Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK VIII: The Governed - The French Revolution, vol. 3
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BOOK VIII: The Governed - 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 Oppressed—I.Magnitude of revolutionary destructiveness—The four ways of effecting it—Expulsion from the country through forced emigration and legal banishment—Number of those expelled—Privation of liberty—Different sorts of imprisonment—Number and situation of those imprisoned—Murders after being tried, or without trial—Number of those guillotined or shot after trial—Indication of the number of other lives destroyed—Necessity of and plan for wider destruction—Spoliation—Its extent—Squandering—Utter losses—Ruin of individuals and the State—The Notables the most oppressed—II.The value of Notables in society—Various kinds and degrees of Notables in 1789—The great social staff—Men of the world—Their breeding—Their intellectual culture—Their humanity and philanthropy—Their moral temper—Practical men—Where recruited—Their qualifications—Their active benevolence—Scarcity of them and their worth to a community—III.The three classes of Notables—The Nobility—Its physical and moral preparation through feats of arms—The military spirit—High character—Conduct of officers in 1789–1792—Service for which these nobles were adapted—IV.The Clergy—Where recruited—Professional inducements—Independence of ecclesiastics—Their substantial merits—Their theoretical and practical information—Their distribution over the territory—Utility of their office—Their conduct in 1790–1800—Their courage, their capacity for self-sacrifice—V.The Bourgeoisie—Where recruited—Difference between the functionary of the ancient régime and the modern functionary—Property in offices—Guilds—Independence and security of office-holders—Their limited ambition and contentedness—Fixed habits, seriousness and integrity—Ambition to secure esteem—Intellectual culture—Liberal ideas—Respectability and public zeal—Conduct of the bourgeoisie in 1789–1791—VI.The demi-notables—Where recruited—Village and trade syndics—Competency of their electors—Their interest in making good selections—Their capacity and integrity—The sorting of men under the ancient régime—Conditions of a family’s maintenance and advancement—Hereditary and individual right of the Notable to his property and rank—VII.Principle of socialistic equality—All superiorities illegitimate—Bearing of this principle—Incivique benefits and enjoyments—How revolutionary laws reach the lower class—Whole populations affected in a mass—Proportion of the lowly in the proscription lists—How the revolutionary laws specially affect those who are prominent among the people—VIII.Their rigor increases according to the elevation of the class—The Notables properly so called attacked because of their being Notables—Orders of Taillefer, Milhaud, and Lefiot—The public atonement of Montargis—IX.Two characteristics of the upper class, wealth and education—Each of these is criminal—Measures against rich and well-to-do people—Affected in a mass and by categories—Measures against cultivated and polite people—Danger of culture and distinction—Proscription of “honest folks”—X.The Governors and the Governed—Prisoners in the rue de Sèvres and the “Croix-Rouge” revolutionary committee—The young Dauphin and Simon his preceptor—Judges, and those under their jurisdiction—Trenchard and Coffinhal, Lavoisier and André Chénier.
The object of the Jacobin, first of all, is the destruction of his adversaries, avowed or presumed, probable or possible. Four violent measures concur, together or in turn, to bring about the physical or social extermination of all Frenchmen who no longer belong to the sect or the party.
The first operation consists in expelling them from the territory. Since 1789, they have been chased off through a forced emigration; handed over to jacqueries in the country, and to insurrections in the cities,1 defenceless and not allowed to defend themselves, three-fourths of them have left France, simply to escape popular brutalities against which neither the law nor the government afforded them any protection. According as the law and the administration, in becoming more Jacobin, became more hostile to them, so did they leave in greater crowds. After the 10th of August and 2d of September, the flight necessarily was more general; for, henceforth, if any one persisted in remaining after that date it was with the almost positive certainty that he would be consigned to a prison, to await a massacre or the guillotine. About the same time, the law added to the fugitive the banished, all unsworn priests, almost an entire class consisting of nearly forty thousand persons.2 It is calculated that, on issuing from the Reign of Terror, the total number of fugitives and banished amounted to one hundred and fifty thousand;3 the list would have been still larger, had not the frontier been guarded by patrols and one had to cross it at the risk of one’s life; and yet, many do risk their lives in attempting to cross it, in disguise, wandering about at night, in mid-winter, exposed to gunshots, determined to escape cost what it will, into Switzerland, Italy, or Germany, and even into Hungary, in quest of security and the right of praying to God as one pleases.4 If any exiled or transported person ventures to return, he is tracked like a wild beast, and, as soon as taken, he is guillotined.5 For example, M. de Choiseul, and other unfortunates, wrecked and cast ashore on the coast of Normandy, are not sufficiently protected by the law of nations. They are brought before a military commission; saved temporarily through public commiseration, they remain in prison until the First Consul intervenes between them and the homicidal law and consents, through favor, to transport them to the Dutch frontier. If they have taken up arms against the Republic they are cut off from humanity; a Pandour prisoner is treated as a man; an emigré made prisoner is treated like a wolf—they shoot him on the spot. In some cases, even the pettiest legal formalities are dispensed with. “When I am lucky enough to catch ’em,” writes Gen. Vandamme, “I do not trouble the military commission to try them. They are already tried—my sabre and pistols do their business.”6
The second operation consists in depriving “suspects” of their liberty, of which deprivation there are several degrees; there are various ways of getting hold of people. Sometimes, the “suspect” is “adjourned,” that is to say, the order of arrest is simply suspended; he lives under a perpetual menace that is generally fulfilled; he never knows in the morning that he will not sleep in a prison that night. Sometimes, he is put on the limits of his commune. Sometimes, he is confined to his house with or without guards, and, in the former case, he is obliged to pay them. Again, finally, and which occurs most frequently, he is shut up in this or that common jail. In the single department of Doubs, twelve hundred men and women are “adjourned,” three hundred put on the limits of the commune, fifteen hundred confined to their houses, and twenty-two hundred imprisoned.7 In Paris, thirty-six such prisons and more than ninety-six lock-ups, or temporary jails, constantly filled by the revolutionary committees, do not suffice for the service,8 while it is estimated that, in France, not counting more than forty thousand provisional jails, twelve hundred prisons, full and running over, contain each more than two hundred inmates.9 At Paris, notwithstanding the daily void created by the guillotine, the number of the imprisoned on Floréal 9, year II., amounts to seven thousand eight hundred and forty; and, on Messidor 25 following, notwithstanding the large batches of fifty and sixty persons led in one day, and every day, to the scaffold, the number is still seven thousand five hundred and two.10 There are more than one thousand persons in the prisons of Arras, more than one thousand five hundred in those of Toulouse, more than three thousand in those of Strasbourg, and more than thirteen thousand in those of Nantes. In the two departments alone of Bouches-du-Rhone and Vaucluse, Representative Maignet, who is on the spot, reports from twelve thousand to fifteen thousand arrests.11 “A little before Thermidor,” says Representative Beaulieu, “the number of incarcerated arose to nearly four hundred thousand, as is apparent on the lists and registers then before the Committee of General Security.”12 Among these poor creatures, there are children, and not alone in the prisons of Nantes where the revolutionary battures have collected the whole of the rural population; in the prisons of Arras, among twenty similar cases, I find a coal-dealer and his wife with their seven sons and daughters, from seventeen down to six years of age; a widow with her four children from nineteen down to twelve years of age; another noble widow with her nine children, from seventeen down to three years of age, and six children, without father or mother, from twenty-three down to nine years of age.13 These prisoners of State were treated, almost everywhere, worse than robbers and assassins under the ancient régime. They began by subjecting them to rapiotage, that is to say, stripping them naked or, at best, feeling their bodies under their shirts; women and young girls fainted away under this examination, formerly confined to convicts on entering the bagnio.14 Frequently, before consigning them to their dungeons or shutting them up in their cells, they would be left two or three nights pell-mell in a lower hall on benches, or in the court on the pavement, “without beds or straw.” “The feelings are wounded in all directions, every point of sensibility, so to say, being played upon. They are deprived one after the other of their property, assignats, furniture, and food, of daylight and lamp-light, of the assistance which their wants and infirmities demand, of a knowledge of public events, of all communication, either immediate or written, with fathers, sons, and husbands.”15 They are obliged to pay for their lodgings, their keepers, and for what they eat; they are robbed at their very doors of the supplies they send for outside; they are compelled to eat at a mess-table; they are furnished with scant and nauseous food, “spoilt codfish, putrid herrings, and meat, rotten vegetables, all this accompanied with a mug of Seine water colored red with some drug or other.”16 They starve them, bully them, and vex them purposely as if they meant to exhaust their patience and drive them into a revolt, so as to get rid of them in a mass, or, at least, to justify the increasing rapid strokes of the guillotine. They are huddled together in tens, twenties, and thirties, in one room at La Force, “eight in a chamber, fourteen feet square,” where all the beds touch, and many overlap each other, where two out of the eight inmates are obliged to sleep on the floor, where vermin swarm, where the closed sky-lights, the standing tub, and the crowding together of bodies poisons the atmosphere. In many places, the proportion of the sick and dying is greater than in the hold of a slave-ship. “Of ninety individuals with whom I was shut up two months ago,” writes a prisoner at Strasbourg, “sixty-six were taken to the hospital in the space of eight days.”17 In the prisons of Nantes, three thousand out of thirteen thousand prisoners die of typhoid fever and of the rot in two months.18 Four hundred priests19 confined on a vessel between decks, in the roadstead of Aix, stowed on top of each other, wasted with hunger, eaten up by vermin, suffocated for lack of air, half-frozen, beaten, mocked at, and constantly threatened with death, suffer still more than negroes in a slavehold; for, through interest in his freight, the captain of the slaver tries to keep his human consignment in good health, whilst, through revolutionary fanaticism, the crew of the Aix vessel detests its cargo of “black-frocks” and would gladly send them to the bottom. According to this system, which, up to Thermidor 9, grows worse and worse, imprisonment becomes a torture, oftentimes mortal, slower and more painful than the guillotine, and to such an extent that, to escape it, Champfort opens his veins and Condorcet swallows poison.20
The third expedient consists of murder, with or without trial. One hundred and seventy-eight tribunals, of which forty are ambulatory, pronounce in every part of the territory sentences of death which are immediately executed on the spot.21 Between April 6, 1793, and Thermidor 9, year II., that of Paris has two thousand six hundred and twenty-five persons guillotined,22 while the provincial judges do as much work as the Paris judges. In the small town of Orange alone, they guillotine three hundred and thirty-one persons. In the single town of Arras they have two hundred and ninety-nine men and ninety-three women guillotined. At Nantes, the revolutionary tribunals and military committees have, on the average, one hundred persons a day guillotined, or shot, in all one thousand nine hundred and seventy-one. In the city of Lyons, the revolutionary committee admit one thousand six hundred and eighty-four executions, while Cadillot, one of Robespierre’s correspondents, advises him of six thousand.23 The statement of these murders is not complete, but seventeen thousand have been enumerated,24 “most of them effected without any formality, evidence or direct charge,” among others the murder of “more than one thousand two hundred women, several of whom were octogenarians and infirm”;25 particularly the murder of sixty women or young girls, condemned to death, say the warrants, for having attended the services of unsworn priests, or for having neglected the services of a sworn priest. “The accused, ranged in order, were condemned at sight. Hundreds of death-sentences took about a minute per head. Children of seven, five, and four years of age, were tried. A father was condemned for the son, and the son for the father. A dog was sentenced to death. A parrot was brought forward as a witness. Numbers of accused persons whose sentences could not be written out were executed.” At Angers, the sentences of over four hundred men and three hundred and sixty women, executed for the purpose of relieving the prisons, were mentioned on the registers simply by the letters S or G (shot or guillotined).26 At Paris, as in the provinces, the slightest pretext27 served to constitute a crime. The daughter of the celebrated painter, Joseph Vernet,28 was guillotined for being a “receiver,” for having kept fifty pounds of candles in her house, distributed among the employees of La Muette by the liquidators of the civil list. Young de Maillé,29 aged sixteen years, was guillotined as a conspirator, “for having thrown a rotten herring in the face of his jailor, who had served it to him to eat.” Madame de Puy-Verin was guillotined as “guilty” because she had not taken away from her deaf, blind, and senile husband a bag of card-counters, marked with the royal effigy. In default of any pretext,30 there was the supposition of a conspiracy; blank lists were given to paid emissaries, who undertook to search the various prisons and select the requisite number of heads; they wrote names down on them according to their fancy, and these provided the batches for the guillotine. “As for myself,” said the juryman Vilate, “I am never embarrassed. I am always convinced. In a revolution, all who appear before this tribunal ought to be condemned.” At Marseilles, the Brutus Commission,31 “sentencing without public prosecutor or jurymen, sent to the prisons for those it wished to put to death. After having demanded their names, professions, and wealth they were sent down to a cart standing at the door of the Palais de Justice; the judges then stepped out on the balcony and pronounced the death-sentence.” The same proceedings took place at Cambrai, Arras, Nantes, Le Mans, Bordeaux, Nismes, Lyons, Strasbourg, and elsewhere. Evidently, the judicial comedy is simply a parade; they make use of it as one of the respectable means, among others less respectable, to exterminate people whose opinions are not what they should be, or who belong to the proscribed classes;32 Samson, at Paris, and his colleagues in the provinces, the execution-platoons of Lyons and Nantes, are simply the collaborators of murderers properly so called, while legal massacres complete other massacres pure and simple.
Of this latter description, the fusillades of Toulon come first, where the number of those who are shot largely surpasses one thousand;33 next the great drownings of Nantes, in which four thousand eight hundred men, women, and children perished,34 and other drownings, in which the number of dead is not fixed;35 next, the innumerable slaughterings committed by the people between July 14, 1789, and August 10, 1792; the massacre of one thousand three hundred prisoners in Paris, in September, 1792; the long train of assassinations which, in July, August, and September, 1789, extends over the entire territory; finally, the despatch of the prisoners, either shot or sabred, without trial at Lyons and in the West. Even excepting those who had died fighting or who, taken with arms in their hands, were shot down or sabred on the spot, there were ten thousand persons slaughtered without trial in the province of Anjou alone:36 accordingly, the instructions of the Committee of Public Safety, also the written orders of Carrier and Francastel, direct generals to “bleed freely” the insurgent districts,37 and spare not a life: it is estimated that, in the eleven western departments, the dead of both sexes and of all ages exceeded four hundred thousand.38 Considering the programme and principles of the Jacobin sect this is no great number; they might have killed a good many more. But time was wanting; during their short reign they did what they could with the instrument in their hands. Look at their machine, the gradual construction of its parts, the successive stages of its operation from its starting up to Thermidor 9, and see how limited the period of its operation was. Organised March 30 and April 6, 1793, the revolutionary committees and the revolutionary Tribunal had but seventeen months in which to do their work. They did not drive ahead with all their might until after the fall of the Girondists, and especially after September, 1763, that is to say for a period of eleven months. Its loose wheels were not screwed up and the whole was not in running order under the impulse of the central motor until after December, 1793, that is to say during eight months. Perfected by the law of Prairial 22, it works for the past two months, faster and better than before, with an energy and rapidity that increase from week to week. At that date, and even before it, the theorists have taken the bearings of their destinies and accepted the conditions of their undertaking. Being sectarians, they have a faith, and as orthodoxy tolerates no heresy, and as the conversion of heretics is never sincere or durable, heresy can be suppressed only by suppressing heretics. “It is only the dead,” said Barère, Messidor 16, “who never return.” On the 2d and 3d of Thermidor,39 the Committee of Public Safety sends to Fouquier-Tinville a list of four hundred and seventy-eight accused persons with orders “to bring the parties named to trial at once.” Baudot and Jean Bon St. André, Carrier, Antonelle and Guffroy, had already estimated the lives to be taken at several millions and, according to Collot d’ Herbois, who had a lively imagination, “the political perspiration should go on freely, and not stop until from twelve to fifteen million Frenchmen had been destroyed.”40
To make amends, in the fourth and last division of their work, that is to say, in spoliation, they went to the last extreme: they did all that could be done to ruin individuals, families, and the State; whatever could be taken, they took. The Constituent and Legislative Assemblies had, on their side, begun the business by abolishing tithes and all feudal rights without indemnity, and by confiscating all ecclesiastical property; the Jacobin operators continue and complete the job; we have seen by what decrees and with what hostility against collective and individual property, whether they attribute to the State the possession of all corporations whatever, even laic, such as colleges, schools, and scientific or literary societies, hospitals and communes, or whether they despoil individuals, indirectly through assignats and the maximum, or directly through the forced loan, revolutionary taxes,41 seizures of gold and silver coin, requisitions of common useful utensils,42 sequestrations of prisoners’ property, confiscations of the possessions of emigrants and exiles and of those transported or condemned to death. No capital invested in real or personal property, no income in money or produce, whatever its source, whether leases, mortgages, private credits, pensions, agricultural, industrial, or commercial gains, the fruits of economy or labor, from the farmers’, the manufacturers’, and the merchant’s stores to the robes, coats, shirts and shoes, even to the beds and bed-rooms of private individuals—nothing escapes their rapacious grasp: in the country, they carry off even seed reserved for planting; at Strasbourg and in the Upper Rhine, all kitchen utensils; in Auvergne and elsewhere, even the pots used by the cattle-tenders. Every object of value, even those not in public use, comes under requisition: for instance,43 the Revolutionary Committee of Bayonne seizes a lot of “dimities and muslins,” under the pretext of making “breeches for the country’s defenders.” On useful objects being taken it is not always certain that they will be utilised; between their seizure and putting them to service, robbery and waste intervene; at Strasbourg,44 on a requisition being threatened by the representatives, the inhabitants strip themselves and, in a few days, bring to the municipality “six thousand eight hundred and seventy-nine coats, breeches and vests, four thousand seven hundred sixty-seven pairs of stockings, sixteen thousand nine hundred and twenty-one pairs of shoes, eight hundred and sixty-three pairs of boots, one thousand three hundred and fifty-one cloaks, twenty thousand five hundred and eighteen shirts, four thousand five hundred and twenty-four hats, five hundred and twenty-three pairs of gaiters, one hundred and forty-three skin vests, two thousand six hundred and seventy-three sheets, nine hundred blankets, besides twenty-nine quintals of lint, twenty-one quintals of old linen, and a large number of other articles.”
But “most of these articles remain piled up in the storehouses, part of them rotten, or eaten by rats, the rest being abandoned to the first-comer. … The end of spoliation was attained.” Utter loss to individuals and no gain, or the minimum of a gain, to the State. Such is the net result of the revolutionary government. After having laid its hand on three-fifths of the landed property of France; after having wrested from communities and individuals from ten to twelve billions of real and personal estate; after having increased, through assignats and territorial warrants, the public debt, which was not five billions in 1789, to more than fifty billions;45 no longer able to pay its employees; reduced to supporting its armies as well as itself by forced contributions on conquered territories, it ends in bankruptcy; it repudiates two-thirds of its debt, and its credit is so low that the remaining third which it has consolidated and guaranteed afresh, loses eighty-three per cent. the very next day. In its hands, the State has itself suffered as much as individuals. Of the latter, more than twelve hundred thousand have suffered in their persons: several millions, all who possessed anything, great or small, have suffered through their property.46 But, in this multitude of the oppressed, it is the notables who are chiefly aimed at and who, in their possessions as well as in their persons, have suffered the most.
On estimating the value of a forest you begin by dividing its vegetation into two classes; on the one hand the full-grown trees, the large or medium-sized oaks, beeches and aspens, and, on the other, the saplings and the undergrowth. In like manner, in estimating society, you divide the individuals composing it into two groups, one consisting of its notables of every kind and degree, and the other, of the common run of men. If the forest is an old one and has not been too badly managed, nearly the whole of its secular growth is found in its clusters of full-grown trees; a few thousands of large trunks, with three or four hundred old or new staddles belonging to the reserve, contain more useful or precious timber than all the twenty or thirty millions of shrubs, bushes, and brambles put together. It is the same in a community which has existed for a long time under a tolerably strict system of justice and police; almost the entire gain of a secular civilisation is found concentrated in its notables, which, taking it all in all, was the state of French society in 1789.47
Let us first consider the most prominent personages. It is certain, that, among the aristocracy, the wealthiest and most conspicuous families had ceased to render services proportionate to the cost of their maintenance. Most of the seigniors and ladies of the Court, the worldly bishops, abbés, and parliamentarians of the drawing-room, knew but little more than how to solicit with address, make a graceful parade of themselves and spend lavishly. An ill-understood system of culture had diverted them from their natural avocations, and converted them into showy and agreeable specimens of vegetation, often hollow, blighted, sapless and overpruned, besides being very costly, overmanured and too freely watered; and the skilful gardening which shaped, grouped, and arranged them in artificial forms and bouquets, rendered their fruit abortive that flowers might be multiplied. But the flowers were exquisite, and even in a moralist’s eyes, such an efflorescence is of some account. On the side of civility, good-breeding and deportment, the manners and customs of high life had reached a degree of perfection, which never, in France or elsewhere, had been attained before, and which has never since been revived;48 and of all the arts through which men have emancipated themselves from primitive coarseness, that which teaches them mutual consideration is, perhaps, the most precious. The observance of this, not alone in the drawing-room, but in the family, in business, in the street, with regard to relatives, inferiors, servants, and strangers, gives dignity, as well as a charm, to human intercourse. Delicate regard for what is proper becomes a habit, an instinct, a second nature, which nature, superimposed on the original nature, is the best, inasmuch as the internal code which governs each detail of action and speech, prescribes the standard of behavior and respect for oneself, as well as respect and refined behavior towards others. To this merit, add mental culture. Never was there an aristocracy so interested in general ideas and refinement of expression; it was even too much so; literary and philosophical preoccupations excluded all others of the positive and practical order; they talked, instead of acting. But, in this limited circle of speculative reason and of pure literary forms, it excelled; writings and how to write furnished the ordinary entertainment of polite society; every idea uttered by a thinker caused excitement in the drawing-room: the talent and style of authors were shaped by its taste;49 it was in the drawing-rooms that Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, d’Alembert, the Encyclopedists, great and little, Beaumarchais, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Champfort, and Rivarol, involuntarily sought listeners and found them, not merely admirers and entertainers, but friends, protectors, patrons, benefactors, and followers. Under the teachings of the masters, the disciples had become philanthropists; moreover, the amenities of manners developed in all souls compassion and benevolence: “Nothing was more dreaded by opulent men than to be regarded as insensible.”50 They concerned themselves with children, with the poor, with the peasantry, setting their wits to work to afford them relief; their zeal was aroused against oppression, their pity was excited for every misfortune. Even those whose duties compelled them to be rigid tempered their rigidity with explanations or concessions. “Ten years before the Revolution,” says Roederer,51 “the criminal courts of France no longer bore their own likeness. … Their former spirit had become changed. … All the young magistrates, and this I can bear witness to, for I was one myself, pronounced judgments more in accordance with the principles of Beccaria, than according to law.” As to the men in authority, military administrators and commandants, it was impossible to be more patient, more careful of spilling blood; likewise, on the other hand, their qualities turned into defects, for, through excess of humanity, they were unable to maintain order, as is evident when facing the insurrections that took place between 1789 and 1792. Even with the force in their own hands, amidst gross insults and extreme dangers, they dreaded to make use of it; they could not bring themselves to repressing brutes, rascals, and maniacs: following the example of Louis XVI., they considered themselves as shepherds of the people, and let themselves be trampled upon rather than fire upon their flock. In reality, they had noble, and even generous and big hearts: in the bailiwick assemblies, in March, 1789, long before the night of August 4, they voluntarily surrendered every pecuniary privilege; under severe trials, their courage, heightened by polished manners, adds even to their heroism, elegance, tact, and gaiety. The most corrupt, a Duke of Orleans, the most frivolous and the most blasé, a Duc de Biron, meet death with stoical coolness and disdain.52 Delicate women who complain of a draught in their drawing-rooms, make no complaint of a straw mattress in a damp, gloomy dungeon, where they sleep in their clothes so that they may not wake up stiffened, and they come down into the court of the Conciergerie with their accustomed cheerfulness. Men and women, in prison, dress themselves as formerly, with the same care, that they may meet and talk together with the same grace and spirit, in a corridor with an iron grating within a step of the revolutionary Tribunal, and on the eve of the scaffold.53 This moral temper is evidently of the rarest; if it errs on either side it is on that of being over refined, bad for use, good for ornament.
And yet, in the upper class there were associated with two or three thousand idlers amongst a frivolous aristocracy, as many serious men, who, to their drawing-room experience, added experience in business. Almost all who held office or had been in the service, were of this number, either ambassadors, general officers, or former ministers, from Marshal de Broglie down to Machaut and Malesherbes; resident bishops, like Monseigneur de Durfort, at Besançon;54 vicars-general and canons who really governed their dioceses on the spot; prelates, like those in Provence, Languedoc, and Brittany, who, by right, had seats in the provincial “Etats”; agents and representatives of the clergy at Paris; heads of Orders and Congregations; the chief and lieutenant commandants of the seventeen military departments, intendants of each generalité, head-clerks of each ministry, magistrates of each parliament, farmers-general, collectors-general, and, more particularly in each province, the dignitaries and local proprietors of the two first orders, and all leading manufacturers, merchants, ship-owners, bankers, and prominent bourgeois; in short, that élite of the nobles, clergy, and Third Estate, which, from 1778 to 1789, constituted the twenty-one provincial assemblies, and which certainly formed in France the great social staff. Not that they were superior politicians: for in those days there were none, scarcely a few hundred competent men, almost all of them being specialists. But, in these few men were summed up pretty much the entire political capacity, information, and good sense of France; outside of their heads the other twenty-six millions of brains contained but little else than dangerous and barren formulas; as they alone had commanded, negotiated, deliberated, and governed, they were the only ones who understood men and things tolerably well, and, consequently, the only ones who were not completely disqualified for their management. In the provincial Assemblies they were seen originating and conducting the most important reforms; they had devoted themselves to these effectively and conscientiously, with as much equity and patriotism as intelligence and thoroughness; most of the heads and subheads of the leading public and private branches of the service, guided by philosophy and supported by current opinion for twenty years, had likewise given evidence of active benevolence.55 Nothing is more precious than men of this stamp, for they are the life and soul of their respective branches of service, and are not to be replaced in one lot, at a given moment, by persons of equal merit. In diplomacy, in the finances, in judicature, in administration, in extensive commerce and large manufacturing, a practical, governing capacity is not created in a day; affairs in all these are too vast and too complicated; there are too many diverse interests to take into account, too many near and remote contingencies to foresee; lacking a knowledge of technical details, it is difficult to grasp the whole; one tries to make short work of it, one shatters right and left and ends with the sword, obliged to fall back on systematic brutality to complete the work of audacious bungling. Except in war, where an apprenticeship is more quickly got through with than elsewhere, the good government of men and the management of capital requires ten years’ practice, besides ten years of preparatory education; add to this, against the temptations of power which are strong, a stability of character established through professional honor, and, if it so happens, by family traditions. After having directed financial matters for two years, Cambon is not yet aware that the functions of the fermiers-généraux of indirect taxes differ from those of the receveurs-généraux of direct taxes;56 accordingly, he includes, or allows to be included, the forty-eight receveurs in the decree which sends the sixty fermiers before the revolutionary Tribunal, that is to say, to the guillotine; and, in fact, all of them would have been sent there had not a man familiar with the business, Gaudin, Commissioner of the Treasury, heard the decree proclaimed in the street and run to explain to the Committee on Finances that “there was nothing in common” between the two groups of outlaws; that the fermiers were holders of leases on probable profits while the receveurs were paid functionaries at a fixed salary, and the crimes of the former, proved or not proved, were not imputable to the latter. Great astonishment on the part of these improvised financiers! “They make an outcry,” says Gaudin, “and assert that I am mistaken. I insist, and repeat what I have told the President, Cambon; I affirm on my honor and offer to furnish them the proof of it; finally, they are satisfied and the President says to one of the members, ‘Since that is so, go to the bureau of procès-verbaux and scratch out the term receveurs-généraux from the decree passed this morning.’ ” Such are the gross blunders committed by interlopers, and even carried out, when not warned and restrained by veterans in the service. Cambon, accordingly, in spite of the Jacobins, retains in his bureaux all whom he can among veteran officials. If Carnot manages the war well, it is owing to his being himself an educated officer and to maintaining in their positions d’Arcon, d’Obenheim, de Grimoard, de Montalembert, and Marescot, all eminent men bequeathed to him by the ancient régime.57 Reduced, before the 9th of Thermidor, to perfect nullity, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not again to become useful and active until the professional diplomats, Miot, Colchen, Otto, and Reinhart,58 resume their ascendency and influence. It is a professional diplomat, Barthélemy, who, after the 9th of Thermidor, really directs the foreign policy of the Convention, and brings about the peace of Basle.
Three classes, the nobles, the clergy and the bourgeoisie, provided these élite superiorities, and, compared with the rest of the nation, they themselves formed an élite. Thirty thousand gentlemen, scattered through the provinces, had been brought up from infancy to the profession of arms; generally poor, they lived on their rural estates without luxuries, comforts or curiosity, in the society of wood-rangers and game-keepers, frugally and with rustic habits, in the open air, in such a way as to ensure robust constitutions. A child, at six years of age, mounted a horse; he followed the hounds, and hardened himself against inclemencies;59 afterwards, in the academies, he rendered his limbs supple by exercise and obtained that rugged health which is necessary for living under a tent and following a campaign. From early childhood, he was imbued with a military spirit; his father and uncles at table talked of nothing but their perils in war and feats of arms; his imagination took fire; he got accustomed to looking upon their pursuits as the only ones worthy of a man of rank and feeling, and he plunged ahead with a precociousness which we no longer comprehend. I have read many records of the service of gentlemen who were assassinated, guillotined, or emigrés; they nearly always began their careers before the age of sixteen, often at fourteen, thirteen, and eleven.60 M. des Echerolles,61 captain in the Poitou regiment, had brought along with him into the army his only son, aged nine, and a dozen little cousins of the same age. Those children fought like old soldiers; one of them had his leg fractured by a ball; young des Echerolles received a sabre stroke which cut away his cheek from the ear to the upper lip, and he was wounded seven times; still young, he received the cross of St. Louis. To serve the State, seek conflict, and expose one’s life, seemed an obligation of their rank, a hereditary debt; out of nine or ten thousand officers who discharged this debt most of them cared only for this and looked for nothing beyond. With no fortune and without patrons, they had renounced promotion, fully aware that the higher ranks were reserved for the heirs of great families and the courtiers at Versailles. After serving fifteen or twenty years, they returned home with a captain’s commission and the cross of St. Louis, sometimes with a small pension, contented with having done their duty and conscious of their own honor. On the approach of the Revolution, this old spirit, illumined by the new ideas, became an almost civic virtue:62 we have seen how they behaved between 1789 and 1792, their moderation, their forbearance, their sacrifice of self-love, their abnegation and their stoical impassibility, their dislike to strike, the coolness with which they persisted in receiving without returning blows, and in maintaining, if not public order, at least the last semblance of it. Patriots as much as soldiers, through birth, education and conviction, they formed a natural, special nursery, eminently worthy of preserving, inasmuch as it furnished society with ready-made instruments for defence, internally against rascals and brutes, and externally against the enemy. Less calm in disposition and more given to pleasure than the rural nobles of Prussia, under slacker discipline and in the midst of greater worldliness, but more genial, more courteous, and more liberal-minded, the twenty-six thousand noble families of France upheld in their sons the traditions and prejudices, the habits and aptitudes, those energies of body, heart, and mind63 through which the Prussian “junkers” were able to constitute the Prussian army, organise the German army, and make Germany the first power of Europe.
In like manner, in the Church, nearly all its officials, the whole of the lower and middle-class clergy, curés, vicars, canons, and collegiate chaplains, professors and directors of schools, colleges, and seminaries, more than sixty-five thousand ecclesiastics, formed a healthy, well-organised body, worthily fulfilling its duties. “I do not know,” says de Tocqueville,64 “if taking all in all and notwithstanding the vices of some of its members, there ever was in the world a more remarkable clergy than the Catholic clergy of France when the Revolution took them by surprise, more enlightened, more national, less intrenched behind their private virtues, better endowed with public virtues, and, at the same time, more strong in the faith. … I began the study of the old social system full of prejudices against them; I finish it full of respect for them.” And first, which is a great point, most of the incumbents in the town parishes, in the three hundred collegial churches, in the small canonicates of the cathedral chapters, belonged to better families than at the present day.65 Children were then more numerous, not merely among the peasants, but among the inferior nobles and the upper bourgeoisie; each family, accordingly, was glad to have one of its sons take orders, and no constraint was necessary to bring this about. The ecclesiastical profession then had attractions which it no longer possesses; it had none of the inconveniences incident to it at the present time. A priest was not exposed to democratic distrust and hostility; he was sure of a bow from the laborer in the street as well as from the peasant in the country; he was on an equal footing with the local bourgeoisie, almost one of the family, and among the first; he could count on passing his life in a permanent situation, honorably and serenely, in the midst of popular deference and enjoying the good will of the public. On the other hand, he was not bridled as in our day. A priest was not a functionary salaried by the State; like his private income, his pay, put aside in advance, furnished through special appropriations, through local taxes, out of a distinct treasury, could never be withheld on account of a préfet’s report, or through ministerial caprice, or be constantly menaced by budget difficulties and the ill-will of the civil powers. In relation to his ecclesiastical superiors he was respectful but independent. The bishop in his diocese was not what he has become since the Concordat, an absolute sovereign free to appoint and remove at will nine curés out of ten. In three vacancies out of four, and often in fourteen out of fifteen,66 it was not the bishop who made the appointment; the new incumbent was designated sometimes by the cathedral chapter or corporation; again, by a collegial church or corporation; again, by the metropolitan canon or by the abbé or prior, the patron of the place; again, by the seignior whose ancestors had founded or endowed the Church; in certain cases by the Pope, and, occasionally, by the King or commune. Powers were limited through this multiplicity and intercrossing of authorities. Moreover, the canon or curé being once appointed he possessed guarantees; he could not be arbitrarily dismissed; in most cases, his removal or suspension required a previous trial according to prescribed formalities, accompanied with an examination, pleadings, and arguments before the officialité or ecclesiastical court. He was, in fact, permanently placed, and very generally his personal merit sufficed to keep him in his place. For, if the highest positions were bestowed according to birth and favor, the intermediate positions were reserved to correct habits and attainments. Many canons and vicars-general, and almost all the curés in the towns were doctors of divinity or of canon law, while ecclesiastical studies, very thorough, had occupied eight or nine years of their youth.67 Although the method was out of date, much was learned at the Sorbonne and St. Sulpice; at the very least, one became a good logician through prolonged and scientific intellectual gymnastics. “My dear Abbé,” said Turgot, smiling, to Morellet, “it is only you and I who have taken our degree who can reason closely.” Their theological drill, indeed, was about as valuable as our philosophical drill; if it expanded the mind less, it supplied this better with applicable conceptions; less exciting, it was more fruitful. In the Sorbonne of the nineteenth century, the studies consist of the speculative systems of a few isolated, divergent intellects who have exercised no authority over the multitude, while in the Sorbonne of the eighteenth century, the studies consisted of the creed, morality, discipline, history, and canons of a Church which had already existed seventeen centuries and which, comprising one hundred and fifty millions of souls, still sways one-half of the civilised world. To a theoretical education add practical education. A curé, and with still more reason, a canon, an archdeacon, a bishop, was not a passing stranger, endowed by the State, wearing a surplice, as little belonging to his age through his ministry as through his dress, and wholly confined to his spiritual functions: he managed the revenues of his dotation, he granted leases, made repairs, built, and interested himself in the probabilities of the crops, in the construction of a highway or canal, while his experiences in these matters were equal to those of any lay proprietor. Moreover, being one of a small proprietary corporation, that is to say, a chapter or local vestry, and one of a great proprietary corporation of the diocese and Church of France, he took part directly or indirectly in important temporal affairs, in assemblies, in deliberations, in collective expenditures, in the establishment of a local budget and of a general budget, and hence, in public and administrative matters, his competence was analogous and almost equal to that of a mayor, subdelegate, farmer-general or intendant. In addition to this he was liberal: never has the French clergy been more earnestly so, from the latest curés back to the first archbishops.68 Remark, in fine, the distribution of the clergy over the territory. There was a curé or vicar in the smallest of the forty thousand villages. In thousands of small, poor, remote communes, he was the only man who could readily read and write; none other than he in many of the larger rural communes,69 except the resident seignior and some man of the law or half-way schoolmaster, was at all learned.70 In effect, for a man who had finished his studies and knowing Latin, to consent, for six hundred francs or three hundred francs a year, to live isolated, and a celibate, almost in indigence, amongst rustics and the poor, he must be a priest; the quality of his office makes him resigned to the discomforts of his situation. A preacher of the Word, a professor of morality, a minister of Charity, a guide and dispenser of spiritual life, he taught a theory of the world, at once consoling and self-denying, which he enforced with a cult, and this cult was the only one adapted to his flock; manifestly, the French, especially those devoted to manual and hard labor, could not regard this world as ideal, except through his formulas; history, the supreme judge, had on this point rendered its verdict without appeal; no heresy, no schism, not the Reformation nor Jansenism, had prevailed against hereditary faith; through infinitely multiplied and deeply penetrating roots this faith suited national customs, temperament, and peculiar social imagination and sensibility. Possessing the heart, the intellect, and even the senses, through fixed, immemorial traditions and habits, it had become an unconscious, almost corporeal necessity, and the Catholic orthodox curé, in communion with the Pope, was about as indispensable to the village as the public fountain; he also quenched thirst, the thirst of the soul; without him, the inhabitants could find no drinkable water. And, if we keep human weaknesses in mind, it may be said that nobleness of character in the clergy corresponded with nobleness of profession; in all points no one could dispute their capacity for self-sacrifice, for they willingly suffered for what they believed to be the truth. If, in 1790, a number of priests took the oath to the civil constitution of the clergy, it was with reservations, or because they deemed the oath licit; but, after the dismissal of the bishops and the Pope’s disapprobation, many of them withdrew it at the risk of their lives, so as not to fall into schism; they fell back into the ranks and gave themselves up voluntarily to the brutality of the crowd and the rigors of the law. Moreover, and from the start, notwithstanding threats and temptations, two-thirds of the clergy would not take the oath; in the highest ranks, among the mundane ecclesiastics whose scepticism and laxity were notorious, honor, in default of faith, maintained the same spirit; nearly the whole of them, great and small, had subordinated their interests, welfare and security to the maintenance of their dignity or to scruples of conscience. They had allowed themselves to be stripped of everything; they let themselves be exiled, imprisoned, tortured, and made martyrs of, like the Christians of the primitive church; through their invincible meekness, they were going, like the primitive Christians, to exhaust the rage of their executioners, wear out persecutions, transform opinion and compel the admission, even with those who survived in the eighteenth century, that they were true, deserving, and courageous men.
