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 6 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.

Jacobin conception. - Extension and aggravation of the system. - The
deductive process of the Jacobin mind. - Its consequences. - In
superior and in secondary instruction. - In primary instruction. -
Gratuitous, obligatory and secular instruction.

Such is the singular and final result brought about by the institution
of the year X (or 1801), due to the intervention of the grossly
leveling Jacobin spirit.[84] Indeed, since 1871, and especially since
1879, this spirit, through Napoleonic forms, has given breath, impulse
and direction, and these forms suit it. On the principle that
education belongs to the State, Napoleon and the old Jacobins were in
accord; what he in fact established they had proclaimed as a dogma;
hence the structure of his university-organisation was not
objectionable to them; on the contrary, it conformed to their
instincts. Hence, the reason why the new Jacobins, inheritors of both
instinct and dogma, immediately adopted the existing system; none was
more convenient, better calculated to meet their views, better adapted
in advance to do their work. Consequently, under the third
Republic,[85] as under anterior governments, the school machinery
continues to turn and grind in the same rut. Through the same working
of its mechanism, under the same impulse of its unique and central
motor, conforming to the same Napoleonic and Jacobin idea of the
teaching State, it is a formidable concept which, more intrusive every
year, more widely and more rigorously applied, more and more excludes
the opposite concept. This would be the remission of education to
those interested in it, to those who possess rights, to parents, to
free and private enterprises which depend only on personal exertions
and on families, to permanent, special, local corporations,
proprietary and organized under status, governed, managed, and
supported by themselves. On this model, a few men of intelligence and
sensibility, enlightened by what is accomplished abroad, try to
organize regional universities in our great academic centers. The
State might, perhaps, allow, if not the enterprise itself, then at
least something like it, but nothing more. Through its right of public
administration, through the powers of its Council of State, through
its fiscal legislation, through the immemorial prejudices of its
jurists, through the routine of its bureaus, it is hostile to a
corporate personality. Never can such a project be considered a
veritable civil personage; if the State consents to endow a group of
individuals with civil powers, it is always on condition that they be
subject to its narrow tutelage and be treated as minors and children.
- Besides, these universities, even of age, are to remain as they are,
so many dispensaries of diplomas. They are no longer to serve as an
intellectual refuge, an oasis at the end of secondary instruction, a
station for three or four years for free curiosity and disinterested
self-culture. Since the abolition of the volontariat for one year, a
young Frenchman no longer enjoys the leisure to cultivate himself in
this way; free curiosity is interdicted; he is too much harassed by a
too positive interest, by the necessity of obtaining grades and
diplomas, by the preoccupations of examinations, by the limitations of
age; he has no time to lose in experiments, in mental excursions, in
pure speculations. Henceforth, our system allows him only the régime
to which we see him subject, namely the rush, the puffing and blowing,
the gallop without stopping on a race-course, the perilous jumps at
regular distances over previously arranged and numbered obstacles.
Instead of being restricted and attenuated, the disadvantages of the
Napoleonic institution spread and grow worse, and this is due to the
way in which our rulers comprehend it, the original, hereditary way of
the Jacobin spirit.

When Napoleon built his University he did it as a statesman and a man
of business, with the foresight of a contractor and a practical man,
calculating outlay and receipts, means and resources, so as to produce
at once and with the least expense, the military and civil tools which
he lacked and of which he always had too few because he consumed too
many: to this precise, definite purpose he subjected and subordinated
all the rest, including the theory of the educational State; she was
for him simply a résumé, a formula, a setting. On the contrary, for
the old Jacobins, she was an axiom, a principle, an article in the
Social Contract; by this contract, the State had charge of public
education; it had the right and its duty was to undertake this and
manage it. The principle being laid down, as convinced theorists and
blindly following the deductive method, the derived consequences from
it and rushed ahead, with eyes shut, into practical operation, with as
much haste as vigor, without concerning themselves with the nature of
human materials, of surrounding realities, of available resources, of
collateral effects, nor of the total and final effect. Likewise with
the new Jacobins of the present day, according to them, since
instruction is a good thing,[86] the broader and deeper it is the
better; since broad and deep instruction is very good, the State
should, with all its energy and by every means in its power, inculcate
it on the greatest possible number of children, boys and adolescents.
Such, henceforth, is the word of command from on high, transmitted
down to the three stages of superior, secondary and primary

Consequently, from 1876 to 1890,[88] the State expends for superior
instruction, in buildings alone, 99,000,000 francs. Formerly, the
receipts of the Faculties about covered their expenses; at the present
day, the State allows them annually 6,000,000 francs more than their
receipts. It has founded and supports 221 new (professional) chairs,
168 complementary courses of lectures, 129 conférences and, to supply
the attendants, it provides, since 1877, 300 scholarships for those
preparing for the license and, since 1881, 200 scholarships for those
preparing for the aggrégation. Similarly, in secondary instruction,
instead of 81 lycées in 1876, it has 100 in 1887[89]; instead of 3,820
scholarships in 1876, it distributes, in 1887, 10,528; instead of
2,200,000 francs expended for this branch of instruction in 1857, it
expends 18,000,000 in 1889. - This overload of teaching caused
overloaded exams: it was necessary to include more science than in the
past to curriculum of the grades delivered and determined by the
State. "This was what was then done whenever possible."[90]
Naturally, and through contagion, the obligation of possessing more
knowledge descended to secondary instruction. In effect, after this
date, we see neo-Kantian philosophy descending like hail from the
highest metaphysical ether down upon the pupils in the terminal class
of the lycées, to the lasting injury of the seventeen-year old brains.
Again, after this date, we see in the class of special mathematics[91]
an abundance of complicated, confusing problems so that, today, the
candidate for the Polytechnic School must, to gain admission, expound
theorems that were only mastered by his father after he got there. -
Hence, "boxes" and "ovens", private internats, the preparatory secular
or ecclesiastical schools and other "scholastic cramming-machines";
hence, the prolonged mechanical effort to introduce into each
intellectual sponge all the scientific fluid it can contain, even to
saturation, and maintain it in this extreme state of perfection if
only for two hours during an examination, after which it may rapidly
subside and shrink. Hence, that mistaken use, that inordinate
expenditure, that precocious waste of mental energy, and that entire
pernicious system which overburden for a substantial period the young,
not for their advantage, but, on reaching maturity, to their
intellectual detriment.

