, Jew or free-thinker, royalist or republican, individualist or socialist, I owe in honor and in conscience, for I have received their equivalent; I am very glad that I am not vanquished, assassinated, or robbed. I pay back to the State exactly what it expends in machinery and oversight for keeping down brutal cupidity, greedy appetites, deadly fanaticisms, the entire howling pack of passions and desires of which, sooner or later, I might become the prey, were it not constantly to extend over me its vigilant protection. When it demands its outlay of me it is not my property which it takes away, but its own property, which it resumes and, in this light, it may legitimately force me to pay. On condition, however, that it does not exact more than my liabilities, and this it does when it oversteps its original engagements; when it undertakes some extra material or moral work that I do not ask for; when it constitutes itself sectarian, moralist, philanthropist, or pedagogue; when it strives to propagate within its borders, or outside of them, any religious or philosophic dogma, or any special political or social system. For then, it adds a new article to the primitive pact, for which article there is not the same unanimous and assured assent that existed for the pact. We are all willing to be secured against violence and fraud; outside of this, and on almost any other point, there are divergent wills. I have my own religion, my own opinions, my habits, my customs, my peculiar views of life, and way of regarding the universe; now, this is just what constitutes my personality, what honor and conscience forbid me to alienate, that which the State has promised me to hold harmless. Consequently, when, through its additional article, it attempts to regulate these in a certain way, if that way is not my way, it fails to fulfill its primordial engagement and, instead of protecting me, it oppresses me. Even if it should have the support of a majority, even if all voters, less one, should agree to entrusting it with this supererogatory function, were there only one dissentient, he would be wronged, and in two ways. In the first place, and in all cases, the State, to fulfill its new task, exacts from him an extra amount of subsidy and service; for, every supplementary work brings along with it supplementary expenses; the budget is overburdened when the State takes upon itself the procuring of work for laborers or employment for artists, the maintenance of any particular industrial or commercial enterprise, the giving of alms, and the furnishing of education. To an expenditure of money add an expenditure of lives, should it enter upon a war of generosity or of propagandism. Now, to all these expenditures that it does not approve of, the minority contributes as well as the majority which does approve of them; so much the worse for the conscript and the tax-payer if they belong to the dissatisfied group; like it or not, the collector puts his hand in the tax-payer’s pocket, and the sergeant lays his hand on the conscript’s collar. In the second place, and in numerous cases, not only does the State take unjustly over and beyond my liability, but, again, it uses unjustly the money it extorts from me in the application of this to new constraints; such is the case when it imposes on me its theology or philosophy; when it prescribes for me, or interdicts, a cult; when it assumes to regulate my ways and habits, to limit my labor or expenditure, to direct the education of my children, to fix the prices of my wares or the rate of my wages. For then, in support of its commands or prohibitions, it enacts against the refractory light or serious penalties, all the way from political or civil incapacity to fine, imprisonment, exile, and the guillotine. In other words, the crown I do not owe it, and of which it robs me, pays for the persecution which it inflicts upon me; I am reduced to paying out of my own purse the wages of my inquisitors, my jailor, and my executioner. A more glaring oppression could not be imagined! Let us take heed of the encroachments of the State and not allow it to become anything more than a watch-dog. Whilst the teeth and nails of other guests in the household have been losing their sharpness, its fangs have become formidable; it is now colossal and it alone still keeps up the practice of fighting. Let us supply it with nourishment against wolves; but never let it touch peaceable folks around the table. Appetite grows by eating; it would soon become a wolf itself, and the most ravenous wolf inside the fold. The important thing is to keep a chain around its neck and confine it within its own pale.
Let us inspect this fold, which is an extensive one, and, through its angles, reaching into almost every nook of private life. Each private domain, indeed, physical or moral, offers temptations for its neighbors to trespass on it, and, to keep this intact, demands the superior intervention of a third party. To acquire, to possess, to sell, to give, to bequeath, to contract between husband and wife, father, mother, or child, between master or domestic, employer or employee, each act and each situation, involves rights limited by contiguous and adverse rights, and it is the State which sets up the boundary between them. Not that it creates this boundary; but, that this may be recognised, it draws the line and therefore enacts civil laws, which it applies through its courts and gendarmes in such a way as to secure to each individual what belongs to him. The State stands, accordingly, as regulator and controller, not alone of private possessions, but also of the family and of domestic life; its authority is thus legitimately introduced into that reserved circle in which the individual will has intrenched itself, and, as is the habit of all great powers, once the circle is invaded, its tendency is to occupy it fully and entirely. To this end, it alleges a new principle. Constituted as a moral personality, the same as a church, university, or charitable or scientific body, is not the State bound, like every corporate body that is to last for ages, to extend its vision far and near and prefer to private interests, which are only life-interests, the common interest which is eternal? Is not this the superior end to which all others should be subordinated, and must this interest, which is supreme over all, be sacrificed to two troublesome instincts which are often unreasonable and sometimes dangerous: to conscience, which overflows in mystic absurdities, and to honor, the excitements of which end in murder? Certainly not, and first, in its grandest works, when the State, as legislator, regulates marriages, inheritances, and testaments, it is not respect for the will of individuals which solely guides it; it does not content itself with obliging everybody to pay his debts, including even those which are tacit, involuntary, and innate; it takes into account the public interest; it calculates remote probabilities, future contingencies, all results singly and collectively. Manifestly, in allowing or forbidding divorce, in extending or restricting what a man may dispose of by testament, in favoring or interdicting substitutions, it is chiefly in view of some political, economical, or social advantage, either to refine or consolidate the union of the sexes, to implant in the family habits of discipline or sentiments of affection, to excite in children an initiatory spirit, or one of concord, to prepare for the nation a staff of natural chieftains, or an army of small proprietors, and always authorised by the universal assent. Moreover, and always with this universal assent, it does other things outside the task originally assigned to it, and nobody finds that it usurps, when it coins money, when it regulates weights and measures, when it establishes quarantines, when, on condition of an indemnity, it expropriates private property for public utility, when it builds lighthouses, harbors, dykes, canals, roads, when it defrays the cost of scientific expeditions, when it founds museums and public libraries; at times, toleration is shown for its support of universities, schools, churches, and theatres, and, to justify fresh drafts on private purses for such objects, no reason is assigned for it but the common interest. Why should it not, in like manner, take upon itself every enterprise for the benefit of all? Why should it hesitate in commanding the execution of every work advantageous to the community, and why abstain from interdicting every disadvantageous work? Now, observe this, that in human society every act of omission or of commission, even when the most carefully concealed or avowed, is a loss or gain to society: if I neglect to take care of my property or of my health, of my intellect, or of my soul, I undermine or weaken in my person a member of the community who is rich, healthy, and strong only through the richness, health, and strength of his fellow members, so that, from this point of view, my private actions are all public benefits or public injuries. Why then, from this point of view, should the State scruple about prescribing some of these to me and interdicting others? Why, in order to better exercise this right, and better fulfill this obligation, should it not constitute itself the universal contractor for labor, and the universal distributor of productions? Why should it not become the sole agriculturist, manufacturer, and merchant, the unique proprietor and administrator of all France? Precisely because this would be opposed to the common weal. Here the second principle, that advanced against individual independence, operates inversely, and, instead of being an adversary, it becomes a champion. Far from setting the State free, it puts another chain around its neck, and thus strengthens the pale within which modern conscience and modern honor have confined the public guardian.
In what, indeed, does the common weal consist? In the interest of each person, while that which interests each person is the things of which the possession is agreeable and the deprivation painful. The whole world would in vain gainsay this point; every sensation is personal. My suffering and my enjoyments are not to be contested any more than my inclination for objects which procure me the one, and my dislike of objects which procure me the other. There is, therefore, no arbitrary definition of each one’s particular interest; this exists as a fact independently of the legislator; all that remains is to show what this interest is, and what each individual prefers. Preferences vary according to race, time, place, and circumstance; but, among the possessions which are ever desirable and the privation of which is ever dreaded, there is one which, directly desired, and for itself, becomes, through the progress of civilisation, more and more cherished, and of which the privation becomes, through the progress of civilisation, more and more grievous, and that is the entire disposition of one’s self, the full ownership of one’s body and property, the faculty of thinking, believing, and worshipping as one pleases, of associating with others, of acting separately or along with others, in all senses and without hindrance; in short, one’s liberty. That this liberty may be as extensive as possible is, in all times, one of man’s great needs, and, in our days, it is his greatest need. There are two reasons for this, one natural and the other historical. Man, in nature, is individual, that is to say a small distinct world in himself, a centre apart in an enclosed circle, a detached organism complete in itself and which suffers when his spontaneous inclinations are thwarted by the intervention of a foreign power. History has made him a complex organism, wherein three or four religions, five or six civilisations, thirty centuries of assiduous culture have left their imprint; in which its acquisitions are combined together, wherein heredities are intercrossed, wherein special traits have accumulated in such a way as to produce the most original and the most sensitive of beings; as civilisation increases, so does his complexity go on increasing: accordingly, his originality strengthens and his sensibilities become keener; from which it follows that, the more civilised he becomes, the greater his repugnance to constraint and uniformity. At the present day, each of us is the terminal and peculiar product of a vast elaboration of which the diverse stages occur in this order but once, a plant unique of its species, a solitary individual of superior and finer essence which, with its own inward structure and its own inalienable type, can bear no other than its own characteristic fruit. Nothing could be more adverse to the interest of the oak than to be tortured into bearing the apples of the apple-tree; nothing could be more adverse to the interest of the apple-tree than to be tortured into bearing acorns; nothing could be more opposed to the interests of both oak and apple-tree, also of other trees, than to be pruned, shaped, and twisted so as all to grow after a forced model, delineated on paper according to the rigid and limited imagination of a geometrician. The least possible constraint is, therefore, everybody’s chief interest; if one particular restrictive agency is established, it is that every one may be preserved by it from other more powerful constraints, especially those which the foreigner and evil-doers would impose. Up to that point, and no further, its intervention is beneficial; beyond that point, it becomes one of the evils it is intended to forestall. Such then, if the common weal is to be looked after, is the sole office of the State—to prevent constraint and, therefore, never to use it except to prevent worse constraints; to secure respect for each individual in his own physical and moral domain; never to encroach on this except for that purpose; to withdraw immediately; to abstain from all indiscreet meddling, and yet more, as far as is practicable, without any sacrifice of public security, to reduce old assessments, to exact only a minimum of subsidies and services, to gradually limit even useful action, to set itself as few tasks as possible, to let each one have all the room possible and the maximum of initiative, to slowly abandon monopolies, to refrain from competition with private parties, to rid itself of functions which they can fulfill equally well—all clearly showing that the limits prescribed to the State by the common good are just those which duty and right render obligatory.
