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CHAPTER III - 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 Rulers (continued)— I.The administrative body at Paris—Composition of the group out of which it was recruited—Deterioration of this group—Weeding-out of the Section Assemblies—Weeding-out of the popular clubs—Pressure of the government—II.Quality of the subaltern leaders—How they rule in the section assemblies—How they seize and hold office—III.A Minister of Foreign Affairs—A General in command—The Paris Commune—A Revolutionary Committee—IV.The administrative staff in the provinces—Jacobinism less in the departmental towns than in Paris—Less in the country than in the towns—The Revolutionary Committees in the small communes—Municipal bodies lukewarm in the villages—Jacobins too numerous in bourgs and small towns—Unreliable or hampered as agents when belonging to the administrative bodies of large or moderate-sized towns—Local rulers recruited on the spot inadequate—V.Importation of a foreign staff—Paris Jacobins sent into the provinces—Jacobins of enthusiastic towns transported to moderate ones—The Jacobins of a chef-lieu spread through the district—Resistance of public opinion—Distribution and small number of really Jacobin agents—VI.Quality of the staff thus formed—Social state of the agents—Their unfitness and bad conduct—The administrators in Seine-et-Marne—Drunkenness and feastings—Committees and Municipalities in the Côte d’Or—Waste and extortions—Traffickers in favors at Bordeaux—Seal-breakers at Lyons—Monopolisers of national possessions—Sales of personal property—Embezzlements and Frauds—A procès-verbal in the office of the mayor of Strasbourg—Sales of real-estate—Commissioners on declarations at Toulouse—The administrative staff and clubs of buyers in Provence—The Revolutionary Committee of Nantes—VII.The Armed Force—National Guard and Gendarmerie—Its composition and operations—The Revolutionary Armies in Paris and in the departments—Quality of the recruits—Their employment—Their expeditions into the country towns—Their exploits in the vicinity of Paris and Lyons—The company of Maratists, the American Hussars and the German Legion at Nantes—General character of the Revolutionary government and of the administrative staff of the Reign of Terror.
To provide these local sovereigns with the subordinate lieutenants and agents which they require,we have the local Jacobin population, and we know how this is recruited1 —outcasts, the infatuated and perverted of every class and degree, especially the lowest, envious and rancorous dependents, small shopkeepers in debt, strolling and dissipated work-men, coffee-house and bar-room idlers, vagrants, tramps, abject prostitutes—in short, every species of “antisocial vermin,” male and female,2 including a few honest crack-brains into which the fashionable theory had freely found its way; the rest, and by far the largest number, are veritable beasts of prey, speculating on the established order of things and adopting the revolutionary faith only because it provides food for their appetites. In Paris, they number five or six thousand, and, after Thermidor, there is about the same number, the same appetites rallying them around the same dogma,3 levellers and terrorists, “some because they are poor, others because they have ceased working at their trade,” infuriate “against the porte-cochère scoundrels, the rich holders of objects of prime necessity,” many “having taken a hand in the Revolution, and ready to do it again provided the rich rascals, monopolists, and merchants can all be killed,” all “frequenters of popular clubs who think themselves philosophers, although most of them are unable to read,” at the head of them the remnant of the most notorious political bandits, the famous post-master, Drouet, who, in the tribune at the Convention, declared himself a “brigand,”4 Javogues, the robber of Montbrison and the “Nero of Ain,”5 the sot Casset, formerly a silk-hand and afterwards the pacha of Thionville, Bertrand, the friend of Charlier, the ex-mayor and executioner of Lyons, Darthé, ex-secretary of Lebon and the executioner at Arras, Rossignol and nine other Septembriseurs of the Abbaye and the Carmelites, and, finally, the great apostle of despotic communism, Baboeuf, who, sentenced to twenty years in irons for the falsification of public contracts, and as needy as he is vicious, rambles about Paris airing his disappointed ambitions and empty pockets along with the swaggering crew who, if not striving to reach the throne by a new massacre,6 tramp through the streets slipshod, for lack of money “to redeem a pair of boots at the shoemakers,” or to sell some snuff-box, their last resource, for a morning dram.7 In this class we see the governing rabble fully and distinctly. Separated from its forced adherents and the official automatons who serve it as they would any other power, it stands out pure and unalloyed by any neutral afflux; we recognise here the permanent residue, the deep, settled slime of the social sewer. It is to this sink of vice and ignorance that the revolutionary government betakes itself for its staff-officers and its administrative bodies.
Nowhere else could they be found. For the daily task imposed upon them, and which must be done by them, is robbery and murder; excepting the pure fanatics, who are few in number, only brutes and blackguards have the aptitudes and tastes for such business. In Paris, as in the provinces, it is from the clubs or popular associations in which they congregate, that they are sought for. Each section of Paris contains one of these clubs, in all forty-eight, rallied around the central club in the Rue St. Honoré, forty-eight district alliances of professional rioters and brawlers, the rebels and blackguards of the social army, all the men and women incapable of devoting themselves to a regular life and useful labor,8 especially those who, on the 31st of May and 2d of June, had aided the Commune and the “Mountain” in violating the Convention. They recognise each other by this sign that, “each would be hung in case of a counter-revolution,”9 laying it down “as an incontestable fact that, should a single aristocrat be spared, all of them would mount the scaffold.”10 They are naturally wary and they cling together: in their clique “every thing is done on the basis of good fellowship;”11 no one is admitted except on the condition of having proved his qualifications “on the 10th of August and 31st of May.”12 And, as they have made their way into the Commune and into the revolutionary committees behind victorious leaders, they are able, through the certificates of civism which these arbitrarily grant or refuse, to exclude, not only from political life but, again, from civil life, whoever is not of their coterie. “See,” writes one of Danton’s correspondents,13 “the sort of persons who easily obtain these certificates, the Ronsins, the Jourdans, the Maillards, the Vincents, all bankrupts, keepers of gambling-hells, and cut-throats. Ask these individuals whether they have paid the patriotic contribution, whether they regularly pay the usual taxes, whether they give to the poor of their sections, to the volunteer soldiers, etc.; whether they mount guard or see it regularly done, whether they have made a loyal declaration for the forced loan. You will find that they have not. … The Commune issues certificates of civism to its satellites and refuses them to the best citizens.” The monopoly is obvious; they make no attempt to conceal it; six weeks later,14 it becomes official: “several revolutionary committees decide not to grant certificates of civism to citizens who are not members of a popular club.” And strict exclusion goes on increasing from month to month. Old certificates are cancelled and new ones imposed, which new certificates have new formalities added to them, a larger number of endorsers being required and certain kinds of guarantees being rejected; there is greater strictness in relation to the requisite securities and qualifications; the candidate is put off until fuller information can be obtained about him; he is rejected at the slightest suspicion:15 he is only too fortunate if he is tolerated in the Republic as a passive subject, if he is content to be taxed and taxed when they please, and if he is not sent to join the “suspects” in prison; whoever does not belong to the band does not belong to the community.
Amongst themselves and in their popular club it is worse, for “the eagerness to get any office leads to every one denouncing each other”;16 consequently, at the Jacobin club in the rue St. Honoré, and in the branch clubs of the quarter, there is constant weeding-out, and always in the same sense, until the faction is purged of all honest or passable alloy and only a minority remains, which has its own way at every balloting. One of them announces that, in his club, eighty doubtful members have already been got rid of; another that, in his club, one hundred are going to be excluded.17 On Ventose 23, in the “Bon-Conseil” club, most of the members examined are rejected: “they are so strict that a man who cannot show that he acted energetically in critical times, cannot form part of the assembly; he is set aside for a mere trifle.” On Ventose 13, in the same club, “out of twenty-six examined, seven only are admitted; one citizen, a tobacco dealer, aged sixty-eight, who has always performed his duty, is rejected for having called the president Monsieur, and for having spoken in the tribune bareheaded; two members, after this, insisted on his being a Moderate, which is enough to keep him out.” Those who remain, consist of the most restless and most loquacious, the most eager for office, the self-mutilated club being thus reduced to a knot of charlatans and rogues.
To these spontaneous eliminations through which the club deteriorates, add the constant pressure through which the Committee of Public Safety frightens and degrades it. The lower the revolutionary government sinks, and the more it concentrates its power, the more servile and sanguinary do its agents and employees become. It strikes right and left as a warning; it imprisons or decapitates the turbulent among its own clients, the secondary demagogues who are impatient at not being principal demagogues, the bold who think of striking a fresh blow in the streets, Jacques Roux, Vincent, Momoro, Hébert, leaders of the Cordeliers club and of the Commune; after these, the indulgent who are disposed to exercise some discernment or moderation in terrorism, Camille Desmoulins, Danton and their adherents; and lastly, many others who are more or less doubtful, compromised or compromising, wearied or eccentric, from Maillard to Chaumette, from Antonelle to Chabot, from Westermann to Clootz. Each of the proscribed has a gang of followers, and suddenly the whole gang are obliged to be turncoats; those who are able to lead, flag, while those who can feel pity, become hardened. Henceforth, amongst the subaltern Jacobins, the roots of independence, humanity, and loyalty, hard to extirpate even in an ignoble and cruel nature, are eradicated even to the last fibre, the revolutionary staff, already so debased, becoming more and more degraded, until it is worthy of the office assigned to it. The confidants of Hébert, those who listen to Chaumette, the comrades of Westermann, the officers of Ronsin, the faithful readers of Camille, the admirers and devotees of Danton, all are bound to publicly repudiate their incarcerated friend or leader and approve of the decree which sends him to the scaffold, to applaud his calumniators, to overwhelm him on trial: this or that judge or juryman, who is one of Danton’s partisans, is obliged to stifle a defence of him, and, knowing him to be innocent, pronounce him guilty; one who had often dined with Desmoulins is not only to guillotine him, but, in addition to this, to guillotine his young widow. Moreover, in the revolutionary committees, at the Commune, in the offices of the Committee of General Safety, in the bureau of the Central Police, at the headquarters of the armed force, at the revolutionary Tribunal, the service to which they are restricted becomes daily more onerous and more repulsive. To denounce neighbors, to arrest colleagues, to go and seize innocent persons, known to be such, in their beds, to select in the prisons the thirty or forty unfortunates who form the daily food of the guillotine, to “amalgamate” them haphazard, to try them and condemn them in a lot, to escort octogenarian women and girls of sixteen to the scaffold, even under the knife-blade, to see heads dropping and bodies swinging, to contrive means for getting rid of a multitude of corpses, and for removing the too-visible stains of blood—of what species do the beings consist, who can accept such a task, and perform it day after day, with the prospect of doing it indefinitely? Fouquier-Tinville himself succumbs. One evening, on his way to the Committee of Public Safety, “he feels unwell” on the Pont-Neuf and exclaims: “I think I see the ghosts of the dead following us, especially those of the patriots I have had guillotined!”18 And at another time: “I would rather plough the ground than be public prosecutor. If I could, I would resign.” The government, as the system becomes aggravated, is forced to descend lower still that it may find suitable instruments; it finds them now only in the lowest depths; in Germinal, to renew the Commune, in Floréal, to renew the ministries, in Prairial, to recompose the revolutionary Tribunal, month after month, purging and reconstituting the committees of each quarter19 of the city. In vain does Robespierre, writing and rewriting his secret lists, try to find men able to maintain the system; he always falls back on the same names, those of unknown persons, illiterate, about a hundred knaves or fools with four or five second-class despots or fanatics among them, as malevolent and as narrow as himself. The purifying crucible has been long and too often used; it has been overheated; what was sound, or nearly so, in the elements of the primitive fluid has been forcibly evaporated; the rest has fermented and become acid; nothing remains in the bottom of the vessel but the lees of stupidity and wickedness, their concentrated and corrosive dregs.
Such are the subordinate sovereigns20 who, for fourteen months in Paris, dispose of fortunes, liberties, and lives as they please. And first, in the section assemblies, which still maintain a semblance of popular sovereignty, they rule despotically and uncontested. “A dozen or fifteen men wearing a red cap,21 well-informed or not, claim the exclusive right of speaking and acting, and if any other citizen with honest motives happens to propose measures which he thinks proper, and which really are so, no attention is paid to these measures, or, if it is, it is only to show the members composing the assemblage of how little account they are. These measures are accordingly rejected, solely because they are not presented by one of the men in a red cap, or by somebody like themselves, initiated in the mysteries of the section.” “Sometimes,” says one of the leaders,22 “we find only ten of the club at the general assembly of the section; but there are enough of us to intimidate the rest. Should any citizen of the section make a proposition we do not like, we rise and shout that he is an intriguer, or a signer (of former constitutional petitions). In this way we impose silence on those who are not in unison with the club.” The operation is all the easier inasmuch as since September, 1793, the majority, composed of beasts of burden, mind the lash. “When something has to be effected that depends on intrigue or on private interest,23 the motion is always put by one of the members of the revolutionary committee of the section, or by one of those fanatical patriots who join in with the committee, and commonly act as its spies. Immediately the ignorant men, to whom Danton has allowed forty sous for each meeting, and who, since that time, flock to the assembly in crowds, where they never came before, welcome the proposition with loud applause, calling for a vote, and the act is passed unanimously, notwithstanding the contrary opinions of all well-informed and honest citizens. Should any one dare make an objection, he would run the risk of imprisonment as a ‘suspect,’24 after being treated as an aristocrat or federalist, or at least, refused a certificate of civism, if he had the misfortune to need one, did his subsistence depend on this, either as employee or pensioner.” In the Maison-Commune section, most of the auditory are masons, “excellent patriots,” says one of the clubbists of the quarter:25 “they always vote on our side; we make them do what we want.” Numbers of day-laborers, cab-drivers, cartmen and workmen of every class, thus earn their forty sous, and have no idea of other demands being made on them. On entering the hall, when the meeting opens, they write down their names, after which they go out “to take a drink,” without thinking themselves obliged to listen to the rigmarole of the orators; towards the end, they come back, make all the noise that is required of them with their lungs, feet and hands, and then go and “take back their card and get their money.”26 With paid applauders of this stamp, they soon get the better of any opponents, or, rather, all opposition is suppressed beforehand. “The best citizens keep silent” in the section assemblies, or “stay away”; these are simply “gambling-shops” where “the most absurd, the most unjust, the most impolitic of resolutions are passed at every moment.27 Moreover, citizens are ruined there by the unlimited sectional expenditure, which exceeds the usual taxation and the communal expenses, already very heavy. At one time, some carpenter or locksmith, member of the Revolutionary Committee, wants to construct, enlarge or decorate a hall, and it is necessary to agree with him. Again, a poor speech is made, full of exaggeration and political extravagance, of which three, four, five, and six thousand impressions are ordered to be printed. Then, to cap the climax, following the example of the Commune, no accounts are rendered, or, if this is done for form’s sake, no fault must be found with them, under penalty of suspicion, etc.” Proprietors and distributors of civism, the twelve leaders have only to agree amongst themselves to share the profits, each according to his appetite; henceforth, cupidity and vanity are free to sacrifice the common weal, under cover of the common interest. The provender is enormous and the summons to it comes from above. “I am very glad,” says Henriot, in one of his orders of the day,28 “to announce to my brethren in arms that all the offices are at the disposal of the government. The actual government, which is revolutionary, whose intentions are pure, and which merely desires the happiness of all, … goes to garrets for virtuous men, … poor and genuine sans-culottes,” and it has the wherewithal to satisfy them—thirty-five thousand places of public employment in the capital alone:29 it is a rich mine; already, before the month of May, 1793, “the Jacobin club boasted of having placed nine thousand agents in the administration,”30 and since the 2d of June, “virtuous men, poor, genuine sans-culottes,” arrive in crowds from “their garrets,” dens and hired rooms, each to grab his share. Setting aside the old offices in the War, Navy, and Public-Works departments, in the Treasury and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which they besiege, and where they install themselves by hundreds and rule, where they constantly denounce all the able employees who stay there, and make vacancies in order to fill them,31 there are twenty new administrative departments which they keep for themselves: commissioners of the first confiscation of national property, commissioners of national property arising from emigrants and the convicted, commissioners of conscripted carriage-horses, commissioners on clothing, commissioners on the collecting and manufacturing of saltpetre, commissioners on monopolies, civil-commissioners in each of the forty-eight sections, commissioners on propagandism in the departments, commissioners on subsistences, and many others; fifteen hundred places are counted in the single department of subsistence in Paris,32 and all are salaried. Here, already, are a number of desirable offices. Some are for the lowest rabble, two hundred, at twenty sous a day, paid to “stump-speakers,” employed to direct opinion in the Palais-Royal, also among the Tuileries groups, as well as in the tribunes of the Convention and of the Hôtel-de-Ville;33 two hundred more at four hundred francs per annum, to waiters in coffee-houses, gambling-saloons, and hotels, for watching foreigners and customers; hundreds of places at two, three, and five francs a day with meals, for the guardians of seals, and for garrisoning the domiciles of “suspects”; thousands, with premiums, pay, and full license, for brigands who, under Ronsin, compose the revolutionary army, and for the gunners, paid guard, and gendarmes of Henriot. The principal posts, however, are those which subject lives and liberties to the discretion of those who occupy them: for, through this more than regal power, they possess all other power, and such is that of the men composing the forty-eight revolutionary committees, the bureaux of the Committee of General Security and of the Commune, and the staff-officers of the armed force. They are the prime-movers and active mainsprings of the system of Terror, all picked Jacobins and tested by repeated selection, all designated or approved by the Central Club, which claims for itself the monopoly of patriotism, and which, erected into a supreme council of the sect, issues no patent of orthodoxy except to its own instruments.34
They immediately assume the tone and arrogance of dictatorship. “Pride has reached the highest point”:35 “One who, yesterday, had nothing to do, and was amiable and honest, has become haughty and insolent because, deceived by appearances, his fellow-citizens have elected him commissioner, or given him some employment or other.” Henceforth, he demeans himself like an aga amongst infidels, and, in command, carries things with a high hand. On the 20th of Vendémiaire, year II., “in the middle of the night,” the committee of the Piques section summons M. Bélanger, the architect. He is notified that his house is wanted immediately for a new bastille. “But, said he, ‘I own no other, and it is occupied by several tenants; it is decorated with models of art, and is fit only for that purpose.’ ‘Your house or a prison.’ ‘But I shall be obliged to indemnify my tenants.’ ‘Either your house or a prison; as to indemnities, we have vacant lodgings for your tenants, as well as for yourself, in La Force, or St. Pelagie.’ Twelve sentinels on the post start off at once and take possession of the premises; the owner is allowed six hours to move out and is forbidden, henceforth, to return; the bureaux, to which he appeals, interpret his obedience as ‘tacit adhesion,’ and, very soon, he himself is locked up.”36 Administrative tools that cut so sharply need the greatest care, and, from time to time, they are carefully oiled:37 on the 20th of July, 1793, two thousand francs are given to each of the forty-eight committees, and eight thousand francs to General Henriot, “for expenses in watching antirevolutionary manoeuvres”; on the 7th of August, fifty thousand francs “to indemnify the less successful members of the forty-eight committees”; three hundred thousand francs to Gen. Henriot “for thwarting conspiracies and securing the triumph of liberty”; fifty thousand francs to the mayor, “for detecting the plots of the malevolent”; on the 10th of September, forty thousand francs to the mayor, president and procureur-syndic of the department, “for measures of security”; on the 13th of September, three hundred thousand francs to the mayor “for preventing the attempts of the malevolent”; on the 15th of November, one hundred thousand francs to the popular clubs, “because these are essential to the propagation of sound principles.” Moreover, besides gratuities and a fixed salary, there are the gratifications and perquisites belonging to the office.38 Henriot appoints his comrades on the staff of paid spies and denunciators, and, naturally, they take advantage of their position to fill their pockets; under the pretext of incivism, they multiply domiciliary visits, make the master of the house ransom himself, or steal what suits them on the premises.39 In the Commune, and on the revolutionary committees, every extortion can be, and is, practiced. “I am acquainted,” says Quevremont, “with two citizens who have been put in prison, without being told why, and, at the end of three weeks or a month, let out—and do you know how? By paying, one of them, fifteen thousand livres, and the other, twenty-five thousand. … Gambron, at La Force, pays one thousand five hundred livres a month not to live amongst lice, and besides this, he had to pay a bribe of two thousand livres on entering. This happened to many others who, again, dared not speak of it, except in a whisper.”40 Woe to the imprudent who, never concerning themselves with public affairs, and relying on their innocence, discard the officious broker and fail to pay up at once! Brichard, the notary, having refused or tendered too late, the hundred thousand crowns demanded of him, is to put his head “at the red window.” And I omit ordinary rapine, the vast field open to extortion through innumerable inventories, sequestrations and adjudications, through the enormities of contractors, through hastily executed purchases and deliveries, through the waste of two or three millions given weekly by the government to the Commune for supplies for the capital, through the requisitions of grain which give fifteen hundred men of the revolutionary army an opportunity to clean out all the neighboring farms, as far as Corbeil and Meaux, and benefit by this after the fashion of the chauffeurs.41 Considering the parties, as above, who have the places, the anonymous robberies are not surprising. Beboeuf, the falsifier of public contracts, is secretary for subsistences to the Commune; Maillard, the Abbaye Septembriseur, receives eight thousand francs for his direction, in the forty-eight sections, of the ninety-six observers and leaders of public opinion; Chrétien, whose smoking-shop serves as the rendezvous of rowdies, becomes a juryman at eighteen francs a day in the revolutionary Tribunal, and leads his section with uplifted sabre;42 De Sade, professor of crimes, is now the oracle of his quarter, and, in the name of the Piques section, he reads addresses to the Convention.