To reach the uncultivated masses, to address popular intellect and
imagination, one must use absolute, simple slogans. In the matter of
primary instruction, the simplest and most absolute slogan is that
which promises and offers it to all children, boys and girls, not
merely universal, but again, complete and gratuitous. To this end,
from 1878 to 1891,[92] the State has expended for school buildings and
installations 582,000,000 francs; for salaries and other expenses it
furnished the latter year 131,000,000. Somebody pays for all this, and
it is the tax-payer, and by force; aided by gendarmes, the collector
puts his hand forcibly into all pockets, even those containing only
sous, and withdraws these millions. Gratuitous instruction sounds well
and seems to designate a veritable gift, a present from the great
vague personage called the State, and whom the general public dimly
sees on the distant horizon as a superior, independent being, and
hence a possible benefactor. In reality, his presents are made with
our money, while his generosity consists in the fine name with which
he here gilds his fiscal exactions, a new constraint added to so many
others which he imposes on us and which we endure.[93] - Besides,
through instinct and tradition, the State is naturally inclined to
multiply constraints, and this time there is no concealment. From six
to thirteen years of age, primary instruction becomes obligatory.[94]
The father is required to prove that his children receive it, if not
at the public school at least in a private school or at home. During
these seven years it continues, and ten months are devoted to it each
year. The school takes and keeps the child three hours in the morning
and three hours in the afternoon; it pours into these little heads all
that is possible in such a length of time, all that they can hold and
more too, - spelling, syntax, grammatical and logical analysis, rules
of composition and of style, history, geography, arithmetic, geometry,
drawing, notions of literature, politics, law, and finally a complete
moral system, "civic morality."

It is obviously very useful for every adult to be able to read, write
and reckon. Who, then, can criticize a Government because it insists
that all children be taught these basic skills? But for the same
reason and on the same principle, provision could be made for
swimming-schools in every village and town on the sea-coast, or on the
streams and rivers; every boy should be obliged to learn how to swim.
- That it may be useful for every boy and girl in the United States to
pass through the entire system of primary instruction is peculiar to
the United States and is comprehensible in an extensive and new
country where multiplied and diverse pursuits present themselves on
all sides;[95] where every career may lead to the highest pinnacle;
where a rail-splitter may become president of the republic; where the
adult often changes his career and, to afford him the means for
improvising a competency at each change, he must possess the elements
of every kind of knowledge; where the wife, being for the man an
object of luxury, does not use her arms in the fields and scarcely
ever uses her hands in the household.[96] - It is not the same in
France. Nine out of ten pupils in the primary school are sons or
daughters of peasants or of workmen and will remain in the condition
of their parents; the girl, adult, will do washing and cooking all her
life at home or abroad; the son, adult, confined to his occupation
will work all his life in a shop or on his own or another's field.
Between this destiny of the adult and the plenitude of his primary
instruction, the disproportion is enormous; it is evident that his
education does not prepare him for the life he has to lead; but for
another life, less monotonous, under less restraint, more cerebral,
and of which a faint glimpse disgusts him with his own;[97] at least,
it will disgust him for a long time and frequently, until the day
comes when his school acquisitions, wholly superficial, shall have
evaporated in contact with the ambient atmosphere and no longer appear
to him other than empty phrases; in France, for an ordinary peasant or
workman, so much the better if this day comes early.[98]

At the very least, three quarters of these acquisitions are for him
superfluous. He derives no advantage from them, neither for inward
satisfaction or for getting ahead in the world; and yet they must all
be gone through with. In vain would the father of a family like to
curtail his children's mental stores to useful knowledge, to reading,
writing and arithmetic, to giving to these just the necessary time, at
the right season, three months for two or three winters, to keep his
twelve-year-old daughter at home to help her mother and take care of
the other children, to keep his boy of ten years for pasturing cattle
or for goading on the oxen at the plow.[99] In relation to his
children and their interests as well as for his own necessities, he is
suspect, he is not a good judge; the State has more light and better
intentions than he has. Consequently, the State has the right to
constrain him and in fact, from above, from Paris, the State does
this. Legislators, as formerly in 1793, have acted according to
Jacobin procedure, as despotic theorists. They have formed in their
minds a uniform, universal, simple type, that of a child from six to
thirteen years as they want to see it, without adjusting the
instruction they impose on it to its prospective condition, making
abstraction of his positive and personal interest, of his near and
certain future, setting the father aside, the natural judge and
competent measurer of the education suitable to his son and daughter,
the sole authorized arbiter for determining the quality, duration,
circumstances and counterpoise of the mental and moral manipulation to
which these young lives, inseparable from his own, are going to be
subject away from home. - Never, since the Revolution, has the State
so vigorously affirmed its omnipotence, nor pushed in encroachments on
and intrusion into the proper domain of the individual so far, even to
the very center of domestic life. Note that in 1793 and 1794 the plans
of Lepelletier de Saint-Fargeau and of Saint-Just remained on paper;
the latter for ten years have been in practical operation.[100]

At bottom, the Jacobin is a sectarian, propagator of his own faith,
and hostile to the faith of others. Instead of admitting that that
people's conceptions are different and rejoicing that there are so
many of them, each adapted to the human group which believes in it,
and essential to believers to help them along, he admits but one, his
own, and he uses power to force it upon adherents. He also has his own
creed, his catechism, his imperative formula, and he imposes them. -
Henceforth,[101] education shall be not only free and obligatory but
again secular and nothing but secular. Thus far, the great majority of
parents, most of the fathers and all of the mothers, were desirous
that it should at the same time be religious. Without speaking of
professing Christians, many heads of families, even lukewarm,
indifferent or skeptical, judge that this mixture of the two is better
for children, and especially for girls. According to them, knowledge
and faith should not enter into these young minds separate, but
combined and as one aliment; at least, in the particular case in which
they were concerned, this, in their view, was better for the child,
for themselves, for the internal discipline of the household, for good
order at home for which they were responsible, for the maintenance of
respect, and for the preservation of morals. For this reason, the
municipal councils, previous to the laws of 1882 and 1886, still free
to choose instruction and teachers as they pleased, often entrusted
their school to the Christian Brethren or Sisters under contract for a
number of years, at a fixed price, and all the more willingly because
this price was very low.[102] Hence, in 1886, there were in the
public schools 10,029 teachers of the Christian Brethren and 39,125 of
the Sisters. Now, since 1886, the law insists that public instruction
shall be not only secular, but that lay teachers only shall teach; the
communal schools, in particular, shall be all secularized, and, to
complete this operation, the legislator fixes the term of delay; after
that, no member of a congregation, monk or nun, shall teach in any
public school.

