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|Table of Contents|
|Start of eBook||1|
|THE ANCIENT REGIME||9|
|PREFACE BY THE AUTHOR:||9|
|BOOK FIRST. THE STRUCTURE OF THE ANCIENT SOCIETY.||13|
|CHAPTER I. THE ORIGIN OF PRIVILEGES.||13|
|CHAPTER II. THE PRIVILEGED CLASSES.||23|
|CHAPTER III. LOCAL SERVICES DUE BY THE PRIVILEGED CLASSES.||36|
|CHAPTER IV. PUBLIC SERVICES DUE BY THE PRIVILEGED CLASSES.||65|
|III. Influence of the Nobles..||68|
|VI. Latent Disorganization in France.||83|
|BOOK SECOND. MORALS AND CHARACTERS.||88|
|CHAPTER I. MORAL PRINCIPLES UNDER THE ANCIENT REGIME.||88|
|VI. UPPER CLASS DISTRACTIONS.||107|
|CHAPTER II. DRAWING ROOM LIFE.||121|
|CHAPTER III. DISADVANTAGES OF THIS DRAWING ROOM LIFE.||151|
|BOOK THIRD. THE SPIRIT AND THE DOCTRINE.||162|
|CHAPTER I. SCIENTIFIC ACQUISITION.||162|
|CHAPTER II. THE CLASSIC SPIRIT, THE SECOND ELEMENT.||174|
|CHAPTER III. COMBINATION OF THE TWO ELEMENTS.||193|
|III. REASON AT WAR WITH ILLUSION.||198|
|IV. CASTING OUT THE RESIDUE OF TRUTH AND JUSTICE.||201|
|V. THE DREAM OF A RETURN TO NATURE.||203|
|VI. THE ABOLITION OF SOCIETY. ROUSSEAU.||206|
|VII: THE LOST CHILDREN.||214|
|CHAPTER IV. ORGANIZING THE FUTURE SOCIETY.||217|
|II. NAIVE CONVICTIONS||219|
|V. SOCIAL CONTRACT, SUMMARY.||232|
|BOOK FOURTH. THE PROPAGATION OF THE DOCTRINE.||235|
|IV. THE MASTERS.||241|
|CHAPTER II. THE FRENCH PUBLIC.||257|
|II. CONDITIONS IN FRANCE.||258|
|III. FRENCH INDOLENCE.||263|
|V. POLITICAL OPPOSITION.||270|
|VI. WELL-MEANING GOVERNMENT.||273|
|CHAPTER III. THE MIDDLE CLASS.||282|
|BOOK FIFTH. THE PEOPLE||302|
|CHAPTER I. HARDSHIPS.||302|
|II. THE PEASANTS.||308|
|III. THE COUNTRYSIDE.||311|
|IV. THE PEASANT BECOMES LANDOWNER.||314|
|CHAPTER II. TAXATION THE PRINCIPAL CAUSE OF MISERY.||319|
|II. LOCAL CONDITIONS.||320|
|III. THE COMMON LABORER.||322|
|IV. COLLECTIONS AND SEIZURES.-||323|
|V. INDIRECT TAXES.||325|
|VI. BURDENS AND EXEMPTIONS.||329|
|VII. MUNICIPAL TAXATION.||333|
|VIII. COMPLAINTS IN THE REGISTERS.||335|
|CHAPTER III. INTELLECTUAL STATE OF THE PEOPLE.||340|
|CHAPTER IV. The Armed Forces.||354|
|CHAPTER V. SUMMARY.||361|
|END OF VOLUME NOTES:||365|
Why should we fetch Taine’s work up from its dusty box in the basement of the national library? First of all because his realistic views of our human nature, of our civilization and of socialism as well as his dark premonitions of the 20th century were proven correct. Secondly because we may today with more accuracy call his work:
“The Origins of Popular Democracy and of Communism.”
His lucid analysis of the current ideology remains as interesting or perhaps even more interesting than when it was written especially because we cannot accuse him of being part in our current political and ideological struggle.
Even though I found him wise, even though he confirmed my own impressions from a rich and varied life, even though I considered that our children and the people at large should benefit from his insights into the innermost recesses of the political Man, I still felt it would be best to find out why his work had been put on the index by the French and largely forgotten by the Anglo-Saxon world. So I consulted a contemporary French authority, Jean-François Revel who mentions Taine works in his book, “La Connaissance Inutile.” (Paris 1988). Revel notes that a socialist historian, Alphonse Aulard methodically and dishonestly attacked “Les Origines..”, and that Aulard was specially recruited by the University of Sorbonne for this purpose. Aulard pretended that Taine was a poor historian by finding a number of errors in Taine’s work. This was done, says Revel, because the ‘Left’ came to see Taine’s work as “a vile counter-revolutionary weapon.” The French historian Augustin Cochin proved, however, that Aulard and not Taine had made the errors but by that time Taine had been defamed and his works removed from the shelves of the French universities.
Now Taine was not a professional historian. Perhaps this was as well since most professional historians, even when conscientious and accurate, rarely are in a position to be independent. They generally work for a university, for a national public or for the ministry of education and their books, once approved, may gain a considerable income once millions of pupils are compelled to acquire these.
Taine initially became famous, not as a professional historian but as a literary critic and journalist. His fame allowed him to sell his books and articles and make a comfortable living without cow-towing to any government or university. He wrote as he saw fit, truthfully, even though it might displease a number of powerful persons.
Taine did not pretend to be a regular historian, but rather someone enquiring into the history of Public Authorities and their supporters. Through his comments he appears not only as a decent person but also as a psychologist and seer. He describes mankind, as I know it from my life in institutions, at sea and abroad in a large international organization. He describes mankind as it was, as it was seen by Darwin in ’the expressions of emotions in man and animals. Taine described the human being as he was and is and had the courage to tell the French about themselves, their ancient rulers, and the men of the Revolution, even if it went against the favorable opinion so many of his countrymen had of this terrible period. His understanding of our evolution, of mankind and of the evolution of society did not find favor with men who believed that they in the socialist ideology had found the solution to all social ills. Only recently has science begun to return to Darwin in order to rediscover the human being as Taine knew him. You can find Taine’s views of humanity confirmed in Robert Wright’s book ‘the moral animal.’ (Why we are the way we are.)
Taine had full access to the files of the French National archives and these and other original documents. Taine had received a French classical education and, being foremost among many brilliant men, had a capacity for study and work which we no longer demand from our young. He accepted Man and society, as they appeared to him, he described his findings without compassion for the hang-ups of his prejudiced countrymen. He described Man as a gregarious animal living for a brief spell in a remote corner of space, whose different cultures and nations had evolved haphazardly in time, carried along by forces and events exceeding our comprehension, blindly following their innate drives. These drives were followed with cunning but rarely with far-sighted wisdom. Taine, the prophet, has more than ever something to tell us. He warned his countrymen against themselves, their humanity, and hence against their fears, anxieties, greed, ambitions, conceit and excessive imagination. His remarks and judgments exhort us to be responsible, modest and kind and to select wise and modest leaders. He warns us against young hungry men’s natural desire to mass behind a tribune and follow him onwards, they hope, along the high road to excitement, fame, power and riches. He warns us against our readiness to believe in myth and metaphysics, demonstrating how Man will believe anything, even the most mystical or incomprehensible religion or ideology, provided it is preached by his leaders. History, as seen by Taine, is one long series of such adventures and horrors and nowhere was this more evident than in France before, during and after the Revolution in 1789.
Taine became, upon reading ‘On the Origins of the Species’ a convinced Darwinian and was, the year after Darwin, honored by the University of Oxford with the title of doctor honoris causa in jure civili for his ‘History of English Literature’. Taine was not a methodical ideologist creating a system. He did not defend any particular creed or current. He was considered some kind of positivist but he did not consider himself as belonging to any particular school.
The 6 volumes of “Les Origines de la France Contemporaine” appeared one after the other in Paris between 1875 and 1893. They were translated into English and published in New York soon afterwards. They were also translated into German. Taine’s direct views displeased many in France, as the Royalists, the bonapartist and the Socialists felt hurt. Still, the first edition of Volume II of “Le régime moderne” published by Hachette in 1894 indicated that “L’ANCIEN regime” at that time had been printed in 18 editions, “La Révolution” volume I in 17 editions, volume II in 16 editions and volume III in 13 editions. “Le régime moderne” volume I had been printed in only 8 editions. Photographic reprints appeared in the us in 1932 and 1962.
Taine’s description and analysis of events in France between 1750 and 1870 are, as you will see colorful, lucid, and sometimes intense. His style might today appear dated since he writes in rather long sentences, using parables to drive his points firmly home. His books were widely read in academic circles and therefore influenced a great many political students in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Lenin, who came to Paris around 1906, might well have profited by Taine’s analysis. Hitler is also likely to have profited by his insights. Lenin was like so many other socialists of his day a great admirer of Robespierre and his party and would undoubtedly have tried to find out how Robespierre got into power and why he lost his hold on France the way he did. Part of Taine’s art was to place himself into the place of the different people and parties who took part in the great events. When pretends to speak for the Jacobins, it so convincingly done, that it is hard to know whether he speaks on ‘their’ behalf or whether he is, in fact, quoting one of them.
Taine, like the Napoleon he described, believed that in order to understand people you are aided if you try to imagine yourself in their place. This procedure, as well as his painstaking research, make his descriptions of the violent events of the past ring true.
Taine knew and described the evil inherent in human nature and in the crowd. His warnings and explanations did not prevent Europe from repeating the mistakes of the past. The 20th century saw a replay of the French Revolution repeated in all its horror when Lenin, Mao, Hoxa, and Pol Pot followed the its script and when Stalin and Hitler made good use of Napoleon’s example.
Taine irritated the elite of the 3rd French republic as well as everyone who believed in the popular democracy based on one person one vote. You can understand when you read the following preface which was actually placed in front of “The Revolution” volume II. Since it clarifies Taine’s aims and justifications, I have moved and placed it below.
Not long before his death Taine, sensing that his wisdom and deep insights into human nature and events, no longer interested the élite, remarked to a friend that “the scientific truth about the human animal is perhaps unacceptable except for a very few". Now, 100 years later, after a century of ideological wars between ambitious men, I am afraid that the situation remains unchanged. Mankind remains reluctant to face the realities of our uncontrolled existence! A few men begin, however, to share my misgivings about the future of a system which has completely given up the respect for wisdom and experience preferring a system of elaborate human rights and new morals. There is reason to recall Macchiavelli’s words:
“In times of difficulty men of merit are sought after, but in easy times it is not men of merit, but such as have riches and powerful relations, that are most in favor.”
And let me to quote the Greek historian Polybius’ observations about the cyclic evolution of the Greek city states:
“. . . What then are the beginnings I speak of and what is the first origin of political societies? When owing to floods, famines, failure of crops or other such causes there occurs such a destruction of the human race as tradition tells us has more than once happened, and as we must believe will often happen again, all arts and crafts perishing at the same time, when in the course of time, when springing from the survivors as from seeds men have again increased in numbers and just like other animals form herds — it being a matter of course that they too should herd together with those of their kind owing to their natural weakness — it is a necessary consequence that the man who excels in bodily strength and in courage will lead and rule over the rest. We observe and should regard as a most genuine work of nature this very phenomenon in the case of the other animals which act purely by instinct and among who the strongest are always indisputable the masters — I speak of bulls, boars, cocks, and the like. It is probable then that at the beginning men lived thus, herding together like animals and following the lead of the strongest and bravest, the ruler’s strength being here the sole limit to his power and the name we should give his rule being monarchy.
But when in time feelings of sociability and companionship begin to grow in such gatherings of men, then kingship has truck root; and the notions of goodness, justice, and their opposites begin to arise in men.
6. The manner in which these notions come into being is as follows. Men being all naturally inclined to sexual intercourse, and the consequence this being the birth of children, whenever one of those who have been reared does not on growing up show gratitude to those who reared him or defend them, but on the contrary takes to speaking ill of them or ill-treating them, it is evident that he will displease and offend those who have been familiar with his parents and have witnessed the care and pains they spent on attending to and feeding their children. For seeing that men are distinguished from the other animals possessing the faculty of reason, it is obviously improbable that such a difference of conduct should escape them, as it escapes the other animals: they will notice the thing and be displeased at what is going on, looking to the future and reflecting that they may all meet with the same treatment. Again when a man who has been helped or succored when in danger by another does not show gratitude to his preserver, but even goes to the length of attempting to do him injury, it is clear that those who become aware of it will naturally be displeased and offended by such conduct, sharing the resentment of their injured neighbor and imagining themselves in the same situation. From all this there arises in everyone a notion of the meaning and theory of duty, which is the beginning and end of justice. Similarly, again, when any man is foremost in defending his fellows from danger, and braves and awaits the onslaught of the most powerful beasts, it is natural that he should receive marks of favor and honor from the people, while the man who acts in the opposite manner will meet with reprobation and dislike. From this again some idea of what is base and what is noble and of what constitutes the difference is likely to arise among the people; and noble conduct will be admired and imitated because advantageous, while base conduct will be avoided. Now when the leading and most powerful man among people always throws the weight of his authority the side of the notions on such matters which generally prevail, and when in the opinion of his subjects he apportions rewards and penalties according to desert, they yield obedience to him no longer because they fear his force, but rather because their judgment approves him; and they join in maintaining his rule even if he is quite enfeebled by age, defending him with one consent and battling against those who conspire to overthrow his rule. Thus by insensible degrees the monarch becomes a king, ferocity and force having yielded the supremacy to reason.
7. Thus is formed naturally among men the first notion of goodness and justice, and their opposites; this is the beginning and birth of true kingship. For the people maintain the supreme power not only in the hands of these men themselves, but in those of their descendants, from the conviction that those born from and reared by such men will also have principles like to theirs. And if they ever are displeased with the descendants, they now choose their kings and rulers no longer for their bodily strength and brute courage, but for the excellency of their judgment and reasoning powers, as they have gained experience from actual facts of the difference between the one class of qualities and the other. In old times, then, those who had once been chosen to the royal office continued to hold it until they grew old, fortifying and enclosing fine strongholds with walls and acquiring lands, in the one case for the sake of the security of their subjects and in the other to provide them with abundance of the necessities of life. And while pursuing these aims, they were exempt from all vituperation or jealousy, as neither in their dress nor in their food and drink did they make any great distinction, but lived very much like everyone else, not keeping apart from the people. But when they received the office by hereditary succession and found their safety now provided for, and more than sufficient provision of food, they gave way to their appetites owing to this superabundance, and came to think that the rulers must be distinguished from their subjects by a peculiar dress, that there should be a peculiar luxury and variety in the dressing and serving of their viands, and that they should meet with no denial in the pursuit of their amours, however lawless. These habits having given rise in the one case to envy and offence and in the other to an outburst of hatred and passionate resentment, the kingship changed into a tyranny; the first steps towards its overthrow were taken by the subjects, and conspiracies began to be formed. These conspiracies were not the work of the worst men, but of the noblest, most high-spirited, and most courageous, because such men are least able to brook the insolence of princes.
8. The people now having got leaders, would combine with them against the ruling powers for the reasons I stated above; king-ship and monarchy would be utterly abolished, and in their place aristocracy would begin to grow. For the commons, as if bound to pay at once their debt of gratitude to the abolishers of monarchy, would make them their leaders and entrust their destinies to them. At first these chiefs gladly assumed this charge and regarded nothing as of greater importance than the common interest, administering the private and public affairs of the people with paternal solicitude. But here again when children inherited this position of authority from their fathers, having no experience of misfortune and none at all
9. For whenever anyone who has noticed the jealousy and hatred with which they are regarded by the citizens, has the courage to speak or act against the chiefs of the state he has the whole mass of the people ready to back him. Next, when they have either killed or banished the oligarchs, they no longer venture to set a king over them, as they still remember with terror the injustice they suffered from the former ones, nor can they entrust the government with confidence to a select few, with the evidence before them of their recent error in doing so. Thus the only hope still surviving unimpaired is in themselves, and to this they resort, making the state a democracy instead of an oligarchy and assuming the responsibility for the conduct of affairs. Then as long as some of those survive who experienced the evils of oligarchical dominion, they are well pleased with the present form of government, and set a high value on equality and freedom of speech. But when a new generation arises and the democracy falls into the hands of the grandchildren of its founders, they have become so accustomed to freedom and equality that they no longer value them, and begin to aim at pre-eminence; and it is chiefly those of ample fortune who fall into this error. So when they begin to lust for power and cannot attain it through themselves or their own good qualities, they ruin their estates, tempting and corrupting the people in every possible way. And hence when by their foolish thirst for reputation they have created among the masses an appetite for gifts and the habit of receiving them, democracy in its turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence. For the people, having grown accustomed feed at the expense of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of others, as soon as they find a leader who is enterprising but is excluded from the honors of office by his poverty, institute the rule of violence; and now uniting their forces massacre, banish, and plunder, until they degenerate again into perfect savages and find once more a master and monarch.
Such is the cycle of political revolution, the course pointed by nature in which constitutions change, disappear, and finally return to the point from which they started. Anyone who clearly perceives this may indeed in speaking of the future of any state be wrong in his estimate of the time the process will take, but if his judgment is not tainted by animosity or jealousy, he will very seldom be mistaken to the stage of growth or decline it has reached, and as to the form into which it will change. And especially in the case of the Roman state will this method enable us to arrive at a knowledge of its formation, growth, and greatest perfection, and likewise of the change for the worse which is sure follow some day. For, as I said, this state, more than any other, has been formed and has grown naturally, and will undergo a natural decline and change to its contrary. The reader will be able to judge of the truth of this from the subsequent parts this work.”
The modern reader may think that all this is irrelevant to him, that the natural sciences will solve all his problems. He would be wise to recall that the great Roman republic in which Polybius lived more than 00 years ago, did indeed become transformed into tyranny and, in the end, into anarchy and oblivion. No wonder that the makers of the American constitution keenly studied Polybius. Not only has Taine’s comments and factual description of the cyclic French political history much to teach us about ourselves and the dangers which lie ahead, but it also shows us the origins and weakness of our political theories. It is obvious that should ask ourselves the question of where, in the political evolution we are now? Are we still ruled by the corrupt oligarchs or have we reached the stage where the people has become used to be fed on the property of others? If so dissolution and anarchy is just around the corner.
“The Revolution, Vol. II, 8th ed.
Svend Rom. Hendaye, France. February 2000. ------------------------------------------------------------
------- -------- Preface:
In this volume, as in those preceding it and in those to come, there will be found only the history of Public Authorities. Others will write that of diplomacy, of war, of the finances, of the Church; my subject is a limited one. To my great regret, however, this new part fills an entire volume; and the last part, on the revolutionary government, will be as long.
I have again to regret the dissatisfaction I foresee this work will cause to many of my countrymen. My excuse is, that almost all of them, more fortunate than myself, have political principles which serve them in forming their judgments of the past. I had none; if indeed, I had any motive in undertaking this work, it was to seek for political principles. Thus far I have attained to scarcely more than one; and this is so simple that will seem puerile, and that I hardly dare express it. Nevertheless I have adhered to it, and in what the reader is about to peruse my judgments are all derived from that; its truth is the measure of theirs. It consists wholly in this observation: that
HUMAN SOCIETY, ESPECIALLY A MODERN SOCIETY, IS A VAST AND COMPLICATED THING.
Hence the difficulty in knowing and comprehending it. For the same reason it is not easy to handle the subject well. It follows that a cultivated mind is much better able to do this than an uncultivated mind, and a man specially qualified than one who is not. From these two last truths flow many other consequences, which, if the reader deigns to reflect on them, he will have no trouble in defining.
 Page XLVI of the Introduction to the Edition by Robert Lafont in 1986 by “Les Origines de la France Contemporaine”.
 From “Histories”, Book VI. 3. 3-4. 1 From Loeb’s classical library, Harvard university press.
On political ignorance and wisdom.
In 1849, being twenty-one years of age, and an elector, I was very much puzzled, for I had to nominate fifteen or twenty deputies, and, moreover, according to French custom, I had not only to determine what candidate I would vote for, but what theory I should adopt. I had to choose between a royalist or a republican, a democrat or a conservative, a socialist or a bonapartist; as I was neither one nor the other, nor even anything, I often envied those around me who were so fortunate as to have arrived at definite conclusions. After listening to various doctrines, I acknowledged that there undoubtedly was something wrong with my head. The motives that influenced others did not influence me; I could not comprehend how, in political matters, a man could be governed by preferences. My assertive countrymen planned a constitution just like a house, according to the latest, simplest, and most attractive plan; and there were several under consideration — the mansion of a marquis, the house of a common citizen, the tenement of a laborer, the barracks of a soldier, the kibbutz of a socialist, and even the camp of savages. Each claimed that his was “the true habitation for Man, the only one in which a sensible person could live.” In my opinion, the argument was weak; personal taste could not be valid for everyone. It seemed to me that a house should not be built for the architect alone, or for itself, but for the owner who was to live in it. Referring to the owner for his advice, that is submitting to the French people the plans of its future habitation, would evidently be either for show or just to deceive them; since the question, obviously, was put in such a manner that it provided the answer in advance. Besides, had the people been allowed to reply in all liberty, their response was in any case not of much value since France was scarcely more competent than I was; the
In any event, I came to the conclusion that if we should ever discover the one we need it would not be through some fashionable theory. The point is, if it exists, to discover it, and not to put it to a vote. To do that would not only be pretentious it would be useless; history and nature will do it for us; it is for us to adapt ourselves to them, as it is certain they will accommodate themselves to us. The social and political mold, into which a nation may enter and remain, is not subject to its will, but determined by its character and its past. It is essential that, even in its least traits, it should be shaped on the living material to which it is applied; otherwise it will burst and fall to pieces. Hence, if we should succeed in finding ours, it will only be through a study of ourselves, while the more we understand exactly what we are, the more certainly shall we distinguish what best suits us. We ought, therefore, to reverse the ordinary methods, and form some conception of the nation before formulating its constitution. Doubtless the first operation is much more tedious and difficult than the second. How much time, how much study, how many observations rectified one by the other, how many researches in the past and the present, over all the domains of thought and of action, what manifold and age-long labors before we can obtain an accurate and complete idea of a great people. A people which has lived a people’s age, and which still lives! But it is the only way to avoid the unsound construction based on a meaningless planning. I promised myself that, for my own part, if I should some day undertake to form a political opinion, it would be only after having studied France.
What is contemporary France? To answer this question we must know how this France is formed, or, what is still better, to act as spectator at its formation. At the end of the last century (in 1789), like a molting insect, it underwent a metamorphosis. Its ancient organization is dissolved; it tears away its most precious tissues and falls into convulsions, which seem mortal. Then, after multiplied throes and a painful lethargy, it re-establishes itself. But its organization is no longer the same: by silent interior travail a new being is substituted for the old. In 1808, its leading characteristics are decreed and defined: departments, arondissements, cantons and communes, no change have since taken place in its exterior divisions and functions. Concordat, Code, Tribunals, University, Institute, Prefects, Council of State, Taxes, Collectors, Cours des Comptes, a uniform and centralized administration, its principal organs, are still the same. Nobility, commoners, artisans, peasants, each class has henceforth the position, the sentiments, the traditions which we see at the present day (1875). Thus the new creature is at once stable and complete; consequently its structure, its instincts and its faculties mark in advance the circle within which its thought and its action will be stimulated. Around it, other nations, some more advanced, others less developed, all with greater caution, some with better results, attempt similarly a transformation from a feudal to a modern state; the process takes place everywhere and all but simultaneously. But, under this new system as beneath the ancient, the weak is always the prey of the strong. Woe to those (nations) whose retarded evolution exposes them to the neighbor suddenly emancipated from his chrysalis state, and is the first to go forth fully armed! Woe likewise to him whose too violent and too abrupt evolution has badly balanced his internal economy. Who, through the exaggeration of his governing forces, through the deterioration of his deep-seated organs, through the gradual impoverishment of his vital tissues is condemned to commit inconsiderate acts, to debility, to impotency, amidst sounder and better-balanced neighbors! In the organization, which France effected for herself at the beginning of the (19th) century, all the general lines of her contemporary history were traced. Her political revolutions, social Utopias, division of classes, role of the church, conduct of the nobility, of the middle class, and of the people, the development, the direction, or deviation of philosophy, of letters and of the arts. That is why, should we wish to understand our present condition our attention always reverts to the terrible and fruitful crisis by which the ancient regime produced the Revolution, and the Revolution the new regime.
Ancient régime, Revolution, new régime, I am going to try to describe these three conditions with exactitude. I have no other object in view. A historian may be allowed the privilege of a naturalist; I have regarded my subject the same as the metamorphosis of an insect. Moreover, the event is so interesting in itself that it is worth the trouble of being observed for its own sake, and no effort is required to suppress one’s ulterior motives. Freed from all prejudice, curiosity becomes scientific and may be completely concentrated on the secret forces, which guide the wonderful process. These forces are the situation, the passions, the ideas, the wills of each group of actors, and which can be defined and almost measured. They are in full view; we are not reduced to conjectures about them, to uncertain divination, to vague indications. By singular good fortune we perceive the men themselves, their exterior and their interior. The Frenchmen of the ancient régime are still within visual range. All of us, in our youth, (around 1840-50), have encountered one or more of the survivors of this vanished society. Many of their dwellings, with the furniture, still remain intact. Their pictures and engravings enable us to take part in their domestic life, see how they dress, observe their attitudes and follow their movements. Through their literature, philosophy, scientific pursuits, gazettes, and correspondence, we can reproduce their feeling and thought, and even enjoy their familiar conversation. The multitude of memoirs, issuing during the past thirty years from public and private archives, lead us from one drawing room to another, as if we bore with us so many letters of introduction. The independent descriptions by foreign travelers, in their journals and correspondence, correct and complete the portraits, which this society has traced of itself. Everything that it could state has been stated, except,
* what was commonplace and well-known to contemporaries,
* whatever seemed technical, tedious and vulgar,
* whatever related to the provinces, to the bourgeoisie, the peasant, to the laboring man, to the government, and to the household.
It has been my aim to fill this void, and make France known to others outside the small circle of the literary and the cultivated. Owing to the kindness of M. Maury and the precious indications of M. Boutaric, I have been able to examine a mass of manuscript documents. These include the correspondence of a large number of intendants, (the Royal governor of a large district), the directors of customs and tax offices, legal officers, and private persons of every kind and of every degree during the thirty last years of the ancient regime. Also included are the reports and registers of the various departments of the royal household, the reports and registers of the States General in 176 volumes, the dispatches of military officers in 1789 and 1790,
H. A. Taine, August 1875.
. Taine’s friend who was the director of the French National Archives. (Sr.)
. One sou equals 1/20th of a franc or 5 centimes. 12 diniers equaled one sou. (Sr.)
In 1789 three classes of persons, the Clergy, the Nobles and the King, occupied the most prominent position in the State with all the advantages pertaining thereto namely, authority, property, honors, or, at the very least, privileges, immunities, favors, pensions, preferences, and the like. If they occupied this position for so long a time, it is because for so long a time they had deserved it. They had, in short, through an immense and secular effort, constructed by degrees the three principal foundations of modern society.
I. Services and Recompenses of the Clergy.
Of these three layered foundations the most ancient and deepest was the work of the clergy. For twelve hundred years and more they had labored upon it, both as architects and workmen, at first alone and then almost alone. — In the beginning, during the first four centuries, they constituted religion and the church. Let us ponder over these two words; in order to weigh them well. One the one hand, in a society founded on conquest, hard and cold like a machine of brass, forced by its very structure to destroy among its subjects all courage to act and all desire to live, they had proclaimed the “glad tidings,” held forth the “kingdom of God,” preached loving resignation in the hands of a Heavenly Father, inspired patience, gentleness, humility, self-abnegation, and charity, and opened the only issues by which Man stifling in the Roman ‘ergastulum’ could again breathe and see daylight: and here we have religion. On the other hand, in a State gradually undergoing depopulation, crumbling away, and fatally becoming a prey, they had formed a living society governed by laws and discipline, rallying around a common aim and a common doctrine, sustained by the devotion of chiefs and by the obedience of believes, alone capable of subsisting beneath the flood of barbarians which the empire in ruin suffered to pour in through its breaches: and here we have the church. — It continues to build on these two first foundations, and after the invasion, for over five hundred years, it saves what it can still save of human culture. It marches in the van of the barbarians or converts them directly after their entrance, which is a wonderful advantage. Let us judge of it by a single fact: In Great Britain, which like Gaul had become Latin, but whereof the conquerors remain pagan during a century and a half, arts, industries, society, language, all were destroyed; nothing remained of an entire people, either massacred or fugitive, but slaves. We have still to divine their traces; reduced to the condition of beasts of burden, they disappear from history. Such might have been the fate of Europe if the clergy had not promptly tamed the fierce brutes to which it belonged.
Before the bishop in his gilded cope or before the monk, the converted German “emaciated, clad in skins,” wan, “dirtier and more spotted than a chameleon," stood fear-stricken as before a sorcerer. In his calm moments, after the chase or inebriety, the vague divination of a mysterious and grandiose future, the dim conception of an unknown tribunal, the rudiment of conscience which he already had in his forests beyond the Rhine, arouses in him through sudden alarms half-formed, menacing visions. At the moment of violating a sanctuary he asks himself whether he may not fall on its threshold with vertigo and a broken neck. Convicted through his own perplexity, he stops and spares the farm, the village, and the
To food for the body add food for the soul, not less essential. For, along with nourishment, it was still necessary to furnish Man with inducements to live, or, at the very least, with the resignation that makes life endurable, and also with the poetic daydreams taking the place of massing happiness. Down to the middle of the thirteenth century the clergy stands almost alone in furnishing this. Through its innumerable legends of saints, through its cathedrals and their construction, through its statues and their expression, through its services and their still transparent meaning, it rendered visible “the kingdom of God.” It finally sets up an ideal world at the end of the present one, like a magnificent golden pavilion at the end of a miry morass. The saddened heart, athirst for tenderness and serenity, takes refuge in this divine and gentle world. Persecutors there, about to strike, are arrested by an invisible hand; wild beasts become docile; the stags of the forest come of their own accord every morning to draw the chariots of the saints; the country blooms for them like a new Paradise; they die only when it pleases them. Meanwhile they comfort mankind; goodness, piety, forgiveness flows from their lips with ineffable sweetness; with eyes upturned to heaven, they see God, and without effort, as in a dream, they ascend into the light and seat themselves at His right hand. How divine the legend, how inestimable in value, when, under the universal reign of brute force, to endure this life it was necessary to imagine another, and to render the second as visible to the spiritual eye as the first was to the physical eye. The clergy thus nourished men for more than twelve centuries, and in the grandeur of its recompense we can estimate the depth of their gratitude. Its popes, for two hundred years, were the dictators of Europe. It organized crusades, dethroned monarchs, and distributed kingdoms. Its bishops and abbots became here, sovereign princes, and there, veritable founders of dynasties. It held in its grasp a third of the territory, one-half of the revenue, and two-thirds of the capital of Europe. Let us not believe that Man counterfeits gratitude, or that he gives without a valid motive; he is too selfish and too envious for that. Whatever may be the institution, ecclesiastic or secular, whatever may be the clergy, Buddhist or Christian, the contemporaries who observe it for forty generations are not bad judges. They surrender to it their will and their possessions, just in proportion to its services, and the excess of their devotion may measure the immensity of its benefaction.
II. Services and Recompenses of the Nobles.
Up to this point no aid is found against the power of the sword and the battle-ax except in persuasion and in patience. Those States which, imitating the old empire, attempted to rise up into compact organizations, and to interpose a barrier against constant invasion, obtained no hold on the shifting soil; after Charlemagne everything melts away. There are no more soldiers after the battle of Fontanet; during half a century bands of four or five hundred outlaws sweep over the country, killing, burning, and devastating with impunity. But, by way of compensation, the dissolution of the State raises up at this very time a military generation. Each petty chieftain has planted his feet firmly on the domain he occupies, or which he withholds; he no longer keeps it in trust, or for use, but as property, and an inheritance. It is his own manor, his own village, his own earldom; it no longer belongs to the king; he contends for it in his own right. The benefactor, the conservator at this time is the man capable of fighting, of defending others, and such really is the character of the newly established class. The noble, in the language of the day, is the man of war, the soldier (miles), and it is he who lays the second foundation of modern society.
In the tenth century his extraction is of little consequence. He is oftentimes a Carlovingian count, a beneficiary of the king, the sturdy proprietor of one of the last of the Frank estates. In one place he is a martial bishop or a valiant abbot in another a converted pagan, a retired bandit, a prosperous adventurer, a rude huntsman, who long supported himself by the chase and on wild fruits. The ancestors of Robert the Strong are unknown, and later the story runs that the Capets are descended from a Parisian butcher. In any event the noble of that epoch is the brave, the powerful man, expert in the use of arms, who, at the head of a troop, instead of flying or paying ransom, offers his breast, stands firm, and protects a patch of the soil with his sword. To perform this service he has no need of ancestors; all that he requires is courage, for he is himself an ancestor; security for the present, which he insures, is too acceptable to permit any quibbling about his title.-Finally, after so many centuries, we find each district possessing its armed men, a settled body of troops capable of resisting nomadic invasion; the community is no longer a prey to strangers. At the end of a century this Europe, which had been sacked by the Vikings, is to throw 200,000 armed men into Asia. Henceforth, both north and south, in the face of Moslems and of pagans, instead of being conquered it is to conquer. For the second time an ideal figure becomes apparent after that of the saint, the hero; and the newborn sentiment, as effective as the old one, thus groups men together into a stable society. -This consists of a resident corps of men-at-arms, in which, from
People accordingly lived, or rather began to live once more, under the rude, iron-gloved hand which used them roughly, but which afforded them protection. The seignior, sovereign and proprietor, maintains for himself under this double title, the moors, the river, the forest, all the game. It is no great evil, since the country is nearly a desert, and he devotes his leisure to exterminating large wild beasts. He alone possessed the resources. He is the only one that is able to construct the mill, the oven, and the winepress; to establish the ferry, the bridge, or the highway, to dike in a marsh, and to raise or purchase a bull. To indemnify himself he taxes for these, for forces their use. If he is intelligent and a good manager of men, if he seeks to derive the greatest profit from his ground, he gradually relaxes, or allows to become relaxed, the meshes of the net in which his peasants and serfs work unprofitably because they are too tightly drawn. Habits, necessity, a voluntary or forced conformity, have their effect. Lords, peasants, serfs, and bourgeois, in the end adapted to their condition, bound together by a common interest, form together a society, a veritable corporation. The seigniory, the county, the duchy becomes a patrimony which is loved through a blind instinct, and to which all are devoted. It is confounded with the seignior and his family; in this relation people are proud of him. They narrate his feats of arms; they cheer him as his cavalcade passes along the street; they rejoice in his magnificence through sympathy. If he becomes a widower and has no children, they send deputations to him to entreat him to remarry, in order that at his death the country may not fall into a war of succession or be given up to the encroachment of neighbors. Thus there is a revival, after a thousand years, of the most
III. Services and Recompenses of the King.
Kings built the whole of this foundation, one stone after another. Hugues Capet laid the first one. Before him royalty conferred on the King no right to a province, not even Laon; it is he who added his domain to the title. During eight hundred years, through conquest, craft, inheritance, the work of acquisition goes on; even under Louis XV France is augmented by the acquisition of Lorraine and Corsica. Starting from nothing, the King is the maker of a compact State, containing the population of twenty-six millions, and then the most powerful in -Europe. — Throughout this interval he is at the head of the national defense. He is the liberator of the country against foreigners, against the Pope in the fourteenth century, against the English in the fifteenth, against the Spaniards in the sixteenth. In the interior, from the twelfth century onward, with the helmet on his brow, and always on the road, he is the great justiciary, demolishing the towers of the feudal brigands, repressing the excesses of the powerful, and protecting the oppressed. He puts an end to private warfare; he establishes order and tranquility. This was an immense accomplishment, which, from Louis le Gros to St. Louis, from Philippe le Bel to Charles VII, continues uninterruptedly up to the middle of the eighteenth century in the edict against duels and in the “Grand Jours." Meanwhile all useful projects carried out under his orders, or developed under his patronage, roads, harbors, canals, asylums, universities, academies, institutions of piety, of refuge, of education, of science, of industry, and of commerce, bears his imprint and proclaim the public benefactor.-Services of this character challenge a proportionate recompense; it is allowed that from father to son he is wedded to France; that she acts only through him; that he acts only for her; while every souvenir of the past and every present interest combine to sanction this union. The Church consecrates it at Rheims by a sort of eighth sacrament, accompanied with legends and miracles; he is the anointed of God. The nobles, through an old instinct of military fealty, consider themselves his bodyguard, and down to August 10, 1789, rush forward to die for him on his staircase; he is their general by birth. The people, down to 1789, regard him as the redresser of abuses, the guardian of the right, the protector of the weak, the great almoner and the universal refuge. At the beginning of the reign of Louis XVI “shouts of Vive le roi, which began
. “Les Moines d’Occident,” by Montalembert, I. 277. St. Lupicin before the Burgundian King Chilperic, II. 416. Saint Karileff before King Childebert. Cf. passim, Gregory of Tours and the Bollandist collection.
. No legend is more frequently encountered; we find it as late as the twelfth century.
. Chilperic, for example, acting under the advice of Fredegonde after the death of all their children.
. Montalembert, ibid., II. book 8; and especially “Les Forêts de la France dans l’antiquité et au Moyen Age,” by Alfred Maury. Spinoe et vepres is a phrase constantly recurring in the lives of the saints.
. We find the same thing to day with the colonies of Trappists in Algiers.
. “Polyptique d’Irminon,” by Guérard. In this work we see the prosperity of the domain belonging to the Abbey of St. Germain des Près at the end of the eighth century. According to M. Guérard’s statistics, the peasantry of Paliseau were about as prosperous in the time of Charlemagne as at the present day.
. Taine’s definition would also fit contemporary (1999) drugs and video entertainment which also provide mankind with both hope, pleasure and entertainment. (Sr.)
. There are twenty-five thousand lives of the saints, between the sixth and the tenth centuries, collected by the Bollandists. — The last that are truly inspired are those of St. Francis of Assisi and his companions at the beginning of the fourteenth century. The same vivid sentiment extends down to the end of the fifteenth century in the works of Fra Angelico and Hans Memling. — The Sainte Chapelle in Paris, the upper church at Assisi, Dante’s Paradise, and the Fioretti, furnish an idea of these visions. As regards modern literature, the state of a believer’s soul in the middle ages is perfectly described in the “Pélerinage à Kevlaar,” by Henri Heine, and in “Les Reliques vivantes,” by Tourgueneff.
. As, for example, Tertulle, founder of the Platagenet family, Rollo, Duke of Normandy, Hugues, Abbot of St. Martin of Tours and of St. Denis.
. See the “Cantilenes” of the tenth century in which the “Chansons de Geste” are foreshadowed.
. Laws governing the feudal system (1372) where the feudal lord is unable to transmit his property by testament but has to leave them to the next holder of the title. The “mainmortables” were serfs who belonged to the property. (Sr.)
. See in the “Voyages du Caillaud,” in Nubia and Abyssinia, the raids for slaves made by the Pacha’s armies; Europe presented about the same spectacle between the years 800 and 900.
. See the zeal of subjects for their lords in the historians of the middle ages; Gaston Phoebus, Comte de Foix, and Guy, Comte de Flandres in Froissart; Raymond de Béziers and Raymond de Toulouse, in the chronicle of Toulouse. This profound sentiment of small local patrimonics is apparent at each provincial assembly in Normandy, Brittany, Franche-Comté, etc.
. Suger, Life of Louis VI.
. “Les Grand Jours d’Auvergne,” by Fléchier, ed. Chéruel. The last feudal brigand, the Baron of Plumartin, in Poitou, was taken, tried, and beheaded under Louis XV in 1756.
. As late as Louis XV a procès verbal is made of a number of cures of the King’s evil.
. “Mémoires of Madame Campan,” I. 89; II. 215.
. In 1785 an Englishman visiting France boasts of the political liberty enjoyed in his country. As an offset to this the French reproach the English for having decapitated Charles I., and “glory in having always maintained an inviolable attachment to their own king; a fidelity, a respect which no excess or severity on his part has ever shaken.” ("A Comparative View of the French and of the English Nation,” by John Andrews, p.257.)
. Memoirs of D’Augeard, private secretary of the Queen, and a former farmer-general.
. The following is the reply of Louis XV. to the Parliament of Paris, March 3, 1766, in a lit de justice : “The sovereign authority is vested in my person. . . The legislative power, without dependence and without division, exists in myself alone. Public security emanates wholly from myself; I am its supreme custodian. My people are one only with me; national rights and interests, of which an attempt is made to form a body separate from those of the monarch, are necessarily combined with my own, and rests only in my hands.”
I. Number of the Privileged Classes.
The privileged classes number about 270,000 persons, comprising of the nobility, 140,000 and of the clergy 130,000. This makes from 25,000 to 30,000 noble families; 23,000 monks in 2,500 monasteries, and 37,000 nuns in 1,500 convents, and 60,000 curates and vicars in as many churches and chapels. Should the reader desire a more distinct impression of them, he may imagine on each square league of territory, and to each thousand of inhabitants, one noble family in its weathercock mansion. In each village there is a curate and his church, and, every six or seven leagues, a community of men or of women. We have here the ancient chieftains and founders of France; thus entitled, they still enjoy many possessions and many rights.
II. Their Possessions, Capital, and Revenue.
Let us always keep in mind what they were, in order to comprehend what they are. Great as their advantages may be, these are merely the remains of still greater advantages. This or that bishop or abbot, this or that count or duke, whose successors make their bows at Versailles, was formerly the equals of the Carlovingians and the first Capets. A Sire de Montlhéry held King Philippe I in check. The abbey of St. Germain des Prés possessed 430,000 hectares of land (about 900,000 acres), almost the extent of an entire department. We need not be surprised that they remained powerful, and, especially, rich; no stability is greater than that of an. associative body. After eight hundred years, in spite of so many strokes of the royal ax, and the immense change in the culture of society, the old feudal root lasts and still vegetates. We remark it first in the distribution of property. A fifth of the soil belongs to the crown and the communes, a fifth to the Third-Estate, a fifth to the rural population, a fifth to the nobles and a fifth to the clergy. Accordingly, if we deduct the public lands, the privileged classes own one-half of the kingdom. This large portion, moreover, is at the same time the richest, for it comprises almost all the large and imposing buildings, the palaces, castles, convents, and cathedrals, and almost all the valuable movable property, such as
III. Their Immunities.
Such is the total or partial exemption from taxation. The tax-collectors halt in their presence because the king well knows that feudal property has the same origin as his own; if royalty is one privilege seigniory is another; the king himself is simply the most privileged among the privileged. The most absolute, the most infatuated with his rights, Louis XIV, entertained scruples when extreme necessity compelled him to enforce on everybody the tax of the tenth. Treaties, precedents, immemorial custom, reminiscences of ancient rights again restrain the fiscal hand. The clearer the resemblance of the proprietor to the ancient independent sovereign the greater his immunity. — In some places a recent treaty guarantees him by his position as a stranger, by his almost royal extraction. “In Alsace foreign princes in possession, with the Teutonic order and the order of Malta, enjoy exemption from all real and personal contributions.” “In Lorraine the chapter of Remiremont has the privilege of assessing itself in all state impositions." Elsewhere he is protected by the maintenance of the provincial Assemblies, and through the incorporation of the nobility with the soil: in Languedoc and in Brittany the commoners alone paid the taille -Everywhere else his quality preserved him from it, him, his chateau and the chateau’s dependencies; the taille reaches him only through his farmers. And better still, it is sufficient that he himself should work, or his steward, to communicate to the land his original independence. As soon as he touches the soil, either personally or through his agent, he exempts four plowing-areas (quatre charrues), three hundred arpents, which in other hands would pay 2,000 francs tax. Besides this he is excempt on “the woods, the meadows, the vines, the ponds and the enclosed land belonging to the chateau, of whatever extent it may be.” Consequently, in Limousin and elsewhere, in regions principally devoted to pasturage or to vineyards, he takes care to manage himself, or to have managed, a certain portion of his domain; in this way he exempts it from the tax collector. There is yet more. In Alsace, through an express covenant he does not pay a cent of tax. Thus, after the assaults of four hundred and fifty years, taxation, the first of fiscal instrumentalities, the most burdensome of all, leaves feudal property almost intact. — For the last century, two new tools, the capitation-tax and the vingtièmes, appear more effective, and yet are but little more so. — First of all, through a masterstroke of ecclesiastical diplomacy, the clergy diverts or weakens the blow. As it is an organization, holding assemblies, it is able to negotiate with the king and buy itself off. To avoid being taxed by others it taxes itself. It makes it appear that its payments are not compulsory contributions, but a “free gift.” It obtains then in exchange a mass of concessions, is able to diminish
IV. Their Feudal Rights.
These advantages are the remains of primitive sovereignty.
Let us follow him home to his own domain. A bishop, an abbé, a chapter of the clergy, an abbess, each has one like a lay seignior; for, in former times, the monastery and the church were small governments like the county and the duchy. -Intact on the other bank of the Rhine, almost ruined in France, the feudal structure everywhere discloses the same plan. In certain places, better protected or less attacked, it has preserved all its ancient externals. At Cahors, the bishop-count of the town had the right, on solemnly officiating, “to place his helmet, cuirass, gauntlets and sword on the altar." At Besançon, the archbishop-prince has six high officers, who owe him homage for their fiefs, and who attend at his coronation and at his obsequies. At Mende, the bishop, seignior-suzerain for Gévaudan since the eleventh century, appoints “the courts, ordinary judges and judges of appeal, the commissaries and syndics of the country.” He disposes of all the places, “municipal and judiciary.” Entreated to appear in the assembly of the three orders of the province, he “replies that his place, his possessions and his rank exalting him above every individual in his diocese. He cannot sit under the presidency of any person; that, being seignior-suzerain of all estates and particularly of the baronies, he cannot give way to his vassals.” In brief that he is king, or but little short of it, in his own province. At Remiremont, the noble chapter of canonesses has, “inferior, superior, and ordinary judicature in fifty-two bans of seigniories,” nominates seventy-five curacies and confers ten male canonships. It appoints the municipal officers of the town, and, besides these, three lower and higher courts, and everywhere the officials in the jurisdiction over woods and forests. Thirty-two bishops, without counting the chapters, are thus temporal seigniors, in whole or in part, of their episcopal town, sometimes of the surrounding district, and sometimes, like the bishop of St. Claude, of the entire country. Here the feudal tower has been preserved. Elsewhere it is plastered over anew, and more particularly in the appanages. In these domains, comprising
Let us turn to its inferior personages, to a seignior of medium rank, on his square league of ground, amidst the thousand inhabitants who were formerly his villeins or his serfs, within reach of the monastery, or chapter, or bishop whose rights intermingle with his rights. Whatever may have been done to abase him his position is still very high. He is yet, as the intendants say, “the first inhabitant;” a prince whom they have half despoiled of his public functions and consigned to his honorary and available rights, but who nevertheless remains a prince. — He has his bench in the church, and his right of sepulture in the choir; the tapestry bears his coat of arms; they bestow on him incense, “holy water by distinction.” Often, having founded the church, he is its patron, choosing the curate and claiming to control him; in the rural districts we see him advancing or retarding the hour of the parochial mass according to his fancy. If he bears a title he is supreme judge, and there are entire provinces, Maine and Anjou, for example, where there is no fief without the judge. In this case he appoints the bailiff; the registrar, and other legal and judicial officers, attorneys, notaries, seigniorial sergeants, constabulary on foot or mounted, who draw up documents or decide in his name in civil and criminal cases on the first trial. He appoints, moreover, a forest-warden, or decides forest offenses, and enforces the penalties, which this officer inflicts. He has his prison for delinquents of various kinds, and sometimes his forked gibbets. On the other hand, as compensation for his judicial costs, he obtains the property of the man condemned to death and the confiscation of his estate. He succeeds to the bastard born and dying in his seigniory without leaving a testament or legitimate children. He inherits from the possessor, legitimately born, dying in testate in his house without apparent heirs. He appropriates to himself movable objects, animate or inanimate, which are found astray and of which the owner is unknown;
Other dues are also ancient taxes, but he still performs the service for which they are a quittance. The king, in fact, suppresses many of the tolls, twelve hundred in 1724, and the suppression is kept up. A good many still remain to the profit of the seignior, — on bridges, on highways, on fords, on boats ascending or descending, several being very lucrative, one of them producing 90,000 livres. He pays for the expense of keeping up bridge, road, ford and towpath. In like manner, on condition of maintaining the market-place and of providing scales and weights gratis, he levies a tax on provisions and on merchandise brought to his fair or to his market. — At Angoulême a forty-eighth of the grain sold, at Combourg near Saint-Malo, so much per head of cattle, elsewhere so much on wine, eatables and fish Having formerly built the oven, the winepress, the mill and the slaughterhouse, he obliges the inhabitants to use these or pay for their support, and he demolishes all constructions, which might enter into competition with him. These, again, are evidently monopolies and octrois going back to the time when he was in possession of public authority.
Not only did he then possess the public authority but also possessed the soil and the men on it. Proprietor of men, he is so still, at least in many respects and in many provinces. “In Champagne proper, in the Sénonais, in la Marche, in the Bourbonnais, in the Nivernais, in Burgundy, in Franche-Comté, there are none, or very few domains, no signs remaining of ancient servitude . . . . A good many personal serfs, or so constituted through their own gratitude, or that of their progenitors, are still found." There, man is a serf, sometimes by virtue of his birth, and again through a territorial condition. Whether in servitude, or as mortmains, or as cotters, one way or another, 1,500,000 individuals, it is said, wore about their necks a remnant of the feudal collar; this is not surprising since, on the other side of the Rhine, almost all the peasantry still wear it. The seignior, formerly master and proprietor of all their goods and chattels and of all their labor, can still exact of them from ten to twelve corvées per annum and a fixed annual tax. In the barony of Choiseul near Chaumont in Champagne, “the inhabitants are required to plow his lands, to sow and reap them for his account and to put the products into his barns. Each plot of ground, each house, every head of cattle pays a quit-claim; children may inherit from their parents only on condition of remaining with them; if absent at the time of their decease he is the inheritor.” This is what was styled in the language of the day an estate “with excellent dues.” -Elsewhere the seignior inherits from collaterals, brothers or nephews, if they were not in community with the defunct at the moment of his death, which community is only valid through his consent. In the Jura and the Nivernais, he may pursue fugitive serfs, and demand, at their death, not only the property left by them on his domain, but, again, the pittance acquired by them elsewhere. At Saint-Claude he acquires this right over any person that passes a year and a day in a house belonging to the seigniory. As to ownership of the soil we see still more clearly that he once had entire possession of it. In the district subject to his jurisdiction the public domain remains his private domain; roads, streets and open squares form a part of it; he has the right to plant trees in them and to take trees up. In many provinces, through a pasturage rent, he obliges the inhabitants to pay for permits to pasture their cattle in the fields after the crop, and in the open common lands, (les terres vaines et vagues). Unnavigable streams belong to him, as well as islets and accumulations formed in them and the fish that are found in them. He has the right of the chase over the whole extent of his jurisdiction, this or that commoner being sometimes compelled to throw open to him his park enclosed by walls.
One more trait serves to complete the picture. This head of the State, a proprietor of man and of the soil, was once a resident cultivator on his own small farm amidst others of the same class, and, by this title, he reserved to himself certain working privileges which he always retained. Such is the right of banvin, still widely diffused, consisting of the privilege of selling his own wine, to the exclusion of all others, during thirty or forty days after gathering the crop. Such is, in Touraine, the right of préage, which is the right to send his horses, cows and oxen “to browse under guard in his subjects’ meadows.” Such is, finally, the monopoly of the great dove-cot, from which thousands of pigeons issue to feed at all times and seasons and on all grounds, without any one daring to kill or take them. Through another effect of the same qualification he imposes quit-claims on property on which he has formerly given perpetual leases, and, under the terms cens, censives (quit-rents), carpot (share in wine), champart (share in grain), agrier (a cash commission on general produce), terrage parciere (share of fruits). All these collections, in money or in kind, are as various as the local situations, accidents and transactions could possibly be. In the Bourbonnais he has one-quarter of the crop; in Berry twelve sheaves out of a hundred. Occasionally his debtor or tenant is a community: one deputy in the National Assembly owned a fief of two hundred casks of wine on three thousand pieces of private property. Besides, through the retrait censuel (a species of right of redemption), he can “retain for his own account all property sold on the condition of remunerating the purchaser, but previously deducting for his benefit the lord’s dues (lods and ventes).” The reader, finally, must take note that all these restrictions on property constitute, for the seignior, a privileged credit as well on the product as on the price of the ground, and, for the copyholders, an unprescriptive, indivisible and irredeemable debt.-Such are the feudal. To form an idea of them in their totality we must always imagine the count, bishop or abbot of the tenth century as sovereign and proprietor in his own canton. The form which human society then takes grows out of the exigencies of near and constant danger with a view to local defense. By subordinating all interests to the necessities of living, in such a way as to protect the soil by fixing on the soil, through property and its enjoyment, a troop of brave men under the leadership of a brave chieftain. The danger having passed away the structure became dilapidated. For a pecuniary compensation the seigniors allowed the economical and tenacious peasant to pick off it a good many stones. Through constraint they suffered the king to appropriate to himself the public portion. The primitive foundation remains, property as organized in ancient times, the fettered or exhausted land supporting a social conformation that has melted away, in short, an order of privileges and of thralldom of which the cause and the purpose have disappeared. 
V. They may be justified by local and general services.
All this does not suffice to render this order detrimental or even useless. In reality, the local chief who no longer performs his ancient service may perform a new one in exchange for it. Instituted for war when life was militant, he may serve in quiet times when the régime is pacific, while the advantage to the nation is great in which this transformation is accomplished; for, retaining its chiefs, it is relieved of the uncertain and perilous operation which consists in creating others. There is nothing more difficult to establish than a government, that is to say, a stable government: this involves the command of some and the obedience of all, which is against nature. That a man in his study, often a feeble old person, should dispose of the lives and property of twenty or thirty million men, most of whom he has never seen; that he should order them to pay away a tenth or a fifth of their income and they should do it; that he should order them to go and slaughter or be slaughtered and that they should go; that they should thus continue for ten years, twenty years, through every kind of trial, defeat, misery and invasion, as with the French under Louis XIV, the English under Pitt, the Prussians under Frederick II., without either sedition or internal disturbances, is certainly a marvelous thing. And, for a people to remain free it is essential that they should be ready to do this always. Neither this fidelity nor this concord is due to sober reflection (la raison raisonnante); reason is too vacillating and too feeble to bring about such a universal and energetic result. Abandoned to itself and suddenly restored to a natural condition, the human flock is capable only of agitation, of mutual strife until pure force at length predominates, as in barbarous times, and until, amidst the dust and outcry, some military leader rises up who is, generally, a butcher. Historically considered it is better to continue so than to begin over again. Hence, especially when the majority is uncultivated, it is beneficial to have chiefs designated beforehand through the hereditary custom by which people follow them, and through the special education by which they are qualified. In this case the public has no need to seek for them to obtain them. They are already at hand, in each canton, visible, accepted beforehand; they are known by their names, their title, their fortune, their way of living; deference to their authority is established. They are almost always deserving of this authority; born and brought up to exercise it they find in tradition, in family example and in family pride, powerful ties that nourish public spirit in them; there is some probability of their comprehending the duties with which their prerogative endows them.
Such is the renovation, which the feudal régime admits of. The ancient chieftain can still guarantee his pre-eminence by his services, and remain popular without ceasing to be privileged. Once a captain in his district and a permanent gendarme, he is to become the resident and beneficent proprietor, the voluntary promoter of useful undertakings, obligatory guardian of the poor, the gratuitous administrator and judge of the canton, the unsalaried deputy of the king, that is to say, a leader and protector as previously, through a new system of patronage accommodated to new circumstances. Local magistrate and central representative, these are his two principal functions, and, if we extend our observation beyond France we find that he exercises either one or the other, or both together.
. See note 1 at the end of the volume
. One league (lieu) ca. 4 km. (Sr.)
. Suger “Vie de Louis VI.,” chap. VIII. — Philippe I. became master of the Château de Montlhéry only by marrying one of his sons to the heiress of the fief. He thus addressed his successor: “My child, take good care to keep this tower of which the annoyances have made me grow old, and whose frauds and treasons have given me no peace nor rest’.
. Léonce de Lavergne, “Les Assemblées Povinciales,” p. 19. — Consult the official statement of the provincial assemblies, and especially the chapters treating of the vingtièmes (an old tax of one-twentieth on incomes.-Tr.)
. A report made by Treilhard in the name of the ecclesiastic committee, (Moniteur, 19th December, 1789): The religious establishments for sale in Paris alone were valued at 150 millions. Later (in the session of the 13th February, 1791), Amelot estimates the property sold and to be sold, not including forests, at 3,700 millions. M. de Bouillé estimates the revenue of the clergy at 180 millions. (Mémoires, p.44). [French currency is so well known to readers in general it is not deemed necessary to reduce statements of this kind to the English or American standard, except in special cases.-Tr.)
