Imatges de pÓgina

Veli, the last writer of the history of France, and who on that very account ought to be the best, as he possessed all the accumulated materials of his predecessors, did not however always know how to turn his advantages to the best account. He inveighs with bitterness against the judicious and profound Rapin de Thoyras, and attempts to prove to him, that no princess ever succeeded to the crown while any males remained who were capable of succeeding. That we all know perfectly well, and Thoyras never said the contrary.

In that long age of barbarism, when the only concern of Europe was to commit usurpations and to sustain them, it must be acknowledged, that kings being often chiefs of banditti, or warriors armed against those bandittis; it was not possible to be subject to the government of a woman. Whoever was in possession of a great war-horse would engage in the work of rapine and murder only under the standard of a man mounted upon a great horse like himself. A buckler or oxhide served for a throne. The caliphs governed by the koran, the popes were deemed to govern by the gospel. The south saw no woman reign before Joan of Naples, who was indebted for her crown entirely to the affection of the people for king Robert, her grandfather, and to their hatred of Andrew her husband. This Andrew was in reality of royal blood, but had been born in Hungary, at that time in a state of barbarism. He disgusted the Neapolitans by his gross manners, intemperance, and drunkenness. The amiable king Robert was obliged to depart from immemorial usage, and declare Joan alone sovereign by his will, which was approved by the nation.

In the north we see no queen reigning in her own right before Margaret of Waldemar, who governed for some months in her own name about the year 1377.

Spain had no queen in her own right before the able Isabella in 1461.

In England, the cruel and bigoted Mary, daughter of Henry VIII. was the first woman who inherited the

throne, as the weak and criminal Mary Stuart was in Scotland in the sixteenth century.

The immense territory of Russia had no female sovereign before the widow of Peter the Great.

The whole of Europe, and indeed I might say the whole world, was governed by warriors in the time when Philip de Valois supported his right against Edward III. This right of a male who succeeded to a male, seemed the law of all nations. "You are grandson of Philip the Fair," said Valois to his competitor, "but as my right would be superior to that of the mother, it must be still more decidedly superior to that of the son. Your mother, in fact, could not communicate a right which she did not possess."

It was therefore perfectly recognised in France, that a prince of the blood royal, although in the remotest possible degree, should be heir to the crown in exclusion even of the daughter of the king. It is a law on which there is now not the slightest dispute whatever. Other nations have, since the full and universal recognition of this principle among ourselves, adjudged the throne to princesses. But France has still observed its ancient usage. Time has conferred on this usage the force of the most sacred of laws. At what time the Salic law was framed or interpreted, is not of the slightest consequence: it does exist, it is respectable, it is useful; and its utility has rendered it sacred.

Examination whether Daughters are in all Cases deprived of every Species of Inheritance by this Salic Law.

I have already bestowed the empire on a daughter in defiance of the Golden Bull. I shall have no difficulty in conferring on a daughter the kingdom of France. I have a better right to dispose of this realm than pope Julian II. who deprived Louis XII. of it,

A great struggle was made for the empress Matilda, granddaughter of Henry I.; but had she succeeded in the first instance, her son, Henry II., would probably still have been the reigning monarch.-T.

and transferred it by his own single authority to the emperor Maximilian. I am better authorized to plead in behalf of the daughters of the house of France, than pope Gregory XIII. and the cordelier Sextus-Quintus were to exclude from the throne our princes of the blood, under the pretence actually urged by these excellent priests, that Henry IV. and the princes of Condé were a 'bastard and detestable race'. of Bourbon, refined and holy words, which deserve ever to be remembered, in order to keep alive the conviction of all we owe to the bishops of Rome. I may give my vote in the states-general, and no pope certainly can have any suffrage on it. I therefore give my vote without hesitation, some three or four hundred years from the present time, to a daughter of France, then the only descendant remaining in a direct line from Hugh Capet. I constitute her queen, provided she shall have been well educated, have a sound understanding, and be no bigot. I interpret in her favour that law which declares " que fille ne doit mie succeder,”—that a daughter must in no case come to the succession. I understand by the words, that she must in no case succeed, as long as there shall be any male. But on failure of males, I prove that the kingdom belongs to her by nature, which ordains it, and for the benefit of the nation.

