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The French Revolution, Volume 1. The Origins of Contemporary France, Volume 2 by Hippolyte A. Taine

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declared that they have saved France. All honors are awarded to the
people-to their good sense, their magnanimity, and their justice.
Adoration is paid to this new sovereign: he is publicly and
officially told, in the Assembly and by the press, that he possesses
every virtue, all rights and all powers. If he spills blood it is
inadvertently, on provocation, and always with an infallible
instinct. Moreover, says a deputy, "this blood, was it so pure?"
The greater number of people prefers the theories of their books to
the experience of their eyes; they persist in the idyll, which they
have fashioned for themselves. At the worst their dream, driven out
from the present, takes refuge in the future. To-morrow, when the
Constitution is complete, the people, made happy, will again become
wise: let us endure the storm, which leads us on to so noble a

Meanwhile, beyond the King, inert and disarmed, beyond the Assembly,
disobeyed or submissive, appears the real monarch, the people - that
is to say, a crowd of a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand
individuals gathered together at random, on an impulse, on an alarm,
suddenly and irresistibly made legislators, judges, and
executioners. A formidable power, undefined and destructive, on
which no one has any hold, and which, with its mother, howling and
misshapen Liberty, sits at the threshold of the Revolution like
Milton's two specters at the gates of Hell.

. . Before the gates there sat
On either side a formidable shape;
The one seem'd woman to the waist, and fair,
but ended foul in many a scaly fold
Voluminous and vast, a serpent arm'd
With mortal sting: about her middle round
A cry of hell hounds never ceasing bark'd
With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung
A hideous peal: yet, when they list, would creep,
If aught disturb'd their noise, into her womb,
And kennel there; yet there still bark'd and howl'd
Within unseen . . .
........the other shape,
If shape it might be call'd, that shape had none
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb,
Or substance might be call'd that shadow seem'd
For each seem'd either: black it stood as night,
Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell,
And shook a dreadful dart; what seem'd his head
The likeness of a kingly crown had on.
* * * * * *
The monster moving onward came as fast,
With horrid strides; hell trembled as he strode.



[1] "Archives Nationales," H. 1453. Letter of M. Miron, lieutenant
de police, April 26th; of M. Joly de Fleury, procureur-général, May
29th; of MM. Marchais and Berthier, April 18th and 27th, March 23rd,
April 5th, May 5th. - Arthur Young, June 10th and 29th. "Archives
Nationales," H. 1453 Letter of the sub-delegate of Montlhéry, April

[2] "Archives Nationales," H. 1453. Letter of the sub-delegate
Gobert, March 17th; of the officers of police, June 15th : -- " On
the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th of March the inhabitants of Conflans
generally rebelled against the game law in relation to the rabbit."

[3] Montjoie, 2nd part, ch. XXI. p.14 (the first week in June).
Montjoie is a party man; but he gives dates and details, and his
testimony, when it is confirmed elsewhere, deserves, to be admitted.

[4] Montjoie, 1st part, 92-101. - "Archives Nationales," H.
1453. Letter of the officer of police of Saint-Denis: "A good many
workmen arrive daily from Lorraine as well as from Champagne," which
increases the prices.

[5] De Bezenval, "Mémoires," I.353. Cf. "The Ancient Regime,"
p.509. - Marmontel, II, 252 and following pages. - De Ferrières,
I. 407.

[6] Arthur Young, September 1st, 1788

[7] Barrère, "Mémoires," I. 234.

[8] See, in the National Library, the long catalogue of those which
have survived.

[9] Malouet, I. 255. Bailly, I. 43 (May 9th and 19th). --
D'Hezecques, "Souvenirs d'un page de Louis XV." 293. --De
Bezenval, I. 368.

[10] Marmontel, II, 249. -- Montjoie, 1st part, p. 92. -- De
Bezenval, I. 387: "These spies added that persons were seen
exciting the tumult and were distributing money."

[11] "Archives Nationales," Y.11441. Interrogatory of the Abbé Roy,
May 5th. -- Y.11033, Interrogatory (April 28th and May 4th) of
twenty-three wounded persons brought to the Hôtel-Dieu -- These two
documents are of prime importance in presenting the true aspect of
the insurrection; to these must he added the narrative of M. de
Bezenval, who was commandant at this time with M. de Châtelet.
Almost all other narratives are amplified or falsified through party

[12] De Ferrières, vol. III. note A. (justificatory explanation
by Réveillon).

[13] Bailly I. 25 (April 26th).

[14] Hippeau, IV. 377 (Letters of M. Perrot, April 29th).

[15] Letter to the King by an inhabitant of the Faubourg Saint-
Antoine -"Do not doubt, sire, that our recent misfortunes are due to
the dearness of bread"

[16] Dampmartin, "Evénements qui se sont passés sous mes yeux," etc.
I. 25: "We turned back and were held up by small bands of
scoundrels, who insolently proposed to us to shout 'Vive Necker!
Vive le Tiers-Etat !'" His two companions were knights of St.
Louis, and their badges seemed an object of "increasing hatred."
"The badge excited coarse mutterings, even on the part of persons
who appeared superior to the agitators."

[17] Dampmartin, ibid. i. 25 : " I was dining this very day at the
Hôtel d'Ecquevilly, in the Rue Saint-Louis." He leaves the house on
foot and witnesses the disturbance. "Fifteen to Sixteen hundred
wretches, the excrement of the nation, degraded by shameful vices,
covered with rags, and gorged with brandy, presented the most
disgusting and revolting spectacle. More than a hundred thousand
persons of both sexes and of all ages and conditions interfered
greatly with the operations of the troops. The firing soon
commenced and blood flowed: two innocent persons were wounded near

[18] De Goncourt, "La Société Française pendant la Révolution."
Thirty-one gambling-houses are counted here, while a pamphlet of the
day is entitled "Pétition des deux mill cent filles du Palais-

[19] Montjoie, 2nd part, 144. -- Bailly, II, 130.

[20] Arthur Young, June 24th, 1789. - Montjoie, 2nd part, 69.

[21] Arthur Young, June 9th, 24th, and 26th. - "La France libre,"
passim, by C. Desmoulins.

[22] C. Desmoulins, letters to his father, and Arthur Young, June

[23] Montjoie, 2nd part, 69, 77, 124, 144. C. Desmoulins, letter,
of June 24th and the following days.

[24] Etienne Dumont, "Souvenirs," p.72. - C. Desmoulins, letter
of; June 24th. - Arthur Young, June 25th. - Buchez and Roux,
II. 28.

[25] Bailly, I. 227 and 179. - Monnier, "Recherches sur les
causes," etc. I. 289, 291; II.61; -- Malouet, I. 299; II. 10.
-- "Actes des Apôtres," V.43. (Letter of M. de Guillermy, July
31st, 1790). - Marmontel, I. 28: "The people came even into the
Assembly, to encourage their partisans, to select and indicate their
victims, and to terrify the feeble with the dreadful trial of open

[26] Manuscript letters of M. Boullé, deputy, to the municipal
authorities of Pontivy, from May 1st, 1789, to September 4th, 1790
(communicated by M. Rosenzweig, archivist at Vannes). June 16th,
1789: "The crowd gathered around the hall . . . was, during these
days, from 3,000 to 4,000 persons."

[27] Letters of M. Boullé, June 23rd. "How sublime the moment, that
in which we enthusiastically bind ourselves to the country by a new
oath! . . . . Why should this moment be selected by one of our
number to dishonor himself? His name is now blasted throughout
France. And the unfortunate man has children! Suddenly overwhelmed
by public contempt he leaves, and falls fainting at the door,
exclaiming, 'Ah! this will be my death!' I do not know what has
become of him since. What is strange is, he had not behaved badly
up to that time, and he voted for the Constitution."

[28] De Ferrières, I. 168. - Malouet, I. 298 (according to him
the faction did not number more than ten members), -- idem II. 10.
- Dumont, 250.

[29] "Convention nationale" governed France from 21st September 1792
until Oct. 26th 1796. We distinguish between three different
assemblies, "la Convention Girondine" 1792-93, "the Mountain," 1793-
94 and "la Thermidorienne, from 1794-1795. (SR).

[30] Declaration of June 23rd, article 15.

[31] Montjoie, 2nd part, 118. -- C. Desmoulins, letters of June
24th and the following days. A faithful narrative by M. de Sainte-
Fère, formerly an officer in the French Guard, p.9. -- De Bezenval,
III, 413. - Buchez and Roux, II. 35. -- "Souvenirs", by PASQUIER
(Etienne-Dennis, duc), chancelier de France. in VI volumes,
Librarie Plon, Paris 1893..

[32] Peuchet ("Encyclopédie Méthodique," 1789, quoted by Parent
Duchâtelet): "Almost all of the soldiers of the Guard belong to that
class (the procurers of public women): many, indeed, only enlist in
the corps that they may live at the expense of these unfortunates."

[33] Gouverneur Morris, "Liberty is now the general cry; authority
is a name and no longer a reality." (Correspondence with Washington,
July 19th.)

[34] Bailly. I. 302. "The King was very well-disposed; his
measures were intended only to preserve order and the public peace.
. . Du Châtelet was forced by facts to acquit M. de Bezenval of
attempts against the people and the country." -- Cf. Marmontel,
IV. 183; Mounier, II, 40.

[35] Desmoulins, letter of the 16th July. Buchez and Roux, II. 83.

[36] Trial of the Prince de Lambesc (Paris, 1790), with the eighty-
three depositions and the discussion of the testimony. - It is the
crowd which began the attack. The troops fired in the air. But one
man, a sieur Chauvel, was wounded slightly by the Prince de Lambesc.
(Testimony of M. Carboire, p.84, and of Captain de Reinack, p.
101.) "M. le Prince de Lambesc, mounted on a gray horse with a gray
saddle without holsters or pistols, had scarcely entered the garden
when a dozen persons jumped at the mane and bridle of his horse and
made every effort to drag him off. A small man in gray clothes
fired at him with a pistol. . . . The prince tried hard to free
himself, and succeeded by making his horse rear up and by
flourishing his sword; without, however, up to this time, wounding
any one. . . . He deposes that he saw the prince strike a man on
the head with the flat of his saber who was trying to close the
turning-bridge, which would have cut off the retreat of his troops
The troops did no more than try to keep off the crowd which assailed
them with stones, and even with firearms, from the top of the
terraces." -- The man who tried to close the bridge had seized the
prince's horse with one hand; the wound he received was a scratch
about 23 lines long, which was dressed and cured with a bandage
soaked in brandy. All the details of the affair prove that the
patience and humanity of the officer, were extreme. Nevertheless
"on the following day, the 13th, some one posted a written placard
on the crossing Bussy recommending the citizens of Paris to seize
the prince and quarter him at once." -- (Deposition of M. Cosson,

[37] Bailly, I. 3, 6. -- Marmontel, IV. 310

[38] Montjoie, part 3, 86. "I talked with those who guarded the
château of the Tuileries. They did not belong to Paris. . . . A
frightful physiognomy and hideous apparel." Montjoie, not to be
trusted in many places, merits consultation for little facts of
which he was an eye-witness. -- Morellet, "Mémoires," I. 374. -
Dusaulx, "L'œuvre des sept jours," 352. - Revue Historique,"
March, 1876. Interrogatory of Desnot. His occupation during the
13th of July (published by Guiffrey).

[39] Mathieu Dumas, "Mémoires," I. 531. "Peaceable people fled at
the sight of these groups of strange, frantic vagabonds. Everybody
closed their houses . . . . When I reached home, in the Saint-
Denis quarter, several of these brigands caused great alarm by
firing off guns in the air."

[40] Dusaulx, 379.

[41] Dusaulx, 359, 360, 361, 288, 336. " In effect their entreaties
resembled commands, and, more than once, it was impossible to resist

[42] Dusaulx, 447 (Deposition of the invalides).-- "Revue
Rétrospective," IV. 282 (Narrative of the commander of the thirty-
two Swiss Guards).

[43] Marmontel, IV. 317.

[44] Dusaulx, 454. "The soldiers replied that they would accept
whatever happened rather than cause the destruction of so great a
number of their fellow-citizens."

[45] Dusaulx, 447. The number of combatants, maimed, wounded, dead,
and living, is 825. -- Marmontel, IV. 320. "To the number of
victors, which has been carried up to 800, people have been added
who were never near the place."

