Page:Democracy in America (Reeve, v. 1).djvu/335

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herbes, speaking in the name of the Cour des Aides, said to Louis XIV.[1]

“. . . . . . Every corporation and every community of citizens, retained the right of administering its own affairs; a right which not only, forms part of the primitive constitution of the kingdom, but has a still higher origin; for it is the right of nature, and of reason. Nevertheless your subjects. Sire, have been deprived of it; and we cannot refrain from saying that in this respect your government has fallen into puerile extremes. From the time when powerful ministers made it a political principle to prevent the convocation of a national assembly, one consequence has succeeded another, until the deliberations of the inhabitants of a village are declared null when they have not been authorized by the Intendant. Of course, if the community has an expensive undertaking to carry through, it must remain under the control of the sub-delegate of the Intendant, and consequently follow the plan he proposes, employ his favourite workmen, pay them according to his pleasure; and if an action at law is deemed necessary, the Intendant's permission must be obtained. The cause must be pleaded before this first tribunal, previous to its being carried into a public court; and if the opinion of the Intendant is opposed to that of the inhabitants, or if their adversary enjoys his favour, the community is deprived of the power of defending its rights. Such are the means. Sire, which have been exerted to extinguish the municipal spirit in France; and to stifle, if possible, the opinions of the citizens. The nation may be said to lie under an interdict, and to be in wardship under guardians.”

What could be said more to the purpose at the present

  1. See ‘Mémoires pour servir à l'Histoire du Droit Public de la France en matière d'impôts,’ p. 654, printed at Brussels in 1779.