Imatges de pàgina


After the death of Henry III. it declared against Henry the Great. Half of this body was induced by the faction of Spain, the other by a false zeal for religion.

Henry IV., like Charles VII., had another little parliament near him. Like him he entered into Paris more by secret negociations, than by force; and he united the two parliaments as Charles VII. had done.

All the ministry of cardinal Richelieu was signalised by frequent resistances of this assembly, resistances much stronger than were approved of by the nation.

The war of the Fronde, into which the parliament was precipitated by the factions, is well known. The queenregent transferred it to Pontoise by a declaration of the king her son, already in his majority, dated the 3rd of July 1652. Three presidents only, and forty counsellors obeyed.

Loạis XIV. in 1655, after the amnesty, went to the great chamber with a whip in his hand, to forbid assemblies of the chambers. In 1657 he ordered the registering of every edict, and permitted not remonstrances until a week after the registering. All was tranquil under his reign.*

Under Louis XV. The parliament of Paris had already, from the time of the Fronde, established the custom of no longer rendering justice when it believed itself aggrieved by the government. It was a means which seemed to force the ministry. to bend to its will, without incurring the reproach of rebellion, as in the minority of Louis XIV.

It employed this resource in 1718, in the minority of Louis XV. The duke of Orleans removed it to Pontoise in 1720.

The unfortunate bull Unigenitus sometimes caused it to quarrel with cardinal Fleuri.

It further ceased its functions in 1751, in the little troubles excited by Christopher de Beaumont, archbishop of Paris, on the subject of letters of confession, and the refusal of sacraments.

* No doubt; but what was the fact a reign or two after? --T.

There was a new cessation of service in 1753. The whole body was exiled to several towns of its resort, the grand chamber to Pontoise. This exile lasted more than fifteen months, from the 10th of May 1753, to the 27th of August 1754. At this time the king caused justice to be rendered by counsellors of state and masters of requests. Very few causes were pleaded before this new tribunal. Most of those who had suits preferred accommodation, or waiting the return of the parliament. It seemed as if chicanery was exiled with those who were instituted to repress it.

The parliament was finally recalled to its functions, and returned with the acclamations of all France. Two

years after its return, the public mind being more soured than ever, the king held a court of justice at Paris in 1756, the 13th of December. He suppressed two chambers of parliament, and made several rules to institute a new police in this body. Scarcely was it dissolved, when all the judges gave in their resignations, except some presidents à mortier, and ten judges of the grand chamber.

The court believed not then that it possessed the power of establishing a new tribunal in its place. The people were on all sides much soured, andv

very uncertain. The inconceivable outrage of Damiens appeared for some time to reconcile parliament with the court.. This unhappy man, no less insane than guilty, accused seven members of parliament in a letter which he dared to direct to the king himself, and which was carried to him. This absurd accusation prevented not the king from referring to the same parliament the judgment of Damiens, who was condemned to the punishment of Ravaillac, by those who remained of the grand chamber. Several peers and princes of the blood voted.

After the terrible execution of the criminal, performed on the 28th of March 1757, the ministry, engaged in a ruinous and fatal war, negociated with the same officers of parliament who gave in their resignations; and the exiled were recalled.

This body, in consequence of having been humiliated by the court, had more authority than ever.

It signalised this authoritiy by an act abolishing the order of the jesuits in France, and by depriving them of all their property (by act of 6th of August, 1762). Nothing rendered it more dear to the nation. In this act it was perfectly seconded by all the parliaments of the kingdom, and by all France.

It united itself in fact with these other parliaments, and pretended to make only one body with them, of which it was the principal member. At first they were all called classes of parliament; that of Paris was the first class; each class made remonstrances on the edicts, and would not register them. There were even some of these bodies who prosecuted the commandants of provinces, sent to them by the king to cause them to be registered. Some classes decreed arrests against these officers, and if these decrees had been put into execution, a very strange effect would have resulted. It is on the royal domains that the money is obtained with which the expenses of justice are paid; so that the king would have paid from his own domains for sentences given by those who disobeyed him, against his principal officers, who had executed his orders.