[46] "Memoires", by PASQUIER (Etienne-Dennis, duc, 1767-1862),
chancelier de France. in VI volumes, Librarie Plon, Paris 1893.
Vol. I. p.52. Pasquier was eye-witness. He leaned against the fence
of the Beaumarchais garden and looked on, with mademoiselle Contat,
the actress, at his side, who had left her carriage in the Place-
Royale. -- Marat, "L'ami du peuple," No. 530. "When an unheard-of
conjunction of circumstances had caused the fall of the badly
defended walls of the Bastille, under the efforts of a handful of
soldiers and a troop of unfortunate creatures, most of them Germans
and almost all provincials, the Parisians presented themselves the
fortress, curiosity alone having led them there."

[47] Narrative of the commander of the thirty-two Swiss. --
Narrative of Cholat, wine-dealer, one of the victors. --
Examination of Desnot (who cut off the head of M. de Launay).

[48] Montjoie, part 3, 85. -- Dusaulx, 355, 287, 368.

[49] Nothing more. No Witness states that he had seen the pretended
note to M. do Launay. According to Dusaulx, he could not have had
either the time or the means to write it.

[50] Bailly, II. 32, 74, 88, 90, 95, 108, 117, 137, 158, 174. "I
gave orders which were neither obeyed nor listened to. . . .
They gave me to understand that I was not safe." (July 15th.) "In
these sad times one enemy and one calumnious report sufficed to
excite the multitude. All who had formerly held power, all who had
annoyed or restrained the insurrectionists, were sure of being

[51] M. de Lafayette, "Mémoires," III. 264. Letter of July 16th,
1789. "I have already saved the lives of six persons whom they were
hanging in different quarters."

[52] Poujoulat. "Histoire de la Révolution Française," p.100 (with
supporting documents). Procès-verbaux of the Provincial Assembly,
lle-de-France (1787), p.127.

[53] For instance: "He is severe with his peasants." -- "He gives
them no bread, and he wants them then to eat grass." "He wants them
to eat grass like horses."-- "He has said that they could very well
eat hay, and that they are no better than horses." -- The same story
is found in many of the contemporary jacqueries.

[54] Bailly, II. 108. "The people, less enlightened and as
imperious as despots, recognize no positive signs of good
administration but success."

[55] Bailly, II, 108, 95. - Malouet, II, 14.

[56] De Ferrières, I. 168.



Anarchy from July 14th to October 6th, 1789. - Destruction of the
Government. - To whom does real power belong?

However bad a particular government may be, there is something still
worse, and that is the suppression of all government. For, it is
owing to government that human wills form a harmony instead of
chaos. It serves society as the brain serves a living being.
Incapable, inconsiderate, extravagant, engrossing, it often abuses
its position, overstraining or misleading the body for which it
should care, and which it should direct. But, taking all things
into account, whatever it may do, more good than harm is done, for
through it the body stands erect, marches on and guides its steps.
Without it there is no organized deliberate action, serviceable to
the whole body. In it alone do we find the comprehensive views,
knowledge of the members of which it consists and of their aims, an
idea of outward relationships, full and accurate information, in
short, the superior intelligence which conceives what is best for
the common interests, and adapts means to ends. If it falters and
is no longer obeyed, if it is forced and pushed from without by a
violent pressure, it ceases to control public affairs, and the
social organization retrogrades by many steps. Through the
dissolution of society, and the isolation of individuals, each man
returns to his original feeble state, while power is vested in
passing aggregates that like whirlwinds spring up from the human
dust. -- One may divine how this power, which the most competent
find it difficult to apply properly, is exercised by bands of men
springing out of nowhere. It is a matter of supplies, of their
possessions, price and distribution. It is a matter of taxes, its
proportion, apportionment and collection; of private property, its
varieties, rights, and limitations It is a problem of public
authority, its allocation and its limits; of all those delicate
cogwheels which, working into each other, constitute the great
economic, social, and political machine. Each band in its own
canton lays its rude hands on the wheels within its reach. They
wrench or break them haphazardly, under the impulse of the moment,
heedless and indifferent to consequences, even when the reaction of
to-morrow crushes them in the ruin that they cause to day. Thus do
unchained Negroes, each pulling and hauling his own way, undertake
to manage a ship of which they have just obtained mastery. -- In
such a state of things white men are hardly worth more than black
ones. For, not only is the band, whose aim is violence, composed of
those who are most destitute, most wildly enthusiastic, and most
inclined to destructiveness and to license. But also, as this band
tumultuously carries out its violent action, each individual the
most brutal, the most irrational, and most corrupt, descends lower
than himself, even to the darkness, the madness, and the savagery of
the dregs of society. In fact, a man who in the interchange of
blows, would resist the excitement of murder, and not use his
strength like a savage, must be familiar with arms. He must be
accustomed to danger, be cool-blooded, alive to the sentiment of
honor, and above all, sensitive to that stern military code which,
to the imagination of the soldier, ever holds out to him the
provost's gibbet to which he is sure to rise, should he strike one
blow too many. Should all these restraints, inward as well as
outward, be wanting, the man plunges into insurrection. He is a
novice in the acts of violence, which he carries out. He has no
fear of the law, because he abolishes it. The action begun carries
him further than he intended to go. Peril and resistance exasperate
his anger. He catches the fever from contact with those who are
fevered, and follows robbers who have become his comrades.[1] Add
to this the clamors, the drunkenness, the spectacle of destruction,
the nervous tremor of the body strained beyond its powers of
endurance, and we can comprehend how, from the peasant, the laborer,
and the bourgeois, pacified and tamed by an old civilization, we see
all of a sudden spring forth the barbarian. Or still worse, the
primitive animal, the grinning, sanguinary, wanton baboon, who
giggles while he slays, and gambols over the ruin he has
accomplished. Such is the actual government to which France is
given up, and after eighteen months' experience, the best qualified,
most judicious and profoundest observer of the Revolution will find
nothing to compare it to but the invasion of the Roman Empire in the
fourth century.[2] "The Huns, the Heruli, the Vandals, and the Goths
will come neither from the north nor from the Black Sea; they are in
our very midst."


The provinces. - Destruction of old Authorities. - Inadequacy of
new Authorities

When in a building the principal beam gives way, cracks follow and
multiply, and the secondary joists fall in one by one for lack of
the prop, which supported them. In a similar manner the authority
of the King being broken, all the powers, which he delegated, fall
to the ground.[3] Intendants, parliaments, military commands, grand
provosts, administrative, judicial, and police functionaries in
every province, and of every branch of the service, who maintain
order and protect property, taught by the murder of M. de Launey,
the imprisonment of M. de Besenval, the flight of Marshal de
Broglie, the assassinations of Foullon and Bertier, know what it
costs should they try to perform their duties. Should it be
forgotten local insurrections intervene, and keep them in mind of

The officer in command in Burgundy is a prisoner at Dijon, with a
guard at his door; and he is not allowed to speak with any one
without permission, and without the presence of witnesses.[4] The
Commandant of Caen is besieged in the old palace and capitulates.
The Commandant of Bordeaux surrenders Château-Trompette with its
guns and equipment. The Commandant at Metz, who remains firm,
suffers the insults and the orders of the populace. The Commandant
of Brittany wanders about his province "like a vagabond," while at
Rennes his people, furniture, and plate are kept as pledges. As
soon as he sets foot in Normandy he is surrounded, and a sentinel is
placed at his door. -- The Intendant of Besançon takes to flight;
that of Rouen sees his dwelling sacked from top to bottom, and
escapes amid the shouts of a mob demanding his head. - At Rennes,
the Dean of the Parliament is arrested, maltreated, kept in his room
with a guard over him, and then, although ill, sent out of the town
under an escort. -- At Strasbourg "thirty-six houses of magistrates
are marked for pillage."[5] -- At Besançon, the President of the
Parliament is constrained to let out of prison the insurgents
arrested in a late out-break, and to publicly burn the whole of the
papers belonging to the prosecution. - In Alsace, since the
beginning of the troubles, the provosts were obliged to fly, the
bailiffs and manorial judges hid themselves, the forest-inspectors
ran away, and the houses of the guards were demolished. One man,
sixty years of age, is outrageously beaten and marched about the
village, the people, meanwhile, pulling out his hair; nothing
remains of his dwelling but the walls and a portion of the roof.
All his furniture and effects are broken up, burnt or stolen. He is
forced to sign, along with his wife, an act by which he binds
himself to refund all penalties inflicted by him, and to abandon all
claims for damages for the injuries to which he has just been
subjected. -- In Franche-Comté the authorities dare not condemn
delinquents, and the police do not arrest them; the military
commandant writes that "crimes of every kind are on the increase,
and that he has no means of punishing them." Insubordination is
permanent in all the provinces; one of the provincial commissions
states with sadness:

"When all powers are in confusion and annihilated, when public
force no longer exists, when all ties are sundered, when every
individual considers himself relieved from all kinds of obligation,
when public authority no longer dares make itself felt, and it is a
crime to have been clothed with it, what can be expected of our
efforts to restore order? "[6]

All that remains of this great demolished State is forty thousand
groups of people, each separated and isolated, in towns and small
market villages where municipal bodies, elected committees, and
improvised National Guards strive to prevent the worst excesses. --
But these local chiefs are novices; they are human, and they are
timid. Chosen by acclamation they believe in popular rights; in the
midst of riots they feel themselves in danger. Hence, they
generally obey the crowd.

"Rarely," says one of the provincial commissions reports, "do the
municipal authorities issue a summons; they allow the greatest
excesses rather than enter upon prosecutions for which, sooner or
later, they may be held responsible by their fellow-citizens. . .
. Municipal bodies have no longer the power to resist anything."

Especially in the rural districts the mayor or syndic, who is a
farmer, makes it his first aim to make no enemies, and would resign
his place if it were to bring him any "unpleasantness" with it. His
rule in the towns, and especially in large cities, is almost as lax
and more precarious, because explosive material is accumulated here
to a much larger extent, and the municipal officers, in their arm-
chairs at the town-hall, sit over a mine which may explode at any
time. To-morrow, perhaps, some resolution passed at a tavern in the
suburbs, or some incendiary newspaper just received from Paris, will
furnish the spark. - No other defense against the populace is at
hand than the sentimental proclamations of the National Assembly,
the useless presence of troops who stand by and look on, and the
uncertain help of a National Guard which will arrive too late.
Occasionally these townspeople, who are now the rulers, utter a cry
of distress from under the hands of the sovereigns of the street who
grasp them by the throat. At Puy-en-Velay,[7] a town of twenty
thousand inhabitants, the présidial,[8] the committee of twenty-four
commissioners, a body of two hundred dragoons, and eight hundred men
of the guard of burgesses, are "paralyzed, and completely stupefied,
by the vile populace. A mild treatment only increases its
insubordination and insolence." This populace proscribes whomsoever it
pleases, and six days ago a gibbet, erected by its hands, has announced
to the new magistrates the fate that awaits them.

" What will become of us this winter," they exclaim, "in our
impoverished country, where bread is not to be had! We shall be the
prey of wild beasts!"


Public feeling. - Famine

These people, in truth, are hungry, and, since the Revolution, their
misery has increased. Around Puy-en-Velay the country is laid
waste, and the soil broken up by a terrible tempest, a fierce
hailstorm, and a deluge of rain. In the south, the crop proved to
be moderate and even insufficient.

"To trace a picture of the condition of Languedoc," writes the
intendant,[9] "would be to give an account of calamities of every
description. The panic which prevails in all communities, and which
is stronger than all laws, stops traffic, and would cause famine
even in the midst of plenty. Commodities are enormously expensive,
and there is a lack of cash. Communities are ruined by the enormous
outlays to which they are exposed: The payment of the deputies to
the seneschal's court, the establishment of the burgess guards,
guardhouses for this militia, and the purchase of arms, uniforms,
and outlays in forming communes and permanent councils. To this
must be add the cost of the printing of all kinds, and the
publication of trivial deliberations. Further the loss of time due
to disturbances occasioned by these circumstances, and the utter
stagnation of manufactures and of trade." All these causes combined
"have reduced Languedoc to the last extremity."-

In the Center, and in the North, where the crops are good,
provisions are not less scarce, because wheat is not put in
circulation, and is kept concealed.