 A report by Chasset on Tithes, April, 1790. Out of 123 millions 23 go for the costs of collection: but, in estimating the revenue of an individual the sums he pays to his intendants, overseers and cashiers are not deducted. — Talleyrand (October l0, 1789) estimates the revenue of real property at 70 millions and its value at 2,100 millions. On examination however both capital and revenue are found considerably larger than at first supposed. (Reports of Treilbard and Chasset). Moreover, in his valuation, Talleyrand left out habitations and their enclosures as well as a reservation of one-fourth of the forests. Besides this there must be included in the revenue before 1789 the seigniorial rights enjoyed by the Church. Finally, according to Arthur Young, the rents which the French proprietor
. National archives, among the papers of the ecclesiastical committee, box (portfolios) 10, 11, 13, 25. — Beugnot’s Memoirs, I. 49, 79. — Delbos, “L’Eglise de France,” I. 399. — Duc de Lévis, “Souvenirs et Portraits,” p.156.
. Léonce de Lavergne, “Économie Rurale en France,” p.24. — Perin, “La Jeunesse de Robespierre,” (Statements of grievances in Artois), p.317. ( In French “cahiers des doleances” — statements of local complaints and expectations — prepared all over France for use by their delegates for the Ètats Generaux. Sr.)
. Boiteau, “État de la France en 1789,” p.47. Voltaire, “Politique et Legislation,” the petition of the serfs of St. Claude.
. Necker, “De l’Administration des Finances,” II. 272.
. De Bouillé, “Mémoires,” p.41. It must not be forgotten that these figures must be doubled to show corresponding sums of the present day. 10,000 livres (francs) rental in 1766 equal in value 20,000 in 1825. (Madame de Genlis, “Memoirs,” chap. IX). Arthur Young, visiting a château in Seine-et-Marne, writes: “I have been speaking to Madame de Guerchy; and I have learned from this conversation that to live in a château like this with six men servants, five maids, eight horses, a garden and a regular table, with company, but never go to Paris, might be done for 1,000 louis per annum. It would in England cost 2,000. At the present day in France 24,000 francs would be 50,000 and more.” Arthur Young adds: “There are gentlemen (noblesse) that live in this country on 6,000 or 8000 and keep two men, two maids, three horses and a cabriolet.” To do this nowadays would require from 20,000 to 25,000. — It has become much more expensive, especially due to the rail-ways, to live in the provinces. “According to my friends du Rouergue,” he says again, “I could live at Milhau with my family in the greatest abundance on 100 louis (2,000 francs); there are noble families supporting themselves on revenues of fifty and even twenty-five louis.” At Milhau, to day, prices are triple and even quadruple. — In Paris, a house in the Rue St. Honore which was rented for 6,000 francs in 1787 is now rented for 16,000 francs.
. “Rapports de l’Agence du clergé de 1780 à 1785.” In relation to the feudal rights the abolition of which is demanded in Boncerf’s work, the chancellor Séguier said in 1775: “Our Kings have themselves declared that they are, fortunately, impotent to make any attack on property.”
. Léonce de Lavergne, “Les Assemblées provinciales,” p.296. Report of M. Schwendt on Alsace in 1787. — Warroquier, “Etat de la France en 1789,” I.541. — Necker, “De l’Administration des Finances,” I. 19, 102. — Turgot, (collection of economists), “Réponse aux observations du garde des sceaux sur la suppression des corvées,” I. 559.
. This term embraces various taxes originating in feudal times, and rendered particularly burdensome to the peasantry through the management of the privileged classes. -Tr.
. The arpent measures between one and one and a half acres. -Tr
. De Tocqueville, “L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution,” p. 406. “The inhabitants of Montbazon had subjected to taxation the stewards of the duchy which belonged to the Prince de Rohan. This prince caused this abuse to be stopped and succeeded in recovering the sum of 5,344 livres which he had been made to pay unlawfully under this right”
. Necker, “Administration des Finances:” ordinary taxation (la taille) produced 91 millions; les vingtièmes 76,500,000; the capitation tax 41,500,000.
. Raudot, “La France avant la Révolution,” p. 51. — De Bouillé, “Mémoires,” p. 44. — Necker, “De 1’Administration des Finances,” II, p. 181. The above relates to what was called the clergy of France, (116 dioceses). The clergy called foreign, consisted of that of the three bishoprics and of the regions conquered since Louis XIV; it had a separate régime and paid somewhat like the nobles. — The décimes which the clergy of France levied on its property amounted to a sum of 10,500,000 livres.
. De Toqueville, ib. 104, 381, 407. — Necker, ib. I. 102. — Boiteau, ib. 362. — De Bouillé, ib. 26, 41, and the following pages. Turgot, ib. passim. — Cf. passim. — Cf. Book V, ch. 2, on the taillage.
. See “La France ecclésiastique, 1788,” for these details.
. Official statements and manuscript reports of the States-General of 1789. “Archives nationales,” vol. LXXXVIII pp. 23, 85, 121, 122], 152. Procès-verbal of January 12, 1789.
. Necker, “De l’Administration des Finances,” V. II. pp. 271, 272. “The house Orleans, he says, is in possession of the excises.” He estimates this tax at 51,000,000 for the entire kingdom.
. Beugnot, “Mémoires,” V. I. p. 77. Observe the ceremonial system with the Duc de Penthièvre, chapters I., III. The Duc d’Orléans organizes a chapter and bands of canonesses. The post of chancellor to the Duc d’Orléans is worth 100,000 livres per annum, ("Gustave III. et la cour de France,” by Geffroy, I. 410.)
. De Tocqueville, ibid. p.40. — Renauldon, advocate in the bailiwick of Issoudun, “Traité historique et pratique des droits seigneuriaux, 1765,” pp. 8, 10, 81 and passim. — Statement of grievance of a magistrate of the Chatelet on seigniorial judgments, 1789. — Duvergier, “Collection des Lois,” Decrees of the 15-28 March, 1790, on the abolition of the feudal régime, Merlin of Douai, reporter, I. 114 Decrees of 19-23 July, 1790, I. 293. Decrees of the 13-20 April, 1791, (I. 295.)
. National archives, G, 300, (1787). “M. de Boullongne, seignior of Montereau, here possesses a toll-right consisting of 2 deniers (farthings) per ox, cow, calf or pig; 1 per sheep; 2 for a laden animal; 1 sou and 8 deniers for each four-wheeled vehicle; 5 deniers for a two- wheeled vehicle, and 10 deniers for a vehicle drawn by three, four, or five horses; besides a tax of 10 deniers for each barge, boat or skiff ascending the river; the same tax for each team of horses dragging the boats up; 1 denier for each empty cask going up.” Analogous taxes are enforced at Varennes for the benefit of the Duc de Chatelet, seignior of Varennes.
. National archives, K, 1453, No.1448: A letter by M. de Meulan, dated June 12, 1789. This tax on grain belonged at that time to the Comte d’Artois. — Châteaubriand, “Mémoires,” I.73.
. Renauldon, ibid.. 249, 258. “There are few seignioral towns which have a communal slaughter-house. The butcher must obtain special permission from the seignior.” — The tax on grinding was an average of a sixteenth. In many provinces, Anjou, Berry, Maine, Brittany, there was a lord’s mill for cloths and barks.
. Renauldon, ibid.. pp. 181, 200, 203; observe that he wrote this in 1765. Louis XVI. suppressed serfdom on the royal domains in 1778; and many of the seigniors, especially in Franche-Comté, followed his example. Beugnot, “Mémoires,” V. I. p.142. — Voltaire, “Mémoire au roi sur les serfs du Jura.” — “Mémoires de Bailly,” II. 214, according to an official report of the Nat. Ass., August 7, 1789. I rely on this report and on the book of M. Clerget, curate of Onans in Franche-Comté who is mentioned in it. M. Clerget says that there are still at this time (1789) 1,500,000 subjects of the king in a state of servitude but he brings forward no proofs to support these figures. Nevertheless it is certain that the number of serfs and mortmains is still very great. National archives, H; 723, registers on mortmains in Franche-Comté in 1788; H. 200, registers by Amelot on Burgundy in 1785. “In the sub-delegation of Charolles the inhabitants seem a century behind the age; being subject to feudal tenures, such as mort-main, neither mind nor body have any play. The redemption of mortmain, of which the king himself has set the example, has been put at such an exorbitant price by laymen, that the unfortunate sufferers cannot, and will not be able to secure it.
. Boiteau, ibid.. p. 25, (April, 1790), — Beugnot, “Mémoires,” I. 142.
. See end-note 2 at the end of the volume
I. Examples in Germany and England. — These services are not rendered by the privileged classes in France.
Let us consider the first one, local government. There are countries at the gates of France in which feudal subjection, more burdensome than in France, seems lighter because, in the other scale, the benefits counterbalance disadvantages. At Munster, in 1809, Beugnot finds a sovereign bishop, a town of convents and a large seigniorial mansion, a few merchants for indispensable trade, a small bourgeoisie, and, all around, a peasantry composed of either colons or serfs. The seignior deducts a portion of all their crops in provisions or in cattle, and, at their deaths, a portion of their inheritances. If they go away their property revert to him. His servants are chastised like Russian moujiks, and in each outhouse is a trestle for this purpose “without prejudice to graver penalties,” probably the bastinado and the like. But “never did the culprit entertain the slightest idea of complaint or appeal.” For if the seignior whips them as the father of family he protects them “as the father of a family, ever coming to their assistance when misfortune befalls them, and taking care of them in their illness.” He provides an asylum for them in old age; he looks after their widows, and rejoices when they have plenty of children. He is bound to them by common sympathies they are neither miserable nor uneasy; they know that, in every extreme or unforeseen necessity, he will be their refuge. In the Prussian states and according to the code of Frederick the Great, a still more rigorous servitude is atoned for by similar obligations. The peasantry, without their seignior’s permission, cannot alienate a field, mortgage it, cultivate it differently, change their occupation or marry. If they leave the seigniory he can pursue them in every direction and bring them back by force. He has the right of surveillance over their private life, and he chastises them if drunk or lazy. When young they serve for years as servants in his mansion; as cultivators they owe him corvees and, in certain places, three times a week. But, according to both law and custom, he is obliged “to see that they are educated, to succor them in indigence, and, as far as possible, to provide them with the means of support.” Accordingly he is charged with the duties of the government of which he enjoys the advantages, and, under the heavy hand which curbs them, but which sustains them, we do not find his subjects recalcitrant. In England, the upper class attains to the same result by other ways. There also the soil still pays the ecclesiastic tithe, strictly the tenth, which is much more than in France. The squire, the nobleman, possesses a still larger portion of the soil than his French neighbor and, in truth, exercises greater authority in his canton. But his tenants, the lessees and the farmers, are no longer his serfs, not even his vassals; they are free. If he governs it is through influence and not by virtue of a command. Proprietor and patron,
II. Resident Seigniors.
Remains of the beneficent feudal spirit.-They are not rigorous with their tenants but no longer retain the local government.-Their isolation.-Insignificance or mediocrity of their means of subsistence.-Their expenditure.-Not in a condition to remit dues.- Sentiments of peasantry towards them.
If we go back a little way in our history we find here and there similar nobles. Such was the Duc de Saint-Simon, father of the writer, a real sovereign in his government of Blaye, a respected by the king himself. Such was the grandfather Mirabeau, in his chateau of Mirabeau in Provence, the haughtiest, most absolute, most intractable of men, “demanding that the officers whom he appointed in his regiment should be favorably received by the king and by his ministers,” tolerating the inspectors only as a matter of form, but heroic, generous, faithful, distributing the pension offered to himself among six wounded captains under his command, mediating for poor litigants in the mountain, driving off his grounds the wandering attorneys who come to practice their chicanery, “the natural protector of man even against ministers and the king. A party of tobacco inspectors having searched his curate’s house, he pursues them so energetically on horseback that they hardly escape him by fording the Durance. Whereupon, “he wrote to demand the dismissal of the officers, declaring that unless this was done every person employed in the Excise should be driven into the Rhine or the sea; some of them were dismissed and the director himself came to give him satisfaction.” Finding his canton sterile and the settlers on it idle he organized them into groups, women and children, and, in the foulest weather, puts himself at their head, with his twenty severe wounds and neck supported by a piece of silver. He pays them to work making them clear off the lands, which he gives them on leases of a hundred years, and he makes them enclose a mountain of rocks with high walls and plant it with olive trees. “No one, under any pretext could be excused from working unless he was ill, and in this case under treatment, or occupied on his own property, a point in which my father could not be deceived, and nobody would have dared to do it.” These are the
Less independent and less harsh a paternal government subsists elsewhere, if not in the law at least through custom. In Brittany, near Tréguier and Lannion, says the bailiff of Mirabeau, “the entire staff of the coast-guard is composed of people of quality and of stock going back a thousand years. I have not seen one of them get irritated with a peasant-soldier, while, at the same time, I have seen on the part of the latter an air of filial respect for them . . . . It is a terrestrial paradise with respect to patriarchal manners, simplicity and true grandeur; the attitude of the peasants towards the seigniors is that of an affectionate son with his father; and the seigniors in talking with the peasants use their rude and coarse language, and speak only in a kind and genial way. We see mutual regard between masters and servants.” Farther south, in the Bocage, a wholly agricultural region, and with no roads, where ladies are obliged to travel on horseback and in ox-carts, where the seignior has no farmers, but only twenty-five or thirty métayers who work for him on shares, the supremacy of the great is no offense to their inferiors. People live together harmoniously when living together from birth to death, familiarly, and with the same interests, occupations and pleasures; like soldiers with their officers, on campaigns and under tents, in subordination although in companionship, familiarity never endangering respect. “The seignior often visits them on their small farms, talks with them about their affairs, about taking care of their cattle, sharing in the accidents and mishaps which likewise seriously affect him. He attends their children’s weddings and drinks with the guests. On Sunday there are dances in the chateau court, and the ladies take part in them.” When he is about to hunt wolves or boars the curate gives notice of it in the sermon; the peasants, with their guns gaily assemble at the rendezvous, finding the seignior who assigns them their posts, and strictly observing the directions he gives them. Here are soldiers and a captain ready made. A little later, and of their own accord, they will choose him for commandant in the national guard, mayor of the commune, chief of the insurrection, and, in 1792, the marksmen of the parish are to march under him against " the blues” as, at this epoch against the wolves. Such are the remnants of the good feudal spirit, like the scattered remnants of a submerged continent. Before Louis XIV., the spectacle was similar throughout France. “The rural
Let us first follow them into the provinces. We here find only the minor class of nobles and a portion of those of medium rank; the rest are in Paris. There is the same line of separation in the church: abbés-commendatory, bishops and archbishops very seldom live at home. The grand-vicars and canons live in the large towns; only priors and curates dwell in the rural districts. Ordinarily the entire ecclesiastic or lay staff is absent; residents are furnished only by the secondary or inferior grades. What are their relations with the peasant? One point is certain, and that is that they are not usually hard, nor even indifferent, to him. Separated by rank they are not so by distance; neighborhood is of itself a bond among men. I have read in vain, but I have not found them the rural tyrants, which the declaimers of the Revolution portray them. Haughty with the bourgeois they are generally kind to the villager. “Let any one travel through the provinces,” says a contemporary advocate, “over the estates occupied by the seigniors. Out of one hundred one may be found tyrannizing his dependents; all the others, patiently share the misery of those subject to their jurisdiction . . . They give their debtors time, remit sums due, and afford them every facility for settlement. They mollify and temper the sometimes over-rigorous proceedings of the fermiers, stewards and other men of business." An Englishwoman, who observes them in Provence just after the Revolution, says that, detested at Aix, they are much beloved on their estates. “Whilst they pass the first citizens with their heads erect and an air of disdain, they salute peasants with extreme courtesy and affability.” One of them distributes among the women, children and the aged on his domain wool and flax to spin during the bad season, and, at the end of the year, he offers a prize of one hundred
But on this ground the central government has taken their place. For a long time now have they been rather feeble against the intendant, unable to protect their parish. Twenty gentlemen cannot not assemble and deliberate without the king’s special permission. If those of Franche-Comté happen to dine together and hear a mass once a year, it is through tolerance, and even then this harmless group may assemble only in the presence of the intendant. Separated from his equals, the seignior, again, is further away from his inferiors. The administration of the village is of no concern to him; he is not even tasked with its supervision. The apportionment of taxes, the militia contingent, the repairs of the church, the summoning and presiding over a parish assembly, the making of roads, the establishment of charity workshops, all this is the intendant’s business or that of the communal officers whom the intendant appoints or directs. Except through his justiciary rights, so much curtailed, the seignior is an idler in public matters. If, by chance, he should desire to act in an official capacity, to make some reclamation for the community, the bureaus of administration would soon make him shut up. Since Louis XIV, the higher officials have things their own way; all legislation and the entire administrative system operate against the local seignior to deprive him of his functional efficiency and to confine him to his naked title. Through this separation of functions and title his pride increases, as he becomes less useful. His vanity deprived of its broad pasture-ground, falls back on a small one; henceforth he seeks distinctions and not influence. He thinks only of precedence and not of government. In short, the local government, in the hands of peasants commanded by bureaucrats, has become a common, offensive lot of red tape. “His pride would be wounded if he were asked to attend to it. Raising taxes, levying the militia, regulating the corvées, are servile acts,
III. Absentee Seigniors.
Vast extent of their fortunes and rights.-Possessing greater advantages they owe greater services.-Reasons for their absenteeism.- Effect of it.— Apathy of the provinces.-Condition of their estates.- They give no alms.-Misery of their tenants.-Exactions of their agents.-Exigencies of their debts. — State of their justiciary. — Effects of their hunting rights. — Sentiments of the peasantry towards them.
The spectacle becomes still gloomier, on passing from the estates on which the seigniors reside to those on which they are non-residents. Noble or ennobled, lay and ecclesiastic, the latter are privileged among the privileged, and form an aristocracy inside of an aristocracy. Almost all the powerful and accredited families belong to it whatever may be their origin and their date. Through their habitual or frequent residence near the court, through their alliances or mutual visits, through their habits and their luxuries, through the influence which they exercise and the enmities which they provoke, they form a group apart, and are those who possess the most extensive estates, the leading suzerainties, and the most complete and comprehensive jurisdictions. Of the court nobility and of the higher clergy, they number perhaps, a thousand in each order, while their small number only brings out in higher relief the enormity of their advantages. We have seen that the appanages of the princes of the blood comprise a seventh of the territory; Necker estimates the revenue of the estates enjoyed by the king’s two brothers at two millions. The domains of the Ducs de Bouillon, d’Aiguillon, and some others cover entire leagues, and, in immensity and continuity, remind one of those, which the Duke of Sutherland and the Duke of Bedford now possess in England. With nothing else than his forests and his canal, the Duke of Orleans, before marrying his wife, as rich as himself, obtains an income of a million. A certain seigniory, le Clermontois, belonging to the Prince de Condé, contains forty thousand inhabitants, which is the extent of a German principality; “moreover all the taxes or subsidies occurring in le Clermontois are imposed for the benefit of His Serene Highness, the king receiving absolutely nothing." Naturally authority and wealth go together, and, the more an estate yields, the more its owner resembles a sovereign. The archbishop of Cambray, Duc de Cambray, Comte de Cambrésis, possesses the suzerainty
To do this he must be in residence, but, generally, he is an absentee. For a hundred and fifty years a kind of all-powerful attraction diverts the grandees from the provinces and impels them towards the capital. The movement is irresistible, for it is the effect of two forces, the greatest and most universal that influence mankind, one, a social position, and the other the national character. A tree is not to be severed from its roots with impunity. Appointed to govern, an aristocracy frees itself from the land when it no longer rules. It ceases to rule the moment when, through increasing and constant encroachments, almost the entire justiciary, the entire administration, the entire police, each detail of the local or general government, the power of initiating, of collaboration, of control regarding taxation, elections, roads, public works and charities, passes over into the hands of the intendant or of the sub-delegate, under the supreme direction of the comptroller-general or of the king’s council. Civil servants, men “of the robe and the quill,” colorless commoners, perform the administrative work; there is no way to prevent it. Even with the king’s delegates, a provincial governor, were he hereditary, a prince of the blood, like the Condés in Burgundy, must efface himself before the intendant; he holds no effective office; his public duties consist of showing off and providing entertainment. Besides he would badly perform any others. The administrative machine, with its thousands of hard, creaking and dirty wheels, as Richelieu and Louis XIV, fashioned it, can work only in the hands of workmen who may be dismissed at any time therefore unscrupulous and prompt to give way to the judgment of the State. It is impossible to allow oneself to get mixed up with rogues of that description. He accordingly abstains, and abandons public affairs to them. Unemployed, bored, what could he now do on his domain, where he no longer reigns, and where dullness overpowers him? He betakes himself to the city, and especially to the court. Moreover, only here can he pursue a career; to be successful he has to become a courtier.
“Exile alone,” says Arthur Young, “can force the French nobility to do what the English prefer to do, and that is to live on their estates and embellish them.”
Saint-Simon and other court historians, on mentioning a ceremony, repeatedly state that “all France was there”; in fact, every one of consequence in France is there, and each recognizes the other by this sign. Paris and the court become, accordingly, the necessary sojourn of all fine people. In such a situation departure begets departure; the more a province is forsaken the more they forsake it. “There is not in the kingdom,” says the Marquis de Mirabeau, “a single estate of any size of which the proprietor is not in Paris and who, consequently, neglects his buildings and chateaux." The lay grand seigniors have their hotels in the capital, their entresol at Versailles, and their pleasure-house within a circuit of twenty leagues; if they visit their estates at long intervals, it is to hunt. The fifteen hundred commendatory abbés and priors enjoy their benefices as if they were so many remote farms. The two thousand seven hundred vicars and canons visit each other and dine out. With the exception of a few apostolic characters the one hundred and thirty-one bishops stay at home as little as they can; nearly all of them being nobles, all of them men of society, what could they do out of the world, confined to a provincial town? Can we imagine a grand seignior, once a gay and gallant abbé and now a bishop with a hundred thousand livres income, voluntarily burying himself for the entire year at Mende, at Comminges, in a paltry cloister? The interval has become too great between the refined, varied and literary life of the great center, and the monotonous, inert, practical life of the provinces. Hence it is that the grand seignior who withdraws from the former cannot enter into the latter, and he remains an absentee, at least in feeling.
A country in which the heart ceases to impel the blood through its veins presents a somber aspect. Arthur Young, who traveled over France between 1787 and 1789, is surprised to find at once such a vital center and such dead extremities. Between Paris and Versailles the double file of vehicles going and coming extends uninterruptedly for five leagues from morning till night. The contrast on other roads is very great. Leaving Paris by the Orleans road, says Arthur Young, “we met not one stage or diligence for ten miles; only two messageries and very few chaises, not a tenth of what would have been met had we been leaving London at the same hour.” On the highroad near Narbonne, “for thirty-six miles,” he says, “I came across but one cabriolet, half a dozen carts and a few women leading asses.” Elsewhere, near St. Girons, he notices that in two hundred and fifty miles he encountered in all, “two cabriolets and three miserable things similar to our old one-horse post chaise, and not one gentleman.” Throughout this country the inns are execrable; it is impossible to hire a wagon, while in England, even in a town of fifteen hundred or two thousand inhabitants, there are comfortable
“A town in which no one can be found with whom you can talk at your ease on any topic whatever, reasonably or sensibly. The nobles, three-fourths of them dying of hunger, rotting with pride of birth, keeping apart from men of the robe and of finance, and finding it strange that the daughter of a tax-collector, married to a counselor of the parliament of Paris, should presume to be intelligent and entertain company. The citizens are of the grossest ignorance, the sole support of this species of lethargy in which the minds of most of the inhabitants are plunged. Women, bigoted and pretentious, and much given to play and to gallantry."
In this impoverished and benumbed society, among these Messieurs Thibaudeau, the counselor, and Harpin, the tax-collector, among these vicomtes de Sotenville and Countesses d’Escarbagnas, lives the Archbishop, Cardinal de Larochefoucauld, grand almoner to the king, provided with four great abbeys, possessing five hundred thousand livres income, a man of the world, generally an absentee, and when at home, finding amusement in the embellishing of his gardens and palace, in short, the golden pheasant of an aviary in a poultry yard of geese. Naturally there is an entire absence of political thought. “You cannot imagine,” says the manuscript, “a person more indifferent to all public matters.” At a later period, in the very midst of events of the gravest character, and which most nearly concern them, there is the same apathy. At Chateau-Thierry on the 4th of July, 1789, there is not a café in which a new paper can be found; there is but one at Dijon; at Moulins, the 7th of August, “in the best café in the town, where I found near twenty tables set for company, but as for a newspaper I might as well have demanded an elephant.” Between Strasbourg and Besançon there is not a gazette. At Besançon there is “nothing but the Gazette de France, for which, this period, a man of common sense would not give
Such is the languor or, rather, the prostration, into which local life falls when the local chiefs deprive it of their presence, action or sympathy. I find only three or four grand seigniors taking a part in it, practical philanthropists following the example of English noblemen; the Duc d’Harcourt, who settles the lawsuits of his peasants; the Duc de Larochefoucauld-Liancourt who establishes a model farm on his domain, and a school of industrial pursuits for the children of poor soldiers; and the Comte de Brienne, whose thirty villages are to demand liberty of the Convention. The rest, for the most part liberals, content themselves with discussions on public affairs and on political economy. In fact, the difference in manners, the separation of interests, the remoteness of ideas are so great that contact between those most exempt from haughtiness and their immediate tenantry is rare, and at long intervals. Arthur Young, needing some information at the house of the Duc de Larochefoucauld himself, the steward is sent for. “At an English nobleman’s, there would have been three or four farmers asked to meet me, who would have dined with the family amongst the ladies of the first rank. I do not exaggerate when I say that I have had this at least an hundred times in the first houses of our islands. It is, however, a thing that in the present style of manners in France would not be met with from Calais to Bayonne except, by chance, in the house of some great lord that had been much in England, and then not unless it was asked for. The nobility in France have no more idea of practicing agriculture, and making it a subject of conversation, except on the mere theory, as they would speak of
Doing nothing for the soil, how could they do anything for men? Now and then, undoubtedly, especially with farms that pay no rent, the steward writes a letter, alleging the misery of the farmer. There is no doubt, also, that, especially for thirty years back, they desire to be humane; they descant among themselves about the rights of man; the sight of the pale face of a hungry peasant would give them pain. But they never see him; does it ever occur to them to fancy what it is like under the awkward and complimentary phrases of their agent? Moreover, do they know what hunger is? Who amongst them has had any rural experiences? And how could they picture to themselves the misery of this forlorn being? They are too remote from him to that, too ignorant of his mode of life. The portrait they conceive of him is imaginary; never was there a falser representation of the peasant; accordingly the awakening is to be terrible. They view him as the amiable swain, gentle, humble and grateful, simple-hearted and right-minded, easily led, being conceived according to Rousseau and the idylls performed at this very epoch in all private drawing rooms. Lacking a knowledge him they overlook him; they read the steward’s letter and immediately the whirl of high life again seizes them and, after a sigh bestowed on the distress of the poor, they make up their minds that their income for the year will be short. A disposition of this kind is not favorable to charity. Accordingly, complaints arise, not against the residents but against the absentees. “The possessions of the Church, says a letter, serve only to nourish the passions of their holders.” “According to the canons, says another memorandum, every beneficiary must give a quarter of his income to the poor; nevertheless in our parish there is a revenue of more than twelve thousand livres, and none of it is given to the poor unless it is some small matter at the hands of the curate.” “The abbé de Conches gets one-half of the tithes and contributes nothing to the relief of the parish.” Elsewhere, “the chapter of Ecouis, which owns the benefice of the tithes is of no advantage to the poor, and only seeks to augment its income.” Nearby, the abbé of Croix-Leufroy, “a heavy tithe-owner, and the abbé de Bernay, who gets fifty-seven thousand livres from his benefice, and who is a non-resident, keep all and scarcely give enough to their officiating curates to keep them alive.” “I have in my parish, says a curate of Berry, six simple benefices of which the titularies are always absent. They enjoy together an income of nine thousand livres; I sent them in writing the most urgent entreaties during the calamity of the past year; I received from one them two louis only, and most of them did not even answer me.” Stronger is the reason for a conviction that in ordinary times they will make no remission of their dues. Moreover, these dues, the censives, the lods et ventes, tithes, and the like, are in the hands of a steward, and he is
“He is a ravenous wolf,” says Renauldon, “let loose on the estate. He draws upon it to the last sou, he crushes the subjects, reduces them to beggary, forces the cultivators to desert. The owner, thus rendered odious, finds himself obliged to tolerate his exactions to able to profit by them.”
Imagine, if you can, the evil which a country usurer exercises, armed against them with such burdensome rights; it is the feudal seigniory in the hands of Harpagon, or rather of old Grandet. When, indeed, a tax becomes insupportable we see, by the local complaints, that it is nearly always a fermier who enforces it. It is one of these, acting for a body of canons, who claims Jeanne Mermet’s paternal inheritance on the pretense that she had passed her wedding night at her husband’s house. One can barely find similar exactions in the Ireland of 1830, on those estates where, the farmer-general renting to sub-farmers and the latter to others still below them. The poor tenant at the foot of the ladder himself bore the full weight of it, so much the more crushed because his creditor, crushed himself measured the requirements he exacted by those he had to submit to.
Suppose that, seeing this abuse of his name, the seignior is desirous of withdrawing the administration of his domains from these mercenary hands. In most cases he is unable to do it: he too deeply in debt, having appropriated to his creditors a certain portion of his land, a certain branch of his income. For centuries, the nobles are involved through their luxury, their prodigality, their carelessness, and through that false sense of honor, which consists in looking upon attention to accounts as the occupation of an accountant. They take pride in their negligence, regarding it, as they say, living nobly. “Monsieur the archbishop,” said Louis XVI. to M. de Dillon,
One-point remains, the chase, wherein the noble’s jurisdiction is still active and severe, and it is just the point which is found the most offensive. Formerly, when one-half of the canton consisted of forest, or waste land, while the other half was being ravaged by wild beasts, he was justified in reserving the right to hunt them; it entered into his function as local captain. He was the hereditary gendarme, always armed, always on horseback, as well against wild boars and wolves as against rovers and brigands. Now that nothing is left to him of the gendarme but the title and the epaulettes he maintains his privilege through tradition, thus converting a service into an annoyance. Hunt he must, and he alone must hunt; it is a physical necessity and, it the same time, a sign of his blood. A Rohan, a Dillon, chases the stag although belonging to the church, in spite of edicts and in spite of the canons. “You hunt too much,” said Louis XV. to the latter; “I know something about it. How can you prohibit your curates from hunting if you pass your life in setting them such an example? — Sire, for my curates the chase is a fault, for myself it is the fault of my ancestors.” When the vanity and arrogance of caste thus mounts guard over a right it is with obstinate vigilance. Accordingly, their captains of the chase, their game-keepers, their wood-rangers, their forest-wardens protect brutes as if they were men, and hunt men as if they were brutes. In the bailiwick of Pont-l’Evèque in 1789 four instances are cited “of recent assassinations committed by the game-keepers of Mme. d’A——, -Mme. N-—–,
When sovereignty becomes transformed into a sinecure it becomes burdensome without being useful, and on becoming burdensome without being useful it is overthrown.
_______________ Notes: . Beugnot, “Mémoires,” V. I. p.292. — De Tocqueville, “L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution.”
. Arthur Young, “Travels in France,” II. 456. In France, he says, it is from the eleventh to the thirty-second. “But nothing is known like the enormities committed in England where the tenth is really taken.”
. Saint-Simon, “Mémoires,” ed. Chéruel, vol. I. — Lucas de Montigny, “Mémoires de Mirabeau,” I. 53-182. — Marshal Marmont, “Mémoires,” I. 9, 11. — Châteaubriand, “Mémoires,” I. 17. De Montlosier, “Mémoires,” 2 vol. passim. — Mme. de Larochejacquelein, “Souvenirs,” passim. Many details concerning the types of the old nobility will be found in these passages. They are truly and forcibly depicted in two novels by Balzac in “Beatrix,” (the Baron de Guénic) and in the “Cabinet des Antiques,” (the Marquis d’ Esgrignon).
. A letter of the bailiff of Mirabeau, 1760, published by M. de Loménie in the “Correspondant,” V. 49, p.132.
. Mme. de Larochejacquelein, ibid. I. 84. “As M. de Marigny had some knowledge of the veterinary art the peasants of the canton came after him when they had sick animals.”
. Marquis de Mirabeau, “Traité de la Population,” p. 57.
. De Tocqueville, ibid. p.180. This is proved by the registers of the capitation-tax which was paid at the actual domicile.
. Renauldon, ibid.., Preface p. 5. — Anne Plumptre, “A narrative of three years residence in France from 1802 to 1805.” II. 357. — Baroness Oberkirk, “Mémoires,” II. 389. — “De l’état religieux,” by the abbés Bonnefoi and Bernard, 1784, p. 295. — Mme.Vigée-Lébrun, “Souvenirs,” p.171.
. Archives nationales, D, XIX. portfolios 14, 15, 25. Five bundles of papers are filled with these petitions.
. Ibid. D, XIX. portfolio 11. An admirable letter by Joseph of Saintignon, abbé of Domiévre, general of the regular canons of Saint-Sauveur and a resident. He has 23,000 livres income, of which 6,066 livres is a pension from the government, in recompense for his services. His personal expenditure not being over 5,000 livres “he is in a situation to distribute among the poor and the workmen, in the space of eleven years, more than 250,000 livres.”
. On the conduct and sentiments of lay and ecclesiastical seigniors cf. Léonce de Lavergne, “Les Assemblées provinciales,” I vol. Legrand, “L’intendance du Hainaut,” I vol. Hippeau, “Le Gouvernement de Normandie,” 9 vols.
. “The most active sympathy filled their breasts; that which an opulent man most dreaded was to be regarded as insensible.” (Lacretelle, vol. V. p. 2.)
. Floquet, “Histoire du Parlement de Normandie,” vol. VI. p.696. In 1772 twenty-five gentlemen and imprisoned or exiled for having signed a protest against the orders of the court.
. De Tocqueville, ibid. pp. 39, 56, 75, 119, 184. He has developed this point with admirable force and insight.
. De Tocqueville, ibid. p.376. Complaints of the provincial assembly of Haute-Guyenne. “People complain daily that there is no police in the rural districts. How could there be one? The nobles takes no interest in anything, excepting a few just and benevolent seigniors who take advantage of their influence with vassals to prevent affrays.”
. Records of the States-General of 1789. Many of the registers of the noblesse consist of the requests by nobles, men and women, of some honorary distinctive mark, for instance a cross or a ribbon which will make them recognizable.
. De Boullé, “Mémoires,” p.50. — De Toqueville, ibid.. pp. 118, 119. — De Loménie, “Les Mirabeau, " p. 132. A letter of the bailiff of Mirabeau, 1760. — De Châteaubriand, Mémoires,” I. 14, 15, 29, 76, 80, 125. — Lucas de Montigny, “Mémoires de Mirabeau,” I. 160. — Reports of the Société du Berry. “Bourges en 1753 et 1754,” according to a diary (in the national archives), written by one of the exiled parliamentarians, p. 273.
. “La vie de mon père,” by Rétif de la Bretonne, I. 146.
. The rule is analogous with the other coutumes (common-law rules), of other places and especially in Paris. (Renauldon, ibid.. p. 134.)
. A sort of dower right. Tr.
. Mme. d’Oberkirk, “Mémoires,” I. 395.
. De Bouillé, “Mémoires,” p. 50. According to him, “all the noble old families, excepting two or three hundred, were ruined. A larger portion of the great titled estates had become the appanage of financiers, merchants and their descendants. The fiefs, for the most part, were in the hands of the bourgeoisie of the towns.” — Léonce de Lavergne, “Economie rurale en France,” p. 26. “The greatest number vegetated in poverty in small country fiefs often not worth more than 2,000 or 3,000 francs a year.” — In the apportionment of the indemnity in 1825, many received less than 1,000 francs. The greater number of indemnities do not exceed 50,000 francs. — “The throne,” says Mirabeau, “is surrounded only by ruined nobles.”
. De Bouillé, “Memoires,” p. 50. — Cherin, “Abrégé chronologique des édits” (1788). “Of this innumerable multitude composing the privileged order scarcely a twentieth part of it can really pretend to nobility of an immemorial and ancient date.” — 4,070 financial, administrative, and judicial offices conferred nobility. — Turgot, “Collection des Economistes,” II. 276. “Through the facilities for acquiring nobility by means of money there is no rich man who does not at once become noble.” — D’Argenson, “Mémoires,” III. 402.
. Necker, “De l’Administration des Finances,” II. 271. Legrand, “L’Intendance de Hainaut,” pp. 104, 118, 152, 412.
. Even after the exchange of 1784, the prince retains for himself “all personal impositions as well as subventions on the inhabitants,” except a sum of 6,000 livres for roads. Archives Nationales, G, 192, a memorandum of April 14th, 1781, on the state of things in the Clermontois. — Report of the provincial assembly of the Three Bishoprics (1787), p. 380.
. The town of St. Amand, alone, contains to day 10,210 inhabitants.
. See note 3 at the end of the volume.
. De Ferrières, “Mémoires,” II. 57: “All had 100,000 some 200, 300, and even 800,000.”
. De Tocqueville, ibid.. book 2, Chap. 2. p.182. — Letter of the bailiff of Mirabau, August 23, 1770. “This feudal order was merely vigorous, even though they have pronounced it barbarous, because France, which once had the vices of strength, now has only those of feebleness, and because the flock which was formerly devoured by wolves is now eaten up with lice. . . . Three or four kicks or blows with a stick were not half so injurious to a poor man’s family, nor to himself, as being devoured by six rolls of handwriting.” — “The nobility,” says St. Simon, in his day, “has become another people with no choice left it but to crouch down in mortal and ruinous indolence, which renders it a burden and contemptible, or to go and be killed in warfare; subject to the insults of clerks, secretaries of the state and the secretaries of intendants.” Such are the complaints of feudal spirits. — The details which follow are all derived from Saint Simon, Dangeau, de Luynes, d’Argenson and other court historians.
. Works of Louis XIV. and his own words. — Mme Vigée-Lebrun, “Souvenirs,” I.71: “I have seen the queen (Marie Antoinette), obliging Madame to dine, then six years of age, with a little peasant girl whom she was taking care of, and insisting that this little one should he served first, saying to her daughter: ‘You must do the honors.’ " (Madame is the title given to the king’s oldest daughter. Sr.)
. Molière, “Misanthrope.” This is the “desert” in which Célimène refuses to he buried with Alceste. See also in “Tartuffe” the picture which Dorine draws of a small town.- Arthur Young,” Voyages en France,” I. 78.
. ’Traité de la Population,” p. 108, (1756).
. I have this from old people who witnessed it before 1789.
. “Mémoires” de M. de Montlosier,” I. p. 161,.
. Reports of the Société de Berry, “Bourges en 1753 et 1754,” p. 273.
. Ibid.. p. 271. One day the cardinal, showing his guests over his palace just completed, led them to the bottom of a corridor where he had placed water closets, at that time a novelty. M. Boutin de la Coulommière, the son of a receiver-general of the finances, made an exclamation at the sight of the ingenious mechanism which it pleased him to see moving, and, turning towards the abbé de Canillac, he says: “That is really admirable, but what seems to me still more admirable is that His Eminence, being above all human weakness, should condescend to make use of it.” This anecdote is valuable, as it serves to illustrate the rank and position of a grand-seignior prelate in the provinces.
. Arthur Young, V.II. P.230 and the following pages.
. Abolition of the tithe, the feudal rights, the permission to kill the game, etc.
. De Loménie, “Les Mirabeau,” p.134. A letter of the bailiff, September 25, 1760: “I am at Harcourt, where I admire the master’s honest, benevolent greatness. You cannot imagine my pleasure on fête days at seeing the people everywhere around the château, and the good little peasant boys and girls looking right in the face of their good landlord and almost pulling his watch off to examine the trinkets on the chain, and all with a fraternal air; without familiarity. The good duke does not make his vassals to go to court; he listens to them and decides for them, humoring them with admirable patience.” Lacretelle, “Dix ans d’épreuve,” p. 58.
. “De l’état religieux,” by the abbés de Bonnefoi et Bernard, 1784, I. pp. 287, 291.
. See on this subject “La partie de chasse de Henri IV” by Collé. Cf. Berquin, Florian, Marmontel, etc, and likewise the engravings of that day.
. Boivin-Champeaux, “Notice historique sue la Révolution dans le département de l’Eure,” p. 63, 61.
. Archives nationales, Reports of the States-General of 1789, T, XXXIX., p. 111. Letter of the 6th March, 1789, from the curate of St. Pierre de Ponsigny, in Berry. D’Argenson, 6th July, 1756. “The late cardinal de Soubise had three millions in cash and he gave nothing to the poor.”
. De Tocqueville, ibid.. 405. — Renauldon, ibid.. 628.
. The example is set by the king who sells to the farmer-generals, for an annual sum, the management and product of the principal indirect taxes.
. Voltaire, “Politique et Législation, La voix du Curé,” (in relation to the serfs of St. Claude). — A speech of the Duke d’Aiguillon, August 4th, 1789, in the National Assembly: “The proprietors of fiefs, of seigniorial estates, are rarely guilty of the excesses of which their vassals complain; but their agents are often pitiless.”
. Beugnot. “Mémoires,” V. I. p.136. — Duc de Lévis, “Souvenirs et portraits,” p. 156. — “Moniteur,” the session of November 22, 1872, M. Bocher says: “According to the statement drawn up by order of the Convention the Duke of Orleans’s fortune consisted of 74,000,000 of indebtedness and 140,000,000 of assets.” On the 8th January, 1792, he had assigned to his creditors 38,000,000 to obtain his discharge.
. King Louis the XVI’s brother. (Sr.)
. In 1785, the Duke de Choiseul In his testament estimated his property at fourteen millions and his debts at ten millions. (Comte de Tilly, “Mémoires,” II. 215.)
. Renauldon, ibid.. 45, 52, 628. — Duvergier, “Collection des Lois,” II. 391; law of August 31; — October 18, 1792. — Statements (cahier) of grievances of a magistrate of the Chatelet on seigniorial courts (1789), p. 29. — Legrand, " l’Intendance du Hainaut,” p.119.
. Archives Nationales, H, 654 ("Mémoire” by René de Hauteville, advocate to the Parliament, Saint-Brieuc, October 5, 1776.) In Brittany the number of seigniorial courts is immense, the pleaders being obliged to pass through four or five jurisdictions before reaching the Parliament. “Where is justice rendered? In the cabaret, in the tavern, where, amidst drunkards and riff-raff, the judge sells justice to whoever pays the most for it.”
. Beugnot, “Mémoires,” vol. I. p. 35.
. Boivin-Champeaux, ibid.. 48. — Renauldon, 26, 416. — Manuscript reports of the States-general (Archives nationales), t. CXXXII. pp. 896 and 901. — Hippeau, “Le Gouvernement de Normandie,” VII. 61, 74. — Paris, “La Jeunesse de Robespierre,” pp.314-324. — “Essai sur les capitaineries royales et autres,” (1789) passim. — De Loménie, “Beaumarchais et son emps,” I. 125. Beaumarchais having purchased the office of lieutenant-general of the chase in the bailiwicks of the Louvre warren (twelve to fifteen leagues in circumference. approx. 60 km. Sr.) tries delinquents under this title. July 15th, 1766, he sentences Ragondet, a farmer to a fine of one hundred livres together with the demolition of the walls around an enclosure, also of his shed newly built without license, as tending to restrict the pleasures of the king.
. Marquis D’Argenson, “Mémoires,” ed. Rathery, January 27, 1757. “The sieur de Montmorin, captain of the game-preserves of Fontainebleau, derives from his office enormous sums, and behaves himself like a bandit. The population of more than a hundred villages around no longer sow their land, the fruits and grain being eaten by deer; stags and other game. They keep only a few vines, which they preserve six months of the year by mounting guard day and night with drums, making a general turmoil to frighten off the destructive animals.” January 23, 1753. — " M. le Prince de Conti has established a captainry of eleven leagues around Ile-Adam and where everybody is vexed at it.” September 23, 1753. — M. le Duc d’Orléans came to Villers-Cotterets, he has revived the captainry; there are more than sixty places for sale on account of these princely annoyances.
. The old peasants with whom I once have talked still had a clear memory of these annoyances and damages. — They recounted how, in the country around Clermont, the gamekeepers of Prince de Condé in the springtime took litters of wolves and raised them in the dry moats of the chateau. They were freed in the beginning of the winter, and the wolf hunting team would then hunt them later. But they ate the sheep, and, here and there, a child.
. The estates of the king encompassed in forest one million acres, not counting forests in the appanages set aside for his eldest son or for factories or salt works.
. De Montlosier, “Mémoires,” I. 175.
I. England compared to France.
An English example. — The Privileged class renders no service in France. — The influence and rights which remain to them. — They use it only for themselves.
Useless in the canton, they might have been useful at the Center of the State, and, without taking part in the local government, they might have served in the general government. Thus does a lord, a baronet, a squire act in England, even when not a “justice” of his county or a committee-man in his parish. Elected a member of the Lower House, a hereditary member of the upper house, he holds the strings of the public purse and prevents the sovereign from spending too freely. Such is the régime in countries where the feudal seigniors, instead of allowing the sovereign to ally himself with the people against them, allied themselves with the people against the sovereign. To protect their own interests better they secured protection for the interests of others, and, after having served as the representatives of their compeers they became the representatives of the nation. Nothing of this kind takes place in France. The States-General are fallen into desuetude, and the king may with truth declare himself the sole representative of the country. Like trees rendered lifeless
II. The Clergy
Assemblies of the clergy. — They serve only ecclesiastical interests. — The clergy exempted from taxation. — Solicitation of its agents. — Its zeal against the Protestants.
Let us observe the most vigorous and the best-rooted of these bodies, the assembly of the clergy. It meets every five years, and, during the interval, two agents, selected by it, watch over the interests of the order. Convoked by the government, subject to its guidance, retained or dismissed when necessary, always in its hands, used by it for political ends, it nevertheless continues to be a refuge for the clergy, which it represents. But it is an asylum solely for that body, and, in the series of transactions by which it defends itself against fiscal demands, it eases its own shoulders of the load only to make it heavier on the shoulders of others. We have seen how its diplomacy saved clerical immunities, how it bought off the body from the poll-tax and the vingtièmes, how it converted its portion of taxation into a “free gift,” how this gift is annually applied to refunding the capital which it has borrowed to obtain this exemption, by which delicate art it succeeds, not only in not contributing to the treasury, but in withdrawing from it every year about 1,500,000 livres, all of which is so much the better for the church but so much the worse for the people. Now run through the file of folios in which from one period of five years to another the reports of its agents follow each other, — so many clever men thus preparing themselves for the highest positions in the church, the abbés de Boisgelin, de Périgord, de Barral, de Montesquiou; at each moment, owing to their solicitations with judges and the council, owing to the authority which the discontent of the powerful order felt to be behind them gives to their complaints, some ecclesiastic matter is decided in an ecclesiastical sense; so feudal right is maintained in favor of a chapter or of a bishop; some public demand is thrown out. In 1781, notwithstanding decision of the Parliament of Rennes, the canons of St. Malo are sustained in their monopoly of the district baking oven. This is to the detriment of the bakers
Regulations in their favor. — Preferment obtained by them in the Church. — Distribution of bishoprics and abbeys. — Preferment obtained from them from the State. — Governments, offices, sinecures, pensions, gratuities. — Instead of being useful they are an expense.
Thus do public bodies work when, instead of being associated together, they are separate. The same spectacle is apparent on contemplating castes and associations; their isolation is the cause of their egoism. From the top to the bottom of the scale the legal and moral powers which should represent the nation represent themselves only, while each one is busy in its own behalf at the expense of the nation. The nobility, in default of the right to meet together and to vote, exercises its influence, and, to know how it uses this, it is sufficient to read over the edicts and the Almanac. A regulation imposed on Marshal de Ségurhas just restored the old barrier, which excluded commoners from military rank, and thenceforward, to be a captain, it is necessary to prove four degrees of nobility. In like manner, in late days, one must be a noble to be a master of requests, and it is secretly determined that in future “all ecclesiastical property, from the humblest priory to the richest abbeys, shall be reserved to the nobility.” In fact, all the high places, ecclesiastic or laic, are theirs; all the sinecures, ecclesiastic or laic, are theirs, or for their relations, adherents, protégés, and servitors. France is like a vast stable
Let us contemplate them at work on the budget. We know how large that of the church is; I estimate that they absorb at east one-half of it. Nineteen chapters of male nobles, twenty-five chapters of female nobles, two hundred and sixty commanderies of Malta belong to them by institution. They occupy, by favor, all the archbishoprics, and, except five, all the bishoprics. They furnish three out of four abbés-commendatory and vicars-general. If, among the abbeys of females royally nominated, we set apart those bringing in twenty thousand livres and more, we find that they all have ladies of rank for abbesses. One fact alone shows the extent of these favors: I have counted eighty-three abbeys of men possessed by the almoners, chaplains, preceptors or readers to the king, queen, princes, and princesses; one of them, the abbé de Vermont, has 80,000 livres income in benefices. In short, the fifteen hundred ecclesiastical sinecures under royal appointment, large or small, constitute a flow of money for the service of the great, whether they pour it out in golden rain to recompense the assiduity of their intimates and followers, or keep it in large reservoirs to maintain the dignity of their rank. Besides, according to the fashion of giving more to those who have already enough, the richest prelates possess, above their episcopal revenues, the wealthiest abbeys. According to the Almanac, M. d’Argentré, bishop of Séez, thus enjoys an extra income of 34,000 livres; M. de Suffren, bishop of Sisteron, 36,000; M. de Girac, bishop of Rennes, 40,000; M. de Bourdeille, bishop of Soissons, 42,000; M. d’Agout de Bonneval, bishop of Pamiers, 45,000; M. de Marboeuf bishop of Autun, 50,000; M. de Rohan, bishop of Strasbourg, 60,000; M. de Cicé, archbishop of Bordeaux, 63,000; M. de Luynes, archbishop of Sens, 82,000; M. de Bernis, archbishop of Alby, 100,000; M. de Brienne, archbishop of Toulouse, l06,000; M. de Dillon, archbishop of Narbonne, 120,000; M. de Larochefoucauld, archbishop of Rouen, 130,000 ; that is to say, double and sometimes triple the sums stated,
Let us pass on to the lay budget; here also are prolific sinecures, and almost all belong to the nobles. Of this class there are in the provinces the thirty-seven great governments-general, the seven small governments-general, the sixty-six lieutenancies-general, the four hundred and seven special governments, the thirteen governorships of royal palaces, and a number of others, all of them for ostentation and empty honors. They are all in the hands of the nobles, all lucrative, not only through salaries paid by the treasury, but also through local profits. Here, again, the nobility allowed itself to evade the authority, the activity and the usefulness of its charge on the condition of retaining its title, pomp and money. The intendant is really the governor; “the titular governor, exercising a function with special letters of command,” is only there to give dinners; and again he must have permission to do that, “the permission to go and reside at his place of government.” The place, however, yields fruit. The government-general of Berry is worth 35,000 livres income, that of Guyenne 120,000, that of Languedoc 160,000; a small special government, like that of Havre, brings in 35,000 livres, besides the accessories; a medium lieutenancy-general, like that of Roussillon, 13,000 to 14,000 livres; one special government from 12,000 to 18,000 livres; and observe that, in the Isle of France alone, there are thirty-four, at Vervins, Senlis, Melun, Fontainebleau, Dourdan, Sens, Limours, Etampes, Dreux, Houdan and other towns as insignificant as they are pacific; it is the staff of the Valois dynasty which, since the time of Richelieu, has ceased to perform any service, but which the treasury continues to pay. — Consider these sinecures in one province alone, in Languedoc, a country with its own provincial assembly, which ought to provide some protection the taxpayer’s purse. There are three sub-commandants at Tournon, Alais, and Montpelier, “each one paid 16,000 livres, although without any functions since their places were established at the time of the religious wars and troubles, to keep down the Protestants.” Twelve royal lieutenants are equally useless, and only for parade. The same with three lieutenants-general, each one “receiving in his turn, every three
Equally lucrative and useless are the court offices, so many domestic sinecures, the profits and accessories of which largely exceed the emoluments. I find in the printed register 295 cooks, without counting the table-waiters of the king and his people, while “the head butler obtains 84,000 livres a year in billets and supplies,” without counting his salary and the “grand liveries” which he receives in money. The head chambermaids to the queen, inscribed in the Almanac for 150 livres and paid 12,000 francs, make in reality 50,000 francs by the sale of the candles lighted during the day. Augeard, private secretary, and whose place is set down at 900 livres a year, confesses that it is worth to him 200,000. The head huntsman at Fontainebleau sells for his own benefit each year 20,000 francs worth of rabbits. “On each journey to the king’s country residences the ladies of the bedchamber gain eighty per cent on the expenses of moving; it is said that the coffee and bread for each of these ladies costs 2,000 francs a year, and so on with other things.” “Mme. de Tallard made 115,000 livres income out of her place of governess to the children of France, because her
IV. Isolation of the Chiefs — Sentiments of subordinates- Provincial nobility — The Curates.
The fleeced flock is to discover finally what is done with its wool. “Sooner or later,” says a parliament of 1764, “the people will learn that the remnants of our finances continue be wasted in donations which are frequently undeserved; in excessive and multiplied pensions for the same persons; in dowries and promises of dowry, and in useless offices and salaries.” Sooner or later they will thrust back “these greedy hands which are always open and never full; that insatiable crowd which seems to be born only to seize all and possess nothing, and pitiless as it is shameless.” — And when this day arrives the extortioners will find that they stand alone. For the characteristic of an aristocracy which cares only for itself is to live aloof in a closed circle. Having forgotten the public, it also neglects its subordinates; after being separated from the nation it separates itself from its own adherents. Like a group of staff-officers on furlough, it indulges in Sports without giving itself further concern about inferior officers; when the hour of battle comes nobody will march under its orders, and chieftains are sought elsewhere. Such is the isolation of the seigniors of the court and of the prelates among the lower grades of the nobility and the clergy; they appropriate to themselves too large a share, and give nothing, or almost nothing, to the people who are not of their society. For a century a steady murmur against them rising, and
The same sentiments prevail among the lower clergy, and still more actively; for they are excluded from the high offices, not only as inferiors, but also as commoner. Already, in 1766, the Marquis de Mirabeau writes: “It would be an insult to most of our pretentious ecclesiastics to offer them a curacy. Revenues and honors are for the abbés-commendatory, for tonsured beneficiaries not in orders, for the numerous chapters (of nobility).” On the contrary, “the true pastors of souls, the collaborators in the holy ministry, scarcely obtain a subsistence.” The first class “drawn from the nobility and from the best of the bourgeoisie have pretensions only, without being of the true ministry. The other, only having duties to fulfill without expectations and almost without income . . . can be recruited only from the lowest ranks of civil society,”
V. The King’s Incompetence and Generosity.
The most privileged of all — Having monopolized all powers, he takes upon himself their functional activity — The burden of this task - He evades it or is incompetent — His conscience at ease — France is his property — How he abuses it — Royalty the center of abuses.
