The Ancient Regime eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 548 pages of information about The Ancient Regime.
Even in 1789, the clergy in its registers, while consenting to the toleration of non-Catholics, finds the edict of 1788 too liberal.  They desire that non-Catholics should be excluded from judicial offices, that they should never be allowed to worship in public, and that mixed marriages should be forbidden.  And much more than this; they demand preliminary censure of all works sold by the bookshops, an ecclesiastical committee to act as informers, and ignominious punishment to be awarded to the authors of irreligious books.  Lastly they claim for their body the direction of public schools and the oversight of private schools. — There is nothing strange in this intolerance and selfishness.  A collective body, as with an individual, thinks of itself first of all and above all.  If, now and then, it sacrifices some one of its privileges it is for the purpose of securing the alliance of some other body.  In that case, which is that of England, all these privileges, which compound with each other and afford each other mutual support, form, through their combination, the public liberties. — In this case, only one body being represented, its deputies are neither directed nor tempted to make concession to others; the interest of the body is their sole guide; they subordinate the common interest to it and serve it at any cost, even to criminal attacks on the public welfare.

III.  Influence of the Nobles..

Regulations in their favor. — Preferment obtained by them in the Church. — Distribution of bishoprics and abbeys. — Preferment obtained from them from the State. — Governments, offices, sinecures, pensions, gratuities. — Instead of being useful they are an expense.

Thus do public bodies work when, instead of being associated together, they are separate.  The same spectacle is apparent on contemplating castes and associations; their isolation is the cause of their egoism.  From the top to the bottom of the scale the legal and moral powers which should represent the nation represent themselves only, while each one is busy in its own behalf at the expense of the nation.  The nobility, in default of the right to meet together and to vote, exercises its influence, and, to know how it uses this, it is sufficient to read over the edicts and the Almanac.  A regulation imposed on Marshal de Ségur[4]has just restored the old barrier, which excluded commoners from military rank, and thenceforward, to be a captain, it is necessary to prove four degrees of nobility.  In like manner, in late days, one must be a noble to be a master of requests, and it is secretly determined that in future “all ecclesiastical property, from the humblest priory to the richest abbeys, shall be reserved to the nobility.”  In fact, all the high places, ecclesiastic or laic, are theirs; all the sinecures, ecclesiastic or laic, are theirs, or for their relations, adherents, protégés, and servitors.  France[5] is like a vast stable

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The Ancient Regime from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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