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CHAPTER IX.: LOUIS XIV. AND COLBERT. - Augustin Thierry, The Formation and Progress of the Tiers État, or Third Estate in France vol. 1 
The Formation and Progress of the Tiers État, or Third Estate in France, translated from the French by the Rev. Francis B. Wells, Two volumes in One (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1859).
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LOUIS XIV. AND COLBERT.
Summary:—Development of our Social History from the Twelfth to the Seventeenth Century—Louis XIV. undertakes the Government in person. His character. Two parts in his Reign—Ministry of Colbert, his Plebeian Birth, his Genius—Universality of his plans of Administration—Grand Ordinances. Need of a long Peace—Passion of the King for War—His Conquests—Increasing favour of Louvois—Disgrace of Colbert—He dies, consumed by ennui, and unpopular—Revocation of the Edict of Nantes—Faults of the Reign of Louis XIV.—They all sprang from the same Source—Impression made by the Public Misfortunes—Change which it induced in the minds of Men—Nature and Extent of this Reaction.
The reign of Louis XIV. marks the last boundary in our history of the long social work as accomplished in common by royalty and the commons of the nation, a work of fusion and universal subordination, of national unity, of unity of power, and uniformity of administration. If from this culminating point we carry our view back as far as the reigns of Saint Louis and Philippe-Auguste, we appear to see unfolded before us one consistent plan, formed from the first, and towards the execution of which each century, since the twelfth, has made its contribution. The succession of time makes a line of kings and ministers pass before us, employed on this grand work, and applying all that they had of mind and talent to the service of the same cause. We see the people, for whom they are labouring, and from whom they have derived the elements of their reforming power, sometimes outstripping them by their own efforts, always readily following them, and stimulating them without intermission by their voice in the States-General, by the opposition of the judicial corporations, by all the organs that existed of common right and public opinion. It is thus that by means of progressive mutations, absolute royalty was raised up, the symbol of French unity, the representative of the state, which was easily confounded with it. To this system, which was hostile to liberty as well as to privilege, and of which the second half of the seventeenth century shows us the splendid expansion, the nation had not been forcibly subjected, it had itself resolutely and perseveringly desired it; whatever reproaches may be made against it in the name of the rights of nature, or of historical rights, it certainly was not founded either upon force or fraud, but consciously accepted by all.
Such was the government, which after two ministries, that may be called reigns in reality,* was taken in hand by the son of Louis XIII., at scarcely twenty-three years of age. The young prince, till then a stranger to affairs, addressed these words to the chancellor and his colleagues in the first council which he held: “I have determined to be for the future my own first minister. . . . You will assist me with your counsels, when I shall demand them. . . . I pray and command you, my chancellor, to put your seal to nothing except by my orders. . . . And you, my secretaries of State, and you, sir, the superintendent of the finances, I order to sign nothing without my command.”* This declaration included a promise of effective personal labour every day; Louis XIV. proved himself faithful to it during his whole life, and this is one of the characteristic traits and one of the glories of his reign.† Never did the head of a nation entertain a higher and more serious idea of what he himself emphatically called the business of a king.* In this way the exercise of power, which, since the death of Henry IV., had been carried on only by delegation, was reunited to its principle, and royalty, reduced during half a century to the state of a mere idea, became again, if I may use the expression, a person. This revolution, which naturally simplified the sovereign authority, was joyfully hailed by the popular sympathy and hope; the termination was here beheld of those evils, which the people always impute to intermediate agents placed between the throne and the nation: no one at that time foresaw the vast and singular consequences.
Louis XIV., together with a rare dignity of character, possessed a sound understanding, the instinct of government and order, the talent for affairs even in their detail, a great power of application, and a remarkable strength of will; but he wanted the high range of view and the independence of mind which had placed Richelieu and Mazarin in the first rank of statesmen. His determination to act in every thing according to the rule of his duty, and to have no object but the public good, was profound and sincere. His Memoirs, which still exist, express this with an effusion of feeling sometimes affecting;* but he had not the strength always to follow the moral law which he imposed on himself. In wishing to make but one object of his own happiness and the welfare of the State, he was too much inclined to confound the state with himself, to absorb it into his own person.† He too frequently mistook the voice of his passions for that of his duties, and the general interest, that which he boasted to love the most, was sacrificed by him to his family interest, to an ambition which knew no limits, and to an unregulated love of applause and glory.* His long life exhibits him more and more rapidly carried down this dangerous descent. We behold him, at first, modest, and at the same time firm of purpose, loving men of superior minds, and seeking the best advice;† next, preferring the flatterer to the man of information, welcoming advice, not because it was the soundest, but most conformable to his tastes; lastly, listening only to himself, and choosing for his ministers men without talent or without experience, whom he took upon himself to form. Thus this reign, though justly considered glorious, offers very different phases; it may be divided into two parts, almost equal in point of time, the one of grandeur, the other of decline; and in the first may likewise be distinguished two periods, that of the successful years, in which all is made prosperous by a powerful will directed by a sound reason; and that in which the decline commences, from passion assuming the empire at the expense of reason.
It was the genius of a man of the Tiers Etat, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the son of a trader, that gave the creative inspiration to the government of Louis XIV.* Colbert was minister twenty-two years, and during that period,* the best of the reign, the public prosperity was proportioned to the degree of influence which his mind exercised over the will of the king. That mind, in its inmost nature, was allied to that of Richelieu, for whose memory Colbert professed a genuine admiration.† From his entrance into office, he brought forward again the plans of the great minister, and proposed as his object the execution of all that that extraordinary man had been able only to sketch, to point out or to catch a glimpse of. In the sphere of foreign relations, the work of Richelieu was already accomplished, but the ground could only be cleared and the ways marked out by him for the internal reorganisation of the kingdom. By diplomacy and war, he and his able successor had secured to France a preponderating position among the States of Europe; but it still remained to give it a degree of wealth and prosperity equal to its greatness abroad, to create and develope all the elements of its financial, industrial, and commercial capabilities. This is what was undertaken by a man who possessed neither the title nor the rights of first minister, the servant of a monarch, tenacious of his personal authority, and jealous on this point even to a mania.* Richelieu had effected great things in his full liberty of action; Colbert effected some, no less important, in a state of the strictest dependance, under the necessity of giving satisfaction in every matter that he had to decide upon, and under the condition, too, of never enjoying openly any merit of his own actions, of taking upon himself in the government the anxieties, the errors, the popular injustice, and of making over to another the success, the glory, and the public gratitude.
