August 2, 1789: Rivarol on the Meaning of July 14
Antoine de Rivarol, in his mid-thirties at the outbreak of the revolution, had made a brilliant conquest of Parisian society as a very young man by virtue of his extraordinary wit and intelligence. If much of his talent was expended in conversation, Rivarol nevertheless won a prize of the Berlin Academy in 1784, and praise from Frederick the Great, for his essay on the universality of the French language; and works such as his irreverent treatment of the literary figures of the day in his Petit Almanach de nos grands hommes (1788) won him much notoriety. Without having given any advance notice of political interests or social conscience, Rivarol became in 1789 an excellent journalist, at first a contributor to and then the principal author of the Journal politique-national, which appeared three times a week in 1789 and 1790. Rivarol’s views were conservative, and he was forced to emigrate in 1792, to continue his sporadic but intelligent critiques of the revolution, together with a few promising but unfinished literary projects, until his death in Berlin in 1801. The following is from one of his résumés of events, published in the Journal politique-national No. 10. Dimanche 2 août 1789. It is a commentary on June 23, July 14, and the peasant jacquerie that was at that moment irreversibly revolutionizing the countryside.
KeywordsParisian Society French Language Advance Notice Executive Power Legislative Power
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