Cahier of 1789,
Editors Introduction

Merrick Whitcombe, ed.
"Typical Cahiers of 1789" in Translations and
Reprints From The Original Sources of European History
Dept. of History, Univ. of Pennsylvania, 1898) vol. 4, no. 5, pp. 24-36.

Hanover Historical Texts Project
Scanned by Aaron Gulyas, 1997.
Proofread by Matilda Davis, 1997.
Proofread and pages added by Jonathan Perry, March 2001.

It has been the effort of the editor to present, as nearly as possible, a complete cahier of each of the three orders. It is in the study of a single cahier that the trend of prerevolutionary thought and aspiration may best be recognized. From this as a starting point the student may proceed to acquaint himself with the variations of criticism and suggestion afforded by a comparison of many cahiers. Something of this kind has already been done by Mr. E. J. Lowell, in his Eve of the French Revolution, chapters XXI. and XXII.

In selecting typical cahiers for presentation, an effort has been made to avoid the cahiers of localities whose conditions were exceptional. Such cahiers are for the most part filled with grievances and demands of a purely local nature. For this and other reasons two cahiers of Blois have been selected. The cahier of the Third Estate of Blois, however, was rejected. This document has shared a fate common to many of the cahiers of the Third Estate. The local cahiers of the smaller political divisions of the balliage of Blois have fallen into the hands of lawyers, who have assembled and combined them with an eye single to their own desires and interests, reducing all other considerations to the simplest terms. The cahier of Versailles seems to have been somewhat more fortunate.

The cahiers of the Nobility are the most interesting. They are original compositions, drawn up by men of the highest intelligence and patriotism, men not devoid of sympathy with the intellectual movements of their time, and thoroughly alive to the necessity of reorganization. The Clergy were less susceptible to the influences of the time, and their cahiers are more self-conscious. The method of assembling the local cahiers of the Third Estate resulted in a loss of vigor and personality. The ingenuousness and local coloring, which gire the original cabiers an exceptional Interest, are lost in the necessary process of condensation.

In the following text a French word here and there has been retained, mainly for the reason that no brief English equivalent has suggested itself. These term may be found explained for the most part In Mr. Lowell's book, cited above; and for a wider discussion the student may consult Cheruel: Dictionnaire historique des institutions moeures et contumes de la France, or to better purpose, La Grande Encyclopedie.

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