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The Origins of Contemporary France, Volume 4 (of 6) - The French Revolution, Volume 3 (of 3)
by Hippolyte A. Taine
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Unfortunately, in condemning the terrorists, it pronounced its own condemnation; for it has authorized and sanctioned all their crimes. On its benches, in its committees, often in the president's chair, at the head of the ruling coterie, still figure the members of the revolutionary government, many of the avowed terrorists like Bourdon de l'Oise, Bentabolle, Delmas, and Reubell; presidents of the September commune like Marie Chenier; those who carried out "the 31st of May," like Legendre and Merlin de Douai, author of the decree which created six hundred thousand suspects in France; provincial executioners of the most brutal and most ferocious sort, the greatest and most cynical robbers like Andre Dumont, Freron, Tallien and Barras. Under Robespierre, the four hundred mutes "du ventre" were the reporters, the voters, the claqueurs, and the agents of the worst decrees against religion, property and persons. The foundations of Terror were all laid by the seventy-three in confinement before they were imprisoned, and by the sixteen who were proscribed before their proscription. Excepting ten or a dozen who stayed away, the Convention, in a mass, pronounced judgment against the King and declared him guilty; more than one-half of the Convention, the Girondists at the head of them, voted his death. The hall does not contain fifty honorable men in whom character sustains conscience, and who had a right to carry their heads erect.[5108] In no law they passed, good or bad, did the other seven hundred have in view the interests of their constituents. In all their laws, good or bad, they solely regarded their own interests. So long as the attacks of the "Mountain" and of the rabble affected the public only, they lauded them, decreed them and had them executed. If they finally rebelled against the "Mountain," and against the rabble, it was at the last moment, and solely to save their lives. Before, as after the 9th of Thermidor, before, as after the 1st of Prairial, the incentives of the conduct of these pusillanimous oppressors or involuntary liberators were baseness and egoism. Hence, "the contempt and horror universally poured out against them; only Jacobins could be still more odious!"[5109] If further support is given to these faithless mandatories, it is because they are soon to be put out. On the premature report that the Convention is going to break up, people accost each other in the street, exclaiming, "We are rid of these brigands, they are going at last... People caper and dance about as if they could not repress their joy; they talk of nothing but the boy, (Louis XVIII. confined in the Temple), and the new elections. Everybody agrees on excluding the present deputies.... There is less discussion on the crimes which each has committed than on the insignificance of the entire assemblage, while the epithets of vicious, used up and corrupt have almost wholly given way to thieves and scoundrels."[5110] Even in Paris, during the closing months of their rule, they hardly dare appear in public: "in the dirtiest and most careless costume which the tricolor scarf and gold fringe makes more apparent, they try to escape notice in the crowd[5111] and, in spite of their modesty, do not always avoid insult and still less the maledictions of those who pass them."—In the provinces, at home, it would be worse for them; their lives would be in danger; in any event, they would be dragged through the gutter, and this they know. Save about "twenty of them," all who are not to succeed in entering the new Corps Legislatif, will intrigue for offices in Paris and become "state messengers, employees in bureaux, and ushers to ministers;" in default of other places they would accept those of "hall-sweeps." Any refuge for them is good against the reprobation of the public, which is already rising and submerging them under its tide.



II. Re-election of the Two-thirds.

Decrees for the re-election of the Two-thirds.—Small number of Voters.—Maneuvers for preventing electors from voting on the decrees.—Frauds in the returns of votes.—Maintenance of the decrees by force.—Recruiting of the Roughs.—The military employed.—The 13th of Vendemaire.

There is no other refuge for them except in supreme power, and no other means for maintaining this but in the excesses of despotism, dishonesty, mendacity and violence. In the Constitution they manufacture, they desire to remain the sovereigns of France and they decree[5112] at once that, willingly or not, France must select two-thirds of its new representatives from amongst them, and, that she may make a good selection, it is prudent to impose the selection upon her. There is a show, indeed, of consulting her in the special decrees which deprive her of two-thirds of her elective rights but, as in 1792 and in 1793, it is so contrived that she consents, or seems to consent, to this arrangement.[5113]—In the first place, they relied on the majority of electors abstaining from a response. Experience indeed, had shown that, for a long time, the masses were disgusted with the plebiscite farces; moreover, terror has stifled in individuals all sentiment of a common interest;[5114] each cares for himself alone. Since Thermidor, electors and mayors in the boroughs and in the rural districts are found with a good deal of difficulty, even electors of the second degree; people saw that it was useless and even dangerous to perform the duties of a citizen; they would have nothing to do with public functions. A foreigner writes,[5115] after traversing France from Bourg-en-Bresse to Paris: "Ninety times out of a hundred that I have asked the question,

'Citizen, what was done in the primary meeting of your canton?'

the answer would be:

'Me, citizen, what have I to do with it? I' faith, they had hard work to agree!'

Or,

'What's the use? There were not many there! Honest folks stayed at home.'"

In fact, out of at least six million electors convoked, five millions do not come near the ballot-box, there being no embarrassment in this matter as they do not vote.[5116]

In the second place, precautions have been taken to prevent those who come to vote on the Constitution from entertaining the idea of voting on the decrees. No article of the Constitution, nor in the decrees, calls upon them to do so; slight inducement is held out to them to come, in a vague style, through an oratorical interrogation, or in a tardy address.[5117]—In addition to this, on the printed blanks sent to them from Paris, they find but three columns, one for the number of votes accepting the Constitution, another for the number rejecting it, and the third for "written observations" in case there are any. There are no special columns for marking the number of votes accepting or rejecting the decrees. Thereupon, many illiterate or ill-informed electors might think that they were convoked to vote solely on the Constitution and not at all on the decrees, which is just what happened, and especially in the remote departments, and in the rural assemblies. Moreover, many assemblies, nearer Paris and in the towns, comprehend that if the Convention consults them it is only for form's sake; to give a negative answer is useless and perilous; it is better to keep silent; as soon as the decrees are mentioned they very prudently "unanimously" demand the order of the day.[5118] Hence out of five primary assemblies on the average which vote for or against the Constitution, there is only one which votes for or against the decrees.[5119]—Such is the mode of getting at the voice of the nation. Apparently, it is induced to speak; in practice, its silence is ensured.

The last and most ingenious expedient of all: when a primary assembly speaks too loudly it is taken for granted that it kept silent. In Paris, where the electors are more clear sighted and more decided than in the provinces, in eighteen well-known departments, and probably in many others, the electors who voted on the decrees almost all voted against them; in many cases, even their minutes state that the negative vote was "unanimous," but the minutes fail to state the exact number of the noes. On this, in the total of noes hostile to the decrees, these noes are not counted.[5120] Through this trickery, the Convention, in Paris alone, reduced the number of negatives by 50,000 and the same in the provinces, after the fashion of a dishonest steward who, obliged to hand in an account, falsifies the figures by substituting subtractions for additions.-Such is the way, in relation to the decrees, in which, out of the 300,000 votes which it accepts, it is able to announce 200,000 yeas and 100,000 noes and thus proclaim that its master, the sovereign people, after giving it a general acquittance, a discharge in full, invests it anew with its confidence and expressly continues its mandate.

It now remains to keep by force this power usurped by fraud.—Immediately after the suppression of the Jacobin riots the Convention, menaced on the right, turns over to the left; it requires allies, persons of executive ability. It takes them wherever it can find them, from the faction which decimated it before Thermidor and which, since Thermidor, it decimates. Consequently, its executive committee suspends all proceedings begun against the principal "Montagnards;" a number of terrorists, former presidents of the sections, "the matadors of the quarter," arrested after Prairial 1, are set free at the end of a month. They have good arms, are accustomed to vigorous striking without giving warning, especially when honest folks are to be knocked down or ripped open. The stronger public opinion is against the government the more does the government rely on men with bludgeons and pikes, on the strikers "turned out of the primary assemblies," on the heroes of September 2 and May 31, dangerous nomads, inmates of Bicetre, paid assassins out of employment, and roughs of the Quinze-Vingts and faubourg Saint—Antoine.[5121] Finally on the 11th of Vendemiaire, it gathers together fifteen or eighteen hundred of them and arms them in battalions.[5122] Such brigands are they, that Menon, "major-general of the army of the interior and commandant of the armed force of Paris," comes the next day with several of his staff-officers and tells the Committee of Five that he "will not have such bandits in his army nor under his orders". "I will not march with a lot of rascals and assassins organized in battalions "under the name of "patriots of '89." Indeed, the true patriots of '89 are on the other side, the constitutionalists of 1791, sincere liberals, "forty thousand proprietors and merchants," the elite and mass of the Parisian population,[5123] "the majority of men really interested in public matters," and at this moment, the common welfare is all that concerns them. Republic or royalty is merely a secondary thought, an idea in the back-ground; nobody dreams of restoring the ancient regime; but very few are preoccupied with the restoration of a limited monarchy.[5124] "On asking those most in earnest what government they would like in place of the Convention, they reply 'We want that no longer, we want nothing belonging to it; we want the Republic and honest people for our rulers.'"[5125]—That is all; their uprisal is not a political insurrection against the form of the government, but a moral insurrection against the criminals in office. Hence, on seeing the Convention arm their old executioners, "the tigers" of the Reign of Terror, admitted malefactors, against them, they cannot contain themselves.[5126] "That day," says a foreigner, who visited many public places in Paris, "I saw everywhere the deepest despair, the greatest expression of rage and fury.... Without that unfortunate order the insurrection would probably not have broken out." If they take up arms it is because they are brought back under the pikes of the Septembriseurs, and under Robespierre's axe.—But they are only national guards; most of them have no guns;[5127] they are in want of gunpowder, those who have any having only five or six charges; "the great majority do not think of fighting;" they imagine that "their presence is merely needed to enforce a petition;" they have no artillery, no positive leader; it is simply excitement, precipitation, disorder and mistaken maneuvers.[5128] On the contrary, on the side of the Convention, with Henriot's old bullies, there are eight or nine thousand regular troops, and Bonaparte; his cannon, which rake the rue Saint Honore and the Quai Voltaire, mow down five or six hundred sectionists. The rest disperse, and henceforth the check-mated Parisians are not to take up their guns against the Jacobin faction whatever it does.



