The French Revolution, Volume 2 The Origins of Contemporary France, Volume 3
Hippolyte A. Taine

Part 2 out of 10

not amount to 300,000.[46] -- This is a small number for the
enslavement of six millions of able-bodied men, and for installing in
a country of twenty-six millions inhabitants a more absolute despotism
than that of an Asiatic sovereign. Force, however, is not measured by
numbers; they form a band in the midst of a crowd and, in this
disorganized, inert crowd, a band that is determined to push its way
like an iron wedge splitting a log.

And against sedition from within as well as conquest from without a
nation may only defend itself through the activities of its
government, which provides the indispensable instruments of common
action. Let it fail or falter and the great majority, undecided about
what to do, lukewarm and busy elsewhere, ceases to be a corps and
disintegrates into dust. Of the two governments around which the
nation might have rallied, the first one, after July 14, 1789, lies
prostrate on the ground where it slowly crumbles away. Now its ghost,
which returns, is still more odious because it brings with it the same
senseless abuses and intolerable burdens, and, in addition to these, a
yelping pack of claimants and recriminators. After 1790 it appears on
the frontier more arbitrary than ever at the head of a coming invasion
of angry émigrés and grasping foreigners. - - The other government,
that just constructed by the Constituent Assembly, is so badly put
together that the majority cannot use it. It is not adapted to its
hand; no political instrument at once so ponderous and so helpless was
ever seen. An enormous effort is needed to set it in motion; every
citizen is obliged to give it about two days labor per week.[47] Thus
laboriously started but half in motion, it poorly meets the various
tasks imposed upon it -- the collection of taxes, public order in the
streets, the circulation of supplies, and security for consciences,
lives and property. Toppled over by its own action, another rises out
of it, illegal and serviceable, which takes its place and stands. --
In a great centralized state whoever possesses the head possesses the
body. By virtue of being led, the French have contracted the habit of
letting themselves be led.[48] People in the provinces involuntarily
turn their eyes to the capital, and, on a crisis occurring, run out to
stop the mailman to know what government happens to have fallen, the
majority accepts or submits to it. -- Because, in the first place,
most of the isolated groups which would like to overthrow it dare not
engage in the struggle: it seems too strong; through inveterate
routine they imagine behind it that great, distant France which, under
its impulsion, will crush them with its mass.[49] In the second place,
should a few isolated groups undertake to overthrow it, they are not
in a condition to keep up the struggle: it is too strong. They are,
indeed, not yet organized while it is fully so, owing to the docile
set of officials inherited from the government overthrown. Under
monarchy or republic the government clerk comes to his office
regularly every morning to dispatch the orders transmitted to him.[50]
Under monarchy or republic the policeman daily makes his round to
arrest those against who he has a warrant. So long as instructions
come from above in the hierarchical order of things, they are obeyed.
From one end of the territory to the other, therefore, the machine,
with its hundred thousand arms, works efficiently in the hands of
those who have seized the lever at the central point. Resolution,
audacity, rude energy, are all that are needed to make the lever act,
and none of these are wanting in the Jacobin. [51]

First, he has faith, and faith at all times "moves mountains.[52]
"Take any ordinary party recruit, an attorney, a second-rate lawyer, a
shopkeeper, an artisan, and conceive, if you can, the extraordinary
effect of this doctrine on a mind so poorly prepared for it, so
narrow, so out of proportion with the gigantic conception which has
mastered it. Formed for the routine and the limited views of one in
his position, he is suddenly carried away by a complete system of
philosophy, a theory of nature and of man, a theory of society and of
religion, a theory of universal history,[53] conclusions about the
past, the present, and the future of humanity, axioms of absolute
right, a system of perfect and final truth, the whole concentrated in
a few rigid formulae as, for example:

"Religion is superstition, monarchy is usurpation, priests are
impostors, aristocrats are vampires, and kings are so many tyrants and

These ideas flood a mind of his stamp like a vast torrent
precipitating itself into a narrow gorge; they upset it, and, no
longer under self-direction, they sweep it away. The man is beside
himself. A plain bourgeois, a common laborer is not transformed with
impunity into an apostle or liberator of the human species. - - For,
it is not his country that he would save, but the entire race. Roland,
just before the 10th of August, exclaims "with tears in his eyes,
should liberty die in France, she is lost the rest of the world
forever! The hopes of philosophers will perish! The whole earth will
succumb to the cruelest tyranny!"[54] -- Grégoire, on the meeting of
the Convention, obtained a decree abolishing royalty, and seemed
overcome with the thought of the immense benefit he had conferred on
the human race.

"I must confess," said he, "that for days I could neither eat nor
sleep for excess of joy!"

One day a Jacobin in the tribune declared: "We shall be a nation of
gods!" -- Fancies like these bring on lunacy, or, at all events, they
create disease. "Some men are in a fever all day long," said a
companion of St. Just; "I had it for twelve years . . ."[55] Later
on, "when advanced in life and trying to analyze their experiences,
they cannot comprehend it."[56] Another tells that, in his case, on
a "crisis occurring, there was only a hair's breadth between reason
and madness." -- "When St. Just and myself," says Baudot,
"discharged the batteries at Wissenbourg, we were most liberally
thanked for it. Well, there was no merit in that; we knew perfectly
well that the shot could not do us any harm." - - Man, in this exalted
state, is unconscious of obstacles, and, according to circumstances,
rise above or falls below himself, freely spilling his own blood as
well as the blood of others, heroic as a soldier and atrocious as a
civilian; he is not to be resisted in either direction for his
strength increases a hundredfold through his fury, and, on his tearing
wildly through the streets, people get out of his way as on the
approach of a mad bull.

If they do not jump aside of their own accord, he will run at them,
for he is unscrupulous as well as furious. -- In every political
struggle certain kinds of actions are prohibited; at all events, if
the majority is sensible and wishes to act fairly, it repudiates them
for itself. It will not violate any particular law, for, if one law is
broken, this tends to the breaking of others. It is opposed to
overthrowing an established government because every interregnum is a
return to barbarism. It is opposed to the element of popular
insurrection because, in such a resort, public power is surrendered to
the irrationality of brutal passion. It is opposed to a conversion of
the government into a machine for confiscation and murder because it
deems the natural function of government to be the protection of life
and property. -- The majority, accordingly, in confronting the
Jacobin, who allows himself all this,[57] is like a unarmed man facing
one who is fully armed.[58] The Jacobin, on principle, holds the law
in contempt, for the only law, which he accepts is arbitrary mob rule.
He has no hesitation in proceeding against the government because, in
his eyes, the government is a clerk which the people always has the
right to remove. He welcomes insurrection because, through it, the
people recover their sovereignty with no limitations. -- Moreover, as
with casuists, "the end justifies the means."[59] "Let the colonies
perish," exclaims a Jacobin in the Constituent Assembly, "rather than
sacrifice a principle." "Should the day come," says St. Just, "when I
become convinced that it is impossible to endow the French with mild,
vigorous, and rational ways, inflexible against tyranny and injustice,
that day I will stab myself." Meanwhile he guillotines the others.
"We will make France a graveyard," exclaimed Carrier, "rather than not
regenerating it our own way!"[60] They are ready to risk the ship in
order to seize the helm. From the first, they organize street riots
and jacqueries in the rural districts, they let loose on society
prostitutes and ruffians, vile and savage beasts. Throughout the
struggle they take advantage of the coarsest and most destructive
passions, of the blindness, credulity, and rage of an infatuated
crowd, of dearth, of fear of bandits, of rumors of conspiracy, and of
threats of invasion. At last, having seized power through a general
upheaval, they hold on to it through terror and executions. --
Straining will to the utmost, with no curb to check it, steadfastly
believing in its own right and with utter contempt for the rights of
others, with fanatical energy and the expedients of scoundrels, a
minority may, in employing such forces, easily master and subdue a
majority. So true is that, with faction itself, that victory is
always on the side of the group with the strongest faith and the least
scruples. Four times between 1789 and 1794, political gamblers take
their seats at a table where the stake is supreme power, and four
times in succession the "Impartiaux," the "Feuillants," the
"Girondins," and the "Dantonists," form the majority and lose the
game. Four times in succession the majority has no desire to break
customary rules, or, at the very least, to infringe on any rule
universally accepted, to wholly disregard the teachings of experience,
the letter of the law, the precepts of humanity, or the suggestions of
pity. -- The minority, on the contrary, is determined beforehand to
win at any price; its views and opinion are correct, and if rules are
opposed to that, so much the worse for the rules. At the decisive
moment, it claps a pistol to its adversary's head, overturns the
table, and collects the stakes.


[1] See the figures further on.

[2] Mallet du Pan, II. 491. Danton, in 1793, said one day to one of
his former brethren an advocate to the Council. : "The old régime made
a great mistake. It brought me up on a scholarship in Plessis College.
I was brought up with nobles, who were my comrades, and with whom I
lived on familiar terms. On completing my studies, I had nothing; I
was poor and tried to get a place. The Paris bar was very expensive,
and it required extensive efforts to be accepted. I could not get into
the army, having neither rank nor patronage. There was no opening for
me in the Church. I could purchase no employment, for I hadn't a cent.
My old companions turned their backs on me. I remained without a
situation, and only after many long years did I succeed in buying the
post of advocate in the Royal Council. The Revolution came, when I,
and all like me, threw themselves into it. The ancient régime forced
us to do so, by providing a good education for us, without providing
an opening for our talents." This applies to Robespierre, C.
Desmoulins, Brissot, Vergniaud, and others.

[3] Religious order founded in Rome in 1654 by saint Philippe Neri
and who dedicated their efforts to preaching and the education of
children. (SR)

[4] Dauban, "La Demagogie à Paris en 1793," and "Paris in 1794." Read
General Henriot's orders of the day in these two works. Comparton,
"Histoire du Tribunal Révolutionaire de Paris," a letter by Trinchard,
I. 306 (which is here given in the original, on account of the
ortography): "Si tu nest pas toute seulle et que le compagnion soit a
travailler tu peus ma chaire amie ventir voir juger 24 mesieurs tous
si devent président ou conselier au parlement de Paris et de Toulouse.
Je t'ainvite a prendre quelque chose aven de venir parcheque nous
naurons pas fini de 3 hurres. Je t'embrase ma chaire amie et épouge."-
Ibid. II. 350, examination of André Chenier. - Wallon, "Hist. Du
Trib. Rév.", I, 316. Letter by Simon. "Je te coitte le bonjour mois
est mon est pousse."

[5] Cf. "The Revolution," page 60.

[6] Cf. On this point the admissions of the honest Bailly
("Mémoires," passim)

[7] Rétif de la Bretonne: "Nuits de Paris," 11éme nuit, p. 36. "I
lived in Paris twenty-five years as free as air. All could enjoy as
much freedom as myself in two ways - by living uprightly, and by not
writing pamphlets against the ministry. All else was permitted, my
freedom never being interfered with. It is only since the Revolution
that a scoundrel could succeed in having me arrested twice."

[8] Cf. "The Revolution," vol. I. p.264.

[9] Moniteur, IV. 495. (Letter from Chartres, May 27, 1790.)

[10] Sauzay, I.147, 195 218, 711.

[11] Mercure de France, numbers of August 7, 14, 26, and Dec. 18,

[12] Ibid. number of November 26, 1790. Pétion is elected mayor of
Paris by 6,728 out of 10,632 voters. "Only 7,000 voters are found at
the election of the electors who elect deputies to the legislature.
Primary and municipal meetings are deserted in the same proportion." -
-Moniteur, X. 529 (Number of Dec. 4, 1791). Manuel is elected Attorney
of the Commune by 3,770 out of 5,311 voters. -- Ibid. XI. 378. At the
election of municipal officers for Paris, Feb.10 and 11, 1792, only
3,787 voters present themselves; Dussault, who obtains the most votes,
has 2,588; Sergent receives 1,648. -- Buchez et Roux, XI. 238 (session
of Aug.12, 1791). Speech by Chapelier; "Archives Nationales," F.6
(carton), 21. Primary meeting of June 13, 1791, canton of Bèze (Cote
d'Or). Out of 460 active citizens, 157 are present, and, on the final
ballot, 58. --Ibid., F7, 3235, (January, 1792). Lozerre: "1,000
citizens, at most, out of 25,000, voted in the primary meetings. At.
Saint-Chèly, capital of the district, a few armed ruffians succeed in
forming the primary meeting and in substituting their own election for
that of eight parishes, whose frightened citizens who withdrew from
it. . . At Langogne, chief town of the canton and district, out of
more than 400 active citizens, 22 or 23 at most -- just what one would
suppose them to be when their presence drove away the rest -- alone
formed the meeting."

