Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The French Revolution, Volume 3 The Origins of Contemporary France, Volume 4 by Hippolyte A. Taine

Part 3 out of 12

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

[38] Ibid., IV., 688.An order of the Director, Germinal 14, year VI.
- "The municipal governments will designate special days in each
decade for market days in their respective districts, and not allow,
in any case, their ordinance to be set aside on the plea that the said
market days would fall on a holiday. They will specially strive to
break up all connection between the sales of fish and days of fasting
designated on the old calendar. Every person exposing food or wares
on sale in the markets on days other than those fixed by the municipal
government will be prosecuted in the police court for obstructing a
public thoroughfare." - The Thermidorians remain equally as anti-
Catholic as their predecessors; only, they disavow open persecution
and rely on slow pressure. (Moniteur, XIII., 523. Speech by Boissy
d'Anglas, Ventôse 3, year II.) "Keep an eye on what you cannot hinder;
regulate what you cannot prohibit. . . . It will not be long
before these absurd dogmas, the offspring of fear and error, whose
influence on the human mind has been so steadily destructive, will be
known only to be despised. . . . It will not be long before the
religion of Socrates, of Marcus Aurelius and Cicero will be the
religion of the whole world."

[39] Moniteur, XVI., 646. (The King's trial.) Speech by Robespierre:
"the right of punishing the tyrant and of dethroning him is one and
the same thing." - Speech by Saint-Just: "Royalty is an eternal crime,
against which every man has the right of taking up arms . . . To
reign innocently is impossible!"

[40] Epigraph of Marat's journal: Ute readapt miseries, abet Fortuna
superb is.

[41] Buchez et Roux, XXXII., 323. (Report of Saint-Just, Germinal 21,
year II., and a decree of Germinal 26-29, Art. 4, 13, 15.) - Ibid.,

[42] Buchez et Roux, (Report of Saint-Just, October 10, 1793.) "That
would be the only good they could do their country. . . . It would
be no more than just for the people to reign over its oppressors in
its turn, and that their pride should be bathed in the sweat of their

[43] Ibid., XXXI., 309. (Report of Saint-Just, Ventôse 8, year II.)

[44] Ibid., XXVI. 435. (Speech by Robespierre on the constitution,
May 10, 1793.) "What were our usages and pretended laws other than a
code of impertinence and baseness, where contempt of men was subject
to a sort of tariff, and graduated according to regulations as odd as
they were numerous? To despise and be despised, to cringe in order to
rule, slaves and tyrants in turn, now kneeling before a master, now
trampling the people under foot - such was the ambition of all of us,
so long as we were men of birth or well educated men, whether common
folks or fashionable folks, lawyers or financiers, pettifoggers or
wearing swords." - Archives Nationales, F7, 31167. (Report of the
observatory Chaumont, Nivôse 10, year II.) - "Boolean's effigy, placed
in the college of Lisle, has been lowered to the statues of the
saints, the latter being taken out of their niches. There is now no
kind of distinction. Saints and authors are of the same class."

[45] Buchez et Roux., 296. ("Institutions" by Saint-Just.) - Meillan,
"Mémoires," p. 17. - Anne Plumptre, "A narrative of three years'
residence in France, from 1802 to 1805," II., 96. At Marseilles: "The
two great crimes charged on those who doomed to destruction, were here
as elsewhere, wealth and aristocracy. . . It had been decreed by
the Terrorists that no person could have occasion for more than two
hundred livres a year, and that no income should be permitted to
exceed that sum."

[46] Archives Nationales, F7, 4437. (Address of the people's club of
Caisson (Gard), Messidor 7, year II.) "The Bourgeoisie, the
merchants, the large land-owners have all the pretension of the ex-
nobles. The law provides no means for opening the eyes of the common
people in relation to these new tyrants. The club desires that the
revolutionary tribunal should be empowered to condemn this proud class
of individuals to a prompt partial confinement. The people would then
see that they had committed a misdemeanor and would withdraw that sort
of respect in which they hold them." A note in the hand-writing of
Couthon: "Left to the decision of popular commissions."

[47] Gouvernor Morris, in a letter of January 4, 1796, says that
French capitalists have been financially ruined by assignats, and
physically by the guillotine. - Buchez et Roux, XXX., 26. (Notes
written by Robespierre in June, 1793.) "Internal dangers come from the
bourgeois. . . who are our enemies? The vicious and the rich."

[48] Narrative by M. Sylvester de Sacy (May 23, 1873): His father
owned a farm bringing in four thousand francs per annum; the farmer
offered him four thousand francs in assignats or a hog; M. de Sacy
took the hog.

[49] Buchez et Roux, XXXI., 441. (Report by Cambon on the institution
of the grand livre of public debt, August 15, 1793.)

[50] Ibid., XXXI., 311. Report by Saint-Just, February 26, 1794, and
decree in accordance therewith, unanimously adopted. See, in
particular, article 2. - Moniteur, 12 Ventôse, year II. (meeting of
the Jacobin club, speech by Collot d'Herbois). "The Convention has
declared that prisoners must prove that they were patriots from the
1st of May 1789. When the patriots and enemies of the Revolution
shall be fully known, then the property of the former shall be
inviolable and held sacred, while that of the latter will be
confiscated for the benefit of the republic."

[51] Buchez et Roux, XXVI., 455 (Session of the Jacobin Club, May 10,
1793, speech by Robespierre.) - Ibid., (Report by Saint-Just, Feb.
26, 1794.) "He who has shown himself an enemy of his country cannot be
one of its proprietors. Only he has patrimonial rights who has helped
to free it."

[52] Buchez et Roux, XXXI., 93 and 130. (Speech by Robespierre on
property, and the declaration of rights adopted by the Jacobin club.)
Decree of Sept. 3, 1793 (articles 13 and 14).

[53] Moniteur, XXII., 719. (Report by Cambon, Frimaire 6, year III.)
At Bordeaux Raba has been sentenced to pay a fine of 1,200,000 francs,
Pechotte to pay 500,000 francs, Martin-Martin to 300,000 francs." -
Cf. Rodolphe Reuss, "Séligmann Alexandre ou les Tribulations d'un
israélite de Strasbourg."

[54] Ibid., XVIII., 486. (Report by Cambon, Frimaire 1, year II.)
"The egotists who, some time ago, found it difficult to pay for the
national domains they had acquired from the Republic, even in
assignats, now bring us their gold . . . Collectors of the revenue
who had buried their gold have come and offered to pay what they owe
the nation in ingots of gold and silver. These have been refused, the
Assembly having decreed the confiscation of these objects."

[55] Decree of Brumaire 23, year II. On taxes and confiscations in
the provinces see M. de Martel, "Etude sur Fouché et Pieces
authentiques servant à l'histoire de la revolution à Strasbourg." And
further on the details of this operation at Troyes. - Meillan, 90:
"At Bordeaux, merchants were heavily taxed, not on account of their
incivism, but on account of their wealth."

[56] Decree of March 7-11, 1793.

[57] Moniteur, XVIII., 274, decrees of Brumaire 4, and ibid, 305,
decree of Brumaire 9, year II., establishing equal partition of
inheritances with retroactive effect to July 14, 1789. Adulterous
bastards are excepted. The reporter of the bill, Cambacèrés, laments
this regrettable exception.

[58] Rights of inheritance allowed to the descendants of a deceased
person who never enjoyed these rights, but who might have enjoyed them
had he been living when they fell to him. - Tr.

[59] Fenet, "Travaux du Code civil." (Report by Cambacèrés on the Code
civil, August 9, 1793). The spokesman for the committee that had
framed the bill makes excuses for not having deprived the father of
all the disposable portion. "The committee believed that such a
clause would seriously violate our customs without being of any
benefit to society or of any moral advantage. We assured ourselves,
moreover, that there should always be a division of property." With
respect to donations: "It is repugnant to all ideas of beneficence to
allow donations to the rich. Nature is averse to the making of such
gifts so long as our eyes dwell on misery and misfortune. These
affecting considerations have determined us to fix a point, a sort of
maximum, which prohibits gifts on the part of those who have reached
that point."

[60] Moniteur, XII., 730, (June 22, 1792), speech by Lamarque. - But
this principle is encountered everywhere. "Equality, indeed, (is) the
final aim of social art." (Condorcet, 'Tableau des progrès de l'esprit
humain," II., 59. - "We desired," writes Baudot, "to apply to
politics the equality which the Gospel awards to Christians." (Quinet,
"Revolution Française, II., 407.)

[61] Buchez et Roux, XXXV, 296 (The words of Saint-Just.) - Moniteur,
XVIII, 505 (Ordinance of the Paris Commune, Frimaire 3, year II).
"Wealth and Poverty must alike disappear under the régime of

[62] Ib. XXXV, 296 ("Institutions" by Saint-Just). "A man is not
made for trades, nor for a workhouse nor for an alms-house; all this
is frightful." - Ibid., XXXI., 312. (Report of Saint-Just, Ventôse 8,
year II.) "Let all Europe see that you will not allow a miserable man
on French territory! . . . Happiness is a new idea in Europe."

[63] Ib. XXXV, 296 ("Institutions" by Saint-Just.)

[64] Moniteur, XX, 444 ( Report by Barère, Floreal 22, year II).
"Mendicity is incompatible with popular government."

[65] Ib., XIX., 568. (Report by Saint-Just, Ventôse 8, year II.)

[66] Ib., XX, 448 (Rapport by Barère, Floreal 22).

[67] Ibid., XIX., 568. (Report by Saint-Just, Ventôse 8, and decree
of Ventôse 13.) "The Committee of Public Safety will report on the
means of indemnifying the unfortunate with property belonging to the
enemies of the Revolution."

[68] Ibid., XIX., 484. (Report by Barère, Ventôse 21, year II.) -
Ibid., XX., 445. (Report by Barère, Floréal 22, year II.) - Decrees
on public assistance, June 28, 1793, July 25, 1793, Frimaire 2, and
Floréal 22, year II.) - this principle, moreover, was set forth in the
Constitution of 1793. "Public help is a sacred obligation; society
owes a subsistence to unfortunate citizens, whether by providing work
for them, or by ensuring the means of existence to those who are not
in a condition to work." - Archives Nationales, AF. II., 39. The
character of this measure is very clearly expressed in the following
circular of the Committee of Public Safety to its representatives on
mission in the departments, Ventôse, year II. "A summary act was
necessary to put the aristocracy down. The national Convention has
struck the blow. Virtuous indigence had to recover the property which
crime had encroached upon. The national Convention has proclaimed its
rights. A general list of all prisoners should be sent to the
Committee of General Security, charged with deciding on their fate.
The Committee of Public Safety will receive the statement of the
indigent in each commune so as to regulate what is due to them. Both
these proceedings demand the utmost dispatch and should go together.
It is necessary that terror and justice be brought to bear on all
points at once. The Revolution is the work of the people and it is
time they should have the benefit of it."

[69] Moniteur, XX., 449. (Report by Barère, Floréal 22, year II.)

[70] Decree of April 2-5, 1793.

[71] Moniteur, XVIII., 505. (Orders of Fouché and Collet d'Herbois,
dated at Lyons and communicated to the commune of Paris, Frimaire 3,
year II.) - De Martel, "Etude sur Fouché," 132. Orders of Fouché on
his mission in the Nievre, Sept. 19, 1793. "There shall be
established in each district town a Committee of Philanthropy,
authorized to levy on the rich a tax proportionate to the number of
the indigent."

[72] Decree of April 2-5, 1793. "There shall be organized in each
large commune a guard of citizens selected from the least fortunate.
These citizens shall be armed and paid at the expense of the

[73] Moniteur, XX., 449. (Report of Barère, Floréal 22, year II.)

[74] Ibid., XIX., 689. (Report by Saint-Just, Ventôse 23, year II.)
"We spoke of happiness. It is not the happiness of Persepolis we
have offered to you. It is that of Sparta or Athens in their best
days, the happiness of virtue, that of comfort and moderation, the
happiness which springs from the enjoyment of the necessary without
the superfluous, the luxury of a cabin and of a field fertilized by
your own hands. A cart, a thatched roof affording shelter from the
frosts, a family safe from the lubricity of a robber - such is happiness!"

