3. The Decline of the Old Elite, pp. 59-71 [FN: 29-41]
The elite which is still dominant, consists principally of the bourgeoisie and, to a small extent, of the remnants of the other elites.
When an elite declines, we can generally observe two signs which manifest themselves simultaneously:
1. The declining elite becomes softer, milder, more humane and less apt to defend its own power.
2. On the other hand, it does not lose its rapacity and greed for the goods of others, but rather tends as much as possible to increase its unlawful appropriations and to indulge in major usurpations of the national patrimony.
Thus, on one hand it makes the yoke heavier, and on the other it has less strength to maintain it. These two conditions cause the catastrophe in which the elite perishes, whereas it could prosper if one of them were absent. Thus, if its own strength does not weaken but grows, its appropriations too may increase, and if these decrease, its dominion may, though less frequently, be maintained with a lesser force. Thus the feudal nobility, at the time it arose, could increase its usurpations because its force was growing; thus the Romans and the English elites could, while yielding where yielding was called for, maintain their own power. The French aristocracy on the other hand, eager to maintain its own privileges, and perhaps also to increase them, while its force to defend them Was diminishing, provoked the violent revolution of the end of the eighteenth century. In short, there must be a certain equilibrium between the power a social class possesses and the force at its disposal to defend it. Domination without that force cannot last.
Elites often become effete. They preserve a certain passive courage, but lack active courage. It is amazing to see how in imperial Rome the members of the elite committed suicide or allowed themselves to be assassinated without the slightest defense, as long as it pleased Caesar. We are equally amazed when we see the nobles in France die on the guillotine, instead of going down fighting, weapon in hand.
Rome marveled greatly seeing the vigor of the old elite flower anew in Silano. Locked up in Bari, he answered the centurion who tried to persuade him to let his veins be opened (*suadentique venas abrumpere*) that he was ready to die, but also to fight. Although unarmed, he never ceased to defend himself and to strike out as he could with his bare hands, until he fell as it were in combat, pierced by stabs received from the front.
If Louis XVI had had the spirit of Silano, he would have saved himself and his family, and perhaps spared the nation much blood and pain. Even on August 10 he could still have fought a battle with hope to win. "If the king had wanted to fight he could still have defended himself, he could have saved himself and even won," says Taine. But the elite of that time resembled the bourgeoisie of today, as can be observed in countries like France, where the democratic evolution is most accentuated. Although Taine speaks of that time, his language precisely describes present conditions in France when he says: "At the end of the 18th century, a horror of blood prevailed in the upper, and even in the middle class; refinement of manners and idyllic dreams had weakened the militant will power (and today again the French bourgeoisie indulges in sweet dreams). Everywhere the magistrates were forgetting that the maintenance of society and civilization is infinitely more valuable than the lives of a handful of offenders and fools. They forgot that the primary objective of government, as it is of the police force, is the preservation of order through force."  The same phenomenon could be seen in Rome, where it prepared the, downfall of the empire, and now that it is being repeated for our bourgeoisie, it seems likely that the end will not be different from that which has been observed in the past.
At present this phenomenon can be seen in almost all the civilized states, but is best observed in France and Belgium, which are more advanced in the radical-socialist evolution and show in some manner the goal toward which the evolution tends in general.
A superficial study is sufficient to show that the dominant class in these countries is weighed down by sentimental and humanitarian tendencies quite similar to those which existed toward the end of the eighteenth century. The sensibility of that class has become almost morbid and threatens to deprive the penal laws of all efficacy. Every day new laws are being devised to help poor thieves and amiable assassins, and where a new law does not exist, a convenient interpretation of the old one will do. At Chateau-Thierry, a now famous judge simply ignores the law and judicates according to the blind passion of the crowd. The bourgeoisie resigns itself and remains silent. If another judge wishes to do his duty, he is eyed with distrust and perhaps ridiculed on the stage. In the absence of every repression, the vagabonds have become a real scourge of the countryside; in isolated cottages, they threaten while they beg; out of revenge, or an evil impulse, or simply by imprudence, they burn down the castles of the rich; arson has by now become a frequent occurrence. The authorities look on and remain inactive; they know that if they performed their duty punctiliously the results would be interpellations in Parliament and perhaps the downfall of the Cabinet. Even stranger to watch is the demeanor of the victims, who are silent and resigned, as if faced by an evil to which there is no remedy. The most courageous content themselves with the hope that some general will re-enact the operation of Napoleon III and, in the process, liberate them from the plague.
