The Modern Regime, Volume 1 [Napoleon] The Origins of Contemporary France, Volume 5
Hippolyte A. Taine

Part 8 out of 8

strong horses dragging their vehicles and alternately helping each
other, their horses hauling their carts out of ruts into which they
had got stuck . . . In many places, I was grieved to see carts and
wagons leaving the high-road and traversing, in spaces from 100 to 200
yards wide, the plowed ground, when each made his own road . . . . The
carters sometimes make only three or four leagues from morning to
night." - Hence, a dearth of provisions at Brest. "We are assured that
the people have long been on half-rations, or even quarter rations." -
And yet, " There is now in the river, at Nantes, from four to five
hundred boats loaded with grain; they have been there for months, and
their number increases daily. Their cargoes are deteriorating and
becoming damaged."

[5] Ibid., preface and summary, p.41 (on the dikes and works of
protection against inundations at Dol in Brittany, at Fréjus, in
Camargue, in Lower Rhine, in Nord, in Pas-de-Calais, at Ostende and
Blankenberg, at Rochefort, at La Rochelle, etc.). At Blankenberg, a
gale sufficed to carry away the dike and let in the sea. "The dread of
some disaster which would ruin a large portion of the departments of
the Lys and of the Escaut kept the inhabitants constantly in a state
of frightful anxiety."

[6] Hence the additional centimes to the tax on doors and windows, the
number of which indicates approximately the value of the rent. Hence
also the additional centimes to the personal tax, which is
proportionate to the rent, this being considered as the most exact
indication of domestic expenditure.

[7] Hence the communal "additional centimes" to the tax on business

[8] Hence the " additional centimes" to the land tax.

[9] Today, in 1999, we may in Denmark observe how the contemporary
oligarchy of non-violent Jacobins, have transformed the local
authorities into tools of the central government which through an all
permeating administration, has replaced the authority of the father
and the solidarity of the family with a communal care and

[10] Syndicates of this kind are instituted by the law of June 25,
1865, "between proprietors interested in the execution and maintenance
of public works: 1st, Protection against the sea, inundations,
torrents, and navigable or non-navigable rivers; 2d, Works in
deepening, repairing, and regulating canals and non-navigable water-
courses, and ditches for draining and irrigation; 3d, Works for the
drainage of marshes; 4th, Locks and other provisions necessary in
working salt marshes; 5th, Drainage of wet and unhealthy ground." -
"Proprietors interested in the execution of the above-mentioned works
may unite in an authorized syndical company, either on the demand of
one or of several among them, or on the initiative of the prefect." -
(Instead of authorized, we must read forced, and we then find that the
association may be imposed on all interested parties, on the demand of
one alone, or even without any one's demand.) - Like the Annecy
building, these syndicates enable one to reach the fundamental element
of local society. Cf. the law of September 26, 1807 (on the drainage
of marshes), and the law of April 21, 1810 (on mines and the two
owners of the mine, one of the surface and the other of the subsoil,
both likewise partners, and no less forcibly so through physical

[11] See "The Revolution," vol. I., passim. (Ed. Laff. I. pp. 315-

[12] Two kinds of police must be distinguished one from the other. The
first is general and belongs to the State: its business is to repress
and prevent, outside and inside, all aggression against private and
public property. The second is municipal, and belongs to the local
society: its business is to see to the proper use of the public roads,
and other matters, which, like water, air, and light, are enjoyed in
common; it undertakes, also, to forestall the risks and dangers of
imprudence, negligence, and filth, which any aggregation of men never
fails to engender. The provinces of these two police forces join and
penetrate each other at many points; hence, each of the two is the
auxiliary, and, if need be, the substitute of the other.

[13] Rocquain, "l'État de la France au 18 Brumaire," passim.

[14] Raynouard, "Histoire du droit municipal,"II., 356, and Dareste,
"Histoire de l'administration en France," I., 209, 222. (Creation of
the posts of municipal mayor and assessors by the king, in 1692, for a
money consideration.) "These offices were obtained by individuals,
along with hereditary title, now attached to communities, that is to
say, bought in by these," which put in their possession the right of
election. - The king frequently took back these offices which he had
sold, and sold them over again. In 1771, especially, he takes them
back, and, it seems, to keep them forever; but he always reserves the
right of alienating them for money. For example (Augustin Thierry,
"Documens sur l'histoire du tiers État," III., 319), an act of the
royal council, dated October 1, 1772, accepts 70,000 francs from the
town of Amiens for the repurchase of the installment of its
magistracies, and defining these magistracies, as well as the mode of
election according to which the future incumbents shall be appointed.
Provence frequently bought back its municipal liberties in the same
fashion, and, for a hundred years, expended for this purpose
12,500,000 livres. In 1772, the king once more established the
venality of the municipal offices: but, on the Parliament of Aix
remonstrating, in 1774, he returned their old rights and franchises to
the communities. - Cf. Guyot, "Répertoire de jurisprudence" (1784),
articles, Echevins, Capitouls, Conseillers.

[15] Thibaudeau, p.72 (words of the First Consul at a meeting of the
Council of State, Pluviôse 14, year X).

[16] Roederer, III., 439 (Note of Pluviôse 28, year VIII), ib., 443
"The pretended organic sénatus-consulte of Aug. 4, 1802, put an end to
notability by instituting electoral colleges. . . The First Consul was
really recognized as the grand-elector of the notability,"

[17] Any dictator or dictator's draftsman will, upon reading this
understand how easy it is to make a sham constitution and sham
electoral systems for a de facto dictatorship.(SR.)

[18] Thibaudeau, 72, 289 (words of the First Consul at a meeting of
the Council of State, Thermidor 16, year X).

[19] Ibid., p. 293. Sénatus-consulte of Thermidor 16, year X, and of
Fructidor 19, year X.

[20] Decree of January 17, 1806, article 40.

[21] Aucoc, " Conférence sur l'administration et le droit
administratif," §§ 101, 162, 165. In our legislative system the
council of the arrondissement has not become a civil personality, while
it has scarcely any other object than to apportion direct taxes among
the communes of the arrondissement

[22] Sénatus-consulte of Thermidor 16, year X.

[23] Decree of May 13, 1806, title III., article 32.

[24] Thibaudeau, ibid., 294 (Speech of the First Consul to the Council
of State, Thermidor 16, year X). "What has become of the men of the
Revolution? Once out of place, they have been entirely neglected: they
have nothing left; they have no support, no natural refuge. Look at
Barras, Reubell, etc." The electoral colleges are to furnish them
with the asylum they lack. "Now is the time to elect the largest
number of men of the Revolution; the longer we wait, the fewer there
will be. . . . With the exception of some of them, who have appeared
on a grand stage, . . . who have signed some treaty of peace . . . the
rest are all isolated and in obscurity. That is an important gap which
must be filled up . . . . It is for this reason that I have instituted
the Legion of Honor."

[25] Baron de Vitrolles, "Memoires," preface, XXI. Comte de Villèle,
"Memoires et Correspondance," I., 189 (August, 1807).

[26] Faber, "Notice sur l'intérieur de la France" (1807), p.25.

[27] Supporters of the Sovereign king or of the legitimate royal
dynasty. (SR.)

[28] The following document shows the sense and aim of the change,
which goes on after the year VIII, also the contrast between both
administrative staffs. (Archives Nationales, F 7, 3219; letter of M.
Alquier to the First Consul, Pluviose 18, year VIII.) M. Alquier, on
his way to Madrid, stops at Toulouse and sends a report to the
authorities of Haute-Garonne: "I was desirous of seeing the central
administration. I found there the ideas and language of 1793. Two
personages, Citizens Barreau and Desbarreaux, play an active part
then. Up to 1792, the first was a shoemaker, and owed his political
fortune simply to his audacity and revolutionary frenzy. The second,
Desbarreaux, was a comedian of Toulouse, his principal role being that
of valets. In the month of Prairial, year III, he was compelled to go
down on his knees on the stage and ask pardon for having made
incendiary speeches at some previous period in the decadal temple. The
public, not deeming his apology sufficient, drove him out of the
theater. He now combines with his function of departmental
administrator the post of cashier for the actors, which thus brings
him in 1200 francs . . . The municipal councilors are not charged with
lack of probity: but they are derived from too law a class and have
too little regard for themselves to obtain consideration from the
public. . . The commune of Toulouse is very impatient at being
governed by weak, ignorant men, formerly mixed in with the crowd, and
whom, probably, it is urgent to send back to it. . . . It is
remarkable that, in a city of such importance, which provides so large
a number of worthy citizens of our sort of capacity and education,
only men are selected for public duties who, with respect to
instruction, attainments, and breeding, offer no guarantee whatever to
the government and no inducement to win public consideration."

[29] "Correspondance de Napoléon," No.4474, note dictated to Lucien,
minister of the interior, year VIII.

[30] Cf. "Procés-verbaux des conseil généraux" of the year VIII, and
especially of the year IX. "Many of the cross roads have entirely
disappeared at the hands of the neighboring owners of the land. The
paved roads are so much booty." (for example, Vosges, p.429, year IX.)
"The roads of the department are in such a bad state that the
landowners alongside carry off the stones to build their houses and
wall in their inheritance. They encroach on the roads daily; the
ditches are cultivated by them the same as their own property."

[31] Laws of February 29- March 9, 1804 And February 28 - March 10,

[32] Laws of July 23, 1802, and of February 27, 1811.

[33] "Correspondance de Napoléon," No. 4474 (note dictated to Lucien).

[34] Decree of March 1, 1808: "Are counts by right, all ministers,
senators, councilors of state for life, presidents of the corps
Legislatif, and archbishops. Are barons by right, all bishops. May
become barons, after ten years of service, all first presidents and
attorney generals, the mayors of the thirty-six principal towns. (In
1811, instead of 36, there are 52 principal towns.) May also become
barons, the presidents and members of the department electoral
colleges who have attended three sessions of these colleges."

[35] Decree of Thermidor 4, year X.

[36] Law of Pluviôse 28, year VIII.

[37] "Procés-verbaux des conseils généraux" of the years VIII and X.
(The second series drawn up after those propounded by the minister
Chaptal, is much more complete and furnishes an historical document of
the highest importance.)

