Linguet, "Attack on the Nobility" from Annales politiques (1789)
A kind of dialogue was printed . . . it is a text that needs to be studied. "The King could manage without you, said the Marshal of France. The Gentleman replies: What do you mean by that? WHAT WOULD THE KING BE WITHOUT THE NOBILITY?" People admired this passage . . . [but] it is considered as a real insult to the rest of the Nation.
What! Some Gentlemen from Dauphiné dared to ask what the King of France would do at the end of the eighteenth century without the Nobility? What would He be? He would be what He is: a Sovereign; the venerated Chief of a brave, industrious, polite, and faithful people. The Nobility probably constitutes a distinguished part [of that people], but if this part was eliminated, would everyone else be wiped out? . . .
The Nobility were hardly bearable in the times when they constituted with the Clergy the Political Body. If you wanted to be a renowned citizen, you had to be a Baron or a Priest. Then these Barons personally took care of the soldiers based on their domains. They could then call themselves the true supports of the throne and it was worthy to allow them so many privileges. At that time, this active class was legitimated by the real services given to the State.