"For five months," writes the municipal assembly of Louviers,[10]
"not a farmer has made his appearance in the markets of this town.
Such a circumstance was never known before, although, from time to
time, high prices have prevailed to a considerable extent. On the
contrary, the markets were always well supplied in proportion to the
high price of grain."

In vain the municipality orders the surrounding forty-seven
parishes to provide them with wheat. They pay no attention to the
mandate; each for himself and each for his own house; the intendant
is no longer present to compel local interests to give way to public

"In the wheat districts around us," says a letter from one of the
Burgundy towns, "we cannot rely on being able to make free
purchases. Special regulations, supported by the civic guard,
prevent grain from being sent out, and put a stop to its
circulation. The adjacent markets are of no use to us. Not a sack
of grain has been brought into our market for about eight months."

At Troyes, bread costs four sous per pound, at Bar-sur-Aube, and in
the vicinity, four and a half sous per pound. The artisan who is
out of work now earns twelve sous a day at the relief works, and, on
going into the country, he sees that the grain crop is good. What
conclusion can he come to but that the dearth is due to the
monopolists, and that, if he should die of hunger, it would be
because those scoundrels have starved him? -- By virtue of this
reasoning whoever has to do with these provisions, whether
proprietor, farmer, merchant or administrator, all are considered
traitors. It is plain that there is a plot against the people: the
government, the Queen, the clergy, the nobles are all parties to it;
and likewise the magistrates and the wealthy amongst the bourgeoisie
and the rich. A rumor is current in the Ile-de-France that sacks of
flour are thrown into the Seine, and that the cavalry horses are
purposely made to eat unripe wheat in stalk. In Brittany, it is
maintained that grain is exported and stored up abroad. In
Touraine, it is certain that this or that wholesale dealer allows it
to sprout in his granaries rather than sell it. At Troyes, a story
prevails that another has poisoned his flour with alum and arsenic,
commissioned to do so by the bakers. -- Conceive the effect of
suspicions like these upon a suffering multitude! A wave of hatred
ascends from the empty stomach to the morbid brain. The people are
everywhere in quest of their imaginary enemies, plunging forward
with closed eyes no matter on whom or on what, not merely with all
the weight of their mass, but with all the energy of their fury.


Panic. - General arming.

>From the earliest of these weeks they were already alarmed.
Accustomed to being led, the human herd is scared at being left to
itself; it misses its leaders who it has trodden under foot; in
throwing off their trammels it has deprived itself of their
protection. It feels lonely, in an unknown country, exposed to
dangers of which it is ignorant, and against which it is unable to
guard itself. Now that the shepherds are slain or disarmed, suppose
the wolves should unexpectedly appear! - And there are wolves - I
mean vagabonds and criminals - who have but just issued out of the
darkness. They have robbed and burned, and are to be found at every
insurrection. Now that the police force no longer puts them down,
they show themselves instead of keeping themselves concealed. They
have only to lie in wait and come forth in a band, and both life and
property will be at their mercy. - Deep anxiety, a vague feeling of
dread, spreads through both town and country: towards the end of
July the panic, like a blinding, suffocating whirl of dusts,
suddenly sweeps over hundreds of leagues of territory. The brigands
are coming! They are burning the crops! They are only six leagues
off, and then only two - the refugees who have run away from the
disorder prove it.

On the 28th of July, at Angoulême,[11] the alarm bell is heard about
three o'clock in the afternoon; the drums beat to arms, and cannon
are mounted on the ramparts. The town has to be put in a state of
defense against 15,000 bandits who are approaching, and from the
walls a cloud of dust on the road is discovered with terror. It
proves to be the post-wagon on its way to Bordeaux. After this the
number of brigands is reduced to 1,500, but there is no doubt that
they are ravaging the country. At nine o'clock in the evening
20,000 men are under arms, and thus they pass the night, always
listening without hearing anything. Towards three o'clock in the
morning there is another alarm, the church bells ringing and the
people forming a battle array. They are convinced that the brigands
have burned Ruffec, Vernenil, La Rochefoucauld, and other places.
The next day countrymen flock in to give their aid against bandits
who are still absent. "At nine o'clock," says a witness, "we had
40,000 men in the town, to whom we showed our gratitude." As the
bandits do not show themselves, it must be because they are
concealed; a hundred horsemen, a large number of men on foot, start
out to search the forest of Braçonne, and to their great surprise
they find nothing. But the terror is not allayed; "during the
following days a guard is kept mounted, and companies are enrolled
among the townsmen," while Bordeaux, duly informed, dispatches a
courier to offer the support of 20,000 men and even 30,000. "What
is surprising," adds the narrator, is that at ten leagues off in the
neighborhood, in each parish, a similar disturbance took place, and
at about the same hour." -- All that is required is that a girl,
returning to the village at night, should meet two men who do not
belong to the neighborhood. The case is the same in Auvergne.
Whole parishes, on the strength of this, betake themselves at night
to the woods, abandoning their houses, and carrying away their
furniture; "the fugitives trod down and destroyed their own crops;
pregnant women were injured in the forests, and others lost their
wits." Fear lends them wings. Two years after this, Madame Campan
was shown a rocky peak on which a woman had taken refuge, and from
which she was obliged to be let down with ropes. -- The people at
last return to their homes, and resume their usual routines. But
such large masses are not unsettled with impunity; a tumult like
this is, in itself, a lively source of alarm. As the country did
rise, it must have been on account of threatened danger and if the
peril was not due to brigands, it must have come from some other
quarter. Arthur Young, at Dijon and in Alsace,[12] hears at the
public dinner tables that the Queen had formed a plot to undermine
the National Assembly and to massacre all Paris. Later on he is
arrested in a village near Clermont, and examined because he is
evidently conspiring with the Queen and the Comte d'Entraigues to
blow up the town and send the survivors to the galleys.

No argument, no experience has any effect against the multiplying
phantoms of an over-excited imagination. Henceforth every commune,
and every man, provide themselves with arms and keep them ready for
use. The peasant searches his hoard, and "finds from ten to twelve
francs for the purchase of a gun." "A national militia is found in
the poorest village." Burgess guards and companies of volunteers
patrol all the towns. Military commanders deliver arms, ammunition,
and equipment, on the requisition of municipal bodies, while, in
case of refusal, the arsenals are pillaged, and, voluntarily or by
force, four hundred thousand guns thus pass into the hands of the
people in six months.[13] Not content with this they must have
cannon. Brest having demanded two, every town in Brittany does the
same thing; their self-esteem is at stake as well as a need of
feeling themselves strong. - They lack nothing now to render
themselves masters. All authority, all force, every means of
constraint and of intimidation is in their hands, and in theirs
alone; and these sovereign hands have nothing to guide them in this
actual interregnum of all legal powers, but the wild or murderous
suggestions of hunger or distrust.


Attacks on public individuals and public property. - At Strasbourg.
- At Cherbourg. - At Mauberge. - At Rouen. - At Besançon. - At

It would take too much space to recount all the violent acts which
were committed, - convoys arrested, grain pillaged, millers and corn
merchants hung, decapitated, slaughtered, farmers called upon under
the threats of death to give up even the seed reserved for sowing,
proprietors ransomed and houses sacked.[14] These outrages,
unpunished, tolerated and even excused or badly suppressed, are
constantly repeated, and are, at first, directed against public men
and public property. As is commonly the case, the rabble head the
march and stamp the character of the whole insurrection.

On the 19th of July, at Strasbourg, on the news of Necker's return
to office, it interprets after its own fashion the public joy, which
it witnesses. Five or six hundred beggars,[15] their numbers soon
increased by the petty tradesmen, rush to the town hall, the
magistrates only having time to fly through a back door. The
soldiers, on their part, with arms in their hands, allow all these
things to go on, while several of them spur the assailants on. The
windows are dashed to pieces under a hailstorm of stones, the doors
are forced with iron crowbars, and the populace enter amid a burst
of acclamations from the spectators. Immediately, through every
opening in the building, which has a facade frontage of eighty feet,
" there is a shower of shutters, sashes, chairs, tables, sofas,
books and papers, and then another of tiles, boards, balconies and
fragments of wood-work." The public archives are thrown to the wind,
and the surrounding streets are strewed with them; the letters of
enfranchisement, the charters of privileges, all the authentic acts
which, since Louis XIV, have guaranteed the liberties of the town,
perish in the flames. Some of the rabble in the cellars stave in
casks of precious wine; fifteen thousand measures of it are lost,
making a pool five feet deep in which several are drowned. Others,
loaded with booty, go away under the eyes of the soldiers without
being arrested. The havoc continues for three days; a number of
houses belonging to some of the magistrates "are sacked from garret
to cellar." When the honest citizens at last obtain arms and restore
order, they are content with the hanging of one of the robbers;
although, in order to please the people, the magistrates are changed
and the price of bread and meat is reduced. - It is not surprising
that after such tactics, and with such rewards, the riot should
spread through the neighborhood far and near: in fact, starting from
Strasbourg it overruns Alsace, while in the country as in the city,
there are always drunkards and rascals found to head it.

No matter where, be it in the East, in the West, or in the North,
the instigators are always of this stamp. At Cherbourg, on the 21st
of July,[16] the two leaders of the riot are " highway robbers," who
place themselves at the head of women of the suburbs, foreign
sailors, the populace of the harbor, and it includes soldiers in
workmen's smocks. They force the delivery of the keys of the grain
warehouses, and wreck the dwellings of the three richest merchants,
also that of M. de Garantot, the sub-delegate: "All records and
papers are burnt; at M. de Garantot's alone the loss is estimated at
more than 100,000 crowns at least." -- The same instinct of
destruction prevails everywhere, a sort of envious fury against all
who possess, command, or enjoy anything. At Maubeuge, on the 27th
of July, at the very assembly of the representatives of the
commune,[17] the rabble interferes directly in its usual fashion. A
band of nail and gun-makers takes possession of the town-hall, and
obliges the mayor to reduce the price of bread. Almost immediately
after this another band follows uttering cries of death, and smashes
the windows, while the garrison, which has been ordered out, quietly
contemplates the damage done. Death to the mayor, to all rulers,
and to all employees! The rioters force open the prisons, set the
prisoners free, and attack the tax-offices. The octroi offices are
demolished from top to bottom: they pull down the harbor offices and
throw the scales and weights into the river. All the custom and
excise stores are carried off; and the officials are compelled to
give acquaintances. The houses of the registrar and of the sheriff,
that of the revenue comptroller, two hundred yards outside the town,
are sacked; the doors and the windows are smashed, the furniture and
linen is torn to shreds, and the plate and jewelry is thrown into
the wells. The same havoc is committed in the mayor's town-house,
also in his country-house a league off. "Not a window, not a door,
not one article or eatable " is preserved; their work, moreover, is
conscientiously done, without stopping a moment, "from ten in the
evening up to ten in the morning on the following day." In addition
to this the mayor, who has served for thirty-four years, resigns his
office at the solicitation of the well-disposed but terrified
people, and leaves the country. -- At Rouen, after the 24th of
July,[18] a written placard shows, by its orthography and its style,
what sort of intellects composed it and what kind of actions are to
follow it:

"Nation, you have here four heads to strike off, those of Pontcarry
(the first president), Maussion (the intendant), Godard de Belbœuf
(the attorney-general), and Durand (the attorney of the King in the
town). Without this we are lost, and if you do not do it, people
will take you for a heartless nation."

Nothing could be more explicit. The municipal body, however, to
whom the Parliament denounces this list of proscriptions, replies,
with its forced optimism, that

"no citizen should consider himself or be considered as proscribed;
he may and must believe himself to be safe in his own dwelling,
satisfied that there is not a person in the city who would not fly
to his rescue."

