The Statesmanship of Turgot


ON a beautiful May day in 1774 the long reign of Louis XV was ended. Ancestors of his — like Charles IX and Louis XIV — had dealt more evident and direct blows at the well-being of France, but never since the foundation of the monarchy had any sovereign so debauched the whole national life; and not only France, but the world at large, began to take account of the legacies he had left.

First of these were his character and example, the worst since the most degraded of the Cæsars; next was his court, unmoral and immoral, from which corruption had long welled forth over and through the nation. In civil matters, there had prevailed the rule of the worst; in military matters, defeat and dishonor; in finance, constantly recurring deficits and an ever-nearing prospect of bankruptcy; among the higher clergy, luxury and intolerance; among the nobility, the sway of cynics and intriguers; among the middle classes, unreasoning selfishness; among the lower classes, pauperism, ignorance, frequent famines, a deep sense of injustice, and a rapidly increasing hatred for those who had so long oppressed them. Imbedded in this enormous legacy of corruption, misrule, misery, and hate, were two sayings with which the late king and his most intimate adviser had been wont to repel pleas for reform, — “This will last as long as I shall,” and “After me the deluge.” 2

The deluge had come: a flood of resentments for old wrongs, of hatred for wrong-doers, of new thought boding evil to all that was established, of sentimentalism likely to become cruelty.3

To withstand this deluge had come Louis XVI, twenty years of age, kindly at heart, hating the old order of things, longing for something better, but weak, awkward, mistrusting himself and all about him; and, at his side, — destined to be more fatal to him and to France than all else, — his beautiful queen, Marie Antoinette, sometimes kindly, sometimes selfish, but always heedless, frivolous, lavish, never strong and persistent, save against those who sought to shield her husband and herself from the approaching catastrophe.

First of all there must be a prime minister. Reflecting upon this fact, and calling in the advice of those whom he thought his friends, Louis named Maurepas, — a decayed fop, seventy-three years of age, whose life had been mainly devoted to cultivating useful acquaintances and scattering witticisms among courtiers, but who, on account of quarrels with some of the women about Louis XV, had several years before been banished to his country seat. Maurepas promptly reappeared, and to him was entrusted the duty of selecting a new ministry.

He would doubtless have preferred to call men of his own sort; but, being shrewd enough to see that this was hardly possible, he began gradually replacing the old ministers with better. In this he had a system: — the selection of men who could make a reputation likely to give him popularity, but who were without any ambitions which might endanger him.

Foremost among these men was Turgot. The story of his success in the intendancy of Limoges had spread far. Even amidst all the scoundrelism of the time there was a deep respect for his character, and an admiration for his services. Yet Maurepas, thinking it perhaps not best to trust him very far at first, made him simply Minister of Naval Affairs, and this office Turgot held for just five weeks and three days. Even during this time he showed his good qualities, by casting out various evils and suggesting many reforms; but Maurepas, feeling it necessary to yield to the universal hatred against the Abbé Terray, — everywhere recognized as a main centre of evil under the late king, — removed him from the great office of Comptroller-General, — at that time the most important position under the monarchy, —and in his place set Turgot.

This nomination gave universal satisfaction , and most of all to the new king. He received the new Comptroller with open arms; and during their first interview Turgot made his famous proposal: “No bankruptcy, no increase of taxation, no new debts; economy and retrenchment.” At this the king was overjoyed, gave his heart to Turgot,and pledged his honor to support him.

That this confidence was well placed was shown by Turgot’s first budget; it was made with such genius that it ended the deficit, extinguished a great mass of debt, and set the nation on the road to prosperity.

This practical financial policy was but part of a plan far deeper and wider. Turgot clearly saw that the old system was outworn, that its natural result must be a catastrophe, that in place of it must be developed a system to meet the needs of the new time, that whatever was to be done must be done promptly and thoroughly, and that the only question was, whether this new system should come by evolution or by revolution.

Like heavy drops of rain before a shower came various suppressions of old abuses, including the monstrous droit d’aubaine, dismissals of incapables, abolitions of sinecures, arrests of peculators, freedom of internal trade in grain, and freedom of the press in matters pertaining to financial and general administration. Everything began to tend away from the old rule of secrecy, in which all noxious growths flourished, and toward the throwing open of public business to the light of public opinion.

All these things were contrary to the genius of Maurepas, and he gave as little help as possible; but during the following year he strengthened Turgot by the appointment of a true statesman as Minister of the King’s Household. This statesman was Malesherbes, a man holding high judicial position, — neither ambitious nor especially hopeful, but of great capacity and of noble character. His new office was of vast importance, for its occupant had large control of the court, of ecclesiastical affairs, Catholic and Protestant, of the city of Paris, and of various districts and institutions throughout the kingdom. Observing Turgot’s preliminary reforms and the appointment of Malesherbes, good men and true throughout the realm took heart. The king, Turgot, and Malesherbes stood together, — apparently a great force. Maurepas, encouraged by this success, gradually added other ministers; some, like Vergennes, strengthening the effort toward a better era; others, like Saint-Germain, holding back or going astray.4

Meanwhile came two things of ill omen. First was the recall of the Parliament of Paris, which had been suspended in 1771, and which had been superseded, as we have seen, by a new royal court. The parasites of the banished Parliament besought Louis to restore it; the queen strongly seconded these efforts; Maurepas, with the great mass of time-servers, took the same side; and the mob hurrahed for it. Opposing the recall of this old, selfish, tyrannical body were Turgot, Malesherbes, Vergennes, — Minister of Foreign Affairs,—and two powers which it surprises us to find in such company, — first, the king’s next brother, the Comte de Provence, and secondly, the clergy. This position of the Comte de Provence was doubtless due to his clear conviction that the Parliament injured the royal power; the position of the clergy was due to the only good thing in the recent record of the Parliament, namely, its opposition to the French prelates, and especially to the Jesuits, in their attempts to revive religious persecution.5

The second thing of ill omen was the coronation oath. The king must be crowned; and, costly as this solemnity was, and empty though the treasury was, it seemed best to give the monarch the prestige of the old ceremony, — the stately journey to Rheims, the largess of all sorts, the coronation by the archbishops and bishops of France in the most splendid of French cathedrals, the anointing with oil from the sacred ampulla brought from heaven by a dove more than a thousand years before, and first used by St. Remy in crowning the founder of the French monarchy. Turgot had advised a coronation like that of Henry IV, and that of Napoleon afterward, before the high altar of Notre Dame, at Paris. This would have saved millions to the treasury, would have brought to France multitudes of visitors whose expenditures would have enured to the benefit of the country; and all this, in the fearful condition of French finances, was much.

