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

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of police, signed notices as such, and paid visits of inspection to
store-houses;" they drew up a tariff of provisions, "from bread and
meat up to common peaches, and peaches of fine quality." They
announced that "whoever dared to dispute it would be considered a
traitor to the country, an adherent of the civil list, and
prosecuted as such." All this is published, proclaimed and applied
by "female commissaries of police," themselves the dregs of the
lowest sinks of corruption. Respectable housewives and workwomen
had nothing to do with it, nor "working-people of any class." The
sole actors of this administrative parody are " scamps, a few
bullies of houses of ill-fame, and a portion of the dregs of the
female sex." - To this end comes the dictatorship of instinct,
yonder let loose on the highway in a massacre of priests, and here,
in the second city of France, in the government of strumpets.


Egotism of the tax-payer. - Issoudun in 1790. - Rebellion against
taxation. - Indirect taxes in 1789 and 1790. - Abolition of the
salt tax, excise, and octrois. - Direct taxation in 1789 and 1790.
- Delay and insufficiency of the returns. - New levies in 1791
and 1792. - Delays, partiality, and concealment in preparing the
rolls. - Insufficiency of, and the delay in, the returns. -
Payment in assignats.- The tax-payer relieves himself of one-half.
- Devastation of the forests. - Division of the communal

The fear of starvation is only the sharper form of a more general
passion, which is the desire of possession and the determination not
to give anything up. No popular instinct, had been longer, more
rudely, more universally offended under the ancient régime; and
there is none which gushes out more readily under constraint, none
which requires a higher or broader public barrier, or one more
entirely constructed of solid blocks, to keep it in check. Hence it
is that this passion from the commencement breaks down or engulfs
the slight and low boundaries, the tottering embankments of
crumbling earth between which the Constitution pretends to confine
it. - The first flood sweeps away the pecuniary claims of the
State, of the clergy, and of the noblesse. The people regard them
as abolished, or, at least, they consider their debts discharged.
Their idea, in relation to this, is formed and fixed; for them it is
that which constitutes the Revolution. The people have no longer a
creditor; they are determined to have none, they will pay nobody,
and first of all, they will make no further payment to the State.

On the 14th of July, 1790, the day of the Federation, the population
of Issoudun, in Touraine, solemnly convoked for the purpose, had
just taken the solemn oath which was to ensure public peace, social
harmony, and respect for the law for evermore.[35] Here, probably,
as elsewhere, arrangements had been made for an stirring ceremonial;
there were young girls dressed in white, and learned and
impressionable magistrates were to pronounce philosophical
harangues. All at once they discover that the people gathered on
the public square are provided with clubs, scythes, and axes, and
that the National Guard will not prevent their use; on the contrary,
the Guard itself is composed almost wholly of wine growers and
others interested in the suppression of the duties on wine, of
coopers, innkeepers, workmen, carters of casks, and others of the
same stamp, all rough fellows who have their own way of interpreting
the Social Contract. The whole mass of decrees, acts, and
rhetorical flourishes which are dispatched to them from Paris, or
which emanate from the new authorities, are not worth a halfpenny
tax maintained on each bottle of wine. There are to be no more
excise duties; they will only take the civic oath on this express
condition, and that very evening they hang, in effigy, their two
deputies, who "had not supported their interests" in the National
Assembly. A few months later, of all the National Guard called upon
to protect the clerks, only the commandant and two officers respond
to the summons. If a docile taxpayer happens to be found, he is not
allowed to pay the dues; this seems a defection and almost
treachery. An entry of three puncheons of wine having been made,
they are stove in with stones, a portion is drunk, and the rest
taken to the barracks to debauch the soldiers; M. de Sauzay,
commandant of the "Royal Roussillon," who was bold enough to save
the clerks, is menaced, and for this misdeed he barely escapes being
hung himself. When the municipal body is called upon to interpose
and employ force, it replies that "for so small a matter, it is not
worth while to compromise the lives of the citizens," and the
regular troops sent to the Hôtel-de-Ville are ordered by the people
not to go except with the but-ends of their muskets in the air.
Five days after this the windows of the excise office are smashed,
and the public notices are torn down; the fermentation does not
subside, and M. de Sauzay writes that a regiment would be necessary
to restrain the town. At Saint-Amand the insurrection breaks out
violently, and is only put down by violence. At Saint-Étienne-en-
Forez, Bertheas, a clerk in the excise office, falsely accused of
monopolizing grain,[36] is fruitlessly defended by the National
Guard; he is put in prison, according to the usual custom, to save
his life, and, for greater security, the crowd insist on his being
fastened by an iron collar. But, suddenly changing its mind, it
breaks upon the door and drags him outside, beating him till he is
unconscious. Stretched on the ground, his head still moves and he
raises his hand to it, when a woman, picking up a large stone,
smashes his skull. - These are not isolated occurrences. During
the months of July and August, 1789, the tax offices are burnt in
almost every town in the kingdom. In vain does the National
Assembly order their reconstruction, insist on the maintenance of
duties and octrois, and explain to the people the public needs,
pathetically reminding them, moreover, that the Assembly has already
given them relief; - the people prefer to relieve themselves
instantly and entirely. Whatever is consumed must no longer be
taxed, either for the benefit of the State or for that of the towns.
"Entrance dues on wine and cattle," writes the municipality of
Saint-Etienne, "scarcely amount to anything, and our powers are
inadequate for their enforcement." At Cambrai, two successive
outbreaks compel the excise office and the magistracy of the
town[37] to reduce the duties on beer one-half. But "the evil, at
first confined to one corner of the province, soon spreads ;" the
grands baillis of Lille, Douai, and Orchies write that "we have
hardly a bureau which has not been molested, and in which the taxes
are not wholly subject to popular discretion." Those only pay who
are disposed to do so, and, consequently, "greater fraud could not
exist." The taxpayers, indeed, cunningly defend themselves, and find
plenty of arguments or quibbles to avoid paying their dues. At
Cambrai they allege that, as the privileged now pay as well as the
rest, the Treasury must be rich enough.[38] At Noyon, Ham, and
Chauny, and in the surrounding parishes, the butchers, innkeepers,
and publicans combined, who have refused to pay excise duties, pick
flaws in the special decree by which the Assembly subjects them to
the law, and a second special decree is necessary to circumvent
these new legal experts. The process at Lyons is simpler. Here the
thirty-two sections appoint commissioners; these decide against the
octroi, and request the municipal authorities to abolish it. They
must necessarily comply, for the people are at hand and are furious.
Without waiting, however, for any legal measures, they take the
authority on themselves, rush to the toll-houses and drive out the
clerks, while large quantities of provisions, which "through a
singular predestination" were waiting at the gates, come in free of
duty. - The Treasury defends itself as it best can against this
universally bad disposition of the tax-payer, against these
irruptions and infiltrations of fraud; it repairs the dike where it
has been carried away, stops up the fissures and again resumes
collections. But how can these be regular and complete in a State
where the courts dare not condemn delinquents, where public force
dares not support the courts,[39] where popular favor protects the
most notorious bandits and the worst vagabonds against the tribunals
and against the public powers? At Paris, where, After eight months
of impunity, proceedings are begun against the pillagers who, on the
13th of August, 1789, set fire to the tax offices, the officers of
the election, "considering that their audiences have become too
tumultuous, that the thronging of the people excites uneasiness,
that threats have been uttered of a kind calculated to create
reasonable alarm," are constrained to suspend their sittings and
refer matters to the National Assembly, while the latter,
considering that "if prosecutions are authorized in Paris it will be
necessary to authorize them throughout the kingdom," decides that it
is best "to veil the statue of the Law."[40]

Not only does the Assembly veil the statue of the Law, but it takes
to pieces, remakes, and mutilates it, according to the requirements
of the popular will; and, in the matter of indirect imposts all its
decrees are forced upon it. The outbreak against the salt impost
was terrible from the beginning; sixty thousand men in Anjou alone
combined to destroy it, and the price of salt had to be reduced from
sixteen to six sous.[41] The people, however, are not satisfied
with this. This monopoly has been the cause of so much suffering
that they are not disposed to put up with any remains of it, and are
always on the side of the smugglers against the excise officers. In
the month of January, 1790, at Béziers, thirty-two employees, who
had seized a quantity of contraband salt on the persons of armed
smugglers,[42] are pursued by the crowd to the Hôtel-de-Ville; the
consuls decline to defend them and run away; the troops defend them,
but in vain. Five are tortured, horribly mutilated, and then hung.
In the month of March, 1790, Necker states that, according to the
returns of the past three months, the deficit in the salt-tax
amounts to more than four millions a month, which is four-fifths of
the ordinary revenue, while the tobacco monopoly is no more
respected than that of salt. At Tours,[43] the bourgeois militia
refuse to give assistance to the employees, and "openly protect
smuggling," "and contraband tobacco is publicly sold at the fair,
under the eyes of the municipal authorities, who dare make no
Opposition to it." All receipts, consequently, diminish at the same
time.[44] From the 1st of May, 1789, to the 1st of May, 1790, the
general collections amount to 127 millions instead of 150 millions;
the dues and excise combined return only 31, instead of 50 millions.
The streams which filled the public exchequer are more and more
obstructed by popular resistance, and under the popular pressure,
the Assembly ends by closing them entirely. In the month of March,
1790,[45] it abolishes salt duties, internal customs-duties, taxes
on leather, on oil, on starch, and the stamp of iron. In February
and March, 1791, it abolishes octrois and entrance-dues in all the
cities and boroughs of the kingdom, all the excise duties and those
connected with the excise, especially all taxes which affect the
manufacture, sale, or circulation of beverages. The people have in
the end prevailed, and on the 1st of May, 1791, the day of the
application of the decree, the National Guard of Paris parades
around the walls playing patriotic airs. The cannon of the
Invalides and those on the Pont-Neuf thunder out as if for an
important victory. There is an illumination in the evening, there
is drinking all night, a universal revel. Beer, indeed, is to be
had at three sous the pot, and wine at six sous a pint, which is a
reduction of one-half; no conquest could be more popular, since it
brings intoxication within easy reach of the thirsty.[46]

The object, now, is to provide for the expenses which have been
defrayed by the suppressed octrois. In 1790, the octroi of Paris
had produced 35,910,859 francs, of which 25,059,446 went to the
State, and 10,851,413 went to the city. How is the city going to
pay for its watch, the lighting and cleaning of its streets, and the
support of its hospitals? What are the twelve hundred other cities
and boroughs going to do which are brought by the same stroke to the
same situation? What will the State do, which, in abolishing the
general revenue from all entrance-dues and excise, is suddenly
deprived of two-fifths of its revenue? - In the month of March,
1790, when the Assembly suppressed the salt and other duties, it
established in the place of these a tax of fifty millions, to be
divided between the direct imposts and dues on entrance to the
towns. Now, consequently, that the entrance-dues are abolished, the
new charge falls entirely upon the direct imposts. Do returns come
in, and will they come in? - In the face of so many outbreaks, any
indirect taxation (VAT) is, certainly, difficult to collect.
Nevertheless it is not so repulsive as the other because the levies
of the State disappear in the price of the article, the hand of the
Exchequer being hidden by the hand of the dealer. The Government
clerk formerly presented himself with his stamped paper and the
seller handed him the money without much grumbling, knowing that he
would soon be more than reimbursed by his customer: the indirect tax
is thus collected. Should any difficulty arise, it is between the
dealer and the taxpayer who comes to his shop to lay in his little
store; the latter grumbles, but it is at the high price which he
feels, and possibly at the seller who pockets his silver; he does
not find fault with the clerk of the Exchequer, whom he does not see
and who is not then present In the collection of the direct tax, on
the contrary, it is the clerk himself whom he sees before him, who
abstracts the precious piece of silver. This authorized robber,
moreover, gives him nothing in exchange; it is an entire loss. On
leaving the dealer's shop he goes away with a jug of wine, a pot of
salt, or similar commodities; on leaving the tax office he has
nothing in hand but an acquittance, a miserable bit of scribbled
paper. - But now he is master in his own commune, an elector, a
National Guard, mayor, the sole authority in the use of armed force,
and charged with his own taxation. Come and ask him to unearth the
buried mite on which he has set all his heart and all his soul, the
earthen pot wherein he has deposited his cherished pieces of silver
one by one, and which he has laid by for so many years at the cost
of so much misery and fasting, in the very face of the bailiff in
spite of the prosecutions of the sub-delegate, commissioner,
collector, and clerk!