Meanwhile, each year, by virtue of the law, the communal schools are
secularized by hundreds, by fair means or foul; although this is by
right a local matter, the municipal councils are not consulted; the
heads of families have no voice in this private, domestic interest
which touches them to the quick, and such a sensitive point. And
likewise, in the cost of the operation their part is officially
imposed them; at the present day,[103] in the sum-total of 131,000,000
francs which primary instruction costs annually, the communes
contribute 50,000,000 francs; from 1878 to 1891, in the sum-total of
582,000,000 francs expended on school buildings, they contributed
312,000,000 francs. - If certain parents are not pleased with this
system they have only to subscribe amongst themselves, build a private
school at their own expense, and support Christian Brothers or Sisters
in these as teachers. That is their affair; they will not pay one cent
less to the commune, to the department or to the State, so that their
tax will be double and they will pay twice, first for the primary
instruction which they dislike, and next for the primary instruction
which suits them. - Thousands of private schools are founded on these
conditions. In 1887,[104] these had 1,091,810 pupils, about one fifth
of all children inscribed in all the primary schools. Thus one fifth
of the parents do not want the secular system for their children; at
least, they prefer the other when the other is offered to them; but,
to offer it to them, very large donations, a multitude of voluntary
subscriptions, are necessary. The distrust and aversion which this
system, imposed from above excites can be measured by the number of
parents and children and by the greatness of the donations and
subscriptions. Note, moreover, that in many of the other communes, in
all places where the resources, the common understanding and the
generosity of individual founders and donators are not sufficient, the
parents, even distrustful and hostile, are now constrained to send
their children to the school which is repugnant to them. - In order to
be more precise, imagine an official and daily journal entitled
Secular journal, obligatory and gratuitous for children from six to
thirteen, founded and supported by the State, at an average cost of
582,000,000 francs to set it agoing, and 131,0000,000 francs of annual
expenditure, the whole taken from the purses of taxpayers, willingly
or not; take it for granted that the 6,000,000 children, girls and
boys, from six to thirteen, are forced subscribers to this journal,
that they get it every day except Sundays, that, every day, they are
bound to read the paper for six hours. The State, through toleration,
allows the parents who do not like the official sheet to take another
which suits them; but, that another may be within reach, it is
necessary that local benefactors, associated together and taxed by
themselves, should be willing to establish and support it; otherwise,
the father of a family is constrained to read the secular journal to
his children, which he deems badly composed and marred by
superfluities and shortcomings, in brief edited in an objectionable
spirit. Such is the way in which the Jacobin State respects the
liberty of the individual.

On the other hand, through this operation, it has extended and
fortified itself; it has multiplied the institutions it directs and
the persons whom it controls. To direct, inspect, augment and diffuse
its primary instruction, the State has maintained 173 normal schools
for teachers, male and female, 736 schools and courses of lectures in
primary, superior and professional instruction, 66,784 elementary
schools, 3,597 maternal schools, and about 115,000 functionaries, men
and women.[105] Through these 115,000 officials, representatives and
megaphones, Secular Reason, which is enthroned at Paris, sends its
voice even to the smallest and most remote villages. It is this
Reason, as our rulers define it, with the inclinations, limitations
and prejudices they have need of, the near-sighted and half-
domesticated grand-daughter of that other formidable sightless, brutal
and mad grandmother, who, in 1793 and 1794, sat under the same name
and in the same place. With less of violence and blundering, but by
virtue of the same instinct and with the same one-sidedness, the
latter employs the same propaganda. She too wants to seize the new
generations, and through her programs and manuals, her insinuations
and summaries of the Ancient Régime, the Revolution and the Empire, by
her perceptions of recent or contemporary matters, through her
formulae and suggestions in relation to moral, social and political
affairs, it is of her and she alone, that she preaches and glorifies.

VI. Summary.

Total and actual effect of the system. - Increasing unsuitableness
between early education and adult life. - Change for the worse in the
mental and moral balance of contemporary youth.

In this manner does the education by the State end. (in 1890) When a
matter is taken out of the hands of those who are concerned and handed
over to a third and differently motivated party, it cannot end well;
sooner or later, this basic defect will dominate and lead to
unexpected results. In this case a growing disparity between education
and life. On the three levels of instruction, infancy, adolescence and
youth, the actual theoretical and direct instruction is extended and
overloaded with the examination, the grade, the diploma and the
certificate in view only. To this end any and all means is used;
through the application of an unnatural and anti-social system
competition, through excessive delay in practical apprenticeship,
through the internat, through artificial stimulation and mechanical
cramming, and through overwork. There is no consideration of the
future, of the adult epoch and the duties of the complete man. The
real world in which the young man is about to enter, the state of
society to which he must adapt or resign himself, the human struggle
in which he must defend himself or keep erect is left out. For this
new life he is neither armed, equipped, drilled and hardened. That
solid common sense, that determination and those steady nerves,
indispensable tools in life, are not dispensed by our schools; quite
the contrary; far from qualifying him for his approaching independence
the schools disqualify him for it. Accordingly, his entrance into the
world and his first steps on the field of practical life are generally
a series of painful failures; as a consequence he remains bruised,
often for a long time, offended sometimes permanently crippled. This
is a rude and dangerous ordeal; the moral and mental balance is
altered and risks never being restored; his illusions vanish too
suddenly and too completely. His deceptions have been too great and
his disappointment too severe. Sometimes, among close friends,
embittered and worn out like himself, he is tempted to tell us:

"Through your education you have led us to believe, or you have let us
believe, that the world is made in a certain fashion. You have
deceived us. It is much uglier, more dull, dirtier, sadder and harder,
at least in our opinion and to our imagination: you judge us as
overexcited and disordered; if so, it is your fault. For this reason,
we curse and scoff at your world and reject your pretended truths
which, for us, are lies, including those elementary and primordial
verities which you declare are evident to common sense, and on which
you base your laws, your institutions, your society, your philosophy,
your sciences and your arts."