Below the nobles and the clergy, a third class of notables, the bourgeoisie, almost entirely confined to the towns,71 bordered on the former classes through its upper circles, while its diverse groups, ranging from the parliamentarian to the rich merchant or manufacturer, comprised the remainder of those who were tolerably well-educated, say one hundred thousand families, recruited on the same conditions as the bourgeoisie of the present day: they were “bourgeois living nobly,” meaning by this, living on their incomes, large manufacturers and traders, engaged in liberal pursuits—lawyers, notaries, procureurs, physicians, architects, engineers, artists, professors, and especially the government officials; the latter, however, very numerous, differed from ours in two essential points. On the one hand, their office, as nowadays with the notaries’ étude, or a membership of the stock-board, was personal property. Their places, and many others, such as posts in the judiciary, in the finances, in bailiwicks, in the Présidial, in the Election,72 in the salt-department, in the customs, in the Mint, in the department of forests and streams, in presidencies, in councils, as procureurs du roi in various civil, administrative, and criminal courts, holding places in the treasury, auditors and collectors of the various branches of the revenue—all of which offices, and many others, had been alienated for more than a century by the State in return for specified sums of ready money; thenceforth, they fell into the hands of special purchasers; the title of each possessor was as good as that of a piece of real property, and he could legally sell his title, the same as he had bought it, at a given price, on due advertisement!73 On the other hand, the different groups of local functionaries in each town formed their own associations, similar to our notarial chambers, or those of our stock-brokers; these small associations had their own by-laws, meetings, and treasury, frequently a civil status and the right of pleading, often a political status and the right of electing to the municipal council;74 consequently, besides his personal interests, each member cherished the professional interests of his guild. Thus was his situation different from what it now is, and, through a natural reaction, his character, manners, and tastes were different. First, he was much more independent; he was not afraid of being discharged or transferred elsewhere, suddenly, unawares, on the strength of an intendant’s report, for political reasons, to make room for a deputy’s candidate or a minister’s tool. This would have cost too much: it would have required first of all a reimbursement of the sum paid for his office, and at a rate of purchase ten times, at least, the revenue of the office.75 Besides, in defending himself, in protesting against and forestalling his disgrace, he would have been supported by his entire professional guild, oftentimes by other similar bodies, and frequently by the whole town, filled with his relations, clients, and comrades. The entire hive protected the bee against the caprices of favoritism and the brutalities of despotism. At Paris, a certain procureur, supported by his colleagues, is known to have imposed on a noble who had insulted him, the most humiliating atonement.76 In fact, under the ancient régime, it was almost impossible for a functionary to be removed; hence, he could fulfill his duties securely and with dignity, without being obliged to keep daily watch of the capital, to go to Paris to see how the official wind blew, to look after all the influences in his favor, to nurse his relations with the government and live like a bird on a branch. In the second place, there was a limit to his ambition; he did not keep constantly thinking of mounting a step higher in the hierarchy; or how to pass from a small town to a large one and hold on to his title; this would have been a too troublesome and complicated matter; he would first have had to find a purchaser and then sell his place, and next find a seller and buy another at a higher price; a stock broker at Bordeaux, a notary at Lyons, is not an aspirant for the post of stock broker or notary at Paris. Nothing then bore any resemblance to the ambulant colony of the present day which, in obedience to orders from above, travels about governing each of our towns, strangers on the wing, with no personal standing, without local landed property, interests or means, encamped in some hired apartment, often in a furnished room, sometimes stopping at a hotel, eternal nomads awaiting a telegram, always prepared to pack up and leave for another place a hundred leagues off in consideration of a hundred crowns extra pay, and doing the same detached work over again. Their predecessor, belonging to the country, was a stable fixture and contented; he was not tormented by a craving for promotion; he had a career within the bounds of his corporation and town; cherishing no wish or idea of leaving it, he accommodated himself to it; he became proud of his office and professional brethren, and rose above the egoism of the individual; his self-love was bent on maintaining every prerogative and interest belonging to his guild. Established for life in his native town, in the midst of old colleagues, numerous relatives, and youthful companions, he esteemed their good opinion. Exempt from vexatious or burdensome taxes, tolerably well off, owning at least his own office, he was above sordid preoccupations and common necessities. Used to old fashioned habits of simplicity, soberness, and economy, he was not tormented by a disproportion between his income and expenses, by the requirements of show and luxury, by the necessity of annually adding to his revenue. Thus guided and unembarrassed, the instincts of vanity and generosity, the essence of French character, took the ascendant; the councillor or comptroller, the King’s agent, regarded himself as a man above the common run, as a noble of the Third-Estate; he thought less of making money than of gaining esteem; his chief desire was to be honored and honorable; “he passed life comfortably and was looked up to, … in the discharge of his duty, … with no other ambition than to transmit to his children … along with their inheritance an unsullied reputation.”77 Among the other groups of the bourgeoisie the same corporate system, the same settled habits, the same security, the same frugality, the same institutions, the same customs,78 promoted the growth of nearly the same sentiments, while the intellectual culture of these men was not insignificant. Having leisure, they were given to reading; as they were not overwhelmed with newspapers they read books worth reading; I have found in old libraries in the provinces, in the houses of the descendants of a manufacturer or lawyer in a small town, complete editions of Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Buffon, and Condillac, with marks in each volume showing that the volume had been read by some one in the house before the close of the eighteenth century. Nowhere else, likewise, had all that was sound and liberal in the philosophy of the eighteenth century found such a welcome; it is from this class that the patriots of 1789 were recruited; it had furnished not only the majority of the Constituent Assembly, but again all the honest men who, from July, 1789 to the end of 1791 performed their administrative duties so disinterestedly, and with such devotion and zeal, amidst so many difficulties, dangers, and disappointments. Composed of Feuillants or Monarchists, possessing such types of men as Huez of Troyes or Dietrich of Strasbourg, and for representatives such leaders as Lafayette and Bailly, it comprised the superior intelligence and most substantial integrity of the Third-Estate. It is evident that, along with the nobles and clergy, the best fruits of history were gathered in it, and most of the mental and moral capital accumulated, not only by the century, but, again, by preceding centuries.
Like a fire kindled on an eminence in a cold and obscure district, maintained amidst human barbarism on the summits at great cost, civilisation radiates only as its rays grow dim; its light and heat diminish just as its gleams reach remoter and deeper strata; nevertheless, both penetrate to a great distance and to a certain depth before wholly dying out. If, then, we would estimate their power in France at the close of the eighteenth century we must add to the notables the half-notables of society, namely, the men who, like the people, were devoted to manual labor, but who, among the people, kept at the head, say one hundred and fifty thousand families, consisting of well-to-do farmers, small rural proprietors, shopkeepers, retailers, foremen and master-workmen, village syndics and guild syndics,79 those who were established and had some capital, owning a lot of ground and a house, with a business or stock of tools, and a set of customers, that is to say, with something ahead and credit, not being obliged to live from hand to mouth, and therefore, beginning to be independent and more influential, in short, the overseers of the great social work-house, the sergeants and corporals of the social army. They, too, were not unworthy of their rank. In the village or trade community, the syndic, elected by his equals and neighbors, was not blindly nominated; all his electors in relation to him were competent; if peasants, they had seen him turning up the soil; if blacksmiths or joiners, they had seen him at work in his forge, or at the bench. And, as their direct, present, and obvious interests were concerned, they chose him for the best, not on the strength of a newspaper recommendation, in deference to a vague declamatory platform or sounding, empty phrases, but according to their personal experiences, and the thorough knowledge they had of him. The delegate sent by the village to the intendant and by the guild to the Hôtel-de-Ville, was its most capable, and most creditable man, one of those, probably, who, through his application, intelligence, honesty, and economy, had proved the most prosperous, some master-workman or farmer that had gained experience through long years of assiduity, familiar with details and precedents, of good judgment and repute, more interested than anybody else in supporting the interests of the community and with more leisure than others to attend to public affairs.80 This man, through the nature of things, imposed himself on the attention, confidence, and deference of his peers, and, because he was their natural representative, he was their legal representative.
Upon the whole, if, in this old society, the pressure was unequally distributed, if the general equilibrium was unstable, if the upper parts bore down too heavily on the lower ones, the sorting, at least, which goes on in every civilised State, constantly separating the wheat from the chaff, went on tolerably well; except at the centre and at the Court, where the winnowing machine had worked haphazard and, frequently, in an opposite sense for a century, the separation proceeded regularly, undoubtedly slower, but, perhaps, more equitably than in our contemporary democracy. The chance that a notable by right could become a notable de facto was then much greater: it was less difficult, and the inclination to found, maintain, and perpetuate a family or a work was much stronger; people oftener looked beyond mere self; the eyes naturally turned outside the narrow circle of one’s personality, looking backward as well as beyond this present life. The institution of an equal partition of property, the system of obligatory partition, the rule of partition in kind, with other prescriptions of the civil code, does not split up a heritage and ruin the home.81 Parental remissness and the cool self-possession of children had not yet weakened the principle of authority and abolished respect in the family. Useful and natural associations were not yet stifled in the germ nor arrested in their development by the systematic hostility of the law. The facility and cheapness of transportation, the promiscuousness of schools, the excitement of competition, the common rush for every office, the increasing irritation of every ambition and lust, had not immeasurably multiplied the class of irresponsible malcontents and mischievous nomads. In the political order of things, inaptitude, envy, brutality were not sovereign; universal suffrage did not exclude from power the men, born, bred, and qualified to exercise it; the innumerable public offices were not offered as a prey to charlatanism and to the intrigues of politicians. France was not then, as now-a-days, in a way to become a vast lodging-house managed by a chance overseer, condemned to periodical failures, peopled with anonymous inmates, indifferent to each other, without local attachments, with no corporate interests or affections, merely tenants and passing consumers, placed in the order of their numbers around a common mess-table where each thinks only of himself, gets served quickly, consumes what he can lay his hands on, and ends by finding out that, in a place of this sort, the best condition, the wisest course, is to put all one’s property into an annuity and live a bachelor. Formerly, among all classes and in all the provinces, there were a large number of families that had taken root on the spot, living there a hundred years and more. Not only among the nobles, but among the bourgeoisie and the Third-Estate, the heir of any enterprise was expected to continue his calling; as with the seignorial chateau and extensive domain, as with the bourgeois dwelling and patrimonial office, the humble rural domain, farm, shop, and factory, were transmitted intact from one generation to another.82 Great or small, the individual was not wholly interested in himself; his thoughts travelled forward to the future and back to the past, on the side of ancestors and on that of descendants, along the endless chain of which his own life was but a link; he possessed traditions, he felt bound to set examples. Under this twofold title, his domestic authority was uncontested;83 all who belonged to him followed his instructions without swerving and without resistance. When, by virtue of this home discipline, a family had maintained itself upright and respected on the same spot for a century, it could easily mount a degree; it could introduce one of its members into the upper class, pass from the plough or trade to petty offices, and from these to the higher ones and to parliamentary dignities, from the four thousand posts that ennoble to the legalised nobility, from the lately made nobles to the old nobility. Apart from the two or three thousand gilded drones living on the public honey at Versailles, apart from the court parasites and their valets, three or four hundred thousand notables and half-notables of France thus acquired and kept their offices, consideration and fortune; they were therefore their legitimate possessors. The peasant-proprietor and master-artisan had risen from father to son, at four o’clock in the morning, toiled all day and never drank. From father to son, the trader, notary, lawyer, and office-holder, had been careful, economical, skillful, and attentive to business, correct in their papers, precise in their accounts. From father to son, the gentleman had served bravely, the parliamentarian had judged equitably, on honor, with a salary less than the interest of the sum paid by him to acquire his rank or post. Each of these men received no more than his due; his possessions and his rank were the savings of his race, the price of social services rendered by the long file of deserving dead, all that his ancestors, his father and himself had created or preserved of any stable value; each piece of gold that remained in the hereditary purse represented the balance of a lifetime, the enduring labor of someone belonging to his line, while among these gold pieces, he himself had provided his share. For, personal services counted, even among the upper nobility; and all the more among the lower class, in the Third-Estate, and among the people. Among the notables of every degree just described, most of them, in 1789, were certainly full-grown, many of them mature, a goodly number advanced in years, and some quite aged; consequently, in justification of his rank and emoluments, or of his gains and his fortune, each could allege fifteen, twenty, thirty, and forty years of labor and honorability in private or public situations, the grand-vicar of the diocese as well as the chief-clerk of the ministry, the intendant of the généralité as well as the president of the royal tribunal, the village curé, the noble officer, the office-holder, the lawyer, the procureur, the large manufacturer, the wholesale dealer, as well as the well-to-do farmer, and the well-known handicraftsman. Thus, not only were they an élite corps, the most valuable portion of the nation, the best timber of the forest, but again, the wood of each branch belonged to that trunk; it grew there, and was the product of its own vegetation; it sprung out of the trunk wholly through the unceasing and spontaneous effort of the native sap, through time-honored and recent labor, and, on this account, it merited respect. Through a double onslaught, at once against each human branch and against the entire French forest, the Jacobin wood-choppers seek to clear the ground. Their theory results in this precept, that not one of the noble trees of this forest, not one valuable trunk from the finest oak to the tenderest sapling, should be left standing.
Not that the ravages which they make stop there! The principle extended far beyond that. The fundamental rule, according to Jacobin maxims, is that every public or private advantage which any citizen enjoys not enjoyed by another citizen, is illegitimate. On Ventose 19, year II., Henriot, general in command, having surrounded the Palais Royal and made a sweep of “suspects,” renders an account of his expedition as follows:84 “One hundred and thirty muscadins have been arrested. … These gentlemen are transferred to the Petits-Pêres. They are not sans-culottes, being well-fed and plump.” Henriot was right, for, to live well is incivique. Whoever lays in stores of provisions is criminal, even if he has gone a good ways for them, even if he has not overpaid the butcher of his quarter, even if he has not diminished by an ounce of meat the ration of his neighbor; on this being discovered, he is obliged to disgorge and be punished. “A citizen85 had a little pig brought to him from a place six leagues from Paris, and killed it at once. Three hours afterwards, the pig was seized by commissioners and distributed among the people, without the owner getting a bit of it”; moreover, the said owner “was imprisoned.” He is a monopolist! To Jacobin people, to empty stomachs, there is no greater crime; this misdeed, to their imaginations, explains the arrest of Hébert, their favorite: “It is said at the Halle86 that he has monopolised one of St. Anthony’s friends87 together with a pot of twenty-five pounds of Brittany butter,” which is enough; they immediately and “unanimously consign Père Duchesne to the guillotine.” Of all privileges, accordingly, that of having a supply of food is the most offensive; “it is now necessary for one who has two dishes to give one of them to him who has none”;88 every man who manages to eat more than another is a robber; for, in the first place, he robs the community, the sole legitimate owner of aliments, and next, he robs, and personally, all who have less to eat than he has.
The same rule applies to other things of which the possession is either agreeable or useful: in an equalising social system, that now established, every article of food possessed by one individual to the exclusion of others, is a dish abstracted from the common table and held by him to another’s detriment. On the strength of this, the theorists who govern agree with the reigning tatterdemalions. Whoever has two good coats is an aristocrat, for there are many who have only one poor one.89 Whoever has good shoes is an aristocrat, for many wear wooden ones, and others go barefoot. Whoever owns and rents lodgings is an aristocrat, for others, his tenants, instead of receiving money, pay it out. The tenant who furnishes his own rooms is an aristocrat, for many lodge in boarding-houses and others sleep in the open air. Whoever possesses capital is an aristocrat, even the smallest amount in money or in kind, a field, a roof over his head, half-a-dozen silver spoons given to him by his parents on his wedding-day, an old woollen stocking into which twenty or thirty crowns have been dropped one by one, all one’s savings, whatever has been laid by or economised, a petty assortment of eatables or merchandise, one’s crop for the year and stock of groceries, especially if, disliking to give them up and letting his dissatisfaction be seen, he, through revolutionary taxation and requisitions, through the maximum and the confiscation of the precious metals, is constrained to surrender his small savings gratis, or at half their value. Fundamentally, it is only those who have nothing of their own that are held to be patriots, those who live from day to day,90 “the wretched,” the poor, vagabonds, and the famished; the humblest laborer, the least instructed, the most ill at his ease, is treated as criminal, as an enemy, solely because he is suspected of having some resources; in vain does he show his scarified or callous hands; he escapes neither spoliation, the prison, nor the guillotine. At Troyes, a poor shop-girl who had set up a small business on borrowed money, but who is ruined by a bankruptcy and completely so by the maximum, infirm, and consuming piecemeal the rest of her stock, is taxed five hundred livres.91 In the villages of Alsace, an order is issued to arrest the five, six, or seven richest persons in the Commune, even if there are no rich; consequently, they seize the least poor, simply because they are so; for instance, at Heiligenberg, six “farmers” one of whom is a day-laborer, “or journeyman,” “suspect,” says the register of the jail, “because he is comfortably off.”92 On this account nowhere are there so many “suspects” as among the people; the shop, the farm, and the work-room harbor more aristocrats than the rectory and the chateau. In effect, according to the Jacobins,93 “nearly all farmers are aristocrats”; “the merchants are all essentially antirevolutionary,”94 and especially all dealers in articles of prime necessity, wine-merchants, bakers and butchers; the latter especially are open “conspirators,” enemies “of the interior,” and “whose aristocracy is insupportable.” Such, already, among the lower class of people, are the many delinquents who are punished.
But there are still more of them to punish, for, besides the crime of not being indigent, of possessing some property, of withholding articles necessary for existence, there is the crime of aristocracy, necessarily so called, namely, repugnance to, lack of zeal, or even indifference for the established régime, regret for the old one, relationship or intercourse with a condemned or imprisoned emigré of the upper class, services rendered to some outlaw, the resort to some priest; now, numbers of poor farmers, mechanics, domestics, and women servants, have committed this crime;95 and in many provinces and in many of the large cities nearly the whole of the laboring population commits it and persists in it; such is the case, according to Jacobin reports, in Alsace, Franche-Comté, Provence, Vaucluse, Anjou, Poitou, Vendée, Brittany, Picardie and Flanders, and in Marseilles, Bordeaux, and Lyons. In Lyons alone, writes Collot d’Herbois, “there are sixty thousand persons who never will become republicans. They should be disbanded and prudently distributed over the surface of the Republic.”96 Finally, add to the persons of the lower class, prosecuted on public grounds, those who are prosecuted on private grounds. Among peasants in the same village, workmen of the same trade and shopkeepers in the same quarter, there is always envy, enmities, and spites; those who are Jacobins become local pachas and are able to gratify local jealousies with impunity, which they never fail to do.97
Hence, on the lists of the guillotined, the incarcerated and of emigrés, the men and women of inferior condition are in much greater number, far greater than their companions of the superior and middle classes all put together. Out of twelve thousand condemned to death whose rank and professions have been ascertained, seven thousand five hundred and forty-five98 are peasants, cultivators, ploughmen, workmen of various sorts, innkeepers, wine-dealers, soldiers, and sailors, domestics, women, young girls, servants, and seamstresses. Out of one thousand nine hundred emigrés from Doubs, nearly one thousand one hundred belong to the lower class. Towards the month of April, 1794, all the prisons in France overflow with farmers;99 in the Paris prisons alone, two months before Thermidor 9, there are two thousand of them.100 Without mentioning the eleven western departments in which four or five hundred square leagues of territory are devastated and twenty towns and one thousand eight hundred villages destroyed,101 where the avowed purpose of the Jacobin policy is a systematic and total destruction of the country, man and beast, buildings, crops, and even trees, there are cantons and even provinces where the entire rural and working population is arrested or put to flight. In the Pyrenees, the old Basque populations “torn from their natal soil, crowded into the churches with no means of subsistence but that of charity,” in the middle of winter, so that sixteen hundred of those incarcerated die “mostly of cold and hunger”;102 at Bédouin, a town of two thousand souls, in which a tree of liberty is cut down by some unknown persons, four hundred and thirty-three houses are demolished or burned, sixteen persons guillotined and forty-seven shot, while the rest of the inhabitants are driven out, reduced to living like vagabonds on the mountain, or in holes which they dig in the ground;103 in Alsace, fifty thousand farmers who, in the winter of 1793, take refuge with their wives and children on the other side of the Rhine.104 In short, the revolutionary operation is a complete prostration of people of all classes, the trunks as well as the saplings being felled, and often in such a way as to clear the ground entirely.
In this general prostration, however, the notables of the people, making all due allowances, suffer more than the common run; the Jacobin wood-chopper manifestly selects out and fells with the greatest fury and persistency, the veterans of labor and economy, the large cultivators who from father to son and for many generations have possessed the same farm, the master-mechanics whose shops are well stocked and who have good customers, all respectable, well-patronised retailers, who owe nothing; the village-syndics and trades-syndics, all those showing more deeply and visibly than the rest of their class, the five or six blazes which warrant the stroke of the axe. They are better off, better provided with desirable comforts and conveniences, which is of itself an offence against equality. Having accumulated a small hoard, a few pieces of plate, sometimes a few crowns,105 a store of linen and clothes, a stock of provisions or goods, they do not willingly submit to being plundered, which is the offence of egoism. Being egoists, it is presumed that they are hostile to the system of fraternity, at least indifferent to it, as well as lukewarm toward the Republic, that is to say, Moderates, which is the worst offence of all.106 Being the foremost of their class, they are haughty like the nobles or the bourgeois and regard themselves as superior to a poor man, to a vagabond, to a genuine sans-culotte, the fourth and most inexcusable of all offences. Moreover, from the fact of their superior condition, they have contracted familiarities and formed connections with the proscribed class; the farmer, the intendant, the overseer is often attached to his noble proprietor or patron;107 many of the farmers, shopkeepers, and mechanics belonging to old families are considered as affiliated with the bourgeoisie or the clergy,108 through a son or brother who has risen a degree in trade, or by some industrial pursuit, or who, having completed his studies, has become a curé or lawyer, or else through some daughter, or well-married sister, or through one who has become a nun: now, this relation, ally, friend, or comrade of a “suspect” is himself a “suspect,” the last antirevolutionary and decisive barrier. Sober and well-behaved persons, having prospered or maintained themselves under the ancient régime, must naturally cherish respect for former institutions; they must involuntarily retain a deep feeling of veneration for the King, and especially for religion; they are devout Catholics, and therefore are chagrined to see the churches shut up, worship prohibited, and ecclesiastics persecuted, and would again be glad to go to Mass, honor Easter, and have an orthodox curé who could administer to them available sacraments, a baptism, an absolution, a marriage-rite, and veritable extreme unction.109 Under all these headings, they have made personal enemies of the rascals who hold office; on all these grounds, they are struck down; what was once meritorious with them is now disgraceful. Thus, the principal swath consists of the élite of the people, selected from amongst the people itself; it is against the “subordinate aristocracy,” those most capable of doing and conducting manual labor, the most creditable workmen, through their activity, frugality, and good habits, that the Revolution, in its rigor against the inferior class, rages with the greatest fury.
For the same reason, as far as the notables, properly so-called, are concerned, it bears down still more heavily, not merely on the nobles because of ancient privileges, not merely on ecclesiastics on the score of being insubordinate Catholics, but on nobles, ecclesiastics, and bourgeois in their capacity of notables, that is to say, born and bred above others, and respected by the masses on account of their superior condition. In the eyes of the genuine Jacobin, the notables of the third class are no less criminal than the members of the two superior classes. “The bourgeois,110 the merchants, the large proprietors,” writes a popular club in the South, “all have the pretension of the old set (des ci-dévants).” And the club complains of “the law not providing means for opening the eyes of the people with respect to these new tyrants.” It is horrible! The stand they take is an offence against equality and they are proud of it! And what is worse, this stand attracts public consideration! Consequently, “the club requests that the revolutionary Tribunal be empowered to consign this proud class to temporary confinement,” and then “the people would see the crime it had committed and recover from the sort of esteem in which they had held it.” Incorrigible and contemptuous heretics against the new creed, they are only too lucky to be treated somewhat like infidel Jews in the middle-ages. Accordingly, if they are tolerated, it is on the condition that they let themselves be pillaged at discretion, covered with opprobrium, and subdued through fear. At one time, with insulting irony, they are called upon to prove their dubious civism by forced donations. “Whereas,”111 says Representative Milhaud, “all the citizens and citoyennes of Narbonne being in requisition for the discharge and transport of forage; whereas, this morning, the Representative, in person, having inspected the performance of this duty,” and having observed on the canal “none but sans-culottes and a few young citizens; whereas, not finding at their posts any muscadin and no muscadine; whereas, the persons, whose hands are no doubt too delicate, even temporarily, for the glorious work of robust sans-culottes, have, on the other hand, greater resources in their fortune, and, desiring to afford to the rich of Narbonne the precious advantage of being equally useful to the Republic,” hereby orders that “the richest citizens of Narbonne pay within twenty-four hours” a patriotic donation of one hundred thousand livres, one-half to be assigned to the military hospitals, and the other half, on the designation thereof by a “Committee of Charity, composed of three reliable revolutionary sans-culottes,” to be distributed among the poor of the Commune. Should any “rich egoist refuse to contribute his contingent he is to be immediately transferred to the jail at Perpignan.” Not to labor with one’s own hands, to be disqualified for work demanding physical strength, is of itself a democratic stain, and the man who is sullied by this draws down on himself, not alone an augmentation of pecuniary taxation, but frequently an augmentation of personal compulsory labor. At Villeneuve, Aveyron, and throughout the department of Cantal,112 Representative Taillefer and his delegate Deltheil, instruct the revolutionary committees to “place under military requisition and conscription all muscadins above the first class,” that is to say, all between twenty-five and forty years of age who are not reached by the law. “By muscadins is meant all citizens of that age not married, and exercising no useful profession,” in other words, those who live on their income. And, that none of the middle or upper class may escape, the edict subjects to special rigor, supplementary taxes, and arbitrary arrest, not alone property-holders and fund-holders, but again all persons designated under the following heads—aristocrats, Feuillants, moderates, Girondists, federalists, muscadins, the superstitious, fanatics, the abettors of royalism, of superstition and of federation, monopolists, jobbers, egoists, “suspects” of incivism, and, generally, all who are indifferent to the Revolution, of which local committees are to draw up the lists.
Occasionally, in a town, some steps taken collectively, either a vote or petition, furnish a ready-made list;113 it suffices to read this to know who are notables, the most upright people of the place; henceforth, under the pretext of political repression, the levellers may give free play to their social rancor. At Montargis, nine days after the attempt of June 20, 1792,114 two hundred and twenty-eight notables sign an address in testimony of their respectful sympathy for the King; a year and nine months later, in consequence of a retroactive stroke, all are hit, and, with the more satisfaction, inasmuch as in their persons the most respected in the town fall beneath the blow, all whom flight and banishment had left there belonging to the noble, ecclesiastic, bourgeois, or popular aristocracy. Already, “on the purification of the constituted authorities of Montargis, the representative had withdrawn every signer from places of public trust and kept them out of all offices.” But this is not sufficient; the punishment must be more exemplary. Four of them, the ex-mayor, an ex-collector, a district administrator and a notable are sent to the revolutionary Tribunal in Paris, to be guillotined in deference to principles. Thirty-two former officers—chevaliers of St. Louis, mousquetaires, nobles, priests, an ex-procureur-royal, an ex-treasurer of France, a former administrator of the department, and two ladies, one of them designated as “calling herself a former marchioness”—are confined, until peace is secured, in the jail at Montargis. Other former municipal officers and officers in the National Guard—men of the law, notaries and advocates, physicians, surgeons, former collectors, police commissioners, postmasters, merchants and manufacturers, men and women, married or widows, and widowers—are to make public apology and be summoned to the Temple of Reason to undergo there the humiliation of a public penance on the 20th of Ventose, at three o’clock in the afternoon. They all go, for the summons says, “whoever does not present himself on the day and hour named will be arrested and confined until peace is declared.” On reaching the church, purified by Jacobin adoration, “in the presence of the constituted authorities of the popular club and of the citizens convoked in general assembly,” they mount one by one into “a tribune raised three steps above the floor,” in such a way as to be in full sight. One by one the national agent, or the mayor, reprimands them in the following language: “You have been base enough to sign a fawning address to Louis XVI., the most odious and the vilest of tyrants, an ogre of the human species guilty of every sort of crime and debauchery. You are hereby censured by the people. You are moreover warned that on committing the first act of incivisme, or manifesting any antirevolutionary conduct, the surveillance of the constituted authorities will be extended to you in the most energetic manner; the tribunals will show you less leniency and the guillotine will insure prompt and imposing justice.” Each, called by name, receives in turn the threatened admonition, and, descending from the tribune amidst hues and cries, all sign the procès-verbal. But compunction is often wanting, and some of them seem to be not sufficiently penitent. Consequently, at the close of the ceremony, the National Agent calls the attention of the assembly to “the impudence manifested by certain aristocrats, so degraded that even national justice fails to make them blush”; and the Revolutionary Committee, “considering the indifference and derisive conduct of four women and three men, just manifested in this assembly; considering the necessity of punishing an inveterate aristocracy which seems to make sport of corrective acts that bear only (sic) on morals, in a most exemplary manner,” decides that the seven delinquents “shall be put under arrest, and confined in the jail of Ste. Marie.” The three who have shown indifference, are to be confined three months; the four who have shown derision, are to be confined until peace is restored. Besides this, the decree of the National Agent and the minutes of the meeting are to be printed and six thousand impressions struck off at the expense of the signers, “the richest and most ‘suspect’ ”—a former treasurer of France, a notary, a grocer, the wife of the former commandant of the gendarmerie, a widow and another woman—all, says the agent, “of very solid wealth and aristocracy.” “Bravo!” shouts the assembly, at this witticism; applause is given and it sings “the national hymn.” It is nine o’clock in the evening. This public penitence lasts six hours and the Jacobins of Montargis retire, proud of their work; having punished as a public affront, an old and legal manifestation of respect for the public magistrate; having sent either to the scaffold or to prison, and fined or disgraced the small local élite; having degraded to the level of prostitutes and felons under surveillance, reputable women and honorable men who are, by law, most esteemed under a normal system of government and who, under the revolutionary system are, by law, the least so.115
Two advantages, fortune and education, each involving the other, cause a man to be ranked in the upper class; hence, one or the other, whether each by itself or both together, mark a man out for spoliation, imprisonment, and death. In vain may he have demonstrated his Jacobinism, and Jacobinism of the ultra sort. Hérault-Séchelles, who voted for murdering the King, who belongs to the Committee of Public Safety, who, in the Upper-Rhine, has just carried out the worst revolutionary ordinances,116 but who has the misfortune to be rich and a man of the world, is led to the scaffold, and those devoted to the guillotine readily explain his condemnation: he is no patriot, how could he be, enjoying an income of two hundred thousand livres, and, moreover, is he not a general-advocate?117 One of these offences is sufficient. Alone and by itself, “opulence,” writes Saint-Just, “is a disgrace,” and, according to him, a man is opulent “who supports fewer children than he has thousands of livres income”; in effect, among the persons confined as “rich and egoists” we find, according to the very declaration of the Revolutionary Committee, persons with incomes of only four thousand, three thousand seven hundred, one thousand five hundred, and even five hundred livres.118 Moreover, a fortune or a competence, inspires its possessor with antirevolutionary sentiments; consequently, he is for the moment an obstruction; “You are rich,” says Cambon, making use of a personification, “you cherish an opinion, which compels us to be on the defensive; pay then, so as to indemnify us and be thankful for our indulgence which, precautionary and until peace is declared, keeps you under bolt and bar.”119 “Rich, antirevolutionary, and vicious,” according to Robespierre,120 “these three traits depend on each other, and, therefore, the possession of the superfluous is an infallible sign of aristocracy, a visible mark of incivisme” and, as Fouché says, “a stamp of reprobation.” “The superfluous is an evident and unwarrantable violation of the people’s rights; every man who has more than his wants call for, cannot use, and therefore he must only abuse.”121 Whoever does not make over to the masses the excess of what is strictly necessary … places himself in the rank of ‘suspects.’ Rich egoists, you are the cause of our misfortunes!”122 “You dared to smile contemptuously on the appellation of sans-culottes;123 you have enjoyed much more than your brethren alongside of you dying with hunger; you are not fit to associate with them, and since you have disdained to have them eat at your table, they cast you out eternally from their bosom and condemn you, in turn, to wear the shackles prepared for them by your indifference or your manoeuvres.” In other words, whoever has a good roof over his head, or wears good clothes, man or woman, idler or industrious, noble or commoner, is available for the prison or the guillotine, or, at the very least, he is a taxable and workable serf at pleasure; his capital and accumulations, if not spontaneously and immediately handed over, form a criminal basis and proof of conviction. The orders of arrest are generally issued against him on account of his wealth; in order to drain a town of these offenders one by one, all are penned together according to their resources; at Strasbourg,124 one hundred and ninety-three persons are taxed, each from six thousand to three hundred thousand livres, in all nine million livres, payable within twenty-four hours, by the leading men of each profession or trade, bankers, brokers, merchants, manufacturers, professors, pastors, lawyers, physicians, surgeons, publishers, printers, upholsterers, glass-dealers, rope-makers, master-masons, coffee-house and tavern keepers. And let there be no delay in responding to these orders within the prescribed time! Otherwise the delinquents will be placed in the stocks, on the scaffold, face to face with the guillotine. “One of the best citizens in the Commune, who had steadily manifested his attachment to the Revolution, being unable to realise a sum of two hundred and fifty thousand livres in one day, was fastened in the pillory.”125 Sometimes the orders affected an entire class, not alone nobles or priests, but all the members of any bourgeois profession or even of any handicraft. At Strasbourg, a little later, “considering that the thirst for gold has always controlled the brewers of the Commune,” they are condemned to two hundred and fifty thousand livres fine, to be paid in three days under penalty of being declared rebels, with the confiscation of their possessions”; then, upon another similar consideration, the bakers and flour dealers are taxed three hundred thousand livres.126 In addition to this, writes Representative Milhaud, at Guyardin,127 “We have ordered the arrest of all bankers, stock-brokers and notaries. … All their wealth is confiscated; we estimate the sums under seal at two or three millions in coin, and fifteen or sixteen millions in assignats.” There is the same haul of the net at Paris. By order of Rhuillier, procureur of the department, “seals are placed in the offices of all the bankers, stock-brokers, silversmiths, etc.,” and they themselves are shut up in the Madelonettes; a few days after, that they may pay their drafts, they are let out as a favor, but on condition that they remain under arrest in their homes, at their own expense, under guard of two good sans-culottes.128 In like manner, at Nantes,129 Lyons, Marseilles, and Bordeaux, the prisons are filled and the guillotine works according to the categories. At one time they are “all of the Grand Théatre,” or the principal merchants, “to the number of more than two hundred,” are incarcerated at Bordeaux in one night.130 At another time, Paris provides a haul of farmer-generals or parliamentarians. Carts leave Toulouse conveying its parliamentarians to Paris to undergo capital punishment. At Aix, writes an agent,131 “the guillotine is going to work on former lawyers; a few hundred heads legally taken off will do the greatest good.” And, as new crimes require new terms to designate them, they add to “incivisme” and “moderantisme,” the term “negociantisme,” all of which are easily stated and widespread crimes. “The rich and the merchants,” writes an observer,132 “are here, as elsewhere, born enemies of equality and amateurs of hideous federalism, the only aristocracy that remains to be crushed out.” Barras, with still greater precision, declares in the tribune that, “commerce is usurious, monarchical, and antirevolutionary.”133 Considered in itself, it may be defined as an appeal to bad instincts; it seems a corrupting, incivique, antifraternal institution, many Jacobins having proposed either to interdict it to private persons and attribute it wholly to the State, or suppress it along with the arts and manufactures which nourish it, in order that only a population of agriculturists and soldiers may be left in France.134
The second advantage and the second crime of the notables is superiority of education. “In all respectable assemblages,” writes a Dutch traveler in 1795,135 “you may be sure that one-half of those present have been in prison.” Add the absent, the guillotined, the exiled, emigrés, the transported, and note this, that, in the other favored half, those who did not quaff the prison cup had had a foretaste of it for, each expected daily to receive his warrant of arrest; “the worst thing under Robespierre, as several old gentlemen have told me, was that one never knew in the morning whether one would sleep in one’s own bed at night.” There was not a well-bred man who did not live in dread of this; examine the lists of “suspects,” of the arrested, of exiles, of those executed, in any town, district or department,136 and you will see immediately, through their quality and occupations, first, that three-quarters of the cultivated are inscribed on it, and next, that intellectual culture in itself is “suspect.” “They were equally criminal,”137 write the Strasbourg administrators, “whether rich or cultivated. … The (Jacobin) municipality declared the University federalist; it proscribed public instruction and, consequently, the professors, regents, and heads of schools, with all instructors, public as well as private, even those provided with certificates of civisme, were arrested; … every Protestant minister and teacher in the Lower-Rhine department was incarcerated, with a threat of being transferred to the citadel at Besançon.” Fourcroy, in the Jacobin Club at Paris, excusing himself for being a savant, for giving lectures on chemistry, for not devoting his time to the rantings of the Convention and of the clubs, is obliged to declare that he is poor, that he lives by his work, that he supports “his father, a sans-culotte, and his sans-culotte sisters”; although a good republican, he barely escapes, and the same with others like him. “All educated men were persecuted,” he states a month after Thermidor 9;138 “to have acquaintances, to be literary, sufficed for arrest, as an aristocrat. … Robespierre … with devilish ingenuity, abused, calumniated and overwhelmed with gall and bitterness all who were devoted to serious studies, all who professed extensive knowledge; … he felt that cultivated men would never bend the knee to him. … Instruction was paralysed; they wanted to burn the libraries. … Must I tell you that at the very door of your assembly errors in orthography are seen? Nobody learns how to read or write.” At Nantes, Carrier boasts of having “dispersed the literary chambers,” while in his enumeration of the evil-minded he adds “to the rich and merchants,” “all gens d’esprit.”139 Sometimes on the turnkey’s register we read that such a one was confined “for being clever and able to do mischief,” another for saying “good-day, gentlemen, to the municipal councillors.”140 Politeness, like other evidences of a good education, becomes a stigma; good-breeding seems not only a remnant of the ancient régime, but a revolt against new institutions; now, as the governing principle of these is, theoretically, abstract equality and, practically, the ascendency of the low class, there is an uprising against the established order of things when this consists in repudiating coarse companions, familiar oaths, and the indecent expressions of the common workman and the soldier. In sum, Jacobinism, through its doctrines and deeds, its dungeons and executioners, proclaims to the nation over which it holds the rod:141 “Be rude, that you may become republican, return to barbarism that you may show the superiority of your genius; abandon the customs of civilised people that you may adopt those of galley slaves; mar your language with a view to improve it; use that of the populace under penalty of death. Spanish mendicants treat each other in a dignified way; they show respect for humanity although in tatters. We, on the contrary, order you to assume our rags, our patois, our terms of intimacy. Don the carmagnole and tremble; become rustics and dolts, and prove your civism by the absence of all education.” Education,142 amiable qualities, gentle ways, a mild physiognomy, bodily graces, culture (literary), all natural endowments are henceforth “the inevitable causes of proscription.” One is self-condemned if one has not converted oneself into a sans-culotte and proletaire, in accordance with affected modes, air, language, and dress. Hence, “through a hypocritical contest hitherto unknown men who were not vicious deemed it necessary to appear so.” And worse still, “one was even afraid to be oneself; one changed one’s name, one went in disguise, wearing a vulgar and tasteless attire; everybody shrunk from being what he was.” For, according to the Jacobin programme, all Frenchmen must be recast in one uniform mould; they must be taken when small; all must be subject to the same enforced education, that of a mechanic, rustic, and soldier’s boy. Be warned, ye adults, by the guillotine, reform yourselves beforehand according to the prescribed pattern! No more costly, elegant or delicate crystal or gold vases! All are shattered or are still being shattered. Henceforth, only common ware is to be tolerated or ordered to be made, all alike in substance, shape, and color, manufactured by thousands at wholesale and in public factories, for the common and plain uses of rural and military life; all original and superior forms are to be rejected. “The masters of the day,” writes Daunou,143 “deliberately aimed their sword thrusts at superior talent, at energetic characters; they mowed down as well as they could in so short a time,” the flower and hope of the nation. In this respect they were consistent; equality-socialism allows none but automatic citizens, mere tools in the hands of the State, all alike, of a rudimentary fashion and easily managed, without personal conscience, spontaneity, curiosity, or integrity; whoever has cultivated himself, whoever has thought for himself and exercised his own will and judgment rises above the level and shakes off the yoke; to obtain consideration, to be intelligent and honorable, to belong to the élite, is to be antirevolutionary. In the popular club of Bourg-en-Bresse, Representative Javogues declared that “the Republic could be established only on the corpse of the last of the honest men.”144
On one side, the élite of France, deprived of common rights, in exile, in prison, under pikes, and on the scaffold, almost every person of rank, fortune, family, and merit, those eminent for intelligence, culture, talent, and virtue; on the other side, those above all rights, possessing every office and omnipotent in the irresponsible dictatorship, in the despotic proconsulships, in the sovereignty of justice, a horde of the outcasts of all classes, the parvenus of fanaticism, charlatanism, imbecility, and crime; often, through the coupling together of these personages, one sees the contrast between the governed and the governors in such strong relief that one almost regards it as calculated and arranged beforehand; the colors and brush of the painter, rather than words, are necessary to represent it. In the western section of Paris, in the prisons of the rue de Sèvres145 the prisoners consist of the most distinguished personages of the Quartier St. Germain, prelates, officers, grand-seigniors, and noble ladies—Monseigneur de Clermont-Tonnerre, Monseigneur de Crussol d’Amboise, Monseigneur de Hersaint, Monseigneur de St. Simon, bishop of Agde, the Comtesse de Narbonne-Pelet, the Duchesse de Choiseul, the Princesse de Chimay, the Comtesse de Raymond-Narbonne and her daughter, two years of age, in short, the flower of that refined society which Europe admired and imitated and which, in its exquisite perfection, equalled or surpassed all that Greece, Rome, and Italy had produced in brilliancy, polish, and amiability. Contrast with these the arbiters of their lives and deaths, the potentates of the same quarter who issue the warrants of arrest against them, who pen them in to speculate on them, and who revel at their expense and before their eyes: these consist of the members of the revolutionary committee of the Croix-Rouge, the eighteen convicted rogues and debauchees previously described,146 ex-cab-drivers, porters, cobblers, street-messengers, stevedores, bankrupts, counterfeiters, former or future jail-birds, all the police or hospital riff-raff. At the other end of Paris, in the east, in the tower of the Temple, separated from his sister and torn from his mother, still lives the Dauphin: no one in France merits any pity or respect. For, if there is a France, it is owing to the thirty-five military chiefs and crowned kings of which he is the last direct scion; without their thousand years of hereditary rule and preserving policy the intruders into the Tuileries who have just profaned their tombs at St. Denis and thrown their bones into a common ditch,147 would not be Frenchmen. At this moment, were suffrages free, the immense majority of the people, nineteen Frenchmen out of twenty, would recognise this innocent and precious child for their King, the heir of the race to which they owed their nationality and patrimony, a child of eight years, of rare precociousness, as intelligent as he is good, and of a gentle and winning expression. Look at the other figure alongside of him, his fist raised and with insults on his lips, with a hang-dog face, bloated with brandy, titular governor, official preceptor, and absolute master of this child, the cobbler Simon, malignant, foul-mouthed, mean in every way, forcing him to become intoxicated, starving him, preventing him from sleeping, thrashing him, and who, obeying orders, instinctively visits on him all his brutality and corruption that he may pervert, degrade, and deprave him.148 In the Palais de Justice, midway between the tower of the Temple and the prison in the rue de Sèvres, an almost similar contrast, transposing the merits and demerits, daily brings together in opposition the innocent with the vile; and there are days when the contrast, still more striking, seats criminals on the judges’ bench and judges on the bench of criminals. On the first and second of Floréal, the old representatives and trustees of liberty under the monarchy, twenty-five magistrates of the Paris and Toulouse parliaments, many of them being eminent intellects of the highest culture and noblest character, embracing the greatest historical names of the French magistracy—Etienne Pasquier, Lefèvre d’Ormesson, Molé de Champlatreux, De Lamoignon, de Malesherbes—are sent to the guillotine149 by the judges and juries familiar to us, assassins or brutes who do not take the trouble, or who have not the capacity, to give proper color to their sentences. M. de Malesherbes exclaims, after reading his indictment, “If that were only common-sense!” In effect those who pronounce judgment are, by their own admission, “substantial jurymen, good sans-culottes, men of nature.” And such a nature! One of these, Trenchard, an Auvergnat carpenter, portrays himself to the life in the following note addressed to his wife before the trial comes on: “If you are not alone, and your companion can work, you may come, my dear, and see the twenty-four gentlemen condemned, all of them former presidents or councillors in the parliaments of Toulouse and Paris. I recommend you to bring something along with you (to eat), it will be three hours before we finish. I embrace you, my dear friend and wife.”150 In the same court, Lavoisier, the founder and organiser of chemistry, the great discoverer, and condemned to death, asks for a reprieve of his sentence for a fortnight to complete an experiment, and the president, Coffinhal, another Auvergnat, replies, “The Republic has no need of savants.”151 And it has no need of poets. The first poet of the epoch, André Chénier, the delicate and superior artist who reopens antique sources of inspiration and starts the modern current, is guillotined; we possess the original manuscript indictment of his examination, a veritable master-piece of gibberish and barbarism, of which a full copy is necessary to convey an idea of its “turpitudes of sense and orthography.”152 The reader may there see, if he pleases, a man of genius delivered up to brutes, coarse, angry, despotic animals, who listen to nothing, who comprehend nothing, who do not even understand terms in common use, who stumble through their queries, and who, to ape intelligence, draggle their pens along in supreme stupidity.