If we now take into consideration, no longer the direct, but the indirect interest of all; if, instead of caring for men we concern ourselves with their works; if we regard human society as a material and spiritual workshop, the perfection of which consists in its being the most productive and economical, and as well furnished and as well managed as possible—from this point of view again, with this secondary and subordinate aim, the domain of the State is scarcely less limited: very few new functions are to be attributed to it; nearly all the rest will be better fulfilled by independent persons, or by natural or voluntary associations. Contemplate the man who works for his own benefit, the agriculturist, the manufacturer, the merchant, and observe how attentive he is to his business. And because his interest and pride are involved; his welfare and that of those around him is at stake, his capital, his reputation, his social position and advancement; on the other side, are want, ruin, social degradation, dependence, bankruptcy, and the hospital. In the presence of this alternative he keeps close watch and becomes industrious; he thinks of his business even when abed or at his meals; he studies it, not afar off speculatively, in a general way, but on the spot, practically, in detail, in all its bearings and relationships, constantly calculating difficulties and resources, with such sharp insight and special information that for any other person to try to solve the daily problem which he solves, would be impossible, because nobody could possess or estimate as he can the precise elements which constitute it. Compare with this unique devotion and these peculiar qualifications the ordinary capacity and languid uniformity of an administrative head-clerk, even when an expert and honest. He is sure of his salary, provided he does his duty tolerably well, and this he does when he is occupied during official hours. Let his papers be correct, as the rules and traditions of his bureau demand, and nothing more is asked of him; he need not tax his brain beyond that. If he conceives any economical measure, or any improvement of his branch of the service, not he, but the public, an anonymous and vague impersonality, reaps all the benefit of it. Moreover, why should he care about it, since his project or reform ends in a report which finds its resting-place in a pigeon-hole? The machine is too vast and complicated, too unwieldy, too clumsy, with its rusty wheels, its “ancient rights and safe situations,” to be made over anew, just as one likes, the same as a farm, a warehouse or a foundry. Accordingly, he has no idea of troubling himself further in the matter; on leaving his bureau he dismisses it from his mind; he lets things go on automatically, just as it happens, in a costly way and with indifferent results. Even in a country of as much probity as France, it is calculated that every enterprise managed by the State costs one-quarter more, and brings in one-quarter less, than when entrusted to private hands. Consequently, if work were withheld from individuals in order that the State might undertake it, the community, when the accounts came to be balanced, would suffer a loss of one-half.
Now, this is true of all work, whether spiritual or material not only of agricultural, industrial, and commercial products, but, again, of works of science and of art, of literature and philosophy, of charity, of education and of propagandism; not only when the motor is egoistic, like personal interest and vulgar vanity, but likewise when a disinterested sentiment is involved, like that which prompts the discovery of truth or the creation of beauty, the spread of a faith, the diffusion of convictions, religious enthusiasm, or natural generosity, affection on a broad or on a narrow basis, from one who embraces all humanity to one who devotes himself wholly to his friends and kindred. The effect is the same in both cases, because the cause is the same. Always, in the shop directed by the free workman, the motive force is enormous, almost infinite, because it is a living spring which flows at all hours and is inexhaustible. The mother thinks constantly of her child, the savant of his science, the artist of his art, the inventor of his inventions, the philanthropist of his endowments, Faraday of electricity, Stephenson of his locomotive, Pasteur of his microbes, De Lesseps of his isthmus, sisters of charity of their poor. Through this peculiar concentration of thought, man derives every possible advantage from human faculties and surroundings; he himself gets to be a more and more perfect instrument, and, moreover, he fashions others: with this he daily reduces the friction of the powerful machine which he controls and of which he is the main wheel; he increases its yield; he economises, maintains, repairs, and improves it with a capability and success that nobody questions; in short, he fabricates in a superior way. But this living spring, to which the superiority of the product is due, cannot be separated from the producer, for it issues from his own affections and profoundest sentiments. It is useless without him; out of his hands, in the hands of strangers, the fountain ceases to flow and production stops. If, consequently, a good and large yield is required, he alone must have charge of the mill; he is the resident owner of it, the one who sets it in motion, the born engineer, installed and specially designed for that position. In vain may attempts be made to turn the stream elsewhere; there simply ensues a stoppage of the natural issue, a dam barring useful canals, a haphazard change of current not only without gain, but with loss, the stream subsiding in swamps or undermining the steep banks of a ravine. At the utmost, the millions of buckets of water, forcibly taken from private reservoirs, half fill with a good deal of trouble the great central artificial basin in which the water, low and stagnant, is never sufficient in quantity or force to move the huge public wheel that replaces the small private wheels, doing the nation’s work.
Thus, even regarding men merely as manufacturers, in treating them simply as producers of what is valuable and serviceable, with no other object in view than to furnish society with supplies and to benefit consumers, the private domain comprehends all enterprises undertaken by private individuals, either singly or associated together, through personal interest or personal taste: this suffices to ensure their being better managed than by the State; it is by virtue of this that they have devolved into their hands. Consequently, in the vast field of labor, they themselves decide on what they will undertake; they themselves, of their own authority, set their own fences. They may therefore enlarge their own domain to any extent they please, and reduce indefinitely the domain of the State. On the contrary, the State cannot pretend to more than what they leave; just in proportion to their advance on a partitioned soil with a doubtful frontier, it is bound to recede and leave the ground to them; whatever pursuit they may follow the State must let that alone, except in case of their default, or their prolonged absence, or on proof of their having abandoned it. All the rest, therefore, falls to the State; first, offices which they would never claim, and which they are always glad to leave in its hands, because they have not, and it withholds, the only instrumentality of any account, that special, indispensable instrumentality known as armed force—the protection of the community against foreign communities, the protection of individuals against one another, the levying of soldiers, the imposition of taxes, the execution of the laws, the administration of justice and of the police. Next to this, come matters of which the accomplishment concerns everybody without directly interesting any one in particular—the government of unoccupied territory, the administration of rivers, coasts, forests, and public highways, the task of governing subject countries, the framing of laws, the coinage of money, the conferring of a civil status, the negotiating in the name of the community with local and special corporations, departments, communes, banks, institutions, churches, and universities. Add to these, according to circumstances, sundry optional cooperative services,13 such as subsidies granted to institutions of great public utility, for which private contributions could not suffice, now in the shape of concessions to corporations for which equivalent obligations are exacted, and, again, in those hygienic precautions which individuals fail to take through indifference; occasionally, such provisional aid as supports a man, or so stimulates him as to enable him some day or other to support himself; and, in general, those discreet and scarcely perceptible interpositions for the time being which prove so advantageous in the future, like a far-reaching code and other consistent regulations which, mindful of the liberty of the existing individual, provide for the welfare of coming generations. Nothing beyond that.
Again, in this preparation for future welfare the same principle still holds. Among precious productions, the most precious and important are, evidently, the animated instruments called men, since they produce the rest. The object then, is to fashion men capable of physical, mental, or moral labor, the most energetic, the most persistent, the most skillful, and the most productive; now, we already know the conditions of their formation. It is essential, and this suffices, that each living spring as above described, should flow in its own channel, each through its natural outlet, and under the control of its owner. On this condition the jet becomes more vigorous, for the acquired impetus increases the original outflow; the projector of labor becomes more and more skillful, for he gains knowledge through practise; those around him likewise become better workmen, inasmuch as they find encouragement in his success and avail themselves of his discoveries. Thus, simply because the State respects, and enforces respect, for these individual springs in private hands, it develops in individuals, as well as in those around them, the will and the talent for producing much and well, the faculty for, and desire to, keep on producing more and better; in other words, all sorts of energies and capacities, each of its own kind and in its own place, with all compatible fulness and efficiency. Such is the office, and the sole office, of the State, first in relation to the turbid and frigid springs issuing from selfishness and self-conceit, whose operations demand its oversight, and next, for still stronger reasons, in relation to the warm and pure springs whose beneficence is unalloyed, as in the family affections and private friendships; again, in relation to those rarer and higher springs, such as the love of beauty, the yearning for truth, the spirit of association, patriotism, and love of mankind; and, finally, for still stronger reasons, in relation to the two most sacred and salutary of all springs, conscience which renders will subject to duty, and honor which makes will the support of right. Let the State prevent, as well as abstain from, any interference with either; let this be its object and nothing more; its abstention is as necessary as its vigilance. Let it guard both, and it will see everywhere growing spontaneously, hourly, each in degree according to conditions of time and place, the most diligent and most competent workmen, the agriculturist, the manufacturer, the merchant, the savant, the artist, the inventor, the propagandist, the husband and wife, the father and mother, the patriot, the philanthropist and the sister of charity.