This is equal to telling the populace that it is free to do as it
pleases. On the strength of this the leaders of the riot work on in
security for ten days. One of them is a man named Jourdain, a
lawyer of Lisieux, and, like most of his brethren, a demagogue in
principles; the other is a strolling actor from Paris named Bordier,
famous in the part of harlequin,[19] a bully in a house of ill-fame,
"a night-rover and drunkard, and who, fearing neither God nor
devil," has taken up patriotism, and comes down into the provinces
to play tragedy, and that, tragedy in real life. The fifth act
begins on the night of the 3rd of August, with Bordier and Jourdain
as the principal actors, and behind them the rabble along with
several companies of fresh volunteers. A shout is heard, "Death to
the monopolists! death to Maussion! we must have his head!" They
pillage his hotel: many of them become intoxicated and fall asleep
in his cellar. The revenue offices, the toll-gates of the town, the
excise office, all buildings in which the royal revenue is
collected, are wrecked. Immense bonfires are lighted in the streets
and on the old market square; furniture, clothes, papers, kitchen
utensils, are all thrown in pell-mell, while carriages are dragged
out and tumbled into the Seine. It is only when the town-hall is
attacked that the National Guard, beginning to be alarmed, makes up
its mind to seize Bordier and some others. The following morning,
however, at the shout of Carabo, and led by Jourdain, the prison is
forced, Bordier set free, and the intendant's residence, with its
offices, is sacked a second time. When, finally, the two rascals
are taken and led to the scaffold, the populace is so strongly in
their favor as to require the pointing of loaded cannon on them to
keep them down. -- At Besançon,[20] on the 13th of August, the
leaders consist of the servant of an exhibitor of wild animals, two
goal-birds of whom one has already been branded in consequence of a
riot, and a number of "inhabitants of ill-repute," who, towards
evening, spread through the town along with the soldiers. The
gunners insult the officers they meet, seize them by the throat and
want to throw them into the Doubs. Others go to the house of the
commandant, M. de Langeron, and demand money of him; on his refusing
to give it they tear off their cockades and exclaim, "We too belong
to the Third-Estate!" in other words, that they are the masters:
subsequently they demand the head of the intendant, M. de Caumartin,
forcibly enter his dwelling and break up his furniture. On the
following day the rabble and the soldiers enter the coffee-houses,
the convents, and the inns, and demand to be served with wine and
eatables as much as they want, and then, heated by drink, they burn
the excise offices, force open several prisons, and set free all the
smugglers and deserters. To put an end to this saturnalia a grand
banquet in the open air is suggested, in which the National Guard is
to fraternize with the whole garrison; but the banquet turns into a
drinking-bout, entire companies remaining under the tables dead
drunk; other companies carry away with them four hogsheads of wine,
and the rest, finding themselves left in the lurch, are scattered
abroad outside the walls in order to rob the cellars of the
neighboring villages. The next day, encouraged by the example set
them, a portion of the garrison, accompanied by a number of workmen,
repeat the expedition in the country. Finally, after four days of
this orgy, to prevent Besançon and its outskirts from being
indefinitely treated as a conquered country, the burgess guard, in
alliance with the soldiers who have remained loyal, rebel against
the rebellion, go in quest of the marauders and hang two of them
that same evening. -- Such is rioting![21] an irruption of brute
force which, turned loose on the habitations of men, can do nothing
but gorge itself, waste, break, destroy, and do damage to itself;
and if we follow the details of local history, we see how, in these
days, similar outbreaks of violence might be expected at any time.

At Troyes,[22] on the 18th of July, a market-day, the peasants
refuse to pay the entrance duties; the octroi having been suppressed
at Paris, it ought also to be suppressed at Troyes. The populace,
excited by this first disorderly act, gather into a mob for the
purpose of dividing the grain and arms amongst themselves, and the
next day the town-hall is invested by seven or eight thousand men,
armed with clubs and stones. The day after, a band, recruited in
the surrounding villages, armed with flails, shovels, and pitch-
forks, enters under the leadership of a joiner who marches at the
head of it with a drawn saber; fortunately, "all the honest folks
among the burgesses "immediately form themselves into a National
Guard, and this first attempt at a Jacquerie is put down. But the
agitation continues, and false rumors constantly keep it up. - On
the 29th of July, on the report being circulated that five hundred
"brigands" had left Paris and were coming to ravage the country, the
alarm bell sounds in the villages, and the peasants go forth armed.
Henceforth, a vague idea of some impending danger fills all minds;
the necessity of defense and of guarding against enemies is
maintained. The new demagogues avail themselves of this to keep
their hold on the people, and when the time comes, to use it against
their chiefs. - It is of no use to assure the people that the
latter are patriots; that the recently welcomed Necker with
enthusiastic shouts; that the priests, the monks, and canons were
the first to adopt the national cockade; that the nobles of the city
and its environs are the most liberal in France; that, on the 20th
of July, the burgess guard saved the town; that all the wealthy give
to the national workshops; that Mayor Huez, "a venerable and honest
magistrate," is a benefactor to the poor and to the public. All the
old leaders are objects of distrust. -- On the 8th of August, a mob
demands the dismissal of the dragoons, arms for all volunteers,
bread at two sous the pound, and the freedom of all prisoners. On
the 19th of August the National Guard rejects its old officers as
aristocrats, and elects new ones. On the 27th of August, the crowd
invade the town-hall and distribute the arms amongst themselves. On
the 5th of September, two hundred men, led by Truelle, president of
the new committee, force the salt depot and have salt delivered to
them at six sous per pound. -- Meanwhile, in the lowest quarters of
the city, a story is concocted to the effect that if wheat is scarce
it is because Huez, the mayor, and M. de St. Georges, the old
commandant, are monopolists, and now they say of Huez what they said
five weeks before of Foulon, that "he wants to make the people eat
hay." The many-headed brute growls fiercely and is about to spring.
As usual, instead of restraining him, they try to manage him.

"You must put your authority aside for a moment," writes the deputy
of Troyes to the sheriffs," and act towards the people as to a
friend; be as gentle with them as you would be with your equals, and
rest assured that they are capable of responding to it."

Thus does Huez act, and he even does more, paying no attention to
their menaces, refusing to provide for his own safety and almost
offering himself as a sacrifice.

"I have wronged no one," he exclaimed; "why should any one bear me

His sole precaution is to provide something for the unfortunate poor
when he is gone: he bequeaths in his will 18,000 livres to the poor,
and, on the eve of his death, sends 100 crowns to the bureau of
charity. But what avail self-abnegation and beneficence against
blind, insane rage! On the 9th of September, three loads of flour
proving to be unsound, the people collect and shout out,

"Down with the flour-dealers! Down with machinery! Down with the
mayor! Death to the mayor, and let Truelle be put in his place! "

Huez, on leaving his court-room, is knocked down, murdered by kicks
and blows, throttled, dragged to the reception hall, struck on his
head with a wooden-shoe and pitched down the grand staircase. The
municipal officers strive in vain to protect him; a rope is put
around his neck and they begin to drag him along. A priest, who
begs to be allowed at least to save his soul, is repulsed and
beaten. A woman jumps on the prostrate old man, stamps on his face
and repeatedly thrusts her scissors in his eyes. He is dragged
along with the rope around his neck up to the Pont de la Selle, and
thrown into the neighboring ford, and then drawn out, again dragged
through the streets and in the gutters, with a bunch of hay crammed
in his mouth.[23]

In the meantime, his house as well as that of the lieutenant of
police, that of the notary Guyot, and that of M. de Saint-Georges,
are sacked; the pillaging and destruction lasts four hours; at the
notary's house, six hundred bottles of wine are consumed or carried
off; objects of value are divided, and the rest, even down to the
iron balcony, is demolished or broken; the rioters cry out, on
leaving, that they have still to burn twenty-seven houses, and to
take twenty-seven heads. "No one at Troyes went to bed that fatal
night."- During the succeeding days, for nearly two weeks, society
seems to be dissolved. Placards posted about the streets proscribe
municipal officers, canons, divines, privileged persons, prominent
merchants, and even ladies of charity; the latter are so frightened
that they throw up their office, while a number of persons move off
into the country; others barricade themselves in their dwellings and
only open their doors with saber in hand. Not until the 26th does
the orderly class rally sufficiently to resume the ascendancy and
arrest the miscreants. -- Such is public life in France after the
14th of July: the magistrates in each town feel that they are at the
mercy of a band of savages and sometimes of cannibals. Those of
Troyes had just tortured Huez after the fashion of Hurons, while
those of Caen did worse; Major de Belzance, not less innocent, and
under sworn protection,[24] was cut to pieces like Laperouse in the
Fiji Islands, and a woman ate his heart.


Taxes are no longer paid. - Devastation of the Forests. - The new
game laws.

It is, under such circumstances, possible to foretell whether taxes
come in, and whether municipalities that sway about in every popular
breeze will have the authority to collect the odious revenues. --
Towards the end of September,[25] I find a list of thirty-six
committees or municipal bodies which, within a radius of fifty
leagues around Paris, refuse to ensure the collection of taxes. One
of them tolerates the sale of contraband salt, in order not to
excite a riot. Another takes the precaution to disarm the employees
in the excise department. In a third the municipal officers were
the first to provide themselves with contraband salt and contraband

At Peronne and at Ham, the order having come to restore the toll-
houses, the people destroy the soldiers' quarters, conduct all the
employees to their homes, and order them to leave within twenty-four
hours, under penalty of death. After twenty months' resistance
Paris will end the matter by forcing the National Assembly to give
in and by obtaining the final suppression of its octroi.[26] -- Of
all the creditors whose hand each one felt on his shoulders, that of
the exchequer was the heaviest, and now it is the weakest; hence
this is the first whose grasp is to be shaken off; there is none
which is more heartily detested or which receives harsher treatment.
Especially against collectors of the salt-tax, custom-house
officers, and excisemen the fury is universal. These,
everywhere,[27] are in danger of their lives and are obliged to fly.
At Falaise, in Normandy, the people threaten to "cut to pieces the
director of the excise." At Baignes, in Saintonge, his house is
devastated and his papers and effects are burned; they put a knife
to the throat of his son, a child six years of age, saying, "Thou
must perish that there may be no more of thy race."
For four hours the clerks are on the point of being torn to pieces;
through the entreaties of the lord of the manor, who sees scythes
and sabers aimed at his own head, they are released only on the
condition that they "abjure their employment." -- Again, for two
months following the taking of the Bastille, insurrections break out
by hundreds, like a volley of musketry, against indirect taxation.
>From the 23rd of July the Intendant of Champagne reports that "the
uprising is general in almost all the towns under his command." On
the following day the Intendant of Alençon writes that, in his
province, "the royal dues will no longer be paid anywhere." On the
7th of August, M. Necker states to the National Assembly that in the
two intendants' districts of Caen and Alençon it has been necessary
to reduce the price of salt one-half; that "in an infinity of places
" the collection of the excise is stopped or suspended; that the
smuggling of salt and tobacco is done by "convoys and by open force
" in Picardy, in Lorraine, and in the Trois-Évêchés; that the
indirect tax does not come in, that the receivers-general and the
receivers of the taille are "at bay" and can no longer keep their
engagements. The public income diminishes from month to month; in
the social body, the heart, already so feeble, faints; deprived of
the blood which no longer reaches it, it ceases to propel to the
muscles the vivifying current which restores their waste and adds to
their energy.

