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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

This registration appears to me illegal


M.

d'Espremesnil was overcome; less violent than usual, he had, appealed to the king's heart; for a moment Louis XVI. appeared to be moved, and so was the assembly with him; the edicts were about to be enregistered despite the efforts of the opposition; already the premier president was collecting the votes; the keeper of the seals would not, at this grave moment, renounce any kingly prerogative. "When the king is at the Parliament, there is no deliberation; his will makes law," said the legal rule and the custom of the magistracy. Lamoignon went up to the throne; he said a few words in a low voice. "Mr. Keeper of the seals, have the edicts enregistered," said Louis XVI. The minister immediately repeated the formula used at beds of justice. A murmur ran through the assembly; the Duke of Orleans rose; he had recently become the head of his house through his father's death, and found himself more than ever involved in intrigues hostile to the court. "Sir," said he in a broken voice, "this registration appears to me illegal. . . . It should be distinctly stated that the registration is done by the express command of your Majesty." The king was as much moved as the prince. "It is all the same to me," he replied. "You are master, of course." "Yes,--it is legal, because I so will." The edict relative to non-Catholics was read, and Louis XVI. withdrew.

There was violent commotion in the assembly; the protest of the Duke of Orleans was drawn

up in a more explicit form. "The difference between a bed of justice and a royal session is, that one exhibits the frankness of despotism and the other its duplicity," cried d'Espremesnil. Notwithstanding the efforts of M. de Malesherbes and the Duke of Nivernais, the Parliament inscribed on the registers that it was not to be understood to take any part in the transcription here ordered of gradual and progressive loans for the years 1788, 1789, 1790, 1791, and 1792. In reply, the Duke of Orleans was banished to Villers-Cotterets, whilst Councillors Freteau and Sabatier were arrested and taken to a state-prison.

By the scandalousness of his life, as well as by his obstructive buildings in the Palais-Royal, the Duke of Orleans had lost favor with the public; his protest and his banishment restored him at once to his popularity. The Parliament piled remonstrance upon remonstrance, every day more and more haughty in form as well as in substance. Dipping into the archives in search of antiquated laws, the magistrates appealed to the liberties of olden France, mingling therewith the novel principles of the modern philosophy. "Several pretty well-known facts," they said, "prove that the nation, more enlightened as to its true interests, even in the least elevated classes, is disposed to accept from the hands of your Majesty the greatest blessing a king can bestow upon his subjects --liberty. It is this blessing, Sir, which your Parliament come to ask you to restore, in the name of a generous and faithful people. It is no longer a prince of your blood, it is no longer two magistrates whom your Parliament ask you to restore in the name of the laws and of reason, but three Frenchmen, three men."

To peremptory demands were added perfidious insinuations.

"Such ways, Sir," said one of these remonstrances, "have no place in your heart, such samples of proceeding are not the principles of your Majesty, they come from another source." For the first time the queen was thus held up to public odium by the Parliament which had dealt her a fatal blow by acquitting Cardinal Rohan; she was often present at the king's conferences with his ministers, reluctantly


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