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justice, compelled the registry of his edict, dissolving the parliament. The bailiwicks and plenary court were instituted in its stead. The resistance was now general. Collisions took place universally in the provinces betwixt the troops and the people, who supported their ancient magistracy. The treasury in the mean time grew empty. A loan was impossible. Brienne had recourse to his own order. He summoned a convocation of the clergy, and asked of them a subsidy. Even here he was destined to meet with opposition; the deputies of the curates and lower clergy were as hostile to the bishops as the commons were to the noblesse, and, as usual, there were not wanting men of the higher ranks to seek influence on the popular side. The clergy were deaf to the archbishop of Toulouse. To his demands for supply, they gave in answer the universal echo, the states-general; and, as if impatient of ruin, requested the immediate convocation of the assembly. Overcome by this last blow, the minister yielded, and dared to hope from the commons that support to the throne that the noblesse, the parliament, and the clergy, had successively and factiously denied. In August, 1788, appeared in consequence an arrêt of the council, convoking the states-general in the month of May of the following year. Brienne hoped to preside over this assembly, and direct its motions. “Are you not afraid to hold the states?” asked some one of him. “Sully held them,” was the self-sufficient reply. But the archbishop was destined to proceed no farther in the emulation of Sully. The treasury was without funds; and the day was at hand for the payment of dividends to the public creditor. The minister proposed paying part in bills. The Parisian rentiers were in a fury to find their income thus curtailed. An insurrection was expected: several had lately taken place in the provinces, at Rennes, at Grenoble, and Brienne feared for the consequences. He hurried, in tears, to the royal closet, and besought the interference of the queen to induce Necker to aid and enter office. Necker agreed to supersede Brienne, but refused to take office with him. The archbishop was accordingly sacrificed. “If he did not make the fortune of the state,” says Thiers, “he at least made his own:” he retired enormously rich; and even begged for a cardinal's hat in parting. In addition to the chaos and disorder to which the kingdom was reduced in his administration, his foreign policy, or rather lack of such, entailed disgrace. The popular party of the Dutch, favored by the French, had rebelled against the stadtholder. Prussia marched an army into Holland, despised the feeble menaces of Brienne, and reestablished the power of the prince of Orange.
1788. NECKER RETURNS TO POWER. 221
Necker was now once more enthroned in the ministeria, seat. His name was sufficient to bring money to the treasury, and to restore confidence, at least to the pensioner and the fundholder As to administrative measures, the way was marked before him. The states were already summoned; it remained to decide the important question of their organization. Should the three orders sit together, vote by orders, or by numbers! Necker was too unpresuming to decide this question; but it was necessary to regulate the respective numbers of the deputies of each class. Brienne had invited the learned to publish their sentiments on these points; of course, the opinions expressed by them were, that the com mons should equal the numbers of the privileged orders united. After this rule the provincial assemblies had been arranged. The precedent told now in its favor. It was Necker's opinion also; to which the queen and court were not averse; for the idea that the crown, whose plans of amelioration were defeated by the aristocracy and by the clergy, should recur to the support of the commons, after being forced, first upon Calonne, then upon Brienne, now began to be entertained at court. Necker proposed to consult the notables on this question. The assembled chiefs of the privileged orders decided against an arrangement so fatal to them: but the bureau at which Monsieur, the king's brother, since Louis XVIII., presided, declared for the plan; in which, indeed, most of those attached to the court joined: liberality gained the ascendant. Although the majority of the notables declared against the predominance of the commons, the question was not considered as decided. A council sat to discuss it at Versailles. Necker proposed still to accede to the double return of the tiers, and the queen, who was present, favored the plan. Under such auspices, it was decided in the affirmative, and an order of council decreed that the number of the deputies of the tiers état, or commons, should equal that of the noblesse and clergy united.