[75] Buchez et Roux, XXXI., 402. (Constitution of 1793.)

[76] Ibid. XXXV., 310. ("Institutions", by Saint-Just.)

[77] Ibid., XXVI., 93 and 131. (Speech by Robespierre on property,
April 24, 1793, and declaration of rights adopted by the Jacobin
Club.) - Mallet-Dupan, "Mémoires," I., 401. (Address of a deputation
from Gard.) "Material wealth is no more the special property of any
one member of the social body than base metal stamped as a circulating

[78] Moniteur, VIII., 452. (Speech by Hébert in the Jacobin Club,
Brumaire 26, year II.) "Un Séjour en France de 1792 à 1795," p.218.
(Amiens, Oct. 4, 1794.) "While waiting this morning at a shop door I
overheard a beggar bargaining for a slice of pumpkin. Unable to agree
on the price with the woman who kept the shop he pronounced her
'corrupted with aristocracy.' 'I defy you to prove it!' she replied.
But, as she spoke, she turned pale and added, 'Your civism is beyond
all question - but take your pumpkin.' 'Ah,' returned the beggar,
'what a good republican!'"

[79] Ibid., XVIII., 320. (Meeting of Brumaire 11, year II. Report by
Barère.) - Meillan, 17. Already, before the 31st May: "The tribune
resounded with charges against monopoly, every man being a monopolist
who was not reduced to living on daily wages or on alms."

[80] Decrees of July 26, 1793, Sept. 11 and 29; Brumaire 11, and
Ventôse 6, year II.

[81] Moniteur, XVIII., 359. "Brumaire 16, year II. Sentence of death
of Pierre Gourdier, thirty-six years of age, stock-broker, resident in
Paris, rue Bellefond, convicted of having monopolized and concealed in
his house a large quantity of bread, in order to bread scarcity in the
midst of abundance." He had gastritis and could eat nothing but panada
made with toast, and the baker who furnished this gave him thirty
pieces at a time (Wallon, II., 155).

[82] Journal of the debates of the Jacobin Club, No. 532, Brumaire
20, year II. (Plan of citizen Dupré, presented in the Convention by a
deputation of the Arcis Club.) - Dauban, "Paris en 1794," p. 483 (a
project similar to the former, presented to the Committee of Public
Safety by the Jacobin Club of Montereau, Thermidor, year II.)

[83] These proposals should come to haunt western civilization for a
long time. (SR.)

[84] Buchez et Roux, XXXV., 272. ("Institutions," by Saint-Just.)

[85] These ideas were still powerful even before Taine wrote these
words in 1882. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations cites a
declaration made by 47 anarchists on trial after their uprising in
Lyons in 1870: "We wish, in a word, equality - equality in fact as
corollary, or rather, as primordial condition of liberty. From each
according to his faculties, to each according to his needs; that is
what we wish sincerely and energetically."

[86] Buchez et Roux, XXXI, 273, (Report by Robespierre, Pluviôse17,
year II. (7 Feb. 1794).

[87] Moniteur, XIX (Rapport by Barère, Ventôse 21, an II). "You
should detect and combat federalism in all your institutions, as your
natural enemy....A grand central establishment for all the work of the
Republic is an effective means against federalism." - Buchez et Roux,
XXXI, 351, et XXXII, 316 (Rapports by Saint-Just, Ventôse 23 et
Germinal 26, year II). "Immorality is a federalism in the civil
state...Civil federalism, by isolating all parts of the state, has
dried up abundance."

[88] Decree of Germinal 26-29, year II. Financial companies are and
hereby remain suppressed. All bankers, commission merchants, and
other persons, are forbidden to form any establishment of this order
under any pretext or under any denomination."

[89] " Memoires de Carnot," I., 278 (Report by Carnot). "That is not
family life. If there are local privileges there will soon be
individual privileges and local aristocracy will bring along in its
train the aristocracy of inhabitants."

[90] Moniteur, XIX., 683 (Rapport by Barère, Ventôse 21, year II). --
This report should be read in full to comprehend the communistic and
centralizing spirit of the Jacobins. (Undoubtedly Lenin, during his
years in Paris, had read Taine's footnote and asked the national
library for a copy of this rapport. SR.)

[91] Fenet, "Travaux du Code civil," 105 (Rapports by Cambacérès,
August 9, 1793 and September 9, 1794). - Decrees of September 20,
1793 and Floréal 4, year II (On divorce). - Cf. "Institutions," by
Saint-Just (Buchez et Roux, XXXV, 302). "A man and woman who love
each other are married; if they have no children they may keep their
relationship secret."

[92] This article of the Jacobin program, like the others, has its
practical result. - "At Paris, in the twenty-seven months after the
promulgation of the law of September, 1792, the courts granted five
thousand nine hundred and ninety-four divorces, and in year VI, the
number of divorces exceeded the marriages." (Glasson, le Mariage civil
et le Divorce, 51.) - "The number of foundlings which, in 1790, in
France, did not exceed twenty-three thousand, is now (year X.) more
than sixty-three thousand. "Statistique de la Sarthe," by Auvray,
prefect, year, X.) - In the Lot-et-Garonne (Statistique, by Peyre,
préfet, year X ), more than fifteen hundred foundlings are counted:
"this extraordinary number increased during the Revolution through the
too easy admission of foundlings into the asylums, through the
temporary sojourning of soldiers in their homes, through the
disturbance of every moral and religious principle." - "It is not rare
to find children of thirteen and fourteen talking and acting in a way
that would have formerly disgraced a young man of twenty." (Moselle,
Analyse, by Ferrière.) - "The children of workmen are idle and
insubordinate; some indulge in the most shameful conduct against their
parents;" others try stealing and use the coarsest language."
(Meurthe, Statistique, by Marquis, préfet.) - Cf. Anne Plumptre (A
Narrative of three years' residence in France from 1802 to 1805, I.
436). "You would not believe it, Madame, said a gardener to her at
Nimes, that during the Revolution we dared not scold our children for
their faults. Those who called themselves patriots regarded it as
against the fundamental principles of liberty to correct children.
This made them so unruly that, very often, when a parent presumed to
scold its child the latter would tell him to mind his business,
adding, 'we are free and equal, the Republic is our only father and
mother ; if you are not satisfied, I am. Go where you like it
better.' Children are still saucy. It will take a good many years to
bring them back to minding.'

[93] Buchez et Roux, XXXII., 364 (Report by Robespierre, Floréal 8,
year II.)

[94] Buchez et Roux, XXXII., 385 - (Address of a Jacobin deputation to
the Convention, Floréal 27, year II.) - At Bayeux, the young girl who
represented Liberty, had the following inscription on her breast or
back: "Do not make of me an instrument of licentiousness." (Gustave
Flaubert, family souvenirs.)

[95] Buchez et Roux, XXXI., 415. (Report by Fabre d'Eglantine,
October 6, 1793.) - (Grégoire, "Memoires," I., 341.) "The new calendar
was invented by Romme in order to get rid of Sunday. This was his
object; he admitted it to me."

[96] Ibid., XXXII., 274. (Report by Robespierre, Floréal 18, year
II.) "National Festivals form an essential part of public
education.... A system of national festivals is the most powerful
means of regeneration."

[97] Ibid., XXXVIII., 335. Marat's heart, placed on a table in the
Cordéliers Club, was an object of religious reverence. - (Grégoire,
"Mémoires," I., 341.) "In some schools the pupils were obliged to make
the sign of the cross at the names of Marat, Lazowski, etc."

[98] Comte de Martel, "Étude sur Fouché," 137. Fête at Nevers, on the
inaguration of a bust of Brutus. - Ibid., 222, civic festival at
Nevers in honor of valor and morals. - Dauban, "Paris en 1794."
Programme of the fête of the supreme Being at Sceaux.

[99] An expression by Rabaut Saint-Etienne.

[100] Ibid., XXXII., 373 (Report by Robespierre, Floréal 15, year II.)
- Danton had expressed precisely the same opinion, supported by the
same arguments, at the meeting of Frimaire 22, year II. (Moniteur,
XVIII, 654.) "Children first belong to the Republic before belonging
to their parents. Who will assure me that these children, inspired by
parental egoism, will not become dangerous to the Republic? What do we
care for the ideas of an individual alongside of national ideas? ...
Who among us does not know the danger of this constant isolation? It
is in the national schools that the child must suck republican milk!
.... The Republic is one and indivisible. Public instruction must
likewise relate to this center of unity."

[101] Decree of Vendémaire 30 and Brumaire 7, year II. - Cf. Sauzay,
VI., 252, on the application of this decree in the provinces.

[102] Albert Duruy, 2L'Instruction publique et la Revolution,2 164, to
172 (extracts from various republican spelling-books and catechisms).
- Decree of Frimaire 29, year II., section I., art. I, 83; section
II., art. 2; section III., arts. 6 and 9.

[103] Moniteur, XVIII., 653. (Meeting of Frimaire 22, speech by
Bouquir, reporter.)

[104] Moniteur, XVIII., 351-359. (Meeting of Brumaire 15, year II.,
report by Chénier.) "You have made laws - create habits. . . . You
can apply to the public instruction of the nation the same course that
Rousseau follows in 'Emile.' "

[105] The words of Bouquier, reporter. (Meeting of Frimaire 22, year

[106] Buchez et Roux, XXIV, 57 (Plan by Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau,
read by Robespierre at the Convention, July 13, 1793.) - Ibid., 35.
(Draft of a decree by the same hand.)

[107] Ibid., XXX., 229. ("Institutions," by Saint-Just.)

[108] Buchez et Roux, XXXI., 261. (Meeting of Nivose 17.) On the
committee presenting the final draft of the decrees on public
instruction the Convention adopts the following article: "All boys
who, on leaving the primary schools of instruction, do not devote
themselves to tillage, will be obliged to learn some science, art or
occupation useful to society. Otherwise, on reaching twenty, they
will be deprived of citizens' rights for ten years, and the same
penalty will be laid on their father, mother, tutor or guardian."

[109] Decree of Prairial 13, year II.

[110] Langlois, "Souvenirs de l'Ecole de Mars."

[111] Buchez et Roux, XXXII., 355. (Report by Robespierre, Floréal
18, year II.)

[112] Moniteur, XVIII., 326. (Meeting of the Commune, Brumaire 11,
year II.) the commissary announces that, at Fontainebleau and other
places, "he has established the system of equality in the prisons and
places of confinement, where the rich and the poor partake of the same
food." - Ibid., 210. (Meeting of the Jacobins, Vendémiaire 29, year
II. Speech by Laplance on his mission to Gers.) "Priests had every
comfort in their secluded retreats; the sans-culottes in the prisons
slept on straw. The former provided me with mattresses for the
latter." - Ibid., XVIII., 445. (Meeting of the convention, Brumaire
26, year II.) "The Convention decrees that the food of persons kept in
places of confinement shall be simple and the same for all, the rich
paying for the poor."

[113] Archives Nationales. (AF. II., 37, order of Lequinio, Saintes,
Nivose 1, year II.) "Citizens generally in all communes, are requested
to celebrate the day of the decade by a fraternal banquet which,
served without luxury or display . . . will render the man bowed
down with fatique insensible to his forlorn condition; which will fill
the soul of the poor and unfortunate with the sentiment of social
equality and raise man up to the full sense of his dignity; which will
suppress with the rich man the slightest feeling of pride and
extinguish in the public functionary all germs of haughtiness and

[114] Archives Nationales, AF. II., ii., 48 (Act of Floréal 25, year
II.) "the Committee of Public Safety request David, representative of
the people, to present his views and plans in relation to modifying
the present national costume, so as to render it appropriate to
republican habits and the character of the Revolution." - Ibid., (Act
of Prairial 5, year II.) for engraving and coloring twenty thousand
impressions of the design for a civil uniform, and six thousand
impressions for the three designs for a military, judicial and
legislative uniform.

[115] An identical change took, strangely enough and as caused by some
hidden force, place in Denmark in the seventies. (SR.)

[116] This is now the case in the entire Western 'democratic' sphere,
in newspapers, schools, and on television. (SR.)