[38] " Statistiques des préfets (from the years IX to XIII, about 40

[39] Beugnot, "Mémoires," I., 363.

[40] Faber, ibid., 127. - Cf. Charlotte de Sohr, "Napoleon en 1811"
(details and anecdotes on Napoleon's journey through Belgium and

[41] Beugnot, I., 380, 384. "He struck the good Germans dumb with
admiration, unable to comprehend how it was that their interests had
become so familiar to him and with what superiority he treated them."

[42] Beugnot, ibid., I., 395. Everywhere, on the Emperor's passage
(1811), the impression experienced was a kind of shock as at the
sight of a wonderful apparition.

[43] Thiers, " Histoire du Consulat et l'Empire," XVI., 246 (January,
1813). "A word to the prefect, who transmitted this to one of the
municipal councilors of his town, was enough to insure an offer from
some large town and have this imitated throughout the empire. Napoleon
had an idea that he could get towns and cantons to offer him troops of
horse, armed and equipped." - In fact, this offer was voted with
shouts by the Paris municipal council and, through contagion, in the
provinces. As to voting this freely it suffices to remark how the
annexed towns voted, which, six months later, are to rebel. Their
offers are not the least. For instance, Amsterdam offers 100 horsemen,
Hamburg 100, Rotterdam 50, the Hague 40, Leyden 24, Utrecht 20,
Dusseldorf 12. - The horsemen furnished are men enlisted for money;
16,000 are obtained, and the sum voted suffices to purchase
additionally 22,000 horses and 22,000 equipments. - To obtain this
money, the prefect himself apportions the requisite sum among those in
his department who pay the most taxes, at the rate of from 6oo to 1000
francs per head. On these arbitrary requisitions and a great many
others, either in money or in produce, and on the sentiments of the
farmers and landed proprietors in the South, especially after 1813,
cf. the " Mémoires de M. Villèle," vol. I., passim.

[44] Comte Joseph d'Estourmel, "Souvenirs de France et d'Italie, 240.
The general council of Rouen was the first to suggest the vote for
guards of honor. Assembled spontaneously (meetings are always
spontaneous), its members pass an enthusiastic address. "The example
was found to be excellent; the address was published in the Moniteur,
and sent to all the prefects . . . . The councils were obliged to
meet, which generously disposed of other people's children, and very
worthy persons, myself first of all, thought that they might join in
this shameful purpose, to such an extent had imperial fanaticism
fascinated them and perverted consciences!"

[45] Archives nationales (state of accounts of the prefects and
reports of the general police commissioners, F7, 5014 and following
records. - Reports of senators on their senatoreries, AF, IV., 1051,
and following records). - These papers disclose at different dates the
state of minds and of things in the provinces. Of all these reports,
that of Roederer on the senatorerie of Caen is the most instructive,
and gives the most details on the three departments composing it.
(Printed in his "Œuvres complètes," vol. III.)

[46] The reader will find in the Archives nationales, the fullest and
most precise information concerning local administration and the
sentiments of the different classes of society, in the correspondence
of the prefects of the first Restoration, of the hundred days, and of
the second Restoration from 1814 to 1823 (Cf. especially those of
Haute-Garonne, the Rhine, Côte d'Or, Ain, Loiret, Indre-et-Loire,
Indre, Loire-Inférieure and Aisne.) The letters of several prefects,
M. de Chabroe, M. de Tocqueville, M. de Remusat, M. de Barante, are
often worth publishing; occasionally, the minister of the interior has
noted with a pencil in the margin, " To be shown to the King."

[47] M. de Villèle, ibid., I., 248.

[48] Rocquam, "l'État de la France au 18 Brumaire," reports of the
councilors of state sent on missions, p.40.

[49] De Feville, "La France economique," 248 and 249.

[50] Pelet de la Lozère, "Opinions de Napoléon au conseil d'Etat," P.
277 (Session of March 15, 1806). - Decree of March 16, 1806, and of
September 15, 1807.

[51] Ibid., 276. "To those who objected that a tax could only be made
according to law, Napoleon replied that it was not a tax, since there
were no other taxes than those which the law established, and that
this one (the extra assessment of a quarter of the produce of timber)
was established by decree. It is only a master, and an absolute
master, who could reason in this way."

[52] Law of March 20, 1813. (Woods, meadows, and pasture-grounds used
by the population in common are excepted, also buildings devoted to
public use, promenades, and public gardens.) - The law takes rural
possessions, houses and factories, rented and producing an income.
Thiers, XVI., 279. The five percents at this time were worth 75
francs, and 138 millions of these gave a revenue of 9 millions, about
the annual income derived by the communes from their confiscated real

[53] Aucoc, ibid., §§ 55 and 135.

CHAPTER II. Local society since 1830.

I. Introduction of Universal suffrage.

Local society since 1830. - Introduction of a new internal motor. -
Subordinate to the external motor. - Advantageous under the system of
universal suffrage.

Neither lips nor heart are capable of pronouncing the above
invigorating and conclusive phrase after a silence of 30 years. That
local society ought to be a private association, does not interest
those who are concerned, while the legislator does not permit it.
Indeed, after the year VIII (1799), the State (Napoleon) introduces
into the machine the new motivation described above. After the
revolution of 1830,[1] the municipal and general councilors become
elective and are appointed by a limited suffrage; after the revolution
of 1848, they are elected by universal suffrage.[2] After the
revolution of 1870,[3] each municipal council elects its own mayor,
while the council-general, whose powers are enlarged, leaves in its
place, during its vacations, a standing committee who arrange with,
and govern along with, the prefect. Here, in local society, is a
superadded internal motor, working from below, whilst the first one is
external and works from above; from now on, both are to work together
and in accord. - But, in reality, the second (the council-general)
remains subordinate; moreover, it does not suit the machine[4] and the
machine does not suit it; it is only a superfluity, an inconvenient
and cumbersome intruder, nearly always useless, and often mischievous.
Its influence is feeble and of little effect; too many brakes are
attached to it; its force diminishes through the complexity of its
numerous wheels; it fails in giving action; it cannot but little more
than impede or moderate other impulses, those of the external motor,
sometimes as it should, and sometimes the contrary. Most frequently,
even nowadays (1889), it is of no efficiency whatever. Three-quarters
of the municipal councils, for three-fourths of their business, hold
sessions only to give signatures. Their pretended deliberations are
simply a parade formality; the incentive and direction continue to
come from without, and from above; under the third Republic, as under
the Restoration and the first Empire, it is always the central State
which governs the local society; amid all the wrangling and disputes,
in spite of passing conflicts it is, and remains, the initiator,
mover, leader, controller, accountant, and executor of every
undertaking, the preponderating power in the department as well as in
the commune, and with what deplorable results we all know. - There is
still another and more serious result. Nowadays, its interference is
an advantage, for should it renounce its preponderance this would pass
over to the other power which, since this has become vested in a
numerical majority, is mere blind and brutal force; abandoned to
itself and without any counter-weight, its ascendancy would be
disastrous, we would see reappearing along with the blunders of 1789,
the outrages, usurpations, and distress of 1790, 1791 and 1792.[5] -
In any event, there is this advantage in despotic centralization, that
it still preserves us from democratic autonomy. In the present state
of institutions and minds, the former system, objectionable as it may
be, is our last retreat against the greater evil of the latter.

II. Universal suffrage.

Application of universal suffrage to local society. - Two assessments
for the expenses of local society. - The fixed amount of one should in
equity be equal to the average sum of the other. - Practically, the
sum of one is kept too low. - How the new régime provides for local
expenditure. - The "additional centimes." - How the small taxpayer is
relieved in town and country. - His quota in local expenditure reduced
to the minimum. - His quota of local benefits remains intact. - Hence
the large or average taxpayer bears, beside his own burden, that of
the relieved small taxpayer. - Number of those relieved. - The extra
burden of the large and average taxpayer is alms-giving. - The relief
of the small taxpayer is a levy of alms.

In effect, direct universal suffrage, counted by heads, is in local
society a discordant element, a monstrous system, to which it is
adverse. Constituted as this is, not by human judgment, but by the
preponderance of numbers and their force, its mechanism is determined
beforehand; it excludes certain wheels and connections.[6] That is why
the legislator must write laws which reflect the nature of our
existence, or, at least, translate this as closely as he can, without
any gross contradiction. Nature herself presents him with ready-made
statutes.[7] His business is to read these properly; he has already
transcribed the apportionment of burdens; he can now transcribe the
apportionment of rights.

So, we have seen, local society renders two distinct services[8],
which, that the expenses of both may be met, require two distinct
assessments, one personal and the other real, one levied on everybody
and of which the amount is alike for all, and the other levied only on
those whose amount is based on what he spends, on the importance of
his business, and on the income from his real estate. - In strict
equity, the amount of the former should be equal to the average amount
of the latter; in effect, as has been shown, the services defrayed by
the former are as many, as diverse, and as precious, still more vital,
and not less costly than those of which the latter is the price. Of
the two interests which they represent, each, did it stand alone,
would be obliged to secure the same services, to take upon itself the
whole of the work; neither would obtain more in the dividend, and each
would have to pay the whole of the expense. Accordingly, each gains as
much as the other in the physical solidarity which binds them
together. Hence, in the legal bond which unites them they enter into
it on an equal footing, on condition that each is burdened or relived
as much as the other, on condition that if the latter assumes one-half
of the expense the former shall assume the other half, on condition
that if the latter quota on each one hundred francs expended against
calamities and for public roads is 50 francs, the former quota shall
also be 50 francs. - Practically, however, this is impossible. Three
times out of four the former levy with this apportionment would not be
returned; through prudence as well as humanity, the legislator is
bound not to overburden the poor. Recently, in organizing the general
tax and the revenue of the State, he has looked out for them; now, in
organizing the local tax and the revenue of the department or of the
commune, he looks out for them to a still greater extent.