[13] This power, with its gratifications, is thus shown, Beugnot, I.
140, 147. "On the publication of the decrees of August 4, the
committee of surveillance of Montigny, reinforced by all the patriots
of the country, came down like a torrent on the barony of Choiseul,
and exterminated all the hares and partridges. . . They fished out the
ponds . At Mandres we find, in the best room of the inn, a dozen
peasants gathered around a table decked with tumblers and bottles,
amongst which we noticed an inkstand, pens, and something resembling a
register. -- 'I don't know what they are about,' said the landlady,
'but there they are, from morning till night, drinking, swearing, and
storming away at everybody, and they say that they are a committee.'"

[14] Albert Babeau, I. 206, 242. -- The first meeting of the
revolutionary committee of Troyes in the cemetery of St. Jules,
August, 1789. This committee becomes the only authority in the town,
after the assassination of the mayor, M. Huez (Sept 10, 1790).

[15] "The French Revolution," Vol.I. pp. 235, 242, 251. - Buchez et
Roux, VI, 179. - Guillon de Montléon, "Histoire de la Ville de Lyon
pendant la Revolution," I. 87. -- Guadet, "Les Girondins."

[16] Michelet, "Histoire de la Révolution," II.47.

[17] The rules of the Paris club state that members must "labor to
establish and strengthen the Constitution, according to the spirit of
the club."

[18] Mercure de France, Aug.11, 1790. -- "Journal de la Société des
Amis la Constitution," Nov.21, 1790. -- Ibid., March, 1791. - Ibid.,
March, 1791. - Ibid., Aug.14, 1791 (speech by Rœderer) -- Buchez et
Roux, XI. 481.

[19] Michelet, II. 407. -- Moniteur, XII 347 (May 11, 1792), article
by Marie-Joseph Chénier, according to whom 800 Jacobin clubs exist at
this date. -- Ibid., XII. 753 (speech by M. Delfaux session of June
25, 1792). -Rœderer, preface to his translation of Hobbes.

[20] "Les Révolutions de Paris," by Prudhomme, number 173.

[21] Constant, "Histoire d'un Club Jacobin en province, "passim
(Fontainbleau Club, founded May 5, 1791). -- Albert Babeau, I.434 and
following pages (foundation of the Troyes Club, Oct 1790). -- Sauzay,
I 206 and following pages (foundation of the Besançon Club Aug. 28,
1790). -- Ibid., 214 (foundation of the Pontarlier Club, March, 1791)

[22] Sauzay, I. 214 (April 2, 1791)

[23] "Journal des Amis de la Constitution," I. 534 (Letter of the
"Café National" Club of Bordeaux, Jan.29, 1791). Guillon de
Monthléon, I. 88.-"The French Revolution," vol. I. 128, 242.

[24] Here we have a complete system of propaganda and organizational
tactics identical to those used by the NAZIS, the Marxist-Leninists
and other 'children' of the original communist-Jacobins. (SR.)

[25] Eugène Hatin, "Histoire politique et littéraire de la presse,"
IV. 210 (with Marat's text in "L'Ami "I'Ami du peuple," and Fréron's
in "l'Orateur du peuple").

[26] Mercure de France, Nov. 27, 1790.

[27] Mercure de France, Sept. 3, 1791 (article by Mallet du Pan). "On
the strength of a denunciation, the authors of which I knew, the
Luxembourg section on the 21st of June, the day of the king's
departure, sent commissaries and a military detachment to my domicile.
There was no judicial verdict, no legal order, either of police-court,
or justice of the peace, no examination whatever preceding this
mission. . . The employees of the section overhauled my papers, books
and letters, transcribing some of the latter, and carried away copies
and the originals, putting seals on the rest, which were left in
charge of two fusiliers."

[28] Mercure de France, Aug. 27, 1791 (report by Duport-Dutertre,
Minister of Justice). -- Ibid., Cf. numbers of Sept. 8, 1790, and
March 12, 1791.

[29] Sauzay, I.208. (Petition of the officers of the National Guard of
Besançon, and observations of the municipal body, Sept. 15, 1790. --
Petition of 500 national guards, Dec. 15, 1790). -- Observations of
the district directory, which directory, having authorized the club,
avows that "three-quarters" of the national guard and a portion of
other citizens "are quite hostile to it." -- Similar petitions at Dax,
Chalons-sur-Saône, etc., against the local club.

[30] "Lettres" (manuscript) of M. Roullé, deputy from Pontivy, to his
constituents (May 1, 1789).

[31] A rule of the association says: "The object of the association is
to discuss questions beforehand which are to be decided by the
National Assembly, . . . and to correspond with associations of the
same character which may be formed in the kingdom."

[32] Grégoires, "Mémoires," I. 387.

[33] Malouet, II. 248. "I saw counselor Duport, who was a fanatic, and
not a bad man, with two or three others like him, exclaim: 'Terror!
Terror! What a pity that it has become necessary!

[34] Lafayette, "Mémoires" (in relation to Messieurs de Lameth and
their friends). -- According to a squib of the day: "What Duport
thinks, Barnave says and Lameth does" -- This trio was named the
Triumvirate. Mirabeau, a government man, and a man to whom brutal
disorder was repugnant, called it the Triumgueusat. (A trinity of
shabby fellows)

[35] Moniteur, V.212, 583. (Report and speech of Dupont de Nemours,
sessions of July 31 and September 7, 1790.) -- Vagabonds and ruffians
begin to play their parts in Paris on the 27th of April, 1789 (the
Réveillon affair). -- Already on the 30th of July, 1789, Rivarol
wrote: "Woe to whoever stirs up the dregs of a nation! The century
Enlightenment has not touched the populace!" -- In the preface of his
future dictionary, he refers to his articles of this period: "There
may be seen the precautions I took to prevent Europe from attributing
to the French nation the horrors committed by the crowd of ruffians
which the Revolution and the gold of a great personage had attracted
to the capital." -- "Letter of a deputy to his constituents,"
published by Duprez, Paris, in the beginning of 1790 (cited by M. de
Ségur, in the Revue de France, September 1, 1880). It relates to the
maneuvers for forcing a vote in favor of confiscating clerical
property. "Throughout All-Saints' day (November 1, 1789), drums were
beaten to call together the band known here as the Coadjutors of the
Revolution. On the morning of November 2, when the deputies went to
the Assembly, they found the cathedral square and all the avenues to
the archbishop's palace, where the sessions were held, filled with an
innumerable crowd of people. This army was composed of from 20,000 to
25,000 men, of which the greater number had no shoes or stockings;
woollen caps and rags formed their uniform and they had clubs instead
of guns. They overwhelmed the ecclesiastical deputies with insults, as
they passed on their way, and shouted that they would massacre without
mercy all who would not vote for stripping the clergy. . . Near 300
deputies who were opposed to the motion did not dare attend the
Assembly. . . The rush of ruffians in the vicinity of the hall, their
comments and threats, excited fears of this atrocious project being
carried out. All who did not feel courageous enough to sacrifice
themselves, avoided going to the Assembly." (The decree was adopted by
378 votes against 346.)

[36] Cf. "The Ancient Régime," p. 51.

[37] Malouet, 1.247, 248. -- "Correspondence (manuscript) of M. de
Staël," Swedish Ambassador, with his court, copied from the archives
at Stockholm by M. Léouzon-le-Duc. Letter from M. Staël of April 21,
1791: "M. Laclos, secret agent of this wretched prince, (is a) clever
and subtle intriguer." April 24: "His agents are more to be feared
than himself. Through his bad conduct, he is more of a nuisance than
a benefit to his party.

[38] Especially after the king's flight to Varennes, and at the time
of the affair in the Champ de Mars. The petition of the Jacobins was
drawn up by Laclos and Brissot.

[39] Investigations at the Chatelet, testimony of Count d'Absac de

[40] Malouet I. 247, 248. This evidence is conclusive. "Apart from
what I saw myself," says Malouet, "M. de Montmorin and M. Delessart
communicated to me all the police reports of 1789 and 1790."

[41] Sauzay, II.79 (municipal election, Nov.15, 1791). -- III. 221
(mayoralty election, November, 1792). The half-way moderates had 237
votes, and the sans-culottes, 310.

[42] Mercure de France, Nov. 26, 1791 (Pétion was elected mayor,
Nov.17, by 6,728 votes out of 10,682 voters). -- Mortimer-Ternaux, V.
95. (Oct 4, 1792, Pétion was elected mayor by 13,746 votes out of
14,137 voters. He declines. - Oct. 21, d'Ormessan, a moderate, who
declines to stand, has nevertheless, 4,910 votes. His competitor,
Lhuillier, a pure Jacobin, obtains only 4,896.)

[43] Albert Babeau, II. 15. (The 32,000 inhabitants of Troyes indicate
about 7,000 electors. In December, 1792, Jacquet is elected mayor by
400 votes out of 555 voters. A striking coincidence is found in there
being 400 members of the Troyes club at this time.) -- Carnot,
Mémoires," I. 181. "Dr. Bollmann, who passed through Strasbourg in
1792, relates that out of 8,000 qualified citizens, only 400 voters
presented themselves.

[44] Mortimer-Ternaux, VI. 21. In February, 1793, Pache is elected
mayor of Paris by 11,881 votes. - Journal de Paris, number 185.
Henriot, July 2, 1793, is elected commander-in-chief of the Paris
national guard, by 9,084, against 6,095 votes given for his
competitor, Raffet. The national guard comprises at this time110,000
registered members, besides 10,000 gendarmes and federates. Many of
Henriot's partisans, again, voted twice. (Cf. on the elections and the
number of Jacobins at Paris, chapters XI. and XII. of this volume.)

[45] Michelet, VI. 95. "Almost all (the missionary representatives)
were supported by only, the smallest minority. Baudot, for instance,
at Toulouse, in 1793, had but 400 men for him."

[46] For example, "Archives Nationales," Fl 6, carton 3. Petition of
the inhabitants of Arnay-le-Duc to the king (April, 1792), very
insulting, employing the most familiar language; about fifty
signatures. -- Sauzay, III. ch. XXXV. and XXXIV. (details of local
elections). - Ibid., VII. 687 (letter of Grégoire, Dec. 24, 1796). --
Malouet, II. 531 (letter by Malouet, July 22, 1779). Malouet and
Grégoire agree on the number 300,000. Marie-Joseph Chénier (Moniteur,
XII, 695, 20 avril 1792) carries it up to 400,000.

[47] Cf. "The French Revolution," Vol. I. book II. Ch. III.

[48] Cf. "The Ancient Régime," p.352.

[49] "Memoires de Madame de Sapinaud," p. 18. Reply of M. de Sapinaud
to the peasants of La Vendée, who wished him to act as their general:
"My friends, it is the earthen pot against the iron pot. What could we
do? One department against eighty-two - we should be smashed!"

[50] Malouet, II. 241. "I knew a clerk in one of the bureaus, who,
during these sad days "September, 1792), never missed going. as
usual, to copy and add up his registers. Ministerial correspondence
with the armies and the provinces followed its regular course in
regular forms. The Paris police looked after supplies and kept its eye
on sharpers, while blood ran in the streets." -- Cf. on this
mechanical need and inveterate habit of receiving orders from the
central authority, Mallet du Pan, "Mémoires," 490: "Dumouriez'
soldiers said to him: 'F--, papa general, get the Convention to order
us to march on Paris and you'll see how we will make mince-meat of
those b-- in the Assembly!'"

[51] With want great interest did any aspiring radical politicians
read these lines, whether the German socialist from Hitler learned so
much or Lenin during his long stay in Paris around 1906. Taine maybe
thought that he was arming decent men to better understand and defend
the republic against a new Jacobin onslaught while, in fact, he
provided them with an accurate recipe for repeating the revolution.

[52] At. Matthew, 17:20. (SR.)

[53] Buchez et Roux, XXVIII 55. Letter by Brun-Lafond, a grenadier in
the national guard, July 14, 1793, to a friend in the provinces, in
justification of the 31st of May. The whole of this letter requires to
be read. In it are found the ordinary ideas of a Jacobin in relation
to history: "Can we ignore, that it is ever the people of Paris which,
through its murmurings and righteous insurrections against the
oppressive system of many of our kings, has forced them to entertain
milder sentiments regarding the relief of the French people, and
principally of the tiller of the soil? . . Without the energy of
Paris, Paris and France would now be inhabited solely by slaves, while
this beautiful soil would present an aspect as wild and deserted as
that of the Turkish empire or that of Germany," which has led us "to
confer still greater lustre on this Revolution, by re-establishing on
earth the ancient Athenian and other Grecian republics in all their
purity. Distinctions among the early people of the earth did not
exist; early family ties bound people together who had no ancient
founders or origin; they had no other laws in their republics but
those which, so to say, inspired them with those sentiments of
fraternity experienced by them in the cradle of primitive

[54] Barbaroux, "Mémoires" (Ed. Dauban), 336. -- Grégoire, "Mémoires,"
I. 410.

