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The Modern Regime, Volume 2 The Origins of Contemporary France, Volume 6 by Hippolyte A. Taine

Part 4 out of 6

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Regulations, stricter and stricter, tighten the cord around his neck
and, in 1811, the rigid articles of the last decree draw so tight as
to insure certain strangling at short date. Napoleon counts on
that.[13] For his lycées, especially at the start, have not
succeeded; they have failed to obtain the confidence of families;[14]
the discipline is too military, the education is not sufficiently
paternal, the principals and professors are only indifferent
functionaries, more or less egoist or worldly. Only former subaltern
officers, rude and foul-mouthed, serve as superintendents and
assistant-teachers. The holders of State scholarships bring with them
"habits fashioned out of a bad education," or by the ignorance of
almost no education at all,[15] so that "for a child that is well born
and well brought up," their companionship is lopsided and their
contact as harmful as it is repulsive. Consequently, the lycées
during the first years,[16] solely filled with the few holders of
scholarships, remain deserted or scarcely occupied, whilst "the élite
of the young crowd into more or less expensive private schools."

This élite of which the University is thus robbed must be got back.
Since the young do not attend the lycée because they like it, they
must come through necessity; to this end, other issues are rendered
difficult and several are entirely barred; and better still, all those
that are tolerated are made to converge to one sole central outlet, a
university establishment, in such a way that the director of each
private school, changed from a rival into a purveyor, serves the
university instead of injuring it and gives it pupils instead of
taking them away. In the first place, his high standard of
instruction is limited;[17] even in the country and in the towns that
have neither lycée nor college, he must teach nothing above a fixed
degree; if he is the principal of an institution, this degree must not
go beyond the class of the humanities; he must leave to the faculties
of the State their domain intact, differential calculus, astronomy,
geology, natural history and superior literature. If he is the master
of a boarding-school, this degree must not extend beyond grammar
classes, nor the first elements of geometry and arithmetic; he must
leave to State lycées and colleges their domain intact, the humanities
properly so called, superior lectures and means of secondary
instruction. - In the second place, in the towns possessing a lycée or
college, he must teach at home only what the University leaves
untaught;[18] he is not deprived, indeed, of the younger boys; he may
still instruct and keep them; but he must conduct all his pupils over
ten years of age to the college or lycée, where they will regularly
follow the classes as day-scholars. Consequently, daily and twice a
day, he marches them to and fro between his house and the university
establishment; before going, in the intermission, and after the class
is dismissed he examines them in the lesson they have received out of
his house; apart from that, he lodges and feeds them, his office being
reduced to this. He is nothing beyond a watched and serviceable
auxiliary, a subaltern, a University tutor and "coach," a sort of
unpaid, or rather paying, schoolmaster and innkeeper in its employ.

All this does not yet suffice. Not only does the State recruit its
day-scholars in his establishment but it takes from him his boarding-
scholars. "On and after the first of November 1812,[19] the heads of
institutions and the masters of boarding-schools shall receive no
resident pupils in their houses above the age of nine years, until the
lycée or college, established in the same town or place where there is
a lycée, shall have as many boarders as it can take." This complement
shall be 300 boarders per lycée; there are to be "80 lycées in full
operation "during the year 1812, and 100 in the course of the year
1813, so that, at this last date, the total of the complement
demanded, without counting that of the colleges, amounts to 30,000
boarding-scholars. Such is the enormous levy of the State on the crop
of boarding-school pupils. It evidently seizes the entire crop in
advance; private establishments, after it, can only glean, and through
tolerance. In reality, the decree forbids them to receive boarding-
scholars; henceforth, the University will have the monopoly of them.

The proceedings against the small seminaries, more energetic
competitors, are still more vigorous. "There shall be but one
secondary ecclesiastical school in each department; the Grand-Master
will designate those that are to be maintained; the others are to be
closed. None of them shall be in the country. All those not situated
in a town provided with a lycée or with a college shall be closed.
All the buildings and furniture belonging to the ecclesiastic schools
not retained shall be seized and confiscated for the benefit of the
University. "In all places where ecclesiastical schools exist, the
pupils of these schools shall be taken to the lycée or college and
join its classes." Finally, "all these schools shall be under the
control of the University; they must be organized only by her; their
prospectus and their regulations must be drawn up by the council of
the University at the suggestion of the Grand Master. The teaching
must be done only by members of the University at the disposition of
the Grand Master." In like manner, in the lay schools, at Sainte-Barbe
for example,[20] every professor, private tutor, or even common
superintendent, must be provided with a special authorization by the
University. Staff and discipline, the spirit and matter of the
teaching, every detail of study and recreation,[21] all are imposed,
conducted and restrained in these so-called free establishments;
whatever they may be, ecclesiastic or secular, not only does the
University surround and hamper them, but again it absorbs and
assimilates them; it does not even leave them any external distinctive
appearance. It is true that, in the small seminaries, the exercises
begin at the ringing of a bell, and the pupils wear an ecclesiastic
dress; but the priest's gown, adopted by the State that adopts the
Church, is still a State uniform. In the other private
establishments, the uniform is that which it imposes, the lay uniform,
belonging to colleges and lycées "under penalty of being closed ";
while, in addition, there is the drum, the demeanor, the habits, ways
and regularity of the barracks. All initiative, all invention, all
diversity, every professional or local adaptation is abolished.[22]
M. de Lanneau thus wrote[23]: "I am nothing but a sergeant-major of
languid and mangled classes . . . to the tap of a drum and under
military colors."

Against the encroachments of this institutional university there is no
longer neither public nor private shelter, since even domestic
education at home, is not respected. In 1808,[24] "among the old and
wealthy families which are not in the system," Napoleon selects ten
from each department and fifty at Paris of which the sons from sixteen
to eighteen must be compelled to go to Saint-Cyr and, on leaving it,
into the army as second lieutenants.[25] In 1813, he adds 10,000 more
of them, many of whom are the sons of Conventionalists or Vendéans,
who, under the title of guards of honor, are to form a corps apart and
who are at once trained in the barracks. All the more necessary is
the subjection to this Napoleonic education of the sons of important
and refractory families, everywhere numerous in the annexed countries.
Already in 1802, Fourcroy had explained in a report to the
legislative corps the political and social utility of the future
University.[26] Napoleon, at his discretion, may recruit and select
scholars among his recent subjects; only, it is not in a lycée that he
places them, but in a still more military school, at La Fléche, of
which the pupils are all sons of officers and, so to say, children of
the army. Towards the end of 1812, he orders the Roman prince
Patrizzi to send his two sons to this school, one seventeen years of
age and the other thirteen[27]; and, to be sure of them, he has them
taken from their home and brought there by gendarmes. Along with
these, 90 other Italians of high rank are counted at La Fléche, the
Dorias, the Paliavicinis, the Alfieris, with 120 young men of the
Illyrian provinces, others again furnished by the countries of the
Rhine confederation, in all 360 inmates at 800 per annum. The parents
might often accompany or follow their children and establish
themselves within reach of them. This privilege was not granted to
Prince Patrizzi; he was stopped on the road at Marseilles and kept
there. - In this way, through the skilful combination of legislative
prescriptions with arbitrary appointments, Napoleon becomes in fact,
directly or indirectly, the sole head-schoolmaster of all Frenchmen
old or newcomers, the unique and universal educator in his empire.

III. Napoleon's machinery.

His machinery. - The educating body. - How its member s come to
realize their union. - Hierarchy of rank. - How ambition and amour-
propre are gratified. - The monastic principle of celibacy. - The
monastic and military principle of obedience. - Obligations contracted
and discipline enforced. - The École Normale and recruits for the
future university.

To effect this purpose, he requires a good instrument, some great
human machine which designed, put together and set up by himself,
henceforth works alone and of its own accord, without deviating or
breaking down, conformably to his instructions and always under his
eye, but without the necessity of his lending a hand and personally
interfering in its predetermined and calculated movement. The finest
engines of this sort are the religious orders, masterpieces of the
Catholic, Roman and governmental mind, all managed from above
according to fixed rules in view of a definite object, so many kinds
of intelligent automatons, alone capable of working indefinitely
without loss of energy, with persistency, uniformity and precision, at
the minimum of cost and the maximum of effect, and this through the
simple play of their internal mechanism which, fully regulated
beforehand, adapts them completely and ready-made to this special
service, to the social operations which a recognized authority and a
superior intelligence have assigned to them as their function. -
Nothing could be better suited to the social instinct of Napoleon, to
his imagination, his taste, his political policy and his plans, and on
this point he loftily proclaims his preferences.

"I know," says he to the Council of State, "that the Jesuits, as
regards instruction, have left a very great void. I do not want to
restore them, nor any other body that has its sovereign at Rome."[28]

Nevertheless, one is necessary. "As for myself, I would rather confide
public education to a religious order than leave it as it is to-day,"
which means free and abandoned to private individuals. "But I want
neither one nor the other." Two conditions are requisite for the new
establishment. First of all,

"I want a corporation because a corporation never dies";

it alone, through its perpetuity, maintains teaching in the way marked
out for it, brings up "according to fixed principles" successive
generations, thus assuring the stability of the political State, and
"inspires youth with a spirit and opinions in conformity with the new
laws of the empire." And this corporation must be secular. Its members
are to be State and not Church "Jesuits";[29] they must belong to the
Emperor and not to the Pope, and will form, in the hands of the
government, a civil militia composed of "ten thousand persons,"
administrators and professors of every degree, comprehending
schoolmasters, an organized, coherent and lasting militia

As it must be secular, there must be no hold on it through dogma or
faith, paradise or hell, no spiritual incitements; consequently,
temporal means are to be employed, not less effective, when one knows
how to manage them, - self-esteem, pride, (amour propre), competition,
imagination, ambition, magnificent hopes and vague dreams of unlimited
promotion, in short, the means and motives already maintaining the
temper and zeal of the army. "The educational corps must copy the
classification of military grades; "an order of promotion," a
hierarchy of places is to be instituted; no one will attain superior
rank without having passed through the inferior; "no one can become a
principal without having been a teacher, nor professor in the higher
classes without having taught in the lower ones." - And, on the other
hand, the highest places will be within reach of all; "the young, who
devoted themselves to teaching, will enjoy the perspective of rising
from one grade to another, up to the highest dignities of the State."
Authority, importance, titles, large salaries, pre-eminence,
precedence, - these are to exist in the University as in other public
careers and furnish the wherewithal for the most magnificent
dreams.[30] "The feet of this great body[31] will be on the college
benches and its head in the senate." Its chief, the Grand-Master,
unique of his species, less restricted, with freer hands than the
ministers themselves, is to be one of the principal personages of the
empire; his greatness will exalt the condition and feeling of his
subordinates. In the provinces, on every festive occasion or at every
public ceremony, people will take pride in seeing their rector or
principal in official costume seated alongside of the general or
prefect in full uniform.[32]

The consideration awarded to their chief will reflect on them; they
will enjoy it along with him; they will say to themselves that they
too, like him and those under him, all together, form an élite; by
degrees, they will feel that they are all one body; they will acquire
the spirit of the association and attach themselves to the University,
the same as a soldier to his regiment or like a monk to his brethren
in a monastery.

Thus, as in a monastic order, one must join the University by "going
into the orders."[33] - "I want," says Napoleon, "some solemnity
attached to this act. My purpose is that the members of the corps of
instruction should contract, not as formerly, a religious engagement,
but a civil engagement before a notary, or before the justice of the
peace, or prefect, or other (officer). . . . They will espouse
education the same as their forerunners espoused the Church, with this
difference, that the marriage will not be as sacred, as
indissoluble.[34]. . . They will engage themselves for three, six, or
nine years, and not resign without giving notice a certain number of
years beforehand." To heighten the resemblance, "the principle of
celibacy must be established, in this sense, that a man consecrated to
teaching shall not marry until after having passed through the first
stages of his career; "for example, "the schoolmasters shall not marry
before the age of twenty-five or thirty years, after having obtained a
salary of three or four thousand francs and economized something."
But, at bottom, marriage, a family, private life, all natural and
normal matters in the great world of society, are causes of trouble
and weakness in a corps where individuals, to be good organs, must
give themselves up wholly and without reserve. "In future,[35] not
only must schoolmasters, but, again, the principals and censors of the
lycées, and the principals and rulers of the colleges, be restricted
to celibacy and a life in common." - The last complementary and
significant trait, which gives to the secular institution the aspect
of a convent, is this: "No woman shall have a lodging in, or be
admitted into, the lycées and colleges."

