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King's exprefs command. Pafs violent refolutions. Are interrupted by the military. Great riots and confufion. Nobles of the province meet, and fend a deputation to Verfailles, who are fent to the Bastille. Great and vifible agitation of the King's mind. Peculiarly unfortunate in the great facrifices which he made for procuring felicity to his government, and to afford eafe and content to his fubjects. Recapitulation of fome preceding events. Dreadful hurricane deftroys the harvest and vintage, in feveral of the finest parts of the kingdom. Great benevolences to the diftreffed people; and various measures purfued for their further relief. Arret relative to the meeting of the ftates general, caufes great joy, and occafions the ftocks to rife. King obliged to relinquish the new conftitution. Arret relative to payments at the treasury, caufes the greatest confufion in Paris, along with a violent run upon the bank. Minif try changed. Archbishop of Sens retires to Italy, and Mr. Neckar is placed again at the head of the finances. Great public joy; ftocks juddenly rife; and general good humour prevails. Measures pursued by the new minifter to fupport the public opinion. Parliament of Paris meet. New altercations with the crown, relative to the profecution of the late minifters. Great riot in Paris, and feveral of the populace flain. Parliament publicly burn the King's arrets. Convention of the notables, in order to fettle the preliminaries neceffary to the meeting of the ftates general. Diftreffes of the people greatly increafed by the extreme feverity of the winter.


E have fhewn in our hiftorical article for the year 1787, the ftrong remonftrances made by the parliament of Paris to the king towards the clofe of that year, in confequence of the banishment of the Duke of Orleans, and of the imprisonment of two of their members, on account of their conduct in the courfe of the great debates which took place in the king's prefence, upon the preced ing memorable 19th day of November.

Although the king feemed to have given way 'in fome degree to their remonftrances, by alleviating the circumftances of feverity which in the firft inftance attended the imprisonment of the Abbe Sabatiere and M. Frenau, yet, as the banishment of the duke

and the confinement of the two members was ftill continued, and the principle of authority upon which both were founded ftill maintained, the parliament fhewed themfelves determined to perfevere in their oppofition to and reprobation of the measure, until they fhould finally fucceed in overthrowing the principle itself, and thereby procuring future fecurity to the perfons of their members, and an unlimited freedom to their deliberations and debates.

'They had already fucceeded in carrying a great point against the crown, and in establishing a precedent the moft dangerous to its authority that could be conceived: a

precedent without example in the hiftory of the French nation, or of its parliaments. This was the proVol. xxix. pp. 196 to 200.

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teft by which they in effect annulled the two edicts for raising a tax upon territorial revenue (or, as we call it, a land tax) and another upon ftamps; they having in that piece declared, that all perfons who attempted to carry thofe edicts into execution fhould be confidered as guilty of treafon, and regarded as enemies to their country. A vigorous government would have eafily fet afide the effect of this proteft; for the edicts had been enregistered according to the ufual forms in a bed of justice, which, from the undisputed sanction of ages, conferred on them all the efficacy and force of laws; but the enfeebled ftate of the court, the want of vigour in its councils, along, probably, with an ill-founded hope, and ill-timed defire of accommodation, ferved all together to induce the king to fubmit to this dangerous inroad upon his authority, and to relinquish thefe decrees, which could alone have enabled him to conduct the bufinefs of government with fecurity and effect.

After fuch a triumph over weakness and fear in fo recent an inftance, the parliament could not be much apprehenfive of a failure of fuccefs in other matters, which, though of confequence to themselves, were of infinitely lefs importance to the crown. The laft anfwer received from the king, viz. "That they fhould not demand "from his juftice what folely de

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pended upon his will," was taken into confideration by that body foon after the opening of the new year, when they paffed Jan. 4th, feveral refolutions, ftrong1788. ly enforcing and enlarging the principles laid down in their former remonftrances. They charge the

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king with departing from the profeffions held out in fome of his former declarations or answers. Their reprobation of lettres de cachet, places them in every point of view that could render them odious or terrible. They describe them as being the common inftruments of concealed views and private, revenge; and they fcruple not to charge the monarchy with degenerating into actual defpotifm, through the nefarious abuse of the king's authority by ministers, in applying thefe letters, without any form of law, or colour of justice, to deprive individuals of their liberty. They. argued upon ftrong ground, that the fame power which arbitrarily deprives the first prince of the blood and the two magiftrates of their liberty, might, undoubtedly, with greater eafe, attack that of all other citizens; and if the repeal of fuch arbitrary orders depends only on the monarch's goodness and pleasure, it must follow that no Frenchman has any fecurity for his liberty, that lettres de cachet are to have the effect of laws, and are to be confidered as neceffary and effential parts of government.