The overthrow is complete. France, subject to the revolutionary government, resembles a human being forced to walk with his head down and to think with his feet.
Subsistences—I.Complexity of the economical operation by which articles of prime necessity reach the consumer—Conditions of the operation—Available advances—Cases in which these are not available—Case of the holder of these being no longer disposed to make them—II.Economical effect of the Jacobin policy from 1789 to 1793—Attacks on property—Direct attacks—Jacqueries, effective confiscations and proclamation of the socialistic creed—Indirect attacks—Bad administration of the public funds—Transformation of taxation and insignificance of the returns—Increased expenditures—The War-budget and subsistences after 1793—Paper-money—Enormous issues of it—Credit of the assignats run down—Ruin of public creditors and of all private credit—Rate of interest during the Revolution—Stoppage of trade and industry—Bad management of the new land-owners—Decrease of productive labor—Only the small rural land-owner works advantageously—Why he refuses assignats—He is no longer obliged to sell his produce at once—Dearness of food—It reaches a market with difficulty and in small quantities—The towns buy at a high price and sell at a low one—Food becomes dearer and famine begins—Prices during the first six months of 1793—III.First and general cause of privations—The socialistic principle of the revolutionary government—Measures against large as well as small properties—Dispossession of all remaining corporations, enormous issues of paper-money, forced rates of its circulation, forced loans, requisitions of coin and plate, revolutionary taxes, suppression of special organs of labor on a large scale—Fresh measures against small proprietorship—The Maximum, requisitions for food and labor—Situation of the shopkeeper, cultivator and laborer—Effect of the measures on labor on a small scale—Stoppage of selling—IV.Famine—In the provinces—At Paris—People standing in lines under the Revolutionary government to obtain food—Its quality—Distress and chagrin—V.Revolutionary remedies—Rigor against the refractory—Decrees and orders rendering the State the only depositary and distributor of food—Efforts made to establish a conscription of labor—Discouragement of the Peasant—He refuses to cultivate—Decrees and orders compelling him to harvest—His stubbornness—Cultivators imprisoned by thousands—The Convention is obliged to set them at liberty—Fortunate circumstances which save France from extreme famine—VI.Relaxation of the Revolutionary system after Thermidor—Repeal of the Maximum—New situation of the peasant—He begins cultivation again—Requisition of grain by the State—The cultivator indemnifies himself at the expense of private persons—Multiplication and increasing decline of assignats—The classes who have to bear the burden—Famine and misery during year III. and the first half of year IV.—In the country—In the small towns—In large towns and cities—VII.Famine and misery at Paris—Steps taken by the government to feed the capital—Monthly cost to the Treasury—Cold and hunger in the winter of 1794–1795—Quality of the bread—Daily rations diminished—Suffering, especially of the populace—Excessive physical suffering, despair, suicides, and deaths from exhaustion in 1795—Government dinners and suppers—Number of lives lost through want and war—Socialism as applied, and its effects on comfort, well-being and mortality.
Suppose a man forced to walk with his feet in the air and his head downward. By using extremely energetic measures he might, for a while, be made to maintain this unwholesome attitude, and certainly at the expense of a bruised or broken skull; it is very probable, moreover, that he would use his feet convulsively and kick terribly. But it is certain that if this course were persisted in, the man would experience intolerable pain and finally sink down; the blood would stop circulating and suffocation would ensue; the trunk and limbs would suffer as much as the head, and the feet would become numb and inert. Such is about the history of France under its Jacobin pedagogues; their rigid theory and persistent brutality impose on the nation an attitude against nature; consequently she suffers, and each day suffers more and more; the paralysis increases; the functions get out of order and cease to act, while the last and principal one,1 the most urgent, namely, physical support and the daily nourishment of the living individual, is so badly accomplished, against so many obstacles, interruptions, uncertainties, and deficiencies, that the patient, reduced to extreme want, asks if tomorrow will not be worse than today, and whether his semistarvation will not end in complete starvation.
Nothing, apparently, is simpler, and yet really more complex, than the physiological process by which, in the organised body, the proper restorative food flows regularly to the spot where it is needed, among the innumerably diverse and distant cells. In like manner, nothing is simpler at the first glance, and yet more complex, than the economical process by which, in the social organism, subsistences and other articles of prime necessity, flow of themselves to all points of the territory where they are needed and within reach of each consumer. It is owing to this that, in the social body as in the organised body, the terminal act presupposes many others anterior to and coördinate with it, a series of elaborations, a succession of metamorphoses, one elimination and transportation after another, mostly invisible and obscure, but all indispensable, and all of them carried out by infinitely delicate organs, so delicate that, under the slightest pressure, they get out of order, so dependent on each other that an injury to one affects the operations of the rest, and thus suppresses or perverts the final result to which, nearly or remotely, they all contribute.
Consider, for a moment, these precious economical organs and their mode of operation. In any tolerably civilised community that has lasted for any length of time, they consist, first in rank, of those who possess wealth arising from the accumulation of old and recent savings, that is to say, those who possess any sort of security, large or small, in money, in notes, or in kind, whatever its form, whether in lands, buildings or factories, in canals, shipping or machinery, in cattle or tools, as well as in every species of merchandise or produce. And see what use they make of these: each person, reserving what he needs for daily consumption, devotes his available surplus to some enterprise, the capitalist his ready money, the real-estate owner his land and tenements, the farmer his cattle, seed, and farming implements, the manufacturer his mills and raw material, the common-carrier his vessels, vehicles, and horses, the trader his warehouses and stock of goods for the year, and the retailer his shop and supplies for a fortnight, to which everybody, the agriculturist, merchant, and manufacturer, necessarily adds his cash on hand, the deposits in his bank for paying the monthly salaries of his clerks, and at the end of the week, the wages of his workmen. Otherwise, it would be impossible to till the soil, to build, to fabricate, to transport, to sell; however useful the work might be, it could not be perfected, or even begun, without a preliminary outlay in money or in kind; in every enterprise, the crop presupposes labor and seed-planting; if I want to dig a well I am obliged to hire a pick and the arms to wield it, or, in other terms, to make certain advances. But these advances are made only on two conditions: first, that he who makes them is able to make them, that is to say, that he is the possessor of an available surplus; and next, being the owner of this surplus, that he desires to make them, with this proviso that he may gain instead of losing by the operation. If I am wholly or partially ruined, if my tenants and farmers do not pay their rent,2 if my lands or goods do not bring half their value in the market, if the net proceeds of my possessions are threatened with confiscation or pillage, not only have I fewer securities to dispose of, but, again, I become more and more uneasy about the future; over and above my immediate consumption I have to provide for a prospective consumption; I add to my reserve stores especially of coin and provisions; I hold on to the remnant of my securities for myself and those who belong to me; they are no longer available and I can no longer make loans or enter upon my enterprise. And, on the other hand, if the loan or enterprise, instead of bringing me a profit, brings me loss; if the law is powerless or fails to do me justice and adds extra to ordinary risks; if my work once perfected is to become the prey of the government, of brigands, or of whoever pleases to seize it; if I am compelled to surrender my wares and merchandise at one-half their cost; if I cannot produce, put in store, transport, or sell except by renouncing all profit and with the certainty of not getting back my advances, I will no longer make loans or enter upon any undertaking whatever.
Such is the disposition and situation of people able to make advances in anarchical times, when the State falters and no longer performs its customary service, when property is no longer adequately protected by the public force, when jacqueries overspread the country and insurrections break out in the towns, when chateaux are sacked, archives burnt, shops broken into, provisions carried off and transportation is arrested, when rents and leases are no longer paid, when the courts dare no longer convict, when the constable no longer dares serve a warrant, when the gendarmerie holds back, when the police fails to act, when repeated amnesties shield robbers and incendiaries, when a revolution brings into local and central power dishonest and impoverished adventurers hostile to every one that possesses property of any kind. Such is the disposition and situation of all possessors of advances in socialistic times; when the usurping State, instead of protecting private property, destroys or seizes it; when it takes for itself the property of many of the great corporations; when it suppresses legally established credits without indemnity; when, by dint of expenditure and the burdens this creates, it becomes insolvent; when, through its paper-money and forced circulation, it annuls indebtedness in the hands of the creditor, and allows the debtor to go scot free; when it arbitrarily seizes current capital; when it makes forced loans and requisitions; when its tax on productions surpasses the cost of production and on merchandise the profit on its sale; when it constrains the manufacturer to manufacture at a loss and the merchant to sell at a loss; when its principles, judged by its acts, indicate a progression from partial to a universal confiscation. Through a certain affiliation, every phase of evil engenders the evil which follows, as may be said of a poison the effects of which spread or strike in, each function, affected by the derangement of one contiguous to it, becoming disturbed in its turn. The perils, mutilation, and suppression of property diminish available securities more and more, also the courage that risks them, that is to say, the mode of, and disposition to, make advances; through a lack of advances, useful enterprises languish, die out or are not undertaken; consequently, the production, supply, and sale of indispensable articles slacken, become interrupted, and cease altogether. There is less soap and sugar and fewer candles at the grocery, less wood and coal in the wood-yard, fewer oxen and sheep in the markets, less meat at the butcher’s, less grain and flour at the corn-exchange, and less bread at the bakeries. As articles of prime necessity are scarce they become dear; as people contend for them their dearness increases; the rich man ruins himself in the struggle to get hold of them, while the poor man never gets any, the first of all necessities becoming unattainable.
Such is the misery existing in France at the moment of the completion of the Jacobin conquest, and of which the Jacobins are the authors; for, for the past four years, they have waged systematic war against property. From below, they have provoked, excused and amnestied, or tolerated and authorised, all the popular attacks on property,3 countless insurrections, seven successive jacqueries, some of them so extensive as to cover eight or ten departments at the same time, the last one let loose on all France, that is to say, universal and lasting brigandage, the arbitrary rule of paupers, vagabonds, and ruffians; every species of robbery, from a refusal to pay rents and leases to the sacking of chateaux and ordinary domiciles, even to the pillage of markets and granaries, free scope to mobs which, under a political pretext, tax and ransom the “suspects” of all classes at pleasure, not alone the noble and the rich but the peaceable farmer and well-to-do artisan, in short, reverting back to the state of nature, to the dominion of appetites and lusts, and to a savage, primitive life in the forests. Only a short time before, in the month of February, 1793, through Marat’s recommendation, and with the connivance of the Jacobin municipality, the Paris riff-raff had broken into twelve hundred groceries and divided on the spot, either gratis or at the price it fixed, sugar, soap, brandy, and coffee. From above, they had undertaken, carried out, and multiplied the worst assaults on property, vast spoliations of every sort—the suppression of hundreds of millions of incomes and the confiscation of billions of capital; the abolition without indemnity of tithes and quitrents; the expropriation of the property of the clergy, of emigrés, that of the order of Malta, that of the pious, charitable, and educational associations and endowments, even laic; seizures of plate, of the sacred vessels and precious ornaments of the churches. And, since they are in power, others still more vast; after August 10, their newspapers in Paris and their commissioners in the departments,4 preached “the agrarian law, the holding of all property in common, the levelling of fortunes, the right of each fraction of the sovereignty” to help itself by force to all food and investments at the expense of the owner, to hunt down the rich, proscribe “land-owners, leading merchants, financiers, and all men in possession of whatever is superfluous.” Rousseau’s dogma that “the fruit belongs to everybody and the soil to no one” is established at an early date as a maxim of State in the Convention, while in the deliberations of the sovereign assembly socialism, openly avowed, becomes ascendant, and, afterwards, supreme. According to Robespierre,5 “whatever is essential to preserve life is common property to society at large; only the excess may be given up to individuals and surrendered to commercial enterprise.” With still greater solemnity, the pontiff of the sect, in the Declaration of Rights which, unanimously adopted by the all-powerful Jacobin club, is to serve as the corner-stone of the new institutions, pens the following formulae big with their consequences:6 “Society must provide for the support of all its members. The aid required by indigence is a debt of the rich to the poor. The right of property is limited,” and applies “only to that portion which the law guarantees. Every ownership, any trade, which bears prejudicially on the existence of our fellow-creatures is necessarily illicit and immoral.” The sense of this is clear, and yet more: the Jacobin populace, having decided that the possession of, and trade in, groceries was prejudicial to its existence, the grocers’ monopoly is, therefore, immoral and illicit, and consequently, it pillages their shops. Under the rule of the populace and of the “Mountain,” the Convention applies the theory, seizes capital wherever it can be found, and notifies the poor, in its name, “that they will find in the pocket-books of the rich whatever they need to supply their wants.”7
Over and above these striking and direct attacks, an indirect and secret attack, but still more significant, slowly undermines the basis of all present and future property. State affairs are everybody’s affairs, and, when the State ruins itself, everybody is ruined along with it. For, it is the country’s greatest debtor and its greatest creditor, while there is no debtor so free of seizure and no creditor so absorbing, since, making the laws and possessing the force, it can, firstly, repudiate indebtedness and send away the fund-holder with empty hands, and next, increase taxation and empty the taxpayer’s pocket of his last penny. There is no greater menace to private fortunes than the bad administration of the public fortune. Now, under the pressure of Jacobin principles and of the Jacobin faction, the trustees of France have administered as if they purposely meant to ruin their ward; every known means for wasting a fortune have been brought into play by them. In the first place, they have deprived him of three-fourths of his income. To please the people and enforce the theory, the taxes on articles consumed, on salt, with the excise subsidies and the octroi duties on liquors, meat, tobacco, leather, and gunpowder, have been abolished, while the new imposts substituted for the old ones, slowly fixed, badly apportioned and raised with difficulty have brought in no returns; on the 1st of February, 1793,8 the Treasury had received on the real and personal taxation of 1791, but one hundred and fifty millions instead of three hundred millions; on the same taxes for 1792, instead of three hundred millions it had obtained nothing at all. At this date, and during the four years of the Revolution, the total arrears of taxation amounted to six hundred and thirty-two millions—a bad debt that can hardly be recovered, and, in fact, it is already reduced one-half, since, even if the debtor could and was disposed to pay, he would pay in assignats, which, at this time, were at a discount of fifty per cent. In the second place, the new managers had quadrupled the public expenditure.9 What with the equipment and excursions of the National Guards, federations, patriotic festivals, and parades, the writing, printing, and publication of innumerable documents, reimbursements for suppressed offices, the installation of new administrations, aid to the indigent and to its charity workshops, purchases of grain, indemnities to millers and bakers, it was under the necessity of providing for the cost of the universal demolition and reconstruction. Now, the State had, for the most part, defrayed all these expenses. At the end of April, 1793, it had already advanced to the city of Paris alone, one hundred and ten million francs, while the Commune, insolvent, kept constantly extorting fresh millions.10 By the side of this gulf, the Jacobins had dug another, larger still, that of the war. For the first half of the year 1793 they threw into this pit first, one hundred and forty millions, then one hundred and sixty millions, and then one hundred and ninety million francs; in the second six months of 1793 the war and subsistences swallowed up three hundred million francs per month, and the more they threw into the two gulfs the deeper they became.11
Naturally, when there is no collecting a revenue and expenses go on increasing, one is obliged to borrow on one’s resources, and piecemeal, as long as these last. Naturally, when ready money is not to be had on the market, one draws notes and tries to put them in circulation; one pays tradesmen with written promises in the future, and thus exhausts one’s credit. Such is paper-money and the assignats, the third and most efficient way for wasting a fortune and which the Jacobins did not fail to make the most of. Under the Constituent Assembly, through a remnant of good sense and good faith, efforts were at first made to guarantee the fulfillment of written promises; the holders of assignats were almost secured by a first mortgage on the national possessions, which had been given to them coupled with an engagement not to raise more money on this guarantee, as well as not to issue any more assignats.12 But they did not keep faith. They rendered the security afforded by this mortgage inoperative and, as all chances of repayment disappeared, its value declined. Then, on the 27th of April, 1792, according to the report of Cambon, there begins an unlimited issue; according to the Jacobin financiers, nothing more is necessary to provide for the war than to turn the wheel and grind out promises to pay: in June, 1793, assignats to the amount of four billion three hundred and twenty millions have already been manufactured, and everybody sees that the mill must grind faster. This is why the guarantee, vainly increased, no longer suffices for the monstrous, disproportionate mortgage; it exceeds all limits, covers nothing, and sinks through its own weight. At Paris, the assignat of one hundred francs is worth in specie, in the month of June, 1791, eighty-five francs, in January, 1792, only sixty-six francs, in March, 1792, only fifty-three francs; rising in value at the end of the Legislative Assembly, owing to fresh confiscations, it falls back to fifty-five francs in January, 1793, to forty-seven francs in April, to forty francs in June, to thirty-three francs in July.13 Thus are the creditors of the State defrauded of a third, one-half, and two-thirds of their investment, and not alone the creditors of the State but every other creditor, since every debtor has the right to discharge his obligations by paying his debts in assignats. Enumerate, if possible, all who are defrauded of private claims, all money-lenders, and stock-holders who have invested in any private enterprise, either manufacturing or mercantile, those who have loaned money on contracts of longer or shorter date, all sellers of real-estate, with stipulations in their deeds for more or less remote payment, all land-owners who have leased their grounds or buildings for a term of years, all holders of annuities on private bond or on an estate, all manufacturers, merchants and farmers who have sold their wares, goods, and produce on time, all clerks on yearly salaries, and even all other employees, underlings, servants, and workmen receiving fixed salaries for a specified term. There is not one of these persons whose capital, or income payable in assignats, is not at once crippled in proportion to the decline in value of assignats, so that not only the State falls into bankruptcy but likewise every creditor in France, legally bankrupt along with it through its fault.
In such a situation how can any enterprise be commenced or maintained? Who dares take a risk, especially when disbursements are large and returns remote? Who dares lend on long credits? If loans are still made they are not for a year but for a month, while the interest which, before the Revolution was six, five, or even four per cent. per annum, is now “two per cent. a month on securities.” It soon runs up higher and, at Paris and Strasbourg we see it rising, as in India and the Barbary States, to four, five, six, and even seven per cent. a month.14 What holder of raw material, or of manufactured goods, would dare make entries on his books as usual and allow his customer the indispensable credit of three months? What large manufacturer would presume to make goods up, what wholesale merchant would care to make shipments, what man of wealth or with a competence would build, drain, and construct dams and dykes, repair, or even maintain them with the positive certainty of delays in getting back only one-half his advances and with the increasing certainty of getting nothing? Large establishments fail from year to year in all directions; after the ruin of the nobles and the departure of wealthy foreigners, every craft dependent on luxurious tastes, those of Paris and Lyons, which are the standard for Europe, all the manufactories of rich stuffs, and furniture, and other artistic, elegant, and fashionable articles; after the insurrection of the blacks in St. Domingo, and other troubles in the West Indies, the great colonial trade and remarkable prosperity of Nantes and Bordeaux, including all the industrial enterprises by which the production, transportation, and circulation of cotton, sugar, and coffee were affected;15 after the declaration of war with England, the shipping interest; after the declaration of war with all Europe, the commerce of the continent.16 Failure after failure, an universal crash, utter cessation of extensively organised and productive labor: instead of productive industries, I see none now but destructive industries, those of the agricultural and commercial vermin, those of brokers and speculators who dismantle mansions and abbeys, and who demolish chateaux and churches so as to sell the materials as cheap as dirt, who bargain away national possessions, so as to make a profit on the transaction. Imagine the mischief a temporary owner, steeped in debt, needy and urged on by the maturity of his engagements, can and must do to an estate held under a precarious title and of suspicious acquirement, which he has no idea of keeping, and from which, meanwhile, he derives every possible benefit:17 not only does he put no spokes in the mill-wheel, no stones in the dyke, no tiles on the roof, but he buys no manure, exhausts the soil, devastates the forest, alienates the fields, and dismembers the entire farm, damaging the ground and the stock of tools and injuring the dwelling by selling its mirrors, lead and iron, and oftentimes the window-shutters and doors; he turns all into cash, no matter how, at the expense of the domain, which he leaves in a run-down condition, unfurnished, and for a long time unproductive. In like manner, the communal possessions, ravaged, pillaged, and then pieced out and divided off, are so many organisms which are sacrificed for the immediate relief of the village poor, but of course to the detriment of their future productiveness and an abundant yield.18 Alone, amongst these millions of men who have stopped working, or work the wrong way, the petty cultivator labors to advantage; free of taxes, of tithes, and of feudal imposts, possessing a scrap of ground which he has obtained for almost nothing or without stretching his purse-strings, he works in good spirits;19 he is sure that henceforth his crop will no longer be eaten up by the levies of the seignior, of the décimateur, and of the King, that it will belong to him, that it will be wholly his, and that the worse the famine in the towns, the dearer he will sell his produce. Hence, he has ploughed more vigorously than ever; he has even cleared waste ground; getting the soil gratis, or nearly so, and having to make but few advances, having no other use for his advances, consisting of seed, manure, the work of his cattle and of his own hands, he has planted, reaped, and raised grain with the greatest energy. Perhaps other articles of consumption will be scarce; it may be that, owing to the ruin of other branches of industry, it will be hard to get dry-goods, shoes, sugar, soap, oil, candles, wine, and brandy; it may happen that, owing to the bungling way in which agricultural transformations have been effected, all produce of the secondary order, meat, vegetables, butter, and eggs, may become scarce. In any event, French aliment par excellence is on hand, standing in the field or stored in sheafs in the barns; in 1792 and 1793, and even in 1794, there is enough grain in France to provide every French inhabitant with his daily bread.20
But that is not enough. In order that each Frenchman may obtain his bit of bread every day, it is still essential that grain should reach the markets in sufficient quantities, and that the bakers should every day have enough flour to make all the bread that is required; moreover, the bread offered for sale in the bakeries should not exceed the price which the majority of consumers can afford to pay. Now, in fact, through a forced result of the new system, neither of these conditions is fulfilled. In the first place, wheat, and hence bread, is too dear. Even at the old rate, these would still be too dear for the innumerable empty or half-empty purses, after so many attacks on property, industry, and trade, now that so many hundreds of workmen and employees are out of work, now that so many land-owners and bourgeois receive no rents, now that incomes, profits, wages, and salaries have diminished by hundreds of thousands. But wheat, and, consequently, bread, has not remained at old rates. Instead of a sack of wheat being worth in Paris fifty francs in February, 1793, it is worth sixty-five francs; in May, 1793, one hundred francs and then one hundred and fifty; and hence bread, in Paris, early in 1793, instead of being three sous the pound, costs six sous, in many of the southern departments seven and eight sous, and in other places ten and twelve sous.21 The reason is, that, since August 10, 1792, after the King’s fall and the wrenching away of the ancient keystone of the arch which still kept the loosened stones of the social edifice in place, the frightened peasant would no longer part with his produce; he determined not to take assignats, not to let his grain go for anything but ringing coin. To exchange good wheat for bad, dirty paper rags seemed to him a trick, and justly so, for, on going to town every month he found that the dealers gave him less merchandise for these rags. A hoarder, and so distrustful, he must have good, old fashioned crowns, of the old stamp, so as to lay them away in a jar or old woollen stocking; give him specie or he will keep his grain. For he is not, as formerly, obliged to part with it as soon as it is cut, to pay taxes and rent; the bailiff and sheriff are no longer there to distrain him; in these times of disorder and demagogism, under impotent or partial authorities, neither the public nor the private creditor has the power to compel payment, while the spurs which formerly impelled the farmer to seek the nearest market are blunted or broken. He therefore stays away, and he has excellent reasons for so doing. Vagabonds and the needy stand by the roadside and at the entrances of the towns to stop and pillage the loaded carts; in the markets and on the open square, women cut open bags of grain with their scissors and empty them, or the municipality, forced to do it by the crowd, fixes the price at a reduced rate.22 The larger a town is the greater the difficulty in supplying its market; for its subsistences are drawn from a distance; each department, each canton, each village keeps its own grain for itself by means of legal requisitions or by brutal force; it is impossible for wholesale dealers in grain to make bargains; they are styled monopolists, and the mob, breaking into their storehouses, hangs them out of preference.23 As the government, accordingly, has proclaimed their speculations “crimes,” it is going to interdict their trade and substitute itself for them.24 But this substitution only increases the penury still more; in vain do the towns force collections, tax their rich men, raise money on loan, and burden themselves beyond their resources;25 they only make the matter worse. When the municipality of Paris expends twelve thousand francs a day for the sale of flour at a low price in the markets, it keeps away the flour-dealers, who cannot deliver flour at such low figures; the result is that there is not flour enough in the market for the six hundred thousand mouths in Paris; when it expends seventy-five thousand francs daily to indemnify the bakers, it attracts the outside population, which rushes into Paris to get bread cheap, and for the seven hundred thousand mouths of Paris and the suburbs combined, the bakers have not an adequate supply. Whoever comes late finds the shop empty; consequently, everybody tries to get there earlier and earlier, at dawn, before daybreak, and then five or six hours before daybreak. In February, 1793, long lines of people are already waiting at the bakers’ door, these lines growing longer and longer in April, while in June they are enormously long.26 Naturally, for lack of bread, people fall back on other aliments, which also grow dearer; add to this the various contrivances and effects of Jacobin politics which still further increase the dearness of food of all sorts, and also of every other necessary article: for instance, the extremely bad condition of the roads, which renders transportation slower and more costly; the prohibition of the export of coin and hence the obtaining of food from abroad; the decree which obliges each industrial or commercial association, at present or to come, to “pay annually into the national treasury one-quarter of the amount of its dividends”; the revolt in Vendée, which deprives Paris of six hundred oxen a week; the feeding of the armies, which takes one-half of the cattle brought to the Poissy market; shutting off the sea and the continent, which ruins manufacturers and extensive commercial operations; the insurrections in Bordeaux, Marseilles, and the South, which still further raise the price of groceries, sugar, soap, oil, candles, wine, and brandy.27 Early in 1793, a pound of beef in France is worth on the average, instead of six sous twenty sous; in May, at Paris, brandy which, six months before, cost thirty-five sous, costs ninety-four sous; in July, a pound of veal, instead of five sous, costs twenty-two sous. Sugar, from twenty sous, advances to four francs ten sous; a candle costs seven sous. France, pushed on by the Jacobins, approaches the depths of misery, entering the first circle of its Inferno; other circles follow down deeper and deeper, narrower still and yet more sombre; under Jacobin impulsion is she to descend to the lowest?
It is evident that when nutrition in the social organism goes on slowly and is interrupted in some places, it is owing to the derangement of one of the inmost fibres of the economical machine. It is evident that this fibre consists of the sentiment by which man holds on to his property, fears to risk it, refuses to depreciate it, and tries to increase it. It is evident that, in man as he actually is, as now fashioned, this intense, tenacious sentiment, always on the alert and active, is the magazine of inward energy which provides for three-fourths, almost the whole, of that sustained effort, that extreme cautiousness, that determined perseverance which leads the individual to undergo privation, to contrive and to exert himself, to turn to profitable account the labor of his hands, brain, and capital, and to produce, save, and create for himself and for others various resources and comforts.28 Thus far, this sentiment has been only partially affected, and the injury has been confined to the well-to-do and wealthy class; hence, only one-half of his useful energy has been destroyed, and the services of the well-to-do and wealthy class have been only specially dispensed with; but little else than the labor of the capitalist, proprietor, and man of enterprise has been suppressed, that far-reaching, combined, comprehensive labor, the products of which consist of objects of luxury and comfort, abundant supplies always on hand, and the ready and spontaneous distribution of indispensable commodities. There remains to crush out what is left of this laborious and nutritive fibre; the remnant of useful energy has to be destroyed down to its extirpation among the people; there must be a suppression, as far as possible, of all manual, rude labor on a small scale, and of its rudimentary fruits; the discouragement of the insignificant shopkeeper, mechanic and ploughman must be effected; the corner-grocer must be prevented from selling his sugar and candles, and the cobbler from mending shoes: the miller must think of giving up his mill and the wagoner of abandoning his cart; the farmer must be convinced that the best thing he can do is to get rid of his horses, eat his pork himself,29 let his oxen famish and leave his crops to rot on the ground. The Jacobins are to do all this, for it is the inevitable result of the theory that they have proclaimed and which they apply. According to this theory the stern, strong, deep-seated instinct through which the individual stubbornly holds on to what he has, to what he makes for himself and for those that belong to him, is just the unwholesome fibre that must be rooted out or paralysed at any cost; its true name is “egoism, incivism,” and its operations consist of outrages on the community, which is the sole legitimate proprietor of property and products, and, yet more, of all persons and services. Body and soul, all belongs to the State, nothing to individuals, and, if need be, the State has the right to take not only lands and capital, but, again, to claim and tax at whatever rate it pleases all corn and cattle, all vehicles and the animals that draw them, all candles and sugar; it has the right to appropriate to itself and tax at whatever rate it pleases, the labor of shoemaker, tailor, miller, wagoner, ploughman, reaper, and thrasher. The seizure of men and things is universal, and the new sovereigns do their best at it; for, in practice, necessity urges them on; insurrection thunders at their door; their supporters, all crackbrains with empty stomachs, the poor and the idle, and the Parisian populace, listen to no reason and blindly insist on things haphazard; they are bound to satisfy their patrons at once, to issue one on top of the other all the decrees they call for, even when impracticable and mischievous; to starve the provinces so as to feed the city, to starve the former tomorrow so as to feed the latter today. Subject to the clamors and menaces of the street they despatch things rapidly; they cease to care for the future, the present being all that concerns them; they take and take forcibly; they uphold violence by brutality, they support robbery with murder; they expropriate persons by categories and appropriate objects by categories, and after the rich they despoil the poor. During fourteen months the revolutionary government thus keeps both hands at work, one hand completing the confiscation of property, large and medium, and the other proceeding to the entire abolition of property on a small scale.