Now, let us add to the monastic principle of celibacy the monastic and
military principle of obedience; the latter, in Napoleon's eyes, is
fundamental and the basis of the others; this principle being
accepted, a veritable corporation exists; members are ruled by one
head and command becomes effective.[36] "There will be," says
Napoleon, "a corps of instructors, if all the principals, censors and
professors have one or several chiefs, the same as the Jesuits had
their general and their provincial," like the soldiers of a regiment
with their colonel and captain. The indispensable link is found;
individuals, in this way, keep together, for they are held by
authorities, under one regulation. As with a volunteer in a regiment,
or a monk who enters a convent, the members of the University will
accept its total régime in advance, present and future, wholly and in
detail, and will subject themselves under oath. "They are to take an
engagement[37] to faithfully observe the statutes and regulations of
the University. They must promise obedience to the Grand-Master in
everything ordered by him for the service of the Emperor, and for the
advantage of education. They must engage not to quit the educational
corps and abandon their functions before having obtained the Grand-
Master's consent. They are to accept no other public or private
salaried function without the authentic permission of the Grand-
Master. They are bound to give notice to the Grand-Master and his
officers of whatever comes to their knowledge that is opposed to the
doctrine and principles of the educational corps in the establishments
for public instruction." There are many other obligations, indefinite
or precise,[38] of which the sanction is not only moral, but, again,
legal, all notable and lasting, an entire surrender of the person who
suffers more or less profoundly at having accepted them, and whose
compulsory resignation must be assured by the fear of punishment.
"Care must be taken[39] to insure severe discipline everywhere: the
professors themselves are to be subject in certain cases to the
penalty of arrest; they will lose no more consideration on this
account than the colonels who are punished in the same manner."[40] It
is the least of all penalties; there are others of greater and greater
gravity,[41] "the reprimand in presence of an academical board,
censure in presence of the University board, transfer to an inferior
office, suspension with or without entire or partial deprivation of
salary, half-pay or put on the retired list, or stricken off the
University roll," and, in the latter case, "rendered incapable of
obtaining employment in any other public administration." - "Every
member of the University[42] who shall fail to conform to the
subordination established by the statutes and regulations, or in
respect due to superiors, shall be reprimanded, censured or suspended
from his functions according to the gravity of the case." In no case
may he withdraw of his own accord, resign at will, and voluntarily
return to private life; he is bound to obtain beforehand the Grand-
Master's assent; and, if the latter refuses this, he must renew his
application three times, every two months, with the formalities, the
delays and the importunacy of a long procedure; failing in which, he
is not only stricken from the rolls, but again "condemned to a
confinement proportioned to the gravity of the circumstances," and
which may last a year.

A system of things ending in a prison is not attractive, and is
established only after great resistance. "We were under the
necessity," says the superior council,[43] "of taking candidates as
they could be found, differing infinitely in methods, principles and
sentiments, accustomed to almost unlimited pardon or, at least, to
being governed by the caprices of parents and nearly all disliking the
régime attempted to be enforced on them." Moreover, through this
intervention of the State, "the local authorities find one of their
most cherished prerogatives wrested from them." In sum, "the masters
detested the new duties imposed on them; the administrators and
bishops protested against the appointments not made at their
suggestion; fathers of families complained of the new taxes they had
to pay. It is said that the University is known only by its imposts
and by its forced regulations; again, in 1811, most of its masters are
incompetent, or intractable, and of a bad spirit. - There is still
another reason for tightening the cord that binds them into a
corporation. "The absolute subordination of every individual belonging
to the University is its first necessity; without discipline and
without obedience, no University could exist. This obedience must be
prompt, and, in grave cases, where recourse must be had to the
authority of the government, obedience must always be provisional."
But, on this incurably refractory staff, pressure is not enough; it
has grown old and hardened; the true remedy, therefore, consists in
replacing it with a younger one, more manageable, expressly shaped and
wrought out in a special school, which will be for the University what
Fontainebleau is for the army, what the grand seminaries are for the
clergy, a nursery of subjects carefully selected and fashioned

Such is the object of the "École Normale."[44] Young students enter it
at the age of seventeen and bind themselves to remain in the
University at least ten years.[45] Young students enter it at the age
of seventeen (for a period of 3 years) and bind themselves afterwards
to remain in the University at least ten years. It is a boarding-
school and they are obliged to live in common: "individual exits are
not allowed," while "the exits in common . . . in uniform . . . can be
made only under the direction and conduct of superintendent masters. .
. . These superintendents inspect the pupils during their studies and
recreations, on rising and on going to bed and during the night. . .
No pupil is allowed to pass the hours set aside for recreation in his
own room without permission of the superintendent. No pupil is allowed
to enter the hall of another division without the permission of two
superintendents. . . . The director of studies must examine the books
of the pupils whenever he deems it necessary, and as often as once a
month." Every hour of the day has its prescribed task; all exercises,
including religious observances, are prescribed, each in time and
place, with a detail and meticulousness, as if purposely to close all
possible issues to personal initiation and everywhere substitute
mechanical uniformity for individual diversities. "The principal
duties of the pupils are respect for religion, attachment to the
sovereign and the government, steady application, constant regularity,
docility and submission to superiors; whoever fails in these duties is
punished according to the gravity of the offense."[46] - In
1812,[47] the Normal School is still a small one, scarcely housed,
lodged in the upper stories of the lycée Louis le Grand, and composed
of forty pupils and four masters. But Napoleon has its eyes on it and
is kept informed of what goes on in it. He does not approve of the
comments on the "Dialogue de Sylla et d'Eucrate," by Montesquieu, on
the "Éloge de Marc Aurèle," by Thomas, on the "Annales" of Tacitus:
"Let the young read Caesar's commentaries. . . Corneille, Bossuet, are
the masters worth having; these, under the full sail of obedience,
enter into the established order of things of their time; they
strengthen it, they illustrate it," they are the literary coadjutors
of public authority. Let the spirit of the Normal School conform to
that of these great men. The University establishment is the
original, central workshop which forges, finishes and supplies the
finest pieces, the best wheels. Just now the workshop is incomplete,
poorly fitted out, poorly directed and still rudimentary; but it is to
be enlarged and completed and made to turn out more and better work.
For the time being, it produces only what is needed to fill the annual
vacancies in the lycées and in the colleges. Nevertheless, the first
decree states that it is "intended to receive as many as three hundred
youths."[48] The production of this number will fill all vacancies,
however great they may be, and fill them with products of superior and
authentic quality. These human products thus manufactured by the
State in its own shop, these school instruments which the State stamps
with its own mark, the State naturally prefers. It imposes them on its
various branches; it puts them by order into its lycées and colleges;
at last, it accepts no others; not only does it confer on itself the
monopoly of teaching, but again the preparation of the masters who
teach. In 1813,[49] a circular announces that "the number of places
that chance to fall vacant from year to year, in the various
University establishments, sensibly diminishes according as the
organization of the teaching body becomes more complete and regular in
its operation, as order and discipline are established, and as
education becomes graduated and proportionate to diverse localities.
The moment has thus arrived for declaring that the Normal School is
henceforth the only road by which to enter upon the career of public
instruction; it will suffice for all the needs of the service."

VI. Objects and sentiments.

Object of the educational corps and adaptation of youth to the
established order of things. - Sentiments required of children and
adults. - Passive acceptance of these rules. - Extent and details of
school regulations. - Emulation and the desire to be at the head. -
Constant competition and annual distribution of prizes.

What is the object of this service? - Previous to the Revolution, when
directed by, or under the supervision of, the Church, its great object
was the maintenance and strengthening of the faith of the young.
Successor of the old kings, the new ruler underlines[50] among "the
bases of education," "the precepts of the Catholic religion," and this
phrase he writes himself with a marked intention; when first drawn up,
the Council of State had written the Christian religion; Napoleon
himself, in the definitive and public decree, substitutes the
narrowest term for the broadest.[51] In this particular, he is
politic, taking one step more on the road on which he has entered
through the Concordat, desiring to conciliate Rome and the French
clergy by seeming to give religion the highest place. - But it is only
a place for show, similar to that which he assigns to ecclesiastical
dignitaries in public ceremonies and on the roll of precedence. He
does not concern himself with reanimating or even preserving earnest
belief: far from that:

"it should be so arranged," he says,[52] " that young people may be
neither too bigoted nor too incredulous: they should be adapted to the
state of the nation and of society."

All that can be demanded of them is external deference, personal
attendance on the ceremonies of worship, a brief prayer in Latin
muttered in haste at the beginning and end of each lesson,[53] in
short, acts like those of raising one's hat or other public marks of
respect, such as the official attitudes imposed by a government,
author of the Concordat, on its military and civil staff. They
likewise, the lyceans and the collegians, are to belong to it and do
already, Napoleon thus forming his adult staff out of his juvenile

In fact, it is for himself that he works, for himself alone, and not
at all for the Church whose ascendancy would prejudice his own; much
better, in private conversation, he declares that he had wished to
supplant it: his object in forming the University is first and
especially "to take education out of the hands of the priests.[54]
They consider this world only as a vehicle for transportation to the
other," and Napoleon wants "the vehicle filled with good soldiers for
his armies," good functionaries for his administrations, and good,
zealous subjects for his service. - And, thereupon, in the decree
which organizes the University, and following after this phrase
written for effect, he states the real and fundamental truth.

"All the schools belonging to the University shall take for the basis
of their teaching loyalty to the Emperor, to the imperial monarchy to
which the happiness of the people is confided and to the Napoleonic
dynasty which preserves the unity of France and of all liberal ideas
proclaimed by the Constitutions."

In other terms, the object is to plant civil faith in the breasts of
children, boys and young men, to make them believe in the beauty,
goodness and excellence of the established order of things, to
predispose their minds and hearts in favor of the system, to adapt
them to this system,[55] to the concentration of authority and to the
centralization of services, to uniformity and to "falling into line"
(encadrement), to equality in obeying, to competition, to enthusiasm,
in short, to the spirit of the reign, to the combinations of the
comprehensive and calculating mind which, claiming for itself and
appropriating for its own use the entire field of human action, sets
up its sign-posts everywhere, its barriers, its rectilinear
compartments, lays out and arranges its racecourses, brings together
and introduces the runners, urges them on, stimulates them at each
stage, reduces their soul to the fixed determination of getting ahead
fast and far, leaving to the individual but one motive for living,
that of the desire to figure in the foremost rank in the career where,
now by choice and now through force, he finds himself enclosed and

For this purpose, two sentiments are essential with adults and
therefore with children:

The first is the passive acceptance of a prescribed regulation, and
nowhere does a rule applied from above bind and direct the whole life
by such precise and multiplied injunctions as under the University
régime. School life is circumscribed and marked out according to a
rigid, unique system, the same for all the colleges and lycées of the
Empire, according to an imperative and detailed plan which foresees
and prescribes everything even to the minutest point, labor and rest
of mind and of body, material and method of instruction, class-books,
passages to translate or to recite, a list of fifteen hundred volumes
for each library with a prohibition against introducing another volume
into it without the Grand-Master's permission, hours, duration,
application and sessions of classes, of studies, of recreations and of
promenades causing the premeditated stifling of native curiosity, of
spontaneous inquiry, of inventive and personal originality, both with
the masters and still more, with the scholars. This to such an extent
that one day, under the second Empire, a minister, drawing out his
watch, could exclaim with satisfaction,

"At this very time, in such a class, all the scholars of the Empire
are studying a certain page in Virgil."

