1902 Encyclopedia > France > French History: The Bourbon Monarchy: (c) Colonial Struggles and the Dawn of Revolution

France
(Part 14)




FRENCH HISTORY (cont.)

The Bourbon Monarchy: (c) Colonial Struggles and the Dawn of Revolution


For France the 18th century begins with the death of Louis XIV. The party which had surrounded the late king, the party of Madame de Maintenon, the Jesuits, the duke of Maine, represented the past; their opponents were ambitious to represent the future. At their head stood Philip, duke of Orleans, who had in extremist from all the characteristics of the Orleans branch of the Bourbon family, - who was brilliant and most intelligent, highly educated and cultivated; who was brave and capable as a soldier, full of good ideas as to the benevolent management of the people, and lastly, profligate and utterly without rule in his moral life, so that his better side was always neutralized by his worse qualities, and he ended by failing completely in his attempt to govern France on principles opposed to those of Louis XIV. Like so many of the prominent personages of the 18th century, his intellect grasped the future, while his vices clung to the past. Even while the old monarch’s remains were being hurried with scanty pomp and tearless eyes to St Denis, Philip of Orleans swept away all the arrangements of the royal will, and had himself declared regent, with full power to appoint his council of regency. The public opinion, as far as it could exist and express itself, warmly supported this coup d’etat, and the party of the duke of Maine shrank into utter obscurity. At once the regent set himself to reform the government, and alter the foreign policy of France; in this he was guided partly by his knowledge of the plans of the late duke of Burgundy, and partly by the acute intelligence of his former tutor the Abbe Dubois; the duke of Burgundy represented also the virtous, the abbe the scandalous, side of the new Government. In home affairs the regent’s action aimed at a complete reversal of the late king’s methods. He proposed to shift the work of governing from the king to the nobles ; there were to be six business councils or boards, for foreign affairs, army, navy, church affairs (the "council of conscience"), home affairs, and finance. This system of government failed, partly through the indolence of the regent, partly through the inaptness of the nobles for practical business. In church matters, the Jansenists were not unpopular, and came back to Paris; Cardinal Noailles, head of the council of conscience, was moderate and tolerant, and the Jesuits felt that their power was much weakened. The regent even talked of inviting back the Huguenots to France; this, however, was beyond his powers. He had Fenelon’s Telemaque published at last, as a kind of manifesto against the late reign, and a prophecy of the coming era of benevolent princes. He hoped to introduce throughout France the system known as that of the pays d’etats a system of local estates or parliaments, which should lead up to a real and substantive States-General and make all the provinces alike in form government. This also he could not carry into effect. In foreign affairs Dubois led; his main view was that France and Spain could not be friends, that France and Spain could not be friends, that Philip V. would gladly represent the old high Catholic interference in France, and would do his worst to overthrow the regent, whose character and ideas alike were odious to him. This being so, here was reasons for another reversal of the late king’s views; France should seek her friends among the natural; foes of Spain, - England under the house of Hanover, and Holland. The marked Anglomania, the enthusiasm for everything English, which is to be seen at this time in France, worked in well with these new lines of foreign policy. With these views Dubois set himself to resist the bold schemes of Cardinal Alberoni, the adventurer, the would be regenerator of Spain. In 1717 he succeeded in combining the three counties in opposition to Alberoni, and in 1718, on the emperor acceding to the league, the Quadruple Alliance (France, England, Holland, the empire) was signed. The detection of the Cellamare plot, for the overthrow and assassination of the regent, had enabled Dubois, just before this time, to get rid of all the Spanish party. He deported Cellamare, the Spanish ambassador, and imprisoned the duke of Maine and the leaders of that side; he also took for himself the post of foreign minister. War now began; England crushed the Spanish fleet; the imperialists, in British ships, seized Sicily; Marshalll Berwick won some successes in northern Spain. The basis on which Alberoni had built was too slight to bear the strain of unsuccessful war; he fell, and early in 1720the treaty of London closed this little war. Spain ceased thenceforward to cherish schemes of life and energy; the ancient kingdom lapsed once more into proud decay.

At this very moment France greatly needed some triumph and some tranquility, for she was now rudely waking from new dreams of gambler-wealth at home. The financial difficulties inherited from the late reign had baffled all the skill of the duke of Noilles, who presiced over the council of finance. His "chamber ardente," with which he had hoped to cure the evils of the time by punishing and frightening financiers, brought no relief; and the regent, whose active mind and indolent disposition led him to adopt new and brilliant schemes, was carried away by the clever suggestions of John Law of Lauriston, and adventurer, in whose ready brain new ideas as to finance and banking teemed. He had hold of some half-truths respecting the real objects and character of money and commercial circulation. Paper money was a new thing; and Law believed that notes, based on the permanent wealth of the country, the soil, might be made to double the nation’s capital, and relieve it of all its embarrassments. He was allowed to establish a bank of his own in 1716. This answered so well that in 1718 Government undertook the whole mystery of banking, with Law as director of the new Royal Bank. In connection with this institution, intended to set afloat paper supported by the property of the state, he started his famous Joint-stock Mississippi Company, with its grant of Louisiana, and all the unknown, and therefore marvelous, wealth and resources of the interior of North America. The shares were greedily taken up; the new bank notes seemed to afford an easy and inexhaustible supply of wealth, which would extinguish the debt, and set the country forward in lucrative enterprise. For a few months the fever was amazing; the wildest excesses of stock-jobbing and gambling were committed; on the wings of this paper-wealth the state should escape out of its difficulties, and private person fly up to splendor. Law himself bought a handful of titled estates, and seemed to become one of the greatest men in France. Early in 1720, however, confidence was shaken, and then the bubble burst. Law stood his ground a while, but at the end of the year he was obliged to take flight, as poor as when he began. The embarrassments of France were not got rid of in his way; the royal bankruptcy which was impending would in the end pull down the monarchy. Dubois, who had prudently kept clear of this downfall, now turned his ambition towards church preferment; on his unworthy head were placed first the archiepiscopal mitre of Cambrai, then the cardinal’s hat. His rise made it necessary for him to appease the Jesuits and depress the Jansenists, and this he did without a moment’s hesitation. For a year Cardinal Dubois, as first minister, was the foremost man in France. He proclaimed the majority of Louis XV. in 1723; and just as his career of scheming, of clever unprincipled government, seemed crowned with fullest success, a little accident brought him to his grave. Four months later his boon companion the duke of Orleans was carried off by apoplexy. Thus had the long reign of Louis XV. begun with shameless vice and prosperous hypocrisy; as it began, so it continued to the end; and all the time the financial difficulties of the country grew apace. The debt, seed-plot of revolution, soon passed all power of management.

The young king had some chances given him: he had good preceptors, and intelligent people around his youth. His temperament was, however, entirely bad: the religious element in him was superstition and fear, which led him to mix up piety and debauchery in most ghastly connection; he was coldly selfish, indolent, vicious; the absolutions of his courtly confessors and directors gave him an easy conscience, if he had a conscience at all, and encouraged him to continue his career of shameless immorality, till at last his vices did what religion seemed unwilling to do, - they arrested the scandal of his life by bringing him suddenly and directly to his grave.

From 1723 to 1726 the duke of Bourbon, who had been president of the council of regency, was first minister. It is an obscure period, which produced only, through a backstairs intrigue, the marriage of the young king with Marie Leczinski, daughter of that Stanislas who had been king of Poland, and was to be the last duke of Lorraine, and who rejoiced in the high-sounding title of the "Beneficent Philosopher." In this 18th century princes and great minister adopted titles and phrases which in our days have descended to the level of the vendors of quack medicines. Still these affectations of princely humanity were a phenomenon of some importance in the period, as showing how the current of feeling and opinion was setting towards those principles of right, that love for mankind, that zeal for good works, which is based on the intrinsic equality of all men. The rule of the brutal duke of Bourbon and his mistress, the Marquise de Prie, came to an end in 1726, and then Andre Hercule Fleury, bishop of Frejus, the king’s preceptor, took his place. the statesman Fleury, and the church historian , contemporaries, are not the same person. The historian was confessor to Louis XV., the statesmen his tutor.

