The Ancient Regime eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 548 pages of information about The Ancient Regime.
themselves in the poor, in children, in the people; Madame d’Egmont recommends Gustavus III to plant Dalecarlia with potatoes.  On the appearance of the engraving published for the benefit of Calas[42] “all France and even all Europe, hastens to subscribe for it, the Empress of Russia giving 5,000 livres[43].  “Agriculture, economy, reform, philosophy,” writes Walpole, “are bon ton, even at the court.” — President Dupaty having drawn up a memorandum in behalf of three innocent persons, sentenced “to be broken on the wheel, everybody in society is talking about it;” “idle conversation no longer prevails in society,” says a correspondent of Gustavus III[44] “since it is that which forms public opinion.  Words have become actions.  Every sensitive heart praises with joy a publication inspired by humanity and which appears full of talent because it is full of feeling.”  When Latude is released from the prison of Bicêtre Mme. de Luxembourg, Mme. de Boufflers, and Mme. de Staël dine with the grocer-woman who “for three years and a half moved heaven and earth " to set the prisoner free.  It is owing to the women, to their sensibility and zeal, to a conspiracy of their sympathies, that M. de Lally succeeds in the rehabilitation of his father.  When they take a fancy to a person they become infatuated with him; Madame de Lauzun, very timid, goes so far as to publicly insult a man who speaks ill of M. Necker. — It must be borne in mind that, in this century, the women were queens, setting the fashion, giving the tone, leading in conversation and naturally shaping ideas and opinions[45].  When they take the lead on the political field we may be sure that the men will follow them:  each one carries her drawing room circle with her.

VI.  WELL-MEANING GOVERNMENT.

Infinite, vague aspirations. — Generosity of sentiments and of conduct. — The mildness and good intentions of the government. — Its blindness and optimism.

An aristocracy imbued with humanitarian and radical maxims, courtiers hostile to the court, privileged persons aiding in undermining privileges, presents to us a strange spectacle in the testimony of the time.  A contemporary states that it is an accepted principle “to change and upset everything."[46] High and low, in assemblages, in public places, only reformers and opposing parties are encountered among the privileged classes.

“In 1787, almost every prominent man of the peerage in the Parliament declared himself in favor of resistance. . . .  I have seen at the dinners we then attended almost every idea put forward, which, soon afterwards, produced such startling effects."[47] Already in 1774, M. de Vaublanc, on his way to Metz, finds a diligence containing an ecclesiastic and a count, a colonel in the hussars, talking political economy constantly[48].  “It was the fashion of the day.  Everybody was an economist. 

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The Ancient Regime from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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