In the new financial scheme, so many centimes, added to each franc of
direct tax, form the principal resource of the department and commune,
and it is through this extra charge that each taxpayer pays his quota
of local expenditure. Now, there is no surcharge on the personal tax,
no additional centimes. Under this heading, the laborer without any
property or income, the workman who lives in lodgings, on his wages,
and from day to day, contributes nothing to the expenses of his
commune or department. In vain do "additional centimes" pour down on
other branches of direct taxation; they are not grafted on this one,
and do not suck away the substance of the poor.[9] - There is the
same regard for the half poor, in relation to the artisan who
furnishes his own room, but who lodges in an upper story, and in
relation to the peasant whose hovel or cottage has but one door and
one window.[10] Their rate of taxation on doors and windows is very
low, purposely reduced, kept below one franc a year, while the rate of
their personal tax is scarcely higher. "Additional centimes" may be
imposed on so small a principal and be multiplied in vain, never will
they reach more than an insignificant amount.-Not only are the
destitute relieved of both principal and "additional centimes," the
verified poor, those who are registered and are helped, or should be,
that is to say 2,470,000 persons;[11] but, again, others, by hundreds
of thousands, whom the municipal council judges incapable of paying. -
Even when people possess but a small piece of land, they are also
relieved of the land tax and of the numerous additional centimes which
increase it. Such is the case with those who are infirm or burdened
with a family. The exchequer, so as not to convert them into beggars
and vagabonds, avoids expropriation, selling out their concrete hovel,
vegetable garden, and small field of potatoes or cabbages; it gives
them receipts gratis, or, at least, refrains from prosecuting
them.[12] In this way the poor peasant, although a land-owner, again
exempts himself, or is exempted from his local indebtedness. In truth,
he pays nothing, or nearly nothing, otherwise than by prestations
(payments) in money or in kind; that is to say, by three days' work on
the district roads, which, if he pays in kind, are not worth more than
50 sous.[13] Add to this his portion, very small and often null, of
the additional centimes on the tax on doors and windows, on the
personal tax, and on the tax on real estate, in all 4 or 5 francs a
year. Such is the amount by which the poor or half-poor taxpayer in
the villages liberates himself toward his department and commune. -In
the towns, he apparently pays more, owing to the octroi. But, at
first, there are only 1525 communes out of 36,000 in which the
octroi[14] has been established; while in the beginning, under the
Directory and Consulate, it was revived only on his account, for his
benefit, in behalf of public charity, to defray the expenses of
asylums and hospitals ruined by revolutionary confiscation. It was
then "an octroi for charity," in fact as well as in name, like the
surplus tax on theater seats and tickets, established at the same time
and for the same purpose; it still to-day preserves the stamp of its
first institution. Bread, the indispensable provision for the poor, is
not subjected to the octroi nor the materials for making it, either
grain or flour, nor milk, fruits, vegetables, or codfish, while there
is only a light tax on butcher's meat. Even on beverages, where the
octroi is heavier, it remains, like all indirect taxes, nearly
proportional and semi-optional. In effect, it is simply an increase of
the tax on beverages, so many additional centimes per franc on the sum
of indirect taxation, as warrantable as the impost itself, as
tolerable, and for the same motives.[15] For the greater the sobriety
of the taxpayer, the less is he affected by this tax. At Paris, where
the increase is excessive, and adds to the 6 centimes paid to the
state, on each quart of wine, 12 centimes paid to the city; if he
drinks but one quart a day, he pays, under this heading, into the city
treasury 43 francs 80 centimes per annum: but, as compensation for
this, he is free of personal tax of 11 3/4 %, which this adds to the
amount of each rental of the 11 3/4 %, whereby this would have added
to his rent, and therefore 47 francs per annum as a rent of 400
francs. Thus what he has paid with one hand he gets back with the
other. Now, at Paris, all rentals under 400 francs[16] are thus free
of any personal tax; all rentals between 400 and 1000 francs are more
or less free, and, in the other octroi towns, an analogous discharge
reimburses to the small taxpayers a portion more or less great of the
sum they pay to the octroi. - Accordingly, in the towns as in the
country, they are favored at one time through fiscal relief and at
another through administrative favor, now through compulsory deduction
and now through total or partial reimbursement. Always, and very
wisely, the legislator apportions the burden according to the strength
of the shoulders; he relieves them as much as he can, at first, of the
general tax, and next, which is still better, of the local tax. Hence,
in local expenditure, their quota diminishes out of all proportion and
is reduced to the minimum. Nevertheless, their quota of local benefit
remains full and entire; at this insignificant price they enjoy the
public highways and profit by all the precautions taken against
physical ills; each profits by this personally, equally with any
millionaire. Each personally receives as much in the great dividend of
security, health, and convenience, in the fruit of the vast works of
utility and enjoyment due to improved communications, which preserve
health, assist traffic, and beautify the locality, and without which,
in town as well as in the country, life would be impossible or

But these works which cost so much, these defensive operations and
apparatus against inundations, fires, epidemics, and contagions, these
500,000 kilometers of district and department roads, these dikes,
quays, bridges, public gardens, and promenades, this paving, drainage,
sweeping and lighting, these aqueducts and supplies of drinkable
water, all this is paid for by somebody, and, since it is not done by
the small taxpayer, it is the large or average taxpayer who pays for
it. The latter then, bears, besides his obligatory weight, a
gratuitous surplus burden, consisting of the weight of which the other
is relieved.

Evidently the greater the number of the relieved, the heavier will be
this overweight, and the relieved count by millions. Two millions and
a half of declared poor[17] are relieved of any direct tax, and,
therefore, of all the centimes which have just increased the burden.
Out of 8 millions of real-estate owners,[18] 3 millions, considered as
insolvent, pay neither the real estate tax nor the centimes which it
comprises. In the octroi towns, it is not the minority but the
majority of the inhabitants who are relieved in the way just described
; in Paris,[19] out of 685,000 rentals, 625,000, in other terms twelve
out of thirteen lodgings, are exempt, wholly or in part, from the
personal tax, the principal and "additional centimes." On each franc
of this principal there are 96 of these superadded centimes for the
benefit of the town and department and because the department and the
town expend a good deal, and because receipts are essential for the
settlement of these accounts, this or that sum is noted beforehand in
every chapter of receipts, and the main thing now is to have this paid
in, and it must be paid by somebody; it matters little whether the
peasants are few or numerous; if among thirteen taxable persons there
is only one that pays, so much the worse for him, for he must pay for
himself and the other twelve. Such is the case in Paris, which
accounts for the "additional centimes" here being so numerous,[20]
owing to there being less than 60,000 rentals for the acquittance of
the entire tax, and, besides paying their own debt, they must
discharge the indebtedness of 625,000 other rentals, the tax on which
is reduced or null.- Frequently, before the Revolution, some rich
convent or philanthropic seignior would pay the taxes of his poor
neighbors out of his own pocket; willingly or not, 60,000 Parisians,
more or less well lodged, now hand over the same sum, bestow the same
charity, on 625,000 thousand badly or only tolerably lodged Parisians;
among these 60,000 benefactors whom the exchequer obliges to be
benevolent, 34,800 who pay from 1000 to 3000 francs rent, bestow,
under this heading, a pretty large sum for charitable purposes, while
14,800, who pay more than 3000 francs rent, pay a very large one.
Other branches of direct taxation, in the country as well as in the
city, present the same spectacle: it is always the rich or the well-
to-do taxpayers who, through their over-tax, more or less completely
relieve the poor or straitened taxpayers; it is always the owners of
large or small properties, those who pay heavy or average licenses,
the occupants of lodgings with more than five openings,[21] and whose
locative value surpasses 1000 francs, who in local expenditure pay
besides their own dues the dues of others and, through their
additional centimes, almost entirely defray the expenses of the
department and commune.--This is nearly always the case in a local
society, except when it chances to possess an abundant income, arising
from productive real estate, and is able to provide for its wants
without taxing its members; apart from this rare exception, it is
forced to tax some in order to relieve others. In other words, the
same as with other enterprises, it manufactures and sells its product
but, just the reverse of other enterprises, it sells the product, an
equal quantity of the same product, that is to say, equal protection
against the same calamities, and the equal enjoyment of the same
public highway, at unequal prices, very dear to a few, moderately dear
to many, at cost price to a large number, and with a discount to the
mass; to this last class of consumers the discount goes on increasing
like the emptiness of their purse; to the last of all, extremely
numerous, the goods are delivered almost gratis, or even for nothing.

But to this inequality of prices may correspond the inequality of
rights, and compensation will come, the balance may be restored,
distributive justice may be applied, if, in the government of the
enterprise, the parts assigned are not equal, if each member sees his
portion of influence growing or diminishing along with the weight of
his charge, if the regulations, graduating authority according to the
scale of the levies, assigns few votes to those who pay the lowest
quotas of expense and receive alms, and many votes to those who give
alms and pay the largest quotas of the expenditure.

III. Equity in taxation.

Possible compensation in the other side of the scale. - What the
distribution of rights should be according to the principle of
distributive justice. - In every association of stock-owners. - In
local society confined to its natural object. - In local society
charged with supplementary functions. - The local statue in England
and Prussia. - The exchange equitable when burdens are compensated by

Such is the rule in every association of interests, even in stock
companies in which the distribution of charges allows of no favor or
disfavor to any associate. It must be noted that, in these companies,
co-operation is not compulsory, but voluntary; the associates are not,
as in the local society, conscripts enlisted under the constraint of
physical solidarity, but subscribers bound together under the
impulsion of a deliberate preference, each remaining in its of his own
free will just as he entered it; if he wishes to leave it he has only
to sell his stock; the fact of his keeping this confirms his
subscription, and, thus holding on to it, he daily subscribes anew to
the statute. Here, then, is a perfectly free association; its is
accordingly perfectly equitable, and its statute serves as a model for

Now this statute always makes a distinction between the small and the
large stockholders; it always attributes a greater share of authority
and influence to those who share most largely in the risks and
expenses; in principle, the number of votes in confers on each
associate is proportionate to the number of shares of which he is the
owner or bearer. - All the stronger is the reason why this principle
should be embodied in the statutes of a society which, like the local
community, diminishes the burden of the small taxpayer through its
reductions, and increases by its extra taxation the burden of the
large or average taxpayer; when the appointment of managers is handed
over to universal suffrage, counted by heads, the large and average
taxpayers are defrauded of their dues and deprived of their rights,
more so by far and more deeply wronged than the bearer or owner of a
thousand shares in an omnibus or gas company if, on voting at a
meeting of stockholders, his vote did not count for more than that of
the owner or bearer of a single share. -

How is it then when a local society adds to its natural and
unavoidable purpose an optional and supplementary purpose;

* when, increasing its load, it undertakes to defray the cost of
public charity and of primary education;

* when, to support this additional cost, it multiplies the additional

* when the large or average taxpayer pays alone, or nearly alone, for
this benevolent work by which he does not benefit;

* when the small taxpayer pays nothing, or next to nothing, to this
benevolent work by which he does benefit;

* when, in voting for the expense thus apportioned, each taxpayer,
whatever the amount of his contribution, has one vote and only one?