Well -informed, judicious, impartial and even kindly-disposed
foreigners,[57] on seeing this mechanism which everywhere substitutes
for the initiative from below the compression and impetus from above,
are very much surprised. "The law means that the young shall never for
one moment be left to themselves; the children are under their
masters' eyes all day" and all night. Every step outside of the
regulations is a false one and always arrested by the ever-present
authority. And, in cases of infraction, punishments are severe;
"according to the gravity of the case,[58] the pupils will be punished
by confinement from three days to three months in the lycée or
college, in some place assigned to that purpose; if fathers, mothers
or guardians object to these measures, the pupil must be sent home and
can no longer enter any other college or lycée belonging to the
university, which, as an effect of university monopoly, thereafter
deprives him of instruction, unless his parents are wealthy enough to
employ a professor at home. "Everything that can be effected by rigid
discipline is thus obtained[59] and better, perhaps, in France than in
any other country," for if, on leaving the lycée, young people have
lost a will of their own, they have acquired "a love of and habits of
subordination and punctuality" which are lacking elsewhere.

Meanwhile, on this narrow and strictly defined road, whilst the
regulation supports them, emulation pushes them on. In this respect,
the new university corps, which, according to Napoleon himself, must
be a company of "lay Jesuits," resumes to its advantage the double
process which its forerunners, the former Jesuits, had so well
employed in education. On the one hand, constant direction and
incessant watchfulness; on the other hand, the appeal to amour-propre
and to the excitements of parades before the public. If the pupil
works hard, it is not for the purpose of learning and knowing, but to
be the first in his class; the object is not to develop in him the
need of truthfulness and the love of knowledge, but his memory, taste
and literary talent; at best, the logical faculty of arrangement and
deduction, but especially the desire to surpass his rivals, to
distinguish himself, to shine, at first in the little public of his
companions, and next, at the end of the year, before the great public
of grown-up men. Hence, the weekly compositions, the register of
ranks and names, every place being numbered and proclaimed; hence,
those annual and solemn awards of prizes in each lycée and at the
grand competition of all lycées, along with the pomp, music,
decoration, speeches and attendance of distinguished personages. The
German observer testifies to the powerful effect of a ceremony of this

"One might think one's self at the play, so theatrical was it;"

and he notices the oratorical tone of the speakers, "the fire of their
declamation," the communication of emotion, the applause of the
public, the prolonged shouts, the ardent expression of the pupils
obtaining the prizes, their sparkling eyes, their blushes, the joy and
the tears of the parents. Undoubtedly, the system has its defects;
very few of the pupils can expect to obtain the first place; others
lack the spur and are moreover neglected by the master. But the élite
make extraordinary efforts and, with this, there is success. "During
the war times," says again another German, "I lodged a good many
French officers who knew one half of Virgil and Horace by heart."
Similarly, in mathematics, young people of eighteen, pupils of the
Polytechnic School, understand very well the differential and integral
calculus, and, according to the testimony of an Englishman,[61] "they
know it better than many of the English professors."

V. Military preparation and the cult of the Emperor.

This general preparation is specified and directed by Napoleon as a
policy, and, as he specially needs soldiers, the school, in his hands,
becomes the vestibule of the barracks. Right away the institution
received a military turn and spirit, and this form, which is essential
to him, becomes more and more restricted. In 1805, during four
months,[62] Fourcroy, ordered by the Emperor, visits the new lycées
"with an inspector of reviews and a captain or adjutant-major, who
everywhere gives instruction in drill and discipline." The young have
been already broke in; "almost everywhere," he says on his return, "I
saw young people without a murmur or reflection obey even younger and
weaker corporals and sergeants who had been raised to a merited rank
through their good behavior and progress. He himself, although a
liberal, finds reasons which justify to the legislative body this
unpopular practice;[63] he replies to the objections and alarm of the
parents "that it is favorable to order, without which there are no
good studies," and moreover " it accustoms the pupils to carrying and
using arms, which shortens their work and accelerates their promotion
on being summoned by the conscription to the service of the State."
The tap of the drum, the attitude in presenting arms, marching at
command, uniform, gold lace, and all that, in 1811, becomes
obligatory, not only for the lycées and colleges, but again, and under
the penalty of being closed, for private institutions.[64] At the end
of the Empire, there were in the departments which composed old France
76,000 scholars studying under this system of stimulation and
constraint. "Our masters," as a former pupil is to say later on,
"resembled captain-instructors, our study-rooms mess - rooms, our
recreations drills, and our examinations reviews."[65] The whole
tendency of the school inclines it towards the military and merges
therein on the studies being completed - sometimes, even, it flows
into it before the term is over. After 1806,[66] the anticipated
conscriptions take youths from the benches of the philosophy and
rhetoric classes. After 1808, ministerial circulars[67] demand of the
lycées boys (des enfants de bonne volonté), scholars of eighteen and
nineteen who "know how to manœuvre," so that they may at once be made
under-officers or second-lieutenants; and these the lycées furnish
without any difficulty by hundreds. In this way, the beardless
volunteer entering upon the career one or two years sooner, but
gaining by this one or two grades in rank. - "Thus," says a
principal[68] of one of the colleges, "the brain of the French boy is
full of the soldier. As far as knowledge goes there is but little
hope of it, at least under existing circumstances. In the schools,
says another witness of the reign,[69] "the young refuse to learn
anything but mathematics and a knowledge of arms. I can recall many
examples of young lads of ten or twelve years who daily entreated
their father and mother to let them go with Napoleon." - In those
days, the military profession is evidently the first of all, almost
the only one. Every civilian is a pékin, that is to say an inferior,
and is treated as such.[70] At the door of the theatre, the officer
breaks the line of those who are waiting to get their tickets and, as
a right, takes one under the nose of those who came before him; they
let him pass, go in, and they wait. In the café, where the newspapers
are read in common, he lays hold of them as if through a requisition
and uses them as he pleases in the face of the patient bourgeois.

The central idea of this glorification of the army, be it understood,
is the worship of Napoleon, the supreme, unique, absolute sovereign of
the army and all the rest, while the prestige of this name is as
great, as carefully maintained, in the school as in the army. At the
start, he put his own free scholars (boursiers) into the lycées and
colleges, about 3000 boys[71] whom he supports and brings up at his
own expense, for his own advantage, destined to become his creatures,
and who form the uppermost layer of the school population; about one
hundred and fifty of these scholarships to each lycée, first occupants
of the lycée and still for a long time more numerous than their paying
comrades, all of a more or less needy family, sons of soldiers and
functionaries who live on the Emperor and rely on him only, all
accustomed from infancy to regard the Emperor as the arbiter of their
destiny, the special, generous and all-powerful patron who, having
taken charge of them now, will also take charge of them in the future.
A figure of this kind fills and occupies the entire field of their
imagination; whatever grandeur it already possesses it here becomes
still more grand, colossal and superhuman. At the beginning their
enthusiasm gave the pitch to their co-disciples;[72] the institution,
through its mechanism, labors to keep this up, and the administrators
or professors, by order or through zeal, use all their efforts to make
the sonorous and ringing chord vibrate with all the more energy.
After 1811, even in a private institution,[73] "the victories of the
Emperor form almost the only subject on which the imagination of the
pupils is allowed to exercise itself." After 1807,[74] at Louis le
Grand, the prize compositions are those on the recent victory of Jena.
"Our masters themselves," says Alfred de Vigny, "unceasingly read to
us the bulletins of the Grande Armée, while cries of Vive l'Empereur
interrupted Virgil and Plato." In sum, write many witnesses,[75]
Bonaparte desired to bestow on French youths the organization of the
"Mamelukes," and he nearly succeeded. More exactly and in his own
words, "His Majesty[76] desired to realize in a State of forty
millions of inhabitants what had been done in Sparta and in Athens. -
" But," he is to say later, "I only half succeeded. That was one of
my finest conceptions";[77] M. de Fontanes and the other university
men did not comprehend this or want to comprehend it. Napoleon
himself could give only a moment of attention to his school work, his
halting-spells between two campaigns;[78] in his absence, "they
spoiled for him his best ideas"; "his executants "never perfectly
carried out his intentions. "He scolded, and they bowed to the storm,
but not the less continued on in the usual way." Fourcroy kept too
much of the Revolution in mind, and Fontanes too much of the ancient
régime; the former was too much a man of science, and the latter too
much a man of letters; with such capacities they laid too great stress
on intellectual culture and too little on discipline of the feelings.
In education, literature and science are "secondary " matters; the
essential thing is training, an early, methodical, prolonged,
irresistible training which, through the convergence of every means -
lessons, examples and habits - inculcates "principles," and lastingly
impresses on young souls "the national doctrine," a sort of social and
political catechism, the first article of which commands fanatical
docility, passionate devotion, and the total surrender of one's self
to the Emperor.[79]



[1] (and obviously the aim of all other dictatorships. (SR.))

[2] Pelet de la Lozère, 161. (Speech by Napoleon to the Council of
State, March 11, 1806.)

[3] Our last son entered the French School system at the age of 5 in
1984 and his school record followed him from school to school until he
left 13 years later with his terminal exam, the Baccalaureat. (SR.)

[4] What a wonderful procedure, it was to be copied and used by all
the dominant rulers of the 20th century. Taine's book is, however, not
to be let into immature hands, so no wonder it was hardly ever
referred to by those who had profited by it. (SR.)

[5] A. de Beauchamp, Recueil des lois et réglements sur l'enseignement
supérior, 4 vol. ( (Rapport of Fourcroy to the Corps Législatif, May
6, 1806.) "How important it is . . . that the mode of education
admitted to be the best should add to this advantage, that of being
uniform for the whole Empire, teaching the same knowledge, inculcating
the same principles on individuals who must live together in the same
society, forming in some way but one body, possessing but one mind,
and all contributing to the public good through unanimity of sentiment
and action."

[6] Pelet de la Lozère, 154.

[7] A. de Beauchamp, ibid. (Decree of March 7, 1808.) - Special and
collateral schools which teach subjects not taught in the lycées, for
example the living languages, which are confined to filling a gap, and
do not compete with the lycées, are subject to previous authorization
and to university pay.

[8] Pelet de la Lozère, p. 170. (Session of the Council of State,
March 20, 1806).

[9] Quicherat, "Histoire de Sainte-Barbe," III., 125.

[10] A. de Beauchamp, ibid. (Decrees of March 17, 1808, arts 103 and
105, of Sep. 17, 1808, arts. 2 and 3 of Novem. 15, 1801, arts. 54, 55
and 56.) "Should any one publicly teach and keep a school without the
Grand-Master's consent, he will be officially prosecuted by our
imperial judges, who will close the school. . . . He will be brought
before the criminal court and condemned to a fine of from one hundred
to two hundred francs, without prejudice to greater penalties, should
he be found guilty of having directed instruction in a way contrary to
order and to the public interest." - Ibid., art. 57. (On the closing
of schools provided with prescribed authority.)

[11] A. de Beauchamp, ibid. (Decree of Sep. 17, 1808, arts. 27, 28,
29, 30, and act passed April 7, 1809.)

[12] Id., ibid. (Decrees of March 17, 1808, art. 134; of Sep. 17,
1808, arts. 25 and 26; of Nov.15, 1811, art. 63).

[13] Ambroise Rendu, "Essai sur l'instruction publique," 4 vols.,
1819, I., 221. (Notice to M. de Fontanes, March 24, 1808. "The
university undertakes all public institutions, and must strive to have
as few private institutions as possible.