III. A Directory of Regicides.

The Directory chosen among the regicides.—It selects agents of its own species.—Leading Jacobins are deprived of their civic rights.—The Terrorists are set free and restored to their civic rights.—Example at Blois of these releases and of the new administrative staff.

Supreme authority is now once more in the hands of the revolutionary band.—In conformity with its decrees of Fructidor, it first obliges electors to take two-thirds of their new representatives from the Convention. And as, notwithstanding its decrees, the electoral assemblies have not re-elected a sufficient number of the Conventionalists, it nominates itself, from a list prepared by its Committee of Public Safety, the one hundred and four which are lacking: In this way, both in the council of the Five Hundred, as well as in the council of the Ancients, it secures a clear majority in both the houses of the Legislative Corps. In the executive branch, in the Directory, it assures itself of unanimity. The Five Hundred, by adroitly preparing the lists, impose their candidates on the Ancients, selecting the five names beforehand: Barras, La Revelliere de Lepeaux, Reubell, Letourneur and Sieyes, and then, on Sieyes refusing, Carnot. All of them are regicides and, under this terrible qualification, bound at the risk of their heads, to maintain the regicide faction in power.—Naturally the Directory chooses its agents from among their own people,[5129] their ministers and the employees of their departments, ambassadors and consuls, officers of all ranks, collectors of taxes direct and indirect, administrators of the national domains, commissioners of civil and Criminal courts, and the commissioners of the departmental and municipal administrations. Again, having the right to suspend and dismiss all elected administrative bodies, it exercises this right. If the local authorities of any town, canton, or department seem to be anti-Jacobin, it sets them aside and, either on its own authority, or with the assent of the Legislative Corps, replaces them with Jacobins on the spot.[5130] In other respects, the Convention has done its best to relieve its clients of their principal adversaries and most popular rivals. The night before its dissolution, it excluded from every "legislative, municipal, administrative and judicial function,"[5131] even that of juryman, not only the individuals who, rightly or wrongly, had been put on a list of emigres and not yet stricken off, but likewise their fathers, sons and grandsons, brothers and brothers-in-law, their connections of the same degree, uncles and nephews. In all, probably two or three hundred thousand Frenchmen, nearly the whole of the elite of the nation. To this it adds the rest of this elite, all the honest and energetic who, in the late primary or electoral assemblies have "provoked or signed" any manifestation against its despotism; if still in office they are to resign within twenty-four hours, or be sent into perpetual exile.—Through this legal incapacity of the anti-Jacobins, the field is free to the Jacobins. In many places, for lack of candidates that please them, most of the electors stay away from the polls; besides this, the terrorists resort to their old system, that is to say to brutal violence.[5132] On again obtaining the support of the government they have raised their heads and are now the titular favorites. The Convention has restored to them the civic rights of which they had deprived their adversaries: "every decree of indictment or arrest" rendered against them, "every warrant executed or not, all proceedings and suits" begun, every sentence bearing on their revolutionary acts, is cancelled. The most "atrocious" Montagnards, the most sanguinary and foul proconsuls, Dartigoyte and Piochefer-Bernard, Darthe, Lebon's secretary, Rossignol the great September massacrer, the presidents of former revolutionary committees, "patriotic robbers, seal-breakers" and garroters, brazenly promenade the streets of Paris.[5133] Barere himself, who, condemned to transportation, universally execrated as he traverses France, and who, everywhere on his journey, at Orleans, Tours, Poitiers, Niort, comes near being torn to pieces by the people, Barere is not sent off to Guienne; he is allowed to escape, to conceal himself and live tranquilly at Bordeaux. Furthermore, Conventionalists of the worst species, like Monestier and Foussedoire return to their natal department to govern it as government commissioners.

Consider the effect of these releases and of these appointments in a town which, like Blois, has seen the assassins at work, and which, for two months, follows their trial.[5134]—Seven of them, members of the Revolutionary Committee, commanders of the armed force, members of the district or department, national agents in Indre-et-Loire, charged with conducting or receiving a column of eight hundred laborers, peasant women, priests and "suspects," cause nearly six hundred of them to be shot, sabered, drowned or knocked down on the road, not in self-defense or to prevent escape, for these poor creatures tied two and two marched along like sheep without a murmur, but to set a good revolutionary example, so as to keep the people in proper subjection by terror and enable them to line their pockets.[5135] A minute investigation has unfolded before the judges, jury and public of Blois a long series of authentic facts and proofs, with eight days of pleading and the most complete and glaring evidence; the sentence is about to be pronounced. Suddenly, two weeks before Vendemiaire 13, a decree annuls the proceedings, which have already cost over 600,000 livres, and orders a new trial in another form. Next, after Vendemiaire 13, a representative arrives at Blois and his first care is to set the butchers free.—About thirty knaves ruled the town during the reign of Terror, all strangers, save four or five, "all more or less befouled with crime." At first, the principal slaughterers:

* Hezine, Gidouin, and their accomplices of the neighboring districts,

* Simon and Bonneau the ex-mayor of Blois,

* Bezard, a former soldier, convicted of peculation and of robbing cellars which he had put under sequestration,

* Berger, an ex-monk, and then dragoon who, with pistol in hand, forced the superior of his old convent to give up the funds of the community,

* Giot, formerly a chief-butler of Monsieur (the King's brother), next, a judge in the September massacres and then a quartermaster in the Pyrenees army and a pillager in Spain, then secretary to the Melun tribunal of which he stole the cash, along with other nomads and outlaws of the same stamp, most of them sots and roisterers, one an ex-schoolmaster, another an ex-ladies hair-dresser, another an ex-chair-bearer; all of them a vile lot, chosen by the government for its agents, and, under new titles, resuming their old positions. At the head of the armed force is Gen. Bonnard, who is accompanied by a prostitute and who passes his time in orgies, pilfering wherever he can, and so shameless in his thievery as to be condemned, six months later, to three months in irons.[5136] On arriving at Blois, he organizes "a paid guard, composed of all the most abject Jacobins."—Elsewhere, as here,[5137] it is the full staff of the reign of Terror, the petty potentates dethroned after Thermidor, the political Bohemians restored to their functions.



IV. Public Opinon.

Resistance of public opinion.—Elections, year IV. at Paris and in the provinces.—The Directory threatened by ultra Jacobins.—Forced amelioration of the Jacobin administration.

So, that after Vendemiaire 13, it looks as if the Jacobin band had made the conquest of France a second time. This, however not yet so, for, if it has recovered its authority, it has not yet recovered the dictatorship.—In vain do Barras and Tallien, Dubois-Crance, Merlin de Douai and Marie Chenier, Delmas, Louvet, Sieyes and their corrupt gang, the habitues of power, the despotic, unscrupulous theorists, try to postpone indefinitely the opening of the legislative bodies, to annul the elections, to purge the Convention, to restore for their own advantage that total concentration of powers which, under the title of revolutionary government, has converted France into a pachalic[5138] in the hands of the old Committee of Public Safety.[5139] But the Convention has become frightened for its own safety; at the last moment the plot is exposed, and the blow frustrated.[5140] The Constitution, decreed, is put in operation, and a system of the law has replaced the system of arbitrariness. The Jacobin invasion, through that alone, is checked and then arrested. The nation is in a condition to defend itself and does defend itself. It gradually regains lost ground, even at the center.—At Paris, the electoral body,[5141] which is obliged to take two-thirds of its deputies from the Convention, takes none of the regicide deputation representing Paris. All who are chosen, Lanjuinais, Lariviere, Fermon, Saladin, Boissy d'Anglas, wished to save the King, and nearly all were proscribed after the 31st May. The departments show the same spirit. The members of the Convention for whom the provinces show a decided preference are the most prominent of the anti-Jacobins: Thibaudeau is re-elected by 32 electoral colleges, Pelet de la Lozere by 71, Boissy d'Anglas by 72, Lanjuinais by 73. As to the 250 of the new third, these are liberals of 1789 or moderates of 1791,[5142] most of them honorable men and many of them well-informed and of real merit, jurisconsults, officers, administrators, members of the Constitutional Assembly or Feuillants in the Legislative Assembly, Mathieu Dumas, Vaublanc, Dupont de Nemours, Simeon, Barbe-Marbois and Troncon-Ducoudray. The capital, especially, chose Dambray, former general-advocate to the Paris parliament, and Pastoret, former minister of Louis XVI.. Versailles sends the two celebrated lawyers who defended the King before the Convention, Tronchet and De Seze.—Now, previous to the 13th Vendemiaire, two hundred members of the Convention had already heartily sided with the Parisian electors[5143] against the terrorists. This creates a strong opposition minority inside the Legislative Corps which function protected by the Constitution. Hidden behind it and behind them, the elite and the plurality of Frenchmen wait for better days. The Directory is obliged to act cautiously with this large group, so well supported by public opinion, and, accordingly, not to govern a la Turk. So they respect, if not the spirit, at least the letter of the law, and not to exercise a too barefaced influence on local elections. Hence most of the local elections remain free, so that the nation,

* in spite of the decree excluding every relation of an emigre and every notorious opponent of the government from present and future offices,

* in spite of fear, lassitude and disgust,

* in spite of the small number of votes, the rarity of candidates and the frequent refusal of the elected to serve,[5144]

substantially exercises its privilege of electing its administrators and judges according to its preferences. Consequently, the very large majority of new administrators in the departments, cantons and municipalities, and the very large majority of new civil and criminal judges and justices of the peace are, like the new third of the Convention, highly esteemed or estimable men. They are untainted with excesses, still preserving their hopes of 1789, but preserved from the outset against, or soon cured of, the revolutionary fever. Every decree of spoliation or persecution loses some of its force in their hands. Supported by the steady and manifest will of their present constituents, we see them resisting the commissioners of the Directory, at least protesting against their exactions and brutality, gaining time in favor of the proscribed, dulling the point of, or turning aside, the Jacobin sword.