In this case, powers, benefits, reductions, and exemptions, all the
advantages are on one side, that of the poor and half-poor forming the
majority and who if not restrained from above, will persistently abuse
their numerical force to augment their advantages, at the increasing
expense of the rich or well-do-do minority. In the future, in the
local society, the average or large taxpayer is no longer an associate
but a victim; were he free to choose he would not enter into it; he
would like to go away and establish himself elsewhere; but were he to
enter others, near or remote, his condition would be no better. He
remains, accordingly, where he is, physically present, but absent in
feeling; he takes no part in deliberate meetings; his zeal has died
out; he withholds from public affairs that surplus of vigilant
attention, that spontaneous and ready collaboration which he would
have contributed gratis; he lets matters go along without him, just as
it happens; he remains there just what he is, a workable, taxable
individual in capricious hands, in short, a passive subject who gives
and has become resigned. - For this reason, in countries where an
encroaching democracy has not yet abolished or perverted the notion of
equity, the local statute applies the fundamental rule of an equitable
exchange; it lays down the principle that

he who pays commands, and in proportion to the sum he pays.[22]

In England, a surplus of votes is awarded to those most heavily taxed,
even six votes to one voter; in Prussia, local taxation is divided
into thirds, and, accordingly, the taxpayers into three groups, the
first one composed of heavy taxpayers, few in number, and who pay the
first third, the second composed of average taxpayers, average in
number, and who pay the second third, and the third composed of the
great number of small taxpayers, who pay the last third.[23] To each
of these groups is assigned the same number of suffrages in the
commune election, or the same number of representatives in the commune
representation. Through this approximate balance of legal burdens and
of legal rights, the two sides of the scales are nearly level, the
level which distributive justice demands, and the level which the
state, special interpreter, sole arbiter and universal minister of
distributive justice, should establish when, in the local community,
it imposes, rectifies, or maintains the articles in accordance with
which it derives its income and governs.

IV. On unlimited universal suffrage.

How unlimited universal suffrage found its way into local society. -
Object and mode of the French legislator.

If the government, in France, does just the opposite, it is at the
height of a violent and sudden revolution, forced by the party in
power and by popular prejudice, through deductive reasoning, and
through contagion. According to revolutionary and French usage, the
legislator was bound to institute uniformity and to make things
symmetrical; having placed universal suffrage in political society, he
was likewise determined to place it in local society. He had been
ordered to apply an abstract principle, that is to say, to legislate
according to a summary, superficial, and verbal notion which,
purposely curtailed and simplified to excess, did not correspond with
its aim. He obeyed and did nothing more; he made no effort outside of
his instructions. He did not propose to himself to restore local
society to its members, to revive it, to make it a living body,
capable of spontaneous, co-ordinate, voluntary action, and, to this
end, provided with indispensable organs. He did not even take the
trouble to imagine, how it really is, I mean by this, complex and
diverse and inversely to legislators before 1789, and adversely to
legislators before and after 1789 outside of France, against all the
teachings of experience, against the evidence of nature, he refused to
recognize the fact that, in France, mankind are of two species, the
people of the towns and the people of the country, and that,
therefore, there are two types of local society, the urban commune and
the rural commune. He was not disposed to take this capital difference
into consideration; he issued decrees for the Frenchman in general,
for the citizen in himself, for fictive men, so reduced that the
statute which suits them can nowhere suit the actual and complete man.
At one stroke, the legislative shears cut out of the same stuff,
according to the same pattern, thirty-six thousand examples of the
same coat, one coat indifferently for every commune, whatever its
shape, a coat too small for the city and too large for the village,
disproportionate in both cases, and useless beforehand, because it
could not fit very large bodies, nor very small ones. Nevertheless,
once dispatched from Paris, people had to put the coat on and wear it;
it must answer for good or for ill, each donning his own for lack of
another better adjusted; hence the strangest attitudes for each, and,
in the long run, a combination of consequences which neither governors
nor the governed had foreseen.

V. Rural or urban communes.

No distinction between the rural and the urban commune. - Effects of
the law on the rural commune. - Disproportion between the intelligence
of its elected representatives and the work imposed upon them. - The
mayor and the municipal council. - Lack of qualified members. - The
secretary of the mayoralty. - The chief or under chief of the
prefectorial bureau.

Let us consider these results in turn in the small and in the great
communes; clear enough and distinct at the two extremities of the
scale, they blend into each other at intermediate degrees, because
here they combine together, but in different proportions, according as
the commune, higher or lower in the scale, comes nearer to the village
or to the city. - On this territory, too, subdivided since 1789, and,
so to say, crumbled to pieces by the Constituent Assembly, the small
communes are enormous in number; among the 36,000, more than 27,000
have less than 1000 inhabitants, and of these, more than 16,000 have
less than 500 inhabitants.[24] Whoever has traveled over France, or
lived in this country, sees at once what sort of men compose such
purely rural groups; he has only to recall physiognomies and attitudes
to know to what extent in these rude brains, rendered torpid by the
routine of manual labor and oppressed by the cares of daily life, how
narrow and obstructed are the inlets to the mind; how limited is their
information in the way of facts; how, in the way of ideas, the
acquisition of them is slow; what hereditary distrust separates the
illiterate mass from the lettered class; what an almost insurmountable
wall the difference of education, of habits, and of manners interposes
in France between the blouse and the dress-coat; why, if each commune
contains a few cultivated individuals and a few notable proprietors,
universal suffrage sets them aside, or at least does not seek them out
for the municipal council or the mayoralty. - Before 1830, when the
prefect appointed the municipal councilors and the mayor, these were
always on hand; under the monarchy of July and a limited suffrage,
they were still on hand, at least for the most part; under the second
Empire, whatever the elected municipal council might be, the mayor,
who was appointed by the prefect, and even outside of this council,
might be one of the least ignorant and least stupid even in the
commune. At the present day (1889), it is only accidentally and by
chance that a noble or bourgeois, in a few provinces and in certain
communes, may become mayor or municipal councilor; it is, however,
essential that he should be born on the soil, long established there,
resident and popular. Everywhere else the numerical majority, being
sovereign, tends to select its candidates from among the average
people: in the village, he is a man of average rural intelligence,
and, mostly, in the village a municipal council which, as narrow-
minded as its electors, elects a mayor equally as narrow-minded as
itself Such are, from now on, the representatives and directors of
communal interests; except when they themselves are affected by
personal interests to which they are sensitive, their inertia is only
equaled by their incapacity[25]

Four times a year a bundle of elaborately drawn papers, prepared by
the prefecture, are submitted to these innately blind paralytics,
large sheets divided into columns from top to bottom, with tabular
headings from right to left, and covered with printed texts and
figures in writing - details of receipts and expenses, general
centimes, special centimes, obligatory centimes, optional centimes,
ordinary centimes, extra centimes, with their sources and employment;
preliminary budget, final budget, corrected budget, along with legal
references, regulations, and decisions bearing on each article. In
short, a methodical table as specific as possible and highly
instructive to a jurist or accountant, but perfect jargon to peasants,
most of whom can scarcely write their name and who, on Sundays, are
seen standing before the advertisement board[26] trying to spell out
the Journal Officiel, whose abstract phrases, beyond their reach, pass
over their heads in aerial and transient flight, like some confused
rustling of vague and unknown forms. To guide them in political life,
much more difficult than in private life, they require a similar guide
to the one they take in the difficult matters of their individual
life, a legal or business adviser, one that is qualified and
competent, able to understand the prefecture documents, sitting
alongside of them to explain their budget, rights and limits of their
rights, the financial resources, legal expedients, and consequences of
a law; one who can arrange their debates, make up their accounts,
watch daily files of bills, attend to their business at the county
town, throughout the entire series of legal formalities and attendance
on the bureaus, - in short, some trusty person, familiar with
technicalities, who they might choose to select. - Such a person was
found in Savoy, before the annexation to France, a notary or lawyer
who, practicing in the neighborhood or at the principal town, and with
five or six communes for clients, visited them in turn, helped them
with his knowledge and intelligence, attended their meetings and,
besides, served them as scribe, like the present secretary of the
mayoralty, for about the same pay, amounting in all to about the same
total of fees or salaries.[27] - At the present time, there is nobody
in the municipal council to advise and give information to its
members; the schoolmaster is their secretary, and he cannot be, and
should not be, other than a scribe. He reads in a monotonous tone of
voice the long financial enigma which French public book-keeping, too
perfect, offers to their divination, and which nobody, save one who is
educated to it, can clearly comprehend until after weeks of study.
They listen all agog. Some, adjusting their spectacles, try to pick
out among so many articles the one they want, the amount of taxes they
have to pay. The sum is too large, the assessments are excessive; it
is important that the number of additional centimes should be reduced,
and therefore that less money should be expended. Hence, if there is
any special item of expense which can be got rid of by a refusal, they
set it aside by voting No, until some new law or decree from above
obliges them to say Yes. But, as things go, nearly all the expenses
designated on the paper are obligatory; willingly or not, these must
be met, and there is no way to pay them outside of the additional
centimes; however numerous these are, vote them they must and sanction
the centimes inscribed. They accordingly affix their signatures, not
with trust but with mistrust, with resignation, and out of pure
necessity. Abandoned to their natural ignorance, the twenty-seven
thousand petty municipal councilors of the country are no more
passive, more inert, more constrained than ever; deprived of the light
which, formerly, the choice of the prefect or a restricted suffrage
could still throw into the darkness around them, there remains to them
only one safe tutor or conductor; and this final guide is the official
of the bureaus, especially this or that old, permanent chief, or under
clerk, who is perfectly familiar with his files of papers. With about
four hundred municipal councils to lead, one may imagine what he will
do with them: nothing except to drive them like a flock of sheep into
a pen of printed regulations, or urge them on mechanically, in lots,
according to his instructions, he himself being as automatic and as
much in a rut as they are.

