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

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

Part 5 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

and manufactured, that it may be a good one.

"There is no work more important.[49] . . . I do not count the
expense in this regard. It is even my intention to make the minister
ensure that this work is under my protection.."

Above all, the attitude of the authors who write should be made sure
of. "Not only must this work be entrusted to authors of real talent,
but again to attached men, who will present facts in this true light
and prepare healthy instruction by bringing history down to the year
VIII." But this instruction can be healthy only through a series of
preliminary and convergent judgments, insinuating into all minds the
final approval and well-founded admiration of the existing régime.
Accordingly, the historian must feel at each line" the defects of the
ancient régime, "the influence of the court of Rome, of confessional
tickets, of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, of the ridiculous
marriage of Louis XIV. with Madame de Maintenon, the perpetual
disorder in the finances, the pretensions of the parliament, the want
of rules and leadership in the administration, . . in such a way that
one breathes on reaching the epoch when one enjoys the benefits of
that which is due to the unity of the laws, administration and
territory." The constant feebleness of the government under Louis
XIV, even, under Louis XV. and Louis XVI., "should inspire the need of
sustaining the newly accomplished work and its acquired
preponderance." On the 18th of Brumaire (19-11-1799), France came
into port; the Revolution must be spoken of only as a final, fatal and
inevitable tempest.[50] "When that work, well done and written in a
right direction, appears, nobody will have the will or the patience to
write another, especially when, far from being encouraged by the
police, one will be discouraged by it." In this way, the government
which, in relation to the young, has awarded to itself the monopoly of
teaching, awards to itself in relation to adults, the monopoly of

V. On Censorship under Napoleon.

Measures against writers so called and popularizers. - Censorship,
control of theaters, publications and printing. - Extent and
minuteness of the repression. - Persistency in direction and
impulsion. - The logical completeness and beauty of the whole system
his final object. - How he accomplishes his own destruction.

If Napoleon in this manner takes precautions against those who think,
it is only because their thoughts, should they be written down, might
reach the public,[51] and only the sovereign alone has the right to
talk in public. Between writer and readers, every communication is
intercepted beforehand by a triple and quadruple line of defenses
through which a long, tortuous and narrow wicket is the only passage,
and where the manuscript, like a bundle of suspicious goods, is
overhauled and repeatedly verified after having obtained its free
certificate and its permit of circulation. Napoleon declares "the
printing-office[52] to be an arsenal which must not be within the
reach of everybody. . . It is very important for me that only those
be allowed to print who have the confidence of the government. A man
who addresses the public in print is like the man who speaks in public
in an assembly, and certainly no one can dispute the sovereign's right
to prevent the first comer from haranguing the public." - On the
strength of this, he makes publishing a privileged, authorized and
regulated office of the State. The writer, consequently, before
reaching the public, must previously undergo the scrutiny of the
printer and bookseller, who, both responsible, sworn and patented,
will take good care not to risk their patent, the loss of their daily
bread, ruin, and, besides this, a fine and imprisonment. - In the
second place, the printer, the bookseller and the author are obliged
to place the manuscript or, by way of toleration, the work as it goes
through the press, in the hands of the official censors;[53] the
latter read it and make their weekly report to the general director of
publications; they indicate the good or bad spirit of the work, the
"unsuitable or forbidden passages according to circumstances," the
intended, involuntary or merely possible allusions; they exact the
necessary suppressions, rectifications and additions. The publisher
obeys, the printers furnish proofs, and the author has submitted; his
proceedings and attendance in the bureaux are at end. He thinks
himself safe in port, but he is not.

Through an express reservation, the director-general always has the
right to suppress works, "even after they have been examined, printed
and authorized to appear." In addition to this, the minister of the
police,[54] who, above the director-general, likewise has his
censorship bureau, may, in his own right, place seals on the sheets
already printed, destroy the plates and forms in the printing-office,
send a thousand copies of the "Germany" by Madame de Staël to the
paper-mill, "take measures to see that not a sheet remains," demand of
the author his manuscript, recover from the author's friends the two
copies he has lent to them, and take back from the director-general
himself the two copies for his service locked up in a drawer in his
cabinet. - Two years before this, Napoleon said to Auguste de

"Your mother is not bad. She has intelligence, a good deal of
intelligence. But she is unaccustomed to any kind of discipline. She
would not be six months in Paris before I should be obliged to put her
in the Temple or at Bicêtre. I should be sorry to do this, because it
would make a noise and that would injure me in public Opinion."

It makes but little difference whether she abstains from talking
politics: "people talk politics in talking about literature, the fine
arts and morality, about everything in the world; women should busy
themselves with their knitting," and men keep silent or, if they do
talk, let it be on a given subject and in the sense prescribed.

Of course, the inspection of publications is still more rigorous and
more repressive, more exacting and more persistent. - At the theatre,
where the assembled spectators become enthusiastic through the quick
contagion of their sensibilities, the police cut out of the
"Heraclius" of Corneille and the "Athalie" of Racine[56] from twelve
to twenty-five consecutive lines and patch up the broken passages as
carefully as possible with lines or parts of lines of their own. - On
the periodical press, on the newspaper which has acquired a body of
readers and which exercises an influence and groups its subscribers
according to an opinion, if not political, at least philosophic and
literary, there is a compression which goes even as far as utter ruin.
From the beginning of the Consulate,[57] sixty out of seventy-three
political journals are suppressed; in 1811, the thirteen that still
existed are reduced to four and the editors-in-chief are appointed by
the minister of police. The property of these journals, on the other
hand, is confiscated, while the Emperor, who had taken it, concedes
it, one third to his police and the other two thirds to people of the
court or littérateurs who are his functionaries or his creatures.
Under this always aggravated system the newspapers, from year to year,
become so barren that the police, to interest and amuse the public,
contrive a pen warfare in their columns between one amateur of French
music and one of Italian music.

Books, almost as rigorously kept within bounds, are mutilated or
prevented from appearing.[58] Chateaubriand is forbidden to reprint
his "Essay on Revolutions," published in London under the Directory.
In "L'Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem" he is compelled to cut out "a
good deal of declamation on courts, courtiers and certain features
calculated to excite misplaced allusions." The censorship interdicts
the " Dernier des Abencerrages," where" it finds too warm an interest
in the Spanish cause." One must read the entire register to see it at
work and in detail, to feel the sinister and grotesque minutia with
which it pursues and destroys, not alone among great or petty writers
but, again, among compilers and insignificant abbreviators, in a
translation, in a dictionary, in a manual, in an almanac, not only
ideas but suggestions, echoes, semblances and oversights in thinking,
the possibilities of awakening reflection and comparison :

* every souvenir of the ancient régime, this or that mention of Kléber
or Moreau, or a particular conversation of Sully and Henry IV.;

* "a game of loto,[59] which familiarizes youth with the history of
their country," but which says too much about "the family of the
grand-dauphin of Louis XVI. and his aunts";

* the general work of the reveries of Cagliostro and of M. Henri de
Saint-Mesmin, very laudatory of the Emperor, excellent "for filling
the soul of Frenchmen with his presence, but which must leave out
three awkward comparisons that might be detected by the malevolent or
the foolish;"

* the "translation into French verse of several of David's psalms,"
which are not dangerous in Latin but which, in French, have the defect
of a possible application, through coincidence and prophecy, to the
Church as suffering, and to religion as persecuted;

and quantities of other literary insects hatched in the depths of
publication, nearly all ephemeral, crawling and imperceptible, but
which the censor, through zeal and his trade, considers as fearsome
dragons whose heads must be smashed or their teeth extracted.

After the next brood they prove inoffensive, and, better still, are
useful, especially the almanacs,[60] "in rectifying on various points
the people's attitudes. It will probably be possible after 1812 to
control their composition, and they are filled with anecdotes, songs
and stories adapted to the maintenance of patriotism and of devotion
to the sacred person of His Majesty and to the Napoleonic dynasty." -
To this end, the police likewise improves, orders and pays for
dramatic or lyric productions of all kinds, cantatas, ballets,
impromptus, vaudevilles, comedies, grand-operas, comic operas, a
hundred and seventy-six works in one day, composed for the birth of
the King of Rome and paid for in rewards to the sum of 88,400 francs.
Let the administration look to this beforehand so as to raise up
talent and have it bear good fruit. "Complaints are made because we
have no literature;[61] it is the fault of the minister of the
interior. Napoleon personally and in the height of a campaign
interposes in theatrical matters. Whether far away in Prussia or at
home in France, he leads tragic authors by the hand, Raynouard,
Legouvé, Luce de Lancival; he listens to the first reading of the
"Mort d'Henri IV." and the "États de Blois." He gives to Gardel, a
ballet-composer, "a fine theme in the Return of Ulysses." He explains
to authors how dramatic effect should, in their hands, become a
political lesson; for lack of anything better, and waiting for these
to comprehend it, he uses the theatre the same as a tribune for the
reading to the spectators of his bulletins of the grand army.

On the other hand, in the daily newspapers, he is his own advocate,
the most vehement, the haughtiest, the most powerful of polemics. For
a long time, in the "Moniteur," he himself dictates articles which are
known by his style. After Austerlitz, he has no time to do this, but
he inspires them all and they are prepared under his orders. In the
"Moniteur" and other gazettes, it is his voice which, directly or by
his spokesmen, reaches the public; it alone prevails and one may
divine what it utters! The official acclaim of every group or
authority in the State again swell the one great, constant, triumphant
adulatory hymn which, with its insistence, unanimity and violent
sonorities, tends to bewilder all minds, deaden consciences and
pervert the judgment.

"Were it open to doubt," says a member of the tribunate,[62] "whether
heaven or chance gives sovereigns on earth, would it not be evident
for us that we owe our Emperor to some divinity?"

Another of the choir then takes up the theme in a minor key and thus
sings the victory of Austerlitz:

"Europe, threatened by a new invasion of the barbarians, owes its
safety to the genius of another Charles Martel."

Similar cantatas follow, intoned in the senate and lower house by
Lacépède, Pérignon and Garat, and then, in each diocese, by the
bishops, some of whom, in their pastoral letters, raise themselves up
to the technical considerations of military art, and, the better to
praise the Emperor, explain to their parishioners the admirable
combinations of his strategic genius.

And truly, his strategy is admirable, lately against Catholic ideas
and now against the secular mind. First of all, he has extended,
selected and defined his field of operations, and here is his
objective point, fixed by himself:

"On public affairs, which are my affairs in political, social and
moral matters, on history, and especially on actual history, recent
and modern, nobody of the present generation is to give any thought
but myself and, in the next generation, everybody will follow my

The monopoly of education therefore belongs to him. He has
introduced military uniforms, discipline and spirit into all the
public and private secondary educational establishments. He has
reduced and subjected the ecclesiastical superintendence of primary
education to the minimum. He has removed the last vestige of regional,
encyclopedic and autonomous universities and substituted for these
special and professional schools, He has rendered veritable superior
instruction abortive and stifled all spontaneous and disinterested
curiosity in youth. - Meanwhile ascending to the source of secular
knowledge, he has brought the Institute under his influence. On this
government tool he has effected the necessary cuts, appropriated the
credit to himself and imposed his favor or disfavor on the masters of
science and literature. Then, descending from the source to the
canals, constructing dams, arranging channels, applying his
constraints and impulsions, he has subjected science and literature to
his police, to his censorship and to his control of publishing and
printing. He has taken possession of all the media - theatres,
newspapers, books, pulpits and tribunes. He has organized all these
into one vast industry which he watches over and directs, a factory of
public attitudes which works unceasingly and in his hands to the
glorification of his system, reign and person.[64] Again here, he is
found equal and similar to himself, a stern conqueror making the most
of his conquest to the last extreme, a shrewd operator as meticulous
as he is shrewd, as resourceful as he is consequent, incomparable in
adapting means to ends, unscrupulous in carrying them out,[65] fully
satisfied that, through the constant physical pressure of universal
and crushing dread, all resistance would be overcome. He is
maintaining and prolonging the struggle with colossal forces, but
against a historic and natural force lying beyond his grasp, lately
against belief founded on religious instinct and on tradition, and now
against evidence engendered by realities and by the agency of the
testing process. Consequently, obliged to forbid the testing process,
to falsify things, to disfigure the reality, to deny the evidence, to
lie daily and each day more outrageously,[66] to accumulate glaring
acts so as to impose silence, to arouse by this silence and by these
lies[67] the attention and perspicacity of the public, to transform
almost mute whispers into sounding words and insufficient eulogies
into open protestations. In short, weakened by his own success and
condemned beforehand to succumb under his victories, to disappear
after a short triumph, Napoleon will leave intact and erect the
indestructible rival (science and knowledge) whom he would like to
crush as an adversary but turn to account as an instrument.[68]



[1] Lamennais, "Du Progrès de la Révolution," p.163.