[117] Ibid, XXXI., 271. (Report by Robespierre, Pluviose 1, year II.)
"This sublime principle supposes a preference for public interests
over all private interests; from which it follows that the love of
country supposes again, or produces, all the virtues." "As the essence
of a republic or of democracy is equality, it follows that love of
country necessarily comprises a love of equality." "The soul of the
Republic is virtue, equality." - Lavalette, "Memoirs," I., 254.
(Narrated by Madame Lavalette.) She was compelled to attend public
festivals, and, every month, the patriotic processions. "I was rudely
treated by my associates, the low women of the quarter; the daughter
of an emigré, of a marquis, or of an imprisoned mother, ought not to
be allowed the honor of their company; .... it was all wrong that she
was not made an apprentice.... Hortense de Beauharnais was
apprenticed to her mother's seamstress, while Eugene was put with a
carpenter in the Faubourg St. Germain." The prevailing dogmatism has
a singular effect with simple-minded people. (Archives Nationals, AF.
II., 135. petition of Ursule Riesler, servant to citizen Estreich and
arrested along with him, addressed to Garneri, agent of the Committee
of Public Safety. She begs citizen Garnerin to interest himself in
obtaining her freedom. She will devote her life to praying to the
Supreme Being for him, since he will redeem her life. He is to
furnish her, moreover, with the means for espousing a future husband,
a genuine republican, by who she is pregnant, and who would not allow
her to entertain any idea of fanatical capers.



Reactionary concept of the State. - Analogy between this idea of the
State and that of antiquity. - Difference between antique and modern
society. - Changed circumstances.

The Jacobin theory can then be summarized in the following points:

* The speculative creation of a curtailed type of human being.
* An effort to adapt the living man to this type.
* The interference of public authority in every branch of public
* Constraints put upon labor, trade and property, upon the family and
education, upon worship, habits, customs and sentiments.
* The sacrifice of the individual to the community.
* The omnipotence of the State.

No theory could be more reactionary since it moves modern man back to
a type of society which he, eighteen centuries ago, had already passed
through and left behind.

During the historical era proceeding our own, and especially in the
old Greek or Latin cities, in Rome or Sparta, which the Jacobins take
for their models,[1] human society was shaped after the pattern of an
army or convent. In a convent as in an army, one idea, absorbing and
unique, predominates:

* The aim of the monk is to please God at any sacrifice.
* The soldier makes every sacrifice to obtain a victory.

Accordingly, each renounces every other desire and entirely abandons
himself, the monk to his rules and the soldier to his drill. In like
manner, in the antique world, two preoccupations were of supreme
importance. In the first place, the city had its gods who were both
its founders and protectors: it was therefore obliged to worship these
in the most reverent and particular manner; otherwise, they abandoned
it. The neglect of any insignificant rite might offend them and ruin
it. In the second place, there was incessant warfare, and the spoils
of war were atrocious; on a city being taken every citizen might
expect to be killed or maimed, or sold at auction, and see his
children and wife sold to the highest bidder.[2] In short, the antique
city, with its acropolis of temples and its fortified citadel
surrounded by implacable and threatening enemies, resembles for us the
institution of the Knights of St. John on their rocks at Rhodes or
Malta, a religious and military confraternity encamped around a
church. - Liberty, under such conditions, is out of the question:
public convictions are too imperious; public danger is too great.
With this pressure upon him, and thus hampered, the individual gives
himself up to the community, which takes full possession of him,
because, to maintain its own existence, it needs the whole man.
Henceforth, no one may develop apart and for himself; no one may act
or think except within fixed lines. The type of Man is distinctly and
clearly marked out, if not logically at least traditionally; each
life, as well as each portion of each life must conform to this type;
otherwise public security is compromised: any falling off in gymnastic
education weakens the army; passing the images of the gods and
neglecting the usual libation draws down celestial vengeance on the
city. Consequently, to prevent all deviations, the State, absolute
master, exercises unlimited jurisdiction; no freedom whatever is left
to the individual, no portion of himself is reserved to himself, no
sheltered corner against the strong hand of public force, neither his
possessions, his children, his personality, his opinions or his
conscience.[3] If, on voting days, he shares in the sovereignty, he is
subject all the rest of the year, even to his private sentiments.
Rome, to serve these ends, had two censors. One of the archons of
Athens was inquisitor of the faith. Socrates was put to death for not
believing in the gods in which the city believed.[4] - In reality, not
only in Greece and in Rome, but in Egypt, in China, in India, in
Persia, in Judea, in Mexico, in Peru, during the first stages of
civilization,[5] the principle of human communities is still that of
gregarious animals: the individual belongs to his community the same
as the bee to its hive and the ant to its ant-hill; he is simply an
organ within an organism. Under a variety of structures and in
diverse applications authoritative socialism alone prevails.

Just the opposite in modern society; what was once the rule has now
become the exception; the antique system survives only in temporary
associations, like that of an army, or in special associations, as in
a convent. Gradually, the individual has liberated himself, and
century after century, he has extended his domain and the two chains
which once bound him fast to the community, have snapped or been

In the first place, public power has ceased to consist of a militia
protecting a cult. In the beginning, through the institution of
Christianity, civil society and religious society have become two
distinct empires, Christ himself having separated the two

"Render unto Cœsar the things which are Cœsar's, and unto God the
things that are God's."

Additionally, through the rise of Protestantism, the great Church is
split into numerous sects which, unable to destroy each other, have
been so compelled to live together and the State, even when preferring
one of them, has found it necessary to tolerate the others. Finally,
through the development of Protestantism, philosophy and the sciences,
speculative beliefs have multiplied. There are almost as many faiths
now-a-days as there are thinking men, and, as thinking men are
becoming daily more numerous, opinions are daily becoming more
numerous. So should the State try to impose any one of these on
society, this would excite opposition from an infinity of others;
hence the wisdom in governing is found, first, in remaining neutral,
and, next, in acknowledging that it is not qualified to interfere.

In the second place, war has become less frequent and less destructive
because men have not so many motives for waging it, nor the same
motives to push it to the same extremes. Formerly, war was the main
source of wealth; through victories Man acquired slaves, subjects and
tributaries; he turned these to the best account; he leisurely enjoyed
their forced labor. Nothing of this kind is seen now-a-days; people
no longer think of providing themselves human cattle; they have
discovered that, of all animals, these are the most troublesome, the
least productive, and the most dangerous. Comforts and security are
obtained much more readily through free labor and machinery; the great
object no is not to conquer, but to produce and interchange. Every
day, man, pressing forward more eagerly in civil careers, is less
disposed to put up with any obstacle that interferes with his aims; if
he still consents to be a soldier it is not to become an invader, but
to provide against invasion. Meanwhile, war has become more
scientific and, through the complications of its machinery, more
costly; the State can no longer call out and enlist for life every
able-bodied man without ruining itself, nor put too many obstacles in
the way of the free industry which, through taxation, provides for its
expenses; however short-sighted the State may be, it consults civil
interests, even in its military interest. - Thus, of the two nets in
which it has enveloped all human activity, one is rent asunder and the
other has slackened its meshes. There is no longer any reason for
making the community omnipotent; the individual need not alienate
himself entirely; he may, without inconvenience, reserve to himself a
part of himself, and, if now called upon to sign a social contract,
you may be sure that he would make this reservation.


Changed minds. - Conscience and its Christian origin. - Honor and
its feudal origin. - The individual of to-day refuses to surrender
himself entirely. - His motives. - Additional motives in modern
democracy. - Character of the elective process and the quality of the

And so have not only outward circumstances changed, but the very human
attitudes are now different. In the mind of modern man a feeling,
distasteful to the antique pact, has evolved. - Undoubtedly, in
extreme cases and under the pressure of brutal necessity I may,
momentarily, sign a blank check. But, never, if I understand what I
am doing, will I sign away in good faith the complete and permanent
abandonment of myself: it would be against conscience and against
honor, which two possessions are not to be alienated. My honor and my
conscience are not to go out of my keeping; I am their sole guardian
and depositary; I would not even entrust them to my father. - Both
these terms are recent and express two conceptions unknown to the
ancients,[6] both being of profound import and of infinite reach.
Through them, like a bud separated from its stem and taking root
apart, the individual has separated himself from the primitive body,
clan, family, caste or city in which he has lived indistinguishable
and lost in the crowd; he has ceased to be an organ and appendage; he
has become a personality. - The first of these concepts is of
Christian origin the second of feudal origin; both, following each
other and conjoined, measure the enormous distance which separates an
antique soul from a modern soul.[7]

Alone, in the presence of God, the Christian has felt melting, like
wax, all the ties binding him to his group; this because he is in
front of the Great Judge, and because this infallible judge sees all
souls as they are, not confusedly and in masses, but clearly, each by
itself. At the bar of His tribunal no one is answerable for another;
each answers for himself alone; one is responsible only for one's own
acts. But those acts are of infinite consequence, for the soul,
redeemed by the blood of a God, is of immeasurable value; hence,
according as it has or has not profited by the divine sacrifice, so
will the reward or punishment be infinite; at the final judgment, an
eternity of torment or bliss opens before it. All other interests
vanish alongside of a vision of such vastness. Thenceforth,
righteousness is the most serious of all aims, not in the eyes of man,
but of God and again, day after day, the soul renews within itself
that tragic questioning in which the Judge interrogates and the sinner
responds.- Through this dialogue, which has been going on for eighteen
centuries, and which is yet to continue, conscience has grown more and
more sensitive, and man has conceived the idea of absolute justice.
Whether this is vested in an all-powerful master, or whether it is a
self-existent truth, like mathematical truths, in no way diminishes
its sacredness nor, consequently, from its authority. It commands
with a superior voice and its commands must be obeyed, irrespective of
cost: there are strict duties to which every man is rigorously bound.
No pledge may relieve him of these duties; if not fulfilled because he
has given contrary pledges he is no less culpable on this account, and
besides, he is culpable for having pledged himself; the pledging of
himself to crimes was in itself a crime. His fault thus appears to
himself twofold, and the inward prick galls him twice instead of once.
Hence, the more sensitive the conscience, the more loath it is to give
up; it rejects any promise which may lead to wrong-doing, and refuses
to give to give others any right of imposing remorse.

At the same time another sentiment has arisen, not less valuable, but
hardier, more energetic, more human and more effective. On his own in
his stronghold, the feudal chieftain, at the head of his band, could
depend on nobody but himself, for a public force did not then exist.
It was necessary that he should protect himself, and, indeed, over-
protect himself. Whoever, in the anarchical and military society in
which he lived, allowed the slightest encroachment, or left unpunished
the slightest approach to insult, was regarded as weak or craven and
at once became a prey; one had to be proud-spirited, if not, one
risked death. This was not difficult either. Sole proprietor and
nearly absolute sovereign, with neither equals or peers on his domain,
here he was unique being, superior and incomparable to every one
else.[8] On that subject revolved his long monologue during his hours
of gloomy solitude, which soliloquy has lasted for nine centuries.[9]
Thus in his own eyes, his person and all that depends on him are
inviolable; rather than tolerate the slightest infringement on his
prerogatives he will dare all and sacrifice all.[10] A sensitive pride
(orgueil exalté) is the best of sentinels to protect a right; for, not
only does it mount guard over the right to preserve it, but, again,
and especially, for its own satisfaction; the imagination has
conceived a personality appropriate for his rank, and this character
the man imposes on himself as his role. Henceforth, he not only
forces the respect of others, but he respects himself; he possesses
the sentiment of honor, a generous self-esteem which makes him regard
himself as noble and incapable of doing anything mean. In
discriminating between his actions, he may err; fashion or vanity may
sometimes lead him too far, or lead him astray, either on the path of
recklessness or on that of puerility; his point of honor may be fixed
in the wrong direction. But, in sum, and thanks to this being a fixed
point, he will maintain himself erect even under an absolute monarchy,
under a Philip II. in Spain, under a Louis XIV. in France, under a
Frederick II. in Prussia. From the feudal baron or gentleman of the
court to the modern gentleman, this tradition persists and descends
from story to story down to lowest social substratum: to-day, every
man of spirit, the bourgeois, the peasant, the workman, has his point
of honor like the noble. He likewise, in spite of the social
encroachments that gain on him, reserves to himself his private nook,
a sort of moral stronghold wherein he preserves his faiths, his
opinions, his affections, his obligations as son, husband and father;
it is the sacred treasury of his innermost being. This stronghold
belongs to him alone; no one, even in the name of the public, has a
right to enter it; to surrender it would be cowardice, rather than
give up its keys he would die in the breach;[11] when this militant
sentiment of honor is enlisted on the side of conscience it becomes
virtue itself.[12] - Such are, in these days, (1870) the two central
themes of our European morality.[13] Through the former the
individual recognizes duties from which nothing can exempt him;
through the latter, he claims rights of which nothing can deprive him:
our civilization has vegetated from these two roots, and still
vegetates. Consider the depth and the extent of the historical soil
in which they penetrate, and you may judge of their vigor. Consider
the height and unlimited growth of the trees which they nourish, and
you may judge of their healthiness. Everywhere else, one or other
having failed, in China, in the Roman Empire, in Islam, the sap has
dried downward and the tree has become stunted, or has fallen.... It
is the modern man, who is neither Chinese, nor antique, nor Moslem,
nor Negro, nor savage, the man formed by Christian education and
taking refuge in his conscience as in a sanctuary, the man formed by
feudal education and entrenched behind his honor as in a fortress,
whose sanctuary and stronghold the new social contract bids him

