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Descended from a family which had long been distinguished at the bar and in connection with the parlements of France, he was destined for the legal profession and was educated at the college of Juilly. He then became a counsellor of the parlement of Paris, and witnessed many of the incidents that marked the growing hostility between that body and Louis XVI in the years preceding the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789.
His views were those of a moderate reformer, who desired to renovate but not to end the institutions of the old monarchy; and his memoirs set forth in a favorable light the actions of that parlement, the existence of which was soon to be terminated amid the political storms of the close of the year 1789. For some time, and especially during the Reign of Terror (1793-1794), Pasquier remained in obscurity; but this did not save him from arrest in the year 1794. He was thrown into prison shortly before the coup d'état of Thermidor (July 1794) which overthrew Robespierre. In the reaction in favor of ordinary government which ensued Pasquier regained his liberty and his estates. He did not re-enter the public service until the period of the Empire, when the arch-chancellor Cambaers used his influence with Napoleon to procure for him the office of maître des requets to the council of state.
In 1809 he became baron of the French Empire, and in February 1810 counsellor of state. Napoleon in 1810 made him prefect of police. The chief event which ruffled the course of his life at that time was the strange conspiracy of the republican general Malet (Oct. 1812), who, giving out that Napoleon had perished in Russia, managed to surprise and capture some of the ministers and other authorities at Paris, among them Pasquier. The collapse of this bold attempt enabled him, however, speedily to regain his liberty.
When Napoleon abdicated in April 1814 Pasquier continued to exercise his functions for a few days in order to preserve order, and then resigned the prefecture of police, whereupon Louis XVIII allotted to him the control of roads and bridges. He took no share in the imperial restoration at the time of the Hundred Days (1815), and after the second entry of Louis XVIII into Paris he became minister of the interior, but finding it impossible to work with the hot-headed royalists of the Chamber of Deputies (La Chambre introuvable), he resigned office. Under the more moderate ministers of succeeding years he again held various appointments, but refused to join the reactionary cabinets of the close of the reign of Charles X.
After the July Revolution (1830) he became president of the Chamber of Peers a post which he held through the whole of the reign of Louis Philippe (1830-1848). In 1842 he was elected a member of the French Academy, and in the same year was created a duke. After the overthrow of Louis Philippe in February 1848, Pasquier retired from active life and set to work to compile the notes and reminiscences of his long and active career. He died in 1862.
See Mémoires du Chancelier Pasquier (6 vols., Paris, 1893-1895; partly translated into English, 4 vols., London, 1893-1894). Also L de Vieilcastel, Histoire de la Restauration, vols. i.iv.
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