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taining the most virulent invectives, and ac- | lieve the difficulty of the moment. Some, cusing the King of prodigality and despo negotiations had evidently taken place with tism, some of the most essential parts of the parliament of Paris, for upon a sort of which they must have known to be false, petition from them, and their agreeing to that the deficiency was chiefly brought on register an edici postponing the new taxes. since the peace by the profusion of the court. for two years, they were recalled; when he A small part of the debt had been occasion likewise announced loans for four years to ed by the negligence and profusion of ihe come, to cover the deficiency of the financourt and the prioces, but the far greater ces, with a strong insinuation almost part of it bad evidently been contracted in amounting to a declaration that the statesthe national service. These libels being general would be held at the end of that pecirculated with impunity, were highly dan riod. This was a weak compromise for ihe gerous and intiammatory, for they shewed past, and, if he had been led to believe that the people that after setting the power of the parliament had agreed to carry thiş arthe crown at defiance, il might be treated rangement into execution, he was completewith abuse and contempt. It is from that ly overreached : or, if he took for granted period that that fermentation may be dated, that they were to agree to it, he as much dewhich afterwards terminaled in the French ceived himself. For, in a few days after revolution. The same dissatisfaction with they had again assembled, the King ordered the court had likewise continued in the the registration of a loan; they entered into higher ranks; the peers and sometimes the a long debate upon it jo his presence, during princes of the blood, had attended at the most which, he likewise ordered the registration, violent of the parliamentary sessions, the of an edict in favour of the Protestants As former had served upon parliamentary com. soon as the King had retired, the parliament mitres, and supported iheir reports. In as before, declared the negotiation null; ou such a state of public affairs, a favourable which two of the most refractory members, issue was not to be expected without an ad were arrested ; the Duke of Orleans who. ministration of great weight and ability; had protested beforehand against the expectbut, since the meeting of the notables there ed proceedings of the day was exiled, and had been repeated changes in the ministry, the princes and peers were desired val to as. during the last iroubles hardly a werk had sist at the meetings. The peers reluctantly. passed without a resignation, almost every obeyed, but the parliament iben refusing to man of rank, consequence, and connexion proceed in the edici respecting the Protes-, had retired; and, at last, The Archbishop of tants, the King in a few days allowed the Thoulouse was appointed prime minister. It peers to return; the first ase they made of. was evident that the disorders of the state that condescension was to join in an applicawere such as to require a radical cure. Such tion for the recall of the Duke of Orleans, in 100 was the temper of the nation, that it which the King after giving a refusal, so far must have been bazardous for any ministry acquiesced, as to permit him to come to the to have made use of strong measures inme.. neighbourhood of Paris. The parliament diately, and the minister might by that time had already made some slight attempts 10. have been satisfied, that without them no act in a legislative capacity, by proposing al. thing was 10 be expected from the parlia. | terations in laws, but when they came to ments. Ifihe state was to be saved, subor take the edict in favour of the Protestants d nation must be restored, and activity in into consideration, they appointed a comfused into the adıninistration : it was per mittee, of which the peers made a part, ta, haps, nccessary to find means to enable go examine and report upon it. It was at last vernment to go on independent of the par registered, but they likewise voted an arrêt liaments long enough for that purpose to be in respect to lettres de cacbet, wbich bere a effected. By a few retrenchiments which strong resemblance to a law, would have effected only the amusements of During the whole of the e disputes with the court, by changing that part of the na. the parliaments, the manner jo wbich they tional debt which was upon temporary or were conducted was highly injurious to the life-rent annuities into perpetual funds, and royal authority: the King had almost upiby improving the customs (a part of the formly told the parliaments at every step, French finances entirely neglected) with that he was firmly resolved 10 be obeyed; very small loans that object might probably and, as certainly upon their adhering steahave been attained. But, imperious as the dily to the purpose he had yielded. Nor circumstances were, the views of the minis was the language in which bis insercourse ter seem not to have extended further than with them was expressed less dangerous palliatives, procrastination, or merely to re instead of that simple, dignified, and concise
stile which every government ought to pre- he could gain the object he had in view by serve with the subject, he entered into argu forbearance, and granting every other dements about their submission. No govern mand. When the minds of men are un. ment can be too careful to shew that the hinged, if the government cannot withdraw motives by which it is actuated are pure, but their attention from dangerous novelties, that government which trusts to argument they at least should not direct it that way, instead of authority for obedience, is travel and if they cannot prevent, they should not ling fast to its own destruction. While countenance new assemblies of the people, these transactions had taken place with the for there can be few such that will not be a parliament of Paris, the provincial parlia- focus of $edition. The minister on the conmen's had, if possible, exceeded them in trarz, kept their expectations constantly alivo violence. Some of them had registered the with the prospect of the states-general, and edicts for the provincial assemblies, others readily agreed to renew the ancient states of refused; some reprobated the compromise most of the provinces. Tumults were to be on the part of the parliament of Paris, some expected, and there could be but one way bad submitted in part, some were in open for the government to act in regard to them; hostility to the administration, and some were to avoid giving cause for them as much as exiled.