One privilege remains the most considerable of all, that of the king; for, in his staff of hereditary nobles he is the hereditary general. His office, indeed, is not a sinecure, like their rank; but it involves quite as grave disadvantages and worse temptations. Two things are pernicious to Man, the lack of occupation and the lack of restraint; neither inactivity nor omnipotence are in harmony with his nature. The absolute prince who is all-powerful, like the listless aristocracy with nothing to do, in the end become useless and mischievous. — In grasping all powers the king insensibly took upon himself all functions; an immense undertaking and one surpassing human strength. For it is the Monarchy, and not the Revolution, which endowed France with administrative centralization . Three functionaries, one above the other, manage all public business under the direction of the king’s council; the comptroller-general at the center, the intendant in each generalship, the sub-delegate
Undoubtedly the wrong they do, or which is done in their name, dissatisfies the kings and upsets them, but, at the bottom, their conscience is not disturbed. They may feel compassion for the people, but they do not feel guilty; they are its sovereigns and not its representatives. France, to them, is as a domain to its lord, and a lord is not deprived of honor in being prodigal and neglectful. He merely gambles away his own property, and nobody has a right to call him to account. Founded on feudal society, royalty is like an estate, an inheritance. It would be infidelity, almost treachery in a prince, in any event weak and base, should he allow any portion of the trust received by him intact from his ancestors for transmission to his children, to pass into the hands of his subjects. Not only according to medieval traditions is he proprietor-commandant of the French and of France, but again, according to the theory of the jurists, he is, like Caesar, the sole and perpetual representative of the nation, and, according to the theological doctrine, like David, the sacred and special delegate of God himself. It would be astonishing, if, with all these titles, he did not consider the public revenue as his personal revenue, and if, in many cases, he did not act accordingly. Our point of view, in this matter, is so essentially opposed to his, we can scarcely put ourselves in his place; but at that time his point of view was everybody’s point of view. It seemed, then, as strange to meddle with the king’s business as to meddle with that of a private person. Only at the end of the year 1788 the famous salon of the Palais-Royal “with boldness and unimaginable folly, asserts that in a true monarchy the revenues of the State should not be at the sovereign’s disposition; that he should be granted merely a sum sufficient to defray the expenses of his establishment, of his donations, and for favors to his servants as well as for his pleasures, while the surplus should be deposited in the royal treasury to be devoted only to purposes sanctioned by the National Assembly. To reduce the sovereign to a civil list, to seize nine-tenths of his income, to forbid him cash on demand, what
To properly understand the history of our kings, let the fundamental principle be always recognized that France is their land, a farm transmitted from father to son, at first small, then slowly enlarged, and, at last, prodigiously enlarged, because the proprietor, always alert, has found means to make favorable additions to it at the expense of his neighbors; at the end of eight hundred years it comprises about 27,000 square leagues of territory. His interests and his vanity harmonize, certainly, in several areas with public welfare; he is, all in all, not a poor administrator, and, since he has always expanded his territory, he has done better than many others. Moreover, around him, a number of expert individuals, old family councilors, withdrawn from business and devoted to the domain, with good heads an gray beards, respectfully remonstrate with him when he spends too freely; they often interest him in public improvements, in roads, canals, homes for the invalids, military schools, scientific institutions and charity workshops; in the control of trust-funds and foundations, in the tolerance of heretics, in the postponement of monastic vows to the age of twenty-one, in provincial assemblies, and in other reforms by which a feudal domain becomes transformed into a modern domain. Nevertheless, the country, feudal or modern, remains his property, which he can abuse as well as use; however, whoever uses with full sway ends by abusing with full license. If, in his ordinary conduct, personal motives do not prevail over public motives, he might be a saint like Louis IX, a stoic like Marcus Aurelius, while remaining a seignior, a man of the world like the people of his court, yet more badly brought up, worse surrounded, more solicited, more tempted and more blindfolded. At the very least he has, like them, his own vanity, his own tastes, his own relatives, his mistress, his wife, his friends, all intimate and influential solicitors who must first be satisfied, while the nation only comes after them. — The result is, that, for a hundred years, from 1672 to 1774, whenever he makes war it is through wounded pride, through family interest, through calculation of private advantages, or to gratify
“Your Majesty knows better than myself, that, according to immemorial custom, three-fourths of the places honors and pensions are awarded not on account of services but out of favor and through influence. This favor was originally prompted by birth, alliance and fortune; the fact is that it nearly always is based on patronage and intrigue. This procedure is so well established, that is respected as a sort of justice even by those who suffer the most from it. A man of worth not able to dazzle by his court alliances, nor through a brilliant expenditure, would not dare to demand a regiment, however ancient and illustrious his services, or his birth. Twenty years ago, the sons of dukes and ministers, of people attached to the court, of the relations and protégés of mistresses, became colonels at the age of sixteen. M. de Choiseul caused loud complaints on extending this age to twenty-three years. But to compensate favoritism and absolutism he assigned to the pure grace of the king, or rather to that of his ministers, the appointment to the grades of lieutenant-colonel and major which, until that time, belonged of right to priority of services in the government; also the commands of provinces and of towns. You are aware that these places have been largely multiplied, and that they are bestowed through favor and credit, like the regiments. The cordon bleu and the cordon rouge are in the like position, and abbeys are still more constantly subject to the régime of influence. As to positions in the finances, I dare not allude to them. Appointments in the judiciary are the most conditioned by services rendered; and yet how much do not influence and recommendation affect the nomination of intendants, first presidents” and the others?
Necker, entering on his duties, finds twenty-eight millions in pensions paid from the royal treasury, and, at his fall, there is an outflow of money showered by millions on the people of the court. Even during his term of office the king allows himself to make the fortunes of his wife’s friends of both sexes; the Countess de Polignac obtains 400,000 francs to pay her debts, 100,000 francs dowry for her daughter, and, besides, for herself, the promise of an estate of 35,000 livres income, and, for her lover, the Count de Vaudreil, a pension of 30,000 livres; the Princess de Lamballe obtains 100,000 crowns per annum, as much for the post of superintendent of the queen’s household, which is revived on her behalf, as for a position for her brother. The king is reproached for his parsimony; why should he be sparing of his purse? Started on a course not his own, he gives, buys, builds, and exchanges; he assists those belonging to his own society, doing everything in a style becoming to a grand seignior, that is to say, throwing money away by handfuls.One instance enables us to judge of this: in order to assist the bankrupt Guéménée family, he purchases of them three estates for about 12,500,000 livres, which they had just purchased for 4,000,000; moreover, in exchange for two domains in Brittany, which produce 33,758 livres income, he makes over to them the principality of Dombes which produces nearly 70,000 livres income. — When we come to read the Red Book further on we shall find 700,000 livres of pensions for the Polignac family, most of them revertible from one member to another, and nearly 2,000,000 of annual benefits to the Noailles family. — The king has forgotten that his favors are mortal blows, “the courtier who obtains 6,000 livres pension, receiving the taille of six villages." Each largess of the monarch, considering the state of the taxes, is based on the privation of the peasants, the sovereign, through his clerks, taking bread from the poor to give coaches to the rich. — The center of the government, in short, is the center of the evil; all the wrongs and all the miseries start from it as from the center of pain and inflammation; here it is that the public abscess comes to the head, and here will it break.
Such is the just and fatal effect of privileges turned to selfish purposes instead of being exercised for the advantage of others. To him who utters the word, “Sire or Seignior” stands for the protector who feeds, the ancient who leads." With such a title and for this purpose too much cannot be granted to him, for there is no more difficult or more exalted post. But he must fulfill its duties; otherwise in the day of peril he will be left to himself. Already, and long before the day arrives, his flock is no longer his own; if it marches onward it is through routine; it is simply a multitude
. “Rapport de l’agence du clergé,” from 1775 to 1780, pp. 31- 34. — Ibid. from 1780 to 1785, p. 237.
. Lanfrey, “L’Eglise et les philosophes,” passim.
. Boiteau, “Etat de la France en 1789,” pp. 205, 207. — D’Argenson “Mémoires,” May 5, 1752, September 3, 22, 25, 1753; October 17, 1753, and October 26, 1775. — Prudhomme, “Résumé général des cahiers des Etats-Généraux,” 1789, (Registers of the Clergy).— “Histoire des églises du désert,” par Charles Coquerel, I. 151 and those following.
. De Ségur, “Mémoires,” vol. I. pp. 16, 41. — De Bouillé, “Mémoires,” p. 54. — Mme. Campan, “Mémoires,” V. I. p. 237, proofs in detail.
. Somewhat like the socialist societies including the welfare states where a caste of public pensionaries, functionaries, civil servants and politicians weigh like a heavy burden on those who actually do the work.. (Sr.)
. An antechamber in the palace of Versailles in which there was a round or bull’s-eye window, where courtiers assembled to await the opening of the door into the king’s apartment. — Tr.
. “La France ecclésiastique,” 1788.
. Grannier de Cassagnac, “Des causes de la Rèvolution Française,” III. 58.
. Marmontel, “Mémoires,” . II. book XIII. p. 221.
. Boiteau, “Etat de la France en 1789,” pp. 55, 248. — D’Argenson, “Considérations sur le gouvermement de la France,” p. 177. De Luynes, “Journal,” XIII. 226, XIV. 287, XIII. 33, 158, 162, 118, 233, 237, XV. 268, XVI. 304. — The government of Ham is worth 11,250 livres, that of Auxerre 12,000, that of Briançon 12,000, that of the islands of Ste. Marguerite 16,000 , that of Schelestadt 15,000, that of Brisach from 15 to 16,000 , that of Gravelines 18,000. — The ordinance of 1776 had reduced these various places as follows: (Warroquier, II, 467). 18 general governments to 60,000 livres, 21 to 30,000; 114 special governments; 25 to 12,000 livres, 25 to 10,000 and 64 to 8,000; 176 lieutenants and commandants of towns, places, etc., of which 35 were reduced to 16,600 and 141 from 2,000 to 6,000. — The ordinance of 1788 established, besides these, 17 commands in chief with from 20,000 to 30,000 livres fixed salary and from 4,000 to 6,000 a month for residence, and commands of a secondary grade.
. Somewhat like a minister of culture in one of our western Welfare Social democracies, and which secures the support for the ruling class of a horde of “artists” of all sorts. (Sr.)
. Archives nationales, H, 944, April 25, and September 20, 1780. Letters and Memoirs of Furgole, advocate at Toulouse.
. Archives nationales, O1, 738 (Reports made to the bureau-general of the king’s household, March, 1780, by M. Mesnard de Chousy). Augeard, “Mémoires,” 97. — Mme. Campan, “Mémoires,” I. 291. — D’Argenson, “Mémoires,” February 10, December 9, 1751, — “Essai sur les capitaineries royales et autres” (1789), p. 80. — Warroquier, “Etat de la France en 1789,” I. 266.
. “Marie Antoinette,” by D’Arneth and Geffroy, II. 377.
. 1 crown (écu) equals 6 livres under Louis XV. (Sr.)
. Mme. Campan, “Mémoires,” I. 296, 298, 300, 301; III. 78. — Hippeau, “Le Gouvernement de Normandie,” IV. 171 (Letter from Paris, December 13, 1780). — D’Argenson, “Mémoires,” September 5, 1755. — Bachaumont, January 19, 1758. — “Mémoire sur l’imposition territoriale,” by M. de Calonne (1787), p. 54.
. D’Argenson, “Mémoires,” December 9, 1751. “The expense to courtiers of two new and magnificent coats, each for two fête days, ordered by the king, completely ruins them.”
. De Luynes, “Journal,” XIV. pp. 147-295, XV. 36, 119. — D’Argenson, “Mémoires,” April 8, 1752, March 30 and July 28, 1753, July 2, 1735, June 23, 1756. — Hippeau, ibid.. IV. p. 153 (Letter of May 15, 1780). — Necker, “De l’Administration des Finances,” II. pp. 265, 269, 270, 271, 228. — Augeard, “Mémoires,” p 249.
. Nicolardot, “Journal de Louis XVI.,” p. 228. Appropriations in the Red Book of 1774 to 1789: 227,985,716 livres, of which 80,000,000 are in acquisitions and gifts to the royal family. — Among others there are 14,600,000 to the Comte d’Artois and 14,450,000 to Monsieur. — 7,726,253 are given to the Queen for Saint-Cloud. — 8,70,000 for the acquisition of Ile-Adam.
. Cf . “Compte général des revenus et dépenses fixes au 1er Mai, 1789” (Imprimerie royale, 1789, in 4to). Estate of Ile-Dieu, acquired in 1783 of the Duc de Mortemart, 1,000,000; estate of Viviers, acquired of the Prince de Soubise in 1784, 1,500,000. — Estates of St. Priest and of St. Etienne, acquired in 1787 of M. Gilbert des Voisins, 1,335,935. — The forests of Camors and of Floranges, acquired of the Duc de Liancourt in 1785, 1,200,000. — The county of Montgommery, acquired of M. Clement de Basville in 1785, 3,306,604.
. “Le President des Brosses,” by Foisset. (Remonstrances to the king by the Parliament of Dijon, Jan. 19, 1764).
. Lucas de Montigny, “Mémoires de Mirabeau.” Letter of the bailiff, May 26, 1781. — D’Argenson, “Mémoires,” VI. 156, 157, 160, 76; VI. p. 320. — Marshal Marmont, “Mémoires,” I. 9. — De Ferrières, “Mémoires,” preface. See, on the difficulty in succeeding, the Memoirs of Dumourier. Châteaubriand’s father is likewise one of the discontented, “a political frondeur, and very inimical to the court.” (I. 206). — Records of the States-General of 1789, a general summary by Prud’homme, II. passim.
. “Ephémérides du citoyen,” II. 202, 203. — Voltaire, “Dictionnaire philosophique,” article “Curé de Campagne.” — Abbé Guettée, “Histoire de l’Eglise de France,” XII. 130.
. Those entitled to tithes in cereals.- Tr.
. A curate’s salary at the present day (1875) is, at the minimum, 900 francs with a house and perquisites.
. Théron de Montaugé, “L’Agriculture les classes rurale, dans le pays Toulousain,” p. 86.
. Périn, “la Jeunesse de Robespierre,” grievances of the rural parishes of Artois, p. 320.— Boivin-Champeaux, ibid.. pp. 65, 68. — Hippeau, ibid.. VI. p. 79, et VII. 177. — Letter of M. Sergent, curate of Vallers, January 27, 1790. (Archives nationales, DXIX. portfolio 24.) Letter of M. Briscard, curate of Beaumont-la-Roger, diocese of Evreux, December 19, 1789. (ibid.. DXIX. portfolio 6.) “Tableau moral du clergé de France” (1789), p. 2.
. He who has the right of receiving the first year’s income of a parish church after a vacancy caused by death.- Tr.
. One who performs masses for the dead at fixed epochs.- Tr.
. Grievances on the additional burdens which the Third-Estate have to support, by Gautier de Bianzat (1788), p 237.
. Hippeau, ibid. VI. 164. (Letter of the Curate of Marolles and of thirteen others,. Letter of the bishop of Evreux, March 20, 1789. Letter of the abbé d’Osmond, April 2, 1789). — Archives nationales, manuscript documents (proces-verbeaux) of the States-General, V. 148. pp. 245-47. Registers of the curates of Toulouse, t. 150, p. 282, in the representations of the Dijon chapter.
. De Toqueville, book II. This capital truth as been established by M. de Tocqueville with superior discernment.
. A term indicating a certain division of the kingdom of France to facilitate the collection of taxes. Each generalship was subdivided into elections, in which there was a tribunal called the bureau of finances. (Tr.)
. Remonstrances of Malesherbes; Registers by Turgot and Necker to the king, (Laboulaye, “De l’administration française sous Louis XVI, Revue des cours littéraires, IV. 423, 759, 814.)
. Financiers have been known to tell citizens: “The ferme ( revenue-agency) ought to be able to grant you favors, you ought to be forced to come and ask for them. — He who pays never knows what he owes. The fermier is sovereign legislator in matters relating to his personal interest. Every petition, in which the interests of a province, or those of the whole nation are concerned, is regarded as penal foolhardiness if it is signed by a person in his private capacity, and as illicit association if it be signed by several.” Malesherbes, ibid..
. Mme. Campan, “Mémoires,” I. p. 13. — Mme. du Hausset, “Mémoires,” p. 114.
. “Gustave III. et la cour de France,” by Geffroy. II. 474. ("Archives de Dresde,” French Correspondence, November 20, 1788.)
. Augeard, “Mémoires,” p. 135.
. Mme. de Pompadour, writing to Marshal d’Estrées, in the army, about the campaign operations, and tracing for him a sort of plan, had marked on the paper with mouches (face-patches), the different places which she advised him to attack or defend.” Mme. de Genlis, “Souvenirs de Félicie,” p. 329. Narrative by Mme. de Puisieux, the mother-in-law of Marshal d’Estrées.
. According to the manuscript register of Mme. de Pompadour’s expenses, in the archives of the préfecture of Versailles, she had expended 36,327,268 livres. (Granier de Cassagnac, I. 91.)
. D’Argenson, “Mémoires,” VI. 398 (April 24, 1751). — “M. du Barry declared openly that he had consumed 18,000,000 belonging to the State.” (Correspondence by Métra, I. 27).
. “Marie Antoinette,” by d’Arneth and Geffroy, vol. II. p. 168 (June 5, 1774).
. “Marie Antoinette,” ibid.. vol. II. p. 377; vol. III. p. 391.
. Archives nationales, H, 1456, Memoir for M. Bouret de Vezelay, syndic for the creditors.
. Marquis de Mirabeau, “Traité de la population,” p. 81.
 Today, our so-called popular democracies have become completely irresponsible since the elected, who have full access to the coffers of the nation, present and future, and who, through alternation and short duration of tenure, are encouraged to become irresponsible, will use large amounts to be favorably exposed in the media and to avoid any kind of mudslinging. They seem to govern their countries according to the devise: “After me the deluge.” (Sr.)
. Lord, in Old Saxon, signifies “he who provides food;” seignior, in the Latin of the middle ages, signifies “the ancient,” the head or chief of the flock.
. Around 1780. (Sr.)
The Court and a life of pomp and parade.
A military staff on furlough for a century and more, around a commander-in-chief who gives fashionable entertainment, is the principle and summary of the habits of society under the ancient régime. Hence, if we seek to comprehend them we must first study them at their center and their source, that is to say, in the court itself. Like the whole ancient régime the court is the empty form, the surviving adornment of a military institution, the causes of which have disappeared while the effects remain, custom surviving utility. Formerly, in the early times of feudalism, in the companionship and simplicity of the camp and the castle, the nobles served the king with their own hands. One providing for his house, another bringing a dish to his table, another disrobing him at night, and another looking after his falcons and horses. Still later, under Richelieu and during the Fronde, amid the sudden attacks and the rude exigencies of constant danger they constitute the garrison of his lodgings, forming an armed escort for him, and a retinue of ever-ready swordsmen. Now as formerly they are equally assiduous around his person, wearing their swords, awaiting a word, and eager to his bidding, while those of highest rank seemingly perform domestic service in his household. Pompous parade, however, has been substituted for efficient service; they are elegant adornments only and no longer useful tools; they act along with the king who is himself an actor, their persons serving as royal decoration.
The Physical aspect and the moral character of Versailles.
It must be admitted that the decoration is successful, and, that since the fêtes of the Italian Renaissance, more magnificent displays have not been seen. Let us follow the file of carriages which, from Paris to Versailles, rolls steadily along like a river. Certain horses called “des enragés,” fed in a particular way, go and come in three hours. One feels, at the first glance, as if he were in a city of a particular stamp, suddenly erected and at one stroke, like a prize-medal for a special purpose, of which only one is made, its form being a thing apart, as well as its origin and use. In vain is it one of the largest cities of the kingdom, with its population of 80,000 souls; it is filled, peopled, and occupied by the life of a single man; it is simply a royal residence, arranged entirely to provide for the wants, the pleasures, the service, the guardianship,
A drawing room like this calls for proportionate dependencies; the hotels and buildings at Versailles devoted to the private service of the king and his attendants count by hundreds. No human existence since that of the Caesars has so spread itself out in the sunshine. In the Rue des Reservoirs we have the old hotel and the new one of the governor of Versailles, the hotel of the tutor to the children of the Comte d’Artois, the ward-robe of the crown, the building for the dressing-rooms and green-rooms of the actors who perform at the palace, with the stables belonging to Monsieur. — In the Rue des Bon-Enfants are the hotel of the keeper of the wardrobe, the lodgings for the fountain-men, the hotel of the officers of the Comtesse de Provence. In the Rue de la Pompe, the hotel of the grand-provost, the Duke of Orleans’s stables, the hotel of the Comte d’Artois’s guardsmen, the queen’s stables, the pavilion des Sources. — In the Rue Satory the Comtesse d’Artois’s stables, Monsieur’s English garden, the king’s ice-houses, the riding-hall of the king’s light-horse-guards, the garden belonging to the hotel of the treasurers of the buildings. — Judge of other streets by these four.
II. The King’s Household.
Its officials and expenses. — His military family, his stable, kennel, chapel, attendants, table, chamber, wardrobe, outhouses, furniture, journeys.
The foregoing is but the framework; before 1789 it was completely filled up. “You have seen nothing,” says Châteaubriand, “if you have not seen the pomp of Versailles, even after the disbanding of the king’s household; Louis XIV was always there." It is a swarm of liveries, uniforms, costumes and equipages as brilliant and as varied as in a picture. I should be glad to have lived eight days in this society. It was made expressly to be painted, being specially designed for the pleasure of the eye, like an operatic scene. But how can we of to day imagine people for whom life was wholly operatic? At that time a grandee was obliged to live in great state; his retinue and his trappings formed a part of his personality; he fails in doing himself justice if these are not as ample and as splendid as he can make them; he would be as much mortified at any blank in his household as we with a hole in our coats. Should he make any curtailment he would decline in reputation; on Louis XVI undertaking reforms the court says that he acts like a bourgeois. When a prince or princess becomes of age a household is formed for them; when a prince marries, a household is formed for his wife; and by a household it must be understood that it is a pompous display of fifteen or twenty distinct services: stables, a hunting-train, a chapel, a surgery, the bedchamber and the wardrobe, a chamber for accounts, a table, pantry, kitchen, and wine-cellars, a fruitery, a fourrière, a common kitchen, a cabinet, a council; she would feel that she was not a princess without all this. There are 274 appointments in the household of the Duc d’Orléans, 210 in that of Mesdames, 68 in that of Madame Elisabeth,
The king must have guards, infantry, cavalry, body-guards, French guardsmen, Swiss guardsmen, Cent Suisses, light-horse guards, gendarmes of the guard, gate-guardsmen, in all, 9,050 men, costing annually 7,681,000 livres. Four companies of the French guard, and two of the Swiss guard, parade every day in the court of the ministers between the two railings, and when the king issues in his carriage to go to Paris or Fontainebleau the spectacle is magnificent. Four trumpeters in front and four behind, the Swiss guards on one side and the French guards on the other, form a line as far as it can reach. The Cent Suisses march ahead of the horsemen in the costume of the sixteenth century, wearing the halberd, ruff, plumed hat, and the ample parti-colored striped doublet; alongside of these are the provost-guard with scarlet facings and gold frogs, and companies of yeomanry bristling with gold and silver. The officers of the various corps, the trumpeters and the musicians, covered with gold and silver lace, are dazzling to look at; the kettledrum suspended at the saddle-bow, overcharged with painted and gilded ornaments, is a curiosity for a glass case; the Negro cymbal-player of the French guards resembles the sultan of a fairy-tale. Behind the carriage and alongside of it trot the body-guards, with sword and carbine, wearing red breeches, high black boots, and a blue coat sewn with white embroidery, all of them unquestionable gentlemen; there were twelve hundred of these selected among the nobles and according to size; among them are the guards de la manche, still more intimate, who at church and on ceremonial occasions, in white doublets starred with silver and gold spangles, holding their damascene partisans in their hands, always remain standing and turned towards the king “so
There are three sections of the table service; the first for the king and his younger children; the second, called the little ordinary, for the table of the grand-master, the grand-chamberlain and the princes and princesses living with the king; the third, called the great ordinary, for the grand-master’s second table, that of the butlers of the king’s household, the almoners, the gentlemen in waiting, and that of the valets-de-chambre, in all three hundred and eighty-three officers of the table and one hundred and three waiters, at an expense of 2,177,771 livres; besides this there are 389,173 livres appropriated to the table of Madame Elisabeth, and 1,093,547 livres for that of Mesdames, the total being 3,660,491 livres for the table. The wine-merchant furnished wine to the amount of 300,000 francs per annum, and the purveyor game, meat and fish at a cost of 1,000,000 livres. Only to fetch water from Ville-d’Avray, and to convey servants, waiters and provisions, required fifty horses hired at the rate of 70,591 francs per
One step more and we enter the sanctuary, the king’s apartment. Two principal dignitaries preside over this, and each has under him about a hundred subordinates. On one side is the grand chamberlain with his first gentlemen of the bedchamber, the pages of the bedchamber, their governors and instructors, the ushers of the antechamber, with the four first valets-de-chambre in ordinary, sixteen special valets serving in turn, his regular and special cloak-bearers, his barbers, upholsterers, watch-menders, waiters and porters; on the other hand is the grand-master of the wardrobe, with the masters of the wardrobe and the valets of the wardrobe regular and special, the ordinary trunk-carriers, mail-bearers, tailors, laundry servants, starchers, and common waiters, with the gentlemen, officers and secretaries in ordinary of the cabinet, in all 198 persons for domestic service, like 50 many domestic utensils for every personal want, or as sumptuous pieces of furniture for the decoration of the apartment. Some of them fetch the mall and the balls, others hold the mantle and cane, others comb the king’s hair and dry him off after a bath, others drive the mules which transport his bed, others watch his pet greyhounds in his room, others fold, put on and tie his cravat, and others fetch and carry off his easy chair. Some there are whose sole business it is to fill a corner which must not be left empty. Certainly, with respect to ease of deportment and appearance these are the most conspicuous of all; being so close to the master they are under obligation to appear well; in such proximity their bearing must not create a discord. — Such is the king’s household, and I have only described one of his residences; he has a dozen of them besides Versailles, great and small, Marly, the two Trianons, la Muette, Meudon, Choisy, Saint-Hubert, Saint-Germain, Fontainebleau, Compiègne, Saint-Cloud, Rambouillet, without counting the Louvre, the Tuileries and Chambord, with their parks
III. The king’s associates.
The society of the king. — Officers of the household. — Invited guests.
Two causes maintain this affluence, one the feudal form still preserved, and the other the new centralization just introduced; one placing the royal service in the hands of the nobles, and the other converting the nobles into place-hunters. — Through the duties of the palace the highest nobility live with the king, residing under his roof; the grand-almoner is M. de Montmorency-Laval, bishop of Metz; the first almoner is M. de Bussuéjouls, bishop of Senlis; the grand-master of France is the Prince de Condé; the first royal butier is the Comte d’Escars; the second is the Marquis de Montdragon; the master of the pantry is the Duke de Brissac; the chief cup-bearer is the Marquis de Vemeuil; the chief carver is the Marquis de la Chesnaye; the first gentlemen of the bedchamber are the Ducs de Richelieu, de Durfort, de Villequier, and de Fleury; the grand-master of the wardrobe is the Duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt; the masters of the wardrobe are the Comte de Boisgelin and the Marquis de Chauvelin. The captain of the falconry is the Chevalier du Forget; the captain of the boar-hunt is the Marquis d’Ecquevilly; the superintendent of edifices is the Comte d’Angevillier; the grand-equerry is the Prince de Lambesc; the master of the hounds is the Duc de Penthièvre; the grand-master of ceremonies is the Marquis de Brèze; the grand-master of the household is the Marquis de la Suze; the captains of the guards are the Ducs d’Agen, de Villery, de Brissac, d’Aguillon, and de Biron, the Princes de Poix, de Luxembourg and de Soubise. The provost of the hotel is the Marquis de Tourzel; the governors of the residences and captains of the chase are the Duc de Noailles, Marquis de Champcenetz, Baron de Champlost, Duc de Coigny, Comte de Modena, Comte de Montmorin, Duc de Laval, Comte de Brienne, Duc d’Orléans, and the Duc de Gèsvres. All these seigniors are the king’s necessary intimates, his permanent and generally hereditary guests, dwelling under his roof; in close and daily intercourse with him, for they are “his folks” (gens) and perform domestic service about his person. Add to these their equals, as noble and nearly as numerous, dwelling with the queen, with Mesdames, with Mme. Elisabeth, with the Comte and Comtesse de Provence and the Comte and Comtesse d’Artois. — And these are only the heads of the service; if; below them in rank and office, I count the titular nobles, I find, among others, 68 almoners or chaplains, 170 gentlemen of the bedchamber or in waiting, 117 gentlemen of the stable or of the hunting-train, 148 pages, 114 titled ladies in waiting, besides all the officers, even to the lowest of the military household, without counting 1,400 ordinary guards who, verified by the genealogist, are admitted by virtue of their title to pay their court. Such is the fixed body of recruits for the royal receptions; the distinctive trait of this régime is the conversion of its servants into guests, the drawing room being filled from the anteroom.
Not that the drawing room needs all that to be filled. Being the source of all preferment and of every favor, it is natural that it should overflow. It is the same in our leveling society (in 1875), where the drawing room of an insignificant deputy, a mediocre journalist, or a fashionable woman, is full of courtiers under the name of friends and visitors. Moreover, here, to be present is an obligation; it might be called a continuation of ancient feudal homage; the staff of nobles is maintained as the retinue of its born general. In the language of the day, it is called “paying one’s duty to the king.” Absence, in the sovereign’s eyes, would be a sign of independence as well as of indifference, while submission as well as regular attention is his due. In this respect we must study the institution from the beginning. The eyes of Louis XIV go their rounds at every moment, “on arising or retiring, on passing into his apartments, in his gardens, . . . nobody escapes, even those who hoped they were not seen; it was a demerit with some, and the most distinguished, not to make the court their ordinary sojourn, to others to come to it but seldom, and certain disgrace to those who never, or nearly never, came." Henceforth, the main thing, for the first personages in the kingdom, men and women, ecclesiastics and laymen, the grand affair, the first duty in life, the true occupation, is to be at all hours and in every place under the king’s eye, within reach of his voice and of his glance. “Whoever,” says La Bruyère, “considers that the king’s countenance is the courtier’s supreme felicity, that he passes his life looking on it and within sight of it, will comprehend to some extent how to see God constitutes the glory and happiness of the saints.” There were at this time prodigies of voluntary assiduity and subjection. The Duc de Fronsac, every morning at seven o’clock, in winter and in summer, stationed himself, at his father’s command, at the foot of the small stairway leading to the chapel, solely to shake hands with Mme. de Maintenon on her leaving for St. Cyr. “Pardon me, Madame,” writes the Duc de Richelieu to her, “the great liberty I take in presuming to send you the letter which I have written to the king, begging him on my knees that he will occasionally allow me to pay my court to him at Ruel, for I would rather die than pass two months without seeing him.” The true courtier follows the prince as a shadow follows its body; such, under Louis XIV, was the Duc de la Rochefoucauld, the master of the hounds. “He never missed the king’s rising or retiring, both changes of dress every day, the hunts and the promenades, likewise every day, for ten years in succession, never sleeping away from the place where the king rested, and yet on a footing to demand leave, but not to stay away all night, for he had not slept out of Paris once in forty years, but to go and dine away from the court, and not be present on the promenade.”
“At what hour will Monseigneur be awakened?” “At ten o’clock, if no one dies during the night."
Old courtiers are still found who, “at the age of eighty, have passed forty-five on their feet in the antechambers of the king, of the princes, and of the ministers. . .
You have only three things to do,” says one of them to a debutant, “speak well of everybody, ask for every vacancy, and sit down when you can.”
Hence, the king always has a crowd around him. The Comtesse du Barry says, on presenting her niece at court, the first of August, 1773, “the crowd is so great at a presentation, one can scarcely get through the antechambers." In December, 1774, at Fontainebleau, when the queen plays at her own table every evening, “the apartment, though vast, is never empty. . . . The crowd is so great that one can talk only to the two or three persons with whom one is playing.” The fourteen apartments, at the receptions of ambassadors are full to overflowing with seigniors and richly dressed women. On the first of January, 1775, the queen “counted over two hundred ladies presented to her to pay their court. " In 1780, at Choisy, a table for thirty persons is spread every day for the king, another with thirty places for the seigniors, another with forty places for the officers of the guard and the equerries, and one with fifty for the officers of the bedchamber. According to my estimate, the king, on getting up and on retiring, on his walks, on his hunts, at play, has always around him at least forty or fifty seigniors and generally a hundred, with as many ladies, besides his attendants on duty. At Fontainebleau, in 1756, although “there were neither fêtes nor ballets this year, one hundred and six ladies were counted.” When the king holds a “grand
IV. Everyday life in court.
The king’s occupations. — Rising in the morning, mass, dinner, walks, hunting, supper, play, evening receptions. — He is always on parade and in company.
An operation of this kind absorbs him who undertakes it as well as those who undergo it. A nobility for useful purposes is not transformed with impunity into a nobility for ornament; one falls himself into the ostentation which is substituted for action. The king has a court which he is compelled to maintain. So much the worse if it absorbs all his time, his intellect, his soul, the most valuable portion of his active forces and the forces of the State. To be the master of a house is not an easy task, especially when five hundred persons are to be entertained; one must necessarily pass one’s life in public and all the time being on exhibition. Strictly speaking it is the life of an actor who is on the stage the entire day. To support this load, and work besides, required the temperament of Louis XIV, the vigor of his body, the extraordinary firmness of his nerves, the strength of his digestion, and the regularity of his habits; his successors who come after him grow weary or stagger under the same load. But they cannot throw it off; an incessant, daily performance is inseparable from their position and it is imposed on them like a heavy, gilded, ceremonial coat. The king is expected to keep the entire aristocracy busy, consequently to make a display of himself, to pay back with his own person, at all hours, even the most private, even on getting out of bed, and even in his bed. In the morning, at the hour named by himself beforehand, the head valet awakens him; five series of persons enter in turn to perform their duty, and, “although very large, there are days when the waiting-rooms can hardly contain the crowd of courtiers.” — The first admittance is “l’entrée familière,” consisting of the children of France, the princes and princesses of the blood, and, besides these, the chief physician, the chief surgeon and other serviceable persons. Next, comes the “grande entrée;’ which comprises the grand-chamberlain, the grand-master and master of the wardrobe, the first gentlemen of the bedchamber, the Ducs d’Orleans and de Penthièvre, some other highly favored seigniors, the ladies of honor and in waiting of the queen, Mesdames and other princesses, without enumerating barbers tailors and various descriptions of valets. Meanwhile spirits of wine are poured on the king’s hands from a service of plate, and he is then handed the basin of holy water; he crosses himself and repeats a prayer. Then he gets out of bed before all these people and puts on his slippers. The grand-chamberlain and the first gentleman hand him his dressing-gown; he puts this on and seats himself in the chair in which he is to put on his clothes. At this moment the door opens and a third group enters, which is the “entrée des brevets;” the seigniors who compose this enjoy, in addition, the precious privilege of assisting at the “petite coucher,” while, at the same moment there enters a detachment of attendants, consisting of the physicians and surgeons
Such is the lever, a piece in five acts. — Nothing could be contrived better calculated to fill up the void of an aristocratic life ; a hundred or thereabouts of notable seigniors dispose of a couple of hours in coming, in waiting, in entering, in defiling, in taking positions, in standing on their feet, in maintaining an air of respect and of ease suitable to a superior class of walking gentlemen, while those best qualified are about to do the same thing over in the queen’s apartment.  — The king, however, as an indirect consequence, suffers the same torture and the same inaction as he imposes. He also is playing a part; all his steps and all his gestures have been determined beforehand; he has been obliged to arrange his physiognomy and his voice, never to depart from an affable and dignified air, to award judiciously his glances and his nods, to keep silent or to speak only of the chase, and to suppress his own thoughts, if he has any. One cannot indulge in reverie, meditate or be absent-minded when one is before the footlights; the part must have due attention. Besides, in a drawing room there is only drawing room conversation, and the master’s thoughts, instead of being directed in a profitable channel, must be scattered about like the holy water of the court. All hours of his day are passed in a similar manner, except three or four during the morning, during which he is at the council or in his private room; it must be noted, too, that on the days after his hunts, on returning home from Rambouillet at three o’clock in the morning, he must sleep the few hours he has left to him. The ambassador Mercy, nevertheless, a man of close application, seems to think it sufficient; he, at least, thinks that “Louis XVI is a man of order, losing no time in useless things;” his predecessor, indeed, worked much less, scarcely an hour a day. Three-quarters of his time is thus given up to show. The same retinue surrounds him when he puts on his boots, when he takes them off; when he changes his clothes to mount his horse, when he returns home to dress for the evening, and when he goes to his room at night
V. Royal distractions.
Diversions of the royal family and of the court.-
Louis XV. — Louis
In short, what is the occupation of a well-qualified master of a house? He amuses himself and he amuses his guests; under his roof a new pleasure-party comes off daily. Let us enumerate those of a week. “Yesterday, Sunday,” says the Duc de Luynes, “I met the king going to hunt on the plain of St. Denis, having slept at la Muette, where he intends to remain shooting to day and to-morrow, and to return here on Tuesday or Wednesday morning, to run down a stag the same day, Wednesday." Two months after this, “the king,” again says M. de Luynes, “has been hunting every day of the past and of the present week, except to day and on Sundays, killing, since the beginning, 3,500 partridges.” He is always on the road, or hunting, or passing from one residence to another, from Versailles to Fontainebleau, to Choisy, to Marly, to la Muette, to Compiègne, to Trianon, to Saint-Hubert, to Bellevue, to Rambouillet, and, generally, with his entire court. At Choisy, especially, and at Fontainebleau this company all lead a merry life. At Fontainebleau “Sunday and Friday, play; Monday and Wednesday, a concert in the queen’s apartments; Tuesday and Thursday, the French comedians; and Saturday it is the Italians;” there is something for every day in the week. At Choisy, writes the Dauphine, “from one o’clock (in the afternoon) when we dine, to one o’clock at night we remain out. . . After dining we play until six o’clock, after which we go to the theater, which lasts until half-past nine o’clock, and next, to supper; after this, play again, until one, and sometimes half-past one, o’clock.” At Versailles things are more moderate; there are but two theatrical entertainments and one ball a week; but every evening there is play and a reception in the king’s apartment, in his daughters’, in his mistress’s, in his daughter-in-law’s, besides hunts and three petty excursions a week. Records show that, in a certain year, Louis XV slept only fifty-two nights at Versailles, while the Austrian Ambassador well says that “his mode of living leaves him not an hour in the day for attention to important matters.” — As to Louis XVI, we have seen that he reserves a few hours of the morning; but the machine is wound up, and go it must. How can he withdraw himself from his guests and not do the honors of his house? Here propriety and custom are tyrants and a third despotism must be added, still more absolute: the imperious vivacity of a lively young queen who cannot endure an hour’s reading. — At Versailles, three theatrical entertainments and two balls a week, two grand suppers Tuesday and Thursday, and from time to time, the opera in Paris. At Fontainebleau, the theater three times a week, and on other days, play and suppers. During the following winter the queen gives a masked ball each week, in which “the contrivance of the costumes, the quadrilles
July 11, 1789, nothing; M. Necker leaves.
July 12th vespers and benediction; Messieurs de Montmorin,
Saint-Priest and de la Luzerne leave.
July 13th , nothing.
July 14th , nothing.
July 29th, nothing; M. Necker returns.....
August 4th, stag-hunt in the forest at Marly; took one; go and come on horseback.
August 13th, audience of the States in the gallery; Te Deum during the mass below; one stag taken in the hunt at Marly. . .
August 25th, complimentary audience of the States; high mass with the cordons bleus; M. Bailly sworn in; vespers and benediction; state dinner....
October 5th, shooting near Chatillon; killed 81 head; interrupted by events; go and come on horseback.
October 6th, leave for Paris at half-past twelve; visit the Hôtel-de-Ville; sup and rest at the Tuileries.
October 7th nothing; my aunts come and dine.
October 8th, nothing . . .
October 12th, nothing; the stag hunted at Port Royal.
Shut up in Paris, held by the crowds, his heart is always with the hounds. Twenty times in 1790 we read in his journal of a stag-hunt occurring in this or that place; he regrets not being on hand. No privation is more intolerable to him; we encounter traces of his chagrin even in the formal protest he draws up before leaving for Varennes; transported to Paris, shut up in the Tuileries, “where, far from finding conveniences to which he is accustomed, he has not even enjoyed the advantages common to persons in easy circumstances,” his crown to him having apparently lost its brightest jewel.
Other similar lives. — Princes and princesses. — Seigniors of the court. — Financiers and parvenus. — Ambassadors, ministers, governors, general officers.
As is the general so is his staff; the grandees imitate their monarch. Like some costly colossal effigy in marble, erected in the center of France, and of which reduced copies are scattered by thousands throughout the provinces, thus does royal life repeat itself, in minor proportions, even among the remotest gentry. The object is to make a parade and to receive; to make a figure and to pass away time in good society. — I find, first, around the court, about a dozen princely courts. Each prince or princess of the blood royal, like the king, has his house fitted up, paid for, in whole or in part, out of the treasury, its service divided into special departments, with gentlemen, pages, and ladies in waiting, in brief, fifty, one hundred, two hundred, and even five hundred appointments. There is a household of this kind for the queen, one for Madame Victoire, one for Madame Elisabeth, one for Monsieur, one for Madame, one for the Comte d’Artois, and one for the Comtesse d’Artois. There will be one for Madame Royale, one for the little Dauphin, one for the Duc de Normandie, all three children of the king, one for the Duc d’Angoulême, one for the Duc de Berry, both sons of the Comte d’Artois: children six or seven years of age receive and make a parade of themselves. On referring to a particular date, in 1771, I find still another for the Duc d’Orléans, one for the Duc de Bourbon, one for the Duchesse, one for the Prince de Condé, one for the Comte de Clermont, one for the Princess dowager de Conti, one for the Prince de Conti, one for the Comte de la Marche, one for the Duc de Penthièvre. - Each personage, besides his or her apartment under the king’s roof has his or her chateau and palace with his or
“the officers, women and valets, amounted to sixteen. . . . When M. d’Epinay gets up his valet enters on his duties. Two lackeys stand by awaiting his orders. The first secretary enters for the purpose of giving an account of the letters received by him and which he has to open; but he is interrupted two hundred times in this business by all sorts of people imaginable. Now it is a horse-jockey with the finest horses to sell. . . . Again some saucy girl who calls to bawl out a piece of music, and on whose behalf some influence has been exerted to get her into the opera, after giving her a few lessons in good taste and teaching her what is proper in French music. This young lady has been made to wait to ascertain if I am still at home. . . . I get up and go out. Two lackeys open the folding doors to let me make it through this eye of a needle, while two servants bawl out in the ante-chamber, ‘Madame, gentlemen, Madame!’ All form a line, the gentlemen consisting of dealers in fabrics, in instruments, jewellers, hawkers, lackeys, shoeblacks, creditors, in short everything imaginable that is most ridiculous and annoying. The clock strikes twelve or one before this toilet matter is over, and the secretary, who, doubtless, knows by experience the impossibility of rendering a detailed statement of his business, hands to his master a small memorandum informing him what he must say in the assembly of fermiers.”
Indolence, disorder, debts, ceremony, the tone and ways of the patron, all seems a parody of the real thing. We are beholding the last stages of aristocracy. And yet the court of M. d’Epinay is a miniature resemblance of that of the king.
So much more essential is it that the ambassadors, ministers and general officers who represent the king should display themselves in a grandiose manner. No circumstance rendered the ancient régime so brilliant and more oppressive; in this, as in all the rest, Louis XIV is the principal originator of evil as of good. The policy which fashioned the court prescribed ostentation.
“A display of dress, table, equipages, buildings and play was made purposely to please; these afforded opportunities for entering into conversation with him. The contagion had spread from the court into the provinces and to the armies, where people of any position were esteemed only in proportion to their table and magnificence."
During the year passed by the Marshal de Belle-Isle at Frankfort, on account of the election of Charles VI, he expended 750,000 livres in journeys, transportations, festivals and dinners, in constructing a kitchen and dining-hall, and besides all this, 150,000 livres in snuff-boxes, watches and other presents; by order of Cardinal Fleury, so economical, he had in his kitchens one hundred and one officials. At Vienna, in 1772, the ambassador, the Prince de Rohan, had two carriages costing together 40,000 livres, forty horses, seven noble pages, six gentlemen, five secretaries, ten musicians, twelve footmen, and four grooms whose gorgeous liveries each cost 4,000 livres, and the rest in proportion. We are familiar with the profusion, the good taste, the exquisite dinners, and the admirable ceremonial display of the Cardinal de Bernis in Rome. “He was called the king of Rome, and indeed he was such through his magnificence and in the consideration he enjoyed. . . . His table afforded an idea of what is possible. . . In festivities, ceremonies and illuminations he was always beyond comparison.” He himself remarked, smiling, “I keep a French inn on the cross-roads of Europe." Accordingly their salaries and indemnities are two or three times more ample than at the present day. “The king gives 50,000 crowns to the great embassies. The Duc de Duras received even 200,000 livres per annum for that of Madrid, also, besides this, 100,000 crowns gratuity, 50,000 livres for secret service; and he had the loan of furniture and effects valued at 400,000 and 500,000 livres, of which he kept one-half." The outlays and salaries of the ministers are similar. In 1789, the Chancellor gets 120,080 livres salary and the Keeper of the Seals 135,000. " M. de Villedeuil, as Secretary of State, was to have had 180,670 livres, but as he represented that this sum would not cover his expenses, his salary was raised to 226,000 livres, everything included." Moreover, the rule is, that on retiring from office the king awards them a pension of 20,000 livres and gives a dowry of 200,000 livres to their daughters. This is not excessive considering the way they live. “They are obliged to maintain such state in their households, for they
VII. Provincial nobility.
Prelates, seigniors and minor provincial nobles. — The feudal aristocracy transformed into a drawing room group.
Following this pattern, and as well through the effect of temperature, we see, even in remote provinces, all aristocratic branches having a flourishing social life. Lacking other employment, the nobles exchange visits, and the chief function of a prominent seignior is to do the honors of his house creditably. This applies as well to ecclesiastics as to laymen. The one hundred and thirty-one bishops and archbishops,
Such likewise is the attitude and occupation of the principal lay seigniors, at home, in summer, when a love of the charms of fine weather brings them back to their estates. For example, Harcourt in Normandy and Brienne in Champagne are two chateaux the best frequented. “Persons of distinction resort to it from Paris, eminent men of letters, while the nobility of the canton pay there an assiduous court." There is no residence where flocks of fashionable people do not light down permanently to dine, to dance, to hunt, to gossip, to unravel, (parfiler) to play comedy. We can trace these birds from cage to cage; they remain a week, a month, three months, displaying their plumage and their prattle. From Paris to Ile-Adam, to Villers-Cotterets, to Frétoy, to Planchette, to Soissons, to Rheims, to Grisolles, to Sillery, to Braine, to Balincourt, to Vaudreuil, the Comte and Comtesse de Genlis thus bear about their leisure, their wit, their gaiety, at the domiciles of friends whom, in their turn, they entertain at Genlis. A glance at the exteriors of these mansions suffices to show that it was the chief duty in these days to be hospitable, as it was a prime necessity to be in society. Their luxury, indeed, differs from ours. With the exception of a few princely establishments it is not great in the matter of country furniture; a display of this description is left to the financiers. “But it is prodigious in all things which can minister to the enjoyment of others, in horses, carriages, and in an open table, in accommodations given even to people not belonging to the house, in boxes at the play which are lent to friends, and lastly, in servants, much more numerous than nowadays.” Through this mutual and constant attention the most rustic nobles lose the rust still encrusting their brethren in Germany or in England. We find in France few Squire Western
Thus is the feudal staff wholly transformed, from the lowest to the highest grades. Taking in at one glance its 30 or 40,000 palaces, mansions, manors and abbeys, what a brilliant and engaging scene France presents! She is one vast drawing-room, and I detect only drawing room company. Everywhere the rude chieftains once possessing authority have become the masters of households administering favors. Their society is that in which, before fully admiring a great general, the question is asked, “is he amiable?” Undoubtedly they still wear swords, and are brave through pride and tradition, and they know how to die, especially in duels and according to form. But worldly traits have hidden the ancient military groundwork; at the end of the eighteenth century their genius is to be wellbred and their employment consists in entertaining or in being entertained.
. “Mémoires de Laporte” (1632). “M. d’Epernon came to Bordeaux, where he found His Eminence very ill. He visited him regularly every morning, having two hundred guards to accompany him to the door of his chamber.” — “Mémoires de Retz.” “We came to the audience, M. de Beaufort and myself; with a corps of nobles which might number three hundred gentlemen; mm. the princes had with them nearly a thousand gentlemen.” — All the memoirs of the time show on every page that these escorts were necessary to make or repel sudden attacks.
. Mercier, “Tableau de Paris.” IX. 3.
. Leroi, “Histoire de Versailles,” Il. 21. (70,000 fixed population and 10,000 floating population according to the registers of the mayoralty.)
. Warroquier, “Etat de la France” (1789). The list of persons presented at court between 1779 and 1789, contains 463 men and 414 women. Vol. II. p. 515.
. People were run over almost every day in Paris by the fashionable vehicles, it being the habit of the great to ride very fast.
. 153,222,827 livres, 10 sous, 3 deniers. ( “Souvenirs d’un page de la cour de Louis XVI.,” by the Count d’Hézecques, p. 142.) — In 1690, before the chapel and the theater were constructed, it had already cost 100,000,000, (St. Simon, XII. 514. Memoirs of Marinier, clerk of the king’s buildings.)
. Museum of Engravings, National Library. “Histoire de France par estampes,” passim, and particularly the plans and views of Versailles, by Aveline; also, “the drawing of a collation given by M. le Prince in the Labyrinth of Chantilly,” Aug. 29, 1687.
. Memoirs, I. 221. He was presented at court February 19, 1787.
. For these details cf. Warroquier, vol. I. passim. — Archives imperiales, O1, 710 bis, the king’s household, expenditure of 1771. — D’Argenson, February 25, 1752. — In 1772 three millions are expended on the installation of the Count d’Artois. A suite of rooms for Mme. Adelaide cost 800,000 livres.
. Marie Antoinette, “Correspondance secréte,” by d’Arneth and Geffroy, III.192. Letter of Mercy, January 25, 1779. — Warroquier, in 1789, mentions only fifteen places in the house-hold of Madame Royale. This, along with other indications, shows the inadequacy of official statements.
. The number ascertainable after the reductions of 1775 and 1776, and before those of 1787. See Warroquier, vol. I. — Necker, “Administration des Finances,” II. 119.
. “La Maison du Roi en 1786,” colored engravings in the Museum of Engravings.
. Arcchives nationales, O1, 738. Report by M. Tessier (1780), on the large and small stables. The queen’s stables comprise 75 vehicles and 330 horses. These are the veritable figures taken from secret manuscript reports, showing the inadequacy of official statements. The Versailles Almanach of 1775, for instance, states that there were only 335 men in the stables while we see that in reality the number was four or five times as many. — “Previous to all the reforms, says a witness, I believe that the number of the king’s horses amounted to 3,000.” (D’Hézecques, “Souvenirs d’un page de Louis XVI.,” p. 121.
. La Maison du Roi justifiée par un soldat citoyen,” (1786) according to Statements published by the government. — “La future maison du roi” (1790). “The two stables cost in 1786, the larger one 4,207,606 livres, and the smaller 3,509,402 livres, a total of 7,717,058 livres, of which 486,546 were for the purchase of horses.
. On my arrival at Versailles (1786), there were 150 pages, not including those of the princes of the blood who lived at Paris. A page’s coat cost 1,500 livres, (crimson velvet embroidered with gold on all the seams, and a hat with feather and Spanish point lace.)” D’Hézecques, ibid., 112.
. Archives nationales, O1, 778. Memorandum on the hunting-train between 1760 and 1792 and especially the report of 1786.
. Mercier, “Tableau de Paris,” vol. I. p. 11; vol. V. p. 62. — D’Hézecques, ibid. 253. — “Journal de Louis XVI,” published by Nicolardot, passim.
. Warroquier, vol. I. passim. Household of the Queen: for the chapel 22 persons, the faculty 6. That of Monsieur, the chapel 22, the faculty 21. That of Madame, the chapel 20, the faculty 9. That of the Comte d’Artois, the chapel 20, the faculty 28. That of the Comtesse d’Artois, the chapel 19, the faculty 17. That of the Duc d’Orléans, the chapel 6, the faculty 19.
. Archives national, O1, Report by M. Mesnard de Choisy, (March, 1780). — They cause a reform (August 17, 1780). — “La Maison du roi justifiée” (1789), p. 24. In 1788 the expenses of the table are reduced to 2,870,999 livres, of which 600,000 livres are appropriated to Mesdames for their table.
. D’Hézecques, ibid.. 212. Under Louis XVI. there were two chair-carriers to the king, who came every morning, in velvet coats and with swords by their sides, to inspect and empty the object of their functions; this post was worth to each one 20,000 livres per annum.
. In 1787, Louis XVI. either demolishes or orders to be sold, Madrid, la Muette and Choisy; his acquisitions, however, Saint-Cloud, Ile-Adam and Rambouillet, greatly surpassing his reforms.
. Necker; “Compte-rendu,” II. 452. — Archives nationales, 01, 738. p.62 and 64, O1 2805, O1 736. — “La Maison du roi Justifiée” (1789). Constructions in 1775, 3,924,400, in 1786, 4,000,000, in 1788, 3,077,000 livres. — Furniture in 1788, 1,700,000 livres.
. Here are some of the casual expenses. (Archives nationales, O1, 2805). On the birth of the Duc de Bourgogne in 1751, 604,477 livres. For the Dauphin’s marriage in 1770, 1,267,770 livres. For the marriage of the Comte d’Artois in 1773, 2,016,221 livres. For the coronation in 1775, 835,862 livre,. For plays, concerts and balls in 1778, 481,744 livres, and in 1779, 382,986 livres.
. Warroquier, vol. I. ibid., — “Marie Antoinette,” by d’Arneth and Geffroy. Letter of Mercy, Sept. 16, 1773. “The multitude of people of various occupations following the king on his travels resembles the progress of an army.”
. The civil households of the king, queen, and Mme. Elisabeth, of Mesdames, and Mme. Royale, 25,700,000. — To the king’s brothers and sisters-in-law, 8,040,000. — The king’s military household, 7,681,000, (Necker, “Compte-rendu,” II. 119). From 1774 to 1788 the expenditure on the households of the king and his family varies from 32 to 36 millions, not including the military household, ("La Maison du roi justiftiée"). In 1789 the households of the king, queen, Dauphin, royal children and of Mesdames, cost 25 millions. — Those of Monsieur and Madame, 3,656,000; those of the Count and Countess d’Artois, 3,656,000;
. Warroquier, ibid,(1789) vol. I., passim.
. An expression of the Comte d’Artois on introducing the officers of his household to his wife.
. The number of light-horsemen and of gendarmes was reduced in 1775 and in 1776; both bodies were suppressed in 1787.
. The President of the 5th French Republic founded by General de Gaulle is even today the source of numerous appointments of great importance. (Sr.)
. Saint-Simon, “Mémoires,” XVI. 456. This need of being always surrounded continues up to the last moment; in 1791, the queen exclaimed bitterly, speaking of the nobility, “when any proceeding of ours displeases them they are sulky; no one comes to my table; the king retires alone; we have to suffer for our misfortunes.” (Mme. Campan, II. 177.)
. Duc de Lévis, “Souvenirs et Portraits,” 29. — Mme. de Maintenon, “Correspondance.”
. M. de V — who was promised a king’s lieutenancy or command, yields it to one of Mme. de Pompadour’s protégés, obtaining in lieu of it the part of the exempt in “Tartuffe,” played by the seigniors before the king in the small cabinet. (Mme. de Hausset, 168). “M. de V,- thanked Madame as if she had made him a duke.”
. “Paris, Versailles et les provinces au dix-huitième siècle,” II. 160, 168. — Mercier, “Tableau de Paris,” IV. 150. — De Ségur, “Mémoires,” I. 16.
. “Marie Antoinette,” by D’Arneth and Geffroy, II. 27, 255, 281. “— Gustave III.” by Geffroy, November, 1786, bulletin of Mme. de Staël. — D’Hézecques, ibid.. 231. — Archives nationales, 01, 736, a letter by M. Amelot, September 23, 1780. — De Luynes, XV. 260, 367; XVI. 163 ladies, of which 42 are in service, appear and courtesy to the king. 160 men and more than 100 ladies pay their respects to the Dauphin and Dauphine.
. Cochin. Engravings of a masked ball, of a dress ball, of the king and queen at play, of the interior of the theater (1745). Customes of Moreau (1777). Mme. de Genlis, “Dictionaire des etiquettes,” the article parure.
. “The difference between the tone and language of the court and the town was about as perceptible as that between Paris and the provinces. " (De Tilly, “Mémoires,” I. 153.)
. The following is an example of the compulsory inactivity of the nobles — a dinner of Queen Marie Leczinska at Fontainebleau: “I was introduced into a superb hall where I found about a dozen courtiers promenading about and a table set for as many persons, which was nevertheless prepared for but one person. . . . The queen sat own while the twelve courtiers took their positions in a semi-circle ten steps from the table; I stood alongside of them imitating their deferential silence. Her Majesty began to eat very fast, keeping her eyes fixed on the plate. Finding one of the dishes to her taste she returned to it, and then, running her eye around the circle, she said “Monsieur de Lowenthal?” — On hearing this name a fine-looking man advanced, bowing, and replied, “Madame?” — “I find that this ragout is fricassé chicken.”— “I believe it is’ Madame.” — On making this answer, in the gravest manner, the marshal, retiring backwards, resumed his position, while the queen finished her dinner, never uttering another word and going back to her room the same way as she came.” (Memoirs of Casanova.)
. “Under Louis XVI, who arose at seven or eight o’clock, the lever took place at half-past eleven unless hunting or ceremonies required it earlier.” There is the same ceremonial at eleven, again in the evening on retiring, and also during the day, when he changes his boots. (D’Hézecque, 161.)
. Warroquier, I. 94. Compare corresponding detail under Louis XVI in Saint-Simon XIII. 88.
. “Marie Antoinette,” by d’Arneth and Geffroy, II. 217.
. In all changes of the coat the left arm of the king is appropriated by the wardrobe and the right arm to the “chambre.”
. The queen breakfasts in bed, and “there are ten or twelve persons present at this first reception or entrée. . . " The grand receptions taking place at the dressing hour. “This reception comprises the princes of the blood, the captains of the guards and most of the grand-officers.” The same ceremony occurs with the chemise as with the king’s shirt. One winter day Mme. Campan offers the chemise to the queen, when a lady of honor enters, removes her gloves and takes the chemise in her hands. A movement at the door and the Duchess of Orleans comes in, takes off her gloves, and receives the chemise. Another movement and it is the Comtesse d’Artois whose privilege it is to hand the chemise. Meanwhile the queen sits there shivering with her arms crossed on her breast and muttering, “It is dreadful, what importunity! " (Mme. Campan, II. 217; III. 309-316).
. “Marie Antoinette,” by d’Arneth and Geffroy, II. 223 (August 15, 1774).
. Count D’Hézecques, ibid., p. 7.
. Duc de Lauzun, “Mémoires,” 51. — Mme. de Genlis, “Mémoires,” ch. XII.: “Our husbands, regularly on that day (Saturday) slept at Versailles, to hunt the next day with the king.”