[14] Eugène Rendu, "Ambroise Rendu et l'Université de France" (1861),
pp.25, 26. (Letter of the Emperor to Fourcroy, Floreal 3, year XIII,
ordering him to inspect the lycées and Report of Fourcroy at the end
of four months.) "In general, the drum. the drill and military
discipline keep the parents in most of the towns from sending their
children to the lycée. . . . Advantage is taken of this measure to
make parents believe that the Emperor wants only to make soldiers."
Ibid. (Note of M. de Champagny, Minister of the Interior, written a
few months later.) "A large half of the heads (of the lycée) or
professors is, from a moral point of view, completely indifferent. One
quarter, by their talk, their conduct, their reputation, exhibit the
most dangerous character in the eyes of the youths. . . The greatest
fault of the principals is their lack of religious spirit, religious
zeal. . . . There are not more than two or three lycees in which this
may be seen. Hence the removal of the children by the parents which is
attributed to political prejudices; hence the rarity of paying pupils;
hence the discredit of the lycées. In this respect opinion is

[15] "Histoire du Collége Louis le Grand," by Esmond, emeritus
censor, 1845, p.267 "Who were the assistant-teachers? Retired
subaltern officers who preserved the coarseness of the camp and knew
of no virtue but passive obedience. . . . The age at which
scholarships were given was not fixed, the Emperor's choice often
falling on boys of fifteen or sixteen, who presented themselves with
habits already formed out of a bad education and so ignorant that one
was obliged to assign them to the lowest classes, along with
children." - Fabry, "Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de
l'instruction publique depuis 1789," I., 391. "The kernel of boarding-
scholars, (holders of scholarships) was furnished by the Prytanée.
Profound corruption, to which the military régime gives an appearance
of regularity, a cool impiety which conforms to the outward ceremonies
of religion as to the movements of a drill, . . . steady tradition
has transmitted this spirit to all the pupils that have succeeded each
other for twelve years."

[16] Fabry, ibid., vol. II.,12, and vol. III., 399.

[17] Decree of Nov.15, 1811, articles 15, 16, 22.

[18] Quicherat, ibid., III.. 93 to 105. - Up to 1809, owing to M. de
Fontane's toleration, M. de Lanneau could keep one half of his pupils
in his house under the name of pupils in preparatory classes, or for
the lectures in French or on commerce; nevertheless, he was obliged to
renounce teaching philosophy. In 1810, he is ordered to send all his
scholars to the lycée within three months. There were at this date 400
scholars in Sainte-Barbe.

[19] Decree of Nov.15, 1811, articles 1, 4, 5, 9, 17 to 19 and 24 to
32. - " Procès-verbaux des séances du conseil de l'Université
impériale." (Manuscripts in the archives of the Ministry of Public
Instruction, furnished by M. A. de Beauchamp), session of March 12,
1811, note of the Emperor communicated by the Grand-Master. "His
Majesty requires that the following arrangement be added to the decree
presented to him: Wherever there is a lycée, the Grand-Master will
order private institutions to be closed until the lycée has all the
boarders it can contain." The personal intervention of Napoleon is
here evident; the decree starts with him; he wished it at once more
rigorous, more decidedly arbitrary and prohibitive.

[20] Quicherat, ibid., III.,95-105. - Ibid., 126. After the decree of
November 15, 1811, threatening circulars follow each other for fifteen
months and always to hold fast or annoy the heads of institutions or
private schools. Even in the smallest boarding-schools, the school
exercises must be announced by the drum and the uniform worn under
penalty of being shut up

[21] Ibid., III., 42. - At Sainte-Barbe, before 1808, there were
various sports favoring agility and flexibility of the body, such as
running races, etc. All that is suppressed by the imperial University;
it does not admit that anything can be done better or otherwise than
by itself.

[22] Decree of March 17, 1808, article 38. Among "the bases of
teaching," the legislator prescribes "obedience to the statutes the
object of which is the uniformity of instruction."

[23] Quicherat, III., 128.

[24] " The Modern Régime," I., 164.

[25] See, for a comprehension of the full effect of this forced
education, "Les Mécontens" by Mérimée, the rôle of Lieutenant Marquis
Edward de Naugis.

[26] "Recueil," by A. de Beauchamp; Report by Fourcroy, April 20,
1802: "The populations which have become united with France and which,
speaking a different language and accustomed to foreign institutions,
need to abandon old habits and refashion themselves on those of their
new country, cannot find at home the essential means for giving their
sons the instruction, the manners and the character which should
amalgamate them with Frenchmen. What destiny could be more
advantageous for them and, at the same time, what a resource for the
government, which desires nothing so much as to attach new citizens to

[27] "Journal d'un déténu de 1807 à 1814" (I vol., 1828, in English),
p.167. (An account given by Charles Choderlos de Laclos, who was then
at La Flèche.

[28] Pelet de la Lozère, ibid., pp.162, 163.167. (Speeches by Napoleon
to the Council of State, sessions of Feb. 10, March 1, 11 and 20,
April 7, and May 21 and 29, 1806.)

[29] Napoleon himself said this: "I want a corporation, not of Jesuits
whose sovereign is in Rome, but Jesuits who have no other ambition but
to be useful and no other interest but the public interest."

[30] This intention is formally expressed in the law. (Decree of March
17, 1808, art. 30.) "Immediately after the formation of the imperial
university, the order of rank shall be followed in the appointment of
functionaries, and no one can be assigned a place who has not passed
through the lowest. The situations will then afford a career which
offers to knowledge and good behavior the hope of reaching the highest
position in the imperial university."

[31] Pelet de la Lozère, ibid.

[32] "Procès-verbaux des séances du conseil de l'Université. " (In
manuscript.) Memoir of February 1, 1811, on the means for developing
the spirit of the corporation in the University. In this memoir,
communicated to the Emperor, the above motive is alleged.

[33] Pelet de la Lozère.

[34] I can imagine the effect this description of Napoleon's genius
and inventive spirit must have had on Lenin when he lived and studied
in Paris and forged his plans for a communist state, a world
revolution, an annihilation of the existing order and the creation of
a new (and better) one. (SR.)

[35] Decree of March 17, 1808, arts. 101, 102.

[36] In any pre-revolutionary society, authority must be undermined,
women introduced whenever it can lessen the efficiency of the
organization. But once the revolution has won, then Lenin's dictum
about entrusting men of administrative talent with the full authority
of the dictatorship of the proletariat is to be followed. As Taine was
translated into German, Hitler is likely, directly or indirectly to
have studied Napoleon. Hitler's "führerprincip" a principle which gave
the Nazi society its terrible efficiency was probably the result.

[37] Decree of March 20, 1808, articles 40-46.

[38] For example, act of March 31, 1812, On leaves of absence. - Cf.
the regulations of April 8, 1810, for the " École de la Maternité,
titres ix, x and xi). In this strict and special instance we see
plainly what Napoleon meant by "the police" of a school.

[39] Pelet de la Lozère, Ibid.

[40] It seems to me probable that an aspiring revolutionary like
Hitler, Lenin, Stalin or Trotsky) would attempt to copy Napoleon's
once he had successfully taken power inside first the party and later
the state. To enhance the dissolution of a democracy the opposite
system, that is tenure irrespective of performance, the right to operate
militant trade unions and to conduct strikes, would be demanded for all government employees. (SR.)

[41] Decree of March 17, 1808, articles 47 and 48.

[42] Decree of Nov. 15, 1811, articles 66 and 69.

[43] Procès-verbaux et papiers du conseil supérior de l'Université (in
manuscript).- (Two memoirs submitted to the Emperor, Feb. 1, 1811, on
the means of strengthening the discipline and spirit of the body in
the University.) - The memoir requests that the sentences of the
university authorities be executable on the simple exequatur of the
courts; it is important to diminish the intervention of tribunals and
prefects, to cut short appeals and pleadings; the University must have
full powers and full jurisdiction on its domain, collect taxes from
its taxpayers, and repress all infractions of those amenable to its
jurisdiction. (Please not the exequatur is a French ordnance by which
the courts gives a decision by a third party or an umpire executory
force. SR.)

[44] "Statut sur l'administration, l'ensignement et la police de
l'École normale, " March 30, 1810, title II, articles 20-23.

[45] Taine entered in L'Ecole Normale in October 1848, first in his
year, having written an essay in philosophy (in Latin) with the title:
Si animus cum corpore extinguitur, quid sit Deus? Quid homo? Quid
societas? Quid philosophia? (If the soul dies with the body what
happens to God? Man? Society? Philosophy?) And an essay in French
imagining that he was Voltaire writing to his English friend Cedeville
pretending to give his impressions on England. When he had arrived on
30 October 1848 Taine wrote to Cornélis de Witt: "Here I am in the
convent and prisoner for three years." (SR.)

[46] I note, however, that the École Normale Superior produced Taine,
and it seemed to have had the same effect upon him as by boarding
school and its similar regime upon me, namely of making me informed
and rebellious. I have also noted that the most uninteresting and smug
young people I have met have followed school systems like that of the
United States where no great effort is demanded but the peer pressure
helps to produce ignorant, self-satisfied students. (SR.)

[47] Villemain, "Souvenirs contemporaines," vol. I., 137-156. ("Une
visite à l'École normale en 1812," Napoleon's own words to M. de
Narbonne.) "Tacitus is a dissatisfied senator, an Auteuil grumbler,
who revenges himself, pen in hand, in his cabinet. His is the spite of
the aristocrat and philosopher both at once.. . . Marcus Aurelius is a
sort of Joseph II., and, in much larger proportions, a philanthropist
and sectarian in commerce with the sophists and ideologues of his
time, flattering them and imitating them. . . . I like Diocletian
better." - ". . . Public education lies in the future and in the
duration of my work after I am gone."

[48] Decree of March 17, 1808, art. 110 and the following.

[49] Circular of Nov. 13, 1813.

[50] Decree of March 17, 1808, article 38.

[51] Pelet de la Lozere, ibid., 158.

[52] Id., ibid., 168. (Session of March 20, 1806.)

[53] Hermann Niemeyer, "Beobactungen auf einer Deportation-Reise nach
Frankreich im J. 1807 (Halle, 1824), II.,353. - Fabry, " Mémoires pour
servir à l'histoire de l'instruction publique," III., 120. (Documents
and testimony of pupils showing that religion in the lycées is only
ceremonial practice.) - Id., Riancey, "Histoire de l'instruction
publique," II.,378. (Reports of nine chaplains in the royal colleges
in 1830 proving that the same spirit prevailed throughout the
Restoration: "A boy sent to one of these establishments containing 400
pupils for the term of eight years has only eight or ten chances
favoring the preservation of his faith; all the others are against
him, that is to say, out of four hundred chances, three hundred and
ninety risk his being a man with no religion."

[54] Fabry, ibid., III., 175. (Napoleon's own words to a member of his
council.) - Pelet de la Lozère, ibid., 161: "I do not want priests
meddling with public education." - 167: "The establishment of a
teaching corps will be a guarantee against the re-establishment of
monks. Without that they would some day come back."

[55] Fabry, ibid, III., 120. (Abstract of the system of lycées by a
pupil who passed many years in two lycées.) Terms for board 900
francs, insufficiency of food and clothing, crowded lectures and
dormitories, too many pupils in each class, profits of the principal
who lives well, gives one grand dinner a week to thirty persons,
deprives the dormitory, already too narrow, of space for a billiard-
table, and takes for his own use a terrace planted with fine trees.
The censor, the steward, the chaplain, the sub-director do the same,
although to a less degree. The masters are likewise as poorly fed as
the scholars. The punishments are severe, no paternal remonstrance or
guidance, the under-masters maltreated on applying the rules, despised
by their superiors and without any influence on their pupils. -
"Libertinage, idleness self-interest animated all breasts, there being
no tie of friendship uniting either the masters to the scholars nor
the pupils amongst themselves."

[56] Finding myself in charge of a numerous staff of technicians,
artisans, operators and workers hired by the United Nations to serve a
military mission in Lebanon I was faced with motivating everyone, not
only when they would become eligible for promotion, but also during
the daily humdrum existence. I one day coined the phrase that
"everyone wants to be important" and tried to make them feel so by
insisting that all tasks, even the most humble had to be done well. I
gave preference to seniority by giving the most senior man the chance
to prove himself once a higher post fell vacant. (SR.)