This is what our contemporary youth, through their tastes, opinions,
vague desires in letters, arts and life, have loudly proclaimed for
the past fifteen years.[106] (Written in 1890.)


It is only fair to the French to note that they have, since the law
called Debré in 1959 allowed the Catholic schools to operate freely
with teachers paid by the state provided they,

* use qualified teachers,

* have a contract with the government submitting to inspection of
their buildings etc.,

* submit to government study programs,

* regular accepted hours etc. (SR.)



[1] Ordinance of Oct. 4, 1814.

[2] Liard, "L'Enseignement supérieur pendant la Restauration." (Rev.
des deux Mondes, number for Feb.15, 1892.) Decree of April 8, 1814.

[3] Ordinance of April 17, 1815 (to suppress the university pay and
separate the sole University into seventeen regional universities.)
This ordinance, dating from the last days of the first Restoration, is
repealed the first days of the second Restoration, Aug. 15, 1815.

[4] "The Modern Régime," p.316. (Laff. II 581-582.)

[5] Basset, censor of studies in the Charlemagne college, "Coup d'œil
général sur l'Éducation et l'Instruction publique en France" (1816),
p. 21. (State of the University in 1815.)

[6] Today, in year 2000, the educational machinery in France employs
more than 1 million teachers and, as all children are in school from
the age of 3 to at least 16 years of age, there are more than 12
million children and students under the tutelage of the state. (SR.)

[7] Political party terms.

[8] Ordinance of Feb.21, 1821, article 13, and Report by M. de
Corbières: " The youth clamour for a religious and moral direction. .
. . The religious direction belongs by right to the highest pastors:
it is proper to ask from them for these establishments (the university
colleges) for constant supervision and to legally call on them to
suggest all measures that they may deem necessary."

[9] Liard, "L'Enseignement supérieur," 840 (Speech by Benjamin
Constant in the Chamber of Députés, May 18th, 1827).

[10] Ordinances of Novem. 21, 1822, article I, and Feb. 2, 1823,
article II.

[11] Ordinances of Sep. 6, 1822, and of Feb. 21st, 1821, title VI,
with report by M. de Corbières.

[12] Liard, ibid., p. 840. (Circular addressed to the rectors by
Monseigneur Freyssinous immediately after his installation:) "In
summoning a man of sacerdotal character to the head of public
instruction, His Majesty has made all France well aware of his great
desire to have the youth of his kingdom brought up in monarchical and
religious sentiments. . . . Whoever has the misfortune to live without
religion, or not to be devoted to the reigning family, ought to be
sensible of what he lacks in becoming a worthy instructor of youth. He
is to be pitied and is even culpable." - "Ambroise Rendu," by Eug.
Rendu, p. III (circular to rectors in 1817). "Make it known to the MM.
the bishops and to all ecclesiastics that, in the work of education,
you are simply auxiliaries, and that the object of primary instruction
is above all to fortify religious instruction."

[13] De Riancey, "Histoire de l'instruction publique," II.,312.
(Apropos of the lectures by Guizot and Cousin, stopped by Mgr. de
Freyssinous:) " He did not believe that a Protestant and a philosopher
could treat the most delicate questions of history and science with
impartiality, and through a fatal effect of the monopoly he found
himself placed between his conscience and the law. On this occasion he
sacrificed the law."

[14] Liard, ibid., p.837. After 1820, "a series of measures are passed
which, little by little, give back its primitive constitution to the
University and even end in incorporating it more closely with power
than under the Empire.

[15] Here Taine describes the very principle of democratic government
in a welfare state. "Do not worry, demand and we supply, the rich will
pay!!!" Taine understood and foresaw the riches which the industrial
society could be made to produce but neither he nor anyone else could
foresee that Human Rights should include central heating, housing,
running hot and cold water, television, free health care, a car and
worldwide tourism..(SR.)

[16] See "The Modern Régime," I., pp.183, 202.

[17] Maggiolo, "des Ecoles en Lorraine." (Details on several communal
schools.) 3rd part, pp. 9-50. - Cf. Jourdain, "le Budget de
l'Instruction publique," 1857, passim. (Appropriation by the State for
primary instruction in 1829, 100,000 francs; in 1832, 1,000,000
francs; in 1847, 2,400,000 francs; - for secondary instruction, in
1830, 920,000 francs; in 1848, 1,500,000 francs; in 1854, 1,549,241
francs. (The towns support their own communal colleges.) - Liard, "
Universités et Facultés," p. II. In 1829, the budget of Faculties
does not reach 1,000,000 francs; in 1848, it is 2,876,000 francs.

[18] Law of Floreal 11, year X, article 4. - " Rapport sur la
statistique comparée de l'enseignement primaire," 1880, vol. II.,p.
133; - 31 per cent of the pupils in the public schools were
gratuitously admitted in 1837; 57 per cent in 1876-77. The
congregationists admit about two thirds of their scholars gratuitously
and one third for pay.

[19] Cf. Jourdain, Ibid., pp. 22, 143, 161.

[20] Cf. Jourdain, Ibid., p.287. (The fixed salary and examination-
fees are included in the above figures.) In 1850, the regular salary
of the professor in the Paris Medical Faculty is reduced from 7000 to
6000 francs. In 1849, the maximum of all the salaries of the Law
professors is limited to 12,000 francs.

[21] Read, among other biographies, "Ambroise Rendu," by Eug. Rendu.

[22] This, in France, lasted until the Communists in 1946 insisted as
a price for their participation in governing France that the right to
strike for civil servants be inserted in the French Constitution. In
this way Stalin was sure to trouble France a great deal. (SR.)

[23] "Rapport sur la statistique comparée de l'enseignement primaire,"
1880, vol. II.,pp.8, 110, 206. - Law of March 15, 1850, "Exposé des
motifs," by M. Beugnot.

[24] "Revue des Deux Mondes," number of Aug.15, 1869, pp. 909, 911.
(Article by M. Boissier.)

[25] Act of Nov. 9, 1818. (Down to 1850 and after, the University so
arranged its teaching (in high school) as not to come in conflict with
the clergy on the debatable grounds of history. For example, at the
end of the 8th grade the history of the Roman Empire after Augustus
was rapidly passed over and then, in the 9th grade, they began again
with the invasion of the barbarians. The origins of Christianity and
the entire primitive history of the Christian Church were thus
avoided. For the same reason, modern history ended in 1789.

