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

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price of 100 % on cottons and 400% on sugar, a dearth of colonial
articles, privation to the consumer, the ruin of the manufacturer and
trader, and accumulated bankruptcies one after the other in 1811 in
all the large towns from Hamburg to Rome.[50] This vice, however,
belongs to the militant policy and personal character of the master;
the error that taints the external side of his fiscal system does not
reach the internal side. After him, under pacific reigns, it is
gradually modified; prohibition gives way to protection and then
changes from excessive protection to limited protection. France
remains, along with secondary improvements and partial amendments, on
the course marked out by the Consulate and the Empire; this course, in
all its main lines, is clearly traced, straight, and yet adapted to
all things, by the plurality, establishment, distribution, rate of
taxation and returns of the various direct and indirect taxes, nearly
in conformity with the new principles of political economy, as well as
in conformity with the ancient maxims of distributive justice,
carefully directed between the two important interests that have to be
cared for, that of the people who pays and of the State which

Consider, in effect, what both have gained. - In 1789, the State had a
revenue of only 475 millions; afterwards, during the Revolution, it
scarcely collected any of its revenues; it lived on the capital it
stole, like a genuine brigand, or on the debts it contracted, like a
dishonest and insolvent bankrupt. Under the Consulate and during the
first years of the Empire, its revenue amounts to 750 to 800 millions,
its subjects being no longer robbed of their capital, while it no
longer runs in debt. - In 1789, the ordinary taxpayer paid a direct
tax to his three former or late sovereigns, namely, to the King, the
clergy and the seigniors, more than three-quarters of his net income.
After 1800, he pays to the State less than one-quarter, the one
sovereign alone who replaces the other three. We have seen how relief
came to the old taxable subject, to the rural, to the small
proprietor, to the man without any property, who lived on the labor of
his own hands; the lightening of the direct tax restored to him from
14 to 43 free days, during which, instead of working for the
exchequer, he worked for himself. If married, and the father of two
children over 7 years of age, the alleviation of one direct tax alone,
that of the salt-tax, again restores to him 12 days more, in all from
one to two complete months each year during which he is no longer, as
formerly, a man doing statute-work, but the free proprietor, the
absolute master of his time and of his own hands. - At the same time,
through the re-casting of other taxes and owing to the increasing
price of labor, his physical privations decrease. He is no longer
reduced to consuming only the refuse of his crop, the wheat of poor
quality, the damaged rye, the badly-bolted flour mixed with bran, nor
to drink water poured over the lees of his grapes, nor to sell his
pigs before Christmas because the salt he needs is too dear.[51] He
salts his pork and eats it, and likewise butcher's meat; he enjoys his
boiled beef and broth on Sunday; he drinks wine; his bread is more
nutritious, not so black and healthier; he no longer lacks it and has
no fear of lacking it. Formerly, he entertained a lugubrious phantom,
the fatal image of famine which haunted him day and night for
centuries, an almost periodical famine under the monarchy, a chronic
famine and then severe and excruciating during the Revolution, a
famine which, under the republic, had in three years destroyed over a
million of lives.[52] The immemorial specter recedes and vanishes;
after two accidental and local recurrences, in 1812 and 1817, it never
again appears in France.[53]

V. Conscription or Professional soldiers.

Military service. - Under the Ancient Regime. - The militia and
regular troops. - Number of soldiers. - Quality of the recruits. -
Advantages of the institution.- Results of the new system. - The
obligation universal. - Comparison between the burdens of citizens and
subjects. - The Conscription under Napoleon. - He lightens and then
increases its weight. - What it became after him. - The law of 1818.

One tax remains, and the last, that by which the State takes, no
longer money, but the person himself, the entire man, soul and body,
and for the best years of his life, namely military service. It is the
Revolution which has rendered this so burdensome; formerly, it was
light, for, in principle, it was voluntary. The militia, alone, was
raised by force, and, in general, among the country people; the
peasants furnished men for it by casting lots.[54] But it was simply a
supplement to the active army, a territorial and provincial reserve, a
distinct, sedentary body of reinforcements and of inferior rank which,
except in case of war, never marched; it turned out but nine days of
the year, and, after 1778, never turned out again. In 1789, it
comprised in all 72,260 men, and for eleven years their names,
inscribed on the registers, alone constituted their presence in the
ranks.[55] There were no other conscripts under the monarchy; in this
matter, its exactions were not great, ten times less than those of the
Republic and of the Empire, since both the Republic and the Empire,
using the same constraint, were to levy more than ten times the number
of drafted men or conscripts.[56]

Alongside of this militia body, the entire army properly so called,
the "regular" troops were, under, the ancient Régime, all recruited by
free enlistment, not only the twenty-five foreign regiments, Swiss,
Irish, Germans, and Liégeois, but again the hundred and forty-five
French regiments, 177 000 men.[57] The enlistment, indeed, was not
free enough; frequently, through the maneuvers of the recruiting-
agent, it was tainted with inveigling and surprises, and sometimes
with fraud or violence; but, owing to the remonstrances due to the
prevailing philanthropic spirit, these abuses had diminished; the law
of 1788 had suppressed the most serious of them and, even with its
abuses, the institution had two great advantages. - The army, in the
first place, served as an issue: through it the social body purged
itself of its bad humors, of its overheated or vitiated blood. At this
date, although the profession of soldier was one of the lowest and
least esteemed, a barren career, without promotion and almost without
escape, a recruit was obtainable for about one hundred francs bounty
and a "tip"; add to this two or three days and nights of revel in the
grog-shop, which indicates the kind and quality of the recruits; in
fact, very few could be obtained except among men more or less
disqualified for civil and domestic life, incapable of spontaneous
discipline and of steady labor, adventurers and outcasts, half-savage
or half-blackguard, some of them sons of respectable parents thrown
into the army in an angry fit, and others again, regular vagabonds
picked up in beggars' haunts, mostly stray workmen and loafers, in
short, "the most debauched, the most hot-brained, the most turbulent
people in an ardent, turbulent and somewhat debauched community."[58]
In this way, the anti-social class was utilized for the public good.
Let the reader imagine an ill-kept domain overrun by a lot of stray
curs that might prove dangerous: they are enticed and caught; a
collar, with a chain attached to it, is put on their necks and they
become good watch-dogs. - In the second place, this institution
preserved to the subject the first and most precious of all liberties,
the full possession and the unrestricted management of one's own
person, the complete mastery of body and being. This was assured to
him, guaranteed to him against the encroachments of the State. It was
better guaranteed than by the wisest constitution, for the institution
was a recognized custom accepted by everybody. In other words, it was
a tacit, immemorial convention,[59] between the subject and the State,
proclaiming that, if the State had a right to draw on purses it had no
right to draft persons: in reality and in fact, the King, in his
principal function, was merely a contractor like any other; he
undertook natural defense and public security the same as others
undertook cleaning the streets or the maintenance of a dike. It was
his business to hire military workmen as they hired their civil
workmen, by mutual agreement, at an understood price and at current
market rates. Accordingly, the sub-contractors with whom he treated,
the colonel and captains of each regiment, were subject as he was to
the law of supply and demand; he allowed them so much for each
recruit,[60] to replace those dropped out, and they agreed to keep
their companies full. They were obliged to procure men at their own
risk and at their own expense, while the recruiting-agent whom they
dispatched with a bag of money among the taverns, enlisted
artillerymen, horsemen or foot-soldiers, after bargaining with them,
the same as one would hire men to sweep or pave the street and to
clean the sewers.

Against this practice and this principle comes the theory of the
Contrat-Social. It declares that the people are sovereign. Now, in
this divided Europe, where a conflict between rival States is always
imminent, sovereigns are military men; they are such by birth,
education, and profession, and by necessity; the title carries along
with it and involves the function. Consequently, the subject, in
assuming their rights, imposes upon himself their duties; in his quota
(of responsibility) he, in his turn, is sovereign; but, in his turn
and in his person, he is a soldier.[61] Henceforth, if he is born an
elector, he is born a conscript; he has contracted an obligation of a
new species and of infinite reach; the State, which formerly had a
claim only on his possessions, now has one on his entire body; never
does a creditor let his claims rest and the State always finds reasons
or pretexts to enforce its claims. Under the threats or trials of
invasion the people, at first, had consented to pay this one; they
regarded it as accidental and temporary. After victory and when peace
came, its government continues to enforce the claim; it becomes
settled and permanent. After the treaties of Luneville and Amiens,
Napoleon maintains it in France; after the treaties of Paris and
Vienna, the Prussian government is to maintain it in Prussia. One war
after another and the institution becomes worse and worse; like a
contagion, it has spread from State to State. At the present time, it
has overspread the whole of continental Europe and here it reigns
along with its natural companion which always precedes or follows it,
its twin-brother, universal suffrage. Each more or less conspicuously
"trotted out" and dragging the other along, more or less incomplete
and disguised, both being the blind and formidable leaders or
regulators of future history, one thrusting a ballot into the hands of
every adult, and the other putting a soldier's knapsack on every
adult's back:

* with what promises of massacre and bankruptcy for the twentieth
* with what exasperation of international rancor and distrust,
* with what waste of human labor,
* through what perversion of productive discoveries,
* through what perfection of destructive appliances,
* through what a recoil to the lower and most unwholesome forms of
old militant societies,
* through what retrograde steps towards brutal and selfish instincts,
* towards the sentiments, habits and morality of the antique city and
of the barbarous tribe

is only too well known.[62] It is sufficient for us to place the two
military systems face to face, that of former times and that of to-
day: formerly, in Europe, a few soldiers, some hundreds of thousands ;
to-day, in Europe, 18 millions of actual or eventual soldiers, all the
adults, even the married, even fathers of families summoned or subject
to call for twenty-five years of their life, that is to say, as long
as they continue able-bodied men; formerly, for the heaviest part of
the service in France, no lives are confiscated by decree, only those
bought by contract, and lives suited to this business and elsewhere
idle or mischievous; about one hundred and fifty thousand lives of
inferior quality, of mediocre value, which the State could expend with
less regret than others, and the sacrifice of which is not a serious
injury to society or to civilization. To-day, for the same service in
France, 4 millions of lives are taken by authority, and, if they
attempt to escape, taken by force; all of them, from the twentieth
year onward, employed in the same manual and murderous pursuit,
including the least suited to the purpose and the best adapted to
other purposes, including the most inventive and the most fecund, the
most delicate and the most cultivated, those remarkable for superior
talent (Page 232/526)who are of almost infinite social value, and
whose forced collapse, or precocious end, is a calamity for the human

Such is the terminal fruit of the new Régime; military duty is here
the counterpart, and as it were, the ransom of political right; the
modern citizen may balance one with the other like two weights in the
scale. On the one side, he may place his prerogative as sovereign,
that is to say, in point of fact, the faculty every four years of
giving one vote among ten thousand for the election or non-election of
one deputy among six hundred and fifty; on the other side, he may
place his positive, active service, three, four or five years of
barrack life and of passive obedience, and then twenty-eight days
more, then a thirteen-days' summons in honor of the flag, and, for
twenty years, at each rumor of war, anxiously waiting for the word of
command which obliges him to shoulder his gun and slay with his own
hand, or be slain. He will probably end by discovering that the two
sides of the scales do not balance and that a right so hollow is poor
compensation for so heavy a burden.

