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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

They expected to find Reveillon there

to the exercise of rights which

would not be willingly renounced; ignorance and inexperience kept away from the primary assemblies many working-men and peasants; the middle class alone proceeded in mass to the elections. The irregular slowness of the preparatory operations had retarded the convocations; for three months, the agitation attendant upon successive assemblies kept France in suspense. Paris was still voting on the 28th of April, 1789, the mob thronged the streets; all at once the rumor ran that an attack was being made on the house of an ornamental paper-maker in the faubourg St. Antoine, named Reveillon. Starting as a simple journeyman, this man had honestly made his fortune; he was kind to those who worked in his shops: he was accused, nevertheless, amongst the populace, of having declared that a journeyman could live on fifteen sous a day. The day before, threats had been levelled at him; he had asked for protection from the police, thirty men had been sent to him. The madmen who were swarming against his house and stores soon got the better of so weak a guard, everything was destroyed; the rioters rushed to the archbishop's, there was voting going on there; they expected to find Reveillon there, whom they wanted to murder. They were repulsed by the battalions of the French and Swiss guards. More than two hundred were killed. Money was found in their pockets. The Parliament suspended its prosecutions against the ringleaders of so many crimes. The government, impotent and disarmed, as
timid in presence of this riot as in presence of opposing parties, at last came before the States-general, but blown about by the contrary winds of excited passions, without any guide and without fixed resolves, without any firm and compact nucleus in the midst of a new and unknown Assembly, without confidence in the troops, who were looked upon, however, as a possible and last resort.

The States-general were presented to the king on the 2d of May, 1789. It seemed as if the two upper orders, by a prophetic instinct of their ruin, wanted, for the last time, to make a parade of their privileges. Introduced without delay to the king, they left, in front of the palace, the deputies of the third estate to wait in the rain. The latter were getting angry and already beginning to clamor, when the gates were opened to them. In the magnificent procession on the 4th, when the three orders accompanied the king to the church of St. Louis at Versailles, the laced coats and decorations of the nobles, the superb vestments of the prelates, easily eclipsed the modest cassocks of the country priests as well as the sombre costume imposed by ceremonial upon the deputies of the third estate; the Bishop of Nancy, M. de la Fare, maintained the traditional distinctions even in the sermon he delivered before the king. "Sir," said he, "accept the homage of the clergy, the respects of the noblesse, and the most humble supplications of the third estate." The untimely applause which greeted the bishop's words were excited by the picture he drew of the misery in the country-places exhausted by the rapacity of the fiscal agents. At this striking solemnity, set off with all the pomp of the past, animated with all the hopes of the future, the eyes of the public sought out, amidst the sombre mass of deputies of the third (estate), those whom their deeds, good or evil, had already made celebrated: Malouet, Mounier, Mirabeau, the last greeted with a murmur which was for a long while yet to accompany his name. "When the summons by name per bailiwick took place," writes an eye-witness, "there were cheers for certain deputies who were known, but at the name of Mirabeau there was a noise of a very different sort. He had wanted to speak on two or three occasions, but a general murmur had prevented him from making himself heard. I could easily see how grieved he was, and I observed some tears of vexation standing in his bloodshot eyes " [_Souvenirs de Dumont,_ p. 47].

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