[55] "La Révolution Française," by Quinet (extracts from the
unpublished "Mémoires" of Baudot), II. 209, 211, 421, 620. -- Guillon
de Montléon I. 445 (speech by Chalier, in the Lyons Central Club,
March 23, 1793). "They say that the sans-culottes will go on spilling
their blood. This is only the talk of aristocrats. Can a sans-culotte
be reached in that quarter? Is he not invulnerable, like the gods whom
he replaces on this earth?" -- Speech by David, in the Convention, on
Barra and Viala: "Under so fine a government woman will bring forth
without pain." -- Mercier "Le Nouveau Paris," I. 13. "I heard (an
orator) exclaim in one of the sections, to which I bear witness: 'Yes,
I would take my own head by the hair, cut it off, and, presenting it
to the despot, I would say to him: Tyrant, behold the act of a free

[56] Now, one hundred years later, I consider the tens of thousands
of western intellectuals, who, in their old age, seem unable to
understand their longtime fascination with Lenin, Stalin and Mao, I
cannot help to think that history might be holding similar future
surprises in store for us. (SR).

[57] And my lifetime, our Jacobins the communists, have including in
their register the distortion, the lie and slander as a regular tool
of their trade. (SR).

[58] Lafayette, "Mémoires," I.467 (on the Jacobins of August 10,
1792). "This sect, the destruction of which was desired by nineteen-
twentieths of France."-- Durand-Maillan, 49. The aversion to the
Jacobins after June 20, 1792, was general. "The communes of France,
everywhere wearied and dissatisfied with popular clubs, would gladly
have got rid of them, that they might no longer be under their

[59] The words of Leclerc, a deputy of the Lyons committee in the
Jacobin Club at Paris May 12, 1793. "Popular machiavelianism must be
established . . . Everything impure must disappear off the French
soil. . . I shall doubtless be regarded as a brigand, but there is one
way to get ahead of calumny, and that is to exterminate the

[60] Buchez et Roux, XXXIV. 204 (testimony of François Lameyrie).
"Collection of authentic documents for the History of the Revolution
at Strasbourg," II. 210 (speech by Baudot, Frimaire 19, year II., in
the Jacobin club at Strasbourg). "Egoists, the heedless, the enemies
of liberty, the enemies of all nature should not be regarded as her
children. Are not all who oppose the public good, or who do not share
it, in the same case? Let us, then, utterly destroy them. . . Were
they a million, would not one sacrifice the twenty-fourth part of
one's self to get rid of a gangrene which might infect the rest of the
body?.." For these reasons, the orator thinks that every man who is
not wholly devoted to the Republic must be put to death. He states
that the Republic should at one blow cause the instant disappearance
of every friend to kings and feudalism.--Beaulieu, "Essai," V. 200. M.
d'Antonelle thought, "like most of the revolutionary clubs, that, to
constitute a republic, an approximate equality of property should be
established; and to do this, a third of the population should be
suppressed." -- " This was the general idea among the fanatics of the
Revolution. " -- Larevellière-Lépaux, "Mémoires," I.150 "Jean Bon St.
André . . . suggested that for the solid foundation of the Republic in
France, the population should be reduced one-half." He is violently
interrupted by Larevellière-Lépeaux, but continues and insists on
this. - Guffroy, deputy of the Pas-de-Calais, proposed in his journal
a still larger amputation; he wanted to reduce France to five millions
of inhabitants.




In June, 1791, and during the five following months, the class of
active citizens[1] are convoked to elect their representatives, which,
as we know, according to the law, are of every kind and degree. In the
first place, there are 40,000 members of electoral colleges of the
second degree and 745 deputies. Next, there are one-half of the
administrators of 83 departments, one-half of the administrators of
544 districts, one-half of the administrators of 41,000 communes, and
finally, in each municipality, the mayor and syndic-attorney. Then in
each department they have to elect the president of the criminal court
and the prosecuting-attorney, and, throughout France, officers of the
National Guard; in short, almost the entire body of the agents and
depositories of legal authority. The garrison of the public citadel is
to be renewed, which is the second and even the third time since 1789.
-- At each time the Jacobins have crept into the place, in small
bands, but this time they enter in large bodies. Pétion becomes mayor
of Paris, Manual, syndic-attorney, and Danton the deputy of Manuel.
Robespierre is elected prosecuting-attorney in criminal cases. The
very first week,[2] 136 new deputies enter their names on the club's
register. In the Assembly the party numbers about 250 members. On
passing all the posts of the fortress in review, we may estimate the
besiegers as occupying one-third of them, and perhaps more. Their
siege for two years has been carried on with unerring instinct, the
extraordinary spectacle presenting itself of an entire nation legally
overcome by a troop of insurgents.[3]


Their siege operations. -- Means used by them to discourage the
majority of electors and conservative candidates. -- Frequency of
elections. - Obligation to take the oath.

First of all, they clear the ground, and through the decrees forced
out of the Constituent Assembly, they keep most of the majority away
from the polls. -- On the one hand, under the pretext of better
ensuring popular sovereignty, the elections are so multiplied, and
held so near together, as to demand of each active citizen one-sixth
of his time; such an exaction is very great for hard-working people
who have a trade or any occupation,[4] which is the case with the
great mass; at all events, with the useful and sane portion of the
population. Accordingly, as we have seen, it stays away from the
polls, leaving the field open to idlers or fanatics.[5] -- On the
other hand, by virtue of the constitution, the civic oath, which
includes the ecclesiastical oath, is imposed on all electors, for, if
any one takes the former and reserves the latter, his vote is thrown
out: in November, in the Doubs, the municipal elections of thirty-
three communes are invalidated solely on this pretext.[6] Not only
forty thousand ecclesiastics are thus rendered unsworn (insermentés),
but again, all scrupulous Catholics lose the right of suffrage, these
being by far the most numerous in Artois, Doubs and the Jura, in the
Lower and Upper Rhine district,[7] in the two Sévres and la Vendée, in
the Lower Loire, Morbihan, Finisterre and Côtes du Nord, in Lozère and
Ardèche, without mentioning the southern departments.[8] Thus, aided
by the law which they have rendered impracticable, the Jacobins, on
the one hand, are rid of all sensible voters in advance, counting by
millions; and, on the other, aided by a law which they have rendered
intolerant, they are rid of the Catholic vote which counts by hundreds
of thousands. On entering the electoral lists, consequently, thanks to
this double exclusion, they find themselves confronted by only the
smallest number of electors.


Annoyances and dangers of public elections. - The constituents
excluded from the Legislative body.

Operations must now be commenced against these, and a first expedient
consists in depriving them of their candidates. The obligation of
taking the oath has already partly provided for this, in Lozère all
the officials send in their resignations rather than take the oath;[9]
here are men who will not be candidates at the coming elections, for
nobody covets a place which he was forced to abandon; in general, the
suppression of all party candidatures is effected in no other way than
by making the post of a magistrate distasteful. -- The Jacobins have
successfully adhered to this principle by promoting and taking the
lead in innumerable riots against the King, the officials and the
clerks, against nobles, ecclesiastics, corn-dealers and land-owners,
against every species of public authority whatever its origin.
Everywhere the authorities are constrained to tolerate or excuse
murders, pillage and arson, or, at the very least, insurrections and
disobedience. For two years a mayor runs the risk of being hung on
proclaiming martial law; a captain is not sure of his men on marching
to protect a tax levy; a judge on the bench is threatened if he
condemns the marauders who devastate the national forests. The
magistrate, whose duty it is to see that the law is respected, is
constantly obliged to strain the law, or allow it to be strained; if
refractory, a summary blow dealt by the local Jacobins forces his
legal authority to yield to their illegal dictate, so that he has to
resign himself to being either their accomplice or their puppet. Such
a rôle is intolerable to a man of feeling or conscience. Hence, in
1790 and 1791, nearly all the prominent and reputable men who, in
1789, had seats in the Hôtels-de-villes, or held command in the
National Guard, all country-gentlemen, chevaliers of St. Louis, old
parliamentarians, the upper bourgeoisie and large landed-proprietors,
retire into private life and renounce public functions which are no
longer tenable. Instead of offering themselves to public suffrage they
avoid it, and the party of order, far from electing the magistracy, no
longer even finds candidates for it.

Through an excess of precaution, its natural leaders have been legally
disqualified, the principal offices, especially those of deputy and
minister, being interdicted beforehand to the influential men in whom
we find the little common sense gained by the French people during the
past two years.-In the month of June, 1779, even after the
irreconcilables had parted company with the "Right," there still
remained in the Assembly about 700 members who, adhering to the
constitution but determined to repress disorder, would have formed a
sensible legislature had they been re-elected. All of these, except a
very small group of revolutionaries, had learned something by
experience, and, in the last days of their session, two serious
events, the king's flight and the riot in the Champ de Mars, had made
them acquainted with the defects of their machinery. With this
executive instrument in their hands for three months, they see that it
is racked, that things are tottering, and that they themselves are
being run over by fanatics and the crowd. They accordingly attempt to
put on a drag, and several even think of retracing their steps.[10]
They cut loose from the Jacobins; of the three or four hundred
deputies on the club list in the Rue St. Honoré[11] but seven remain;
the rest form at the Feuillants a distinct opposition club, and at
their head are the first founders, Duport, the two Lameths, Barnave,
the authors of the constitution, all the fathers of the new
régime.[12] In the last decree of the Constituent Assembly they
loudly condemn the usurpations of popular associations, and not only
interdict to these all meddling in administrative or political
matters, but likewise any collective petition or deputation.[13] --
Here may the friends of order find candidates whose chances are good,
for, during two years and more, each in his own district is the most
conspicuous, the best accredited, and the most influential man there;
he stands well with his electors on account of the popularity of the
constitution he has made, and it is very probable that his name would
rally to it a majority of votes.-The Jacobins, however, have foreseen
this danger: Four months earlier,[14] with the aid of the Court,
which never missed an opportunity to ruin itself and everything
else,[15] they made the most of the grudges of the conservatives and
the wearyness of the Assembly. Tired and disgusted, in a fit of
mistaken selflessness, the Assembly, through enthusiasm and taken by
surprise, passes an act declaring all its members ineligible for
election to the next Assembly dismissing in advance the leaders of the
gentlemen's party.


The friends of order deprived of the right of free assemblage. --
Violent treatment of their clubs in Paris and the provinces. -- Legal
prevention of conservative associations.

If the latter (the honest men of the Right), in spite of so many
drawbacks, attempt a struggle, they are arrested at the very first
step. For, to enter upon an electoral campaign, requires preliminary
meetings for conference and to understand each other, while the
faculty of forming an association, which the law grants them as a
right, is actually withheld from them by their adversaries. As a
beginning, the Jacobins hooted at and "stone" the members of the
"Right"[16] holding their meetings in the Salon français of the Rue
Royale, and, according to the prevailing rule, the police tribunal,
"considering that this assemblage is a cause of disturbance, that it
produces gatherings in the street, that only violent means can be
employed to protect it," orders its dissolution.[17] -- Towards the
month of August, 1790, a second club is organized, and, this time,
composed of the wisest and most liberal men. Malouet and Count
Clermont-Tonnerre are at the head of it. It takes the name of
"Friends of a Monarchical Constitution," and is desirous of restoring
public order by maintaining the reforms which have been reached. All
formalities on its part have been complied with. There are already
about 800 members in Paris. Subscriptions flow into its treasury. The
provinces send in numerous adhesions, and, what is worse than all,
bread is distributed by them at a reduced price, by which the people,
probably, will be conciliated. Here is a center of opinion and
influence, analogous to that of the Jacobin club, which the Jacobins
cannot tolerate.[18] M. de Clermont-Tonnerre having leased the summer
Vauxhall, a captain in the National Guard notifies the proprietor of
it that if he rents it, the patriots of the Palais-Royal will march to
it in a body, and close it; fearing that the building will be damaged,
he cancels the lease, while the municipality, which fears skirmishes,
orders a suspension of the meetings. The club makes a complaint and
follows it up, while the letter of the law is so plain that an
official authorization of the club is finally granted. Thereupon the
Jacobin newspapers and stump- speakers let loose their fury against a
future rival that threatens to dispute their empire. On the 23rd of
January, 1791, Barnave, in the National Assembly, employing
metaphorical language apt to be used as a death-shout, accuses the
members of the new club "of giving the people bread that carries
poison with it." Four days after this, M. Clermont-Tonnerre's dwelling
is assailed by an armed throng. Malouet, on leaving it, is almost
dragged from his carriage, and the crowd around him cry out, "There
goes the bastard who denounced the people! "- At length, its
founders, who, out of consideration for the municipality, have waited
two months, hire another hall in the Rue des Petites-Ecuries, and on
the 28th of March begin their sessions. "On reaching it," writes one
of them, "we found a mob composed of drunkards, screaming boys, ragged
women, soldiers exciting them on, and especially those frightful
hounds, armed with stout, knotty cudgels, two feet long, which are
excellent skull-crackers."[19] The thing was made up beforehand. At
first there were only three or four hundred of them, and, ten minutes
after, five or six hundred; in a quarter of an hour, there are perhaps
four thousand flocking in from all sides; in short, the usual make-up
of an insurrection. "The people of the quarter certified that they
did not recognize one of the faces." Jokes, insults, cuffs,
clubbings, and saber-cuts, -- the members of the club "who agreed to
come unarmed" being dispersed, while several are knocked down, dragged
by the hair, and a dozen or fifteen more are wounded. To justify the
attack, white cockades are shown, which, it is pretended, were found
in their pockets. Mayor Bailly arrives only when it is all over, and,
as a measure of "public order," the municipal authorities have the
club of Constitutional Monarchists closed for good.