Of course, in 1789, he foresaw nothing like that; he was optimistic,
pacific, liberal, humanitarian; he knew nothing of Europe nor of
history, nothing of the past nor of the present. When the Constituent
Assembly constituted him a sovereign, he let things go on; he did not
know what he engaged to do, he had no idea of having allowed such a
heavy claim against him. But, in signing the social contract, he made
himself responsible; in 1793, the note came due and the Convention
collected it.[63] Then comes Napoleon who put things in order.
Henceforth, every male, able-bodied adult must pay the debt of blood;
no more exemptions in the way of military service:[64] all young men
who had reached the required age drew lots in the conscription and set
out in turn according to the order fixed by their drafted number.[65]
But Napoleon is an intelligent creditor; he knows that this debt is
"most frightful and most detestable for families," that his debtors
are real, living men and therefore different in kind, that the head of
the State should keep these differences in mind, that is to say their
condition, their education, their sensibility and their vocation;
that, not only in their private interest, but again in the interest of
the public, not merely through prudence but also through equity, all
should not be indistinguishably restricted to the same mechanical
pursuit, to the same manual labor, to the same prolonged and
indefinite servitude of soul and body. Already, under the Directory,
the law had exempted young married men and widowers or divorced
persons who were fathers.[66] Napoleon also exempts the conscript who
has a brother in the active army, the only son of a widow, the eldest
of three orphans, the son of a father seventy-one years old dependent
on his labor, all of whom are family supports. He joins with these all
young men who enlist in one of his civil militias, in his
ecclesiastical militia or in his university militia, pupils of the
École Normale, ignorantin brothers, seminarians for the priesthood, on
condition that they shall engage to do service in their vocation and
do it effectively, some for ten years, others for life, subject to a
discipline more rigid, or nearly as rigid, as military discipline.[67]
Finally, he sanctions or institutes volunteer substitutes, through
private agreement between a conscript and the able-bodied, certified
volunteer substitute for whom the conscript is responsible.[68] If
such a bargain is made between them it is done freely, knowing what
they are about, and because each man finds the exchange to his
advantage; the State has no right to deprive either of them uselessly
of this advantage, and oppose an exchange by which it does not suffer.
So far from suffering it often gains by it. For, what it needs is not
this or that man, Peter or Paul, but a man as capable as Peter or Paul
of firing a gun, of marching long distances, of resisting
inclemencies, and such are the substitutes it accepts. They must all
be[69] "of sound health and robust constitution," and sufficiently
tall; as a matter of fact, being poorer than those replaced, they are
more accustomed to privation and fatigue; most of them, having reached
maturity, are worth more for the service than youths who have been
recruited by anticipation and too young; some are old soldiers: and in
this case the substitute is worth twice as much as the new conscript
who has never donned the knapsack or bivouacked in the open air.
Consequently, those who are allowed to obtain substitutes are "the
drafted and conscripts of all classes, . . . unable to endure the
fatigues of war, and those who shall be recognized of greater use to
the State by continuing their labors and studies than in forming a
part of the army. . . ."[70]

Napoleon had too much sense to be led by the blind existences of
democratic formulae; his eyes, which penetrated beyond mere words, at
once perceived that the life of a simple soldier, for a young man well
brought up and a peasant or for day-laborer, is unequal. A tolerable
bed, sufficient clothing, good shoes, certainty of daily bread, a
piece of meat regularly, are novelties for the latter but not for the
former, and, consequently, enjoyments; that the promiscuity and odor
of the barrack chamber, the corporal's cursing and swearing and rude
orders, the mess-dish and camp-bread, physical hardships all day and
every other day, are for the former, but not for the latter, novelties
and, consequently, sufferings. From which it follows that, if literal
equality is applied, positive inequality is established, and that by
virtue even of the new creed, it is necessary, in the name of true
equality as in the name of true liberty, to allow the former, who
would suffer most, to treat fairly and squarely with the latter, who
will suffer less. And all the more because, by this arrangement, the
civil staff preserves for itself its future recruits; it is from
nineteen to twenty-six that the future chiefs and under-chiefs of the
great work of peaceful and fruitful labor, the savants, artists or
scholars, the jurisconsults, engineers or physicians, the enterprising
men of commerce or of industry, receive and undertake for themselves a
special and superior education, discover or acquire their leading
ideas, and elaborate their originality or their competency. If talent
is to be deprived of these productive years their growth is arrested
in full vegetation, and civil capacities, not less precious for the
State than military capacities, are rendered abortive.[71] - Towards
1804,[72] owing to substitution, one conscript out of five in the
rural districts, one conscript out of seven in the towns, and, on the
average, one conscript out of ten in France, escapes this forced
abortive condition; in 1806, the price of a substitute varies from
eighteen hundred to four thousand francs,[73] and as capital is
scarce, and ready money still more so, a sum like this is sufficiently
large. Accordingly, it is the rich or well-to-do class, in other words
the more or less cultivated class, which buys off its sons: reliance
may be placed on their giving them more or less complete culture. In
this way, it prevents the State from mowing down all its sprouting
wheat and preserves a nursery of subjects among which society is to
find its future élite. - Thus attenuated, the military law is still
rigid enough: nevertheless it remains endurable. It is only towards
1807[74] that it becomes monstrous and grows worse and worse from year
to year until it becomes the sepulcher of all French youth, even to
taking as canon fodder the adolescent under age and men already exempt
or free by purchase. But, as before these excesses, it may still be
maintained with certain modifications; it suffices almost to retouch
it, to establish exemptions and the privilege of substitution as
rights, which were once simply favors,[75] reduce the annual
contingent, limit the term of service, guarantee their lasting freedom
to those liberated, and thus secure in 1818 a recruiting law
satisfactory and efficacious which, for more than half a century, will
attain its ends without being too detrimental or too odious, and
which, among so many laws of the same sort, all mischievous, is
perhaps the least pernicious.



[1] "The Ancient Régime," book II., ch. 2, 3, 4, and book V. (Laff. I.
pp. 95 to 125 and pp. 245 to 308.)

[2] La Bruyère is, I believe, the first of these precursors. Cf. his
chapters on "The Great," on "Personal Merit," on "The Sovereign and
the Republic," and his chapter on "Man," his passages on "The
Peasants," on "Provincial Notes," etc. These appeals, later on, excite
the applause given to the "Marriage of Figaro." But, in the
anticipatory indictment, they strike deeper; there is no gayety in
them, the dominant sentiment being one of sadness, resignation, and

[3] "Discours prononcé par l'ordre du roi et en sa presence, le 22
février 1787," by M. de Calonne, contrô1eur-général, p.22. "What
remains then to fill this fearful void (in the finances)? Abuses. The
abuses now demanding suppression for the public weal are the most
considerable and the best protected, those that are the deepest rooted
and which send out the most branches. They are the abuses which weigh
most heavily on the working and producing classes, the abuses of
financial privileges, the exceptions to the common law and to so many
unjust exemptions which relieve only a portion of the taxpayers by
aggravating the lot of the others; general inequality in the
distribution of subsidies and the enormous disproportion which exists
in the taxation of different provinces and among the offices filled by
subjects of the same sovereign; severity and arbitrariness in the
collection of the taille; bureaux of internal transportation, and
obstacles that render different parts of the same kingdom strangers to
each other; rights that discourage industry; those of which the
collection requires excessive expenditure and innumerable collectors."

[4] De Ségur, " Mémoires," III., 591. In 1791, on his return from
Russia, his brother says to him, speaking of the Revolution:
"Everybody, at first, wanted it . . From the king down to the most
insignificant man in the kingdom, everybody did something to help it
along; one let it come on up to his shoe-buckle, another up to his
garter, another to his waist, another to his breast, and some will not
be content until their head is attacked!"

[5] My French dictionary tells me that the Carmagnole is not only a
popular revolutionary dance but also a short and tight jacket worn by
the revolutionaries between 1792 and 1795 and that it came via
Marseille with workers from the town of Carmagnola in Piedmont. (SR.)

[6] "The Revolution," pp. 271-279. (Laff. I. 505 to 509.) -Stourm "
Les Finances de 1'ancien régime et de la Révolution," I., 171 to 177.
- (Report by Ramel, January 31, 1796.) "One would scarcely believe it
- the holders of real-estate now owe the public treasury over 13
milliards."- (Report by Gaudin, Germinal, year X. on the assessment
and collection of direct taxes.) "This state of things constituted a
permanent, annual deficit of 200 millions."

[7] "The Ancient Régime," p. 99, and "The Revolution," p.407. (Laff.
I. pp 77-78 and II. 300) (About 1,200 millions per annum in bread for
Paris, instead of 45 millions for the civil and military household of
the King at Versailles.)

[8] "The Ancient Régime," p. 68. (Laff. I. p. 55) - Madame Campan,
"Mémoires," I., 291, 292.

[9] "The Revolution," II., 151, and III., 500. (Laff. II. 282-283)

[10] "Mémorial." (Napoleon's own words.) "The day when, adopting the
unity and concentration of power, which could alone save us, . . . the
destinies of France depended solely on the character, measures and
conscience of him who had been clothed with this accidental
dictatorship - beginning with that day, public affairs, that is to
stay the State, was myself . . . I was the keystone of an entirely new
building and how slight the foundation! Its destiny depended on each
of my battles. Had I been defeated at Marengo you would have then had
a complete 1814 and 1815."

[11] Beugnot, "Mémoires,"II., 317. "To be dressed, taxed, and ordered
to take up arms, like most folks, seemed a punishment as soon as one
had found a privilege within reach," such, for example, as the title
of "déchireur de bateaux" (one who condemns unseaworthy craft and
profits by it), or inspector of fresh butter (using his fingers in
tasting it), or tide-waiter and inspector of salt fish. These titles
raised a man above the common level, and there were over twenty
thousand of them.

[12] See "The Ancient Régime," p. 129. (Laff. I. p. 99)

[13] Madame de Rémusat, "Mémoires," III., 316, 317.

[14] De Beausset, "Intérieur du palais de Napoléon " I., p. 9 et seq..
For the year 1805 the total expense is 2,338,167 francs; for the year
1806 it reaches 2,770,861 francs, because funds were assigned "for the
annual augmentation of plate, 1,000 silver plates and other objects."
- "Napoleon knew, every New Year's day, what he expended (for his
household) and nobody ever dared overpass the credits he allowed."

[15] "The Ancient Régime," pp. 35o-357.(Laff. I. 259-266)

[16] "The Revolution," I. pp. 276-281.(Laff. pp. 508-510) - Stourm,
ibid., 168-171. (Speech by Bénard-Lagrave to the Five Hundred,
Pluviôse II, year IV.) "It cannot be concealed that, for many years,
people were willingly accustoming themselves to the non-payment of

[17] Stourm, ibid.,II., 365. (Speech of Ozanam to the Five Hundred,
Pluviôse 14, year VII.) "Scandalous traffic. . . . Most of the (tax)
collectors in the republic are heads and managers of banks." -
(Circular of the minister of the finances, Floréal 25 year VII.)
"Stock-jobbing of the worst kind to which many collectors give
themselves up, using bonds and other public securities received in
payment of taxes." - (Report by Gros-Cassaud Florimond, Sep.19, 1799.)
"Among the corruptible and corrupting agents there are only too many
public functionaries." - Mollien, "Mémoires," I., 222. (In 1800, he
had just been appointed director of the sinking-fund.) "The
commonplace compliment which was everywhere paid to me (and even by
statesmen who affected the sternest morality) was as follows - you are
very fortunate to have an office in which one may legitimately
accumulate the largest fortune in France. " - Cf. Rocquain, "État de
la France au 18 Brumaire." (Reports by Lacuée, Fourcroy and Barbé-

[18] Charlotte de Sohr, "Napoléon en Belgique et en Hollande," 1811,
vol. I., 243. (On a high functionary condemned for forgery and whom
Napoleon kept in prison in spite of every solicitation.) "Never will I
pardon those who squander the public funds. . . . Ah ! parbleu! We
should have the good old times of the contractors worse than ever if I
did not show myself inexorable for these odious crimes."

[19] Stourm, ibid., I., 177. (Report by Gaudin, Sep. 15, 1799.) "A few
(tax) rolls for the year V, and one-third of those for the year VII,
are behindhand." - (Report by the same, Germinal I, year X.)
"Everything remained to do, on the advent of the consulate, for the
assessment and collection of direct taxes; 35,000 rolls for the year
VII still remained to be drawn up. With the help of the new office,
the rolls for the year VII have been completed; those of the year VIII
were made out as promptly as could be expected, and those of the year
IX have been prepared with a dispatch which, for the first time since
the revolution, enables the collections to be begun in the very year
to which they belong."

[20] "Archives parlementaires," VIII., p.11. (Report by Necker to the
States-General, May 5, 1789.) "These two-fifths, although legitimately
due to the king, are always in arrears. . . . (To-day) these arrears
amount in full to about 80 millions."

[21] De Foville, "la France économique," p.354.

[22] "The Ancient Régime," p. 354. (Laff. I. p. 263.)

[23] Necker, "De l'administration des finances," I., 164, and "Rapport
aux états-généraux," May 5th, 1789. (We arrive at these figures, 179
millions, by combining these documents, on both sides, with the
observation that the 3rd vingtième is suppressed in 1789.)

[24] Charles Nicolas, "les Budgets de la France depuis le commencement
du XIXème siècle" (in tabular form). - De Foville, ibid., 356.--In
the year IX, the sum-total of direct taxes is 308 millions; in the
year XI. 360, and in the year XII, 376. The total income from real-
estate in France towards 1800 is 1,500 millions.