>From the 1st of May, 1789, to the 1st of May, 1790,[47] the general
returns, the taille and its accessories, the poll-tax and
"twentieths," instead of yielding 161.000,000 francs, yield but
28,000,000 francs in the provinces which impose their own taxes
(pays d'Etats); instead of 28,000,000 francs, the Treasury obtains
but 6,000,000. On the patriotic contribution which was to deduct
one quarter of all incomes over four hundred livres, and to levy two
and a half per cent. on plate, jewels, and whatever gold and silver
each person has in reserve, the State received 9.700,000 francs. As
to patriotic gifts, their total, comprising the silver buckles of
the deputies, reaches only 361,587 francs; and the closer our
examination into the particulars of these figures, the more do we
see the contributions of the villager, artisan, and former subjects
of the taille diminish. - Since the month of October, 1789, the
privileged classes, in fact, appear in the tax-rolls, and they
certainly form the class which is best off, the most alive to
general ideas and the most truly patriotic. It is therefore
probable that, of the forty-three millions of returns from the
direct imposts and from the patriotic contribution, they have
furnished the larger portion, perhaps two thirds of it, or even
three-quarters. If this be the case, the peasant, the former tax-
payer, gave nothing or almost nothing from his pocket during the
first year of the Revolution. For instance, in regard to the
patriotic contribution, the Assembly left it to the conscience of
each person to fix his own quota; at the end of six months,
consciences are found too elastic, and the Assembly is obliged to
confer this right on the municipalities. The result is[48] that
this or that individual who taxed himself at forty-eight livres, is
taxed at a hundred and fifty; another, a cultivator, who had offered
six livres, is judged to be able to pay over one hundred. Every
regiment contains a small number of select brave men, and it is
always these who are ready to advance under fire. Every State
contains a select few of honest men who advance to meet the tax-
collector. Some effective constraint is essential in the regiment
to supply those with courage who have but little, and in the State
to supply those with probity who do not possess it. Hence, during
the eight months which follow, from May 1st, 1790, to January 1st,
1791, the patriotic contribution furnishes but 11,000,000 livres.
Two years later, on the 1st of February, 1793, out of the forty
thousand communal tax-rolls which should provide for it, there are
seven thousand which are not yet drawn up; out of 180,000,000 livres
which it ought to produce, there are 70,000,000 livres which are
still due. - The resistance of the tax-payer produces a similar
deficit, and similar delays in all branches of the national
income.[49] In the month of June, 1790, a deputy declares in the
tribune that "out of thirty-six millions of imposts which ought to
be returned each month only nine have been received."[50] In the
month of November, 1791, a reporter on the budget states that the
receipts, which should amount to forty or forty-eight millions a
month, do not reach eleven millions and a half. On February 1,
1793, there remains still due on the direct taxes of 1789 and 1790
one hundred and seventy-six millions. It is evident that the people
struggle with all their might against the old taxes, even authorized
and prolonged by the Constituent Assembly, and all that is obtained
from them is wrested from them.

Will the people be more docile under the new taxation? The Assembly
exhorts them to be so and shows them how, with the relief they have
gained and with the patriotism they ought to possess, they can and
should discharge their dues. The people are able to do it because,
having got rid of tithes, feudal dues, the salt-tax, octrois and
excise duties, they are in a comfortable position. They should do
so, because the taxation adopted is indispensable to the State,
equitable, assessed on all in proportion to their fortune, collected
and expended under rigid scrutiny, without perversion or waste,
according to precise, clear, periodical and audited accounts. No
doubt exists that, after the 1st of January, 1791, the date when the
new financial scheme comes into operation, each tax-payer will
gladly pay as a good citizen, and the two hundred and forty millions
of the new tax on real property, and the sixty millions of that on
personal property, leaving out the rest - registries, license, and
customs duties - will flow in regularly and easily of their own

Unfortunately, before the tax-gatherer can collect the first two
levies these have to be assessed, and as there are complicated
writings and formalities, claims to settle amidst great resistance
and local ignorance, the operation is indefinitely prolonged. The
personal and land-tax schedule of 1791 is not transmitted to the
departments by the Assembly until June, 1791. The departments do
not distribute it among the districts until the months of July,
August, and September, 1791. It is not distributed by the districts
among the communes before October, November, and December, 1791.
Thus in the last month of 1791 it is not yet distributed to the tax-
payers by the communes; from which it follows that on the budget of
1791 and throughout that year, the tax-payer has paid nothing. - At
last, in 1792, everybody begins to receive this assessment. It
would require a volume to set forth the partiality and dissimulation
of these assessments. In the first place the office of assessor is
one of danger; the municipal authorities, whose duty it is to assign
the quotas, are not comfortable in their town quarters. Already, in
1790,[51] the municipal officers of Monbazon have been threatened
with death if they dared to tax industrial pursuits on the tax-roll,
and they escaped to Tours in the middle of the night. Even at
Tours, three or four hundred insurgents of the vicinity, dragging
along with them the municipal officers of three market-towns, come
and declare to the town authorities "that for all taxes they will
not pay more than forty-five sous per household." I have already
narrated how, in 1792, in the same department, "they kill, they
assassinate the municipal officers" who presume to publish the tax-
rolls of personal property. In Creuse, at Clugnac, the moment the
clerk begins to read the document, the women spring upon him, seize
the tax-roll, and "tear it up with countless imprecations;" the
municipal council is assailed, and two hundred persons stone its
members, one of whom is thrown down, has his head shaved, and is
promenaded through the village in derision. - When the small tax-
payer defends himself in this manner, it is a warning that he must
be humored. The assessment, accordingly, in the village councils is
made amongst a knot of cronies. Each relieves himself of the burden
by shoving it off on somebody else. "They tax the large
proprietors, whom they want to make pay the whole tax." The noble,
the old seigneur, is the most taxed, and to such an extent that in
many places his income does not suffice to pay his quota. - In the
next place they make themselves out poor, and falsify or elude the
prescriptions of the law. "In most of the municipalities, houses,
tenements, and factories[52] are estimated according to the value of
the area they cover, and considered as land of the first class,
which reduces the quota to almost nothing." And this fraud is not
practiced in the villages alone. "Communes of eight or ten thousand
souls might be cited which have arranged matters so well amongst
themselves in this respect that not a house is to be found worth
more than fifty sous." - Last expedient of all, the commune defers
as long as it can the preparation of its tax-rolls. On the 30th of
January, 1792, out of 40,211, there are only 2,560 which are
complete; on the 5th of October, 1792, the schedules are not made
out in 4,800 municipalities, and it must be noted that all this
relates to a term of administration which has been finished for more
than nine months. At the same date, there are more than six
thousand communes which have not yet begun to collect the land-tax
of 1791, and more than fifteen thousand communes which have not yet
begun to collect the personal tax; the Treasury and the departments
have not yet received 152,000,000 francs, there being still
222,000,000 to collect. On the 1st February, 1793, there still
remains due on the same period 161,000,000 francs, while of the
50,000,000 assessed in 1790, to replace the salt-tax and other
suppressed duties, only 2,000,000 have been collected. Finally, at
the same date, out of the two direct taxes of 1792, which should
produce 300,000,000, less than 4,000,000 have been received. - It
is a maxim of the debtor that he must put off payment as long as
possible. Whoever the creditor may be, the State or a private
individual, a leg or a wing may be saved by dint of procrastination.
The maxim is true, and, on this occasion, success once more
demonstrates its soundness. During the year 1792, the peasant
begins to discharge a portion of his arrears, but it is with
assignats. In January, February, and March, 1792, the assignats
diminish thirty-four, forty-four, and forty-five per cent. in
value; in January, February, and March, 1793, forty-seven and fifty
percent.; in May, June, and July, 1793, fifty-four, sixty, and
sixty-seven per cent. Thus has the old credit of the State melted
away in its hands; those who have held on to their crowns gain fifty
per cent. and more. Again, the greater their delay the more their
debts diminish, and already, on the strength of this, the way to
release themselves at half-price is found.

Meanwhile, hands are laid on the badly defended landed property of
this feeble creditor. - It is always difficult for rude brains to
form any conception of the vague, invisible, abstract entity called
the State, to regard it as a veritable personage and a legitimate
proprietor, especially when they are persistently told that the
State is everybody. The property of all is the property of each,
and as the forests belong to the public, the first-comer has a right
to profit by them. In the month of December, 1789,[53] bands of
sixty men or more chop down the trees in the Bois de Boulogne and at
Vincennes. In April, 1790, in the forest of Saint-Germain, "the
patrols arrest all kinds of delinquents day and night:" handed over
to the National Guards and municipalities in the vicinity, these are
"almost immediately released, even with the wood which they have cut
down against the law." iii There is no means of repressing "the
reiterated threats and insults of the low class of people." A mob of
women, urged on by an old French guardsman, come and pillage under
the nose of the escort a load of faggots confiscated for the benefit
of a hospital; and in the forest itself, bands of marauders fire
upon the patrols. - At Chantilly, three game-keepers are mortally
wounded;[54] both parks are devastated for eighteen consecutive
days; the game is all killed, transported to Paris and sold. - At
Chambord the lieutenant of the constabulary writes to announce his
powerlessness; the woods are ravaged and even burnt; the poachers
are now masters of the situation; breaches in the wall are made by
them, and the water from the pond is drawn off to enable them to
catch the fish. - At Claix, in Dauphiny, an officer of the
jurisdiction of woods and forests, who has secured an injunction
against the inhabitants for cutting down trees on leased ground, is
seized, tortured during five hours, and then stoned to death. - In
vain does the National Assembly issue three decrees and regulations,
placing the forests under the supervision and protection of
administrative bodies, - he latter are too much afraid of their
charge. Between the central power, which is weak and remote, and
the people, present and strong, they always decide in favor of the
latter. Not one of the five municipalities surrounding Chantilly is
disposed to assist in the execution of the laws, while the
directories of the district and department respectively, sanction
their inertia. - Similarly, near Toulouse,[55] where the
magnificent forest of Larramet is devastated in open day and by an
armed force, where the wanton destruction by the populace leaves
nothing of the underwood and shrubbery but "a few scattered trees
and the remains of trunks cut at different heights," the
municipalities of Toulouse and of Tournefeuille refuse all aid. And
worse still, in other provinces, as for instance in Alsace, "whole
municipalities, with their mayors at the head, cut down woods which
are confided to them, and carry them off."[56] If some tribunal is
disposed to enforce the law, it is to no purpose; it takes the risk,
either of not being allowed to give judgment, or of being
constrained to reverse its decision. At Paris the judgment prepared
against the incendiaries of the tax-offices could not be given. At
Montargis, the sentence pronounced against the marauders who had
stolen cartloads of wood in the national forests had to be revised,
and by the judges themselves. The moment the tribunal announced the
confiscation of the carts and horses which had been seized, there
arose a furious outcry against it; the court was insulted by those
present; the condemned parties openly declared that they would have
their carts and horses back by force. Upon this "the judges
withdrew into the council-chamber, and when soon after they resumed
their seats, that part of their decision which related to the
confiscation was canceled."

And yet this administration of justice, ludicrous and flouted as it
may be, is still a sort of barrier. When it falls, along with the
Government, everything is exposed to plunder, and there is no such
thing as public property. - After August 10, 1792, each commune or
individual appropriates whatever comes in its way, either products
or the soil itself. Some of the plunderers go so far as to say
that, since the Government no longer represses them, they act under
its authority.[57] "They have destroyed even the recent plantation
of young trees." "One of the villages near Fontainebleau cleared off
and divided an entire grove. At Rambouillet, from August 10th to
the end of October," the loss is more than 100,000 crowns; the rural
agitators demand with threats the partition of the forest among the
inhabitants. "The destruction is enormous" everywhere, prolonged
for entire months, and of such a kind, says the minister, as to dry
up this source of public revenue for a long time to come. -
Communal property is no more respected than national property. In
each commune, these bold and needy folk, the rural populace, are
privileged to enjoy and make the most of it. Not content with
enjoying it, they desire to acquire ownership of it, and, for days
after the King's fall, the Legislative Assembly, losing its footing
in the universal breaking up, empowers the indigent to put in force
the agrarian law. Henceforth it suffices in any commune for one-
third of its inhabitants of both sexes, servants, common laborers,
shepherds, farm-hands or cowherds, and even paupers, to demand a
partition of the communal possessions. All that the commune owns,
save public edifices and woods, is to be cut up into as many equal
lots as there are heads, the lots to be drawn for, and each
individual to take possession of his or her portion.[58] The
Operation is carried out, for "those who are least well off are
infinitely flattered by it." In the district of Arcis-sur-Aube,
there are not a dozen communes out of ninety in which more than two-
thirds of the voters had the good sense to pronounce against it.
>From this time forth the commune ceases to be an independent
proprietor; it has nothing to fall back upon. In case of distress
it is obliged to lay on extra taxes and obtain, if it can, a few
additional sous. Its future revenue is at present in the tightly
buttoned pockets of the new proprietors. - The prevalence of
short-sighted views is once more due to the covetousness of
individuals. Whether national or communal, it is always public
interest which succumbs, and it succumbs always under the
usurpations of indigent minorities, at one time through the
feebleness of public authority, which dares not oppose their
violence, and at another through the complicity of public authority,
which has conferred upon them the rights of the majority.