Owing to these outrages by the faction, with the connivance of the
authorities, other similar clubs are suppressed in the same way. There
are a good many of them, and in the principal towns --"Friends of
Peace," "Friends of the Country," "Friends of the King, of Peace, and
of Religion," "Defenders of Religion, Persons, and Property".
Magistrates and officers, the most cultivated and polished people, are
generally members; in short, the élite of the place. Formerly,
meetings took place for conversation and debate, and, being long-
established, the club naturally passes over from literature to
politics. -- The watch-word against all these provincial clubs is
given from the Rue St. Honoré.[20] "They are centers of conspiracy,
and must be looked after" forthwith, and be at once trodden out. --
At one time, as at Cahors,[21] a squad of the National Guard, on its
return from an expedition against the neighboring gentry, and to
finish its task breaks in on the club, "throws its furniture out of
the windows and demolishes the house." -- At another time, as at
Perpignan, the excited mob surrounds the club, dancing a fandango, and
yell out, to the lantern! The club-house is sacked, while eighty of
its members, covered with bruises, are shut up in the citadel for
their safety.[22] -- At another time, as at Aix, the Jacobin club
insults its adversaries on their own premises and provokes a scuffle,
whereupon the municipality causes the doors of the assailed club to be
walled up and issues warrants of arrest against its members. --
Always punishment awaits them for whatever violence they have to
submit to. Their mere existence seems an offense. At Grenoble, they
scarcely assemble before they are dispersed. The fact is, they are
suspected of "incivism;" their intentions may not be right; in any
event, they cause a division of the place into two camps, and that is
enough. In the department of Gard, their clubs are all broken up, by
order of the department, because "they are centers of malevolence." At
Bordeaux, the municipality, considering that "alarming reports are
current of priests and privileged persons returning to town,"
prohibits all reunions, except that of the Jacobin club. -- Thus,
"under a system of liberty of the most exalted kind, in the presence
of the famous Declaration of the Rights of Man which legitimates
whatever is not unlawful," and which postulates equality as the
principle of the French constitution, whoever is not a Jacobin is
excluded from common rights. An intolerant club sets itself up as a
holy church, and proscribes others which have not received from it
"orthodox baptism, civic inspiration, and the aptitude of languages."
To her alone belongs the right of assemblage, and the right of making
proselytes. Conservative, thoughtful men in all towns throughout the
kingdom are forbidden to form electoral committees, to possess a
tribune, a fund, subscribers and adherents, to cast the weight of
their names and common strength into the scale of public opinion, to
gather around their permanent nucleus the scattered multitude of
sensible people, who would like to escape from the Revolution without
falling back into the ancient régime. Let them whisper amongst
themselves in corners, and they may still be tolerated, but woe to
them if they would leave their lonely retreat to act in concert, to
canvass voters, and support a candidate. Up to the day of voting they
must remain in the presence of their combined, active, and
obstreperous adversaries, scattered, inert, and mute.

Turmoil of the elections of 1790. -- Elections in 1791. -- Effect of
the King's flight.-- Domiciliary visits. -- Montagne during the
electoral period.

Will they at least be able to vote freely on that day? They are not
sure of it, and, judging by occurrences during the past year, it is
doubtful. -- In April, 1790, at Bois d'Aisy, in Burgundy, M. de Bois
d'Aisy, a deputy, who had returned from Paris to deposit his vote,[23]
was publicly menaced. He was informed that nobles and priests must
take no part m the elections, while many were heard to say, in his
hearing, that in order to prevent this it would be better to hang him.
Not far off; at Ste. Colombe, M. de Viteaux was driven out of the
electoral assembly, and then put to death after three hours of
torture. The same thing occurred at Semur; two gentlemen were knocked
down with clubs and stones, another saved himself with difficulty, and
a curé died after being stabbed six times. -- A warning for priests
and for gentlemen: they had better not vote, and the same good advice
may be given to dealers in grain, to land-owners, and every other
suspected person. For this is the day on which the people recover
their sovereignty; the violent believe that they have the right to do
exactly what suits them, nothing being more natural than to exclude
candidates in advance who are distrusted, or electors who do not vote
as they ought to. -- At Villeneuve-St.-Georges, near Paris,[24] a
barrister, a man of austere and energetic character, is about to be
elected judge by the district electors; the proletariat, however,
mistrust a judge likely to condemn marauders, and forty or fifty
vagabonds collect together under the windows and cry out: "We don't
want him elected." The curé of Crosne, president of the electoral
assembly, informs them in vain that the assembled electors represent
90 communes, nearly 100,000 inhabitants, and that "40 persons should
not prevail against 100,000. Shouts redouble and the electors
renounce their candidate.- At Pau, patriots among the militia[25]
forcibly release one of their imprisoned leaders, circulate a list for
proscriptions, attack a poll-teller with their fists and afterwards
with sabers, until the proscribed hide themselves away; on the
following day "nobody is disposed to attend the electoral assembly." -
- Things are much worse in 1791. In the month of June, just at the
time of the opening of the primary meetings, the king has fled to
Varennes, the Revolution seems compromised, civil war and a foreign
war loom up on the horizon like two ghosts; the National Guard had
everywhere taken up arms, and the Jacobins were making the most of the
universal panic for their own advantage. To dispute their votes is no
longer the question; it is not well to be visible: among so many
turbulent gatherings a popular execution is soon over. The best thing
now for royalists, constitutionalists, conservatives and moderates of
every kind, for the friends of law and of order, is to stay at home --
too happy if they may be allowed to remain there, to which the armed
rabble agrees; on the condition of frequently paying them visits.

Consider their situation during the whole of the electoral period, in
a calm district, and judge of the rest of France by this corner of it.
At Mortagne,[26] a small town of 6,000 souls, the laudable spirit of
1789 still existed up to the journey to Varennes. Among the forty or
fifty noble families were a good many liberals. Here, as elsewhere
among the gentry, the clergy and the middle class, the philosophic
education of the eighteenth century had revived the old provincial
spirit of initiative, and the entire upper class had zealously and
gratuitously undertaken the public duties which it alone could perform
well. District presidents, mayors, and municipal officers, were all
chosen from among ecclesiastics and the nobles; the three principal
officers of the National Guard were chevaliers of St. Louis, while
other grades were filled by the leading people of the community. Thus
had the free elections placed authority in the hands of the socially
superior, the new order of things resting on the legitimate hierarchy
of conditions, educations, and capacities. - But for six months the
club, formed out of "a dozen hot-headed, turbulent fellows, under the
presidency and in the hands of a certain Rattier, formerly a cook,"
worked upon the population and the rural districts. Immediately on
the receipt of the news of the King's flight, the Jacobins "give out
that nobles and priests had supplied him with money for his departure,
to bring about a counter-revolution." One family had given such an
amount, and another so much; there was no doubt about it; the precise
figures are given, and given for each family according to its known
resources.-- Forthwith, "the principal clubbists, associated with the
dubious part of the National Guard," spread through the streets in
squads: the houses of the nobles and of other suspected persons are
invaded. All the arms, "guns, pistols, swords, hunting-knives, and
sword-canes," are carried off. Every hole and corner is ransacked;
they make the inmates open, or they force open, secretaries and
clothes-presses in search of ammunition, the search extending "even to
the ladies' toilette-tables". By way of precaution "they break sticks
of pomatum in two, presuming that musket-balls are concealed in them,
and they take away hair-powder under the pretext that it is either
colored or masked gunpowder." Then, without disbanding, the troop
betakes itself to the environs and into the country, where it operates
with the same promptness in the chateaux, so that "in one day all
honest citizens, those with the most property and furniture to
protect, are left without arms at the mercy of the first robber that
comes along." All reputed aristocrats are disarmed. As such are
considered those who "disapprove of the enthusiasm of the day, or who
do not attend the club, or who harbor any unsworn ecclesiastic," and,
first of all, "the officers of the National Guard who are nobles,
beginning with the commander and his entire staff." -- The latter
allow their swords to be taken without resistance, and with a
forbearance and patriotic spirit of which their brethren everywhere
furnish an example "they are obliging enough to remain at their posts
so as not to disorganize the army, hoping that this frenzy will soon
come to an end," contenting themselves with making their complaint to
the department. -- But in vain the department orders their arms to be
restored to them. The clubbists refuse to give them up so long as the
king refuses to accept the Constitution; meanwhile they do not
hesitate to say that "at the very first gun on the frontier, they will
cut the throats of all the nobles and unsworn priests." -- After the
royal oath to the Constitution is taken, the department again insists,
but no attention is paid to it. On the contrary, the National Guard,
dragging cannons along with them, purposely station themselves before
the mansions of the unarmed gentry; the ladies of their families are
followed in the streets by urchins who sing ÇA IRA[27] in their faces,
and, in the final refrain, they mention them by name and promise them
the lantern; "not one of them could invite a dozen of his friends to
supper without incurring the risk of an uproar." -- On the strength of
this, the old chiefs of the National Guard resign, and the Jacobins
turn the opportunity to account. In contempt of the law the whole body
of officers is renewed, and, as peaceable folks dare not deposit their
votes, the new staff "is composed of maniacs, taken for the most part,
from the lowest class." With this purged militia the club expels nuns,
drives off unsworn priests, organizes expeditions in the neighborhood,
and goes so far as to purify suspected municipalities.[28] -- So many
acts of violence committed in town and country, render town and
country uninhabitable, and for the élite of the propriety owners, or
for well-bred persons, there is no longer any asylum but Paris. After
the first disarmament seven or eight families take refuge there, and a
dozen or fifteen more join them after a threat of having their throats
cut; after the religious persecution, unsworn ecclesiastics, the rest
of the nobles, and countless other townspeople, "even with little
means," betake themselves there in a mass. There, at least, one is
lost in the crowd; one is protected by an incognito against the
outrages of the commonalty; one can live there as a private
individual. In the provinces even civil rights do not exist; how
could any one there exercise political rights? "All honest citizens
are kept away from the primary meetings by threats or maltreatment . .
. The electoral battlefield is left for those who pay forty-five sous
of taxes, more than one-half of them being registered on the poor
list." - Thus the elections are decided beforehand! The former cook is
the one who authorizes or creates candidatures, and on the election of
the department deputies at the county town, the electors elected are,
like himself, true Jacobins.[29]


Intimidation and withdrawal of the Conservatives. -- Popular outbreaks
in Burgundy, Lyonnais, Provence, and the large cities. -- Electoral
proceedings of the Jacobins; examples at Aix, Dax, and Montpellier. --
Agitators go unpunishes -- Denunciations by name. -- Manoeuvres with
the peasantry. -- General tactics of the Jacobins.