In that association which bound Louis XIV. and Colbert together in the same work, nothing was more strange than the contrast of their persons and characters. The king, young and brilliant, ostentatious, lavish, carried away by pleasure, possessing in the highest degree the carriage and tastes of a gentleman; the minister, joining to the sterling qualities of the middle class, to the spirit of order, forecast, and economy, the tone and manners of a bourgeois; grown old before his time in subordinate duties and continual labours, Colbert had not lost the impression which they had left upon him: his address was awkward, his person ungraceful, his features severe, even to harshness. This rude covering, however, inclosed within it a spirit zealous for the public weal, eager for action and for power, but still more devoted than ambitious.* Cold as ice towards applicants for favour, and sympathising little with complaints concerning private interest; he was animated with tenderness and enthusiasm at the idea of the happiness of the people and the glory of France.* Thus all that constitutes the welfare, all that forms the splendour of a country was embraced by him in his patriotic reflections. Happy would France have been with all the prosperity to which she could then aspire, if the king, who had placed his faith in Colbert on the dying recommendation of Mazarin,† had always followed the admirable guide whom Providence had given him. At least, in the twenty-two years of that ministry, marked both by favour and disgrace, he permitted him to put his hand to almost every department of government, and all that Colbert touched was transformed by his genius. We are seized with astonishment and respect at the sight of that colossal administration which seems to have concentrated in a few years the labour and the progress of a whole century.
If there be a science in the management of the public interests, Colbert is the founder of it among us. His acts and his efforts, the measures which he took, and the counsels which he gave, prove on his part the design of concentrating all the administrative institutions, till then disconnected, in one system, and of attaching them to one superior mind as to their common principle. This mind, whose greatness Louis XIV. had the merit to perceive and respect, was able also to prescribe to itself: to prompt the national genius to soar into all the ways of civilization, to develope at once all the activities, the intellectual energy, and the productive powers of France. Colbert laid down for himself, in terms which might be considered altogether modern, the rule of government which he wished to follow in order to reach his object: it was to distinguish the conditions of men in two classes—those which tend to withdraw themselves from labour—the source of the prosperity of the State, and those which by a life of industry tend to the public weal;to throw obstacles in the way of the first, and to forward the others by rendering them, as much as possible advantageous and honourable.* He reduced the number and value of appointments, in order that the bourgeoisie, rendered less eager in pursuit of them, might turn their ambition and their capitals to commerce; and he allured the nobility to accept them by combating the prejudice which, with the exception of military service and some high employments of State, made it a point of honour with them to lead a life without occupation.† The competition of labour—such was the new spirit which he proposed to infuse into French society; and in accordance with which he conceived the immense design of entirely remodelling the legislation, and of forming it into one body, similar to the code of Justinian.*
To this design we must refer, as fragments of one and the same work, the grand ordinances of the reign of Louis XIV., which were so admirable, considering the period, and of which so many provisions still remain at the present day, the civil ordinance, the criminal ordinance, the ordinance of commerce, that of forests and waters, and that of the marine.* Colbert, at first only simple intendant, afterwards comptroller-general of the finances, had by the ascendancy of his talents constrained the king to raise his position in the council to that of director of all the economic interests of the State. From the very sphere within which the character of his office seemed necessarily to confine him, he at once directed his view to the highest regions of political thought, and, embracing all subjects in one compendious whole, he considered them, not in themselves, but in their relation to that ideal of productive order and increasing prosperity which he had formed in his own mind. It seemed to him that a great nation, a society truly complete, ought to be at once agricultural, manufacturing, and naval; and that France, with her people born for action of every kind, with her vast territory and her two seas, was destined to success in these three branches of human industry. This success, general or partial, was, in his eyes, the supreme object and the only legitimate foundation of financial combinations. He imposed on himself the task of assessing the taxes, not upon the privations of the people, but upon an increase of the general wealth, and he succeeded, in spite of enormous obstacles, in augmenting the revenue of the State, while at the same time he reduced the amount to the individual tax-payer.*
Colbert made a provision for intellectual interests enter largely into his plans, which were formed especially with a view to material prosperity. He perceived that, viewed as a matter of national economy, relations existed between all kinds of labour, between all the capabilities of a people; he understood the power of science in the production of wealth, the influence of taste upon industry, of the intellectual upon the manual arts. Among the celebrated institutions of his creation are the Academy of Science, the Academy of Inscriptions and belles-lettres, the academies of painting, sculpture, and architecture, the French school in Rome, the school of Oriental languages, the Observatory, the provision for teaching the law in Paris. He instituted, as part of the public service, and of the ordinary expenditure, pensions for literary persons, scholars, and artists; and his benefits to them were not confined to the limits of the kingdom. With respect to the particular measures of this great minister for the industrial regeneration of France, their details would exceed the limits within which I am obliged to confine myself. The changes which he effected in all the branches of the financial administration, his labours to increase or to create a national capital under all its forms,* his encouragements of every kind bestowed on all classes of persons who were co-operating in the work of production, from the head of an enterprise down to the simple labourer; that vast and harmonious body of laws, regulations, statutes, precepts, foundations, projects, are ably set forth in recent publications.† It will be sufficient for me to refer the reader to them, and to say that it is owing to the impulse given by Colbert to that principle of new life diffused among us, now about two centuries ago, that we must be reckoned among the maritime and commercial powers of the world.
