But Louis, or rather his rash minister, was not to be so conciliated; and a scene ensued which is the first of the striking parallels which this period in France affords to the events which had taken place in England a century and a half before. As in 1642 Charles I. had attempted to arrest members of the English Parliament in the very House of Commons, so the archbishop now persuaded Louis to send down the captain of the guard, the Marquis d’Agoust, to the palace of the Parliament, to seize D’Espremesnil, and another councilor named Montsabert, who had been one of his foremost supporters in the recent discussions. They behaved with admirable dignity. Marie Antoinette was not one to betray her husband’s counsels, as Henrietta Maria had betrayed those of Charles. D’Espremesnil and his friend, wholly taken by surprise, had had no warning of what was designed, no time to withdraw, nor in all probability would they have done so in any case. When M. d’Agoust entered the council hall and demanded his prisoners, there was a great uproar. The whole Assembly made common cause with their two brethren who were thus threatened. “We are all d’Espremesnils and Montsaberts,” was their unanimous cry; while the tumult at the doors, where a vast multitude was collected, many of whom had arms in their hands and seemed prepared to use them, was more formidable still. But D’Agoust, though courteous in the discharge of his duty, was intrepid and firm; and the two members voluntarily surrendered themselves and retired in custody, while the archbishop was so elated with his triumph that a few days afterwards he induced the king to venture on another imitation of the history of England, though now it was not Charles, but the more tyrannical Cromwell, whose conduct was copied. Before the end of the month the Governor of Paris entered the palace of the Parliament, seized all the registers and documents of every kind, locked the doors, and closed them with the king’s seal; and a royal edict was issued suspending all the parliaments both in the capital and the provinces.
Formidable Riots take place in some Provinces.—The Archbishop invites Necker to join his Ministry.—Letter of Marie Antoinette describing her Interview with the Archbishop, and her Views.—Necker refuses.—The Queen sends Messages to Necker.—The Archbishop resigns, and Necker becomes Minister.—The Queen’s View of his Character.—General Rejoicing.—Defects in Necker’s Character.—He recalls the Parliament.—Riots in Paris.— Severe Winter.—General Distress.—Charities of the King and Queen.— Gratitude of the Citizens.—The Princes are concerned in the Libels published against the Queen.—Preparations for the Meeting of the States-general.—Long Disuse of that Assembly.—Need of Reform.—Vices Of the Old Feudal System.—Necker’s Blunders in the Arrangements for the Meeting of the States.—An Edict of the King concedes the Chief Demands of the Commons.—Views of the Queen.