Andre Fleury, now first minister and cardinal, had the credit of being and upright and disinterested man, - Pope calls him "honest Fleury," – and all society, from the king downwards, thoroughly trusted him. His honesty, however, was narrow and limited, and his home government obscure and uneventful. He made no scandals and attempted no reforms. Against his will and judgment he left his mark on foreign politics, though here, too, his was a "hand-to-mouth" policy, which involved no large view or grasp. At first he succeeded, with no little dexterity, in arresting the war which Austria and Spain, supported by Russia and Prussia, threatened against England and France. The congress of Soissons in 1729 arranged the points at issue, at least for a time. in the north, however, mattes were more difficult, for here new elements had entered into the political world. The new ambitions of Russia under Peter the Great, and the consolidation of the young kingdom of Prussia, at once affected the position of Austria, involving that ill-placed state in fresh relations and duties; while the situation of Poland, amidst them all, was obviously threatened. France, of old the friend and always the romantic admirer of Poland, could not fail to be involved in the quick and unstable changes of the chivalric kingdom. This now occurred. In 1733, Augustus II. of Poland dying, the electing nobles, instinctively dreading the power of their neighbors, Russia, Prussia, and Austria, who had made a secret compact together as to Polish affairs in 1732, appealed for French help, and re-elected Stanislas leczinski their king; he had been the nominee of Charles XII. in 1704, and had fallen with him. The Russians party among the nobles elected Augustus III. of Saxony, and as Austrian and Russian soldiers supported him, while France, in fact, did nothing but declare war against Austria, he seated himself firmly upon the throne of Poland. French influence for the time was utterly defeated, and Stanislas, after suitable romantic adventures, found refuge in France. The war with Austria, which began late in 1733, in 1734 occupied the last energies of the last of the old generals of Louis XIV. Marshal Berwich, commanding across the Rhine, was killed in the trenches before Philipsburg; and Villars, in Italy, after one brief campaign, in which he was thwarted by the duke of Savoy, diet at Turin about the same time. The French fought well in this Italian war; they won a hotly contested victory near Parma, lost a sharp affair at La Secchia, and defeated the Austrian at Guastalla. The Spniards, taking advantage of the weakening of Austria in south Italy, landed Don Carlos at Naples, where he was warmly welcomed, and the "Two Sicilies" passed from Austria to the Spanish Bourbons. The French having taken Philipsburg were in a commanding position on the Rhine, while the Austrians were much weakened in Italy. The emperor therefore made proposals for peace, which pacific Fleury gladly met. The treaty of Vienna (3d October 1735) seemed to secure French influence in central Europe; the Two Sicilies were made a kingdom for Don Carlos; Lorriane and ducal Bar were given to Stanislas Leczinski., who abandoned all claims on Poland, and at his death the duchies were to fall in to France; the duke of Lorriane was made heri of Tuscany, and succeeded to that government in 1737; France undertook to guarantee the Pragmatic Sanction of Charles VI. Charles VI., under whom the house of Austria daily grew weaker, was daily more eager for the flimsy security of this famous document, which aimed at ensuring the undisputed succession of his daughter Maria Theresa to all his possession , as head of the house of Austria. Fleury, by acceding to this paper-guarantee, became all powerful with him, and induced the emperor to sign the peace of Belgrade (1739), by which the possession of that important city passed to Turkey. In these years Fleury’s policy seemed thoroughly successful, and France was believed to be prosperous. Her prosperity, however, did not reach her people; the misery of the peasantry in 1738-1740 was exceedingly great; famine came each winter, the people died in crowds. D’Argenson in his Memoirs declares that "more Frenchmen died of misery in these two years thanperished in all the wars of Louis XIV."

In 1740 died both the emperor Charles VI. and Frederick William, king of Prussia; the strength of the Pragmatic Sanction had now to be brought to the test. Charles VI. left no male issue, and his daughter Maria Theresa, married to a weak prince, Joseph of Lorraine and Tuscany, was his sole heir. To the throne of Prussia succeeded Frederick II., a slight and ingenious prince, who admired the French and played on the flute. He reigned for forty-six years, and was Frederick the Great. Instantly there was a scramble for the great and widespread lands thus left to a woman’s care. Joseph of Lorraine failed to get the imperial crown; this, however, was a little matter, and after all it came to him in 1745. For the territories there were severalclaimants; Bavaria, Spain, and Saxony, all asserted their claims to the whole inheritance; the king of Sardinia wanted some Italian fiefs; the young king of Prussia laid hands on Silesia France obviously lay outside the quarrel; yet it was hard to think, with Fleury, that a peaceful and reserved position was her policy. A war-party, headed by the two Belle-Isles, Fouquet’s grandson negotiators and soldiers, rose up at court in opposition to the old minister. All Europe ranged itself for or against the fair young queen of Hungary. England was warmly for Austria; France, late her ally, now hoped finally to effect the partition of the territories of the house of Hapsburg, and joined Prussia; Spain followed on the same side, being already at war with England; the electro of Bavaria and other German princes, Poland also and Sardinia, were on the same side. At first Maria Theresa seemed to have no friends save England and Russia. The first Silesian war had already begun by the swift seizure of Silesia itself by Frederick. The French plan was to repeat the German campaigns of the Spanish Succession War, - with Bavaria as an ally to cross into the Danube valley, and having taken the outworks of Austria, to threaten Vienna, and drive the queen to submission. The French army was led by Belle-Isle, who was made marshal for the occasion. It crossed the Rhine, pushed down the Danube, took Linz and Passau, and seemed to carry out its plan in full. Maria Theresa took refuge in Hungary; the elector of Bavaria had himself proclaimed archduke of Austria, and then, supported by French help, marched into Bohemia, and took Prague, the capital. He was now crowned king of Bohemia, and soon afterwards elected emperor (1742). Belle-Isle’s schemes seemed all to succeed. Time, however, had told on the struggle; Russia began to intervene; England and Holland sent help to Maria Theresa; Prussia, securing the main part of Silesia, made peace with the queen of Hungary; and the French by the autumn of 1742 were left alone in Bohemia, face to face with the revived strength and spirit of the tenacious house of Austria. In midwinter Belle-Isle was compelled to retreat from Prague, and after terrible sufferings and losses, brought his army back to the Rhine. In this campaign the one great general of the age, Maurice of Saxony, whom the French hencefort called Marshal Saxe, distinguished himself greatly. Early in 1743 the aged Fleury, whose last days had been embittered by the war and by its failure, died in his ninetieth year. Henceforward, Louis XV. had no one at his side to save him from the disasters of mistress-government, of which the malign influences grew yearly stronger. The war in 1743 again followed the ideas of Marlborough. The English and Germans hoped to command middle Germany, to capture or eject Charles VII. at Frankfort, and then to catch the French in Bavaria. With this view George II. and the allies pushed forward hastily to the Main, and, but for the equal rashness of the duke of Grammont, would have been intercepted and ruined by the French army. As it was, George II. won the battle of Dettingen, which in England was celebrated by Handel’s famous Te Deum, and in France aroused vast merriment; for defeat in the 18th century meant the discrediting of the noble officers. The Parisians called the battle the "Journee des batons rompus," – the day on which the marshals’ batons were not won by D’Harcourt and Grammont. The French armies of Bavaria and the Rhine fell back into Alsace, and Charles VII., seeing how little help they could give, made peace with Maria Theresa. Her fortunes and hopes had risen vastly; she thought she saw her way to the recovery of Silesia from Prussia, - the recovery of Alsace and Lorraine from France. In 1744 war, which had slackened, renewed its force. A new league of Frankfort brought Frederick of Prussia again into the field. France undertook to reduce the Netherlands, and to check England by landing Charles Edward, the "Young Pretender," in Scotland. This part of the scheme failed completely. In the Netherlands the genius of Marshal Saxe accomplished all France desired; the barrier-towns had been neglected, and fell one after another. The ill-success of their army in Germany, and the vigorous attack of Prince Charles of Lorraine on Alsace, compelled the French to suspend operations in the Netherlands, in order to strengthen Coigny, who commanded on the Rhine. Their want of power spoiled Frederick’s campaign in Bohemia; Charles of Lorraine returning thither forced him to withdraw into Saxony. In 1745, in spite of Frederick’s wishes, the war on the French side returned to the Netherlands, and there, on the 10th May, the French army won its one decisive victory of the period, defeating the Anglo-German and Dutch forces under the duke of Cumberland at Fontenoy. Louis XV. was present in this action, and showed no lack of fire and bravery. This victory was decisive for the campaign; the Netherlands towns fell fast. In Italy also the battle of Bassiguano laid Lombardy at the feet of the French. On the other side Frederick the Great, though he still won great victories, felt that Maria Theresa was growing stronger. Her husband’s ambition was gratified with the imperial crown; and at the very end of the year she consented to make peace, ceding Silesia to her vigorous rival, and securing the universal recognition of her spouse as emperor. The peace of Dresden (Christmas 1745) closed the second Silesian war. France was now almost isolated; her successes in the late year seemed of little avail to her; the attempt of Charles Edward on Scotland was crushed (April 1746) by the duke of Cumberland at the battle of Culloden; and the English sea-power began to show its vigor. Off the French and Spanish coasts England gave her foes no rest; in India she recovered Madras, which had fallen into Dupleix’s hands, and spoiled the French plans for ascendancy in the East. In this year, too, the French armies were very unfortunate in Italy, and lost all their command of the peninsula. The Netherlands campaign, guided by Marshal Saxe, alone sustained the honor of the French arms; Belgium fell completely into their hands. In 1747 Marshal Saxe, though he took Bergen-op-Zoom, failed before Maestricht; and France seemed as far as ever from being able to coerce Holland. In the following year the siege of Maestricht was resumed, but negotiations for peace intervened, and the great fortress was not reduced. The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, of which the preliminaries had been signed in April, was finally concluded in October 1748. It greatly discredited France; the successes of her arms in Belgium, Savoy, and Nice, were of no avail against the strength her antagonists had developed. England and France mutually restored their conquests- France receiving back Cape Breton and England Madras; the frontier fortresses, chief prizes of the late war, were handed back to Holland. France agreed to remove Charles Edward from within her borders, and guaranteed the succession of the house of Hanover. Silesia was secured to Frederick; the Pragmatic Sanction, in all other points, was once more accepted by Europe; the house of Austria also ceded Parma and Piacenza to the Spanish Don Philip. With this peace closes the long rivalry between France and Austria; when war breaks out again they will be allies.

"To the government of an old priest succeeded that of a young mistress," says Michelet; for this was the time in which Madame de Pumpadour rose to power. Her authority lasted twenty years, - the twenty years in which France sank rapidly in Europe into weakness and discredit, while her great writers were awaking all the dormant echoes of the world, and summoning together the forces which brought on the Revolution. The mistress made and unmade ministers at will, and changed the whole face of the foreign policy of France; the scandals of the court under her rule set men listening to the new ideas which spread swiftly through France; the more the noblesse descended in worth and strength, the more its younger members talked the language of modern humanity. Almost all, like the state, were more or less bankrupt, and unable by character training, circumstances, to take advantage of the movement of society around them. When France awoke she scattered them to the winds.