Colbert had this in common with others gifted with an organizing genius, that he formed new objects by means which were not new, and used as an instrument everything which he found ready to his hand. Far from striving against ancient usages and practices, he had the art of extracting strength from them, giving life to that which appeared inactive and worn out by the inspiration of his will, and by original modes of application. It is thus that in the case of the finances and of commerce, he transformed an accumulation of empirical proceedings into a system profound and reasonable. Thence were derived his power and marvellous success in his own times, the doctrines of which he did not shock; thence also the weakness of some parts of his work in the eyes of experience, subsequently acquired, and of science formed after him. Was he wrong in not taking account of the desire of the States-General in 1614 for ameliorating the system of the monopoly of corporations, and of receding from that first aspiration of France towards the liberty of labour?* The answer to this question, and to others of the same kind which are raised by the administration of Colbert,* cannot be made without taking other things into consideration. Everything is connected together in the acts of the great minister of Louis XIV.; and in this systematic whole two facts are conspicuous: the first is, that he made everything emanate from the principle of authority, that he beheld in industrial France nothing but a vast school to be formed under the discipline of the State;† the second is, that the immediate results of his policy gave him ample reason for it, and that he succeeded in advancing the nation onward by half a century.‡
Long years of war were necessary for the accomplishment of Richelieu’s work;—in order that the work of Colbert, the complement of the other, should be freely developed, and yield all its fruits, long years of peace were required. After the treaty of Westphalia and that of the Pyrenees,* a lasting peace seemed to be insured to Europe and to France; but Louis XIV. did not allow what these two great compacts promised. At the moment when the young king appeared entirely devoted to the cares of internal prosperity,† he broke the peace of the world, under a strange pretext, to incur the hazards of an external aggrandisement. He undertook in behalf of the pretended claims of his wife, the infanta Marie-Therese, and against the advice of his best counsellors, the war of invasion which was terminated by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle,‡ a war that was unjust, though the event of it was fortunate for the king and for France. The king gained in it a repute for political and military ability; France, by acquiring many cities in Belgium,* made a considerable step towards the attainment of her natural extension. But there was something fatal in this first stroke of fortune. The passion of military glory once awakened in the breast of Louis XIV. never slept again; it cooled his zeal for pacific labours; it made him pass from the influence of Colbert under that of a counsellor the most unfortunate;† and not only did it make him pay less attention to domestic improvement than to foreign conquests, but, even in external affairs, it turned him away from the true French policy, from that policy at once national and liberal, the plan of which had been conceived by Henri IV., and the edifice raised by Richelieu.*
Whatever embarrassment may be experienced in forming an accurate judgment, in a patriotic point of view, of the policy of a reign, from which France issued with her frontiers determined on the north, and, in great measure, on the east,† it is necessary to distinguish two things in the wars of Louis XIV.: the result and the intention; the conquests which were retained with a reasonable claim, and the insane enterprises, which aiming very far beyond the limit which justice could warrant, were yet brought back to it at a later period by the force of circumstances which proved fortunate. The war with Holland, by the spirit of vengeance which it inspired, and the manner in which it was conducted, had this character; if it was the cause of the territorial advantages, which were attained at the peace of Nimeguen, it was because the Court of Madrid, by allying itself to the enemies of the king, furnished him with the opportunity of making a fresh attack upon Franche-Comté and the low countries belonging to Spain.‡ A similar extension of territory did not result from the war with Germany; all the conquests made during that war of nine years were given up by the treaty of Ryswyk, that, among others, which gave to France her natural frontier of the Alps.* Lastly, in the crisis brought on by the extinction of the Royal Family of Spain,† Louis XIV., having the choice, preferred the chances of a crown for his grandson to the extension of his dominions with the consent of Europe. His personal glory and his family formed the twofold interest which he followed more and more at the cost of the national interests, by breaking down the whole system of ancient alliances, by making France abandon the part of guardian of the public right and the protectress of small states, to render her in the view of surrounding nations an object of fear and hatred, like the Spain of Philip the Second.‡
This fatal war with Holland, which began to make shipwreck of the policy of Richelieu, struck with the same blow the financial system of Colbert, and falsified all his measures. It was impossible for him to make provision during six years for the expenses of an armed struggle against Europe, without departing from the admirable arrangements which he had formed, without having recourse to the expedients of his predecessors, and compromising the new elements of domestic prosperity. From 1672 to 1678 all economic ameliorations were arrested or thrown back; and when peace came, and it was necessary to repair losses and to recommence improvements, the mind and favour of the king were no longer with Colbert. A man gifted with a special talent for the administration of war, but of a narrow mind and egotistical feelings, an excessive flatterer, a dangerous counsellor, and a wretched politician, the Marquis de Louvois, had secured the favour of Louis XIV., by ministering to and exciting his passion for glory and conquest. That unbounded confidence which had made almost a first minister of the comptroller-general of the finances was now withdrawn from him, and transferred to the Secretary of State for War, and together with the favour of the king, the preponderating influence in the council.
Reduced from that time to the ungrateful task of opposing the voice of reason to a party hurried onward by pride, violence, and foreign encroachments, of protecting the exhausted treasury from continually increasing demands for fêtes, pleasure-houses, and military government in the midst of peace, Colbert sank by degrees under the fatigue of that fruitless and hopeless struggle. He was observed to be melancholy, and was heard to sigh at the very hour of his former delight, the hour of sitting down to his work.* He felt that he was regarded as a burden, in all the good that he wished to effect, in all the evil that he strove to prevent, in the frankness of his language, in all that the king had once loved in him.† Many times after some unmistakeable symptoms of disgrace, the high mettle of his spirit and his sense of patriotic duty still raised and supported him under his mortifications; but at last a day came when the bitterness of this situation overflowed, and the heart of the great man was broken.
Such is the sad history of the last years of Colbert. Years filled up, on the one hand with fits of feverish activity, and on the other with those alternations of estrangement and reconciliation, of galling slights and cold reparations, which mark the termination of a distinguished favour. The melancholy, which beyond a doubt shortened his life, was fostered by two feelings,—the disappointment of a statesman checked in the midst of his work, and a suffering of a still deeper nature. Colbert had loved Louis XIV. with an enthusiastic affection; he believed in him as the personified idea of the public good; he had formerly seen him associated heart and soul in his labours and his dreams, and considered him, superior though he was in rank, his equal in patriotic devotion; and now he was obliged to confess to himself that all this was an illusion, that the object of his worship, ungrateful to himself, was less patriotic also. It was in this disenchantment that he died.* On his death-bed the state of his mind betrayed itself by a gloomy uneasiness, and by some bitter remarks. He said, in speaking of the king, “If I had done for God what I have done for that man, I should be twice saved, and I now know not what is to become of me.”† A letter having been brought to him from Louis XIV., who was then also unwell, with some friendly expressions, he continued silent, as if he were asleep. When asked by his attendants to send a word in answer, he said, “I do not want to hear any more said about the king, but that he may at least now leave me at peace; it is to the King of kings that I am thinking how to make my answer.”‡ And when the vicar of St. Eustache, his parish, came to tell him that he had asked the prayers of the faithful for his recovery; “Not so,” replied Colbert, abruptly, “let them pray God to have mercy upon me.”§
There was an unhappy fatality in the destiny of this noble character which death itself did not arrest. It was strange that the minister who anticipated in his plans a revolution which was to come, the reign of industry and commerce, he who wished for the abolition of privileges in respect of taxation, a just proportion in the public burdens, the diffusion of capital by the diminution of interest, a great degree of wealth and honour for the encouragement of labour, and a liberal assistance to poverty,* —this very person was unpopular even to hatred. His funeral procession having to pass near the markets, did not set out till nightfall, and under escort, for fear of some insult from the people. The people, and especially that of Paris, hated Colbert in consequence of the heavy taxes established since the war with Holland; they charged him with the necessity against which he had in vain contended; and they forgot immense services, to render him responsible for measures which he deplored himself, and which he had been forced to take against his will. The king was ungrateful, the people ungrateful; posterity alone has been just.
