History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 4

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III.
MASSACHUSETTS DEFEATS THE ATTEMPT OF YHE BRITISH PAR-
LIAMENT TO CHANGE ITS CHARTER.
MAY–AUGUST 1774.

THE colonies needed for their support against Britain the alliance of France, but Louis XV., in the last years of his life, courted the friendship of George III., not to efface the false notion of international enmity which was a brand on the civilization of that age, but to gain new support for monarchical power. On the tenth day of May he died, and Louis XVI., the “desired one” of the people, while not yet twenty years old, suddenly became king. The city of Paris was delirious with joy at his accession. “It is our paramount wish to make our people happy,” was the language of the first edict of the new absolute prince. “He excels in writing prose,” said Voltaire, on reading the words of promise; “he seems inspired by Marcus Aurelius; he desires what is good and does it. Happy they who, like him, are but twenty years old, and will long enjoy the sweets of his reign.”

The young monarch, when heir to the throne of France, had not been admitted to the royal council, and had grown up ignorant of business. In manner he was awkward and embarrassed, and even at his own court ill at ease. He had neither military science, nor martial spirit, nor gallant bearing; and a warlike nation interpreted his torpid languor as a want of courage. His sphere of vision was narrow, and he applied himself chiefly to details or matters of little importance. His turn of mind was serious, yet his countenance betrayed

-37-

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