. The State dinner takes place every Sunday. — La nef is a piece of plate at the center of the table containing between scented cushions, the napkins used by the king. — The essai is the tasting of each dish by the gentlemen servants and officers of the table before the king partakes of it. And the same with the beverages. — It requires four persons to serve the king with a glass of wine and water.
. When the ladies of the king’s court, and especially the princesses, pass before the king’s bed they have to make an obeisance; the palace officials salute the nef on passing that. — A priest or sacristan does the same thing on passing before the altar.
. De Luynes, IX, 75,79, 105. (August, 1748, October 1748).
. The king is at Marly, and here is a list of the excursions he is to make before going to Compiègne. (De Luynes, XIV, 163, May, 1755) “Sunday, June 1st, to Choisy until Monday evening. — Tuesday, the 3rd to Trianon, until Wednesday. — Thursday, the 5th, return to Trianon where he will remain until after supper on Saturday. — Monday, the 9th, to Crécy, until Friday, 13th. — Return to Crécy the 16th, until the 21st. — St. July 1st to la Muette, the 2nd, to Compiègne.”
. “Marie Antoinette,” by d’Arneth and Geffroy, I. 19 (July 12, 1770). I. 265 (January 23, 1771). I. III. (October 18, 1770).
. Marie Antoinette,” by d’Arneth and Geffroy, II, 270 (October 18, 1774). II, 395 (November 15, 1775). II, 295 (February 20, 1775). III, 25 (February 11, 1777). III, 119 (October 17, 1777). III, 409 (March 18, 1780).
. Mme. Campan, I. 147.
. Nicolardot, “Journal de Louis XVI,” 129.
. D’Hézecques ibid. 253. — Arthur Young, I. 215.
. List of pensions paid to members of the royal family in 1771. Duc d’Orléans, 150,000. Prince de Condé, 100,000. Comte de Clermont, 70,000. Duc de Bourbon, 60,000. Prince de Conti, 60,000. Comte de la Marche, 60,000. Dowager-Countess de Conti, 50,000. Duc de Penthièvre, 50,000. Princess de Lamballe, 50,000. Duchess de Bourbon, 50,000. (Archives Nationales. O1. 710, bis).
. Beugnot, I. 77. Mme. de Genlis, “Mémoires,” ch. XVII. De Goncourt, “La Femme au dix-huitième siècle,” 52. — Champfort, “Caractères et Anecdotes.”
. De Luynes, XVI. 57 (May, 1757). In the army of Westphalia the Count d’Estrées, commander-in-chief; had twenty-seven secretaries, and Grimm was the twenty-eighth. — When the Duc de Richelieu set out for his government of Guyenne he was obliged to have relays of a hundred horses along the entire road.
. De Luynes, XVI. 186 (October, 1757).
. De Goncourt, ibid., 73, 75.
. Mme. d’Epinay, “Mémoires.” Ed. Boiteau, I. 306 (1751).
. St. Simon, XII. 457, and Dangeau, VI. 408. The Marshal de Boufflers at the camp of Compiègne (September, 1698) had every night and morning two tables for twenty and twenty-five persons, besides extra tables; 72 cooks, 340 domestics, 400 dozens of napkins, 80 dozens of silver plates, 6 dozens of porcelain plates. Fourteen relays of horses brought fruits and liquors daily from Paris; every day an express brought fish, poultry and game from Ghent, Brussels, Dunkirk, Dieppe and Calais. Fifty dozens bottles of wine were drunk on ordinary days and eighty dozens during the visits of the king and the princes.
. De Luynes, XIV. 149.
. Abbé Georgel, “Mémoires,” 216.
. Sainte-Beuve, “Causeries du lundi,” VIII. 63, the texts of two witnesses, mm. de Genlis and Roland.
. De Luynes, XV. 455, and XVI. 219 (1757). “The Marshal de Belle-Isle contracted an indebtedness amounting to 1,200,000 livres, one-quarter of it for building great piles of houses for his own pleasure and the rest in the king’s service. The king, to indemnify him, gives him 400,000 livres on the salt revenue, and 80,000 livres income on the company privileged to refine the precious metals.”
. Report of fixed incomes and expenditures, May 1st, 1789, p. 633. — These figures, it must be noted, must be doubled to have their actual equivalent.
. Mme. de Genlis, “Dict. des Etiquettes,” I. 349.
. Barbier, “Journal,” III, 211 (December, 1750).
. Aubertin, “L’Esprit public au dix-huitième siècle,” 255.
. Mme. de Genlis, “Adèle et Théodore.” III. 54.
. Duc de Lévis, 68. The same thing is found, previous to the late reform, in the English army. — Cf. Voltaire, “Entretiens entre A, B, C,” 15th entretien. “A regiment is not the reward for services but rather for the sum which the parents of a young man advance in order that he may go to the provinces for three months in the year and keep open house.”
. Beugnot, I. 79.
. Merlin de Thionville, “Vie et correspondances.” Account of his visit to the chartreuse of Val St. Pierre in Thierarche.
. Mme. de Genlis, “Mémoires,” ch. 7.
. Mme. d’Oberkirk, I. 15.
. Mme. de Genlis, 26, ch. I. Mme. d’Oberkirk, I. 62.
. De Lauzun, “Mémoires,” 257.
. Marquis de Valfons, “Mémoires,” 60. — De Lévis, 156. — Mme. d’Oberkirk, I, 127, II, 360.
. Beugnot, I, 71. — Hippeau, “Le Gouvernement de Normandie,” passim.
. An occupation explained farther on, page 145. — Tr.
. Mme. de Genlis, " Mémoires,” passim. “Dict. des Etiquettes,” I. 348.
. Mme. d’Oberkirk, I. 395. — The Baron and Baroness de Sotenville in Molière are people well brought up although provincial and pedantic.
Perfect only in France. — Reasons for this derived from the French character. — Reasons derived from the tone of the court. — This life becomes more and more agreeable and absorbing.
Similar circumstances have led other aristocracies in Europe to nearly similar ways and habits. There also the monarchy has given birth to the court and the court to a refined society. But the development of this rare plant has been only partial. The soil was unfavorable and the seed was not of the right sort. In Spain, the king stands shrouded in etiquette like a mummy in its wrappings, while a too rigid pride, incapable of yielding to the amenities of the worldly order of things, ends in a sentiment of morbidity and in insane display. In Italy, under petty despotic sovereigns, and most of them strangers, the constant state of danger and of hereditary distrust, after having tied all tongues, turns all hearts towards the secret delights of love and towards the mute gratification of the fine arts. In Germany and in England, a cold temperament, dull and rebellious to culture, keeps man, up to the close of the last century, within the Germanic habits of solitude, inebriety and brutality. In France, on the contrary, all things combine to make the social sentiment flourish; in this the national genius harmonizes with the political regime, the plant appearing to be selected for the soil beforehand.
The Frenchman loves company through instinct, and the reason is that he does well and easily whatever society calls upon him to do. He has not the false shame which renders his northern neighbors awkward, nor the powerful passions which absorb his neighbors of the south. Talking is no effort to him, having none of the natural timidity which begets constraint, and with no constant preoccupation to overcome. He accordingly converses at his ease, ever on the alert, and conversation affords him extreme pleasure. For the happiness which he requires is of a peculiar kind: delicate, light, rapid, incessantly renewed and varied, in which his intellect, his vanity, all his emotional and sympathetic faculties find nourishment; and this quality of happiness is provided for him only in society and in conversation. Sensitive as he is, personal attention, consideration, cordiality, delicate flattery, constitute his natal atmosphere, outside which he breathes with difficulty. He would suffer almost as much in being impolite as in encountering impoliteness in others. For his instincts of kindliness and vanity there is an exquisite charm in the habit of being amiable, and this is all the greater because it proves contagious. When we afford pleasure to others there is a desire to please us, and what we bestow in deference is returned in attentions. In company of this kind one can talk, for to talk is to amuse another in being oneself
Thus endowed, and thus disposed, he is made for a régime which, for ten hours a day, brings men together; natural feeling in accord with the social order of things renders the drawing room perfect. The king, at the head of all, sets the example. Louis XIV had every qualification for the master of a household: a taste for pomp and hospitality, condescension accompanied with dignity, the art of playing on the self-esteem of others and of maintaining his own position, chivalrous gallantry, tact, and even charms of intellectual expression. “His address was perfect; whether it was necessary to jest, or he was in a playful humor, or deigned to tell a story, it was ever with infinite grace, and a noble refined air which I have found only in him.” “Never was man so naturally polite, nor of such circumspect politeness, so powerful by degrees, nor who better discriminated age, worth, and rank, both in his replies and in his deportment. . . . His salutations, more or less marked, but always slight, were of incomparable grace and majesty. . . . He was admirable in the different acknowledgments of salutes at the head of the army and at reviews. . . . But especially toward women , there was nothing like it. . . . Never did he pass the most insignificant woman without taking off his hat to her; and I mean chambermaids whom he knew to be such. . . Never did he chance to say anything disobliging to anybody. . . . Never before company anything mistimed or venturesome, but even to the smallest gesture, his walk, his bearing, his features, all were proper, respectful, noble, grand, majestic, and thoroughly natural.”
Such is the model, and, nearly or remotely, it is imitated up to the end of the ancient régime. If it undergoes any change, it is only to become more sociable. In the eighteenth century, except on great ceremonial occasions, it is seen descending step by step from its pedestal. It no longer imposes “that stillness around it which lets one hear a fly walk.” “Sire,” said the Marshal de Richelieu, who had seen three reigns, addressing Louis XVI, “under Louis XIV no one dared utter a word; under Louis XV people whispered; under your Majesty they talk aloud.” If authority is a loser, society is the gainer; etiquette, insensibly relaxed, allows the introduction of ease and cheerfulness. Henceforth the great, less concerned in overawing than in pleasing, cast off stateliness like an uncomfortable and ridiculous garment,
II. Social life has priority.
Subordination of it to other interests and duties. — Indifference to public affairs. — They are merely a subject of jest. — Neglect of private affairs. — Disorder in the household and abuse of money.
There is neither leisure nor taste for other matters, even for things which are of most concern to man, such as public affairs, the household, and the family. — With respect to the first, I have already stated that people abstain from them, and are indifferent; the administration of things, whether local or general, is out of their hands and no longer interests them. They only allude to it in jest; events of the most serious consequence form the subject of witticisms. After the edict of the Abbé Terray, which half ruined the state creditors, a spectator, too much crowded in the theater, cried out, “Ah, how unfortunate that our good Abbé Terray is not here to cut us down one-half I” Everybody laughs and applauds. All Paris the following day, is consoled for public ruin by repeating the phrase. — Alliances, battles, taxation, treaties, ministries, coups d’état, the entire history of the country, is put into epigrams and songs. One day, in an assembly of young people belonging to the court, one of them, as the current witticism was passing around, raised his hands in delight and exclaimed, “How can one help being pleased with great events, even with disturbances, when they provide us with such amusing witticisms!” Thereupon the sarcasms circulate, and every disaster in France is turned into nonsense. A song on the battle of Hochstaedt was pronounced poor, and some one in this connection said “I am sorry that battle was lost — the song is so worthless." — Even when eliminating from this trait all that belongs to the sway of impulse and the license of paradox, there remains the stamp of an age in which the State is almost nothing and society almost everything. We may on this principle divine what order of talent was required in the ministers. M. Necker, having given a magnificent supper with serious and comic opera, “finds that this festivity is worth more
According to this, we can easily foresee that they will be as little concerned with their private affairs as with public affairs. Housekeeping, the management of property, domestic economy, are in their eyes vulgar, insipid in the highest degree, and only suited to an intendant or a butler. Of what use are such persons if we must have such cares? Life is no longer a festival if one has to provide the ways and means. Comforts, luxuries, the agreeable must flow naturally and greet our lips of their own accord. As a matter of course and without his intervention, a man belonging to this world should find gold always in his pocket, a handsome coat on his toilet table, powdered valets in his antechamber, a gilded coach at his door, a fine dinner on his table, so that he may reserve all his attention to be expended in favors on the guests in his drawing-room. Such a mode of living is not to be maintained without waste, and the domestics, left to themselves, make the most of it. What matter is it, so long as they perform their duties? Moreover, everybody must live, and it is pleasant to have contented and obsequious faces around one. — Hence the first houses in the kingdom are given up to pillage. Louis XV, on a hunting expedition one day, accompanied by the Duc de Choiseul, inquired of him how much he thought the carriage in which they were seated had cost. M. de Choiseul replied that he should consider himself fortunate to get one like it for 5,000 or 6,000 francs; but, “His Majesty paying for it as a king, and not always paying cash, might have paid 8,000 francs for it.” — “You are wide of the mark,” rejoined the king, “for this vehicle, as you see it, cost me 30,000 francs. . . . The robberies in my household are enormous, but it is impossible to put a stop to them.” — So the great help themselves as well as the little, either in money, or in kind, or in services. There are in the king’s household fifty-four horses for the grand equerry, thirty-eight of them being for Mme. de Brionne, the administratrix
III. Universal pleasure seeking.
Moral divorce of husband and wife. — Gallantry. — Separation of parents and children. — Education, its object and omissions. — The tone of servants and purveyors. — Pleasure seeking universal.
In a drawing room the woman who receives the least attention from a man is his own wife, and she returns the compliment. Hence at a time like this, when people live for society and in society, there is no place for conjugal intimacy. — Moreover, when a married couple occupy an exalted position they are separated by custom and decorum. Each party has his or her own household, or at least their own apartments, servants, equipage, receptions and distinct society, and, as entertainment entails ceremony, they stand towards each other in deference to their rank on the footing of polite strangers. They are each announced in each other’s apartment; they address each other “Madame, Monsieur,” and not alone in public, but in private; they shrug their shoulders when, sixty leagues out from Paris, they encounter in some old chateau a provincial wife ignorant enough to say “my dear " to her husband before company. — Already separated at the fireside, the two lives diverge beyond it at an ever increasing radius. The husband has a government of his own: his private command, his private regiment, his post at court, which keeps him absent from home; only in his declining years does his wife consent to follow him into garrison or into the provinces. And rather is this the case because she is herself occupied, and as seriously as himself; often with a position near a princess, and always with an important circle of company which she must maintain. At this epoch woman is as active as man, following the same career, and with the same resources, consisting of the flexible voice, the winning grace, the insinuating manner, the tact, the quick perception of the right moment, and the art of pleasing, demanding, and obtaining; there is not a lady at court who does not bestow regiments and benefices. Through this right the wife has her personal retinue of solicitors and protégés, also, like her husband, her friends, her enemies, her own ambitions, disappointments, and rancorous feeling; nothing could be more effectual in the disruption of a household than this similarity of occupation and this division of interests. — The tie thus loosened ends by being sundered under the ascendancy of opinion. “It looks well not to live together,” to grant each other every species of tolerance, and to devote oneself to society. Society, indeed, then fashions opinion, and through opinion it creates the morals which it requires.
Toward the middle of the century the husband and wife lodged under the same roof, but that was all. “They never saw each other, one never met them in the same carriage; they are never met in the same house; nor, with very good reason, are they ever together in public.” Strong emotions would have seemed odd and even “ridiculous;” in any event unbecoming; it would have been as unacceptable as an earnest remark “aside” in the general current of light conversation. Each has a duty to all, and for a couple to entertain each other is isolation; in company there is no right to the tête-à-tête. It was hardly allowed for a few days to lovers. And even then it was regarded unfavorably; they were found too much occupied with each other. Their preoccupation spread around them an atmosphere of “constraint and ennui; one had to be upon one’s guard and to check oneself.” They were “dreaded.” The exigencies of society are those of an absolute king, and admit of no partition. “If morals lost by this, society was infinitely the gainer,” says M. de Bezenval, a contemporary; “having got rid of the annoyances and dullness caused by the husbands’ presence, the freedom was extreme; the coquetry both of men and women kept up social vivacity and daily provided piquant adventures.” Nobody is jealous, not even when in love. “People are mutually pleased and become attached; if one grows weary of the other, they part with as little concern as they came together. Should the sentiment revive they take to each other with as much vivacity as if it were the first time they had been engaged. They may again separate, but they never quarrel. As they have become enamored without love, they part without hate, deriving from the feeble desire they have inspired the advantage of being always ready to oblige." Appearances, moreover, are respected. An uninformed stranger would detect nothing to excite suspicion. An extreme curiosity, says Horace Walpole, or a great familiarity with things, is necessary to detect the slightest intimacy between the two sexes. No familiarity is allowed except under the guise of friendship, while the vocabulary of love is as much prohibited as its rites apparently are. Even with Crébillon fils, even with Laclos, at the most exciting moments, the terms their characters employ are circumspect and irreproachable. Whatever indecency there may be, it is never expressed in words, the sense of propriety in language imposing itself not only on the outbursts of passion, but again on the grossness of instincts. Thus do the sentiments which are naturally the strongest lose their point and sharpness; their rich and polished remains are converted into playthings for the drawing room, and, thus cast to and fro by the whitest hands, fall on the floor like a shuttlecock. We must, on this point, listen to the heroes of the epoch; their free and easy tone is inimitable, and it depicts both them and their actions. “I conducted myself,”
“Here at Paris,” writes Mme. d’Oberkirk, “I am no longer my own mistress. I scarcely have time to talk with my husband and to answer my letters. I do not know what women do that are accustomed to lead this life; they certainly have no families to look after, nor children to educate.” At all events they act as if they had none, and the men likewise. Married people not living together live but rarely with their children, and the causes that disintegrate wedlock also disintegrate the family. In the first place there is the aristocratic tradition, which interposes a barrier between parents and children with a view to maintain a respectful distance. Although enfeebled and about to disappear, this tradition still subsists. The son says " Monsieur” to his father; the daughter comes “respectfully” to kiss her mother’s hand at her toilet. A caress is rare and seems a favor; children generally, when with their parents, are silent, the sentiment that usually animates them being that of deferential timidity. At one time they were regarded as so many subjects, and up to a certain point they are so still; while the new exigencies of worldly life place them or keep them effectually aside. M. de Talleyrand stated that he had never slept under the same roof with his father and mother. And if they do sleep there, they are not the less neglected. “I was entrusted,” says the Count de Tilly, “to valets; and to a kind of preceptor resembling these in more respects than one.” During this time his father ran after women. “I have known him,” adds the young man, “to have mistresses up to an advanced age; he was always adoring them and constantly abandoning them.” The Duc de Lauzun finds it difficult to obtain a good tutor for his son; for this reason the latter writes, “he conferred the duty on one of my late mother’s lackeys who could read and write tolerably well, and to whom the title of valet-de-chambre was given to insure greater consideration. They gave me the most fashionable teachers besides;
The charm of this life. — Etiquette in the 18th Century. — Its perfection and its resources. -Taught and prescribed under feminine authority.
A society which obtains such ascendancy must possess some charm; in no country, indeed, and in no age has so perfect a social art rendered life so agreeable. Paris is the school-house of Europe, a school of urbanity to which the youth of Russia, Germany, and England resort to become civilized. Lord Chesterfield in his letters never tires of reminding his son of this, and of urging him into these drawing-rooms, which will remove “his Cambridge rust.” Once familiar with them they are never abandoned, or if one is obliged to leave them, one always sighs for them. “Nothing is comparable,” says Voltaire, “to the genial life one leads there in the bosom of the arts and of a calm and refined voluptuousness; strangers and monarchs have preferred this repose, so agreeably occupied in it and so enchanting to their own countries and thrones. The heart there softens and melts away like aromatics slowly dissolving in moderate heat, evaporating in delightful perfumes.” Gustavus III, beaten by the Russians, declares that he will pass his last days in Paris in a house on the boulevards; and this is not merely complimentary, for he sends for plans and an estimate. A supper or an evening entertainment brings people two hundred leagues away. Some friends of the Prince de Ligne “leave Brussels after breakfast, reach the opera in Paris just in time to see the curtain rise, and, after the spectacle is over, return immediately to Brussels, traveling all night.” — Of this delight, so eagerly sought, we have only imperfect copies, and we are obliged to revive it intellectually. It consists, in the first place, in the pleasure of living with perfectly polite people; there is no enjoyment more subtle, more lasting, more inexhaustible. Man’s self-esteem or vanity being infinite, intelligent people are always able to produce some refinement of attention to gratify it. Worldly sensibility being infinite there is no imperceptible shade of it permitting indifference. After all, Man is still the greatest source of happiness or of misery to Man, and in those days this everflowing fountain brought to him sweetness instead of bitterness. Not only was it essential not to offend, but it was essential to please; one was expected to lose sight of oneself in others, to be always cordial and good-humored, to keep one’s own vexations and grievances in one’s own breast, to spare others melancholy ideas and to supply them with cheerful ideas.
“Was any one old in those days? It is the Revolution which brought old age into the world, Your grandfather, my child, was handsome, elegant, neat, gracious, perfumed, playful, amiable, affectionate, and good-tempered to the day of his death. People then knew how to live and how to die; there was no such thing as troublesome infirmities. If any one had the gout, ’he walked along all the same and made no faces; people well brought up concealed their sufferings. There was none of that absorption in business which spoils a man inwardly and dulls his brain. People knew how to ruin themselves without letting it appear, like good gamblers who lose their money without showing uneasiness or spite. A man would be carried half dead to a hunt. It was thought better to die at a ball or at the play than in one’s bed, between four wax candles and horrid men in black. People were philosophers; they did not assume to be austere, but often were so without making a display of it. If one was discreet, it was through inclination and without pedantry or prudishness. People enjoyed this life, and when the hour of departure came they did not try to disgust others with living. The last request of my old husband was that I would survive him as long as possible and live as happily as I could.”
When, especially, women are concerned it is not sufficient to be polite; it is important to be gallant. Each lady invited by the Prince de Conti to Ile-Adam “finds a carriage and horses at her disposal; she is free to give dinners every day in her own rooms to her own friends." Mme. de Civrac having to go to the springs, her friends undertake to divert her on the journey; they keep ahead of her a few posts, and, at every place where she rests for the night, they give her a little féte champêtre disguised as villagers and in bourgeois attire, with bailiff and scrivener, and other masks all singing and reciting verses. A lady on the eve of Longchamp, knowing that the Vicomte de V — possesses two calèches, makes a request for one of them; it is disposed of; but he is careful not to decline, and immediately has one of the greatest elegance purchased to lend it for three hours; he is only too happy that anybody should wish to borrow from him, his prodigality appearing amiable but not astonishing. The reason is that women then were queens in the drawing-room; it is their right; this is the reason why, in the eighteenth century, they prescribe the law and the fashion in all things. Having formed the code of usages, it is quite natural that they should profit by it, and see that all its prescriptions are carried out. In this respect any circle “of the best company " is a superior tribunal, serving as a court of last appeal. The Maréchale de Luxembourg is an authority; there is no point of manners which she does not justify with an ingenious argument. Any expression, any neglect of the standard, the slightest sign of pretension or of vanity incurs her disapprobation,
A great lady “receives ten persons with one courtesy, bestowing on each, through the head or by a glance, all that he is entitled to;" meaning by this the shade of regard due to each phase of position, consideration, and birth. “She has always to deal with easily irritated amour-propres; consequently the slightest deficiency in proportion would be promptly detected," But she is never mistaken, and never hesitates in these subtle distinctions; with incomparable tact, dexterity, and flexibility of tone, she regulates the degrees of her welcome. She has one “for women of condition, one for women of quality, one for women of the court, one for titled women, one for women of historic names, another for women of high birth personally, but married to men beneath them; another for women who by marriage have changed a common into a distinguished name; another still for women of reputable names in the law; and, finally, another for those whose relief consists chiefly of expensive houses and good suppers.” A stranger would be amazed on seeing with what certain and adroit steps she circulates among so many watchful vanities without ever hurting or being hurt. “She knows how to express all through the style of her salutations; a varied style, extending through imperceptible gradations, from the accessory of a single shrug of the shoulder, almost an impertinence, to that noble and deferential reverence which so few women, even of the court, know how to do well; that slow bending forward, with lowered eyes and straightened figure, gradually recovering and modestly glancing at the person while gracefully raising the body up, altogether much more refined and more delicate than words, but very expressive as the means of manifesting respect.” — This is but a single action, and very common; there are a hundred others, and of importance. Imagine, if it is possible, the degree of elegance and perfection to which they attained through good breeding. I select one at random, a duel between two princes of the blood, the Comte d’Artois and the Duc de Bourbon; the latter being the offended party, the former, his superior, had to offer him a meeting, “As soon as the Comte d’Artois saw him he leaped to the ground, and walking directly up to him, said to him smiling: ‘Monsieur, the
What constitutes happiness in the 18th Century. — The fascination of display. — Indolence, recreation, light conversation.
One can very well understand this kind of pleasure in a summary way, but how is it to be made apparent? Taken by themselves the pastimes of society are not to be described; they are too ephemeral; their charm arises from their accompaniments. A narrative of them would be but tasteless dregs, does the libretto of an opera give any idea of the opera itself? — If the reader would revive for himself this vanished world let him seek for it in those works that have preserved its externals or its accent, and first in
Other circles present the same spectacle. Every occupation being an amusement, a caprice or an impulse of fashion brings one into favor. At present, it is unraveling, every white hand at Paris, and in the chateaux, being busy in undoing trimmings, epaulettes and old stuffs, to pick out the gold and silver threads. They find in this employment the semblance of economy, an appearance of occupation, in any event something to keep them in countenance. On a circle of ladies being formed, a big unraveling bag in green taffeta is placed on the table, which belongs to the lady of the house; immediately all the ladies call for their bags and “voilà les laquais en l’air" It is all the rage. They unravel every day and several hours in the day; some derive from it a hundred louis d’or per annum. The gentlemen are expected to provide the materials for the work; the Duc de Lauzun, accordingly, gives to Madame de V — a harp of natural size covered with gold thread; an enormous golden fleece, brought as a present from the Comte de Lowenthal, and which cost 2 or 3,000 francs, brings, picked to pieces, 5 or 600 francs. But they do not look into matters so closely. Some employment is essential for idle hands, some manual outlet for nervous activity; a humorous petulance breaks out in the middle of the pretended work. One day, when about going out, Madame de R — observes that the gold fringe on her dress would be capital for unraveling, whereupon, with a dash, she cuts one of the fringes off. Ten women suddenly surround a man wearing fringes, pull off his coat and put his fringes and laces into their bags, just as if a bold flock of tomtits, fluttering and chattering in the air, should suddenly dart on a jay to pluck out its feathers; thenceforth a man who enters a circle
Gaiety in the 18th Century. — Its causes and effects. — Toleration and license. — Balls, fêtes, hunts, banquets, pleasures. — Freedom of the magistrates and prelates.
The Frenchman’s characteristic,” says an English traveler in 1785, “is to be always gay;" and he remarks that he must be so because, in France, such is the tone of society and the only mode of pleasing the ladies, the sovereigns of society and the arbiters of good taste. Add to this the absence of the causes which produce modern dreariness, and which convert the sky above our heads into one
As for the cassock, it enjoys the same freedom as the robe. At Saverne, at Clairvaux, at Le Mans and at other places, the prelates wear it as freely as a court dress. The revolutionary upheaval was necessary to make it a fixture on their bodies, and, afterwards, the hostile supervision of an organized party and the fear of constant danger. Up to 1789 the sky is too serene and the atmosphere too balmy to lead them to button it up to the neck. “Freedom, facilities, Monsieur l’Abbé,” said the Cardinal de Rohan to his secretary, “without these this life would be a desert." This is what the good cardinal took care to avoid; on the contrary he had made Saverne an enchanting world according to Watteau, almost “a landing-place for Cythera.” Six hundred peasants and keepers, ranged in a line a league long, form in the morning and beat up the surrounding country, while hunters, men and women, are posted at their stations. “For fear that the ladies might be frightened if left alone by themselves, the man whom they hated least was always left with them to make them feel at ease,” and as nobody was allowed to leave his post before the signal “it was impossible to be surprised.” — About one p.m. “the company gathered under a beautiful tent, on the bank of a stream or in some delightful place, where an exquisite dinner was served up, and, as everybody had to be made happy, each peasant received a pound of meat, two of bread and half a bottle of wine, they, as well as the ladies, only asking to begin it all over again.” The accommodating prelate might certainly have replied to scrupulous people along with Voltaire, that “nothing wrong can happen in good society.” In fact, so he did and in appropriate terms. One day, a lady accompanied by a young officer, having come on a visit, and being obliged to keep them over night, his valet comes and whispers to him that there is no more room. - " ‘Is the bath-room occupied?’ — ‘No, Monseigneur!’ — ’Are there not two beds there?’ — ’Yes, Monseigneur, but they are both in the same chamber, and that officer. . . ’ — ’Very well, didn’t they come together? Narrow people like you always see something wrong. You will find that they will get along well together; there is not the slightest reason to consider the matter.’ " And really nobody did object, either the officer or the lady. — At Granselve, in the Gard, the Bernardines are still more hospitable. People resort to the fête of St. Bernard which lasts a couple of weeks; during this time they dance, and hunt, and act comedies, “the tables being ready at all hours.” The quarters of the ladies are provided with every requisite for the toilet; they lack nothing, and it is even said that it was not necessary for any of them to bring their officer. — I might cite twenty prelates not less gallant, the second Cardinal de Rohan, the hero of the necklace, M. de Jarente, bishop of Orleans, who keeps the record of benefices, the young M. de Grimaldi, bishop of Le
VII. Theater, parade and extravagance.
The principal diversion, elegant comedy. —
To divert oneself is to turn aside from oneself, to break loose and to forget oneself; and to forget oneself fully one must be transported into another, put himself in the place of another, take his mask and play his part. Hence the liveliest of diversions is the comedy in which one is an actor. It is that of children who, as authors, actors and audience, improvise and perform small scenes. It is that of a people whose political régime excludes exacting manly tasks (soucis virile) and who sport with life just like children. At Venice, in the eighteenth century, the carnival lasts six months; in France, under another form, it lasts the entire year. Less familiar and less picturesque, more refined and more elegant, it abandons the public square where
Alongside of these masquerades which stop at costume and require only an hour, there is a more important diversion, the private theatrical performance, which completely transforms the man, and which for six weeks, and even for three months, absorbs him entirely at rehearsals. Towards 1770, “the rage for it is incredible; there is not an attorney in his cottage who does not wish to have a stage and his company of actors.” A Bernardine living in Bresse, in the middle of a wood, writes to Collé that he and his brethren are about to perform “La Partie de Chasse de Henri IV,” and that they are having a small theater constructed “without the knowledge of bigots and small minds.” Reformers and moralists introduce theatrical art into
The last trait I have to mention, yet more significant,
is the afterpiece. Really, in this fashionable
circle, life is a carnival as free and almost as rakish
as that of Venice. The play commonly terminates
with a parade borrowed from La Fontaine’s tales
or from the farces of the Italian drama, which are
not only pointed but more than free, and sometimes
so broad that they cant be played only before princes
and courtesans;" a morbid palate, indeed, having
no taste for orgeat, instead demanding a dram.
The Duc d’Orléans sings on the stage the most
spicy songs, playing Bartholin in “Nicaise,”
and Blaise in “Joconde.” “Le
Marriage sans Curé,” “Leandre grosse,”
“L’amant poussif,” “Leandre
Etalon,” are the showy titles of the pieces
composed by Collé “for the amusement of His Highness
and the Court.” For one which contains
salt there are ten stuffed with strong pepper.
At Brunoy, at the residence of Monsieur, so gross are
they the king regrets having attended; “nobody
had any idea of such license; two women in the auditorium
had to go out, and, what is most extraordinary, they
had dared to invite the queen.” — Gaiety
is a sort of intoxication which draws the cask down
to the dregs, and when the wine is gone it draws on
the lees. Not only at their little suppers,
and with courtesans, but in the best society and with
ladies, they commit the follies of a bagnio.
Let us use the right word, they are blackguards,
and the word is no more offensive to them than the
action. “For five or six months,”
writes a lady in 1782," “the suppers are
followed by a blind man’s buff or by a draw-dance,
and they end in general mischievousness, (une polissonnerie
générale).” Guests are invited a fortnight
in advance. “On this occasion they upset
the tables and the furniture; they scattered twenty
caraffes of water about the room; I finally got away
at half-past one, wearied out, pelted with handkerchiefs,
and leaving Madame de Clarence hoarse, with her dress
torn to shreds, a scratch on her arm, and a bruise
on her forehead, but delighted that she had given
such a gay supper and flattered with the idea of its
being the talk the next day.” — This
is the result of a craving for amusement. Under
its pressure, as under the sculptor’s thumb,
the face of the century becomes transformed and insensibly
loses its seriousness; the formal expression of the
courtier at first becomes the cheerful physiognomy
of the worldling, and then, on these smiling lips,
their contours changed, we see the bold, unbridled
grin of the scamp. _____________________________________
. “La vie de salon” is Taine’s title. In Le Robert & Collins’ Dictionary salon is translated as “lounge” (Brit.) sitting room, living room, or (cercle littéraire) salon.
. De Loménie, “Beaumarchais et son temps,” I. 403. Letter of Beaumarchais, (Dec. 24, 1764.) — The travels of Mme. d’Aulnoy and the letters of Mme. de Villars. — As to Italy see Stendhal, “Rome, Naples et Florence.” — For Germany see the “Mémoires” of the Margrave of Bareith, also of the Chevalier Lang. — For England see my “Histoire de la litérature Anglaise,” vols. III. IV.
. Volney, “Tableau du climat et du sol des Etats-Unis d’Amérique.” The leading trait of the French Colonist when compared with the colonists of other nations, is, according to this writer, the craving for neighbors and conversation
. Mme. de Caylus, “Souvenirs,” p. 108.
. St. Simon, 461.
. Duc de Lévis, p. 321.
. Mme. de Genlis, “Souvenirs de Félicie,” p. 160. — It is important, however, to call attention to the old-fashioned royal attitude under Louis XV and even Louis XVI. “Although I was advised,” says Alfieri, “that the king never addressed ordinary strangers, I could not digest the Olympian-Jupiter look with which Louis XV measured the person presented to him, from head to foot, with such an impassible air; if a fly should be introduced to a giant, the giant, after looking at him, would smile, or perhaps remark. — ’What a little mite!’ In any event, if he said nothing, his face would express it for him.” Alfieri, Mémoires,” I.138, 1768. (Alfieri, Vittorio, born in Asti in 1749 — Florence 1803. Italian poet and playwright. (Sr.) - See in Mme. d’Oberkirk’s “Mémoires.” (II. 349), the lesson administered by Mme. Royale, aged seven and a half years, to a lady introduced to her.
. Champfort, 26, 55; Bachaumont, I. 136 (Sept 7,1762). One month after the Parliament had passed a law against the Jesuits, little Jesuits in wax appeared, with a snail for a base. “By means of a thread the Jesuit was made to pop in and out from the shell. It is all the rage — here is no house without its Jesuit.”
. On the other hand, the song on the battle of Rosbach is charming.
. “Correspondance secrète,” by Métra, Imbert, etc., V. 277 (Nov. 17, 1777). — Voltaire, “Princesse de Babylone.”
. Baron de Bezenval, “Mémoires,” II. 206. An anecdote related by the Duke.
. Archives nationales, a report by M. Texier (1780). A report by M. Mesnard de Chousy (01, 738).
. “Marie Antoinette,” by d’Arneth and Geffroy, I. 277 (February 29. 1772).
. De Luynes, XVII. 37 (August, 1758). — D’Argenson, February 11, 1753.
. Archives nationales, 01, 738. Various sums of interest are paid: 12,969 francs to the baker, 39,631 francs to the wine merchant, and 173,899 francs to the purveyor.
. Marquis de Mirabeau, “Traité de Population,” 60. — “Le Gouvemement de Normandie,” by Hippeau, II. 204 (Sept. 30, 1780).
. Mme. de Larochejacquelein, “Mémoires,” p. 30. — Mme. d’Oberkirk, II. 66.
. D’Argenson, January 26, 1753.
. George Sand, “Histoire de ma vie,” I.78.
. “Marie Antoinette,” by d’Arneth and Geffroy, I. 61 (March 18, 1777).
21. D’Argenson, January 26, 1753.
. “Marie Antoinette,” III. 135, November 19, 1777.
. Barbier, IV., 155. The Marshal de Soubise had a hunting lodge to which the king came from time to time to eat an omelet of pheasants’ eggs, costing 157 livres, 10 sous. (Mercier, XII 192; according to the statement of the cook who made it.)
. Mme. d’Oberkirk, I. 129, II. 257.
. Mme. de Genlis, “Souvenirs de Félicie,” 80; and “Théâtre de l’Education,” II. 367. A virtuous young woman in ten months runs into debt to the amount of 70,000 francs: “Ten louis for a small table, 15 louis for another, 800 francs for a bureau, 200 francs for a small writing desk, 300 francs for a large one. Hair rings, hair glass, hair chain, hair bracelets, hair clasps, hair necklace, hair box, 9,900 francs,” etc.
. Mme. de Genlis, “Adèle et Théodore,” III. 14.
. Mme. d’Avray, sister of Mme. de Genlis, sets the example, for which she is at first much criticized.
. “When I arrived in France M. de Choiseul’s reign was just over. The woman who seemed nice to him, or could only please his sister-in-law the Duchesse de Gramont, was sure of being able to secure the promotion to colonel and lieutenant general of any man they proposed. Women were of consequence even in the eyes of the old and of the clergy; they were thoroughly familiar, to an extraordinary degree, with the march of events; they knew by heart the characters and habits of the king’s friends and ministers. One of these, on returning to his château from Versailles, informed his wife about every thing with which he had been occupied; at home he says one or two words to her about his water-color sketches, or remains silent and thoughtful, pondering over what he has just heard in Parliament. Our poor ladies are abandoned to the Society of those frivolous men who, for want of intellect, have no ambition, and of course no employment (dandies).” (Stendhal, “Rome, Naples, and Florence,” 377. A narrative by Colonel Forsyth).
. De Bezenval, 49, 60. — “Out of twenty seigniors at the court there are fifteen not living with their wives, and keeping mistresses. Nothing is so common at Paris among certain people.” (Barbier, IV. 496.
. Ne soyez point époux, ne soyez point amant, Soyez l’homme du jour et vous serez charmant.
. Crébillon, fills. “La nuit et le moment,” IX, 14.
. Horace Walpole’s letters (January 15, 1766). — The Duke de Brissac, at Louveciennes, the lover of Mme. du Barry, and passionately fond of her, always in her society assumed the attitude of a polite stranger. (Mme. Vigée-Lebrun, “Souvenirs,” I. 165.)
. De Lauzun, 51. — Champfort, 39. — “The Duc de — whose wife had just been the subject of scandal, complained to his mother-in-law: the latter replied with the greatest coolness, ’Eh, Monsieur, you make a good deal of talk about nothing. Your father was much better company.’ " (Mme. d’Oberkirk, II. 135, 241). — “A husband said to his wife, I allow you everything except princes and lackeys.’ He had it right since these two extremes brought dishonor on account of the scandal attached to them.” (Sénac de Meilhan, “Considérations sur les moeurs.) — On a wife being discovered by a husband, he simply exclaims, “Madame, what imprudence! Suppose that I was any other man.” (La femme au dix-huitième siècle,” 201.)
. See in this relation the somewhat ancient types, especially in the provinces. “My mother, my sister, and myself, transformed into statues by my father’s presence, only recover ourselves after he leaves the room.” (Châteaubriand, “Mémoires,” I. 17, 28, 130). — “Mémoires de Mirabeau,” I. 53.) The Marquis said of his father Antoine: “I never had the honor of kissing the cheek of that venerable man. . . At the Academy, being two hundred leagues away from him, the mere thought of him made me dread every youthful amusement which could be followed by the least unfavorable results.” — Paternal authority seems almost as rigid among the middle and lower classes. ("Beaumarchais et son temps,” by De Loménie, I. 23. — “Vie de mon père,” by Restif de la Bretonne, passim.)
. Sainte-Beuve, “Nouveaux lundis,” XII, 13; — Comte de Tilly, “Mémoires,” I. 12; Duc de Lauzun, 5. — “Beaumarchais,” by de Loménie, II. 299.
. Madame de Genlis, “Mémoires,” ch 2 and 3.
. Mme. d’Oberkirk. II. 35. — This fashion lasts until 1783. - De Goncourt, “La femme au dix-huitième siècle, 415, — “Les petits parrains,” engraving by Moreau. — Berquin, “L’ami des enfants,"passim. — Mme. de Genlis, “Théâtre de l’Education,” passim.
. Lesage, “Gil Blas de Santillane”: the discourse of the dancing-master charged with the education of the son of Count d’Olivarés.
. “Correspondance.” by Métra, XIV. 212; XVI. 109. — Mme. d’Oberkirk. II, 302.
. De Ségur, I. 297:
Ma naissance n’a rien de neuf,
J’ai suivi la commune régle,
Mais c’est vous qui sortez d’un oeuf,
Car vous êtes un aigle.
Mme. de Genlis, “Mémoires,” ch. IV. Mme. de Genlis wrote verses of this kind at twelve years of age.
. Already in the Précieuses of Molière, the Marquis de Mascarille and the Vicomte de Jodelet. — And the same in Marivaux, “L’épreuve, les jeux de l’amour et du hasard,” ete. — Lesage, “Crispin rival de son maître.” — Laclos, “Les liaisons dangéreuses,” first letter.
. Voltaire, “Princesse de Babylone.”
. “Gustave III,” by Geffroy, II. 37. — Mme. Vigée-Lebrun, I. 81.
. George Sand, I. 58-60. A narration by her grandmother, who, at thirty years of age, married M. Dupin de Francuiel, aged sixty-two.
. Mme. de Genlis, “Souvenirs de Félicie,” 77. — Mme. Campan, III. 74. — Mme. de Genlis, “Dict. des Etiquettes,” I. 348.
. See an anecdote concerning this species of royalty in “Adèle et Théodore, I. 69” by Mme. de Genlis. — Mme. Vigée-Lebrun, I. 156: “Women ruled then; the Revolution has dethroned them. . . This gallantry I speak of has entirely disappeared.”
. “Women in France to some extent dictate whatever is to be said and prescribe whatever is to be done in the fashionable world.” ("A comparative view,” by John Andrews, 1785.)
. Mme. d’Oberkirk, I. 299. — Mme. de Genlis, “Mémoires,” ch. XI.
. De Tilly, I. 24.
. Necker, “Oeuvres complètes,” XV, 259.
. Narrated by M. de Bezenval, a witness of the duel.
. See especially: Saint-Aubin, “Le bal paré,” “Le Concert;” — Moreau, “Les Elégants,” “La Vie d’un Seigneur à la mode,” the vignettes of “La nouvelle Héloise;” Beaudouin, “La Toilette,” “Le Coucher de la Mariée;” Lawreince, “Qu’en dit l’abbé? " — Watteau, the first in date and in talent, transposes these customs and depicts them the better by making them more poetic. — Of the rest, reread “Marianne,” by Marivaux; “La Vérité dans le vin,” by Collé; “Le coin du feu,” “La nuit et le moment,” by Crébillon fils; and two letters in the “Correspondance inédite” of Mme. du Deffant, one by the Abbé Barthélemy and the other by the Chevalier de Boufflers, (I. 258, 341.).
. “Correspondence inédite de Mme. du Deffant,” published by M. de Saint-Aulaire, I. 235, 258, 296, 302, 363.
. Mme. de Genlis, “Dict. des Etiquettes,” II. 38. “Adèle et Théodore, I, 312, II, 350, — George Sand, “Histoire de ma vie,” I. 228. — De Goncourt, p. 111.
. George Sand, I. 59.
. “A comparative view,” etc., by John Andrews.
. Mme. Vigée-Lebrun, I. 15, 154.
. Châteaubriand, I. 34. — “Mémoires de Mirabeau,” passim. — George Sand, I. 59, 76.
. Comptes rendus de la société de Berry (1863-1864).
. “Histoire de Troyes pendant la Révolution,” by Albert Babeau, I. 46.
. Foissets, “Le Président des Brosses,” 65, 69, 70, 346. — “Lettres du Président des Brosses,” (ed. Coulomb), passim. — Piron being uneasy concerning his “Ode à Priape,” President Bouhier, a man of great and fine erudition, and the least starched of learned ones, sent for the young man and said to him, “You are a foolish fellow. If any one presses you to know the author of the offence tell him that I am.” (Sainte-Beuve, “Nouveaux Lundis,” VII. 414.)
. Foisset, ibid.. 185. Six audiences a week and often two a day besides his labors as antiquarian, historian, linguist, geographer, editor and academician.
. “Souvenirs”, by Pasquier (Etienne-Dennis, duc), chancelier de France. in VI volumes, Librarie Plon, Paris 1893.
. De Valfons, “Souvenirs,” 60.
. Montgaillard (an eye-witness). “Histoire de France,” II. 246.
. M. de Conzié is surprised at four o’clock in the morning by his rival, an officer in the guards. “Make no noise,” he said to him, “a dress like yours will be brought to me and I will have a cock made then we shall be on the same level.” A valet brings him his weapons. He descends into the garden of the mansion, fights with the officer and disarms him. ("Correspondance,” by Métra, XIV. May 20, 1783.) — “Le Comte de Clermont,” by Jules Cousin, passim. — “Journal de Collé,” III. 232 (July, 1769).
. De Loménie, “Beaumarchais et son temps, II. 304.
. De Luynes, XVL 161 (September, 1757). The village festival given to King Stanislas, by Mme. de Mauconseil at Bagatelle. — Bachaumont, III. 247 (September 7, 1767). Festival given by the Prince de Condé.
. “Correspondance,” by Métra, XIII. 97 (June 15, 1782), and V. 232 (June 24 and 25, 1777). — Mme. de Genlis “Mémoires,” chap. XIV.
. Bachaumont, November 17, 1770. — “Journal de Collé,” III. 136 (April 29, 1767). — De Montlosier, “Mémoires,” I. 43. “At the residence of the Commandant (at Clermont) they would have been glad to enlist me in private theatricals.”
. “Correspondance.” by Métra, II. 245 (Nov. 18. 1775).
. Julien. “Histoire du Théâtre de Madame de Pompadour.” These representations last seven years and cost during the winter alone of 1749, 300,000 livres. — De Luynes, X. 45. — Mme. de Hausset, 230.
. Mme. Campan, I. 130. — Cf. with caution, the Mémoires, are suspect, as they have been greatly modified and arranged by Fleury. — De Goncourt, 114.
74. Jules Cousin, " Le Comte de Clermont,” p.21. — Mme. de Genlis, “Mémoires,” chap. 3 and 11. — De Goncourt, 114.
. Bachaumont, III. 343 (February 23, 1768) and IV. 174, III. 232. — “Journal d Collé,” passim. — Collé, Laujon and Poisinet are the principal purveyors for these displays; the only one of merit is “La Verité dans le Vin.” In this piece instead of “Mylord.” there was at first the “bishop of Avranches,” and the piece was thus performed at Villers-Cotterets in the house of the Duc d’Orléans.
. Mme. d’Oberkirk, II. 82. — On the tone of the best society see “Correspondance” by Métra, I. 50, III. 68, and Bezenval (Ed. Barrière) 387 to 394.
. Mme. de Genlis, “Adèle et Théodore,” II. 362.
. George Sand, I. 85. “At my grandmother’s I have found boxes full of couplets, madrigals and biting satires.... I burned some of them so obscene that I would not dare read them through, and these written by abbés I had known to my infancy and by a marquis of the best blood.” Among other examples, toned down, the songs on the Bird and the Shepherdess, may be read in “Correspondance,” by Métra.
Its Barrenness and Artificiality. — Return to Nature and sentiment.
Mere pleasure, in the long run, ceases to gratify, and however agreeable this drawing room life may be, it ends in a certain hollowness. Something is lacking without any one being able to say precisely what that something is; the soul becomes restless, and slowly, aided by authors and artists, it sets about investigating the cause of its uneasiness and the object of its secret longings. Barrenness and artificiality are the two traits of this society, the more marked because it is more complete, and, in this one, pushed to extreme, because it has attained to supreme refinement. In the first place naturalness is excluded from it; everything is arranged and adjusted, — decoration, dress, attitude, tone of voice, words, ideas and even sentiments. “A genuine sentiment is so rare,” said M. de V— , “that, when I leave Versailles, I sometimes stand still in the street to see a dog gnaw a bone." Man, in abandoning himself wholly to society, had withheld no portion of his personality for himself while decorum, clinging to him like so much ivy, had abstracted from him the substance of his being and subverted every principle of activity.
“There was then,” says one who was educated in this style, “a certain way of walking, of sitting down, of saluting, of picking up a glove, of holding a fork, of tendering any article, in short, a complete set of gestures and facial expressions, which children had to be taught at a very early age in order that habit might become a second nature, and this conventionality formed so important an item in the life of men and women in aristocratic circles that the actors of the present day, with all their study, are scarcely able to give us an idea of it.”
Not only was the outward factitious but, again, the inward; there was a certain prescribed mode of feeling and of thinking, of living and of dying. It was impossible to address a man without placing oneself at his orders, or a woman without casting oneself at her feet, Fashion, ‘le bon ton,’ regulated every important or petty proceeding, the manner of making a declaration to a woman and of breaking an engagement, of entering upon and managing a duel, of treating an equal, an inferior and a superior. If any one failed in the slightest degree to conform to this code of universal custom, he is called “a
Among all these social flavorings one is especially abused; one which, unremittingly employed, communicates to all dishes its frigid and piquant relish, I mean insincerity (badinage). Society does not tolerate passion, and in this it exercises its right. One does not enter company to be either vehement or somber; a strained air or one of concentration would appear inconsistent. The mistress of a house is always right in reminding a man that his emotional constraint brings on silence. “Monsieur Such-a-one, you are not amiable to day.” To be always amiable is, accordingly, an obligation, and, through this training, a sensibility that is diffused through innumerable little channels never produces a broad current. “One has a hundred friends, and out of these hundred friends two or three may have some chagrin every day; but one could not award them sympathy for any length of time as, in that event, one would be wanting in consideration for the remaining ninety-seven;" one might sigh for an instant with some one of the ninety-seven, and that would be all. Madame du Deffant, having lost her oldest friend, the President Hénault, that very day goes to sup in a large assemblage: “Alas,” she exclaimed, “he died at six o’clock this evening; otherwise you would not see me here.” Under this constant régime of distractions and diversions there are no longer any profound sentiments; we have nothing but an epidermic exterior; love itself is reduced to “the exchange of two fantasies.”
II.Return to nature and sentiment.
Final trait of the century, an increased sensitivity in the best circles. — Date of its advent. — Its symptoms in art and in literature. — Its dominion in private. — Its affectations. — Its sincerity. — Its delicacy.
It is not that the groundwork of habits becomes different, for these remain equally worldly and dissipated up the last. But fashion authorizes a new affectation, consisting of effusions, reveries, and sensibilities as yet unknown. The point is to return to nature, to admire the country, to delight in the simplicity of rustic manners, to be interested in village people, to be human, to have a heart, to find pleasure in the sweetness and tenderness of natural affections, to be a husband and a father, and still more, to possess a soul, virtues, and religious emotions, to believe in Providence and immortality, to be capable of enthusiasm. One wants to be all this, or at least show an inclination that way. In any event, if the desire does exist it is one the implied condition, that one shall not be too much disturbed in his ordinary pursuits, and that the sensations belonging to the new order of life shall in no respect interfere with the enjoyments of the old one. Accordingly the exaltation which arises is little more than cerebral fermentation, and the idyll is to be almost entirely performed in the drawing-rooms. Behold, then, literature,
Consequently, in all the details of private life, sensibility displays its magniloquence. A small temple to Friendship is erected in a park. A little altar to Benevolence is set up in a private closet. Dresses à la Jean-Jacques-Rousseau are worn “analogous to the principles of that author.” Head-dresses are selected with “puffs au sentiment” in which one may place the portrait of one’s daughter, mother, canary or dog, the whole “garnished with the hair of one’s father or intimate friend." People keep intimate friends for whom “they experience something so warm and so tender that it nearly amounts to a passion” and whom they cannot go three hours a day without seeing. “Every time female companions interchange tender ideas the voice suddenly changes into a pure and languishing tone, each fondly regarding the other with approaching heads and frequently embracing,” and suppressing a yawn a quarter of an hour after, with a nap in concert, because they have no more to say. Enthusiasm becomes an obligation. On the revival of “Le père de famille” there are as many handkerchiefs counted as spectators, and ladies faint away. “It is customary, especially for young women, to be excited, to turn pale, to melt into tears and, generally, to be seriously affected on encountering
The froth of enthusiasm and of fine words nevertheless leaves in the heart a residuum of active benevolence, trustfulness, and even happiness, or, at least, expansiveness and freedom. Wives, for the first time, are seen accompanying their husbands into garrison; mothers desire to nurse their infants, and fathers begin to interest themselves in the education of their children. Simplicity again forms an element of manners. Hair-powder is no longer put on little boys’ heads; many of the seigniors abandon laces, embroideries, red heels and the sword, except when in full dress. People appear in the streets “dressed à la Franklin, in coarse cloth, with a knotty cane and thick shoes." The taste no longer runs on cascades, statues and stiff and pompous decorations; the preference is for the English garden. The queen arranges a village for herself at the Trianon, where, “dressed in a frock of white cambric muslin and a gauze neck-handkerchief, and with a straw hat,” she fishes in the lake and sees her cows milked. Etiquette falls away like the paint scaling off from the skin, disclosing the bright hue of natural emotions. Madame Adelaide takes up a violin and replaces an absent musician to let the peasant girls dance16 The Duchesse de Bourbon goes out early in the morning incognito to bestow alms, and “to see the poor in their garrets.” The Dauphine jumps out of her carriage to assist a wounded post-boy, a peasant knocked down by a stag. The king and the Comte d’Artois help a carter
III. Personality Defects.
The failings of character thus formed. — Adapted to one situation but not to a contrary situation. — Defects of intelligence. — Defects of disposition. — Such a character is disarmed by good-breeding.
The reason is that, the better people have become adapted to a certain situation the less prepared are they for the opposite situation. The habits and faculties that serve them in the previous condition become prejudicial to them in the new one. In acquiring talents adapted to tranquil times they lose those suited to times of agitation, reaching the extreme of feebleness at the same time with the extreme of urbanity. The more polished an aristocracy becomes the weaker it becomes, and when no longer possessing the power to please it not longer possesses the strength to struggle. And yet, in this world, we must struggle if we would live. In humanity, as in nature, empire belongs to force. Every creature that loses the art and energy of self-defense becomes so much more certainly a prey according as its brilliancy, imprudence and even gentleness deliver it over in advance to the gross appetites roaming around it. Where find resistance in characters formed by the habits we have just described? To defend ourselves we must, first of all, look carefully around us, see and foresee, and provide for danger. How could they do this living as they did? Their circle is too narrow and too carefully enclosed. Confined to their castles and mansions they see only those of their own sphere, they hear only the echo of their own ideas, they imagine that there is nothing beyond the public seems to consist of two hundred persons. Moreover, disagreeable truths are not admitted into a drawing-room, especially when of personal import, an idle fancy there becoming a dogma because it becomes conventional. Here, accordingly, we find those who, already deceived by the limitations of their accustomed horizon, fortify their delusion still more by delusions about their fellow men. They comprehend nothing of the vast world, which envelops their little world; they are incapable of entering into the sentiments of a bourgeois, of a villager; they have no conception of the peasant as he is but as they would like him to be. The idyll is in fashion, and no one dares dispute it; any other supposition would be false because it would be disagreeable, and as the drawing rooms have decided that all will go well, all must go well. Never was a delusion more complete and more voluntary. The Duc d’Orléans offers to wager a hundred louis that the States-General will dissolve without accomplishing anything, not even abolishing the lettre-de-cachet.. After the demolition has begun, and yet again after it is finished, they will form opinions no more accurate. They have no idea of social architecture; they know nothing about its materials, its proportions, or its harmonious balance; they have had no hand in it, they
Nevertheless action is necessary, for danger is seizing them by the throat. But the danger is of an ignoble species, while their education has provided them with no arms suitable for warding it off. They have learned how to fence, but not how to box. They are still the sons of those at Fontenoy, who, instead of being the first to fire, courteously raised their hats and addressed their English antagonists, “No, gentlemen, fire yourselves.” Being the slaves of good-breeding they are not free in their movements. Numerous acts, and those the most important, those of a sudden, vigorous and rude stamp, are opposed to the respect a well-bred man entertains for others, or at least to the respect which he owes to himself. They do not consider these allowable among themselves; they do not dream of their being allowed, and, the higher their position the more their rank fetters them. When the royal family sets out for Varennes the accumulated delays by which they are lost are the result of etiquette. Madame de Touzel insists on her place in the carriage to which she is entitled as governess of the Children of France. The king, on arriving, is desirous of conferring the marshal’s baton on M. de Bouillé, and after running to and fro to obtain a baton he is obliged to borrow that of the Duc de Choiseul. The queen cannot dispense with a traveling dressing-case and one has to be made large enough to contain every imaginable implement from a warming-pan to a silver porridge-dish, with other dishes besides; and, as if there were no shifts to be had in Brussels, there had to be a complete outfit in this line for herself and her children. — A fervent devotion, even humanness, the frivolity of the small literary spirit, graceful urbanity, profound ignorance, the lack or rigidity of the comprehension and determination are still greater with the princes than with the nobles. - All are impotent against the wild and roaring outbreak. They have not the physical superiority that can master
. Champfort, 110.