But in Turgot’s mind this financial consideration was of comparatively small account. For, in the coronation oath, the French kings had been made to swear to exterminate all heretics, and this oath Turgot — in the interest of justice, peace and prosperity — sought to modify. But the clergy were too strong for him. They insisted that the king must, above all things, take the old oath, and Louis yielded to them; yet amid all the pomp of the coronation it was observed that, when his majesty arrived at the part of the oath which referred to heretics,his words were incoherent and nearly inaudible.

Soon came a new trial of strength between Turgot, representing what was best in the new epoch, and the recalled Paris Parliament, adhering to what was worst in the old. We have already seen what the old system of internal protection of agriculture had done for France. Its main result had been frequent famines, but even more evil had been its effects on the king, court, and high financiers. For there had been developed a practice of deriving profit from famine and starvation; and a leading feature in this was the sale of privileges to escape the protective duties. Out of these had grown an enormous system of monopoly and plunder, — what, in modern days, would be called a “grain ring,” including not only petty intriguers throughout the nation, but very many of the highest personages. Even King Louis XV had been besmirched by it. This monopoly had power to keep grain cheap in sundry parts of the nation, and there to buy it; power to keep grain dear in other parts of the nation, and there to sell it. There was an unlimited field for intrigue and greed; and for the tillage of this field was developed a strong and shrewd monopoly. Efforts were made to expose this; but to criticise a minister was considered akin to treason. Significant was the case of Prévost de Beaumont. He had discovered sundry misdoings of the grain monopolists and endeavored to expose them; no doubt with a bitterness which led to exaggeration. As a result he was thrown into prison, where he remained over twenty years, until the outbreak of the Revolution and the destruction of the Bastile set him free.6 Against this whole system of internal protection of agriculture, and against all who profited by it, Turgot stood firmly. As far back as 1763 and 1764 royal decrees had been put in force abolishing it, but, with his invincible tendency toward cheatery, the Abbé Terray, Turgot’s immediate predecessor in the comptrollership, had suspended these decrees, and the old system with all its evils had again settled down upon France. Now came a new struggle. Turgot induced the king to revive the old decrees giving internal free trade in grain, and, although protection of agriculture from foreign grain remained, the whole system of internal protection was abolished. This aroused bitter opposition; first, of course, from the grain ring and its satellites. Unfortunately, bad harvests followed the new decree; during the winter of 1774-75 came scarcity and even famine, and, as a result, bread riots and insurrections in various parts of France, notably beginning at Dijon near the eastern frontier, but steadily drawing near the centre of government, and finally, in April and May, 1775, appearing in Versailles and in Paris. The result was much pillage of bakers’ shops in the towns, burning of barns in the country, and sinking of cargoes of grain in the rivers, with here and there wholesale plunder and occasional murder. At Versailles, poor Louis tried to win the mobs by harangues, but these being unheeded, he thought it best, in the absence of Turgot, to lower arbitrarily the price of bread.

Turgot saw in this a beginning of new evils. Clearly, if the king lowered the price of the loaf at Versailles, every other province, every other district, every other city, every other hamlet, had a right to demand a similar favor, and this meant a policy ending in bankruptcy and more helpless famine. Turgot’s policy was really more merciful. As preliminary to all else, he insisted on having full powers from the king, suppressed the insurrection, dispersed the mobs, and two of the leaders in plundering and murdering he hanged on a gibbet forty feet high. It was a healthful act. Weak, sentimental people, whose measures in such crises generally turn out the most cruel which can be devised, lamented this severity; but the execution of these two malefactor doubtless prevented the deaths of scores, and perhaps hundreds, of innocent persons, which would have been unavoidable had the insurrection been allowed to rage and spread. What sentimental lenity to crime can do in enormously increasing murder we know but too well in the United States; what manly, prompt, and decisive dealing with crime can do in reducing the number of murders to almost a negligible point we see, to-day, in the administration of criminal justice in Great Britain.

While thus suppressing insurrection, Turgot struck boldly at the centre of the whole evil. The Parliament of Paris, in its general hatred of reforms, in its entanglements with monopolists, and in its dislike for Turgot, had done all in its power to thwart his policy by every sort of chicanery and pettifoggery. Thus they delayed the registration of the decree for reéstablishing freedom to the grain trade within the boundaries of France for three months; but now, near the end of the year 1774, Turgot availed himself of all the resources of French royal power, and forced them to yield.

Unfortunately, he could not get at his worst enemies. The bread riots had been organized to discourage free trade in grain. Behind the mob were the monopolists; the whole movement had a regularity which proved that its leaders were accustomed to command; and in the pockets of insurgents, howling for relief from starvation, were found goodly sums of money. Various clues led back to the Prince de Conti, of royal blood, and to other magnates of position and influence; but Turgot, not wishing to delay other projects for important reforms, or to increase popular feeling, was obliged to abstain from any attempt at punishing them.

At the beginning of the year 1775, he turned to a new series of great questions, and, most important of all, to a project for reforming the taille, — the great land tax, — one of the abuses which weighed most heavily upon the lower orders of the people. It was the principal tax in the kingdom. The old theory was that the nobility upheld the monarchy with their swords, that the clergy upheld it with their prayers, and that the third estate upheld it with their money. This theory had borne a vast fruitage of injustice. The nobility escaped with such comparatively small taxes as the “capitations” and the “twentieths;” the clergy evaded the heavier burdens by so-called “gifts,” which they themselves voted from time to time; the monied classes escaped the greater taxes by purchasing a sort of halfcaste nobility which freed them entirely from the taille and largely from other burdens. Very many of the less wealthy, who could not attain to enrollment among the nobles, were able to buy privileges which exempted them from much taxation. Sundry privileged towns too, in one way or another, had secured immunities. As a result of all these exemptions, the burdens of the state fell with all the more crushing force upon the class of small peasant proprietors, farmers and laborers, numbering about one fourth of the entire population. They were the poorest inhabitants of France, but on them fell the whole burden of the taille, and to this were added multitudes of feudal and church dues, — to such an extent that throughout large parts of the country men of this poorest class were taxed more than four fifths of their earnings.

Here, too, it may be mentioned that taxes on articles of ordinary consumption fell upon them as heavily as upon the richest in the land, and in some respects even more heavily. The government duties on salt, which made the price of that commodity eight times as high as at the present day, were levied in a way especially cruel, while monopolies and trade regulations raised the price of every article of use.