TheRE is no scene, no portion of history, that can be regarded under so many different views as the revolution upon which we now enter. To some, it is all crime; to others, all glory. In England, the prevailing sentiment has been, to regard the French nation as if it were an individual actuated by one perverse will, and flinging itself, from pure love of mischief, into the agonies of suffering and the depths of crime. We have had hitherto naught but a wide anathema to bestow upon our hapless, neighbor. In this, it is to be feared, we treated her with similar humanity to that with which men used to treat the leprous, excluded them at once from society, sympathy, charity, and good-will; regarding their malady as a crime and a sin, and looking with eyes of hate on what had better merited our pity. - Revolution is one of the maladies of kingdoms, or rather the crisis of a malady. It may proceed from some latent vice in the constitution, from dissipation, from mismanagement. To avert such is often no more in the power of the nation or of the individual, than it is to be all-sound and all-wise. From early times there was something wrong in the framework of French society. These defects have been noted; above all, that marked division of classes, which refused amalgamation. Their mutual and oft-renewed struggles have been seen. The people, the great mass, not of the poor and ignorant, but often of the wealthy and enlightened, were conquered and borne down in the combat. Their defeat they could have forgiven; but the extravagant use which the upper classes had made of their victory revolted the fallen. The clergy grasped one third of the lands of the kingdom, the noblesse another; yet the remaining third was burdened with all the expense of government. This was reversing the social pyramid, and placing it upon its apex. To reform this state of things was necessary. Flesh and blood could not bear it. Intellect, more powerful still, rebelled against it. Owing to the great exertions of the latter in print and orally, all men were agreed as to the necessity of this change. Louis XVI., however uneducated, felt and owned the need; but he was at first young, weak because ignorant, and dared not to break through the trammels of a court. The monarch, nevertheless, made every effort to bring about the desired reform peaceably. He intrusted the task first to Turgot, whose schemes were repulsed by the magistracy, Necker made no political attempt. Calonne next tried. He was defeated and overthrown by the clergy and noblesse. Brienne then was driven to repeat the attempt, and the magistracy tripped up him. What resource was left? To recur to the people. But this was revolution. True ! but who rendered it indispensable? Not the people, who were all the time tranquil; not the monarch, who did his utmost; not the queen, despite the accusation that even respectable writers echowe find her supporting Necker and approving the double re
1789. THE STATES-GENERAL. 223
presentation of the commons—no. It was the resistance, the false, the blind resistance, of the privileged orders, noblesse, clergy, magistracy, that precipitated the revolution, and flung all power at last into the hands of the commons. It is evident from the beginning that, in the assembly of the states, this power must soon have absorbed all others, Necker has been blamed for allowing the third estate a double number of representatives, and for not ordering from the first a chamber of peers. But Necker knew how futile any such ordonnance would have been. In times of extreme danger and convulsion, society is prone to throw off factitious distinctions, and to resolve itself into its first elements. In peace, or even in well-ordered war, the soldier obeys his officer, and looks up to him with confidence. But in the rout, in slaughter, and in the struggle for existence, each puts forth his individual exertions, and saves himself as he can. In the great English rebellion, the peerage was not destroyed: it fell. There was none of that hatred towards it which the French noblesse had excited in the people and merited from them: still it fell. From the same law, it might be augured, that in the general wreck of the social system, which was now inevitable in France, the opportunities for repairing and saving it being voluntarily lost, the members of the privileged classes could survive but as individuals, and hold influence but by their talents and character, not their rank. This is the law of every revolution in which the people are called to partake. It is here uttered as fact, not as doctrine; as warning, not as approbation.* Some argue, might not the revolution have been brought about amicably, with forbearance and mutual sacrifice? Certainly not: it was too late. The changes which even the monarch himself allowed as necessary to be effected, were too radical, too great, to be wrought by aught save force. What centuries ought to have gradually done, was here given as the work of a day. Such a task was too great, too momentous, and the time allowed too short, to permit of its accomplishment by aught short of convulsion. With never so .ittle of fatalism in one's creed, much of that stern principle must be seen linking together and impelling the events of this dire catastrophe. . In the month of May, 1789, the deputies of the statesgeneral thronged to Versailles. The expectation, the ferment, of the capital of the kingdom were excessive. The elections in the provinces had given rise to dissension and tumult. The noblesse and townsfolk fought in many provinces. The rumor of a great political change had gained the very rabble, who now for the first time began to show their influence on state affairs. The distressed condition of the peasantry had swelled their disorderly ranks, in which were found those ardent temers which war occupies and mows down, and who in long intervals of peace roam unquiet and eager for their natural element of strife. Famine, occasioned by the failure of the ast crop, rendered more severe by an inclement winter, sharpened the ferocity of this class; whilst its hordes were increased by the efforts of the benevolent, chiefly exerted in the capital, whither the indigent flocked in consequence. A few days before the meeting of the states, a tumult of a serious nature broke out, as if to offer a prognostic of the revolution. Reveillon, a rich manufacturer of the fauxbourg St. Antoine, was reported to have been severe to his workmen, and to have menaced them with a reduction of wages. A mob collected; broke into his establishment; pillaged it; grew inebriated with the contents of the cellars; and were not dislodged till after a combat, in which some hundreds perished. The dead were found to be well supplied with money; a proof that they had been hired to create sedition. Who was the suborner! Suspicion fell upon the duke of Orleans, a prince of restless temper and profligate life: hating the queen, and despised by her, for private causes, he had fomented the factious and selfish opposition of the parliament. And the obscure demagogues, that now began to agitate in the lower depths of society, made use certainly of his name and probably of his purse. The Palais Royal, where the prince dwelt, was their haunt, its precincts being sacred from the molestation of the police. Journals, too, were rare in that day; and the habit began of one person reading aloud to a body of hearers. Speech-making naturally followed reading. The cafés partook of the general agitation. And thus the idle and the disreputable formed in the gardens and purlieus of the Palais a kind of ever-open club, in imitation of the similar societies that now abounded throughout the kingdom. The duke of Orleans was flattered by this crowd, that assembled round his residence, and invoked his protection and his name. How far he was instrumental in pushing them to excess, is difficult to decide; but sufficient cause and pretext existed without him. . On the 4th of May, the eve of the opening of the statesgeneral, the members of the several orders walked in solemn procession to the church of St. Louis, at Versailles. The noblesse and clergy, in magnificent costume; the third estate, or commons, in simple black: but the numbers of the latter
se The revolution of 1830 offers another exemplification of this importan" truth.