[2] Any socialist or social-nationalist leader would undoubtedly have
been impressed by Napoleon's ability to control and dominate his
admiring people and do their best to copy his methods. (SR.)

[3] "The Modern Régime," I., 247.

[4] Pelet de la Lozère, p. 159.

[5] Maggiolo, "Les Écoles en Lorraine avant et aprés 1789," 3rd part,
p.22 and following pages. (Details on the foundation or the revival of
primary schools in four departments after 1802.) Sometimes, the master
is the one who taught before 1789, and his salary is always the same
as at that time; I estimate that, in a village of an average size, he
might earn in all between 500 and 600 francs a year; his situation
improves slowly and remains humble and wretched down to the law of
1833. - There are no normal schools for the education of primary
instructors except one at Strasbourg established in 1811 by the
prefect, and the promise of another after the return from Elba, April
27, 1815. Hence the teaching staff is of poor quality, picked up here
and there haphazard. But, as the small schools satisfy a felt want,
they increase. In 1815, there are more than 22,000, about as many as
in 1789; in the four departments examined by M. Maggiolo there are
almost as many as there are communes. - Nevertheless, elsewhere, "in
certain departments, it is not rare to find twenty or thirty communes
in one arrondissement with only one schoolmaster. . . . One who can
read and write is consulted by his neighbors the same as a doctor." -
("Ambroise Rendu," by E. Rendu, p.107, Report of 1817.)

[6] Decree of May 1, 1802, articles 2, 4 and 5. - Decree of March 17,
1808, articles 5, 8 and 117.

[7] E. Rendu, Ibid., pp.39 and 41

[8] Id., ibid., 41. (Answers of approval of the bishops, letter of the
archbishop of Bordeaux, May 29, 1808.) "There are only too many
schools whose instructors neither give lessons nor set examples of
Catholicism or even of Christianity. It is very desirable that these
wicked men should not be allowed to teach."

[9] Decree of Nov. 15, 1911, article 192. - Cf. the decree of March
17, 1808, article 6. "The small primary schools are those where one
learns to read, write and cipher." -Ibid., § 3, article 5, definition
of boarding-schools and secondary communal schools. This definition is
rendered still more precise in the decree of Nov.15, 1811, article 16.

[10] Pelet de la Lozère, ibid. 175. (Words of Napoleon before the
Council of State, May 21, 180.)

[11] Alexis Chevalier, "Les Frères des éco1es chrétiennes pendant la
Révolution, " 93. (Report by Portalis approved by the First Consul,
Frimaire 10, year XII.)

[12] Like in the socialist and national-socialist parties and trade
unions which were to dominate the Western democracies throughout the
20th century. (SR.)

[13] "Ambroise Rendu," by E. Rendu, P.42.

[14] D'Haussonville, "L'Église romaine et le premier Empire," II.,257,
266. (Report of Portalis to the Emperor, Feb. 13, 1806.)

[15] Here Taine describes what today is often named as being the "
state of the art. " (SR.)

[16] Cuvier, "Rapport sur l'instruction publique dans les nouveaux
départements de la basse Allemagne, fait en exécution du décret du 13
novembre 1810," pp. 4-8. "The principle and aim of each university is
to have courses of lectures on every branch of human knowledge if
there are any pupils who desire this. . . No professor can hinder his
colleague from treating the same subjects as himself; most of their
increase depends on the remuneration of the pupils which excites the
greatest emulation in their work." - The university, generally, is in
some small town; the student has no society but that of his comrades
and his professors; again, the university has jurisdiction over him
and itself exercises its rights of oversight and police. "Living in
their families, with no public amusements, with no distractions, the
middle-class Germans, especially in North Germany, regard reading,
study and meditation as their chief pleasures and main necessity; they
study to learn rather than to prepare themselves for a lucrative
profession.. . . .The theologian scrutinizes even to their roots the
truth of morality and of natural theology. As to positive religion he
wishes to know its history and will study in the original tongue
sacred writings and all the languages relating to it that may throw
light on it; he desires to possess the details of Church history and
become acquainted with the usages of one century after another and the
motives of the changes which took place. - The law student is not
content with a knowledge of the code of his country ; in his studies
everything must be related to the general principles of natural and
political laws. He must know the history of rights at all epochs, and,
consequently, he has need of the political history of nations; he must
be familiar with the various European constitutions, and be able to
read the diplomas and charters of all ages; the complex German
legislation obliges him, and will for a long time, to know the canon
laws of both religious, of feudal and public law, as well as of civil
and criminal law; and if the means of verifying at its sources all
that is taught to him are not afforded to him, he regards instruction
as cut short and insufficient."

[17] Louis Liard, " L'Enseignement supérieur en France, " pp.307-309

[18] Two prisons at the time.(SR.)

[19] Comte Chaptal, "Notes." - Chaptal, a bright scholar, studied in
his philosophy class at Rodez under M. Laguerbe, a highly esteemed
professor. "Everything was confined to unintelligible discussions on
metaphysics and to the puerile subtleties of logic." This lasted two
years. Public discussions by the pupils were held three or four hours
long; the bishop, the noblesse, the full chapter attended at these
scholastic game-cock fights. Chaptal acquired a few correct notions of
geometry, algebra and the planetary system, but outside of that, he
says, "I got nothing out of it but a great facility in speaking Latin
and a passion for caviling."

[20] Useful qualities for an administrator, anytime anywhere. (SR.)

[21] The Grande Ecoles today in 1998 produce first of all a special
type of engineer, a general engineer, specialist in nothing but highly
trained in mathematics, physics and chemistry. This education is
found, either in Ecole Centrale, mainly providing private enterprise
with engineers, and Polytechnique, mainly providing the State with
engineers. Specialist engineers, in construction, chemistry,
electronics, electricity etc. are produced by a few dozens prestigious
engineering or commercial schools which admit the students who have
completed 2 or 3 years of preparatory school and successfully competed
for the more popular schools. The special schools Taine talks about
are the precursors of a great many of the schools available in France
today. The principle of admission by concurs is still in use and
produce engineers who are able and willing to work hard, engineers who
are competent but often a bit proud and overly sure of themselves.

[22] Louis Liard, "Universités et Facultés," pp. 1-12.

[23] Pelet de la Lozère, 176 (Session of the Council of State, May 21,

[24] Liard, "L'Enseignement supérieur en France," 71, 73. "In the
law schools, say the memorials of 1789, there is not the fiftieth part
of the pupils who attend the professors' lectures." - Fourcroy, "
Exposé des motifs de la loi concernant les Ecoles de droit," March 13,
1804. "In the old law faculties the studies were of no account,
inexact and rare, the lectures being neglected or not attended. Notes
were bought instead of being taken. Candidates were received so easily
that the examinations no longer deserved their name. Bachelor's
degrees and others were titles bought without study or trouble." - Cf
the "Mémoires " of Brissot and the "Souvenirs of d'Audifret-Pasquier,"
both of them law students before 1789. - M. Léo de Savigny, in his
recent work, "Die französischen Rechts facultäten" (p.74 et seq.)
refers to other authorities not less decisive.

[25] Reference is made to the synopsis of the Justitian code of civil
and other Roman laws. (SR.)

[26] Treaty of law written Roman jurists under Justitian in 533. (SR.)

[27] Decree of March 19, 1807, articles 42, 45.

[28] The French Supreme Court. (SR.)

[29] Courcelle-Seneuil, "Préparation à l'étude du droit " (1887), pp.
5, 6 (on the teaching of law by the Faculty of Paris).

[30] Léo de Savigny, ibid., p. 161.

[31] Bréa1, "Quelques mots sur l'instruction publique" (1892), pp.
327, 341. - Liard, "Universités et Facultés," p.13 et seq.

[32] Act of Jan.23, 1803, for the organization of the Institute.

[33] Voltaire's "Essai sur les mœurs" is of 1756; "L'Esprit des Lois"
by Montesquieu also, in 1754, and his "Traité des Sensations." The
"Emile" of Rousseau is of 1762; the "Traité de la formation mécanique
des langues," by de Brosses, is of 1765; the "Physiocratie" by Quesnay
appeared in 1768, and the "Encyclopédie" between 1750 and 1765.

[34] On the equal value of the testing process in moral and physical
sciences, David Hume, in 1737, stated the matter decisively in his
"Essay on Human Nature." Since that time, and particularly since the
"Compte-rendu" by Necker, but especially in our time, statistics have
shown that the near or remote determining motives of human action are
powers (Grandeurs) expressed by figures, interdependent, and which
warrant, here as elsewhere, precise and numerical foresight.

[35] What an impression Taine's description of Napoleon's set-up must
have had on Hitler, Lenin and, possibly Stalin and their successors.

[36] Cf. Liard, "L'Enseignement supérieur en France," vol. I., in
full. - Also the law of Brumaire 3, year Iv. (Oct.25, 1795), on the
primitive organization of the Institute.

[37] Decree of Jan. 23, 1803.

[38] Decree of March 21, 1816

[39] "Corréspondance de Napoléon," letters to M. de Champagny, Dec.13,
1805, and Jan. 3, 1806. "I see with pleasure the promise made by M. de
Lalande and what passed on that occasion."

[40] De Ségur, "Mémoires," III., 457. - " M. de Chateaubriand composed
his address with a good deal of skill; he evidently did not wish to
offend any of his colleagues without even excepting Napoleon. He
lauded with great eloquence the fame of the Emperor and exalted the
grandeur of republican sentiments." In explanation of and excusing his
silence and omissions regarding his regicide predecessor, he likened
Chénier to Milton and remarked that, for forty years, the same silence
had been observed in England with reference to Milton.

[41] Edmond Leblanc, "Napoléon 1ere et ses institutions civiles eL
administratives," pp. 225-233. - Annuaire de 1'Institut for 1813

[42] Law of Oct. 25, 1795, and act of Jan. 23, 1803.

[43] Rœderer, III., 548. - Id., III., 332 (Aug. 2, 1801).

[44] Welschinger," La Censure sous le premier Empire," p.440. (Speech
by Napoleon to the Council of State, Dec.20, 1812.) - Merlet, "Tableau
de la littérature française de 1800 à 1815," I., 128. M. Royer-Collard
had just given his first lecture at the Sorbonne to an audience of
three hundred persons against the philosophy of Locke and Condillac
(1811). Napoleon, having read the lecture, says on the following day
to Talleyrand: "Do you know, Monsieur le Grand-Electeur, that a new
and very important philosophy is appearing in my University . . .
which may well rid us entirely of the ideologists by killing them on
the spot with reason? " - Royer-Collard, on being informed of this
eulogium, remarked to some of his friends: "The Emperor is mistaken.
Descartes is more disobedient to despotism than Locke."

[45] Mignet, "Notices et Portraits." (Eulogy of M. de Tracy.)

[46] J.-B. Say, "Traité d'économie-politique," 2d ed., 1814 (Notice).
"The press was no longer free. Every exact presentation of things
received the censure of a government founded on a lie."

[47] Welschinger, p. 160 (Jan. 24, 1810). - Villemain, "Souvenirs
contemporains," vol. I., p. 180. After 1812, "it is literally exact to
state that every emission of written ideas, every historical mention,
even the most remote and most foreign, became a daring and suspicious
matter." - (Journal of Sir John Malcolm, Aug. 4, 1815, visit to
Langlès, the orientalist, editor of Chardin, to which he has added
notes, one of which is on the mission to Persia of Sir John Malcolm)
"He at first said to me that he had followed another author:
afterwards he excused himself by alleging the system of Bonaparte,
whose censors, he said, not only cut out certain passages, but added
others which they believed helped along his plans."