Against large or medium properties it suffices to extend and aggravate the decrees already passed. The spoliation of the last of existing corporations must be effected: the government confiscates the possessions of hospitals, communes, and all scientific or literary associations.30 There is the spoliation of State credits and all other credits: it issues in fourteen months five billions one million of assignats, often one billion four hundred millions and two billions at a time, under one decree, and thus condemns itself to complete future bankruptcy; it calls in the one billion five hundred million of assignats bearing the royal stamp (à face royale) and thus arbitrarily converts and reduces the public debt on the Grand Ledger, which is already, in fact, a partial and declared bankruptcy. Six months imprisonment for whoever refuses to accept assignats at par, twenty years in irons if the offence is repeated and the guillotine if there is an incivique intention or act, which suffices for all other creditors.31 The spoliation of individuals, a forced loan of a billion on the rich, requisitions for coin against assignats at par, seizures of plate and jewels in private houses, revolutionary taxes so numerous as not only to exhaust the capital, but likewise the credit, of the person taxed,32 and the resumption by the State of the public domain pledged to private individuals for the past three centuries: how many years of labor are requisite to bring together again so much available capital, to reconstruct in France and to refill the private reservoirs in which all the accumulated savings will flow out, like a power-giving mill-stream, on the great wheel of general enterprise? Take into account, moreover, the enterprises which are directly destroyed, root and branch, by revolutionary executions, enforced against the manufacturers and traders of Lyons, Marseilles, and Bordeaux, proscribed in a mass,33 guillotined, imprisoned, or put to flight, their factories stopped, their storehouses put under sequestration, with their stocks of brandy, soap, silk, muslins, leather, paper, serges, cloth, canvas, cordage, and the rest; the same at Nantes under Carrier, at Strasbourg under Saint-Just, and everywhere else.34 “Commerce is annihilated,” writes a Swiss merchant,35 from Paris, and the government, one would say, tries systematically to render it impossible. On the 27th of June, 1793, the Convention closes the Bourse; on the 15th of April, 1794, it suppresses “financial associations” and “prohibits all bankers, merchants and other persons from organising any establishment of the said character under any pretext or title whatsoever.” On the 8th of September, 1793, the Commune places seals “in all the counting-houses of bankers, stock-brokers, agents and silver-dealers,”36 and locks up their owners; as a favor, considering that they are obliged to pay the drafts drawn on them, they are let out, but provisionally, and on condition that they remain under arrest at home, “under the guard of two good citizens,” at their own expense. Such is the case in Paris and in other cities, not alone with prominent merchants, but likewise with notaries and lawyers, with whom funds are on deposit and who manage estates; a sans-culotte with his pike stands in their cabinet whilst they write, and he accompanies them in the street when they call on their clients. Imagine the state of a notary’s office or a counting-room under a system of this sort! The master of it winds up his business as soon as he can, no matter how, makes no new engagements, and does as little as possible. Still more inactive than he, his colleagues, condemned to an indefinite listlessness, under lock and key in the common prison, no longer attend to their business. There is a general, total paralysis of those natural organs which, in economic life, produce, elaborate, receive, store, preserve, exchange, and transmit in gross masses; and which, on the reverse side, hamper, throttle, or consume all the lesser subordinate organs to which the superior ones no longer provide outlets, intermediary agencies or aliment.
It is now the turn of the lowly. Whatever their sufferings may be they are to do their work as in healthy epochs, and they must do it perforce. The Convention, pursuing its accustomed rigid logical course with its usual shortsightedness, lays on them its violent and inept hands; they are trodden down, trampled upon and mauled for the purpose of curing them. Farmers are forbidden to sell their produce except in the markets, and obliged to bring to these a quota of so many sacks per week, and accompanied with military raids which compel them to furnish their quotas.37 Shopkeepers are ordered “to expose for sale, daily and publicly, all goods and provisions of prime necessity” that they have on hand, while a maximum price is established, above which no one shall sell “bread, flour and grain, vegetables and fruits, wine, vinegar, cider, beer and brandy, fresh meat, salt meat, pork, cattle, dried, salted, smoked or pickled fish, butter, honey, sugar, sweet-oil, lamp-oil, candles, firewood, charcoal and other coal, salt, soap, soda, potash, leather, iron, steel, castings, lead, brass, hemp, linen, woollens, canvas and woven stuffs, sabots, shoes and tobacco.” Whoever keeps on hand more than he consumes is a monopolist and commits a capital crime; the penalty, very severe, is imprisonment or the pillory, for whoever sells above the established price:38 such are the simple and direct expedients of the revolutionary government, and such is the character of its inventive faculty, like that of the savage who hews down a tree to get at its fruit. For, after the first application of the maximum the shopkeeper is no longer able to carry on business; his customers, attracted by the sudden depreciation in price of his wares, flock to his shop and empty it in a few days;39 having sold his goods for half what they cost him,40 he has got back only one-half of his advances; therefore, he can only one-half renew his assortment, less than a half, since he has not paid his bills, and his credit is declining, the representatives on mission having taken all his coin, plate, and assignats. Hence, during the following month, buyers find on his unfurnished counters nothing but scraps and refuse.
In like manner, after the proclamation of the maximum,41 the peasant refuses to bring his produce to market, while the revolutionary army is not everywhere on hand to take it from him by force: he leaves his crop unthrashed as long as he can, and complains of not finding the men to thrash it. If necessary, he hides it or feeds it out to his animals. He often barters it away for wood, for a side of bacon or in payment for a day’s work. At night, he carts it off six leagues to a neighboring district, where the local maximum is fixed at a higher rate. He knows who, in his own vicinity, still has specie in his pocket and he underhandedly supplies him with his stores. He especially conceals his superabundance and, as formerly, plays the sufferer. He is on good terms with the village authorities, with the mayor and national agent who are as interested as he is in evading the law, and, on a bribe being necessary, he gives it. At last, he allows himself to be sued, and his property attached; he goes to prison and tires the authorities out with his obstinacy. Hence, from week to week, less flour and grain and fewer cattle come to market, while meat becomes scarcer at the butcher’s, and bread at the baker’s. Having thus paralysed the lesser organs of supply and demand the Jacobins now have only to paralyse labor itself, the skilled hands, the active and vigorous arms. To do this, it suffices to substitute for the independent private workshop, the compulsory national workshop, piece-work for work by the day, the attentive, energetic workman who minds his business and expects to earn money, for the littleness and laxity of the workman picked up here and there, poorly paid and paid even when he botches and strolls about. This is what the Jacobins do by forcibly commanding the services of all sorts of laborers,42 “all who help handle, transport and retail produce and articles of prime necessity,” “country people who usually get in the crops,” and, more particularly, thrashers, reapers, carters, raftsmen, and also shoemakers, tailors, blacksmiths, and the rest. At every point of the social organism, the same principle is applied with the same result. Substitute everywhere an external, artificial, and mechanical constraint for the inward, natural, and animating stimulant, and you get nothing but an universal atrophy; deprive people of the fruits of their labor, and yet more, force them to produce by fear, confiscate their time, their painstaking efforts and their persons, reduce them to the condition of fellahs, create in them the sentiments of fellahs, and you will have nothing but the labor and productions of fellahs, that is to say, a minimum of labor and production, and hence, insufficient supplies for sustaining a very dense population, which, multiplied through a superior and more productive civilisation, will not long subsist under a barbarous, inferior, and unproductive régime. When this systematic and complete expropriation terminates we see the final result of the system, no longer a dearth, but famine, famine on a large scale, and the destruction of lives by millions. Among the Jacobins,43 some of the maddest who are clearsighted, on account of their fury, Guffroy, Antonelle, Jean Bon St.-André, Collot d’Herbois, foresee the consequences and accept them along with the principle; others, who avoid seeing it, are only the more determined in the application of it, while all together work with all their might to aggravate the misery of which the lamentable spectacle is so vainly exposed under their eyes.
Collot d’Herbois wrote from Lyons on November 6, 1793: “There is not two days’ supply of provisions here.” On the following day: “The present population of Lyons is one hundred and thirty thousand souls at least, and there is not sufficient subsistence for three days.” Again the day after: “Our situation in relation to food is deplorable.” Then, the next day: “Famine is beginning.”44 Near by, in the Montbrison district, in February, 1794, “there is no food or provisions left for the people”; all has been taken by requisition and carried off, even seed for planting, so that the fields lie fallow.45 At Marseilles, “since the maximum, everything is lacking; even the fishermen no longer go out (on the sea) so that there is no supply of fish to live on.”46 At Cahors, in spite of multiplied requisitions, the Directory of Lot and Representative Taillefer47 state that “the inhabitants, for more than eight days, are reduced wholly to maslin bread composed of one-fifth of wheat and the rest of barley, barley-malt, and millet.” At Nismes,48 to make the grain supply last, which is giving out, the bakers and all private persons are ordered not to bolt meal, but to leave the bran in it and knead and bake the “dough such as it is.” At Grenoble,49 “the bakers have stopped baking; the country people no longer bring wheat in; the dealers hide away their goods, or put them in the hands of neighborly officials, or send them off.” “It goes from bad to worse,” write the agents of Huningue;50 “one might say even, that they would give this or that article to their cattle rather than sell it in conformity with the tax.” The inhabitants of towns are everywhere put on rations, and so small a ration as to scarcely keep them from dying with hunger. “Since my arrival in Tarbes,” writes another agent,51 “every person is limited to half a pound of bread a day, composed one-third of wheat and two-thirds of corn meal.” The next day after the fête in honor of the tyrant’s death there was absolutely none at all. “A half-pound of bread is also allowed at Evreux,52 “and even this is obtained with a good deal of trouble, many being obliged to go into the country and get it from the farmers with coin.” And even “they have got very little bread, flour or wheat, for they have been obliged to bring what they had to Evreux for the armies and for Paris.”
It is worse at Rouen and at Bordeaux: at Rouen, in Brumaire, the inhabitants have only one-quarter of a pound per head per diem of bread; at Bordeaux, “for the past three months,” says the agent,53 “the people sleep at the doors of the bakeries, to pay high for bread which they often do not get. … There has been no baking done today, and tomorrow only half a loaf will be given to each person. This bread is made of oats and beans. … On days that there is none, beans, chestnuts, and rice are distributed in very small quantities,” four ounces of bread, five of rice or chestnuts. “I, who tell you this, have already eaten eight or ten meals without bread; I would gladly do without it if I could get potatoes in place of it, but these, too, cannot be had.” Five months later, fasting still continues, and it lasts until after the reign of Terror, not alone in the town, but throughout the department. “In the district of Cadillac,” says Tallien,54 “absolute dearth prevails; the citizens of the rural districts contend with each other for the grass in the fields; I have eaten bread made of dog-grass.” Haggard and worn out, the peasant, with his pallid wife and children, resorts to the marsh to dig roots, while there is scarcely enough strength in his arms to hold the plough. The same spectacle is visible in places which produce but little grain, or where the granaries have been emptied by the revolutionary drafts. “In many of the Indre districts,” writes the representative on missions,55 “food is wanting absolutely. Even in some of the communes, many of the inhabitants are reduced to a frightful state of want, feeding on acorns, bran and other unhealthy food. … The districts of Châtre and Argenton, especially, will be reduced to starvation unless they are promptly relieved. … The cultivation of the ground is abandoned; most of the persons in the jurisdiction wander about the neighboring departments in search of food.” And it is doubtful whether they find it. In the department of Cher, “the butchers can no longer slaughter; the dealers’ stores are all empty.” In Allier, “the slaughter-houses and markets are deserted, every species of vegetable and aliment having disappeared; the inns are closed.” In one of the Lozère districts, composed of five cantons, of which one produces an extra quantity of rye, the people live on requisitions imposed on Gard and the Upper Loire; the extortions of the representatives in these two departments “were distributed among the municipalities, and by these to the most indigent: many entire families, many of the poor and even of the rich, suffered for want of bread during six or eight days, and this frequently.56 Nevertheless they do not riot; they merely supplicate and stretch forth their hands “with tears in their eyes.” Such is the diet and submission of the stomach in the provinces. Paris is less patient. For this reason, all the rest is sacrificed to it,57 not merely the public funds, the Treasury from which it gets one or two millions per week,58 but whole districts are starved for its benefit, six departments providing grain, twenty-six departments providing pork,59 at the rate of the maximum, through requisitions, through the prospect of imprisonment and of the scaffold in case of refusal or concealment, under the predatory bayonets of the revolutionary army. The capital, above all, has to be fed. Let us see, under this system of partiality, how people live in Paris and what they feed on.
“Frightful crowds” at the doors of the bakeries, then at the doors of the butchers and grocers, then at the markets for butter, eggs, fish, and vegetables, and then on the quay for wine, firewood, and charcoal—such is the steady refrain of the police reports.60 And this lasts uninterruptedly during the fourteen months of revolutionary government: long lines of people waiting in turn for bread, meat, oil, soap, and candles, “queues for milk, for butter, for wood, for charcoal, queues everywhere!”61 “There was one queue beginning at the door of a grocery in the Petit-Carreau stretching half-way up the rue Montorgueil.”62 These queues form at three o’clock in the morning, one o’clock, and at midnight, increasing from hour to hour. Picture to yourself, reader, the file of wretched men and women sleeping on the pavement when the weather is fine63 and when not fine, standing up on stiff tottering legs; above all in winter, “the rain pouring on their backs,” and their feet in the snow, for so many weary hours in dark, foul, dimly lighted streets strewed with garbage; for, for want of oil, one-half of the the street lamps are extinguished, and for lack of money, there is no repavement, no more sweeping, the offal being piled up against the walls.64 The crowd draggles along through it, likewise, nasty, tattered and torn, people with shoes full of holes, because the shoemakers do no more work for their customers, and in dirty shirts, because no more soap can be had to wash with, while, morally as well as physically, all these forlorn beings elbowing each other render themselves still fouler. Promiscuousness, contact, weariness, waiting, and darkness afford free play to the grosser instincts; especially in summer, natural bestiality and Parisian mischievousness have full play.65 “Lewd women” pursue their calling standing in the row; it is an interlude for them; “their provoking expressions, their immoderate laughter,” is heard some distance off and they find it a convenient place: two steps aside, on the flank of the row, are “half-open doors and dark alleys” which invite a confab; many of these women who have brought their mattresses “sleep there and commit untold abominations.” What an example for the wives and daughters of steady workmen, for honest servants who hear and see! “Men stop at each row and choose their dulcinea, while others, less shameless, pounce on the women like bulls and kiss them one after the other.” Are not these the fraternal kisses of patriotic Jacobins? Do not Mayor Pache’s wife and daughter go to the clubs and kiss drunken sans-culottes? And what says the guard? It has enough to do to restrain another blind and deaf animal instinct, aroused as it is by suffering, anticipation, and deception.
On approaching each butcher’s stall before it opens “the porters, bending under the weight of a side of beef, quicken their steps so as not to be assailed by the crowd which presses against them, seeming to devour the raw meat with their eyes.” They force a passage, enter the shop in the rear, and it seems as if the time for distributing the meat had come; the gendarmes, spurring their horses to a gallop, scatter the groups that are too dense; “rascals, in pay of the Commune,” range the women in files, two and two, “shivering” in the cold morning air of December and January, awaiting their turn. Beforehand, however, the butcher, according to law, sets aside the portion for the hospitals, for pregnant women and others who are confined, for nurses, and besides, notwithstanding the law, he sets aside another portion for the revolutionary committee of the section, for the assistant commissioner and superintendent, for the pachas and semipachas of the quarter, and finally for his rich customers who pay him extra.66 To this end, “porters with broad shoulders form an impenetrable rampart in front of the shop and carry away whole oxen”; after this is over, the women find the shop stripped, while many, “after wasting their time for four mortal hours,” go away empty handed. With this prospect before them the daily assemblages get to be uneasy and the waves rise; nobody, except those at the head of the row, is sure of his pittance; those that are behind regard enviously and with suppressed anger the person ahead of them. First come outcries, then jeerings, and then scuffling; the women rival the men in struggling and in profanity,67 and they hustle each other. The line suddenly breaks; each rushes to get ahead of the other; the foremost place belongs to the most robust and the most brutal, and to secure it they have to trample down their neighbors.
There are fisticuffs every day.68 When an assemblage remains quiet the spectators take notice of it. In general “they fight,69 snatch bread out of each other’s hands; those who cannot get any forcing whoever gets a loaf weighing four pounds to share it in small pieces. The women yell frightfully. … Children sent by their parents are beaten,” while the weak are pitched into the gutter. “In distributing the meanest portions of food70 it is force which decides,” the strength of loins and arms; “a number of women this morning came near losing their lives in trying to get four ounces of butter.” More sensitive and more violent than men, “they do not, or will not, listen to reason,71 they pounce down like harpies” on the market-wagons; they thrash the drivers, strew the vegetables and butter on the ground, tumble over each other and are suffocated through the impetuosity of the assault; some, “trampled upon, almost crushed, are carried off half-dead.” Everybody for himself. Empty stomachs feel that, to get anything, it is important to get ahead, not to await for the distribution, the unloading, or even the arrival of the supplies. “A boat laden with wine having been signalled, the crowd rushed on board to pillage it and the boat sunk,” probably along with a good many of its invaders.72 Other gatherings at the barriers stop the peasants’ wagons and take their produce before they reach the markets. Outside the barriers, children and women throw stones at the milkmen, forcing them to get down from their carts and distribute milk on the spot. Still further out, one or two leagues off on the highways, gangs from Paris go at night to intercept and seize the supplies intended for Paris. “This morning,” says a watchman, “all the Faubourg St. Antoine scattered itself along the Vincennes road and pillaged whatever was on the way to the city; some paid, while others carried off without paying. … The unfortunate peasants swore that they would not fetch anything more,” the dearth thus increasing through the efforts to escape it.
In vain the government makes its requisitions for Paris as if in a state of siege, and fixes the quantity of grain on paper which each department, district, canton, and commune, must send to the capital. Naturally, each department, district, canton, and commune strives to retain its own supplies, for charity begins at home.73 Especially in a village, the mayor and members of a municipality, themselves cultivators, are lukewarm when the commune is to be starved for the benefit of the capital; they declare a less return of grain than there really is; they allege reasons and pretexts; they mystify or suborn the commissioner on subsistences, who is a stranger, incompetent and needy; they make him drink and eat, and, now and then, fill his pocket-book; he slips over the accounts, he gives the village receipts on furnishing three-quarters or a half of the demand, often in spoilt or mixed grain or poor flour, while those who have no rusty wheat get it of their neighbors; instead of parting with a hundred quintals they part with fifty, while the quantity of grain in the Paris markets is not only insufficient, but the grain blackens or sprouts and the flour grows musty. In vain the government makes clerks and depositaries of butchers and grocers, allowing them five or ten per cent. profit on retail sales of the food it supplies them with at wholesale, and thus creates in Paris, at the expense of all France, an artificial decline. Naturally, the bread74 which, thanks to the State, costs three sous in Paris, is furtively carried out of Paris into the suburbs, where six sous are obtained for it; there is the same furtive leakage for other food furnished by the State on the same conditions to other dealers; the tax is a burden which forces them to go outside their shops; food finds its level like water, not alone outside of Paris, but in Paris itself. Naturally, “the grocers peddle their goods” secretly, “sugar, candles, soap, butter, dried vegetables, meat-pies, and the rest,” amongst private houses, in which these articles are bought at any price. Naturally, the butcher keeps his large pieces of beef and choice morsels for the large eating-houses, and for rich customers who pay him whatever profit he asks. Naturally, whoever is in authority, or has the power, uses it to supply himself first, largely, and in preference; we have seen the levies of the revolutionary committees, superintendents and agents; as soon as rations are allotted to all mouths, each potentate will have several rations delivered for his mouth alone; in the meantime75 the patriots who guard the barriers appropriate all provisions that arrive, and the next morning, should any scolding appear in the orders of the day, it is but slight.
Such are the two results of the system: not only is the food which is supplied to Paris scant and poor, but the regular consumers of it, those who take their turn to get it, obtain but a small portion, and that the worst.76 A certain inspector, on going to the corn-market for a sample of flour, writes “that it cannot be called flour;77 it is ground bran,” and not a nutritive substance; the bakers are forced to take it, the markets containing for the most part no other supply than this flour.” Again, three weeks later, “Food is still very scarce and poor in quality. The bread is disagreeable to the taste and produces maladies with which many citizens are suffering, like dysentery and other inflammatory ailments.” The same report, three months later in Nivose: “Complaints are constantly made of the poor quality of flour, which, it is said, makes a good many people ill; it causes severe pain in the intestines, accompanied with a slow fever.” In Ventose, “the scarcity of every article is extremely great,”78 especially of meat. Some women in the Place Maubert, pass six hours in a line waiting for it, and do not get the quarter of a pound; in many stalls there is none at all, not “an ounce” being obtainable to make broth for the sick. Workmen do not get it in their shops and do without their soup; they live on “bread and salted herrings.” A great many people groan over “not having eaten bread for a fortnight”; women say that “they have not had a dish of meat and vegetables (pot-au-feu) for a month.” Meanwhile “vegetables are astonishingly scarce and excessively dear … two sous for a miserable carrot, and as much for two small leeks”; out of two thousand women who wait at the central market for a distribution of beans, only six hundred receive any; potatoes increase in price in one week from two to three francs a bushel, and oatmeal and ground peas triple in price. “The grocers have no more brown sugar, even for the sick,” and sell candles and soap only by the half-pound. A fortnight later candles are wholly wanting in certain quarters, except in the section storehouse, which is almost empty, each person being allowed only one; a good many households go to rest at sundown for lack of lights and do not cook any dinner for lack of coal. Eggs, especially, are “honored as invisible divinities,” while the absent butter “is a god.”79 “If this lasts,” say the workmen, “we shall have to cut each other’s throats, since there is nothing left to live on.”80 “Sick women,81 children in their cradles, lie outstretched in the sun, in the very heart of Paris, in rue Vivienne, on the Pont-Royal, and remain there “late in the night, demanding alms of the passers-by.” “One is constantly stopped by beggars of both sexes, most of them healthy and strong,” begging, they say, for lack of work. Without counting the feeble and the infirm who are unable to stand in a line, whose sufferings are visible, who gradually waste away and die without a murmur at home, “one encounters in the streets and markets” only famished and eager visages, “an immense crowd of citizens running and dashing against each other,” crying out and weeping, “everywhere presenting an image of despair.”82
If this penury exists, say the Jacobins, it is owing to the decrees against monopoly, and sales above the maximum not being executed according to the letter of the law; the egoism of the cultivator and the cupidity of dealers are not restrained by fear; delinquents escape too frequently from the legal penalty. Let us enforce this penalty rigorously; let us augment the punishment against them and their instruments; let us screw up the machine and give them a new wrench. A new estimate and verification of the food-supply takes place, domiciliary perquisitions, seizures of special stores regarded as too ample,83 limited rations for each consumer, a common and obligatory mess-table for all prisoners, brown, égalité bread, mostly of bran, for every mouth that can chew, prohibition of the making of any other kind, confiscation of bolters and sieves,84 the “individual,” personal responsibility of every administrator who allows the people he rules to resist or escape furnishing the supplies demanded, the sequestration of his property, imprisonment, fines, the pillory, and the guillotine to hurry up requisitions, or stop free trading—every terrifying engine is driven to the utmost against the farmers and cultivators of the soil.
After April, 1794,85 crowds of this class are seen filling the prisons to overflowing; the Revolution has struck them also. They stroll about in the court-yard, and wander through the corridors with a sad, stupified expression, no longer comprehending the way things are going on in the world. In vain are efforts made to explain to them that “their crops are national property and that they are simply its depositaries”;86 never had this new principle entered into, nor will it enter, their rude brains; always, through habit and instinct, will they work against it. Let them be spared the temptation. Let us relieve them from, and, in fact, take their crops; let the State in France become the sole depositary and distributor of grain; let it solely buy and sell grain at a fixed rate. Consequently, at Paris,87 the Committee of Public Safety first puts “in requisition all the oats that can be found in the Republic; every holder of oats is required to deposit his stock on hand within eight days, in the storehouse indicated by the district administration” at the maximum price; otherwise he is “ ‘suspect’ and must be punished as such.” In the meantime, through still more comprehensive orders issued in the provinces, Paganel in the department of Tarn, and Dartigoyte in those of Gers and the Upper-Garonne,88 enjoin each commune to establish public granaries. “All citizens are ordered to bring in whatever produce they possess in grain, flour, wheat, maslin, rye, barley, oats, millet, buckwheat” at the maximum rate; nobody shall keep on hand more than one month’s supply, fifty pounds of flour or wheat for each person; in this way, the State, which holds in its hands the keys of the storehouses, may “carry out the salutary equalisation of subsistences” between department and department, district and district, commune and commune, individual and individual. A storekeeper will look after each of these well-filled granaries; the municipality will itself deliver rations and, moreover, “take suitable steps to see that beans and vegetables, as they mature, be economically distributed under its supervision,” at so much per head, and always at the rate of the maximum. Otherwise, dismissal, imprisonment and prosecution “in the extraordinary criminal tribunal.” This being accomplished, and the fruits of labor duly allotted, there remains only the allotment of labor itself. To effect this, Maignet,89 in Vaucluse, and in the Bouches-du-Rhone, prescribes for each municipality the immediate formation of two lists, one of day-laborers and the other of proprietors; “all proprietors in need of a cultivator by the day,” are to appear and ask for one at the municipality, which will assign the applicant as many as he wants, “in order on the list,” with a card for himself and numbers for the designated parties. The laborer who does not enter his name on the list, or who exacts more than the maximum wages, is to be sentenced to the pillory with two years in irons. The same sentence with the addition of a fine of three hundred livres, is for every proprietor who employs any laborer not on the list or who pays more than the maximum rate of wages. After this, nothing more is necessary, in practice, than to draw up and keep in sight the new registries of names and figures made by the members of thirty thousand municipal boards, who cannot keep accounts and who scarcely know how to read and write; build a vast public granary, or put in requisition three or four barns in each commune, in which half dried and mixed grain may rot; pay two hundred thousand incorruptible storekeepers and measurers who will not divert anything from the depots for their friends or themselves; add to the thirty-five thousand employees of the Committee on Subsistences,90 five hundred thousand municipal scribes disposed to quit their trades or ploughs for the purpose of making daily distributions gratuitously; but more precisely, to maintain four or five millions of perfect gendarmes, one in each family, living with it, to help along the purchases, sales, and transactions of each day and to verify at night the contents of the locker—in short, to set one-half of the French people as spies on the other half. These are the conditions which secure the production and distribution of food, and which suffice for the institution throughout France of a conscription of labor and the captivity of grain.
Unfortunately, the peasant does not understand this theory, but he understands business; he makes close calculations, and the positive, patent, vulgar facts on which he reasons lead to other conclusions.91 “In Messidor last they took all my last years’ oats, at fourteen francs in assignats, and, in Thermidor, they are going to take all this year’s oats, at eleven francs in assignats. At this rate I shall not sow at all. Besides, I do not need any for myself, as they have taken my horses for the army-wagons. To raise rye and wheat, as much of it as formerly, is also working at a loss; I will raise no more than the little I want for myself, and again, I suppose that this will be put in requisition, even my supplies for the year! I had rather let my fields lie fallow. Just see now, they are taking all the live three-months’ pigs! Luckily, I killed mine beforehand and it is now in the pork-barrel. But they are going to claim all salt provisions like the rest. The new grabbers are worse than the old ones. Six months more, and we shall all die of hunger. It is better to cross one’s arms at once and go to prison; there, at least, we shall be fed and not have to work.” In effect, they allow themselves to be imprisoned, the best of the small cultivators and proprietors by thousands, and Lindet,92 at the head of the Commission on Subsistences, speaks with dismay of the ground being no longer tilled, of cattle in France being no more abundant than the year before, and of nothing to be had to cut this year.
For a strange thing has happened, unheard of in Europe, almost incredible to any one familiar with the French peasant and his love of work. This field which he has ploughed, manured, harrowed, and reaped with his own hands, its precious crop, the crop that belongs to him and on which he has feasted his eyes for seven months, now that it is ripe, he will not take the trouble to gather it; it would be bothering himself for some one else; as the crop that he sees there is for the government, let the government defray the final cost of getting it in; let it do the harvesting, the reaping, the putting it in sheaves, the carting, and the thrashing in the barn. Thereupon, the representatives on mission exclaim, each shouting in a louder or lower key, according to his character. “Many of the cultivators,” writes Dartigoyte,93 “affect a supreme indifference for this splendid crop. One must have seen it, as I have, to believe how great the neglect of the wheat is in certain parts, how it is smothered by the grass. … Draft, if the case requires it, a certain number of inhabitants in this or that commune to work in another one. … Every man who refuses to work, except on the ‘decade’ day, must be punished as an ill-disposed citizen, as a royalist.” “Generous friends of nature,” writes Ferry,94 “introduce amongst you, perpetuate around you, the habit of working in common, and begin with the present crop. Do not spare either indolent women or indolent men, those social parasites, many of whom you doubtless have in your midst. What! allow lazy men and lazy women where we are! Where should we find a Republican police? … Immediately on the reception of this present order the municipal officers of each commune will convoke all citoyennes in the Temple of the Eternal and urge them, in the name of the law, to devote themselves to the labors of harvesting. Those women who fail in this patriotic duty, shall be excluded from the assemblies, from the national festivals, while all good citoyennes are requested to repel them from their homes. All good citizens are requested to give to this rural festivity that sentimental character which befits it.” And the programme is carried out, now in idyllic shape and now under compulsion. Around Avignon,95 the commanding officer, the battalions of volunteers, and patriotic ladies, “the wives and daughters of patriots,” inscribe themselves as harvesters. Around Arles, “the municipality drafts all the inhabitants; patrols are sent into the country to compel all who are engaged on other work to leave it and do the harvesting.” The Convention, on its side, orders96 the release, “provisionally, of all ploughmen, day-laborers, reapers, and professional artisans and brewers, in the country and in the market-towns and communes, the population of which is not over twelve hundred inhabitants, and who are confined as ‘suspects.’ ” In other terms, physical necessity has imposed silence on the inept theory; above all things, the crop must be harvested, and indispensable arms be restored to the field of labor. The governors of France are compelled to put on the brake, if only for an instant, at the last moment, at sight of the yawning abyss, of approaching and actual famine; France was then gliding into it, and, if not engulphed, it is simply a miracle.
Four fortunate circumstances, at the last hour, concur to keep her suspended on the hither brink of the precipice. The winter chances to be exceptionally mild.97 The vegetables which make up for the absence of bread and meat provide food for April and May, while the remarkably fine harvest, almost spontaneous, is three weeks in advance. Another, and the second piece of good fortune, consists in the great convoy from America, one hundred and sixteen vessels loaded with grain, which reached Brest on the 8th of June, 1794, in spite of English cruisers, thanks to the sacrifice of the fleet that protected it and which, eight days previously, had succumbed in its behalf. The third stroke of fortune is the entry of a victorious army into the enemies’ country and feeding itself through foreign requisitions, in Belgium, in the Palatinate and on the frontier provinces of Italy and Spain. Finally, most fortunate of all, Robespierre, Saint-Just, and Couthon, the Paris commune and the theorist Jacobins, are guillotined on the 23rd of July, and with them falls despotic socialism; henceforth, the Jacobin edifice crumbles, owing to great crevices in its walls. The maximum, in fact, is no longer maintained, while the Convention, at the end of December, 1794, legally abolishes it; the farmers now sell as they please and at two prices, according as they are paid in assignats or coin; their hope, confidence, and courage are restored; in October and November, 1794, they voluntarily do their own ploughing and planting, and still more gladly will they gather in their own crops in July, 1795. Nevertheless, we can judge by the discouragement into which they had been plunged by four months of the system, the utter prostration into which they would have fallen had the system lasted an indefinite time. It is very probable that cultivation at the end of one or two years would have proved unproductive or have ceased altogether. Already, subject to every sort of exhortation and threat, the peasant had remained inert, apparently deaf and insensible, like an overloaded beast of burden which, so often struck, grows obstinate or sinks down and refuses to move. It is evident that he would have never stirred again could Saint-Just, holding him by the throat, have bound him hand and foot, as he had done at Strasbourg, in the multiplied knots of his Spartan Utopia; we should have seen what labor and the stagnation it produces comes to, when managed through State manoeuvres by administrative mannikins and humanitarian automatons. This experiment had been tried in China, in the eleventh century, and according to principles, long and regularly, by a well-manipulated and omnipotent State, on the most industrious and soberest people in the world, and men died in myriads like flies. If the French, at the end of 1794 and during the following years did not die like flies, it was because the Jacobin system was relaxed too soon.
But, if the Jacobin system, in spite of its surviving founders, gradually relaxes after Thermidor; if the main ligature tied around the man’s neck, broke just as the man was strangling, the others that still bind him hold him tight, except as they are loosened in places; and, as it is, some of the straps, terribly stiffened, sink deeper and deeper into his flesh. In the first place, the requisitions continue: there is no other way of provisioning the armies and the cities; the gendarme is always on the road, compelling each village to contribute its portion of grain, and at the legal rate. The refractory are subject to keepers, confiscations, fines, and imprisonment; they are confined and kept in the district lock-ups “at their own expense,” men and women, twenty-two on Pluviose 17, year III., in the district of Bar-sur-Aube; forty-five, Germinal 7, in the district of Troyes; forty-five, the same day, in the district of Nogent-sur-Seine, and twenty others, eight days later, in the same district, in the commune of Traine alone.98 The condition of the cultivator is certainly not an easy one, while public authority, aided by the public force, extorts from him all it can at a rate of its own; moreover, it will soon exact from him one-half of his contributions in kind, and, it must be noted, that at this time, the direct contributions alone absorb twelve and thirteen sous on the franc of the revenue. Nevertheless, under this condition, which is that of laborers in a Mussulman country, the French peasant, like the Syrian or Tunisian peasant, can keep himself alive; for, through the abolition of the maximum, private transactions are now free, and, to indemnify himself on this side, he sells to private individuals and even to towns,99 by agreement, on understood terms, and as dear as he pleases; all the dearer because through the legal requisitions the towns are half empty, and there are fewer sacks of grain for a larger number of purchasers; hence his losses by the government are more than made up by his gains on private parties; he gains in the end, and that is why he persists in farming.
The weight, however, of which he relieves himself falls upon the overburdened buyer, and this weight, already excessive, goes on increasing, through another effect of the revolutionary institution, until it becomes ten-fold and even a hundred-fold. The only money, in fact, which private individuals possess melts away in their hands, and, so to say, destroys itself. When the guillotine stops working, the assignat, losing its official value, falls to its real value. In August, 1794, the loss on it is sixty-six per cent., in October, seventy-two per cent., in December, seventy-eight per cent., in January, 1795, eighty-one per cent., and after that date the constant issues of enormous amounts, five hundred millions, then a billion, a billion and a half, and, finally, two billions a month, hastens its depreciation.100 The greater the depreciation of the assignats the greater the amount the government is obliged to issue to provide for its expenses, and the more it issues the more it causes their depreciation, so that the decline which increases the issue increases the depreciation, until, finally, the assignat comes down to nothing. On March 11, 1795, the louis d’or brings two hundred and five francs in assignats, May 11, four hundred francs, June 12, one thousand francs, in the month of October, one thousand seven hundred francs, November 13, two thousand eight hundred and fifty francs, November 21, three thousand francs, and six months later, nineteen thousand francs. Accordingly, an assignat of one hundred francs is worth in June, 1795, four francs, in August three francs, in November fifteen sous, in December ten sous, and then five sous. Naturally, all provisions rise proportionately in price. A pound of bread in Paris, January 2, 1796, costs fifty francs, a pound of meat sixty francs, a pound of candles one hundred and eighty francs, a bushel of potatoes two hundred francs, a bottle of wine one hundred francs. The reader may imagine, if he can, the distress of people with small incomes, pensioners and employees, mechanics and artisans in the towns out of work,101 in brief, all who have nothing but a small package of assignats to live on, and who have nothing to do, whose indispensable wants are not directly supplied by the labor of their own hands in producing wine, candles, meat, potatoes, and bread.
Immediately after the abolition of the maximum,102 the cry of hunger increases. From month to month its accents become more painful and vehement in proportion to the increased dearness of provisions, especially in the summer of 1795, as the harvesting draws near, when the granaries, filled by the crop of 1794, are getting empty. And these hungering cries go up by millions: for a good many of the departments in France do not produce sufficient grain for home consumption, this being the case in fertile wheat departments, and likewise in certain districts; cries also go up from the large and small towns, while in each village numbers of peasants fast because they have no land to provide them with food, or because they lack strength, health, employment, and wages. “For a fortnight past,” writes a municipal body in Seine-et-Marne,103 “at least two hundred citizens in our commune are without bread, grain, and flour; they have had no other food than bran and vegetables. We see with sorrow children deprived of nourishment, their nurses without milk, unable to suckle them; old men falling down through inanition, and young men in the fields too weak to stand up to their work.” And other communes in the district “are about in the same condition.” The same spectacle is visible throughout the Ile-de-France, Normandy, and in Picardy. Around Dieppe, in the country,104 entire communes support themselves on herbs and bran. “Citizen representatives,” write the administrators, “we can no longer maintain ourselves. Our fellow-citizens reproach us with having despoiled them of their grain in favor of the large communes.” “All means of subsistence are exhausted,” writes the district of Louviers,105 “we are reduced here for a month past to eating bran bread and boiled herbs, and even this rude food is getting scarce. Bear in mind that we have seventy-one thousand people to govern, at this very time subject to all the horrors of famine, a large number of them having already perished, some with hunger and others with diseases engendered by the poor food they live on.” In the Caen district,106 “the unripe peas, horse-peas, beans, and green barley and rye are attacked”; mothers and children go after these in the fields in default of other food; “other vegetables in the gardens are already consumed; furniture, the comforts of the well-to-do class, have become the prey of the farming egoist; having nothing more to sell they consequently have nothing with which to obtain a morsel of bread.” “It is impossible,” writes the representative on mission, “to wait for the crop without further aid. As long as bran lasted the people ate that; none can now be found and despair is at its height. I have not seen the sun since I came. The harvest will be a month behind. What shall we do? What will become of us?” “In Picardy,” writes the Beauvais district, “the great majority of people in the rural communes overrun the woods” to find mushrooms, berries, and wild fruits.107 “They think themselves lucky,” says the Bapaume district, “if they can get a share of the food of animals.” “In many communes,” the district of Vervier reports, “the inhabitants are reduced to living on herbage.” “Many families, entire communes,” reports the Laon commissary, “have been without bread two or three months and live on bran or herbs. … Mothers of families, children, old men, pregnant women, come to the (members of the) Directory for bread and often faint in their arms.”
