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ftarted objections, called for elucidations, and from animated difcufhon struck out useful truth. They would have betrayed at once their own honour and his majefty's intentions, if in fuch circumstances they had not exhibited that generous courage, which is equally characteristic of the faithful fubject and the patriotic citizen. The king had expected from them zeal and loyalty, and he had not been difappointed. It was at length however incumbent upon them to finish the great project which the fovereign had delineated, and to carry into act thofe emotions of gratitude with which they could not fail to be impreffed.
The controller general now · proceeded to communicate to them the memorials of the fourth divifion. We have already obferved, that the object of this divifion was to connect the projected reforms with the melioration of the finances, and to particularife the fchemes of economy, regulation, and credit, that might de rive from or be connected with them. They now came before the affembly in a mutilated state. The precarious administration that fat at the helm of affairs were unwilling to undertake too much. Accordingly, only two memorials, that were conceived to be most immediately neceffary, were brought forward; the first upon the fubject of the ftamp duty, and the fecond of the redemption ; at fixed periods of the exifting
the finances of France. In many provinces of that kingdom deeds and conveyances of property, as well as the different proceedings and decifions of the courts of judicature, had been fubject to an impofition of this fort for more than a century. It was now propofed as a preliminary ftep, in conformity to the ideas of equalifation that pervaded the project of Mr. de Calonne, to extend the exifting tax to every part of the kingdom, granting however to the provinces that had been hitherto exempted, a compenfation upon the taille or fome fimilar tax, in order that no new burthen might arise from this regulation. It was farther intended to extend the stamp duties to every object that is probably subject to them in any part of Europe; commiffions, brevets, prefentations, letters of nobility, of naturalisation, pardons, paffports, news-papers, periodical publications, certificates, government ftock, lottery tickets, deputations, policies, bills of exchange, receipts, engravings, cards, and dice. It was even declared neceffary to fub* ject all certificates and bills of a prior date to the ftamp office, before they could be produced in evidence in a court of juftice.
In the fecond memorial it was ob ferved, that the well-founded defire of giving to the public loans a more rapid fuccefs, had, particularly fince the year 1776 [at which period Mr. Necker had fucceeded to the adminiitration], fuggefled the method of engaging government to an affigned and fpeedy period of redemption. The cafe of the moment had been the principal inducement to this expedi ent. The embarrassment had not then been recollected, which, falling with accumulating and concentrated force upon a fubfequent period, now ren dered a powerful and immediate re
medy indifpenfible. This remedy might either be found in a direct fyftem of taxation, in a mixed fyftem of taxation and fucceffive loans, or in loans only. The last method was preferred. By fucceffive loans of 2,080,cool. for four years; 1,660,000l. per annum for the fifth and fixth; 1,460,0col. for the feventh; 1,375,000l. per annum for the eighth, ninth, and tenth; and 1,000,000l per annum for the fifteen following years, the redemption of thefe loans to be diftributed through a period of fifteen years refpectively, it was conceived, that not only the deficit would be immediately lightened to the amount of 2,080,000!, but that the operation of these loanscombining with the proposed reforms, the ftamp duty, and the equalifation of the land-tax, all apprehenfion of financial embarraffment would be fuperfeded.
The notables, as they proceeded in their labours, advanced in their pretenfions. It had been the original intention of government, without communicating to them legiflative powers, or furnishing them with original documents, to obtain their approbation of certain meafures, and overawe with their fupport the refiftance of the parliaments. This was deemed to be practicable, provided the measures fuggefted were incontrovertibly equitable in their own nature, and they were affured of the extent of the emergency under the venerable fanction of the. word of the fovereign. But they prefently over-ftepped the limits that had been marked out for them. The continuance of their deliberations, the facrifice of an eminent fervant of government that had been evidently made at their shrine, gave them a full fenfe of the importance of their functions. They now eagerly caught at the intimation of the fovereign re
fpecting certain papers which he had directed to be laid before the affembly, and, among other obfervations, it was remarked by one of the bureaux, in its addrefs of thanks for the fpeech of the king, that a profpectus of the intended favings and reforms, and a circumstantial detail of the annual receipt and expenditure, were indifpenfibly neceffary to enable them to judge whether any additional xes were requifite, to what amount would be neceffary to carry them, nd to what period it would be defirable to extend them.
It was at this period, and on the firft of May, that the archbishop of Toulouse was called to the adminiftration, being appointed prefident of the council of finances. This prelate had hitherto appeared in the light of the most active member of the affembly of notables, or at least as the member whose principles and views had been moft cordially received by the meeting in general. He feemed to have modelled his conduct upon the principles of political liberty, at leaft as far as the prefent pofture and fentiments of the nation appeared to admit. In his memorial for the establishment of a new council of finance, which is to be confidered as comprehending a general view of his public fentiments, and which had its fhare in occafioning the difgrace of Mr. de Calonne, he vehemently argues against the myfterious mode of adminiftering the public revenue that at prefent prevailed, and cenfures the measure of convoking the notables, because that affembly was wholly incompetent to the talk of re-modelling the conftitu tion. Thefe doctrines however may probably be confidered as partly fuggefted to him by motives of ambition
He was long known to have aimed at raising himself to be first
minifter of France; and it is not unfrequent, in characters that do not rife to fuperlative excellence, to behold the fame man the ardent champion of liberty while in a private ftation, and the undaunted affertor of tyranny when the tyrant has chofen him for the medium of delegated power. It is however to be prefumed, that the archbishop was one of the first men among our Gallic neighbours that recommended himself to office by the adoption of republican fentiments; and it is to be regarded as no equivocal fymptom of the revolution that had taken place in the political prepoffeffions of his countrymen. It was on the following day that Mr. de Fourqueux refigned the office of controller-general, and Mr. de Villedeuil was ap pointed to fucceed him.
It was on the fecond day after the promotion of the archbishop had been declared, that the accounts of the receipt and expenditure of the years 1785 and 1786 were communicated to the notables. They were fpeedily followed by an explanatory account of the retrenchments and reforms intended to be introduced into the civil lift, which were now car ried to the amount of 1,660,000l. per annum. These proceedings appear to have been thought to afford a favour able opportunity for introducing a fmall loan of 250,000l, which was at this time neceffary to answer the unavoidable demands of government. The edict for raifingthis fum,through the medium of life-annuities, was registered without difficulty by the parliament of Paris, on the feventh of May, the fame day upon which the paper of retrenchments was communicated to the notables. The delay in this latter inftance was probably intended by the archbishop, as a fort of accommodation to the pride
and lofty pretenfions of the juridical corps. The papers of revenue com municated to the notables were not permitted to be copied by the members of that affembly.
The preamble to the loan, and the declaration to the notables, confifted of ideas fimilar to each other. The king promifed himself to be able to carry the favings at least to the fpecified amount. He could have withed to extend his views ftill farther, but he would have been unwilling to excite expectations that he was not certain to fulfil. If a ftill feverer economy could be introduced, its effects fhould be religiously preferved for the general alleviation of the burthens of the people. The retrenchments, that were perfonal to himfelf and his family, would always be thofe that were leaft painful to his feelings, and that he should have the greateft promptitude to execute. The deficit of the present year, it was faid, had been difcovered by the notables to amount to 3,500,000/, and they had been of opinion with himself, that it was neceffary to provide for its extinction through the medium of fucceffive loans. In making these loans the king declared his refolution to mortgage to their holders a certain portion of the public revenue, which fhould be extinguished as they were diminished, and thus gradually converted to the relief of the nation at large.
The administration of the archbishop appeared to commence with a fufficient degree of popularity and eclat. The declaration of retrenchments was received by the notables with the moft unbounded expreffions of gratitude. They applauded the king upon the height to which his paternal feelings for his people had foared, and declared that no language could do justice to the fentiments
with which they were pervaded in the perulal. It was about the fame time that they fuggefted to the king the propriety of appointing an efficient council of finances, that fhould poffefs an unlimited check upon the principal minifter of revenue; but, not to mention that they derived this idea from the fuggeftions of the prefent minifter, it was alfo qualified with many invectives against the inconfiftency and perfidy of the minifterial fyftem of Mr. de Calonne, and with an exprefs remark, that, whatever confidence they owed to the choice of the fovereign in this critical period, the fewer precautions they had to employ against the perfon of the minifter, the more judicious would it be to guard against the imperfections of his office, and to protect him from the injurious inЯuence of indifereet folicitations.