On the contrary, if, like our Jacobins, the State seeks to confiscate every natural force to its own profit, if it seeks to make affection for itself paramount, if it strives to suppress all other passions and interests, if it tolerates no other preoccupation than that which concerns the common weal, if it tries to forcibly convert every member of society into a Spartan or Jesuit, then, at enormous cost, will it not only destroy private springs, and spread devastation over the entire territory, but it will destroy its own fountain-head. We honor the State only for the services it renders to us, and proportionately to these services and the security it affords us, and to the liberty which it ensures us under the title of universal benefactor; when it deliberately wounds us through our dearest interests and tenderest affections, when it goes so far as to attack our honor and conscience, when it becomes the universal wrong-doer, our affection for it, in the course of time, turns into hatred. Let this system be maintained, and patriotism, exhausted, dries up, and, one by one, all other beneficent springs, until, finally, nothing is visible over the whole country, but stagnant pools or overwhelming torrents, inhabited by passive subjects or depredators. As in the Roman empire in the fourth century, in Italy in the seventeenth century, in the Turkish provinces in our own day, naught remains but an ill-conducted herd of stunted, torpid creatures, limited to their daily wants and animal instincts, indifferent to the public welfare and to their own prospective interests, so degenerate as to have lost sight of their own discoveries, unlearned their own sciences, arts and industries, and, in short, and worse than all, base, false, corrupted souls entirely wanting in honor or conscience. Nothing is more destructive than the unrestricted intermeddling of the State, even when wise and paternal; in Paraguay, under the discipline of Jesuits, so minute in its details, “Indian physiognomy appeared like that of animals taken in a trap.” They worked, ate, drank, and gave birth by sound of bell, under watch and ward, correctly and mechanically, but showing no liking for anything, not even for their own existence, being transformed into so many automatons; the least that can be said is that the means employed to produce this result were gentle, while before this they were mere brutes. The revolutionist-Jesuit now undertakes to transform men into automatons, and by harsh means.
Frequently, in European history, despotisms almost equally harsh have borne down heavily on human effort; but never have any of them been so thoroughly inept; for none have ever attempted to raise so heavy a mass with so short a lever.
In the first place, however authoritative the despot might be there was a limit to his interference. Philip II. burned heretics, persecuted Moors, and drove out Jews; Louis XIV. forcibly converted Protestants; but both used violence only against dissenters, about a fifteenth or a twentieth of their subjects. If Cromwell, on becoming Protector, remained sectarian, and the compulsory servant of an army of sectarians, he took good care not to impose on other churches the theology, rites, and discipline of his own church;14 on the contrary, he repressed fanatical outrages; protected the Anabaptists equally with his Independents, granted paid curates to the Presbyterians as well as the public exercise of their worship, also private worship with liberal toleration, to the Episcopalians; he maintained the two great Anglican universities and allowed the Jews to erect a synagogue. Frederick II. drafted into his army every able-bodied peasant that he could feed; he kept every man twenty years in the service, under a discipline worse than slavery, with the almost certain prospect of death; and in his last war, he sacrificed about one-sixth of his male subjects;15 but they were serfs, and his conscription did not touch the bourgeois class. He put his hands in the pockets of the bourgeois and of every other man, and took every crown they had; when driven to it, he adulterated coin and stopped paying his functionaries; but, under the scrutiny of his eyes, always open, the administration was honest, the police effective, justice exact, toleration unlimited, and the freedom of the press complete; the King allowed the publication of the most cutting pamphlets against himself, and their public sale, even at Berlin. A little earlier, in the great empire of the East,16 Peter the Great, with whip in hand, lashed his Muscovite bears and made them drill and dance in European fashion; but they were bears accustomed from father to son to the whip and chain; moreover, he stood as the orthodox head of their faith, and left their mir (the village commune) untouched. Finally, at the other extremity of Europe, and even outside of Europe, the caliph or sultan, in the seventh century, in the fifteenth century, an Omar or a Mahomet, a fanatical Arab or brutal Turk, who had just overcome Christians with the sword, himself assigned the limits of his own absolutism: if the vanquished were reduced to the condition of heavily ransomed tributaries and of inferiors daily humiliated, he allowed them their worship, civil laws, and domestic usages; he left them their institutions, their convents, and their schools; he allowed them to administer the affairs of their own community as they pleased under the jurisdiction of their patriarch, or other natural chieftains. Thus, whatever the tyrant may have been, he did not attempt to make man over again, nor recast all his subjects according to one pattern. Far as his tyranny went, it stopped in the soul at a certain point; that point reached, the sentiments were left free. However overwhelming this tyranny may have been, it affected only one class of men; the others, outside of its network, remained untrammelled. In touching all sensitive chords, it affected only those of a small minority incapable of self-defence; with the majority, able to protect itself, the main sensibilities were respected, especially the most sensitive, this one or that one, as the case might be, now the conscience which binds man to his religion, now that amour-propre on which honor depends, and now the habits which make man cling to customs, hereditary usages and outward observances. As far as the others were concerned, those which relate to property, personal welfare, and social position, it proceeded cautiously and with moderation. In this way the discretion of the ruler lessened the resistance of the subject, and a daring enterprise, even when mischievous, was not outrageous; it might be carried out; nothing was required but a force in hand equal to the resistance it provoked.
Again, on the other hand, the tyrant possessed this force. Very many and very strong arms stood behind the prince ready to coöperate with him and countervail any resistance. Behind Philip II. or Louis XIV. stood the Catholic majority, either exciting or consenting to the oppression of dissenters, as fanatical or as illiberal as their king. To aid and coöperate with Philip II., Louis XIV., Frederick II. and Peter the Great, stood the entire nation, equally violent, rallied around the sovereign through his consecrated title and uncontested right, through tradition and custom, through a rigid sentiment of duty and the vague idea of public security. Peter the Great counted among his auxiliaries every eminent and cultivated man in the country; Cromwell had his disciplined and twenty-times victorious army; the caliph or sultan brought along with him his military and privileged population. Aided by cohorts of this stamp, it was easy to raise a heavy mass, and even maintain it in a fixed position. Once the operation was concluded, there followed a sort of equilibrium; the mass, kept in the air by a permanent counterbalance, only required a little daily effort to prevent it from falling.
Just the reverse with the measures of the Jacobins. According as these are carried out, their theory, more exacting, adds extra weight to the uplifted mass, and, finally, a burden of almost infinite weight. At first, the Jacobin confined his attacks to royalty, to nobility, to the Church, to parliaments, to privileges, to ecclesiastical and feudal possessions, in short, to mediaeval foundations; now, he attacks yet more ancient and more solid foundations—positive religion, property and the family. For four years he has contented himself with demolition; he now aims at reconstruction; his object is not merely to do away with a positive faith and suppress social inequality, to proscribe revealed dogmas, hereditary beliefs, an established cult, the supremacy of rank and superiority of fortunes, wealth, leisure, refinement and elegance, but, in addition to all this, he must refashion the citizen, create new sentiments, impose natural religion on the individual, civic education, uniform ways and habits, Jacobin conduct, Spartan virtue; in short, nothing is to be left in a human being that is not prescribed, enforced, and constrained. Henceforth, there is opposed to the Revolution, not alone the partisans of the ancient régime—priests, nobles, parliamentarians, royalists, and Catholics—but, again, every man imbued with European civilisation, every member of a regular family, any possessor of capital much or little; every kind or degree of proprietor, agriculturist, manufacturer, merchant, artisan, or farmer, even most of the revolutionists who, nearly all, count on themselves escaping the constraints they impose, and who like the straight-jacket only when it is on another’s back. The pressure of resistant wills at this moment becomes incalculable. It would be easier to raise a mountain, while, just at this moment, the Jacobins have deprived themselves of every moral force through which a political engineer acts on human wills.
Unlike Philip II. and Louis XIV. they are not supported by the intolerance of a vast majority, for, instead of fifteen or twenty orthodox against one heretic, they count in their church scarcely more than one orthodox against fifteen or twenty heretics.17 They have not at their back, like legitimate sovereigns, the stubborn loyalty of an entire population, following in the steps of its chieftain through the prestige of hereditary right and through habits of ancient fealty. On the contrary, their reign is only a day old and they themselves are interlopers, at first installed by a coup d’état and afterwards by the semblance of an election, having extorted or obtained by trick the suffrages through which they act, so familiar with fraud and violence that, in their own Assembly, the minority which succeeds has seized and held on to power by violence and fraud, putting down the majority by riots, and the departments by force of arms; while, to give to their brutalities the semblance of right, they improvise two pompous demonstrations, first, the sudden manufacture of a paper constitution, which moulders away in their archives, and next, the scandalous farce of a hollow and compulsory plebiscite. A dozen leaders of the faction centre unlimited authority in themselves; but, as admitted by them, their authority is derivative; it is the Convention which makes them its delegates; their precarious title has to be renewed monthly; a turn of the majority may sweep them and their work away tomorrow; an insurrection of the people, whom they have familiarised with insurrection, may tomorrow sweep them away, their work and their majority. They maintain only a disputed, limited and transient ascendency over their adherents. They are not military chieftains like Cromwell and Napoleon, generals of an army obeyed without a murmur, but common stump-speakers at the mercy of an audience that sits in judgment on them. There is no discipline in this audience: every Jacobin remains independent by virtue of his principles; if he accepts leaders, it is with a reservation of their worth to him; selecting them as he pleases, he is free to change them when he pleases; his trust in them is intermittent, his loyalty provisional, and, as his adhesion depends on a mere preference, he always reserves the right to discard the favorite of today as he has discarded the favorite of yesterday. In this audience, there is no such thing as subordination; the lowest demagogue, any subaltern brawler, a Hébert or Jacques Roux, who is ambitious to step out of the ranks, outvies the charlatans in office in order to obtain their places. Even with a complete and lasting ascendency over an organised band of docile supporters, the Jacobin leaders would be feeble for lack of reliable and competent instruments; for they have but very few partisans other than those of doubtful probity and of notorious incapacity. Cromwell had around him, to carry out the puritan programme, the moral élite of the nation, an army of rigorists, with narrow consciences, but much more strict towards themselves than towards others, men who never drank and who never swore, who never indulged for a moment in sensuality or idleness, who forbade themselves every act of omission or commission about which they held any scruples, the most honest, the most temperate, the most laborious, and the most persevering of mankind,18 the only ones capable of laying the foundations of that practical morality on which England and the United States still subsist at the present day. Around Peter the Great, in carrying out his European programme, stood the intellectual élite of the country, an imported staff of men of ability associated with natives of moderate ability, every well-taught resident foreigner and indigenous Russian, the only ones able to organise schools and public institutions, to set up a vast central and regular system of administration, to assign rank according to service and merit, in short, to erect on the snow and mud of a shapeless barbarism a conservatory of civilisation which, transplanted like an exotic tree, grows and gradually becomes acclimated. Around Couthon, Saint-Just, Billaud, Collot, and Robespierre, with the exception of certain men devoted, not to Utopianism but to the country, and who, like Carnot, conform to the system in order to save France, there are but a few sectarians to carry out the Jacobin programme, men so short-sighted as not to clearly comprehend its fallacies, or sufficiently fanatical to accept its horrors, a lot of social outcasts and self-constituted statesmen, infatuated through incommensurate faculties with the parts they play, unsound in mind and superficially educated, wholly incompetent, boundless in ambition, with perverted, callous or deadened consciences, deluded by sophistry, cold-blooded through vain glory and vicious through crime, impunity and success.
