The French Revolution— Volume 1

Author: Hippolyte Adolphe Taine


Abuse and lukewarmness in 1789 in the ecclesiastical bodies. - How the State used its right of overseeing and reforming them. - Social usefulness of corporations.- The sound part in the monastic institution. - Zeal and services of nuns. - How ecclesiastical possessions should be employed. - Principle of the Assembly as to private communities, feudal rights and trust-funds. - Abolition and expropriation all corporations. - Uncompensated suppression of tithes.- Confiscation of ecclesiastical possessions. - Effect on the Treasury and on expropriated services. -The civil constitution of the clergy.- Rights of the Church in relation to the State. - Certainty and effects of a conflict. - Priests considered as Statefunctionaries.- Principal stipulations of the law. - Obligations of the oath. - The majority of priests refuse to take it. - The majority of believes on their side. - Persecution of believers and of priests.

There remained the corporate, ecclesiastic, and lay bodies, and, notably, the oldest, most opulent, and most considerable of all the regular and secular clergy. — Grave abuses existed here also, for, the institution being founded on ancient requirements, had not accommodated itself to new necessities.[37] There were too many episcopal sees, and these were arranged according to the Christian distribution of the population in the fourth century; a revenue still more badly apportioned — bishops and abbés with one hundred thousand livres a year, leading the lives of amiable idlers, while curés, overburdened with work, have but seven hundred; in one monastery nineteen monks instead of eighty, and in another four instead of fifty;[38] a number of monasteries reduced to three or to two inhabitants, and even to one; almost all the congregations of men going to decay, and many of them dying out for lack of novices;[39] a general lukewarmness among the members, great laxity in many establishments, and with scandals in some of them; scarcely one-third taking an interest in their calling, while the remaining two-thirds wish to go back to the world,[40] — it is evident from all this that the primitive inspiration has been diverted or has cooled; that the endowment only partially fulfills its ends; that one-half of its resources are employed in the wrong way or remain sterile; in short, that there is a need of reformation in the body. — That this ought to be effected with the co-operation of the State and even under its direction is not less certain. For a corporation is not an individual like other individuals, and, in order that it may acquire or possess the privileges of an ordinary citizen, something supplementary must be added, some fiction, some expedient of the law. If the law is disposed to overlook the fact that a corporation is not a natural personage, if it gives to it a civil personality, if it declares it to be capable of inheriting, of acquiring and of selling, if it becomes a protected and respected proprietor, this is due to the favors of the State which places its tribunal and gendarmes at its service, and which, in exchange for this service, justly imposes conditions on it, and, among others, that of being useful and remaining useful, or at least that of never becoming harmful. Such was the rule under the Ancient Régime, and especially since the Government has for the last quarter of a century gradually and efficaciously worked out a reform. Not only, in 1749, had it prohibited the Church from accepting land, either by donation, by testament, or in exchange, without royal letters-patent registered in Parliament; not only in 1764 had it abolished the order of Jesuits, closed their colleges and sold their possessions, but also, since 1766, a permanent commission, formed by the King’s order and instructed by him, had lopped off all the dying and dead branches of the ecclesiastical tree.[41] There was a revision of the primitive Constitutions; a prohibition to every institution to have more than two monasteries at Paris and more than one in other towns; a postponement of the age for taking vows — that of sixteen being no longer permitted — to twenty-one for men and eighteen for women; an obligatory minimum of monks and nuns for each establishment, which varies from fifteen to nine according to circumstances; if this is not kept up there follows a suppression or prohibition to receive novices: owing to these measures, rigorously executed, at the end of twelve years "the Grammontins, the Servites, the Celestins, the ancient order of Saint-Bénédict, that of the Holy Ghost of Montpellier, and those of Sainte-Brigitte, Sainte-Croix-dela-Bretonnerie, Saint-Ruff, and Saint-Antoine," - in short, nine complete congregations had disappeared. At the end of twenty years three hundred and eighty-six establishments had been suppressed, the number of monks and nuns had diminished one-third, the larger portion of possessions which had escheated were usefully applied, and the congregations of men lacked novices and complained that they could not fill up their ranks. If the monks were still found to be too numerous, too wealthy, and too indolent, it was merely necessary to keep on in this way; before the end of the century, merely by the application of the edict, the institution would be brought back, without brutality or injustice, within the scope of the development, the limitations of fortune, and the class of functions acceptable to a modern State.

But, because these ecclesiastical bodies stood in need of reform it does not follow that it was necessary to destroy them, nor, in general, that independent institutions are detrimental to a nation. Organized purposely for a public service, and possessing, nearly or remotely under the supervision of the State, the faculty of selfadministration, these bodies are valuable organs and not malign tumors.

In the first place, through their institution, a great public benefit is secured without any cost to the government - worship, scientific research, primary or higher education, help for the poor, care of the sick - all set apart and sheltered from the cuts which public financial difficulties might make necessary, and supported by the private generosity which, finding a ready receptacle at hand, gathers together, century after century, its thousands of scattered springs: as an example, note the wealth, stability, and usefulness of the English and German universities.

In the second place, their institution furnishes an obstacle to the omnipotence of the State; their walls provide a protection against the leveling standardization of absolute monarchy or of pure democracy. A man can here freely develop himself without donning the livery of either courtier or demagogue, he can acquire wealth, consideration and authority, without being indebted to the caprices of either royal or popular favor; he can stand firm against established or prevailing opinions sheltered by associates bound by their esprit de corps. Such, at the present day (1885), is the situation of a professor at Oxford, Göttingen, and Harvard Such, under the Ancient Régime, were a bishop, a member of the French Parliaments, and even a plain attorney. What can be worse than universal bureaucracy, producing a mechanical and servile uniformity! Those who serve the public need not all be Government clerks; in countries where an aristocracy has perished, bodies of this kind are their last place of refuge.

In the third place, through such institutions, distinct original societies may come to be inside the great commonplace world. Here special personalities may find the only existence that suits them. If devout or laborious, not only do these afford an outlet for the deeper needs of conscience, of the imagination, of activity, and of discipline, but also they serve as dikes which restrain and direct them in a channel which will lead to the creation of a masterpiece of infinite value. In this way thousands of men and women fulfill at small cost, voluntarily and gratis, and with great effect, the least attractive and more repulsive social needs, thus performing in human society the role which, inside the ant-hill, we see assigned to the sexless worker-ant.[42]

Thus, at bottom, the institution was really good, and if it had to be cauterized it was merely essential to remove the inert or corrupted parts and preserve the healthy and sound parts. — Now, if we take only the monastic bodies, there were more than one-half of these entitled to respect. I omit those monks, one-third of whom remained zealous and exemplary-the Benedictines, who continue the "Gallia Christiana," with others who, at sixty years of age, labor in rooms without a fire; the Trappists, who cultivate the ground with their own hands, and the innumerable monasteries which serve as educational seminaries, bureaus of charity, hospices for shelter, and of which all the villages in their neighborhood demand the conservation by the National Assembly.[43] I have to mention the nuns, thirty-seven thousand in fifteen hundred convents. Here, except in the twenty-five chapters of canonesses, which are a semiworldly rendezvous for poor young girls of noble birth, fervor, frugality, and usefulness are almost everywhere incontestable. One of the members of the Ecclesiastical Committee admits in the Assembly tribunal that, in all their letters and addresses, the nuns ask to be allowed to remain in their cloisters; their entreaties, in fact, are as earnest as they are affecting.[44] One Community writes,

"We should prefer the sacrifice of our lives to that of our calling. . . . This is not the voice of some among our sisters, but of all. The National Assembly has established the claims of liberty-would it prevent the exercise of these by the only disinterested beings who ardently desire to be useful, and have renounced society solely to be of greater service to it?"