Now, in this democracy founded on the preponderance of numbers, into
whose hands am I required to make this surrender? - Theoretically, to
the community, that is to say, to a crowd in which an anonymous
impulse is the substitute for individual judgment; in which action
becomes impersonal because it is collective; in which nobody
acknowledges responsibility; in which I am borne along like a grain of
sand in a whirlwind; in which all sorts of outrages are condoned
beforehand for reasons of state: practically, to the plurality of
voices counted by heads, to a majority which, over-excited by the
struggle for mastery, will abuse its victory and wrong the minority to
which I may belong; to a provisional majority which, sooner or later,
will be replaced by another, so that if I am to-day oppressor I am
sure of being oppressed to-morrow; still more particularly, to six or
seven hundred representatives, among who I am called upon to choose
but one. To elect this unique mandatory I have but one vote among ten
thousand; and in helping to elect him I am only the ten-thousandth; I
do not even count for a ten-thousandth in electing the others. And it
is these six or seven hundred strangers to me to who I give full power
to decide for me - note the expression full power - which means
unlimited power, not alone over my possessions and life, but, again,
over my conscience, with all its powers combined; that is to say, with
powers much more extensive than those I confer separately on ten
persons in whom I place the most confidence - to my legal adviser who
looks after my fortune, to the teacher of my children, to the
physician who cares for my health, to the confessor who directs my
conscience, to friends who are to serve as executors of my last will
and testament, to seconds in a duel who decide on my life, on the was
of my blood and who guard my honor. Without reference to the
deplorable farce, so often played around the ballot-box, or to the
forced and distorted elections which put a contrary interpretation on
public sentiment, or to the official lies by which, at this very
moment, a few fanatics and madmen, who represent nobody but
themselves, assume to represent the nation,[14] measure what degree of
confidence I may have, even after honest elections, in mandatories who
are thus chosen! Frequently, I have voted for the defeated candidate;
in which case I am represented by the other who I did not want for a
representative. In voting for the elected candidate, I did it because
I knew of no better one, and because his opponent seemed to me worse.
I have only seen him one time out of four and then fleetingly, at odd
moment; I scarcely knew more of him than the color of his coat, the
tone of his voice, and the way he has of thumping his breast. All I
know of him is through his "platform," vague and declamatory, through
editorials, and through drawing-room, coffee-house, or street gossip.
His title to my confidence is of the flimsiest and shallowest kind;
there is nothing to substantiate to me his integrity or competency; he
has no diploma, and no one to endorse him as has a private tutor; he
has no guarantee from the society to which he belongs, like the
physician, the priest or the lawyer. With references as poor as these
I should hesitate to recruit him even as a domestic. And all the more
because the class from which I am obliged to take him is almost always
that of politicians, a suspicious class, especially in countries in
which universal suffrage prevails. This class is not recruited among
the most independent, the ablest, and the most honest, but among
voluble, scheming men, zealous charlatans, who for want of
perseverance, having failed in private careers, in situations where
one is watched too closely and too nicely weighed in the balance, have
selected roles in which the want of scrupulousness and discretion is a
force instead of a weakness; to their indelicacy and impudence the
doors of a public career stand wide open. - Such is the august
personage into whose hands, according to the theory, I am called upon
to surrender my will, my will in full; certainly, if self-renunciation
were necessary, I should risk less in giving myself up to a king or to
an aristocracy, even hereditary; for then would my representatives be
at least recommended by their evident rank and their probable
competency. - Democracy, in its nature and composition, is a system
in which the individual awards to his representatives the least trust
and deference; hence, it is the system in which he should entrust them
with the least power. Conscience and honor everywhere enjoin a man to
retain for himself some portion of his independence; but nowhere is
there so little be ceded. If a modern constitution ought to clearly
define and limit the domain of the State, it is in respect of
contemporary democracy that it ought to be the most restrictive.


Origin and nature of the modern State. - Its functions, rights and

Let us try to define these limits. - After the turmoil of invasions
and conquest, at the height of social disintegration, amidst the
combats daily occurring between private parties, there arose in every
European community a public force , which force, lasting for
centuries, still persists to our day. How it was organized, through
what early stages of violence it passed, through what accidents and
struggles, and into whose hands it is now entrusted, whether
temporarily or forever, whatever the laws of its transmission, whether
by inheritance or election, is of secondary importance; the main thing
is its functions and their mode of operation. It is essentially a
mighty sword, drawn from its scabbard and uplifted over the smaller
blades around it, with which private individuals once cut each others'
throats. Menaced by it, the smaller blades repose in their scabbards;
they have become inert, useless, and, finally rusty; with few
exceptions, everybody save malefactors, has now lost both the habit
and the desire to use them, so that, henceforth, in this pacified
society, the public sword is so formidable that all private resistance
vanishes the moment it flashes. - This sword is forged out of two
interests: it was necessary to have one of its magnitude, first,
against similar blades brandished by other communities on the
frontier, and next, against the smaller blades which bad passions are
always sharpening in the interior. People demanded protection against
outside enemies and inside ruffians and murderers, and, slowly and
painfully, after much groping and much re-tempering, the agreement
between hereditary forces has fashioned the sole arm which is capable
of protecting lives and property with any degree of success. - So
long as it does no more I am indebted to the State which holds the
hilt: it gives me a security which, without it, I could not have
enjoyed. In return for this security I owe it, for my quota, the
means for keeping this weapon in good condition: he who enjoys a
service is under an obligation to pay for it. Accordingly, there is
between the State and myself, if not an express contract, at least a
tacit understanding equivalent to that which binds a child to its
parent, a believer to his church, and, on both sides, this mutual
understanding is clear and precise. The state engages to look after
my security within and without; I engage to furnish the means for so
doing, which means consist of my respect and gratitude, my zeal as a
citizen, my services as a conscript, my contributions as a tax-payer,
in short, whatever is necessary for the maintenance of an army, a
navy, a diplomatic organization, civil and criminal courts, a militia
and police, central and local administrations, in short, a harmonious
set of organs of which my obedience and loyalty constitute the food,
the substance and the blood. This loyalty and obedience, whatever I
am, whether rich or poor, Catholic, Protestant, Jew or free-thinker,
royalist or republican, individualist or socialist, upon my honor and
in my conscience I owe. This because I have received the equivalent;
I am delighted that I am not vanquished, assassinated, or robbed. I
reimburse the State, exactly but not more that which it has spent on
equipment and personnel for keeping down brutal cupidity, greedy
appetites, deadly fanaticism, the entire howling pack of passions and
desires of which, sooner or later, I might become the prey, were it
not constantly to extend over me its vigilant protection. When it
demands its outlay of me it is not my property which it takes away,
but its own property, which it collects and, in this light, it may
legitimately force me to pay. - On condition, however, that it does
not exact more than my liabilities, and this it does when it oversteps
its original engagements;

1. when it undertakes some extra material or moral work that I do not
ask for;
2. when it constitutes itself sectarian, moralist, philanthropist, or
3. when it strives to propagate within its borders, or outside of
them, any religious or philosophic dogma, or any special political or
social system.
For then, it adds a new article to the primitive pact, for which
article there is not the same unanimous and assured assent that
existed for the pact. We are all willing to be secured against
violence and fraud; outside of this, and on almost any other point,
there are divergent wills. I have my own religion, my own opinions,
my habits, my customs, my peculiar views of life and way of regarding
the universe; now, this is just what constitutes my personality, what
honor and conscience forbid me to alienate, and which the State has
promised me to protect. Consequently, when, through its additional
article, it attempts to regulate these in a certain way, if that way
is not my way, it fails to fulfill its primordial engagement and,
instead of protecting me, it oppresses me. Even if it should have the
support of a majority, even if all voters, less one, should agree to
entrusting it with this supererogatory function, were there only one
dissenter, he would be wronged, and in two ways. -

First of all, and in any event, the State, to fulfill its new tasks,
exacts from him an extra amount of subsidy and service; for, every
supplementary work brings along with it supplementary expenses; the
budget is overburdened when the State takes upon itself the procuring
of work for laborers or employment for artists, the maintenance of any
particular industrial or commercial enterprise, the giving of alms,
and the furnishing of education. To an expenditure of money add an
expenditure of lives, should it enter upon a war of generosity or of
propaganda. Now, to all these expenditures that it does not approve
of, the minority contributes as well as the majority which does
approve of them; so much the worse for the conscript and the tax-payer
if they belong to the dissatisfied group. Like it or not, the
collector puts his hand in the tax-payer's pocket, and the sergeant
lays his hand on the conscript's collar. -

In the second place, and in many circumstances, not only does the
State unjustly take more than its due, but it uses the money it has
extorted from me to apply unjustly new constraints against me. Such
is the case,

* when it imposes on me its theology or philosophy;
* when it prescribes for me, or interdicts, a cult;
* when it assumes to regulate my ways and habits,
* when it assumes to limit my labor or expenditure,
* when it assumes to direct the education of my children,
* when it assumes to fix the prices of my wares or the rate of my
For then, to enforce its commands and prohibitions, it enacts light or
serious penalties against the recalcitrant, all the way from political
or civil incapacity to fines, imprisonment, exile and the guillotine.
In other words, the money I do not owe it, and of which it robs me,
pays for the persecution which it inflicts upon me; I am reduced to
paying out of my own purse the wages of my inquisitors, my jailer and
my executioner. A more glaring oppression could not be imagined! -
Let us watch out for the encroachments of the State and not allow it
to become anything more than a watch-dog. Whilst the teeth and nails
of other guests in the household have been losing their sharpness, its
fangs have become formidable; it is now colossal and it alone still
keeps up the practice of fighting. Let us supply it with nourishment
against wolves; but never let it touch peaceable folks around the
table. Appetite grows by eating; it would soon become a wolf itself,
and the most ravenous wolf inside the fold. The important thing is to
keep a chain around its neck and confine it within its own enclosure.


