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FrRevol_151-200.indd 5 3/16/12 1:04 PM CHAPTER XXI Events Caused hy the Royal Session of23d]une, z:;89. The predictions of M. Necker were but too fully realized; and that royal session, against which he had said so much, produced consequences still more unfortunate than he had calculated. Hardly had the King left the hall, when the Third Estate, who had continued there after the other orders had withdrawn, declared that it would pursue its deliberations without any attention to what they had just heard. The impulse was given; the royal session, far from attaining the hoped for object, had given new vigor to the Third Estate, and had afforded them the opportunity of a new triumph. The rumor ofM. Necker's resignation now spread abroad, and all the streets of Versailles were instantly filled with the inhabitants, who proclaimed his name. The King and Queen sent for him to the palace on that very evening, and both urged him, in the name of the public safety, to resume his place; the Queen added that the safety of the King's person depended on his continuing in office. How could he decline obeying? The Queen promised solemnly to follow henceforth his council; such was her determination at the time, because she was alarmed by the popular movement : but as she was always under the impression that any limit imposed on the royal authority was a misfortune, she necessarily fell again under the influence of those who viewed matters in the same light. The King, it cannot be too often repeated, possessed all the virtues necessary for a constitutional monarch; for such a monarch is rather the first magistrate than the military chiefof his country. But, though he was very well informed, and read the English historians, in particular, with attention, the descendant of Louis XIV felt a difficulty in relinquishing z55 FrRevol_151-200.indd 6 3/16/12 1:04 PM PART I the doctrine ofdivine right.' That doctrine is considered as a crime ofle'semajesti in England, since it is in virtue of a compact with the nation that the present dynasty occupies the throne.2 But although Louis XVI was by no means stimulated by his disposition to aim at absolute power, that power was the object of a disastrous prejudice, which unfortunately for France and for himself he never wholly renounced. M. Necker, won by the entreaties which the King and Queen condescended to make to him, promised to continue minister, and spoke only of the future: he by no means disguised the extent ofexisting danger; but added that he hoped yet to remedy it, provided orders were not given to bring troops around Paris unless the Crown were certain of their obedience . In such a case he must make a point ofretiring, and ofbeing satisfied with indulging in private his wishes for the welfare of the King. There remained only three means ofpreventing a political catastrophe: the hope which the Third Estate still founded on the personal disposition of the King; the uncertainty of the course which the military might take, an uncertainty which might still keep back the factious; and finally, the popularity ofM. Necker. We shall soon see how these resources were lost in the course of a fortnight, by the advice of the committee to which the court gave itself up in private. On returning from the palace to his house, M. Necker was carried in triumph by the people. Their lively transports are still present to my recollection , and revive in me the emotion which they caused in the joyous season ofyouth and hope. All the voices which repeated my father's name seemed to me those of a crowd of friends, who shared in my respectful affection. The people had not as yet stained themselves by any crime; they loved their King; they looked on him as deceived, and rallied with friendly 1. Madame de Stael's claim that Louis XVI possessed all the virtues necessary for a constitutional monarch is contradicted by her later statement that he was reluctant to relinquish the doctrine of divine right. It can be argued that Louis XVI was never fully prepared to become a constitutional monarch al'anglaise. Under the influence ofhis advisers, the King made a number of unfortunate choices (including the flight to Varennes) that contributed significantly to the events of 1789-91. 2. Reference to the Declaration of Rights accepted by William Ill and Mary II in...


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