Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

as we recollect no other general history which deduces the afars of France to fo low a period.

• His most christian majeity's ministers, employed in the ne. gotiation, (for the peace of 1763) adopted principles very different from those of their predecessors. They appeared to breathe nothing but peace, but no sooner was that obtained, than they applied themselves, with the utmoit assiduity, to measures of aconomy; and above all, to the finding resources for restoring their marine, in which they are said to have been fucceísful almost beyond belief. But even the desirable event of peace could not extinguish the differences which still prevailed between the court and the parliament; tho’ they were not attended with any remarkable consequences. On the zift of May, his most Christian majesty held his bed of justice, in which he made several alterations with respect to the taxes ; and, in order to lay taxes more equal for the future, his majesty ordered an account to be taken immediately of all the freeholds of the kingdom, not excepting those of the crown, or those of the princes of the blood, ecclefiaftics, nobles, or other privileged perfons, of what nature foever. And, by the second edia, his majesty ordered that all the crown debts, payable out of the revenue of the crown, should be redeemable, fome at twenty years purchase, without regard to the original capital, and others in proportion to wiat the present possessors paid for the fame. The declaration, which was registered the same day, laid a duty of one per cent. on all alienations of im. moveables. A few days after those ediets were registered, the ofice of the Chatelet prevailed with the parliament of Paris to regulate the practice of inoculation, and to restriet it to persons living in houses separated frome very other human habitation, and attended by persons who should have no communication with any other inhabitant of the place for fix weeks from the time of the insertion of the variolous matter:

• The vigorous efforts made by his most Christian majesty and his minifters, for repairing the waite of the late war, did not discontinue the disputes between the court and the parliaments. The duke de Harcourt, by virtue of an arret of council, violently altered the registers of the parliament of Rouen, and entered arbitrary edicts upon this occasion ; upon which that parliament pailed an arret annulling all these transcriptions and erafures, and forbidding any edicts or declarations that did not pass through their own body to be obeyed, under pain of peculation, and that repeated remonstrances be presented to the king. His majetty held a bed of justice, in which he ordered feveral ediets and declarations to be registered. These were opposed by all the parliancuts of France; and the members of

that

that of Rouen, rather than agree to register them, offered to resign their places; but the king refused to accept of their relignations, and promised to fall into fome method of putting his finances in better order. This was the more necessary, as the province of Normandy proved incontestibly, that of above fixty millions of livres, which they pay annually in taxes, not above seventeen millions were received yearly by the king's treafury. Those, and inany other abuses, were undoubtedly owing to the poverty and venality of the court, who fold places in the government to persons who made the most of them they could.

· The loss of Canada rendered it necessary for the French court, on many accounts, to enquire into the conduct of the oficers employed there, and their judges found them guilty. The sieur Bigot, the intendant of that province, was condemned to perpetual, as others were to temporary, exiles. Bigot was sentenced to restore 4,500,000 livres ; the fieur Varin, director of the marine at Montreal, 800,000 livres ; M. Bread, comptroller of the marine, 300,000 livres ; M. Cadent, purveyor general of the army, 6,000,000 livres ; Pennyfiant, Maurin, and Corpion, commiffaries under Cadent, 600,000 livres each ; Estabe and Martel, keepers of magazines, the former 30,000 livres, and the latter 200,000 livres ; the commandant, Laudriere, 5.000 livres ; Dechainaux, secretary to the intendant Bigot, 30,000 livres ; in all 12,965,000 livres.

• Those examples of justice did not satisfy the parliaments. Though they confessed themselves to be void of any legislative authority, which they acknowledged to be in the king, yet they made such a use of their executive powers, as in fact set afide those of the sovereign. They stept forth as chainpions for the interests and liberties of the people, to whom they endeared themselves so greatly, that the court, in difficult pressing emergencies, found their account in winking at their high claims, till at last they thought themseives above controul. The restoration of peace presented the ministry with a fair opportunity of trying the strength of the prerogative with that of the parliaments. The remonftrances of the latter were bold beyond precedent; for in that of August the 5th, the parliament of Rouen told the king that, in fa&i, the return of peace had only added to their calamities, and they even laid before him the Norman charters, which they pretended to be in full force, and which provides that no tax can be laid upon the fubje&ts of that province, unless it be agreed to in the arfembly of the people of the three estates. This was a lan.guage to which the court of France had been long a stranger,

and raised the authority of the French, equal to that of a British, parliament. This (says the remon!trance to the king),

makes

E4

makes part of your people's rights, which you swore to maintain before Him by whom kings reign. The chamber of aids in the parliament of Paris, the most respectable of any in the kingdom, closed one of their remonstrances with a request that, if his majesty doubted of the fidelity of their representations, he would please to hear his people themselves, by con. voking the states general of the kingdom. The parliaments of Bourdeaux, Tholouse, Grenoble, and Befanson, held the fame language. • The court, on the other hand, resolved to appear