Again, on the other hand, the government which holds this sword dare not, like the Committee of Public Safety, thrust it in up to the hilt. If wielded as before it might slip from its grasp. The furious in its own camp are ready to wrest it away and turn the blade against it. It must defend itself against the reviving clubs, against Babeuf and his accomplices, against the desperadoes who, through a nocturnal attempt, try to stir up the Grenelle camp: in Paris, there are four or five thousand now ready to undertake a "civic St. Bartholomew," with the old Conventionists who could not get themselves elected, at their head,—Drouet, Amar, Vadier, Ricord, Laignelot, Chaudieu, Huguet, Cusset, Javogues. Alongside of them, the friends of Chalier, Robespierre's and Marat's followers, and the disciples of Saint-Just, Bertrand de Lyon, Buonarotti, Antonelle, Rossignol and Babeuf. Behind them, the bandits of the street, those "who gutted houses during the Revolution," peculators or Septembriseurs out of employment, in short, the relics of the terrorist gang or of the revolutionary army. Their plan, true to their precedents, character and principles, consists not only in despatching "the rascals who keep coaches, the moneyed men and monopolisers," all the deputies and functionaries who do not resign at the first summons, but also, and especially, in killing "the General of the Interior, his staff, the seven ministers and the five 'cocked-hats' (panaches) of the Luxembourg," that is to say, the five Directors themselves. Such allies are troublesome. Undoubtedly, the government, which considers them as its forlorn hope, and that it may have need of them in a crisis, spares them as much as possible.[5145] It allows Drouet to escape, and lets the trial of the Babouvists drag along, only two of them being guillotined, Babeuf and Darthe; most of the others are acquitted or escape. Nevertheless, for its own salvation, it is led to separate from the fiercest Jacobins and draw near to peaceable citizens.—Through this internal discord of the ruling faction, honest people hold on the offices they occupy on the elections of the year IV.. No decree comes to deprive them of their legal arms, while, in the Legislative Corps, as in the administrations and the tribunals, they count on carrying new positions in the elections of the year V.

V. Actual aim of Jacobin Activities: Power and Wealth.

Elections of year V.—Character and sentiments of the elected.—The new majority in the Corps Legislatif.—Its principles and program.—Danger and anxiety of the Jacobin minority.—Indecision, division, scruples and weakness of the moderate party.—Decision, want of scruples, force and modes of procedure of the Jacobin faction.—The 18th of Fructidor.

"It was a long time," writes a small trader of Evreux, "since so many people were seen at the elections.[5146].... The eight electors for the town obtained at the first ballot the absolute majority of suffrages.... Everybody went to the polls so as to prevent the nomination of any elector among the terrorists, who had declared that their reign was going to return."—In the environs of Blois, a rural proprietor, the most circumspect and most peaceable of men, notes in his journal[5147] that "now is the time to take a personal interest.. .. Every sound-thinking man has promised not to refuse any office tendered to him so as to keep out the Jacobins..... It is reasonably hoped that the largest number of the electors will not be terrorists and that the majority of the Legislative Corps being all right, the minority of the furious, who have only one more year of office, will give way (in 1798) to men of probity not steeped in crime.. .. In the country, the Jacobins have tried in vain: people of means who employed a portion of the voters, obtained their suffrages, every proprietor wishing to have order.... The Moderates have agreed to vote for no matter what candidate, provided he is not a Jacobin.... Out of two hundred and thirty electors for the department, one hundred and fifty are honest and upright people..... They adhered to the last Constitution as to their sole palladium, only a very few of them dreaming of re-establishing the ancient regime." Their object is plain enough; they are for the Constitution against the Revolution, for limited power against discretionary power, for property against robbery, for upright men against thieves.—"Would you prevent, say the administrative authorities of Aube,[5148] a return to the disastrous laws of the maximum, of monopolies, to the resurrection of paper-money?... Would you, as the price of a blameless life, be once more humiliated, robbed, imprisoned, tortured by the vilest, most repulsive and most shameless of tyrants? You have only one recourse: do not fail to go to your primary assemblies and remain there." The electors, warned by their late personal and bloody souvenirs, rush to the polls in crowds and vote according to their consciences, although the government through the oaths it imposes, its official candidatures, its special commissioners, its intimidation and its money, bears down with all its weight on the resolutions they have taken. Although the Jacobins at Nevers, Macon and elsewhere, have forcibly expelled officers legally elected from their bureaux, and stained the hall with their blood,[5149] "out of 84 departments 66 elected a plurality of electors from among the anti-republicans, eight being neither good nor bad, while only ten remained loyal to the Jacobins."[5150]—Appointed by such electors, we can divine what the new Third will be. "Of the 250 Conventionalists excluded by the draw scarcely five or six have been re-elected; there are but eight departments in which the Jacobins have had any success. "-Immediately after the arrival of the new representatives, the roll of the Legislative Corps having been checked off, it is found that "the Government has 70 out of 250 votes among the Ancients, and 200 out of 500 among the Council of the Young," and soon less than 200 in this Council,[5151] 130 at the most, who will certainly be excluded at the coming renewal of the chambers in elections which are becoming more and more anti-Jacobin. One year more, as the rulers themselves admit, and not one Conventionalist, not one pure Jacobin, will sit in the Legislative Corps. Consequently, according to the revolutionaries, the counter-revolution will have taken place in the year VI.

This means that the Revolution is to end in the year VI., and that the pacific reign of law will be substituted for the brutal reign of force. In fact, the great majority of the representatives and almost the entire French nation have no other end in view: they wish to rid themselves of the social and civil regime to which they have been subject since the 10th of August, 1792, and which, relaxed after Thermidor 9, but renewed by the 13th of Vendemiaire, has lasted up to the present time, through the enforcement of its most odious laws and the maintenance of its most disreputable agents. This is all.—Not twenty avowed or decided royalists could be found in the two Councils.[5152] There are scarcely more than five or six—Imbert-Colomes, Pichegru, Willot, Delarne—who may be in correspondence with Louis XVIII. and disposed to raise the royal flag. For the other five hundred, the restoration of the legitimate King, or the establishment of any royalty whatever, is only in the background; they regard it only at a distance, as a possible accompaniment and remote consequence of their present undertaking. In any event, they would accept only "the mitigated monarchy,"[5153] that which the Liberals of 1788 hoped for, that which Mounier demanded after the days of October 5 and 6, that advocated by Barnave after the return from Varennes, that which Malouet, Gouverneur Morris, Mallet-Dupan and all good observers and wise councillors of France, always recommended. None of them propose to proclaim divine right and return to aristocratic feudalism; each proposes to abrogate revolutionary right and destroy Jacobin feudalism. The principle condemned by them is that which sustains the theory of anarchy and despotism,

* the application of the Contrat Social,[5154]

* a dictatorship established by coups detat, carried on arbitrarily and supported by terror,

* the systematic and dogmatic persistence of assaults on persons, property and consciences,

* the usurpation of a vicious, fanatical minority which has devastated France for five years and, under the pretext of everywhere setting up the rights of man, purposely maintaining a war to propagate its system abroad.

That which they are really averse to is the Directory and its clique, Barras with his court of gorged contractors and kept women, Reubell with his family of extortioners, stamp of a parvenu and ways of a tavern keeper, La Revelliere-Lepaux with his hunchback vanity, philosophic pretensions, sectarian intolerance and silly airs of a pedantic dupe. What they demand in the tribune,[5155] is the purification of the administration, the suppression of jobbery, an end to persecution and, according as they are more or less excited or circumspect, they demand legal sentences or simply the removal of Jacobins in office, the immediate and entire suppression or partial and careful reform of the laws against priests and worship, against emigres and the nobles.[5156]—Nobody has any idea of innovation with respect to the distribution of public powers, or to the way of appointing central or local authorities. "I swear on my honor," writes Mathieu Dumas, "that it has always been my intention to maintain the Republican Constitution, persuaded as I am that, with a temperate and equitable administration, it might give repose to France, make liberty known and cherished, and repair in time the evils of the Revolution. I swear that no proposals, direct or indirect, have ever been made to me to serve, either by my actions, speech or silence, or cause to prevail in any near or remote manner, any other interest than that of the Republic and the Constitution."—"Among the deputies," says Camille Jordan, "several might prefer royalty; but they did not conspire, regarding the Constitution as a deposit entrusted to their honor.. They kept their most cherished plans subordinate to the national will; they comprehended that royalty could not be re-established without blows and through the development of this bill."—"Between ourselves," says again Barbe-Marbois, "there were disagreements as to the way of getting along with the Directory, but none at all as to the maintenance of the Constitution."[5157] Almost up to the last moment they confined themselves strictly to their legal rights, and when, towards the end, they were disposed to set these aside, it was simply to defend themselves against the uplifted saber above their heads.[5158] It is incontestable that their leaders are "the most estimable and the ablest men in the Republic,"[5159] the only representatives of free suffrage, mature opinions and long experience, the only ones at least in whose hands the Republic, restored to order and justice, would have any chance of becoming viable, in fact, the only liberals. And this is the reason why the merely nominal Republicans were bound to crush them.