Let us examine some of these figures closely: the nearer they are to the eye and foremost in position, the more the importance of the duty brings into light the unworthiness of the potentate. There is already one of them, whom we have seen in passing, Buchot, twice noticed by Robespierre under his own hand as “a man of probity, energetic, and capable of fulfilling the most important functions,”43 appointed by the Committee of Public Safety “Commissioner on External Relations,” that is to say, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and kept in this important position for nearly six months. He is a school-master from the Jura,44 recently disembarked from his small town and whose “ignorance, low habits, and stupidity surpass any thing that can be imagined. … The chief clerks have nothing to do with him; he neither sees nor asks for them. He is never found in his office, and when it is indispensable to ask for his signature on any legislative matter, the sole act to which he has reduced his functions, they are compelled to go and force it from him in the Café Hardy, where he usually passes his days.” It must be borne in mind that he is envious and spiteful, avenging himself for his incapacity on those whose competency makes him sensible of his incompetency; he denounces them as Moderates, and, at last, succeeds in having a warrant of arrest issued against his four chief clerks; on the morning of Thermidor 9, with a wicked leer, he himself carries the news to one of them, M. Miot. Unfortunately for him, after Thermidor, he is turned out and M. Miot is put in his place. With diplomatic politeness, the latter calls on his predecessor and “expresses to him the usual compliments.” Buchot, insensible to compliments, immediately thinks of the substantial, and the first thing he asks for is to keep provisionally his apartment in the ministry. On this being granted, he expresses his thanks and tells M. Miot that it was very well to appoint him, but “for myself, it is very disagreeable. I have been obliged to come to Paris and quit my post in the provinces, and now they leave me in the street.” Thereupon, with astounding impudence, he asks the man whom he wished to guillotine to give him a place as ministerial clerk. M. Miot tries to make him understand that for a former minister to descend so low would be improper. Buchot regards such delicacy as strange, and, seeing M. Miot’s embarrassment, he ends by saying: “If you don’t find me fit for a clerk, I shall be content with the place of a servant.” This estimate of himself shows his proper value.
The other, whom we have also met before, and who is already known by his acts,45 general in Paris of the entire armed force, commander-in-chief of one hundred and ten thousand men, is that former servant or under-clerk of the procureur Formey, who, dismissed by his employer for robbery, shut up in Bicêtre, by turns a spy and bully for a travelling show, barrier-clerk, and September butcher, purged the Convention on the 2d of June—in short, the famous Henriot, and now a common soldier and sot. In this latter capacity, spared on the trial of the Hébertists, he is kept as a tool, for the reason, doubtless, that he is narrow, coarse, and manageable, more compromised than anybody else, good for any job, without the slightest chance of becoming independent, unemployed in the army,46 having no prestige with true soldiers, a general for street parade and an interloper and lower than the lowest of the mob; his mansion, his box at the Opera-Comique, his horses, his importance at festivals and reviews, and, above all, his orgies make him perfectly content. Every evening, in full uniform, escorted by his aides-de-camp, he gallops to Choisy-sur-Seine, where, in the domicile of a flatterer named Fauvel, along with some of Robespierre’s confederates or the local demagogues, he revels. They toss off the wines of the Duc de Coigny, smash the glasses, plates and bottles, betake themselves to neighboring dance-rooms and kick up a row, bursting in doors, and breaking benches and chairs to pieces—in short, they have a good time. The next morning, having slept himself sober, he dictates his orders for the day, veritable masterpieces in which the silliness, imbecility, and credulity of a numskull, the sentimentality of the drunkard, the clap-trap of a mountebank, and the tirades of a cheap philosopher form an unique compound, at once sickening and irritating, like the fiery, pungent mixtures of low groggeries, which suit his audience better because they contain the biting, mawkish ingredients that compose the adulterated brandy of the Revolution. He is posted on foreign transactions, and knows what makes the famine: “A lot of bread has been lately found in the privies: the Pitts and Cobourgs and other rascals who want to enslave justice and reason, and assassinate philosophy, must be called to account for this. Headquarters, etc.”47 He has theories on religions and preaches civic modesty to all dissenters: “The ministers and sectaries of every form of worship are requested not to practice any further religious ceremonies outside their temples. Every good sectarian will see the propriety of observing this order. The interior of a temple is large enough for paying one’s homage to the Eternal, who requires no rites that are repulsive to every thinking man. The wise agree that a pure heart is the sublimest homage that Divinity can desire. Headquarters, etc.” He sighs for the universal idyllic state, and invokes the suppression of the armed force: “I beg my fellow-citizens, who are led to the criminal courts out of curiosity, to act as their own police; this is a task which every good citizen should fulfill wherever he happens to be. In a free country, justice should not be secured by pikes and bayonets, but through reason and philosophy. These must maintain a watchful eye over society; these must purify it and proscribe thieves and evil-doers. Each individual must bring his small philosophic portion with him and, with these small portions, compose a rational totality that will enure to the benefit and welfare of all. Oh, for the time when functionaries shall be rare, when the wicked shall be overthrown, when the law shall become the sole functionary in society! Headquarters, etc.” Every morning, he preaches in the same pontifical strain. Imagine the scene—Henriot’s levee at headquarters, and a writing table, with, perhaps, a bottle of brandy on it; on one side of the table, the rascal who, while buckling on his belt or drawing on his boots, softens his husky voice, and, with his nervous twitchings, flounders through his humanitarian homily; on the other side the mute, uneasy secretary, who may probably spell, but who dares not materially change the grotesque phraseology of his master.
The Commune which employs the commanding-general is of about the same alloy, for, in the municipal sword, the blade and hilt, forged together in the Jacobin shop, are composed of the same base metal. Fifty-six, out of eighty-eight members, whose qualifications and occupations are known, are decidedly illiterate, or nearly so, their education being rudimentary, or none at all.48 Some of them are petty clerks, counter-jumpers and common scribblers, one among them being a public writer; others are small shopkeepers, pastry-cooks, mercers, hosiers, fruit-sellers and wine-dealers; others, finally, are simple mechanics or even laborers, carpenters, joiners, cabinet-makers, locksmiths, and especially three tailors, four hair-dressers, two masons, two shoemakers, one cobbler, one gardener, one stone-cutter, one paver, one office-runner, and one domestic. Among the thirty-two who are instructed, one alone has any reputation, Paris, professor at the University and the assistant of Abbé Delille. Only one, Dumetz, an old engineer, steady, moderate, and attending to the supplies, seems a competent and useful workman. The rest, collected from amongst the mass of unknown demagogues, are six art-apprentices or bad painters, six business-agents or ex-lawyers, seven second- or third-rate merchants, one teacher, one surgeon, one unfrocked married priest, all of whom, under the political direction of Mayor Fleuriot-Lescot and Payen, the national agent, bring to the general council no administrative ability, but the faculty for verbal argumentation, along with the requisite amount of talk and scribbling indispensable to a deliberative assembly. And it is curious to see them in session. Toward the end of September, 1793,49 one of the veterans of liberal philosophy and political economy, belonging to the French Academy and ruined by the Revolution, the old Abbé Morellet, needs a certificate of civism, to enable him to obtain payment of the small pension of one thousand francs, which the Constituent Assembly had voted him in recompense for his writings; the Commune, desiring information about this, selects three of its body to enquire into it. Morellet naturally takes the preliminary steps. He first writes “a very humble, very civic note,” to the president of the General Council, Lubin Jr., formerly an art-apprentice who had abandoned art for politics, and is now living with his father a butcher, in the rue St. Honoré; he calls on this authority, and passes through the stall, picking his way amongst the slaughter-house offal; admitted after some delay, he finds his judge in bed, before whom he pleads his cause. He then calls upon Bernard, an ex-priest, “built like an incendiary and ill-looking,” and respectfully bows to the lady of the house, “a tolerably young woman, but very ugly and very dirty.” Finally, he carries his ten or a dozen volumes to the most important of the three examiners, Vialard, “ex-ladies’ hair-dresser”; the latter is almost a colleague, “for,” says he, “I have always liked mechanicians, having presented to the Academy of Sciences a top which I invented myself.” Nobody, however, had seen the petitioner in the streets on the 10th of August, nor on the 2d of September, nor on the 31st of May; how can a certificate of civism be granted after such evidences of lukewarmness? Morellet, not disheartened, awaits the all-powerful hair-dresser at the Hôtel-de-Ville, and accosts him frequently as he passes along. He, “with greater haughtiness and distraction than the most unapproachable Minister of War would show to an infantry lieutenant,” scarcely listens to him and walks on; he goes in and takes his seat, and Morellet, much against his will, has to be present at ten or twelve of these meetings. What strange meetings, to which patriotic deputations, volunteers and amateurs come in turn to declaim and sing; where the president, Lubin, “decorated with his scarf,” shouts the Marseilles Hymn five or six times, “Ca Ira,” and other songs of several stanzas, set to tunes of the Comic Opera, and always “out of time, displaying the voice, airs, and songs of an exquisite Leander. … I really believe that, at the last meeting, he sung alone in this manner three quarters of an hour at different times, the assembly repeating the last line of the verse.” “How odd!” exclaims a common woman alongside of Morellet, “how droll, passing all their time here, singing in that fashion! Is that what they come here for?” Not alone for that: after the circus-parade is over, the ordinary haranguers, and especially the hair-dresser, come and propose measures for murder “in infuriate language and with fiery gesticulation.” Such are the good speakers50 and men for show. The others, who remain silent, and hardly know to write, act and do the rough work. A certain Chalaudon, member of the Commune,51 is one of this order, president of the revolutionary committee of the section of “L’Homme armé,” and probably an excellent man-hunter; for “the government committees assigned to him the duty of watching the right bank of the Seine, and, with extraordinary powers conferred on him, he rules from his back shop one half of Paris. Woe to those he has reason to complain of, those who have withdrawn from, or not given him, their custom! Sovereign of his quarter up to Thermidor 10, his denunciations are death-warrants. Some of the streets, especially that of Grand Chantier, he “depopulates.” And this Marais exterminator is a “cobbler,” a colleague in leather, as well as in the Commune, of Simon the shoemaker, the preceptor and murderer of the young Dauphin.
Still lower down than this admirable municipal body, let us try to imagine, from at least one complete example, the forty-eight revolutionary committees who supply it with hands. There is one of them of which we know all the members, where the governing class, under full headway, can be studied to the life.52 This consists of the nomadic and interloping class which is revolutionary only through its appetites; no theory and no convictions animate it; during the first three years of the Revolution it pays no attention to, or cares for, public matters; if, since the 10th of August, and especially since the 2d of June, it takes any account of these, it is to get a living and gorge itself with plunder. Out of eighteen members, simultaneously or in succession, of the “Bonnet Rouge,” fourteen, before the 10th of August and especially since the 2d of June, are unknown in this quarter, and had taken no part in the Revolution. The most prominent among these are three painters, heraldic, carriage and miniature, evidently ruined and idle on account of the Revolution, a candle-dealer, a vinegar-dealer, a manufacturer of saltpetre, and a locksmith; while of these seven personages, four have additionally enhanced the dignity of their calling by vending tickets for small lotteries, acting as pawnbrokers or as keepers of a biribi53 saloon. Seated along with these are two upper-class domestics, a hack-driver, an ex-gendarme dismissed from the corps, a cobbler on the street corner, a runner on errands who was once a carter’s boy, and another who, two months before this, was a scavenger’s apprentice, the latter penniless and in tatters before he became one of the Committee, and since that, well clad, lodged and furnished; finally, a former dealer in lottery-tickets, himself a counterfeiter by his own admission, and a jail-bird. Four others have been dismissed from their places for dishonesty or swindling, three are known drunkards, two are not even Frenchmen, while the ring-leader, the man of brains of this select company is, as usual, a seedy, used-up lawyer, the ex-notary Pigeot, and expelled from his professional body on account of bankruptcy. He is probably the author of the following speculation: After the month of September, 1793, the Committee, freely arresting whomsoever it pleased in the quarter, and even out of it, makes a haul of “three hundred heads of families” in four months, with whom it fills the old barracks it occupies in the rue de Sèvres. In this confined and unhealthy tenement, more than one hundred and twenty prisoners are huddled together, sometimes ten in one room, two in the same bed, and, for their keeping, they pay three hundred francs a day. As sixty-two francs of this charge are verified, there is of this sum (not counting other extortions or concessions which are not official), two hundred and thirty-eight francs profit daily for these honest contractors. Accordingly, they live freely and have “the most magnificent dinners” in their assembly chamber; the contribution of ten or twelve francs apiece is “nothing” for them. But, in this opulent St. Germain quarter, so many rich and noble men and women form a herd which must be conveniently stalled, so as to be the more easily milked. Consequently, toward the end of March, 1794, the Committee, to increase its business and fill up the pen, hires a large house on the corner of the boulevard possessing a court and a garden, where the high society of the quarter is assigned lodgings of two rooms each, at twelve francs a day, which gives one hundred and fifty thousand livres per annum, and, as the rent is twenty-four hundred francs, the Committee gain one hundred and forty-seven thousand six hundred livres by the operation; we must add to this twenty sorts of profit in money and other matters—taxes on the articles consumed and on supplies of every description, charges on the despatch and receipt of correspondence and other gratuities, such as ransoms and fees. A penned-up herd refuses nothing to its keepers,54 and this one less than any other; for if this herd is plundered it is preserved, its keepers finding it too lucrative to send it to the slaughter-house. During the last six months of Terror, but two out of the one hundred and sixty boarders of the “Bonnet Rouge” Committee are withdrawn from the establishment and handed over to the guillotine. It is only on the 7th and 8th of Thermidor that the Committee of Public Safety, having undertaken to empty the prisons, breaks in upon the precious herd and disturbs the well-laid scheme, so admirably managed. It was only too well-managed, for it excited jealousy; three months after Thermidor, the “Bonnet Rouge” committee is denounced and condemned; ten are sentenced to twenty years in irons, with the pillory in addition, and, among others, the clever notary,55 amidst the jeerings and insults of the crowd. And yet these are not the worst; their cupidity had mollified their ferocity. Others, less adroit in robbing, show greater cruelty in murdering. In any event, in the provinces as well as in Paris, in the revolutionary committees paid three francs a day for each member, the quality of one or the other of the officials is about the same. According to the pay-lists which Barère keeps, there are twenty-one thousand five hundred of these committees in France.56
Had the laws of March 21 and September 5, 1793, been strictly enforced, there would have been forty-five thousand of these revolutionary committees, instead of twenty-one thousand five hundred, composed of five hundred and forty thousand members and costing the public five hundred and ninety-one millions per annum.57 This would have made the regular administrative body, already twice as numerous and twice as costly as under the ancient régime, an extra corps expending, “simply in surveillance,” one hundred millions more than the entire taxation of the country, the greatness of which had excited the people against the ancient régime. Happily, the poisonous and monstrous mushroom obtains but one-half its growth; neither the Jacobin seed nor the bad atmosphere it required to make it spread could be found anywhere. “The people of the provinces,” says a contemporary,58 “are not up to the level of the Revolution; it opposes old habits and customs and the resistance of inertia to innovations which it does not understand.” “The ploughman is an estimable man,” writes a missionary representative, “but he is generally a poor patriot.”59 In effect, there is on the one hand, less of human sediment in the departmental towns than in the great Parisian sink, and, on the other hand, the rural population, preserved from intellectual miasmas, better resists social epidemics than the urban population. Less infested with vicious adventurers, less fruitful in disordered intellects, the provinces supply a corps of inquisitors and terrorists with greater difficulty.
And first, in the thousands of communes which have less than five hundred inhabitants,60 in many other villages of greater population, but scattered61 and purely agricultural, especially in those in which patois is spoken, there is a scarcity of suitable subjects for a revolutionary committee. People make use of their hands too much; hands with a tough skin do not write easily; nobody wants to take up a pen, especially to keep a register that may be preserved and some day or other prove compromising. It is already a difficult matter to recruit a municipal council, to find a mayor, the two additional municipal officers, and the national agent which the law requires; in the small communes, these are the only agents of the revolutionary government, and I fancy that, in most cases, their Jacobin fervor is moderate. Municipal officer, national agent or mayor, the real peasant of that day belongs to no party, neither royalist nor republican;62 he has too few ideas, too transient and too sluggish, to enable him to form a political opinion. All he comprehends of the Revolution is that which nettles him, or that which he sees every day around him, with his own eyes; to him ’93 and ’94 are and will remain “the time of bad paper (money) and great fright,” and nothing more.63 Patient in his habits, he submits to the new as he did to the ancient régime, bearing the load put on his shoulders, and stooping down for fear of a heavier one. He is often mayor or national agent in spite of himself; he has been obliged to take the place and would gladly throw the burden off. For, as times go, it is onerous; if he executes decrees and orders, he is certain to make enemies; if he does not execute them, he is sure to be imprisoned; he had better remain, or go back home “Gros-jean,” as he was before. But he has no choice; the appointment being once made and confirmed, he cannot decline, nor resign, under penalty of being a “suspect”; he must be the hammer in order not to become the anvil. Whether he is a wine-grower, miller, ploughman or stone-breaker, he must act accordingly in self-defence, unless to “petition for his removal,” when Terror begins to decide, on the ground that “he writes badly,” that “he knows nothing whatever about law and is unable to enforce it”; that “he has to support himself with his own hands”; that “he has a family to provide for, and is obliged to drive his own cart” or vehicle; in short, entreating that he “may be relieved of his charge.”64 These involuntary recruits are evidently nothing more than common laborers; if they drag along the revolutionary cart they do it like their horses, because they are pressed into the service.
Above the small communes, in the large villages possessing a revolutionary committee, and also in certain bourgs, the horses in harness often pretend to draw and do not, for fear of crushing some one. At this epoch, a straggling village, especially when isolated, in an out-of-the-way place and on no highway, is a small world in itself, much more secluded than now-a-days, much less accessible to Parisian verbiage and outside pressure; local opinion here preponderates; neighbors support each other; they would shrink from denouncing a worthy man whom they had known for twenty years; the moral sway of honest folks suffices for keeping down “blackguards.”65 If the mayor is republican, it is only in words, perhaps for self-protection, to protect his commune, and because one must howl along with the other wolves. Moreover, in other bourgs, and in the small towns, the fanatics and rascals are not sufficiently numerous to fill all the offices, and, in order to fill the vacancies, those who are not good Jacobins have been pushed forward or admitted into the new administrative corps, lukewarm, indifferent, timid, or needy men, who take the place as an asylum or ask for it as a means of subsistence. “Citizens,” one of the recruits, more or less under restraint, writes later on,66 “I was put on the Committee of Surveillance of Aignay by force, and installed by force.” Three or four madmen on it ruled, and if one held any discussion with them, “it was always threats. … Always trembling, always afraid, that is the way I passed eight months doing duty in that miserable place.” Finally, in medium-sized or large towns, the dead-lock produced by collective dismissals, the pell-mell of improvised appointments, and the sudden renewal of an entire set of officials, threw into the administration, willingly or not, a lot of pretended Jacobins who, at heart, are Girondists or Feuillantists, but who, having been overoratorical, are assigned offices on account of their stump-speeches, and who thenceforth sit alongside of the worst Jacobins, in the worst employment. “Member of the Feurs Revolutionary Committee—those who make that objection to me,” says a Clermont advocate,67 “are persuaded that those only who secluded themselves, felt the Terror. They are not aware, perhaps, that nobody felt it more than those who were compelled to execute its decrees. Remember that the handwriting of Couthon which designated some citizen for an office also conveyed a threat, and in case of refusal, of being declared ‘suspect,’ a threat which promised in perspective the loss of liberty and the sequestration of property! Was I free, then, to refuse?” Once installed, the man must act, and many of those who do act let their repugnance be seen in spite of themselves: at best, they cannot be got to do more than mechanical service. “Before going to court,” says a judge at Cambray, “I swallowed a big glass of spirits to give me strength enough to preside.” He leaves his house with no other intention than to finish the job, and, the sentence once pronounced, to return home, shut himself up, and close his eyes and ears. “I had to pronounce judgment according to the jury’s declaration—what could I do?”68 Nothing, but remain blind and deaf: “I drank. I tried to ignore everything, even the names of the accused.” It is plain enough that, in the local official body, there are too many agents who are weak, not zealous, without any push, unreliable, or even secretly hostile; these must be replaced by others who are energetic and reliable, and the latter must be taken wherever they can be found.69 This reservoir in each department or district is the Jacobin nursery of the principal town; from this, they are sent into the bourgs and communes of the conscription. The central Jacobin nursery for France is in Paris, from whence they are despatched to the towns and departments.
