The Origins of Contemporary France, Volume 1 (of 6) - The Ancient Regime
by Hippolyte A. Taine
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Listen to the shouts that greet him: Hurrah for the author of the Henriade! the defender of Calas, the author of La Pucelle! Nobody of the present day would utter the first, nor especially the last hurrah. This indicates the tendency of the century; not only were writers called upon for ideas, but again for antagonistic ideas. To render an aristocracy inactive is to render it rebellious; people are more willing to submit to rules they have themselves helped to enforce. Would you rally them to the support of the government? Then let them take part in it. If not they stand by as an onlooker and see nothing but the mistakes it commits, feeling only its irritations, and disposed only to criticize and to hoot at it. In fact, in this case, they are as if in the theater, where they go to be amused, and, especially, not to be put to any inconvenience. What inconveniences in the established order of things, and indeed in any established order!—In the first place, religion. To the amiable "idlers" whom Voltaire describes,[4211] to "the 100,000 persons with nothing to do but to play and to amuse themselves," religion is the most disagreeable of pedagogues, always scolding, hostile to sensible amusement and free discussion, burning books which one wants to read, and imposing dogmas that are no longer comprehensible. In plain terms religion is an eyesore, and whoever wishes to throw stones at her is welcome.—There is another bond, the moral law of the sexes. It seems onerous to men of pleasure, to the companions of Richelieu, Lauzun and Tilly, to the heroes of Crebillon the younger, and all others belonging to that libertine and gallant society for whom license has become the rule. Our fine gentlemen are quite ready to adopt a theory which justifies their practices.[4212] They are very glad to be told that marriage is conventional and a thing of prejudice. Saint—Lambert obtains their applause at supper when, raising a glass of champagne, he proposes as a toast a return to nature and the customs of Tahiti[4213]. The last fetter of all is the government, the most galling, for it enforces the rest and keeps man down with its weight, along with the added weight of the others. It is absolute, it is centralized, it works through favorites, it is backward, it makes mistakes, it has reverses: how many causes of discontent embraced in a few words! It is opposed by the vague and suppressed resentment of the former powers which it has dispossessed, the provincial assemblies, the parliaments, the grandees of the provinces, the old stock of nobles, who, like the Mirabeau, retain the old feudal spirit, and like Chateaubriand's father, call the Abbe Raynal a "master-man." Against it is the spite of all those who imagine themselves frustrated in the distribution of offices and of favors, not only the provincial nobility who remain outside[4214] while the court nobility are feasting at the royal banquet, but again the majority of the courtiers who are obliged to be content with crumbs, while the little circle of intimate favorites swallow down the large morsels. It has against it the ill-humor of those under its direction who, seeing it play the part of Providence and providing for all, accuses it of everything, the high price of bread as well as of the decay of a highway. It has against it the new humanity which, in the most elegant drawing-rooms, lays to its charge the maintenance of the antiquated remains of a barbarous epoch, ill-imposed, ill-apportioned and ill-collected taxes, sanguinary laws, blind prosecutions, atrocious punishments, the persecution of the Protestants, lettres-de-cachet, and prisons of State. And I do not include its excesses, its scandals, its disasters and its disgraces,—Rosbach, the treaty of Paris, Madame du Barry, and bankruptcy.—Disgust intervenes, for everything is decidedly bad. The spectators of the play say to each other that not only is the piece itself poor, but the theater is badly built, uncomfortable, stifling and contracted, to such a degree that, to be at one's ease, the whole thing must be torn down and rebuilt from cellar to garret.

Just at this moment the new architects appear, with their specious arguments and their ready-made plans, proving that every great public structure, religious and moral, and all communities, cannot be otherwise than barbarous and unhealthy, since, thus far, they are built up out of bits and pieces, by degrees, and generally by fools and savages, in any event by common masons, who built aimlessly, feeling their way and devoid of principles. As far as they are concerned, they are genuine architects, and they have principles, that is to say, Reason, Nature, and the Rights of Man, straightforward and fruitful principles which everybody can understand, all that has to be done is to draw their consequences making it possible to replace the imperfect tenements of the past with the admirable edifice of the future.—To irreverent, Epicurean and philanthropic malcontents the temptation is a great one. They readily adopt maxims which seem in conformity with their secret wishes; at least they adopt them in theory and in words. The imposing terms of liberty, justice, public good, man's dignity, are so admirable, and besides so vague! What heart can refuse to cherish them, and what intelligence can foretell their innumerable applications? And all the more because, up to the last, the theory does not descend from the heights, being confined to abstractions, resembling an academic oration, constantly dealing with Natural Man (homme en soi) of the social contract, with an imaginary and perfect society. Is there a courtier at Versailles who would refuse to proclaim equality in the lands of the Franks!—Between the two stories of the human intellect, the upper where abstract reasoning is spun and the lower where an active faith reposes, communication is neither complete nor immediate. A number of principles never leave the upper stories; they remain there as curiosities, so many fragile, clever mechanisms, freely to be seen but rarely employed. If the proprietor sometimes transfers them to the lower story he makes but a partial use of them; established customs, anterior and more powerful interests and instincts restrict their employment. In this respect he is not acting in bad faith, but as a man; each of us professing truths which he does not put in practice. One evening Target, a dull lawyer, having taken a pinch from the snuff-box of the Marechale de Beauvau, the latter, whose drawing room is a small democratic club, is amazed at such monstrous familiarity. Later, Mirabeau, on returning home just after having voted for the abolition of the titles of nobility, takes his servant by the ear, laughingly proclaiming in his thunderous voice, "Look here, you rascal, I trust that to you I shall always be Monsieur le Comte!"—This shows to what extent new theories are admitted into an aristocratic brain. They occupy the whole of the upper story, and there, with a pleasing murmur, they weave the web of interminable conversation; their buzzing lasts throughout the century; never have the drawing-rooms seen such an outpouring of fine sentences and of fine words. Something of all this drops from the upper to the lower story, if only as dust, I mean to say, hope, faith in the future, belief in Reason, a love of truth, the generous and youthful good intentions, the enthusiasm that quickly passes but which may, for a while, become self-abnegation and devotion.

IV. Unbelief.

The diffusion among the upper class.—Progress of incredulity in religion.—Its causes.—It breaks out under the Regency.—Increasing irritation against the clergy.— Materialism in the drawing-room.—Estimate of the sciences.— Final opinion on religion.—Skepticism of the higher clergy.

Let us follow the progress of philosophy in the upper class. Religion is the first to receive the severest attacks. The small group of skeptics, which is hardly perceptible under Louis XIV, has obtained its recruits in the dark; in 1698 the Palatine, the mother of the Regent, writes that "we scarcely meet a young man now who is not ambitious of being an atheist."[4215] Under the Regency, unbelief comes out into open daylight. "I doubt," says this lady again, in 1722, "if; in all Paris, a hundred individuals can be found, either ecclesiastics or laymen, who have any true faith, or even believe in our Lord. It makes one tremble. . . ." The position of an ecclesiastic in society is already difficult. He is looked upon, apparently, as either a puppet or a dickey (a false shirt front)[4216]. "The moment we appear," says one of them, "we are forced into discussion; we are called upon to prove, for example, the utility of prayer to an unbeliever in God, and the necessity of fasting to a man who has all his life denied the immortality of the soul; the effort is very irksome, while those who laugh are not on our side." It is not long before the continued scandal of confession tickets and the stubbornness of the bishops in not allowing ecclesiastical property to be taxed, excites opinion against the clergy, and, as a matter of course, against religion itself. "There is danger," says Barbier in 1751, "that this may end seriously; we may some day see a revolution in this country in favor of Protestantism."[4217] "The hatred against the priests," writes d'Argenson in 1753, "is carried to extremes. They scarcely show themselves in the streets without being hooted at. . . .As our nation and our century are quite otherwise enlightened (than in the time of Luther), it will be carried far enough; they will expel the priests, abolish the priesthood and get rid of all revelation and all mystery. . . . One dare not speak in behalf of the clergy in social circles; one is scoffed at and regarded as a familiar of the inquisition. The priests remark that, this year, there is a diminution of more than one-third in the number of communicants. The College of the Jesuits is being deserted; one hundred and twenty boarders have been withdrawn from these so greatly defamed monks. It has been observed also that, during the carnival in Paris, the number of masks counterfeiting ecclesiastical dress, bishops, abbes, monks and nuns, was never so great."—So deep is this antipathy, the most mediocre books become the rage so long as they are anti-Christian and condemned as such. In 1748 a work by Toussaint called "Les Moeurs," in favor of natural religion, suddenly becomes so famous, "that there is no one among a certain class of people," writes Barbier, "man or woman, pretending to be intellectual, who is not eager to read it." People accost each other on their promenades, Have you read "Les Moeurs"?—Ten years later they are beyond deism. "Materialism," Barbier further said, "is the great grievance. . . . " "Almost all people of erudition and taste, writes d'Argenson, "inveigh against our holy religion. . . . It is attacked on all sides, and what animates unbelievers still more is the efforts made by the devout to compel belief. They publish books which are but little read; debates no longer take place, everything being laughed at, while people persist in materialism." Horace Walpole, who returns to France in 1765,[4218] and whose good sense anticipates the danger, is astonished at such imprudence: "I dined to day with a dozen scholars and scientists, and although all the servants were around us and listening, the conversation was much more unrestrained, even on the Old Testament, than I would allow at my own table in England even if a single footman was present." People dogmatize everywhere. "Joking is as much out of fashion as jumping jacks and tumblers. Our good folks have no time to laugh! There is God and the king to be hauled down first; and men and women, one and all, are devoutly employed in the demolition. They think me quite profane for having any belief left. . . . Do you know who the philosophers are, or what the term means here? In the first place it comprehends almost everybody; and in the next, means men, who, avowing war against popery, take aim, many of them, at a subversion of all religion. . . . These savants,—I beg their pardons, these philosophers—are insupportable, superficial, overbearing and fanatic: they preach incessantly, and their avowed doctrine is atheism; you would not believe how openly. Voltaire himself does not satisfy them. One of their lady devotees said of him, 'He is a bigot, a deist!'"

