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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 5

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The next morning the duke of Orleans received an order to quit Pans, and confine himself to his chateau of Villars - Cotterets; Freteau was arrested by lettre de cachet, and sent to the fortress of Ham, and Cabre to that of Mount St. Michael. The parliament was ordered to attend at Versailles with their journal, where they were soundly reprimanded, and the offensive protest erased. They returned, accompanied by the plaudits of the people, entered a fresh protest, and felt themselves stronger than ever. They boldly demanded the liberation of their members, Orleans, Freteau, and Cabre. The king, paying no attention to their demand regarding the imprisoned members, ordered them to erase the second protest; they refused, and this state of antagonism continued several months. As Louis could not master his parliament, he was advised to abolish it, and to substitute in its place a cour pleniere, consisting only of princes of the blood, great officers of the church, state, and army, nobles, governors of provinces, knights of different orders, one deputy from each provincial parliament, and two from each chamber of accounts and aids. The parliament of Paris was to be abolished for ever as unfitted for the requirements of the times. The members of the cour pleniere were to be nominated by the king, and to retain their membership for life. Louis and the queen, who had ten times his sense and spirit, were in the delighted persuasion that they had discovered the means of freeing themselves from this troublesome parliament, and of avoiding the ominous states-general.

But the parliament was not so lightly set aside. No sooner did it learn the state secret, than it issued proclamations, declaring that there was no power in the state competent to remove it; and that this scheme was not only a violent invasion of its ancient and indefeasible rights, but equally so of the rights and liberties of the nation. Paris was in a state of intense excitement, and the court increased it by ordering the arrest of D'Espremenil and De Monsabert, the two members who had been most prominent in opposition. The parliament now took measures to make the occasion a facsimile of the arrest of the five members of the English house of commons, for the revolution of England had been eagerly studied by the French patriots in all its parts. The two members, therefore, were not to be found at their own houses, but the next day appeared in their places in the parliament. There they stated that, over-night, an attempt had been made to deprive them of their liberty, and a resolution was passed, that it was a violation of the privileges of parliament, and that suitable remonstrance should be presented to the king. Soon after, as was expected, the Palais de Justice was surrounded by a regiment of soldiers, and an officer entered, and demanded, in the king's name, the persons of M. D’Espremenil and M. de Monsabert. The demand was received in profound silence, and at length the president replied that they were all, and there were one hundred and sixty-seven of them, D’Espremenil and Monsaberts, for they all held the same opinions. The officer, not knowing the persons of the two accused, retired, and went for fresh instructions. The members continued sitting, and, in fact, were blockaded by the regiment of soldiers. D’Espremenil addressed them in florid terms, declaring that they resembled the senators of Rome, awaiting the visit of Brennus, and that they were a grand spectacle to the universe.

After a besiegement of twenty hours, during which a messenger had been dispatched to Versailles and had returned, the officer reappeared, and demanded that they should deliver up to him the two members named, on penalty of incurring a charge of high treason, as protecting the king's enemies. The French senators, less stoical than their assumed prototypes of Rome, now gave way; the two members surrendered themselves, and were marched off. Outside, D’Espremenil said to the crowd, "Have you courage?" plainly suggesting a rescue, but the mob was not yet ripe for this. There was no response, and he and Monsabert were led away - D’Espremenil to a fortress on a little island near Toulon, and Monsabert to one near Lyons. The officer then, more like a Cromwell than a Charles I., turned out the remaining members, locked the doors, and departed. So far the parallel betwixt the French and English parliaments, in the case of the arrest of their members, did not hold very closely; but the French parliament, though turned out of their house, were not the less determined in asserting their authority.

The king proceeded to call a bed of justice to register the edict for the cour pleniere on the 8th of May, 1788, and the members of the parliament seized the opportunity to present a most decided address to Louis, declaring that they would take no part in that or any other transaction, except as a 1 parliament restored to all its privileges, and denouncing the king's proceedings as despotic and destructive of the fundamental laws and institutions of the kingdom. The king explained the nature of the cour planiere, and ordered the edict to be registered, which it was, though the members of the parliament refused their concurrence. They then adjourned to a tavern, and entered a formal protest against the whole measure.

