The Ancient Regime eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 548 pages of information about The Ancient Regime.
April following this, her guests arrive at her concert in consternation.  “In the morning, at the promenade of Longchamps, the populace, assembled at the barrier of l’Etoile, insulted the people passing by in carriages in the grossest manner; some of the wretches on the footsteps exclaiming:  ’Next year you shall be behind the carriage and we inside.’ " At the close of the year 1788, the stream becomes a torrent and the torrent a cataract.  An intendant[20] writes that, in his province, the government must decide, and in the popular sense, to separate from privileged classes, abandon old forms and give the Third-Estate a double vote.  The clergy and the nobles are detested, and their supremacy is a yoke.  “Last July,” he says, “the old States-General would have been received with pleasure and there would have been few obstacles to its formation.  During the past five months minds have become enlightened; respective interests have been discussed, and leagues formed.  You have been kept in ignorance of the fermentation which is at its height among all classes of the Third-Estate, and a spark will kindle the conflagration.  If the king’s decision should be favorable to the first two orders a general insurrection will occur throughout the provinces, 600,000 men in arms and the horrors of the Jacquerie.”  The word is spoken and the reality is coming.  An insurrectionary multitude rejecting its natural leaders must elect or submit to others.  It is like an army which, entering on a campaign, finding itself without officers; the vacancies are for the boldest, most violent, those most oppressed by the previous rule, and who, leading the advance, shouting “forward” and thus form the leading groups.  In 1789, the bands are ready; for, below the suffering people there is yet another people which suffers yet more, whose insurrection is permanent, and which, repressed, persecuted, and obscure, only awaits an opportunity to come out of its hiding-place and openly give their passions free vent.

IV.

Insurrectionary leaders and recruits. — Poachers. — Smugglers and dealers in contraband salt. — Bandits. — Beggars and vagabonds. — Advent of brigands. — The people of Paris.

Vagrants, recalcitrants of all kinds, fugitives of the law or the police, beggars, cripples, foul, filthy, haggard and savage, they are bred by the social injustice of the system, and around every one of the social wounds these swarm like vermin. — Four hundred captaincies protects vast quantities of game feeding on the crops under the eyes of owners of the land, transforming these into thousands of poachers, the more dangerous since they are armed, and defy the most terrible laws.  Already in 1752[21] are seen around Paris “gatherings of fifty or sixty, all fully armed and acting as if on regular foraging campaigns, with the infantry at the center and the cavalry on the wings. . . .  They live in the

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The Ancient Regime from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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