[26] M. Guizot," Mémoires," vol. II.

[27] An eminent university personage, a political character and man of
the world, said to me in 1850: "Pedagogy does not exist. There are
only personal methods which each finds out for himself and eloquent
phrases for effect on the public."- - Bréal, "Quelques mots sur
l'instruction publique" (1872), p. 300: " France produces more works
on sericiculture than on the direction of colleges; rules and a few
works already ancient suffice for us."

[28] On this day the monarchy of King Louis-Phillippe collapsed and
the Republic was declared. (SR.)

[29] "L'Église et l'État sous la monarchie de juillet," by Thureau-
Dangin, 481-483.

[30] Law of March 15, 1850 (Report by M. Beugnot).

[31] Law of March 15, 1850, art. 21.

[32] Law of March 15, 1850, article 21.

[33] "Ambroise Rendu et l'Université de France," by E. Rendu, p.128
(January, 1850). The discretionary power given to the prefects to
punish "the promoters of socialism" among the teachers in the primary
schools. - Six hundred and eleven teachers revoked. - There was no
less repression and oppression in the secondary and higher departments
of instruction.

[34] Kingdom of July, (Louis-Philippe from 1830 to 24-2-1848.) (SR.)

[35] De Riancey, ibid., II.., 476. (Words of M. Saint-Marc Girardin.)
"We instruct, we do not bring up (children); we cultivate and develop
the mind, not the heart." - Similar evidence, as for instance that of
M. Dubois, director of the Ecole Normale and of M. Guizot, minister of
public instruction. " Education is not up to the level of
instruction." (Exposition of the intent of the law of 1836.)

[36] De Riancey, ibid., II., 401, 475. - Thureau-Dangin, ibid., 145
and 146. - (Words of a fervent Catholic, M. de Montalembert,on the
trial of the Free School, Sept.29, 1831.) "It is with a heart still
distressed with these souvenirs (personal) that I here declare that,
were I a father, I would rather see my children crawl their whole life
in ignorance and idleness than expose them to the horrible risk I ran
myself of obtaining a little knowledge at the cost of their father's
faith, at the price of everything that is pure and fresh in their soul
and of honor and virtue in their breast." - (Testimony of a zealous
Protestant, M. de Gasparin.) "Religious education does not really
exist in the colleges. I remember with horror how I was on finishing
my national education. Were we good citizens? I do not know. But it is
certain that we were not Christians." - Testimony of a free-thinker,
Sainte-Beuve.) "In mass, the professors of the University, without
being hostile to religion, are not religious. The pupils feel this,
and they leave this atmosphere, not fed on irreligion, but
indifferent. . . . One goes away from the University but little of a

[37] Boissier, ibid., p.712

[38] In my youth, I was able to talk with some of those who lived
during the Consulate. All agreed in opinion. One, an admirer of
Condillac and founder of a boarding-school, had written for his pupils
a number of small elementary treatises, which I still possess.

[39] Charles Hamel, " Histoire de Juilly," pp. 413, 419 (1818). -
Ibid., 532, 665 (April 15, 1846.) The Tontine Association replaced by
a limited association (40 years) with a capital of 500,000 francs in
1000 shares of 500 francs each, etc.

[40] For example, "Monge," the "École Alsacienne," the "École libre
des Sciences Politiques." Competent jurists recommend the founders of
a private school to organize it under the form of a commercial
association, with profit for its aim and not the public good. If the
founders of the school wish to maintain the free management of it they
must avoid declaring it "of public utility."

[41] The "École Alsacienne" has been supported for some years mainly
by a subsidy of 40,000 francs allotted by the State. This year the
State furnishes, "Monge" and "Sainte-Barbe" with subsidies of 130,000
and 150,000 francs, without which they would become bankrupt and close
their doors. The State probably thus supports them so as to have a
field of pedagogic experiences alongside of its lycées, or to prevent
their being bought by some Catholic corporation.

[42] Even when the masters are conciliatory or reserved the two
institutions face each other and the pupils are aware of the
antagonism; hence, they turn a cold shoulder to the pupils, education
and ideas of the rival institution. In 1852, and on four circular
journeys from 1863 to 1866, I was able to observe these sentiments
which are now very manifest.

[43] The period of the annual school examinations in France. - Tr.

[44] This word means something more than an ordinary "boarding-
school," as the reader will see by the text, and is therefore retained
as untranslatable. - Tr.

[45] Expositione universelle of 1889, "Rapport du jury," group II.,
1st part, P.492. - Documents collected in the bureaus of public
instruction for 1887. (To the internes here enumerated must be added
those of private secular establishments, 8958 out of 20,174 pupils.) -
Bréal, "Excursions pedagogiques," pp.293, 298.

[46] All these figures are today in 1998, 100 years later, no longer
valid, they are only included in order to understand Taine's insights
into human nature and education in general. In 1994-5 there were, in
the State lycées and colleges over 4 millions students and only those
whose parents live too far from the schools, or some 9%, are boarders.

[47] Today, in 1998, the number of pupils living on French school
premises amount to approximatively 10%, mostly because the parents
live too far away from the school. (SR.)

[48] Bréal, ibid., pp. 10, 13. Id., "Quelques mots sur l'instruction
publique," p. 286. "The internat is nearly unknown in Germany. . . .
The director (of the gymnase) informs parents where families can be
found willing to receive boarders and he must satisfy himself that
their hospitality is unobjectionable. . . . In the new gymnases there
is no room for boarders." - Demogeot et Montucci, "Rapport sur
l'enseignement secondaire en Angleterre et en Ecosse," 1865. - (I
venture also to refer the reader to my "Notes sur l'Angleterre," for a
description of Harrow-on-the-Hill and another school at Oxford, made
on the spot.)

[49] Taine, "Notes sur l'Angleterre," P.139. The pupils of the
superior class (sixth form), especially the first fifteen of the class
(monitors), the first pupil in particular, have to maintain order,
insure respect for the rules and, taking it all together, take the
place of our maitres d'étude.