The death of Colbert and the revocation of the edict of Nantes, an irreparable loss and a fatal stroke of policy, mark the point of distinction in the reign of Louis XIV. between the years of greatness and the years of decline; of these two events, separated by a short interval, it cannot be said that the second had not some connexion with the first. We must add to the merits of the great minister that of his having been the defender of the Protestants, of his having consistently withstood the blows aimed by the spirit of religious unity against the charter of liberty made by Henry IV.* It was moreover the policy of Richelieu, which he followed while maintaining the harmless rights guaranteed on two occasions to the Protestants.† Less from principle than patriotic instinct he protected in this party a body of men such as he required for his plans, men active, upright, educated, experienced in industry and commerce, and attached to those professions by the very ill-will which gradually excluded them from public duties. So long as the influence of Colbert continued in the councils of Louis XIV., the mind of the King was kept on the watch against the suggestions of the catholic clergy, and his own particular inclinations;* but on this point, as on many others, the giddiness of absolute power commenced when his favour was withdrawn from the man of genius. It was thus that the exercise of constraint succeeded to the allurements used to draw back the dissenters, and that after the penalties enacted against the relapse of new converts followed the entire abolition of the liberty of worship and conscience. The immortal edict of Henry IV., confirmed and ratified by Louis XIII. in 1629, was revoked by Louis XIV. on the 17th October, 1685;† a date to be remembered among the sad recollections of our history. We know what a fearful blow this act of violence and its consequences dealt to the civilisation and the prosperity of France; how, by the emigration of workmen, inventors, traders, seamen, capitalists, the advantage which the institutions of Colbert had given us over our rivals in industry was almost entirely lost.*
In 1685, almost a century had passed since France, preceding in this respect the other nations of Christendom, had entered on that new state of society in which the Church is separated from the State, the social duties from the concerns of the conscience, and the believer from the citizen. Under the system of the edict of Nantes, the legal principle in the matter of religion was not only simple toleration, but the equality of civil rights between Catholics and Protestants; the recognition also, and, with some exceptions, the full liberty of the two forms. We were, in this respect, superior to both catholic and protestant Europe, a superiority acquired at the price of forty years’ misfortunes, and perhaps by the assistance of a more prompt perception of justice and right.* It was from the height of this principle, laid down in the law, and which existed in spite of violations more or less direct, more or less serious, that the edict of Nantes again reduced the country to a system of violence and anomalies, which, to become consistent, terminated in the civil death of the Protestants.† Such is the point of view from which the historian must judge of the act of authority which was, if not a crime, the greatest of errors in Louis XIV. In this point of view neither the ideas nor the practices of the other states of Europe in point of civil toleration can serve as an excuse for the conduct of France; France for a century had raised the right of her people above the ideas of the time.
With respect to the reaction of Catholicism in the country, that cannot with any more reason be used as an apology, for this was nothing new, and two great ministers had been able to withstand this influence during thirty years; although both members of the Church, they kept themselves within the limits marked out by public honour and state policy.* Louis XIV. was perfectly free to think and act like them; in his reign the Protestants no longer excited alarm, and the pressure of catholic intolerance had not become more embarrassing. He had only to leave matters in the state in which he had found them,† not to be made the dupe of pretended conversions which were concocted to please him; not to become, unless he wished it, an atrocious persecutor; lastly, not to bequeath at his death to the France of the eighteenth century, a whole code of proscriptions more odious than those of the sixteenth.*
The great fact, unforeseen at the time, which prevails over the whole reign of Louis XIV., is, that, in this reign—the last term of the movement of France towards monarchic unity—the absolute power, exercised personally by the king, is seen to fall, for the good of the real national interests, below what the same power had previously been when delegated to a first minister. Richelieu, and after him Mazarin, governing as if they had been dictators of a republic, had extinguished, if I may use the expression, their personality in the idea and service of the state. Possessing only the exercise of authority, they both conducted themselves as responsible agents towards the sovereign and before the judgment of the country; while Louis XIV., combining the exercise with the right, considered himself exempted from all rule but that of his own will, and acknowledged no responsibility for his actions except to his own conscience. It was this conviction of his universal power, a conviction genuine and sincere, excluding both scruples and remorse, which made him upset one after the other the twofold system founded by Henry IV., of religious liberty at home,* and abroad of a national preponderance resting upon a generous protection of the independence of states and European civilisation.
At the personal accession of Louis XIV., more than fifty years had passed since France had pursued the work of her policy in Europe, impartial towards the various communions of christians, the different forms of governments, and the internal revolutions of the States. Although France was catholic and monarchical, her alliances were, in the first place, with the Protestant states of Germany and with republican Holland; she had even made friendly terms with regicide England.* No other interest but that of the well-understood development of the national resources had weight in her councils, and directed the internal action of her government. But all was changed by Louis XIV., and special interests, the spawn of royal personality, of the principle of the hereditary monarchy, or of that of the State religion, were admitted, soon to fly upward in the scale.
Thence resulted the overthrow of the system of the balance of power in Europe, which might be justly called the French system, and the abandonment of it for dreams of an universal monarchy, revived after the example of Charles V. and Philip II. Thence a succession of enterprises, formed in opposition to the policy of the country, such as the war with Holland, the factions made with a view to the Imperial crown, the support given to James II. and the counter-revolution in England, the acceptance of the throne of Spain for a son of France, preserving his rights to the Crown.* These causes of misfortune, under which the kingdom was obliged to succumb, all issued from the circumstance applauded by the nation and conformable to the spirit of its tendencies, which, after royalty had attained its highest degree of power under two ministers, delivered it unlimited into the hands of a prince endowed with qualities at once brilliant and solid, an object of enthusiastic affection and legitimate admiration.
When the reign, which was to crown under such auspices the ascendant march of the French monarchy, had falsified the unbounded hopes which its commencements had excited; when in the midst of fruitless victories and continually increasing reverses, the people beheld progress in all the branches of public economy changed into distress,—the ruin of the finances, industry, and agriculture,—the exhaustion of all the resources of the country,—the impoverishment of all classes of the nation, the dreadful misery of the population, they were seized with a bitter disappointment of spirit, which took the place of the enthusiasm of their confidence and love.* What was there under the great and wretched mistake the impression of which still appears so vividly in the contemporaneous documents? It was not simply the feeling of human hope disappointed by an individual, it was the decisive test of a form of government prepared far back by the labours of ages, for the benefit of which every guarantee of political liberty had been destroyed or abandoned, and the progress of which the masses of the nation had favoured as if it were their own.
I do not here mean to assert, that the people of France had a consciousness of the nature and depths of the crisis of which their actual depression was but a prelude, that they had a perception of events which subsequent generations have only learnt from the consequences of circumstances and the teaching of history. Whatever meaning it might then have had for those who were suffering from it, the strange contrast between the first and last years of Louis XIV. corresponded to one of those solemn moments in the life of nations, in which a great social movement, the results of which are exhausted, is arrested, and in which another movement commences, which, with more or less secrecy and speed, is about to seize upon the public mind, to transform it, and to hurry everything towards an unknown future.
[* ]The ministry of Richelieu occupied eighteen years, from 1624 to 1642; and that of Mazarin nineteen years, from 1642 to 1661.
[* ]Mémoires de Henri-Louis de Brienne, éd. Barrière, 1828, t. ii., p. 155. Mém. de l’Abbé de Choisy, Coll. Michaud, 3e serie, t. vi., p. 576, and Mém. de Madame de Motteville, ibid., p. 586.
[† ]I imposed on myself, as a law, the duty of working twice every day, and two or three hours each time, with different persons, without reckoning the hours that I passed by myself in private, or the time that I might devote extraordinarily to extraordinary affairs, if anything unlooked-for occurred, not reserving a moment in which it was forbidden to speak with me, however little pressing they might be. (Mém. de Louis XIV., adressés à son fils; Œuvres de Louis XIV., t. i., p. 20. Ibid, p. 19.)
[* ]A writing of Louis XIV., entirely in his own hand, is entitled, Reflexions sur le Métier de Roi; as the heads of Articles are found the following maxims: to refer everything to the good of the State; the interest of the State ought to have precedence; to think on everything; to have a watch over oneself. (Œuvres de Louis XIV., t. ii., p. 456.) I shall have not only to tell you that it is by means of labour that kings reign, but for this that they reign; and there is something of ingratitude and impiety towards God, of injustice and tyranny towards man, to wish for the Government without the labour. (Mém. de Louis XIV., Ibid., t. i., p. 19.)
[* ]I have always considered the satisfaction which is found in the discharge of duty as the sweetest pleasure in the world. I have even frequently wondered how it could be that the love of work being a quality so necessary for sovereigns, should yet be one of those most rarely found in them. (Œuvres de Louis XIV., t. i., p. 105.) When I took the government of my kingdom, I considered well that my reputation would be at the mercy of all the world, who probably would not always render me justice. But as I only thought of acquitting myself well of all that I owe to my people and my own dignity, I despised all other glories in order to discharge my duty. I believed the first quality of a king to be firmness, and that he must never allow his virtue to be shaken by blame or praise; that in order to govern his State well, the happiness of his subjects was the pole which alone he ought to look to, without troubling himself about the tempests and various winds which might continually agitate his vessel. (Ibid., t. ii., p. 422.)
[† ]Lastly, my son, we ought to consider the welfare of our subjects much more than our own. It seems that they form a part of ourselves, since we are the head of a body of which they are members. It is only for their own advantage that we should give them laws, and that power which we possess over them should only serve to make us labour more efficaciously for their happiness. (Ibid., t. i., p. 116.) When they have the State in view, they labour for it. The good of the one forms the glory of the other. When the first is happy, elevated, and powerful, he who is the cause of it is glorious in consequence, and it follows that he ought to enjoy in a greater degree than his subjects, in respect both to him and them, all that is most agreeable in life. (Ibid., t. i., p. 457.)
[* ]See the introduction to the beautiful work of M. Mignet, Négociations relatives à la succession d’Espagne sous Louis XIV.
[† ]To deliberate at leisure upon all the most important matters, and to take counsel upon them with various persons, is not, as fools imagine, a proof of weakness or dependance, but rather a sign of prudence and stability of character. It is a surprising but, notwithstanding, a true maxim, that those who, from a wish to show themselves masters of their own conduct, are willing to take counsel in nothing, scarcely ever do anything as they desire. (Œuvres de Louis XIV., t. ii., p. 113.)
[* ]Colbert’s father was a cloth-dealer, at Rheims, where he kept a shop with the sign of the “Long Vêtu,” and joined to that department a trade in linen, wine, and corn. There were many branches of his family equally devoted to the business, in which he himself served his apprenticeship, first in Paris, and afterwards at Lyons. When he returned to Paris he quitted the counter, and was successively clerk to a notary, clerk in an attorney’s office at the Châtelet, clerk in the receiver’s office of finance, which is called the board of escheats, private secretary to Cardinal Mazarin, and, lastly, intendant of his establishment. Mazarin, on his death-bed, recommended him warmly to the king. The following expression is found in the instructions which he wrote with his own hand for his eldest son: “My son ought to think deeply and reflect frequently upon what he would have been by birth if God had not blessed my labours, and if those labours had not been excessive.” (See l’Histoire de la Vie et de l’Administration de Colbert, by M. Pierre Clément, Pièces Justificatives, Nos. vi. and xii.
[* ]From 1661 to 1683.
[† ]Colbert was such a faithful observer of the maxims of Richelieu as to draw forth pleasantries on the part of the late king. . . . When there was an important matter in hand, the late king used to say, “Here is Colbert, who will say to us, ‘Sire, that great man, Cardinal de Richelieu,’ &c. &c.” (Mém. de M. de Valincourt, sur la Marine, joint au Mém. du Marquis de Villette, published by M. de Monmerqué for the Historical Society of France, p. 211.)
[* ]With respect to the persons who were to second my labour, I determined above all things to have no first minister; and if you will trust me for it, my son, and all your successors after you, the name will be for ever abolished in France; nothing being so unworthy as to see all the exercise of power on one side, and on the other the empty title of king. For this purpose it was absolutely necessary to divide my confidence and the execution of my orders, without entrusting them entirely to one person. (Œuvres de Louis XIV., t. i., p. 27.) Do not divide out your work without reserving a part of it in your own power. Do not give up to another anything but what it will be impossible for you to retain; for whatever care you may be able to take, much more will always escape you than is to be desired. (Ibid., p. 150.) The Portuguese Ambassador said to him one day, “Sire, I will arrange that matter with your ministers.” “Monsieur l’Ambassadeur,” replied the king, “you mean to say our people of business.” (Les Portraits de la Cour, Archives curieuses de l’Histoire de France, 3e série, t. viii., p. 371.)
[* ]He is a man without parade, without luxury, of moderate expenditure, who readily sacrifices all his pleasures and amusements to the interests of the State, and the cares of office. He is active and vigilant, firm and incorruptible on the side of his duty; one who avoids party, and is unwilling to enter into any treaty without making the king acquainted with it, and without an express order from His Majesty; who proves himself superior to an inordinate desire of wealth, but having a strong passion for amassing and preserving the property of the king. (Les Portraits de la Cour, Archives curieuses de l’Histoire de France, 3e série, t. viii., p. 371. See the Histoire de la Vie et de l’Administration de Colbert, by M. Pierre Clément, la Notice sur Colbert, by Lemontey, and the report as made by M. Villemain at the annual meeting of the French Academy, 17th August, 1848.)
[* ]I would that my projects might have a happy result, that abundance might reign in the kingdom, that everyone might be content in it, and that without offices, without honours, far from the court and public affairs, l’herbe crût dans ma cour. (Words of Colbert quoted by d’Auvigny, Vies des Hommes Illustres de la France, t. v., p. 376.) For my part, I declare to your Majesty that an entertainment at 3000 francs causes me incredible trouble; but when it is a question of millions of money for Poland, I would sell all I have, I would place my wife and children in service, I would go on foot all my life in order to supply it, if it were necessary. (Letter of Colbert to Louis XIV., Particularités sur les Ministres des Finances, by M. de Monthyon, p. 44.)
[† ]It is said that the cardinal, when dying, advised him to rid himself of Fouquet as a person subject to his passions, dissipated, and haughty—one who would assume the ascendant over him; that, instead of him, Colbert, a person of more modesty and less reputation, would be ready for everything, and would regulate the State as he would a private establishment. It is also said that he added these words (and M. Colbert used to boast of them to his friends): “I owe everything to you, Sire, but I believe that I acquit myself in some degree by giving you Colbert.” (Memoires de l’Abbé de Choisy, Collect. Michaud et Poujoulat, 3e série, t. vii., p. 579.)
[* ]Care must also be taken that all those who shall be appointed for this business have more ability and probity than ordinary. . . . It will be very necessary that they be careful to place difficulties in the way of all conditions of men who are inclined to withdraw themselves from that labour which tends to the general welfare of the State. By these conditions are meant the too great number of officers of justice, of priests, monks, and nuns; and these two last not only ease themselves of the labour which should contribute to the common good, but even deprive the public of all the children which they might produce for the performance of necessary and useful duties. For this purpose, it will perhaps be necessary to render religious vows rather more difficult, to make a more advanced age necessary for their validity, and to suppress the custom of portions and pensions for nuns, to forward also and render honourable and advantageous, as much as can be, all the conditions of persons which tend to the public good—that is to say, soldiers, merchants, labourers, and journeymen. (Project of a general revision of ordinances, a speech delivered by Colbert in the council of October 10, 1665, Revue Retrospective, 2e série, t. iv., p. 257 and following.
[† ]As commerce, and especially the maritime, is the fruitful source which supplies abundance to States, and diffuses it over the people in proportion to their industry and labour, so there is no means of acquiring wealth more innocent and more legitimate. It has also been ever held in high esteem among the most civilised nations. . . . As it concerns the welfare of our subjects and our own satisfaction to efface entirely the traces of an opinion, which has been universally diffused, that maritime commerce is incompatible with nobility, and that it destroys its privileges, we have considered it advisable to make our intention on the subject understood, and to declare that maritime commerce does not derogate from nobility, by a law, which should be made public and generally received through the whole extent of our kingdom. (Edict of August, 1669, Rec. des anciennes Lois Francaises, t. xviii., p. 217. See Forbonnais, Recherches et Considerations sur les Finances de France, t. ii., p. 150, et 362; t. iii., p. 257.)
[* ]But if your Majesty has proposed to yourself some very great design, such as to reduce all the kingdom to the same law, the same weights and measures, which would assuredly be a design worthy of the greatness of your Majesty, worthy of your spirit and your age, and which would elicit an endless amount of blessings and glory; though your Majesty could only have the honour of its execution, since the design itself was formed by Louis XI., who was beyond contradiction the most able of all our kings. (Project of a general revision of ordinances, Revue Retrospective, 2e série, t. iv, p. 248.) After having advanced this work, your Majesty would perhaps wish that they should proceed to complete the whole body of your ordinances, and to examine in the same manner those which concern the domains of the crown, the finances, the forests and waters, the admiralty, and office of the constable, the duties of all the appointments and offices of the kingdom, . . . . and generally to render this body of ordinances as complete as that of Justinian with respect to the Roman law. (Ibid., p. 258.)
[* ]Civil ordinance touching the reform of justice (April, 1667); ordinance for the reform of justice, being a continuation of that of April, 1667 (August, 1669). Edict containing a general regulation of waters and forests (August, 1669); criminal ordinance (August, 1670); ordinance of commerce (March, 1673); ordinance of the marine (August 1681.) Rec. des anciennes Lois Francaises, t. xviii., p. 103, 341, 219, and 371: t. xix., p. 92 and 282.
[* ]See the Recherches of Forbonnais on the finances of France, and the work of M. Pierre Clément on the Administration of Colbert.
[* ]Roads, canals, civil and military buildings, arsenals, the mercantile and national marine.
[† ]See the Histoire de France, of M. Henri Martin, t. xiv.; the work of M. Pierre Clément, quoted above, and the Histoire de l’Administration en France, depuis le règne de Philippe Auguste jusqu’à la mort de Louis XIV., by M. Dureste de la Chavanne.
[* ]See above, Chapter VII—Edict of March, 1673, importing that those who employ themselves in commerce, sale of provisions, or in arts, and do not belong to any community, shall be formed into corporations, communities, and wards, and that they shall have statutes granted them. (Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xix., p. 91.)
[* ]Especially that of the rates of the customs. See the edict of September, 1664, reducing and diminishing the duties on exports and imports, with the suppression of many duties, (Recherches of Forbonnais under that date); and the analysis made by M. Pierre Clément of the ordinance of September, 1667, Histoire de la Vie et de l’Administration de Colbert, p. 231 and 315.
[† ]The arts were new or almost totally forgotten by the interruption caused by commerce. We were ignorant of the tastes of the foreign consumer, our manufacturers, poor, crushed by taxation, and by shame at their condition, had neither the means nor the courage to go to distant sources for information. Imitation, and not invention, formed their occupation. The minister issued instructions to the workmen, and the greater part were good, for they were drawn up by merchants or persons experienced either in art or in foreign commerce. Each rule was backed up by its incentive to adopt it. (Forbonnais, Recherches et Considérations sur les Finances de France, t. ii., p. 366.)
[‡ ]See in the work of M. Dureste de la Chavanne, Histoire de l’Administration en France, &c., t. ii., p. 221, a table of the manufactures instituted by Colbert.
[* ]1648 and 1659.
[† ]The affection which we bear to our subjects having made us prefer the satisfaction of giving them peace, to our glory and the aggrandisement of our States, we have at the same time made it our principal care to enable them to gather the fruits of a perfect tranquillity; and as commerce, manufactures, and agriculture are the surest and most legitimate means to introduce abundance into our kingdom, so we have overlooked none of the inducements which could influence our subjects to apply themselves to them. (Edit de Decembre, 1665, portant réduction des rentes du denier dix-huit au denier vingt; Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xviii., p. 69.)
[‡ ]This treaty was signed the 2nd May, 1668. See the work of M. Mignet upon the droit de devolution called for by Louis XIV. on the death of Philip IV., King of Spain, and upon the events of the war of 1667. Négociations relatives à la Succession d’Espagne, t. ier, 2e partie, sec. 1 et 2; t. ii., 3e partie, sec. 2.—Those who opposed this war in the council of the King were Colbert and the minister of foreign affairs, De Lionne, one of the greatest diplomatists that France had had, the negotiator of the treaty of Westphalia, of the league of the Rhine, and of the treaty of the Pyrenees. “If, before the war in Flanders, they had given Cambray, or even Bergues, to the king, he would perhaps have been satisfied. De Lionne especially was in despair at the war.” (Œuvres de Racine, t. vi., p. 338.)
[* ]Charleroi, Binch, Ath, Douai, Tournai, Oudenarde, Lille, Armentières, Courtrai, Bergues, and Furnes.
[† ]The Marquis de Louvois, son of the minister Letellier, at first associated with his father in the department of war, then intrusted with the sole charge of that portfolio in 1666.
[* ]See above, chapters vi. and vii.
[† ]In order to complete them, Lorraine alone was wanting, which was re-united under Louis XV.
[‡ ]The treaty of Nimeguen was signed the 10th of August, 1678; the war had commenced in 1672. By this treaty France gave up many cities which gave her an offensive position in the Low Countries, especially Charleroi, Ath, Binch, Oudenarde, and Courtrai, which she possessed since 1688; she acquired, together with Franche-Comté, important territories and cities in Artois, Flanders, and Hainault, which gave her a regular boundary on the north, and formed, by the aid of Vauban’s genius, a powerful line of defence. (Upon the invasion of the United Provinces, and the treaties which followed it, see vol. iv. of the Négociations relatives à la Succession d’Espagne.)
[* ]The treaty of Ryswyk was signed the 20th of September, 1697. Savoy and Nice had been occupied in consequence of the adhesion of the Duke, Victor-Amédée, to the League of Augsburg.
[† ]At the death of Charles II., in 1700.
[‡ ]Louis XIV. was ambitious of being elected emperor, or of having his son appointed king of the Romans. He entered into negotiations, with that view, with many of the German princes: some secret treaties were concluded by him—in 1670 with the elector of Bavaria—in 1679 with the elector of Brandenburg, and in the same year with the elector of Saxony. (Upon these negotiations see a notice by Lemontey in his works, t. v., p. 223, and following.)
[* ]We remarked that up to that time, when M. Colbert entered into his cabinet, he was seen to set about his work with an air of satisfaction, and rubbing his hands from pleasure; but that afterwards he scarcely ever sat down to his work but with an air of mortification and with sighs. M. Colbert, accessible and accommodating as he had been, became inaccessible and difficult to deal with, so that not near such an amount of business could be transacted with him as during the first years of his superintendence. (Mémoires de Charles Perrault, liv. iv., p. 84, edit. of M. Paul Lacroix, 1842.)
[† ]M. Mansard maintains that during three years Colbert importuned the king with respect to the buildings; that then the king once said to him, “Mansard, they give me too much trouble: I do not wish to think any more about building.” (Œuvres de Racine, t. vi., p. 335.) “There is, Sire, a very difficult business which I am about to undertake; it is nearly six months that I have been hesitating to say some serious things to your majesty, which I mentioned yesterday, and some which I have still to mention. . . . . I trust to your majesty’s goodness, to your great virtue, to the order which you have often given and repeated, to be informed in case you should go too fast, and to the liberty which you have often given me to tell you my sentiments.” (Mémoires de Colbert au roi, 1666, quoted by Monthyon, Particularités sur les Ministres des Finances, p. 73.)
[* ]The 6th of September, 1683.
[† ]Monthyon, Particularités sur les Ministres des Finances, p. 79, note.
[‡ ]Ibid.—Œuvres de Racine, t. vi., p. 334.—Lettres de Madame de Maintenon, 10th September, 1683, t. ii., p. 103.
[§ ]Œuvres de Racine, t. vi., p. 334.—Colbert’s mansion was situated in the Rue Neuve-des-Petits-Champs.
[* ]In the histories of the government of Colbert, observe his constant efforts to reduce the poll-tax, and his attempts to substitute the land-tax for the poll, to establish the register of landed property, and to found the system of securities. See also the general regulation upon the taxes, issued the 12th of February, 1663; the ordinance of April, 1667, upon communal properties; the edict of December, 1665, reducing the legal interest to five per cent.; the edict of March, 1673, for the publicity of securities, and the edict of June, 1662, ordering that there should be a hospital for the poor, the sick, and the orphan, in every city and borough of the kingdom. (Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xviii., p. 18, 22, 69, and 187, and t. xix., p. 73.)
[* ]See above, Chapter VI., p. 125 and 126.
[† ]First, by the edict of Nantes, 13th April, 1598, and afterwards by the edict delivered at Nîmes, July, 1629.
[* ]With regard to that great number of my subjects of the so-called reformed religion, which was an evil which I regarded with grief, . . . it seemed to me, my son, that those who wished to employ violent remedies did not understand the nature of that evil, caused in part by an enthusiastic temperament, which it is necessary to let pass, and extinguish itself insensibly, instead of exciting it afresh by contradictions as strong. . . . I believed that the best way of gradually reducing the Hugonots of my kingdom was, in the first place, by not pressing them at all by any new severity towards them, by having what they had obtained from my predecessors regarded, but by not granting them anything beyond, and by restricting the execution of it within the very narrowest limits that justice and propriety would permit. With regard to favours which depended on me alone. . . . (Mémoires de Louis XIV., écrits viers l’année 1670; Œuvres, t. ier, p. 84, and following.)
[† ]We declare that we . . . have, by this present edict, perpetual and irrevocable, suppressed and revoked, we suppress and revoke, the edict of the said king, our grandfather, delivered at Nantes in the month of April, 1598, in all its bearings, together with the particular articles decreed on the 2nd of May following, and the letters-patent despatched in them, and the edict delivered at Nîmes in the month of July, 1629, we declare them null and void, together with all the concessions made both by these and other edicts, declarations, and decrees, to persons of the so-called reformed religion, of whatever nature they might be. (Edict revoking the Edict of Nantes; Recueil des anciennes Lois Francaises, t. xix., p. 530.)
