[Footnote 33143: Beaulieu, III., 754.—Cf. "The Revolution," vol. II., ch. I., P 9.]
[Footnote 33144: "Recueil de pieces authentiques sur la Revolution a Strasbourg," I., 21.—Archives Nationales D., I., P 6. (Orders by Rousselin, Frimaire II, year II.)]
[Footnote 33145: "Un Sejour en France de 1792 a 1795," p.409.]
[Footnote 33146: I have not found a complete list of the towns and departments which had a revolutionary army. The correspondence of representatives on mission and published documents verify the presence of revolutionary armies in the towns mentioned.]
[Footnote 33147: De Martel, "Fouche," 338. (Text of the orders of the commissioners of Public Safety.) The detachment sent to Lyons comprises twelve hundred fusiliers, six hundred gunners, one hundred and fifty horses. Three hundred thousand livres are remitted as traveling expenses to the commissary, fifty thousand to Collot d'Herbois, and nineteen thousand two hundred to the Jacobin civilians accompanying them.]
[Footnote 33148: Moniteur. (Session of Brumaire 17 year III.) Letter of Representative Cales to the Convention. "Under the pretext of guarding the prisons, the municipality (of Dijon) had a revolutionary army which I broke up two days ago, as it cost six thousand francs a month, and would not obey the commander of the armed force, and served as a support to intriguers. These soldiers, who were all workmen out of employment, do nothing but post themselves in the tribunes of the clubs, where they, with the women they bring along with them, applaud the leaders, and so threaten citizens who are disposed to combat them, and force these to keep their mouths shut."??De Martel, "Fouche," 425. "Javogues, to elude a decree of the Convention (Frimaire 14) suppressing the revolutionary army in the departments, converted the twelve hundred men he had embodied in it in the Loire into paid soldiers."? Ibid., 132. (Letter of Goulin, Bourg, Frimaire 23.) "Yesterday, at Bourg-Regeriere, I found Javogues with about four hundred men of the revolutionary army whom he had brought with him on the 20th instant."]
[Footnote 33149: Buchez et Roux, XXIX., 45.—Moniteur, XX., 67. (Report of Barere, Germinal 7.)—Sauzay, IV., 303. (Orders of Representative Bassal at Besancon.)]
[Footnote 33150: We see by Barere's report (Germinal 7, year II.) that the revolutionary army of Paris, instead of being six thousand men, was only four thousand, which is creditable to Paris.—Mallet-Dupan, II., 52. (cf. "The Revolution," II., 353.)—Gouvion St. Cyr, I., 137. "In these times, the representatives had organized in Haut-Rhin what they called a revolutionary army, composed of deserters and all the vagabonds and scamps they could pick up who had belonged to the popular club; they dragged along after it what they called judges and a guillotine."—"Hua, Souvenirs d'un Avocat," 196.]
[Footnote 33151: Riouffe, "Memoires d'un detenue." P.31.]
[Footnote 33152: Ibid., "These balls were brought out ostentatiously and shown to the people beforehand. The tying of our hands and passing three ropes around our waists did not seem to him sufficient. We kept these irons on the rest of the route, and they were so heavy that, if the carriage had tilted to one side, we should inevitably have had our legs broken. The gate-keepers of the conciergerie of Paris, who had held their places nine-teen years, were astonished at it."]
[Footnote 33153: Archives des Affaires etrangeres, vol.331. (Letter of Haupt, Belfort, Frimaire 13, year II.)]
[Footnote 33154: Ibid. (Letter by Desgranges, Bordeaux, Frimaire 10.)]
[Footnote 33155: Ibid., vol.332. (Letter of Thiberge, Marseilles, Frimaire 14.) "I surrounded the town with my small army."]
[Footnote 33156: Ibid., 331. (Orders of Representative Bassal, Besancon Frimaire 5.) "No citizen shall keep in his house more than four months' supplies.... Every citizen with more than this will deposit the surplus in the granary 'd'abondance' provided for the purpose... . Immediately on receipt of the present order, the municipality will summon all citizens that can thresh and proceed immediately, without delay, to the threshing-ground, under penalty of being prosecuted as refractory to the law.... The revolutionary army is specially charged with the execution of the articles of this order, and the revolutionary tribunals, following this army with the enforcement of the penalties inflicted according to this order."—Other documents show us that the revolutionary army, organized in the department of Doubs and in the five neighboring departments, comprises, in all, two thousand four hundred men. (Ibid., vol., 1411. Letter of Meyenfeld to Minister Desforges, Brumaire 27, year II.)—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 111. (Order of Couthon, Maignet, Chateauneuf, Randon, La Porte and Albitte, Commune-Affranchie, Brumaire 9, year II., establishing in the ten surrounding departments a revolutionary army of one thousand men per department, for the conscription of grain. Each army is to be directed by commissioners, strangers to the department, and is to operate in other departments than in the one where it is raised.)]
[Footnote 33157: Archives des Affaires etrangeres, 331. (Letter of Chepy, Frimaire II.)—Writing one month before this, (Brumaire 6) he says: "The farmers show themselves very hostile against the towns and the law of the maximum. Nothing can be done without a revolutionary army."]
[Footnote 33158: Mercier, "Paris Pendant la Revolution," I., 357.]
[Footnote 33159: Hua, 197. I do not find in any printed or manuscript document but one case of resistance, that of the brothers Chaperon, in the hamlet of Leges, near Sens, who declare that they have no wheat except for their own use, and who defend themselves by the use of a gun. The gendarmerie not being strong enough to overcome them, the tocsin is sounded and the National Guard of Sens and the neighborhood is summoned; bringing cannon, the affair ends with the burning of the house. The two brothers are killed. Before being overcome, however, they had struck down the captain of the National Guard of Sens and killed or wounded nearly forty of their assailants. A surviving brother and a sister are guillotined. (June, 1794. Wallon, IV., 352.)]
[Footnote 33160: Moniteur, XVIII., 663. (Session of Frimaire 24, report by Lecointre.) "The communes of Thieux, Jully and many others were victims to their brigandage."—"The stupor in the country is such that the poor sufferers dare not complain of these vexations because, they say, they are only too lucky to have escaped with their lives."—This time, however, these public brigands made a mistake. Gibbon's son happens to be Lecointre's tenant farmer. Moreover, it is only accidentally that he mentions the circumstance to his landlord; "he came to see him for another purpose."—Cf. "The Revolution," vol. II., 302. (There is a similar scene in the house of one Ruelle, a farmer, in the commune of Lisse.)]
[Footnote 33161: Passim Alfred Lallier, "Le sans-culotte Goullin."—Wallon, "Histoire du Tribunal revolutionnaire de Paris," V., 368. (Deposition of Lacaille.)—In addition to this, the most extraordinary monsters are met with in other administrative bodies, for example, in Nantes, a Jean d'Heron, tailor, who becomes inspector of military stores. "After the rout at Clisson, says the woman Laillet, he appeared in the popular club with a brigand's ear attached to his hat by way of cockade. His pockets were full of ears, which he took delight in making the women kiss. He exposed other things which he made them kiss and the woman Laillet adds certain details which I dare not transcribe." (" Le patriote d'Heron," by L. de la Sicotiere, pp.9 and 10. Deposition of the woman Laillet, fish-dealer, also the testimony of Mellinet, vol. VIII., p.256.)]
[Footnote 33162: Wallon, V., 368. (Deposition of de Laillet.)]
[Footnote 33163: Ibid., V., 37'. (Deposition of Tabouret.)]
[Footnote 33164: Ibid., V., 373. (Deposition of Mariotte.)]
[Footnote 33165: Monieur, XXII., 321. (Deposition of Philippe Troncjolly.)—Berryat Saint-Prix, "La Justice Revolutionnaire," 39.]
[Footnote 33166: Campardon, "Histoire du Tribunal Revolutionnaire," II., 30. They have ten francs a day, and full powers conferred on them. (Orders of Carrier and Francastel, October 28, 1793.) "The representatives.... confer collectively and individually, on each member of the revolutionary company, the right of surveillance over all 'suspect' citizens in Nantes, over strangers who come to or reside there, over monopolists of every sort.... The right to make domiciliary visits wherever they may deem it advisable.... The armed force will everywhere respond to the demands made upon it in the name of the company, or of any individual member composing it."—Berryat Saint-Prix, p. 42.—Alfred Lallier, "Les Noyades de Nantes," p.20. (Deposition of Gauthier.) Ibid., p.22. "Damn," exclaims Carrier, "I kept that execution for Lamberty. I'm sorry that it was done by others."]
[Footnote 33167: Alfred Lallier, ibid., pp.21 and 90.—Cf. Moniteur, XXII., 331. (Deposition of Victoire Abraham.) "The drowners made quite free with the women, even using them for their own purposes when pleased with them, which women, in token of their kindness, enjoyed the precious advantage of not being drowned."]
[Footnote 33168: Campardon, II., 8. (Deposition of Commeret.)—Berryat Saint-Prix, p. 42.-Ibid., p.28. Other agents of Carrier, Fouquet and Lamberty, were condemned specially, "for having saved from national vengeance Madame de Martilly and her maid... They shared the woman Martilly and the maid between them." In connection with the "dainty taste" of Jacobins for silk dresses M. Berryat Saint-Prix cites the following answer of a Jacobin of 1851 to the judge d'instruction of Rheims; on the objection being made to him that the Republic, as he understood it, could not last long, he replied: "Possibly, but say it lasts three months. That's long enough to fill one's pocket and belly and rumple silk dresses?" Another of the same species said in 1871: "We shall anyhow have a week's use of it." Observers of human nature will find analogous details in the history of the Sepoy rebellion in India against the English in 1803, also in the history of the Indians in the United States. The September massacres in Paris and the history of the combat of 1791 and 1792 have already provided us with the same characteristic documents.]
[Footnote 33169: Alfred Lallier, "Les Fusillades de Nantes," P.23. (Depositions of Picard, commander of the National Guards of the escort.—Cf. the depositions of Jean Jounet, paver, and of Henri Ferdinand, joiner.)]