[57] Hermann Niemeyer, "Beobachtungen," etc., II.,350. "A very worthy
man, professor in one of the royal colleges, said to me: 'What
backward steps we have been obliged to take! How all the pleasure of
teaching, all the love for our art, has been taken away from us by
this constraint!'"

[58] Id., ibid., II.,339. - "Decree of November 15, 1811 art. 17.

[59] Id., ibid., II.,353.

[60] Hermann Niemeyer, ibid., 366, and following pages. On the
character, advantages and defects of the system, this testimony of an
eye-witness is very instructive and forms an almost complete picture.
The subjects taught are reduced to Latin and mathematics; there is
scarcely any Greek, and none of the modern languages, hardly a tinge
of history and the natural sciences, while philology is null; that
which a pupil must know of the classics is their "contents and their
spirit" (Geist und Inhalt). - Cf. Guizot, "Essai sur l'histoire et
l'état actuel de l'instruction publique," 1816, p.103.

[61] "Travels in France during the Years 1814 and 1815" (Edinburgh,
1816), vol. I., p. 152.

[62] "Ambroise Rendu et 1'Université de France," by E. Rendu (1861),
pp. 25 and 26. (Letter of the Emperor, Floréal 3, year XIII, and
report by Fourcroy.)

[63] "Recueil," etc., by de Beauchamp, I., 151. (Report to the Corps
Législatif by Fourcroy, May 6, 1806.)

[64] "Procès-verbaux et papiers" (manuscripts) of the superior council
of the University, session of March 12, 1811, note by the Emperor
communicated by the Grand-Master: "The Grand-Master will direct that
in all boarding-schools and institutions which may come into
existence, the pupils shall wear a uniform, and that everything shall
go on as in the lycées according to military discipline." In the
decree in conformity with this, of Nov. 15, 1811, the word military
was omitted, probably because it seemed too crude; but it shows the
thought behind it, the veritable desire of Napoleon. - Quicherat,"
Histoire de Sainte-Barbe," III., 126. The decree was enforced "even in
the smallest boarding-schools."

[65] Testimony of Alfred de Vigny in "Grandeur et Servitude
militaires." Same impression of Alfred de Musset in his "Confession
d'un enfant du siècle."

[66] Quicherat, ibid., p.126.

[67] "The Modern Régime," I. (Laff. I. p. 550.)

[68] Hermann Niemeyer, ibid., I., 153.

[69] "Travels in France," etc., II.,123. (Testimony of a French
gentleman.) "The rapid destruction of population in France caused
constant promotions, and the army became the career which offered the
most chances. It was a profession for which no education was necessary
and to which all had access. There, Bonaparte never allowed merit to
go unrecognized."

[70] Véron, " Mémoires d'un bourgeois de Paris, " I., 127 (year

[71] Guizot, ibid., pp.59 and 61. - Fabry, "Mémoires pour servir à
l'histoire de l'instruction publique," III., 102. (On the families of
these favorites and on the means made use of to obtain these
scholarships.) - Jourdain, "le Budget de l'instruction publique
(1857), p. 144. - In 1809, in the 36 1ycées, there are 9,068 pupils,
boarding and day scholars, of whom 4,199 are boursiers. In 1811, there
are 10,926 pupils, of whom 4,008 are boursiers. In 1813, there are
14,992 pupils, of whom 3,500 are boursiers. At the same epoch, in
private establishments, there are 30,000 pupils.

[72] Fabry, ibid., II.,391 (1819). (On the peopling of the lycées and
colleges.) "The first nucleus of the boarders was furnished by the
Prytanée. . . . Tradition has steadily transmitted this spirit to all
the pupils that succeeded each other for the first twelve years." -
Ibid., III., 112 "The institution of lycees tends to creating a race
inimical to repose, eager and ambitious, foreign to the domestic
affections and of a military and adventurous spirit."

[73] Quicherat, ibid., III., 126.

[74] Hermann Niemeyer, ibid., II.,350.

[75] Fabry, ibid., III., 109-112.

[76] Ambroise Rendu, "Essai sur l'instruction publique," (1819), I.,
221. (Letter of Napoleon to M. de Fontanes, March 24, 1808.)

[77] "Mémorial," June 17, 1816.

[78] Pelet de la Lozère, ibid., 154, 157, 159.

[79] "Mémorial," June 17, 1816. "This conception of the University by
Napoleon must be taken with another, of more vast proportions, which
he sets forth in the same conversation and which clearly shows his
complete plan. He desired "the military classing of the nation," that
is to say five successive conscriptions, one above the other. The
first, that of children and boys by means of the University; the
second, that of ordinary conscripts yearly and effected by the drawing
by lot; the third, fourth and fifth provided by three standards of
national guard, the first one comprising young unmarried men and held
to frontier service, the second comprising men of middle age, married
and to serve only in the department, and the third comprising aged men
to be employed only in the defense of towns - in all, through these
three classes, two millions of classified men, enrolled and armed,
each with his post assigned him in case of invasion. "In 1810 or 1811
up to fifteen or twenty drafts of this" proposal "was read to the
council of State. The Emperor, who laid great stress on it, frequently
came back to it." We see the place of the University in his edifice:
from ten to sixty years, his universal conscription was to take,
first, children, then adults, and, with healthy persons, the semi-
invalids, as, for instance, Cambacérès, the arch-chancellor, gross,
impotent, and, of all men, the least military. "There is Cambacérès,"
says Napoleon, "who must be ready to shoulder his gun if danger makes
it necessary. . . . Then you will have a nation sticking together like
lime and sand, able to defy time and man." There is constant
repugnance to this by the whole Council of State, "marked disfavor,
mute and inert opposition. . . . Each member trembled at seeing
himself classed, transported abroad," and, under pretext of internal
defense, used for foreign wars. "The Emperor, absorbed with other
projects, saw this plan vanish."


I. Primary Instruction.

Primary instruction. - Additional and special restrictions on the
teacher. - Ecclesiastical supervision. - Napoleon's motives. -
Limitation of primary instruction. - Ignorantin monks preferred. - The
imperial catechism.

SUCH is secondary education, his most personal, most elaborate, most
complete work; the other two stories of the educational system, under
and over, built in a more summary fashion, are adapted to the middle
story and form, the three together, a regular monument, of which the
architect has skillfully balanced the proportions, distributed the
rooms, calculated the service and designed the facade and scenic

"Napoleon," says a contemporary adversary,[1] "familiar with power
only in its most absolute form, military despotism, tried to partition
France in two categories, one composed of the masses, destined to fill
the ranks of his vast army, and disposed, through the brutishness
which he was willing to maintain; to passive obedience and fanatical
devotion; the other, more refined by reason of its wealth, was to lead
the former according to the views of the chief who equally dominated
both, for which purpose it was to be formed in schools where, trained
for a servile and, so to say, mechanical submission, it would acquire
relative knowledge, especially in the art of war and with regard to a
wholly material administration; after this, vanity and self-interest
were to attach it to his person and identify it, in some way with his
system of government."

Lighten this gloomy picture one degree and it is true.[2] As to
primary instruction, there was no State appropriation, no credit
inscribed on the budget, no aid in money, save 25,000 francs, allotted
in 1812, to the novices of the Frères Ignorantins and of which they
received but 4,500 francs;[3] the sole mark of favor accorded to the
small schools is an exemption from the dues of the University.[4] His
councillors, with their habits of fiscal logic, proposed to exact this
tax here as elsewhere; a shrewd politician, he thinks that its
collection would prove odious and he is bound not to let his
popularity suffer among villagers and common people; it is 200,000
francs a year which he abstains from taking from them; but here his
liberalities in behalf of primary instruction stop. Let parents and
the communes take this burden on themselves, pay its expenses, seek
out and hire the teacher, and provide for a necessity which is local
and almost domestic. The government, which invites them to do this,
will simply furnish the plan, that is to say, a set of rules,
prescriptions and restrictions.

At first, there is the authorization of the prefect, guardian of the
commune, who, having invited the commune to found a school, has
himself, through a circular, given instructions to this end, and who
now interferes in the contract between the municipal council and the
teacher, to approve of or to rectify its clauses - the name of the
employee, duration of his engagement, hours and seasons for his
classes, subjects to be taught, the sum total and conditions of his
pay in money or in kind; the school grant must be paid by the commune,
the school tax by the pupils, the petty fees which help pay the
teacher's living expenses and which he gets from accessory offices
such as mayor's clerk, clock-winder, sexton, bell-ringer and chorister
in the church[5] - At the same time, and in addition, there is the
authorization of the rector; for the small as well as the average or
larger schools are included in the University;[6] the new master
becomes a member of the teaching body, binds himself and belongs to it
by oath, takes upon himself its obligations and submissions, comes
under the special jurisdiction of the university authorities, and is
inspected, directed and controlled by them in his class and outside of
his class. - The last supervision, still more searching and active,
which close by, incessantly and on the spot, hovers over all small
schools by order and spontaneously, is the ecclesiastical supervision.
A circular of the Grand-Master, M. de Fontanes,[7] requests the
bishops to instruct "messieurs les curés of their diocese to send in
detailed notes on their parish schoolmasters;" "when these notes are
returned," he says, "please address them to me with your remarks on
them; according to these indications I will approve of the instructor
who merits your suffrage and he will receive the diploma authorizing
him to continue in his functions. Whoever fails to present these
guarantees will not receive a diploma and I shall take care to replace
him with another man whom you may judge to be the most capable."[8]

If Napoleon thus places his small schools under ecclesiastical
oversight, it is not merely to conciliate the clergy by giving it the
lead of the majority of souls, all the uncultivated souls, but
because, for his own interests, he does not want the mass of the
people to think and reason too much for themselves.

"The Academy inspectors,"[9] says the decree of 1811, "will see that
the masters of the primary schools do not carry their teaching beyond
reading, writing and arithmetic."

Beyond this limit, should the instructor teach a few of the children
the first elements of Latin or geometry, geography or history, his
school becomes secondary; it is then ranked as a boarding-school,
while its pupils are subjected to the university recompense, military
drill, uniform, and all the above specified exigencies; and yet more -
it must no longer exist and is officially closed. A peasant who
reads, writes and ciphers and who remains a peasant need know no more,
and, to be a good soldier, he need not know as much; moreover, that is
enough, and more too, to enable him to become an under and even a
superior officer. Take, for instance, Captain Coignet, whose memoirs
we have, who, to be appointed a second-lieutenant, had to learn to
write and who could never write other than a large hand, like young
beginners. - The best masters for such limited instruction are the
Brethren of the Christian Schools and these, against the advice of his
counselors, Napoleon supports:

"If they are obliged," he says, by their vows to refrain from other
knowledge than reading, writing and the elements of arithmetic, . . .
it is that they may be better adapted to their destiny."[10] "In
comprising them in the University, they become connected with the
civil order of things and the danger of their independence is

Henceforth, "they no longer have a stranger or a foreigner for their
chief." "The superior-general at Rome has renounced all inspection
over them; it is understood that in France their superior-general will
reside at Lyons."[11] The latter, with his monks, fall into the hands
of the government and come under the authority of the Grand-Master.
Such a corporation, with the head of it in one's power, is a perfect
instrument, the surest, the most exact, always to be relied on and
which never acts on one side of, or beyond, the limits marked out for
it. Nothing pleases Napoleon more, who,

* in the civil order of things, wants to be Pope;
* who builds up his State, as the Pope his Church, on old Roman
* who, to govern from above, allies himself with ecclesiastical
* who, like Catholic authorities, requires drilled executants and
regimental maneuvers, only to be found in organized and special bodies
of men.[12]

The general inspectors of the University give to each rector the
following instructions as a watchword "Wherever the Brethren of the
Christian Schools can be found, they shall," for primary teaching, "be
preferred to all others."[13] Thus, to the three classes of subjects
taught, a fourth must be added, one not mentioned by the legislator in
his law, but which Napoleon admits, which the rectors and prefects
recommend or authorize, and which is always inscribed in the contract
made between the commune and the instructor. The latter, whether
layman or 'frère ignorantin,' engages to teach, besides "reading,
writing and decimal arithmetic," "the catechism adopted by the
Empire." Consequently, as the first communion (of the pupil) draws
near, he is careful, for at least two years, to have his scholars
learn the consecrated text by heart, and to recite this text aloud on
their benches, article by article; in this way, his school becomes a
branch of the Church and, hence, like the Church, a reigning
instrumentality. For, in the catechism adopted for the Empire, there
is one phrase carefully thought out, full and precise in its meaning,
in which Napoleon has concentrated the quintessence of his political
and social doctrine and formulated the imperative belief assigned by
him as the object of education. The seven or eight hundred thousand
children of the lower schools recite this potent phrase to the teacher
before reciting it to the priest :

"We especially owe to Napoleon I., our Emperor, love, respect,
obedience, fidelity, military service, and the dues (tributs)
prescribed for the preservation and defense of the Empire and the
throne. . . . For it is he whom God has raised up in times of
difficulty, to restore public worship and the holy religion of our
forefathers, and to be its protector."[14]

II. Higher Education.

Superior instruction. - Characters and conditions of scientific
universities. - Motives for opposition to them. - In what respect
adverse to the French system. - How he replaces them. - Extent of
secondary instruction. - Meets all wants in the new social order of
things. - The careers it leads to. - Special schools. - Napoleon
requires them professional and practical. - The law school.