[25] It is only after 1816 that the total of each of the four direct
taxes can be got at (land, individual, personal, doors and windows).
In 1821, the land-tax amounts to 265 millions, and the three others
together to 67 millions. Taking the sum of 1,580 millions, estimated
by the government as the net revenue at this date in France, we find
that, out of this revenue, 16.77 % is deducted for land, and that,
with the other three, it then abstracts from the same revenue 21 % -
On the contrary, before 1789, the five corresponding direct taxes,
added to tithes and feudal privileges, abstracted 81.71 % from the net
income of the taxable party. (Cf. "The Ancient Régime," pp.346, 347,
351 et seq. Laff. I. pp. 258, 259, 261 and following pages. )

[26] These figures are capital, and measure the distance which
separates the old from the new condition of the laboring and poor
class, especially in the rural districts; hence the tenacious
sentiments and judgments of the people with respect to the Ancient
Régime, the Revolution and the Empire. - All local information
converges in this sense. I have verified the above figures as well as
I could: 1st, by the "Statistiques des préfets," of the year IX and
year XIII and afterwards (printed); 2nd, by the reports of the
councillors of state on mission during the year IX (published by
Rocquam, and in manuscript in the Archives nationales); 3rd, by the
reports of the senators on their sénatories and by the prefects on
their departments, in 1806, 1809, 1812, 1814 and 1815, and from 1818
to 1823 (in manuscript in the Archives nationales); 4th, by the
observations of foreigners travelling in France from 1802 to 1815. -
For example ("A Tour through several of the Middle and Western
Departments of France," 1802, p.23): "There are no tithes, no church
taxes, no taxation of the poor. . . . All the taxes together do not go
beyond one-sixth of a man's rent-roll, that is to say, three shillings
and sixpence on the pound sterling." - ("Travels in the South of
France, 1807 and 1808," by Lieutenant-Colonel Pinkney, citizen of the
United States, p.162.) At Tours a two-story house, with six or eight
windows on the front, a stable, carriagehouse, garden and orchard,
rents at £20 sterling per annum, with the taxes which are from £1,10,
to £2, for the state and about ten shillings for the commune. -
("Notes on a Journey through July, August and September, 1814," by
Morris Birkbeck, p.23.) Near Cosne (Orléanais), an estate of 1,000
acres of tillable land and 500 acres of woods is rented for nine
years, for about 9,000 francs a year, together with the taxes, about
1,600 francs more. - (Ibid., p.91.) "Visited the Brie. Well cultivated
on the old system of wheat, oats and fallow. Average rent 16 francs
the acre with taxes, which are about one-fifth of the rent." -
Roederer, III., 474 (on the sénatorerie of Caen, Dec.. 1, 1803): "The
direct tax is here in very moderate proportion to the income, it being
paid without much inconvenience. - The travellers above quoted and
many others are unanimous in stating the new prosperity of the
peasant, the cultivation of the entire soil and the abundance and
cheapness of provisions. (Morris Birkbeck, p.11.) "Everybody assures
me that the riches and comfort of the cultivators of the soil have
been doubled since twenty-five years." (Ibid., p.43, at Tournon-sur-
le-Rhône.) "I had no conception of a country so entirely cultivated as
we have found from Dieppe to this place." - (Ibid., P.51,, at
Montpellier.) "From Dieppe to this place we have not seen among the
laboring people one such famished, worn-out, wretched figure as may be
met in every parish of England, I had almost said on almost every
farm. . . . A really rich country, and yet there are few rich
individuals." - Robert, " De l'Influence de la révolution sur la
population, 1802," p.41. "Since the Revolution I have noticed in the
little village of Sainte-Tulle that the consumption of meat has
doubled; the peasants who formerly lived on salt pork and ate beef
only at Easter and at Christmas, frequently enjoy a pot-à-feu during
the week, and have given up rye-bread for wheat-bread."

[27] The sum of 1 fr. 15 for a day's manual labor is an average,
derived from the statistics furnished by the prefects of the year IX
to the year XIII, especially for Charente, Deux-Sèvres, Meurthe,
Moselle and Doubs.

[28] "The Ancient Régime." p. 353. (Laff. I. p. 262).

[29] Arthur Young, II., 259. (Average rate for a day's work throughout
France in 1789.)

[30] About 15 millions out of 26 millions, in the opinion of Mallet-
Dupan and other observers. - Towards the middle of the 18th century,
in a population estimated at 20 millions, Voltaire reckons that "many
inhabitants possess only the value of 10 crowns rental, that others
have only 4 or 5, and that more than 6 millions of inhabitants have
nothing." ("L'homme aux quarante écus.")- A little later, Chamfort
(I., 178) adds: "It is an incontestable truth that, in France, 7
millions of men beg, and 12 millions of men are incapable of giving

[31] Law of Floréal 3, year X, title II, articles 13, 14, § 3 and 4.

[32] Charles Nicolas, ibid. - In 1821, the personal and poll tax
yields 46 millions; the tax on doors and windows, 21 millions: total,
67 millions. According to these sums we see that, if the recipient of
100 francs income from real-estate pays 16 fr. 77 real-estate tax, he
pays only 4 fr. 01 for his three other direct taxes. - These figures,
6 to 7 francs, can nowadays be arrived at through direct observation.
- To omit nothing, the assessment in kind, renewed in principle after
1802 on all parish and departmental roads, should be added; this tax,
demanded by rural interests, laid by local authorities, adapted to the
accommodation of the taxpayer, and at once accepted by the
inhabitants, has nothing in common with the former covée, save in
appearance; in fact, it is as easy as the corvée was burdensome.
(Stourm, I., 122.)

[33] They thus pay between 2 and 6% in taxes, a very low taxation if
we compare with the contemporary industrial consumer welfare society,
where, in Scandinavia, the average worker pay more than 50% of his
income in direct and indirect taxes. (SR.)

[34] Charles Nicolas, "Les Budgets de la France depuis le commencement
du XIXe Siècle," and de Foville, "La France économique," p. 365, 373.
- Returns of licenses in 1816, 40 millions; in 1820, 22 millions; in
1860, 80 millions; in 1887, 171 millions.

[35] The mutation tax is that levied in France on all property
transmitted by inheritance. or which changes hands through formal sale
(other than in ordinary business transactions), as in the case of
transfers of real-estate, effected through purchase or sale. Timbre
designates stamp duties imposed on the various kinds of legal

[36] Ibid. Returns of the mutation tax (registration and timbre).
Registration in 1820, 127 millions ; in 1860, 306 millions; in 1886,
518 millions. - Timbre, in 1820, 26 millions; in 1860, 56 millions; in
1886, 156 millions. Sum-total in 1886, 674 millions. - The rate of
corresponding taxes under the ancient régime (contrôle, insinuation
centième denier, formule) was very much lower; the principal one, or
tax of centieme denier, took only 1 per 100, and on the mutations of
real-estate. This mutation tax is the only one rendered worse; it was
immediately aggravated by the Constituent Assembly, and it is rendered
all the more exorbitant on successions in which liabilities are not
deducted from assets. (That is to say, the inheritor of an indebted
estate in France must pay a mutation tax on its full value. He has the
privilege, however, of renouncing the estate if he does not choose to
accept it along with its indebtedness.) - The taxpayer's resignation
to this tax is explained by the exchequer collecting it at a unique
moment, when proprietorship just comes into being or is just at the
point of birth. In effect, if property changes hands under inheritance
or through free donation it is probable that the new owner, suddenly
enriched, will be only too glad to enter into possession of it, and
not object to an impost which, although taking about a tenth, still
leaves him only a little less wealthy. When property is transferred by
contract or sale, neither of the contracting parties, probably, sees
clearly which pays the fiscal tax; the seller may think that it is the
buyer, and the buyer that it is the seller. Owing to this illusion
both are less sensible of the shearing, each offering his own back in
the belief that it is the back of the other.

[37] See "The Ancient Régime," pp.358-362. (Ed. Laff. I. 266-268.)

[38] See "The Revolution," vol. I., pp. 16, 38. (ED. Laff. I. pp. 326,

[39] Decree of Oct. 31 - Nov. 5, 1789, abolishing the boundary taxes
between the provinces and suppressing all the collection offices in
the kingdom. - Decree of 21-30 March 1790, abolishing the salt-tax.
Decree of 1-17 March 1791, abolishing all taxes on liquors, and decree
of 19-25 Feb. 1791, abolishing all octroi taxes. - Decree of 20-27
March 1791, in relation to freedom of growing, manufacturing and
selling tobacco; customs-duties on the importation of leaf-tobacco
alone are maintained, and give but an insignificant revenue, from
1,500,000 to 1,800,000 francs in the year V.

[40] Gaudin, Duc de Gaëte, "Mémoires," I., 215-217. - The advantages
of indirect taxation are well explained by Gaudin. "The taxpayer pays
only when he is willing and has the means. On the other hand, when the
duties imposed by the exchequer are confounded with the price of the
article, the taxpayer, in paying his due, thinks only of satisfying a
want or of procuring an enjoyment." - Decrees of March 16 and 27, and
May 4, 1806 (on salt), of February 25, 1804, April 24, 1806, Nov. 25,
1808 (on liquors), May 19, 1802, March 6, 1804, April 24, 1806, Dec..
29, 1810 (on tobacco).

[41] Letrosne, "De l'administration des finances et de la réforme de
1'impôt" (1779) pp.148, 162. - Laboulaye, "De l'administration
française sous Louis XVI." (Revue des cours littéraires, 1864-1865,
p.677). "I believe that, under Louis XIII., they took at least five
and, under Louis XIV, four to get two."

[42] Paul Leroy-Bealieu, "Traité de la science des finances," I., 261.
(In 1875, these costs amount to 5.20 %.) - De Foville, ibid. (Cost of
customs and salt-tax, in 1828, 16.2 %; in 1876, 10.2 %. - Cost of
indirect taxation, in 1828, 14.90 %; in 1876, 3.7 %.) - De Calonné,
"Collection des mémoires présentés à l'assemblée des notables," 1787,

[43] See "The Ancient Régime," P.23, 370. - " The Revolution," I., 10,
16, 17. (Ed. Laff. I. pp. 23-24, 274, 322, 326-327.)

[44] See "The Ancient Régime," p.361. (Ed. Laff. I. p.268.)

[45] Leroy-Beaulieu, ibid., I., 643.

[46] Decrees of November 25, 1808, and December 8, 1824.

[47] Certain persons under the ancient régime enjoyed an exemption
from the tax on salt.

[48] Stourm, I., 360, 389. - De Foville, 382, 385, 398.

[49] These figures are given by Gaudin.

[50] Thiers, XIII., pp.20 to 25.

[51] Lafayette, "Mémoires." (Letter of October 17, 1779, and notes
made in Auvergne, August 1800.) "You know how many beggars there were,
people dying of hunger in our country. We see no more of them. The
peasants are richer, the land better tilled and the women better
clad." - "The Ancient Régime," 340, 34, 342. - " The Revolution,"
III., p.366, 402.

[52] "The Ancient Régime," P.340. (ED. Laff. I. pp. 254, 256.)-" The
Revolution," III., 212. (Ed. Laff. II. p. 271, 297.)

[53] These two famines were due to inclement seasons and were
aggravated, the last one by the consequences of invasion and the
necessity of supporting 150,000 foreign troops, and the former by the
course taken by Napoleon who applies the maximum afresh, with the same
intermeddling, the same despotism and the same failure as under the
Convention.( "Souvenirs", by PASQUIER (Etienne-Dennis, duc),
chancelier de France. in VI volumes, Librarie Plon, Paris 1893.) "I
do not exaggerate in stating that our operations in the purchase and
transport (of grain) required a full quarter of the time, and often
one-third, more than would have been required in commerce." -
Prolongation of the famine in Normandy. "Bands of famished beggars
overran the country. . . . Riots and pillaging around Caen; several
mills burnt. . . . Suppression of these by the imperial guard. In the
executions which resulted from these even women were not spared." -
The two principal guarantees at the present day against this public
danger are, first, easier circumstances, and next the multiplication
of good roads and of railroads, the dispatch and cheapness of
transportation, and the superabundant crops of Russia and the United

[54] J. Gebelin, "Histoire des milices provinciales" (1882), p.87,
143, 157, 288. - Most of the texts and details may be found in this
excellent work. - Many towns, Paris, Lyons, Reims, Rouen, Bordeaux,
Tours, Agen, Sedan and the two generalities of Flanders and Hainault
are examples of drawing by lot; they furnished their contingent by
volunteers enlisted at their own expense; the merchants and artisans,
or the community itself, paying the bounty for enlistment. Besides
this there were many exemptions in the lower class. - Cf. "The
Ancient Régime," p.390. (Ed. Laff. p. 289.)

[55] J. Gebelin, ibid., 239, 279, 288. (Except the eight regiments of
royal grenadiers in the militia who turned out for one month in the

[56] Example afforded by one department. ("Statistics of Ain," by
Rossi, prefect, 1808.) Number of soldiers on duty in the department,
in 1789, 323; in 1801, 6,729; in 1806, 6,764. - " The department of
Ain furnished nearly 30,000 men to the armies, conscripts and those
under requisition." - It is noticeable, consequently, that in the
population of 1801, there is a sensible diminution of persons between
twenty and thirty and, in the population of 1806, of those between
twenty-five and thirty-five years of age. The number between twenty
and thirty is as follows: in 1789, 39,828; in 1801, 35,648; in 1806,

[57] De Dampmartin. "Evénemens qui se sont passés sous mes yeux
pendant la révolution française," V. II. (State of the French army,
Jan. 1, 1789.) Total on a peace footing, 177,890 men. - This is the
nominal force; the real force under arms was 154,000; in March 1791,
it had fallen to 115,000, through the multitude of desertions and the
scarcity of enlistments, (Yung, "Dubois-Crancé et la Révolution," I.,
158. Speech by Dubois-Crancé.)