[Footnote 33170: Sauzay, "Histoire de la Persecution Revolutionnaire dans le Departement du Doubs," VII., 687. (Letter of Gregoire, December 24, 1796.) "An approximative calculation makes the number of the authors of so many crimes three hundred thousand, for in each commune there were about five or six of these ferocious brutes who, named Brutus, perfected the art of removing seals, drowning and cutting throats. They consumed immense amounts in constructing 'Mountains,' in reveling, and in fetes every three months which, after the first parade, became parodies, represented by three or four actors in them, and with no audience. These consisted, finally, of a drum-beater and the musical officer; and the latter, ashamed of himself, often concealed his scarf in his pocket, on his way to the Temple of Reason. ... But these 300 000 brigands had 2 or 300 directors, members of the National convention, who cannot be called anything but scoundrels, since the language provides no other epithet so forcible."]
BOOK FOURTH. THE GOVERNED.
CHAPTER I. THE OPPRESSED.
I. Revolutionary Destruction.
Magnitude of revolutionary destructiveness.—The four ways of effecting it.—Expulsion from the country through forced emigration and legal banishment.—Number of those expelled. —Privation of liberty.—Different sorts of imprisonment. —Number and situation of those imprisoned.—Murders after being tried, or without trial.—Number of those guillotined or shot after trial.—Indication of the number of other lives destroyed.—Necessity and plan for wider destruction. —Spoliation.—Its extent.—Squandering.—Utter losses.—Ruin of individuals and the State.—The Notables the most oppressed.
The object of the Jacobin, first of all, is the destruction of his adversaries, avowed or presumed, probable or possible. Four violent measures concur, together or in turn, to bring about the physical or social extermination of all Frenchmen who no longer belong to the sect or the party.
The first operation consists in expelling them from the territory.—Since 1789, they have been chased off through a forced emigration; handed over to jacqueries, or popular uprisings, in the country, and to insurrections in the cities, defenseless and not allowed to defend themselves, three-fourths of them have left France, simply to escape popular brutalities against which neither the law nor the government afforded them any protection. According as the law and the administration, in becoming more Jacobin, became more hostile to them, so did they leave in greater crowds. After the 10th of August and 2nd of September, the flight necessarily was more general; for, henceforth, if any one persisted in remaining after that date it was with the almost positive certainty that he would be consigned to a prison, to await a massacre or the guillotine. About the same time, the law added to the fugitive the banished, all unsworn priests, almost an entire class consisting of nearly 40 000 persons. It is calculated that, on issuing from the reign of Terror, the total number of fugitives and banished) amounted to 150 000 the list would have been still larger, had not the frontier been guarded by patrols and one had to cross it at the risk of one's life; and yet, many do risk their lives in attempting to cross it, in disguise, wandering about at night, in mid-winter, exposed to gunshots, determined to escape cost what it will, into Switzerland, Italy, or Germany, and even into Hungary, in quest of security and the right of praying to God as one pleases.—If any exiled or deported person ventures to return, he is tracked like a wild beast, and, as soon as taken, he is guillotined. For example, M. de Choiseul, and other unfortunates, wrecked and cast ashore on the coast of Normandy, are not sufficiently protected by the law of nations. They are brought before a military commission; saved temporarily through public commiseration, they remain in prison until the First Consul intervenes between them and the homicidal law and consents, through favor, to deport them to the Dutch frontier.—If they have taken up arms against the Republic they are cut off from humanity; a Pandour taken prisoner is treated as a man; an emigre made prisoner is treated like a wolf—they shoot him on the spot. In some cases, even the pettiest legal formalities are dispensed with. "When I am lucky enough to catch 'em," writes Gen. Vandamme, "I do not trouble the military commission to try them. They are already tried—my saber and pistols do their business."
The second operation consists in depriving "suspects" of their liberty, of which deprivation there are several degrees; there are various ways of getting hold of people.—Sometimes, the "suspect" is "adjourned," that is to say, the order of arrest is simply suspended; he lives under a perpetual menace that is generally fulfilled; he never knows in the morning that he will not sleep in a prison that night. Sometimes, he is put on the limits of his commune. Sometimes, he is confined to his house with or without guards, and, in the former case, he is obliged to pay them. Again, finally, and which occurs most frequently, he is shut up in this or that common jail.—In the single department of Doubs, twelve hundred men and women are "adjourned;" three hundred put on the limits of the commune, fifteen hundred confined to their houses, and twenty two hundred imprisoned. In Paris, thirty-six such prisons and more than "violins", or temporary jails, soon filled by the revolutionary committees, do not suffice for the service. It is estimated that, in France, not counting more than 40,000 provisional jails, twelve hundred prisons, full and running over, contain each more than two hundred inmates. At Paris, notwithstanding the daily void created by the guillotine, the number of the imprisoned on Floreal 9, year II., amounts to 7,840; and, on Messidor 25 following, notwithstanding the large batches of 50 and 60 persons led in one day, and every day, to the scaffold, the number is still 7,502. There are more than one thousand persons in the prisons of Arras, more than one thousand five hundred in those of Toulouse, more than three thousand in those of Strasbourg, and more than thirteen thousand in those of Nantes. In the two departments alone of Bouches du-Rhone and Vaucluse, Representative Maignet, who is on the spot, reports from 12,000 to 15,000 arrests. "A little before Thermidor," says Representative Beaulieu, "the number of incarcerated arose to nearly 400,000, as is apparent on the lists and registers then before the Committee of General Security."—Among these poor creatures, there are children, and not alone in the prisons of Nantes where the revolutionary searches have collected the whole of the rural population; in the prisons of Arras, among twenty similar cases, I find a coal-dealer and his wife with their seven sons and daughters, from seventeen down to six years of age; a widow with her four children from nineteen down to twelve years of age; another noble widow with her nine children, from seventeen down to three years of age, and six children, without father or mother, from twenty-three down to nine years of age.—These prisoners of State were treated, almost everywhere, worse than robbers and assassins under the ancient regime. They began by subjecting them to rapiotage, that is to say, stripping them naked or, at best, feeling their bodies under their shirts; women and young girls fainted away under this examination, formerly confined to convicts on entering the bagnio.—Frequently, before consigning them to their dungeons or shutting them up in their cells, they would be left two or three nights pell-mell in a lower hall on benches, or in the court on the pavement, "without beds or straw." "The feelings are wounded in all directions, every point of sensibility, so to say, being played upon. They are deprived one after the other of their property, assignats, furniture, and food, of daylight and lamp-light, of the assistance which their wants and infirmities demand, of a knowledge of public events, of all communication, either immediate or written, with fathers, sons and husbands." They are obliged to pay for their lodgings, their keepers, and for what they eat; they are robbed at their very doors of the supplies they send for outside; they are compelled to eat at a mess-table; they are furnished with scant and nauseous food, "spoilt codfish, putrid herrings and meat, rotten vegetables, all this accompanied with a mug of Seine water colored red with some drug or other." They starve them, bully them, and vex them purposely as if they meant to exhaust their patience and drive them into a revolt, so as to get rid of them in a mass, or, at least, to justify the increasing rapid strokes of the guillotine. They are huddled together in tens, twenties and thirties, in one room at La Force, "eight in a chamber, fourteen feet square," where all the beds touch, and many overlap each other, where two out of the eight inmates are obliged to sleep on the floor, where vermin swarm, where the closed sky-lights, the standing tub, and the crowding together of bodies poisons the atmosphere.—In many places, the proportion of the sick and dying is greater than in the hold of a slave-ship. "Of ninety individuals with whom I was shut up two months ago," writes a prisoner at Strasbourg, "sixty-six were taken to the hospital in the space of eight days." In the prisons of Nantes, 3000 out 13,000 prisoners die of typhoid fever and of the rot in two months. 400 priests confined on a vessel between decks, in the roadstead of Aix, stowed on top of each other, wasted with hunger, eaten up by vermin, suffocated for lack of air, half-frozen, beaten, mocked at, and constantly threatened with death, suffer still more than Negroes in a slave-hold; for, through interest in his freight, the captain of the slaver tries to keep his human consignment in good health, whilst, through revolutionary fanaticism, the crew of the Aix vessel detests its cargo of "black-frocks" and would gladly send them to the bottom.—According to this system, which, up to Thermidor 9, grows worse and worse, imprisonment becomes a torture, oftentimes mortal, slower and more painful than the guillotine, and to such an extent that, to escape it, Champfort opens his veins and Condorcet swallows poison.The third expedient consists of murder, with or without trial.—178 tribunals, of which 40 are ambulatory, pronounce in every part of the territory sentences of death which are immediately executed on the spot. Between April 6, 1793, and Thermidor 9, year II., (July 27th, 1794) that of Paris has 2,625 persons guillotined, while the provincial judges do as much work as the Paris judges. In the small town of Orange alone, they guillotine 331 persons. In the single town of Arras they have 299 men and 93 women guillotined. At Nantes, the revolutionary tribunals and military committees have, on the average, 100 persons a day guillotined, or shot, in all 1,971. In the city of Lyons the revolutionary committee admit 1,684, while Cadillot, one of Robespierre's correspondents, advises him of 6,000.—The statement of these murders is not complete, but 17,000 have been enumerated, "most of them effected without any formality, evidence or direct charge," among others the murder of "more than 1200 women, several of whom were octogenarians and infirm;" particularly the murder of 60 women or young girls, condemned to death, say the warrants, for having attended the services of unsworn priests, or for having neglected the services of a sworn priest.
"The accused, ranged in order, were condemned at sight. Hundreds of death-sentences took about a minute per head. Children of seven, five and four years of age, were tried. A father was condemned for the son, and the son for the father. A dog was sentenced to death. A parrot was brought forward as a witness. Numbers of accused persons whose sentences could not be written out were executed."
