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The death of M, Guizot at Val- Richer took place whilst he was dictating the last pages of VoL IV, of his Eistorif of France to his daughter^ Madame de Witt. The work to which he had eon- secimted the last yeara of hia life was thus left in complete* M, Guizot had planned his fifth and last volumcj comprising the mgn of Louis XV- and that of Louis XVL, down to the period of the meetiug of the Constituent Assembly in 1789, The out- Ones of the chapters had already been traced. It is upon the plan thus laid down by M* Guizot, and with the aid of his direc- tions and notes, that Madame de Witt has edited this Fifth Volume, the completion of which tlie author entrusted to her as being the one most intimately acquainted with his views. It will thus be seen that^ though not coming complete from his hands, the material of this fifth Yolume is the work of the great historian himself, whose deeply lamented death 'alone prevented his putting the finishing strokes to the monument which he desired to raise for the honour and instruction of the country which was so dear to him, and which he served to his latest breath.

Crown BuHdingBj Fleet Stieett Septembor, 1H76.



Chapter LI. Louis XV., the Regency and Cardinal Dubois (1715—1723) 1

LIL Louis XV., the Ministry of Cardinal Fleury (1723—1748) 65

LIIL LouisXV., France in the Colonies (1746—1763) . . 132 LIV. Louis XV., the Seven Years' War Ministry of the Duke

ofChoiseul (1748—1774) 182

LV. Louis XV., the Philosopher 244

LVL Loub XVI., the Ministry of M. Turgot (1774—1776) . 328 LVII, Louis XVL, F*ranoe Abroad— United States' War of Inde-

pendence (1775— 1783) 353

LVm. Louis XVI^ France at Home Ministry of M. Necker

(1776—1781) 411

LIX. Louis XVI., M. de Caloune and the Assembly of Notables

(1781—1787) 439

LX. LouisXVL,ConvocationoftheStates-General(l787— 1789) 481

Ihdbx 541




M. Gaizot Frontiepiece

LoniaXVI xii

Head-piece to Cbapter LI 1

The Regent Orleans 5

La Rue Quincampoix 13

John Law 17

The Duke of Maine 24

The Duchess of Maine 25

Cardinal Dubois . . . . ' .27

Peter the Great and Little Louis XV 37

Belzunce amidst the Plague-stricken 49

The Boy King and his People . 59'