This principle they totally condemn, as fubverting the most facred foundations of the conftitution. They declare, that they therefore cannot, and indeed that they ought not, to recur to the king's goodnefs in order to obtain the liberty of the duke and of the two magif. trates: fuch a ftep would be no lefs derogatory from the effential principles of the conftitution, and of public order, than from the generous fentiments of the fufferers themselves. That, all his majesty's fubjects are equally interested in preventing the fad effects of fo

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dangerous a principle; and that they neither could themselves, nor ever would, make any difference between the cause of the prince and the magiftrates, and that of any other citizen whatever. They fum up the whole, with repeating their declaration, that parliament, therefore, will never ceafe to demand the liberty or the impeachment of the prince and the magiftrates; and that, thinking themfelves equally bound to employ the fame zeal and the fame perfeverance for the welfare of all their fellow citizens, they will not ceafe to intreat his majefty to grant and to insure to every Frenchman, that perfonal fecurity, which is folemnly promised by the laws, and due to them by the principles of the con'ftitution.

he had the fatisfaction to know, that he had made a more moderate ufe than his predeceffors. He then informed them, that the expreffions made use of in their refolutions of the 4th inftant, were as indiscreet and improper, as those which they had ufed on the 27th of Auguft in the former year. That he therefore fuppreffed the refolutions of both thofe, days, as being contrary to that refpect and fubmiflion which his parliament owed, and was bound to fet an example of to all his fubjects. He concluded by forbid. ding them to purfue fuch a conduct, or to form any fuch refolutions in future.

So little effect did this charge produce, that the parliament, on the fucceeding day, paffed a new fet of refolutions, which befides reiterating the principal arguments and pofitions of the former pieces, held out fuch new matter, as, if it could not add much to their force, was, however, well calculated to operate upon the minds of the people, which were already exceedingly inflamed in every part of the kingdom.

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The parliament was fent for 17th. to Verfailles, to receive the king's answer to this remonftrance, which afforded as little fatisfaction to that body as any of the preceding. They were informed, that although he had condefcended to receive their reprefentations in behalf of the two magiftrates whom he had punished, he did not think In this manner was the conteft proper to recall them, That, be- continued for fome time longer, fides, the manner in which their the apparent firmnefs on one fide reprefentations were expreffed, was being met by an equal degree of by no means fuch as to deferve his perfeverance on the other: nor in indulgence. On the fubject of the mean time was it at all clear, lettres de cachet, he affured them, whatever conceffions had been made, that the lawful liberty of his fub- or even if all the claims of the jects was as dear to him as to parliament had been granted, that themselves; but he at the fame the latter had left it in their power time declared, that he would not to relieve the crown from its diffuffer his parliament to oppofe the treffes, or confequently to enable it exercise of an authority, which the to carry on the business of govern tranquillity of families fo much and ment. This proceeded from their fo often required; which magif- unexpected declaration, that it was trates themselves fo frequently fo- neither in their power, nor in that licited and implored; and of which of the crown, nor of both united, [4] 3


to grant or to raise any money by the levy of new taxes upon the people; a declaration evidently defigned to lay the king under a neceffity of convoking the ftates general of the kingdom.