Superior instruction, the most important of all, remains. For, in this
third and last stage of education, the minds and opinions of young
people from eighteen to twenty-four years of age are fully formed. It
is then that, already free and nearly ripe, these future occupants of
busy careers, just entering into practical life, shape their first
general ideas, their still hazy and half-poetic views of things, their
premature and foregone conclusions respecting man, nature, society and
the great interests of humanity.

If we want them to arrive at sound conclusions, a good many scales
must be prepared for them, and these scales must be substantial,
convergent, each with its own rungs of the ladder superposed, each
with an indication of its total scope, each expressly designating the
absent, doubtful, provisional or simply future and possible rungs,
because they are in course of formation or on trial.[15] -
Consequently, these must all be got together in a designated place, in
adjacent buildings, not alone the body of professors, the spokes-men
of science, but collections, laboratories and libraries which
constitute the instruments. Moreover, besides ordinary and regular
courses of lectures, there must be lecture halls where, at
appointed hours, every enterprising, knowledgeable person with
something to say may speak to those who would like to listen. Thus, a
sort of oral encyclopedia is organized, an universal exposition of
human knowledge, a permanent exposition constantly renewed and open,
to which its visitors, provided with a certificate of average
instruction as an entrance ticket, will see with their own eyes,
besides established science that which is under of formation, besides
discoveries and proofs the way of discovering and proving, namely the
method, history and general progress, the place of each science in its
group, and of this group its place in the general whole. Owing to the
extreme diversity of subjects taught there will be room and occupation
for the extreme diversity of intelligences. Young minds can choose for
themselves their own career, mount as high as their strength allows,
climb up the tree of knowledge each on his own side, with his own
ladder, in his own way, now passing from the branches to the trunk and
again from the trunk to the branches, now from a remote bough to the
principal branch and from that again back to the trunk.

And more than this, thanks to the co-ordination of lessons well
classified, there is, for each course of lectures, the means for
arriving at full details in all particulars; the young students can
talk amongst themselves and learn from each other, the student of
moral science from the student of the natural sciences, the latter
from the student of the chemical or physical sciences, and another
from the student of the mathematical sciences. Bearing still better
fruit, the student, in each of these four circumscriptions, derives
information from his co-disciples lodged right and left in the nearest
compartments, the jurist from the historian, from the economist, from
the philologist, and reciprocally, in such a way as to profit by their
impressions and suggestions, and enable them to profit by his. He
must have no other object in view for three years, no rank to obtain,
no examination to undergo, no competition for which to make
preparations, no outward pressure, no collateral preoccupation, no
positive, urgent and personal interest to interfere with, turn aside
or stifle pure curiosity. He pays something out of his own pocket for
each course of lectures he attends; for this reason, he makes the best
choice he can, follows it up to the end, takes notes, and comes there,
not to seek phrases and distraction, but actualities and instruction,
and get full value for his money. It is assumed that knowledge is an
object of exchange, foodstuffs stockpiled and delivered by the
masters; the student who takes delivery is concerned that it is of
superior quality, genuine and nutritious; the masters, undoubtedly,
through amour-propre and conscience, try to furnish it this; but it is
up to the student himself to fetch it, just what he wants, in this
particular storehouse rather than in others, from this or that
lecture-stand, official or not. To impart and to acquire knowledge
for itself and for it alone, without subordinating this end to another
distinct and predominant end, to direct minds towards this object and
in this way, under the promptings and restraints of supply and demand,
to open up the largest field and the freest career to the faculties,
to labor, to the preferences of the thinking individual, master or
disciple, - such is (or ought to be) the spirit of the institution.
And, evidently, in order that it may be effective according to this
spirit, it needs an independent, appropriate body, that is to say,
autonomous, sheltered against the interference of the State, of the
Church, of the commune, of the province, and of all general or local
powers, provided with rules and regulations, made a legal, civil
personage, with the right to buy, sell and contract obligations, in
short proprietorship.

This is no chimerical plan, the work of a speculative, calculating
imagination, which appears well and remains on paper. All the
universities of the middle ages were organized according to this type.
It found life and activity everywhere and for a long time; the twenty-
two universities in France previous to the Revolution, although
disfigured, stunted and desiccated, preserved many of its features,
certain visible externals, and, in 1811,[16] Cuvier, who had just
inspected the universities of lower Germany, describes it as he found
it, on the spot, confined to superior instruction, but finished and
complete, adapted to modern requirements, in full vigor and in full

There is no room in the France to which Cuvier returns for
institutions of this stamp; they are excluded from it by the social
system which has prevailed. - First of all, public law, as the
Revolution and Napoleon comprehended it and enacted it, is hostile to
them;[17] for it sets up the principle that in a State there must be
no special corporations permanent, under their own control, supported
by mort main property, acting in their own right and conducting a
public service for their own benefit, especially if this service is
that of teaching; for the State has taken this charge upon itself,
reserved it for itself and assumed the monopoly of it; hence, the
unique and comprehensive university founded by it, and which excludes
free, local and numerous universities. Thus, in its essence, it is the
self-teaching State and not self-teaching science; thus defined, the
two types are contradictory; not only are the two bodies different,
but again the two spirits are incompatible; each has an aim of its
own, which is not the aim of the other. In a special sense, the use
to which the Emperor assigns his university is contrary to the aim of
the German universities; it is founded for his own advantage, that he
may possess "the means for shaping moral and political opinions." With
this object in view it would be wrong for him to allow several
establishments within reach of students in which they would be
directed by science alone; it is certain that, in many points, the
direction here given to youth would poorly square with the rigid,
uniform, narrow lines in which Napoleon wishes to confine them.
Schools of this kind would get to be centers of opposition; young men
thus fashioned would become dissenters; they would gladly hold
personal, independent opinions alongside, or outside, of "the national
doctrine," outside of Napoleonic and civil orthodoxy; and worse still,
they would believe in their opinions. Having studied seriously and at
first sources, the jurist, the theologian, the philosopher, the
historian, the philologist, the economist might perhaps cherish the
dangerous pretension of considering himself competent even in social
matters; being a Frenchman, he would talk with assurance and
indiscretion; he would be much more troublesome than a German; it
would soon be necessary to send him to Bicêtre or to the Temple.[18] -
In the present state of things, with the exigencies of the reign, and
even in the interests of the young themselves, it is essential that
superior instruction should be neither encyclopedic nor very profound.

Were this a defect, Frenchmen would not perceive it; they are
accustomed to it. Already, before 1789, the classes in the humanities
were generally completed by the lesson in philosophy. In this course
logic, morals and metaphysics were taught. Here the young persons
handled, adjusted, and knocked about more or less adroitly the formula
on God, nature, the soul and science they had learned by rote. Less
scholastic, abridged, and made easy, this verbal exercise has been
maintained in the lycées.[19] Under the new régime, as well as under
the old one, a string of abstract terms, which the professor thought
he could explain and which the pupil thought he understood, involves
young minds in a maze of high, speculative conceptions, beyond their
reach and far beyond their experience, education and years. Because
pupils play with words, they suppose that they grasp and master ideas,
which fancy deprives them of any desire to obtain them. Consequently,
in the great French establishment, young people hardly remark the lack
of veritable Universities; a liberal, broad spirit of inquiry is not
aroused in them; they do not regret their inability to have covered
the cycle of varied research and critical investigation, the long and
painful road which alone surely leads to profound general conceptions,
those grand ideas which are verifiable and solidly based. - And, on
the other hand, their quick, summary mode of preparation suffices for
the positive and appreciable needs of the new society. The problem is
to fill the gaps made in it by the Revolution and to provide the
annual and indispensable quota of educated youth. Now, after as before
the Revolution, this is understood as being all who have passed
through the entire series of classes; under the system, subject to the
drill in Latin and mathematics. The young men have here acquired the
habit of using clear, connected ideas, a taste for close reasoning,
the art of condensing a phrase or a paragraph, an aptitude for
attending to the daily business of a worldly, civil life, especially
the faculty of carrying on a discussion, of writing a good letter,
even the talent for composing a good report or memorial.[20] A young
man with these skills, some scraps of natural philosophy, and with
still briefer notions of geography and history, has all the general,
preliminary culture he needs, all the information he requires for
aspiring to one of the careers called liberal. The choice rests with
himself; he will be what he wants to be, or what he is able to be -
professor, engineer, physician, member of the bar, an administrator or
a functionary. In each of his qualifications he renders an important
service to the public, he exercises an honorable profession; let him
be competent and expert, that concerns society. But that alone is all
that society cares about; it is not essential that it should find in
him additionally an erudite or a philosopher.

* Let him be competent and worthy of confidence in his particular

* let him know how to teach classes or frame a course of lectures, how
to build a bridge, a bastion, an edifice, how to cure a disease,
perform an amputation, draw up a contract, manage a case in court, and
give judgment;

* let the State, for greater public convenience, organize, check, and
certify this special capacity,

* let it verify this by examinations and diploma,

* let it make of this a sort of coin of current value, duly minted and
of proper standard;

* let this be protected against counterfeits, not only by its
preferences but again by its prohibitions, by the penalties it enacts
against the illegal practice of pharmacy and of medicine, by the
obligations it imposes on magistrates, lawyers and ministerial
officials not to act until obtaining this or that grade, -

such is what the interest of society demands and what it may exact.
According to this principle, the State creates special schools, (today
in 1998 called Grande Ecoles[21]), and, through the indirect monopoly
which it possesses, it fills them with listeners; henceforth, these
are to furnish the youth of France with superior education.[22]

From the start, Napoleon, as logician, with his usual lucidity and
precision, lays it down that they shall be strictly practical and
professional. "Make professors (régents) for me," said he one day in
connection with the Ecole normale, "and not littérateurs, wits or
seekers or inventors in any branch of knowledge." In like manner says
he again,[23]

"I do not approve of the regulation requiring a man to be bachelor
(bachelier) in the sciences before he can be a bachelor in the medical
faculty; medicine is not an exact and positive science, but a science
of guess and observation. I should place more confidence in a doctor
who had not studied the exact sciences than in one who possessed them.
I preferred M. Corvisart to M. Hallé, because M. Hallé belongs to the
Institute. M. Corvisart does not even know what two equal triangles
are. The medical student should not be diverted from hospital
practice, from dissections and studies relating to his trade."

