History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 6

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XXXII.
THE TOWNS OF MASSACHUSETTS HOLD CORRESPONDENCE.

AUGUST 1772–JANUARY 1773.

“WE must get the colonies into order before we engage with our neighbors,” were the words of the king to Lord North in August, 1772; and a cordial understanding sprung up between George III. and Louis XV., that monarchy might triumph in France over philosophy, in America over the people.

On the subject of royal authority, Louis XV. never wavered. To him Protestants were republicans; and he would not even legalize their marriages. He violated the constitutions of Languedoc and Brittany without scruple, employing military force against their states. The parliament of Paris, even more than the other companies of judges, had become an aristocratic senate, not only distributing justice, but exercising some check on legislation; he demanded their unqualified registry of his edicts. “Sire,” remonstrated the upright magistrate Malesherbes, in 1771, “to mark your dissatisfaction with the parliament of Paris, the most essential rights of a free people are taken from the nation. The greatest happiness of the people is always the object and end of legitimate power. God places the crown on the heads of kings to preserve to their subjects the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property. This truth flows from the law of God and from the law of nature, and is peculiar to no constitution. In France, as in all monarchies, there exist inviolable rights, which belong to the nation. Interrogate, sire, the nation itself: the incorruptible testimony of its representatives will at least let you know if the cause which we defend to-day is that of all this people, by

Vol. III.—27

-417-

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