[* ]See the work of Rulhières, entitled, Eclaircissements Historiques sur les Causes de la Revocation de l’Edit de Nantes; l’Histoire de Madame de Maintenon, t. ii.; by M. le Duc de Noailles, et t. xv. et xvi. of l’Histoire de France, by M. Henri Martin.
[* ]French jurisprudence was the first to condemn the principle of slavery, by declaring every slave free who set foot in the kingdom, See le Glossaire du droit Francais, by Laurière, on the word Esclave.
[† ]See what is said by Rulhières of the declaration of the 14th May, 1724, and of the frightful jurisprudence which resulted from it. (Eclaircissements sur la Révocation de l’Edit de Nantes, ed. Auguis, pp. 269, 282, 463, and 481.
[* ]Richelieu scrupulously maintained the liberty of Catholics to change their religion, and of converted Protestants to return to their ancient form of worship. Mazarin, pressed by the clergy to take measures against those whom the Church regarded as apostates and relapsed, did not yield to their solicitations. He said, in speaking of the Calvinists, “That little flock gives me no anxiety; if it browses on bad pasture, at least it does not spread itself.” (See Rulhières, Eclaircissements Historiques sur la Révocation de l’Edit de Nantes, p. 19, and following, and the Histoire de France, by M. H. Martin, t. xv., p. 589, and following.)
[† ]The preamble of the edict of July, 1679, which suppresses the tribunals composed half of Catholics and Protestants, presents this curious passage: “Considering that fifty years have passed without any fresh trouble having been caused by the said religion, and that from the length of time the animosities which might exist between our subjects of the one or the other religion are extinguished, we have considered that we could do nothing better than suppress the said chambers, and reunite them to the said parliaments, as well to efface entirely the recollection of the past wars, as to facilitate the administration of justice, by depriving our Catholic subjects of the pretext of availing themselves of the said name and privileges of the so-called reformed religion to perpetuate lawsuits in families by appeals, or by regulations of judges.” (Rec. des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xix., p. 205.)
[* ]Compare the eclaircissements of Rulhières upon the revocation of the edict of Nantes with the “tome ii. of the Histoire de Madame de Maintenon, by M. le Duc de Noailles.” One of the first intentions of the regent was to withdraw all the edicts of Louis XIV. against the Protestants; but the very violence of what had been done seemed to oppose an insurmountable obstacle to that measure. “The regent spoke to me about the contradictions and difficulties, of which all the edicts and declarations of the late king upon the Hugonots were full, upon which they could not exact anything, from the impossibility of reconciling them one with another, and, on the other hand, of executing them in respect to their marriages, wills, &c. . . . . . From complaining of these embarrassments, the regent proceeded to complain of the cruelty with which the late king had treated the Hugonots—of the error of the revocation of the edict of Nantes—of the immense injury which the state had suffered from it, and was still suffering, in its depopulation, in its commerce, in the hatred which that treatment had excited among all the Protestants of Europe. . . . . The regent made some reflections upon the state of ruin to which the king had reduced, and in which he had left France, and upon the advantage of population, arts, wealth, and commerce which she would experience in a moment by the recall so desirable of the Hugonots to their country, and ended by proposing it to me.” (Mémoires de Saint-Simon, t. xiv., p. 155, and following.)
[* ]Specious state policy! in vain you opposed to Louis the timid views of human wisdom; the profane temples were destroyed, the seductive pulpits were thrown down; the wall of separation was removed; time, grace, instruction achieve by degrees a change, of which force secures only the appearances. (Oraison funèbre de Louis XIV., Massillon, Œuvres, t. viii., p. 229.) He listened only to praises, while the good and genuine Catholics and the holy bishops were groaning at the bottom of their hearts to see the orthodox proceeding against the errors of the heretics, in the same way as heretical tyrants and pagans had done against the truth, against confessors and martyrs. They could not console themselves, above all, with that immense amount of perjuries and sacrileges. They bewailed bitterly the lasting and irremediable odium which detestable means were spreading over the true religion, while our neighbours were exulting to see us weakening and destroying ourselves, profiting by our folly, and building plans upon the hatred which we were drawing upon ourselves from all the Protestant powers. (Mémoires de Saint-Simon, t. xiii., p. 17.)
[* ]See in the Corps Diplomatique of Dumont, t. vi. part 2, p. 121, the treaty of peace and commerce between England and France, signed the 3rd November, 1655. A secret article of that treaty stipulated, on the one part, the prohibition to the Stuarts and their principal adherents to sojourn in France; on the other, the dismissal of the agents of Condé, then an enemy of his country, from the British territory.
[* ]By letters patent delivered in December, 1700, Louis XIV. preserved to the Duc d’Anjou, become king of Spain under the name of Philip V., his position by inheritance between the Dukes de Bourgogne and de Berry. (See upon this act, and upon the acceptation of the will of Charles II., the work of M. Mignet, Négociations relatives à la succession d’Espagne, introduct., p. lxxvi. and following.)
[* ]Meanwhile your people, whom you ought to love as your children, and who have hitherto been so devotedly attached to you, are dying of hunger. The cultivation of the fields is almost abandoned; the towns and the country are depopulated; all the trades languish, and no longer support the workmen. All commerce is annihilated. You have, consequently, destroyed half of the actual resources within your state, in order to make and secure unprofitable conquests abroad. (Lettres de Fénelon à Louis XIV., 1692, or 93, Œuvres Choisies, t. ii., p. 417.) By all the inquiries which I have been able to make, from many years’ application to the subject, I have very accurately remarked, that in these latter times almost a tenth part of the people are reduced to beggary, and actually do beg; that of the nine other parts there are five which are not in a state to afford relief to that one, because they are themselves reduced within a very little of that unhappy condition; that of the other four parts which remain, three are badly off, and embarrassed with debts and lawsuits, and that in the tenth, in which I place all the military, lawyers, ecclesiastic and secular professions, all the high nobility, the distinguished nobility, and persons in civil and military offices, the prosperous merchants, the bourgeois with private incomes and in easy circumstances, not more than a hundred thousand families can be reckoned. (Vauban, Dîme royale, collect. des principaux Economistes, t. i., p. 34.) The very people (it is necessary to state everything) who have loved you so much, who have placed so much confidence in you, begin to lose affection, confidence, and even respect. Your victories and your conquests no longer give them pleasure; they are full of bitterness and despair. Sedition is being kindled by degrees in every part. They believe that you have no pity for their ills, that you love nothing but your authority and glory. (Lettre de Fénelon à Louis XIV., p. 418.)