Consequently, swarms of Jacobin locusts from Paris constantly overspread the provinces, also from the local country-towns, the surrounding country. In this cloud of destructive insects, there are diverse figures and of diverse shapes: in the front rank, are the representatives on mission, who are to take command in the departments; in the second rank, “the political agents,” who, assigned the duty of watching the neighboring frontier, take upon themselves the additional duty of leading the popular club of the town they reside in, or of urging on its administrative body.70 Besides that, there issue from the Paris headquarters in the rue St. Honoré, select sans-culottes, who, empowered by, or delegates from, the Committee of Public Safety, proceed to Lyons, Marseilles, Bordeaux, Tonnerre, Rochefort, and elsewhere, to act as missionaries among the too inert population, or form the committees of action and the tribunals of extermination that are recruited with difficulty on the spot.71 Sometimes also, when a town is in bad repute, the popular club of a sounder-minded city sends its delegates there, to bring it into line; thus, four deputies of the Metz club arrive without notice in Belfort, catechise their brethren, associate with them the local Revolutionary Committee, and, suddenly, without consulting the municipality, or any other legal authority, draw up a list of “moderates, fanatics, and egoists,” on whom they impose an extraordinary tax of one hundred and thirty-six thousand six hundred and seventeen livres;72 in like manner, sixty delegates from the club of Côte d’Or, Haute-Marne, Vosges, Moselle, Saone-et-Loire and Mont-Terrible, all “tempered by the white heat of Pêre Duchesne,” proceed to Strasbourg at the summons of the representatives, where, under the title of “propagandists,” they are to regenerate the town.73 At the same time, in each department, the Jacobins of the principal town are found scattered along the highways, that they may inspect their domain and govern their subjects. Sometimes, it is the representative on mission, who, personally, along with twenty “hairy devils,” makes his round and shows off his peregrinating dictatorship; again, it is his secretary or delegate who, in his place and in his name, comes to a second-class town and draws up his documents.74 At another time, it is “a committee of investigation and propagandism” which, “chosen by the club and provided with full powers,” comes, in the name of the representatives, to work up for a month all the communes of the district.75 Again, finally, it is the revolutionary committee of the principal town, which, “declared central for the whole department,”76 delegates one or the other of its members to go outside the walls, and purge and recompose suspected municipalities. Thus does Jacobinism descend and spread itself, step by step, from the Parisian centre to the smallest and remotest commune: throughout the province, whatever its hue may be, positive or indistinct, the administration, imported into or imposed upon this, stamps it with its red stigma.
But the stamp is only superficial; for the sans-culottes, naturally, are not disposed to confer offices on any but men of their own kidney, while in the provinces, especially in the rural districts, these men are rare. As one of the representatives says: there is a “dearth of subjects.” At Macon, Javogues tries in vain;77 he finds in the club only “disguised federalists”; the people, he says, “will not open their eyes: it seems to me that this blindness is due to the physique of the country, which is very rich.” Naturally, he storms and dismisses; but, even in the revolutionary committee, none but dubious candidates are presented to him for selection; he does not know how to manage in order to renew the local authorities. “They play into each others’ hands,” and he ends by threatening to transfer the public institutions of the town elsewhere, if they persist in proposing to him none but bad patriots. At Strasbourg,78 Couturier, and Dentzel, on mission, report that: “owing to an unexampled coalition among all the capable citizens, obstinately refusing to take the office of mayor, in order, by this course, to clog the wheels, and subject the representatives to repeated and indecent refusals,” he is compelled to appoint a young man, not of legal age, and a stranger in the department. At Marseilles, write the agents,79 “in spite of every effort and our ardent desire to republicanise the Marseilles people, our pains and fatigues are nearly all fruitless. … Public spirit among owners of property, mechanics and journeymen is everywhere detestable. … The number of discontented seems to increase from day to day. All the communes in Var, and most of those in this department are against us. … It is a race to be destroyed, a country to be colonised anew.” … “I repeat it, the only way to work out the Revolution in the federalised departments, and especially in this one, is to transport all the indigenous population who are able to bear arms, scatter them through the armies and put garrisons in their places, which, again, will have to be changed from time to time.” At the other extremity of the territory, in Alsace, “republican sentiments are still in the cradle; fanaticism is extreme and incredible; the spirit of the inhabitants in general is in no respect revolutionary. … Nothing but the revolutionary army and the venerated guillotine will cure them of their conceited aristocracy. The execution of the laws depends on striking off the heads of the guilty, for nearly all the rural municipalities are composed only of the rich, of clerks of former bailiffs, almost always devoted to the ancient régime.”80 And in the rest of France, the population, less refractory, is not more Jacobin; here where the people appear “humble and submissive” as in Lyons and Bordeaux, the inspectors report that it is wholly owing to terror;81 there, where opinion seems enthusiastic, as at Rochefort and Grenoble, they report that it is “artificial heat.”82 At Rochefort, zeal is maintained only “by the presence of five or six Parisian Jacobins.” At Grenoble, Chépy, the political agent and president of the club, writes that “he is knocked up, worn out, and exhausted, in trying to keep up public spirit and maintain it on a level with events,” but he is “conscious that, if he should leave, all would crumble.” There are none other than Moderates at Brest, at Lille, at Dunkirk; if this or that department, the Nord, for instance, hastened to accept the Montagnard constitution, it is only a pretence: “an infinitely small portion of the population answered for the rest.”83 At Belfort, where “from one thousand to twelve hundred fathers of families alone are counted,” writes the agent,84 “one popular club of thirty or forty members, at the most, maintains and enforces the love of liberty.” In Arras, “out of three or four hundred members composing the popular club” the weeding-out of 1793 has spared but “sixty-three, one-tenth of whom are absent.”85 At Toulouse, “out of about fourteen hundred members” who form the club, only three or four hundred remain after the weeding-out of 1793,86 “mere machines, for the most part,” and “whom ten or a dozen intriguers lead as they please.” The same state of things exists elsewhere, a dozen or two determined Jacobins—twenty-two at Troyes, twenty-one at Grenoble, ten at Bordeaux, seven at Poitiers, as many at Dijon—constitute the active staff of a large town:87 the whole number might sit around one table. The Jacobins, straining as they do to swell their numbers, only scatter their band; careful as they are in making their selections, they only limit their number. They remain what they always have been, a small feudality of brigands superposed on conquered France.88 If the terror they spread around multiplies their serfs, the horror they inspire diminishes their proselytes, while their minority remains insignificant because, for their collaborators, they can have only those just like themselves.
Thus, on closely observing the final set of officials of the revolutionary government, in the provinces as well as at Paris, we find few besides the eminent in vice, dishonesty, and misconduct, or, at the very least, in stupidity and grossness. First, as is indicated by their name, they all must be, and nearly all are, sans-culottes, that is to say, men who live from day to day on their daily earnings, possessing no income from capital, confined to subordinate places, to petty trading, to manual services, lodged or encamped on the lowest steps of the social ladder, and therefore requiring pay to enable them to attend to public business;89 it is on this account that decrees and orders allow them wages of three, five, six, ten, and even eighteen francs a day. At Grenoble, the representatives form the municipal body and the revolutionary committee, along with two health-officers, three glovers, two farmers, one tobacco-merchant, one perfumer, one grocer, one belt-maker, one innkeeper, one joiner, one shoemaker, one mason, while the official order by which they are installed, appoints “Teyssière, licoriste,” national agent.90 At Troyes,91 among the men in authority we find a confectioner, a weaver, a journeyman-weaver, a hatter, a hosier, a grocer, a carpenter, a dancing-master, and a policeman, while the mayor, Gachez, formerly a common soldier in the regiment of Vexin, was, when appointed, a school-teacher in the vicinity. At Toulouse,92 a man named Terrain, a pie-dealer, is installed as president of the administration; the revolutionary committee is presided over by Pio, a journeyman-barber; the inspiration, “the soul of the club,” is a concierge, that of the prison. The last and most significant trait is found at Rochefort,93 where the president of the popular club is the executioner. If such persons form the select body of officials in the large towns, what must they be in the small ones, in the bourgs and in the villages? “Everywhere they are of the meanest,”94 cartmen, sabot- (wooden shoe) makers, thatchers, stone-cutters, dealers in rabbit-skins, day laborers, idle mechanics, many without any pursuit, or mere vagabonds who had already participated in riots or jacqueries, loungers in the groggeries, having given up work and designated for a public career only by their irregular habits and incompetency to follow a private career. Even in the large towns, it is evident that discretionary power has fallen into the hands of nearly raw barbarians; one has only to note in the old documents, at the Archives, the orthography and style of the committees empowered to grant or refuse civic cards, and draw up reports on the opinions and pursuits of prisoners. “His opinions appear insipid (Ces opignons paroisse insipide).95 … He is married (but) without children.” (Il est marie cent (sans) enfants). … Her profession is wife of Paillot-Montabert, her income is living on her income; these relations are with a woman we pay no attention to; we presume her opinions are like her husband’s.”96 The handwriting, unfortunately, cannot be represented here, being that of a child five years old.97
“As stupid as they are immoral,”98 says Representative Albert, of the Jacobins he finds in office at Troyes. Low, indeed, as their condition may be, their feeling and intelligence are yet lower because, in their professions or occupations, they are the refuse instead of the élite, and, especially on this account, they are turned out after Thermidor, some, it is true, as Terrorists, but the larger number as either dolts, scandalous or crazy, mere interlopers, or mere valets. At Rheims, the president of the district is99 “a former bailiff, on familiar terms with the spies of the Robespierre régime, acting in concert with them, but without being their accomplice, possessing none of the requisite qualities for administration”; another administrator is likewise “a former bailiff, without means, negligent in the highest degree and a confirmed drunkard”: alongside of these sit “a horse-dealer, without any means, better suited for jockeying than governing, moreover a drunkard; a dyer, lacking judgment, open to all sorts of influences, pushed ahead by the Jacobin faction, and having used power in the most arbitrary manner, rather, perhaps, through ignorance than through cruelty; a shoemaker, entirely uninstructed, knowing only how to sign his name,” and others of the same character. In the Tribunal, a judge is noted as “true in principle, but whom poverty and want of resources have driven to every excess, a turncoat according to circumstances in order to get a place, associated with the leaders in order to keep the place, and yet not without sensibility, having, perhaps, acted criminally merely to keep himself and his family alive.” In the municipal body, the majority is composed of an incompetent lot, some of them being journeymen-spinners or thread-twisters, and others second-hand dealers or shopkeepers, “incapable,” “without means,” with a few crack-brains among them: one, “his brain being crazed, absolutely of no account, anarchist and Jacobin”; another, “very dangerous through lack of judgment, a Jacobin, overexcited”; a third, “an instrument of tyranny, a man of blood capable of every vice, having assumed the name of Mutius Scaevola, of recognised depravity and unable to write.” Similarly, in the Aube districts, we find some of the heads feverish with the prevailing epidemic, for instance, at Nogent, the national agent, Delaporte, “who has the words ‘guillotine’ and ‘revolutionary tribunal’ always on his lips, and who declares that if he were the government he would imprison doctor, surgeon, and lawyer, who delights in finding people guilty and says that he is never content except when he gets three pounds’ weight of denunciations a day.” But, apart from these madcaps, most of the administrators or judges are either people wholly unworthy of their offices, because they are “inept,” “too uneducated,” “good for nothing,” “too little familiar with administrative forms,” “too little accustomed to judicial action,” “without information,” “too busy with their own affairs,” “unable to read or write,” or, because “they have no delicacy,” are “violent,” “agitators,” “knaves,” “without public esteem,” and more or less dishonest and despised.100 A certain fellow from Paris, was, at first, at Troyes, a baker’s apprentice,101 and afterwards a dancing-master; he next figured at the Club, making headway, doubtless, through his Parisian chatter, until he stood first and soon became a member of the district. Appointed an officer in the sixth battalion of Aube, he behaved in such a manner in Vendée that, on his return, “his brethren in arms” broke up the banner presented to him, “declaring him unworthy of such an honor, because he cowardly fled before the enemy.” Nevertheless, after a short plunge, he came again to the surface and, thanks to his civil compeers, was reinstated in his administrative functions; during the Terror, he was intimate with all the Terrorists, being one of the important men of Troyes. The mayor of the town, Gachez, an old soldier and ex-schoolmaster, is of the same stuff as this baker’s apprentice. He, likewise, was a Vendéan hero; only, he was unable to distinguish himself as much as he liked, for, after enlisting, he failed to march; having pocketed the bounty of three hundred livres, he discovered that he had infirmities and, getting himself invalided, he served the nation in a civil capacity. “His own partisans admit that he is a drunkard and that he has committed forgery.” Some months after Thermidor he is sentenced to eight years imprisonment and put in the pillory for this crime. Hence, “almost the entire commune is against him; the women in the streets jeer him, and the eight sections meet together to request his withdrawal.” But Representative Bô reports that he is every way entitled to remain, being a true Jacobin, an admirable terrorist and “the only sans-culotte mayor which the commune of Troyes has to be proud of.”102
It would be awarding too much honor to men of this stamp, to suppose that they had convictions or principles; they were governed by animosities and especially by their appetites,103 to satiate which they104 made the most of their offices. At Troyes, “all provisions and eatables are drawn upon to supply the table of the twenty-four” sans-culottes105 to whom Bô entrusted the duty of weeding-out the popular club; before the organisation of “this regenerating nucleus” the revolutionary committee, presided over by Rousselin, the civil commissioner, carried on its “feastings” in the Petit-Louvre tavern, “passing nights in tippling” and in the preparation of lists of suspects.106 In the neighboring provinces of Dijon, Beaune, Semur and Aignay-le-Duc, the heads of the municipality and of the club always meet in taverns and groggeries. At Dijon, we see “the ten or twelve Hercules of patriotism traversing the town, each with a chalice under his arm”:107 this is their drink-cup; each has to bring his own to the Montagnard inn; there, they imbibe copiously, frequently, and between two glasses of wine “declare who are outlaws.” At Aignay-le-Duc, a small town with only half a dozen patriots “the majority of whom can scarcely write, most of them poor, burdened with families, and living without doing anything, never quit the groggeries, where, night and day, they revel”; their chief, a financial ex-procureur, now “concierge, archivist, secretary, and president of the popular club,” holds municipal council in the bar-room. “On leaving, they put for female aristocrats,” while one of them declares “that if the half of Aignay were slaughtered the other half would be all the better for it.” There is nothing like drinking to excite ferocity to the highest pitch. At Strasbourg the sixty propagandist mustachioed patriots lodged in the college in which they are settled fixtures, have a cook provided for them by the town, and they revel day and night “on the choice provisions put in requisition,” “on wines destined to the defenders of the country.”108 It is, undoubtedly, on issuing from these orgies that they proceed, sword in hand, to the popular club,109 vote and force others to vote “death to all prisoners confined in the Seminary to the number of seven hundred, of every age and of both sexes, without any preliminary trial.” For a man to become a good cut-throat, he must first get intoxicated;110 such was the course pursued in Paris by those who did the work in September: the revolutionary government being an organised, prolonged, and permanent Septembrisade, most of its agents are obliged to drink hard.111
For the same reasons when the opportunity, as well as the temptation, to steal, presents itself, they steal. At first, during six months, and up to the decree assigning them pay, the revolutionary committees “take their pay themselves”;112 they then add to their legal salary of three and five francs a day about what they please: for it is they who assess the extraordinary taxes, and often, as at Montbrison, “without making any list or record of collections.” On Frimaire 16, year II., the financial committee reports that “the collection and application of extraordinary taxes is unknown to the government; that it was impossible to supervise them, the National treasury having received no sums whatever arising from these taxes.”113 Two years after, four years after, the accounts of revolutionary taxation, of forced loans, and of pretended voluntary gifts, still form a bottomless pit; out of forty billions of accounts rendered to the National Treasury only twenty are found to be verified; the rest are irregular and worthless. Besides, in many cases, not only is the voucher worthless or not forthcoming, but, again, it is proved that the sums collected disappeared wholly or in part. At Villefranche, out of one hundred and thirty-eight thousand francs collected, the collector of the district deposited but forty-two thousand; at Baugency, out of more than five hundred thousand francs collected, there were only fifty thousand deposited; at la Réole, out of at least five hundred thousand francs collected, there were but twenty-two thousand six hundred and fifty deposited. “The rest,” says the collector at Villefranche, “were wasted by the Committee of Surveillance.” “The tax-collectors,” writes the national-agent at Orleans, “after having employed terror gave themselves up to orgies and are now building palaces.”114 As to the expenses which they prove, they almost always consist of “indemnities to members of revolutionary committees, to patriots, and to defray the cost of patriotic missions,” to maintaining and repairing the meeting-rooms of the popular clubs, to military expeditions, and to succoring the poor, so that three or four hundred millions in gold or silver, extorted before the end of 1793, hundreds of millions of assignats extorted in 1793 and 1794, in short, almost the entire product of the total extraordinary taxation115 was consumed on the spot and by the sans-culottes. Seated at the public banqueting table they help themselves first, and help themselves copiously.
A second windfall, equally gross. Enjoying the right to dispose arbitrarily of fortunes, liberties and lives, they can traffic in these, while no traffic can be more advantageous, both for buyers and sellers. Any man who is rich or well-off, in other words, every man who is likely to be taxed, imprisoned, or guillotined, gladly consents “to compound,” to redeem himself and those who belong to him. If he is prudent, he pays, before the tax, so as not to be overtaxed; he pays, after the tax, to obtain a diminution or delays; he pays to be admitted into the popular club. When danger draws near he pays to obtain or renew his certificate of civism, not to be declared “suspect,” not to be denounced as a conspirator. After being denounced, he pays to be allowed imprisonment at home rather than in the jail, to be allowed imprisonment in the jail rather than in the general prison, to be well treated if he gets into this, to have time to get together his proofs in evidence, to have his record (dossier) placed and kept at the bottom of the file among the clerk’s registers, to avoid being inscribed on the next batch of cases in the revolutionary Tribunal. There is not one of these favors that is not precious; consequently, ransoms without number are tendered, while the rascals116 who swarm on the revolutionary committees, need but open their hands to fill their pockets. They run very little risk, for they are held in check only by their own kind, or are not checked at all. In any large town, two of them suffice for the issue of a warrant of arrest “save a reference to the Committee within twenty-four hours,” with the certainty that their colleagues will kindly return the favor.117 Moreover, the clever ones know how to protect themselves beforehand. For example, at Bordeaux, where one of these clandestine markets had been set up, M. Jean Davilliers, one of the partners in a large commercial house, is under arrest in his own house, guarded by four sans-culottes; on the 8th of Brumaire, he is taken aside and told “that he is in danger if he does not come forward and meet the indispensable requirements of the Revolution in its secret expenditures.” A prominent man, Lemoal, member of the revolutionary committee and administrator of the district, had spoken of these requirements and thought that M. Davilliers should contribute the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand livres. Upon this, a knock at the door is heard; Lemoal enters and all present leave the room, while Lemoal merely asks: “Do you consent?” “But I cannot thus dispose of my partners’ property.” “Then you will go to prison.” At this threat the poor man yields and gives his note to Lemoal at twenty days, payable to bearer, for one hundred and fifty thousand livres, and, at the end of a fortnight, by dint of pushing his claims, obtains his freedom. Thereupon, Lemoal thinks the matter over, and deems it prudent to cover up his private extortion by a public one. Accordingly, he sends for M. Davilliers: “It is now essential for you to openly contribute one hundred and fifty thousand livres more for the necessities of the Republic. I will introduce you to the representatives to whom you should make the offer.” The chicken being officially plucked in this way, nobody would suppose that it had been first privately plucked, and, moreover, the inquisitive, if there were any, would be thrown off the scent by the confusion arising from two sums of equal amount. M. Davilliers begs to be allowed to consult his partners, and, as they are not in prison, they refuse. Lemoal, on his side, is anxious to receive the money for his note, while poor Davilliers, “struck with terror by nocturnal arrests,” and seeing that Lemoal is always on the top of the ladder, concludes to pay; at first, he gives him thirty thousand livres, and next, the charges, amounting in all to forty-one thousand livres, when, being at the end of his resources, he begs and entreats to have his note returned to him. Lemoal, on this, considering the chicken as entirely stripped, becomes mollified, and tears off in presence of his debtor “the signature in full of the note,” and, along with this, his own receipts for partial payments underneath. But he carefully preserves the note itself, for, thus mutilated, it will show, if necessary, that he had not received anything, and that, through patriotism, he had undoubtedly wished to force a contribution from a merchant, but, finding him insolvent, had humanely cancelled the written obligation.118 Such are the precautions taken in this business. Others, less shrewd, rob more openly, among others the mayor, the seven members of the military commission surnamed “the seven mortal sins,” and especially their president, Lacombe, who, by promising releases, extracts from eight or nine captives three hundred and fifty-nine thousand six hundred livres.119 Through these manoeuvres, writes a strict Jacobin,120 “Many of those who had been declared outlaws returned to Bordeaux by paying; of the number who thus redeemed their lives, some did not deserve to lose it, but, nevertheless, they were threatened with execution if they did not consent to everything. But material proofs of this are hard to obtain. These men now keep silent, for fear, through open denunciation, of sharing in the penalty of the traffickers in justice, and being unwilling to expose (anew) the life they have preserved.” In short, the plucked pigeon is mute, so as not to attract attention, as well as to avoid the knife; and all the more, because those who pluck him hold on to the knife and might, should he cry out, despatch him with the more celerity. Even if he makes no outcry, they sometimes despatch him so as to stifle in advance any possible outcry, which happened to the Duc du Châtelet and others. There is but one mode of self-preservation121 and that is, “to pay one’s patrons by instalments, like nurses by the mouth, on a scale proportionate to the activity of the guillotine.” In any event, the pirates are not disturbed, for the trade in lives and liberties leaves no trace behind it, and is carried on with impunity for two years, from one end of France to the other, according to a tacit understanding between sellers and buyers.
