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After eight hundred years, in spite of so many strokes of the royal ax, and the immense change in the culture of society, the old feudal root lasts and still vegetates. We remark it first in the distribution of property.

Accordingly, if we deduct the public lands, the privileged classes own one-half of the kingdom. This large portion, moreover, is at the same time the richest, for it comprises almost all the large and imposing buildings, the palaces, castles, convents, and cathedrals, and almost all the valuable movable property, such as furniture, plate, objects of art, the accumulated masterpieces of centuries.

Its possessions, capitalized, amount to nearly 4,,, francs. To this must be added the dime or tithes , millions per annum, in all millions, a sum which must be doubled to show its equivalent at the present day. We must also add the chance contributions and the usual church collections. The Provincial of the Dominicans of Toulouse admits, for his two hundred and thirty-six monks, "more than , livres net revenue, not including the convent and its enclosure; also, in the colonies, real estate, Negroes and other effects, valued at several millions.

Those of Saint-Maur, numbering , estimate the movable property of their churches and houses at 24,,, and their net revenue at 8 millions, "without including that which accrues to Messieurs the abbots and priors commendatory," which means as much and perhaps more. Dom Rocourt, abbot of Clairvaux, has from , to , livres income; the Cardinal de Rohan, archbishop of Strasbourg, more than 1,, The canons of St. Claude, in the Jura, are the proprietors of 12, serfs or 'mainmorts. As along with the noble it comprises the ennobled.

As the magistrates for two centuries, and the financiers for one century had acquired or purchased nobility, it is clear that here are to be found almost all the great fortunes of France, old or new, transmitted by inheritance, obtained through court favors, or acquired in business. When a class reaches the summit it is recruited out of those who are mounting or clambering up. Here, too, there is colossal wealth.

Similar vestiges are found in England, in Austria, in Germany and in Russia. Proprietorship, indeed, survives a long time survives the circumstances on which it is founded. Sovereignty had constituted property; divorced from sovereignty it has remained in the hands formerly sovereign.

In the bishop, the abbot and the count, the king respected the proprietor while overthrowing the rival, and, in the existing proprietor a hundred traits still indicate the annihilated or modified sovereign. Such is the total or partial exemption from taxation.

The tax-collectors halt in their presence because the king well knows that feudal property has the same origin as his own; if royalty is one privilege seigniory is another; the king himself is simply the most privileged among the privileged. The most absolute, the most infatuated with his rights, Louis XIV, entertained scruples when extreme necessity compelled him to enforce on everybody the tax of the tenth.

The clearer the resemblance of the proprietor to the ancient independent sovereign the greater his immunity. And better still, it is sufficient that he himself should work, or his steward, to communicate to the land his original independence. As soon as he touches the soil, either personally or through his agent, he exempts four plowing-areas quatre charrues , three hundred arpents, which in other hands would pay 2, francs tax.

Besides this he is exempt on "the woods, the meadows, the vines, the ponds and the enclosed land belonging to the chateau, of whatever extent it may be. In Alsace, through an express covenant he does not pay a cent of tax. Thus, after the assaults of four hundred and fifty years, taxation, the first of fiscal instrumentalities, the most burdensome of all, leaves feudal property almost intact. As it is an organization, holding assemblies, it is able to negotiate with the king and buy itself off.

To avoid being taxed by others it taxes itself. It makes it appear that its payments are not compulsory contributions, but a "free gift. In it is only 1,, livres, and in it is refused altogether. Out of the royal treasury, each year, it receives 2,, livres, so that, instead of paying, it receives. In it receives in this way 1,, livres. As for the nobles, they, being unable to combine together, to have representatives, and to act in a public way, operate instead in a private way.

They contact ministers, intendants, sub-delegates, farmer-generals, and all others clothed with authority, their quality securing attentions, consideration and favors. Next, the capitation being fixed according to the tax system, they pay little, because their taxation is of little account.

Moreover, each one brings all his credit to bear against assessments. There are no proceedings against him, if he is a noble; the greatest circumspection is used towards persons of high rank. In Champagne, on nearly 1,, livres provided by the capitation-tax, they paid in only 14, livres," that is to say, "2 sous and 2 deniers for the same purpose which costs 12 sous per livre to those chargeable with the taille.

It has been proved that the princes of the blood paid, for their two-twentieths, , instead of 2,, livres. The privileged person avoids or repels taxation, not merely because it despoils him, but because it belittles him; it is a mark of the commoner, that is to say, of former servitude, and he resists the fisc the revenue services as much through pride as through interest.

Let us follow him home to his own domain. In certain places, better protected or less attacked, it has preserved all its ancient externals. At Cahors, the bishop-count of the town had the right, on solemnly officiating, "to place his helmet, cuirass, gauntlets and sword on the altar.