I invite all good Frenchmen to show the same respect as myself for the blood of so many kings. I consider this as the only method of preventing factions which would dismember the state. I propose that she shall reign in her own right, and that she shall be married to some amiable and respectable prince, who shall assume her name and arms, and who, in his own right, shall possess some territory which shall be annexed to France; as we have seen Maria Theresa of Hungary united in marriage to Francis duke of Lor. raine, the most excellent prince in the world.

What Celt will refuse to acknowledge her, unless we should discover some other beautiful and accomplished princess of the issue of Charlemagne, whose family was expelled by Hugh Capet, notwithstanding the


313 Salic law? or unless indeed we should find a princess fairer and more accomplished still, an unquestionable descendant from Clovis, whose family was before expelled by Pepin, his own domestic, notwithstanding, be it again remembered, the Salic law.

I shall certainly find no involved and difficult intrigues necessary to obtain the consecration of my royal heroine at Rheims, or Chartres, or in the chapel of the Louvre-for either would effectually answer the purpose; or even to dispense with any consecration at all. For monarchs reign as well when not consecrated, as when consecrated. The kings and queens of Spain observe no such ceremony.

Among all the families of the king's secretaries, no person will be found to dispute the throne with this Capetian princess. The most illustrious houses are so jealous of each other, that they would infinitely prefer obeying the daughter of kings, to being under the government of one of their equals.

Recognised by the whole of France, she will receive the homage of all her subjects with a grace and majesty which will induce them to love as much as they revere her; and all the poets will compose verses in her honour.*


THE following notes were found among the papers of a lawyer, and are perhaps deserving some consideration :

That no ecclesiastical law should be of any force

* It must be confessed, that the Salic and Turkish laws, in regard to female succession, forms an admirable defence against foreign family importation, as also against disputable claims to the crown. Whatever broils may have disturbed either France or Turkey, previous to the revolution of the former, the adherence to the line has been nearly uniform. This, at first sight, may appear a benefit; but it may be reasonably doubted, whether the long retention of a family thus uncrossed and unchecked by any mental stream of a different quality, be not infinitely more pernicious than an occasional change of family. The contrary is certainly not proved, either by the House of Bourbon or of Ottoman. Voltaire's fictitious princess and extreme case are very pleasant.-T.




until it has received the express sanction of government. It was upon this principle that Athens and Rome were never involved in religious quarrels.

These quarrels fall to the lot of those nations only that have never been civilised, or that have afterwards been again reduced to barbarism.

That the magistrate alone should have authority to prohibit labour on festivals, because it does not become priests to forbid men from cultivating their fields.

That everything relating to marriages depends solely upon the magistrate, and that the priests should be confined to the august function of blessing them.

That lending money at interest is purely an object of the civil law, as that alone presides over commerce.

That all ecclesiastical persons should be, in all cases whatever, under the perfect control of government, because they are subjects of the state.

That men should never be so disgracefully ridiculous as to pay to a foreign priest the first year's revenue of an estate, conferred by citizens upon a priest who is their fellow-citizen.

That no priest should possess authority to deprive a citizen even of the smallest of his privileges, under the pretence that that citizen is a sinner; because the priest, himself a sinner, ought to pray for sinners, and not to judge them.

That magistrates, cultivators, and priests, should alike contribute to the expenses of the state, because all alike belong to the state.

That there should be only one system of weights and measures, and usages.

That the punishments of criminals should be rendered useful. A man that is hanged is no longer useful; but a man condemned to the public works is still serviceable to his country, and a living lecture against crime.

That the whole law should be clear, uniform, and precise; to interpret it is almost always to corrupt it. That nothing should be held infamous but vice. That taxes should be imposed always in just proportion.

« AnteriorContinua »