By midnight Madame Rabourdin's
salon was deserted; only two
or three guests remained with
des Lupeaulx and the master and
mistress of the house. When Schinner
and Monsieur and Madame de Camps
had likewise departed, des Lupeaulx
rose with a mysterious air, stood
with his back to the fireplace
and looked alternately at the
husband and wife.
"My friends," he said, "nothing
is really lost, for the minister
and I are faithful to you. Dutocq
simply chose between two powers
the one he thought strongest.
He has served the court and the
Grand Almoner; he has betrayed
me. But that is in the order
of things; a politician never
complains of treachery. Nevertheless,
Baudoyer will be dismissed as
incapable in a few months; no
doubt his protectors will find
him a place,--in the prefecture
of police, perhaps,--for the
clergy will not desert him."
From this point
des Lupeaulx went on with a
long tirade about
the Grand Almoner and the dangers
the government ran in relying
upon the church and upon the
Jesuits. We need not, we think,
point out to the intelligent
reader that the court and the
Grand Almoner, to whom the liberal
journals attributed an enormous
influence under the administration,
had little really to do with
Monsieur Baudoyer's appointment.
Such petty intrigues die in the
upper sphere of great self-interests.
If a few words in favor of Baudoyer
were obtained by the importunity
of the curate of Saint-Paul's
and the Abbe Gaudron, they would
have been withdrawn immediately
at a suggestion from the minister.
The occult power of the Congregation
of Jesus (admissible certainly
as confronting the bold society
of the "Doctrine," entitled "Help
yourself and heaven will help
you,") was formidable only through
the imaginary force conferred
on it by subordinate powers who
perpetually threatened each other
with its evils. The liberal scandal-
mongers delighted in representing
the Grand Almoner and the whole
Jesuitical Chapter as political,
administrative, civil, and military
giants. Fear creates bugbears.
At this crisis Baudoyer firmly
believed in the said Chapter,
little aware that the only Jesuits
who had put him where he now
was sat by his own fireside,
and in the Cafe Themis playing
epochs in history certain powers
appear, to whom
all evils are attributed, though
at the same time their genius
is denied; they form an efficient
argument in the mouth of fools.
Just as Monsieur de Talleyrand
was supposed to hail all events
of whatever kind with a bon mot,
so in these days of the Restoration
the clerical party had the credit
of doing and undoing everything.
Unfortunately, it did and undid
nothing. Its influence was not
wielded by a Cardinal Richelieu
or a Cardinal Mazarin; it was
in the hands of a species of
Cardinal de Fleury, who, timid
for over five years, turned bold
for one day, injudiciously bold.
Later on, the "Doctrine" did
more, with impunity, at Saint-Merri,
than Charles X. pretended to
do in July, 1830. If the section
on the censorship so foolishly
introduced into the new charter
had been omitted, journalism
also would have had its Saint-Merri.
The younger Branch could have
legally carried out Charles X.'s
"Remain where you are, head
of a bureau under Baudoyer," went
on des Lupeaulx. "Have the nerve
to do this; make yourself a true
politician; put ideas and generous
impulses aside; attend only to
your functions; don't say a word
to your new director; don't help
him with a suggestion; and do
nothing yourself without his
order. In three months Baudoyer
will be out of the ministry,
either dismissed, or stranded
on some other administrative
shore. They may attach him to
the king's household. Twice in
my life I have been set aside
as you are, and overwhelmed by
an avalanche of folly; I have
quietly waited and let it pass."
"Yes," said Rabourdin, "but
you were not calumniated; your
honor was not assailed, compromised--"
"Ha, ha, ha!" cried des Lupeaulx,
interrupting him with a burst
of Homeric laughter. "Why, that's
the daily bread of every remarkable
man in this glorious kingdom
of France! And there are but
two ways to meet such calumny,--either
yield to it, pack up, and go
plant cabbages in the country;
or else rise above it, march
on, fearless, and don't turn
"For me, there is but one way
of untying the noose which treachery
and the work of spies have fastened
round my throat," replied Rabourdin. "I
must explain the matter at once
to his Excellency, and if you
are as sincerely attached to
me as you say you are, you will
put me face to face with him
"You mean that
you wish to explain to him
your plan for
the reform of the service?"
trust the papers with me,--your
the documents. I promise you
that he shall sit up all night
and examine them."
"Let us go to him, then!" cried
Rabourdin, eagerly; "six years'
toil certainly deserves two or
three hours attention from the
king's minister, who will be
forced to recognize, if he does
not applaud, such perseverance."
Rabourdin's tenacity to take
a straightforward path,
without ambush or angle where
his treachery could hide itself,
des Lupeaulx hesitated for a
single instant, and looked at
Madame Rabourdin, while he inwardly
asked himself, "Which shall I
permit to triumph, my hatred
for him, or my fancy for her?"
"You have no confidence in
my honor," he said, after a pause. "I
see that you will always be to
me the author of your SECRET
ANALYSIS. Adieu, madame."
Madame Rabourdin bowed coldly.
Celestine and Xavier returned
at once to their own rooms without
a word; both were overcome by
their misfortune. The wife thought
of the dreadful situation in
which she stood toward her husband.
The husband, resolving slowly
not to remain at the ministry
but to send in his resignation
at once, was lost in a sea of
reflections; the crisis for him
meant a total change of life
and the necessity of starting
on a new career. All night he
sat before his fire, taking no
notice of Celestine, who came
in several times on tiptoe, in
"I must go once more to the
ministry, to bring away my papers,
and show Baudoyer the routine
of the business," he said to
himself at last. "I had better
write my resignation now."
He turned to his table and
began to write, thinking over
each clause of the letter, which
was as follows:--
Monseigneur,--I have the honor
to inclose to your Excellency
my resignation. I venture to
hope that you still remember
hearing me say that I left my
honor in your hands, and that
everything, for me, depended
on my being able to give you
an immediate explanation.
This explanation I have vainly
sought to give. To-day it would,
perhaps, be useless; for a fragment
of my work relating to the administration,
stolen and misused, has gone
the rounds of the offices and
is misinterpreted by hatred;
in consequence, I find myself
compelled to resign, under the
tacit condemnation of my superiors.
Your Excellency may have thought,
on the morning when I first sought
to speak with you, that my purpose
was to ask for my promotion,
when, in fact, I was thinking
only of the glory and usefulness
of your ministry and of the public
good. It is all- important, I
think, to correct that impression.
Then followed the usual epistolary
It was half-past seven in the
morning when the man consummated
the sacrifice of his ideas; he
burned everything, the toil of
years. Fatigued by the pressure
of thought, overcome by mental
suffering, he fell asleep with
his head on the back of his armchair.
He was wakened by a curious sensation,
and found his hands covered with
his wife's tears and saw her
kneeling before him. Celestine
had read the resignation. She
could measure the depth of his
fall. They were now to be reduced
to live on four thousand francs
a year; and that day she had
counted up her debts,--they amounted
to something like thirty-two
thousand francs! The most ignoble
of all wretchedness had come
upon them. And that noble man
who had trusted her was ignorant
that she had abused the fortune
he had confided to her care.
She was sobbing at his feet,
beautiful as the Magdalen.
"My cup is full," cried Xavier,
in terror. "I am dishonored at
the ministry, and dishonored--"
The light of her pure honor
flashed from Celestine's eyes;
she sprang up like a startled
horse and cast a fulminating
glance at Rabourdin.
"I! I!" she said, on two sublime
tones. "Am I a base wife? If
I were, you would have been appointed.
But," she added mournfully, "it
is easier to believe that than
to believe what is the truth."
"Then what is it?" said
"All in three words," she said; "I
owe thirty thousand francs."
Rabourdin caught his wife to
his heart with a gesture of almost
frantic joy, and seated her on
"Take comfort, dear," he said,
in a tone of voice so adorably
kind that the bitterness of her
grief was changed to something
inexpressibly tender. "I too
have made mistakes; I have worked
uselessly for my country when
I thought I was being useful
to her. But now I mean to take
another path. If I had sold groceries
we should now be millionaires.
Well, let us be grocers. You
are only twenty-eight, dear angel;
in ten years you shall recover
the luxury that you love, which
we must needs renounce for a
short time. I, too, dear heart,
am not a base or common husband.
We will sell our farm; its value
has increased of late. That and
the sale of our furniture will
pay my debts.
MY debts! Celestine embraced
her husband a thousand times
in the single kiss with which
she thanked him for that generous
"We shall still
have a hundred thousand francs
to put into business.
Before the month is out I shall
find some favorable opening.
If luck gave a Martin Falleix
to a Saillard, why should we
despair? Wait breakfast for me.
I am going now to the ministry,
but I shall come back with my
neck free of the yoke."
Celestine clasped her husband
in her arms with a force men
do not possess, even in their
passionate moments; for women
are stronger through emotion
than men through power. She wept
and laughed and sobbed in turns.
When Rabourdin left the house
at eight o'clock, the porter
gave him the satirical cards
suggested by Bixiou. Nevertheless,
he went to the ministry, where
he found Sebastien waiting near
the door to entreat him not to
enter any of the bureaus, because
an infamous caricature of him
was making the round of the offices.
"If you wish to soften the
pain of my downfall," he said
to the lad, "bring me that drawing;
I am now taking my resignation
to Ernest de la Briere myself,
that it may not be altered or
distorted while passing through
the routine channels. I have
my own reasons for wishing to
see that caricature."
When Rabourdin came back to
the courtyard, after making sure
that his letter would go straight
into the minister's hands, he
found Sebastien in tears, with
a copy of the lithograph, which
the lad reluctantly handed over
"It is very clever," said
Rabourdin, showing a serene
brow to his
companion, though the crown of
thorns was on it all the same.
He entered the bureaus with
a calm air, and went at once
into Baudoyer's section to ask
him to come to the office of
the head of the division and
receive instructions as to the
business which that incapable
being was henceforth to direct.
"Tell Monsieur Baudoyer that
there must be no delay," he added,
in the hearing of all the clerks; "my
resignation is already in the
minister's hands, and I do not
wish to stay here longer than
Seeing Bixiou, Rabourdin went
straight up to him, showed him
the lithograph, and said, to
the great astonishment of all
"Was I not
right in saying you were an
artist? Still, it
is a pity you directed the point
of your pencil against a man
who cannot be judged in this
way, nor indeed by the bureaus
at all;--but everything is laughed
at in France, even God."
Then he took Baudoyer into
the office of the late La Billardiere.
At the door he found Phellion
and Sebastien, the only two who,
under his great disaster, dared
to remain openly faithful to
the fallen man. Rabourdin noticed
that Phellion's eyes were moist,
and he could not refrain from
wringing his hand.
"Monsieur," said the good man, "if
we can serve you in any way,
make use of us."
Monsieur Rabourdin shut himself
up in the late chief's office
with Monsieur Baudoyer, and Phellion
helped him to show the new incumbent
all the administrative difficulties
of his new position. At each
separate affair which Rabourdin
carefully explained, Baudoyer's
little eyes grew big as saucers.
"Farewell, monsieur," said
Rabourdin at last, with a manner
that was half-solemn, half-satirical.
Sebastien meanwhile had made
up a package of papers and letters
belonging to his chief and had
carried them away in a hackney
coach. Rabourdin passed through
the grand courtyard, while all
the clerks were watching from
the windows, and waited there
a moment to see if the minister
would send him any message. His
Excellency was dumb. Phellion
courageously escorted the fallen
man to his home, expressing his
feelings of respectful admiration;
then he returned to the office,
and took up his work, satisfied
with his own conduct in rendering
these funeral honors to the neglected
and misjudged administrative
Phellion re-enter]. "Victrix
cause diis placuit, sed victa
does that mean?"
priests rejoice, and Monsieur
Rabourdin has the
respect of men of honor."
Dutocq [annoyed]. "You
didn't say that yesterday."
Fleury. "If you address me
you'll have my hand in your face.
It is known for certain that
you filched those papers from
Monsieur Rabourdin." [Dutocq
leaves the office.] "Oh, yes,
go and complain to your Monsieur
des Lupeaulx, spy!"
and grimacing like a monkey]. "I am curious
to know how the division will
get along. Monsieur Rabourdin
is so remarkable a man that he
must have had some special views
in that work of his. Well, the
minister loses a fine mind." [Rubs
Laurent [entering]. "Monsieur
Fleury is requested to go to
the secretary's office."
All the clerks. "Done
the room]. "I
don't care; I am offered a place
as responsible editor. I shall
have all my time to myself to
lounge the streets or do amusing
work in a newspaper office."
has already made them cut off
the head of
that poor Desroys."
[entering joyously]. "Gentlemen,
I am appointed head of this bureau."
my friend, if it were I myself,
be better pleased."
Bixiou. "His wife has managed
any one tell me the meaning
of all that is
happening here to-day?"
you really want to know? Then
listen. The antechamber
of the administration is henceforth
a chamber, the court is a boudoir,
the best way to get in is through
the cellar, and the bed is more
than ever a cross-cut."
Bixiou, may I entreat you,
Bixiou. "I'll paraphrase my
opinion. To be anything at all
you must begin by being everything.
It is quite certain that a reform
of this service is needed; for
on my word of honor, the State
robs the poor officials as much
as the officials rob the State
in the matter of hours. But why
is it that we idle as we do?
because they pay us too little;
and the reason of that is we
are too many for the work, and
your late chief, the virtuous
Rabourdin, saw all this plainly.
That great administrator,--for
he was that, gentlemen,--saw
what the thing is coming to,
the thing that these idiots call
the 'working of our admirable
institutions.' The chamber will
want before long to administrate,
and the administrators will want
to legislate. The government
will try to administrate and
the administrators will want
to govern, and so it will go
on. Laws will come to be mere
regulations, and ordinances will
be thought laws. God made this
epoch of the world for those
who like to laugh. I live in
a state of jovial admiration
of the spectacle which the greatest
joker of modern times, Louis
XVIII., bequeathed to us" [general
stupefaction]. "Gentlemen, if
France, the country with the
best civil service in Europe,
is managed thus, what do you
suppose the other nations are
like? Poor unhappy nations! I
ask myself how they can possibly
get along without two Chambers,
without the liberty of the press,
without reports, without circulars
even, without an army of clerks?
Dear, dear, how do you suppose
they have armies and navies?
how can they exist at all without
political discussions? Can they
even be called nations, or governments?
It is said (mere traveller's
tales) that these strange peoples
claim to have a policy, to wield
a certain influence; but that's
absurd! how can they when they
haven't 'progress' or 'new lights'?
They can't stir up ideas, they
haven't an independent forum;
they are still in the twilight
of barbarism. There are no people
in the world but the French people
who have ideas. Can you understand,
Monsieur Poiret," [Poiret jumped
as if he had been shot] "how
a nation can do without heads
of divisions, general-secretaries
and directors, and all this splendid
array of officials, the glory
of France and of the Emperor
Napoleon,--who had his own good
reasons for creating a myriad
of offices? I don't see how those
nations have the audacity to
live at all. There's Austria,
which has less than a hundred
clerks in her war ministry, while
the salaries and pensions of
ours amount to a third of our
whole budget, a thing that was
unheard of before the Revolution.
I sum up all I've been saying
in one single remark, namely,
that the Academy of Inscriptions
and Belles-lettres, which seems
to have very little to do, had
better offer a prize for the
ablest answer to the following
question: Which is the best organized
State; the one that does many
things with few officials, or
the one that does next to nothing
with an army of them?"
that your last word?"
sir! whether English, French,
German or Italian,--I
let you off the other languages."
his hands to heaven]. "Gracious
goodness! and they call you
a witty man!"
you understood me yet?"
last observation was full of
as full as the budget itself,
and like the budget
again, as complicated as it looks
simple; and I set it as a warning,
a beacon, at the edge of this
hole, this gulf, this volcano,
called, in the language of the
'Constitutionel,' 'the political
should much prefer a comprehensible
for Rabourdin! there's my explanation;
my opinion. Are you satisfied?"
Rabourdin had but one defect."
of being a statesman instead
of a subordinate
before Bixiou]. "Monsieur!
why did you, who understand Monsieur
Rabourdin so well, why did you
make that inf--that odi--that
you forget our bet? don't you
know I was backing
the devil's game, and that your
bureau owes me a dinner at the
Rocher de Cancale?"
it is a settled thing that I
am to leave this government office
without ever understanding a
sentence, or a single word uttered
by Monsieur Bixiou."
is your own fault; ask these
have you understood the meaning
of my observations? and were
those observations just, and
the proof is that I shall send
in my resignation.
I shall plunge into industrial
have you managed to invent
a mechanical corset,
or a baby's bottle, or a fire
engine, or chimneys that consume
no fuel, or ovens which cook
cutlets with three sheets of
Minard [departing.] "Adieu,
I shall keep my secret."
young Poiret junior, you see,--all
Poiret [crest-fallen]. "Monsieur
Bixiou, would you do me the honor
to come down for once to my level
and speak in a language I can
at the rest]. "Willingly." [Takes
Poiret by the button of his frock-coat.] "Before
you leave this office forever
perhaps you would be glad to
know what you are--"
Poiret [quickly]. "An
honest man, monsieur."
his shoulders]. "--to
be able to define, explain, and
analyze precisely what a government
clerk is? Do you know what he
think I do."
the button]. "I
is a man paid by government
to do work."
then a soldier is a government
Poiret [puzzled]. "Why,
he is paid by the government
to do work, to
mount guard and show off at reviews.
You may perhaps tell me that
he longs to get out of his place,--that
he works too hard and fingers
too little metal, except that
of his musket."
eyes wide open]. "Monsieur,
a government clerk is, logically
speaking, a man who needs the
salary to maintain himself, and
is not free to get out of his
place; for he doesn't know how
to do anything but copy papers."
Bixiou. "Ah! now we are coming
to a conclusion. So the bureau
is the clerk's shell, husk, pod.
No clerk without a bureau, no
bureau without a clerk. But what
do you make, then, of a customs
officer?" [Poiret shuffles his
feet and tries to edge away;
Bixiou twists off one button
and catches him by another.] "He
is, from the bureaucratic point
of view, a neutral being. The
excise-man is only half a clerk;
he is on the confines between
civil and military service; neither
altogether soldier nor altogether
clerk-- Here, here, where are
you going?" [Twists the button.] "Where
does the government clerk proper
end? That's a serious question.
Is a prefect a clerk?"
Poiret [hesitating]. "He
is a functionary."
you don't mean that a functionary
is not a clerk?
that's an absurdity."
and looking round for escape]. "I
think Monsieur Godard wants
to say something."
clerk is the order, the functionary
Bixiou [laughing]. "I
shouldn't have thought you
capable of that
distinction, my brave subordinate."
to get away]. "Incomprehensible!"
Bixiou. "La, la, papa, don't
step on your tether. If you stand
still and listen, we shall come
to an understanding before long.
Now, here's an axiom which I
bequeath to this bureau and to
all bureaus: Where the clerk
ends, the functionary begins;
where the functionary ends, the
statesman rises. There are very
few statesmen among the prefects.
The prefect is therefore a neutral
being among the higher species.
He comes between the statesman
and the clerk, just as the custom-house
officer stands between the civil
and the military. Let us continue
to clear up these important points." [Poiret
turns crimson with distress.] "Suppose
we formulate the whole matter
in a maxim worthy of Larochefoucault:
Officials with salaries of twenty
thousand francs are not clerks.
From which we may deduce mathematically
this corollary: The statesman
first looms up in the sphere
of higher salaries; and also
this second and not less logical
and important corollary: Directors-general
may be statesmen. Perhaps it
is in that sense that more than
one deputy says in his heart,
'It is a fine thing to be a director-general.'
But in the interests of our noble
French language and of the Academy--"
by the fixity of Bixiou's eye]. "The
French language! the Academy!"
off the second button and seizing
in the interests of our noble
tongue, it is proper to observe
that although the head of a bureau,
strictly speaking, may be called
a clerk, the head of a division
must be called a bureaucrat.
These gentlemen" [turning to
the clerks and privately showing
them the third button off Poiret's
coat] "will appreciate this delicate
shade of meaning. And so, papa
Poiret, don't you see it is clear
that the government clerk comes
to a final end at the head of
a division? Now that question
once settled, there is no longer
any uncertainty; the government
clerk who has hitherto seemed
undefinable is defined."
that appears to me beyond a
do me the kindness to answer
question: A judge being irremovable,
and consequently debarred from
being, according to your subtle
distinction, a functionary, and
receiving a salary which is not
the equivalent of the work he
does, is he to be included in
the class of clerks?"
at the cornice]. "Monsieur,
I don't follow you."
off the fourth button]. "I
wanted to prove to you, monsieur,
that nothing is
simple; but above all--and what
I am going to say is intended
for philosophers--I wish (if
you'll allow me to misquote a
saying of Louis XVIII.),--I wish
to make you see that definitions
lead to muddles."
his forehead]. "Excuse
me, I am sick at my stomach" [tries
to button his coat]. "Ah! you
have cut off all my buttons!"
the point is, DO YOU UNDERSTAND
Poiret [angrily]. "Yes,
monsieur, I do; I understand
that you have
been playing me a shameful trick
and twisting off my buttons while
I have been standing here unconscious
Bixiou [solemnly]. "Old man,
you are mistaken! I wished to
stamp upon your brain the clearest
possible image of constitutional
government" [all the clerks look
at Bixiou; Poiret, stupefied,
gazes at him uneasily], "and
also to keep my word to you.
In so doing I employed the parabolical
method of savages. Listen and
comprehend: While the ministers
start discussions in the Chambers
that are just about as useful
and as conclusive as the one
we are engaged in, the administration
cuts the buttons off the tax-payers."
don't regret my buttons."
Bixiou. "I shall follow Minard's
example; I won't pocket such
a paltry salary as mine any longer;
I shall deprive the government
of my co-operation." [Departs
amid general laughter.]
Another scene was taking place
in the minister's reception-room,
more instructive than the one
we have just related, because
it shows how great ideas are
allowed to perish in the higher
regions of State affairs, and
in what way statesmen console
Des Lupeaulx was presenting
the new director, Monsieur Baudoyer,
to the minister. A number of
persons were assembled in the
salon,--two or three ministerial
deputies, a few men of influence,
and Monsieur Clergeot (whose
division was now merged with
La Billardiere's under Baudoyer's
direction), to whom the minister
was promising an honorable pension.
After a few general remarks,
the great event of the day was
A deputy. "So
you lose Rabourdin?"
Des Lupeaulx. "He
say he wanted to reform the
[looking at the deputies]. "Salaries
are not really in proportion
to the exigencies
of the civil service."
De la Briere. "According
to Monsieur Rabourdin, one
clerks with a salary of twelve
thousand francs would do better
and quicker work than a thousand
clerks at twelve hundred."
he is right."
The Minister. "But
what is to be done? The machine
in that way. Must we take it
to pieces and remake it? No one
would have the courage to attempt
that in face of the Chamber,
and the foolish outcries of the
Opposition, and the fierce denunciations
of the press. It follows that
there will happen, one of these
days, some damaging 'solution
of continuity' between the government
and the administration."
A deputy. "In
The Minister. "In
many ways. A minister will
want to serve
the public good, and will not
be allowed to do so. You will
create interminable delays between
things and their results. You
may perhaps render the theft
of a penny actually impossible,
but you cannot prevent the buying
and selling of influence, the
collusions of self-interest.
The day will come when nothing
will be conceded without secret
stipulations, which may never
see the light. Moreover, the
clerks, one and all, from the
least to the greatest, are acquiring
opinions of their own; they will
soon be no longer the hands of
a brain, the scribes of governmental
thought; the Opposition even
now tends towards giving them
a right to judge the government
and to talk and vote against
a low voice, but meaning to
be heard]. "Monseigneur
is really fine."
Des Lupeaulx. "Of
course bureaucracy has its
defects. I myself think
it slow and insolent; it hampers
ministerial action, stifles projects,
and arrests progress. But, after
all, French administration is
Des Lupeaulx. "If
only to maintain the paper
and stamp industries!
Suppose it is rather fussy and
provoking, like all good housekeepers,
--it can at any moment render
an account of its disbursements.
Where is the merchant who would
not gladly give five per cent
of his entire capital if he could
insure himself against LEAKAGE?"
[a manufacturer]. "The
manufacturing interests of all
nations would joyfully unite
against that evil genius of theirs
Des Lupeaulx. "After all, though
statistics are the childish foible
of modern statesmen, who think
that figures are estimates, we
must cipher to estimate. Figures
are, moreover, the convincing
argument of societies based on
self-interest and money, and
that is the sort of society the
Charter has given us,--in my
opinion, at any rate. Nothing
convinces the 'intelligent masses'
as much as a row of figures.
All things in the long run, say
the statesmen of the Left, resolve
themselves into figures. Well
then, let us figure" [the minister
here goes off into a corner with
a deputy, to whom he talks in
a low voice]. "There are forty
thousand government clerks in
France. The average of their
salaries is fifteen hundred francs.
Multiply forty thousand by fifteen
hundred and you have sixty millions.
Now, in the first place, a publicist
would call the attention of Russia
and China (where all government
officials steal), also that of
Austria, the American republics,
and indeed that of the whole
world, to the fact that for this
price France possesses the most
inquisitorial, fussy, ferreting,
scribbling, paper-blotting, fault-finding
old housekeeper of a civil service
on God's earth. Not a copper
farthing of the nation's money
is spent or hoarded that is not
ordered by a note, proved by
vouchers, produced and re-produced
on balance-sheets, and receipted
for when paid; orders and receipts
are registered on the rolls,
and checked and verified by an
army of men in spectacles. If
there is the slightest mistake
in the form of these precious
documents, the clerk is terrified,
for he lives on such minutiae.
Some nations would be satisfied
to get as far as this; but Napoleon
went further. That great organizer
appointed supreme magistrates
of a court which is absolutely
unique in the world. These officials
pass their days in verifying
money-orders, documents, roles,
registers, lists, permits, custom-house
receipts, payments, taxes received,
taxes spent, etc.; all of which
the clerks write or copy. These
stern judges push the gift of
exactitude, the genius of inquisition,
the sharp- sightedness of lynxes,
the perspicacity of account-books
to the point of going over all
the additions in search of subtractions.
These sublime martyrs to figures
have been known to return to
an army commissary, after a delay
of two years, some account in
which there was an error of two
farthings. This is how and why
it is that the French system
of administration, the purest
and best on the globe has rendered
robbery, as his Excellency has
just told you, next to impossible,
and as for peculation, it is
a myth. France at this present
time possesses a revenue of twelve
hundred millions, and she spends
it. That sum enters her treasury,
and that sum goes out of it.
She handles, therefore, two thousand
four hundred millions, and all
she pays for the labor of those
who do the work is sixty millions,--
two and a half per cent; and
for that she obtains the certainty
that there is no leakage. Our
political and administrative
kitchen costs us sixty millions,
but the gendarmerie, the courts
of law, the galleys and the police
cost just as much, and give no
return. Moreover, we employ a
body of men who could do no other
work. Waste and disorder, if
such there be, can only be legislative;
the Chambers lead to them and
render them legal. Leakage follows
in the form of public works which
are neither urgent nor necessary;
troops re-uniformed and gold-laced
over and over again; vessels
sent on useless cruises; preparations
for war without ever making it;
paying the debts of a State,
and not requiring reimbursement
or insisting on security."
such leakage has nothing to
do with the subordinate
officials; this bad management
of national affairs concerns
the statesmen who guide the ship."
[who has finished his conversation]. "There is
a great deal of truth in what
des Lupeaulx has just said; but
let me tell you" [to Baudoyer], "Monsieur
le directeur, that few men see
from the standpoint of a statesman.
To order expenditure of all kinds,
even useless ones, does not constitute
bad management. Such acts contribute
to the movement of money, the
stagnation of which becomes,
especially in France, dangerous
to the public welfare, by reason
of the miserly and profoundly
illogical habits of the provinces
which hoard their gold."
[who listened to des Lupeaulx]. "But it seems
to me that if your Excellency
was right just now, and if our
clever friend here" [takes Lupeaulx
by the arm] "was not wrong, it
will be difficult to come to
any conclusion on the subject."
[after looking at the minister]. "No
doubt something ought to be
De la Briere
Rabourdin seems to have judged
The Minister. "I
will see Rabourdin."
Des Lupeaulx. "The
poor man made the blunder of
himself supreme judge of the
administration and of all the
officials who compose it; he
wants to do away with the present
state of things, and he demands
that there be only three ministries."
The Minister. "He
must be crazy."
The Deputy. "How
do you represent in three ministries
of all the parties in the Chamber?"
an air that he imagined to
be shrewd]. "Perhaps
Monsieur Rabourdin desired to
change the Constitution, which
we owe to our legislative sovereign."
[thoughtful, takes La Briere's
arm and leads him
into the study]. "I want to see
that work of Rabourdin's, and
as you know about it--"
De la Briere. "He
has burned it. You allowed
him to be dishonored
and he has resigned from the
ministry. Do not think for a
moment, Monseigneur, that Rabourdin
ever had the absurd thought (as
des Lupeaulx tries to make it
believed) to change the admirable
centralization of power."
[to himself]. "I
have made a mistake" [is silent
a moment]. "No matter; we shall
never be lacking in plans for
De la Briere. "It
is not ideas, but men capable
them that we lack."
Des Lupeaulx, that adroit advocate
of abuses came into the minister's
study at this moment.
I start at once for my election."
"Wait a moment," said his Excellency,
leaving the private secretary
and taking des Lupeaulx by the
arm into the recess of a window. "My
dear friend, let me have that
arrondissement,--if you will,
you shall be made count and I
will pay your debts. Later, if
I remain in the ministry after
the new Chamber is elected, I
will find a way to send in your
name in a batch for the peerage."
"You are a
man of honor, and I accept."
This is how
it came to pass that Clement
Chardin des Lupeaulx,
whose father was ennobled under
Louis XV., and who beareth quarterly,
first, argent, a wolf ravisant
carrying a lamb gules; second,
purpure, three mascles argent,
two and one; third, paly of twelve,
gules and argent; fourth, or,
on a pale endorsed, three batons
fleurdelises gules; supported
by four griffon's-claws jessant
from the sides of the escutcheon,
with the motto "En Lupus in Historia," was
able to surmount these rather
satirical arms with a count's
Towards the close of the year
1830 Monsieur Rabourdin did some
business on hand which required
him to visit the old ministry,
where the bureaus had all been
in great commotion, owing to
a general removal of officials,
from the highest to the lowest.
This revolution bore heaviest,
in point of fact, upon the lackeys,
who are not fond of seeing new
faces. Rabourdin had come early,
knowing all the ways of the place,
and he thus chanced to overhear
a dialogue between the two nephews
of old Antoine, who had recently
retired on a pension.
how is your chief of division
talk to me about him; I can't
do anything with
him. He rings me up to ask if
I have seen his handkerchief
or his snuff-box. He receives
people without making them wait;
in short, he hasn't a bit of
dignity. I'm often obliged to
say to him: But, monsieur, monsieur
le comte your predecessor, for
the credit of the thing, used
to punch holes with his penknife
in the arms of his chair to make
believe he was working. And he
makes such a mess of his room.
I find everything topsy-turvy.
He has a very small mind. How
about your man?"
I have succeeded in training
him. He knows exactly
where his letter-paper and envelopes,
his wood, and his boxes and all
the rest of his things are. The
other man used to swear at me,
but this one is as meek as a
lamb,--still, he hasn't the grand
style! Moreover, he isn't decorated,
and I don't like to serve a chief
who isn't; he might be taken
for one of us, and that's humiliating.
He carries the office letter-paper
home, and asked me if I couldn't
go there and wait at table when
there was company."
a government, my dear fellow!"
everybody plays low in these
"I hope they
won't cut down our poor wages."
they will. The Chambers are
prying into everything.
Why, they even count the sticks
"Well, it can't
last long if they go on that
caught! somebody is listening."
"Hey! it is
the late Monsieur Rabourdin.
Ah, monsieur, I knew
your step. If you have business
to transact here I am afraid
you will not find any one who
is aware of the respect that
ought to be paid to you; Laurent
and I are the only persons remaining
about the place who were here
in your day. Messieurs Colleville
and Baudoyer didn't wear out
the morocco of the chairs after
you left. Heavens, no! six months
later they were made Collectors
* * * * *
Note.--Anagrams cannot, of
course, be translated; that is
why three English ones have been
substituted for some in French.