He cannot sit under the presidency of any person; that, being seignior-suzerain of all estates and particularly of the baronies, he cannot give way to his vassals. At Remiremont, the noble chapter of canonesses has, "inferior, superior, and ordinary judicature in fifty-two bans of seigniories," nominates seventy-five curacies and confers ten male canonships.

It appoints the municipal officers of the town, and, besides these, three lower and higher courts, and everywhere the officials in the jurisdiction over woods and forests. Thirty-two bishops, without counting the chapters, are thus temporal seigniors, in whole or in part, of their episcopal town, sometimes of the surrounding district, and sometimes, like the bishop of St.

Claude, of the entire country. Here the feudal tower has been preserved. Elsewhere it is plastered over anew, and more particularly in the appanages. In these domains, comprising more than twelve of our departments, the princes of the blood appoint to all offices in the judiciary and to all clerical livings.

Being substitutes of the king they enjoy his serviceable and honorary rights. They are almost delegated kings, and for life; for they not only receive all that the king would receive as seignior, but again a portion of that which he would receive as monarch. For example, the house of Orleans collects the excises, that is to say the duty on liquors, on works in gold or silver, on manufactures of iron, on steel, on cards, on paper and starch, in short, on the entire sum-total of one of the most onerous indirect taxes.

It is not surprising, if, having a nearly sovereign situation, they have a council, a chancellor, an organized debt, a court, a domestic ceremonial system, and that the feudal edifice in their hands should put on the luxurious and formal trappings which it had assumed in the hands of the king. Let us turn to its inferior personages, to a seignior of medium rank, on his square league of ground, amidst the thousand inhabitants who were formerly his villeins or his serfs, within reach of the monastery, or chapter, or bishop whose rights intermingle with his rights.

Whatever may have been done to abase him his position is still very high. He is yet, as the intendants say, "the first inhabitant;" a prince whom they have half despoiled of his public functions and consigned to his honorary and available rights, but who nevertheless remains a prince.

If he bears a title he is supreme judge, and there are entire provinces, Maine and Anjou, for example, where there is no fief without the judge. In this case he appoints the bailiff; the registrar, and other legal and judicial officers, attorneys, notaries, seigniorial sergeants, constabulary on foot or mounted, who draw up documents or decide in his name in civil and criminal cases on the first trial.

He appoints, moreover, a forest-warden, or decides forest offenses, and enforces the penalties, which this officer inflicts. He has his prison for delinquents of various kinds, and sometimes his forked gibbets. On the other hand, as compensation for his judicial costs, he obtains the property of the man condemned to death and the confiscation of his estate.

He succeeds to the bastard born and dying in his seigniory without leaving a testament or legitimate children. He inherits from the possessor, legitimately born, dying intestate in his house without apparent heirs. He appropriates to himself movable objects, animate or inanimate, which are found astray and of which the owner is unknown; he claims one-half or one-third of treasure-trove, and, on the coast, he takes for himself the waif of wrecks. And finally, what is more fruitful, in these times of misery, he becomes the possessor of abandoned lands that have remained untilled for ten years.

Other advantages demonstrate still more clearly that he formerly possessed the government of the canton. Such are, in Auvergne, in Flanders, in Hainaut, in Artois, in Picardy, Alsace, and Lorraine, the dues de poursoin ou de sauvement care or safety within the walls of a town , paid to him for providing general protection. The dues of de guet et de garde watch and guard , claimed by him for military protection; of afforage, are exacted of those who sell beer, wine and other beverages, whole-sale or retail.

The dues of fouage, dues on fires, in money or grain, which, according to many common-law systems, he levies on each fireside, house or family. Those of the lods et ventes lord's due , an almost universal tax, consist of the deduction of a sixth, often of a fifth or even a fourth, of the price of every piece of ground sold, and of every lease exceeding nine years. The dues for redemption or relief are equivalent to one year's income, aid that he receives from collateral heirs, and often from direct heirs.

Finally, a rarer due, but the most burdensome of all, is that of acapte ou de plaid-a-merci, which is a double rent, or a year's yield of fruits, payable as well on the death of the seignior as on that of the copyholder. These are veritable taxes, on land, on movables, personal, for licenses, for traffic, for mutations, for successions, established formerly on the condition of performing a public service which he is no longer obliged to perform.

Other dues are also ancient taxes, but he still performs the service for which they are a quittance. The king, in fact, suppresses many of the tolls, twelve hundred in , and the suppression is kept up. A good many still remain to the profit of the seignior,—on bridges, on highways, on fords, on boats ascending or descending, several being very lucrative, one of them producing 90, livres He pays for the expense of keeping up bridge, road, ford and towpath.

