Unhappily, no; it is a mere taste of the whip to rearing coursers, which makes them rear worse! When a team of Twenty-five Millions begins rearing, what is Lomenie’s whip? The Parlement will nowise acquiesce meekly; and set to register the Protestant Edict, and do its other work, in salutary fear of these three Lettres-de-Cachet. Far from that, it begins questioning Lettres-de-Cachet generally, their legality, endurability; emits dolorous objurgation, petition on petition to have its three Martyrs delivered; cannot, till that be complied with, so much as think of examining the Protestant Edict, but puts it off always ’till this day week.’ (Besenval, iii. 309.)
In which objurgatory strain Paris and France joins it, or rather has preceded it; making fearful chorus. And now also the other Parlements, at length opening their mouths, begin to join; some of them, as at Grenoble and at Rennes, with portentous emphasis,—threatening, by way of reprisal, to interdict the very Tax-gatherer. (Weber, i. 266.) “In all former contests,” as Malesherbes remarks, “it was the Parlement that excited the Public; but here it is the Public that excites the Parlement.”
What a France, through these winter months of the year 1787! The very Oeil-de-Boeuf is doleful, uncertain; with a general feeling among the Suppressed, that it were better to be in Turkey. The Wolf-hounds are suppressed, the Bear-hounds, Duke de Coigny, Duke de Polignac: in the Trianon little-heaven, her Majesty, one evening, takes Besenval’s arm; asks his candid opinion. The intrepid Besenval,—having, as he hopes, nothing of the sycophant in him,—plainly signifies that, with a Parlement in rebellion, and an Oeil-de-Boeuf in suppression, the King’s Crown is in danger;—whereupon, singular to say, her Majesty, as if hurt, changed the subject, et ne me parla plus de rien! (Besenval, iii. 264.)
To whom, indeed, can this poor Queen speak? In need of wise counsel, if ever mortal was; yet beset here only by the hubbub of chaos! Her dwelling-place is so bright to the eye, and confusion and black care darkens it all. Sorrows of the Sovereign, sorrows of the woman, think-coming sorrows environ her more and more. Lamotte, the Necklace-Countess, has in these late months escaped, perhaps been suffered to escape, from the Salpetriere. Vain was the hope that Paris might thereby forget her; and this ever-widening-lie, and heap of lies, subside. The Lamotte, with a V (for Voleuse, Thief) branded on both shoulders, has got to England; and will therefrom emit lie on lie; defiling the highest queenly name: mere distracted lies; (Memoires justificatifs de la Comtesse de Lamotte (London, 1788). Vie de Jeanne de St. Remi, Comtesse de Lamotte, &c. &c. See Diamond Necklace (ut supra).) which, in its present humour, France will greedily believe.