"The little contact we have with the world," writes another "is the reason why our contentment is so little known. But it is not the less real and substantial. We know of no distinctions, no privileges amongst ourselves; our misfortunes and our property are in common. One in heart and one in soul . . . we protest before the nation, in the face of heaven and of earth, that it is not in the power of any being to shake our fidelity to our vows, which vows we renew with still more ardor than when we first pronounced them."[45]

Many of the communities have no means of subsistence other than the work of their own hands and the small dowries the nuns have brought with them on entering the convent. So great, however is their frugality and economy, that the total expenditure of each nun does not surpass 250 livres a year. The Annonciades of Saint-Amour say,

"We, thirty-three nuns, both choristers and those of the white veil, live on 4,400 livres net income, without being a charge to our families or to the public. . . If we were living in society, our expenses would be three times as much;"

and, not content with providing for themselves, they give in charity.

Among these communities several hundreds are educational establishments; a very great number give gratuitous primary instruction. — Now, in 1789, there are no other schools for girls, and were these to be suppressed, every avenue of instruction and culture would be closed to one of the two sexes, forming onehalf of the French population. Fourteen thousand sisters of charity, distributed among four hundred and twenty convents, look after the hospitals, attend upon the sick, serve the infirm, bring up foundlings, provide for orphans, lying-in women, and repentant prostitutes. The "Visitation" is an asylum for "those who are not favored by nature," — and, in those days, there were many more of the disfigured than at present, since out of every eight deaths one was caused by the smallpox. Widows are received here, as well as girls without means and without protection, persons "worn out. with the agitation of the world," those who are too feeble to support the battle of life, those who withdraw from it wounded or invalid, and "the rules of the order, not very strict, are not beyond the health or strength of the most frail and delicate." Some ingenious device of charity thus applies to each moral or social sore, with skill and care, the proper and proportionate dressing. And finally, far from falling off, nearly all these communities are in a flourishing state, and whilst among the establishments for men there are only nine, on the average, to each, in those for women there is an average of twenty-four. Here, at Saint-Flour, is one which is bringing up fifty boarders; another, at Beaulieu, instructs one hundred; another, in Franche-Comté, has charge of eight hundred abandoned children.[46] — Evidently, in the presence of such institutions one must pause, however. little one may care for justice and the public interest; and, moreover, because it is useless to act rigorously against them the legislator crushes them in vain, for they spring up again of their own accord; they are in the blood of every Catholic nation. In France, instead of thirtyseven thousand nuns, at the present day (1866) there are eighty-six thousand-that is to say, forty-five in every ten thousand women instead of twenty-eight.[47]

In any case, if the State deprives them of their property, along with that of other ecclesiastical bodies, it is not the State that ought to claim the spoil. — The State is not their heir, and their land, furniture, and rentals are in their very nature devoted to a special purpose, although they have no designated proprietor. This treasure, which consists of the accumulations of fourteen centuries, has been formed, increased, and preserved, in view of a certain object. The millions of generous, repentant, or devout souls who have made a gift of it, or have managed it, did so with a certain intention. It was their desire to ensure education, beneficence, and religion, and nothing else. Their legitimate intentions should not be frustrated: the dead have rights in society as well as the living, for it is the dead who have made the society which the living enjoy, and we receive their heritage only on the condition of executing their testamentary act. — Should this be of ancient date, it is undoubtedly necessary to make a liberal interpretation of it; to supplement its scanty provisions, and to take new circumstances into consideration. The requirements for which it provided have often disappeared; for instance, after the destruction of the Barbary pirates, there were no more Christians to be ransomed; and only by transferring an endowment can it be perpetuated. — But if, in the original institution, several accessory and special clauses have become antiquated, there remains the one important, general intention, which manifestly continues imperative and permanent, that of providing for a distinct service, either of charity, of worship, or of instruction. Let the administrators be changed, if necessary, also the apportionment of the legacy bequeathed, but do not divert any of it to services of an alien character; it is inapplicable to any but that purpose or to others strictly analogous. The four milliards of investment in real property, the two hundred millions of ecclesiastical income, form for it an express and special endowment. This is not a pile of gold abandoned on the highway, which the exchequer can appropriate or assign to those who live by the roadside. Authentic titles to it exist, which, declaring its origin, fix its destination, and your business is simply to see that it reaches its destination. Such was the principle under the ancient régime, in spite of grave abuses, and under forced exactions. When the ecclesiastical commission suppressed an ecclesiastical order, it was not for the purpose of making its possessions over to the public treasury, but to apply these to seminaries, schools, and hospitals. In 1789, the revenues of Saint-Denis supported Saint-Cyr; those of Saint Germain went to the Economats, and the Government, although absolute and needy, was sufficiently honest to adjust that confiscation was robbery. The greater our power, the greater the obligation to be just, and honesty always proves in the end to be the best policy. — It is, therefore, both just and useful that the Church, as in England and in America, that superior education, as in England and in Germany, that special instruction, as in America, and that diverse endowments for public assistance and utility, should be unreservedly secured in the maintenance of their heritage. The State, as testamentary executor of this inheritance, strangely abuses its mandate when it pockets the bequest in order to choke the deficit of its own treasury, risking it in bad speculations, and swallowing it up in its own bankruptcy, until of this vast treasure, which has been heaped up for generations for the benefit of children, the infirm, the sick and the poor, not enough is left to pay the salary of a school-mistress, the wages of a parish nurse, or for a bowl of broth in a hospital.[48]

The Assembly remains deaf to all these arguments, and that which makes its refuse to listen is not financial distress. — The Archbishop of Aix, M. de Boisjelin, offered, in the name of the clergy, to liquidate at once the debt of three hundred millions, which was urgent, by a mortgage-loan of four hundred millions on the ecclesiastical property, which was a very good expedient; for at this time the credit of the clergy is the only substantial one. It generally borrows at less than five per cent., and more money has always been offered to it than it wanted, whilst the State borrows at ten per cent., and, at this moment, there are no lenders. — But, to our new revolutionary statesmen, the cost-benefit of a service is of much less consequence than the application of a principle. In conformity with the Social Contract they establish the maxim that in the State there is no need of corporate bodies: they acknowledge nothing but, on the one hand, the State, the depositary of all public powers, and, on the other hand, a myriad of solitary individuals. Special associations, specific groups, collateral corporations are not wanted, even to fulfill functions which the State is incapable of fulfilling. "As soon as one enters a corporation," says and orator, "one must love it as one loves a family;"[49] whereas the affections and obedience are all to be monopolized by the State. Moreover, on entering into an order a man receives special aid and comfort from it, and whatever distinguishes one man from another, is opposed to civil equality. Hence, if men are to remain equal and become citizens they must be deprived of every rallying point that might compete with that of the State, and give to some an advantage over others. All natural or acquired ties, consequently, which bound men together through geographical position, through climate, history, pursuits, and trade, are sundered. The old provinces, the old provincial governments, the old municipal administrations, parliaments, guilds and masterships, all are suppressed. The groups which spring up most naturally, those which arise through a community of interests, are all dispersed, and the broadest, most express, and most positive interdictions are promulgated against their revival under any pretext whatever.[50] France is cut up into geometrical sections like a chess-board, and, within these improvised limits, which are destined for a long time to remain artificial, nothing is allowed to subsist but isolated individuals in juxtaposition. There is no desire to spare organized bodies where the cohesion is great, and least of all that of the clergy.
"Special associations," says Mirabeau,[51] "in the community at large, break up the unity of its principles and destroy the equilibrium of its forces. Large political bodies in a State are dangerous through the strength which results from their coalition and the resistance which is born out of their interests." ii — That of the clergy, besides, is inherently bad,[52] because "its system is in constant antagonism to the rights of man." An institution in which a vow of obedience is necessary is "incompatible" with the constitution. Congregations "subject to independent chiefs are out of the social pale and incompatible with public spirit." As to the right of society over these, and also over the Church, this is not doubtful. " Corporate bodies exist only through society, and, in destroying them, society merely takes back the life she has imparted to them." "They are simply instruments fabricated by the law.[53] What does the workman do when the tool he works with no longer suits him? He breaks or alters it." — This primary sophism being admitted the conclusion is plain. Since corporate bodies are abolished they no longer exist, and since they no longer exist, they cannot again become proprietors.

