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Madame Thérèse Introduction and notes by Edward Manley   By:

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Heath's Modern Language Series

MADAME THÉRÈSE

PAR

ERCKMANN CHATRIAN

EDITED WITH INTRODUCTION, NOTES, AND VOCABULARY

BY

EDWARD MANLEY

ENGLEWOOD HIGH SCHOOL, CHICAGO

D. C. HEATH & CO., PUBLISHERS BOSTON NEW YORK CHICAGO

COPYRIGHT, 1910 BY D. C. HEATH & CO.

Printed in U. S. A.

INTRODUCTION

THE FRENCH REVOLUTION

Madame Thérèse is a story of the French Revolution. The events described in it occur between the summer of 1793 and the following spring. It abounds in allusions to episodes in the Revolution itself and contains many references to customs which owed their origin to the Revolution. Though it presents no difficulties to the intelligent Frenchman, still, by the constant introduction of these allusions to events and institutions of the Revolution, it refers to many things which are not clear to readers of other nations, unless they are familiar with the leading facts of French history preceding the revolutionary outbreak. The following sections contain an account of many things mentioned in Madame Thérèse.

1. The French Revolution was the culmination of the revolt of the French people against royal despotism and class privilege. The spectacular part of the Revolution began in 1789, the real revolution was complete before that date. In 1786 the king, Louis XVI, called together the ancient representative and legislative body of the nation to ascertain whether the members could suggest any means of securing the great and constantly increasing sums of money which he thought necessary for maintaining an extravagant court and incidentally the government.

2. If the king was compelled as a last resort to summon this ancient legislative body, called the Estates General, the financial condition of the government must have been bad indeed; for the Estates General had not met for two centuries. It was unable to devise any increase in taxation which the people could bear, for the poorer classes were already taxed to the utmost and the upper classes were unwilling to tax themselves. The Estates General, therefore, was not able to plan ways and means of increasing the income of the government.

3. But in this session the non privileged part of the people had leaders. Certain nobles and ecclesiastics, of whom Mirabeau and Abbé Sieyès are the best known, purposely became representatives, not of the upper classes but of the lower. Under their guidance representatives of the Third Estate (the three estates were the Nobility, the Clergy, and the Commons) in the Estates General now assumed power on behalf of the French people to regulate taxation. They represented ninety six per cent of the population and took the name of National Assembly.

4. This was revolution. It stirred the king to assert his authority and he directed them to adjourn. They refused. The Assembly now proceeded to a consideration of changes in the government. The king brought soldiers to Paris. This act of intimidation won for the Assembly the support of the Parisian mob. One of the first acts of this mob was to destroy the Bastille, which was the ancient state prison and a monument of royal oppression.

5. The peasantry in France rose, and in some places demolished the castles of the nobility. The mob brought the king from the royal residence at Versailles to Paris, where he was kept practically a prisoner. Thus in a few months the people had secured control of the government, but without overthrowing the monarchy. On the fourth of August, 1789, the National Assembly "swept away all the odious privileges of the old regime and decreed in law the reign of equality in France... Continue reading book >>




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