The crimes committed during strikes remain unpunished; the judges will sometimes pass a guilty verdict but it is a formal verdict at best, soon to be followed by an acquittal, imposed by the workers or spontaneously conceded by the government "to pacify." The workers have inherited the privilege of the nobleman of the past, they are in fact above the law. They have even a special tribunal of their own, the court of arbitration, which will definitely condemn the "boss" and the "bourgeois" even if these had all the right on their side. Where this parody of justice is being enacted, the honest attorney will advise his client not to seek litigation because he would be sure to lose. Of course, social democracy wishes to extend the jurisdiction of this exceptional tribunal. The ecclesiastic court has been abolished - and the workers' court was born. Athenian democracy, which was ruining the rich through lawsuits, was imitated by the Italian republics, and is now being imitated by modern democracy. The old elite, when it was in power, did even worse, so that one cannot conclude from these facts anything against one or the other regime;  they are simply signs indicating which class is declining and which is on the rise. Where class A enjoys legal privileges and the laws are wrongly interpreted in its favor and against class B, it is obvious that A has, or is about to have, the advantage over B, and vice versa.
The decisions of the jury are also signs in this direction and show that the bourgeoisie adopts the worst sentiments of the common people.
Finally, where a little romance enters the picture, bourgeois sentimentality reveals itself as foolishly wicked. From among many instances, it is sufficient to mention this recent one. A gentleman, who was boyishly sentimental, married a prostitute in order to "rehabilitate" her; after life in common had become impossible, he wished to divorce his wife - whereupon she killed him. The jury acquitted her, and here are some of the good reasons the accused proffered: "One does not regret a man who, at the decline of his life, fails to complete the good deed he has begun. What I regret is the fact that I had to kill him because he had left me. I also killed him because he had asked for a divorce, because he has covered me with shame and at the same time defiled his own name. I, a divorcée? never! So, there was only one solution left."  The influence of feminism and of theatrical eloquence is clearly seen in the novel and in the press, all in favor of the prostitute. The victim was infected by similar theories, he had written to his wife: "I have taken you as Fantine of *Les Miserables* and I believed in your rehabilitation." This good man, instead of paying attention to Victor Hugo, Dumas Fils and other eulogists of the fallen woman, would have done better to marry a decent girl; and certainly his fault of giving credence to such empty declamations deserved punishment. However, the death penalty was perhaps a little too harsh, and moreover, the manner how and by whom it was administered is an affront to justice. It would seem to anyone not completely intoxicated with "humanitarian" doctrines that those good, sentimental and feminist panel members should have doubted somewhat the theory according to which he who "fails to complete a good deed he began" deserved to be killed by the person who had benefited from such a deed.
The fate of this ill-rewarded *humanitarian* reflects the fate that befell the humanitarian French aristocracy at the time of the revolution. It reflects also the fate that is in store for our bourgeoisie, which will have to expiate, by loss of property if not by the guillotine, the fault of "not having completed the good deed" to which it is now so dedicated, at least in words, while it endeavors to relieve, to rehabilitate and glorify the wretched and degenerate, the vicious and delinquent. "As long as the sun shall shine upon man's misfortunes, the sheep will be eaten by the wolf."  All that is left is, for those who know and can, to avoid becoming sheep.
At the banquet of the republican Committee of Commerce and Industry, which took place on June 22, 1900, Millerand began with the usual phrases, and declared that he was moved by the acknowledgment "of the efforts which I attempted toward some progress along the road of social justice, which road the republic must forever follow without fail, and toward the work of social rehabilitation, which means to bend in compassion toward the most unfortunate and to try to give them more justice and well-being." And then he addressed these bourgeoisie in friendly tones, speaking about an alliance: "Our ministry has shown the necessity of an alliance between the bourgeoisie and the workers, and we must prove that we are proud of it." Not one among those present remembered the old fable:
*Nunquam est fidelis cum potente societas*, and dared answer the citizen, "the comrade," and minister: “After we shall have helped you defeat the nationalists, you will act like the lion in the fable and take everything":
*Sic totam praedam sola improbitas abstulit*. "You have already made a beginning. You call us allies but you permit that we be robbed with impunity. For good measure, your friend Jaurès, whom you have made a member of the Labor Department, proposes that, if the majority of the workers wish to strike, the minority must be constrained by the police to obey, and management is forbidden to keep part of the striking labor at work or to hire others not involved in the strike." There were many industrialists present, and not one had the courage even to whisper. People with so little spirit do not rightly deserve any regard. Thinking of them, Millerand could have remembered the words of Tiberius about another degenerated elite: “*O homines ad servitutem paratos*.