[50] Bréal, "Quelques mots, etc.," pp.281, 282. The same in France,
"before the Revolution, . . . except in two or three large
establishments in Paris, the number of pupils was generally
sufficiently limited. . . . At Port-Royal the number of boarders was
never over fifty at one time." - " Before 1764, most of the colleges
were day-schools with from 15 to 8o pupils," besides the scholarships.
and peasant boarders, not very numerous. - "An army of boarders,
comprising more than one half of our bourgeois class, under a drill
regulated and overlooked by the State, buildings holding from seven to
eight hundred boarders - such is what one would vainly try to find
anywhere else, and which is essentially peculiar to contemporary

[51] Bréal, ibid., 287, id., " Excursions pedagogiques," p. 10. "I
took part (with these pupils) in a supper full of gayety in the room
of the celebrated Latinist, Corssen, and I remember the thought that
passed through my mind when recurring to the meal we silently partook
of at Metz, two hundred of us, under the eye of the censor and general
superintendent, and menaced with punishment, in our cold, monastic

[52] Even though Taine had visited Eton and other English schools, he
appears to have a somewhat rosy picture of life inside these
institutions. I have been 9 years to a similar school and can assure
the reader that the headmaster's wife is no suitable substitute for a
real mother and her table does not replace one's own home. The rector
of my school once stated that boarding schools should only be resorted
to when one could not remain at home. It was my impression that this
school had two effects upon me: the first that I wanted, in spite of
good grades, to stop my studies and get a job and the second that I
became, like Taine, an opponent to the system. Later on in life I
should come to appreciate all the useful things like languages,
literature, math and physics which I had learned in this well-
organized school. I also came to understand that much worse than harsh
discipline is no discipline and no learning at all, something which
happened to my children when they attended, for one year only, the
American School in Bangkok. (SR.)

[53] Pelet de la Lozère, " Opinions de Napoleon au Conseil d'État,"
p.172. (Session of April 7, 1807:) "The professors are to be
transferred from place to place in the Empire according to necessity."
- Decree of May 1, 1802, article 21 : "The three functionaries in
charge of the administration and the professors of the 1ycées may be
transferred from the weakest to the strongest lycées and from inferior
to superior places according to the talent and zeal they show in their

[54] A splendid description which also fits the international civil
servants working for the United Nations. I know this because I was one
for 32 years of my life. I suspect it also fits members of the police
forces, secret or not. (SR.)

[55] Act of Jan. 11, 1811. - Decree of March 17, 1808, articles 101
and 102.

[56] Boissier ("Revue du Deux Mondes," Aug. 15, 1869, p. 919): "The
externe lycées cost and the interne lycées bring in."

[57] "Statistique de l'enseigncnient secondaire" (46,816 pupils, of
which 33,092 internes and 13,724 externes). - Abbé Bougaud, "Le Grand
Péril de l'Eglise du France," p. 135. - "Moniteur," March 14, 1865,
Speech of Cardinal Bonnechose in the Senate.

[58] Name of the navy school-ship at Brest. - TR.

[59] Bréal, "Quelques mots, etc.," p. 308: "We need not be surprised
that our children, once out of the college, resemble horses just let
loose, kicking at every barrier and committing all sorts of capers.
The age of reason has been artificially retarded for them five or six

[60] On the tone and turn of conversation among boys in school on this
subject in the upper classes and even earlier, I can do no more than
appeal to the souvenirs of the reader. - Likewise, on another danger
of the internat, not less serious, which cannot be mentioned. (Here
Taine undoubtedly refers to homosexuality. (SR.))

[61] Bréal, "Excursions pédagogiques," pp. 326, 327. (Testimony of two
university graduates.) "The great college virtue is comradeship, which
comprises a bond of union among the pupils and hatred of the master."
(Bessot:) "Punishment irritates those who undergo it and engenders
punishment. The pupils become wearied: they fall into a state of mute
irritability coupled with contempt for the system itself and for those
who apply it. Unruliness furnishes them with the means of avenging
themselves or at least to relax their nerves; they commit disorders
whenever they can commit them with impunity. . . . The interdiction of
an act by authority is sufficient to excite the glory of committing
it." (A. Adam, "Notes sur l'administration du'un lycée.") - Two
independent and original minds have recounted their impressions on
this subject, one, Maxime Du Camp, who passed through the lycée
system, and the other, George Sand, who would not tolerate if for her
son. (Maxime Du Camp, "Souvenirs littéraires," and George Sand,
"Histoire de ma vie.")

[62] All this was in 1890, a long time ago, and if there was much to
learn then, how much do we not have to learn now? It helped, however,
to reduce the curriculum, that Latin and Greek was removed from middle
and senior high school programs and that international Socialism
through the Politically Correct movement, either forbade or rewrote
history, art and literature. In science, however, the young engineers
and scientists have a lot more to learn today and that in all branches
of science and especially in electronics. (SR.)

[63] The so-called "Grandes Ecoles" which exist today and which
continue to form the French administrative, commercial and scientific
elite. They cannot be done away with since the French universities
have become accessible for an ever increasing number of students since
nearly 50% of the population pass their "bac" or final high school
exam. The level of this exam has decreased year after year and only
the preparatory schools for the Grande Ecoles continue to insist on
verifying diligence and attention. (SR.)

[64] Taine expresses this in the following manner: "elle a imaginé
quantité de cours surérogatoires et de luxe, .." (SR.)

[65] This year (1892) 1750 candidates were entered or 240 vacancies in
the École Polytechnique, 230 for 30 places in the École des Beaux-Arts
(section of Architecture) and 266 for 24 places in the École Normale
(section of Literature).

[66] 1890.

[67] In France today, in 2000, there are still preparatory schools
which, in two or three years after their baccalaureat, prepare the
young applicants for the various competetive entrance examinations to
the "Grande Ecoles". 4000 specially selected students vie annually
with each other for the 400 places in the École Polytechnique. (SR.)

[68] I was once, writes Taine, an examiner for admission to a large
special school and speak from experience.. Taine was well placed to
know about the system since he was first in the competetive entrance
exam (concours) to the École Normale Superior, and had also passed all
his other studies with great brilliance. (SR.)

[69] A practical apprenticeship in the Faculty of Medicine is less
retarded; the future doctors, after the third year of their studies,
enter a hospital for two years, ten months of each year or 284 days of
service, including an "obstetrical stage" of one months. Later, on
competing for the title of physician or surgeon in the hospitals and
for the aggrégation of the Faculty, the theoretical preparation is as
onerous as that of other careers.