. George Sand, V. 59. “I was rebuked for everything; I never made a movement which was not criticized.”
. “Paris, Versailles, et les provinces,” I. 162. — “The king of Sweden is here; be wears rosettes on his breeches; all is over; he is ridiculous, and a provincial king.” ("Le Gouvernement de Normandie,” by Hippeau, IV. 237, July 4, 1784.
. Stendhal, “Rome, Naples and Florence,” 379. Stated by an English lord.
 Marivaux, “La Petit-Maître corrigé. — Gresset, “Le Méchant.” Crébillon fils, “La Nuit et le Moment,” (especially the scene between the scene between Citandre and Lucinde). — Collé, “La Verité dans le Vin,” (the part of the abbé with the with the présidente). — De Bezenval, 79. (The comte de Frise and Mme. de Blot). “Vie privée du Maréchal de Richelieu,” (scenes with Mme. Michelin). — De Goncourt, 167 to 174.
. Laclos, “Les Liaisons Dangereuses.” Mme. de Merteuil was copied after a Marquise de Grenoble. — Remark the difference between Lovelace and Valmont, one being stimulated by pride and the other by vanity.
. The growth of sensibility is indicated by the following dates: Rousseau, “Sur l’influence des lettres et des arts,” 1749; “Sur l’inégalité,” 1753; “Nouvelle Héloise,” 1759. Greuze, “Le Pére de Famille lisant la Bible,” 1755; “L’Accordée de Village,” 1761. Diderot, “Le fils natural,” 1757; “Le Pére de Famille,” 1758.
. Mme. de Genlis, “Mémoires,” chap. XVII. — George Sand, I. 72. The young Mme. de Francueil, on seeing Rousseaufor the first time, burst into tears.
. This point has been brought out with as much skill as accuracy by Messieurs de Goncourt in “L’Art au dix-huitième siècle,” I. 433- 438.
. The number for August, 1792, contains “Les Rivaux d’eux-mêmes.” — About the same time other pieces are inserted in the “Mercure,” such as “The federal union of Hymen and Cupid,” “Les Jaloux,” “A Pastoral Romance,” “Ode Anacréontique à Mlle. S. D. . . . " etc.
. Mme. de Genlis, “Adéle et Théodore,” I. 312. — De Goncourt, “La Femme an dixhuitième siècle,” 318. — Mme. d’Oberkirk, I. 56. — Description of the puff au sentiment of the Duchesse de Chartres (de Goncourt, 311): “In the background is a woman seated in a chair and holding an infant, which represents the Duc de Valois and his nurse. On the right is a parrot pecking at a cherry, and on the left a little Negro, the duchess’s two pets: the whole is intermingled with locks of hair of all the relations of Mme. de Chartres, the hair of her husband, father and father-in-law.”
. Mme. de Genlis, “Les Dangers du Monde.” I, scène VII; II, scène IV; — “Adèle et Théodore,” I. 312; — “Souvenirs de Félicie,” 199; — Bachaumont, IV, 320.
. Mme. de la Rochejacquelein, “Mémoires.”
. Mme. de Genlis, “Mémoires,” chap. XX. — De Lauzun, 270.
. Mme. d’Oberkirk, II. 35 (1783-1784). Mme. Campan, III. 371. — Mercier, “Tableau de Paris,” passim.
. “Correspondance” by Métra, XVII. 55, (1784).— Mme. d’Oberkirk, II. 234. — “Marie Antoinette,” by d’Arneth and Geffroy, II. 63, 29.
. “Le Gouvernement de Normandie,” by Hippeau, IV. 387 (Letters of June 4, 1789, by an eye-witness).
. Florian, “Ruth”.
. Hippeau, IV. 86 (June 23, 1773), on the representation of “Le Siege de Calais,” at the Comédie Française, at the moment when Mlle. Vestris has pronounced these words:
Le Français dans son prince aime à trouver
Qui, né fils de l’Etat, en devienne le père.
“Long and universal plaudits greeted the actress who had turned in the direction of the Dauphin.” In another place these verses recur:
Quelle leçon pour vous, superbes potentats!
Veillez sur vos sujets dans le rang le plus bas,
Tel, loin de vos regards, dans la misère expire,
Qui quelque jour peut-être, eût sauvé votre empire.
“The Dauphin and the Dauphine in turn applauded the speech. This demonstration of their sensibility was welcomed with new expressions of affection and gratitude.”
. Madame de Genlis, “Souvenirs de Félicie,” 76, 161.
. M. de Montlosier; in the Constituent Assembly, is about the only person familiar with feudal laws.
. “A competent and impartial man who would estimate the chances of the success of the Révolution would find that there are more against it than against the five winning numbers in a lottery; but this is possible, and unfortunately, this time, they all came out” (Duc de Lévis, “Souvenirs,” 328.)
. “Corinne,” by Madame de Staël, the character of the Comte d’Erfeuil. — Malonet, “Mémoires,” II. 297 (a memorable instance of political stupidity).
. Mme. Campan, II. 140, 313. — Duc de Choiseul, “Mémoires.”
. Journal of Dumont d’Urville, commander of the vessel which transported Charles X. into exile in 1830. — See note 4 at the end of the volume.
. Dumouriez, “Mémoires,” III. chap. III. (July 21, 1789).
. 1 “All these fine ladies and gentlemen who knew so well how to bow and courtesy and walk over a carpet, could not take three steps on God’s earth without getting dreadfully fatigued. They could not even open or shut a door; they had not even strength enough to lift a log to put it on the fire; they had to call a servant to draw up a chair for them; they could not come in or go out by themselves. what could they have done with their graces, without their valets to supply the place of hands and feet?” (George Sand, V. 61.)
. When Madame de F- had expressed a clever thing she felt quite proud of it. M- remarked that on uttering something clever about an emetic she was quite surprised that she was not purged. Champfort, 107.
. The following is an example of what armed resistance can accomplish for a man in his own house. “A gentleman of Marseilles, proscribed and living in his country domicile, has provided himself with gun, pistols and saber, and never goes out without this armament, declaring that he will not be taken alive. Nobody dared to execute the order of arrest. (Anne Plumptree, “A Residence of three years in France,” (1802-1805), II. 115.
The composition of the revolutionary spirit. — Scientific acquisition its first element.
On seeing a man with a somewhat feeble constitution, but healthy in appearance and of steady habits, greedily swallow some new kind of cordial and then suddenly fall to the ground, foam at the mouth, act deliriously and writhe in convulsions, we at once surmise that this agreeable beverage contained some dangerous substance; but a delicate analysis is necessary to detect and decompose the poison. The philosophy of the eighteenth century contained poison, and of a kind as potent as it was peculiar; for, not only is it a long historic elaboration, the final and condensed essence of the tendency of the thought of the century, but again its two principal ingredients have this peculiarity, that, separate, they are salutary, and in combination they form a venomous compound.
The accumulation and progress of discoveries in science and in nature. — They serve as a starting-point for the new philosophers.
The first is scientific discovery, admirable on all sides, and beneficent in its nature; it is made up of masses of facts slowly accumulated and then summarily presented, or in rapid succession. For the first time in history the sciences expand and affirm each other to the extent of providing, not, as formerly, under Galileo and Descartes, constructive fragments, or provisional scaffolding, but a definite and demonstrated system of the universe, that of Newton. Around this capital fact, almost all the discoveries of the century, either as complementary or as prolongations, range themselves. In pure mathematics we have the Infinitesimal Calculus discovered simultaneously by Leibnitz and Newton, mechanics reduced by d’Alembert to a single theorem, and that superb collection of theories which, elaborated by the Bernouillis, Euler, Clairaut, d’Alembert, Taylor and Maclaurin, is finally completed at the end of the century by Monge, Lagrange, and Laplace. In astronomy, the series of calculations and observations which, from Newton to Laplace, transforms science into a problem of mechanics, explains and predicts the movements of the planets and of their satellites, indicating the origin and formation of our solar system, and, extending beyond this, through the discoveries of Herschel, affording an insight into the distribution of the stellar archipelagos, and of the grand outlines of celestial architecture. In physics, the decomposition of light and the principles of optics discovered by Newton, the velocity of sound, the form of its undulations, and from Sauveur to Chladni, from Newton to Bernouilli and Lagrange, the experimental laws and leading theorems of Acoustics, the primary laws of the radiation of heat by Newton, Kraft and Lambert, the theory of latent heat by Black, the proportions of caloric by Lavoisier and Laplace, the first true conceptions of the source of fire and heat, the experiments, laws, and means by which Dufay, Nollet, Franklin, and especially Coulomb explain, manipulate and, for the first time, utilize electricity. — In Chemistry, all the foundations of the science: isolated oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen, the composition of water, the theory of combustion, chemical nomenclature, quantitative analysis, the indestructibility of matter, in short, the discoveries of Scheele, Priestley, Cavendish and Stahl, crowned with the clear and concise theory of Lavoisier. — In Mineralogy, the goniometer, the constancy of angles and the primary laws of derivation by Romé de Lisle, and next the discovery of types and the mathematical deduction of secondary forms by Haüy. — In Geology, the verification and results of Newton’s theory, the exact form of the earth, the depression of the poles, the expansion of the equator, the cause and the law of the tides, the primitive fluidity of the planet, the constancy of its internal heat, and then, with Buffon, Desmarets, Hutton and Werner, the aqueous or igneous origin of rocks, the stratifications of the earth, the structure
This vast supply of positive or probable facts, either demonstrated or anticipated, furnishes food, substance and impulse to the intellect of the eighteenth century. Consider the leaders of public opinion, the promoters of the new philosophy: they are all, in various degrees, versed in the physical and natural sciences. Not only are they familiar with theories and authorities, but again they have a personal knowledge of facts and things. Voltaire is among the first to explain the optical and astronomical theories of Newton, and again to make calculations, observations and experiments of his own. He writes memoirs for the Academy of Sciences “On the Measure of Motive Forces,” and “On the Nature and Diffusion of Heat.” He handles Réamur’s thermometer, Newton’s prism, and Muschenbrock’s pyrometer. In his laboratory at Cirey he has all the known apparatus for physics and chemistry. He experiments with his own hand on the reflection of light in space, on the increase of weight in calcified metals, on the renewal of amputated parts of animals, and in the spirit of a true savant, persistently, with constant repetitions, even to the beheading of forty snails and slugs, to verify an assertion made by Spallanzani. - The same curiosity and the same preparation prevails with all imbued with the same spirit. In the other camp, among the Cartesians, about to disappear, Fontenelle is an excellent mathematician, the competent biographer of all eminent men of science, the official secretary and true representative of the Academy of Sciences. In other places, in the Academy of Bordeaux, Montesquieu reads discourses on the mechanism of the echo, and on the use of the renal glands; he dissects frogs, tests the effect of heat and cold on animated tissues, and publishes observations on plants and insects. — Rousseau, the least instructed of all, attends the lectures of the chemist Rouelle, botanizing and appropriating to himself all the elements of human knowledge with which to write his “Emile.” — Diderot taught mathematics and devoured every science and art even to the technical processes of all industries. D’Alembert stands in the first rank of mathematicians. Buffon translated Newton’s theory of flux, and the Vegetable Statics of Hales; he is in turn a metallurgist, optician, geographer, geologist and, last of all, an anatomist. Condillac, to explain the use of signs and the relation of ideas, writes abridgments of arithmetic, algebra, mechanics and astronomy. Maupertuis, Condorcet and Lalande are mathematicians, physicists and astronomers; d’Holbach, Lamettrie and Cabanis are chemists, naturalists physiologists and physicians. — Prophets of a superior or inferior kind, masters or pupils, specialists or simple amateurs, all draw directly or indirectly from the living source that has just burst forth. This is their basis when they begin to teach about Man, what he is, from whence he came, where he is going, what he may become and what he should be. A new point of departure leads to new points of view; so that the idea, which was then entertained of the human being will become completely transformed.
II. Science detached from theology.
Change of the point of view in the science of man. — It is detached from theology and is united with the natural sciences.
Let us suppose a mind thoroughly imbued with these new truths, to be placed on the orbit of Saturn, and let him observe. Amidst this vast and overwhelming space and in these boundless solar archipelagoes, how small is our own sphere, and the earth, what a grain of sand! What multitudes of worlds beyond our own, and, if life exists in them, what combinations are possible other than those of which we are the result! What is life, what is organic substance in the monstrous universe but an indifferent mass, a passing accident, the corruption of a few epidermic particles? And if this be life, what is that humanity which is so small a fragment of it? — Such is Man in nature, an atom, and an ephemeral particle; let this not be lost sight of in our theories concerning his origin, his importance, and his destiny.
“A mite that would consider itself as the center of all things would be grotesque, and therefore it is essential that an insect almost infinitely small should not show conceit almost infinitely great." —
How slow has been the evolution of the globe itself! What myriads of ages between the first cooling of its mass and the beginnings of life! Of what consequence is the turmoil of our ant-hill compared to the geological tragedy in which we have born no part, the strife between fire and water, the thickening of the earth’s crust, formation of the universal sea, the construction and separation of continents! Previous to our historical record what a long history of vegetable and animal existence! What a succession of flora and fauna! What generations of marine organisms in forming the strata of sediment! What generations of plans in forming the deposits of coal! What transformations of climate to drive the pachydermata away from the pole! — And now comes Man, the latest of all, he is like the uppermost bud on the top of a tall ancient tree, flourishing there for a while, but, like the tree, destined to perish after a few seasons, when the increasing and foretold congelation allowing the tree to live shall force the tree to die. He is not alone on the branch; beneath him, around him, on a level with him, other buds shoot forth, born of the same sap; but he must not forget, if he would comprehend his own being, that, along with himself, other lives exist in his vicinity, graduated up to him and issuing from the same trunk. If he is unique he is not isolated, being an animal among other animals; in him and with them, substance, organization and birth, the formation and renewal of the functions, senses and appetites, are similar, while his superior intelligence, like their rudimentary intelligence, has for an indispensable organ a nervous matter whose structure is the same with him as with
* for numbers, forms, and motions,
* for the revolution of the planets and the fall of bodies,
* for the diffusion of light and the radiation of heat,
* for the attractions and repulsion of electricity,
* for chemical combinations, and
* for the birth, equilibrium and dissolution of organic bodies.
They exist for the birth, maintenance, and development of human societies, for the formation, conflict, and direction of ideas, passions and determinations of human individuals. In all this, Man is bound up with nature; hence, if we would comprehend him, we must observe him in her, after her, and like her, with the same independence, the same precautions, and in the same spirit. Through this remark alone the method of the moral sciences is fixed. In history, in psychology, in morals, in politics, the thinkers of the preceding century, Pascal, Bossuet, Descartes, Fenelon, Malebrance, and La Bruyère, all based their thoughts on dogma; It is plain to every one qualified to read them that their base is predetermined. Religion provided them with a complete theory of the moral order of things; according to this theory, latent or exposed, they described Man and accommodated their observations to the preconceived model. The writers of the eighteenth century rejected this method: they dwell on Man, on the observable Man, and on his surroundings; in their eyes, conclusions about the soul, its origin, and its destiny, must come afterwards and depend wholly, not on that which the Revelation provided, but on that which observation does and will provide. The moral sciences are now divorced from theology and attach themselves, as if a prolongation of them, to the physical sciences.
III. The transformation of history.
Voltaire. — Criticism and conceptions of unity. — Montesquieu. — An outline of social laws.
Through the separation from theology and the attachment to natural science the humanities become science. In history, every foundation on which we now build, is laid. Compare Bossuet’s “Discours sur l’histoire universelle,” with Voltaire’s “Essai sur les murs,” and we at once see how new and profound these foundations were. — The critics of religious dogma here establish their fundamental principle: in view of the fact that the laws of nature are universal and permanent it follows that, in the moral world, as in the physical world, there can be no exception from them, and that no arbitrary or foreign force intervenes to disturb the regular scientific procedures, which will provide a sure means of discerning myth from truth. Biblical exegesis is born out of this maxim, and not alone that of Voltaire, but also the critical explanatory methods of the future.  Meanwhile they skeptically examine the annals of all people, carelessly cutting away and suppressing; too hastily, extravagantly, especially where the ancients are concerned, because their historical expedition is simply a scouting trip; but nevertheless with such an overall insight that we may still approve almost all the outlines of their summary chart. The (newly discovered) primitive Man was not a superior being, enlightened from above, but a coarse savage, naked and miserable, slow of growth, sluggish in progress, the most destitute and most needy of all animals, and, on this account, sociable, endowed like the bee and the beaver with an instinct for living in groups, and moreover an imitator like the monkey, but more intelligent, capable of passing by degrees from the language of gesticulation to that of articulation, beginning with a monosyllabic idiom which gradually increases in richness, precision and subtlety. How many centuries are requisite to attain to this primitive language! How many centuries more to the discovery of the most necessary arts, the use of fire, the fabrication of “hatches of silex and jade”, the melting and refining of metals, the domestication of animals, the production and modification of edible plants, the formation of early civilized and durable communities, the discovery of writing, figures and astronomical periods. Only after a dawn of vast and infinite length do we see in Chaldea and in China the commencement of an accurate chronological history. There are five or six of these great independent centers of spontaneous civilization, China, Babylon, ancient Persia, India, Egypt, Phoenicia, and the two American empires. On collecting these fragments together, on reading such of their books as have been preserved, and which travelers bring to us, the five Kings of the Chinese, the Vedas of the Hindus, the Zoroastrians of the ancient Persians, we find that all contain religions, moral theories, philosophies and institutions, as worthy of study as our own. Three of these codes, those of India, China and the Muslims, still at the present time govern
A second principle has to be established to complete the foundations of history. Discovered by Montesquieu it still to-day serves as a constructive support, and, if we resume the work, as if on the substructure of the master’s edifice, it is simply owing to accumulated erudition placing at our disposal more substantial and more abundant materials. In human society all parts are interdependent; no modification of one can take place without effecting proportionate changes in the others. Institutions, laws and customs are not mingled together, as in a heap, through chance or caprice, but connected one with the other through convenience or necessity, as in a harmony. According as authority is in all, in several or in one hand, according as the sovereign admits or rejects laws superior to himself, with intermediary powers below him, everything changes or tends to differ in meaning and in importance:
* public intelligence,
* the form of judgments,
* the nature and order of penalties,
* the condition of women,
* military organization
* and the nature and the extent of taxation.
A multitude of subordinate wheels depend on the great central wheel. For if the clock runs, it is owing to the harmony of its various parts, from which it follows that, on this harmony ceasing, the clock gets out of order. But, besides the principal spring, there are others which, acting on or in combination with it, give to each clock a special character and a peculiar movement. Such, in the first place, is climate, that is to say, the degree of heat or cold, humidity or dryness, with its infinite effects on man’s physical and moral attributes, followed by its influence on political, civil and domestic servitude or freedom. Likewise the soil, according to its fertility, its position and its extent. Likewise the physical régime, according as a people is composed of hunters, shepherds or agriculturists. Likewise the fecundity of the race, and the consequent slow or rapid increase of population, and also the excess in number, now of males and now of females. And finally, likewise, are national character and religion. — All these causes, each added to the other, or each limited by the other, contribute together to form a total result, namely society. Simple or complex, stable or unstable, barbarous or civilized, this society contains within itself its explanations of its being. Strange as a social structure may be, it can be explained; also its institutions, however contradictory. Neither prosperity, nor decline, nor despotism, nor freedom, is the result of a throw of the dice, of luck or an unexpected turn of events caused by rash men. They are conditions we must live with. In any event, it is useful to understand them, either to improve our situation or bear it patiently, sometimes to carry out appropriate reforms, sometimes to renounce impracticable reforms, now to assume the authority necessary for success, and now the prudence making us abstain.
IV. The new psychology.
The transformation of psychology. — Condillac. — The theory of sensation and of signs.
We now reach the core of moral science; the human being in general. The natural history of the mind must be dealt with, and this must be done as we have done the others, by discarding all prejudice and adhering to facts, taking analogy for our guide, beginning with origins and following, step by step, the development by which the infant, the savage, the uncultivated primitive man, is converted into the rational and cultivated man. Let us consider life at the outset, the animal at the lowest degree on the scale, the human being as soon as it is born. The first thing we find is perception, agreeable or disagreeable, and next a want, propensity or desire, and therefore at last, by means of a physiological mechanism, voluntary or involuntary movements, more or less accurate and more or less appropriate and coordinated. And this elementary fact is not
V. The analytical method.
The analytical method. — Its principle. — The conditions requisite to make it productive. — These conditions wanting or inadequate in the 18th century. — The truth and survival of the principle.
Such is the course to be pursued with all the sciences, and especially with the moral and political sciences. To consider in turn each distinct province of human activity, to decompose the leading notions out of which we form our conceptions, those of religion, society and government, those of utility, wealth and exchange, those of justice, right and duty. To revert to manifest facts, to first experiences, to the simple circumstances in which the elements of our ideas are included; to extricate from these the precious lode without omission or mixture; to recompose our idea with these, to define its meaning and determine its value; to substitute for the vague and vulgar notion with which we started out the precise scientific definition we arrive at, and for the impure metal we received the refined metal we recovered, constituted the prevalent method taught by the philosophers under the name of analysis, and which sums up the whole progress of the century. — Up to this point, and not farther, they are right; truth, every truth, is found in observable things, and only from these can it be derived; there is no other pathway leading to discovery.-The operation, undoubtedly, is productive only when the vein is rich, and we possess the means of extracting the ore. To obtain a just notion of government, of religion, of right, of wealth, a man must be a historian beforehand, a jurisconsult and economist, and have gathered up myriad of facts; and, besides all this, he must possess a vast erudition, an experienced and professional perspicacity. If these conditions are only partially complied with, the result will only be a half finished product or a doubtful alloy, a few rough drafts of the sciences, the rudiments of pedagogy as with Rousseau, of political economy with Quesnay, Smith, and Turgot, of linguistics with Des Brosses, and of arithmetical morals and criminal legislation with Bentham. Finally, if none of these conditions are complied with, the same efforts will, in the hands of philosophical amateurs and oratorical charlatans, undoubtedly only produce mischievous compounds and destructive explosions. — Nevertheless good procedure remains good even when ignorant and the impetuous men make a bad use of it; and if we of to day resume the abortive effort of the eighteenth century, it should be within the guidelines they set out.
. “Philosophi naturalis principia,” 1687; “Optics,” 1704.
 See concerning this development Comte’s “Philosophie Positive,” vol. I. — At the beginning of the eighteenth century, mathematical instruments are carried to such perfection as to warrant the belief that all physical phenomena may be analyzed, light, electricity, sound, crystallization, heat, elasticity, cohesion and other effects of molecular forces. — See “Whewell’s History of the Inductive Sciences. II., III.
 The travels of La Condamine in Peru and of Maupertuis in Lapland.
 Buffon, “Théorie de la terre,” 1749; “Epoques de la Nature,” 1788. — “Carte géologique de l’Auvergne,” by Desmarets, 1766.
 See a lecture by M. Lacaze-Duthier on Lamarck, “Revue Scientifique,” III. 276-311.
 Buffon, “Histoire Naturelle, II. 340: “All living beings contain a vast quantity of living and active molecules. Vegetal and animal life seem to be only the result of the actions of all the small lives peculiar to each of the active molecules whose life is primitive.” Cf. Diderot, “Revue d’Alembert.”
 “Philosophie de Newton,” 1738, and “Physique,” by Voltaire. — Cf. du Bois-Raymond, “Voltaire physician,” (Revue des Cours Scientifique, V. 539), and Saigey, “la Physique de Voltaire,” — “Had Voltaire,” writes Lord Brougham, “continued to devote himself to experimental physics he would undoubtedly have inscribed his name among those of the greatest discoverers of his age.”
 See his “Langue des Calculs,” and his “Art de Raisonner.”
 For a popular exposition of these ideas see Voltaire, passim, and particularly the “Micromégas” and “Les Oreilles du Comte de Chesterfield.”
 Cf. Buffon, ibid.. I. 31: “Those who imagine a reply with final causes do not reflect that they take the effect for the cause. The relationship which things bear to us having no influence whatever on their origin, moral convenience can never become a physical explanation.” — Voltaire, “Candide”: “When His High Mightiness sends a vessel to Egypt is he in any respect embarrassed about the comfort of the mice that happen to be aboard of it?”
 Buffon, ibid. . “Supplement,” II. 513; IV. ("Epoques de la Nature"), 65, 167. According to his experiments with the cooling of a cannon ball he based the following periods: From the glowing fluid mass of the planet to the fall of rain 35,000 years. From the beginning of life to its actual condition 40,000 years. From its actual condition to the entire congealing of it and the extinction of life 93,000 years. He gives these figures simply as the minima. We now know that they are much too limited.
 Buffon, Histoire Naturelle, ib. I. 12: “The first truth derived from this patient investigation of nature is, perhaps, a humiliating truth for man, that of taking his place in the order of animals.”
 Voltaire, “Philosophie, Du principe d’action:” “All beings, without exception, are subject to invariable laws.”
 Voltaire “Essay sur les Murs,”, chap. CXLVII., the summary; “The intelligent reader readily perceives that he must believe only in those great events which appear plausible, and view with pity the fables with which fanaticism, romantic taste and credulity have at all times filled the world.”
 Note this expression,” exegetical methods”. (Chambers defines an exegetist as one who interprets or expounds.) Taine refers to methods which should allow the Jacobins, socialists, communists, and other ideologists to, from an irrefutable idea or expression, to deduct, infer, conclude and draw firm and, to them, irrefutable conclusions. (Sr.)
 “Traité de Metaphysique,” chap. I. “Having fallen on this little heap of mud, and with no more idea of man than man has of the inhabitants of Mars and Jupiter, I set foot on the shore of the ocean of the country of Caffraria and at once began to search for a man. I encounter monkeys, elephants and Negroes, with gleams of imperfect intelligence, etc” — The new method is here clearly apparent.
 “Introduction à l’Essay sur les Murs: Des Sauvages.” — Buffon, in “Epoques de la nature,” the seventh epoch, precedes Darwin in his ideas on the modifications of the useful species of animals.
 Voltaire, “Remarques de l’essay sur les Murs.” “We may speak of this people in connection with theology but they are not entitled to a prominent place in history.” — “Entretien entre A, B, C,” the seventh.
 Franklin defined man as a maker of tools.
 Condorcet, “Esquisse d’un tableau historique des progrès de l’esprit humain.”
 Montesquieu: “Esprit des Lois,” preface. “I, at first, examined men, thinking that, in this infinite diversity of laws and customs, they were not wholly governed by their fancies. I brought principles to bear and I found special cases yielding to them as if naturally, the histories of all nations being simply the result of these, each special law being connected with another law or depending on some general law.”
 Pinel, (1791), Esquirol (1838), on mental diseases. — Prochaska, Legallois (1812) and then Flourens for vivisection. — Hartley and James Mill at the end of the eighteenth century follow Condillac on the same psychological road; all contemporary psychologists have entered upon it. (Wundt, Helmholz, Fechner, in Germany, Bain, Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer and Carpenter, in England).
 Condillac, passim, and especially in his last two works the “Logique,” and the “Langue des Calculs.”
This grand and magnificent system of new truths resembles a tower of which the first story, quickly finished, at once becomes accessible to the public. The public ascends the structure and is requested by its constructors to look about, not at the sky and at surrounding space, but right before it, towards the ground, so that it may at last become familiar with the country in which it lives. Certainly, the point of view is good, and the advice is well thought-out. The conclusion that the public will have an accurate view is not warranted, for the state of its eyes must be examined, to ascertain whether it is near or far-sighted, or if the retina naturally, or through habit, is sensitive to certain colors. In the same way the French of the eighteenth century must be considered, the structure of their inward vision, that is to say, the fixed form of their intelligence which they are bringing with them, unknowingly and unwillingly, up upon their new tower.
I. Through colored glasses.
Its signs, duration and power. — Its origin and public supporters. - Its vocabulary, grammar and style. — Its method, merits and defects.
This fixed intelligence consists of the classic spirit, which applied to the scientific acquisitions of the period, produces the philosophy of the century and the doctrines of the Revolution. Various signs denote its presence, and notably its oratorical, regular and correct style, wholly consisting of ready-made phrases and contiguous ideas. It lasts two centuries, from Malherbe and Balzac to Delille and de Fontanes, and during this long period, no man of intellect, save two or three, and then only in private memoirs, as in the case of Saint-Simon, also in familiar letters like those of the marquis and bailly de Mirabeau, either dares or can withdraw himself from its empire. Far from disappearing with the ancient regime it forms the matrix out of which every discourse and document issues, even the phrases and vocabulary of the Revolution. Now, what is more effective than a ready-made mold, enforced, accepted, in which by virtue of natural tendency, of tradition and of education, everyone can enclose their thinking? This one, accordingly, is a historic force, and of the highest order; to understand it let us consider how it came into being. — It appeared together with the regular monarchy and polite conversation, and it accompanies these, not accidentally, but naturally and automatically. For it is product of the new society, of the new regime and its customs: I mean of an aristocracy left idle due the encroaching monarchy, of people well born and well educated who, withdrawn from public activity, fall back on conversation and pass their leisure sampling the different serious or refined pleasures of the intellect. Eventually, they have no other role nor interest than to talk, to listen, to entertain themselves agreeably and with ease, on all subjects, grave or gay, which may interest men or even women of society, that’s their great affair. In the seventeenth century they are called “les honnêtes gens" and from now on a writer, even the most abstract, addresses himself to them. “A gentleman,” says Descartes, “need not have read all books nor have studiously acquired all that is taught in the schools;” and he entitles his last treatise, “A search for Truth according to natural light, which alone, without aid of Religion or Philosophy, determines the truths a gentleman should possess on all matters forming the subjects of his thoughts." In short, from one end of his philosophy to the other, the only qualification he demands of his readers is “natural good sense” added to the common stock of experience acquired by contact with the world. — As these make up the audience they are likewise the judges. “One must study the taste of the court,” says Molière, “for in no place are verdicts more just . . . With simple common sense and intercourse
This is immediately evident in its style and language. Between Amyot, Rabelais and Montaigne on the one hand, and Châteaubriand, Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac on the other, classic French comes into being and dies. From the very first it is described at the language of “honest people.” It is fashioned not merely for them, but by them, and Vaugelas, their secretary, devotes himself for thirty years to the registry of decisions according to the usages only of good society. Hence, throughout, both in vocabulary and in grammar, the language is refashioned over and over again, according to the cast of their intellects, which is the prevailing intellect. —
In the first place the vocabulary is diminished:
* Most of the words specially employed on erudite and technical subjects, expressions that are too Greek or too Latin, terms peculiar to the schools, to science, to occupations, to the household, are excluded from discourse;
* those too closely denoting a particular occupation or profession are not considered proper in general conversation.
* A vast number of picturesque and expressive words are dropped, all that are crude, gaulois or naifs, all that are local and provincial, or personal and made-up, all familiar and proverbial locutions, many brusque, familiar and frank turns of thought, every haphazard, telling metaphor, almost every description of impulsive and dexterous utterance throwing a flash of light into the imagination and bringing into view the precise, colored and complete form, but of which a too vivid impression would run counter to the proprieties of polite conversation.
“One improper word,” said Vaugelas, “is all that is necessary to bring a person in society into contempt,”
and, on the eve of the Revolution, an objectionable term denounced by Madame de Luxembourg still consigns a man to the rank of “espèces,” because correct expression is ever an element of good manners. — Language, through this constant scratching, is attenuated and becomes colorless: Vaugelas estimates that one-half of the phrases and terms employed by Amyot are set aside. With the exception of La Fontaine, an isolated and spontaneous genius, who reopens the old sources, and La Bruyère, a bold seeker, who opens a fresh source, and Voltaire an incarnate demon who, in his anonymous and pseudonymous writings, gives the rein to the violent, crude expressions of his inspiration, the terms which are most appropriate fall into desuetude. One day, Gresset, in a discourse at the Academy, dares utter four or five of these, relating, I believe, to carriages and head-dresses, whereupon murmurs at once burst forth. During his long retreat he had become provincial and lost the touch. — By degrees, discourses are composed of “general expressions” only. These are even employed, in accordance with Buffon’s precept, to designate concrete objects. They are more in conformity with the polished courtesy which smoothes over, appeases, and avoids rough or familiar expressions, to which some views appear gross or rude unless partly hidden by a veil. This makes it easier for the superficial listener; prevailing terms alone will immediately arouse current and common ideas; they are intelligible to every man from the single fact that he belongs to the drawing-room; special terms, on the contrary, demand an effort of the memory or of the imagination. Suppose that, in relation to Franks or to savages, I should mention “a battle-ax,” which would be at once understood; should I mention a “tomahawk,” or a “francisque," many would imagine that I was speaking Teuton or Iroquois. In this respect the more fashionable and refined the style, the more punctilious the effort. Every appropriate term is banished from poetry; if one happens to enter the mind it must be evaded or replaced by a paraphrase. An eighteenth century poet can hardly permit himself to employ more than one-third of the dictionary, poetic language at last becomes so restricted as to compel a man with anything to say not to express himself in verse.
On the other hand the more you prune the more you thin out. Reduced to a select vocabulary the Frenchman deals with fewer subjects, but he describes them more agreeably and more clearly. “Courtesy, accuracy”, (Urbanité, exactitude!), these two words, born at the same time with the French Academy, describes in a nutshell the reform of which it is the tool, and which the drawing-room, by it, and alongside of it, imposes on the public. Grand seigniors in retirement, and unoccupied fine ladies, enjoy the examination of the subtleties of words for the purpose of composing maxims, definitions and characters. With admirable scrupulousness and infinitely delicate tact, writers and people society apply themselves to weighing each word and each phrase in order to fix its sense, to measure its force and bearing, to determine its affinities, use and connections This work of precision is carried on from the earliest academicians, Vaugelas, Chapelain and Conrart, to the end of the classic epoch, in the Synonymes by Bauzée and by Girard, in the Remarque by Duclos, in the Commentaire by Voltaire on Corneille, in the Lycée by la Harpe, in the efforts, the example, the practice and the authority of the great and the inferior writers of which all are correct. Never did architects, obliged to use ordinary broken highway stones in building, better understand each piece, its dimensions, its shape, its resistance, its possible connections and suitable position. — Once this was learned, the task was to construct with the least trouble and with the utmost solidity; the grammar was consequently changed at the same time and in the same way as the dictionary. Hence no longer permitting the words to reflect the way impressions and emotions were felt; they now had to be regularly and rigorously assigned according to the invariable hierarchy of concepts. The writer may no longer begin his text with the leading figure or the main purpose of his story; the setting is given and the places assigned beforehand. Each part of the discourse has its own place; no omission or transposition is permitted, as was done in the sixteenth century. All parts must be included, each in its definite place: at first the subject of the sentence with its appendices, then the verb, then the object direct, and, finally, the indirect connections. In this way the sentence forms a graduated scaffolding, the substance coming foremost, then the quality, then the modes and varieties of the quality, just as a good architect in the first place poses his foundation, then the building, then the accessories, economically and prudently, with a view to adapt each section of the edifice to the support of the section following after it. No sentence demands any less attention than another, nor is there any in which one may not at every step verify the connection or incoherence of the parts. — The procedure used in arranging a simple sentence also governs that of the period, the paragraph and the series of paragraphs;
It is the organ only of a certain kind of reasoning, la raison raisonnante, that requiring the least preparation for thought, giving itself as little trouble as possible, content with its acquisitions, taking no pains to increase or renew them, incapable of, or unwilling to embrace the plenitude and complexity of the facts of real life. In its purism, in its disdain of terms suited to the occasion, in its avoidance of lively sallies, in the extreme regularity of its developments, the classic style is powerless to fully portray or to record the infinite and varied details of experience. It rejects any description of the outward appearance of reality, the immediate impressions of the eyewitness, the heights and depths of passion, the physiognomy, at once so composite yet absolute personal, of the breathing individual, in short, that unique harmony of countless traits, blended together and animated, which compose not human character in general but one particular personality, and which a Saint-Simon, a Balzac, or a Shakespeare himself could not render if the rich language they used, and which was enhanced by their temerities, did not contribute its subtleties to the multiplied details of their observation. Neither the Bible, nor Homer, nor Dante, nor Shakespeare could be translated with this style. Read Hamlet’s monologue in Voltaire and see what remains of it, an abstract piece of declamation, with about as much of the original in it as there is of Othello in his Orosmane. Look at Homer and then at Fenelon in the island of Calypso; the wild, rocky island, where “gulls and other sea-birds with long wings,” build their nests, becomes in pure French prose an orderly park arranged “for the pleasure of the eye.” In the eighteenth century, contemporary novelists, themselves belonging to the classic epoch, Fielding, Swift, Defoe, Sterne and Richardson, are admitted into France only after excisions and much weakening; their expressions are too free and their scenes are to impressive; their freedom, their coarseness, their peculiarities, would form blemishes; the translator abbreviates, softens, and sometimes, in his preface, apologizes for what he retains. Room is found, in this language, only for a partial lifelikeness, for some of the truth, a scanty portion, and which constant refining daily renders still more scanty. Considered in itself, the classic style is always tempted to accept slight, insubstantial commonplaces for its subject materials. It spins them out, mingles and weaves them together; only a fragile filigree, however, issues from its logical apparatus; we may admire the elegant workmanship; but in practice, the work is of little, none, or negative service.
From these characteristics of style we divine those of the mind for which it serves as a tool. — Two principal operations constitute the activity of the human understanding. — Observing things and events, it receives a more or less complete, profound and exact impression of these; and after this, turning away from them, it analyses its impressions, and classifies, distributes, and more or less skillfully expresses the ideas derived from them. — In the second of these operations the classicist is superior. Obliged to adapt himself to his audience, that is to say, to people of society who are not specialists and yet critical, he necessarily carries to perfection the art of exciting attention and of making himself heard; that is to say, the art of composition and of writing. — With patient industry, and multiplied precautions, he carries the reader along with him by a series of easy rectilinear conceptions, step by step, omitting none, beginning with the lowest and thus ascending to the highest, always progressing with steady and measured peace, securely and agreeably as on a promenade. No interruption or diversion is possible: on either side, along the road, balustrades keep him within bounds, each idea extending into the following one by such an insensible transition, that he involuntarily advances, without stopping or turning aside, until brought to the final truth where he is to be seated. Classic literature throughout bears the imprint of this talent; there is no branch of it into which the qualities of a good discourse do not enter and form a part. — They dominate those sort of works which, in themselves, are only half-literary, but which, by its help, become fully so, transforming manuscripts into fine works of art which their subject-matter would have classified as scientific works, as reports of action, as historical documents, as philosophical treatises, as doctrinal expositions, as sermons, polemics, dissertations and demonstrations. It transforms even dictionaries and operates from Descartes to Condillac, from Bossuet to Buffon and Voltaire, from Pascal to Rousseau and Beaumarchais, in short, becoming prose almost entirely, even in official dispatches, diplomatic and private correspondence, from Madame de Sévigné to Madame du Deffant; including so many perfect letters flowing from the pens of women who were unaware of it . — Such prose is paramount in those works which, in themselves, are literary, but which derive from it an oratorical turn. Not only does it impose a rigid plan, a regular distribution of parts in dramatic works, accurate proportions, suppressions and connections, a sequence and progress, as in a passage of eloquence, but again it tolerates only the most perfect discourse. There is no character that is not an accomplished orator; with Corneille and Racine, with Molière himself, the confidant, the barbarian king, the young cavalier, the drawing room coquette, the valet, all show themselves adepts in the use of language. Never have we
II. Its original deficiency.
Its original deficiency. — Signs of this in the 17th century. — It grows with time and success. — Proofs of this growth in the 18th century. — Serious poetry, the drama, history and romances. — Short-sighted views of man and of human existence.
This excess indicates a deficiency. In the two operations which the human mind performs, the classicist is more successful in the second than in the first. The second, indeed, stands in the way of the first, the obligation of always speaking correctly makes him refrain from saying all that ought to be said. With him the form is more important than abundant contents, the firsthand observations which serve as a living source losing, in the regulated channels to which they are confined, their force, depth and impetuosity. Real poetry, able to convey dream and illusion, cannot be brought forth. Lyric poetry proves abortive, and likewise the epic poem. Nothing sprouts on these distant fields, remote and sublime, where speech unites with music and painting. Never do we hear the involuntary scream of intense torment, the lonely confession of a distraught soul, pouring out his heart to relieve himself. When a creation of characters is imperative, as in dramatic poetry, the classic mold fashions but one kind, that which through education, birth, or impersonation, always speak correctly, in other words, like so many people of high society. No others are portrayed on the stage or elsewhere, from Corneille and Racine to Marivaux and Beaumarchais. So strong is the habit that it imposes itself even on La Fontaine’s animals, on the servants of Molière, on Montesquieu’s Persians, and on the Babylonians, the Indians and the Micromégas of Voltaire. — It must be stated, furthermore, that these characters are only partly real. In real persons two kinds of characteristics may be noted; the first, few in number, which he or she shares with others of their kind and which any reader readily may identify; and the other kind, of which there are a great many, describing only one particular person and these are much more difficult to discover. Classic art concerns itself only with the former; it purposely effaces, neglects or subordinates the latter. It does not build individual persons but generalized characters, a king, a queen,
There is, accordingly, a radical defect in the classic spirit, the defect of its qualities, and which, at first kept within proper bounds, contributes towards the production of its purest master-pieces, but which, in accordance with the universal law, goes on increasing and turns into a vice through the natural effect of age, use, and success. Contracted at the start, it is to become yet more so. In the eighteenth century the description of real life, of a specific person, just as he is in nature and in history, that is to say, an undefined unit, a rich plexus, a complete organism of peculiarities and traits, superposed, entangled and co-ordinated, is improper. The capacity to receive and contain all these is wanting. Whatever can be discarded is cast aside, and to such an extent that nothing is left at last but a condensed extract, an evaporated residuum, an almost empty name, in short, what is called a hollow abstraction. The only characters in the eighteenth century exhibiting any life are the off-hand sketches, made in passing and as if contraband, by Voltaire, Baron de Thundertentronk and Milord Watthen, the lesser figures in his stories, and five or six portraits of secondary rank, Turcaret, Gil Blas, Marianne, Manon Lescaut, Rameau, and Figaro, two or three of the rough sketches of Crébillon the younger and of Collé, all so many works in which sap flows through a familiar knowledge of things, comparable with those of the minor masters in painting, Watteau, Fragonard, Saint-Aubin, Moreau, Lancret, Pater, and Beaudouin, and which, accepted with difficulty, or as a surprise, by the official drawing room are still to subsist after the grander and soberer canvases shall have become moldy through their wearisome exhalations. Everywhere else the sap dries up, and, instead of blooming plants, we encounter only flowers of painted paper. What are all the serious poems, from the “la Henriade” of Voltaire to the “Mois” by Roucher or the “l’Imagination” by Delille, but so many pieces of rhetoric garnished with rhymes? Examine the innumerable tragedies and comedies of which Grimm and Collé gives us mortuary extracts, even the meritorious works of Voltaire and Crébillon, and later, those of authors of repute, Du Belloy, Laharpe, Ducis, and Marie Chénier? Eloquence, art, situations, correct verse, all exist
III. The mathematical method.
The philosophic method in conformity with the Classic Sprit. — Ideology. — Abuse of the mathematical process. — Condillac, Rousseau, Mably, Condorcet, Volney, Sieyès, Cabanis, and de Tracy. — Excesses of simplification and boldness of organization.
The natural process of the classic spirit is to pursue in every research, with the utmost confidence, without either reserve or precaution, the mathematical method: to derive, limit and isolate a few of the simplest generalized notions and then, setting experience aside, comparing them, combining them, and, from the artificial compound thus obtained, by pure reasoning, deduce all the consequences they involve. It is so deeply implanted as to be equally encountered in both centuries, as well with Descartes, Malebranche and the partisans of innate ideas as with the partisans of sensation, of physical needs and of primary instinct, Condillac, Rousseau, Helvétius, and later, Condorcet, Volney, Sieyès, Cabanis and Destutt de Tracy. In vain do the latter assert that they are the followers of Bacon and reject (the theory of) innate ideas; with another starting point than the Cartesians they pursue the same path, and, as with the Cartesians, after borrowing a little, they leave experience behind them. In this vast moral and social world, they only remove the superficial bark from the human tree with its innumerable roots and branches; they are unable to penetrate to or grasp at anything beyond it; their hands cannot contain more. They have no suspicion of anything outside of it; the classic spirit, with limited comprehension, is not far-reaching. To them the bark is the entire tree, and, the operation once completed, they retire, bearing along with them the dry, dead epidermis, never returning to the trunk itself. Through intellectual incapacity and literary pride they omit the characteristic detail, the animating fact, the specific circumstance, the significant, convincing and complete example. Scarcely one of these is found in the “Logique” and in the “Traité des Sensations” by Condillac, in the “Idéologie” by Destutt de Tracy, or in the “Rapports du Physique et du Morale” by Cabanis. Never, with them, are we on the solid
 Voltaire, “Dict. Phil.,” see the articles on Language. “Of all the languages in Europe the French is most generally used because it is the best adapted to conversation. Its character is derived from that of the people who speak it. For more than a hundred and fifty years past, the French have been the most familiar with (good) society and the first to avoid all embarrassment . . . It is a better currency than any other, even if it should lack weight.”
 Hist: honnête homme means gentleman. (Sr.)
 Descartes, ed. Cousin, XI. 333, I. 121, . . . Descartes depreciates “simple knowledge acquired without the aid of reflection, such as languages, history, geography, and, generally, whatever is not based on experience. . . . It is no more the duty of an honest man to know Greek or Latin than to know the Swiss or Breton languages, nor the history of the Romano-Germanic empire any more than of the smallest country in Europe.”
 Molière, “Les Femmes Savantes,” and “La Critique de l’école des femmes.” The parts of Dorante with Lycidas and of Clitandre with Trissotin.
 The learned Huet, (1630-1721), true to the taste of the sixteenth century, describes this change very well from his point of view. “When I entered the world of letters these were still flourishing; great reputations maintained their supremacy. I have seen letters decline and finally reach an almost entire decay. For I scarcely know a person of the present time that one can truly call a savant.” The few Benedictines like Ducange and Mabillon, and later, the academician Fréret, the president Bouhier of Dijon, in short, the veritable erudites exercise no influence.
 Nicole, “Oeuvres morales,” in the second essay on Charity and Self-love, 142.
 Voltaire, “Dialogues,” “L’intendant des menus et l’abbé Grizel,” 129.
 Maury adds with his accustomed coarseness, “We, in the French Academy, looked upon the members of the Academy of Sciences as our valets.” — These valets at that time consisted of Lavoisier, Fourcroy, Lagrange, Laplace, etc. (A narrative by Joseph de Maistre, quote by Sainte-Beuve, “Causeries du lundi,” IV. 283.)
 This description makes me think of the contemporary attitudes pejoratively called “politically correctness.” Thus the drawings-room audience of the 18th century have today been replaced by the “political correct” elite holding sway in teacher training schools, schools of journalism, the media and hence among the television public. The same mechanism which moved the upper class in the 18th century moves it in the 20th century.. (S.R.)
 Today in 1999 we may speak of the TV mold forced by the measured popularity or “ratings"of the programs. (Sr.
 Vaugelas, “Remarques sur la langue française:” “It is the mode of speech of the most sensible portion of the court, as well as the mode of writing of the most sensible authors of the day. It is better to consult women and those who have not studied than those who are very learned in Greek and in Latin.”
 One of the causes of the fall and discredit of the Marquis d’Argenson in the eighteenth century, was his habit of using these.
 Vaugelas, ibid.. “Although we may have eliminated one-half of his phrases and terms we nevertheless obtain in the other half all the riches of which we boast and of which we make a display.” — Compare together a lexicon of two or three writers of the sixteenth century and one of two or three writers of the seventeenth. A brief statement of the results of the comparison is here given. Let any one, with pen in hand, note the differences on a hundred pages of any of these texts, and he will be surprised at it. Take, for examples, two writers of the same category, and of secondary grade, Charron and Nicole.
 For instance, in the article “Ignorance,” in the “Dict. Philosophique.”
 La Harpe, “Cours de Littérature,” ed. Didot. II. 142.
 A battle-axe used by the Franks. — Tr.
 I cite an example haphazard from the “Optimiste” (1788), by Colin d’Harleville. In a certain description, “The scene represents a bosquet filled with odoriferous trees.” — The classic spirit rebels against stating the species of tree, whether lilacs, lindens or hawthorns. — In paintings of landscapes of this era we have the same thing, the trees being generalized, — of no known species.
 This evolution is seen today as well, television having the same effect upon its actors as the 18th century drawing-room. (Sr.)
 See in the “Lycée,” by la Harpe, after the analysis of each piece, his remarks on detail in style.
 The omission of the pronouns, I, he, we, you, they, the article the, and of the verb, especially the verb to be.— Any page of Rabelais, Amyot or Montaigne, suffices to show how numerous and various were the transpositions.
 Vaugelas, ibid . “No language is more inimical to ambiguities and every species of obscurity.”
 See the principal romances of the seventeenth century, the “Roman Bourgeois,” by Furetière, the “Princess de Clèves,” by Madame de Lafayette, the “Clélie,” by Mme. de Scudéry, and even Scarron’s “Roman Comique.” — See Balzac’s letters , and those of Voiture and their correspondents, the “Récit des grands jours d’Auvergne,” by Fléchier, etc. On the oratorical peculiarities of this style cf. Sainte-Beuve, “Port-Royal,” 2nd ed. I. 515.
 Voltaire, ‘Esay sur le poème épique’, “Our nation, regarded by strangers as superficial is, with the pen in its hand, the wisest of all. Method is the dominant quality of all our writers.”
 Milton’s works are built up with 8,000. “Shakespeare, who displayed a greater variety of expression than probably any writer in any language, produced all his plays with about 15,000 words and the Old Testament says all it has to say with 5,642 words.” (Max Müller, “Lectures on the Science of language,” I. 309.) — It would be interesting to place alongside of this Racine’s restricted vocabulary. That of Mme. de Scudery is extremely limited. In the best romance of the XVIIth century, the “Princesse de Clèves,” the number of words is reduced to the minimum. The Dictionary of the old French Academy contains 29,712 words; the Greek Thesaurus, by H. Estienne, contains about 150,000.
 Compare together the translations of the Bible made by de Sacy and Luther; those of Homer by Dacier, Bitaubé and Lecomte de Lisle; those of Herodotus, by Larcher and Courrier, the popular tales of Perrault and those by Grimm, etc.
 See the “Discours académique,” by Racine, on the reception of Thomas Corneille: “In this chaos of dramatic poetry your illustrious brother brought Reason on the stage, but Reason associated with all the pomp and the ornamentation our language is capable of.”
 Voltaire, “Essay sur le poème épique,” 290. “It must be admitted that a Frenchman has more difficulty in writing an epic poem than anybody else. . . . Dare I confess it? Our own is the least poetic of all polished nations. The works in verse the most highly esteemed in France are those of the drama, which must be written in a familiar style approaching conversation.”
 Except in “Pensées,” by Pascal, a few notes dotted down by a morbidly exalted Christian, and which certainly, in the perfect work, would not have been allowed to remain as they are.
 See in the Cabinet of Engravings the theatrical costumes of the middle of the XVIIIth century. — Nothing could be more opposed to the spirit of the classic drama than the parts of Esther and Brittannicus, as they are played nowadays, in the accurate costumes and with scenery derived from late discoveries at Pompeii or Nineveh.
 The formality which this indicates will be understood by those familiar with the use of the pronoun thou in France, denoting intimacy and freedom from restraint in contrast with ceremonious and formal intercourse. — Tr.
 See the parts of the moralizers and reasoners like Cléante in “Tartuffe,” Ariste in “Les Femmes Savantes,” Chrysale in “L’Ecole des Femmes,” etc. See the discussion between the two brothers in “Le Festin de Pierre,” III. 5; the discourse of Ergaste in “L’Ecole des Maris”; that of Eliante, imitated from Lucretius in the “Misanthrope,” II. 5; the portraiture, by Dorine in “Tartuffe,” I. 1. — The portrait of the hypocrite, by Don Juan in “Le Festin de Pierre,” V. 2.
 For instance the parts of Harpagon and Arnolphe.
 We see this in Tartuffe, but only through an expression of Dorine, and not directly. Cf. in Shakespeare, the parts of Coriolanus, Hotspur, Falstaff, Othello, Cleopatra, etc.
 Balzac passed entire days in reading the “Almanach des cent mille adresses,” also in a cab in the streets during the afternoons, examining signs for the purpose of finding suitable names for his characters. This little circumstance shows the difference between two diverse conceptions of mankind.
 “At the present day, whatever may be said, there is no such thing as Frenchmen, Germans, Spaniards, and Englishmen, for all are Europeans. All have the same tastes, the same passions, the same habits, none having obtained a national form through any specific institution.” Rousseau, “Sur le gouvernement de Pologne,” 170.
 Previous to 1750 we find something about these in “Gil-Blas,” and in “Marianne,” (Mme. Dufour the sempstress and her shop). — Unfortunately the Spanish travesty prevents the novels of Lesage from being as instructive as they might be.
 Interesting details are found in the little stories by Diderot as, for instance, “Les deux amis de Bourbonne.” But elsewhere he is a partisan, especially in the “Religieuse,” and conveys a false impression of things.
 “To attain to the truth we have only to fix our attention on the ideas which each one finds within his own mind.” (Malebranche, “Recherche de la Vérité,” book I. ch. 1.) — “Those long chains of reasoning, all simple and easy, which geometers use to arrive at their most difficult demonstrations, suggested to me that all things which come within human knowledge must follow each other in a similar chain.” (Descartes, “Discours de la Methode,” I. 142). — In the seventeenth century In the 17th century constructions a priori were based on ideas, in the 18th century on sensations, but always following the same mathematical method fully displayed in the “Ethics” of Spinoza.
 See especially his memoir: “De l’influence du climat sur les habitudes morales,” vague, and wholly barren of illustrations excepting one citation from Hippocrates.
 These are Sieyès own words. — He adds elsewhere, “There is no more reality in assumed historical truths than in assumed religious truths.” ("Papiers de Sieyès,” the year 1772, according to Sainte-Beuve, “Causeries du lundi,” V. 194). — Descartes and Malebranche already expressed this contempt for history.
 Today, in 1998, we know that Taine was right. The research on animal and human behavior, on animal and human brain circuitry, and the behavior of the cruel human animal during the 20th century, confirmed his views. Still mankind persists in preferring simple solutions and ideas to complex ones. This is the way our brains and our nature as gregarious animals make us think and feel. This our basic human nature make ambitious men able to appeal to and dominate the crowd. (Sr.)
 Condorcet, “Esquisse d’un tableau historique de l’esprit humain,” ninth epoch.
 See the “Tableau historique,” presented to the Institute by Chénier in 1808, showing by its statements that the classic spirit still prevails in all branches of literature. — Cabanis died in 1818, Volney in 1820, de Tracy and Sieyès in 1836, Daunou in 1840. In May, 1845, Saphary and Valette are still professors of Condillac’s philosophy in the two lycées in Paris.
 The world did not heed Taine’s warnings. The leaders and the masses of the Western world were to be seduced by the terrible new ideologies of the 20th century. The ideology of socialism persists making good use of the revised 20th century editions of the Rights of Man, enlarged to cover the physical well-being and standard of living of man, woman, child and animal and in this manner allowing the state to replace all individual responsibility and authority, thus, as Taine saw, dealing a death blow to the family, to individual responsibility and enterprise and to effective local government. (Sr.).
I. Birth of A doctrine, A revelation.
The doctrine, its pretensions, and its character. — A new authority for Reason in the regulation of human affairs. — Government thus far traditional.
Out of the scientific acquisitions thus set forth, elaborated by the spirit we have just described, is born a doctrine, seemingly a revelation, and which, under this title, was to claim the government of human affairs. On the approach of 1789 it is generally admitted that man is living in “a century of light,” in “the age of Reason;” that, previously, the human species was in its infancy and that now it has attained to its “majority.” Truth, finally, is made manifest and, for the first time, its reign on earth is apparent. The right is supreme because it is truth itself. It must direct all things because through its nature it is universal. The philosophy of the eighteenth century, in these two articles of faith, resembles a religion, the Puritanism of the seventeenth century, and Islam in the seventh century. We see the same outburst of faith, hope and enthusiasm, the same spirit of propaganda and of dominion, the same rigidity and intolerance, the same ambition to recast man and to remodel human life according to a preconceived type. The new doctrine is also to have its scholars, its dogmas, its popular catechism, its fanatics, its inquisitors and its martyrs. It is to speak as loudly as those preceding it, as a legitimate authority to which dictatorship belongs by right of birth, and against which rebellion is criminal or insane. It differs, however, from the preceding religions in this respect, that instead of imposing itself in the name of God, it imposes itself in the name of Reason.
