Source Problems on the French Revolution

Contents:

6. Young, Arthur. Travels in France, 170.

The 20th. News! News! Every one stares at what every one might have expected—a message from the king to the president of the three orders, that he should meet them on Monday; and, under pretense of preparing the hall for the séance royale, the French guards were placed with bayonets to prevent any of the deputies entering the room. The circumstances of doing this ill-judged act of violence have been as ill-advised as the act itself. Mons. Bailly received no other notice of it than by a letter from the Marquis de Brézé, and the deputies met at the door of the hall without knowing that it was shut. Thus the seeds of disgust were sown wantonly in the manner of doing a thing, which in itself was equally impalatable and unconstitutional. The resolution taken on the spot was a noble and firm one; it was to assemble instantly at the jeu de paume, and then the whole assembly took a solemn oath never to be dissolved but by their own consent, and consider themselves and act as the national assembly, let them be wherever violence or fortune might drive them, and their expectations were so little favorable that expresses were sent off to Nantes, intimating that the national assembly might possibly find it necessary to take refuge in some distant city. This message, and placing guards at the hall of the states, are the results of long and repeated councils, held in the king’s presence at Marly, where he had been shut up for several days, seeing nobody; and no person admitted, even to the officers of the court, without jealousy and inspection. The king’s brothers have no seat in the council, but the Comte d’Artois incessantly attends the resolutions, conveys them to the queen, and has long conferences with her. When this news arrived at Paris, the Palais Royal was in a flame, the coffee-houses, pamphlet shops, corridors, and gardens were crowded—alarm and apprehension sat in every eye—and reports that were circulated eagerly, tending to show the violent intentions of the court, as it were bent on the entire extirpation of the French nation, except the party of the queen, are perfectly incredible for their gross absurdity; but nothing was so glaringly ridiculous, but the mob swallowed it with undiscriminating faith. It was, however, curious to remark, among people of another description (for I was in several parties after the news arrived), that the balance of opinions was clearly that the national assembly, as it called itself, had gone too far—had been too precipitate and too violent—had taken steps that the mass of the people would not support. From which we may conclude that if the court, having seen the tendency of their late proceedings, shall pursue a firm and politic plan, the popular cause will have little to boast.

The 21st. It is impossible to have any other employment at so critical a moment than going from house to house demanding news, and remarking the opinions and ideas most current. The present moment is, of all others, perhaps that which is most pregnant with the future destiny of France. The step the commons have taken of declaring themselves the national assembly independent of the other orders, and of the king himself, precluding a dissolution, is in fact an assumption of all the authority in the kingdom. They have at one stroke converted themselves into the long parliament of Charles I. It needs not the assistance of much penetration to see that if such a pretension and declaration are not done away, king, lords, and clergy are deprived of their shares in the legislation of France. So bold and apparently desperate a step, full in the teeth of every other interest in the realm, equally destructive to royal authority, by parliaments and the army, can never be allowed. If it is not opposed, all other powers will lie in ruins around that of the common.

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Chicago: "6. Young, Arthur. Travels in France, 170," Source Problems on the French Revolution in Source Problems on the French Revolution, ed. Fred Morrow Fling and Helene Dresser Fling (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1913), 52–55. Original Sources, accessed December 11, 2019, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=89VYWKYCFPCG944.

MLA: . "6. Young, Arthur. Travels in France, 170." Source Problems on the French Revolution, in Source Problems on the French Revolution, edited by Fred Morrow Fling and Helene Dresser Fling, New York, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1913, pp. 52–55. Original Sources. 11 Dec. 2019. originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=89VYWKYCFPCG944.

Harvard: , '6. Young, Arthur. Travels in France, 170' in Source Problems on the French Revolution. cited in 1913, Source Problems on the French Revolution, ed. , Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, pp.52–55. Original Sources, retrieved 11 December 2019, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=89VYWKYCFPCG944.