There is a third windfall, not less large, but carried on in more open sunshine and therefore still more enticing. Once the “suspect” is incarcerated, whatever he brings to prison along with him, whatever he leaves behind him at home, becomes plunder; for, with the incompleteness, haste and irregularity of papers,122 with the lack of surveillance and known connivance, the vultures, great and small, could freely use their beaks and talons. At Toulouse, as in Paris and elsewhere, commissioners take from prisoners every object of value and, accordingly, in many cases, all gold, silver, assignats, and jewelry, which, confiscated for the Treasury, stop half-way in the hands of those who make the seizure.123 At Poitiers, the seven scoundrels who form the ruling oligarchy, admit, after Thermidor, that they stole the effects of arrested parties.124 At Orange, “Citoyenne Riot,” wife of the public prosecutor, and “citoyennes Fernex and Ragot,” wives of two judges, come in person to the record-office to make selections from the spoils of the accused, taking for their wardrobe silver shoe-buckles, laces, and fine linen.125 But all that the accused, the imprisoned and fugitives can take with them, amounts to but little in comparison with what they leave at home, that is to say, under sequestration. All the religious or seignorial chateaux and mansions in France are in this plight, along with their furniture, and likewise most of the fine bourgeois mansions, together with a large number of minor residences, well-furnished, and supplied through provincial economy; besides these, nearly every warehouse and store belonging to large manufacturers and leading commercial houses; all this forms colossal spoil, such as was never seen before, consisting of objects one likes to possess, gathered in vast lots, which lots are distributed by hundreds of thousands over the twenty-six thousand square miles of territory. There are no owners for this property but the nation, an indeterminate, imperceptible personage; no barrier other than so many seals exists between the spoils and the despoilers, that is to say, so many strips of paper held fast by two ill-applied and indistinct stamps. Bear in mind, too, that the guardians of the spoil are the sans-culottes who have made a conquest of it; that they are poor; that such a profusion of useful or precious objects makes them feel the bareness of their homes all the more; that their wives would dearly like to lay in a stock of furniture; moreover, has it not been held out to them from the beginning of the Revolution, that “forty-thousand mansions, palaces, and chateaux, two-thirds of the property of France, would be the reward of their valor”?126 At this very moment, does not the representative on mission authorise their greed? Are not Albitte and Collot d’Herbois at Lyons, Fouché at Nevers, Javogues at Montbrison, proclaiming that the possessions of antirevolutionists and a surplus of riches form “the patrimony of the sans-culottes”?127 Do they not read in the proclamations of Monestier,128 that the peasants “before leaving home may survey and measure off the immense estates of their seigneurs, choose, for example, on their return, whatever they want to add to their farm … tacking on a bit of field or rabbit-warren belonging to the former count or marquis”? Why not take a portion of his furniture, any of his beds or clothes-presses? It is not surprising that, after this, the slip of paper which protects sequestrated furniture and confiscated merchandise should be ripped off by gross and greedy hands! When, after Thermidor, the master returns to his own roof it is generally to an empty house; in this or that habitation in the Morvan,129 the removal of the furniture is so complete that a bin turned upside down serves for a table and chairs, when the family sit down to their first meal.
In the towns the embezzlements are often more brazenly carried out than in the country. At Valenciennes, the Jacobin chiefs of the municipality are known under the title of “seal-breakers and patriotic robbers.”130 At Lyons, the Maratists, who dub themselves “the friends of Chalier,” are, according to the Jacobins’ own admission, “brigands, thieves, and rascals.”131 They compose, to the number of three or four hundred, the thirty-two revolutionary committees; one hundred and fifty of the leading ones, “all administrators,” form the popular club; in this town of one hundred and twenty thousand souls they number, as they themselves state, three thousand, and they firmly rely on “sharing with each other the wealth of Lyons.” This huge cake belongs to them; they do not allow that strangers, Parisians, should have a slice,132 and they intend to eat the whole of it, at discretion, without control, even to the last crumb. As to their mode of operations, it consists in “selling justice, in trading on denunciations, in holding under sequestration at least four thousand households,” in putting seals everywhere on dwellings and warehouses, in not summoning interested parties who might watch their proceedings, in expelling women, children, and servants who might testify to their robberies, in not drawing up inventories, in installing themselves as “guardians at five francs a day,” themselves or their boon companions, and in “general squandering, in league with the administrators.” It is impossible to stay their hands or repress them, even for the representatives. “Take them in the act,133 and you must shut your eyes or they will all shout at the oppression of patriots; they do this systematically so that nobody may be followed up. … We passed an order forbidding any authority to remove seals without our consent, and, in spite of the prohibition, they broke into a storehouse under sequestration, … forced the locks and pillaged, under our own eyes, the very house we occupy. And who are these devastators? Two commissioners of the Committee who emptied the storehouse without our warrant, and even without having any power from the Committee.” It is a sack in due form, and day after day; it began on the 10th of October, 1793; it continued after, without interruption, and we have just seen that, on Floréal 28, year II., that is to say, April 26, 1794, after one hundred and twenty-three days, it is still maintained.
The last haul and the richest of all. In spite of the subterfuges of its agents, the Republic, having stolen immensely, and although robbed in its turn, could still hold on to a great deal; and first, to articles of furniture which could not be easily abstracted, to large lots of merchandise, also to the vast spoil of the palaces, chateaux, and churches; next, and above all, to real estate, fixtures, and buildings. Its necessities require it to put all this on the market, and whoever wants anything has only to come forward as a buyer, the last bidder becoming the legal owner and at a cheap rate. The wood cut down in one year very often pays for a whole forest.134 Sometimes a chateau can be paid for by a sale of the iron-railings of the park, or the lead on the roof. Here are found chances for a good many bargains, and especially with objects of art. “The titles alone of the articles carried off, destroyed, or injured, would fill volumes.”135 On the one hand, the commissioners on inventories and adjudications, “having to turn a penny on the proceeds of sales,” throw on the market all they can, “avoiding reserving” objects of public utility and sending collections and libraries to auction with a view to get their percentages. On the other hand, nearly all these commissioners are brokers or second-hand dealers who alone know the value of rarities, and openly depreciate them in order to buy them in themselves, “and thus ensure for themselves exorbitant profits.” In certain cases the official guardians and purchasers who are on the look-out take the precaution to “disfigure” precious articles “so as to have them bought by their substitutes and accomplices”: for instance, they convert sets of books into odd volumes, and take machines to pieces; the tube and object-glass of a telescope are separated, which pieces the rogues who have bought them cheap know how to put together again.” Often, in spite of the seals, they take in advance “antiques, pieces of jewelry, medals, enamels, and engraved stones”; nothing is easier, for “even in Paris in Thermidor, year II., agents of the municipality use anything with which to make a stamp, buttons, and even large pennies, so that whoever has a sou can remove and restamp the seals as he pleases”; having been successful, “they screen their thefts by substituting cut pebbles and counterfeit stones for real ones.” Finally, at the auction sales, “fearing the honesty or competition of intelligent judges, they offer money (to these) to stay away from the sales; one case is cited of a bidder being knocked down.” In the meantime, at the club, they shout with all their might; this, with the protection of a member of the municipality or of the Revolutionary Committee, shelters them from all suspicion. As for the protector, he gets his share without coming out into the light. Accuse, if you dare, a republican functionary who secretly, or even openly, profits by these larcenies; he will show clean hands. Such is the incorruptible patriot, the only one of his species, whom the representatives discover at Strasbourg, and whom they appoint mayor at once. On the 10th of Vendémiaire, year III.,136 there is found “in his apartments” a superb and complete assortment of ecclesiastical objects, “forty-nine copes and chasubles, silk or satin, covered with gold or silver; fifty-four palles of the same description;” a quantity of “reliquaries, vases and spoons, censers, laces, silver and gold fringe, thirty-two pieces of silk,” etc. None of these fine things belong to him; they are the property of citizen Mouet, his father. This prudent parent, taking his word for it, “deposited them for safe keeping in his son’s house during the month of June, 1792 (old style)”; could a good son refuse his father such a slight favor? It is very certain that, in ’93 and ’94, during the young man’s municipal dictatorship, the elder did not pay the Strasbourg Jew brokers too much, and that they did business in an off-hand way. By what right could a son and magistrate prevent his father, a free individual, from looking after “his own affairs” and buying according to trade principles, as cheap as he could?
If such are the profits on the sale of personal property, what must they be on the sale of real estate? It is on this traffic that the fortunes of the clever terrorists are founded. It accounts for the “colossal wealth peaceably enjoyed,” after Thermidor, of the well-known “thieves” who, before Thermidor, were so many “little Robespierres,” each in his own canton, “the patriots” who, around Orleans, “built palaces,” who, “exclusives” at Valenciennes, “having wasted both public and private funds, possess the houses and property of emigrants, knocked down to them at a hundred times less than their value.”137 On this side, their outstretched fingers shamelessly clutch all they can get hold of; for the obligation of each arrested party to declare his name, quality and fortune, as it now is and was before the Revolution, gives local cupidity a known, sure, direct and palpable object. At Toulouse, says a prisoner,138 “the details and value of an object were taken down as if for a succession,” while the commissioners who drew up the statement, “our assassins, proceeded, beforehand and almost under our eyes, to take their share, disputing with each other on the choice and suitableness of each object, comparing the cost of adjudication with the means of lessening it, discussing the certain profits of selling again and of the transfer, and consuming in advance the pickings arising from sales and leases.” In Provence, where things are more advanced and corruption is greater than elsewhere, where the purport and aims of the Revolution were comprehended at the start, it is still worse. Nowhere did Jacobin rulers display their real character more openly, and nowhere, from 1789 to 1799, was this character so well maintained. At Toulon, the demagogues in the year V., as in the year II., are139 “former workmen and clerks in the Arsenal who had become ‘bosses’ by acting as informers and through terrorism, getting property for nothing, or at an insignificant price, and plotting sales of national possessions, petty traders from all quarters with stocks of goods acquired in all sorts of ways, through robberies, through purchases of stolen goods from servants and employees in the civil, war, and navy departments, and through abandoned or bought-up claims; in fine, from refugees from other communes who pass their days in coffee-houses and their nights in houses of ill-fame.” The leading officials at Draguignan, Brignolles, Vidauban, and Fréjus, are of this sort. At Marseilles, after Thermidor, the intermittent returns to Terrorism always restore to office,140 the same justiciary and police gangs, “once useful mechanics, but tired of working, and whom the profession of paid clubbists, idle guardians,” and paid laborers “has totally demoralized,” scoundrels in league with each other and making money out of whatever they lay their hands on, like thieves at a fair, habitually living at the expense of the public, “bestowing the favors of the nation on those who share their principles, harboring and aiding many who are under the ban of the law and calling themselves model patriots, in fine, in the pay of gambling-hells and houses of prostitution.”141 In the rural districts, the old bands “consisting of hordes of homeless brigands” who worked so well during the anarchy of the Constituent and Legislative assemblies, form anew during the anarchy of the Directory; they make their appearance in the vicinity of Apt “commencing with petty robberies and then, strong in the impunity and title of sans-culottes, break into farm-houses, rob and massacre the inmates, strip travelers, put to ransom all who happen to cross their path, force open and pillage houses in the commune of Gorges, stop women in the streets, tear off their rings and crosses,” and attack the hospital, sacking it from top to bottom, while the town and military officers, just like them, allow them to go on.142 Judge by this of their performances in the time of Robespierre, when the vendors and administrators of the national possessions exercised undisputed control. Everywhere, at that time, in the departments of Var, Bouches-du-Rhone, and Vaucluse, “a club of would-be patriots” had long prepared the way for their exactions. It had “paid appraisers” for depreciating whatever was put up for sale, and false names for concealing real purchasers; “a person not of their clique, was excluded from the auction-room; if he persisted in coming in they would, at one time, put him under contribution for the privilege of bidding,” and, at another time, make him promise not to bid above the price fixed by the league, while, to acquire the domain, they paid him a bonus. Consequently, “national property” was made way with “for almost nothing,” the sharpers who acquired it never being without a satisfactory warrant for this in their own eyes. Into whose hands could the property of antirevolutionists better fall than into those of patriots? According to Marat, the martyr apostle and canonised saint of the Revolution, what is the object of the Revolution but to give to the lowly the fortunes of the great?143 In all national sales everywhere, in guarding sequestrations, in all revolutionary ransoms, taxes, loans and seizures, the same excellent argument prevails; nowhere, in printed documents or in manuscripts, do I find any revolutionary committee which is at once terrorist and honest. Only, it is rare to find specific and individual details regarding all the members of the same committee. Here, however, is one case, where, owing to the lucky accident of an examination given in detail, one can observe in one nest, every variety of the species and of its appetites, the dozen or fifteen types of the Jacobin hornet, each abstracting what suits him from whatever he lights on, each indulging in his favorite sort of rapine. At Nantes, “Pinard, the great purveyor of the Committee,144 orders everything that each member needs for his daily use to be carried to his house.” “Gallou takes oil and brandy,” and especially “several barrels from citizen Bissonneau’s house.” “Durassier makes domiciliary visits and exacts contributions”; among others “he compels citizen Lemoine to pay twenty-five hundred livres, to save him from imprisonment.” “Naud affixes and removes seals in the houses of the incarcerated, makes nocturnal visits to the dwellings of the accused and takes what suits him.” “Grandmaison appropriates plate under sequestration, and Bachelier plate given as a present.” “Joly superintends executions and takes all he can find, plate, jewelry, precious objects.” “Bolognié forces the return of a bond of twenty thousand livres already paid to him.” “Perrochaux demands of citoyenne Ollemard-Dudan fifty thousand livres, to prevent her imprisonment,” and confiscates for his own benefit sixty thousand livres’ worth of tobacco, in the house of the widow Daigneau-Mallet, who, claiming it back, is led off by him to prison under the pretext of interceding for her. “Chaux frightens off by terrorism his competitors at auction sales, has all the small farms on the Baroissière domain knocked down to him, and exclaims concerning a place which suits him, ‘I know how to get it! I’ll have the owner arrested. He’ll be very glad to let me have his ground to get out of prison.’ ” The collection is complete, and ranged around a table, it offers samples which, elsewhere in France, are found scattered about.
The last manipulators of the system remain, the hands which seize, the armed force which takes bodily hold of men and things. The first who are employed for this purpose are the National Guard and the ordinary gendarmerie. Since 1790, these bodies are of course constantly weeded out until only fanatics and instruments are left;145 nevertheless, the weeding-out continues as the system develops itself. At Strasbourg,146 on Brumaire 14, the representatives have dismissed, arrested, and sent to Dijon the entire staff of the National Guard to serve as hostages until peace is secured; three days afterwards, considering that the cavalry of the town had been mounted and equipped at its own expense, they deem it aristocratic, bourgeois, and “suspect,” and seize the horses and put the officers in arrest. At Troyes, Rousselin, “National civil commissioner,” dismisses, for the same reason, and with not less despatch, the whole of the gendarmes at one stroke, except four, and “puts under requisition their horses, fully equipped, also their arms, so as to at once mount well-known and tried sans-culottes.” On principle, the poor sans-culottes, who are true at heart and in dress, alone have the right to bear arms, and should a bourgeois be on duty he must have only a pike, care being taken to take it away from him the moment he finishes his rounds.147
But, alongside of the usual armed force, there is still another, much better selected and more effective, the reserve gendarmerie, a special, and, at the same time, movable and resident body, that is to say, the “revolutionary army,” which, after September 5, 1793, the government had raised in Paris and in most of the large towns. That of Paris, comprising six thousand men, with twelve hundred cannoneers, sends detachments into the provinces—two thousand men to Lyons, and two hundred to Troyes;148 Ysabeau and Tallien have at Bordeaux a corps of three thousand men; Salicetti, Albitte, and Gasparin, one of two thousand men at Marseilles; Ysoré and Duquesnoy, one of one thousand men at Lille; Javogues, one of twelve hundred at Montbrison; others, less numerous, ranging from six hundred down to two hundred men, hold Moulins, Grenoble, Besançon, Belfort, Bourg, Dijon, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Auch, and Nantes.149 When, on March 27, 1794, the Committee of Public Safety, threatened by Hébert, has them disbanded for being Hébertists, many of them are to remain at least as a nucleus, under various forms and names, either as kept by the local administration under the title of “paid guards,”150 or as disbanded soldiers, loitering about and doing nothing, getting themselves assigned posts of rank in the National Guard of their town on account of their exploits; in this way they keep themselves in service, which is indispensable, for it is through these that the régime is established and lasts. “The revolutionary army,”151 say the orders and decrees promulgated, “is intended to repress antirevolutionists, to execute, whenever it is found necessary, revolutionary laws and measures for public safety,” that is to say, “to guard those who are shut up, arrest ‘suspects,’ demolish chateaux, pull down belfries, ransack vestries for gold and silver objects, seize fine horses and carriages,” and especially “to seek for private stores and monopolies,” in short, to exercise manual constraint and strike every one on the spot with physical terror. We readily see what sort of soldiers the revolutionary army is composed of.
Naturally, as it is recruited by voluntary enlistments, and all candidates have passed the purifying scrutiny of the clubs, it comprises none but ultra Jacobins. Naturally, the pay being forty sous a day, it comprises none but the very lowest class. Naturally, as the work is as loathsome as it is atrocious, it comprises but few others152 than those out of employment and reduced to an enlistment to get a living, “hairdressers without customers, lackeys without places, vagabonds, wretches unable to earn a living by honest labor,” “shoulder-hitters” who have acquired the habit of bullying, knocking down, and keeping honest folks under their pikes, a gang of confirmed scoundrels making public brigandage a cloak for private brigandage, inhabitants of the slums glad to bring down their former superiors into the mud, and themselves take precedence and strut about in order to prove by their arrogance and self-display that they, in their turn, are princes. “Take a horse, the nation pays for it!”153 exclaim water-carriers and commissionaires to their comrades in the street, and who, “in a splendid procession,” of three carriages, each drawn by six horses, escorted by a body of sans-culottes on horseback, behind, in front, and each side the doors, are conducting Riouffe and two other “suspects” to prison. The commander of the squad who guards prisoners on the way to Paris, and who “starves them along the road to speculate on them,” is an ex-cook of Agen, having become a gendarme; he makes them travel forty leagues extra, “purposely to glorify himself,” and “let all Agen see that he has government money to spend, and that he can put citizens in irons.” Accordingly, in Agen, “he keeps constantly and needlessly inspecting the vehicle,” winking at the spectators, “more triumphant than if he had made a dozen Austrians prisoners and brought them along himself ”; at last, to show the crowd in the street the importance of his capture, he summons two blacksmiths to come out and rivet, on the legs of each prisoner, a cross-bar cannon-ball weighing eighty pounds.154 The more display these sbirri make of their brutality, the greater they think themselves. At Belfort, a patriot of the club dies, and a civic interment takes place; a detachment of the revolutionary army joins the procession; the men are armed with axes; on reaching the cemetery, the better to celebrate the funeral, “they cut down all the crosses (over the graves) and make a bonfire of them, while the carmagnole ends this ever memorable day.”155 Sometimes the scene, theatrical and played by the light of flambeaux, makes the actors think that they have performed an extraordinary and meritorious action, “that they have saved the country.” “This very night,” writes the agent at Bordeaux,156 “nearly three thousand men have been engaged in an important undertaking, with the members of the Revolutionary Committee and of the municipality at the head of it. They visited every wholesale dealer’s store in town and in the Faubourg des Chartrons, taking possession of their letter-books, sealing up their desks, arresting the merchants and putting them in the Seminiare. … Woe to the guilty!” If the prompt confinement of an entire class of individuals is a fine thing for a town, the seizure of a whole town itself is still more imposing. Leaving Marseilles with a small army,157 commanded by two sans-culottes, they surround Martigne and enter it as if it were a mill. The catch is superb; in this town of five thousand souls there are only seventeen patriots; the rest are Federalists or Moderates. Hence a general disarmament and domiciliary visits. The conquerors depart, carrying off every able-bodied boy, “five hundred lads subject to the conscription, and leave in the town a company of sans-culottes to enforce obedience.” It is certain that obedience will be maintained and that the garrison, joined to the seventeen patriots, will do as they like with their conquest.