The authority, indeed, was a new one. Up to this time, in the control of human actions and opinions, Reason had played but a small and subordinate part. Both the motive and its direction were obtained elsewhere; faith and obedience were an inheritance; a man was a Christian and a subject because he was born Christian and subject. — Surrounding the nascent philosophy and the Reason which enters upon its great investigation, is a system of recognized laws, an established power, a reigning religion; all the stones of this structure hold together and each story is supported by a preceding story. But what does the common cement consist of, and where is the basic foundation? — Who sanctions all these civil regulations which control marriages, testaments, inheritances, contracts, property and persons, these fanciful and often contradictory regulations? In the first place immemorial custom, varying according to the province, according to the title to the soil, according to the quality and condition of the person; and next, the will of the king who caused the custom to be inscribed and who sanctioned it. —
But now the roles are reversed; tradition descends from the upper to the lower ranks, while Reason ascends from the latter to the former. — On the one hand religion and monarchy, through their excesses and misdeeds under Louis XIV, and their laxity and incompetence under Louis XV, demolish piece by piece the basis of hereditary reverence and filial obedience so long serving them as a foundation, and which maintained them aloft above all dispute and free of investigation; hence the authority of tradition insensibly declines and disappears. On the other hand science, through its imposing and multiplied discoveries, erects piece by piece a basis of universal trust and deference, raising itself up from an interesting subject of curiosity to the rank of a public power; hence the authority of Reason augments and occupies its place. — A time comes when, the latter authority having dispossessed the former, the fundamental ideas tradition had reserved to itself fall into the grasp of Reason. Investigation penetrates into the forbidden sanctuary. Instead of deference there is verification, and religion, the state, the law, custom, all the organs, in short, of moral and practical life, become subject to analysis, to be preserved, restored or replaced, according to the prescriptions of the new doctrine.
II. Ancestral tradition and culture.
Origin, nature and value of hereditary prejudice. — How far custom, religion and government are legitimate.
Nothing could be better had the new doctrine been complete, and if Reason, instructed by history, had become critical, and therefore qualified to comprehend the rival she replaced. For then, instead of regarding her as an usurper to be repelled she would have recognized in her an elder sister whose part must be left to her. Hereditary prejudice is a sort of Reason operating unconsciously. It has claims as well as reason, but it is unable to present these; instead of advancing those that are authentic it puts forth the doubtful ones. Its archives are buried; to exhume these it is necessary to make researches of which it is incapable; nevertheless they exist, and history at the present day is bringing them to light. — Careful investigations shows that, like science, it issues from a long accumulation of experiences; a people, after a multitude of gropings and efforts, has discovered that a certain way of living and thinking is the only one adapted to its situation, the most practical and the most salutary, the system or dogma now seeming arbitrary to us being at first a confirmed expedient of public safety. Frequently it is so still; in any event, in its leading features it is indispensable; it may be stated with certainty that, if the leading prejudices of the community should suddenly disappear, Man, deprived of the precious legacy transmitted to him by the wisdom of ages, would at once fall back into a savage condition and again
And when, at length, after religion and custom, we regard the State, that is to say, the armed power possessing both physical force and moral authority, we find for it an almost equally noble origin. It has, in Europe at least, from Russia to Portugal and from Norway to the two Sicilies, in its origin and essence, a military foundation in which heroism constitutes itself the champion of right. Here and there in the chaos of tribes and crumbling societies, some man has arisen who, through his ascendancy, rallies around him a loyal band, driving out intruders, overcoming brigands, re-establishing order, reviving agriculture,
The classic intellect incapable of accepting this point of view. — - The past and present usefulness of tradition are misunderstood. — Reason undertakes to set them aside.
Unfortunately, in the eighteenth century, reason was classic; not only the aptitude but the documents which enable it to comprehend tradition were absent. In the first place, there was no knowledge of history; learning was, due to its dullness and tediousness, refused; learned compilations, vast collections of extracts and the slow work of criticism were held in disdain. Voltaire made fun of the Benedictines. Montesquieu, to ensure the acceptance of his “Esprit des lois,” indulged in wit about laws. Reynal, to give an impetus to his history of commerce in the Indies, welded to it the declamation of Diderot. The Abbé Barthélemy covered over the realities of Greek manners and customs with his literary varnish. Science was expected to be either epigrammatic or oratorical; crude or technical details would have been objectionable to a public composed of people of the good society; correctness of style therefore drove out or falsified those small significant facts which give a peculiar sense and their original relief to ancient personalities. — Even if writers had dared to note them, their sense and bearing would not have been understood. The sympathetic imagination did not exist; people were incapable of going out of themselves, of betaking themselves to distant points of view, of conjecturing the peculiar and violent states of the human brain, the decisive and fruitful moment during which it gives birth to a vigorous creation, a religion destined to rule, a state that is sure to endure. The imagination of Man is limited to personal experiences, and where in their experience, could individuals in this society have found the material which would have allowed them to imagine the convulsions of a delivery? How could minds, as polished and as amiable as these, fully adopt the sentiments of an apostle, of a monk, of a barbarian or feudal founder; see these in the milieu which explains and justifies them; picture to themselves the surrounding crowd, at first souls in despair and haunted by mystic dreams, and next the rude and violent intellects given up to instinct and imagery, thinking with half-visions, their resolve consisting of irresistible impulses? A speculative reasoning of this stamp could not imagine figures like these. To bring them within its rectilinear limits they require to be reduced and made over; the Macbeth of Shakespeare becomes that of Ducis, and the Mahomet of the Koran that of Voltaire. Consequently, as they failed to see souls, they misconceived institutions. The suspicion that truth could have been conveyed only through the medium of legends, that justice could have been established only by force, that religion was obliged to assume the sacerdotal form, that the State necessarily took a military form, and that the Gothic edifice possessed, as well as other structures, its own architecture, proportions, balance of parts, solidity, and even beauty, never entered their heads. — Furthermore, unable to comprehend the past, they could not comprehend
Two stages in this operation. — Voltaire, Montesquieu, the deists and the reformers represent the first one. — What they destroy and what they respect.
In this great undertaking there are two stages. Owing to common sense or timidity many stop half-way. Motivated by passion or logic others go to the end. — A first campaign results in carrying the enemy’s out-works and his frontier fortresses, the philosophical army being led by Voltaire. To combat hereditary prejudice, other prejudices are opposed to it whose empire is as extensive and whose authority is not less recognized. Montesquieu looks at France through the eyes of a Persian, and Voltaire, on his return from England, describes the English, an unknown species. Confronting dogma and the prevailing system of worship, accounts are given, either with open or with disguised irony, of the various Christian sects, the Anglicans, the Quakers, the Presbyterians, the Socinians, those of ancient or of remote people, the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Muslims, and Guebers, of the worshippers of Brahma, of the Chinese and of pure idolaters. In relation to established laws and customs, expositions are made, with evident intentions, of other constitutions and other social habits, of despotism, of limited monarchy, of a republic, here the church subject to the state, there the church free of the state, in this country castes, in another polygamy, and, from country to country, from century to century, the diversity, contradiction and antagonism of fundamental customs which, each on its own ground, are all equally consecrated by tradition, all legitimately forming the system of public rights. From now on the charm is broken. Ancient institutions lose their divine prestige; they are simply human works, the fruits of the place and of the moment, and born out of convenience and a covenant. Skepticism enters through all the breaches. With regard to Christianity it at once enters into open hostility, into a bitter and prolonged polemical warfare; for, under the title of a state religion this occupies the ground, censuring free thought, burning writings, exiling, imprisoning or disturbing authors, and everywhere acting as a natural and official adversary. Moreover, by virtue of being an ascetic religion, it condemns not
“Show me a country where it is honest to steal the fruits of my labor, to violate engagements, to lie for injurious purposes, to calumniate, to assassinate, to poison, to be ungrateful to one’s benefactor, to strike one’s father and mother on offering you food”. — “Justice and injustice is the same throughout the universe,”
and, as in the worst community force always, in some respects, is at the service of right, so, in the worst religion, the extravagant dogma always in some fashion proclaims a supreme architect. — Religions and communities, accordingly, disintegrated under the investigating process, disclose at the bottom of the crucible, some residue of truth, others a residue of justice, a small but precious balance, a sort of gold ingot of preserved tradition, purified by Reason, and which little by little, freed from its alloys, elaborated and devoted to all usage, must solely provide the substance of religion and all threads of the social warp.
The second stage, a return to nature. — Diderot, d’Holbach and the materialists. — Theory of animated matter and spontaneous organization. — The moral of animal instinct and self-interest properly understood.
Here begins the second philosophic expedition. It consists of two armies: the first composed of the encyclopedists, some of them skeptics like d’Alembert, others pantheists like Diderot and Lamarck, the second open atheists and materialists like d’Holbach, Lamettrie and Helvétius, and later Condorcet, Lalande and Volney, all different and independent of each other, but unanimous in regarding tradition as the common enemy. As a result of prolonged hostilities the parties become increasingly exasperated and feel a desire to be master of everything, to push the adversary to the wall, to drive him out of all his positions. They refuse to admit that Reason and tradition can occupy and defend the same citadel together; as soon as one enters the other must depart; henceforth one prejudice is established against another prejudice. — In fact, Voltaire, “the patriarch, does not desire to abandon his redeeming and avenging God;" let us tolerate in him this remnant of superstition on account of his great services; let us nevertheless examine this phantom in man which he regards with infantile vision. We admit it into our minds through faith, and faith is always suspicious. It is forged by ignorance, fear, and imagination, which are all deceptive powers. At first it was simply the fetish of savages; in vain have we striven to purify and aggrandize it; its origin is always apparent; its history is that of a hereditary dream which, arising in a rude and doting brain, prolongs itself from generation to generation, and still lasts in the healthy and cultivated brain. Voltaire wanted that this dream should be true because, otherwise, he could not explain the admirable order of the world. Since a watch suggests a watchmaker he had firstly to prove that the world is a watch and, then see if the half-finished arrangement, such as it is and which we have observed, could not better be explained by a simpler theory, more in conformity with experience, that of eternal matter in which motion is eternal. Mobile and
“Pain and pleasure,” says Helvétius, “form the only springs of the moral universe, while the sentiment of vanity is the only basis on which we can lay the foundations of moral usefulness. What motive but that of self-interest could lead a man to perform a generous action? He can as little love good for the sake of good as evil for the sake of evil." “The principles of natural law, say the disciples, are reduced to one unique and fundamental principle, self-preservation." “To preserve oneself, to be happy,” is instinct, right and duty. “Oh, yea," says nature, “who, through the impulsion I bestow on you, tending towards happiness at every moment of your being, resist not my sovereign law, strive for your own felicity, enjoy fearlessly and be happy!” But to be happy, contribute to the happiness of others; if you wish them to be useful to you, be useful to them. “every man, from birth to death, has need of mankind.” “Live then for them, that they may live for you.” “Be good, because goodness links hearts together; be gentle, because gentleness wins affection; be modest, because pride repels beings full of their self-importance. . . . Be citizens, because your country is necessary to ensure your safety and well-being. Defend your country, because it renders you happy and contains your possessions.”
Virtue thus is simply egotism furnished with a telescope; man has no other reason for doing good but the fear of doing himself harm, while self-devotion consists of self-interest.
One goes fast and far on this road. When the sole law for each person is to be happy, each wishes to be so immediately and in his own way; the herd of appetites is let loose, rushing ahead and breaking down all barriers. And the more readily because it has been demonstrated to them that every barrier is an evil, invented by cunning and malicious shepherds, the better to milk and shear them:
“The state of society is a state of warfare of the sovereign against all, and of each member against the rest. . . We see on the face of the globe only incapable, unjust sovereigns, enervated by luxury, corrupted by flattery, depraved through unpunished license, and without talent, morals, or good qualities. . . . Man is wicked not because he is wicked, but because he has been made so."-"Would you know the story, in brief, of almost all our wretchedness? Here it is. There existed the natural man, and into this man was introduced an artificial man, whereupon a civil war arose within him, lasting through life.  . . If you propose to become a tyrant over him, . . . do your best to poison him with a theory of morals against nature; impose every kind of fetter on him; embarrass his movements with a thousand obstacles; place phantoms around him to frighten him. . . . Would you see him happy and free? Do not meddle with his affairs . . . Remain convinced of this, (wrote Diderot) that these wise legislators have formed and shaped you as they have done, not for your benefit, but for their own. I appeal to every civil, religious, and political institution; examine these closely, and, if I am not mistaken, you will find the human species, century after century, subject to a yoke which a mere handful of knaves chose to impose on it.... Be wary of him who seeks to establish order; to order is to obtain the mastery of others by giving them trouble.”
There nothing any more to be ashamed of; the passions are good, and if the herd would eat freely, its first care must be to trample under its wooden shoes the mitered and crowned animals who keep it in the fold for their own advantage.
Rousseau and the spiritualists. — The original goodness of man. — The mistake committed by civilization. — The injustice of property and of society.
A return to nature, meaning by this the abolition of society, is the war-cry of the whole encyclopedic battalion. The same shout is heard in another quarter, coming the battalion of Rousseau and the socialists who, in their turn, march up to the assault of the established régime. The mining and the sapping of the walls practiced by the latter seems less extensive, but are nevertheless more effective, and the destructive machinery it employs consists of a new conception of human nature. This Rousseau has drawn exclusively from the spectacle in his own
“If I had fallen into the hands of a better master....I should have been a good Christian, a good father, a good friend, a good workman, a good man in all things.”
The wrong is thus all on the side of society. — In the same way, with Man in general, his nature is good.
“His first impulses are always right..... The fundamental principle of all moral questions which I have argued in all my writings, is that Man is naturally good, and loving justice and order..... ‘Emile,’ especially, is a treatise on the natural goodness of Man, intended to show how vice and error, foreign to his constitution, gradually find their way into it from without and insensibly change him.....Nature created Man happy and good, while society has depraved him and made him miserable."
Imagine him divested of his factitious habits, of his superadded necessities, of his false prejudices; put aside systems, study your own heart, listen to the inward dictates of feeling, let yourself be guided by the light of instinct and of conscience, and you will again find the first Adam, like an incorruptible marble statue that has fallen into a marsh, a long time lost under a crust of slime and mud, but which, released from its foul covering, may be replaced on its pedestal in the completeness of its form and in the perfect purity of its whiteness.
Around this central idea a reform occurs in the spiritualistic doctrine. — A being so noble cannot possibly consist of a simple collection of organs; he is something more than mere matter; the impression he derives from his senses do not constitute his full being.
“I am not merely a sensitive and passive being, but an active and intelligent being, and, whatever philosophy may say, I dare claim the honor of thinking.”
And better still, this thinking principle, in Man, at least, is of a superior kind.
“Show me another animal on the globe capable of producing fire and of admiring the sun. What? I who am able to observe, to comprehend beings and their associations; who can appreciate order, beauty and virtue; who can contemplate the universe and exalt myself to the hand which controls it; who can love the good and do good, should I compare myself to brutes!” Man is free, capable of deciding between two actions, and therefore the creator of his actions ; he is accordingly a first and original cause, “an immaterial substance,” distinct from the body, a soul hampered by the body and which may survive the body. — This immortal soul imprisoned within the flesh has conscience for its organ. “O Conscience, divine instinct, immortal and celestial voice, unfailing guide of an ignorant and finite but free and intelligent being, infallible judge between good and evil, and rendering Man similar to God, Thou foremost the superiority of his nature!”
Alongside of vanity, by which we subordinate everything to ourselves, there is a love of order by which we subordinate ourselves to the whole. Alongside of egoism, by which Man seeks happiness even at the expense of others, is sympathy, by which he seeks the happiness of others even at the expense of his own. Personal enjoyment does not suffice him; he still needs tranquillity of conscience and the effusions
" Who would want to pass a lifetime in sterile observation, if they, apart from their duties and nature’s demands, had had to bestow their time on their country, on the unfortunate and on their friends!” — Of what use are the fine arts? They serve only as public flattery of dominant passions. “The more pleasing and the more perfect the drama, the more baneful its influence;” the theater, even with Molière, is a school of bad morals, “inasmuch as it excites deceitful souls to ridicule, in the name of comedy, the candor of artless people.” Tragedy, said to be moralizing, wastes in counterfeit effusions the little virtue that still remains. " When a man has been admiring the noble feats in the fables what more is expected of him? After paying homage to virtue is he not discharged from all that he owes to it? What more would they have him do? Must he practice it himself? He has no part to play, he is not a comedian.” — The sciences, the fine arts, the arts of luxury, philosophy, literature, all this serve only to effeminate and distract the mind; all that is only made for the small crowd of brilliant and noisy insects buzzing around the summits of society and sucking away all public substance. — As regards the sciences, but one is important, that of our duties, and, without so many subtleties and so much study, our innermost conscience suffice to show us the way. — As regards the arts and the skills, only those should be tolerated which, ministering to our prime necessities, provide us with bread to feed
If civilization is bad, society is worse.  For this could not have been established except by destroying primitive equality, while its two principal institutions, property and government, are encroachments.
“He who first enclosed a plot of ground, and who took it into his to say this belongs to me, and who found people simple enough to believe him, was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, what wars, what murders, what misery and what horrors would have been spared the human race if he who, pulling up the landmark and filling up the ditch, had cried out to his fellows: Be wary of that impostor; you are lost if you forget that no one has a right to the land and that its fruits are the property of all !” — The first ownership was a robbery by which an individual abstracted from the community a portion of the public domain. Nothing could justify the outrage, nothing added by him to the soil, neither his industry, nor his trouble, nor his valor. “In vain may he assert that he built this wall, and acquired this land by his labor. Who marked it out for him, one might ask, and how do you come to be paid for labor which was never imposed on you? Are you not aware that a multitude of your brethren are suffering and perishing with want because you have too much, and that the express and unanimous consent of the whole human species is requisite before appropriating to yourself more than your share of the common subsistence?” —
Underneath this theory we recognize the personal attitude, the grudge of the poor embittered commoner, who, on entering society, finds the places all taken, and who is incapable of creating one for himself; who, in his confessions, marks the day when he ceased to feel hungry; who, for lack of something better, lives in concubinage with a serving-woman and places his five children in an orphanage; who is in turn servant, clerk, vagabond, teacher and copyist, always on the look-out, using his wits to maintain his independence, disgusted with the contrast between what he is outwardly and what he feels himself inwardly, avoiding envy only by disparagement, and preserving in the folds of his heart an old grudge “against the rich and the fortunate in this world as if they were so at his expense, as if their assumed happiness had been an infringement on his happiness.”  — Not only is there injustice in the origin of property but again there is injustice in the power it secures to itself, the wrong increasing like a canker under the partiality of law.
“Are not all the advantages of society for the rich and for the powerful? Do they not absorb to themselves all lucrative positions? Is not the public authority wholly in their interest? If a man of position robs his creditors or commits other offenses is he not certain of impunity? Are not the blows he bestows, his violent assaults, the murders and the assassinations he is guilty of, matters that are hushed up and forgotten in a few months? — Let this same man be robbed and the entire police set to work, and woe to the poor innocents they suspect! — Has he to pass a dangerous place, escorts overrun the country.-If the axle of his coach breaks down everybody runs to help him. — Is a noise made at his gate, a word from him and all is silent. — Does the crowd annoy him, he makes a sign and order reigns. — Does a carter chance to cross his path, his attendants are ready to knock him down, while fifty honest pedestrians might be crushed rather than delaying a rascal in his carriage. — All these considerations do not cost him a penny.; they are a rich man’s entitlements and not the price for being rich. — What a different picture of the poor ! The more humanity owes them the more it refuses them. All doors are closed to them even when they have the right to have them opened, and if they sometimes obtain justice they have more trouble than others in obtaining favors. If there is statute labor to be carried out, a militia to raise, the poor are the most eligible. It always bears burdens from which its wealthier neighbor with influence secures exemption. At the least accident to a poor man everybody abandons him. Let his cart topple over and I regard him as fortunate if he escapes the insults of the smart companions of a young duke passing by. In a word all assistance free of charge is withheld from him in time of need, precisely because he cannot pay for it. I regard him as a lost man if he is so unfortunate as to be honest and have a pretty daughter and a powerful neighbor. — Let us sum up in a few words the social pact of the two estates:
You need me because I am rich and you are poor: let us then make an agreement together. I will allow you the honor of serving me on condition that you give me the little that remains to you for the trouble I have in governing you.”
This shows the spirit, the aim and the effect of political society. — At the start, according to Rousseau, it consisted of an unfair bargain, made by an adroit rich man with a poor dupe, “providing new fetters for the weak and fresh power for the rich,” and, under the title of legitimate property, consecrating the usurpation of the soil. — To day the contract is still more unjust " by means of which a child may govern an old man, a fool lead the wise, and a handful of people live in abundance whilst a famished multitude lack the necessities for life.” It is the nature of inequality to grow; hence the authority of some increases along with the dependence of the rest, so that the two conditions, having at last reached their extremes, the hereditary and perpetual objection of the people seems to be a divine right equally with the hereditary and perpetual despotism of the king. — This is the present situation and, any change, will be for the worse. “For, the occupation of all kings, or of those charged with their functions, consists wholly of two objects, to extend their sway abroad and to render it more absolute at home.” When they plead some other cause it is only a pretext. “The terms public good, happiness of subjects, the glory of the nation, so heavily employed in government announcements, never denote other than disastrous commands, and the people shudder beforehand when its masters allude to their paternal solicitude.” — However, this fatal point once reached, “the contract with the government is dissolved; the despot is master only while remaining the most powerful, and, as soon as he can be expelled, it is useless for him to cry out against violence.” Because right can only exist through consent, and no consent nor right can exist between master and slave.
Whether between one man and another man, or between one man and a people, the following is an absurd address: ’ I make an agreement with you wholly at your expense and to my advantage which I shall respect as long as I please and which you shall respect as long as it pleases me.’ " —
Only madmen may sign such a treaty, but, as madmen, they are not in a condition to negotiate and their signature is not binding. Only the vanquished on the ground, with swords pointed at their throats, may accept such conditions but, being under constraint, their promise is null and void. Madmen and the conquered may for a thousand years have bound over all subsequent generations, but a contract for a minor is not a contract for an adult, and on the child arriving at the age of Reason he belongs to himself. We at last have become adults, and we have only to make use of our rights to reduce the pretensions of this self-styled authority to their just value. It has power on its side and nothing more. But “a pistol in the hand of a brigand is also power,” but do you think that I should be morally obliged to give him my purse? — I obey only compelled by force and I will have my purse back as soon as I can take his pistol away from him.
The lost children of the philosophic party. — Naigeon, Sylvain Maréchal, Mably, Morelly. — The entire discredit of traditions and institutions derived from it.
We stop here. It is pointless to follow the lost children of the party, Naigeon and Sylvain Maréchal, Mably and Morelly, the fanatics that set atheism up as an obligatory dogma and a superior duty; the socialists who, to suppress egoism, propose a community of property, and who found a republic in which any man that proposes to re-establish “detestable ownership” shall be declared an enemy of humanity, treated as a “raging maniac” and shut up in a dungeon for life. It is sufficient to have studied the operations of large armies and of great campaigns. — With different gadgets and opposite tactics, the various attacks have all had the same results, all the institutions have been undermined from below. The governing ideology has withdrawn all authority from custom, from religion, from the State. Not only is it assumed that tradition in itself is false, but again that it is harmful through its works, that it builds up injustice on error, and that by rendering man blind it leads him to oppress. Henceforth it is outlawed. Let this “loathsome thing” with its supporters be crushed out. It is the great evil of the human species, and, when suppressed, only goodness will remain.
“The time will then come when the sun will shine only on free men recognizing no other master than Reason; when tyrants and slaves, and priests with their senseless or hypocritical instruments will exist only in history and on the stage; when attention will no longer be bestowed on them except to pity their victims and their dupes, keeping oneself vigilant and useful through horror of their excesses, and able to recognize and extinguish by the force of Reason the first germs of superstition and of tyranny, should they ever venture to reappear.”
The millennium is dawning and it is once more Reason, which should set it up. In this way we shall owe everything to its salutary authority, the foundation of the new order of things as well as the destruction of the old one.
 “Discours de la Methode.”
This is evident with Descartes in the second step he takes. (The theory of pure spirit, the idea of God, the proof of his existence, the veracity of our intelligence demonstrated the veracity of God, etc.)
 See Pascal, “Pensées” (on the origin of property and rank). The “Provinciales” (on homicide and the right to kill). — Nicole, “Deuxième traité de la charité, et de l’amour-propre” (on the natural man and the object of society). Bossuet, “Politique tirée de l’Ecriture sainte.” La Bruyère, “Des Esprits forts.”
 Cf. Sir. John Lubbock, “Origine de la Civilisation.” — Gerand-Teulon, “Les Origines de la famille.”
 The principle of caste in India; we see this in the contrast between the Aryans and the aborigines, the Soudras and the Pariahs.
 In accordance with this principle the inhabitants of the Sandwich Islands passed a law forbidding the sale of liquor to the natives and allowing it to Europeans. (De Varigny, “Quatorze ans aux iles Sandwich.”)
 Cf. Le Play, “De l’Organization de la famille,” (the history of a domain in the Pyrenees.)
 See, especially, in Brahmin literature the great metaphysical poems and the Puranas.
 Montaigne (1533-92) apparently also had ’sympathetic imagination’ when he wrote: “I am most tenderly symphathetic towards the afflictions of others,” ("On Cruelty"). (Sr.)
 Voltaire, “Dic. Phil.” the article on Punishments.
 “Resumé des cahiers,” by Prud’homme, preface, 1789.
 Voltaire, Dialogues, Entretiens entre A. B. C.
 Voltaire, “Dict.Phil.,” the article on Religion. “If there is a hamlet to be governed it must have a religion.”
 “Le rêve de d’Alembert,” by Diderot, passim.
 “If a misanthrope (a hater of mankind) had proposed to himself to injure humanity what could he have invented better than faith in an incomprehensible being, about which men never could come to any agreement, and to which they would attach more importance than to their own existence?” Diderot, “Entretien d’un philosophe avec la Maréchale de .....” (And that is just what our Marxist sociologist, psychologists etc have done in inventing a human being bereft of those emotions which in other animals force them to give in to their maternal, paternal and leadership instincts thereby making them happy in the process.. Sr.)
 Cf. “Catéchisme Universel,” by Saint-Lambert, and the “Loi naturelle ou Catéchisme du citoyen français,” by Volney.
 “Supplément au voyage de Bougainville.”
 Cf. “Mémoires de Mm. D’Epinay,” a conversation with Duclos and Saint-Lambert at the house of Mlle. Quinault. — Rousseau’s “Confessions,” part I, book V. These are the same principles taught by M. de la Tavel to Mme. De Warens.
 “Suite du rêve de d’Alembert.” “Entretien entre Mlls. de Lespinasse et Bordeu.” — “Mémoires de Diderot,” a letter to Mlle. Volant, III. 66.
 Cf. his admirable tales, “Entretiens d’un père avec ses enfants,” and “Le neveu de Rameau.”
 Volney, ibid . “The natural law . . . consists wholly of events whose repetition may be observed through the senses and which create a science as precise and accurate as geometry and mathematics.”
 Helvétius, “De l’Esprit.” passim.
 Volney, ibid. Chap. III. Saint-Lambert, ibid. The first dialogue.
 D’Holbach, “Systeme de la Nature,” II. 408 493.
 D’Holbach, “Système de la nature, " I. 347.
 Diderot, “Supplément au voyage de Bougainville.”
 Diderot, “Les Eleuthéromanes.”
Et ses mains, ourdissant les entrailles
En feraient un cordon pour le dernier des rois.
Brissot: “Necessity being the sole title to property the result is that when a want is satisfied man is no longer a property owner. . . . Two prime necessities are due to the animal constitution, food and waste. . . . May men nourish themselves on their fallen creatures? (Yes for) all beings may justly nourish themselves on any material calculated to supply their wants . . . Man of nature, fulfill your desire, give heed to your cravings, your sole masters and your only guide. Do you feel your veins throbbing with inward fires at the sight of a charming creature? She is yours, your caresses are innocent and your kisses pure. Love alone entitles to enjoyment as hunger is the warrant for property.” (An essay published in 1780, and reprinted in 1782 in the “Bibliothèque du Législateur,” quoted by Roux and Buchez “Histoire parlementaire,” XIII, 431.
 The words of Rousseau himself ("Rousseau juge de Jan-Jacques,” third dialogue, p 193): From whence may the painter and apologist of nature, now so disfigured and so calumniated, derive his model if not from his own heart ?”
 “Confessions,” Book I. p.1, and the end of the fifth book. — First letter to M. de Malesherbes: “I know my great faults, and am profoundly sensible of my vices. Even so I shall die with the conviction that of all the men I have encountered no one was better than myself”. — To Madame B—–, March 16, 1770, he writes: “You have awarded me esteem for my writings; your esteem would be yet greater for my life if it were open to you inspection, and still greater for my heart if it were exposed to your view. Never was there a better one, a heart more tender or more just.... My misfortunes are all due to my virtues.” — To Madame de la Tour, “Whoever is not enthusiastic in my behalf in unworthy of me.”
 Letter to M. de Beaumont. p.24. — Rousseau juge de Jean-Jacques, troisième entretien, 193.
 “Emile,” book I, and the letter to M. de Beaumont, passim.
 Article I. “All Frenchmen shall be virtuous.” Article II. “All Frenchmen shall be happy.” Draft of a constitution found among the papers of Sismondi, at that time in school. (My French dictionary writes: “Sismondi, (Jean Charles Léonard Simonde de) Genève, 1773 — id. 1842, Swiss historian and economist of Italian origin. He was a forerunner of dirigisme and had influenced Marx with his book: “Nouveaux principes d’économie politique.1819. Sr.)
 “Confessions,” part 2, book IX. 368. “I cannot comprehend how any one can converse in a circle. . . . I stammer out a few words, with no meaning in them, as quickly as I can, very glad if they convey no sense. . . . I should be as fond of society as anybody if I were not certain of appearing not merely to disadvantage but wholly different from what I really am.” — Cf. in the “Nouvelle Héloise,” 2nd part, the letter of Saint-Preux on Paris. Also in “Emilie,” the end of book IV.
 “Confessions,” part 2, IX. 361. “I was so weary of drawing-rooms, of jets of water, of bowers, of flower-beds and of those that showed them to me; I was so overwhelmed with pamphlets, harpsichords, games, knots, stupid witticisms, simpering looks, petty story-tellers and heavy suppers, that when I spied out a corner in a hedge, a bush, a barn, a meadow, or when, on passing through a hamlet, I caught the smell of a good parsley omelet . . I sent to the devil all the rouge, frills, flounces and perfumery, and, regretting a plain dinner and common wine, I would gladly have closed the mouth of both the head cook and the butler who forced me to dine when I generally sup, and to sup when a generally go to bed, but, especially the lackeys that envied me every morsel I ate and who, at the risk of my dying with thirst, sold me the drugged wine of their master at ten times the price I would have to pay for a better wine at a tavern.”
 “Discours sur l’influence des sciences et des arts” — The letter to d’Alembert on theatrical performances.
 Does it not read like a declaration of intent for forming a Kibbutz? (Sr.)
 “The high society (La societé) is as natural to the human species as decrepitude to the individual. The people require arts, laws, and governments, as old men require crutches.” See the letter M. Philopolis, p. 248.
 See the discourse on the “Origine de l’Inégalite,” passim.
 “Emile,” book IV. Rousseau’s narrative. P. 13.
 “Discours sur l’économie politique,” 326.
 “Discours sur l’Origine de l’Inégalité,” 178, “Contrat Social,” I. ch. IV.
 Condorcet, “Tableau des progrès de l’esprit humain,” the tenth epoch.
I. Liberty, equality and sovereignty of the people.
The mathematical method. — Definition of man in the abstract. — The social contract. — Independence and equality of the contractors. — All equal before the law and each sharing in the sovereignty.
Consider future society as it appears at this moment to our legislators in their study, and bear in mind that it will soon appear under the same aspect to the legislators of the Assembly. — In their eyes the decisive moment has come. Henceforth two histories are to exist; one, that of the past, the other, that of the future, formerly a history of Man still deprived of his reason, and at present the history of the rational human being. The rule of right is at last to begin. Of all that the past generations have founded and transmitted nothing is legitimate. Overlaying the natural Man they created an artificial Man, either ecclesiastic or laic, noble or commoner, sovereign or subject, proprietor or proletary, ignorant or cultivated, peasant
“a sensitive and rational being who, thus endowed, avoids pain and seeks pleasure,” and therefore aspiring to happiness, namely, a stable condition in which one enjoys greater pleasure than pain," or, again, “a sensitive being capable of forming rational opinions and of acquiring moral ideas."
Anyone (they say)may by himself experience this elementary idea, and can verify it at the first glance. Such is the social unit; let several of these be combined, a thousand, a hundred thousand, a million, twenty-six millions, and you have the French people. Men born at twenty-one years of age, without relations, without a past, without traditions, without a country, are supposed to be assembled for the first time and, for the first time, to treat with each other. In this position, at the moment of contracting together, all are equal: for, as the definition states, the extrinsic and spurious qualities through which alone all differ have been rejected. All are free; for, according to the definition, the unjust thralldom imposed on all by brute force and by hereditary prejudice has been suppressed. — But if all men are equal, no reason exists why, in this contract, any special advantage should be conceded to one more than to another. Accordingly all shall be equal before the law; no person, or family, or class, shall be allowed any privilege; no one shall claim a right of which another might be deprived; no one shall be subject to any duty from another is exempt. — On the other hand, all being free, each enters with a free will along with the group of wills constitute the new community; it is necessary that in the common resolutions he should fully concur. Only on these conditions does he bind himself; he is bound to respect laws only because he has assisted in making them, and to obey magistrates only because he has aided in electing them. Underneath all legitimate authority his consent or his vote must be apparent, while, in the humblest citizen, the most exalted of public powers must recognize a member of their own
The first result. — The theory easily applied. — Confidence in it due to belief in man’s inherent goodness and reasonableness.
Hence, two consequences.-In the first place, a society thus organized is the only just one; for, the reverse of all others, it is not the result of a blind subjection to traditions, but of a contract concluded among equals, examined in open daylight, and assented to in full freedom. The social contract, composed of demonstrated theorems, has the authority of geometry; hence an equal value at all times, in every place, and for every people; it is accordingly rightfully established. Those who put an obstacle in its way are enemies of the human race; whether a government, an aristocracy or a clergy, they must be overthrown. Revolt is simply just defense; in withdrawing ourselves from their hands we only recover what is wrongfully held and which legitimately belongs to us. — In the second place, this social code, as just set forth, once promulgated, is applicable without misconception or resistance; for it is a species of moral geometry, simpler than any other, reduced to first principles, founded on the clearest and most popular notions, and, in four steps, leading to capital truths. The comprehension and application of these truths demand no preparatory study or profound reflection; Reason is enough, and even common sense. Prejudice and selfishness alone might impair the testimony; but never will testimony be wanting in a sound brain and in an upright heart. Explain the rights of man to a laborer or to a peasant and at once he becomes an able politician; teach children the citizen’s catechism and, on leaving school, they comprehend duties and rights as well as the four fundamental principles. — Thereupon hope spreads her wings to the fullest extent, all obstacles seem removed. It is admitted that, of itself, and through its own force, the theory engenders its own application, and that it suffices for men to decree or accept the social compact to acquire suddenly by this act the capacity for comprehending it and the disposition to carry it out.
What a wonderful confidence, at first inexplicable, which assume with regard to man an idea which we no longer hold. Man, indeed, was regarded as essentially good and reasonable. — Rational, that is to say, capable of assenting to a plain obvious principle, of following an ulterior chain of argument, of understanding and accepting the final conclusion, of extracting for himself, on the occasion calling for it, the varied consequences to which it leads: such is the ordinary man in the eyes of the writers of the day; they judged him by themselves. To them the human intellect is their own, the classic intellect. For a hundred and fifty years it ruled in literature, in philosophy, in science, in education, in conversation, by virtue of tradition, of usage and of good taste. No other was tolerated and no other was imagined; and if, within this closed circle, a stranger succeeds in introducing himself, it is on condition of adopting the oratorical idiom which the raison raisonnante imposes on all its guests, on Greeks, Englishmen, barbarians, peasants and savages, however different from each other and however different they may be amongst themselves. In Buffon, the first man, on narrating the first hours of his being, analyses his sensations, emotions and impulses, with as much subtlety as Condillac himself. With Diderot, Otou the Tahitian, with Bernardin de St. Pierre, a semi-savage Hindu and an old colonist of the Ile-de-France, with Rousseau a country vicar, a gardener and a juggler, are all accomplished conversationalists and moralists. In Marmontel and in Florian, in all the literature of inferior rank preceding or accompanying the Revolution, also in the tragic or comic drama, the chief talent of the personage, whoever he may be, whether an uncultivated rustic, tattooed barbarian or naked savage, consists in being able to explain himself, in arguing and in following an abstract discourse with intelligence and attention, in tracing for himself, or in the footsteps of a guide, the rectilinear pathway of general ideas. Thus, to the spectators of the eighteenth century, Reason is everywhere and she stands alone in the world. A form of intellect so universal necessarily strikes them as natural, they resemble people who, speaking but one language, and one they have always spoken with facility, cannot imagine another language being spoken, or that they may be surrounded by the deaf and the dumb. And so much the more in as much as their theory authorizes this prejudice. According to the new ideology all minds are within reach of all truths. If the mind does not grasp them the fault is ours in not being properly prepared; it will comprehend if we take the trouble to guide it properly. For it has senses the same as our own; and sensations, revived, combined and noted by signs, suffice to form “not only all our conceptions but again all our faculties." An exact and constant relationship of ideas attaches our simplest perceptions to the most
III. Our true human nature.
The inadequacy and fragility of reason in man. — The rarity and inadequacy of reason in humanity. — Subordination of reason in human conduct. — Brutal and dangerous forces. — The nature and utility of government. Government impossible under the new theory.
It is a sad thing to fall asleep in a sheep-shed and, on awakening, to find the sheep transformed into wolves; and yet, in the event of a revolution that is what we may expect. What we call reason in Man is not an innate endowment, basic and enduring, but a tardy acquisition and a fragile composition. The slightest physiological knowledge will tell us that it is a precarious act of balance, dependent on the no less greater instability of the brain, nerves, circulation and digestion. Take women that are hungry and men that have been drinking; place a thousand of these together, and let them excite each other with their cries, their anxieties, and the contagious reaction of their ever-deepening emotions; it will not be long before you find them a crowd of dangerous maniacs. This becomes evident, and abundantly so, after 1789. — Now, consult psychology. The simplest mental operation, a sensuous perception, is an act of memory, the appliance of a name, an ordinary act of judgment is the play of complicated mechanism, the joint and final result of several millions of wheels which, like those of a clock, turn and propel blindly, each for itself, each through its own force, and each kept in place and in functional activity by a system of balance and compensation. If the hands mark the hour with any degree of accuracy it is due to a wonderful if not miraculous conjunction, while hallucination, delirium and monomania, ever at the door, are always ready to enter it. Properly speaking Man is mad, as the body is sick, by nature; the health of our mind, like the health of our organs,
This is owing to the philosophers of the age having been mistaken in two ways. Not only is reason not natural to Man nor universal in humanity, but again, in the conduct of Man and of humanity, its influence is small. Except with a few cool and clear intellects, a Fontenelle, a Hume, a Gibbon, with whom it may prevail because it encounters no rivals, it is very far from playing a leading part; it belongs to other forces born within us, and which, by virtue of being the first comers, remain in possession of the field. The place obtained by reason is always restricted; the office it fulfills is generally secondary. Openly or secretly, it is only a convenient subaltern, a domestic advocate constantly suborned, employed by the proprietors to plead in their behalf; if they yield precedence in public it is only through decorum. Vainly do they proclaim it the recognized sovereign; they grant it only a passing authority, and, under its nominal control, they remain the inward masters. These masters of Man consists of physical temperament, bodily needs, animal instinct, hereditary prejudice, imagination, generally the dominant passion, and more particularly personal or family interest, also that of caste or party. We are making a big mistake were we assume men to be naturally good, generous, pleasant, or at any rate gentle, pliable, and ready to sacrifice themselves to social interests or to those of others. There are several, and among them the strongest, who, left to themselves, would only wreak havoc. — In the first place, if there is no certainty of Man being a remote blood cousin of the monkey, it is at least certain that, in his structure, he is an animal closely related to the monkey, provided with canine teeth, carnivorous, formerly cannibal and, therefore, a hunter and bellicose. Hence there is in him a steady substratum of brutality and ferocity, and of violent and destructive instincts, to which must be added, if he is French, gaiety, laughter, and a strange propensity to gambol and act insanely in the havoc he makes; we shall see him at work. — In the second place, at the outset, his condition casts him naked and destitute on an ungrateful soil, on which subsistence is difficult, where, at the risk of death, he is obliged to save and to economize. Hence a constant preoccupation and the rooted idea of acquiring, accumulating, and possessing, rapacity and avarice, more particularly in the class which, tied to the globe, fasts for sixty generations in order to support other classes, and whose crooked fingers are always outstretched to clutch the soil whose fruits they cause to grow;-we shall see this class at work. — Finally, his more delicate mental organization makes of him from the earliest days an imaginative being in which swarming fancies develop themselves into monstrous chimeras to expand his hopes, fears and desires beyond all bounds. Hence an excess of sensibility, sudden outbursts of emotion, contagious agitation, irresistible currents of passion, epidemics
On the contrary, in the new theory, every principle promulgated, every precaution taken, every suspicion awaked is aimed against the policeman. In the name of the sovereignty of the people all authority is withdrawn from the government, every prerogative, every initiative, its continuance and its force. The people, being sovereign the government is simply its clerk, and less than its clerk, merely its domestic. — Between them “no contract” indefinite or at least enduring, “and which may be canceled only by mutual consent or the unfaithfulness of one of the two parties. It is against the nature of a political body for the sovereign to impose a law on himself which he cannot set aside.” — There is no sacred and inviolable charter “binding a people to the forms of an established constitution. The right to change these is the first guarantee of all rights. There is not, and never can be, any fundamental, obligatory law for the entire body of a people, not even the social contract.” — It is through usurpation and deception that a prince, an assembly, and a body of magistrates declare
IV. Birth of socialist theory, its two sides.
The second result. — The new theory leads to despotism. — Precedents for this theory. — Administrative centralization. — The Utopia of the Economists. — Invalidity of preceding rights. — Collateral associations not tolerated. — Complete alienation of the individual from the community. — Rights of the State in relation to property, education and religion. — The State a Spartan convent.
For this theory has two aspects; whereas one side leads towards the perpetual demolition of government, the other results in the unlimited dictatorship of the State. The new social contract is not a historic pact, like the English Declaration of Rights in 1688, or the Dutch federation in 1579, entered into by actual and living individuals, admitting acquired situations, groups already formed, established positions, and drawn up to recognize, define, guarantee and complete anterior rights. Antecedent to the social contract no veritable right exist; for veritable rights are born solely out of the social contract, the only valid one, since it is the only one agreed upon between beings perfectly equal and perfectly free, so many abstract creatures, so many species of mathematical units, all of the same value, all playing the same part and whose inequality or constraint never disturbs the common understanding. Hence at the moment of its completion, all other facts are nullified. Property, family, church, no ancient institution may invoke any right against the new State. The area on which it is built up must be considered vacant; if old structures are partly allowed to remain it is only in its name and for its benefit, to be enclosed within its barriers and appropriated to its use; the entire soil of humanity is its property. On the other hand it is not, according to the American doctrine, an association for mutual protection, a society like other societies, circumscribed in its purpose, restricted to its office, limited in its powers, and by which individuals reserving to themselves the better portion of their property and persons, assess each other for the maintenance of an army,
“You must know,” says Law to the Marquis d’Argenson, “that the kingdom of France is governed by thirty intendants. You have neither parliaments, assemblies or governors, simply thirty masters of requests, provincial clerks, on whom depends the happiness or misery, the fruitfulness or sterility of these provinces.”
The king, in fact, sovereign, father, and universal guardian, manages local affairs through his delegates, and intervenes in private affairs through his favors or lettres-de-cachet(royal orders of imprisonment). Such an example and such a course followed for fifty years excites the imagination. No other instrument is more useful for carrying large reforms out at one time. Hence, far from restricting the central power the economists are desirous of extending its action. Instead of setting up new dikes against it they interest themselves only in destroying what is left of the old dikes still interfering with it. “The system of counter-forces in a government,” says Quesnay and his disciples, “is a fatal idea . . . The speculations on which the system of counter-balance is founded are chimerical . . . . Let the government have a full comprehension of its duties and be left free. . . The State must govern according to the essential laws of order, and in this case unlimited power is requisite.” On the approach of the Revolution the same doctrine reappears, except in the substitution of one term for another term. In the place of the sovereignty of the king the “Contrat social” substitutes the sovereignty of the people. The latter, however, is much more absolute than the former, and, in the democratic convent which Rousseau constructs, on Spartan and Roman model, the individual is nothing and the State everything.
In effect, “the clauses of the social contract reduce themselves to one, namely, the total transfer of each associate with all his rights to the community." Every one surrenders himself entirely, “just as he stands, he and all his forces, of which his property forms a portion.” There is no exception nor reservation; whatever he may have been previously and whatever may have belonged to him is no longer his own. Henceforth whatever he becomes or whatever he may possess devolves on him only through the delegation of the social body, the universal proprietor and absolute master. All rights must be vested in the State and none in the individual; otherwise there would be litigation between them, and, “as there is no common superior to decide between them” their litigation would never end. One the contrary, through the complete donation which each one makes of himself, “the unity is as perfect as possible;” having renounced himself “he has no further claim to make.”
This being admitted let us trace the consequences. —
In the first place, I enjoy my property only through tolerance and at second-hand; for, according to the social contract, I have surrendered it; “it now forms a portion of the national estate;” If I retain the use of its for the time being it is through a concession of the State which makes me a “depositary” of it. And this favor must not be considered as restitution. “Far from accepting the property of individuals society despoils them of it, simply converting the usurpation into a veritable right, the enjoyment of it into proprietorship.” Previous to the social contract I was possessor not by right but in fact and even unjustly if I had large possessions; for, “every man has naturally a right to whatever he needs,” and I have robbed other men of all that I possessed beyond my subsistence. Hence, so far from the State being under obligation to me, I am under obligation to it, the property which it returns to me not being mine but that with which the State favors me. It follows, accordingly, that the State may impose conditions on its gift, limit the use I may make of it, according to its fancy, restrict and regulate my disposition of it, my right to bequeath it. “According to nature, the right of property does not extend beyond the life of its owner; the moment he dies his possessions are no longer his own. Thus, to prescribe the conditions on which he may dispose of it is really less to change his right in appearance than to extend it in effect.” In any event as my title is an effect of the social contract it is precarious like the contract itself; a new stipulation suffices to limit it or to destroy it. “The sovereign may legitimately appropriate to himself all property, as was done in Sparta in the time of Lycurgus.” In our lay convent whatever each monk possesses is only a revocable gift by the convent.
In the second place, this convent is a seminary. I have no right to bring up my children in my own house and in my own way.
“As the reason of each man must not be the sole arbiter of his rights, so much less should the education of children, which is of more consequence to the State than to fathers, be left to the intelligence and prejudice of their fathers.” “If public authority, by taking the place of fathers, by assuming this important function, then acquires their rights through fulfilling their duties, they have so much the less reason to complain inasmuch as they merely undergo a change of name, and, under the title of citizens, exercise in common the same authority over their children that they have separately exercised under the title of fathers.”
In other words you cease to be a father, but, in exchange, become a school inspector; one is as good as the other, and what complaint have you to make? Such was the case in that perpetual army called Sparta; there, the children, genuine regimental children, equally obeyed all properly formed men.
“Thus public education, within laws prescribed by the government and under magistrates appointed by sovereign will, is one of the fundamental maxims of popular or legitimate government.”
Through this the citizen is formed in Advance.
“The government gives the national form to souls. Nations, in the long run, are what the government makes them — soldiers, citizens, men when so disposed, a populace, canaille if it pleases,” being fashioned by their education. “Would you obtain an idea of public education? Read Plato’s ’Republic.’.... The best social institutions are those the best qualified to change man’s nature, to destroy his absolute being, to give him a relative being, and to convert self into the common unity, so that each individual may not regard himself as one by himself, but a part of the unity, and no longer sensitive but through the whole. An infant, on opening its eyes, must behold the common patrimony and, to the day of its death, behold that only.... He should be disciplined so as never to contemplate the individual except in his relations with the body of the State.”
Such was the practice of Sparta, and the sole aim of the “great Lycurgus."-
“All being equal through the law, they must be brought up together and in the same manner.” “The law must regulate the subjects, the order and the form of their studies.” They must, at the very least, take part in public exercises, in horse-races, in the games of strength and of agility instituted “to accustom them to law, equality, fraternity, and competition;” to teach them how “to live under the eyes of their fellow-citizens and to crave public applause.”
Through these games they become democrats from their early youth, since, the prizes being awarded, not through the arbitrariness of masters, but through the cheers of spectators, they accustom themselves to recognizing as sovereign the legitimate sovereignty, consisting of the verdict of the assembled people. The foremost interest of the State is, always, to form the wills of those by which it lasts, to prepare the votes that are to maintain it, to uproot passions in the soul that might be opposed to it, to implant passions that will prove favorable to it, to fix firmly with the breasts of its future citizens the sentiments and prejudices it will at some time need. If it does not secure the children it will not possess the adults, Novices in a convent must be as monks, otherwise, when they grow up, the convent will no longer exist.
Finally, our lay convent has its own religion, a lay religion. If I possess any other it is through its condescension and under restrictions. It is, by nature, hostile to other associations than its own; they are rivals, they annoy it, they absorb the will and pervert the votes of its members.
“To ensure a full declaration of the general will it is an important matter not to allow any special society in the State, and that each citizen should pronounce according to it alone." “Whatever breaks up social unity is worthless,” and it would be better for the State if there were no Church. —
Not only is every church suspicious but, if I am a Christian, my belief is regarded unfavorably. According to this new legislator “nothing is more opposed to the social spirits than Christianity. . . . A society of true Christians would no longer form a society of men.” For, “the Christian patrimony is not of this world.” It cannot zealously serve the State, being bound by its conscience to support tyrants. Its law “preaches only servitude and dependence. . . it is made for a slave,” and never will a citizen be made out of a slave. “Christian Republic, each of these two words excludes the other.” Therefore, if the future Republic assents to my profession of Christianity, it is on the understood condition that my doctrine shall be shut up in my mind, without even affecting my heart. If I am a Catholic, (and twenty-five out of twenty-six million Frenchmen are like me), my condition is worse. For the social pact does not tolerate an intolerant religion; any sect that condemns other sects is a public enemy; “whoever presumes to say that there is no salvation outside the church, must be driven out of the State.”
Should I be, finally, a free-thinker, a positivist or skeptic, my situation is little better.
“There is a civil religion,” a catechism, “a profession of faith, of which the sovereign has the right to dictate the articles, not exactly as religious dogmas but as sentiments of social import without which we cannot be a good citizen or a loyal subject.” These articles embrace “the existence of a powerful, intelligent, beneficent, foreseeing and provident divinity, the future life, the happiness of the righteous, the punishment of the wicked, the sacredness of the social contract and of the laws. Without forcing anyone to believe in this creed, whoever does not believe in it must be expelled from the State; it is necessary to banish such persons not on account of impiety, but as unsociable beings, incapable of sincerely loving law and justice and, if need be, of giving up life for duty.”
Take heed that this profession of faith be not a vain one, for a new inquisition is to test its sincerity.
“Should any person, after having publicly recognized these dogmas, act as an unbeliever, let him be punished with death. He has committed the greatest of crimes: he has lied before the law.”
Truly, as I said above, we are in a convent
Complete triumph and last excesses of classic reason. — How it becomes monomania. — Why its work is not enduring.
These articles are all inevitable consequences of the social contract. The moment I enter the corporation I abandon my own personality; I abandon, by this act, my possessions, my children, my church, and my opinions. I cease to be proprietor, father, Christian and philosopher. The state is my substitute in all these functions. In place of my will, there is henceforth the public will, that is to say, in theory, the mutable absolutism of a majority counted by heads, while in fact, it is the rigid absolutism of the assembly, the faction, the individual who is custodian of the public authority. — On this principle an outburst of boundless conceit takes place. The very first year Grégoire states in the tribune of the Constituent Assembly, “we might change religion if we pleased, but we have no such desire.” A little later the desire comes, and it is to be carried out; that of Holbach is proposed, then that of Rousseau, and they dare go much farther. In the name of Reason, of which the State alone is the representative and interpreter, they undertake to unmake and make over, in conformity with Reason and with Reason only, all customs, festivals, ceremonies, and costumes, the era, the calendar, weights and measures, the names of the seasons, months, weeks and days, of places and monuments, family and baptismal names, complimentary titles, the tone of discourse, the mode of salutation, of greeting, of speaking and of writing, in such a fashion, that the Frenchman, as formerly with the puritan or the Quaker, remodeled even in his inward substance, exposes, through the smallest details of
 Barrère, “Point du jour,” No. 1, (June 15, 1789). " You are summoned to give history a fresh start.”
 Condorcet, ibid., “Tableau des progrès de l’esprit humain,” the tenth epoch. “The methods of the mathematical sciences, applied to new objects, have opened new roads to the moral and political sciences.” — Cf. Rousseau, in the “Contrat Social,” the mathematical calculation of the fraction of sovereignty to which each individual is entitled.
 Saint-Lambert, “Catéchisme universel,” the first dialogue, p. 17.
 Condorcet, ibid., ninth epoch. “From this single truth the publicists have been able to derive the rights of man.”
 Rousseau still entertained admiration for Montesquieu but, at the same time, with some reservation; afterwards, however, the theory developed itself, every historical right being rejected. “Then,” says Condorcet, (ibid., ninth epoch), “they found themselves obliged abandon a false and crafty policy which, forgetful of men deriving equal rights through their nature, attempted at one time to estimate those allowed to them according to extent of territory, the temperature of the climate, the national character, the wealth of the population, the degree of perfection of their commerce and industries, and again to apportion the same rights unequally among diverse classes of men, bestowing them on birth, riches and professions, and thus creating opposing interests and opposing powers, for the purpose of subsequently establishing an equilibrium alone rendered necessary by these institutions themselves and which the danger of their tendencies by no means corrects.”
 Condillac, “Logique.”
 “Histoire de France par Estampes,” 1789. (In the collection of engravings, Bibliotheque Nationale de Paris.)
 Mme. de Genlis, “Souvenirs de Félicie,” 371-391.
 De Tocqueville, “L’Ancien régime,” 237. — Cf. “L’an 2440,” by Mercier, III. vols. One of these lovely daydreams in all its detail may be found here. The work was first published in 1770. “The Revolution,” says one of the characters, “was brought about without an effort, through the heroism of a great man, a royal philosopher worthy of power, because he despised it,” etc. (Tome II. 109.)
 “Mémoires de M. Bouillé,” p.70. — Cf. Barante, “Tableau de la litt. française au dixhuitième siècle,” p. 318. “Civilization and enlightenment were supposed to have allayed all passions and softened all characters. It seemed as if morality had become easy of practice and that the balance of social order was so well adjusted that nothing could disturb it.”
 See in Rousseau, in the “Lettre à M. de Beaumont,” a scene of this description, the establishment of deism and toleration, associated with a similar discourse.
 Roux et Buchez, “Histoire parlementaire,” IV. 322, the address made on the 11th Feb., 1790. “What an affecting and sublime address,” says a deputy. It was greeted by the Assembly, with “unparalleled applause.” The whole address ought to have been quoted entire.
 The number of cerebral cells is estimated (the cortical layer) at twelve hundred millions (in 1880)and the fibers binding them together at four thousand millions. (Today in 1990 it is thought that the brain contains one million million neurons and many times more fibers. Sr.)
 In his best-selling book “The Blind Watchmaker",(Published 1986) the biologist Richard Dawkins writes: “All appearances to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics, albeit deployed in a very special way. A true watchmaker has foresight: he designs his cogs and springs, and plans their interconnections, with a future purpose in his mind’s eye. Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind’s eye. it does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker.” (Sr.)
 Already Michel Montaigne (1533-1592) had noted man’s tendency to over-estimate his own powers of judgment:
’So, to return to myself, the sole feature for which I hold myself in some esteem is that in which no man has ever thought himself defective. My self-approbation is common, and shared by all. For who has ever considered himself lacking in common sense? This would be a self-contradictory proposition. Lack of sense is a disease that never exists when it is seen; it is most tenacious and strong, yet the first glance from the patient’s eye pierces it through and disperses it, as a dense mist is dispersed
 My father’s cousin, a black-smith issue from a long line of country black-smiths, born in 1896, used to say that the basic principle elevating children was to ensure “that the child never should be able to exclude the possibility of good thrashing.” (Sr).
 Rousseau, “Contrat social,” I, ch. 7; III. ch. 13, 14, 15, 18; IV. ch. 1. — Cf. Condorcet, ninth epoch.
 Rousseau, “Contrat social,” III, 1, 18; IV, 3.
 De Tocqueville, “L’Ancien régime,” book II. entire, and book III. ch. 3.
 Rousseau, “Contrat social.” I.6.
 Ibidem I. 9. “The State in relation to its members is master of all their possessions according to the social compact . . . possessors are considered as depositaries of the public wealth.”
 Rousseau, “Discours sur l’Economie politique,” 308.
 Ibid. “Emile,” book V. 175.
 Rousseau, “Discours sur l’Economie politique,” 302
 Rousseau, on the “Government de Pologne,” 277, 283, 287.
 Ibid. “Emile,” book I.
 Morelly, “Code de la nature.” “At the age of five all children should be removed their families and brought up in common, at the charge of the State, in a uniform manner.” A similar project, perfectly Spartan, was found among the papers of St.-Just.
 Rousseau, “Contrat social,” II. 3; IV.8.
