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FrRevol_251-300.indd 18 3/16/12 1:07 PM CHAPTER XXI Departure ofthe King on the 2zst ofjune, z:;gz. Louis XVI would have cordially accepted the English constitution had it been presented to him with candor and with the respect due to the head ofa government; but the Assembly wounded all his affections, particularly by three decrees, which were rather hurtful than useful to the cause ofthe nation. They abolished the power ofgranting pardons,1 that power which ought to exist in every civilized society, and which, in a monarchy, can belong only to the Crown: they required from the priests an oath of adherence to the civil constitution of the clergy, on pain of the loss of their appointments; and they wished to deprive the Queen ofthe power ofbeing Regent.2 The greatest error, perhaps, of the Constituent Assembly, as we have already said, was to aim at creating a clerical body dependent on it, in the same way as has been done by a number of absolute sovereigns. It deviated , for this purpose, from that system of perfect equity in which it ought to have sought support. It stimulated to resistance the conscience and the honor of the clerical body. The friends ofliberty wander from the true path whenever it is practicable to oppose to them generous sentiments ; for true liberty can have opponents only among those who are ready to act a usurping or servile part; and the priest who refused a theo1 . According to the Legal Code passed in October 179r. 2. According to chapter II, section 2, ofthe Constitution of 1791, "Women are excluded from the regency" and the "custody of the minor King shall be entrusted to his mother" (Documentary Survey ofthe French Revolution, 242, 243). 268 FrRevol_251-300.indd 19 3/16/12 1:07 PM CHAPTER X XI. Departure ofKing logical oath exacted by threats acted more the part ofa free man than those who endeavored to make him give the lie to his opinion. Lastly, the third decree, the one relative to the Regency, beingintended to keep power out of the hands of the Queen, who was suspected by the popular party, could not fail to be personally offensive on several grounds to Louis XVI. That decree declared him the first public functionary,3 a title wholly unsuited to a king, since every functionary must be responsible ; and it is indispensable to introduce into hereditary monarchy a sentiment of respect naturally connected with the inviolability of the sovereign . This respect does not exclude the mutual compact between the King and the nation, a compact existing at all times either in a tacit or in an avowed shape; but reason and delicacy may always be made compatible when people are sincerely disposed to it. The second article of the regency decree was to be condemned on grounds similar to those that we have already mentioned; it declared the King deprived of the throne if he went out of France.4 This was pronouncing on what ought not to have been anticipated, the case in which a king was to be stripped ofhis dignity. Republican virtues and institutions elevate very greatly the people whose situation allows them to enjoy them; but in monarchical countries, the people become perverted ifthey are not accustomed to respect the authority which they have acknowledged. A penal code against a king is an idea without application, whether that king be strong or weak. In the latter case, the power that overturns him does not confine itself to law, in whatever manner that law may have been conceived. It is therefore only under a prudential point ofview that we are to form 3· According to chapter IV of the Constitution of 1791, "the King is the supreme head ofthe general administration ofthe kingdom" (Documentary Surveyofthe French Revolution, 251). The Constitution also stipulated (chap. II, sec. 1) that "there is no authority in France superior to that of the law; the King reigns only thereby, and only in the name of the law may he exact obedience." (Documentary Survey ofthe French Revolution, 241) 4· According to the Constitution of 1791, chapter II, section I, 7, "Ifthe King, having left the kingdom, does not return after invitation has been made by the legislative body, and within the period established by proclamation, which may not be less than two months, he shall be deemed to have abdicated the throne." (Documentary Survey ofthe French Revolution , 240) FrRevol_251-300.indd 20 3...


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