Source Problems on the French Revolution

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7. Mounier, Recherches Sur Les Causes Qui Ont Empêché Les Français De Devenir Libres, I, 294.

June 20th. A short time before the hour fixed for the meeting, the deputy who was the presiding officer received a letter from the grand master of ceremonies; he would not have had time to notify all the members of the assembly at their lodgings. He [Bailly] replied that he had received no order from the king, and that he was going to the meeting of the assembly. The grand master of ceremonies wrote him a second letter to inform him that he acted only in accordance with the orders of the monarch. But did they not know that the deputies were going to gather at the door of their hall; that, repulsed by armed men, they would not fail to consider this act as an outrage; that their indignation would quickly spread to the multitude? Is it not indeed surprising that the populace, irritated by the gathering of the deputies, hurrying in crowds through the streets of Versailles, complaining with loud cries because their assembly hall had been closed by military force—is it not surprising that at the very instant it did not break out into fierce revolt? Doubtless these measures had not been contemplated by the king; they were due to the blunders of secondary officials. But, none the less, they led to the most deplorable consequences; they gave birth to the fear that the states general were to be dissolved, that it would be necessary to renounce all hopes born at the time of their convocation. The members of the commons took refuge in a tennis court, and there they took an oath never to separate until the constitution had been made.

Sharing the general indignation; fearing to see this great opportunity, so long awaited, of reforming abuses and improving the lot of the people, vanish; hearing around me the assertion that we must choose between taking the oath or going at once to the capital in the midst of the fermentation this scandalous scene would create; yielding to the desire of recovering the credit with the popular party I had lost, and which I wished to recover only that I might use it for the good of my country; hoping that the union of the orders, which appeared to me inevitable and not remote, would create a majority favorable to the royal authority, I believed this oath less dangerous, I believed that it was justified by the circumstances, I charged myself imprudently with putting it before the assembly. This fatal oath was an infringement of the rights of the monarch; it was equivalent to saying to him that he had not the right to dissolve the assembly; it rendered the assembly independent of him, whatever use it might make of its authority. How I reproach myself to-day with having proposed it! What lessens the bitterness of these recollections is that a hundred voices would have been raised to present this measure had I not presented it myself; or, what was worse still, the assembly would have set the capital on fire and, supported by the whole force of the people, would have put itself in a state of war with the king. But what intrepid firmness was shown by M. Martin, deputy of Auch, who alone in that impassioned crowd dared to speak of the fidelity he owed his prince, braved injuries and menaces, and asked to be permitted to protest.1

1 This second paragraph appears as a footnote in the French text, page 296.

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Chicago: "7. Mounier, Recherches Sur Les Causes Qui Ont Empêché Les Français De Devenir Libres, I, 294," Source Problems on the French Revolution in Source Problems on the French Revolution, ed. Fred Morrow Fling and Helene Dresser Fling (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1913), 55–57. Original Sources, accessed November 29, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=GEHXH1V4QYNA5E7.

MLA: . "7. Mounier, Recherches Sur Les Causes Qui Ont Empêché Les Français De Devenir Libres, I, 294." Source Problems on the French Revolution, Vol. I, in Source Problems on the French Revolution, edited by Fred Morrow Fling and Helene Dresser Fling, New York, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1913, pp. 55–57. Original Sources. 29 Nov. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=GEHXH1V4QYNA5E7.

Harvard: , '7. Mounier, Recherches Sur Les Causes Qui Ont Empêché Les Français De Devenir Libres, I, 294' in Source Problems on the French Revolution. cited in 1913, Source Problems on the French Revolution, ed. , Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, pp.55–57. Original Sources, retrieved 29 November 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=GEHXH1V4QYNA5E7.