possible, but when they did happen to en It was suspected very soon after the last force the laws of every civilized society, and tesistance of the parliament, and the arrest punish the authors of a breach of ihe peace. of the members, that the minister bad some A tumult took place at Grenoble, in which changes in contemplation; the suspicion the military force retired before ihe popaproved to be well founded, a few months lace, the leaders were left unpunished; his produced the cour plenière. It was evidenta was followed by an anomalons meeting of ly intended as an imitation of the change in the noblesse and tiers etat 10 the number of the courts by Mons. Maupoux, but it was about five hundred, after which, Dauphiny the imitation of a man of ability by an ig. was quiet. In Brittany there were norant pretender. Mons. Maupoux, before disturbances in which the army and the po. proceeding to the execution of bis plan, had pulace had nearly come to blows; there they been indefatigable in securing by promises, remained unpunished, and there the same persuasions, and bribes, a sufficient number consequences followed. On another tumult of the robe; he brought the new courts into happening soon after in Navarre, tho immediate activity, and removed the parlia- King at once gave up the cause and dismiss. ments from any competition with them. ed bis minister, although the greatest part of The minister, although the state of the king. the kingdom still remained undisturbed. He dom required infinitely greater preparation, immediately resolved to recall the parliatook no precaution to engage the men of the ments, and assemble the states-general. It law, he left the parliaments in existence, is much doubted, if the states-general was and their powers ondefined. lo critical si. ever properly a legislative body; they had tuations, it is to be doubted, if even want of been repeatedly summoned to sanction laws judgment be more fatal than want of firm prepared by the crown, and had sometimes ness. There was no necessity for proceed- presented peritions or remonstrances, but ing to such lengths so rashly, for superficial | rarely had any business originated with them. as had been the object and the means of the They had not met for dear two centuries, minister, the loan contrary to expectation and so little was clearly ascertained, that all had been filled, notwithstanding the oppo ilie antiquaries of France had already been sition of the parliament, which made him encouraged to collect information concernindependent of them for a year, and nighting them. Bot, whatever they had been in have made him so for a much longer time. times past, they were now loudly called for Prematutely however, as this crisis had been as an assembly that was to regenerare the brought on, and injudiciously as it had been state. The people had already been taught conducted, it is not impossible, but it might to treat the crown with contenipt, they were have been so far successful as to have made now led to look for the avihority of govern. the parliaments more tractable if it had been ment in other hands. Among the evils repursued with perseverance. In a short sulting from the disorder of the finances, one time judges had been found for the inferior of the greatest was, that the minister of that courts, in several parts of the kingdom, they department had begun to be esteemed the had begun to administer justice, and others principal member of the cabinet, by which Were following their example. Concession means the administration had been in a great änd condescension only add to presump measure committed to bankers, lawyers, and tion ; yet the minister seemed to think that priests. Now, at one of the most critical
periods that the kingdoon had ever seen, blesse offered themselves for representations which demanded an administration of the of !he tiers elat, it was to be expected from first influence aud ability, ihe fate of France, their interest and connexions, that many and, it is to be feared, of more th in France, them would have been elecred, and excluded was intrusted to a 101307 who had not a ra; a great part of the most violent of their tional political conception beyond the trea members. The noblesse, however, except sory, and whose passion was popular ap a few who were aitacbed to the popular opiplause ; ihe latter, which ought to have been vions herded together, with that apathy and an insuperable objection to him in the sta:e inaction which must make any description the nation then was, was that which brought of men or any nation, fall before an active