"All controlling power is slackened," says Necker, "everything is a
prey to the passions of individuals." Where is the power to
constrain them and to secure to the State its dues? -- The clergy,
the nobles, wealthy townsmen, and certain brave artisans and
farmers, undoubtedly pay, and even sometimes give spontaneously.
But in society those who possess intelligence, who are in easy
circumstances and conscientious, form a small select class; the
great mass is egotistic, ignorant, and needy, and lets its money go
only under constraint; there is but one way to collect the taxes,
and that is to extort them. From time immemorial, direct taxes in
France have been collected only by bailiffs and seizures; which is
not surprising, as they take away a full half of the net income.
Now that the peasants of each village are armed and form a band, let
the collector come and make seizures if he dare ! -- " Immediately
after the decree on the equality of the taxes," writes the
provincial commission of Alsace,[28] "the people generally refused
to make any payments, until those who were exempt and privileged
should have been inscribed on the local lists." In many places the
peasants threaten to obtain the reimbursement of their installments,
while in others they insist that the decree should be retrospective
and that the new rate-payers should pay for the past year. "No
collector dare send an official to distrain; none that are sent dare
fulfill their mission." -- " It is not the good bourgeois" of whom
there is any fear, "but the rabble who make the latter and every one
else afraid of them;" resistance and disorder everywhere come from
"people that have nothing to lose." -- Not only do they shake off
taxation, but they usurp property, and declare that, being the
Nation, whatever belongs to the Nation belongs to them. The forests
of Alsace are laid waste, the seignorial as well as communal, and
wantonly destroyed with the wastefulness of children or of maniacs.
"In many places, to avoid the trouble of removing the woods, they
are burnt, and the people content themselves with carrying off the
ashes." -- After the decrees of August 4th, and in spite of the law
which licenses the proprietor only to hunt on his own grounds, the
impulse to break the law becomes irresistible. Every man who can
procure a gun begins operations;[29] the crops which are still
standing are trodden under foot, the lordly residences are invaded
and the palings are scaled; the King himself at Versailles is
wakened by shots fired in his park. Stags, fawns, deer, wild boars,
hares, and rabbits, are slain by thousands, cooked with stolen wood,
and eaten up on the spot. There is a constant discharge of musketry
throughout France for more than two months, and, as on an American
prairie, every living animal belongs to him who kills it. At
Choiseul, in Champagne, not only are all the hares and partridges of
the barony exterminated, but the ponds are exhausted of fish; the
court of the chateau even is entered, to fire on the pigeon-house
and destroy the pigeons, and then the pigeons and fish, of which
they have too many, are offered to the proprietor for sale -- It is
"the patriots" of the village with "smugglers and bad characters"
belonging to the neighborhood who make this expedition; they are
seen in the front ranks of every act of violence, and it is not
difficult to foresee that, under their leadership, attacks on public
persons and public property will be followed by attacks on private
persons and private property.


Attack upon private individuals and private property. - Aristocrats
denounced to the people as their enemies. - Effect of news from
Paris.- Influence of the village attorneys. - Isolated acts of
violence. - A general rising of the peasantry in the east. - War
against the castles, feudal estates, and property. - Preparations
for other Jacqueries.

Indeed, an outlawed class already exists, they are called "
aristocrats." This deadly term, applied at first to the nobles and
prelates in the States-General who declined to take part in the
reunion of the three orders, is extended so as to embrace all whose
titles, offices, alliances, and manner of living distinguish them
from the multitude. That which entitled them to respect is that
which marks them out as objects of ill-will; while the people, who,
though suffering from their privileges, did not regard them
personally with hatred, are now taught to consider them as their
enemies. Each, on his own estate, is held accountable for the evil
designs attributed to his brethren at Versailles, and, on the false
report of a plot at the center, the peasants classify him as one of
the conspirators.[30] Thus does the peasant jacquerie commence, and
the fanatics who have fanned the flame in Paris are to do the same
in the provinces. "You wish to know the authors of the agitation,"
writes a sensible man to the committee of investigation; "you will
find them amongst the deputies of the Third-Estate," and especially
among the attorneys and advocates. "These dispatch incendiary
letters to their constituents, which letters are received by
municipal bodies alike composed of attorneys and of advocates....
they are read aloud in the public squares, while copies of them are
distributed among all the villages. In these villages, if any one
knows how to read besides the priest and the lord of the manor, it
is the legal practitioner," the born enemy of the lord of the manor,
whose place he covets, vain of his oratorical powers, embittered by
his power, and never failing to blacken everything.[31] It is
highly probable that he is the one who composes and circulates the
placards calling on the people, in the King's name, to resort to
violence. -- At Secondigny, in Poitou, on the 23rd of July,[32] the
laborers in the forest receive a letter "which summons them to
attack all the country gentlemen round about, and to massacre
without mercy all those who refuse to renounce their privileges....
promising them that not only will their crimes go unpunished, but
that they will even be rewarded." M. Despretz-Montpezat,
correspondent of the deputies of the nobles, is seized, and dragged
with his son to the dwelling of the procurator-fiscal, to force him
to give his signature; the inhabitants are forbidden to render him
assistance "on pain of death and fire." "Sign," they exclaim, "or we
will tear out your heart, and set fire to this house !" At this
moment the neighboring notary, who is doubtless an accomplice,
appears with a stamped paper, and says to him, "Monsieur, I have
just come from Niort, where the Third-Estate has done the same thing
to all the gentlemen of the town; one, who refused, was cut to
pieces before our eyes." -- "We are compelled to sign renunciations
of our privileges, and give our assent to one and the same taxation,
as if the nobles had not already done so." The band gives notice
that it will proceed in the same fashion with all the chateaux in
the vicinity, and terror precedes or follows them. "Nobody dares
write," M. Despretz sends word; " I attempt it at the risk of my
life." -- Nobles and prelates become objects of suspicion
everywhere; village committees open their letters, and they have to
suffer their houses to be searched.[33] They are forced to adopt
the new cockade: to be a gentleman, and not wear it, is to deserve
hanging. At Mamers, in Maine, M. de Beauvoir refuses to wear it,
and is at the point of being put into the pillory and felled. Near
La F1èche, M. de Brissac is arrested, and a message is sent to Paris
to know if he shall be taken there, "or be beheaded in the
meantime." Two deputies of the nobles, MM. de Montesson and de Vassé
who had come to ask the consent of their constituents to their
joining the Third-Estate, are recognized near Mans; their honorable
scruples and their pledges to the constituents are considered of no
importance, nor even the step that they are now taking to fulfill
them; it suffices that they voted against the Third-Estate at
Versailles; the populace pursues them and breaks up their carriages,
and pillages their trunks. -- Woe to the nobles, especially if they
have taken any part in local rule, and if they are opposed to
popular panics! M. Cureau, deputy-mayor of Mans,[34] had issued
orders during the famine, and, having retired to his chateau of
Nouay, had told the peasants that the announcement of the coming of
brigands was a false alarm; he thought that it was not necessary to
sound the alarm bell, and all that was necessary was that they
should remain quiet. Accordingly he is set down as being in league
with the brigands, and besides this he is a monopolist, and a buyer
of standing crops. The peasants lead him off; along with his son-
in-law, M. de Montesson, to the neighboring village, where there
are judges. On the way "they dragged their victims on the ground,
pummeled them, trampled on them, spit in their faces, and besmeared
them with filth." M. de Montesson is shot, while M. Cureau is killed
by degrees; a carpenter cuts off the two heads with a double-edged
ax, and children bear them along to the sound of drums and violins.
Meanwhile, the judges of the place, brought by force, draw up an
official report stating the finding of thirty louis and several
bills of the Banque d'Escompte in the pockets of M. de Cureau, on
the discovery of which a shout of triumph is set up: this evidence
proves that they were going to buy up the standing wheat ! -- Such
is the course of popular justice. Now that the Third-Estate has
become the nation, every mob thinks that it has the right to
pronounce sentences, which it carries out, on lives and on

These explosions are isolated in the western, central and southern
provinces; the conflagration, however, is universal in the east. On
a strip of ground from thirty to fifty leagues broad, extending from
the extreme north down to Provence. Alsace, Franche-Comté,
Burgundy, Mâconnais, Beaujolais, Auvergne, Viennois, Dauphiny, the
whole of this territory resembles a continuous mine which explodes
at the same time. The first column of flame which shoots up is on
the frontiers of Alsace and Franche-Comté, in the vicinity of
Belfort and Vésoul, a feudal district, in which the peasant, over-
burdened with taxes, bears the heavier yoke with greater impatience.
An instinctive argument is going on in his mind without his knowing
it. "The good Assembly and the good King want us to be happy,
suppose we help them! They say that the King has already relieved us
of the taxes, suppose we relieve ourselves of paying rents! Down
with the nobles! They are no better than the tax-collectors! " -- On
the 16th of July, the chateau of Sancy, belonging to the Princesses
de Beaufremont, is sacked, and on the 18th those of Lure, Bithaine,
and Molans.[35] On the 29th, an accident which occurs with some
fire-works at a popular festival at the house of M. de Mesmay, leads
the lower class to believe that the invitation extended to them was
a trap, and that there was a desire to get rid of them by
treachery.[36] Seized with rage they set fire to the chateau, and
during the following week[37] destroy three abbeys, ruin eleven
chateaux and pillage others. " All records are destroyed, the
registers and court-rolls are carried off; and the deposits
violated." -- Starting from this spot, "the hurricane of
insurrection" stretches over the whole of Alsace from Huningue to
Landau.[38] The insurgents display placards, signed Louis, stating
that for a certain lapse of time they shall be permitted to exercise
justice themselves, and, in Sundgau, a well-dressed weaver,
decorated with a blue belt, passes for a prince, the King's second
son. They begin by falling on the Jews, their hereditary leeches;
they sack their dwellings, divide their money among themselves, and
hunt them down like so many fallow-deer. At Bâle alone, it is said
that twelve hundred of these unfortunate fugitives arrived with
their families. -- The distance between the Jew creditor and the
Christian proprietor is not great, and this is soon cleared.
Remiremont is only saved by a detachment of dragoons. Eight hundred
men attack the chateau of Uberbrünn. The abbey of Neubourg is taken
by storm. At Guebwiller, on the 31st of July, five hundred
peasants, subjects of the abbey of Murbach, make a descent on the
abbot's palace and on the house of the canons. Cupboards, chests,
beds, windows, mirrors, frames, even the tiles of the roof and the
hinges of the casements are hacked to pieces: "They kindle fires on
the beautiful inlaid floors of the apartments, and there burn up the
library and the title-deeds." The abbot's superb carriage is so
broken up that not a wheel remains entire. "Wine streams through
the cellars. One cask of sixteen hundred measures is half lost; the
plate and the linen are carried off." -- Society is evidently being
overthrown, while with the power, property is changing hands.

These are their very words. In Franche-Comte[39] the inhabitants of
eight communes come and declare to the Bernardins of Grâce-Dieu and
of Lieu-Croissant "that, being of the Third-Estate, it is time now
for the people to rule over abbots and monks, considering that the
domination of the latter has lasted too long," and thereupon they
carry off all the titles to property and to rentals belonging to the
abbey in their commune. In Upper Dauphiny, during the destruction
of M. de Murat's chateau, a man named Ferréol struck the furniture
with a big stick, exclaiming, "Hey, so much for you, Murat; you have
been master a good while, now it's our turn!"[40] Those who rifle
houses, and steal like highway robbers, think that they are
defending a cause, and reply to the challenge, "Who goes there?" "We
are for the brigand Third-Estate!" -- Everywhere the belief prevails
that they are clothed with authority, and they conduct themselves
like a conquering horde under the orders of an absent general. At
Remiremont and at Luxeuil they produce an edict, stating that "all
this brigandage, pillage, and destruction" is permitted. In
Dauphiny, the leaders of the bands say that they possess the King's
orders. In Auvergne, "they follow imperative orders, being advised
that such is his Majesty's will." Nowhere do we see that an
insurgent village exercises personal vengeance against its lord. If
the people fire on the nobles they encounter, it is not through
personal hatred. They are destroying the class, and do not pursue
individuals. They detest feudal privileges, holders of charters,
the cursed parchments by virtue of which they are made to pay, but
not the nobleman who, when he resides at home, is of humane
intentions, compassionate, and even often beneficent. At Luxeuil,
the abbot, who is forced with uplifted ax to sign a relinquishment
of his seignorial rights over twenty-three estates, has dwelt among
them for forty-six years, and has been wholly devoted to them.[41]
In the canton of Crémieu, "where the havoc is immense," all the
nobles, write the municipal officers, are "patriots and benevolent."
In Dauphiny, the engineers, magistrates, and prelates, whose
chateaux are sacked, were the first to espouse the cause of the
people and of public liberties against the ministers. In Auvergne,
the peasants themselves "manifest a good deal of repugnance to act
in this way against such kind masters." But it must be done; the
only concession which can be made in consideration of the kindness
which had been extended to them is, not to burn the chateau of the
ladies of Vanes, who had been so charitable; but they burn all their
title-deeds, and torture the business agent at three different times
by fire, to force him to deliver a document which he does not
possess; they then only withdraw him from the fire half-broiled,
because the ladies, on their knees, implore mercy for him. They are
like the soldiers on a campaign who execute orders with docility,
for which necessity is the only plea, and who, without regarding
themselves as brigands, commit acts of brigandage.