Thus, whilst other despots raise a moderate weight, calling around them either the majority or the flower of the nation, employing the best strength of the country and lengthening their lever as much as possible, the Jacobins attempt to raise an incalculable weight, repel the majority as well as the flower of the nation, discard the best strength of the country, and shorten their lever to the utmost. They hold on only to the shorter end, the rough, clumsy, iron-bound, creaking, and grinding extremity, that is to say, to physical force, the means for physical constraint, the heavy hand of the gendarme on the shoulder of the suspect, the jailor’s bolts and keys turned on the prisoner, the club used by the sans-culottes on the back of the bourgeois to quicken his pace, and, better still, the Septembriseur’s pike thrust into the aristocrat’s belly, and the blade falling on the neck held fast in the clutches of the guillotine. Such, henceforth, is the only machinery they possess for governing the country, for they have deprived themselves of all other. Their engine has to be exhibited, for it works only on condition that its bloody image be stamped indelibly on every body’s imagination; if the negro monarch or the pacha desires to see heads bowing as he passes along, he must be escorted by executioners. They must abuse their engine because fear, losing its effect through habit, needs example to keep it alive; the negro monarch or the pacha who would keep the fear alive by which he rules, must be stimulated every day; he must slaughter too many to be sure of slaughtering enough; he must slaughter constantly, in heaps, indiscriminately, haphazard, no matter for what offence, on the slightest suspicion, the innocent along with the guilty. He and his are lost the moment they cease to obey this rule. Every Jacobin, like every African monarch or pacha, must observe it that he may be and remain at the head of his band. For this reason, the chiefs of the sect, its natural leaders designated beforehand, consist of theorists able to grasp its principles, and logicians able to arrive at its conclusions, narrow-minded enough not to see that their undertaking exceeds their powers and all human powers, shrewd enough to see that brutal force is their only instrumentality, inhuman enough to apply it unscrupulously and without reserve, and perverted enough to murder on all sides that they may stamp an impression of lasting terror.
[1. ]This and the following text are taken from the “Contrat-Social” by Rousseau. Cf. “The Ancient Régime,” book iii., ch. iv.
[2. ]This idea, so universally prevalent and precocious, is uttered by Mirabeau in the session of the 10th of August, 1789. (Buchez et Roux, ii., 257.) “I know of but three ways of maintaining one’s existence in society, and these are to be either a beggar, a robber, or a hireling. The proprietor is himself only the first of hirelings. What we commonly call his property is nothing more than the pay society awards him for distributing amongst others that which is entrusted to him to distribute through his expenses and through what he consumes; proprietors are the agents, the stewards of the social body.”
[3. ]Report by Roland, January 6, 1793, and by Cambon, February 1, 1793.
[4. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxi., 311. Report by Saint-Just, Ventose 8, year II., and decree in conformity therewith.
[5. ]Decree of 13 Brumaire, year II.—Report by Cambon, Feb. 1, 1793. Cambon estimates the property alone of the order of Malta and of the colleges at four hundred million livres.
[6. ]Moniteur, xviii., 419 and 486. Reports by Cambon, 1 Frimaire and Brumaire 22, year II. “Let us begin with taking possession of the leased domains, notwithstanding preceding laws.”
[7. ]Cf. “The Ancient Régime,” p. 14.
[8. ]Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” ii., 19. Moniteur, xviii., 565. (Report by Cambon, 11 Frimaire, year II.) Requested to do so by a popular club of Toulouse, the department of Haute-Garonne has ordered all possessors of articles in gold or silver to bring them to the treasuries of their districts to be exchanged for assignats. This order has thus far brought into the Toulouse treasury about one million five hundred thousand or one million six hundred thousand livres in gold and silver. The same at Montauban and other places. “Several of our colleagues have even decreed the death penalty against whoever did not bring their gold and silver within a given time.”
[9. ]Moniteur, xviii., 320. (Session of Brumaire 11, year II.), the words of Barère, reporter of the law.
[10. ]Archives Nationales, AF.II., 106. (Orders by representative Beauchamp, l’Isle Jourdain, Pluviose 2, year II.) “All blue and green cloaks in the departments of Haute-Garonne, as well as of the Landes, Gers, and others, are put in requisition from the present day. Every citizen possessing blue or green cloaks is required to declare them at the depot of the municipality or other locality where he may chance to be.” Simon, “suspect” is treated as such. Ibid., AF.II., 92. (Order issued by Taillefer, Brumaire 3, year II., at Villefranche-l’Aveyron.)—De Martel, “Etude sur Fouché,” 368. (Order by Fouché, Collot d’ Herbois and Delaporte: Lyons, Brumaire 21, year II.) Moniteur, xv., 384. (Session of 19th Brumaire. Letter of Barras and Fréron, dated at Marseilles.)—Moniteur, xviii., 513. (Orders by Lebon and Saint-Just, at Strasbourg, Brumaire 24 and 25, year II.) Letter of Isoré to the minister Bouchotte, November 4, 1793. (Legros, “La Revolution telle qu’elle est.”) The principle of these measures was laid down by Robespierre in his speech on property (April 24, 1793), and in his declaration of rights unanimously adopted by the Jacobin Club (Buchez et Roux, xxvi., 93 and 130).
[11. ]Rousset, “Les Volontaires,” p. 234 and 254.
[12. ]Report by Cambon, Pluviose 3, year III., p. 3. “One-fifth of the active population is employed in the common defence.”—Decrees of May 12 and Aug. 23, 1793.—Decree of November 22, 1793.—Order of the Directory, October 18, 1798.
[13. ]Moniteur, xix., 631. Decree of Ventose 14, year II. Archives Nationales, D.SI., 10. (Orders by representatives Delacroix, Louchet, and Legendre; Pont-Audemer, Frimaire 14, year II.) Moniteur, xviii., 622.—(Decree of Frimaire 18, year II.)
[14. ]Decree of 15—Floréal 18, year II. Decree of September 29, 1793, (in which forty objects of prime necessity are enumerated).—Article 9 decrees three days imprisonment against workmen and manufacturers who “without legitimate reason, shall refuse to do their ordinary task.”—Decrees of September 16 and 20, 1793, and that of September 11, articles 16, 19, 20, and 21.
[15. ]Archives Nationales, AF.II., iii. Order of the representative Ferry; Bourges, 23 Messidor, year II. Ibid., AF.II., 106. Order of the representative Dartigoyte, Auch, Prairial 18, year II.
[16. ]Decree of Brumaire 11, year II., article 7.
[17. ]Gouvion Saint Cyr, “Mémoires sur les campagnes de 1792 à la paix de Campo-For mio,” i., 91–109. “Promotion, which every one feared at this time.” … Ibid., 229. “Men who had any resources obstinately held aloof from any kind of advancement.” Archives Nationales, D. SI., 5. Mission of representative Albert in L’Aube and La Marne, and especially the order issued by Albert, Chalons, Germinal 7, year III., with the numerous petitions of judges and town officers soliciting their removal.—Letter of the painter Gosse (published in Le Temps, May 31, 1872), which is very curious, showing the trials of those in private life during the Revolution. “My father was appointed charity commissioner and quartermaster for the troops; at the time of the Reign of Terror it would have been imprudent to have refused any office.”—Archives Nationales, F7, 3,485. The case of Girard Toussaint, notary at Paris, who “fell under the sword of the law, Thermidor 9, year II.” This Girard, who was very liberal early in the revolution, was president of his section in 1789, but, after the 10th of August, he had kept quiet. The committee of the section of the “Amis de la Patrie,” “considering that citizen Girard … came forward only at the time when the court and Lafayette prevailed against the sans-culottes”; that, “since equality was established by the Revolution he has deprived his fellow citizens of his knowledge, which, in a revolution, is criminal, unanimously agree that the said citizen is “suspect” and order “him to be sent to the Luxembourg.”
[18. ]Ludovic Sciout, “Histoire de la Constitution civile du clergé,” iv., 131, 135, (orders issued by Dartigoyte and de Pinet).—“Recueil de pieces authentiques serrant à l’histoire de la révolution à Strasbourg,” vol. i., p. 230. (Speech by Schneider at Barr, for marrying the patriot Funck.) Schneider, it appears, did still better on his own account. (Ibid., 317).
[19. ]Buchez et Roux, xxix., 160. (Report of Saint-Just, October 20, 1793.) “You have to punish not only traitors, but even the indifferent; you must punish all in the Republic who are passive and do nothing for it.”
[20. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 338. Report of the Convention on the theory of democratic government, by Billaud-Varennes (April 20, 1794).
[21. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxi., 270. Report by Robespierre, on the principles which should guide the National Convention in the internal administration of the Republic, February 5, 1794.—Cf. “The Ancient Régime,” 227–230, the ideas of Rousseau, of which those of Robespierre are simply a recast.
