Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER I - The French Revolution, vol. 3
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
CHAPTER I - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
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.
[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.”