Such is the pressure under which voting takes place in France during
the summer and fall of 1791. Domiciliary visits[30] and disarmament
everywhere force nobles and ecclesiastics, landed proprietors and
people of culture, to abandon their homes, to seek refuge in the large
towns and to emigrate,[31] or, at least, confine themselves strictly
to private life, to abstain from all propaganda, from every
candidature, and from all voting. It would be madness to be seen in
so many cantons where searches end in a riot; in Burgundy and the
Lyonnais, where castles are sacked, where aged gentlemen are mauled
and left for dead, where M. de Guillin has just been assassinated and
cut to pieces; at Marseilles, where conservative party leaders are
imprisoned, where a regiment of Swiss guards under arms scarcely
suffices to enforce the verdict of the court which sets them at
liberty, where, if any indiscreet person opposes Jacobin resolutions
his mouth is closed by being notified that he will be buried alive; at
Toulon, where the Jacobins shoot down all conservatives and the
regular troops, where M. de Beaucaire, captain in the navy, is killed
by a shot in the back, where the club, supported by the needy, by
sailors, by navvies, and "vagabond peddlers," maintains a dictatorship
by right of conquest; at Brest, at Tulle, at Cahors, where at this
very moment gentlemen and officers are massacred in the street. It is
not surprising that honest people turn away from the ballot-box as
from a center of cut-throats. -- Nevertheless, let them come if they
like; it will be easy to get rid of them. At Aix, the assessor whose
duty it is to read the electors' names is informed that "the names
should be called out by an unsullied mouth, that, being an aristocrat
and fanatical, he could neither speak nor vote," and, without further
ceremony, they put him out of the room.[32] The process is an
admirable one for converting a minority into a majority and yet here
is another, still more effective. -- At Dax, the Feuillants, taking
the title of "Friends of the French Constitution," have split up with
the Jacobins,[33] and, moreover, they insist on excluding from the
National Guard "foreigners without property or position," the passive
citizens who are admitted into it in spite of the law, who usurp the
right of voting and who "daily affront tranquil inhabitants."
Consequently, on election day, in the church where the primary meeting
is held, two of the Feuillants, Laurède, formerly collector of the
vingtièmes,, and Brunache, a glazier, propose to exclude an intruder,
a servant on wages. The Jacobins at once rush forward. Laurède is
pressed back on the holy-water basin and wounded on the head; on
trying to escape he is seized by the hair, thrown down, pierced in the
arm with a bayonet, put in prison, and Brunache along with him. Eight
days afterwards, at the second meeting none are present but Jacobins;
naturally, "they are all elected". They form the new municipality,
which, notwithstanding the orders of the department, not only refuses
to liberate the two prisoners, but throws them into a dungeon. -- At
Montpellier, the delay in the operation is greater, but it is only the
more complete. The votes are deposited, the ballot-boxes closed and
sealed up and the conservatives obtain a majority. Thereupon the
Jacobin club, with the Society of the "iron-clubs," calling itself
the Executive power, betake themselves in force to the sectional
meetings, burn one of the ballots, use firearms and kill two men. To
restore order the municipality stations each company of the National
Guard at its captain's door, The moderates among them naturally obey
orders, but the violent party do not. They overrun the town, numbering
about 2,000 inhabitants, enter the houses, kill three men in the
street or in their domiciles, and force the administrative body to
suspend its electoral assemblies. In addition to this they require
the disarmament "of the aristocrats," and this not being done soon
enough, they kill an artisan who is walking in the street with his
mother, cut off his head, bear it aloft in triumph, and suspend it in
front of his dwelling. The authorities are now convinced and
accordingly decree a disarmament, and the victors parade the streets
in a body. In exuberance or as a precaution, they fire, as they pass
along, at the windows of suspected houses and happen to kill an
additional man and woman. During the three following days six hundred
families emigrate, while the authorities report that everything is
going on well, and that order is restored. "The elections," they say,
"are now proceeding in the quietest manner since the ill-intentioned
voluntarily keeping away from them, a large number having left the
town. "[34] A void is created around the ballot-box and this is
called the unanimity of voters. -- The effect of such assassinations
is great and only a few are required; especially when they go
unpunished, which is always the case. Henceforth all that the
Jacobins have to do is to threaten; people no longer resist them for
they know that it costs too much to face them down. They do not care
to attend electoral meetings where they meet insult and danger; they
acknowledge defeat at the start. Have not the Jacobins irresistible
arguments, without taking blows into account? At Paris,[35] Marat in
three successive numbers of his paper has just denounced by name "the
rascals and thieves" who canvass for electoral nominations, not the
nobles and priests but ordinary citizens, lawyers, architects,
physicians, jewellers, stationers, printers, upholsterers and other
artisans, each name being given in full with the professions,
addresses and one of the following qualifications, "hypocrite
(tartufe), immoral, dishonest, bankrupt, informer, usurer, cheat," not
to mention others that I cannot write down. It must be noted that this
slanderous list may become a proscriptive list, and that in every town
and village in France similar lists are constantly drawn up and
circulated by the local dub, which enables us to judge whether the
struggle between it and its adversaries is a fair one.-As to rural
electors, it has suitable means for persuading them, especially in the
innumerable cantons ravaged or threatened by the jacqueries, (country-
riots) or, for example, in Corrèze, where "the whole department is
smattered with insurrections and devastation's, and where nobody talks
of anything but of hanging the officers who serve papers."[36]
Through-out the electoral operations the sittings of the dub are
permanent; "its electors are incessantly summoned to its meetings; "
at each of these "the main question is the destruction of fish-ponds
and rentals, their principal speakers summing it all up by saying that
none ought to be paid." The majority of electors, composed of
rustics, are found to be sensitive to speeches like this; all its
candidates are obliged to express themselves against fishponds and
rentals; its deputies and the public prosecuting attorney are
nominated on this profession of faith; in other words, to be elected,
the Jacobins promise to greedy tenants the incomes and property of
their owners. -- We already see in the proceedings by which they
secure one-third of the offices in 1791 the germ of the methods by
which they will secure the whole of them in 1792; in this first
electoral campaign their acts indicate not merely their maxims and
policy but, again, the condition, education, spirit and character of
the men whom they place in power locally as well as at the capital.


[1] Law of May 28, 29, 1791 (according to official statements, the
total of active citizens amounted to 4,288,360). -- Laws of July 23,
Sept. 12, Sept. 29, 1791. -- Buchez et Roux, XII. 310.

[2] Bucher Ct Roux, XII. 33. -- Mortimer-Ternaux, "Histoire de la
Terreur," II. 205, 348. -- Sauzay, II. ch. XVIII -- AIbert Babeau, I.
ch. XX.

[3] Lenin repeated this performance in 1917 and Stalin attempted to
do the same in the rest of the World. (SR)..

[4] The following letter, by Camille Desmoulins (April 3, 1792), shows
at once the time consumed by public affairs, the sort of attraction
they had, and the kind of men which they diverted from their business.
"I have gone back to my old profession of the law, to which I give
nearly all the time which my municipal or electoral functions, and the
Jacobins (club), allow me -- that is to say, very little. It is very
disagreeable to me to come down to pleading bourgeois cases after
having managed interests of such importance, and the affairs of the
government, in the face of all Europe."

[5] I cannot help but think of the willful proliferation of idle
functionaries, pensioners and other receivers of public funds which
today vote for the party which represents their interests. (SR.)

[6] Sauzay, II. 83-89 and 123. A resolution of the inhabitants of
Chalèze, who, headed by their municipal officers, declare themselves
unanimously "non-conformists," and demand "the right of using a temple
for the exercise of their religious opinions, belonging to them and
built with their contributions" On the strength of this, the municipal
officers of Chalèze are soundly rated by the district administration,
which thus states what principles are: "Liberty, indefinite for the
private individual, must be restricted for the public man whose
opinions must conform to the law: otherwise, . . he must renounce all
public functions."

[7] Archives Nationales," F7, 3,253 (letter of the department
directory, April 7, 1792). "On the 25th of January, in our report to
the National Assembly, we stated the almost general opposition which
the execution of the laws relating to the clergy has found in this
department . . . nine-tenths, at least, of the Catholics refusing to
recognize the sworn priests. The teachers, influenced by their old
curés or vicars, are willing to take the civic oath, but they refuse
to recognize their legitimate pastors and attend their services. We
are, therefore, obliged to remove them, and to look out for others to
replace them. The citizens of a large number of the communes,
persisting in trusting these, will lend no assistance whatever to the
election of the new ones; the result is, that we are obliged, in
selecting these people, to refer the matter to persons whom we
scarcely know, and who are scarcely better known to the directories of
the district. As they are elected against the will of the citizens,
they do not gain their confidence, and draw their salaries from the
commune treasury, without any advantage to public instruction,"

[8] Mercure de France, Sep. 3, 1791. "The right of attending primary
meetings is that of every citizen who pays a tax of three livres;
owing to the violence to which opinions are subject, more than one-
half of the French are compelled to stay away from these reunions,
which are abandoned to persons who have the least interest in
maintaining public order and in securing stable laws, with the least
property, and who pay the fewest taxes."

[9] "The French Revolution," Vol. I. p. 182 and following pages.

[10] "Correspondence of M. de Staël" (manuscript), Swedish ambassador,
with his court, Sept 4, 1791. "The change in the way of thinking of
the democrats is extraordinary; they now seem convinced that it is
impossible to make the Constitution work. Barnave, to my own
knowledge, has declared that the influence of assemblies in the future
should be limited to a council of notables, and that all power should
be in the government"

[11] Ibid. Letter of July 17, 1791. "All the members of the Assembly,
with the exception of three or four, have passed a resolution to
separate from the Jacobins; they number about 3oo." -- The seven
deputies who remain at the Jacobin Club, are Robespierre, Pétion,
Grégoire, Buzot, Coroller, and Abbé Royer.

[12] "Les Feuillants" Was a political club consisting of
constitutional monarchists who held their meetings in the former
Feuillants monastery in Paris from 1791 to 1792. (SR).

[13] Decree of Sept 29, 30, 1791, with report and instructions of the
Committee on the Constitution.

[14] Decree of May 17, 1791. -- Malouet, XII. 161. 'There was nothing
left to us but to make one great mistake, which we did not fail to

[15] A few months after this, on the election of a mayor for Paris,
the court voted against Lafayette, and for Pétion

[16] M. de Montlosier, "Mémoires," II. 309. "As far as concerns
myself, truth compels me to say, that I was stuck on the head by three
carrots and two cabbages only." -- Archives of the prefecture of
police (decisions of the police court, May 15, 1790). Moniteur, V.
427. "The prompt attendance of the members at the hour of meeting, in
spite of the hooting and murmurings of the crowd, seemed to convince
the people that this was yet another conspiracy against liberty."

[17] This is what is, today in 1998, taking place whenever any
political faction, disliked by the Socialists, try to arrange a
meeting. (SR).

[18] Malout, II. 50. - Mercure de France, Jan. 7, Feb. 5, and April
9, 1791 (letter of a member of the Monarchical Club

[19] Ferrières, II. 222. "The Jacobin Club sent five or six hundred
trusty men, armed with clubs," besides "about a hundred national
guards, and some of the Palais-Royal prostitutes."

[20] Journal des Amis de la Constitution." Letter of the Café
National! Club at Bordeaux, Jan. 20, 1791. -- Letters of the "Friends
of the Constitution," at Brives and Cambray, Jan. 19, 1791.

[21] "The French Revolution," I. pp. 243, 324.

[22] Mercure de France, Dec.18, 1790, Jan. 17, June 8, and July 14,
1791. -- Moniteur, VI. 697. -- "Archives Nationales," F7, 3,193.
Letter from the Directory of the department of Aveyron, April 20,
1792. Narrative of events after the end of 1790. -- May 22, 1791, the
club of "The Friends of Order and Peace" is burned by the Jacobins,
the fire lasting all night and a part of the next day. (Official
report of the Directory of Milhau, May 22, 1791).

[23] "The French Revolution," I. 256, 307.

[24] Mercure de France, Dec. 14, 1790 (letter from Villeneuve-St.-
Georges, Nov.29).

[25] "Archives Nationales," II. 1,453. Correspondence of M. Bercheny.
Letter from Pau, Feb. 7, 1790. "No one has any idea of the actual
state of things, in this once delightful town. People are cutting each
other's throats. Four duels have taken place within 48 hours, and ten
or a dozen good citizens have been obliged to hide themselves for
three days past"

[26] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3,249. Memorial on the actual
condition of the town and district of Mortagne, department of Orne
(November, 1791).

