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arbitrary schemes of a court faction headed by the Chap. queen,, and on the other the projectsof popular leaders, y y" - / tome of which were of a dangerous tendency. In the perplexed situation to which the kingdom had been reduced, when to impose new taxes appeared impossible, to continue the mode of borrowing wa* to run swiftly into ruin, and to have recourse to ^economical reforms alone seemed altogether insufficient to remedy the evil, Calonne, the comptrollergeneral of the finances, conceived the patriotic and sublime scheme of augmenting the revenue by a new modification of the taxes, particularly by an equalization of the land-tax, extended to all denomina tions, nobility and clergy as well as commons. For this purpose was convened, in the February of 1787, an assembly of notables, men of distinction, convoked from all parts of the kingdom, but selected chiefly from the higher orders, and nominated by the king. Of this assembly, considered as in some degree representative of the nation, and intended to sanction by its authority the hew financial scheme, the members, more anxious for their several privileges than for the public prosperity, objected with acrimony against the minister's views, whom they hated for hi* attack on their privileges, and at length separated on the twenty-fifth of May, leaving the government still more embarrassed than it had been before.
Calonne was disgraced, and succeeded by the archbishop of Tolouse, much inferior in understanding, perhaps also in honesty, aud utterly unable to mainfain a contest with the parliament*, whk-h in France
were courts of judicature, where, to receive the formal stamp of law, the edicts of the king were registered. So determinate and strenuous was the opposition of these courts, seconded by the general spirit of the nation, which was falling fast into a state of anarchy and insurrection, that the king at length found himself necessitated to declare in favour of a convocation of the states general, a measure suggested by the notables, and demanded by the parliaments. On the fifth of May 1789, was convened, at Versailles, amid a tumult of joy and anxiety, this famous assembly, which had not been held since the year 1614. In the election of members from the nobility, clergy, and commons, the deputies of the third had been made equal in number to those of the two former orders taken together; but whether the deputies of the three orders were to form indiscriminately one assembly, or three separate chambers, each of which should have a negative on the resolutions of the other two, was a question undecided, As the former mode alone could give preponderance to the commons, that body determined to admit no other, and, styling themselves the National Assembly, accomplish-* ed their purpose through the misconduct of the regal faction, who irritated them by wanton insult into desperate resolution, and afterwards yielded to the fury of a torrent which they had so unwisely augmented.
Alarmed by indications of a design to dissolve the
assembly and coerce the nation by military force, the
citizens oi Paris rose in a tumult, and, joined by
% deserters. deserters from the royal guards, drove the foreign Chap. troops from the city, and stormed the formidable K^-^s fortress and state prison termed the Bastile. These dreadfully decisive operations, in the July of 1789, caused the flight of the queen's party, and established the power of the national assembly beyond the danger of any force which its enemies could raise within the French territories. In the followingOctober, to allay the discontents occasioned by rumours of his intended flight for purposes hostile to the nascent liberties of his people, the king, whose life was endangered by a numerous mob from Paris, transferred his residence from Versailles to the capital, where also the national assembly thenceforth fixed their session. Under the same impression of mind he gave his formal assent to the new constitution, a limited monarchy, in which, like the British monarch, he was allowed a negative on all resolutions which should be decreed by the national representatives. But all confidence between the king and his subjects was finally destroyed by his abortive attempt, in the June of 1791, to escape with his family to the Netherlands, where waited for him a formidable force of Austrian troops and French fugitives, ready to enter France in hostile array for the abolition of the new political system. On the thirtieth of the next September the first national assembly, denominated, on account of its having framed the new constitution, the constituent assembly, was dissolved by its own decree, to make room for a newly constituted body, in which no members
of the former were admitted. The rule of exclusion 'was unfortunate, as the second assembly, composed, in a considerable proportion, of democrats, was much inferior in wisdom and dignity to the first,
A levelling principle was carried to an extreme by this legislative body, while the flame of demo-* cracy and disaffection to the sovereign was diffused on all sides by the jacobin club, so called from their place of meeting, a building which had been a. convent of jacobin monks. The disaffection was greatly augmented by the king's refusal to sanctionthe decrees against refractory priests, who, by preach-* ing, and emigrants who, by intrigues, were fomenting resistance to the new government. Not-, withstanding all this, a powerful majority of the French, attached to the plan of limited monarchy, and anxious for the preservation of order, adhered to the monarch, and would have maintained lum ©n the throne, if the operations of foreign poten-* tates had not completed his destruction. At Pilnifcg in Saxony, in the August of 1791, was formed a private league by the emperor of Germany and the king of Prussia, with the concurrence of other courts, for a formidable invasion, and at least partial conquest, of the French territories, and probably, beside other objects, for the extinction of all republicanism, and of all limitation of regal power, in every part of Europe. According to this convention, the duke of Brunswick, at the head of % vast army of Austrians, Prussians, and French emigrants, entered France with a design of penetrating directly to Paris, having, on the twenty-fifth of*
July 1792, issued a proclamation, which might seem c H Ai». calculated for the ruin of the king of France, as itv^y^y clearly intimated a league between him and the invading force for the overwhelming of all his opponents, and left no tmddle course to the French nation between unlimited subjection and desperate resistance to the king and his foreign associates. The unfortunate sovereign, foreseeing the consequence of such proceedings, had in vain besought the allied moUarchs to adopt a different plan. In the perturbed state, to which the kingdom Mas thus reduced, the constitutionalists, the friends of limited monarchy, the wisest and most powerful party in the nation, found themselves obliged, rather than concur with foreign troops for the extinction of liberty, to accede to the republicans, who thus at length obtained a decided preponderance.
Power in such hands remained not unexerted. By the national assembly was decreed, on the tenth of August, its own dissolution, the suspension of regal authority, and the convocation of a new assembly, which, elected in the same manner, should, under the title Of convention, be vested with the whole collective authority of the French nation. This new Sovereign body, which met on the twentieth of September, immediately proceeded to the total abolition of monarchy, to declare the state a commonwealth, and to institute an accusation of treason to his people against the unfortunate monarch, who, on the twenty-first of the following January 1793, was beheaded by the guillotine. The prime iusti