At Angers, the sentences of over four hundred men and three hundred and sixty women, executed for the purpose of relieving the prisons, were mentioned on the registers simply by the letters S or G (shot or guillotined). At Paris, as in the provinces, the slightest pretext served to constitute a crime. The daughter of the celebrated painter, Joseph Vernet, was guillotined for being a " receiver," for having kept fifty pounds of candles in her house, distributed among the employees of La Muette by the liquidators of the civil list. Young de Maille, aged sixteen years, was guillotined as a conspirator, "for having thrown a rotten herring in the face of his jailer, who had served it to him to eat." Madame de Puy-Verin was guillotined as "guilty" because she had not taken away from her deaf, blind and senile husband a bag of card-counters, marked with the royal effigy.—In default of any pretext, there was the supposition of a conspiracy; blank lists were given to paid emissaries, who undertook to search the various prisons and select the requisite number of heads; they wrote names down on them according to their fancy, and these provided the batches for the guillotine.
"As for myself," said the juryman Vilate, "I am never embarrassed. I am always convinced. In a revolution, all who appear before this tribunal ought to be condemned."—
At Marseilles, the Brutus Commission, "sentencing without public prosecutor or jurymen, sent to the prisons for those it wished to put to death. After having demanded their names, professions and wealth they were sent down to a cart standing at the door of the Palais de Justice; the judges then stepped out on the balcony and pronounced the death-sentence." The same proceedings took place at Cambrai, Arras, Nantes, Le Mans, Bordeaux, Nimes, Lyons, Strasbourg, and elsewhere.—Evidently, the judicial comedy is simply a parade; they make use of it as one of the respectable means, among others less respectable, to exterminate people whose opinions are not what they should be, or who belong to the proscribed classes; Samson, at Paris, and his colleagues in the provinces, the execution-platoons of Lyons and Nantes, are simply the collaborators of murderers properly so called, while legal massacres complete other massacres pure and simple.
Of this latter description, the fusillades of Toulon come first, where the number of those who are shot largely surpasses one thousand; next the great drownings of Nantes, in which 4,800 men, women and children perished, the other drownings, for which no figures may be given; then the countless popular murders committed in France between July 14, 1789, and August 10, 1792; the massacre of one 1,300 prisoners in Paris, in September, 1792; the long train of assassinations which, in July, August and September, 1789, extends over the entire territory; finally, the dispatch of the prisoners, either shot or sabered, without trial at Lyons and in the West. Even excepting those who had died fighting or who, taken with arms in their hands, were shot down or sabered on the spot, there were 10,000 persons slaughtered without trial in the province of Anjou alone: accordingly, the instructions of the Committee of Public Safety, also the written orders of Carrier and Francastel, direct generals to "bleed freely" the insurgent districts, and spare not a life: it is estimated that, in the eleven western departments, the dead of both sexes and of all ages exceeded 400,000.—Considering the program and principles of the Jacobin sect this is no great number; they might have killed a good many more. But time was wanting; during their short reign they did what they could with the instrument in their hands. Look at their machine, the gradual construction of its parts, the successive stages of its operation from its starting up to Thermidor 9, and see how limited the period of its operation was. Organized March 30 and April 6, 1793, the Revolutionary Committees and the Revolutionary Tribunal had but seventeen months in which to do their work. They did not drive ahead with all their might until after the fall of the Girondists, and especially after September, 1763 that is to say for a period of eleven months. Its loose wheels were not screwed up and the whole was not in running order under the impulse of the central motor until after December, 1793, that is to say during eight months. Perfected by the law of Prairial 22, it works for the past two months, faster and better than before, with an energy and rapidity that increase from week to week.—At that date, and even before it, the theorists have taken the bearings of their destinies and accepted the conditions of their undertaking. Being sectarians, they have a faith, and as orthodoxy tolerates no heresy, and as the conversion of heretics is never sincere or durable, heresy can be suppressed only by suppressing heretics. "It is only the dead," said Barere, Messidor 16, "who never return." On the 2nd and 3rd of Thermidor, the Committee of Public Safety sends to Fouquier-Tinville a list of four hundred and seventy-eight accused persons with orders "to bring the parties named to trial at once." Baudot and Jean Bon St. Andre, Carrier, Antonelle and Guifroy, had already estimated the lives to be taken at several millions and, according to Collot d' Herbois, who had a lively imagination, "the political perspiration should go on freely, and not stop until from twelve to fifteen million Frenchmen had been destroyed."
To make amends, in the fourth and last division of their work, that is to say, in spoliation, they went to the last extreme: they did all that could be done to ruin individuals, families and the State; whatever could be taken, they took.—The Constituent and Legislative Assemblies had, on their side, begun the business by abolishing tithes and all feudal rights without indemnity, and by confiscating all ecclesiastical property; the Jacobin operators continue and complete the job; we have seen by what decrees and with what hostility against collective and individual property, whether they attribute to the State the possession of all corporations whatever, even laic, such as colleges, schools and scientific or literary societies, hospitals and communes, or whether they despoil individuals, indirectly through assignats and the maximum, or directly through the forced loan, revolutionary taxes, seizures of gold and silver coin, requisitions of common useful utensils, sequestrations of prisoners' property, confiscations of the possessions of emigrants and exiles and of those deported or condemned to death. No capital invested in real or personal property, no income in money or produce, whatever its source, whether leases, mortgages, private credits, pensions, agricultural, industrial or commercial gains, the fruits of economy or labor, from the farmers', the manufacturers' and the merchant's stores to the robes, coats, shirts and shoes, even to the beds and bed-rooms of private individuals—nothing escapes their rapacious grasp: in the country, they carry off even seed reserved for planting; at Strasbourg and in the Upper Rhine, all kitchen utensils; in Auvergne and elsewhere, even the shepherd's pots. Every object of value, even those not in public use, comes under requisition: for instance, the Revolutionary Committee of Bayonne seizes a lot of "cotton cloth and muslin," under the pretext of making "breeches for the country's defenders." On useful objects being taken it is not always certain that they will be utilized; between their seizure and putting them to service, robbery and waste intervene. At Strasbourg, on a requisition being threatened by the representatives, the inhabitants strip themselves and, in a few days, bring to the municipality "6,879 coats, breeches and vests, 4,767 pairs of stockings, 16,921 pairs of shoes, 863 pairs of boots, 1351 cloaks, 20,518 shirts, 4,524 hats, 523 pairs of gaiters, 143 skin vests, 2,673, 900 blankets, besides 29 quintals of lint, 21 quintals of old linen, and a large number of other articles."
But "most of these articles remain piled up in the storehouses, part of them rotten, or eaten by rats, the rest being abandoned to the first-comer.... The end of spoliation was attained."—Utter loss to individuals and no gain, or the minimum of a gain, to the State. Such is the net result of the revolutionary government. After having laid its hand on three-fifths of the landed property of France; after having wrested from communities and individuals from ten to twelve billions of real and personal estate; after having increased, through assignats and territorial warrants, the public debt, which was not five billions in 1789, to more than fifty billions; no longer able to pay its employees; reduced to supporting its armies as well as itself by forced contributions on conquered territories, it ends in bankruptcy; it repudiates two-thirds of its debt, and its credit is so low that the remaining third which it has consolidated and guaranteed afresh, loses eighty-three per cent. the very next day. In its hands, the State has itself suffered as much as the private individuals.—Of the latter, more than 1 200 000 have suffered physically: several millions, all who owned anything, great or small, have suffered through their property. But, in this multitude of the oppressed, it is the notables who are chiefly aimed at and who, in their possessions as well as in their persons, have suffered the most.
II. The Value of Notables in Society.
Various kinds and degrees of Notables in 1789.—The great social staff.—Men of the world.—Their breeding.—Their intellectual culture.—Their humanity and philanthropy. —Their moral temper.—Practical men.—Where recruited,—Their qualifications.—Their active benevolence.—Scarcity of them and their worth to a community.
On estimating the value of a forest you begin by dividing its vegetation into two classes; on the one hand the full-grown trees, the large or medium-sized oaks, beeches and aspens, and, on the other, the saplings and the undergrowth. In like manner, in estimating society, you divide the individuals composing it into two groups, one consisting of its notables of every kind and degree, and the other, of the common run of men. If the forest is an old one and has not been too badly managed, nearly the whole of its secular growth is found in its clusters of full-grown trees. Nearly all the useful wood is to be found in the mature forest. A few thousand large handsome trees and the three or four hundred thousand saplings, young and old, of the reserve, contain more useful and valuable wood than the twenty or thirty millions shrubs, bushes and heathers put together. It is the same in a community which has existed for a long time under a tolerably strict system of justice and police; almost the entire gain of a secular civilization is found concentrated in its notables, which, taking it all in all, was the state of French society in 1789.
Let us first consider the most prominent personages.—It is certain, that, among the aristocracy, the wealthiest and most conspicuous families had ceased to render services proportionate to the cost of their maintenance. Most of the seigniors and ladies of the Court, the worldly bishops, abbes, and parliamentarians of the drawing-room, knew but little more than how to solicit with address, make a graceful parade of themselves and spend lavishly. An ill-understood system of culture had diverted them from their natural avocations, and converted them into showy and agreeable specimens of vegetation, often hollow, blighted, sapless and over-pruned, besides being very costly, over-manured and too freely watered; and the skillful gardening which shaped, grouped and arranged them in artificial forms and bouquets, rendered their fruit abortive that flowers might be multiplied.—But the flowers were exquisite, and even in a moralist's eyes, such flowering counts for something. On the side of civility, good-breeding and deportment, the manners and customs of high life had reached a degree of perfection, which never, in France or elsewhere, had been attained before, and which has never since been revived; and of all the arts through which men have emancipated themselves from primitive coarseness, that which teaches them mutual consideration is, perhaps, the most precious. The observance of this, not alone in the drawing-room, but in the family, in business, in the street, with regard to relatives, inferiors, servants and strangers, gives dignity, as well as a charm, to human intercourse. Delicate regard for what is proper becomes a habit, an instinct, a second nature, which nature, superimposed on the original nature, is the best, inasmuch as the internal code which governs each detail of action and speech, prescribes the standard of behavior and respect for oneself, as well as respect and refined behavior towards others.—To this merit, add mental culture. Never was there an aristocracy so interested in general ideas and refinement of expression; it was even too much so; literary and philosophical preoccupation excluded all others of the positive and practical order; they talked, instead of acting. But, in this limited circle of speculative reason and of pure literary forms, it excelled; writings and how to write furnished the ordinary entertainment of polite society; every idea uttered by a thinker caused excitement in the drawing-room: the talent and style of authors were shaped by its taste; it was in the drawing-rooms that Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, d'Alembert, the Encyclopedists, great and little, Beaumarchais, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Champfort, and Rivarol, involuntarily sought listeners and found them, not merely admirers and entertainers, but friends, protectors, patrons, benefactors and followers.—Under the instruction of the masters, the disciples had become philanthropists; moreover, the amenities of manners developed in all souls compassion and benevolence: "Nothing was more dreaded by opulent men than to be regarded as insensitive." They concerned themselves with children, with the poor, with the peasantry, setting their wits to work to afford them relief; their zeal was aroused against oppression, their pity was excited for every misfortune. Even those whose duties compelled them to be rigid tempered their rigidity with explanations or concessions.