This is very strong, and yet we have not come to the end of it; for, thus far, impiety is less a conviction than the fashion. Walpole, a careful observer, is not deluded by it. "By what I have said of their religious or rather irreligious opinions, you must not conclude their people of quality atheists—at least not the men. Happily for them, poor souls! they are not capable of going so far into thinking. They assent to a great deal because it is the fashion, and because they don't know how to contradict." Now that "dandies are outmoded" and everybody is "a philosopher," "they are philosophers." It is essential to be like all the rest of the world. But that which they best appreciate in the new materialism is the pungency of paradox and the freedom given to pleasure. They are like the boys of good families, fond of playing tricks on their ecclesiastical preceptor. They take out of learned theories just what is wanted to make a dunce-cap, and derive the more amusement from the fun if it is seasoned with impiety. A seignior of the court having seen Doyen's picture of "St. Genevieve and the plague-stricken," sends to a painter the following day to come to him at his mistress's domicile: "I would like," he says to him, "to have Madame painted in a swing put in motion by a bishop; you may place me in such a way that I may see the ankles of that handsome woman, and even more, if you want to enliven your picture."[4219] The licentious song "Marotte" "spreads like wildfire;" "a fortnight after its publication," says Colle, "I met no one without a copy; and it is the vaudeville, or rather, the clerical assembly, which gives it its popularity." The more irreligious a licentious book is the more it is prized; when it cannot be printed it is copied in manuscript. Colle counts "perhaps two thousand manuscript copies of' La Pucelle 'by Voltaire, scattered about Paris in one month." The magistrates themselves burn it only for form's sake. "It must not be supposed that the hangman is allowed to burn the books whose titles figure in the decree of the Court. Messieurs would be loath to deprive their libraries of the copy of those works which fall to them by right, and make the registrar supply its place with a few poor records of chicanery of which there is no scanty provision."[4220]

But, as the century advances, unbelief, less noisy, becomes more solid. It invigorates itself at the fountain-head; the women themselves begin to be infatuated with the sciences. In 1782,[4221] one of Mme. de Genlis's characters writes,

Five years ago I left them thinking only of their attire and the preparation of their suppers; I now find them all scientific and witty." We find in the study of a fashionable woman, alongside of a small altar dedicated to Benevolence or Friendship, a dictionary of natural history and treatises on physics and chemistry. A woman no longer has herself painted as a goddess on a cloud but in a laboratory, seated amidst squares and telescopes[4222]. The Marquise de Nesle, the Comtesse de Brancas, the Comtesse de Pons, the Marquise de Polignac, are with Rouelle when he undertakes to melt and volatilize the diamond. Associations of twenty or twenty-five persons are formed in the drawing-rooms to attend lectures either on physics, applied chemistry, mineralogy or on botany. Fashionable women at the public meetings of the Academy of Inscriptions applaud dissertations on the bull Apis, and reports on the Egyptian, Phoenician and Greek languages. Finally, in 1786, they succeed in opening the doors of the College de France. Nothing deters them. Many of them use the lancet and even the scalpel; the Marquise de Voyer attends at dissections, and the young Comtesse de Coigny dissects with her own hands. The current infidelity finds fresh support on this foundation, which is that of the prevailing philosophy. Towards the end of the century[4223] "we see young persons who have been in society six or seven years openly pluming themselves on their irreligion, thinking that impiety makes up for wit, and that to be an atheist is to be a philosopher." There are, undoubtedly, a good many deists, especially after Rousseau appeared, but I question whether, out of a hundred persons, there were in Paris at this time ten Christian men or women. "The fashionable world for ten years past," says Mercier[4224] in 1783, "has not attended mass. People go only on Sundays so as not to scandalize their lackeys, while the lackeys well know that it is on their account." The Duc de Coigny,[4225] on his estate near Amiens, refuses to be prayed for and threatens his curate if he takes that liberty to have him cast out of his pulpit; his son becomes ill and he prohibits the administering of the sacraments; the son dies and he opposes the usual obsequies, burying the body in his garden; becoming ill himself he closes his door against the bishop of Amiens, who comes to see him twelve times, and dies as he had lived. A scandal of this kind is doubtless notorious and, therefore, rare. Almost everybody, male and female, "ally with freedom of ideas a proper observance of forms."[4226] When a maid appears and says to her mistress, "Madame la Duchesse, the Host (le bon Dieu) is outside, will you allow him to enter? He desires to have the honor of administering to you," appearances are kept up. The troublesome individual is admitted and he is politely received. If they slip away from him it is under a decent pretext; but if he is humored it is only out of a sense of decorum. "At Sura when a man dies, he holds a cow's tail in his hand." Society was never more detached from Christianity. In its eyes a positive religion is only a popular superstition, good enough for children and innocents but not for "sensible people" and the great. It is your duty to raise your hat to the Host as it passes, but your duty is only to raise your hat.

The last and gravest sign of all! If the curates who work and who are of the people hold the people's ideas, the prelates who talk, and who are of society hold the opinions of society. And I do not allude merely to the abbes of the drawing-room, the domestic courtiers, bearers of news, and writers of light verse, those who fawn in boudoirs, and who, when in company, answer like an echo, and who, between one drawing room and another, serve as megaphone; an echo, a megaphone only repeats the phrase, whether skeptical or not, with which it is charged. I refer to the dignitaries, and, on this point, the witnesses all concur. In the month of August, 1767, the Abbe Bassinet, grand vicar of Cahors, on pronouncing the panegyric of St. Louis in the Louvre chapel,[4227] "suppressed the sign of the cross, making no quotation from Scripture and never uttering a word about Christ and the Saints. He considered Louis IX merely on the side of his political, moral and military virtues. He animadverted on the Crusades, setting forth their absurdity, cruelty and even injustice. He struck openly and without caution at the see of Rome." Others "avoid the name of Christ in the pulpit and merely allude to him as a Christian legislator."[4228] In the code which the prevailing opinions and social decency impose on the clergy a delicate observer[4229] thus specifies distinctions in rank with their proper shades of behavior: "A plain priest, a curate, must have a little faith, otherwise he would be found a hypocrite; at the same time, he must not be too well satisfied, for he would be found intolerant. On the contrary, the grand vicar may smile at an expression against religion, the bishop may laugh outright, and the cardinal may add something of his own to it." "A little while ago," a chronicle narrates, "some one put this question to one of the most respectable curates in Paris: Do you think that the bishops who insist so strenuously on religion have much of it themselves? The worthy pastor replied, after a moment's hesitation: There may be four or five among them who still believe." To one who is familiar with their birth, their social relations, their habits and their tastes, this does not appear at all improbable. "Dom Collignon, a representative of the abbey of Mettach, seignior high-justiciary and curate of Valmunster," a fine-looking man, fine talker, and an agreeable housekeeper, avoids scandal by having his two mistresses at his table only with a select few; he is in other respects as little devout as possible, and much less so than the Savoyard vicar, "finding evil only in injustice and in a lack of charity," and considering religion merely as a political institution and for moral ends. I might cite many others, like M. de Grimaldi, the young and gallant bishop of Le Mans, who selects young and gallant comrades of his own station for his grand vicars, and who has a rendezvous for pretty women at his country seat at Coulans[4230]. Judge of their faith by their habits. In other cases we have no difficulty in determining. Scepticism is notorious with the Cardinal de Rohan, with M. de Brienne, archbishop of Sens, with M. de Talleyrand, bishop of Autun, and with the Abbe Maury, defender of the clergy. Rivarol,[4231] himself a skeptic, declares that at the approach of the Revolution, "the enlightenment of the clergy equaled that of the philosophers." "Who would believe it, but body with the fewest prejudices," says Mercier,[4232] "is the clergy." And the Archbishop of Narbonne, explaining the resistance of the upper class of the clergy in 1791 [4233] attributes it, not to faith but to a point of honor. "We conducted ourselves at that time like true gentlemen, for, with most of us, it could not be said that it was through religious feeling."

V. Political Opposition.

Progress of political opposition.—Its origin.—The economists and the parliamentarians.—They prepare the way for the philosophers.—Political fault-finding in the drawing-rooms.—Female liberalism.