Europe was very far from being finally pacified by the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle; on the contrary, every one seemed to see rents and holes init through which he might win new advantages. Frederick the Great was no doubt content with it, and so was England; others, however, were far from such feelings. Maria Theresa had reluctantly set her hand to the cession of Silesia, and scanned the horizon for help to enable her to recover that important duchy. France was almost as uneasy, for England had gained advantages which were in fact her losses; and she, too, hoped ere long to reverse the decisions of the treaty. In India her prospects seemed bright, under the brilliant leadership of Dupleix; in North America the peace had left very serious matters still unsettled, and it was hardly likely that any court save that of the sword could decide the difficult questions still open, - questions as to the limits of the Acadia which had been ceded to England; vital questions as to the connection between Canada and Louisiana, both still French territories; questions as to the islands off the coasts of America, the ownership and possession of which had been left undetermined. Acadia had been ceded without any definite statement as to whether the cession carried any portion of the mainland as well as the peninsula of Nova Scotia; and England claimed the territory as far as the shore of the St Lawrence river. This was a smaller matter; the question as to the relation between Canada and Louisiana involved no less than the ultimate possession of all North America. For while England held the coast, and hoped to combine the wealth of agriculture with that of commerce, she had always behind her the long line of French possessions and claims, which interfered with her colonizing development, and threatened to push her back to the sea. For France had the Canadian lakes, the valley of the Ohio, and that of the Mississippi; she had communication with the sea on the north at the estuary of the St Lawrence, on the south in the Gulf of Mexico. Were she to secure the connection through this long line, the English colonies would be terribly straitened and endangered; the French forts along the Ohio seemed a perpetual menace to English interests. Consequently the doors were scarcely shut on the negotiation at Aix-la-Chapelle, when fresh discussion began to spring up, and conferences were held, in a more or less angry tone, at Paris. In 1754 England, thinking that France was only lengthening out the dispute because she hoped to strengthen her navy for a fresh struggle, suddenly made war, without a proper declaration, and fell on French ships and forts whenever she could capture them. It was a high-handed and offensive proceeding. In India also an undeclared war was going on between he officers and forces of the east India Company and the French under Dupleix, which brought out the latent power of that young civilian, Clive, and ended in 1754 in the recall of Dupleix, and in a peace, or at least a cessation of warfare, between the rivals on the Indian shores. It was quite plain that before long this state of half-warfare must develop into a more serious struggle. To that also the whole movement of European politics speedily began to tend. For it was not only at Paris and London that negotiators were busy in these years; the Austrian court, eager for revenge on Prussia, and led by a strong and dangerous statesman, Kaunitz, was looking hither and thither for new alliances. The world had grown weary of the old lines of opinion, the old rules of policy, the old relations of courts. Kaunitz deemed himself the chosen instrument of a new departure, which would rearrange the map of Europe, and restore its proper authority to Austria and the empire. This statesman, father of modern diplomacy, and moiré especially of that side of it which has ever since been cultivated at Vienna, had administered the Austrian Netherlands in the last years of the late war and had represented Austria at the congresses of 1748. In 1750 he was sent as ambassador to Versailes, and, as he watched the manners and temper of French society, persuaded himself that he saw his way to new combination which might be very profitable for his mistress. The experience of Aix-la-Chapelle had convinced him that England was not trust worthy when her interests clashed with those of Austria. He saw how his country had suffered by the peace; it seemed to him that France would be a far better ally than England. Hitherto France had steadily played the part of friend and protector of the smaller North-German states, in their struggle against the dominance of the house of Austria, - this was a natural and necessary result of the secular rivalry against the Austro-Spanish power. Now, however, Prussia had taken up the post of champion of North-German interests and opinions; whereas France, by her new Bourbon relations in Spain, and her support of the Jacobites against the Hanoverians in England, had entirely changed her ground. She was far more likely to find a cordial friend in south than in north Germany; she had nothing to fear from Austria; she had much to lose or gain in the north; the Hanoverian interests of the reigning dynasty in England led the Guelfs to oppose the advance of France on the Rhine; the jealousies on other sides between France and England all tended in the same direction,- the direction of compelling France to look for new friends, and to abandon her ancient policy. Prussia became the inevitable ally of England; France began to look towards Austria. The disagreements between Austria and Holland as to the barrier-towns in the Belgian country naturally threw the sea-powers together; for neither Holland nor England cared to see Austria on that side, or to find a new rival rising up at Antwerp. Now, all political alliances are based rather on interest than on sentiment; and when it grew tolerably clear that the interests of England and France and those of England and Austria had become widely divergent, it became equally clear that new combinations must come. Austria was altogether implacable towards Prussia, England, or rather the English court, in its anxiety for Hanover, felt that Prussia could be no rival, and might be a good friend. Prussia was not a sea-power, and was a very near neighbor to Hanover. And so, when Kaunitz tried to persuade the English cabinet that it ought to join Austria in a war for the recovery of Silesia, he found so cool a reception that he at once turned elsewhere. His knowledge of France taught him how to succeed there; it must be by appeasing and interesting Madame de Pompadour; and the king of Prussia had lately offended not only her but her parasite the Abbe Bernis by his unpleasant trick of plain speaking; and the political independence of late4 years asserted for Prussia was also highly distastateful at Versailes. He knew that if he could overcome the reluctance of Louis XV., who clung to the older ideas of French policy, and persuade him also that Austria could be a good friend against English, he might succeed in reversing the political conditions of Europe, and perhaps win Silesia back for his mistress. He easily persuaded Madame de Pompadour; her influence was his from 1751; but the king was slow to move. Not till 1755, when the insults of England to the flag of France were too great to be borne, did he determine to accept the good offices of Kaunitz, and to threaten Hanover. England at once drew towards Prussia. Hanover being the bond of union between them. While the two Catholic powers formed their alliance together, and Madame de Pompadour, as men noticed with a smile, showed quit a fervour of devotion, position, the two Protestant powers, England and Prussia, set themselves to resist the Catholic movement, and , if possible, to secure the triumph of toleration in northern Europe. In this France undertook an ultra-conservative line of policy, in union with old antagonist; she ceased to, lead, or even to sympathize with, the advancing states of Europe; it was the old world support, the new order of things could no longer count on her. And, beside all this abandonment of traditional policy, in it self no little risk, the new alliance made with Austria was on the face of it, a political blunder; there was nothing to be gained by it, and much to be lost. For the essential points to which the whole care of France should have been given were across the sea, in Canada and in India ; and here she was allying herself with the most inland of European powers, excepting Poland, which could scarcely be reckoned as a power at all, and bending all her energies to attack England by a march across north-western Germany into Hanover; hither went her strength, while the English were left to carry out unmolested the plans on which their future greatness hung. Had the new coalition been successful, Austria would doubtless have crushed Prussia, but what advantages could France have reaped from the war? Her position in it was that of an inferior and secondary power; the contest would exhaust her already diminished strength, and teach the world how she had fallen; and if she failed, it would be little less than ruin to her. England however, having (early 1756) signed a treaty of neutrality with Prussia, France delayed no longer. On Mayday 1756 the "Alliance des trios Cotillons," "of the three petticoats," as it was styled, the coalition of Madame de Pompadour with Maria Theresa and Elizabeth empress of Russia, was formally undertaken, to the vast delight of the French court and nobles, which longed for the pleasures of a great military promenade in such good society, assuming that the French people would, as usual, bear the cost, and leave to them the excitement and the glory. It did not turn out so amusing as they had expected. This treaty of Versailles was immediately followed by a declaration of war on the part of England; and Pitt before very long had smoothed over all difficulties which lay in the way of an offensive and defensive alliance with Prussia. The elder Pitt was regarded with as much fear and hatred by the court of Madame de Pompadour as the younger Pitt was by the republicans forty years later in the days of the Terror. The allies were chiefly tied by circumstances and mutual convenience to occupy different portions of the field of war, - England grappling with France, and Prussia with the Austrians.