Tail-piece to Chapter LI 64

Head-piece to Chapter LII 65

Louis XV 75

Mary Leczinska 83

Death of Plelo 87

Moriamur pro Rege nostro ! 97

Cardinal Fleury 105

Louis XV. and the Ambassador of Holland Ill

Battle of Foutenoy 117

Marshal Saxe 123

Arrest of Charles Edward 130

Head-piece of Chapter LIII 132

La Bourdonnaia 137

Death of the Nabob of the Carnatic 141

Dupleix 145

Lally at Pondichcrry 151

Champlain 163

Death of General Braddock 17L

Montcalm 177

Tail-pieceof Chapter LIII. . . . *. 181

Ilead-picceof Chapter LI V .182



Louis XV. and Damiens . . . .191

Frederick the Great 195

Death of Che ralierD'Assas 203

The Duke of Choiseul 209

The Marchioness of Pampadour 213

Louis XV. and Madame Dubarry 221

Defeat of the Corsicans at Golo 233

Tail-piece of Chapter LI V. 243*

Head-piece of Chapter LV 244

Montesquieu 246

Fontenelle 250

TheRescueof "La Henriade" 259

Arrest of Voltaire . 273

Voltaire . ^85

Diderot 293

D'Alembert 297

Diderot and Catherine II 299

Buffon * 309

Rousseau and Madame D*£pinay 317

Tail-piece of Chapter LV 327

Head-piece of Chapter LVI 328

The Church of St. Genevieve 331

Turgot's Dismissal . 347

Tail-piece of Chapter LVI . .352

Head-pieceof Chapter LVI I 353

George Washington 361

Bunker's Hill 365

Benjamin Franklin 373

La Fayette 377

The Belle Poule and the Arethusa 381

Suffren 397

Sea-fight off Gondelour 405

Head-piece of Chapter LVIII 411

The Reading of Paul and Virginia 415

Necker at St. Ouen ' . 433

Publicgriefat Necker's Fall 437

Head-piece to Chapter LIX 439

Marie Antoinette 443

Calonne 451

Layobier 45o

Beaumarchais 459

Cardinal Rohan's Discomfitui'c 463



The Montgolfier Balloon 479

Head-piece to Chapter LX 481

Lomenie de Brieone 487

Arrest of the Members .......... 495

Abb6 Si^jes 507

The Manor-house of Trianon .511

Malouet 517

Mirabeau and Dreux-Br^ze ......... 535

Tail-piece of Chapter LX 539







iT the very moment wlu?n the master's hand is mLssed from his work tlio narrative mates a surldeo bound out of the siinjilc times of history. Utidur Henry l\^, undi3r KicheliL'iij under IjOuib XIV., events found quite mitunilly their guiding hand and their centre ; men as well as circumstances formed a group around the head of the natioE, whether king or minister, to thence unfold themselves quite clearly before the eyes of pos- terity. Starting from the reign of Louis XV. the nation has no longer a head, history no longtT a centre; at the same time with a master of the higlier oixler, great servants also fail the French monarchy ; it all at once collapses, betraying thus the exhaustion of Louis XIV/s latter years ; decadence is no longer veiled by the remnants of the splendour which was still reflected from the great king and his great reign ; the glory of olden France descends slowly to its grave. At the same time, and in a future as yet obscured, iDtellectual progress begins to dawn; new ideas of justice, of humanity, of generous equity towards the masses

VOL. v. B


[CaiF. LI.

germinate sparsely in certain minds; it ia no longer Christianity alone that inspires them, though the honour is reflected upon it in a general way and as regaa:'ds the principles with which it has silently permeated modem society, but they who contribute to spread them refuse with indignation to acknowledge the source whence they have drawn them. Intellectual movement no longer appertains exclusively to the higher classes j to the ecclesiastics, or to the members of the parliaments ; vaguely as yet^ and retarded by apathy in the government as well as by disorder in aSairs, it propagates and extends itself imperceptibly pending that signal and terrible explosion of good and evil which is to characterize the close of the eighteenth century* Becadence and progress are going on confusedly in the minds as well as in the material con- dition of the nation. They must be distinguished and traced without any pretence of separating them.

There wo have the reign of Louis XV. in its entirety.

The regency of the duke of Orleans and the ministry of Cardinal Dubois showed certain traits of the general tendencies and to a certain extent felt their influence; they formed, however^ a dis- tinct epoch, abounding in original efforts and bold attempts, which remained without result but which testified to the lively reaction in men*s minds against the courses and fundamental principles of the reign which had just ended.

Louis XIV. had made no mistake about the respect which his last wishes were destined to meet with after his death. In spite of the most extreme precautions^ the secret of the will had tran- spired, giving occasion for some days past to secret intrigues. Scarcely had the king breathed his last, when the duke of Orleans was urged to get the regency conferred upon him by the dukes and peers, simply making to ParUament an announcement of what had been done. The duke of Orleans was a better judge of the moral authority belonging to that important body ; and it was to the Palace of Justice that he repaired on the morning of Sep- tember 2, 1715* The crowd there was immense; the young king alone was not there, in spite of his great-grandfather's express instructions. The day was a decisive one; the legitimatized princes were present, ** tie duke of Maine bursting with joy/'


says St. Simon: *^a smiling, satisfied air overrippled that of audacity, of confidence, which nevertheless peeped through, and the politeness which seemed to struggle against it. He bowed right and left, piercing every one with his looks. Towards the peers, the earnestness, it is not too much to say the respectful* ness, the slowness, the profoimdness of hia bow was eloquent. His head remained lowered even on recovering himself." The duke of Orleans had just begun to speak ; his voice was not steady ; he repeated the terms of which the king had made use, he said, for the purpose of confiding the dauphin to his care : " To you I commend him ; serve him faithfully as you have served me, and labour to preserve to him his kingdom ; I have made such dispositions as I thought wisest; but one cannot foresee every- thing: if there is anything that does not seem good, it will of course be altered."