The distance between the altar and the throne is a short one, and yet it requires thirty years for opinion to overcome it. No political or social attacks are yet made during the first half of the century. The irony of the "Lettres Persanes"is as cautious as it is delicate, and the "Esprit des Lois" is conservative. As to the Abbe de Saint-Pierre his reveries provoke a smile, and when he undertakes to censure Louis XIV the Academy strikes him off its list. At last, the economists on one side and the parliamentarians on the other, give the signal.—Voltaire says[4234] that "about 1750 the nation, satiated with verse, tragedies, comedies, novels, operas, romantic histories, and still more romantic moralizings, and with disputes about grace and convulsions, began to discuss the question of corn." What makes bread dear? Why is the laborer so miserable? What constitutes the material and limits of taxation? Ought not all land to pay taxes, and should one piece pay more than its net product? These are the questions that find their way into drawing-rooms under the king's auspices, by means of Quesnay, his physician, "his thinker," the founder of a system which aggrandizes the sovereign to relieve the people, and which multiplies the number of tax-payers to lighten the burden of taxation.—At the same time, through the opposite door, other questions enter, not less novel. "Is France[4235] a mild and representative monarchy or a government of the Turkish stamp? Are we subject to the will of an absolute master, or are we governed by a limited and regulated power?. . . The exiled parliaments are studying public rights at their sources and conferring together on these as in the academies. Through their researches, the opinion is gaining ground in the public mind that the nation is above the king, as the universal church is above the pope."—The change is striking and almost immediate. "Fifty years ago," says d'Argenson, again, "the public showed no curiosity concerning matters of the State. Today everybody reads his Gazette de Paris, even in the provinces. People reason at random on political subjects, but nevertheless they occupy themselves with them."—Conversation having once provided itself with this diet holds fast to it, the drawing-rooms, accordingly, opening their doors to political philosophy, and, consequently, to the Social Contract, to the Encyclopedia, to the preachings of Rousseau, Mably, d'Holbach, Raynal, and Diderot. In 1759, d'Argenson, who becomes excited, already thinks the last hour has come. "We feel the breath of a philosophical anti-monarchical, free government wind; the idea is current, and possibly this form of government, already in some minds, is to be carried out the first favorable opportunity. Perhaps the revolution might take place with less opposition than one supposes, occurring by acclamation.[4236]

The time is not yet come, but the seed is coming up. Bachaumont, in 1762, notices a deluge of pamphlets, tracts and political discussions, "a rage for arguing on financial and government matters." In 1765, Walpole states that the atheists, who then monopolize conversation, inveigh against kings as well as against priests. A formidable word, that of citizen, imported by Rousseau, has entered into common speech, and the matter is settled on the women adopting it as they would a cockade. "As a friend and a citoyenne could any news be more agreeable to me than that of peace and the health of my dear little one?"[4237] Another word, not less significant, that of energy, formerly ridiculous, becomes fashionable, and is used on every occasion[4238]. Along with language there is a change of sentiment, ladies of high rank passing over to the opposition. In 1771, says the scoffer Bezenval, after the exile of the Parliament "social meetings for pleasure or other purposes had become petty States-Generals in which the women, transformed into legislators, established the premises and confidently propounded maxims of public right." The Comtesse d'Egmont, a correspondent of the King of Sweden, sends him a paper on the fundamental law of France, favoring the Parliament, the last defender of national liberty, against the encroachments of Chancellor Maupeou. "The Chancellor," she says,[4239] "within the last six months has brought people to know the history of France who would have died without any knowledge of it. . . . I have no doubt, sire," she adds, "that you never will abuse the power an enraptured people have entrusted to you without limitation. . . . May your reign prove the epoch of the re-establishment of a free and independent government, but never the source of absolute authority." Numbers of women of the first rank, Mesdames de la Marck, de Boufflers, de Brienne, de Mesmes, de Luxembourg, de Croy, think and write in the same style. "Absolute power," says one of these, "is a mortal malady which, insensibly corrupting moral qualities, ends in the destruction of states. . . . The actions of sovereigns are subject to the censure of their subjects as to that of the universe. . . . France is undone if the present administration lasts."[4240]—When, under Louis XVI, a new administration proposes and withdraws feeble measures of reform, their criticism shows the same firmness: "Childishness, weakness, constant inconsistency," writes another,[4241] "incessant change; and always worse off than we were before. Monsieur and M. le Comte d'Artois have just made a journey through the provinces, but only as people of that kind travel, with a frightful expenditure and devastation along the whole road, coming back extraordinarily fat; Monsieur is as big as a hogshead; as to M. le Comte d'Artois he is bringing about order by the life he leads."—An inspiration of humanity animates these feminine breasts along with that of liberty. They interest themselves in the poor, in children, in the people; Madame d'Egmont recommends Gustavus III to plant Dalecarlia with potatoes. On the appearance of the engraving published for the benefit of Calas[4242] "all France and even all Europe, hastens to subscribe for it, the Empress of Russia giving 5,000 livres[4243]. "Agriculture, economy, reform, philosophy," writes Walpole, "are bon ton, even at the court."—President Dupaty having drawn up a memorandum in behalf of three innocent persons, sentenced "to be broken on the wheel, everybody in society is talking about it;" "idle conversation no longer prevails in society," says a correspondent of Gustavus III[4244] "since it is that which forms public opinion. Words have become actions. Every sensitive heart praises with joy a publication inspired by humanity and which appears full of talent because it is full of feeling." When Latude is released from the prison of Bicetre Mme. de Luxembourg, Mme. de Boufflers, and Mme. de Stael dine with the grocer-woman who "for three years and a half moved heaven and earth" to set the prisoner free. It is owing to the women, to their sensibility and zeal, to a conspiracy of their sympathies, that M. de Lally succeeds in the rehabilitation of his father. When they take a fancy to a person they become infatuated with him; Madame de Lauzun, very timid, goes so far as to publicly insult a man who speaks ill of M. Necker.—It must be borne in mind that, in this century, the women were queens, setting the fashion, giving the tone, leading in conversation and naturally shaping ideas and opinions[4245]. When they take the lead on the political field we may be sure that the men will follow them: each one carries her drawing room circle with her.

VI. Well-Meaning Government.

Infinite, vague aspirations.—Generosity of sentiments and of conduct.—The mildness and good intentions of the government.—Its blindness and optimism.

An aristocracy imbued with humanitarian and radical maxims, courtiers hostile to the court, privileged persons aiding in undermining privileges, presents to us a strange spectacle in the testimony of the time. A contemporary states that it is an accepted principle "to change and upset everything."[4246] High and low, in assemblages, in public places, only reformers and opposing parties are encountered among the privileged classes.

"In 1787, almost every prominent man of the peerage in the Parliament declared himself in favor of resistance. . . . I have seen at the dinners we then attended almost every idea put forward, which, soon afterwards, produced such startling effects."[4247] Already in 1774, M. de Vaublanc, on his way to Metz, finds a diligence containing an ecclesiastic and a count, a colonel in the hussars, talking political economy constantly[4248]. "It was the fashion of the day. Everybody was an economist. People conversed together only about philosophy, political economy and especially humanity, and the means for relieving the people, (le bon peuple), which two words were in everybody's mouth." To this must be added equality; Thomas, in a eulogy of Marshal Saxe says, "I cannot conceal it, he was of royal blood," and this phrase was admired. A few of the heads of old parliamentary or seigniorial families maintain the old patrician and monarchical standard, the new generation succumbing to novelty. "For ourselves," says one of them belonging to the youthful class of the nobility,[4249] "with no regret for the past or anxiety for the future, we marched gaily along over a carpet of flowers concealing an abyss. Mocking censors of antiquated ways, of the feudal pride of our fathers and of their sober etiquette, everything antique seemed to us annoying and ridiculous. The gravity of old doctrines oppressed us. The cheerful philosophy of Voltaire amused and took possession of us. Without fathoming that of graver writers we admired it for its stamp of fearlessness and resistance to arbitrary power. . . . Liberty, what-ever its language, delighted us with its spirit, and equality on account of its convenience. It is a pleasant thing to descend so long as one thinks one can ascend when one pleases; we were at once enjoying, without forethought, the advantages of the patriciate and the sweets of a commoner philosophy. Thus, although our privileges were at stake, and the remnants of our former supremacy were undermined under our feet, this little warfare gratified us. Inexperienced in the attack, we simply admired the spectacle. Combats with the pen and with words did not appear to us capable of damaging our existing superiority, which several centuries of possession had made us regard as impregnable. The forms of the edifice remaining intact, we could not see how it could be mined from within. We laughed at the serious alarm of the old court and of the clergy which thundered against the spirit of innovation. We applauded republican scenes in the theater,[4250] philosophic discourses in our Academies, the bold publications of the literary class."—If inequality still subsists in the distribution of offices and of places, "equality begins to reign in society. On many occasions literary titles obtain precedence over titles of nobility. Courtiers and servants of the passing fashion, paid their court to Marmontel, d'Alembert and Raynal. We frequently saw in company literary men of the second and third rank greeted and receiving attentions not extended to the nobles of the provinces. . . . Institutions remained monarchical, but manners and customs became republican. A word of praise from d'Alembert or Diderot was more esteemed than the most marked favor from a prince. . . It was impossible to pass an evening with d'Alembert, or at the Hotel de Larochefoucauld among the friends of Turgot, to attend a breakfast at the Abbe Raynal's, to be admitted into the society and family of M. de Malesherbes, and lastly, to approach a most amiable queen and a most upright king, without believing ourselves about to enter upon a kind of golden era of which preceding centuries afforded no idea. . . . We were bewildered by the prismatic hues of fresh ideas and doctrines, radiant with hopes, ardently aglow for every sort of reputation, enthusiastic for all talents and beguiled by every seductive dream of a philosophy that was about to secure the happiness of the human species. Far from foreseeing misfortune, excess, crime, the overthrow of thrones and of principles, the future disclosed to us only the benefits which humanity was to derive from the sovereignty of Reason. Freedom of the press and circulation was given to every reformative writing, to every project of innovation, to the most liberal ideas and to the boldest of systems. Everybody thought himself on the road to perfection without being under any embarrassment or fearing any kind of obstacle. We were proud of being Frenchmen and, yet again, Frenchmen of the eighteenth century . . . . Never was a more terrible awakening preceded by a sweeter slumber or by more seductive dreams."

They do not content themselves with dreams, with pure desires, with passive aspirations. They are active, and truly generous; a worthy cause suffices to secure their devotion. On the news of the American rebellion, the Marquis de Lafayette, leaving his young wife pregnant, escapes, braves the orders of the court, purchases a frigate, crosses the ocean and fights by the side of Washington. "The moment the quarrel was made known to me," he says, "my heart was enlisted in it, and my only thought was to rejoin my regiment." Numbers of gentlemen follow in his footsteps. They undoubtedly love danger; "the chance of being shot is too precious to be neglected."[4251] But the main thing is to emancipate the oppressed; "we showed ourselves philosophers by becoming paladins,"[4252] the chivalric sentiment enlisting in the service of liberty. Other services besides these, more sedentary and less brilliant, find no fewer zealots. The chief personages of the provinces in the provincial assemblies,[4253] the bishops, archbishops, abbes, dukes, counts, and marquises, with the wealthiest and best informed of the notables in the Third-Estate, in all about a thousand persons, in short the social elect, the entire upper class convoked by the king, organize the budget, defend the tax-payer against the fiscal authorities, arrange the land-registry, equalize the taille, provide a substitute for the corvee, provide public roads, multiply charitable asylums, educate agriculturists, proposing, encouraging and directing every species of reformatory movement. I have read through the twenty volumes of their proces-verbaux: no better citizens, no more conscientious men, no more devoted administrators can be found, none gratuitously taking so much trouble on themselves with no object but the public welfare. Never was an aristocracy so deserving of power at the moment of losing it; the privileged class, aroused from their indolence, were again becoming public men, and, restored to their functions, were returning to their duties. In 1778, in the first assembly of Berry, the Abbe de Seguiran, the reporter, has the courage to state that "the distribution of the taxes should be a fraternal partition of public obligations."[4254] In 1780 the abbes, priors and chapters of the same province contribute 60,000 livres of their funds, and a few gentlemen, in less than twenty-four hours, contribute 17,000 livres. In 1787, in the assembly of Alencon the nobility and the clergy tax themselves 30,000 livres to relieve the indigent in each parish subject to taxation[4255]. in the month of April, 1787, the king, in an assembly of the notables, speaks of "the eagerness with which archbishops and bishops come forward claiming no exemption in their contributions to the public revenue." In the month of March, 1789, on the opening of the bailiwick assemblies, the entire clergy, nearly all the nobility, in short, the whole body of the privileged class voluntarily renounce their privileges in relation to taxation. The sacrifice is voted unanimously; they themselves offer it to the Third-Estate, and it is worth while to see their generous and sympathetic tone in the manuscript proces-verbaux.

"The nobility of the bailiwick of Tours," says the Marquis de Lusignan,[4256] "considering that they are men and citizens before being nobles, can make amends in no way more in conformity with the spirit of justice and patriotism that animates the body, for the long silence to which it has been condemned by the abuse of ministerial power, than in declaring to their fellow-citizens that, in future, they will claim none of the pecuniary advantages secured to them by custom, and that they unanimously and solemnly bind themselves to bear equally, each in proportion to his fortune, all taxes and general contributions which the nation shall prescribe."

"I repeat," says the Comte de Buzancois at the meeting of the Third-Estate of Berry, "that we are all brothers, and that we are anxious to share your burdens. . . . We desire to have but one single voice go up to the assembly and thus manifest the union and harmony which should prevail there. I am directed to make the proposal to you to unite with you in one memorandum."

"These qualities are essential in a deputy," says the Marquis de Barbancon speaking for the nobles of Chateauroux, "integrity, firmness and knowledge; the first two are equally found among the deputies of the three orders; but knowledge will be more generally found in the Third-Estate, which is more accustomed to public affairs."

"A new order of things is unfolding before us," says the Abbe Legrand in the name of the clergy of Chateauroux; "the veil of prejudice is being torn away and giving place to Reason. She is possessing herself of all French hearts, attacking at the root whatever is based on former opinion and deriving her power only from herself."

Not only do the privileged classes make advances but it is no effort to them; they use the same language as the people of the Third-Estate; they are disciples of the same philosophers and seem to start from the same principles. The nobility of Clermont in Beauvoisis[4257] orders its deputies "to demand, first of all, an explicit declaration of the rights belonging to all men." The nobles of Mantes and Meulan affirm "that political principles are as absolute as moral principles, since both have reason for a common basis." The nobles of Rheims demand "that the king be entreated to order the demolition of the Bastille." Frequently, after such expressions and with such a yielding disposition, the delegates of the nobles and clergy are greeted in the assemblies of the 'Third-Estate with the clapping of hands, "tears" and enthusiasm. On witnessing such effusions how can one avoid believing in concord? And how can one foresee strife at the first turn of the road on which they have just fraternally entered hand in hand?

Wisdom of this melancholy stamp is not theirs. They set out with the principle that man, and especially the man of the people, is good; why conjecture that he may desire evil for those who wish him well? They are conscientious in their benevolence and sympathy for him. Not only do they utter these sentiments but they give them proof. "At this moment," says a contemporary,[4258] "the most active pity animates all breasts; the great dread of the opulent is to appear insensible." The archbishop of Paris, subsequently followed and stoned, is the donator of 100,000 crowns to the hospital of the Hotel-Dieu. The intendant Berthier, who is to be massacred, draws up the new assessment-roll of the Ile-de-France, equalizing the taille, which act allows him to abate the rate, at first, an eighth, and next, a quarter[4259]. The financier Beaujon constructs a hospital. Necker refuses the salary of his place and lends the treasury two millions to re-establish public credit. The Duc de Charost, from 1770[4260] down, abolishes seigniorial corvees on his domain and founds a hospital in his seigniory of Meillant. The Prince de Beaufremont, the presidents de Vezet, de Chamolles, de Chaillot, with many seigniors beside in Franche-Comte, follow the example of the king in emancipating their serfs[4261]. The bishop of Saint-Claude demands, in spite of his chapter, the enfranchisement of his mainmorts. The Marquis de Mirabeau establishes on his domain in Limousin a gratuitous bureau for the settlement of lawsuits, while daily, at Fleury, he causes nine hundred pounds of cheap bread to be made for the use of "the poor people, who fight to see who shall have it."[4262] M. de Barral, bishop of Castres, directs his curates to preach and to diffuse the cultivation of potatoes. The Marquis de Guerchy himself mounts on the top of a pile of hay with Arthur Young to learn how to construct a hay-stack. The Marquis de Lasteyrie imports lithography into France. A number of grand seigniors and prelates figure in the agricultural societies, compose or translate useful books, familiarize themselves with the applications of science, study political economy, inform themselves about industries, and interest themselves, either as amateurs or promoters, in every public amelioration. "Never," says Lacretelle again, "were the French so combined together to combat the evils to which nature makes us pay tribute, and those which in a thousand ways creep into all social institutions." Can it be admitted that so many good intentions thus operating together are to end in destruction?—All take courage, government as well as the higher class, in the thought of the good accomplished, or which they desire to accomplish. The king remembers that he has restored civil rights to the Protestants, abolished preliminary torture, suppressed the corvee in kind, established the free circulation of grains, instituted provincial assemblies, built up the marine, assisted the Americans, emancipated his own serfs, diminished the expenses of his household, employed Malesherbes, Turgot and Necker, given full play to the press, and listened to public opinion[4263]. No government displayed greater mildness; on the 14th of July, 1789, only seven prisoners were confined in the Bastille, of whom one was an idiot, another kept there by his family, and four under the charge of counterfeiting[4264]. No sovereign was more humane, more charitable, more preoccupied with the unfortunate. In 1784, the year of inundations and epidemics, he renders assistance to the amount of three millions. Appeals are made to him direct, even for personal accidents. On the 8th of June, 1785, he sends two hundred livres to the wife of a Breton laboring-man who, already having two children, brings three at once into the world[4265]. During a severe winter he allows the poor daily to invade his kitchen. It is quite probable that, next to Turgot, he is the man of his day who loved the people most.—His delegates under him conform to his views; I have read countless letters by intendants who try to appear as little Turgots. "One builds a hospital, another admits artisans at his table;"[4266] a certain individual undertakes the draining of a marsh. M. de la Tour, in Provence, is so beneficent during a period of forty years that the Tiers-Etat vote him a gold medal in spite of himself[4267]. A governor delivers a course of lectures on economical bread-making.—What possible danger is there for shepherds of this kind amidst their flocks? On the king convoking the States-General nobody had "any suspicion," nor fear of the future. "A new State constitution is spoken of as an easy performance, and as a matter of course."[4268]—"The best and most virtuous men see in this the beginning of a new era of happiness for France and for the whole civilized world. The ambitious rejoice in the broad field open to their desires. But it would have been impossible to find the most morose, the most timid, the most enthusiastic of men anticipating any one of the extraordinary events towards which the assembled states were drifting."



[Footnote 4201: Macaulay.]

[Footnote 4202: Stendhal, "Rome, Naples et Florence," 371.]

[Footnote 4203: Morellet, "Memoires," I. 139 (on the writings and conversations of Diderot, d,Holbach and the atheists). "At that time, in this philosophy, all seemed innocent enough, it being confined to the limits of speculation, and never seeking, even in its boldest flights, anything beyond a calm intellectual exercise."]

[Footnote 4204: "L'Homme aux quarante ecus." Cf. Voltaire, "Memoires," the suppers given by Frederick II. "Never in any place in the world was there greater freedom of conversation concerning the superstitions of mankind."]

[Footnote 4205: Morellet, "Memoires," I. 133.]

[Footnote 4206: Galiani, "Correspondance, passim."]

[Footnote 4207: Bachaumont, III. 93 (1766), II. 202 (1765).]

[Footnote 4208: Geffroy, "Gustave III.," I. 114.]

[Footnote 4209: Villemain, "Tableau de la Litterature au dix-huitieme siecle," IV. 409.]

[Footnote 4210: Grimm, "corresp. litteraire," IV. 176. De Segur, "Memoires," I. 113.]

[Footnote 4211: "Princesse de Babylone."—Cf. "le Mondain."]

[Footnote 4212: Here we may have an important motive for the socialist attitudes towards sexual morality as it was during the activie nineteen seventies until the unexpected appearance of AIDS put an abrupt end to the proceedings. (SR.)]

[Footnote 4213: Mme. d'Epinay, ed. Boiteau, I. 216: at a supper given by Mlle. Quinault, the comedian, at which are present Saint-Lambert, the Prince de. . . . , Duclos and Mme. d'Epinay.]

[Footnote 4214: For example, the father of Marmant, a military gentleman, who, having won the cross of St. Louis at twenty-eight, abandons the service because he finds that promotion is only for people of the court. In retirement on his estates he is a liberal, teaching his son to read the reports made by Necker. (Marshal Marmont, "Memoires," I. 9).]

[Footnote 4215: Aubertin, "L'Esprit public," in the 18th century, p. 7.]

[Footnote 4216: Montesquieu, "Lettres Persanes," (Letter 61).—Cf. Voltaire, ("Diner du Comte de Boulainvilliers").]

[Footnote 4217: Aubertin, pp. 281, 282, 285, 289.]

[Footnote 4218: Horace Walpole, "Letters and Correspondence," Sept. 27th, 1765, October 18th, 28th, and November 19th, 1766.]

[Footnote 4219: "Journal et Memoires de Colle," published by H. Bonhomme, II. 24 (October, 1755), and III.165 (October 1767).]

[Footnote 4220: "Corresp. litteraire," by Grimm (September, October, 1770).]

[Footnote 4221: Mme. De Genlis, "Adele et Theodore," I, 312.]

[Footnote 4222: De Goncourt, "La femme au dix-huitieme siecle," 371-373.—Bachaumont, I. 224 (April 13, 1763).]

[Footnote 4223: Mme. de Genlis, "Adele et Theodore," II. 326.]

[Footnote 4224: "Tableau de Paris," III.44.]

[Footnote 4225: Metra. "Correspondance secrete," XVII. 387 (March 7, 1785).]

[Footnote 4226: De Goncourt, ibid. 456.—Vicomtesse de Noailles, "Vie de la Princesse de Poix," formerly de Beauvau.]

[Footnote 4227: The Abbe de Latteignaut, canon of Rheims, the author of some light poetry and convivial songs, "has just composed for Nicolet's theater a parade in which the intrigue is supported by a good many broad jests, very much in the fashion at this time. The courtiers who give the tone to this theater think the canon of Rheims superb." (Bachaumont, IV. 174, November, 1768).]

[Footnote 4228: Bachaumont, III. 253.—Chateaubriand, "Memoires," I. 246.]

[Footnote 4229: Champfort, 279.]

[Footnote 4230: Merlin de Thionville, "Vie et correspondance," by Jean Raynaud. ("La Chartreuse du Val Saint-Pierre." Read the entire passage).—"Souvenirs Manuscrits," by M—..]

[Footnote 4231: Rivarol, "Memoires," I. 344.]

[Footnote 4232: Mercier, IV. 142. "In Auvergne, says M. de Montlosier, I formed for myself a society of priests, men of wit, some of whom were deists and others open atheists, with whom I carried on a contest with my brother." ("Memoires," I.37).]

[Footnote 4233: Lafayette. "Memoires," III. 58.]

[Footnote 4234: "Dict. Phil." article "Wheat."—The most important work of Quesnay is of the year 1758, "Tableau economique."]

[Footnote 4235: D'Argenson, "Memoires," IV. 141; VI. 320, 465; VII. 23; VIII. 153, (1752, 1753, 1754).—Rousseau's discourse on Inequality belongs also to 1753. On this steady march of opinion consult the excellent work of d'Aubertin, "L'Esprit public au dix-huitieme siecle."]

[Footnote 4236: This seems to be prophetic of the night of August 4, 1789.]

[Footnote 4237: "Corresp. de Laurette de Malboissiere," published by the Marquise de la Grange. (Sept. 4, 1762, November 8, 1762).]

[Footnote 4238: Madame du Deffant in a letter to Madame de Choiseul, (quoted by Geffroy), "Gustave et la cour de France," I. 279.]

[Footnote 4239: Geffroy, ibid. I. 232, 241, 245.]

[Footnote 4240: Geffroy, ibid. I.267, 281. See letters by Madame de Boufflers (October, 1772, July 1774).]

[Footnote 4241: Ibid.. I. 285. The letters of Mme. de la March (1776, 1777, 1779).]

[Footnote 4242: A victim of religious rancor against the protestants, whose cause, taken op by Voltaire, excited great indignation.—TR.]

[Footnote 4243: Bachaumont, III. 14 (March 28, 1766. Walpole, Oct. 6, 1775).]

[Footnote 4244: Geffloy, ibid. (A letter by Mme Stael, 5776).]

[Footnote 4245: Colle, "Journal," III. 437 (1770): "Women have got the upper hand with the French to such an extent, they have so subjugated them, that they neither feel nor think except as they do."]

[Footnote 4246: "Correspondance," by Metra, III. 200; IV. 131.]

[Footnote 4247: "Memoires du Chancelier Pasquier," Ed. Plon Paris 1893, Vol. I. page 26.]

[Footnote 4248: De Vaublanc, "Souvenirs," I. 117, 377.]

[Footnote 4249: De Segur, "Memoires," I. 17.]

[Footnote 4250: Ibid. I. 151. "I saw the entire Court at the theater in the chateau at Versailles enthusiastically applaud Voltaire's tragedy of 'Brutus,' and especially these lines:

Je suis fils de Brutus, et je porte en mon coeur La liberte gravee et les rois en horreur."]

[Footnote 4251: De Lauzun, 80 (in relation to his expedition into Corsica).]

[Footnote 4252: De Segur, I. 87.]

[Footnote 4253: The assemblies of Berry and Haute-Guyenne began in 1778 and 1779; those of other generalships in 1787. All functioned until 1789. (Cf. Leonce de Lavergne, "Les Assemblees provinciales").]

[Footnote 4254: Leonce de Lavergne, ibid. 26, 55, 183. The tax department of the provincial assembly of Tours likewise makes its demands on the privileged class in the matter of taxation.]

[Footnote 4255: Proces-verbaux of the prov. ass. of Normandy, the generalship of Alencon, 252.—Cf. Archives nationales, II, 1149: in 1778 in the generalship of Moulins, thirty-nine persons, mostly nobles, supply from their own funds 18,950 livres to the 60,000 livres allowed by the king for roads and asylums.]

[Footnote 4256: Archives nationales, proces-verbaux and registers of the States-General, vol. XLIX. p.712, 714 (the nobles and clergy of Dijon); vol. XVI. p. 183 (the nobles of Auxerre) vol. XXIX. pp.352, 455, 458 (the clergy and nobles of Berry); vol. CL. p.266 (the clergy and nobles of Tours); vol. XXIX; the clergy and nobles of Chateauroux, (January 29, 1789); pp. 572, 582. vol. XIII. 765 (the nobles of Autun).—See as a summary of the whole, the "Resume des Cahiers" by Prud'homme, 3 vols.]

[Footnote 4257: Prud'homme, ibid.. II. 39, 51, 59. De Lavergne, 384. In 1788, two hundred gentlemen of the first families of Dauphiny sign, conjointly with the clergy and the Third-Estate of the province, an address to the king in which occurs the following passage: "Neither time nor obligation legitimizes despotism; the rights of men derive from nature alone and are independent of their engagements."]

[Footnote 4258: Lacretelle, "Hist. de France au dix-huitieme siecle," V.2.]

[Footnote 4259: Proces-verbeaux of the prov. ass. of the Ile-de-France (1787), p.127.]

[Footnote 4260: De Lavergne, ibid.. 52, 369.]

[Footnote 4261: "Le cri de la raison," by Clerget, cure d'Onans (1789), p.258.]

[Footnote 4262: Lucas de Montigny, "Memoires de Mirabeau," I. 290, 368.—Theron de Montauge, "L'agriculture et les classes rurales dans le pays Toulousain," p. 14.]

[Footnote 4263: "Foreigners generally could scarcely form an idea of the power of public opinion at this time in France; they can with difficulty comprehend the nature of that invisible power which commands even in the king's palace." (Necker, 1784, quoted by De Tocqueville).]

[Footnote 4264: Granier de Cassagnac, II. 236.—M. de Malesherbes, according to custom, inspected the different state prisons, at the beginning of the reign of Louis XVI. "He told me himself that he had only released two." (Senac de Meilhan, "Du gouvemement, des moeurs, et des conditions en France.").]

[Footnote 4265: Archives nationales, II. 1418, 1149, F. 14, 2073. (Assistance rendered to various suffering provinces and places.)]

[Footnote 4266: Aubertin, p.484 (according to Bachaumont).]

[Footnote 4267: De Lavergne, 472.]

[Footnote 4268: Mathieu Dumas, "Memoires," I.426.—Sir Samuel Romilly, "Memoires," I. 99.—"Confidence increased even to extravagance," (Mme. de Genlis).—On the 29th June, 1789, Necker said at the council of the king at Marly, "What is more frivolous than the fears now entertained concerning the organization of the assembly of the States-General? No law can be passed without obtaining the king's assent" (De Barentin, "Memoires," p. 187).—Address of the National Assembly to its constituents, October 2, 1789. "A great revolution of which the idea should have appeared chimerical a few months since has been effected amongst us."]


I. The Past.

The former spirit of the Third-Estate.—Public matters concern the king only.—Limits of the Jansenist and parliamentarian opposition.

The new philosophy, confined to a select circle, had long served as a mere luxury for refined society. Merchants, manufacturers, shopkeepers, lawyers, attorneys, physicians, actors, professors, curates, every description of functionary, employee and clerk, the entire middle class, had been absorbed with its own cares. The horizon of each was limited, being that of the profession or occupation which each exercised, that of the corporation in which each one was comprised, of the town in which each one was born, and, at the utmost, that of the province which each one inhabited[4301]. A dearth of ideas coupled with conscious diffidence restrained the bourgeois within his hereditary barriers. His eyes seldom chanced to wander outside of them into the forbidden and dangerous territory of state affairs; hardly was a furtive and rare glance bestowed on any of the public acts, on the matters which "belonged to the king." There was no critical irritability then, except with the bar, the compulsory satellite of the Parliament, and borne along in its orbit. In 1718, after a session of the royal court (lit de justice), the lawyers of Paris being on a strike the Regent exclaims angrily and with astonishment, "What! those fellows meddling too!"[4302] It must be stated furthermore that many kept themselves in the background. "My father and myself," afterwards writes the advocate Barbier, "took no part in the uproars, among those caustic and turbulent spirits." and he adds this significant article of faith: "I believe that one has to fulfill his duties honorably, without concerning oneself with state affairs, in which one has no mission and exercises no power." During the first half of the eighteenth century I am able to discover but one center of opposition in the Third-Estate, the Parliament; and around it, feeding the flame, the ancient Gallican or Jansenist spirit. "The good city of Paris," writes Barbier in 1733, "is Jansenist from top to bottom," and not alone the magistrates, the lawyers, the professors, the best among the bourgeoisie, "but again the mass of the Parisians, men, women and children, all upholding that doctrine, without comprehending it, or understanding any of its distinctions and interpretations, out of hatred to Rome and the Jesuits. Women, the silliest, and even chambermaids, would be hacked to pieces for it. . ." This party is increased by the honest folks of the kingdom who detest persecutions and injustice. Accordingly, when the various chambers of magistrates, in conjunction with the lawyers, tender their resignations and file out of the palace "amidst a countless multitude, the crowd exclaims: Behold the true Romans, the fathers of the country! and as the two counselors Pucelle and Menguy pass along they fling them crowns." The quarrel between the Parliament and the Court, constantly revived, is one of the sparks which provokes the grand final explosion, while the Jansenist embers, smoldering in the ashes, are to be of use in 1791 when the ecclesiastical edifice comes to be attacked. But, within this old chimney-corner only warm embers are now found, firebrands covered up, sometimes scattering sparks and flames, but in themselves and by themselves, not incendiary; the flame is kept within bounds by its nature, and its supplies limit its heat. The Jansenist is too good a Christian not to respect powers inaugurated from above. The parliamentarian, conservative through his profession, would be horrified at overthrowing the established order of things. Both combat for tradition and against innovation; hence, after having defended the past against arbitrary power they are to defend it against revolutionary violence, and to fall, the one into impotency and the other into oblivion.


Change in the condition of the bourgeois.—He becomes wealthy.—He makes loans to the State.—The danger of his creditorship.—He interests himself in public matters.

The uprising is, however, late to catch on among the middle class, and, before it can take hold, the resistant material must gradually be made inflammable.—In the eighteenth century a great change takes place in the condition of the Third-Estate. The bourgeois has worked, manufactured, traded, earned and saved money, and has daily become richer and richer.[4303] This great expansion of enterprises, of trade, of speculation and of fortunes dates from Law;[4304] arrested by war it reappears with more vigor and more animation at each interval of peace after the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, and that of Paris in 1763, and especially after the beginning of the reign of Louis XVI. The exports of France which amounted to

106 millions in 1720

124 millions in 1735

192 millions in 1748

257 millions in 1755

309 millions in 1776

354 millions in 1788.

In 1786 Saint Domingo alone ships back to France for 131 millions of its products, and in return receives 44 millions in merchandise. As a result of these exchanges we see, at Nantes, and at Bordeaux, the creation of colossal commercial houses. "I consider Bordeaux, says Arthur Young, as richer and doing more business than any city in England except London; . . . of late years the progress of maritime commerce has been more rapid in France than even in England."[4305] According to an administrator of the day, if the taxes on the consumption of products daily increase the revenue, this is because the industry since 1774 has developed a number of new products[4306]. And this progress is regular and constant. "We may calculate," says Necker in 1781, "on an increase of two millions a year on all the duties on consumption."—In this great exertion of innovation, labor and engineering, Paris, constantly growing, is the central workshop. It enjoys, to a much greater extent than today, the monopoly of all works of intelligence and taste, books, pictures, engravings, statues, jewelry, toilet details, carriages, furniture, articles of fashion and rarity, whatever affords pleasure and ornamentation for an elegant worldly society; all Europe is supplied by it. In 1774 its trade in books is estimated at 45 millions, and that of London at only one-quarter of that sum[4307]. Upon the profits many immense and even more numerous moderate fortunes were built up, and these now became available for investment.—In fact, we see the noblest hands stretching out to receive them, princes of the blood, provincial assemblies, assemblies of the clergy, and, at the head of all, the king, who, the most needy, borrows at ten percent and is always in search of additional lenders. Already under Fleury, the debt has augmented to 18 millions in interests, and during the Seven years' War, to 34 millions. Under Louis XVI., M. Necker borrows a capital of 530 millions; M. Joly de Fleury, 300 millions; M. de Calonne, 800 millions; in all 1630 millions over a period of ten years. The interest of the public debt, only 45 millions in 1755, reaches 106 millions in 1776 and amounts to 206 millions in 1789[4308]. What creditors which these few figures tell us about! As the Third-Estate, it must be noted, is the sole class making and saving money, nearly all these creditors belong it. Thousands of others must be added to these. In the first place, the financiers who make advances to the government, advances that are indispensable, because, from time immemorial, it has eaten its corn on the blade, so the present year is always gnawing into the product of coming years; there are 80 millions of advances in 1759, and 170 millions in 1783. In the second place there are so many suppliers, large and small, who, on all parts of the territory, keep accounts with the government for their supplies and for public works, a veritable army and increasing daily, since the government, impelled by centralization, takes sole responsibility for all ventures, and, requested by public opinion, it increases the number of undertakings useful to the public. Under Louis XV. the State builds six thousand leagues of roads, and under Louis XVI. in 1788, to guard against famine, it purchases grain to the amount of forty millions.

Through this increase of activity and its demands for capital the State becomes the universal debtor; henceforth public affairs are no longer exclusively the king's business. His creditors become uneasy at his expenditures; for it is their money he wastes, and, if he proves a bad administrator, they will be ruined. They want to know something of his budget, to examine his books: a lender always has the right to look after his securities. We accordingly see the bourgeois raising his head and beginning to pay close attention to the great machine whose performances, hitherto concealed from vulgar eyes, have, up to the present time, been kept a state secret. He becomes a politician, and, at the same time, discontented. For it cannot be denied that these matters, in which he is interested, are badly conducted. Any young man of good family managing affairs in the same way would be checked. The expenses of the administration of the State are always in excess of the revenue[4309]. According to official admissions[4310] the annual deficit amounted to 70 in 1770, and 80 millions in 1783; when one has attempted to reduce this it has been through bankruptcies; one to the tune of two milliards at the end of the reign of Louis XIV, and another almost equal to it in the time of Law, and another on from a third to a half of all the interests in the time of Terray, without mentioning suppressions in detail, reductions, indefinite delays in payment, and other violent and fraudulent means which a powerful debtor employs with impunity against a feeble creditor. "Fifty-six violations of public faith have occurred from Henry IV down to the ministry of M. de Lomenie inclusive,"[4311] while a last bankruptcy, more frightful than the others, loom up on the horizon. Several persons, Bezenval and Linguet for instance, earnestly recommend it as a necessary and salutary amputation. Not only are there precedents for this, and in this respect the government will do no more than follow its own example, but such is its daily practice, since it lives only from day to day, by dint of expedients and delays, digging one hole to stop up another, and escaping failure only through the forced patience which it imposes on its creditors. With it, says a contemporary, people were never sure of anything, being always obliged to wait[4312]. "Were their capital invested in its loans, they could never rely on a fixed date for the payment of interest. Did they build ships, repair highways, or the soldiers clothed, they had no guarantees for their advances, no certificates of repayment, being reduced to calculate the chances involved in a ministerial contract as they would the risks of a bold speculation." It pays if it can and only when it can, even the members of the household, the purveyors of the table and the personal attendants of the king. In 1753 the domestics of Louis XV had received nothing for three years. We have seen how his grooms went out to beg during the night in the streets of Versailles; how his purveyors "hid themselves;" how, under Louis XVI in 1778, there were 792,620 francs due to the wine-merchant, and 3,467,980 francs to the purveyor of fish and meat[4313]. In 1788, so great is the distress, the Minister de Lomenie appropriates and expends the funds of a private subscription raised for a hospital, and, at the time of his resignation, the treasury is empty, save 450,000 francs, half of which he puts in his pocket. What an administration!—In the presence of this debtor, evidently becoming insolvent, all people, far and near, interested in his business, consult together with alarm, and debtors are innumerable, consisting of bankers, merchants, manufacturers, employees, lenders of every kind and degree, and, in the front rank, the capitalists, who have put all their means for life into his hands, and who are to beg should he not pay them annually the 44 millions he owes them; the industrialists and traders who have entrusted their commercial integrity to him and who would shrink with horror from failure as its issue; and after these come their creditors, their clerks, their relations, in short, the largest portion of the laboring and peaceable class which, thus far, had obeyed without a murmur and never dreamed of bringing the established order of things under its control. Henceforth this class will exercise control attentively, distrustfully and angrily. Woe to those who are at fault, for they well know that the ruin of the State is their ruin.

III. Social Promotion.

He rises on the social ladder.—The noble draws near to him. —He becomes cultivated.—He enters into society.—He regards himself as the equal of the noble.—Privileges an annoyance.

Meanwhile this class has climbed up the social ladder, and, through its elite, rejoined those in the highest position. Formerly between Dorante and M. Jourdain, between Don Juan and M. Dimanche,[4314] between M. Sotenville himself and Georges Dandin, the distance was vast; everything was different—dress, house, habits, characters, points of honor, ideas and language. On the one hand the nobles are drawn nearer to the Third-Estate and, on the other, the Third-Estate is drawn nearer to the nobles, actual equality having preceded equality as a right.—On the approach of the year 1789 it was difficult to distinguish one from the other in the street. The sword is no longer worn by gentlemen in the city; they have abandoned embroideries and laces, and walk about in plain frock-coats, or drive themselves in their cabriolets[4315]. "The simplicity of English customs," and the customs of the Third-Estate seem to them better adapted to ordinary life. Their prominence proves irksome to them and they grow weary of being always on parade. Henceforth they accept familiarity that they may enjoy freedom of action, and are content "to mingle with their fellow-citizens without obstacle or ostentation.——"It is certainly a grave sign, and the old feudal spirits have reason to tremble. The Marquis de Mirabeau, on learning that his son wishes to act as his own lawyer, consoles himself by seeing others, of still higher rank, do much worse[4316].

"As it was difficult to accept the idea that the grandson of my father, whom we just had seen pass by on the promenade, everybody, young and old, raising their hats to him from afar, would soon be seen at the bar of a lower tribunal, there to contest minor legal matters with pettifoggers; but I said to myself, however, that Louis XIV would be still more astonished had he seen the wife of his grand-successor dressed in a peasant's frock and apron, with no attendants, not a page or any one else, running about the palace and the terraces, requesting the first scamp in a frock-coat she encountered to give her his hand, which he simply does, all the way down to the foot of the steps."

But the leveling of manners and appearances of life reflected, indeed, only an equalization of minds and tempers. The antique scenery being torn away indicates the disappearance of the sentiments to which it belonged. It indicated gravity, dignity, custom of self-control and of exposed, in authority and command. It was the rigid and sumptuous parade of a social corps of staff-officers. At this time the parade is discontinued because the corps has been dissolved. If the nobles dress like the bourgeoisie it is owing to their having become bourgeois, that is to say, idlers retired from business, with nothing to do but to talk and amuse themselves.—Undoubtedly they amuse themselves and converse like people of refinement; but it is not very difficult to equal them in this respect. Now that the Third-Estate has acquired its wealth a good many commoners have become people of society. The successors of Samuel Bernard are no longer so many Turcarets, but Paris-Duverneys, Saint-Jameses, Labordes, refined men, people of culture and of feeling, possessing tact, literary and philosophical attainments, benevolent, giving parties and knowing how to entertain[4317]. With them, slightly different, we find the same company as with a grand lord, the same ideas and the same tone. Their sons, messieurs de Villemer, de Francueil, d'Epinay, throw money out of the window with as much elegance as the young dukes with whom they sup. A parvenu with money and intellect soon learns the ropes, and his son, if not himself, is initiated: a few years' exercises in an academy, a dancing-master, and one of the four thousand public offices which confer nobility, supply him with the deficient appearances. Now, in these times, as soon as one knows how to conform to the laws of good-breeding, how to bow and how to converse, one possesses a patent for admission everywhere. An Englishman[4318] remarks that one of the first expressions employed in praise of a man is, "he has a very graceful address." The Marechale de Luxembourg, so high-spirited, always selects Laharpe as her cavalier, because "he offers his arm so well."—The commoner not only enters the drawing-room, if he is fitted for it, but he stands foremost in it if he has any talent. The first place in conversation, and even in public consideration, is for Voltaire, the son of a notary, for Diderot, the son of a cutler, for Rousseau, the son of a watchmaker, for d'Alembert, a foundling brought up by a glazier; and, after the great men have disappeared, and no writers of the second grade are left, the leading duchesses are still content to have the seats at their tables occupied by Champfort, another foundling, Beaumarchais, the son of another watchmaker, Laharpe, supported and raised on charity, Marmontel, the son of a village tailor, and may others of less note, in short, every parvenu possessing wit.

The nobility, to perfect their own accomplishments, borrow their pens and aspire to their successes. "We have recovered from those old Gothic and absurd prejudices against literary culture," says the Prince de Henin;[4319] "as for myself I would compose a comedy to-morrow if I had the talent, and if I happened to be made a little angry, I would perform in it." And, in fact, "the Vicomte de Segur, son of the minister of war, plays the part of the lover in 'Nina' on Mlle. de Guimard's stage with the actors of the Italian Comedy."[4320] One of Mme. de Genlis's personages, returning to Paris after five years' absence, says that "he left men wholly devoted to play, hunting, and their small houses, and he finds them all turned authors."[4321] They hawk about their tragedies, comedies, novels, eclogues, dissertations and treatises of all kinds from one drawing room to another. They strive to get their pieces played; they previously submit them to the judgment of actors; they solicit a word of praise from the Mercure; they read fables at the sittings of the Academy. They become involved in the bickering, in the vainglory, in the pettiness of literary life, and still worse, of the life of the stage, inasmuch as they are themselves performers and play in company with real actors in hundreds of private theaters. Add to this, if you please, other petty amateur talents such as sketching in water-colors, writing songs, and playing the flute.—After this amalgamation of classes and this transfer of parts what remains of the superiority of the nobles? By what special merit, through what recognized capacity are they to secure respect of a member of the Third-Estate? Outside of fashionable elegance and a few points of breeding, in what respect they differ from him? What superior education, what familiarity with affairs, what experience with government, what political instruction, what local ascendancy, what moral authority can be alleged to sanction their pretensions to the highest places?—In the way of practice, the Third-Estate already does the work, providing the qualified men, the intendants, the ministerial head-clerks, the lay and ecclesiastical administrators, the competent laborers of all kinds and degrees. Call to mind the Marquis of whom we have just spoken, a former captain in the French guards, a man of feeling and of loyalty, admitting at the elections of 1789 that "the knowledge essential to a deputy would most generally be found in the Third-Estate, the mind there being accustomed to business."—In the way of theory: the commoner is as well-informed as the noble, and he thinks he is still better informed, because, having read the same books and arrived at the same principles, he does not, like him, stop half-way on the road to their consequences, but plunges headlong to the very depths of the doctrine, convinced that his logic is clairvoyance and that he is more enlightened because he is the least prejudiced.—Consider the young men who, about twenty years of age in 1780, born in industrious families, accustomed to effort and able to work twelve hours a day, a Barnave, a Carnot, a Roederer, a Merlin de Thionville, a Robespierre, an energetic stock, feeling their strength, criticizing their rivals, aware of their weakness, comparing their own application and education to their levity and incompetence, and, at the moment when youthful ambition stirs within them, seeing themselves excluded in advance from any superior position, consigned for life to subaltern employment, and subjected in every career to the precedence of superiors who they hardly recognize as their equals. At the artillery examinations where Cherin, the genealogist, refuses commoners, and where the Abbe Bosen, a mathematician, rejects the ignorant, it is discovered that capacity is wanting among the noble pupils and nobility among the capable pupils,[4322] the two qualities of gentility and intelligence seeming to exclude each other, as there are but four or five out of a hundred pupils who combine the two conditions. Now, as society at this time is mixed, such tests are frequent and easy. Whether lawyer, physician, or man of letters, a member of the Third-Estate with whom a duke converses familiarly, who sits in a diligence alongside of a count-colonel of hussars,[4323] can appreciate his companion or his interlocutor, weigh his ideas, test his merit and esteem him at his correct value, and I am sure that he does not overrate him.—Now that the nobles have lost their special capacities and the Third-Estate have acquired general competence, and as they are on the same level in education and competence, the inequality which separates them has become offensive because it has become useless. Nobility being instituted by custom is no longer sanctified by conscience; the Third-Estate being justly excited against privileges that have no justification, whether in the capacity of the noble or in the incapacity of the bourgeois.

IV. Rousseau's Philosophy Spreads And Takes HOLD.

Philosophy in the minds thus fitted for it.—That of Rousseau prominent.—This philosophy in harmony with new necessities.—It is adopted by the Third-Estate.

Distrust and anger against a government putting all fortunes at risk, rancor and hostility against a nobility barring all roads to popular advancement, are, then, the sentiments developing themselves among the middle class solely due to their advance in wealth and culture.—We can imagine the effect of the new philosophy upon people with such attitudes. At first, confined to the aristocratic reservoir, the doctrine filters out through numerous cracks like so many trickling streams, to scatter imperceptibly among the lower class. Already, in 1727, Barbier, a bourgeois of the old school and having little knowledge of philosophy and philosophers except the name, writes in his journal:

"A hundred poor families are deprived of the annuities on which they supported themselves, acquired with bonds for which the capital is obliterated; 56,000 livres are given in pensions to people who have held the best offices, where they have amassed considerable property, always at the expense of the people, and all this merely that they may rest themselves and do nothing."[4324]

One by one, reformative ideas penetrate to his office of consulting advocate; conversation has sufficed to propagate them, homely common sense needing no philosophy to secure their recognition.

"The tax on property," said he, in 1750, "should be proportioned and equally distributed among all the king's subjects and the members of the government, in proportion to the property each really possesses in the kingdom; in England, the lands of the nobility, the clergy and the Third-Estate pay alike without distinction, and nothing is more just."

In the six years which follow the flood increases. People denounce the government in the cafes, on their promenades, while the police dare not arrest malcontents "because they would have to arrest everybody." The disaffection goes on increasing up to the end of the reign. In 1744, says the bookseller Hardy, during the king's illness at Metz, private individuals cause six thousand masses to be said for his recovery and pay for them at the sacristy of Notre Dame; in 1757, after Damiens's attempt on the king's life, the number of masses demanded is only six hundred; in 1774, during the malady which carries him off, the number falls down to three. The complete discredit of the government, the immense success of Rousseau, these two events, occurring simultaneously, afford a date for the conversion of the Third-Estate to philosophy[4325]. A traveler, at the beginning of the reign of Louis XVI, who returns home after some years' absence, on being asked what change he noticed in the nation, replied, "Nothing, except that what used to be talked about in the drawing-rooms is repeated in the streets."[4326] And that which is repeated in the streets is Rousseau's doctrine, the Discourse on Inequality, the Social Contract amplified, popularized and repeated by adherents in every possible way and in all their forms. What could be more fascinating for the man of the Third-Estate? Not only is this theory in vogue, and encountered by him at the decisive moment when, for the first time, he turns his attention to general principles, but again it provides him with arms against social inequality and political absolutism, and much sharper than he needs. To people disposed to put restraints on power and to abolish privileges, what guide is more sympathetic than the writer of genius, the powerful logician, the impassioned orator, who establishes natural law, who repudiates historic law, who proclaims the equality of men, who contends for the sovereignty of the people, who denounces on every page the usurpation, the vices, the worthlessness, the malefactions of the great and of kings! And I omit the points by which he makes acceptable to a rigid and laborious bourgeoisie, to the new men that are working and advancing themselves, his steady earnestness, his harsh and bitter tone, his eulogy of simple habits, of domestic virtues, of personal merit, of virile energy, the commoner addressing commoners. It is not surprising that they should accept him as a guide and welcome his doctrines with that fervor of faith called enthusiasm, and which invariably accompanies the newborn idea as well as the first love.

A competent judge, and an eye-witness, Mallet du Pan,[4327] writes in 1799:

"Rousseau had a hundred times more readers among the middle and lower classes than Voltaire. He alone inoculated the French with the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people and with its extremist consequences. It would be difficult to cite a single revolutionary who was not transported over these anarchical theories, and who did not burn with ardor to realize them. That Contrat Social, the disintegrator of societies, was the Koran of the pretentious talkers of 1789, of the Jacobins of 1790, of the republicans of 1791, and of the most atrocious of the madmen. . . . I heard Marat in 1788 read and comment on the Contrat Social in the public streets to the applause of an enthusiastic auditory."

The same year, in an immense throng filling the great hall of the Palais de Justice, Lacretelle hears that same book quoted, its dogmas put forward by the clerks of la Bazoche, "by members of the bar,[4328] by young lawyers, by the ordinary lettered classes swarming with new-fledged specialist in public law." Hundreds of details show us that it is in every hand like a catechism. In 1784[4329] certain magistrates' sons, on taking their first lesson in jurisprudence of an assistant professor, M. Saveste, have the "Contrat Social" placed in their hands as a manual. Those who find this new political geometry too difficult learn at least its axioms, and if these repel them they discover at least their palpable consequences, so many handy comparisons, the trifling common practice in the literature in vogue, whether drama, history, or romance[4330]. Through the "Eloges" by Thomas, the pastorals of Bernadin de Saint-Pierre, the compilation of Raynal, the comedies of Beaumarchais and even the "Young Anarcharsis" and the literature of the resuscitated Greek and Roman antiquity, the dogmas of equality and liberty infiltrate and penetrate the class able to read[4331]. "A few days ago," says Metra,[4332] "a dinner of forty ecclesiastics from the country took place at the house of curate of Orangis, five leagues from Paris. At the dessert, and in the truth which came out over their wine, they all admitted that they came to Paris to see the 'Marriage of Figaro.'. . Up to the present time it seems as if comic authors intended to make sport for the great at the expense of the little, but here, on the contrary, it is the little who laugh at the expense of the great." Hence the success of the piece.—Hence a steward of a chateau has found a Raynal in the library, the furious declamation of which so delights him that he can repeat it thirty years later without stumbling, or a sergeant in the French guards embroiders waistcoats during the night to earn the money with which to purchase the latest books.—After the gallant picture of the boudoir comes the austere and patriotic picture; "Belisarious" and the "Horatii" of David reflect the new attitude both of the public and of the studios[4333] The spirit is that of Rousseau, "the republican spirit;"[4334] the entire middle class, artists, employees, curates, physicians, attorneys, advocates, the lettered and the journalists, all are won over to it; and it is fed by the worst as well as the best passions, ambition, envy, desire for freedom, zeal for the public welfare and the consciousness of right.

V. Revolutionary Passions.

Its effects therein.—The formation of revolutionary passions.—Leveling instincts.—The craving for dominion.— The Third-Estate decides and constitutes the nation.— Chimeras, ignorance, exaltation.

All these passions intensify each other. There is nothing like a wrong to quicken the sentiment of justice. There is nothing like the sentiment of justice to quicken the injury proceeding from a wrong[4335]. The Third-Estate, considering itself deprived of the place to which it is entitled, finds itself uncomfortable in the place it occupies and, accordingly, suffers through a thousand petty grievances it would not, formerly, have noticed. On discovering that he is a citizen a man is irritated at being treated as a subject, no one accepting an inferior position alongside of one of whom he believes himself the equal. Hence, during a period of twenty years, the ancient regime while attempting to grow easier, appear to be still more burdensome, and its pinpricks exasperate as if they were so many wounds. Countless instances might be quoted instead of one.—At the theater in Grenoble, Barnave,[4336] a child, is with his mother in a box which the Duc de Tonnerre, governor of the province, had assigned to one of his satellites. The manager of the theater, and next an officer of the guard, request Madame Barnave to withdraw. She refuses, whereupon the governor orders four fusiliers to force her out. The audience in the stalls had already taken the matter up, and violence was feared, when M. Barnave, advised of the affront, entered and led his wife away, exclaiming aloud, "I leave by order of the governor." The indignant public, all the bourgeoisie, agreed among themselves not to enter the theater again without an apology being made; the theater, in fact, remaining empty several months, until Madame Barnave consented to reappear there. This outrage afterwards recurred to the future deputy, and he then swore "to elevate the caste to which he belonged out of the humiliation to which it seemed condemned." In like manner Lacroix, the future member of the Convention,[4337] on leaving a theater, and jostled by a gentleman who was giving his arm to a lady, utters a loud complaint. "Who are you?" says the person. Still the provincial, he is simple enough to give his name, surname, and qualifications in full. "Very well," says the other man, "good for you—I am the Comte de Chabannes, and I am in a hurry," saying which, "laughing heartily," he jumps into his vehicle. "Ah, sir, exclaimed Lacroix, still much excited by his misadventure, "pride and prejudice establish an awful gulf between man and man!" We may rest assured that, with Marat, a veterinary surgeon in the Comte d'Artois's stables, with Robespierre, a protege of the bishop of Arras, with Danton, an insignificant lawyer in Mery-sur-Seine, and with many others beside, self-esteem, in frequent encounters, bled in the same fashion. The concentrated bitterness with which Madame Roland's memoirs are imbued has no other cause. "She could not forgive society[4338] for the inferior position she had so long occupied in it."[4339] Thanks to Rousseau, vanity, so natural to man, and especially sensitive with a Frenchman, becomes still more sensitive. The slightest discrimination, a tone of the voice, seems a mark of disdain. "One day,[4340] on alluding, before the minister of war, to a general officer who had obtained his rank through his merit, he exclaimed, 'Oh, yes, an officer of luck.' This expression, being repeated and commented on, does much mischief." In vain do the grandees show their condescending spirit, "welcoming with equal kindness and gentleness all who are presented to them." In the mansion of the Due de Penthievre the nobles eat at the table of the master of the house, the commoners dine with his first gentleman and only enter the drawing room when coffee is served. There they find "in full force and with a superior tone" the others who had the honor of dining with His Highness, and "who do not fail to salute the new arrivals with an obliging civility indicating patronage."[4341] No more is required; in vain does the Duke "carry his attentions to an extreme," Beugnot, so pliable, has no desire to return. They bear them ill-will, not only on account of their slight bows but again on account of their over-politeness. Champfort acrimoniously relates that d'Alembert, at the height of his reputation, being in Madame du Deffant's drawing room with President Henault and M. de Pont-de-Veyle, a physician enters named Fournier, and he, addressing Madame du Deffant, says, "Madame, I have the honor of presenting you with my very humble respects;'' turning to President Henault, "I have the honor to be your obedient servant," and then to M. de Pont-de-Veyle, "Sir, your most obedient," and to d'Alembert, "Good day, sir."[4342] To a rebellious heart everything is an object of resentment. The Third-Estate, following Rousseau's example, cherishes ill-feeling against the nobles for what they do, and yet again, for what they are, for their luxury, their elegance, their insincerity, their refined and brilliant behavior. Champfort is embittered against them on account of the polite attentions with which they overwhelm him. Sieyes bears them a grudge on account of a promised abbey which he did not obtain. Each individual, besides the general grievances, has his personal grievance. Their coolness, like their familiarity, attentions and inattentions, is an offense, and, under these millions of needle-thrusts, real or imaginary, the mind gets to be full of gall. In 1789, it is full to overflowing.

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