[58] "The Ancient Régime," P 390, 391. - "The Revolution," p. 328-330.
(Ed. Laff. I. 289 and 290, pp. 542-543) - Albert Babeau, "le
Recrutement militaire sous 1'ancien Régime." (In "la Réforme sociale"
of Sept. I, 1888, p. 229, 238.)- An officer says, "only the rabble are
enlisted because it is cheaper." - Yung, ibid., I., 32. (Speech by M.
de Liancourt in the tribune.) "The soldier is classed apart and is too
little esteemed." - Ibid., p. 39. ("Vices et abus de la constitution
actuelle française," memorial signed by officers in most of the
regiments, Sept. 6, 1789.) "The majority of soldiers are derived from
the offscourings of the large towns and are men without occupation."

[59] Gebelin, p. 270. Almost all the cahiers of the third-estate in
1789 demand the abolition of drafting by lot, and nearly all of those
of the three orders are for volunteer service, as opposed to
obligatory service; most of these demand, for the army, a volunteer
militia enlisted through a bounty; this bounty or security in money to
be furnished by communities of inhabitants which, in fact, was already
the case in several towns.

[60] Albert Babeau, ibid., 238. "Colonels were allowed only 100
francs per man; this sum, however, being insufficient, the balance was
assessed on the pay of the officers."

[61] This principle was at once adopted by the Jacobins. (Yung, ibid.,
19, 22, 145. Speech by Dubois-Crancé at the session held Dec.12,
1789.) "Every citizen will become a soldier of the Constitution." No
more casting lots nor substitution. "Each citizen must be a soldier
and each soldier a citizen." - The first application of the principle
is a call for 300,000 men (Feb. 26, 1793), then through a levy on the
masses which brings 500,000 men under the flag, nominally volunteers,
but conscripts in reality. (Baron Poisson, "l'Armée et la Garde
Nationale,"III, 475.)

[62] Taine wrote this in 1888, after the end of the second French
Empire, after the transformation of Prussia into the Empire of
Germany. Taine apparently had a premonition of the terrible wars of
the 20th century, of Nazism, Communism and their death and
concentration camps. (SR.)

[63] Baron Poisson, "l'Armée et la Garde nationale," III., 475.
(Summing up.) "Popular tradition has converted the volunteer of the
Republic into a conventional personage which history cannot accept. .
. . 1st. The first contingent of volunteers demanded of the country
consisted of 97,000 men (i1791). 60,000 enthusiasts responded to the
call, enlisted for a year and fulfilled their engagement; but for no
consideration would they remain longer. 2nd. Second call for
volunteers in April 1792. Only mixed levies, partial, raised by money,
most of them even without occupation, outcasts and unable to withstand
the enemy. 3rd. 300,000 men recruited, which measure partly fails; the
recruit can always get off by furnishing a substitute. 4th. Levy in
mass of 500,000 men, called volunteers, but really conscripts."

[64] "Mémorial" (Speech by Napoleon before the Council of State). "I
am inflexible on exemptions; they would be crimes; how relieve one's
conscience of having caused one man to die in the place of another ?"
- "The conscription was an unprivileged militia: it was an eminently
national institution and already far advanced in our customs; only
mothers were still afflicted by it, while the time was coming when a
girl would not have a man who had not paid his debt to his country."

[65] Law of Fructidor 8, year XIII, article 10. - Pelet de La Lozère,
229. (Speech by Napoleon, Council of State, May 29, 1804.) - Pelet
adds: "The duration of the service was not fixed. . . . As a fact in
itself, the man was exiled from his home for the rest of his life,
regarding it as a desolating, permanent exile. . . . Entire sacrifice
of existence. . . . An annual crop of young men torn from their
families and sent to death." - Archives nationales, F7, 3014. (Reports
of prefects, 1806.) After this date, and even from the beginning,
there is extreme repugnance which is only overcome by severe means. .
. . (Ardeche.) "If the state of the country were to be judged of by
the results of the conscription one would have a poor idea of it." -
(Ariège.) "At Brussac, district of Foix, four or five individuals arm
themselves with stones and knives to help a conscript escape, arrested
by the gendarmes. . . . A garrison was ordered to this commune." - At
Massat, district of Saint-Girons, on a few brigades of gendarmes
entering this commune to establish a garrison, in order to hasten the
departure of refractory conscripts, they were stoned; a shot even was
fired at this troop. . . . A garrison was placed in these hamlets as
in the rest of the commune. - During the night of Frimaire 16-17 last,
six strange men presented themselves before the prison of Saint-Girons
and loudly demanded Gouazé, a deserter and condemned. On the jailor
coming down they seized him and struck him down." - (Haute-Loire.)
"'The flying column is under constant orders simultaneously against
the refractory and disobedient among the classes of the years IX, X,
XI, XII, and XIII, and against the laggards of that of year IV, of
which 134 men yet remain to be supplied." - (Bouches-du-Rhône.) "50
deserter sailors and 84 deserters or conscripts of different classes
have been arrested." - (Dordogne.) "Out of 1353 conscripts, 134 have
failed to reach their destination; 124 refractory or deserters from
the country and 41 others have been arrested; 81 conscripts have
surrendered as a result of placing a garrison amongst them; 186 have
not surrendered. Out of 892 conscripts of the year XIV on the march,
101 deserted on the road." - (Gard.) "76 refractory or deserters
arrested." - (Landes.) "Out of 406 men who left, 51 deserted on the
way," etc. - This repugnance becomes more and more aggravated. (Cf.
analogous reports of 1812 and 1813, F7, 3018 and 3019, in "Journal
d'un bourgeois d'Evreux," p. 150 to 214, and "Histoire de 1814," by
Henry Houssaye, p.8 to 24.)

[66] Law of Fructidor, year VI.

[67] Decree of July 29, 1811 (on the exemption of pupils in the École
Normale). - Decree of March 30, 1810, title II., articles 2, 4, 5, 6
(on the police and system of the École Normale). - Decree on the
organization of the University, titles 6 and 13, March 7, 1808.

[68] Law of Ventôse 17, year VIII, title III., articles I and 13. -
Law of Fructidor 8, year XIII, articles 50, 54, and 55.

[69] Law of Fructidor 8, year XIII, article 51

[70] Law of Ventôse 17, year VIII, title 3, article I.

[71] Thibaudeau, p. 108. (Speech of the First Consul before the
Council of State.) "Art, science and the professions must be thought
of. We are not Spartans. . . . As to substitution, it must be allowed.
In a nation where fortunes are equal each individual should serve
personally; but, with a people whose existence depends on the
inequality of fortunes, the rich must be allowed the right of
substitution; only we must take care that the substitutes be good, and
that conscripts pay some of the money serving to defray the expense of
a part of the equipment of the army of reserve."

[72] Pelet de La Lozère, 228.

[73] Archives nationales, F7, 3014. (Reports of prefects, 1806.)
Average price of a substitute: Basses Alpes, from 2,000 to 2,500
francs; Bouches-du-Rhône, from 1,800 to 3,000; Dordogne, 2,400; Gard,
3,000; Gers, 4,000; Haute-Garonne, from 2,000 to 3,000; Hérault,
4,000; Vaucluse, 2,500; Landes, 4,000. Average rate of interest
(Ardèche): "Money, which was from 11/4 to 11/2 %, has declined; it is
now at 3 1/4 % a month or 10 % per annum." - (Basses Alpes): "The rate
of money has varied in commerce from 1 to 3/4 % per month." - (Gard):
"Interest is at 1 % a month in commerce; proprietors can readily
borrow at 9 or 10 % per annum." - (Hérault): "The interest on money is
1 1/4 % per month." - (Vaucluse): "Money is from 3/4 to 11/4 % per

[74] Thiers, VII., p.23 and 467. In November 1806, Napoleon orders the
conscription of 1807; in March 1807, he orders the conscription of
1808, and so on, always from worse to worse. - Decrees of 1808 and
1813 against young men of family already bought off or exempted. -
"Journal d'un Bourgeois d'Evreux," 214. Desolate state of things in
1813, "general depression and discouragement." - Miot de Mélito, III.,
304. (Report of Miot to the Emperor after a tour in the departments in
1815.) "Everywhere, almost, the women are your declared enemies."

[75] Law of Ventôse 17, year VIII, title 3, articles 6, 7, 8, 9. -
Exemption is granted as a favor only to the ignorantin brothers and to
seminarians assigned to the priesthood. - Cf. the law of March 10,
1818, articles 15 and 18.

CHAPTER III. Ambition and Self-esteem.

I. Rights and benefits.

The assignment of right. - Those out of favor and the preferred under
former governments. - Under the Ancient Regime. - During the
Revolution. - French conception of Equality and Rights. - Its
ingredients and its excesses. - The satisfaction it obtains under the
new regime. - Abolition of legal incapacity and equality in the
possession of rights. - Confiscation of collective action and equality
in the deprivation of rights. - Careers in the modern State. - Equal
right of all to offices and to promotion. - Napoleon's distribution of
employments. - His staff of officials recruited from all classes and

Now that the State has just made a new allotment of the burdens and
duties which it imposes it must make a new assignment of the rights
and benefits it confers. Distributive justice, on both sides, and long
before 1789, was defective, and, under the monarchy, exclusions had
become as obnoxious as exemptions; all the more because, through a
double iniquity, the ancient Régime in each group distinguished two
other groups, one to which it granted every exemption, and the other
which it made subject to every exclusion. The reason is that, from the
first, the king, in the formation and government of the kingdom, in
order to secure the services, money, collaboration or connivance which
he needed, was obliged to negotiate always with corporations, orders,
provinces, seignories, the clergy, churches, monasteries,
universities, parliaments, professional bodies or industrial guilds
and families, that is to say with constituted powers, more or less
difficult to bring under subjection and which, to be kept in
subjection, stipulated conditions. Hence, in France, so many different
conditions: each distinct body had yielded through one or several
distinct capitulations and possessed its own separate statute. Hence,
again, such diversely unequal conditions: the bodies, the best able to
protect themselves, had, of course, defended themselves the best.
Their statutes, written or unwritten, guaranteed to them precious
privileges which the other bodies, much weaker, could neither acquire
nor preserve. These were not merely immunities but likewise
prerogatives, not alone alleviations of taxation and militia
dispensations, but likewise political and administrative liberties,
remnants of their primitive sovereignty, with many other positive
advantages. The very least being precedence, preferences, social
priority, with an incontestable right to rank, honors, offices, and
favors. Such, notably, were the regions-states possessing their own
government (pays d'états), compared with those which elected the
magistrates who apportioned taxation (pays d'élection),[1] the two
highest orders, the clergy and the nobles, compared with the third-
estate, and the bourgeoisie, and the town corporations compared with
the rest of the inhabitants. On the other hand, opposed to these
historical favorites were the historical disinherited, the latter much
more numerous and counting by millions - the taxable commons, all
subjects without rank or quality, in short, the ordinary run of men,
especially the common herd of the towns and particularly of the
country, all the more ground down on account of their lower status,
along with the Jews lower yet, a sort of foreign class scarcely
tolerated, with the Calvinists, not only deprived of the humblest
rights but, again, persecuted by the State for the past one hundred

All these people, who have been transported far outside of civic
relationships by historic right, are brought back, in 1789, by
philosophic right. After the declarations of the Constituent Assembly,
there are no longer in France either Bretons, Provençals, Burgundians
or Alsatians, Catholics, Protestants or Israelites, nobles or
plebeians, bourgeois or rurals, but simply Frenchmen,

* all with the one title of citizens,
* all endowed with the same civil, religious and political rights,
* all equal before the State,
* all introduced by law into every career, collectively, on an equal
footing and without fear or favor from anybody;
* all free to follow this out to the end without distinction of rank,
birth, faith or fortune;
* all, if they are good runners, to receive the highest prizes at the
end of the race, any office or rank, especially the leading honors and
positions which, thus far reserved to a class or coterie, had not been
allowed previously to the great multitude.

Henceforth, all Frenchmen, in theory, enjoy rights in common;
unfortunately, this is only the theory. In reality, in all state
relationships (dans la cité), the new-comers appropriate to themselves
the offices, the pretensions, and more than the privileges of their
predecessors; the latter, consisting of large and small land-owners,
gentlemen, parliamentarians, officials, ecclesiastics, notables of
every kind and degree, are immediately deprived of the rights of man.
Surrendered to rural jacqueries and to town mobs, they undergo, first,
the neglect and, next, the hostility of the State: the public gendarme
has ceased to protect them and refuses his services; afterwards, on
becoming a Jacobin, he declares himself their enemy, treats them as
enemies, plunders them, imprisons them, murders them, expels or
transports them, inflicts on them civil death, and shoots them if they
dare return; he deprives their friends or kindred who remain in France
of their civil rights; he deprives the nobles or the ennobled of their
quality as Frenchmen, and compels them to naturalize themselves afresh
according to prescribed formalities ; he renews against the Catholics
the interdictions, persecutions and brutalities which the old
government had practiced against the Calvinist minority. - Thus, in
1799 as in 1789, there are two classes of Frenchmen, two different
varieties of men, the first one superior, installed in the civic fold,
and the second, inferior and excluded from it; only, in 1799, the
greatest inequality consigned the inferior and excluded class to a
still lower, more remote, and much worse condition.

