The old courtier Maurepas, jealous of Turgot and desirous of remaining a minister himself, refrained from defending his colleague; and when Turgot, who never knew how to give in, spoke of establishing assemblies of freeholders in the communes and the provinces, in order to relax the tension of over-centralization, Louis XVI., who never dared to pass from sentiment to action, sacrificed his minister to the rancour of the queen, as he had already sacrificed Malesherbes (1776).
Others attribute it to the queen, and there is no doubt that she hated Turgot for supporting Vergennes in demanding the recall of the comte de Guines, the ambassador in London, whose cause she had ardently espoused at the prompting of the Choiseul clique.
Turgot, on hearing of this, wrote an indignant letter to the king, in which he reproached him for refusing to see him, pointed out in strong terms the dangers of a weak ministry and a weak king, and complained bitterly of Ailaurepas's irresolution and subjection to court intrigues; this letter the king, though asked to treat it as confidential, is said to have shown to Maurepas, whose dislike for Turgot it still further embittered.
In character Turgot was simple, honourable and upright, with a passion for justice and truth.
Dupont, however, made various alterations in the text, in order to bring it more into accordance with Quesnay's doctrines, which led to a coolness between him and Turgot (see G.
Quesnay and Mirabeau had advocated a proportional tax (impot de quotite), but Turgot a distributive tax (impot de repartition).
It may be noted that Turgot always made the cures the agents of his charities and reforms when possible.
Another reform was the substitution for the corvee of a tax in money levied on the whole province, the construction of roads being handed over to contractors, by which means Turgot was able to leave his province with a good system of roads, while distributing more justly the expense of their construction.
All might yet have gone well if Turgot could have retained the confidence of the king, but the king could not fail to see that Turgot had not the support of the other ministers.
After tracing the origin of commerce, Turgot develops Quesnay's theory that the land is the only source of wealth, and divides society into three classes, the productive or agricultural, the salaried (stipendiee) or artisan class, and the land-owning class (classe disponible).