hi o back to office. The notables were again enemy, that will vigour and exertion they called to consider of the form in which the mighi bave easily resisled. But, if no other states-general should be constitgted. A dif. means were to be made use of for tempering ference of opinion still appeared; one of the llie heat of the liers etat, it became the duty chambers presided by the first prince of the of the crown, and every person altached 10 blood, was of opinion, that the representa: order and good goveroment, to endeavour to tives of the tiers etat should be equal to those mike the choice fall upon men of discerno of the other two orders; but the other cham ment and moderate principles; but, such, bers decided that the members of cach of was the philosophical spirit of the minister, the three should be equal. While this ques. that he thought the elections could not be tion was in agitation, the effect of impunity left too fire, by which means they were in those provinces where the troubles baú abandoned to the populace, who returned a taken place was strongly shown. In Dau great part of the representatives of the tiers phiny the states met with a representation of elat of the retainers of the law, infamed the tiers etat equal to both the others, and with all the fury of the parliaments, most of did not conceal their iotention of claiıning a the rest were physicians and literary men, legislative power. In Brittany the tiers etat whose heads were filled with Utopian met by themselves, and with a list of griev- | schemes bred in the closet. Most of the ances and innovations, demanded that they electors drew up instructions for their represhould have a double representation. The sentatives : those of the tiers etat in general noblesse at last were alarmed. The Prince contained a variety of projects relating to of Conti presered a note almost prophetic the administration and civil liberty, some to the united commissioners of ile chambers included changes in the government itself; of the notables, representing the danger of but, the tiers elnt of Paris exceeded all the the monarchy, and the alarming state of the rest, for they appointed separate committees nation: the note was transmitted to the for the constitution, and all the principal King, but it was so little congenial to the branches of administration. When the sentiments of his minister, that it was or states general met, the King in bis speech at dered not to be taken into consideration, the opening of the session called upon them However, upon a division of the whole no to restore order and tranquillity in the king. tables, an equal representation of each of the dom, which amounted to a declaration that orders was carried by a great majority. So government bad escaped from his hands. determined, however, was the minister in The speech of the keeper of the seals, wbich his owo projects, that he resolved to give the the King said was to explain bis intentions, tiers etat a representation equal to both the was an invitation to them to new model the other orders, and so infatuated was the King state, but, at the same time contained an as 10 perinit it. From the form that had insinuation, that it was expected they would been adopted, and still more from the state confine themselves to the liberty of the of the public mind, the elections became of press, the finances, and lettres de cacbet, the first importance. Had the noblesse been The speech or rather dissertation of Mr. united and active, it is probable they might Necker, exclusive of the finances, wbich oc. have prevented the dangerous effects of the cupy a great part of it, was a sentimental numbers of the tiers etat, and, perhaps, have homily, in which, through the whining and entirely changed the spirit of that part of academic phrases in which it is composed, the states-general. A question had arisen may be discovered that that apostle of thc whether the order of noblesse, as forming revolution had made the representatives of part of the states-general, should not be con the tiers etat equal to those of both the other tined to those hoiding fiets; had they ad orders, that he might by their means iosure titled tbis principle, it would have given the innovations that he intended, that in re. that order some distant resemblance to our gard to their voting by orders or by numHouse of Peers, and had the rest of the no bers, he thought he could play them one