At the beginning he French navy had no small share of success. During the peace great attention had been paid to it, and the growing importance of her commerce had reared for France no despicable school of mariners. At the outset of the war a great expedition commanded by Marshal Richelieu, who has the bad distinction of having done more than any other man to debauch and corrupt that apt pupil the king, set sail from Toulon harbor, and directed its course for Minorca, which was occupied by the English in force. Richelieu took Port Mahon and invested St Philippe, on which the English had expended vast toil, hoping to make to it a second Gibraltar, - a second point of influence in the Mediterranean. A relieving force of seventeen ships, commanded by Admiral Byng, son of the first Lord Torrington, was handled so ill that it was defeated and driven off by the French fleet under La Galissoniere, and shortly afterwards the fort of St Philippe was carried by assault in a very brilliant manner by Richelieu. With it the French became masters of Minorca, and Richelieu returned in glory to Paris. Very different was the reception of Byng in England. There the news of the fall of Minorca had created terrible excitement; the ministry fell, and Pitt took the reins of power in his hands. He and the old Whigs at his back were known to be anxious for vigorous measures, and for a hearty co-operation with Prussia. Byng was sacrificed to the resentment of the people; his incapacity and vacillation in the presence of the enemy were regarded as signs of treason, and he was shot as a traitor. The war, thus favorably began by France, ought to have been carried on by the same lines; her chief strength should have been directed to the sea. If fortune favored her still in the maritime struggle, she might fairly have hoped to win her cause in Canada and India. But the unlucky likings of Madame de Pompadour for Kaunitz and the Austrian alliance threw the country off its right course, and embarked it on a harassing and perilous Continental struggle. At first, though Spain, Poland, and Holland remained neutral, almost all the rest of Europe, - Russia, the elector of Saxony, the German diet, and Sweden, - declared for Austria; and after that Frederick sudden invasion of Saxony in autumn 1756 showed that the war was really begun Louis XV. in January 1757 declared war on him, and openly joined the league for his destruction. Hesse and Brunswick alone supported Frederick. For this France willingly abandoned her success on the sea. She had seen Pitt’s first effort, the attack on Rochefort, fail ignominiously; she had driven off another fleet which threatened St Malo and Havre; she had news of successes in both Canada and India; still, rather than make these omens of fortune her own, she turned aside to invade Hanover, and plunged into the larger war, in which She could never hope to win any real profit for herself. While Frederick was attempting in vain to crush the Austrian by reducing Bohemia, whence he was obliged to retreat after the disastrous battle of Kolin (18th June 1757), the French army, 80,000 strong, and commanded by Marshal D’Estrees, crossed the Rhine, and directed its course towards the Weser. The English and their allies were commanded by the victor of Culloden, the unwieldy duke of Cumberland, who posted them behind the Weser at Hastenbeck; here D’Estrees overtook and defeated him (26th July 1757). The victory was, however, not complete enough to please the French court, with whom D’Estrees was not popular. He was removed, and the duke of Richelieu taking his place pushed the English before him to the Elbe; at Stade the duke of Cumberland was compelled to surrender his army, and to sign the shameful convention of Kloster-Zeven, (8th Sept. 1757), which permitted the defeated Germans to return home. Home also went the duke of Cumberland, shorn of his honors as the savior of the Hanoverian cause; him however, the English did not shoot, as they had shot poor Byng. Marshall Richelieu having thus disposed of his antagonists, deemed that his work was done; it only remained for him to make the most of his conquest in the way of pillage; so instead of marching on Brandenburg, which was almost of troops, he contented himself with extorting a fine fortune from the Westphalians and Hanoverians, with which he built himself a splendid palace at Paris, the Pavilion de Hanovre. This was but a poor result, considering that it was believed that, had he pushed forward, he might have brought the war to an end in one campaign. His selfish indifference to the duties of high generalship wrought the ruin of his cause. While he lingered in Westphalia, the English began to recover from their panic; and Frederick, returning with incredible swiftness out of Saxony, arrested the course of disaster. The French army under Richelieu had been told off to overcome the Anglo-Hanoverian resistance; another army, under the prince of Soubise and the duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen, who commanded the troops of the German circles, was slowly moving towards Berlin, hoping to co-operate with Richelieu’s victorious forces. Their progress, however, was rudely interrupted at Rosbach, on the 5th of November 1757, by Frederick, who caught and utterly ruined them in a battle which cost him almost nothing, and was over in an hour and a half. Rosbach was one of the decisive battles of the world, little as it has been thought of by history. Perhaps it has never happened, before or since, that no hollow and slight a contest has produced such great results. At first seemed like a mere comedy; the crowd of French captive regiments, the spoils of the camp, the bewilderment of the captors, the "host of cooks and players, of wigmakers and wigs and hairdressers, the parasols and cases of lavender water," the absurdly incongruous lumber with which the young French nobles had prepared for war, contrasted strangely with the gaunt and tattered soldiers of Frederick the Great, grim with war, privations, and forced marches. A shout of merriment rang through Germany, and was re-echoed from France herself. The light-hearted French were far from being depressed or vexed by the defeat; in the middle of the 18th century France was utterly indifferent as to glory, and the country saw in Dettingen and Rosbach not its own defeat, but the discomfiture of the frivolous noblesse; to the temper of the times these glaring instances of noble incapacity were rather pleasant than not. The effects of the battle on England were also very marked. It was there seen that Frederick’s cause was not hopeless; and the English Government at once refused to be bound by the convention of Kloster-Zeven, appointing as commander-in-chief, in place of the duke of Cumberland the vigorous and able Ferdinand, duke of Brunswick, one of the best soldiers of the age, who won and thoroughly deserved the respect and confidence even of Frederick the Great/ Hitherto England had sent over nothing but money and the duke; now Pitt undertook to bring 20,000 Englishmen into the field, and henceforth England holds a principal place in the French side of the Seven Years’ War. The greatest, however, of th4e results of the battle of Rosbach was its effect on public and national feeling in north Germany. Hitherto all men of cultivation and thought had turned to France for inspiration; all men of taste and fashion regarded France as the arbiter of their destinies in dress and manners; the French language was alone polite in courts and good society; the German tongue was counted rude and barbarous; Frederick the Great himself, the very champion of Germany against France, of modern freedom of thought against his Catholic opponents, the odd "Protestantium Defensor" of his medals, could never bring himself to speak or write German if it could be avoided. But after Rosbach the older fashion passed away; French manners, which before had seemed so beautiful, were now seen to be corrupt and frivolous; the slower Germans saw that their own manners and tongue were worth something; from the battle of Rosbach begins that up springing of a national life in north Germany, which finds immediate expression in the splendid new-born literature of the day, of which the most direct and marked example is the Minna von Barnhelm of Lessing. In this way then, the battle of Rosbach is an epoch in the national history of Europe. It restored the fortunes of Frederick the Great, and roused a new sense of national patriotism in the North-German peoples.

After 1757 the Seven Years’ War may be considered as having two chief yheatres, - that of Frederick against Austria, and that of England with Hanover and Brunswick against France and the lesser German princes, the "army of the circles." It is with the latter only that we have to do. In 1758 France made great effort to reorganize her armies, and fit them for decisive action in Low Germany. A new commander-in-chief, the count of Clermont, a weak offshoot of the great house of Conde, replaced Richelieu; Soubise, whose favor at court endured to the end of the reign of Louis XV., and who was the only courtier who ventured to escort that monarch’s remains to the grave, was placed at the head of a new army. Under these two generals the court hoped to achieve good results in this campaign. The two main armies were directed, the one towards the Rhine, the other towards the Weser; that of the Rhine, under Clermont, had the strong position of Wesel, now in French hands, as a base of operation, and proposed to push on thence into Hanover, joining the other army under Soubise, which was to advance along the Weser through the Hessian country. Before, however, they could draw their scattered forces together, the new general of the allies, Ferdinand of Brunswick, was on them, and in a campaign which Frederick the Great did not hesitate to compare with that of Turenne in Alsace, he succeeded in dislodging Clermont from Brunswick. He speedily cleared the line of the Weser, recovering Minden, and driving the French under Clermont to the westward. They made no stand, and when they reached the Rhine at Dusseldorf, succeeded in crossing the river only with heavy loss of prisoners, - for Ferdinand stuck of their skirts like an avenging fury, and at last caught them at Credeld, a little town between the Rhine and the Meuse, not far from Dusseldorf, where he inflicted on them a defeat which covered Clermont with discredit, and utterly ruined the prospects of the campaign. The Germans had now driven the French out of Hanover, Brunswick, and the Rhine provinces; Clermont was recalled, and withdrew into private life. He and his antagonist Ferdinand were both freemasons, and both had sympathies with the philosophical and political ferment of the age; yet the Masonic brotherhood had not hindered Ferdinand from punishing him very severely in this campaign. Marshal Contades, a really good general, was sent to take command of the beaten forces; and Soubise, having won the battle of Sondershausen, and having taken Cassel, threatened Ferdinand’s rear, while a reorganized army under Contades endangered his communications on the Rhine; they were twice as numerous as the forces he could bring against them, and he was obliged to draw back on Munster, giving up the whole left bank of the Rhine. There he hindered the junction of the two French armies, and compelled Contades to retreat again beyond the Rhine; while Soubise withdrew to the Maine, and lay for the winter about Frankfort and hanau. So ended the German campaign of 1758, into which the French Government had thrown all its strength, and had once more got in return nothing but discredit, while the other interests of the country had been left to drift to ruin. The English fleets harassed the coasts of France, destroyed ships, burnt building-yards, took Cherbourg, and paralyzed her whole naval force. Abroad, she did nothing for the vital contests her sons were waging; the English took Senegal on one hand, and, in spite of the ability of Montcalm, mastered Louisburg, and Fort Du Quesne on the Ohio which they renamed Pittsburg. At the same time the struggle in India, which had begun to turn against France, was restored by the brilliant courage of an Irish Jacobite, Lally, whom the French court named governor general. On his arrival he at once effected wonders, recovering the ground the French had lost; he vaunted that no Englishman should be left in the Peninsula. But Lally, brave and brilliant as he was, was also harsh and impetuous, arousing ill-will even by his good qualities. Nothing offended his subordinates so much as his refusal to allow them to pillage at will; and the bright opening of his career in India was very soon clouded over by disputes and insubordination among his officers, which foretold a coming failure.

The mishaps of 1758 on every side at last awoke the Abbe Bernis from his dreams of security and glory, and that obsequious churchman, the henchman of Pompadour, in his cowardly alarm, instead of trying to repair the evil done, withdrew to bis bishoqricx of Aix, giving place to an abler statesman, the duke of Choiseil, one of the most unfortunate of the noble ministers who have ever presided over the affairs of France. His first act was the signature of a second treaty of Versailles, in which he and Madame de Pompadour committed France to terms which plainly meant that France should bear the chief burdens of the war, while Austria should win all the fruit. For she promised to keep 100,000 men on foot, to support the whole Swedish contingent, to restore the elector of Saxony, to defend the Austrian Netherlands, and to support the candidature of Joseph, eldest son of Maria Theresa, for the title of Rex Romanorum, and the succession to his father in the empire, and finally to make no peace with England till Prussia had restored Silesia to Austria. With this amazing treaty France again went stupidly down into the contest, as an ox to the shambles.

