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FrRevol_051-100.indd 41 3/16/12 1:02 PM CHAPTER X Sequel ofthe Preceding.-Ministry of the Archbishop ofToulouse. M. de Brienne, Archbishop of Toulouse, had almost as little seriousness of character as M. de Calonne; but his clerical dignity, coupled with a constant ambition to attain a seat in the cabinet, had given him the outward gravity of a statesman; and he had the reputation of one, before he was placed in a situation to undeceive the world. He had labored during fifteen years, through his subordinates, to acquire the esteem of the Queen; but the King, who had no opinion ofclerical philosophers, had always refused to admit him to the ministry. He gave way at last, for Louis XVI had not much confidence in himself; no man would have been happier had he been born King of England; for by being able to acquire a clear knowledge of the national wish, he would then have regulated his measures by that unfailing standard. The Archbishop ofToulouse was not sufficiently enlightened to act the part ofa philosopher, nor sufficiently firm for that ofa despot:1 he admired at one time the conduct of Cardinal Richelieu, at another the principles of the "Encyclopedists"; he attempted arbitrary measures, but desisted at the first obstacle; and, in truth, the things he aimed at were greatly beyond 1. Lomenie de Brienne (1727- 94), French statesman and cardinal ofthe Roman Catholic Church, was Archbishop ofToulouse (1763- 88) and ofSens (1788). Naminated as president ofthe Assembly ofNotables, he criticized the fiscal policy ofCalonne, whom he succeeded as head of the treasury in May 1787. Brienne admired Necker and asked the King to bring him back to Paris and offer him a ministerial position. Brienne was forced out of office in August 1788. After the beginning of the Revolution, Brienne was one of the few French prelates to take an oath to the civil constitution of the clergy promulgated in 1790. He was subsequently arrested by the revolutionary government and died in prison in 1794· .9Z FrRevol_051-100.indd 42 3/16/12 1:02 PM PART I the possibility ofaccomplishment. He proposed several taxes, particularly the stamp tax; the parlement rejected it, on which he made the King hold a lit de justice: the parlements suspended their judicial functions; the minister exiled them; nobody would come forward to take their place, and he conceived the plan ofa plenary court, composed of the higher clergy and nobility. The idea was not bad, ifmeant in imitation ofthe English House of Peers; but a house of representatives, elected by the people, was a necessary accompaniment, as the plenary court was named by the King. The parliaments might be overturned by national representatives; but not by a body of Peers, extraordinarily convoked by the prime minister! The measure was so unpopular that several even of the courtiers refused to take their places in the assembly. In this state of things the acts, intended by government as acts of authority , tended only to show its weakness; and the Archbishop of Toulouse , at one time arbitrary, at another constitutional, proved equally awkward in both. Marshal de Segur had committed the great error ofasking, in the eighteenth century, for proofs of nobility as a condition to the rank ofofficer. It was necessary to have been ennobled for a hundred years to have the honor ofdefending the country. This regulation irritated the Third Estate, without producing the effect of attaching the nobility "whom it favored more" to the authority of the Crown. Several officers of family declared that, ifdesired to arrest members oftheparlement, or their adherents, they would not obey the orders of the King. The privileged classes began the resistance to the royal authority, and the parlement pronounced the word upon which hung the fate of France. The parlement called loudly on the minister to produce his account of the national receipt and expenditure, when the Abbe Sabatier, a counselor ofparlement, a man of lively wit, exclaimed, "You demand, Gentlemen, the states of receipt and expenditure (itats de recette et de depence), when it is the Estates General (etats generaux) that you ought to call for."2 This 2. Sabatier uttered these famous words during a meeting on July 9, 1787. He was arrested in November 1787. On his return to Paris in the fall of 1788, he became a member of the Society of the Thirty, which was instrumental in preparing the elections to the Estates General. 92 FrRevol_051-100.indd...


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