 Cf. Mercier, “L’an 2240,” I. ch. 17 and 18. From 1770 on, he traces the programme of a system of worship similar to that of the Théophilanthropists, the chapter being entitled: “Pas si éloigné qu’on pense.”
Success of this philosophy in France. — Failure of the same philosophy in England.
Several similar theories have in the past traversed the imagination of men, and similar theories are likely do so again. In all ages and in all countries, it sufficed that man’s concept of his own nature changed for, as an indirect consequence, new utopias and discoveries would sprout in the fields of politics and religion. — But this does not suffice for the propagation of the new doctrine nor, more important, for theory to be put into practice. Although born in England, the philosophy of the eighteenth
I. The propagating organ, eloquence.
Causes of this difference. — This art of writing in France. — Its superiority at this epoch. — It serves as the vehicle of new ideas. - Books are written for people of the world. — This accounts for philosophy descending to the drawing room.
This organ is the “talent of speech, eloquence applied to the gravest subjects, the talent for making things clear.” "The great writers of this nation,” says their adversary, “express themselves better than those of any other nation. Their books give but little information to true savants,” but “through the art of expression they influence men” and “the mass of men, constantly repelled from the sanctuary of the sciences by the dry style and bad taste of (other) scientific writers, cannot resist the seductions of the French style and method.” Thus the classic spirit that furnishes the ideas likewise
“The speeches are made beforehand in a small society of young men and women, among them generally the fair friend of the speaker is one, or else the fair whom he means to make his friend,; and the society very politely give their approbation, unless the lady who gives the tone to that circle chances to reprehend something, which is of course altered, if not amended.”
It is not surprising, with customs of this kind, that professional philosophers should become men of society. At no time or in any place have they been so to the same extent, nor so habitually. The great delight of a man of genius or of learning here, says an English traveler, is to reign over a brilliant assembly of people of fashion. Whilst in England they bury themselves morosely in their books, living amongst themselves and appearing in society only on condition of “doing some political drudgery,” that of journalist or pamphleteer in the service of a party, in France they dine out every evening, and constitute the ornaments and amusement of the drawing-rooms to which they resort to converse. There is not a house in which dinners are given that has not its titular philosopher, and, later on, its economist and man of science. In the various memoirs, and in the collections of correspondence, we track them from one drawing room to another, from one chateau to another, Voltaire to Cirey at Madame du Chatelet’s, and then home, at Ferney where he has a theater and entertains all Europe; Rousseau to Madame d’Epinay’s,
II. Its method.
Owing to this method it becomes popular.
“Madame la Maréchale,” says one of Diderot’s personages,. “I must consider things from a somewhat higher point of view.” — " As high as you please so long as I understand you.” — “If you do not understand me it will be my fault.” — " You are very polite, but you must know that I have studied nothing but my prayer. book.” — That makes no difference; the pretty woman, ably led on, begins to philosophize without knowing it, arriving without effort at the distinction between good and evil, comprehending and deciding on the highest doctrines of morality and religion. — Such is the art of the eighteenth century, and the art of writing. People are addressed who are perfectly familiar with life, but who are commonly ignorant of orthography, who are curious in all directions, but ill prepared for any; the object is to bring truth down to their level. Scientific or too abstract terms are inadmissible; they tolerate only those used to ordinary conversation. And this is no obstacle; it is easier to talk philosophy in this language than to use it for discussing precedence and clothes. For, in every abstract question there is some leading
“Will Madame la Maréchale have the kindness to recall my definition? " — “I remember it well-do you call that a definition?” - “Yes.” -"That, then, is philosophy! " — “Admirable ! " — “And I have been philosophical? " — " As you read prose, without being aware of it.”
The rest is simply a matter of reasoning, that is to say, of leading on, of putting questions in the right order, and of analysis. With the conception thus renewed and rectified the truth nearest at hand is brought out, then out of this, a second truth related to the first one, and so on to the end, no other obligation being involved in this method but that of carefully advancing step by step, and of omitting no intermediary step. — With this method one is able to explain all, to make everything understood, even by women, and even by women of society. In the eighteenth century it forms the substance of all talents, the warp of all masterpieces, the lucidity, popularity and authority of philosophy. The “Eloges” of Fontenelle, the “Philosophe ignorant et le principe d’action” by Voltaire, the " Lettre à M. de Beaumont,” and the “Vicaire Savoyard” by Rousseau, the “Traité de l’homme” and the “Époques de la Nature” by Buffon, the " Dialogues sur les blés” by Galiani, the " Considérations” by d’Alembert, on mathematics, the " Langue des Calculs” and the “Logique” by Condillac, and, a little later, the “Exposition du système du Monde” by Laplace, and “Discours généraux” by Bichat and Cuvier; all are based on this method. Finally, this is the method which Condillac erects into a theory under the name of ideology, soon acquiring the ascendancy of a dogma, and which then seems to sum up all methods. At the very least it sums up the process by which the philosophers of the century obtained their audience, propagated their doctrine and achieved their success.
III. Its popularity.
Owing to style it becomes pleasing. — Two stimulants peculiar to the 18th century, coarse humor and irony.
Thanks to this method one can be understood; but, to be read, something more is necessary. I compare the eighteenth century to a company of people around a table; it is not sufficient that the food before them be well prepared, well served, within reach and easy to digest, but it is important that it should be some choice dish or, better still, some dainty. The intellect is Epicurean; let us supply it with savory, delicate viands adapted to its taste; it will eat so much the more owing to its appetite being sharpened by sensuality. Two special condiments enter into the cuisine of this century, and, according to the hand that makes use of them, they furnish all literary dishes with a coarse or delicate seasoning. In an Epicurean society, to which a return to nature and the rights of instinct are preached, voluptuous images and ideas present themselves involuntarily; this is the appetizing, exciting spice-box. Each guest at the table uses or abuses it; many empty its entire contents on their plate. And I do not allude merely to the literature read in secret, to the extraordinary books Madame d’Audlan, governess to the French royal children, peruses, and which stray off into the hands of the daughters of Louis XV, nor to other books, still more extraordinary, in which philosophical arguments appear as an interlude between filth and the illustrations, and which are kept by the ladies of the court on their toilet-tables, under the title of “Heures de Paris.” I refer here to the great men, to the masters of the public intellect. With the exception of Buffon, all put pimento into their sauces, that is to say, loose talk or coarseness of expression. We find this even in the” Esprit des Lois;” there is an enormous amount of it, open and covered up, in the “Lettres Persanes.” Diderot, in his two great novels, puts it in by handfuls, as if during an orgy. The teeth crunch on it like so many grains of pepper, on every page of Voltaire. We find it, not only piquant, but strong and of burning intensity, in the “Nouvelle Héloïse,” scores of times in " Emile,” and, in the “Confessions,” from one end to the other. It was the taste of the day. M. de Malesherbes, so upright and so grave, committed “La Pucelle” to memory and recited it. We have from the pen of Saint-Just, the gloomiest of the “Mountain,” a poem as lascivious as that of Voltaire, while Madame Roland, the noblest of the Girondins, has left us confessions as venturesome and specific as those of Rousseau. — On the other hand there is a second box, that containing the old Gallic salt, that is to say, humor and raillery. Its mouth is wide open in the hands of a philosophy proclaiming the sovereignty of reason. Whatever is contrary to Reason is to it absurd and therefore open to ridicule. The moment the solemn hereditary mask covering up an abuse is brusquely and adroitly torn aside, we feel a curious spasm, the corners of our mouth stretching apart and our breast heaving violently, as at a kind
The art and processes of the masters. — Montesquieu. — Voltaire. - Diderot. — Rousseau. — “The Marriage of Figaro.”
In this respect four among them are superior, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau. It seems sufficient to mention their names. Modern Europe has no greater writers. And yet their talent must be closely examined to properly comprehend their power.- In tone and style Montesquieu is the first. No writer is more master of himself, more outwardly calm, more sure of his meaning. His voice is never boisterous; he expresses the most powerful thoughts with moderation. There is no gesticulation; exclamations, the abandonment of impulse, all that is irreconcilable with decorum is repugnant to his tact, his reserve, his dignity. He seems to be always addressing a select circle of people with acute minds, and in such a way as to render them at every moment conscious of their acuteness. No flattery could be more delicate; we feel grateful to him for making us satisfied with our intelligence. We
“In my defense of the ‘Esprit des Lois,"’ he says, “that which gratifies me is not to see venerable theologians crushed to the ground but to see them glide down gently.”
He excels in tranquil irony, in polished disdain, in disguised sarcasm. His Persians judge France as Persians, and we smile at their errors; unfortunately the laugh is not against them but against ourselves, for their error is found to be a verity. This or that letter, in a sober vein, seems a comedy at their expense without reflecting upon us, full of Muslim prejudices and of oriental conceit; reflect a moment, and our conceit, in this relation, appears no less. Blows of extraordinary force and reach are given in passing, as if thoughtlessly, against existing institutions, against the transformed Catholicism which “in the present state of Europe, cannot last five hundred years,” against the degenerate monarchy which causes useful citizens to starve to fatten parasite courtiers. The entire new philosophy blooms out in his hands with an air of innocence, in a pastoral romance, in a simple prayer, in an artless letter. None of the gifts which serve to arrest and fix the attention are wanting in this style, neither grandeur of imagination nor profound sentiment, vivid characterization, delicate gradations, vigorous precision, a sportive grace, unlooked-for burlesque, nor variety of representation. But, amidst so many ingenious tricks, apologues, tales, portraits and dialogues, in earnest as well as when masquerading, his deportment throughout is irreproachable and his tone is perfect. If; as an author, he develops a paradox it is with almost
A circle of this kind is a small one, comprising only a select few; to be understood by the multitude requires another tone of voice. Philosophy demands a writer whose principal occupation is a diffusion of it, who is unable to keep it to himself; who pours it out like a gushing fountain, who offers it to everybody, daily and in every form, in broad streams and in small drops, without exhaustion or weariness, through every crevice and by every channel, in prose, in verse, in imposing and in trifling poems, in the drama, in history, in novels, in pamphlets, in pleadings, in treatises, in essays, in dictionaries, in correspondence, openly and in secret, in order that it may penetrate to all depths and in every soil; such was Voltaire. — “I have accomplished more in my day,” he says somewhere, “than either Luther or Calvin,” in which he is mistaken. The truth is, however, he has something of their spirit. Like them he is desirous of changing the prevailing religion, he takes the attitude of the founder of a sect, he recruits and binds together proselytes, he writes letters of exhortation, of direction and of predication, he puts watchwords in circulation, he furnishes “the brethren” with a device; his passion resembles the zeal of an apostle or of a prophet. Such a spirit is incapable of reserve; it is militant and fiery by nature; it apostrophizes, reviles and improvises; it writes under the dictation of impressions; it allows itself every species of utterance and, if need be, the coarsest. It thinks by explosions; its emotions are sudden starts, and its images so many sparks; it lets the rein go entirely; it gives itself up to the reader and hence it takes possession of him. Resistance is impossible; the contagion is too overpowering. A creature of air and flame, the most excitable that ever lived, composed of more ethereal and more throbbing atoms than those of other men; none is there whose mental machinery is more delicate, nor whose equilibrium is at the same time more shifting and more exact. He may be compared to those accurate scales that are affected by a breath, but alongside of which every other measuring apparatus is incorrect and clumsy. — But, in this delicate balance only the lightest weights, the finest specimen must be placed; on this condition only it rigorously weighs all substances; such is Voltaire, involuntarily, through the demands of his intellect, and in his own behalf as much as in that of his readers. An entire philosophy, ten volumes of theology, an abstract science, a special
For, the most striking feature of this style is the prodigious rapidity, the dazzling and bewildering stream of novelties, ideas, images, events, landscapes, narratives, dialogues, brief little pictures, following each other rapidly as if in a magic-lantern, withdrawn almost as soon as presented by the impatient magician who, in the twinkling of an eye, girdles the world and, constantly accumulating one on top of the other, history, fable, truth and fancy, the present time and times past, frames his work now with a parade as absurd as that of a country fair, and now with a fairy scene more magnificent than all those of the opera. To amuse and be amused, “to diffuse his spirit in every imaginable mode, like a glowing furnace into which all substances are thrown by turns to evolve every species of flame, sparkle and odor,” is his first instinct. “Life,” he says again, “is an infant to be rocked until it goes to sleep.” Never was a mortal more excited and more exciting, more incapable of silence and more hostile to ennui, better endowed for conversation, more evidently destined to become the king of a sociable century in which, with six pretty stories, thirty witticisms and some confidence in himself, a man could obtain a social passport and the certainty of being everywhere welcome. Never was there a writer possessing to so high a degree and in such abundance every qualification of the conversationalist, the art of animating and of enlivening discourse, the talent for giving pleasure to people of society. Perfectly refined when he chose to be, confining himself without inconvenience to strict decorum, of finished politeness, of exquisite gallantry, deferential without being servile, fond without being mawkish, and always at his ease, it suffices that he should be before the public, to fall naturally into the proper tone, the discreet ways, the winning half-smile of the well-bred man who, introducing his readers into his mind, does them the honors of the place. Are you on familiar terms with him, and of the small private circle in which he freely unbends himself, with closed doors? You never tire of laughing. With a sure hand and without seeming to touch it, he abruptly tears aside the veil hiding a wrong, a prejudice, a folly, in short, any human idolatry. The real figure, misshapen, odious or dull, suddenly appears in this instantaneous flash; we shrug our shoulders. This is the risibility of an agile, triumphant reason. We have another in that of the gay temperament, of the droll improvisator, of the man keeping youthful, a child, a boy even to the day of his death, and who “gambols on his own tombstone.” He is fond of caricature, exaggerating the features of faces, bringing grotesques on the stage, walking them about in all lights like marionettes, never weary of taking them up and of making them dance in new costumes; in the very midst of his philosophy, of his propaganda and polemics, he sets up his portable
When the talent of a writer thus accords with public inclinations it is a matter of little import whether he deviates or fails since he is following the universal tendency. He may wander off or besmirch himself in vain, for his audience is only the more pleased, his defects serving him as advantageously as his good qualities. After the first generation of healthy minds the second one comes on, the intellectual balance here being equally inexact. “Diderot,” says Voltaire, “is too hot an oven, everything that is baked in it getting burnt.” Or rather, he is an eruptive volcano which, for forty years, discharges ideas of every order and species, boiling and fused together, precious metals, coarse scorioe and fetid mud; the steady stream overflows at will according to the roughness of the ground, but always displaying the ruddy light and acrid fumes of glowing lava. He is not master of his ideas, but his ideas master him; he is under submission to
Rousseau also is an artisan, a man of the people, ill-adapted to elegant and refined society, out of his element in a drawing room and, moreover, of low birth, badly brought up, sullied by a vile and precocious experience, highly and offensively sensual, morbid in mind and in body, fretted by superior and discordant faculties, possessing no tact, and carrying the contamination of his imagination, temperament and past life into his austere morality and into his purest idylls; besides this he has no fervor, and in this he is the opposite of Diderot, avowing himself” that his ideas arrange themselves in his head with the utmost
With such weapons one might accidentally kill oneself, but one is strongly armed. Rousseau was well equipped, at least as powerful as Voltaire; it may be said that the last half of the eighteenth century belongs to him. A foreigner, a Protestant, original in temperament, in education, in heart, in mind and in habits, at once misanthropic and philanthropic, living in an ideal world constructed by himself, entirely opposed to the world as it is, he finds himself standing in a new position. No one is so sensitive to the evils and vices of actual society. No one is so affected by the virtues and happiness of the society of the future. This accounts for his having two holds on the public mind, one through satire and the other through the idyll. — These two holds are undoubtedly slighter at the present day; the substance of their grasp has disappeared; we are not the auditors to which it appealed. The famous discourse on the influence of literature and on the origin of inequality seems to us a collegiate exaggeration; an effort of the will is required to read the " Nouvelle Héloïse.” The author is repulsive in the persistency of his spitefulness or in the exaggeration of his enthusiasm. He is always in extremes, now moody and with knit brows, and now streaming with tears and with arms outstretched to Heaven. Hyperbole, prosopopaeia, and other literary machinery are too often and too deliberately used by him. We are tempted to regard him now as a sophist making the best use of his arts, now as a rhetorician cudgeling his brains for a purpose, now as a preacher becoming excited, that is to say, an actor ever maintaining a thesis, striking an attitude and aiming at effects. Finally, with the exception of the “Confessions” his style soon wearies us; it is too studied, and too constantly overstrained. The author is always the author, and he communicates the defect to his personages. His Julie argues and descants for twenty successive pages on dueling, on love, on duty, with a logical completeness, a talent and phrases that would do honor to an academical moralist. Commonplace exists everywhere, general themes, a raking fire of abstractions and arguments, that is to say, truths more or less empty and paradoxes more or less hollow. The smallest detail of fact, an anecdote, a trait of habit, would suit us much better, and hence we of to day prefer the precise eloquence of objects to the lax eloquence of words. In the eighteenth century it was otherwise; to every writer this oratorical style was the prescribed ceremonial costume, the dress-coat he had to put on for admission into the company of select people. That which seems to us affectation was then only proper; in a classic epoch the perfect period and the sustained development constitute decorum, and are therefore to be observed. — It must be noted, moreover, that this literary drapery which, with us of the present day, conceals truth did not conceal it to his contemporaries; they saw under it
These are the great literary powers of the century. With inferior successes, and through various combinations, the elements which contributed to the formation of the leading talents also form the secondary talents, like those below Rousseau, — Bernardin de St. Pierre, Raynal, Thomas, Marmontel, Mably, Florian, Dupaty, Mercier, Madame de Staël; and below Voltaire, — the lively and piquant intellects of Duclos, Piron, Galiani, President Des Brosses, Rivarol, Champfort, and to speak with precision, all other talents. Whenever a vein of talent, however meager, peers forth above the ground it is for the propagation and carrying forward of the new doctrine; scarcely can we find two or three little streams that run in a contrary direction, like the journal of Freron, a comedy by Palissot, or a satire by Gilbert. Philosophy winds through and overflows all channels public and private, through manuals of impiety, like the “Théologies portatives,” and in the lascivious novels circulated secretly, through epigrams and songs, through daily novelties, through the amusements of fairs, and the harangues of the Academy, through tragedy and the
“Behold the civilized man; here is the savage man!”
At this line the applause breaks forth, and the success of the piece is such that it is demanded at Versailles and played before the court.
The same ideas have to be expressed with skill, brilliancy, gaiety, energy and scandal, and this is accomplished in “The Marriage of Figaro.” Never were the ideals of the age displayed under a more transparent disguise, nor in an attire that rendered them more attractive. Its title is the " Folle journee,” and indeed it is an evening of folly, an after-supper like those occurring in the fashionable world, a masquerade of Frenchmen in Spanish costumes, with a parade of dresses, changing scenes, couplets, a ballet, a singing and dancing village, a medley of odd characters, gentlemen, servants, duennas, judges, notaries, lawyers, music-masters, gardeners, pastoureaux; in short, a spectacle for the eyes and the ears, for all the senses, the very opposite of the prevailing drama in which three pasteboard characters, seated on classic chairs, exchange didactic arguments in an abstract saloon. And still better, it is an imbroglio displaying a superabundance of action, amidst intrigues that cross, interrupt and renew each other, through a pêle-mêle of travesties, exposures, surprises, mistakes, leaps from windows, quarrels and slaps, and all in sparkling style, each phrase flashing on all sides, where responses seem to be cut out by a lapidary, where the eyes would forget themselves in contemplating the multiplied brilliants of the dialogue if the mind were not carried along by its rapidity and the excitement of the action. But here is another charm, the most welcome of all in a society passionately fond of Parny; according to an expression of the Comte d’Artois, which I dare not quote, this appeals to the senses, the arousing of which constitutes the spiciness and savor of the piece. The fruit that hangs ripening and savory on the branch never falls but always seems on the point of falling; all hands are extended to catch it, its voluptuousness somewhat veiled but so much the more provoking, declaring itself from scene to scene, in the Count’s gallantry, in the Countess’s agitation, in the simplicity
After all, in France at least, the chief power is intellect. Literature in the service of philosophy is all-sufficient. The public opposes but a feeble resistance to their complicity, the mistress finding no trouble in convincing those who have already been won over by the servant
 How right Taine was. The 20th century should see a rebirth of violent Jacobinism in Russia, China, Cambodia, Korea, Cuba, Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia and Albania and of soft and creeping Jacobinism in the entire Western world. (Sr.)
. “Who, born within the last forty years, ever read a word of Collins, and Toland, and Tindal, or of that whole race who called themselves freethinkers?” (Burke, “Reflexions on the French Revolutions,” 1790).
. The “Oedipe,” by Voltaire, belongs to the year 1718, and his “Lettres sur les Anglais,” to the year 1728. The “Lettres Persanes,” by Montesquieu, published in 1721, contain the germs of all the leading ideas of the century.
. “Raison” (cult of). Cult proposed by the Hébertists and aimed at replacing Christianity under the French Revolution. The Cult of Reason was celebrated in the church of Notre Dame de Paris on the 10th of November 1793. The cult disappeared with the Hébertists (March 1794) and Robespierre replaced it with the cult of the Superior Being. (Sr.)
. Joseph de Maistre, Oeuvres inédites,” pp. 8, 11.
. Diderot’s letters on the Blind and on the Deaf and Dumb are addressed in whole or in part to women.
. “Correspondence of Gouverneur Morris,” (in English), II, 89. (Letter of January 24, 1790)
. John Andrews in “A comparative view,” etc. (1785). — Arthur Young, I. 123. “I should pity the man who expected, without other advantages of a very different nature, to be well received in a brilliant circle in London, because he was a fellow of the Royal Society. But this would not be the case with a member of the Academy of Sciences at Paris, he is sure of a good reception everywhere.”
. “I met in Paris the d’Alemberts, the Marmontels, the Baillys at the houses of duchesses, which was an immense advantage to all concerned. . . . When a man with us devotes himself to writing books he is considered as renouncing the society equally of those who govern as of those who laugh. . . Taking literary vanity into account the lives of your d’Alemberts and Baillys are as pleasant as those of your seigniors.” (Stendhal, “Rome, Naples et Florence,” 377, in a narrative by Col. Forsyth).
. “Entretien d’un philosophe avec la Maréchale -.”
. The television audience today cannot threaten never again to invite the boring “philosopher” to dinner, but will zap away, a move that the system accurately senses. The rules that Taine describes are, alas, therefore once more valid. (Sr.)
. The same process is observable in our day in the “Sophismes économiques” of Bastiat, the “Eloges historiques” of Flourens, and in “Le Progrès,” by Edmond About.
. The “Portier de Chartreux.” (An infamous pornographic book. (Sr.))
. “Thérese Philosophe.” There is a complete literature of this species.
. See the edition of M. Dauban in which the suppressed passages are restored.
. “Esprit des Lois,” ch. XV. book V. (Reasons in favor of slavery). The “Defence of the Esprit des Lois,” I. Reply to the second objection. II. Reply to the fourth objection.
. Letter 24 (on Louis XIV.)
. Letter 18 (on the purity and impurity of things). Letter 39 (proofs of the mission of Mohammed).
. Letters 75 and 118.
. Letters 98 (on the modern sciences), 46 (on a true system of worship), 11 and 14 (on the nature of justice).
. Cf “Micromégas,” “L’homme aux quarantes écus,” “Dialogues entre A, B, C,” Dic. Philosophique,” passim. — In verse, “Les systèmes,” “La loi naturelle,” “Le pour et le countre,”, “Discours sur l’homme,” etc.
. “Traité de métaphysique,” chap. I. p.1 (on the peasantry). - “Lettres sur les Anglais,” passim. — “Candide,” passim. — “La Princesse de Babylone,” ch. VII. VIII. IX. and XI.
 “Dict. Phil.” articles, “Maladie,” (Replies to the princess). - “Candide,” at Madame de Parolignac. The sailor in the wreck. Narrative of Paquette. — The “Ingénu,” the first chapters.
. “Candide,” the last chapter. When there was no dispute going on, it was so wearisome that the old woman one day boldly said to him: “I should like to know which is worse to be ravished a hundred times by Negro pirates, to have one’s rump gashed, or be switched by the Bulgarians, to be scourged or hung in an auto-da-fé, to be cut to pieces, to row in the galleys, to suffer any misery through which we have passed, or sit still and do nothing?” — “That is the great question,” said Candide.
. For example, in the lines addressed to the Princess Ulrique in the preface to “Alzire,” dedicated to Madame du Chatelet:
“Souvent un peu de verité,” etc.
 The scholar in the dialogue of “Le Mais,” (Jenny). — The canonization of Saint Cucufin. — Advice to brother Pediculuso. — The diatribe of Doctor Akakia. — Conversation of the emperor of China with brother Rigolo, etc.
. “Dict. Philosophique,” the article “Ignorance.” — “Les Oreilles du Comte de Chesterfied.” — “L’homme au quarante écus,” chap. VII. and XI.
. Bachaumont, III, 194. (The death of the Comte de Maugiron).
. “The novels of the younger Crébillon were in fashion. My father spoke with Madame de Puisieux on the ease with which licentious works were composed; he contended that it was only necessary to find an arousing idea as a peg to hang others on in which intellectual libertinism should be a substitute for taste. She challenged him to produce on of this kind. At the end of a fortnight he brought her ‘Les bijoux indiscrets’ and fifty louis.” (Mémoires of Diderot, by his daughter). — “La Religieuse,” has a similar origin, its object being to mystify M. de Croismart.
. “Le Rêve de d’Alembert.”
. “Le neveau de Rameau.”
. The words of Diderot himself in relation to the “Rêve de d’Alembert.”
 One of the finest stanzas in “Souvenir” is almost literally transcribed (involuntarily, I suppose), from the dialogue on Otaheite (Tahiti).
. “Nouvelle Héloise,” passim., and notably Julie’s extraordinary letter, second part, number 15. — “Émile,” the preceptor’s discourse to Émile and Sophie the morning after their marriage. — Letter of the comtesse de Boufflers to Gustavus III., published by Geffroy, ("Gustave III. et la cour de France"). “I entrust to Baron de Lederheim, though with reluctance, a book for you which has just been published, the infamous memoirs of Rousseau entitled ‘Confessions.’ They seem to me those of a common scullion and even lower than that, being dull throughout, whimsical and vicious in the most offensive manner. I do not recur to my worship of him (for such it was) I shall never console myself for its having caused the death of that eminent man David Hume, who, to gratify me, undertook to entertain that filthy animal in England.”
. “Confessions,” part I, book III.
. Letter to M, de Beaumont.
. “Émile,” letter IV. 193. “People of the world must necessarily put on disguise; let them show themselves as they are and they would horrify us,” etc.
. See, especially, his book entitled “Rousseau juge de Jean-Jacques,” his connection with Hume and the last books of the “confessions.”
. “Confessions,” part 2. book XI. “The women were intoxicated with the book and with the author to such an extent that there were few of them, even of high rank, whose conquest I could not have made if I had undertaken it. I possess evidence of this which I do not care, to publish, and which, without having been obliged to prove it by experience, warrant, my statement.” Cf. G. Sand, “Histoire de ma vie,” I.73.
. See an engraving by Moreau called “Les Petits Parrains.” — Berquin, passim., and among others “L’épée.” — Remark the ready-made phrases, the style of an author common to children, in Berquin and Madame de Genlis.
. See the description of sunrise in “Émile,” of the Élysée (a natural garden), in “Héloise.” And especially in “Emile,” at the end of the fourth book, the pleasures which Rousseau would enjoy if he were rich.
. See in Marivaux, ("La double inconstance,”) a satire on the court, courtiers and the corruptions of high life, opposed to the common people in the country.
 Bachmaumont, I. 254.
. “A calculator was required for the place but a dancer got it.” — “The sale of offices is a great abuse.” -"Yes, it would he better to give them for nothing.” — “Only small men fear small literature.” — “Chance makes the interval, the mind only can alter that !” — “A courtier? — they say it is a very difficult profession.” — “To receive, to take, and to ask, is the secret in three words,” etc, — Also the entire monologue by Figaro, and all the scenes with Bridoisin.
I. The nobility.
The Aristocracy. — Novelty commonly repugnant to it. — Conditions of this repugnance. — Example in England.
This public has yet to be made willing to be convinced and to be won over; belief occurs only when there is a disposition to believe, and, in the success of books, its share is often greater than that of their authors. On addressing men about politics or religion their opinions are, in general already formed; their prejudices, their interests, their situation have confirmed them beforehand; they listen to you only after you have uttered aloud what they inwardly think. Propose to them to demolish the great social edifice and to rebuild it anew on a quite an opposite plan: ordinarily you auditors will consist only of those who are poorly lodged or shelterless, who live in garrets or cellars, or who sleep under
In vain is philosophy there indigenous and precocious; it does not become acclimatized. In 1729, Montesquieu writes in his memorandum-book: “No religion in England; four or five members of the House of Commons attend mass or preaching in the House. . . . When religion is mentioned everybody begins to laugh. A man having said: I believe that as an article of faith, everybody laughed. A committee is appointed to consider the state of religion, but it is regarded as absurd.” Fifty years later the public mind undergoes a reaction; all with a good roof over their heads and a good coat on their backs see the consequence of the new doctrines. In any event they feel that closet speculations are not to become street preaching. Impiety seems to them an indiscretion; they consider religion as the cement of public order. This is owing to the fact that they are themselves public men, engaged in active life, taking a part in the government, and instructed through their daily and personal experience. Practical life fortifies them against the chimeras of theorists; they have proved to themselves how difficult it is to lead and to control men. Having had their hand on the machine they know how it works, its value, its cost, and they are not tempted to cast it aside as rubbish to try another, said to be superior, but which, as yet, exists only on paper. The baronet, or squire, a justice on his own domain, has no trouble in discerning in the clergyman of his parish an indispensable co-worker and a natural ally. The duke or marquis, sitting in the upper house by the side of bishops, requires their votes to pass bills, and their assistance to rally to his party the fifteen hundred curates who influence the rural conscience. Thus all have a hand on some social wheel, large or small, principal or accessory, and this endows them with earnestness, foresight and good sense. On coming in contact with realities there is no temptation to soar away into the imaginary world; the fact of one being at work on solid ground of itself makes one dislike aerial excursions in empty space. The more occupied one is the less one dreams, and, to men of business, the geometry of the " Contrat Social’ is merely intellectual gymnastics.
The opposite conditions found in France. — Indolence of the upper class. — Philosophy seems an intellectual drill. — Besides this, a subject for conversation. — Philosophic conversation in the 18th century. — Its superiority and its charm. — The influence it exercises.
It is quite the reverse in France. “I arrived there in 1774," says an English gentleman, “having just left the house of my father, who never came home from Parliament until three o’clock in the morning, and who was busy the whole morning correcting the proofs of his speech for the newspapers, and who, after hastily kissing us, with an absorbed air, went out to a political dinner. . . . In France I found men of the highest rank enjoying perfect leisure. They had interviews with the ministers but only to exchange compliments; in other respects they knew as little about the public affairs of France as they did about those of Japan; and less of local affairs than of general affairs, having no knowledge of their peasantry other than that derived from the accounts of their stewards. If one of them, bearing the title of governor, visited a province, it was, as we have seen, for outward parade; whilst the intendant carried on the administration, he exhibited himself with grace and magnificence by giving receptions and dinners. To receive, to give dinners, to entertain guests agreeably is the sole occupation of a grand seignior; hence it is that religion and government only serve him as subjects of conversation. The conversation, moreover, occurs between him and his equals, and a man may say what he pleases in good company. Moreover the social system turns on its own axis, like the sun, from time immemorial, through its own energy, and shall it be deranged by what is said in the drawing-room? In any event he does not control its motion and he is not responsible. Accordingly there is no uneasy undercurrent, no morose preoccupation in his mind. Carelessly and boldly he follows in the track of his philosophers; detached from affairs he can give himself up to ideas, just as a young man of family, on leaving college, lays hold of some principle, deduces its consequences, and forms a system for himself without concerning himself about its application.
Nothing is more enjoyable than this speculative inspiration. The mind soars among the summits as if it had wings; it embraces vast horizons in a glance, taking in all of human life, the economy of the world, the origin of the universe, of religions and of societies. Where, accordingly, would conversation be if people abstained from philosophy? What circle is that in which serious political problems and profound criticism are not admitted? And what motive brings intellectual people together if not the desire to debate questions of the highest importance? — For two centuries in France the conversation has been related to all that, and hence its great charm. Strangers find it irresistible; nothing like it is found at home; Lord Chesterfield sets it forth as an example:
“It always turns, he says, on some point in history, on criticism or even philosophy which is much better suited to rational beings than our English discussions about the weather and whist.”
Rousseau, so querulous, admits “that a moral subject could not be better discussed in a society of philosophers than in that of a pretty woman in Paris.” Undoubtedly there is a good deal of idle talk, but with all the chattering “let a man of any authority make a serious remark or start a grave subject and the attention is immediately fixed on this point; men and women, the old and the young, all give themselves up to its consideration on all its sides, and it is surprising what an amount of reason and good sense issues, as if in emulation, from these frolicsome brains.” The truth is that, in this constant holiday which this brilliant society gives itself philosophy is the principal amusement. Without philosophy the ordinary ironical chit-chat would be vapid. It is a sort of superior opera in which every grand conception that can interest a reflecting mind passes before it, now in comic and now in sober attire, and each in conflict with the other. The tragedy of the day scarcely differs from it except in this respect, that it always bears a solemn aspect and is performed only in the theaters; the other assumes all sorts of physiognomies and is found everywhere because conversation is everywhere carried on. Not a dinner nor a supper is given at which it does not find place. One sits at a table amidst refined luxury, among agreeable and well-dressed women and pleasant and well-informed men, a select company, in which comprehension is prompt and the company trustworthy. After the second course the inspiration breaks out in the liveliest sallies, all minds flashing and scintillating. When the dessert comes on what is to prevent the gravest of subjects from being put into witticisms? On the appearance of the coffee questions on the immortality of the soul and on the existence of God come up.
To form any idea of this attractive and bold conversation we must consult the correspondence of the day, the short treatises and dialogues of Diderot and Voltaire, whatever is most animated, most delicate, most piquant and most profound in the literature of the century; and yet this is only a residuum, a lifeless fragment. The whole of this written philosophy was uttered in words, with the accent, the impetuosity, the inimitable naturalness of improvisation, with the versatility of malice and of enthusiasm. Even to day, chilled and on paper, it still excites and seduces us. What must it have been then when it gushed forth alive and vibrant from the lips of Voltaire and Diderot? Daily, in Paris, suppers took place like those described by Voltaire, .at which “two philosophers, three clever intellectual ladies,M. Pinto the famous Jew, the chaplain of the Batavian ambassador of the reformed church, the secretary of the Prince de Galitzin of the Greek church, and a Swiss Calvinist captain,” seated around the same table, for four hours interchanged their anecdotes, their flashes of wit, their remarks and their decisions “on
How can the nobles, who pass their lives in talking, refrain from the society of people who talk so well? They might as well expect their wives, who frequent the theater every night, and who perform at home, not to attract famous actors and singers to their receptions, Jelyotte, Sainval, Préville, and young Molé who, quite ill and needing restoratives, “receives in one day more than 2,000 bottles of wine of different sorts from the ladies of the court,” Mlle. Clairon, who, consigned to prison in Fort l’Eveque, attracts to it “an immense crowd of carriages,” presiding over the most select company in the best apartment of the prison. With life thus regarded, a philosopher with his ideas is as necessary in a drawing room as a chandelier with its lights. He forms a part of the new system of luxury. He is an article of export. Sovereigns, amidst their splendor, and at the height of their success, invite them to their courts to enjoy for once in their life the pleasure of perfect and free discourse. When Voltaire arrives in Prussia Frederic II. is willing to kiss his hand, fawning on him as on a mistress, and, at a later period, after such mutual fondling, he cannot dispense with carrying on conversations with him by letter. Catherine II. sends for Diderot, and, for two or three hours every day, she plays with him the great game of the intellect. Gustavus III., in France, is intimate with Marmontel, and considers a visit from Rousseau as the highest honor. It is said with truth of Voltaire that “he holds the four kings in his hand,” those of Prussia, Sweden, Denmark and Russia, without mentioning lower cards, the princes, princesses, grand dukes and markgraves. The principal rôle in this society evidently belongs to authors; their ways and doings form the subject of gossip; people never weary of paying them homage. Here, writes Hume to Robertson, “I feed on ambrosia, drink nothing but nectar, breathe incense only and walk on flowers. Every man I meet, and especially every woman, would consider themselves as failing in the most indispensable duty if they did not favor me with a lengthy and ingenious discourse on my celebrity.” Presented at court, the future Louis XVI, aged ten years, the future Louis XVIII, aged eight years, and the future Charles X, aged four years, each recites a compliment to him on his works. I need not narrate the return of Voltaire, his triumphant entry,  the Academy in a body coming to welcome him, his carriage stopped by the crowd, the thronged streets, the windows, steps and balconies filled with admirers, an intoxicated audience in the theater incessantly applauding, outside an entire population carrying him off with huzzahs, in the drawing-rooms a continual concourse equal to that of the king, grand seigniors pressed against the door with outstretched ears to catch a word, and great ladies standing on tiptoe to observe the slightest gesture. “To form any conception of what I experienced,”
Further effects of indolence. — The skeptical, licentious and seditious spirit. — Previous resentment and fresh discontent at the established order of things. — Sympathy for the theories against it. - How far accepted.
Listen to the shouts that greet him: Hurrah for the author of the Henriade! the defender of Calas, the author of La Pucelle! Nobody of the present day would utter the first, nor especially the last hurrah. This indicates the tendency of the century; not only were writers called upon for ideas, but again for antagonistic ideas. To render an aristocracy inactive is to render it rebellious; people are more willing to submit to rules they have themselves helped to enforce. Would you rally them to the support of the government? Then let them take part in it. If not they stand by as an onlooker and see nothing but the mistakes it commits, feeling only its irritations, and disposed only to criticize and to hoot at it. In fact, in this case, they are as if in the theater, where they go to be amused, and, especially, not to be put to any inconvenience. What inconveniences in the established order of things, and indeed in any established order! — In the first place, religion. To the amiable “idlers” whom Voltaire describes, to “the 100,000 persons with nothing to do but to play and to amuse themselves,” religion is the most disagreeable of pedagogues, always scolding, hostile to sensible amusement and free discussion, burning books which one wants to read, and imposing dogmas that are no longer comprehensible. In plain terms religion is an eyesore, and whoever wishes to throw stones at her is welcome. — There is another bond, the moral law of the sexes. It seems onerous to men of pleasure, to the companions of Richelieu, Lauzun and Tilly, to the heroes of Crebillon the younger, and all others belonging to that libertine and gallant society for whom license has become the rule. Our fine gentlemen are quite ready to adopt a theory which justifies their practices. They are very glad to be told that marriage is conventional and a thing of prejudice. Saint- Lambert obtains their applause at supper when, raising a glass of champagne, he proposes as a toast a return to nature and the customs of Tahiti. The last fetter of all is the government, the most galling, for it
Just at this moment the new architects appear, with their specious arguments and their ready-made plans, proving that every great public structure, religious and moral, and all communities, cannot be otherwise than barbarous and unhealthy, since, thus far, they are built up out of bits and pieces, by degrees, and generally by fools and savages, in any event by common masons, who built aimlessly, feeling their way and devoid of principles. As far as they are concerned, they are genuine architects, and they have principles, that is to say, Reason, Nature, and the Rights of Man, straightforward and fruitful principles which everybody can understand, all that has to be done is to draw their consequences making it possible to replace the imperfect tenements of the past with the admirable edifice of the future. — To irreverent, Epicurean and philanthropic malcontents the temptation is a great one. They readily adopt maxims which
The diffusion among the upper class. — Progress of incredulity in religion. — Its causes.- It breaks out under the Regency. — Increasing irritation against the clergy. — Materialism in the drawing-room. — Estimate of the sciences. — Final opinion on religion. — Skepticism of the higher clergy.
Let us follow the progress of philosophy in the upper class. Religion is the first to receive the severest attacks. The small group of skeptics, which is hardly perceptible under Louis XIV, has obtained its recruits in the dark; in 1698 the Palatine, the mother of the Regent, writes that “we scarcely meet a young man now who is not ambitious of being an atheist." Under the Regency, unbelief comes out into open daylight. “I doubt,” says this lady again, in 1722, “if; in all Paris, a hundred individuals can be found, either ecclesiastics or laymen, who have any true faith, or even believe in our Lord. It makes one tremble. . . .” The position of an ecclesiastic in society is already difficult. He is looked upon, apparently, as either a puppet or a dickey (a false shirt front). “The moment we appear,” says one of them, “we are forced into discussion; we are called upon to prove, for example, the utility of prayer to an unbeliever in God, and the necessity of fasting to a man who has all his life denied the immortality of the soul; the effort is very irksome, while those who laugh are not on our side.” It is not long before the continued scandal of confession tickets and the stubbornness of the bishops in not allowing ecclesiastical property to be taxed, excites opinion against the clergy, and, as a matter of course, against religion itself. “There is danger,” says Barbier in 1751, “that this may end seriously; we may some day see a revolution in this country in favor of Protestantism." “The hatred against the priests,” writes d’Argenson in 1753, “is carried to extremes. They scarcely show themselves in the streets without being hooted at. . . .As our nation and our century are quite otherwise enlightened (than in the time of Luther), it will be carried far enough; they will expel the priests, abolish the priesthood and get rid of all revelation and all mystery. . . . One dare not speak in behalf of the clergy in social circles; one is scoffed at and regarded as a familiar of the inquisition. The priests remark that, this year, there is a diminution of more than one-third in the number of communicants. The College of the Jesuits is being deserted; one hundred and twenty boarders have been withdrawn from these so greatly defamed monks. It has been observed also that, during the carnival in Paris, the number of masks counterfeiting ecclesiastical dress, bishops, abbés, monks and nuns, was never so great.” — So deep is this antipathy, the most mediocre books become the rage so long as they are anti-Christian and condemned as such. In 1748 a work by Toussaint called “Les Moeurs,” in favor of natural religion, suddenly becomes so famous, “that there is no one among a certain class of people,” writes Barbier, “man or woman, pretending to be intellectual, who is not eager to read it.” People accost each other on their promenades, Have you read “Les Moeurs”? — Ten years later they are beyond deism. “Materialism,”
This is very strong, and yet we have not come to the end of it; for, thus far, impiety is less a conviction than the fashion. Walpole, a careful observer, is not deluded by it. “By what I have said of their religious or rather irreligious opinions, you must not conclude their people of quality atheists — at least not the men. Happily for them, poor souls! they are not capable of going so far into thinking. They assent to a great deal because it is the fashion, and because they don’t know how to contradict.” Now that “dandies are outmoded” and everybody is “a philosopher,” “they are philosophers.” It is essential to be like all the rest of the world. But that which they best appreciate in the new materialism is the pungency of paradox and the freedom given to pleasure. They are like the boys of good families, fond of playing tricks on their ecclesiastical preceptor. They take out of learned theories just what is wanted to make a dunce-cap, and derive the more amusement from the fun if it is seasoned with impiety. A seignior of the court having seen Doyen’s picture of “St. Genevieve and the plague-stricken,” sends to a painter the following day to come to him at his mistress’s domicile: “I would
But, as the century advances, unbelief, less noisy, becomes more solid. It invigorates itself at the fountain-head; the women themselves begin to be infatuated with the sciences. In 1782, one of Mme. de Genlis’s characters writes,
Five years ago I left them thinking only of their attire and the preparation of their suppers; I now find them all scientific and witty.” We find in the study of a fashionable woman, alongside of a small altar dedicated to Benevolence or Friendship, a dictionary of natural history and treatises on physics and chemistry. A woman no longer has herself painted as a goddess on a cloud but in a laboratory, seated amidst squares and telescopes. The Marquise de Nesle, the Comtesse de Brancas, the Comtesse de Pons, the Marquise de Polignac, are with Rouelle when he undertakes to melt and volatilize the diamond. Associations of twenty or twenty-five persons are formed in the drawing-rooms to attend lectures either on physics, applied chemistry, mineralogy or on botany. Fashionable women at the public meetings of the Academy of Inscriptions applaud dissertations on the bull Apis, and reports on the Egyptian, Phoenician and Greek languages. Finally, in 1786, they succeed in opening the doors of the College de France. Nothing deters them. Many of them use the lancet and even the scalpel; the Marquise de Voyer attends at dissections, and the young Comtesse de Coigny dissects with her own hands. The current infidelity finds fresh support on this foundation, which is that of the prevailing philosophy. Towards the end of the century “we see young persons who have been in society six or seven years openly pluming themselves on their irreligion, thinking that impiety makes up for wit, and that to be an atheist is to be a philosopher.” There are, undoubtedly, a good many deists, especially after Rousseau appeared,
The last and gravest sign of all! If the curates who work and who are of the people hold the people’s ideas, the prelates who talk, and who are of society hold the opinions of society. And I do not allude merely to the abbés of the drawing-room, the domestic courtiers, bearers of news, and writers of light verse, those who fawn in boudoirs, and who, when in company, answer like an echo, and who, between one drawing room and another, serve as megaphone; an echo, a megaphone only repeats the phrase, whether skeptical or not, with which it is charged. I refer to the dignitaries, and, on this point, the witnesses all concur. In the month of August, 1767, the Abbé Bassinet, grand vicar of Cahors, on pronouncing the panegyric of St. Louis in the Louvre chapel, “suppressed the sign of the cross, making no quotation from Scripture and never uttering a word about Christ and the Saints. He considered Louis IX merely on the side of his political, moral and military virtues. He animadverted on the Crusades, setting forth their absurdity, cruelty and even injustice. He struck openly and without caution at the see of Rome.” Others “avoid the name of Christ in the pulpit and merely allude to him as a Christian legislator." In the code
Progress of political opposition. — Its origin. — The economists and the parliamentarians. — They prepare the way for the philosophers. — Political fault-finding in the drawing-rooms. — Female liberalism.
The distance between the altar and the throne is a short one, and yet it requires thirty years for opinion to overcome it. No political or social attacks are yet made during the first half of the century. The irony of the “Lettres Persanes"is as cautious as it is delicate, and the " Esprit des Lois” is conservative. As to the Abbé de Saint-Pierre his reveries provoke a smile, and when he undertakes to censure Louis XIV the Academy strikes him off its list. At last, the economists on one side and the parliamentarians on the other, give the signal. — Voltaire says that “about 1750 the nation, satiated with verse, tragedies, comedies, novels, operas, romantic histories, and still more romantic moralizings, and with disputes about grace and convulsions, began to discuss the question of corn.” What makes bread dear? Why is the laborer so miserable? What constitutes the material and limits of taxation? Ought not all land to pay taxes, and should one piece pay more than its net product? These are the questions that find their way into drawing-rooms under the king’s auspices, by means of Quesnay, his physician, “his thinker,” the founder of a system which aggrandizes the sovereign to relieve the people, and which multiplies the number of tax-payers to lighten the burden of taxation. — At the same time, through the opposite door, other questions enter, not less novel. “Is France a mild and representative monarchy or a government of the Turkish stamp? Are we subject to the will of an absolute master, or are we governed by a limited and regulated power? . . . The exiled parliaments are studying public rights at their sources and conferring together on these as in the academies. Through their researches, the opinion is gaining ground in the public mind that the nation is above the king, as the universal church is above the pope.” — The change is striking and almost immediate. “Fifty years ago,” says d’Argenson, again, “the public showed no curiosity concerning matters of the State. Today everybody reads his Gazette de Paris, even in the provinces. People reason at random on political subjects, but nevertheless they occupy themselves with them.” — Conversation having once provided itself with this diet holds fast to it, the drawing-rooms, accordingly, opening their doors to political philosophy, and, consequently, to the Social Contract, to the Encyclopedia, to the preachings of Rousseau, Mably, d’Holbach, Raynal, and Diderot. In 1759, d’Argenson, who becomes excited, already thinks the last hour has come. “We feel the breath of a philosophical anti-monarchical, free government wind; the idea is current, and possibly this form of government, already in some minds, is to be carried out the first favorable opportunity. Perhaps the revolution might take place with less opposition than one supposes, occurring by acclamation.
The time is not yet come, but the seed is coming up. Bachaumont, in 1762, notices a deluge of pamphlets, tracts and political discussions, “a rage for arguing on financial and government matters.” In 1765, Walpole states that the atheists, who then monopolize conversation, inveigh against kings as well as against priests. A formidable word, that of citizen, imported by Rousseau, has entered into common speech, and the matter is settled on the women adopting it as they would a cockade. “As a friend and a citoyenne could any news be more agreeable to me than that of peace and the health of my dear little one?" Another word, not less significant, that of energy, formerly ridiculous, becomes fashionable, and is used on every occasion. Along with language there is a change of sentiment, ladies of high rank passing over to the opposition. In 1771, says the scoffer Bezenval, after the exile of the Parliament “social meetings for pleasure or other purposes had become petty States-Generals in which the women, transformed into legislators, established the premises and confidently propounded maxims of public right.” The Comtesse d’Egmont, a correspondent of the King of Sweden, sends him a paper on the fundamental law of France, favoring the Parliament, the last defender of national liberty, against the encroachments of Chancellor Maupeou. “The Chancellor,” she says, “within the last six months has brought people to know the history of France who would have died without any knowledge of it. . . . I have no doubt, sire,” she adds, “that you never will abuse the power an enraptured people have entrusted to you without limitation. . . . May your reign prove the epoch of the re-establishment of a free and independent government, but never the source of absolute authority.” Numbers of women of the first rank, Mesdames de la Marck, de Boufflers, de Brienne, de Mesmes, de Luxembourg, de Croy, think and write in the same style. “Absolute power,” says one of these, “is a mortal malady which, insensibly corrupting moral qualities, ends in the destruction of states. . . . The actions of sovereigns are subject to the censure of their subjects as to that of the universe. . . . France is undone if the present administration lasts." - When, under Louis XVI, a new administration proposes and withdraws feeble measures of reform. their criticism shows the same firmness: “Childishness, weakness, constant inconsistency,” writes another, “incessant change; and always worse off than we were before. Monsieur and M. le Comte d’Artois have just made a journey through the provinces, but only as people of that kind travel, with a frightful expenditure and devastation along the whole road, coming back extraordinarily fat; Monsieur is as big as a hogshead; as to M. le Comte d’Artois he is bringing about order by the life he leads.” — An inspiration of humanity animates these feminine breasts along with that of liberty. They interest
Infinite, vague aspirations. — Generosity of sentiments and of conduct. — The mildness and good intentions of the government. — Its blindness and optimism.
An aristocracy imbued with humanitarian and radical maxims, courtiers hostile to the court, privileged persons aiding in undermining privileges, presents to us a strange spectacle in the testimony of the time. A contemporary states that it is an accepted principle “to change and upset everything." High and low, in assemblages, in public places, only reformers and opposing parties are encountered among the privileged classes.
“In 1787, almost every prominent man of the peerage in the Parliament declared himself in favor of resistance. . . . I have seen at the dinners we then attended almost every idea put forward, which, soon afterwards, produced such startling effects." Already in 1774, M. de Vaublanc, on his way to Metz, finds a diligence containing an ecclesiastic and a count, a colonel in the hussars, talking political economy constantly. “It was the fashion of the day. Everybody was an economist.
They do not content themselves with dreams, with pure desires, with passive aspirations. They are active, and truly generous; a worthy cause suffices to secure their devotion. On the news of the American rebellion, the Marquis de Lafayette, leaving his young wife pregnant, escapes, braves the orders of the court, purchases a frigate, crosses the ocean and fights by the side of Washington. “The moment the quarrel was made known to me,” he says, “my heart was enlisted in it, and my only thought was to rejoin my regiment.” Numbers of gentlemen follow in his footsteps. They undoubtedly love danger; “the chance of being shot is too precious to be neglected." But the main thing is to emancipate the oppressed; “we showed ourselves philosophers by becoming paladins," the chivalric sentiment enlisting in the service of liberty. Other services besides these, more sedentary and less brilliant, find no fewer zealots. The chief personages of the provinces in the provincial assemblies, the bishops, archbishops, abbés, dukes, counts, and marquises, with the wealthiest and best informed of the notables in the Third-Estate, in all about a thousand persons, in short the social elect, the entire upper class convoked by the king, organize the budget, defend the tax-payer against the fiscal authorities, arrange the land-registry, equalize the taille, provide a substitute for the corvée, provide public roads, multiply charitable asylums, educate agriculturists, proposing, encouraging and directing every species of reformatory movement. I have read through the twenty volumes of their procès-verbaux: no better citizens, no more conscientious men, no more devoted administrators can be found, none gratuitously
“The nobility of the bailiwick of Tours,” says the Marquis de Lusignan, “considering that they are men and citizens before being nobles, can make amends in no way more in conformity with the spirit of justice and patriotism that animates the body, for the long silence to which it has been condemned by the abuse of ministerial power, than in declaring to their fellow-citizens that, in future, they will claim none of the pecuniary advantages secured to them by custom, and that they unanimously and solemnly bind themselves to bear equally, each in proportion to his fortune, all taxes and general contributions which the nation shall prescribe.”
“I repeat,” says the Comte de Buzançois at the meeting of the Third-Estate of Berry, “that we are all brothers, and that we are anxious to share your burdens. . . . We desire to have but one single voice go up to the assembly and thus manifest the union and harmony which should prevail there. I am directed to make the proposal to you to unite with you in one memorandum. "
“These qualities are essential in a deputy,” says the Marquis de Barbancon speaking for the nobles of Chateauroux, “integrity, firmness and knowledge; the first two are equally found among the deputies of the three orders; but knowledge will be more generally found in the Third-Estate, which is more accustomed to public affairs.”
“A new order of things is unfolding before us,” says the Abbé Legrand in the name of the clergy of Chateauroux; “the veil of prejudice is being torn away and giving place to Reason. She is possessing herself of all French hearts, attacking at the root whatever is based on former opinion and deriving her power only from herself.”
Not only do the privileged classes make advances but it is no effort to them; they use the same language as the people of the Third-Estate; they are disciples of the same philosophers and seem to start from the same principles. The nobility of Clermont in Beauvoisis orders its deputies “to demand, first of all, an explicit declaration of the rights belonging to all men.” The nobles of Mantes and Meulan affirm “that political principles are as absolute as moral principles, since both have reason for a common basis.” The nobles of Rheims demand “that the king be entreated to order the demolition of the Bastille.” Frequently, after such expressions and with such a yielding disposition, the delegates of the nobles and clergy are greeted in the assemblies of the ’Third-Estate with the clapping of hands, “tears” and enthusiasm. On witnessing such effusions how can one avoid believing in concord? And how can one foresee strife at the first turn of the road on which they have just fraternally entered hand in hand?
Wisdom of this melancholy stamp is not theirs. They set out with the principle that man, and especially the man of the people, is good; why conjecture that he may desire evil for those who wish him well? They are conscientious in their benevolence and sympathy for him. Not only do they utter these sentiments but they give them proof. “At this moment,” says a contemporary, “the most active pity animates all breasts; the great dread of the opulent is to appear insensible.” The archbishop of Paris, subsequently followed and stoned, is the donator of 100,000 crowns to the hospital of the Hôtel-Dieu. The intendant Berthier, who is to be massacred, draws up the new assessment-roll of the Ile-de-France, equalizing the taille, which act allows him to abate the rate, at first, an eighth, and next, a quarter. The financier Beaujon constructs a hospital. Necker refuses the salary of his place and lends the treasury two millions to re-establish public credit. The Duc de Charost, from 1770 down, abolishes seigniorial corvées on his domain and founds a hospital in his seigniory of Meillant. The Prince de Beaufremont, the presidents de Vezet, de Chamolles, de Chaillot, with many seigniors beside in Franche-Comté, follow the example of the king in emancipating their serfs. The bishop of Saint-Claude demands, in spite of his chapter, the enfranchisement of his mainmorts. The Marquis de Mirabeau establishes on his domain in Limousin a gratuitous bureau for the settlement of lawsuits, while daily, at Fleury, he causes nine hundred pounds of cheap bread to be made for the use of “the poor people, who fight to see who shall have it." M. de Barral, bishop of Castres, directs his curates to preach and to diffuse the cultivation of potatoes. The Marquis de Guerchy himself mounts on the top of a pile of hay with Arthur Young to learn how to construct a hay-stack. The Marquis de Lasteyrie imports lithography into
 Stendhal, “Rome, Naples et Florence,” 371.
 Morellet, “Mémoires,” I. 139 (on the writings and conversations of Diderot, d,Holbach and the atheists). “At that time, in this philosophy, all seemed innocent enough, it being confined to the limits of speculation, and never seeking, even in its boldest flights, anything beyond a calm intellectual exercise.
 “L’Homme aux quarante écus.” Cf. Voltaire, “Mémoires,” the suppers given by Frederick II. “Never in any place in the world was there greater freedom of conversation concerning the superstitions of mankind.
 Morellet, Mémoires,” I. 133.
 Galiani, “Correspondance, passim.
 Bachaumont, III. 93 (1766), II. 202 (1765).
 Geffroy, “Gustave III.,” I. 114.
 Villemain, “Tableau de la Litterature au dix-huitième siècle,” IV. 409.
 Grimm, “corresp. littéraire,” IV. 176. De Ségur, “Mémoires,” I. 113.
 “Princesse de Babylone.” — Cf. “le Mondain.”
 Here we may have an important motive for the socialist attitudes towards sexual morality as it was during the activie nineteen seventies until the unexpected appearance of aids put an abrupt end to the proceedings. (Sr.)
