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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

De Calonne and advised by the Parliament


The

struggle was about to begin, with all the ardor of personal interest; the principle of provincial assemblies had been favorably received by the notables; the committees (_bureaux_) had even granted to the third estate a representation therein equal to that of the two upper orders, on condition that the presidents of the delegates should be chosen from the nobility or the clergy. The recognition of a civil status for Protestants did not seem likely to encounter any difficulty. For more than twenty years past the parliaments, especially the parliament of Toulouse, had established the ruling of the inadmissibility of any one who disputed the legitimacy of children issue of Protestant marriages. In 1778, the parliament of Paris had deliberated as to presenting to the king a resolution in favor of authentic verification of non-Catholic marriages, births, and deaths; after a long interval, on, the 2d of February, 1787, this resolution had been formally, promulgated.

It was M. de Lafayette who had the honor of supporting in the assembly of notables the royal project announced by M. de Calonne and advised by the Parliament. In the ministry, MM. de Castries and De Breteuil had supported the equitable measure so long demanded by Protestants. M. de Rulhieres had drawn up for the king a note, entitled: _Historic Evidences as to the Causes of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes,_ and M. de Malesherbes had himself presented to Louis XVI. a scheme for

a law. "It is absolutely necessary," said he, "that I should render the Protestants some kind offices; my great-uncle De Baville did them so much injury!" The Assembly of notables appealed to the king's benevolence on behalf of "that considerable portion of his subjects which groans under a regimen of proscription equally opposed to the general interests of religion, to good morals, to population, to national industry, and to all the principles of morality and policy." "In the splendid reign of Louis XIV.," M. de Calonne had said, "the state was impoverished by victories, and the kingdom dispeopled through intolerance." "Are assemblies of non- Catholics dangerous?" asked M. Turgot. "Yes, as long as they are forbidden; no, when they are authorized."

The preliminary discussions had been calm, the great question was coming on; in theory, the notables were forced to admit the principle of equal assessment of the impost; in practice, they were, for the most part, resolved to restrict its application. They carried the war into the enemy's camp, and asked to examine the financial accounts. The king gave notice to the committees that his desire was to have the deliberations directed not to the basis of the question but to the form of collection of taxes. The Archbishop of Narbonne (Dillon) raised his voice against the king's exclusive right to decide upon imposts. "Your Royal Highness will allow me to tell you," was the reply made to the Count of Artois, president of his committee, by an attorney-general of the parliament of Aix, M. de Castillon, "that there exists no authority which can pass a territorial impost such as that proposed, nor this assembly, august as it may be, nor the parliaments, nor the several states, nor the king himself; the States-general alone would have that power."

Thus was proposed, in the very


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