"Your aim was to destroy ecclesiastical orders,[54] because their destruction was essential to the safety of the State. If the clergy preserve their property, the clerical order is not destroyed: you necessarily leave it the right of assembling; you sanction its independence." In no case must ecclesiastics hold possessions. "If they are proprietors they are independent, and if they are independent they will associate this independence with the exercise of their functions." The clergy, cost what it will, must be in the hands of the State, as simple functionaries and supported by its subsidies. It would be too dangerous for a nation ,"to admit in its bosom as proprietors a large body of men to whom so many sources of credit already give so great power. As religion is the property of all, its ministers, through this fact alone, should be in the pay of the nation;" they are essentially "officers of morality and instruction," and "salaried" like judges and professors. Let us fetch them back to this condition of things, which is the only one compatible with the rights of man, and ordain that " the clergy, as well as all corporations and bodies with power of inheritance, are now, and shall be for ever incapable of holding any personal or landed estate."[55]

Who, now, is the legitimate heir of all these vacated possessions? Through another sophism, the State, at once judge and party in the cause, assigns them to the State:

"The founders presented them to the Church, that is to say, to the nation."[56] "Since the nation has permitted their possession by the clergy, she may re-demand that which is possessed only through her authorization." "The principle must be maintained that every nation is solely and veritably proprietor of the possessions of its clergy."

This principle, it must be noted, as it is laid down, involves the destruction of ecclesiastical and lay corporations, along with the confiscation of all their possessions, and soon we shall see appearing on the horizon the final and complete decree[57] by which the Legislative Assembly,

"considering that a State truly free should not suffer any corporation within its bosom, not even those which, devoted to public instruction, deserve well of the country," not even those "which are solely devoted to the service of the hospitals-and the relief of the sick,"

suppresses all congregations, all associations of men or of women, lay or ecclesiastical, all endowments for pious, charitable, and missionary purposes, all houses of education, all seminaries and colleges, and those of the Sorbonne and Navarre. Add to these the last sweep of the broom: under the Legislative Assembly the division of all communal property, except woods: under the Convention, the abolition of all literary societies, academies of science and of literature, the confiscation of all their property, their libraries, museums, and botanical gardens; the confiscation of all communal possessions not previously divided; and the confiscation of all the property of hospitals and other philanthropic establishments.[58] — The abstract principle, proclaimed by the Constituent Assembly, reveals, by degrees, its exterminating virtues. France now, owing to it, contains nothing but dispersed, powerless, ephemeral individuals, and confronting them, the State, the sole, the only permanent body that has devoured all the others, a veritable Colossus, alone erect in the midst of these insignificant dwarfs.

Substituted for the others, it is henceforth to perform their duties, and spend the money well which they have expended badly. — In the first place, it abolishes tithes, not gradually and by means of a process of redemption, as in England, but at one stroke, and with no indemnity, on the ground that the tax, being an abusive, illegitimate impost, a private tax levied by individuals in cowl and cassock on others in smock frocks, is a vexatious usurpation, and resembles the feudal dues. It is a radical operation, and in conformity with principle. Unfortunately, the puerility of the thing is so gross as to defeat its own object. In effect, since the days of Charlemagne, all the estates in the country which have been sold and resold over and over again have always paid tithes, and have never been purchased except with this charge upon them, which amounts to about one-seventh of the net revenue of the country. Take off this tax and one-seventh is added to the income of the proprietor, and, consequently, a seventh to his capital. A present is made to him of one hundred francs if his land is worth seven hundred-francs, and of one thousand if it is worth seven thousand, of ten thousand if it is worth seventy thousand, and of one hundred thousand if it is worth seven hundred thousand. Some people gain six hundred thousand francs by this act, and thirty thousand francs in Income.[59] Through this gratuitous and unexpected gift, one hundred and twenty-three millions of revenue, and two milliards and a half of capital, is divided among the holders of real estate in France, and in a manner so ingenious that the rich receive the most. Such is the effect of abstract principles. To afford a relief of thirty millions a year to the peasants in wooden shoes, an assembly of democrats adds thirty millions a year to the revenue of wealthy bourgeois and thirty millions a year to opulent nobles. The first part of this operation moreover, is but another burden to the State; for, in taking off the load from the holders of real property, it has encumbered itself, the State henceforth, without pocketing a penny, being obliged to defray the expenses of worship in their place. - As to the second part of the operation, which consists in the confiscation of four milliards of real estate, it proves, after all, to be ruinous, although promising to be lucrative. It makes the same impression on our statesmen that the inheritance of a great estate makes on a needy and fanciful upstart. Regarding it as a bottomless well of gold, he draws upon it without stint and strives to realize all his fancies; as he can afford to pay for it all, he is free to smash it all. It is thus that the Assembly suppresses and compensates magisterial offices to the amount of four hundred and fifty millions; financial securities and obligations to the amount of three hundred and twenty-one millions; the household charges of the King, Queen, and princes, fifty-two millions; military services and encumbrances, thirty-five millions; enfeoffed tithes, one hundred millions, and so on.[60] "In the month of May, 1789," says Necker, "the re-establishment of order in the finances were mere child’s-play." At the end of a year, by dint of involving itself in debt, by increasing its expenses, and by abolishing or abandoning its income, the State lives now on the paper-currency it issues, eats up its capital, and rapidly marches onward to bankruptcy. Never was such a vast inheritance so quickly reduced to nothing, and to less than nothing.

Meanwhile, we can demonstrate, from the first few months, what use the administrators will be able to make of it, and the manner in which they will endow the service to which it binds them. — No portion of this confiscated property is reserved for the maintenance of public worship, or to keep up the hospitals, asylums, and schools. Not only do all obligations and all productive real property find their way into the great national crucible to be converted into assignats[61], but a number of special buildings, all monastic real estate and a portion of the ecclesiastical real estate, diverted from its natural course, becomes swallowed up in the same gulf. At Besançon,[62] three churches out of eight, with their land and treasure, the funds of the chapter, all the money of the monastic churches, the sacred vessels, shrines, crosses, reliquaries, votive offerings, ivories, statues, pictures, tapestry, sacerdotal dresses and ornaments, plate, jewels and precious furniture, libraries, railings, bells, masterpieces of art and of piety, all are broken up and melted in the Mint, or sold by auction for almost nothing. This is the way in which the intentions of the founders and donors are carried out. — How are so many communities, which are deprived of their rentals, to support their schools, hospices, and asylums? Even after the decree[63] which, exceptionally and provisionally, orders the whole of their revenue to be accounted for to them, will it be paid over now that it is collected by a local administration whose coffers are always empty, and whose intentions are almost always hostile? Every establishment for benevolent and educational purposes is evidently sinking, now that the special streams which nourished them run into and are lost in the dry bed of the public treasury.[64] Already, in 1790, there are no funds with which to pay the monks and nuns their small pensions for their maintenance. In Franche-Comté the Capuchins of Baume have no bread, and, to live, they are obliged to re-sell, with the consent of the district, a portion of the stores of their monastery which had been confiscated. The Ursuline nuns of Ornans live on the means furnished them by private individuals in order to keep up the only school which the town possesses. The Bernardine nuns of Pontarlier are reduced to the lowest stage of want: "We are satisfied," the district reports, "that they have nothing to put into their mouths. We have to contribute something every day amongst ourselves to keep them from starving."[65] Only too thankful are they when the local administration gives them something to eat, or allows others to give them something. In many places it strives to famish them, or takes delight in annoying them. In March, 1791, the department of Doubs, in spite of the entreaties of the district, reduces the pension of the Visitant nuns to one hundred and one livres for the choristers, and fifty for the laysisters. Two months before this, the municipality of Besançon, putting its own interpretation on the decree which allowed nuns to dress as they pleased, enjoins them all, including even the sisters of charity, to abandon their old costume, which few among them had the means of replacing. — Helplessness, indifference, or malevolence, such are the various dispositions which are encountered among the new authorities whose duty it is to support and protect them. To let loose persecution there is now only needed a decree which puts the civil power in conflict with religious convictions. That decree is promulgated, and, on the 12th of July, 1790, the Assembly establishes the civil constitution of the clergy.

Notwithstanding the confiscation of ecclesiastical property, and the dispersion of the monastic communities, the main body of the ecclesiastical corps remains intact: seventy thousand priests ranged under the bishops, with the Pope in the center as the commander-inchief. There is no corporation more solid, more incompatible, or more attacked. For, against it are opposed implacable hatreds and fixed opinions: the Gallicanism of the jurists who, from St. Louis downwards, are the adversaries of ecclesiastical power; the doctrine of the Jansenists who, since Louis XIII., desire to bring back the Church to its primitive form; and the theory of the philosophers who, for sixty years, have considered Christianity as a mistake and Catholicism as a scourge. At the very least the institution of a clergy in Catholicism is condemned, and they think that they are moderate if they respect the rest.


say the deputies in the tribune.[66] Now, the decree affects neither dogma nor worship; it is confined to a revision of matters of discipline, and on this particular domain which is claimed for the civil power, it is pretended that demolition and re-construction may be effected at discretion without the concurrence of the ecclesiastical power.

Here there is an abuse of power, for an ecclesiastical as well as civil society has the right to choose its own form, its own hierarchy, its own government. - On this point, every argument that can be advanced in favor of the former can be repeated in favor of the latter, and the moment one becomes legitimate the other becomes legitimate also. The justification for a civil or of a religious community or society may be the performance of a long series of services which, for centuries, it has rendered to its members, the zeal and success with which it discharges its functions, the feelings of gratitude they entertain for it, the importance they attribute to its offices, the need they have of it, and their attachment to it, the conviction imprinted in their minds that without it they would be deprived of a benefit upon which they set more store than upon any other. This benefit, in a civil society, is the security of persons and property. In the religious society it is the eternal salvation of the soul. iii In all other particulars the resemblance is complete, and the titles of the Church are as good as those of the State. Hence, if it be just for one to be sovereign and free on its own domain, it is just for the other to be equally sovereign and free, If the Church encroaches when it assumes to regulate the constitution of the State, then the State also encroaches when it pretends to regulate the constitution of the Church. If the former claims the respect of the latter on its domain, the latter must show equal respect for the former on its ground. The boundary-line between the two territories is, undoubtedly, not clearly defined and frequent contests arise between the two. Sometimes these may be forestalled or terminated by each shutting itself up within a wall of separation, and by their remaining as much as possible indifferent to each other, as is the case in America. At another, they may, by a carefully considered contract,[67] each accord to the other specific rights on the intermediate zone, and both exercise their divided authority on that zone, which is the case in France. In both cases, however, the two powers, like the two societies, must remain distinct. It is necessary for each of them that the other should be an equal, and not a subordinate to which it prescribes conditions. Whatever the civil system may be, whether monarchical or republican, oligarchic or democratic, the Church abuses its credit when it condemns or attacks it. Whatever may be the ecclesiastical system, whether papal, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, or congregational, the State abuses its strength when, without the assent of the faithful, it abolishes their systems or imposes a new one upon them. Not only does it violate right, but its violence, most frequently, is fruitless. It may strike as it will, the root of the tree is beyond its reach, and, in the unjust war which it wages against an institution as vital as itself, it often ends in getting the worst of it.

Unfortunately, the Assembly, in this as in other matters, being preoccupied with principles, fails to look at practical facts; and, aiming to remove only the dead bark, it injures the living trunk. — For many centuries, and especially since the Council of Trent, the vigorous element of Catholicism is much less religion itself than the Church. Theology has retired into the background, while discipline has come to the front. Believers who, according to Church law, are required to regard spiritual authority as dogma, in fact attach their faith to the spiritual authority much more than to the dogma. -

Catholic Faith insists, in relation to discipline as well as to dogma, that if one rejects the decision of the Roman Church one ceases to be a Catholic; that the constitution of the Church is monarchical, that the ordaining of priests and bishops is made from above so that without communion with the Pope, its supreme head, one is schismatic and that no schismatic priest legitimately can perform a holy service, and that no true faithful may attend his service or receive his blessings without committing a sin. - It is a fact that the faithful, apart from a few Jansenists, are neither theologians nor canonists; that they read neither prayers nor scriptures, and if they accept the creed, it is in a lump, without investigation, confiding in the hand which presents it; that their obedient conscience is in the keeping of this pastoral guide; that the Church of the third century is of little consequence to them; and that, as far as the true form of the actual Church goes, the doctor whose advice they follow is not St. Cyprian, of whom they know nothing, but their visible bishop and their living curé. Put these two premises together and the conclusion is self-evident: it is clear that they will not believe that they are baptized, absolved, or married except by this curé authorized by this bishop. Let others be put in their places whom they condemn, and you suppress worship, sacraments, and the most precious functions of spiritual life to twenty-four millions of French people, to all the peasantry, all the children, and to almost all the women; you stir up in rebellion against you the two greatest forces which move the mind, conscience and habit. — And observe the result of this. You not only convert the State into a policeman in the service of heresy, but also, through this fruitless and tyrannous attempt of Gallican Jansenism, you bring into permanent discredit Gallican maxims and Jansenist doctrines. You cut away the last two roots by which a liberal sentiment still vegetated in orthodox Catholicism. You throw the clergy back on Rome; you attach them to the Pope from whom you wish to separate them, and deprive them of the national character which you wish to impose on them. They were French, and you render them Ultramontane.[68] They excited ill-will and envy, and you render them sympathetic and popular. They were a divided body, and you give them unanimity. They were a straggling militia, scattered about under several independent authorities, and rooted to the soil through the possession of the ground; thanks to you, they are to become a regular, manageable army, emancipated from every local attachment, organized under one head, and always prepared to take the field at the word of command. Compare the authority of a bishop in his diocese in 1789 with that of a bishop sixty years later. In 1789, the Archbishop of Besançon, out of fifteen hundred offices and benefices, had the patronage of one hundred, In ninetythree incumbencies the selections were made by the metropolitan chapter; in eighteen it was made by the chapter of the Madeleine; in seventy parishes by the noble founder or benefactor. One abbé had thirteen incumbencies at his disposal, another thirty-four, another thirty-five, a prior nine, an abbess twenty; five communes directly nominated their own pastor, while abbeys, priories and canonries were in the hands of the King.[69] At the present day (1880) in a diocese the bishop appoints all the curés or officiating priests, and may deprive nine out of ten of them; in the diocese above named, from 1850 to 1860, scarcely one lay functionary was nominated without the consent or intervention of the cardinal-archbishop.[70] To comprehend the spirit, discipline, and influence of our contemporary clergy, go back to the source of it, and you will find it in the decree of the Constituent Assembly. A natural organization cannot be broken up with impunity; it forms anew, adapting itself to circumstances, and closes up its ranks in proportion to its danger.

But even if, according to the maxims of the Assembly, faith and worship are free, as far as the sovereign State is concerned, the churches are subjects.— For these are societies, administrations, and hierarchies, and no society, administration, or hierarchy may exist in the State without entering into its ---departments under the title of subordinate, delegate, or employee. A priest is now essentially a salaried officer like the rest, a functionary[71] presiding over matters pertaining to worship and morality. If the State is disposed to change the number, the mode of nomination, the duties and the posts of its engineers, it is not bound to assemble its engineers and ask their permission, least of all that of a foreign engineer established at Rome. If it wishes to change the condition of "its ecclesiastical officers," its right to do so is the same, and therefore unquestioned. There is no need of asking anybody’s consent in the exercise of this right, and it allows no interference between it and its clerks. The Assembly refuses to call a Gallican council; it refuses to negotiate with the Pope, and, on its own authority alone, it recasts the whole Constitution of the Church. Henceforth this branch of the public administration is to be organized on the model of the others. — In the first place[72] the diocese is to be in extent and limits the same as the French department; consequently, all ecclesiastical districts are marked out anew, and forty-eight episcopal sees disappear. — In the second place, the appointed bishop is forbidden "to refer to the Pope to obtain any confirmation whatever." All he can do is to write to him "in testimony of the unity of faith and of the communion which he is to maintain with him." The bishop is thus no longer installed by his canonical chief, and the Church of France becomes schismatic. — In the third place, the metropolitan or bishop is forbidden to exact from the new bishops or curés "any oath other than that they profess the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman religion." Assisted by his council he may examine them on their doctrine and morals, and refuse them canonical installation, but in this case his reasons must be given in writing, and be signed by himself and his council. His authority, in other respects, does not extend beyond this for it is the civil tribunal which decides between contending parties. Thus is the catholic hierarchy broken up; the ecclesiastical superior has his hands tied; if he still delegates sacerdotal functions it is only as a matter of form. Between the curé and the bishop subordination ceases to exist just as it has ceased to exist between the bishop and the Pope, and the Church of France becomes Presbyterian. — The people now, in effect, choose their own ministers, as they do in the Presbyterian church; the bishop is appointed by the electors of the department, the cure by the district electors, and, what is an extraordinary aggravation, these need not be of his communion. It is of no consequence whether the electoral Assembly contains, as at Nîmes, Montauban, Strasbourg, and Metz, a notable proportion of Calvinists, Lutherans, and Jews, or whether its majority, furnished by the club, is notoriously hostile to Catholicism, and even to Christianity itself. The bishop and the curé must be chosen by the electoral body; the Holy Ghost dwells with it, and with the civil tribunals, and these may install its elect in spite of any resistance. — To complete the dependence of the clergy, every bishop is forbidden to absent himself more than fifteen days without permission from the department; every curé the same length of time without the permission of the district, even to attend upon a dying father or to undergo the operation of lithotomy. In default of this permission his salary is suspended: as a functionary under salary, he owes all his time to his bureau, and if he desires a leave of absence he must ask for it from his chiefs in the Hôtel-de-Ville.[73] — He must assent to all these innovations, not only with passive obedience, but by a solemn oath. All old or new ecclesiastics, archbishops, bishops, curés, vicars, preachers, hospital and prison chaplains, superiors and directors of seminaries, professors of seminaries and colleges, are to state in writing that they are ready to take this oath: moreover, they must take it publicly, in church, "in the presence of the general council, the commune, and the faithful," and promise "to maintain with all their power" a schismatic and Presbyterian Church. — For there can be no doubt about the sense and bearing of the prescribed oath. It was all very well to incorporate it with a broader one, that of maintaining the Constitution. But the Constitution of the clergy is too clearly comprised in the general Constitution, like a chapter in a book, and to sign the book is to sign the chapter. Besides, in the formula to which the ecclesiastics in the Assembly are obliged to swear in the tribune, the chapter is precisely indicated, and no exception or reservation is allowed.[74] The Bishop of Clermont, with all those who have accepted the Constitution in full, save the decrees affecting spiritual matters, are silenced. Where the spiritual begins and where it ends the Assembly knows better than they, for it has defined this, and it imposes its definition on canonist and theologian; it is, in its turn, the Pope, and all consciences must bow to its decision. Let them take the "oath, pure and simple," or if they do not they are ’refractory." The fiat goes forth, and the effect of it is immense, for, along with the clergy, the law reaches to laymen. On the one hand, all the ecclesiastics who refuse the oath are dismissed. If they continue "to interfere with public functions which they have personally or corporately exercised" they "shall be prosecuted as disturbers of the peace, and condemned as rebels against the law," deprived of all rights as active citizens, and declared incompetent to hold any public office. This is the penalty already inflicted on the nonjuring bishop who persists in considering himself a bishop, who ordains priests and who issues a pastoral letter. Such is soon to be the penalty inflicted on the nonjuring curé who presumes to hear confession or officiate at a mass.[75] On the other hand, all citizens who refuse to take the prescribed oath, all electors, municipal officers, judges and administrative agents, shall lose their right of suffrage, have their functions revoked, and be declared incompetent for all public duties.[76] The result is that scrupulous Catholics are excluded from every administrative post, from all elections, and especially from ecclesiastical elections; from which it follows that, the stronger one’s faith the less one’s share in the choice of a priest.[77] — What an admirable law, that which, under the pretext of doing away with ecclesiastical abuses, places the faithful, lay or clerical, outside the pale of the law!

This soon becomes apparent. One hundred and thirty four archbishops, bishops, and coadjutors refuse to take the oath; there are only four of them who do so, three of whom, MM. de Talleyrand, de Jarente, and de Brienne, are unbelievers and notorious for their licentiousness; the others are influenced by their consciences, above all, by their esprit de corps and a point of honor. Most of the curés rally around this staff of officers. In the diocese of Besançon,[78] out of fourteen hundred priests, three hundred take the oath, a thousand refuse it, and eighty retract. In the department of Doubs, only four consent to swear. In the department of Lozère, there are only "ten out of two hundred and fifty." It is stated positively," writes the best informed of all observers that everywhere in France two-thirds of the ecclesiastics have refused the oath, or have only taken it with the same reservations as the Bishop of Clermont."

Thus, out of seventy thousand priests, forty-six thousand are turned out of office, and the majority of their parishioners are on their side. This is apparent in the absence of electors convoked to replace them: at Bordeaux only four hundred and fifty came to the poll out of nine hundred, while elsewhere the summons brings together only "a third or a quarter" In many places there are no candidates, or those elected decline to accept. They are obliged, in order to supply their places, to hunt up unfrocked monks of a questionable character. There are two parties, after this, in each parish; two faiths, two systems of worship, and permanent discord. Even when the new and the old curés are accommodating, their situations bring them into conflict. To the former the latter are "intruders." To the latter the former are " refractories." By virtue of his being a guardian of souls, the former cannot dispense with telling his parishioners that the intruder is excommunicated, that his sacraments are null or sacrilegious, and that it is a sin to attend his mass. By virtue of his being a public functionary, the latter does not fail to write to the authorities that the " refractory " entraps the faithful, excites their consciences, saps the Constitution, and that he ought to be put down by force. In other words, the former draws everybody away from the latter, while the latter sends the gendarmes against the former, and persecution begins. - In a strange reversal, it is the majority which undergoes persecution, and the minority which carries it out. The mass of the constitutional curé is, everywhere, deserted.[79] In La Vendée there are ten or twelve present in the church out of five or six hundred parishioners; on Sundays and holidays whole villages and markettowns travel from one to two leagues off to attend the orthodox mass, the villagers declaring that "if the old curé can only be restored to them, they will gladly pay a double tax." In Alsace, "nine tenths, at least, of the Catholics refuse to recognize the legally sworn priests." The same spectacle presents itself in Franche-Comté, Artois, and in ten of the other provinces. — Finally, as in a chemical composition, the analysis is complete. Those who believe, or who recover their belief, are ranged around the old curé; all who, through conviction or tradition, hold to the sacraments, all who, through faith or habit, wish or feel a need to attend the mass. The auditors of the new curé consist of unbelievers, deists, the indifferent members of the clubs and of the administration, who resort to the church as to the Hôtel-de-ville or to a popular meeting, not through religious but through political zeal, and who support the "intruder" in order to sustain the Constitution. All this does not secure to him very fervent followers, but it provides him with very zealous defenders; and, in default of the faith which they do not possess, they give the force which is at their disposal. All means are proper against an intractable bishop or curé; not only the law which they aggravate through their forced interpretation of it and through their arbitrary verdicts, but also the riots which they stir up by their instigation and which they sanction by their toleration.[80] He is driven out of his parish, consigned to the county town, and kept in a safe place. The Directory of Aisne denounces him as a disturber of the public peace, and forbids him, under severe penalties, from administering the sacraments. The municipality of Cahors shuts up particular churches and orders the nonjuring ecclesiastics to leave the town in twenty-four hours. The electoral corps of Lot denounces them publicly as "ferocious brutes," incendiaries, and provokers of civil war. The Directory of the Bas-Rhin banishes them to Strasbourg or to fifteen leagues from the frontier. At Saint-Leon the bishop is forced to fly. At Auch the archbishop is imprisoned; at Lyons M. de Boisboissel, grand vicar, is confined in Pierre- Encize, for having preserved an archiepiscopal mandate in his house; brutality is everywhere the minister of intolerance. A certain cure of Aisne who, in 1789, had fed two thousand poor, having presumed to read from his pulpit a pastoral charge concerning the observance of Lent, the mayor seizes him by the collar and prevents him from going to the altar; "two of the National Yeomanry" draw their sabers on him, and forthwith lead him away bareheaded, not allowing him to return to his house, and drive him to a distance of two leagues by beat of drum and under escort. At Paris, in the church of Saint- Eustache, the curé is greeted with outcries, a pistol is pointed at his head, he is seized by the hair, struck with fists, and only reaches the sacristy through the intervention of the National Guard. In the church of the Théatins, rented by the orthodox with all legal formality, a furious band disperses the priests and their assistants, upsets the altar and profanes the sacred vessels. A placard, posted up by the department, calls upon the people to respect the law, "I saw it," says an eye-witness, "torn down amidst imprecations against the department, the priests, and the devout. One of the chief haranguers, standing on the steps terminated his speech by stating that schism ought to be stopped at any cost, that no worship but his should be allowed, that women should be whipped and priests knocked on the head." And, in fact, "a young lady accompanied by her mother is whipped on the steps of the church." Elsewhere nuns are the sufferers, even the sisters of Saint-Vincent de Paul; and, from April, 1793, onward; the same outrages on modesty and against life are propagated from town to town. At Dijon, rods are nailed fast to the gates of all the convents; at Montpellier, two or three hundred ruffians, armed with large iron—bound sticks, murder the men and outrage the women. — Nothing remains but to put the gangsters under the shelter of an amnesty, which is done by the Constituent Assembly, and to legally sanction the animosity of local administrations, which is done by the Legislative Assembly.[81] Henceforth the nonjuring ecclesiastics are deprived of their sustenance; they are declared " suspected of revolt against the law and of evil intentions against the country." - Thus, says a contemporary Protestant, "on the strength of these suspicions and these intentions, a Directory, to which the law interdicts judicial functions, may arbitrarily drive out of his house the minister of a God of peace and charity, grown gray in the shadow of the altar" Thus, "everywhere, where disturbances occur on account of religious opinions, and whether these troubles are due to the frantic scourgers of the virtuous sisters of charity or to the ruffians armed with cow-hides who, at Nîmes and Montpellier, outrage all the laws of decorum and of liberty for six whole months, the non-juring priests are to be punished with banishment. Torn from their families whose means of living they share, they are sent away to wander on the highways, abandoned to public pity or ferocity the moment any scoundrel chooses to excite a disturbance that he can impute to them." - Thus we see approaching the revolt of the peasantry, the insurrections of Nîmes, Franche-Comté, la Vendée and Brittany, emigration, transportation; imprisonment, the guillotine or drowning for two thirds of the clergy of France, and likewise for myriads of the loyal, for husbandmen, artisans, day-laborers, seamstresses, and servants, and the humblest among the lower class of the people. This is what the laws of the Constituent Assembly are leading to. — In the institution of the clergy, as in that of the nobles and the King, it demolished a solid wall in order to dig through it an open door, and it is nothing strange if the whole structure tumbles down on the heads of its inmates. The true course was to respect, to reform, to utilize rank and corporations: all that the Assembly thought of was the abolition of these in the name of abstract equality and of national sovereignty. In order to abolish these it executed, tolerated, or initiated all the attacks on persons and on property. Those it is about to commit are the inevitable result of those which it has already committed; for, through its Constitution, bad is changed to worse, and the social edifice, already half in ruins through the clumsy havoc that is effected in it, will fall in completely under the weight of the incongruous or extravagant constructions which it proceeds to extemporize.



[1] Cf. "The Ancient Régime," books I. and V.

[2] Perhaps we are here at the core of why all regimes end up becoming corrupt, inefficient and sick; their leaders take their privileges for granted and become more and more inattentive to the work which must be done if the people are to be kept at work and possible adversaries kept under control. (SR.)

[3] A special tax paid the king by a plebeian owning a fief. (TR)

[4] The right to an income from trust funds. (SR.)

[5] Arthur Young, I. 209, 223. "If the communes steadily refuse what is now offered to them, they put immense and certain benefits to the chance of fortune, to that hazard which may make posterity curse instead of bless their memories as real patriots who had nothing in view but the happiness of their country.

[6] According to valuations by the Constituent Assembly, the tax on real estate ought to bring 240,000,000 francs, and provide one-fifth of the net revenue of France, estimated at 1,200,000,000. Additionally, the personal tax on movable property, which replaced the capitation, ought to bring 60,000,000. Total for direct taxation, 300,000,000, or one-fourth — that is to say, twenty-five per cent, of the net revenue.— If the direct taxation had been maintained up to the rate of the ancient régime (190,000,000, according to Necker’s report in May, 1689), this impost would only have provided one-sixth of the net revenue, or sixteen percent.

[7] Dumont, 267. (The words of Mirabeau three months before his death:) "Ah, my friend, how right we were at the start when we wanted to prevent the commons from declaring themselves the National Assembly! That was the source of the evil. They wanted to rule the King, instead of ruling through him."

[8] Gouverneur Morris, April 29, 1789 (on the principles of the future constitution), "One generation at least will be required to render the public familiar with them."

[9] Cf. "The Ancient Régime," book II, ch. III.

[10] French women did not obtain the right to vote until 1946. (SR.)

[11] According to Voltaire ("L’Homme aux Quarante Écus"), the average duration of human life was only twenty-three years.

[12] Mercure, July 6, 1790. According to the report of Camus (sitting of July 2nd), the official total of pensions amounted to thirty-two millions; but if we add the gratuities and allowances out of the various treasuries, the actual total was fifty-six millions.

[13] I note that today in 1998, 100 years after Taine’s death, Denmark, my country, has had total democracy, that is universal suffrage for women and men of 18 years of age for a considerable time, and a witty author has noted that the first rule of our unwritten constitution is that "thou shalt not think that thou art important". I have noted, however, that when a Dane praises Denmark and the Danes even in the most excessive manner, then he is not considered as a chauvinist but admired as being a man of truth. In spite of the process of ’democratization’ even socialist chieftains seem to favor and protect their own children, send them to good private schools and later abroad to study and help them to find favorable employment in the party or with the public services. A new élite is thus continuously created by the ruling political and administrative upper class. (SR.).

[14] The Ancient Régime," p.388, and the following pages.-" Le Duc de Broglie," by M. Goizot, p. 11. (Last words of Prince Victor de Broglie, and the opinions of M. d’Argenson.)

[15] De Ferrières, I. p.2.

[16] Moniteur, sitting of September 7, 1790, I. 431-437. Speeches, of MM. de Sillery, de Lanjuinais, Thouret, de Lameth, and Rabaut- Saint-Etienne. Barnave wrote in 1791: "It was necessary to be content with one single chamber; the instinct of equality required it. A second Chamber would have been the refuge of the aristocrats."

[17] Lenin should later create an elite, an aristocracy which, under his leadership was to become the Communist party. Lenin could not have imagined or at least would not have been concerned that the leadership of this party would fall into the hands of tyrants later, under the pressure of age and corruption, to be replaced by the KGB and later the FSB. (SR.)

[18] "De Bouillé," p. 50: "All the old noble families, save two or three hundred, were ruined."

[19] Cf. Doniol, "La Révolution et la Féodalité."

[20] Moniteur, sitting of August 6, !789. Speech of Duport: "Whatever is unjust cannot last. Similarly, no compensation for these unjust rights can be maintained." Sitting of February 27, 1790. M. Populus: "As slavery could not spring from a legitimate contract, because liberty cannot be alienated, you have abolished without indemnity hereditary property in persons." Instructions and decree of June 15-19, 1791: "The National Assembly has recognized in the most emphatic manner that a man never could become the proprietor of another man, and consequently, that the rights which one had assumed to have over the person of the other, could not become the property of the former." Cf. the diverse reports of Merlin to the Committee of Feudality and the National Assembly.

[21] Duvergier, "Collection des Lois et Décrets." Laws of the 4-11 August, 1789; March 15-28, 1790; May 3-9, 1790; June 15-19, 1791.

[22] Agrier percières — terms denoting taxes paid in the shape of shares of produce. Those which follow: lods, rentes, quint, requint belong to the taxes levied on real property. [Tr.]

[23] Doniol ("Noveaux cahiers de 1790"). Complaints of the copyholders of Rouergues and of Quercy, pp. 97-105.

[24] See further on, book III. ch. II. § 4 and also ch. III.

[25] Moniteur, sitting of March 2, 1790. Speech by Merlin: "The peasants have been made to believe that the annulation of the banalities (the obligation to use the public mill, wine-press, and oven, which belonged to the noble) carried along with it the loss to the noble of all these; the peasants regarding themselves as proprietors of them."

[26] Moniteur; sitting of June 9, !790. Speech of M. Charles de Lameth — Duvergier (laws of June 19-23 1790; September 27 and October 16, 1791).

[27] Sauzay, V. 400 -410.

[28] Duvergier, laws of June 15-19, 1791; of June 18 -July 6, 1792; of August 25-28, 1792.

[29] "Institution du Droit Français," par Argou, I.103. (He wrote under the Regency.) "The origin of most of the feoffs is so ancient that, if the seigneurs were obliged to produce the titles of the original concession to obtain their rents, there would scarcely be one able to produce them. This deficiency is made up by common law."

[30] Duvergier (laws of April 8-15, 1791; March 7-11; October 26, 1791; January 6-10, 1794). — Mirabeau had already proposed to reduce the disposable portion to one-tenth.

[31] See farther on, book III, ch. III.

[32] Mercure, September 10, 1791. Article by Mallet du Pan. - Ibid. October 15, 1791.

[33] Should Hitler or Lenin have read and understood the consequences of these events they would have deduced that given the command from official sources or recognized leaders ordinary people all over the world could easily be tempted to attack any group, being it Jews, Protestants, Hindus or foreigners. (SR.)

[34] "Archives Nationales," II. 784. Letters of M. de Langeron, October 16 and 18, 1789. — Albert Babeau, "Histoire de Troyes," letters addressed to the Chevalier de Poterats , July, 1790. — "Archives Nationales," papers of the Committee on Reports, bundle 4, letter of M. le Belin-Chatellenot to the to the President of the National Assembly, July 1, 1791. — Mercure, October 15, 1791. Article by Mallet du Pan: "Such is literally the language of these emigrants; I do not add a word." - Ibid. May 15, 1790. Letter of the Baron de Bois d’Aizy, April 29,1790, demanding a decree of protection fur the nobles. "We shall know (then) whether we are outlawed or are of any account in the rights of man written out with so much blood, or whether, finally, no other option is left to us but that of carrying to distant skies the remains of our property and our wretched existence."

[35] Mercure, October 15, 1791, and September 10, 1791. Read the admirable letter of the Chevalier de Mesgrigny, appointed colonel during the suspension of the King, and refusing his new rank.

[36] Cf. the "Mémoires" of M. de Boustaquet, a Norman gentleman.

[37] Cf. "The Ancient Régime," books I. and II.

[38] Boivin- Champeaux, "Notice Historique sur la Révolution dans le Département de L’Eure," the register of grievances. In 1788, at Rouen, there was not a single profession made by men. In the monastery of the Deux-Amants the chapter convoked in 1789 consisted of two monks. — "Archives Nationales," papers of the ecclesiastic committee, passim.

[39] "Apologie de l’État Religieux" (1775), with statistics. Since 1768 the decline is "frightful." "It is easy to foresee that in ten or twelve years most of the regular bodies will be absolutely extinct, or reduced to a state of feebleness akin to death."

[40] Sanzay, I. 224 (November, 1790). At Besançon, out of 266 monks, "79 only showed any loyalty to their engements or any affection for their calling." Others preferred to abandon it, especially all the Dominicans but five, all but one of the bare footed Carmelites, and all the Grand Carmelites. The same disposition is apparent throughout the department, as, for instance, with the Benedictines of Cluny except one, all the Minimes but three, all the Capuchins but five, the Bernandins, Dominicans, and Augustins, all preferring to leave. — Montalembert, "Les Moines d’Occident," introduction, pp. 105-164. Letter of a Benedictine of Saint-Germain-des-Prés to a Benedictine of Vannes. "Of all the members of your congregation which come here to lodge, I have scarcely found one capable of edifying us. You may probably say the same of those who came to you from our place." — Cf. in the "Mémoires" of Merlin de Thionville the description of the Chartreuse of Val St. Pierre.

[41] Ch. Guerin, "Revue des Questions Historiques" (July 1, 1875; April 1, 1876). — Abbé Guettée, "Histoire de l’Eglise de France," XII, 128. ("Minutes of the meeting of l’Assemblée du Clergé," in 1780.) — "Archives nationales," official reports and memorandums of the States-General in 1789. The most obnoxious proceeding to the chiefs of the order is the postponement of the age at which vows may be taken, it being, in their view, the ruin of their institutions. — "The Ancient Régime," p. 403.

[42] In order for a modern uninstructed non-believing reader to understand the motivation which moved thousands of self-less sisters and brothers to do their useful and kind work read St. Matthew chapter 25, verses 31 to 46 where Jesus predicts how he will sit in judgment on mankind and separate the sheep from the goats. (SR.)

[43] "The Ancient Régime," P.33 — Cf. Guerin "The monastery of the Trois-Rois, in the north of Franche-Comté, founded four villages collected from foreign colonists. It is the only center of charity and civilization in a radius of three leagues. It took care of two hundred of the sick in a recent epidemic; it lodges the troops which pass from Alsace into Franche-Comté, and in the late hailstorm it supplied the whole neighborhood with food."

[44] Moniteur, sitting of February 13,1790. (Speech of the Abbé de Montesquiou). — Archives Nationales," papers of the Ecclesiastical Committee, DXIX. 6, Visitation de Limoges, DXIX. 25, Annonciades de Saint-Denis; ibid. Annonciades de Saint Amour, Ursulines d’Auch, de Beaulieu, d’Eymoutier, de la Ciotat, de Pont Saint-Esprit, Hospitalières d’Ernée, de Laval; Sainte Claire de Laval, de Marseilles, etc. "

[45] Sauzay, I. 247. Out of three hundred and seventy-seven nuns at Doubs, three hundred and fifty-eight preferred to remain as they were, especially at Pontarlier, all the Bernardines, Annonciades, and Ursulines; at Besançon, all the Carmelites, the Visitandines, the Annonciades, the Clarisses, the Sisters of Refuge, the Nuns of the Saint-Esprit and, save one, all the Benedictine Nuns.