The most competent authorities tell us that the deaths of Frenchmen from famine in 1739-40 had been more numerous than those caused by all the wars of Louis XIV, that eight thousand persons died of misery in one month, in one quarter of Paris, that peasants died of want within the precincts of Versailles, that some villages were completely deserted, and that multitudes fled across the frontier. The Bishop of Chartres, being asked by the king how his flock fared, answered, “ Sire, they eat grass like sheep and starve like flies.” Turgot found that more than half of France was cultivated by peasant farmers who were absolute paupers, and all this within the most fertile, the most healthful, and the best situated state in Europe. Arthur Young tells us that not less than forty million acres of French soil were wholly or nearly waste. Many abuses, royal, feudal, clerical, contributed to this state of things, but among the causes especially prominent was the taille, and therefore it was that Turgot, who had endeavored to ease the fearful burden at Limoges, now sought to adjust it fairly throughout France.

The main difficulty dated from Louis XIV. A modern economist states it as follows: “Costly campaigns abroad,ruinous extravagance at home, left the kingdom at his death in 1715 with a debt of 3,460 millions of francs. . . . His murderous wars, reducing the birth-rate, increased the mortality, and the expulsion of the Protestants had reduced the population by four millions, or twenty per cent, since 1660. Agricultural products had fallen off by one third since he ascended the throne. Burdens increased, while they were diminished who bore them. A competent judge computed that more than half of the taxes themselves were eaten up by the cost of collection.”7

This condition of things had been made even worse by the Orleans regency and Louis XV. No less cruel than the taxes themselves was the manner of collecting them. The king in council having fixed the amount to be levied every year, an order was issued naming some individual in each community as collector, and making him personally responsible for the whole amount of the direct taxes in his district. In case this official failed under his burden, the other leading taxpayers in his district were made responsible, — all for each and each for all. This system was known as the contrainte solidaire, and it was substantially the same which had done so much, nearly fifteen hundred years before, to dissolve the Roman Empire.8

Even more cruel were the “indirect” taxes levied upon all the main articles consumed by the peasantry and collected by the agents of the Farmers General. Remembrances of indignities and extortions by these agents were among the leading incentives to the fearful pillage, destruction, and murder with which the Revolution began fifteen years later.9

To meet these evils, Turgot prepared plans for an equitable adjustment of the tax and a better system for its collection, and this, with a multitude of other capital reforms, he elaborated during 1775, although during the first four months of the year he was confined to his bed by a most painful attack of gout. His physical condition did not daunt him: he worked on vigorously despite his suffering, and so far as the world knew he was as valiant in grappling with the enemies who beset him as he had been in the vigor of his early manhood.

Steadily pressing on in his policy of breaking a way out of the mass of old abuses and developing a better order of things, Turgot, in January and February of 1776, took up his most important work for France, — the preparation of “the six great edicts.” Their main purpose was to loose the coils which were strangling French activities of every sort; and, of these, two were by far the most important. First, was the edict for the suppression of the royal corvée. The character of the corvée and the happy result of its suppression France had learned during his administration at Limoges. As we have seen, the purpose of this burden was the making of the royal roads, and the transportation of military stores. Under the old system the peasantry were liable to be called from their farm work during seed time or harvest and made to give many days of hard and exhausting work to road construction or to military transportation, — the main result being that the roads were among the worst in the world and the transportation of military stores anything but satisfactory. The cruelty and wastefulness of the system had then and there been remedied by Turgot, and for it he had substituted a moderate tax which, being applied to the roads, under proper engineers, and to transportation, under well guarded contracts, had given infinitely better results, and had relieved the peasantry of these most galling burdens.

But to this system which succeeded so perfectly in the Limousin, and which Turgot now proposed, by one of the six edicts, to extend throughout France, there soon appeared an ominous opposition. Nobles, clergy, and the Parliament of Paris united to oppose it. Their main argument was that Turgot purposed to degrade the upper classes; that, logically, if government could tax the nobility and the clergy equally with the peasantry for the improvement of the highways of the kingdom, it could tax them equally for any other purpose, and that this would obliterate the essential distinction between nobles and base-born.

It is hard, in the France of these days, to understand the chasm of prejudice between the upper and lower classes which existed in those. There had been in French history before Turgot’s time striking exhibitions of this feeling. Significant of much was the protest and complaint solemnly made by the nobility to the king at the States-General of 1614. They complained that the Third Estate, consisting of representatives of the vast body of the French people, not noble, had in one of their appeals presumed to speak of themselves as the “younger brothers” of the nobility; and the noble delegates protested against this as “great insolence.” Not less striking evidences of this same feeling are to be seen throughout the plays of Molière: in all of them the gentilhomme is everything, the roturier nothing.10

More extended and hardly less bitter was the opposition to the other great edict, — for the suppression of the Jurandes and Maîtrises, — the corporations which represented the various trades and the wardenships which controlled them In order to understand this particular complex of abuses which Turgot now endeavored to unravel, it must be remembered that under the old ideas of governmental interference there had grown up in France a system by which the various trades and industries had become close corporations, each having its rights, its laws, its restrictions, its exclusions, its definitions, its hierarchy of officials. No person could exercise such trades without going through a long series of formalities; no person could rise in any of them without buying the right to rise. For some of these features there had doubtless once been a valid reason; but the whole system had finally become one of the most absurd things in all that chaos of misrule. Between 1666 and 1683 Colbert had issued one hundred and fortynine different decrees regarding various trades; from 1550 to 1776, over two hundred and twenty-five years, there was dragging through the courts and the cabinets of the ministry the great struggle between the tailors and the clothes menders, the main question being as to what constitutes a new and what an old coat, — the tailors being allowed to work only upon new clothing and the menders upon old. From 1578 to 1767, close upon two hundred years, the shoemakers and cobblers had been in perpetual lawsuits regarding the definition of an old boot, — the regulation being in force that shoemakers were allowed to deal only with new boots and cobblers with old. Similar disputes occurred among the roasters and the cooks as to which should have the exclusive right to cook geese, and which to cook smaller fowls; which the right to cook poultry, and which the right to cook game; which the right to sell simply cooked meats, and which to sell meats prepared with sauces. Beside these were endless squabbles between sellers of dry goods, clothiers, and hatters: wonderful were the arguments as to the number of gloves or hats which certain merchants might expose for sale at one time. In cloth making and selling there were minute restrictions, carefully enacted, as to the width, length, and color of pieces which might be sold. Workmen of one sort were not allowed to do work generally done by another sort in the same trade, and upon all the trades were levied taxes and exactions which they recovered, as best they might, from each other and from the public at large. Underlying and permeating all this tangled mass of evil was the idea of paternal government, — the idea that the duty of a good government is to do the thinking for its subjects in a vast number of matters and transactions on which the individuals concerned would far better think for themselves. As a legitimate consequence of this theory, one regulation required that tailors, grocers, sellers of mustard, sellers of candles, and a multitude of others engaged in various branches of business, carefully specified, should belong to the established church.11

