The Ancient Regime eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 652 pages of information about The Ancient Regime.

[54].  Marquis D’Argenson, “Mémoires,” ed.  Rathery, January 27, 1757.  “The sieur de Montmorin, captain of the game-preserves of Fontainebleau, derives from his office enormous sums, and behaves himself like a bandit.  The population of more than a hundred villages around no longer sow their land, the fruits and grain being eaten by deer; stags and other game.  They keep only a few vines, which they preserve six months of the year by mounting guard day and night with drums, making a general turmoil to frighten off the destructive animals.”  January 23, 1753. — " M. le Prince de Conti has established a captainry of eleven leagues around Ile-Adam and where everybody is vexed at it.”  September 23, 1753. — M. le Duc d’Orléans came to Villers-Cotterets, he has revived the captainry; there are more than sixty places for sale on account of these princely annoyances.

[55].  The old peasants with whom I once have talked still had a clear memory of these annoyances and damages. — They recounted how, in the country around Clermont, the gamekeepers of Prince de Condé in the springtime took litters of wolves and raised them in the dry moats of the chateau.  They were freed in the beginning of the winter, and the wolf hunting team would then hunt them later.  But they ate the sheep, and, here and there, a child.

[56].  The estates of the king encompassed in forest one million acres, not counting forests in the appanages set aside for his eldest son or for factories or salt works.

[57].  De Montlosier, “Mémoires,” I. 175.


I. England compared to France.

An English example. — The Privileged class renders no service in France. — The influence and rights which remain to them. — They use it only for themselves.

Useless in the canton, they might have been useful at the Center of the State, and, without taking part in the local government, they might have served in the general government.  Thus does a lord, a baronet, a squire act in England, even when not a “justice” of his county or a committee-man in his parish.  Elected a member of the Lower House, a hereditary member of the upper house, he holds the strings of the public purse and prevents the sovereign from spending too freely.  Such is the régime in countries where the feudal seigniors, instead of allowing the sovereign to ally himself with the people against them, allied themselves with the people against the sovereign.  To protect their own interests better they secured protection for the interests of others, and, after having served as the representatives of their compeers they became the representatives of the nation.  Nothing of this kind takes place in France.  The States-General are fallen into desuetude, and the king may with truth declare himself the sole representative of the country.  Like trees rendered lifeless

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