In 1759 the old blunders were again repeated; all was abandoned for the sake of the German campaigns; the Rhine army under Contades lay in the Cleves country; the Maine army near Frankfort was commanded by the duke of Broglie, who had already given sufficient proof of his incompetence at Rosbach. Between these armies, watching both, and purposing to hinder their junction, and, if he could, to beat them in detail, lay Ferdinand of Brunswick, now reinforced with twelve thousand English and Scottish soldiers, who had joined him in the last autumn. He thought himself strong enough to attack Broglie, but was repulsed with loss at the battle of Bergen on the Nidda, a few miles from Frankfort; and Broglie, made a marshal for this success, succeded in effecting a junction with Contades at Giessen; thence they advanced together to the Weser, occupying one place after another. At Minden they paused before pushing on to overrun Hanover, while Ferdinand, having gathered all his forces together, came down to observe and check them. Differences arose between Contades and Broglie; the latter was successful, popular, incapable; the former a good officer, whom the fatality which had beset the French court since the later days of Louis XIV. had thrown into the cold shade; the two were hardly likely to work well together. Ferdinand took advantage of their errors, and (1st August 1759) with much smaller numbers an the worse position, ventured on a great battle at Minden. The English regiments of foot, with unheard of audacity, charged and overthrew the French cavalry, which, with amazing ineptitude, had been placed in the center, as if it were the most solid part of the army. Had Lord George Sackville, who commanded the English horse, done his duty also, the whole French army might have been destroyed or made prisoners. As it was, the exploit of the "Minden regiments" rang through Europe; and the French army, hastily evacuating its positions, fell back to the Maine. Contades, the good general, was of course punished; broglie remained in command. Later on, he showed his gratitude to the Bourbons by opposing the Revolution as an émigré. Henceforward Ferdinand was able to hold his own in western Germany, and England felt secure for Hanover. The French went on placing huge armies in the field for the rest of the war; yet thanks to "the most perfect incapacity," as Napoleon once said, of Broglie and Soubise, this great force achieved nothing, and succeeded only in still further discrediting the noblesse and the monarchy, while it exhausted with fearful speed the resources of the country. Nor did France pay the price here only; her efforts in Germany still hindered her from attending to her interests elsewhere; the disasters of her navy went on; her influence in Canada and India declined day by day. An attempt to invade England in 1759 failed completely; the battle of Quiberon Bay, and the cowardice of Conflans who commanded there, ruined the French navy; a squadron sent out to harass the coasts of Scotland and northern England, under Thurot, a real sailor, was attacked early in 1760 by a stronger force; Thurot was killed, the squadron captured, and so the French naval power came to an end. Henceforward, no help could pass from France to the outlying scenes of conflict. Point by point the English had advanced in Canada, until (Setpember 13, 1759) the battle of Quebec, which proved fatal to both Wolfe and the brave Montcalm, finally decided the destinies of North America. That victory gave to England the ascendancy over Canada, and secured to the sons of the Puritans the eventual mastery over the rest of that great continent. The fall of Montreal in 1760 was the close of the struggle. In India also French affairs had gone very ill in these days; the quarrel between Lally and Admiral d’Ache increased in bitterness; the English finally captured even Pondicherry, the last remaining stronghold of the French in India. This year 1759, on the whole, the most disastrous in all the annals of France; it proclaimed with a clear voice to all who would hear that the days of the ancient monarchy were numbered . The monarchy could not defend France abroad, it was dying of debt and corruption at home. It was little help to France that in 1760 the unhappy Lally, whom men in their vexation accused of treason, was brought home, tried, and shamefully executed at Paris. It was not on him that the eventual punishment would fall; in 1778 the generous voice of Voltaire made France confess her injustice, and restore to honor the name of the unfortunate and brilliant Irishman. His son Lally-Tollendal gave to the fallen monarchy a loyalty and support it surely little deserved from him.

Changes now began which pointed towards peace. The accession of George III. shook the power of Pitt; in France the subtle address of Choiseul had carried all before him, and he at last saw his way, too late, to reverse the direction which the efforts of France had hitherto taken. The war in Germany, always a blunder, should become of secondary importance; the active friendship of Spain and other Bourbon princes should restore something of the old sea-power of France. The king of Spain had also found out his folly in remaining neutral, while England grew to be supreme on the water; and consequently in 1761 the famous "Family Compact," the Bourbon league, was signed by all the sovereigns of the house of Bourbon. By it they made alliance offensive and defensive, guaranteeing the territories of one another, promising to support each other and to make no separate peace or war, throwing open reciprocally all their harbours and frontiers, and declaring that for war or peace, for trade or pleasure, France, Spain, Naples and Sicily, Parma and Piacenza, should count as but one country, one land blessed by Bourbons, and led by their great chief Louis XV. Here was a splendid scheme for the reconstruction of European politics! It was the Latin races clasped together by the Bourbon family, and determined to reassert their importance in Europe. Had the family compact been signed three years earlier, or had there been one man of real power among the Bourbons, its result might have been serious for the rest of the world; as it was, the chief effect of it was the resignation of Pitt, and the half-burlesque ministry of Lord Bute. For Pitt got some inkling of this secret compact, and, confirmed in his suspicions by the equivocall language of the Spanish court, urged on his colleagues the necessity of declaring instant war on Spain, so as to crush her fleets before France could come to her help. But George III. would none of it; the ministers refused to take the bold step, not having the justification for it in their hands; and Pitt threw up the seals of office. When the compact became known to the world in 1762. England justified Pitt’s foresight by at once declaring war; in a few months the Spanish navy had ceased to exist; and France lost her West-Indian Islands one after another. Bute with the young king stood aghast at the series of brilliant triumphs which signalized their efforts to bring war to an end. Meanwhile the French armies in Germany continued an inglorious if not any longer a disastrous career. In 1760, 1761, 1762, they still occupied Hesse and the Rhine country, fighting a few battles with varying success, and displaying in the clearest light the incapacity of their leaders. Negotiations for peace went on through 1762 between France and England, and before the year ended the preliminaries of peace had been signed, just in time to save Soubise with his 80,000 men from being ignominiously driven out of Hesse-Cassel. Frederick the Great, thus abandoned by George III., was also ready for peace. In February 1763 the two treaties of Paris between France and England, Spain and Portugal, and of Hubertsburg between Prussia and Austria with Saxony were signed, and closed the Seven Years’ War. To French historians it had seemed, as Michelet ventures to call it, "an ignoble war"; a record of blunders and follies, met by shouts of derision at home; for the French people were, at the time, as much amused with the downfall of their incapable nobility as if they had belonged to a totally different race. it was as if they wished to ay to Europe that these defeats and scandals were not the defeat of the French people, but of an intrusive clique of strangers; it was also as if the inextinguishable gaiety of the nation could find even the ruin of the country comical. Doubtless, in more or less unconscious fashion, France felt that the war had brought the domination of the Bourbon monarchy and its noble flatterers nearer to an end.





A summary of the stipulation of the peace of Paris shows at a glance how low France had fallen, how futile had been the Family Compact. She ceded all her claims to Nova Scotia, Canada, Cape Breton, reserving only her fishing rights and some small islands useful for that industry; she ceded all the territory lay between the English settlements along the Atlantic and the line of the river Mississippi; she ceded the islands of Grenada, Saint Vincent Dominique, Tobago. She received back Pondicherry, and a certain district on the east coast of India; she gave up Minorca, the one flower she had plucked in all the war; to England, and withdrew all her troops out of Germany. England came out chief gainer from the war; her development in these years was immense. To this time we owe the maritime supremacy of this country, and the spread of the English language and race to every shore. We have good reason to be proud of it, and to read with kindling eye the chronicle of our incessant advances. Yet it has, too, its dark side; a world filled with pushing English men could scarcely be a paradise; there are races which object to being thrust aside; there are civilizations which English commonplace cannot supercede; the dull self-satisfaction of ordinary "Anglo-Saxonism" is at least as offensive as the livelier "Chauvinisme" of our neighbors.

In the eleven uneventful years which form the remainder of Louis XV’s reign the characteristics of the 18th century displayed themselves with clearness, and we shall do well to pass them briefly in review. In them we shall recognize at once most of the germs of those movements of the Revolution-era, towards, which affairs in France had long been tending. To begin at the top; - the court was so corrupt that we must go to the history of the most Oriental despots for a parallel. The king, coldly dissolute, idle, careless as of everything except his scandalous pleasures, and the direction of foreign affairs, which he kept in his own hands, shut himself up at Versailles, leaving Madame de Pompadour to manage everything, even the details of his own debaucheries; the infamous Parc aux Cerfs spread shame and misery among hundreds of families, and added heavily to the financial difficulties of the time. No member of the royal family was of any mark; the pious queen lived neglected and forgotten; the dauphin, whom the king disliked, because he did not wish to be reminded of his successor, was a friend of he Jesuits; there was no other prince of consideration. Consequently, all fell into Madame de Pompadour’s hands; and till her death in 1764 she too might well have cried "L’etat, c’est moi." And if the princes of the blood were ciphes, still more so were the nobles, - a needy well-bred throng, if of the older race, an obsequious and despicable crowd, if of the newer creations. To a large extent this proud noblesse was quite modern; for a long time noble feids had been changing hands rapidly; and as citizens grew wealthy they bought themselves into the sacred circle of privilege. No love of country, no desire to devote themselves or to resign their rights, existed in a body which had been steadily degraded by Louis XIV., had been tempted into display which meant debt, and had been carefully kept away from their estates, les social independence should lead them to think and act for themselves. The more embarrassed and dependent they were, the better pleased was the spirit of absolutism, which thought it natural that they should crowd the army and disgrace the country in war by their vices, frivolities, and imbecility. When at last they had to stand up, face to face with the crisis of the Revolution, they were absolutely unable to defend themselves; their pride and poverty alike forbade them to sacrifice their privilege, and to submit to taxation with their fellow subjects. The clergy were cut asunder, and had a divided existence. The prelates, bishops and dignitaries, and the religious houses, on the one hand, were in all essential respects on the footing of the nobles, and took part with them. They, too, were privileged landholders, who could inflict heavy burdens on the people, while they would bear no weight on their own shoulders. These are the privileged classes, who brought about the revolution. The king and his court, the nobles, and the upper clergy, - these chiefly caused it, and these were the chief sufferers from it. The rest of the clergy were a very different race; they were simple cures, parish priests, by birth and interest allied with the people, not with their lords, - men whose meaner position gave them a chance of being and doing good. Arthur Young, who traveled through France on the eve of the Revolution, bears witness t their general excellence and devotion to their duties. The burgher class in France had grown wealthier; manufactures were not unknown; trade increased rapidly; financiers, money-lenders, new nobles sprang from this class; the public creditor in these days grew to be a power in the state, very far removed from the peasant on the soil or the fierce artisan in towns, and yet advancing the revolutionary current by producing many of the writers, and much of the general intelligence of the time. By the side of them we may place the legal profession, that conservative body, which struggled in vain against all invasions of ancient usage, whether from the side of king or of people, and which in the end gave many victims and some leaders to the Revolution. In the country the state of the people was wretched, though it is true that in many districts the soil was already much subdivided, and the peasant proprietors numerous. It was reckoned that about a quarter of the soil was in their hands; yet their condition was little the better for this. Their burdens were still very heavy, their knowledge and methods of tillage rude; they had no capital to expend on the land, no good tools, no cattle, no manures; winter after winter they fell to famine-level, and sustained a miserable existence till the sun again revived them, and sent them forth once more to labor in the fields. Fortunately, the French winter is short; if, however, a long winter did set in, as in 1709, or again at the beginning of the Revolution, then the sufferings of the people were extreme, and multitude perished of cold and hunger. The feudal aids and services-the corvee, the "pigeon-right." The game laws, the common winepress, and common mill, and a hundred other oppressive and even fantastic services – left the peasant no rest, and forbade him ever to hope for comfort. As he gained in intelligence, and rose above the dead level of ignorance in which his masters had carefully kept him, he saw more and more to vex and anger him; as the people gained, they became more ripe for revolution. The robber bands in central France, and the inability of the authorities to cope with them; the growth of a large class of restless spirits, who dimly echoed some of the theories of the philosophers, and practiced a pew and lawless method of distribution of property, by robbing and destroying as they could; the diminution of population in the country, and the tendency of the land in the less fruitful parts to relapse into a wilderness, - these things all go to prove the wretchedness of the peasant life, and were all ominous of change. These conditions of the country and the improvements of the burgher class, brought on another change, which was little noticed at the time, though it afterwards forced itself on the attention of all Europe. For miles round Paris it became known that there was work to be had in the capital. In the 18th century Paris changed her character; no longer a mere court-seat or city of pleasure, she had gradually become a great manufacturing center, and into her flowed crowds of dissatisfied or starving folk from all the country round. This immigration went on down to the great outbreak. It largely increased the city population, provided the rough material for the excesses of the Revolution, and helped to stamp the mark of Paris on the whole republican movement. It is hardly too much to say that the want of money at court, combined with the want of food in cottage, brought about the explosion. These were the social and physical conditions of ferment, - the intellectual movement which dignified the Revolution with great names and imbued it with grand ideas demands brief independent notice.

