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strive hard to get the philosophers punished, and, to make the demand, they are represented by an atheist and a sceptic: Loménie and Talleyrand.

The privilege of the nobility had likewise become nonsense: formerly they paid nothing because they paid with their sword; they furnished the ban and arrière-ban; a vast undisciplined - multitude, called together for the last time in 1674. They continued to furnish the army with officers, by shutting out all others from the career, and rendering the formation of a real army impossible. The civil army, the administration, the bureau-cracy, was invaded by the nobility; the ecclesiastical army, in its higher ranks, was also filled with nobles. Those who made it their profession to live in grand style, that is to say, to do nothing, had undertaken to do all; and everything remained undone.

Once more, the clergy and the nobility were a burden to the land, the malediction of the country, a gangrene which it was necessary to cut away; that was as clear as daylight to everybody.

The only obscure question was that of Royalty; a question, not of mere form, as people have so often repeated, but a fundamental, intimate question, more vital than any other in France; a question not only of politics, but of love and religion. No people ever loved their kings so dearly.

The eyes of men, open under Louis XV., shut again under Louis XVI., and the question remained once more in the dark. The hope of the people still clung to royalty; Turgot hoped, Voltaire hoped, that poor young king, so ill born and bred, would have desired to do good. He struggled, and was dragged away. The prejudices of his birth and education, even his hereditary virtues, hurried him to his ruin—a sad historical problem! Honest men have excused him, and honest men have condemned him. Duplicity, mental reservations, (but little surprising, no doubt, in a pupil of the Jesuit party,) such were his faults; and lastly his crime, which led him to death, his appeal to foreigners. With all that, let us not forget that he had been sincerely anti-Austrian and anti-English; that he had truly, fervently desired to improve our navy; that he had founded Cherbourg at eighteen leagues from Portsmouth; that he helped to cut England in two, and set one part of England against the other. That tear which Carnot shed

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on signing his death-warrant, remains for him in history; History, and even Justice, in judging him, will weep.

Every day brings on his punishment. This is not the time for me to relate these things. Let it suffice to say here that the best was the last-great lesson of Providence!-so that it might appear plain to all that the evil was less in the man than in the institution itself; that it might be more than the condemnation of the king-the condemnation of ancient royalty. That religion is at an end. Louis XV. or Louis XVI,, infamous or honest, the god is nevertheless still a man; if he be not so by vice, he is by virtue, by easy good nature. Human and feeble, incapable of refusing, of resisting, every day sacrificing the people to the courtiers, and like the God of the priests, damning the many, and saving his elect.

As we have already said: The religion of grace, partial for the elect, and the government of grace, in the hands of favourites, are perfectly analogous. Privileged mendicity, whether it be filthy and monastic, or gilded, as at Versailles, is ever mendicity. Two paternal powers: ecclesiastical paternity, characterised by the Inquisition; and monarchical paternity, by the Red Book and the Bastille.



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WHEN Queen Anne of Austria was regent, "there remained," says Cardinal Retz, "but two little words in the language: The queen is so good!

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From that day France declines in energy; the elevation of the lower classes, which notwithstanding the harsh administration of Richelieu had been so remarkable, subsides and disappears. Wherefore? Because the "queen is good;" she loads with presents the brilliant crowd besetting her palace; all the provincial nobility who fled under Richelieu return, demand, obtain, take, and pillage; the least they expect is to be exempted from taxation. The peasant who has managed to purchase a few acres has the sole duty of payment; he must bear all he is obliged to sell again, and once more becomes a tenant, steward, or a poor domestic.

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Louis XIV. is severe at first; no exemption from taxes; Colbert cancels 40,000 of them. The country thrives. But Louis XIV. grows good-natured; he is more and more affected by the fate of the poor nobility; everything is for them,grades, places, pensions, even benefices, and Saint-Cyr for noble young ladies. The nobility flourishes, and France is at her last extremity.


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Louis XVI. is also severe at first, grumbles, and even refuses; the courtiers jest bitterly about his incivility and rough answers (coups de boutoir). The reason is, he has a bad minister that inflexible Turgot: and, alas! the power yet. In 1778, the king at last yields; the re-action of nature acts powerfully in favour of the queen; he can no longer refuse anything, neither to her nor to her brother. The most amiable man in France becomes comptroller-general; M. de Calonne uses as much wit and grace to give, as his predecessors had used skill to elude and refuse. Madam," he would say to the queen, "if it be possible, it is done; if impossible, it shall be done." The queen purchases Saint Cloud; the king, so parsimonious till then, allows himself to be seduced, and buys Rambouillet. Vaudreuil, the disinterested friend of the Count d'Artois, will receive nothing; he sells to the crown, for a million, his estates in America, receives them back and keeps them. Who can say how many estates and what sums Diane de Polignac, by cleverly directing Jules de Polignac, managed to secure? The crowned Rosina, having become in course of time Countess Almaviva, could refuse nothing to Suzanne,-to the versatile charms of her who was Suzanne or Chérubino.