VI. The larger Communes.

Effects of the law on the urban commune. - Disproportion between the
administrative capacity of its elected representatives and the work
imposed on them. - Lack of a special and permanent manager. - The
municipal council and the mayor. - The general council and the
intermediary committee. - The prefect. - His dominant rule. - His
obligatory concessions. - His principal aim. - Bargains between the
central authority and the local Jacobins. - Effect on this on local
government, on the officials, and in local finances.

Let us now look at the other side of the scale, on the side of the
large urban communes, of which there are 223, with above 10,000
inhabitants, 90 of these above 20,000 inhabitants, 9 of the latter
above 100,000 inhabitants, and Paris, which has 2,300,000.[28] We see
at the first glance cast upon an average specimen of these human
anthills, a town containing from 40,000 to 50,000 souls, how vast and
complex the collective undertaking becomes, how many principal and
accessory services the communal society must co-ordinate and unite
together in order to secure to its members the advantages of public
roads and insure their protection against spreading calamities:

* Maintenance and repairs of these roads, the straightening, laying-
out, paving, and drainage, the constructions and expense for sewers,
quays, and rivers, and often for a commercial harbor;

* the negotiations and arrangements with departments and with the
state for this or that harbor, canal, dike, or insane asylum; the
contracts with cab, omnibus, and tramway companies and with telephone
and house-lighting companies; the street-lighting, artesian wells and

* the city police, supervision and rules for using public highways,
and orders and agents for preventing men from injuring each other when
collected together in large assemblies in the streets, in the markets,
at the theater, in any public place, whether coffee-houses or taverns;

* the firemen and machinery for conflagrations; the sanitary measures
against contagion, and precautions, long beforehand to insure hygiene
during epidemics;

* and, as extra burdens and abuses, the establishment, direction and
support of primary schools, colleges, public lectures, libraries,
theaters, hospitals, and other institutions which should be supported
and governed by different associations; at the very least, the
appropriations to these establishments and therefore a more or less
legitimate and more or less imperative intervention in their internal

Such are the great undertakings which form a whole, which bear alike
on the present, past, and future budget of the commune, and which, as
so many distinct branches of every considerable enterprise, require,
for proper execution, to have their continuity and connection always
present in the thoughtful and directing mind which has them in
charge.[29] Experience shows that, in the great industrial or
financial companies, in the Bank of France, in the Crédit Lyonnais,
and in the insurance, navigation, and railroad companies, the best way
to accomplish this end is a permanent manager or director, always
present, engaged or accepted by the administrative board on understood
conditions, a special, tried man who, sure of his place for a long
period, and with a reputation to maintain, gives his whole time,
faculties, and zeal to the work, and who, alone, possessing at every
moment a coherent and detailed conception of the entire undertaking,
can alone give it the proper stimulus, and bring to bear the most
economical and the most perfect practical improvements. Such is also
the municipal administration in the Prussian towns on the Rhine. Then,
in Bonn, for instance,[30] the municipal council, elected by the
inhabitants "goes in quest" of some eminent specialist whose ability
is well known. It must be noted that he is taken wherever he can be
found, outside the city, in some remote province; they bargain with
him, the same as with some famous musician, for the management of a
series of concerts. Under the title of burgomaster, with a salary of
10,000 francs per annum, he becomes for twelve years the director of
all municipal services, leader of the civic orchestra, solely
entrusted with executive power, wielding the magisterial baton which
the various instruments obey, many of these being salaried
functionaries and others benevolent amateurs,[31] all in harmony and
through him, because they know that he is watchful, competent, and top
quality, constantly occupied with am overall view, responsible, and in
his own interest, as a point of honor, wholly devoted to his work
which is likewise their work, that is to say, to the complete success
of the concert.

Nothing in a French town corresponds to this admirable type of a
municipal institution. Here, also, and to a much greater extent in the
village, the effect of universal suffrage has been to discredit the
true notables and to incite the abdication or insure the exclusion of
men who, by their education, the large proportion of the taxes they
pay, and still greater influence or production on labor and on
business, are social authorities, and who should become legal
authorities. In every country where conditions are unequal, the
preponderance of a numerical majority necessarily ends in the nearly
general abstention or almost certain defeat of the candidates most
deserving of election. But here the case is different; the elected,
being towns-people (citadins) and not rural, are not of the species as
in the village. They read a daily newspaper, and believe that they
understand not only local matters but all subjects of national and
general importance, that is to say, high level economy, philosophy and
law; somewhat resembling the schoolmaster who, being familiar with the
rules of arithmetic, thinks that he can teach the differential
calculus, and the theory of functions. At any rate, they talk loud and
argue on every subject with confidence, according to Jacobin
traditions, being, indeed, so many budding Jacobins. They are the
heirs and successors of the old sectarians, issuing from the same
stock and of the same stamp, a few in good faith, but mainly narrow-
minded, excited, and bewildered by the smoke of the glittering
generalities they utter. Most of them are mere politicians,
charlatans, and intriguers, third-class lawyers and doctors, literary
failures, semi-educated stump-speakers, bar-room, club, or clique
orators, and vulgar climbers. Left behind in private careers, in which
one is closely watched and accepted for what he is worth, they launch
out on a public career because, in this business, popular suffrage at
once ignorant, indifferent, is a badly informed, prejudiced and
passionate judge and prefers a moralist of easy conscience, instead of
demanding unsullied integrity and proven competency. Nothing more is
demanded from candidates but witty speech-making, assertiveness and
showing off in public, gross flattery, a display of enthusiasm and
promises to place the power about to be conferred on them by the
people in the hands of those who will serve its antipathies and
prejudices. Thus introduced into the municipal council, they
constitute its majority and appoint a mayor who is their figurehead or
creature, now the bold leader and again the docile instrument of their
spite, their favors, and their headlong action, of their blunders and
presumption, and of their meddlesome disposition and encroachments. -
In the department, the council general, also elected by universal
suffrage, also bears the marks of its origin; its quality, without
falling so low, still descends in a certain degree, and through
changes which keep on increasing: politicians install themselves there
and make use of their place as a stepping-stone to mount higher; it
also, with larger powers and prolonged during its vacations by its
committee, is tempted to regard itself as the legitimate sovereign of
the extensive and scattered community which it represents. - Thus
recruited and composed, enlarged and deteriorated, the local
authorities become difficult to manage, and from now on, to carry on
the administration, the prefect must come to some understanding with

VII. Local society in 1880.

Present state of local society. - Considered as an organism, it is
stillborn. - Considered as a mechanism, it gets out of order. - Two
successive and false conceptions of local government. - In theory, one
excludes the other. - Practically, their union ends in the actual
system. - Powers of the prefect. - Restrictions on these through
subsequent changes. - Give and take. - Bargaining. - Supported by the
government and cost to the State.

Before 1870, when he appointed the mayors and when the council general
held its sessions only fifteen days in the year, the prefect was
almost omnipotent; still, at the present day, (1889), "his powers are
immense,"[32] and his power remains preponderant. He has the right to
suspend the municipal council and the mayor, and to propose their
dismissal to the head of the state. Without resorting to this
extremity, he holds them with a strong hand, and always uplifted over
the commune, for he can veto the acts of the municipal police and of
the road committee, annul the regulations of the mayor, and, through a
skillful use of his prerogative, impose his own. He holds in hand,
removes, appoints or helps appoint, not alone the clerks in his
office, but likewise every kind and degree of clerk who, outside his
office, serves the commune or department,[33] from the archivist,
keeper of the museum, architect, director, and teachers of the
municipal drawing-schools, from the directors and collectors of
charity establishments, directors and accountants of almshouses,
doctors of the mineral springs, doctors and accountants of the insane
asylums and for epidemics, head-overseers of octrois, wolf-bounty
guards, commissioners of the urban police, inspectors of weights and
measures, town collectors, whose receipts do not exceed thirty
thousand francs, down to and comprising the lowest employees, such as
forest guards of the department and commune, lock-keepers and
navigation guards, overseers of the quays and of commercial ports,
toll-gatherers on bridges and highways, field-guards of the smallest
village, policemen posted on the corner of a street, and stone-
breakers on the public highway. When things and not persons are
concerned, it is he, again, who, in every project, enterprise, or
proceeding, is charged with the preliminary examination and final
execution of it, who proposes the department budget and presents it,
regularly drawn up, to the council general, who draws up the communal
budget and presents that to the municipal council, and who, after the
council general or municipal council have voted on it, remains on the
spot the sole executor, director, and master of the operation to which
they have assented. Their total, effective part in this operation is
very insignificant, it being reduced to a bare act of the will; in
reaching a vote they have had in their hands scarcely any other
documents than those furnished and arranged by him; in gradually
reaching their decision step by step, they have had no help but his,
that of an independent collaborator who, governed by his own views and
interests, never becomes the mere instrument. They lack for their
decision direct, personal, and full information, and, beyond this,
complete, efficient power; it is simply a dry Yes, interposed between
insufficient resources, or else cut off, and the fruit of which is
abortive or only half ripens. The persistent will of the prefect
alone, informed, and who acts, must and does generally prevail against
this ill-supported and ill-furnished will. At bottom, and as he
stands, he is, in his mental and official capacity, always the prefect
of the year VIII.

