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je n'exagère pas en affirmant qu'il n'y en a pas plus de deux cents en France. Mais les cent mille nobles et les cent mille prêtres qui vouloient avoir des privilèges, a l'égal de ceux de MM. de Montmorenci, de Grammont, de Crillon, etc., révoltoient généralement; car des négocians, des hommes de lettres, des propriétaires, des capitalistes, ne pouvoient comprendre la supériorité qu'on vouloit accorder à cette noblesse acquise à prix de révérences ou d'argent, et à laquelle vingt-cinq ans de date suffisoient pour siéger dans la chambre des nobles, et pour jouir des privilèges dont les plus honorables membres du tiers état se voyoient privés.
'La chambre des pairs en Angleterre est une magistrature patricienne, fondée sans doute sur les ancienjs souvenirs de la chevalerie, mais tout-à-fait associée à des institutions d'une nature très-différente. Un mérite distingué dans le commerce, et surtout dans la jurisprudence, en ouvre journellement l'entrée, et les droits représentatifs que les pairs exercent dans l'état, attestent à la nation que c'est pour le bien public que leurs rangs sont institués. Mais quel avantage les François pouvoient-ils trouver dans ces vicomtes de la Garonne, ou dans ces marquis de la Loire, qui ne payoient pas seulement leur part des impôts de l'état, et que le roi lui-même ne recevoit pas à sa cour, puisqu'il falloit faire des preuves de plus de quatre siècles pour y être admis, et qu'ils étoient à peine anoblis depuis cinquante ans? La vanité des gens de cette classe ne pouvoit s'exercer que sur leurs inférieurs, et ces inférieurs, c'étoient vingt-quatre millions d'hommes." I. 166-168.
Strange as it may appear, there was no law or usage fixing the number of the deputies who might be returned; and though, by the usage of 1614,and some former assemblies, the three orders were allowed each but one voice in the legislature, there were earlier examples of the whole meeting and voting as individuals in the same assembly. M. de Brienne, as we have seen, took the sapient course of calling all the pamphleteers of the kingdom into council upon this emergency. It was fixed at last, though not without difficulty, that the deputies of the people should be equal in number to those of the other two classes together; and it is a trait worth mentioning, that the only committee of Nobles who voted for this concession, was that over which the present king of France presided. If it meant any thing, however, this concession implied that the whole body was to deliberate in common, and to vote individually; and yet, incredible as it now appears, the fact is, that the King and his ministers allowed the deputies to be elected, and actually to assemble, without having settled that great question, or even made any approach to its settlement! Of all the particular blunders that ensured or accelerated what was probably inevitable, this has always appeared to us to be one of the most inconceivable. The point, however, though not taken up by any authority, was plentifully discussed among the talkers of Paris; and Mad. de S. assures us, that the side of the tiers état was at that time the most fashionable in good company, as well as the most popular with the bulk of the nation.
* Tous ceux et toutes celles qui, dans la haute compagnie de
* Francej influoient sur l'opinion, parloient vivement en faveur
* de la cause de la nation. La mode étoit dans ce sens; c'étoit 'le résultat de tout le dix-huitième siècle; et les vieux préjugés, 'qui combattoient encore pour les anciennes institutions, avoi
'ent beaucoup moins de force alors, qu'ils n'en ont eu à aucune 'époque pendant les vingt-cinq années suivantes. Enfin l'a'scendant de l'esprit public étoit tel, qu'il entraîna le parlement
* lui-même.' (I. p. 172-3.) The'clamourthut^as made against them, was not at that time by the advocates of the royal prerogative, but by interested individuals of the privileged classes. On the contrary, Mad. de S. asserts positively, that the popular party was then disposed, as of old, to unite with the Sovereign against the pretensions of these bodies, and that the Sovereign was understood to participate in their sentiments. The statement certainly seems to derive no slight confirmation from the memorable words which were uttered at the time, in a public address by the reigning King of France, then the first of the Princes of the blood.—' Une grande révolution étoit prêt, dit * Monsieur (aujourd'hui Louis XVIII.) à la municipalité de
* Paris, en 1789'; le roi, par ses intentions, ses vertus, et son
* rang suprême, devait en être le chef!' We perfectly agree with Mad. de S.—' que toute la sagesse de la circonstance étoit
* dans ces paroles.'