against the other as he pleased; and that he might have warned them so far at least, as fancied that while he made them his pup. to have kept the voblesse distinct, to balance pets to new model the government at his them, and to have prerented any conces. pleasure, he could reserve such a share of sions on the part of ibat order, till it was power to the crown, and no more than he in known how far the commons would go. But his wisdom thought proper. The liers etat the noblesse were allowed to depart from were not deficient in the part he had as their former resolutions, and accede to the signed them. From the first they assumed mode proposed by the King's commissioners, a superiority over the other orders, and de although the commons had created it with manded that they should come to them to utter contempi. In a few days after the try their powers or returns of election in tiers etat declared themselves the national coinpon. The 'thing was in itself of very assembly, annulled all the taxes, but re-estaJittle consequence, if it had not become so blished them provisionally till the end of the from being considered by'all parties what it session, or till they should be granted by the really was, a trial whether the states should consent of the King and the nation. The vote by orders or by numbers. If the pub. decrees of ihose two days having been moved lic affairs had been in the hands of a man of by the Abbé Sieyès, has induced a belief discernment and sound principles, he could that the riots elut were at ibat time led by not have wished for a better preliminary the speculative members; but, the fact was, means of judging of the temper of the dif that decrees had been suggested, and even ferent orders, and discovering how to act in motions partly to the sanie etfect made, long regard to them. The tiers elat would not before by the members from Dauphiny, proceed 10 any business unless the other or which was the first field of sedition ; but the ders complied with their demands; at last assembly not being then sufficiently precommissioners were appointed by the three pared for so bold a procedure they fell loihe orders to endeavour to settle the point; but, ground. The monarchy was overthrown by as the tiers etat or the cominons, as they then practical politicians, educated by the parliastiled themselves, would abaie nothing of ments and bred in the popular disturbances, their pretensions the meeting was fruitless. nor was much attention paid to the lucuThe next day the commons sent a message brations of the metaphysicians, till afier the to the clergy, requesting them to join them, revolution was completed. By annolling which occasioned long and warm debates in the imposts, and afterwards re-establishing that order, without coming to any decision. them by their own authority, the tiers ctat In consequence, however, of that message, had assumed a great part of the powers of the noblesse resolved that the monarchy was government, and given strong reason to think threatened by that step, that they were de that they intended to assume the rest. It termined to defend it, and maintain the vo. was very little if any thing short of high ring by orders. Mr. Necker, who wished treason, by the laws of the freest as well as not to fix any general rule, but to make use the most arbitrary governments. It is proof either way, as best suited his own views bable, that they would never have proceeded upon every occasion, seems to have been a to the lengths or taken the rash steps that good deal at a loss how to act; the King they did, if it had not been an opinion prenerely sent an order to renew the con valent, and almost established in France ferences, which was not agreed to by the ever since the wars of the Fronde, that, if commons without a renonstrance, in which acting with a constitutional assembly indivithey say, the inactivity of the states was duals ran no risk, further than banishment owing to the noblesse, and hypocritically or imprisonment for a short time. When add, in the tone of the sixteenili century, affairs had arrived at such a crisis, it would that they are the natural ailies of be crown be presumptuous in any person who did not against the higher orders, and the most thoroughly know the principal actors, and faithful subjects in its defence, Atihe re was not intimately acquainied with their innewed conferences the minister endeavoured trigues, to pretend to decide what the preto evade the question, by suggesting that'cise line of conduct of the court should have the reports of the different orders should be been, but there is little hazard in saying, laid befoie the commissioners of the other that it ought not to have been that of conorders; but this had no better success.