And yet, great as the famine is in the country it is worse in the towns; and the proof of it is that the starving people flock into the country to find whatever they can to live on, no matter how, and, generally speaking, in vain. “Three-quarters of our fellow-citizens,” writes the Rozoy municipality,108 “are forced to quit work and overrun the country here and there, among the farmers, to obtain bread for specie, and with more entreaty than the poorest wretches; for the most part, they return with tears in their eyes at not being able to find, not merely a bushel of wheat, but a pound of bread.” “Yesterday,” writes the Montreuil-sur-Mer municipality,109 “more than two hundred of our citizens set out to beg in the country,” and, when they get nothing, they steal. “Bands of brigands110 spread through the country and pillage all dwellings anywise remote. … Grain, flour, bread, cattle, poultry, stuffs, etc., all come in play; our terrified shepherds are no longer willing to sleep in their sheep-pens and are leaving us.” The most timid dig carrots at night or, during the day, gather dandelions; but their town stomachs cannot digest this aliment. “Lately,” writes the procureur-syndic of St. Germain,111 “the corpse of a father of a family, found in the fields with his mouth still filled with the grass he had striven to chew, exasperates and arouses the spirit of the poor creatures awaiting a similar fate.”
How, then, do people in the towns live? In small towns or scattered villages, each municipality, using what gendarmes it has, makes legal requisitions in its vicinity, and sometimes the commune obtains from the government a charitable gift of wheat, oats, rice, or assignats. But the quantity of grain it receives is so small, one asks how it is that, after two months, six months, or a year of such a system, one-half of its inhabitants are not in the grave-yard. I suppose that many of them live on what they raise in their gardens, or on their small farms; others are helped by their relations, neighbors, and companions; in any event, it is clear that the human machine is very resistant, and a few mouthfuls suffice to keep it going a long time. At Ervy,112 in Aube, “not a grain of wheat has been brought in the last two market-days.” “Tomorrow,113 Prairial 25, in Bapaume, the chief town of the district, there will be only two bushels of flour left (for food of any sort).” “At Boulogne-sur-Mer, for the past ten days, there has been distributed to each person only three pounds of bad barley, or maslin, without knowing whether we can again distribute this miserable ration next decade.” Out of sixteen hundred inhabitants in Brionne, “twelve hundred and sixty114 are reduced to the small portion of wheat they receive at the market, and which, unfortunately, for too long a time, has been reduced from eight to three ounces of wheat for each person, every eight days.” For three months past, in Seine-et-Marne,115 in “the commune of Meaux, that of Laferté, Lagny, Daumartin, and other principal towns of the canton, they have had only half-a-pound per head, for each day, of bad bread.” In Seine-et-Oise, “citizens of the neighborhood of Paris and even of Versailles116 state that they are reduced to four ounces of bread.” At St. Denis,117 with a population of six thousand, “a large part of the inhabitants, worn out with suffering, betake themselves to the charity depots. Workmen, especially, cannot do their work for lack of food. A good many women, mothers and nurses, have been found in their houses unconscious, without any sign of life in them, and many have died with their infants at their breasts.” Even in a larger and less forsaken town, St. Germain,118 the misery surpasses all that one can imagine. “Half-a-pound of flour for each inhabitant,” not daily, but at long intervals; “bread at fifteen and sixteen francs the pound and all other provisions at the same rate; a people which is sinking, losing hope and perishing. Yesterday, for the fête of the 9th of Thermidor, not a sign of rejoicing; on the contrary, symptoms of general and profound depression, tottering spectres in the streets, mournful shrieks of ravaging hunger or shouts of rage, almost every one, driven to the last extremity of misery, welcoming death as a boon.”
Such is the aspect of these huge artificial agglomerations, where the soil, made sterile by habitation, bears only stones, and where twenty, thirty, fifty, and a hundred thousand suffering stomachs have to obtain from ten, twenty, and thirty leagues off their first and last mouthful of food. Within these close pens long lines of human sheep huddle together every day bleating and trembling around almost empty troughs, and only through extraordinary efforts do the shepherds daily succeed in providing them with a little nourishment. The central government, strenuously appealed to, enlarges or defines the circle of their requisitions; it authorises them to borrow, to tax themselves; it lends or gives to them millions of assignats;119 frequently, in cases of extreme want, it allows them to take so much grain or rice from its storehouses, for a week’s supply. But, in truth, this sort of life is not living, it is only not dying. For one half, and more than one half of the inhabitants simply subsist on rations of bread obtained by long waiting for it at the end of a string of people and delivered at a reduced price. What rations and what bread! “It seems,” says the municipality of Troyes, “that120 the country has anathematised the towns. Formerly, the finest grain was brought to market; the farmer kept the inferior quality and consumed it at home. Now it is the reverse, and this is carried still further, for, not only do we receive no wheat whatever, but the farmers give us sprouted barley and rye, which they reserve for our commune; the farmer who has none arranges with those who have, so as to buy it and deliver it in town, and sell his good wheat elsewhere. Half a pound per day and per head, in Pluviose, to the thirteen thousand or fourteen thousand indigent in Troyes; then a quarter of a pound, and, finally, two ounces with a little rice and some dried vegetables, “which feeble resource is going to fail us.”121 Half a pound in Pluviose, to the twenty thousand needy in Amiens, which ration is only nominal, for “it often happens that each individual gets only four ounces, while the distribution has repeatedly failed three days in succession,” and this continues; six months later, Fructidor 7, Amiens has but sixty-nine quintals of flour in its market storehouse, “an insufficient quantity for distribution this very day; tomorrow, it will be impossible to make any distribution at all, and the day after tomorrow the needy population of this commune will be brought down to absolute famine.” “Complete desperation!” There are already “many suicides.”122 At other times, rage predominates and there are riots. At Evreux,123 Germinal 21, a riot breaks out, owing to the delivery of only two pounds of flour per head and per week, and because three days before, only a pound and a half was delivered. There is a riot at Deippe,124 Prairial 14 and 15, because “the people are reduced here to three or four ounces of bread.” There is another at Vervins, Prairial 9, because the municipality which obtains bread at a cost of seven and eight francs a pound, raises the price from twenty-five to fifty sous. At Lille, an insurrection breaks out Messidor 4, because the municipality, paying nine francs for bread, can give it to the poor only for about twenty and thirty sous. Lyons, in Nivose, remains without bread “for five full days.”125 At Chartres, Thermidor 15,126 the distribution of bread for a month is only eight ounces a day, and there is not enough to keep this up until the 20th of Thermidor. On the fifteenth of Fructidor, La Rochelle writes that “its public distributions, reduced to seven or eight ounces of bread, are on the point of failing entirely.” For four months, at Painboeuf, the ration is but the quarter of a pound of bread.127 And the same at Nantes, which has eighty-two thousand inhabitants and swarms with the wretched; “the distribution never exceeded four ounces a day,” and that only for the past year. The same at Rouen, which contains sixty thousand inhabitants; and, in addition, within the past fortnight the distribution has failed three times; in other reports, those who are well-off suffer more than the indigent because they take no part in the communal distribution, “all resources for obtaining food being, so to say, interdicted to them.” Five ounces of bread per diem for four months is the allowance to the forty thousand inhabitants of Caen and its district.128 A great many in the town, as well as in the country, live on bran and wild herbs.” At the end of Prairial, “there is not a bushel of grain in the town storehouses, while the requisitions, enforced in the most rigorous and imposing style, produce nothing or next to nothing.” Misery augments from week to week: “it is impossible to form any idea of it; the people of Caen live on brown bread and the blood of cattle. … Every countenance bears traces of the famine. … Faces are of livid hue. … It is impossible to await the new crop, until the end of Fructidor.” Such are the exclamations everywhere. The object now, indeed, is to cross the narrowest and most terrible defile; a fortnight more of absolute fasting and hundreds of thousands of lives would be sacrificed.129 At this moment the government half opens the doors of its storehouses; it lends a few sacks of flour on condition of repayment—for example, at Cherbourg a few hundreds of quintals of oats; by means of oat bread, the poor can subsist until the coming harvest. But above all, it doubles its guard and shows its bayonets. At Nancy, a traveller sees130 “more than three thousand persons soliciting in vain for a few pounds of flour.” They are dispersed with the butt-ends of muskets. Thus are the peasantry taught patriotism and the townspeople patience. Physical constraint exercised on all in the name of all; this is the only procedure which an arbitrary socialism can resort to for the distribution of food and to discipline starvation.
All that an absolute government can do for supplying the capital with food is undertaken and carried out by this one, for here is its seat, and one more degree of dearth in Paris would overthrow it. Each week, on reading the daily reports of its agents,131 it finds itself on the verge of explosion; twice, in Germinal and Prairial, a popular outbreak does overthrow it for a few hours, and, if it maintains itself, it is on the condition of either giving the needy a piece of bread or the hope of getting it. Consequently, military posts are established around Paris, eighteen leagues off, on all the highways—permanent patrols in correspondence with each other to urge on the wagoners and draft relays of horses on the spot; escorts despatched from Paris to meet convoys;132 requisitions of “all carts and all horses whatever to effect transportation in preference to any other work or service”; all communes traversed by a highway are ordered to put rubbish and litter on the bad spots and spread dirt the whole way, so that the horses may drag their loads in spite of the slippery road; the national agents are ordered to draft the necessary number of men to break the ice around the water-mills;133 a requisition is made for “all the barley throughout the length and breadth of the Republic”; this must be utilised by means of “the amalgam134 for making bread,” while the brewers are forbidden to use barley in the manufacture of beer; the starchmakers are forbidden to convert potatoes into starch, with penalty of death against all offenders “as destroyers of alimentary produce”; the breweries and starch-factories135 are to be closed until further notice. Paris must have grain, no matter of what kind, no matter how, and at any cost, not merely in the following week, but tomorrow, this very day, because hunger chews and swallows everything, and it will not wait. Once the grain is obtained, a price must be fixed which people can pay. Now, the difference between the selling and cost price is enormous; it keeps on increasing as the assignat declines and it is the government which pays this. “You furnish bread at three sous,” said Dubois-Crancé, Floréal 16,136 “and it costs you four francs. Paris consumes eight thousand quintals of meal daily, which expenditure alone amounts to one billion two hundred millions per annum.” Seven months later, when a bag of flour brings thirteen thousand francs, the same expenditure reaches five hundred and forty-six millions per month. Under the ancient régime, Paris, although overgrown, continued to be an useful organism; if it absorbed much, it elaborated more; its productiveness compensated for what it consumed, and, every year, instead of exhausting the public treasury it poured seventy-seven millions into it. The new régime has converted it into a monstrous canker in the very heart of France, a devouring parasite which, through its six hundred thousand leeches, drains its surroundings for a distance of forty leagues, consumes one-half the annual revenue of the State, and yet still remains emaciated in spite of the sacrifices made by the treasury it depletes and the exhaustion of the provinces which supply it with food.
Always the same alimentary system, the same long lines of people waiting at, and before, dawn in every quarter of Paris, in the dark, for a long time, and often to no purpose, subject to the brutalities of the strong and the outrages of the licentious! On the 9th of Thermidor, the daily trot of the multitude in quest of food has lasted uninterruptedly for seventeen months, accompanied with outrages of the worst kind because there is less terror and less submissiveness, with more obstinacy because provisions at free sale are dearer, with greater privation because the ration distributed is smaller, and with more sombre despair because each household, having consumed its stores, has nothing of its own to make up for the insufficiencies of public charity. To cap the climax, the winter of 1794–1795 is so cold137 that the Seine freezes and people cross the Loire on foot; rafts no longer arrive and, to obtain fire-wood, it is necessary “to cut down trees at Boulogne, Vincennes, Verrières, St. Cloud, Meudon and two other forests in the vicinity.” Fuel costs “four hundred francs per cord of wood, forty sous for a bushel of charcoal, twenty sous for a small basket. The necessitous are seen in the streets sawing the wood of their bedsteads to cook with and to keep from freezing.” On the resumption of transportation by water amongst the cakes of ice “rafts are sold as fast as the raftsmen can haul the wood out of the water, the people being obliged to pass three nights at the landing to get it, each in turn according to his number.” There are “two thousand persons at least, Pluviose 3, at the Louviers landing,” each with his card allowing him four sticks at fifteen sous each. Naturally, there is pulling, hauling, tumult, and a rush; “the dealers take to flight for fear, and the inspectors come near being murdered”; they get away along with the police commissioner and “the public helps itself.” Likewise, the following day, there is “an abominable pillage;” the gendarmes and soldiers placed there to maintain order, “make a rush for the wood and carry it away the same as the crowd.” Bear in mind that on this day the thermometer is sixteen degrees below zero, that one hundred, two hundred other lines of people likewise stand waiting at the doors of bakers and butchers, enduring the same cold, and that they have already endured it and will yet endure it a month and more. Words are wanting to describe the sufferings of these long lines of motionless beings, during the night, at daybreak, standing there five or six hours, with the blast driving through their rags and their feet freezing. Ventose is beginning, and the ration of bread is reduced to a pound and a half;138 Ventose ends, and the ration of bread, kept at a pound and a half for the three hundred and twenty-four laborers, falls to one pound; in fact, a great many get none at all, many only a half and a quarter of a pound. Germinal follows and the Committee of Public Safety, finding that its magazines are giving out, limits all rations to a quarter of a pound. Thereupon, on the 12th of Germinal, an insurrection of workmen and women breaks out; the Convention is invaded and liberated by military force, Paris is declared in a state of siege and the government, again in the saddle, tightens the reins. Thenceforth, the ration of meat served out every four or five days, is a quarter of a pound; bread averages every day, sometimes five, sometimes six, and sometimes seven ounces, at long intervals eight ounces, often three, two, and one ounce and a half, or even none at all; while this bread, black and “making mischief,” becomes more and more worthless and detestable.139 People who are well-off live on potatoes, but only for them, for, in the middle of Germinal, these cost fifteen francs the bushel and, towards the end, twenty francs; towards the end of Messidor, forty-five francs; in the first month of the Directory, one hundred and eighty francs, and then two hundred and eighty-four francs, whilst other produce goes up at the same rates. After the abolition of the maximum the evil springs not from a lack of provisions, but from their dearness. The shops are well-supplied. Whoever comes with a full purse gets what he wants.140 Those who were once wealthy, all proprietors and large fundholders, may have a meal on handing over their bundles of assignats, on withdrawing their last louis from its hiding-place, on selling their jewelry, clocks, furniture, and clothes; but every tradesman and broker, the lucky, all experienced robbers who spend four hundred, one thousand, three thousand, then five thousand francs for their dinner, revel in the great eating establishments on fine wines and exquisite cheer; the burden of the scarcity is transferred to other shoulders. At present, the class which suffers, and which suffers beyond all bounds of patience, is that of employees and people with small incomes,141 the crowd of workmen, the city plebeians, the low Parisian populace which lives from day to day, which is Jacobin at heart, which made the Revolution in order to better itself, which finds itself worse off, which gets up one insurrection more on the 1st of Prairial, which forcibly enters the Tuileries yelling “Bread and the Constitution of ’93,” which installs itself as sovereign in the Convention, which murders the Representative Féraud, which decrees a return to Terror, but which, put down by the National Guard, disarmed, and forced back into lasting obedience, has only to submit to the consequences of its outrages, the socialism it has instituted and the economical system it has organised.
Owing to the workmen of Paris having been usurpers and tyrants they are now beggars. Owing to the ruin brought on proprietors and capitalists by them, individuals can no longer employ them. Owing to the ruin they have brought on the Treasury, the State can provide them with only the semblance of charity, and hence, while all are compelled to go hungry, a great many die, and many commit suicide. Germinal 6, “Section of the Observatory,”142 at the distribution, “forty-one persons had been without bread; several pregnant women desired immediate confinement so as to destroy their infants; others asked for knives to stab themselves.” Germinal 8, “a large number of persons who had passed the night at the doors of the bakeries were obliged to leave without getting any bread.” Germinal 24, “the police commissioner of the Arsenal section states that many become ill for lack of food, and that he buries quite a number. … The same day, he has heard of five or six citizens, who, finding themselves without bread, and unable to get other food, throw themselves into the Seine.” Germinal 27, “the women say that they feel so furious and are in such despair on account of hunger and want that they must inevitably commit some act of violence. … In the section of ‘Les Amis de la Patrie,’ one-half have no bread. … Three persons tumbled down through weakness on the Boulevard du Temple.” Floréal 2, “most of the workmen in the ‘République’ section are leaving Paris on account of the scarcity of bread.” Floréal 5, “eighteen out of twenty-four inspectors state that patience is exhausted and that things are coming to an end.” Floréal 14, “the distribution is always unsatisfactory on account of the four-ounce ration; two thirds of the citizens do without it. One woman, on seeing the excitement of her husband and her four children who had been without bread for two days, trailed through the gutter tearing her hair and striking her head; she then got up in a state of fury and attempted to drown herself.” Floréal 20, “all exclaim that they cannot live on three ounces of bread, and, again, of such bad quality. Mothers and pregnant women fall down with weakness.” Floréal 21, “the inspectors state that they encounter many persons in the streets who have fallen through feebleness and inanition.” Floréal 23, “a citoyenne who had no bread for her child tied it to her side and jumped into the river. Yesterday, an individual named Mottez, in despair through want, cut his throat.” Floréal 25, “several persons, deprived of any means of existence, gave up in complete discouragement, and fell down with weakness and exhaustion. … In the ‘Gravilliers’ section, two men were found dead with inanition. … The peace officers report the decease of several citizens; one cut his throat, while another was found dead in his bed.” Floréal 28, “numbers of people sink down for lack of something to eat; yesterday, a man was found dead and others exhausted through want.” Prairial 24, “Inspector Laignier states that the indigent are compelled to seek nourishment in the piles of garbage on the corners.” Messidor I,143 “the said Picard fell through weakness at ten o’clock in the morning in the rue de la Loi, and was only brought to at seven o’clock in the evening; he was carried to the hospital on a hand-barrow.” Messidor 11, “There is a report that the number of people trying to drown themselves is so great that the nets at St. Cloud scarcely suffice to drag them out of the water.” Messidor 19, “A man was found on the corner of a street just dead with hunger.” Messidor 27, “At four o’clock in the afternoon, Place Maubert, a man named Marcelin, employed in the Jardin des Plantes, fell down through starvation and died while assistance was being given to him.” On the previous evening, the anniversary of the taking of the Bastille, a laborer on the Pont-au-Change, says: “I have eaten nothing all day”; another replies: “I have not been home because I have nothing to give to my wife and children, dying with hunger.” About the same date, a friend of Mallet-Dupan writes to him “that he is daily witness to people amongst the lower classes dying of inanition in the streets; others, and principally women, have nothing but garbage to live on, scraps of refuse vegetables and the blood running out of the slaughter houses. Laborers, generally, work on short time on account of their lack of strength and of their exhaustion for want of food.”144 Thus ends the rule of the Convention. Well has it looked out for the interests of the poor! According to the reports of its own inspectors, “famished stomachs on all sides cry vengeance, beat to arms and sound the tocsin of alarm.145 … Those who have to dwell daily on the sacrifices they make to keep themselves alive declare that there is no hope except in death.”
Are they going to be relieved by the new government which the Convention imposes on them with thunders of artillery and in which it perpetuates itself?146 Brumaire 28, “Most of the workmen in the ‘Temple’ and ‘Gravilliers’ sections have done no work for want of bread.” Brumaire 24, “Citizens of all classes refuse to mount guard because they have nothing to eat.” Brumaire 25, “In the ‘Gravilliers’ section the women say that they have sold all that they possessed, while others, in the ‘Faubourg-Antoine’ section, declare that it would be better to be shot down.” Brumaire 30, “A woman beside herself came and asked a baker to kill her children as she had nothing to give them to eat.” Frimaire 1, 2, 3, and 4, “In many of the sections bread is given out only in the evening, in others at one o’clock in the morning, and of very poor quality. … Several sections yesterday had no bread.” Frimaire 7, the inspectors declare that “the hospitals soon will not be vast enough to hold the sick and the wretched.” Frimaire 14, “At the central market a woman nursing her child sunk down with inanition.” A few days before this, “a man fell down from weakness, on his way to Bourg l’Abbé.” “All our reports,” say the district administrators, “resound with shrieks of despair.” People are infatuated; “it seems to us that a crazy spirit prevails universally—we often encounter people in the street who, although alone, gesticulate and talk to themselves aloud.” “How many times,” writes a Swiss traveller,147 who lived in Paris during the latter half of 1795, “how often have I chanced to encounter men sinking through starvation, scarcely able to stand up against a post, or else down on the ground and unable to get up for want of strength!” A journalist states that he saw “within ten minutes, along the street, seven poor creatures fall on account of hunger, a child die on its mother’s breast which was dry of milk, and a woman struggling with a dog near a sewer to get a bone away from him.”148 Meissner never leaves his hotel without filling his pockets with pieces of the national bread. “This bread,” he says, “which the poor would formerly have despised, I found accepted with the liveliest gratitude, and by well-educated persons”; the lady who contended with the dog for the bone was “a former nun, without either parents or friends and everywhere repulsed.” “I still hear with a shudder,” says Meissner, “the weak, melancholy voice of a well-dressed woman who stopped me in the rue du Bac, to tell me in accents indicative both of shame and despair: ‘Ah, Sir, do help me! I am not an outcast. I have some talent—you may have seen some of my works in the salon. I have had nothing to eat for two days and I am crazy for want of food.’ ” Again, in June, 1796, the inspectors state that despair and despondency have reached the highest point, only one cry being heard—misery! … Our reports all teem with groans and complaints. … Pallor and suffering are stamped on all faces. … Each day presents a sadder and more melancholy aspect.” And repeatedly,149 they sum up their scattered observations in a general statement: “A mournful silence, the deepest distress on every countenance; the most intense hatred of the government in general developed in all conversations; contempt for all existing authority; an insolent luxuriousness, insulting to the wretchedness of the poor rentiers who expire with hunger in their garrets, no longer possessing the courage to crawl to the Treasury and get the wherewithal to prolong their misery for a few days; the worthy father of a family daily deciding what article of furniture he will sell to make up for what is lacking in his wages that he may buy a half-pound of bread; every sort of provision increasing in price sixty times an hour; the smallest business dependent on the fall of assignats; intriguers of all parties overthrowing each other only to get offices; the intoxicated soldier boasting of the services he has rendered and is to render, and abandoning himself shamelessly to every sort of debauchery; commercial houses transformed into dens of thieves; rascals become traders and traders become rascals; the most sordid cupidity and a mortal egoism—such is the picture presented by Paris.”150
One group is wanting in this picture, that of the governors who preside over this wretchedness, which group remains in the background; one might say that it was so designed and composed by some great artist, a lover of contrasts, an inexorable logician, whose invisible hand traces human character unvaryingly, and whose mournful irony unfailingly depicts side by side, in strong relief, the grotesqueness of folly and the seriousness of death. How many perished on account of this misery? Probably more than a million persons.151 Try to take in at a glance the extraordinary spectacle presented on twenty-six thousand square leagues of territory, the immense multitude of the starving in town and country, the long lines of women for three years waiting for bread in all the cities, this or that town of twenty-three thousand souls in which one-third of the population dies in the hospitals in three months, the crowds of paupers at the poor-houses, the file of poor wretches entering and the file of coffins going out, the asylums deprived of their property, overcrowded with the sick, unable to feed the multitude of foundlings pining away in their cradles the very first week, their little faces in wrinkles like those of old men, the malady of want aggravating all other maladies, the long suffering of a persistent vitality amidst pain and which refuses to succumb, the final death-rattle in a garret or in a ditch—and contrast with this the small, powerful, triumphant group of Jacobins which, knowing where to make a good stand, is determined to stay there at any cost. About ten o’clock in the morning,152 Cambacérès, president of the Committee of Public Safety, is seen entering its hall in the Pavillon de l’Egalité. That large, cautious and shrewd personage who, later on, is to become archchancellor of the Empire and famous for his epicurean inventions and other peculiar tastes revived from antiquity, is the man. Scarcely seated, he orders an ample pot-au-feu to be placed on the chimney hearth and, on the table, “fine wine and fine white bread; three articles,” says a guest, “not to be found elsewhere in all Paris.” Between twelve and two o’clock, his colleagues enter the room in turn, take a plate of soup and a slice of meat, swallow some wine, and then proceed, each to his bureau, to receive his coterie, giving this one an office and compelling another to pay up, looking all the time after his own special interests; at this moment, especially, towards the close of the Convention, there are no public interests, all interests being private and personal. In the mean time, the deputy in charge of subsistences, Roux de la Haute Marne, an unfrocked Benedictine, formerly a terrorist in the provinces, subsequently the protégé and employee of Fouché, with whom he is to be associated in the police department, keeps the throng of women in check which daily resorts to the Tuileries to beg for bread. He is well adapted for this duty, being tall, chubby, ornamental, and with vigorous lungs. He has taken his office in the right place, in the attic of the palace, at the top of long, narrow and steep stairs, so that the line of women stretching up between the two walls, piled one above the other, necessarily becomes immovable. With the exception of the two or three at the front, no one has her hands free to grab the haranguer by the throat and close the oratorical stop-cock. He can spout his tirades accordingly with impunity, and for an indefinite time. On one occasion, his sonorous jabber rattles away uninterruptedly from the top to the bottom of the staircase, from nine o’clock in the morning to five o’clock in the afternoon. Under such a voluble shower, his hearers become weary and end by going home. About nine or ten o’clock in the evening, the Committee of Public Safety reassembles, but not to discuss business. Danton and Larevellière preach in vain; each is too egoistic and too worn-out; they let the rein slacken on Cambacérès. As to him, he would rather keep quiet and drag the cart no longer; but there are two things necessary which he must provide for on pain of death. “It will not do,” says he in plaintive tones, “to keep on printing the assignats at night which we want for the next day. If that lasts, ma foi, we run the risk of being strung up at a lantern. … Go and find Hourier-Eloi, as he has charge of the finances, and tell him that we entreat him to keep us a-going for a fortnight or eighteen days longer, when the executive Directory will come in and do what it pleases.” “But food—shall we have enough for tomorrow?” “Aha, I don’t know—I’ll send for our colleague Roux, who will post us on that point.” Roux enters, the official spokesman, the fat, jovial tamer of the popular dog. “Well, Roux, how do we stand about supplying Paris with food?” “The supply, citizen President, is just as abundant as ever, two ounces per head—at least for most of the sections.” “Go to the devil with your abundant supply! You’ll have our heads off!” All remain silent, for this possible dénouement sets them to thinking. Then, one of them exclaims: “President, are there any refreshments provided for us? After working so hard for so many days we need something to strengthen us!” “Why, yes; there is a good calf’s-tongue, a large turbot, a large piece of pie and some other things.” They cheer up, begin to eat and drink champagne, and indulge in drolleries. About eleven or twelve o’clock the members of other Committees come in; signatures are affixed to their various decrees, on trust, without reading them over. They, in their turn, sit down at the table and the conclave of sovereign bellies digests without giving itself further trouble about the millions of stomachs that are empty.
[1. ]Cf. “The Revolution,” book i., ch. 3, and book iii., chs. 9 and 10.
[2. ]Grégoire, “Mémoires,” ii., 172. “About eighteen thousand ecclesiastics are enumerated among the emigrés of the first epoch. About eighteen thousand more took themselves off, or were sent off, after the 2d of September.”
[3. ]Ibid., 26. “The chief of the emigré bureau in the police department (May 9, 1805) enumerates about two hundred thousand persons reached, or affected, by the laws concerning emigration.”—Lally-Tolendal, “Défense des Emigrés,” (2d part, p. 62 and passim). Several thousand persons inscribed as emigrés did not leave France. The local administration recorded them on its lists either because they lived in another department, and could not obtain the numerous certificates exacted by the law in proof of residence, or because those who made up the lists treated these certificates with contempt. It was found convenient to manufacture an emigré in order to confiscate his possessions legally, and even to guillotine him, not less legally, as a returned emigré.—Message of the Directory to the “Five Hundred,” Ventose 3, year V.: “According to a rough estimate, obtained at the Ministry of Finances, the number enrolled on the general list of emigrés amounts to over one hundred and twenty thousand; and, again, the lists from some of the departments have not come in.”—Lafayette, “Mémoires,” vol. ii., 181. (Letters to M. de Maubourg, Oct. 17, 1799 (noté) Oct. 19, 1800.) According to the report of the Minister of Police, the list of emigrés, in nine vols., still embraced one hundred and forty-five thousand persons, notwithstanding that thirteen thousand were struck off by the Directory, and twelve hundred by the consular government.
[4. ]Cf. Mémoires of Louvet, Dulaure, and Vaublanc.—Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” ii., 7. “Several, to whom I have spoken, literally made the tour of France in various disguises, without having been able to find an outlet; it was only after a series of romantic adventures that they finally succeeded in gaining the Swiss frontier, the only one at all accessible.”—Sauzay, v., 210, 220, 226, 276. (Emigration of fifty-four inhabitants of Charquemont, setting out for Hungary.)
[5. ]Ibid., vols. iv., v., vi., vii. (On the banished priests remaining and still continuing their ministrations, and on those who returned to resume them.)—To obtain an idea of the situation of the emigrés and their relations and friends, it is necessary to read the law of Sep. 15, 1794 (Brumaire 25, year III.), which renews and generalises previous laws; children of fourteen years and ten years are affected by it. It was with the greatest difficulty, even if one did not leave France, that a person could prove that he had not emigrated.
[6. ]Moniteur, xviii., 215. (Letter of Brigadier-general Vandamme to the Convention, Ferney, Brumaire 1, year II.) The reading of this letter calls forth “reiterated applause.”
[7. ]Sauzay, v., 196. (The total is five thousand two hundred. Some hundreds of names might be added, inasmuch as many of the village lists are wanting.)
[8. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiv., 434. (Trial of Fouquier-Tinville, deposition of Therriet-Grandpré, one of the heads of the Commission on Civil Police and Judicial Administration, 51st witness.)
[9. ]Report by Saladin, March 4, 1795.
[10. ]Wallon, “La Terreur,” ii., 202.
[11. ]Duchatelier, “Brest Pendant la Terreur,” p. 105.—Paris, “Histoire de Joseph Lebon,” ii., 370.—“Tableau des Prisons de Toulouse,” by Pescayre, p. 409.—“Recueil de Pièces Authentiques sur la Révolution à Strasbourg,” i., 65. (List of arrests after Prairial 7, year II.) “When the following arrests were made there were already over three thousand persons confined in Strasbourg.”—Alfred Lallier, “Les Noyades de Nantes,” p. 90.—Berryat Saint-Prix, p. 436. (Letter of Maignet to Couthon, Avignon, Floréal 4, year II.)
[12. ]Beaulieu, “Essais,” v., 283. At the end of December, 1793, Camille Desmoulins wrote: “Open the prison doors to those two hundred thousand citizens whom you call ‘suspects’!”—The number of prisoners largely increased during the seven following months. (“Le Vieux Cordelier,” No. iv., Frimaire 30, year II.)—Beaulieu does not state precisely what the Committee of General Security meant by the word déténu. Does it merely relate to those incarcerated? Or must all who were confined at their own houses be included?—We are able to verify his statement and determine the number, at least approximatively, by taking one department in which the rigor of the revolutionary system was average and where the lists handed in were complete. According to the census of 1791, Doubs contained two hundred and twenty-one thousand inhabitants; France had a population of twenty-six millions; and we have just seen the number of each category that were under confinement; the proportion for France gives two hundred and fifty-eight thousand persons incarcerated, and one hundred and seventy-five thousand confined to their houses, and one hundred and seventy-five thousand persons besides these on the limits in their communes, or ajournées, that is to say, six hundred and eight thousand persons deprived of their liberty. The first two categories from a total of four hundred and thirty-three thousand persons, sufficiently near Beaulieu’s figures.
[13. ]Paris, “Histoire de Joseph Lebon, ii., 371, 372, 375, 377, 379, 380.—“Les Angoisses de la Mort,” by Poirier and Monjay of Dunkirk (second edition, year III.). “Their children and trusty agents still remained in prison; they were treated no better than ourselves. … We saw children coming in from all quarters, infants of five years, and, to withdraw them from paternal authority, they had sent to them from time to time, commissioners who used immoral language with them.”
[14. ]“Mémoires sur les Prisons,” (Barrière et Berville collection), ii., 354, and appendix F. Ibid., ii., 2,262. “The women were the first to pass under rapiotage.” (Prisons of Arras and that of Plessis, at Paris.)
[15. ]“Documents on Daunou,” by Taillandier. (Narrative by Daunou, who was imprisoned in turn in La Force, in the Madelonettes, in the English Benedictine establishment, in the Hotel des Fermes, and in Port-Libre.)—On prison management cf., for the provinces, “Tableaux des Prisons de Toulouse,” by Pescayré; “Un Séjour en France,” and “Les Horreurs des Prisons d’ Arras,” for Arras and Amiens; Alexandrines des Echerolles, “Une Famille noble sous la Terreur,” for Lyons; the trial of Carrier for Nantes; for Paris, “Histoire des Prisons” by Nougaret, 4 vols., and the “Mémoires sur les Prisons,” 2 vols.
[16. ]Testimony of Representative Blanqui, imprisoned at La Force, and of Representative Beaulieu, imprisoned in the Luxembourg and at the Madelonettes.—Beaulieu, “Essais,” v., 290: “The Conciergerie was still full of wretches held for robbery and assassination, poverty-stricken and repulsive.—It was with these that counts, marquises, voluptuous financiers, elegant dandies, and more than one wretched philosopher, were shut up, pell-mell, in the foulest cells, waiting until the guillotine could make room in the chambers filled with camp-bedsteads. They were generally put with those on the straw, on entering, where they sometimes remained a fortnight. … It was necessary to drink brandy with these persons; in the evening, after having dropped their excrement near their straw, they went to sleep in their filth. … I passed those three nights half-sitting, half-stretched out on a bench, one leg on the ground and leaning against the wall.”—Wallon, “La Terreur,” ii., 87. (Report of Grandpré on the Conciergerie, March 17, 1793. “Twenty-six men collected into one room, sleeping on twenty-one mattresses, breathing the foulest air and covered with half-rotten rags.” In another room forty-five men and ten straw-beds; in a third, thirty-nine poor creatures dying in nine bunks; in three other rooms, eighty miserable creatures on sixteen mattresses filled with vermin, and, as to the women, fifty-four having nine mattresses and standing up alternately.—The worst prisons in Paris were the Conciergerie, La Force, Le Plessis, and Bicêtre.—“Tableau des Prisons de Toulouse,” p. 316. “Dying with hunger, we contended with the dogs for the bones intended for them, and we pounded them up to make soup with.”
[17. ]“Recueil de Pièces, etc.,” i., p. 3. (Letter of Frederic Burger, Prairial 2, year II.)
[18. ]Alfred Lallier, “Les Noyades de Nantes,” p. 90.—Campardon, “Histoire de Tribunal Révolutionnaire de Paris” (trial of Carrier), ii., 55. (Deposition of the health-officer, Thomas.) “I saw perish in the revolutionary hospital (at Nantes) seventy-five prisoners in two days. None but rotten mattresses were found there, on each of which the epidemic had consumed more than fifty persons. At the Entrepot, I found a number of corpses scattered about here and there. I saw children, still breathing, drowned in tubs full of human excrement.”
[19. ]Narrative of the sufferings of unsworn priests, transported in 1794, in the roadstead of Aix, passim.
[20. ]“Histoire des Prisons,” i., 10. “Go and visit,” says a contemporary (at the Conciergerie), the dungeons called ‘the great Caesar,’ ‘Bombié,’ ‘St. Vincent,’ ‘Bel Air,’ etc., and say whether death is not preferable to such an abode.” Some persons, indeed, the sooner to end the matter, wrote to the public prosecutor, accusing themselves, demanding a king and priests, and are at once guillotined, as they hoped to be.—Cf. the narrative of “La Translation des 132 à Nantois Paris,” and Riouffe, “Mémoires,” on the sufferings of prisoners on their way to their last prison.
[21. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, p. ix., passim.
[22. ]Campardon, ii., 224.
[23. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, 445.—Paris, “Histoire de Joseph Lebon,” ii., 352.—Alfred Lallier, p. 90.—Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 394.
[24. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, pp. 23, 24.
[25. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, p. 458. “At Orange, Madame de Latour-Vidan, aged eighty and idiotic for many years, was executed with her son. It is stated that, on being led to the scaffold, she thought she was entering a carriage to pay visits and so told her son.”—Ibid., 471. After Thermidor, the judges of the Orange commission having been put on trial, the jury declared that “they refused to hear testimony for the defence and to allow the accused lawyers to defend them.”
[26. ]Camille Boursier, “La Terreur en Anjou,” p. 228. (Deposition of Widow Edin.) “La Persac, a nun ill and infirm, was ready to take the oath. Nicolas, Vacheron’s agent, assisted by several other persons, dragged her out of bed and put her on a cart; from ninety to ninety-four others were shot along with her.”