[22. ]Ibid., 270. The pretension of reforming men’s sentiments is found in all the programmes. Ibid., 305. (Report of Saint-Just, February 26, 1794.) “Our object is to create an order of things such as a universal tendency toward the good establishes, and to have factions immediately hurled upon the scaffold.”—Ibid., 337. (Report of Saint-Just, March 13, 1794.) “We see but one way of arresting the evil, and that is to convert the revolution into a civil power and wage war on every species of perversity, as designedly created amongst us for the enervation of the republic.”
[23. ]Ibid., xxxv., 276. (Institutions, by Saint-Just.—Ibid., 287.)—Moniteur, xviii., 343. Meeting of the Jacobin Club, Brumaire 13, year II., speech by Baudot.
[24. ]Buchez et Roux, xxix., 142. (Speech by Jean Bon St. André in the Convention, Sep. 25, 1793.) “We are said to exercise arbitrary power, we are charged with being despots. We, despots! … Ah, no doubt, if despotism is to secure the triumph of liberty, such a despotism is political regeneration.” (Applause.) Ibid., xxxi., 276. (Report by Robespierre, Pluviose 17, year II.) “It has been said that terror is the mainspring of despotic government. Does yours, then, resemble despotism? Yes, as the sword which flashes in the hands of the heroes of liberty resembles that with which the satellites of tyranny are armed. … The government of the Revolution is the despotism of freedom against tyranny.”
[25. ]Ibid., xxxii, 253. Decree of April, 1791. “The Convention declares, that, supported by the virtues of the French people, it will insure the triumph of the democratic revolution and show no pity in punishing its enemies.”
[26. ]The bombast and credulity of the day, in this portrayal of the ancient régime, overflows in the most extravagant exaggeration. (Buchez et Roux, xxxi., 300, Report, by Saint-Just, February 26, 1794.) “In 1788, Louis XVI. caused eight thousand persons of both sexes and of every age to be sacrificed in the rue Meslay and on the Pont-Neuf. These scenes were repeated by the court on the Champs de Mars; the court had hangings in the prisons, and the bodies of the drowned found in the Seine were its victims. There were four hundred thousand prisoners in confinement; fifteen thousand smugglers were hung in a year, and three thousand men were broken on the wheel; there were more prisoners in Paris than there are now. … Look at Europe. There are four millions of people shut up in Europe whose shrieks are never heard.”—Ibid., xxiv., 132. (Speech by Robespierre, May 10, 1793). “Up to this time the art of governing has simply consisted in the art of stripping and subduing the masses for the benefit of the few, and legislation, the mode of reducing these outrages to a system.”
[27. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 353. (Report by Robespierre to the Convention, May 7, 1794.) “Nature tells us that man is born for freedom while the experience of man for centuries shows him a slave. His rights are written in his heart and history records his humiliation.”
[28. ]Ibid., 372. “Priests are to morality what charlatans are to medical practice. How different is the God of nature from the God of the priests! I know of nothing which is so much like atheism as the religions they have manufactured!” Already, in the Constituent Assembly, Robespierre wanted to prevent the father from endowing a child. “You have done nothing for liberty if your laws do not tend to diminish by mild and efficacious means the inequality of fortunes.” (Hamel, i., 403.)
[29. ]Decree of Frimaire 18, year II. Note the restrictions. “The Convention, in the foregoing arrangement, has no idea of derogating from any law or precaution for public safety against refractory or turbulent priests, or against those who might attempt to abuse the pretext of religion in order to compromise the cause of liberty. Nor does it mean to disapprove of what has thus far been done by virtue of the ordinances of the representatives of the people, nor to furnish anybody with a pretext for unsettling patriotism and relaxing the energy of public spirit.”
[30. ]Decrees of May 27 and August 26, 1792, March 18, April 20, and October 20, 1793, April 11, and May 11, 1794.—Add (Moniteur, xix., 697) the decree providing for the confiscation of the possessions of ecclesiastics “who have voluntarily left or been so reported, who are retired as old or infirm, or who have preferred transportation to retirement.”—Ibid., xviii., 492, (session of Frimaire 2). A speech by Forester. “As to the priesthood, its continuation has become a disgrace and even a crime.”—Archives Nationales, AF. II., 36. (An order by Lequinio, representative of the people in Charante-Inférieur, la Vendée and Deux-Sévres, Saintes, Nivose 1, year ii.) “In order that freedom of worship may exist in full plenitude it is forbidden to all whom it may concern to preach or write in favor of any form of worship or religious opinion whatsoever,” and especially “it is expressly forbidden to any former minister, belonging to any religious sect whatever, to preach, write, or teach morality under penalty of being regarded as a suspect and, as such, immediately put under arrest. … Every man who undertakes to preach any religious precepts whatsoever is, by that fact, culpable before the people. He violates … social equality, which does not permit the individual to publicly raise his ideal pretensions above those of his neighbor.”
[31. ]Ludovic Sciout, “Histoire de la Constitution Civile du clergé,” vols. iii. and iv., passim.—Jules Sauzay, “Histoire de la persécution révolutionaire dans le Doubs,” vols. iii., iv., v., and vi., particularly the list, at the end of the work, of those transported, guillotined, sent into the interior and imprisoned.
[32. ]Order of the day of the Convention September 17, 1792; circular of the Executive Council, January 22, 1793; decrees of the Convention, July 19, August 12, September 17, November 15, 1793.—Ludovic Sciout, iii., ch. xv., and the following chapters; iv., chapters i. to vii.—Moniteur, October and November, 1793, passim. (November 23, Order of the Paris Commune, closing the churches.)—In relation to the terror the constitutional priests were under, I merely give the two following extracts (Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167); “Citizen Pontard, bishop of the department of Dordogne, lodging in the house of citizen Bourbon, No. 66 Faubourg St. Honoré, on being informed that there was an article in a newspaper called “le Republicain” stating that a meeting of priests had been held in the said house, declares that he had no knowledge of it; that all the officers in charge of the apartments are in harmony with the Revolution; that, if he had had occasion to suspect such a circumstance, he would have moved out immediately, and that if any motive can possibly be detected in such a report it is his proposed marriage with the niece of citizen Caminade, an excellent patriot and captain of the 9th company of the Champs-Elysées section, a marriage which puts an end to fanaticism in his department, unless this be done by the ordination of a priest à la sans-culotte which he had done yesterday in the chapel, another act in harmony with the Revolution. It is well to add, perhaps, that one of his curés now in Paris has called on him, and that he came to request him to second his marriage. The name of the said curé is Greffier Sauvage; he is still in Paris, and is preparing to be married the same time as himself. Aside from these motives, which may have given rise to some talk, citizen Pontard sees no cause whatever for suspicion. Besides, so thoroughly patriotic is he, he asks nothing better than to know the truth, in order to march along unhesitatingly in the revolutionary path. He signs his declaration, promising to support the Revolution on all occasions, by his writings as well as by his conduct. He presents the two numbers of his journal which he has had printed in Paris in support of the principles he adheres to. At Paris, September 7, 1793, year II. of the Republic, one and indivisible. F. Pontard, bishop of the Republic in the department of Dordogne.”—Dauban La Demagogie en 1793, p. 557. Arrest of representative Osselin, letter of his brother, curé of St. Aubin, to the committee of section Mutius Scaevola, Brumaire 20, year II., “Like Brutus and Mutius Scaevola, I trample on the feelings with which I idolised my brother! O, truth, thou divinity of republicans, thou knowest the incorruptibility of my intentions!” (and so on for fifty-three lines). “These are my sentiments. I am fraternally, Osselin, minister of worship at St. Aubin.”—P.S. “It was just as I was going to answer a call of nature that I learned this afflicting news.” (He keeps up this fustian until words fail him, and finally, frightened to death, and his brain exhausted, he gives this postscript to show that he was not an accomplice.)
[33. ]A term denoting the substitution of ten instead of seven days as a division of time in the calendar, and forced into use during the Revolution.
[34. ]“Recueil de pieces authentiques servant à l’histoire de la revolution à Strasbourg,” ii., 299. (A district order.)
[35. ]Ludovic Sciout, iv., 426. (Instructions sent by the Directory to the National Commissions, Frimaire, year II.)—Ibid., ch. x. to xviii.
[36. ]Ibid., iv., 688. An order of the Directory, Germinal 14, year VI. “The municipal governments will designate special days in each decade for market days in their respective districts, and not allow, in any case, their ordinance to be set aside on the plea that the said market days would fall on a holiday. They will specially strive to break up all connection between the sales of fish and the days of fasting designated on the old calendar. Every person exposing food or wares on sale in the markets on days other than those fixed by the municipal government will be prosecuted in the police court for obstructing a public thoroughfare.”—The Thermidorians remain equally as anti-Catholic as their predecessors; only, they disavow open persecution and rely on slow pressure. (Moniteur, xiii., 523. Speech by Boissy d’Anglas, Ventose 3, year II.) “Superintend what you cannot hinder; regulate what you cannot prohibit. … It will not be long before these absurd dogmas, the offspring of fear and error, whose influence on the human mind has been so steadily destructive, will be known only to be despised. … It will not be long before the religion of Socrates, of Marcus Aurelius and Cicero will be the religion of the whole world.”
[37. ]Moniteur, xiv., 646. (The King’s trial.) Speech by Robespierre: “The right of punishing the tyrant and of dethroning him is one and the same thing.”—Speech by Saint-Just: “Royalty is an eternal crime, against which every man has the right of taking up arms. … To reign innocently is impossible!”
[38. ]Epigraph of Marat’s journal: Ut redeat miseris, abeat fortuna superbis.
[39. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 323. (Report of Saint-Just, Germinal 21, year II., and a decree of Germinal 26–29, Art. 4, 13, 15.)—Ibid., 315.