In effect, under a government which disavows attacks on persons and on public or private property, not only is the Jacobin theory impossible, but Jacobin wrongs are condemned. Now, the Jacobins, even if they have abjured their principles, remember their acts. They become alarmed on the arrival of the first Third, in October, 1795: "The Conventionalists," writes one of the new deputies,[5160] "look upon us as men who will one day give them up to justice." After the entry of the second Third, in May, 1797, their fright increased; the regicides, especially, feel that "their safety depends only on an exclusive and absolute dominion."[5161] One day, Treilhard, one of their notables, alone with Mathieu Dumas, says to this old Feuillant and friend of Lafayette, of well known loyalty and moderation: "You are very honest and very able men, and I believe that you really desire to maintain the government as it is, because neither for you nor for us is there any sure way of substituting another for it. But we Conventionalists cannot allow you to go on; whether you mean it or not, you are gradually leading us to our certain ruin; there is nothing in common between us."—"What guarantee do you then require?"—"Only one. After that, we'll do all you want—we'll let you relax the springs—give us this guarantee and we'll follow you blindly!—"Well, what do you mean by that?"—

"Enter the tribune and declare that if you had been a member of the Convention, you would have voted the death of Louis XVI. as we did!"- "You demand an impossibility. You would not do this in our place. You sacrifice France to vain terrors."—

"No, the risk is not equal; our heads are at stake!"

Their heads, perhaps,—but certainly their power, places, fortunes, comforts and pleasures, all that in their eyes makes it worth while to live.—Every morning, seventy Paris newspapers and as many local gazettes in the large towns of the provinces expose, with supporting documents, details and figures, not merely their former crimes, but, again, their actual corruption, their sudden opulence founded on prevarication and rapine, their bribes and peculations—

* one, rewarded with a sumptuously furnished mansion by a company of grateful contractors;

* another, son of a bailiwick attorney and a would-be Carthusian, now possessor of ecclesiastical property, restored by him at a great outlay for hunting-grounds; another also monopolizes the finest land in Seine-et-Oise;

* another, the improvised owner of four chateaux;

* another, who has feathered his nest with fifteen or eighteen millions,[5162]

With their loose or arbitrary ways of doing things, their habits as hoarders or spendthrifts, their display and effrontery, their dissipations, their courtiers and their prostitutes. How can they renounce all this?—And all the more because this is all they have. These jaded consciences are wholly indifferent to abstract principles, to popular sovereignty, to the common weal, to public security; the thin and brittle coating of sonorous phrases under which they formerly tried to hide the selfishness and perversity of their lusts, scales off and falls to the ground. They themselves confess that it is not the Republic for which they are concerned, but for themselves above everything else, and for themselves alone. So much the worse for the Republic if its interest is opposed to their interest; as Sieyes will soon express it, the object is not to save the Revolution but the revolutionaries.—Thus disabused, unscrupulous, knowing that they are staking their all, and resolute, like their colleagues of August 10, September 2 and May31 and like the Committee of Public Safety, they are determined to win, no matter at what cost or by what means.

For this time again, the Moderates do not want to comprehend that the war has been declared, and that it is war to the knife. They do not agree amongst themselves; they want to gain time, they hesitate and take refuge in constitutional forms—they do not act. The strong measures which the eighty decided and clear-sighted deputies propose, are weakened or suspended by the precautions of the three hundred others, short-sighted, unreliable or timid.[5163] They dare not even avail themselves of their legal arms:

* annul the military division of the interior,

* suppress Augereau's commission,

* and break the sword presented at their throats by the three conspiring Directors.

In the Directory, they have only passive or neutral allies, Barthelemy, who had rather be assassinated than murder, Carnot, the servant of his legal pass-word, fearing to risk his Republic, and, moreover, calling to mind that he had voted for the King's death. Among the "Five Hundred" and the "Ancients," Thibaudeau and Troncon-Ducoudray, the two leaders "du ventre," arrest the arms of Pichegru and other energetic men, prevent them from striking, allow them only to ward off the blow, and always too late. Three days after the 10th of Fructidor, when, as everybody knew and saw, the final blow was to be struck, the eighty deputies, who change their quarters so as not to be seized in their beds, cannot yet make up their minds to take the offensive. On that day, an eye-witness[5164] came to Mathieu Dumas and told him that, the evening before, in Barras' house, they discussed the slaughter or transportation to Cayenne of about forty members of the two Councils, and that the second measure was adopted. On which a commandant of the National Guard, having led Dumas at night into the Tuileries garden, showed him his men concealed behind the trees, armed and ready to march at the first signal. He is to possess himself at once of the Luxembourg (palace)[5165] which is badly guarded, and put an end to Barras and Reubell on the spot: in war one kills so as not to be killed, and, when the enemy takes aim, you have the right to fire without waiting. "Only," says the commandant, "promise me that you will state in the tribune that you ordered this attack, and give me your word of honor."[5166] Mathieu Dumas refuses, simply because he is a man of honor. "You were a fool," Napoleon afterwards said to him in this connection, "you know nothing about revolutions."—In effect, honor, loyalty, horror of blood, respect for the law, such are the weak points of the party.

The opposite sentiments form the strong points of the other party. On the side of the triumvirs nobody knows twinges of conscience, neither Barras, a condottiere open to the highest bidder, and who understands the value of blows, nor Reubell, a sort of bull, who, becoming excited, sees red, nor Merlin de Douai, the terrible legist, lay inquisitor and executioner in private.[5167] As usual with the Jacobins, these men have unsheathed the sword and brandished it. In contempt of the constitution, they provoked discussions in the army and let the Legislative Corps see that, if it did not yield, it would be put out at the point of the bayonet. They let loose against it, "as in the good old times,"[5168] their executive riff-raff, and line the avenues and tribunes with "their bandits of both sexes." They collect together their gangs of roughs, five or six thousand terrorists from Paris and the departments, and two thousand officers awaiting orders or on half-pay. In default of Hoche, whose unconstitutional approach was reported and then prevented, they have Augereau, arrived expressly from Italy, and who states publicly, "I am sent for to kill the royalists." It is impossible to find a more narrow-minded and greater military bully; Reubell, himself, on seeing him, could not help but exclaim: What a sturdy brigand!"—On the 18th of Fructidor this official swordsman, with eight or ten thousand troops, surrounds and invades the Tuileries. The representatives are arrested in their committee-rooms or domiciles, or pursued, tracked and hunted down, while the rest of their opponents, notables, officers, heads of bureaux, journalists, former ministers and directors, Barthelemy and Carnot, are treated in the same way. Barbe-Marbois, on demanding by virtue of what law they were arrested,[5169] is told, "by the law of the saber," while Sotin, Minister of the Police, adds with a smile, "You may be sure that after what I have taken on myself, it matters little whether one is more or less compromised."—Thus purged, the two Councils complete themselves their purgation; they cancel, in forty-nine departments, the election of their colleagues; through this decree and transportation, through forced and voluntary resignations, two hundred and fourteen representatives are withdrawn from the Legislative Corps, while one hundred and eighty others, through fear or disgust, cease to attend its meetings.[5170] Nothing remains of the two Councils, except, as in the English Parliament under Cromwell, a "rump," which rump does business under drawn swords. In the Council of the Ancients, which, on the 18th of Fructidor, discussed at midnight[5171] the decree of transportation, "groups of grenadiers, with a haggard look, in brusque language, with threatening gestures" and fixed bayonets, surround the amphitheatre, and, mingled with the soldiers and civil cut-throats, shout out their orders. Such are the supporters of the slanderous tale cooked up by the Directory. The voters need such arguments to make themselves believe in the grand conspiracy which it denounces, to associate Barthelemy, Carnot, Simeon, Barbe-Marbois, Boissy d'Anglas, Mathieu Dumas, Pastoret, Tronson du Coudray as accomplices with a knot of subordinate intriguers, contemptible "monkeys" (marmosets), dolts or spies, whose papers have been in the hands of the police for six months, and whom it forces to speak under lock and key.[5172] All are enveloped in the same net, all are confounded together under the same title, all are condemned en masse without evidence or formality. "Proofs!" exclaims an orator, "none are necessary against the royalist faction. I have my own convictions."[5173]—"Formalities!" exclaims another, "the enemies of the country cannot invoke formalities which they would have despised had they triumphed."—"The people are there," says a third, pointing to a dozen ill-looking men who are present; "the whole people ought to prevail against a few individuals!"—"Hurry up!" shouts a soldier, who wants the discussion ended, "patriots, march, double-quick!"—The debate, nevertheless, drags along, and the Government, growing impatient, is obliged to intervene with a message: "The people," says the message, "want to know what has become of the Republic, what you have done with it..... The conspirators have agents, even among yourselves." The message is understood, and the representatives now understand that if they do not transport, they themselves will be deported. Therefore, "about fourteen or fifteen stand up for the decree, while seven are against it; the rest remain motionless:" it is thus that the decree to save the Constitution is freely and legally passed. Four years before this a similar decree had passed to expel the Girondists, in just the same manner, with the exception that, at that time, the Mountain made use of the populace, while now the army is employed; but save the difference in the figurants, the performance is simply a repetition of the same drama that was played on the 2nd of June, and is now again played on the 18th of Fructidor.[5174]



VI. The Directory.

Dictatorship of the Directory.—Its new prerogatives.—Purge of the Legislative Corps.—Purification of the administrative and judicial authorities.—Military commissions in the provinces.—Suppression of newspapers. —The right of voting reserved to Jacobins alone.—Despotism of the Directory.—Revival of Terror.—Transportation substituted for the guillotine.—Treatment of the deported on the way, in Guyana, and on the islands of Rhe and Oleron.—Restoration of Jacobin feudalism.