In effect, all, both bodies and goods, are at their disposal, and they consequently begin with the country round about, entering private houses to get at their stores, also the farmhouses to have the grain threshed, in order to verify the declarations of their owners and see if these are correct: if the grain is not threshed out at once it will be done summarily and confiscated, while the owner will be sentenced to twelve months in irons; if the declaration is not correct, he is condemned as a monopolist and punished with death. Armed with this order,158 each band takes the field and gathers together not only grain, but supplies of every description. “That of Grenoble, the agent writes,159 does wonderfully; in one little commune alone, four hundred measures of wheat, twelve hundred eggs, and six hundred pounds of butter had been found. All this was quickly on the way to Grenoble.” In the vicinity of Paris, the forerunners of the throng, provided “with pitchforks and bayonets, rush to the farms, take oxen out of their stalls, grab sheep and chickens, burn the barns, and sell their booty to speculators.”160 “Bacon, eggs, butter, and chickens—the peasants surrender whatever is demanded of them, and thenceforth have nothing that they can take to market. They curse the Republic which has brought war and famine on them, and nevertheless they do what they are told: on being addressed, ‘Citizen peasant, I require of you on peril of your head,’ … there is no longer any retreat.”161 Accordingly, they are only too glad to be let off so cheaply. On Brumaire 19, about seven o’clock in the evening, at Tigery, near Corbeil, twenty-five men “with sabres and pistols in their belts, most of them in the uniform of the National Guards and calling themselves the revolutionary army,” enter the house of Gibbon, an old ploughman, seventy-one years of age, while fifty others guard all egress from it, so that the expedition may not be interfered with. Turlot, captain, and aid-de-camp to General Henriot, wants to know where the master of the house is. “In his bed,” is the reply. “Wake him up.” The old man rises. “Give up your arms.” His wife hands over a fowling-piece, the only arm on the premises. The band immediately falls on the poor man, “strikes him down, ties his hands, and puts a sack over his head,” and the same thing is done to his wife and to eight male and two female servants. “Now, give us the keys of your closets”; they want to be sure that there are no fleur-de-lys or other illegal articles. They search the old man’s pockets, take his keys, and, to despatch business, break into the chests and seize or carry off all the plate, “twenty-six table-dishes, three soup-ladles, three goblets, two snuff-boxes, forty counters, two watches, another gold watch and a gold cross.” “We will draw up a procès-verbal of all this at our leisure in Meaux. Now, where’s your silver? If you don’t say where it is, the guillotine is outside and I will be your executioner.” The old man yields and merely requests to be untied. But it is better to keep him bound, “so as to make him ‘shell out.’ ” They carry him into the kitchen and “put his feet into a heated brazier.” He shouts with pain, and indicates another chest which they break open and then carry off what they find there, “seventy-two francs in coin and five or six thousand livres in assignats, which Gibbon had just received for the requisitions made on him for corn.” Next, they break open the cellar doors, set a cask of vinegar running, carry wine upstairs, eat the family meal, get drunk and, at last, clear out, leaving Gibbon with his feet burnt, and garroted, as well as the other eleven members of his household, quite certain that there will be no pursuit.162 In the towns, especially in federalist districts, however, these robberies are complicated with other assaults. At Lyons, whilst the regular troops are lodged in barracks, the revolutionary army is billeted on the householders, two thousand vile, sanguinary blackguards from Paris, and whom their general, Ronsin himself, calls “scoundrels and brigands,” alleging, in excuse for this, that “honest folks cannot be found for such business.” How they treat their host, his wife and his daughters may be imagined; contemporaries glide over these occurrences and, through decency or disgust, avoid giving details.163 Some simply use brutal force; others get rid of a troublesome husband by the guillotine; in the most exceptional cases they bring their wenches along with them, while the housekeeper has to arouse herself at one o’clock at night and light a fire for the officer who comes in with the jolly company. And yet, there are others still worse, for the worst attract each other. We have seen the revolutionary committee at Nantes, also the representative on mission in the same city; nowhere did the revolutionary Sabbat rage so furiously, and nowhere was there such a traffic in human lives. With such band-leaders as Carrier and his tools on the Committee, one may be sure that the instrumentalists will be worthy.
Accordingly, several members of the Committee themselves oversee executions and lend a hand in the massacres. One of these, Goullin, a creole from St. Domingo, sensual and nervous, accustomed to treating a negro as an animal and a Frenchman as a white negro, a Septembriseur on principle, chief instigator and director of the “drownings,” goes in person to empty the prison of Bouffay, and, ascertaining that deaths, the hospital and releases, had lessened the number of the imprisoned, adds, of his own authority, fifteen names, taken haphazard, to complete his list. Joly, a commissioner on the Committee, very expert in the art of garroting, ties the hands of prisoners together two and two and conducts them to the river.164 Grandmaison, another member of the Committee, a former dancing-master, convicted of two murders and pardoned before the Revolution, strikes down with his sabre the uplifted hands stretched out to him over the planks of the lighter.165 Pinard, another Committee-commissioner, ransoms, steals off into the country and himself kills, through preference, women and children.166 Naturally, the three bands which operate along with them, or under their orders, comprise only men of their species. In the first one, called the Marat company, each of the sixty members swears, on joining it, to adopt Marat’s principles and carry out Marat’s doctrine. Goullin,167 one of the founders, demands in relation to each member, “Isn’t there some one still more rascally? For we must have that sort to bring the aristocrats to reason!”168 After Frimaire 5 “the Maratists” boast of their arms being “tired out” with striking prisoners with the flat of their sabres to make them march to the Loire,169 and we see that, notwithstanding this fatigue, the business suited them, as their officers intrigued with Carrier to be detailed on the “drowning” service and because it was lucrative. The men and women sentenced to death, were first stripped of their clothes down to the shirt, and even the shift; it would be a pity to let valuable objects go to the bottom with their owners, and therefore the drowners divide these amongst themselves; a wardrobe in the house of the adjutant Richard is found full of jewelry and watches.170 This company of sixty must have made handsome profits out of the four or five thousand drowned. The second band, called “the American Hussars,” and who operated in the outskirts, was composed of blacks and mulattoes, numerous enough in this town of privateers. It is their business to shoot women, whom they first violate; “they are our slaves,” they say; “we have won them by the sweat of our brows.” “Those who have the misfortune to be saved by them, become in their hands idiotic in a couple of days; in any event they are rearrested shortly afterwards and shot. The last band, which is styled “The German Legion,” is formed out of German deserters and mercenaries who can scarcely speak French, or not at all, employed by the Military Commission to despatch the Vendéans picked up along the highways, and who are usually shot in groups of twenty five. “I came,” says an eye-witness,171 “to a sort of gorge where there was a semicircular quarry; there, I noticed the corpses of seventy-five women … naked and lying on their backs.” The victims of that day consisted of girls from sixteen to eighteen years of age. One of them says to her conductor, “I am sure you are taking us to die,” and the German replies in his broken jargon, probably with a coarse laugh, “No, it is for a change of air.” They are placed in a row in front of the bodies of the previous day and shot. Those who do not fall, see the guns reloaded; these are again shot and the wounded despatched with the butt ends of the muskets. Some of the Germans then rifle the bodies, while others strip them and “place them on their backs.” To find workmen for this task, it is necessary to descend, not only to the lowest wretches in France but, again, to the brutes of a foreign race and tongue, and yet lower still, to an inferior race degraded by slavery and perverted by license.
Such, from the top to the bottom of the ladder, at every stage of authority and obedience, is the ruling staff of the revolutionary government.172 Through its recruits and its work, through its morals and modes of proceeding, it evokes the almost forgotten image of its predecessors, for there is an image of it in the period from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. At that time also, society was frequently overcome and ravaged by barbarians; dangerous nomads, malevolent outcasts, bandits turned into soldiers suddenly pounced down on an industrious and peaceful population. Such was the case in France with the “Routiers” and the “Tard-venus,” at Rome with the army of the Constable of Bourbon, in Flanders with the bands of the Duke of Alba and the Duke of Parma, in Westphalia and in Alsace, with Wallenstein’s veterans, and those of Bernard of Saxe-Weimar. They lived upon a town or province for six months, fifteen months, two years, until the town or province was exhausted, alone armed, master of the inhabitant, using and abusing things and persons according to their caprices. But they were declared bandits, calling themselves scorchers (ecorcheurs), riders and adventurers, and not pretenders to being humanitarian philosophers. Moreover, beyond an immediate and personal enjoyment, they demanded nothing; they employed brutal force only to satiate their greed, their cruelty, their lust. The latter add to private appetites a far greater devastation, the systematic and gratuitous ravages enforced upon them by the superficial theory with which they are imbued.
[1. ]“The Revolution,” ii., pp. 298–304, and p. 351.
[2. ]Should the foregoing testimony be deemed insufficient, the following, by those foreigners who had good opportunities for judging, may be added: (Gouverneur Morris, letter of December 3, 1794.) “The French are plunged into an abyss of poverty and slavery, a slavery all the more degrading because the men who have plunged them into it merit the utmost contempt.”—Meissner, “Voyage à Paris” (at the end of 1795), p. 160. “The (revolutionary) army and the revolutionary committees were really associations organised by crime for committing every species of injustice, murder, rapine, and brigandage with impunity. The government had deprived all men of any talent or integrity of their places and given these to its creatures, that is to say, to the dregs of humanity.”—Baron Brinckmann, Chargé d’Affaires from Sweden. (Letter of July 11, 1799.) “I do not believe that the different classes of society in France are more corrupt than elsewhere; but I trust that no people may ever be ruled by as imbecile and cruel scoundrels as those that have ruled France since the advent of its new state of freedom. … The dregs of the people, stimulated from above by sudden and violent excitement, have everywhere brought to the surface the scum of immorality.”
[3. ]Fleury, “Baboeuf,” 139, 150.—Granier de Cassagnac, “Histoire du Directoire,” ii., 24–170.—(Trial of Baboeuf, passim.) The above quotations are from documents seized in Baboeuf’s house, also from affidavits made by witnesses, and especially by Captain Grizel.
[4. ]Moniteur, session of September 5, 1793. “Since our virtue, our moderation, our philosophic ideas, are of no use to us, let us be brigands for the good of the people; let us be brigands!”
[5. ]An expression of Couthon’s on Javogues.
[6. ]Baboeuf, “Le Tribune du Peuple,” No. 40. Apologising for the men of September, he says that “they are simply priests, the sacrificers of a just immolation for public security. If anything is to be regretted it is that a larger and more general Second of September did not sweep away all starvers and all despoilers.”
[7. ]Granier de Cassagnac, ii., 90. (Deposition of Grisel.) Rossignol says, “That snuff-box is all I have to live on.” “Massard could not obtain a pair of boots belonging to him at the shoemaker’s, because he had no money.”
[8. ]Archives Nationales, Cf. 3,1167. (Report of Robin, Nivose 9.) “The women always had a deliberative voice in the popular assemblies of the Pantheon section,” and in all the other clubs they attended the meetings.
[9. ]Moniteur, xix., 103. (Meeting of the Jacobin club, Dec. 28, 1793.) Dubois-Crancé puts the following question to each member who passes the weeding-out vote: “What have you done that would get you hung in case of a counter-revolution?”
[10. ]Ibid., xvii., 410. (Speech by Montaut, Jacobin club, Brumaire 21, year II.)
[11. ]Dauban, “Paris in 1794,” 142. (Police report of Ventose 13, year II.)
[12. ]Morellet, “Mémoires,” ii.
[13. ]Dauban, 26, 35. (Note drawn up in January, 1794, probably by the physician Quevremont de Lamotte.)—Ibid., 82.—Cf. Morellet, ii., 434–470. (Details on the issue of certificates of civism, in September, 1793.)
[14. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167. (Report by Latour-Lamontagne, Ventose 1, year II.) “It is giving these associations too much influence; it is destroying the jurisdiction of the general assemblies (of the section.) We find accordingly, that these are being deserted and that the cabalists and intriguers succeed in making popular clubs the centres of public business in order to control affairs more easily.”
[15. ]Dauban, ibid., 203. (Report by Bacon, Ventose 19.) “In the general assembly of the Maison Commune section all citizens of any rank in the companies have been weeded out. The slightest stain of incivism, the slightest negligence in the service, caused their rejection. Out of twenty-five who passed censorship—nineteen at least were rejected. … Most of them are either shoe-makers, cooks, carpenters, tailors, or eating-house keepers.”
[16. ]Ibid., 141. (Report by Charmont, Ventose 12.)—Ibid, 140. “There is only one way, it is said at the Café des Grands Hommes, on the boulevard, to keep from being arrested, and that is to cabal for admission into the civil and revolutionary committees when there happens to be a vacancy. Before salaries were attached to these places nobody wanted them; since that, there are disputes as to who shall be appointed.”
[17. ]Ibid., 307. (Report of Germinal 7.)
[18. ]Wallon, “Histoire du Tribunal Revolutionaire,” iv., 129.
[19. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 46. (Act of the Committee of Public Safety, Prairial 15.) “Citizens Pillon, Gouste and Né, members of the Revolutionary Committee of the Marat section, are removed. Their duties will be performed by citizens Martin, Majon, and Merel. Manville, rue de la Liberté, No. 32, is appointed on the said Revolutionary Committee to complete it, composed only of eleven members.” And other similar acts.
[20. ]Duverger, decree of Frimaire 14, year II. “The application of revolutionary laws and measures of general security and public safety is confided to the municipalities and revolutionary committees.” See, in chapter ii., the extent of the domain thus defined. It embraces nearly everything. It suffices to run through the registers of a few of the revolutionary committees, to verify this enormous power and see how they interfere in every detail of individual life.
[21. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167. (Report, Nivose 1, year II., by Leharival.)
[22. ]Dauban, ibid., 307. (Report of March 29, 1794.) It here relates to the “Piques” Section, Place Vendome.
[23. ]Dauban, 308. (Note found among Danton’s papers and probably written by the physician, Quevremont de Lamotte.)
[24. ]Dauban, ibid., 125. (Report of Bérard, Ventose 10.) In the words of a woman belonging to the Bonne-Novelle section: “My husband has been in prison four months. And what for? He was one of the first at the Bastille: he has always refused places so that the good sans-culottes might have them, and, if he has made enemies, it was because he was unwilling to see these filled by ignoramuses or new-comers, who, vociferating and apparently thirsting for blood, have created a barrier of partisans around them.”
[25. ]Dauban, ibid., 307. (Report of March 29, 1794.)
[26. ]Ibid., 150. (Report of Ventose 14.)—Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167. (Reports of Nivose 9 and 25.) “A great many citizens are found in the sections who are called out after the meeting, to get forty sous. I notice that most of them are masons, and even a few coach drivers belonging to the nation, who can do without the nation’s indemnity, which merely serves them for drink to make them very noisy.” “The people complain, because the persons to whom the forty sous are given, to attend the section assemblies, do nothing all day, being able to work at different trades … and depending on these forty sous.”
[27. ]Dauban, ibid., 312. (Note by Quevremont.)—Moniteur, xviii., 568. (Meeting of the Commune, Frimaire 11, year II.) “The Beaurepaire section advertises that wishing to put a stop to the cupidity of the wine-dealers of the arrondissement, it has put seals on all their cellars.”
[28. ]Dauban, ibid., 345. (Order of the day by Henriot, Floréal 9.)
[29. ]Mallet-Dupan, ii., 56. (March, 1794.)
[30. ]Buchez et Roux, xxvii., 10. (Speech by Barbaroux, May 14, 1793.)—Report on the papers found in Robespierre’s apartment, by Courtois, 285. (Letter by Collot d’Herbois Frimaire 3, year II., demanding that Paris Jacobins be sent to him at Lyons.) “If I could have asked for our old ones I should have done … but they are necessary at Paris, almost all of them having been made mayors.”
[31. ]Meissner, “Voyage à Paris” (at the end of 1795), 160. “Persons who can neither read nor write obtain the places of accountants of more or less importance.”—Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 324. (Denunciations of Pio to the club, against his colleagues.) Dauban, ibid., 35. (Note by Quevremont, Jan., 1794.) “The honest man who knows how to work cannot get into the ministerial bureaux, especially those of the War and Navy departments, as well as those of Commerce and of the Departments, without having his feelings tried.—Offices are mostly filled by creatures of the Commune who very often have neither talent nor integrity. Again, the denumciations, always welcomed, however frivolous and baseless they may be, turn everything upside down.”
[32. ]Moniteur, xxiv., 397. (Speech of Dubois-Crancé in the Convention Floréal 16, year III.)—Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167. (Report by Rolin, Nivose 7, year II.) “The same complaints are heard against the civil Commissioners of the section, most of whom are unintelligent, not even knowing how to read.”
[33. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 1411. (August, 1793.) “Plan adopted” for the organisation of the Police, “excepting executive modifications.” In fact, some months later, the number of claqueurs, male and female, is much greater, and finally reaches a thousand. (Beaulieu, “Essais,” v., 110.)—The same plan comprehends fifteen agents at two thousand four hundred francs, “selected from the frequenters of the clubs,” to revise the daily morning lists; thirty at one thousand francs, for watching popular clubs, and ninety to twelve hundred francs for watching the section assemblies.
[34. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 4,436. (Letter of Bouchotte, Minister of War, Prairial 5, year II.) “The appointment of Ronsin, as well as of all his staff, again excited public opinion. The Committee, to assure itself, sent the list to the Jacobin club, where they were accepted.”—Ibid., AF., II., 58. “Paris, Brumaire 11, year II., club of the Friends of Liberty and Equality, in session at the former Jacobin club, rue St. Honoré. List of the citizens who are to set out for Lyons and act as national commissioners. (Here follow their names.) All the citizens designated have undergone the inspection of the said club, at its meeting this day.” (Here follow the signatures of the President and three secretaries.)—“Journal des Débats et Correspondence de la Société des Jacobins, No. 545, 5th day of the 3d month of the year II.—In relation to the formation of a new Central club: “Terrasson is of opinion that this club may become liberticide, and demands a committee to examine into it and secure its extinction. The committee demanded by Terrasson is appointed.” It is evident that they hold on energetically to this monopoly.—Cf. Moniteur, xix., 637. (Ventose 13.) Motion adopted in the Jacobin club, obliging the ministers to turn out of office any individual excluded from the club.
[35. ]Dauban, ibid., 307. (Report of Germinal 9.)
[36. ]Moniteur, xxii., 353. (Session of Brumaire 20, year III. Reclamation made by M. Bélanger at the bar of the Convention.)
[37. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 40. (Acts passed by the Committee of Public Safety at the dates indicated.) Beaulieu, “Essais,” v., 200. (Ibid.) The registers of the Committee of Public Safety contain a number of similar gratuities paid to provincial clubs and patriots, for instance, AF., II. 58 (Brumaire 8), fifty thousand francs to Laplanche, and (Brumaire 9), fifty thousand francs to Couthon, “to maintain public spirit in Calvados, to revive public spirit in Lyons,” “to aid, as required, the less successful patriots who zealously devote their time to the service of their country.”
[38. ]Dauban, ibid., 171 (report of Ventose 17), and 243 (report of Ventose 25), on the civil-committees and revolutionary committees, who order meat served to them before serving it to the sick, and who likewise serve the good friends of their wives.—Ibid., 146. (Report of Ventose 10.) … Archives Nationales, F7, 2,475. (Register of the deliberations of the Revolutionary Committee of the Piques sections, Brumaire 27, year II.) “The Committee orders that the two-horse cab belonging to Lemarche be henceforth at the service of the section and of the Committee when measures of security are concerned.” In this register, and others of the same series, we clearly see the inside of a committee and its vast despotism. Style and orthography, with almost all, are of the same low order.
[39. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 1411. (Report of Aug. 21 and 22, 1793.) “General Henriot sent me several … who made use of the authority of the Committee of Public Safety and General Security, as well as of that which he delegated to me, to make domiciliary visits at the houses of individuals who were not assured patriots; but that did not warrant their receiving money and even abstracting it.”
[40. ]Dauban, ibid., 36 and 48. (Case of the Notary, Brichard.)
[41. ]Cf. “The Revolution,” ii., 302, 303.—Mercier, “Paris pendant la Révolution,” i., 151.—Moniteur, xviii., 660. (Session of Frimaire 24, speech by Lecomtre in the Convention.)—On robberies and the bribes paid, see, among other documents, “Mémoires sur les Prisons,” i., 290. (Eighty thousand francs of bribes given to the head of the police force by Perisial, keeper of an eating-house, for the privilege of feeding prisoners in St. Lazare.)
[42. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxv., 77. (Trial of Fouquier-Tinville.) Testimony of Robillard: “Another day, in the general assembly, he struck a citizen with his sabre.”
[43. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxv., 407. (Lists in Robespierre’s handwriting.)