[46] "Archives Nationales." Papers of the Ecclesiastical Committee, passim.— Suzay, I. 51. — Statistics of France for 1866.

[47] In 1993 this number has once more fallen, and continues to fall, to 55 900. "Quid", 1996 page 623. (SR.)

[48] Felix Rocquain, "La France aprés le 18 Brumaire." (Reports of the Councillors of State dispatched on this service, passim).

[49] Moniteur, October 24, 1789. (Speech of Dupont de Nemours.) All these speeches, often more fully reported and with various renderings, may be found in "Les Archives Parlementaires," 1st series, vols. VIII. and IX.

[50] Duvergier, decree of June 14-17, 1791. "The annihilation of every corporation of citizens of any one condition or profession being on of the foundation-stones of the French constitution, it is forbidden to re-establish these de-facto under any pretext or form whatever. Citizens of a like condition or profession, such as contractors, shopkeepers, workmen of all classes, and associates in any art whatever shall not, on assembling together, appoint either president, or secretaries, or syndics, discuss or pass resolutions, or frame any regulations in relation to their assumed common interests."

[51] Moniteur, sitting of November 2nd, 1789.

[52] Moniteur, sitting of February 12, 1790. Speeches of Dally d’Agier and Barnave.

[53] Moniteur, sitting of August 10, 1789. Speech by Garat; February 12, 1790, speech by Pétion; October 30, 1789, speech by Thouret.

[54] Moniteur, sitting of November 2, 1789. Speech by Chapelier; October 24, 1789, speech by Garat; October 30, 1789, speech by Mirabeau, and the sitting of August 10, 1789.

[55] Moniteur, sitting of October 23, 1789. Speech by Thouret.

[56] Moniteur, sitting of October 23, 1789. Speech by Treilhard; October24th, speech by Garat; October 30, speech by Mirabeau. — On the 8th of August, 1789, Al. de Lameth says in the tribune: "When an foundation was set up, it is to the nation, which the grant was given."

[57] Duvergier, laws of August 18, 1792; August 8-14, 1793; July 11, 1794; July 14, 1792; August 24, 1793.

[58] Moniteur, sitting of July 31, 1792. Speech of M. Boistard; the property of the hospitals, at this time was estimated at eight hundred millions. — Already in 1791 (sitting of January 30th) M. de Larochefoucauld-Liancourt said to the Assembly: Nothing will more readily restore confidence to the poor than to see the nation assuming the right of rendering them assistance." He proposes to decree; accordingly, that all hospitals and places of beneficence he placed under the control of the nation. (Mercure, February 12, 1791.)

[59] Moniteur, sitting of August 10, 1789. Speech by Sieyès. — The figures given here are deduced from the statistics already given in the "Ancient Régime."

[60] Moniteur, v. 571.sitting of September 4, 1790. Report of the Committee on Finances — V. 675, sitting of September 17, 1790. Report by Necker.

[61] A Revolutionary Government promissory bank note. (SR.)

[62] Sauzay, I. 228 (from October 10, 1790, to February 20, 1791). "The total weight of the spoil of the monastic establishments in gold, silver, and plated ware, sent to the Mint amounted to more than 525 kilograms (for the department)."

[63] Duvergier, law of October 8-14.

[64] Moniteur, sitting of June 3,1792. Speech of M. Bernard, in the name of the committee of Public Assistance: "Not a day passes in which we do not receive the saddest news from the departments on the penury of their hospitals." — Mercure de France, December 17, 1791, sitting of December 5. A number of deputies of the Department of the North demand aid for their hospitals and municipalities. Out of 480,000 livres revenue there remains 10,000 to them. "The property of the Communes is mortgaged, and no longer affords them any resources. 280,000 persons are without bread.

[65] Sauzay, I. 252 (December 3, 1790. April 13, 1791).

[66] Moniteur, sitting of June 1, 1790. Speeches by Camus, Treilhard, etc.

[67] But on the assumption that all religion has been invented by human beings for their own comfort or use, then what would be more natural than clever rulers using their power to influence the religious authorities to their own advantage. (SR.)

[68] Ultramontane: Extreme in favoring the Pope’s supremacy. (SR.)

[69] Sauzay, I. 168.

[70] Personal knowledge, as I visited Besançon four times between 1863 and 1867.

[71] Moniteur, sitting of May 30, 1790, and others following. (Report of Treilhard, speech by Robespierre.)

[72] Duvergier, laws of July 12th-August 14th; November 14-25, 1790; January 21-26, 1791.

[73] Moniteur, sitting of May 31, 1790. Robespierre, in covert terms, demands the marriage of priests. — Mirabeau prepared a speech in the same sense, concluding that every priest and monk should be able to contract marriage; on the priest or monk presenting himself with his bride before the curé, the latter should be obliged to give them the nuptial benediction etc. Mirabeau wrote, June 2, 1790: "Robespierre... has juggled me out of my motion on the marriage of priests." — In general the germ of all the laws of the Convention is found in the Constituent Assembly. (Ph. Plan, "Un Collaborateur de Mirabeau," p.56, 144.)

[74] Duvergier, laws of November 27th — December 26, 1790; February 5th, March 22nd, and April 5, 1791. — Moniteur, sitting of November 6, 1790, and those that follow, especially that of December 27th. "I swear to maintain with all my power the French Constitution and especially the decrees relating to the Civil Constitution of the clergy." — Cf. sitting of January 2, 1791, speech by the Bishop of Clermont.

[75] Duvergier, law of May 7, 1791, to maintain the right of nonjuring priests to perform mass in national or private edifices. (Demanded by Talleyrand and Sieyès.)

[76] "Archives Nationales," F7, 3235. Letter of M. de Château- Randon, deputy of la Lozère, May 28, 1791. After the decree of May 23rd, all the functionaries of the department handed in their resignations.

[77] Duvergier, law of May 21-29, 1791.

[78] Sauzay, I. 366, 538 to 593, 750. — Archives Nationales," F7, 3235, Letter of M. de Chânteau-Randon, May 10, 1791. — Mercure, April 23rd, and April 16, 1701. Articles of Mallet du Pan, letter from Bordeaux, March 20, 1791.

[79] Buchez and Roux, XII, 77. Report of Gallois and Gensonné sent to La Vendée and the Deux Sévres (July 25, 1791). — " Archives Nationales," F7, 3253, letter of the Directory of the Bas-Rhin (letter of January 7, 1792). — " Le District de Machecoul de 1788 à 1793," by Lallier. —" Histoire de Joseph Lebon," by Paris. — Sauzay, vol. I. and II. in full.

[80] Mercure, January 15th, April 23rd, May 16th and 30th, June 1st, November 23rd, 1791. — "Le District de Machecoul," by Lallier, 173. — Sauzay, I. 295. — Lavirotte, "Annales d’Arnay-le-Duc (February 5, 1792). — "Archives Nationales," F7, 3223. Petition of a number of the inhabitants of Montpellier, November 17, 1791.

[81] Duvergier, decree of November 29, 1791. — Mercure, November 30, 1791 (article by Mallet du Pan).


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Chicago: Hippolyte Adolphe Taine, "IV.," The French Revolution— Volume 1, ed. Braybrooke, Richard Griffin, Baron, 1783-1853 and trans. Ingram, J. H. (James Henry) in The French Revolution—Volume 1 (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1909), Original Sources, accessed May 30, 2024,

MLA: Taine, Hippolyte Adolphe. "IV." The French Revolution— Volume 1, edited by Braybrooke, Richard Griffin, Baron, 1783-1853, and translated by Ingram, J. H. (James Henry), in The French Revolution—Volume 1, Vol. 36, New York, Doubleday, Page, 1909, Original Sources. 30 May. 2024.

Harvard: Taine, HA, 'IV.' in The French Revolution— Volume 1, ed. and trans. . cited in 1909, The French Revolution—Volume 1, Doubleday, Page, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 30 May 2024, from