The principle (of equalite) , nevertheless, subsists. Since 1789 it is
inscribed at the top of every constitution; it is still proclaimed in
the new constitution. It has remained popular, although perverted and
disfigured by the Jacobins; their false and gross interpretation of it
could not bring it into discredit; athwart the hideous grotesque
caricature, all minds and sentiments ever recur to the ideal form of
the cité to the veritable social contract, to the impartial, active,
and permanent reign of distributive justice. Their entire education,
all the literature, philosophy and culture of the eighteenth century,
leads them onward to this conception of society and of rights; more
profoundly still, they are predisposed to it by the inner structure of
their intelligence, by the original cast of their sensibility7 by the
hereditary defects and qualities of their nature and of their race.-
The Frenchman easily and quickly grasps some general trait of objects
and persons, some characteristic in common; here, this characteristic
is the inherent quality of man which he dexterously makes prominent,
clearly isolates, and then, stepping along briskly and confidently,
rushes ahead on the high-road to consequences.[2] He has forgotten
that his summary notion merely corresponds to an extract, and a very
brief one, of man in his completeness; his decisive, precipitate
process hinders him from seeing the largest portion of the real
individual; he has overlooked numerous traits, the most important and
most efficacious, those which geography, history, habit, condition,
manual labor, or a liberal education, stamp on intellect, soul and
body and which, through their differences, constitute different local
or social groups. Not only does he overlook all these characteristics,
but he sets them aside; they are too numerous and too complex; they
would interfere with and disturb his thoughts; however fitted for
clear and comprehensive logic he is so much the less fitted for
complex and comprehensive ideas; consequently, he avoids them and,
through an innate operation of which he is unconscious, he
involuntarily condenses, simplifies and curtails henceforth, his idea,
partial and superficial as it is, seems to him adequate and complete;
in his eyes the abstract quality of man takes precedence of and
absorbs all others; not only has this a value, but the sole value. One
man, therefore, is as good as another and the law should treat all
alike. - Here, amour-propre (self-esteem, pride or arrogance), so keen
in France, and so readily excited, comes in to interpret and apply the

"Since all men equal each other, I am as good as any man; if the law
confers a right on people of this or that condition, fortune or birth,
it must confer the same right on me. Every door that is open to them
must be open to me; every door that is closed to me must be closed to
them. Otherwise, I am treated as an inferior and wounded in my deepest
feelings. When the legislator places a ballot in their hands he is
bound to place another just like it in my hands, even if they know how
to use it and I do not, even if a limited suffrage is of use to the
community and universal suffrage is not. So much the worse if I am
sovereign only in name, and through the imagination; I consent to my
sovereignty being illusory, but with the understanding that the
sovereignty of others is regarded likewise; so I prefer servitude and
privation for all, rather than liberties and advantages for a few,
and, provided the same level is passed over all heads, I submit to the
yoke for all heads, including my own."

Such is the internal composition of the instinct of' equality, and
such is the natural instinct of Frenchmen. It is beneficial or
mischievous according as one or the other of its ingredients
predominates, at one time the noble sentiment of equity and at another
time the low envy of foolish vanity;[4] healthy or unhealthy, however,
its power in France is enormous, and the new Régime gratifies it in
every possible way, good or bad. No more legal disqualifications! On
the one hand, the republican laws of proscription or of exception were
all repealed: we have seen an amnesty and the return of the émigrés,
the Concordat, the restoration of Catholic worship, the compulsory
reconciliation of the constitutionalists with the orthodox; the First
Consul admits no difference between them; his new clergy are recruited
from both groups and, in this respect, he forces the Pope to yield.[5]
He gives twelve of the sixty episcopal thrones to former schismatics;
he wants them to take their places boldly; he relieves them from
ecclesiastical penitence and from any humiliating recantation; he
takes care that, in the other forty-eight dioceses, the priests who
formerly took the civic oath shall be employed and well treated by
their superiors who, at the same epoch, refused to take the civic
oath. On the other hand, all the exclusions, inequalities and
distinctions of the monarchy remain abolished. Not only are the
Calvinist and even Israelite cults legally authorized, the same as the
Catholic cult, but, again, the Protestant consistories and Jewish
synagogues[6] are constituted and organized on the same footing as the
Catholic churches. Pastors and rabbis likewise become functionaries
under the same title as bishops and cure's; all are recognized or
sanctioned by the government and all equally benefit by its patronage:
it is an unique thing in Europe to find the small churches of the
minority obtaining the same measure of indifference and good will from
the State as the great church of the majority, and, henceforth, in
fact as in law, the ministers of the three cults, formerly ignored,
tolerated or proscribed, enjoy their rank, titles and honors in the
social as well as in the legal hierarchy, equally with the ministers
of that cult which was once the only one dominant or allowed

Similarly, in the civilian status, no inferiority or discredit must
legally attach to any condition whatever, either to plebeian,
villager, peasant or poor man as such, as formerly under the monarchy;
nor to noble, bourgeois, citizen, notable or rich man, as recently
under the Republic. Each of these two classes is relieved of its
degradation; no class is burdened by taxation or by the conscription
beyond its due; all persons and all property find in the government,
in the administration, in the tribunals, in the gendarme, the same
reliable protection. - So much for equity and the true spirit of
equality. - Let us now turn around and consider envy and the bad
spirit of equality. The plebiscite, undoubtedly, as well as the
election of deputies to the Corps Legislatif are simply comedies; but,
in these comedies, one rôle is as good as another and the duke of the
old or new pattern, a mere figurant among hundreds and thousands of
others, votes only once like the corner-grocer. Undoubtedly, the
private individual of the commune or department, in institutions of
charity, worship or education, is deprived of any independence, of any
initiation, of any control, as the State has confiscated for itself
all collective action; but the classes deprived of this are especially
the upper classes, alone sufficiently enlightened and wealthy to take
the lead, form projects and provide for expenditure: in this
usurpation, the State has encroached upon and eaten deeper into the
large body of superior existences scattered about than into the
limited circle where humbler lives clamber and crawl along; nearly the
entire loss, all perceptible privation, is for the large landed
proprietor and not for his hired hands, for the large manufacturer or
city merchant and not for their workmen or clerks,[7] while the clerk,
the workman, the journeyman, the handicraftsman, who grumble at being
the groundlings, find themselves less badly off since their masters or
patrons, fallen from a higher point, are where they are and they can
elbow them.

Now that men are born on the ground, all on the same level, and are
confined within universal and uniform limits, social life no longer
appears to them other than a competition, a rivalry instituted and
proclaimed by the State, and of which it is the umpire; for, through
its interference, all are comprised within its enclosure and shut up
and kept there; no other field is open to run on; on the contrary,
every career within these bounds, indicated and staked out beforehand,
offers an opportunity for all runners: the government has laid out and
leveled the ground, established compartments, divided off and prepared
rectilinear lists which converge to the goal; there, it presides, the
unique arbiter of the race, exposing to all competitors the
innumerable prizes which it proposes for them. - These prizes consist
of offices, the various employments of the State, political, military,
ecclesiastical, judiciary, administrative and university, all the
honors and dignities which it dispenses, all the grades of its
hierarchy from the lowest to the highest, from that of corporal,
college-regent, alderman, office - supernumerary, assistant priest up
to that of senator, marshal of France, grand master of the university,
cardinal, and minister of State. It confers on its possessor,
according to the greater or lesser importance of the place, a greater
or lesser portion of the advantages which all men crave and seek for
money, power, patronage, influence, consideration, importance and
social pre-eminence; thus, according to the rank one attains in the
hierarchy, one is something, or of some account; outside of the
hierarchy, one is nothing.

Consequently, the faculty for getting in and advancing one's self in
these lists is the most precious of all: in the new Régime it is
guaranteed by the law as a common right and is open to all Frenchmen.
As no other outlet for them is allowed by the State it owes them this
one; since it invites them and reduces everybody to competing under
its direction it is bound to be an impartial arbiter; since the
quality of citizen, in itself and through it alone, confers the right
to make one's way, all citizens indifferently must enjoy the right of
succeeding in any employment, the very highest, and without any
distinction as to birth, fortune, cult or party. There must be no more
preliminary exclusions; no more gratuitous preferences, undeserved
favors, anticipated promotions; no more special favors. - Such is the
rule of the modern State: constituted as it is, that is to say,
monopolizer and omnipresent, it cannot violate this rule for any
length of time with impunity. In France, at least, the good and bad
spirits of equality agree in exacting adherence to it: on this point,
the French are unanimous; no article of their social code is more
cherished by them; this one flatters their amour-propre and tickles
their imagination; it exalts hope, nourishes illusion, intensifies the
energy and enjoyment of life. - Thus far, the principle has remained
inert, powerless, held in suspension in the air, in the great void of
speculative declarations and of constitutional promises. Napoleon
brings it down to the ground and renders it practical; that which the
assemblies had decreed in vain for ten years he brings about for the
first time and in his own interest. To exclude a class or category of
men from offices and promotion would be equivalent to depriving one's
self gratuitously of all the talents it contains, and, moreover, to
incurring, besides the inevitable rancor of these frustrated talents,
the sullen and lasting discontent of the entire class or category. The
First Consul would do himself a wrong were he to curb his right to
choose: he needs every available capacity, and he takes them where he
finds them, to the right, to the left, above or below, in order to
keep his regiments full and enroll in his service every legitimate
ambition and every justifiable pretension.

Under the monarchy, an obscure birth debarred even the best endowed
men from the principal offices. Under the Consulate and the Empire the
two leading personages of the State are Lebrun, Maupeou's old
secretary, a productive translator,[8] a lawyer, formerly councilor in
a provincial court of justice, then third-consul, then Duc de
Plaisance and arch-chancellor of the Empire and Cambacérès, second-
consul, then Duc de Parme and arch-chancellor of the Empire, both of
them being princes. Similarly, the marshals are new men and soldiers
of fortune, a few of them born in the class of inferior nobles or in
the ordinary bourgeois class, mostly among the people or even amongst
the populace, and, in its lowest ranks, Masséna, the son of a wine-
dealer, once a cabin-boy and then common soldier and non-commissioned
officer for fourteen years; Ney, son of a cooper, Lefebvre, son of a
miller, Murat, son of a tavern-keeper, Lannes, son of an hostler, and
Augereau, son of a mason and a female dealer in fruit and vegetables.
- Under the Republic, noble birth consigned, or confined, the ablest
and best qualified men for their posts to a voluntary obscurity, only
too glad when their names did not condemn them to exile, imprisonment
or to the guillotine. Under the Empire, M. de Talleyrand is prince of
Benevento, minister of foreign affairs and vice-grand-elector with a
salary of five hundred thousand francs. We see personages of old
nobility figuring in the first ranks: among the clergy M. de
Roquelaure, M. de Boisgelin, M. de Broglie, M. Ferdinand de Rohan; in
the magistracy, M. Séguier, M. Pasquier, M. Molé; on the domestic and
decorative staff of the palace, Comte de Ségur, grand-master of
ceremonies, Comte de Montesquiou-Fézensac, grand-chamberlain, also as
chamberlains, Comtes d'Aubusson de la Feuillade, de Brigode, de Croy,
de Coutades, de Louvois, de Brancas, de Gontaut, de Grammont, de
Beauvau, de Lur-Saluces, d'Haussonville, de Noailles, de Chabot, de
Turenne,[9] and other bearers of historic names. - During the
Revolution, at each new parliamentarian, popular or military coup
d'état the notabilities of the vanquished party were always excluded
from office and generally outlawed. After the coup d'état of Brumaire,
not only are the vanquished of the old parties all brought back under
the protection of the law, but, again, their notables are promoted to
the highest offices. Among the monarchists of the Constituent Assembly
Mabuet is made councilor of State, and Maury archbishop of Paris;
forty-seven other ecclesiastics who, like himself, refused to take the
oath to the civil constitution of the clergy, are appointed, like him,
to episcopal thrones. Among the Feuillants of the Legislative
Assembly, Vaublanc is made prefect, Beugnot a councilor of State and
minister of the finances in the grand-duchy of Berg, Matthieu Dumas a
brigadier-general and director of reviews, Narbonne becomes the aid-
de-camp and the intimate interlocutor of Napoleon, and then ambassador
to Vienna; if Lafayette had been willing, not to ask for but to accept
the post, he would have been made a marshal of France. - Among the few
Girondists or Federalists who did not perish after the 2nd June,
Riouffe is prefect and baron, Lanjuinais is senator and count; among
others proscribed, or half proscribed, the new Régime restores to and
places at the head of affairs the superior and special employees whom
the Reign of Terror had driven away, or singled out for slaughter,
particularly the heads of the financial and diplomatic services who,
denounced by Robespierre on the 8th Thermidor, or arrested on the
morning of the 9th already felt their necks under the blade of the
guillotine; Reinhart and Otto are ambassadors, Mollien is count and
treasury minister, Miot becomes councilor of state, Comte de Melito
minister of finances at Naples, while Gaudin is made minister of
finances in France and Duc de Gaëte. Among the transported or
fugitives of Fructidor, Barthélemy becomes senator, Barbé-Marbois
director of the Treasury and first president of the Cour des Comptes;
Siméon, councilor of State and then minister of justice in Westphalia;
Portalis is made minister of worship, and Fontanes grand-master of the
University. The First Consul passes the sponge over all political
antecedents: not only does he summon to his side the moderates and
half-moderates of the Constituent and Legislative Assemblies, of the
Convention and of the Directory, but again he seeks recruits among
pure royalists and pure Jacobins, among the men the most devoted to
the ancient Régime and amongst those most compromised by the
Revolution, at both extremities of the most extreme opinions. We have
just seen, on the one side, what hereditary favorites of a venerable
royalty, what born supporters of the deposed dynasty, are elevated by
him to the first of his magisterial, clerical and court dignities. On
the other hand, apart from Chasset, Roederer and Grégoire, apart from
Fourcroy, Bérlier and Réal, apart from Treilhard and Boulay de La
Meurthe, he employs others branded or noted for terrible acts, Barère
himself, at least for a certain period, and in the sole office he was
fitted for, that of a denunciator, gazetteer and stimulator of public
opinion; everybody has a place according to his faculties, and each
has rank according to his usefulness and merit. Barère, consequently,
becomes a paid spy and pamphleteer; Drouet, the postmaster, who
arrested the royal family at Varennes, becomes sub-prefect at Sainte-
Menehould; Jean-Bon Saint-André, one of the Committee of Public
Safety, is made prefect at Mayence; Merlin de Douai, reporter of the
law against suspects, is prosecuting attorney in the court of
cassation; Fouché, whose name tells all, becomes minister of state and
Duke of Otranto; nearly all of the survivors of the Convention are
made judges of première instancc or of appeal, revenue-collectors,
deputies, prefects, foreign consuls, police commissioners, inspectors
of reviews, head-clerks in the post-offices, custom-houses and tax-
offices, while, in 1808, among these functionaries, one hundred and
thirty were regicides.[10]