This is the way in which the government of 1793 is brought back to life:

The concentration of all public powers in the hands of an oligarchy, a dictatorship exercised by about a hundred men grouped around five or six leaders.

More independent, more despotic and less provisional than any Committee of Public Safety, the Directory has arrogated to itself the legal right of placing a commune in a state of siege, of introducing troops within the constitutional circle[5175] in such a way that it may, at its discretion, violate Paris and the Legislative Corps. In this body, mutilated by it and watched by its hireling assassins,[5176] sit the passive mutes who feel themselves "morally proscribed and half-deported,"[5177] who abandon debate, and vote with its stipendiaries and valets.[5178] As a matter of fact, the two councils have, as formerly the Convention, become chambers "of registry" of legislative mechanism charged with the duty of countersigning its orders.—Its sway over the subordinate authorities is still more absolute. In forty-nine departments, specially designated by decree, all the administrators of departments, cantons and municipalities, all mayors, civil and criminal judges, all justices of the peace, all elected by popular suffrage, are dismissed en masse,[5179] while the cleaning out in the rest of France is almost as sweeping. We can judge by one example: in the department of Doubs, which is not put down among those to be purged, five hundred and thirty administrators or municipal magistrates are dismissed in 1797, and, in addition, forty-nine others in 1798. The Directory puts its creatures in their places: suddenly, the departmental, cantonal, municipal and judicial system, which was American, becomes Napoleonic so that the local officials, instead of being delegates of the people, are government delegates.—Note, especially, the most threatening of all usurpations, the way in which this government takes justice into its hands and attributes to itself the right of life and death over persons: not only does it break up common criminal courts and reorganize them as it pleases, not only does it renew and select among the purest Jacobins judges of the court of appeals, but again, in each military division, it institutes a special and expeditious court without appeal, composed of docile officers, sub-officers and soldiers, which is to condemn and execute within twenty-four hours, under pretext of emigration or priesthood, every man who is obnoxious to the ruling factions.—As to the twenty-five millions of subjects it has just acquired, there is no refuge: it is forbidden even to complain. Forty-two opposition or "suspect" journals are silenced at one stroke, their stock plundered, or their presses broken up; three months after this, sixteen more take their turn, and, in a year, eleven others; the proprietors, editors, publishers and contributors, among whom are La Harpe, Fontanes, Fieve, Michaud and Lacretelle, a large body of honorable or prominent writers, the four or five hundred men who compose the staff of the profession, all condemned without trial to banishment,[5180] or to imprisonment, are arrested, take flight, conceal themselves, or keep silent. The only voice now heard in France is the mega-phone of the government.

Naturally, the faculty of voting is as restricted as the faculty of writing, so that the victors of Fructidor, together with the right to speak, now also monopolize the right of electing.—Right away the government renewed the decree which the expiring Convention had rendered against allies or relations of emigres. moreover, it excluded all relatives or supporters of the members of the primary assemblies, and forbade the primary assemblies to choose any of these for electors. Henceforth, all upright or even peaceful citizens consider themselves as warned and stay at home. Voting is the act of a ruler, and therefore a privilege of the new sovereigns, which is the view of it entertained by both sovereigns and subjects:[5181] "a republican minority operating legally must prevail against a majority influenced by royalism."[5182] They are to see the government on election days, launching forth "in each department its commission agents, and controlling votes by threats and all sorts of promises and seductions,[5183] arresting the electors and presidents of the primary assemblies," even pouncing on refractory Jacobins, invalidating the returns of a majority when not satisfactory to them, and rendering the choice of a minority valid, if it suited them, in short, constituting itself the chief elector of all local and central authorities.—Finally, all institutions, laws, public and private rights, are down, and the nation, body and soul, again becomes, as under Robespierre, the property of its rulers with this sole difference, that the kings of Terror, postponing their constitution, openly proclaim their omnipotence, whilst the others hypocritically rule under a constitution which they have themselves destroyed, and reign by virtue of a title which interdicts royalty to them.

They, too, maintain themselves by Terror; only, like so many Tartuffes, they are not disposed to act openly as executioners. The Directory, heir to the Convention, affects to repudiate its inheritance: "Woe," says Boulay de la Meurthe, "to whoever would re-establish scaffolds." There is to be no guillotine; its purveyors have been too strongly denounced; they stand too near the red stream and view with too great nervous horror those who fed it. It is better to employ death at a distance, lingering and spontaneous, with no effusion of human blood, "dry," less repulsive than the other sort, but more painful and not less certain; this shall be imprisonment on the marshes of Rochefort, and, better still, transportation to the feverish coasts of Guyanna: there is no distinction between the mode used by the Convention and that of the Directory, except the distinction between to kill and to cause death.[5184] Moreover, every brutality that can be employed to repress the indignation of the proscribed by fear is exhausted on the way.—The first convoy which bears away, with thirteen others, Barthelemy, who negotiated the treaty of Basle, Pichegru, the conqueror of Holland, Lafond-Ladebat, president of the council of the Five Hundred, Barbe-Marbois, president of the council of the Ancients, was at first provided with carriages.[5185] An order of the Directory substitutes for these the prison van, an iron car with one door bolted and padlocked, and, overhead, openings through which the rain poured in streams, and with common boards for seats. This lumbering machine without springs rolls along at a fast trot along the ruts in the road, each jolt sending the condemned inmates against the hard oak sides and roof; one of these, on reaching Blois, "shows his black-and-blue elbows." The man selected to command this escort is the vilest and most brutal reprobate in the army, Dutertre, a coppersmith foreman before the Revolution, next an officer and sentenced to be put in irons for stealing in the La Vendee war, and such a natural robber that he again robs his men of their pay on the road; he is evidently qualified for his work. On stopping at Blois, "he passes the night in an orgy with his brothers and friends," fellow-thieves and murderers as above described. He curses Madame Barbe-Marbois who comes to take leave of her husband, dismissing on the spot the commandant of the gendarmerie who supports her in a swoon, and, noticing the respect and attentions which all the inhabitants, even the functionaries, show to the prisoners, he cries out, "Well, what airs and graces for people that will perhaps be dead in three or four days!" On the vessel which transports them, and still in sight of Rochelle, a boat is observed rowing vigorously to overtake them and they hear a shout of "I am Lafond-Ladebat's son! Allow me to embrace my father!" A speaking-trumpet from the vessel replies: "Keep away or you'll be fired on!"—Their cabins, on the voyage, are noxious; they are not allowed to be on deck more than four at a time, one hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. The sailors and soldiers are forbidden to speak to them; their food consists of a sailor's ration, and this is spoilt; toward the end of the voyage they are starved. In Guyanna they are allowed one candle to a mess, and no table-linen; they lack water, or it is not drinkable; out of sixteen taken to Sinnamary only two survive.

