Born in 1734 at Douai, Charles Alexander de Calonne belonged to a family of magistrates of repute and influence in their province; he commenced his hereditary career by the perfidious manoeuvres which contributed to the ruin of M. de la Chalotais.
M. de Calonne, an ambitious young man, the declared foe of M. de la Chalotais, was appointed attorney-general on the commission. He pretended to have discovered grave facts against the accused; he was suspected of having invented them.
This haughty affirmation of absolute power, a faithful echo of Cardinal Richelieu's grand doctrines, succeeded for a while in silencing the representations of the Parliaments; but it could not modify the course of opinion, passionately excited in favor of M. de la Chalotais.
Under the administration of the Duke of Duras, the agitation subsided in the province; the magistrates who had resigned resumed their seats; M. de la Chalotais and his son, M. de Caradeuc, alone remained excluded by order of the king. The restored Parliament immediately made a claim on their behalf, accompanying the request with a formal accusation against the Duke of Aiguillon.
"We shall have the satisfaction," said the edict, "of finding nobody guilty, and nothing will remain for us but to take such measures as shall appear best adapted to completely restore and maintain tranquillity in a province from which we have on so many occasions had proofs of zeal for our service." M. de la Chalotais and his comrades were exiled to Saintes.
The noblesse having yielded in the states, the Parliament of Rennes gave in their resignation in a body. Five of its members were arrested; at their head was the attorney-general, M. de la Chalotais, author of a very remarkable paper against the Jesuits. It was necessary to form at St. Malo a King's Chamber to try the accused.
He banished De Choiseul, Malesherbes, and Chalotais; and in their stead elevated the Maurepas, the D'Aiguillons, and that hateful Abbe Terray, who, for rapacity, were none of them better than Du Barry and thus he ended by losing the love of his subjects. I have often pitied Louis XV. for degrading himself as he did before the eyes of his family, his subjects, and the world.
The other is less known, communicates himself to nobody, is suspected of deep policy and deep designs, but seems to intend to set out under a mask of very smooth varnish; for he has just obtained the payment of all his bitter enemy La Chalotais' pensions and arrears.
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