But here the situation is more tragic, for it is war in the midst of
peace, a war of the brutal and barbaric multitude against the highly
cultivated, well-disposed and confiding, who had not anticipated
anything of the kind, who had not even dreamt of defending
themselves, and who had no protection. The Comte de Courtivron,
with his family, was staying at the watering-place of Luxeuil with
his uncle, the Abbé of Clermont-Tonnerre, an old man of seventy
years. On the 19th of July, fifty peasants from Fougerolle break
into and demolish everything in the houses of an usher and a
collector of the excise. Thereupon the mayor of the place intimates
to the nobles and magistrates who are taking the waters, that they
had better leave the house in twenty-four hours, as "he had been
advised of an intention to burn the houses in which they were
staying," and he did not wish to have Luxeuil exposed to this danger
on account of their presence there. The following day, the guard,
as obliging as the mayor, allows the band to enter the town and to
force the abbey: the usual events follow, renunciations are
extorted, records and cellars are ransacked, plate and other effects
are stolen. M. de Courtivron escaping with his uncle during the
night, the alarm bell is sounded and they are pursued, and with
difficulty obtain refuge in Plombières. The bourgeoisie of
Plombières, however, for fear of compromising themselves, oblige
them to depart. On the road two hundred insurgents threaten to kill
their horses and to smash their carriage, and they only find safety
at last at Porentruy, outside of France. On his return, M. de
Courtivron is shot at by the band which has just pillaged the abbey
of Lure, and they shout out at him as he passes, "Let's massacre the
nobles!" Meanwhile, the chateau of Vauvilliers, to which his sick
wife had been carried, is devastated from top to bottom; the mob
search for her everywhere, and she only escapes by hiding herself in
a hay-loft. Both are anxious to fly into Burgundy, but word is sent
them that at Dijon "the nobles are blockaded by the people," and
that, in the country, they threaten to set their houses on fire. --
There is no asylum to be had, either in their own homes nor in the
homes of others, nor in places along the roads, fugitives being
stopped in all the small villages and market-towns. In Dauphiny[42]
"the Abbess of St. Pierre de Lyon, one of the nuns, M. de Perrotin,
M. de Bellegarde, the Marquis de la Tour-du-Pin, and the Chevalier
de Moidieu, are arrested at Champier by the armed population, led to
the Côte Saint-André, confined in the town-hall, whence they send to
Grenoble for assistance," and, to have them released, the Grenoble
Committee is obliged to send commissioners. Their only refuge is in
the large cities, where some semblance of a precarious order exists,
and in the ranks of the City Guards, which march from Lyons, Dijon,
and Grenoble, to keep the inundation down. Throughout the country
scattered chateaux are swallowed up by the popular tide, and, as the
feudal rights are often in plebeian hands, it insensibly rises
beyond its first overflow. -- There is no limit to an insurrection
against property. This one extends from abbeys and chateaux to the
"houses of the bourgeoisie."[43] The grudge at first was confined
to the holders of charters; now it is extended to all who possess
anything. Well-to-do farmers and priests abandon their parishes and
fly to the towns. Travelers are put to ransom. Thieves, robbers,
and returned convicts, at the head of armed bands, seize whatever
they can lay their hands on. Cupidity becomes inflamed by such
examples; on domains which are deserted and in a state of confusion,
where there is nothing to indicate a master's presence, all seems to
lapse to the first comer. A small farmer of the neighborhood has
carried away wine and returns the following day in search of hay.
All the furniture of a chateau in Dauphin is removed, even to the
hinges of the doors, by a large reinforcement of carts. -- " It is
the war of the poor against the rich," says a deputy, "and, on the
3rd of August, the Committee on Reports declares to the National
Assembly "that no kind of property has been spared." In Franche-
Comté, "nearly forty chateaux and seignorial mansions have been
pillaged or burnt."[44] From Lancers to Gray about three out of
five chateaux are sacked. In Dauphin twenty-seven are burned or
destroyed; five in the small district of Viennese, and, besides
these, all the monasteries -- nine at least in Auvergne, seventy-
two, it is said, in Mâconnais and Beaujolais, without counting those
of Alsace. On the 31st of July, Lally-Tollendal, on entering the
tribune, has his hands full of letters of distress, with a list of
thirty-six chateaux burnt, demolished, or pillaged, in one province,
and the details of still worse violence against persons:[45]

"in Languedoc, M. de Barras, cut to pieces in the presence of his
wife who is about to be confined, and who is dead in consequence; in
Normandy, a paralytic gentleman left on a burning pile and taken off
from it with his hands burnt; in Franche-Comté, Madame de Bathilly
compelled, with an ax over her head, to give up her title-deeds and
even her estate; Madame de Listenay forced to do the same, with a
pitchfork at her neck and her two daughters in a swoon at her feet;
Comte de Montjustin, with his wife, having a pistol at his throat
for three hours; and both dragged from their carriage to be thrown
into a pond, where they are saved by a passing regiment of soldiers;
Baron de Montjustin, one of the twenty-two popular noblemen,
suspended for an hour in a well, listening to a discussion whether
he shall be dropped down or whether he should die in some other way;
the Chevalier d'Ambly, torn from his chateau and dragged naked into
the village, placed on a dung-heap after having his eyebrows and all
his hair pulled out, while the crowd kept on dancing around him."

In the midst of a disintegrated society, under the semblance only of
a government, it is manifest that an invasion is under way, an
invasion of barbarians which will complete by terror that which it
has begun by violence, and which, like the invasions of the Normans
in the tenth and eleventh centuries, ends in the conquest and
dispossession of an entire class. In vain the National Guard and
the other troops that remain loyal succeed in stemming the first
torrent; in vain does the Assembly hollow out a bed for it and
strive to bank it in by fixed boundaries. The decrees of the 4th of
August and the regulations which follow are but so many spiders'
webs stretched across a torrent. The peasants, moreover, putting
their own interpretation on the decrees, convert the new laws into
authority for continuing in their course or beginning over again.
No more rents, however legitimate, however legal!

"Yesterday,"[46] writes a gentleman of Auvergne, we were notified
that the fruit-tithe (percières) would no longer be paid, and that
the example of other provinces was only being followed which no
longer, even by royal order, pay tithes." In Franche-Comté "numerous
communities are satisfied that they no longer owe anything either to
the King or to their lords. . . . The villages divide amongst
themselves the fields and woods belonging to the nobles." --

It must be noted that charter-holding and feudal titles are still
intact in three-fourths of France, that it is the interest of the
peasant to ensure their disappearance, and that he is always armed.
To secure a new outbreak of jacqueries, it is only necessary that
central control, already thrown into disorder, should be withdrawn.
This is the work of Versailles and of Paris; and there, at Paris as
well as at Versailles, some, through lack of foresight and
infatuation, and others, through blindness and indecision -- the
latter through weakness and the former through violence -- all are
laboring to accomplish it.



[1] Dusaulx, 374. " I remarked that if there were a few among the
people at that time who dared commit crime, there were several who
wished it, and that every one endured it." -- " Archives
Nationales," DXXIX, 3. (Letter of the municipal authorities of
Crémieu, Dauphiny, November 3, 1789.) "The care taken to lead them
first to the cellars and to intoxicate them, can alone give a
conception of the incredible excesses of rage to which they gave
themselves up in the sacking and burning of the chateaux."

[2] Mercure de France, January 4, 1792. ("Revue politique de
l'année 1791," by Mallet du Pan.)

[3] Albert Babeau, I. 206. (Letter of the deputy Camuzet de
Belombre, August 22, 1789.) The executive power is absolutely gone
to-day." -- Gouverneur Morris, letter of July 31, 1789: "This
country is now as near in a state of anarchy as it is possible for a
community to be without breaking up."

[4] "Archives Nationales," H. 1453. Letter of M. Amelot, July
24th; H. 784, of M. de Langeron, October 16th and 18th . -- KK.
1105. correspondence of M. de Thiard, October 7th and 30th,
September 4th. -- Floquet, VII. 527, 555. - Guadet, "Histoire
des Girondins" (July 29, 1789).

[5] M. de Rochambeau, "Mémoires," I. 353 (July 18th). - Sauzay,
"Histoire de la Persécution Révolutionnaire dans le Département de
Doubs," I. 128 (July 19th.) -- "Archives Nationales," F7, 3253.
(Letter of the deputies of the provincial commission of Alsace,
September 8th.) D. XXIX. I. note of M. de Latour-du-Pin, October
28, 1789. - Letter of M. de Langeron, September 3rd; of Breitman,
garde-marteau, Val Saint-Amarin (Upper Alsace), July 26th.

[6] Léonce de Lavergne, 197. (Letter of the intermediate commission
of Poitou, the last month in 1789.) -- Cf. Brissot (Le patriote
français, August, 1789). "General insubordination prevails in the
provinces because the restraints of executive power are no longer
felt. What were but lately the guarantees of that power? The
intendants, tribunals, and the army. The intendants are gone, the
tribunals are silent, and the army is against the executive power
and on the side of the people. Liberty is not a nourishment for
unprepared stomachs."

[7] "Archives Nationales," D. XXIX. I. (Letter of the clergy,
consuls, présidial-councillors and principal merchants of Puy-en-
Velay, September 16, 1789.) -- H. 1453. (letter of the Intendant
or Alençon, July 18th). "I must not leave you in ignorance of the
multiplied outbreaks we have in all parts of my jurisdiction. The
impunity with which they flatter themselves, because the judges are
afraid of irritating the people by examples of severity, only
emboldens them. Mischief-makers, confounded with honest folks,
spread false reports about particular persons whom they accuse of
concealing grain, or of not belonging to the Third-Estate, and,
under this pretext, they pillage their houses, taking whatever they
can find, the owners only avoiding death by flight."

[8] A body of magistrates forming one of the lower tribunals.-[Tr.]

[9] "Archives Nationales," H. 942. (Observations of M. de
Ballainvilliers, October 30, 1789.)

[10] "Archives Nationales," D, XXIX. 1. Letter of the municipal
assembly of Louviers, the end of August, 1789. - Letter of the
communal assembly of Saint-Bris (bailiwick of Auxerre), September
25th. - Letter of the municipal officers of Ricey-Haut, near Bar-
sur-Seine, August 25th; of the Chevalier d'Allouville, September

[11] "Archives Nationales," D, XXIX. I. Letter of M. Briand-
Delessart (Angoulême, August 1st). -- Of M. Bret, Lieutenant-
General of the provostship of Mardogne, September 5th. -- Of the
Chevalier de Castellas (Auvergue), September 15th (relating to the
night between the 2nd and 3rd of August). - Madame Campan, II.

[12] Arthur Young, "Voyages in France," July 24th and 31st, August
13th and 19th.

[13] De Bouillé, 108. - " Archives Nationales," KK. 1105.
Correspondence of M. deThiard, September 20, 1789 (apropos of one
hundred guns given to the town of Saint-Brieuc). "They are not of
the slightest use, but this passion for arms is a temporary epidemic
which must be allowed to subside of itself. People are determined
to believe in brigands and in enemies, whereas neither exist." --
September 25th, "Vanity alone impels them, and the pride of having
cannon is their sole motive."

[14] "Archives Nationales," H. 1453. Letters of M. Amelot, July
17th and 24th. "Several wealthy private persons of the town
(Auxonne) have been put to ransom by this band, of which the largest
portion consists of ruffians." - Letter of nine cultivators of
Breteuil (Picardy) July 23rd (their granaries were pillaged up to
the last grain the previous evening). "They threaten to pillage our
crops and set our barns on fire as soon as they are full. M.
Tassard, the notary, has been visited in his house by the populace,
and his life has been threatened." Letter of Moreau, Procureur du
Roi at the Senechal's Court at Bar-le-Duc, September 15, 1789, D,
XXIX, 1. "On the 27th of July the people rose and most cruelly
assassinated a merchant trading in wheat. On the 27th and 28th his
house and that of another were sacked," etc.

[15] Chronicle of Dominick Schmutz ("Revue d'Alsace," V. III. 3rd
series. These are his own expressions: Gesindel, Lumpen-gesindel.
-- De Rochambeau, "Mémoires," I. 353. - Arthur Young (an eye-
witness), July 21st. -- Of Dampmartin (eye-witness), I. 105. M.
de Rochambeau shows the usual indecision and want of vigor: whilst
the mob are pillaging houses and throwing things out of the windows,
he passes in front of his regiments (8,000 men) drawn up for action,
and says, "My friends, my good friends, you see what is going on.
How horrible! Alas! these are your papers, your titles and those of
your parents." The soldiers smile at this sentimental prattle.

