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Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The

Relative to the corvees and free circulation of grain


the feelings excited by the

proceedings of the Notables to cool off, new claims to be advanced, and a pressure to arise for a fixed constitution, not subject to changes at the will of the King. Nor should we wonder at this pressure, when we consider the monstrous abuses of power under which this people were ground to powder; when we pass in review the weight of their taxes, and the inequality of their distribution; the oppressions of the tythes, the failles, the corvees, the gabelles, the farms and the barriers; the shackles on commerce by monopolies; on industry by guilds and corporations; on the freedom of conscience, of thought, and of speech; on the freedom of the press by the censure; and of the person by lettres de cachet; the cruelty of the criminal code generally; the atrocities of the rack; the venality of Judges, and their partialities to the rich; the monopoly of military honors by the noblesse; the enormous expenses of the Queen, the Princes, and the Court; the prodigalities of pensions; and the riches, luxury, indolence, and immorality of the Clergy. Surely under such a mass of misrule and oppression, a people might justly press for thorough reformation, and might even dismount their roughshod riders, and leave them to walk, on their own legs. The edicts, relative to the corvees and free circulation of grain, were first presented to the Parliament and registered; but those for the impot territorial, and stamp tax, offered some time after, were refused by the Parliament, which proposed a call
of the States General, as alone competent to their authorization. Their refusal produced a bed of justice, and their exile to Troyes. The Advocates, however, refusing to attend them, a suspension in the administration of justice took place. The Parliament held out for awhile, but the ennui of their exile and absence from Paris, began at length to be felt, and some dispositions for compromise to appear. On their consent, therefore, to prolong some of the former taxes, they were recalled from exile. The King met them in session, November 19, '87, promised to call the States General in the year '92, and a majority expressed their assent to register an edict for successive and annual loans from 1788 to '92; but a protest being entered by the Duke of Orleans, and this encouraging others in a disposition to retract, the King ordered peremptorily the registry of the edict, and left the assembly abruptly. The Parliament immediately protested, that the votes for the enregistry had not been legally taken, and that they gave no sanction to the loans proposed. This was enough to discredit and defeat them. Hereupon issued another edict, for the establishment of a _cour pleniere_ and the suspension of all the Parliaments in the kingdom. This being opposed, as might be expected, by reclamations from all the Parliaments and Provinces, the King gave way, and by an edict of July 5th,'88, renounced his _cour pleniere_, and promised the States General for the first of May, of the ensuing year: and the Archbishop, finding the times beyond his faculties, accepted the promise of a Cardinal's hat, was removed (September '88) from the Ministry, and Mr. Necker was called to the department of finance.


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