[40. ]Buchez et Roux, xxix., 166. (Report of Saint-Just, October 10, 1793.) “That would be the only good they could do their country. … It would be no more than just for the people to reign over its oppressors in its turn, and that their pride should be bathed in the sweat of their brows.”
[41. ]Ibid., xxxi., 309. (Report of Saint-Just, Ventose 8, year II.)
[42. ]Ibid., xxvi., 435. (Speech by Robespierre on the Constitution, May 10, 1793.) “What were our usages and pretended laws other than a code of impertinence and baseness, where contempt of men was subject to a sort of tariff, and graduated according to regulations as odd as they were numerous? To despise and be despised, to cringe in order to rule, slaves and tyrants in turn, now kneeling before a master, now trampling the people under foot—such was the ambition of all of us, so long as we were men of birth or well-educated men, whether common folks or fashionable folks, lawyers or financiers, pettifoggers or wearing swords.”—Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167. (Report of the observateur Charmont, Nivose 10, year II.)—“Boileau’s effigy, placed in the college of Lisieux, has been lowered to the statues of the saints, the latter being taken out of their niches. There is now no kind of distinction. Saints and authors are of the same class.”
[43. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxv., 296. (“Institutions” by Saint-Just.) Meillan, “Mémoires,” p. 17. Anne Plumptre, “A narrative of three years’ residence in France, from 1802 to 1805,” ii., 96. At Marseilles: “The two great crimes charged on those who were doomed to destruction, were here as elsewhere, wealth and aristocracy. … It had been decreed by the Terrorists that no person could have occasion for more than two hundred livres a year, and that no income should be permitted to exceed that sum.”
[44. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 4,437. (Address of the people’s club of Clavisson (Gard), Messidor 7, year II.) “The Bourgeoisie, the merchants, the large land-owners have all the pretension of ex-nobles. The law provides no means for opening the eyes of the common people in relation to these new tyrants. The club desires that the revolutionary Tribunal should be empowered to condemn this proud class of individuals to a prompt partial confinement. The people would then see that they had committed a misdemeanor and would withdraw that sort of respect in which they hold them.” A note in the hand-writing of Couthon: “Left to the decision of popular commissions.”
[45. ]Gouverneur Morris, in a letter of January 4, 1796, says that French capitalists have been financially ruined by assignats, and physically by the guillotine.—Buchez et Roux, xxx., 26. (Notes written by Robespierre in June, 1793.) “Internal dangers come from the bourgeois … who are our enemies? The vicious and the rich.”
[46. ]Narrative by M. Silvestre de Sacy (May 23, 1873): His father owned a farm bringing in four thousand francs per annum; the farmer offered him four thousand francs in assignats or a hog; M. de Sacy took the hog.
[47. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxi., 441. (Report by Cambon on the institution of the grand livre of the public debt, August 15, 1793.)
[48. ]Ibid., xxxi., 311. Report by Saint-Just, February 26, 1794, and decree in accordance therewith, unanimously adopted. See, in particular, article 2.—Moniteur, 12 Ventose, year II. (meeting of the Jacobin club, speech by Collot d’Herbois). “The Convention has declared that prisoners must prove that they were patriots from the 1st of May, 1789. When the patriots and enemies of the Revolution shall be fully known, then the property of the former shall be inviolable and held sacred, while that of the latter will be confiscated for the benefit of the republic.”
[49. ]Buchez et Roux, xxvi., 1455. (Session of the Jacobin Club, May 10, 1793, speech by Robespierre.)—Ibid., xxxi. (Report by Saint-Just, Feb. 26, 1794.) “He who has shown himself an enemy of his country cannot be one of its proprietors. Only he has patrimonial rights who has helped to free it.”
[50. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxi., 93 and 130. (Speech by Robespierre on property, and the declaration of rights adopted by the Jacobin club.) Decree of Septem. 3, 1794 (articles 13 and 48).
[51. ]Moniteur, xxii., 719. (Report by Cambon, Frimaire 6, year III.) At Bordeaux Raba was condemned to a fine of one million two hundred thousand francs, Péchotte to five hundred thousand, Martin-Martin to three hundred thousand.—Cf. Rodolphe Reuss, “Séligmann Alexandre, ou les Tribulations d’ un Israélite de Strasbourg.”
[52. ]Ibid., xviii., 486. (Report by Cambon, Frimaire 1, year II.) “The egotists who, some time ago, found it difficult to pay for the national domains they had acquired from the Republic, even in assignats, now bring us their gold. … Collectors of the revenue who had buried their gold have come and offered to pay what they owe the nation in ingots of gold and silver. These have been refused, the Assembly having decreed the confiscation of these objects.”
[53. ]Decree of Brumaire 23, year II. On taxes and confiscations in the provinces see M. de Martel, “Etude sur Fouché et Pieces authentiques servant à l’histoire de la revolution à Strasbourg.” And further on the details of this operation at Troyes.—Meillan, 90: “At Bordeaux, merchants were heavily taxed, not on account of their incivisme, but on account of their wealth.”
[54. ]Decree of March 7–11, 1793.
[55. ]Moniteur, xviii., 274, decrees of Brumaire 4, and ibid., 305, decree of Brumaire 9, year II., establishing equal partition of inheritances with retroactive effect to July 14, 1789. Adulterous bastards are excepted. The reporter of the bill, Cambacèrés, laments this regretable exception.
[56. ]Rights of inheritance allowed to the descendants of a deceased person who never enjoyed these rights, but who might have enjoyed them had he been living when they fell to him.—Tr.
[57. ]Fenet, “Travaux du Code civil.” (Report by Cambacèrés on the Code civil, August 9, 1793). The framer of the bill makes excuses for not having deprived the father of all the disposable portion. “The committee believed that such a clause would seriously violate our customs without being of any benefit to society or of any moral advantage. We assured ourselves, moreover, that there should always be a division of property.” With respect to donations: “It is repugnant to all ideas of beneficence to allow donations to the rich. Nature is averse to the making of such gifts so long as our eyes dwell on misery and misfortune. These affecting considerations have determined us to fix a point, a sort of maximum, which prohibits gifts on the part of those who have reached that point.”
[58. ]Moniteur, xii., 730, (June 22, 1792) speech by Lamarque.—But this principle is encountered everywhere. “Equality, indeed, (is) the final aim of social art.” (Condorcet, “Tableau des progrès de l’esprit humain,” ii., 59.—“We desired,” writes Baudot, “to apply to politics the equality which the Gospel awards to Christians.” (Quinet, “Revolution Française,” ii., 407.)
[59. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxv., 296. (The words of Saint-Just.)—Moniteur, xviii., 505. (Ordinance of the Paris Commune, Frimaire 3. year II.), “Wealth and Poverty must alike disappear under the régime of equality.”
[60. ]Buchez et Rouz, xxxv., 296. (“Institutions,” by Saint-Just.) “A man is not made for trades, nor for a hospital, nor for an asylum; all this is frightful.”—Ibid., xxxi., 312. (Report of Saint-Just, Ventose 8, year II.) “Let Europe see that you will not allow a miserable man on French territory! … Happiness is a new idea in Europe.”
[61. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxv., 296. (“Institutions,” by Saint-Just.)
[62. ]Moniteur, xx., 444. (Report by Barère, Floréal 22, year II.) “Mendicity is incompatible with popular government.”
[63. ]Ibid., xix., 568. (Report by Saint-Just, Ventose, year II.)
[64. ]Ibid. Report by Barère, Floréal 22.
[65. ]Ibid., xix., 568. (Report by Saint-Just, Ventose 8, and decree of Ventose 13.) “The Committee of Public Safety will report on the means of indemnifying the unfortunate with property belonging to the enemies of the Revolution.”
[66. ]Ibid. xix., 484. (Report by Barère, Ventose 21, year II.)—Ibid., xx., 445. (Report by Barère, Floréal 22, year II.)—Decrees on public assistance, June 28, 1793, July 25, 1793, Frimaire 2, and Floréal 22, year II.—This principle, moreover, was set forth in the Constitution of 1793. “Public help is a sacred obligation; society owes a subsistence to unfortunate citizens, whether by providing work for them, or by ensuring the means of existence to those who are not in a condition to work.”—Archives Nationales, AF.II., 39. The character of this measure is very clearly expressed in the following circular of the Committee of Public Safety to its representatives on mission in the departments, Ventose, year II. “A summary act was necessary to put the aristocracy down. The national Convention has struck the blow. Virtuous indigence was to recover property of which the usurpations of crime had deprived it. The national Convention has proclaimed its rights. A general list of all prisoners should be sent to the Committee of General Security, charged with deciding on their fate. The Committee of Public Safety will receive the statement of the indigent in each commune so as to regulate what is due to them. Both these proceedings demand the utmost despatch and should go together. It is necessary that terror and justice be brought to bear on all points at once. The Revolution is the work of the people and it is time they should have the benefit of it.”
[67. ]Moniteur, xx., 449. (Report by Barère, Floréal 22, year II.)
[68. ]Decree of April 2–5, 1793.
[69. ]Moniteur, xviii., 505. (Orders of Fouché and Collot d’Herbois, dated at Lyons and communicated to the commune of Paris, Frimaire 3, year II.)—De Martel, “Etude sur Fouché,” 132. Orders of Fouché on his mission in the Nievre, Sept. 19, 1793. “There shall be established in each district town a Committee of Philanthropy, authorised to levy on the rich a tax proportionate to the number of the indigent.”
[70. ]Decree of April 2–5, 1793. “There shall be organised in each large commune a guard of citizens selected from the least fortunate. These citizens shall be armed and paid at the expense of the Republic.”
[71. ]Moniteur, xx., 449. (Report of Barère, Floréal 22, year II.)
[72. ]Ibid., xix., 689. (Report by Saint-Just, Ventose 23, year II.) “We spoke of happiness. It is not the happiness of Persepolis we have offered to you. It is that of Sparta or Athens in their best days, the happiness of virtue, that of comfort and moderation, the happiness which springs from the enjoyment of the necessary without the superfluous, the luxury of a cabin and of a field fertilised by your own hands. A cart, a thatched roof affording shelter from the frosts, a family safe from the lubricity of a robber—such is happiness!”