Those who are deported the following year, priests, monks, deputies, journalists and artisans accused of emigration, fare worse. On all the roads leading to Rochefort, sorrowful crowds are seen on carts or tramping along in files, on foot, the same as former chains of convicts. "An old man of eighty-two, Monsieur Dulaurent of Quimper, thus traverses four departments," in irons which strangle him. Following upon this, the poor creatures, between the decks of the "Decade" and the "Bayonnaise," crammed in, suffocated through lack of air and by the torrid heat, badly treated and robbed, die of hunger or asphyxia, while Guyanna completes the work of the voyage: out of 193 conveyed on board the 'Decade," only 39 remain at the end of twenty-two months, and of the 120 brought by the 'Bayonnaise," only one is left.—Meanwhile, in France, in the casemates of the islands of Rhe and Oleron, over twelve hundred priests become stifled or rot away, while, on all sides, the military commissioners in the departments shoot down vigorously. At Paris, and in its environs, at Marseilles, Lyons, Bordeaux, Rennes, and in most of the large towns, sudden arrests and clandestine abductions go on multiplying.[5186] "Nobody, on retiring to rest, is sure of awaking in freedom the next morning.... From Bayonne to Brussels, there is but one sentiment, that of unbounded consternation. No one dares either to speak to, encounter, look at or help one another. Everybody keeps aloof, trembles and hides away."—So that through this third offensive reaction, the Jacobin Conquest is completed, and the conquering band, the new feudalism, becomes a fixed installation. "All who pass here," writes a Tours habitant, "state that there is no difference in the country between these times and Robespierre's[5187]..... It is certain that the soil is not tenable, and that the people are continually threatened with exactions as in a conquered country.... Proprietors are crushed down with impositions to such an extent that they cannot meet their daily expenses, nor pay the cost of cultivation. In some of my old parishes the imposition takes about thirteen out of twenty sous of an income... The interest on money amounts to four per cent. a month... Tours, a prey to the terrorists who devour the department and hold all the offices, is in the most deplorable state; every family at all well-off, every merchant, every trader, is leaving it."—The veteran pillagers and murderers, the squireens, (hobereaux) of the reign of Terror, again appear and resume their fiefs. At Toulouse, it is Barrau, a shoemaker, famous up to 1792 for his fury under Robespierre, and Desbarreaux, another madman of 1793, formerly an actor playing the parts of valet, compelled in 1795 to demand pardon of the audience on his knees on the stage, and, not obtaining it, driven out of the house, and now filling the office of cashier in the theatre and posing as department administrator. At Blois, we find the ignoble or atrocious characters with whom we are familiar, the assassins and robbers Hezine, Giot, Venaille, Bezard, Berger, and Gidouin.[5188] Immediately after Fructidor, they stirred up their usual supporters against the first convoy of the deported, "the idlers, the rabble of the harbor, and the dregs of the people," who overwhelmed them with insults. On this new demonstration of patriotism the government restores to them their administrative or judicial "satrapies, and, odious as they are, they are endured and obeyed, with the mute and mournful obedience of despair." The soul sinks[5189] on daily perusing the executions of conscripts and emigres, and on seeing those condemned to transportation constantly passing by.... All who displease the government are set down on these lists of the dead, so-called emigres, this or that cure who is notoriously known not to have left the department." It is impossible for honest people to vote at the primary assemblies; consequently, "the elections are frightful. The "brothers" and their friends loudly proclaim that neither nobles, priests, proprietors, merchants, nor justice are wanted; everything is to be given up to pillage." Let France perish rather than accept their domination. "The wretches have announced that they will not give up their places without overthrowing all, destroying palaces and setting Paris on fire."



VII. Enforcement of Pure Jacobinism.

Application and aggravation of the laws of the reign of Terror.—Measures taken to impose civic religion.—Arrest, transportation, and execution of Priests.—Ostracism proposed against the entire anti-Jacobin class.—The nobles or the ennobled, not emigres, are declared foreigners. —Decrees against emigres of every class.—Other steps taken against remaining proprietors.—Bankruptcy, forced loan, hostages.

It is natural that with pure Jacobins one notes the re-appearance of the pure Jacobinism, the egalitarian and anti-Christian socialism, the programme of the funereal year; in short, the rigid, plain, exterminating ideas which the sect gathers together, like daggers encrusted with gore, from the cast-off robes of Robespierre, Billaud-Varennes and Collot d'Herbois.[5190]

In the forefront appears the fixed and favorite idea of the old-fashioned philosophism. By that I mean the consistent and decreed plan to found a lay religion, and impose the observances and dogmas of its theories on twenty-six millions of Frenchmen, and, consequently extirping Christianity, its worship and its clergy. The inquisitors who hold office multiply, with extraordinary persistence and minuteness, proscriptions and vigorous measures for the forcible conversion of the nation. The aim is to substitute the improvised rites of a logical abstraction mechanically elaborated in the closet for the tender emotions nourished by the customs of eighteen centuries.—Never did the dull imagination of a third-rate scholar and classic poetaster, never did the grotesque solemnity of a pedant fond of his phrases, never did the irritating hardness of the narrow and stubborn devotee display with greater sentimental bombast and more administrative officiousness than in the decrees of the Legislative Corps,[5191] in the acts passed by the Directory and in the instructions issued by the ministers Sotin, Letourneur, Lambrechts, Duval and Francois de Neufchateau. War on Sunday, on the old calendar and on fasting, obligatory rest on the decadi under penalty of fine and imprisonment,[5192] obligatory fetes on the anniversaries of January 21 and Fructidor 18, participation of all functionaries with their cult, obligatory attendance of public and private instructors with their pupils of both sexes at civic ceremonies, an obligatory liturgy with catechisms and programmes sent from Paris, rules for scenic display and for singings, readings, postures, acclamations and imprecations. One might shrug his shoulders at these prescriptions of cuistres and these parades of puppets, if, behind the apostles who compose moral allegories, we did not detect the persecutor who imprisons, tortures and murders.—By the decree of Fructidor 19, not only were all the laws of the reign of Terror against unsworn priests, their harborers and their followers, enforced again, but the Directory arrogated to itself the right of banishing, "through individual acts passed for cause," every ecclesiastic "who disturbed the public peace," that is to say who exercised his ministry and preached his faith;[5193] and, moreover, the right of shooting down, within twenty-four hours, every priest who, banished by the laws of 1792 and 1793, has remained in or returned to France. Almost all the ecclesiastics, even those who are sworn, are comprised within the first category; the administration enumerates 366 in the department of Doubs alone,[5194] and 556 in that of Herault. Thousands of ecclesiastics are comprised in the second category; the administration enumerates over 800 who, returned from the frontier of Spain alone, still wander about the southern departments. On the strength of this the moralists in office proclaim a hunt for the black game in certain places, an universal destruction without exception or reprieve. For instance, in Belgium, recently incorporated with France, the whole of the regular and secular clergy is proscribed en masse and tracked for transportation; 560 ecclesiastics in "Ourthe and the forests", 539 in Escaut, 883 in Jemmapes, 884 in Sambre-et-Meuse, 925 in la Lys, 957 in Deux-Nethes, 1,043 in Meuse-Inferieure, 1,469 in Dyle, in all 7,260, without counting the missing names.[5195] A number of them escape abroad or hide away; but the rest are caught, and quite enough of them to load and fill the carts constantly.—"Not a day passes," says an inhabitant of Blois,[5196] "when from seven to twenty and more are lodged at the Carmelites." The next day they set out for the casemates of Rhe and Oleron, or for the Sinnamary marshes, where it is known what becomes of them: after a few months, three-fourths of them lie in the cemetery.—In the interior, from time to time, some are shot as an example—seven at Besancon, one at Lyons, three in the Bouches-du-Rhone, while the opponents of fanaticism, the official philanthropists, the enlightened deists of Fructidor, use all these disguised or declared murders as a basis on which to rear the cult of Reason.

It remains now to consolidate the worship of Reason with the reign of Equality, which is the second article in the Jacobin credo. The object now is to mow down all the heads which rise above the common level, and, this time, to mow them down, not one by one, but in large groups. Saint-Just himself had only covertly proposed so extensive and so sweeping an operation. Sieyes, Merlin de Douai, Reubell, Chazal, Chenier, and Boulay de la Meurthe, more openly and decidedly insist on a radical amputation. According to them,[5197] it is necessary "to regulate this ostracism," by banishing "all those whose prejudices, pretensions, even existence, in a word, are incompatible with republican government." That is to say, not alone priests, but likewise nobles and the ennobled, all parliamentarians, those who are well-off and distinguished among the bourgeoisie and former notables, about two hundred thousand property-holders, men and women; in short, all who still remained among those oppressed and ruined by the Revolution.[5198]—The proposal was turned down by the ex-noble Barras and by the public out-cry "of merchants and workmen themselves," and banishment is replaced by civic degradation. Henceforth,[5199] every noble or ennobled person, even if he has not left the territory, even if he has constantly and punctually obeyed revolutionary laws, even if he be not related to, or allied with, any emigre, finds himself deprived of his quality as a Frenchman. The fact alone of his being ennobled or noble before 1789, obliged him to be naturalized according to legal forms and conditions.—As to the 150,000 gentlemen, artisans and farmers who have emigrated or who have been accused of emigration, if they have returned to, or remain in France, they are to leave Paris and all communes above 20,000 souls within twenty-four hours, and France in fifteen days. If not, they are to be arrested, brought before the military commissions and shot on the spot;[51100] in fact, in many places, at Paris, Besancon and Lyons, they are shot.—Now, a large number of pretended emigrants, who had never left France,[51101] nor even their province, nor even their commune, and whose names have been put on the lists simply to strip them of their property, find that they are no longer protected either by the constancy or the notoriety of their residence. The new law is no sooner read than they begin to imagine the firing squad; the natal soil is too warm for them and they speedily emigrate.[51102] On the other hand, once the name is down on the list, rightly or wrongly, it is never removed. The government purposely refuses to strike it off, while two decrees are applied which render its removal impossible;[51103] each name maintained on the list of spoliation and death relieves the Revolution of a probable adversary, and places one more domain at its disposal.