Cupidity of tenants. - The third and fourth jacquerie. -
Brittany and other provinces in 1790 and 1791. - The burning of
chateaux. - Title-deeds destroyed. - Refusal of claims. -
Destruction of reservoirs. - Principal characteristics, prime
motive and ruling passion of the revolution

When there is a lack of public force for the protection of public
property, there is also a lack of it for the protection of private
property, for the same greed and the same needs attack both. Let a
man owe anything either to the State or to an individual, and the
temptation not to pay is equally the same. In both cases it
suffices to find a pretext for denying the debt; in finding this
pretext the cupidity of the tenant is as good as the selfishness of
the tax-payer. Now that the feudal system is abolished let nothing
remain of it: let there be no more seignorial claims. "If the
Assembly has maintained some of them, yonder in Paris, it did so
inadvertently or through corruption: we shall soon hear of all being
suppressed. In the meantime we will relieve ourselves, and burn the
agreements in the places where they are kept."

Such being the argument, the jacquerie breaks out afresh: in truth,
it is permanent and universal. Just as in a body in which some of
the elements of its vital substance are affected by an organic
disease, the evil is apparent in the parts which seem to be sound:
even where as yet no outbreak has occurred, one is imminent;
constant anxiety, a profound restlessness, a low fever, denote its
presence. Here, the debtor does not pay, and the creditor is afraid
to prosecute him. In other places isolated eruptions occur. At
Auxon,[59] on an estate spared by the great jacquerie of July, 1789,
the woods are ravaged, and the peasants, enraged at being denounced
by the keepers, march to the chateau, which is occupied by an old
man and a child; everybody belonging to the village is there, men
and women; they hew down the barricaded door with their axes, and
fire on the neighbors who come to the assistance of its inmates. -
In other places, in the districts of Saint-Étienne and Montbrison,
"the trees belonging to the proprietors are carried away with
impunity, and the walls of their grounds and terraces are
demolished, the complainants being threatened with death or with the
sight of the destruction of their dwellings." Near Paris, around
Montargis, Nemours, and Fontainebleau, a number of parishes refuse
to pay the tithes and ground-rent (champart) which the Assembly has
a second time sanctioned; gibbets are erected and the collectors are
threatened with hanging, while, in the neighborhood of Tonnerre, a
mob of debtors fire upon the body of police which comes to enforce
the claims. - Near Amiens, the Comtesse de la Mire,[60] on her
estate of Davencourt, is visited by the municipal authorities of the
village, who request her to renounce her right to ground-rent
(champart) and thirds (tiers). She refuses and they insist, and she
refuses again, when they inform her that " some misfortune will
happen to her." In effect, two of the municipal officers cause the
tocsin to be rung, and the whole village rushes to arms. One of the
domestics has an arm broken by a ball, and for three hours the
countess and her two children are subject to the grossest insults
and to blows: she is forced to sign a paper which she is not allowed
to read, and, in warding off the stroke of a saber, her arm is cleft
from the elbow to the wrist; the chateau is pillaged, and she owes
her escape to the zeal of some of her servants. - Large eruptions
take place at the same time over entire provinces; one succeeds the
other almost without interruption, the fever encroaching on parts
which were supposed to be cured, and to such an extent that the
virulent ulcers finally combine and form one over the whole surface
of the social body.

By the end of December, 1789, the chronic fermentation comes to a
head in Brittany. Imagination, as usual, has forged a plot, and, as
the people say, if they make an attack it is in their own defense.
- A report spreads[61] that M. de Goyon, near Lamballe, has
assembled in his chateau a number of gentlemen and six hundred
soldiers. The mayor and National Guard of Lamballe immediately
depart in force; they find everything tranquil there, and no company
but two or three friends, and no other arms than a few fowling-
pieces. - The impulse, however, is given, and, on the 15th of
January, the great federation of Pontivy has excited the wildest
enthusiasm. The people drink, sing, and shout in honor of the new
decrees before armed peasants who do not comprehend the French
tongue, still less legal terms, and who, on their return home,
arguing with each other in bas-breton, interpret the law in a
peculiar way. "A decree of the Assembly, in their eyes, is a decree
of arrest" and as the principal decrees of the Assembly are issued
against the nobles, they are so many decrees of arrest against them.
- Some days after this, about the end of January, during the whole
of February, and down to the month of April, the execution of this
theory is tumultuously carried out by mobs of villagers and
vagabonds around Nantes, Auray, Redon, Dinan, Ploërmel, Rennes,
Guingamp, and other villages. Everywhere, writes the Mayor of
Nantes,[62] "the country-people believe that in burning deeds and
contracts they get rid of their debts; the very best of them concur
in this belief," or let things take their course; the excesses are
enormous, because many gratify "special animosities, and all are
heated with wine. - At Beuvres, "the peasants and vassals of the
manor, after burning title-deeds, establish themselves in the
chateau, and threaten to fire it if other papers, which they allege
are concealed there, are not surrendered." Near Redon the Abbey of
Saint-Sauveur is reduced to ashes. Redon is menaced, and Ploërmel
almost besieged. At the end of a month thirty-seven chateaux are
enumerated as attacked: twenty-five in which the title-deeds are
burnt, and twelve in which the proprietors are obliged to sign an
abandonment of their rights. Two chateaux which began to burn are
saved by the National Guard. That of Bois-au-Voyer is entirely
consumed, and several have been sacked. By way of addition, "more
than fifteen procureurs-fiscaux, clerks, notaries, and officers of
seignorial courts have been plundered or burnt," while proprietors
take refuge in the towns because the country is now uninhabitable
for them.

A second tumor makes its appearance at the same time at another
point.[63] It showed itself in Lower Limousin in the beginning of
January. From thence the purulent inflammation spreads to Quercy,
Upper Languedoc, Perigord, and Rouergue, and in February from Tulle
to Montauban, and from Agen to Périgueux and Cahors, extending over
three departments. - Then, also, expectancy is the creator,
according to rule, of its own object. By dint of longing for a law
for the suppression of all claims, it is imagined that it is passed,
and the statement is current that "the King and the National
Assembly have ordered deputations to set up the maypole[64] and to
'light up' the chateaux." - Moreover, and always in accordance
with current practice, bandits, people without occupation, take the
lead of the furious crowd and manage things their own way. As soon
as a band is formed it arrests all the peaceable people it can find
on the roads, in the fields, and in isolated farmhouses, and takes
good care to put them in front in case of blows. - These
miscreants add terror to compulsion. They erect gibbets for any one
that pays casual duties or annual dues, while the parishes of Quercy
threaten their neighbors of Perigord with fire and sword in a week's
time if they do not do in Perigord as they have done in Quercy. -
The tocsin rings, the drums beat, and "the ceremony " is performed
from commune to commune. The keys of the church are forcibly taken
from the curé the seats are burned, and, frequently, the woodwork
marked with the seigneur's arms. They march to the seigneur's
mansion, tear down his weathercocks, and compel him to furnish his
finest tree, together with feathers and ribbons with which to deck
it, without omitting the three measures which he uses in the
collection of his dues in grain or flour. The maypole is planted in
the village square, and the weathercocks, ribbons, and feathers are
attached to its top, together with the three measures and this
inscription, "By order of the King and National Assembly, the final
quittance for all rentals." When this is done it is evident that the
seigneur, who no longer possesses weathercocks, or a seat in the
church, or measures to rate his dues by, is no longer a seigneur,
and can no longer put forth claims of any kind. Huzzahs and
acclamations accordingly burst forth, and there is a revel and an
orgy on the public square. All who can pay - the seigneur, the
curé, and the rich - are put under contribution for the festival,
while the people eat and drink "without any interval of sobriety."
- In this condition, being armed, they strike, and when resistance
is offered, they burn. In Agénois, a chateau belonging to M. de
Lameth, and another of M. d'Aiguillon; in Upper Languedoc, that of
M. de Bournazel, and in Perigord that of M. de Bar, are burnt down:

M. de Bar is almost beaten to death, while six others are killed in
Quercy. A number of chateaux in the environs of Montauban and in
Limousin are assaulted with firearms, and several are pillaged. -
Bands of twelve hundred men swarm the country; "they have a spite
against every estate;" they redress wrongs; "they try over again
cases disposed of thirty years ago, and give judgments which they
put into execution." - If anybody fails to conform to the new code
he is punished, and to the advantage of the new sovereigns. In
Agénois, a gentleman having paid the rent which was associated with
his fief the people take his receipt from him, mulct him in a sum
equal to that which he paid, and come under his windows to spend the
money on good cheer, in triumph and with derision.

Many of the National Guards who still possess some degree of energy,
several of the municipalities which still preserve some love of
order, and a number of the resident gentry, employ their arms
against these excited swarms of brutal usurpers. Some of the
ruffians, taken in the act, are judged somewhat after the fashion of
a drum-head court-martial, and immediately executed as examples.
Everybody in the country sees that the peril to society is great and
urgent, and that if such acts go unpunished, there will be no such
thing as law and property in France. The Bordeaux parliament,
moreover, insists upon prosecutions. Eighty-three boroughs and
cities sign addresses, and send a special deputation to the National
Assembly to urge on prosecutions already commenced, the punishment
of criminals under arrest, and, above all, the maintenance of the
prévôtés.[65] In reply to this, the Assembly inflicts upon the
parliament of Bordeaux its disapprobation in the rudest manner, and
enters upon the demolition of every judicial corporation.[66] After
this, the execution of all prévotal decisions is adjourned. A few
months later the Assembly will oblige the King to declare that the
proceedings begun against the jacquerie of Brittany shall be
regarded as null and void, and that the arrested insurgents shall be
set free. For repressive purposes, it dispatches a sentimental
exhortation to the French people, consisting of twelve pages of
literary insipidity, which Florian might have composed for his
Estilles and his Nemorins.[67] - New conflagrations, as an
inevitable consequence, kindle around live coals which have been
imperfectly extinguished. In the district of Saintes,[68] M.
Dupaty, counselor of the parliament of Bordeaux, after having
exhausted mild resources, and having concluded by issuing writs
against those of his tenantry who would not pay their rents, the
parish of Saint-Thomas de Cosnac, combined with five or six others,
puts itself in motion and assails his two chateaux of Bois-Roche and
Saint-George-des-Agouts; these are plundered and then set on fire,
his son escaping through a volley of musket-balls. They visit
Martin, the notary and steward, in the same fashion; his furniture
is pillaged and his money is taken, and "his daughter undergoes the
most frightful outrages." Another detachment pushes on to the house
of-the Marquis de Cumont, and forces him, under the penalty of
having his house burnt down, to give a discharge for all the claims
he has upon them. At the head of these incendiaries are the
municipal officers of Saint-Thomas, except the mayor, who has taken
to flight.

The electoral system organized by the Constituent Assembly is
beginning to take effect. "Almost everywhere," writes the royal
commissioner, "the large proprietors have been eliminated, and the
offices have been filled by men who strictly fulfill the conditions
of eligibility. The result is a sort of rage of the petty rich to
annoy those who enjoy large heritages." - Six months later, the
National Guards and village authorities in this same department at
Aujean, Migron, and Varaise, decide that no more tithes, agriers or
champarts, nor any of the dues which are retained, shall be paid.
In vain does the department annul the decision, and send its
commissioners, gendarmes, and law-officers. The commissioners are
driven away, and the officers and gendarmes are fired upon; the
vice-president of the district, who was on his way to make his
report to the department, is seized on the road and forced to give
in his resignation. Seven parishes have coalesced with Aujean and
ten with Migron; Varaise has sounded the tocsin, and the villages
for four leagues round have risen; fifteen hundred men, armed with
guns, scythes, hatchets and pitchforks, lend their aid. The object
is to set free the principal leader at Varaise, one Planche, who was
arrested, and to punish the mayor of Varaise, Latierce, who is
suspected of having denounced Planche. Latierce is unmercifully
beaten, and "forced to undergo a thousand torments during thirty
hours;" then they set out with him to Saint-Jean-d'Angely, and
demand the release of Planche. The municipality at first refuses,
but finally consents on the condition that Latierce be given up in
exchange for him. Planche, consequently, is set at liberty and
welcomed with shouts of triumph. Latierce, however, is not given
up; on the contrary, he is tormented for an hour and then massacred,
while the directory of the district, which is less submissive than
the municipal body, is forced to fly. - Symptoms of this kind are
not to be mistaken, and similar ones exist in Brittany. It is
evident that the minds of the people are permanently in revolt.
Instead of the social abscess being relieved by the discharge, it is
always filling up and getting more inflamed. It will burst a second
time in the same places; in 1791 as in 1790, the jacquerie spreads
throughout Brittany as it has spread over Limousin.