[27] Revolutionary song with the refrain: "Les aristocrates, à la
lanterne, tous les aristocrates on les pendra" (all the aristocrats
will hang). (SR)

[28] On the 15th of August, 1791, the mother-superior of the Hôtel-
Dieu hospital is forcibly carried off and placed in a tavern, half a
league from the town, while the rest of the nuns are driven out and
replaced by eight young girls from the town. Among other motives that
require notice is the hostility of two pharmacists belonging to the
club; in the Hotel-Dieu the nuns, keeping a pharmacy from which they
sold drugs at cost and thereby brought themselves into competition
with the two pharmacists.

[29] Cf. "Archives Nationales," DXXIX. 13. Letter of the municipal
officers and notables of Champceuil to the administrators of Seine-et-
Oise, concerning elections, June 17, 1791. -- Similar letters, from
various other parishes, among them that of Charcon, June 16: "They
have the honor to inform you that, at the time of the preceding
primary meetings, they were exposed to the greatest danger; that the
curé of Charcon, their pastor, was repeatedly stabbed with a bayonet,
the marks of which he will carry to his grave. The mayor, and several
other inhabitants of Charcon, escaped the same peril with difficulty."
- Ibid., letters from the administrators of Hautes-Alpes to the
National Assembly (September, 1791), on the disturbances in the
electoral assembly of Gap, August 29, 1791.

[30] Police searches of private homes. (SR).

[31] "The French Revolution," pp. 159, 160, 310, 323, 324. -
Lauvergne, "Histoire du département du Var," (August 23).

[32] '"Archives Nationales," F7, 3,198, deposition of Vérand-Icard,
an elector at Arles, Sep. 8, 1791. - Ibid., F7, 3,195. Letter of the
administrators of the Tarascon district, Dec. 8, 1791. Two parties
confront each other at the municipal elections of Barbantane, one
headed by the Abbé Chabaud, brother of one of the Avignon brigands,
composed of three or four townsmen, and of "the most impoverished in
the country," and the other, three times as numerous, comprising all
the land-owners, the substantial métayers and artisans, and all "who
are most interested in a good administration" The question is, whether
the Abbé Chabaud is to be mayor. The elections took place Dec.5th,
1791. Here is the official report of the acting mayor: mayor: "We,
Pierre Fontaine, mayor, addressed the rioters, to induce them to keep
the peace. At this very moment, the said Claude Gontier, alias Baoque,
struck us with his fist on the left eye, which bruised us
considerably, and on account of which we are almost blind, and,
conjointly with others, jumped upon us, threw us down, and dragged us
by the hair, continuing to strike us, from in front of the church
door, till we came in front of the door a, the town hall."

[33] Ibid., F7, 3,229. Letters of M. de Laurède, June 18, 1791; from
the directory of the department, June 8, July 31, and Sept. 22, 1791;
from the municipality, July 15, 1791. The municipality "leaves the
release of the prisoners in suspense," for six months, because, it
says, the people is disposed to "insurrectionise against their
discharge." - Letter of many of the national guard, stating that the
factions form only a part of it.

[34] Mercure de France, Dec. 10, 1791, letter from Montpellier, dated
Nov. 17, 1791. -- " Archives Nationales," F7, 3,223. Extracts from
letters, on the incidents of Oct. 9 and 12, 1791. Petition by Messrs.
Théri and Devon, Nov. 17, 1791. Letter addressed them to the Minister,
Oct. 25. Letters of M. Dupin, syndical attorney of the department, to
the Minister, Nov.14 and 15, and Dec. 26, 1791 (with official
reports). -- Among those assassinated on the 14th and 15th of
November, we find a jeweler, an attorney, a carpenter, and a dyer.
"This painful Scene," writes the syndic attorney, "has restored quiet
to the town."

[35] Buchez et Roux, X. 223 (1'Ami du Peuple, June 17, 19, 21, 1791)

[36] "'Archives Nationales,' F7, 3204. letter by M. Melon de Tradou,
royal commissary at Tulle, Sept. 8, 1791


Composition of the Legislative Assembly. -- Social rank of the
Deputies. Their inexperience, incompetence, and prejudices.

If it be true that a nation should be represented by its superior men,
France was strangely represented during the Revolution. From one
Assembly to another we see the level steadily declining; especially is
the fall very great from the Constituent to the Legislative Assembly.
The actors entitled to perform withdraw just as they begin to
understand their parts; and yet more, they have excluded themselves
from the theatre, while the stage is surrendered to their substitutes.

"The preceding Assembly," writes an ambassador,[1] "contained men of
great talent, large fortune, and honorable name, a combination which
had an imposing effect on the people, although violently opposed to
personal distinctions. The actual Assembly is but little more than a
council of lawyers, got together from every town and village in

In actual fact, out of 745 deputies, indeed, "400 lawyers belong, for
the most part, to the dregs of the profession"; there are about twenty
constitutional priests, "as many poets and literary men of but little
reputation, almost all without any fortune," the greater number being
less than thirty years old, sixty being less than twenty-six,[2]
nearly all of them trained in the clubs and the popular assemblies".
There is not one noble or prelate belonging to the ancient régime, no
great landed proprietor,[3] no head of a service, no eminent
specialist in diplomacy, in finance, in the administrative or military
arts. But three general officers are found there, and these are of the
lower rank,[4] one of them having held his appointment but three
months, and the other two being wholly unknown. -- At the head of the
diplomatic committee stands Brissot, itinerant journalist, lately
traveling about in England and the United States. He is supposed to be
competent in the affairs of both worlds; in reality he is one of those
presuming, threadbare, talkative fellows, who, living in a garret,
lecture foreign cabinets and reconstruct all Europe. Things, to them,
seem to be as easily worked out as words and sentences: one day,[5] to
entice the English into an alliance with France, Brissot proposes to
place two towns, Dunkirk and Calais, in their hands as security;
another day, he proposes "to make a descent on Spain, and, at the same
time, to send a fleet to conquer Mexico." -- The leading member on the
committee on finances is Cambon, a merchant from Montpellier, a good
accountant, who, at a later period, is to simplify accounting and
regulate the Grand Livre of the public debt, which means public
bankruptcy. Mean-while, he hastens this on with all his might by
encouraging the Assembly to undertake the ruinous and terrible war
that is to last for twenty-three years; according to him, "there is
more money than is needed for it."[6] In actual fact, the guarantee
of assignats is used up and the taxes do not come in. They live only
on the paper money they issue. The assignats lose forty per centum,
and the ascertained deficit for 1792 is four hundred millions.[7] But
this revolutionary financier relies upon the confiscations which he
instigates in France, and which are to be set agoing in Belgium; here
lies all his invention, a systematic robbery on a grand scale within
and without the kingdom.

As to the legislators and manufacturers of constitutions, we have
Condorcet, a cold-blooded fanatic and systematic leveler, satisfied
that a mathematical method suits the social sciences fed on
abstractions, blinded by formulœ, and the most chimerical of perverted
intellects. Never was a man versed in books more ignorant of mankind;
never did a lover of scientific precision better succeed in changing
the character of facts. It was he who, two days before the 20th of
June, amidst the most brutal public excitement, admired "the calmness"
and rationality of the multitude; "considering the way people
interpret events, it might be supposed that they had given some hours
of each day to the study of analysis." It is he who, two days after
the 20th of June, extolled the red cap in which the head of Louis XVI.
had been muffled. "That crown is as good as any other. Marcus
Aurelius would not have despised it."[8] -- Such is the discernment
and practical judgment of the leaders; from these one can form an
opinion of the flock. It consists of novices arriving from the
provinces and bringing with them the principles and prejudices of the
newspaper. So remote from the center, having no knowledge of general
affairs or of their unity, they are two years behind their brethren of
the Constituent Assembly. They are described in the following manner
by Malouet,[9]

"Most of them, without having decided against a monarchy, had decided
against the court, the aristocracy, and the clergy, ever imagining
conspiracies and believing that defense consisted solely in attack.
There were still many men of talent among them, but with no
experience; they even lacked that which we had obtained. Our patriot
deputies, in great part, were aware of their errors; the novices were
not, they were ready to begin all over again."

Moreover, they have their own political bent, for nearly all of them
are upstarts of the new régime. We find in their ranks 264 department
administrators, 109 district administrators, 125 justices and
prosecuting-attorneys, 68 mayors and town officers, besides about
twenty officers of the National Guard, constitutional bishops and
curés. The whole amounting to 566 of the elected functionaries, who,
for the past twenty months, have carried on the government under the
direction of their electors. We have seen how this was done and under
what conditions, with what compliances and with what complicity, with
what deference to clamorous opinion, with what docility in the
presence of rioters, with what submission to the orders of the mob,
with what a deluge of sentimental phrases and commonplace
abstractions. Sent to Paris as deputies, through the choice or
toleration of the clubs, they bear along with them their politics and
their rhetoric. The result is an assemblage of narrow, perverted,
hasty, inflated and feeble minds; at each daily session, twenty word-
mills turn to no purpose, the greatest of public powers at once
becoming a manufactory of nonsense, a school of extravagancies, and a
theatre for declamation.


Degree and quality of their intelligence and Culture.

Is it possible that serious men could have listened to such weird
nonsense until the bitter end?

"I am a tiller of the soil,"[10] says one deputy, "I now dare speak
of the antique nobility of my plow. A yoke of oxen once constituted
the pure, incorruptible legal worthies before whom my good ancestors
executed their contracts, the authenticity of which, far better
recorded on the soil than on flimsy parchment, is protected from any
species of revolution whatever."

Is it conceivable that the reporter of a law, that is about to exile
or imprison forty thousand priests, should employ in an argument such
silly bombast as the following?[11]

"I have seen in the rural districts the hymeneal torch diffusing only
pale and somber rays, or, transformed into the flambeaux of furies,
the hideous skeleton of superstition seated even on the nuptial couch,
placed between nature and the wedded, and arresting, etc. . . . Oh
Rome, art thou satisfied? Art thou then like Saturn, to whom fresh
holocausts were daily imperative? . . . Depart, ye creators of
discord! The soil of liberty is weary of bearing you. Would ye breathe
the atmosphere of the Aventine mount? The national ship is already
prepared for you. I hear on the shore the impatient cries of the
crew; I see the breezes of liberty swelling its sails. Like
Telemachus, ye will go forth on the waters to seek your father; but
never will you have to dread the Sicilian rocks, nor the seductions of
a Eucharis."

Courtesies of pedants, rhetorical personifications, and the invective
of maniacs is the prevailing tone. The same defect characterizes the
best speeches, namely, an overexcited brain, a passion for high-
sounding terms, the constant use of stilts and an incapacity for
seeing things as they are and of so describing them. Men of talent,
Isnard, Guadet, Vergniaud himself, are carried away by hollow sonorous
phrases like a ship with too much canvas for its ballast. Their minds
are stimulated by souvenirs of their school lessons, the modern world
revealing itself to them only through their Latin reminiscences. --
François de Nantes is exasperated at the pope "who holds in servitude
the posterity of Cato and of Scœvola." -- Isnard proposes to follow
the example of the Roman senate which, to allay discord at home, got
up an outside war: between old Rome and France of 1792, indeed, there
is a striking resemblance. -- Roux insists that the Emperor (of
Austria) should give satisfaction before the 1st of March; "in a case
like this the Roman people would have fixed the term of delay; why
shouldn't the French people fix one? . . ." "The circle of Popilius"
should be drawn around those petty, hesitating German princes. When
money is needed to establish camps around Paris and the large towns,
Lasource proposes to dispose of the national forests and is amazed at
any objection to the measure. "Cœsar's soldiers," he exclaims,
"believing that an ancient forest in Gaul was sacred, dared not lay
the axe to it; are we to share their superstitious respect?"[12] ---
Add to this collegiate lore the philosophic dregs deposited in all
minds by the great sophist then in vogue. Larivière reads in the
tribune[13] that page of the "Contrat Social," where Rousseau declares
that the sovereign may banish members "of an unsocial religion," and
punish with death "one who, having publicly recognized the dogmas of
civil religion, acts as if he did not believe in them." On which,
another hissing parrot, M. Filassier, exclaims, "I put J. J.
Rousseau's proposition into the form of a motion and demand a vote on
it." -- In like manner it is proposed to grant very young girls the
right of marrying in spite of their parents by stating, according to
the "Nouvelle Héloise"

"that a girl thirteen or fourteen years old begins to sigh for the
union which nature dictates. She struggles between passion and duty,
so that, if she triumphs, she becomes a martyr, something that is rare
in nature. It may happen that a young person prefers the serene shame
of defeat to a wearisome eight year long struggle."