The state is tempted to encroach. - Precedents and reasons for its

Let us go around the fold, which is an extensive one, and, through its
extensions, reach into almost every nook of private life. - Each
private domain, indeed, physical or moral, offers temptations for its
neighbors to trespass on it, and, to keep this intact, demands the
superior intervention of a third party. To acquire, to possess, to
sell, to give, to bequeath, to contract between husband and wife,
father, mother or child, between master or domestic, employer or
employee, each act and each situation, involves rights limited by
contiguous and adverse rights, and it is the State which sets up the
boundary between them. Not that it creates this boundary; but, that
this may be recognized, it draws the line and therefore enacts civil
laws which it applies through its courts and gendarmes in such a way
as to secure to each individual what belongs to him. The State
stands, accordingly, as regulator and controller, not alone of private
possessions, but also of the family and of domestic life; its
authority is thus legitimately introduced into that reserved circle in
which the individual will has entrenched itself, and, as is the habit
of all great powers, once the circle is invaded, its tendency is to
occupy it fully and entirely. - To this end, it invokes a new
principle. Constituted as a moral personality, the same as a church,
university, or charitable or scientific body, is not the State bound,
like every corporate body that is to last for ages, to extend its
vision far and near and prefer to private interests, which are only
life-interests, the common interest (l'intérêt commun) which is
eternal? Is not this the superior end to which all others should be
subordinated, and must this interest, which is supreme over all, be
sacrificed to two troublesome instincts which are often unreasonable
and sometimes dangerous; to conscience, which overflows in mystic
madness, and to honor, which may lead to strife even to murderous
duels? - Certainly not, and first of all when, in its grandest works,
the State, as legislator, regulates marriages, inheritances, and
testaments, then it is not respect for the will of individuals which
solely guides it; it does not content itself with obliging everybody
to pay his debts, including even those which are tacit, involuntary
and innate; it takes into account the public interest; it calculates
remote probabilities, future contingencies, all results singly and
collectively. Manifestly, in allowing or forbidding divorce, in
extending or restricting what a man may dispose of by testament, in
favoring or interdicting substitutions, it is chiefly in view of some
political, economical or social advantage, either to refine or
consolidate the union of the sexes, to implant in the family habits of
discipline or sentiments of affection, to excite in children an
initiatory spirit, or one of concord, to prepare for the nation a
staff of natural chieftains, or an army of small proprietors, and
always authorized by the universal assent. Moreover, and always with
this universal assent, it does other things outside the task
originally assigned to it, and nobody finds that it usurps when,

* it coins money,
* it regulates weights and measures,
* it establishes quarantines,
* on condition of an indemnity, it expropriates private property for
public utility,
* it builds lighthouses, harbors, dikes, canals, roads,
* it defrays the cost of scientific expeditions,
* it founds museums and public libraries;
* at times, toleration is shown for its support of universities,
schools, churches, and theaters,
and, to justify fresh drafts on private purses for such objects, no
reason is assigned for it but the common interest. (l'intérêt commun)
- Why should it not, in like manner, take upon itself every enterprise
for the benefit of all? Why should it hesitate in commanding the
execution of every work advantageous to the community, and why abstain
from forbidding every harmful work? Now please note that in human
society every act or omission, even the most concealed or private, is
either a loss or a gain to society. So if I neglect to take care of
my property or of my health, of my intellect or of my soul, I
undermine or weaken in my person a member of the community which can
only be rich, healthy and strong through the wealth, health and
strength of his fellow members, so that, from this point of view, my
private actions are all public benefits or public injuries. Why then,
from this point of view, should the State scruple about prescribing
some of these to me and forbidding others? Why, in order to better
exercise this right, and better fulfill this obligation, should it not
constitute itself the universal contractor for labor, and the
universal distributor of productions? Why should it not become the
sole agriculturist, manufacturer and merchant, the unique proprietor
and administrator of all France? - Precisely because this would be
opposed to the common weal (l'intérêt de tous, the interest of
everyone)[15]. Here the second principle, that advanced against
individual independence, operates inversely, and, instead of being an
adversary, it becomes a champion. Far from setting the State free, it
puts another chain around its neck, and thus strengthens the fence
within which modern conscience and modern honor have confined the
public guardian.


Direct common interest. - This consists in the absence of constraint.
- Two reasons in favor of freedom of action. - Character, in general,
of the individual man. - Modern complication.

In what, indeed, does the common weal (l'intérêt de tous, the interest
of everyone) consist? - In the interest of each person, while that
which interests each person is the things of which the possession is
agreeable and deprivation painful. The whole world would in vain
gainsay this point; every sensation is personal. My suffering and my
enjoyments are not to be contested any more than my inclination for
objects which procure me the one, and my dislike of objects which
procure me the other. There is, therefore, no arbitrary definition of
each one's particular interest; this exists as a fact independently of
the legislator; all that remains is to show what this interest is, and
what each individual prefers. Preferences vary according to race,
time, place and circumstance. Among the possessions which are ever
desirable and the privation of which is ever dreaded, there is one,
however, which, directly desired, and for itself, becomes, through the
progress of civilization, more and more cherished, and of which the
privation becomes, through the progress of civilization, more and more
grievous. That is the disposition of one's self, the full ownership
of one's body and property, the faculty of thinking, believing and
worshipping as one pleases, of associating with others, of acting
separately or along with others, in all senses and without hindrance;
in short, one's liberty. That this liberty may as extensive as
possible is, in all times, one of man's great needs, and, in our days,
it is his greatest need. There are two reasons for this, one natural
and the other historical. -

By nature Man is an individual, that is to say a small distinct world
in himself, a center apart in an enclosed circle, a detached organism
complete in itself and which suffers when his spontaneous inclinations
are frustrated by the intervention of an outside force.

The passage of time has made him a complicated organism, upon which
three or four religions, five or six civilizations, thirty centuries
of rich culture have left their imprint; in which its acquisitions are
combined together, wherein inherited qualities are crossbred, wherein
special traits have accumulated in such a way as to produce the most
original and the most sensitive of beings. As civilization increases,
so does his complexity: with the result that man's originality
strengthens and his sensitivity become keener; from which it follows
that the more civilized he becomes, the greater his repugnance to
constraint and uniformity.

At the present day, (1880), each of us is the terminal and peculiar
product of a vast elaboration of which the diverse stages occur in
this order but once, a plant unique of its species, a solitary
individual of superior and finer essence which, with its own inward
structure and its own inalienable type, can bear no other than its own
characteristic fruit. Nothing could be more adverse to the interest
of the oak than to be tortured into bearing the apples of the apple
tree; nothing could be more adverse to the interests of the apple tree
than to be tortured into bearing acorns; nothing could be more opposed
to the interests of both oak and apple tree, also of other trees, than
to be pruned, shaped and twisted so as all to grow after a forced
model, delineated on paper according to the rigid and limited
imagination of a surveyor. The least possible constraint is,
therefore, everybody's chief interest; if one particular restrictive
agency is established, it is that every one may be preserved by if
from other more powerful constraints, especially those which the
foreigner and evil-doer would impose. Up to that point, and not
further, its intervention is beneficial; beyond that point, it becomes
one of the evils it is intended to forestall. Such then, if the
common weal is to be looked after, the sole office of the State is,

1. to prevent constraint and, therefore, never to use it except to
prevent worse constraints;
2. to secure respect for each individual in his own physical and
moral domain; never to encroach on this except for that purpose and
then to withdraw immediately;
3. to abstain from all indiscreet meddling, and yet more, as far as
is practicable, without any sacrifice of public security;
4. to reduce old assessments, to exact only a minimum of subsidies
and services;
5. to gradually limit even useful action;
6. to set itself as few tasks as possible;
7. to let each one have all the room possible and the maximum of
8. to slowly abandon monopolies;
9. to refrain from competition with private parties;
10. to rid itself of functions which these private parties can
fulfill equally well -
and we see that the limits assigned to the State by the public
interest (l'intérêt commun) correspond to those stipulated by duty and


Indirect common interest. - This consists in the most economical and
most productive employment of spontaneous forces. - Difference
between voluntary labor and forced labor. - Sources of man's
spontaneous action. Conditions of their energy, work and products. -
Motives for leaving them under personal control. - Extent of the
private domain. - Individuals might voluntarily extend it. - What is
left becomes the domain of the State. - Obligatory functions of the
State. - Optional functions of the State.

Let us now take into consideration, no longer the direct, but the
indirect interest of all. Instead of considering individuals let us
concern ourselves with their works. Let us regard human society as a
material and spiritual workshop, whose perfection consists in making
it as productive, economical, and as well furnished and managed as
possible . Even with this secondary and subordinate aim, the domain
of the State is scarcely to be less restricted: very few new functions
are to be attributed to it; nearly all the rest will be better
fulfilled by independent persons, or by natural or voluntary
associations. -

Let us consider the man who works for his own benefit, the farmer, the
manufacturer, the merchant, and observe how attentive he is to his
business. This is because his interest and pride are involved. One
side his welfare and that of those around him is at stake, his
capital, his reputation, his social position and advancement; on the
other side, are poverty, ruin, social degradation, dependence,
bankruptcy and the alms-house. In the presence of this alternative he
keeps close watch and becomes industrious; he thinks of his business
even when abed or at his meals; he studies it, not from a distance,
speculatively, in a general way, but on the spot, practically, in
detail, in all its bearings and relationships, constantly calculating
difficulties and resources, with such sharp insight and special
information that for any other person to try to solve the daily
problem which he solves, would be impossible, because nobody could
possess or estimate as he can the precise elements which constitute
it. - Compare with this unique devotion and these peculiar
qualifications the ordinary capacity and listless regularity of a
senior public official, even when expert and honest. He is sure of
his salary, provided he does his duty tolerably well, and this he does
when he is occupied during official hours. Let his papers be correct,
in conformity with regulations and custom, and nothing more is asked
of him; he need not tax his brain beyond that. If he conceives any
economical measure, or any improvement of his branch of the service,
not he, but the public, an anonymous and vague impersonality, reaps
all the benefit of it. Moreover, why should he care about it, since
his project or reform might end up in the archives. The machine is
too vast and complicated, too unwieldy, too clumsy, with its rusty
wheels, its " old customs and acquired rights," to be renewed and
rebuilt as one might a farm, a warehouse or a foundry. Accordingly,
he has no idea of troubling himself further in the matter; on leaving
his office he dismisses it from his mind; he lets things go on
automatically, just as it happens, in a costly way and with
indifferent results. Even in a country of as much probity as France,
it is calculated that every enterprise managed by the State costs one
quarter more, and brings in one quarter less, than when entrusted to
private hands. Consequently if work were withheld from individuals in
order that the State might undertake it the community, when the
accounts came to be balanced, would suffer a loss of one-half.[16]

Now, this is true of all work, whether spiritual or material not only
of agricultural, industrial and commercial products, but, again, of
works of science and of art, of literature and philosophy, of charity,
of education and propaganda. Not only when driven by egoism, such as
personal interest and vulgar vanity, but also when a disinterested
sentiment is involved, such the discovery of truth, the creation of
beauty, the propagation of a faith, the diffusion of convictions,
religious enthusiasm or natural generosity, love in a broad or a
narrow sense, spanning from one who embraces all humanity to one who
devotes himself wholly to his friends and kindred. The effect is the
same in both cases, because the cause is the same. Always, in the
shop directed by the free workman, the motivating force is enormous,
almost infinite, because it is a living spring which flows at all
hours and is inexhaustible. The mother thinks constantly of her
child, the savant of his science, the artist of his art, the inventor
of his inventions, the philanthropist of his endowments, Faraday of
electricity, Stephenson of his locomotive, Pasteur of his microbes, De
Lesseps of his isthmus, sisters of charity of their poor. Through
this peculiar concentration of thought, man derives every possible
advantage from human faculties and surroundings; he himself gets to be
a more and more perfect instrument, and, moreover, he fashions others:
with this he daily reduces the friction of the powerful machine which
he controls and of which he is the main wheel; he increases its yield
; he economizes, maintains, repairs and improves it with a capability
and success that nobody questions; in short, he fabricates in a
superior way. - But this living source, to which the superiority of
the works is due, cannot be separated from the owner and chief, for it
issues from his own affections and deepest sentiments. It is useless
without him; out of his hands, in the hands of strangers, the fountain
ceases to flow and production stops. - If, consequently, a good and
large yield is required, he alone must have charge of the mill; he is
the resident owner of it, the one who sets it in motion, the born
engineer, installed and specially designed for that position. In vain
may attempts be made to turn the stream elsewhere; there simply ensues
a stoppage of the natural issue, a dam barring useful canals, a
haphazard change of current not only without gain, but loss, the
stream subsiding in swamps or undermining the steep banks of a ravine.
At the utmost, the millions of buckets of water, forcibly taken from
private reservoirs, half fill with a good deal of trouble the great
central artificial basin in which the water, low and stagnant, is
never sufficient in quantity or force to move the huge public wheel
that replaces the small private wheels, doing the nation's work.