This whole system — as crippling French industry and undermining French character — Turgot sought to remedy. There was nothing of the Jack Cade spirit in his policy. He allowed just compensation in every case, but having done this, he insisted that the trade corporations should be extinguished and all wardenships abolished, except in four industries: in printing, because the nation was not yet ready for the measures which he would doubtless have elaborated later; in pharmacy and jewelry, because these trades need governmental control under all governments, — individuals being unable to exercise it; and in the barbers’ and wigmakers’ trade, because, during financial emergencies under previous reigns, so many wardenships,inspectorships, comptrollerships, and minor positions of various sorts in this branch of business had been created and sold to produce revenue that Turgot felt unable to buy them in. Noteworthy is it that when the rights of these barber functionaries were redeemed during the Revolution, the indemnity paid was over twenty millions of francs.

Of course, ingenious and elaborate arguments were made by strong men in favor of that old system, as they have been always made in favor of every other old system. In our days these arguments have been echoed by Alison. As a representative of English High Toryism he naturally declares against Turgot’s reforms; and especially striking is the Tory historian’s defense of the old French trade corporations in comparison with the trade unions of Great Britain in the early part of the nineteenth century. He exhibits the long series of wrongs and plundering, and even of unpunished murder, by these modern English organizations of labor, and attempts to present them as the only alternative to the French organizations under the Bourbons. But this argument, striking as it was when Alison presented it over fifty years ago, has now lost its force.12

The main line of contemporary argument against Turgot was that his reforms “impugned the wisdom of our ancestors,” that they swept away all distinctions between expert and worthless artisans, and that they were sure to destroy the supremacy of French industry.

There were long sessions of the Paris Parliament by day and night, with no end of sham patriotic speeches and impassioned debates. Prominent in these was D’Espréménil, big, handsome, oratorical, adored by his party, — ready at any moment to make eloquent harangues supporting abuses and denouncing reforms. Little did it occur to him that his own life and the lives of his friends were at stake and that Turgot was doing his best to save them; possibly this thought dawned upon him when, a few years later, he took his way to the guillotine.

Regarding this edict, also, Turgot persevered. The Paris Parliament, making a pretense of fairness, did, indeed, register of its own accord one of the minor edicts, while rejecting the others. All in vain : the king, though reluctant and halting, summoned the Parliament to a bed of justice and compelled it to register this and all the other edicts.

Closely connected with these reforms were Turgot’s dealings with another vast evil. The system of farming the “indirect taxes" of the nation had long been fruitful of corruption among the higher classes and of misery among the lower. In general terms, the system was one in which, the amount of these taxes having been determined, the collection of them was let out to a great combination of contractors, and on terms enormously profitable to them. To secure this monopoly, and to prevent opposition to it, this syndicate kept the hands of the government tied by advancing to it large sums in times of its greatest need; captured influential personages at court, from ministers and mistresses of the king down to the most contemptible of their parasites, by petty offices, pensions, and gifts; secured the services or silence of rogues in all parts of the kingdom by threats or bribery. It assumed the character of what in America of these days would be called a “combine,” and at the head of it were the Farmers General, — wealthy, powerful, and, as a rule, merciless. Their power pervaded the entire nation, — from the king’s apartments at Versailles to the cottages of the lowliest village. Whenever it was thought best to buy a man, he was bought; whenever it was thought best to discredit him, he was discredited; whenever it was thought best to crush him, he was crushed.13

To these men and their methods, Voltaire had made a reference which ran through France, and, indeed, through Europe. A party of Parisians were amusing each other by telling robber stories. Presently Voltaire, who had been listening quietly, said, “I can tell a robber story better than any of yours.” The whole room immediately became silent and listened to the greatest personage in the French literature of the eighteenth century. Voltaire, after clearing his throat, began as follows: “Once on a time there was a Farmer General.” Then he was silent. Presently all began to cry out: “Why do you stop ? Go on. Tell us the story.” “I have told the story,” said Voltaire; “do you not see that in my statement there is included the greatest robber story in history ? ”

The French came to understand the Farmers General perfectly, and twenty years later, a class of patriots and reformers, differing from Turgot in their methods, sent all the Farmers General on whom they could lay hands to the guillotine.

Against that phalanx of injustice Turgot stood forth undaunted. He could not, indeed, completely rout it, but he checked its worst abuses, cut down its illegal profits, and greatly diminished its power to corrupt the nation.

In his own person he set a noble example. For a long time it had been customary for the Farmers General to present to the comptroller an enormous gift whenever the government contract with them was renewed. This had become a well-known institution, and the so-called “gift” to the comptroller was regarded as one of his proper perquisites. In Turgot’s case it amounted to three hundred thousand livres, equal in purchasing power, very nearly, to the same number of dollars in our own land and time. Turgot utterly refused this gift; he had determined to enter into his great struggle unhampered.

While carrying out these fundamental measures he effected along series of minor reforms. There was the abuse of the octroi, under which taxes were collected on the produce of the peasants at the gates of cities. In this there had come various growths of injustice, notably one in levying high taxes on the sorts of products consumed by the poorer inhabitants of towns, and in levying low taxes on luxuries consumed by the higher classes. At this he struck an effective blow. In sundry cities and districts, especially at Rouen, were special monopolies in the grain trade, and in the business of bakers, which bore heavily upon the poorer classes. These he planned to destroy. At court and throughout the nation were myriads of sinecures; and these he extinguished whenever a chance offered. Throughout the country the system of raising money by lotteries prevailed; he saw — what so few statesmen among the Latin governments have seen from that day to this — the power of lotteries to undermine the financial morality of a people; and he struck effectively at these also. But here it should be especially mentioned that at all times and in all places he was careful to provide compensation to all who had just claims for loss of place or privilege. In this he showed that same wisdom which Great Britain has shown in the history of her reforms.14

Turgot now realized that measures to ameliorate feudalism must come. But he saw that the time had not yet arrived for developing them beyond what was absolutely necessary in preventing revolution. His main effort in this field was to prepare the public mind for gradual reforms, and therefore it was that, in 1775, he suggested to Boncerf, whom he knew to have thoroughly studied the subject, the publication of a pamphlet on the evils of feudalism. As a respected officer in one of the highest grades of the financial administration, and as a man thoroughly trained in the law, Boncerf was in every way fitted to discuss the subject. Nothing could be more fair, just, and moderate than his book. Even its title was studiously mild. Instead of announcing it as an exhibition of the evils or cruelties or wrongs perpetrated by feudalism, he entitled it The Inconveniences of Feudal Rights (Les Inconvénients des Droits Féodaux). It was neither drastic nor vindictive. It simply defended, as an experiment, the abolition of feudal rights on the domains of the king, not merely as a matter of justice, but as a matter of policy. Hardly had it appeared, in January of 1776, when the Parliament struck at it venomously. On motion of D’Espréménil the book was ordered burned by the hangman, and indictments were brought against Boncerf which hung over Iris head until the Revolution swept them away. It is a curious historical detail that Boncerf, after the Revolution had begun its course, was placed by the Constituent Assembly in a position which aided him in destroying the evils he had exhibited in his book, and that he himself sealed up the cabinets which contained the indictments that had been brought against him. Significant also, perhaps, is the further detail that, later in his career, while D’Espréménil was brought to the guillotine, Boncerf escaped the Revolutionary jury by a majority of one.15

But it should not be understood that all of Turgot’s efforts were given to removing old abuses. He was no mere destroyer; he was essentially a builder; all his reform measures had as their object the clearing of a basis for better institutions. Though the shortness of his ministry — only twenty-one months — prevented his putting all of these into definite form, there were several which have since rendered great services to his country. He vastly bettered the postal system throughout France, not only improving the roads on the plan which had done so much for the Limousin during his intendancy, but developing on these a service of fast coaches and diligences which greatly reduced the time between the most important points in France, and which became the envy of all neighboring nations. Under his direction were also prepared projects for a great network of internal water communications by the improvement of rivers, and the construction of canals; and to study the problems connected with these, he called to his aid the men most eminent in applied science. He sought to create a scientific system of weights and measures to take the place of the chaos of systems which had come down from the Middle Ages. To aid industry he organized a better system of banking, not only in cities, but in rural centres, thus initiating the ideas which have done so much for French prosperity in these days. As to higher education, he virtually created the Academy of Medicine, which since his time has become the most famous and weighty in the world; and in the Collège de France he established new professorships of law and literature.

Best of all, as revealing his depth and breadth of thought, his insight into the character of the French people, his intuition as to their capacities, his foresight of their dangers, and his desire to create an environment in which a better future might be developed, was the Memorial on Municipalities. Among the many evidences of his power as a political thinker and statesman, this is the most striking as showing his ability to bring theory to bear on practice. He saw what the most thoughtful men in France have only just begun clearly to see, — that the greatest defect in that gifted nation has been its want of practical political education and its consequent centralization of political power. Therefore it was that, amid all his pressing occupations in 1775, he, with his friend Dupont de Nemours, sketched out a plan for the gradual education of the French people, not only in public schools, but in the practical management of public affairs, by a system beginning in local self-government, and ending in a constitutional government of the nation.

Beginning at the little village communities, he proposed to establish in each a local council elected by peasants and other small taxpayers, to discuss and decide upon its own local matters, and also to elect delegates to the councils of the arrondissements, or, as we should call them, the counties. The arrondissement councils, thus elected by the village communities, were to discuss and decide arrondissement matters, and to elect deputies to the assemblies of the provinces. The assemblies of the provinces were to discuss and decide provincial matters and to elect representatives to the assembly of the nation.

Closely connected with this plan was a broad, graded system of public instruction for children and youth. Could he have been given a free hand in accomplishing this combination, he would have redeemed his promise that ten years of it would make a new France. In all this there was no rashness; he expressly declared his wish to proceed with the utmost moderation, and that his main desire was to lay foundations. Could he have been allowed freedom to make a practical beginning of his work, he would soon have produced an environment in which Bourbon autocracy and Jacobin mob rule would have been equally impossible.16

To a very large body of men in his time the reforms of Turgot, and especially this plan for the political education of the French people, seemed madness; but those who best know France to-day, and who look back upon her history without prejudice, will, as a rule, find in this twofold plan a proof that Turgot saw farther than any other man of his time into the needs of his country. However we may dislike his restriction of the suffrage, however we may differ from him regarding details, there would seem to be no question that, had his plan been carried forward, the French nation would, within a generation, have attained what a century of alternating revolutions and despotisms is only now beginning to give.

It should be borne in mind that for over a century and a half before Turgot there had not been a meeting of any body of men representing the French nation, that there was not among the French people any idea of the most ordinary public discussion of political matters, and that the holding of a political meeting in accordance with the simplest rules of order was something beyond French comprehension. This should be remembered by those who think that Turgot should have given universal suffrage at the outset. Two things more should not be forgotten: first, that the number of peasant proprietors was large and increasing; and secondly, that he went farther in giving them power than any other man of note in his time; proposing a beginning from which a more extended suffrage would have been developed naturally and normally.

This, too, should be said for his system. He clearly saw that matters involving taxation in municipalities should be passed upon by the taxpayers themselves, and in this respect he was beyond the point at which our own nation has arrived. No absurdity in modern government is greater than that seen in the American cities, which permits great bodies of people, very many of them recently from foreign climes, ignorant of American duties, devoid of American experience, and consciously paying no taxes at all, to confer franchises and to decide on the expenditures of moneys collected from taxpayers.

On political questions, the rule at which general human experience has arrived is universal suffrage. In municipal matters, which are corporation matters, the rule should be that questions involving the granting of franchises, and the raising and expenditure of taxes, should be settled by taxpayers. Blindness to this fact has made our municipalities the most corrupt in the civilized world. A proper compromise would seem to be the election of mayor and aldermen by the whole body of the people, and the election by taxpayers of a “board of control” or “board of finance,” without whose consent no franchise should be granted, and no tax levied.

A natural effect of Turgot’s reforms was seen in the increasing number of his enemies and their growing bitterness towards him. First of them all was the queen. She persisted in making enormous pecuniary demands for worthless favorites, and in endeavoring to force into the most important places courtiers absolutely unfit. At the very beginning, Turgot had foreseen this, and there still exists the rough draft of a letter to the king, in which, prophesying the dangers which Louis must resist, he had begun a reference to the queen and had then erased it.17 No less virulent was the king’s brother, the Comte de Provence, — a prince who made pretensions to wit and literary ability. He had sided with Turgot in opposing the recall of the Paris Parliament, but now there came from his pen attacks on the great minister, — always contemptuous, and sometimes scurrilous. With the queen and the king’s brother stood the great body of the courtiers. To understand the reasons for their resentment, we have only to look into the “Red Book,” brought to light during the Revolution, and note the enormous sums which all these people drew from the impoverished treasury, and which Turgot endeavored to diminish.18

Very bitter also were the prelates of the Church. Probably the humble rural clergy, who remembered what Turgot had done for their flocks in the Limousin, felt kindly toward him; but the hierarchy, with the exception of two or three who bore him personal friendship, never relaxed their efforts to thwart him.

At an earlier period it might have been otherwise. Various writings by Fénelon, in which he braved the hostility of Louis XIV, show that his great heart would certainly have beat in unison with that of Turgot. Nor is it difficult to believe that Belsunce, the noble archbishop who stood by his people at Marseilles during the plague of 1720-21, religious persecutor though he was, would also have sided with Turgot in a clear question between the peasantry and their debased masters. But the spirit of St. Carlo Borromeo, of Fénelon, and of Belsunce had given place to that of a very different class of prelates. The measure of their fitness as religious teachers had been given in their panegyrics at the death of Louis XV, which, perhaps, did more than all else to undermine their influence.19

The hierarchy was still determined to continue the old persecutions of the Huguenots, their hope being that, by annulling Huguenot marriages, rendering Huguenot children illegitimate, and reviving the long series of other persecutions initiated in Louis XIV’s time, they might drive those who held the new faith from the kingdom.

Most virulent of all, save the queen and bishops, in opposing Turgot’s measures, was the Parliament of Paris. In every way it sought to undermine them. To it are due some of the worst methods of arousing public hate, which later brought the fury of the Revolution upon its members themselves.

To all these should be added the great mass of hangers-on of the court, and of people who profited by the general financial corruption. Typical was the remark of a court lady: “Why these changes? We are perfectly comfortable.” 20

On all sides time-servers fell away from the great reformer more and more, his only friends seeming to be the philosophers and a thinking minority among the people. Pressure and intrigue were steadily brought to bear upon the king, and such machinations were as cunning as were similar plans to undermine Prince Bismarck in our own time; but, unlike these, the efforts made against Turgot were not exposed until too late.

More than once Louis declared that only he and Turgot cared for the people; but about a year and a half after Turgot had become Comptroller-General, and the king had pledged to him hearty support, it was clear that this support was rapidly weakening. First came the resignation of Malesherbes. His services in improving the administration had been beyond price, but he at last lost all hope, both for Turgot’s reforms and for his own. Naturally pessimistic, he complained that Turgot’s desire for the public good was “not merely a passion, but a craze.” Now came the crucial test of the king. The court, in view of the immense patronage of the office which Malesherbes had held, urged as his successor Amelot de Clugny, a contemptible parasite of no ability, sure to thwart the reforms of Malesherbes and to restore the old order. On this Turgot wrote letter after letter to the king, pleading most earnestly, not for himself, but for the reforms which had been accomplished under Malesherbes and which must be lost if Clugny came into power. But the king made no answer, save a cool and insulting demeanor whenever he met the great minister who was trying to save him. Finally, Turgot wrote a letter which has become famous and which still exists, — a letter showing entire respect and deep devotion, but solemnly, heroically, with that power of prophecy which was perhaps his most marvelous gift, reminding the king that it was weakness which had brought Charles the First to the scaffold. As a reply to this letter came a dismissal.

This was in 1776. Turgot had held office twenty-one months, and more than four of these months had been passed mainly in bed under acute suffering. He had done his best; but in vain. No man in the whole history of France had labored with more heroism and foresight to save his country.

His death took place in 1781, five years after his retirement, and his life during this period was worthy of him. He never again appeared at court, but gave himself up mainly to scientific work and philosophical pursuits. Only once during that time did he make any appeal to the government, and this took shape in a suggestion that, for the honor of France, Captain Cook, then upon one of his voyages around the world, should be exempt from the disabilities of other Englishmen during the war then raging. To the credit of French chivalry, this advice was taken.

No sooner had Turgot laid down his high office than a policy of extreme reaction set in. His main reforms were joyfully and malignantly undone. Lampoons against him abounded. Queen, court, nobles, and high clergy devoted themselves with renewed vigor to restoring the old abuses. Thenceforward they flourished, until the Revolution, in a way very different from that proposed by Turgot, dealt with them and with those who had restored them.21

Various arguments have been made against Turgot. First of these is the reactionary charge, that he favored atheism, — that he brought on the Revolution. Any one who has dispassionately viewed the history of that epoch knows these charges to be monstrously unjust; that Turgot was not an atheist is shown abundantly by his writings and his conduct; that he did not bring on revolution is shown by his myriad efforts to produce that environment which alone could prevent revolution.

Next comes the flippant and cynical argument, —one of those epigrams which for a time pass as truths: the charge that in reforming France he dealt as does an anatomist with a corpse, and not as a wise surgeon deals with a living organism. This has been widely repeated, but its falsity is evident to any one who will study Turgot’s work at Limoges, and the statements to the French people which prefaced his most important acts as Comptroller-General. When one compares his work with that of Richelieu and Sully, it becomes clear that no statesman ever realized more deeply than Turgot the needs of all classes of the people, and the necessity of dealing with them as moderately and gently as possible. Nor is there any evidence of any feeling toward the nobility and clergy save an earnest wish to make the changes, which would have been so beneficial to them, as satisfactory as possible. But some remedy to the evils which were destroying France he must administer, and it must be a real remedy. Within twelve years after his death the whole world saw with horror the results of its rejection.

Again, there is the English High Tory argument, best stated by Alison. His main charge is that Turgot was a doctrinaire who wished to rebuild France “on strictly philosophic principles” and on no other. So far from Turgot being a doctrinaire, he was perhaps the most shrewd, practical, far-sighted observer of actual conditions in the entire kingdom. Typical were his long journeys through the rural districts with Gournay, his letters to the country curates, his discussions with the poorest and humblest of peasants who could throw light on the actual conditions of the country. His own reply to the charge that he unduly pressed doctrinaire measures may be found in one of his notes to a hostile keeper of the seals, in 1776, which runs as follows: “I know as well as any one that it is not always advisable to do even the best thing possible, and that, though we should not tire of correcting little by little the defects of an ancient constitution, the work must go forward slowly, in proportion as public opinion and the course of events render changes practicable.” 22

Closely connected with this charge is the statement that his insuccess was due to his lack of finesse with the king, lack of suppleness with the queen and princes of the blood, lack of deference for the nobility and clergy.