[48] Reading this Lenin and others like him undoubtedly would agree
with Napoleon and therefore liberally fund plans to place agents and
controllers in all the Universities in the World hence ensuring
politically correct attitudes. (SR.)

[49] Merlet, ibid. (According to the papers of M. de Fontanes, II.

[50] Id., Ibid. "Care must be taken to avoid all reaction in speaking
of the Revolution. No man could oppose it. Blame belongs neither to
those who have perished nor to those who survived it. It was not in
any individual might to change the elements and foresee events born
out of the nature of things."

[51] Villemain, Ibid., I., 145. (Words of M. de Narbonne on leaving
Napoleon after several interviews with him in 1812.) "The Emperor, so
powerful, 50 victorious is disturbed by only one thing in this world
and that is by people who talk, and, in default of these, by those who
think. And yet he seems to like them or, at least, cannot do without

[52] Welschinger, ibid., p.30. (Session of the Council of State,
Dec.12, 1809)

[53] Welschinger, ibid., pp.31, 33, 175, 190. (Decree of Feb.5, 1810.)
- "Revue Critique," Sep. 1870. (Weekly bulletin of the general
direction of publicauons for the last three months of 1810 and the
first three months of 1814, published by Charles Thursot.)

[54] Collection of laws and decrees, vol. XII., p.170. " When the
censors shall have examined a work and allowed the publication of it,
the publishers shall be authorized to have it printed. But the
minister of the police shall still have the right to suppress it
entirely if he thinks proper." - Welschinger, ibid., pp. 346-374.

[55] Welschinger, ibid., pp. 173, 175.

[56] Id., ibid., pp. 223, 231, 233. (The copy of "Athalie" with the
erasures of the police still exists in the prompter's library of the
Théâtre Français.) - Id., ibid., p 244. (Letter of the secretary-
general of the police to the weekly managers of the Théâtre Français,
Feb. 1, 1809, In relation to the "Mort d'Hector," by Luce de
Lancival.) " Messieurs, His Excellency, the minister-senator, has
expressly charged me to request the suppression of the following lines
on the stage - 'Hector': Déposez un moment ce fer toujours
vainqueur,Cher Hector, et craignez de laisser le bonheur."

[57] Welschinger, ibid., p. 13. (Act of Jan. 17, 1800.) - 117, 118.
(Acts of Feb. 18, 1811, and Sep. 17, 1813.) - 119, 129. (No indemnity
for legitimate owners. The decree of confiscation states in principle
that the ownership of journals can become property only by virtue of
an express concession made by the sovereign, that this concession was
not made to the actual founders and proprietors and that their claim
is null.)

[58] Id.. ibid., pp.196, 201.

[59] "Revue critique," ibid., pp.142, 146, 149.

[60] Welschinger, ibid., p. 251.

[61] "Corréspondance de Napoléon Iere." (Letter of the Emperor to
Cambacérès, Nov.21, 1806.) - Letters to Fouché, Oct.25 and Dec. 31,
1806.) - Welschinger, ibid., pp.236, 244.

[62] "Moniteur," Jan. I, 1806. (Tribunate, session of Nivôse 9, year
XIV., speeches of MM. Albisson and Gillet. - Senate, speeches of MM.
Pérignon, Garat, de Lacépède.) - In the following numbers we find
municipal addresses, letters of bishops and the odes of poets in the
same strain. - In the way of official enthusiasm take the following
two fine examples. ("Debats," March 29, 1811.) "The Paris municipal
council deliberated on the vote of a pension for life of 10,000 francs
in favor of M. de Govers, His Majesty's second page, for bringing to
the Hôtel de Ville the joyful news of the birth of the King of Rome. .
. . Everybody was charmed with his grace and presence of mind." -
Faber, "Notices sur l'intérieur de France," p.25. "I know of a
tolerably large town which could not light its lamps in 1804, on
account of having sent its mayor to Paris at the expense of the
commune to see Bonaparte crowned."

[63] Taine here explains the method which was to be copied by all the
totalitarian leaders of the 20th century, especially by the ever
present communist-socialist-revolutionary organizations and their more
or less hidden leaders. (SR.)

[64] Lenin, Stalin and their successors must all have found this idea
interesting and did also proceed to put much of the media in the world
under their control. (SR.)

[65] Faber, ibid., p. 32 (1807). "I saw one day a physician, an honest
man, unexpectedly denounced for having stated in a social gathering in
the town some observations on the medical system under the existing
government. The denunciator, a French employee, was the physician's
friend and denounced him because he was afraid of being denounced
himself." - Count Chaptal, "Notes." Enumeration of the police forces
which control and complete each other. "Besides the minister and the
prefect of police Napoleon had three directors-general residing at
Paris and also in superintendence of the departments; . . besides,
commissioners-general of police in all the large towns and special
commissioners in all others; moreover, the gendarmerie, which daily
transmitted a bulletin of the situation all over France to the
inspector-general; again, reports of his aids and generals, of his
guard on supplementary police, the most dangerous of all to persons
about the court and to the principal agents of the administration;
finally, several special police-bodies to render to him an account of
what passed among savants, tradesmen and soldiers. All this
correspondence reached him at Moscow as at the Tuileries."

[66] Faber, ibid. (1807), p.35. "Lying, systematically organized,
forming the basis of government and consecrated in public acts,.. .
the abjuring of all truth, of all personal conviction, is the
characteristic of the administrators as presenting to view the acts,
sentiments and ideas of the government, which makes use of them for
scenic effect in the pieces it gives on the theatre of the world. . .
. The administrators do not believe a word they say, nor those

[67] The following two confidential police reports show, among many
others, the sentiments of the public and the usefulness of repressive
measures. (Archives nationales, F.7, 3016, Report of the commissioner-
general of Marseilles for the second quarter of 1808.) "Events in
Spain have largely fixed, and essentially fixed, attention. In vain
would the attentive observer like to conceal the truth on this point;
the fact is that the Spanish revolution is unfavorably looked upon. It
was at first thought that the legitimate heir would succeed to Charles
IV. The way in which people have been undeceived has given the public
a direction quite opposite to the devoted ideas of His Majesty the
Emperor. . . No generous soul. . . rises to the level of the great
continental cause." - Ibid. (Report for the second quarter of 1809.)
"I have posted observers in the public grounds. . . . As a result of
these measures, of this constant vigilance, of the care I have taken
to summon before me the heads of public establishments when I have
ascertained that the slightest word has been spoken, I attain the end
proposed. But I am assured that if the fear of the upper police did
not restrain the disturbers, the brawlers, they would publicly express
an opinion contrary to the principles of the government. . . . Public
opinion is daily going down. There is great misery and consternation.
Murmurs are not openly heard, but discontent exists among citizens
generally. . . . The continental war. the naval warfare, events in
Rome, Spain and Germany, the absolute cessation of trade, the
conscription, the droits unis. . . are all so many motives of
corruption of the public mind. Priests and devotees, merchants and
proprietors, artisans, workmen, the people in fine, everybody is
discontented. . . . In general, they are insensible to the continental
victories. All classes of citizens are much more sensitive to the
levies of the conscription than to the successes which come from

[68] There is here, 100 years later, a message for us about the
enormous force which, under the name of politically correct, is
haunting our media, our universities and our political life. (SR.)

CHAPTER III. Evolution between 1814 and 1890.

I. Evolution of the Napoleonic machine.

History of the Napoleonic machine. - The first of its two arms,
operating on adults, is dislocated and breaks. - The second, which
operates on youth, works intact until 1850. - Why it remains intact. -
Motives of governors. - Motives of the governed.

AFTER him, the springs of his machine relax; and so do, naturally, the
two groups controlled by the machine. The first, that of adult men,
frees itself the most and the soonest: during the following half
century, we see the preventive or repressive censorship of books,
journals and theatres, every special instrument that gags free speech,
relaxing its hold, breaking down bit by bit and at last tumbling to
the ground. Even when again set up and persistently and brutally
applied, old legal muzzles are never to become as serviceable as
before. No government will undertake, like that of Napoleon, to stop
at once all outlets of written thought; some will always remain more
or less open. Even during the rigorous years of the Restoration and
of the second Empire the stifling process is to diminish; mouths open
and there is some way of public expression, at least in books and
likewise through the press, provided one speaks discreetly and
moderately in cool and general terms and in a low, even tone of voice.
Here, the imperial machine, too aggressive, soon broke down;
immediately, the iron arm by which it held adults seemed insupportable
to them and they were able more and more to bend, push it away or
break it. Today, in 1890, nothing remains of it but its fragments;
for twenty years it has ceased to work and its parts, even, are
utterly useless.

But, to the contrary, in the other direction, in the second group, on
children, on boys, on young men, the second arm, intact down to 1850,
then shortened but soon strengthened, more energetic and more
effective than ever, maintained its hold almost entirely.

Undoubtedly, after 1814, its mechanism is less rigid, its application
less strict, its employment less universal, its operation less severe;
it gives less offence and does not hurt as much. For example, after
the first Restoration,[1] the decree of 1811 against the smaller
seminaries is repealed. They are handed back to the bishops, resume
their ecclesiastical character and return to the special and normal
road out of which Napoleon forced them to march. The drum, the drill
and other exercises too evidently Napoleonic disappear almost
immediately in the private and public establishments devoted to common
instruction. The school system ceases to be a military apprenticeship
and the college is no longer a preparatory annex for the barracks.
Soon and for many years, Guizot, Cousin, and Villemain brilliantly
hold the chairs at Sorbonne university and teach the highest subjects
of philosophy, literature and history admired by attentive and
sympathetic audiences. Later, under the monarchy of July, the
Institute, mutilated by the First Consul, restores and completes
itself. It becomes once more united with the suspect division of the
Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, which after the Consulate,
had been missing. In 1833, a minister, Guizot, provides, through a
law which has become an institution, for the regular maintenance, the
obligatory appropriation, the certain recruitment, and for the quality
and universality of primary instruction. At the same time, during
eighteen years, the university administration, moderating its pressure
or smoothing its sharp points, operates at the three stages of
instruction in tolerant or liberal hands, with all the caution
compatible with its organization. It does so in such a way as to do a
great deal of good without much harm, by half-satisfying the majority
which, in its entirety, is semi-believer, semi-freethinker, by not
seriously offending anybody except the Catholic clergy and that
unyielding minority which, through doctrinal principle or through
religious zeal, assigns to education as a directing end and supreme
object, the definitive cultivation, rooting and flowering of faith.
But, in law as well as in fact, the University of 1808 still subsists;
it has kept its rights, it levies its taxes, it exercises its
jurisdiction and enjoys its monopoly.

In the early days of the Restoration, in 1814, the government
maintained it only provisionally. It promised everything, radical
reform and full liberty. It announced that, through its efforts, "the
forms and direction of the education of children should be restored to
the authority of fathers and mothers, tutors and families."[2] Simply
a prospectus and an advertisement by the new pedagogue who installs
himself and thus, by soothing words, tries to conciliate parents.
After a partial sketch and an ordinance quickly repealed,[3] the
rulers discover that the University of Napoleon is a very good
reigning tool, much better than that of which they had the management
previous to 1789, much easier handled and more serviceable. It is the
same with all social tools sketched out and half-fashioned by the
Revolution and completed and set a-going by the Consulate and the
Empire; each is constructed "by reason," "according to principles,"
and therefore its mechanism is simple; its pieces all fit into each
other with precision; they transmit throughout exactly the impulsion
received and thus operate at one stroke, with uniformity,
instantaneously, with certitude, oil all parts of the territory; the
lever which starts the machine is central and, throughout its various
services, the new rulers hold this lever in hand. Apropos of local
administration, the Duc d'Angoulême said in 1815,[4] "We prefer the
departments to the provinces." In like manner, the government of the
restored monarchy prefers the imperial University, sole, unique,
coherent, disciplined and centralized, to the old provincial
universities, the old scattered, scholastic institution, diverse,
superintended rather than governed, to every school establishment more
or less independent and spontaneous.