Thus, even when we only consider men as manufactures, even if we treat
them simply as producers of what is valuable and serviceable, with no
other object in view than to furnish society with supplies and to
benefit the consumers, even though the private domain includes all
enterprises undertaken by private individuals, either singly or
associated together, through personal interests or personal taste,
then this is enough to ensure that all is managed better than the
State could have done; it is by virtue of this that they have devolved
into their hands. Consequently, in the vast field of labor, they
themselves decide on what they will undertake; they themselves, of
their own authority, set their own limits. They may therefore enlarge
their own domain to any extent they please, and reduce indefinitely
the domain of the State. On the contrary, the State cannot pretend to
more than what they leave; as they advance on their common territory
separated by vague frontiers, it is bound to recede and leave the
ground to them; whatever the task is, it should not perform it except
in case of their default, or their prolonged absence, or on proof of
their having abandoned it.

All the rest, therefore falls to the State; first, the offices which
they would never claim, and which they will deliberately leave in its
hands, because they do not have that indispensable instrument, called
armed force. This force forces assures the protection of the
community against foreign communities, the protection of individuals
against one another, the levying of soldiers, the imposition of taxes,
the execution of the laws, the administration of justice and of the
police. - Next to this, come matters of which the accomplishment
concerns everybody without directly interesting any one in particular
- the government of unoccupied territory, the administration of
rivers, coasts, forests and public highways, the task of governing
subject countries, the framing of laws, the coinage of money, the
conferring of a civil status, the negotiating in the name of the
community with local and special corporations, departments, communes,
banks, institutions, churches, and universities. - Add to these,
according to circumstances, sundry optional co-operative services,[17]
such as subsidies granted to institutions of great public utility, for
which private contributions could not suffice, now in the shape of
concessions to corporations for which equivalent obligations are
exacted, and, again, in those hygienic precautions which individuals
fail to take through indifference; so occasionally, such provisional
aid as supports a man, or so stimulates him as to enable him some day
or other to support himself; and, in general, those discreet and
scarcely perceptible interpositions for the time being which prove so
advantageous in the future, like a far-reaching code and other
consistent regulations which, mindful of the liberty of the existing
individual, provide for the welfare of coming generations. Nothing
beyond that.

Again, in this preparation for future welfare the same principle still


Fabrication of social instruments. - Application of this principle.
- How all kinds of useful laborers are formed. - Respect for
spontaneous sources, the essential and adequate condition. -
Obligation of the State to respect these. - They dry up when it
monopolizes them. - The aim of patriotism. - The aim of other
liberal dispositions. - Impoverishment of all the productive
faculties. - Destructive effect of the Jacobin system.

Among the precious products, the most precious and important are,
evidently, the animated instruments, namely the men, since they
produce the rest. The object then, is to fashion men capable of
physical, mental or moral labor, the most energetic, the most
persistent, the most skillful and most productive; now, we already
know the conditions of their formation. It is essential and
sufficient, that the vivacious sources, described above, should flow
there, on the spot, each through its natural outlet, and under the
control of the owner. On this condition the jet becomes more
vigorous, for the acquired impetus increases the original outflow; the
producer becomes more and more skillful, since 'practice makes
perfect.' Those around him likewise become better workmen, inasmuch as
they find encouragement in his success and avail themselves of his
discoveries. - Thus, simply because the State respects, and enforces
respect, for these individual sources in private hands, it develops in
individuals, as well as in those around them, the will and the talent
for producing much and well, the faculty for, and desire to, keep on
producing more and better; in other words, all sorts of energies and
capacities, each of its own kind and in its own place, with all
compatible fullness and efficiency. Such is the office, and the sole
office, of the State, first in relation to the turbid and frigid
springs issuing from selfishness and self-conceit, whose operations
demand its oversight, and next for still stronger reasons, in relation
to the warm and pure springs whose beneficence is unalloyed, as in the
family affections and private friendships; again, in relation to those
rarer and higher springs, such as the love of beauty, the yearning for
truth, the spirit of association, patriotism and love of mankind; and,
finally, for still stronger reasons, in relation to the two most
sacred and salutary of all springs, conscience which renders will
subject to duty, and honor which makes will the support of justice.
Let the State prevent, as well as abstain from, any interference with
either; let this be its object and nothing more; its abstention is as
necessary as its vigilance. Let it guard both, and it will see
everywhere growing spontaneously, hourly, each in degree according to
conditions of time and place, the most diligent and most competent
workmen, the agriculturist, the manufacturer, the merchant, the
savant, the artist, the inventor, the propagandist, the husband and
wife, the father and mother, the patriot, the philanthropist and the
sister of charity.

On the contrary, if, like our Jacobins, the State seeks to confiscate
every natural force to its own profit, it seeks to make affection for
itself paramount, if it strives to suppress all other passions and
interests, if it tolerates no other preoccupation than that which
concerns the common weal, if it tries to forcibly convert every member
of society into a Spartan or Jesuit, then, at enormous cost, will it
not only destroy private fountains, and spread devastation over the
entire territory, but it will destroy its own fountain-head. We honor
the State only for the services it renders to us, and proportionately
to these services and the security it affords us, and to the liberty
which it ensures us under the title of universal benefactor; when it
deliberately wounds us through our dearest interests and most tender
affections, when it goes so far as to attack our honor and conscience,
when it becomes the universal wrong-doer, our affection for it, in the
course of time, turns into hatred. Let this system be maintained, and
patriotism, exhausted, dries up, and, one by one, all other beneficent
springs, until, finally, nothing is visible over the whole country,
but stagnant pools or overwhelming torrents, inhabited by passive
subjects or depredators. As in the Roman empire in the fourth
century, in Italy in the seventeenth century, in the Turkish provinces
in our own day, naught remains but an ill-conducted herd of stunted,
torpid creatures, limited to their daily wants and animal instincts,
indifferent to the public welfare and to their own prospective
interests, so degenerate as to have lost sight of their own
discoveries, unlearned their own sciences, arts and industries, and,
in short, and worse than all, base, false, corrupted souls entirely
wanting in honor and conscience. Nothing is more destructive than the
unrestricted meddling of the State, even when wise and paternal; in
Paraguay, under the discipline of Jesuits, so minute in its details,
"Indian physiognomy appeared like that of animals taken in a trap."
They worked, ate, drank and gave birth by sound of bells, under watch
and ward, correctly and mechanically, but showing no liking for
anything, not even for their own existence, being transformed into so
may automatons; at least it may be said is that the means employed to
produce this result were gentle and that they, before their
transformation were mere brutes. But those who the revolutionary-
Jesuit now undertakes to transform into robots, and by harsh means,
are human beings.


Comparison between despotisms. - Philip II and Louis XIV. - Cromwell
and Frederick the Great. - Peter the Great and the Sultans. -
Relationship between the tasks the Jacobins are to carry out and the
assets at their disposal. - Disproportion between the burdens they
are to carry and the forces at their disposal. - Folly of their
undertaking. - Physical force the only governmental force they
possess. - They are compelled to exercise it. - They are compelled
to abuse it. - Character of their government. - Character requisite
of their leaders.

Several times, in European history, despotism almost equally harsh
have born down heavily on human effort; but never have any of them
been so thoroughly inept; for none have ever attempted to raise so
heavy a mass with so short a lever.
And to start with, no matter how authoritative the despot might have
been, his intervention was limited. - Philip II. burned heretics,
persecuted Moors and drove out Jews; Louis XIV. forcibly converted
the Protestants; but both used violence only against dissenters, about
a fifteenth or a twentieth of their subjects. If Cromwell, on
becoming Protector, remained sectarian, and the compulsory servant of
an army of sectarians, he took good care not to impose on other
churches the theology, rites and discipline of his own church;[18] on
the contrary, he repressed fanatical outrages; protected the
Anabaptists as well as his Independents. He granted paid curates to
the Presbyterians as well as the public exercise of their worship, he
showed the Episcopalians a large tolerance and gave them the right to
worship in private; he maintained the two great Anglican universities
and allowed the Jews to erect a synagogue. - Frederick II. drafted
into his army every able-bodied peasant that he could feed; he kept
every man twenty years in the service, under a discipline worse than
slavery, with almost certain prospect of death; and in his last war,
he sacrificed about one sixth of his male subjects;[19] but they were
serfs, and his conscription did not touch the bourgeois class. He put
his hands in the pockets of the bourgeois and of every other man, and
took every crown they had; when driven to it, he adulterated coin and
stopped paying his functionaries; but, under the scrutiny of his eyes,
always open, the administration was honest, the police effective,
justice exact, toleration unlimited, and the freedom of the press
complete; the king allowed the publication of the most cutting
pamphlets against himself, and their public sale, even at Berlin. - A
little earlier, in the great empire of the east, Peter the Great,[20]
with whip in hand, lashed his Muscovite bears and made them drill and
dance in European fashion; but were bears accustomed from father to
son to the whip and chain; moreover, he stood as the orthodox head of
their faith, and left their mir (the village commune) untouched. -
Finally, at the other extremity of Europe, and even outside of Europe,
in the seventh century the caliph, in the fifteenth century a sultan,
a Mahomet or an Omar, a fanatical Arab or brutal Turk, who had just
overcome Christians with the sword, himself assigned the limits of his
own absolutism: if the vanquished were reduced to the condition of
heavily ransomed tributaries and of inferiors daily humiliated, he
allowed them their worship, civil laws and domestic usages; he left
them their institutions, their convents and their schools; he allowed
them to administer the affairs of their own community as they pleased
under the jurisdiction of their patriarch, or other natural
chieftains. - Thus whatever the tyrant may have been, he did not
attempt to entirely recast Man, nor to subject all his subjects to the
recasting. However penetrating the tyranny, it stopped in the soul at
a certain point; that point reached, the sentiments were left free.
No matter how comprehensive this tyranny may have been, it affected
only one class of men; the others, outside the net, remained free.
When it wounded all at once all sensitive chords, it did so only to a
limited minority, unable to defend themselves. As far as the
majority, able to protect itself, their main sensibilities were
respected, especially the most sensitive, this one or that one, as the
case might be, now the conscience which binds man to his religion, now
that amour-propre on which honor depends, and now the habits which
make man cling to customs, hereditary usages and outward observances.
As far as the others were concerned, those which relate to property,
personal welfare, and social position, it proceeded cautiously and
with moderation. In this way the discretion of the ruler lessened the
resistance of the subject, and a daring enterprise, even mischievous,
was not outrageous; it might be carried out; nothing was required but
a force in hand equal to the resistance it provoked.

Again, and on the other hand, the tyrant possessed this force. Very
many and very strong arms stood behind the prince ready to cooperate
with him and countervail any resistance. - Behind Philip II. or
Louis XIV. ready to drive the dissidents out or at least to consent
to their oppression, stood the Catholic majority, as fanatical or as
illiberal as their king. Behind Philip II., Louis XIV., Frederick
II., and Peter the Great, stood the entire nation, equally violent,
rallied around the sovereign through his consecrated title and
uncontested right, through tradition and custom, through a rigid
sentiment of duty and the vague idea of public security. - Peter the
Great counted among his auxiliaries every eminent and cultivated man
in the country; Cromwell had his disciplined and twenty-times
victorious army; the caliph or sultan brought along with him his
military and privileged population. - Aided by cohorts of this stamp,
it was easy to raise a heavy mass, and even maintain it in a fixed
position. Once the operation was concluded there followed a sort of
equilibrium; the mass, kept in the air by a permanent counterbalance,
only required a little daily effort to prevent it from falling.