[44. ]Miot de Melito, “Mémoires,” i., 46–51.—Buchot is not the only one of his species in the ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the archives of this ministry, vol. 324, may be found the sayings and doings of a certain Pio, an Italian refugee who slipped into the place, simulating poverty, and displaying patriotism, and who denounces his chief and colleagues.—The ex-notary Pigeot, condemned to twenty years in irons and put in the pillory, Frimaire 9, year III., will come to the surface; he is encountered under the Directory as introducer of ambassadors.—Concerning one of the envoys of the Directory to Switzerland, here is a note by Mallet-Dupan. (“Anecdotes manuscrites,” October, 1797.) “The Directorial ambassador, who has come to exact from the Swiss the expulsion of the body-guard, is named Mingot, of Belfort, a relation of Rewbell’s, former body-guard to M. le Comte d’Artois.—He came to Zurich with a prostitute, a seamstress of Zurich, established in Berne. He was living with her at the expense of the Zurich government. Having invited the family of this creature, that is to say a common horse-driver with his wife and some other persons, to dinner, they drank and committed such excesses that the driver’s wife, who was big with child, gave birth to it in the midst of the banquet. This creature gave Mingot a disease which has laid him up at Basle.”
[45. ]“The Revolution,” ii., 338, 348, 354.
[46. ]Martel, “Types Révolutionnaires,” 136–144.—The Minister of War appoints Henriot brigadier-general, July 3, 1793, and major-general on the 19th of September, and says in a postscript, “Please communicate to me the order of your services,” unknown in the ministry because they were of no account.—On the orgies at Choisy-sur-Seine, v. (Archives, W., 2, 500–501), see investigation of Thermidor 18 and 19, year II., made at Boisy-sur-Seine by Blache, agent of the Committee of General Security. Boulanger, brigadier-general, and Henriot’s first lieutenant, was an ex-companion jeweller.
[47. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 1411. Orders of the day by Henriot, September 16, Vendémiaire 29, year II., and Brumaire 19, year II. Many of these orders of the day are published in Dauban (“Paris en 1794”), p. 33. “Let our enemies pile up their property, build houses and palaces, let them have them, what do we care, we republicans, we do not want them! All we need to shelter us is a cabin, and as for wealth, simply the habits, the virtues and the love of our country. Headquarters, etc.”—P. 43: “Yesterday evening a fire broke out in the Grand Augustins. … Everybody worked at it and it was put out in a very short time. Under the ancient régime the fire would have lasted for days. Under the system of freemen the fire lasted only an hour. What a difference! … Headquarters, etc.”
[48. ]Wallon, “Histoire du Tribunal Révolutionnaire de Paris,” v. 252, 420. (Names and qualifications of the members of the Commune of Paris, guillotined Thermidor 10 and 11.) The professions and qualifications of some of its members are given in Eymery’s Biographical Dictionary, in Morellet’s Memoirs and in Arnault’s Souvenirs.—Moniteur, xvi., 710. (Verdicts of the revolutionary Tribunal, Fructidor 15, year II.) Forty-three members of the civil or revolutionary committees, sectional commissioners, officers of the National Guard and of the cannoneers, signed the list of the Council-general of the Commune as present on the 9th of Thermidor and are put on trial as Robespierre’s adherents. But they promptly withdrew their signatures, all being acquitted except one. They are leaders in the Jacobin quarter and are of the same sort and condition as their brethren of the Hôtel-de-Ville. One only, an ex-collector of rentes, may have had an education; the rest are carpenters, floor-tilers, shoemakers, tailors, wine-dealers, eating-house keepers, cartmen, bakers, hair-dressers, and joiners. Among them we find one ex-stone-cutter, one ex-office runner, one ex-domestic, and two sons of Samson the executioner.
[49. ]Morellet, “Mémoires,” i., 436–472.
[50. ]On the ascendency of the talkers of this class see Dauban (“Paris en 1794,” pp. 118–143). Details on an all-powerful clothes-dealer in the Lombards Section. If we may believe the female citizens of the Assembly “he said everywhere that whoever was disagreeable to him should be turned out of the popular club.” (Ventose 13, year II.)
[51. ]Arnault, “Souvenirs d’un Sexagénaire,” iii., 111. Details on another member of the Commune, Bergot, ex-employee at the Halle-aux-Cuirs and police administrator, may be found in “Mémoires des Prisons,” i., 232, 239, 246, 289, 290. Nobody treated the prisoners more brutally, who protested against the foul food served out to them, than he. “It is too good for b—— who are going to be guillotined.” … “He got drunk with the turnkeys and with the commissioners themselves. One day he staggered in walking, and spoke only in hiccoughs: he would go in in that condition. The house-guard refused to recognize him; he was arrested” and the concierge had to repeat her declarations to make the officer of the post “give up the hog.”
[52. ]“Mémoires sur les Prisons,” i., 211. (“Tableau Historique de St. Lazare.”) The narrator is put into prison in the rue de Sèvres in October, 1793.—II., 186. (“An historical account of the jail in the rue de Sèvres.”) The narrator was confined there during the last months of the Reign of Terror.
[53. ]A game of chance.
[54. ]“Un Séjour en France de 1792 à 1795,” 281. “We had an appointment in the afternoon with a person employed by the Committee on National Domains; he was to help my friend with her claims. This man was originally a valet to the Marquise’s brother; on the outbreak of the Revolution he set up a shop, failed, and became a rabid Jacobin, and, at last, member of a revolutionary committee. As such, he found a way … to intimidate his creditors and obtain two discharges of his indebtedness without taking the least trouble to pay his debts.” … “I know an old lady who was kept in prison three months for having demanded from one of these patriots three hundred livres which he owed her.” (June 3, 1795.) “I have generally noticed that the republicans are either of the kind I have just indicated, coffee-house waiters, jockeys, gamblers, bankrupts, and low scribblers, or manual laborers more earnest in their principles, more ignorant and more brutal, all spending what they have earned in vulgar indulgence.”
[55. ]Schmidt, “Tableaux Historiques de la Révolution Française,” ii., 248, 249. (Agent’s reports, Frimaire 8, year III.) “The prosecution of Carrier is approved by the public, likewise the condemnation of the former revolutionary committee called the “Bonnet-Rouge.” Ten of its members are condemned to twenty years in irons. The public is overjoyed.”—Ibid., (Frimaire 9), “The people rushed in crowds to the square of the old commune building to see the members of the former revolutionary committee of the Bonnet-Rouge sections, who remained seated on the bench until six o’clock, in the light of flambeaux. They had to put up with many reproaches and much humiliation.”—“Un Séjour en France,” 286, (June 6, 1795). “I have just been interrupted by a loud noise and cries under my window; I heard the names Scipio and Solon distinctly pronounced in a jeering and insulting tone of voice. I sent Angelique to see what was the matter and she tells me that it is a crowd of children following a shoemaker of the neighborhood who was member of a revolutionary committee … and had called himself Scipio Solon. As he had been caught in several efforts at stealing he could no longer leave his shop without being reviled for his robberies and hooted at under his Greek and Roman names.”
[56. ]Barère, “Mémoires,” ii., 324.
[57. ]Moniteur, xxii., 742. (Report by Cambon, Frimaire 6, year II.)—Ibid., 22.—Report by Lindet, September 20, 1794): “The land and navy forces, war and other services, deprive agricultural pursuits and other professions of more than one million five hundred thousand citizens. It would cost the Republic less to support six million men in all the communes.”—“Le Departement des Affaires Étrangérès,” by Fr. Masson, 382. (According to “Paris à la fin du dix-huitieme siècle,” by Pujoulx, year IX.): “At Paris alone there are more than thirty thousand (government) clerks; six thousand at the most do the necessary writing; the rest cut away quills, consume ink and blacken paper. In old times, there were too many clerks in the bureaux relatively to the work; now, there are three times as many, and there are some who think that there are not enough.”
[58. ]“Souvenirs de M. Hua,” a parliamentary advocate, p. 96. (A very accurate picture of the bourg Coucy-le-Chateau, in Aisne, from 1792 to 1794.)—“Archives des Affaires Étrangérès,” vol. 334. (Letter of the agents, Thionville, Ventose 24, year II.) The district of Thionville is very patriotic, submits to the maximum and requisitions, but not to the laws prohibiting outside worship and religious assemblies. “The apostles of Reason preached in vain to the people, telling them that, up to this time, they had been deceived and that now was the time to throw off the yoke of prejudice: ‘we are willing to believe that, thus far, we have been deceived, but who will guarantee us that you will not deceive us in your turn?’ ”
[59. ]Lagros: “La Revolution telle qu’elle est.” (Unpublished correspondence of the Committee of Public Safety, i., 366. Letter of Prieur de la Marne.) “In general, the towns are patriotic; but the rural districts are a hundred leagues removed from the Revolution. … Great efforts will be necessary to bring them up to the level of the Revolution.”
[60. ]According to the statistics of 1866 (published in 1869) a district of one thousand square kilometres contains on an average, thirty-three communes above five hundred souls, twenty-three from five hundred to one thousand, seventeen bourgs and small towns from one thousand to five thousand, and one average town, or very large one, about five thousand. Taking into account the changes that have taken place in seventy years, one may judge from these figures of the distribution of the population in 1793. This distribution explains why, instead of forty-five thousand revolutionary committees, there were only twenty-one thousand five hundred.
[61. ]“Souvenirs des M. Hua,” 179. “This country (Coucy-le-Chateau) protected by its bad roads and still more by its nullity, belonged to that small number in which the revolutionary turmoil was least felt.”
[62. ]Among other documents of use in composing this tableau I must cite, as first in importance, the five files containing all the documents referring to the mission of the representative Albert, in Aisne and Marne. (Ventose and Germinal, year III.) Nowhere do we find more precise details of the sentiments of the peasant, of the common laborer and of the lower bourgeois from 1792 to 1795. (Archives Nationales, D. §§ 2 to 5.)
[63. ]Dauban, “La Demagogie en 1793,” xii. (The expression of an old peasant, near St. Emilion, to M. Vatel engaged in collecting information on the last days of Pétion, Guadet and Buzot.)
[64. ]Archives Nationales, D. § I., 5. (Petition of Claude Defert, miller, and national agent of Turgy.) Numbers of mayors, municipal officers, national agents, administrators and notables of districts and departments solicit successors, and Albert compels many of them to remain in office.—(Joint letter of the entire municipality of Landreville; letter of Charles, stone-cutter, mayor of Trannes; Claude Defert, miller, national agent of Turgy; of Elegny, meat-dealer; of a wine-grower; municipal official at Merrex, etc.) The latter writes: “The Republic is great and generous; it does not desire that its children should ruin themselves in attending to its affairs; on the contrary, its object is to give salaried (emolumentaires) places to those who have nothing to live on.”—Another, Mageure, appointed mayor of Bar-sur-Seine writes, Pluviose 29, year III.: “I learned yesterday that some persons of this community would like to procure for me the insidious gift of the mayoralty,” and he begs Albert to turn aside this cup.
[65. ]“Souvenirs de M. Hua,” 178–205. “M. P——, mayor of Crépy-au-Mont, knew how to restrain some low fellows who would have been only too glad to revolutionise his village. … And yet he was a republican. … One day, speaking of the revolutionary system, he said: ‘They always say that it will not hold on; meanwhile, it sticks like lime.’ ” “A general assembly of the inhabitants of Coucy and its outskirts was held, in which everybody was obliged to undergo an examination, stating his name, residence, birth-place, present occupation, and what he had done during the Revolution.” Hua avoids telling that he had been a representative in the Legislative Assembly, a notorious fact in the neighborhood. “Not a voice was raised to compromise me.” Ibid., 183. (Reply of the Coucy Revolutionary Committee to that of Meaux.)
[66. ]“Frochot,” by Louis Passy, 175. (Letter of Pajot, member of the Revolutionary Committee of Troyes, Vendémiaire, year III.)—Archives Nationales, F7, 4,421. (Register of the Revolutionary Committee of Troyes.) Brumaire 27, year II. Incarceration of various suspects, among others of “Lerouge, former lawyer, under suspicion of having constantly and obstinately refused revolutionary offices.” Also, a person named Corps, for “having refused the presidency of the district tribunal at the time of its organisation, under the pretext of consulting the Chambre des Comptes; also for being the friend of suspects, and for having accepted office only after the Revolution had assumed an imposing character.”
[67. ]Marcelin Boudet, “Les Conventionnels d’Auvergne,” 161. (Justification of Etienne Bonarmé, the last months of 1794.)
[68. ]Paris, “Histoire de Joseph Lebon,” ii., 92. (Declaration by Guérard, lawyer, appointed judge at Cambrai, by the Cambrai Revolutionary Committee.)—Ibid., 54. (Declaration by Lemerre, appointed juryman without his knowledge, in the Cambrai court.) “What was my surprise, I, who never was on a jury in my life! The summons was brought to me at a quarter to eleven (à onze heur moin un car—specimen of the orthography) and I had to go at eleven without having time to say good-by to my family.”
[69. ]Report by Courtois on the papers found in Robespierre’s domicile, 370. (Letter of Maignet to Payan, administrator of the department of Drôme, Germinal 20, year II.) “You know the dearth of subjects here. … Give me the names of a dozen outspoken republicans. … If you cannot find them in this department (Vaucluse) hunt for them either in the Drôme or the Isère, or in any other. I should like those adapted to a revolutionary Tribunal. I should even like, in case of necessity, to have some that are qualified to act as national agents.”
[70. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vols. 322 to 334, and 1409 to 1411.—These agents reside in Nismes, Marseilles, Toulouse, Tarbes, Bordeaux, Auch, Rochefort, Brest, Bergues, Givèt, Metz, Thionville, Strasbourg, Colmar, Belfort, and Grenoble, and often betake themselves to towns in the vicinity. The fullest reports are those of Chépy, at Grenoble, whose correspondence is worthy of publication; although an ultra Jacobin, he was brought before the revolutionary Tribunal as a moderate, in Ventose, year II. Having survived (the Revolution) he became under the Empire a general Commissary of Police at Brest. Almost all of them are veritable Jacobins, absolutist at bottom, and they became excellent despotic tools.
[71. ]Buchez et Roux, xxx., 425.—Twenty-four commissioners, drawn by lot from the Jacobins of Paris, are associated with Collot d’Herbois. One of them, Marino, becomes president of the temporary Committee of Surveillance, at Lyons. Another, Parrien, is made president of the Revolutionary Committee.—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 59. (Deliberations in the Paris Jacobin Club, appointing three of their number to go to Tonnerre and request the Committee of Public Safety “to give them the necessary power, to use it as circumstances may require, for the best good of the Republic.” Frimaire 6, year II.)—Order of the Committee of Public Safety, allowing two thousand francs to the said parties for their travelling expenses.”—Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 333. The agents sent to Marseilles affix their signatures, “sans-culottes, of Paris,” and one of them, Brutus, becomes president of the Marseilles revolutionary Tribunal.
[72. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 49. Papers relating to the revolutionary tax of Belfort, giving all the amounts and names. (Brumaire 30, year II.) Here is the formula: “Citizen X … (male or female) will pay in one hour the sum of ———, under penalty of being considered suspect and treated as such.”
[73. ]“Recueil des Pièces Authentiques Concernant la Révolution à Strasbourg,” i., 128, 187. (Expressions of the representative Baudot in a letter dated Brumaire 29, year II.)
[74. ]Archives Nationales: the acts and letters of the representatives on mission are classed by departments.—On the delegates of the representatives on mission, I will cite but one text. (Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 333, letter of Garrigues, Auch, Pluviose 24, year II.) “A delegate of Dartigoyte goes to I’Isle and, in the popular club, wants the curé of the place to get rid of his priestly attributes. The man answers, so they tell me, that he would cheerfully abstain from his duties, but that, if, in addition to this, they used force he would appeal to the Convention, which had no idea of interfering with freedom of opinion. ‘Very well,’ replied Dartigoyte’s emissary, ‘I appeal to a gendarme,’ and he at once ordered his arrest.”
[75. ]Lallier, “Une Commission D’énquête et de Propagande,” p. 7. (It is composed of twelve members, selected by the club of Nantes, who overrun the district of Ancenis, six thousand francs of fees being allowed it.)—Babeau, ii., 280. (Despatch of sixty commissioners, each at six francs a day by the Troyes administration, to ascertain the state of the supplies on hand, Prairial, year II.)
[76. ]For example, at Bordeaux and at Troyes.—Archives Nationales F7, 4,421. Register of the Revolutionary Committee of Troyes, fol. 164. Two members of the Committee betake themselves to the commune of Lusigny, dismiss the mayor and justice, and appoint in the place of the latter “the former curé of the country, who, some time ago, abjured sacerdotal fanaticism.”—Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 332. (Letter of Desgranges, Bordeaux, Brumaire 15, year II.) The representatives have just instituted “a revolutionary committee of surveillance composed of twelve members, selected with the greatest circumspection. All the committees established in the department are obliged to correspond with it, and fulfill its requisitions.”
[77. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 58. (Letter of Javogues to Collot d’Herbois, Brumaire 28, year II.)
[78. ]“Recueil des Pièces Authentiques,” etc., i., 195. (Acts passed Jan. 21, 1793.)
[79. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 326. (Letters from Brutus, September 24; from Topino-Lebrun, jr., September 25 and October 6, 1793.)—Vol. 330. (Letters from Brutus, Nivose 6, year II.) The character of the agent is often indicated orthographically. For example, vol. 334, letter from Galon-Boyer, Brumaire 18, year II. “The public spirit is (et for est) generally bad. Those who claim to be patriots know no restraint (frin for frein). The rest are lethargic (en létargie) and federalism appears innate.”
[80. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 1411. (Letter of Haupt, Brumaire 26, year II.)—Vol. 333. (Letter of Blessman and Haüser, Pluviose 4, year II.)
[81. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 333. (Letter of Chartres and of Caillard, Commune Affranchie, Nivose 21.)—Vol. 331. (Letters of Desgranges, at Bordeaux, Brumaire 8 and Frimaire 3.) “The offerings in plate and coin multiply indefinitely; all goes right. The court-martial has condemned Dudon to death, son of the ex-procureur-général in the former parliament at Bordeaux, Roullat, procureur-syndic of the department, Sallenave, merchant. These executions excite sympathy, but nobody murmurs.”
[82. ]Ibid., vol. 333. (Letter of Cuny, sr., Nivose 20.) Vols. 331, 332. (Letters of Chépy, passim, and especially those dated Frimaire 11.)—Vol. 329. (Letter of Chépy, August 24, 1793.) “At Annecy, the women have cut down the liberty-pole and burnt the archives of the club and of the commune. At Chambéry, the people wanted to do the same thing.”—Ibid. (September 18, 1793.) “The inhabitants around Mont Blanc show neither spirit nor courage; the truth is, an antirevolutionary spirit animates all minds.”—Ibid. (Letter of August 8, 1793.) “Not only have the citizens of Grenoble, who were drawn by lot, not set out on the expedition to Lyons, but, even of those who have obeyed the laws, several have returned with their arms and baggage. No commune between St. Laurent and Lyons would march. The rural municipalities, badly tainted with the federal malady, ventured to give the troops very bad quarters, especially those who had been drafted.”
[83. ]Ibid. (Letter of Cuny, jr., Brest, Brumaire 6.) “There are, in general, very few patriots at Brest; the inhabitants are nearly all moderates.”—(Letter of Gadolle, Dunkirk, July 26, 1793.)—(Letter of Simon, Metz, Nivose, year II.) “Yesterday, on the news of the capture of Toulon being announced in the theatre, … I noticed that only about one-third of the spectators gave way to patriotic enthusiasm; the other two-thirds remained cold, or put on a long face.”
[84. ]Ibid. (Letter of Haupt, Belfort, September 1, 1793.)
[85. ]Report by Courtois on the papers found in Robespierre’s domicile, p. 274. (Letter of Darthé, Ventose 29, year II.)
[86. ]“Tableau des Prisons de Toulouse,” by citizen Pescayre (published in year III.), p. 101.
[87. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 4,421. (Register of the Revolutionary Committee, established at Troyes, Brumaire 11, year II.)—Albert Babeau, vol. ii., passim.—Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 332, Chépy (letter, Brumaire 6, Grenoble). “The sections had appointed seven committees of surveillance. Although weeded out by the club, they nevertheless alarmed the sans-culottes. … Representative Petit-Jean has issued an order, directing that there shall be but one committee at Grenoble composed of twenty-one members. This measure is excellent and ensures the triumph of sans-culotteism.”—Archives Nationales, F7, 4,434. (Letter of Pérrieu to Brissot, Bordeaux, March 9, 1793.) Before June 2, the national club “of Bordeaux, composed of Maratists, did not comprise more than eight or ten individuals at most.”—Moniteur, xxii., 133. (Speech by Thibeaudeau on the popular club of Poitiers, Vendémiaire 11, year III.)—Ibid. (Session of Brumaire 5, year III., letter of Calès, and session of Brumaire 17, year III., report by Calès.) “The popular club of Dijon made all neighboring administrative bodies, citizens and districts tremble. All were subject to its laws, and three or four men in it made them. This club and the municipality were one body.” “The Terror party does not exist here, or, if it does exist, it does not amount to much: out of twenty thousand inhabitants there are not six who can legitimately be suspected of belonging to it.”