The favour of the assembly was plainly with him, and the prince's accents became more firm : " I shall never," said he, " have any other purpose but to relieve the people, to re-establish good order in the finances, to maintain peace at home and abroad, and to restore unity and tranquillity to the church ; therein I shall be aided by the wise representations of this august assembly, and I hereby ask for them in anticipation." The parliament was com- pletely won ; the right of representation (or remonstrance) was promised them ; the will of Louis XIV. was as good as annulled ; it was opened, it was read, and so were the two codicils. All the .authority was entrusted to a council of regency of which the duke of Orleans was to be the head, but without preponderating voice and without power to supersede any of the members, all designated in advance by Louis XIV. The person and the education of the young king, as well as the command of the household troops, were entrusted to the duke of Maine.

" It was listened to in dead silence and with a sort of indigna- tion which expressed itself in all countenances," says St. Simon. "The king, no doubt, did not comprehend the force of what he had been made to do," said the duke of Orleans ; " he assured me in the last days of his life that I should find in his disposi- tions nothing that I was not siu-e to be pleased with, and he

B 2



himsetf referred the miiiisters to mo on busmesg,' ^tb all the orders io given*" He asked, therefore, to have his regency declared such as it ought to be, " full and independent, with free forinatiori of the coimcil of regency," The duke of Jfaine wished to say a word. "You shall speak in your turn, sirj" said the duke of Orleans in a dry tone. The court immediately decided in bis favous^ by acclamation, and even without proceeding in the regular waj^^ to vote. There remained the codicils, which annulled in fact tho Regent's authority, A discussion began between the duke of Orleans and the duke of Maine ; it was causing Philip of Orleans to lose the advantage he had just won; his friends succeeded in making him perceive this, and he put oflF the session until after dinner. When they returned to the Palace of Justice the codicils were puffed away like the will by the breath of popular favour^l^ The Duke of Maine, despoiled of the command of the king's house- hold, declared that, under such conditions, it was impossible for him to be answerable for tho king's person, and that he demanded to be relieved of that duty/* " Most willingly j sir," replied the Regent, "your services are no longer required ;'' and he forth- with explained to the Parliament his intention of governing affairs according to the plan which had been found among the papers of the duke of Burgundy. '* Those gentry know little or nothing of the French and of the way to govern them,*' had been the remark of Louis XIV. on reading tho schemes of Fenelon, the duko of Beauvilliera and St, Simon, The Parliament applauded the formation of the six councils of foreign affairs, of finance, of war, of the marine^ of home or the interior, o( congcience or ecclesiastical affairs ; the Eegent was entrusted with the free disposal of graces ; ** I want to be free for good/' said he, adroitly repeating a phrase from Telemaque, " I consent to have my hands tied for evil."

The victory was complete. Not a shred remained of Louis XIV*'s will. The duke of Maine, confounded and humiliated, retired to his castle of Sc^aux, there to endure the reproaches of his wife. The king's affection and Madame de Main tenon's clever tactics had not sufficed to found his power; the remaining vestiges of his gi'eatness were themselves about to vanish before long in theii' turn.



On the 12th of September, the little king held a bed of justice; his governess, Madame de Ventadoiir, sat alone at the feet of the poor orphan, abandoned on the pinnacle of power. All the decisions of September 2 were ratified in the child's name. Louis XIV. had just descended to the tomb without pomp and without regret. The joy of the people broke out indecently as the funeral train passed by; the nation had forgotten the glory of the great king, it remembered only the evils which had for so long oppressed it during his reign.

The new councils had already been constituted, when it was discovered that commerce had been forgotten; and to it was assigned a seventh body. " Three sorts of men, the choice of whom was dictated by propriety, weakness and necessity, filled the lists : in the first place, great lords, veterans in intrigue but novices in affairs, and less useful from their influence than embar- rassing from their pride and their pettinesses ; next, the Regent's friends, the cream of the roues^ possessed with the spirit of opposition and corruption, ignorant and clever, bold and lazy, and far better calculated to harass than to conduct a government; lastly, below them, wore pitch-forked in, pell-mell, councillors of State, masters of requests, members of parliament, well informed and industrious gentlemen, fated henceforth to crawl about at the bottom of the committees and, without the spur of glory or emulation, to repair the blunders which must be expected from the incapacity of the first and the recklessness of the second class amongst their colleagues " [Lemon tey, Histoirc de la Begence^^ t. i. p. 67]. " It is necessary," the young king was made to say in the preamble to the ordinance which established the councils, "that affairs should be regulated rather by unanimous consent than by way of authority."

How singular are the monstrosities of inexperience I At the head of the council of finance a place was found for the duke of Noailles, active in mind and restless in character, without any fixed principles, an adroit and a shameless courtier, strict in all religious observances under Louis XIV. and a notorious debauchee under the Regency, but intelhgent, insolent, ambitious, hungering and thirsting to do good if he could, but evil if need were and in



[CifAr. LL

order to arrive at his ends. His uncle, Cardinal Noailles, who had been but lately threatened by the court of Rome with the loss of his hat and who had Been liiniself forbidden to approach the dying king, was now president of the council of conscience. Marshal d'Huxelles, one of the negotiators who had managed the treaty of Utrechtj was at the head of foreign affiurs. The Eegent had reserved to himself one single department, the Academy of sciences. ''I quite intend/* said he gaily, "to ask the king, on his majority, to let me still be secretary of State of the Academy."

The Regent's predilection, consolidating the work of Colbert, contributed to the development of scientific researches^ for which the neatness and clearness of French thought rendered it thence- forth so singularly well adapted.

The gates of the prison were meanwhile being thrown open to many a poor creature ; the Jansenists left the Bastille ; others, who had been for a long time past in confinement, w*ere still ignorant of the grounds for their captivity, which was by this time forgotten by everybody. A wretclied Italian, who had been arrested the very day of his an'ival in Paris thirty- five years before, begged to remain in prison ; ho had no longer any family, or relatives or resources. For a w^liilo the Protestants thought they saw their advantage in the clemency with which the new reign appeared to be inaugurated, and began to meet again in their assemblies ; the Regent had some idea of doing them justice, re-establishing the edict of Nantes and reopening to the exiles the doors of their country, but his councillors dissuaded him, the more virtuous, like St* Simon, from catholic piety, the more depraved from policy and indifference. However, the lot of the Protestants remained under the Regency less hard than it had been under Louis XIV. and than it became under the duke of Bourbon.

The chancellor, Voysin, had just died. To tliis post the Re* gent summoned the attorney^goneral, D'Aguesseau, beloved and esteemed of all, learned, eloquent, virtuous, but too exclusively a man of parliament for the functions which had been confided to him. " He would have made a sublime premier president/* said St. Simon, who did not like him. The magistrate was attending


mass at St. Andr^*des-Arta ; he was not ignorant of the chan- cellor's death, when a valet came in great baste to inform him

that the Regent wanted him at the Palais-Royal. D'Agnesseaii piously heard out the remainder of the mass before obeying the prince's orders. The casket containing the seals was already tipon the table. The duke of Orleans took the attorney-general by the arm and, going out with him into the gallery thronged with courtiers, said : *' Gentlemen, here is your new and most worthy chancellor I " and he took him away with him to the Tuileries to pay his respects to the little king.

K On returning home, still all in a whirlj D*Aguesseau went up 'to the room of his brother, '* M. de Valjouan, a sort of Epicurean (^t^olujjtueux) philosopher, with plenty of wit and learning, but altogether one of the oddest creatures." He found him in his dressing*gown, smoking in front of the fire. "Brother/* said he a3 he entered, " I have come to tell you that I am chancellor." ** Chancellor!" said the other, turning round: '* and what have yon done with the other one?" " He died suddenly to-night." _*' Oh! very well, brother, I'm very glad; I would rather it were

you than I:" and he resumed l]is pipe. Madame d'Aguesseaxi Tvas better pleased. Her husband has eulogized her handsomely :

»*• A wife like mine," ha said, " is a good man's highest reward." The new system of government, as yet untried and confided to men for the most part little accustomed to affairs, had to put up %\nth the most formidable difficulties and to struggle against the tncst painful position. The treasury was empty and the country ■ftrxhausted ; the army was not paid, and the most honourable men, Biixch as the duke of St. Simon, saw no other remedy for the evils m^^ the State but a total bankruptcy and the convocation of the ^S tastes-general . Both expedients were equally repugnant to the di^lce of Orleans. The duke of Noailles had entered upon a co^irse of severe economy ; the king's household was diminished, t^?%r€tity-five thousand men were struck off the strength of the at^^Tiy, exemption from talliage for six years was promised to all s^ich discharged soldiers as should restore a deserted house and ^yt^mld put into cultivation the fields lying waste. At the same Itirrie somt tiling was being taken off the crushing weight of the




[OiiAP. LL

taxes and the State was assuming the charge of recovering them directly, without any regard for the real or supposed advances of the receivers-general ; their accounts were subraitted to the revision of tbo brothers Paris, sonB of an innkeeper in the Danphineso Alp??, who had made forturtea by military contracts and were all four reputed to be very able in matterR of finance- They were likewise commissioned to revtse the bills circulating in the name of tlic State, in other words, to suppress a great number without re-im- buraement to the holder, a sort of bankruptcy in disguise, which did not help to raise the public credit. At the same time also a chamber of justice, instituted for that purpose, was prosecuting the tax-farmers {fraUants)^ as Louis XIV, had done at the com- mencement of his reign, during the suit against Fouquet. All were obliged to account for their acquisitions and the state of their fortunes ; the notaries were compelled to bring their books before the court. Several tax-farmers {traitmds) killed themselves to escape the violence and severity of the procedure. The Parlia* ment, anything but favourable to the speculators, but still less disposed to suffer its judicial privileges t<> be encroached upon, found fault with the decrees of the Chamber. The Regent's friends were eager to profit by the reaction which was manifesting itself in the public mind ; partly from compassion j partly from shameful cupidity, all the courtiers set themselves to work to obtain grace for the prosecuted financiers. The finest ladies sold their protection with brazen faces ; the Regent, who had sworn to show no favour to anybody, yielded to the solicitations of his friends, to the great disgust of M. RouilM-Ducoudray, member of the council of finance, who directed the operations of the Chamber of Justice with the same stern frankness which had made him not long before say to a body of tax-farmers {traiiants) who wanted to put at his disposal a certain number of shares in their enterprise, ** And suppose I were to go shares with you, how could I have you hanged, in case you were rogues ?'' Nobody was really hangedi although torture and the penalty of death had been set down in tlio list of punishments to which the guilty were liable ; out of four thousand five hundred amenable cases nearly three thousand had been exempt^^'d from the tax, ** The corruption is so wide*



Spread," says tlie preamble to the edict of Marcli, 17275 wliicB sup- pressed tte Chamber of Justicej *' tbat nearly all conditions have been infected by it| in such sort that the most righteous severities eoiild not be employed to punish so great a number of culprits without causing a dangerous interruption to commerce and a kind of general shock in the system of the State." The resources derived from the punishment of the tax-farmers {frattmits)^ as well as from the revision of the State's debts, thus remaining very much below expectation, the deficit went on continually increasing, In order to re-establish the fiuanceSj the duke of Noailles demanded fifteen years- impracticable economyj as chimerical as the increment of the revenues on which he calculated ; and the duke of Orleans finally suflFered himself to be led away by the brilliant prospect which was flashed before his eyes by the Scotsman, Law, who had BOW for more than two years been settled in France.

Law, born at Edinburgh in 1671 , son of a goldsmith, had for a long time been scouring Burope, seeking in a clever and Bystematic course of gambling a source of fortune for himself and the first foundation of the great enterprises he was revolving in his singu- larly inventive and daring mind. Passionately devoted to the financial theories he had conceived, Law had expounded them to W aU the princes of Europe in succession. *' He says that of all the persons to whom he has spoken about his system he has found but two who apprehended it, to wit, the king of Sicily and my son," wrote Madame, the Regent's mother, Victor Amadeo, however, lad rejected Lawn's proposals, *' I am not powerful enough to

I ruin myself," he had said. Law had not been more successful witii Louis XIV. The Regent had not the same repugnance for novelties of foreign origin; so soon aa he was in power, he authorized the Scot to found a circulating and discount bank {ynque de eirculation et d^escompte)^ which at -once had very great success and did real service. Encouraged by this first step, Law reiterated to the Regent that the credit of bankers and merchants t^ecupled their capital ; if the State became the universal banker P antl centralized all the values in circulation, the public fortune would naturally be decupled. A radically false system, fated to plunge the State and consequently the whole nation into the risks



[CjiAP* LI.

of speculation and trading withoiit tlie guarantee of that 'activityi zeal :ind prompt resolution wliich able men of business can import into their privatt* enterprises. The system was not as yet applied ; the discreet routine of the French financiers was scared at such risky chances, the pride of the great lords sitting in the council was shocked at* the idea of seeing the State turning banker^ perhaps even trader. St, Simon maintained that what was well enough for a free State could not take place under an absolute government. Law went on, however; to his bank he had Just added a great company. The king ceded to him Loiusiana, which was said to be rich in gold and silver mines superior to those of Mexico and Peru, People vaunted the fertility of the soil, th» facility offered for trade by the extensive and rapid stream of the Mississippi ; it was by the name of that river that the new com^ pany was called at first, though it soon took the title of Compmjnie iVOccld^uiyvdx^n it had obtained the privilege of trading in Senegal and in Guinea; it heQ2kTao the Comfagnie de^ inde^, on forming fi fusion with the old enterprises which worked the trade of thoEast* For the generahtyj and in the current phraseology, it remained the Mimlsitippf ; and that is the name it has left in history. New Orleans was beginning to arise at the mouth of that river. Law ha^i bought Belle-Isle-en-Mer and was constructmg the port of Lorient*

The Regent^s councillors were seared and disquiet^; thti chancellor proclaimed himself loudly against the dece])tion or ilhusion which made of Louisiana a land of promise : he called to mind that Crozat had been ruined iu searching for mines of the precious metals there, "The worst of him was his virtue/' said Duclos, The Regent made a last efibrfe to convert him as well as the duke of Noailles to the projects of Law. It imi at a small house in the faubourg St. Antoine, called La Roquelie^ belonging to the last-named, that the four interlocutors discussed the new system thoroughly, "With the use of very sensible language Law had the gift of explaining himself so clearly an*! intelligibly that he left nothing to desire aa concerned inakitig hinmelf apprehended and comprehended. The duke of Orleana^ liked him and relished him. He regarded him and all he did as






work of Ilia own creation. He liked, moreoverj extraordinary and out-of-the-way methods, and he embraced them the more readily in that he saw the resources which had become so necessary for the State and all the ordinary operations of finance vanishing away. This liking of the Regent's wounded Noaillea as being adopted at his expense- He wanted to be sole master in the matter of finance, and all the eloquence of Law could not succeed in convincing him/' The chancellor stood firm; the Parliamentj which ever remained identified in his mind with his country, was in the same way opposed to Law*, The latter declared that the obstacles which arrested him at every step through the ill"Vrill of the Council and of the magistrates were ruining all the fruits of his system. The representations addressed by the Parliament to the king, on the 20th of January, touching a re^coinage of aJl moneys, which had been suggested by Law, dealt the last blow at the chancellor's already tottering favour. On the morning of the 23rd M. de La Vrilliere went to him on behalf of the Regent and demanded the return of the seals.

D' Aguesseau was a little affected and surprised, " Monseigneur," he wrot-e to the duke of Orleans, " you gave me the seals without any merit on my part, you take them away without any demerit/' Ho had received orders to withdraw to his estate at Tresnes : the I Regent found his mere presence irksome* D'Aguesseau set out at once. "He had taken his elevation like a sage," says Bt, Simon, ** and it was as a sage too that he fell/' " The important point," wrote the disgraced magistrate to his sou, "is to be weU with oneself,"

kThe duke of Noailles had resigned his presidency of the council of finance; but, ever adroit, even in disgrace, he had managed to secure himself a place in the council of regency. The seals were entrusted to M, d'Argenson, for some years past chief of police at Paris. ** With a forbidding face, w^hich reminded one of the three judges of Hades, he made fun out of everything with excellence **f ^it, and he had established such order amongst that innumer- ably multitude of Paris, that there was no single inhabitant of ^bose conduct and habits he was not cognizant fi-om day to day.






bear on every matter that presented itself, erer leaning towards the gentler side, with the art of making the most innoceot tremble before him" [St Simon, t. xv. p. 387]. Courageous, bold, audacious in facing riots> and thereby master of the people, he was at the same time endowed with prodigious activity, ** He was seen commencing his audiences at three in the moming, dictating to four secretaries at once on various subjects, and making his rounds at night whilst working in Ma carriage at a desk lighted with wax candles. For the rest, without any dr^d of parliament, which had often attacked him, ho was in his nature royal and fiscal ; he cut knots, he was a foe to length in ess, to useless forms or such as might be skippedj to neutral or wavering conditions" [Lemontey, Uistoire de la Betjenee, t. L p. 77] > The Regent considered that ho had secured to himself an effective instrument of his views : acceptance of the system had been the condition nne qua umh of M, d'Argenson's elevation.

He, however, like his predecessors, attempted before long to hamper the march of the audacious foreigner; but the die bad been cast and the duke of Orleacs outstripped Law himself in the application of his theories. A company, formed secretly and protected by the new keeper of the seals, had bought up the general farmings (femies gene rales), that is to say, all tue indirect taxes, for the sum of forty-eight million fifty-two thousand livres ; the Cimipafjme den hides re-purchased them for fifty-two millions ; the general receipts were likewise conceded to it, and Law's bank was proclaimed a Royal Bank; the Company's shares ab^ady amounted to the supposed value of all the coin circulating in the kingdom, estimated at seven or eight hundred millions. Law thought he might risk everything in the intoxication which had seized all France, capital and province* He created some fifteen hundred millions of new shares, promising his shareholders a dividend of 12 per cent* From all parts silver and gold flowed into his hands ; everywhere the paper of the bank was substituted for coin* The delirium had mastcTed all minds- The street called Qttitt^amjjou', for a long time past devoted to the operations of bankers, had become the usual meeting-place of the greatest lords &6 well as of discreet bin^gesses. It had been found necessary


to close the two ends of the street with gates, open from sLx a an. to nine p.m, ; every huiHe harlxiured buainet^s agents by the hundred ; the smallest room wan let for its weight in gold* The workmen who made the paper for the barik-notert conld not keep up with the consumptioiu The most, modest fortunes suddenly became oolosial, luequeysof yest4?rday were millionaires to-morrow ; extravagance followed the progress of this outburst of riches^ and the price of provisions followed the progress of extravagance*


Euthusiasm was at its height in favour of the able author of so many boneftts, I jaw became a convert to Catholicism and was made comptroller-general; all the court was at his feet: "My flon was looking for a duchess to escort my granddaughter to Genoa," writes Madame, the Regent*s mother; "* Send and choose one at Madame Law's/ said I; *you will find them all sitting in her drawing-room/" Law*s triumph wascompleto; the hour of his fall was about to strike,

vou V. 0

18 . , HISTORY OP PRANOB. [Chap. LI.

