See Honore Mirabeau, Les Lettres de cachet et des prisons d'etat (Hamburg, 1782), written in the dungeon at Vincennes into which his father had thrown him by a lettre de cachet, one of the ablest and most eloquent of his works, which had an immense circulation and was translated into English with a dedication to the duke of Norfolk in 1788; Frantz Funck-Brentano, Les Lettres de cachet d Paris (Paris, 1904); and Andre Chassaigne, Les Lettres de cachet sous l'ancien regime (Paris, 1903).
As to the marquess, his use of lettres de cachet is perfectly defensible on the theory of lettres de cachet, and Mirabeau, if any son, surely deserved such correction.
SIMON NICHOLAS HENRI LINGUET (1736-1794), French journalist and advocate, was born on the 14th of July 1736, at Reims, whither his father, the assistant principal in the College de Beauvais of Paris, had recently been exiled by lettre de cachet for engaging in the Jansenist controversy.
The police, instituted in 1667 by La Reynie, became a public force independent of magistrates and under the direct orders of the ministers, making the arbitrary royal and ministerial authority absolute by means of lettres de cachet (qv.), which were very convenient for the government and very terrible for the individuals concerned.
Lettres de cachet were abolished by the Constituent Assembly, but Napoleon reestablished their equivalent by a political measure in the decree of the 9th of March 1801 on the state prisons.
After a period of work in Holland he betook himself to England, where his treatise on lettres de cachet had been much admired, being translated into English in 1787, and where he was soon admitted into the best Whig literary and political society of London, through his old schoolfellow Gilbert Elliot, who had now inherited his father's baronetcy and estates, and become a leading Whig member of parliament.
In the case of organized bodies lettres de cachet were issued for the purpose of enjoining members to assemble or to accomplish some definite act; the provincial estates were convoked in this manner, and it was by a lettre de cachet (called lettre de jussion) that the king ordered a parlement to register a law in the teeth of its own remonstrances.
The lettre de cachet belonged to the class of lettres closes, as opposed to lettres patentes, which contained the expression of the legal and permanent will of the king, and had to be furnished with the seal of state affixed by the chancellor.
The cachet of the Fukagawa atelier was indiscriminately applied to all such pieces, and has probably proved a source of confusion to collectors.
Protests against the lettres de cachet were made continually by the parlement of Paris and by the provincial parlements, and often also by the States-General.