It is pitiful to observe how all the parties flatter and adulate the people. Even a man like Galliffet proclaims, in the French Parlement, that he is a socialist! They all prostrate themselves at the feet of the new sovereign and debase themselves before him.
It is, in part, from this steadily growing weakness of the bourgeoisie that the new religious fervor which pervades that class stems. Hence this weakness is also one of the many causes of the present religious crisis. It has often been said that the devil, when he grows old, becomes a monk; often a courtesan on whom the years begin to weigh gives up her wicked ways and turns into a bigot. The case of the bourgeoisie is not at all similar, for though it has become bigoted, it has not given up its wicked ways.
The humanitarian sentiments and the sensibility which it exhibits are inflated, artificial, and false. Admittedly, prostitutes, thieves, and murderers deserve compassion, but is not an honest mother of a family, is not a man of honor and integrity equally worthy? It is good and noble to enter into the sufferings of the poor of today and try to alleviate them. But the sufferings of tomorrow's poor, those who live in ease today and are to be despoiled and reduced to misery, are they made of different stuff? In reality the bourgeoisie of today does not look to the future; it exploits the present and thereafter - the deluge. Its sensibility gives vent in words, often concealing base profits. The weak are usually also vile; they practice skillful larceny but do not venture to commit armed robbery.
Elites in a stage of decline generally display humanitarian sentiments and great kindness; but this kindness, provided it is not simply weakness, is more seeming than real. Seneca was a perfect stoic, but he possessed great riches, splendid palaces, innumerable slaves. The French noblemen who applauded Rousseau knew how to make their "fermiers" pay; and the new love of virtue did not prevent them from dissipating in orgies with whores, the money extorted from the peasants, who were starving to death. Today in France a landowner collects, thanks to the duties on grain and cattle, thousands of lire from his fellow citizens; he donates a hundred lire or a little more to a "People's University," and with his purse thus fattened, appeases his conscience and hopes in addition, to be elected at the polls. To be moved with compassion for the poor and destitute in the midst of luxuries agreeably stimulates the senses. Many are landowners today and socialists in the future, and so they feed from two mangers at a time. That future is so far away, who knows when it will come! In the meantime it is sweet to enjoy one's wealth and to discuss equality, to pick up friendships, public offices, sometimes also to find good opportunities for making money, and to pay with words and future promises. There is always a profit to gain by bartering a sure asset for a promissory note signed for so long and uncertain a term.
The sums which the ruling class appropriates illicitly, thanks to protective duties, from premiums on navigation, on sugar, and many related products, to enterprises subsidized by the State, the syndicates, trusts, etc., are enormous and certainly comparable to the sums which, during other periods, were extorted by other ruling classes. The only advantage for the nation is the fact that the method of clipping the sheep has been perfected; hence, for the same amount of extorted wealth the amount squandered is smaller. The feudal lord who robbed the wayfarers obstructed the expansion of commerce; he stole a few soldi and indirectly destroyed several lire; his successor, who benefits from protective duties, illicitly appropriates a large amount of wealth but indirectly destroys less.
Our ruling class is insatiable; as its power wanes, its fraudulent practices increase. Every day in France, in Italy, in Germany, in America, it demands new tightenings of duties, new provisions to safeguard trade, new obstacles to commerce under the pretext of sanitary provisions, new subsidies of every kind. In Italy, under Depretis, the government used to send soldiers to mow the fields of landowners who refused to pay the wages requested by free mowers; today this fine practice is being renewed. It seems the feudal corvées are on their way back. The soldiers, instead of being used solely for the defense of the country, serve the landowners to keep down wages that would otherwise be fixed by free competition.
Such is the method of despoiling the poor, applied by our foremost "humanitarians." Congresses against tuberculosis are fine, but it would be even better not to steal the bread from those who starve and it would also be preferable, either to be a little less "humanitarian," or to respect the property of others a little more.