[27. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, p. 161. The following are samples of these warrants: “S. (shot), Germinal 13, Widow Menard, seventy-two years old, an old aristocrat, liking nobody, habitually living by herself.”—Warrant of the Marseilles committee, Germinal 28, year II., condemning one Cousinéri “for having continually strayed off as if to escape popular vengeance, to which he was liable on account of his conduct and for having detested the Revolution.”—Camille Boursier, p. 72, Floréal 15, year II., execution of “Gérard, guilty of having scorned to assist at the planting of a Liberty-pole, in the commune of Vouille, Sep., 1792, and inducing several municipal officers to join him in his insolent and liberticide contempt.”
[28. ]Wallon, “Histoire du Tribunal Révolutionnaire de Paris,” v., 145.
[29. ]Ibid., v., 109. (Deposition of Madame de Maillé.)—V., 189. (Deposition of Lhullier.)—Cf. Campardon, in the same affairs.
[30. ]Campardon, ii., 189, 189, 193, 197. (Depositions of Beaulieu, Duclos, Tirard, Ducray, etc.)
[31. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, 395. (Letter of Representative Moyse Bayle.)—Ibid., 216. (Words of Representative Lecarpentier at Saint-Malo.) “Why such delays? Of what use are these eternal examinations? What need is there of going so deep into this matter? The name, profession, and the upshot, and the trial is over.”—He publicly stated to the informers: “You don’t know what facts you require to denounce the Moderates? Well, a gesture, one single gesture, suffices.”
[32. ]Letter of Payan to Roman Formosa, judge at Orange: “In the commissions charged with punishing the conspirators, no formalities should exist; the conscience of the judge is there as a substitute for these. … The commissions must serve as political courts; they must remember that all the men who have not been on the side of the Revolution are against it, since they have done nothing for the country. … I say to all judges, in the name of the country, do not risk saving a guilty man.”—Robespierre made the same declaration in the Jacobin Club. Frimaire 19, year II.: “We judge, in politics, with the suspicions of an enlightened patriotism.”
[33. ]“Mémoires de Fréron” and on Fréron (collection Barrière et Berville), p. 364. Letter of Fréron, Toulon, Nivose 16. “More than eight hundred Toulonese have already been shot.”
[34. ]Lallier, p. 90. (The eleven distinct drownings ascertained by M. Lallier extend up to Pluviose 12, year II.)
[35. ]Monitenur, xxii., 227. (Official documents read in the Convention, Ventose 21, year III.) These documents authenticate an ulterior drowning. Ventose 9, year II., by order of Lefévre, adjutant general, forty-one persons were drowned, among whom were two men seventy-eight years of age and blind, twelve women, twelve young girls, fifteen children, of which ten were between six and ten years old, and five at the breast. The drowning took place in the Bourgneuf bay.—Carrier says in the Convention (Moniteur, xxii., p. 578), in relation to the drowning of pregnant women: “At Laval, Angers, Saumur, Chaban-Gontier, everywhere the same things took place as at Nantes.”
[36. ]Camille Boursier, p. 159.
[37. ]Ibid., 203. Representative Francastel announces “the firm determination to purge, to bleed freely this Vendean question.” This same Francastel wrote to General Grignon: “Make those brigands tremble! Give them no quarter! The prisons in Vendée are overflowing with prisoners! … The conversion of this country into a desert must be completed. Show no weakness and no mercy. … These are the views of the Convention. … I swear that Vendée shall be depopulated.”
[38. ]Granier de Cassagnac, “His. du Directoire,” ii., 241.—(Letter of General Hoche to the Minister of the Interior, Feb. 2, 1796.) “Only one out of five remains of the population of one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.”
[39. ]Campardon ii., 247, 249, 251, 261, 321. (Examination of Fouquier-Tinville, Cambon’s words.)
[40. ]Article by Guffroy, in his journal Le Rougiff: “Down with the nobles, and so much the worse for the good ones, if there are any! Let the guillotine stand permanently throughout the Republic. Five millions of inhabitants are enough for France!”—Berryat Saint-Prix, 445. (Letter of Fauvety, Orange, Prairial 14, year II.) “We have but two confined in our arrondissement. What a trifle!”—Ibid., 447. (Letter of the Orange Committee to the Committee of Public Safety, Messidor 3.) As soon as the Committee gets fully agoing it is to try all the priests, rich merchants, and ex-nobles.”—(Letter of Juge, Messidor 2.) “Judging by appearances more than three thousand heads will fall in the department.”—Ibid., 311. At Bordeaux, a huge scaffold is put up, authorised by the Military Committee, with seven doors, two of which are large and like barn-doors, called a four-bladed guillotine, so as to work faster and do more. The warrant and orders for its construction bear date Thermidor 3 and 8, year II.—Berryat Saint-Prix, 285. Letter of Representative Blutel, on mission at Rochefort, after Thermidor: “A few men, sunk in debauchery and crime, dared proscribe (here) virtues, patriotism, because it was not associated with their sanguinary excitement; the tree of Liberty, they said, required for its roots ten feet of human gore.”
[41. ]“Recueil de Pièces Authentiques, Concernant le Revolution à Strasbourg,” i., 174, 178. Examples of revolutionary taxes.—Orders of Representatives Milhaud, Ruamps, Guyadin, approving of the following contributions, Brumaire 20, year II.
Another order by Daum and Tisseraud, members of the Committee who temporarily replace the district administrators: “Whereas, it is owing to the county aristocrats that the Republic supports the war,” they approve of the following taxes:
List of contributions raised in the rural communes of the district of Strasbourg, according to an assessment made by Stamm, procureur pro tem. of the district, amounting to three millions one hundred and ninety-six thousand one hundred livres.
[42. ]“Recueil des Pièces Authentiques, etc., i., 23. By order of the representatives under date of Brumaire 25, year II. “The municipality of Strasbourg stripped the whole commune of shoes in twenty-four hours, sending for them from house to house.”—Ibid., p. 32. Orders of Representatives Lemaire and Baudot, Frimaire 1, year II., declaring that kitchen-utensils, boilers, sauce-pans, stew-pans, kettles, and other copper and lead vessels, as well as copper and lead not worked-up, found at Strasbourg and in the departments, be levied on.”—Archives Nationales, AF., I., 92. (Orders of Taillefer, Brumaire 3, year II., Villefranche l’ Avergnon.) Formation of a committee of ten persons directed to make domiciliary visits, and authorised to take possession of all the iron, lead, steel, and copper found in the houses of “suspects,” all of which kitchen utensils, are to be turned into cannon.—Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” i., 15.
[43. ]Moniteur, xxv., 188. (Speech by Blutels, July 9, 1795.)
[44. ]“Recueil du Pièces Authentiques,” etc., i., 24.—Grégoire, reports on Vandalism, Fructidor 14, year II., and Brumaire 14, year III. (Moniteur, xxii., 86 and 751.)—Ibid., Letter of December 24, 1796: “Not millions, but billions have been destroyed.”—Ibid., “Mémoires,” i., 334: “It is incalculable, the loss of religious, scientific and literary objects. The district administrations of Blanc (Indre) notified me that to ensure the preservation of a library, they had the books put in casks.”—Four hundred thousand francs were expended in smashing statues of the Fathers of the Church, forming a circle around the dome of the Invalides.—A great many objects became worthless through a cessation of their use: for example, the cathedral of Meaux was put up at auction and found no purchaser at six hundred francs. The materials were valued at forty-five thousand francs, but labor (for taking it down) was too high. (Narrative by an inhabitant of Meaux.)
[45 ]“Les Origines du Système Financier Actuel,” by Eugene Sturm, p. 53, 79.
[46. ]Meissner, “Voyage à Paris,” (end of 1795), p. 65. “The class of those who may have really gained by the Revolution … is composed of brokers, army contractors, and their subordinates, a few government agents and fermiers, enriching themselves by their new acquisitions, and who are cool and shrewd enough to hide their grain, bury their gold and steadily refuse assignats.”—Ibid., 68, 70. “On the road, he asks to whom a fine chateau belongs, and they tell him with a significant look, ‘to a former low fellow.’—‘Oh, monsieur,’ said the landlady at Vesoul, ‘for one that the Revolution has made rich, you may be sure that it has made a thousand poor.’ ”
[47. ]The following descriptions and appreciations are the fruit of extensive investigation, scarcely one tenth of the facts and texts that have been of service being cited. I must refer the reader, accordingly, to the series of printed and written documents of which I have made mention in this and the three preceding volumes.
[48. ]“The Ancient Régime,” book ii., ch. 2, § iv.
[49. ]Ibid., book iv., chs. i., ii., iii.
[50. ]Lacretelle, “Histoire de France au 18eme Siecle,” v., 2.—“The Ancient Régime,” pp. 163, 300.
[51. ]Morellet, “Mémoires,” i., 166. (Letter by Roederer to Beccaria’s daughter, May 20, 1797.)
[52. ]Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” ii., 493. “While the Duke of Orleans was undergoing his examination he read a newspaper.”—Ibid., 497. “Nobody died with more firmness, spirit and dignity than the Duke of Orleans. He again became a royal prince. On being asked in the revolutionary Tribunal whether he had any defence to make, he replied, ‘Decide if I may die today rather than tomorrow.’ ” His request was granted.—The Duc de Biron refused to escape, considering that, in such a dilemma, it was not worth while. “He passed his time in bed, drinking Bordeaux wine. … Before the Tribunal, they asked his name and he replied, ‘Cabbage, turnip, Biron, as you like, one is as good as the other.’ ‘How!’ exclaimed the judges, ‘you are insolent!’ ‘And you—you are prosy! Come to the point; you have only to say Guillotine, while I have nothing to say.’ ” Meanwhile they proceeded to interrogate him on his pretended treachery in Vendée, etc. “ ‘You do not know what you are talking about! You ignoramuses know nothing about war! Stop your questions. I reported at the time to the Committee of Public Safety, which approved of my conduct. Now, it has changed and ordered you to take my life. Obey, and lose no more time.’ Biron asked pardon of God and the King. Never did he appear better than on the (executioner’s) cart.”
[53. ]Morellet, ii., 31.—“Mémoires de la Duchesse de Tourzel,” “—— de Mdlle. des Echerolles,” etc.—Beugnot, “Mémoires, i.,” 200–203. “The wittiest remarks, the most delicate allusions, the most brilliant repartees were exchanged on each side of the grating. The conversation was general, without any subject being dwelt on. There, misfortune was treated as if it were a bad child to be laughed at, and, in fact, they did openly make sport of Marat’s divinity, Robespierre’s sacerdoce, and the magistracy of Fouquier. They seemed to say to all these bloody menials: ‘You may slaughter us when you please, but you cannot hinder us from being agreeable.’ ” —Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167. (Report by the watchman, Charmont, Nivose 29, year II.) “The people attending the executions are very much surprised at the firmness and courage they show (sic) on mounting the scaffold. They say that it looks (sic) like going to a wedding. People cannot get used to it, some declaring that it is supernatural.”
[54. ]Sauzay, i., introduction.—De Tocqueville, “L’Ancien Régime et la Revolution,” 166. “I have patiently read most of the reports and debates of the provincial ‘Etats,’ and especially those of Languedoc, where the clergy took much greater part than elsewhere in administrative details, as well as the procès-verbaux of the provincial assemblies between 1779 and 1787, and, entering on the study with the ideas of my time, I was surprised to find bishops and abbés, among whom were several as eminent for their piety as their learning, drawing up reports on roads and canals, treating such matters with perfect knowledge of the facts, discussing with the greatest ability and intelligence the best means for increasing agricultural products, for ensuring the well-being of the people and the property of industrial enterprises, oftentimes much better than the laymen who were interested with them in the same affairs.”
[55. ]“The Ancient Régime,” p. 300.—“The Revolution,” vol. i., p. 116.—Buchez et Roux, i., 481. The list of notables convoked by the King in 1787 gives an approximate idea of this social staff. Besides the leading princes and seigniors we find, among one hundred and thirty-four members, twelve marshals of France, eight Councillors of State, five maitres de requetes, fourteen bishops and archbishops, twenty presidents and seventeen procureurs-généraux of parliaments, or of royal councils, twenty-five mayors, prévots-de-marchands, capitouls and equerries of large towns, the deputies of the “Etats” of Burgundy, Artois, Brittany, and Languedoc, three ministers and two chief clerks.—The capacities were all there, on hand, for bringing about a great reform; but there was no firm, strong, controlling hand, that of a Richelieu or Frederic II.
[56. ]“Mémoires de Gaudin,” duc de Gaëte.
[57. ]Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” ii., 25, 24. “The War Committee is composed of engineer and staff-officers, of which the principal are Meussuer, Favart, St. Fief, d’Arcon, Lafitte-Clavé and a few others. D’Arcon directed the raising of the siege of Dunkirk and that of Maubenge. … These officers were selected with discernment; they planned and carried out the operations; aided by immense resources, in the shape of maps, plans, and reconnaissances preserved in the war department, they really operated according to the experience and intelligence of the great generals under the monarchy.”
[58. ]Miot de Melito, “Mémoires,” i., 47.—Andre Michel, “Correspondance de Mallet-Dupan avec la Cour de Vienne,” i., 26. (January 3, 1795.) “The Convention feels so strongly the need of suitable aids to support the burden of its embarrassments as to now seek for them among pronounced royalists. For instance, it has just offered the direction of the royal treasury to M. Dufresne, former chief of the department under the reign of the late King, and retired since 1790. It is the same spirit and making a still more extraordinary selection, which leads them to appoint M. Gerard de Rayneval to the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, chief-clerk of correspondence since the ministry of the Duc de Choiseul until that of the Comte de Montmorin inclusive. He is a man of decided opinions and an equally decided character; in 1790 I saw him abandon the department through aversion to the maxims which the Revolution had forcibly introduced into it.”
[59. ]Marshal Marmont, “Mémoires.” At nine years of age he rode on horseback and hunted daily with his father.
[60. ]Among other manuscript documents, a letter of M. Symn de Carneville, March 11, 1781. (On the families of Carneville and Montmorin St. Hérem, in 1789.) The latter family remains in France; two of its members are massacred, two executed, a fifth “escaped the scaffold by forestalling the justice of the people”; the sixth, enlisted in the revolution armies, received a shot at nineteen years of age which made him blind. The other family emigrated, and its chiefs, the Count and Viscount Carneville commanded, one, a free company in the Austrian service, and the other, a regiment of hussars in Condé’s army. Twelve officers of these two corps were brothers-in-law, nephews, first-cousins, and cousins of the two commanders, the first of whom entered the service at fifteen, and the second at eleven.—Cf. “Mémoires du Prince de Ligne.” At seven or eight years of age I had already witnessed the din of battle, I had been in a besieged town, and saw three sieges from a window. A little older, I was surrounded by soldiers; old retired officers belonging to various services, and living in the neighborhood, fed my passion.—Turenne said “I slept on a gun-carriage at the age of ten. My taste for war was so great as to lead me to enlist with a Captain of the ‘Royal Vaissiaux,’ in garrison two leagues off. If war had been declared I would have gone off and let nobody know it. I joined his company, determined not to owe my fortune to any but valorous actions.”—Cf. also “Mémoires du Maréchal de Saxe.” A soldier at twelve, in the Saxon legion, shouldering his musket, and marching with the rest, he completed each stage on foot from Saxony to Flanders, and before he was thirteen took part in the battle of Malplaquet.
[61. ]Alexandrine des Echerolles, “Un Famille Noble sous la Terreur,” p. 25.—Cf. “Correspondance de Madelle de Féring,” by Honore Bonhomme. The two sisters, one sixteen and the other thirteen, disguised as men, fought with their father in Dumouriez’ army.—See the sentiment of young nobles in the works of Berquin and Marmontel. (Les Rivaux d’Eux-meme.)
[62. ]“The Revolution,” i., 158, 325. Ibid., the affair of M. de Bussy, 306; the affair of the eighty-two gentlemen of Caen, 316.—See in Rivarol (“Journal Politique Nationale”) details of the admirable conduct of the Body-guards at Versailles, Oct. 5 and 6, 1789.
[63. ]The noble families under the ancient régime may be characterised as so many families of soldiers’ children.
[64. ]“L’Ancien Régime et la Revolution,” by M. de Tocqueville, p. 169. My judgment, likewise based on the study of texts, and especially manuscript texts, coincides here as elsewhere with that of M. de Tocqueville. Biographies and local histories contain documents too numerous to be cited.
[65. ]Sauzay, i., introduction, and Ludovic Sciout, “Histoire de la Constitution Civile du Clergé,” i., introduction. (See in Sauzay, biographical details and the grades of the principal ecclesiastical dignitaries of the diocese Besançon.) The cathedral chapter, and that of the Madeleine, could be entered only through nobility or promotion; it was requisite for a graduate to have a noble for a father, or a doctor of divinity, and himself be a doctor of divinity or in canon law. Analogous titles, although lower down, were requisite for collegiate canons, and for chaplains or familiers.
[66. ]“The Revolution,” i., 233.—Cf. Emile Ollivier, “L’Eglise et l’Etat au Concile du Vatican,” i., 134, ii., 511.
[67. ]Morellet, “Mémoires,” i., 8, 31. The Sorbonne, founded by Robert Sorbon, Confessor to St. Louis, was an association resembling one of the Oxford or Cambridge colleges, that is to say, a corporation possessing a building, revenues, rules, regulations, and boarders; its object was to afford instruction in the theological sciences; its titular members, numbering about a hundred, were mostly bishops, vicars-general, canons, curés in Paris and in the principal towns. Men of distinction were prepared in it at the expense of the Church.—The examinations for the doctorate were the tentative, the mineure, the Sorbonique and the majeure. A talent for discussion and argument was particularly developed.—Cf. Ernest Renan, “Souvenirs d’Enfance et de Jeunesse,” p. 279 (on St. Sulpice and the study of Theology).
[68. ]Cf. the files of the clergy in the States-General, and the reports of ecclesiastics in the provincial assemblies.
[69. ]“The Revolution,” p. 72.
[70. ]In some dioceses, notably that of Besançon, the rural parishes were served by distinguished men. (Sauzay, i., 16.) “It was not surprising to encounter a man of European reputation, like Bergier, so long curé of Flangebouche; an astronomer of great merit, like M. Mongin, curé of Grand ’combe des Bois, whose works occupy an honorable place in Lalande’s bibliography, all passing their lives in the midst of peasants. At Rochejean, a priest of great intelligence and fine feeling, M. Boillon, a distinguished naturalist, had converted his house into a museum of natural history as well as into an excellent school. … It was not rare to find priests belonging to the highest social circles, like MM. de Trevillers, of Trevillers, Balard de Bonnevaux of Bonétage, de Mesmay of Mesmay, du Bouvot, at Osselle, cheerfully burying themselves in the depths of the country, some on their family estates, and, not content to share their income with their poor parishioners, but on dying, leaving them a large part of their fortunes.”
[71. ]De Tocqueville, “L’Ancien Régime,” 134, 137.
[72. ]Terms signifying certain minor courts of law.
[73. ]Albert Babeau, “La Ville sous l’Ancien Régime,” p. 26.—(Advertisements in the “Journal de Troyes,” 1784, 1789.) “For sale, the place of Councillor in the Salt-department at Sézannes. Income from eight to nine hundred livres. Price ten thousand livres.”—“A person desires to purchase in this town (Troyes) an office in the Magistracy or Finances, at from twenty-five thousand to sixty thousand livres; cash paid down if required.”
[74. ]De Tocqueville, “L’Ancien Régime,” p. 356. The municipal body of Angers comprised, among other members, two deputies of the présidial, two of the Forest and Streams department, two of the Election, two of the Salt-department, two of the Customs, two of the Mint, two Council judges. The system of the ancient régime, universally, is the grouping together of all individuals in one body with a representative of all these bodies, especially those of the notables. The municipal body of Angers, consequently, comprises two deputies of the society of lawyers and procureurs, two of the notarial body, one of the University, one of the Chapter, a Syndic of the clerks, etc.—At Troyes (Albert Babeau, “Histoire de Troyes Pendant la Révolution,” p. 23.) Among the notables of the municipality may be found one member of the clergy, two nobles, one officer of the bailiwick, one officer of the other jurisdictions, one physician, one or two bourgeois, one lawyer, one notary or procureur, four merchants and two members of the trade guild.
[75. ]Albert Babeau, “La Ville,” p. 26. (Cf. note on preceding page.) The “Returns” at Reteil, in 1746, is sold at one hundred and fifty thousand livres; it brings in from eleven thousand to fourteen thousand livres.—The purchaser, besides, has to pay to the State the “right of the gold maré” (a tax on the transfer of property); in 1762, this right amounted to nine hundred and forty livres for the post of Councillor to the bailiwick of Troyes. D’Espremenil, councillor in the Paris Parliament, had paid fifty thousand livres for his place, besides ten thousand livres for the tax of the “gold marc.”
[76. ]Emile Bos, “Les Avocats au Conseil du Roi,” p. 340. Master Peruot, procureur, was seated on the balcony of the Théatre Français when Count Moreton Chabrillant arrives and wants his place. The procureur resists and the Count calls the guard, who leads him off to prison. Master Peruot enters a complaint; there is a trial, intervention of the friends of M. de Chabrillant before the garde des sceaux, petitions of the nobles and resistance of the entire guild of advocates and procureurs. M. de Chabrillant, senior, offers Peruot forty thousand livres to withdraw his suit, which Peruot refuses to do. Finally, the Count de Chabrillant is condemned, with six thousand livres damages (which are given to the poor and to prisoners), as well as to the expense of printing two hundred impressions of the verdict.—Duport de Cheverney, “Mémoires” (unpublished), communicated by M. Robert de Crêvecoeur: “Formerly a man paid fifty thousand livres for an office with only three hundred livres income; the consideration, however, he enjoyed through it, and the certainty of remaining in it for life, compensated him for the sacrifice, while the longer he kept it, the greater was the influence of himself and children.”
[77. ]Albert Babeau, “La Ville,” p. 27;—“Histoire de Troyes,” p. 21.—This portrait is drawn according to recollections of childhood and family narrations. I happen to have known the details of two or three small provincial towns, one of about six thousand inhabitants where, before 1800, nearly all the notables, forty families, were relations; today all are scattered. The more one studies documents, the more does Montesquieu’s definition of the mainspring of society under the ancient régime seem profound and just, this mainspring consisting of honor. In the bourgeoisie who were confounded with the nobility, namely the Parliamentarians, their functions were nearly gratuitous; the magistrate received his pay in deference. (Moniteur, v., 520. Session of August 30, 1790, speech by d’Espremenil.) “Here is what it cost a Councillor; I take myself as an example. He paid fifty thousand livres for his place, and ten thousand more for the tax of the ‘marc d’or.’ He received three hundred and eighty-nine livres ten sous salary, from which three hundred and sixty-seven livres ‘capitation’ had to be deducted. The King allowed us forty-five livres for extra service of ‘La Tournelle.’ How about the fees? is asked. The (grande chambre) superior court, asserted to have received the largest amount, was composed of one hundred and eighty members; the fees amounted to two hundred and fifty thousand livres, which were not a burden on the nation, but on the litigants. M. Thouret, who practised in the Rouen parliament, will bear witness to this. I appeal to him to say conscientiously what sum a Councillor derived from his office—not five hundred livres. … When a judgment cost the litigant nine hundred livres the King’s portion was six hundred livres. … To sum up, the profits of an office were seven livres ten sous.”
[78. ]Albert Babeau, “La Ville,” ch. ii., and “Histoire de Troyes,” i., ch. 1. At Troyes, fifty merchants, notables, elected the judge-consul and two consuls; the merchants’ guild possessed its own hall and had its own meetings. At Paris, the drapers, mercers, grocers, furriers, hatters, and jewellers formed the six bodies of merchants. The merchants’ guild everywhere took precedence of other industrial communities and enjoyed special privileges. “The merchants,” says Loyseau, “hold rank (qualité d’honneur), being styled honorable men, honest persons and bourgeois of the towns, qualifications not attributed to husbandmen, nor to sergents, nor to artisans, nor to manual laborers.”—On paternal authority and domestic discipline in these old bourgeois families see the History of Beaumarchais and his father. (“Beaumarchais,” by M. de Loménie, vol 1.)
[79. ]Albert Babeau, “Le Village sous I’ Ancien Régime,” p. 56, ch. iii and iv. (on the village syndics), and pp. 357 and 359. “The peasants had the right to deliberate on their own affairs directly and to elect their principal agents. They understood their own wants, what sacrifices to impose for school and church … for repairs of the town clock and the belfry. They appointed their own agents and generally elected the most capable.”—Ibid., “La Ville sous l’ Ancien Régime,” p. 29. The artisans’ guilds numbered at Paris one hundred and twenty-four, at Amiens sixty-four, and at Troyes fifty, also Chalons-sur-Marne, at Angers twenty-seven. The edicts of 1776 reduced them to forty-four at Paris, and to twenty as the maximum for the principal towns within the jurisdiction of the Paris parliament.—“Each guild formed a city within a city. … Like the communes, it had its special laws, its selected chiefs, its assemblies, its own building or, at least, a chamber in common, its banner, coat-of-arms and colors.”—Ibid., “Histoire de Troyes Pendant la Révolution,” i., 13, 329. Trade guilds and corporations bear the following titles, drawn up in 1789, from the files of complaints: apothecaries, jewellers and watch-makers, booksellers and printers, master-barbers, grocers, wax and candle-makers, bakers and tailors, master shoemakers, eating-house-keepers, inn-keepers and hatters, master-masons and plasterers in lime and cement, master-joiners, coopers and cabinet-makers, master-cutlers, armorers, and polishers; founders, braziers, and pin-makers; master-locksmiths, ironmongers, tinsmiths and other metal workers, vinegar-makers, master-shearers, master rope-makers, master-tanners, dealers and master-dyers and dressers; master saddle and harness-makers, charcoal-burners, carters, paper-makers and band-box-makers, cap-makers and associates in arts and trades.—In some towns one or two of these natural guilds kept up during the Revolution and still exist, as, for example, that of the butchers at Limoges.
[80. ]F. Leplay, “Les Ouvriers Européens,” v., 456, 2d ed., (on workmen’s guilds), Charpentier, Paris.
[81. ]F. Leplay, “Les Ouvriers Européens,” (2d ed.), iv., 377, and the monographs of four families (Bordier of Lower Brittany, Brassier of Armagnac, Savonnier of Lower Provence, Paysan of Lavedan, ch. 7, 8 and 9).—Ibid., “L’Organization de la Famille,” p. 62, and the whole volume.—M. Leplay, in his exact, methodical and profound researches, has rendered a service of the highest order to political science and, consequently, to history. He has minutely observed and described the scattered fragments of the old organisation of society; his analysis and comparison of these fragments shows the thickness and extent of the stratum almost gone, to which they belonged. My own observations on the spot, in many provinces in France, as well as the recollections of my youth, agree with M. Leplay’s discoveries.—On the stable, honest, and prosperous families of small rural proprietors, Cf. ibid., p. 68 (Arthur Young’s observation in Béarn), and p. 75. Many of these families existed in 1789, more of them than at the present time, especially in Gascony, Languedoc, Auvergne, Dauphiny, Franche-Comté, Alsace, and Normandy.—Ibid., “L’Organization du Travail,” pp. 499, 503, 508. (Effects of the “Code Civile” on the transmission of a manufactory and a business establishment in France, and on cultivation in Savoy; the number of suits in France produced by the system of forced partition of property.)
[82. ]F. Leplay, “L’Organization de la Famille,” p. 212. (History of the Mélonga family from 1856 to 1869 by M. Cheysson.) Also p. 269. (On the difficulty of partitions among ascendants, by M. Claudio Jannet.)
[83. ]Rétif de la Bretonne, “Vie de mon Pêre,” (paternal authority in a peasant family in Burgundy). The reader, on this point, may test the souvenirs of his grand-parents. With reference to the bourgeoisie I have cited the family of Beaumarchais. Concerning the nobles, see the admirable letter by Buffon June 22, 1787 (correspondence of Buffon, two vols., published by M. Nadaud de Buffon), prescribing to his son how he ought to act on account of his wife’s behavior.
[84. ]Moniteur, xix., 669.
[85. ]Dauban, “Paris en 1794,” p. 245. (Report by Bacon, Ventose 25, year II.)
[86. ]Ibid. (Report by Perrière, Ventose 26.)
[87. ]Ironical, slang for a hog. tr.
[88. ]Ibid., 245. (Report by Bacon, speech of an orator to the general assembly of the section “Contrat-Social,” Ventose 25.)
[89. ]“Un Séjour en France.” (Sep., 1792.) Letter of a Parisian: “It is not yet safe to walk the streets in decent clothes. I have been obliged to procure and put on pantaloons, jacket, colored cravate, and coarse linen, before attempting to go outdoors.”—Beaulieu, “Essais,” v., 281. “Our dandies let their moustaches grow long; while they rumpled their hair, dirtied their hands and donned nasty garments. Our philosophers and literary men wore big fur caps with long fox-tails dangling over their shoulders; some dragged great trailing sabres along the pavement—they were taken for Tartars. … In public assemblies, in the theatre boxes, nothing was seen in the front rows but monstrous red bonnets. All the galériens of all the convict prisons in Europe seem to have come and set the fashion in this superb city which had given it to all Europe.”—“Un Séjour en France,” p. 43. (Amiens, September, 1792.) “Ladies in the street who are well-dressed or wear colors that the people regard as aristocratic are commonly insulted. I, myself, have been almost knocked down for wearing a straw hat trimmed with green ribbons.”—Nolhac, “Souvenirs de Trois Années de la Révolution at Lyons,” p. 132. “It was announced that whoever had two coats was to fetch one of them to the Section, so as to clothe some good republican and ensure the reign of equality.”
[90. ]Buchez et Roux, xxvi., 455. (Speech by Robespierre, in the Jacobin Club, May 10, 1793.) “The rich cherish hopes for an antirevolution; it is only the wretched, only the people who can save the country.”—Ibid., xxx. (Report by Robespierre to the Convention, December 25, 1793.) “Virtue is the appanage of the unfortunate and the people’s patrimony.”—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 72. (Letter of the municipality of Montauban, Vendémiaire 23, year IV.) Many workmen in the manufactories have been perverted “by excited demagogues and club orators who have always held out to them equality of fortunes and presented the Revolution as the prey of the class they called sans-culottes. … The law of the ‘maximum,’ at first tolerably well carried out, the humiliation of the rich, the confiscation of the immense possessions of the rich, seemed to be the realisation of these fine promises.”
[91. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 4,421. Petition of Madeleine Patris.—Petition of Quetreut Cogniér, weaver, “sans-culotte, and one of the first members of the Troyes national guard.” (Style and orthography of the most barbarous kind.)
[92. ]Ibid., AF., II. 135. (Extract from the deliberations of the Revolutionary Committee of the commune of Strasbourg, list of prisoners and reasons for arresting them.) At Oberschaeffelsheim, two farmers “because they are two of the richest private persons in the commune.”—“Recueil de Pièces, etc.,” i. 225. (Declaration by Welcher, revolutionary commissioner). “I, the undersigned, declare that, on the orders of citizen Clauer, commissioner of the canton, I have surrendered at Strasbourg seven of the richest in Obershaeffelsheim without knowing why.” Four of the seven were guillotined.
[93. ]Buchez et Roux, xxvi., 341. (Speech by Chasles in the Convention, May 2, 1793.)
[94. ]Moniteur, xviii., 452. (Speech by Hébert in the Jacobin Club, Brumaire 26.)—Schmidt, “Tableaux de la Révolution Française,” 19. (Reports of Dutard, June 11.—Archives Nationales. F7, 3,1167. (Report of the Pourvoyeur, Nivose 6, year II.) “The people complain (se plain) that there are still some conspirators in the interior, such as butchers and bakers, but particularly the former, who are (son) an intolerable aristocracy. They (il) will sell no more meat, etc. It is frightful to see what they (il) give the people.”
[95. ]“Recueil de Police,” etc., i., 69 and 91. At Strasbourg a number of women of the lower class are imprisoned as “aristocrats and fanatics,” with no other alleged motive. The following are their occupations: dressmaker, upholsteress, housewife, midwife, baker, wives of coffee-house keepers, tailors, potters, and chimney-sweeps.—Ibid., ii., 216. “Ursule Rath, servant to an emigré, arrested for the purpose of knowing what her master had concealed. … Marie Faber, on suspicion of having served in a priest’s house.”—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 135. (List of the occupations of the suspected women detained in the cabinets of the National college.) Most of them are imprisoned for being either mothers, sisters, wives, or daughters of emigrés or exiled priests, and many are the wives of shopkeepers or mechanics. One, a professional nurse, is an “aristocrat and fanatic.” (Another list describes the men); a cooper as “aristocrat”; a tripe-seller as “very incivique, never having shown any attachment to the Revolution”; a mason has never shown “patriotism,” a shoemaker is “aristocrat at all times, having accepted a porter’s place under the tyrant”; four foresters “do not entertain patriotic sentiments,” etc.—“Recueil de Pièces, etc.,” ii., 220. Citoyenne Genet, aged 75, and her daughter, aged 44, are accused of having sent, May 22, 1792, thirty-six francs in silver to the former’s son, an emigré, and were guillotined.—Cf. Sauzay, vols. iii., iv. and v. (appendices), lists of emigrés and prisoners in Doubs, where titles and professions, with motives for confining them, will be found.—At Paris, even (Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167, report of Latour-Lamontagne, September 20, 1793), aversion to the government descends very low. “Three women (market-women) all agree on one point—the necessity of a new order of things. They complain of the authorities without exception. … If the King is not on their lips, it is much to be feared that he is already in their hearts. A woman in the Faubourg St. Antoine, said: If our husbands made the Revolution we shall know how to put it down if necessary.”
[96. ]See above ch. v., § 4.—Archives Nationales, F7, 4,435, No. 10. (Letter of Collot d’Herbois to Couthon, Frimaire 11, year II.)
[97. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 331. (Letter of Bertrand, Nismes, Frimaire 3.) “We are sorry to see patriots here not very delicate in the way they cause arrests, in ascertaining who are criminal, and the precious class of mechanics is no exception.”
[98. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, “La Justice Révolutionnaire,” 1st ed., p. 229.
[99. ]“Un Séjour en France,” p. 186. “I notice that most of the arrests now made are farmers.” (In consequence of the requisitions for grain, and on account of the applications of the law of the maximum.)
[100. ]“Bulletin du Tribunal Révolutionnaire,” No. 431. (Testimony of Tontin, secretary of the court.) Twelve hundred of these poor creatures were set free after Thermidor 9.
[101. ]Moniteur, session of June 29, 1797. (Report of Luminais.)—Danican, “Les Brigands Démasqués,” p. 194.
[102. ]Meillan, “Mémoires,” p. 166.
[103. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, “La Justice Révolutionnaire,” p. 419.—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 145. (Orders issued by Representative Maignet, Floréal 14, 15 and 17, year II.) “The criminal court will try and execute the principal criminals; the rest of the inhabitants will abandon their houses in twenty-four hours, and take their furniture along with them. The town will then be burnt. All rebuilding or tillage of the soil is forbidden. The inhabitants will be apportioned among neighboring communes; nobody is allowed to leave the commune assigned to him under penalty of being treated as an emigré. All must appear once in a decade at the municipality under penalty of being declared ‘suspect’ and imprisoned.”
[104. ]“Recueil de Piecès, etc.,” i., 52. (Carret de Beudot and La Coste, Pluviose 6, year II.) “Whereas, it being impossible to find jurors within an extent of one hundred leagues, two-thirds of the inhabitants having emigrated.”—Moniteur, Aug. 28 and 29, 1797. (Report by Harmand de la Meuse.)—Ibid., xix., 714. (Session of Ventose 26, year II., speech by Baudot.) “Forty thousand persons of all ages and both sexes in the districts alone of Hagnenau and Wissembourg, fled from the French territory on the lines being retaken. The names are in our hands, their furniture in the depot at Saverne and their property is made over to the Republic.”
[105. ]Albert Babeau, “Histoire de Troyes,” ii., 160. “A gardener had carefully accumulated eight thousand two hundred and twenty-three livres in gold, the fruit of his savings; threatened with imprisonment, he was obliged to give them up.”
[106. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 116. (Orders of Representative Paganel, Toulouse, Brumaire 12, year II.) “The day has arrived when apathy is an insult to patriotism, and indifference a crime. We no longer reply to the objections of avarice; we will force the rich to fulfil the duties of fraternity which they have abjured.”—Ibid. (Extract from the minutes of the meetings of the Central Committee of Montauban, April 11, 1793, with the approval of the representative, Jean Bon St. André.) “The moment has at length come when moderatism, royalism and pusillanimity, and all other traitorous or useless sects to the country, should disappear from the soil of Liberty.” All opinions opposed to those of sans-culotterie are blamable and merit punishment.
[107. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 2,471. (Minutes of the Revolutionary Committee of the Tuileries section, meeting of September 17, 1793.) List of seventy-four persons put under arrest and among them, M. de Noailles, with the following note opposite his name: “The entire family to be arrested, including their heir Guy, and Hervet, their old intendant, rue St. Honoré.”
[108. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 322. (Letters of Ladonay, Chalons, September 17 and 20, 1792.) “At Meaux, the brigands have cut the throats of fifteen prisoners, seven of whom are priests whose relations belong to the town or its environs. Hence an immense number of malcontents.”—Sauzay, i., 97. “The country curés are generally recruited from among the rural bourgeoisie and the most respected farmers’ families.”
[109. ]Sauzay, passim, especially vols. 3, 4, 5, and 6.
[110. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 4,437. Address of the popular club of Clavisson (Gard.), Messidor 7, year II.—Rodolphe Reuss, “Séligman Alexandre, sur les Tribulations d’un Israelite Strasbourgeois Pendant la Terreur,” p. 37. Order issued by General Dieche to Coppin, in command of the “Séminaire” prison. “Strive with the utmost zeal to suppress the cackle of aristocrats.” Such is the sum of the instructions to jail keepers.