In the first place, it gains thereby a vast staff of salaried
dependents, the entire teaching staff,[5] on which it has a hold
through its favors or the reverse through ambition and the desire for
promotion, through fear of dismissal and concern for daily bread. At
first, 22,000 primary teachers, thousands of professors, directors,
censors, principals, regents and subordinates in the 36 lycées, 368
colleges and 1255 institutions and boarding-schools. After this, many
hundreds of notable individuals, all the leading personages of each
university circumscription, the administrators of 28 academies, the
professors of the 23 literary faculties, of the 10 faculties of the
sciences, of the 9 faculties of law, and of the 3 faculties of
medicine. Add to these, the savants of the Collège de France and École
Polytechnique, every establishment devoted to high, speculative or
practical instruction: these are highest in repute and the most
influential; here the heads of science and of literature are found.
Through them and their seconds or followers of every degree, in the
faculties, lycées, colleges, minor seminaries, institutions, boarding
schools, and small schools, beliefs or opinions can be imposed on, or
suggested to, 2000 law students, 4000 medical students, 81,000
thousand pupils in secondary education and 700,000 scholars in the
primary department. Let us retain and make use of this admirable
tool, but let us apply it to our own purposes and utilize it for our
service.[6] Thus far, under the Republic and the Empire, its
designers, more or less Jacobin, have moved it as they thought best,
and therefore moved it to the "left". Let us now move, as it suits
us, to the " right."[7] All that is necessary is to turn it in
another direction and for good; henceforth," the basis of education88]
shall be religion, monarchy, legitimacy and the charter."

To this end, we, the dominant party, use our legal rights. In the
place of bad wheels we put good ones. We purify our staff. We do not
appoint or leave in place any but safe men. At the end of six years,
nearly all the rectors, proviseurs and professors of philosophy, many
other professors and a number of the censors,[9] are all priests. At
the Sorbonne, M. Cousin has been silenced and M. Guizot replaced by M.
Durosoir. At the Collège de France we have dismissed Tissot and we do
not accept M. Magendie. We "suppress" in block the Faculty of
Medicine in order that, on reorganizing it, our hands may be free and
eleven professors with bad notes be got rid of, among others Pinel,
Dubois, de Jussieu, Desgenettes, Pelletan and Vauquelin. We suppress
another center of insalubrities, the upper École Normale, and, for the
recruitment of our educational body, we institute[10] at the principal
seat of each academy a sort of university novitiate where the pupils,
few in number, expressly selected, prepared from their infancy, will
imbibe deeper and more firmly retain the sound doctrines suitable to
their future condition.

We let the small seminaries multiply and fill up until they comprise
50,000 pupils. It is the bishop who founds them; no educator or
inspector of education is so worthy of confidence. Therefore, we
confer upon him "in all that concerns religion,"[11] the duty "of
visiting them himself, or delegating his vicars-general to visit
them," the faculty "of suggesting to the, royal council of public
instruction the measures which he deems necessary." At the top of the
hierarchy sits a Grand-Master with the powers and title of M. de
Fontanes and with an additional title, member of the cabinet and
minister of public instruction, M. de Freyssinous, bishop of
Hermopolis,[12] and, in difficult cases, this bishop, placed between
his Catholic conscience and the positive articles of the legal
statute, " sacrifices the law" to his conscience.[13] - This is the
advantage which can be taken from the tool of public education. After
1850, it is to be used in the same way and in the same sense; after
1796, and later after 1875, it was made to work as vigorously in the
opposite direction. Whatever the rulers may be, whether monarchists,
imperialists or republicans, they are the masters who use it for their
own advantage; for this reason, even when resolved not to abuse the
instrument, they keep it intact; they reserve the use of it for
themselves,[14] and pretty hard blows are necessary to sever or relax
the firm hold which they have on the central lever.

Except for these excesses and especially after they finish, when the
government, from 1828 to 1848, ceases to be sectarian, and the normal
play of the institution is no longer corrupted by political
interference, the governed accept the University in block, just as
their rulers maintain it: they also have motives of their own, the
same as for submitting to other tools of Napoleonic centralization. -
And first of all, as a departmental and communal institution, the
university institution operates wholly alone; it exacts little or no
collaboration on the part of those interested; it relieves them of any
effort, dispute or care, which is pleasant. Like the local
administration, which, without their help or with scarcely any,
provides them with bridges, roads, canals, cleanliness, salubrity and
precautions against contagious diseases, the scholastic
administration, without making any demand on their indolence, puts its
full service, the local and central apparatus of primary, secondary,
superior and special instruction, its staff and material, furniture
and buildings, masters and schedules, examinations and grades, rules
and discipline, expenditure and receipts, all at its disposition. As
at the door of a table d'hôte, they are told,

"Come in and take a seat. We offer you the dishes you like best and
in the most convenient order. Don't trouble yourself about the
waiters or the kitchen; a grand central society, an intelligent and
beneficent agency, presiding at Paris takes charge of this and
relieves you of it. Pass your plate, and eat; that is all you need
care about. Besides, the charge is very small."[15]

In effect, here as elsewhere, Napoleon has introduced his rigid
economical habits, exact accounts and timely or disguised tax-
levies.[16] A few additional centimes among a good many others
inserted by his own order in the local budget, a few imperceptible
millions among several hundreds of other millions in the enormous sum
of the central budget, constitute the resources which defray the
expenses of public education. Not only does the quota of each
taxpayer for this purpose remain insignificant, but it disappears in
the sum total of which it is only an item that he does not notice. -
The parents, for the instruction of a child, do not pay out of their
pockets directly, with the consciousness of a distinct service
rendered them and which they indemnify,[17] but 12, 10, 3, or even 2
francs a year; again, through the increasing extension of gratis
instruction, a fifth, then a third,[18] and later one half of them are
exempt from this charge.

For secondary instruction, at the college or the lycée, they take out
of their purses annually only 40 or 50 francs; and, if their son is a
boarder, these few francs mingle in with others forming the total sum
paid for him during the year, about 700 francs,[19] which is a small
sum for defraying the expenses, not only of instruction, but, again,
for the support of the lad in lodging, food, washing, light, fire and
the rest. The parents, at this rate, feel that they are not making a
bad bargain; they are not undergoing extortion, the State not acting
like a rapacious contractor. And better yet, it is often a paternal
creditor, distributing, as it does, three or four thousand
scholarships. If their son obtains one of these, their annual debt is
remitted to them and the entire university provision of instruction
and support is given to them gratis. In the Faculties, the payment of
fees for entrance, examinations, grades and diplomas is not
surprising, for the certificates or parchments they receive in
exchange for their money are, for the young man, so many positive
acquisitions which smooth the way to a career and serve as valuable
stock which confers upon him social rank. Besides, the entrance to
these Faculties is free and gratuitous, as well as in all other
establishments for superior instruction. Whoever chooses and when he
chooses may attend without paying a cent.

Thus constituted, the University seems to the public as a liberal,
democratic, humanitarian institution and yet economical, expending
very little. Its administrators and professors, even the best of
them, receive only a small salary - 6000 francs at the Muséum and the
Collége de France,[20] 7500 at the Sorbonne, 5000 in the provincial
Faculties, 4000 or 3000 in the lycées, 2000, 1500 and 1200 in the
communal colleges - just enough to live on. The highest functionaries
live in a very modest way; each keeps body and soul together on a
small salary which he earns by moderate work, without notable increase
or decrease, in the expectation of gradual promotion or of a sure
pension at the end. There is no waste, the accounts being well kept;
there are no sinecures, even in the libraries; no unfair treatment or
notorious scandals. Envy, notions of equality scarcely exist; there
are enough situations for petty ambitions and average merit, while
there is scarcely any place for great ambitions or great merit.
Eminent men serve the State and the public cheaply for a living
salary, a higher rank in the Legion of Honor, sometimes for a seat in
the Institute, or for European fame in connection with a university,
with no other recompense than the satisfaction of working according to
conscience[21] and of winning the esteem of twenty or thirty competent
judges who, in France or abroad, are capable of appreciating their
labor at its just value.[22]

The last reason for accepting or tolerating the University; its work
at home, or in its surroundings, develops gradually and more or less
broadly according to necessities. - In 1815, there were 22,000 primary
schools of every kind; in 1829,[23] 30,000; and in 1850, 63,000. In
1815, 737,000 children were taught in them; in 1829, 1,357,000; and in
1850, 3,787,000. In 1815, there was only one normal school for the
education of primary teachers; in 1850, there are 78. Consequently,
whilst in 1827, 42 out of 100 conscripts could read, there were in
1877, 85; whilst in 1820, 34 out of 100 women could write their names
on the marriage contract, in 1879 there are 70. - Similarly, in the
lycées and colleges, the University which, in 1815, turned out 37,000
youths, turns out 54,000 in 1848, and 64,000 in 1865;[24] many
branches of study, especially history,[25] are introduced into
secondary instruction and bear good fruit. - Even in superior
instruction which, through organization, remains languid, for parade,
or in a rut, there are ameliorations; the State adds chairs to its
Paris establishments and founds new Faculties in the provinces. In
sum, an inquisitive mind capable of self-direction can, at least in
Paris, acquire full information and obtain a comprehensive education
on all subjects by turning the diverse university institutions to
account. - If there are very serious objections to the system, for
example, regarding the boarding part of it (internat), the fathers who
had been subject to it accept it for their sons. If there were very
great defects in it, for example, the lack of veritable universities,
the public which had not been abroad and ignores history did not
perceive them. In vain does M. Cousin, in relation to public
instruction in Germany, in his eloquent report of 1834, as formerly
Cuvier in his discreet report of 1811, point out this defect; in vain
does M. Guizot, the minister, propose to remove it:

"I did not find," says he,[26] "any strong public opinion which
induced me to carry out any general and urgent measure in higher
instruction. In the matter of superior instruction the public, at
this time, . . . was not interested in any great idea, or prompted by
any impatient want. . . . Higher education as it was organized and
given, sufficed for the practical needs of society, which regarded it
with a mixture of satisfaction and indifference."

In the matter of education, not only at this third stage but again for
the first two stages, public opinion so far as aims, results, methods
and limitations is concerned, was apathetic. That wonderful science
which, in the eighteenth century, with Jean-Jacques, Condillac,
Valentin, Hally, Abbé de l'Epée and so many others, sent forth such
powerful and fruitful jets, had dried up and died out; transplanted to
Switzerland and Germany, pedagogy yet lives but it is dead on its
native soil.[27] There is no longer in France any persistent research
nor are there any fecund theories on the aims, means, methods, degrees
and forms of mental and moral culture, no doctrine in process of
formation and application, no controversies, no dictionaries and
special manuals, not one well-informed and important Review, and no
public lectures. Now an experimental science is simply the summing-up
of many diverse experiences, freely attempted, freely discussed and
verified. Through the forced results of the university monopoly there
are no actual universities: among other results of the Napoleonic
institution, one could after 1808 note, the decadence of pedagogy and
foresee its early demise. Neither parents, nor masters nor the young
cared anything about it; outside of the system in which they live they
imagine nothing; they are accustomed to it the same as to the house in
which they dwell. They may grumble sometimes at the arrangement of
the rooms, the low stories and narrow staircases, against bad
lighting, ventilation and want of cleanliness, against the exactions
of the proprietor and concierge; but, as for transforming the
building, arranging it otherwise, reconstructing it in whole or in
part, they never think of it. For, in the first place, they have no
plan; and next, the house is too large and its parts too well united;
through its mass and size it maintains itself and would still remain
indefinitely if, all at once, in 1848, an unforeseen earthquake had
not made breaches in its walls.

II. Educational monopoly of Church and State.

Law of 1850 and freedom of instruction. - Its apparent object and real
effects. - Alliance of Church and State. - The real monopoly. -
Ecclesiastical control of the University until 1859. - Gradual rupture
of the Alliance. - The University again becomes secular. - Lay and
clerical interests. - Separation and satisfaction of both interests
down to 1876. - Peculiarity of this system. - State motives for taking
the upper hand. - Parents, in fact, have no choice between two
monopolies. - Original and forced decline of private institutions. -
Their ruin complete after 1850 owing to the too-powerful and double
competition of Church and State. - The Church and the State sole
surviving educators. - Interested and doctrinal direction of the two
educational systems. - Increasing divergence in both directions. -
Their effect on youth.