The Directory renews and aggravates the measures of the Convention against the remainder of the property-holders: there is no longer a disguised but a declared bankruptcy. 386,000 fund-holders and pensioners are deprived of two-thirds of their revenue and of their capital.[51104] A forced loan of 100 millions is levied progressively, and wholly on "the well-off class." Finally, there is the law of hostages, this being atrocious, conceived in the spirit of September, 1792, suggested by the famous motions of Collot d'Herbois against those in confinement, and of Billaud-Varennes against the youth, Louis XVII., but extended, elaborated and drawn up with cool legal acumen, and enforced and applied with the foresight of an administrator.—Remark that, without counting the Belgian departments, where an extensive insurrection is under way and spreading, more than one-half of the territory falls under the operation of this law. for, out of the eighty-six departments of France,[51105] properly so called, forty-five are at this moment, according to the terms of the decree,[51106] "declared to be in a state of civil uprising." Actually, in these departments, according to official reports, armed mobs of conscripts are resisting the authorities charged with recruiting them, bands of two hundred, three hundred and eight hundred men overrun the country, troops of brigands force open the prisons, assassinate the gendarmes and set their inmates free; the tax-collectors are robbed, killed or maimed, municipal officers slain, proprietors ransomed, estates devastated, and diligences stopped on the highways." Now, in all these cases, in all the departments, cantons or communes, three classes of persons, at first the relations and allies of the emigres, next the former nobles and ennobled, and finally the "fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers of persons who, without being ex-nobles or relations of emigres," nevertheless form a part of the bands or mobs, are declared "personally and civilly responsible" for the violent acts committed. Even when these acts are only "imminent," the administration of the department must, in its report, give a list of all the men and women who are responsible; these are to be taken as "hostages," and kept in confinement at their own expense in the local jail. If they escape, they must be put on the same footing as emigres, that is to say punished with death. If any damage is sustained, they are to pay costs; if any murder is committed or abduction effected, four amongst them must be deported. Observe, moreover, that the local authorities are obliged, under severe penalties, to execute the law at once. Note that, at this date, they are ultra Jacobin, since to inscribe on the list of hostages, not a noble or a bourgeois, but an honest peasant or respectable artisan, it suffices for these local sovereigns to designate his son or grandson, who might either be absent, fugitive or dead, as being "notoriously "insurgent or refractory. The fortunes, liberties and lives of every individual in easy circumstances are thus legally surrendered to the despotism, cupidity and hostility of the levelers in office.—Contemporaries estimate that 200,000 persons were affected by this law.[51107] The Directory, during the three months of existence yet remaining to it, enforces it in seventeen departments; thousands of women and old men are arrested, put in confinement, and ruined, while several are sent off to Cayenne—and this is called respect for the rights of man.



VIII. Propaganda and Foreign Conquests.

Propaganda and foreign conquests.—Proximity and advantages of Peace.—Motives of the Fructidorians for breaking off peace negotiations with England, and for abandoning the invasion of foreign countries.—How they found new republics.—How governed.—Estimate of foreign rapine. —Number of French lives sacrificed in the war.

After the system which the Fructidoreans establish in France, we may consider the system they impose abroad—always the same contrast, between the name and the thing, the same phrases covering the same misdeeds, and, under proclamations of liberty the institution of brigandage.—Undoubtedly, in any invaded province which thus passes from an old to a new despotism, fine words cleverly spoken produce at first the intended effect. But, in a few weeks or months, the ransomed, enlisted and forcibly "Frenchified" inhabitants, discover that the revolutionary right is much more oppressive, more harassing and more rapacious than divine right.

It is the right of the strongest. The reigning Jacobins know no other, abroad as well as at home, and, in the use they make of it, they are not restrained like ordinary statesmen, by a thorough comprehension of the interests of the State, by experience and tradition, by far-reaching plans, by an estimate of present and future strength. Being a sect, they subordinate France to their dogmas, and, with the narrow views, pride and arrogance of the sectary, they profess the same intolerance, the same need of domination and his instincts for propagandas and invasion.—This belligerent and tyrannical spirit they had already displayed under the Legislative Assembly, and they are intoxicated with it under the Convention. After Thermidor,[51108] and after Vendemiaire, they remained the same; they became rigid against "the faction of old boundaries," and against any moderate policy; at first, against the pacific minority, then against the pacific majority, against the entreaties of all France, against their own military director, "the organizer of victory " Carnot, who, as a good Frenchman, is not desirous of gratuitously increasing the embarrassments of France nor of taking more than France could usefully and surely keep.—If, before Fructidor, his three Jacobin colleagues, Reubell, Barras and La Revelliere, broke with him, it was owing not merely to inside matters, but also to outside matters, as he opposed their boundless violent purposes. They were furious on learning the preliminary treaty of Leoben, so advantageous to France; they insulted Carnot, who had effected it;[51109] when Barthelemy, the ablest and most deserving diplomat in France, became their colleague, his recommendations, so sensible and so well warranted, obtained from them no other welcome than derision.[51110] They already desire, and obstinately, to get possession of Switzerland, lay hands on Hamburg, "humiliate England," and "persevere in the unlucky system of the Committee of Public Safety," that is to say, in the policy of war, conquest and propaganda. Now that the 18th Fructidor is accomplished, Barthelemy deported, and Carnot in flight, this policy is going to be applied everywhere.

Never had peace been so near at hand;[51111] they almost had)it in their grasp; conference at Lille it was only necessary to take complete hold of it. England, the last and most tenacious of her enemies, was disarming; not only did she accept the aggrandizement of France, the acquisition of Belgium and the left bank of the Rhine, the avowed as well as the disguised annexations, the great Republic as patron and the smaller ones as clients, Holland, Genoa, and the Cis-Alpine country, but, again, she restored all her own conquests, all the French colonies, all the Dutch colonies, except the Cape of Good Hope,[51112] and all the Spanish colonies except Trinidad. All that amour-propre could demand was obtained, and they obtained more than could be prudently expected; there was not a competent and patriotic statesman in France who would not have signed the treaty with the greatest satisfaction.—But the motives which, before Fructidor, animated Carnot and Barthelemy, the motives which, after Fructidor, animated Colchen and Maret, do not animate the Fructidoreans. France is of but little consequence to them; they are concerned only for their faction, for power, and for their own persons. La Revelliere, president of the Directory, through vainglory, "wanted to have his name go with the general peace;" but he is controlled by Barras, who needs war in order to fish in troubled waters,[51113] and especially by Reubell, a true Jacobin in temperament and intellect, "ignorant and vain, with the most vulgar prejudices of an uneducated and illiterate man," one of those coarse, violent, narrow sectarians anchored on a fixed idea and whose "principles consist in revolutionizing everything with cannon-balls without examining wherefore."[51114] There is no need of knowing the wherefore; the animal instinct of self-preservation suffices to impel the Jacobins onward, and, for a long time, their clear-sighted men, among them Sieyes, their thinker and oracle, have told them that "if they make peace they are lost."[51115]—To exercise their violence within they require peril without; lacking the pretext of public safety they cannot prolong their usurpation, their dictatorship, their despotism, their inquisition, their proscriptions, their exactions. Suppose that peace is effected, will it be possible for the government, hated and despised as it is, to maintain and elect its minions against public clamor at the coming elections? Will so many retired generals consent to live on half-pay, indolent and obedient? Will Hoche, so ardent and so absolute, will Bonaparte, who already meditates his coup-d'etat,[51116] be willing to stand sentry for four petty lawyers or litterateurs without any titles and for Barras, a street-general, who never saw a regular battle? Moreover on this skeleton of France, desiccated by five years of spoliation, how can the armed swarm be fed even provisionally, the swarm, which, for two years past, subsists only through devouring neighboring nations? Afterwards, how disband four hundred thousand hungry officers and soldiers? And how, with an empty Treasury, supply the millions which, by a solemn decree, under the title of a national recompense, have once more just been promised to them.[51117] Nothing but a prolonged war, or designedly begun again, a war indefinitely and systematically extended, a war supported by conquest and pillage can give armies food, keep generals busy, the nation resigned, the maintenance of power of the ruling faction, and secure to the Directors their places, their profits, their dinners and their mistresses. And this is why they, at first, break with England through repeated exactions, and then with Austria and the Emperor, through premeditated attacks, and again with Switzerland, Piedmont, Tuscany, Naples, Malta, Russia and even the Porte.[51118] At length, the veils fall and the character of the sect stands out nakedly. Defense of the country, deliverance of the people, all its grand phrases disappear in the realm of empty words. It reveals itself just as it is, an association of pirates on a cruise, who after ravaging their own coast, go further off and capture bodies and goods, men and things. Having eaten France, the Parisian band undertakes to eat all Europe, "leaf by leaf, like the head of an artichoke."[51119]

Why recount the tragic comedy they play at home and which they repeat abroad? The piece abroad is the same as that played in Paris for the past eight years,[51120] an absurd, hasty translation in Flemish, Dutch, German, and Italian, a local adaptation, just as it happens, with variations, elisions and abbreviations, but always with the same ending, a shower of blows with gun and sword on all property-owners, communities, and individuals, compelling the surrender of their purses and valuables of every description, and which they gave up, even to remaining without a sou or even a shirt. As a rule, the nearest general, or resident titulary in every small state which has to be turned to account, stirs up malcontents against the established authorities, never lacking under the ancient regime, especially all social outcasts, adventurers, coffee-house ranters and young hot-heads, in short the Jacobins of the country; these, to the French representative, are henceforth the people of the country, if only a knot of the vilest sort. The legal authorities are forbidden to repress them, or punish them; they are inviolable. Employing threats or main force, he interferes in their support, or to sanction their assaults; he breaks up, or obliges them to break up, the vital organ of society; here, royalty or aristocracy, there, the senate and the magistracy, everywhere the old hierarchy, all cantonal, provincial and municipal statutes and secular federation or constitutions. He then inaugurates on this cleared ground the government of Reason, that is to say, some artificial imitation of the French constitution; he himself, to this end, appoints the new magistrates. If he allows them to be elected, it is by his clients and under his bayonets; this constitutes a subject republic under the name of an ally, and which commissioners dispatched from Paris manage to the beat of the drum. The revolutionary regime with anti-Christian despoiling and leveling laws, is despotically applied. The 18th of Fructidor is carried out over and over again; the constitution is revised according to the last Parisian pattern, while the Legislative Corps and Directory are repeatedly purged in military fashion.[51121] Only valets are tolerated at the head of it: its army is added to the French army; twenty thousand Swiss are drafted in Switzerland and made to fight against the Swiss and the friends of Switzerland. Belgium, incorporated with France, is subjected to the conscription. National and religious sentiment suppressed, exploited, offended, to the extend of stirring up insurrections,[51122] religious and national. Five or six rural and lasting Vendees take place in Belgium, Switzerland, Piedmont, Venetia, Lombardy, the Roman States and Naples, while fire, pillaging and shooting are employed to repress them. Any description of this would be feeble; statements in figures are necessary and I can give but two.

