He had been so far right in his estimate of his position that he could rely on the support of the queen, who was aware that both her mother and her brother had a high opinion of his integrity; but though the king also had from time to time given his cordial sanction to his different measures, it was not in the nature of Louis to withstand repeated pressure and solicitation. Necker, too, himself unintentionally played into the hands of his enemies. He had nominally only a subordinate position in the ministry. As he was a Protestant, Louis had feared to offend the clergy by giving him a seat in the council, or the title of comptroller-general; but had conferred that post on M. Taboureau des Reaux, making Necker director of the treasury under him. The real management of the exchequer was, however, placed wholly in his hands; and, as he was one of the vainest of men, he had gradually assumed a tone of importance as if his were the paramount influence in the Government; going so far as even to open negotiations with foreign statesmen to which none of his colleagues were privy. It was not strange that he was not very well satisfied with a position which seemed as if it had been contrived in order to keep him out of sight, and to deprive him of the credit belonging to his financial successes; but hitherto he had been satisfied to bide his time. Now, however, his triumph over M. Boutourlin seemed to him so to have established his supremacy as to entitle him to insist on a promotion which should be a public recognition of his position as the real minister of finance, and as entitled to a preponderating voice in all matters of general policy. He accordingly demanded admission to the council, and, on its being refused, at once resigned his office.
The consternation was universal; the general public had gradually learned to place such confidence in him that they looked on his loss as irreparable. Some even of the princes who had originally striven to prepossess the king against him either changed their minds or feared to show their disagreement with the common feeling. And Marie Antoinette, who fully shared his views as to the primary importance of finance in all questions of government, condescended to admit him to an interview; requested him, as a personal favor to herself, to recall his resignation, urging upon him that patience would surely in time procure him all that he asked; and, in her honest earnestness for the welfare of the nation, wept when he withdrew without having yielded to her solicitations. It was late in the evening and dark when he took his leave, and afterward, when he was told that he had drawn tears from her eyes by his refusal, he said that, had he seen them, he should have submitted to a wish so enforced, even at the sacrifice of his own comfort and reputation.
The Queen expects to be confined again.—Increasing Unpopularity of the King’s Brothers.—Birth of the Dauphin.—Festivities.—Deputations from the Different Trades.—Songs of the Dames de la Halle.—Ball given by the Body-guard.—Unwavering Fidelity of the Regiment.—The Queen offers up her Thanksgiving at Notre Dame.—Banquet at the Hotel de Ville.—Rejoicing in Paris.