Nevertheless, after the laws lately passed, his hands are not so free.
The competency of local assemblies is extended and comprises not only
new cases but, again, of a new species, while the number of their
executive decisions has increased five-fold. The municipal council,
instead of holding one session a year, holds four, and of longer
duration. The council general, instead of one session a year, holds
two, and maintains itself in the interim by its delegation which meets
every month. With these increased authorities and generally present,
the prefect has to reckon, and what is still more serious, he must
reckon with local opinion; he can no longer rule with closed doors;
the proceedings of the municipal council, the smallest one, are duly
posted; in the towns, they are published and commented on by the
newspapers of the locality; the general council furnishes reports of
its deliberations. - Thus, behind elected powers, and weighing with
these on the same side of the scales, here is a new power, opinion, as
this grows in a country leveled by equalized centralization, in
heaving or stagnant crowd of disintegrated individuals lacking any
spontaneous, central, rallying point, and who, failing natural
leaders, simply push and jostle each other or stand still, each
according to personal, blind, and haphazard impressions - a hasty,
improvident, inconsistent, superficial opinion, caught on the wing,
based on vague rumors, on four or five minutes of attention given each
week, and chiefly to big words imperfectly understood, two or three
sonorous, commonplace phrases, of which the listeners fail to catch
the sense, but the sound which, by din of frequent repetition, becomes
for them a recognized signal, the blast of a horn or a shrieking
whistle which assembles the herd and arrests or drives it on. No
opposition can make head against this herd as it rushes along in too
compact and too heavy masses. - The prefect, on the contrary, is
obliged to cajole it, yield to it, and satisfy it; for under the
system of universal suffrage, this same herd, besides local
representatives, elects the central powers, the deputies, the
government; and when the government sends a prefect from Paris into
the provinces, it is after the fashion of a large commercial
establishment, with a view to keep and increase the number of its
customers, to stay there, maintain its credit, and act permanently as
its traveling-clerk, or, in other terms, as its electoral agent, and,
still more precisely, as the campaign manager of coming elections for
the dominant party and for the ministers in office who have
commissioned and appointed him, and who, from top to bottom,
constantly stimulate him to hold on to the voters already secured and
to gain fresh ones. - Undoubtedly, the interests of the state,
department, and commune must be seriously considered, but, first and
above all, he is the recruiting officer for voters. By virtue of this
position and on this he treats with the council general and the
standing committee, with the municipal councilors and mayors, with
influential electors, but especially with the small active committee
which, in each commune, supports the prevailing policy and offers its
zeal to the government.

Give and take. These indispensable auxiliaries must obtain nearly all
they ask for, and they ask a great deal. Instinctively, as well as by
doctrine and tradition, the Jacobins are exacting, disposed to regard
themselves as the representatives of the real and the ideal people,
that is to say, as sovereigns by right, above the law, entitled to
make it and therefore to unmake it, or, at least, strain it and
interpret it as they please. Always in the general council, in the
municipal council, and in the mayoralty, they are tempted to usurp it;
the prefect has as much as he can do to keep them within the local
bounds, to keep them from meddling with state matters and the general
policy; he is often obliged to accept their lack of consideration, to
be patient with them, to talk to them mildly; for they talk and want
the administration to reckon with them as a clerk with his master; if
they vote money for any service it is on condition that they take part
in the use of the funds and in the details of the service, in the
choice of contractors and in hiring the workmen; on condition that
their authority be extended and their hands applied to the consecutive
execution of what does not belong to them but which belongs to the
prefect.[34] Bargaining, consequently, goes on between them
incessantly and they come to terms. - The prefect, it must be noted,
who is bound to pay, can do so without violating the letter of the
law. The stern page on which the legislator has printed his imperative
text is always provided with an ample margin where the administrator,
charged with its execution, can write down the decisions that he is
free to make. In relation to each departmental or communal affair, the
prefect can with his own hand write out what suits him on the white
margin, which, as we have already seen, is ample enough; but the
margin at his disposition is wider still and continues, beyond
anything we have seen, on other pages; he is chargé d'affaires not
only of the department and commune, but again of the State. Titular
conductor or overseer of all general services, he is, in his
circumscription, head inquisitor of the republican faith[35], even in
relation to private life and inner sentiments, the responsible
director of orthodox or heretical acts or opinions, which are laudable
or blamable in the innumerably army of functionaries by which the
central state now undertakes the complete mastery of human life, the
twenty distinct regiments of its vast hierarchy - with the staff of
the clergy, of the magistracy, of the preventive and repressive
police, of the customs; with the officials of bridges and highways,
forest domains, stock-breeding establishments, postal and telegraph
departments, tobacco and other monopolies; with those of every
national enterprise which ought to be private, Sévres and Gobelins,
deaf and dumb and blind asylums, and every auxiliary and special
workshop for war and navigation purposes, which the state supports and
manages. I pass some of them and all too many. Only remark this, that
the indulgence or severity of the prefecture in the way of fiscal
violations or irregularities is an advantage or danger of the highest
importance to 377,000 dealers in wines and liquors; that an accusation
brought before and admitted in the prefecture may deprive 38,000
clergymen of their bread,[36] 43,000 letter-carriers and telegraph
messengers, 45,000 sellers of tobacco and collecting-clerks, 75,000
stone-breakers, and 120,000 male and female teachers;[37] directly or
indirectly, the good or ill favor of the prefecture is of consequence,
since recent military laws, to all adults between 20 and 45 years,
and, since recent school laws, to all children between 6 and 13 years
of age. According to these figures, which go on increasing from year
to, calculate the breadth of the margin on which, alongside of the
legal text which states the law for persons and things in general, the
prefect in his turn gives the law for persons and things in
particular. On this margin, which belongs to him, he writes what he
pleases, at one time permissions and favors, exemptions,
dispensations, leaves of absence, relief of taxes or discharges, help
and subventions, preferences and gratuities, appointments and
promotions, and at another time disgrace, hardship, legal proceedings,
dismissals, and special favors. To guide his hand in each case, that
is to say, to spread all the favors on one side and all the disfavors
on the other, he has, among the local Jacobins, special informers and
important applicants. If not restrained by a very strong sentiment of
distributive justice and very great solicitude for the public good he
can hardly resist them, and in general when he takes up his pen it is
to write under the dictation of his Jacobin collaborators.

Democracy in France in 1889, Summary.

Thus has the institution of the year VIII deviated (The France of the
revolution corrected and decreed by Napoleon), no longer attaining its
object. The prefects, formerly appointed to a department, like a
pacier of the Middle Ages, imposed on it from above, ignorant of local
passions, independent, qualified and fitted for the office, was,
during fifty years, in general, able to remain the impartial minister
of the law and of equity, maintaining the rights of each, and exacting
from each his due, without heeding opinions and without respect to
persons. Now he is obliged to become an accomplice of the ruling
faction, govern for the advantage of some to the detriment of others,
and to put into his scales, as a preponderating weight, every time he
weighs judgment, a consideration for persons and opinions. At the same
time, the entire administrative staff in his hands, and under his eye,
deteriorates; each year, on the recommendation of a senator or deputy,
he adds to it, or sees, intruders there, whose previous services are
null, feeble in capacity and of weak integrity who do poor work or
none at all, and who, to hold their post or get promoted, count not on
their merits but on their sponsors. The rest, able and faithful
functionaries of the old school, who are poor and to whom no path is
open, become weary and lose their energy; they are no longer even
certain of keeping their place; if they stay, it is for the dispatch
of current business and because they cannot be dispensed with; perhaps
to-morrow, however, they will cease to be considered indispensable;
some political denunciation, or to give a political favorite a place,
will put them by anticipation on the retired list. From now on they
have two powers to consult, one, legitimate and natural, the authority
of their administrative chiefs, and the other illegitimate and
parasite, consisting of democratic influence from both above and
below. For them, as for the prefect, public welfare descends to the
second rank and the electoral interest mounts upward to the first
rank. With them as with him self-respect, professional honor, the
conscientious performance of duty, reciprocal loyalty go down;
discipline relaxes, punctuality falters, and, as the saying goes, the
great administrative edifice is no longer a well-kept house, but a

Naturally, under the democratic regime, the maintenance and service of
this house becomes more and more costly;[38] for, owing to the
additional centimes, it is the rich and well-to-do minority which
defrays the larger portion of the expense. Owing to universal
suffrage, the poor or half-poor majority which dominate the elections
so that the large majority with impunity can overtax the minority. At
Paris, the parliament and the government, elected by this numerical
majority, contrive demands in its behalf, force expenditure, augment
public works, schools, endowments, gratuities, prizes, a
multiplication of offices to increase the number of their clients,
while it never tires in decreeing, in the name of principles, works
for show, theatrical, ruinous, and dangerous, the cost of which they
do not care to know, and of which the social import escapes them.
Democracy, above as well as below, is short-sighted; it seizes
whatever food it comes across, like an animal, with open jaws and head
down; it refuses to anticipate and to calculate; it burdens the future
and wastes every fortune it undertakes to manage, not alone that of
the central state, but, again, those of all local societies. Up to the
advent of universal suffrage, the administrators appointed above or
elected below, in the department or in the commune, kept tight hold of
the purse-strings; since 1848, especially since 1870, and still later,
since the passage of the laws of 1882, which, in suppressing the
obligatory consent of the heaviest taxed, let slip the last of these
strings, this purse, wide open, is emptied in the street. - In
1851,[39] the departments, all together, expended 97 millions; in
1869, 192 millions; in 1881, 314 millions. In 1836, the communes, all
together, save Paris, expended 117 millions, in 1862, 450 millions, in
1877, 676 millions. If we examine the receipts covering this
expenditure, we find that the additional centimes which supplied the
local budgets, in 1820, with 80 millions, and, in 1850, with 131
millions, supplied them, in 1870, with 249 millions, in 1880, with 318
millions, and, in 1887, with 364 millions. The annual increase,
therefore, of these superadded centimes to the principal of the direct
taxes is enormous, and finally ends in an overflow. In 1874,[40] there
were already 24 departments in which the sum of additional centimes
reached or surpassed the sum of the principal. "In a very few years,"
says an eminent economist,[41] "it is probable that, for nearly all of
the departments," the overcharge will be similar. Already, for a long
time, in the total of personal taxation,[42] the local budgets raised
more than the state, and, in 1888, the principal of the tax real
property, 183 millions, is less than the total of centimes joined with
it, 196 millions. Coming generations are burdened over and beyond the
present generation, while the sum of loans constantly increases, like
that of taxation. The indebted communes, except Paris, owed,
altogether, in 1868, 524 millions francs[43] , in 1871, 711 millions,
and in 1878, 1322 millions francs.[44] Paris, in 1868, already owed
1326 millions, March 30, 1878, it owed 1988 millions. In this same
Paris, the annual contribution of each inhabitant for local expenses
was, at the end of the first Empire, in 1813, 37 francs per head, at
the end of the Restoration,[45] francs, after the July monarchy, in
1848, 43 francs, and, at the end of the second Empire, in 1869, 94
francs. In 1887,45 it is 110 francs per head. [46]