The literature of the Great Monarch’s time is usually assumed to be the golden age of letters in France. Yet if power and effect on the destinies of men and states be taken as the test, the literature of the 18th century far surpasses that of the 17th. Moliere and racine had been at the beck of the court. They never appealed to the people; still less would the lofty muse of Corneille care to speak to common ears. But in the 18th century, by the side of the superstructure of society falling fast to pieces, and the oppressed substructure, growing daily more restless, the authors formed a third and an independent power, eager to push on the ideas of the age, as they found expression in sciences or practical matters, or as they formulated an easy philosophy or announced as startling novelties the earliest commonplaces of political rule. And the significant fact is that these simple rules of political life were really a revelation to France, and for the first time set her people thinking on such matters. So completely had the country ceased to be a political body, - so completely had the pernicious principles of Louis XIV. destroyed liberty and constitutional life that all had to be begun again; and the field seemed open, as well for what appear to us to be the most harmless commonplaces, as for the most startling speculations and theories. The difficulty was that to France the one was just as new and strange as the other. It must never be forgotten that the Revolution called or her not to amend a constitution, but to make a fresh start, from the very beginning. Moreover, this state of things necessarily placed literature in opposition to all existing powers. The ancient faith, the old traditions of noble lordship, the learning of the lawyers, all alike were attacked with unsparing hand; and literature built up for itself a strong public opinion of its own among the classes which had hitherto been as nothing in the government of the country. The 18th century literature of France received its first impulses from England. The age of Queen Anne, the advance of philosophy and natural sciences and of letters in England, the quickened connection between the two countries in the days of the regency, had enormous influence on intelligent Frenchmen. Montesquieu, a nobleman and a lawyer, with the temper of a constitutional statesman, was the advocate of political liberty, after the English pattern. Voltaire became the champion of toleration and freedom of conscience, and had learnt from Locke; the Encyclopedists, following the English leaders in natural science, wrote their vast dictionary of human knowledge, in opposition to all established beliefs; and lastly, Rousseau, the sentimentalist, addressed himself to the sympathies of the people, and was, in the end, the chief teacher of those who carried out the revolution. Voltaire began his literary life in 1718, with his Cedipus, an attack on priestcraft.. He had been brought up by the Jesuits, and yearned to attack them; in 1725 his Henriade exalted, Henry IV., afterwards the hero of all Frenchmen in the revolution, at the cost of Louis XIV; then he was in England for three years, and came back full of English deism and English humanitarianism. Henceforth his life passed in alternate attacks on courts and adulation of them; he withdrew at last into the Genevan territory, whence he directed the defence of the oppressed, if they fired his sympathies. Thence also he encouraged the progress of the Encycloepdie, which, more than anything, undermined the shaking fabric of society. Meanwhile Montesquieu, in his Esprit des Lois (1748), as well as in his previous work on The Greatness and Fall of the Romans (1734), appeared as a first master of modern French style, and as a champion of English constitutionalism of opposition to the despotism of France. Though his works have been perhaps more popular in England than in France, their effect on educated opinion was still very strong. His views did not prevail in the Revolution-period; still, they had no small influence destructively, by pointing out to Frenchmen how indefensible was the government under which they were willing to live. "The Espirt des Lois" said Count Grimm n 1756, "has produced a complete revolution in the mind of the nation. The best heads in this country (France) for the last seven or eight years have been turned towards objects of importance and utility. Government is becoming more and more a matter of philosophic treatment and discussion." The writers on political economy also deeply influenced the tone of the age; their doctrines effectually disposed of the faulty maxims on which financial had been conducted since the days of Colbert, and prepared men to see the importance of Turgot’s plans, and the significance of Necker’s Compte rendu. Lastly, Jean Jacques Rousseau, the clockmaker’s son from Geneva, began his seductive strains. Musician and sentimentalist, he hit the right tone for the popular ear; between 1759 and 1762 he published the Nouvelle Heloise, the Contrat Social, and the Emile; the Contrat was greedily devoured by society, high and low, as a revelation of a new code of politics, in which he boldly affirmed the sovereignty of the people, and the equality of all men, all being born free. His Emile was an attack on all existing ideas as to education; nature should take the place of the schoolmaster; and the priest and philosopher should alike be kept aloof from the training ground for men and women, - for Rousseau was as little tolerant of the Encyclopedists and their science as of the Jesuits and their religion. Lastly, his Heloise dealt with the moral code of mankind, subverting many ideas, filled with noble, often impracticable sentiments, and leaving the impression of change and uncertainly even in those subjects which seemed least open to difficulty. He appealed to men’s conscience and sense of right against the ruling vices and selfish immoralities of the day; and men, seeing these glaring evils sanctioned by the presence of the priesthood, if not by its participation, warmly adopted the new ideas, and desired a revolution in morals as much as in religion or politics. It was the outcry of nature against the infinite falsenesses of a complex and corrupt society. The great Encyclopedie was managed chiefly by D’Alembert and Diderot; the former traced it ground plan, and wrote the preface and some mathematical treatises, while the latter supervised it, an d acted as the chief editor. The general tendency of the work was to attack religion, and to substitute in its place the conclusions of modern science; with D’Alembert and Diderot worked Helvetius the materialist, Holbach, Grimm. Raynal, and Condorcet, of whom the last represents that passion for man, that warmth of heart and sentiment, which draws him somewhat near to Rousseau. Among the great writers of the time must not be omitted the harmonious Buffon, who laid before his countrymen a splendid sketch of the material world and of the creatures that inhabit it. It is the work of a poet rather than of a scientific student: we find a cosmogony, an eloquent picture of man and man’s fellow-dwellers on the globe, if written with truthfulness or not we need not ask; at any rate, with skill and power he enlargers men’s horizon. He too can praise God in his works, and in so doing can leave the established beliefs on one side. In all the literature of the age we see new grounds for speculation on every stage; theology, letters, sciences, natural history, politics, constitutional ideas, morality, all alike are grappled with by writers who shake m themselves clear of existing trammels. Rejoicing in a new freedom, they familiarize the younger generation of France with revolutionary ideas in every line, and render the coming explosion more complete and more permanent than any movement that the world has seen since the first preaching of the gospel to mankind.

At the close of the Seven Years’ War the Society of Jesus was on its trial throughout Europe. The Order had changed its ground; it had long ruled in king’s courts, and was paying the price of the means by which it had gained ascendancy therein; it had become both rich and troublesome to society. And the general tendencies of the times were against it; above all, it incurred the deadly hostility of those enlightened ministers who, in almost every court of Europe, were directing the new-born energies of states. Such men as Pombat in Portugal or Choiseul in France could not but resist Jesuit influences which clashed with their own, whether these regarded the interests of courts or the welfare of peoples. In 1762 the parliament of Paris, - influenced largely by Madame de Pompadour, took their affairs, which had become secular enough, into its consideration, and decreed that the Order should be abolished. Louis XV., after some hesitation, confirmed their decision in 1764, and the Order was expelled from France. It is significant of the general movement of the period that the other Catholic powers speedily did the same, until in 1773 Pope Clement XIV. (Ganganelli) finally suppressed the Order.