[16] Dumouriez (an eye-witness), book III. ch. 3. - The trial
was begun and judgment given by twelve lawyers and an assessor, whom
the people, in arms, had themselves appointed. -- Hippeau, IV.

[17] Archives Nationales," F7 3248. (Letter of the mayor, M.
Poussiaude de Thierri, September 11th.)

[18] Floquet, VII. 551.

[19] De Goncourt, "La Société française pendant la Révolution," 37.

[20] "Archives Nationales," D. XXIX. 1. Letter of the officers of
the bailiwick of Dôle, August 24th. - Sauzay I. 128.

[21] There is a similar occurrence at Strasbourg, a few days after
the sacking of the town-hall. The municipality having given each
man of the garrison twenty sous, the soldiers abandon their post,
set the prisoners free at the Pont-Couvert, feast publicly in the
streets with the women taken out of the penitentiary, and force
innkeepers and the keepers of drinking-places to give up their
provisions. The shops are all closed, and, for twenty-four hours,
the officers are not obeyed. (De Dampmartin, I. 105.)

[22] Albert Babeau, I. 187-273. -- Moniteur, II. 379. (Extract
from the provost's verdict of November 27, 1789.)

[23] Moniteur, ibid. Picard, the principal murderer, confessed
"that he had made him suffer a great deal; that the said sieur Huez
did not die until they came near the Chaudron Inn ; that he
nevertheless intended to make him suffer more by stabbing him in the
neck at the corner of each street, (and) by contriving it so that he
might do it often, as long as there was life in him; that the day on
which M. Huez died yielded him ten francs, together with the neck-
buckle of M. Hues, found on him when he was arrested in his flight."

[24] Mercure de France, , September 26, 1789. Letters of the
officers of the Bourbon regiment and of members of the general
committee of Caen. - Floquet, VII. 545.

[25] "Archives Nationales," H. 1453. - Ibid. D. XXIX. I.
Note of M. de la Tour-du-Pin, October 28th.

[26] Decree, February 5, 1789, enforced May 1st following.

[27] "Archives Nationales," D. XXIX. I. Letter of the count de
Montausier, August 8th, with notes by M. Paulian, director of the
excise (an admirable letter, modest and liberal, and ending by
demanding a pardon for people led astray). -- H. 1453. Letter of
the attorney of the election district of Falaise, July 17th, etc. -
- Moniteur, I. 303, 387, 505 (sessions of August 7th and 27th and
of September 23rd). "The royal revenues are diminishing steadily."
-- Buchez and Roux, III. 219 (session of October 24, 1789).
Discourse of a deputation from Anjou: "Sixty thousand men are armed;
the barriers have been destroyed, the clerks' horses have been sold
by auction; the employees have been told to withdraw from the
province within eight days. The inhabitants have declared that they
will not pay taxes so long as the salt-tax exists.

[28] "Archives Nationales,"F7 3253 (Letter of September 8, 1789).

[29] Arthur Young, September 30th. "It is being said that every
rusty gun in Provence is at work, killing all sorts of birds; the
shot has fallen five or six times in my chaise and about my ears." -
- Beugnot, I.142. - "Archives Nationales," D. XXIX. I. Letter
of the Chevalier d'Allonville, September 8, 1789 (Near Bar-sur-
Aube). "The peasants go in armed bands into the woods belonging to
the Abbey of Trois-Fontaines, which they cut down. They saw up the
oaks and transport them on wagons to Pont-Saint-Dizier, where they
sell them. In other places they fish in the ponds and break the

[30] "Archives Nationales," D. XXIX. 1. Letter of the assessor of
the police of Saint-Flour, October 3, 1789. On the 31st of July, a
rumor is spread that the brigands are coming. On the 1st of August
the peasants arm themselves. "They amuse themselves by drinking,
awaiting the arrival of the brigands; the excitement increases to
such an extent as to make them believe that M. le Comte d'Espinchal
had arrived in disguise the evening before at Massiac, that he was
the author of the troubles disturbing the province at this time, and
that he was concealed in his chateau." On the strength of this shots
are fired into the windows, and there are searches, etc.

[31] "Archives Nationales," D, XXIX, I, Letter of Etienne Fermier,
Naveinne, September 18th (it is possible that the author, for the
sake of caution, took a fictitious name). - The manuscript
correspondence of M. Boullé, deputy of Pontivy, to his constituents,
is a type of this declamatory and incendiary writing. - Letter of
the consuls, priests, and merchants of Puy-en-Velay, September 16th.
- " The Ancient Régime," p. 396.

[32] "Archives Nationales," D. XXIX. 1. Letter of M. Despretz-
Montpezat, a former artillery officer, July 24th (with several other
signatures). On the same day the alarm bell is sounded In fifty
villages on the rumor spreading that 7,000 brigands, English and
Breton, were invading the country.

[33] "Archives Nationales," D. XXIX. I. Letter of Briand-
Delessart, August 1st (domiciliary visits to the Carmelites of
Angoulême where it is pretended that Mme. de Polignac has just
arrived. - Beugnot, I. 140. -- Arthur Young, July 20th, etc. -
Buchez and Roux, IV. 166. Letter of Mamers, July 24th; of Mans,
July 26th.

[34] Montjoie, ch. LXXII, p. 93 (according to acts of legal
procedure). There was a soldier in the band who had served under M.
de Montesson and who wanted to avenge himself for the punishments he
had undergone in the regiment.

[35] Mercure de France, August 20th (Letter from Vésoul, August

[36] M. de Memmay proved his innocence later on, and was
rehabilitated by a public decision after two years' proceedings
(session of June 4, 1791; Mercure of June 11th).

[37] Journal des Débats et Décrets, I. 258. (Letter of the
municipality of Vésoul, July 22nd. -- Discourse of M. de
Toulougeon, July 29th.)

[38] De Rochambeau, "Mémoires," I. 353. -- "Archives Nationales,"
F7, 3253. (Letter of M. de Rochamheau, August 4th.) -- Chronicle
of Schmutz (ibid. ), p. 284. "Archives Nationales," D. XXIX. I.
(Letter of Mme. Ferrette, of Remiremont, August 9th.)

[39] Sauzay, I. 180. (Letters of monks, July 22nd and 26th.)

[40] "Archives Nationales," D. XXIX. I. (Letter of M. de
Bergeron, attorney to the présidial of Valence, August 28th, with
the details of the verdict stated.) Official report of the militia
of Lyons, sent to the president of the National Assembly, August
10th. (Expedition to Serrière, in Dauphiny, July 31st.)

[41] Letter of the Count of Courtivron, deputy substitute (an eye-
witness). -- "Archives Nationales," D. XXIX. I. Letter of the
municipal officers of Crémieu (Dauphiny), November 3rd. Letter of
the Vicomte de Carbonnière (Auvergne), August 3rd. -- Arthur Young,
July 30th (Dijon) says, apropos of a noble family which escaped
almost naked from its burning chateau, " they were esteemed by the
neighbors; their virtues ought to have commanded the love of the
poor, for whose resentment there was no cause."

[42] "Archives Nationales," XXIX. I. (Letter of the commission of
the States of Dauphiny, July 31st.)

[43] "Désastres du Mâconnais," by Puthod de la Maison-Rouge (August,
1789). "Ravages du Mâconnais." -- Arthur Young, July 27th. -
Buchez and Roux, IV. 215, 214. -- Mercure de France, September 12,
1789. (Letter by a volunteer of Orleans.) "On the 15th of August,
eighty-eight ruffians, calling themselves reapers, present
themselves at Bascon, in Beauce, and, the next day, at a chateau in
the neighborhood, where they demand within an hour the head of the
son of the lord of the manor, M. Tassin, who can only redeem himself
by a contribution of 1,600 livres and the pillaging of his cellars.

[44] Letter of the Count de Courtivron. - Arthur Young, July 31st.
- Buchez and Roux, II. 243. - Mercure de France, August 15, 1789
(sitting of the 8th, discourse of a deputy from Dauphiné.) --
Mermet, "Histoire de la Ville de Vienne," 445 -- " Archives
Nationales," ibid. (Letter of the commission of the States of
Dauphiny, July 31st.) -- "The list of burnt or devastated chateaux
is immense." The committee already cites sixteen of them. --
Puthod de la Maison-Rouge, ibid. : "Were all devastated places to
be mentioned, it would be necessary to cite the whole province "
(Letter from Mâcon). "They have not the less destroyed most of the
chateaux and bourgeois dwellings, either burning them and or else
tearing them down."

[45] Lally-Tollendal, "Second Letter to my Constituents," 104.

[46] Doniol, "La Révolution et la Féodalité," p.60 (a few days after
the 4th of August). - "Archives Nationales," H. 784. Letters of
M. de Langeron, military commander at Besançon, October 16th and
18th . -- Ibid. , D. XXIX. I. Letter of the same, September
3rd.-- Arthur Young (in Provence, at the house of Baron de la Tour-
d'Aignes). "The baron is an enormous sufferer by the Revolution; a
great extent of country which belonged in absolute right to his
ancestors, has been granted for quit-rents, ceus, and other feudal
payments, so that there is no comparison between the lands retained
and those thus granted by his family. . . . The solid payments
which the Assembly have declared to be redeemable are every hour
falling to nothing, without a shadow of recompense . . . The
situation of the nobility in this country is pitiable; they are
under apprehensions that nothing will be left them, but simply such
houses as the mob allows to stand unburned; that the small farmers
will retain their farms without paying the landlord his half of the
produce; and that, in case of such a refusal, there is actually
neither law nor authority in the country to prevent it. This
chateau, splendid even in ruins, with the fortune and lives of the
owners, is at the mercy of an armed rabble."



Paris. -- Powerlessness and discords of the authorities. -- The
people, king.

THE powerlessness, indeed, of the heads of the Government, and the
lack of discipline among all its subordinates, are much greater in
the capital than in the provinces. -- Paris possesses a mayor,
Bailly; but "from the first day, and in the easiest manner
possible,"[1] his municipal council, that is to say, "the assembly
of the representatives of the commune, has accustomed itself to
carry on the government alone, overlooking him entirely." There is a
central administration, the municipal council, presided over by the
mayor; but, "at this time, authority is everywhere except where the
preponderating authority should be; the districts have delegated it
and at the same time retained it;" each of them acts as if it were
alone and supreme. -- There are secondary powers, the district-
committees, each with its president, its clerk, its offices, and
commissioners; but the mobs of the street march on without awaiting
their orders; while the people, shouting under their" windows,
impose their will on them; -- in short, says Bailly again,
"everybody knew how to command, but nobody knew how to obey."

"Imagine," writes Loustalot[2] himself; "a man whose feet, hands,
and limbs possessed each its own intelligence and will, whose one
leg would wish to walk when the other one wanted to rest, whose
throat would close when the stomach demanded food, whose mouth would
sing when the eyelids were weighed down with sleep; and you will
have a striking picture of the condition of things in the capital"

There are "sixty Republics"[3] in Paris; each district is an
independent, isolated power, which receives no order without
criticizing it, always in disagreement and often in conflict with
the central authority or with the other districts. It receives
denunciations, orders domiciliary visits, sends deputations to the
National Assembly, passes resolutions, posts its bills, not only in
its own quarter but throughout the city, and sometimes even extends
its jurisdiction outside of Paris. Everything comes within its
province, and particularly that which ought not to do so. -- On the
18th of July, the district of Petits-Augustins[4] "decrees in its
own name the establishment of justices of the peace," under the
title of tribunes, and proceeds at once to elect its own, nominating
the actor Molé. On the 30th, that of the Oratoire annuls the
amnesty which the representatives of the commune in the Hôtel-de-
Ville had granted, and orders two of its members to go to a distance
of thirty leagues to arrest M. de Bezenval. On the 19th of August,
that of Nazareth issues commissions to seize and bring to Paris the
arms deposited in strong places. From the beginning each assembly
sent to the Arsenal in its own name, and "obtained as many
cartridges and as much powder as it desired." Others claim the right
of keeping a watchful eye over the Hôtel-de-Ville and of
reprimanding the National Assembly. The Oratoire decides that the
representatives of the commune shall be invited to deliberate in
public. Saint-Nicholas des Champs deliberates on the veto and begs
the Assembly to suspend its vote. -- It is a strange spectacle,
that of these various authorities each contradicting and destroying
the other. To-day the Hôtel-de-Ville appropriates five loads of
cloth which have been dispatched by the Government, and the district
of Saint-Gervais opposes the decision of the Hôtel-de-Ville. To-
morrow Versailles intercepts grain destined for Paris, while Paris
threatens, if it is not restored, to march on Versailles. I omit
the incidents that are ridiculous:[5] anarchy in its essence is both
tragic and grotesque, and, in this universal breaking up of things,
the capital, like the kingdom, resembles a bear-garden when it does
not resemble a Babel.