[70] "Souvenirs" by Chancellor Pasquier. (Written in 1843). (Étienne
Dennis Pasquier (Paris 1767-- † id. 1862) was a high official under
Napoleon, and President of the upper house under Louis-Phillippe and
author of "L'Histoire de mon temps", published posthumously in 1893.
Librarie Plon, Paris 1893. On page 16 and 17 in volume I he fully
confirms Taine's views. (SR.)

[71] Idem., Nobody attended the Lectures of the Law faculty of Paris,
except sworn writers who took down the professor's dictation and sold
copies of it. "These were nearly all supported by arguments
communicated beforehand. . . At Bourges, everything was got through
within five or six months at most."

[72] Souvenirs" by Chancellor Pasquier, vol. I. p. 17. Nowadays, "the
young man who enters the world at twenty-two, twenty-three or twenty-
four years of age, thinks that he has nothing more to learn; he
commonly starts with absolute confidence in himself and profound
disdain for whoever does not share in the ideas and opinions that he
has adopted. Full of confidence in his own force, taking himself at
his own value, he is governed by one single thought, that of
displaying this force and this estimate himself immediately so as to
demonstrate what he is worth." This must have been written around
1830. (SR.)

[73] This last quality is given by Sainte-Beuve.

[74] Dunoyer, "De la liberté du travail" (1845), II.,119. The
extraordinary progress of England in the mechanical arts, according to
English engineers, "depends much less on the theoretical knowledge of
scholars than on the practical skill of the workmen who always succeed
better in overcoming difficulties than cultivated minds." For example,
Watt, Stephenson, Arkwright, Crampton and, in France, Jacquart.

[75] Today, in year 2000, the socialist revolutionaries have, through
the Human Rights activities broken the chain between the generations,
forbidden the parents, the teachers and the supervisors to correct and
discipline their children and apprentices. The French educational
system, perfectly equal, still survives and is probably the best in
existence since it insists on teaching the students even if a lot of
the curriculum is a dead loss. The final product is still a useful
citizen and functionary, something which make France tick. (SR.)

[76] Bréal, "Quelques mots," etc.,, p. 336. (He quotes M. Cournot, a
former rector, inspector-general, etc.:) "The Faculties know that they
would be subject to warnings on the part of the authorities as well as
to comparisons and regrettable desertions on the part of the pupils if
the proportion between candidates and admissions did not vary between
45 and 50%. .. When the proportion of postponements reaches between 50
and 555 the examiners admit with groans, considering the hard times,
candidates of which they would reject at least one half their hands
were not tied." (This was 100 years ago, today less than 30% on the
average, but more than 70% in certain bad areas, fail their
Baccalauréat. The curriculum has, however, been lightened so that
about 50% of the population may end up passing their baccalauréat.
Democracy oblige. (SR.))

[77] A machine for the forced feeding of ducks and geese to make their
liver grow to excessive proportions.

[78] An old professor, after thirty years of service, observed to me
by way of summing up: "One half, at least, of our pupils are not
fitted to receive the instruction we give them."

[79] Lately, the director of one of these schools remarked with great
satisfaction and still greater naïveté : "This school is superior to
all others of its kind in Europe, for nowhere else is what we teach
taught in the same number of years."

[80] But what if Taine was mistaken? What if he, like so many other
highly talented and intelligent men, took his own superb intelligence
and imagination for granted? What if the talent of such men is
inherited? We know from identical twins how many of our
particularities have been given to us at birth. What if most men are
lazy and especially intellectually so, what if we can only be made to
learn and think when under great stress, the stress introduced by fear
of dismissal or hope of promotion or riches? Then the French system is
perhaps hard, perhaps expensive but certainly useful in producing the
great number of hardworking and competent and passively obedient
supervisors and civil servants that any large organization needs.

[819 "Souvenirs", by Pasquier (Etienne-Dennis, duc), chancelier de
France. in VI volumes, Librarie Plon, Paris 1893. Although pupils
were admitted in the preparatory Schools very early, "our navy,
engineer and artillery officers were justly esteemed the best
instructed in Europe, as able practically as theoretically; the
position occupied by artillery and engineer officers from 1792 in the
French army sufficiently attests this truth. And yet they did not know
one tenth of those who now issue from the preparatory schools. Vauban
himself would have been unable to undergo the examination for
admission into the Polytechnic School." There is then in our system "a
luxury of science, very fine in itself, but which is not necessary to
insure good service on land or at sea." The same in civil careers,
with the bar, in the magistracy, in the administration and even in
literature and the sciences. The proof of this is found in the men of
great talent who, after 1789, were prominent in the Constituent
Assembly. In the new-born University there was not one half of the
demand for attainments as is now exacted. There is nothing like our
over-loaded baccalauréat, and yet there issued from it Villemain,
Cousin, Hugo, Lamartine, etc. No École Polytechnique existed, and yet
at the end of the eighteenth century in France, we find the richest
constellation of savants, Lagrange, Laplace, Monge, Fourcroy,
Lavoisier, Berthollet, Haüy, and others. (Since the date of these
souvenirs (1843) the defects in the French system have gotten worse.

[82] In England and in the United States the architect and engineer
produce more than we do with greater pliancy, fertility, originality
and boldness of invention, with a practical capacity at least equal
and without having passed six, eight or ten years in purely
theoretical studies. - Cf. Des Rousiers, "La Vie Américaine," p. 619:
"Our polytechnicians are scientific erudites. . . . The American
engineer is not omniscient as they were, he is special." "But, in his
specialty he has profound knowledge; he is always trying to make it
more perfect by additions, and he does more than the polytechnician to
advance his science" or his art. (Since Taine noted this times have
changed; I once put my 3 older sons into the American school in
Bangkok (in 1972), and not only did they not learn anything during
their year there, they actually lost some of their reading and writing
skills and I had to remove them as soon as I could. (SR.)).

[83] In 1889 a law called Freycinet, France introduced 3 years of
military service for all young men. Students and married men were,
subject to certain conditions, released after one year of service.

[84] To facilitate his or her comprehension the reader might replace
the word Jacobin with the expression Socialist, Marxist, national-
socialist or Communist since they are all heirs to the heritage left
by the French Revolutionaries. (SR.)