On the death of Madame de Pompadour in 1764, Choiseul still continued to hold the chief direction of affairs. His ministry, besides his belated foreign policy of the pacte de famille, was noted for more than one solid reform; he reorganized the army, instituted the Ecole militaire, saw to the progress, so far as he could, of the navy, encouraged colonization, and in 1768 united Corsica to France. He represent the philosophic spirit at court, in antagonism to the Jesuit party, an the favor of Madame de Pompadour more than neutralized the king’s dislike to him, - for Louis XV. was very jealous of any interference with the one branch of government in which he took interest, foreign affairs; and in these Choiseul was ambitious, if not very successful. So things went on till 1770, when a new mistress made the ground untenable for him. The low-born beauty, Madame du Barry, was the tool of all intriguers, and gained unbounded influence over the worn-out king. Choiseul an the Jansenists, who had enjoyed a brief tranquility after the fall of the Jesuits, now went out of favor; the parliaments, which Madame de Pompadour had used and favored, were exiled, and in their stead came a new system of administration of law. The old purchase system, which gave stability to the parliaments, and dated from early Bourbon times, was swept away, and royal nominees were set to fulfill the functions of the parliaments. It was thought that the change from officials by purchase to officials by royal grace would be welcome. France, however, distrusted them, and said that the "gratuitous justice" so much vaunted, meant nothing but injustice guided by gratuities.

Louis XV. lived long enough to see the first partition of Poland (1772), that great blow to French influences in the north; nor could his interference hinder the signature of the peace of Kainardji in 1774, by which Russia, supported by England, got hold of the Black Sea shores. His effort to seize the Netherlands, as a counterpoise to these rapid additions to the strength of the northern powers, was a complete failure.

In the same year 1774 Louis XV. died, - died as he had lived in flagrant vice. His reign of nearly fifty years had been a continual misfortune for France. During the period she is brilliant only in her literature, and even there we are conscious of something unwholesome and unnatural.

Some years before this the dauphin had died, leaving a young son, Louis, who was married in 1770 to Marie Antoinette, daughter of Maria Theresa of Austria. This young couple, handsome and well-meaning, now came to the throne in 1774, inheritors of the terrible destiny which Louis XV. had prepared for his grandchildren. He, cold and selfish, had foreseen the coming tempest; but "it will last my time," he said, and cared no more about it, he felt as little of his grandson as for his country. In the midst of the scandals of the court Louis XVI. had preserved his purity, and with it a charming simplicity which, while it seemed likely to render the difficulties of his position less, seemed also likely to arouse men’s sympathies for him, and find him friends in need. And in later days, when he deserved it less, men, even while they struggled against him, often fondly called him "their good king." He loved his people, as a good despot might, and tried to mitigate their misery in famine-times; his kindliness, however, was but weakness-his simplicity stupidity; he was obstinate and yet not firm; and his good and bad qualities alike made him incapable of grappling with the new phenomena of society which broke on his astonished sight. We find that in that in the most thrilling moments of his history, his chief anxiety often was how he might get out to his hounds. Marie Antoinette was a very different personage; she had much of her mother’s high spirit; she as always a foreigner in France In the early days of her beauty, when all Frenchmen were inclined to worship chivalrously at her feet, she shocked them by laughing at usages which seemed to them the ordinary course of nature. As time went on it was plainly seen that she came between the king and his tendencies towards reform; that she formed a court-party of her own, made and unmade ministers with no regard for the feelings of France, and no preferences except for the worse over the better public servants; that she more than neutralized all the king’s economical wishes, and was extravagant and reckless; that in the crisis of affairs she led the king away from his subjects, and taught him to rely on German help. And so, while the virtues of Louis XVI. may have retarded the revolutionary outbreak for a few years, his weaknesses and the character of his spouse made the eventual explosion all the more complete and terrible.

The opening of the reign was a period of hope; all seemed to go so well. The king and queen themselves were no common mortals; so young, so innocent, so graceful, they formed a strange contrast to the gloomy selfishness of the past. And roused by a gleam of hope, literature itself also passed into sentimental idylls; the court was itself idyllic; at the Little Trianon the king and queen played at farm and mill; the unreadable sentimentalities of Florian were the delight of Versailles; the innocent pictures of Gessner’s pen had a great popularity; they days of Paul and Virginia were not far off. These things occupied and deluded the upper world; the middle world smiled in bitterness over the keen satires of Beaumarchais; the lower world starved and turned uneasily on its frozen couch. The well-meant attempts of the court to administer charities, "to make little alms and great galas," as Michelet phrases it only served, still more to irritate the discontented crowd.

At first all seemed well; the ministers of Louis XV., obscure and corrupt, vanished; some gleam of prosperity shoneon agriculture, and the court was inclined to reduce the disorders of finance. No able statesman could the king find at the beginning; he was obliged to trust to Maurepas, a frivolous and incompetent old man, who did the state one great service, for he led Louis XVI. to entrust the finances to Turgot. Turgot was a disciple of the economists, who had worked miracles of prosperity as intendant of the Limoges district, - a man of good faith, high character, and ability; but like many others, he thought that what seemed so simple to him would at once comment itself to all, and entirely underrated the resistance which the interested noblesse and the court itself would make to his reforms. He at once proposed his remedies for the evils of the time, - the only true remedies – economy and the abolition of privilege. The state should spend less, and should draw its supplies from all orders of men alike. To the court and the nobles this seemed revolution and ruin; even the king was startled. Instead of supporting his minister manfully, he recalled the banished parliaments, and thought to shelter himself behind the law. The lawyers, however, special lovers of use and privilege, felt instinctively that Turgot was their foe; from that moment his fate was sealed. A great league was formed against him; the powerful help of the scandalous pacte de famine, the grain-ring which had been established with the approval and participation of Louis XV., was enlisted in behalf of the privileged orders; a famine ensued in 1775, and lasted three years. Louis XVI. was frightened; all seemed to be against him; and at last in 1776 he dismissed his one great minister. "Turgot and I are the only men in France who care for the people," was the king’s mournful complaint; it was time that the people should begin to care for themselves.