This is because the determination of the peasant is of another
nature than ours, his will being more firm and tenacious. When an
idea obtains a hold on him it takes root in an obscure and profound
conviction upon which neither discussion nor argument have any
effect; once planted, it vegetates according to his notions, not
according to ours, and no legislative text, no judicial verdict, no
administrative remonstrance can change in any respect the fruit it
produces. This fruit, developed during centuries, is the feeling of
an excessive plunder, and, consequently, the need of an absolute
release. Too much having been paid to everybody, the peasant now is
not disposed to pay anything to anybody, and this idea, vainly
repressed, always rises up in the manner of an instinct. - In the
month of January, 1791,[69] bands again form in Brittany, owing to
the proprietors of the ancient fiefs having insisted on the payment
of their rents. At first the coalesced parishes refuse to pay the
stewards, and after this the rustic National Guards enter the
chateaux to constrain the proprietors. Generally, it is the
commander of the National Guard, and sometimes the communal
attorney, who dictates to the lord of the manor the renunciation of
his claims; they oblige him, moreover, to sign notes for the benefit
of the parish, or for that of various private individuals. This is
considered by them to be compensation for damages; all feudal dues
being abolished, he must return what he received from them during
the past year, and as they have been put to inconvenience he must
indemnify them by "paying them for their time and journey." Such are
the operations of two of the principal bands, one of them numbering
fifteen hundred men, around Dinan and St. Malo; for greater
security they burn title-deeds in the chateaux of Saint-Tual, Besso,
Beaumanoir, La Rivière, La Bellière, Chateauneuf, Chenay,
Chausavoir, Tourdelon, and Chalonge; and as a climax they set fire
to Chateauneuf just before the arrival of the regular troops. - In
the beginning, a dim conception of legal and social order seems to
be floating in their brains; at Saint-Tual, before taking 2,000
livres from the steward, they oblige the mayor to give them his
consent in writing; at Yvignac, their chief, called upon to show the
authority under which he acted, declares that "he is authorized by
the general will of the populace of the nation."[70] - But when, at
the end of a month, they are beaten by the regular troops, made
furious by the blows given and taken, and excited by the weakness of
the municipal authorities who release their prisoners, they then
become bandits of the worst species. During the night of the 22nd
of February, the chateau of Villefranche, three leagues from
Malestroit, is attacked. Thirty-two rascals with their faces
masked, and led by a chief in the national uniform, break open the
door. The domestics are strangled. The proprietor, M. de la
Bourdonnaie, an old man, with his wife aged sixty, are half killed
by blows and tied fast to their bed, and after this a fire is
applied to their feet and they are warmed (chauffé). In the
meantime the plate, linen, stuffs, jewelry, two thousand francs in
silver, and even watches, buckles, and rings, - everything is
pillaged, piled on the backs of the eleven horses in the stables,
and carried off. - ?When property is concerned, one sort of
outrage provokes another, the narrow cupidity of the lease-holder
being completed by the unlimited rapacity of the brigand.

Meanwhile, in the south-western provinces, the same causes have
produced the same results; and towards the end of autumn, when the
crops are gathered in and the proprietors demand their dues in money
or in produce, the peasant, immovably fixed in his idea, again
refuses.[71] In his eyes, any law that may be against him is not
that of the National Assembly, but of the so-called seigneurs, who
have extorted or manufactured it; and therefore it is null. The
department and district administrators may promulgate it as much as
they please: it does not concern him, and if the opportunity occurs,
he knows how to make them smart for it. The village National
Guards, who are lease-holders like himself, side with him, and
instead of repressing him give him their support. As a
commencement, he replants the maypoles, as a sign of emancipation,
and erects the gibbet by way of a threat. - In the district of
Gourdon, the regulars and the police having been sent to put them
down, the tocsin is at once sounded: a crowd of peasants, amounting
to four or five thousand, arrives from every surrounding parish,
armed with scythes and guns; the soldiers, forming a body of one
hundred, retire into a church, where they capitulate after a siege
of twenty-four hours, being obliged to give the names of the
proprietors who demanded their intervention of the district, and who
are Messrs. Hébray, de Fontange, and many others. All their houses
are destroyed from top to bottom, and they effect their escape in
order not to be hung. The chateaux of Repaire and Salviat are
burned. At the expiration of eight days Quercy is in flames and
thirty chateaux are destroyed. - The leader of a band of rustic
National Guards, Joseph Linard, at the head of a village army,
penetrates into Gourdon, installs himself in the Hôtel-de-Ville,
declares himself the people's protector against the directory of the
district, writes to the department in the name of his "companions in
arms," and vaunts his patriotism. Meanwhile he commands as a
conqueror, throws open the prisons, and promises that, if the
regular troops and police be sent off; he and his companions will
withdraw in good order. - This species of tumultuous authority,
however, instituted by acclamation for attack, is powerless for
resistance. Scarcely has Linard retired when savagery is let loose.
"A price is set upon the heads of the administrators; their houses
are the first devastated; all the houses of wealthy citizens are
pillaged; and the same is the case with all chateaux and country
habitations which display any signs of luxury." - Fifteen
gentlemen, assembled together at the house of M. d'Escayrac, in
Castel, appeal to all good citizens to march to the assistance of
the proprietors who may be attacked in this jacquerie, which is
spreading everywhere;[72] but there are too few proprietors in the
country, and none of the towns have too many of them for their own
protection. M. d'Escayrac, after a few skirmishes, abandoned by the
municipal officers of his village, and wounded, withdraws to the
house of the Comte de Clarac, a major-general, in Languedoc. Here,
too, the chateau, is surrounded,[73] blockaded, and besieged by the
local National Guard. M. de Clarac descends and tries to hold a
parley with the attacking party, and is fired upon. He goes back
inside and throws money out of the window; the money is gathered up,
and he is again fired upon. The chateau is set on fire, and M.
d'Escayrac receives five shots, and is killed. M. de Clarac, with
another person, having taken refuge in a subterranean vault, are
taken out almost stifled the next morning but one by the National
Guard of the vicinity, who conduct them to Toulouse, where they are
kept in prison and where the public prosecutor takes proceedings
against them. The chateau of Bagat, near Montcuq, is demolished at
the same time. The abbey of Espagnac, near Figeac, is assaulted
with fire-arms; the abbess is forced to refund all rents she has
collected, and to restore four thousand livres for the expenses of a
trial which the convent had gained twenty years before.

After such successes, the extension of the revolt is inevitable; and
at the end of some weeks and months it becomes permanent in the
three neighboring departments. - In Creuse,[74] the judges are
threatened with death if they order the payment of seignorial dues,
and the same fate awaits all proprietors who claim their rents. In
many places, and especially in the mountains, the peasants,
"considering that they form the nation, and that clerical
possessions are national," want to have these divided amongst
themselves, instead of their being sold. Fifty parishes around La
Souterraine receive incendiary letters inviting them to come in arms
to the town, in order to secure by force, and by staking their
lives, the production of all titles to rentals. The peasants, in a
circle of eight leagues, are all stirred up by the sound of the
tocsin, and preceded by the municipal officers in their scarves;
there are four thousand of them, and they drag with them a wagon
full of arms: this is for the revision and re-constitution of the
ownership of the soil. - In Dordogne,[75] self-appointed
arbitrators interpose imperiously between the proprietor and the
small farmer, at the time of harvest, to prevent the proprietor from
claiming, and the farmer from paying, the tithes or the réve;[76]
any agreement to this end is forbidden; whoever shall transgress the
new order of things, proprietor or farmer, shall be hung.
Accordingly, the rural militia in the districts of Bergerac,
Excideuil, Ribérac, Mucidan, Montignac, and Perigueux, led by the
municipal officers, go from commune to commune in order to force the
proprietors to sign an act of withdrawal; and these visits "are
always accompanied with robberies, outrages, and ill-treatment from
which there is no escape but in absolute submission." Moreover,
"they demand the abolition of every species of tax and the partition
of the soil. " - It is impossible for "proprietors moderately
rich " to remain in the country; on all sides they take refuge in
Perigueux, and there, organizing in companies, along with the
gendarmerie and the National Guard of the town, overrun the cantons
to restore order. But there is no way of persuading the peasantry
that it is order which they wish to restore. With that stubbornness
of the imagination which no obstacle arrests, and which, like a
vigorous spring, always finds some outlet, the people declare that
"the gendarmes and National Guard" who come to restrain them "are
priests and gentlemen in disguise." - The new theories, moreover,
have struck down to the lowest depths; and nothing is easier than to
draw from them the abolition of debts, and even the agrarian law.
At Ribérac, which is invaded by the people of the neighboring
parishes, a village tailor, taking the catechism of the Constitution
from his pocket, argues with the procureur-syndic, and proves to him
that the insurgents are only exercising the rights of man. The book
states, in the first place, "that Frenchmen are equals and brethren,
and that they should give each other aid;" and that "the masters
should share with their fellows, especially this year, which is one
of scarcity." In the next place, it is written that "all property
belongs to the nation," and that is the reason why "it has taken the
possessions of the Church." Now, all Frenchmen compose the nation,
and the conclusion is clearly apparent. Since, in the eyes of the
tailor, the property of individual Frenchmen belongs to all the
French, he, the tailor, has a right to at least the quota which
belongs to him. - One travels fast and far on this downhill road,
for every mob considers that this means immediate enjoyment, and
enjoyment according to its own ideas. There is no care for
neighbors or for consequences, even when imminent and physical, and
in twenty places the confiscated property perishes in the hands of
the usurpers.