But the fact remains that in such desperate cases applications of rose water and burnings of incense cannot be substituted for surgery and cautery. A sufficient answer to the contention for such pleasing treatment is found in the career of Turgot’s successor, Calonne, — the great Calonne, — who, while evidently believing in the fundamental ideas of Turgot, applied them tactfully, deferentially, and soothingly. He it was who said to the queen, “Madam, if what you ask is possible, it is done; if impossible, it shall be done.” He petted and soothed king, queen, court, everybody; delayed every effective operation or remedy, obligingly, — until all found themselves, past help, in the abyss of revolution.23

Still another charge has been made by sundry fanatics of the sort who purpose to bring in extreme democracy by decree rather than by education and practice, — whether in France of the eighteenth century or in the Philippine Islands of the twentieth. They have dwelt upon the statement that he wished “to do everything for the people and nothing by them.” To this it may be answered that the founder of American democracy, Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Adams, speaking of the French people and of their incapacity for governing themselves in the eighteenth century, virtually approved the ideas of Turgot. Those ideas and methods purposed simply to obtain, under the existing constitution of France and through the monarchy as the only practical means, the reforms that were necessary to save the nation from ruin; but, at the same time, by a wide and thorough system of education and by the steady development of political practice in the French bourgeoisie and peasantry, to initiate the entire nation, gradually, into self-government.

Napoleon did, indeed, openly avow and act upon this doctrine imputed to Turgot; but Napoleon’s purpose was not to uplift the French people into fitness for self-government, but to keep them permanently beneath his throne.

The charge of too great haste has also been frequently made against Turgot’s measures, and most powerfully of all by M. Levasseur, Professor of Political Economy and Director at the Collège de France; certainly one of the foremost, if not the foremost, authority on all questions relating to men and measures which concern the commerce and industry of France. While considering Turgot one of the greatest men whom France has produced, he compares him, to his disadvantage, with Richelieu and Colbert. But Richelieu dealt with problems far less complicated than those which fell to the lot of Turgot, and Colbert had twentytwo years in office, under a monarch who stood by him; while Turgot had less than twenty-two months, under a monarch who deserted him. M. Levasseur thinks that Turgot ought to have surmounted the numerous obstacles in his path “little by little and one by one; ” but the eminent economist seems to lose sight of the fact that the opposition to each and every one of his measures was practically as great as that to all combined, and that time was an element of more essential importance in Turgot’s work than it had been in the work of either of the other two great statesmen.

For what Turgot’s friends have called the vigor, and what his critics have called the haste, with which he conducted public affairs, he often gave, in his discussions with friends, a pathetic personal reason, namely, that the Turgots always died in middle life, and that what was to be done he must do at once; this saying proved to be sadly prophetic. But there was a greater, statesmanlike reason. Turgot’s prophetic gift showed him that what he offered was the best chance for France and the last chance for the monarchy; that promptness in decision and vigor in execution had become the only hope; that reforms, to prevent a wild outburst of revolution, must be made then or never.24

Again, sundry good and true men, like M. Leonce de Lavergne, point out minor defects in Turgot’s manner and career which they think mistakes, and, as the crowning mistake of all, the fact that he did not summon the States-General,

All great statesmen have the defects of their qualities, and all make mistakes; but the refusal to summon the StatesGeneral would probably be voted by the vast majority of thinking men, not a mistake, but an evidence of Turgot’s wisdom and foresight. Eight years after Turgot’s death the States-General was summoned, and it plunged France at once into that series of revolutions which has now lasted more than a century. Turgot’s methods were not revolutionary, but evolutionary. He did not believe that a new heaven and a new earth could be brought in by an illiterate mob, whether let loose in a city or throughout a nation. As a historical scholar, he knew that every republic ruled by uneducated masses had ended in despotism. As a practical observer of human affairs, he believed that to have anything like a free government, the first requisite is popular moral and intellectual education, and, as we have seen, his system was shaped toward developing a people who might gradually be fully entrusted with political power. Here again we may cite Thomas Jefferson, whose faith in democracy will hardly be questioned. In those most interesting letters, written toward the end of his life, reviewing events which he had known intimately, he admits that the French were not in his time fit for unlimited democracy.25

Yet another objection is that Turgot lacked tact; and as proof is adduced his final letter to the king, alluding to the fate of Charles I. The answer to this is simple. That final letter was written when Turgot saw that the end had come, that the king was giving himself into the hands of his enemies, that the only remedy must be heroic. Then it was that, like a great prophet of Israel, he firmly pointed to the past and told the king the truth. Looking across the abyss of revolution which separates the France of to-day from the Bourbon monarchy, the utterance seems divinely inspired. Rightly judged, it presents one of the greatest proofs of Turgot’s fitness for his high mission and of his claim upon universal humanity.

And, finally, the objection is made that he failed. As to this, we may simply say that France had come to the parting of the ways. One way seemed hard. It led through reforms soberly planned and steadily developed, over a solid basis of institutions thoughtfully laid and adjusted, hedged in by ideas of duties as well as of rights,lighted by education, — towards constitutional liberty. This was the way planned by Turgot. Theother way seemed easy. But it led first through the stagnant marsh of unreasoning conservatism; then through dykes broken by unreasoning radicalism; then, by a wild rush, through declamation and intrigue; through festivals of fraternity and massacres; through unlimited paper wealth and bottomless bankruptcy; through mob rule and Cæsarism; through sentimentalism and murder ; through atheism and fetichism; through the Red Terror and the White Terror; through the First Empire and the Invasion; through the Second Empire, the Invasion, and the Commune; through proscription at home, wars of conquest abroad, and enormous indemnities to be paid for them; through a whole century of revolutions, — sometimes tragical, sometimes farcical, but always fruitful in new spawn of declaimers and intriguers. At the parting of these two ways stood Turgot, looking far down along them both; marking with clearness of vision what lay in either path; seeing and showing what king, queen, nobility, clergy, and thousands on thousands of French citizens realized only when brought to pauperism, prison, exile, and the guillotine. He wrought and strove like a Titan to mark out the better path, to fit the French people for it, to guide his generation into it, — and in this he failed; but in his failure, he was one of the greatest men the modern world has known.