"Ten years before the Revolution," says Roederer, "the criminal courts of France were no longer like before.... Their attitude had changed.. . All the young magistrates, and this I can bear witness to, for I was one myself, pronounced judgments more in accordance with the principles of Beccaria, than according to law."—
As to the men in authority, military administrators and commandants, it was impossible to be more patient, more mindful of human blood. Their qualities turned also here into defects, for, through excess of humanity, they were unable to maintain order, as is evident when facing the insurrections that took place between 1789 and 1792. Even with the force in their own hands, amidst gross insults and extreme dangers, they dreaded to make use of it; they could not bring themselves to repressing brutes, rascals and maniacs: following the example of Louis XVI., they considered themselves as shepherds of the people, and let themselves be trampled upon rather than fire upon their flock.—In reality, they had noble, and even generous and big hearts: in the bailiwick assemblies, in March, 1789, long before the night of August 4, they voluntarily surrendered every pecuniary privilege; under severe trials, their courage, heightened by polished manners, adds even to their heroism, elegance, tact and gaiety. The most corrupt, a Duke of Orleans, the most frivolous and the most blase, a Duc de Biron, meet death with stoical coolness and disdain. Delicate women who complain of a draught in their drawing-rooms, make no complaint of a straw mattress in a damp, gloomy dungeon, where they sleep in their clothes so that they may not wake up stiffened, and they come down into the court of the Conciergerie with their accustomed cheerfulness. Men and women, in prison, dress themselves as formerly, with the same care, that they may meet and talk together with the same grace and spirit, in a corridor with an iron grating within a step of the revolutionary Tribunal, and on the eve of the scaffold.—This moral temper is evidently of the rarest; if it errs on either side it is on that of being too refined, bad for use, good for ornament.
And yet, in the upper class there were associated with two or three thousand idlers amongst a frivolous aristocracy, as many serious men, who, to their drawing-room experience, added experience in business. Almost all who held office or had been in the service, were of this number, either ambassadors, general officers or former ministers, from Marshal de Brogue down to Machaut and Malesherbes; resident bishops, like Monseigneur de Durfort, at Besancon; vicars-general and canons who really governed their dioceses on the spot; prelates, like those in Provence, Languedoc and Brittany, who, by right, had seats in the provincial "Etats", agents and representatives of the clergy at Paris; heads of Orders and Congregations; the chief and lieutenant commandants of the seventeen military departments, intendants of each generalite head-clerks of each ministry, magistrates of each parliament, farmers-general, collectors-general, and, more particularly in each province, the dignitaries and local proprietors of the two first orders, and all leading manufacturers, merchants, ship-owners, bankers and prominent bourgeois; in short, that elite of the nobles, clergy, and Third Estate, which, from 1778 to 1789, constituted the twenty-one provincial assemblies, and which certainly formed in France the great social staff.—Not that they were superior politicians: for in those days there were none, scarcely a few hundred competent men, almost all of them being specialists. Nevertheless, it was in these few men that nearly the entire political capacity, information and common sense of France was to be found. Outside of their heads the other twenty-six millions of brains contained but little else than dangerous and barren formulas; as they alone had commanded, negotiated, deliberated and governed, they were the only ones who understood men and things tolerably well, and, consequently, the only ones who were not completely disqualified for their management. In the provincial Assemblies they were seen originating and conducting the most important reforms; they had devoted themselves to these effectively and conscientiously, with as much equity and patriotism as intelligence and thoroughness; most of the heads and sub-heads of the leading public and private branches of the service, guided by philosophy and supported by current opinion for twenty years, had likewise given evidence of active benevolence.—Nothing is more precious than men of this stamp, for they are the life and soul of their respective branches of service, and are not to be replaced in one lot, at a given moment, by persons of equal merit. In diplomacy, in the finances, in judicature, in administration, in extensive commerce and large manufacturing, a practical, governing capacity is not created in a day; affairs in all these are too vast and too complicated; there are too many diverse interests to take into account, too many near and remote contingencies to foresee; lacking a knowledge of technical details, it is difficult to grasp the whole; one tries to make short work of it, one shatters right and left and ends with the sword, obliged to fall back on systematic brutality to complete the work of audacious bungling. Except in war, where apprenticeship takes less time than elsewhere, ten years of preparatory education plus ten years of practical experience are required for the good government of men and the management of capital assets. Add to this, against the temptations of power which are strong, a stability of character established through professional honor, and, if it so happens, by family traditions.
After having directed financial matters for two years, Cambon is not yet aware that the functions of the fermiers-generaux of indirect taxes differ from those of the receveurs-generaux of direct taxes; accordingly, he includes, or allows to be included, the forty-eight receveurs in the decree which sends the sixty fermiers before the revolutionary Tribunal, that is to say, to the guillotine; and, in fact, all of them would have been sent there had not a man familiar with the business, Gaudin, Commissioner of the Treasury, heard the decree proclaimed in the street and run to explain to the Committee on Finances that "there was nothing in common" between the two groups of outlaws; that the fermiers were holders of leases on probable profits while the receveurs were paid functionaries at a fixed salary, and the crimes of the former, proved or not proved, were not imputable to the latter. Great astonishment on the part of these improvised financiers!"They make an outcry," says Gaudin, "and assert that I am mistaken. I insist, and repeat what I have told the President, Cambon; I affirm on says to one of the members, 'Since that is so, go to the bureau of proces-verbaux and scratch out the term receveurs-generaux from the decree passed this morning.' my honor and offer to furnish them the proof of it; finally, they are satisfied and the President "—Such are the gross blunders committed by interlopers, and even carried out, when not warned and restrained by veterans in the service. Cambon, accordingly, in spite of the Jacobins, retains in his bureaux all whom he can among veteran officials. If Carnot manages the war well, it is owing to his being himself an educated officer and to maintaining in their positions d'Arcon, d'Obenheim, de Grimoard, de Montalembert and Marescot, all eminent men bequeathed to him by the ancient regime. Reduced, before the 9th of Thermidor, to perfect nullity, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not again to become useful and active until the professional diplomats, Miot, Colchen, Otto and Reinhart, resume their ascendancy and influence. It is a professional diplomat, Barthelemy, who, after the 9th of Thermidor, really directs the foreign policy of the Convention, and brings about the peace of Basle.
III. The three classes of Notables.
The Nobility.—Its physical and moral preparation through feats of arms.—The military spirit.—High character. —Conduct of officers in 1789-1792.—Service for which these nobles were adapted.
Three classes, the nobles, the clergy and the bourgeoisie, provided this superior elite, and, compared with the rest of the nation, they themselves formed an elite.—Thirty thousand gentlemen, scattered through the provinces, had been brought up from infancy to the profession of arms; generally poor, they lived on their rural estates without luxuries, comforts or curiosity, in the society of wood-rangers and game-keepers, frugally and with rustic habits, in the open air, in such a way as to ensure robust constitutions. A child, at six years of age, mounted a horse; he followed the hounds, and hardened himself against inclemencies; afterwards, in the academies, he rendered his limbs supple by exercise and obtained that rugged health which is necessary for living under a tent and following a campaign. From early childhood, he was imbued with a military spirit; his father and uncles at table talked of nothing but their perils in war and feats of arms; his imagination took fire; he got accustomed to looking upon their pursuits as the only ones worthy of a man of rank and feeling, and he plunged ahead with a precocity which we no longer comprehend. I have read many records of the service of gentlemen who were assassinated, guillotined or emigres; they nearly always began their careers before the age of sixteen, often at fourteen, thirteen and eleven. M. des Echerolles, captain in the Poitou regiment, had brought along with him into the army his only son, aged nine, and a dozen little cousins of the same age. Those children fought like old soldiers; one of them had his leg fractured by a ball; young des Echerolles received a saber stroke which cut away his cheek from the ear to the upper lip, and he was wounded seven times; still young, he received the cross of St. Louis. To serve the State, seek conflict and expose one's life, seemed an obligation of their rank, a hereditary debt; out of nine or ten thousand officers who discharged this debt most of them cared only for this and looked for nothing beyond. Without fortune and without influence, they had renounced promotion, fully aware that the higher ranks were reserved for the heirs of great families and the courtiers at Versailles. After serving fifteen or twenty years, they returned home with a captain's commission and the cross of St. Louis, sometimes with a small pension, contented with having done their duty and conscious of their own honor. On the approach of the Revolution, this old spirit, illumined by the new ideas, became an almost civic virtue: we have seen how they behaved between 1789 and 1792, their moderation, their forbearance, their sacrifice of self-love, their abnegation and their stoical impassability, their dislike to strike, the coolness with which they persisted in receiving without returning blows, and in maintaining, if not public order, at least the last semblance of it. Patriots as much as soldiers, through birth, education and conviction, they formed a natural, special nursery, eminently worthy of preserving, inasmuch as it furnished society with ready-made instruments for defense, internally against rascals and brutes, and externally against the enemy. Less calm in disposition and more given to pleasure than the rural nobles of Prussia, under slacker discipline and in the midst of greater worldliness, but more genial, more courteous and more liberal-minded, the twenty-six thousand noble families of France upheld in their sons the traditions and prejudices, the habits and aptitudes, those energies of body, heart and mind through which the Prussian "junkers" were able to constitute the Prussian army, organize the German army and make Germany the first power of Europe.