Nothing, says Mad. de S., can be imagined more striking than the first sight of the 1200 deputies of France, as they passed in, «olemn procession to hear mass at Notre Dame, the day before the meeting of the States-General. .....
'La Noblesse se trouvant déchue de sa splendeur par l'esprit de courtisan, par l'alliage des anoblis, et par une longue paix; le Clergé ne possédant plus l'ascendant des lumières qu'il avoit eu dans les temps barbares; l'importance des députés du Tiers état en étoit augmentée. Leurs habits et leurs manteaux noirs, leurs regards assurés, leur nombre imposant, attiroient l'attention sur eux: des hommes de lettres, des négocians, un grand nombre d'avocats composoient ce' troisième ordre. Quelques nobles s'étoient fait nommer députés du tiers, et parmi ces nobles on remarquoit surtout le comte de Mirabeau: l'opinion qu'on avoit de son esprit étoit singulièrement augmentée par la peur que faisoit son immoralité; et cependant c'est cette immoralité même qui a diminué l'influence que ses étonnante» facultés devoient lui valoir. Il étoit difficile de ne pas le regarder you xxx. No. 60. t/
lonar-temps, quand on l'avoit une foisapergu: son immense chevelure le distinguoit entre tous: on eut (lit que sa force en dependoit comme celle de Samson; son visage empruntoit de 1'expression de sa laideur meme, et toute sa personne domioit l'idée d'une puissance irreguliere, mais enftn d'une puissance telle qu'on se la representeroit dans un tribun de peuple.
'Aucun nom propre, excepte le sien, n'etoit encore celebre dans les six cents députes du tiers; mais il y avoit beaucoup d'hommes honorables, et beaucoup d'hommes a craindre.' I. 185, 186.
The first day of their meeting, the deputies of course insisted that the whole three orders should sit and vote together; and the majority of the nobles and clergy of course resisted:—And this went on for nearly two months, in the face of the mob of Paris and the people of France—before the King and his Council could make up their own minds on the matter. The inner cabinet, in which the Queen and the Princes had the chief sway, had now taken the alarm, and was for resisting the pretensions of the Third Estate; while M. Necker, and the ostensible ministers, were for compromising with them, while their power was not yet disclosed by experience, nor their pretensions raised by victory. The Ultras relied on the army, and were for dismissing the Legislature as soon as they had granted a few taxes. M. Necker plainly told the King, that he did not think that the army could be relied on; and that he ought to make up his mind to reign hereafter under a constitution like that of England. There were fierce disputes, and endless consultations; and at length, within three weeks after the States were opened, and before the Commons had gained any decided advantage, M. Necker obtained the full assent both of the King and Queen to a Declaration, in which it was to be announced to'the States, that they should sit and vote as one body in all questions of taxation, and in two chambers only in all other questions. This arrangement, Mad. de S. assures us, would have satisfied the Commons at the time, and invested the throne with the great strength of popularity. But, after a full and deliberate consent had been given by both their Majesties, the party about the Queen found means to put off from day to day the publication of the important instrument; and a whole month was unpardonably wasted in idle discussions; during which, nearly one half of the Nobles and Clergy had joined the deputies of the Commons, and taken the name of the National Assembly. Their popularity and confidence had been dangerously increased, in the mean time, by their orators and pamphleteers; and the Court had become the object of suspicion and discontent, both by the rumour of the approach of its armies to the capital, and by what 2 '1
Mad. de S. calls the accidental exclusion of the deputies from their ordinary place of meeting—which gave occasion to the celebrated and theatrical oath of the Tennis-court. After all, Mad. de 8. says, much might have been regained or saved, by issuing M. Necker's declaration. But the very night before it was to be delivered, the council was adjourned, in consequence of a billet from the Queen ;—two new councillors and two princes of the blood were called to take part in the deliberations; and it was suddenly determined, that the King should announce it as his pleasure, that the Three Estates should meet and vote in their three separate chambers, as they had done in 1614!