Jacques Necker, an ingenious Genevan banker, who seemed to have the art of creating resources, now became finance minister. He was a high-typed charlatan, who grasped no principles, tried no heroic remedies, but thought only how to make credit and float the country over its difficulties. Unfortunately for him, the strain of war expenditure was added to his added to his other burdens, for France was moved by her fate to take part in the American struggle now beginning. Necker’s idea was that he might stave off the imminent bankruptcy of the state with paper and credit, and that, to be successful in this, he must lay the proper foundations of credit knowledge and honesty in dealing. With this end before him, he wished from the beginning to issue his Compte rendu, and thereby to let France know how she really stood. This, however, he could not at first carry through, so that he was obliged to borrow for the state on his own credit, and to shift as he best might. People trusted him, and he crossed no angry and alarmed interest; but for the American war, he might have held out a considerable time. The war, however, was growing urgent. At first it had been volunteer work; for young French nobles, fired with a new zeal for liberty, went over to support the colonist in their struggle; and though the court at first was afraid of war, thanks to its embarrassments, it could only look with favor on this new sea-power rising up to counterbalance the overbearing supremacy of England. The most noted of the volunteers was the Marquis de Lafayette, who manned a frigate at his own cost. The Saratoga disaster in 1777 made more active measures necessary; the Americans were enthusiastic, and France, pushed by the popularity of the war at court, made a treaty of alliance and trade with the colonists early in 1778. Then began a great maritime struggle. England declared war on France, and tried to raise up embarrassments for her in Germany; but the skilful diplomacy of Vergennes, foreign minister of France, arranged the peace of Teschen (may 1779), thereby avoiding a great European war, and also, in all probability, securing the independence of the United States; fore it freed France from anxiety by land, and enabled her to push on her war at sea. An alliance with Spain against England followed. The war lasted about five years, and was marked at first by a striking revival of vigor in the French navy. The sea fight off Suhant (July 1778), though it did not enable the French admiral D’Orvilliers to claim an actual victory, had revived hope and confidence in the country. The war was waged in five theatres, - in the Channel, at Gibraltar, in North America, in the West Indies, and in India. The French attack on Gibraltar in 1779 was entirely foiled by the strength of the place and the ability of Elliot; the threatened descent on the English shored came to nothing; in the West Indies D’Estaing defeated Admiral Byron. In 1780, however, the English roused themselves, and their more real strength began to appear. Rodney defeated the Franco-Spanish fleet, relieving Gibraltar and Minorca from blockade; them sailing for the West Indies, he helped the English cause against the insurgent colonists and their friends. At this time a new and powerful engine was set in motion against England; it was in 1780 that the system of the Armed Neutrality, in which French diplomacy had a hand, was proclaimed by Catherine II. of Russia. Freedom of navigation for all was asserted. England had insisted on visiting neutral ships, and on confiscating all warlike munitions; she defined these by a long list of articles possibly useful to a belligerent, such as timber or iron, out of which ships could be built. The contention of the empress was that the flag protects the cargo; also that neutral ships, if escorted by a neutral war ship, are free from visitation, and that a "paper-blockade," – that is a blockade announced but not supported by a sufficient force, - is not be recognized as real. France, Prussia, Spain, Denmark, and Sweden, the kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Austria, all adhered to the Russian proclamation, and equipped armed ships to assert this new and liberal maritime code. When Holland also joined the other states, England at once declared war on her, and crushed her without mercy. As an immediate result, the French navy seemed to secure the ascendant in every quarter. De Grasse defeated Howe in the West Indies, and sailed thence to support Washington and Rochambeau against Lord Cornwallis. The combination was thoroughly successful, ending in the famous capitulation of York Town (October 1781), which indicated that the struggle between England and her colonies must soon end in the discomfiture of the mother-country. In 1782, however, things seemed to go better with England: in India affairs looked brighter; Rodney defeated De Grasse off Saintes in the Antitlles; Gibraltar held out firmly, though Minorca had fallen. Later in the year England made peace with the colonists, and recognized the independence of the United States; it was felt that the new Rockingham ministry would be willing to make peace with France. And France, much as she had distinguished herself in the war, was too much exhausted to wish to push it further. The sea-rights of Europe had been asserted against England; America had secured her freedom; France had played a brilliant part, with one hand protecting Holland, and with the other giving independence to the United States; she, too, was quite ready for peace. In September 1783 the treaty of Versailles was signed between France, England, and Spain. England restored to Holland the main part of her conquests, ceded Minorca and Florida to Spain, and to France her Indian possessions, confirming also the stipulation of the peace of Utrecht Dunkirk. On the same day England also solemnly recognized the independence of the young republic of the West.
France came out of the war with honor on all hands; as champion of liberty abroad, as founder of republics as apostle of new ideas, she could scarcely be expected to feel a stronger attachment than before for own despotic monarchy. The contrast was all against the old regime, and the heavy debts incurred in carrying on the war had added greatly to the embarrassment of the crown. Moreover, Necker was gone. He had struggled hard against the inherent difficulties of his position and the persistent hostility of the court; at last he had persuaded Louis XVI. to let him issue his balance sheet, the famous Compte rendu, early in 1781. The document, afterwards shown to be erroneous on the side of hope, was an offence to the spending classes, an assault on their privilege, a kind of act of treason in their eyes; that the king should keep accounts, and lay them, before his people, was in their view scandalous; from the moment it appeared Necker’s fate was sealed. The Compte rendu was more clear than convincing; it made out an actual surplus of ten million livres; and Necker hoped that, seeing this, confidence would recover, and, like a prophecy of good, the Compte rendu would then accomplish its own statements and make a solid surplus. For France in these years had certainly been growing richer and stronger; the duties on objects of consumption had increased two million livres a year; and Arthur Young declared that "in these late days the advance of maritime commerce has been more rapid in France than in England. Commerce has doubled in twenty years." Necker had therefore a sound basis to go on; but the court could not endure life on such terms, and in May 1781 he had to resign office. From this time the queen’s influence was omnipotent over the feeble king. She ruled with a succession of obscure and incompetent ministers, - first Joli de Fleury, then D’Ormesson, who, when he resigned office, left only about 14,400 pounds in the treasury, after having borrowed nearly 14,000,000 pounds sterling in two years and a half. These men were followed by the "ladies’ minister," – the Fouquet of that age, even as Necker had been its Law, - Calonne, the "enchanter," the "model minister," as the court styled him. He found "two little bags of gold, with 1200 francs in each, in the royal treasury," – a rather slight foundation to begin upon. "There was," he says, "neither money nor credit; the current debts of the crown were immense, the income pledged far in advance, the resources dried up, public property valueless, the coin of the realm impoverished and withdrawn from circulation- the whole, in a word, on the very verge of bankruptcy." His idea was to mend matters by a gay and profuse expenditure; the queen should have whatever she wanted; "waste is the true alms-giving of kings" again became a state-maxim; and all things should go on merrily, from minute to minute. So the great annual deficit continued unchecked. In the autumn of 1786 Calonne himself, in spite of his lively expedients and "gaiety of heart," as he dragged the nation to its ruin, was forced to admit that the finances were in a hopeless state. He seemed to think that the privileged orders, which had so praised and petted him, would be flexible to one they knee to be their friend, and induced Louis XVI, to call an assembly of notables in 1787, before whom he laid the state of the finances and his proposals for reform. For forty years finance had been steadily going wrong; the deficit, which began in 1739, was a million and a third per annum in 1764; was, even in Necker’s days, well over two millions; by 1786 had increased to more than six millions and a half; the best estimate Calonne could make for 1787 involved a deficit of five million pounds. since Necker had come to power the total loans had amounted to fifty million pounds. calonne, with irrestistible force, argued from this that the ruin of the privileged classes impended. The argument was so unpleasant that they would not see it. He proposed that the taille, tax should be levied equally on all; that the odious right of corvee, which took the peasant’s labor, and brought him under subjection to the lord, the intendant, and the money-lender, also should be swept away; that there should be free trade in grain, so that another pacte de famine might be impossible, and that all rectrictions on traffic should be abolished. The notables replied with one voice 9for they were all men of the privileged orders) that they would none of it. So Calounne fell, astonished at the ingratitude of his friends. Another queen’s nominee, the incompetent cardinal Lomenie de Brienne, succeeded him. The anger of the people against the queen and her friends grew daily hotter; and, though she was absolutely guiltless in the matter, the scandal of the diamond necklace story in 1785-1786 seemed to give point to the popular discontent against her. She was frivolous and extravagant, and without the slighted feeling for the French nation; her love of amusement easily led people to take the worst view of all she did; she was identified in their minds with offensive foreign tastes and interests, and credited with French morals at their worst.

The accession to the ministry of Lomenie de Brienne was the beginning of the end of the monarchy. He found at once that he must press on the privileged classes Calonne’s proposals; and parties formed afresh, - on the one side the king, the queen, and the minister, supported by some of the noblesse; on the other the duke of Orleans, already beginning to take an active and ominous part in affairs, the main bulk of the nobles, and the parliament of Paris; the lawyers went with them in defending privilege. Below them all were the starving and angry people; in front of them the yawning deficit. The queen and her minister thought to save the ancient monarchy by abandoning the noblesse. To the people, however, it did not appear to be a question of one or other, but of their own claims and rights against both. No doubt the general bulk of the people would have welcomed a king who would reform loyalty; Louis XVI., unfortunately, for all his honesty and well-meaning wishes, was not strong enough to face the difficulties before him.

In August 1787 the king held a great lit de justice or personal visitation of the parliament, to enforce the registration of his edicts, and after he had thus overborne its opposition, he exiled that learned body to Troyes. Though the edicts were for a stamp-tax and for the equal distribution of the land-tax, the popular voice went with the parliament; for the more ambitious and active spirits would not accept as sufficient the reforms recommended by the queen’s party. Their temper was becoming dangerous; the king’s action was considered arbitrary; the people of Paris still deemed the parliament their friend. Before being exiled, the parliament had uttered the word which was destined to bring things to a head. In declaring their forced registration illegal and void, they had stated, in their auxiety to escape the new imposition of the equalized "yaille,’ that the States-General alone could legally impose taxes, a doctrine unfortunately unknown in France for many centuries. The whole nation heard the word, and learnt with emotion that the ancient monarchy had long been an usurper. Throughout the kingdom now rose up a cry for the convocation of the States-General. No one clearly knew what they were or hoe they would work; the last meeting of those august bodies, 173 years back (1614), had broken up in confusion; of the organization, procedure, and powers of the Estates no one could speak with certainty. Nevertheless, at the moment they seemed to offer hoes of a solution of pressing difficulties; and at last the king, with much reluctance, promised that they should be called together within five years.

The parliament was than recalled to Paris; and the king held a "royal sitting," a different thing from the offensive lit de justice, and expounded to the lawyers his views as to the position of affairs. Ominous were his words, for they proved that he had no insight into the great questions seething, and that he clung in a dull obstinate way to the traditions of the ancient monarchy. He showed France that he meant to deal in a narrow and hostile spirit with the States-General, and that he reserved to himself in all matters the ultimate decision. Lastly, he offered for their registration two edicts, framed, one might think, specially to affront his hearers, the first (in opposition to the previous declaration of the parliament) authorizing loans to the frightful amount of 420,000,000 livres (16,800,000 pounds); the other ordering the restoration of Protestants to their civil rights. Then the duke of Orleans, great-grandson of the regent Philip, protested, and the parliament, encouraged by his example, declared that the edicts had been registered by force. Orleans was exiled; and the ferment in Paris and through France became extreme.

The struggle between court and parliament grew bitter; the parliament declared letters de cachet to be illegal, and affirmed that the queen’s influence was the cause of the present evils. The court-party in rejoinder proposed to establish a plenary court for the registration of edicts. The parliament protested, and posed itself as defender of the liberties of France. They were forthwith shorn of much of their power, and their function of registration taken away. The local parliaments throughout Franc were treated in like manner, and it is from this circumstance that one of the most tremendous organizations of the revolution took its rise. Remonstrants traveled up to Paris from different centers,- among other from the Breton parliament of Rennes, - to protest against the high-handed action of the court. The Bretons formed themselves into a club, which, having headquarters in the old Jacobin convent in the St Honore street, soon changed its name from the Breton Club to the Jacobin Club, and became the home of the most advanced republicanism.

Things now went even worse. The old pacte de famine, which the humanity of the king had kept down, again began its baleful operations; the disorders of finance went on; thee was no money with which to carry on the government. Brienne, at last driven to despair, induced the king, in spite of the queen’s strong opposition, to convoke the States-General for the 5th May 1789. Soon after this, unable to facer the difficulties of finance, and having tried in vain a kind of concealed bankruptcy, he gave way and sent in his resignation. Necker was recalled. The winter of 1788-1789 was terrible – especially in Paris; and all France was excited by distress and hope. The capital swarmed with incomers from the country districts round; ever since the great hailstorm of July 1788, when the crops ripe for the sickle had been destroyed in all the best corn-growing district of France, the district round Paris, crowds of desperate country folk had been pressing in. "All this mass floats about Paris," says M. Taine, "is engulfed therein, as in a great sewer, the honest poor and the criminal alike; some seek work, some beg, all prowl about, a prey to hunger and the rumors of the streets. The officials note that a large number of sinister-looking men pass the barriers inwards." … "The general aspect of the mob changes; it contains now a quantity of strangers from all parts of the country, mostly in rags, armed with great sticks, whose very look is menacing." "Vagabonds, ragged fellows, many almost naked, with appalling faces – beings one does not remember to have seen by daylight, - a frightful physiognomy, a hideous attire." Such is the impression left by the crowd of refugees and others who swarmed in the lower districts of Paris; this is the rough material out of which the Parisian and decisive element in the revolution will be made. The Government thought little of this for the time; the States-General were to meet not in Paris but at Versailles, under the shadow of the monarchy; Paris, long neglected and disliked by the kings of France, was left out of their calculations at this moment.


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