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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

The long robes and the clergy are always at daggers drawn


respect necessary for the working

of personal power: public opinion was no longer content to accuse the favorite and the ministers; it was beginning to make the king responsible for the evils suffered and apprehended. People waited in vain for a decision of the crown to put a stop to the incessantly renewed struggles between the Parliament and the clergy. Disquieted at one and the same time by the philosophical tendencies which were beginning to spread in men's minds, and by the comptroller-general Machault's projects for exacting payment of the imposts upon ecclesiastical revenues, the Archbishop of Paris, Christopher de Beaumont, and the Bishop of Mirepoix, Boyer, who was in charge of the benefice-list, conceived the idea of stifling these dangerous symptoms by an imprudent recourse to the spiritual severities so much dreaded but lately by the people. Several times over, the last sacraments were denied to the dying who had declined to subscribe to the bull Unigenitus, a clumsy measure, which was sure to excite public feeling and revive the pretensions of the Parliaments to the surveillance, in the last resort, over the government of the church; Jansenism, fallen and persecuted, but still living in the depths of souls, numbered amongst the ranks of the magistracy, as well as in the University of Paris, many secret partisans; several parish-priests had writs of personal seizure issued against them, and their goods were confiscated. Decrees succeeded decrees; in spite of the king's feeble opposition the struggle
was extending and reaching to the whole of France. On the 22d of February, 1753, the Parliament of Paris received orders to suspend all the proceedings they had commenced on the ground of refusals of the sacraments; the king did not consent even to receive the representations. By the unanimous vote of the hundred and fifty-eight members sitting on the Court, Parliament determined to give up all service until the king should be pleased to listen. "We declare," said the representation, "that our zeal is boundless, and that we feel sufficient courage to fall victims to our fidelity. The Court could not serve without being wanting to their duties and betraying their oaths."

Indolent and indifferent as he was, King Louis XV. acted as seldom and as slowly as he could; he did not like strife, and gladly saw the belligerents exhausting against one another their strength and their wrath; on principle, however, and from youthful tradition, he had never felt any liking for the Parliaments. "The long robes and the clergy are always at daggers drawn," he would say to Madame de Pompadour "they drive me distracted with their quarrels, but I detest the long robes by far the most. My clergy, at bottom, are attached to me and faithful to me; the others would like to put me in tutelage. . . . They will end by ruining the state; they are a pack of republicans. . . . However, things will last my time, at any rate." Severe measures against the Parliament were decided upon in council. Four magistrates were arrested and sent to fortresses; all the presidents, councillors of inquests and of requests, were exiled; the grand chamber, which alone was spared, refused to administer justice. Being transferred to Pontoise, it persisted in its refusal. It was necessary to form a King's Chamber, installed at the Louvre; all the inferior jurisdictions refused to accept its decrees. After a year's strife, the Parliament returned in triumph to Paris in the month of August, 1754; the clergy received orders not to require from the dying any theological adhesion. Next year, the Archbishop of Paris, who had paid no attention to the prohibition, was exiled in his turn.


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