Whatever were the particular motives of the party by whofe influence that body was induced to make this voluntary furrender of its authority, the new doctrine ran like wild-fire through the nation. In proportion to the general odiousness of taxes, was the joy at this emancipation from all actual authority to raife new ones; whilft the patriotifm of that body, which had thus teftified its own incompetence, in order thereby to establish the difqualification of the crown, was fcarcely lefs than idolized. Thus circumftanced, it would not have been easy for the parliament, however inclined, to retract its own meafure, and to refume a competence which it formally declared it did not poffefs; as little could it renew that ancient authority in the crown, which it had juft endea voured to cancel,

In the mean time that fpirit of liberty which we have heretofore had occafion to take notice of, and for the growth and progress of which we then affigned different caufes, was not only now every where spread, but feemed already, in fome inftances and places, difpofed to over-leap all reftraints, and to trample upon that distinction of ranks, and thofe lines of fubordination, which had hitherto not only been deemed neceffary to the well being of government, but even to the prefervation of fociety.

This was accompanied by its ufual concomitant, a fpirit of innovation, which attempted to reach and to embrace every thing, The

French feemed transformed to a nation of projectors; and every projector wished to be a reformer. Nothing almoft could be heard or liftened to but reforms; and the language and difpofition feemed to become as prevalent at court as with the people or parliaments. Two inftances, however, occurred, in which this spirit was landably and advantageoufly exert ed. The firft was a general reform in the codes both of civil and criminal justice, a reform long wished, and than which nothing could be more wanted; but its difficulty and magnitude had hitherto deterred any minifter from venturing upon fo arduous an undertaking. M. de Lamoignon, the keeper of the feals, had not only the courage to encounter thefe difficulties, but the happinefs and honour to form fo excellent a plan for compleating the defign, as to leave but little to be done by those who were deftined to be his fucceffors in carrying it into execution. And, for the relief of thofe perfons who might be liable. to trial in the interim, before the great work could be perfected, he introduced several moft humane and effential regulations into the immediate proceedings of the criminal courts; particularly with respect to evidence, and the mode of obtaining it (in which the fyftem was extremely faulty) and ftill more particularly in thofe cafes where the life of the accused was affected.

The fecond was the edict in favour of the proteftants, which was introduced by the king on the memorable 19th of November, and was registered by the parliament on the 29th of January 1788. This edict contained 37 articles, the greater number as well as the moft effential of which, were thofe re

lating to marriages, births, baptifms, and burials, fubjects which had frequently been the cause of great trouble, difficulty, and grievance to the proteftants, with refpect to the legitimacy of their iffue, and the legal defcent of their inheritances.

While all France was waiting with the utmost attention and folicitude, the iffue of the conteft between the king and the parliament of Paris, relative to lettres de cachet, an incident took place in Languedoc which threw the whole kingdom into a ferment upon that fubject. M. de Catalan, the prefident of the parliament of Tholoufe, having, in conjunction with that body, refufed to regifter the late edict for levying a tax of two twentieths on the nation, the king immediately ordered a lettre de cachet to be iffued against the prefident, the execution of which was committed to the count de Perigord, governor general of the province. M. de Catalan was accordingly arrefted, and fent prifoner to an old caftle at the foot of the Pyrenean mountains.

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ing all the fubfequent proceedings as a continuation of the fame fyitem, they inform the king that his parliament can never allow, that one act of arbitrary power fhould deftroy the effential rights by which his fubjects had been governed for 1300 years paft. They then enumerate feveral loofe indefinite charges against government, as the grounds orjuftification of the prefent remonftrance, that public liberty is attacked in its very principles; that defpotifm is fubftituted for the law of the land; that the privileges of magiftracy are trampled upon, and parliament made the mere inftrument of arbitrary power.

They declare that their privileges are not their own; that they are the property of the people at large, and that they, as truftees or confervators, are bounden to preferve them from violation. That the will of the king, alone, does not make a law complete, nor does the fimple expreffion of that will conftitute the formal act of the nation. It is neceffary that the king's will, in order to be effective, fhould be published under legal authority; and that in order to make the publication of it legal, it must have been firft freely difcuffed. "Such, fire! are the principles of the French conftitution."

In fupport of this doctrine they go back to the early stages of the French monarchy, and endeavour to fhew from history, the ancient as well as the more recent circumftances which attended the paffing of laws, and which they reprefent as having been held indifpenfably neceffary to give them validity. Under the firft race of kings, the fovereign being furrounded by his court, either prefented a new law



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