[88. ]Baroly, “Les Jacobins Demasqués,” (iv. 8vo., of 8pp., year III). “The Jacobin club, with its four hundred active members at Paris, and the four thousand others in the provinces, not less devoted, represent the living force of the Revolution.”
[89. ]Archives Nationales, D. § I., 10. (Orders of representatives Delacroix, Louchet, and Legendre, Nivose 12, year II.) “On the petition of the Committee of Surveillance of Evreux, which sets forth that all its members are without means, and that it will be impossible for them to continue their duties since they are without resources for supporting their families,” the representatives allow three of them two hundred and seventy francs each, and a fourth one hundred and eighty francs, as a gratuity (outside of the three francs a day).
[90. ]Ibid. AF., II., iii. (Order of Albitte and Laporte, Prairial 18, year II.)
[91. ]Albert Babeau, ii., 154–157.—Moniteur, xxii., 425. (Session of Brumaire 13, year III. Speech by Cambon.) “A government was organised in which surveillance alone cost five hundred and ninety-one millions per annum. Every man who tilled the ground or worked in a shop, at once abandoned his pursuit for a place on the Revolutionary Committees … where he got five francs a day.”
[92. ]“Tableau des Prisons de Toulouse,” by citizen Pescare, 162, 166, 435.
[93. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, “La Justice Révolutionaire,” (second edition) p. xix.—Ibid., xiv. At Rochefort there is on the revolutionary Tribunal a mason, a shoemaker, a calker, and a cook; at Bordeaux, on the military commission, an actor, a wine-clerk, a druggist, a baker, a journeyman-gilder, and later, a cooper and a leather-dresser.
[94. ]I give this as I got it in my conversations with old peasants.—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 111. (Order of the Representative Ichon, Messidor 18, year II.) “The popular club of Chinon will be immediately regenerated. Citizens (I omit their names), the following showing their occupations: shoemaker, policeman, sabot-maker, cooper, carter, shoemaker, joiner, butcher, carpenter, and mason, will form the committee which is to do the weeding-out and choose successors among those that offer to become members of the club.”—Ibid., D., §1, 10. (Orders of the Representatives Delacroix, Louchet, and Legendre, on mission in the department of Seine-Inférieure for the purpose of removing, at Conchez, the entire administration, and for forming there a new revolutionary committee, with full powers, Frimaire 9, year II.) The members of the committee, the nature of which is indicated, are two coopers, one gardener, two carpenters, one merchant, a coach-driver, and a tailor. (One finds in the archives, in the correspondence of the representatives, plenty of orders appointing authorities of the same sort.)
[95. ]Albert Babeau, ii., 296.
[96. ]Sa profession est fame de Paillot-Montabert; son revenu est vivre de ses revenus; ces relation son d’une fame nous ny portons pas d’atantion; ces opignons nous les presumons semblable, à ceux de son mary.
[97. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 4,421. Order of the Committee of Surveillance of the third section of Troyes, refusing civic certificates to seventy-two persons, or sending them before the Central Committee as “marchands d’argant, aristocrate, douteux, modére, intrigant, egoiste fanatique. Fait et areté par nous, membre du commité le ans et jour susdit.”—“Mémoire des Commissaires de la 5e seiscion dite de la liberté nommé par le citoyen de Baris (Paris) pour faire les visite de l’argenteri ché les citoyens de la liste fait par les citoyens Diot et Bailly et Jaquin savoir depence du 13 et 14 et 15 Frimaire pour leur nouriture du troyes jour monte à 24 fr.
[98. ]Albert Babeau, ii., 154.
[99. ]Archives Nationales, D., § 1, 5. (Mission of Representative Albert, in Aube and in Marne.)—These notes are made on the spot, with a thorough knowledge of the situation, by zealous republicans who are not without common-sense and of average honesty (chiefly in Pluviose and Ventose, year III).—Letter of Albert to the directories of the two departments.—Prairial 3, year II. “I am satisfied, during the course of my mission, of the necessity of reorganising the municipalities throughout both departments.”
[100. ]Ibid. Orders of Albert, Ventose 5, and Pluviose 29, year III., reorganising the courts and administrations in the districts of Ervy, Arcis and Nogent-sur-Seine, with a tabular statement of the names of those removed and the reasons for so doing.
[101. ]Petition of Jean Nicolas Antoine, former member of the Directory of the district of Troyes for twenty-eight months. (Ventose 9, year III.) Shut up in Troyes, he asks permission to go to Paris, “I have a small lot of goods which it is necessary for me to sell in Paris. It is my native town and I know more people there than anywhere else.”—Ibid. Information furnished on Antoine by the Conseil-général of the Commune of Troyes.
[102. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 59. (Memorials dated Messidor 28, year II., by an emissary of the Committee of Public Safety, sent to Troyes, Prairial 29, to report on the situation of things and on the troubles in Troyes.)—Albert Babeau, ii., 203, 205 and 112, 122.—Cf. 179. “Gachez, intoxicated, about eleven o’clock at night, with several women as drunk as himself, compelled the keeper of the Temple of Reason to open the doors, threatening him with the guillotine.”—Ibid., 166. He addressed the sans-culottes in the popular club: “Now is the time to put yourselves in the place of the rich. Strike, and don’t put it off!”—Ibid., 165. “Forty-two thousand six hundred and thirty-three livres were placed in the hands of Gachez and the committee, as secret revolutionary service money. … Between December 4 and 10 Gachez received twenty thousand livres, in three orders, for revolutionary expenses and provisional aid.” “The leaders of the party disposed of these sums without control and, it may be added, without scruple.” Gachez hands over only four thousand livres to the sectional poor-committee. On Nivose 12, there remains in the treasury of the poor fund only three thousand seven hundred and thirty-eight livres, twelve thousand having been diverted or squandered.
[103. ]“Frochot,” by Louis Passy, 172. (Letter of Pajot, member of the revolutionary committee of Aignay-le-Duc.) “Denunciations occupied most of the time at our meetings, and it is there that one could see the hatreds and vengeance of the colleagues who ruled us.”
[104. ]Archives Nationales, D., § 1, No. 4. The following is a sample among others of the impositions of the revolutionary committees. (Complaint of Mariotte, proprietor, former mayor of Chatillon-sur-Seine, Floréal 27, year II.) “On Brumaire 23, year II., I was stopped just as I was taking post at Mussy, travelling on business for the Republic, and provided with a commission and passport from the Minister of War. … I was searched in the most shameful manner; citizen Ménétrier, member of the committee, used towards me the foulest language. … I was confined in a tavern; instead of two gendarmes which would have been quite sufficient to guard me, I had the whole brigade, who passed that night and the next day drinking, until, in wine and brandy the charge against me in the tavern amounted to sixty francs. And worse still, two members of the same committee passed a night guarding me and made me pay for it. Add to this, they said openly before me that I was a good pigeon to pluck. … They gave me the escort of a state criminal of the highest importance, three national gendarmes, mounted, six National Guards, and even to the Commandant of the National Guard; citizen Mièdan, member of the Revolutionary Committee, put himself at the head of the cortege, ten men to conduct one! … I was obliged to pay my executioners, fifty francs to the commandant, and sixty to his men.”
[105. ]Moniteur, xxi., 261. (Speech by an inhabitant of Troyes in the Jacobin Club, Paris, Messidor 26, year II.)
[106. ]Albert Babeau, ii., 164. (Depositions of the tavern-keeper and of the commissioner, Garnier.)
[107. ]“Frochot,” by Louis Passy, 170, 172. (Letter by Pajot and petition of the Aignay municipality, March 10, 1795.)—Bibliotheque Nationale, L., 41. No. 1802. (Denunciation by six sections of the commune of Dijon to the National Convention.)
[108. ]“Recueil de Pièces Authentiques sur la Révolution de Strasbourg,” i., 187, and letter of Burger, Thermidor 25, year II.
[109. ]Archives Nationales, D., § 1, 6 (file 37).—Letter of the members of the Strasbourg Revolutionary Committee, Ventose 13, year III., indicating to the mayor and municipal officers of Chalons-sur-Marne certain Jacobins of the town as suitable members of the Propaganda at Strasbourg.
[110. ]“Recueil de Pièces Authentiques Concernant la Révolution à Strasbourg,” i., 71. Deposition of the recorder Weis on the circuit of the revolutionary Tribunal, composed of Schneider, Clavel, and Taffin. “The judges never left the table without having become intoxicated with everything of the finest, and, in this state, they resorted to the tribunal and condemned the accused to death.”—Free living and “extravagant expenditure” were common even “among the employees of the government.” “I encountered,” says Meissner, “government carters served with chickens, pastry and game, whilst at the traveller’s table there was simply an old leg of mutton and a few poor side-dishes.” (“Voyage en France,” toward the end of 1795, p. 371.)
[111. ]Some of them, nevertheless, are not ugly, but merely sots. The following is a specimen. A certain Velu, a born vagabond, formerly in the hospital and brought up there, then a shoemaker or a cobbler, afterwards teaching school in the Faubourg de Vienne, and at last a haranguer and proposer of tyrannicide motions, short, stout and as rubicund as his cap, is made President of the Popular club at Blois, then delegate for domiciliary visits, and, throughout the Reign of Terror, he is a principal personage in the town, district, and department. (Dufort de Cheverney, “Mémoires,” (MS.) March 21, 1793 and June, 1793.) In June, 1793, this Velu is ordered to visit the chateau de Cheverney, to verify the surrender of all feudal documents. He arrives unexpectedly, meets the steward, Bambinet, enters the mayor’s house, who keeps an inn, and drinks copiously, which gives Bambinet time to warn M. Dufort de Cheverney and have the suspicious registers concealed.—This done, “Velu is obliged to leave his bottle and march to the chateau.—He assumed haughtiness and aimed at familiarity; he would put his hand on his breast and, taking yours, address you: “Good-day, brother.”—He came there at nine o’clock in the morning, advanced, took my hand and said: “Good-day, brother, how are you?” “Very well, citizen, and how are you?” “You do not tutoyer—you are not up to the Revolution?” “We’ll see—will you step in the parlor?” “Yes, brother, I’ll follow you.”—We enter; he sees my wife who, I may say, has an imposing air. He boldly embraces her and, repeating his gesture on the breast, takes her hand and says: “Good-day, sister.” “Come,” I interpose, “let us take breakfast, and, if you please, you shall dine with me.” “Yes, but on one condition, that tu me tutoie.” “I will try, but I am not in the habit of it.” After warming up his intellect and heart with a bottle of wine, we get rid of him by sending him to inspect the archives-room, along with my son and Bambinet. It is amusing, for he can only read print. … Bambinet, and the procureur, read the titles aloud, and pass over the feudalisms. Velu does not notice this and always tells them to go on.—After an hour, tired out, he comes back: “All right,” he says, “now let me see your chateau, which is a fine one.” He had heard about a room where there were fantocini, in the attic. He goes up, opens some play-books, and, seeing on the lists of characters the name of King and Prince, he says to me: “You must scratch those out, and play only republican pieces.” The descent is by a back-stairs. On the way down he encounters a maid of my wife’s, who is very pretty; he stops and, regarding my son, says: “You must as a good Republican, sleep with that girl and marry her.” I look at him and reply: “Monsieur Velu, listen; we are well behaved here, and such language cannot be allowed. You must respect the young people in my house.” A little disconcerted, he tames down and is quite deferential to Madame de Cheverney.—“You have pen and ink on your table,” he says, “bring them here.” “What for,” I ask, “to take my inventory?” “No, but I must make a procès-verbal. You help me; it will be better for you, as you can fix it to suit you.” This was not badly done, to conceal his want of knowledge.—We go in to dinner. My servants waited on the table; I had not yielded to the system of a general table for all of us, which would not have pleased my servants any more than myself. Curiosity led them all to come in and see us dining together.—“Brother,” says Velu to me, “don’t these people eat with you?” (He saw the table set for only four persons.) I reply: “Brother, that would not be any more agreeable to them than to myself. Ask them.”—He ate little, drank like an ogre, and was talkative about his amours; getting excited, he was sufficiently venturesome in his stories and excited my wife, but he did not go far. Apropos of the Revolution, and the danger we incurred, he said innocently: “Don’t I run as much risk as anybody? It is my opinion that, in three months, I shall have my head off! But we must all take our chance!”—Now and then, he indulged in sans-culottisms. He seized the servant’s hand, who changed his plate: “Brother, I beg you to take my place, and let me wait on you in my turn!” He drank the cordials, and finally left, pleased with his reception.—Returning to the inn, he stays until nine o’clock at night and stuffs himself, but is not intoxicated. One bottle had no effect on him; he could empty a cask and show no signs of it.
[112. ]Moniteur, xxii., 425. (Session of Brumaire 13, year III.) Cambon, in relation to the revolutionary committees, says: “I would observe to the Assembly that they were never paid.” A member replies: “They took their pay themselves.” (“Yes, yes.”—Applause.)
[113. ]Moniteur, xxii., 711. (Report by Cambon, Frimaire 6, year III.)—Cambon stated, indeed, Frimaire 26, year II. (Moniteur, xviii., 680), concerning these taxes: “Not one word, not one sou has yet reached the Treasury; they want to override the Convention which made the Revolution.”
[114. ]Ibid., 720. “The balances reported, of which the largest portion is already paid into the vaults of the National Treasury, amount to twenty millions one hundred and sixty-six thousand three hundred and thirty livres.”—At Paris, Marseilles, and Bordeaux, in the large towns where tens of millions were raised in three-quarters of the districts, Cambon, three months after Thermidor, could not yet obtain, I will not say the returns, but a statement of the sums raised. The national agents either did not reply to him, or did it vaguely, or stated that in their districts there was neither civic donation nor revolutionary tax, and particularly at Marseilles, where a forced loan had been made of four millions.—Cf. De Martel, “Fouché,” p. 245. (Memorial of the Central administration of Nièvre, Prairial 10, year III.) “The account returned by the city of Nevers amounts to eighty thousand francs, the use of which has never been verified. … This tax, in part payment of the war subsidy, was simply a trap laid by the political actors in order to levy a contribution on honest, credulous citizens.”—Ibid., 217. On voluntary gifts and forced taxation cf. at Nantes, the use made of revolutionary taxes, brought out on the trial of the revolutionary committee.
[115. ]Ludovic Sciout, iv., 19. Report of Representative Becker. (Journal des Débats et Décrets, p. 743, Prairial, year III.) He returns from a mission to Landau and renders an account of the executions committed by the Jacobin agents in the Rhenish provinces. They levied taxes, sword in hand, and threatened the refractory with the guillotine at Strasbourg. The receipts which passed under the reporter’s eyes “presented the sum of three millions three hundred and forty-five thousand seven hundred and eighty-five livres, two deniers, whilst our colleague, Cambon, reports only one hundred and thirty-eight thousand paid in.”
[116. ]Moniteur, xxii., 754. (Report of Grégoire, Frimaire 24, year III.) “Rascallery—this word recalls the old revolutionary committees, most of which formed the scum of society and which showed so many aptitudes for the double function of robber and persecutor.”
[117. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 107. (Orders of Representatives Ysabeau and Tallien, Bordeaux, Brumaire 11 and 17, year II.)—Third order, promulgated by the same parties, Frimaire 2, year II., replacing this committee by another of twelve members and six deputies, each at two hundred francs a month. Fourth order, Pluviose 16, year II., dismissing the members of the foregoing committee, as exagérés and disobedient. It is because they regard their local royalty in quite a serious light.—Ibid., AF., II., 46. (“Extracts from the minutes of the meetings of the Revolutionary Committee of Bordeaux,” Prairial, year II.) This extract, consisting of eighteen pages, shows in detail the inside workings of a Revolutionary committee; the number of arrested goes on increasing; on the 27th of Prairial there are one thousand five hundred and twenty-four. The committee is essentially a police office; it delivers certificates of civism, issues warrants of arrest, corresponds with other committees, even very remote, at Limogès, and Clermont-Ferrand, delegates any of its members to investigate concerning this or that “suspect,” to affix seals, to make domiciliary visits. It receives and transmits denunciations, summons the denounced to appear before it, reads interrogations, writes to the Committee of Public Safety, etc. The following are samples of its warrants of arrest: “Citoyen Héry, formerly a (man) milliner, makes a denunciation in this office against Citizen Tauray and wife, in accordance with which the Committee orders their arrest, and seals put on their papers.” “Muller, a riding-master, will be confined in the former Petit Seminaire, under suspicion of aristocracy, according to public opinion.” Another example, Archives Nationales, F7, 2,475. Register of the procès-verbaux of the Revolutionary Committee of the Piquos section, Paris, June 3, 1793. Warrant of arrest against Boucher, grocer, rue Neuve du Luxembourg, “suspect” of incivisme and “having cherished wicked and perfidious intentions against his wife.” Boucher, arrested, declares that, “what he said and did in his house, concerned nobody but himself.” On which he was led to prison.
[118. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 30 (No. 105). Examination of Jean Davilliers, and other ransomed parties.
[119. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, 313. (Trial of Lacombe and his accomplices after Thermidor.)
[120. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 46. (Letter of Julien to the Committee of Public Safety, Bordeaux, Messidor 12, year II.)—Moniteur, xxii., 713. (Report by Cambon, Frimaire 6, year III.) At Verins, citizens were imprisoned and then set at liberty “on consideration of a fee.”—Albert Babeau, ii., 164, 165, 206. (Report by Cambon, Frimaire 6, year II.) “Citoyenne (madame) Deguerrois, having come to procure the release of her husband, a public functionary demanded of her ten thousand livres, which he reduced to six thousand for doing what she desired. … One document attests that Massey paid two thousand livres, and widow Delaporte six hundred livres, to get out of prison.”
[121. ]Mallet-Dupan, “First letter to a Geneva merchant,” (March 1, 1796), pp. 33–35. “One of the wonders of the Reign of Terror is the slight attention given to the trafficking in life and death, characteristic of terrorism. We scarcely find a word on the countless bargains through which ‘suspect’ citizens bought themselves out of captivity, and imprisoned citizens bought off the guillotine. … Dungeons and executions were as much matters of trade as the purchase of cattle at a fair.” This traffic “was carried on in all the towns, bourgs and departments surrendered to the Convention and Revolutionary Committees.” “It has been established since the 10th of August.”—“I will only cite among a multitude of instances the unfortunate Duc du Châtelet; never did anybody pay more for his execution!”—Wallon, “Histoire du Tribunal Révolutionnaire de Paris,” vi., 88. Denunciation of Fouquier-Tinville, signed Saulnie. According to Saulnie he dined regularly twice a week at No. 6 rue Serpente, with one Demay, calling himself a lawyer and living with a woman named Martin. In this den of orgies, the freedom or death of those in prison was bargained for in money with impunity. One head alone, belonging to the house of Boufflers, escaping the scaffold through the intrigues of these vampires, was worth to them thirty thousand livres, of which one thousand were paid down and a bond given for the rest, payable on being set at liberty.—Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” ii., 495. “Fouquier-Tinville received a pension of one thousand crowns a month from Mesdames de Boufflers; the ransom increased one quarter each month on account of the atrocity of the circumstances. This method saved these ladies, whilst those who paid a sum in gross lost their lives. … It was Du Vaucel, fermier-general, who saved the Princess of Tarente … for five hundred louis … after having saved two other ladies for three hundred louis, given to one of the Jacobin leaders.”—Morellet, “Mémoires,” ii., 32. The agent of Mesdames de Boufflers was Abbé Chevalier, who had formerly known Fouquier-Tinville in the office of a procureur an Parliament and who, renewing the acquaintance, came and drank with Fouquier. “He succeeded in having the papers of the ladies Boufflers, which were ready to be sent to the Tribunal, placed at the bottom of the file.”
[122. ]“Tableau des Prisons de Toulouse,” 324. Coudert, of the Municipal Council, shoemaker, charged with the duty of taking silver-plate from the accused, did not know how, or was unwilling, to draw up any other than an irregular and valueless procès-verbal. On this, an accused party objected and refused to sign. “Take care, you,” exclaims Coudert in a rage, “with your ——— cleverness, you are playing the stubborn. You are nothing but a ——— fool! You are getting into a bad box! If you don’t sign, I’ll have you guillotined.” Frequently, there are no papers at all. (De Martel, “Fouché,” p. 236. Memorial by the authorities of Allier, addressed to the Convention, document 9.) October 30, 1793. Order of the revolutionary committee enjoining nocturnal visits in all “suspect” houses in Moulins, to remove all gold, silver and copper. “Eleven parties are made up … each to visit eight or ten houses. Each band is headed by one of the committee, with one municipal officer, accompanied by locksmiths and a revolutionary guard. The dwellings of the accused and other private individuals are searched. They force secretaries and wardrobes of which they do not find the keys. They pillage the gold and silver coin. They carry off plate, jewels, copper utensils, and other effects, bed-clothes, clocks, vehicles, etc. No receipt is given. No statement is made of what is carried off. They rest content by at the end of the month, reporting, in a sort of procès-verbal, drawn up at a meeting of the committee, that, according to returns of the visits made, very little plate was found, and only a little money in gold and silver, all without any calculation or enumeration.”—“Souvenirs et Journal d’un Bourgeois d’Evreux,” p. 93. (February 25, 1795.) The meetings of the popular club “were largely devoted to reading the infamous doings and robberies of the revolutionary committee. … The members who designated ‘suspects’ often arrested them themselves, and drew up a procès-verbal in which they omitted to state the jewels and gold they found.”