 Mme. d’Epinay, ed. Boiteau, I. 216: at a supper given by Mlle. Quinault, the comedian, at which are present Saint-Lambert, the Prince de . . . . , Duclos and Mme. d’Epinay.
 For example, the father of Marmant, a military gentleman, who, having won the cross of St. Louis at twenty-eight, abandons the service because he finds that promotion is only for people of the court. In retirement on his estates he is a liberal, teaching his son to read the reports made by Necker. (Marshal Marmont, “Mémoires,” I. 9).
 Aubertin, “L’Esprit public,” in the 18th century, p. 7.
 Montesquieu, “Lettres Persanes,” (Letter 61). — Cf. Voltaire, ("Dîner du Comte de Boulainvilliers").
 Aubertin, pp. 281, 282, 285, 289.
 Horace Walpole, “Letters and Correspondence,” Sept. 27th, 1765, October 18th, 28th, and November 19th, 1766.
 “Journal et Mémoires de Collé,” published by H. Bonhomme, II. 24 (October, 1755), and III.165 (October 1767).
 “Corresp. littéraire,” by Grimm (September, October, 1770).
 Mme. De Genlis, “Adèle et Théodore,” I, 312.
 De Goncourt, “La femme au dix-huitième siècle,” 371-373. — Bachaumont, I. 224 (April 13, 1763).
 Mme. de Genlis, “Adèle et Théodore,” II. 326.
 “Tableau de Paris,” III.44.
 Métra. “Correspondance secrète,” XVII. 387 (March 7, 1785).
 De Goncourt, ibid. 456. — Vicomtesse de Noailles, “Vie de la Princesse de Poix,” formerly de Beauvau.
 The Abbé de Latteignaut, canon of Rheims, the author of some light poetry and convivial songs, “has just composed for Nicolet’s theater a parade in which the intrigue is supported by a good many broad jests, very much in the fashion at this time. The courtiers who give the tone to this theater think the canon of Rheims superb.” (Bachaumont, IV. 174, November, 1768).
 Bachaumont, III. 253. — Châteaubriand, “Mémoires,” I. 246.
 Champfort, 279.
 Merlin de Thionville, “Vie et correspondance,” by Jean Raynaud. ("La Chartreuse du Val Saint-Pierre.” Read the entire passage). — “Souvenirs Manuscrits,” by M — ..
 Rivarol, “Mémoires,” I. 344.
 Mercier, IV. 142. “In Auvergne, says M. de Montlosier, I formed for myself a society of priests, men of wit, some of whom were deists and others open atheists, with whom I carried on a contest with my brother.” ("Mémoires,” I.37).
 Lafayette. “Mémoires,” III. 58.
 “Dict. Phil.” article “Wheat.” — The most important work of Quesnay is of the year 1758, “Tableau économique.”
 D’Argenson, “Mémoires,” IV. 141; VI. 320, 465; VII. 23; VIII. 153, (1752, 1753, 1754). — Rousseau’s discourse on Inequality belongs also to 1753. On this steady march of opinion consult the excellent work of d’Aubertin, “L’Esprit public au dix-huitième siècle.”
 This seems to be prophetic of the night of August 4, 1789.
 “Corresp. de Laurette de Malboissière,” published by the Marquise de la Grange. (Sept. 4, 1762, November 8, 1762).
 Madame du Deffant in a letter to Madame de Choiseul, (quoted by Geffroy), “Gustave et la cour de France,” I. 279.
 Geffroy, ibid. I. 232, 241, 245.
 Geffroy, ibid. I.267, 281. See letters by Madame de Boufflers (October, 1772, July 1774).
 Ibid.. I. 285. The letters of Mme. de la March (1776, 1777, 1779).
 A victim of religious rancor against the protestants, whose cause, taken op by Voltaire, excited great indignation.- Tr.
 Bachaumont, III. 14 (March 28, 1766. Walpole, Oct. 6, 1775).
 Geffloy, ibid. (A letter by Mme Staël, 5776).
 Collé, “Journal,” III. 437 (1770) : “Women have got the upper hand with the French to such an extent, they have so subjugated them, that they neither feel nor think except as they do.”
 “Correspondance,” by Métra, III. 200; IV. 131.
 “Mémoires du Chancelier Pasquier, Ed. Plon Paris 1893, Vol. I. page26.
 De Vaublanc, “Souvenirs,” I. 117, 377.
 De Ségur, “Mémoires,” I. 17.
 Ibid. I. 151. “I saw the entire Court at the theater in the château at Versailles enthusiastically applaud Voltaire’s tragedy of ‘Brutus,’ and especially these lines:
Je suis fils de Brutus, et je porte en mon coeur
La liberté gravée et les rois en horreur.”
 De Lauzun, 80 (in relation to his expedition into Corsica).
 De Ségur, I. 87.
 The assemblies of Berry and Haute-Guyenne began in 1778 and 1779; those of other generalships in 1787. All functioned until 1789. (Cf. Léonce de Lavergne, “Les Assemblées provinciales").
 Léonce de Lavergne, ibid. 26, 55, 183. The tax department of the provincial assembly of Tours likewise makes its demands on the privileged class in the matter of taxation.
 Procés-verbaux of the prov. ass. of Normandy, the generalship of Alençon, 252. — Cf. Archives nationales, II, 1149: in 1778 in the generalship of Moulins, thirty-nine persons, mostly nobles, supply from their own funds 18,950 livres to the 60,000 livres allowed by the king for roads and asylums.
 Archives nationales, procès-verbaux and registers of the States-General, vol. XLIX. p.712, 714 (the nobles and clergy of Dijon); vol. XVI. p. 183 (the nobles of Auxerre) vol. XXIX. pp.352, 455, 458 (the clergy and nobles of Berry); vol. CL. p.266 (the clergy and nobles of Tours); vol. XXIX; the clergy and nobles of Chateauroux, (January 29, 1789); pp. 572, 582. vol. XIII. 765 (the nobles of Autun). — See as a summary of the whole, the “Résumé des Cahiers” by Prud’homme, 3 vols.
 Prud’homme, ibid.. II. 39, 51, 59. De Lavergne, 384. In 1788, two hundred gentlemen of the first families of Dauphiny sign, conjointly with the clergy and the Third-Estate of the province, an address to the king in which occurs the following passage: “Neither time nor obligation legitimizes despotism; the rights of men derive from nature alone and are independent of their engagements.”
 Lacretelle, “Hist. de France au dix-huitième siècle,” V.2.
 Procès-verbeaux of the prov. ass. of the Ile-de-France (1787), p.127.
 De Lavergne, ibid.. 52, 369.
 “Le cri de la raison,” by Clerget, curé d’Onans (1789), p.258.
 Lucas de Montigny, “Mémoires de Mirabeau,” I. 290, 368. — Théron de Montaugé, “L’agriculture et les classes rurales dans le pays Toulousain,” p. 14.
 “Foreigners generally could scarcely form an idea of the power of public opinion at this time in France; they can with difficulty comprehend the nature of that invisible power which commands even in the king’s palace.” (Necker, 1784, quoted by De Tocqueville).
 Granier de Cassagnac, II. 236. — M. de Malesherbes, according to custom, inspected the different state prisons, at the beginning of the reign of Louis XVI. “He told me himself that he had only released two.” (Senac de Meilhan, “Du gouvemement, des moeurs, et des conditions en France.").
 Archives nationales, II. 1418, 1149, F. 14, 2073. (Assistance rendered to various suffering provinces and places.)
 Aubertin, p.484 (according to Bachaumont).
 De Lavergne, 472.
 Mathieu Dumas, “Mémoires,” I.426. — Sir Samuel Romilly, “Mémoires,” I. 99.— “Confidence increased even to extravagance,” (Mme. de Genlis). — On the 29th June, 1789, Necker said at the council of the king at Marly, “What is more frivolous than the fears now entertained concerning the organization of the assembly of the States-General? No law can be passed without obtaining the king’s assent” (De Barentin, “Mémoires,” p. 187). — Address of the National Assembly to its constituents, October 2, 1789. “A great revolution of which the idea should have appeared chimerical a few months since has been effected amongst us.”
I. The past.
The former spirit of the Third-Estate. — Public matters concern the king only. — Limits of the Jansenist and parliamentarian opposition.
The new philosophy, confined to a select circle, had long served as a mere luxury for refined society. Merchants, manufacturers, shopkeepers, lawyers, attorneys, physicians, actors, professors, curates, every description of functionary, employee and clerk, the entire middle class, had been absorbed with its own cares. The horizon of each was limited, being that of the profession or occupation which each exercised, that of the corporation in which each one was comprised, of the town in which each one was born, and, at the utmost, that of the province which each one inhabited. A dearth of ideas coupled with conscious diffidence restrained the bourgeois within his hereditary barriers. His eyes seldom chanced to wander outside of them into the forbidden and dangerous territory of state affairs; hardly was a furtive and rare glance bestowed on any of the public acts, on the matters which “belonged to the king.” There was no critical irritability then, except with the bar, the compulsory satellite of the Parliament, and borne along in its orbit. In 1718, after a session of the royal court (lit de justice), the lawyers of Paris being on a strike the Regent exclaims angrily and with astonishment, “What! those fellows meddling too!" It must be stated furthermore that many kept themselves in the background. “My father and myself,” afterwards writes the advocate Barbier, “took no part in the uproars, among those caustic and turbulent spirits.” and he adds this significant article of faith: “I believe that one has to fulfill his duties honorably, without concerning oneself with state affairs, in which one has no mission and exercises no power.” During the first half of the eighteenth century I am able to discover but one center of opposition in the Third-Estate , the Parliament; and around it, feeding the flame, the ancient Gallican or Jansenist spirit. “The good city of Paris,” writes Barbier in 1733, “is Jansenist
II. Change in the condition of the bourgeois.
Change in the condition of the bourgeois. — He becomes wealthy. - He makes loans to the State. — The danger of his creditorship. — He interests himself in public matters.
The uprising is, however, late to catch on among the middle class, and, before it can take hold, the resistant material must gradually be made inflammable. — In the eighteenth century a great change takes place in the condition of the Third-Estate . The bourgeois has worked, manufactured, traded, earned and saved money, and has daily become richer and richer. This great expansion of enterprises, of trade, of speculation and of fortunes dates from Law; arrested by war it reappears with more vigor and more animation at each interval of peace after the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, and that of Paris in 1763, and especially after the beginning of the reign of Louis XVI. The exports of France which amounted to
106 millions in 1720
124 millions in 1735
192 millions in 1748
257 millions in 1755
309 millions in 1776
354 millions in 1788.
In 1786 Saint Domingo alone ships back to France for 131 millions of its products, and in return receives 44 millions in merchandise. As a result of these exchanges we see, at Nantes, and at Bordeaux, the creation of colossal commercial houses. “I consider Bordeaux, says Arthur Young, as richer and doing more business than any city in England except London; . . . of late years the progress of maritime commerce has been more rapid in France than even in England." According to an administrator of the day, if the taxes on the consumption of products daily increase the revenue, this is because the industry since 1774 has developed a number of new products. And this progress is regular and constant. “We may calculate,” says Necker in 1781, “on an increase of two millions a year on all the duties on consumption.” — In this great exertion of innovation, labor and engineering, Paris, constantly growing, is the central workshop. It enjoys, to a much greater extent than today, the monopoly of all works of intelligence and taste, books, pictures, engravings, statues, jewelry, toilet details, carriages, furniture, articles of fashion and rarity, whatever affords pleasure and ornamentation for an elegant worldly society; all Europe is supplied by it. In 1774 its trade in books is estimated at 45 millions, and that of London at only one-quarter of that sum. Upon the profits many immense and even more numerous moderate fortunes were built up, and these now became available for investment. — In fact, we see the noblest hands stretching out to receive them, princes of the blood, provincial assemblies, assemblies of the clergy, and, at the head of all, the king, who, the most needy, borrows at ten percent and is always in search of additional lenders. Already under Fleury, the debt has augmented to 18 millions in interests, and during the Seven years’ War, to 34 millions. Under Louis XVI., M. Necker borrows a capital of 530 millions; M. Joly de Fleury, 300 millions; M. de Calonne, 800 millions; in all 1630 millions over a period of ten years. The interest of the public debt, only 45 millions in 1755, reaches 106 millions in 1776 and amounts to 206 millions in 1789. What creditors which these few figures tell us about ! As the Third-Estate , it must be noted, is the sole class making and saving money, nearly all these creditors belong it. Thousands of others must be added to these. In the first place, the financiers who make advances to the government, advances that are indispensable, because, from time immemorial, it has eaten its corn on the blade, so the present year is always gnawing into the product of coming years; there are 80 millions of advances in 1759, and 170 millions in 1783. In the second place there are so many suppliers, large and small, who, on all parts of the territory, keep accounts with the government for their supplies and for public works, a veritable army and increasing daily, since the government, impelled by centralization, takes sole responsibility for all ventures, and, requested by public opinion, it increases the number of undertakings useful to the public. Under Louis XV. the State builds six thousand leagues of roads, and under Louis XVI. in 1788, to guard against famine, it purchases grain to the amount of forty millions.
Through this increase of activity and its demands for capital the State becomes the universal debtor; henceforth public affairs are no longer exclusively the king’s business. His creditors become uneasy at his expenditures; for it is their money he wastes, and, if he proves a bad administrator, they will be ruined. They want to know something of his budget, to examine his books: a lender always has the right to look after his securities. We accordingly see the bourgeois raising his head and beginning to pay close attention to the great machine whose performances, hitherto concealed from vulgar eyes, have, up to the present time, been kept a state secret. He becomes a politician, and, at the same time, discontented. For it cannot be denied that these matters, in which he is interested, are badly conducted. Any young man of good family managing affairs in the same way would be checked. The expenses of the administration of the State are always in excess of the revenue. According to official admissions the annual deficit amounted to 70 in 1770, and 80 millions in 1783; when one has attempted to reduce this it has been through bankruptcies; one to the tune of two milliards at the end of the reign of Louis XIV, and another almost equal to it in the time of Law, and another on from a third to a half of all the interests in the time of Terray, without mentioning suppressions in detail, reductions, indefinite delays in payment, and other violent and fraudulent means which a powerful debtor employs with impunity against a feeble creditor. “Fifty-six violations of public faith have occurred from Henry IV down to the ministry of M. de Loménie inclusive," while a last bankruptcy, more frightful than the others, loom up on the horizon. Several persons, Bezenval and Linguet for instance, earnestly recommend it as a necessary and salutary amputation. Not only are there precedents for this, and in this respect the government will do no more than follow its own example, but such is its daily practice, since it lives only from day to day, by dint of expedients and delays, digging one hole to stop up another, and escaping failure only through the forced patience which it imposes on its creditors. With it, says a contemporary, people were never sure of anything, being always obliged to wait. “Were their capital invested in its loans, they could never rely on a fixed date for the payment of interest. Did they build ships, repair highways, or the soldiers clothed, they had no guarantees for their advances, no certificates of repayment, being reduced to calculate the chances involved in a ministerial contract as they would the risks of a bold speculation.” It pays if it can and only when it can, even the members of the household, the purveyors of the table and the personal attendants of the king. In 1753 the domestics of Louis XV had received nothing for three years. We have seen how his grooms went out to beg during the night in the streets of Versailles;
III. Social promotion.
He rises on the social ladder. — The noble draws near to him. - He becomes cultivated. — He enters into society. — He regards himself as the equal of the noble. — Privileges an annoyance.
Meanwhile this class has climbed up the social ladder, and, through its élite, rejoined those in the highest position. Formerly between Dorante and M. Jourdain, between Don Juan and M. Dimanche, between M. Sotenville himself and Georges Dandin, the distance was vast; everything was different — dress, house, habits, characters, points of honor, ideas and language. On the one hand the nobles are drawn nearer to the Third-Estate and, on the other, the Third-Estate is drawn nearer to the nobles, actual equality having preceded equality as a right. — On the approach of the year 1789 it was difficult to distinguish one from the other in the street. The sword is no longer worn by gentlemen in the city; they have abandoned embroideries and laces, and walk about in plain frock-coats, or drive themselves in their cabriolets. “The simplicity of English customs,” and the customs of the Third-Estate seem to them better adapted to ordinary life. Their prominence proves irksome to them and they grow weary of being always on parade. Henceforth they accept familiarity that they may enjoy freedom of action, and are content “to mingle with their fellow-citizens without obstacle or ostentation. — - “It is certainly a grave sign, and the old feudal spirits have reason to tremble. The Marquis de Mirabeau, on learning that his son wishes to act as his own lawyer, consoles himself by seeing others, of still higher rank, do much worse.
“As it was difficult to accept the idea that the grandson of my father, whom we just had seen pass by on the promenade, everybody, young and old, raising their hats to him from afar, would soon be seen at the bar of a lower tribunal, there to contest minor legal matters with pettifoggers; but I said to myself, however, that Louis XIV would be still more astonished had he seen the wife of his grand-successor dressed in a peasant’s frock and apron, with no attendants, not a page or any one else, running about the palace and the terraces, requesting the first scamp in a frock-coat she encountered to give her his hand, which he simply does, all the way down to the foot of the steps.”
But the leveling of manners and appearances of life reflected, indeed, only an equalization of minds and tempers. The antique scenery being torn away indicates the disappearance of the sentiments to which it belonged. It indicated gravity, dignity, custom of self-control and of exposed, in authority and command. It was the rigid and sumptuous parade of a social corps of staff-officers. At this time the parade is discontinued because the corps has been dissolved. If the nobles dress like the bourgeoisie it is owing to their having become bourgeois, that is to say, idlers retired from business, with nothing to do but to talk and amuse themselves. — Undoubtedly they amuse themselves and converse like people of refinement; but it is not very difficult to equal them in this respect. Now that the Third-Estate has acquired its wealth a good many commoners have become people of society. The successors of Samuel Bernard are no longer so many Turcarets, but Paris-Duverneys, Saint-Jameses, Labordes, refined men, people of culture and of feeling, possessing tact, literary and philosophical attainments, benevolent, giving parties and knowing how to entertain. With them, slightly different, we find the same company as with a grand lord, the same ideas and the same tone. Their sons, messieurs de Villemer, de Francueil, d’Epinay, throw money out of the window with as much elegance as the young dukes with whom they sup. A parvenu with money and intellect soon learns the ropes, and his son, if not himself, is initiated: a few years’ exercises in an academy, a dancing-master, and one of the four thousand public offices which confer nobility, supply him with the deficient appearances. Now, in these times, as soon as one knows how to conform to the laws of good-breeding, how to bow and how to converse, one possesses a patent for admission everywhere. An Englishman remarks that one of the first expressions employed in praise of a man is, “he has a very graceful address.” The Maréchale de Luxembourg, so high-spirited, always selects Laharpe as her cavalier, because “he offers his arm so well.” — The commoner not only enters the drawing-room, if he is fitted for it, but he stands foremost in it if he has any talent. The first place in conversation, and even in public consideration, is
The nobility, to perfect their own accomplishments, borrow their pens and aspire to their successes. “We have recovered from those old Gothic and absurd prejudices against literary culture,” says the Prince de Hénin; “as for myself I would compose a comedy to-morrow if I had the talent, and if I happened to be made a little angry, I would perform in it.” And, in fact, “the Vicomte de Ségur, son of the minister of war, plays the part of the lover in ‘Nina’ on Mlle. de Guimard’s stage with the actors of the Italian Comedy." One of Mme. de Genlis’s personages, returning to Paris after five years’ absence, says that “he left men wholly devoted to play, hunting, and their small houses, and he finds them all turned authors." They hawk about their tragedies, comedies, novels, eclogues, dissertations and treatises of all kinds from one drawing room to another. They strive to get their pieces played; they previously submit them to the judgment of actors; they solicit a word of praise from the Mercure; they read fables at the sittings of the Academy. They become involved in the bickering, in the vainglory, in the pettiness of literary life, and still worse, of the life of the stage, inasmuch as they are themselves performers and play in company with real actors in hundreds of private theaters. Add to this, if you please, other petty amateur talents such as sketching in water-colors, writing songs, and playing the flute. — After this amalgamation of classes and this transfer of parts what remains of the superiority of the nobles? By what special merit, through what recognized capacity are they to secure respect of a member of the Third-Estate? Outside of fashionable elegance and a few points of breeding, in what respect they differ from him? What superior education, what familiarity with affairs, what experience with government, what political instruction, what local ascendancy, what moral authority can be alleged to sanction their pretensions to the highest places? — In the way of practice, the Third-Estate already does the work, providing the qualified men, the intendants, the ministerial head-clerks, the lay and ecclesiastical administrators, the competent laborers of all kinds and degrees. Call to mind the Marquis of whom we have just spoken, a former captain in the French guards, a man of feeling and of loyalty, admitting at the elections of 1789 that “the knowledge
IV. Rousseau’s philosophy spreads and takes hold.
Philosophy in the minds thus fitted for it. — That of Rousseau prominent. — This philosophy in harmony with new necessities. — It is adopted by the Third-Estate .
Distrust and anger against a government putting all fortunes at risk, rancor and hostility against a nobility barring all roads to popular advancement, are, then, the sentiments developing themselves among the middle class solely due to their advance in wealth and culture. — We can imagine the effect of the new philosophy upon people with such attitudes. At first, confined to the aristocratic reservoir, the doctrine filters out through numerous cracks like so many trickling streams, to scatter imperceptibly among the lower class. Already, in 1727, Barbier, a bourgeois of the old school and having little knowledge of philosophy and philosophers except the name, writes in his journal:
“A hundred poor families are deprived of the annuities on which they supported themselves, acquired with bonds for which the capital is obliterated; 56,000 livres are given in pensions to people who have held the best offices, where they have amassed considerable property, always at the expense of the people, and all this merely that they may rest themselves and do nothing."
One by one, reformative ideas penetrate to his office of consulting advocate; conversation has sufficed to propagate them, homely common sense needing no philosophy to secure their recognition.
“The tax on property,” said he, in 1750, “should be proportioned and equally distributed among all the king’s subjects and the members of the government, in proportion to the property each really possesses in the kingdom; in England, the lands of the nobility, the clergy and the Third-Estate pay alike without distinction, and nothing is more just.”
In the six years which follow the flood increases. People denounce the government in the cafés, on their promenades, while the police dare not arrest malcontents “because they would have to arrest everybody.” The disaffection goes on increasing up to the end of the reign. In 1744, says the bookseller Hardy, during the king’s illness at Metz, private individuals cause six thousand masses to be said for his recovery and pay for them at the sacristy of Notre Dame; in 1757, after Damiens’s attempt on the king’s life, the number of masses demanded is only six hundred; in 1774, during the malady which carries him off, the number falls down to three. The complete discredit of the government, the immense success of Rousseau, these two events, occurring simultaneously, afford a date for the conversion of the Third-Estate to philosophy. A traveler, at the beginning of the reign of Louis XVI, who returns home after some years’ absence, on being asked what change he noticed in the nation, replied, “Nothing, except that what used to be talked about in the drawing-rooms is repeated in the streets." And that which is repeated in the streets is Rousseau’s doctrine, the Discourse on Inequality, the Social Contract amplified, popularized and repeated by adherents in every possible way and in all their forms. What could be more
A competent judge, and an eye-witness, Mallet du Pan, writes in 1799:
“Rousseau had a hundred times more readers among the middle and lower classes than Voltaire. He alone inoculated the French with the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people and with its extremist consequences. It would be difficult to cite a single revolutionary who was not transported over these anarchical theories, and who did not burn with ardor to realize them. That Contrat Social, the disintegrator of societies, was the Koran of the pretentious talkers of 1789, of the Jacobins of 1790, of the republicans of 1791, and of the most atrocious of the madmen. . . . I heard Marat in 1788 read and comment on the Contrat Social in the public streets to the applause of an enthusiastic auditory.”
The same year, in an immense throng filling the great hall of the Palais de Justice, Lacretelle hears that same book quoted, its dogmas put forward by the clerks of la Bazoche, “by members of the bar, by young lawyers, by the ordinary lettered classes swarming with new-fledged specialist in public law.” Hundreds of details show us that it is in every hand like a catechism. In 1784 certain magistrates’ sons, on taking their first lesson in jurisprudence of an assistant professor, M. Saveste, have the “Contrat Social” placed in their hands as a manual. Those who find this new political geometry too difficult learn at least its axioms, and if these repel them they discover at least their palpable consequences, so many handy comparisons, the trifling common practice in the literature in vogue, whether drama, history, or romance. Through the “Eloges” by Thomas, the pastorals of Bernadin de Saint-Pierre,
V. Revolutionary passions.
Its effects therein. — The formation of revolutionary passions. - Leveling instincts. — The craving for dominion. — The Third-Estate decides and constitutes the nation. — Chimeras, ignorance, exaltation.
All these passions intensify each other. There is nothing like a wrong to quicken the sentiment of justice. There is nothing like the sentiment of justice to quicken the injury proceeding from a wrong. The Third-Estate, considering itself deprived of the place to which it is entitled, finds itself uncomfortable in the place it occupies and, accordingly, suffers through a thousand petty grievances it would not, formerly, have noticed. On discovering that he is a citizen a man is irritated at being treated as a subject, no one accepting an inferior position alongside of one of whom he believes himself the equal. Hence, during a period of twenty years, the ancient régime while attempting to grow easier, appear to be still more burdensome, and its pinpricks exasperate as if they were so many wounds. Countless instances might be quoted instead of one. — At the theater in Grenoble, Barnave, a child, is with his mother in a box which the Duc de Tonnerre, governor of the province, had assigned to one of his satellites. The manager of the theater, and next an officer of
“The most honorable title of the French nobility,” writes Champfort, “is a direct descent from some 30,000 armed, helmeted, armletted and armored men who, on heavy horses sheathed in armor, trod under foot 8 or 10 millions of naked men, the ancestors of the actual nation. Behold these well-established claims to the respect and affection of their descendants! And, to complete the respectability of this nobility, it is recruited and regenerated by the adoption of those who have acquired fortune by plundering the cabins of the poor who are unable to pay its impositions." —
“Why should not the Third-Estate send back,” says Sieyès, “into the forests of Franconia every family that maintains its absurd pretension of having sprung from the loins of a race of conquerors, and of having succeeded to the rights of conquest?  I can well imagine, were there no police, every Cartouche firmly establishing himself on the high-road — would that give him a right to levy toll? Suppose him to sell a monopoly of this kind, once common enough, to an honest successor, would the right become any more respectable in the hands of the purchaser? . . . Every privilege, in its nature, is unjust, odious, and against the social compact. The blood boils at the thought of its ever having been possible to legally consecrate down to the eighteenth century the abominable fruits of an abominable feudal system. . . . The caste of nobles is really a population apart, a fraudulent population, however, which, for lack of serviceable faculties, and unable to exist alone, fastens itself upon a living nation, like the vegetable tumors that
“What is the Third-Estate?” says Sieyès, “everything. What, thus far, is it in the political body? Nothing. What does it demand? To become something.”
Not something but actually everything. Its political ambition is as great as its social ambition, and it aspires to authority as well as to equality. If privileges are an evil that of the king is the worst for it is the greatest, and human dignity, wounded by the prerogative of the noble, perishes under the absolutism of the king. Of little consequence is it that he scarcely uses it, and that his government, deferential to public opinion, is that of a hesitating and indulgent parent. Emancipated from real despotism, the Third-Estate becomes excited against possible despotism, imagining itself in slavery in consenting to remain subject. A proud spirit has recovered itself, become erect, and, the better to secure its rights, is going to claim all rights. To the people who since antiquity has been subject to masters, it is so sweet, so intoxicating to put themselves in their places, to put the former masters in their place, to say to himself, they are my representatives, to regard himself a member of the sovereign power, king of France in his individual sphere, the sole legitimate author of all rights and of all functions! — In conformity with the doctrines of Rousseau the registers of the Third-Estate unanimously insist on a constitution for France; none exists, or at least the one she possesses is of no value.
This principle once admitted or enforced, they thought, all will go well.
“It seemed,” says an eye-witness, “as if we were about to be governed by men of the golden age. This free, just and wise people, always in harmony with itself, always clear-sighted in choosing its ministers, moderate in the use of its strength and power, never could be led away, never deceived, never under the dominion of; or enslaved by, the authority which it confided. Its will would fashion the laws and the law would constitute its happiness.”
The nation is to be regenerated, a phrase found in all writings and in every mouth. At Nangis, Arthur Young finds this the sub-stance of political conversation. The chaplain of a regiment, a curate in the vicinity, keeps fast hold of it; as to knowing what it means that is another matter. It is impossible to find anything out through explanations of it otherwise than “a theoretic perfection of government, questionable in its origin, hazardous in its progress, and visionary in its end.” On the Englishman proposing to them the British constitution as a model they “hold it cheap in respect of liberty” and greet it with a smile; it is, especially, not in conformity with “the principles.” And observe that we are at the residence of a grand seignior, in a circle of enlightened men. At Riom, at the election assemblies, Malouet finds “persons of an ordinary stamp, practitioners, petty lawyers, with no experience of public business, quoting the ‘Contrat Social,’ vehemently declaiming against tyranny, and each proposing his own constitution.” Most of them are without any knowledge whatever, mere traffickers in chicane; the best instructed entertain mere schoolboy ideas of politics. In the colleges of the University no history is taught. “The name of Henry IV., says Lavalette, was not once uttered during my eight years of study, and, at seventeen years of age, I was still ignorant of the epoch and the mode of the establishment of the Bourbons on the throne.” The stock they carry away with them consists wholly, as with Camille Desmoulins, of scraps of Latin, entering the world with brains stuffed with “republican maxims,” excited by souvenirs of Rome and Sparta, and “penetrated with profound contempt for monarchical governments.” Subsequently, at the law school, they learn something about legal abstractions, or else learn nothing. In the lecture-courses at Paris there are no students; the professor delivers his lecture to copyists who sell their copy-books. If a pupil should attend himself and take notes he would be regarded with suspicion; he would be charged with trying to deprive the copyists of the means of earning their living. A diploma, consequently, is worthless. At Bourges one is obtainable in six months; if the young man succeeds in comprehending the law it is through later practice and familiarity with it. — Of foreign laws and institutions there is not the least knowledge, scarcely even a vague or false notion of them. Malouet himself entertains a meager idea of the English Parliament, while many, with respect to ceremonial, imagine it a copy of the Parliament of France. — The mechanism of free constitutions, or the conditions of effective liberty, that is too complicated a question. Montesquieu, save in the great magisterial families, is antiquated for twenty years past. Of what avail are studies of ancient France? “What is the result of so much and such profound research? Laborious conjecture and reasons for doubting."
“I saw,” says one of these orators, “at the barrier Saint-Victor, sculptured on one of the pillars — would you believe it? — - an enormous lion’s head, with open jaws vomiting forth chains as a menace to those who passed it. Could a more horrible emblem of slavery and of despotism be imagined!” — “The orator himself imitates the roar of the lion. The listeners were all excited by it and I, who passed the barrier Saint-Victor so often, was surprised that this horrible image had not struck me. That very day I examined it closely and, on the pilaster, I found only a small buckler suspended as an ornament by a little chain attached by the sculptor to a little lion’s mouth, like those we see serving as door-knockers or as water-cocks.” — Perverted sensations and delirious conceptions of this kind would be regarded by physicians as the symptoms of mental derangement, and we are only in the early months of the year 1789! — In such excitable and over-excited brains the powerful fascination of words is about to create phantoms, some of them hideous, the aristocrat and the tyrant, and others adorable, the friend of the people and the incorruptible patriot, so many disproportionate, imaginary figures, but which will replace actual living persons, and which the maniac is to overwhelm with his praise or pursue with his fury.
Thus does the philosophy of the eighteenth century descend among the people and propagate itself. Ideas, on the first story of the house, in handsome gilded rooms, serve only as an evening illumination, as drawing room explosives and pleasing Bengal lights, with which people amuse themselves, and then laughingly throw from the windows into the street. Collected together in the story below and on the ground floor, transported to shops, to warehouses and into business cabinets, they find combustible material, piles of wood a long time accumulated, and here do the flames enkindle. The conflagration seems to have already begun, for the chimneys roar and a ruddy light gleams through the windows; but “No,” say the people above, “those below would take care not to set the house on fire, for they live in it as we do. It is only a straw bonfire and a burning chimney, and a little water will extinguish it; and, besides, these little accidents clear the chimney and burn out the soot.”
Take care! Under the vast deep arches supporting it, in the cellars of the house, there is a magazine of powder.
 I have verified these sentiments myself, in the narration of aged people deceased twenty years ago. Cf. manuscript memoirs of Hardy the bookseller (analyzed by Aubertin), and the “Travels of Arthur Young.”
 Aubertin, ibid., 180, 362.
 Voltaire, “Siècle de Louis XV,” ch. XXXI; “Siècle de Louis XIV,” ch. XXX. “Industry increases every day. To see the private display, the prodigious number of pleasant dwellings erected in Paris and in the provinces, the numerous equipages, the conveniences, the acquisitions comprehended in the term luxe, one might suppose that opulence was twenty times greater than it formerly was. All this is the result of ingenuity, much more than of wealth. . . The middle class has become wealthy by industry. . . . Commercial gains have augmented. The opulence of the great is less than it was formerly and much larger among the middle class, the distance between men even being lessened by it. Formerly the inferior class had no resource but to serve their superiors; nowadays industry has opened up a thousand roads unknown a hundred years ago.”
 John Law (Edinbourgh 1672- dead in Venice 1729) Scotch financier, who founded a bank in Paris issuing paper money whose value depended upon confidence and credit. He had to flee France when his system collapsed and died in misery. (Sr.)
 Arthur Young, II. 360, 373.
 De Tocqueville, 255.
 Aubertin, 482.
 Roux and Buchez, “Histoire parlementaire.” Extracted from the accounts made up by the comptrollers-general, I. 175, 205. — The report by Necker, I. 376. To the 206,000,000 must be added 15,800,000 for expenses and interest on advances.
 Compare this to the situation in year 1999 where irresponsible democratic governments sell enormous fortunes in the form of bonds to the popular pension funds, fortunes which they expect that the next generation shall repay. (Sr.)
 Roux and Buchez, I. 190. “Rapport,” M. de Calonne.
 Champfort, p. 105.
 De Tocqueville, 261.
 D’Argenson, April 12, 1752, February 11, 1752, July 24, 1753, December 7, 1753. — Archives nationales, O1, 738.
 Characters in Molière’s comedies. — Tr.
 De Ségur. I. 17.
 Lucas de Montigny, Letter of the Marquis de Mirabeau, March 23, 1783.
 Mme. Vigée-Lebrun, I. 269, 231. (The domestic establishment of two farmers-general, M. de Verdun, at Colombes, and M. de St. James, at Neuilly). — A superior type of the bourgeois and of the merchant has already been put on the stage by Sedaine in “Le Philosophe sans le Savoir.”
 John Andrews, “A comparative view,” etc. p. 58.
 De Tilly, “Mémoires,” I. 31.
 Goffroy, “Gustave III,” letter of Mme. Staël (August, 1786).
 Mme. de Genlis, “Adele et Théodore” (1782), I. 312. — Already in 1762, Bachaumont mentions several pieces written by grand seigniors, such as “Clytemnestre,” by the Comte de Lauraguais; “Alexandre,” by the Chevalier de Fénélon; “Don Carlos,” by the Marquis de Ximènès.
 Champfort, 119.
 De Vaublanc, I. 117. — Beugnot, “Mémoires,” (the first and second passages relating to society at the domiciles of M. de Brienne, and the Duc de Penthièvre.)
 Barbier, II, 16; III. 255 (May, 1751). “The king is robbed by all the seigniors around him, especially on his journeys to his different châteaux, which are frequent.” — And September, 1750. — - Cf. Aubertin, 291, 415 ("Mémoires,” manuscript by Hardy).
 Treaties of Paris and Hubersbourg, 1763. — The trial of La Chalotais, 1765. — Bankruptcy of Terray, 1770. — Destruction of the Parliament, 1771. — The first partition of Poland, 1772. — Rousseau, “Discours sur l’inégalité,” 1753. — “Héloise,” 1759. — “Emile” and “Contrat Social,” 1762.
 De Barante, “Tableau de la littérature française au dix-huitième siècle,” 312.
 “Mercure britannique,” vol. II, 360.
 Lacretelle, “Dix ans d’épreuves,” p. 21.
 “Memoires,” by Pasquier (Etienne-Dennis, duc), chancelier de France. in VI volumes, Librarie Plon, Paris 1893.
 “Le Compère Mathieu,” by Dulaurens (1766). “Our sufferings are due to the way in which we are brought up, namely, the state of society in which we are born. Now that state being the source of all our ills its dissolution must become that of all our good.”
 The “Tableau de Paris,” by Mercier (12 vols.), is the completest and most exact portrayal of the ideas and aspirations of the middle class from 1781 to 1788.
 “Correspondence,” by Métra, XVII, 87 (August 20, 1784).
 “Belisarious,” is from 1780, and the “Oath of the Horatii,” from 1783.
 Geffroy, “Gustave II et la cour de France.” “Paris, with its republican spirit, generally applauds whatever fails at Fontainebleau.” (A letter by Madame de Staël, Sept. 17, 1786).
 Taine uses the French term “passe-droit”, meaning both passing over, slight, unjust promotion over the heads of others, a special favour, or privilege. (Sr.)
 Sainte-Beuve, “Causeries du Lundi,” II. 24, in the article on Barnave.
 Dr Tilly, “Mémoires,” I. 243.
 The words of Fontanes, who knew her and admired her. (Sainte-Beuve, “Nouveaux Lundis,” VIII. 221).
 “Mémoires de Madame Roland,” passim. At fourteen years of age, on being introduced to Mme. de Boismorel, she is hurt at hearing her grandmother addressed “Mademoiselle.” — Shortly after this, she says: “I could not concoal from myself that I was of more consequence than Mlle. d’Hannaches, whose sixty years and her genealogy did not enable her to write a common-sense letter or one that was legible.” — About the same epoch she passes a week at Versailles with a servant of the Dauphine, and tells her mother, “A few days more and I shall so detest these people that I shall not know how to suppress my hatred of them.” — “What injury have they done you?” she inquired. “It is the feeling of injustice and the constant contemplation of absurdity!” — At the château of Fontenay where she is invited to dine, she and her mother are made to dine in the servants’ room, etc. — In 1818, in a small town in the north, the Comte de — dining with a bourgeois sub-prefect and placed by the side of the mistress of the house, says to her, on accepting the soup, ‘Thanks, sweetheart,’ But the Revolution has given the lower class bourgeoisie the courage to defend themselves tooth and nail so that, a moment later, she addresses him, with one of her sweetest smiles, ‘Will you take some chicken, my love?’ (The French expression ’mon coeur’ means both sweetheart and my love. Sr.)
 De Vaublanc, I. 153.
 Beugnot, “Mémoires,” I. 77.
 Champfort, 16. — “Who would believe it! Not taxation, nor lettres-de-cachet, nor the abuses of power, nor the vexations of intendants, and the ruinous delays of justice have provoked the ire of the nation, but their prejudices against the nobility towards which it has shown the greatest hatred. This evidently proves that the bourgeoisie, the men of letters, the financial class, in short all who envy the nobles have excited against these the inferior class in the towns and among the rural peasantry.” (Rivarol, “Mémoires.”)
 Champfort, 335.
 Sieyès, “Qu’est ce que le Tiers?” 17, 41, 139, 166.
 Cartouche (Luis Dominique) (Paris, 1693 — id. 1721). Notorious French bandit, leader of a gang of thieves. He died broken alive on the wheel. (Sr.)
 “The nobility, say the nobles, is an intermediary between the king and the people. Yes, as the hound is an intermediary between the hunter and the hare.” (Champfort).
 Prud’homme, III. 2. ("The Third-Estate of Nivernais,” passim.) Cf, on the other hand, the registers of the nobility of Bugey and of Alençon.
 Prud’homme, ibid.., Cahiers of the Third-Estates of Dijon, Dax, Bayonne, Saint-Sévère, Rennes, etc.
 Marmontel, “Mémoires,” II. 247.
 Arthur Young, I. 222.
 Malouet, “Mémoires,” I. 279.
 De Lavalette, I. 7. — “Souvenirs”, by Pasquier (Etienne-Dennis, duc), chancelier de France. in VI volumes, Librarie Plon, Paris 1893. — . Cf. Brissot, Mémoires, I.
 Prudhomme, “Résumé des cahiers,” the “preface,” by J. J. Rousseau.
 Marmontel, II. 245.
Under Louis XIV. — Under Louis XV. — Under Louis XVI.
La Bruyère wrote, just a century before 1789,:
“Certain savage-looking animals, male and female, are seen in the country, black, livid and sunburned, and attached to the soil which they dig and grub with invincible stubbornness. They seem capable of speech, and, when they stand erect, they display a human face. They are, in fact, men. They retire at night into their dens where they live on black bread, water and roots. They spare other human beings the trouble of sowing, plowing and harvesting, and thus should not be in want of the bread they have planted.”
They are, however, in want during the twenty-five years after this, and die in droves. I estimate that in 1715 more than one-third of the population, six millions, perish with hunger and of destitution. This description is, in respect of the first quarter of the century preceding the Revolution, far from being too vivid, it is rather too weak; we shall see that it, during more than half a century, up to the death of Louis XV. is exact; so that instead of weakening any of its details, they should be strengthened.
“In 1725,” says Saint-Simon, “with the profusion of Strasbourg and Chantilly, the people, in Normandy, live on the grass of the fields. The first king in Europe could not be a great king if it was not for all the beggars and the poor-houses full of dying from whom all had been taken even though it was peace-time.
In the most prosperous days of Fleury and in the finest region in France, the peasant hides “his wine on account of the excise and his bread on account of the taille,” convinced “that he is a lost man if any doubt exists of his dying of starvation." In 1739 d’Argenson writes in his journal:
“The famine has just caused three insurrections in the provinces, at Ruffec, at Caen, and at Chinon. Women carrying their bread with them have been assassinated on the highways. . . M. le Duc d’Orléans brought to the Council the other day a piece of bread, and placed it on the table before the king ‘Sire,’ said he, ’there is the bread on which your subjects now feed themselves.’” “In my own canton of Touraine men have been eating herbage more than a year.” Misery finds company on all sides. “It is talked about at Versailles more than ever. The king interrogated the bishop of Chartres on the condition of his people; he replied that ’the famine and the morality were such that men ate grass like sheep and died like so many flies.’”
In 1740, Massillon, bishop of Clermont-Ferrand, writes to Fleury:
“The people of the rural districts are living in frightful destitution, without beds, without furniture; the majority, for half the year, even lack barley and oat bread which is their sole food, and which they are compelled to take out of their own and their children’s mouths to pay the taxes. It pains me to see this sad spectacle every year on my visits. The Negroes of our colonies are, in this respect, infinitely better off; for, while working, they are fed and clothed along with their wives and children, while our peasantry, the most laborious in the kingdom, cannot, with the hardest and most devoted labor, earn bread for themselves and their families, and at the same time pay their charges.” In 1740 at Lille, the people rebel against the export of grain. “An intendant informs me that the misery increases from hour to hour, the slightest danger to the crops resulting in this for three years past. . . .Flanders, especially, is greatly embarrassed; there is nothing to live on until the harvesting, which will not take place for two months. The provinces the best off are not able to help the others. Each bourgeois in each town is obliged to feed one or two poor persons and provide them with fourteen pounds of bread per week. In the little town of Chatellerault, (of 4,000 inhabitants), 1800 poor, this winter, are in that situation. . . . The poor outnumber those able to live without begging . . . while prosecutions for unpaid dues are carried on with unexampled rigor. The clothes of the poor, their last measure of flour and the latches on their doors are seized, etc. .. . The abbess of Jouarre told me yesterday that, in her canton, in Brie, most of the land had not been planted.” It is not surprising that the famine spreads even to Paris. “Fears are entertained of next Wednesday. There is no more bread in Paris, except that of the damaged flour which is brought in and which burns (when baking). The mills are working day and night at Belleville, regrinding old damaged flour. The people are ready to rebel; bread goes up a sol a day; no merchant dares, or is disposed, to bring
Ten years later the evil is greater.
“In the country around me, ten leagues from Paris, I find increased privation and constant complaints. What must it be in our wretched provinces in the interior of the kingdom? . . . My curate tells me that eight families, supporting themselves on their labor when I left, are now begging their bread. There is no work to be had. The wealthy are economizing like the poor. And with all this the taille is exacted with military severity. The collectors, with their officers, accompanied by locksmiths, force open the doors and carry off and sell furniture for one-quarter of its value, the expenses exceeding the amount of the tax . . . " — “I am at this moment on my estates in Touraine. I encounter nothing but frightful privations; the melancholy sentiment of suffering no longer prevails with the poor inhabitants, but rather one of utter despair; they desire death only, and avoid increase. . . . It is estimated that one-quarter of the working-days of the year go to the corvées, the laborers feeding themselves, and with what? . . . I see poor people dying of destitution. They are paid fifteen sous a day, equal to a crown, for their load. Whole villages are either ruined or broken up, and none of the households recover. . . . Judging by what my neighbors tell me the inhabitants have diminished one-third. . . . The daily laborers are all leaving and taking refuge in the small towns. In many villages everybody leaves. I have several parishes in which the taille for three years is due, the proceedings for its collection always going on. . . . The receivers of the taille and of the taxes add one-half each year in expenses above the tax. . . . An assessor, on coming to the village where I have my country-house, states that the taille this year will be much increased; he noticed that the peasants here were fatter than elsewhere; that they had chicken feathers before their doors, and that the living here must be good, everybody doing well, etc. — This is the cause of the peasant’s discouragement, and likewise the cause of misfortune throughout the kingdom.” — “In the country where I am staying I hear that marriage is declining and that the population is decreasing on all sides. In my parish, with a few fire-sides, there are more
Those who are able to leave, go.
“A person from Languedoc tells me of vast numbers of peasants deserting that province and taking refuge in Piedmont, Savoy, and Spain, tormented and frightened by the measures resorted to in collecting tithes. . . . The extortioners sell everything and imprison everybody as if prisoners of war, and even with more avidity and malice, in order to gain something themselves.” — “I met an intendant of one of the finest provinces in the kingdom, who told me that no more farmers could be found there; that parents preferred to send their children to the towns; that living in the surrounding country was daily becoming more horrible to the inhabitants. . . . A man, well-informed in financial matters, told me that over two hundred families in Normandy had left this year, fearing the collections in their villages.” — At Paris, “the streets swarm with beggars. One cannot stop before a door without a dozen mendicants besetting him with their importunities. They are said to be people from the country who, unable to endure the persecutions they have to undergo, take refuge in the cities . . . preferring begging to labor.” — And yet the people of the cities are not much better off. “An officer of a company in garrison at Mezieres tells me that the poverty of that place is so great that, after the officers had dined in the inns, the people rush in and pillage the remnants.” — “There are more than 12,000 begging workmen in Rouen, quite as many in Tours, etc. More than 20,000 of these workmen are estimated as having left the kingdom in three months for Spain, Germany, etc. At Lyons 20,000 workers in silk are watched and kept in sight for fear of their going abroad.” At Rouen, and in Normandy, “those in easy circumstances find it difficult to get bread, the bulk of the people being entirely without it, and, to ward off starvation, providing themselves with food otherwise repulsive to human beings.” — “Even at Paris,” writes d’Argenson, “I learn that on the day M. le Dauphin and Mme. la Dauphine went to Notre Dame, on passing the bridge of the Tournelle, more than 2,000 women assembled in that quarter crying out, ’Give us bread, or we shall die of hunger.’ . . . A vicar of the parish of Saint-Marguerite affirms that over eight hundred persons died in the Faubourg St. Antoine between January 20th and February 20th; that the poor expire with cold and hunger in their garrets, and that the priests, arriving too late, see them expire without any possible relief.”
Were I to enumerate the riots, the sedition of the famished, and the pillaging of storehouses, I should never end; these are the convulsive twitching of exhaustion; the people have fasted as long as possible, and instinct, at last, rebels. In 1747, “extensive bread-riots occur in Toulouse, and in Guyenne they take place on every market-day.” In 1750, from 6 to 7,000 men gather in Bearn behind a river to resist the clerks; two companies of the Artois regiment fire on the rebels and kill a dozen of them. In 1752, a sedition at Rouen and in its neighborhood lasts three days; in Dauphiny and in Auvergne riotous villagers force open the grain warehouses and take away wheat at their own price; the same year, at Arles, 2,000 armed peasants demand bread at the town-hall and are dispersed by the soldiers. In one province alone, that of Normandy, I find insurrections in 1725, in 1737, in 1739, in 1752, in 1764, 1765, 1766, 1767 and I768, and always on account of bread.
“Entire hamlets,” writes the Parliament, “being without the necessities of life, hunger compels them to resort to the food of brutes. . . . Two days more and Rouen will be without provisions, without grain, without bread.”
Accordingly, the last riot is terrible; on this occasion, the populace, again masters of the town for three days, pillage the public granaries and the stores of all the communities. — Up to the last and even later, in 1770 at Rheims, in 1775 at Dijon, at Versailles, at St. Germain, at Pontoise and at Paris, in 1772 at Poitiers, in 1785 at Aix in Provence, in 1788 and 1789 in Paris and throughout France, similar eruptions are visible. — Undoubtedly the government under Louis XVI is milder; the intendants are more humane, the administration is less rigid, the taille becomes less unequal, and the corvée is less onerous through its transformation, in short, misery has diminished, and yet this is greater than human nature can bear.
Examine administrative correspondence for the last thirty years preceding the Revolution. Countless statements reveal excessive suffering, even when not terminating in fury. Life to a man of the lower class, to an artisan, or workman, subsisting on the labor of his own hands, is evidently precarious; he obtains simply enough to keep him from starvation and he does not always get that. Here, in four districts, “the inhabitants live only on buckwheat,” and for five years, the apple crop having failed, they drink only water. There, in a country of vine-yards, “the wine-growers each year are reduced, for the most part, to begging their bread during the dull season.” Elsewhere, several of the day-laborers and mechanics, obliged to sell their effects and household goods, die of the cold; insufficient and unhealthy food generates sickness, while, in two districts, 35,000 persons are stated to be living on alms. In a remote canton the peasants cut the grain still green and
“taxes, seigniorial dues, the tithes, and the expenses of cultivation, split up the productions of the soil into thirds, leaving nothing for the unfortunate cultivators, who would have abandoned their fields, had not two Swiss manufacturers of calicoes settled there and distributed about the country 40,000 francs a year in cash."
In Auvergne, the country is depopulated daily; many of the villages have lost, since the beginning of the century, more than one-third of their inhabitants.
“Had not steps been promptly taken to lighten the burden of a down-trodden people,” says the provincial assembly in 1787, “Auvergne would have forever lost its population and its cultivation.”
In Comminges, at the outbreak of the Revolution, certain communities threaten to abandon their possessions, should they obtain no relief.
“It is a well-known fact,” says the assembly of Haute-Guyenne, in 1784,” that the lot of the most severely taxed communities is so rigorous as to have led their proprietors frequently to abandon their property. Who is not aware of the inhabitants of Saint-Servin having abandoned their property ten times, and of their threats to resort again to this painful proceeding in their recourse to the administration? Only a few years ago an abandonment of the community of Boisse took place through the combined action of the inhabitants, the seignior and the décimateur of that community;” and the desertion would be still greater if the law did not forbid persons liable to the taille abandoning over-taxed property, except by renouncing whatever they possessed in the community. In the Soissonais, according to the report of the provincial assembly, “misery is excessive.” In Gascony the spectacle is “heartrending.” In the environs of Toul, the cultivator, after paying his taxes, tithes and other dues, remains empty-handed.
“Agriculture is an occupation of steady anxiety and privation, in which thousands of men are obliged to painfully vegetate." In a village in Normandy, “nearly all the inhabitants, not excepting the farmers and proprietors, eat barley bread and drink water, living like the most wretched of men, so as to provide for the payment of the taxes with which they are overburdened.” In the same province, at Forges, “many poor creatures eat oat bread, and others bread of soaked bran, this nourishment causing many deaths among infants." People evidently live from day to day; whenever the crop proves poor they lack bread. Let a frost come, a hailstorm, an inundation, and an entire province is incapable of supporting itself until the coming year; in many places even an ordinary winter suffices to bring on distress. On all sides hands are seen outstretched to the king, who is the universal almoner. The people may be said to resemble a man attempting to wade through a pool with the water up to his chin, and who, losing his footing at the slightest depression, sinks down and drowns. Existent charity and the fresh spirit of humanity vainly strive to rescue them; the water has risen too high. It must subside to a lower level, and the pool be drawn off through some adequate outlet. Thus far the poor man catches breath only at intervals, running the risk of drowning at every moment.
The condition of the peasant during the last thirty years of the Ancient Regime. — His precarious subsistence. — State of agriculture. - Uncultivated farms. — Poor cultivation. — Inadequate wages. — Lack of comforts.
Between 1750 and 1760, the idlers who eat suppers begin to regard with compassion and alarm the laborers who go without dinners. Why are the latter so impoverished; and by what misfortune, on a soil as rich as that of France, do those lack bread who grow the grain? In the first place many farms remain uncultivated, and, what is worse, many are deserted. According to the best observers “one-quarter of the soil is absolutely lying waste. . . . Hundreds and hundreds of arpents of heath and moor form extensive deserts." Let a person traverse Anjou, Maine, Brittany, Poitou, Limousin, la Marche, Berry, Nivernais, Bourbonnais and Auvergne, and he finds one-half of these provinces in heaths, forming immense plains, all of which might be cultivated.” In Touraine, in Poitou and in Berry they form solitary expanses of 30,000 arpents. In one canton alone, near Preuilly, 40,000 arpents of good soil consist of heath. The agricultural society of Rennes declares that two-thirds of Brittany is lying waste. This is not sterility but decadence. The régime invented by Louis XIV has produced its effect; the soil for a century past has been reverting to a wild state.
“We see only abandoned and ruinous chateaux; the principal towns of the fiefs, in which the nobility formerly lived at their ease, are all now occupied by poor tenant herdsmen whose scanty labor hardly suffices for their subsistence, and a remnant of tax ready to disappear through the ruin of the proprietors and the desertion of the settlers.”
In the election district of Confolens a piece of property rented for 2,956 livres in 1665, brings in only 900 livres in 1747. On the confines of la Marche and of Berry a domain which, in 166o, honorably supported two seigniorial families is now simply a small unproductive tenant-farm; “the traces of the furrows once made by the plow-iron being still visible on the surrounding heaths.” Sologne, once flourishing, becomes a marsh and a forest; a hundred years earlier it produced three times the quantity of grain; two-thirds of its mills are gone; not a vestige of its vineyards remains; “grapes have given way to the heath.” Thus abandoned by the spade and the plow, a vast portion of the soil ceases to feed man, while the rest, poorly cultivated, scarcely provides the simplest necessities.
In the first place, on the failure of a crop, this portion remains untilled; its occupant is too poor to purchase seed; the intendant is often obliged to distribute seed, without which the disaster of the current year would be followed by sterility the following year. Every calamity, accordingly, in these days affects the future as well as the present; during the two years of 1784 and 1785, around Toulouse, the drought having caused the loss of all draft animals, many of the cultivators are obliged to let their fields lie fallow. In the second place, cultivation, when it does take place, is carried on according to medieval modes. Arthur Young, in 1789, considers that French agriculture has not progressed beyond that of the tenth century. Except in Flanders and on the plains of Alsace, the fields lie fallow one year out of three, and oftentimes one year out of two. The implements are poor; there are no plows made of iron; in many places the plow of Virgil’s time is still in use. Cart-axles and wheel-tires are made of wood, while a harrow often consists of the trestle of a cart. There are few animals and but little manure; the capital bestowed on cultivation is three times less than that of the present day. The yield is slight: “our ordinary farms,” says a good observer, “taking one with another return about six times the seed sown." In 1778, on the rich soil around Toulouse, wheat returns about five for one, while at the present day it yields eight to one and more. Arthur Young estimates that, in his day, the English acre produces twenty-eight bushels of grain, and the French acre eighteen bushels, and that the value of the total product of the same area for a given length of time is thirty-six pounds sterling in England and only twenty-five in France. As the parish roads are frightful, and transportation often impracticable, it is clear that, in remote cantons, where poor soil yields scarcely three times the seed sown, food is not always obtainable. How do they manage to live until the next crop? This is the question always under consideration previous to, and during, the Revolution. I find, in manuscript correspondence, the syndics and mayors of villages estimating the quantities for local subsistence at so many bushels in the granaries, so many sheaves in the barns, so many mouths to be filled, so many days to wait until
the August wheat comes in, and concluding on short supplies for two, three and four months. Such a state of inter-communication and of agriculture condemns a country to periodical famines, and I venture to state that, alongside of the small-pox which out of eight deaths causes one, another endemic disease exists, as prevalent and as destructive, and this disease is starvation.
We can easily imagine that it is the common people, and especially the peasants who suffers. An increase of the price of bread prevents him from getting any, and even without that increase, he obtains it with difficulty. Wheat bread cost, as today, three sous per pound, but as the average day’s work brought only nineteen sous instead of forty, the day-laborer, working the same time, could buy only the half of a loaf instead of a full loaf. Taking everything into account, and wages being estimated according to the price of grain, we find that the husbandman’s manual labor then procured him 959 litres of wheat, while nowadays it gives him 1,851 litres; his well-being, accordingly, has advanced