In like manner, on condition of maintaining the market-place and of providing scales and weights gratis, he levies a tax on provisions and on merchandise brought to his fair or to his market. These, again, are evidently monopolies and octrois going back to the time when he was in possession of public authority.

Not only did he then possess the public authority but also possessed the soil and the men on it. Proprietor of men, he is so still, at least in many respects and in many provinces. A good many personal serfs, or so constituted through their own gratitude, or that of their progenitors, are still found. Whether in servitude, or as mortmains, or as cotters, one way or another, 1,, individuals, it is said, wore about their necks a remnant of the feudal collar; this is not surprising since, on the other side of the Rhine, almost all the peasantry still wear it.

In the barony of Choiseul near Chaumont in Champagne, "the inhabitants are required to plow his lands, to sow and reap them for his account and to put the products into his barns. Each plot of ground, each house, every head of cattle pays a quit-claim; children may inherit from their parents only on condition of remaining with them; if absent at the time of their decease he is the inheritor. In the Jura and the Nivernais, he may pursue fugitive serfs, and demand, at their death, not only the property left by them on his domain, but, again, the pittance acquired by them elsewhere.

At Saint-Claude he acquires this right over any person that passes a year and a day in a house belonging to the seigniory. As to ownership of the soil we see still more clearly that he once had entire possession of it.

In the district subject to his jurisdiction the public domain remains his private domain; roads, streets and open squares form a part of it; he has the right to plant trees in them and to take trees up. In many provinces, through a pasturage rent, he obliges the inhabitants to pay for permits to pasture their cattle in the fields after the crop, and in the open common lands, les terres vaines et vagues. Unnavigable streams belong to him, as well as islets and accumulations formed in them and the fish that are found in them.

He has the right of the chase over the whole extent of his jurisdiction, this or that commoner being sometimes compelled to throw open to him his park enclosed by walls. One more trait serves to complete the picture. This head of the State, a proprietor of man and of the soil, was once a resident cultivator on his own small farm amidst others of the same class, and, by this title, he reserved to himself certain working privileges which he always retained.

Such is the right of banvin, still widely diffused, consisting of the privilege of selling his own wine, to the exclusion of all others, during thirty or forty days after gathering the crop. Through another effect of the same qualification he imposes quit-claims on property on which he has formerly given perpetual leases, and, under the terms cens, censives quit-rents , carpot share in wine , champart share in grain , agrier a cash commission on general produce , terrage parciere share of fruits.

All these collections, in money or in kind, are as various as the local situations, accidents and transactions could possibly be. In the Bourbonnais he has one-quarter of the crop; in Berry twelve sheaves out of a hundred. Occasionally his debtor or tenant is a community: one deputy in the National Assembly owned a fief of two hundred casks of wine on three thousand pieces of private property.

Such are the feudal. To form an idea of them in their totality we must always imagine the count, bishop or abbot of the tenth century as sovereign and proprietor in his own canton. The form which human society then takes grows out of the exigencies of near and constant danger with a view to local defense. By subordinating all interests to the necessities of living, in such a way as to protect the soil by fixing on the soil, through property and its enjoyment, a troop of brave men under the leadership of a brave chieftain.

The danger having passed away the structure became dilapidated. For a pecuniary compensation the seigniors allowed the economical and tenacious peasant to pick off it a good many stones. Through constraint they suffered the king to appropriate to himself the public portion. The primitive foundation remains, property as organized in ancient times, the fettered or exhausted land supporting a social conformation that has melted away, in short, an order of privileges and of thralldom of which the cause and the purpose have disappeared.

All this does not suffice to render this order detrimental or even useless. In reality, the local chief who no longer performs his ancient service may perform a new one in exchange for it. There is nothing more difficult to establish than a government, that is to say, a stable government: this involves the command of some and the obedience of all, which is against nature. That a man in his study, often a feeble old person, should dispose of the lives and property of twenty or thirty million men, most of whom he has never seen; that he should order them to pay away a tenth or a fifth of their income and they should do it; that he should order them to go and slaughter or be slaughtered and that they should go; that they should thus continue for ten years, twenty years, through every kind of trial, defeat, misery and invasion, as with the French under Louis XIV, the English under Pitt, the Prussians under Frederick II.

And, for a people to remain free it is essential that they should be ready to do this always. Neither this fidelity nor this concord is due to sober reflection la raison raisonnante ; reason is too vacillating and too feeble to bring about such a universal and energetic result. Abandoned to itself and suddenly restored to a natural condition, the human flock is capable only of agitation, of mutual strife until pure force at length predominates, as in barbarous times, and until, amidst the dust and outcry, some military leader rises up who is, generally, a butcher.