The most singular of these sentences passed against the commandants of the provinces, was that of the parliament of Toulouse against the duke of Fitzjames, Berwick, dated the 17th of December 1763. It orders “ That the said duke shall be taken, seized, and arrested, in whatever part of the kingdom he may be found;" that is to say, that the Toulousean officers and bailiffs might seize the body of the duke of Fitzjames, even in the king's chamber, or in his chapel at Versailles. The court long passed over this affront, and therefore provoked others.

This extraordinary anarchy could not exist; the crown must either have reassumed its authority, or the parliaments have prevailed.

In such critical junctures there was need of a chan

cellor as bold as l'Hôpital; and he was found. It was necessary to change all the administration of justice in the kingdom; and it was changed.

The king commenced by endeavouring to bring back the parliament from Paris; and he called a court of justice, which he held at Versailles, the 7th of December 1770, with the princes, peers, and great officers of the crown.

He there forbad them ever to make use of the terms unity, indivisibility, and classes,

To send to other parliaments other memorials than those specified by ordinances

To cease the service, unless in cases which these same ordinances have foreseen

To give in their resignation in a body

Ever to give a sentence which retards the registerings. The whole under pain of dismissal.

The parliament, after this solemn edict, still ceasing service, the king sent them letters of command, which they disobeyed. New letters of command produced fresh disobedience, until at length the monarch, driven to the last extremity, as a last trial, at four o'clock in the morning of the 20th of January 1771, sent them a troop of musqueteers, who carried to each member a paper to sign. This paper contained merely an order to declare whether they would obey or refuse. Several wished to interpret the will of the king: the musqueteers told them that they had orders to avoid all comments, and that they must have a yes or no.

Forty members signed this yes; the others declined. The affirmatives, coming to parliament with their comrades the next day, demanded their pardon for having acceeded and signed no. All were exiled.

Justice was again administered by councillors of stæte and masters of requests, as it had been in 1753; but it was only by provision. An useful arrangement will soon be extracted from this chaos. The king then gave up to the wishes of the people,

It is impossible to imagine a finer course of proceeding to ensure revolution, seeing it was evident that the people went heartily with the parliaments. The grand coups of despotism are often the proximate causes of its own destruction.--T.

who complained for ages of two grievances, of which the one was ruinous, the other at once shameful and burdensome. The first was the too great confinement of the parliament to Paris, which often caused citizens an hundred and fifty leagues distant to exceed their income in expense. The second was the venality of places of judicature, a venality which introduced the heavy taxation of judges' fees.

To reform these two abuses, six new parliaments were instituted on the 23rd of February of the same year, under the title of superior councils, with an injunction to render justice gratis. These councils were established (according to alphabetical order) in Arras, Blois, Châlons, Clermont, Lyons, and Poictiers; others have since been added.

Above all, a new parliament was to be formed at Paris, to be paid by the king, without the purchase of offices, or anything being exacted from the clients : this establishment was made the 13th of April 1771. The opprobrium of the venality with which Francis I. and chancellor Duprat unhappily stained France, was washed out by Louis XV. and the cares of chancellor de Maupeon, the second of the name. They concluded with the reform of all the parliaments, and hoped to see the reform of jurisprudence also. They were deceived: nothing was reformed; and Louis XVI. wisely re-established the parliaments which Louis XV. had put down. The people saw their return with transports of joy.


MEMBERS of the parliament of England like to compare themselves to the ancient Romans as much as they can.* It is not long since Mr. Shippen, in the house of cominons, began his speech with these words : “ The majesty of the English people would be wounded." The singularity of the expression caused a great burst of laughter; but without being disconcerted, he re

* This article was written towards the year 1731.

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