The day after the 24th of February 1848,[28] M. Cousin, meeting M. de
Remusat on the quay Voltaire, raised his arms towards heaven and

"Let us hurry and fall on our knees in front of the bishops - they
alone can save us now!"

While M. Thiers, with equal vivacity, in the parliamentary committee
exclaimed: "Cousin, Cousin, do you comprehend the lesson we have
received? Abbé Dupanloup is right."[29] Hence the new law.[30] M.
Beugnot, who presented it, clearly explains its aims and object : the
Government "must assemble the moral forces of the country and unite
them with each other to combat with and overthrow the common enemy,"
the anti-social party, "which, victorious, would have no mercy on
anybody," neither on the University nor on the Church. Consequently,
the University abandons its monopoly: the State is no longer the sole
purveyor of public instruction; private schools and associations may
teach as they please. The government will no longer inspect their
"education," but only "morality, hygiene, and salubrity;"[31] - they
are out of its jurisdiction and exempt from its taxes. Therefore, the
government establishments and free establishments will no longer be
dangerous adversaries, but "useful co-operators;" they will owe and
give to each other "good advice and good examples;" it will maintain
for both "an equal interest;" henceforth, its University "will be
merely an institution supported by it to quicken competition and make
this bear good fruit," and, to this end, it comes to an understanding
with its principal competitor, the Church.

But in this coalition of the two powers it is the Church which has the
best of it, takes the upper hand and points out the way. For, not
only does she profit by the liberty decreed, and profit by it almost
alone, founding in twenty years afterwards nearly one hundred
ecclesiastical colleges and putting the Ignorantin brethren everywhere
in the primary schools; but, again, by virtue of the law,[32] she
places four bishops or archbishops in the superior council of the
University; by virtue of the law, she puts into each departmental
academic council the bishop of the diocese and a priest selected by
him; moreover, through her credit with the central government she
enjoys all the administrative favors. In short, from above and close
at hand, she leads, keeps in check, and governs the lay University
and, from 1849 to 1859, the priestly domination and interference, the
bickering, the repressions, the dismissals,[33] the cases of disgrace,
are a revival of the system which, from 1821 to 1828, had already been
severe. As under the Restoration, the Church had joined hands with
the State to administrate the school-machine in concert with it; but,
under the Restoration, she reserves to herself the upper hand, and it
is she who works the machine rather than the State. In sum, under the
name, the show, and the theoretical proclamation of liberty for all,
the University monopoly is reorganized, if not by law, at least in
fact, and in favor of the Church.

Towards 1859, and after the war in Italy, regarding the Pope and the
temporal power, the hands which were joined now let go and then
separate; there is a dissolution of partnership; their interests cease
to agree. Two words are coined, both predestined to great fortune, on
the one side the "secular" interest and on the other side the
"clerical" interest; henceforth, the government no longer subordinates
the former to the latter and, under the ministry of M. Duruy, the
direction of the University becomes frankly secular. Consequently,
the entire educational system, in gross and in its principal features,
is to resemble, until 1876, that of the of July.[34] For sixteen
years, the two great teaching powers, the spiritual and the temporal,
unable to do better, are to support each other but act apart, each on
its own ground and each in its own way; only the Church no longer acts
through the toleration and gracious permission of the University, but
through the legal abolition of the monopoly and by virtue of a written
law. The whole composes a passable régime, less oppressive than those
that preceded it; in any event, the two millions of devout Catholics
who consider unbelief as a terrible evil, the fathers and mothers who
subordinate instruction to education,[35] and desire above all things
to preserve the faith of their children up to adult age, now find in
the ecclesiastical establishments well-run hothouses and protected
against draughts of modernity. One urgent need of the first
order,[36] legitimate, deeply felt by many men and especially by
women, has received satisfaction; parents who do not experience this
want, place their children in the lycées; in 1865, in the smaller
seminaries and other ecclesiastical schools there are 54,000 pupils
and in the State colleges and 1ycées 64,000,[37] which two bodies
balance each other.

But even that is a danger. For, naturally, the teaching State finds
with regret that its clients diminish; it does not view the rival
favorably which takes away so many of its pupils. Naturally also, in
case of an electoral struggle, the Church favors the party which
favors it, the effect of which is to expose it to ill-will and, in
case of political defeat, to hostilities. Now, the chances are, that,
should hostile rulers, in this case, attempt to strike it in its most
vulnerable point, that of teaching, they might set aside liberty, and
even toleration, and adopt the school machine of Napoleon in order to
restore it as best they could, enlarge it, derive from it for their
own profit and against the Church, whatever could be got out of it, to
use with all their power according to the principles and intentions of
the Convention and the Directory. Thus, the compromise accepted by
Church and State is simply a provisional truce; to-morrow, this truce
will be broken; the fatal French prejudice which erects the State into
a national educator is ever present; after a partial and brief
slackening of its energy, it will try to recover its ascendancy and
recommence its ravages. - And, on the other hand, even under this
régime, more liberal than its predecessor, real liberty is much
restricted; instead of one monopoly, there are two. Between two kinds
of establishments, one secular, resembling a barracks, and the other
ecclesiastical, resembling a seminary or convent, parents may choose
and that is all. Ordinarily, if they prefer one, it is not because
they consider it good, but because, in their opinion, the other is
worse, while there is no third one at hand, built after a different
type, with its own independent and special character, adapting itself
to their tastes and accommodating itself to their necessities.

In the early years of the century there were thousands of secondary
schools of every kind and degree, everywhere born or reborn,
spontaneous, local, raised up through the mutual understanding of
parents and masters, and, consequently, subject to this understanding,
diverse, flexible, dependent on the law of supply and demand,
competitive, each careful to keep its own patrons, each compelled,
like every other private enterprise, to adjust its working to the
views and faculties of its clients. It is very probable that, if
these had been allowed to exist, if the new legislator had not been
radically hostile to permanent corporations, endowments, and mortmain
titles; if, through the jealous intervention of his Council of State
and the enormous levies of his fiscal system, the government had not
discouraged free associations and the free donations to which they
might have been entitled, the best of these secondary schools would
have survived: those which might have been able to adapt themselves to
their surroundings would have had the most vitality; according to a
well-known law, they would have prospered in branching off, each in
its own sense and in its own way. - Now, at this date, after the
demolitions of the Revolution, all pedagogic roads were open and, at
each of their starting-points, the runners were ready, not merely the
secular but, again, independent ecclesiastics, liberal Gallicans,
surviving Jansenists, constitutional priests, enlightened monks, some
of them philosophers and half-secular in mind or even at heart, using
Port-Royal manuals, Rollin's "Traité des Études " and Condillac's
"Cours d'Etudes," the best-tried and most fecund methods of
instruction, all the traditions of the seventeenth century from
Arnauld to Lancelot and all the novelties of the eighteenth century
from Locke to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, all wide-awake or aroused by the
demands of the public and by this unique opportunity and eager to do
and to do well. In the provinces[38] as at Paris, people were
seeking, trying and groping. There was room and encouragement for
original, sporadic and multiple invention, for schools proportionate
with and suited to various and changing necessities, Latin,
mathematical or mixed schools, some for theoretical science and others
for practical apprenticeship, these commercial and those industrial,
from the lowest standpoint of technical and rapid preparation up to
the loftiest summits of speculative and prolonged study.

On this school world in the way of formation, Napoleon has riveted his
uniformity, the rigorous apparatus of his university, his unique
system, narrow, inflexible, applied from above. We have seen with what
restrictions, with what insistence, with what convergence of means,
what prohibitions, what taxes, what application of the university
monopoly, and with what systematic hostility to private
establishments! - In the towns, and by force, they become branches of
the lycée and imitate its classes; in this way Sainte-Barbe is allowed
to subsist at Paris and, until the abolition of the monopoly, the
principal establishments of Paris, Massin, Jauffrey, Bellaguet,
existed only on this condition, that of becoming auxiliaries,
subordinates and innkeepers for lycée day-scholars; such is still the
case to-day for the lycées Bossuet and Gerson. In the way of
education and instruction the little that an institution thus reduced
can preserve of originality and of pedagogic virtue is of no account.
- In the country, the Oratoriens who have repurchased Juilly are
obliged,[39] in order to establish a free and durable school of
"Christian and national education," to turn aside the civil law which
interdicts trusts and organize themselves into a "Tontine Society" and
thus present their disinterested enterprise in the light of an
industrial and commercial speculation, that of a lucrative and well-
attended boarding school. Still at the present day similar fictions
have to be resorted to for the establishment and duration of like

Naturally, under this prohibitive régime, private establishments are
born with difficulty; and afterwards, absorbed, mutilated and
strangled, they find no less difficulty in keeping alive and thus
degenerate, decline and succumb one by one. And yet, in 1815, not
counting the 41 small seminaries with their 5000 scholars, there still
remained 1,225 private schools, with 39,000 scholars, confronting the
36 lycées and 368 communal colleges which, together, had only 37,000
scholars. Of these 1,255 private schools there are only 825 in 1854,
622 in 1865, 494 in 1876, and, finally, in 1887, 302 with 20,174
scholars; on the other hand, the State establishments have 89,000
schools, and those of the Church amount to 73,000. It is only after
1850 that the decadence of secular and private institutions is
precipitated; in effect, instead of one competitor, they have two, the
second as formidable as the first one, both enjoying unlimited credit,
possessors of immense capital and determined to spend money without
calculation, the State, on one side abstracting millions from the
pockets of the taxpayers and, on the other side, the Church deriving
its millions from the purses of the faithful: the struggle between
isolated individuals and these two great organized powers who give
instruction at a discount or gratis is too unequal.[41]

Such is the actual and final effect of the first Napoleonic monopoly:
the enterprise of the State has, by a counter-stroke, incited the
enterprise of the clergy; both now complete the ruin of the others,
private, different in kind and independent, which, supported wholly by
family approbation, have no other object in view than to render
families content. On the contrary, along with this purpose, the two
survivors have another object, each its own, a superior and doctrinal
object, due to its own particular interest and antagonism to the
opposite interest; it is in view of this object, in view of a
political or religious purpose, that each in its own domicile directs
education and instruction like Napoleon, each inculcates on, or
insinuates into, young minds its social and moral opinions which are
clear-cut and become cutting. Now, the majority of parents, who
prefer peace to war, desire that their children should entertain
moderate and not bellicose opinions. They would like to see them
respectful and intelligent, and nothing more. But neither of the two
rival institutions thus limits itself; each works beyond and
aside,[42] and when the father, at the end of July,[43] goes for his
son at the ecclesiastical college or secular institution, he risks
finding in the young man of seventeen the militant prejudices, the
hasty and violent conclusions and the uncompromising rigidity of
either a "laïcisant" or a "clérical."

III. Internal Vices

The internal vices of the system. - Barrack or convent discipline of
the boarding-school. - Number and proportions of scholars in State and
Church establishments. - Starting point of the French boarding-school.
- The school community viewed not as a distinct organ of the State but
as a mechanism wielded by the State. - Effects of these two
conceptions. - Why the boarding-school entered into and strengthened
ecclesiastical establishments. - Effects of the boarding-school on the
young man. - Gaps in his experience, errors of judgment, no education
of his will. - The evil aggravated by the French system of special and
higher schools.

