Montesquieu

Rica to Usbek in ***


The Paris par­le­ment has just been rele­ga­ted to a small city they call Pontoise. The Council sent to it for regis­tra­tion or appro­val a decla­ra­tion that disho­nors it, and it regis­te­red it in a man­ner that disho­nors the Council.1

Several par­le­ments in the realm are threa­te­ned with the same treat­ment.

These com­pa­nies are always irri­ta­ting. They approach kings only to tell them sad truths ; and while a crowd of cour­tiers are cons­tantly depic­ting for them a peo­ple happy under their govern­ment, they come and gain­say flat­tery and bring to the foot of the throne the groans and tears of which they are the depo­si­ta­ries.

Truth is a heavy bur­den, my dear Usbek, when it must be car­ried as far as prin­ces : they surely must think that those who do so are obli­ged to, and that they would never resign them­sel­ves to under­take acts so sad and dis­pi­ri­ting for those who do them, if they were not for­ced to do so by their duty, their res­pect, and even their love.

Paris this 21st day of the moon of Gemmadi I, 1720

On 17 July 1720 the Paris parlement, questioning the regularity of several of the Bank’s operations, refused to register a royal edict ; it was exiled to Pontoise by lettres de cachet on 20 July (this letter being dated the 21st). The parlement’s resistance lasted only a few months, until it registered the edict, with restrictions, on 4 December.