[123. ]Ibid., 461. (Vendémiaire 24, year III. Visit of Representative Malarmé.) The former Duc de Narbonne-Lorra, aged eighty-four, says to Malarmé: “Citizen representative, excuse me if I keep my cap on; I lost my hair in that prison, without having been able to get permission to have a wig made; it is worse than being robbed on the road.” “Did they steal anything from you?” “They stole one hundred and forty-five louis d’or and paid me with an acquittance for a tax for the sans-culottes, which is another robbery done to the citizens of this commune where I have neither home nor possessions.” “Who committed this robbery?” “It was Citizen Berger, of the municipal council.” “Was nothing else taken from you?” “They took a silver coffee-pot, two soap-cases and a silver shaving-dish.” “Who took those articles?” “It was Citizen Miot (a notable of the council).” Miot confesses to having kept these objects and not taken them to the Mint.—Ibid., 178. (Ventose 20, year II.) Prisoners all have their shoes taken, even those who had but one pair, a promise being made that they should have sabots in exchange, which they never got. Their cloaks also were taken with a promise to pay for them, which was never done.—“Souvenirs et Journal d’un Bourgeois d’Evreux,” p. 92. (February 25, 1795.) The sessions of the popular club were largely devoted to reading the infamies and robberies of the revolutionary committee. Its members, who designated the suspects, often arrested them themselves; they made levies and reports of these in which they omitted the gold and jewels found.”
[124. ]Moniteur, xxii., 133. (Session of Vendémiaire 11, year III.) Report by Thibaudeau. “These seven individuals are reprobates who were dismissed by the people’s representatives for having stolen the effects of persons arrested. A document is on record in which they make a declaration that, not remembering the value of the effects embezzled, they agree to pay damages to the nation of twenty-two francs each.”
[125. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, 447. Judge Ragot was formerly a joiner at Lyons, and Viot, the public prosecutor, a former deserter from the Penthièvre regiment. “Other accused persons were despoiled. Little was left them other than their clothes, which were in a bad state. Nappier, the bailiff, was, later (Messidor, year III.), condemned to irons for having appropriated a part of the effects, jewels, and assignats belonging to persons under accusation.”
[126. ]The words of Camille Desmoulins in “La France Libre” (August, 1782).
[127. ]De Martel, “Fouché,” 362.—Ibid., 132, 162, 179, 427, 443.—Lecarpentier, in La Manche, constantly stated: “Those who do not like the Revolution, must pay those who make it.”
[128. ]Marcelin Boudet, 175. (Address of Monestier to the popular clubs of Puy-de-Dome, February 23, 1793.)
[129. ]Alexandrine des Echerolles, “Une famille noble sous la Terreur.”
[130. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 65. (Letter of General Kermorvan to the president of the Committee of Public Safety, Valenciennes, Fructidor 12, year III.)
[131. ]Report by Courtois, “Sur les papiers de Robespierre,” (Pieces justificatives, pp. 312–324), Letters of Reverchon, Germinal 29, Floréal 7 and 23, and by Laporte, Germinal 24, year II.
[132. ]Ibid. Letter by Laporte: “I do not know what fatality induces patriots here not to tolerate their brethren whom they call strangers. … They have declared to us that they would not suffer any of them to hold office.” The representatives dared arrest but two robbers and despoilers, who are now free and declaiming against them at Paris. “Countless grave and even atrocious circumstances are daily presented to us on which we hesitate to act, lest we should strike patriots, or those who call themselves such. … Horrible depredations are committed.”
[133. ]Ibid. Letter by Reverchon: “These fanatics all want the Republic simply for themselves.” … “They call themselves patriots only to cut the throats of their brethren and get rich.”—Guillon de Montléon, “Histoire de la Ville de Lyons Pendant la Révolution,” iii., 166. (Report by Fouché, April, 1794.) “Innocent persons, acquitted by the terrible tribunal of the Revolutionary Committee, were again consigned to the dungeons of criminals through the despotic orders of the thirty-two committees, because they were so unfortunate as to complain that, on returning home, they could not find the strictly necessary objects they had left there.”
[134. ]Meissner, “Voyage en France dans les Derniers Mois de 1705,” p. 343. “A certain domain was handed over to one of their creatures by the revolutionary departments for almost nothing, less than the proceeds of the first cut of wood.”—Moniteur, xxiii., 397. (Speech by Bourdon de l’Oise, May 6, 1795.) “A certain farmer paid for his farm worth five thousand francs by the sale of one horse.”
[135. ]Moniteur, xxii., 82. (Report by Grégoire, Fructidor 14, year II.) Ibid., 775. (Report by Grégoire, Frimaire 24, year III.)
[136. ]“Recueil de Pièces Authentiques sur la Révolution à Strasbourg,” ii. p. 1. (Procès-verbal, drawn up in the presence of the elder Mouet and signed by him.)
[137. ]Moniteur, xxii., 775. (Report of Grégoire, Frimaire 24, year III.)—Ibid., 711. (Report by Cambon, Frimaire 6, year III.)—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 65. (Letter of General Kermorvan, Valenciennes, Fructidor 12, year III.)
[138. ]“Tableau des Prisons de Toulouse,” 184. (Visit of Ventose 27, year II.)
[139. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 7,164. (Department of Var “Ideé générale et appréciation auc détails sur chaque canton,” year V.)
[140. ]Ibid., F7, 7,171 (No. 7,915).—(Department of Bouches-du-Rhone, “Ideé générale,” year V.)—(Letters of Miollis, Commissioner of the Directory in the department, Ventose 14 and 16, year V. Letter of Gen. Willot to the Minister, Ventose 10, and of Gen. Merle to Gen. Willot, Ventose 17, year V.) “Several sections of anarchists travel from one commune to another exciting weak citizens to riots and getting them to take part in the horrors they are meditating.”—Ibid., F7, 7,164. Letter of Gen. Willot to the Minister, Arles, Pluviose 12, year V:, with supporting documents, and especially a letter of the director of the jury, on the violence committed by, and the reign of, the Jacobins in Arles.) Their party “is composed of the vilest mechanics and nearly all the sailors.” The municipality recruited amongst former terrorists, “has enforced for a year back the agrarian law, devastation of the forests, pillage of the wheat-crops, by bands of armed men under pretext of the right of gleaning, the robbery of animals at the plough as well as of the flocks,” etc.
[141. ]Ibid., F7, 7,171. “These commissioners (of the quarter) notify the exclusives, and even swindlers, when warrants are out against them. … The same measures carried out in the primary assemblies on the 1st of Thermidor last, in the selection of municipal officers, have been successfully revived in the organisation of the National Guard—threats, insults, vociferations, assaults, compulsory ejection from meetings then governed by the amnestied, finally, the appointment of the latter to the principal offices. In effect, all, beginning with the places of battalion leaders and reaching to those of corporals, are exclusively filled by their partisans. The result is that the honest, to whom serving with men regarded by them with aversion is repugnant, employ substitutes instead of mounting guard themselves, the security of the town being in the hands of those who themselves ought to be watched.”
[142. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 3,273. (Letter of Mérard, former administrator and judge in 1790 and 1791, in years III., IV., and V., to the Minister, Apt, Pluviose 15, year III., with personal references and documentary evidence.) “I can no longer refrain at the sight of so many horrors. … The justices of the peace and the director of the jury excuse themselves on the ground that no denunciations or witnesses are brought forward. Who would dare appear against men arrogating to themselves the title of superior patriots, foremost in every revolutionary crisis, and with friends in every commune and protectors in all high places? The favor they enjoyed was such that the commune of Gordes was free of any levy of conscripts and from all requisitions. People thus disposed, they said, to second civic and administrative views, could not be humored too much. … This discouraging state of things simply results from the weakness, inexperience, ignorance, apathy, and immorality of the public functionaries who, since the 18th of Fructidor, year V., swarm, with a few exceptions only, among the constituted authorities. Whatever is most foul and incompetent is in office, every good citizen being frightened to death.”—Ibid. (Letter of Montauban, director of the registry since 1793 to the Minister of the Interior, a compatriot, Avignon, Pluviose 7, year VII.) “Honest folks are constantly annoyed and put down by the authors and managers of the ‘Glacière’ … by the tools of the bloody tribunal of Orange and the incendiaries of Bedouin.” He enjoins secrecy on this letter, which, “if known to the Glacièrists, or Orangeists, would cost him his life.”
[143. ]Ibid., F7, 7,164. (Department of Var, year V., “Ideé Générale.”) “National character is gone; it is even demoralised: an office-holder who has not made his fortune quickly is regarded as a fool.”
[144. ]Moniteur, xxii., 240. (Indictment of the fourteen members of the Revolutionary Committee of Nantes, and the summing-up of the examination, Vendémiaire 23, year II.) When there is no special information concerning the other committees the verdict, on the whole, is nearly always as overwhelming.—Ibid. (Session of Vendémiaire 12, year III. Complaint of a deputation from Ferney.—Voltaire.) “The Gex district was, for over a year, a prey to five or six scoundrels who took refuge there. Under the mask of patriotism they succeeded in getting possession of all the offices. Vexations of every kind, robberies of private houses, squandering of public money, were committed by these monsters.” (The Ferney deputies brought with them the testimony of witnesses.)—Ibid., 290. (Letters of Representative Goupilleau, Beziers, Vendémiaire 28, year III. on the terrorists of Vaucluse.) “These carnivorous fellows, regretting the times when they could rob and massacre with impunity. … Who, six months ago, were starving, and who now live in the most scandalous opulence. … Squanderers of the public funds, robbers of private fortunes. … Guilty of rapine, of forced contributions, of extortions,” etc.—Prudhomme, “Les Crimes de la Révolution,” vi., 79. (On the Revolutionary Committee installed by Fouché at Nevers.) The local investigation shows that the eleven leaders were men of vile character, unfrocked and disreputable priests, lawyers and notaries driven out of their professional bodies, and even from the popular clubs, on account of their dishonesty, penniless actors, surgeons without patients, depraved, ruined, incapable men, and two jail-birds.
[145. ]Beaulieu, iii., 754.—Cf. “The Revolution,” vol. ii., ch. i., § 9.
[146. ]“Recueil de Pièces Authentiques sur la Révolution à Strasbourg,” i., 21.—Archives Nationales D., I., § 6. (Orders by Rousselin, Frimaire 11, year II.)
[147. ]“Un Séjour en France de 1792 à 1795,” p. 409.
[148. ]I have not found a complete list of the towns and departments which had a revolutionary army. The correspondence of representatives on mission and published documents verify the presence of revolutionary armies in the towns mentioned.
[149. ]De Martel, “Fouché,” 338. (Text of the orders of the Commissioners of Public Safety.) The detachment sent to Lyons comprises twelve hundred fusileers, six hundred cannoneers, one hundred and fifty horses. Three hundred thousand livres are remitted as travelling expenses to the commissary, fifty thousand to Collot d’Herbois, and nineteen thousand two hundred to the Jacobin civilians accompanying them.
[150. ]Moniteur. (Session of Brumaire 17, year III.) Letter of Representative Calès to the Convention. “Under the pretext of guarding the prisons, the municipality (of Dijon) had a revolutionary army which I broke up two days ago, as it cost six thousand francs a month, and would not obey the commander of the armed force, and served as a support to intriguers. These soldiers, who were all workmen out of employment, do nothing but post themselves in the tribunes of the clubs, where they, with the women they bring along with them, applaud the leaders, and so threaten citizens who are disposed to combat them, and force these to keep their mouths shut.”—De Martel, “Fouché,” 425. “Javogues, to elude a decree of the Convention (Frimaire 14) suppressing the revolutionary army in the departments, converted the twelve hundred men he had embodied in it in the Loire into paid soldiers.”—Ibid., 132. (Letter of Goulin, Bourg, Frimaire 23.) “Yesterday, at Bourg-Régeriéré, I found Javogues with about four hundred men of the revolutionary army whom he had brought with him on the 20th instant.”
[151. ]Buchez et Roux, xxix., 45.—Moniteur, xx., 67. (Report of Barère, Germinal 7.)—Sauzay, iv., 303. (Orders of Representative Bassal at Bésançon.)
[152. ]We see by Barère’s report (Germinal 7, year II.) that the revolutionary army of Paris, instead of being six thousand men, was only four thousand, which is creditable to Paris.—Mallet-Dupan, ii., 52. (Cf. “The Revolution,” ii., 353.)—Gouvion St. Cyr, i., 137. “In these times, the representatives had organised in Haut-Rhin what they called a revolutionary army, composed of deserters and all the vagabonds and scamps they could pick up who had belonged to the popular club; they dragged along after it what they called judges and a guillotine.”—“Hua, “Souvenirs d’un Avocat,” 196.
[153. ]Riouffe, “Mémoires d’un déténu,” p. 31.
[154. ]Ibid., 37. “These balls were brought out ostentatiously and shown to the people beforehand. The tying of our hands and passing three ropes around our waists did not seem to him sufficient. We kept these irons on the rest of the route, and they were so heavy that, if the carriage had tilted to one side, we should inevitably have had our legs broken. The gate-keepers of the Conciergerie of Paris, who had held their places nineteen years, were astonished at it.”
[155. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 331. (Letter of Haupt, Belfort, Frimaire 13, year II.)
[156. ]Ibid. (Letter by Desgranges, Bordeaux, Frimaire 10.)
[157. ]Ibid., vol. 332. (Letter of Thiberge, Marseilles, Frimaire 14.) “I surrounded the town with my small army.”
[158. ]Ibid., 331. (Orders of Representative Bassal, Besançon, Frimaire 5.) “No citizen shall keep in his house more than four months’ supplies. … Every citizen with more than this will deposit the surplus in the granary ‘d’abondance’ provided for the purpose. … Immediately on receipt of the present order, the municipality will summon all citizens that can thresh and proceed immediately, without delay, to the threshing-ground, under penalty of being prosecuted as refractory to the law. … The revolutionary army is specially charged with the execution of the articles of this order, and the revolutionary tribunals, following this army with the enforcement of the penalties inflicted according to this order.”—Other documents show us that the revolutionary army, organised in the department of Doubs and in the five neighboring departments, comprises, in all, two thousand four hundred men. (Ibid., vol., 1411. Letter of Meyenfeld to Minister Desforges, Brumaire 27, year II.)—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 111. (Order of Couthon, Maignet, Chateauneuf, Randon, Laporte, and Albitte, Commune-Affranchie, Brumaire 9, year II., establishing in the ten surrounding departments a revolutionary army of one thousand men per department, for the conscription of grain. Each army is to be directed by commissioners, strangers to the department, and is to operate in other departments than in the one where it is raised.)
[159. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, 331. (Letter of Chépy, Frimaire 11.)—Writing one month before this (Brumaire 6), he says: “The farmers show themselves very hostile against the towns and the law of the maximum. Nothing can be done without a revolutionary army.”
[160. ]Mercier, “Paris Pendant la Revolution,” i., 357.
[161. ]Hua, 197. I do not find in any printed or manuscript document but one case of resistance, that of the brothers Chaperon, in the hamlet of Loges, near Sens, who declare that they have no wheat except for their own use, and who defend themselves by the use of a gun. The gendarmerie not being strong enough to overcome them, the tocsin is sounded and the National Guard of Sens and the neighborhood is summoned; bringing cannon, the affair ends with the burning of the house. The two brothers are killed. Previously, however, they had struck down the captain of the National Guard of Sens and killed or wounded nearly forty of their assailants. A surviving brother and a sister are guillotined. (June, 1794. Wallon, iv., 352.)
[162. ]Moniteur, xviii., 663. (Session of Frimaire 24, report by Lecointre.) “The communes of Thieux, Jully, and many others were victims to their brigandage.” “The stupor in the country is such that the poor sufferers dare not complain of these vexations because, they say, they are only too lucky to have escaped with their lives.”—This time, however, these public brigands made a mistake. Gibbon’s son happens to be Lecointre’s farmer. Moreover, it is only accidentally that he mentions the circumstance to his landlord; “he came to see him for another purpose.”—Cf. “The Revolution,” vol. ii., 302. (There is a similar scene in the house of one Ruelle, a farmer, in the Commune of Lisse.)
[163. ]Cf., passim Alfred Lallier, “Le sans-culotte Goullin.”—Wallon. “Histoire du Tribunal Révolutionnaire de Paris,” v., 368. (Deposition of Lacaille.)—In addition to this, the most extraordinary monsters are met with in other administrative bodies, for example, in Nantes, a Jean d’Héron, tailor, who becomes inspector of military stores. “After the rout at Clisson, says the woman Laillet, he appeared in the popular club with a brigand’s ear attached to his hat by way of cockade. His pockets were full of ears, which he took delight in making the women kiss. He exposed other things which he made them kiss and the woman Laillet adds certain details which I dare not transcribe.” (“Le patriote d’Héron,” by L. de la Sicotière, pp. 9 and 10. Deposition of the woman Laillet, fish-dealer, also the testimony of Mellinet, vol. viii., p. 256.)
[164. ]Wallon, v., 368. (Deposition of de Laillet.)
[165. ]Ibid., v., 371. (Deposition of Tabouret.)
[166. ]Ibid., v., 373. (Deposition of Mariotte.)
[167. ]Moniteur, xxii., 321. (Deposition of Philippe Troncjolly.)—Berryat Saint-Prix, “La Justice Révolutionnaire,” 39.
[168. ]Campardon, “Histoire du Tribunal Révolutionnaire,” ii., 30. They have ten francs a day, and full powers conferred on them. (Orders of Carrier and Francastel, October 28, 1793.) “The representatives … confer collectively and individually, on each member of the revolutionary company, the right of surveillance over all ‘suspect’ citizens in Nantes, over strangers who come to or reside there, over monopolists of every sort. … The right to make domiciliary visits wherever they may deem it advisable. … The armed force will everywhere respond to the demands made upon it in the name of the company, or of any individual member composing it.”—Berryat Saint-Prix, p. 42.—Alfred Lallier, “Les Noyades de Nantes,” p. 20. (Deposition of Gauthier.) Ibid., p. 22. “D——,” exclaims Carrier, “I kept that execution for Lamberty. I’m sorry that it was done by others.”
[169. ]Alfred Lallier, ibid., pp. 21 and 90.—Cf. Moniteur, xxii., 331. (Deposition of Victoire Abraham.) “The drowners made quite free with the women, even using them for their own purposes when pleased with them, which women, in token of their kindness, enjoyed the precious advantage of not being drowned.”
[170. ]Campardon, ii., 8. (Deposition of Commeret.)—Berryat Saint-Prix, p. 42.—Ibid., p. 28. Other agents of Carrier, Fouquet, and Lamberty, were condemned specially, “for having saved from national vengeance Madame de Martilly and her maid. … They shared the woman Martilly and the maid between them.” In connection with the “dainty taste” of Jacobins for silk dresses M. Berryat Saint-Prix cites the following answer of a Jacobin of 1851 to the judge d’ instruction of Rheims; on the objection being made to him that the Republic, as he understood it, could not last long, he replied: “Possibly, but say it lasts three months. That’s long enough to fill one’s pocket and belly and rumple silk dresses?” Another of the same species said in 1871: “We shall anyhow have a week’s use of it.” Observers of human nature will find analogous details in the history of the Sepoy rebellion in India against the English in 1803, also in the history of the Indians in the United States. The September massacres in Paris and the history of the combat of 1791 and 1792 have already provided us with the same characteristic documents.
[171. ]Alfred Lallier, “Les Fusillades de Nantes,” p. 23. (Depositions of Picard, commander of the National Guards of the escort.—Cf. the depositions of Jean Jounet, paver, and of Henri Ferdinand, joiner.)
[172. ]Sauzay, “Histoire de la Persécution Révolutionnaire dans le Département du Doubs,” vii., 687. (Letter of Grégoire, December 24, 1796.) “An approximative calculation makes the number of the authors of so many crimes three hundred thousand, for in each commune there were about five or six of these ferocious brutes who, named Brutus, perfected the art of removing seals, drowning, and cutting throats. They consumed immense amounts in constructing ‘Mountains,’ in revellings, and in fêtes every three months which, after the first parade, became parodies, represented by three or four actors in them, and with no audience. These consisted, finally, of a drum-beater and the musical officer; and the latter, ashamed of himself, often concealed his scarf in his pocket, on his way to the Temple of Reason. … But these three hundred thousand brigands had two or three hundred directors, members of the National Convention, who cannot be called anything but scoundrels, since the language provides no other epithet so forcible.”