There is the same subordination of science to the professions, the
same concern for immediate or near application, the same utilitarian
tendency to aim at a public function or a private career, the same
contraction of studies in the law school, in that order of truths of
which Montesquieu, a Frenchman, fifty years before, had first seized
the entire body, marked the connections and delineated the chart. At
issue are the laws and the "spirit of laws," unwritten or written, by
which diverse human societies live, of whatever form, extent and kind,
-the State, commune, Church, school, army, agricultural or industrial
workshop, tribe or family. These, existing or fossilized, are
realities, open to observation like plants or animals. One may, the
same as with animals and plants, observe them, describe them, compare
them together, follow their history from first to last, study their
organization, classify them in natural groups, disengage the
distinctive and dominant characteristics in each, note its ambient
surroundings and ascertain the internal or external conditions, or
"necessary relationships," which determine its failure or its bloom.
For men who live together in society and in a State, no study is so
important; it alone can furnish them with a clear, demonstrable idea
of what society and the State are; and it is in the law schools that
this capital idea must be sought by an educated student body. If they
do not find it there, they invent one to suit themselves. As 1789
drew near, the antiquated, poor, barren, teaching of law, fallen into
contempt and almost null,[24] offered no sound, accredited doctrine
which could impose itself on young minds, fill their empty minds and
prevent the intrusion of utopic dreams. And intrude it did: in the
shape of Rousseau's anti-social Utopia, in his anarchical and despotic
Social Contract. To hinder it from returning, the best thing to do was
not to repeat the same mistake, not to leave the lodging empty, to
install in it a fixed occupant beforehand, and to see that this fixed
occupant, which is science, may at all times represent its title of
legitimate proprietor, its method analogous to that of the natural
sciences, its studies of detail from life and in the texts, its
restricted inductions, its concordant verifications, its progressive
discoveries. This in order that, confronting every chance system and
without these titles, minds may of themselves shut their doors, or
only open them provisionally, and always with a care to make the
intruder present his letters of credit: here we have the social
service rendered by the instruction in Law as given in the German
mode, as Cuvier had just described it. Before 1789, in the
University of Strasbourg, in France, it was thus given; but, in this
condition and to this extent, it is not suitable under the new régime,
and still less than under the old one.

Napoleon, in his preparation of jurists, wants executants and not
critics; his faculties must furnish him with men able to apply and not
to give opinions on his laws. Hence, in the teaching of the law, as he
prescribes it, there must be nothing of history, of political economy
or of comparative law; there must be no exposition of foreign
legislation, of feudal or custom law, or of canon law; no account of
the transformations which governed public and private law in Rome down
to the Digest[25] and, after that, in France, down to the recent
codes. But nothing on remote origins, on successive forms and the
diverse and ever-changing conditions of labor, property and the
family; nothing which, through the law, exposes to view and brings us
in contact with the social body to which it is applied. That is to
say, this or that active and human group, with its habits, prejudices,
instincts, dangers and necessities; nothing but two dry, rigid codes,
like two aerolites fallen from the sky ready-made and all of a piece
at an interval of fourteen centuries. At first, the Institutes,[26]
"by cutting out[27] what is not applicable to our legislation and
replacing these matters by a comparison with much finer laws scattered
through other books of Roman law," similar to the classes in the
humanities, where Latin literature is reduced to the finest passages
of the classic authors. Next, the French code, with the comments on it
due to the decisions of the court of appeals and the court of
cassation.[28] All the courses of lectures of the school shall be
obligatory and arranged as a whole, or tacked on to each other in a
compulsory order; each step the student takes shall be counted,
measured and verified every three months by a certificate, and each
year by an examination; at these examinations there shall be no
optional matters, no estimate of collateral studies or those of
complimentary or superior importance. The student finds no attraction
or benefit in studies outside of the programme, and, in this programme
he finds only official texts, explained by the bill of fare, one by
one, with subtlety, and patched together as well as may be by means of
distinctions and interpretations, so as to provide the understood
solution in ordinary cases and a plausible solution in disputed cases,
in other terms, a system of casuistry.[29]

And this is just the education which suits the future practitioner.
As a celebrated professor of the second Empire says,[30] "our young
graduates need a system of instruction which enables them to pass
without perplexity or discouragement from the school to the halls of
justice;" to have the 2281 articles of the civil code at their
fingers' ends, also the rest, hundreds and thousands of them, of the
other four codes; to find at once in relation to each case the set of
pertinent articles, the general rule, neither too broad nor too
narrow, which fits the particular case in question. As for law taken
in itself and as a whole, they have none of that clear, full
conception of it to which a comprehensive and curious mind aspires.
"I know nothing of the civil code," said another professor, older and
in closer proximity with the primitive institution, "I teach only the
Code Napoléon." Accordingly, with his clear-sightedness and his
practical and graphic imagination, Napoleon could perceive in advance
the future and certain products of his machine, the magistrates in
their bonnets, seated or standing in their court-rooms, with the
lawyers in their robes facing them pleading, and, farther on, the
great consumers of stamped papers in their bureaus encumbered with
files of documents with the attorneys and notaries engaged in drawing
them up; elsewhere, prefects, sub-prefects, prefect councilors,
government commissioners and other officials, all at work and doing
pretty well, all of them useful organs but mere organs of the law.
The chances were small, fewer than under the ancient régime, for an
erudite and independent thinker, a Montesquieu, to issue from that

III. On Science, Reason and Truth.

Crowning point of the university edifice. - Faith based on criticism.
- How it binds men together and forms a lay Church. - Social power of
this Church. - Scientific and literary authorities. - How Napoleon
enrolls them. - The Institute, an appendage of the State.

Everywhere else, the direction and reach of superior instruction are
similar. In the Faculties of Science and Literature, much more than
in the Faculties of Medicine and of Law, the principal employment of
the professors is the awarding of grades. - They likewise confer the
titles of bachelor, licentiate and doctor; but the future bachelor is
not prepared by them; the lycée furnishes him for the examination,
fresh from its benches; they have then no audience but future
licentiates, that is to say a few schoolmasters and a licentiate at
long intervals who wants to become a doctor in order to mount upward
into the university hierarchy. Besides these, occasional amateurs,
nearly all of ripe age, who wish to freshen their classic souvenirs,
and idlers who want to kill time, fill the lecture-room. To prevent
empty benches the lecture course becomes a conférence d'Athenée, which
is pleasant enough or sufficiently general to interest or, at least,
not to repel people of society.[31] Two establishments remain for
teaching true science to the workers who wish to acquire it; who, in
the widespread wreck of the ancient régime have alone survived in the
Museum of Natural History, with its thirteen chairs, and the College
of France, with nineteen. But here, too, the audience is sparse,
mixed, disunited and unsatisfactory; the lectures being public and
free, everybody enters the room and leaves as he pleases during the
lecture. Many of the attendants are idlers who seek distraction in
the tone and gestures of the professors, or birds of passage who come
there to warm themselves in winter and to sleep in summer.
Nevertheless, two or three foreigners and half a dozen Frenchmen
thoroughly learn Arabic or zoology from Silvestre de Sacy, Cuvier or
Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. That answers the purpose; they are quite
enough, and, elsewhere too in the other branches of knowledge. All
that is required is a small élite of special and eminent men - about
one hundred and fifty in France in the various sciences,32 and, behind
them, provisionally, two or three hundred others, their possible
successors, competent and designated beforehand by their works and
celebrity to fill the gaps made by death in the titular staff as these
occur. The latter, representatives of science and of literature,
provide the indispensable adornment of the modern State. But, in
addition to this, they are the depositaries of a new force, which more
and more becomes the principal guide, the influential regulator and
even the innermost motor of human action. Now, in a centralized
State, no important force must be left to itself; Napoleon is not a
man to tolerate the independence of this one, allowing it to act apart
and outside of limitations; he knows how to utilize it and turn it to
his own advantage. He has already grasped another force of the same
order but more ancient, and, in the same way, and with equal skill, he
also takes hold of the new one.

In effect, alongside of religious authority, based on divine
revelation and belonging to the clergy, there is now a lay authority
founded on human reason, which is exercised by scientists, erudites,
scholars and philosophers. They too, in their way, form a clergy,
since they frame creeds and teach a faith; only, their preparatory and
dominant disposition is not trust and a docile mind, but distrust and
the need of critical examination. With them, nearly every source of
belief is suspicious. At bottom, among the ways of acquiring
knowledge, they accept but two, the most direct, the simplest, the
best tested, and again on condition that one proves the other, the
type of the first being that process of reasoning by which we show
that two and two make four, and the second that experience by which we
demonstrate that heat above a certain degree melts ice, and that cold
below a certain degree freezes water. This is the sole process that
is convincing; all others, less and less sure in proportion as they
diverge from it, possess only a secondary, provisional and contestable
value, that which it confers on them after verification and check. -
Let us accordingly avail ourselves of this one, and not of another, to
express, restrain or suspend our judgment. So long as the intellect
uses it and only it, or its analogues, to affirm, set aside or doubt,
it is called reason, and the truths thus obtained are definitive
acquisitions. Acquired one by one, the truths thus obtained have for
a long time remained scattered, in the shape of fragments; only
isolated sciences have existed or bits of science. About the middle of
the eighteenth century these separate parts became united and have
formed one body, a coherent system. Out of this, formerly called
philosophy, that is to say a view of nature as a whole, consisting of
perfect order on lasting foundations, a sort of universal network
which, suddenly enlarged, stretches beyond the physical world to the
moral world, taking in man and men, their faculties and their
passions, their individual and their collective works, various human
societies, their history, customs and institutions, their codes and
governments, their religions, languages, literatures and fine arts,
their agriculture, industries, property, the family and the rest.[33]
Then also, in each natural whole the simultaneous or successive parts
are connected together; a knowledge of their mutual ties is important,
and, in the spiritual order of things, one accomplishes this, as in
the material order, through scientific distrust, through critical
examination, by credible experimentation and process.[34]

Undoubtedly, in 1789, the work in common on this ground had resulted
only in false conceptions; but this is because instead of credible
processes another hasty, plausible, popular, risky and deceptive
method was applied. People wanted to go fast, conveniently, directly,
and, for guide, accepted unreason under the name of reason. Now, in
the light of disastrous experience, there was a return to the narrow,
stony, long and painful road which alone leads, both, in speculation,
to truth and, in practice, to salvation. - Besides, this second
conclusion, like the first one, was due to recent experience.
Henceforth it was evident that, in political and social matters, ideas
quickly descend from speculation to practice. When anybody talks to
me about stones, plants, animals and the stars I must, to listen, be
interested in these; if anybody talks to me about man and society, it
suffices that I am a man and a member of that society; for then it
concerns myself, my nearest, daily, most sensitive and dearest
interests; by virtue of being a tax-payer and a subject, a citizen and
an elector, a property-owner or a proletarian, a consumer or a
producer, a free-thinker or a Catholic, a father, son or husband, the
doctrine is addressed to me; to affect me it has only to be within
reach, through interpreters and others that promulgate it. - This
office appertains to writers great or small, particularly to the
educated who possess wit, imagination or eloquence, a pleasing style,
the art of finding readers or of making themselves understood. Owing
to their interposition, a doctrine wrought out by the specialist or
thinker in his study, spreads around through the novel, the theatre
and the lecture-room, by pamphlets, the newspaper, dictionaries,
manuals and conversation, and, finally, by teaching itself. It thus
enters all houses, knocks at the door of each intellect, and,
according as it works its way more or less forcibly, contributes more
or less effectively to make or unmake the ideas and sentiments that
adapt it to the social order of things in which it is comprised.