It is just the opposite with the Jacobin enterprise. When it is put
into operation, the theory, more exacting, adds an extra weight to the
uplifted mass, and, finally, a burden of almost infinite weight. - At
first, the Jacobin confined his attacks to royalty, to nobility, to
the Church, to parliaments, to privileges, to ecclesiastical and
feudal possessions, in short, to medieval foundations. Then he
attacks yet more ancient and more solid foundations, positive
religion, property and the family. - For four years he has been
satisfied with demolition and now he wants to construct. His object
is not merely to do away with a positive faith and suppress social
inequality, to proscribe revealed dogmas, hereditary beliefs, an
established cult, the supremacy of rank and superiority of fortunes,
wealth, leisure, refinement and elegance, but he wants, in addition to
all this, to re-fashion the citizen. He wants to create new
sentiments, impose natural religion on the individual, civic
education, uniform ways and habits, Jacobin conduct, Spartan virtue;
in short, nothing is to be left in a human being that is not
prescribed, enforced and constrained. - Henceforth, there is opposed
to the Revolution, not alone the partisans of the ancient régime -
priests, nobles, parliamentarians, royalists, and Catholics - but,
again, every person imbued with European civilization, every member of
a regular family, any possessor of a capital, large or small; every
kind or degree of proprietor, farmer, manufacturer, merchant, artisan
or farmer, even most of the revolutionaries. Nearly all the
revolutionaries count on escaping the constraints they impose, and who
only like the strait jacket when it is on another's back. - The
influence of resistant wills at this moment becomes incalculable: it
would be easier to raise a mountain, and, just at this moment, the
Jacobins have deprived themselves of every moral force through which a
political engineer acts on human wills.

Unlike Philip II. and Louis XIV. they are not supported by the
intolerance of a vast majority, for, instead of fifteen or twenty
orthodox against one heretic, they count in their church scarcely more
than one orthodox against fifteen or twenty heretics.[21] - They are
not, like legitimate sovereigns, supported by the stubborn loyalty of
an entire population, following in the steps of its chieftain out of
the prestige of hereditary right and through habits of ancient fealty.
On the contrary, their reign is only a day old and they themselves are
interlopers. At first installed by a coup d'état and afterwards by
the semblance of an election, they have extorted or obtained by trick
the suffrages through which they act. They are so familiar with fraud
and violence that, in their own Assembly, the ruling minority has
seized and held on to power by violence and fraud, putting down the
majority by riots, and the departments by force of arms. To give
their brutalities the semblance of right, they improvise two pompous
demonstrations, first, the sudden manufacture of a paper constitution,
which molders away in their archives, and next, the scandalous farce
of a hollow and compulsory plebiscite. - A dozen leaders of the party
concentrate unlimited authority in their own hands; but, as admitted
by them, their authority is derivative; it is the Convention which
makes them its delegates; their precarious title has to be renewed
monthly; a turn of the majority may sweep them and their work away to-
morrow; an insurrection of the people, whom they have familiarized
with insurrection, may to-morrow sweep them away, their work and their
majority. - They maintain only a disputed, limited and transient
ascendancy over their adherents. They are not military chieftains
like Cromwell and Napoleon, generals of an army obeyed without a
murmur, but common stump-speakers at the mercy of an audience that
sits in judgment on them. There is no discipline in this public;
every Jacobin remains independent by virtue of his principles; if he
accepts leaders, it is with a reservation of their worth to him;
selecting them as he pleases, he is free to change them when he
pleases; his trust in them is intermittent, his loyalty provisional,
and, as his adhesion depends on a mere preference, he always reserves
the right to discard the favorite of to-day as he has discarded the
favorite of yesterday. In this audience, there is no such thing as
subordination; the lowest demagogue, any noisy subaltern, a Hébert or
Jacques Roux, aspiring to step out of the ranks, overbidding the
charlatans in office in order to obtain their places. Even with a
complete and lasting ascendancy over an organized band of docile
supporters, the Jacobin leaders would be feeble for lack of reliable
and competent instruments; for they have but very few partisans other
than those of doubtful probity and of notorious incapacity. -
Cromwell had around him, to carry out the puritan program, the moral
élite of the nation, an army of rigorists, with narrow consciences,
but much more strict towards themselves than towards others, men who
never drank and who never swore, who never indulged for a moment in
sensuality or idleness, who forbade themselves every act of omission
or commission about which they held any scruples, the most honest, the
most temperate, the most laborious and the most persevering of
mankind,[22] the only ones capable of laying the foundations of that
practical morality on which England and the United States still
subsist at the present day. - Around Peter the Great, in carrying out
his European program, stood the intellectual élite of the country, an
imported staff of men of ability associated with natives of moderate
ability, every well-taught resident foreigner and indigenous Russian,
the only ones able to organize schools and public institutions, to set
up a vast central and regular system of administration, to assign rank
according to service and merit, in short, to erect on the snow and mud
of a shapeless barbarism a conservatory of civilization which,
transplanted like an exotic tree, grows and gradually becomes
acclimated. - Around Couthon, Saint-Just, Billaud, Collot, and
Robespierre, with the exception of certain men devoted, not to
Utopianism but the country, and who, like Carnot, conform to the
system in order to save France, there are but a few sectarians to
carry out the Jacobin program. These are men so short-sighted as not
to clearly comprehend its fallacies, or sufficiently fanatical to
accept its horrors, a lot of social outcasts and self-constituted
statesmen, infatuated through incommensurate faculties with the parts
they play, unsound in mind and superficially educated, wholly
incompetent, boundless in ambition, their consciences perverted,
callous or deadened by sophistry, hardened through arrogance or killed
by crime, by impunity and by success.

Thus, whilst other despots raise a moderate weight, calling around
them either the majority or the flower of the nation, employing the
best strength of the country and lengthening their lever (of
despotism) as much as possible, the Jacobins attempt to raise an
incalculable weight, repel the majority as well as the flower of the
nation, discard the best strength of the country, and shorten their
lever to the utmost. They hold on only to the shorter end, the rough,
clumsy, iron-bound, creaking and grinding extremity, that is to say,
to physical force, - the means for physical constraint, the heavy hand
of the gendarme on the shoulder of the suspect, the jailer's bolts and
keys turned on the prisoner, the club used by the sans-culottes on the
back of the bourgeois to quicken his pace, and, better still, the
Septembriseur's pike thrust into the aristocrat's belly, and the blade
falling on the neck held fast in the clutches of the guillotine. -
Such, henceforth, is the only machinery they posses for governing the
country, for they have deprived themselves of all other. Their engine
has to be exhibited, for it works only on condition that its bloody
image be stamped indelibly on every body's imagination; if the Negro
monarch or the pasha desires to see heads bowing as he passes along,
he must be escorted by executioners. They must abuse their engine
because fear losing its effect through habit, needs example to keep it
alive; the Negro monarch or the pasha who would keep the fear alive by
which he rules, must be stimulated every day; he must slaughter too
many to be sure of slaughtering enough; he must slaughter constantly,
in heaps, indiscriminately, haphazard, no matter for what offense, on
the slightest suspicion, the innocent along with the guilty. He and
his are lost the moment they cease to obey this rule. Every Jacobin,
like every African monarch or pasha, must it that he may be and remain
at the head of his band. - That is the reason why the chiefs of the
party, its natural and pre-determined leaders, are theoreticians able
to grasp its principle and logicians capable of drawing its
consequences. They are, however, so inept as to be unable to
understand that their enterprise exceeds both their own and all other
human resources, but shrewd enough to see that brutal force is their
only tool, inhuman enough to apply it unscrupulously and without
reserve, and perverted enough to murder at random in order to
disseminate terror.


[1] Buchez et Roux, XXXII, 354. (Speech by Robespierre in the
Convention, Floréal 18, year II.) " Sparta gleams like a flash of
lightening amidst profoundest darkness".

[2] Milos taken by the Athenians; Thebes, after Alexander's victory;
Corinth, after its capture by the Romans. - In the Peloponnesian war,
the Plateans, who surrender at discretion, are put to death. Nicias
is murdered in cold blood after his defeat in Sicily. The prisoners
at Œgos-Potamos have their thumbs cut off.

[3] Fustel de Coulanges,"La Cité Antique", ch. XVII.

[4] Plato, "The Apology of Socrates." - See also in the "Crito"
Socrates' reasons for not eluding the penalty imposed on him. The
antique conception of the State is here clearly set forth.

[5] Cf. the code of Manu, the Zendavesta, the Pentateuch and the
Tcheou-Li. In this last code (Biot's translation), will be found the
perfection of the system, particularly in vol. I., 241, 247, II.,
393, III., 9, 11, 21, 52. "Every district chief, on the twelfth day
of the first moon, assembles together the men of his district and
reads to them the table of rules; he examines their virtue, their
conduct, their progress in the right path, and in their knowledge, and
encourages them; he investigates their errors, their failings and
prevents them from doing evil. . . . Superintendents of marriages
see that young people marry at the prescribed age." The reduction of
man to a State automaton is plain enough in the institution of
"Overseer of Gags. . ." At all grand hunts, at all gatherings of
troops, he orders the application of gags. In these cases gags are
put in the soldiers' mouths; they then fulfill their duties without
tumult or shouting."

[6] These two words have no exact equivalents in Greek or Latin,
Conscientia, dignitas, honos denote different shade of meaning. This
difference is most appreciable in the combination of the two modern
terms delicate conscience, scrupulous conscience, and the phrase of
stake one's honour on this or that, make it a point of honor, the laws
of honor, etc. The technical terms of antique morality: the
beautiful, truthfulness, the sovereign good, indicate ideas of another
stamp and origin.

[7] Alas, modern 20th century democratic Man has given up honor and
conscience, all he has got to do is to be correct and follow the
thousands of rules governing his life. And , of course, make sure
that he is following orders or sure of not being caught when he breaks
the natural rules of friendship, honor or conscience. Conscience, on
the other had, will always lurk somewhere in the shadows of our mind,
because we all know how we would like to be treated by others, and
will be forced not to transgress certain boundaries in case an
intended victim might be in a position to take his revenge. That I am
not alone in seeing things this way I noted in an interview with the
79 year old French author Michel Déon in Le Figaro on the 16th of May
1998 in which Mr. Déon said: " Everywhere we are still in a nursery.
A great movement attempting to turn us all into half-wits (une grande
campagne de crétinisation est en route). When these are the only ones
left, the governments have an easy job. It is very clever." (SR.)

[8] Montaigne, Essays, book I., ch. 42: " Observe in provinces far
from the court, in Brittany for example, the retinue, the subjects,
the duties, the ceremony, of a seignior living alone by himself,
brought up among his dependents, and likewise observe the flights of
his imagination, there is nothing which is more royal; he may allude
to his superior once a year, as if he were the King of Persia... The
burden of sovereignty scarcely affects the French gentilhomme twice in
his life... he who lurks in his own place avoiding dispute and trial
is as free as the Duke of Venice."

[9] "Mémoires de Chateaubriand," vol. I. ("Les Soirées au Chateau de

[10] In China, the moral principle is just the opposite. The Chinese,
amidst obstacles and embarrassments, always enjoin siao-sin, which
means, "abate thy affections." (Huc, "L'Empire Chinoise," I., 204.)

[11] In the United states the moral order of things reposes chiefly on
puritan ideas; nevertheless deep traces of feudal conceptions are
found there; for instance, the general deference for women which is
quite chivalric there, and even excessive.

[12] Observe, from this point of view, in the woman of modern times
the defenses of female virtue. The (male) sentiment of duty is the
first safeguard of modesty, but this has a much more powerful
auxiliary in the sentiment of honor, or deep innate pride.

[13] The moral standard varies, but according to a fixed law, the same
as a mathematical function. Each community has its own moral
elements, organization, history and surroundings, and necessarily its
peculiar conditions of vitality. When the queen been in a hive is
chosen and impregnated this condition involves the massacre of useless
male and female rivals (Darwin). In China, it consists of paternal
authority, literary education and ritual observances. In the antique
city, it consisted of the omnipotence of the State, gymnastic
education, and slavery. In each century, and in each country, these
vital conditions are expressed by more or less hereditary passwords
which set forth or interdict this or that class of actions. When the
individual feels the inward challenge he is conscious of obligation;
the moral conflict consists in the struggle within himself between the
universal password and personal desire. In our European society the
vital condition, and thus the general countersign, is self-respect
coupled with respect for others (including women and children). This
countersign, new in history, has a singular advantage over all
preceding ones: each individual being respected, each can develop
himself according to his nature; he can accordingly invent in every
sense, bring forth every sort of production and be useful to himself
and others in every way, thus enabling society to develop

[14] Taine is probably speaking of the colonial wars in China and the
conquest of Madagascar. (SR).