cession. The good of the state no less thali the conferences failing the commons de the safety of the crown, required that the creed to proceed to business, and to call over commons should be obliged to relinquishi all the returns themselves. If the court had their usurpations. So unwarrantable were not before seen or pot adverted to what the their proceedings, that it is reasonable 10 arrogance of the tiers elut might lead, this bink that they must have defeared their
own object, and revolted the nation against was to contest it with them, they soon rethem if the court had been commonly pru covered their former insolence, and treated dent; but they do not appear to have had a the commands of the King with insult, al. perception of the actual state of the nation. though delivered in person. It has never The long continued disputes with the parlia been ascertained by whom the proceedings ments had introduced a routine which ihey of that day were advised; there were many seemed to think must be adapred to all pub- things in them contrary to the sentiments of lic assemblies, and to all circumstances. It the minister, and there were many others was resolved that the King should go to the conformable to his known opinions. He did states-general, and hold what in the language not attend the King, and it was expected of the parliaments was called a lit de justice. that he was to resiga, but after a conference If the court had not been then sensible of in the closet, it was declared that he was to the situation in which they stood, transac remain in office. The next day a majority tions took place in the few days that inter of the clergy joined the tiers etat in a regular vened before it was put in execution that meeting ; the minority of the noblesse remight have informed them. As soon as it solved to follow their example. The day was seen that the commons received no ef after the minority of the noblesse bad joined fectual check, the minority of the clergy by the commons, the electors of Paris, which à trick after the sitting was raised, procured city, afterwards acted so conspicuous a part a false majority, and such was the impression in the revolution, sent a deputation to conproduced by !he weakness of the court, that grátulate the assembly on the wisdom and an actual majority of one, of that order join firmness of their proceedings; and the ed the tiers etat,' and that too in the most King held a council which terminated this, violent of their proceedings. When it was like every other crisis of his reign, by giving determined that the lit de justice should be up every thing that he had so pompously held, the place in which the commons met announced he was determined to maintain. was unaccountably ordered to be shut up to The two privileged orders were requested prepare for it, without giving them regular to join the tiers etat, which was, in fact, connotice. When they were refused admit- slituting them the states-general, as they tance, they immediately went to a tennis had a strong party among the clergy, and court, where they entered into an obligation no contemptible one among the noblesse, under an oath, not to separate till they had while the other orders had no adherents formed a constitution : they next day met in among
them. a church, where they were joined by that Hitherto the obedience, if not the dispart of the clergy. Notwithstanding such cipline of the army had been preserved ; reiterated resistance and unceasing defection, even the French guards who were so much the court were not only incapable of seeing connected with the citizens of Paris, had themselves, but even of being warned by quelled the riats in that city; but, so strong others. A resolution of the noblesse occa. was the last instance of imbecillity, that it sioned by the first decree of the commons, began to be shaken. The populace of Pawas presented to the King, stating in pointed ris had for some time been endeavouring to terms that the monarchy was aimed at, and debauch the soldiers, and some of the the state in danger ; to which he returned French guards having been absent from for answer, that he knew the rights of the quarters, were put in confinement; their noblesse, and that he would protect them; friends in the city collected in great numand that he hoped the noblesse would com bers, forced the place of confinement, and ply with the terms of reconciliation that he set them at liberty; not satisfied with this, was to prescribe. He went to the states, they and the electors of Paris, who had ala laid down rules for their meeting jointly and ready begun to be active in the cause of separately, cancelled the proceedings of the anarchy, sent a deputation to the statescommons, stated the privileges he intended general to request them to intercede with to grant, and the powers he was to reserve, the King in their favour, which too well as deliberately as if his authority had never suited their own views, not to be readily been dispated. Again the total want of complied with. When their note to that foresigbt was striking. The assembly had effect was presented to the King, he is said been ordered and was expected immediately to have made a reply which baiħes all comto retire, but no provision had been made in ment; that their resolutions were wise, and case of hesitation or resistance : they sat it is added, that Mr. Necker applauded toute and apparently undetermined, after the that reply. A species of fatality seems to
Set them but at tast finding that they have attended Louis the XVlth. ; the army had the busata thonnisettes, and that nobody had been neglected for many years, and, at