The example of the Paris parliament was followed by the provincial ones. They one and all refused to recognise the royal edict, and, though every means of intimidation was applied, none gave way except that of Douai. Force was applied at Rennes, and the military compelled the enregistering: this excited the indignation of the people to such a degree, that they insulted the soldiers, and were fired on, and some of them killed. A deputation was immediately dispatched to Versailles, bearing a warm remonstrance; but Brienne, instead of admitting them to the king, sent them to the Bastille by lettre de cachet. The sturdy Bretons, only the more incensed, sent a second and more numerous deputation; but these were met by government officers on the road, and compelled to return. A third and still more numerous deputation was sent, who were instructed to go privately, and by different roads; and thus they reached Versailles, but were refused admittance to the royal presence. Not thus, however, were the bold Bretons to be rebuffed. They called Lafayette to their councils, who had large possessions in Brittany, and whose mother was a native of that province, so that they claimed him as their compatriot. He had assured the Bretons that he was ready to act with them on all occasions for the thorough suppression of arbitrary power in France, and he did not fail them on this occasion. By his co-operation, they formed a Breton club, and its first act was to pronounce an energetic censure on the present proceedings of the court. Little did the court or even the patriots conceive into what this Breton club was to grow, and that it was to be the parent of the terrible jacobin club. From this moment Lafayette, with all his professions of regard for the crown and royal family, was a marked man, and, especially to the superior discernment of the queen, a revolutionist of the first stamp.

The same spirit was found to animate the rest of the parliaments. Eight of them, being found wholly uncompliant, were treated like the parliament of Paris, expelled from their places of sitting, and into other towns distant from their places of abode. The parliament of Grenoble, however, refused to quit the place, and, when military force was tried, the people rang the tocsin from every steeple; the countrymen flocked in armed with rustic weapons, and the soldiers refused to fire upon them. This was the first alarming symptom of that defection of the troops which soon utterly broke the arm of royalty, and left it prostrate at the feet of the nation. The people of Pau, the capital of Beam, instead of submitting to the government orders, through count Grammont, went in a body to him, carrying the cradle of Henry IV., the palladium of this little city, and informed him that they had planted cannon on their walls, and would resist to the death.

To add to these ominous proceedings in town and country, there was a loud demand for the liberation of the duke of Orleans. Louis replied that he knew sufficient of the duke to warrant the taking off his head, but still he soon after complied. Orleans returned to Paris, and, so far from avoiding the suspicions of a revolutionary kind, he gave great dinner parties and crowded soirees at his abode, the Palais Royal, at which appeared all those, of every class, who were notorious for their new and levelling principles. There were flying reports of large sums being distributed amongst the people, and of designs to pull down the throne, and set up Orleans as regent. If any portion of these rumours did injustice to Orleans, his own conduct at least gave sufficient countenance to the belief in them.

Events now rushed on with accumulating force and accelerated pace, and Heaven seemed to add its fiat to render them irresistible. The successive loans which had been so compulsorily registered, proved an empty vision. Nobody would subscribe to them; there had been a long drought, withering up the prospects of the harvest, and now, in July, came a terrible hailstorm, which extended one hundred and fifty miles round Paris, destroying the nearly ripe corn, the fruit on the trees, and leaving all that extent of country a desert, and the inhabitants the prey of famine. Under such circumstances, the people could not, those in other quarters would not, pay taxes; the treasury was empty, and the king was compelled to promise to convoke the states-general in the following May; Brienne endeavoured to amuse the active reformers by calling on men of intelligence to send in plans for the proper conduct of the states- general, as none had been held for one hundred and seventy- two years. The public was impatient for a much earlier summons, but they would not have been probably much listened to, had Lomenie de Brienne known how to keep things going. His empty exchequer, however, and the pressing demands upon him, drove him to solicit the king to recall Necker and appoint him once more comptroller of the finances. He imagined that the popularity of Necker would at least extend the public patience. The queen energetically opposed the reinstatement of Necker; the position of affairs was, however, too desperate, and Necker was recalled. But now, on his part, he refused to take office under Brienne, and Brienne endeavoured to scramble on a while longer rather than resign. To buoy himself up, he committed acts of the most futile, and others of the most robberlike, character. He made a liberal issue of paper money, which the public creditors refused to take; and he then laid violent hands on the proceeds of a subscription raised for the relief of the poor who were perishing from the effects of the late storm. He next seized on the money-box at the royal theatre, and was proceeding to other deeds as lawless, when the king was compelled to dismiss him. Brienne, however, did not retire without substantial consolations for himself and his connections. He was said to have accumulated from the revenues of the church not less than half a million of livres of income; he obtained a cardinal's hat; left his brother, count de Brienne, minister of war and governor of a province; his nephew was appointed his coadjutor in the archbishopric of Sens, and received one of the richest abbeys in France; his niece retained her appointment as dame du palais, and her husband his as colonel of a regiment.

