Fourth Tableau

The Agitation.

Jacques Bonhomme. Parisians, let us demand the reform of the octroi;

let it be put back to what it was. Let every citizen be FREE to buy

wood, butter and meat where it seems good to him.

The People. Hurrah for LIBERTY!

Pierre. Parisians, do not allow yourselves to be seduced by these

words. Of what avail is the freedom of purchasing, if you have not the

/> means? and how can you have the means, if labor is wanting? Can Paris

produce wood as cheaply as the forest of Bondy, or meat at as low price

as Poitou, or butter as easily as Normandy? If you open the doors to

these rival products, what will become of the wood cutters, pork

dealers, and cattle drivers? They cannot do without protection.

The People.. Hurrah for PROTECTION!

Jacques. Protection! But do they protect you, workmen? Do not you

compete with one another? Let the wood dealers then suffer competition

in their turn. They have no right to raise the price of their wood by

law, unless they, also, by law, raise wages. Do you not still love


The People. Hurrah for EQUALITY!

Pierre. Do not listen to this factious fellow. We have raised the

price of wood, meat, and butter, it is true; but it is in order that we

may give good wages to the workmen. We are moved by charity.

The People. Hurrah for CHARITY!

Jacques. Use the octroi, if you can, to raise wages, or do not use

it to raise the price of commodities. The Parisians do not ask for

charity, but justice.

The People. Hurrah for JUSTICE!

Pierre. It is precisely the dearness of products which will, by reflex

action, raise wages.

The People. Hurrah for DEARNESS!

Jacques. If butter is dear, it is not because you pay workmen well; it

is not even that you may make great profits; it is only because Paris is

ill situated for this business, and because you desired that they

should do in the city what ought to be done in the country, and in the

country what was done in the city. The people have no more labor, only

they labor at something else. They get no more wages, but they do not

buy things as cheaply.

The People. Hurrah for CHEAPNESS!

Pierre. This person seduces you with his fine words. Let us state the

question plainly. Is it not true that if we admit butter, wood, and

meat, we shall be inundated with them, and die of a plethora? There is,

then, no other way in which we can preserve ourselves from this new

inundation, than to shut the door, and we can keep up the price of

things only by causing scarcity artificially.

A Very Few Voices. Hurrah for SCARCITY!

Jacques. Let us state the question as it is. Among all the Parisians

we can divide only what is in Paris; the less wood, butter and meat

there is, the smaller each one's share will be. There will be less if we

exclude than if we admit. Parisians, individual abundance can exist only

where there is general abundance.

The People. Hurrah for ABUNDANCE!

Pierre. No matter what this man says, he cannot prove to you that it

is to your interest to submit to unbridled competition.

The People. Down with COMPETITION!

Jacques. Despite all this man's declamation, he cannot make you

enjoy the sweets of restriction.

The People. Down with RESTRICTION!

Pierre. I declare to you that if the poor dealers in cattle and hogs

are deprived of their livelihood, if they are sacrificed to theories, I

will not be answerable for public order. Workmen, distrust this man. He

is an agent of perfidious Normandy; he is under the pay of foreigners.

He is a traitor, and must be hanged. [The people keep silent.]

Jacques. Parisians, all that I say now, I said to you twenty years

ago, when it occurred to Pierre to use the octroi for his gain and

your loss. I am not an agent of Normandy. Hang me if you will, but this

will not prevent oppression from being oppression. Friends, you must

kill neither Jacques nor Pierre, but liberty if it frightens you, or

restriction if it hurts you.

The People. Let us hang nobody, but let us emancipate everybody.