IV. The Clergy.
Where recruited.—Professional inducements.—Independence of ecclesiastics.—Their substantial merits.—Their theoretical and practical information.—Their distribution over the territory.—Utility of their office.—Their conduct in 1790-1800.—Their courage, their capacity for self-sacrifice.
Likewise in the Church where nearly all its staff, the whole of the lower and middle-class clergy, cures, vicars, canons and collegiate chaplains, teachers or directors of schools, colleges and seminaries, more than sixty-five thousand ecclesiastics, formed a healthy, well organized body, worthily fulfilling its duties.
"I do not know," says de Tocqueville, "all in all, and notwithstanding the vices of some of its members, if there ever was in the world a more remarkable clergy than the Catholic clergy of France when the Revolution took them by surprise, more enlightened, more national, less entrenched behind their private virtues, better endowed with public virtues, and, at the same time, more strong in the faith. ... I began the study of the old social system full of prejudices against them; I finish it full of respect for them."
And first, which is a great point, most of the incumbents in the town parishes, in the three hundred collegial churches, in the small canonicates of the cathedral chapters, belonged to better families than at the present day. Children were then more numerous, not merely among the peasants, but among the inferior nobles and the upper bourgeoisie; each family, accordingly, was glad to have one of its sons take orders, and no constraint was necessary to bring this about. The ecclesiastical profession then had attractions which it no longer possesses; it had none of the inconveniences incident to it at the present time. A priest was not exposed to democratic distrust and hostility; he was sure of a bow from the laborer in the street as well as from the peasant in the country; he was on an equal footing with the local bourgeoisie, almost one of the family, and among the first; he could count on passing his life in a permanent situation, honorably and serenely, in the midst of popular deference and enjoying the good will of the public.—On the other hand, he was not bridled as in our day. A priest was not a functionary salaried by the State; his pay, like his private income, earmarked and put aside beforehand, furnished through special appropriations, through local taxes, out of a distinct treasury, could never be withheld on account of a prefect's report, or through ministerial caprice, or be constantly menaced by budget difficulties and the ill-will of the civil powers. In relation to his ecclesiastical superiors he was respectful but independent. The bishop in his diocese was not what he has become since the Concordat, an absolute sovereign free to appoint and remove at will nine cures out of ten. In three vacancies out of four, and often in fourteen out of fifteen, it was not the bishop who made the appointment; the new incumbent was designated sometimes by the cathedral chapter or corporation; again, by a collegial church or corporation; again, by the metropolitan canon or by the abbe or prior, the patron of the place; again, by the seignior whose ancestors had founded or endowed the Church; in certain cases by the Pope, and, occasionally, by the King or commune. Powers were limited through this multiplicity and inter-crossing of authorities. Moreover, the canon or cure being once appointed he possessed guarantees; he could not be arbitrarily dismissed; in most cases, his removal or suspension required a previous trial according to prescribed formalities, accompanied with an examination, pleadings, and arguments before the officialite or ecclesiastical court. He was, in fact, permanently placed, and very generally his personal merit sufficed to keep him in his place.—For, if the highest positions were bestowed according to birth and favor, the intermediate positions were reserved to correct habits and attainments. Many canons and vicars-general, and almost all the cures in the towns were doctors of divinity or of canon law, while ecclesiastical studies, very thorough, had occupied eight or nine years of their youth. Although the method was out of date, much was learned at the Sorbonne and St. Sulpice; at the very least, one became a good logician through prolonged and scientific intellectual gymnastics. "My dear Abbe," said Turgot, smiling, to Morellet, "it is only you and I who have taken our degree who can reason closely." Their theological drill, indeed, was about as valuable as our philosophical drill; if it expanded the mind less, it supplied this better with applicable concepts; less exciting, it was more fruitful. In the Sorbonne of the nineteenth century, the studies consist of the speculative systems of a few isolated, divergent intellects who have exercised no authority over the multitude, while in the Sorbonne of the eighteenth century, the studies consisted of the creed, morality, discipline, history and canons of a Church which had already existed seventeen centuries and which, comprising one hundred and fifty millions of souls, still sways one-half of the civilized world.—To a theoretical education add practical education. A cure and with still more reason, a canon, an archdeacon, a bishop, was not a passing stranger, endowed by the State, wearing a surplice, as little belonging to his age through his ministry as through his dress, and wholly confined to his spiritual functions: he managed the revenues of his dotation, he granted leases, made repairs, built, and interested himself in the probabilities of the crops, in the construction of a highway or canal, while his experiences in these matters were equal to those of any lay proprietor. Moreover, being one of a small proprietary corporation, that is to say, a chapter or local vestry, and one of a great proprietary corporation of the diocese and Church of France, he took part directly or indirectly in important temporal affairs, in assemblies, in deliberations, in collective expenditures, in the establishment of a local budget and of a general budget, and hence, in public and administrative matters, his competence was analogous and almost equal to that of a mayor, sub-delegate, farmer-general or intendant. In addition to this he was liberal: never has the French clergy been more earnestly so, from the latest cures back to the first archbishops.—Lastly, remark the distribution of the clergy over the territory. There was a cure or vicar in the smallest of the forty thousand villages. In thousands of small, poor, remote communes, he was the only man who could readily read and write; none other than he in many of the larger rural communes, except the resident seignior and some man of the law or half-way schoolmaster, was at all learned. Actually, for a man who had finished his studies and knowing Latin, to consent, for six hundred francs or three hundred francs a year, to live isolated, and a celibate, almost in indigence, amongst rustics and the poor, he must be a priest; the quality of his office makes him resigned to the discomforts of his situation. A preacher of the Word, a professor of morality, a minister of Charity, a guide and dispenser of spiritual life, he taught a theory of the world, at once consoling and self-denying, which he enforced with a cult, and this cult was the only one adapted to his flock; manifestly, the French, especially those devoted to manual and hard labor, could not regard this world as ideal, except through his formulas; history, the supreme judge, had on this point rendered its verdict without appeal; no heresy, no schism, not the Reformation nor Jansenism, had prevailed against hereditary faith; through infinitely multiplied and deeply penetrating roots this faith suited national customs, temperament, and peculiar social imagination and sensibility. Possessing the heart, the intellect, and even the senses, through fixed, immemorial traditions and habits, it had become an unconscious, almost corporeal necessity, and the Catholic orthodox cure, in communion with the Pope, was about as indispensable to the village as the public fountain; he also quenched thirst, the thirst of the soul; without him, the inhabitants could find no drinkable water. And, if we keep human weaknesses in mind, it may be said that nobleness of character in the clergy corresponded with nobleness of profession; in all points no one could dispute their capacity for self-sacrifice, for they willingly suffered for what they believed to be the truth. If, in 1790, a number of priests took the oath to the civil constitution of the clergy, it was with reservations, or because they deemed the oath licit; but, after the dismissal of the bishops and the Pope's disapprobation, many of them withdrew it at the risk of their lives, so as not to fall into schism; they fell back into the ranks and gave themselves up voluntarily to the brutality of the crowd and the rigors of the law. Moreover, and from the start, notwithstanding threats and temptations, two-thirds of the clergy would not take the oath; in the highest ranks, among the mundane ecclesiastics whose skepticism and laxity were notorious, honor, in default of faith, maintained the same spirit; nearly the whole of them, great and small, had subordinated their interests, welfare and security to the maintenance of their dignity or to scruples of conscience. They had allowed themselves to be stripped of everything; they let themselves be exiled, imprisoned, tortured and made martyrs of, like the Christians of the primitive church; through their invincible meekness, they were going, like the primitive Christians, to exhaust the rage of their executioners, wear out persecutions, transform opinion and compel the admission, even with those who survived in the eighteenth century, that they were true, deserving and courageous men.
V. The Bourgeoisie.
Where recruited.—Difference between the functionary of the ancient regime and the modern functionary.—Appointments seen as Property.—Guilds.—Independence and security of office-holders.—Their ambitions are limited and satisfied. —Fixed habits, seriousness and integrity.—Ambition to secure esteem.—Intellectual culture.—Liberal ideas. —Respectability and public zeal.—Conduct of the bourgeoisie in 1789-1791.