Necker, on the 24th of August, resumed office amid the acclamations of the people, who imagined he was able to remove scarcity and supply revenue from some impossible sources. Yet not the less did they continue to express their resentment against Brienne, whose effigy they burnt in the streets, and against Lamoignan, the keeper of the seals, whose house they were proceeding to attack, when they were met and driven back by the troops. The mob called on the French guards to fraternise with them, but they were not so successful now as afterwards, for the soldiers fired on them, and killed and wounded a great number before they would disperse. Numbers of well- dressed persons were seen to mingle with the rioters, and to encourage them, especially one Carles, a jeweller. All these were imagined to be agents of the duke of Orleans; but were probably rather agents of the party with which he was co-operating. To conceal the extent of the slaughter, and thus avoid the consequent fury of the people, the soldiers and the city watch are said to have thrown the bodies of both killed and wounded into the Seine.

Necker immediately advised the restoration of the Paris parliament, and the members were accompanied on their way to the Palais de Justice by the deafening plaudits of the people; but their popularity was as brief as it was enthusiastic. They approved of the meeting of the states-general at the time fixed, but gave it as their opinion that they should take the same form as at their last sitting, in 1614. This at once turned the heart of the people against them, for it was saying that the tiers etat was to be swallowed up entirely by the noblesse and the clergy. The moment this decision was known, the whole people of Paris burst into execration against the parliamenters, and their popularity and their existence disappeared together. On the other hand, the various clubs, amid which the Breton club and the club des Enrages were conspicuous, declared that the tiers etat must outnumber the two other orders together, or that it was impossible to expect that the great and necessary changes demanded could take place. The first matter to be carried was that of taxing these orders in their full proportion to the rest of the community, and it was clear that, if left with a majority, it was absurd to hope for so much self-sacrifice. The fact was too palpable to be denied, yet it was equally clear that with a standing majority of the tiers etat, the old privileged orders would be left at the mercy of the people, and must suffer, in their turn, all that they had so long inflicted on the lower classes. It was conspicuously not a question of deliberative reason, but of revolutionary force. The privileged orders must yield their privileges, and the people know well enough that they would not yield them voluntarily; the pendulum of compulsion must swing now as far one way as it had before done the other.

There were numbers of papers put forth, advocating the supremacy of the people. One of these, called Deliberations, issued from the Palais Royal coterie, that of the democratic duke of Orleans, and was said to be the composition of his private secretary, Laclos, the author of Les Liaisons Dan- gereuses, a most profligate work. These Deliberations went to make the tiers etat everything, and the noblesse and clergy nothing. The abbé Sieyes, however, issued the most popular and effective brochure on the same side, entitled, Qu'est-ce que le Tiers Etat? " What is the Third Estate? " which he, in reply, showed to be the great and really rightful power. Count Emanuel Sieyes, or the abbé Sieyes, as he was universally called, was the son of the director of the post-office at Frejus. He entered the church, and became one of the grand vicars of the bishop of Chartres; but, on the breaking out of the French revolution, he became seized with the revolutionary spirit, abandoned ecclessiastical life, and devoted himself to politics. Sieyes was an honest enthusiast in this field. He was for a thorough and searching reform, but by no means for the destruction of the monarchy. We shall soon find him preparing the famous " Declaration of the Rights of Man;" but when the convention proposed to try Louis XVI. for his life, he declared that that assembly could not be at once accuser and judge. He opposed the licentiousness of the press; opposed Paine's scheme of a republic, declaring a monarchy more favourable to liberty than a republic. He declined sitting in the convention when the mountain gained the ascendancy. He continued to oppose the Jacobins, yet escaped with his life, and survived through a multitude of dangers - opposing Napoleon as he had opposed the republic - and died peaceably, in 1836, at the age of eighty-eight - one of the few prominent men of the revolution who reached old age.

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