For, across the revolutionary abyss: through the storms of demagogism and the conquests of imperialism; above the noise of orations heralding new millenniums, — and of drums and cannons dismissing them; — his calm, strong counsel, rejected by the eighteenth century, has been received and developed by the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Every régime since that which perished with the king he tried to save — and not only in France but in all other civilized countries — has been made to hear and heed him. His statue, which looks down upon that great quadrangle in the heart of Paris, — the scene of so much glory and folly, — fitly represents him. Kings, emperors, presidents, have there been welcomed as saviors and dismissed as malefactors; but Turgot, steadily breasting the tides of unreason, remains to point out those principles of liberty, justice, righteousness, tolerance, education, which alone can give to any nation lasting prosperity and true glory.

  1. Previous papers in this series have been devoted to Fra Paolo Sarpi, Hugo Grotius, Christian Thomasius, and, in the preceding number, to Turgot.
  2. The latter utterance is attributed by SainteBeuve to Madame de Pompadour, but there is ample evidence that the king adopted it.
  3. See a remarkable citation from Burke in Alison’s History of Europe, vol. i, chap. 1, on the natural transition from sentimentality to cruelty. A curious inversion of this is seen in our own country, when the same men who will risk their lives to lynch a murderer just after his crime is committed will, as jurymen, a few months later, after hearing a cunning speech, acquit him, — and with tears of joy.
  4. See Foncin, Le Ministère de Turgot, livre ii, chap. 10.
  5. The recall took place November 12, 1774.
  6. For the alleged Pacte de Famine, and the history of Prévost de Beaumont, the most complete account I have found is in Afannassiev, Le Commerce de Grains en France au 18ième Siècle, chaps, xiv, xv. For Louis XV’s interest in the grain monopoly, and for Prévost, see also Henri Martin, Histoire de France, tome xvi, pp. 292-296.
  7. See the admirable little book of Higgs, The Physiocrats. For the above statement he cites such eminent authorities as Levasseur and Lavergne. For the best statement known to me on this whole subject, see Taine, Ancien Régime; and for the best summary known to me in English, see Lecky, History of England, vol. v, citing Rocquain, Doniol, and others.
  8. For the disintegration of the Roman Empire by burdens upon leading tax payers, see Guizot, Histoire de la Civilisation en France; and for a comparison of the tax collectors with the Curiales just before the end of the Roman Empire, see E. Levasseur, Histoire des Classes Ouvrières, as above, tome ii, p. 710.
  9. One of the most satisfactory accounts, within reasonable compass, of the old French system of taxation, which I have found, is in Esmein, Histoire du Droit Français, Paris, 1901, pp. 380 ff., 552 ff. For excellent short and clear statements regarding the taille, contrainte solidaire, and the “ five great fermes,”— the latter being the taxes collected by the Farmers General, — see Rambaud, Histoire de la Civilisa-tion Française, Paris, 1897, chap. ix. See also, for the best presentation of the subject in its relations to French industry, Levasseur, as above.
  10. For the protest and complaint of the nobles at the States General of 1614, see Duruy,Histoire de France, tome ii, pp. 236, 237.
  11. For special cases in this growth of human folly, see Duruy, Histoire de France, tome ii. For the development of the system, see Levasseur, tome ii, passim.
  12. See Alison, History of Europe, vol. i, chap. 3.
  13. For a striking, but entirely trustworthy, statement of this system of farming the taxes, see Foncin, Le Ministère de Turgot, liv. i, chap. 6. See also Esmein and Rambaud, as above. Also for a very complete, thorough, and critical study, see R. P. Shepherd, in his “ Turgot and the Six Edicts,” Political Science Quarterly of Columbia University, vol iv. For a list of pensions paid by each of the sixty Farmers General, with names of recipients, and amounts received, see Neymarck, Turgot et ses Doctrines, tome ii, appendix.
  14. On Turgot’s policy regarding lotteries, see Foncin.
  15. A copy of the rare first edition of Boncerf’s book is to be found in the Library of Cornell University.
  16. For Turgot’s plan of political education, see Œuvres de Turgot, tome ii, pp. 502-550. For a good summary, see Stephens, Life of Turgot, pp. 113, 114; and for an eloquent statement of Turgot’s Memorial and its probable effects, see Duruy, Histoire de France, tome ii, p. 567. The present writer had the fortune to take part in discourse with various ministers who served Napoleon III during different epochs of the Second Empire, and afterward, and to observe closely their doings ; and never did he find one who, in his department, seemed to embody so thoroughly the spirit of Turgot as did Duruy.
  17. For the striking out of a reference to the queen, see Léon Say’sLife of Turgot, Anderson’s translation.
  18. For an example of the impudent manner in which the Bourbon princes of the blood demanded that money should be ladled out to them from the treasury, see a letter to Turgot from the Comte de Provence, in Levasseur, Histoire des Classes Ouvrieres, tome ii, pp. 611, 612, notes. A copy of the “ Red Book,” in the Cornell University Library, gives monstrous examples of the way in which money was thus demanded and paid.
  19. There is in the Library of Cornell University a very remarkable volume in which have been bound together a large number of these sermons at the death of Louis XV, lauding, magnifying, and justifying his character, and, of all things in the universe, his religious character, and comparing him to David and other approved personages in Scripture.
  20. See Droz, tome i, p. 206, cited by Alison.
  21. For attacks on Turgot before and after his downfall, in the shape of pamphlets, verses, songs, and general ridicule, see Gomel, Les Causes Financières de la Révolution Française, pp. 206 ff.; also Foncin, as above, liv. iii, chap. xvii.
  22. See citation in Say’s Turgot, Anderson’s translation, p. 105.
  23. For an excellent comparison between Turgot and Calonne in this respect, see Say, Anderson’s translation, p. 206.
  24. For M. Levasseur’s judgment upon Turgot in which the above criticism is made, see his Histoire des Classes Ouvrières, tome ii, pp. 606 et seq. It is, of course, with the greatest diffidence that I presume to differ from so eminent an authority, but possibly one looking at the history of France from a distance may occasionally get nearer the truth than would a far more eminent authority immediately on the ground. The traveler who looks at Mont Blanc from a distance may obtain a clearer idea of its relations to the peaks which surround it than can one who dwells at the foot of the mountain.
  25. See Leonce de Lavergne,Les Économistes Français du Dix-Huitième siècle, essay on Turgot, passim, and especially p. 253.