But behind all these discordant authorities the real sovereign, who
is the mob, is very soon apparent. -- On the 15th of July it
undertakes the demolition of the Bastille of its own accord, and
this popular act is sanctioned ; for it is necessary that
appearances should be kept up; even to give orders after the blow is
dealt, and to follow when it is impossible to lead.[6] A short time
after this the collection of the octroi at the barriers is ordered
to be resumed; forty armed individuals, however, present themselves
in their district and say, that if guards are placed at the octroi
stations, "they will resist force with force, and even make use of
their cannon." -- On the false rumor that arms are concealed in the
Abbey of Montmartre, the abbess, Madame de Montmorency, is accused
of treachery, and twenty thousand persons invade the monastery. --
The commander of the National Guard and the mayor are constantly
expecting a riot; they hardly dare absent themselves a day to attend
the King fête at Versailles. As soon as the multitude can assemble
in the streets, an explosion is imminent. "On rainy days," says
Bailly, "I was quite at my ease." -- It is under this constant
pressure that the Government is carried on; and the elect of the
people, the most esteemed magistrates, those who are in best repute,
are at the mercy of the throng who clamor at their doors. In the
district of St. Roch,[7] after many useless refusals, the General
Assembly, notwithstanding all the reproaches of its conscience and
the resistance of its reason, is obliged to open letters addressed
to Monsieur, to the Duke of Orleans, and to the Ministers of War, of
Foreign Affairs, and of the Marine. In the committee on
subsistence, M. Serreau, who is indispensable and who is confirmed
by a public proclamation, is denounced, threatened, and constrained
to leave Paris. M. de la Salle, one of the strongest patriots among
the nobles, is on the point of being murdered for having signed an
order for the transport of gunpowder;[8] the multitude, in pursuit
of him, attach a rope to the nearest street-lamp, ransack the Hôtel-
de-Ville, force every door, mount into the belfry, and seek for the
traitor even under the carpet of the bureau and between the legs of
the electors, and are only stayed in their course by the arrival of
the National Guard.

The people not only sentence but they execute, and, as is always the
case, blindly. At Saint-Denis, Chatel, the mayor's lieutenant,
whose duty it is to distribute flour, had reduced the price of bread
at his own expense: on the 3rd of August his house is forced open at
two o'clock in the morning, and he takes refuge in a steeple; the
mob follow him, cut his throat and drag his head along the streets.
-- Not only do the people execute, but they pardon -- and with equal
discernment. On the 11th of August, at Versailles, as a parricide
is about to be broken on the wheel, the crowd demand his release,
fly at the executioner, and set the man free.[9] Veritably this is
sovereign power like that of the oriental sovereign who arbitrarily
awards life or death! A woman who protests against this scandalous
pardon is seized and comes near being hung; for the new monarch
considers as a crime whatever is offensive to his new majesty.
Again, he receives public and humble homage. The Prime Minister, on
imploring the pardon of M. de Bezenval at the Hôtel-de-Ville, in the
presence of the electors and of the public, has put it in
appropriate words:

"It is before the most unknown, the obscurest citizen of Paris that
I prostrate myself; at whose feet I kneel."

A few days before this, at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and at Poissy, the
deputies of the National Assembly not only kneel down in words, but
actually, and for a long time, on the pavement in the street, and
stretch forth their hands, weeping, to save two lives of which only
one is granted to them. - Behold the monarch by these brilliant
signs! Already do the young, who are eager imitators of all actions
that are in fashion, ape them in miniature; during the month which
follows the murder of Berthier and Foulon, Bailly is informed that
the gamins in the streets are parading about with the heads of two
cats stuck on the ends of two poles.[10]

II. .

The distress of the people. - The dearth and the lack of work. -
How men of executive ability are recruited.

A pitiable monarch, whose recognized sovereignty leaves him more
miserable than he was before! Bread is always scarce, and before the
baker's doors the row of waiting people does not diminish. In vain
Bailly passes his nights with the committee on supplies; they are
always in a state of terrible anxiety. Every morning for two months
there is only one or two days' supply of flour, and often, in the
evening, there is not enough for the following morning.[11] The
life of the capital depends on a convoy which is ten, fifteen,
twenty leagues off; and which may never arrive: one convoy of twenty
carts is pillaged on the 18th of July, on the Rouen road; another,
on the 4th of August, in the vicinity of Louviers. Were it not for
Salis' Swiss regiment, which, from the 14th of July to the end of
September, marches day and night as an escort, not a boat-load of
grain would reach Paris from Rouen.[12] -- The commissaries charged
with making purchases or with supervising the expeditions are in
danger of their lives. Those who are sent to provinces are seized,
and a column of four hundred men with cannon has to be dispatched to
deliver them. The one who is sent to Rouen learns that he will be
hung if he dares to enter the place. At Mantes a mob surrounds his
cabriolet, the people regarding whoever comes there for the purpose
of carrying away grain as a public pest; he escapes with difficulty
out of a back door and returns on foot to Paris. -- From the very
beginning, according to a universal rule, the fear of a short supply
helps to augment the famine. Every one lays in a stock for several
days; on one occasion sixteen loaves of four pounds each are found
in an old woman's garret. The bakings, consequently, which are
estimated according to the quantity needed for a single day, become
inadequate, and the last of those who wait at the bakers' shops for
bread return home empty-handed. -- On the other hand the
appropriations made by the city and the State to diminish the price
of bread simply serve to lengthen the rows of those who wait for it;
the countrymen flock in thither, and return home loaded to their
villages. At Saint-Denis, bread having been reduced to two sous the
pound, none is left for the inhabitants. To this constant anxiety
add that of unemployment. Not only is there no certainty of there
being bread at the bakers' during the coming week, but many know
that they will not have money in the coming week with which to buy
bread. Now that security has disappeared and the rights of property
are shaken, work is wanting. The rich, deprived of their feudal
dues, and, in addition thereto of their rents, have reduced their
expenditure; many of them, threatened by the committee of
investigation, exposed to domiciliary visits, and liable to be
informed against by their servants, have emigrated. In the month of
September M. Necker laments the delivery of six thousand passports
in fifteen days to the wealthiest inhabitants. In the month of
October ladies of high rank, refugees in Rome, send word that their
domestics should be discharged and their daughters placed in
convents. Before the end of 1789 there are so many fugitives in
Switzerland that a house, it is said, brings in more rent than it is
worth as capital. With this first emigration, which is that of the
chief spendthrifts, the Count d'Artois, Prince de Conti, Duc de
Bourbon, and so many others, the opulent foreigners have left, and,
at the head of them, the Duchesse de l'Infantado, who spent 800,000
livres a year. There are only three Englishmen in Paris.

It used to be a city of luxury, it was the European hot-house of
costly and refined pleasures, but once the glass was broken then the
delicate plants perish, their lovers leave, and there is no
employment now for the innumerable hands which cultivated them.
Fortunate are they who at the relief works obtain a miserable sum by
handling a pick-axe! "I saw," says Bailly, "mercers, jewellers, and
merchants implore the favor of being employed at twenty sous the
day." Enumerate, if you can, in one or two recognized callings, the
hands which are doing nothing:[13] 1,200 hair-dressers keep about
6,000 journeymen; 2,000 others follow the same calling in private-
houses; 6,000 lackeys do but little else than this work. The body
of tailors is composed of 2,800 masters, who have under them 5,000
workmen. "Add to these the number privately employed -- the
refugees in privileged places like the abbeys of Saint-Germain and
Saint-Marcel, the vast enclosure of the Temple, that of Saint-John
the Lateran, and the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, and you will find at
least 12,000 persons cutting, fitting, and sewing." How many in
these two groups are now idle! How many others are walking the
streets, such as upholsterers, lace-makers, embroiderers, fan-
makers, gilders, carnage-makers, binders, engravers, and all the
other producers of Parisian nick-nacks! For those who are still at
work how many days are lost at the doors of bakers' shops and in
patrolling as National Guards! Gatherings are formed in spite of the
prohibitions of the Hôtel-de-Ville,[14] and the crowd openly discuss
their miserable condition: 3,000 journeymen-tailors near the
Colonnade, as many journeymen-shoemakers in the Place Louis XV., the
journeymen-hairdressers in the Champs-Elysees, 4,000 domestics
without places on the approaches to the Louvre, -- and their
propositions are on a level with their intelligence. Servants
demand the expulsion from Paris of the Savoyards who enter into
competition with them. Journeymen-tailors demand that a day's wages
be fixed at forty sous, and that the old-clothes dealers shall not
be allowed to make new ones. The journeymen-shoemakers declare that
those who make shoes below the fixed price shall be driven out of
the kingdom. Each of these irritated and agitated crowds contains
the germ of an outbreak -- and, in truth, these germs are found on
every pavement in Paris: at the relief works, which at Montmartre
collect 17,000 paupers; in the Market, where the bakers want to hang
the flour commissioners, and at the doors of the bakers, of whom
two, on the 14th of September and on the 5th of October, are
conducted to the lamp post and barely escape with their lives. -- In
this suffering, mendicant crowd, enterprising men become more
numerous every day: they consist of deserters, and from every
regiment; they reach Paris in bands, often 250 in one day. There,
"caressed and fed to the top of their bent,"[15] having received
from the National Assembly 50 livres each, maintained by the King in
the enjoyment of their advance-money, entertained by the districts,
of which one alone incurs a debt of 14,000 livres for wine and
sausages furnished to them, "they accustom themselves to greater
expense," to greater license, and are followed by their companions.
"During the night of the 31st of July the French Guards on duty at
Versailles abandon the custody of the King and betake themselves to
Paris, without their officers, but with their arms and baggage,"
that "they may take part in the cheer which the city of Paris
extends to their regiment." At the beginning of September, 16,000
deserters of this stamp are counted.[16] Now, among those who
commit murder these are in the first rank; and this is not
surprising when we take the least account of their antecedents,
education, and habits. It was a soldier of the "Royal Croat" who
tore out the heart of Berthier. They were three soldiers of the
regiment of Provence who forced the house of Chatel at Saint-Denis,
and dragged his head through the streets. It is Swiss soldiers who,
at Passy, knock down the commissioners of police with their guns.
Their headquarters are at the Palais-Royal, amongst women whose
instruments they are, and amongst agitators from whom they receive
the word of command. Henceforth, all depends on this word, and we
have only to contemplate the new popular leaders to know what it
will be.


The new popular leaders.- Their ascendancy .- Their education. -
Their sentiments.- Their situation. - Their councils. - Their
denunciations. -

Administrators and members of district assemblies, agitators of
barracks, coffee-houses, clubs and public thoroughfares, writers of
pamphlets, penny-a-liners are multiplying as fast as buzzing insects
are hatched on a sultry night. After the 14th of July thousands of
jobs have become available for released ambitions; "attorneys,
notaries' clerks, artists, merchants, shopkeepers, comedians and
especially advocates;[17] each wants to be either an officer, a
director, a councillor, or a minister of the new reign; while
journals, which are established by dozens,[18] form a permanent
tribune, where speakers come to court the people to their personal
advantage." Philosophy, fallen into such hands, seems to parody
itself; and nothing equals its emptiness, unless it be its
mischievousness and success. Lawyers, in the sixty assembly
districts, roll out the high-sounding dogmas of the revolutionary
catechism. This or that one, passing from the question of a party
wall to the constitution of empires, becomes the improvised
legislator, so much the more inexhaustible and the more applauded as
his flow of words, showered upon his hearers, proves to them that
every capacity and every right are naturally and legitimately

"When that man opened his mouth," says a cold-blooded witness, "we
were sure of being inundated with quotations and maxims, often
apropos of street lamp posts, or of the stall of a herb-dealer. His

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