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FrRevol_251-300.indd 35 3/16/12 1:07 PM ++++++ PART III ++++++ CHAPTER I On the Emigration. It is of importance to make a distinction between the voluntary and the forced emigration. After the overthrow ofthe throne in I 792 and the commencement ofthe Reign ofTerror, we all emigrated to escape the dangers with which everyone was threatened. It was not one of the least crimes of the government of that day, to have considered as culpable those who left their homes only to escape assassination at the hands of the people or of a tribunal; and to comprise in their proscriptive edicts not only men able to carry arms, but the aged, the women, and even the children. The emigration of 1791, on the other hand, being caused by no kind ofdanger, should be considered as an act of party; and under this point ofview, we can form an opinion on it according to political principles. At the moment the King was arrested at Varennes and brought back captive to Paris, a great number ofthe nobles determined on quitting their country to claim the aid of foreign powers and prevail on them to repress the revolution by force ofarms. The earliest emigrants' obliged the nobles 1. Emigration occurred in several phases. The first emigrants left France immediately after July 14, 1789; others left after 1791 or shortly after the beginning ofthe Reign ofTerror. The total number of emigres was probably between I)o,ooo and 16o,ooo (the total population of France at that time was estimated at 26 million). For a useful overview, see M. Boffa's entry on emigration during the Revolution in A Critical Dictionary ofthe French Revolution, 324~36. For more information about the history of emigration after 1789, see Daudet, Hiswire de !'emigration pendant la Revolution fran,caise, 3 vols.; Baldensperger, Le mouvement des idees dans !'emigration fran,caise, l:J8SJ-i8!5; and Greer, The Incidence ofthe Emigration During the French Revolution. 285 FrRevol_251-300.indd 36 3/16/12 1:07 PM PART III who had remained in France to follow them; they enjoined this sacrifice in the name ofa kind of honor connected with the esprit du corps, and the caste of French nobles were seen covering the public roads and repairing to the camps offoreigners on the hostile frontiers. Posterity, I believe, will pronounce that the nobility on this occasion deviated from the true principles which serve as a basis to the social union. Supposing that nobles would not have done better to take part from the outset in institutions rendered necessary by the progress ofinformation and the growth ofthe Third Estate, at least ten thousand more nobles around the King's person might have perhaps prevented him from being dethroned. But without wandering into suppositions, which may always be contested , there are in politics, as in morals, certain inflexible duties; and the first ofall is never to abandon our country to foreigners, even when they come forward to support with their armies the system which we consider the best. One party thinks itself the only virtuous, the only legitimate body; another the only national, the only patriotic. Who is to decide between them? Was the triumph of foreign armies a judgment of God on the French? The judgment of God, says the proverb, is the voice of the people. Had a civil war been necessary to measure the strength ofthe contending parties, and to manifest on which side lay the majority, the nation would by this have become greater in its own eyes, as in those ofits rivals. The Vendean leaders2 inspire a thousand times more respect than those Frenchmen who have excited the different coalitions of Europe against their country. Victory in civil war can be obtained only by dint ofcourage, energy, or justice; it is to the faculties of the soul that the success ofsuch a struggle belongs; but in order to entice foreign powers to enter one's country, an intrigue, an accidental cause, or a connection with a favored general or minister can suffice. Emigrants have at all times played with the independence of their country; they would have it, as a jealous lover wishes his mistress-dead or faithful; and the weapon with which they 2. The Vendee rebellion (south ofLoire) began on March II, 1793, less than two months after the execution ofLouis XVI (January 2!, 1793) and almost a month before the creation of the Committee of Public Safety (April 6, 1793...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781614878636
Related ISBN
9780865977327
MARC Record
OCLC
836874520
Pages
834
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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