Resolution, audacity, rude energy, are all that are needed to make the lever act, and none of these are wanting in the Jacobin. The man is beside himself. A plain bourgeois, a common laborer is not transformed with impunity into an apostle or liberator of the human species. The hopes of philosophers will perish! Well, there was no merit in that; we knew perfectly well that the shot could not reach us and do us harm.
If they do not jump aside of their own accord, he will run at them, for he is unscrupulous as well as furious. It will not violate any particular law, for, if one law is broken, this tends to the breaking of others. It is opposed to overthrowing an established government because every interregnum is a return to barbarism. It is opposed to the element of popular insurrection because, in such a resort, public power is surrendered to the irrationality of brutal passion. It is opposed to a conversion of the government into a machine for confiscation and murder because it deems the natural function of government to be the protection of life and property.
He has no hesitation in proceeding against the government because, in his eyes, the government Edition: current; Page: [ ] is a clerk which the people always has a right to remove. He welcomes insurrection because, through it, the people recover their inalienable sovereignty. A dictatorship suits him because by this means the people recover their sovereignty with no limitations.
From the first, they let loose on society street riots and jacqueries in the rural districts, prostitutes and ruffians, the foul and the savage. Throughout the struggle they profit by the coarsest and most destructive passions, by the blindness, credulity, and rage of an infatuated crowd, by dearth, by the fear of bandits, by rumors of conspiracy, by threats of invasion. At last, attaining to power through a general upheaval, they hold on to it through terror and executions. So true is it that, with faction itself, victory is always on the side of the few whose faith is greatest and who are the least unscrupulous.
Four times in succession the majority has no desire to break customary rules, or, at the very least, to infringe on any rule universally accepted, to wholly disregard the teachings of experience, the letter of the law, the precepts of humanity, the suggestions of pity. The minority, on the contrary, is determined beforehand to win at all hazards; its opinion is the right one, and if rules are opposed to that, so much the worse for the rules.
The Jacobins in power—The elections of —Proportion of places gained by them— I. Their siege operations—Means used by them to discourage the majority of electors and conservative candidates—Frequency of elections—Effect of the oath— II. The friends of order deprived of the right of free assemblage—Violent treatment of their clubs in Paris and the provinces—Legal prevention of conservative associations— IV.
Intimidation and withdrawal of the Conservatives—Popular outbreaks in Burgundy, Lyonnais, Provence, and the large cities—Electoral proceedings of the Jacobins; examples at Aix, Dax, and Montpellier—Agitators go unpunished—Denunciations by name—Manoeuvres with the peasantry—General tactics of the Jacobins.
In June, , and during the five following months, the class of active citizens 1 are convoked to elect their elective representatives, which, as we know, according to the law, are of every kind and degree; in the first place, there are 40, electors of the second degree and deputies; next, one-half of the administrators of 83 departments, one-half of the administrators of districts, one-half of the administrators of 41, communes, and finally, in each municipality, the mayor and syndic-attorney; in each department, the Edition: current; Page: [ ] president of the criminal court and the prosecuting-attorney, and, throughout France, officers of the National Guard; in short, almost the entire body of the agents and depositaries of legal authority.
The garrison of the public citadel is to be renewed, which is the second and even the third time since In the Assembly the party numbers about members. On passing all the posts of the fortress in review, we may estimate the besiegers as occupying one-third of them, and perhaps more. Their siege for two years has been carried on with unerring instinct, the extraordinary spectacle presenting itself of an entire nation legally overcome by a troop of factionists.
First of all, they clear the ground, and through the decrees forced out of the Constituent Assembly, they keep most of the majority away from the polls. Accordingly, as we have seen, it stays away from the polls, leaving the field open to idlers or fanatics. On the other hand, by virtue of the constitution, the civic oath, which includes the ecclesiastical oath, is imposed on all electors, for, if any one takes the former and reserves the latter, his vote is thrown out; in November, in the Doubs, the municipal elections of thirty-three communes are invalidated solely on this pretext.
On entering the electoral lists, consequently, thanks to this double exclusion, they find themselves confronted by only the smallest numbers of electors. Operations must now be commenced against these, and a first expedient consists in depriving them of their candidates.
Everywhere the authorities are constrained to tolerate or excuse murders, pillage and incendiarism, or, at the very least, insurrections and disobedience. For two years a mayor runs the risk of being hung on proclaiming martial law; a captain is not sure of his men on marching to protect a tax levy; a judge on the bench is threatened if he condemns the marauders who devastate the national forests. The magistrate, whose duty it is to see that the law is respected, is constantly obliged to strain the law, or allow it to be strained; if refractory, a summary blow dealt by the local Jacobins forces his legal authority Edition: current; Page: [ ] to yield to their illegal dictation, so that he has to resign himself to being either their accomplice or their puppet.
Louis, old parliamentarians, the upper bourgeoisie and large landed-proprietors, retire into private life and renounce public functions which are no longer tenable. Instead of offering themselves to public suffrage they avoid it, and the party of order, far from electing the magistracy, no longer even finds candidates for it. Through an excess of precaution, its natural leaders have been legally disqualified, the principal offices, especially those of deputy and minister, being interdicted beforehand to the influential men in whom we find the little common sense gained by the French people during the past two years.
With this executive instrument in their hands for three months, they see that it is racked, that things are tottering, and that they themselves are being run over by fanatics and the populace. They accordingly attempt to put on a drag, and several even think of retracing their steps.
In the last decree of the Constituent Assembly they loudly condemn the usurpations of popular associations, and not only interdict to these all meddling in administrative or political matters, but likewise any collective petition or deputation. If the latter, in spite of so many drawbacks, attempt a struggle, they are arrested at the very first step. For, to enter upon an electoral Edition: current; Page: [ ] campaign, requires preliminary meetings for conference and to understand each other, while the faculty of forming an association, which the law grants them as a right, is actually withheld from them by their adversaries.
Malouet and Count Clermont-Tonnerre are at the head of it. All formalities on its part have been complied with.
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There are already about members in Paris. Subscriptions flow into its treasury. The provinces send in numerous adhesions, and, what is worse than all, bread is distributed by them at a reduced price, by which the people, probably, will be conciliated. Here is a centre of opinion and influence, analogous to that of the Jacobin club, which the Jacobins cannot tolerate. The club makes a complaint and follows it up, while the letter of Edition: current; Page: [ ] the law is so plain that an official authorisation of the club is finally granted.
Thereupon the Jacobin newspapers and stump-speakers let loose their fury against a future rival that threatens to dispute their empire. At first there were only three or four hundred of them, and, ten minutes after, five or six hundred; in a quarter of an hour, there are perhaps four thousand flocking in from all sides; in short, the usual make-up of an insurrection.
To justify the attack, white cockades are shown, which, it is pretended, were found in their pockets. Owing to these outrages by the faction, with the connivance of Edition: current; Page: [ ] the authorities, other similar clubs are suppressed in the same way. Formerly, meetings took place for conversation and debate, and, being long-established, the club naturally passes over from literature to politics.
The club-house is sacked, while eighty of its members, covered with bruises, are shut up in the citadel for their safety. Their mere existence seems an offence. At Grenoble, they scarcely assemble before they are dispersed. Let them whisper amongst themselves in corners, and they may still be tolerated, but woe to them if they would leave their lonely retreat to act in concert, to canvass voters, and support a candidate.
Up to the day of voting they must remain in the presence of their combined, active, and obstreperous adversaries, scattered, inert, and mute. Will they at least be able to vote freely on that day? They are not sure of it, and, judging by occurrences during the past year, it is doubtful.
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For this is the day on which the people recover their sovereignty; the violent believe that they have the right to do exactly what suits them, nothing being more natural than to exclude candidates in advance who are distrusted, or electors who do not vote as they ought to. In the month of June, just at the time of the opening of the primary meetings, the king has fled to Varennes, the Revolution seems compromised, civil war and a foreign war loom up on the horizon like two spectres; the National Guard had everywhere taken up arms, and the Jacobins were making the most of the universal panic for their own advantage.
To dispute their votes is no longer the question; it is not well to be seen now; among so many turbulent gatherings a popular execution is soon over. The best thing now for royalists, constitutionalists, conservatives and moderates of every kind, for the friends of law and of order, is to stay at home—too happy if they may be allowed to remain there, to which the armed commonalty assents only on the condition of making them frequent visits. Consider their situation during the whole of the electoral period, in a tranquil district, and judge of the rest of France by this corner of it.
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At Mortagne, 22 a small town of 6, souls, the laudable spirit of still existed up to the journey to Varennes. Among the forty or fifty families of nobles were a good many liberals. Here, as elsewhere among the gentry, the clergy and the middle class, the philosophic education of the eighteenth century had revived the initiative spirit of old provincial times, while the entire upper class had zealously and gratuitously undertaken public duties which it alone could well perform.
District presidents, mayors, and municipal officers, were all chosen from among ecclesiastics and the nobles; the three principal officers of the National Guard were chevaliers of St. Louis, while other grades were filled by the leading people of the community. Thus had the free elections placed authority in the hands of the socially superior, the new order of things resting on the legitimate hierarchy of conditions, educations, and capacities.
There, at least, one is lost in the crowd; one is protected by an incognito against the outrages of the commonalty; one can live there as a private individual. In the provinces even civil rights do not exist; how could any one there exercise political rights? The old cook is the one who authorises or creates candidatures, and on the election of the department deputies at the county town, the electors elected are veritably, like himself, Jacobins.
Such is the pressure under which voting takes place in France during the summer and fall of Domiciliary visits and disarmament everywhere force nobles and ecclesiastics, landed proprietors and people of culture, to abandon their homes, to seek refuge in the large towns and to emigrate, 25 or, at least, confine themselves strictly to private life, to abstain from all propagandism, from every candidature, and from all voting.
It would be madness to be seen in so many cantons where perquisitions terminate in a jacquerie; in Burgundy and the Lyonnais, where castles are sacked, where aged gentlemen are mauled and left for dead, where M. It is not surprising that honest people turn away from the ballot-box as from a centre of cut-throats.
The Jacobins at once rush forward. The votes are deposited, the ballot-boxes closed and sealed up and the conservatives obtain a majority. They overrun the town, numbering about 2, inhabitants, enter the houses, kill three men in the street or in their domiciles, and force the administrative body to suspend its electoral assemblies.
The authorities, Edition: current; Page: [ ] thus persuaded, accordingly decree a disarmament, and the victors parade the streets in a body. Either on account of their jollity, or as a precaution, they fire at the windows of suspected houses as they pass along and happen to kill an additional man and woman.
The effect of such executions is great and not many of them are requisite; a few suffice when successful and when they go unpunished, which is always the case. Henceforth all that the Jacobins have to do is to threaten; people no longer resist them for they know that it costs too much to face them down; they do not care to attend electoral meetings and there meet insult and danger; they acknowledge defeat at the start. Have not the Jacobins irresistible arguments, without taking blows into account?
It must be noted that this slanderous list may become a proscriptive list, and that in every town and village in France similar lists are constantly drawn up and circulated by the local club, which enables us to judge whether the struggle between it and its adversaries is a fair one. Composition of the Legislative Assembly—Social rank of the Deputies. Their inexperience, incompetence, and prejudices— II. Degree and quality of their intelligence and culture— III. Aspect of their sessions—Scenes and display at the club—Co-operation of spectators— IV.