Below the nobles and the clergy, a third class of notables, the bourgeoisie, almost entirely confined to the towns, verged on the former classes through its upper circles, while its diverse groups, ranging from the parliamentarian to the rich merchant or manufacturer, comprised the remainder of those who were tolerably well educated, say 100 000 families, recruited on the same conditions as the bourgeoisie of the present day: they were "bourgeois living nobly," meaning by this, living on their incomes, large manufacturers and traders, engaged in liberal pursuits-lawyers, notaries, procureurs, physicians, architects, engineers, artists, professors, and especially the government officials; the latter, however, very numerous, differed from ours in two essential points. On the one hand, their office, as nowadays with the notaries' etude, or a membership of the stock-board, was personal property. Their places, and many others, such as posts in the judiciary, in the finances, in bailiwicks, in the Presidial, in the Election, in the salt-department, in the customs, in the Mint, in the department of forests and streams, in presidencies, in councils, as procureurs du roi in various civil, administrative and criminal courts, holding places in the treasury, auditors and collectors of the various branches of the revenue—all of which offices, and many others, had been alienated for more than a century by the State in return for specified sums of ready money; thenceforth, they fell into the hands of special purchasers; the title of each possessor was as good as that of a piece of real property, and he could legally sell his title, the same as he had bought it, at a given price, on due advertisement! On the other hand, the different groups of local functionaries in each town formed their own associations, similar to our notarial chambers, or those of our stock-brokers; these small associations had their own by-laws, meetings and treasury, frequently a civil status and the right of pleading, often a political status and the right of electing to the municipal council; consequently, besides his personal interests, each member cherished the professional interests of his guild. Thus was his situation different from what it now is, and, through a natural reaction, his character, manners and tastes were different. First, he was much more independent; he was not afraid of being discharged or transferred elsewhere, suddenly, unawares, on the strength of an intendant's report, for political reasons, to make room for a deputy's candidate or a minister's tool. This would have cost too much it would have required first of all a reimbursement of the sum paid for his office, and at a rate of purchase ten times, at least, the revenue of the office. Besides, in defending himself, in protesting against and forestalling his disgrace, he would have been supported by his entire professional guild, oftentimes by other similar bodies, and frequently by the whole town, filled with his relations, clients and comrades. The entire hive protected the bee against the caprices of favoritism and the brutalities of despotism. At Paris, a certain procureur, supported by his colleagues, is known to have imposed on a noble who had insulted him, the most humiliating atonement. In fact, under the ancient regime, it was almost impossible for a functionary to be removed; hence, he could fulfill his duties securely and with dignity, without being obliged to keep daily watch of the capital, of going to Paris to see how the official wind blew, to look after all the influences in his favor, to nurse his relations with the government and live like a bird on a branch.—In the second place, there was a limit to his ambition; he did not keep constantly thinking of mounting a step higher in the hierarchy; or how to pass from a small town to a large one and hold on to his title; this would have been a too troublesome and complicated matter; he would first have had to find a purchaser and then sell his place, and next find a seller and buy another at a higher price; a stock broker at Bordeaux, a notary at Lyons, is not an aspirant for the post of stock broker or notary at Paris.—Nothing then bore any resemblance to the itinerant groups of functionaries of the present day which, in obedience to orders from above, travels about governing each of our towns, strangers on the wing, with no personal standing, without local landed property, interests or means, encamped in some hired apartment, often in a furnished room, sometimes stopping at a hotel, eternal nomads awaiting a telegram, always prepared to pack up and leave for another place a hundred leagues off in consideration of a hundred crowns extra pay, and doing the same detached work over again. Their predecessor, belonging to the country, was a stable fixture and contented; he was not tormented by a craving for promotion; he had a career within the bounds of his corporation and town; cherishing no wish or idea of leaving it, he accommodated himself to it; he became proud of his office and professional brethren, and rose above the egoism of the individual; his self-love was bent on maintaining every prerogative and interest belonging to his guild. Established for life in his native town, in the midst of old colleagues, numerous relatives and youthful companions, he esteemed their good opinion. Exempt from vexatious or burdensome taxes, tolerably well off, owning at least his own office, he was above sordid preoccupations and common necessities. Used to old fashioned habits of simplicity, soberness and economy, he was not tormented by a disproportion between his income and expenses, by the requirements of show and luxury, by the necessity of annually adding to his revenue.—Thus guided and free, the instincts of vanity and generosity, the essence of French character, took the ascendant; the councilor or comptroller, the King's agent, regarded himself as a man above the common run, as a noble of the Third-Estate; he thought less of making money than of gaining esteem; his chief desire was to be honored and honorable; "he passed life comfortably and was looked up to,... in the discharge of his duty,... with no other ambition than to transmit to his children.... along with their inheritance an unsullied reputation." Among the other groups of the bourgeoisie the same corporate system, the same settled habits, the same security, the same frugality, the same institutions, the same customs, promoted the growth of nearly the same sentiments, while the intellectual culture of these men was not insignificant. Having leisure, they were given to reading; as they were not overwhelmed with newspapers they read books worth reading; I have found in old libraries in the provinces, in the houses of the descendants of a manufacturer or lawyer in a small town, complete editions of Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Buffon and Condillac, with marks in each volume showing that the volume had been read by someone in the house before the close of the eighteenth century. Nowhere else, likewise, had all that was sound and liberal in the philosophy of the eighteenth century found such a welcome; it is from this class that the patriots of 1789 were recruited; it had furnished not only the majority of the Constituent Assembly, but again all the honest men who, from July, 1789 to the end of 1791 performed their administrative duties so disinterestedly, and with such devotion and zeal, amidst so many difficulties, dangers and disappointments. Composed of Feuillants or Monarchists, possessing such types of men as Huez of Troyes or Dietrich of Strasbourg, and for representatives such leaders as Lafayette and Bailly, it comprised the superior intelligence and most substantial integrity of the Third-Estate. It is evident that, along with the nobles and clergy, the best fruits of history were gathered in it, and most of the mental and moral capital accumulated, not only by the century, but, again, by preceding centuries.
VI. The Demi-notables.
Where recruited.—Village and trade syndics.—Competency of their electors.—Their interest in making good selections. —Their capacity and integrity.—The sorting of men under the ancient regime.—Conditions of a family's maintenance and advancement.—Hereditary and individual right of the Notable to his property and rank.
Like a fire lit on a hilltop overlooking a cold and obscure countryside, a civilization, kept alive with much expense on peaks in a sea of human barbarity, radiating while its rays grow dim; its light and warmth fading just as its gleams reach remoter and deeper strata. Nevertheless, both penetrate yet sufficiently far and deep before wholly dying out. If we want to appraise their power in France at the close of the eighteenth century we must add to the notables the half-notables of society, namely, the men who, like the people, were devoted to manual labor, but who, among the people, led the way, say one hundred and fifty thousand families, consisting of well-to-do farmers, small rural proprietors, shopkeepers, retailers, foremen and master-workmen, village syndics and guild syndics, those who were established and had some capital, owning a plot of land and a house, with a business or stock of tools, and a set of customers, that is to say, with something ahead and credit, not being obliged to live from hand to mouth, and therefore, beginning to be independent and more influential, in short, the overseers of the great social work-house, the sergeants and corporals of the social army.—They, too, were not unworthy of their rank. In the village or trade community, the syndic, elected by his equals and neighbors, was not blindly nominated; all his electors in relation to him were competent; if peasants, they had seen him turning up the soil; if blacksmiths or joiners, they had seen him at work in his forge, or at the bench. And, as their direct, present and obvious interests were concerned, they chose him for the best, not on the strength of a newspaper recommendation, in deference to a vague declamatory platform or sounding, empty phrases, but according to their personal experiences, and the thorough knowledge they had of him. The man sent by the village to represent them to the intendant and selected by the guild to sit in the town council, was its most capable, and most creditable man, one of those, probably, who, through his application, intelligence, honesty and economy, had proved the most prosperous, some master-workman or farmer that had gained experience through long years of assiduity, familiar with details and precedents, of good judgment and repute, more interested than anybody else in supporting the interests of the community and with more leisure than others to attend to public affairs. This man, through the nature of things, imposed himself on the attention, confidence, and deference of his peers, and, because he was their natural representative, he was their legal representative.
Upon the whole, if, in this old society, the pressure was unequally distributed, if the general equilibrium was unstable, if the upper parts bore down too heavily on the lower ones, the sorting, at least, which goes on in every civilized State, constantly separating the wheat from the chaff, went on tolerably well; except at the center and at the Court, where the winnowing machine had worked haphazard and, frequently, in an opposite sense for a century, the separation proceeded regularly, undoubtedly slower, but, perhaps, more equitably than in our contemporary democracy. The chance that a notable by right could become a notable de facto was then much greater: it was less difficult, and the inclination to found, maintain and perpetuate a family or a business was much stronger; people looked more often beyond themselves; the eyes naturally turned outside the narrow circle of one's personality, looking backward as well as beyond this present life. The (later) institution of an equal partition of property, the (later) system of obligatory partition and the rule of partition in kind, with other prescriptions of the (new) civil code, did not split up an heritage and ruin the home. Parental negligence and the children's lack of respect and consideration had not yet upset the authority and abolished respect in the family. Useful and natural associations were not yet stifled in the germ nor arrested in their development by the systematic hostility of the law. The ease and cheapness of transportation, the promiscuity of schools, the excitement of competition, everyone's rush to placement and office, the increasing excitement of ambition and greed, had not (yet) immeasurably multiplied the class of irresponsible malcontents and mischievous nomads. In the political order of things, inaptitude, envy, brutality were not sovereign; universal suffrage did not exclude from power the men, born, bred and qualified to exercise it; countless public posts were not offered as a prey to charlatanism and to the intrigues of politicians. France was not then, as now-a-days, on a way to become a vast lodging-house administered by casual managers, condemned to periodical failures, inhabited by anonymous residents, indifferent to each other, lacking local ties, lacking engagements and having no corporate loyalties, merely tenants and passing consumers, placed in numerical order around a common mess-table where each thinks only of himself, gets served quickly, consumes what he can lay his hands on, and ends by finding out that, in a place of this sort, the best condition, the wisest course, is to put all one's property into an annuity and live a bachelor.—Formerly, among all classes and in all the provinces, there were a large number of families that had taken root on the spot, living there a hundred years and more. Not only among the nobles, but among the bourgeoisie and the Third-Estate, the heir of any enterprise was expected to continue his calling. This was so with the seignorial chateau and extensive domain, as with the bourgeois dwelling and patrimonial office, the humble rural domain, farm, shop and factory, all were transmitted intact from one generation to another. Great or small, the individual was not exclusively interested in himself; his thoughts also traveled forward to the future and back to the past, on the side of ancestors and on that of descendants, along the endless chain of which his own life was but a link; he possessed traditions, he felt bound to set examples. Under this twofold title, his domestic authority was uncontested; his household and all his employees followed his instructions without swerving and without resistance. When, by virtue of this domestic discipline, a family had maintained itself upright and respected on the same spot for a century, it could easily advance a degree; it could introduce one of its members into the upper class, pass from the plow or trade to petty offices, and from these to the higher ones and to parliamentary dignities, from the four thousand posts that ennoble to the legalized nobility, from the lately made nobles to the old nobility. Apart from the two or three thousand gilded drones living on the public honey at Versailles, apart from the court parasites and their valets, three or four hundred thousand notables and half-notables of France thus acquired and kept their offices, consideration and fortune; they were therefore their legitimate possessors. The peasant-proprietor and master-artisan had risen from father to son, at four o'clock in the morning, toiled all day and never drank. From father to son, the trader, notary, lawyer and office-holder, had been careful, economical, skillful and attentive to business, correct in their papers, precise in their accounts. From father to son, the nobleman had served bravely, the parliamentarian had judged equitably, as a point of honor, with a salary inferior to the interest of the sum paid by him to acquire his rank or post. Each of these men received no more than his due; his possessions and his rank were the savings of his ascendants, the price of social services rendered by the long file of deserving dead, all that his ancestors, his father and himself had created or preserved of any stable value; each piece of gold that remained in the hereditary purse represented the balance of a lifetime, the enduring labor of some one belonging to his line, while among these gold pieces, he himself had provided his share.—For, personal services counted, even among the upper nobility; and all the more among the lower class, in the Third-Estate, and among the people. Among the notables of every degree just described, most of them, in 1789, were fully grown men, many of them mature, a goodly number advanced in years, and some quite aged; consequently, in justification of his rank and emoluments, or of his gains and his fortune, each could allege fifteen, twenty, thirty and forty years of labor and honorability in private or public situations, the grand-vicar of the diocese as well as the chief-clerk of the ministry, the intendant of the generalite as well as the president of the royal tribunal, the village cure, the noble officer, the office-holder, the lawyer, the procureur, the large manufacturer, the wholesale dealer, as well as the well-to-do farmer, and the well-known handicraftsman.—Thus, not only were they an elite corps, the most valuable portion of the nation, the best timber of the forest, but again, the wood of each branch belonged to that trunk; it grew there, and was the product of its own vegetation; it sprung out of the trunk wholly through the unceasing and spontaneous effort of the native sap, through time-honored and recent labor, and, on this account, it merited respect.—Through a double onslaught, at once against each human branch and against the entire French forest, the Jacobin wood-choppers seek to clear the ground. Their theory results in this precept, that not one of the noble trees of this forest, not one valuable trunk from the finest oak to the smallest sapling, should be left standing.