[111. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 88. (Edict issued by Representative Milhaud, Narbonne, Ventose 9, year II.) Article ii. “The patriotic donation will be doubled if, in three days, all boats are not unloaded and all carts loaded as fast as they arrive.” Article iv. “The municipality is charged, on personal responsibility, to proportion the allotment on the richest citizens of Narbonne.” Article vii. “If this order is not executed within twenty-four hours, the municipality will designate to the commandant of the post the rich egoists who may have refused to furnish their contingent, etc.” Article viii. “The commandant is specially charged to report (the arrests of the refractory rich) to the representative of the people within twenty-four hours, he being responsible on his head for the punctual execution of the present order.”—Ibid., AF., II., 135. (Orders of Saint-Just and Lebas, Strasbourg, Brumaire 10, year II.) The following is equally ironical; the rich of Strasbourg are represented as “soliciting a loan on opulent persons and severe measures” against refractory egoists.
[112. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 92. Orders of Representative Taillefer, Villefranche, Aveyron, Brumaire 3, year II., and of his delegate, Deltheil, Brumaire 11, year II.
[113. ]This is the case in Lyons, Bordeaux, Marseilles, and at Paris, as we see in the signatures of the petition of the eight thousand, or that of the twenty thousand, and for members of the Feuillants clubs, etc.
[114. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 116. (Minutes of the public session of Ventose 20, year II., held at Montargis, in the Temple of Reason, by Benon, “national agent of the commune and special agent of the people’s representative.” Previous and subsequent orders, by Representative Lefert.) Eighty-six persons signed, subject to public penance, among them twenty-four wives or widows, which, with the four names sent to the Paris tribunal and the thirty-two imprisoned, makes one hundred and twenty-two. It is probable that the one hundred and six who are wanting to complete the list of two hundred and twenty-eight had emigrated, or been banished in the interval as unsworn priests.—Ibid., D.S., I., 10. (Orders by Delacroix, Bouchet, and Legendre, Conches, Frimaire 8 and 9, year II.) The incarceration of the municipal officers of Conches for an analogous petition and other marks of Feuillantism.
[115. ]The real sentiments and purposes of the Jacobins are well shown at Strasbourg. (“Recueil de Pièces, etc.,” i., 77. Public meeting of the municipal body, and speech by Bierlyn, Prairial 25, year II.) “How can the insipid arrogance of these (Strasbourg) people be represented to you, their senseless attachment to the patrician families in their midst, the absurd feuillantism of some and the vile sycophancy of others? How is it, they say, that moneyless interlopers, scarcely ever heard of before, dare assume to have credit in a town of sensible inhabitants and honest families, from father to son, accustomed to governing and renowned for centuries?”—Ibid., 113. (Speech of the mayor Mouet, Floréal 21, year II.) “Moral purification (in Strasbourg) has become less difficult through the reduction of fortunes and the salutary terror excited among those covetous men. … Civilization has encountered mighty obstacles in this great number of well-to-do families who have nourished souvenirs of, and who regret the privileges enjoyed by, these families under the Emperors; they have formed a caste apart from the State; carefully preserving the gothic pictures of their ancestors they were united only amongst themselves. They are excluded from all public functions. Honest artisans, now taken from all pursuits, impel the revolutionary cart with a vigorous hand.”
[116. ]Archives des Affairs Étrangérès, vol. 1411. (Instructions for the civil commissioners by Hérault, representative of the people, Colmar, Frimaire 2, year II.) He enumerates the diverse categories of persons who were to be arrested, which categories are so large and numerous as to include nine out of ten of the inhabitants.
[117. ]Dauban, “Paris en 1794,” p. 264. (Report of Pourveyeur, Ventose 29.) “They remark (sic) that one is not (sic) a patriot with twenty-thousand livres (sic) income, and especially a former advocate-general.”
[118. ]De Martel, “Fouché,” p. 226, 228. For instance, at Nevers, a man of sixty-two years of age, is confined “as rich, egoist, fanatic, doing nothing for the Revolution, a proprietor, and having five hundred livres revenue.”
[119. ]Buchez et Roux, xxvi., 177. (Speech by Cambon, April 27, 1793.)
[120. ]“Who are our enemies? The vicious and the rich.”—“All the rich are vicious, in opposition to the Revolution.” (Notes made by Robespierre in June and July, 1793, and speech by him in the Jacobin Club, May 10, 1793.)
[121. ]Guillon, ii., 355. (Instructions furnished by Collot d’Herbois and Fouché, Brumaire 26, year II.)
[122. ]De Martel, 117, 181. (Orders of Fouché, Nevers, August 25 and October 8, 1793.)
[123. ]Guillon.—Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, F. 1411. Reports by observers at Paris, Aug. 12 and 13, 1793. “The rich man is the sworn enemy of the Revolution.”
[124. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 135. (Orders of Saint-Just and Lebas, Strasbourg, Brumaire 10, year II., with the list of names of one hundred and ninety-three persons taxed, together with their respective amounts of taxation.)—Among others, “a widow Franck, banker, two hundred thousand livres.”—Ibid., AF., II., 49. (Documents relating to the revolutionary tax at Belfort.) “Vieillard, Moderate and egoist, ten thousand francs; Keller, rich egoist, seven thousand; as aristocrats, of whom the elder and younger brother are imprisoned, Barthélémy the younger ten thousand, Barthélémy senior, three thousand five hundred, Barthélémy junior seven thousand, citoyenne Barthélémy, mother, seven thousand, etc.”
[125. ]“Recueil de Pièces, etc.,” i., 22. (Letter of the Strasbourg authorities.) De Martel, p. 288. (Letter of the authorities of Allier.) “Citizens Sainay, Balome, Heulard, and Lavaleisse were exposed on the scaffold in the most rigorous season for six hours (at Moulins) with this inscription—“bad citizen who has given nothing to the charity-box.”
[126. ]“Recueil de Pièces, etc.,” i., 16.
[127. ]Ibid., i., 159. (Orders of Brumaire 15, year II.)
[128. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 2,475. (Minutes of the Revolutionary Committee of the Piques section.) September 9, 1793, at 3 o’clock in the morning, the committee declares that, for its part, “it has arrested twenty-one persons of the category below stated.” October 8, it places two sans-culottes as guards in the houses of all those named below, in the quarter, even those who could not be arrested on account of absence. “It is time to take steps to make sure of all whose indifference (sic) and moderatism is ruining the country.”
[129. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, pp. 36, 38. Carrier declares suspect “merchants and the rich.”
[130. ]Moniteur, xviii., 641. (Letter of the representatives imprisoned at Bordeaux, Frimaire 10, year II.)
[131. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 329. (Letter of Brutus, October 3, 1793.)
[132. ]Ibid., vol. 329. (Letter of Charles Duvivier, Lille, Vendémiaire 15, year II.)
[133. ]Speech by Barère, Ventose 17, year II.
[134. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 331. Letter by Darbault, political agent, Tarbes, Frimaire 11, year II. (Project for doing away with middle men in trade, brokers, and bankers.) “The profession of a banker is abolished. All holders of public funds are forbidden to sell them under a year and one day after the date of their purchase. No one must be at the same time wholesale and retail dealer, etc.” Projects of this sort are numerous. As to the establishment of a purely agricultural and military Republic, see the papers of Saint-Just, and the correspondence of the Lyons Terrorists. According to them the new France needs no silk-weavers. The definite formulas of the system are always found among the Babeuvists. “Let the arts perish, if it must be so, provided real Equality remains.” (Sylvain Maréchal, “Maniféste des Egaux.”)
[135. ]“Revue Historique,” November, 1878. (Letter of M. Falk, Paris, Oct. 19, 1795.)
[136. ]“Etude sur l’histoire de Grenoble Pendant la Terreur,” by Paul Thibault. (List of notorious “suspects” and of ordinary “suspects” for each district in the Isère, April and May, 1793.)—Cf. the various lists of Doubs in Sauzay, and of Troyes, in Albert Babeau.
[137. ]“Recueil de Pièces, etc.,” i., 19, and the second letter of Frederic Burger, Thermidor 25.—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 111. (Order of Representatives Merlincourt and Amar, Grenoble, April 27, 1793.) “The persons charged with the actual government of and instruction in the public establishments known in this town under the titles of, 1st, Orphelines; 2d, Présentins; 3d, Capuchins; 4th, Le Propagation; 5th, Hospice for female servants … are put under arrest and are forbidden to take any part whatever in the functions relating to teaching, education, or instruction.”
[138. ]Moniteur, xxi., 645. (Session of the Convention, Fructidor 14, year II.)
[139. ]Moniteur, xviii., 51. (Letter by Carrier, Brumaire 17, year II.)—Berryat Saint-Prix, pp. 36 and 38.
[140. ]Ibid., 140. (The imprisoned at Brest.)
[141. ]Mallet-Dupan, “Correspondance Politique,” introduction, p. viii. (Hamburg, 1796.)
[142. ]Portalis, “De la Révision des Jugements,” 1795. (Saint-Beuve, “Causeries du Lundi,” v., 452.)
[143. ]Granier du Cassagnac, “Histoire du Directoire,” i., 107. (Trial of Baboeuf, extracts from Buonarotti, programme des “Egaux.”) All literature in favor of Revelation must be prohibited: children are to be brought up in common; the child will no longer bear his father’s name; no Frenchman shall leave France; towns shall be demolished, chateaux torn down and books proscribed; all Frenchmen shall wear one special costume; armies shall be commanded by civil magistrates; the dead shall be prosecuted and obtain burial only according to the favorable decision of the court; no written document shall be published without the consent of the government, etc.”—Cf. “Les Méditations de Saint-Just.”
[144. ]Guillon, ii., 174.
[145. ]“Mémoires sur les Prisons,” i., 211, ii., 187.—Beaulieu, “Essais,” v., 320. “The prisons became the rendezvous of polite society.”
[146. ]“The Revolution,” vol. 3, ch. 6, ante.
[147. ]Chateaubriand: “Génie du Christianisme,” part 4, book ii., notes on the exhumations at St. Denis taken by a monk, an eye-witness. Destruction, August 6 and 8, 1793, of fifty-one monuments. Exhumation of bodies, October 12 and 25, 1793.—Camille Boursier, “Essai sur la Terreur en Anjou,” p. 223. (Testimony of Bordier-Langlois.) “I saw the head of our good Duke Réné, deposited in the chapel of St. Bernardin, in the Cordéliers at Angers, tossed like a ball by some laborers from one to the other.”
[148. ]R. Chantelauze, “Louis XVII.” (according to unpublished documents). This book, free of declamation and composed according to the critical method, sets this question at rest.
[149. ]Wallon, “Histoire du Tribunal Révolutionnaire,” iii., 285.—Campardon, “His. du Tribunal Révolutionnaire de Paris,” i., 306. Brochet, one of the jury, was formerly a lackey.
[150. ]The above simply conveys the sense of the document, which is here given in the original: “Si tu n’èst pas toute seulle et que le compagnion soit a travailier tu peus ma chaire amie venir voir juger 24 mesieurs tous si-deven president on conselier au parlement de Paris et de Toulouse. Je t’ ainvite a prendre quelque choge aven de venir parcheque nous naurons pas fini de 3 hurres. Je tembrase ma chaire amie et epouge.”
[151. ]Wallon, iii., 402.
[152. ]Campardon, ii., 350.—Cf. “Causeries du Lundi,” ii., 164. Saint-Beuve’s comment on the examination. “André Chénier, natife de Constentinoble … son frère vice-consulte en Espagne. “Remark the questions on his health and correspondence and the cock-and-bull story about the ‘maison à cotté.’ ”—They ask him where his servant was on the 10th of August, 1792, and he replies that he could not tell. “A lui representé qua lepoque de cette journée que touts les bons citoyent ny gnoroit point leurs existence et quayant enttendue batte la générale cettait un motife de plus pour reconnoitre tous les bons citoyent et le motife au quelle il setait employée pour sauvée la Republique. A repondue quil avoit dite l’exacte véritée. A lui demandée quel etoit dite l’exacte veritée—a repondue que cetoit toutes ce qui etoit cy dessue.”
[1. ]On the other more complicated functions, such as the maintenance of roads, canals, harbors, public buildings, lighting, cleanliness, hygiene, superior secondary and primary education, hospitals, and other asylums, highway security, the suppression of robbery and kindred crimes, the destruction of wolves, etc., see Rocquain, “Etat de la France au 18 Brumaire,” and the “Statistiques des Départements,” published by the préfets, from years IX. to XIII.—These branches of the service were almost entirely overthrown; the reader will see the practical results of their suppression in the documents referred to.
[2. ]“St. John de Crêvecoeur,” by Robert de Crêvecoeur, p. 216. (Letter of Mdlle. de Gouves, July, 1800.) “We are negotiating for the payment of, at least, the arrearages since 1789 on the Arras property.” (M. de Gouves and his sisters had not emigrated, and yet they had had no income from their property for ten years.)
[3. ]Cf. “The Revolution,” vol. i., 254–261, 311–352; vol. ii., 234–272.
[4. ]Cf. “The Revolution,” ii., 273–276.
[5. ]Buchez et Roux, xxii., 178. (Speech by Robespierre in the Convention, December 2, 1792.)—Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” i., 400. About the same date, “a deputation from the department of Gard expressly demands a sum of two hundred and fifty millions, as indemnity to the cultivator, for grain which it calls national property.” This fearful sum of two hundred and fifty millions, they add, is only a fictive advance, placing at its disposal real and purely national wealth, not belonging in full ownership to any distinct member of the social body any more than the pernicious metals minted as current coin.”
[6. ]Buchez et Roux, xxvi., 95. (Declaration of Rights presented in the Jacobin Club, April 21, 1793.)
[7. ]Decrees in every commune establishing a tax on the rich in order to render the price of bread proportionate to wages, also in each large city to raise an army of paid sans-culottes, that will keep aristocrats under their pikes, April 5–7.—Decree ordering the forced loan of a billion on the rich, May 20–25.—Buchez et Roux, xxv., 156. (Speech by Charles, March 27.—Gorsas, “Courrier des Départments,” No. for May 15, 1793. (Speech by Simon in the club at Annecy.)—Speech by Guffroy at Chartres, and of Chalier and associates at Lyons, etc.
[8. ]Report by Minister Claviéres, February 1, 1793, p. 27.—Cf. Report of M. de Montesquiou, September, 9, 1791, p. 47. “During the first twenty-six months of the Revolution the taxes brought in three hundred and fifty-six millions less than they should naturally have done.”—There is the same deficit in the receipts of the towns, especially on account of the abolition of the octroi. Paris, under this head, loses ten millions per annum.
[9. ]Report by Cambon, Pluviose 3, year III. “The Revolution and the war have cost in four years five thousand three hundred and fifty millions above the ordinary expenses.” (Cambon, in his estimates, purposely exaggerates ordinary expenses of the monarchy. According to Necker’s budget, the expenditure in 1759 was fixed at five hundred and thirty-one millions and not, as Cambon states, seven hundred millions. This raises the expenses of the Revolution and of the war to seven thousand one hundred and twenty-one millions for the four and a half years, and hence to one thousand five hundred and eighty-one millions per annum, that is to say, to triple the ordinary expenses.) The expenses of the cities are therefore exaggerated like those of the State and for the same reasons.
[10. ]Schmidt, “Pariser Zustände,” i. 93, 96. “During the first half of the year 1789 there were seventeen thousand men at twenty sous a day in the national workshops at Montmartre. In 1790, there were nineteen thousand. In 1791, thirty-one thousand costing sixty thousand francs a day. In 1790, the State expends seventy-five millions for maintaining the price of bread in Paris at eleven sous for four pounds.—Ibid., 113. During the first six months of 1793 the State pays the Paris bakers about seventy-five thousand francs a day to keep bread at three sous the pound.
[11. ]Ibid., i., 139–144.
[12. ]Decree of September 27, 1790. “The circulation of assignats shall not extend beyond one billion two hundred millions. … Those which are paid in shall be destroyed and there shall be no other creation or emission of them, without a decree of the Corps Legislatif, always subject to this condition that they shall not exceed the value of the national possessions nor obtain a circulation above one billion two hundred millions.
[13. ]Schmidt, ibid., i., 104, 138, 144.
[14. ]Felix Rocquain, “L’Etat de la France au 18 Brumaire,” p. 240. (Report by Lacuée, year IX.)—Reports by préfets under the Consulate. (Reports of Laumont, préfet of the Lower-Rhine, year X.; of Colchen, préfet of the Moselle, year XI., etc.)—Schmidt, “Pariser Zustände,” iii., 205. (“The rate of interest during the Revolution was from four to five per cent. per month; in 1796 from six to eight per cent. per month, the lowest rate being two per cent. per month with security.”)
[15. ]Arthur Young, “Voyage en France,” ii., 360. (Fr. translation.) “I regard Bordeaux as richer and more commercial than any city in England except London.”
[16. ]Ibid., ii., 357. The statistics of exports in France in 1787 give three hundred and forty-nine millions, and imports three hundred and forty millions (leaving out Lorraine, Alsace, the three Evéchés, and the West Indies).—Ibid., 360. In 1786 the importations from the West Indies amounted to one hundred and seventy-four millions, of which St. Domingo furnished one hundred and thirty-one millions; the exports to the West Indies amounted to sixty-four millions, of which St. Domingo had forty-four millions. These exchanges were effected by five hundred and sixty-nine vessels carrying one hundered and sixty-two thousand tons, of which Bordeaux provided two hundred and forty-six vessels, carrying seventy-five thousand tons.—On the ruin of manufactures cf. the reports of préfets in the year X., with details from each department.—Arthur Young (ii., 444) states that the Revolution affected manufactures more seriously than any other branch of industry.
[17. ]Reports of préfets. (Orme, year IX.) “The purchasers have speculated on the profits for the time being, and have exhausted their resources. Many of them have destroyed all the plantations, all the enclosures and even the fruit trees.”—Felix Rocquain, ibid., 116. (Report by Fourcroy on Brittany.) “The condition of rural structures everywhere demands considerable capital. But no advances, based on any lasting state of things, can be made.”—Ibid., 236. (Report of Lacuée on the departments around Paris.) “The doubtful owners of national possessions cultivate badly and let things largely go to ruin.”
[18. ]Reports by préfets, years X. and XI. In general, the effect of the partition of communal possessions was disastrous, especially pasture and mountain grounds.—(Doubs.) “The partition of the communal property has contributed, in all the communes, rather to the complete ruin of the poor than to any amelioration of their fate.”—(Lozére.) “The partition of the communal property by the law of June 10, 1792, has proved very injurious to cultivation.” These partitions were numerous. (Moselle.) “Out of six hundred and eighty-six communes, one hundred and seven have divided per capitum, five hundred and seventy-nine by families, and one hundred and nineteen have remained intact.”
[19. ]Ibid. (Moselle.) Births largely increase in 1792. “But this is an exceptional year. All kinds of abuses, paper-money, the nonpayment of taxes and claims, the partition in the communes, the sale for nothing of national possessions, has spread so much comfort among the people that the poorer classes, who are the most numerous, have had no dread of increasing their families, to which they hope some day to leave their fields and render them happy.”
[20. ]Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” ii., 29. (February 1, 1794.) “The late crop in France was generally good, and, in some provinces, it was above the average. … I have seen the statements of two returns made from twenty-seven departments; they declare an excess of fifteen, twenty, thirty, and thirty-five thousand bushels of grain. There is no real dearth.”
[21. ]Schmidt, ibid., i., 110, and following pages.—Buchez et Roux, xx., 416. (Speeches of Lequinio, November 27, 1792.)—Moniteur, xvii., 2. (Letter by Clement, Puy-de-Dome, June 15, 1793.) “For the past fifteen days bread has been worth sixteen and eighteen sous the pound. There is the most frightful distress in our mountains. The government distributes one-eighth of a bushel to each person, everybody being obliged to wait two days to take his turn. One woman was smothered and several were wounded.”
[22. ]Cf. “La Revolution,” i., 208; ii., 294, 205, 230.—Buchez et Roux, xx., 431. (Report of Lecointe-Puyraveau, Nov. 30, 1792.) (Mobs of four, five, and six thousand men in the departments of Eure-et-Loire, Eure, Orme, Calvados, Indre-et-Loire, Loiret, and Sarthe cut down the prices of produce. The three delegates of the Convention disposed to interfere have their lives saved only on condition of announcing the rate dictated to them.—Ibid., 409. (Letter of Roland, Nov. 27, 1792.)—xxi., 198. (Another letter by Roland, Dec. 6, 1792.) “All convoys are stopped at Lissy, la Ferté, Milan, la Ferté-sous-Jouarre. … Carts loaded with wheat going to Paris have been forced to go back near Lonjumeau and near Meaux.”
[23. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 3,265. (Letter of David, cultivator, and administrator of the department of Seine-Inférieure, Oct. 11, 1792; letter of the special committee of Rouen, Oct. 22; letter of the delegates of the executive power, Oct. 20, etc.) “Reports from all quarters state that the farmers who drive to market are considered and treated in their parishes as aristocrats. … Each department keeps to itself: they mutually repel each other.”
[24. ]Buchez et Roux, xx., 409. (Letter of Roland, Nov. 27, 1792.) “The circulation of grain has for a long time encountered the greatest obstacles; scarcely a citizen now dares to do that business.”—Ibid., 417. (Speech by Lequinio.) “The monopoly of wheat by land-owners and farmers is almost universal. Fright is the cause of it. … And where does this fear come from? From the general agitation, and threats, with the bad treatment in many places of the farmers, land-owners, and traffickers in wheat known as bladiers.”—Decrees of Sep. 16, 1792, and May 4, 1793.
[25. ]Buchez et Roux, xix. (Report by Cambon, Sep. 22, 1792.) “The taxes no longer reach the public treasury, because they are used for purchasing grain in the departments.” Ibid., xix., 29. (Speech by Cambon, Oct. 12, 1792.) “You can bear witness in your departments to the sacrifices which well-to-do people have been obliged to make in helping the poor class. In many of the towns extra taxes have been laid for the purchase of grain and for a thousand other helpful measures.”
[26. ]Buchez et Roux, xx., 409. (Letter of Roland, Nov. 29, 1792.)—xxi., 199. (Deliberations of the provisional executive council, Sep. 3, 1792.)—Dauban, “La Demagogie en 1793,” p. 64. (Diary kept by Beaulieu.)—Ibid., 150.)
[27. ]Schmidt, i., 110–130.—Decrees against the export of coin or ingots, Sep. 5 and 15, 1792.—Decree on stocks or bonds payable to bearer, Aug. 14, 1792.
[28. ]It is probable that disinterested motives, pure love for one’s neighbor, for humanity, for country, do not form a hundredth part of the total energy that produces human activity. It must not be forgotten that the actions of men are alloyed with motives of a lower order, such as love of fame, the desire of self-admiration and of self-approval, fear of punishment and hope of reward beyond the grave, all of these being interested motives, and without which disinterested motives would be inoperative excepting in two or three souls among ten thousand.
[29. ]Archives Nationales, D., 55, I., file 2. (Letter by Joffroy, national agent in the district of Bar-sur-Aube, Germinal 5, year III.) “Most of the farmers, to escape the requisition, have sold their horses and replaced them with oxen.”—Memoirs (in ms.) of M. Dufort de Cheverney (communicated by M. Robert de Crêvecoeur). In June, 1793, “the requisitions fall like hail, every week, on wheat, hay, straw, oats, etc.,” all at prices fixed by the contractors, who make deductions, postpone and pay with difficulty. Then come requisitions for hogs. “This was depriving all the country folks of what they lived on.” As the requisitions called for live hogs, there was a hog St. Bartholomew. Everybody killed his pig and salted it down.” (Environs of Blois.) In relation to refusing to gather in crops, see further on.—Dauban, “Paris in 1794,” p. 229. (Ventose 24, general orders by Henriot.) “Citizen Guillon being on duty outside the walls, saw with sorrow that citizens were cutting their wheat to feed rabbits with.”
[30. ]Decree of Messidor 23, year II., on the consolidation with the national domain of the assets and liabilities of hospitals and other charitable institutions. (See reports of préfets on the effect of this law, on the ruin of the hospitals, on the misery of the sick, of foundlings, and the infirm, from years IX. to XIII.)—Decrees of August 8 and 12, 1793, and July 24, 1794, on academies and literary societies.—Decree of August 24, 1793, § 29, on the assets and liabilities of communes.
[31. ]Schmidt, i., 144. (Two billions September 27, 1793; one billion four hundred millions June 19, 1794.)—Decree of August 24, September 13, 1793, on the conversion of title-deeds and the formation of the Grand Ledger.—Decrees of July 31, August 30 and September 5, on calling in the assignats à face royale.—Decrees of August 1 and September 5, 1793, on the refusal to accept assignats at par.
[32. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 4,421. (Documents on the revolutionary taxes organised at Troyes, Brumaire 11, year II.) Three hundred and seventy-three persons are taxed, especially manufacturers, merchants, and land-owners; the minimum of the tax is one hundred francs, the maximum fifty thousand francs, the total being one million seven hundred and sixty-two thousand seven hundred francs. Seventy-six petitions attached to the papers show exactly the situation of things in relation to trade, manufactures, and property, the state of fortunes and credit of the upper and lower bourgeois class.
[33. ]Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” ii., 17. “I have seen the thirty-second list of emigrés at Marseilles, merely of those whose possessions have been confiscated and sold; there are twelve thousand of them, and the lists were not finished.”—Reports of préfets. (Var by Fanchet, year IX.) “The emigration of 1793 throws upon Leghorn and the whole Italian coast a very large number of Marseilles and Toulon traders. These men, generally industrious, have established (there) more than one hundred and sixty soap factories and opened a market for the oil of this region. This event may be likened to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.”—Cf. the reports on the departments of the Rhone, Aude, Lot, and Garonne, Lower Pyrenees, Orme, etc.
[34. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 332. (Letter of Désgranges, Bordeaux, Brumaire 12, year II.) “Nobody here talks about trade any more than if it had never existed.”
[35. ]Dr. Jaïn, “Choix de documents et lettres privées trouvées dans des papiers de famille,” p. 144. (Letter of Gédéon Jaïn, banker at Paris, November 18, 1793.) “Business carried on with difficulty and at a great risk occasion frequent and serious losses, credit and resources being almost nothing.”
[36. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 2,475. (Letters of Thullier, procureur-syndic of the Paris department, September 7 and 10, 1793.—Report by a member of the Piques section, September 8 and 10, 1793.—Cf. the petitions of traders and lawyers imprisoned at Troyes, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, etc.—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 271. Letter of Francastel: “At least three thousand monopolist aristocrats have been arrested at Nantes … and this is not the last purification.”
[37. ]Decrees of May 4, 15, 19, 20 and 23, and of August 30, 1793.—Decrees of July 26, August 15, September 11, 1793, and February 24, 1794.—Camille Boursier, “Essai sur la Terreur en Anjou,” p. 254. (Letter of Buissart to his friend Maximilian Robespierre, Arras, Pluviose 14, year II.) “We are dying with starvation in the midst of abundance; I think that the mercantile aristocracy ought to be killed out like the nobles and priests. The communes, under the favor of a storehouse of food and goods must alone be allowed to trade. This idea, well carried out, can be realised; then, the benefits of trade will turn to the advantage of the Republic, that is to say, to the advantage of buyer and seller.”
[38. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 49. (Documents on the levy of revolutionary taxes, Belfort, Brumaire 30, year II.) “Verneur, sr., taxed at ten thousand livres, for having withheld goods deposited with him by his sister, in order to save them from the coming taxation.” Campardon, i., 292. (Judgments of the revolutionary commission at Strasbourg.)—“The head-clerk in Hecht’s apothecary shop is accused of selling two ounces of rhubarb and manna at fifty-four sous; Hecht, the proprietor, is condemned to a fine of fifteen thousand livres. Madeleine Meyer, at Rosheim, a retailer, is accused of selling a candle for ten sous and is condemned to a fine of one thousand livres, payable in three days. Braun, butcher and bar-keeper, accused of having sold a glass of wine for twenty sous, is condemned to a fine of forty thousand francs, to be imprisoned until this is paid, and to exposure in the pillory before his own house for four hours, with this inscription: debaser of the national currency.”—“Recueil de Pieces, etc., at Strasbourg,” (supplement, pp. 21, 30, 64). “Marie Ursule Schnellen and Marie Schultzmann, servant, accused of monopolising milk. The former is sentenced to the pillory for one day under a placard, monopoliser of milk, and to hold in one hand the money and, in the other, the milk-pot; the other, a servant with citizen Benner … he, the said Benner, is sentenced to a fine of three hundred livres, payable in three days.” “Dorothy Franz, convicted of having sold two heads of salad at twenty sous, and of thus having depreciated the value of assignats, is sentenced to a fine of three thousand livres, imprisonment for six weeks and exposure in the pillory for two hours.”—Ibid., i., 18. “A grocer, accused of having sold sugar-candy at lower than the rate, although not comprised in the list, is sentenced to one hundred thousand livres fine and imprisonment until peace is declared.”—Orders by Saint-Just and Lebas, Nivose 3, year II. “The criminal court of the department of the Lower-Rhine is ordered to destroy the house of any one convicted of having made sales below the rates fixed by the maximum,” consequently, the house of one Schauer, a furrier, is torn down, Nivose 7.
[39. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 322. (Letter by Haupt, Belfort, Brumaire 3, year II.) “On my arrival here, I found the law of the maximum promulgated and in operation … (but) the necessary steps have not been taken to prevent a new monopoly by the rustics, who have flocked in to the shops of the dealers, carried off all their goods and created a factitious dearth.”
[40. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 4,421. (Petitions of merchants and shopkeepers at Troyes in relation to the revolutionary tax, especially of hatters, linen, cotton and woollen manufacturers, weavers, and grocers. There is generally a loss of one-half, and sometimes of three-fourths of the purchase money.)
[41. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 330. (Letter of Brutus, Marseilles, Nivose 6, year II.) “Since the maximum everything is wanting at Marseilles.”—Ibid. (Letter by Soligny and Gosse, Thionville, Nivose 5, year II.) “No peasant is willing to bring anything to market. … They go off six leagues to get a better price and thus the communes which they once supplied are famishing. … According as they are paid in specie or assignats the difference often amounts to two hundred per cent., and nearly always to one hundred per cent.”—“Un Séjour en France,” pp. 188–189.—Archives Nationales, D., § I., file 2. (Letter of Representative Albert, Germinal 19, year II., and of Joffroy, national agent, district of Bar-sur-l Aube, Germinal 5, year III. “The municipalities have always got themselves exempted from the requisitions, which all fall on the farmers and proprietors unable to satisfy them. … The allotment among the tax-payers is made with the most revolting inequality. … Partiality through connections of relatives and of friendship.”
[42. ]Decrees of September 29, 1793 (articles 8 and 9); of May 4 and 20, and June 26, 1794.—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 68–72. (Orders of the Committee of Public Safety, Prairial 26, year II.) “The horses and wagons of coal peddlers, the drivers accustomed to taking to Paris by law a portion of the supply of coal used in baking in the department of Seine-et-Marne, are drafted until the 1st of Brumaire next, for the transportation of coal to Paris. During this time they cannot be drafted for any other service.” (A good many orders in relation to subsistences and articles of prime necessity may be found in these files, mostly in the handwriting of Robert Lindet.)
[43. ]Cf. “The Revolution,” ii., 69.—Dauban, “Paris en 1794.” (Report by Pouvoyeur, March 15, 1794.) “A report has been long circulated that all the aged were to be slaughtered; there is not a place where this falsehood is not uttered.”
[44. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 4,435, file 10, letters of Collot d’Herbois, Brumaire 17 and 19, year II.—De Martel, “Fouché,” 340, 341. Letters of Collot d’Herbois, November 7 and 9, 1793.
[45. ]De Martel, ibid., 462. (Proclamation by Javogues, Pluviose 13, year II.)
[46. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 330. (Letter of Brutus, political agent, Nivose 6.)
[47. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 116. (Orders of Taillefer and Marat-Valette, and Deliberations of the Directory of Lot, Brumaire 20, year II.)
[48. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 331. (Letter of the agent Bertrand, Frimaire 3.)
[49. ]Ibid., vol. 1332. (Letter of the agent Chépy, Brumaire 2.)
[50. ]Ibid., vol. 1411. (Letter of Blessmann and Hauser, Brumaire 30.)—Ibid. (Letter of Haupt, Belfort, Brumaire 29.) “I believe that Marat’s advice should be followed here and a hundred scaffolds be erected; there are not guillotines enough to cut off the heads of the monopolists. I shall do what I can to have the pleasure of seeing one of these d—— b—— play hot cockles.”
[51. ]Ibid., vol. 333. (Letter of Garrigues, Pluviose 16.)
[52. ]“Souvenirs et Journal d’un Bourgeois d’Evreux,” pp. 83–85. (June and July 1794.)—Ibid., at Nantes.—Dauban, “Paris en 1794,” p. 194, March 4.
[53. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vols. 331 and 332. (Letters of Désgranges, Frimaire 3 and 8 and 10.) “Many of the peasants have eaten no bread for a fortnight. Most of them no longer work.” Buchez et Roux, xviii., 346. (Session of the Convention, Brumaire 14, speech by Legendre.)
[54. ]Moniteur, xix., 671. (Speech by Tallien, March 12, 1794.) Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 423. (Letter of Jullien, June 15, 1794.)
[55. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 111. (Letters of Michaud, Chateauroux, Pluviose 18 and 19, year II.)
[56. ]Dauban, “Paris en 1794,” 410, 492, 498. (Letters from the national agent of the district of Sancoins, Thermidor 9, year II.; from the Directory of Allier, Thermidor 9; from the national agent of the district of Villefort, Thermidor 9.)—Gouverneur Morris, April 10, 1794, says in a letter to Washington that the famine in many places is extremely severe. Men really die of starvation who have the means to buy bread if they could only get it.
[57. ]Volney, “Voyage en Orient,” ii., 344. “When Constantinople lacks food twenty provinces are starved for its supply.”
[58. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 46, 68. (Decree of Committee of Public Safety.) The Treasury pays over to the city of Paris for subsistence, on Aug. 1, 1793, two millions, August 14, three, and 27, one million; September 8, 16, and 13, one million each, and so on. One million each on Frimaire 10 and 17, two each on the 22d and 26th: Nivose 17, two and 26, two; Pluviose 5, two and 20, one; Ventose 7, one and 24, two; Germinal 7, two and 15, two. Between August 7, 1793 and Germinal 19, year II., the Treasury paid over to Paris, thirty-one millions.
[59. ]Ibid., AF., II., 68. Decrees of Brumaire 14, Nivose 7 and Germinal 22 on the departments assigned to the supply of Paris.—Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 489. (Speech by Danton in Jacobin club, Aug. 28, 1793.) “I constantly asserted that it was necessary to give all to the mayor of Paris if he exacted it to feed its inhabitants. … Let us sacrifice one hundred and ten millions and save Paris and through it, the Republic.”
[60. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vols. 1410 and 1411. Reports of June 20 and 21, 1793, July 21, 22, 28, 29 and 31, and every day of the months of August and September, 1793. Schmidt, “Tableaux de la Révolution Française,” vol. II., passim.—Dauban, “Paris in 1794” (especially throughout Ventose, year II.)—Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167. (Reports for Nivose, year II.)
[61. ]Dauban, “Paris en 1794,” 138. (Report of Ventose 2.)
[62. ]Mercier, “Paris Pendant la Révolution,” i., 355.
[63. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, 1411. (Reports of August 1 and 2, 1763.) “At one o’clock in the morning, we were surprised to find men and women lying along the sides of the houses patiently waiting for the shops to open.”—Dauban, 231. (Report of Ventose 24.) To obtain the lights of a hog, at the slaughter-house near the Jardin des Plantes, at the rate of three francs ten sous, instead of thirty sous as formerly, women “were lying on the ground with little baskets by their side and waiting four and five hours.”
[64. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167. (Reports of Nivose 9 and 28.) “The streets of Paris are always abominable; they are certainly afraid to use those brooms.” Dauban, 120. (Ventose 9.) “The rue St. Anne is blocked up with manure. In that part of it near the Rue Louvois, heaps of this stretch along the walls for the past fortnight.”
[65. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 1411. (Reports of August 9, 1793.)—Mercier, i., 353.—Dauban, 530. (Reports of Fructidor 27, year II.) “There are always great gatherings at the coal depots. They begin at midnight, one, two o’clock in the morning. Many of the habitués take advantage of the obscurity and commit all sorts of indecencies.”
[66. ]Schmidt, “Tableaux de la Révolution Française,” ii., 155. (Reports of Ventose 25.)—Dauban, 188. (Reports of Ventose 19.)—Ibid., 69. (Reports of Ventose 2.) Ibid., 126. (Reports of Ventose 10.)—Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167. (Reports of Nivose 28, year II.) The women “denounce the butchers and pork-sellers who pay no attention to the maximum law, giving only the poorest meat to the poor.”—Ibid. (Reports of Nivose 6.) “It is frightful to see what the butchers give the people.”
[67. ]Mercier, ibid., 363. “The women struggled with all their might against the men and contracted the habit of swearing. The last on the row knew how to worm themselves up to the head of it.”—Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 364. (“Journal de la Montague,” July 28, 1793.) “One citizen was killed on Sunday, July 21, one of the Gravilliers (club) in trying to hold on to a six-pound loaf of bread which he had just secured for himself and family. Another had a cut on his arm the same day in the Rue Froid-Manteau. A pregnant woman was wounded and her child died in her womb.”
[68. ]Dauban, 256. (Reports of Ventose 27.) Market of Faubourg St. Antoine. “On ne se f—— pas de coups de poing depuis deux on trois jours.”
[69. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 1410. (Reports of August 6 and 7, 1793.)
[70. ]Dauban, 144. (Reports of Ventose 19.)
[71. ]Dauban, 199. (Reports of Ventose 19.)—Dauban, “La Demagogie en 1793,” p. 470. “Scarcely had the peasants arrived when harpies in women’s clothes attacked them and carried off their goods. … Yesterday, a peasant was beaten for wanting to sell his food at the maximum rate.” (October 19, 1793.)—Dauban, “Paris en 1794,” 144, 173, 199. (Reports of Ventose 13, 17 and 19.)—Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 1410. (Reports of June 26 and 27, 1793.) Wagons and boats are pillaged for candles and soap.
