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.