VII. Principle of socialist Equality.
All superiorities of rank are illegitimate.—Bearing of this principle.—Incivique benefits and enjoyments.—How revolutionary laws reach the lower class.—Whole populations affected in a mass.—proportion of the lowly in the proscription lists. How the revolutionary laws specially affect those who are prominent among the people.
Not that the ravages which they make stop there! The principle extended far beyond that. The fundamental rule, according to Jacobin maxims, is that every public or private advantage which any citizen enjoys and which is not enjoyed by another citizen, is illegitimate.—On Ventose 19, year II., Henriot, general in command, having surrounded the Palais Royal and made a sweep of "suspects," renders an account of his expedition as follows: "One hundred and thirty muscadins have been arrested.... These gentlemen are transferred to the Petits-Peres. Being well-fed and plump, they cannot be sans-culottes." Henriot was right, for, to live well is incivique. Whoever lays in stores of provisions is criminal, even if he has gone a good ways for them, even if he has not overpaid the butcher of his quarter, even if he has not diminished by an ounce of meat the ration of his neighbor; when he is found out, he is punished and his hoard confiscated. "A citizen had a little pig brought to him from a place six leagues from Paris, and killed it at once. Three hours afterwards, the pig was seized by commissioners and distributed among the people, without the owner getting a bit of it;" moreover, the said owner "was imprisoned."—He is a monopolist! To Jacobin people, to empty stomachs, there is no greater crime; this misdeed, to their imaginations, explains the arrest of Hebert, their favorite: "It is said at the Halle (the covered Paris market) that he has monopolized a brother of the order of Saint-Antoine as well as a pot of twenty-five pounds of Brittany butter," which is enough; they immediately and "unanimously consign Pere Duchesne to the guillotine." (Note that the Pere Duchesne, founded by Hebert, was the most radical and revolutionary journal. (SR.)—Of all privileges, accordingly, that of having a supply of food is the most offensive; "it is now necessary for one who has two dishes to give one of them to him who has none;" every man who manages to eat more than another is a robber; for, in the first place, he robs the community, the sole legitimate owner of aliments, and next, he robs, and personally, all who have less to eat than he has.
The same rule applies to other things of which the possession is either agreeable or useful: in an equalizing social system, that now established, every article of food possessed by one individual to the exclusion of others, is a dish abstracted from the common table and held by him to another's detriment. On the strength of this, the theorists who govern agree with the reigning ragamuffins. Whoever has two good coats is an aristocrat, for there are many who have only one poor one. Whoever has good shoes is an aristocrat, for many wear wooden ones, and others go barefoot. Whoever owns and rents lodgings is an aristocrat, for others, his tenants, instead of receiving money, pay it out. The tenant who furnishes his own rooms is an aristocrat, for many lodge in boarding-houses and others sleep in the open air. Whoever possesses capital is an aristocrat, even the smallest amount in money or in kind, a field, a roof over his head, half-a-dozen silver spoons given to him by his parents on his wedding-day, an old woollen stocking into which twenty or thirty crowns have been dropped one by one, all one's savings, whatever has been laid by or economized, a petty assortment of eatables or merchandise, one's crop for the year and stock of groceries, especially if, disliking to give them up and letting his dissatisfaction be seen, he, through revolutionary taxation and requisitions, through the maximum and the confiscation of the precious metals, is constrained to surrender his small savings gratis, or at half their value.—Fundamentally, it is only those who have nothing of their own that are held to be patriots, those who live from day to day, "the wretched," the poor, vagabonds, and the famished; the humblest laborer, the least instructed, the most ill at his ease, is treated as criminal, as an enemy, as soon as he is suspected of having some resources; in vain does he show his scarified or callous hands; he escapes neither spoliation, the prison, nor the guillotine. At Troyes, a poor shop-girl who had set up a small business on borrowed money, but who is ruined by a bankruptcy and completely so by the maximum, infirm, and consuming piecemeal the rest of her stock, is taxed five hundred livres. In the villages of Alsace, an order is issued to arrest the five, six or seven richest persons in the commune, even if there are no rich; consequently, they seize the least poor, simply because they are so; for instance, at Heiligenberg, six "farmers" one of whom is a day-laborer, "or journey-man," "suspect," says the register of the jail, "because he is comfortably off." On this account nowhere are there so many "suspects" as among the people; the shop, the farm and the work-room harbor more aristocrats than the rectory and the chateau. In effect, according to the Jacobins, "nearly all farmers are aristocrats;" "the merchants are all essentially anti-revolutionary," and especially all dealers in articles of prime necessity, wine-merchants, bakers and butchers; the latter especially are open "conspirators," enemies "of the interior," and "whose aristocracy is insupportable." Such, already, among the lower class of people, are the many delinquents who are punished.
But there are still more of them to punish, for, besides the crime of not being destitute, of possessing some property, of withholding articles necessary for existence, there is the crime of aristocracy, necessarily so called, namely, repugnance to, lack of zeal, or even indifference for the established regime, regret for the old one, relationship or intercourse with a condemned or imprisoned emigre of the upper class, services rendered to some outlaw, the resort to some priest; now, numbers of poor farmers, mechanics, domestics and women servants, have committed this crime; and in many provinces and in many of the large cities nearly the whole of the laboring population commits it and persists in it; such is the case, according to Jacobin reports, in Alsace, Franche-Comte, Provence, Vaucluse, Anjou, Poitou, Vendee, Brittany, Picardie and Flanders, and in Marseilles, Bordeaux and Lyons. In Lyons alone, writes Collot d'Herbois, "there are sixty thousand persons who never will become republicans. They should be dealt with, that is made redundant, and prudently distributed all over the surface of the Republic."—Finally, add to the persons of the lower class, prosecuted on public grounds, those who are prosecuted on private grounds. Among peasants in the same village, workmen of the same trade and shopkeepers in the same quarter, there is always envy, enmities and spites; those who are Jacobins become local pashas and are able to gratify local jealousies with impunity, something they never fail to do.
Hence, on the lists of the guillotined, the incarcerated and of emigres, the men and women of inferior condition are in much greater number, far greater than their companions of the superior and middle classes all put together. Out of 12,000 condemned to death whose rank and professions have been ascertained, 7,545 are peasants, cultivators, ploughmen, workmen of various sorts, innkeepers, wine-dealers, soldiers and sailors, domestics, women, young girls, servants and seamstresses. Out of 1,900 emigres from Doubs, nearly 1,100 belong to the lower class. Towards the month of April, 1794, all the prisons in France overflow with farmers; in the Paris prisons alone, two months before Thermidor 9, there are 2 000 of them. Without mentioning the eleven western departments in which four or five hundred square leagues of territory are devastated and twenty towns and one thousand eight hundred villages destroyed, where the avowed purpose of the Jacobin policy is a systematic and total destruction of the country, man and beast, buildings, crops, and even trees, there are cantons and even provinces where the entire rural and working population is arrested or put to flight. In the Pyrenees, the old Basque populations "torn from their natal soil, crowded into the churches with no means of subsistence but that of charity," in the middle of winter, so that sixteen hundred of those incarcerated die "mostly of cold and hunger;" at Bedouin, a town of two thousand souls, in which a tree of liberty is cut down by some unknown persons, four hundred and thirty-three houses are demolished or burned, sixteen persons guillotined and forty-seven shot, while the rest of the inhabitants are driven out, reduced to living like vagabonds on the mountain, or in holes which they dig in the ground; in Alsace, fifty thousand farmers who, in the winter of 1793, take refuge with their wives and children on the other side of the Rhine. In short, the revolutionary operation is a complete prostration of people of all classes, the trunks as well as the saplings being felled, and often in such a way as to clear the ground entirely.