[85] IIIrd Republique lasted from 14-9-1870 until 13-7-1940. (SR.)

[86] Instruction is good, not in itself, but through the good it does,
and especially to those who possess or acquire it. If, simply by
raising his finger, a man could enable every French man or woman to
read Virgil readily and demonstrate Newton's binomial theory, this man
would be dangerous and ought to have his hands tied; for, should he
inadvertently raise his finger, manual labor would be repugnant and,
in a year or two, become almost impossible in France.

[87] And so it happened. After the second world war, when
international Marxism became installed its agents throughout the
Western world, compulsory, unified education was pushed from the age
of 14 to 16 and a majority of young remained in school till after
their 18th birthday , an education which successfully made them
believe that the attitudes and values they were taught were the only
valid ones. (SR.)

[88] Liard, " Universités et Facultés," p. 39 and following pages. -
" Rapport sur la statistique comparée de l'instruction," vol. II.
(1888). - "Exposition universelle de 1889" ("Rapport du jury," groupe
II., part I., p.492.)

[89] In 1994 there were in France 1389 public and 841 private lycées

[90] Liard, ibid., p. 77.

[91] Also called the preparatory classes, the so-called math-sup and
math-spe of the preparatory schools attached to the state lycées and
attended by selected 18-20 year-old students. (SR.)

[92] These figures were obtained in the bureaux of the direction of
primary instruction. - The sum-total of 582,000,000 francs is composed
of 241,000,000, furnished directly by the State, 28,000,000 furnished
by the departments, and 312,000, 000 furnished by the communes. The
communes and departments being, in France, appendices of the State,
subscribe only with its permission and under its impulsion. Hence the
three contributions furnish only one. - Cf. Turlin, "Organisation
financière et budget de l'Instruction primaire," p. 61. (In this
study, the accounts are otherwise made up. Certain expenses being
provided for by annuities are carried into the annual expenditure:)
"From June 1, 1878, to Dec. 31, 1887, expenses of first installation,
528 millions; ordinary expenses in 1887, 173 millions."

[93] Law of June 16, 1881 (on gratuitous education).

[94] Law of March 28, 1882 (on obligatory education).

[95] National temperament must here be taken into consideration as
well as social outlets. Instruction out of proportion with and
superior to condition works differently with different nations. For
the German adult it is rather soothing and a derivative; with the
adult Frenchman it is especially an irritant or even an explosive.

[96] It might be interesting to note what Mark Twain wrote on India
education about the same period when Taine wrote this text:

""apparently, then, the colleges of India were doing what our high
schools have long been doing - richly over-supplying the market for
highly educated service; and thereby doing a damage to the scholar,
and through him to the country.

At home I once made a speech deploring the injuries inflicted by the
High School in making handicrafts distasteful to boys who would have
been willing to make a living at trades and agriculture if they had
but had the good luck to stop with the common school. But I made no
converts. Not one, in a community overrun with educated idlers who
were above following their fathers' mechanical trades, yet could find
no market for their book-knowledge."

[97] Among the pupils who receive this primary instruction the most
intelligent, who study hardest, push on and pass an examination by
which they obtain the certificate that qualifies them for elementary
teaching. The consequences are as follows. Comparative table of annual
vacancies in the various services of the prefecture of the Seine and
of the candidates registered for these places. ("Débats," Sep. 16,
1890:) Vacancies for teachers, 42; number of registered candidates,
1,847. Vacancies for female teachers, 54; number of candidates, 7,139.
- 7,085 of these young women, educated and with certificates, and who
cannot get these places, must be content to marry some workman, or
become housemaids, and are tempted to become lorettes. (From the
church of Notre Dame de Lorette in Paris in the neighborhood of which
many young, pretty women of easy virtue were to be found. (SR.))

[98] Taine wrote this when compulsory education in France kept the
children in school until their 13th year. Today in year 2000 they
must stay until they are 16 years old but more often continue until
they are 19 - 23 years old. (SR.)

[99] In certain cases, the school commission may grant exemptions. But
there art two or three parties in each commune, and the father of a
family must stand well with the dominant party to obtain them.

[100] After the second world war the world, helped by the United
Nations, have pushed obligatory education further and further, and the
number of dissatisfied youth have consequently increased and
increased. (SR.)

[101] Law of March 28, 1882, and Oct. 30, 1886.

[102] "Journal des Débats," Sep. 1, 1891. Report of the Commission on
Statistics: "In 1878-9 the number of congregationist schools was
23,625 with 2,301,943 pupils."

[103] Bureaux of the direction of public instruction, budget of 1892.

[104] "Exposition universelle" of 1889. "Rapport général," by M.
Alfred Picard, p. 367. At the same date, the number of pupils in the
public schools was 4,500,119. - "Journal des Débats," Sep. 12, 1891,
Report of the commission of statistics. "From 1878-79 to 1889-90,
5,063 public congregationist schools are transformed into secular
schools or suppressed; at the time of their transformation they
enumerated in all 648,824 pupils. - Following upon this
secularization, 2,839 private congregationist schools are opened as
competitors and count in 1889-90, 354,473 pupils." - In ten years
public secular instruction gains 12,229 schools and 973,380 pupils;
public congregationist instruction loses 5,218 schools and 550,639
pupils. On the other hand, private congregationist instruction gains
3,790 schools and 413,979 pupils."

[105] Turlin, ibid, p. 61. (M. Turlin enumerates "104,765
functionaries," to which must be added the teaching, administrative
and auxiliary staff of teachers of the 173 normal schools and their
3000 pupils, all gratuitous). (In 1994 there were 247 000 primary
school teachers (instituteurs) in public schools in France. Taine
could not foresee that the French schools and universities should
become an enormous industry, the number of teachers and universities
multiplied by ten and the number of government functionaries
multiplied by 20 and that the annual 50 000 vacancies should find more
than a million candidates, the young overeducated persons dreaming of
becoming functionaries and hence "safe" for life. (SR.))

[106] In this respect, very instructive indications may be found in
the autobiography of Jules Valès, "l'Enfant," "le Bachelier,' and
"l´Insurge'." Since 1871, not only in literature do the successful
works of men of talent but, again, the abortive attempts of impotent
innovators and blasted half-talents, converge to this point."

End of The Modern Regime, Volume 2
End of The Origins of Contemporary France

Book of the day: