A bourgeois man on the October Days (1789)

On October 7th 1789 a bourgeois Parisian wrote the following letter about the mistreatment given to his son, a member of the clergy:

“Paris, October 7th 1789


I am the father of six children: four boys and two girls. The two older boys wear the national uniform.

On Monday they set out for Versailles, leaving me at home with my fears. Yesterday evening the joy of seeing them return in good health reunited my family, and we set about preparing a pleasant meal; the only one missing was my son who is an abbe and who usually comes home very early. We all love him dearly because he is kind, learned, and good company. His mother and his two sisters were extremely alarmed.

When at last he arrived home at half past nine, his face was covered with blood and mud, his clothing in shreds. He had wanted to see the king pass by. But just because he was an abbe he had to suffer in silence the most disgusting jeers and insults, for more than two hours – and in full view of the National Guard. After this he was pursued by a crowd of madmen who beat him up. All! If this is freedom, let us be returned to despotism, with its spies and its soldiers… at least they will guarantee our safety.”