Divorce is inaugurated to "preserve in matrimony that happy peace of
mind which renders the sentiments livelier."[14] Henceforth this will
no longer be a chain but "the acquittance of an agreeable debt which
every citizen owes to his country. . . Divorce is the protecting
spirit of marriage."[15]

On a background of classic pedantry, with only vague and narrow
notions of ordinary instruction, lacking exact and substantial
information, flow obscenities and enlarged commonplaces enveloped in a
mythological gauze, spouting in long tirades as maxims from the
revolutionary manual. Such is the superficial culture and verbal
argumentation from which vulgar and dangerous ingredients the
intelligence of the new legislators is formed.[16]


Aspects of their sessions. -- Scenes and display at the club. -- Co-
operation of spectators.

From this we can imagine what their sessions were. "More in-coherent
and especially more passionate than those of the Constituent
Assembly"[17] they present the same but intensified characteristics.
The argument is weaker, the invective more violent, and the dogmatism
more intemperate. Inflexibility degenerates into insolence, prejudice
into fanaticism, and near-sightedness into blindness. Disorder
becomes a tumult and constant din an uproar. Suppose, says an eye-

"a classroom with hundreds of pupils quarreling and every instant on
the point of seizing each other by the hair. Their dress neglected,
their attitudes angry, with sudden transitions from shouting to
hooting . . is a sight hard to imagine and to which nothing can be

It lacks nothing for making it a club of the lowest species. Here, in
advance, we contemplate the ways of the future revolutionary
inquisition. They welcome burlesque denunciations; enter into petty
police investigations; weigh the tittle-tattle of porters and the
gossip of servant-girls; devote an all-night session to the secrets of
a drunkard.[18] They enter on their official report and without any
disapproval, the petition of M. Huré, "living at Pont-sur-Yonne, who,
over his own signature, offers one hundred francs and his arm to
become a killer of tyrants." Repeated and multiplied hurrahs and
applause with the felicitations of the president is the sanction of
scandalous or ridiculous private misconduct seeking to display itself
under the cover of public authority. Anacharsis Clootz, "a Mascarille
officially stamped," who proposes a general war and who hawks about
maps of Europe cut up in advance into departments beginning with
Savoy, Belgium and Holland "and thus onward to the Polar Sea," is
thanked and given a seat on the benches of the Assembly.[19]
Compliments are made to the Vicar of Sainte-Marguerite and his wife is
given a seat in the Assembly and who, introducing "his new family,"
thunders against clerical celibacy.[20] Crowds of men and women are
permitted to traverse the hall letting out political cries. Every sort
of indecent, childish and seditious parade is admitted to the bar of
the house.[21] To-day it consists of "citoyennes of Paris," desirous
of being drilled in military exercises and of having for their
commandants "former French guardsmen;" to-morrow children come and
express their patriotism with "touching simplicity," regretting that
"their trembling feet do not permit them to march, no, fly against the
tyrants;" next to these come convicts of the Château - Vieux escorted
by a noisy crowd; at another time the artillerymen of Paris, a
thousand in number, with drums beating; delegates from the provinces,
the faubourgs and the clubs come constantly, with their furious
harangues, and imperious remonstrances, their exactions, their threats
and their summonses. -- In the intervals between the louder racket a
continuous hubbub is heard in the clatter of the tribunes.[22] At each
session "the representatives are chaffed by the spectators; the nation
in the gallery is judge of the nation on the floor;" it interferes in
the debates, silences the speakers, insults the president and orders
the reporter of a bill to quit the tribune. One interruption, or a
simple murmur, is not all; there are twenty, thirty, fifty in an hour,
clamoring, stamping, yells and personal abuse. After countless useless
entreaties, after repeated calls to order, "received with hooting,"
after a dozen "regulations that are made, revised, countermanded and
posted up" as if better to prove the impotence of the law, of the
authorities and of the Assembly itself, the usurpations of these
intruders keep on increasing. They have shouted for ten months "Down
with the civil list! Down with the ministerials! Down with those curs!
Silence, slaves!' On the 26th of July, Brissot himself is to appear
lukewarm and be struck on the face with two plums. "Three or four
hundred individuals without either property, title, or means of
subsistence . . . have become the auxiliaries, petitioners and umpires
of the legislature," their paid violence completely destroying
whatever is still left of the Assembly's reason.[23]


The Parties.- The "Right." - "Center." - The "Left." - Opinions and
sentiments of the Girondins. - Their Allies of the extreme "left."

In an assembly thus composed and surrounded, it is easy to foresee on
which side the balance will turn. -- Through the meshes of the
electoral net which the Jacobins have spread over the whole country,
about one hundred well-meaning individuals of the common run,
tolerably sensible and sufficiently resolute, Mathieu Dumas, Dumolard,
Becquet, Gorguereau, Vaublanc, Beugnot, Girardin, Ramond, Jaucourt,
were able to pass and form the party of the "Right."[24] They resist
to as great an extent as possible, and seem to have obtained a
majority. -- For, of the four hundred deputies who have their seats in
the center, one hundred and sixty-four are inscribed on the rolls with
them at the Feuillants club, while the rest, under the title of
"Independents," pretend to be of no party.[25] Besides, the whole of
these four hundred, through monarchical traditions, respect the King;
timid and sensible, violence is repugnant to them. They distrust the
Jacobins, dread what is unknown, desire to be loyal to the
Constitution and to live in peace. Nevertheless, the pompous dogmas of
the revolutionary catechism still have their prestige with them; they
cannot comprehend how the Constitution which they like produces the
anarchy which they detest; they are "foolish enough to bemoan the
effects while swearing to maintain their causes; totally deficient in
spirit, in union and in boldness," they float backwards and forwards
between contradictory desires, while their predisposition to order
merely awaits the steady impulsion of a vigorous will to turn it in
the opposite direction. -- On such docile material the "Left" can work
effectively. It comprises, indeed, but one hundred and thirty-six
registered Jacobins and about a hundred others who, in almost all
cases, vote with the party;[26] rigidity of opinion, however, more
than compensates for lack of numbers. In the front row are Guadet,
Brissot, Gensonné, Veygniaud, Ducos, and Condorcet, the future chiefs
of the Girondists, all of them lawyers or writers captivated by
deductive politics, absolute in their convictions and proud of their
faith. According to them principles are true and must be applied
without reservation;[27] whoever would stop half-way is wanting in
courage or intelligence. As for themselves their minds are made up to
push through. With the self-confidence of youth and of theorists they
draw their own conclusions and hug themselves with their strong belief
in them. "These gentlemen," says a keen observer,[28]

"professed great disdain for their predecessors, the Constituents,
treating them as short-sighted and prejudiced people incapable of
profiting by circumstances."

"To the observations of wisdom, and disinterested wisdom,[29] they
replied with a scornful smile, indicative of the aridity proceeding
from self-conceit. One exhausted himself in reminding them of events
and in deducing causes from these; one passed in turn from theory to
experience and from experience to theory to show them their identity
and, when they condescended to reply it was to deny the best
authenticated facts and contest the plainest observations by opposing
to these a few trite maxims although eloquently expressed. Each
regarded the other as if they alone were worthy of being heard, each
encouraging the other with the idea that all resistance to their way
of looking at things was pusillanimity."

In their own eyes they alone are capable and they alone are patriotic.
Because they have read Rousseau and Mably, because their tongue is
untied and their pen flowing, because they know how to handle the
formulœ of books and reason out an abstract proposition, they fancy
that they are statesmen.[30] Because they have read Plutarch and "Le
Jeune Anacharsis," because they aim to construct a perfect society out
of metaphysical conceptions, because they are in a ferment about the
coming millennium, they imagine themselves so many exalted spirits.
They have no doubt whatever on these two points even after everything
has fallen in through their blunders, even after their obliging hands
are sullied by the foul grasp of robbers whom they were the first to
instigate, and by that of executioners of which they are partners in
complicity.[31] To this extent is self-conceit the worst of sophists.
Convinced of their superior enlightenment and of the purity of their
sentiments, they put forth the theory that the government should be in
their hands. Consequently they lay hold of it in the Legislative body
in ways that are going to turn against them in the Convention. They
accept for allies the worst demagogues of the extreme "Left," Chabot,
Couthon, Merlin, Bazière, Thuriot, Lecointre, and outside of it,
Danton, Robespierre, Marat himself, all the levelers and destroyers
whom they think of use to them, but of whom they themselves are the
instruments. The motions they make must pass at any cost and, to
ensure this, they let loose against their adversaries the low, yelping
mob which others, still more factious, will to-morrow let loose on


Their means of action. -- Dispersion of the Feuillants' club.--
Pressure of the tribunes on the Assembly. -- Street mobs.

Thus, for the second time, the pretended freedom fighters seek power
by boldly employing force. -- They begin by suppressing the meetings
of the Feuillants club.[32] The customary riot is instigated against
these, whereupon ensue tumult, violent outcries and scuffles; mayor
Pétion complains of his position "between opinion and law," and lets
things take their course; finally, the Feuillants are obliged to
evacuate their place of meeting. - - Inside the Assembly they are
abandoned to the insolence of the galleries. In vain do they get
exasperated and protest. Ducastel, referring to the decree of the
Constituent Assembly, which forbids any manifestation of approbation
or disapprobation, is greeted with murmurs. He insists on the decree
being read at the opening of each session, and "the murmurs begin
again."[33] "Is it not scandalous," says Vaublanc, "that the nation's
representatives speaking from the tribune are subject to hootings like
those bestowed upon an actor on the stage!" whereupon the galleries
give him three rounds more. "Will posterity believe," says Quatremère,
"that acts concerning the honor, the lives, and the fortunes of
citizens should be subject, like games in the arena, to the applause
and hisses of the spectators!" "Come to the point!" shout the
galleries. "If ever," resumes Quatremère, "the most important of
judicial acts (an act of capital indictment) can be exposed to this
scandalous prostitution of applause and menaces . . . " "The murmurs
break out afresh." -- Every time that a sanguinary or incendiary
measure is to be carried, the most furious and prolonged clamor stops
the utterance of its opponents: "Down with the speaker! Send the
reporter of that bill to prison! Down! Down! Sometimes only about
twenty of the deputies will applaud or hoot with the galleries, and
sometimes it is the entire Assembly which is insulted. Fists are
thrust in the president's face. All that now remains is "to call down
the galleries on the floor to pass decrees," which proposition is
ironically made by one of the "Right."[34]

Great, however, as this usurpation may be, the minority, in order to
suppress the majority, accommodate themselves to it, the Jacobins in
the chamber making common cause with the Jacobins in the galleries.
The disturbers should not be put out; "it would be excluding from our
deliberations," says Grangeneuve, "that which belongs essentially to
the people." On one of the deputies demanding measures to enforce
silence, "Torné demands that the proposition be referred to the
Portugal inquisition." Choudieu "declares that it can only emanate
from deputies who forget that respect which is due to the people,
their sovereign judge."[35] "The action of the galleries," says
Lecointe-Puyraiveaux, "is an outburst of patriotism." Finally, this
same Choudieu, twisting and turning all rights about with incomparable
audacity, wishes to confer legislative privileges on the audience, and
demands a decree against the deputies who, guilty of popular lèse-
majesté, presume to complain of those who insult them. -- Another
piece of oppressive machinery, still more energetic, operates outside
on the approaches to the Assembly. Like their predecessors of the
Constituent Assembly, the members of the "Right" "cannot leave the
building without encountering the threats and imprecations of enraged
crowds. Cries of 'to the lantern!' greet the ears of Dumolard,
Vaublanc, Raucourd, and Lacretelle as often as those of the Abbé Maury
and Montlosier."[36] After having hurled abuse at the president,
Mathieu Dumas, they insult his wife who has been recognized in a
reserved gallery.[37] In the Tuileries, crowds are always standing
there listening to the brawlers who denounce suspected deputies by
name, and woe to any among them who takes that path on his way to the
chamber! A broadside of insults greets him as he passes along. If
the deputy happens to be a farmer, they exclaim: "Look at that queer
old aristocrat -- an old peasant dog that used to watch cows!" One day
Hua, on going up the steps of the Tuileries terrace, is seized by the
hair by an old vixen who bids him "Bow your head to your sovereigns,
the people, you bastard of a deputy!" On the 20th of June one of the
patriots, who is crossing the Assembly room, whispers in his ear, "You
scamp of a deputy, you'll never die but by my hand!" Another time,
having defended the juge-de-paix Larivière, there awaits him at the
door, in the middle of the night, "a set of blackguards, who crowd
around him and thrust their fists and cudgels in his face;" happily,
his friends Dumas and Daverhoult, two military officers, foreseeing
the danger, present their pistols and set him free "although with some
difficulty." -- As the 10th of August draws near there is more open
aggression. Vaublanc, for having defended Lafayette, just misses being
cut to pieces three times on leaving the Assembly; sixty of the
deputies are treated in the same fashion, being struck, covered with
mud, and threatened with death if they dare go back.[38] -- With such
allies a minority is very strong. Thanks to its two agencies of
constraint it will detach the votes it needs from the majority and,
either through terror or craft, secure the passage of all the decrees
it needs.