This voluntary destruction of property can be best observed in the
third department, that of Corrèze.[77] Not only have the peasants
here refused to pay rents from the beginning of the Revolution; not
only have they "planted maypoles, supplied with iron hooks, to hang
" the first one that dared to claim or to pay them; not only are
violent acts of every description committed "by entire communes,"
"the National Guards of the small communes participating in them;"
not only do the culprits, whose arrest is ordered, remain at
liberty, while "nothing is spoken of but the hanging of the
constables who serve writs," but farther, together with the
ownership of the water-sources, the power of collecting, directing,
and distributing the water is overthrown, and, in a country of in a
country of steep slopes, the consequences of such an operation may
be imagined. Three leagues from Tulle, in a forming a semi-circle, a
pond twenty feet in depth, and covering an area of three hundred
acres, was enclosed by a broad embankment on the side of a very deep
gorge, which was completely covered with houses, mills, and
cultivation. On the 17th of April, 1791, a troop of five hundred
armed men assembled by the beat of a drum, and collected from three
villages in the vicinity, set themselves to demolish the dike. The
proprietor, M. de Sedières, a substitute-deputy in the National
Assembly, is not advised of it until eleven o'clock in the evening.
Mounting his horse, along with his guests and domestics, he makes a
charge on the insane wretches, and, with the aid of pistol and gun
shots, disperses them. It was time, for the trench they had dug was
already eight feet deep, and the water was nearly on a level with
it: a half-hour later and the terrible rolling mass of waters would
have poured out on the inhabitants of the gorge. - But such
vigorous strokes, which are rare and hardly ever successful, are no
defense against universal and continuous attacks. The regular
troops and the gendarmerie, both of which are in the way of
reorganization or of dissolution, are not trustworthy, or are too
weak. There are no more than thirty of the cavalry in Creuse, and
as many in Corrèze. The National Guards of the towns are knocked up
by expeditions into the country, and there is no money with which to
provide for their change of quarters. And finally, as the elections
are in the hands of the people, this brings into power men disposed
to tolerate popular excesses. At Tulle, the electors of the second
class, almost all chosen from among the cultivators, and, moreover,
catechized by the club, nominate for deputies and public prosecutor
only the candidates who are pledged against rentals and against
water privileges. - Accordingly, the general demolition of the
dikes begins as the month of May approaches. This operation
continues unopposed on a vast pond, a league and a half from the
town, and lasts for a whole week; elsewhere, on the arrival of the
guards or of the gendarmerie, they are fired upon. Towards the end
of September, all the embankments in the department are broken down:
nothing is left in the place of the ponds but fetid marshes; the
mill-wheels no longer turn, and the fields are no longer watered.
But those who demolish them carry away baskets full of fish, and the
soil of the ponds again becomes communal. - Hatred is not the
motive which impels them, but the instinct of acquisition: all these
violent outstretched hands, which rigidly resist the law, are
directed against property, but not against the proprietor; they are
more greedy than hostile. One of the noblemen of Corrèze,[78] M. de
Saint-Victour, has been absent for five years. From the beginning
of the Revolution, although his feudal dues constitute one-half of
the income of his estate, he has given orders that no rigorous
measures shall be employed in their collection, and the result is
that, since 1789, none of them were collected. Moreover, having a
reserve stock of wheat on hand, he lent grain, to the amount of four
thousand francs, to those of his tenants who had none. In short, he
is liberal, and, in the neighboring town, at Ussel, he even passes
for a Jacobin. In spite of all this, he is treated just like the
rest. It is because the parishes in his domain are "clubbist,"
governed by associations of moral and practical levelers; in one of
them "the brigands have organized themselves into a municipal body,"
and have chosen their leader as procureur-syndic. Consequently, on
the 22nd of August, eighty armed peasants opened the dam of his
large pond, at the risk of submerging a village in the neighborhood,
the inhabitants of which came and closed it up. Five other ponds
belonging to him are demolished in the course of the two following
weeks; fish to the value of from four to five thousand francs are
stolen, and the rest perish in the weeds. In order to make this
expropriation sure, an effort is made to burn his title-deeds; his
chateau, twice attacked in the night, is saved only by the National
Guard of Ussel. His farmers and domestics hesitate, for the time
being, whether or not to cultivate the ground, and come and ask the
steward if they could sow the seeds. There is no recourse to the
proper authorities: the administrators and judges, even when their
own property is concerned, "dare not openly show themselves,"
because "they do not find themselves protected by the shield of the
law. " - Popular will, traversing both the old and the new law,
obstinately persists in its work, and forcibly attains its ends.
Thus, whatever the grand terms of liberty, equality, and fraternity
may be, with which the Revolution graces itself, it is, in its
essence, a transfer of property; in this alone consists its chief
support, its enduring energy, its primary impulse and its historical
significance. - Formerly, in antiquity, similar movements were
accomplished, debts were abolished or lessened, the possessions of
the rich were confiscated, and the public lands were divided; but
this operation was confined to a city and limited to a small
territory. For the first time it takes place on a large scale and
in a modern State. - Thus far, in these vast States, when the
deeper foundations have been disturbed, it has ever been on account
of foreign domination or on account of an oppression of conscience.
In France in the fifteenth century, in Holland in the sixteenth and
in England in the seventeenth century, the peasant, the mechanic,
and the laborer had taken up arms against an enemy or in behalf of
their faith. On religious or patriotic zeal has followed the
craving for prosperity and comfort, and the new motive is as
powerful as the others; for in our industrial, democratic, and
utilitarian societies it is this which governs almost all lives, and
excites almost all efforts. Kept down for centuries, the passion
recovers itself by throwing off government and privilege, the two
great weights which have borne it down. At the present time this
passion launches itself impetuously with its whole force, with
brutal insensibility, athwart every kind of proprietorship that is
legal and legitimate, whether it be public or private. The
obstacles it encounters only render it the more destructive , beyond
property it attacks proprietors, and completes plunder with



[1] The expression is that of Jean Bon Saint-André to Mathieu Dumas,
sent to re-establish tranquillity in Montauban (1790): "The day of
vengeance, which we have been awaiting for a hundred years, has

[2] De Dampmartin, I. 187 (an eye-witness).

[3] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3223 and 3216. Letters of M. de
Bouzols, major general, residing at Montpellier, May 21, 25, 28,

[4] Mary Lafon, "Histoire d'une Ville Protestante ".(with original
documents derived from the archives of Montauban).

[5] Archives Nationales," F7, 2216. Procés-verbal of the
Municipality of Nîmes and report of the Abbé de Belmont. - Report
of the Administrative commissioners, June 28, 1790. - Petition of
the Catholics, April 20. - Letters of the Municipality, the
commissioners, and M. de Nausel, on the events of May 2 and 3. -
Letter of M. Rabaut Saint-Etienne, May 12 - Petition of the widow
Gas, July 30. - Report (printed) of M. Alquier, February 19,
1791. - Memoir (printed) of the massacre of the Catholics at
Nîmes, by Froment (1790). - New address of the Municipality of
Nîmes, presented by M. de Marguerite, mayor and deputy (1790),
printed. Mercure de France, February 23, 1791.

[6] The petition is signed by 3,127 persons, besides 1560 who put a
cross declaring that they could not write. The counter-petition of
the club is signed by 262 persons.

[7] This last item, stated in M. Alquier's report, is denied by the
municipality. According to it, the red rosettes gathered around the
bishop's quarters had no guns.

[8] An insurrection in the sixteenth century, when the Protestants
fired on the Catholics on St. Michael's Day.-[TR.]

[9] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3216. Letter of M. de Lespin, Major
at Nîmes, to the commandant of Provence, M de Perigord, July 27,
1790: "The plots and conspiracies which were attributed to the
vanquished party, and which, it was believed, would be discovered in
the depositions of the four hundred men in prison, vanish as the
proceedings advance. The veritable culprits are to be found among
the informers.

[10] Buchez and Roux, III. 240 (Memorandum of the Ministers,
October 28, 1789). - " Archives Nationales," D, XXIX. 3.
Deliberation of the Municipal council of Vernon (November 4, 1789)

[11] "Archives Nationales," KK, 1105. correspondence of M. de
Thiard, November 4, 1789. - See similar occurrences, September 4,
October 23, November 4 and 19, 1789, January 27 and March 27, 1790

[12] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3257. Letter from Gex, May 29,
1790. - Buchez and Roux, VII. 198, 369 (September, October,

[13] "Archives Nationales," H. 1453. correspondence of M. de
Bercheny, Commandant of the four central provinces. Letters of May
25, June 11, 19, and 27, 1790. - " Archives Nationales," D.
XXIX. 4. Deliberations of the district administrators of Bourbon-
Lancy, May 26.

[14] "Archives Nationales," H. 2453. Minutes of the meeting of a
dozen parishes in Nivernais, June 4. "White bread is to be 2 sous,
and brown bread 11/2 sous. Husbandmen are to have 30 sous, reapers
10 sous, wheelwrights 10 sous, bailiffs 6 sous per league. Butter
is to be at 8 sous, meat at 5 sous, pork at 8 sous, oil at 8 sous
the pint, a square foot of masonry-work 40 sous, a pair of large
sabots 3 sous. All rights of pasturage and of forests are to he
surrendered. The roads are to be free everywhere, as formerly. All
seignorial rents arc to be suppressed. Millers are to take only one
thirty-second of a bushel. The seigneurs of our department are to
give up all servile holidays and ill-acquired property. The curé of
Bièze is simply to say mass at nine o'clock in the morning and
vespers at two o'clock in the afternoon, in summer and winter; he
must marry and bury gratis, it being reserved to us to pay him a
salary. He is to be paid 6 sous for masses, and not to leave his
curé except to repeat his breviary and make proper calls on the men
and women of his parish. Hats must be had from 3 livres to 30 sous.
Nails 3 livres the gross. Curés are to have none but circumspect
females of fifty for domestics. Curés are not to go to either fairs
or markets. All curés are to he on the same footing as the one at
Bièze. There must he no more wholesale dealers in wheat. Law
officers who make unjust seizures must return the money. Farm
leases must expire on St. Martin's Day. M. le Comte, although not
there, M. de Tontenelle, and M. de Commandant must sign this
document without difficulty. M. de Mingot is formally to resign his
place in writing: he went away with his servant-woman - he even
missed his mass on the first Friday of the Fête-Dieu, and it is
supposed that he slept in the woods. Joiners' wages shall he fixed
at the same rate as wheelwrights'. Ox-straps are not to cost over
40 sous, yokes 10 sous. Masters must pay one-half of the tailles .
Notaries are to take only the half of what they had formerly, as
well as comptrollers. The Commune claims the right of protest
against whatever it may have forgotten in the present article, in
fact or in law." (It is signed by about twenty persons, several of
them being mayors and municipal clerks.)

[15] "Archives Nationales," H. 1453. The same correspondence, May
29, June 11 and 17, September 15, 1790. - ibid, F7, 3257. Letter of
the municipal authorities of Marsigny, May 3; of the municipal
officers of Bourbon-Lancy, June 5. Extract from letters written to
M. Amelot, June 1st.

[16] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3185, 3186. Letter of the President
of the Tribunal of the district of Laon, February 8, 1792.

[17] "Archives Nationales F7, 3268. Procés-verbal and observations
of the two commissioners sent to Étampes September 22-25, 1791.

[18] "Archives Nationales F7, 3265. The following document, among
many others, shows the expedients and conceptions of the popular
imagination. Petition of several inhabitants of the commune of
Forges (Seine Inférieure) "to the good and incorruptible Minister of
the Interior" (October 16, 1792). After three good crops in
succession, the famine still continues. Under the ancient régime
wheat was superabundant; hogs were fed with it, and calves were
fattened with bread. It is certain, therefore, that wheat is
diverted by monopolists and the enemies of the new regime. The
farms are too large; let them he divided. There is too much
pasture-ground: sow it with wheat. Compel each farmer and land-
owner to give a statement of his crop: let the quantity be published
at the church service, and in case of falsehood let the man be put
to death or imprisoned, and his grain he confiscated. Oblige all
the cultivators of the neighborhood to sell their wheat at Forges
only, etc."

[19] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3268. Report of the commissioners
sent by the department, March 11, 1792 (apropos of the insurrection
of March 4). - Mortimer-Ternaux, I. 381.

[20] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3268. Letters of several mayors,
district administrators, cultivators of Velizy, Villacoublay, La
celle-Saint-Cloud, Montigny, etc. November 12, 1791. - Letter of
M. de Narbonne, January 13, 1792; of M. Sureau, justice of the peace
in the canton of Étampes, September 17, 1791. - Letter of
Bruyères-le-Châtel, January 28, 1792.

[21] A term applied to brigands at this epoch who demand money and
objects of value, and force their delivery by exposing the soles of
the feet of their victims to a fire. - [TR.]

[22] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3203. Letter of the Directory of
Cher, August 25, 1791. - F7, 3240. Letter of the Directory of
Haute Marne, November 6, 1791. - F7, 3248. Minutes of the
meeting of the members of the department of the Nord, March 18,
1791. - F7, 3250. Minutes of the meeting of the municipal
officers of Montreuil-sur-Mer, October 16, 1791. - F7, 3265.
Letter of the Directory of Seine Infereure, July 22, 1791. - D,
XXIX. 4. Remonstrances of the municipalities assembled at Tostes,
July 21, 1791. - Petition, of the municipal officers of the
districts of Dieppe, Cany, and Caudebec, July 22, 1791.

[23] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3268 and 3269, passim.

[24] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3268 and 3269, passim.
Deliberations of the Directory of Seine-et-Oise, September 20, 1791
(apropos of the insurrection. September 16, at Étampes). -
Letter of Charpentier, president of the district, September 19. -
Report of the Department Commissioners, March 11, 1792 (on the
insurrection at Brunoy, March 4.) - Report of the Department
Commissioners, March 4, 1792 (on the insurrection at Montlhéry,
February 13 to 20). - Deliberation of the Directory of Seine-et-
Oise, September 16, 1791 (on the insurrection at Corbeil). -
Letters of the mayors of Limours, Lonjumeau, etc.

[25] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3268 and 3269, passim. - Minutes of
the meeting of the Municipality of Montlhéry, February 28, 1792: "We
cannot enter into fuller details without exposing ourselves to
extremities which would be only disastrous to us." - Letter of the
justice of the peace of the canton, February 25: "Public outcry
teaches me that if I issue writs of arrest against those who
massacred Thibault, the people would rise."

[26] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3268 and 3269, passim. Reports of
the gendarmerie, February 24, 1792, and the following days. -
Letter of the sergeant of Limours, March 2; of the manager of the
farm of Plessis-le-Comte, February 23.

[27] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3268 and 3269, passim. - Memorandum
to the National Assembly by the citizens of Rambouillet, September
17, 1792.

[28] "Archives Nationales," F7 3268 and 3269, Passim. Minutes of
the meeting of the Municipality of Montlhéry, February 27, 1792. -
Buchez and Roux, XIII. 421, (March, 1792); and XIII., 317. -
Mercure de France, February 25, 1792. (Letters of M. Dauchy,
President of the Directory of the Department; of M. de Gouy,
messenger sent by the minister, etc.) - Moniteur, sitting of
February 15, 1792.