But in this ruthless felling, however, the notables of the people, making all due allowances, suffer more than the ordinary people. It is obvious that the Jacobin wood-chopper persecutes, insistently and selectively, the veterans of labor and savings, the large cultivators who from father to son and for many generations have possessed the same farm, the master-craftsmen whose shops are well stocked and who have good customers, the respectable, well-patronized retailers, who owe nothing; the village-syndics and trades-syndics, all those showing more deeply and visibly than the rest of their class, the five or six blazes which summon the ax. They are better off, better provided with desirable comforts and conveniences, which is of itself an offense against equality. Having accumulated a small hoard, a few pieces of plate, sometimes a few crowns, a store of linen and clothes, a stock of provisions or goods, they do not willingly submit to being plundered, which is the offense of egoism. Being egoists, it is presumed that they are hostile to the system of fraternity, at least indifferent to it, as well as lukewarm towards the Republic, that is to say, Moderates, which is the worst offense of all. Being the foremost of their class, they are haughty like the nobles or the bourgeois and regard themselves as superior to a poor man, to a vagabond, to a genuine sans-culotte, the fourth and most inexcusable of all offenses. Moreover, from the fact of their superior condition, they have contracted familiarities and formed connections with the proscribed class; the farmer, the intendant, the overseer is often attached to his noble proprietor or patron; many of the farmers, shopkeepers and craftsmen belonging to old families are considered as affiliated with the bourgeoisie or the clergy, through a son or brother who has risen a degree in trade, or by some industrial pursuit, or who, having completed his studies, has become a cure or lawyer, or else through some daughter, or well-married sister, or through one who has become a nun: now, this relation, ally, friend or comrade of a "suspect "is himself a "suspect,"—the last anti-revolutionary and decisive barrier. Sober and well-behaved persons, having prospered or maintained themselves under the ancient regime, must naturally cherish respect for former institutions; they must involuntarily retain a deep feeling of veneration for the King, and especially for religion; they are devout Catholics, and therefore are chagrined to see the churches shut up, worship prohibited and ecclesiastics persecuted, and would again be glad to go to Mass, honor Easter, and have an orthodox cure who could administer to them available sacraments, a baptism, an absolution, a marriage-rite, a genuine extreme unction.—Under all these headings, they have made personal enemies of the rascals who hold office; on all these grounds, they are struck down; what was once meritorious with them is now disgraceful. Thus, the principal swath consists of the elite of the people, selected from amongst the people itself; it is against the "subordinate aristocracy," those most capable of doing and conducting manual labor, the most creditable workmen, through their activity, frugality and good habits, that the Revolution, in its rigor against the inferior class, rages with the greatest fury.
VIII. Rigor against the Upper Classes.
The rigor of the revolutionary laws increase according to the elevation of the class.—The Notables properly so called attacked because of their being Notables.—Orders of Taillefer, Milhaud, and Lefiot.—The public atonement of Montargis.
For the same reason, as far as the notables, properly so-called, are concerned, it bears down still more heavily, not merely on the nobles because of ancient privileges, not merely on ecclesiastics on the score of being insubordinate Catholics, but on nobles, ecclesiastics and bourgeois in their capacity of notables, that is to say, born and bred above others, and respected by the masses on account of their superior condition.—In the eyes of the genuine Jacobin, the notables of the third class are no less criminal than the members of the two superior classes. "The bourgeois, the merchants, the large proprietors," writes a popular club in the South, "all have the pretension of the old set (des ci-devants)." And the club complains of "the law not providing means for opening the eyes of the people with respect to these new tyrants." It is horrible! The stand they take is an offense against equality and they are proud of it! And what is worse, this stand attracts public consideration! Consequently, "the club requests that the revolutionary Tribunal be empowered to consign this proud class to temporary confinement," and then "the people would see the crime it had committed and recover from the sort of esteem in which they had held it."—Incorrigible and contemptuous heretics against the new creed, they are only too lucky to be treated somewhat like infidel Jews in the middle-ages. Accordingly, if they are tolerated, it is on the condition that they let themselves be pillaged at discretion, covered with opprobrium and subdued through fear.—At one time, with insulting irony, they are called upon to prove their dubious civism by forced donations. "Whereas," says Representative Milhaud, "all the citizens and citoyennes of Narbonne being in requisition for the discharge and transport of forage; whereas, this morning, the Representative, in person, having inspected the performance of this duty," and having observed on the canal "none but sans-culottes and a few young citizens; whereas, not finding at their posts any muscadin and no muscadine; whereas, the persons, whose hands are no doubt too delicate, even temporarily, for the glorious work of robust sans-culottes, have, on the other hand, greater resources in their fortune, and, desiring to afford to the rich of Narbonne the precious advantage of being equally useful to the republic," hereby orders that "the richest citizens of Narbonne pay within twenty-four hours" a patriotic donation of one hundred thousand livres, one-half to be assigned to the military hospitals, and the other half, on the designation thereof by a "Committee of Charity, composed of three reliable revolutionary sans-culottes," to be distributed among the poor of the Commune. Should any "rich egoist refuse to contribute his contingent he is to be immediately transferred to the jail at Perpignan."—Not to labor with one's own hands, to be disqualified for work demanding physical strength, is of itself a democratic stain, and the man who is sullied by this draws down on himself, not alone an augmentation of pecuniary taxation, but frequently an augmentation of personal compulsory labor. At Villeneuve, Aveyron, and throughout the department of Cantal, Representative Taillefer and his delegate Deltheil, instruct the Revolutionary Committees to "place under military requisition and conscription all muscadins above the first class," that is to say, all between twenty-five and forty years of age who are not reached by the law. "By muscadins is meant all citizens of that age not married, and exercising no useful profession," in other words, those who live on their income. And, that none of the middle or upper class may escape, the edict subjects to special rigor, supplementary taxes, and arbitrary arrest, not alone property-holders and fund-holders, but again all persons designated under the following heads,—aristocrats, Feuillants, moderates, Girondists, federalists, muscadins, the superstitious, fanatics the abettors of royalism, of superstition and of federation, monopolists, jobbers, egoists, "suspects" of incivism, and, generally, all who are indifferent to the Revolution, of which local committees are to draw up the lists.
Occasionally, in a town, some steps taken collectively, either a vote or petition, furnish a ready-made list; it suffices to read this to know who are notables, the most upright people of the place; henceforth, under the pretext of political repression, the levellers may give free play to their social hatred.—At Montargis, nine days after the attempt of June 20, 1792, two hundred and twenty-eight notables sign an address in testimony of their respectful sympathy for the King; a year and nine months later, in consequence of a retroactive stroke, all are hit, and, with the more satisfaction, inasmuch as in their persons the most respected in the town fall beneath the blow, all whom flight and banishment had left there belonging to the noble, ecclesiastic, bourgeois or popular aristocracy. Already, "on the purification of the constituted authorities of Montargis, the representative had withdrawn every signer from places of public trust and kept them out of all offices." But this is not sufficient; the punishment must be more exemplary. Four of them, the ex-mayor, an ex-collector, a district administrator and a notable are sent to the revolutionary Tribunal in Paris, to be guillotined in deference to principles. Thirty-two former officers—chevaliers of St. Louis, mousquetaires, nobles, priests, an ex-procureur-royal, an ex-treasurer of France, a former administrator of the department, and two ladies, one of them designated as "calling herself a former marchioness"—are confined, until peace is secured, in the jail at Montargis. Other former municipal officers and officers in the National Guard—men of the law, notaries and advocates, physicians, surgeons, former collectors, police commissioners, postmasters, merchants and manufacturers, men and women, married or widows and widowers—are to make public apology and be summoned to the Temple of Reason to undergo there the humiliation of a public penance on the 20th of Ventose at three o'clock in the afternoon. They all go, for the summons says, "whoever does not present himself on the day and hour named will be arrested and confined until peace is declared." On reaching the church, purified by Jacobin adoration, "in the presence of the constituted authorities of the popular club and of the citizens convoked in general assembly," they mount one by one into a tribune raised three steps above the floor," in such a way as to be in full sight. One by one the national agent, or the mayor, reprimands them in the following language:
"You have been base enough to sign a fawning address to Louis XVI., the most odious and the vilest of tyrants, an ogre of the human species guilty of every sort of crime and debauchery. You are hereby censured by the people. You are moreover warned that on committing the first act of incivism, or manifesting any anti-revolutionary conduct, the surveillance of the constituted authorities will be extended to you in the most energetic manner; the tribunals will show you less leniency and the guillotine will insure prompt and imposing justice."
Each, called by name, receives in turn the threatened admonition, and, descending from the tribune amidst hues and cries, all sign the proces-verbal. But shame and guilt are often absent, and some of them do not seem to be sufficiently penitent. Consequently, at the close of the ceremony, the National Agent calls the attention of the assembly to "the impudence manifested by certain aristocrats, so degraded that even national justice fails to make them blush;" and the Revolutionary Committee, "considering the indifference and derisive conduct of four women and three men, just manifested in this assembly; considering the necessity of punishing an inveterate aristocracy which seems to make sport of corrective acts that bear only (sic) on morals, in a most exemplary manner, decides that the seven delinquents "shall be put under arrest, and confined in the jail of Sainte-Marie." The three who have shown indifference, are to be confined three months; the four who have shown derision, are to be confined until peace is restored. Besides this, the decree of the National Agent and the minutes of the meeting are to be printed and six thousand impressions struck off at the expense of the signers, "the richest and most 'suspect,' "—a former treasurer of France, a notary, a grocer, the wife of the former commandant of the gendarmerie, a widow and another woman,—all, says the agent, "of very solid wealth and aristocracy." "Bravo!" shouts the assembly, at this witticism; applause is given and it sings "the national hymn." It is nine o'clock in the evening. This public penitence lasts six hours and the Jacobins of Montargis retire, proud of their work; having punished as a public affront, an old and legal manifestation of respect for the public magistrate; having sent either to the scaffold or to prison, and fined or disgraced the small local elite; having degraded to the level of prostitutes and felons under surveillance, reputable women and honorable men who are, by law, most esteemed under a normal system of government and who, under the revolutionary system are, by law, the least so.