Destructive impulses. — The object of blind rage. — Distrust of natural leaders. — Suspicion of them changed into hatred. — Disposition of the people in 1789.
This owing to the absence of leaders and in the absence of organization, a mob is simply a herd. Its mistrust of its natural leaders, of the great, of the wealthy, of persons in office and clothed with authority, is inveterate and incurable. Vainly do these wish it well and do it good; it has no faith in their humanity or disinterestedness. It has been too down-trodden; it entertains prejudices against every measure proceeding from them, even the most liberal and the most beneficial. “At the mere mention of the new assemblies,” says a provincial commission in 1787, “we heard a workman exclaim, ‘What, more new extortioners!’ " Superiors of every kind are suspected, and from suspicion to hostility the road is not long. In 1788 Mercier declares that “insubordination has been manifest for some years, especially among the trades. . . . Formerly, on entering a printing-office the men took off their hats. Now they content themselves with staring and leering at you; scarcely have you crossed threshold when you yourself more lightly spoken of than if you were one of them.” The same attitude is taken by the peasants in the environment of Paris; Madame Vigée-Lebrun, on going to Romainville to visit Marshal de Ségur, remarks: “Not only do they not remove their hats but they regard us insolently; some of them even threatened us with clubs.” In March and