M. Necker, full of fear and sorrow, refused to go to the meeting at which the King was to make this important communication. It was made, however—and received with murmurs of deep displeasure; and, when the Chancellor ordered the deputies to withdraw to their separate chamber, they answered, that they were the National Assembly, and would stay where they were! The whole visible population seconded this resolution, with indications of a terrible and irresistible violence: Perseverance, it was immediately seen, would have led to the most dreadful consequences; and the same night the Queen entreated M. Necker to take the management of the State upon himself, and solemnly engaged to follow no councils but his. The minister complied;—and immediately the obnoxious order was recalled, and a royal mandate was issued to the Nobles and the Clergy, to join the deliberations of the Tiers etat.
If these reconciling measures had been sincerely followed out, the country and the monarchy might perhaps have been saved. But the party of the Ultras—' qui parloit avec beaucoup de de'.' dain de l'autorite du roi d'Angleterre, et vouloit faire consi'derer comme un attentat, Iapensee de reduire uii roi de France (. au miserable sort du monarque Britannique'—this misguided party—had still too much weight in the royal councils; and, while they took advantage of the calm produced by M. Necker's measures and popularity, did not cease secretly to hasten the march of M. de Broglie with his German regiments upon Paris . -r-with the design, scarcely dissembled, of employing them to overawe and disperse the assembly. Considering from whom her information is derived, we can scarcely refuse our implicit belief to the following important statement, which has never yet been made on equal authority.
..' JVL Necker n'ignoroit pas le veritable objet pourlequel on faisoit avancer les troupes, bien qu'on voulut le lui cacher. L'intentioii de la cour etoit de reunir a Compiègne tous les pembres des trois ordres qui n'aveient point favorise le ayfcteme'des innovations, et la de leur faire consentir a la hate les impdtB et les emprunts dont elle avoit besoin, afin de les renvoyer ensuite. Comme un tel projet ne pouvoit £tre secondé par M. Necker, on se proposoit de le renvoyer des que la force militaire seroit rassemblée. Cinquante avis par jour l'informoient de sa situation, et il ne lui etoit pas possible d'en douter; mais il savoit aussi que, dans les circonstances ou Ton se trouvoit alors, il ne pouvoit quitter sa place sans confirmer les bruits qui se rfipandoient sur les mesures violentes que Ton preparoit a la cour. Le roi s'etant resolu a ces mesures, M. Necker ne voulut pas y prendre part, mais il ne vouloit pas non plus donner le signal de s'y opposer; et il restoit la comme une sentinelle qu'on laissoit encore a son poste, pour tromper les attaquans sur la manoeuvre.' I. 231—233. He continued, accordingly, to go every day to the palace, where he was received with cold civility; and at last, when the troops were all assembled, he received an order in the middle of the night, commanding him instantly to quit France, and to let no one know of his departure. This was on the night of the 11th of July;-—and as soon as his dismissal was known, all Paris rose in insurrection—an army of 100,000 men was arrayed in a night—and, on the 14th, the Bastille was demolished, and the King brought as a prisoner to the Hotel de Ville, to express his approbation of all that had been done. M. Necker, who had got as far as Brussels, was instantly recalled. Upwards of two millions of men took up arms in the country—and it was manifest that a great revolution was already consummated.
There is next a series of lively and masterly sketches of the different parties in the Constituent Assembly, and their various leaders. Of these, the most remarkable, by far, was Mirabeau, who appeared in opposition to Necker, like the evil spirit of the Revolution contending with its better angel. Mad. de S. says of him, that he was 'Tribun par calcul et Aristocrat par gout.' There never, perhaps, was an instance of so much talent being accompanied and neutralized by so much profligacy. Of all the daring spirits that appeared on that troubled scene, no one, during his life, ever dared to encounter him; and yet, such was his want of principle, that no one party, and no one individual, trusted him with their secrets. His fearlessness, promptitude and energy, o-' verbore all competition; and his ambition seemed to be, to show how the making or the marring of all things depended upon his good pleasure/ Mad. de S. confirms what has often been said of his occasional difficulty in extempore speaking, and of hi* habitually employing his friends to write his speeches and letters; but, after his death, she says none of them could ever produce for themselves any thing equal to what they used to
worsted, and merciless when successful. What he said of the