Meanwhile, the innate vices of the primitive system have lasted and,
and, among others, the worst of all, the internat[44] under the
discipline of barracks or convent, while the university, through its
priority and supremacy, in contact with or contiguously, has
communicated this discipline at first to its subordinates, and
afterward to its rivals. - In 1887,[45] in the State lycées and
colleges, there are more than 39,000 boarding-schools (internes)
while, in the ecclesiastic establishments, it is worse: out of 50,000
pupils there, over 27,000 are internes, to which must be added the
23,000 pupils of the small seminaries, properly so called, nearly all
of them boarders; in a total of 163,000 pupils we find 89,000
internes.[46] Thus, to secure secondary instruction, more than one-
half of the youth of France undergo the internat, ecclesiastic or
secular. This is peculiar to France, and is due to the way in which
Napoleon, in 1806, seized on and perverted all school enterprises.[47]

Before 1789, in France, this enterprise, although largely trammeled
and impeded by the State and the Church, was not violated in principle
nor perverted in essence; still at the present day, in Germany, in
England, in the United States, it exists and is developed in
accordance with its nature. It is admitted to be a private
enterprise,[48] the collective and spontaneous work of several
associates voluntarily bound together, old founders, actual and future
benefactors, masters and parents and even scholars,[49] each in his
place and function, under a statute and according to tradition, in
such a way as to continue functioning indefinitely, in order to
provide, like a gas company on its own responsibility, at its own risk
and expense, a provider of services for those who want it; in other
terms, the school enterprise must, like any other undertaking, render
acceptable what it offers thereby satisfying the needs of its clients.
- Naturally, it adapts itself to these needs; its directors and those
concerned do what is necessary. With hands free, and grouped around an
important interest evidently for a common purpose, mutually bound and
veritable associates not only legally but in feeling, devoted to a
local enterprise and local residents for many years, often even for
life, they strive not to offend the profound repugnance of the young
and of families. They therefore make the necessary arrangements
internally and with the parents.[50]

That is why, outside of France, the French internat, so artificial, so
forced, so exaggerated, is almost unknown. In Germany, out of one
hundred pupils in the gymnases, which correspond to our lycées, there
are scarcely ten boarders lodged and fed in the gymnase; the rest,
even when their parents do not live near by, remain day-scholars,
private guests in the families that harbor them, often at a very low
price and which take the place of the absent family. No boarders are
found in them except in a few gymnases like Pforta and by virtue of an
ancient endowment. The number, however, by virtue of the same
endowment, is limited; they dine, in groups of eight or ten,[51] at
the same table with the professors lodged like themselves in the
establishment, while they enjoy for a playground a vast domain of
woods, fields and meadow. - The same in England, at Harrow, Eton and
Rugby. Each professor, here, is keeper of a boarding-house; he has
ten, twenty and thirty boys under his roof, eating at his table or at
a table the head of which is some lady of the house. Thus, the youth
goes from the family into the school, without painful or sudden
contrast, and remains under a system of things which suits his age and
which is a continuation, only enlarged, of domestic life.[52]

The French college or lycée is quite the opposite. It operates against
the true spirit of the school, and has done so for eighty years being
an enterprise of the State, a local extension of a central enterprise,
one of the hundred branches of the great State university trunk,
possessing no roots of its own and with a directing or teaching staff
composed of functionaries similar to others, that is to say
transferable,[53] restless and preoccupied with promotion, their
principal motive for doing well being the hope of a higher rank and of
getting a better situation. This almost separate them in advance from
the establishment in which they labor and,[54] besides that, they are
led, pushed on, and restrained from above, each in his own particular
sphere and in his limited duty. The principal (proviseur) is confined
to his administrative position and the professor to his class,
expressly forbidden to leave it. No professor is "under any pretext
to receive in his house as boarders or day-scholars more than ten
pupils."[55] No woman is allowed to lodge inside the lycée or college
walls, all, - proviseur, censor, cashier, chaplain, head-masters and
assistants, fitted by art or force to each other like cog-wheels, with
no deep sympathy, with no moral tie, without collective interests, a
cleverly designed machine which, in general, works accurately and
smoothly, but with no soul because, to have a soul, it is of prime
necessity to have a living body. As a machine constructed at Paris
according to a unique pattern and superposed on people and things from
Perpignan to Douai and from Rochelle to Besançon, it does not adapt
itself to the requirements of the public; it subjects its public to
the exigencies, rigidity and uniformity of its play and structure.
Now, as it acts mechanically only, through outward pressure, the human
material on which it operates must be passive, composed, not of
diverse persons, but of units all alike; its pupils must be for it
merely numbers and names. - Owing to this our internats, those huge
stone boxes set up and isolated in each large town, those lycées
parceled out to hold three hundred, four hundred, even eight hundred
boarders, with immense dormitories, refectories and playgrounds,
recitation-rooms full to overflowing, and, for eight or ten years, for
one half of our children and youths, an anti-social unnatural system
apart, strict confinement, no going out except to march in couples
under the eyes of a sub-teacher who maintains order in the ranks,
promiscuity and life in common, exact and minute regularity under
equal discipline and constant constraint in order to eat, sleep,
study, play, promenade and the rest, - in short, COMMUNISM.

From the University this system is propagated among its rivals. In
conferring grades and passing examinations, it arranges and
overburdens the school program of study; hence, it incites in others
what it practices at home, the over-training of youth, and a
factitious, hot-house education. On the other hand, the internat is,
for those who decide on that, less troublesome than the day-
school;[56] also, the more numerous the boarders in any one
establishment, the less the expense; thus, in order to exist in the
face of the university establishments, there must be internats and
internats that are full. Ecclesiastical establishments willingly
resign themselves to all this; they are even inclined that way; the
Jesuits were the first ones, under the old monarchy, who introduced
cloistered and crowded boarding-houses. In its essence, the Catholic
church, like the French State, is a Roman institution, still more
exclusive and more governmental, resolved to seize, hold on to, direct
and control man entirely, and, first of all, the child, head and
heart, opinions and impressions, in order to stamp in him and
lastingly the definitive and salutary forms which are for him the
first condition of salvation. Consequently, the ecclesiastical cage is
more strict in its confinement than the secular cage; if the bars are
not so strong and not so rough, the grating, finer and more yielding,
is more secure, closer and better maintained; they do not allow any
holes or relaxation of the meshes; the precautions against worldly and
family interference, against the mistakes and caprices of individual
effort, are innumerable, and form a double or even triple network.
For, to school discipline is added religious discipline, no less
compulsory, just as rigid and more constant - daily pious exercises,
ordinary devotions and extraordinary ceremonies, spiritual guidance,
influence of the confessional and the example and behavior of a staff
kept together around the same work by the same faith. The closer the
atmosphere, the more powerful the action; the chances are that the
latter will prove decisive on the child sequestered, sheltered and
brought up in a retort, and that its intellect, faith
and ideas, carefully cultivated, pruned and always under direction,
will exactly reproduce the model aimed at. - For this reason, in 1876,
33,000 out of 46,000 pupils belonging to the 309 ecclesiastical
establishments of secondary instruction, are internes,[57] and the
Catholic authorities admit that, in the 86 small seminaries, no day-
scholars, no future lay persons, are necessary.

This conclusion is perhaps reasonable in relation to the 23,000 pupils
of the small seminaries, and for the 10,000 pupils in the great
seminaries; it is perhaps reasonable also for the future military
officers formed by the State at La Flèche, Saint-Cyr, Saumur, and on
the Borda.[58] Whether future soldiers or future priests, their
education fits them for the life they are to lead; what they are to
become as adults, they already are as youths and children; the
internat, under a convent discipline or that of the barracks,
qualifies them beforehand for their profession. Since they must
possess the spirit of it they must contract its habits. Having
accepted the form of their pursuit they more easily accept its
constraints and all the more that the constraints of the regiment will
be less for the young officer who recently was at Saint-Cyr, and for
the young ministrant in the rural parish who recently was in the
great seminary. - It is quite the reverse for the 75,000 other
internes of public or private establishments, ecclesiastic or secular,
for the future engineers, doctors, architects, notaries, attorneys,
advocates and other men of the law, functionaries, land-owners, chiefs
and assistants in industry, agriculture and commerce. For them the
internat affords precisely the opposite education required for a
secular and civil career. These carry away from the prolonged internat
a sufficient supply of Latin or of mathematics; but they are lacking
in two acquisitions of capital import: they have been deprived of two
indispensable experiences. On entering society the young man is
ignorant of its two principal personages, man and woman, as they are
and as he is about to meet them in society. He has no idea of them, or
rather he has only a preconceived, arbitrary and false conception of
them. - He has not dined, commonly, with a lady, head of the house,
along with her daughters and often with other ladies; their tone of
voice, their deportment at table, their toilette, their greater
reserve, the attentions they receive, the air of politeness all
around, have not impressed on his imagination the faintest lines of an
exact notion; hence, there is something wanting in him in relation to
how he should demean himself; he does not know how to address them,
feels uncomfortable in their presence; they are strange beings to him,
new, of an unknown species. - In a like situation, at table in the
evening, he has never heard men conversing together: he has not
gathered in the thousand bits of information which a young growing
mind derives from general conversation:

* about careers in life, competition, business, money, the domestic
fireside and expenses;

* about the cost of living which should always depend on income;

* about the gain which nearly always indicates the current rates of
labor and of the social subjection one undergoes;

* about the pressing, powerful, personal interests which are soon to
seize him by the collar and perhaps by the throat;

* about the constant effort required the incessant calculation, the
daily struggle which, in modern society, makes up the life of an
ordinary man.

All means of obtaining knowledge have been denied him, the contact
with living and diverse men, the images which the sensations of his
eyes and ears might have stamped on his brain. These images constitute
the sole materials of a correct, healthy conception; through them,
spontaneously and gradually, without too many deceptions or shocks, he
might have figured social life to himself, such as it is, its
conditions, difficulties, and its opportunities: he has neither the
sentiment of it nor even a premonition. In all matters, that which we
call common sense is never but an involuntary latent summary, the
lasting, substantial and salutary depot left in our minds after many
direct impressions. With reference to social life, he has been
deprived of all these direct impressions and the precious depot has
never been formed in him.- e He has scarcely ever conversed with his
professors; their talk with him has been about impersonal and abstract
matters, languages, literature and mathematics. He has spoken but
little with his teachers, except to contest an injunction or grumble
aloud against reproof. Of real conversation, the acquisition and
exchange of ideas, he has enjoyed none, except with his comrades: if,
like him, all are internes, they can communicate to each other only
their ignorance. If day-scholars are admitted, they are active
smugglers or willing agents who bring into the house and circulate
forbidden books and obscene journals, along with the filthy
provocative and foul atmosphere of the streets. - Now, with excitement
of this kind or in this manner, the brains of these captives, as
puberty comes on and deliverance draws near, work actively and we know
in what sense[59] and in what counter-sense, how remote from
observable and positive truth, how their imagination pictures society,
man and woman, under what simple and coarse appearances, with what
inadequacy and presumption, what appetites of liberated serfs and
juvenile barbarians, how, as concerns women, their precocious and
turbid dreams first become brutal and cynical,[60] how, as concerns
men, their unballasted and precipitous thought easily becomes
chimerical and revolutionary.[61] The downhill road is steep on the
bad side, so that, to put on the brake and stop, then to remount the
hill, the young man who takes the management of his life into his own
hands, must know how to use his own will and persevere to the end.

But a faculty is developed only by exercise, and the French internat
is the engine the most effective for hindering the exercise of this
one. - The youth, from the first to the last day of his internat, has
never been able to deliberate on, choose and decide what he should do
at any one hour of his schooldays; except to idle away time in study-
hours, and pay no attention at recitations, he could not exercise his
will. Nearly every act, especially his outward attitudes, postures,
immobility, silence, drill and promenades in rank, is only obedience
to orders. He has lived like a horse in harness, between the shafts of
his cart; this cart itself, kept straight by its two wheels, must not
leave the rectilinear ruts hollowed out and traced for it along the
road; it is impossible for the horse to turn aside. Besides, every
morning he is harnessed at the same hour, and every evening he is
unharnessed at the same hour; every day, at other hours, he has to
rest and take his ration of hay and oats. He has never been under the
necessity of thinking about all this, nor of looking ahead or on
either side; from one end of the year to the other, he has simply had
to pull along guided by the bridle or urged by the whip, his principal
motives being only of two kinds: on the one hand more or less hard
guidance and urgings, and on the other hand his recalcitrance,
laziness and fatigue; he has been obliged to choose between the two.
For eight or ten years, his initiative is reduced to that - no other
employment of his free will. The education of his free will is thus
rudimentary or nonexistent.

On the strength of this our (French) system supposes that it is
complete and perfect. We cast the bridle on the young man's neck and
hand him over to his own government. We admit that, by extraordinary
grace, the scholar has suddenly become a man; that he is capable of
prescribing and following his own orders; that he has accustomed
himself to weighing the near and remote consequences of his acts, of
imputing them to himself, of believing himself responsible for them;
that his conscience, suddenly emancipated, and his reason, suddenly
adult, will march straight on athwart temptations and immediately
recover from slips. Consequently, he is set free with an allowance in
some great city; he registers himself under some Faculty and becomes
one among ten thousand other students on the sidewalks of Paris. -
Now, in France, there is no university police force to step in, as at
Bonn or Göttingen, at Oxford or Cambridge, to watch his conduct and
punish him in the domicile and in public places. At the schools of
medicine, Law, Pharmacy, Fine-Arts, Charters, and Oriental Languages,
at the Sorbonne and at the École Centrale, his emancipation is sudden
and complete. When he goes from secondary education to superior
education he does not, as in England and in Germany, pass from
restricted liberty to one less restricted, but from a monastic
discipline to compete independence. In a furnished room, in the
promiscuity and incognito of a common hotel, scarcely out of college,
the novice of twenty years finds at hand the innumerable temptations
of the streets, the taverns, the bars, public balls, obscene
publications, chance acquaintances, and the liaisons of the gutter.
Against all this his previous education has disarmed him. Instead of
creating a moral force within him, the long and strict internat has
maintained moral debility. He yields to opportunity, to example; he
goes with the current, he floats without a rudder, he lets himself
drift. As far as hygiene, or money, or sex, is concerned, his mistakes
and his follies, great or small, are almost inevitable, while it is an
average chance if, during his three, four or five years of full
license, he does not become entirely corrupt.

IV. Cramming and Exams Compared to Apprenticeship

Another vice of the system. - Starting-point of superior instruction
in France. - Substitution of special State schools for free
encyclopedic universities. - Effect of this substitution. -
Examinations and competitions. - Intense, forced and artificial
culture. - How it reaches an extreme. - Excess and prolongation of
theoretical studies. - Insufficiency and tardiness of practical
apprenticeship. - Comparison of this system with others, between
France before 1789 and England and the United States. - Lost forces. -
Mistaken use and excessive expenditure of mental energy. - The entire
body of youth condemned to it after 1889.

Let us now consider another effect of the primitive institution, not
less pernicious. On leaving the lycée after the philosophy class, the
system supposes that a general education is fully obtained; there is
not question of a second one, ulterior and superior, that of
universities. In place of these encyclopedic universities, of which
the object is free teaching and the free progress of knowledge, it
establishes special State schools, separate from each other, each
confined to a distinct branch, each with a view to create, verify and
proclaim a useful capacity, each devoted to leading a young man along,
step by step, through a series of studies and tests up to the title or
final diploma which qualifies him for his profession, a diploma that
is indispensable or, at least, very useful since, without it, in many
cases, one has no right to practice his profession and which, thanks
to it, in all cases, enables one to enter on a career with favor and
credit, in fair rank, and considerably promoted. - On entering most
careers called liberal, a first diploma is exacted, that of bachelor
of arts, or bachelor of sciences, sometimes both, the acquisition of
which is now a serious matter for all French youth, a daily and
painful preoccupation. To this end, when about sixteen, the young man
works, or, rather, is worked upon. For one or two years, he submits to
a forced culture, not in view of learning and of knowing, but to
answer questions well at an examination, or tolerably well, and to
obtain a certificate, on proof or on semblance of proof, that he has
received a complete classical education. - Next after this, at the
medical or law school, during the four prescribed years, sixteen
graduated inscriptions, four or five superposed examinations, two or
three terminal verifications, oblige him to furnish the same proof, or
semblance of proof, to verify, as each year comes round, his
assimilation of the lessons of the year, and thus attest that, at the
end of his studies, he possesses about the entire scope and diversity
of knowledge to which he is restricted.

In the schools where the number of pupils is limited, this culture,
carried still farther, becomes intense and constant. In the École
Centrale and in the commercial or agronomic schools, in the
Polytechnique or Normale, he is there all day and all night, - he is
housed in a barracks. - And the pressure on him is twofold - the
pressure of examinations and that of competition. On entering, on
leaving, and during his stay there, not only at the end of each year
but every six or three months, often every six weeks, and even every
fortnight, he is rated according to his compositions, exercises and
interrogatories, getting so many marks for his partial value, so many
for his total value and according to these figures, classed at a
certain rank among his comrades who are his rivals. To descend on the
scale would be disadvantageous and humiliating; to ascend on the scale
is advantageous and glorious. Driven by this motive, so strong in
France, his principal aim is to go up or, at least, not to go down; he
devotes all his energy to this; he expends none of it on either side
or beyond; he allows himself no diversion, he abstains from taking any
initiative; his restrained curiosity never ventures outside of the
circle traced for him; he absorbs only what he is taught and in the
order in which it is taught; he fills himself to the brim, but only to
disgorge at the examination and not to retain and hold on to; he runs
the risk of choking and when relieved, of remaining empty. Such is the
régime of our Grande Ecoles. They are systematic, energetic and
prolonged system of gardening; the State, the gardener-in-chief,
receiving or selecting plants which it undertakes to turn out
profitably, each of its kind. To this end, it separates the species,
and ranges each apart on a bed of earth; and here, all day long, it
digs, weeds, rakes, waters, adds one manure after another, applies its
powerful heating apparatus and accelerates the growth and ripening of
the fruit. On certain beds it plants are kept under glass throughout
the year; in this way it maintains them in a steady, artificial
atmosphere, forcing them to more largely imbibe the nutritive liquids
with which it floods the ground, thus causing them to swell and become
hypertrophied, so as to produce fruits or vegetables for show, and
which it exposes and which bring it credit; for all these productions
look well, many of them superb, while their size seems to attest their
excellence; they are weighted beforehand and the official labels with
which they are decorated announce the authentic weight.

During the first quarter, and even the first half, of the (19th)
century, the system remained almost unobjectionable; it had not yet
pushed things to excess. Down to 1850 and later, all that was demanded
of the young, in their examinations and competitions, was much less
the extent and minutia of knowledge than proofs of intelligence and
the promise of capacity: in a literary direction, the main object was
to verify whether the candidate, familiar with the classics, could
write Latin correctly and French tolerably well; in the sciences, if
he could, without help, accurately and promptly solve a problem; if,
again unaided, he could readily and accurately to the end, state a
long series of theorems and equations without divergence or faltering;
in sum, the object of the test was to verify in him the presence and
degree of the mathematical or literary faculty. - But, since the
beginning of the century, the old subdivided sciences and the new
consolidated sciences have multiplied their discoveries and,
necessarily, all discoveries end in finding their way into public
instruction. In Germany, for them to become installed and obtain
chairs, encyclopedic universities are found, in which free teaching,
pliant and many-sided, rises of itself to the level of knowledge.[62]
With us, for lack of universities, they have had only special
schools[63]; here only could a place be found for them and professors
obtained. Henceforth, the peculiar character of these schools has
changed: they have ceased to be strictly special and veritably
professional. - Each school, being an individuality, has developed
apart and on its own account; its aim has been to install and furnish
under its own roof all the general, collateral, accessory and
ornamental studies which, far or near, could be of service to its own
pupils. No longer content with turning out competent and practical
men, it has conceived a superior type, the ideal model of the
engineer, physician, jurist, professor or architect. To produce this
extraordinary and desirable professional, it has designed some
excessively difficult impressive lectures.[64] To be able to make use
of these, it has given the young man the opportunity not only to
acquire abstract, multiple, technical knowledge, and information, but
also the complementary culture and lofty general ideas, which render
the specialist a true savant and a man of a very broad mind.

To this end, it has appealed to the State. The State, the contractor
for public instruction, the founder of every new professional chair,
appoints the occupant, pays the salary and, when in funds, is not ill-
disposed, for it thus gains a good reputation, an increase of granting
power and a new functionary. Such is the why and wherefore, in each
school, of the multiplication of professorships: schools of law, of
medicine, of pharmacy, of charters, of fine arts, polytechnic, normal,
central, agronomic and commercial schools, each becoming, or tending
to become, a sort of university on a small scale, bringing together
within its walls the totality of teachings which, if the student
profits by them, renders him in his profession an accomplished
personage. Naturally, to secure attendance at these lectures, the
school, in concert with the State, adds to the exigencies of its
examinations, and soon, for the average of intellects and for health,
the burden imposed by it becomes too heavy. Particularly, in the
schools to which admission is gained only through competitions the
extra load is still more burdensome, owing to the greater crowd
striving to pass; there are now five, seven and even eleven candidates
for one place.[65] With this crowd, it has been found necessary to
raise and multiply the barriers, urge the competitors to jump over
them, and to open the door only to those who jump the highest and in
the greatest number. There is no other way to make a selection among
them without incurring the charge of despotism and nepotism. It is
their business to have sturdy legs and make the best of them, then to
submit to methodical training, to practice and train all year and for
several years in succession, in order to pass the final test, without
thinking of any but the barriers in front of them on the race-course
at the appointed date, and which they must spring over to get ahead of
their rivals.

At the present day[66], after the complete course of classical
studies, four years in school no longer suffice for obtaining the
degrees of a doctor in medicine or doctor in law. Five or six years
are necessary. Two years are necessary between the baccalauréat ès-
lettres and the various licenses ès-lettres or sciences, and from
these to the corresponding aggrégations two, three years, and often
more. Three years of preparatory studies in mathematics and of
desperate application lead the young man to the threshold of the École
Polytechnique; after that, after two years in school and of no less
sustained effort, the future engineer passes three not less laborious
years at the École des Ponts et Chaussées or des Mines, which amounts
to eight years of professional preparation.[67] Elsewhere, in the
other schools, it is the same thing with more or less excess. Observe
how days and hours are spent during this long period.[68] The young
men have attended lecture-courses, masticated and re-masticated
manuals, abbreviated abridgments, learned by heart mementos and
formulae, stored their memories with a vast multitude of generalities
and details. Every sort of preliminary information, all the
theoretical knowledge which, even indirectly, may serve them in their
future profession or which is of service in neighboring professions,
are classified in their brains, ready to come forth at the first call,
and, as proved by the examination, disposable at a minute; they
possess them, but nothing otherwise or beyond. Their education has all
tended to one side; they have undergone no practical apprenticeship.
Never have they taken an active part in or lent a hand to any
professional undertaking either as collaborators or assistants.

* The future professor, a new aggrégé at twenty-four years of age, who
issues from the École Normale, has not yet taught a class, except for
a fortnight in a Paris lycée.

* The future engineer who, at twenty-four or twenty-five years of age
leaves the École Centrale, or the École des Ponts, or École des Mines,
has never assisted in the working of a mine, in the heating of a blast
furnace, in the piercing of a tunnel, in the laying-out of a dike, of
a bridge or of a roadway. He is ignorant of the cost and has never
commanded a squad of workmen.

* If the future advocate or magistrate to be has put up with being a
notary's or lawyer's clerk, he will at twenty-five years of age, even
if he is a doctor of law with his insignia of three "white balls,"
know nothing of the business; he merely knows his codes; he has never
examined pleadings, conducted a case, drawn up an act or liquidated an

* From eighteen to thirty, the future architect who competes for a
prix de Rome may stay in the École des Beaux-Arts, draw plan after
plan there, and then, if he obtains the prix, pass five years at Rome,
make designs without end, multiply plans and restorations on paper,
and at last, at thirty-five years of age, return to Paris with the
highest titles, architect of the government, and with the aspiration
to erect edifices without having taken even a second or third part in
the actual construction of one single house. -

None of these men so full of knowledge know their trade and each, at
this late hour, is expected to act as an expert, improvising,[69] in
haste and too fast, encountering many drawbacks at his own expense and
at the expense of others, along with serious risks for the first tasks
he undertakes.

Before 1789, says a witness of both the ancient and the modern régime,
[70] young Frenchmen did not thus pass their early life. Instead of
dancing attendance so long on the threshold of a career, they were
inducted into it very early in life and at once began the race. With
very light baggage and readily obtained "they entered the army at
sixteen, and even fifteen years of age, at fourteen in the navy, and a
little later in special branches, artillery or engineering. In the
magistracy, at nineteen, the son of a conseiller-maître in parliament
was made a conseiller-adjoint without a vote until he reached twenty-
five; meanwhile, he was busy, active and sometimes was made a reporter
of a case. No less precocious were the admissions to the Cour des
Comptes, to the Cour des Aides, to inferior jurisdictions and into the
bureaus of all the financial administrations." Here, as elsewhere, if
any rank in law was exacted the delay that ensured was not apparent;
the Faculty examinations were only for forms sake; for a sum of money,
and after a more or less grave ceremonial, a needed diploma was
obtained almost without study.[71] - Accordingly, it was not in
school, but in the profession, that professional instruction was
acquired; strictly speaking, the young man for six or seven years,
instead of being a student was an apprentice, that is to say a working
novice under several master-workmen, in their workshop, working along
with them and learning by doing, which is the best way of obtaining
instruction. Struggling with the difficulties of the work he at once
became aware of his incompetence;[72] he became modest and was
attentive; with his masters, he kept silent, and listened, which is
the only way to understand. If he was intelligent he himself
discovered what he lacked; as he found this out he felt the need of
supplying what he needed; he sought, set his wits to work, and made
choice of the various means; freely and self-initiating he helped
himself in his general or special education. If he read books, it was
not resignedly and for a recitation, but with avidity and to
comprehend them. If he followed lecture-courses it was not because he
was obliged to, but voluntarily, because he was interested and because
he profited by it. - Chancellor Pasquier was magistrate at seventeen
(in 1784), attended at the lycée the lectures of Garat, La Harpe,
Fourcroy and Duparcieux and, daily, at table or in the evening,
listened to his father and his friends discussing matters which, in
the morning, had been argued in the Palais de Justice or in the Grand-
Chambre. He imbibed a taste for his profession. Along with two or
three prominent advocates and other young magistrates like himself, he
inscribed his name for lectures at the house of the first president of
the first court of inquiry. Meanwhile, he went every evening into
society; he saw there with his own eyes the ways and interests of men
and women. On the other hand, at the Palais de Justice, a conseiller-
écoutant he sat for five years, alongside of the conseiller-juges
and often, the reporter of a case, he gave his opinion. After such
a novitiate, he was competent to form a judgment in civil or criminal
cases with experience, competency and authority. From the age of
twenty-five, he was prepared for and capable of serious duties. He
had only to live and perfect himself to become an administrator, deputy
or minister, a dignitary as we see under the first Empire, under the
Restoration, under the July monarchy, that is to say the best informed, well-balanced, judicious political character and, at length, the man of highest consideration of his epoch.[73]

Such is also the process which, still at the present day (1890), in
England and in America secures future ability in the various
professions. In the hospital, in the mine, in factories, with the
architect, with the lawyer, the pupil, taken very young, goes through
his apprenticeship and subsequent stages about the same as a clerk
with us in an office or an art-student in the studio. Preliminarily
and before entering it, he has attended some general seminary lecture
which serves him as a ready-made basis for the observations he is
about to make. Meanwhile, there are very often technical courses
within reach, which he may attend at his leisure in order to give
shape to his daily experiences as these happen to accumulate. Under a
régime of this stamp practical capacity grows and develops of itself,
just to that degree which the faculties of the pupil warrant, and in
the direction which his future aims require, through the special work
to which he wishes for the time being to adapt himself. In this way,
in England and in the United States, the young man soon succeeds in
developing all he is good for. From the age of twenty-five and much
sooner, if the substance and bottom are not wanting, he is not only a
useful subordinate, but again a spontaneous creator, not merely a
wheel but besides this a motor force. In France, where the inverse
process has prevailed and become more and more Chinese at each
generation, the total of the force lost is immense.

The most productive period of human life extends from fifteen or
sixteen up to twenty-five or twenty-six; here are seven or eight years
of growing energy and of constant production, buds, flowers and fruit;
during this period the young man sketches out his original ideas. But,
that these ideas may be born in him, sprout, and flourish they must,
at this age, profit by the stimulating or repressive influence of the
atmosphere in which they are to live later on; here only are they
formed in their natural and normal environment; their germs depend for
their growth on the innumerable impressions due to the young man's
sensations, daily, in the workshop, in the mine, in the court-room, in
the studio, on the scaffolding of a building, in the hospital, on
seeing tools, materials and operations, in talking with clients and
workmen, in doing work, good or bad, costly or remunerative; such are
the minute and special perceptions of the eyes and the ears, of touch
and even smell which, involuntarily gathered in and silently
elaborated, work together in him and suggest, sooner or later, this or
that new combination, economy, perfection or invention.[74] The young
Frenchman, just at this fecund age, is deprived of all these precious
contacts, of all these assimilating and indispensable elements. During
seven or eight years, he is shut up in school, remote from the direct
and personal experience which might have given him an exact and
vivifying notion of men and things, and of the various ways of
handling them. All this time his inventive faculties are deliberately
sterilized; he can be nothing but a passive recipient; whatever he
might have produced under the other system he cannot produce under
this one; the balance of debit and credit is utter loss. - Meanwhile,
the cost has been great. Whilst the apprentice, the clerk busy with
his papers in his office, the interne with his apron standing by the
bedside of the patient in the hospital, pays by his services, at first
for his instruction, then for his breakfast, and ends in gaining
something besides, at least his pocket-money, the student under the
Faculty, or the pupil in a special school is educated and lives at the
expense of his family or of the State; he gives back in exchange not
work that is useful to mankind, none that is worth anything on the
market; his actual consumption is not compensated for by his actual
production. Undoubtedly, he cherishes the hope that some day or other
he will obtain compensation, that we will refund later and largely
both capital and interest, and all the advances made; in other words,
his future services are discounted and, as far as he is concerned, he
speculates on a long credit. - It remains to be seen whether the
speculation is a good one; whether, at last, the receipts will cover
the expenses, in short, what will be the net or average returns on the
man thus fashioned.[75]

Now, among the forces expended, the most important to take into
account is the time and attention of the pupil, the sum of his
efforts, this or that quantity of mental energy; he has only a limited
provision of this, and, not only is the proportion of this which the
system consumes excessive, but, again, the application of it which the
system enforces is not remunerative. The provision is exhausted and by
a wrong use of it, with scarcely any profit. - In our lycées, the
pupil sits at his task more than eleven hours a day; in a certain
ecclesiastical college it is twelve hours, and, from the age of twelve
years, through the necessity of being first in competition as well as
for securing the greatest number of admissions through various
examinations. - At the end of this secondary education there is a
graduated scale of successive test, and first the baccalauréat. Fifty
out of one hundred candidates fail and the examiners are
indulgent.[76] This proves, first of all, that the rejected have
profited by their studies; but it likewise proves that the program of
the examination is not adapted to the general run of minds, nor to the
native faculties of the human majority; that many young men capable of
learning by the opposite method learn nothing by this one; that
education, such as it is, with the kind and greatness of the mental
labor it imposes, with its abstract and theoretical style, is beyond
the capacity of the average mind. - Particularly, during the last year
of classical studies, the pupils have had to follow the philosophy
lectures: in the time of M. Laromiquière, this might be useful to
them; in the time of M. Cousin, the course, so far, did but little
harm; at the present day, impregnated with neo-Kantism, it injects
into minds of eighteen, seventeen, and even sixteen years, a
metaphysical muddle as cumbersome as the scholasticism of the
fourteenth century, terribly indigestible and unhealthy for the
stomachs of novices; the swallow even to bursting and throw it off at
the examination just as it comes, entirely raw for lack of the
capacity to assimilate it. - Often, after failure at the baccalauréat,
or on entering the preparatory or Grande Écoles, the young people go
into, or are put into, what they call "a box" or an "oven" a
preparatory internat, similar to the boxes in which silkworms are
raised and to the ovens where the eggs are hatched. In more exact
language it is a mechanical "gaveuse"[77] in which they are daily
crammed; through this constant, forced feeding, their real knowledge
is not increased, nor their mental vigor; they are superficially
fattened and, at the end of the year, or in eighteen months, they
present themselves on the appointed day, with the artificial and
momentary volume they need for that day, with the bulk, surface,
polish and all the requisite externals, because these externals are
the only ones that the examination verifies and imposes.[78] Less
harshly, but in the same manner and with the same object, operate the
special education services which, inside our colleges and lycées,
prepare young men for the École de Saint-Cyr and for the polytechnic,
naval, central, normal, agricultural, commercial and forestry schools;
in these too, the studies are cramming machines which prepare the
pupil for examination purposes. In the like manner, above secondary
education, all our special schools are public cramming machines;[79]
alongside of them are private schools advertised and puffed in the
newspapers and by posters of the walls, preparing young men for the
license degree in Law and for the third or fourth examinations in
Medicine. Some day or other, others will probably exist to prepare
them for Treasury inspectors, for the "Cour des Comptes," for
diplomacy, by competition, the same as for the medical profession, for
a hospital surgeon and for aggregation in law, medicine, letters or

Undoubtedly, some minds, very active and very robust, withstand this
régime; all they have been made to swallow is absorbed and digested.
After leaving school and having passed through all grades they
preserve the faculty of learning, investigating and inventing intact,
and compose the small élite of scholars, litterateurs, artists,
engineers and physicians who, in the international exposition of
superior talent, maintain France in its ancient rank.[80] - But the
rest, in very great majority, nine out of ten at least, have lost
their time and trouble, many years of their life and years that are
useful, important and even decisive: take at once one-half or two-
thirds of those who present themselves at the examinations, I mean the
rejected, and then, among the admitted who get diplomas, another half
or two-thirds that is to say, the overworked. Too much has been
required of them by exacting that, on such a day, seated or before the
blackboard, for two entire hours, they should be living repertories of
all human knowledge; in effect, such they are, or nearly so, that day,
for two hours; but, a month later, they are so no longer; they could
not undergo the same examination; their acquisitions, too numerous and
too burdensome, constantly drop of their minds and they make no new
ones. Their mental vigor has given way, the fecund sap has dried up;
the finished man appears, often a finished man content to be put away,
to be married, and plod along indefinitely in the same circle,
entrenched in his restricted vocation and doing his duty, but nothing
more. Such are the average returns - assuredly, the profits do not
make up for the expenses. In England and in America where, as before
1789 in France, the inverse method is followed, the returns are equal
or superior,[81] and they are obtained with greater facility, with
more certainty, at an age less tardy, without imposing such great and
unhealthy efforts on the young man, such large expenditure by the
State, and such long delays and sacrifices on families.[82]

Now, in the four Faculties of Law, Medicine, Science and Letters,
there are this year 22,000 students; add to these the pupils of the
special schools and those who study with the hope of entering them, in
all probably 30,000. But there is no need of counting them; since the
suppression of the one-year voluntariat, the entire body of youths
capable of study, who wish to remain only one year in barracks and not
remain there to get brutalized during three years, flocks to the
benches of the lycée or to those of a Faculty.[83] The sole object of
the young man is not, as before, to reach the baccalauréat; it is
essential that he should be admitted, after a competition, into one of
the special schools, or obtain the highest grades or diplomas in one
of the Faculties; in all cases he is bound to successfully undergo
difficult and multiplied examinations. At present time (1890), there
is no place in France for an education in the inverse sense, nor for
any other of a different type. Henceforth, no young man, without
condemning himself to three years of barrack life, can travel at an
early age for any length of time, or form his mind at home by free and
original studies, stay in Germany and follow speculative studies in
the universities, or go to England or to America to derive practical
instruction from factory or farm. Captured by our system, he is forced
to surrender himself to the mechanical routine which fills his mind
with fictitious tools, with useless and cumbersome acquisitions that
impose on him in exchange an exorbitant expenditure of mental energy
and which is very like to convert him into a mandarin.

V. Public instruction in 1890.

Public instruction since 1870. - Agreement between the Napoleonic and

Book of the day: