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The Origins of Contemporary France, Volume 1 (of 6) - The Ancient Regime
by Hippolyte A. Taine
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One-point remains, the chase, wherein the noble's jurisdiction is still active and severe, and it is just the point which is found the most offensive. Formerly, when one-half of the canton consisted of forest, or waste land, while the other half was being ravaged by wild beasts, he was justified in reserving the right to hunt them; it entered into his function as local captain. He was the hereditary gendarme, always armed, always on horseback, as well against wild boars and wolves as against rovers and brigands. Now that nothing is left to him of the gendarme but the title and the epaulettes he maintains his privilege through tradition, thus converting a service into an annoyance. Hunt he must, and he alone must hunt; it is a physical necessity and, it the same time, a sign of his blood. A Rohan, a Dillon, chases the stag although belonging to the church, in spite of edicts and in spite of the canons. "You hunt too much," said Louis XV.[1352] to the latter; "I know something about it. How can you prohibit your curates from hunting if you pass your life in setting them such an example?—Sire, for my curates the chase is a fault, for myself it is the fault of my ancestors." When the vanity and arrogance of caste thus mounts guard over a right it is with obstinate vigilance. Accordingly, their captains of the chase, their game-keepers, their wood-rangers, their forest-wardens protect brutes as if they were men, and hunt men as if they were brutes. In the bailiwick of Pont-l'Eveque in 1789 four instances are cited "of recent assassinations committed by the game-keepers of Mme. d'A——,—Mme. N——, a prelate and a marshal of France, on commoners caught breaking the game laws or carrying guns. All four publicly escape punishment." In Artois, a parish makes declaration that "on the lands of the Chattellany the game devours all the avetis (pine saplings) and that the growers of them will be obliged to abandon their business." Not far off; at Rumancourt, at Bellone, "the hares, rabbits and partridges entirely devour them, Count d'Oisy never hunting nor having hunts." In twenty villages in the neighborhood around Oisy where he hunts it is on horseback and across the crops. "His game-keepers, always armed, have killed several persons under the pretense of watching over their master's rights. . . . The game, which greatly exceeds that of the royal captaincies, consumes annually all prospects of a crop, twenty thousand razieres of wheat and as many of other grains." In the bailiwick of Evreux "the game has just destroyed everything up to the very houses. . . . On account of the game the citizen is not free to pull up the weeds in summer which clog the grain and injure the seed sown. . . . How many women are there without husbands, and children without fathers, on account of a poor hare or rabbit!" The game-keepers of the forest of Gouffray in Normandy "are so terrible that they maltreat, insult and kill men. . . . I know of farmers who, having pleaded against the lady to be indemnified for the loss of their wheat, not only lost their time but their crops and the expenses of the trial. . . . Stags and deer are seen roving around our houses in open daylight." In the bailiwick of Domfront, "the inhabitants of more than ten parishes are obliged to watch all night for more than six months of the year to secure their crops.[1353]—This is the effect of the right of the chase in the provinces. It is, however, in the Ile-de-France, where captaincies abound, and become more extensive, that the spectacle is most lamentable. A proces-verbal shows that in the single parish of Vaux, near Meulan, the rabbits of warrens in the vicinity ravage eight hundred cultivated arpents (acres) of ground and destroy the crops of two thousand four hundred setiers (three acres each), that is to say, the annual supplies of eight hundred persons. Near that place, at la Rochette, herds of deer and of stags devour everything in the fields during the day, and, at night, they even invade the small gardens of the inhabitants to consume vegetables and to break down young trees. It is found impossible in a territory subjected to a captaincy to retain vegetables safe in gardens, enclosed by high walls. At Farcy, of five hundred peach trees planted in a vineyard and browsed on by stags, only twenty remain at the end of three years. Over the whole territory of Fontainebleau, the communities, to save their vines, are obliged to maintain, with the assent always of the captaincy, a gang of watchmen who, with licensed dogs, keep watch and make a hubbub all night from the first of May to the middle of October. At Chartrettes the deer cross the Seine, approach the doors of the Comtesse de Larochefoucauld and destroy entire plantations of poplars. A domain rented for two thousand livres brings in only four hundred after the establishment of the captaincy of Versailles. In short, eleven regiments of an enemy's cavalry, quartered on the eleven captaincies near the capital, and starting out daily to forage, could not do more mischief.—We need not be surprised if, in the neighborhood of these lairs, the people become weary of cultivating.[1354] Near Fontainebleau and Melun, at Bois-le-Roi, three-quarters of the ground remains waste. Almost all the houses in Brolle are in ruins, only half-crumbling gables being visible; at Coutilles and at Chapelle-Rablay, five farms are abandoned; at Arbonne, numerous fields are neglected. At Villiers, and at Dame-Marie, where there were four farming companies and a number of special cultures, eight hundred arpents remain untilled.—Strange to say, as the century becomes more easygoing the enforcement of the chase becomes increasingly harsh. The officers of the captaincy are zealous because they labor under the eye and for the "pleasures" of their master. In 1789, eight hundred preserves had just been planted in one single canton of the captaincy of Fontainebleau, and in spite of the proprietors of the soil. According to the regulations of 1762 every private individual domiciled on the reservation of a captaincy is forbidden from enclosing his homestead or any ground whatever with hedges or ditches, or walls without a special permit.[1355] In case of a permit being given he must leave a wide, open and continuous space in order to let the huntsmen easily pass through. He is not allowed to keep any ferret, any fire-arm, any instrument adapted to the chase, nor to be followed by any dog even if not adapted to it, except the dog be held by a leash or clog fastened around its neck. And better still. He is forbidden to reap his meadow or his Lucerne before St. John's day, to enter his own field between the first of May and the twenty-fourth of June, to visit any island in the Seine, to cut grass on it or osiers, even if the grass and osiers belong to him. The reason is, that now the partridge is hatching and the legislator protects it; he would take less pains for a woman in confinement; the old chroniclers would say of him, as with William Rufus, that his bowels are paternal only for animals. Now, in France, four hundred square leagues of territory are subject to the control of the captaincies,[1356] and, over all France, game, large or small, is the tyrant of the peasant. We may conclude, or rather listen to the people's conclusion. "Every time," says M. Montlosier, in 1789,[1357] "that I chanced to encounter herds of deer or does on my road my guides immediately shouted: 'Make room for the gentry!' in this way alluding to the ravages committed by them on their land." Accordingly, in the eyes of their subjects, they are wild animals.—This shows to what privileges can lead when divorced from duties. In this manner an obligation to protect degenerates into a right of devastation. Thus do humane and rational beings act, unconsciously, like irrational and inhuman beings. Divorced from the people they misuse them; nominal chiefs, they have unlearned the function of an effective chief; having lost all public character they abate nothing of their private advantages. So much the worse for the canton, and so much worse for themselves. The thirty or forty poachers whom they prosecute to day on their estates will march to-morrow to attack their chateaux at the head of an insurrection. The absence of the masters, the apathy of the provinces, the bad state of cultivation, the exactions of agents, the corruption of the tribunals, the vexations of the captaincies, indolence, the indebtedness and exigencies of the seignior, desertion, misery, the brutality and hostility of vassals, all proceeds from the same cause and terminates in the same effect.

When sovereignty becomes transformed into a sinecure it becomes burdensome without being useful, and on becoming burdensome without being useful it is overthrown.

*****

NOTES:

[Footnote 1301: Beugnot, "Memoires," V. I. p.292.—De Tocqueville, "L'Ancien Regime et la Revolution."]

[Footnote 1302: Arthur Young, "Travels in France," II. 456. In France, he says, it is from the eleventh to the thirty-second. "But nothing is known like the enormities committed in England where the tenth is really taken."]

[Footnote 1303: Saint-Simon, "Memoires," ed. Cheruel, vol. I.—Lucas de Montigny, "Memoires de Mirabeau," I. 53-182.—Marshal Marmont, "Memoires," I. 9, 11.—Chateaubriand, "Memoires," I. 17. De Montlosier, "Memoires," 2 vol. passim.—Mme. de Larochejacquelein, "Souvenirs," passim. Many details concerning the types of the old nobility will be found in these passages. They are truly and forcibly depicted in two novels by Balzac in "Beatrix," (the Baron de Guenic) and in the "Cabinet des Antiques," (the Marquis d' Esgrignon).]

[Footnote 1304: A letter of the bailiff of Mirabeau, 1760, published by M. de Lomenie in the "Correspondant," V. 49, p.132.]

[Footnote 1305: Mme. de Larochejacquelein, ibid. I. 84. "As M. de Marigny had some knowledge of the veterinary art the peasants of the canton came after him when they had sick animals."]

[Footnote 1306: Marquis de Mirabeau, "Traite de la Population," p. 57.]

[Footnote 1307: De Tocqueville, ibid. p.180. This is proved by the registers of the capitation-tax which was paid at the actual domicile.]

[Footnote 1308: Renauldon, ibid.., Preface p. 5.—Anne Plumptre, "A narrative of three years residence in France from 1802 to 1805." II. 357.—Baroness Oberkirk, "Memoires," II. 389.—"De l'etat religieux," by the abbes Bonnefoi and Bernard, 1784, p. 295.—Mme.Vigee-Lebrun, "Souvenirs," p.171.]

[Footnote 1309: Archives nationales, D, XIX. portfolios 14, 15, 25. Five bundles of papers are filled with these petitions.]

[Footnote 1310: Ibid. D, XIX. portfolio 11. An admirable letter by Joseph of Saintignon, abbe of Domievre, general of the regular canons of Saint-Sauveur and a resident. He has 23,000 livres income, of which 6,066 livres is a pension from the government, in recompense for his services. His personal expenditure not being over 5,000 livres "he is in a situation to distribute among the poor and the workmen, in the space of eleven years, more than 250,000 livres."]

[Footnote 1311: On the conduct and sentiments of lay and ecclesiastical seigniors cf. Leonce de Lavergne, "Les Assemblees provinciales," I vol. Legrand, "L'intendance du Hainaut," I vol. Hippeau, "Le Gouvernement de Normandie," 9 vols.]

[Footnote 1312: "The most active sympathy filled their breasts; that which an opulent man most dreaded was to be regarded as insensible." (Lacretelle, vol. V. p. 2.)]

[Footnote 1313: Floquet, "Histoire du Parlement de Normandie," vol. VI. p.696. In 1772 twenty-five gentlemen and imprisoned or exiled for having signed a protest against the orders of the court.]

[Footnote 1314: De Tocqueville, ibid. pp. 39, 56, 75, 119, 184. He has developed this point with admirable force and insight.]

[Footnote 1315: De Tocqueville, ibid. p.376. Complaints of the provincial assembly of Haute-Guyenne. "People complain daily that there is no police in the rural districts. How could there be one? The nobles takes no interest in anything, excepting a few just and benevolent seigniors who take advantage of their influence with vassals to prevent affrays."]

[Footnote 1316: Records of the States-General of 1789. Many of the registers of the noblesse consist of the requests by nobles, men and women, of some honorary distinctive mark, for instance a cross or a ribbon which will make them recognizable.]

[Footnote 1317: De Boulle, "Memoires," p.50.—De Toqueville, ibid.. pp. 118, 119.—De Lomenie, "Les Mirabeau," p. 132. A letter of the bailiff of Mirabeau, 1760.—De Chateaubriand, Memoires," I. 14, 15, 29, 76, 80, 125.—Lucas de Montigny, "Memoires de Mirabeau," I. 160.—Reports of the Societe du Berry. "Bourges en 1753 et 1754," according to a diary (in the national archives), written by one of the exiled parliamentarians, p. 273.]

[Footnote 1318: "La vie de mon pere," by Retif de la Bretonne, I. 146.]

[Footnote 1319: The rule is analogous with the other coutumes (common-law rules), of other places and especially in Paris. (Renauldon, ibid.. p. 134.)]

[Footnote 1320: A sort of dower right. TR.]

[Footnote 1321: Mme. d'Oberkirk, "Memoires," I. 395.]

[Footnote 1322: De Bouille, "Memoires," p. 50. According to him, "all the noble old families, excepting two or three hundred, were ruined. A larger portion of the great titled estates had become the appanage of financiers, merchants and their descendants. The fiefs, for the most part, were in the hands of the bourgeoisie of the towns."—Leonce de Lavergne, "Economie rurale en France," p. 26. "The greatest number vegetated in poverty in small country fiefs often not worth more than 2,000 or 3,000 francs a year."—In the apportionment of the indemnity in 1825, many received less than 1,000 francs. The greater number of indemnities do not exceed 50,000 francs.—"The throne," says Mirabeau, "is surrounded only by ruined nobles."]

[Footnote 1323: De Bouille, "Memoires," p. 50.—Cherin, "Abrege chronologique des edits" (1788). "Of this innumerable multitude composing the privileged order scarcely a twentieth part of it can really pretend to nobility of an immemorial and ancient date."—4,070 financial, administrative, and judicial offices conferred nobility.—Turgot, "Collection des Economistes," II. 276. "Through the facilities for acquiring nobility by means of money there is no rich man who does not at once become noble."—D'Argenson, "Memoires," III. 402.]

[Footnote 1324: Necker, "De l'Administration des Finances," II. 271. Legrand, "L'Intendance de Hainaut," pp. 104, 118, 152, 412.]

[Footnote 1325: Even after the exchange of 1784, the prince retains for himself "all personal impositions as well as subventions on the inhabitants," except a sum of 6,000 livres for roads. Archives Nationales, G, 192, a memorandum of April 14th, 1781, on the state of things in the Clermontois.—Report of the provincial assembly of the Three Bishoprics (1787), p. 380.]

[Footnote 1326: The town of St. Amand, alone, contains to day 10,210 inhabitants.]

[Footnote 1327: See note 3 at the end of the volume.]

[Footnote 1328: De Ferrieres, "Memoires," II. 57: "All had 100,000 some 200, 300, and even 800,000."]

[Footnote 1329: De Tocqueville, ibid.. book 2, Chap. 2. p.182.—Letter of the bailiff of Mirabau, August 23, 1770. "This feudal order was merely vigorous, even though they have pronounced it barbarous, because France, which once had the vices of strength, now has only those of feebleness, and because the flock which was formerly devoured by wolves is now eaten up with lice. . . . Three or four kicks or blows with a stick were not half so injurious to a poor man's family, nor to himself, as being devoured by six rolls of handwriting."—"The nobility," says St. Simon, in his day, "has become another people with no choice left it but to crouch down in mortal and ruinous indolence, which renders it a burden and contemptible, or to go and be killed in warfare; subject to the insults of clerks, secretaries of the state and the secretaries of intendants." Such are the complaints of feudal spirits.—The details which follow are all derived from Saint Simon, Dangeau, de Luynes, d'Argenson and other court historians.]

[Footnote 1330: Works of Louis XIV. and his own words.—Mme Vigee-Lebrun, "Souvenirs," I.71: "I have seen the queen (Marie Antoinette), obliging Madame to dine, then six years of age, with a little peasant girl whom she was taking care of, and insisting that this little one should be served first, saying to her daughter: 'You must do the honors.'" (Madame is the title given to the king's oldest daughter. SR.)]

[Footnote 1331: Moliere, "Misanthrope." This is the "desert" in which Celimene refuses to be buried with Alceste. See also in "Tartuffe" the picture which Dorine draws of a small town.—Arthur Young," Voyages en France," I. 78.]

[Footnote 1332: 'Traite de la Population,' p. 108, (1756).]

[Footnote 1333: I have this from old people who witnessed it before 1789.]

[Footnote 1334: "Memoires" de M. de Montlosier," I. p. 161,.]

[Footnote 1335: Reports of the Societe de Berry, "Bourges en 1753 et 1754," p. 273.]

[Footnote 1336: Ibid.. p. 271. One day the cardinal, showing his guests over his palace just completed, led them to the bottom of a corridor where he had placed water closets, at that time a novelty. M. Boutin de la Coulommiere, the son of a receiver-general of the finances, made an exclamation at the sight of the ingenious mechanism which it pleased him to see moving, and, turning towards the abbe de Canillac, he says: "That is really admirable, but what seems to me still more admirable is that His Eminence, being above all human weakness, should condescend to make use of it." This anecdote is valuable, as it serves to illustrate the rank and position of a grand-seignior prelate in the provinces.]

[Footnote 1337: Arthur Young, V.II. P.230 and the following pages.]

[Footnote 1338: Abolition of the tithe, the feudal rights, the permission to kill the game, etc.]

[Footnote 1339: De Lomenie, "Les Mirabeau," p.134. A letter of the bailiff, September 25, 1760: "I am at Harcourt, where I admire the master's honest, benevolent greatness. You cannot imagine my pleasure on fete days at seeing the people everywhere around the chateau, and the good little peasant boys and girls looking right in the face of their good landlord and almost pulling his watch off to examine the trinkets on the chain, and all with a fraternal air; without familiarity. The good duke does not make his vassals to go to court; he listens to them and decides for them, humoring them with admirable patience." Lacretelle, "Dix ans d'epreuve," p. 58.]

[Footnote 1340: "De l'etat religieux," by the abbes de Bonnefoi et Bernard, 1784, I. pp. 287, 291.]

[Footnote 1341: See on this subject "La partie de chasse de Henri IV" by Colle. Cf. Berquin, Florian, Marmontel, etc, and likewise the engravings of that day.]

[Footnote 1342: Boivin-Champeaux, "Notice historique sue la Revolution dans le departement de l'Eure," p. 63, 61.]

[Footnote 1343: Archives nationales, Reports of the States-General of 1789, T, XXXIX., p. 111. Letter of the 6th March, 1789, from the curate of St. Pierre de Ponsigny, in Berry. D'Argenson, 6th July, 1756. "The late cardinal de Soubise had three millions in cash and he gave nothing to the poor."]

[Footnote 1344: De Tocqueville, ibid.. 405.—Renauldon, ibid.. 628.]

[Footnote 1345: The example is set by the king who sells to the farmer-generals, for an annual sum, the management and product of the principal indirect taxes.]

[Footnote 1346: Voltaire, "Politique et Legislation, La voix du Cure," (in relation to the serfs of St. Claude).—A speech of the Duke d'Aiguillon, August 4th, 1789, in the National Assembly: "The proprietors of fiefs, of seigniorial estates, are rarely guilty of the excesses of which their vassals complain; but their agents are often pitiless."]

[Footnote 1347: Beugnot. "Memoires," V. I. p.136.—Duc de Levis, "Souvenirs et portraits," p. 156.—"Moniteur," the session of November 22, 1872, M. Bocher says: "According to the statement drawn up by order of the Convention the Duke of Orleans's fortune consisted of 74,000,000 of indebtedness and 140,000,000 of assets." On the 8th January, 1792, he had assigned to his creditors 38,000,000 to obtain his discharge.]

[Footnote 1348: King Louis the XVI's brother. (SR.)]

[Footnote 1349: In 1785, the Duke de Choiseul In his testament estimated his property at fourteen millions and his debts at ten millions. (Comte de Tilly, "Memoires," II. 215.)]

[Footnote 1350: Renauldon, ibid.. 45, 52, 628.—Duvergier, "Collection des Lois," II. 391; law of August 31;—October 18, 1792.—Statements (cahier) of grievances of a magistrate of the Chatelet on seigniorial courts (1789), p. 29.—Legrand, "l'Intendance du Hainaut," p.119.]

[Footnote 1351: Archives Nationales, H, 654 ("Memoire" by Rene de Hauteville, advocate to the Parliament, Saint-Brieuc, October 5, 1776.) In Brittany the number of seigniorial courts is immense, the pleaders being obliged to pass through four or five jurisdictions before reaching the Parliament. "Where is justice rendered? In the cabaret, in the tavern, where, amidst drunkards and riff-raff, the judge sells justice to whoever pays the most for it."]

[Footnote 1352: Beugnot, "Memoires," vol. I. p. 35.]

[Footnote 1353: Boivin-Champeaux, ibid.. 48.—Renauldon, 26, 416.—Manuscript reports of the States-general (Archives nationales), t. CXXXII. pp. 896 and 901.—Hippeau, "Le Gouvernement de Normandie," VII. 61, 74.—Paris, "La Jeunesse de Robespierre," pp.314-324.—"Essai sur les capitaineries royales et autres," (1789) passim.—De Lomenie, "Beaumarchais et son emps," I. 125. Beaumarchais having purchased the office of lieutenant-general of the chase in the bailiwicks of the Louvre warren (twelve to fifteen leagues in circumference. approx. 60 km. SR.) tries delinquents under this title. July 15th, 1766, he sentences Ragondet, a farmer to a fine of one hundred livres together with the demolition of the walls around an enclosure, also of his shed newly built without license, as tending to restrict the pleasures of the king.]

[Footnote 1354: Marquis D'Argenson, "Memoires," ed. Rathery, January 27, 1757. "The sieur de Montmorin, captain of the game-preserves of Fontainebleau, derives from his office enormous sums, and behaves himself like a bandit. The population of more than a hundred villages around no longer sow their land, the fruits and grain being eaten by deer; stags and other game. They keep only a few vines, which they preserve six months of the year by mounting guard day and night with drums, making a general turmoil to frighten off the destructive animals." January 23, 1753.—"M. le Prince de Conti has established a captainry of eleven leagues around Ile-Adam and where everybody is vexed at it." September 23, 1753.—M. le Duc d'Orleans came to Villers-Cotterets, he has revived the captainry; there are more than sixty places for sale on account of these princely annoyances.]

[Footnote 1355: The old peasants with whom I once have talked still had a clear memory of these annoyances and damages.—They recounted how, in the country around Clermont, the gamekeepers of Prince de Conde in the springtime took litters of wolves and raised them in the dry moats of the chateau. They were freed in the beginning of the winter, and the wolf hunting team would then hunt them later. But they ate the sheep, and, here and there, a child.]

[Footnote 1356: The estates of the king encompassed in forest one million acres, not counting forests in the appanages set aside for his eldest son or for factories or salt works.]

[Footnote 1357: De Montlosier, "Memoires," I. 175.]



CHAPTER IV. PUBLIC SERVICES DUE BY THE PRIVILEGED CLASSES.



I. England compared to France.

An English example.—The Privileged class renders no service in France.—The influence and rights which remain to them.— They use it only for themselves.

Useless in the canton, they might have been useful at the Center of the State, and, without taking part in the local government, they might have served in the general government. Thus does a lord, a baronet, a squire act in England, even when not a "justice" of his county or a committee-man in his parish. Elected a member of the Lower House, a hereditary member of the upper house, he holds the strings of the public purse and prevents the sovereign from spending too freely. Such is the regime in countries where the feudal seigniors, instead of allowing the sovereign to ally himself with the people against them, allied themselves with the people against the sovereign. To protect their own interests better they secured protection for the interests of others, and, after having served as the representatives of their compeers they became the representatives of the nation. Nothing of this kind takes place in France. The States-General are fallen into desuetude, and the king may with truth declare himself the sole representative of the country. Like trees rendered lifeless under the shadow of a gigantic oak, other public powers perish through his growth; whatever still remains of these encumbers the ground, and forms around him a circle of clambering briers or of decaying trunks. One of them, the Parliament, an offshoot simply of the great oak, sometimes imagined itself in possession of a root of its own; but its sap was too evidently derivative for it to stand by itself and provide the people with an independent shelter. Other bodies, surviving, although stunted, the assembly of the clergy and the provincial assemblies, still protect an order, and four or five provinces; but this protection extends only to the order itself or to the province, and, if it protects a special interest it is commonly at the expense of the general interest.



II. The Clergy

Assemblies of the clergy.—They serve only ecclesiastical interests.—The clergy exempted from taxation.—Solicitation of its agents.—Its zeal against the Protestants.

Let us observe the most vigorous and the best-rooted of these bodies, the assembly of the clergy. It meets every five years, and, during the interval, two agents, selected by it, watch over the interests of the order. Convoked by the government, subject to its guidance, retained or dismissed when necessary, always in its hands, used by it for political ends, it nevertheless continues to be a refuge for the clergy, which it represents. But it is an asylum solely for that body, and, in the series of transactions by which it defends itself against fiscal demands, it eases its own shoulders of the load only to make it heavier on the shoulders of others. We have seen how its diplomacy saved clerical immunities, how it bought off the body from the poll-tax and the vingtiemes, how it converted its portion of taxation into a "free gift," how this gift is annually applied to refunding the capital which it has borrowed to obtain this exemption, by which delicate art it succeeds, not only in not contributing to the treasury, but in withdrawing from it every year about 1,500,000 livres, all of which is so much the better for the church but so much the worse for the people. Now run through the file of folios in which from one period of five years to another the reports of its agents follow each other,—so many clever men thus preparing themselves for the highest positions in the church, the abbes de Boisgelin, de Perigord, de Barral, de Montesquiou; at each moment, owing to their solicitations with judges and the council, owing to the authority which the discontent of the powerful order felt to be behind them gives to their complaints, some ecclesiastic matter is decided in an ecclesiastical sense; so feudal right is maintained in favor of a chapter or of a bishop; some public demand is thrown out.[1401] In 1781, notwithstanding decision of the Parliament of Rennes, the canons of St. Malo are sustained in their monopoly of the district baking oven. This is to the detriment of the bakers who prefer to bake at their own domiciles as well as of the inhabitants who would have to pay less for bread made by the bakers. In 1773, Guenin, a schoolmaster, discharged by the bishop of Langres, and supported in vain by inhabitants, is compelled to hand his place over to a successor appointed by the bishop. In 1770, Rastel, a Protestant, having opened a public school at Saint-Affrique, is prosecuted at the demand of the bishop and of clerical agents; his school is closed and he is imprisoned. When an organized body keeps purse strings in its own hands it secures many favors; these are the equivalent for the money it grants. The commanding tone of the king and the submissive air of the clergy effect no fun mental change; with both of them it is a bargain,[1402] giving and taking on both sides, this or that law against the Protestants going for one or two millions added to the free gift. In this way the revocation of the Edict of Nantes is gradually brought about, article by article, one turn of the rack after another turn, each fresh persecution purchased by a fresh largess, the clergy helping the State on condition that the State becomes an executioner. Throughout the eighteenth century the church sees that this operation continues.[1403] In 1717, an assemblage of seventy-four persons having been surprised at Andure the men are sent to the galleys and the women are imprisoned. In 1724, an edict declares that all who are present at any meeting, or who shall have any intercourse, direct or indirect, with preachers, shall be condemned to the confiscation of their property, the women to have their heads shaved and be shut up for life, and the men to sent to the galleys for life. In 1745 and 1746, in Dauphiny, 277 Protestants are condemned to the galleys, and numbers of women are whipped. Between 1744 and 1752, in the east and in the south, six hundred Protestants are imprisoned and eight hundred condemned to various penalties. In 1774, the two children of Roux, a Calvinist of Nimes, are carried off. Up to nearly the beginning of the Revolution, in Languedoc, ministers are hung, while dragoons are dispatched against congregations assembled to worship God in deserted places. The mother of M. Guizot here received shots in the skirts of her dress. This is owing to the fact that, in Languedoc, through the provincial States-Assembly "the bishops control temporal affairs more than elsewhere, their disposition being always to dragoon and make converts at the point of the bayonet." In 1775, at the coronation of the king, archbishop Lomenie of Brienne, a well-known unbeliever, addresses the young king: "You will disapprove of the culpable systems of toleration... Complete the work undertaken by Louis the Great. To you is reserved the privilege of giving the final blow to Calvinism in your kingdom." In 1780, the assembly of the clergy declares "that the altar and the throne would equally be in danger if heresy were allowed to throw off its shackles." Even in 1789, the clergy in its registers, while consenting to the toleration of non-Catholics, finds the edict of 1788 too liberal. They desire that non-Catholics should be excluded from judicial offices, that they should never be allowed to worship in public, and that mixed marriages should be forbidden. And much more than this; they demand preliminary censure of all works sold by the bookshops, an ecclesiastical committee to act as informers, and ignominious punishment to be awarded to the authors of irreligious books. Lastly they claim for their body the direction of public schools and the oversight of private schools.—There is nothing strange in this intolerance and selfishness. A collective body, as with an individual, thinks of itself first of all and above all. If, now and then, it sacrifices some one of its privileges it is for the purpose of securing the alliance of some other body. In that case, which is that of England, all these privileges, which compound with each other and afford each other mutual support, form, through their combination, the public liberties.—In this case, only one body being represented, its deputies are neither directed nor tempted to make concession to others; the interest of the body is their sole guide; they subordinate the common interest to it and serve it at any cost, even to criminal attacks on the public welfare.



III. Influence of the Nobles..

Regulations in their favor.—Preferment obtained by them in the Church.—Distribution of bishoprics and abbeys. —Preferment obtained from them from the State.—Governments, offices, sinecures, pensions, gratuities.—Instead of being useful they are an expense.

Thus do public bodies work when, instead of being associated together, they are separate. The same spectacle is apparent on contemplating castes and associations; their isolation is the cause of their egoism. From the top to the bottom of the scale the legal and moral powers which should represent the nation represent themselves only, while each one is busy in its own behalf at the expense of the nation. The nobility, in default of the right to meet together and to vote, exercises its influence, and, to know how it uses this, it is sufficient to read over the edicts and the Almanac. A regulation imposed on Marshal de Segur[1404]has just restored the old barrier, which excluded commoners from military rank, and thenceforward, to be a captain, it is necessary to prove four degrees of nobility. In like manner, in late days, one must be a noble to be a master of requests, and it is secretly determined that in future "all ecclesiastical property, from the humblest priory to the richest abbeys, shall be reserved to the nobility." In fact, all the high places, ecclesiastic or laic, are theirs; all the sinecures, ecclesiastic or laic, are theirs, or for their relations, adherents, proteges, and servitors. France[1405] is like a vast stable in which the blood-horses obtain double and triple rations for doing nothing, or for only half-work, whilst the draft-horses perform full service on half a ration, and that often not supplied. Again, it must be noted, that among these blood-horses is a privileged circle which, born near the manger, keeps its fellows away and feeds bountifully, fat, shining, with their skins polished, and up to their bellies in litter, and with no other occupation than that of appropriating everything to themselves. These are the court nobles, who live within reach of favors, brought up from infancy to ask for them, to obtain and to ask again, solely attentive to royal condescension and frowns, for whom the OEil de boeuf[1406] forms the universe. They are as "indifferent to the affairs of the State as to their own affairs, allowing one to be governed by provincial intendants as they allowed he other to be governed by their own intendants."

Let us contemplate them at work on the budget. We know how large that of the church is; I estimate that they absorb at east one-half of it. Nineteen chapters of male nobles, twenty-five chapters of female nobles, two hundred and sixty commanderies of Malta belong to them by institution. They occupy, by favor, all the archbishoprics, and, except five, all the bishoprics.[1407] They furnish three out of four abbes-commendatory and vicars-general. If, among the abbeys of females royally nominated, we set apart those bringing in twenty thousand livres and more, we find that they all have ladies of rank for abbesses. One fact alone shows the extent of these favors: I have counted eighty-three abbeys of men possessed by the almoners, chaplains, preceptors or readers to the king, queen, princes, and princesses; one of them, the abbe de Vermont, has 80,000 livres income in benefices. In short, the fifteen hundred ecclesiastical sinecures under royal appointment, large or small, constitute a flow of money for the service of the great, whether they pour it out in golden rain to recompense the assiduity of their intimates and followers, or keep it in large reservoirs to maintain the dignity of their rank. Besides, according to the fashion of giving more to those who have already enough, the richest prelates possess, above their episcopal revenues, the wealthiest abbeys. According to the Almanac, M. d'Argentre, bishop of Seez,[1408] thus enjoys an extra income of 34,000 livres; M. de Suffren, bishop of Sisteron, 36,000; M. de Girac, bishop of Rennes, 40,000; M. de Bourdeille, bishop of Soissons, 42,000; M. d'Agout de Bonneval, bishop of Pamiers, 45,000; M. de Marboeuf bishop of Autun, 50,000; M. de Rohan, bishop of Strasbourg, 60,000; M. de Cice, archbishop of Bordeaux, 63,000; M. de Luynes, archbishop of Sens, 82,000; M. de Bernis, archbishop of Alby, 100,000; M. de Brienne, archbishop of Toulouse, l06,000; M. de Dillon, archbishop of Narbonne, 120,000; M. de Larochefoucauld, archbishop of Rouen, 130,000; that is to say, double and sometimes triple the sums stated, and quadruple, and often six times as much, according to the present standard. M. de Rohan derived from his abbeys, not 60,000 livres but 400,000, and M. de Brienne, the most opulent of all, next to M. de Rohan, the 24th of August, 1788, at the time of leaving the ministry,[1409] sent to withdraw from the treasury "the 20,000 livres of his month's salary which had not yet fallen due, a punctuality the more remarkable that, without taking into account the salary of his place, with the 6,000 livres pension attached to his blue ribbon, he possessed, in benefices, 678,000 livres income, and that, still quite recently, a cutting of wood on one of his abbey domains yielded him a million."

Let us pass on to the lay budget; here also are prolific sinecures, and almost all belong to the nobles. Of this class there are in the provinces the thirty-seven great governments-general, the seven small governments-general, the sixty-six lieutenancies-general, the four hundred and seven special governments, the thirteen governorships of royal palaces, and a number of others, all of them for ostentation and empty honors. They are all in the hands of the nobles, all lucrative, not only through salaries paid by the treasury, but also through local profits. Here, again, the nobility allowed itself to evade the authority, the activity and the usefulness of its charge on the condition of retaining its title, pomp and money.[1410] The intendant is really the governor; "the titular governor, exercising a function with special letters of command," is only there to give dinners; and again he must have permission to do that, "the permission to go and reside at his place of government." The place, however, yields fruit. The government-general of Berry is worth 35,000 livres income, that of Guyenne 120,000, that of Languedoc 160,000; a small special government, like that of Havre, brings in 35,000 livres, besides the accessories; a medium lieutenancy-general, like that of Roussillon, 13,000 to 14,000 livres; one special government from 12,000 to 18,000 livres; and observe that, in the Isle of France alone, there are thirty-four, at Vervins, Senlis, Melun, Fontainebleau, Dourdan, Sens, Limours, Etampes, Dreux, Houdan and other towns as insignificant as they are pacific; it is the staff of the Valois dynasty which, since the time of Richelieu, has ceased to perform any service, but which the treasury continues to pay.—Consider these sinecures in one province alone, in Languedoc, a country with its own provincial assembly, which ought to provide some protection the taxpayer's purse. There are three sub-commandants at Tournon, Alais, and Montpelier, "each one paid 16,000 livres, although without any functions since their places were established at the time of the religious wars and troubles, to keep down the Protestants." Twelve royal lieutenants are equally useless, and only for parade. The same with three lieutenants-general, each one "receiving in his turn, every three years, a gratuity of 30,000 livres, for services rendered in the said province. These are vain and chimerical, they are not specified" because none of them reside there, and, if they are paid, it is to secure their support at the court. "Thus the Comte de Caraman, who has more than 600,000 livres income as proprietor of the Languedoc canal, receives 30,000 livres every three years, without legitimate cause, and independently of frequent and ample gifts which the province awards to him for repairs on his canal."—The province likewise gives to the commandant, Comte de Perigord, a gratuity of 12,000 livres in addition to his salary, and to his wife another gratuity of 12,000 livres on her honoring the states for the first time with her presence. It again pays, for the same commandant, forty guards, "of which twenty-four only serve during his short appearance at the Assembly," and who, with their captain, annually cost 15,000 livres. It pays likewise for the Governor from eighty to one hundred guards, "who each receive 300 or 400 livres, besides many exemptions, and who are never on service, since the Governor is a non-resident." The expense of these lazy subalterns is about 24,000 livres, besides 5,000 to 6,000 for their captain, to which must be added 7,500 for gubernatorial secretaries, besides 60,000 livres salaries, and untold profits for the Governor himself. I find everywhere secondary idlers swarming in the shadow of idlers in chief,[1411] and deriving their vigor from the public purse which is the common nurse. All these people parade and drink and eat copiously, in grand style; it is their principal service, and they attend to it conscientiously. The sessions of the Assembly are junketings of six weeks' duration, in which the intendant expends 25,000 livres in dinners and receptions.[1412]

Equally lucrative and useless are the court offices[1413], so many domestic sinecures, the profits and accessories of which largely exceed the emoluments. I find in the printed register 295 cooks, without counting the table-waiters of the king and his people, while "the head butler obtains 84,000 livres a year in billets and supplies," without counting his salary and the "grand liveries" which he receives in money. The head chambermaids to the queen, inscribed in the Almanac for 150 livres and paid 12,000 francs, make in reality 50,000 francs by the sale of the candles lighted during the day. Augeard, private secretary, and whose place is set down at 900 livres a year, confesses that it is worth to him 200,000. The head huntsman at Fontainebleau sells for his own benefit each year 20,000 francs worth of rabbits. "On each journey to the king's country residences the ladies of the bedchamber gain eighty per cent on the expenses of moving; it is said that the coffee and bread for each of these ladies costs 2,000 francs a year, and so on with other things." "Mme. de Tallard made 115,000 livres income out of her place of governess to the children of France, because her salary was increased 35,000 livres for each child." The Duc de Penthievre, as grand admiral, received an anchorage due on all vessels "entering the ports and rivers of France," which produced annually 91,484 francs. Mme. de Lamballe, superintendent of the queen's household, inscribed for 6,000 francs, gets 50,000.[1414] The Duc de Gevres gets 50,000 crowns[1415] by one show of fireworks out of the fragments and scaffolding which belong to him by virtue of his office.[1416]—Grand officers of the palace, governors of royal establishments, captains of captaincies, chamberlains, equerries, gentlemen in waiting, gentlemen in ordinary, pages, governors, almoners, chaplains, ladies of honor, ladies of the bedchamber, ladies in waiting on the King, the Queen, on Monsieur, on Madame, on the Comte D'Artois, on the Comtesse D'Artois, on Mesdames, on Madame Royale, on Madame Elisabeth, in each princely establishment and elsewhere, hundreds of places provided with salaries and accessories are without any service to perform, or simply answer a decorative purpose. "Mme. de Laborde has just been appointed keeper of the queen's bed, with 12,000 francs pension out of the king's privy purse; nothing is known of the duties of this position, as there has been no place of this kind since Anne of Austria." The eldest son of M. de Machault is appointed intendant of the classes. "This is one of the employments called complimentary: it is worth 18,000 livres income to sign one's name twice a year." And likewise with the post of secretary-general of the Swiss guards, worth 30,000 livres a year and assigned to the Abbe Barthelemy; and the same with the post of secretary-general of the dragoons, worth 20,000 livres a year, held in turn by Gentil Bernard and by Laujon, two small pocket poets.?—It would be simpler to give the money without the place. There is, indeed, no end to them. On reading various memoirs day after day it seems as if the treasury was open to plunder. The courtiers, unremitting in their attentions to the king, force him to sympathize with their troubles. They are his intimates, the guests of his drawing-room; men of the same stamp as himself, his natural clients, the only ones with whom he can converse, and whom it is necessary to make contented; he cannot avoid helping them. He must necessarily contribute to the dowries of their children since he has signed their marriage contracts; he must necessarily enrich them since their profusion serves for the embellishment of his court. Nobility being one of the glories of the throne, the occupant of the throne is obliged to regild it as often as is necessary.[1417] In this connection a few figures and anecdotes among a thousand speak most eloquently.[1418]—"The Prince de Pons had a pension of 25,000 livres, out of the king's bounty, on which his Majesty was pleased to give 6,000 to Mme. de Marsan, his daughter, Canoness of Remiremont. The family represented to the king the bad state of the Prince de Pons's affairs, and his Majesty was pleased to grant to his son Prince Camille, 15,000 livres of the pension vacated by the death of his father, and 5,000 livres increase to Mme. de Marsan."—M. de Conflans espouses Mlle. Portail. "In honor of this marriage the king was pleased to order that out of the pension of 10,000 livres granted to Mme. la Presidente Portail, 6,000 of it should pass to M. de Conflans after the death of Mme. Portail."—M. de Sechelles, a retiring minister, "had 12,000 livres on an old pension which the king continued; he has, besides this, 20,000 livres pension as minister; and the king gives him in addition to all this a pension of 40,000 livres." The motives, which prompt these favors, are often remarkable. M. de Rouille has to be consoled for not having participated in the treaty of Vienna; this explains why "a pension of 6,000 livres is given to his niece, Mme. de Castellane, and another of 10,000 to his daughter, Mme. de Beuvron, who is very rich."—"M. de Puisieux enjoys about 76,000 or 77,000 livres income from the bounty of the king; it is true that he has considerable property, but the revenue of this property is uncertain, being for the most part in vines."—"A pension of 10,000 livres has just been awarded to the Marquise de Lede because she is disagreeable to Mme. Infante, and to secure her resignation."—The most opulent stretch out their hands and take accordingly. "It is estimated that last week 128,000 livres in pensions were bestowed on ladies of the court, while for the past two years the officers have not received the slightest pension: 8,000 livres to the Duchesse de Chevreuse, whose husband has an income of 500,000 livres; 12,000 livres to Mme. de Luynes, that she may not be jealous; 10,000 to the Duchesse de Brancas; 10,000 to the dowager Duchesse de Brancas, mother of the preceding," etc. At the head of these leeches come the princes of the blood. "The king has just given 1,500,000 livres to M. le Prince de Conti to pay his debts, 1,000,000 of which is under the pretext of indemnifying him for the injury done him by the sale of Orange, and 500,000 livres as a gratuity." "The Duc d'Orleans formerly had 50,000 crowns pension, as a poor man, and awaiting his father's inheritance. This event making him rich, with an income of more than 3,000,000 livres, he gave up his pension. But having since represented to the king that his expenditure exceeded his income, the king gave him back his 50,000 crowns."—Twenty years later, in 1780, when Louis XVI., desirous of relieving the treasury, signs "the great reformation of the table, 600,000 livres are given to Mesdames for their tables." This is what the dinners, cut down, of three old ladies, cost the public! For the king's two brothers, 8,300,000 livres, besides 2,000,000 income in appanages; for the Dauphin, Madame Royale, Madame Elisabeth, and Mesdames 3,500,000 livres; for the queen, 4,000,000: such is the statement of Necker in 1784. Add to this the casual donations, admitted or concealed; 200,000 francs to M. de Sartines, to aid him in paying his debts; 200,000 to M. Lamoignon, keeper of the seals; 100,000 to M. de Miromesnil for expenses in establishing himself; 166,000 to the widow of M. de Maurepas; 400,000 to the Prince de Salm; 1,200,000 to the Duc de Polignac for the pledge of the county Fenestranges; 754,337 to Mesdames to pay for Bellevue.[1419] M. de Calonne," says Augeard, a reliable witness,[1420] "scarcely entered on his duties, raised a loan of 100,000,000 livres, one-quarters of which did not find its way into the royal treasury; the rest was eaten up by people at the court; his donations to the Comte Artois are estimated at 56,000,000; the portion of Monsieur is 5,000,000; he gave to the Prince de Conde, in exchange for 300,000 livres income, 12,000,000 paid down and 600,000 livres annuity, and he causes the most burdensome acquisition to be made for the State, in exchanges of which the damage is more than five to one." We must not forget that in actual rates all these donations, pensions, and salaries are worth double the amount.—Such is the use of the great in relation to the central power; instead of constituting themselves representatives of the people, they aimed to be the favorites of the Sovereign, and they shear the flock which they ought to preserve.



IV.

Isolation of the Chiefs—Sentiments of subordinates —Provincial nobility—The Curates.

The fleeced flock is to discover finally what is done with its wool. "Sooner or later," says a parliament of 1764,[1421] "the people will learn that the remnants of our finances continue be wasted in donations which are frequently undeserved; in excessive and multiplied pensions for the same persons; in dowries and promises of dowry, and in useless offices and salaries." Sooner or later they will thrust back "these greedy hands which are always open and never full; that insatiable crowd which seems to be born only to seize all and possess nothing, and pitiless as it is shameless."—And when this day arrives the extortioners will find that they stand alone. For the characteristic of an aristocracy which cares only for itself is to live aloof in a closed circle. Having forgotten the public, it also neglects its subordinates; after being separated from the nation it separates itself from its own adherents. Like a group of staff-officers on furlough, it indulges in Sports without giving itself further concern about inferior officers; when the hour of battle comes nobody will march under its orders, and chieftains are sought elsewhere. Such is the isolation of the seigniors of the court and of the prelates among the lower grades of the nobility and the clergy; they appropriate to themselves too large a share, and give nothing, or almost nothing, to the people who are not of their society. For a century a steady murmur against them rising, and goes on expanding until it becomes an uproar, which the old and the new spirit, feudal ideas and philosophic ideas, threaten in unison. "I see," said the bailiff of Mirabeau,[1422] "that the nobility is demeaning itself and becoming a wreck. It is extended to all those children of bloodsuckers, the vagabonds of finance, introduced by La Pompadour, herself the spring of this foulness. One portion of it demeans itself in its servility to the court; the other portion is amalgamated with that quill-driving rabble who are converting the blood of the king's subjects into ink; another perishes stifled beneath vile robes, the ignoble atoms of cabinet-dust which an office drags up out of the mire;" and all, parvenus of the old or of the new stock, form a band called the court, 'The court!" exclaims D'Argenson. "The entire evil is found in this word, The court has become the senate of the nation; the least of the valets at Versailles is a senator; chambermaids take part in the government, if not to legislate, at least to impede laws and regulations; and by dint of hindrance there are no longer either laws, or rules, or law-makers. . . . Under Henry IV courtiers remained each one at home; they had not entered into ruinous expenditure to belong to the court; favors were not thus due to them as at the present day. . . The court is the sepulcher of the nation." Many noble officers, finding that high grades are only for courtiers, abandon the service, and betake themselves with their discontent to their estates. Others, who have not left their domains, brood there in discomfort, idleness, and ennui, their ambition embittered by their powerlessness. In 1789, says the Marquis de Ferrieres, most of them "are so weary of the court and of the ministers, they are almost democrats." At least, "they want to withdraw the government from the ministerial oligarchy in whose hands it is concentrated;" there are no grand seigniors for deputies; they set them aside and "absolutely reject them, saying that they would traffic with the interests of the nobles;" they themselves, in their registers, insist that there be no more court nobility.

The same sentiments prevail among the lower clergy, and still more actively; for they are excluded from the high offices, not only as inferiors, but also as commoner.[1423] Already, in 1766, the Marquis de Mirabeau writes: "It would be an insult to most of our pretentious ecclesiastics to offer them a curacy. Revenues and honors are for the abbes-commendatory, for tonsured beneficiaries not in orders, for the numerous chapters (of nobility)." On the contrary, "the true pastors of souls, the collaborators in the holy ministry, scarcely obtain a subsistence." The first class "drawn from the nobility and from the best of the bourgeoisie have pretensions only, without being of the true ministry. The other, only having duties to fulfill without expectations and almost without income. . . can be recruited only from the lowest ranks of civil society," while the parasites who despoil the laborers "affect to subjugate them and to degrade them more and more." "I pity," said Voltaire, "the lot of a country curate, obliged to contend for a sheaf of wheat with his unfortunate parishioner, to plead against him, to exact the tithe of peas and lentils, to waste his miserable existence in constant strife. . . . I pity still more the curate with a fixed allowance to whom monks, called gros decimateurs[1424] dare offer a salary of forty ducats, to go about during the year, two or three miles from his home, day and night, in sunshine and in rain, in the snow and in the ice, exercising the most trying and most disagreeable functions." Attempts are made for thirty years to secure their salaries and raise them a little; in case of their inadequacy the beneficiary, collator or tithe-owner of the parish is required to add to them until the cure obtains 500 livres (1768), then 700 livres (1785), the vicar 200 livres (1768), then 250 (1778), and finally 350 (1785). Strictly, at the prices at which things are, a man may support himself on that.[1425] But he must live among the destitute to whom he owes alms, and he cherishes at the bottom of his heart a secret bitterness towards the indolent Dives who, with full pockets, dispatches him, with empty pockets, on a mission of charity. At Saint-Pierre de Barjouville, in the Toulousain, the archbishop of Toulouse appropriates to himself one-half of the tithes and gives away eight livres a year in alms. At Bretx, the chapter of Isle Jourdain, which retains one-half of certain tithes and three-quarters of others, gives ten livres; at Croix Falgarde, the Benedictines, to whom a half of the tithes belong, give ten livres per annum.[1426] At Sainte-Croix de Bernay in Normandy,[1427] the non-resident abbe, who receives 57,000 livres gives 1,050 livres to the curate without a parsonage, whose parish contains 4,000 communicants. At Saint-Aubin-sur-Gaillon, the abbe, a gros decimateur, gives 350 livres to the vicar, who is obliged to go into the village and obtain contributions of flour, bread and apples. At Plessis Hebert, "the substitute deportuaire,[1428] not having enough to live on is obliged to get his meals in the houses of neighboring curates." In Artois, where the tithes are often seven and a half and eight per cent. on he product of the soil, a number of curates have a fixed rate and no parsonage; their church goes to ruin and the beneficiary gives nothing to the poor. "At Saint-Laurent, in Normandy, the curacy is worth not more than 400 livres, which the curate shares with an obitier,[1429] and there are 500 inhabitants, three quarters of whom receive alms." As the repairs on a parsonage or on a church are usually at the expense of a seignior or of a beneficiary often far off, and in debt or indifferent, it sometimes happens that the priest does not know where to lodge, or to say mass. "I arrived," says a curate of the Touraine, "in the month of June, 1788. . . . The parsonage would resemble a hideous cave were it not open to all the winds and the frosts. Below there are two rooms with stone floors, without doors or windows, and five feet high; a third room six feet high, paved with stone, serves as parlor, hall, kitchen, wash-house, bakery, and sink for the water of the court and garden. Above are three similar rooms, the whole cracking and tumbling in ruins, absolutely threatening to fail, without either doors and windows that hold." And, in 1790, the repairs are not yet made. See, by way of contrast, the luxury of the prelates possessing half a million income, the pomp of their palaces, the hunting equipment of M. de Dillon, bishop of Evreux, the confessionals lined with satin of M. de Barral, bishop of Troyes, and the innumerable culinary utensils in massive silver of M. de Rohan, bishop of Strasbourg.—Such is the lot of curates at the established rates, and there are "a great many" who do not get the established rates, withheld from them through the ill-will of the higher clergy; who, with their perquisites, get only from 400 to 500 livres, and who vainly ask for the meager pittance to which they are entitled by the late edict. "Should not such a request," says a curate, "be willingly granted by Messieurs of the upper clergy who suffer monks to enjoy from 5 to 6,000 livres income each person, whilst they see curates, who are at least as necessary, reduced to the lighter portion, as little for themselves as for their parish?"—And they yet gnaw on this slight pittance to pay the free gift. In this, as in the rest, the poor are charged to discharge the rich. In the diocese of Clermont, "the curates, even with the simple fixed rates, are subject to a tax of 60, 80, 100, 120 livres and even more; the vicars, who live only by the sweat of their brows, are taxed 22 livres." The prelates, on the contrary, pay but little, and "it is still a custom to present bishops on New-Year's day with a receipt for their taxes."[1430]—There is no escape for the curates. Save two or three small bishoprics of "lackeys," all the dignities of the church are reserved to the nobles; "to be a bishop nowadays," says one of them, "a man must be a gentleman." I regard them as sergeants who, like their fellows in the army, have lost all hope of becoming officers.—Hence there are some whose anger bursts its bounds: "We, unfortunate curates at fixed rates; we, commonly assigned to the largest parishes, like my own which, for two leagues in the woods, includes hamlets that would form another; we, whose lot makes even the stones and beams of our miserable dwellings cry aloud," we have to endure prelates "who would still, through their forest-keepers, prosecute a poor curate for cutting a stick in their forests, his sole support on his long journeys over the road." On their passing, the poor man "is obliged to jump close against a slope to protect himself from the feet and the spattering of the horses, as likewise from the wheels and, perhaps, the whip of an insolent coachman," and then, "begrimed with dirt, with his stick in one hand and his hat, such as it is, in the other, he must salute, humbly and quickly, through the door of the close, gilded carriage, the counterfeit hierophant who is snoring on the wool of the flock the poor curate is feeding, and of which he merely leaves him the dung and the grease." The whole letter is one long cry of rage; it is rancor of this stamp which is to fashion Joseph Lebons and Fouches.—In this situation and with these sentiments it is evident that the lower clergy will treat its chiefs as the provincial nobility treated theirs.[1431] They will not select "for representatives those who swim in opulence and who have always regarded their sufferings with tranquility." The curates, on all sides "will confederate together" to send only curates to the States-General, and to exclude "not only canons, abbes, priors and other beneficiaries, but again the principal superiors, the heads of the hierarchy," that is to say, the bishops. In fact, in the States-General, out of three hundred clerical deputies we count two hundred and eight curates, and, like the provincial nobles, these bring along with them the distrust and the ill-will which they have so long entertained against their chiefs. Events are soon to prove this. If the first two orders are constrained to combine against the communes it is at the critical moment when the curates withdraw. If the institution of an upper chamber is rejected it is owing to the commonalty of the gentry (la plebe des gentilshommes) being unwilling to allow the great families a prerogative which they have abused.



V. The King's Incompetence and Generosity.

The most privileged of all—Having monopolized all powers, he takes upon himself their functional activity—The burden of this task—He evades it or is incompetent—His conscience at ease—France is his property—How he abuses it—Royalty the center of abuses.

One privilege remains the most considerable of all, that of the king; for, in his staff of hereditary nobles he is the hereditary general. His office, indeed, is not a sinecure, like their rank; but it involves quite as grave disadvantages and worse temptations. Two things are pernicious to Man, the lack of occupation and the lack of restraint; neither inactivity nor omnipotence are in harmony with his nature. The absolute prince who is all-powerful, like the listless aristocracy with nothing to do, in the end become useless and mischievous.—In grasping all powers the king insensibly took upon himself all functions; an immense undertaking and one surpassing human strength. For it is the Monarchy, and not the Revolution, which endowed France with administrative centralization [1432]. Three functionaries, one above the other, manage all public business under the direction of the king's council; the comptroller-general at the center, the intendant in each generalship,[1433] the sub-delegate in each election, fixing, apportioning and levying taxes and the militia, laying out and building highways, employing the national police force, distributing succor, regulating cultivation, imposing their tutelage on the parishes, and treating municipal magistrates as valets. "A village," says Turgot,[1434] "is simply an assemblage of houses and huts, and of inhabitants equally passive. . . . Your Majesty is obliged to decide wholly by yourself or through your mandataries. . . . Each awaits your special instructions to contribute to the public good, to respect the rights of others, and even sometimes to exercise his own." Consequently, adds Necker, "the government of France is carried on in the bureaux. . . .The clerks, relishing their influence, never fail to persuade the minister that he cannot separate himself from command in a single detail." Bureaucratic at the center, arbitrariness, exceptions and favors everywhere, such is a summary of the system. "Sub-delegates, officers of elections, receivers and comptrollers of the vingtiemes, commissaires and collectors of the tailles, officers of the salt-tax, process-servers, voituriers-buralistes, overseers of the corvees, clerks of the excise, of the registry, and of dues reserved, all these men belonging to the tax-service. Each of these will, aided by his fiscal knowledge and petty authority, so overwhelm the ignorant and inexperienced tax payer that he does not recognize that he is being cheated." [1435] A rude species of centralization with no control over it, with no publicity, without uniformity, thus installs over the whole country an army of petty pashas who, as judges, decide causes in which they are themselves contestants, ruling by delegation, and, to sanction their theft or their insolence, always having on their lips the name of the king, who is obliged to let them do as they please.—In short, the machine, through its complexity, irregularity, and dimensions, escapes from his grasp. A Frederick II. who rises at four o'clock in the morning, a Napoleon who dictates half the night in his bath, and who works eighteen hours a day, would scarcely suffice for its needs. Such a regime cannot operate without constant strain, without indefatigable energy, without infallible discernment, without military rigidity, without superior genius; on these conditions alone can one convert twenty-five millions of men into automatons and substitute his own will, lucid throughout, coherent throughout and everywhere present, for the wills of those he abolishes. Louis XV lets "the good machine" work by itself, while he settles down into apathy. "They would have it so, they thought it all for the best,"[1436] is his manner of speaking when ministerial measures prove unsuccessful. "If I were a lieutenant of the police," he would say again, "I would prohibit cabs." In vain is he aware of the machine being dislocated, for he can do nothing and he causes nothing to be done. In the event of misfortune he has a private reserve, his purse apart. "The king," said Mme. de Pompadour, "would sign away a million without thinking of it, but he would scarcely bestow a hundred louis out of his own little treasury."—Louis XVI strives for some time to remove some of the wheels, to introduce better ones and to reduce the friction of the rest; but the pieces are too rusty, and too weighty. He cannot adjust them, or harmonize them and keep them in their places; his hand falls by his side wearied and powerless. He is content to practice economy himself; he records in his journal the mending of his watch, and leaves the State carriage in the hands of Calonne to be loaded with fresh abuses that it may revert back to the old rut from which it is to issue only by breaking down.

Undoubtedly the wrong they do, or which is done in their name, dissatisfies the kings and upsets them, but, at the bottom, their conscience is not disturbed. They may feel compassion for the people, but they do not feel guilty; they are its sovereigns and not its representatives. France, to them, is as a domain to its lord, and a lord is not deprived of honor in being prodigal and neglectful. He merely gambles away his own property, and nobody has a right to call him to account. Founded on feudal society, royalty is like an estate, an inheritance. It would be infidelity, almost treachery in a prince, in any event weak and base, should he allow any portion of the trust received by him intact from his ancestors for transmission to his children, to pass into the hands of his subjects. Not only according to medieval traditions is he proprietor-commandant of the French and of France, but again, according to the theory of the jurists, he is, like Caesar, the sole and perpetual representative of the nation, and, according to the theological doctrine, like David, the sacred and special delegate of God himself. It would be astonishing, if, with all these titles, he did not consider the public revenue as his personal revenue, and if, in many cases, he did not act accordingly. Our point of view, in this matter, is so essentially opposed to his, we can scarcely put ourselves in his place; but at that time his point of view was everybody's point of view. It seemed, then, as strange to meddle with the king's business as to meddle with that of a private person. Only at the end of the year 1788[1437] the famous salon of the Palais-Royal "with boldness and unimaginable folly, asserts that in a true monarchy the revenues of the State should not be at the sovereign's disposition; that he should be granted merely a sum sufficient to defray the expenses of his establishment, of his donations, and for favors to his servants as well as for his pleasures, while the surplus should be deposited in the royal treasury to be devoted only to purposes sanctioned by the National Assembly. To reduce the sovereign to a civil list, to seize nine-tenths of his income, to forbid him cash on demand, what an outrage! The surprise would be no greater if at the present day it were proposed to divide the income of each millionaire into two portions, the smallest to go for the owner's support, and the largest to be placed in the hands of a government to be expended in works of public utility. An old farmer-general, an intellectual and unprejudiced man, gravely attempts to justify the purchase of Saint-Cloud by calling it "a ring for the queen's finger." The ring cost, indeed, 7,700,000 francs, but "the king of France then had an income of 447,000,000. What could be said of any private individual who, with 477,000 livres income, should, for once in his life, give his wife diamonds worth 7,000 or 8,000 livres?"[1438] People would say that the gift is moderate, and that the husband is reasonable.

To properly understand the history of our kings, let the fundamental principle be always recognized that France is their land, a farm transmitted from father to son, at first small, then slowly enlarged, and, at last, prodigiously enlarged, because the proprietor, always alert, has found means to make favorable additions to it at the expense of his neighbors; at the end of eight hundred years it comprises about 27,000 square leagues of territory. His interests and his vanity harmonize, certainly, in several areas with public welfare; he is, all in all, not a poor administrator, and, since he has always expanded his territory, he has done better than many others. Moreover, around him, a number of expert individuals, old family councilors, withdrawn from business and devoted to the domain, with good heads an gray beards, respectfully remonstrate with him when he spends too freely; they often interest him in public improvements, in roads, canals, homes for the invalids, military schools, scientific institutions and charity workshops; in the control of trust-funds and foundations, in the tolerance of heretics, in the postponement of monastic vows to the age of twenty-one, in provincial assemblies, and in other reforms by which a feudal domain becomes transformed into a modern domain. Nevertheless, the country, feudal or modern, remains his property, which he can abuse as well as use; however, whoever uses with full sway ends by abusing with full license. If, in his ordinary conduct, personal motives do not prevail over public motives, he might be a saint like Louis IX, a stoic like Marcus Aurelius, while remaining a seignior, a man of the world like the people of his court, yet more badly brought up, worse surrounded, more solicited, more tempted and more blindfolded. At the very least he has, like them, his own vanity, his own tastes, his own relatives, his mistress, his wife, his friends, all intimate and influential solicitors who must first be satisfied, while the nation only comes after them.—The result is, that, for a hundred years, from 1672 to 1774, whenever he makes war it is through wounded pride, through family interest, through calculation of private advantages, or to gratify a woman. Louis XV maintains his wars yet worse than in undertaking them;"[1439] while Louis XVI, during the whole of his foreign policy, finds himself hemmed in by the marriage he has made.—At home the king lives like other nobles, but more grandly, because he is the greatest lord in France; I shall describe his court presently, and further on we shall see by what exactions this pomp is made possible. In the meantime let us note two or three details. According to authentic statements, Louis XV expended on Mme. de Pompadour thirty-six millions of livres, which is at least seventy-two millions nowadays[1440] According to d'Argenson,[1441] in 1751, he has 4,000 horses in his stable, and we are assured that his household alone, or his person, "cost this year 68,000,000," almost a quarter of the public revenue. Why be astonished if we look upon the sovereign in the manner of the day, that is to say, as a lord of the manor enjoying of his hereditary property? He constructs, he entertains, he gives festivals, he hunts, and he spends money according to his station. Moreover, being the master of his own funds, he gives to whomsoever he pleases, and all his selections are favors. Abbe de Vermond writes to Empress Maria Theresa[1442]

"Your Majesty knows better than myself, that, according to immemorial custom, three-fourths of the places honors and pensions are awarded not on account of services but out of favor and through influence. This favor was originally prompted by birth, alliance and fortune; the fact is that it nearly always is based on patronage and intrigue. This procedure is so well established, that is respected as a sort of justice even by those who suffer the most from it. A man of worth not able to dazzle by his court alliances, nor through a brilliant expenditure, would not dare to demand a regiment, however ancient and illustrious his services, or his birth. Twenty years ago, the sons of dukes and ministers, of people attached to the court, of the relations and proteges of mistresses, became colonels at the age of sixteen. M. de Choiseul caused loud complaints on extending this age to twenty-three years. But to compensate favoritism and absolutism he assigned to the pure grace of the king, or rather to that of his ministers, the appointment to the grades of lieutenant-colonel and major which, until that time, belonged of right to priority of services in the government; also the commands of provinces and of towns. You are aware that these places have been largely multiplied, and that they are bestowed through favor and credit, like the regiments. The cordon bleu and the cordon rouge are in the like position, and abbeys are still more constantly subject to the regime of influence. As to positions in the finances, I dare not allude to them. Appointments in the judiciary are the most conditioned by services rendered; and yet how much do not influence and recommendation affect the nomination of intendants, first presidents" and the others?

Necker, entering on his duties, finds twenty-eight millions in pensions paid from the royal treasury, and, at his fall, there is an outflow of money showered by millions on the people of the court. Even during his term of office the king allows himself to make the fortunes of his wife's friends of both sexes; the Countess de Polignac obtains 400,000 francs to pay her debts, 100,000 francs dowry for her daughter, and, besides, for herself, the promise of an estate of 35,000 livres income, and, for her lover, the Count de Vaudreil, a pension of 30,000 livres; the Princess de Lamballe obtains 100,000 crowns per annum, as much for the post of superintendent of the queen's household, which is revived on her behalf, as for a position for her brother.[1443] The king is reproached for his parsimony; why should he be sparing of his purse? Started on a course not his own, he gives, buys, builds, and exchanges; he assists those belonging to his own society, doing everything in a style becoming to a grand seignior, that is to say, throwing money away by handfuls. One instance enables us to judge of this: in order to assist the bankrupt Guemenee family, he purchases of them three estates for about 12,500,000 livres, which they had just purchased for 4,000,000; moreover, in exchange for two domains in Brittany, which produce 33,758 livres income, he makes over to them the principality of Dombes which produces nearly 70,000 livres income.[1444]—When we come to read the Red Book further on we shall find 700,000 livres of pensions for the Polignac family, most of them revertible from one member to another, and nearly 2,000,000 of annual benefits to the Noailles family.—The king has forgotten that his favors are mortal blows, "the courtier who obtains 6,000 livres pension, receiving the taille of six villages."[1445] Each largess of the monarch, considering the state of the taxes, is based on the privation of the peasants, the sovereign, through his clerks, taking bread from the poor to give coaches to the rich.—The center of the government, in short, is the center of the evil; all the wrongs and all the miseries start from it as from the center of pain and inflammation; here it is that the public abscess comes to the head, and here will it break.[1446]



VI. Latent Disorganization in France.

Such is the just and fatal effect of privileges turned to selfish purposes instead of being exercised for the advantage of others. To him who utters the word, "Sire or Seignior" stands for the protector who feeds, the ancient who leads."[1447] With such a title and for this purpose too much cannot be granted to him, for there is no more difficult or more exalted post. But he must fulfill its duties; otherwise in the day of peril he will be left to himself. Already, and long before the day arrives, his flock is no longer his own; if it marches onward it is through routine; it is simply a multitude of persons, but no longer an organized body. Whilst in Germany and in England the feudal regime, retained or transformed, still composes a living society, in France[1448] its mechanical framework encloses only so many human particles. We still find the material order, but we no longer find the moral order of things. A lingering, deep-seated revolution has destroyed the close hierarchical union of recognized supremacies and of voluntary deference. It is like an army in which the attitudes of chiefs and subordinates have disappeared; grades are indicated by uniforms only, but they have no hold on consciences. All that constitutes a well-founded army, the legitimate ascendancy of officers, the justified trust of soldiers, the daily interchange of mutual obligations, the conviction of each being useful to all, and that the chiefs are the most useful all, is missing. How could it be otherwise in an army whose staff-officers have no other occupation but to dine out, to display their epaulettes and to receive double pay? Long before the final crash France is in a state of dissolution, and she is in a state of dissolution because the privileged classes had forgotten their characters as public men.

*****

NOTES:

[Footnote 1401: "Rapport de l'agence du clerge," from 1775 to 1780, pp. 31-34.—Ibid. from 1780 to 1785, p. 237.]

[Footnote 1402: Lanfrey, "L'Eglise et les philosophes," passim.]

[Footnote 1403: Boiteau, "Etat de la France en 1789," pp. 205, 207.—D'Argenson "Memoires," May 5, 1752, September 3, 22, 25, 1753; October 17, 1753, and October 26, 1775.—Prudhomme, "Resume general des cahiers des Etats-Generaux," 1789, (Registers of the Clergy).—"Histoire des eglises du desert," par Charles Coquerel, I. 151 and those following.]

[Footnote 1404: De Segur, "Memoires," vol. I. pp. 16, 41.—De Bouille, "Memoires," p. 54.—Mme. Campan, "Memoires," V. I. p. 237, proofs in detail.]

[Footnote 1405: Somewhat like the socialist societies including the welfare states where a caste of public pensionaries, functionaries, civil servants and politicians weigh like a heavy burden on those who actually do the work.. (SR.)]

[Footnote 1406: An antechamber in the palace of Versailles in which there was a round or bull's-eye window, where courtiers assembled to await the opening of the door into the king's apartment.—TR.]

[Footnote 1407: "La France ecclesiastique," 1788.]

[Footnote 1408: Grannier de Cassagnac, "Des causes de la Revolution Francaise," III. 58.]

[Footnote 1409: Marmontel, "Memoires," . II. book XIII. p. 221.]

[Footnote 1410: Boiteau, "Etat de la France en 1789," pp. 55, 248.—D'Argenson, "Considerations sur le gouvermement de la France," p. 177. De Luynes, "Journal," XIII. 226, XIV. 287, XIII. 33, 158, 162, 118, 233, 237, XV. 268, XVI. 304.—The government of Ham is worth 11,250 livres, that of Auxerre 12,000, that of Briancon 12,000, that of the islands of Ste. Marguerite 16,000, that of Schelestadt 15,000, that of Brisach from 15 to 16,000, that of Gravelines 18,000.—The ordinance of 1776 had reduced these various places as follows: (Warroquier, II, 467). 18 general governments to 60,000 livres, 21 to 30,000; 114 special governments; 25 to 12,000 livres, 25 to 10,000 and 64 to 8,000; 176 lieutenants and commandants of towns, places, etc., of which 35 were reduced to 16,600 and 141 from 2,000 to 6,000.—The ordinance of 1788 established, besides these, 17 commands in chief with from 20,000 to 30,000 livres fixed salary and from 4,000 to 6,000 a month for residence, and commands of a secondary grade.]

[Footnote 1411: Somewhat like a minister of culture in one of our western Welfare Social democracies, and which secures the support for the ruling class of a horde of "artists" of all sorts. (SR.)]

[Footnote 1412: Archives nationales, H, 944, April 25, and September 20, 1780. Letters and Memoirs of Furgole, advocate at Toulouse.]

[Footnote 1413: Archives nationales, O1, 738 (Reports made to the bureau-general of the king's household, March, 1780, by M. Mesnard de Chousy). Augeard, "Memoires," 97.—Mme. Campan, "Memoires," I. 291.—D'Argenson, "Memoires," February 10, December 9, 1751,—"Essai sur les capitaineries royales et autres" (1789), p. 80.—Warroquier, "Etat de la France en 1789," I. 266.]

[Footnote 1414: "Marie Antoinette," by D'Arneth and Geffroy, II. 377.]

[Footnote 1415: 1 crown (ecu) equals 6 livres under Louis XV. (SR.)]

[Footnote 1416: Mme. Campan, "Memoires," I. 296, 298, 300, 301; III. 78.—Hippeau, "Le Gouvernement de Normandie," IV. 171 (Letter from Paris, December 13, 1780).—D'Argenson, "Memoires," September 5, 1755.—Bachaumont, January 19, 1758.—"Memoire sur l'imposition territoriale," by M. de Calonne (1787), p. 54.]

[Footnote 1417: D'Argenson, "Memoires," December 9, 1751. "The expense to courtiers of two new and magnificent coats, each for two fete days, ordered by the king, completely ruins them."]

[Footnote 1418: De Luynes, "Journal," XIV. pp. 147-295, XV. 36, 119.—D'Argenson, "Memoires," April 8, 1752, March 30 and July 28, 1753, July 2, 1735, June 23, 1756.—Hippeau, ibid.. IV. p. 153 (Letter of May 15, 1780).—Necker, "De l'Administration des Finances," II. pp. 265, 269, 270, 271, 228.—Augeard, "Memoires," p 249.]

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