In this respect it acts like positive religions; in its way and on
many accounts, it is one of them. In the first place, like religion,
it is a living, principal, inexhaustible fountain-head, a high central
reservoir of active and directing belief. If the public reservoir is
not filled by an intermittent flow, by sudden freshets, by obscure
infiltrations of the mystic faculty, it is regularly and openly fed by
the constant contributions of the normal faculties. On the other
hand, confronting faith, by the side of that beneficent divination
which, answering the demands of conscience and the emotions, fashions
the ideal world and makes the real world conform to this, it poses the
testing process which, analyzing the past and the present, disengages
possible laws and the probabilities of the future. Doctrine likewise
has its dogmas, many definitive and others in the way of becoming so,
and hence a full and complete conception of things, vast enough and
clear enough, in spite of what it lacks, to take in at once nature and
humanity. It, too, gathers its faithful in a great church, believers
and semi believers, who, consequently or inconsequently, accept its
authority in whole or in part, listen to its preachers, revere its
doctors, and deferentially await the decisions of its councils. Wide-
spread, still uncertain and lax under a wavering hierarchy, the new
Church, for a hundred years past, is steadily in the way of
consolidation, of progressive ascendancy and of indefinite extension.
Its conquests are constantly increasing; sooner or later, it will be
the first of social powers. Even for the chief of an army, even for
the head of a State, even to Napoleon, it is well to become one of its
great dignitaries; the second title, in modern society, adds a
prestige to the first one: " Salary of His Majesty the Emperor and
King as member of the Institute, 1500 francs;" thus begins his civil
list, in the enumeration of receipts. Already in Egypt, intentionally
and for effect, he heads his proclamations with "Bonaparte, commander-
in chief, member of the Institute." "I am sure," he says, "that the
lowest drummer will comprehend it!"

Such a body, enjoying such credit, cannot remain independent.
Napoleon is not content to be one of its members. He wants to hold it
in his grasp, have it at his own disposition, and use it the same as a
member or, at least, contrive to get effective control of it. He has
reserved to himself an equally powerful one in the old Catholic
Church; he has reserved to himself like equivalents in the young lay
Church; and, in both cases, he limits them, and subjects them to all
the restrictions which a living body can support. In relation to
science and religion he might repeat word for word his utterances in
relation to religion and to faith. "Napoleon has no desire to change
the belief of his populations; he respects spiritual matters; he
wishes simply to dominate them without touching them, without
meddling with them; all he desires is to make them square with his
views, with his policy, but through the influence of temporalities."
To this end, he negotiated with the Pope, reconstructed, as he wanted
it, the Church of France, appointed bishops, restrained and directed
the canonical authorities. To this end, he settles matters with the
literary and scientific authorities, gets them together in a large
hall, gives them arm-chairs to sit in, gives by-laws to their groups,
a purpose and a rank in the State, in brief, he adopts, remakes, and
completes the "National Institute" of France.[35]

IV. Napoleon's stranglehold on science.

Hold of the government on the members of the Institute. - How he curbs
and keeps them down. - Circle in which lay power may act. - Favor and
freedom of the mathematical, physical and natural sciences. - Disfavor
and restrictions on the moral sciences. - Suppression of the class of
moral and political sciences. - They belong to the State, included in
the imperial domain of the Emperor. - Measures against Ideology,
philosophic or historic study of Law, Political Economy and
Statistics. - Monopoly of History.

This "National Institute," is the Government's tool and an
appendage of the State. This is in conformity with the traditions of
the old monarchy and with the plans, sketched out and decreed by the
revolutionary assemblies,[36] in conformity with the immemorial
principle of French law which enlarges the interference of the central
power, not only in relation to public instruction but to science,
literature and the fine arts. It is the State which has produced and
shaped it, which has given to it its title, which assigns it its
object, its location, its subdivisions, its dependencies, its
correspondences, its mode of recruitment, which prescribes its labors,
its reports, its quarterly and annual sessions, which gives it
employment and defrays its expenses. Its members receive a salary,
and "the subjects elected[37] must be confirmed by the First Consul."
Moreover, Napoleon has only to utter a word to insure votes for the
candidate whom he approves of, or to blackball the candidate whom he
dislikes. Even when confirmed by the head of the State, an election
can be cancelled by his successor; in 1816,[38] Monge, Carnot, Guyton
de Morveau, Grégoire, Garat, David and others, sanctioned by long
possession and by recognized merit, are to be stricken off the list.
By the same sovereign right, the State admits and excludes them, the
right of the creator over his creation, and, without pushing his right
as far as that, Napoleon uses it.

He holds the members of his Institute in check with singular rigidity,
even when, outside of the Institute and as private individuals, they
fail to observe in their writings the proper rules imposed on every
public body. The rod falls heavily on Jérôme de Lalande, the
mathematician and astronomer who continues the work of Montucla,
publicly and in a humiliating way, the blow being given by his
colleagues who are thus delegated for the purpose. "A member of the
Institute," says the imperial note,[39] "well known for his
attainments, but now fallen into an infantile state, is not wise
enough to keep his mouth shut, and tries to have himself talked about,
at one time by advertisements unworthy of his old reputation as well
as of the body to which he belongs, and again by openly professing
atheism, the great enemy of all social organization." Consequently,
the presidents and secretaries of the Institute, summoned by the
minister, notify the Institute "that it must send to M. de Lalande and
enjoin him not to print anything, not cast a shadow in his old age
over what he has done in his vigorous days to obtain the esteem of
savants." M. de Chateaubriand, in the draft for his admission
address, alluding to the revolutionary role of his predecessor, Marie
Chénier, observed that he could eulogize him only as the man of
letters,[40] and, in the reception committee, six out of twelve
academicians had accepted the draft. Thereupon, Fontanes, one of the
twelve, prudently abstains from going to Saint-Cloud. M. de Ségur,
however, president of the committee, he goes. In the evening, at the
coucher, Napoleon advances to him before the whole court and, in that
terrifying tone of voice which, even today, vibrates from the dead
lines of the silent page,

"Sir," says he to him, "do the literary people really desire to set
France ablaze? . . . How dare the Academy speak of regicides? . . . I
ought to put you and M. de Fontanes, as Councillor of State and Grand-
Master, in Vincennes. . . . You preside over the second division of
the Institute. I order you to inform it that I will not allow politics
at its sessions. . . . If the class disobeys I will put an end to it
as an objectionable club!"

Thus warned, the members of the Institute remain within the circle
traced out for them and, for many, the circle is sufficiently large.
Let the first division of the Institute, in the mathematical, physical
and natural sciences, Lagrange, Laplace, Legendre, Carnot, Biot,
Monge, Cassini, Lalande, Burckardt and Arago, Poisson, Berthollet,
Gay-Lussac, Guyton de Morveau, Vauquelin, Thénard and Haüy, Duhamel,
Lamarck, Jussieu, Mirbel, Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire and Cuvier, pursue
their researches; let Delambre and Cuvier, in their quarterly reports,
sum up and announce discoveries; let, in the second division of the
Institute, Volney, Destutt de Tracy, Andrieux, Picard, Lemercier and
Chateaubriand, if the latter desires to take part in its sittings,
give dissertations on language, grammar, rhetoric, rules of style and
of taste; let, in the third division of the Institute, Sylvestre de
Sacy publish his Arabic grammar; let Langlés continue his Persian,
Indian and Tartar studies; let Quatremère de Quincy, explaining the
structure of the great chryselephantine statues, reproduce
conjecturally the surface of ivory and the internal framework of the
Olympian Jupiter; let D'Ansse de Villoison discover in Venice the
commentary of the Alexandrian critics on Homer; let Larcher,
Boissonade, Clavier, alongside of Coraÿ publish their editions of the
old Greek authors - all this causes no trouble, and all is for the
honor of the government. Their credit reflects on the avowed
promoter, the official patron and responsible director of science,
erudition and talent therefore, in his own interest, he favors and
rewards them. Laurent de Jussieu and Cuvier are titular councillors of
the University, Delambre is its treasurer, and Fontanes its Grand-
Master. Delille, Boissonade and Royer-Collard and Guizot teach in the
faculty of letters; Biot, Poisson, Gay-Lussac, Haüy, Thénard,
Brongniart, Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire in the faculty of the sciences;
Monge, Berthollet, Fourier, Andrieux in the Ecole Polytechnique;
Pinel, Vauquelin, Jussieu, Richerand, Dupuytren in the Ecole de
Médecine. Fourcroy is councillor of State, Laplace and Chaptal, after
having been ministers, become senators; in 1813, there are twenty-
three members of the Institute in the Senate; the zoologist Lacépede
is grand-chancellor of the Legion of Honor; while fifty-six members of
the Institute, decorated with an imperial title, are chevaliers,
barons, dukes, and even princes.[41] - This is even one more lien,
admirably serving to bind them to the government more firmly and to
in-corporate them more and more in the system. In effect, they now
derive their importance and their living from the system and the
government; having become dignitaries and functionaries they possess a
password in this twofold capacity; henceforth, they will do well to
look upward to the master before expressing a thought and to know how
far the password allows them to think.

In this respect, the First Consul's intentions are clear from the very
first day: In his reconstruction of the Institute[42] he has
suppressed "the division of moral and political sciences," and
consequently the first four sections of this division, "analysis of
sensations and ideas, moral science, social science and legislation,
and political economy." He thus cuts off the main branch with its four
distinct branches, and what he keeps or tolerates he trims and grafts
or fastens on to another branch of the third class, that of the
erudites and antiquaries. The latter may very well occupy themselves
with political and moral sciences but only "in their relations with
history," and especially with ancient history. General conclusions,
applicable theories, on account of their generality, to late events
and to the actual situation are unnecessary; even as applied to the
State in the abstract, and in the cold forms of speculative
discussion, they are forbidden. The First Consul, on the strength of
this, in connection with "Dernières vues de politique et de finances,
published by Necker, has set forth his exact rule and his threatening

"Can you imagine," says he to Roederer, "that any man, since I became
head of the State, could propose three sorts of government for France?
Never shall the daughter of M. Necker come back to Paris!"

She would then get to be a distinct center of political opinion while
only one is necessary, that of the First Consul in his Council of
State. Again, this council itself is only half competent and at best

"You yourselves do not know what government is.[43] You have no idea
of it. I am the only one, owing to my position, that can know what a
government is."

On this sphere, and everywhere on its undefined perimeter, afar, as
far away as his piercing eye can penetrate, no independent way of
thinking must be conceived or, especially, published.

In particular, the foremost and guiding science of the analysis of the
human understanding, pursued according to the methods and after the
examples furnished by Locke, Hume, Condillac and Destutt de Tracy,
ideology is forbidden.

"It is owing to ideology," he says,[44] "to that metaphysical
obscurity which, employing its subtleties in trying to get at first
causes, seeks to base the legislation of a people on that foundation,
instead of appropriating laws to a knowledge of the human heart and
the lessons of history, that all the misfortunes of our beautiful
France must be attributed."

In 1806, M. de Tracy, unable to print his "Commentaire sur l'Esprit
des Lois" in France, sends it to the president of the United States,
Jefferson, who translates it into English, publishes it anonymously,
and has it taught in his schools.[45] About the same date, the
republication of the "Traité d'économie-politique" of J. -B. Say is
prohibited, the first edition of which, published in 1804, was soon
exhausted.[46] In 1808, all publications of local and general
statistics, formerly incited and directed by Chaptal, were interrupted
and stopped; Napoleon always demands figures, but he keeps them for
himself; if divulged they would prove inconvenient, and henceforth
they become State secrets. The same precautions and the same rigor are
extended to books on law, even technical, and against a "Précis
historique du droit Romain." "This work," says the censorship, "might
give rise to a comparison between the progress of authority under
Augustus and that going on under the reign of Napoleon, in such a way
as to produce a bad effect on public opinion."[47] In effect,
nothing is more dangerous than history, for it is composed, not of
general propositions that are unintelligible except to the meditative,
but of particular facts accessible and interesting to the first one
that comes along.

For this reason, not only the science of sensations and of ideas,
philosophic law and comparative law, politics and moral law, the
science of wealth and statistics, but again, and especially, the
history of France, is a State affair, an object of government; for no
object affects the government more nearly; no study contributes so
much towards strengthening or weakening the ideas and impressions
which shape public opinion for or against him.[48] It is not
sufficient to superintend this history, to suppress it if need be, to
prevent it from being a poor one; it must again be ordered, inspired

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