Parliamentary maneuvers. -- Abuses of urgency. -- Vote on the
principle. -- Call by name. -Intimidation of the "Center." --
Opponents inactive. -- The majority finally disposed of.

Sometimes it succeeds surreptitiously by rushing them through. As
"there is no order of the day circulated beforehand, and, in any
event, none which anybody is obliged to adhere to,"[39] the Assembly
is captured by surprise. "The first knave amongst the 'Left,' (which
expression, says Hua, I do not strike out, because there were many
among those gentlemen), brought up a ready-made resolution, prepared
the evening before by a clique. We were not prepared for it and
demanded that it should be referred to a committee. Instead of doing
this, however, the resolution was declared urgent, and, whether we
would or not, discussion had to take place forthwith."[40] -- "There
were other tactics equally perfidious, which Thuriot, especially,
made use of. This great rascal got up and proposed, not the draft of a
law, but what he called a principle; for instance, a decree should be
passed confiscating the property of the émigrés, . . or that unsworn
priests should be subject to special surveillance.[41] . . . In
reply, he was told that his principle was the core of a law, the very
law itself; so let it be debated by referring it to a committee to
make a report on it. -- Not at all -- the matter is urgent; a
committee might fix the articles as it pleases; they are worthless if
the principle is not common sense." Through this expeditious method
discussion is stifled. The Jacobins purposely prevent the Assembly
from giving the matter any consideration. They count on its
bewilderment. In the name of reason, they discard reason as far as
they can, and hasten a vote because their decrees do not stand up to
analysis. -- At other times, and especially on grand occasions, they
compel a vote. In general, votes are given by the members either
sitting down or standing up, and, for the four hundred deputies of the
"Center," subject to the scolding of the exasperated galleries, it is
a tolerably hard trial. "Part of them do not arise, or they rise with
the 'Left'."[42] If the "Right" happens to have a majority, "this is
contested in bad faith and a call of the house is demanded." Now, "the
calls of the house, through an intolerable abuse, are always
published; the Jacobins declaring that it is well for the people to
know their friends from their enemies." The meaning of this is that
this list of the opposition will soon serve as a list of the outlaws,
on which the timid are not disposed to inscribe themselves. The result
is an immediate defection in the heavy battalions of the "Centre";
"this is a positive fact," says Hua, "of which we were all witnesses;
we always lost a hundred votes on the call of the house." -- Towards
the end they give up, and protest no more, except by staying away: on
the 14th of June, when the abolishment of the whole system of feudal
credit was being dealt with, only the extreme left was attending; the
rest of the "Assembly hall was nearly empty"; out of 497 deputies in
attendance, 200 had left the session.[43] Encouraged for a moment by
the appearance of some possible protection, they twice exonerate
General Lafayette, behind whom they see an army,[44] and brave the
despots of the Assembly, the clubs, and the streets. But, for lack of
a military chief and base, the visible majority is twice obliged to
yield, to keep silent, and fly or retreat under the dictatorship of
the victorious faction, which has strained and forced the legislative
machine until it has become disjointed and broken down.[45]


[1]"Correspondence (manuscript) of Baron de Staël," with his Court in
Sweden. Oct. 6, 1791.

[2] "Souvenirs", by PASQUIER (Etienne-Dennis, duc), chancelier de
France. in VI volumes, Librarie Plon, Paris 1893. - Dumouriez,
"Mémoires," III. ch. V: "The Jacobin party, having branches all over
the country, used its provincial clubs to control the elections. Every
crackbrain, every seditious scribbler, all the agitators were elected
. . . very few enlightened or prudent men, and still fewer of the
nobles, were chosen."-- Moniteur, XII. 199 (meeting of April 23,
1792). Speech M. Lecointe-Puyravaux. "We need not dissimulate; indeed,
we are proud to say, that this legislature is composed of persons who
are not rich."

[3] Mathieu Dumas, "Mémoires," I. 521. "The excitement in the
electoral assemblages was very great; the aristocrats and large land-
owners abstained from coming there." -- Correspondance de Mirabeau et
du Comte de la Mark, III. 246, Oct.10, 1791. "Nineteen twentieths of
this legislature have no other transportation (turn-out) than galoshes
and umbrellas. It has been estimated, that all these deputies put
together do not possess 300,000 livres solid income. The majority of
the members of this Assembly have received no education whatever."

[4] They rank as Maréchaux de camp, a grade corresponding to that of
brigadier-general. They are Dupuy-Montbrun (deceased in March, 1792),
Descrots-d'Estrée, a weak and worn old man whom his children forced
into the Legislative Assembly, and, lastly, Mathieu Dumas, a
conservative, and the only prominent one.

[5] "Correspondance du Baron de Staël," Jan.19, 1792. -- Gouverneur
Morris (II.162, Feb. 4, 1792) writes to Washington that M. de
Warville, on the diplomatic committee, proposed to cede Dunkirk and
Calais to England, as a pledge of fidelity by France, in any
engagement which she might enter into. You can judge, by this, of the
wisdom and virtue of the faction to which he belongs -- Buchez et
Roux, XXX 89 (defense of Brissot, Jan. 5, 1793) "Brissot, like all
noisy, reckless, ambitious men, started in full blast with the
strangest paradoxes. In 1780. in his 'Recherches philosophiques sur le
droit de propriété,' he wrote as follows: 'If 40 crowns suffice to
maintain existence, the possession of 200,000 crowns is plainly unjust
and a robbery . . . Exclusive ownership is a veritable crime against
nature . . . The punishment of robbery in our institutions is an act
of virtue which nature herself commands.'"

[6] Moniteur, speech by Cambon, sittings of Feb. 2 and April 20, 1792.

[7] Ibid., (sitting of April 3). Speech by M. Cailliasson. The
property belonging to the nation, sold and to be sold, is valued at
2,195 millions, while the assignats already issued amount to 2,100
millions. -- Cf. Mercure de France, Dec. 17, 1791, p.201; Jan.28,
1792, p. 215; May 19, 1792, p. 205. -- Dumouriez, "Mémoires," III.
296, and 339, 340, 344, 346. - "Cambon, a raving lunatic, without
education, humane principle, or integrity (public) a meddler, an
ignoramus, and very giddy. He tells me that one resource remained to
him, which is, to seize all the coin in Belgium, all the plate
belonging to the churches, and all the cash deposits . . . that, on
ruining the Belgians, on reducing them to the same state of suffering
as the French, they would necessarily share their fate with them; that
they would then be admitted members of the Republic, with the prospect
of always making headway, through the same line of policy; that the
decree of Dec. 15, 1792, admirably favored this and, because it tended
to a complete disorganization, and that the luckiest thing that could
happen to France was to disorganize all its neighbors and reduce them
to the same state of anarchy." (This conversation between Cambon and
Dumouriez occurs in the middle of January, 1793.) - Moniteur, XIV. 758
(sitting of Dec. 15, 1792). Report by Cambon.

[8] Chronique de Paris, Sept. 4, 1792. "It is a sad and terrible
situation which forces a people, naturally amiable and generous, to
take such vengeance! " - Cf. the very acute article, by St. Beuve, on
Condorcet, in "Causeries du Lundi," -- Hua (a colleague of Condorcet,
in the Legislative Assembly), "Mémoires," 89. "Condorcet, in his
journal, regularly falsified things, with an audacity which is
unparelleled. The opinions of the 'Right' were so mutilated and
travestied the next day in his journal, that we, who had uttered them,
could scarcely recognise them. On complaining of this to him and on
charging him with perfidy, the philosopher only smiled."

[9] Malouet, II. 215. -- Dumouriez, III. ch. V. "They were elected to
represent the nation to defend, they say, its interests against a
perfidious court."

[10] Moniteur, X. 223 (session of Oct. 26, 1791). Speech by M.
François Duval. -- Grandiloquence is the order of the day at the very
first meeting. On the 1st of October, 1791, twelve old men, marching
in procession, go out to fetch the constitutional act. "M. Camus,
keeper of the records, with a composed air and downcast eyes, enters
with measured steps," bearing in both hands the sacred document which
he holds against his breast, while the deputies stand up and bare
their heads. "People of France," says an orator, "citizens of Paris,
all generous Frenchmen, and you, our fellow citizens -- virtuous,
intelligent women, bringing your gentle influence into the sanctuary
of the law -- behold the guarantee of peace which the legislature
presents to you!" -- We seem to be witnessing the last act of an

[11] Ibid., XII. 230 (sessions of April 26 and May 5). Report and
speech by François de Nantes. The whole speech, a comic treasure from
the beginning to the end, ought to have been quoted: "Tell me, pontiff
of Rome, what your sentiments will be when you welcome your worthy and
faithful co-operators? . . I behold your sacred hands, ready to launch
those pontifical thunderbolts, which, etc. . . Let the brazier of
Scœvola be brought in, and, with our outstretched palms above the
burning coals, we will show that there is no species of torture, no
torment which can excite a frown on the brow of him whom the love of
country exalts above humanity!" -- Suppose that, just at this moment,
a lighted candle had been placed under his hand!

[12] Moniteur, XI. 179 (session of Jan. 20, 1792). - Ibid., 216
(session of Jan. 24). - XII. 426 (May 9).

[13] Ibid., XII. 479 (session of May 24). - XIII. 71 (session of July
7, speech by Lasource). - Cf. XIV. 301 (session of July 31) a
quotation from Voltaire brought in for the suppression of the

[14] Moniteur. Speech by Aubert Dubayer, session of Aug. 30.

[15] Speech by Chaumette, procureur of the commune, to the newly
married. (Mortimer-Ternaux, IV. 408).

[16] The class to which they belonged has been portrayed, to the life,
by M. Roye-Collard (Sainte-Beuve, "Nouveaux Lundis," IV. 263): "A
young lawyer at Paris, at first received in a few houses on the Ile
St. Louis, he soon withdrew from this inferior world of attorneys and
pettyfoggers, whose tone oppressed him. The very thought of the
impression this gallant and intensely vulgar mediocrity made upon him,
still inspired disgust. He much preferred to talk with longshoremen,
if need be, than with these scented limbs of the law."

[17] Etienne Dumont, "Mémoires," 40. -- Mercure de France, Nov. 19,
1791; Feb. 11 and March 3, 1792. (articles by Mallet du Pan).

[18] Moniteur, Dec. 17 (examination at the bar of the house of Rauch,
a pretended labor contractor, whom they are obliged to send off
acquitted). Rauch tells them: "I have no money, and cannot find a
place where I can sleep at less than 6 sous, because I pee in the
bed." -- Moniteur, XII. 574. (session of June 4), report by Chabot: "A
peddler from Mortagne, says that a domestic coming from Coblentz told
him that there was a troop about to carry off the king and poison him,
so as to throw the odium of it on the National Assembly." Bernassais
de Poitiers writes: "A brave citizen told me last evening: 'I have
been to see a servant-girl, living with a noble. She assured me that
her master was going to-night to Paris, to join the 30,000, who, in
about a month, meant to cut the throats of the National Assembly and
set fire to every corner of Paris!'" - "M. Gerard, a saddler at
Amiens, writes to us that Louis XVI is to be aided in his flight by
5,000 relays, and that afterwards they are going to fire red-hot
bullets on the National Assembly."

[19] Mercure de France, Nov. 5, 1791 (session of Oct. 25). -- Ibid.,
Dec. 23.-Moniteur, XII. 192 (session of April 21, 1792). -- XII. 447
(address to the French, by Clootz): "God brought order out of
primitive chaos; the French will bring order out of feudal chaos. God
is mighty, and manifested his will; we are mighty, and we will
manifest our will. . . The more extensive the seat of war the sooner,
and more fortunately, will the suit of plebeians against the nobles be
decided. . . We require enemies, . . Savoy, Tuscany, and quickly,

[20] Cf. Moniteur, XI. 192 (sitting of Jan. 22, 1792). "M. Burnet,
chaplain of the national guard, presents himself at the bar of the
house with an English woman, named Lydia Kirkham, and three small
children, one of which is in her arms. M. Burnet announces that she is
his wife and that the child in her arms is the fruit of their
affection. After referring to the force of natural sentiments which he
could not resist, the petitioner thus continues: 'One day, I met one


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