“Sire,” said M. de la Fare, bishop of Nancy, from his pulpit, May 4th, 1789, “Sire, the people over which you reign has given unmistakable proofs of its patience. . . . They are martyrs in whom life seems to have been allowed to remain to enable them to suffer the longer.”
“I am miserable because too much is taken from me. Too much is taken from me because not enough is taken from the privileged. Not only do the privileged force me to pay in their place, but, again, they previously deduct from my earnings their ecclesiastic and feudal dues. When, out of my income of 100 francs, I have parted with fifty-three francs, and more, to the collector, I am obliged again to give fourteen francs to the seignior, also more than fourteen for tithes, and, out of the remaining eighteen or nineteen francs, I have additionally to satisfy the excise men. I alone, a poor man, pay two governments, one the old government, local and now absent, useless, inconvenient and humiliating, and active only through annoyances, exemptions and taxes; and the other, recent, centralized, everywhere present, which, taking upon itself all functions, has vast needs, and makes my meager shoulders support its enormous weight.”
These, in precise terms, are the vague ideas beginning to ferment in the popular brain and encountered on every page of the records of the States-General.
“Would to God,” says a Normandy village, “the monarch might take into his own hands the defense of the miserable citizen pelted and oppressed by clerks, seigniors, justiciary and clergy!”