II. Ambitions during the Ancient Regime.

The need of success. - Initiation and conditions of promotion under
the old monarchy. - Effect on minds. - Ambitions are limited. - The
external outlets open to them. -

To make one's way, get ahead, and succeed in the world is now the
dominant thought in the minds of men. Before 1789, this thought had
not acquired sovereign control in their minds; it found that there
were rival ideas to contend with, and it had only half-developed
itself; its roots had not sunk down deep enough to monopolize the
activity of the imagination, to absorb the will and possess the mind
entirely; and the reason is that it lacked both air and victuals.
Promotion, under the old monarchy, was slow, and in the first place,
because the monarchy was old and because in every order which is not
new each new generation finds that every office is filled, and next,
because, in this old order founded on tradition and heredity, future
vacancies were supplied long beforehand. The great social staircase
led to several stories ; each man could ascend every step of his own
flight, but he could not mount above it; the landing reached, he found
closed doors and nearly insurmountable barriers. The story above was
reserved to its own inhabitants; they occupied it now and were still
to occupy it in time to come; the inevitable successors of the titular
possessor were seen around him on each step, his equals, peers and
neighbors, one or the other often designated by name as his legal
heir, the purchaser of his survivorship. In those days, not only was
the individual himself considered, his merits and his services, but
likewise his family and ancestry, his state and condition, the society
he entered into, the "salon" he maintained, his fortune and his
followers; these antecedents and surroundings composed the quality of
the personage; without this requisite quality, he could not go beyond
the landing-place. Strictly speaking, a personage born on the upper
steps of one story might sometimes succeed in mounting the lowest
steps of the next story, but there he stopped. In short, it was always
considered by those on the lower story that the upper story was
inaccessible and, moreover, uninhabitable.

Accordingly, most of the public offices, in the finances, in the
administration, in the judiciary, in the parliaments, in the army, at
court, were private property as is now the case with the places of
advocates, notaries and brokers; they had to be bought to enable one
to follow these pursuits, and were very dear; one had to possess a
large capital and be content beforehand to derive only a mediocre
revenue from it, 10, 5 and sometimes 3 % on the purchase-money.[11]
The place once acquired, especially if an important one, involved
official parade, receptions, an open table, a large annual outlay;[12]
it often ran the purchaser in debt ; he knew that his acquisition
would bring him more consideration than crowns. On the other hand, to
obtain possession of it, he had to secure the good-will of the body of
which he became a member, or of the patron who bestowed the office.
That is to say, he must be regarded by his future colleagues as
acceptable, or by the patron as a guest, invited, and feasible friend,
in other words, provide sponsors for himself, furnish guarantees,
prove that he was well-off and well-educated, that his ways and
manners qualified him for the post, and that, in the society he was
about to enter, he would not turn out unsuitable. To maintain one's
self in office at court one was obliged to possess the tone of
Versailles, quite different from that of Paris and the provinces.[13]
To maintain one's self in a high parliamentary position, one was
expected to possess local alliances, moral authority, the traditions
and deportment handed down from father to son in the old magistrate
families, and which a mere advocate, an ordinary pleader, could not
arrive at.[14] In short, on this staircase, each distinct story
imposed on its inmates a sort of distinct costume, more or less
costly, embroidered and gilded, I mean a sum of outward and inward
habits and connections, all obligatory and indispensable, comprising
title, particle and name: the announcement of any bourgeois name by a
lackey in the ante-chamber would be considered a discord;
consequently, one had one's self ennobled in the current coin, or
assumed a noble name gratis. Caron, son of a watchmaker, became
Beaumarchais; Nicolas, a foundling, called himself M. de Champfort;
Danton, in public documents, signed himself d'Anton; in the same way,
a man without a dress-coat hires or borrows one, no matter how, on
going out to dine; all this was tolerated and accepted as a sign of
good behavior and of final conformity with custom, as in testimony of
respect for the usages of good society.

Through this visible separation of stories, people had acquired the
habit of remaining in the condition in which they were placed; they
were not irritated by being obliged to stay in it ; the soldier who
enlisted did not aspire to become an officer; the young officer of the
lower noblesse and of small means did not aspire to the post of
colonel or lieutenant-general; a limited perspective kept hopes and
the imagination from fruitlessly launching forth into a boundless
future: ambition, humbled to the ground at the start, walked instead
of flying; it recognized at the outset that the summits were beyond
its reach; to be able to mount upward one or two steps was enough. -
In general, a man obtained promotion on the spot, in his town,
corporation or parliament. The assistant-counselor who pleaded his
first case in the court of Grenoble or of Rennes calculated that, in
twenty years, he would become first judge at Grenoble or at Rennes,
rest twenty years or more in office, and he aimed at nothing better.
Alongside of the counselor of a (court) presidency, or of an
"election" magistrate, of a clerk in the salt-tax bureau, or in the
frontier custom-house, or in the bureau of "rivers and forests,"
alongside of a clerk in the treasury or ministry of foreign affairs,
or of a lawyer or prosecuting attorney, there was always some son,
son-in-law or nephew, fitted by domestic training, by a technical
apprenticeship, by moral adaptation, not only to perform the duties of
the office, but to be contented in it, pretend to nothing beyond it,
not to look above himself with regret or envy, satisfied with the
society around him, and feel, moreover, that elsewhere he would be out
of his element and uncomfortable.

Life, thus restricted and circumscribed, was more cheerful then than
at the present day; souls, less disturbed and less strained, less
exhausted and less burdened with cares, were healthier. The Frenchman,
exempt from modern preoccupations, followed amiable and social
instincts, inclined to take things easily, and of a playful
disposition owing to his natural talent for amusing himself by amusing
others, in mutual enjoyment of each other's company and without
calculation, through easy and considerate intercourse, smiling or
laughing, in short, in a constant flow of inspiration, good-humor and
gayety.[15] It is probable that, if the Revolution had not intervened,
the great parvenus of the time and of the Empire would, like their
forerunners, have submitted to prevailing necessities and readily
accommodated themselves to the discipline of the established Régime.
Cambacérès, who had succeeded to his father as counselor at the bar of
Montpellier, would have become president (of the tribunal) in his
turn; meanwhile, he would have composed able jurisprudential treatises
and invented some new pâté de becfigues; Lebrun, former collaborator
with Maupeou, might have become counselor in the court of excise at
Paris, or chief-clerk in the Treasury department; he would have kept
up a philosophical salon, with fashionable ladies and polished men of
letters to praise his elegant and faulty translations. Amongst the
future marshals, some of them, pure plebeians, Masséna, Augereau,
Lannes, Ney, Lefebvre, might have succeeded through brilliant actions
and have become "officers of fortune," while others, taking in hand
specially difficult services, like commandant Fischer who undertook
the destruction of Mandrin's band, and again, like the hero Chevert,
and the veteran Lückner, might have become lieutenant-generals. Rough
as these men were, they would have found, even in the lower ranks, if
not full employment for their superior faculties, at least sufficient
food for their strong and coarse appetites; they would have uttered
just the same oaths, at just as extravagant suppers, with mistresses
of just the same caliber.[16] Had their temperament, character and
genius been indomitable, had they reared and pranced to escape bridle
and harness and been driven like ordinary men, they need not have
broken out of the traces for all that; there were plenty of openings
and issues for them on either side of the highway on which others were
trotting along. Many families often contained, among numerous
children, some hot-headed, imaginative youth, some independent nature
rebellious in advance, in short, a refractory spirit, unwilling or
incapable of being disciplined; a regular life, mediocrity, even the
certainty of getting ahead, were distasteful to him; he would abandon
the hereditary homestead or purchased office to the docile elder
brother, son-in-law or nephew, by which the domain or the post
remained in the family; as for himself, tempted by illimitable
prospects, he would leave France and go abroad; Voltaire says[17] that
"Frenchmen were found everywhere," in Canada, in Louisiana, as
surgeons, fencing-masters, riding-masters, officers, engineers,
adventurers especially, and even filibusters, trappers and
backwoodsmen, the supplest, most sympathetic and boldest of colonizers
and civilizers, alone capable of bringing the natives under
assimilation by assimilating with them, by adopting their customs and
by marrying their women, mixing bloods, and forming new and
intermediary races, like Dumas de La Pailleterie, whose descendants
have furnished original and superior men for the past three
generations, and like the Canada half-breeds by which the aboriginal
race succeeds in transforming itself and in surviving. They were the
first explorers of the great lakes, the first to trace the Mississippi
to its mouth, and found colonial empires with Champlain and Lasalle in
North America and with Dupleix and La Bourdonnais in Hindustan. Such
was the outlet for daring, uncontrollable spirits, restive
temperaments under constraint and subject to the routine of an old
civilization, souls astray and unclassed from their birth, in which
the primitive instincts of the nomad and barbarian sprouted afresh, in
which insubordination was innate, and in which energy and capacity to
take the initiative remained intact. - Mirabeau, having compromised
his family by scandals, was on the point of being dispatched by his
father to the Dutch Indies, where deaths were common; it might happen
that he would be hanged or become governor of some large district in
Java or Sumatra, the venerated and adored sovereign of five hundred
thousand Malays, both ends being within the compass of his merits. Had
Danton been well advised, instead of borrowing the money with which to
buy an advocate's place in the Council at about seventy thousand
livres, which brought him only three cases in four years and obliged
him to hang on to the skirts of his father-in-law, he would have gone
to Pondicherry or to the palace of some indigenous rajah or king as
agent, councilor or companion of his pleasures; he might have become
prime-minister to Tippoo Sahib, or other potentate, lived in a palace,
kept a harem and had lacs of rupees; undoubtedly, he would have filled
his prisons and occasionally emptied them by a massacre, as at Paris
in September, but it would have been according to local custom, and
operating only on the lives of Sheikhs and Mahrattas. Bonaparte, after
the fall of his protectors, the two Robespierres, finding his career
arrested, wanted to enter the Sultan's service; accompanied by Junot,
Muiron, Marmont and other comrades, he could have carried to
Constantinople rarer commodities, much better compensated in the
Orient than in the Occident, namely military honor and administrative
talent; he would have dealt in these two products, as he did in Egypt,
at the right time and in the right place, at the highest price,
without our conscientious scruples and without our European
refinements of probity and humanity. No imagination can picture what
he would have become there: certainly some pasha, like Djezzar in
Syria, or a khedive like Mahomet-Ali, afterwards at Cairo; he already
saw himself in the light of a conqueror, like Ghengis-Khan,[18] a
founder like Alexander or Baber, a prophet like Mahomet; as he himself
declares, "one could work only on a grand scale in the Orient," and
there he would have worked on a grand scale; Europe, perhaps, would
have gained by it, and especially France.