At the pinnacle of his power and success the new comptroller* general fell into no illusion as to the danger of the position. ** He had been forced to raise seven stories on foundations which he had laid for only three," said a contemporary as clearsighted as impartial. Some large shareholders were already beginning to quietly realize their profits. The warrants of the Oompagnie des Indes had been assimilated to the bank-notes ; and the enormous quantity of paper tended to lower its value. First, there was a prohibition against making payments in silver above ten fi^ancs, and in gold above three hundred. Soon afterwards money was dislegalized as a tender, and orders were issued to take every kind to the Bank on pain of confiscation, half to go to the informer. Informing became a horrible trade ; a son denounced his father. The Regent openly violated law and had this miscreant punished. The prince one day saw President Lambert de Vernon coming to visit him. "I am come," said the latter, "to denounce to your Royal Highness a man who has five hundred thousand livres in gold." The duke of Orleans drew back a step : " Ah ! Mr. President," he cried: "what low vocation have you taken to ?" " Monseigneur," rejoined the president, " I am obeying the law ; but your Royal Highness may be quite easy, it is myself whom I have come to denounce, in hopes of retaining at least a part of this sura, which I prefer to all the bank-notes." " My money is at the king's service," was the proud remark of Nicolai, premier president of the Exchequer-Chamber, " but it belongs to nobody." The great mass of the nation was of the same opinion as the two presidents ; forty-five millions only found their way to the Bank ; gold and silver were concealed everywhere. The crisis was becoming imminent ; Law boldly announced that the value of the notes was reduced by a half. The public outcry was so violent that the Regent was obliged to withdraw the edict, as to which the council had not been consulted. " Since Law became comptroller-general, his head has been turned," said the prince. That same evening Law was arrested by the major of the Swiss ; it was believed to be all over with him, but the admirable order in which were his books, kept by double entry after the Italian manner, as yet imknown in France^ and the ingenious expedients he indicated for


restoring credit, gave his partisans a moment's fresh confidence* He ceased to be comptroller-general, but he remained director of the Bank. The death-blow, however, had been dealt his system,, for a panic terror had succeeded to the inseuBate enthusiaoa of the early days* The prince of Conti had set the example of getting back the value of his notes; four waggons had been driven up to his house laden with money. It was suffocation at the doors of the Bank, changing small notes, the only ones now payable in specie. Three men were crushed to death on one day in the crowd. It was foimd necessary to close the entrances to Quincampoix Street, in order to put a stop to the feverish tumult arising from desperate speculation. The multitude moved to the Place Vendome ; shops and booths were thrown up ; there was a share- fair ; this ditty was everywhere sung in the streets :

'' On Mondaj I bought share on share ; Od Tuesday I was a milliouairo ; Ou Wednesday took a graud abode ; On Thursday in my carriage rode ; On Friday drove to the Opera-ball ; On Saturday came to the paupers' hall."

To restore confidence. Law conceived the idea of giving the seals back to D'Aguesseau ; and the Regent authorized him to set out for Fresnes. In allusion to this step, so honourable for the magistrate who was the object of it, Law afterwards wrote from Venice to the Regent : " In my labours I desired to be useful to a great people, as the chancellor can bear me witness. ... At his return I offered him my shares which were then worth more than a hundred millions, to be distributed by him amongst those who had need of them." The chancellor came back, though his in- fluence could neither stop the evil nor even assuage the growing disagreement between the duke of Orleans and the Parhament. None could restore the public sense of security, none could prevent the edifice from crumbling to pieces. With ruin came crimes. Count Horn, belonging to the family of the celebrated Count Horn who was beheaded under Philip II. in company with Count Lamoral d'Egmont, murdered at an inn a poor jobber whom