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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Madame de Pompadour dreaded the influence of the Jesuits


by mutually weakening each other, the great powers and the great influences in the state were wasting away; the reverses of the French arms, the loss of their colonies, and the humiliating peace of Paris aggravated the discontent. In default of good government the people are often satisfied with glory. This consolation, to which the French nation had but lately been accustomed, failed it all at once; mental irritation, for a long time silently brooding, cantoned in the writings of philosophers and in the quatrains of rhymesters, was beginning to spread and show itself amongst the nation; it sought throughout the state an object for its wrath; the powerful society of the Jesuits was the first to bear all the brunt of it.

A French Jesuit, Father Lavalette, had founded a commercial house at Martinique. Ruined by the war, he had become bankrupt to the extent of three millions; the order having refused to pay, it was condemned by the Parliament to do so. The responsibility was declared to extend to all the members of the Institute, and public opinion triumphed over the condemnation with a " quasi-indecent " joy, says the advocate Barbier. Nor was it content with this legitimate satisfaction. One of the courts which had until lately been most devoted to the Society of Jesus had just set an example of severity. In 1759, the Jesuits had been driven from Portugal by the Marquis of Pombal, King Joseph I.'s all-powerful minister; their goods had been

confiscated, and their principal, Malagrida, handed over to the Inquisition, had just been burned as a heretic (Sept. 20, 1761).

The Portuguese Jesuits had been feebly defended by the grandees; the clergy were hostile to them. In France, their enemies showed themselves bolder than their defenders. Proudly convinced of the justice of their cause, the Fathers had declined the jurisdiction of the grand council, to which they had a right, as all ecclesiastical bodies had, and they had consented to hand over to the Parliament the registers of their constitutions, up to that time carefully concealed from the eyes of the profane. The skilful and clear-sighted hostility of the magistrates was employed upon the articles of this code, so stringently framed of yore by enthusiastic souls and powerful minds, forgetful or disdainful of the sacred rights of human liberty. All the services rendered by the Jesuits to the cause of religion and civilization appeared effaced; forgotten were their great missionary enterprises, their founders and their martyrs, in order to set forth simply their insatiable ambition, their thirst after power, their easy compromises with evil passions condemned by the Christian faith. The assaults of the philosophers had borne their fruit in the public mind; the olden rancor of the Jansenists imperceptibly promoted the severe inquiry openly conducted by the magistrates. Madame de Pompadour dreaded the influence of the Jesuits; religious fears might at any time be aroused again in the soul of Louis XV. The dauphin, who had been constantly faithful to them, sought in vain to plead their cause with the king. He had attacked the Duke of Choiseul; the latter so far forgot himself, it is asserted, as to say to the prince, "Sir, I may have the misfortune to be your subject, but I will never be your servant." The minister had hitherto maintained a prudent reserve; he henceforth joined the favorite and the Parliament against the Jesuits.

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