VIII. Final result in a tendency to bankruptcy.

Such, in brief, is the history of local society from 1789 down to
1889. After the philosophic demolition of the Revolution and the
practical constructions of the Consulate, it could no longer be a
small patrimony, something to take pride in, an object of affection
and devotion to its inhabitants. The departments and communes have
become more or less vast lodging-houses, all built on the same plan
and managed according to the same regulations one as passable as the
other, with apartments in them which, more or less good, are more or
less dear, but at rates which, higher or lower, are fixed at a uniform
tariff over the entire territory, so that the 36,000 communal
buildings and the 86 department hotels are about equal, it making but
little difference whether one lodges in the latter rather than in the
former. The permanent taxpayers of both sexes who have made these
premises their home, have not obtained recognition for what they are,
invincibly and by nature, a syndicate of neighbors, an involuntary,
obligatory and private association, in which physical solidarity
engenders moral solidarity, a natural, limited society whose members
own the building in common, and each possesses a property right more
or less great, according to the greater or lesser contribution he
makes to the expenses of the establishment. Up to this time no room
has yet been found, either in the law or in minds, for this very plain
truth; its place is taken and occupied in advance by the two errors
which, in turn or both at once, have led the legislator and opinion

Taking things as a whole, it is admitted up to 1830 that the
legitimate proprietor of the local building is the central state, that
it may install its delegate therein, the prefect, with full powers;
that, for better government, he consents to be instructed by the
leading interested and most capable parties on the spot; that he
should fix the petty rights he concedes to them within the narrowest
limits; that he should appoint them; that, if he calls them together
for consultation, it is from time to time and generally for form's
sake, to add the authority of their assent to the authority of his
omnipotence, on the implied condition that he shall not give heed to
their objections if he does not like them, and not follow their advice
if he does not choose to accept it. - Taking things as a whole, it is
admitted that, since 1848, the legitimate proprietors of the building
are its adult male inhabitants, counted by heads, all equal and all
with an equal part in the common property, comprising those who
contribute nothing or nearly nothing to the common expenditure of the
house, the numerous body of semi-poor who lodge in it at half price,
and the not less numerous body to whom administrative charity
furnishes house comforts, shelter, light, and frequently provisions,
gratuitously. - Between both these contradictory and false
conceptions, between the prefect of the year VIII, and the democracy
of 1792, a compromise has been effected; undoubtedly, the prefect,
sent from Paris, is and remains the titular director, the active and
responsible manager of the departmental or communal building; but, in
his management of it he is bound to keep in view the coming elections,
and in such a way as will maintain the parliamentary majority in the
seats they occupy in parliament; consequently, he must conciliate the
local leaders of universal suffrage, rule with their help, put up with
the intrusion of their bias and cupidity, take their advice daily,
follow it often, even in small matters, even in payments day by day of
sums already voted, in appointing an office-clerk, in the appointment
of an unpaid underling, who may some day or other take this clerk's
place.[47] - Hence the spectacle before our eyes: a badly kept
establishment in which profusion and waste render each other worse and
worse, where sinecures multiply and where corruption enters in; a
staff of officials becoming more and more numerous and less and less
serviceable, harassed between two different authorities, obliged to
possess or to simulate political zeal and to neutralize an impartial
law by partiality, and, besides performing their regular duties, to do
dirty work; in this staff, there are two sorts of employees, the new-
comers who are greedy and who, through favor, get the best places, and
the old ones who are patient and pretend no more, but who suffer and
grow disheartened; in the building itself, there is great demolition
and reconstruction, architectural fronts in monumental style for
parade and to excite attention, entirely new decorative and extremely
tiresome structures at extravagant cost; consequently, loans and
debts, heavier bills at the end of each year for each occupant, low
rents, but still high, for favorites in the small rooms and garrets,
and extravagant rents for the larger and more sumptuous apartments; in
sum, forced receipts which do not offset the expenses; liabilities
which exceed assets; a budget which shows only a stable balance on
paper, - in short, an establishment with which the public is not
content, and which is on the road to bankruptcy.



[1] Laws of March 21, 1831, and July 18, 1837, June 22, 1833, and May
10, 1838. The municipal electors number about 2,250,000 and form the
superior third of the adult masculine population; in the choice of its
notables and semi-notables, the law takes into account not only wealth
and direct taxation but likewise education and services rendered to
the public. - The department electors number about 200,000, about as
many as the political electors. The reporter observes that "an almost
complete analogy exists between the choice of a deputy and the choice
of a department councilor, and that it is natural to confide the
election to the same electoral body otherwise divided, since the
object is to afford representation to another order of interests."

[2] Laws of July 3, 1848.

[3] Laws of Aug. 12, 1876, March 28, 1882, and April 5, 1884; law of
Aug. 10, 1871.

[4] The prefect, who is directed and posted by the minister of the
Interior in Paris.

[5] "The Revolution," vol. I., book VIII. (Laff. I. pp. 467-559.)

[6] And in 1880 it certainly excluded the female side of human
nature. (SR.)

[7] It must have been evident that nature gives to each worker,
hunter, farmer or fisherman in accordance with their competence and
industry. (SR.)

[8] Construction of roads, canals, sewers, highways etc and protection
against calamities.

[9] Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, "Traité de la science des finances," 4th
edition, I., p. 303: "The personal tax, levied only as principal,
oscillates between the minimum of 1 fr. 50 and the maximum of 4 fr. 50
per annum, according to the communes. - Ibid., 304: "In 1806 the
personal tax produced in France about sixteen millions of francs, a
little less than o fr. 50 per head of the inhabitants."

[10] Ibid., I., 367 (on the tax on doors and windows). According to
the population of the commune, this is from 0 fr. 30 to 1 fr. for each
opening, from 0 fr. 45 to 1 fr. 50 for two openings, from 0 fr. 90 to
4 fr. 50 for three openings, from 1 fr. 60 to 6 fr. 40 for four
openings, and from 2 fr. 50 to 8 fr. 50 for five openings. The first
of these rates is applied to all communes of less than 5000 souls. We
see that the poor man, especially the poor peasant, is considered; the
tax on him is progressive in an inverse sense.

[11] De Foville, "La France Economique" (1887), p.59: "Our 14,500
charity bureaux gave assistance in 1883 to 1,405,500 persons; . . . .
as, in reality, the population of the communes aided (by them) is only
22,000,000, the proportion of the registered poor amounts to over six
per cent."

[12] Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, " Essai sur la répartition des richesses,"
p.174, et seq. - In 1851, the number of land-owners in France was
estimated at 7,800,000. Out of these, three millions were relieved of
the land tax, as indigent, and their quotas were considered as

[13] Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, "Traité de la science des finances," p.721.

[14] De Foville, p.419. (In 1889.)

[15] Cf ante, on the characteristics of indirect taxation.

[16] Here it is the estimated rent, which stands to the real rent as
four to five ; an estimated rent of 400 francs indicates a real rent
of 500 francs.

[17] De Foville, p.57.

[18] Paul Leroy-Beaulieu," Essai sur la répartition de richesses," p.

[19] Ibid., p.209: In 1878, in Paris, 74,000 houses with 1,022,539
rentals, 337,587 being for trade and commerce, and 684,952 for
dwelling purposes. Among the latter, 468,641 have a locative value
inferior to 300 francs a year; 74,360 are between 500 and 750 francs ;
21,147 are between 750 and 1000 francs. All these lodgings are more
or less exempt from the personal tax: those between 1000 and 400
francs pay it with a more or less great reduction: those under 400
francs pay nothing. Above 1000 francs, we find 17,202 apartments from
between 1000 and 1250 francs ; 6198 from between 1250 and 1500
francs; 21,453 from 1500 to 3000 francs. These apartments are
occupied by more or less well-to-do people. - 14,858 apartments above
3000 francs are occupied by the richer or the wealthy class. Among
the latter 9985 are from 3000 to 6000; 3040 are from 6000 to 10,000;
1443 are from 10,000 to 20,000; 421 are above 20,000 francs. These
two latter categories are occupied by the really opulent class. -
According to the latest statistics, instead of 684,952 dwelling
rentals there are 806,187, of which 727,419 are wholly or partly free
of the personal tax. ("Situation au 1ère Janvier, 1888," report by M.
Lamouroux, conseiller-municipal.)

[20] The following appropriations for 1889 are printed on my tax-bill:
"To the State, 51 %.; to the Department, 21 % ; to the commune, 25 %."
On business permits: "To the State, 64 %.; to the Department, 12 %.;
to the commune, 20 %. The surplus of taxes is appropriated to the
benevolent fund and for remission of taxes."

[21] Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, "Traité de la science des finances," I., pp.
367-368: "In communes under 5000 inhabitants the principal of the tax
on doors and windows is, for houses with one opening, 0 fr. 30 per
annum ; for those with four openings, 1 fr. 60." Now, "a house with
five openings pays nearly nine times as much as a house with one
opening." The small taxpayers are accordingly largely relieved at the
expense of those who pay heavy and average taxes, the magnitude of
this relief being appreciable by the following figures: In 1885, out
of 8,975,166 houses, 248,352 had one opening, 1,827,104 two openings,
1,624,516 three openings, and 1,165,902 four openings. More than one-
half of the houses, all of those belonging to the poor or straitened,
are thus relieved, while the other half, since the tax is an impost,
not a quota, but an apportionment, is overcharged as much.

[22] One result of this principle is, that the poor who are exempt
from taxation or who are on the poor list have no vote, which is the
case in England and in Prussia. - Through another result of the same
principle, the law of May 15, 1818, in France, summoned the heaviest
taxpayers, in equal number with the members of the municipal council,
to deliberate with it every time that "a really urgent expenditure"
obliged the commune to raise extra additional centimes beyond the
usual 0 fr. 05. "Thus," says Henrion de Pancey ("Du pouvoir
municipal," p.109), "the members of the municipal councils belong to
the class of small land-owners, at least in a large number of
communes, voted the charges without examination which only affected
them insensibly." - This last refuge of distributive justice was
abolished by the law of April 5, 1882.