[29] Decree of September 3, 1792.

[30] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3268 and 3269. Petition of the
citizens of Montfort-l'Amaury, Saint-Léger, Gros-Rouvre, Gelin,
Laqueue, and Méré, to the citizens of Rambouillet.

[31] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3230. Letter of an administrator of
the district of Vendôme, with the deliberation of the commune of
Vendôme, November 24, 1792.

[32] Archives Nationales," F7, 3255. Letter of the administrators
of the Department of Seine-Inférieure, Octobers 23, 1792. -
Letters of the Special Comittee of Rouen, October 22 and 23, 1792:
"The more the zeal and patriotism of the cultivators is stimulated,
the more do they seem determined to avoid the market-places, which
are always in a State of absolute destitution."

[33] Archives Nationales," F7, 3265. Letter of David, a cultivator,
October 20, 1792. - Letter of the Department Administrators,
October 13, 1792, etc. - Letter (printed) of the minister to the
convention, November 4. - Proclamation of the Provisional
Executive council, October 31, 1792. (The setier of grain of two
hundred and forty pounds is sold at 60 francs in the south, and at
half that sum in the north.)

[34] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3255. Letters of Bonnemant,
September 11, 1792; of Laussel, September 22, 1792.

[35] "Archives Nationales," H, 1453. Correspondence of M. de
Bercheny, July 28, October 24 and 26, 1790. - The same
disposition lasted. An insurrection occurred in Issoudun after the
three days of July, 1830, against the combined imposts. Seven or
eight thousand wine growers burnt the archives and tax-offices and
dragged an employee through the streets, shouting out at each
street-lamp, "Let him be hung!" The general sent to repress the
outbreak entered the town only through a capitulation; the moment he
reached the Hôtel-de-Ville a man of the Faubourg de Rome put his
pruning-book around his neck, exclaiming, "No more clerks where
there is nothing to do!"

[36] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3203. Letter of the Directory of
Cher, April 9, 1790. - Ibid, F7, 3255. Letter of August 4, 1790.
Verdict of the présidial, November 4, 1790. - Letter of the
Municipality of Saint-Etienne, August 5, 1790.

[37] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3248. Letter of M. Sénac de
Mejlhan, April 10, 1790. - Letter of the grands baillis, June 30,

[38] Buchez and Roux, VI. 403. Report of Chabroud on the
insurrection at Lyons, July 9 and 10, 1790. - Duvergier,
"Collection des Décrets." Decrees of August 4 and 15, 1790.

[39] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3255. Letter of the Minister, July
2, 1790, to the Directory of Rhône-et-Loire. "The King is informed
that, throughout your department, and especially in the districts of
Saint-Etienne and Montbrison, license is carried to the extreme;
that the judges dare not prosecute; that in many places the
municipal officers are at the head of the disturbances; and that, in
others, the National Guard do not obey requisitions." - Letter of
September 5, 1790. "In the bourg of Thisy, brigands have invaded
divers cotton-spinning establishments and partially destroyed them
and after having plundered them, they have sold the goods by public

[40] Buchez and Roux, VI. 345. Report of M. Muguet, July 1, 1790.

[41] Minutes of the meeting of the National Assembly. (Sitting of
October 24, 1789.) - Decree of September 27, 1789, applicable the
1st of October. There are other alleviations applicable on the 1st
of January, 1790.

[42] Mercure de France, February 27, 1790. (Memorandum of the garde
des sceaux, January 16. - Observations of M. Necker on the report
made by the Financial committee, at the sitting of March 12, 1790.

[43] "Archives Nationales," H, 1453. Correspondence of M. de
Bercheny, April 24, May 4 and 6, 1790: "It is much to be feared that
the tobacco-tax will share the fate of the salt-tax."

[44] Mercure de France, July 31, 1790 (sitting of July 10.) M.
Lambert, Comptroller General of the Finances, informs the Assembly
of "the obstacles which continual outbreaks, brigandage, and the
maxims of anarchical freedom impose, from one end of France to the
other, on the collection of the taxes. On one side, the people are
led to believe that, if they stubbornly refuse a tax contrary to
their rights, it abolition will be secured. Elsewhere, smuggling is
openly carried on by force; the people favor it, while the National
Guards refuse to act against the nation. In other places hatred is
excited, and divisions between the troops and the overseers at the
toll-houses: the latter are massacred, the bureaus are pillaged, and
the prisons are forced open." - Memorandum from M. Necker to the
National Assembly, July 21, 1790.

[45] Decrees of March 21 and 22, 1790, applicable April 21
following. - Decrees of February 19 and March 2, 1791, applicable
May 1 following.

[46] De Goncourt, "La Societé Française pendant la Révolution," 204.
- Maxime Du Camp, "Paris, sa vie et ses organes," VI. 11.

[47] "Compte des Revenus et Dépenses au 1er Mai, 1789." -
Memorandum of M. Necker, July 21, 1790. - Memoranda presented by
M. de Montesquiou, September 9, 1791. - Comptes-rendus by the
minister, Clavières, October 5, 1792, February 1, 1792. - Report
of Cambon, February, 1793.

[48] Boivin-Champeaux, 231.

[49] Mercure de France, May 28, 1791. (Sitting of May 22.) -
Speech of M. d'Allarde: "Burgundy has paid nothing belonging to

[50] Moniteur, sitting of June 1, 1790. Speech by M. Freteau. -
Mercure de France. November 26, 1791. Report by Lafont-Ladebat.

[51] "Archives Nationales," H, 2453. correspondence of M. de
Bercheny, June 5, 1790, etc. - F7, 3226. Letters of Chenantin,
cultivator, November 7, 1792, also of the prosecuting attorney ,
November 6. - F7, 3269. Minutes of the meeting of the
municipality of Clugnac, August 5th, 1792. - F7, 3202. Letter of
the Minister of Justice, Duport, January 3, 1792. "The utter
absence of public force in the district of Montargis renders every
operation of the Government and all execution of the laws
impossible. The arrears of taxes to be collected is here very
considerable, while all proceedings of constraint are dangerous and
impossible to execute, owing to the fears of the bailiffs, who dare
not perform their duties, and the violence of the tax-payers, on
whom there is no check."

[52] Report of the Committee on Finances, by Ramel, 19th Floréal,
year II (The Constituent Assembly had fixed the real tax of a house
at one-sixth of its letting value.)

[53] Mercure de France, December 12, 1789. - "Archives
Nationales," F7, 3268. Memorandum from the officers in command of
the detachment of the Paris National Guard stationed at Conflans-
Sainte-Honorine (April, 1790). Certificate of the Municipal
Officers of Poissy, March 31.

[54] Mercure de France, March 12 and 26, 1791. - "Archives
Nationales," H, 1453. Letter of the police-lieutenant of Blois,
April 22, 1790. - Mercure de France, July 24, 1790. Two of the
murderers exclaimed to those who tried to save one of the keepers,
"Hanging is well done at Paris! Bah, you are aristocrats! We shall
be talked about in the gazettes of Paris." (Deposition of
witnesses.) - Decrees and proclamations regarding the protection
of the forests, November 3 and December 11, 1789. - Another in
October, 1790. - Another June 29, 1791.

[55] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3219. Letter of the bailli de
Virieu, January 26, 1792.

[56] Mercure de France, December 3, 1791. (Letter from Sarreluis,
November 15, 1791.) - "Archives Nationales," F7, 3223. Letter of
the Municipal Officers of Montargis. January 8, 1792.

[57] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3268. Letter of the overseer of the
national domains at Rambouillet, October 31, 1792. - Report of
the minister Clavières, February 1. 1793.

[58] Decrees of August 14, 1792, June 10, 1793. - " Archives
Nationales," Missions des Représentants, D, § 7. (Deliberation of
the district of Troyes, 2 Ventose, an. III.) - At Thunelières,
the drawing took place on the 10th Fructidor, year II, and was done
over again in behalf of a servant of Billy, an influential municipal
officer who "was the soul of his colleagues." - Ibid. Abstract of
operations in the district of Arcis-sur-Aube, 30 Pluviose, year III.
"Two-thirds of the communes hold this kind of property. Most of
them have voted on and effected the partition, or are actually
engaged on it.

[59] Mercure de France, January 7, 1790. (Chateau of Auxon in
Haute-Saone.) - "Archives Nationales," F7, 3255. (Letter of the
minister to the Directory of Rhone-et-Loire, July 2, 1790.) -
Mercure de France, July 17, 1790. (Report of M. de Broglie, July
13, and decree of July 13-18.) - "Archives Nationales," H, 1453.
(Correspondence of M. de Bercheny, July 21, 1790.)

[60] Mercure de France, March 19, 1790. Letter from Amien, February
28. (Mallet du Pan publishes in the Mercure only letters which are
signed and authentic.)

[61] "Archives Nationales," KK, 1105. (Correspondence of M. de
Thiard; letters of Chevalier de Bévy, December 26, 1789, and others
up to April 5, 1790.) - Moniteur, sitting of February 9, 1790. -
Mercure de France, February 6 and March 6, 1790 (list of chateaux).

[62] "Archives Nationales," KK, 1105. (correspondence of M. de
Thiard.) Letters of the Mayor of Nantes, February 16, !790, of the
Municipality of Redon, February 19, etc.

[63] Mercure de France, February 6 and 27, 1790. (Speech of M. de
Foucault, sittings of February 2 and 5) - Moniteur (same dates).
(Report of Grégoire, February 9; speeches by MM. Sallé de Chaux and
de Noailles, February 9.) - Memorandum of the deputies of the town
of Tulle, drawn up by the Abbé Morellet (from the deliberations and
addresses of eighty-three boroughs and cities in the province).

[64] In allusion to the feudal custom of paying seignorial dues on
the first of May around a maypole. See further on. [TR]

[65] Criminal Courts without appeal.-[TR.)

[66] Moniteur, sitting of March 4, 1790. - Duvergier, decrees of
March 6, 1790, and August 6-10 1790

[67] The address is dated February 11, 1793. This singularly comic
document would alone suffice to make the history of the Revolution
perfectly comprehensible.

[68] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3203. (Letters of the royal
commissioner, April 30 and May 9, 1790.) - Letter of the Duc de
Maillé, May 6. - Report from the administrators of the
department, November 12, 1790. - Moniteur VI. 515.

[69] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3225. Letter of the Directory from
Ille-et-Vilaine, January 30, 1791, and letter from Dinan, January 29
- Mercure de France, April 2 and 16, 1791. Letters from Rennes,
March 20th; from Redon, March 12.

[70] So expressed in the minutes of the meeting.

[71] Moniteur, sitting of December 15, 1790. (Address of the
department of Lot, December 7.) - Sitting of December 20 (Speech
by M. de Foucault.) - Mercure de France, December 18, 1790.
(Letter from Belves, in Perigord, December 7.) - Ibid., January
22, 29, 1791. (Letter from M. de Clarac, January 18.)

[72] December 17, 1790.

[73] January 7, 1791.

[74] Revolutionary archives of the department of Creuse, by Duval.
(Letter of the administrators of the department, March 31, 1791.) -
" Archives Nationales," F7, 3209. (Deliberation of the Directory of
the Department, May 12, 1791 - Minutes of the meeting of the
municipality of La Souterraine, August 23, 1791.)

[75] "Archives Nationales", F7, 3269. - Order of the directory of
the district of Ribérac, August 5, 1791, and requisitions of the
prosecuting attorney of the department, August 24, and September 11.
- Letter of the king's commissioner, August 22.

[76] A sort of export duty.-[TR.]

[77] "Archives Nationales," P7, 3204. - Letter, from the
Directory of the Department, June 2, 1791; September 8 and 22. -
Letter from the Minister of Justice, May 15, 1791. - Letter from
M. de Lentilhac, September 2. - Letter from M. Melon-Padon, Royal
Commissioner, September. - Mercure de France, May 14, 1791.
(Letter of an eye-witness, M.de Loyac, April 25, 1791.)

[78] "Archives Nationales," F7. 3204. Letters from M. de Saint-
Victour, September 25, October 2 and 10, 1791. - Letter from the
steward of his estate, September 18.

CHAPTER III. Development of the ruling Passion.