determined to carry their point, and in consequence of that resolution the duke of Harcourt acted in the manner we have seen at Rouen, and the duke of Fitz James was sent with the like commission to Tholouse, That parliament ordered the magistrates of the city to pay the duke no honours as governor of the province, until they recognized his authority and commission. Notwithstanding this, in quality of a peer of France, he took his feat in their parliament, and by force registered the edicts he brought down with him. The parliament paffed an arret declaring the register void, and Fitz James in his turn, erased that arret, and placed guards at the houses of the most eminent members in the opposition. This served but to exasperate the latter the more, and the parliament of Provence, which had been hitherto "remarkably temperate, presented to the king remonftrances in behalf of their brethren of Tholouse, more flaming, if possible, than any that preceded them. No fooner did the parliament of Tholouse assemble in December, than the members ordered, " that the said duke of fiz James fhall be bodily taken and seized, wherefoever he may be found in the kingdom, and brought to the prisons of the court ; and, in cafe he cannot be apprehended, his estates and effects shall be seized, or put under the administration of a legal commiffary, according to the ordinances." We are not, at this time, authorized what the consequences of the ferment, occasioned by those and many other remonftrances, may be ; but in all appearance the affair is now drawing near a decision, as his moft Christian majesty seems disposed to talk to his parliaments by his standing army.

• The history of France would be incomplete, without some account of the expulsion of the jesuits out of that kingdom, an event which will for ever do honour to its annals. Their perpetual disputes with the civil power, their dangerous doctrines, their dark practices, and their expulsion out of Portugal, on account of the concern they had in that prince's assassination, had rendered them extremely unpopular in France. They had carried on a very beneficial trade with Martinico; but meeting

with some losses by the English privateers, they laid hold of that pretext to refuse satisfying their just creditors, and desired them to accept of prayers to God instead of payment of their money. The merchants refufed the offer, and the affair was carried before the parliament of Paris, who were unanimously of opinion that the whole order of the jesuits, by their constitutions, were liable to the debts of any part of them, and most immense sums were given to the complainants by way of costs. It is said, with great appearance of truth, that some of the heads of the order had officiously intermeddled between the French king and a favourite lady, who thereupon withdrew from them her powerful prote&tion, and gave them up to the justice of the parliament, which refused to be satisfied with any thing less than their utter extermination out of France. They took cognizance of their books, which they found to be filled with doctrines subversive of government and civil society, and therefore they condemned some of them to the flames. This sentence was followed by another, which expelled them out of France, and confiscated all their estates to the use of the public. They had, however, still so much credit remaining, as to procure the interposition of the king in their favour, and he publifhed an arret suspending all farther proceedings against them for a twelvemonth. The parliament agreed to register this arret, provided it was to continue in force no longer than the first of April. The sentences of the parliament have been since carried into execution in the ftri&teft manner. Their proceedings were disagreeable to many of the clergy, especially to the archbishop of Paris, who published a pastoral letter, containing may expresfions in favour of the jesuits. The parliament complained to the king of this letter, as being a seditious writing, and his majesty ordered the archbishop to call it in, which the prelate refused, and continuing inflexible, his majesty banished him to his abbey of Conflans. Upon an estimate made in the year 1710, there were then in that kingdom fix hundred and twelve jesuits colleges, three hundred and forty residaries, Afty-nine noviciates, two hundred missionaries, and twenty-four profeffors houses of that fociety, amounting in the whole to twenty thousand jesuits; and it was thought, that within the fifty years since that time, their houses were very much enlarged, and their number greatly encreased.

We have nothing more to add to this history of France, than that in January 1766, the dauphin died, and that his eldest son, the duke of Berry, who was born August the twenty-third, 1754, was recognized in the same quality by his most Christian majesty.'

Next follows the history of Spain, from the year 555 to March 1766, when his Catholic majesty was, in a manner,

driven out of his capital by a popular insurreäion. The history of Portugal, which succeeds, begins in the year 1080, and contains but twenty-eight pages, because the great events relating to that monarchy have been already recounted in those of France and Spain. The friends of the house of Mecklenburgh will find some entertainment in the history of Denmark, which follows, and is brought down to the betrothment of the present king to the princess Carolina Matilda. The histories of Sweden, Poland, and Rusia close the work, which is accompanied by a copious index.

As to the merits of this work, it is almost needless to inform the reader, that it is in general composed from other publications, which, in like manner, owed their existe.ce to others which preceded them. The authors, we may venture to say, never pretended that it was designed for the more learned readers. Their attention has evidently been to give that part of their countrymen who are engaged in pursuits foreign to that of reading, true ideas of general history, such as are to be found in the best and most app!oved authors; and in this we think they have succeeded. Their ftile is at least equal to that of any composition of the same kind. We have endeavoured more than once to explain their method ; and we think, upon the whole, it contains all the history of the world that can be interesting to a mere English reader.

MONTHLY CAT A LOĠ U E.

'T.

10. Cymon : A Dramatic Romance. As it is performed at the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane. 8vo. Pr. 15. 6d. Becket.

O judge of Shakespeare by Aristotle's rules,' says Mr.

Pope, in the preface to his edition of our greatest poet, • is like trying a man by the laws of one country, who acted under those of another.' The dramatic romance now under our confideration, however unequal to Shakespeare, equally eludes the Jaws of regular criticism. Upon the face of it, we are ready to cry out, as Horace did on that of his mistress, Vultus nimium lubricus afpici. Its charms, however, are not the less on that account; and many who have seen this romantic lady-muse painted and drejt on the theatre, have been apt to cry her up for an uncommon beauty.

The subject of this drama, we believe, is not built on the fiogle hint of Dryden's fable of Cymon and Iphigenia, but is

allo

« AnteriorContinua »