III. Ambition and Selection.

The Revolution provides an internal outlet and an unlimited career. -
Effect of this. - Exigencies and pretensions of the modern man. -
Theoretical rule of selection among rivals. - Popular suffrage raised
to be lord and judge. - Consequence of its verdict. - Unworthiness of
its choice.

But the Revolution arrived and the ambitions which, under the ancient
Régime, found a field abroad or cooled down at home, arose on the
natal soil and suddenly expanded beyond all calculation. After 1789,
France resembles a hive in a state of excitement; in a few hours, in
the brief interval of an August morning, each insect puts forth two
huge wings, soars aloft and "all whirl together pell-mell;" many fall
to the ground half cut to pieces and begin to crawl upward as before;
others, with more strength or with better luck, ascend and glitter on
the highways of the atmosphere. - Every great highway and every other
road is open to everybody through the decrees of the Constituent-
Assembly, not only for the future, but even immediately. The sudden
dismissal of the entire ruling staff, executive, or consultative,
political, administrative, provincial, municipal, ecclesiastical,
educational, military, judicial and financial, summon to take office
all who covet it and who have a good opinion of themselves. All
previously existing conditions, birth, fortune, education, old family
and all apprenticeships, customs and ways which retard and limit
advancement, are abolished: There are no longer any guarantees or
sponsors; all Frenchmen are eligible to all employments; all grades of
the legal and social hierarchy are conferred by a more or less direct
election, a suffrage becoming more and more popular, by a mere
numerical majority. Consequently, in all branches of the government
under central or local authority and patronage, there is the
installation of a new staff of officials. The transposition which
everywhere substitutes the old inferior to the old superior, is
universal,[19] "lawyers for judges, bourgeois for statesmen, former
plebeians for former nobles, soldiers for officers, officers for
generals, curés for bishops, vicars for curés, monks for vicars,
stock-jobbers for financiers, self-taught persons for administrators,
journalists for publicists, rhetoricians for legislators, and the poor
for the rich." A sudden jump from the bottom to the top of the social
ladder by a few, from the lowest to the highest rung, from the rank of
sergeant to that of major-general, from the condition of a pettifogger
or starving newspaper-hack to the possession of supreme authority,
even to the effective exercise of omnipotence and dictatorship - such
is the capital, positive, striking work of the Revolution.

At the same time, and as an after-effect, a revolution is going on in
minds and the moral effect of the show is greater and more lasting
than the events themselves. The minds have been stirred to their very
depths; stagnant passions and slumbering pretensions are aroused. The
multitude of offices presented and expected vacancies "has excited the
thirst for power, stimulated self-esteem, and fired the hopes of men
the most inept. An fierce, gross presumption has freed the ignorant
and the foolish of any feeling of modesty or incompetence; they have
deemed themselves capable of everything because the law awards public
office simply to the able. Everybody had a perspective glimpse of
gratified ambition; the soldier dreamt only of displacing the officer,
the officer of becoming general, the clerk of supplanting the head
administrator, the lawyer of yesterday of the supreme court, the curé
of becoming bishop, the most frivolous littérateur of seating himself
on the legislative bench. Places and positions, vacant due to the
promotion of so many parvenus, provided in their turn a vast career to
the lower classes. Seeing a public functionary issue out of
nothingness, where is the shoeblack whose soul would not stir with
ambition?" - This new sentiment must be taken into account: for,
whether reasonable or not, it is going to last, maintain its energy,
stimulate men with extraordinary force[20] and become one of the great
incentives of will and action. Henceforth, government and
administration are to become difficult matters; the forms and plans of
the old social architecture are no longer applicable; like
construction is not possible with materials of a different kind,
whether with stable or unstable materials, with men who do not dream
of quitting their condition or with men who think of nothing but that.

In effect, whatever vacancy may occur, each aspirant thinks himself
fit for it, and only one of the aspirants can obtain it. Accordingly
some rule of preference must be adopted outside of the opinion that
each candidate entertains of himself. Accordingly, at a very early
date, one was established, and there could be no better one, namely,
that, among the competitors for the place, the most competent to fill
it should be chosen. Unfortunately, the judge, ordinary, extraordinary
and supreme, instituted to decide in this case, was the plurality of
male, adult Frenchmen, counted by heads, that is to say a collective
being in which the small intelligent, élite body is drowned in the
great rude mass; of all juries, the most incompetent, the easiest
duped and misled, the least able to comprehend the questions laid
before it and the consequences of its answer; the worst informed, the
most inattentive, the most blinded by preconceived sympathies or
antipathies, the most willingly absent, a mere flock of enlisted sheep
always robbed or cheated out of their vote, and whose verdict, forced
or simulated, depended on politicians beforehand, above and below,
through the clubs as well as through the revolutionary government, the
latter, consequently, maneuvering in such a way as to impose itself
along with their favorites on the choice of the French people. Between
1792 and 1799, the republican official staff just described is thus
obtained. - It is only in the army where the daily and keen sense of a
common physical and mortal danger ends in dictating the choice of the
best, and raises tried merit to the highest rank; and yet it must be
noted that Jacobin infatuation bore down as rigorously on the army as
elsewhere and on two occasions: at the outset through the election of
a superior officer conferred on subordinates, which handed rank over
to the noisy disputants and intemperate intriguers of the mess-room;
and again during the Reign of Terror, and even later,[21] in the
persecution or dismissal of so many patriotic and deserving officers,
which led Gouvion-Saint-Cyr and his comrades, through disgust, to
avoid or decline accepting high rank, in the scandalous promotion of
club brawlers and docile nullities, in the military dictatorship of
the civil proconsuls, in the supremacy conferred on Léchelle and
Rossignol, in the subordination forced on Kléber and Marceau, in the
absurd plans of a demagogue with huge epaulettes like Cartaux,[22] in
the grotesque orders of the day issued by a swaggering inebriate like
Henriot,[23] in the disgrace of Bonaparte, and in the detention of
Hoche. - In the civil order of things, it was worse. Not only was the
rule of regulating promotion by merit not recognized but it was
applied in an inverse sense. In the central government as in the local
government, and from top to bottom of the hierarchy, from the post of
minister of foreign affairs down to that of president of a petty
revolutionary committee, all offices were for the unworthy. Their
unfitness kept on increasing inasmuch as incessant weeding out worked
against them, the functionary, degraded by his work, growing worse
along with his function. - Thus the constitutional rights of merit and
capacity ended in the practical privilege of incapacity and demerit.
And in the allotment of grades and social advantages, distributive
justice had given way to distributive injustice, while practice,
contrary to theory, instituted permanently, on the one hand, the
exclusion or retirement of competent, instructed, expert, well-bred,
honorable and respected men and, on the other hand, brought forward
illiterate, inept and rude novices, coarse and vulgar brutes, common
blackguards, men used up or of tarnished reputations, rogues ready for
anything, fugitives from justice, in short the adventurers and
outcasts of every kind and degree.[24] The latter, owing their success
to perversion or lack of conscientiousness, derived their principal
title from their vigorous fists and a fixed determination to hold on
to their places as they had obtained them, that is to say by main
force and by the murder or exile of their rivals. - Evidently, the
staff of officials which the Declaration of Human Rights had promised
was not the staff on duty ten years later there was a lack of
experience.[25] In 1789, careers were open to every ambition; down to
1799, the rivalry of ambitions had simply produced a wild uproar and a
brutal conquest. The great modern difficulty remained: how to
discipline the competition and to find an impartial judge, an
undisputed arbitrator of the competition.

IV. Napoleon, Judge-Arbitrator-Ruler.

Napoleon as judge of competition. - Security of his seat. -
Independence of his decisions. - Suppression of former influences and
end of monarchical or democratic intrigues. - Other influences against
which he is on guard. - His favorite rule. - Estimate of candidates
according to the kind and amount of their useful labor. - His own
competency. - His perspicacity. - His vigilance. - Zeal and labor of
his functionaries. - Result of competition thus viewed and of
functions thus exercised. - Talents utilized and jealousies disarmed.

Behold him, at last, this judge-arbitrator. On the 8th November, 1799,
he appears and takes his seat, and that very evening he goes to work,
makes his selections among the competitors and gives them their
commissions. He is a military chieftain and has installed himself;
consequently he is not dependent on a parliamentary majority, and any
insurrection or gathering of a mob is at once rendered abortive by his
troops before it is born. Street sovereignty is at an end; Parisians
are long to remember the 13th of Vendémaire and the way General
Bonaparte shot them down on the steps of Saint-Roch. All his
precautions against them are taken the first day and against all
agitators whatever, against all opponents disposed to dispute his
jurisdiction. His arm-chair as first Consul and afterwards his throne
as Emperor are firmly fixed; nobody but himself can undermine them; he
is seated definitively and will stay there. Profound silence reigns in
the public crowd around him; some among them dare whisper, but his
police has its eye on them. Instead of conforming to opinion he rules
it, masters it and, if need be, he manufactures it. Alone by himself
from his seat on high, in perfect independence and security, he
announces the verdicts of distributive justice. Nevertheless he is on
his guard against the temptations and influences which have warped the
decisions of his predecessors; in his tribunal, the schemes and
intrigues which formerly obtained credit with the people, or with the
king, are no longer in vogue; from now on, the profession of courtier
or of demagogue is a poor one. - On the one hand, there is no success,
as formerly under the monarchy, through the attentions of the ante-
chamber, through elegant manners, delicate flattery, fashionable
drawing-rooms, or valets and women on an intimate footing; mistresses
here enjoy no credit and there are neither favorites nor the favored;
a valet is regarded as a useful implement; great personages are not
considered as extra-ornamental and human furniture for the palace. Not
one among them dare ask for a place for a protégé which he is
incapable of filling, an advancement which would derange the lists of
promotions, a pass over the heads of others; if they obtain any
favors, these are insignificant or political; the master grants them
as an after-thought, to rally somebody, or a party, to his side; they
personally, their ornamental culture, their high-bred tone, their wit,
their conversational powers, their smiles and bows - all this is lost
on him, or charged to account. He has no liking for their insinuating
and discreet ways;[26] he regards them as merely good domestics for
parade; all he esteems in them is their ceremonial significance, that
innate suppleness which permits them to be at once servile and
dignified, the hereditary tact which teaches them how to present a
letter, not from hand to hand, but on the rim of a hat, or on a silver
plate, and these faculties he estimates at their true worth. - On the
other hand, nobody succeeds, as lately under the Republic, through
tribunal or club verbosity, through appeals to principles, through
eloquent or declamatory tirades; "glittering generalities," hollow
abstractions and phrases made to produce an impression have no effect;
and what is better, political ideology, with a solicitor or pleader,
is a bad note. The positive, practical mind of the judge has taken in
at a glance and penetrated to the bottom of arguments, means and valid
pretensions; he submits impatiently to metaphysics and pettifoggery,
to the argumentative force and mendacity of words. - This goes so far
that he distrusts oratorical or literary talent; in any event when he
entrusts active positions or a part in public business then he takes
no note of it. According to him, "the men who write well and are
eloquent have no solidity of judgment; they are illogical and very
poor in discussion,"[27] they are mere artists like others, so many
word-musicians, a kind of special, narrow-minded instrument, some of
them good solo players, like Fontanes, and who the head of a State can
use, but only in official music for grand cantatas and the decoration
of his reign. Wit in itself, not alone the wit which gives birth to
brilliant expressions and which was considered a prime accomplishment
under the old regime, but general intelligence, has for him only a
semi-value.[28] "I am more brilliant[29], you may say? Eh, what do I
care for your intelligence? What I care for is the essence of the
matter. There is nobody so foolish that is not good for something -
there is no intelligence equal to everything." In fact, on bestowing
an office it is the function which delegates; the proper execution of
the function is the prime motive in determining his choice; the
candidate appointed is always the one who will best do the work
assigned him. No factitious, party popularity or unpopularity, no
superficial admiration or disparagement of a clique, of a salon, or of
a bureau, makes him swerve from his standard of preference.[30] He
values men according to the quality and quantity of their work,
according to their net returns, and he estimates them directly,
personally, with superior perspicacity and universal competency. He is
special in all branches of civil or military activity, and even in
technical detail; his memory for facts, actions, antecedence and
circumstances, is prodigious; his discernment, his critical analysis,
his calculating insight into the resources and shortcomings of a mind
or of a soul, his faculty for gauging men, is extraordinary; through
constant verifications and rectifications his internal repertory, his
biographical and moral dictionary, is kept daily posted; his attention
never flags; he works eighteen hours a day; his personal intervention
and his hand are visible even in the appointment of subordinates.
"Every man called to take part in affairs was selected by him;"[31] it
is through him that they retain their place; he controls their
promotion and by sponsors whom he knows. "A minister could not have
dismissed a functionary without consulting the emperor, while the
ministers could all change without bringing about two secondary
changes throughout the empire. A minister did not appoint even a
second-class clerk without presenting a list of several candidates to
the emperor and, opposite to it, the name of the person recommending
him." All, even at a distance, felt that the master's eyes were on
them. "I worked," says Beugnot,[32] "from night to morning, with
singular ardor; I astonished the natives of the country who did not
know that the emperor exercised over his servitors, however far from
him they might be, the miracle of the real presence. I thought I saw
him standing over me as I worked shut up in my cabinet." - "Under
him," writes Roederer, "there is no man of any merit who, as a reward
for long and difficult labor, does not feel himself better compensated
by a new task than by the most honorable leisure." Never did positions
less resemble sinecures. Never was the happiness of successful
candidates or the misery of unsuccessful candidates better justified.
Never the compliance, the difficulty, the risks of a required task
have been compensated more fairly by the enjoyment of the allocated
rewards nor moderated the bitterness of the frustrated
pretensions.[33] Never were public functions assigned or fulfilled in
a way to better satisfy the legitimate craving for advancement, the
dominant desire of democracy and of the century, and in a way to
better disarm the bad passions of democracy and of the century,
consisting of an envious leveling, anti-social rancor and the
inconsolable regrets of the man who has failed. Never did human
competition encounter a similar judge, so constant, so expert and so
justified. - He is himself conscious of the unique part he plays. His
own ambition, the highest and most insatiate of all, enables him to
comprehend the ambition of others; to place everywhere the man who
suits the post in the post which suits the man - this is what he has
done for himself and what he does for others. He knows that in this
lies his power, his deep-seated popularity, his social utility.