Historically considered it is better to continue so than to begin over again. Hence, especially when the majority is uncultivated, it is beneficial to have chiefs designated beforehand through the hereditary custom by which people follow them, and through the special education by which they are qualified. In this case the public has no need to seek for them to obtain them.

They are already at hand, in each canton, visible, accepted beforehand; they are known by their names, their title, their fortune, their way of living; deference to their authority is established. They are almost always deserving of this authority; born and brought up to exercise it they find in tradition, in family example and in family pride, powerful ties that nourish public spirit in them; there is some probability of their comprehending the duties with which their prerogative endows them.

The ancient chieftain can still guarantee his pre-eminence by his services, and remain popular without ceasing to be privileged. Once a captain in his district and a permanent gendarme, he is to become the resident and beneficent proprietor, the voluntary promoter of useful undertakings, obligatory guardian of the poor, the gratuitous administrator and judge of the canton, the unsalaried deputy of the king, that is to say, a leader and protector as previously, through a new system of patronage accommodated to new circumstances.

Local magistrate and central representative, these are his two principal functions, and, if we extend our observation beyond France we find that he exercises either one or the other, or both together. He thus addressed his successor: "My child, take good care to keep this tower of which the annoyances have made me grow old, and whose frauds and treasons have given me no peace nor rest'.

Later in the session of the 13th February, , Amelot estimates the property sold and to be sold, not including forests, at 3, millions. Out of millions 23 go for the costs of collection: but, in estimating the revenue of an individual the sums he pays to his intendants, overseers and cashiers are not deducted. On examination however both capital and revenue are found considerably larger than at first supposed. Reports of Treilbard and Chasset. Moreover, in his valuation, Talleyrand left out habitations and their enclosures as well as a reservation of one-fourth of the forests.

Besides this there must be included in the revenue before the seigniorial rights enjoyed by the Church. Finally, according to Arthur Young, the rents which the French proprietor received were not two and a half per cent. Arthur Young. Today, in , in France the minimum legal daily wage is around francs. So the sums referred to by Taine under the Revolution must be multiplied with at least in order to compare them with values.

To obtain dollars multiply with Voltaire, "Politique et Legislation," the petition of the serfs of St. It must not be forgotten that these figures must be doubled to show corresponding sums of the present day. Madame de Genlis, "Memoirs," chap. It would in England cost 2, At the present day in France 24, francs would be 50, and more.

Honore which was rented for 6, francs in is now rented for 16, francs. Report of M. Schwendt on Alsace in This prince caused this abuse to be stopped and succeeded in recovering the sum of 5, livres which he had been made to pay unlawfully under this right"]. The above relates to what was called the clergy of France, dioceses.

Turgot, ib. Book V, ch. Decrees of the April, , I. This tax on grain belonged at that time to the Comte d'Artois. The butcher must obtain special permission from the seignior. In many provinces, Anjou, Berry, Maine, Brittany, there was a lord's mill for cloths and barks. Louis XVI. I rely on this report and on the book of M.

Clerget says that there are still at this time 1,, subjects of the king in a state of servitude but he brings forward no proofs to support these figures. Nevertheless it is certain that the number of serfs and mortmains is still very great. The redemption of mortmain, of which the king himself has set the example, has been put at such an exorbitant price by laymen, that the unfortunate sufferers cannot, and will not be able to secure it. Let us consider the first one, local government.

There are countries at the gates of France in which feudal subjection, more burdensome than in France, seems lighter because, in the other scale, the benefits counterbalance disadvantages. At Munster, in , Beugnot finds a sovereign bishop, a town of convents and a large seigniorial mansion, a few merchants for indispensable trade, a small bourgeoisie, and, all around, a peasantry composed of either colons or serfs.

The seignior deducts a portion of all their crops in provisions or in cattle, and, at their deaths, a portion of their inheritances. If they go away their property revert to him. His servants are chastised like Russian moujiks, and in each outhouse is a trestle for this purpose "without prejudice to graver penalties," probably the bastinado and the like. But "never did the culprit entertain the slightest idea of complaint or appeal. He is bound to them by common sympathies they are neither miserable nor uneasy; they know that, in every extreme or unforeseen necessity, he will be their refuge.

The peasantry, without their seignior's permission, cannot alienate a field, mortgage it, cultivate it differently, change their occupation or marry. If they leave the seigniory he can pursue them in every direction and bring them back by force. He has the right of surveillance over their private life, and he chastises them if drunk or lazy.

When young they serve for years as servants in his mansion; as cultivators they owe him corvees and, in certain places, three times a week. But, according to both law and custom, he is obliged "to see that they are educated, to succor them in indigence, and, as far as possible, to provide them with the means of support. In England, the upper class attains to the same result by other ways. There also the soil still pays the ecclesiastic tithe, strictly the tenth, which is much more than in France.

But his tenants, the lessees and the farmers, are no longer his serfs, not even his vassals; they are free. If he governs it is through influence and not by virtue of a command. Proprietor and patron, he is held in respect. Lord-lieutenant, officer in the militia, administrator, justice, he is visibly useful.

And, above all, he lives at home, from father to son; he belongs to the district. He is in hereditary and constant relation with the local public through his occupations and through his pleasures, through the chase and caring for the poor, through his farmers whom he admits at his table, and through his neighbors whom he meets in committee or in the vestry. This shows how the old hierarchies are maintained: it is necessary, and it suffices, that they should change their military into a civil order of things and find modern employment for the chieftain of feudal times.

If we go back a little way in our history we find here and there similar nobles. Such was the grandfather of Mirabeau, in his chateau of Mirabeau in Provence, the haughtiest, most absolute, most intractable of men, "demanding that the officers whom he appointed in his regiment should be favorably received by the king and by his ministers," tolerating the inspectors only as a matter of form, but heroic, generous, faithful, distributing the pension offered to himself among six wounded captains under his command, mediating for poor litigants in the mountain, driving off his grounds the wandering attorneys who come to practice their chicanery, "the natural protector of man even against ministers and the king.

A party of tobacco inspectors having searched his curate's house, he pursues them so energetically on horseback that they hardly escape him by fording the Durance. Whereupon, "he wrote to demand the dismissal of the officers, declaring that unless this was done every person employed in the Excise should be driven into the Rhine or the sea; some of them were dismissed and the director himself came to give him satisfaction.

He pays them to work making them clear off the lands, which he gives them on leases of a hundred years, and he makes them enclose a mountain of rocks with high walls and plant it with olive trees. Others could still be found in remote cantons, in Brittany and in Auvergne, veritable district commanders, and I am sure that in time of need the peasants would obey them as much out of respect as from fear.

Vigor of heart and of body justifies its own ascendancy, while the superabundance of energy, which begins in violence, ends in beneficence. Less independent and less harsh a paternal government subsists elsewhere, if not in the law at least through custom. I have not seen one of them get irritated with a peasant-soldier, while, at the same time, I have seen on the part of the latter an air of filial respect for them. It is a terrestrial paradise with respect to patriarchal manners, simplicity and true grandeur; the attitude of the peasants towards the seigniors is that of an affectionate son with his father; and the seigniors in talking with the peasants use their rude and coarse language, and speak only in a kind and genial way.

We see mutual regard between masters and servants. People live together harmoniously when living together from birth to death, familiarly, and with the same interests, occupations and pleasures; like soldiers with their officers, on campaigns and under tents, in subordination although in companionship, familiarity never endangering respect. He attends their children's weddings and drinks with the guests. On Sunday there are dances in the chateau court, and the ladies take part in them.

Here are soldiers and a captain ready made. A little later, and of their own accord, they will choose him for commandant in the national guard, mayor of the commune, chief of the insurrection, and, in , the marksmen of the parish are to march under him against "the blues" as, at this epoch against the wolves. Such are the remnants of the good feudal spirit, like the scattered remnants of a submerged continent. Before Louis XIV. Hubert's, and did not part until after the octave of St.

These nobles led a gay and hard life, voluntarily, costing the State very little, and producing more through its residence and manure than we of today with our tastes, our researches, our cholics and our vapors.

The custom, and it may be said, the obsession of making presents to the seigniors, is well known. I have, in my lifetime, seen this custom everywhere disappear, and rightly so. The seigniors are no longer of any consequence to them; is quite natural that they should be forgotten by them as they forget.

The seignior being no longer known on his estates everybody pillages him, which is right. Let us first follow them into the provinces. We here find only the minor class of nobles and a portion of those of medium rank; the rest are in Paris.

The grand-vicars and canons live in the large towns; only priors and curates dwell in the rural districts. Ordinarily the entire ecclesiastic or lay staff is absent; residents are furnished only by the secondary or inferior grades. What are their relations with the peasant? One point is certain, and that is that they are not usually hard, nor even indifferent, to him.

Separated by rank they are not so by distance; neighborhood is of itself a bond among men. I have read in vain, but I have not found them the rural tyrants, which the declaimers of the Revolution portray them. Haughty with the bourgeois they are generally kind to the villager. Out of one hundred one may be found tyrannizing his dependents; all the others, patiently share the misery of those subject to their jurisdiction.