[72. ]Dauban, 45. (Reports of Pluviose 17.)—222. (Reports of Ventose 23.)—160. (Reports of Ventose 15.)—340. (Reports of Germinal 28.)—87. (Reports of Ventose 5.)
[73. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 116. (Order of Paganel, Castres, Pluviose 6 and 7, year II. “The steps taken to obtain returns of food have not fulfilled the object. … The statements made are either false or inexact.”) Cf., for details, the correspondence of the other representatives on mission.—Dauban, “Paris en 1794,” 190. (Speech by Fouquier-Tinville in the Convention, Ventose 19.) “The mayor of Pont St. Maxence has dared to say that ‘when Paris sends us sugar we will then see about letting her have our eggs and butter.’ ”
[74. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 1411. (Reports of August 7 and 8, 1793.) “Seven thousand five hundred pounds of bread, about to be taken out, have been stopped at the barriers.”—Dauban, 45. (Orders of the day, Pluviose 17.) Lamps are set up at all the posts, “especially at la Grève and Passy, so as to light up the river and see that no eatables pass outside.”—Mercier, i., 355.—Dauban, 181. (Reports of Ventose 18.)—210. (Reports of Ventose 21.)—190. Speech by Fouquier, Ventose 19.) “The butchers in Paris who cannot sell above the maximum carry the meat they buy to the Sèvres butchers and sell it at any price they please.”—257. (Reports of Ventose 27.) “You see, about ten o’clock in the evening, aristocrats and other egoists coming to the dealers who supply Egalité’s mansion (the Duke of Orleans) and buy chickens and turkeys which they carefully conceal under their overcoats.”
[75. ]Dauban, 255. (Orders of the day by Henriot, Ventose 27.) “I have to request my brethren in arms not to take any rations whatever. This little deprivation will silence the malevolent who seek every opportunity to humble us.”—Ibid., 359. “On Floréal 29, between five and six o’clock in the morning, a patrol of about fifteen men of the Bonnet-Rouge section, commanded by a sort of commissary, stop subsistences on the Orleans road and take them to their section.”
[76. ]Dauban, 341. (Letter of the Commissioner on Subsistences, Germinal 23.) “The supplies are stolen under the people’s eyes, or what they get is of inferior quality.” The commissioner is surprised to find that, having provided so much, so little reaches the consumers.
[77. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 1411. (Reports of August 11–12 and 31, and Sept. 1, 1793.)—Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167. (Reports of Nivose 7 and 12, year II.)
[78. ]Dauban, “Paris en 1794,” 60, 68, 69, 71, 82, 93, 216, 231.—Schmidt, “Tableaux de Paris,” 187, 190.—Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167. (Report of Leharivel, Nivose 7.)—The gunsmiths employed by the government likewise state that they have for a long time had nothing to eat but bread and cheese.
[79. ]Dauban, 231. (Report of Perriére, Ventose 24.) “Butter of which they make a god.”
[80. ]Ibid., 68. (Report of Ventose 2.)
[81. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167, (Report of Nivose 28.)—Dauban, 144. (Report of Nivose 14.)
[82. ]Dauban, 81. (Report of Latour-Lamontagne, Ventose 4.)
[83. ]“Souvenirs et Journal d’un Bourgeois d’Evreux,” 83. “Friday, June 15, 1794, a proclamation is made that all who have any provisions in their houses, wheat, barley, rye, flour and even bread, must declare them within twenty-four hours under penalty of being regarded as an enemy of the country and declared ‘suspect,’ put under arrest and tried by the courts.”—Schmidt, “Tableaux de la Révolution Française,” ii., 214. A seizure is made at Passy of two pigs and forty pounds of butter, six bushels of beans, etc., in the domicile of citizen Lucet who had laid in supplies for sixteen persons of his own household.
[84. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 68. Orders of the Committee of Public Safety, Pluviose 23, referring to the law of Brumaire 25, forbidding the extraction of more than fifteen pounds of bran from a quintal of flour. Order directing the removal of bolters from bakeries and mills; he who keeps or conceals these on his property “shall be treated as ‘suspect’ and put under arrest until peace is declared.”—Berryat Saint-Prix, 357, 362. At Toulouse, three persons are condemned to death for monopoly. At Montpelier, a baker, two dealers and a merchant are guillotined for having invoiced, concealed and kept “a certain quantity of gingerbread cakes intended solely for consumption by antirevolutionists.”
[85. ]“Un Séjour en France” (April 22, 1794).
[86. ]Ludovic Sciout, iv., 236. (Proclamation of the representatives on mission in Finisterre.) “Magistrates of the people tell all farmers and owners of land that their crops belong to the nation and that they are simply its depositaries.”—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 92. (Orders by Bô, representative in Cautal, Pluviose 8.) “Whereas, as all citizens in a Republic form one family … all those who refuse to assist their brethren and neighbors under the specious pretext that they have not sufficient supplies must be regarded as ‘suspect’ citizens.”
[87. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 68. (Orders of the Committee of Public Safety, Prairial 28.) The maximum price is fourteen francs the quintal; after Messidor 30, it is not to be more than eleven francs.
[88. ]Ibid., AF., II., 116 and 106, orders of Paganel, Castres, Pluviose 6 and 7. Orders of Dartigoyte, Floréal 23, 25, and 29.
[89. ]Ibid., AF., II., 147. (Orders of Maignet, Avignon, Prairial 2.)
[90. ]Moniteur, xxiii., 397. (Speech by Dubois-Crancé, May 5, 1795.) “The Committee on Commerce (and Supplies) had thirty-five thousand employees in its service.”
[91. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 68. (Orders of the Committee of Public Safety, Prairial 28.)—Decree of Messidor 8, year II. “All kinds of grain and the hay of the present crop are required by the government.”—A new estimate is made, each farmer being obliged to state the amount of his crop; verification, confiscation in case of inaccurate declarations, and orders to thrash out the sheaves.—Dauban, 490. (Letter of the national agent of Villefort, Thermidor 19.) Calculations and the reasoning of farmers with a view to avoid sowing and planting: “Not so much on account of the lack of hands as not to ruin oneself by sowing and raising an expensive crop which, they say, affords them small returns when they sell their grain at so low a price.”—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 106. (Letter of the national agent in Gers and Haute-Garonne, Floréal 25.) “They say here, that as soon as the crop is gathered, all the grain will be taken away, without leaving anything to live on. It is stated that all salt provisions are going to be taken and the agriculturists reduced to the horrors of a famine.”
[92. ]Moniteur, xxii., 21. (Speech by Lindet, September 7, 1794.) “We have long feared that the ground would not be tilled, that the meadows would be covered with cattle while the proprietors and farmers were kept in prison.” Archives Nationales, D., § 1, No. I. (Letter from the district of Bar-sur-Seine, Ventose 14, year III.) “The maximum causes the concealment of grain. The quit-claims ruined the consumers and rendered them desperate. How many wretches, indeed, have been arrested, attacked, confiscated, fined, and ruined for having gone off fifteen or twenty leagues to get grain with which to feed their wives and children?”
[93. ]AF., II., 106. (Circular by Dartigoyte, Floréal 25.) “You must apply this rule, that is, make the municipal officers responsible for the noncultivation of the soil.” “If any citizen allows himself a different kind of bread, other than that which all the cultivators and laborers in the commune use, I shall have him brought before the courts conjointly with the municipality as being the first culprit guilty of having tolerated it. … Reduce, if necessary, three-fourths of the bread allowed to nonlaboring citizens because muscadins and muscadines have resources and, besides, lead an idle life.”
[94. ]AF., II., 111. (Letters of Ferry, Bourges, Messidor 23, to his “brethren in the popular club,” and “to the citoyennes (women) of Indre-et-Cher.”)
[95. ]Moniteur, xxi., 171. (Letter from Avignon, Messidor 9, and letter of the Jacobins of Arles.)
[96. ]Moniteur, xxi., 184. (Decree of Messidor 21.)
[97. ]Gouverneur Morris. (Correspondence with Washington. Letters of March 27 and April 10, 1794.) He says that there is no record of such an early spring. Rye has headed out and clover is in flower. It is astonishing to see apricots in April as large as pigeons’ eggs. In the south, where the dearth is most severe, he has good reason to believe that the ground is supplying the inhabitants with food. A frost like that of the year before in the month of May (1793) would help the famine more than all the armies and fleets in Europe.
[98. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 73. (Letter by the Directory of Calvados, Prairial 26, year III.) “We have not a grain of wheat in store, and the prisons are full of cultivators.”—Archives Nationales, D., § 1, file No. 3. (Warrants of arrest issued by Representative Albert, Pluviose 19, year III., Germinal 7 and 16.)—On the details of the difficulties and annoyances attending the requisitions, cf. this file and the five preceding or following files. (Letter of the National agent, district of Nogent-sur-Seine, Germinal 13.) “I have had summoned before the district court a great many cultivators and proprietors who are in arrears in furnishing the requisitions made on them by their respective municipalities. … A large majority declared that they were unable to furnish in full even if their seed were taken. The court ordered the confiscation of the said grain with a fine equal to the value of the quantity demanded of those called upon. … It is now my duty to execute the sentence. But, I must observe to you, that if you do not reduce the fine, many of them will be reduced to despair. Hence I await your answer so that I may act accordingly.”—(Another letter from the same agent, Germinal 9.) “It is impossible to supply the market of Villarceaux; seven communes under requisition prevented it through the district of Sozannes which constantly keeps an armed force there to carry grain away as soon as thrashed.”—It is interesting to remark the inquisitorial sentimentality of the official agents and the low stage of culture. (Procès-verbal of the Magincourt municipality, Ventose 7.) Of course I am obliged to correct the spelling so as to render it intelligible. “The said Croiset, gendarme, went with the national agent into the houses of citizens in arrears, of whom, amongst those in arrears, nobody refused but Jean Mauchin, whom we could not keep from talking against him, seeing that he is wholly egoist and only wants for himself. He declared to us that, if, the day before his harvesting he had any left, he would share it with the citizens that needed it. … Alas, yes, how could one refrain from shutting up such an egoist who wants only for himself to the detriment of his fellow-citizens? A proof of the truth is that he feeds in his house three dogs, at least one hundred and fifty chickens and even pigeons, which uses up a lot of grain, enough to hinder the satisfaction of all the requisitions. He might do without dogs, as his court is enclosed; he might likewise content himself with thirty chickens and then be able to satisfy the requisitions.” This document is signed “Bertrand, agen.” Mauchin, on the strength of it, is incarcerated at Troyes “at his own expense.”
[99. ]Ibid. Letter from the district of Bar-sur-Seine, Ventose 14, year III. Since the abolition of the maximum, “the inhabitants travel thirty and forty leagues to purchase wheat.”—(Letter from the municipality of Troyes, Ventose 15.) “According to the price of grain, which we keep on buying, by agreement, bread will cost fifteen sous (the pound) next decade.”
[100. ]Schmidt, “Parisir Zustande,” 145–220. The reopening of the Bourse, April 25, 1795; ibid., 322, ii., 105.—“Memoirs of Theobald Wolf,” vol. i., p. 200 (February 3, 1796). At Havre, the louis d’or is then worth five thousand francs, and the ecu of six francs in proportion. At Paris (February 12), the louis d’ or is worth six thousand five hundred: a dinner for two persons at the Palais Royal costs one thousand five hundred francs.—Mayer (“Frankreich in 1796.”) He gives a dinner for ten persons which costs three hundred thousand francs in assignats. At this rate a cab ride costs one thousand francs, and by the hour six thousand francs.
[101. ]“Correspondance de Mallet-Dupan avec la cour de Vienne,” i., 253 (July 18, 1795). “It is not the same now as in the early days of the Revolution, which then bore heavily only on certain classes of society; now, everybody feels the scourge, hourly, in every department of civil life. Goods and provisions advance daily (in price) in much greater proportion than the decline in assignats. … Paris is really a city of furnishing shops. … The immense competition for these objects raises all goods twenty-five per cent. a week. … It is the same with provisions. A sack of wheat weighing three quintals is now worth nine thousand francs, a pound of beef thirty-six francs, a pair of shoes one hundred francs. It is impossible for artisans to raise their wages proportionately with such a large and rapid increase.”—Cf. “Diary of Lord Malmesbury,” iii., 290 (October 27, 1796). After 1795, the gains of the peasants, land-owners, and producers are very large; from 1792 to 1796 they accumulate and hide away most of the current coin. They were courageous enough and smart enough to protect their hoard against the violence of the revolutionary government; “hence, at the time of the depreciation of assignats, they bought land extraordinarily cheap.” In 1796 they cultivate and produce largely.
[102. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 72. (Letter of the administrators of the district of Montpelier to the Convention, Messidor 26, year II.) “Your decree of Nivose 4 last, suppressed the maximum, which step, provoked by justice and the maximum, did not have the effect you anticipated.” The dearth ceases, but there is a prodigious increase in prices, the farmer selling his wheat at from four hundred and seventy to six hundred and seventy francs the quintal.
[103. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 71. (Deliberations of the commune of Champs, canton of Lagny, Prairial 22, year III. Letter of the procureur-syndic of Meaux, Messidor 3. Letter of the municipality of Rozoy, Seine-et-Marne, Messidor 4.)—Ibid., AF., II., 74. (Letter of the municipality of Emérainville, endorsed by the Directory of Meaux, Messidor 14.) “The commune can procure only oat-bread for its inhabitants, and, again, they have to go a long way to get this. This food, of so poor a quality, far from strengthening the citizen accustomed to agricultural labor, disheartens him and makes him ill, the result being that the hay cannot be got in in good time for lack of hands.”—At Champs, “the crop of hay is ready for mowing, but, for want of food, the laborers cannot do the work.”
[104. ]Ibid., AF., II., 73. (Letter from the Directory of the district of Dieppe, Prairial 22.)
[105. ]Ibid. (Letter of the administrators of the district of Louviers, Prairial 26.)
[106. ]Ibid. (Letter of the procureur-syndic of the Caen district, Caen, Messidor 23.—Letter of Representative Porcher to the Committee of Public Safety, Messidor 26.—Letter of the same, Prairial 24. “The condition of this department seemed to me frightful. … The privations of the department with respect to subsistence cannot be over-stated to you; the evil is at its height.”
[107. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 74. (Letter of the Beauvais administrators, Prairial 15.—Letter of the Bapaume administrator, Prairial 24.—Letter of the Vervier administrator, Messidor 7.—Letter of the commissary sent by the district of Laon, Messidor.)—Cf., ibid., letter from the Abbeville district, Prairial 11. “The quintal of wheat is sold at one thousand assignats, or rather, the farmers will not take assignats any more, grain not to be had for anything but coin, and, as most people have none to give they are hard-hearted enough to demand of one his clothes, and of another his furniture, etc.”
[108. ]Ibid., AF., II., 71. (Letter of the Rozoy municipality. Seine-et-Marne, Messidor 4, year III.) A bushel of wheat in the vicinity of Rozoy brings three hundred francs.
[109. ]Ibid., AF., II., 74. (Letter of the Montreuil-sur-Mer municipality, Prairial 29.)
[110. ]Ibid. (Letter of the Vervins administrators, Prairial 11, Letter of the commune of La Chapelle-sur-Somme, Prairial 24.)
[111. ]Ibid., AF., II., 70 (Letter of the procureur-syndic of the district of St. Germain, Thermidor 10.) This file, which depicts the situation of the communes around Paris, is specially heartrending and terrible. Among other instances of the misery of workmen the following petition of the men employed on the Marly water-works may be given, Messidor 28. “The workmen and employees on the machine at Marly beg leave to present to you the wretched state to which they are reduced by the dearness of provisions. Their moderate wages, which at the most have reached only five livres twelve sous, and again, for four months past, having received but two francs sixteen sous, no longer provide them with half-a-pound of bread, since it costs fifteen and sixteen francs per pound. We poor people have not been wanting in courage nor patience, hoping that times would mend. We have been reduced to selling most of our effects and to eating bread made of bran of which a sample is herewith sent, and which distresses us very much (nous incommode beaucoup); most of us are ill and those who are not so are in a very feeble state.”—Schmidt, “Tableaux de Paris,” Thermidor 9. “Peasants on the market square complain bitterly of being robbed in the fields and on the road, and even of having their sacks (of grain) plundered.”
[112. ]Archives Nationales, D., § 1, file 2. (Letter of the Ervy municipality, Floréal 17, year III.) “The indifference of the egoist farmers in the country is at its height; they pay no respect whatever to the laws, killing the poor by refusing to sell, or unwilling to sell their grain at a price they can pay.”—(It would be necessary to copy the whole of this file to show the alimentary state of the departments.)
[113. ]Ibid., AF., II., 74. (Letter of the district administrators of Bapaume, Prairial 24.—Letter of the municipality of Boulogne-sur-Mer, Prairial 24.)
[114. ]Ibid., AF., II., 73. (Letter of the municipality of Brionne, district of Bernay, Prairial 7.) The farmers do not bring in their wheat because they sell it elsewhere at the rate of fifteen hundred and two thousand francs the sack of three hundred and thirty pounds.
[115. ]Ibid., AF., II., 71. (Letter of the procureur-syndic of the district of Meaux, Messidor 2.) “Their fate is shared by many of the rural communes” and the whole district has been reduced to this dearth “to increase the resources of Paris and the armies.”
[116. ]Schmidt, “Tableaux de Paris.” (Reports of the Police, Pluviose 6, year III.)—Ibid., Germinal 16. “A letter from the department of Drome states that they are dying of hunger there, bread selling at three francs the pound.”
[117. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 70. (Deliberations of the Council-general of Franciade, Thermidor 9, year III.)
[118. ]Ibid. (Letter of the procureur-syndic of the district of St. Germain, Thermidor 10.)—Delécluze, “Souvenirs de Soixante Années,” p. 10. (The Delécluze family live in Mendon in 1794 and for most of 1795. M. Delécluze, senior, and his son go to Meaux and obtain of a farmer a bag of good flour weighing three hundred and twenty-five pounds for about ten louis d’or and fetch it home, taking the greatest pains to keep it concealed. Both father and son “after having covered the precious sack with hay and straw in the bottom of the cart, follow it on foot at some distance as the peasant drives along.” Madame Delécluze kneads the bread herself and bakes it.
[119. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 74. The following shows some of the municipal expenditures. (Deliberations of the commune of Annecy, Thermidor 8, year III.) “Amount received by the commune from the government, one million two hundred thousand francs. Fraternal subscriptions, four hundred thousand francs. Forced loan, two million four hundred thousand francs. Amount arising from grain granted by the government, but not paid for, four hundred thousand francs.” (Letter from the municipality of Lille, Fructidor 7.) “The deficit, at the time we took hold of the government, which, owing to the difference between the price of grain bought and the price obtained for bread distributed among the necessitous, had amounted to two million two hundred seventy thousand and twenty-three francs, so increased in Thermidor as to amount to eight million three hundred twelve thousand and nine hundred fifty-six francs.” Consequently, the towns ruin themselves with indebtedness to an incredible extent.—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 72. (Letter of the municipality of Tours, Vendémiaire 19, year IV.) Tours has not sufficient money with which to buy oil for its street-lamps and which are no longer lit at night. A decree is passed to enable the agent for subsistences at Paris to supply its commissaries with twenty quintals of oil which, for three hundred and forty lamps, keeps one hundred agoing up to Germinal 1. The same at Toulouse. (Report of Destrene, Moniteur, June 24, 1798.) On November 26, 1794, Bordeaux is unable to pay seventy-two francs for thirty barrels of water to wash the guillotine. (Granier de Cassagnac, i., 13. Extract from the archives of Bordeaux.) Bordeaux is authorised to sell one thousand casks of wine which had formerly been taken on requisition by the government, the town to pay for them at the rate at which the Republic bought them and to sell them as dear as possible in the way of regular trade. The proceeds are to be employed in providing subsistence for its inhabitants. (Archives Nationales, AF., II., 72, orders of Vendémiaire 4, year IV.)—As to aid furnished by the assignats granted to towns and departments cf. the same files; four hundred thousand francs to Poitiers, Pluviose 18, four millions to Lyons, Pluviose 17, three millions a month to Nantes, after Thermidor 14, ten millions to the department of Hérault in Frimaire and Pluviose, etc.
[120. ]Archives Nationales, II., § 1, file 2. (Deliberations of the Commune of Troyes, Ventose 15, year III.)—“Un Séjour en France.” (Amiens, May 9, 1795.) “As we had obtained a few six franc crowns and were able to get a small supply of wheat. … Mr. D—— and the servants eat bread made of three-fourths bran and one-fourth flour. … When we bake it we carefully close the doors, paying no attention to the door-bell, and allow no visitor to come in until every trace of the operation is gone. … The distribution now consists of a mixture of sprouted wheat, peas, rye, etc., which scarcely resembles bread.” (April 12.) “The distribution of bread (then) was a quarter of a pound a day. Many of those who in other respects were well-off, got nothing at all.”
[121. ]Ibid. (Letters of the municipality of Troyes, Ventose 15, year III., and Germinal 6.) Letter of the three deputies, sent by the municipality to Paris, Pluviose, year III. (no date.)
[122. ]“Un Séjour en France” (Amiens, Jan. 30, 1795.) Archives Nationales, AF., II., 74. (Deliberation of the Commune of Amiens, Thermidor 8, and Fructidor 7, year III.)
[123. ]“Souvenirs et Journal d’un Bourgeois d’Evreux,” p. 97. (The women stop carts loaded with wheat, keep them all night, stone and wound Representative Bersusès, and succeed in getting, each, eight pounds of wheat.)
[124. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 73. (Letter of the municipality of Dieppe, Prairial 22.)—AF., II., 74. (Letter of the municipality of Vervins, Messidor 7. Letter of the municipality of Lille, Fructidor 7.)
[125. ]“Correspondence de Mallet-Dupan avec la Cour de Vienne,” i., 90. Ibid., 131. One month later a quintal of flour at Lyons is worth two hundred francs and a pound of bread forty-five sous.
[126. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 13. (Letter of the deputies extraordinary of the three administrative bodies of Chartres, Thermidor 15: “In the name of this commune dying of hunger.”)—“The inhabitants of Chartres have not even been allowed to receive their rents in grain; all has been poured into the government storehouses.”
[127. ]Ibid. (Petition of the commune of La Rochelle, Fructidor 25, that of Painboeuf, Fructidor 9, that of the municipality of Nantes, Thermidor 14, that of Rouen, Fructidor 1.)—Ibid., AF., II., 72. (Letter of the commune of Bayonne, Fructidor 1.) “Penury of subsistences for more than two years. … The municipality, the past six months, is under the cruel necessity of reducing its subjects to half-a-pound of corn-bread per day … at the rate of twenty-five sous the pound, although the pound costs over five francs.” After the suppression of the maximum it loses about twenty-five thousand francs per day.
[128. ]Ibid. (Letter of Representative Porcher, Caen, Prairial 24, Messidor 3 and 26. Letter of the municipality of Caen, Messidor 3.)
[129. ]Ibid. AF., II., 71. (Letter of the municipality of Auxerre, Messidor 19.) “We have kept alive thus far through all sorts of expedients as if by miracle. It has required incalculable efforts, great expenditure, and really supernatural means to accomplish it. But there is still one month between this and the end of Thermidor. How are we going to live! Our people, the majority of whom are farmers and artisans, are rationed at half-a-pound a day for each person and this will last but ten or twelve days at most.”
[130. ]Meissner, “Voyage à Paris,” 339. “There was not a morsel of bread in our inn. I went myself to five or six bakeries and pastry shops and found them all stripped.” He finds in the last one about a dozen of small Savoy biscuits for which he pays fifteen francs.—See, for the military proceedings of the government in relation to bread, the orders of the Committee of Public Safety, most of them by the hand of Lindet, AF., II., 68–74.
[131. ]Schmidt, “Tableaux de Paris,” vols. ii. and iii., passim.
[132. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 68. (Orders of Ventose 20, year III.; Germinal 19 and 20; Messidor 8, etc.)
[133. ]Ibid. Orders of Nivose 5 and 22.
[134. ]Meal composed of every species of grain and bran.
[135. ]Ibid. Orders of Pluviose 19, Ventose 5, Floréal 4 and 24. (The fourteen brewers which the Republic keeps agoing for itself at Dunkirk are excepted.)—The proceedings are the same in relation to other necessary articles—returns demanded of nuts, rape-seed, and other seeds or fruits producing oil, also the hoofs of cattle and sheep, with requisitions for every other article entering into the manufacture of oil, and orders to keep oil-mills agoing. “All administrative bodies will see that the butchers remove the fat from their meat before offering it for sale, that they do not themselves make candles out of it, and that they do not sell it to soap-factories, etc.”—(Orders of Vendémiaire 28, year III.) “The executive committee will collect eight hundred yoke of oxen and distribute them among the dealers in hay in order to transport wood and coal from the woods and collieries to the yards. They will distribute proportionately eight hundred sets of wheels and harness. The wagoners will be paid and guarded the same as military convoys, and drafted as required. To feed the oxen, the district administrators will take by preemption the necessary fields and pasturages, etc.” (Orders of Pluviose 10, year III.)
[136. ]Moniteur, xxiv., 397.—Schmidt, “Tableaux de Paris.” (Reports of Frimaire 16, year IV.) “Citizens in the departments wonder how it is that Paris costs them five hundred and forty six millions per month merely for bread when they are starving. This isolation of Paris, for which all the benefits of the Revolution are exclusively reserved, has the worst effect on the public mind.”—Meissner, 345.
[137. ]Mercier, “Paris Pendant la Révolution,” i., 355–357.—Schmidt, “Pariser Zustande,” i., 224. (The Seine is frozen over on November 23 and January 23, the thermometer standing at sixteen degrees (Centigrade) below zero.)—Schmidt, “Tableaux de Paris.” (Reports of the Police, Pluviose 2, 3, and 4.)
[138. ]Schmidt, “Pariser Zustande,” i., 228, and following pages. (February 25, the distribution of bread is reduced to one and one-half pounds per person; March 17, to one and one-half pounds for workmen and one pound for others. Final reduction to one-quarter of a pound, March 31.)—Ibid., 251, for ulterior rates.—Dufort de Cheverney, (MS. Mémoires, August, 1795.) M. de Cheverney takes up his quarters at the old Louvre with his friend Sedaine. “I had assisted them with food all I could: they owned to me that, without this, they would have died of starvation notwithstanding their means.”
[139. ]Schmidt, “Tableaux de Paris.” (Reports of Germinal 15 and 27, and Messidor 28, year III., Brumaire 14 and Frimaire 23, year IV.)—Ibid. (Germinal 15, year III.) Butter is at eight francs the pound, eggs seven francs for four ounces.—Ibid. (Messidor 19), bread is at sixteen francs the pound (Messidor 28), butter at fourteen francs the pound (Brumaire 29), flour at fourteen thousand francs the bag of three hundred and twenty-five pounds.
[140. ]Ibid. (Report of Germinal 12, year III.) “The eating houses and pastry-cooks are better supplied than ever.”—“Mémoires (manuscript) of M. de Cheverney.” “My sister-in-law, with more than forty thousand livres income, registered in the ‘Grand Ledger,’ was reduced to cultivating her garden, assisted by her two chambermaids. M. de Richebourg, formerly intendant-general of the Post-Office, had to sell at one time a clock and at another time a wardrobe to live on. ‘My friends,’ he said to us one day, ‘I have been obliged to put my clock in the pot.’ ”—Schmidt. (Report of Frimaire 17, year IV.) “A frequenter of the Stock-Exchange sells a louis at five thousand francs. He dines for one thousand francs and loudly exclaims: ‘I have dined at four francs ten sous. They are really superb, these assignats! I couldn’t have dined so well formerly at twelve francs.’ ”
[141. ]Schmidt. (Reports of Frimaire 9, year IV.) “The reports depict to us the sad condition of those who, with small incomes and having sold their clothes, are selling their furniture, being, so to say, at their last piece; and, soon without anything, are reduced to the last extremity by committing suicide.”—Ibid., Frimaire 2, “The rentier is ruined, not being able to buy food. Employees are all in the same situation.”—Naturally, the condition of employees and rentiers grows worse with the depreciation of assignats. Here are house-keeping accounts at the end of 1795. (Letter of Beaumarchais’ sister Julie to his wife, December, 1794. “Beaumarchais et son temps,” by De Loménie, p. 486.) “When you gave me those four thousand francs (assignats), my dear friend, my heart went pit-a-pat. I thought that I should go crazy with such a fortune. I put them in my pocket at once and talked about other things so as to get the idea out of my mind. On returning to the house, get some wood and provisions as quick as possible before prices go higher! Dupont (the old domestic) started off and did his best. But the scales fell from my eyes on seeing the cost of food for a month—four thousand two hundred and seventy-five francs!
“When I think of this royal outlay, as you call it, which makes me spend from eighteen thousand to twenty thousand francs for nothing, I wish the devil had the system. … Ten thousand francs which I have scattered about the past fortnight, alarm and trouble me so much that I do not know how to calculate my income in this way. In three days the difference (in the value of assignats) has sent wood up from four thousand two hundred to six thousand five hundred francs, and extras in proportion, so that, as I wrote you, a load piled up and put away costs me seven thousand one hundred francs. Every week now, the pot-au-feu and other meats for ragouts, without any butter, eggs, and other details, cost from seven to eight hundred francs. Washing also goes up so fast that eight thousand francs do not suffice. All this puts me out of humor, while in all this expenditure I declare on my honor (je jure par la sainte vérité de mon coeur) that for two years I have indulged no fancy of my own or spent anything except on household expenses. Nevertheless, I have urgent need of some things for which I should require piles of assignats.”—We see by Beaumarchais’ correspondence that one of his friends travels around in the environs of Paris to find bread. “It is said here (he writes from Soizy, June 5, 1795) that flour may be had at Briare. If this were so I would bargain with a reliable man there to carry it to you by water-carriage between Briare and Paris. … In the mean time I do not despair of finding a loaf.”—Letter of a friend of Beaumarchais: “This letter costs you at least one hundred francs, including paper, pen, ink, and lamp-oil. For economy’s sake I write it in your house.”
[142. ]Cf. Schmidt, “Tableaux de Paris,” vols. ii. and iii. (Reports of the Police, at the dates designated.)
[143. ]Dauban, “Paris en 1794,” pp. 562, 568, 572.
[144. ]Mallet-Dupan, “Correspondance avec la cour de Vionne,” i., 254. (July 18, 1795.)
[145 ]Schmidt, ibid. (Report of Fructidor 3, year III.)
[146. ]Schmidt, ibid., vols. ii, and iii. (Reports of the police at the dates designated.)
[147. ]Meissner, “Voyage à Paris,” 132. Ibid., 104. “Bread is made with coarse, sticky black flour, because they put in potatoes, beans, Indian corn and millet, and moreover it is badly baked.”—Granier de Cassagnac, “Histoire du Directoire,” i., 51. (Letter of M. Andot to the author.) “There were three-quarter pound days, one-half pound, and one-quarter pound days and many at two ounces. I was a child of twelve and used to go and wait four hours in the morning in a line, rue de l’Ancienne Comédie. There was a fourth part of bran in the bread, which was very tender and very soft … and it contained one-fourth overplus of water. I brought back eight ounces of bread a day for the four persons in our household.”
[148. ]Dauban, 386.
[149. ]Schmidt, ibid. (Reports of Brumaire 24, and Frimaire 13, year IV.)
[150. ]This state of misery is prolonged far beyond this epoch in Paris and the provinces. Cf. Schmidt, “Tableaux de Paris,” vol. iii.—Felix Rocquain, “L’Etat de la France au 18e Brumaire,” p. 156. (Report by Fourcroy, Nivose 5, year IX.) Convoys of grain fail to reach Brest because the English are masters at sea, while the roads on land are impassable. “We are assured that the people of Brest have long been on half-rations and perhaps on quarter-rations.”
[151. ]It is difficult to arrive at even approximative figures, but the following statements will render the idea clear. 1. Wherever I have compared the mortality of the Revolution with that of the ancient régime I have found the former greater than the latter, even in those parts of France not devastated by the civil war; and the increase of this mortality is enormous, especially in years II. and III.—At Rheims, the average mortality from 1780 to 1789 is one thousand three hundred and fifty, which, for a population of thirty-two thousand five hundred and ninety-seven (1790), gives forty-one deaths per annum to every thousand inhabitants. In the year II., on thirty thousand seven hundred and three inhabitants there are one thousand eight hundred and fifty-six deaths, and in year III., one thousand eight hundred and thirty-six, which gives for each of the two years sixty-four deaths to every thousand persons; the increase is twenty-three deaths a year, that is to say more than one-half above the ordinary rate. (Statistics communicated by M. Jadart, archiviste at Rheims.)—At Limoges, the yearly average of mortality previous to 1789 was eight hundred and twenty-five to twenty thousand inhabitants, or at the rate of forty-one to a thousand. From January 1, 1792, to September 22, 1794, there are three thousand four hundred forty-nine deaths, that is to say, a yearly average of sixty-three deaths to one thousand inhabitants, that is to say, twenty-two extra per annum, while the mortality bears mostly on the poor, for out of two thousand and seventy-three persons who die between January 17, 1793, and September 22, 1794, over one-half, eleven hundred, die in the hospital.—(Louis Guibert, “Ancien registre des paroisses de Limoges,” pp. 40, 45, 47.)—At Poitiers, in year IX., the population is eighteen thousand two hundred and twenty-three, and the average mortality of the past ten years was seven hundred and twenty-four per annum. But in year II., there are two thousand and ninety-four deaths, and in year III. two thousand and thirty-two, largely in the hospitals; thus, even on comparing the average mortality of the ten years of the Revolution with the mortality of years II. and III., it has almost trebled the average rate.—The same applies to Loudens, where the average death-rate being one hundred and fifty-one, in year II., it rises to four hundred and twenty-five. Instead of the triple for Chatellerault, it is double, where, the average rate being two hundred and sixty-two, the death-rate rises to four hundred and eighty-two, principally in the military hospitals. (“Statistique de la Vienne,” by Cochan, préfet, year X.)—At Niort, population eleven thousand, the annual mortality of the ten years preceding 1793 averaged four hundred and twenty-three, or thirty-eight per thousand. In year II., there are one thousand eight hundred and seventy-two, or one hundred and seventy per thousand inhabitants, the number being more than quadrupled. In year III., there are eleven hundred and twenty-two deaths, or one hundred and two per thousand inhabitants, which is almost the triple. (“Statistique des Deux-Sèvres,” by Dupin, préfet, 2d memorial Thermidor, year IX.)—At Strasbourg (“Recueil des Pièces Authentiques,” etc., vol. i., p. 32. Declaration of the Municipality); “twice as many died last year (year II.) as during any of the preceding years.”—According to these figures and the details we have read, the annual mortality during years II. and III. and most of year IV., may be estimated as having increased one-half extra. Now, previous to 1789, according to Moheau and Necker (Peuchet, “Statistique élémentaire de la France,” 1805, p. 239), the yearly mortality in France was one person to every thirty, that is to say, eight hundred sixty-six thousand six hundred and sixty-six deaths to a population of twenty-six millions. One-half in addition to this for two and a half years gives, consequently, one million and eighty thousand deaths. 2. During the whole of the Directory episode, privation lasted and the rate of mortality rose very high, especially for sick children, the infirm and the aged, because the Convention had confiscated the possessions of the hospitals and public charity was almost null. For example, at Lyons, “The Asylums having been deprived of sisters of charity during years II., III., and IV., and most of year V., the children gathered into them could neither be fed nor suckled and the number that perished was frightful.” (“Statistique du Rhone,” by Vernier, préfet, year X.)—In Necker’s time, there were about eight hundred asylums, hospitals, and charitable institutions, with one hundred thousand or one hundred and ten thousand inmates. (Peuchet, ibid., 256.) For lack of care and food they die in myriads, especially foundlings, the number of which increases enormously: in 1790, the figures do not exceed twenty-three thousand; in year IX., the number surpasses sixty-two thousand (Peuchet, 260): “It is a ‘perfect deluge,’ ” say the reports; in the department of Aisne, there are one thousand and ninety-seven instead of four hundred; in that of Lot-et-Garonne, fifteen hundred (Statistiques des préfets de l’Aisne, Gers, Lot-et-Garonne), and they are born only to die; in that of Eure, after a few months, it is six out of seven; at Lyons, seven hundred and ninety-two out of eight hundred and twenty (Statistique des Préfets du Rhone et de l’Eure). At Marseilles, it is six hundred out of six hundred and eighteen; at Toulon, one hundred and one out of one hundred and four; in the average, nineteen out of twenty. (Rocquain, “Etat de France au 18e Brumaire,” p. 33. Report of François de Nantes.) At Troyes, out of one hundred and sixty-four brought in in year IV., one hundred and thirty-four die; out of one hundred and forty-seven received in year VII., one hundred and thirty-six die. (Albert Babeau, ii., 452.) At Paris, in year IV., out of three thousand one hundred and twenty-two infants received two thousand nine hundred and seven perish. (Moniteur, year V., No. 231.)—The sick perish the same. “At Toulon, only seven pounds of meat are given each day to eighty patients; I saw in the Civil Asylum,” says François de Nantes, “a woman who had just undergone a surgical operation to whom they gave for a restorative a dozen beans on a wooden platter.” (Ibid., 16, 31, and passim, especially for Bordeaux, Caen, Alençon, St. Lô, etc.)—As to beggars, these are innumerable: in year IX., it is estimated that there are three or four thousand by department, at least three hundred thousand in France. “In the four Brittany departments one can truly say that a third of the population live at the expense of the other two-thirds, either by stealing from them or through compelling assistance.” (Rocquain, preface, lxi., and “Report by Barbé-Marbois,” p. 93.)
[152. ]Lareveillère-Lepeaux, “Mémoires,” i., 248. (He belongs to the Committee and is an eye-witness.)