[15] Here Taine is seeing mankind as being male, strong and hardy;
however I feel that liberty is more desirable for the strong and
confident while the child, the lost, the sick, the ignorant or feeble
person is looking for protection, reassurance and guidance. When
society consisted of strong independent farmers, hunters, warriors,
nomads or artisans backed by family and clan, liberty was an important
idea. Today few if any can rise above the horde and gain the
insights, the wisdom and the competence which once was such a common
thing. Today the strong seek promotion inside the hierarchy of the
welfare state rest-house. (S.R.)

[16] This is just what Lenin could not believe when he read this
around 1906. Even Taine did not see how much a French government
organization depended upon staff recruited from a hardworking, modest
and honest French population. We have now lived to see how the
nationalization of private property in Egypt, Argentina, Algeria not
to speak of Ethiopia and India proved disastrous and how 40 years of
government ownership should degrade and corrupt the populations of
Russia, China, Yugoslavia, Albania etc. (SR).

[17] When the function to be performed is of an uncertain or mixed
character the following rule may be applied in deciding whether the
State or individuals shall be entrusted with it; also in determining,
in the case of cooperation, what portion of it shall be assigned to
individuals and what portion to the State. As a general rule, when
individuals, either singly or associated together, have a direct
interest in, or are drawn toward, a special function, and the
community has no direct interest therein, the matter belongs to
individuals and not to the State. On the other hand, if the interest
of the community in any function is direct, and indirect for
individuals singly or associated together, it is proper for the State
and not for individuals to take hold of it. - According to this rule
the limits of the public and private domain can be defined, which
limits, as they change backward and forward, may be verified according
to the changes which take place in interests and preferences, direct
or indirect.

[18] Carlyle: "Cromwell's Speeches and Letters," III., 418.
(Cromwell's address to the Parliament, September 17, 1656.)

[19] Seeley, "Life and Times of Stein," II., 143. - Macaulay,
"Biographical essays," Frederick the Great. 33, 35, 87, 92.

[20] Eugene Schuyler, "Peter the Great," vol. 2.

[21] Cf. "The Revolution" vol. II., pp. 46 and 323, vol. III., ch
I. Archives des Affaires Etrangèrés. Vol. 332. (Letter by
Thiberge, Marseilles, Brumaire 14, year II.) "I have been to
Marteygne, a small town ten leagues from Marseilles, along with my
colleague Fournet; I found (je trouvée) seventeen patriots in a town
of give thousand population." - Ibid., (Letter by Regulus Leclerc,
Bergues, Brumaire 15, year II.) At Bergues, he says, "the municipality
is composed of traders with empty stores and brewers without beer
since the law of the maximum." Consequently there is universal
lukewarmness, "only forty persons being found to form a popular club,
holding sessions as a favor every five days. . . . Public spirit
at Bergues is dead; fanaticism rules." - Archives Nationales, F7, 7164
(Department of Var, reports of year V. "General idea.") - "At
Draguignan, out of seven thousand souls, forty patriots, exclusifs,
despised or dishonest; at Vidauban, nine or ten exclusifs, favored by
the municipality and who live freely without their means being known;
at Brignolles, frequent robberies on the road by robbers said to have
been very patriotic in the beginning of the Revolution: people are
afraid of them and dare not name them; at Fréjus, nine leading
exclusifs who pass all their time in the cafe." - Berryat-Saint-Prix,
"La Justice Révolutionnaire," p. 146. - Brutus Thierry, grocer,
member of the Rev. Com. Of Angers, said that "in angers, there were
not sixty revolutionaries."

[22] Macaulay. "History of England," I., 152. "The Royalists
themselves confessed that, in every department of honest industry, the
discarded warriors prospered beyond other men, that none was charged
with any theft or robbery, that none was heard to ask an alms, and
that, if a baker, a mason, or a waggoner attracted notice by his
diligence and sobriety, he was in all probability one of Oliver's old




Marat. - Disparity between his faculties and pretensions. - The
Maniac. - The Ambitious delirium. - Rage for persecution. - The
permanent nightmare. - Homicidal frenzy.

Three men among the Jacobins, Marat, Danton and Robespierre, had
deserved preeminence and held authority: - that is because they, due
to a deformity or warping of their minds and their hearts, met the
required conditions. -

Of the three, Marat is the most monstrous; he is nearly a madman, of
which he displays the chief characteristics - furious exaltation,
constant over-excitement, feverish restlessness, an inexhaustible
propensity for scribbling, that mental automatism and single-
mindedness of purpose constrained and ruled by a fixed idea. In
addition to this, he displays the usual physical symptoms, such as
insomnia, a pallid complexion, hot-headed, foulness of dress and
person,[1] with, during the last five months of his life, rashes and
itching all over his body.[2] Issuing from ill-matched stock, born of
a mixed blood and tainted with serious moral agitation,[3] he carries
within him a peculiar germ: physically, he is a freak, morally a
pretender, and one who covet all places of distinction. His father,
who was a physician, intended, from his early childhood, that he
should be a scholar; his mother, an idealist, had prepared him to
become a philanthropist, while he himself always steered his course
towards both summits.

"At five years of age," he says, "it would have pleased me to be a
school-master, at fifteen a professor, at eighteen an author, and a
creative genius at twenty,"[4]and, afterwards, up to the last, an
apostle and martyr to humanity. "From my earliest infancy I had an
intense love of fame which changed its object at various stages of my
life, but which never left me for a moment." He rambled over Europe or
vegetated in Paris for thirty years, living a nomadic life in
subordinate positions, hissed as an author, distrusted as a man of
science and ignored as a philosopher, a third rate political writer,
aspiring to every sort of celebrity and to every honor, constantly
presenting himself as a candidate and as constantly rejected, - too
great a disproportion between his faculties and ambition! Without
talents,[5] possessing no critical acumen and of mediocre
intelligence, he was fitted only to teach some branch of the sciences,
or to practice some one of the arts, either as professor or doctor
more or less bold and lucky, or to follow, with occasional slips on
one side or the other, some path clearly marked out for him. "But,"
he says, "I constantly refused any subject which did not hold out a
promise. . . . of showing off my originality and providing great
results, for I cannot make up my mind to treat a subject already well
done by others." - Consequently, when he tries to originate he merely
imitates, or commits mistakes. His treatise on " Man" is a jumble of
physiological and moral common-places, made up of ill-digested reading
and words strung together haphazard,[6] of gratuitous and incoherent
suppositions in which the doctrines of the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, coupled together, end in empty phraseology. "Soul and Body
are distinct substances with no essential relationship, being
connected together solely through the nervous fluid;" this fluid is
not gelatinous for the spirits by which it is renewed contains no
gelatin; the soul, excited by this, excites that; hence the place
assigned to it "in the brain." - His " Optics"[7] is the reverse of
the great truth already discovered by Newton more than a century
before, and since confirmed by more than another century of experiment
and calculation. On" Heat " and "Electricity" he merely puts forth
feeble hypotheses and literary generalizations; one day, driven to the
wall, he inserts a needle in a resin to make this a conductor, in
which piece of scientific trickery he is caught by the physicist
Charles.[8] He is not even qualified to comprehend the great
discoverers of his age, Laplace, Monge, Lavoisier, or Fourcroy; on the
contrary, he libels them in the style of a low rebellious subordinate,
who, without the shadow of a claim, aims to take the place of
legitimate authorities. In Politics, he adopts every absurd idea in
vogue growing out of the "Contrat-Social" based on natural right, and
which he renders still more absurd by repeating as his own the
arguments advanced by those bungling socialists, who, physiologists
astray in the moral world, derive all rights from physical

"All human rights issue from physical wants[9]... If a man has
nothing, he has a right to any surplus with which another gorges
himself. What do I say? He has a right to seize the indispensable,
and, rather than die of hunger, he may cut another's throat and eat
his throbbing flesh. . . . Man has a right to self-preservation,
to the property, the liberty and even the lives of his fellow
creatures. To escape oppression he has a right to repress, to bind
and to massacre. He is free to do what he pleases to ensure his own

It is plain enough what this leads to. - But, let the consequences be
what they may, whatever he writes or does, it is always in self-
admiration and always in a counter sense, being as vain-glorious of
his encyclopedic impotence as he is of his social mischievousness.
Taking his word for it, his discoveries in Physics will render him

"They will at least effect a complete transformation in Optics. . .
. The true primitive colors were unknown before me."

He is a Newton, and still better. Previous to his appearance "the
place occupied by the electrical fluid in nature, considered as an
universal agent, was completely ignored. . . I have made it known
in such a way as to leave no further doubt about it."[11] As to the
heat-engendering fluid, "that substance unknown until my discovery, I
have freed the theory from every hypothesis and conjecture, from every
alembic argument; I have purged it of error, I have rendered it
intuitive; I have written this out in a small volume which consigns to
oblivion all that scientific bodies have hitherto published on that
subject."[12] Anterior to his treatise on "Man," the relationships
between moral and physics were incomprehensible. "Descartes,
Helvetius, Hailer, Lecat, Hume, Voltaire, Bonnet, held this to be an
impenetrable secret, 'an enigma.'" He has solved the problem, he has
fixed the seat of the soul, he has determined the medium through which
the soul communicates with the body.[13] - In the higher sciences,
those treating of nature generally, or of human society, he reaches
the climax. "I believe that I have exhausted every combination of the
human intellect in relation to morals, philosophy and political
science."[14] Not only has he discovered the true theory of
government, but he is a statesman, a practical expert, able to
forecast the future and shape events. He makes predictions, on the
average, twice a week, which always turn out right; he already claims,
during the early sessions of the Convention, to have made "three
hundred predictions on the leading points of the Revolution, all
justified by the event."[15] -- In the face of the Constituents who
demolish and reconstruct so slowly, he is sufficiently strong to take
down, put up and complete at a moment's notice.

"If I were one of the people's tribunes[16] and were supported by a
few thousand determined men, I answer for it that, in six weeks, the
Constitution would be perfected, the political machine well agoing,
and the nation free and happy. In less than a year there would be a
flourishing, formidable government which would remain so as long as I
lived."- If necessary, he could act as commander-in-chief of the army
and always be victorious: having twice seen the Vendeans carry on a
fight he would end the war "at the first encounter."[17] -- "If I
could stand the march, I would go in person and carry out my views.
At the head of a small party of trusty troops the rebels could be
easily put down to the last man, and in one day. I know something of
military art, and; without boasting, I can answer for success." -- On
any difficulty occurring, it is owing to his advice not having been
taken; he is the great political physician: his diagnosis from the
beginning of the Revolution is always correct, his prognosis
infallible, his therapeutics efficacious, humane and salutary. He
provides the panacea and he should be allowed to prescribe it; only,
to ensure a satisfactory operation, he should himself administer the
dose. Let the public lancet, therefore, be put in his hands that he
may perform the humanitarian operation of bloodletting. "Such are my
opinions. I have published them in my works. I have signed them with
my name and I am not ashamed of it. . . . If you are not equal to
me and able to comprehend me so much the worse for you."[18] In other
words, in his own eyes, Marat is in advance of everybody else and,
through his superior genius and character, he is the veritable savior.

Such are the symptoms by which medical men recognize immediately one
of those partial lunatics who may not be put in confinement, but who
are all the more dangerous;[19] the malady, as they would express it
in technical terms, may be called the ambitious delirium, well known
in lunatic asylums. -- Two predispositions, one an habitually
perverted judgment, and the other a colossal excess of self-
esteem,[20] constitute its sources, and nowhere are both more prolific
than in Marat. Never did a man with such diversified culture, possess
such an incurably perverted intellect. Never did a man, after so many
abortive speculations and such repeated malpractices, conceive and
maintain so high an opinion of himself. Each of these two sources in
him augments the other: through his faculty of not seeing things as
they are, he attributes to himself virtue and genius; satisfied that
he possesses genius and virtue, he regards his misdeeds as merits and
his whims as truths. - Thenceforth, and spontaneously, his malady

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest