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hope to have finished their business by the end of next Month at
latest :

Their deliberations have hitherto been carried on with great
temper, and though the question (a very important one) in regard
to the proportion that is to be allowed to the Tiers Etat in the
formation of the Etats-Generaux, has occasioned a great difference
of opinion, the discussion of it has not been attended with any
circumstance to interrupt that harmony which is so essential to
render the present proceedings beneficial to the Country.

Nevertheless the Committee, at which Monsieur presides, has
determined (differently from the other five) that the Tiers- Etat
should be represented more in proportion to the Share it pays of
the public expences, so as to make it equal in number to the two
Orders of Clergy and Nobility taken together ; whereas the other
Committees have resolved that one of the Clergy, one of the
Nobility, and one only of the Tiers- Etat should be elected in each
District ; this mode of forming the Etats-Generaux will, with some
modification, be conformable to the plan adopted in 1614, and will
of course be very disadvantageous to the Tiers- Etat, which thus
will be entirely at the mercy of the Clergy and the Nobility.

The Clergy appear to have managed well for themselves in this
important discussion since, according to this arrangement, they
will be able, by means of the immense property and influence they
possess, to over-awe the Tiers- Etat during the holding of the
Etats Generaux and to divide the Nobility, who, in case of a
junction (so much dreaded) of their order with that of the Tiers-
Etats, might prove very formidable and perhaps fatal to the power
of the Church.

How the difference of opinion in Monsieur's Committee will
terminate I cannot inform your Lordship, the Numbers upon the
division having been equal viz 12 to 12 Monsieur is said to have
given the casting vote in favor of the Tiers Etat : it is however



1788 BEFORE THE REVOLUTION 117

thought probable that this Committee will coincide with the rest
rather than risk the delay and confusion which a perseverance in its
decision might produce :

The Marechal de Beauvau and the Due de Chatelet supported
Monsieur's opinion.

The object of the Parliaments is to have the Etats-Generaux
convened as nearly as possible in the same manner as in 1614 ; in
this the Clergy and the Magistrates are acting upon similar
principles it being equally the interest of both to prevent the
Tiers-Etat from having that share in the National Assembly, to
which by national right they are entitled. A general dissatis-
faction prevails among the Tiers Etat in consequence of the
resolution respecting them which they foresee is likely to be
passed in the Assembly of Notables: Many Provinces, and parti-
cularly Normandy, refuse to send Delegates upon those terms, but
seem determined to present themselves in a body in order to
insist on their right of voting, and it is imagined that some further
indulgence will be granted them to prevent a measure, which
would be productive of very serious disorders. Amongst the
difficulties that arise in making the necessary arrangements for the
Assembly of the States, that on the part of the Barons in those
Provinces which go under the name of Pays Conquis is not the
least considerable. From former privileges they claim the right
of being universally admitted as Noblesse, which is strongly objected
to by Les Due and Pairs who contend for being the only Persons
hereditarily entitled to that distinction. This material point of
dispute remains still undecided.

I send your Lordship " Observations sur 1'Etat actuel du
Cardinal de Rohan " containing some very pointed remarks on
the peculiar hardships that Prelate has undergone. The Publi-
cation from which the inclosed is copied has been suppressed: it is
however beyond a doubt that His Eminence will soon be per-
mitted to return from his banishment, and it is moreover thought
that He will be one of the Deputies of the Province of Alsace at
the Assembly of the Etats-Generaux.

The following is the most authentic intelligence I have been



118 DESPATCHES FROM PARIS 1788

able to procure for your Lordship respecting the newly-established
Packets at Marseilles.

There are six of these Vessels which sail the 1st and 15th of
every month from the Port of Marseilles to Smyrna without
touching at any other Place whatsoever ; these Packets are not
allowed to take Passengers, Goods of any kind, nor even Parcels ;
in short nothing but Letters which are forwarded gratis : The
Vessels are of from 40 to 70 Tons, and have from 8 to 12 men on
board but during the winter season it is probable that more hands
will be allowed.

They are generally dispatched before the time of their Quaran-
tine is expired, and in case it should happen that none of the
Packets are at Marseilles on the day appointed, a vessel is to be
hired for the purpose that there may be no interruption in the
order of communication ; it is required that the Letters be delivered
in the morning of the day before the Packet is to sail : the Letters
are conveyed from Smyrna to Constantinople by Land in six or
eight days and from thence by way of Aleppo to India.

The Turks continue to retreat, and will in all probability
entirely evacuate the Austrian Territories as soon as the winter
sets in.

It is strongly reported that the siege of Oczakow is raised.

The Council of War continues to sit at Versailles; the ordinances
of last year are now under examination with a view to revise
whatever may have been found superfluous and unnecessary. The
Due de Guines, who is a member of this Board, will, it is confi-
dently asserted, be named by His Most Christian Majesty to the
command of the Regiment du Roi.

The Club, commonly known under the name of the Salon, ,
composed of the first Nobility and Gentry of Paris, which was
suppressed two years ago, is now open again by permission of the
Court.

The Pieces Interessantes which I send herewith to your Lord-
ship, submitted by the Commissaires de I'Isle de Tobago to the
consideration of the Notables, have not as yet been deliberated
upon : the whole of that business will in all probability be laid



1788 BEFORE THE REVOLUTION 119

before His Majesty in Council, who will decide upon it without the
advice or opinion of the Notables.

55. DORSET TO CARMARTHEN.

27 Nov. 1788.

I received yonr Lordship's Dispatch No. 26 last Tuesday, and
have in consequence written to the Count de la Luzerne in order
to obtain from the Court of Admiralty of Dunkirk Copies of the
correspondence alluded to in Messrs Gregg's Letter.

The important discussion respecting the Tiers- Etat is likely to
be attended with great embarrassment to His Most Christian
Majesty's Servants, and I have reason to think M. Necker begins
to repent his having so hastily decided upon the measure of
assembling the Notables, finding that he would have done better if
he had at first adopted the ideas of the Parliament in following
the precedents which the annals of the Country afforded for a
National Assembly, for however interested that Body may be
supposed to have been in recommending the plan which was
observed in 1614, it was still to be apprehended, as it is now become
evident that any attempt at variation from that plan, to which its
precedency must always have given sanction, would necessarily
occasion such jealousies and discontents throughout the Kingdom
as must unavoidably frustrate those advantages which the Nation
might otherwise hope to experience from the assembling of the
States General.

If Government, instead of assembling the Notables, had attended
to the advice contained in the Remonstrances of the Parliament,
His Majesty would now enjoy the double advantage of being able
to assemble the States-General so early as January next, and of
avoiding the unpleasant discussions to which the question respect-
ing the share to be allowed to the Tiers Etat in the representation
has given rise, as well as the general discontents which have
thereby been occasioned in the Provinces ; for the Body of the
People are by no means disposed in a matter of so much conse-
quence to them, to submit quietly to the decision of certain
individuals, styled Notables, assembled by Government and acting



120 DESPATCHES FROM PARIS 1788

under its influence, to the great detriment, as the People conceive,
of their natural rights.

From the length of the Debates in the several Committees it is
probable that their deliberations will yet continue eight or ten
days longer, which will have so far exceeded the time at first
imagined that the States-General can scarcely be brought together
sooner than the month of May : what may be the consequence of
this delay time will discover but it may be presumed that
M. Necker's popularity will be affected by it, and it will not be
surprising if he should be disgusted with the management of the
King's Affairs before this period.

Monsieur and the Comte d'Artois are indefatigable in their
attendance at their respective Committees.

The Due d'Orleans has excused himself from presiding His
Committee but nevertheless attends it regularly : The Marechal de
Broglie is chosen President in His Highnesses stead.

The Prince de Conde, the Due de Bourbon, and the Prince de
Conti, continue to preside their several Committees and are very
regular in their attendance. It is now expected, on account of the
various Remonstrances that have been presented from several
principal Towns in favor of the Tiers- Etats that the resolutions,
passed in Monsieur's Committee of which I took notice in my
Despatch No. 70, will be adopted by all the other Committees.

The return of the Parliament of Besangon was not received by
the Inhabitants of that Town with the warmth which might have
been expected, but their first act of authority being the entire
abolition of the Main-Morte, the approbation of this measure was
expressed by the most general rejoicings.

Some changes in the French Cabinet are much talked of and it
is strongly reported that the Secretary at War (M. de Brienne)
intends to resign at the end of this week, which is very much
believed as it is known that that Minister has with great reluctance
remained in Office since the resignation of His Brother the Arch-
bishop of Sens. It is rather to be imagined that the Archbishop
of Sens has not found the residence of Nice perfectly agreeable as
they write from thence that he means to quit immediately and go



1788 BEFORE THE REVOLUTION 121

on to Pisa, leaving however his family behind him. It is also said
that the French at Nice, all of them excepting the French Consul,
refused to associate with him.

By the death of the Count de la Touche Treville, Lt. General in
the French Marine, which happened in the course of the last
week, a second Cordon Rouge is become vacant.

His Majesty did not receive the Foreign Ministers last Tuesday,
nor did M. de Montmorin come to Paris that day, on account of
indisposition which confined him at Versailles: it is however with no
small satisfaction that I have it nevertheless in my power to repeat
to your Lordship the earnest wishes of this Court for His Majesty's
recovery, and I am persuaded that there is not at this moment the
least disposition in the Cabinet of Versailles to seek occasion for
interrupting the harmony and good understanding which so happily
prevails between the two Courts.

It is said that M. de St. Priest (who is now in this Capital) and the
Bishop of Arras are to be immediately summoned to the Privy Council
with the same privileges as are allowed to Ministers of State.

The Comte de Puysegur, a very mild and sensible man, will it is
supposed succeed Mons. de Brienne in the War Department.

The Ambassadors from Tippoo Sultan sailed from Brest only
about 10 days ago.

There has lately been much uneasiness from apprehension for
the safety of the French Frigate La Meduse which sailed in
company with another Frigate of the same force, an account of
whose arrival was received seven weeks ago ; however intelligence
has at length been received of the safe arrival at Pondicherry of
La Meduse without touching at the Isle de France.

The young King of Cochinchine sailed in one of these Frigates
on his return to his native Country.

The price of Bread has again been raised a French Sol ; the
consequence of which has already been felt in the instance of
above forty Bakers having been obliged to shut up Shop :

In the Provinces these discontents have still risen higher ;
particularly at Pontamouson in Lorrain where the public Magazines
of Corn have been broken open and pillaged by the populace.



122 DESPATCHES FROM PARIS 1788

The Stocks have risen a little since last week but are now fallen
again.

The Memoire, which I have the honor to send your Lordship,
presented to the King by Les six Corps de la Villc de Pans, is
deserving of your Lordship's perusal.

A Letter from Calais, received here on Sunday last, mentions the
following circumstance which is perhaps without example.

On the 19th of this Month, at the hour of shutting the Gates,
120 Grenadiers and Chasseurs of the Regiment Royal d'Auvergne, of
which M. le Vicomte de Rochambeau is Colonel, sallied out of the
Citadel with their Arms and Baggage, having forced the Guard
that endeavored to oppose them.

Being arrived at the Corps-de-garde of the Town the Officer who
commanded there ordered the Barrier to be shut, but they forced
it open and pursued their intended plan. M. de Bienassise, the
Commandant of Calais, who was then at the Play, being informed
of what had passed, ordered the Garrison to beat to Arms, and to
hold itself ready to march at a moment's warning, but the night
being remarkably dark and every one ignorant of the road the
Deserters had taken no Party was sent after them. The first
accounts from Calais will probably mention the consequence of
this unpleasant affair, as well as the motives that induced those
Soldiers to have recourse to so violent an extremity.

We hear by Letters from Vienna, received by the last Courier,
that the Arch-Duke Francis is returned thither from the Army.

The Emperor is still at His Head Quarters at Semlin : Nothing
of any consequence has lately happened in that Country, excepting
that the Turks have evacuated Meadia, after setting fire to it, and
have fallen back on their own Dominions.

56. DORSET TO CARMARTHEN.

4 Dec. 1788.

I have received your Lordship's letter No. 27 and 28. I am
deeply concerned that His Majesty's disorder appears not to have
materially abated : The same anxiety continues to prevail at this
Court as manifested itself when His Majesty's illness was first



1788 BEFORE THE REVOLUTION 123

known here, and I make no doubt that His Most Christian Majesty's
Ambassador at London does not omit to express how sincere an
interest His Royal Master takes in the general concern upon this
melancholy occasion.

I had the honor of writing to your Lordship last Monday by the
Post to acquaint you with the appointment of the Comte de
Puysegur (Lt. General of His Most Christian Majesty's Army) to
the War Department in the room of M. de Brienne, who retires
on a Pension of 10,000 livres Tournois with a present gratuity
of lOO.OOOff in recompense for his Services, resigning the com-
mand of la Guyenne.

No other changes in Administration are talked of, neither is the
Bishop of Arras, nor M. de St. Priest as yet named of the Privy
Council. M. de la Vauguyon, His Most Christian Majesty's
Ambassador at the Court of Spain, is on his return home, having
obtained leave of absence on his private Affairs.

A great degree of fermentation continues to subsist in the
Committees of Notables ; it is now imagined that they will be
obliged to agree in adopting the mode which was observed in 1614
for assembling the States-General, since it seems to be the opinion
that the Notables are not of themselves competent to determine
what Persons are qualified, and cannot of course claim any con-
stitutional right of naming who are to assist at a National Assembly :
it will therefore remain for such of the Provinces as shall find
themselves aggrieved by being excluded from any share in the
representation to petition the States that they^ may be placed upon
the same footing as the rest.

The new Minister of the Finances is supposed to favor the
pretensions of the third Order, and the Clergy and the Nobility
entertain a suspicion that the Court is but too much inclined to
second that System : thus His Majesty and his Ministers are in a
very embarrassing predicament, for should the Clergy and the
Nobility take alarm at the too great predilection shewn towards
the Tiers- Etat, they may very likely, as a last resource, recede from
their attendance at the States-General while on the other hand the
Tiers- Etat, if they are dissatisfied with, what they may consider, a



124 DESPATCHES FROM PARIS 1788

too great disproportion of their own Order, may on their part
also refuse to obey their summons to attend the States : it is
therefore become essentially necessary for Government, in order
to prevent the confusion which seems to threaten, to form some
resolutions without delay that may be calculated to draw all
Parties together.

The Payments go on very slowly and the Annuities which are
paid alphabetically and which began in January with the letter A
are now advanced to letter C only : this retard of payment not
only occasions great distress to those individuals whose whole
property consists in those annuities, but at the same time materially
affects the credit of Government, yet notwithstanding the embar-
rassed situation of public Affairs, the Funds have been gradually
rising during the last 10 days.

The multiplicity of political Publications, which have lately
appeared, has not failed to attract the attention of the Notables,
and especially of the Prince of Conty's Committee : that Prince
was in consequence prevailed on to present the Letter, which I
have the honor to send your Lordship inclosed, to Monsieur to be
by him, as President of the first Committee, communicated to the
King : annexed to it is His Majesty's Answer, the contents of
which has occasioned some dissatisfaction being expressed by the
Notables : No further steps have been taken and the Committees
continue their Deliberations, which are likely to last 'till towards
the middle of next week.

M. Necker really has (or has at least) expressed apprehensions of
an insurrection on account of the scarcity of Corn, but this pro-
bably arises more from policy than actual belief of such an event,
as he imputes the present distress to the Archbishop of Sens whom
he accuses of having given permission for vast exports of Grain, on
receiving certain gratuities for such indulgence.

M. Necker further screens himself from reproach for the present
calamity, by asserting that at an early period he took the precau-
tions of sending to England for a quantity of Corn equal to the
deficiency occasioned by the misconduct of his predecessor, and it
is said that there are actually now in the River Seine several



1788 BEFORE THE REVOLUTION 125

Vessels laden with that commodity which could not proceed to
Paris for want of water sufficient owing to the uncommonly dry
season, and which are now stopped by the Frost.

The number of Grenadiers and Chasseurs who, as I mentioned to
your Lordship last week, had deserted from the Regiment Royal
d'Auvergnc at Calais, did not amount, according to the last Letters
from thence, to more than seventy-five, sixty-six of whom had
returned to their duty.

The Vicomte de Rochambeau, Colonel of the above-mentioned
Regiment, upon hearing the circumstance, immediately set out from
Paris, where he then was, to go to Calais with all expedition.

Deputies are lately arrived in this Capital from Quimper and
have joined those of Nantes : It is probable that all the other
towns of Brittany will follow their example, notwithstanding that
the Intendant of the Province has written circular Letters to all
the Corporations strictly forbidding them, in the King's name to
assemble.

57. DORSET TO CARMARTHEN.

11 Dec. 1788.

The Notables, having finished their Deliberations, will be dis-
missed by His Majesty either to-morrow or next day, for which
purpose, His Majesty will, on account of the severity of the
weather, assemble them dans la Salle des Gardes in the Palace of
Versailles, when He will return them thanks for their attendance.

The result of the proceedings of the several Committees will
shortly appear in print, I therefore do not atempt to give your
Lordship any detail of them ; I must however observe that the
present temper of the Nation is such that the Provinces probably
will not consider themselves as bound to follow any particular
mode, that may be dictated to them, for the election of Deputies
to represent them at the Assembly of the States-General, unless it
shall appear by the records to be conformable to the customs of
former times on similar occasions ; neither, it is thought, will the
Tiers- Etat at any rate submit to a representation of their Order
that shall be judged by them inadequate to the magnitude of the



126 DESPATCHES FROM PARIS 1788

proportion they hold in the State ; for, by the calculation which
has lately been made of the three Orders, it appears that the
Clergy, not including the Religieux, amounted to 90,000 only : and
that of Nobility, even with all those who have purchased their
titles, amounted to no more than 500,000 : the disproportion there-
fore between the Tiers- Etat and the other two Orders, taken
together, is very considerable, the whole population of France
being estimated at 24 millions. Orders have been given for
issuing the Letters of Convocation for the States General immedi-
ately, and they are to assemble at Paris (as it is now said) on the
20th of March, but that being thought a too distant period, the
King is to be petitioned to call them together, the 1st of February,
which however it is probable cannot be complied with.

I sent your Lordship, by the Post of last Monday, the Resolu-
tions passed by the Parliament on the preceding Friday, and which
were presented the following day to His Majesty, who returned
the answer, a copy of which I now send your Lordship together
with the said Resolutions : The moderation with which His
Majesty's sentiments are expressed cannot fail to occasion much
disappointment to those who were the promoters of a measure so
ill-timed and so injudiciously concerted.

M. Necker gains ground in the public opinion of which the
gradual rise of the Funds is a sure proof.

On Monday last died at his house in Paris the Bailli de Suffrein,
a martyr, there is reason for believing, to improper treatment ; the
Faculty having prescribed frequent bleedings for a gouty complaint
in his stomach, instead of endeavouring to force the disorder to
the extremities : He was buried yesterday : This Naval Com-
mander is considered here as a great loss to the Service. The
Nomination of an Ambassador from Malta is usually left to this
Court, and the present Candidates for that dignity are the
Chevalier de Coigny, Brother to the Duke of that name, The
Bailli de Crussol, and the Malthese Ambassador at Rome.

Bread has again been raised un Sol, and is accordingly now
at 14 Sols pr Ib : I understand that it is to be gradually
raised to 16 sols and no higher : the distress of the poor is



1788 BEFORE THE REVOLUTION 127

already very great as may be conceived, and the unusual severity
of the weather is at this moment peculiarly unfortunate for them ;
nor, on this account, is it very surprising that robberies should be
frequent, which at present is the case in an alarming degree : it is
by no means safe to walk the streets late in the Evening, and in
some of the less frequented parts of the Town Carriages have been
attempted.

The Dauphin has continued to mend, and His health is materi-
ally better...

58. DORSET TO CARMARTHEN.

18 Dec. 1788.

I had the honor to write to your Lordship on Monday last by an
English gentleman of my acquaintance who left Paris on that day
and who, I trust, will have faithfully delivered to your Lordship my
Despatch No. 79, with which were enclosed two Despatches from
Sir Robert Ainslie, that had come to hand on Friday having been
forwarded to me via Marseilles.

The Notables were dismissed on the 12th Inst ; your Lordship
will already have seen the several Speeches which were delivered
on that occasion ; I now send another copy of them.

On Sunday last the Prince de Conde, the Due de Bourbon, the



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Legation (France)Despatches from Paris, 1784-1790 (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 29)