One of them is the list of robberies committed abroad,[51123] and this comprises only the rapine executed according to order; it omits private plunderings without any orders by officers, generals, soldiers and commissaries; these are enormous, but cannot be estimated. The only approximate total which can be arrived at, is the authentic list of robberies which the Jacobin corsair, authorized by letters of marque, had already committed in December, 1798, outside of France, on public or on private parties; exactions in coin imposed in Belgium, Holland, Germany and Italy, amounting to 655 millions; seizure and removal of gold and silver objects, plate, jewels, works of art and other precious objects, 305 millions; requisitions of provisions, 361 millions; confiscations of the property, real estate and movables, of deposed sovereigns, that of the regular and secular clergy, that of corporations and associations even laic, of absent or fugitive proprietors, 700 millions; in all, in three years 2 billion livres.—If we closely examine this monstrous sum, we find, as in the coffers of an Algerian pirate, a booty which up to this time, belligerent Christians, commanders of regular armies, would have shrunk from taking, and on which the Jacobin chiefs incontinently and preferably lay hands:

* the plate and furniture of churches in the Netherlands, in Liege, and in the Electoral sections of the Lower Rhine, 25 millions;

* the plate and furniture of churches in Lombardy, in the three Legations, in the State of Venice, in Modena, and the States of the Church, 65 millions;

* diamonds, plate, gold crosses and other depots of the Monts.de-piete at Milan, Bologna, Ravenna, Modena, Venice and Rome, 56 millions;

* furniture and works of art at Milan and in other towns, 5 millions;

* furniture and works of art in the Venetian towns and palaces of Brenta, 6, 500,000;

* the spoils of Rome sacked, as formerly by the mercenaries of the Duc de Bourbon, collections of antiques, pictures, bronzes, statues, the treasures of the Vatican and of palaces, jewels, even the pastoral ring of the Pope, which the Directorial commissary himself wrests from the Pope's finger, 43 millions,

and all this without counting analogous articles, and especially direct assessments levied on this or that individual as rich or a proprietor,[51124] veritable ransoms, similar to those demanded by the bandits of Calabria and Greece, extorted from any traveler they surprise on the highway.—

Naturally operations of this kind cannot be carried on without instruments of constraint; the Parisian manipulators must have military automatons, "saber hilts" in sufficient numbers. Now, through constant slashing, a good many hilts break, and the broken ones must be replaced; in October, 1798, 200,000 new ones are required, while the young men drafted for the purpose fail to answer the summons and fly, and even resist with arms, especially in Belgium,[51125] by maintaining a revolt for many months, with this motto: "Better die here than elsewhere."[51126] To compel their return, they are hunted down and brought to the depot with their hands tied. If they hide away, soldiers are stationed in their parents' houses. If the conscript or drafted man has sought refuge in a foreign country, even in an allied country as in Spain, he is officially inscribed on the list of emigres, and therefore, in case of return, shot within twenty-four hours; meanwhile, his property is sequestrated and likewise that of "his father, mother and grandparents."[51127]—"Formerly," says a contemporary, "reason and philosophy thundered against the rigors of punishment inflicted on deserters; but, since French reason has perfected Liberty it is no longer the small class of regular soldiers whose evasion is punished with death, but an entire generation. An extreme penalty no longer suffices for these legislative philanthropists: they add confiscation, they despoil parents for the misdemeanors of their children, and render even women responsible for a military and personal offence."

Such is the admirable calculation of the Directory—that, if it loses a soldier it gains a patrimony, and if the patrimony fails, it recovers the soldier: in any event, it fills its coffers and its ranks, while the faction, well supplied with men, may continue turning all Europe to account, wasting, in the operation, as many French lives as it pleases; requiring more than one hundred thousand men per annum, which, including those which the Convention has squandered, makes nearly nine hundred thousand in eight years.[51128] At this moment the five Directors and their minions are completing the mowing down of the virile, adult strength of the nation,[51129] and we have seen through what motives and for what object. I do not believe that any civilized nation was ever sacrificed in the same way, for such a purpose and by such rulers: the crippled remnant of a faction and sect, some hundreds of preachers no longer believing in their creed, usurpers as despised as they are detested, second-rate parvenus raised their heads not through their capacity or merit, but through the blind upheavals of a revolution, swimming on the surface for lack of weight, and, like foul scum, borne along to the crest of the wave-such are the wretches who strangle France under the pretence of setting her free, who bleed her under the pretence of making her strong, who conquer populations under the pretence of emancipating them, who despoil people under the pretence of regenerating them, and who, from Brest to Lucerne, from Amsterdam to Naples, slay and rob wholesale, systematically, to strengthen the incoherent dictatorship of their brutality, folly and corruption.



IX. National Disgust.

National antipathy to the established order of things. —Paralysis of the State.—Internal discords of the Jacobin party.—Coup d'Etat of Floreal 22, year VI.—Coup d'Etat of Prairial 30, year VII.—Impossibility of establishing a viable government.—Plans of Barras and Sieyes.

Once again has triumphant Jacobinism shown its anti-social nature, its capacity for destruction, its impotence to re-construct.—The nation, vanquished and discouraged, no longer resists, but, if it submits it is as to a pestilence, while its transportations, its administrative purifications, its decrees placing towns in a state of siege, its daily violence, only exasperate the mute antipathy.

"Everything has been done," says an honest Jacobin,[51130] "to alienate the immense majority of citizens from the Revolution and the Republic, even those who had contributed to the downfall of the monarchy... Instead of seeing the friends of the Revolution increase as we have advanced on the revolutionary path.... we see our ranks thinning out and the early defenders of liberty deserting our cause."

It is impossible for the Jacobins to rally France and reconcile her to their ways and dogmas, and on this point their own agents leave no illusion.

"Here," writes the Troyes agent,[51131] "public spirit not only needs to be revived, but it needs to be re-created. Scarcely one-fifth of the citizens side with the government, and this fifth is hated and despised by the majority.... Who attend upon and celebrate the national fetes? Public functionaries whom the law summons to them, and many of these fetes often dispense with them. It is the same public spirit which does not allow honest folks to take part in them and in the addresses made at them, and which keeps those women away who ought to be their principal ornament.... The same public spirit looks only with indifference and contempt on the republican, heroic actions given on the stage, and welcomes with transport all that bears any allusion to royalty and the ancient regime. The parvenus themselves of the Revolution, the generals, the deputies, dislike Jacobin institutions;[51132] they place children in the chapel schools and send them to the confessional, while the deputies who, in '92 and '93, showed the most animosity to priests, do not consider their daughter well brought up unless she has made her first communion. "—

The little are still more hostile than the great.

"A fact unfortunately too true," writes the commissary of a rural canton,[51133] "is that the people en masse seem not to want any of our institutions.... It is considered well-bred, even among country folks, to show disdain for everything characteristic of republican usages... Our rich farmers, who have profited most by the Revolution, are the bitterest enemies of its forms: any citizen who depended on them for the slightest favor and thought it well to address them as citizen, would be turned out of their houses."

To call someone Citizen is an insult, and patriot a still greater one; for this term signifies Jacobin, partisan, murderer, robber[51134] and, as they were then styled, "man-eaters." What is worse is that a falsification of the word has brought discredit on the thing.—Nobody, say the reports, troubles himself about the general interest;[51135] nobody will serve as national guard or mayor.

"Public spirit has fallen into such a lethargic slumber as to make one fear its complete collapse. Our successes or our failures excite neither uneasiness nor pleasure.[51136] It seems, on reading the accounts of battles, as if it were the history of another people. The changes that take place within our borders no longer excite any emotion; one asks out of curiosity, one is answered without any interest, one learns with indifference."

"The pleasures of Paris[51137] are not disturbed a moment by any the Crises which succeed each other, nor by those which are feared. Never were the theatres and public entertainments more frequented. At the 'Tivoli,' it is said that it is going to be worse than ever; the country (patrie) is called la patraque, and dancing goes on."

This is understandable enough; how can one interest one's self in the public weal when there is none, when the common patrimony of all has become the private property of a gang, when this gang is devouring or wasting all in the interior and outside the frontier, where it is playing heads or tails? The Jacobins, through their final victory, have dried patriotism up, that is to say, the deep inward spring which supplies the substance, the vitality and the force of the State.—In vain do they multiply rigorous decrees and imperious prescriptions; each energetic blow is absorbed by the general and mute resistance of intentional passivity and of insurmountable disgust. They do not obtain from their subjects any of that unconscious obedience, that degree of passive co-operation, without which the law remains a dead letter.[51138] Their Republic, so young,

"is attacked by that nameless malady which commonly attacks only old governments, a species of senile consumption to which one can give no other definition than that of the difficulty of living; nobody strives to overthrow it, although it seems to have lost the power of standing erect."[51139]

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