[73. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxi., 402. (Constitution of 1793.)
[74. ]Ibid., xxxv., 310. (“Institutions,” by Saint-Just.)
[75. ]Ibid., xxvi., 93 and 131. (Speech by Robespierre on property, April 24, 1793, and declaration of rights adopted by the Jacobin Club.)—Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” i., 401. (Address of a deputation from Gard.) “Material wealth is no more the special property of any one member of the social body than base metal stamped as a circulating medium.”
[76. ]Moniteur, viii., 452. (Speech by Hébert in the Jacobin Club, Brumaire 26, year II.) “Un Séjour en France de 1792 à 1795,” p. 218. (Amiens, Oct. 4, 1794.) “While waiting this morning at a shop door I overheard a beggar bargaining for a slice of pumpkin. Unable to agree on the price with the woman who kept the shop, he pronounced her ‘gaugrened with aristocracy.’ ‘I defy you to prove it!’ she replied. But, as she spoke, she turned pale and added, ‘Your civism is beyond all question—but take your pumpkin.’ ‘Ah,’ returned the beggar, ‘what a good republican!’ ”
[77. ]Ibid., xviii., 320. (Meeting of Brumaire 11, year II. Report by Barère.)—Meillan, 17. Already, before the 31st May: “The tribune resounded with charges against monopoly, every man being a monopolist who was not reduced to living on daily wages or on alms.”
[78. ]Decrees of July 26, 1793, Sept. 11 and 29; Brumaire 11, and Ventose 6, year II.
[79. ]Moniteur, xviii., 359. “Brumaire 16, year II. Sentence of death of Pierre Gourdier, thirty-six years of age, stock-broker, resident in Paris, rue Bellefond, convicted of having monopolised and concealed in his house a large quantity of bread, in order to breed scarcity in the midst of abundance.” He had gastritis and could eat nothing but panada made with toast, and the baker who furnished this gave him thirty pieces at a time (Wallon, ii., 155).
[80. ]Journal of the debates of the Jacobin Club, No. 532, Brumaire 20, year II. (Plan of citizen Dupré, presented in the Convention by a deputation of the Arcis Club.)—Dauban, “Paris en 1794,” p. 483 (a project similar to the former, presented to the Committee of Public Safety by the Jacobin Club of Montereau, Thermidor, year II.)
[81. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxv., 272. (“Institutions,” by Saint-Just.)
[82. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxi., 273. (Report by Robespierre, Pluviose 17, year II.)
[83. ]Moniteur, xix., 653. (Report by Barère, Ventose 21, year II.) “You should detect and combat federalism in all your institutions, as your natural enemy. … A grand central establishment for all the work of the Republic is an efficacious means against federalism.”—Buchez et Roux, xxxi., 351, and xxxii., 316. (Report by Saint-Just, Ventose 23, and Germinal 26, year II.) “Immorality is a federalism in the civil state. … Civil federalism, by isolating all parts of the state, has dried up abundance.”
[84. ]Decree of Germinal 26–29, year II. “Financial companies are and hereby remain suppressed. All bankers, commission merchants, and other persons, are forbidden to form any establishment of this order under any pretext or under any denomination.”
[85. ]“Mémoires de Carnot,” i., 278. (Report by Carnot.) “That is not family life. If there are local privileges there will soon be individual privileges and local aristocracy will bring along in its train the aristocracy of inhabitants.”
[86. ]Moniteur, xix., 683. (Report by Barère, Ventose 21, year II.) This report should be read in full to comprehend the communistic and centralising spirit of the Jacobins.
[87. ]Feret, “Travaux du Code civil,” 105. (Reports by Cambacèrés, August 9, 1793, and Septem. 9, 1794.)—Decrees of September 20, 1793, and Floréal 4, year II. (on Divorce.)—Cf. “Institutions,” by Saint-Just. (Buchez et Roux, xxxv., 302.) “A man and woman who love each other are married; if they have no children they may keep their relationship secret.”
[88. ]This article of the Jacobin programme, like the others, has its practical result.—“At Paris, in the twenty-seven months after the promulgation of the law of September, 1792, the courts granted five thousand nine hundred and ninety-four divorces, and in year VI. the number of divorces exceeded the marriages.” (Glasson, “Le Mariage Civil et le Divorce,” p. 51).—“The number of foundlings which, in 1790, in France, did not exceed twenty-three thousand, is now (year X.) more than sixty-three thousand. (“Statistique de la Sarthe,” by Auvray, préfet, year X.).—In Lot-et-Garonne (“Statistique,” by Pieyre, préfet, year X.), more than fifteen hundred foundlings are counted: “this extraordinary number increased during the Revolution through the too easy admission of foundlings into the asylums, through the temporary sojourning of soldiers in their homes, through the disturbance of every moral and religious principle.”—“It is not rare to find children of thirteen and fourteen talking and acting in a way that would have formerly disgraced a young man of twenty.” (Moselle, “Analyse,” by Ferrière).—“The children of workmen are idle and insubordinate; some indulge in the most shameful conduct against their parents”; others try stealing and use the coarsest language.” (Meurthe, “Statistique,” by Marquis, préfet.)—Cf. Anne Plumptre (A narrative of three years residence in France, from 1802 to 1805, i., 46). “You would not believe it, madame, said a gardener to her at Nismes, that during the Revolution we dared not scold our children for their faults. Those who called themselves patriots regarded it as against the fundamental principles of liberty to correct children. This made them so unruly that, very often, when a parent presumed to scold its child the latter would tell him to mind his business, adding, ‘we are free and equal, the Republic is our only father and mother; if you are not satisfied, I am. Go where you like it better.’ Children are still saucy. It will take a good many years to bring them back to minding.”
[89. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 364. (Report by Robespierre, Floréal 8, year II.)—At Bayeux, the young girl who represented Liberty, had the following inscription on her breast or back: “Do not make me an instrument of licentiousness.” (Gustave Flaubert, family souvenirs.)
[90. ]Ibid., 385. (Address of a Jacobin deputation to the Convention, Floréal 27, year II.)
[91. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxi., 415. (Report by Fabre d’Eglantine. October 6, 1793.)—(Grégoire, “Mémoires,” i., 341.) “The new calendar was invented by Romme in order to get rid of Sunday. That was his object; he admitted it to me.”
[92. ]Ibid., xxxii., 274. (Report by Robespierre, Floréal 18, year II.) “National Festivals form an essential part of public education. … A system of national festivals is the most powerful means of regeneration.”
[93. ]Ibid., xxviii., 335. Marat’s heart, placed on a table in the Cordéliers Club, was an object of religious reverence.—(Grégoire, “Mémoires,” i., 341.) “In some schools the pupils were obliged to make the sign of the cross at the names of Marat, Lazowski, etc.”
[94. ]De Martel, “Étude sur Fouché,” 137. Fête at Nevers, on the inauguration of a bust of Brutus.—Ibid., 222, civic festival at Nevers in honor of valor and morals.—Dauban, “Paris en 1704.” Programme of the fête of the Supreme Being at Sceaux.
[95. ]An expression by Rabaut Saint-Etienne.
[96. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 373. (Report by Robespierre, Floréal 15, year II.)—Danton had expressed precisely the same opinion, supported by the same arguments, at the meeting of Frimaire 22, year II. (Moniteur, xviii., 654.) “Children first belong to the Republic before belonging to their parents. Who will assure me that these children, inspired by parental egoism, will not become dangerous to the Republic? What do we care for the ideas of an individual alongside of national ideas? … Who among us does not know the danger of this constant isolation? It is in the national schools that the child must suck republican milk! … The Republic is one and indivisible. Public instruction must likewise relate to this centre of unity.”
[97. ]Decree of Vendémiaire 30 and Brumaire 7, year II.—Cf. Sauzay, vi., 252, on the application of this decree in the provinces.
[98. ]Albert Duruy, “L’Instruction publique et la Revolution,” 164 to 172 (extracts from various republican spelling-books and catechisms).—Decree of Frimaire 29, year II., section i., art. 1, 83; section ii., art. 2; section iii., arts. 6 and 9.
[99. ]Moniteur, xviii., 653. (Meeting of Frimaire 22, speech by Bouquier, reporter.)
[100. ]Moniteur, xviii., 351–359. (Meeting of Brumaire 15, year II., report by Chénier.) “You have made laws—create habits. … You can apply to the public instruction of the nation the same course that Rousseau follows in ‘Emile.’ ”
[101. ]The words of Bouquier, reporter. (Meeting of Frimaire 22, year II.)
[102. ]Bouchez et Roux, xxiv., 57. (Plan by Lepelletier St. Fargeau, read by Robespierre at the Convention, July 13, 1793.)—Ibid., 35. (Draft of a decree by the same hand.)
[103. ]Ibid., xxxv., 229. (“Institutions,” by Saint-Just.)
[104. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxi., 261. (Meeting of Nivose 17.) On the committee presenting the final draft of the decrees on public instruction the Convention adopts the following article: “All boys who, on leaving the primary schools of instruction, do not devote themselves to tillage, will be obliged to learn some science, art or occupation useful to society. Otherwise, on reaching twenty, they will be deprived of citizens’ rights for ten years, and the same penalty will be laid on their father, mother, tutor or guardian.”
[105. ]Decree of Prairial 13, year II.
[106. ]Langlois, “Souvenirs de l’ Ecole de Mars.”
[107. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 355. (Report by Robespierre, Floréal 18, year II.)