There is not the least sign to indicate that the dominant class is about to abandon the bad road, and it is to be assumed that it will continue to tread it until the days of final catastrophe. This could already be seen in France as regards the old aristocracy. To the very eve of the revolution they were besieging that unfortunate Louis XVI, clamoring for money. In Italy one could see, under Depretis, systematically ordered robbery and pillage. From the elector to the elected, all were selling and buying each other. The tightening of protectionism in 1887 was used as a means to auction off to the highest bidder the right to impose private levies on the citizens; others made their profits on railroads, banks, steel mills, and the merchant marine. The entire ruling class crowded around the government demanding, with great outcries, at least a bone to nibble on. It was then that the bad seed was sown; its fruits were the tears and the blood of May 1898, and even bitterer fruits may ripen in the future. The unlawful appropriations of the ruling class were countered by the violence of the people, subdued but not conquered by unjust repression. I say unjust, because it was intended, not to protect order and property, but to defend privileges, to perpetuate robbery, and to render possible such scandalous acts as the Notarbartolo trial.
We wish to caution the reader that where we speak of the diminishing strength of the dominant class, we by no means refer to a decrease in violence; it even occurs very frequently that the weak are precisely those who are also violent. None is more cruel and violent than the coward. Strength and violence are two entirely different concepts. Trajan was strong and not violent; Nero was violent but not strong.
If, as is probable, the contrast between the evil deeds, which are forever increasing, and the spirit, courage, and strength, which are progressively declining, should become more acute, the end can only be a violent catastrophe, which will restore the equilibrium that has been so gravely disturbed.
Notes for Chap. 3. The Decline of the Old Elite, pp. 59-71 [FN: 29-41]
 Duruy, *op. cit.*, IV, p. 522, narrating the cowardice of the aristocratic conspirators under Nero, adds: "Here is the great courage of these proud republicans! Faced with torture, with the least test of courage, they lose all their dignity and, to save their own lives, they relinquish their friends and their loved ones to the executioner. Is not Lucian a parricide just as Nero, when he accuses his innocent mother? How much cowardice did despotism and corruption sink into the souls that had seemed so utterly steeled! Never was the moral level of the world so low."
These last remarks are simply rhetorical declamations. If the aristocracy was cowardly. the people manifested courage. Duruy himself indicates it: "A woman, a courtesan, put these unworthy Romans to shame. … The soldiers too showed some vestiges of the ancient virtues."
There we have on one hand Piso, who allows his veins to be opened and in his last will adulates Nero: “*Testamentum foedis adversus Neronem adulationibus amori uxoris dedit*” Tacitus, Cornelius, *Annalium ab excessu divi Augusti quae supersunt* ab I.G. Baitero, editio altera (Turici, sumptibus ac typis Orellii Fuesslini et Sociorum, 1859, Liber XV, Cap. 59, p. 531); on the other, a simple centurion, Subrio, who has the courage to confront Nero with the crimes of which he was guilty: “*odisse coepi, postquam parricida matris et uxoris, auriga et histrio et incendiarius extitisti*” (idem, Cap. 67. p. 537). Who could fail to see in this contrast an aristocracy about to die and another new one that was
Taine, *L’anc. reg.*, p. 219 - Translation into English by John Durand (New York: Henry Holt, 1876, Ch: II, p. 169).: "An all-powerful education repressed, modified enfeebled instinct itself. About to die, they (the French gentlemen) experience none of the reactions of blood and rage, the universal and sudden restoration of the forces, the murderous spasm, the blind irresistible need of striking those who strike them. If a gentleman is arrested in his own house by a Jacobin, we never find him splitting his head open. (In nota: The following is an example of what armed resistance can accomplish for a man in his own house. A gentleman of Marseille, proscribed and living in his country domicile, has provided himself with gun, pistols and sabre, and never goes out without his armament, declaring, that he will not be taken alive. Nobody has dared to execute the order of arrest.') They allow themselves to be taken, going quietly to prison; to make an uproar would be bad taste, it is necessary above all things to remain what they are, well-bred people of society. … They preserve their dignity and their smile before their judges and on the cart; the women, especially, mount the scaffold with the ease and serenity characteristic of an evening entertainment.”
Taine comes nearer to the truth than Duruy, but he does not quite hit the mark. It was not only education which deprived them of active courage, it was a combination of circumstances, including, among others, their sentimental follies. Thus, the bourgeois of today who, in their speeches and their writings flatter the enemy and lick the boots "of the poor and humble,” are ripe for the rope, and they will let themselves be despoiled and killed without offering resistance.
 *Nec omisit Silanus obniti et intendere ictus, quantum manibus nudis ralebat, donec a centurione vulneribus adversis, tamquam in pugna, caderet* (Tacitus, *op. cit.*, Liber XVI, Cap. 9).
 *La conq. Jacob*, p. 240.
 *Ibid*., p. 242.
 Renan, *op. cit.*, p. 296: "Everybody's condition improved … to bring relief to those who suffer became the universal concern. … The cruel Roman aristocracy was being replaced by a provincial aristocracy of honest people who wanted to do good. The force and superiority of the ancient world were being lost. [Most true; once the force is lost what reason for dominion remains?] People became kind, gentle, patient, human [in a word: weak, but then it is only rIght to quit and leave the field to the strong]. As always happens, socialist ideas taking advantage of this broadmindedness, made their appearance. …”
 Le Bon, *Psych. du soc.*, p. 384: “… the enemies of the new barbarians think of nothing but negotiating with them and thus prolonging their existence a little by a series of conversations, which only serve to encourage those leading the attack against them and to provoke their contempt."
 In one of his latest decisions, involving a case against an alleged false witness, he said: "Considering that, in committing thIS abominable act of perjury, X became, knowingly. the tool of a family, and more particularly of an individual, who thought that, thanks to his fortune - *the origin of which went back, according to the mayor of his town, to the invasion of 1870—1871* - he would find it easy, by misleading justice, to ignore his obligations. etc. …”
How does the insinuation regarding the origin of the patrimony enter here, juridically speaking? What relation is there between that origin, which incidentally was not proved and is only re~ £erred to as hearsay, and the fact, on which alone the magistrate was supposed to pass; namely, whether a witness was or was not corrupt? But it must be pointed out that the testimony which is said to be false refers to a seduction. What we have here, therefore, is not a verdict but a drama for the stage. On one side there is the traitor, the tyrant, whose every word and every action is a crime, and to complete the picture, the poet shows him to be the heir of a patrimony acquired through the betrayal of his country; on the other, we have the innocent persecuted dove, in whom everything breathes supreme virtue.
That judge is now to preside over the *Congrès de l'humanité*. His harangues will be much more suitable there.
 Salvemini, G. (*Magnati e popolani in Firenze dal 1280 al 1295*, p. 178), remarks that in Florence a double penalty is fixed for crimes committed by magnates against workmen "only in case of a grave injury with bloodshed; in other cases the penalty is multiplied by five or even by six. Also in the People's Charter of Orvieto, at the beginning of the thirteenth century, it is stated as a general rule that the penalty for a nobleman who offends a workman is four times greater than that imposed in ordinary cases; and in the State of Lucca in 1308, the penalty was doubled for some crimes, for others it was multiplied by three, or by four, or by five" (p. 23). "When a workman accused a magnate, the rectors could not very easily absolve him, because they were at once accused of partiality toward the magnates … therefore the judges always passed guilty verdicts and always decided in favor of the injured party or the one that styled himself so." This is exactly what happens in certain arbitration courts or in courts with ordinary justices directly or indirectly elected by the people. One of these justices apologized for a decision which he himself had recognized as iniquitous, by saying: "I could not harm my party and be ungrateful toward those who had elected me."
Our author continues: "Therefore the magnates complained and said: “A horse, while galloping, hits with its tail a workman's face; or, in the middle of a crowd, you hit somebody in the chest, without malice; or small children will pick a quarrel, must these, in themselves small matters, become crimes?'" And an example of how the laws were interpreted, is offered in Neri Strinati, *Cronichetta*, p. 122 *et seq.* In 1294 Neri had gone bail with the Scali Company, for M. Lamberto Cipriani, for an obligation of 550 pounds, together with five other associates, among them two workmen. When, because of the principal's failure, the guarantors were obliged to pay, one of the two workmen was dead, and the other refused to pay, "giving as a reason that I and Maffeo Brunelleschi (another guarantor) were magnates and that we could not bring action against Gone and the heirs of Goso (the two workmen) who were of the people. … Ordinances had been issued by the people against the magnates." At least the victims voiced their complaints. Now they are silent. I know more facts, but cannot enumerate them here for want of courage, which is characteristic of those who, having suffered injustice, are afraid lest the mere complaint will be ascribed to them as a new proof of guilt.
 If in Rome the senators were as corrupt as judges. the knights were even more so. "The right to administer justice elevated the knights to the rank of masters and reduced the senators to the rank of subjects. The new judges voted with the Tribunes of the People, and in exchange obtained from the Tribunes whatever they wanted [exactly what is happening now]. They did not content themselves with political domination. In the tribunals they committed open acts of injustice against the senators [just as the arbiters do now against the bourgeois]. They became used to corruption, and as soon as they tasted the pleasure of huge gains they treated the one-time judges in an even more shameful manner." Belot, *Hist. des chev. rom.*, II, p. 238.
 The man was called Victor Buurmans; he was assassinated at Courbevoie by the woman who, in order to reach him, had disguised herself as a man. A letter by Elisée Reclus, read at the trial, was reprinted in *Figaro* of April 13, 1900. The illusustrious geographer and utopian said: "I saw Buurmans frequently in his home; I always admired the kindness, the gentleness, the nobility of his attitude toward his wife and the dignified reserve he observed when he had occasion to speak of her. He never complained and his suffering must have reached a climax before he decided to write the distressing letter in which he explained to his friends the reason why he was leaving his marital home. …”
The above-mentioned journal says: "Involved in the events of the Commune, a poet in his leisure hours, Victor Buurmans married 37 years ago the inmate of one of those houses where romance is seldom born. But the humanitarian philosopher had dreamed the generous dream of saving Elisa from shame. …”
 It was well said by G. Le Bon, *op. cit.*, p. 475: “Nor is it by flattering them (the crowds) with the most humiliating servility, as is done today, that one succeeds in seducing them. They back those who flatter them, but they back them with a just contempt, and as the flatteries become more excessive, they raise the level of their demands." And on p. 369: "If the proletarian could doubt his own logic, there would be no want of rhetoricians, more servile to him than the courtiers of oriental despots, ready to remind him incessantly of his imaginary rights."
Le Bon says correct things about socialism; however, he is simply the adherent of a certain anthropological patriotic religion, and therefore speaks with the enthusiasm of a believer. He fights against socialism because it is a rival religion. He resembles somewhat the Emperor Julian, who fought against
Christianity, not as a free thinker, but as the believer of a certaIn
pagan religion of his own.
 Why waste words in order to describe anew what has already been excellently described? I prefer to quote here a few verses from Aristophanes, *The Knights* (translated by Benjamin Bickley Rogers, *Great Books of the Western World*, Vol. V, p. 479, lines 773-778, 906-911:
*Paphlagon*: O Demos, how can there be ever a man who loves you as dearly as I?
When on me you relied your finances to guide, your Treasury never was dry,
I was begging of these, whilst those I would squeeze and rack to extort what was due,
And naught did I Care how a townsman might fare, so long as I satisfied you.
*Sausage-Seller*: Why. Demos, there's nothing to boast of in that; to do it I'm perfectly able.
I've only to steal from my comrade a meal, and serve it up hot on your table.
*Sausage-Seller*: And I'll this gallipot provide, and healing cream within it;
Whereby the sore upon your shins you'll doctor in a minute.
*Paphlagon*: I'll pick these grey hairs neatly out, and make you young and fair.
*Sausage-Seller*: See here; this hair-scut take to wipe your darling eyes with care.
*Paphlagon*: Vouchsafe to blow your nose, and clean your fingers on my hair.
*Sausage-Seller*: No, no; on mine, on mine, on mine!
 Augeard says: "As soon as he entered upon the scene, M. de. Calonne took up a loan of 100 million, one quarter of which was never put into the royal treasury; the rest was swallowed up by the people at court; what he handed out to the Count of Artois has been estimated at 56 million, the portion of Monsieur at 25 million, etc.” And Ch. Gamel, *Les derniers receveurs généraux*, p. 155: "He multiplied his generosities toward the courtiers; he never refused a request for money; the financial favors did not seem to cost him anything at all … profusion handed out bounties; a prince later said: 'When I saw that everybody was stretching out his hand, I tendered my hat.’ Millions
were thus distributed among all those who addressed themselves to the Controller General (Calonne), and sometimes he took the initiative himself in dispensing liberalities. … Since the war was over and commerce prospered, the prodigality of Calonne, far from provoking astonishment or blame, was generally considered proof of the immensity of the State's resources." The same thing occurs also at other times and in other countries.
And further, on page 197: "In order to oblige other grandees, he soon proceeded to make acquisitions or else exchanges, and he showed himself extremely accommodating in the evaluations: his objective in approving these acts was in effect not to augment or to enrich the royal domain, but to satisfy the solicitations of sellers and exchangers. … Pamphlets have asserted that the complaisance of the minister of finance had been dearly bought. … This accusation was indignantly rejected by Calonne … and does not seem to be justified." The same can be said of other ministers who generously distributed favors of customs and banking patronage, while they received little or no compensation in exchange. It often occurs, by the way, that the most corrupt classes have more or less honest ministers to serve them.