D URING the second half of the seventeenth and the firsthalf of the eighteenth centuries the influence of Colbert was paramount in French economic policy. Colbert believed in State omnicompetence so far as industrial and commercial regulation was concerned, and called forth the famous protest of the merchants of his day, " Laissez faire, laissez passer." But in the second half of the eighteenth century there began a definite reaction from the State regulation of trade and industry towards freer trad-e. The philosophes, particularly the physiocrats, inspired the movement; ministers of State, such as Turgot, took up the ideas; and the government of the ancien regime was sufficiently autocratic to be able to put those ideas into force against the will of industrialists and merchants. The chief token of the ministerial conversion was the famous Anglo-French Commercial Treaty of 1786, which reduced the century-old prohibitive duties on trade between France and England and by the great increase of trade helped to bring about the economic crisis in France which paved the way to the outbreak of 1789. The conversion of the ministers had not meant the conversion of the merchants, and when the Revolution put the middle classes into power this policy of economic liberalism was speedily reversed. In fact, one of the great reputed sins of the ancien regime was its freer trade policy. The comparatively low tariff of 1791 was followed by the almost prohibitive tariff of 1793, which in some features anticipated Napoleon's famous Continental System. The law of October 9, 1793, forbade entirely the importation of English commodities.