They give their debtors time, remit sums due, and afford them every facility for settlement. They mollify and temper the sometimes over-rigorous proceedings of the fermiers, stewards and other men of business. In numerous instances the peasant-purchasers of their land voluntarily restore it for the purchase money. Around Paris, near Romainville, after the terrible storm of there is prodigal alms-giving; "a very wealthy man immediately distributes forty thousand francs among the surrounding unfortunates.

In , in Provence, the Dominicans of Saint Maximin support the population of their district in which the tempest had destroyed the vines and the olive trees. During the winter of there is an increase of alms-giving in all the religious establishments; their farmers distribute aid among the poor people of the country, and, to provide for these extra necessities, many of the communities increase the rigor of their abstinences.

Andrew, their common fathers and benefactors, who fed them during the tempest. At Sierk, Thionville, "the Chartreuse," say the leading citizens, "is, for us, in every respect, the Ark of the Lord; it is the main support of from more than twelve to fifteen hundred persons who come to it every day in the week. This year the monks have distributed amongst them their own store of grain at sixteen livres less than the current price. Near Morley in Barrois, the abbey of Auvey, of the Cistercian order, "was always, for every village in the neighborhood, a bureau of charity.

This is the institution which, in times of calamity, welcomes homeless citizens and provides them with subsistence. It alone bears the expenses of the assembly of the bailiwick at the time of the election of deputies to the National Assembly. A company of the regiment of Armagnac is actually lodged under its roof. This institution is always found wherever sacrifices are to be made.

Loans, advances made on farms, credit with the purveyors of the house, all has contributed to facilitating their means for relieving the people. Man is compassionate of ills of which he is a witness; absence is necessary to deaden their vivid impression; they move the heart when the eye contemplates them. Familiarity, moreover, engenders sympathy; one cannot remain insensible to the trials of a poor man to whom, for over twenty years, one says good-morning every day on passing him, with whose life one is acquainted, who is not an abstract unit in the imagination, a statistical cipher, but a sorrowing soul and a suffering body.

Henceforth the poor are thought of, and it is esteemed an honor to think of them. We have only to read the registers of the States-General to see that spirit of philanthropy spreads from Paris even to the chateaux and abbeys of the provinces. I am satisfied that, except for a few country squires, either huntsmen or drinkers, carried away by the need of physical exercise, and confined through their rusticity to an animal life, most of the resident seigniors resembled, in fact or in intention, the gentry whom Marmontel, in his moral tales, then brought on the stage.

Fashion took this direction, and people in France always follow the fashion. There is nothing feudal in their characters; they are "sensible" people, mild, very courteous, tolerably cultivated, fond of generalities, and easily and quickly roused, and very much in earnest.

They would be glad to relieve the people, and they try to favor them as much as they can. It is their situation, in fact, which, allowing them rights without exacting services, debars them from the public offices, the beneficial influence, the effective patronage by which they might justify their advantages and attach the peasantry to them. But on this ground the central government has taken their place. For a long time now have they been rather feeble against the intendant, unable to protect their parish.

Twenty gentlemen cannot not assemble and deliberate without the king's special permission. Separated from his equals, the seignior, again, is further away from his inferiors. The administration of the village is of no concern to him; he is not even tasked with its supervision. The apportionment of taxes, the militia contingent, the repairs of the church, the summoning and presiding over a parish assembly, the making of roads, the establishment of charity workshops, all this is the intendant's business or that of the communal officers whom the intendant appoints or directs.

Since Louis XIV, the higher officials have things their own way; all legislation and the entire administrative system operate against the local seignior to deprive him of his functional efficiency and to confine him to his naked title. Through this separation of functions and title his pride increases, as he becomes less useful. His vanity deprived of its broad pasture-ground, falls back on a small one; henceforth he seeks distinctions and not influence.

He thinks only of precedence and not of government. Far from protecting his peasantry he is scarcely able to protect himself or to preserve his immunities. Or to obtain exemption from the militia for his domestics, to keep his own person, dwelling, dependents, and hunting and fishing rights from the universal usurpation which places all possessions and all privileges in the hands of "Monseigneur l'intendant" and Messieurs the sub-delegates. And the more so because he is often poor.

In Limousin, says an intendant at the beginning of the century, out of several thousands there are not fifteen who have twenty thousand livres income. In Berry, towards , "three-fourths of them die of hunger. A certain family with nothing but a small farm "attests its nobility only by the pigeon-house; it lives like the peasants, eating nothing but brown bread.

Everything contributes to this decay, the law, habits and customs, and, above all, the right of primogeniture. Instituted for the purpose of maintaining undivided sovereignty and patronage it ruins the nobles since sovereignty and patronage have no material to work on. Add to all this winter sojourn in town, the ceremonial and expenses caused by vanity and social requirements, and the visits to the governor and the intendant.

A man must be either a German or an Englishman to be able to pass three gloomy, rainy months in a castle or on a farm, alone, in companionship with peasants, at the risk of becoming as awkward and as fantastic as they. A good many alienate the whole, excepting their small manor and their seigniorial dues, the cens and the lods et ventes, and their hunting and justiciary rights on the territory of which they were formerly proprietors.

How could they remit dues in grain and in wine when these constitute their bread and wine for the entire year? How could they dispense with the fifth and the fifth of the fifth du quint et du requint when this is the only coin they obtain? Why, being needy should they not be exacting? Around the chateau I see sympathies declining, envy raising its head, and hatreds on the increase. Set aside in public matters, freed from taxation, the seignior remains isolated and a stranger among his vassals; his extinct authority with his unimpaired privileges form for him an existence apart.

When he emerges from it, it is to forcibly add to the public misery. From this soil, ruined by the tax-man, he takes a portion of its product, so much it, sheaves of wheat and so many measures of wine. His pigeons and his game eat up the crops. People are obliged to grind in his mill, and to leave with him a sixteenth of the flour. The sale of a field for the sum of six hundred livres puts one hundred livres into his pocket. A brother's inheritance reaches a brother only after he has gnawed out of it a year's income.

A score of other dues, formerly of public benefit, no longer serve but to support a useless private individual. The peasant, then as today, is eager for gain, determined and accustomed to do and to suffer everything to save or gain a crown. He ends by looking angrily on the turret in which are preserved the archives, the rent-roll, the detested parchments by means of which a Man of another species, favored to the detriment of the rest, a universal creditor and paid to do nothing, grazes over all the ground and feeds on all the products.

Let the opportunity come to enkindle all this covetousness, and the rent-roll will burn, and with it the turret, and with the turret, the chateau. The spectacle becomes still gloomier, on passing from the estates on which the seigniors reside to those on which they are non-residents. Noble or ennobled, lay and ecclesiastic, the latter are privileged among the privileged, and form an aristocracy inside of an aristocracy.

Almost all the powerful and accredited families belong to it whatever may be their origin and their date. Of the court nobility and of the higher clergy, they number perhaps, a thousand in each order, while their small number only brings out in higher relief the enormity of their advantages. We have seen that the appanages of the princes of the blood comprise a seventh of the territory; Necker estimates the revenue of the estates enjoyed by the king's two brothers at two millions.

With nothing else than his forests and his canal, the Duke of Orleans, before marrying his wife, as rich as himself, obtains an income of a million. He appoints one-half of the aldermen of Cambray and the whole of the administrators of Cateau. He nominates the abbots to two great abbeys, and presides over the provincial assemblies and the permanent bureau, which succeeds them.

In short, under the intendant, or at his side, he maintains a pre-eminence and better still, an influence somewhat like that to day maintained over his domain by grand duke incorporated into the new German empire. He nominates the provost of the aldermen, so that, in the words of the grievances, "he composes the entire State, or rather he is himself the State.

Let us select only those of the prelacy, and but one particular side, that of money. The veritable revenue, however, is one-half more for the bishoprics, an double and triple for the abbeys; and we must again double the veritable revenue in order to estimate its value in the money of to day. The one hundred and thirty-one bishops and arch-bishops possess in the aggregate 5, , livres of episcopal income and 1,, livres in abbeys, averaging 50, livres per head as in the printed record, and in reality , A bishop thus, in the eyes of his contemporaries, according to the statement of spectators cognizant of the actual truth, was "a grand seignior, with an income of , livres.

That of Sens brings in 70, livres; Verdun, 74,; Tours, 82,; Beauvais, Toulouse and Bayeux, 90,; Rouen, ,; Auch, Metz and Albi, ,; Narbonne, ,; Paris and Cambray, , according to official reports, and probably half as much more in sums actually collected. Other sees, less lucrative, are, proportionately, still better provided. Weigh these sums taken from the Almanach, and bear in mind that they must be doubled, and more, to obtain the real revenue, and be quadrupled, and more, to obtain the actual value.

It is evident, that, with such revenues, coupled with the feudal rights, police, justiciary and administrative, which accompany them, an ecclesiastic or lay grand seignior is, in fact, a sort of prince in his district. He bears too close a resemblance to the ancient sovereign to be entitled to live as an ordinary individual.

His private advantages impose on him a public character. His rank, and his enormous profits, makes it incumbent on him to perform proportionate services, and that, even under the sway of the intendant, he owes to his vassals, to his tenants, to his feudatories the support of his mediation, of his patronage and of his gains.

To do this he must be in residence, but, generally, he is an absentee. For a hundred and fifty years a kind of all-powerful attraction diverts the grandees from the provinces and impels them towards the capital. The movement is irresistible, for it is the effect of two forces, the greatest and most universal that influence mankind, one, a social position, and the other the national character. A tree is not to be severed from its roots with impunity. Appointed to govern, an aristocracy frees itself from the land when it no longer rules.

It ceases to rule the moment when, through increasing and constant encroachments, almost the entire justiciary, the entire administration, the entire police, each detail of the local or general government, the power of initiating, of collaboration, of control regarding taxation, elections, roads, public works and charities, passes over into the hands of the intendant or of the sub-delegate, under the supreme direction of the comptroller-general or of the king's council.

Besides he would badly perform any others. The administrative machine, with its thousands of hard, creaking and dirty wheels, as Richelieu and Louis XIV, fashioned it, can work only in the hands of workmen who may be dismissed at any time therefore unscrupulous and prompt to give way to the judgment of the State. It is impossible to allow oneself to get mixed up with rogues of that description. He accordingly abstains, and abandons public affairs to them.

Unemployed, bored, what could he now do on his domain, where he no longer reigns, and where dullness overpowers him? He betakes himself to the city, and especially to the court. Moreover, only here can he pursue a career; to be successful he has to become a courtier. It is the will of the king, one must frequent his apartments to obtain his favors; otherwise, on the first application for them the answer will be, "Who is he?

He is a man that I never see. In preferring God to the king, he has deserted. The ministers write to the intendants to ascertain if the gentlemen of their province "like to stay at home," and if they "refuse to appear and perform their duties to the king. All that a country of 25 millions men can offer that is desirable to ambition, to vanity, to interest, is found here collected as in a reservoir.

They rush to it and draw from it. The court is a vast permanent drawing room to which "access is easy and free to the king's subjects;" where they live with him, "in gentle and virtuous society in spite of the almost infinite distance of rank and power;" where the monarch prides himself on being the perfect master of a household. The king's banishment of a seignior to his estates is the highest disgrace; to the humiliation of this fall is added the insupportable weight of boredom.

The finest chateau on the most beautiful site is a frightful "desert"; nobody is seen there save the grotesques of a small town or the village peasants. Saint-Simon and other court historians, on mentioning a ceremony, repeatedly state that "all France was there"; in fact, every one of consequence in France is there, and each recognizes the other by this sign.

Paris and the court become, accordingly, the necessary sojourn of all fine people. In such a situation departure begets departure; the more a province is forsaken the more they forsake it. The two thousand seven hundred vicars and canons visit each other and dine out. With the exception of a few apostolic characters the one hundred and thirty-one bishops stay at home as little as they can; nearly all of them being nobles, all of them men of society, what could they do out of the world, confined to a provincial town?

The interval has become too great between the refined, varied and literary life of the great center, and the monotonous, inert, practical life of the provinces. Hence it is that the grand seignior who withdraws from the former cannot enter into the latter, and he remains an absentee, at least in feeling. In this impoverished and benumbed society, among these Messieurs Thibaudeau, the counselor, and Harpin, the tax-collector, among these vicomtes de Sotenville and Countesses d'Escarbagnas, lives the Archbishop, Cardinal de Larochefoucauld, grand almoner to the king, provided with four great abbeys, possessing five hundred thousand livres income, a man of the world, generally an absentee, and when at home, finding amusement in the embellishing of his gardens and palace, in short, the golden pheasant of an aviary in a poultry yard of geese.

Scarcely any politics are mentioned at a moment when every bosom ought to beat with none but political sensations. The ignorance or the stupidity of these people must be absolutely incredible; not a week passes without their country abounding with events that are analyzed an debated by the carpenters and blacksmiths of England. But, thanks to this inertia, they let themselves be driven.

The provinces form an immense stagnant pond, which, by a terrible inundation, may be emptied exclusively on one side, and suddenly; the fault lies with the engineers who failed to provide it with either dikes or outlets. Such is the languor or, rather, the prostration, into which local life falls when the local chiefs deprive it of their presence, action or sympathy. I find only three or four grand seigniors taking a part in it, practical philanthropists following the example of English noblemen; the Duc d'Harcourt, who settles the lawsuits of his peasants; the Duc de Larochefoucauld-Liancourt who establishes a model farm on his domain, and a school of industrial pursuits for the children of poor soldiers; and the Comte de Brienne, whose thirty villages are to demand liberty of the Convention.

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