The archbishop made his firft perfonal appearance in the affembly of notables, in the character of minifter, on the ninth of May. Upon this occafion he entered into a detail of many of the objects of the propofed retrenchment. It extended with confiderable severity through the various departments of the royal houfholds; it included the fale of the caftles of Choifi, la Meute, Madrid, Vincennes, and Blois; and it profeffed to reduce the penfion lift to the annual amount of 750,000l. Upon this and other fubjects, connected with the fourth divifion, the notables communicated their fentiments to the king, by a committee of their body, four days after the ministerial conference. But, though fo fmall a period of time had elapfed, we can fcarcely avoid perceiving in their language fome reLaxation of the minifterial and courtly ftyle they had lately adopted.
They particularly fixed their attention upon the defired publicity of
the national revenue. They infifted upon the neceffity of paffing all accounts at the treafury once every fix months, and of communicating them to the public once a year. This would be found the only effectual expedient for bridling the minifter of finance, for giving fecurity to the public creditor, and for protecting the fubject against the intrusion of arbitrary burthens. They added, that it was of the utmoft importance, that pecuniary douceurs fhould not be granted but at the winding up of the accounts of the year, that an loan fhould ever be extended or exceeded, and that the operations of the caiffe d'amortiffement, and the general eftimates for each enfuing year, fhould be fubmitted to the infpection and revifal of the projected council of finances.
The answer of the king was delivered to the different bureaux on the following day. He felt a confiderable fatisfaction in obferving, that there was fcarcely any expedient fuggefted to him by the af fembly that he had not himfelf already adopted. He would take into confideration their views refpecting the eftablishment of a council of finances, but the conftitution of fuch a council required mature confideration. He had determined to publish an account of the national receipt and expenditure, examined and approved by fuch a council, at leaft once in three years, and would confider whether fuch a measure could with propriety be introduced more frequently. He was also disposed, in addition to the proposed reduction of the penfion lift, regularly to make public the penfions and douceurs he fhould beftow, and he was perfuaded this publication would be an additional favour to those who were thought worthy of national rewards.
On the fifteenth of May, the archbishop of Toulouse went down to the affembly, to prefent to them fuch remaining objects as might be proper for their difcuffion, and to urge them to a speedy conclufion of fuch deliberations as remained yet unfinished. With refpect to the grand confideration of the deficit, he represented the retrenchments as one of the most confiderable means for removing it: but, however rigorously they were extended, they were ftill infufficient. The king therefore found it neceffary, though with the extremeft regret, and as his laft refource, to have recourfe to farther impofitions. The articles of this fort fuggefted by the archbishop of Toulo: were, the ftamp duty, with a rate famewhat more extended than that which had been firft propofed; an increafe of the capitation upon houses; and a modification of the impôt territorial, by which it fhould be made to produce 1,041,000l. per annum more than the exifting vingtièmes.
The bureaux immediately proceeded to take thefe propofals into confideration, and prefented a fort of abridgment of their different deliberations in their refolutions of the nineteenth of May. They complained, that the articles of receipt and expenditure which had been laid before them were incorrect, and contradicted each other. Nothing, they obferved, could be more painful, than, after a lapfe of four years of peace, to impofe new taxes upon the nation to the amount of 2,083,000l. per annum. It was necessary, in the first place, to attempt to remove the deficit by faving and economy; but, if this method were too tedious for the emergency, they must wholly refer the queftion of taxation to the prudence and difcretion of the fove
reign. It was not within their pow ers either to propofe different taxes, or to adopt and fanction those which had been propofed. The land-tax in particular they profeffed to have no authority to vote; at the fame time acknowledging, that, if it took place, it feemed juft that the privileged bodies fhould not be exempted from the contribution. But they recommended, that the name of vingtièmes fhould still be preferved, to prevent the quota of each individual from being raised, and to hinder the tax, now changed into a different form, from returning again in its own, while its fubftitute fhould at the fame time continue to exift. They were of opinion, that the city of Paris, the great increase of whofe population was fo injurious to the kingdom at large, fhould be more heavily taxed than the labouring ruftic. They however rejected the capitation upon houfes, as fubject to too great inconveniences. The stamp duty appeared the least burthenfome, and it was perhaps defirable to raise it to a ftiil greater amount in alleviation of the other taxes, provided it were impofed only upon objects the most capable to bear it.
With refpect to the provincial affemblies, they intreated the king to establish them, as he had promised to do, in the manner recommended by the notables. They wished to fee the propofed retrenchments precifely marked out, and even carried into execution prior to the period of their feparation. Laftly, they recurred to the fteps which they deemed most efficacious for prevent ing the re-appearance of the prefent diforders in any future period. They recommended the abolition of all fubordinate treafuries; they feverely condemned the practice of anticipatione, at a time when the collectors,