[108. ]Moniteur, xviii., 326. (Meeting of the Commune, Brumaire 11, year II.) The commissary announces that, at Fontainebleau and other places, “he has established the system of equality in the prisons and places of confinement, where the rich and the poor partake of the same food.”—Ibid., 210. (Meeting of the Jacobins, Vendémiaire 29, year II. Speech by Laplanche on his mission to Gers.) “Priests had every comfort in their secluded retreats; the sans-culottes in the prisons slept on straw. The former provided me with mattresses for the latter.”—Ibid., xviii., 445. (Meeting of the Convention, Brumaire 26, year II.) “The Convention decrees that the food of persons kept in places of confinement shall be simple and the same for all, the rich paying for the poor.”
[109. ]Archives Nationales. (AF.II., 37, order of Lequinio, Saintes, Nivose 1, year II.) “Citizens generally in all communes, are requested to celebrate the day of the decade by a fraternal banquet which, served without luxury or display … will render the man bowed down with fatigue insensible to his forlorn condition; which will fill the soul of the poor and unfortunate with the sentiment of social equality and raise man up to the full sense of his dignity; which will suppress with the rich man the slightest feeling of pride and extinguish in the public functionary all germs of haughtiness and aristocracy.”
[110. ]Archives Nationales, AF.II., ii., 48 (Act of Floréal 25, year II.) “The Committee of Public Safety request David, representative of the people, to present his views and plans in relation to modifying the present national costume, so as to render it appropriate to republican habits and the character of the Revolution.”—Ibid., (Act of Prairial 5, year II.) for engraving and coloring twenty thousand impressions of the design for a civil uniform, and six thousand impressions of the three designs for a military, judicial, and legislative uniform.
[111. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxi., 271. (Report by Robespierre, Pluviose 1, year II.) “This sublime principle supposes a preference for public interests over all private interests; from which it follows that the love of country supposes again, or produces, all the virtues.” “As the essence of a republic or of democracy is equality, it follows that love of country necessarily comprises a love of equality.” “The soul of the Republic is virtue, equality.”—Lavalette, “Mémoires,” i., 254. (Narrated by Madame Lavalette.) She was compelled to attend public festivals, and, every month, the patriotic processions. “I was rudely treated by my associates, the low women of the quarter; the daughter of an emigré, of a marquis, or of an imprisoned mother, ought not to be allowed the honor of their company; … it was all wrong that she was not made an apprentice. … Hortense de Beauharnais was apprenticed to her mother’s seamstress, while Eugene was put with a carpenter in the Faubourg St. Germain.” The prevailing dogmatism has a singular effect with simple-minded people. (Archives Nationales, AF. II., 135, petition of Ursule Riesler, servant to citizen Estreich and arrested along with him, addressed to Garnerin, agent of the Committee of Public Safety. She begs citizen Garnerin to interest himself in obtaining her freedom. She will devote her life to praying to the Supreme Being for him, since he will redeem her life. He is to furnish her, moreover, with the means for espousing a future husband, a genuine republican, by whom she is pregnant, and who would not allow her to entertain any idea of fanatical capers.
[1. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 354. (Speech by Robespierre in the Convention, Floréal 18, year II.) “Sparta gleams like a flash of lightning amidst profoundest darkness.”
[2. ]Milos taken by the Athenians; Thebes, after Alexander’s victory; Corinth, after its capture by the Romans.—In the Peloponnesian war, the Plateans, who surrender at discretion, are put to death. Nicias is murdered in cold blood after his defeat in Sicily. The prisoners at Aegos-Potamos have their thumbs cut off.
[3. ]Fustel de Coulanges: “La Cité Antique,” ch. xvii.
[4. ]Plato, “The Apology of Socrates.” See also in the “Crito” Socrates’ reasons for not eluding the penalty imposed on him. The antique conception of the State is here clearly set forth.
[5. ]Cf. the code of Manu, the Zendavesta, the Pentateuch, and the Tcheou-Li. In this last code (Biot’s translation), will be found the perfection of the system, particularly in vol. i., 241, 247, ii., 393, iii., 9, 11, 21, 52. “Every district chief, on the twelfth day of the first moon, assembles together the men of his district and reads to them the table of rules; he examines their virtue, their conduct, their progress in the right path, and in their knowledge, and encourages them; he investigates their errors, their failings and prevents them from doing evil. … Superintendents of marriages see that young people marry at the prescribed age.” The reduction of man to a State automaton is plain enough in the institution of “Overseer of Gags …” “At all grand hunts, at all gatherings of troops, he orders the application of gags. In these cases gags are put in the soldiers’ mouths; they then fulfill their duties without tumult or shoutings.”
[6. ]These two words have no exact equivalents in Greek or Latin. Conscientia, dignitas, honos denote different shades of meaning. This difference is most appreciable in the combination of the two modern terms delicate conscience, scrupulous conscience, and the phrase of stake one’s honor on this or that, make it a point of honor, the laws of honor, etc. The technical terms in antique morality, beautiful, virtuous, sovereign good, indicate ideas of another stamp and origin.
[7. ]Montaigne, “Essais,” book i., ch. 42. “Observe in the provinces far from the court, in Brittany for example, the retinue, the subjects, the duties, the ceremony, of a seignior living alone by himself, brought up among his dependents, and likewise observe the flights of his imagination than which nothing is more royal; he may allude to his superior once a year, as if he were the King of Persia. … The burden of sovereignty scarcely affects the French gentilhomme twice in his life, who cares only to nestle at his own hearthstone and who knows how to rule his household without dispute or trial; he is as free as the Duke of Venice.”
[8. ]“Mémoires de Chateaubriand,” vol. i. (“Les Soirées au Chateau de Cambourg.”)
[9. ]In China, the moral principle is just the opposite. The Chinese, amidst obstacles and embarrassments, always enjoin siao-sin, which means, “abate thy affections.” (Huc, “L’Empire Chinoise,” i., 204.)
[10. ]In the United States the moral order of things reposes chiefly on puritan ideas; nevertheless deep traces of feudal conceptions are found there; for instance, the general deference for women which is quite chivalric there, and even excessive.
[11. ]Observe, from this point of view, in the woman of modern times the preservatives of female virtue. The sentiment of duty is the first safeguard of modesty, but this has a much more powerful auxiliary in the sentiment of honor, or deep innate pride.
[12. ]The moral standard varies, but according to a fixed law, the same as a mathematical function. Each community has its own moral elements, organisation, history, and surroundings, and necessarily its peculiar conditions of vitality. When the queen bee in a hive is chosen and impregnated this condition involves the massacre of useless male and female rivals (Darwin). In China, it consists of paternal authority, literary education, and ritual observances. In the antique city, it consisted of the omnipotence of the State, gymnastic education, and slavery. In each century, and in each country, these vital conditions are expressed by more or less hereditary passwords which set forth or interdict this or that class of actions. When the individual feels the inward challenge he is conscious of obligation; when he does not respond he experiences remorse: the moral conflict consists in the struggle within himself between the universal password and personal desire. In our European society the vital condition, and thus the general countersign, is self-respect, coupled with respect for others (including women and children). This countersign, new in history, has a singular advantage over all preceding ones: each individual being respected, each can develop himself according to his nature; he can accordingly invent in every sense, bring forth every sort of production, and be useful to himself and others in every way, thus enabling society to develop indefinitely.
[13. ]When the function to be performed is of an uncertain or mixed character the following rule may be applied in deciding whether the State or individuals shall be entrusted with it; also, in determining, in the case of coöperation, what portion of it shall be assigned to individuals and what portion to the State. As a general rule, when individuals, either singly or associated together, have a direct interest in, or are drawn toward, a special function, and the community has no direct interest therein, the matter belongs to individuals and not to the State. On the other hand, if the interest of the community in any function is direct, and indirect for individuals singly or associated together, it is proper for the State and not for individuals to take hold of it. According to this rule the limits of the public and private domain can be defined, which limits, as they change backward and forward, may be verified according to the changes which take place in interests and preferences, direct or indirect.
[14. ]Carlyle: “Cromwell’s Speeches and Letters,” iii., 418. (Cromwell’s address to the Parliament, September 17, 1656.)
[15. ]Seeley, “Life and Times of Stein,” ii., 143.—Macaulay, “Biographical Essays,” Frederick the Great, 33, 35, 87, 92.
[16. ]Eugene Schuyler, “Peter the Great,” vol. 2.
[17. ]Cf. “The Revolution” vol. ii., pp. 46 and 323, and vol. iii., ch. 1. Archives des Affaires Etrangèrés, vol. 332. (Letter by Thiberge, Marseilles, Brumaire 14, year II.) “I have been to Marteygne, a small town ten leagues from Marseilles, along with my colleague Fournet; I found (je trouvée) seventeen patriots in a town of five thousand population.”—Ibid. (Letter by Regulus Leclerc, Bergues, Brumaire 15, year II.) At Bergues, he says, “the municipality is composed of traders with empty stores, and brewers without beer since the law of the maximum.” Consequently there is universal lukewarmness, “only forty persons being found to form a popular club, holding sessions as a favor every five days. … Public spirit at Bergues is dead; fanaticism rules.”—Archives Nationales, F7, 7,164 (Department of Var, reports of year V. “general idea.”)—“At Draguignan, out of seven thousand souls, forty patriots, exclusifs, despised or dishonest; at Vidauban, nine or ten exclusifs, favored by the municipality and who live freely without their means being known; at Brignolles, frequent robberies on the road by robbers said to have been very patriotic in the beginning of the Revolution: people are afraid of them and dare not name them; at Fréjus, nine leading exclusifs who pass all their time in the café.”—Berryat-Saint-Prix, “La Justice Révolutionnaire,” p. 146.—Brutus Thierry, grocer, member of the Rev. Com. of Angers, said that “in Angers, there were not sixty revolutionists.”
[18. ]Macaulay. “History of England,” i., 152. “The Royalists themselves confessed that, in every department of honest industry, the discarded warriors prospered beyond other men, that none was charged with any theft or robbery, that none was heard to ask an alms, and that, if a baker, a mason, or a waggoner attracted notice by his diligence and sobriety, he was in all probability one of Oliver’s old soldiers.”