"Life’s going to change. You thought it already had? Not nearly as much as it’s going to change now.
Everything you disapprove of you’ll call “aristocratic.” This term can be applied to food, to books and plays, to modes of speech, to hairstyles and to such venerable institutions as prostitution and the Roman Catholic Church.
If “Liberty” was the watchword of the first Revolution, “Equality” is that of the second. “Fraternity” is a less assertive quality, and must creep in where it may.
All persons are now plain “Citizen” or “Citizeness.” The Place Louis XV will become the Place de la Revolution, and the scientific beheading machine will be set up there; it will become known as the “guillotine,” in tribute to Dr. Guillotin the noted public-health expert. The rue Monsieur-de-Prince will become the rue Liberté, the Place de la Croix- Rouge will become the Place de la Bonnet- Rouge. Notre Dame will become the Temple of Reason. Bourg-la-Reine will become Bourg-la-République. And in the fullness of time, the rue des Cordeliers will become the rue Marat.
Divorce will be very easy.
For a time, Annette Duplessis will continue to walk in the Luxembourg Gardens. A cannon factory will be set up there; the patriotic din and stench will be beyond belief, and the patriotic waste products will be tipped into the Seine. The Luxembourg Section will become the Section Mutius Scaevola. The Romans are very fashionable. So are the Spartans. The Athenians less so.
In at least one provincial town, Beaumarchais’s Marriage of Figaro will be banned, just as the King once banned it. It depicts a style of life now outlawed; also, it requires the wearing of aristocratic costumes.
“Sansculottes,” the working men call themselves, because they wear trousers not breeches. With them, a calico waistcoat with broad tricolor stripes: a hip-length jacket of coarse wool, called a carmagnole. On the sansculotte head, the red bonnet, the “cap of liberty.” Why liberty is thought to require headgear is a mystery.
For the rich and powerful, the aim is to be accepted as sansculotte in spirit, without assuming the ridiculous uniform. But only Robespierre and a handful of others keep hope alive for the unemployed hairdressers of France. Many members of the new Convention will wear their hair brushed forward and cut straight across their foreheads, like the statues of heroes of antiquity. Riding boots are worn on all occasions, even at harp recitals. Gentlemen have the air of being ready to run down a Prussian column after dinner, any day of the week.
Cravats grow higher, as if they mean to protect the throat. The highest cravats in public life will be worn by Citizen Antoine Saint-Just, of the National Convention and the Committee of Public Safety. In the dark and harrowing days of ’94, an obscene feminine inversion will appear: a thin crimson ribbon, worn round a bare white neck.
There will be economic controls, price maximums imposed by the government. There will be coffee riots and sugar riots. One month there will be no firewood, then it will be no soap, or no candles. The black market will be a flourishing but desperate business, with the death penalty for hoarders and traffickers.
There will be persistent rumors about cidevant lords and ladies, returned émigrés. Someone has seen a marquis working as a bootblack, his wife taking in sewing. A duke is employed as a footman in his own house, which now belongs to a Jewish banker. Some people like to think these things are true.
In the National Assembly there were deplorable occasions when overwrought gentlemen placed hands on rapier hilts. In the Convention and the Jacobin Club, fist and knife fights will be quite common. Dueling will be replaced by assassination.
For the rich—the new rich, that is—it is possible to live as well as one would have liked to under the old regime. Camille Desmoulins, in semi-private conversation at the Jacobins, one evening in ’93: “I don’t know why people complain about not being able to make money nowadays. I have no trouble.”
Churches will be despoiled, statues disfigured. Stone-eyed saints raise stumps of fingers in truncated benediction. If you want to save a statue of the Virgin, you put a red cap on her head and turn her into a Goddess of Liberty. And that’s the way all the virgins save themselves; who wants these ferocious political women?
Because of the changes in the street names, it will become impossible to direct people around the city. The calendar will be changed too; January is abolished, good-bye to aristocratic June. People will ask each other, “What’s today in real days?”
’92, ’93 ’94. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity or Death.”
So I’ve watched the DVD of “Les Miserables - the Musical” from 2010, mainly because of Matt Lucas from “Little Britain” but I’ve liked it well enough overall…
Except for the Jonas Brother.
Is that really the best they could get for their big event?
In the end I’ve got to a point I wanted Valjean to say “Merde on that! I am not saving this one, he’s awfully annoying. Dying a hero has yet to hurt anyone, just ask Trumpeldor”.