I. Attitude of the nobles. Their moderate resistance.

IF popular passion ended in murder it was not because resistance was
great or violent. On the contrary, never did an aristocracy undergo
dispossession with so much patience, or employ less force in the
defense of its prerogatives, or even of its property. To speak with
exactness, the class in question receives blows without returning
them, and when it does take up arms, it is always with the bourgeois
and the National Guard, at the request of the magistrates, in
conformity with the law, and for the protection of persons and
property. The nobles try to avoid being either killed or robbed,
nothing more: for nearly three years they raise no political banner.
In the towns where they exert the most influence and which are
denounced as rebellious, for ex-ample in Mende and Arles, their
opposition is limited to the suppression of riots, the restraining
of the common people, and ensuring respect for the law, It is not
the new order of things against which they conspire, but against
brutal disorder. - At Mende," says the municipal body,[1] "we had
the honor of being the first to furnish the contributions of 1790.
We supplied the place of our bishop and installed his successor
without disturbance, and without the assistance of any foreign force
. . . . We dispersed the members of a cathedral body to which we
were attached by the ties of blood and friendship; we dismissed all,
from the bishop down to the children of the choir. We had but three
communities of mendicant monks, and all three have been suppressed.
We have sold all national possessions without exception." - The
commander of their gendarmerie is, in fact, an old member of the
body-guard, while the superior officers of the National Guard are
gentlemen, or belong to the order of Saint-Louis. It is very
evident that, if they defend themselves against Jacobins, they are
not insurgent against the National Assembly. - In Arles,[2] which
has put down its populace, which has armed itself, which has shut
its gates, and which passes for a focus of royalist conspiracy, the
commissioners sent by the King and by the National Assembly, men of
discretion and of consideration, find nothing, after a month's
investigation, but submission to the decrees and zeal for the public

"Such," they say, "are the men who have been calumniated because,
cherishing the Constitution, they hold fanaticism, demagogues and
anarchy, in horror. If the citizens had not roused themselves when
the moment of danger arrived, they would have been slaughtered like
their neighbors (of Avignon). It is this insurrection against crime
which the brigands have slandered." If their gates were shut it was
because "the National Guard of Marseilles, the same which behaved so
badly in the Comtat, flocked there under the pretext of maintaining
liberty and of forestalling the counter-revolution, but, in reality,
to village the town."

Vive la Nation! Vive la Loi! Vive le Roi were the only cries heard
at the very quiet and orderly elections that had just taken place.

"The attachment of the citizens to the Constitution has been spoken
of. . . . Obedience to the laws, the readiest disposition to
discharge public contributions, were remarked by us among these
pretended counter-revolutionaries. Those who are subject to the
license-tax came in crowds to the Hôtel-de-Ville." Scarcely "was the
bureau of receipts opened when it was filled with respectable
people; those on the contrary who style themselves good patriots,
republicans or anarchists, were not conspicuous on this occasion;
but a very small number among them have made their submission. The
rest are surprised at being called upon for money; they had been
given a quite different hope."

In short, during more than thirty months, and under a steady fire of
threats, outrages, and plunder, the nobles who remain in France
neither commit nor undertake any hostile act against the Government
that persecutes them. None of them, not even M. de Bouillé, attempts
to carry out any real plan of civil war; I find but one resolute man
in their ranks at this date, ready for action, and who labors to
form one militant party against another militant party: he is really
a politician and conspirator; he has an understanding with the Comte
d'Artois; he gets petitions signed for the freedom of the King and
of the Church; he organizes armed companies; he recruits the
peasants; he prepares a Vendée for Languedoc and Provence; and this
person is a bourgeois, Froment of Nîmes.[3] But, at the moment of
action, he finds only three out of eighteen companies, supposed by
him to be enlisted in his cause, that are willing to march with him.
Others remain in their quarters until, Froment being overcome, they
are found there and slaughtered; the survivors, who escape to Jalès,
find, not a stronghold, but a temporary asylum, where they never
succeed in transforming their inclinations into determinations.[4]
- The nobles too, like other Frenchmen, have been subject to the
lasting pressure of monarchical centralization. They no longer form
one body.; they have lost the instinct of association. They no
longer know how to act for themselves; they are the puppets of
administration awaiting an impulse from the center, while at the
center the King, their hereditary general, a captive in the hands of
the people, commands them to be resigned and to do nothing.[5]
Moreover, like other Frenchmen, they have been brought up in the
philosophy of the eighteenth century. "Liberty is so precious,"
wrote the Duc de Brissac,[6] "that it may well be purchased with
some suffering; a destroyed feudalism will not prevent the good and
the true from being respected and loved." - They persist in this
illusion for a long time and remain optimists. As they feel kindly
towards the people, they cannot comprehend that the people should
entertain other sentiments toward them; they firmly believe that the
troubles are transient. Immediately on the proclamation of the
Constitution they return in crowds from Spain, Belgium, and Germany;
at Troyes there are not enough post-horses for many days to supply
the emigrants who are coming back.[7] Thus they accept not only the
abolition of feudalism with civil equality, but also political
equality and numerical sovereignty.

Some consideration for them, some outward signs of respect, a few
bows, would, in all probability, have rallied them sincerely to
democratic institutions. They would soon consent to be confounded
with the crowd, to submit to the common level, and to live as
private individuals. Had they been treated like the bourgeois or
the peasant, their neighbors, had their property and persons been
respected, they might have accepted the new régime without any
bitterness of feeling. That the leading emigrant nobles and those
forming a part of the old court carry on intrigues at Coblentz or at
Turin is natural, since they have lost everything: authority,
places, pensions, sinecures, pleasures, and the rest. But, to the
gentry and inferior nobles of the provinces, chevaliers of Saint-
Louis, subaltern officers and resident proprietors, the loss is
insignificant. The law has suppressed one-half of their seignorial
dues; but by virtue of the same law their lands are no longer
burdened with tithes. Popular elections will not provide them with
places, but they did not enjoy them under the arbitrary ministerial
rule. Little does it matter to them that power, whether ministerial
or popular, has changed hands: they are not accustomed to its
favors, and will pursue their ordinary avocations - the chase,
promenading, reading, visiting, and conversing - provided they,
like the first-comer, the grocer at the corner, or their farm-
servant, find protection, safety, and security on the public road
and in their dwellings.[8]


Workings of the popular imagination with respect to them. - The
monomania of suspicion. - The nobles distrusted and treated as
enemies. - Situation of a gentleman on his domain. - M. de.

Popular passion, unfortunately, is a blind power, and, for lack of
enlightenment, suffers itself to be guided by spectral illusions.
Imaginary conceptions work, and work in conformity with the
structure of the excited brain which has given birth to them:

What if the Ancient Regime should return!

What if we were obliged to restore the property of the clergy!

What if we should be again forced to pay the salt tax, the excise,
the taille, and other dues which, thanks to the law, we no longer
pay, besides other taxes and dues that we do not pay in spite of the

What if all the nobles whose chateaux are burnt, and who have given
rent acquittances at the point of the sword, should find some way to
avenge themselves and recover their former privileges!

Undoubtedly they brood over these things, make agreements amongst
each other, and plot with the strangers; at the first opportunity
they will fall upon us: we must watch them, repress them, and, if
needs be, destroy them. - This instinctive process of reasoning
prevailed from the outset, and, in proportion as excesses increase,
prevails to a much greater extent. The noble is ever the past,
present, and future creditor, or, at the very least, a possible one,
which means that he is the worst and most odious of enemies. All
his ways are suspicious, even when he is doing nothing; whatever he
may do it is with a view of arming himself.

M. de Gilliers, who lives with his wife and sister one league out of
Romans in Dauphiny,[9] amuses himself by planting trees and flowers;
a few steps from his house, on another domain, M. de Montchorel, an
old soldier, and M. Osmond, an old lawyer from Paris, with their
wives and children, occupy their leisure hours in somewhat the same
manner. M. de Gilliers having ordered and received wooden water-
pipes, the report spreads that they are cannon. His guest, M.
Servan, receives an English traveling-trunk, which is said to be
full of pistols. When M. Osmond and M. Servan stroll about the
country with pencils and drawing-paper, it is averred that they are
preparing topographical plans for the Spaniards and Savoyards. The
four carriages belonging to the two families go to Romans to fetch
some guests: instead of four there are nineteen, and they are sent
for aristocrats who are coming to hide away in underground passages.
M. de Senneville, decorated with a cordon rouge (red ribbon), pays a
visit on his return from Algiers: the decoration becomes a blue one,
and the wearer is the Comte d'Artois[10] in person. There is
certainly a plot brewing, and at five o'clock in the morning
eighteen communes (two thousand armed men) arrive before the doors
of the two houses; shouts and threats of death last for eight hours;
a gun fired a few paces off at the suspects misfires; a peasant who
is aiming at them says to his neighbor, "Give me a decent gun and I
will plant both my balls in their bodies!" Finally, M. de Gilliers,
who was absent, attending a baptism, returns with the Royal
Chasseurs of Dauphiny and the National Guard of Romans, and with
their assistance delivers his family. - It is only in the towns,
that is, in a few towns, and for a very short time, that an
inoffensive noble who is attacked obtains any aid; the phantoms
which people create for themselves there are less gross; a certain
degree of enlightenment, and a remnant of common sense, prevent the
hatching of too absurd stories. - But in the dark recesses of
rustic brains nothing can arrest the monomania of suspicion.
Fancies multiply there like weeds in a dark hole: they take root and
vegetate until they become belief, conviction, and certainty; they
produce the fruit of hostility and hatred, homicidal and incendiary
ideas. With eyes constantly fixed on the chateau, the village
regards it as a Bastille which must be captured, and, instead of
saluting the lord of the manor, it thinks only of firing at him.

Let us take up one of these local histories in detail.[11] In the
month of July, 1789, during the jacquerie in Mâçonnais, the parish
of Villiers appealed for assistance to its lord, M. de Bussy, a
former colonel of dragoons. He had returned home, treated the
people of his village to a dinner, and attempted to form them into a
body of guards to protect themselves against incendiaries and
brigands; along with the well-disposed men of the place "he
patrolled every evening to restore tranquillity to the parish." On a
rumor spreading that "the wells were poisoned," he placed sentinels
alongside of all the wells except his own, "to prove that he was
acting for the parish and not for himself." In short, he did all he
could to conciliate the villagers, and to interest them in the
common safety. - But, by virtue of being a noble and an officer he
is distrusted, and it is Perron, the syndic of the commune, to whom
the commune now listens. Perron announces that the King "having
abjured his sworn word," no more confidence is to be placed in him,
and, consequently, neither in his officers nor in the gentry. On M.
de Bussy proposing to the National Guards that they should go to the
assistance of the chateau of Thil, which is in flames, Perron
prevents them, declaring that "these fires are kindled by the nobles
and the clergy." M. de Bussy insists, and entreats them to go,
offering to abandon "his terrier," that is to say all his seignorial
dues, if they will only accompany him and arrest this destruction.
They refuse to do so. He perseveres, and, on being informed that
the chateau of Juillenas is in peril, he collects, after great
efforts, a body of one hundred and fifty men of his parish, and,
marching with them, arrives in time to save the chateau, which a mob
was about to set on fire. But the popular excitement, which he had
just succeeded in calming at Juillenas, has gained the upper hand
amongst his own troop: the brigands have seduced his men, "which
obliges him to lead them back, while, along the road, they seem
inclined to fire at him." - Having returned, he is followed with
threats even to his own house: a band comes to attack his chateau;
finding it on the defensive, they insist on being led to that of
Courcelles. - ?In the midst of all this violence M. de Bussy, with
about fifteen friends and tenants, succeeds in protecting himself
and, by dint of patience, energy, and cool blood, without killing or
wounding a single man, ends in bringing back security throughout the
whole canton. The jacquerie subsides, and it seems as if the newly
restored order would be maintained. He sends for Madame de Bussy to
return, and some months pass away. - The popular imagination,
however, is poisoned, and whatever a gentleman may do, he is no
longer tolerated on his estate. A few leagues from there, on April
29, 1790, M. de Bois-d'Aisy, deputy to the National Assembly, had
returned to his parish to vote at the new elections.[12] "Scarcely
has he arrived," when the commune of Bois-d'Aisy gives him notice
through its mayor "that it will not regard him as eligible." He
attends the electoral meeting which is held in the church there, a
municipal officer in the pulpit inveighs against nobles and priests,
and declares that they must not take part in the elections. All
eyes turn upon M. de Boisd'Aisy, who is the only noble present.
Nevertheless, he takes the civic oath, which nearly costs him dear,
for murmurs arise around him, and the peasants say that he ought to
have been hanged like the lord of Sainte-Colombe, to prevent his
taking the oath. In fact, the evening before, the latter, M. de
Vitteaux, an old man of seventy-four years of age, was expelled from
the primary assembly, then torn out of the house in which he had
sought refuge, half killed with blows, and dragged through the
streets to the open square; his mouth was stuffed with manure, a
stick was thrust into his ears, and "he expired after a martyrdom of
three hours." The same day, in the church of the Capuchins, at
Sémur, the rural parishes which met together excluded their priests
and gentry in the same fashion. M. de Damas and M. de Sainte-Maure
were beaten with clubs and stones; the curé of Massigny died after
six stabs with a knife, and M. de Virieu saved himself as he best
could. - With such examples before them it is probable that many
of the nobles will no longer exercise their right of suffrage. M.
de Bussy does not pretend to do it. He merely tries to prove that
he is loyal to the nation, and that he meditates no wrong to the
National Guard or to the people. He proposed, at the out-set, to
the volunteers of Mâçon to join them, along with his little troop;
they refused to have him and thus the fault is not on his side. On
the 14th of July, 1790, the day of the Federation on his domain, he
sends all his people off to Villiers, furnished with the tricolour
cockade. He himself, with three of his friends, attends the
ceremony to take the oath, all four in uniform, with the cockade on
their hats, without any weapons but their swords and a light cane in
their hands. They salute the assembled National Guards of the three
neighboring parishes, and keep outside the enclosure so as not to
give offense. But they have not taken into account the prejudices
and animosities of the new municipal bodies. Perron, the former
syndic, is now mayor. A man named Bailly, who is the village
shoemaker, is another of the municipal officers; their councilor is
an old dragoon, one of those soldiers probably who have deserted or
been discharged, and who are the firebrands of almost every riot
that takes place. A squad of a dozen or fifteen men leave the ranks
and march up to the four gentlemen, who advance, hat in hand, to
meet them. Suddenly the men aim at them, and Bailly, with a furious
air, demands: "What the devil do you come here for?" M. de Bussy
replies that, having been informed of the Federation, he had come to
take the oath like the rest of the people. Bailly asks why he had
come armed. M. de Bussy remarks that "having been in the service,
the sword was inseparable from the uniform," and had they come there
without that badge they would have been at fault; besides, they must
have observed that they had no other arms. Bailly, still in a rage,
and, moreover, exasperated by such good reasons, turns round with
his gun in his hand towards the leader of the squad and asks him
three times in succession, "Commander, must I fire?" The commander
not daring to take the responsibility of so gratuitous a murder,
remains silent, and finally orders M. de Bussy to "clear out;"
"which I did," says M. de Bussy. - Nevertheless, on reaching home,
he writes to the municipal authorities clearly setting forth the
motive of his coming, and demands an explanation of the treatment he
had received. Mayor Perron throws aside his letter without reading
it, and, on the following day, on leaving the mass, the National
Guards come, by way of menace, to load their guns in sight of M. de
Bussy, round his garden. - A few days after this, at the instigation
of Bailly, two other proprietors in the neighborhood are
assassinated in their houses. Finally, on a journey to Lyons, M. de
Bussy learns "that the chateaux in Poitou are again in flames, and
that the work is to begin again everywhere." - Alarmed at all
these indications, "he resolves to form a company of volunteers,
which, taking up their quarters in his chateau, can serve the whole
canton on a legal requisition." He thinks that about fifteen brave
men will be sufficient. He has already six men with him in the
month of October, 1790; green coats are ordered for them, and
buttons are bought for the uniform. Seven or eight domestics may be
added to the number. In the way of arms and munitions the chateau
contains two kegs of gunpowder which were on hand before 1789, seven
blunderbusses, and five cavalry sabers, left there in passing by M.
de Bussy's old dragoons: to these must be added two double-barreled
fowling-pieces, three soldiers' muskets, five brace of pistols, two
poor common guns, two old swords, and a hunting-knife. Such is the
garrison, such the arsenal, and these are the preparations, so well
justified and so slight, which prejudice conjointly with gossip is
about to transform into a great conspiracy.

The chateau, in effect, was an object of suspicion in the village
from the very first day. All its visitors, whenever they went out
or came in, with all the details of their actions, were watched,
denounced, exaggerated, and misinterpreted. If through the
awkwardness or carelessness of so many inexperienced National
Guards, a stray ball reaches a farm-house one day in broad daylight,
it comes from the chateau; it is the aristocrats who have fired upon
the peasants. - There is the same state of suspicion in the
neighboring towns. The municipal body of Valence, hearing that two
youths had ordered coats made "of a color which seemed suspicious,"
send for the tailor; he confesses the fact, and adds that "they
intended to put the buttons on themselves." Such a detail is
alarming. An inquiry is set on foot and the alarm increases; people
in a strange uniform have been seen passing on their way to the
chateau of Villiers; from thence, on reaching the number of two
hundred, they will go and join the garrison of Besançon; they will
travel four at a time in order to avoid detection. At Besançon they
are to meet a corps of forty thousand men, commanded by M.
Autichamp, which corps is to march on to Paris to carry off the
King, and break up the National Assembly. The National Guards along
the whole route are to be forced into the lines. At a certain
distance each man is to receive 1,200 francs, and, at the end of the
expedition, is to be enrolled in the Artois Guard, or sent home with
a recompense of 12,000 francs. - ?Meanwhile, the Prince de Condé;
with forty thousand men, will come by the way of Pont Saint-Esprit
in Languedoc, rally the disaffected of Carpentras and of the Jalès
camp to his standard, and occupy Cette and the other seaports; and
finally, the Comte d'Artois, on his side, will enter by Pont-
Beauvoisin with thirty thousand men. - A horrible discovery! The
municipal authorities of Valence immediately inform those of Lyons,
Besançon, Châlons, Maçon, and others beside. On the strength of
this the municipal body of Maçon, "considering that the enemies of
the Revolution are ever making the most strenuous efforts to
annihilate the Constitution which secures the happiness of this
empire," and "that it is highly important to frustrate their
designs," sends two hundred men of its National Guard to the chateau
of Villiers," empowered to employ armed force in case of
resistance." For greater security, this troop is joined by the
National Guards of the three neighboring parishes. M. de Bussy, on
being told that they were climbing over the wall into his garden,
seizes a gun and takes aim, but does not fire, and then, the
requisition being legal, throws all open to them. There are found in
the house six green coats, seven dozens of large buttons, and
fifteen dozens of small ones. The proof is manifest. He explains
what his project was and states his motive - it is a mere pretext.
He makes a sign, as an order, to his valet - there is a positive
complicity. M. de Bussy, his six guests, and the valet, are
arrested and transported to Maçon. A trial takes place, with
depositions and interrogatories, in which the truth is elicited in
spite of the most adverse testimony; it is clear that M. de Bussy
never intended to do more than defend himself. - But prejudice is
a blindfold to hostile eyes. It cannot be admitted that, under a
constitution which is perfect, an innocent man could incur danger;
the objection is made to him that "it is not natural for an armed
company to be formed to resist a massacre by which it is not menaced
;" they are convinced beforehand that he is guilty. On a decree of
the National Assembly the minister had ordered all accused persons
to be brought to Paris by the constabulary and hussars; the National
Guard of Maçon, "in the greatest state of agitation," declares that,
"as it had arrested M. de Bussy, it would not consent to his
transport by any other body. . . Undoubtedly, the object is to
allow him to escape on the way," but it will know how to keep its
captive secure. The guard, in fine, of its own authority, escorts
M. de Bussy to Paris, into the Abbaye prison, where he is kept
confined for several months - so long, indeed, that, after a new
trial and investigation, the absurdity of the accusation being too
palpable, they are obliged to set him at liberty. - Such is the
situation of most of the gentry on their own estates, and M. de
Bussy, even acquitted and vindicated, will act wisely in not
returning home.


Domiciliary visits. - The fifth jacquerie. - Burgundy and
Lyonnais in 1791. - M. de Chaponay and M. Guillin-Dumoutet

He would be nothing but a hostage there. Alone against thousands,
sole survivor and representative of an abolished régime which all
detest, it is the noble against whom everybody turns whenever a
political shock seems to shake the new régime. He is at least
disarmed, as he might be dangerous, and, in these popular
executions, brutal instincts and appetites break loose like a bull
that dashes through a door and rages through a dwelling-house. In
the same department, some months later, on the news arriving of the
arrest of the King at Varennes, "all nonjuring[13] priests and ci-
devant nobles are exposed to the horrors of persecution." Bands
forcibly enter houses to seize arms: Commarin, Grosbois, Montculot,
Chaudenay, Créancé, Toisy, Chatellenot, and other houses are thus
visited, and several are sacked. During the night of June 26-27,
1791, at the chateau of Créancé "there is pillaging throughout; the
mirrors are broken, the pictures are torn up, and the doors are
broken down." The master of the house, "M. de Comeau-Créncé, Knight
of St. Louis, horribly maltreated, is dragged to the foot of the
stairs, where he lies as if dead:" previous to this, "he was forced
to give a considerable contribution, and to refund all penalties
collected by him before the Revolution as the local lord of the
manor. " - Two other proprietors in the neighborhood, both
Knights of St. Louis, are treated in the same way. "That is the
way in which three old and brave soldiers are rewarded for their
services!" A fourth, a peaceable man, escapes beforehand, leaving
his keys in the locks and his gardener in the house.
Notwithstanding this, the doors and the clothes-presses were broken
open, the pillaging lasting five hours and a half; with threats of
setting the house on fire if the seigneur did not make his
appearance. Questions were asked "as to whether he attended the
mass of the new curé whether he had formerly exacted fines, and
finally, whether any of the inhabitants had any complaint to make
against him." No complaint is made; on the contrary, he is rather
beloved. - But, in tumults of this sort, a hundred madmen and
fifty rogues prescribe the law to the timid and the indifferent.
These outlaws declared that "they were acting under orders; they
compelled the mayor and prosecuting attorney to take part in their
robberies; they likewise took the precaution to force a few honest
citizens, by using the severest threats, to march along with them."
These people come the next day to apologize to the pillaged
proprietor, while the municipal officers draw up a statement of the
violence practiced against them. The violence nevertheless, is
accomplished, and, as it will go unpunished, it is soon to be

A beginning and an end are already made in the two neighboring
departments. There, especially in the south, nothing is more
instructive than to see how an outbreak stimulated by enthusiasm for
the public good immediately degenerates under the impulse of private
interest, and ends in crime. - Around Lyons,[14] under the same
pretext and at the same date, similar mobs perform similar
visitations, and, on all these occasions, "the rent-rolls are burnt,
and houses are pillaged and set on fire. Municipal authority,
organized for the security of property, is in many hands but one
facility more for its violation. The National Guard seems to be
armed merely for the protection of robbery and disorder." - For
more than thirty years, M. de Chaponay, the father of six children
of whom three are in the service, expended his vast income on his
estate of Beaulieu, giving occupation to a number of persons, men,
women, and children. After the hailstorm of 1761, which nearly
destroyed the village of Moranée, he rebuilt thirty-three houses,
furnished others with timber for the framework, supplied the
commune with wheat, and, for several years, obtained for the
inhabitants a diminution of their taxation. In 1790, he celebrated
the Federation Festival on a magnificent scale, giving two banquets,
one of a hundred and thirty seats, for the municipal bodies and
officers of the National Guards in the vicinity, and the other of a
thousand seats for the privates. If any of the gentry had reason to
believe himself popular and safe it was certainly this man. - On
the 24th of June, 1791, the municipal authorities of Moranée,
Lucenay, and Chazelai, with their mayors and National Guards, in all
nearly two thousand men, arrive at the chateau with drums beating
and flags flying. M. de Chaponay goes out to meet them, and begs to
know to what he owes "the pleasure" of their visit. They reply that
they do not come to offend him, but to carry out the orders of the
district, which oblige them to take possession of the chateau and to
place in it a guard of sixty men: on the following day the
"district" and the National Guard of Villefranche are to come and
inspect it. - Be it noted that these orders are imaginary, for M.
de Chaponay asks in vain to see them; they cannot be produced. The
cause of their setting out, probably, is the false rumor that the
National Guard of Villefranche is coming to deprive them of a booty
on which they had calculated. - Nevertheless M. de Chaponay
submits; he merely requests the municipal officers to make the
search themselves and in an orderly manner. Upon this the
commandant of the National Guard of Lucenay exclaims, with some
irritation, that "all are equal and all must go in," and at the same
moment all rush forward. "M. de Chaponay orders the apartments to
be opened; they immediately shut them up, purposely to let the
sappers break through the doors with their axes." - Everything is
pillaged, "plate, assignats, stocks of linen, laces and other
articles; the trees of the avenues are hacked and mutilated; the
cellars are emptied, the casks are rolled out on the terrace, the
wine is suffered to run out, and the chateau keep is demolished. .
. . The officers urge on those that are laggard." Towards nine
o'clock in the evening M. de Chaponay is informed by his servants
that the municipal authorities have determined upon forcing him to
sign an abandonment of his feudal dues and afterwards beheading him.

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