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FrRevol_251-300.indd 10 3/16/12 1:06 PM CHAPTER XIX State ofAffairs and ofPolitical Parties in the Winter ofz:;go-gz. In all the provinces of France there burst forth troubles, caused by the total change of institutions and by the struggle between the partisans of the old and new regimes. The executive power lay dormant, according to an expression ofa deputy on the left side of the Assembly, because it hoped, though without foundation, that good might follow from excess even in mischief. The ministers were incessantly complaining of the disorders; and although they had but limited means to oppose to them, even these they did not employ, flattering themselves that the unhappy state of things would oblige the Assembly to put more strength into the hands ofgovernment. The Assembly, perceiving this plan of proceeding, assumed the control of the whole administration instead of restricting itself to making laws. After M. Necker's retirement, the Assembly demanded the removal ofthe ministers, and in its constitutional decrees, looking only to the circumstances of the moment, it deprived the King successively of the appointment ofall the agents of the executive power.1 It put its bad humor against this or that person into the shape of a decree, believing, like almost all men in power, in the duration of the present state of things. The deputies of the left side were accustomed to say: "The head ofthe executive power in England has agents of his own nomination; while the executive power in France, not less strong but more happy, will have the advantage of commanding only persons chosen by the nation, and will thus be more 1. All local representatives of the executive power were to be elected rather than nominated. 260 FrRevol_251-300.indd 11 3/16/12 1:07 PM CHAPTER XIX. State ofAffairs in Winter l:J90- 9l intimately united with the people." There are phrases for everything, particularly in the French language, which has served so much and so often for different and momentary objects. Nothing, however, was so easy as to prove that one cannot command men over whose fortune one does not possess influence. This truth was avowed only by the aristocratic party, but it went into the opposite extreme in not recognizing the necessity of the responsibility of ministers. One of the greatest beauties ofthe English constitution is that each branch of government, whether King, Lords, or Commons, is all that it can be. The powers are equal among them, not from weakness but on account of their strength.2 In whatever was not connected with the spirit ofparty the Constituent Assembly gave proofs of the highest degree of reason and information: but there is something in our passions so violent as to burst the links in the chain of reasoning: certain words inflame the blood, and self-love makes the gratification of the moment triumph over all that might be durable. The same distrust of the King which obstructed the proper functioning of the administration and the judicial branch of government made itself still more felt in the decrees relative to the army. The Assembly willingly fomented a spirit of insubordination in the army at a time when nothing would have been so easy as to repress it; a proof of this was seen in the mutiny of the regiment of Chateauvieux:3 the Assembly thought proper to repress this revolt, and, in a few days, its orders were carried into effect. M. de Bouille, an officer of true merit in the old government, at the head of the troops that had remained faithful, obliged the soldiers in insurrection to give up the town of Nancy, ofwhich they had obtained possession. This success, owing in fact only to the ascendancy of the decrees of the Assembly, gave false hopes to the Court; it imagined, and M. de Bouille did not fail to confirm it in the delusive idea, that the army wanted only to give back to the King his former power; while, in fact, the army, like the nation at large, wanted to assign limits to the will ofa single ruler. To 2. The theory ofa balanced constitution in England is discussed in Vile, Constitutionalism and the Separation ofPowers, 58- 82. 3ยท On August 1, 1790. FrRevol_251-300.indd 12 3/16/12 1:07 PM PART II date from the expedition ofM. de Bouille, in the autumn of1790, the Court entered into negotiation with him, and hopes were entertained...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781614878636
Related ISBN
9780865977327
MARC Record
OCLC
836874520
Pages
834
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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