The Revolution spoiled all. It roughly tore aside the graceful veil that masked the public ruin. The veil, being removed, revealed the vessel of the Danaides. The monstrous

affair of the Puy Paulin and Fenestrange, those millions squandered (between a famine and a bankruptcy), flung away by a silly woman into a woman's lap, far surpassed anything that satire had exposed. People laughed, with horror.

The inflexible reporter of the Committee of Finances acquainted the assembly with a mystery unknown to everybody: In expenditure, the king is the sole director.'

The only standard of expenditure was the king's good nature.



Too tender-hearted to refuse to grieve those whom he saw about him he found himself in reality dependent on them. At the slightest inclination towards economy, they were moody and sullen. He was obliged to yield. Several of them were still bolder; they spoke out, loud and resolutely, and took the king to task. M. de Coigny (the queen's first or second lover, according to dates), refused to submit to a retrenchment which they had proposed in one of his enormous pensions; a scene ensued, and he got into a passion with Louis XVI. The king shrugged up his shoulders, and made no answer. In the evening, he said: submitted to it."

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Indeed, had he beaten me, I should have

No noble family in difficulties, no illustrious mother marrying her daughter and son, but draws money from the king. "Those great families contribute to the splendour of the monarchy and the glory of the throne," &c. &c. The king signs with a heavy heart, and copies into his Red Book: To Madam 500,000 francs. The lady carries the order to the minister: "I have no money, Madam." She insists, threatens ; she may be troublesome, being in high favour with the queen. The minister ultimately finds the money. He will rather postpone, like Loménie, the payment of the small pensioners; let them starve, if they will; or else, as he did, he will take the charitable funds intended to repair the disasters of storms and fire; nay, even plunder the funds of the hospitals.

France is in good hands. Everything is going on well. So good-natured a king, such an amiable queen. The only difficulty is, that, independently of the privileged paupers at Versailles, there is another class, no less noble, and far more numerous, the provincial privileged paupers, who have nothing, receive nothing, say they; they rend the air with their exclamations. Those men, long before the people, will begin the Revolution.

By-the-bye, there is a people. Between these paupers and those paupers, who are all persons of fortune, we had forgotten the people.

The people! Oh! that is the business of the farmers of the revenue. Things are altered. Formerly, financiers were hard-hearted men. Now they are all philanthropists, kind, amiable, and magnificent; with one hand they starve, it is



true; but often they nourish with the other. They reduce thousands to beggary, and give alms. They build hospitals, and fill them.

"Persepolis," says Voltaire, in one of his stories, "has thirty kings of finance, who draw millions from the people and give a little to the king." Out of the gabelle *, for instance, which brought in one hundred and twenty millions, the Ferme générale kept back sixty, and deigned to leave some fifty or sixty for the king.

Tax-gathering was nothing but an organised warfare; it caused an army of two hundred thousand drones to oppress the soil. Those locusts devoured,-wasted everything. To drain substance out of a people, thus devoured, it was necessary to have cruel laws, terrible penalties, the galleys, gibbets, racks. The farming agents were authorised to employ arms; they murdered, and were afterwards judged by the special tribunals of the Ferme générale.

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The most shocking part of the system was the nature of the king and the farmers of the revenue. On one hand the king, on the other the thirty kings of the exchequer, gave away (or sold cheap) exemptions from taxation; the king created nobles; the farmers created for themselves fictitious employés, who, under that title, were exempt. Thus, the exchequer was working against itself; whilst it was augmenting the sum to be paid, it diminished the number of the payers; the load weighing upon fewer shoulders, became more and more oppressive.

The two privileged orders paid whatever they pleased,—the clergy a gratuitous non-collectible tax; the nobles contributed for certain imposts, but according to whatever they thought proper to declare, which the treasury-agents registered with a bow, without either examination or verification. The neighbours had to pay so much the more.

O, heaven! O, earth! O, justice! If it were through conquest, or by a master's tyranny, that the people were perishing, they could endure it. But they perish through good nature! They would perhaps endure the hard-heartedness of a Richelieu; but how can they endure the good nature of Loménie and

Duties on salt, &c., C.C.

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