"Nobody," says Napoleon,[34] "is interested in overthrowing a
government in

which all the deserving are employed."

Then, again, comes his significant exclamation at the end, his summary
of modern society, a solemn grandiose figure of speech found in the
legendary souvenirs of a glorious antiquity, a classic reminiscence of
the noble Olympian games,

"Henceforth, all careers are open to talent!"

IV. The Struggle for Office and Title.

Competition and prizes. - Multitude of offices. - How their number is
increased by the extension of central patronage and of the French
territory. - Situation of a Frenchman abroad. - It gives him rank. -
Rapidity of promotion. - Constant elimination and multiplicity of
vacancies in the army. - Preliminary elimination in the civil service.
- Proscription of cultivated men and interruption of education during
the Revolution. - General or special instruction rare in 1800.- Small
number of competent candidates. - Easy promotion due to the lack of
competitors. - Importance and attraction the prizes offered. - The
Legion of Honor. - The imperial nobility. - Dotations and majorities.
- Emulation.

Let us now consider the career which he thus opens to them and the
prizes he offers. These prizes are in full view, ranged along each
racecourse, graduated according to distances and more and more
striking and magnificent. Every ambition is provided for, the highest
as well as the lowest, and these are countless; for they consist of
offices of every grade in the civil and military hierarchies of a
great centralized State whose intervention is universal, under a
government which systematically tolerates no authority or influence
outside of itself and which monopolizes every species of social
importance for its own functionaries.[35] - All these prizes, even the
smallest and most insignificant, are awarded by it. In the first
place, Napoleon has two or three times as many offices to bestow, on
the soil of old France alone, as the former kings; for, even in the
choice of their staff of officials, the latter were not always free;
in many places they did not have, or no longer had the right of
appointment. At one time, this right be longed from time immemorial to
provincial or municipal corporations, laic or ecclesiastic, to a
certain chapter, abbey or collegiate church, to a bishop in his
diocese, to the seignior in his seignory. At another time the king,
once possessing the right, had surrendered or alienated it, in whole
or in part through gratuitous favor and the concession of a
survivorship or for money and through the sale of an office; in brief,
his hands were tied fast by hereditary or acquired privileges There
are no privileges now to fetter the hands of the First Consul. The
entire civil organization dates from him. The whole body of officials
is thus of his own selection, and under him it is much more numerous
than that of the ancient Régime; for he has extended the attributions
of the State beyond all former bounds. Directly or indirectly, he
appoints by hundreds of thousands the mayors and councilors of
municipalities and the members of general councils, the entire staff
of the administration, of the finances, of the judicature, of the
clergy, of the University, of public works and of public charity.
Besides all this, myriads of ministerial and notarial officials
lawyers, ushers, auctioneers, and by way of surplus, or as a natural
result, the members of every great private association since no
collective enterprise, from the Bank of France and the press to stage
lines and tontines, may be established without his permission, nor
exist without his tolerance. Not counting the latter, and after
deducting likewise the military or active duty and the functionaries
who draw pay, the prefect from the earliest years report that, since
1789, the number of people "employed or under government pay" has more
than doubled: In Doubs, in the year IX, instead of 916 there are 1820;
in Meurthe in the year XIII, instead of 1828 there are 3091; in Ain,
in 1806 instead of 955 there are 1771[36]. As to the army, it has
tripled, and according to the First Consul's own calculations, instead
of 9,000 or 10,000 officers as in 1789, there are more than 20,000. -
These figures go on increasing on the old territory through the very
development of the new organization, through the enormous increase of
the army, through the re-establishment of religious worship, through
the installation of droits réunis, through the institution of the
University, owing to the increasing number of officials, curés and
assistant-priests, of professors and school-teachers, and of retired
and pensioned invalids.[37]

And these figures, which already swell of themselves, are to swell an
additional half through the extension of the ancient territory.
Instead of 86 departments with a population of 26 millions, France
ends in comprising 130 departments with 42 million inhabitants -
Belgium and Piedmont, then Hanover, Tuscany, Central Italy, Illyria,
Holland and the Hanseatic provinces, that is to say 44 departments and
16 millions of annexed Frenchmen;[38] affording another large outlet
for little and big ambitions. - Add still another, as a surplus and
not less extensive outlet, outside of France: for the subject princes
and the vassal kings, Eugène, Louis, Jerome, Murat, and Joseph, each
with their governments, import into their realms a more or less
numerous body of French officials, familiars, court dignitaries,
generals, ministers, administrators, even clerks and other
indispensable subalterns, if for no other purpose than to bring the
natives within the military and civil compartments of the new Régime
and teach them on the spot the conscription, the administration, the
civil code, and systems of accounts like those of Paris. Even in the
independent or allied States, in Prussia, in Poland, in the
confederation of the Rhine, there are, at intervals or permanently,
Frenchmen in position and in authority to command contingent forces,
to garrison fortresses, to receive supplies and secure the payment of
war contributions. Even with the corporal and custom-house inspector
on duty on coast at Dantzig and at Reggio, the sentiment of victorious
priority equals the possession of rank; in their eyes the natives of
the country are semi-barbarians or semi-savages, a backward or
prejudiced lot, not even knowing how to speak their language; they
feel themselves superior, as formerly the señor soldado of the
sixteenth century, or the civis romanus. Never since the great Spanish
monarchy and the Old Roman empire has a conquering State and
propagator of a new régime afforded its subjects such gratifications
of self-esteem, nor opened so vast a career to their ambitions.

For, having once adopted their career, they know better than the
Spaniards under Charles V. or the Romans under Augustus, how far they
can go and how fast they can get ahead. No obstacle impedes them;
nobody feels himself confined his post; each considers the one he
occupies as provisional, each takes it only to await a better one,
anticipating another at a very early date; he dashes onward, springs
aloft and occupies in advance the superior post which he means to
secure on the first vacancy, and, under this Régime, the vacancies are
numerous. - These vacancies, in the military service and in the grade
of officers, may be estimated at nearly four thousand per annum;[39]
after 1808 and 1809, but especially after the disaster of 1812 and
1813, places are no longer lacking but subjects fill them; Napoleon is
obliged to accept youths for officers as beardless as his conscripts,
eighteen-year-old apprentices who, after a year or six months in the
military academy, might finish their apprenticeship on the battle-
field, pupils taken from the philosophy or rhetoric classes, willing
children (de bonne volonté): On the 13th of December 1808, he draws 50
from his lycées, who don the gold-lace of under-officers at once; in
1809, he calls out 250, to serve in the depot battalions; in 1810, he
calls out 150 of the age of nineteen who "know the drill," and who are
to be sent on distant expeditions with the commission of second-
lieutenant; in 1811, 400 for the school of noncommissioned officers at
Fontainebleau, 20 for the Ile-de-Ré and 84 who are to be
quartermasters; and, in 1812, 112 more and so on. Naturally, thanks to
annually increasing gaps made by cannon and bayonet, the survivors in
this body of youth mount the faster; in 1813 and 1814, there are
colonels and lieutenant-colonels of the age of twenty-five.

In the civil service, if fewer are killed everybody is almost equally
over tasked. Under this reign one is soon used up, physically and
morally, even in pacific employments, and this also supplies
vacancies. Besides, in default of deaths, wounds and violent
elimination, there is another elimination, not less efficacious,
operating in this direction, and for a long time, in favor of men of
ability, preparing places for them and accelerating their advancement.
Napoleon accepts none but competent candidates; now, in 1800, there is
a dearth of acceptable candidates for places in the civil service and
not, as in 1789, or at the present time, a superabundance and even too
great a crowd. - In the military service especially, capacity is
innate; natural endowments, courage, coolness, quick perception,
physical activity, moral ascendancy, topographical imagination form
its principal elements; men just able to read, write and cipher
became, in three or four years, during the Revolution, admirable
officers and conquering generals. - It is not the same in relation to
civil capacity; this requires long and continuous study. To become a
priest, magistrate, engineer, professor, prefect or school-teacher,
one must have studied theology or law, mathematics or Latin,
administration or the finances. If not, the functionary is not
qualified to serve: he must, at the very least, know how to spell, be
able to write French, examine a law-case, draw up a report, keep
accounts, and if needs be, comprehend a plan, make an estimate and
read off a map. Men of this stamp are rare at the beginning of the
Consulate. As notables,[40] the Revolution mowed them down first.
Among all their sons and so many well-bred youth who have become
soldiers through patriotism, or who have left their families to
prevent these from becoming suspect, one half repose on the
battlefield or have left the hospital only for the cemetery; "the
muscadin[41] died from the first campaign." In any event, for them and
their younger brothers, for the children beginning to learn Latin and
mathematics, for all who hoped to pursue liberal professions, for the
entire generation about to receive either a superior, a common, or
even a primary instruction, and hence to furnish brains prepared for
intellectual work, there was a lack of this for ten years. Not only
were the endowments which provided for instruction confiscated but the
educational staff, nearly all ecclesiastic, was one of the most
proscribed among those proscribed. Whilst military requisition and the
closing of the schools suppressed the pupils, massacres, banishment,
imprisonment, destitution and the scaffold suppressed the teachers.
Whilst the ruin of universities and colleges did away with theoretical
apprenticeship, the ruin of manufactures and of trade abolished
practical apprenticeship. Through the long interruption of all
studies, general instruction as well as special competency became rare
product in the market. - Hence it is that, in 1800, and during the
three or four following years, whoever brought to market either one
the other of these commodities was certain of a quick sale;[42] the
new government needed them more than anybody. The moment the seller
made up his mind, he was bought, and, whatever he may be, a former
Jacobin or a former émigré; he is employed. If he brings both
commodities and is zealous, he is promptly promoted; if, on trial, he
is found of superior capacity, he will, like Mollien, Gaudin,
Tronchet, Pasquier and Molé, attain to the highest posts, for he finds
scarcely any competitors. These he would have had had things followed
their usual course; it is the Revolution which has cleared the ground
around him; without that the road would have been obstructed;
competent candidates would have swarmed. Reckon, if possible, how many
men of talent who were destroyed, royalists, monarchists, feuillants,
Girondists and even Jacobins. They were the élite of the noblesse, of
the clergy, of the bourgeoisie, of the youth and those of riper age.
Thus rid of their most formidable rivals the survivors pursue their
way at top speed; the guillotine has wrought for them in advance; it
has effected openings in their own ranks, made by bullets in every
battle in the ranks of the army, and, in the civil hierarchy as in the
military hierarchy, merit, if demonstrated by services, or not
arrested by death, reaches the highest summit in very few years.

The prizes offered on these summits are splendid; no attraction is
lacking. The great trainer who displays them has omitted none of the
seductions which excite and stimulate an ordinary mind. He has
associated with the positive values of power and wealth every value
incident to imagination and opinion; hence his institution of
decorations and the Legion of Honor.[43]

"They call it a toy,"[44] said he, " but men are led by toys. . .
Frenchmen are not changed by ten years of revolution. . . . See how
the people prostrate themselves before foreign decorations: they have
been surprised by them and accordingly do not fail to wear them. . . .
The French cherish but one sentiment, honor: that sentiment, then,
requires nourishing - they must have honors."

A very few are satisfied with their own achievements; ordinary men
are not even content with the approbation they perceive in the eyes of
others: it is too intermittent, too reserved, too mute; they need fame
that is brilliant and noisy; they want to hear the constant hum of
admiration and respect whenever they appear or whenever their name is
mentioned. Even this does not suffice; they are unwilling that their
merit should rest in men's minds in the vague state of undefined
greatness, but that it should be publicly estimated, have its current
value, enjoy undisputed and measured rank on the scale above all other
lesser merits. - The new institution affords complete satisfaction to

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