[23] Max Leclerc, "Le Vie municipale en Prusse." (Extrait des "Annales
de l'Ecole libre des sciences politique," 1889, a study on the town of
Bonn.) At Bonn, which has a population of 35,810 inhabitants, the
first group is composed of 167 electors: the second, of 471; the
third, of 2607, each group elects 8 municipal councilors out of 24.

[24] De Foville, "La France économique," p. 16 (census of 1881). -
Number of communes, 36,097; number below 1000 inhabitants, 27,503;
number below 500 inhabitants, 16,870. - What is stated applies partly
to the two following categories: 1st, communes from 1000 to 1500
inhabitants, 2982; 2nd, communes from 1500 to 2000 inhabitants, 1917.
- All the communes below 2000 inhabitants are counted as rural in the
statistics of population, and they number 33,402.

[25] See Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, "L'État moderne et ses fonctions," p.
169. "The various groups of inhabitants, especially in the country, do
not know how to undertake or agree upon anything of themselves. I have
seen villages of two or three hundred people belonging to a large
scattered commune wait patiently for years and humbly petition for aid
in constructing an indispensable fountain, which required only a
contribution of 200 or 300 francs, 5 francs per head, to put up. I
have seen others possessing only one road on which to send off their
produce and unable to act in concert, when, with an outlay of 2000
francs, and 200 or 300 francs a year to keep it in order, it would
easily suffice for all their requirements. I speak of regions
relatively rich, much better off than the majority of communes in

[26] In French villages, on one of the walls of a public building on
the square are notices of all kinds, of interest to the inhabitants,
and among these, in a frame behind a wire netting, the latest copy of
the government official newspaper, giving authentic political items,
those which it thinks best for the people to read. (Tr.)

[27] On the communal system in France, and on the reforms which,
following the example of other nations, might be introduced into it,
cf. Joseph Ferrand (formerly a prefect), "Les Institutions
administratives en France et à l'étranger"; Rudolph Gneist, "Les
Réformes administratives en Prusse accomplies par la legislation de
1872," (especially the institution of Amtsvorsteher, for the union of
communes or circumscriptions of about 1500 souls); the Duc de Broglie,
"Vues sur le gouvernement de la France" (especially on the reforms
that should be made in the administration of the commune and canton),
p. 21. - "Deprive communal magistrates of their quality as government
agents; separate the two orders of functions; have the public
functionary whose duty it is to see that the laws are executed in the
communes, the execution of general laws and the decisions of the
superior authority carried out, placed at the county town."

[28] De Foville, ibid., p. 16. - The remarks here made apply to towns
of the foregoing category (from 5000 to 10,000 souls), numbering 312.
A last category comprises towns from 2000 to 5000 souls, numbering
2160, and forming the last class of urban populations; these, through
their mixed character, assimilate to the 1817 communes containing from
1500 to 2000 inhabitants, forming the first category of the rural

[29] Max Leclerc, "La Vie municipale en Prusse," p 17. - In Prussia,
this directing mind is called "the magistrate," as in our northern and
northeastern communes. In eastern Prussia, the "magistrate" is a
collective body; for example, at Berlin, it comprises 34 persons, of
which 17 are specialists, paid and engaged for twelve years, and 17
without pay. In western Prussia, the municipal management consists
generally of an individual, the burgomaster, salaried and engaged for
twelve years.

[30] Max Leclerc, ibid., p.20. - "The present burgomaster in Bonn was
burgomaster at Münchens-Gladbach, before being called to Bonn. The
present burgomaster of Crefeld came from Silesia . . . . A lawyer,
well known for his works on public law, occupying a government
position at Magdeburg," was recently called "to the lucrative position
of burgomaster " in the town of Münster. At Bonn, a town of 30,000
inhabitants, "everything rests on his shoulders he exercises a great
many of the functions which, with us, belong to the prefect."

[31] Max Leclerc, ibid., p. 25. - Alongside of the paid town officers
and the municipal councilors, there are special committees composed of
benevolent members and electors "either to administer or superintend
some branch of communal business, or to study some particular
question." "These committees, subject, moreover, in all respects to
the burgomaster, are elected by the municipal council." - There are
twelve of these in Bonn and over a hundred in Berlin. This institution
serves admirably for rendering those who are well disposed useful, as
well as for the development of local patriotism, a practical sense and
public spirit.

[32] Aucoc, p. 283.

[33] Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, "L'administrateur locale en France et en
Angleterre," pp.26, 28, 92. (Decrees of March 25, 1852, and April 13,

[349 J. Ferrand, ibid., p. 169, 170 (Paris, 1879): "In many cases,
general tutelage and local tutelage are paralyzed . . . . Since 1870-
1876 the mayors, to lessen the difficulties of their task, are
frequently forced to abandon any rightful authority; the prefects are
induced to tolerate, to approve of these infractions of the law. . . .
For many years one cannot read the minutes of a session of the council
general or of the municipal council without finding numerous examples
of the illegality we report . . . . In another order of facts, for
example in that which relates to the official staff, do we not see
every day agents of the state, even conscientious, yield to the will
of all-powerful political notabilities and entirely abandon the
interests of the service? " - These abuses have largely increased
within the past ten years.

[35] See "La République et les conservateurs," in the Revue des Deux
Mondes of March 1, 189, p.108. - "I speak of this de visu [from
experience, (SR.)]: I take my own arrondissement. It is in one of the
eastern departments, lately represented by radicals. This time it was
carried by a conservative. An attempt was first made to annul the
election, which had to be given up as the votes in dispute were too
many. Revenge was taken on the electors. Gendarmes, in the communes,
investigated the conduct of the curés, forest-guard, and storekeeper.
The hospital doctor, a conservative, was replaced by an opportunist.
The tax-comptroller, a man of the district, and of suspicious zeal,
was sent far into the west. Every functionary who, on the even of the
election, did not have a contrite look, was threatened with dismissal.
A road-surveyor was regarded as having been lukewarm, and accordingly
put on the retired list. There is no petty vexation that was not
resorted to, no insignificant person, whom they disdained to strike.
Stone breakers were denounced for saying that they ought not to have
their wages reduced. Sisters of charity, in a certain commune,
dispensed medicine to the poor; they were forbidden to do this, to
annoy the mayor living in Paris. The custodians of mortgages had an
errand-boy who was guilty of distributing, not voting-tickets, but
family notices (of a marriage) on the part of the new deputy; a few
days after this, a letter from the prefecture gave the custodian
notice that the criminal must be replaced in twenty-four hours. A
notary, in a public meeting, dared to interrupt the radical candidate;
he was prosecuted in the court for a violation of professional duties,
and the judges of judiciary reforms condemned him to three months
'suspension.' This took place, "not in Languedoc, or in Provence, in
the south among excited brains where everything is allowable, but
under the dull skies of Champagne. And when I interrogate the
conservatives of the West and the Center, they reply: "We have seen
many beside these, but is long since we have ceased to be astonished!"

[36] Ibid., p.105 : "Each cantonal chief town has its office of
informers. The Minister of Public Worship has himself told that on the
first of January, 1890, there were 300 curés deprived of their salary,
about three or four times as many as on the first of January, 1889."

[37] These figures are taken from the latest statistical reports. Some
of them are furnished by the chief or directors of special services.

[38] Taine could hardly have imagined how costly the modern democracy
would, 100 years later, become. How could he have imaged that the
"Human Rights" should become the right to live comfortably and well at
the expense of an ever more productive society.

[39] DeFoville, pp.412, 416, 425, 455; Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, "Traité de
la science des finances," I., p.717.

[40] "Statistiques financières des communes en 1889": - 3539 communes
pay less than 15 common centimes; 2597 pay from 0 fr. 15 to 0 fr. 30;
9652 pay from 0 fr. 31 to 0 fr. 50; 11,095 from 0 fr. 51 to 1 franc,
and 4248 over 1 franc. - Here this relates only to the common
centimes; to have the sum total of the additiona1 local centimes of
each commune would require the addition of the department centimes,
which the statistics do not furnish.

[41] Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, ibid., I., pp.690, 717.

[42] Ibid.: "If the personal tax were deducted from the amount of
personal and house tax combined we would find that the assessment of
the state in the product of the house tax, that is to say the product
of the tax on rentals, amounts to 41 or 42 millions, and that the
share of localities in the product of this tax surpasses that of the
state by 8 or 9 millions (Year 1877.)

[43] Between 1805 and 1900 the French franc was tied to the gold
standard. A 20 francs coin thus weighed 7,21 grams. Its price is today
in 1998 1933.- francs. Taine's figures have to be multiplied by app.
ten in order to compare with today's prices. No real comparison can,
however, be made since production per capita has multiplied by a large
factor and so have taxes.

[44] "Situation financière des department et des communes," published
in 1889 by the Minister of the Interior. Loans and indebtedness of
the departments at the end of the fiscal year in 1886, 630,066,102
francs. Loans and indebtedness of the communes Dec. 30, 1886,
3,020,450,528 francs.

[45] De Foville, p.148; Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, " L'État moderne et ses
fonctions," p. 21.

[46] During the 110 years since Taine wrote his somber previsions
the French have had to pay the same penalty as other ill managed
Democracies; Bankruptcies direct or indirect with galloping inflation
and enormous devaluations with as a consequence impoverishment of
naive depositors and credulous pension fund participants, wars for
which France was badly prepared with millions of dead and prisoners
and with occupation of France as a result. The culprits, the elected
politicians, have either died or anyhow lived out their lives
comfortably on the indexed retirements which the oligarchy generally
reserves for themselves. (SR.)

[47] Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, "L'Administration locale en France et en
Angleterre," p. 28. (Decrees of March 25, 1852, and April 13, 1861.)
List of offices directly appointed by the prefect and on the
recommendation of the heads of the service, among others the
supernumeraries of telegraph lines and of the tax offices.

End of The Modern Regime, Volume 1 [Napoleon]


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