The French Revolution Seen by a Schoolboy

The observations of Edmond Geraud, a schoolboy pursuing his studies in Paris, throw fresh light on the stormiest years of the French Revolution.

There is no such thing as “a revolution.” It is always this revolution or that, arising out of the special circumstances of an age, a people, a state, and following a pattern appropriate to those circumstances and impossible in any others. The impulse behind the revolutions of 1848 was the same everywhere, but the forms it assumed varied from one country to another. The French Revolution of 1789 bore a greater resemblance to the Parisian revolutions of 1830, 1848, and 1871 than to any revolutionary upheaval in England, South America, or Russia. It is therefore misleading to approach it with ready-made generalizations about the origins or the course of revolutionary movements. It must be studied from the evidence of what actually happened in Paris and France during the years following 1789. How far back one need go to discover its origins is a matter of opinion: how far forward to reach its results is a matter of choice; for they are still working themselves out.

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